Friday, August 7, 2020

Video Poem: A fly's freedom

I was inspired to write this when I was catching a fly to release outside. My usual technique is to isolate the fly in the room I am in (easy when I'm in my bedroom using my laptop), and then open the curtains on the window, or the window itself so that fresh air comes in. The fly's deepest longing (if I judge by behavior), is to be outside. It will fly to that window even though it is closed, and spend its time there.

The fly doesn't understand how the human world works, and is just trying to do what it knows best. It's actually doing the wrong thing sometimes by staying near the window. If there's a door open somewhere else in the house, it should just find the door and fly out the house. But it doesn't know any better, and just thinks (or acts like it thinks): the appearance of freedom shows where you get freedom.

Sometimes this leads to the death of flies. I used to kill flies when I saw them on the window, rather than catch them and release them. So in that version of the human environment, the desire for freedom, seeking it the best way the flies knew how, led to death. They should have increased their intelligence and flown nearby the front door, so that they could slip out whenever the humans opened it.

But because I am actually a good person with respect to the fly's desire for life and freedom, the environment that I create makes it so that when the fly, unjustified though it may be in assuming this, thinks (or "thinks"), "I will go toward freedom -- it's right there, I can see it -- I can smell the fresh air -- somehow that's the way out", it's actually a trustworthy move for the fly to make, in ways that it does not understand.

I approach the fly with a small glass cup and put the cup over the area on the window or screen that the fly is on. The fly thinks the cup is prison, and it is. It takes off -- some flies more untrusting than others -- flies around inside the cup. Eventually, it lands on the inner surface of the cup long enough for me to quickly pick up the cup and put my hand over the opening. Now the fly is very much a prisoner, and is taken far away from the promise of freedom, through the rest of the house to the door.

I open the door and keep the fly inside its transport, and then step outside and close the door, so that if I release the fly it doesn't go straight back into the ultimately unwelcoming human environment. Then I take it down to the most favorable part of the back yard, near the compost heap, which I assume is where a fly would most like to be, and where I assume it is best to be a fly -- although flies are perfectly capable of getting around, to seek their own best environments. Then I let the fly go. Sometimes it takes a moment to grasp that it is free, or I help it out of the glass cup. And then it flies away.

Because the fly looks for freedom so predictably, I was able to capture and imprison it, and give it true freedom.

An MSLN view: we might have different intuitions about life depending on whether we find ourselves in the presence of a beneficent super-human environment (whatever is beyond human agency and/or our ability to sufficiently mentally grasp), or a negative one. The MSLN assumption is that we should adjust our priors in the direction that there is a being who would be inclined to help us, and might do so. And so if that is true, we should go toward freedom, like a fly trying to escape the spacious prison of a house.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Over time, I have somewhat struggled to express my thoughts about this topic, which I consider sensitive and important. So more than other posts, it's probably best to read all of the links on this page, or at least the following in blockquotes. Let me know if you don't understand something. I will probably try to rewrite this (likely, much of the MSLN material) at some point.

An important addendum here.

Is it okay to not listen to some voices?

What would it feel like to harden yourself?

Some discussion of emotional regimes as they relate to hardening.

Edited to improve wording.

27 May 2021: added mention of the danger of hate, and made other minor edits.

There's an important oversight in Motivational Structure which I want to address here.

In the New Wine System (the "N" of MSLN), it is believed that the people who don't make it to heaven are those who close themselves off to Jesus' voice, which teaches them to be righteous and more spiritually mature. People harden (even becoming completely hardened) because they are very uninterested in God on a deeper level, are no longer interested in trusting and therefore connecting to reality on the deepest level, or have come to hate Jesus, are an enemy of him, and are no longer interested in hearing what he has to say.

If you hear all this and care about whether you care about Jesus' voice and about the possibility of hardening, then you still have Jesus' voice speaking to you. The voice is not necessarily something you read or hear, but can be, and is essentially what you hear in your inner self, deep down, as you live your life. But if you don't care, you're in danger of hardening yourself. What this means is that it is dangerous to be complacent. If you're worried, you're not complacent. But if you aren't worried, or aren't disposed to grow, you may be complacent. It is also dangerous to hate, to throw away reality.

Does this translate to the "MSL" parts of MSLN? God in those frames is someone with whom we must come into tune in order to share eternity with him. It is in God's interests to actively shape us as he interacts with us. Ultimately he is the one who tells us how to grow into tune with him. So, we can listen to his voice, or not. And if we stop listening to his voice, we can't save ourselves, since part of being saved is being open to God's work in us. We are disposed to becoming like God, or not, and if we become complacent, we may lose the ability for our dispositions to change in his direction.

What this means for the motivational structure is that not only do you have a deadline somewhere "1000+ years" in the future, but if you don't remain open to the process of pursuing it, you may lose out. You have to value pursuing it, even if you aren't good at achieving it in the near term. What you fear is not failing to measure up to the standard which is required of you, but failing to care about seeking to measure up. If you fear, and continue to seek, then you are still open. But if you don't fear, or don't seek, then you are in danger. No one is not competent enough to care (to fear and seek). Even if you aren't an emotional person, as long as you can make decisions, you can care through those. If, through some disability apart from who you really are, you can't make decisions or have emotions, then God can give you a new body someday so that you do, if you are at least minimally disposed to seek him. If you hope in this, this is a disposition of seeking.

People are motivated both by having a big task ahead of them, and also by fear for their well-being. In MSLN, both are present, in ways that have strength but are also reasonable. There is a fear that is far off in the future, and a fear that is as close as death, for those who do not fear.