VISTA Enterprise Network - Successful Implementation, World Class Support

Friday, January 21, 2011


Mumpster has consumed my VISTA-blogging energies lately, but I'll be returning over the next few weeks to discuss a long-overdue topic: reunification of the VISTA dialects. I understand the factors that have prevented it until now and I have solutions for all of them. I believe that by March 1st, we will have a commitment from most of the major VISTA adopters and developers to reunify around a shared, common code base and a common license.

Watch this space for regular updates on progress toward that goal.


Crunchy said...

Really enjoyed your writing...very interesting analogical metaphors at work here. Here's a particularly interesting one from Greek mythology, as I am a lover of myth...

Atalanta was a beautiful huntress (unusual for the time) who was so awesome she was loved by her father, but resisted his suggestion to marry after a session with the Oracle bode poorly for her matrimonial prospects. As a confident and superior runner, she accepted a paternal challenge to wed the man that could best her in a footrace...she outran many suitors. However, a potential husband, Hippomenes, was assisted by Aphrodite with a plan to distract Atalanta during their race by pitting her weakness for riches against her advice from the Oracle. Aphrodite gave Hippomenes 3 golden quince to drop along the track during the race which was won in the last moment by Hippomenes only by the grace of their diversionary tactic. Sadly, Aphrodite turned them both into lions when she was not properly thanked.

Consider the power of diversion in the final moments of a real race. What are your weaknesses? Who is your Hippomenes? Your Aphrodite? Can you pick up the quince and still win the race? Can you avoid being turned into a lion?

Rick Marshall said...

I, too, am a lover of myth.

Although I have known the myth of Atalanta since elementary school, I do not yet fully grasp its lessons. There are lessons here about hubris, about excellence, about the power of love and attraction to draw us aside from our goals, about the questionableness of the goals we set.

Although decades later I'm still not sure where the heart of this myth is, the Greeks usually write their myths to teach multiple levels of lessons, of which the most important is usually the most fundamental, the closest to the roots of the situation rather than in its details.

The root here is surely related to the Oracle, whose advice bound together the Greek world. The Oracle was believed to foretell the future, but its true goal was to help people know themselves, to learn to moderate themselves. Since that's not what people wanted to hear, they missed opportunities and took the wrong action.

When the Oracle tells us what will happen, she is not describing some externally imposed fate that we can struggle to evade, nor is she telling us the Gods are mean and want us to be unhappy. She is telling us that our character is flawed, that we are currently constructed in such a way that through our own actions we will create unhappiness for ourselves and others. The lesson to be learned is that we must become better people, must cultivate our character and change our ways to avoid where we are otherwise headed.

The false lesson that is heard instead is that we need to outsmart "fate" and head off the bad consequences - all without changing anything important about ourselves. We hear that we are perfect the way we are, that all bad things come from outside ourselves, so we should continue to use the strategies and behaviors that we do not want to admit got us into this mess to try to get us out of it.

The Greek Gods are metaphors for the powers that rule human personality and history, the inescapable forces and principles that define and drive us, the things it would be wise to reckon with, foolish to ignore. Each of us has our blind spots, the parts of ourselves and our lives we do not care to examine, which as a result rule us. Atalanta neglected to understand her own feelings and attractions, so they ruled her, leading her away from her goals - but those goals were the wrong ones to begin with. Being so externally focused, she neglected her internal weaknesses, her underdevelopment and atrophy of character. She herself created the very situation the Oracle tried to warn her about.

Just as King Oedipus did.

Just as we all do.

We can spend ourselves into bankruptcy trying to protect ourselves from enemies, but we have already met the enemy, and he is us. We ourselves create almost all of our own problems, but we do not want to hear that, so we turn away from the Oracle's advice and distract ourselves with anything but the truth. In so doing, we inadvertently create our fates, through the "free" working out of our own characters.

For want of a little introspection, the race is lost.

Rick Marshall said...

Crunchy, thank you for your comments.

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