Archive for the ‘Modernity’ Category

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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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Life as Error

April 20, 2009

I just recently fell in love with jazz. No other music besides classical has ever had such a tangible effect on the human soul. If Nietzsche had listened to Jazz (instead of Wagner) we would be in a new Renaissance right now.

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The Valiant Never Taste of Death But Once

March 30, 2009

“I do not fear death. I fear that I may somehow inadvertently or purposefully bring it about.” – My paraphrasing of Timothy Holmes.

I wish I could take credit for this extreme lucidity and eloquence when I responded to the same question… I cannot. Though I did answer the question in a similar way: “No I do not fear death. I fear the deaths of others”. I for one have always confronted the idea of death with more curiosity than fear – even the darkest hours of my atheism whereupon I still agreed that the deaths of my loved ones was far more painful than my own death.

This question did arise rather suddenly and externally when myself and Mr. Holmes participated in an interview wherein the subject of death was discussed in relation to spirituality and politics. It is important, beyond the urging of my words, that we understand the entirety of modern politics is based around death and the complete desire to avoid it at all costs. Beginning with Machiavelli, and then Hobbes, and finally with Locke the idea of death becomes the foundation of rights. Natural rights flow from the nature of death.

Death’s introduction to the political order makes any answer extreme. Since our idea of life, and it’s rights, are based on death – killing becomes either grim natural reality or perverse execution. In reality it is neither.

“Death is the respite from life. It is possibly joyous and maybe even preferred.” (again another paraphrase – Tim please send me the actual quotes if you can remember them and I will errata this entry). Death as respite is something I could never believe as an atheist (though many have tried to put forward a similar concept). This understanding does come about it is in the esoteric writings of select secular philosophers who then get misquoted and misunderstood by others. It is equally important that we understand that such a concept can never be the popular understanding of the masses in a secular state.

This is not a defense or justification of religion – it is reality. The post-enlightenment birth of secular states coincides with political revolution based on the concept of death. The two need each other. If we are to understand death in a Hobbesean or Lockean way then we must see it as flowing from nature and to be the subject of reason. Thus the state shouldn’t indulge itself in the particular mythologies of churches. Thus we arrive at our modern state.

Modern religious freedom creates an accepting environment by refusing to have any religious beliefs. Thus when confronting issues of death the state must make decisions without metaphysical guide posts. This has a tendency to make the regime either act too brutally or too late. Almost every war since the Enlightenment has been a total war, an ideological war, and a devastating war. The wars have been so gruesome that even the “good guy’s” virtue was often clouded or downright abandoned. America entered the war late to save American lives – then they ended it early by dropping two nuclear weapons. Again to save American lives. Here is not the time to discuss just war theory but it is important to point out this phenomenon historically.

But here is the not the time to talk about such politics either. It is the time to point out the reasoning of a secular state. Reason, as it turns out, is no different than blind faith. It indulges itself, justifies itself, and is often used to do all sorts of bad things. Is fighting over democracy abroad any different than fighting for the glory of God? Our love of democracy is based only on post-enlightenment reason that is ultimately based on a new death theology.

What I am about to say is perhaps the most extreme thing I have ever committed to public dissection. Perhaps death isn’t all that big of a deal. Perhaps life (as we know it) isn’t all that big of a deal. It seems the greatest virtues eventually push individuals to put their own lives out of the picture. Ultimate humility, ultimate courage, and even ultimate justice sometimes demand a lack of regard for one’s own life. We are going to die. So don’t waste time fearing your death but rather fear you have not lived. Fear that you will die alone sitting watching the TV. Fear that you will have never changed another person’s life for the better. Fear that no one will mourn your death.

This idea is also dangerous. For once you realize the meaningless of death you no longer have the whip of the slave driver. The clear direction to the stars is cut short of its gravity and you’re left to drift in an apparent void. The temptation is to dive into meaningless and arbitrary faith – do not do this. This is not a justification for such irresponsibility. The fight is hard and it may flirt with that old slave driver like a mistress. It may find the bitter sting of the whip pleasant and what was once your master is now your ally. This is the most tempting and problematic effect of this new belief – one that for ages lead antiquity to the heights of greatness.

In the end, it is most likely our proximity to death that allows us to transcend and understand the things beyond our body. Only in the comfort of science could we embrace cold unfeeling atheism. Only with the soft despotism of the television could we finally give up the freedom we fought for. Only in the age of medicine and health could we devote our lives to living healthily only to realize too late that we never did anything with our 75 years. This proximity fueled our pre-science ancestors in the Renaissance who watched a great empire fall, a plague strangle Europe, and a 100 year war over a holy land they’d never see. They saw it every day and they clawed with clenched hands at the dark sky to let some light through.

The enlightenment itself started in the mild rumblings of an Earthquake in Lisbon. Such tremors have shaken the world and crumbled entire foundations. We now fear death or worse, we ignore it. But why? For what good does all this fretting and worrying do? Do we not shake the earth so badly that the ghosts of Lisbon pity us? Do those wraiths sit somewhere beyond it all fearing that one day they will be thrown back into a body and reintroduced into the fear of our skin? Perhaps I will ask them when I meet them. Perhaps they don’t even know the movement that started in their name. In which case I won’t tell them, I won’t make them worry about us, I’ll just ask about the weather or how the weather used to be.

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A Forest Through the Trees

March 9, 2009

It’s about time for another crazy rant. Here we go.

I hate supporters of the ancient astronaut theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_astronauts). I also hate supporters of panspermia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia), but that is for another post. For now let us concentrate on the Ancient Astronaut Theory (here forth known as AA).

AA claims that at some point in prehistory aliens came to earth and gifted us with knowledge and technology. This gifting accounts for our culture, our tools, and our religions. Most support for this theory comes from cave paintings, ancient architecture, and early written accounts. The theory is that such massive creations, such pointless creations, would not be created without another purpose.

AA’s absurdity is more offensive than its illogical leaps. How does one look at religious centers and doubt man’s ability to create something for no reason other than worship. We still do it today. It is, of course, unscientific to assume we do it for God, but are aliens any better? Why do people find it more comforting to assume aliens over a benevolent God? This is what I talk about when I say ‘modernity’. We’ve got our heads jammed so far up our scientific assholes that we assume just because technology is involved that it must be more true. But isn’t this the same argument as the world resting on a tortoises back? When does the ‘seeding’ end? When does man \ alien get credited for doing something on its own? Something creative and without purpose? Or something spiritual? I assume the answer is never, for a believer in AA, one would speculate that the same thing happened to those aliens and so on.

There are other problems, other than its fanatical modernism. It bases its theory on ancient depictions of aliens. It then says “See! It looks just like how we picture aliens?” Ok, genius, and how many people that draw aliens have actually seen one? How many worship them? Of course they look similar! We do the same things to aliens that they did to Gods…we make them look human. So of course they all look similar because they all look like us! So they have a dome on their head? Cyclopes had one eye, maybe they were relatives of Mike Wazowski. AA basically rapes man’s ability to be creative and discounts it as merely experiential but fails to realize that the real cause of this is our imagination being too similar to those of our ancestors. We simply can’t picture things not being like us.

Then, worst of all, AA discredits what could be their only allies. In many cases they simply contradict or deny the accounts given to them by archeologist (hence the closest we get to firsthand accounts). Why were the pyramids built? To house the dead. Not to position some space mother ship. Firsthand accounts tell us of a love for astronomy, not because of visitors from another realm, but because it was so huge! Sure a sky God might be a plausible (though ridiculous) alien, but what of Hades lord of the underworld. I suppose we have mole people too.

To add to this most ancient deities were cruel. They killed, tortured, and sometimes raped people. If these aliens are like that, why didn’t they conquer our globe. AA likes to say aliens helped us along and that this caused our ideas of a benevolent God, but let us ask the Indians about what happens when aliens visit their shores with other intent. The ancients did believe that Gods did such things as well… or are those stories magically made up while the other stories are inspired by historical fact (alien visitation)?

How screwed up is our society? We have become so modern that a belief in God is nearing impossible so to indulge our spiritual side we comfort ourselves with aliens? We have to give it a material cause, don’t we? It can’t be something greater, something more than matter, it must be something we can eventually find and study and conquer. It must be something we can ‘figure out’. How can AA look for clues in the pyramids, the bible, and cave paintings and not see the God that is so clearly in them? Like not seeing a forest through the trees.

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Three Years Coming

February 18, 2009

I get it. I finally get it.

Bauerian philosophy is not one of deconstruction but one of understanding. It is an observation, as such, based on all forms of understanding (reasoning, sense data, common sense, and finally faith). It is not, as he glibly puts it to new initiates, that our senses are tricking us or that there is an illusion involved but rather that there is complexity and contradiction.

All our senses are composed of a duality – the stimuli coming from outside us and the internalization as such. Our eyes, for instance, take in light (external) and then feed electrons to our brain making us perceive color (internal) when indeed the world outside the eye is dark, colorless, and void.

The same goes with hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The ways in which we understand things outside us are different than their internalized form. (This is nothing new). However this cannot be considered a proof for an illusory world because this existence only holds water when an externalized force brings us these confusions. Because there is contradiction then we know both sides must be equally existent because we get the proof of one’s error from the other’s understanding. If held in contradiction in this way then neither can be said to be untrue for the only thing that subverts their existence is the existence of another thing so intimately attached the first that without one there can be no other…

I think…

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Dawkins, Miller, and Bauer

February 4, 2009

The problem is not whether science and religion mix or whether they are contradictory. This is trivial. The problem is that they need to be integrated into one way of thinking. The material and the metaphysical cannot be categorized into different studies lest they be completely disconnected from the actuality of things. When science compartmentalizes it removes itself from any form of truth by negating the most important questions. When metaphysical studies compartmentalize they fail to understand the explanations that our senses give us and fail to take in all possible evidence. There must be a synthesis of the two into a third. More on this later. 

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The Wisdom of the One Percent

January 26, 2009

Disclaimer: This post contains RAGE – if taken seriously or personally then you should not read. The only people this is aimed at in any personal way are Richard Dawkins and Jerry Farwell. Also, please note, I may be one of the 99% – but I still think this needs to be said even if it is contradictory to the premise of the post. I hope you appreciate the irony.

So much could be learned about the metaphysical nature of the universe, its inhabitants, and its causes if 99% of Atheist and 99% of Theists just shut up and went about their lives while the rest of us talked like civilized people about the matter. Too often the 99% of each side are so busy arguing with each other that they fail to listen to the wisdom of the one percent. Even worse is that both sides use such unsophisticated, assumptive, incomplete, and trite arguments that so easily become a caricature of their beliefs in the eyes of the other side.

Some facts to set straight:

Reason cannot know itself and hence is insufficient for understanding the universe on its own.

There ARE contradiction in the Bible. There are, however, contradiction in our everyday life. This is not a sign of non-existence but merely a complication.

The problem of evil is not a problem for any sophisticated mind. Even if God allows evil this makes us only further question his “all-goodness” not his existence.

Disproving one presumed quality of God does not disprove his existence. It instead should drive one to study more.

No argumentation is complete – leave room for change.

Humans cannot know the truest meaning of being and hence nobody is going to prove anything exists or doesn’t.

If you are not interested in changing your mind DON’T go about changing others. Discussion is a tool not a weapon. Likewise, if you already have answers for a question then don’t ask it just to piss people off. Atheist can be saved and there are many Theists smarter than Richard Dawkins.

Lastly, if you are under the age of 35 or do not have a doctorate in Philosophy, Theology, Science, AND Psychology then don’t pretend to be an expert. Stop lifting arguments from actual thinkers and re-arranging them for your convenience. Nothing pisses me off more than a 21 year old who thinks they have everything figured out.

Religion is complicated and complex – if you don’t believe this you are wrong. This is the same fundamental problem for both sets of the 99%. God is difficult, complex, hidden, and probably nothing like we imagine. Aristotle and Plato had a concept of such without at all succumbing to a religion (or science as we know it).  If such a being doesn’t exist it isn’t going to be due to some good \ evil paradox or some logical fallacy. If it doesn’t exist, it simply doesn’t exist and there can be no proof that a hidden God doesn’t exist, it is merely felt and understood. Thus the one percent of Atheists. Atheism should be complex if it aims to be at all serious. People like Dawkins do a great disservice to modern atheists by being their most vocal thinker when indeed Sartre and Nietzsche still hold much more convincing problems.

Any other type of atheism will ultimately be a chosen ignorance based solely on rational propaganda – a chosen way of belief that, for no other reason except the force of their will, has excepted principles that they then deem, again according to their will, to be inconsistent with theism. So long as an Atheist realizes this, I have no problem with the movement; it is much like fundamentalist Christianity. It is when either of these forces pretends to be an authority on the topic of metaphysical being that I become slightly agitated. Stop proselytizing each other, shut the hell up, and let the one percent of genuinely curious metaphysicians duke it out in meaningful conversations rather than pre-arranged diatribe.