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Archive for March, 2013

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who will tread the path of death
when the laughter of haughty barbarians
fill the air that stinks with the smell
of sweat and burps of cheap liquor
amid a carousing crowd at the thick
of a revelry to celebrate a distorted life?

who will embrace the two-edged sword
of desperation when fear reigns high
in the heart of an impostor escaping
from the sight of a deep ravine
and now makes his way towards the womb
of the dark forest that surrounds
the mire of death ready to swallow even his soul?

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Smash the dividing wall betwixt reality and fantasy

And pass over the bridge that hangs across a misty gulf

Let your mind enfold the breadth of your being

And feel the warmth that flows from within your heart.

 

Celebrate the splendor of the night in its passionate dance

With the enigma of darkness that no light can pierce.

Fear not to walk on the unlit path as you are guided

By the energies of past ages that now fill your soul.

 

~Ruel F. Pepa

29 March 2013

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Shadows of Nothing borne on the wings of darkness,

Shall we penetrate the walls of this ghastly illusion?

Light the fire of your wildest imagination and burn it

With your heart’s desire until the charred remains are blown

Beyond the periphery of cosmic expectations.

 

Let us learn to love the silence of the heart

That has mastered and tamed the intense passion within

For there’s no one to listen to the muffled sound of desperation

In the moment of one’s most wretched condition

When hope has been eclipsed in the stillness of an endless night.

 

~Ruel F. Pepa, 28 March 2013

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 Lift the veil and expose the invisible.

Measure its lines in all dimensions.

Raise your head and look beyond

The boundaries of the unseen.

Don’t give up for in doing so

You find your soul in the midst

Of the boundless and the immeasurable.

 

Where do we go from here beyond

The pathless labyrinth of the unknown realm?

Who will lead us away from this mess

Of unconnected trails where chaotic arrows

Hit each other across the borderless space?

Rise up and prepare yourself to meet

The warrior within as it stirs your sanity.

 

Come to my fold now and let’s gather our strength

For the battle is fierce and we need to hold the fort

As the enemies approach silently in darkness

And we need to guard our ranks with iron will

Never daunted by the violent tumults

Heard from uncharted distances and carried

By the torrents of the ferocious deep.

 

~Ruel F. Pepa, 27 March 2013

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ON TIME

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“Space and time are the framework within which the mind is constrained to construct its experience of reality.” ~Immanuel Kant

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“Time is the greatest and the most difficult riddle which confronts mankind.

“Kant regards time in the same way as he regards space, as a purely subjective form of our perception. He says that, conditioned as we are by the properties of our perceiving apparatus, we create time as a convenience for perception of the outside world. Reality is continuous and constant. But in order to be able to perceive it, we must break it up into separate moments, i.e. represent it to ourselves as an endless series of separate moments, out of which one and one only exists for us. In other words, we perceive reality as though through a narrow slit. What we see through this slit, we call the present; what we saw but see no longer, we call the past; and what we do not see at all but expect to see, we call the future.

“Examining each phenomenon as the outcome of another one, or several others, and this in its turn, as the cause of still another, or others, i.e. examining all phenomena in their mutual functional relationship, we, by this very fact, examine them in time because, quite clearly and distinctly, we first visualize the cause and then the effect – first the action, then its function – and we cannot think of it otherwise. So for us the idea of time is essentially connected with the idea of causation and functional interdependence. Causation cannot exist without time, just as motion or absence of motion cannot exist without time.” ~P.D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World

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Time . . . So much has been written about it both casually and seriously, in short and lengthy essays even in books, both slim and voluminous. We have seen how the issue of time is discussed scientifically and philosophically. But written and discussed or not, time is something embedded in the human condition. In the course of human experience on earth, time is indubitably a necessary component of our daily lives. In fact, there is no need to talk about time as a subject matter to bring out the kernel of its significance. The signification of time does not therefore require a high degree of intellectual orientation to grasp. The importance of time is in the lifeblood of our existence, so to speak.

We do things in time (and of course in space which is inseparably connected with time in most if not in all cases). We have schedules to accomplish things and deadlines to beat. We have appointments and dates that could lead to terribly disastrous outcomes if not conscientiously considered and attended to. We have a way to explain our present condition as the result of what we did in the past. We can logically approximate what could most likely happen tomorrow or in the next week, month or year ahead of us on the basis of what we do in the present. We are homo temporalis—being-in-time. We cannot do away with time because it is an aspect of our being’s essence.

Physically, we have invented and utilized instrumentalities of time measurement and time reference for practical purposes in relation to how we manage our lives and circumstances in terms of achievement requirements within certain timeframes. In the process, we have viewed time objectively. In this context, time is objective. In a state of affairs where time is of utmost essence, delay is catastrophic. This instance we find in industrial and commercial operations where plans and actions are hinged on business policies that place maximum weight on the value of time. Time synchronization within the complex network of a technological operation wherein a minute miscalculation in time programming could result to an enormous tragic conclusion is a perfect example of how the objectivity of time extremely counts.

“Hard” objective-physical time is something of which we are not in control. In fact, this is the leading factor that has set in motion the industrial age or the second-wave civilization (using Alvin Toffler’s terminology in his bestseller The Third Wave) that defines what we call in the history of human civilization, the modern era. “Hard” objective-physical time has become the “cultural dictator” of the economic superstructure in both capitalist and socialist societies. The dynamics of industrialization are intertwined with the imminence of time.

Prior to the industrial age was the pre-modern era or the agricultural age—in Toffler’s parlance, the first-wave civilization—wherein objective physical time was “soft” and not as strictly viewed and implemented as in the industrial era. In this context, the human factor was yet exercising some degree of personal control over the “soft” objective-physical time through a pattern of movements wherein the spontaneity of habits was endowed with the capability “to read the stars and the seasons,” so to speak. There was no factory schedule requiring workers to be in the workplace from 8 am to 5 pm or beyond. In the agricultural era, the work schedule was not strictly based on the clock. There was not so much stress on being late to work, for work in the field was largely determined by climate and weather conditions. In a general sense, it could be said that time was more flexible in the hands of the one who used it and the routine of works to be accomplished did not have the burdensome characteristics of how things are done in modern industrial “smokestacks.”

Two concepts of objective-physical time—“hard” and “soft”—have just been discussed and we are yet on the surface of the issue at hand. Looking at the other side of objective physical time is its subjective-personal counterpart. It is time within the emotional landscape of our being. It is where subjective and personal attitudes toward states of affairs determine the length or shortness of time. On the one hand, the waiting time for an exceedingly desired event gets too excruciatingly long and slow as one wants the said event to immediately occur. On the other hand, time becomes too fast when one is not specifically immersed in a significant undertaking and time just passes spontaneously without getting especially concerned about it. So that at a certain point of time, we become conscious of it and comment, “Oh how the days have passed so quickly and it’s weekend again.”

In this sense, time becomes arbitrary; a situation that does not require and is not conditioned by any instrumentality of time measurement and/or time reference. As if the longevity and shortness of time is determined by certain subjective “energies” whose non-physical locus is confined in the psychical realm of feelings and personal approximations.

But whether time is objective-physical or subjective-personal, the reference point is always reckoned in the present. In both instances, time provides the parameters to effect a signification of events and circumstances even if an event is said to belong to the past and hence historical because history is in itself a signification of events of the past in the present time. This consideration brings to mind the three conventional phases of time: past, present, future.  And having gotten used with the “reality” of the present as something “unquestionably given,” what about the past and the future? How “real” are they?

If we look at “reality” in terms of being actually experienced here and now, it is only the present that is real. But this may not be accurate for the events of the past were also matters of experience and hence real. We therefore have a strong line of argument to assume that the past and the present ought to be considered as real. But it could likewise be argued that the “reality” of the past rests on the fact that once upon a time it was then a “present”. In other words, what we consider now as “past in the present” is also “present in the past.” And by way of self-reflexivity at this point in time, the past is deemed to be real as it is brought to present awareness and thus thematized through the operation of memory. The non-thematic past is therefore unreal and may only be “brought back to reality” by the process of thematization whose elements of thought are drawn from memory. In this connection, we return to the notion that the only temporal locus that renders reality to states of affairs is the present. Events and circumstances of the past have to be rehearsed in the present to render reality to them. In the process, it is only the thematized past that becomes real as it is brought to the present for it is only by virtue of the reality of the present that the breath of life is breathed into the past to make it real.

But what about the future; how real is it? The future is conventionally considered as a time phase along with the past and the present but it is only descriptive of all possibilities that are supposed to happen after the present. The “future” is only a linguistic convenience NOT to bring to mind actual “future events and circumstances” because such “events and circumstances” are non-existent and unreal but solely to express ambitions, desires, dreams, expectations, needs, wants and wishes. In philosophic terms it is said that ontologically, the future is no-thing, nothing. And even if we thematize future events in the present, there is no way to get to their actual reality at this very present moment. In other words, the present does not have the metaphysical power to realize the future at the present point in time.

It does not however mean that the “unreality” of the future renders it totally insignificant. The so-called “insignificance” of the future is also an expression of linguistic convenience in the face of the fact that the future is presently nothing. The present conceptualization of events desired in and for the future is in itself a significant exercise of human creativity under normal circumstances. It is the present reality of being able to conceive one’s desires and wishes, dreams and ambitions that makes human life exciting and worth living. In this sense, we say that human life is characterized by the real and the unreal but it is the challenge of the unreal to bring it to reality that sustains the meaningfulness of human life. The future is unreal but it is the challenge of such unreality that makes the present always open to possibilities.

In conclusion, let me quote the full text of my short essay, “The Artist as a Philosopher (or the Philosopher as an Artist) before the Canvas of Nothing” [from my book SOPHOPHILIA, p. 77 . . . http://issuu.com/kspt/docs/sophophilia]

 What is so philosophical–deeply philosophical–about the artist but her/his enormous capability to be excited/elated/exhilarated by the challenges of the Nothing. S/he looks at the blank canvas before her/him not as nothing but as a space of unlimited possibilities–a Nothing, a not-yet, a Becoming–that belongs to the future. The present Nothing promises a future Being—Nothing Becoming Being.

 And all depends on a creativity that is purely human–a creativity that merges with a sense of the future that is likewise absolutely human, no more no less. Had this not been so, humanity couldn’t have seen the wonders of comfort, sophistication, information and ease that revolve around the present reality like a merry-go-round in a seemingly endless carnival of life.

 Human creativity . . . a sense of the future . . . a philosophical defiance of certain programmed limitations where nothing is nothing, where zero is nothing. Rather, a philosophical affirmation that Nothing is something–that Zero is significant in the formation of hundreds, thousands, millions . . . ad infinitum.

The artist guides the philosopher. . . . May the former find inspiration in the latter. At the end of the day, may the artist find a common convergence point with the philosopher so that the two become one.

SUGGESTED READINGS:

Space & Time: Kant’s Transcendental Idealism by Michael Mohr, Mikkel Abildtoft, Valdemar Stokholm, Hanna Sandvik and Hans Munck-Westh . . . http://rudar.ruc.dk/bitstream/1800/4216/1/3.1.1.%20Group%2011%20-%20Space%20%26%20Time%20Kant%27s%20Transcendental%20Idealism.pdf

Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness by Henri Bergson . . . http://archive.org/stream/timeandfreewilla00berguoft#page/n13/mode/2up

Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World by P. D. Ouspensky (specifically Chapter 4) . . .http://issuu.com/ruel56/docs/tertium_organum_-_ouspensky

©Ruel F. Pepa, 25 March 2013

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Every statement we make is intentional, purposive. We describe states of affairs; we ask questions; we request for some things to be done; we praise good deeds; we blame ourselves and others; we express elation and disappointment; we give our opinions and suggestions, solicited or otherwise; we invite others to join our cause; we convince others with our arguments. We express ourselves in so many ways and in various instances and contexts and when we do so, our fundamental objective is to communicate—to make ourselves understandable in what we intend to say. In other words, we do things with words. [cf. J. L. Austin’s How to do Things with Words, http://www.dwrl.utexas.edu/~davis/crs/rhe321/Austin-How-To-Do-Things.pdf] We use language to communicate our intentions and being so, L. Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations [cf. http://gormendizer.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Ludwig.Wittgenstein.-.Philosophical.Investigations.pdf] is precise to preclude a “private language” understood only by a single person. Language is for the purpose of communication and hence public.

In Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics [cf. http://home.wlu.edu/~levys/courses/anth252f2006/saussure.pdf], the matter of language is not only reckoned in terms of speech or the use of language (in de Saussure’s term, “parole”) but more significantly in terms of the system of language beneath what is spoken or heard (in de Saussure’s term, “langue”). Focusing on the latter, de Saussure asserts that the system of language is a system of signs wherein a sign is a condition that necessarily connects a word with a concept. When we use language (parole), a particular sign or word which is vocalized, heard (with its specific sound pattern) and understood by the mind on the one hand is known as the “signifier.” On the other hand, the idea or the concept for which the sign stands is known as the “signified.” Both the signifier and the signified constitute an inseparably bi-conditional state of affairs in the linguistic landscape of human capabilities more specifically in the area of communication. One understands what the other says whether such is addressed to the former or not because both of them share a “linguistic milieu” where they originally belong to or wherein they are “at home” by adaptation. In Wittgenstein’s term, they share a common “language-game.”

Ethno-linguistic identification, specialized group connection, professional association, career classification, games and amusement involvement and others are contextual references that define in specific terms the facility of communication effected between and among individuals. As a case in point, a certain word could be used by an accountant and a medical doctor but spontaneous communication cannot be automatically assumed considering the fact that they basically have two distinct professional systems of language (langue) where the signifier of one system does not cohere with the signified of the other system. The professional language-game of the accountant is essentially distinct from that of the medical doctor. In this condition, communication between the two parties become possible only by way of a common non-professional linguistic context to which they ought to resort for a well-effected communication and wherein each of them is given the opportunity to define in simplest terms possible what one wants to communicate to the other.

In a situation of conversation, it is never awkward for one to ask the other, “What do you mean by that?” In fact, it is essentially philosophical to do so. In argumentation and debate, it is a fundamental task to clarify at the onset certain terms deemed to be crucial in the proposition to be resolved. And this is one profound merit we find in the so-called “defining philosophy” of the Anglo-American school of linguistic analytic philosophy specifically its “ordinary language philosophy” branch which is predominantly influenced by the later Wittgenstein via his posthumously published Philosophical Investigations.

The main focal point in the later Wittgenstein’s philosophizing is the issue of understanding and communication not by way of a specially formulated artificial language structured in formal logical configuration espoused by Bertrand Russell in his Logical Atomism; by Frege in his “Sense and Reference”; by the early Wittgenstein in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; and by the Vienna Circle of Logical Positivists in the individual treatises of their members  like, Schlick, Neurath, Carnap and others as well as its “adopted” British apostle, A. J. Ayer through his highly popular and controversial Language, Truth and Logic [http://www.fphil.uniba.sk/fileadmin/user_upload/editors/kfdf/sylabus/sabela/texty/Ayer.pdf]

The later Wittgenstein proposed that for communication to be substantially effective, meaning should not be reckoned in terms of the definition of single isolated words but rather in terms of how words are USED in a statement or in statements that constitute a topic. This is the condition that sets up the context wherein a statement or statements are uttered. In other words, effective communication is possible only if statements are clearly uttered and clear utterance is understood in terms of how a statement is seen in its proper context that defines the meaning of such statement by way of how the words in it are used and concatenated according to their use. This theory of meaning is known as “the use theory of meaning.”

In conclusion, let me end this essay by quoting from my essay “Wittgenstein and the Problem of Meaning” in  Introduction to Philosophy (with Logic), pp. 208-210 [http://issuu.com/ruel56/docs/intro_to_philo]:

Ludwig Wittgenstein‘s post-Tractatus conception of meaning comprehensively expressed in the pages of his monumental Philosophical Investigations is not only an attempt to improve and transcend the theory that he proposes in the Tractatus. It is rather a rigorous criticism of the classical referential theory of meaning in general. . . .

We use words in a lot of ways. We name persons, things, or places by means of words. A syntactical combination of words may give an information, ask a question, express a desire or give a command. In Wittgenstein‘s theory of meaning the use of a word is an act that is done by human beings in certain linguistic situations. . . .

Being part of an activity or of a form of life, speaking a language is something that is done naturally by people in flesh and blood in actual situations. Wittgenstein is being critical here of some, specifically philosophers, who have been used to using specialized terms in a very artificial way. Well, these terms like, the absolute, essence, substance, etc., are surely part of a language-game. But the fact that they are not used by people in real events of daily living in the sense that they are specially used by philosophers (in this particular case) makes them artificial, i.e., they have no form of life. The meaning of a word is therefore determined in the context of its usage which Wittgenstein calls language-game.  Say, for example, the word “bachelor”; we need to determine the particular language-game where it is used. In the language game of the academe, “bachelor” is a collegiate-level academic degree granted by a school (university or college) to a student who successfully finished four year of undergraduate studies. The same word in another language-game would mean a male who is still single inspite of the fact he is already of marriageable age. Another word is “club”. In one language-game it means an organized group of people. In another language-game it is a hard stick used to beat people. . . .

© Ruel F. Pepa, 19 March 2013

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Homo sapiens is homo cogitans –a thinking being. In the Cartesian ontological theorem, thinking establishes being: Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). As a hypothetical assumption in Descartes’ Theory of Methodical Doubt, he proposes that we can doubt anything in the realm of experience since the five senses through which we basically experience the outer world (“extended substance”) are prone to perceptual inaccuracies and hence unreliable to establish clear-cut beliefs which in the philosophical language-game is particularly referred to as “knowledge” or “justified true belief.” This condition compels Descartes to devise a dualistic metaphysics (view of reality) that distinguishes the extended substance (matter) from the thinking substance (mind) and ultimately pinning the certainty of knowledge on the latter as its absolute ground. Quoting from my Introduction to Philosophy (with Logic), pp. 43-44 [http://issuu.com/ruel56/docs/intro_to_philo]:

 . . . This principle Descartes used to formulate truthful‖ arguments about nature, mind and God. Descartes’ revolutionary methodology was so influential, he is the acknowledged Father of Modern Philosophy.

DESCARTES‘ METHODICAL DOUBT

1) I can doubt anything.

2) When I am doubting, what I definitely cannot doubt is the fact that I am doubting.

3) When I am doubting, I must be thinking.

4) When I am thinking, I must be existing.

COGITO, ERGO, SUM! (I think, therefore, I am!)

Thinking is a subjective act of the mind in the conscious state. In the act of thinking (which is subjective), one is conscious of something (which is objective; the object of one’s thinking). On the basis of Husserl’s phenomenological principle, the conscious entity (noesis) is always conscious of something (noema) [cf. Edmund Husserl’s Ideas : General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology]. Borrowing from Wittgenstein his Tractatus formulation of the ontological paradigm, the Husserlian noesis is “the limit” of consciousness, meaning, “pure consciousness” as a subjective act is fundamentally meaningless as such, unless one makes “consciousness” itself an object of her/his consciousness. In other words, “consciousness” is epistemologically meaningful if and only if it becomes an object of consciousness, i.e., consciousness becoming conscious of itself. (And this very state of affairs justifies the fact that homo sapiens is one notch over and above the other conscious animals because the former is not only conscious but can also be conscious of consciousness, much more of her/his own consciousness—a homo sapiens sapiens.)

Thinking. . . . Consciousness. . . . Mind. . . . The thinking mind. . . . The conscious mind. Is it possible to change one’s mind? A specific mind as an exclusive component of a distinctive personality cannot be substantially changed. However, in the language-game of casual English idioms that occurs in common conversational instances, the expression “changing the mind” does not refer to the changing of “the thinking substance” in Cartesian formulation. An ordinary-language view of this expression actually refers to the Husserlian noema or content of one’s consciousness; not to the noesis. “Changing the mind” is, in this sense, changing one’s idea or thought of something, changing what one thinks about a particular thing, which is a common occurrence in the normal circumstances of the human condition.

Our minds discover new things by way of experience and new ideas by way of rational inference to confirm or to cast doubt on long-term beliefs. In the case of the latter, we are led to do further search and research until more solid pieces of evidence or proofs trigger us to abandon even a long-cherished notion with excessive stress and intense bitterness. We cannot sustain a belief that is not consistent with our reality. We cannot go on in life with an ideal that doesn’t fit our intents and purposes. No homo cogitans at a certain point of her/his being will ever be able to entertain a belief or a set of beliefs that runs counter to reason and facts once s/he has found out that such is the case. A change of mind is necessary.

And why does one change what s/he thinks? It is either prompted by the demand of REASON or the compulsion of factual discovery in the sphere of SENSE-EXPERIENCE; the rational and the empirical. With the continental rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz), it is solely reason that absolutely leads us to epistemological certainty. With the British empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume), absolute epistemological certainty is wholly sustained by sense-experience, nothing more, nothing less. But these two contending camps during the earliest period of the age of modern philosophy were hostile competitors who never reached a concurrence until Immanuel Kant emerged on the scene and finally got to the conclusion that both reason and experience were on an equal footing in terms of epistemological significance.

Kant argued that British empiricism had a strong point in asserting that ideas are fundamentally obtained by experiencing the outer world through sense perception. However, its major weakness was the assumption that the human mind is at its most basic state a tabula rasa, a clean slate with nothing in it, en toto. In this connection, Kant agreed with continental rationalism that the mind is not an absolute tabula rasa; there must be something in the mind at its most basic state. Nevertheless, he disagreed with them in the belief that there are “basic ideas” in the human mind in its primal condition. Kant believed that there are FORMS and CATEGORIES in the human mind as necessary components of its OPERATING SYSTEM that enables it to signify outer-world data and spontaneously transform them into meaningful ideas. In the process, Kant synthesized continental rationalism and British empiricism to inaugurate a new philosophical school called German or critical idealism. Quoting again from my Introduction to Philosophy (with Logic), p. 46  [http://issuu.com/ruel56/docs/intro_to_philo]:

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant claimed that he was awakened from his dogmatic slumber after reading the works of the British empiricist David Hume. It led him to the realization that there were deeper regions in the problem of knowledge demanding not only serious attention but convincing solution. Kant was convinced that humans really possessed genuine knowledge. His problem now was to show beyond the shadow of doubt how, despite Hume‘s penetrating critique, knowledge was possible. The initial contention of Kant was that all knowledge really begins in experience. However, it does not mean that all knowledge comes from experience. The human mind provides forms and categories that are instrumental to describe experience. Since these factors are the conditions necessary for all possible human experience, experience gains certain characteristics. . . .

To be authentic to ourselves, we want honest-to-goodness knowledge which, if pragmatized in existential terms, is elevated to the level of wisdom and hence deemed to serve our most valued aspirations and purposes. We can deceive others by being able to convince them to believe something that we do not actually believe in our hearts. But one absolute axiom is the fact that no individual person can ever deceive her/his very own self by convincing her/himself of something that s/he cannot with all honesty believe.

With this in mind and with the ever-consistent truthfulness to ourselves which could be construed as a “categorical imperative” in the Kantian ethical formulation, we change our minds/we change what we think/we alter our ideas because we want to make sense of our existence in this world. We want to live meaningful lives as homo sapiens and homo cogitans endowed with mental/rational categories and forms as well as with the physical senses to better understand the world, even to transform it in moments of constant waves of the unceasing evolutionary process in culture and civilization. It is precisely in the context of this cosmic reality that we are led to change our ideas in so many instances: we are denizens of a constantly changing world which is a re-affirmation of the Heraclitan dictum that reality is in an unending process of change.

We cannot cross the same river twice.(Heraclitus)

© Ruel F. Pepa, 12 March 2013

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