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Monday, March 10, 2008

Bucky group 20 - Oxymoron

This week we referred to our Vacuum State post on "Hunting Down Life's Oxymoron" by Mike George (For more about the blog post, click here). This is the first time that a blog post is used for our Bucky Group discussion, marking our move into Cyberspace and leveraging on Web 2.0 content. Indeed there are a lot of rich and original content out there in blogs, websites, Wikipedia, online forums and videos like YouTube.
Clinton kicked off the discussion by reading the Wikipedia definition of "Oxymoron":

An oxymoron (plural oxymorons or, more rarely, oxymora) is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. Oxymoron is a loanword from Greek oxy ("sharp") and moros ("dull"). Thus the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron.

A few of us were quick to bring examples of oxymorons like "pretty ugly", "virtual reality", and with a lot of sarcasm - "honest politician"

So what is the difference between "Oxymoron" and "Dichotomy"?

The Wikipedia defines "dichotomy" as"
Division into two; especially, the division of a class into two subclasses opposed to each other by contradiction, as the division of the term man into white and not white.

So distinct from "dichotomy", "oxymoron" is a mere expression of two consecutive contraditory words.


At that point, Johnson walked in (late). After a spontaneous welcome to him, we briefed him that the morning's topic is about "oxymoron", and immediately he uttered, "Sounds confusing clear", probably unaware that he is a natural with the oxymoron, and we burst into laughter.

We then moved on to "blindspot", as a blindspot, precedes an oxymoron. A blindspot here refers to the blindness in the inner eye. This refers to us not 'seeing' something, and that we know it is a blindness that is affecting our lives.

In the Tao lecture I attended recently, the master said,

No one can see all angles of the world. This is so in individuals, cultures, religions, science...etc. This is because our views does not cover all dimensions. Thus, we have to compensate for this by using the views of others. Sometimes, we can view an issue from the animals, plants, Buddhas and sages points of view. For more of the Tao lecture, click here

To see our own blindspots, we can use the 'vision' of others. In other words, receive the opinions and comments from others. In a system, that means to accept and interoperate with other systems; or become a system of systems. In that sense, Singapore is a system of systems as we are multi-racial, multi-religion and multi-cultured city. With tolerance, that enables us to see our own blindspots as a nation more easily, as opposed to fairly mono-cultured countries like Japan and Korea.

Johnson mentioned that at work, there are some issues that when clarified by others it became clear and could agree with them. However, there are some issues that even after discussions with his colleagues, he could not agree with them. What more, the said issues, which involves a procedure that we interact with the customers, are not even acceptable by the customers themselves. At this point, several suggestions were put forth by us, which includes, looking at the issue from the company's perpectives as the company looks at all customers and not just (some of) the customers that Johnson deals with. Besides, companies have other aspects like company culture and image that they may want to upkeep. There are mistakes that the company may consider fatal and cannot afford to make.

Clinton brought out an example in the automotive maker Honda, which produces very high quality cars, whose Chairman said to the effect that, "...we may achieve 99.99% perfection and 0.01% error... To us it is an achievement, but to the customer, the 0.01% seems to be 100%."

So we have to look at some work issues also from the company's perspective. Mistakes that are not fatal to the worker, or to some customers, may be fatal to one. And that is all that it needs to bring the company down.

I brought the example of my discussions with some people regarding "sexism" and "homosexuality". All too often, the other party is so quick to call me a male chauvinist or a homophobe, without hearing me out. Nowadays, it seems politically correct to speak in support of gay movements, and intolerant to any other comment even those who are not against their movements. Worse still, why not hear the speaker out first before jumping into conclusions? This is the listener's blindspots.

Chin brought out that some people feel that gays are not normal or balanced, but in their own way, they are balanced with both the male and female aspects of a human body.

This reminds some of us of Dr Aaron's empathy for these people as they are souls who have chosen to be reincarnate into the opposite sex, but have not managed to complete it in their human body. These are souls who have gone through a difficult time as a woman in the past embodiment and wanted so much to be a man in their next incarnation, but didn't quite make it and are now a man in a woman's body. They deserve our understanding.

So in a sense, we all choose the sex we want to be born and the parents we want to be born through.

Joo Hwa interjected by saying he knows of a couple who gave birth to a pair of twins. Not knowing what to name the babies, they consulted the brother, who himself is not so well educated. So the uncle named the babies: one as "Denise", the other as "DeNephew". :)

Not very relevant to our discussion, but never mind. He is our court jester.

Okay, back to the post... we went on to talk about "Emotional Intelligence", that it is also an oxymoron. For that, one of us disagreed that emotional intelligence is an oxymoron, as if we do not feel about anything then it is unlikely that we will set it to action. There, she referred to Rudolf Steiner's theory about our having 12 senses. For more of Rudolf Steiner's works, click here . Vasu responded by saying that we have to differentiate between "feelings" and "emotions". There and then, he calmly expressed, "I can feel my anger", and then unexpectedly bursted into a loud thump, " I CAN FEEL MY ANGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" [I should have got that captured on video!] Certainly, the emotions spoke for itself. We understood the difference instantly. It is one thing feeling something, but when we get blew our top (emotional) about something, we lose everything. Well, the fact that Vasu is an actor helps! :)

We were only halfway through our post, we would need to continue our discussion next week, as it was already 10.10am and Joo Hock has to start his hair salon.

The rest of us proceeded to the cafe at the concourse of Adelphi. It is a habit that we continue our discussions there.

At the cafe, Vasu told me that he is intending to go into experiential training and showed me a book that captures the topic. I turned to a page at random, and it says that when we break down a topic scientifically into small bits, we create dichotomies, such that the small bits in itself cannot help the learner to learn. To learn effectively, we have to be able to experience the whole.

Then I thought about the experiential 7 Day Transformation Journey that I attended in 2002 and how it had indeed changed my life. The Bucky University that we have ought to be one that is comprehensive, as Bucky was, and such that students can experience the whole while learning.


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