Whatever that is out there to find that makes you happy, content, fulfilled, or curious comes from inside you. If you find anything that does so outside of you, it is because it reflects something that was inside you from the beginning.
Archive for the ‘Questioning’ Category
“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.
Voting is a mechanism invented so people can distance themselves from responsibility. Voters never really DO anything they just vote for people who do things. Those people, in turn, say that they do everything FOR the voters. In the end when shit goes down, each sides points to each other until the next election when everything is “changed” by electing a “different type” of president. Another example of great and wonderful American Democracy.
I will grant you that any complexity can be arrived at through random process IF you grant me that all processes appear random until fully understood. Likewise, all complexity appears random in origin if its complexity is beyond our understanding, since the term ‘random’ most nearly equates to faithfully chaotic.
I will agree that order is subjective IF you agree that chaos in any form implies an order. Furthermore, if you want to say order is illusory than so much be function, or purpose, or anything really. Happiness, sorrow, death, and life have no order and hence no hope of construction, reconstruction, or understanding.
I just realized how similar allusion is to plagiarism. The poet uses works of other men’s imagination to make thoughts more clear. For instance, I think the sentence “I’ll ask them about the weather or how the weather used to be” was pretty apt in my previous entry. It is indeed a lyric stolen by one of my poetic heroes John K Samson. Now, is my use of that sentence plagiarism of his work or allusion to his work?
ps. A brief apology to John K. Samson if such is plagiarism… and can I have your autograph? Thanks.
“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.
Posted in Humility, Magnanimity, Metaphyics, Modernity, Politics, Questioning, Technology, Theology, Understanding, Wonderment | Tagged Antiquity, Atheism, Death, Life, Lisbon, Modernity, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Renaissance | 4 Comments »
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.
Posted in Metaphyics, Modernity, Questioning, Rant, Technology, Theology, Understanding, Wonderment | Tagged Ancient Astronaut, Art, evidence, God, Monsters Inc, mythology, panspermia, Rant, Science | 13 Comments »