Why Ideation?

I believe that ideas play a crucial role in shaping the future but not always in the ways we predict. At birth everybody is thrown into a memesoup where new and old ideas mix, the healthy and insane, the true and the false, the visionary and the mythological, the inspiring and the decadent, the progressive and the expired and so on, all thriving next to each other. They merge into one or they separate and curdle, they bubble up to the surface or simmer invisibly at the bottom, they go off or they mature. Large events may stir the soup and give it a new flavour, but for the most part we don’t know what we really consume and where it comes from. This bemusing dish of symbolic forms is what makes up culture, and we need more than a pinch of salt to keep our sanity. Ideation is a quarantine for me, a place where I can try to practice mental hygiene. How can I know if the ideas I have, or rather if the ideas that have me, are healthy, accurate or useful? By trying to make them clear to myself, formulate them and discuss them. The most nutritious part on one’s cultural plate is hopefully the truest and that is what should remain after objections and opposing views have discarded the rest. You don’t want to swallow whatever happened to end up in front since you really don’t know where the chef has been.

If I sheltered myself, protected my views and pre-emptively listened only to opinions that confirmed my own I would most certainly reinforce my own delusions. It is natural to identify with, and therefore defend the ideas and beliefs of one’s birth place, but since I could just as well have been born somewhere else, at some other time, it is absurd to believe that my native views and opinions would be the right ones. In so far as there is something right and something wrong about every pedestrian perspective the only way of getting to the good bits is by trying to transcend it, by bringing in as many opposing perspectives as possible. While the bird’s eye view is more confusing it is also the more accurate and offers the only degree of certainty one can hope for. I am rather vaguely right than definitely wrong.

I have kept myself out of the blogging culture until now for reasons that probably involve both skepticism towards public rantings as well as being intimidated by the daunting task of publishing personal and semi-contemplated ideas. But it is for these same reasons that I now choose to participate. There is a lot of false certainty out there and a lot of unhealthy ideas are swimming around the soup, and while they might be completely delusional they often have very destructive and real effects.  The world needs more people thinking clearly and critically and ideas spread and you never know where they end up. Watching the news you might not believe it, but the world is full of good people with healthy attitudes to life and without a need to convince others or act out – therefore they remain quiet and out of sight. Those with the least to say shout the loudest and from the murkiest corners come the vilest concoctions. It is more a moral reaction against destructive lies than a belief in the correctness of my own contribution that drives me. Ideally I wish to approach any subject from the position that neither I nor whoever I argue against really know the truth about it. Ideally we are both trying, in a friendly way, to get closer to it. In so doing we can find that it is perfectly safe not to know. No doubt I will fail in this, but as I say, more than a belief in the value of my own approach is it a moral choice I make to overcome the fear of public scrutiny. In times dominated by those with the worst nightmares people seek comfort in false certainties, and some of those comforting ideas are as bad as Jim Jones Kool-Aid. I think there is a moral imperative for anyone with a half-decent set of frontal lobes to use them to help spreading what they believe to be healthy ideas and to help those that have had the misfortune of being thrown by life into the more putrid parts of the soup.

Oh, and apart from saving the world, which should be easy enough, I also hope to make some new friends and have some fun.