Archive for June, 2009


The Great Gig in the Sky

June 9, 2009

“I think its time we compiled a list of places that we shouldn’t go.” – Maximo Park.

So here I sit, listening to Pink Floyd and Jazz music. I mindlessly go from thought to thought, and occasionally write. Yet as each thought rises from my mind it becomes too vague to exist outside me, and it dissipates. To grasp at it, is to destroy it outright, to let it go, is to let it drift away into the abyss of the physical world. I am here again, at the point I always come to, the point of reflecting on the mirror’s surface, the knowledge of knowledge, the knowledge of self.

In the name of unquenchable desire for knowledge many realms of thought have been explored and perhaps invented using this vague ancient defense as validation. Yet, as we focus our telescopes on the sky and trail our microscopes across strange alien fungi, we forget where knowledge comes from, to where it goes, and why we desire it to begin with.

We desire knowledge because we desire things like us – we desire ourselves. This is why we cherish such qualities as freedom and equality – the ability to make one’s self and to make others be like you. The greatest scientific discoveries in the world have always been immediately followed with questions that escape the realm of science. Until recently, this was a shame to even scientists.

Yet, this post is not an attack on science (like most of my others), it is instead an attack on everything – perhaps out of some metaphysical angst that must manifest itself as anger in order to make my feeble flawed soul feel empowered like some ancient Greek warrior. But none the less, I lash out violently at the entirety of my generation, in the process scourging myself.

How oft I failed to stop and understand my own argumentation. How oft have I walked the tight-rope between logic and emotion claiming clemency from either attack on the basis of its counter point. I am, after all, a lingual illusionist. The David Blaine of philosophers. The Criss Angel of poetics. Have I garnered anything but applause from my audience, who seeing the trick are convinced of magic, yet go home knowing that it can’t be true – despite any emotional response.

Just like everyone else when I finally settle back upon myself I cannot put a finger on where I am. (Anyone who tells you differently is one of two things. A liar, or an idiot). Yet, like most people I still claim a ‘selfhood’ to which I am obligated to be ‘genuine’. The tension between these two ideas gives the birth of such beautiful concepts as freedom, free will, and choice. I am concrete that changes. The result is the amazing ability to stroke the passions regardless of logic, and then collapse back into a world of 1+1 justifications. Proof. Poof.

The greatest pleasures arise from this tension and furthermore by this tension is magnified like an echo chamber. This equality of opposites within our souls allows the passions to win just often enough to make us miss it when its gone. Then in its victorious return it is all the more glorious. Furthermore, I am not entirely sure that this is a necessarily bad thing, but rather a misdirected good. Part of me wants to embrace this passionate side and perfect its music – while another part, the equality of reason, demands I embrace something “higher” – an emotion that is not without its own pleasure.

The result of continued friction and tension is, of course, orgasm. The release of the self in favor of one or the other. In the release there is always simultaneous guilt and pleasure, immortality and death, love and hate. The person is either truest or most false in the midst of this orgasm wherein the ‘pure’ form of the two sides is most dominant. But in so doing, in so stepping into purity, we have betrayed the things that got us there – the tension of two opposites. So have we become more pure by dissolving one side in favor of the other – or have we become less human because we have too much clarity. Perhaps we add this to the list of places we shouldn’t go. Perhaps we draw a map and mark it with an x. Perhaps we just sit here and listen to The Great Gig in the Sky.


Walking Shadow

June 2, 2009

“A representation, however, changes neither the environment for the condition of the organism itself. An image making creature, therefore, is on that indulges in the making of useless objects or has ends in addition to the biological ones.” – Hans Jonas The Phenomenon of Life pb 158.

The image itself does not change the organism, but does the process? Does the ability to ‘create’ a ‘useless’ object imply an unbiological desire of man to do so? Can an ability be discovered prior to any desire to do so? What are the biological ramifications of this? Furthermore, does the viewing of the image have any affect? Here of course comes the idea of aesthetic beauty but also visceral repulsion. Doesn’t this constitute a use, even biologically? (Like a butterfly changing colors to frighten). What if other things had this desire and ability – Hans Jonas says that makes them one of us – is that so? Can we tell something about a creator by their creation? If so, then doesn’t that constitute a change in that creator in terms of its ontological revelation of self.

“I am very sorry, good Horatio, that to Laertes I forgot myself, for by the image of my cause I see the portraiture of his.” – William Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2.

How much can one reveal about himself? Only so much as one knows about oneself. At least on purpose, I suppose. At what point do we become what he represent to others? At what point do we become the representations that we see from others? It is one biological question to say that we create these images to begin with (as Hans Jonas points out) but completely another to say that we fight and kill other humans over these images. Such fruitless killing has no evolutional advantage at the best and is completely contrary to evolution at its worst. What tie do images have to us? That they can go from being what connects us to what control us? Are we telephone operators connecting images together – or puppeteers – or puppets.

“I, the godhead’s image, who thought myself \ close to the mirror of eternal truth, \ and stripped of my mortality, \ saw Heaven’s light and clarity reflect on me. \ I, more than Cherub, with unbounded power \ presumed to course through Nature’s arteries \ to create and live the life of a divinity — \ now I must do penance without measure;\ one thunder-word has swept me off to nothingness.” – Goethe’s Faust Part I lines 614-622

It is not a new idea to say that we have a nature inside us that seems most particular. It is however a new idea to assume that such a power might not be good – at all. Certain doubts have always been raised, but we have come to a point where it is acceptable to completely mistrust man’s possible divinity. Unfortunately, by removing possible divinity (whether it was ever there or not) you remove the possible divine responsibility. The images that once connected us, or even enraged us, are now sedating us. We are the anti-Faust who have unshackled ourselves from the divine cravings so as to avoid the devil’s temptations. Rather than delve into our own image-making and discover ourselves (“Is parchment then the sacred fount \ from which a draft will quench our thirst forever? You must draw in from your inward soul \ or else you’ll not be satisfied.”) we use those same images to keep our eyes peering outside on digital parchments, in electronic hymns, and in bestial behavior, often violent and sexual.

“…what is man that You have been mindful of him, \ mortal man that You have taken note of him \ that You have made him little less than divine, \ and adorned him with glory and majesty.” Psalms 8 5-6.

what is man that he is not mindful of himself, moral man that he cannot take note of himself, that he has made himself little less than divine, and adorned himself with glory and majesty.