Read an essay on Philosophy, Turn, Turning Points, Life, Fear, Survival.

Turning Point? Vive François Villon in us all!

By Ion Saliu, Eternal Student At-Large

About Philosophy, Turn, Turning Points, Life, Fear, Survival.

The time of this writing: April 4, 2000.

Once again, about my inner experiences… Probably for the last time on this page: It has become a mini-book in itself. It is slow to load and that turns away some potential visitors. I have been asked if it is hard to share my inner experiences. To some, it takes real strength and courage to make oneself one's own subject of research and get the results to the public. To me, the process is an avoidable course. It is the law Hegel was talking about: The exteriorization of interiority. Something to this extent: The in finds a way to become the out.

I presented in the previous chapters the bare essentials of FearSurvival and clear dreaming. Please read again my clear dream on the gambling formula, roulette system, and my separation from my daughter (November 1999). My daughter Amy is in her final year in high school. I promised her I would do my best to be at her graduation in the year 2000. Lucky me, I had found a job with mandatory overtime, but a very easy one physically. I hadn't had a sit-down job in fifteen years! Meanwhile, I had decided to sell my lottery software and roulette systems. I figured out I would make enough money to be able to become a professional gambler. I would have then a good income and more time to dedicate to my writing. And, of course, more time to visit with my daughter.
I've had proven to myself and a few others that my systems work with a very slim level of risk (there is no probability of 100%). I started to write the documentation, the user's guides for my systems and software. To my intrigue, something inside me resisted all attempts to write the documentation. In the past, I would be able to write some 20-30 pages in one week. This time it took me around two months (November and December 1999) to only write skimpy roulette documentation! I was not able to write a single line for the lottery software! Hmm! I knew it was a message from my FearSurvival. I put the lottery software aside. I wanted to clarify the message coming from my inside-to-outside system. I started to call it the almighty FS. The almighty FS has created the human civilization and it is part of the almighty FS that has created life, in turn a part of the almighty duality that CreatesDestroys the everything and the nothingness.

My job was temporary. I applied for permanent employment; I took and passed a test, and was waiting to be offered a permanent job. On the other hand, I was questioning my decision. I knew I did not want permanent employment. Meanwhile, I started to behave in a similar manner as back when I was a carefree farm worker. It seemed that my singing was an attempt to charm some of my female colleagues. I also avoided to telling my real age, my daughter's age, the year I came to America… It sounded like I may have desired a serious, long-term relationship. My behavior was in contradiction with my main goals. I would feel a level of equilibrium in my FearSurvival, again like during my hey-day at the farm. It is the normal state-of-life for most humans: The main goals set by FS are met. Sometimes I find myself envying such people. They seem happy, and are truly happy to a good extent. Things are different in a few cases, mine included. The equilibrium in FS usually indicates underachieving one's main goals. In the fewest words, the Survival is under par. The duality FS reacts by increasing the intensity of Fear to push the Survival to the acceptable level.

Equilibrium dwells on a high level of certainty. In retrospective now, the higher the level of "certainty" in my life, the lower the level of my creativity. It was only recently that I became aware how important "uncertainty" in my life is. I had combated "uncertainty" many times in my life. I had been "successful" now and then: I had achieved moments of "certainty". Yet, I had not been at peace in moments of certainty. My FearSurvival system was thirsty for uncertainty and I didn't understand. Uncertainty makes me experience Fear more intensely.

I must add this qualifier: Fear within healthy limits. If the level of Fear is too low, it leads to complacency. It leads in certain situations to boredom. We have heard of some artists committing suicide. It was caused by complacency leading to boredom. Their level of Fear was close to nil, forcing the same low level of Survival. That's why so many celebrities, especially artists, resort to using drugs as an artificial means of increasing their level of Survival. Sometimes, the level of Fear is so high that a corresponding level of Survival is impossible. Again, such situations lead to self-destruction. Perhaps Hemingway had so high expectations of his creativity that he was extremely Fearful he would never reach such sky-limits (the level of Survival). Probably the lead singers of the rock bands "Nirvana" and "INXS" experienced the same Fear-high FS levels. I always put in perspective the "uncertainty" related to my FearSurvival system.

Also in retrospect, I understand better my strong desire I experienced not too long ago. I felt attracted by a "powerful magnet" to take the Appalachian Trail or the trails in the Caledonia Park, Pennsylvania. I would find myself time and again abating the blazed paths and trying to get lost. I understand now I wanted to experience the "uncertainty", therefore to experience a positively higher level of Fear. I also understand now why I came up with fruitful creations during those times of wandering without maps or a compass. For years, I used to meditate visualizing "no-uncertainty, no-fear" peace. Not anymore. "Uncertainty" and "fear" are on equal footing with "survival" in my meditation. And, yes, gambling must be viewed in the same perspective: an activity defined by high levels of uncertainty. Like hiking on the trails, it is conducive to higher creativity (the main component of human survival).

The mighty FS acted strongly again. In mid February 2000 I caught a severe cold. I was accustomed to very physical work. My new job was sedentary, with little physical effort. Besides, I worked in a cold place. I treated my "cases" of cold and flu by myself for the past fifteen years. I only needed to drink hot medicinal teas and rest a couple of days in bed. I tried the same thing again. After three days I felt like much improved and went back to work. No way! I would fall in bed the next day and suffer for over four weeks. I visited health-care professionals who deserve a mention here. They belong to the Maryland-based "Mission of Mercy". Every other week, they offer high quality, but free services to those in need. My cold was complicated by bronchitis. There was something I did not understand, however. Why a cold would have to last that long? Certainly, an explanation based on FS was constantly on my mind, but not very clear. All this testy period, I would find consolation remembering the happiest moments in my life. For the most part, my happiest moments go back to the time my daughter was a little child. I always thought of her as of an angel. Oh, my, I am the ultimate atheist now! On the other hand, I know it is strongly advised not to think too much of the past, no matter how happy it might have been. Sure enough, it was still an important message from FS, still unclear to me. I took another temporary job. I wanted physical work again. It was the best way to fight the cold and cure it for good. Indeed, that happened, but accompanied by serious physical pain. I knew it: The same experience I had just before quitting my farm life. I took more serious action. Meditation was one of the tools I used again.

I meditated intensely several days in a row. I worked the night shift. On Tuesday, March 28, 2000, around noon, I had a dream that shook me. I watch a report on TV. It deals with violence. There is this man with a child in his arms. Another man tries to shoot him. I get closer to the TV screen. Suddenly I become part of the report and live the entire experience. First, it is me the man with a gun in his hand who tries to shoot the man holding a child in his arms. Then, it turns out I am the man with the child. The child is my daughter at the age she was a little angel. The man with the gun shouts "I can't kill him because he holds his child in his arms!"

I woke up in shock, literally. My immediate reaction was shouting to the empty room: "I kill myself for nothing!" Then, I removed all the free systems from my web site. I discontinued the selling of my roulette system. I realized I serviced others well, while hurting my interests. I emailed my daughter that I decided to move to Michigan to be always near her. I decided to become a professional gambler, regardless the size of my bankroll.
My daughter's reaction was joy, on one hand. On the other hand, she was a little frightened by the "professional gambler" idea. And she added:
"But I guess it's better than the small jobs you hold now.  I of all people understand risk taking because I am a risk taker myself.  I think it's necessary to know how to risk if you want to succeed."
Whose child is she? Indeed, in all the jobs I've had I never made more than $50 a day. Just the free roulette system I had posted at my site could provide more than $100 a day!

What had I done all these long years? Honing and honing my systems while waiting to save money to reach my theoretical level of a bankroll. But making less than $50 a day and with a car needing yearly maintenance, my potential bankroll was walking in a small circle! I sometimes suspect myself of being a perfectionist. I tend to act contrary to General Patton's strategy: Better apply a good plan today than the perfect plan tomorrow. When I fled communist Romania in 1984, my partner and I had a good plan. One night, we thought we lost our way to the border. I strongly opinionated that we should return home and come back later with the "perfect plan". My partner, born in that area, wanted one more chance to check the nearest railroad station. He came back with the good news: We were on the right track. The good plan applied then worked. Perhaps the "perfect" plan applied later would have failed.

"… I recently came across your website.  I am in college right now taking an Anthropology class and I decided to form a thesis for a project that had to do with the relationship between humans and computers.  What I've read so far is fascinating.  And I also read that you have continued your research on this topic.  I was wondering if you could send me more of your research or possibly find out where it is published or web published?  Any information would be great…."

I haven't received a strong argument against my philosophy yet. My website has been visited by both religious entities and academic locations. I expected stronger contra arguments especially from religious domains. One mild contra-argument refers to the analogy between my fundamental concept of FearSurvival and what is commonly known as the "Fight or Flight response". The latter concept was coined in the English language. More specifically, it is virtually a requirement of the American culture to use catchy phrases when modeling phenomena. That is also reflected in a widespread use of acronyms. For instance, one could write books by simply listing acronyms in the computer field; or by listing the acronyms of the government agencies and programs. MAD START NOW… One of the fundamental requirements of philosophy is the rigorous definition of the terms. "Fight or Flight' covers only the "Survival" in my FS equation, and only partially. The beasts, including the computing species, apply fight and/or flight sometimes. Another important member of the living realm—the trees—has no such response as "fight" or "flight". If a human uses a saw, a tree can neither fight nor fly away. The "Fear" element is acting, but there is no "Survival" response. If the same saw is used against a tiger, the simpler beast might choose either the "fight" or the "flight" (if very young). The tiger would destroy the saw user in most cases. "Fear" would, however, keep a human away from such events: Neither "fight" nor "flight" can save the computing beast from being annihilated by the primordial beast.

Yet another mild counter-argument to my HumansComputingBeasts concept is aesthetic in nature. We, humans, are a wonderful creation! We are divine, and have nothing in common with the beasts! I have no choice but use my own strong counter-argument. If humans are divine and have nothing in common with the beasts, then they should ALWAYS behave as such. There are extreme situations, however, when the humans do not react as social entities at all. Nor do they react like the trees. They will not accept to be cut down by the lady with the scythe… They would precisely behave like the primordial beasts. Just a few examples here. If I'd use too many, it would cut my appetite for weeks. Read about the French Revolution: Even the nobility was chasing for rats to satisfy their hunger. Or read about the siege of Stalingrad during World War II: Many resorted to corpses, etc… Read also about the group of American pioneers of the mid 1800. Devoted Christians. They were trapped by a winter storm in the mountains of California. Faced with starvation, some of the devoted Christians resorted to cannibalism. (It's the impressive story known as the Donner Party. It took place in the winter of 1846, high in the mountains of Sierra Nevada, during the American conquest of the West.) How about the wars, in general? Where is the divine element there?

Philosophy was born as a reaction to blind faith. The region and era—Ancient Greece, 1000-700 before our era—was most likely hit by natural catastrophes. The disasters forced a large number of people of various religions to come in contact with one another. People came to realize that the list of gods was very long. Basically, they started to raise a fundamental doubt: So many gods and so little comfort for humans! Doubting the faith was the first step to philosophy. It raised the FearSurvival system to a higher level. One of the philosophy pioneers, Gorgias, made this analogy. If the lions were able to paint, they would paint their gods exactly as lions! And the lion-gods would behave as the lions.

I responded to my fellow student that I keep myself from publishing my copyright unprotected materials before the "legal" age. I get closer and closer to the age prescribed by Plato as the optimal number of life years required to be a philosopher. Fifty-five would be the ideal age of the philosopher, based on well-defined intellectual and physical reasons. Plato thinks of the peak of intellectual maturity combined with (still) strong physical health and a condition of minimal risk of romantic temptations. Looks like Plato's age limit is still legitimate today. I don't think, however, there are legal penalties for a few years of being minor to the age of philosophy! So, my fellow student, you can go ahead and develop your philosophy now. My ideas could be a good start, if you wish. I rest assured that you would give credit where credit is due...

"Fellow student", I said. What I really meant was "eternal student". Something was ringing in my mind. I knew it was in reference to my "cultural" past. "We all should be eternal students", but I didn't remember when I came in contact with that statement. I simply tortured my memory for days to get an answer. I only knew it must have been in reference to the French culture. Therefore I felt I needed some Bordeaux wine to cut the Gordian knot. It was not easy, but I came up with the right answer. It had been over fifteen years since I last dealt with that name and his work. François Villon (or François De Montcorbier, or François Des Loges). A medieval French poet (1431-1463?), one of the greatest poets ever. He coined the term "eternal student". He is one of those persons you read about and exclaim: "It's me, if I lived during that era!" Most of you never heard of him. I can only say that you would be very fortunate if you'd find his collected works. Reading his poems will be one of your most extraordinary literary experiences. My father and mother haven't been as "cultured" as me. But they fell in love with François Villon. Even if only reading his obituary-poem makes life look so much more deserving (and fun) to live! Don't ever thank me! Toast a cup of good wine to François Villon, the eternal student!

Which brings me to another point. Indeed, living in America may not be a highly cultured experience. On the other hand, where else could I flip-flop a pile of CDs in a cheap appliance and search for a mountain of information? And get the right information in days? (I searched on an Encyclopedia Britannica CD, using such search terms as "eternal student", "medieval France", "medieval poetry", "François", "hanged poet"...) The computing beast always responds with efficient tools to life's challenges. The fifteenth century François responded with the verse (and wine). The twentieth century Joe Doe responds with the PC (and maybe lite beer). C'est la vie!

I need add qualifiers.
It may be true that I need show more humility. Humility is one of the hardest lessons to learn. I experienced humility now and then but never consistently. A good starting point is to never take anything or anybody for granted. I must become consistently aware that I must earn my territory. I ought to say that there are a few things I know well; there are some more things I don't know well; and there are countless more things I know nothing about.
The humans are, without a doubt, the most wonderful creatures on Earth (not sure if in the entire universe). We behave as humans under most circumstances. The beast-part of the FearSurvival delegates the control to the MOS (mental operating system). It is in such situations that the humans seem to be so remote from their non-MOS ancestors; so remote that no link seems possible.

It is not my intention to destroy anybody's faith. A type of faith can last thousands of years. Only dramatic events can change (or even erase) faith. The process is usually very slow, by human standards. If — an IF of cosmic proportions — the universe experiences a species superior to the terrestrial humans, those higher humans must be all-reason, zero-faith. As a matter of fact, I was a man of faith until the end of 1998 WEB. I never hid this truth: I spent most of the border-crossing time praying quietly but intensely. I experienced faith, especially in the form of prayer, numerous moments in my life. It was scary when my system became devoid of faith. There had always been a powerful last resort in my psychology: God. I would hope many times "God will help me again…" This kind of God is a very strong part of the life of many humans. I would only say to the many: Keep your God, but you must never destroy, especially humans, in the name of your God!

"For Almighty Number has not worshippers, but Eternal Students and Its offertory place is the BookHouse. May Its Almighty enlighten our dark pages and thus we shall see the Truth with the eyes of the night and embrace our dreams with the eyes of the day!"

Ion Saliu's most interesting and intelligent signature.

Philosophy, Turn, Turning Points, Life, Fear, Survival.

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