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The moment was an eye-opener, to be sure, when I realized I was one of  “they”.

“They” (possibly, also known as “others”) say that your income is the average of the five people that you spend the most time with (outside of your family).

This helps make my Grandad’s point when he often said: “If you must judge a man, do it by those around him”.

The thinking around this post is not driven by statistics. And, this is some what unusual for me. I’ll typically make my point with hard data to support them – all of them.

However, here, I’m making a statement that I believe is true. This belief is driven by instinct. And, I trust my instincts. I will be investigating my theory. But, in the meantime, your own gut will follow my position.

Don’t bother attempting to defy or debate me. I’ve reached a higher plane.

This may not make you part of the solution. But, it’s a start. A big part of our job should be making money. It’s okay to do that. Really. I’ll write you a note.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

So… Today’s words might be “box” and “paradigm”.

Most of you know what a box is. And, others think they understand the concept of paradigm. However, just to nudge things along here is a definition:

par·a·digm  (pr-dm, -dm)

n. 

1. One that serves as a pattern or model.

2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

…what’s that? who’s insufferable?

In any event, I was involved in a multi-voiced electronic conversation (Cisco has some real bad-ass communication technology) late yesterday morning – to accommodate the West Coast, when, while commenting on my photo on my business website,  AG said: “Cork appears to be crouching in a box”. And, in response, SJ quickly retorted: “No box could possibly hold Brian Cork”.

I reasonably certain more was said, especially with those two. But, I lost track of it all as that box comment sent my thinking down an entirely different path.

I’ve never subscribed to the idea of: “thinking outside the box”. Being the contrarian and Heterodox that I am, I would often say things like: “box?”, “what box”. But, looking back, I feel that was all rather sophomoric, now.

But, circling back to what you know, and what you think you know, I believe I do know that most information, money and power are in the hands of a minority. And, I don’t believe “they” think  or see outside of any box. Instead, what if we took the position that being in a box, and possibly an VERY LARGE CLEAR box gave a select few a 360 degree view of everything and everyone?

Stand back, you. Say’s, I.

I’m calling this the Big Box Theory.

The less inspired amongst you might be thinking: “yeah… but, that means everyone can see you and there is a loss of advantage”. However, the masses can’t read my heart. They’ll only realize my actions. Much of it what I choose, and want them to see.

The media is very much like this.

My box is bigger every day. And, its clear – as in transparent. But, as it spins both fast and slow, as I decide, I can view, gaze upon, consider and ponder everything around me and choose my own course and path. The collective outside is left to gaze in and wonder as that shiny object catches their attention.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Most people read the same books  – as opposed to living the sort of lives that people write books about, or doing the sort of things worth immortalizing in print.

So…

Perhaps reading the same book, or books, is another example of, if not a definition of, mediocrity.

I do value books extolling great things, events, people, or deeds. But, all too often the book of the month, or on the national best-sellers list, is popular because it inspires the masses as a direct result of their own lack of inspiration (or perspiration).

And, it’s only just occurred to me that this might be a great conversation to have with my Haley Anne and what happens in Middle School (and, the concern of many girls when it comes to fitting in or being like other people – as opposed to being something like, well… happy).

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Readers of this Blog appear to track, enjoy, and possibly value, my transparency. So, it’s no surprise, here, that my earthly father surrendered his soul to God back in 1986, on the eve of my birthday.

I’ve chosen some words carefully in that preamble because I’m evaluating the difference in terms of how we define suicide.

Background Perspective: I have a client that I’ve coached for years that happens to be a fairly well known Congressman and has always feared the path of “political suicide” often realized by all too many of his fellows.

Although I have to good-naturedly roll my eyes with that, it recently raised some thoughts in my head around how we spin things to make them work within the complicated confines of our society – to include faith and community.

Here we go…

Shortly after my Dad’s body was discovered (today that still feels strange to both write and read), slumped over a Zane Grey (apropos, says I) novel in his garage, his secretary tearfully advised me that he was bound for hell. I was a younger man in both body and mind, at the time, and this decree almost floored me. Dad was a genuine hero. And, he was… Well, my Dad. And, he loved my Mom. Together, they set the bar and standard for me in terms of how to be a parent to my own Daughters, and love people in your life. He was a pillar of strength (even when he had his fourth martini after a grueling Day maintaing peace as a Military Officer during a relentless Cold War era), always there for my younger brother and me. He was some times an enigma, mind you. But always smart, witty and resolute. Read my post: do not miss your Chance to blow it for perspective. Dot It! How could such a man face the abyss?

My first thought when told Dad was going to hell was that he had carefully considered his options and rolled the dice hoping to get back to Mom quicker. Selfishly, maybe, I often have this picture in my head of Mom and Dad in their early 40’s – sun-tanned, holding hands and smiling. This is also a reminder that Mom had died the year before (here is some additional background), and Dad was simply never the same after that. So… You can; and, I think you should, read my prior Blog post that explores some of that here: My Dad: Story 22 – Married for Life.

So… With all that said, what is the difference in someone taking their own life, or giving their life back to God? There is a paradox at work, here, because a potential juxtaposition includes (or, is) considerations around soldiers taking life (possibly in the name of God), and giving (as in dedicating) your life to God. My Dad was a soldier that absolutely did take lives under a national flag that was founded with God in mind (just ask Thomas Jefferson who is likely spinning in his grave enough these days to send the planet off it’s axis). He was a model citizen by any definition. And, in the his final hour I feel he gave his life back to God, and Mom was his reward for a life well-lived.

NOTE: I’m choosing to take the Bible out of the evaluative formula and going with discernment – perhaps the greatest tool God has issued to us to help me work through this process. The Bible, I feel, in this case, and of course many others, stymies broad thinking and open-mindedness (have you ever tried to debate a Christian and seen them not get heated, and more often than not, nasty?). Once you make not referencing the Bible part of the process, creative thinking that draws upon all of mankind’s marvelous experience and theory can now come into play for informed decision-making.

I’m tempted to drop a poll into this Blog post to capture your collective opinion. However, I’m only marginally interested in that. So, I’ll invite you to comment. I can’t promise to approve it. But, I might. And, I will respond in one form or another, to be certain.

So, engage me. Help me. Walk with me. Help me realize the Authentic Life.

If suicide is a path to another place that just might be a reward, as opposed to a punishment, why wouldn’t you take it? Is this an example of Kobayashi Maru?

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I ask people, and daily: “what do you want to do?”

In part, mind you because you’ll never change your life until you change your choices.

The context is my role as a cultural architect or coach, in one form or another. Having Arrived on this planet in the same year as La Dolce Vida, Spartacus, Elmer Gantry and The Magnificent Seven, my days are spent contemplating the world and its inhabitants – usually from a philosophical interest that lies in formal logic and formal approaches to philosophy; foundational questions in the philosophy of mathematics; and, the philosophy of mind and perception.

Living an authentic life, if you will, with logic and the classics, as a lens.

But, the objective is to make them, not necessarily that collective, “they”, start thinking – deeper than might be typical, for most people.

NOTE: I decidedly don’t maintain an interest in Taoist thought.

However, most conversations will evolve towards: “what we want”. And, what we should do.

Many times this is contrary to instincts. That is fascinating, to me, anyway.

Along the way, I think I’ve decided, for now, that before you can sort out what you want, you might first, need to figure out what you don’t want.

Can making such decisions be akin to eating a banana?

For example, what I don’t want is to ever, be described, relative to my own work, as: “Ballardian”.

That’s not a race out of Star Trek, mind you. It’s a reference to an actual person – and, one of reasonable merit, I should add.

The literary distinctiveness of J. G. Ballard’s work has given rise to the adjective “Ballardian,” defined by the Collins English Dictionary as: “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.”

Let’s keep moving, shall we.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I may have the coolest vocation on the planet. I work with people that change the world, in turn, helping them make better decisions.

And, I learn things as well.

Recently I started to meet with a fellow that refers to himself as a: “serial entrepreneur”. To be candid, I feel that phrase is, in truth, silly. There is, and it’s true, once you bother to consider the nuance, an immediate negative connotation attached to it – from the “serial” perspective, mind you.

Me? I’m working daily to be a successful entrepreneur – just so we are clear.

It’s not just how you do it; how you say it, matters. Sometimes potentially more so. In fact, former United States President Bill Clinton reminded us recently in a TIME Magazine interview: “What we learned from Oklahoma City,” Clinton said, “is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold. [But] the words we use do matter.”

Read more:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1982949,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0lZ1UBfOB

One of my points, here (that makes all the more sense if you’ve been following other recent posts), is a cross-roads when it comes to existentialism, heterodox and being Jeffersonian.

In any event, this fellow (mentioned earlier, mind you) is forty two and has realized not but a string of failures – this includes two marriages, and other collateral damage (not the least of which includes lawsuits and burned investors). But, he has an image in his head about what an entrepreneur has, does, looks like, acts like, and can do.

So… I asked him a simple question: “Is it possible that you are living someone else’s dream, and not your own”?

He was stunned (and angry). And, thusly, I had the potential, at hand, for my desired effect. And, the promise of a change evolution in behavior.

And then he began to weep…

“The truth is I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I was always looking for the easy button. Now I’m so far behind I don’t think I can ever find it”. And, he added: “But I hate all of it. The work is so hard. I never make any money. I can’t save. My credit is ruined. I just want a decent place to live, a reliable car, and to make sure my kids can go to college”. And, finally: “Can you help me find a stable job? That would make my wife happy. Me too”.

So, I did just that.

He had to walk away from a life-long dream, just like that. And, I believe this is when he became  an existentialist. He finally recognized the dangers of living an inauthentic life.

Right. So, what is an existentialist?

If you have been following this Blog the last couple of weeks (and, it’s likely you have), you know we have begun to explore the existentialist, relative to the heterodox and my jeffersonian leanings.

So, how might they, the existentialist, be different than you?  What do they know?

According to Wikipedia, Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of 19th and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, generally held that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of existence of the individual person and their emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts. It is not some abstract set of theoretical truths. In simpler terms, it’s a no-nonsense philosophy that encourages you to take a hard look at your life and ask two essential questions: Who am I, and how shall I live?

Its goal is to awaken us from the morbidity of irrelevance and, have us grab life by the lapels and start living authentically.

Unfortunately, there is no particular school that offers a systematic account of existentialism. Its founders were fierce individualists who avoided labels, detested “-isms,” and refused to be lumped into any group.

So there is no grand philosophical system here. Essentially, existentialism exists at the intersection of the essays of Friedrich Nitzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, the novels of Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky, the religious writings of Soren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich, and the plays of Harold Pinter and even William Shakespeare (particularly Hamlet and King Lear.)

Clearly, existentialism is older than the term itself.

The philosophy is apparently based on six general themes:

  1. Acceptance of the Absurd. Each of us drops unexpectedly into this world, in a universe where time – at least as we know it – has no beginning, space no end, and life no pre-set meaning. It is an inexplicable mystery. This realization is hardly new, of course. Ecclesiastes kicks off with the words “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. What does man gain from all his labor and toil here under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). Existentialists believe that it’s only when you confront the fundamental absurdity of life that you begin to live honestly.
  2. Personal Freedom. Life itself may be meaningless, but you give it meaning when you begin making important choices. These, in turn, reveal who you are. With freedom of choice, however, comes responsibility. Taking ownership of your decisions means not blaming your parents, your spouse, your teachers or anyone else for the shape of your life. More responsibility brings greater freedom. And with it: hope.
  3. Individualism. Existentialists are keenly aware that society continually pulls you toward conformity. There are immense social pressures to go along, get along and live pretty much like everyone else. Existentialists challenge you to buck conventional wisdom, express your true nature, and follow your dream, whatever that may be.
  4. Authenticity. Most people are so consumed by desire, guilt, fear or anxiety about what other people think that they find it almost impossible to follow their true calling. However, it’s only when you begin to do what you want – and not what others expect – that you begin to live authentically. But expect resistance. Institutions want to mold you. Other people want you to go on their trip. It’s far easier to live unthinkingly as part of the crowd. Yet authentic individuals are in control of their own lives.
  5. Passion. Being passionate and engaged is crucial. This doesn’t mean acting crazy or hysterical. Quite the opposite, in fact. Existentialists believe you should devote yourself to a cause, one that you’re willing to organize your life around, perhaps even die for. For Kierkegaard, that passion was the pursuit of truth. For others it may be artistic expression, healing the sick, or building a business that employs hundreds and serves thousands. In all walks of life, you’ll find that passionate men and women are more purposeful.
  6. Acceptance of Death. Life is finite. Yet existentialists don’t see this as a reason for pessimism. Facing death is what forces you to take life seriously, use your time wisely and make meaningful choices. It should invigorate your life. As the character Andy puts it in The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Nietzsche, the philosopher most closely associated with existentialism, refers to it as the noble ideal.

Your life, he argues, is an unwritten book that only you can write. Or, he says, visualize your life as a kind of artistic project, except that you are both the sculptor and the clay.

This concept runs throughout existentialist works. Martin Heidegger counsels that we should learn to “dwell poetically.” Kierkegaard offers that, “to exist is an art.”

All existentialists agree that life has the meaning you choose to give it. Sartre even declared that man is “nothing else but what he makes of himself.”

This view is fairly widespread in the West today. But it was once considered revolutionary. The Catholic Church, for instance, decided that Sartre’s ideas were so dangerous that it placed his entire works on the Vatican Index of Prohibited Books – including those he hadn’t yet written!

Ideas can be dynamite. And the proclamation that you should live your life on your own terms rather than according to the dictates of an institution was explosive.

Well… Bold and fearless, says I. If you have a servants heart and you seen synchronicity, daily, combined with a keen desire to reflect and represent the best virtu that God could inspire within you through discernment, what better terms?

Perhaps that’s why existentialism is called the philosophy of freedom. No matter how things stand in your life, you choose how to interpret your situation. You choose how to respond to it. Even if you do nothing, you still have made a choice. There is no escaping the consequences of your actions – or your inaction.

This makes some people profoundly uncomfortable, of course. They don’t like facing up to the world as it is. They don’t want responsibility. It’s easier to blame others, circumstances or “the breaks.”

Existentialism, however, is known as “the no-excuses philosophy.” You may be old. You may be broke. You may be sick. But existentialists say you start from where you are and move forward. How? By accepting responsibility and making choices.

This isn’t always easy. Pursuing authenticity requires relentless self-examination. It exposes you to things about yourself that you may not want to know. It may cause discomfort or friction with others.

But inauthentic lives, by comparison, are shallow, trivial and unsatisfying. They are often marked by the dogged pursuit of material goods, social status or the approval of others.

In many ways existentialism is a return to the roots of philosophy, a return to the ancients’ concern with truth, virtue and the art of living well.

Existentialism offers a guide to the perplexed. It shows us not just how to live, but how to flourish, how to create meaning in a senseless world. Those who reject this philosophy often do so not because they don’t understand it but because they can’t face it.

And that’s unfortunate. Existentialism provides a practical way of thinking about the world. It offers personal freedom and empowerment. It is a path to dignity and nobility.

An existentialist doesn’t live as though he has forever, frittering away his time and putting off until “someday” the things he really wants to do. He or she recognizes that each day, each moment, is precious and irreplaceable.

The next, and on-going test: Combining Existentialism with Heterodox and Jeffersonian ideals. Hang on; this must needs be a barn-burner. God gave me discernment. I might as well use it.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Okay… So, finding myself immersed in the exploration of those perilous parallels between the heterodox and existentialist, I’ve decided to garnish those paradoxal thoughts with the views of the skalawag and tory.

These are fearsome days, indeed.

My spirit soars, not only with the test; but, the nurturing of soul, as I explore savor the life of a truly authentic man.

This is only a warning. Think nothing else of it, for the moment. But, I’ll likely spy you in that rearview mirror.

Mind you, I’m delighted to not be surprised, that the combination is fruitful and relevant. I can see Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Thomas Jefferson nodding to Ayn Rand above and toasting their content.

I THINK, certainly feel, this is a fair way to to honor the “face of my father”, and perhaps Dr. Nick Pappas as well.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian patrick Cork

what’s all this about?

I can’t explain what that damn tree means - or, if it might stand for something.

However, here I do discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman.

brian cork by John Campbell

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"Perhaps victory can be realized best when the heart changes."

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about this particular Theme:

I'll warn you now that Tarski is theme of this blog created by Benedict Eastaugh and Chris Sternal-Johnson. It is named for the logician Alfred Tarski. I'll recommend his papers ‘The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages’ and ‘On the Concept of Logical Consequence’, both of which can be found in the collection Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics.