Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Graven and Craven Images of the Nihilist

(forgive typos. better yet, inform me of them)

One wonders what possible interest an avowed existentialist (FF) -- which is to say, nihilist -- would have in visiting our site. Indeed, not just visiting, but taking the time to comment and to try to convince Raccoons of the worthiness of his little philosophy. Why would one do such a thing in a meaningless universe? Is he trying to help us? Educate us? Disillusion us? In a universe in which truth does not exist, why try to convince others of the truth? Does he not realize that we already understand existentialism from bottom to bottom and find it to be inadequate to the very task of philosophy and therefore unworthy of the name?

No offense to rappers, but existentialism is to philosophy as rap is to music. Just as rap emphasizes rhythm at the expense of the two other key ingredients of music, i.e., melody and harmony, existentialism emphasizes an extremely narrow band of egoic consciousness and elevates it to the totality. FF sets out the premise of his philosophy:

"Existentialism is not for the faint of heart. You have to feel yourself as alone in a large, uncaring universe in which there is no God, and other people can't be really be depended on."

One could equally say that existentialism is for the faint of heart, the egocentric among us who are too proud to surrender to the higher consciousness that gave birth to them. And to say that one must "feel" oneself alone in an uncaring universe is to emphasize that this pseudo-philosopy is grounded first in a deicidedly schizoid "feeling" of cosmic abandonment, which is a psychological issue susceptible to treatment, not a properly philosophical issue belonging to the arena of the intellect properly so called.

Moreover, it sounds as if one part of the self must bully another part into submitting to this bitter philosophy. Why live in such a divided state, one part bossing around the other part in order to believe something it doesn't believe and cannot swallow, much less digest?

In fact, how is it that this cosmos has produced a detached and dispassionate center of consciousness which is able to will itself to believe or disbelieve this or that? There is no materialistic philosophy which can, with materialistic assumptions, account for such an entity. Of this we may be certain.

The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses. --F. Schuon

I do agree with FF that 1) truth exists, and 2) truth is what we must believe. But a true existentialist must affirm the opposite, that 1) no one can know the truth, and 2) it doesn't matter anyway. FF even says so:

"Everything you've ever done will come to nothing, as time erases all things in due course. And even if something was 'accomplished' it all comes to nothing because the entire thing is an absurd and empty gesture done for no end. There is nobody and nothing watching the performance of your life."

Here truly is the "voice of the nihil." As you can see, just as this detached voice emphasizes the ego at the expense of all other levels and dimensions of consciousness, it absurdly posits time in the absence of eternity, freedom in the absence of any ground and therefore goal for it, falsehood in the absence of truth, absurdity in the absence of meaning, and subjectivity in the absence of a Subject. It is completely incoherent and makes no sense at all. You could summarize it by saying that it uses the vertical to annihilate the vertical, like a tree that grows more leaves in order to prove that the roots and soil -- not to mention the Sun -- do not exist. Once again, he even says so:

"All pleasures and pains eventually lead to one thing, the annhiliation and nothingness of death."

In short, Death is God -- even though death can only exist as a local side effect of a nonlocally living cosmos.

I don't know how one could know that Death is God unless one is omniscient -- or perhaps just emotionally dead and omnipotently projecting this unnatural state into the cosmos. And if they are omniscient, then this is a category that most certainly transcends existentialism. I myself have no difficulty believing that human beings are "omniscient," albeit in a limited way that reflects the axiom, "as above, so below." In other words, seeing as how human beings are made in the image of the Creator, it follows that we have a divine spark at the center of our being which is able to know truth and to know it absolutely. You will notice that I do not have to "force" myself to believe this. Rather, it is obvious.

It is also personally bobvious because people far wiser than Bob have told him so, and the B'ob places far more trust in them than in somenone who tells him up front that he "feels" truth doesn't exist and that I must believe that he is being truthful about this. I suppose he's being truthful about his feelings, but that hardly means his feelings are true.

For one thing, truth is generative. It flowers, it grows, and it nourishes the soul. It is literally like a tree, the Tree of Life. In this regard, revelation is like an O-perating system for the soul. Once installed, you will find that it is effective on various planes, including the plane of epistemology, i.e., what we may know and understand about existence, both individual and cosmic. In short, it allows finite beings to think properly about the eternal, the infinite, and the absolute, which otherwise remain impenetrable mysteries. I could never blog on a daily basis using the operating system of existentialism, for I would only be able to say nothing over and over, like my critics.

But existentialism is not "organic." It as not made for man. Rather, it is a wholly unholy manmode philosophy -- obviously -- that cannot account for the one who invented it and has decided to believe in it, because such a one ipso facto transcends his philosophy. Thus, existentialism is ultimately a self-limiting cognitive and spiritual dead end that truly does produce nothing, for it is the philosophy of nothingness. It is the very substance of nothing. So yes, if you are an existentialist, I agree with you: you are a nothing, a nihil, a worm, and an absurdity. But you have only yourself to blame and nosoph to bloom.

Naturally, such a one has a need to evangelize. But this is not out of a generous spirit of truth sharing -- for how could it be? -- but out of a bad spirit which you might say represents the cold hand of death reaching out to comfort you. Have you ever seen René Spitz's famous experiments using monkeys to study maternal attachment? He removed the babies from their mothers and placed them in a cage with two mother substitutes. One was a wire monkey holding a milk bottle, the other was a cloth monkey with no nourishment. The baby would feed from the wire monkey but otherwise ignore it. Most notably, when frightened, it would jump into the arms of the cloth monkey for comfort and security.

As I have mentioned before, both psychoanalysis and Christianity take seriously the idea that we are embodied beings, and that our mental life takes place in a human body. A philosophy such as existentialism is a non-starter for me, because it again begins with this abstract, detached ego hovering in subjective space with no theory to account for how it got there. But if you take the trouble to truly deconstruct your mind in the generative sense of that term, you will discover that your self is not made of "food" but that it is made of love -- or, conversely, that you have internalized various mind parasites in the space where the love should have been.

Of course, I know nothing about FF's developmental history, but existentialism is the philosophy of the wire mother, so that may or may not provide him with some food for thought from Petey's ample bosom as to how and why he believes what he does. There is nothing human about it; it is like trying to use Marx to understand Shakespeare. And like something made of wire, existentialism is a cold, dry, and lifeless thing, whereas truth is warm, loving, flowing -- ah, manna from above!

Thank you our MotherFather who art in heaven!

Why thank you?

Because it is simply the spontaneous expression of gratitude for something so precious. Gratitude is one of the unmistakable seals of truth. Something like this:

FIRE!

Not the god of the philosophers and scholars.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace....

Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God....
Greatness of the Human Soul.
"Righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee, but I have known Thee."
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy....

Let me not be separated from Him eternally.
"This is eternal life.”

Renunciation, total and sweet....
Eternally in joy for a day's training on earth.


Yes, even Donovan knew that love is hot and truth is molten. This is what Truth feels like to a pascally pundit but not to a wascally wobot. If you have never shed real tears upon hearing truth, you probably haven't heard it. Such tears occur when one has touched the divine plane.

What does existentialism feel like to a lover of truth? -- for there is no transcendent truth that is not lovable. It feels entirely contrived and artificial, like an ideology made of cardboard and baling wire. It is certainly not for human consumption. But being that we are what we eat, it will gradually convert your soul into its image. It leads to such nonsense as this:

"The existentialist summons forth his free will, and fortified with nothing beyond that, decides to feel 'meaning' in whatever he or she decides. It could be a pair of Argyle socks or a committment to a book club. It doesn't matter what it is, it only matters that the person has made the choice."

Brrrrr! The human mind was no more made to believe such an absurdity, than the human body was made to live at the north pole. I mean, it is possible, but don't make a virtue out of it.

"This is as high as one gets. There is a dignity in facing against the absurd emptiness that is this cosmos and spitting in its face. Defiance is the hightest virtue available. Like Nietchze, we bite off the head of the snake."

Respectfully disagree. This is as low as one gets, and there is no dignity whatsoever in it, except for the delusional and compensatory kind. It is, however, the outcome of a diet consisting of unctuous, hypnotic, and seductive snakes and their oil -- not to mention wire monkeys and their loveless milk. What I am saying is not complicated. It's just simple gastrophysics.

"The way of the existentialist takes a huge amount of discipline and self-mastery. For him, the easy path of religion is not good enough. He takes the hard road."

The way of existentialsim is the quintessence of a lack of self-mastery and an admission of defeat. It is by definition the lazy man's path, for it ends precisely where religion begins. It is like -- exactly like -- saying, "the path of quantum calculus is not good enough. I will take the hard road of basic arithmetic to understand all of reality." FF abuses religion beyond all recognition, and then rejects it because it is so ugly. I don't blame him for the latter, only the former, for it is a monumental sin of the intellect to treat Sophia in such a shabby manner.

"Even if he is wrong, and God exists, he has still shown the manly virtues of fortitude and forbearance; few other paths offer such a baptism in naked fear."

Correction. If he is right, there are no virtues, manly or otherwise, because Man does not exist.

As I said, I do have a certain respect for the intellectual honesty of an existentialist who truly has the courage of his absence of convictions, such as Nietszche. Reading him is still a bracing experience, for he is the most poetic voice of the nihil. He is the anti-Christ, and for that he deserves a certain kind of respect -- as does the poisonous snake to whom we give a wide berth. Nietszche knew that in the absence of the divine there is only the will to power:

When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is absolutely not self-evident: one must make this point clear again and again, in spite of English shallowpates. Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces: one has nothing of any consequence left in one's hands.... Christian morality is a command: its origin is transcendental;... it possesses truth only if God is truth -- it stands or falls with the belief in God.

As does existentialism, which could only have occurred in a thoroughly Christianized world. For existentialism is simply a reactionary parasite on a magnificent organic structure that existentialism could never have built, for existentialism builds nothing, precisely. As like is drawn to like, who could love nothing, except a nothing with no love?

*****

I had intended to get into the second commandment of nihilism, but got carried away. However, my post definitely addresses that commandment, which is that you must acquiesce to manmade graven images, just as FF tells us -- i.e., that we must feel ourselves to exist in an absurd and loveless universe in which nothing and no one can be trusted. Here is a review of some of what I wrote last summer about the matter:

The reason why it is necessary to acknowledge the Absolute prior to the relative is that, in the absence of the Absolute, all transcendent values are bleached out and ultimately wiped away. Values can only exist in a hierarchy (i.e., some things are more precious and valuable than others), and any hierarchy is conditioned from top to bottom. There can be no higher or lower in an infinite horizontal wasteland. Rather, in such a case, the world is simply a brute fact, with nothing to spiritualize it. Matter is elevated to the “ultimate,” so that the world shrinks down to our most primitive way of knowing it. In fact, it is precisely because there are degrees within the relative that we may prove the Absolute, in that these degrees of relativity reflect the Absolute either more or less adequately.

Although secularists like to think that their's represents a sophisticated view of the world, in reality, no philosophy could be more provincial and monkey-bound. As Richard Weaver has noted, it substitutes facts for truth and logic for wisdom, elevating the world of the senses above the antecedent reality that can only be known by the intellect. Man becomes the center of authority, which makes him no authority at all, for no fact speaks for itself and no experience can tell us what we are experiencing.

The secular materialist attempts through endless induction to assemble the cosmos from the bottom up, but you can never get there from here. No one has ever seen this thing called “cosmos,” and no one ever will. Rather, it is accepted on faith, as it is an inevitable shadow of its unitary creator. In other words, we all intuit that there is a strict totality of interacting objects and events because we were built to do so (unlike any other animal). To say “cosmos” is to say and even praise “God,” for God is the cosmos, even though the cosmos is not God. It is a "reflection" of God, and therefore cannot help but to be One.

In reality, beauty is another inevitable “residue” of its source, an exteriorization of the Universal Mind. To the extent that ugliness exists -- and it surely does -- it does not represent a fundamental reality but a deprivation of such. It is a measure of distance from the divine archetype, the full brunt of which reality could not bear. Thus we have degrees of beauty just as we have degrees of goodness and truth. And no one could plausibly argue that this beauty is perceived by the senses, but only by the uncreated intellect that mirrors it.

Two things that the uncorrupted mind cannot not know: that the world is intelligible and man is free. Take away either, and the world is simply an absurdity, a monstrosity, a mistake. For to say that we may know is equally to say that we are free, otherwise it is not knowledge at all. Knowledge proves freedom, freedom proves knowledge, and both prove the Creator, for the hierarchy of being disclosed by the free intellect leads back to its nonlocal source above.

Behind the idolatrous secular impulse is a persistent, vulgar materialism that collapses the hierarchy of being and reduces the Absolute to some tangibly manifest idea or object that can be “contained” by the lower mind. But these are truly “mind games” for the childlike secularist, for no fragmented detail at the periphery of existence can explain the mysterious whole, much less the infinite interior center that represents its beating heart.

“The universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below.” So says the Katha Upanishad. We know this tree, for it is the same tree that appears in Genesis. It is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf. For the grazing herdhearted woodenheads who wouldn't, they are the sap. Or perhaps a wire monkey.

63 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that you are so reactive? It seems like you can't go even one sentence without defining what you believe as a negation of what someone else believes. That would make your religion like, the ultimate secular and nihilist philosophy - negation of negation! And at the last minute, tack on something about the vertical :P As long as you are all enjoying yourselves...

4/19/2007 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I know, I know. You can quit reading me any time you want.

4/19/2007 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Katha Upanishad
life everlasting
the way in is the way out
baptized in blue flame

4/19/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous frankl-steins monster said...

Well I for one loved the concrete image of the "wire mother" that Bob introduces. It is the best illustration of existentialism that I've ever encountered.

Yes, existentialism is a choice. It is a purposeful turning away from God--it is throwing yourself as far away from Him as you can. This is done for the sake of feeling fear and despair intensely; it is the spiritual equivalent of going to a horror moveie for the thrills.

I wrote of existentialism as if I was following it myself; but I am not. I was only writing of my understanding of it. A real existentialist wouldn't bother to write at all, as Bob correctly noted.

It takes effort to ignore God. I don't have that kind of energy and I don't need the experience of it.

4/19/2007 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Yes, you are far too smarmy to be an existentialist.

4/19/2007 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ah, they say that the maya, like Solomon's love in the Song of Songs, is dark and mysterious. And you say, Reality is God's shadow, or so to speak. Is it any surprise that the vast majority of the material world is exactly thus? A shadow, dark, and mysterious. Dangerous, even. We're talking about outer space, of course.

franklstein- thanks for writing anyhow. Stuff like 'The Secret' is the cloth mother - comforts but does not nourish.

And thus we have the inevitable dualism - hopelessness with nourishment or hopefulness without it? The life of the existentialist.

Its only redeeming quality is that it is consistent within itself... of course, it is a very small, closed system hanging from the great tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, I would say.

Some fruit should not be eaten of, or one will surely die.

4/19/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

So I had a not-so-near-death experience this past weekend in my friend's car. It was not serious and no one got hurt, thank God. My friend took an unexpected left turn at this tricky intersection and a small pickup truck hit us on the side I was sitting on. It was really bizarre because it was like I was just a little above myself watching it all happen in this slowed down time without being able to do anything about it. The actual hit wasn't that hard but if it was I could have been seriously hurt or even killed. How could I not believe in a higher power of some kind, I like to call God, exists? There is no other option really. Coincidentally, I also happen to be at The Tower in my reading of the Unknown Friend. Nihillism is for spiritual retards. If the very microscopic probability exists that it is true, then so what. BFD! Once again, that is just a ridiculous wager odds-wise. Second, it denies humanity and love. Thirdly, it is just too depressing and meaningless. Fourthly, it doesn't ring true for most experiences in my life. It's just a boring mental masturbation with no consequence. Next....

4/19/2007 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Existentialism asks: Wire we here?!

4/19/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>One could equally say that existentialism is for the faint of heart . . . <<

Oh yeah. FF's brand of existentialism displays all the courage of an insecure, narcissistic 16 year old who's out to Defy The Establishment. It skips over - benefit of the doubt here, due to FF's inculcated juvenile ignorance - the courage needed to face and eventually overcome one's own shortcomings, weaknesses, egoisms, vanities.

And real courage is needed in this respect. The ungnosisenti have no idea how treacherous the pilgrim's path is, how much dread must be experienced, how much suffering must be borne in equanimity.

4/19/2007 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous joan of argghh! said...

You know, nihilism appears in the oldest book of the Bible, Job. It shows up again in the writings of Solomon in Ecclesiastes.

It must gall the nothing out of the nihilists to think that maybe God is not so faint of heart after all. He apparently lets the bitter verses of Ecclesiates stand alone-- without refutation or remonstration. He lets the other side present its point of view.

And there it stays. Maybe God in His infinite mercy has provided comfort even for the nihilists, who can feel free to recite Bible verses on their deathbed: "All is vanity!"

God's bumpersticker sez:
"Ain't skeerd of nothin'!"

4/19/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

The Universe still wants you here, Lisa, and who am I to argue?

Fergus is glad about it and wants something to eat.

4/19/2007 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

frankl said:
"This is done for the sake of feeling fear and despair intensely"

Think PBS 'Mystery' animated intro by Edward Gorey: the sighing one up on the battlements, collapsing backwards with wrist to forehead.

Trying to think back to when I thought Gide, Sartre & Hesse were the ultimate in Cool, that THEY understood Poor Misunderstood Me.

Ah yes, somewhere in those early teens when Everything was about My Feelings, the Longings & Yearnings, fed so well by they Lyrical Beauty & StarCrossed Love That Could Not Be of Wuthering Heights & the like.

'Course, I was a stoner then too. My first taste of Austen gave a clue that I might be missing something with the above nonsense.

4/19/2007 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Ximeze:
I remember when I was 20, and determined to educate myself by reading all the hard books I could find. Existentialism seemed soooo cool (We learned about it in high school English class). I was wading through "Nausea" by Sarte, when it struck me like a brick to the head: This writer sucks. This book is boring, and has nothing to say. This isn't a philosophy, it's a spiritual disease. I AM WASTING MY TIME WITH THIS NONSENSE
I threw away the books, and took up surfing.
Lisa: Glad you're OK!

(wv-dourk) mega-dork? or dour-K?

JWM

4/19/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous walt said...

JWM said: "I AM WASTING MY TIME WITH THIS NONSENSE."

We have traveled common ground.

4/19/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Will,JWM,and Fergus....Pinky would have been bummed too. But all's well that ends well...We are off to the beach to enjoy the beautiful day and be grateful to be alive.

4/19/2007 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Wire we here?

But here we are

Lisa - Thanksgiving for near misses and beautiful days.

4/19/2007 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Sheesh. Wish I'd waited for todays post, before catching up with yesterdays this morning & replying to FF - wouldn't saved chopping down all those HtmlTrees.

Really nailed it on these two:
"So yes, if you are an existentialist, I agree with you: you are a nothing, a nihil, a worm, and an absurdity. But you have only yourself to blame and nosoph to bloom."

and a personal favorite:

"Two things that the uncorrupted mind cannot not know: that the world is intelligible and man is free. Take away either, and the world is simply an absurdity, a monstrosity, a mistake. For to say that we may know is equally to say that we are free, otherwise it is not knowledge at all. Knowledge proves freedom, freedom proves knowledge, and both prove the Creator, for the hierarchy of being disclosed by the free intellect leads back to its nonlocal source above."

By the way, regarding the request for proofreading, Mr. Language person wonders if the 'gastrophysics' in "It's just simple gastrophysics." should instead be "gastrometaphysics"?

Either way, one suspects Myalanta won't help aninnymouse with the gastroinpestinall disturbances which are sure to follow for him.

4/19/2007 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joan of Argghh! said... "Existentialism asks: Wire we here?!"

In order to experience and enjoy comments like that!

4/19/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said "I was wading through "Nausea" by Sarte, when it struck me like a brick to the head: This writer sucks. This book is boring, and has nothing to say. This isn't a philosophy, it's a spiritual disease. I AM WASTING MY TIME WITH THIS NONSENSE."

Boy, does that sound familiar!

Lisa: Glad you're OK too!

4/19/2007 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Lisa: Thank God it was only a light hit. Side collisions can be very nasty.

I know whereof you speak, having been a passenger in a rollover, totalled a sports car, and dropped a motorcycle over the years. I had quite similar feelings that you describe, though not the God part since I was a young reckless and arrogant atheist.

I'm partial to the car service these days. My vehicular thrill-seeking days are over, and no doubt my theoretical lifespan has doubled as a result.

4/19/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Also glad to hear you're doing alright, Lisa. I've had my share (two cars totalled - neither my fault) of car accidents. Was uninjured both times (God be praised.) I can attest to the slowing down of time! Of course, I was at the wheel both times, so I was able to do something.

PS- Julie, might want to put a content warning on your extrablogular activities...! *steam shoots out of ears* Not for the faint of... um.. suffice it to say that if I don't visit, it is because it is best for me. (And not a criticism of the quality of the work.) Nuff said!

4/19/2007 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Quint lifts his pant leg, "No Mr. Hoople, THIS is a scar..."

In my shouldn't have lived through it band days, we were playing in northern calif., and a friend of ours was driving us up to 'see the sights'. It wasn't until we hopped in her car that I realized that she was seeing twice as many sights as we were, being full hammered-cross-eyed drunk! That became a real problem when cliff side on a mountain curve, she tired of driving and threw her hands in the air and shouted "WHEEEE!". While feeling like going weewee, I was in the passenger seat as the car started to jackknife... I can still see the dropoff about 6 inches from my shoulder and down, and had one of those time slowing experiences. I grabbed the wheel and steered opposit from where my eyes were locked and yanked up the e-brake (VW Bug) and slid to a stop. Luckily for us, no traffic, we escorted little miss happy to her back seat, decided against any further sights, and went back to the band house.

Ugh.

;-)

Hey Ben, Ricky, I haven't checked back, how did I do on that JAWS quiz?

4/19/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Philosophy is the wrong word to describe existentialism. The Greek philos means love or friendship while misos means hatred or rejection. Philosophy means "love of wisdom" while existentialism rejects wisdom. Is it more properly "misosophy" or the "hatred of wisdom".

4/19/2007 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

The Long Decline
bob's late for dinner
making hay while the sun shines
light plays on old hills

4/19/2007 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

Time can indeed slow down in a car crash. I was in a black-ice rollover that blew out all the windows and completely flattened the top of an old International Travelall. Rolled 4 times and all 4 of us college idiots sitting in the front seat with no seatbelts walked out without a scratch. I still remember each slo-mo roll, counting the pieces of gravel as they hovered before my eyes, and then it was over. The Matrix pretty much nailed how that looks.

Welcome to the club, Lisa. Don't invite anyone else, though. ;-)

I've spent plenty of time wondering on the nature of time ever since. It's got nothing to do with clocks, near as I can tell.

4/19/2007 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Sal said...

Lisa - glad you're alright.

JWM-
Radical feminism struck me the same way.
And it's kind of the whole theme of Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals": these people are deeply disturbed @&$h8les- so, why are you letting them tell you what to think?

Although he didn't actually call them that - he's a classy guy.

Speaking of time:
Happy 80th, Daddy!

Have a great weekend, all. Gone to Austin for the Big Party.

4/19/2007 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous walt said...

A long post, Bob, but VERY instructive, and very far from the alleged "negation of negation" by your critic.

Your dissection of existentialism used some great imagery, including:
"...truth is generative. It flowers, it grows, and it nourishes the soul. It is literally like a tree, the Tree of Life." As a tree-grower, I can understand this.

And this analysis: "...this is not out of a generous spirit of truth sharing, but out of a bad spirit which you might say represents the cold hand of death reaching out to comfort you." As you say, B-R-RRRR!

You say: "...truth is warm, loving, flowing -- ah, manna from above!"
As compared to existentialism, which: "...feels entirely contrived and artificial, like an ideology made of cardboard and baling wire."
This stuff is poetry!

And finally, the same quote Van admired: "For to say that we may know is equally to say that we are free, otherwise it is not knowledge at all. Knowledge proves freedom, freedom proves knowledge, and both prove the Creator, for the hierarchy of being disclosed by the free intellect leads back to its nonlocal source above." I.e. the evident proof of God, yes?

There were many others, but those really stood out for me. You know, I get into a kind of a "zone" when I study posts like today's, and many disparate parts become aligned. Thanks, kindly.

(And Lisa, so glad you're safe.)

4/19/2007 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Richy Rich said...

I find this definition and criticism of what is usually called "religion".

Religion is a form of pious but, nonetheless childish consumerism which is full of righteous posturing, bargain-hunting, haggling, and deceitful practices of all kinds, whereby the presumed separate self, or the client like ego (whether as an individual or as a socially-defined cultural collective) seeks to acquire what, from the egoic point of view, is desired to satisfy the wanting and demanding ego.

The religious form of the consumer ego wants and seeks, as if from the marketplace,what it can beg, take, somehow earn, or otherwise acquire from the presumed storeowning-shopkeeper "god".

The consumer ego uses "religious" means to seek and demand what the parent-like "god" can do for the alternately childish and otherwise adolescent ego in the midst of its vulnerable and unsatisfactory conditions of life.

The "religious" ego wants and demands that "god" be the presumed executive-supplier, manager, middleman and sometimes hoarder of all the desired commodity of "goods" available in the marketplace---gimme, gimme, gimme.

4/19/2007 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Rich - that's not religion.

That's materialism.

I'm hoping that's your point.

4/19/2007 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Richy Rich said...

Perhaps you could say that the self centered religious consumer is no different from the atheist or secular consumer. Except the religious consumer is dressed up in the self serving piety of "religious" drag.

4/19/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous walt said...

Mr. Rich -

Every yin has a yang; be mine, won't you?

4/19/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Richy Rich, why not just say you're a dimes worth short of a nickle and get it over with?

4/19/2007 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Yewwho Herman, your hussie is home.

Hey looks like we were visited by a minor god of the netherworld, a dispenser of earthly richy riches.
As usual, his kind couldn't respect the 'no soliciting' sign on the door and as usual couldn't resist hauling in his clanging wares, which don't even match our furniture for cryin' out loud. Fortunately B'ob and his CEO run a free market enterprise around here.

4/19/2007 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Dreamer of Waking Dreams said...

I am with my grandfather, and I am a child again. I somehow know that he is going to pass away soon. I ask him to share his wisdom with me before he passes on.

He tells me to come with him to a marina. The sequence ends - cut scene. We are now at the marina.

It is dark and wet, and I can hear waves crashing to shore. But I am indoors, in an old library, like something out of the computer game, Myst.

The only other person in the library is a woman who seems to know my grandfather from long ago. She says that it has been a long time since she last saw him. There is a mysterious and magical quality to this woman that I cannot pinpoint.

The woman asks my grandfather if I am ready for what comes next. He looks at me, I nod, and replies that I am.

So she begins to pull a handful of books off the library shelves. I only recognize one book, Meditations on the Tarot. But I know that the books she gathers deal with just two subjects: God and chance.

The library sequence ends and a new scene begins. My grandfather and I are now underwater, deep in the sea. We are wearing scuba gear, and we are rapidly descending.

I have the sense that were I alone, I would be scared. But although there is some trepidation, my experience is one of eagerness to see what awaits below.

At some point, we stop our descent. We are not at the sea floor, and it is not in sight below us. However it is clear that we have descended as far as we are going to go. The water around us is dark, but I can see.

The sea around us begins to swirl. Suddenly, there are dozens of gold, silver and metallic green coins floating in the water around us. They organize into the shape of a rectangular matrix, like a connect-four rack or a rigid molecular structure. Except inverted so the vertical columns are longer than the rows.

The coins are very beautiful and some of them are very old. There is a mysterious property to them as well.

The entire matrix of coins is complete, with the exception of the bottom right corner. In the vacant space, there is a black void that is clearly meant to be completed. It is very much like an old and valuable coin collection that requires just one more piece to make it perfect, complete, finished.

I find it problematic and upsetting that this coin is missing. The scene ends.

I am back in the library with my grandfather and the mysterious woman. This time, there are perhaps a half dozen others in the library as well, although I do not recognize them.

I am still upset about the missing coin. I look to my grandfather for counsel. He reminds me of preparations we had undertaken before our journey.

These preparations involved consuming a mixture of two subtances - both liquid, one blue and one gold. The liquids were meant to be consumed as a mixture, but I had consumed them separately. This was the cause of the missing coin.

Still in the library, sitting on a bench at an old wooden table, my grandfather repoured the two liquids into separate glasses. I combined them into my glass, and the resultant reaction produced a clear, golden, sparkling liquid.

I lift my glass to drink and the dream ends.

The most powerful, real dream I have had in a long time. This was Tuesday night? I'm curious if anyone else shared similar dream elements or an equally powerful experience.

4/19/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I died, like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people."

- VaTech Murderer, Demon of Hell

And so he will. Generations of egomaniacal self-appointed victims for years to come.

4/19/2007 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

So, I just got back from a wonderful day at the beach and read all the well wishes from you Coons. It doesn't really get much better, so thanks again. Pinky and I walk-n-rolled from the Santa Monica Pier all the way down to Muscle Beach in Venice. We saw an injured pelican get captured by Animal Control. They are some big birds. Pinky chased after many pigeons really thinking she would get one. Then we walked down the pier and up to 3rd Street Promenade. Ended the day in a nice cafe that had good paninis and fantastic cappuccino. I had to sit outside because of the dog but as luck would have it there was heaterlamp and a girl playing guitar and singing around the corner of the door on the street. She has a lovely voice and her name is Chrissy Depauw, go check out her music at myspace.com/chrissysmusic . I think many Coons will enjoy it. I bought her CD. Waited for traffic to die down and headed home. Good day all in all. Sometimes you just have to get out into the world and walk and breathe. Cleanses the spirit. Literally, a breath of fresh air! ;)

4/19/2007 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous jacob c said...

I've read Hesse, Camus, Sartre, Beckett, and all the other great Existentialist writers. Only with Beckett did I not get the overwhelming sense that I was wasting my time; he was the only one who had any sense of humanity to him, a sense of love-in-spite-of-itself drifting through the carefully constructed (right down to the gaping holes) façade of apathy. He had the standard pose of "I don't give a fart in a high wind what happens to humanity," but he loved it all the same.

4/19/2007 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Personally, I would trade 50 volumes of Satre or Camus for one page of Tolkien or Lewis. However, having lots of Satre (and his galfriend Bovine-oir)around might come in handy, should I ever run out of bathroom tissue, or wish to purchase a puppy...:D

Seriously, Young Frankenstein, your "philosophy" is quite adolescent, dripping with all that self-absorbed, whiny, "Catcher in the Rye" alienation that is tolerable in a teen,(in the same way crapping one's diapers is tolerable in an infant; the fact that its a passing thing makes it endurable for the parents), but is most unbecoming in an adult, in the same way that making fart jokes is unbecoming of a man in his 40's (which does not stop Howard Stern, of course). Your claim to courage for facing what you see as a godless, hopeless universe, is adolescent self-aggrandizement; real courage comes in admitting that, to realize your true human potential, you must let go of the security blanket of self-sufficiency and trust the hands of a higher power to lift you from what seems like a free fall.

A side note, that might seem unrelated, but that has been dogging my mind for days, and I think relates pretty well:
I find myself disturbed about the recent Sanjaya thing on American Idol. Why, in the name of heaven, would a raccoon give a flying rats *** about that show, and that teeny town heartthrob? Good question, actually, but,for this reason. What I found disturbing was the ease with which a few deranged folks like Howard Stern and others managed to nearly sabotage the entire program (#1 in the nation, from what I hear) with a few internet shenanegans. The judges all hated him, but he got to the final 5 anyway, totally against the judges' wishes, thanks to these "Vote for the Worst" websites. A democratic process was subverted by a few psychotic idiots. Think of the ramifications, on a much larger scale. I can't help but think about what would happen if a group of cyber-nihilists, with psycopathic thought patterns like Kim Jung Il's Mini Me at Virginia Tech, or Dr Frankenfurter, managed to repeat the same kind of cyber sabotage to, say, the 2008 presidential elections, or the Iraq war. What would stop such internet savvy psychos from putting out scandalous U-tube videos of every single candidate, therefore forcing them ALL to withdraw, totally bolloxing up the electoral process. Or perhaps hacking into databases that track voter records, and other various types of dangerous cyber-mischief. Or causing cyber-mayhem on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan, getting young men there killed. And when asked by a reporter why they did it, they would anwswer, with a Beavis and Butthead grin on their face, "because it was fun". Existentialism taken to its logical conclusion? Imagine someone with the mind of our Korean friend at Virginia Tech, with the money of George Soros, and the computer savvy of a master hacker. Then imagine a whole group of them. I try not to; I really do.

In the hands of a dedicated group of nihilists, who believe in nothing and have no real joy in their lives, and, therefore, have nothing to lose, the internet could be a real doomsday weapon; a hovering menace over American and Western civilization. If I sound paranoid, remember, no one thought something like 9/11 was possible. And we as a nation seem to have fallen asleep again.

The one thing that gives me hope would be that such nihilists would suffer from such strong authority issues that they would perhaps be incapable of forming such a group, since they would never accept any leader who would organize and inspire them. Sometimes evil undoes itself.

4/19/2007 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Dreamer and Lisa - Very nice visuals to end the day on. Thanks.

Thought from today's post - It only takes one believer to validate belief and invalidate all unbelief.

Believe.

wv:gbbekuys (see?)

4/19/2007 09:54:00 PM  
Anonymous fear of death said...

I'll agree with you on Beckett. His "Murphy" character is a man with a posture of uncaring who obviously can't but help to care; The tragedy is that to care is to risk the unbearable pain of loss.

To say all is absurd is a defense against the pain of loss, as in saying "it can't hurt me because it never mattered in the first place."

Nihilists play games in the dark because they are very frightened to begin with.

4/19/2007 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Dreamer: That was an amazing piece of writing. I've had dreams of that intensity. It's very hard to put them into words. You will see the Truth embedded in that vision, but it's a message tailored to you, and will probably unfold slowly over a long period of time. It's so tempting to try to reduce dreams to simple allegories, to specific "messages from beyond" that will, well- tell us what to do. I had a "Win the Lottery Dream" once. I'm still broke. ;)
I've had other dreams that I've puzzled over for decades.
On the slowing of time. I was thinking of that tonight. Here's one of the musings I've held for a while. I bet that time slows down to one click shy of infinity for every suicide terrorist. And I think that eons pass between the moment that the button is pushed, and the explosion begins. The terrorist will have those eons to realize how utterly and completely damned he is. He will instantaneously be given a conscience so that he can absorb the horror of what he has done. Imagine the gutsick feeling. He will know that the explosion is inevitable, and that he cannot stop it. He feels the heat and pressue, and every single individual nerve cell scream as they are one by one burned and ripped to pieces. Eons and eons of this. For Mohammed Atta and company, they're still several hundred yards out from the WTC. By the time the sun burns out (our time) the nose of the plane will touch the glass.

End of late night thoughts.

JWM

4/20/2007 01:06:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Something the new Coons might not be aware of and i think would find interesting - the "Pinky" Lisa refers to in her posts is actually an albino midget zebra, a gift from Lisa'a zoologist friend. Lisa says she is fond of having Pinky pull her on a skate board down the Santa Monica Pier at a brisk - or to what Pinky is "brisk" - trot.

4/20/2007 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

Excellent work Bob. I've been leearning more in this latest series than I did in 5 years of college.

4/20/2007 03:55:00 AM  
Anonymous walt said...

Will -

I had one of those, once. They are a real blast! The fact that Lisa has one explains a lot.

4/20/2007 03:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Will said "...an albino midget zebra..."

I keep one of those in a zip file on my PockedPC. I uncompress it now and then to pull my 7yr old around the court on her bike.

Animal Control doesn't like it, but hey.

4/20/2007 05:19:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Lisa says Pinky eats a lot of bananas and Quaker Oats.

4/20/2007 05:19:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

FWIW, I had a portentous dream on Tuesday night, so numinous and archetypal I wondered if it was a "get ready" on several levels.

Still wonder.

Not so much a "forecast," as perhaps a tectonic shift not immediately apparent.

On Richy Rich's religious consumerism, I just wrote this to someone who asked me if something was "suitable to the Christian worldview":

Are you a student of linguistics? There are communications that are bound by the content in them -- Cheese is made of milk -- which it is stupid to contradict. There are others, that, even if "true," leverage the emotional realm and are being used for or against Life. That is what [the approach we were discussing] addresses, and it can get confusing with "religion," because it looks to the use, effect, and motive of a "thought" and doesn't have a lot of deference to our tense and superior thoughts about our religion. As in everything else, "religion" can be co-opted for the ego agenda. No worship of the Trinity happens until the individual is willing to get his red wagon out of the shining path.

The statement "Jesus died for my sins" doesn't save Christians. The living resurrected Presence of the crucified Jesus saves moment by moment. Careful not to fall down and bow to the verbal formulation. Although verbal formulations need to be accurate.


So pretty much what he says is the case, but thus was it ever, when the horizontal co-opts the exterior of the Vertical. The pose of the cheap critic get us nowhere. X-ray vision and making the way through the layers better becomes the human agent.

4/20/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

jwm - great speculations.

Some time back in this space, I speculated that Black Holes might serve, or eventually might serve as prisons for the utterly spiritually corrupt, the sociopaths. I was thinking of the "time freeze" near the Event Horizon of a Black Hole that would entrap corrupt souls in a near-eternal stasis.

One way or the other, I think we're on to some kind of metaphysical verity here.

4/20/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Dilys, from what I've been able to gather and roughly collate, lotsa people have been having vivid, yea, portentous dreams this past week.

As I commented a few days ago, I had one hell-bound of a dream in the early morn of the day of the Virginia Tech horror.

The Quickening quickens, I think.

4/20/2007 05:34:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Van, really, nobody's going to believe you keep a zebra, even a midget zebra in a zip file.

I admit I *want* to believe it's possible, but I just can't.

4/20/2007 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

will said..."Lisa says Pinky eats a lot of bananas and Quaker Oats."

They don't eat as much if you keep them in a zip file.

4/20/2007 05:48:00 AM  
Anonymous a scarlet coon said...

I can't say I've had any portentous dreams, but I wonder if waking nightmares count...

Now that my face has gone from bright flaming crimson to a softer, scarlet hue I want to apologize for the sudden appearance of a rather startling link in my profile. It was never my intention to share that with anyone, but we all know what intentions are worth around here. That profile and everything associated with it has been deleted (a day too late, it seems), but I just want you all to know that it won't happen again. For it is written, "If thy blog causes thee to sin, delete it and cast it from thee, for it is better that one of your pages perish, then for your whole body of work to be cast into hell."

Yes, I know, everyone has gonads and the thoughts that go along with them. However, most people manage not to flash their gonads/ thoughts at the unsuspecting public while blithely walking down the street.

Well, I'm off to crawl back into my hidey hole and wait for the color to fade.

Thanks, all you coons, for being such ladies and gentlemen.

4/20/2007 07:00:00 AM  
Anonymous mizze said...

If I can carry an albino tailess mouse around in my bag , Van can carry an albino zebra in a zip file.

This message was verified by "grspl" and his cousin "qdrefs".

4/20/2007 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

NO, VAN, I don't care how many times you say it, you can NOT keep a zebra in a zip file!!!

You've got to realize there are people out there who are going to read this and they're going to want to put cats or dogs or squirrels or pancakes or whatever in zip files, and when they find out they CAN'T, they're going to be mad and frustrated and there's going to be some form of chaos, perhaps a mild form, but chaos nevertheless. And YOU will be responsible.

4/20/2007 07:04:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Well, you go right ahead, Mizze, and try putting your tailess mouse in a zip file, and when it doesn't work out, have your tailess mouse send his flaming emails to VAN.

4/20/2007 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Everything I put in my zip file comes out hybridized...sort of the like in the movie "The Fly". You should see my beautiful tailess midget albino zebra with its tiny little mouse head. Yikes!

4/20/2007 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

And by the way, Van, I'm beginning to doubt you even have a zebra.

4/20/2007 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Pinky said...

GGGRRRRRRRR- Whatdya mean albino midget...I'm four pounds of rough tough yet lovable first generation Mexican American Chihuahua....Don't make me angry, especially if you look like a cat or a pigeon....I'll get ya!

4/20/2007 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Will said "NO, VAN, I don't care how many times you say it, you can NOT keep a zebra in a zip file!!!"

Oh yea of little faith, you most certainly can IF you know The Secret Htmlabalistic codechant, and how to deploy it to the synchronisticized server (as I do), in that case, it is the merest of tap and click actions while manifesting propper happy thoughts (part of the Secret), and poof-eroo! Instant unzipped albino zebra's, perfectly suitable for pulling your daughter around on her bike.

Thanks for the support MizzE, it's nice to know that some people aren't nearly so cynical as others.

wv:survpkou... I think that means something...

4/20/2007 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

will said...
"And by the way, Van, I'm beginning to doubt you even have a zebra. "

Well... I may have been carried away by the moment... it's not exactly a midget zebra... actually it's one of the sacred 42 Mexican Whooping Llama's who helped produce Monty Python's "The Holy Grail"... but that's always such a mouth/typing full to explain, that when anybody asks how I unzipped the creature from my PocketPC (hmm... scarlet coon may be getting unintended stray impressions from this ...), I just take the quick explanation of it being an albino midget zebra to skirt the issue.

4/20/2007 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Scarlet Coon,

Does this mean that I've completely missed out on finding the mysterious purple prose link?

4/20/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ah well, off to investigate tomorrowToday's post then.

4/20/2007 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous MissLilly said...

Can a 5 lb. adorable rat killin' Yorkshire terrier find love and happiness with a rough tough yet lovable first generation Mexican American Chihuahua?

4/20/2007 09:34:00 AM  

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