Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
November from Now On
Such a profound November. Yet a month I used to dread. But it’s so enchanting. So alluring. It’s amazing how I’ve changed. The benediction of the ultimate acceptance of reality. Not only the acknowledgement, but the embrace of the amoral and dark force in nature. That force being nature itself. A force I revel in. A force my spirit dances in.
It’s a beautiful transformation when a free-spirit, such as myself, realizes and admits to himself that if God exists, he is the father all evil. November blahs go right out the window. Now I only find the melancholy of its grey and blue skies sublime, soothing, truthful, and benevolent. No matter how cold it may get, it makes me feel so warm. So whole. A part of a whole.
The much welcome change into the antithesis of my former apprehension was evident this time last year, but is at full, sublime force and bloom now; just like November (this month I used to despise) always has been and always will be, whether one likes it or not. But what does this mean? It is a not so mere metaphor for how silly, dishonest, and self-alienating idealizing (in its perpetual and unconscious state) is in the face of reality. As if accepting reality and life for what they are is abnegation! The opposite of such cowardice-manipulation is most certainly where one may find the truth. That is, of course, if they have the stomach for it. Look now: I rid myself, once and for all, of all the cowardly untruthfulness of idealism and instead of becoming depressed by the blunt, harsh, gloomy honesty of this month, I now fully delight in it. Like I delight in life. My life. All mine.
I have no delusions to be crushed by. For delusions are so easily shattered and squashed. Entropy, calamity, chaos: these are the true gods of the universe. Unconscious, callous, overtly heartless gods. Prayers don’t come true because they (these terrible three) don’t have ears to hear them with. You must make them come true on your own. Accepting all this aforesaid realism (this true connection with reality) brings us to the embrace of the essence of being and chance. In this way we feel no other option or greater justice than affirming our lives. Seeing all the past as the necessity which led us to the necessary and beloved present, to the rich and relentless here and now. All this is the love of fate.
In this way you will never again be dismayed by the sight of a barren, leafless tree under a grey November sky. You will see in it only beauty, splendor, right, and truth.
May the scales fall from your eyes.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
One thing art can never be is a negation. It can nullify nothing. No matter how shocking, frightful or abhorrent one may find it, it can only be an affirmation of life and of that which peaks through it. If a tragedy, say by Sophocles, brings an entire audience, men and women, to tears, it still remains in the positive. For it has opened up the spectators to life (as long as they have allowed it to). Indeed, their tears are evidence enough of this. Through any piece of artwork – be it a play, a poem, a song, a painting, a movie, a sculpture, etc. – life is opened up through it to the observers or witnesses, and they are in turn opened up to life through it. For this reason, art can only be an affirmation of life and reality, no matter how abstract or surreal a given piece may be. Now in this standard case that I have given, it surely makes the people enthralled feel, and, in that way, it consummates them with life and existence itself, for it gives them a taste of its miseries and sufferings in a ferocious gulp. But let us now put this thesis of art’s inability to negate or be purely negative in the context of the shocking, offensive brand of artwork.
Let us say that we have before us a painting where, at the centre, there stands Adolf Hitler, on a stage – with a halo around his head. Before him stands an enormous pile of human bones and ashes, which he is elevated over. His arms are stretched downwards to the front of him wide open, with eyes directed towards heaven, along with his palms, which are slightly upturned, all as if to give thanks to God, with a look that says, “Thy will be done, Master, for I – am your messenger and prophet. – Mankind’s true Saviour and final Redeemer.” Is this painting in poor taste? Of course. Is it ghastly? Indeed. But does it contribute nothing at all? Certainly not! For it opens us up, with ever greater clarity, to the diseased, depraved mind which produced such a morbid display, or, if it is just another piece of dark, post-modern irony, then at least to the mind of which it expresses and warns of – the mind of the Nazi and Hitler himself. For this reason, with all its negativity, it still carries with it the positivity of truth, which only art can bear (and bare) and encompass, and in all its disturbing affects, negates and/or nullifies nothing. A perspective and deep-seated, abysmal world-view has been realized, and for that alone the artwork is worthy of praise. For that reason alone, its positive character cannot be denied.
And now for the million-dollar question: “Is all art, no matter how ridiculous, positive, then? Does anything declared to be a piece of artwork ‘open one up to life, and life up to the person?’ What about shit on a stick? Does that contain any positivity to it? If so, do tell!” Good question! I like it. I shall indeed oblige, as it is only fair to want to know what could possibly redeem such a display of “art.” And the point will once again be shown that no matter how puerile, “bad” or “shoddy” it may be, an “artwork” is not, and cannot, be a nullification. Even such a vacuous thing as shit on a stick, presented in its glass casing for show at some godforsaken museum, would have its eye-opening aspect to it, and, hence, the dung on a twig, put on display for all to see, would, indeed, contain a fragment of something positive, something truthful. Like all art, it cannot be purely negative, no matter how ugly and grotesque it may seem. For (in this case) it has opened up those who have seen it, and even heard of it, to how desperate some so-called artists are in attracting attention to themselves, and whose egos are so impoverished as starving artists, that they will put out there in the awaiting world the most basest of expressions, in order to have some effect (or affect) on the minds of others. A pathetic expression of will-to-power and a being-in-the-world. Such a sad person would now be opened to the world for existential consideration, even though there would be nothing at all, artistically speaking, to consider in the “abstract” itself. Not to mention, we would have a better idea of what kind of committee such a museum would have as its regulative body. We would be one step closer to answering the infamously rhetorical and undying query, “What’s this world coming to?”
Friday, June 18, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
This will be a preliminary hermeneutic of note 1052 of The Will to Power. What we find here is one of Nietzsche’s greatest dichotomies: “Dionysus and the Crucified.” They represent two types of people. Both of these types are “religious” types, though antithetical to each other in their piety. The former is the pagan, and the latter is the Christian. Dionysus represents “a form of thanksgiving and affirmation of life,” whereas, Christ dead (or dying) on the Cross, represents “an objection to this life, as a formula for its condemnation.” The dichotomy is hence one of life-affirmation (the enhancement of life) versus life-abnegation (the denial of life). Nietzsche uses this antithesis to get to the psychology behind both of them, especially the hidden meaning behind the Crucifix, because the influence of its religiosity has been far too great, and, for Nietzsche, far too fascinating, to be ignored. The meaning of both ends up to be the expression of either strength (as with Dionysus) or weakness (as with the “Crucified”). The former is an abundance of vitality and strength to the point where no matter how much hardship the Dionysian spirit comes into contact with, life is perpetually affirmed, embraced and celebrated with an exuberant soul. This is amor fati: the love of fate.
Because “life itself” reoccurs in all “its eternal fruitfulness,” the Dionysian spirit feels him/herself affirmed within it, as within a whole, in which everything is a part of that whole as what must be, and so feels whole – feels complete. And so the Dionysian revels in life, with all its “torment, destruction,” and perpetual “will to annihilation.” The Dionysian’s inexorable exuberance of spirit demands this. All suffering can be for it is the constant tweaking and sedimentary use of it through creativity and destruction (even creativity in destruction). This is the joy of such a spirit (indeed life cannot help but be a joy for such a spirit). It is its overflowing will-to-power. And if such a type is not satisfied with meanings given to him or her from the outside, then (s)he creates new meanings, and justifies the whole of life through them, until the time comes to even destroy them, and create newer, even more profound meanings and values, and uses them to enter a new life-affirming stage. Perhaps they are even the expression of that new, wondrous stage, whatever it may be. Life is the Dionysian’s journey and adventure to be had. Hence, Dionysus represents the glorification and exaltation of life.
And then, on the antipodal side of this, with all its morbidity and castration of life, is the Crucifix: the glorification and exaltation of death, misery and suffering, and not as a justification of them in life, but as a confounding and eternal charge against life. People wear this symbol around their necks. But would they wear an aborted foetus around their neck? Would they nail one on top of their doorstep so it can bless them as they walk in and out of their home? Of course not. But the Crucifix is an abortion, where God has his son sadistically brought to his death. Comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce most astutely quipped in the 1960s that “If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” “One will see,” Nietzsche says, “that the problem is that of the meaning of suffering.” Here, as the innocent writhes in pain on two slabs of wood, suffering is no longer affirmed, it becomes a weapon, and through it the type of life-sapped weakling, whom is exalted by this imagery, has a nihilistic mouthpiece, which says that all of life is nothing but suffering, and even denies joy as something that can only lead to more suffering, instead of the inverse of this, which is played out by the Dionysian. In this way, the only thing this paltry image justifies is its type’s incapacity to feel the joy of life, and, hence, his/her sloth, hypocrisy and cowardice in refusing to even try and justify it.
“The Christian,” whom Nietzsche believed to be a world-weary calumniator of the earth, “denies even the happiest lot on earth: he is sufficiently weak, poor, disinherited to suffer from life in whatever form he meets it,” even if that be joy and happiness. His constitution is too weak and fragile to handle it, as with any other potency which life may come in. The Dionysian, on the other hand, is a person of eternally durable, sound, self-empowered constitution, which can not only handle such potencies of life, in whatever form they may come, but embraces them, and affirms him/herself, and all the contingencies of life, through them and his/her actions. There is no being overwhelmed for the Dionysian. This is why Nietzsche writes that “the god on the cross is a curse on life, a signpost to seek redemption from life; Dionysus cut to pieces is a promise of life: it will be eternally reborn and return again from destruction.” That is, such a spirit lives as if each moment - is for eternity.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
This preliminary hermeneutic will be an attempt to gain clarity, and a more concise understanding of paragraph one of page 163 of our text of Being and Time. What Heidegger offers us here is the problem and dilemma of empathy, and its association with Dasein and Being-with-one-another. He says that “the special hermeneutic of empathy will have to show how Being-with-one-another and Dasein’s knowing of itself are led astray and obstructed by the various possibilities of Being which Dasein itself possesses so that a genuine ‘understanding’ gets suppressed and Dasein takes refuge in substitutes.” This is one of many of Heidegger’s calls for authenticity. In better understanding the subtle expressions and instances of empathy we may come to a better understanding as to why and how it is that we mask ourselves with so much conviction towards others and even to our own eyes. However, the question is then: why empathy as the bridge to reach this goal of understanding?
In the previous paragraph he wrote that “only on the basis of Being-with does ‘empathy’ become possible: it gets its motivation from the unsociability of the dominant modes of Being-with.” That is, empathy can only show its kind smile, in the muck and swamp of human disingenuousness and callousness, which is human interaction with subjects for the most part. Especially when others are treated as mere “subjects,” or “numerals,” as Heidegger puts it. One could easily get the idea that perhaps all this talk of “Others” is a direct precursor to Sartre’s famous, dark words in No Exit: “Hell is other people.” But I digress. The point is that to suddenly feel empathy is to allow one’s Being-with to be a vulnerable state and openness towards others. It is also a break and relaxation from the frivolous expending of Dasein’s energy on Being-with-one-another as something other than oneself, and in convincing oneself that this inauthentic display and phoniness is actually the real self – the real Being of one’s self.
In coming to know why empathy is suddenly felt, we may come to know what the instances are to bring about this species of feeling, and why, for the most part, we have a sense of selfish apathy towards others to the point where we have to fog our constant inward glance, so that we see a person other than the one we actually are. For the actual image of ourselves could very well be a revolting sight to our very Dasein if it stood there bare, clad in nothing but clarity. He states that “the possibility of understanding the stranger correctly presupposes such a hermeneutic as its positive existential condition.” Meaning, the legitimate and honest-eyed taking of this task is also a will-to-authenticity and embrace of the Being-with and Dasein-with of another. In this way, a positive, genuine Being-with-one-another can be achieved, and in the process, our actual Being can possibly be realized.
All this coupled with his further claim that “so far as Dasein is at all, it has Being-with-one-another as its kind of Being” reminds me a great deal of the arguments for existentialism, ethics and freedom laid forth by Simone De Beauvoir in The Ethics of Ambiguity, that isolation of any kind is counter to freedom and is in fact a form of slavery. We need others to feel and truly experience our freedom. In the ebb and flow of our reactions between each other - in the gifts, benevolence and echoes of truth we grant each other - we are truly free. “To will oneself free is also to will others free,” she said. Our very presence grants people the ability to choose how to manoeuvre and exist around us. Without others and objects there is no choice to be made and, therefore, no actual liberty of movement and reaction. We cannot act on our freedom if there is nothing to express it for and fulfill it with. She explains that being imprisoned is the worst kind of punishment because one merely exists, and cannot contribute to an outside world. The prisoner lives only as a “for-itself.”
And so with Heidegger, an “‘inconsiderate’ Being-with ‘reckons’ with the Others without seriously ‘counting on them’, or without even wanting to ‘have anything to do’ with them.” Yet, as he warns in the following paragraph, “One’s own Dasein, like the Dasein-with of Others, is encountered proximally and for the most part in terms of the with-world with which we are environmentally concerned.” And so, in a life without a concern for the world or the people around us, or even a life in complete isolation, for that matter, we offer our Dasein no assistance whatsoever in knowing, finding or understanding our essence, our Being. The Being of our Dasein, therefore, becomes the sham and facade of a base, shallow, inauthentic existence.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
This will be a preliminary-hermeneutic of page 169 of our translation of Phenomenology of Perception. Here, Merleau-Ponty explains that sexuality “can underlie and guide specified forms of” our experience, “without being the object of any intended act of consciousness.” This makes sexuality “co-extensive with life.” Meaning, it is so heavily and richly intertwined with human actions and lifestyles, that ambiguity is, in fact, “the essence of human existence,” granting the dynamically colourful nature of “everything we live or think,” hence our lives always having “several meanings.” It is for this reason that it is impossible to untie the two – existence and sexuality – in order to understand the preconscious sexual undertones of any given situation, making a purely Freudian attempt quite futile. All of our human motives and motility could be “perhaps a generalized expression of a certain state of sexuality,” which makes figuring out the precise source of “so many rationally based decisions” impossible for seeing where one begins and one ends, for the simple reason that it is not merely about one beginning and one ending. They are both concomitantly working together as sublimated sexuality by virtue of being in the world.
“The framework of sexuality” and “the framework of existence,” due to being “so loaded with the passage of time,” have become completely inextricable. As Merleau-Ponty puts it, “There is an interfusion between sexuality and existence, which means that existence permeates sexuality and vice versa, so that it is impossible to determine, in a given decision or action, the proportion of sexual to other motivations, impossible to label a decision or act ‘sexual ‘or ‘non-sexual’.” Hence the hidden acts of sexuality when walking to our car, when riding a bicycle, when going grocery shopping, when buying a movie ticket, when catching a Frisbee and the possibility of having a preconscious orgasm when we finish washing the dishes. “The fact remains that this existence is the act of taking up and making explicit a sexual situation, and that in this way it has always at least a double sense.”
This could, in fact, make sense within a lock-and-key understanding of what Merleau-Ponty is trying to say. It makes sense within his philosophical framework of phenomenology that our sexuality be, in fact, located not only throughout our very limbs, but also in the things we encounter in our day-to-day lives. They are what bring out our “sexuality” in its generalized form. They unlock a specific amount and type of our sexuality in a given, particular scenario, in a way that no other particularity could at that moment or with another person. The experience becomes the key to unlocking a specific, transformed sexual movement. Hence why a given person’s sexual energy might be more vibrant when going to see a travel agent, than when going to a job interview for a job he or she has no desire of being employed in. The way we bend our arm to go for a glass of wine could be sexually charged quite differently than the way we bend it for a glass of grape juice. However, to say it again, we have no way of determining which act has more sexual content in it than another.
This sublimation of our sexuality by our very existence, Merleau-Ponty calls “transcendence,” and is a “tension which is essential to it” – existence, that is. An asexual drive, then, would be the essence of a very different type of existence than a sexually driven one. Our sexuality must, then, be one of the forming factors of our habits, and part of the fixation which expels itself through them with subtle variability in different moments throughout our lives. However, with or without habits, the sexual fixation is always there. Except, it is not that it is behind our thoughts, it is our thoughts, irrelevant that they may not be explicitly, or even implicitly, sexual in nature. And it cannot be determined how our sexuality will expel itself in our daily lives, based on how it might have in the past, due 1) to the fact that we do not know exactly how it has done so in the first place, as our sexuality has been so finely fused with us as a whole, and 2) to the indeterminacy of existence itself.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
When I finally wrote out this argument back in July of '08, it had been something I'd been wanting to put down on paper for quite some time. I've added and taken away from it since then, though. And with it being Valentine's Day Weekend, I thought I'd make it red, being as it is my favourite colour, and 'cause I'm a sentimental guy. :) It always makes me shake my head when I hear a theist say that “God exists outside of time.” As if time is a fucking bubble you can jump in and out of. Such monstrous nonsense! - Mainly because it is being claimed about a living being. (I will explain why shortly). Their claim is often coupled with their rhetorical question, “how can something come from nothing?” But this is a straw-man, to be sure, for whoever said it did, outside of conjecture? It was never claimed as a scientific theory that the universe came out of nothing. Time began at the Big Bang, and to put it more precisely, the Big Bang is the shifting of time and energy. It is also the expansion of the black matter of space; something which is still expanding as you read this, and will continue to for quite some time. At the time of the Big Bang, all that existed were energy and elementary particles. In a televised conversation with Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, and journalist Magnus Magnusson back in 1988, Stephen Hawking actually refers to a "before the Big Bang," in the same paradoxical sentence that he states that time began at the Big Bang, which is very perplexing, but understandable, since we are so often confined to verbal language: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O9cYTZXekA. (Thank Dog for YouTube). Anyway, if time had not yet existed, they (energy and those elementary particles) are what would have existed “outside of time,” if anything ever did exist in this abstract, non-rational way. Meaning, it can be inferred from this alone, that something always existed, and never nothing. Putting God in the picture merely complicates things, and it is quite unnecessary. Therefore, Occam’s razor is fulfilled by there not being a God. But this argument is not nearly strong enough to show a devout theist the unlikelihood of God. So let’s move on.
For much more importantly, one only needs to observe the First Law of Thermodynamics as to clearly see why it is that there could have never been nothing, and that science in fact claims the contrary. For it states that – come on, everybody say it with me – “energy cannot be created nor destroyed.” Meaning, all the energy that currently exists in the universe has always existed, and no god or first cause was ever required to create it. That is, under this natural law: something has always existed – and never nothing. But this is controversial, as well, as it is hypothesized by many that this law which energy lives by only came into existence after energy itself came into existence, after the Big Bang, and not before (and, once again, I don’t even know what “before” could even mean in regard to the Big Bang). After all, how could energy exist at all, if not along side time? Exactly. And I pose this question for God’s existence, as well. And you don’t have to repeat to me the mantra that “God is spirit and beyond our understanding,” as I don’t believe in sprits, and am trying to explain inductions and deductions which I and others have come to based on what we know about the natural world. Can you at least be serious till the end of this write, please, and put aside your petty, unfalsifiable metaphysics? I thank you for your cooperation.
So here is where the theist and even deist anxiously jump in. “But you clearly have not disproved God,” they say, happily and proudly stating the obvious. No, of course I haven’t. I have only shown his/her/its existence to be improbable and superfluous. Disproving God, on the other hand - is what I am about to do.
The main two aspects of the theistic God are that he has a mind, and was himself not created, as he is the beginning of all things. That is, he is both sentient and the alpha. But a sentient being cannot be the alpha! All sentient beings have a first thought, a first feeling, a first perception. God would have had to of had a first thought, feeling, perception. There cannot be an infinite regress of these things. There cannot be an infinite regress of a stream of consciousness. It is a logical absurdity. Awareness and thinking begin for all sentient beings at a point in time. God, like all sentient beings, would have had to have come into existence. He would have had to have evolved into existence, as all new species do, or he would have had to have been created by a being greater than he, which means he wouldn’t be God – in the first place. Therefore, though it is possible for a supreme being to exist, it is quite impossible – for God to. And let no one tell you that God cannot be disproved, or that he exists outside of time, ever again, especially since thinking (or simply awareness), something God does partake in supposedly, occurs in time, and we have now seen the consequences of that, as there cannot be an infinite regress of thoughts, or awareness in general. Sorry, theists.
Of course, we would be shamefully naïve if we thought it ended here. For they could just wave their pious hands at all this, as they are so good at doing, and say 1. God is all-knowing and therefore does not need to think, and 2. if it is plausible for there to be an infinite regress of time, then it is plausible for there to be an infinite regress of thoughts, and if time did not need a beginning, then neither would a sentient being necessarily have to (in this case, God). But of course this is just more nonsense:
1. Someone can know all there is to know about a subject and still have to think about it, and not merely to remember or analyze it either. Look: 2 + 2 = 4. You already knew that two plus two equaled four, yet seeing that made you think about it. Why? Because you're a sentient being and are therefore aware of the world going on around you. Well, God, if he existed, would be aware of the entire UNIVERSE that he decided to create. Thoughts are thoughts, and neither thinking nor awareness are not negated by omniscience. In fact, thinking and awareness are a prerequisite for omniscience. After all, how could our beloved supreme being in question know, if he could not even think? And if he wasn't aware of anything, how could he know anything? It makes no sense. His sentience is perpetual, as it is for all sentient beings until they die. And there simply cannot be an infinite regress of sentience. Again, it's a logical absurdity.
2. First, the burden of proof would be on the person saying that time did not begin, since the Big Bang Theory is so well established. However, open-minded as we are, let us accept that it is at least possible that time did not begin and that there is an infinite regress of it. This does not negate the logical absurdity of an infinite regress of thoughts or awareness (i.e., sentience), as thoughts are propelled forwards by a thinking being, not backwards. If then they reach for the bottom of the barrel for the old hat that God cannot be comprehended by our finite minds, then we can merely say, “But thinking can be, for it is something we, animals and birds do, indeed, partake in.” Here, then, is where they might desperately rebut that it could very well be that there is an infinite regress of God’s thoughts and awareness, but we just cannot comprehend that backwards stream of consciousness, as we cannot comprehend there being an infinite regress of time. However, in this case, God cannot exist within the realm of logic, reason and the natural sciences (a wicked game of hide-and-go-seek) and faith in his/her/its existence is merely and disturbingly illogical belief in the absurd and realistically impossible.
But, then again, we already knew that, didn’t we, my fellow atheists? I mean…what else could their faith be?
“Faith is believing what you know aint true.” – Samuel Clemens
Friday, January 22, 2010
As far as Nietzsche could see, the Christian god wants more than anything that we deny ourselves the sensualities and worldliness of this life (Stoic philosophy, the dominating philosophy of Tarsus, where St. Paul was from, being the backbone of the New Testament). But for Nietzsche, self-denial is the embrace of nothingness (a dominating theme throughout his later works). It is the embrace of death while still alive. Basically, it is the crucifixion of all that makes us human. 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, eats, breathes, etc., but he is dead. The shell of a hallow man, one might say. And because the Christian god wants self-abnegation of us as an ideal, he – is dead. It is for this that in Twilight of the Idols he calls Christianity a “hangman’s metaphysics,” (The Four Great Errors, 7), and says that “Christianity, which despised the body, has up till now been mankind’s greatest misfortune” (Expeditions, 47). Or as he so succinctly summed it up in The Anti-Christ: “In God nothingness deified, the will to nothingness sanctified!” (18).