Archive for the ‘Metaphorical Ontology’ Category

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On Genesis

September 10, 2009

“We always know who we should love \ but we’re never certain how.” John K. Samson.

From the dark silence of several weeks… a spark. A spark to start a fire. A spark from the void to ignite a word, and from that word spoken comes words written. The word is genesis and the words follow beneath. The subject is a particular genesis, the beginning of a book that represents the beginnings of humanity. Nothing in my life has intrigued me more than this particular account and it is often during the genesis of new and wonderful things in my life that it returns.

The book of Genesis speaks to the beginnings of humanity. That is to say, it gives an account for the root of human nature by creating a theoretical beginning. It is not a historical or scientific account but rather an observation of the things that were happening around the author at the time. Perhaps divinely inspired, perhaps not, it stands regardless as one of the greatest summations of human experience in the western cannon. Not because it accurately describes a moment in time, but rather because it describes every moment in time.

The stories, whether divinely inspired or not, serve as guides to human nature that tells how man lived, how we currently live, how we will most likely live in the future, and how we should live despite all of this. It is a summation, a prediction, and an ethic. Not only is it this, but it is all of those things for an individual life, for a community’s life, and for humanity in general. It accounts for personal ethic, political life, and ethical existence for people and does so while confronting man’s natural desire to wrestle with meaning at its metaphysical core. 

One story, the topic of this entry, is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel are brothers who live their lives in unfettered contact with God. This becomes important later. It must be noted that God is a character in Genesis and as a symbol means a great deal. Cain and Abel give worship to God through sacrifice. It is assumed by the reader that this is not a faith based worship but rather a necessity. They seem too close to God to really require faith to believe. He is more a fact. As if all the barriers between physical and metaphysical reality have been stripped.

Cain kills Abel. But why? After both brothers give sacrifice Abel’s is favored over Cain’s. Cain, assumingly out of envy, kills Abel. But why? For what end? I posit this – to achieve God’s love. Cain’s crime, one that is the ultimate in damnation, heinous in nature, and base in motive was caused by his desire to be loved by God, and his love for God. Having failed to achieve God’s love through worship, Cain removes the one that God favors, eliminating the completion if you will.

Thus Genesis not only confronts such base human behaviors as murder but does so while intertwining vicious behavior with the one true God. God, the greatest of all things, the good to which no other good should be sought, even without the veils between physical and metaphysical existence, gives man such great desire that man, given his freedom, will commit the ultimate atrocities to achieve His love.  

Thus we, whose mode of existence is weighed down by the barrier between physical and metaphysical beings, are even more likely to have our love misguided or to love improperly. Yet faith tells us to love God with all our hearts. Was Cain any different? We always know who we should love, we are never certain how. This to me, is most true with God himself.

The truth is we are all more like Cain than Abel. We will always love improperly, will always have misguided attempts at love, and will often confuse where and who God is. The punishment for this human flaw? Homelessness.

Following Cain’s atrocity he is punished by God. He is not killed, nor harmed, but rather exiled to forever wander and never rest. Cain is not only spared by God, but protected with a mark. Any of those who commit the atrocity of murdering Cain will be punished 7 fold. Cain must live, must carry the weight of his body, and wonder forever. This is humanity in the embodied state. Disconnected and wandering without true rest. For true rest comes in God. “Our hearst are restless until they rest in you.”

This is more bleak than hell, or at least equivalent. Unlike Cain, we are told of mercy and a possible return home but are left to wander until then. The possibility of mercy and home is a topic for another discourse on Genesis. For now, let us drain the final lessons for the story of Cain about how to deal with ourselves in the state of wandering.

Cain having been banished builds a city. A curious fact for a homeless man. Once again showing that earthly buildings do not provide man a ‘home’. The city is called Enoch, after his son. So Cain also has a family whose lineage continues. Cain’s family begets all those that play the lyres and pipes, and the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. A pretty prestigious class that gives birth to things so intimately woven with human culture that one cannot divorce humanity from them. They are the very finger prints of man.

Music shares in Godliness because its power can insight man to do both evil and good things. Music itself evokes love and as a product of love comes hate. It is the very lineage of Cain playing in our cars, or homes, while we run, while we read, from our computers, IPods, and stereos. In reminds us of the Cain inside all of us.

Beauty is a terrifying thing as much as it is an uplifting thing. The most beautiful and good things guide us but our weakness misguides us. Our love, coming from such flawed things, move with the power of all mighty God, but with the direction of the wind. We are pushed and pulled to the paths of least resistance. Yet even without resistance we would still be Cain. So engrained is freedom in our lives that even in the presence of God himself we can still falter. Faith is not loving God, no that is easy if you try. Faith is not thinking He loves you back, He does. Faith is thinking that His mercy will outweigh his justice, and that despite your flaws he will bring you home.

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L’Chaim

July 14, 2009

It is incomprehensible to me the absurdity of life. How sudden despair with depth and edges like teeth still uplifts and fulfills and how such transcendent moments come in the shower occasionally. Yet, sometimes after toweling off and rubbing the condensation off the mirror it leaves with both its wonder and its weight.

I find it crazy that people commit suicide. Note here: not they. I don’t find them crazy. I find ‘it’ crazy. The action set apart as a platonic form if you will. Suicide quo suicide. Half of me doesn’t care. I mean whatever, right? Either there is eternal existence beyond the body or not. And either way, they are going to be ok. I feel. They might regret the decision on the other side, but they’ll be ok. I have to believe that because I have too many faults to be afforded more mercy than them. And if there is nothing… well then what did they lose? Pain, loneliness, despair.

I like the way a book smells. New and old. And often when I read them on the love seat in my kitchen, or by the window, or outside I find myself thinking of women. Each page like clothing, each letter like strands of hair that alone would look peculiar but together form a beautiful style. Every turned page is a removal of a layer of clothing, until ultimately we are both naked – at first exciting but then disappointing after a while. The undressing, it would seem, is more important than the being undressed. There is something about knowing the whole story that disturbs me. All I want to do is go back to ignorance so I can experience the unveiling again. That’s a metaphor… Sometimes.

I find it intolerable to not read… something, anything. But not nothing. I find it crazy that people could find it boring. I guess that’s what makes me intolerant. Oh well, so sue me. I wonder how such people view women, and love, and family. How do they view history, humanity, and art. Do they view them at all? I guess they must. But everybody reads, right? Such people don’t really exists. I mean, I read too much, it’s not good. I am not talking about that much. But everybody reads…. sometimes.

I love it when people are honest. And when they touch you a lot. Hugs and handshakes. Kisses and kicks in the ass. I thinks that’s why I like alcohol and people who drink it. I don’t like it when people run for fun. I understand why they do. I just don’t like it. I mean, honestly, what are you running from? Or toward? And are you getting there? I don’t like it when people don’t do things out of fear, though I’m shockingly cowardly in that same way. Perhaps that’s why I like it in others. Perhaps that is why I drink alcohol. For honesty, and touching moments, and foolish bravery that makes you experience things you never would.

It unnerves me when people don’t drink. Even more so when they feel it makes them righteous. Even more so when they do so because of God. I don’t think he could possibly care less, really. On the other hand I understand them. What are they really losing but abstaining? Hangovers, bad livers, hurt feelings (the bruises of honesty), people who touch too much because their motives are other than humanity. The smell of vomit. The feeling of cold porcelain on your face. Not missing much. So it could be worse. It still unnerves me, and that is confusing to me.

I like children. I want some. My own. I have nothing against adoption. I just have no desire to do so. My love for children comes only after my love for women. Such a kind and gentle sex. Like children with minds of adults, and adult inclinations. Like interesting, social, and educated children. Not to mention, they are great on the eyes. As such, you can imagine I love families. I want one. My own. Yet being a father scares me. A lot. I had a good example though, so I should be fine. My wife would help too. I have friends that would be glad to help out. Yet still. I am afraid. What if I raise a Hitler, you know? Do I really control that? Such worries are ridiculous. But they come in those moments in the shower too. How desires and fears are twin brothers. Note here: not sisters.

I have no tolerance for people who think goods come without bads. Or that bads don’t have a silver lining. My theory: take a day, a real day, to be whatever emotion you are feeling – then get over it. Everybody needs to take a day for themselves. Then they need to understand that life is complex and not every day can be a day off, yet occasionally you can have one, and they are good.

Of course I say all this. Yet I still adore many a person and humanity as a whole. I can never look into an eye and not feel something. All these things that perturb me, before and after the fact, are nothing when I am with somebody. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I don’t know if I am being dishonest or a social construct. It just doesn’t happen. That is the blessing of my life. All people have to be upset, have to feel pain, they have to be disappointed. It is good for them. But if you can enjoy the time when you are with others, forget your problems, read a book, have a drink, and just be. Well, if you can do that, you can be happy. People will either make you happy or sad, and 9 times out of 10 this depends on your perception. I got lucky. I naturally love people and because of it I love life. That is really all I had to say, so why I wrote the rest, and why you read it, is all a mystery to me.

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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.

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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.

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Much Ado About Nothing II

February 19, 2009

Nothing can only exist if there is a something in relation to it to define its absence. Likewise if two somethings exist as separate entities then nothing must exist in a form of being between them. Thus, either things always were hence time never was OR things originated out of nothing and hence why we experience time.

In reality both are true in different senses. We did arrive from nothing in some sense but always were in another thus validating (circularly) my understanding of nothing in its relation to being. Parts of us come from nothing and parts of us may be closer related to nothing that things as we know them. This also validates (circularly) my understanding of humanity as inwardly contradictory beings that are irreconcilably split and best understood through metaphor rather than pure reason.

Thus what I say might not be right, but it is at least internally coherent and thus I am happy… for now.

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What I Know Part VI – Gettin’ Organizized

December 23, 2008

Organization, so far as I can tell, is the way of determining the order of things. “Good” organization or rather “properly functioning” organization would be good order. Yet such ethical implications are far from absolute knowledge at this point. By ‘good’ I must measure something important to me, and me alone, at the moment. ‘Good’ organization should provide ‘good’ order and ‘good’ order is determined by the level of relationship I can have with that thing. Organization then, so far as it can fit into the ontology I have developed, is related to relationship and the ordering therein.

My early understanding of things left out a very important possibility – the existence of indivisible wholes. A whole that is not parts but merely a whole is not a product of itself, its parts, and its organization – it is merely what it is since it has no parts to be organized. We can see that this is logically imperative because eventually a part can only be composed of itself – think of prime numbers, zero, and electrons. The existence of such structures adds a nuance to this entire unfolding philosophy.

So what then of organization in terms of my ‘self’? Organization is the principle that my internal relationships are said to exist in. It is the order and proportion of body, its parts, and the organization of those parts into the whole. Yet, this structure does not appear to fully embody my person. My arms being joined to the greater whole does not allow me to understand the main impetus for my being in the world – thought.

Once again we return to perception. I know my body through the perceptions that it appears within. I do not know it’s existence absolutely, like my mind, but rather through perceptions that can, and have been, easily manipulate, confused, and distorted. It, my body, does fall under the category of the organization layed forth for it has itself, parts, and a whole which comprises all parts but it still seems distant to me, confusing, and even foreign at  times – being in contradiction to my will.

So let us back away from the issue momentarily. A whole is either composed of parts or is a simple whole. Some parts are a whole that is composed of parts. Some parts are simply wholes. There is at least one whole that does not become a part of any greater whole – that whole can be titled truth, God, meaning, purpose, universe but for this collection of thoughts at this time, it will be called Being.

In the world of parts and wholes two extremes become evident. The universe at its base is composed of indivisible wholes that then become parts to form wholes that are composed of parts. Eventually all parts and wholes assemble what can be called being. Those parts and wholes could be finite or infinite, great number or simply one thing, but the key is that the world of Others appears to me this way.

Somewhere in this spectrum is me since I am not everything (my perception tells me this) and hence cannot be the one whole of Being, nor am I a simple whole (at least according to my perception) so I cannot be at the opposite end. Hence I am most likely composed of parts some of which might be wholes, and I also contribute to a greater Being (at this point merely defined as Self and Other).

The list of parts that is evident to me so far in this evaluation are: my body; its parts, its organization; my mind: perceptions, its thoughts, and the relationship between thoughts and perceptions: and my ‘self’ who is best described as the summation and interplay of my body and mind. This ‘self’ is mostly known through desires, fears, and certain urges that appear neither immediately rational nor bodily – the desire to name and categorize being one already discussed.

My body, like all other material objects that appear to exist around me, is a whole composed of parts with an organization. Organization on the other had has no parts to be organized but is rather a principle and is a whole within itself.

My mind also seems composed of many things and is not a simple whole. It, for instance, can doubt. Doubting is a sign that internal cohesiveness is not a simple unity but rather interplay of at least two parts (one which believes, and one which doubts). My mind also seems to be that which perceives, that which analyzes, and then that which either believes or doesn’t and then doubts those decisions. Already our understanding of the mind requires further explanation, but such will be set aside for later. For now it is important to note its many parts and what such a whole it is despite these parts.

Then there is this third thing that until this point has only be talked about loosely. It is imperative that I reiterate that I am not outlining a system of belief for everyone but rather for my ‘self’ – such a desire to write, to think, or to do this rather than that is the precise quality I am talking about. My ‘self’ is that which I consider me – opposed to the concept that I own my thoughts, own my body, but I AM me. This thing, as far as its composition, is elusive to say the best. It is the least doubtable because it is at least composed of my doubts – and therefore exists. Yet they are not me, they are MY doubts, and I can distance myself from them even contradict them and even, despite there persuasive powers, I can choose to believe regardless. Such an investigation, one that defines my ‘self’, I feel is impossible since I have no desire to ‘prove’ my ‘self’ to anyone I will merely continuing studying the phenomena that surround it.

So we return to this world: Being is relationship between (at least) Self and Other in terms of my existence. As a self I am fairly aware that I have a mind that thinks, perceives, analyzes, believes (or not), and finally doubts those beliefs. I also have a body. This body seems to impose upon me a list of needs; it also appears to affect my thoughts, perceptions, analysis, and beliefs. Though it is still doubtable that such an object actually exists – it still certainly persists in the illusion. These two parts (which appeared to part of me) seem to relate to the point where they affect each other. They too also seem to be composed of parts that affect them. This relationship between parts and wholes seems to resonate throughout the entire universe in everything I think or I think I see. So much so that even Being can said to be a relationship of Self and Other. The above thoughts I consider impossible to doubt for they all generate from knowable preconditions AND find external confirmation AS WELL as remain internally consistent to this point. Such may not be your definition of doubt… but such is mine and like all philosophic quests into this region one must begin with certain axioms.

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What I Know Part V – Reason and Relation

December 16, 2008

It is said previously that I know I am in relation to the Other. While I do know this it becomes trickier to then understand exactly what this relationship ‘is’. What sort of other things does this relationship imply. Since my being is clearly one that is meant to understand this relationship without cause or reason it can be said that I am a being of relationship, it is closer to my nature than even those principles by which I discern my existence – thus explaining the difficulty I have fully comprehending exactly what this mode of being entails.

It would seem, according to everything presented thus far in my study of what I know, that things are different when in relation. When, for instance, several strands of cloth are in relation in the proper way they form clothes. Each part cannot be said to be a shirt, yet the shirt cannot said to be anything more than a sum of strands. Yet if those strands were in a different order they might be pants or anything else. So, as it seems, one affect of relationship is a change in being (or at least in usefulness according to me – which to me in this frame of mind changes its being since all things are said to exist only because they affect me).

A more pernicious way of saying this would be to say “the sum is more than its parts” or “organization determines existence” – but that clearly appears to be the case. I know this most importantly because of the difference between a dead human and an alive human. Blunt and pure perception tells me that there is no real difference in material but rather a difference in organization of that material in a dead body. Yet I know, perhaps more than many others things I know, that a dead body is not an alive body and they do very different things. (the nature of this metamorphosis is yet undetermined, but will be relevant)

Thus each thing, outside of the smallest particle of existence, is at the least a combination of three things: itself, its parts, and its organization. After all that is all that differs between a chair and a table, water and ice, and dead humans and alive humans. Yet, many of those I am in relation to deny this premise and rather say “there is no REAL difference between a chair and table so long as I choose to sit on a table and eat of the chair”. These are the people who do not believe that organization makes something what it is. I often wonder what they think a dead person is… perhaps if they sat on or ate off him they would know.

I know, in conclusion, that all things are composed of two material parts and one immaterial aspect called ‘organization’. From the differences in organization (which are perceivable) I feel an urge to categorize and then name these things differently. Those names matter little. Yet it is imperative that I tell you that I feel an urge to name them – I want to do it – it appears natural.

I then know that I am two material things and one immaterial aspect, which coincides with my earlier feelings about myself. My body is mine and it has parts but I am also an immaterial aspect that I call ‘me’. Thus we arrive at a new horizon and a new problem. Am I, as it turns out, just a product of my organization?