24 February, 2012

Divinum sedare dolorem

Unless we see the signs, how do we know what we are dealing with? Without understanding what our eyes are seeing, we cannot comprehend the meaning. We look, but not always see. Most problems arise not by not knowing, but by not understanding what it is we are seeing or feeling. This has been drummed into me over and anon by university lecturers, who stress the importance of semiotics (symbolism) and metacognition (the way we make problem solve) as vital integers in the all important diagnosis.

'Diagnosis is half the treatment,' said one of my lecturers, and I am yet to prove him wrong.

Diagnosis is applicable not only in medicine but life in general. Unless we expert ourselves through studying signs and symbols in everyday life, how can we possible understand what we are seeing in life, or reading in the news. A journalist is killed in Syria. We know this is tragic, but who killed her? And why? And was the real murderer for or against the regime? She was a western journalist reporting on the Friends of Syria fighting Assad's troops. Some say she was killed to amplify hatred of the regime. Others that Assad is obviously a cruel tyrant. The fog of war makes truths most cloudy a casualty.

There are some things we cannot know, for reasons of evidentiary lack or distortion of truths by interference. Like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, just observing a valid phenomenon changes it. Think of how we finally realise that someone is cheating us at cards. We look at them across the table and instantly, they recognise 'that we know what they know'. So does the curtain of their complicity fall, as quickly as the Berlin Wall. How, also, we meet a stranger across a crowded room and know immediately that something has changed between us and our eyes lock on each other in a romantic gaze. These are the effects of cognitive semiotics. Once the observer see things as they really are, the observer and the object instantly and simultaneously change in real time, regardless of the distance which separates them.

This phenomenon applies not only to objects and people, but also to concepts. Once we understand a concept, the concept itself changes for us. Concepts such as pain, joy, love. These are ineffable states that are in constant flux. Some are temporary, some permanent, but their 'quality' is immensely mutable in the face of how the observer perceives them.

It is a divine act to relieve pain - divinum sedare dolorem. But the greatest pain of all is not physical but psychic. We can ignore the psychic pain that comes from ignoring the reality all about us. Or we can adopt the motto of the Illuminati; In somno securitas - in sleep there is safety.

The choice is ours for the making but it must be a non-violent choice, based on evidence that is tried and tested.