Jan Cox Talk 0619

Not “What’s the Meaning of Life,” but “How Is the Meaning of Life”?


Audio Stream = 
Audio Download = DOWNLOAD Jan Cox Talk 0619 from Cassette
AKS/News Items = kneededit
AKS/News Gallery = jcap 1989-10-09 (0619)
Summary = See below
Diagrams = 
Transcript = See Below


#619 * Mar 9, 1990 * – 1:03 
Notes by TK

Kyroot to :06. Proclaimed superiority of particular ideas is always because they are “based on my personal experience”. This is supposed to distance the superior ideas from mere imagination. But there is no evidence that experience is connected in any way to intelligence, wisdom, insight into the workings of life. The ordinary belief is to the contrary, i.e., “travel is broadening”.

Experience has no connection to what a man is and what he thinks; there is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. Buddha, da Vinci, Newton, et. al., cannot be explained by their experience. Simply going somewhere may not take you anywhere.

The “rip and read” news broadcast on radio is a good metaphor for the operations of the ordinary intellect. So-called analysis and interpretation of the news is just rip-and-read once removed, i.e., the R & R of one’s own reaction to R & R. It is based on comparison and naming. Subversive Analysis would be based less on local, personal experience; would not be based on comparison. It would be closer to “how is the meaning of life” vs. “what is the meaning of life”.


619 edit 3/9/90 
(c)Copyright J.M. Cox, 1990

Rip-and-Read Thinking

In response to the many inquiries I receive asking me when
I’m going to talk more about governmental agencies — the FCC,
the FTC, the SOB — tonight I’ll try to get around to some of it.
But first I wanted to give yet another example of Life’s dazzling
verbal distractions: those First Stories that are much less (and
much more) than they appear to be.

I suggest that some of you will find the following example
to be one of Life’s more uncommonly pleasing jokes (the term joke
herein meaning a kind of distraction which Life uses for a
purpose the people normally do not see, or else see and take to
be ironic). The example I have in mind is this: Life drives
men to continually say that the superiority of their ideas is
derived from the fact that it is based on their own experience.
It acts as a kind of crucible as to the validity of the idea in
question: “What I have written in my book and what I’m about to
tell you is no pipe dream — what I’m about to tell you is based
upon my own experience!” It is simply accepted. It flows
through the normal wiring system of humanity as some sort of
assumed, if not directly stated, rpoof. Not only evidence of the
validity of the information, but also of the sincerity and
intelligence of the speaker. The further inference is that there
are ideas presented by other people not based on their own
experience which are inferior.

Now I have to point out to you: there is not one iota of
evidence linking a man’s experience with any form of real insight
into life. No evidence at all. And don’t tell me about how Mrs.
Sweatglands made you repeat the multiplication tables over and
over, and so therefore the experience gave you your
multiplication knowledge…I agree. Be that as it may, in the 3D
adult world if you attempt to pass off “individual” information,
it has to be to some degree unique — singular to you, and based
on your own bloody experience. But even if the information
someone presents is true, and he thinks it’s true, there is no
evidence at all that any sort of comprehension as to the nature
of life and how things work is ever derived from or linked to a
man’s experience.

At the ordinary level, take the old saw, “Travel is
broadening.” It’s been around for thousands of years: “To
travel, to be around different cultures, will expand one’s
intellectual horizons.” But think about it. Has travel ever
civilized, say, soldiers? The Huns were pecking at the Romans
for years, bagging and sacking ’em, here and there. Is there any
record that some group of Huns got broadened by the experience?
One Hun turns to another: “You know, I enjoy looting and
pillaging as much as the next Hun, but now that I’m here I
realize that there are other things in life than Hundom.” No
such record. Is there any record of, for instance, bigots being
mellowed by travel? (And everybody is bigoted in some way —
it’s the bias of local intelligence.) Some French people travel
into Germany, thinking about the Germans as the French are wont
to do…I guess here I picked a bad example of experience not
teaching people, but just ignore that (for some strange reason
the French don’t seem to have much faith in their neighbors to
the northeast). At any rate, do the French go into Germany and
say, “My god, Marge (okay, “Marci”) we have made a terrible
mistake.” No. It doesn’t happen. Travel doesn’t broaden
intelligence in any real way. It doesn’t change the way people
are wired up and primed.

There is no proof that experience gives insight. Look, for
no particular reason, at yourself. Don’t look for a specific
example: just ask, “Does experience have any direct link to how
I think?” Don’t choke — because at first you’d think that it
must . But that’s too obvious. If you get a little deeper, a
little broader, you can feel the answer. It’s not just a
resounding, “No”. It should be a “Wooh”. You are looking for
something that you assumed was there — and it’s not there.
There is no evidence; and I am using “evidence” in a very
expansive way. Perhaps you could follow this: there is no
experience within the life of man to show that experience has any
link with what a man thinks. (If that confused any of you,
assume it was a misprint.)

For a less intellectually oriented approach, how about
disasters and calamities: earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves.
Death in your own family. Horrible things happen, and people
will state — no one ever questions it — that such events change
the way they look at life. “After the volcano erupted here, and
I lost my family and business, I got to tell you, I was never the
same. It changed the way I think. It changed my priorities in
life.” In other words, the experience has given their ideas
validity, and not some theoretical support. They lived through a
tragedy , the kind of experince that would seem to be bone-
rattling. That is natural in life and I’m not laughing at it.
It’s neither here nor there. It is just accepted that those
kinds of emotional or physical shocks produce drastic personal
change. But you should be able to feel, from your own experince
with such things, that no change really happens. You may go into
shock for a while, but insofar as changing the intellect? There
is no evidence whatsoever. You can’t find it in you, and there
is certainly none out there. But no one ever questions it.
The dazzling distraction is in the fact that everyone
accepts it not only without questioning it — nobody ever thinks
about questioning it. It’s not open to question.

To drag it out of the area of mundane examples, consider the
heroic, extraordinary figures of ordinary history. I’m just
going to use the Buddhas and the Moseses of the world: how can
they be explained? Try and forget the connotative snare of their
supposed other-world origins. Or consider just great thinkers —
the Newtons and Einsteins. Simply take your best feel for
history. I can tell you this: they cannot be explained at all,
whatsoever, by their life experience. I know that Newton went to
college, maybe even Oxford, but how many sons-of-guns have
graduated from Oxford? How often does a Newton show up? There
is nothing in their lives to explain them. Nothing, nothing,
nothing. And in the case of the religious founders, for another
level of dazzlement, that very fact is used by the ordinary
intellect as “proof” of their divine nature and other-worldly

Beyond multiplication tables and the ability to read a bus
schedule, if a person knows anything about life you will never
find any evidence whatsoever that there is any link between their
experience and what they know. You might note that in less well-
known areas — the small time Moseses, Jesuses, and gurus
throughout the years — what is the very thing that they have to
do? They spend most of their time recounting their experinces to
explain the validity of their ideas. They all do — they have
to. The first 58 minutes of their hour-long speech is taken up
by explanations of their experiences. The last two minutes are
their ideas…like a cold sweet potato pie. You can count on it:
the more they recount their experiences, the less you can depend
on getting any even hobby pleasure out of their information. But
it all balances. The equation always equals everything. In this
case, the talk about what they are going to tell you, plus what
they tell you, will equal 60 minutes (or zero depending on how
you look at it). Maybe they spend 30 minutes on the former, but
it always balances out. That is, “What’s new?”…”Nothing.”

It operates in your own nervous sytem. It’s not some evil
plot out in civilization. And you never question it. You never
put it this way, but your experience seems to give your ideas
more weight. More validity. It is really beyond the question of
proof. It seems to be the best evidence, not only of the
superiority of the ideas, but of intellectual wherewithal — in
that the speaker is not relaying some “secondhand” information.
Because just anybody can repeat something they read in a

Before I move on to the governmental agencies (which I know
brought all of you here tonight), let me put it to you this way:
simply going somewhere may not take you anywhere. By “going
somewhere,” of course I mean more than physical travel. It is
believing internally that you’re going somewhere based upon your
experience. “Based upon my experience, by god, I’ll figure
things out.” Simply going someplace… may not take you

Some of you may know about the practice used at small radio
stations called “rip and read.” The FCC used to require that
even the smallest local stations, in order to keep their
broadcast licenses, had to present news as a community service.
And, as all of you know, the point of a radio station is not to
play music and entertain you — it is to sell advertising and
make a profit. So these tiny operations, rather than hire a news
person, just had the regular staff read the news periodically
from a continual feed coming in from Associated Press or
whatever. The station rented a teletype machine that sat in a
corner, and at specified intervals the disc jockey would rush
over, tear off the paper, and read it cold with no commentary or
analysis. Thus the term “rip and read.” They did it just to
keep their license. They just ripped off the latest sheet and
read it, just to get it over with.

I was going to present a little finale tonight. i was going
to label this section: “Rip and Read Thinking versus Subversive
Analysis.” Because look at your own brain: rip and read
thinking is the normal operations of the human intellect. It
might as well be information coming in over an AP teletype
machine which you didn’t order. You don’t know where it came
from, but by god you got it. And what passes for ordinary
thinking from Moses to Einstein? I’ll tell you what it is: you
simply rip and read. It flows through, and instead of having to
read it once an hour to keep your license, you have to think to
stay alive at this level. That is, to be what you are. And what
do you think? You think whatever runs across the wire. And
every time you look around, it’s rip and read. That’s why you
can’t tell me what you’re going to say next. You don’t know.
It’s not on the machine yet, and nobody can read it ahead of
time. You’re too pressed. You’re always too pressed; you are a
one-man radio station. A one-woman operation.

Nobody has any time to prepare, or to read it beforehand, at
the ordinary level. As soon as you rip it off you have to
immediately read it; whether you stumble over it or mispronounce
foreign words doesn’t matter. That is the nature of ordinary
intelligence. That’s it. It’s not a theory. All you have to do
is look at your own intellectual operations to realize that you
are the world’s smallest radio station. What you ordinarily call
“thinking” is rip and read.

For those of you getting good, I will note that in the
ordinary world there are people who might hear all this and say,
“Wait a minute. I, good sir, am a news analyst by profession. I
scrutinize my opinions; I weigh information for validity.” It is
like a certain interpretation — or sounds to be — of what’s
coming over the wire. “Some of us,” they might go on, “do
analyze what’s going on.” But what they call analysis or
interpretation is simply this: they do still rip and read, but
now it’s a game of mirrors. They don’t realize it. Because now
they rip and read their reaction to what they thought was rip and
read. That’s why it always has a name. The common one today,
for news analysts is “liberal” or “conservative.” It is always
nameable; it is always based on comparison. The analysis always
has a “spin” on it.

A real subversive analyst of the incoming news would do
something else. Altogether something else. It would be less of
a local investigation of the news. The study of the news coming
in — the ideas, the thoughts, the talk — would be on a basis
not limited to your own personal experience. To analyze
something subversively, you are in no way concerned with your
personal experince. It does not enter into it. If you were
listening earlier, I already proved to you (subversively, I’ll
admit) that there is no evidence that personal experience is
connected with insight. So forget about it. Contraire, those
who seem to have known the most had backgrounds that appear to be
nearly blank, or were exceedingly mundane. There is no
explaining it whatsoever.

Notice the things that you yourself now know from being
around This. That is, the stuff you can’t prove and can’t talk
about. In what way is it based upon experience? You can say
that being here is an experience…yeah, yeah. But can you say
that a particular thing you know is based upon the “fact that I
grew up in the slums…or in a good middle class household, but
my father was a drunk…? What does any of that have to do with
This? You should be able to feel that the answer is not just,
“Nothing.” It’s not even worthy of a response. There is simply
no connection. You have got no idea how you ended up being
involved with This and you really don’t know how you know the
things you know. It’s not based on your experience. Not in the
ordinary sense of some local experience unique to you — some
kind of hardship or event. A Buddha wanders off, years and
years, and finally sits under a tree. And one day, after being
quiet for a few days, he says, “Look here.” All the other monks
were doing the same thing, starving, half naked, sitting under
trees. How did Buddha get it? Sure he left home and starved
himself, but these other guys were doing it before he even got

Not only are your valuable ideas not linked to experience,
they are not based on comparison. Because what you know — what
becomes a subversive analysis of life — is not “right” at the
expense of someone else’s “wrong.” That’s why all of This is so
vague…and interesting, to some people. At the local level, rip
and read thinking is true. As true as it ever was. So what you
now know to be correct (as opposed to “true”) is not at the
expense of, or compared to, the old level being “wrong.” If
there is any comparison involved, you’re just ripping and

I would point out one more thing. If you were following all
this, it is getting ballistically close to that grand question,
” How does Life mean?” Remember, not ” What does life mean?” ” How
is the meaning of Life?” which, if you can follow that, brooks no
comparison. What will you compare it to? “Say, I never thought
of that.”

Well, give me a surprise as we close.