ism, in Relation to Me

ism is my older brother by 16 months. Now he is 24. There are a few images of him on my picture page at

I call my brother "Kuya" which means older brother or older male relative in Tagalog.
We used to speak Tagalog fluently when we were younger but stopped when we started going to school.
We can still understand it and speak it if we put in a little effort, especially angry words.

Strangers used to think we were brother-and-sister-twins when we were younger.
Maybe this was because our hair was black.
Maybe this was because our eyes were almond-shaped.

My brother stopped going to church when we were in high school.
If I ever stop going to church my parents will blame it on him.

My brother has been coloring his hair in shades of red, green, purple, blue, and yellow for two years.
He had to dye it back to black for my parents when we went to the Philippines last December so that our relatives wouldn't freak out.
Near the end of our stay, the black started to fade to gray but no one seemed to notice.

He used to go to Rutgers University but liked other things more than class and studying.
He ended up at NJIT, his second choice, my first.
We took one class together last summer, Physics III.
Our professor wanted us to think he was cool so he wouldn't teach us.
My brother ended up showing his yo-yo skills to the class upon request of our professor, and they seemed amused.

My brother is my friend. I love him. He is also an E2 noder.

A common term in Alcoholics Anonymous jargon which reflects the core psychological nature of the disease of addiction: ism- I, Self and Me.

ISM - Industrial Scientific and Medical.

Term used by the FCC to denote devices which broadcast electromagnetic emissions as a by-product of their operation rather than an intentional consequence compare for example a microwave with ham radio. Also used to refer to the bands of the elecromagnetic spectrum in which these transmissions occur

ISM bands reserved for device operation by the FCC are also being released for use by low-power loss-resistant consumer devices. For example, microwaves typically emit strong rf radiation around 2450mhz, as a consequence they must be heavily shielded to prevent them from causing interfere to other radio systems which operate near that frequency. As consequence of this other consumer devices may also radiate around 2450mhz (henec the 2.4ghz ism band) provided they do not exceede the rf limitations placed on the use of that spectrum. hence the use of 2.4ghz for applications such as cordless phones, bluetooth wireless, and ieee 802.11 which use either Frequency Hopping or Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum schemes to avoid interference caused by other emiting devices such as EFL lights and microwaves.

ISM is the commonly referred to name of the Internet Services Manager, the MMC snap-in that controls IIS, and all general Internet services inside of Windows 2000.

One of the really great features of ISM, and IIS in general is the ability to remotely reboot computers through that interface. It's been quite useful in the past, even if you don't need any of the IIS services. If you have a troublesome server that just does not want to cooperate, and you are telecommuting, a quick jolt like that can save you a trip to the office, if you are clever enough. It's a trick not many people are aware of.

Otherwise, through the interface, it allows you to control your virtual hosting options, and mess with the permissions ACLs, and documents on directories mounted to the web. ISM is one of the big advatages for the Internet webmaster over Apache, in that it great for small or first time businesses to get on the web, with little training or learning downtime.
An abbreviation for interstellar medium.

Also, Rastas will sometimes speak of isms and schisms, by which they mean Babylon's divisive labellings and doctrines.

I don't know how localized this was, but back in the day in college, we referred to marijuana as ism. This may have just been a Morehouse thing, but I doubt it, as I heard my boys use it when we went out of town.

Ism is also Douglas Hofstadter's -ism for describing Zen Buddhism as a spirituality, and, when applied to the art world, something akin to transcendentalism. It was coined in the timeless Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

Ism is interesting as an -ism because it lacks a prefix, leaving only the suffix to awkwardly jut outwards. The lack of any idea in front of the -ism reflects the lack of any ideas or distinction in Zen. Even the name is evocative of the ideas and practices of Zen: it first seems to be out of place, because it's missing something, but in actuality, it is your preconceptions that throw you off, and when you are at peace with the universe in the stage of enlightenment, it's all cool.

Or, at least, that's what I gather. I have not yet attained enlightenment, so don't quote me on this.

The actual passage in GEB is below.

Ism, The Un-Mode, and Unmon

If words are bad, and thinking is bad, what is good? Of course, to ask this is already horribly dualistic, but we are making no pretense of being faithful to Zen in discussing Zen—so we can try to answer the question seriously. I have a name for what Zen strives for: ism [emphasis in original]. Ism is an antiphilosophy, a way of being without thinking. The masters of ism are rocks, trees, clams; but it is the fate of higher animal species to have to strive for ism, without ever being able to attain it fully. Still, one is occasionally granted glimpses of ism. Perhaps the following kōan offers such a glimpse:7
Hyakujō wished to send a monk to open a new monastery. He told his pupils that whoever answered a question most ably would be appointed. Placing a water vase on the ground, he asked: "Who can say what this is without calling its name?"
  The chief monk said: "No one can call it a wodden shoe."
  Isan, the cooking monk, tipped over the vase with his foot and went out.
  Hyakujō smiled and said: "The chief monk loses." And Isan became the master of the new monastery.

To suppress perception, to suppress logical, verbal, dualistic thinking—this is the essence of Zen, the essence of ism. This is the Un-Mode—not Intelligent, not Mechanical, just "Un". Jōshū was in the Un-mode, and that is why his 'MU' unasks the question. The Un-mode came naturally to Zen Master Unmon:8
One day Unmon said to his disciples, "This staff of mine has transformed itself into a dragon and has swallowed up the universe! Oh, where are the rivers and mountains and the great earth?"

Zen is holism, carried to its logical extreme. If holism claims that things can only be understood as wholes, not as the sums of their parts, Zen goes one further, in maintaining that the world cannot be broken into parts at all. To divide the world into parts is to be deluded, and to miss enlightenment.
A master was asked the question, "What is the way?" by a curious monk.
  "It is right before your eyes," said the master.
  "Why do I not see it for myself?"
  "Because you are thinking of yourself."
  "What about you: do you see it?"
  "So long as you see double, saying 'I don't', and 'you do', and so on, your eyes are clouded," said the master.
  "When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', can one see it?"
  "When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', who is the one that wants to see it?"9

Apparently the master wants to get across the idea that an enlightened state is one where the borderlines between the self and the rest of the universe are dissolved. This would truly be the end of dualism, for as he says, there is no system left which has any desire for perception. But what is that state, if not death? How can a live human being dissolve the borderlines between himself and the outside world?

In summary, Hofstadter is trying to communicate what the underlying philosophy of Zen is, and how futile it is to try to approach it from all conventional ways of viewing the world. If the point of true Zen is entire, full oneness, how can we differentiate anything enough to discuss how to attain it? For the change from our dualistic worldview to a such a holistic one is definitely a change; and when there is only one, how can you describe change? And, if we do take the idea of discussing Zen outside of Zen—the theme of making distinct the act of working within a system and working outside-of-yet-about a system is one of many in GEB—then can we even truly capture the idea of oneness from within the constraints of dualism?

The mentioned footnotes:

7 Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, p. 121.
8 Gyomay M. Kubose, Zen Koans, p. 35.
9 Zen Buddhism (Mount Vernon, N.Y.: Peter Pauper Press, 1959), p. 22.

For the record, GEB has plenty more to say on the topic of Zen, as well as many other things. It's well worth the read.


Ism, n. [See ism, above.]

A doctrine or theory; especially, a wild or visionary theory.

E. Everett.

The world grew light-headed, and forth came a spawn of isms which no man can number. S. G. Goodrich.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.