Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Can Raccoons and Humans Mate?

Vomit alert: the Times ran an editorial yesterday called Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right! Bearing in mind the adage that Defeating a fool humiliates us, we Won't Even. The author does, however, confirm exactly what was said in yesterday's post about the left's fundamental impulse to destroy.

So, "what lessons might we draw from [Marx's] dangerous [he means this un-ironically] and delirious [ditto] philosophical legacy? What precisely is Marx’s lasting contribution?"

Let me guess. Helping the mortuary industry flourish?

No. Marx bequeathed to us the "critical weapons" for undermining western civilization. Yes, "The key factor in Marx’s intellectual legacy in our present-day society is not 'philosophy' but 'critique,' or what he described in 1843 as 'the ruthless criticism of all that exists.'"

Okay. And replace it with what? Well, opinion here is divided: "let’s be clear: Marx arrives at no magic formula for exiting the enormous social and economic contradictions that global capitalism entails." Rather, he offers only a magic formula for destroying All That Exists.

Compare to what I wrote yesterday. Perhaps you suspected I was exaggerating or being polemical. No, just literal, as usual:

[Progressives] are essentially addicted to "revolution" for its own sake. Like Tallis, they tear down every institution, but replace them with nothing. Instead of creating their own left wing versions of the Boys Scouts, or the university, or marriage, they just destroy ours. They create nothing but strife.

Truly, their destructiveness is not a bug but a feature. And the existence of Trump has turned this feature up to 11.

Moving on. I've now read several more books by Tallis, including The Black Mirror: Looking at Life through Death, Michelangelo's Finger: An Exploration of Everyday Transcendence, and I Am: A Philosophical Inquiry into First-Person Being.

Despite profound disagreements, I can't help liking the guy. He reminds me of Spock, who is half human and half Vulcan. In Tallis' case, he is half human and half Raccoon, or hafraccoon. He's got the analysis down cold. But this is followed by no synthesis, which is of course the sine qua non of Raccoon style thought, i.e., one cosmos in both objective fact and subjective metaphysic.

I'll be skipping around a lot from book to book, but I want to turn to the coda of his auto-obituary, The Black Mirror. In a chapter called Afterlife, he hedges his bet just slightly, almost as if his Raccoon wings are beginning to sprout:

Is that it then?

There are reasons for thinking that it is. But there are also reasons for thinking that it might not be.

This is his first concession that our self-evident transcendence might not be nothing after all. I mean, if humans can transcend physics and biology, what can't they do? And why should we jump to conclusions? Why not keep an open mind? Of course, this open mind is what we call "faith," but let's not scare him off with such a loaded word. Let's just call it (o) for now, AKA vertical openness, or openness to vertical energies and murmurandoms.

Tallis continues:

It is also difficult to imagine a boundary, however impenetrable, that does not have something beyond it, that doesn't have two sides facing into different territories.

Damn straight. Notice in the following passage how he actually brushes right up against Raccoon doctrine, or ventures close to the orbit of the great nonlocal Attractor, O:

And the idea of an end that was not also a beginning, or at least the possibility of a beginning, of an exit that was not also an entrance elsewhere, had also been beyond the reach of thought.

No it's not! You just thought it. Later he expresses this remarkably Coonish sentiment:

One of his [referring to his formerly living self] most enduring preoccupations had been a mighty gap in our understanding, namely that we have no idea how consciousness, mind, self-consciousness, the sense of the past and of the future, could have arisen out of, fitted into, and acted upon the physical world to which his body belonged.

A scientist, he had early accepted that science would not be able to offer any explanation of this.... Physical laws could not explain how one bit of the material world had formed the concept of "matter" and uttered the word "world." And it seemed to him that mankind could not be entirely a creature of thermodynamics if it had been able to conceive the notion of "entropy."

Well, yes. That is what you call a "good start," not a conclusion to arrive at on one's deathbed.

Given the infinite distance between man and chimp (and everything else in the cosmos), perhaps we ought not so hastily close the debate on man's trans-incarnate possibilities, no?

We have reasons, perhaps, to entertain the idea that our possibilities are different from those available to pebbles, trees, or even chimps.

We should not under-estimate our ignorance.

That's the spirit! Utilize (o) to unsaturate your (k) and make a space for (n). Tallis,

in utero in 1946 had had no idea of the world he was about to enter and strut about in, so knowingly, for a while. It is not impossible that this world has itself been another womb whose walls successfully muffle the rumours of another kind of reality, one perhaps that is even wider and even brighter.

Wo. Can I buy some pot from you?


julie said...

One of his [referring to his formerly living self] most enduring preoccupations had been a mighty gap in our understanding, namely that we have no idea how consciousness, mind, self-consciousness, the sense of the past and of the future, could have arisen out of, fitted into, and acted upon the physical world to which his body belonged.

It is such a strange thing how the body, once dead, even though for a time still having essentially the same characteristics of the living body (materially speaking), so drastically transforms from a vessel for life to something that is not even a vessel. One of the horrible things about going to a viewing before a funeral; no matter how good it looks, what remains is like a bad impersonation of the person that was.

Anonymous said...

Raccoon lore has it the body and soul are two separate items, so a dead body is like an empty cardboard box. Not that the body isn't an amazing device. The craftsmanship of the body is stunning. So many little nerves and gizmos.

So Tallis states the world muffles a bigger brighter reality? Uh, yeah. Raccoons know that already. The fact people are muffled may cause a certain question be delivered unto the Boss on His Throne. Namely "WTF?". Does anyone ask this? They should.

People also live under a very powerful amnesia from birth to deathbed. If you could recall half of what you already know this life would really seem different. The missing information? Oh, just the bigger brighter reality, that's all.

So you see why someone could develop a beef with the Boss. It's not considered good form, but you could see why someone would.

neal said...

Amnesia is probably a teachable moment. I mean if someone remembered everything in any particular order, the gaps would be spatial and local instead of nonlocal.

Of course that admission carries a sentence of death with the authorities. That never lasts more than a few days.