Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To Hell with Hell

Something has been bothering me for quite some time now. I think for almost as long as I can remember. The unwarranted fear of this nonexistent place called hell is truly an unfortunate thing. An underlying, subterranean social cancer, one might say. It used to keep me up nights as a child and well into adulthood; tossing and turning the precious night hours away; imagining myself and everyone I ever cared about screaming in perpetual agony for all eternity in a pit of never-ending hellfire. I honestly think that religious inculcation is child abuse and that people who put the fear of hell into their children should have their children taken away from them. And it’s ironic that the two gods most responsible for breeding this fear of eternal destruction are the god of the Bible and the god of the Koran. The two most despicable deities man ever invented: deities whom, according to their very own holy texts, are responsible for the most atrocious and deplorable crimes ever committed against humanity. Many of which are acts a human being could never execute, i.e., Zechariah 14:1-2 where Jehovah sends an army into Jerusalem to ransack the homes and rape the women. Or Deuteronomy 28:53-57 and Jeremiah 19:9 where he makes people eat each other and their children. Stephen King doesn’t even write this shit! What is supernatural and also inhuman about such verses, and all the others the Bible is peppered with, besides the most obvious, is that God takes away the freewill of the people being forced to commit these evils with a clear conscience, and controls them like their pawns on a chessboard. This is something a human tyrant could not do no matter how badly he may want to. There is no character in all of literary fiction more worthy of eternal damnation than such a being as this. People actually pray to him, it’s disgusting!

“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.” – Thomas Paine

There are so many miserable, divorced Catholic and Orthodox women out there who had a horrific marital experience, and who now either live in loneliness or in constant guilt and fear for their mortal souls, because they currently “live in sin.” Allow me to elaborate. In Christianity – and the Catholic and Orthodox churches are the only ones who have remained dogmatically true to this – divorce and remarriage to somebody else is only permitted by the lunatic from Nazareth if the first spouse was guilty of infidelity. By any other reason and remarriage is an act of adultery. Meaning, if a man beats the living hell out of his wife on a regular basis, and even gambles her money away, she may leave him only to remain single for the rest of her life, because he did not cheat on her. If she finds another man – one who treats her right, and gives her the good life she deserves – both are guilty of adultery and will be thrown into a lake of fire and sulfur for it for all eternity. This is how evil and sadistic the Christian god is! This is why I hate him so much! He’s the most malicious monster of monsters! What, should the poor, abused woman remain with her tyrannous husband until he beats her to death one day? And why should she remain alone forever if she does the right thing and leaves him? Does she not deserve happiness? Such detestable misogyny! Thankfully, marriage (at least heterosexual marriage) is being slowly abolished along with Christianity itself. And on a side note, if you compare Matthew 19:9 to Mark 10:11-12, Christ contradicts himself on the matter. (The reason being, of course, that the gospel writers didn’t know each other, and so couldn’t check each other’s notes.) In Matthew, divorce and remarriage is allowed due to unfaithfulness. However, in Mark, it is not allowed at all, and is adultery on all counts. All of this nonsense is a perfect example of what Richard Dawkins rightly calls “obnoxious morality.” Heh. I like that.

Now, like I said, there has been something on my mind for quite some time now. Almost all my life. It is the existential problem, as I see it, between the day to day interactions of people with the different belief-systems of hell. Not to mention the psychological problem of a believer (in such a place) in consorting or even acquainting themselves with a nonbeliever. It is a matter of inauthenticity and self-deceit. And as someone who used to be Christian, it is a problem which I once experienced within myself, all the while wondering how other believers dealt with it. Allow me to illustrate my point.

A Christian wakes up on Sunday morning and goes to church with his wife and kids (unless, of course, they are Seventh Day Adventists). When consorting with his fellow believers, he does so with a belief in his mind that he may also consort with them for all eternity after death in the bliss of heaven. When he interacts with family members of the same creed, it is with this same species of feeling. Nothing along the lines of convinced fear for their mortal souls exists. But the next day he goes to work. He interacts with fellow coworkers of many different superstitions other than his, along with those who carry none at all. But he smiles to all of them. He wishes them well. He bids them good day. He gives them high fives. He works with them earnestly to achieve their goals and deadlines. He gives them assistance, encouragement and praise. Nobody acts like there is an apocalypse on its way to swallow the majority of the human race into eternal, fiery torment. Well, most don’t anyway. Yet, as far as he is considered, he knows it as fact that most of them (unless they are of likeminded faith) are going to burn in hell forever and ever. And if he is a Catholic Christian he even feels this way about his Protestant coworkers, and they, if they are indeed devout, think this way about him. His Muslim coworkers feel that way about him, as well, along with all their other non-Muslim coworkers, whom they also feel that way towards, no matter, of course, how good they are as human beings.

But they act like everything is A-OK. But how can it be okay? If most of their coworkers, acquaintances, and the majority of humankind, who they claim are their brothers and sisters, are going to end up in the most horrific, nightmarish place imaginable, then should they not naturally be in a constant state of nausea and deep, dark depression, peppered with bouts of solemn weeping? How can they say that they are filled with their god’s love, yet not be in the constant turmoil of the conflicting feelings between wanting to be content and happy, and feeling nothing but the most ceaseless fear, pity and sadness for the accursed lot of people who they know and do not know? How then can they say that they love them, when they act like everything is fine and show no concern for them whatsoever? And, indeed, the only way for them to function properly from day to day is if they push these terrible feelings down into the trenches of their guts, and these morbid thoughts into the abyss of their mind. And in so doing, every “hi, how are you?” from a believer to an unbeliever is completely fallacious, because it does not matter how they are, hell awaits them. Every “good morning” and “good night” is tainted with a falsehood that increases along with the smile they are both presented and present with. Every “I hope you‘re doing well” is tainted with a morbid disingenuousness, because it does not matter how they are doing in this world if an eternity of weeping, and whaling and gnashing of teeth is their inevitable, godforsaken end, and deep down inside every believer knows it. But they have to act like everything’s okay. They must lie to themselves that everything is okay so they can have some semblance of peace in a life where it is already so hard to find. Otherwise, the thoughts and images of most of the people they know and care about (even family members of different beliefs) suffering to no avail would weigh down on them to the point where they could no longer function in society. So, as a defense mechanism, they push them away, and their conscience does not, in turn, constantly bite and nip at them for not always feeling remorse for their fellow man, woman and child, and for not proselytizing every chance they get in order to save them, making a complete nuisance and pestering bug of themselves. They may even “convince” themselves the miserable, absurd lie that all those people actually deserve what they are going to get, because it is decreed and handed down by their infallible, righteous, divine Judge. Either way, they teach themselves the abysmal habit of looking at themselves dishonestly. All this is a form of cognitive dissonance. The type of thing George Orwell termed doublethink.

And so instinctual concern and compassion for those whom, according to their holy writ, are damned forever, is smothered away and replaced with a weaker, tainted, plastic one. And the bad conscience that comes with this is now and then appeased by praying for the infidels and heretics to “come to the light.” Then they can tell themselves that though most are going to burn anyway, at least they’re doing their part. Yet, according to those two monsters of monotheism (Christianity and Islam), everyone who has ever lived or will live is predestined to either go to heaven or hell. So they should know very well, then, that there is no point in praying for them at all. It is futile. All this has implicitly bred in all believers in hell (and there are a few billion of them) an inauthenticity and callousness like no other. For if they actually considered what it all actually meant, and dwelt on it for an extended period of time, that, say, a beautiful human being (a philanthropist perhaps) is to burn in hell simply for not being baptized or for eating pork, for example, their natural care for their fellow species would have their conscience scream at them at how wrong it all is, and they would begin to doubt, as most actually do, whether they would like to admit it or not. And this doubt would grow and grow until it completely swept over their mind, heart and conscience and eventually blossomed into the emancipation of the fruits of a healthy skepticism and naturalistic world view. They would be cleansed of such a poisonous, masochistic superstition. No longer would they have to believe that most of the innocent, smiling or frowning faces which they see from day to day are going to end up in unending punishment at the hands of a merciless, totalitarian god, who we are supposed to believe is a god of love. For if the believer accepts all this madness for what it is, he or she would have to admit the simple fact that such a god has no love in him at all.

And if the aforesaid Christian man was raised Muslim, he would believe what Muslims believe about the matter: namely that all non-Muslims, like him, are eternally damned to hell. And if he were raised a Hindu or a Buddhist, he would be damned by both of these monotheistic standards, and, most importantly – it would not be his fault. And if either Christianity or Islam is correct, most people are handed at childhood onwards with a one way ticket to perdition. And, indeed – it is not their fault. No, no; this is most certainly NOT okay!

Now, let us say, hypothetically speaking, of course, that if this madman from Nazareth, this Lion of the Tribe of Judah, this Jesus Christ, were to return one day, with a double-edged sword coming out of his mouth, to throw the vast majority of the human race into a lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity, simply for not believing in him, or for not believing in him strongly enough, would it not be our duty to prevent such an unimaginably horrific and horrible thing from happening? Would it not be, out of our love for mankind, an obligation and privilege to crucify him and everything he stands for – once and for all?!

I think so...I think so...

If it wasn’t for the fear-tactics of hell and the devil, Christianity and Islam would have been footnotes in history!

Peace. Love. Abort Christ!

Cool Night Deceit

I love the cool night air,
The way it fills up my lungs...
The way it breezes by my ears,
Whispering the songs never sung.

Cool, summer-night air,
A microcosmic bliss...
Being the things that mean something,
Being a love that I miss.

Too-cool, summer-night breeze,
One that can make me ill...
Though I can’t bring myself to leave you,
And the wretched hope you instill.

Cold, summer-night wind,
An unfair surprise...
I now must escape thee,
And your enchanting, truthful lies.

The Gay Science (Review)

"'Evil has always had great effects in its favor. And nature is evil. Let us therefore be natural.' That is the secret reasoning of those who have mastered the most spectacular effects, and they have all too often been considered great human beings.” – The Gay Science; 225

I read this 19th-Century masterpiece of literature back in December, and then felt compelled to write this review. It was the eleventh book of Friedrich Nietzsche’s that I had read. All that was left was Nietzsche Contra Wagner, which I read this summer when I had the chance. I can surely understand why The Gay Science is so many people’s favourite. Here he puts art above science, knowledge above “truth,” and, as always, the affirmation of life up against its denial and slander. But what the book is most renowned for is the announcement that “God is dead,” and the notion of the eternal recurrence. The former requires much work to still be done in the realm of science and language, as the shadows of God remain, and they, too, must be – annihilated.

The meaning of "God is dead" has, for the most part, been explained as God being dead in comparison to how alive he was prior to the Enlightenment. For prior to the Enlightenment, everything (in Europe, anyway) was seen through theistic eyes; be it science, knowledge or “wisdom.” The search for truth in every sense was instinctively sought in and through God. Self- and external discovery was bound to theism at the hip. With the Enlightenment, God was removed, and reason put in his place. One might say he was flattened and crushed by it.

There is, of course, another interpretation of the statement “God is dead,” which one rarely ever hears touched upon, but is just as important, if not more so, and is well tied into what Nietzsche says in Thus Spoke Zarathustra of God being killed by pity. The Christian god wants more than anything that we deny ourselves this life. (Stoicism being the backbone of the New Testament). Basically, it is a call for the crucifixion of all that makes us human. But for Nietzsche, self-denial is the embrace of nothingness (a dominating theme in On the Genealogy of Morals and The Anti-Christ), and nothingness is precisely what death is. Therefore, self-denial is the embrace of death while one is still alive. For Nietzsche, the Buddhist or Christian monk who has been able to kill off all his desires, and blunt himself against life, is officially dead. He walks, talks, breathes, eats, etc, but he is dead. A living sack of meat, one might say. And because the Christian god wants self-abnegation of us as an ideal, he – is dead. For Nietzsche, Christianity is the ultimate attack on and nay-saying of life. This life, that is. As there is no other.

As for the matter of pity in Zarathustra, his following book, and how it fits into all of this, it is also a Christian matter. He called Christianity "the religion of pity." As most know, as it is overt, the god of The Old Testament is a god of power, vengefulness and animosity, and the god of the New Testament a god of love; yet, it is supposedly the same god. Except, he expresses this love by pitying our so-called “sinful natures.” For Nietzsche, this is a wearying violation of conscience, as there is nothing – absolutely nothing – to be pitied here. Our instincts and natural inclinations are to be embraced, sharpened and affirmed, and because this wretched, insipid, obnoxious god wants the contrary of us, namely to kill off our desires, he has inevitably died off (at least in comparison to his tyrannical dominion over Europe in the Middle Ages), as what is unnatural and/or wearying of the human spirit cannot last forever. Furthermore, it is quite astounding to our logic that all of a sudden this Old Testament god of wrath, bigotry and violence is insatiably in love with the entire world (not just the Jews anymore), and shows it by having his son brutally tortured and executed. This morbid nonsense could surely not have lasted forever in the hearts of man as the absolute, glorious truth.

The truth of the matter is, there is far too much that Nietzsche packed into this marvelous book, especially with book five, which he added four years later in 1886, and the Appendix of Songs the following year, for me to even attempt to successfully and justly summarize it all in a little review. But I will explain some fundamental aspects of it, like the vitriolic attack on the search for the absolute truth of things, which is first introduced in section 4 of the Preface. Nietzsche doesn’t know what the truth could possibly be, but he does know that, because the truth of something is a statement to which nothing more can be added, we do not have the means of ever finding it, nor should we want to be able to. For him such truth-claims are a product of laziness and an expression of death, which is why he calls truth an “old hag,” and why in aphorism 344 he identifies the will to truth as “a concealed will to death.” The horizons are limitless for Nietzsche. They are eternal, and there will always be more to learn, especially about human existence, which offers infinite interpretations, and he would not want it any other way, nor can he fathom why someone would want such an insipid, lifeless thing. In fact, if there were a God, Nietzsche would willingly praise him for our fate being this way and no other, which is another aspect of his philosophy that is first mentioned here and again in Ecce Homo: amor fati – the love of fate.

We cannot claim to know all there is to know about the causes of human motives and inspiration (our own, first and foremost), not just because all people and situations are different, but because we are the thing knowing and so are riddled with blind spots towards our inner selves. This, of course, also applies to trying to know the world around us in general. For this reason, which I have here so quickly and coarsely summed up, as there is so much more to this, he sides with Leibniz over Descartes that knowledge is to be sought and accumulated from the object, not the subject. Vice versa is futile, because in the process of knowing, our stream of consciousness continually brings about more that can and cannot be known. It is an infinite cycle that can get us nowhere in trying to learn about the world around us. And he agrees with Hume, as pretty much all the post-Enlightenment thinkers do (though without saying that is what he is doing, as he, for the most part, found Hume's philosophy to be petty and frivolous) that our reason is a slave to our passions, and Nietzsche expounds that when we discover or accept a new truth over one we used to embrace, it is because we have changed, and are ready to put on a new skin, which better suits our present selves.

A very interesting and undeniably ingenious section of the book is aphorism 354, entitled "On the genius of the species.” Nietzsche takes his usual burrowing stab at the origins of human consciousness and self-consciousness. He expounds for quite a bit that the former developed out of a need for communication, particularly between those who command and those who obey. It has evolved around humanity’s “social or herd nature” as a required “social or herd utility.” The latter is a by-product of actual human interaction, communication and the need to express ourselves as clearly as possible to our fellow Homosapiens. This made us very conscious of ourselves, and, therefore, “it was only as a social animal that man acquired self-consciousness – which he is still in the process of doing, more and more.” In constantly needing to assess ourselves and how well we are establishing what we want to communicate, self-consciousness came to be. Due to all of this, the “genius of the species” is what has us see the world, not as it actually is (though it might by fluke sometimes), but as is best for the herd – for the species. All our thoughts are continually “governed by the character of consciousness – by the ‘genius of the species’ that commands it – and translated back into the perspective of the herd.”

As with his other works, the problem of morality is of prime interest. A major aspect of it is, of course, that people use morality to appear and feel superior to others. It is a weapon and tool of their inferiority and feebleness. It is a mask and masquerade. In aphorism 352, he propounds that the person who needs this moral attire the most, is not the barbaric type, but the weak “herd animal with its profound mediocrity, timidity, and boredom with itself,” who then uses morality to appear justified and “divine.” A sage and/or religious founder, like Buddha or St. Paul, must have the genius of understanding the correct morality that will best fit and attract a people in a given place and time, which will in turn inspire followers and zealous devotion (353). And, as for philosophers, be they moral fanatics like Kant or not, there is nothing more paltry and pathetic to Nietzsche, than a philosopher who cannot laugh at himself and the world around him from time to time. Walter Kaufmann, who offers incredibly insightful footnotes, as usual, remarks that most of Nietzsche’s interpreters, critics and detractors were incapable of laughing at themselves.

As for his wonderfully superb attacks and mockery of nationalism (in particularly German nationalism), antisemitism, pessimism, mysticism and all the rest on Christianity and the Christian god, I will not dare to even begin to try and summarize it all here. It’s all too brilliant and fun, and would be quite unjust of me. I only recommend this entire book be read, and everything in it be pondered on without haste by the reader, preferably with a fierce, exuberant heart, under warm, sunny skies, or majestic, starry nights.

A TOAST, then! To the death of God! How I love the smell of his rotting carcass!!

Remember: just because God is dead, it doesn't mean we have to be. :)

Fool in Despair

All that I wrote on table and wall
With a foolish heart and foolish scrawl
Was meant to add a little grace.

You say: “The hands of fools deface
Table and wall – one must erase
All he has written, all!”

I’d like to help as best I can:
I wield a sponge, as you recall,
As critic and as waterman.

But when the cleaning up is done,
Let’s see the super-sage emit
Upon the walls sagacious shit!

- From the Appendix of Songs -

Monday, August 24, 2009

Man and His Mortality

Sometimes I think “Mother Nature” went too far when she created a creature that can comprehend its own mortality. Madness has reigned upon the earth ever since. Man. Homosapien sapien. He was put on this earth and wants to know why. Demands to know why! And this demand is inexorable. This demand is nonnegotiable. But the thought and horror of ever ending for good...well, this is simply unacceptable. “Me? Expire?” Man asks himself baffled and incredulous. “But how can that be? I’m far too important! I mean...this is I we are talking about! I’m too special and spectacular to ever simply...end! People just don’t know it. The world...go on without me? ME, for god sakes?! Pah! Such impudence!” But it wasn’t enough that man should delude himself with the idea of immortality. He had to make himself into something of remarkable importance. So he made himself a sight for the gods. But first he had to invent them.

Thereafter, supercilious irrationality and unreason swept the earth like a predestined, unthinking, unrelenting odium with only one purpose: to fulfill the masochistic need(s) of the human race. War, petty feuds, petty bitterness, petty resentment, trifles, intolerance, religion, rape-morality, scandal, lies, marriage, gossip, self-denial, self-laceration, consumerism, trivial controversy, garbage-news, and soap operas! O, how pitifully this pathetic, feeble-minded creature deals with the absurdity of its existence! Man has to show man who’s boss while getting his base entertainment fix. “All others must be brought down below me, for I alone must be deemed great!” Thus man enviously, insecurely, and moronically declares to himself. He sees himself above the rabble. Yet he runs with them, agrees with them, yearns with them – is them. He craves the same petty, mind-numbing entertainment of unneeded wants and idiotic travesty-outrages. Anything to keep him feeling alive and occupied. O, how man runs with all his might away from the vacuum known as his unconscious mind and the main awareness-of (topic) which dominates it: death. His impending doom. All his “needs” and time-wastes are him panting and sweating as he runs in the other direction; for this vacuum sucks at him hard, nonstop and effortlessly. Since his beginning. Day in and day out.

But, I wish the best for mankind. Truly. I hope that one day it rids itself of its silly, self-made, “protective” shells of stupidity. For each of our lives are so short – and this must be embraced – and it is only right that we affirm them with truth and joy. There is no need for man to constantly attack, torment, waste and ravage himself and his fellow beings. This is not what life is for. But as long as the mob’s masochism prevails, we shall never be all that we can be. Is this perhaps a process of our evolution? Could be, but I fear that we may completely destroy ourselves before “nature” opens all of our eyes. Man seems to have much more losing to do before he finally learns how to facing his fears.

"Oh this insane, pathetic beast - man! What ideas he has, what unnaturalness, what paroxysms of nonsense, what bestiality of thought erupts as soon as he is prevented just a little from being a beast in deed! [...] Here is sickness, beyond any doubt, the most terrible sickness that has ever raged in man; and whoever can still bear to hear (but today one no longer has ears for this!) how in this night of torment and absurdity there has resounded the cry of love, the cry of the most nostalgic rapture, of redemption through love, will turn away, seized by invincible horror. - There is so much in man that is hideous! - Too long, the earth has been a madhouse! -" - Friedrich Nietzsche; On the Genealogy of Morals

January 2, 2007