The Meaning Of Meaning

The Meaning of Meaning

In the midst of a debate on the purpose of a university education
some have mused on the value of considering ‘the meaning of meaning’
as compared to more practical vocational education

When reflecting on the choice of university course
One writer mused on what was for better or worse
Is it wise to stick only with subjects vocational
Or risk electing for options less rational?

Doing something practical may seem common sense
Developing skills that can earn pounds and pence
Don’t spend all your time on high-flown theory
Cramming your head, making eyes go bleary

The ‘new’ universities are so down-to-earth
Ensuring you get your full money’s worth
Useful learning is the watchword, every moment counts
Getting you ’work ready’ – they proudly announce

But is there not sometimes a place for loftier thoughts
Eternal values beyond profit and loss?
Time to examine ancient concepts and wisdom
History, politics, science and all kinds of –ism

Indeed above and beyond subjects we can pursue
We need time to consider all humankind can do
And in these meditations and hours of quiet reasoning
We may yet discover the very ’meaning of meaning’

Ken Fisher

Utility

Utility

I wonder if in this modern world
Worth’s only measure is Utility
Unless we can calibrate the gain
It holds little plausibility

In dark days of war and long thereafter
Essentially production was restricted
Utility the hallmark for everything
Lest by waste we were afflicted

Of course the aim of most artifacts
Is to serve our human need
Objects are therefore produced
As the market has decreed

Classical economists propounded
An action is right if happiness it brings
Utilitarianism promotes this belief
Joy the measure of all things

But surely in this wondrous world
Exist things some consider useless
But lacking these elements of our life
Mere production rendered fruitless

We cannot simply stamp a utility mark
On our regard for one another
Art, music, and faith’s eternal quest
Dominant functionality cannot smother

The treasures which flow from the Aladdin’s cave
Of our modern supermarkets
Help to meet our insatiable desire
Our boundless pleasure is their target

But ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ however much
Might try our hearts to please
Yet in our souls we seek for more
To set our minds at ease

And thus we continue in pursuit
Of that whose only function
Is to lift us from mere usefulness
And grant emotion’s unction

Ask not only what something does
What purpose can it serve?
Rather how it might life enhance
And thus our praise deserve

Ken Fisher

Silence

Silence

Silence – the absence of all sound! Blessed peace

Silence! – a command from an irate librarian.  Shut up

Silence – an eerie sensation when returning home to find no-one in

Silence – my response when reluctant to give a truthful reply

Silence – your response when you feel I have offended you

Silence – when I am stunned by what you have just told me

Silence – when I am ashamed to tell you what I have done

Silence – when the car won’t start on a freezing cold day

Silence – we crave when our neighbours are partying through the wall!

Silence – when the letter box doesn’t click with that job offer

Silence – in the early hours when an anxious parent awaits the sound of their teenage offspring returning home

Silence – when listening in at the nursery to find the baby peacefully asleep

Silence – no response to our earnest prayers. Is God on strike?

Silence – when a loved one has gone off in a huff

Silence – in the face of dire tidings from the police officer at our door

Silence – as we shuffle into the crematorium for the funeral

Silence – as we seek relaxation in mindfulness or meditation

Silence – an awkward pause when we fail to find the right words

A pregnant silence    A gobsmacked silence     A disdainful silence

Silence attends so many of  life’s experiences and situations

It accompanies the good times and the bad, pleasure and pain,

elation and shame, bewilderment and sometimes even surprise

The mixed blessing of silence; sometimes chosen sometimes enforced

Ken Fisher

 

Is Normal Life Sustainable If We Always Tell The Truth?

Is Normal Life Sustainable If We Always Tell the Truth?

 

A recent TV programme* advanced the proposition
That to sustain daily life we must resort to deception
Apparently social intercourse forces us to lie
To uphold concord the truth we must deny

Of course there is some debate on the nature of a lie
To condemn all false words or actions is to oversimplify
There is a difference surely between a fib or small white lie
And a monstrous whopper which you can rarely justify

Proclaiming the whole truth may well result in hurt
When we make no effort to soften a harsh word
We speak with veracity but how will it be received?
Surely the hearer is bound to feel aggrieved

Research has claimed we shrink from boldly stating
The stark truth to others when we ought to be berating
Afraid of offending  their feelings or causing alienation
We meekly soften the blow, espouse prevarication

We lie most commonly to our own kith and kin
Perhaps we consider that is less a sin
Or perhaps we are too afraid to disturb the uneasy peace
Recognising reality would family discord increase

But in business too we often use fabrication
Describing our products using much exaggeration
Trade descriptions legislation is meant this to prevent
But unhappy customer reports are still widely evident

Another aspect of untruthfulness is the deliberate omission
Thus it is what we fail to say that merits admonition
We sanitise awkward facts and situations
Thus producing false hopes and expectations

Of course in life there are times when truth can’t be avoided
And these situations must never be exploited
Professionals giving advice from truth should not depart
Each in their own field should play an honest part

No matter the extent to which we feel we can be economical
With truth, we must n’er migrate to a world quite mythological
Rather we must seek to live our lives with true sincerity
Truth our moral compass, the bulwark of integrity

Ken Fisher

 

  • Horizon: A Week Without Lying – The Honesty Experiment

Trust

Trust

Trust, a concept vital to our life together
Trust takes time to build up
But can be lost in an instant, with even one breach
That mutual reliance suddenly evaporates

Trusting starts in infancy, a one-way transaction
The toddler grasping her mother’s hand
The unflinching belief in our parents’ love
Yet even then this trust can be broken

And as life progresses we learn to trust
Professionals assure us that our trust is warranted
“Trust me, I’m a doctor!”
Fortunately this covenant is rarely violated

Trust is so vital in commerce and trade
But it is not an equal contest between
Suppliers and personal customers
Hence the need for consumer watch dogs

And what can be said of the current wobble
In our belief that our banking affairs
Are in safe hands? Or even worse
Accurate assessment of medical tests

But nonetheless we must continue to trust
Trust that our food will not poison us
Trust that the MoT testers are not cheating
Trust in all who drive or pilot public transport
Trust in those who design and maintain our roads and railways
Trust in those who provide advice of all kinds
Trust in our politicians and institutions to govern with integrity
Trusting one another in our relationships
We might even find ourselves trusting the weather forecasters!

Ken Fisher

 

See also my poem : Truth

Truth

Truth

Truth

Why do we so often evade it?
Is truth too painful?
Is truth impossible to define?
Is truth only ever relative?

What is truth anyway?

Some say: it is the correspondence
of language or thought
to an independent reality

This seems to assume that reality
is the actual existence, as opposed to
that which is merely imaginary

Does truth matter?

Can we live without truth?

Philosophers down the ages
Have wrestled with truth
Theologians tried to lead us to truth

The Way, the Truth, the Life

Car salesmen may have been economical with the truth
Politicians have their own version (or their party’s) of truth
Good parents implore that we always tell the truth

So truth seems to matter

Perhaps it concerns us more
In the age of Fake News
When prevarication, falsehoods and
downright lies seem to proliferate

But can we afford to dispense with truth?

Trust is closely aligned with truth
And is surely built on truth
When trust is lost what happens to
contracts, social relations, credit,
professional advice, the purity of drugs,
air traffic control, the safety of buildings,
indeed all incorporeal property

Tear up truth and shred the civilized world

Ken Fisher

PS but just sometimes, we need to be gentle with the truth

 

See also my poem Trust

Inspiration

Inspiration [The 400th Poem posted on the Bard of Kelvindale Site]

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Sometimes in trying a poem to compose
I am filled with feelings of frustration
No new thoughts can I propose
Mind blank, devoid of any inspiration

On other days ideas come teeming in
Thoughts tumbling over in profusion
From outside or sometimes deep within
No hesitation, no muddle or confusion

How to account for these opposing moods?
Why at times words readily are found
At others groping for my muse
Inspiration tightly bound

Ofttimes when no shining light has dawned
When no spark fires the imagination
And idea’s seed cannot be spawned
The page kept barren of proclamation

But in due time the muse returns
Muted voice strangely reawakened
Again with yearning the heart will burn
And taciturnity quickly forsaken

Thus o’er these years words shaped into verse
400 poems for your delectation
My thoughts before you I rehearsed
Grateful for your dedication

Ken Fisher

Etch A Sketch

Etch A Sketch

[On Etch A Sketch Day 12 July 2018]

 

I am sure if you recall your childhood days
One favourite toy with which to play
Was the Etch A Sketch tablet, a clever device
And parents were sure it was well worth the price

Because this novel invention could ‘wipe the slate clean’
And then begin to trace out a new magical scene
Using the two knobs to control the direction
We could bring our ideas into graphic perfection

The mechanical workings of the cunning machine
Allowed lines to be drawn thus creating a scene
One knob directs a line on the horizontal plane
The other one, vertical, but just the same

Thus by deft movement and manipulation
We can represent virtually any situation
Landscapes and portraits can all be displayed
And no budding artist will e’er be dismayed

So on this Etch A Sketch Day we fondly recall
Of the times when computers could not do it all
Giving thanks for the joy of this quirky possession
Unlike smart-phone usage – not inducing addiction

Ken Fisher

Attitude

Attitude

 

This may sound like platitude
And can’t be claimed with certitude
If only thoughts might be imbued
With thankfulness and gratitude
Those lurking doubts might be subdued
And confidence once more renewed
Banishing disquietude
By choosing the right attitude

But what attitude should we exude?
What is bad and thus not good
We must speak truth and not delude
What virtues should then be pursued
To others demonstrate solicitude
Eschewing all  turpitude
Forgiving to the multitude
Our love shown in magnitude
Surely the right attitude

Ken Fisher

A Broader Mind?

A Broader Mind?

Mark Twain wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

 

Having just returned from a mini version of the Grand Tour
Travelling by train and coach and occasionally by boat
Through parts of northern Europe with much allure
New vistas are to a parochial view a strong antidote

In the passage through towns and cities unfamiliar
Observing the lives of others lived out in far-flung places
Noting phenomena sometimes appearing quite peculiar
We see likenesses and differences in peoples’ faces

The architecture of Churches, civic buildings and habitations
Demonstrate patterns developed over historic time-scales
Piazzas, market squares, and hostelries distinctive of each nation
And many structures reflect the ideology which there prevails

But perhaps it is in meeting with the denizens of each location
That we may challenge our thinking and our attitudes
If only we could overcome our linguistic limitations
We can break the bonds of our insular solitude

And no matter that our sojourn in unfamiliar lands
Is bound to be limited ‘less time and distance be reconciled
There can be little doubt that our horizons will expand
Prejudice is challenged as by foreign lands we are beguiled

Ken Fisher

Forgiveness is the Threshold to Healing

Forgiveness is the Threshold to Healing

 

When we are stung by someone’s sharp rebuke
Their piercing words however unintended
The thoughtless gibe, unthinking sneer
That leaves our very soul offended

When those around apparently conspire
To thwart all our plans, our hopes and ambitions
How can be bring ourselves to readily forgive?
When our undoing seems the object of their mission

When in life we suffer losses and misfortune
Caused by others’ wanton actions or omissions
How can we cast aside our pain and resentment?
Absorbing all in self-deprecating submission

Of course we must attempt to stand up to the storms
And positively respond when confronted by adversity
Yet if our reaction is to meet challenge with aggression
Would not that alone simply be mean travesty?

We must find a better way to assuage our hurt
Not living out our days in pique and bitterness
But setting aside all past pain and suffering
Traverse the threshold of healing through forgiveness

Ken Fisher

Thought

Thought

Not animal, vegetable, or mineral
Sometimes fact, fiction or myth
As illusive as quicksilver
Unlike solid, liquid or gas

Who can define thought?
Or measure its power
To delight or scare or anger
An alchemy of energy

Would we be rid of this tyranny?
Which dominates our mind
Determines our deeds
And destroys our peace

Thought, intangible and unreal
Initiator of action from idea
By which we make a kirk or mill
From every brooding notion

And yet the delight of thought
The joy of inner anticipation
Treasured memories of happier days
All realized within that inward eye

Let’s rejoice in all that thought begets
In quiet contemplation or mental gymnastics
Find solace, peace, or ready stimulation
A memory bank and spur to this day’s living

Ken Fisher