Monday, June 12, 2006

Ask Not For Whom the Troll Smells, It Smells For Thee

The internet is so rich, it’s impossible to keep up. I’m still trying to assimilate the celestial teachings of my former critic and current teacher, Copithorne, when the maestro comes out of hiding and produces this mighty slapshot from the clueline.

But now I’m confused, because while I respect Van der Leun, and while I suppose he has a certain way with righteous anger, it’s still anger, and therefore impure. For example, he makes me a tad uncomfortable when he writes that “we need to acknowledge and celebrate the grand contradiction of the American character. This is that, as individuals we are a kind, generous, and always well-meaning, if not perfect, people. But piss us off as a group severely enough and we will reduce your cities to even smaller chunks of rubble than they are naturally.”

Is that nice? Is that the type of more "sensitive war" promised by John Kerry? I don’t know if he’s just trying to be “funny” or hyperbolic or one of those other literary thingys, but it sounds to me like 1) he’s condoning anger, 2) that there are situations in which it would ever be appropriate to act on this anger, and 3) that it might even be sort of... pleasurable to do so.

Yes, there is something chillingly unfunny about Mr. Van der Leun and his... his chillingly unfunny anger, even if his writing is superfically very deep and full of substance. Copithorne poses the question thus: “I can certainly understand that people with a particular theological perspective can appear to enjoy violence. But how do people like Zarqawi and Gagdad Bob come to that appreciation?”

How indeed? As I said, I’m still in the process of absorbing Copithorne’s teachings, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to lump me in with Zarqawi anymore. Not so Van der Leun, whose soul--I don’t mean to be judgmental here, but whose soul also seems to be contaminated with just a wee bit of Zarqawian anger. Not just anger, but with some degree of “fear” as well. I've been there. I can smell it.

I’m now embarrassed to admit it, but before Copithorne helped me realize the radiant purity and perfection of the human soul yesterday, I was as confused and perhaps even as impure as Van der Leun. Maybe not that impure, but still, I wish I could somehow reach out to him across the internet divide, look directly into his forbidding but stylish shades, and comfort him with the honeyed words of Copithorne:

The other people and groups whose “evil” upsets you seem pretty powerless to me. Not worth the concern you give them. But if there are quotes or actions by these people that trouble you I'd be happy to talk about them with you.

But what are the chances? It’s sad, really. “So sad,” writes the boundlessly compassionate Copthorne, that “there are still people who feel that they and others are impure and evil.” Let us never forget the essence of the Copithorne Sutras: “The soul is radiantly pure. I know it is. It is always pure and whole and always available.” The witness and testimony of the Master, the Avatar, the Merciful, the Compassionate!

Yes, but when we descend into the Gagdad-Zarqawi delusions of the impure mind, we only illustrate “how the consolation of having enemies is a primary motivation for people.” Today I can honestly say with Copithorne: I have no enemies. I have nothing to fear from any human being on this planet.

Saddest of all, Van der Leun seems to believe in the concept of “death,” which is apparently his motivation in trying to “avoid” or “prevent” his--a double delusion! For example, he writes that “The facts on the ground, as we saw in peace-promoting Canada this month, is that this war is only interested in peace through death.”

But how can you prevent something that’s only an illusion anyway? For according to Copithorne (Sura 6:19), “The soul is continuously brilliant just as the sun is always shining. The soul cannot be hurt or damaged or killed.” Terrorists “killing" us, us “killing” terrorists. What nonsense! It is all illusion. Rise, awaken from the illusion, and the so-called “killing” will end, even though it never existed to begin with.

As I already learned from Deepak Chopra, we cannot “win” anything so long as we are in the world of maya, or illusion. For what have we won but another illusion? Until the awesomely flatulent cosmic winds conspired to deliver the celestial teaching of Copithorne into my soiled and unworthy hands yesterday, I might have agreed with Van der Leun that “The goal of the Terrorist War must shift from the oft-trumpeted plan of ‘implanting democracy and bringing freedom’ to one of unconditional victory over Islamic Totalitarianism.”

Now I know otherwise. I was blind but now I see. From this day forward, this blog will be dedicated to spreading the Gooeyspiel of Copithorne.

(By the way, does anyone out there have use for an obnoxious disembodied being who’s looking for a new gig? He just stormed out.)


re, er.. deflective thinking, said...

I just found this, written by your self a couple of days ago, in response to a comment posted about Ann Coulter:

"Oh, I get it, sorrychasm. The sorry chasm between anonymous and a clue."

I took from your comment that you didn't think sarcasm was appropriate then. Did your values change in getting poked by an innocent? Why don't you simply alternate days: mwf, pontificate to the mirror & the faithful. The other days, call your blog what it is increasingly becoming: a pout.

The first step to resolving anger issues is to admit to anger issues. Just a suggestion. Sleep on it. As if you don't already.

Gagdad Bob said...

Er, no. Sarcasm is sarcasm, the sorrychasm something else entirely. Unfortunately, you just stepped into it again.

Gagdad Bob said...

And one thing at a time. Let me work on the pouting before I try to tackle the anger issues.

GC said...

This more a question then a comment.

Have you ever considered commenting directly to Van der Leun, or similar individuals, on their sites?

It seems to me that, although the blog format is in line with your therapeutic and non-confrontational sensibilities, it would benefit these 'venues' to have alternative opinions such as yours.

Forgive me if you do, in fact, debate regularly as I have only encountered your blog in a "next blog" shuffle session.


Gagdad Bob said...

I comment there and elsewhere all the time. My former assistant, Petey, is also very active all over the internet, leaving little droppings everywhere.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness, the anger one feels towards something or someone is in inverse proportion to the distance to the evil you feel.
It's a survival trait.

ed in texas

copithorne said...

Sarcasm is a form of speech in which people don't feel safe expressing themselves directly. The fear would be: I might take away beliefs with which you identify.

Just to clarify, I did not say that people are not evil. I said the soul is not evil. The soul is not the source of our problems.

Also, obviously the body dies. The mind dies. These things can be killed. But the soul does not die.

Don't store your treasure on earth where moths corrupt and rust decays and thieves break in to steal. Rather, store up your treasure in heaven.

Lisa said...

I wish some of your commenters would try to find their "inner sense of humor" before commenting!

Anonymous said...


Just for the sake of clarity: Are you saying that no souls are punished or rewarded after physical death? And if so, are Zarqawi and and Gagdad Bob free to continue pursuing evil with impunity? Why would anyone choose good over evil if it has no effect on the soul?

Anonymous said...

And why do you blather about storing treasures in heaven if the soul is unconditioned? What possible difference could it make to a changeless soul?

copithorne said...

Anon, My perception is that people who commit evil suffer in the afterlife.

I was quoting Jesus Christ. I'd recommend looking into what that passage might mean for you rather than engaging in sophistry with me. I could answer by saying that Jesus doesn't say whether the treasure cares whether you value it or not.

Gagdad Bob said...

How can the soul suffer if it is unconditioned? That was the entire basis of this discussion. Unconditioned means not subject to causes, limitations or learning. As I said at the outset, only God is unconditioned, and to affirm otherwise is an intrinsic heresy, meaning heretical in any tradition.

jwm said...

Hi Lisa, long time, no see.


copithorne said...

The soul does not suffer. We suffer.

Your question isn't about death. How can anything unconditioned have a relationship with the conditional? It's inconceivable. I know people have tried to make this concept withstand philosophical scrutiny. I might say Sankara and Advaita Vedanta --which holds that the conditional world is a realm of illusion -- is the most coherent. But I might also say that it is at this point that theistic religion leaves the domain of philosophy and metaphysics and enters the domain of mystery and paradox.

The scriptures, however, are clear. They say Thou art That. They don't say Thou art All That, a bag of chips and Bob's Big But.

The Bhagavad Gita says:

I shall tell you of the soul. The soul is God who is immortal and infinite, who has no beginning and will have no end, and who both exists and does not exist. Those who know the soul, are immortal.

The soul dwells in every living being, and in every part of every living being; it dwells in the hand and the foot, the skull and the mouth, the eye and the ear. Although it does not itself have senses, it shines through every sense. It is completely independent, yet all beings depend on it.

The soul is both near every living being, and far from every being. The soul is both inside and outside every living being. The soul is the cause of movement, but does not itself move. The soul is one, yet has innumerable forms. The soul creates, preserves, and destroys.

The soul is the light of every light; and its light transcends the duality of brightness and darkness. The soul is the light of knowledge; and its light is also the goal of knowledge. In the soul the subject and object of knowledge are one.

If you have a problems with the tradition of the Vedas, then perhaps Buddhism is more suitable for you.

Gagdad Bob said...

Bad translation. For the last time: the Gita passages you cite are obviously talking about the Atman, not the personal soul, or jiva.

will said...

Bob, how about a good Petey dictionary definition of a troll? Just to set the record straight.

I can think of some attributes:

- skewed, irrational thinking, of course

- heavy-handed use of sarcasm

- misplaced values (see COPI)

- often condescending attitude and approach

- often misuse of words and terms, eg., (misuse of the word "suborn", see under COPI)

- more often than not, displays penchant for repeat offense, ie., keeps coming back in Rasputin-like manner

- often wears fake deer antlers in public (OK, I'm joking about that one)

- after being squelched, often returns under another net moniker in order to commit further blather

- unwilling, more likely, unable, to grasp fundamentals of grounded spiritual perspective

- unwillingness to admit to the above when confronted with logical counter-argument

- absence of sense of humor, save for sarcastic jibes and taunts

hey, this is like a Troll Manifesto, a Troll Bill of Rights

vanderleun said...

GC asks, in all humility, "Have you ever considered commenting directly to Van der Leun, or similar individuals, on their sites?"

Ask rather why I should tolerate the comments of the gagdad on my page which I struggle to keep as pure as the driven snow softly falling and falling softly on a norwegian bachelor farmer's alabaster thighs.

Surely a pure soul, a soul whose anger is so pure that it burns on the surface of my teeth with a white hot flame, my soul that is... would not easily tolerate the gaddamned drantings of a gagdad hobnailed bob. And indeed I would not if it were not the case the my whitehot soul also overfloweth with compassion for all my fellow beings, even one who has been dragged deep down the negative verticle by the beast with two bloggers, gagdad bob.

Nay, I maketh him a home in my comment section and put up with his pataphysics for I find that even a rogue mind of universal proportions such as myself can still lean a smidgen of a jot of the truth but such erantings as the gagdad may choose to leave.

In this regard I have even gone so far as to by a copy of his book that, except for the joycean metalewd haveth childers everwhere and on those pages my pen doth mark the light and height and breadth of dark.

I hope the question's answer GC now holds in hand,
But failing that the only thing I can say is Just pound sand.

Alas my anger hath rose up and smited all about,
Of shall I go to my fair page no more to rant and shout.

Petey said...

Woo hoo! G-Van in da' cosmos! Maybe I won't quit after all...

Vanderleun said...

One would be a fool to quit a cosmos such as this. There are far too few that do the long form well and you'd be well advised to keep them all on your toolbar favorites.

I read this page every day. Gotta keep an eye on the competition and all that. This Gagdad types are the sneakiest. Take your eye off them for one minute and their Shiva you every time.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Petey said...

Oh yes, as I'm always telling Bob, when purusha comes to shiva with an unmentionable demiurge, you're bound to hava a shakti your system....

scaredstraight said...

"How can anything unconditioned have a relationship with the conditional? It's inconceivable."

Answer: The unconditioned became conditional so that we may become unconditioned.

jwm said...

Sneaking between the sages and the saggers:
The whole question of the soul brings up a peculiar thought. I'm thinking of feral children. There have been a few cases of children raised by animals, or otherwise separated from human contact during their developmental years. They never learn to speak, or think. They are human insofar as they have human DNA, but they never become fully sentient beings. They remain at a sub human level mentally and emotionally. Feral children never learn to speak. In the beginning was the word... It's as though an infant has only the potential to become fully human; if the potential is squandered something less than human is the result.
I wonder if it isn't the same with the soul. I've been reading the gospels, and I notice the oft used metaphor of plants of bearing fruit. I am beginning to wonder if the soul itself isn't that fruit. That a soul isn't automatically implanted into a body at birth, but only the potential to grow a soul, just like there is only a potential to acquire speech, and a fully developed human mind. Perhaps some of the deadly, or internally dead people who are identified as sociopaths are soulless in a very literal sense of the word. Like the feral child.


Gagdad Bob said...


I think you just saved me the trouble of having to think of a subject for tomorrow's post....

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

So much of cacophony over a minor metaphysical riddle which Sri Aurobindo solved almost a century ago. He makes a clear distiction between the Soul and the Psychic Being. He also talks about the Desire Soul.

This philosophical feat became posssibe only after the Darwinian revolution, leaving Sankhya's Purusha, Shankara's Atman or Leibniz's Monad outdated.

copithorne said...

Bad translation? Are you aware of another translation into English of the word 'Atman?' Good luck.

Because you're now in the position of saying that Vedic scriptures in English translation are intrinsically heretical... when compared with Vedic scriptures in Sanskrit.

I don't know how much I need to belabor the point that you are mistaken. It isn't a coherent position for you to take and it has no support in the tradition.

Maybe there is some embarassment, some hot blush of making a big production and then having it turn out to be wrong. That blush would be a more auspicious place to continue your career as a spiritual aspirant and psychologist than your confidence in your vain philosophy. Because even when you are wrong your soul is still radiantly pure.

Hoarhey said...

How can a point so succinctly explained be so clearly misunderstood and a persons own shame reaction projected?

Will's Law of Differing Levels of Consciousness.

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

No student of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo would ever concede defeat before any ontological argument, whether received or contrived. We belong to the noons of the future as no one in the human history has offered a more coherent philosophy or theology.

A robust metaphysical system steeped in religious fervour and spiritual possibility.

scaredstraight said...

And the most pertinent issue raised, explained, and ignored while everybody tries to look and seem smart.
Everybody( well almost everybody) is so busy trying to be right they missed the truth...

Poor fellows!

copithorne said...

Scared straight, your formulation is beautiful.

It would fall more under mystery and paradox than metaphysics and philosophy.

Tusar, the holy saint Sri Aurobindo also held that "the soul of man is united with the Godhead of which it is a portion."