News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: May 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

Wankers Unite

As Diogenes the first among equals of the dog-headed conclave, once said while wanking away in the marketplace of ideas: "Whether I use the right or the left hand, I get the same result: a gob of spit soon evaporated to dust." I interpret his allegory thusly: when the seas part and the tribes chase each other, you will find many who simply wade agog in the flood on the left and the right; but always truck your load across the muck and you will come clear to the other side.

BTW As the great Thomist, St. Asclepius Mariolus says in his difficult to find summa, _Pro Dominum Dominatem_ (written to repudiate the Averroist scholar _Bin Waytin Solange_, whose pantheistic doggerel may God anathematize into quarks): "God's infinity finds its rightful formulae posted ad hoc in the celestial soul. Animalistic doctrines that attempt to reduce this primum substantiale to earthly cycles, eras, strata, processional effluences, or otherwise anathema concoctions, disgrace the memory of the Philosopher himself and makes God shed floods of tears over the straits of Bohu and Tohu."

PS I have been authorized by the illuminated masters of Skull, Bones, and Pinheads to announce that our illustrious leader, his royal Ubuness himself, will declare in the next few months that evolution is a conspiracy of the terroristic minded, tweed-jacketed, beta-male smelling, closet pinko admiring intelligentsia that has taken hostage our beloved universities and schools of righteous indoctrination. In consequence, his royal ubuness will declare a war on said beta males and cull them from the pack, leaving only the alpha male to promulgate right doctrine and propoaganda to our cherished Xtian soldiers to be. Read more!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

History in a Nutshell (pt. 1)

"Those who yearn for brotherhood, freedom, and justice should remember that life, limb, and a full belly are bigger priorities for the majority of people." -- Psudonym @ Asia Times Online forum

I understand that this type of talk passes for realism... it's worth considering that there are marxist versions of this outlook on life as well as capitalist. Of course, there might be cynics (not the classical cynics who were quite liberationist) who say that no such state can ever exist, espousing something along Hobbes' idea that mankind's life is "nasty, brutish and short."

Let me just say that I think that who espouse this view probably even see their view as being a morerealistic basis for attaining those ideals that begin the sentnece: brotherhood, freedom, and justice. The issue often turns on _how_ these ideals will be brought about. The _meat and potatoes_ view supposes that if these needs are met, then we can realize the desired state of affairs.

In western societies, this idea begins at least with Heraclitus and other pre-Socratics. There the notion was that humans could work in tandem with nature to discover the principles that one could then systematize and lay as the basis for a just society--just here meaning a society that recognized the true nature of the human animal and thereby create a matrix within which that animal would trive and achieve its true nature or virtue.

With the rise of the medieval era, the blueprint for true community was assumed to have been revealed by revelation; in Xtendom this was the Bible, in Islam the Koran. In the west, with the breakup of the feudal and ecclesiastical structure, the Renaissance rediscovered the Greeks and hoped thereby to formulate once again the principles that could serve as the basis for a true community.

The development of the scientific method, however, brought about a break with the basic presupposition of Greek natural philosophy--that is, that humans are in some respect products of nature. Nature became objectivized and phenomenalized. It could be studied in isolation from any relationship to human desires and goals; instead, natural principles were mathematical and autonomous of human nature. That is, nature became matter to manipulate and organize on its own terms. Nature became a reality in opposition to the human spirit.

The Enlightenment continues the search for those principles that constitute the true nature of human beings, yet they are envicioned as mechanical laws, which once put into motion will produce the desired result. Human nature is seen as mechanical and the natural laws that promote its good are abstract principles whose value and workings can be ascertained via mathematics/experimentation. How does this differ from the Greek ideal? On a very simplistic level of explanation, one could say that the Greek vision of nature and human nature were holistic; the principles at work in both were internal to each other. The mechanistic view sees humans in relationship to nature in external terms; nature acting from without on a "blank slate," not working from within.

Granting the overly simplified hsitorical framework here, one can move on to characterize modern political assumptions in the following way.

Pre-christian societies assumed that the natural-born leader was someone who could manage "fate." That is, the leader was someone who seemed to have destiny on their side, and who had a sense for determining the right action to perform at the right time and in the right place (to paraphrase Aristotle's definition of the virtuous man). This "control" was something that the virtuous man could nurture and indeed could develop, but it also included elements of fate such as being born in the right place, as well as fate's having bestowed on him talents, money, good health, good looks, etc.

[to be continued] Read more!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

An old Boxing Story, Science vs. Religion and the Hermetic

To paraphrase Socrates in his response to Protagoras in that too much neglected toten tanz dialog, _Protagoras_, "huh?"

As you will, Socrates and his nemesis and protagonist duked it out one day in the school of ideas. As usual, that ignoramus Socrates had gone to pay homage to the great man for, he said, "whoever can teach me how to sew the soul into a comfortable fit is a seamstress I need to meet." Now Protagoras was game for Socrates' usual shenanigans--relying on the power of a good story and some pretty decent rhetorical floursihes, he got Soc on the ropes... but Soc maneuvered Protag into the middle of the ring and gave him an uppercut of eristic that wobbled the old sophist's knees. Indeed, what is courage, one might ask? What is virtue and can it be taught--old saws that Soc tried to answer and had gone punch-drunk against the best sucker-punchers of old, gay Athens.

And they fought to a draw, it seems, something to write down in the history books of philosophical pugilism. For they had knocked each other so silly that they came out wearing each other's jock straps--old Soc thought that virtue indeed might be a form of knwoledge, whereas Protag now thought as Soc once had, that virtue cannot be taught. And thereby hangs the history of boxing in the western world.

BTW When will science get the tool it needs to figure out that it does not need to feel so horny for mystery? Is this penis envy or what? Yes, religion has the hearts and minds of the masses, but science shouldn't envy that popularity. Nor does it to go transvestite and begin to caniibalize religion's meat like some crazy Ed Gein.

BTWBTW When will religion just realize that the world is simply just not set up to answer every pinhead who gets a divine revelation up his/her arse? These big windbags of theologians who want to turn God into a quark-o-meter or big banger--what's the use. Yes, I know life is dark and dumb and death waits to steal that last breath of fetid constipation; but hey, what's to be done? I say take up boxing shadows like that Tarsus guy; he knew how to go a few rounds with the best of them: Socrates or Plato or that putz Ari -- "pedal to the medal" -- Totle.

PS As to the hermetic "sciences:" May the beast that lies in the negredo of melancholy woods stink up the urn of thy snottiness. When the body has stunk on the autopsy table and the gangrenous pus does liquefy like the jism of Mercury, take it and bake it for 30 years. In the bowels of the sacred chalice, the womb of Aphrodite, the mons of desire--take and it and shake in the brain pan (not stirred) of the young (also called jung, to those who know). Then, at the place where the bell tolls nonce, when the white crow spells the sacred formula in a code only you will know--then, thou wilt know the golden arm of everlasting joy, the sacred orgasm of dancing masters, the undying prize of the green horse who has run in the celestial realms and returned for thee.

PSS The secret brotherhood waits to deliver its message to the people of the earth. Their ships ride the clouds. Soon... it will be soon. Read more!

Bush Loses to Hitler

USA--Late-Breaking News

In a historical vote, George W. Bush received fewer vote percentage than Adolph Hitler. Hitler, former dictator of Nazi Germany, received 35 percent of the vote in his bid to become chancellor of Germany. In contrast, George W. Bush, received 28 percent of the popular vote in his 2004 presidential bid. Bush's slim margin of victory catapulted him into the seat of power of the United States of America.

Reached in Hell for a comment, Hitler said, "I am the ubermensch, of course I command more mindless drones than he does. I was an animal, a wolf in the wilderness. This Bush (isn't that a shrub?) character, he smells beta male."

Hitler is spending eternity in hell for crimes against humanity. As punishment he is butchered and flayed according to Kosher laws and then served kosher to apostate Jews.

Reched at the White House, President George W. Bush responded to Hitler's accusations: "My maleness is a Texan's way of saying hello. You want gonads, I got gonads. Hitler was a putz who ran a first-rate power into the ground. When I am finished here, wait until you see what I'm agonna do."

Bush's second in command, Darth "I'll be working in a chain gang soon" Cheney, quickly interpreted what Bush had to say: "What the President meant to say was, 'There are terrorists at the borders; they sweat smallpox and sneeze gonorrhea. We will defeat them no matter what rock they burrow into.'" Read more!

On Atheism Again: to Salman Rushdie

Oh great Rushdie, scribe of veracious tomes, burlesquer of hypcorisies and lies and downright stupidity; thank you for your sincere call to arms to the intellectual wankers of the world: Unite in glorious indignation; you have nothing to lose but your sham egos and fear of moms and dads. Religion is dead, god is a wanker; now wank away with glee and gobs of jism fill your brain pans.

I stand agog and pay homage to the power of the god of the dismebodied, disincarnate worldwide, universal, cosmic web of the public and leveling playground. I have watched too many reality shows, sit-coms, and public television to rebut any questions except through the irony that the age has bequeathed to me--a lonely integer in the faceless machine of progress, great empire of faith and freedom.

I do have one request, however. Join me in battle against the demon that threatens this mass illusion we call democracy. Bring to the battlefield your sword of righteous and pantheistic similitude. We will fight the Sith and conquer the world in the name of no-reality, no truth, but the personalized bardo that defines our ultimte oneness with the state of no-mind, no-evil, no reality but cheese wiz.

In the words of that poet of the demonic and degenerate doggerel:

To the dilemma shuddering between the no to life
and the yes to death, stiff cock and winking labia
promise salvation for the agendum of the race.

All hail mighty metaphysics--rock-hard phenomenal meat of life. At least I can sink my teeth into you, god of incarnate verities, similitudes, dogmas beyond question, doctrines of million-year hagiographies, non-transient vessels of meat and potatoes, cream corn, and rice bowl economics.

And science--yes, you have lit a fire in the hearth-stone of my heart. Your amulets to disperse the demons that plague my dreams, that darken my day's delight; let us seize the mystery, deflower her with the stiff rigor of our logical thrusts and leave her there wanting more, as we move on to yet another verdant oasis of superstition, another mystery of soon to-be-known whatsit-all-about gooey string theory. For this (as the great hierophant and hepatoscope, Wilson, has mantically scried) is our (I use this to symbolize and bring into the light of day, the true I, the true being of what those mystic rummagers around in the mythical soul call "consciousness') mission of life::DNA code book deiphered: plant the seed, save the breed.

And if you question my sincerity, master of the Dow, I remind you of those immportal words spoken by a clown whose name is written in the annals of the Dogs-Head Conclave:

The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm... you have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better.

All praise, divine Janus; all praise Silenus and you other double-tongued tricksters slavering after that proteus-bodied, over boiled, bland tuber and illusion called "person." Read more!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Where is the Democracy?

What do these numbers mean?

28 % of the eligible voting population elected Bush/Cheney

That is 8% less than Hitler received when he was elected Chancellor of Germany

The data for my numbers:

217 M POTENTIAL voters (see US census)

122M voted in 2004 election

Bush/Cheney received 50.7% of the vote: 61M votes

Divide 61M/217M to get percentage of voters who RULE the country

Wondering what happened to those other 95M people who didn't vote? Guess...

For complete coverage of the elections, see Election Results Read more!

Love Is the Drug

I found Honey on the Razor's Edge: The Nature of Gender and Romance, by Ngak'chang Rinpoche & Khandro Déchen very intriguing reading. It reminds me of the cosmic sensuality of Whitman, the Song of Songs, and Dante. My most intimate reaction is one of sympathy and acceptance. I "want to" accept the way of looking at the world that this article so finely expresses it. Of course, any type of "criticism" becomes suspect for several reasons: there's an assumption that unless you have experienced something close to the way the writers experience it, then there is some form of inauthenticity afoot.

I acknowledge this suspicion and recognize that one must be conscious of motive. Indeed, the existential (or is it more adequately phrased as "experiential?) perspective of the religious dimension opened up by the authors' remarks is very powerful and seems to want to elicit a response that works at the same level of perception of reality as it does. This is only right, i think. Where would a response come from to meet it on its own grounds of authenticity?

Perhaps an anecdote can suffice for lack of an analytical approach. During my wander lust days, I made a stop at the nascent Naropa Institute in Boulder Colarado. I stayed in a co-ed Sanga there for a few days. Being the horny teenager that I was, I was putting the moves on a woman in the living room of the Sanga. She was deftly diverting my approaches with mystical elan. In the course of what turned into a discussion, she mentioned that she would only have sex with her guru--this was put in much more mystical terms than I now portray it (some 32 years later). At the time, I did not really get what she was saying, since I was only familiar with Buddhism from the Zen perspective.

Later, I attended a poetry reading where Allen Ginsburg and an American Zen poet read their work. Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of the school and the Sanga was in attendance. During the reading, Ginsberg read a very shocking (to me at least) poem that spoke about ****ing his guru. Everyone in the audience, myself included, recognized that he was talking about Trungpa--just as the woman I had tried to seduce earlier had been.

Anyway, I am not sure there is a moral to the story. I do think that while religious expressions of these types of sexual practices are very powerful and very beautiful, I something inherently self-based in them. Let me substantiate that statement somewhat: I once read a Tibetan monk's book in which the author stated that there is no love involved in Tibetan meditation--from the persepctive of the initiate tantric sexual meditation is geared towards one purpose--to gain enlightenment. The concerns or even the existence of the yogini (at least in this author's experience) was simply instrumental towards achieving that enlightenend state.

I will leave the ethical implications of this monk's assertions hanging in the air for the moment. I do hope that you will not find this anecdotal approach too personal or its seeming critique as an attack. Personally, I have been very attracted to Vajrayana Buddhism--the way it deals with sexuality in a religious framework is very appealing. The promise of enlightenement through the appropriate use of tantric sex is obviously very powerful. Yet, don't these very estehtic feelings of "appeal" and "power" and "attraction" call for suspicion the same as any other appeal to emotions might elicit? That is, shouldn't these suspicions be dealt with in order to gain an authentic experience of the reality of what is promised just as much as the experiential authenticity appealed to in the essay by Ngak'chang Rinpoche & Khandro Déchen? Read more!

Thursday, May 19, 2005


I have been working on a theory since last night after teaching Kierkegaard's theory of life stages. What got me thinking was the idea that modern society is characterized by an invidious environment of envy and resentment. What does that mean? I mean it seems pretty simple--I envy somebody some stuff that they have; I want it for myself and may take measures to get it.

Modern envy is much more insidious than this wanting to kill someone for what they have, even though that is pretty mean and ugly. No... modern envy goes deeper, poisoning the very well-springs of personal and social interaction.

Look at this way: modern envy, as Westphahl notes, carries the onus of not simply wanting what someone else has but also hating them for having it; indeed hating them for simply being who they are.

Take an example, pretty common in modern America: I compare myself to Brad Pitt; idolize him for his great looks, talent, money and girlfriend. I want to be Brad Pitt. At the same time, though, I hate myself for not being Brad. And from this self-hatred, I hate him--I not only hate him for being better looking than me, etc. I hate him for being him. I wish he didn't exist. But if he didn't exist, I also would not exist. That he lives and is gives me some reason for continuing to live, perhaps. But along with all this goes a self-loathing for myself that ultimately means that I wish I didn't exist and means that I wish he didn't exist so that I had to face my own self-loathing.

Of course, all this works at the unconscious level in most people. I am not conscious of this self-loathing. But it's there and expresses itself un many ways. Maybe I overeat, maybe beat my girlfriend for not being Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie. This envy becomes resentment and can express itself in many ways. It will poison my existence and life with others. From this self-loathing, I'll look on life in a particularly resentful way.

For Kierkegaard, this type of personal self-relationship is the state of despair. In most cases, that means that I either want not to be who I am or want to be who I am in resentful definace of life.

In Camus' writings, there's a close connection made between suicide and murder. Murder is just the desire to kill myself turned towards another. Assuming taht there's some truth to the preceding, then the envy and resentment that lie beneath the surface of American life--and can't we see it in such disparate phenomena ranging from star worship to Jerry Springer to the revenge flick--then how poisonous our private lives have become.

I want to suggest that it is from these seeds that the tree of our demise will eventually rise and bear its destructive fruit. Read more!

Friday, May 13, 2005

What Now?

"We have the best country, government, society," is what an American might say, no matter what political persuasion, when pressed to give some account of US actions around the world. "The best..." but obviously people from many different cultures are finding this "best" inadequate. Look at this way: even in the US people are quite willing to forego so-called individual rights in order to stave off a perceived threat to order. In the mid-east and third world countries, the lie of American-style democracy is obvious. It only benefits those in power in the western nations and Israel.

But the issue is much deeper than this. Many people wish to see a universal basis for this talk of freedom. They want a set of rules that are not simply jigsawed together based on human whim or self-interest. The latter is the basis for western "freedom"--that is, left to their own devices and seeking their own self-interest a state of equilibrium will realize itself. Unfortunately, when this continues, the shortcomings become all too painfully obvious--the self-interests of some become more important than the self-interests of others.

Sure, in the short-term there can be various balancing actions to make the parties somehow equal; but eventually, the balancing act begins to always favor those with power--ie., those with the capital. We see this in the US--for numerous years, the unions and the capitalists fought in the streets for some form of fair representation. A kind of peace was attained in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Then the unions became the target of a concerted campaign of de-legitimation. Union membership fell and continues to fall. Even though many in the US identify with the working class, most do not see the unions as their representative. Instead, most are willing to allow themselves to wallow in consumerist fantasies and social alienation.

What has happened, in some respects, is that the center of gravity has given way--there are no more spiritual resources on the part of the workers to find the energy to assert their rights. Why? Because there are no more ideas or ideals for them to identify with. The sole criterion of income and salaries simply rings hollow now. People are looking for some other rallying cry. Such things as justice and freedom ring hollow as well. Justice for whom? the pederasts and malcontents who disrupt the communal angst? Freedom for whom? Those whose only interest is to upset the status quo? I think that many people are reeling from the idea that too much freedom brings a social and individual stability that upsets the social fabric. They want stability at any cost--they want to protect what they have.

I think the malaise begins in the soul. People simply do not know what it means to be a human being anymore. Look at the fantasies that they flock to in the movie theaters: androids and other worlds and elves and fairies. Then look at the tremendous response to The Passion. Another other-wordly fantasy that simply fills the void and terrible despair that fills most people's lives. There simply are no objective or subjective measures anymore of what it means to be a person. People are left with two options: either to cobble together a sense of identity by aligning their passions and desires with a group (think football, generation, fad, music genre, consumer niche). But these are ultimately unsatisfying for a desire that seeks this sense of self from sources that must transcend contingency. This is where the churches come in--but they are simply mouthing old formulas and doctrines that have their emotional and even intellectual appeal but are simply another means of herd control.

The other option comes from a recognition that nothing in this world can satisfy the desire for transcendence. That the ultimate basis for a true, just, and free existence is to find solace in a reality that transmutes the contingent into a never-ending ethical task of purification to meet an ideal that is infinitely pure and infinitely loving, even while one suffers. Obviously, since this command rests in the duty to love one's neighbor as oneself, I am not talking about resignation or moving into a monastery--no, this command must be lived in the world as it is, anything else is shirking one's responsibility to oneself and to others and the Other.

The question for the near future is whether such an individual can exist in society as it is now organized. Everything is set up to squash individual responsibility (on the left and the right) and people simply are nurtured to believe that this-world goods and services are all that must be expected from life; anything else is simply pie in the sky. Modern culture has desacralized the world and horizontalized eternity itno temporality.

The demand is on the individual to find oneself--tehre are no social solutions that can guarantee anything without a prior regeneration of the human spirt--person by person, not state by state. If one wants to translate this into non-religious terms, then I am talking about an existential revolution. Read more!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Double Truth Theory

I posted the following at in response to the following words:

Secularism stands for freedom of religion not freedom from religion. The communists made atheism their state religion and were thus in stark opposition to secularist principles of freedom to believe in any or no religion and separation of church and state.

This was my response:

You know as well as I do that this is simply lip service paid by those in power to the sentiments and superstitions of the masses. The founders of this nation no more believed in religion than Marx or Mao. What does differentiate them, however, is that the founders realized that the power of religion can be used to maintain control--why eradicate a powerful means of ideological control when it can be used to serve your political purposes?

There's a kind of double-truth going on here. That is, the founders thought that insitutional religion was a mythological form of rational truths which only the unlearned required. More enlightened minds knew the "real" truth, i.e., that religious "truths" are simply and nothing but fairy tales.

The founders were also Machiavellian enough to realize that religion is a convenient form of popular ethics. They did not wish to attack religion because at it taught civic virtues which were amenable to maintaining order and civility. This is the "noble lie" of the American Enlightenment.

What the founders did not want to recognize is that any ethics must be based on a transcendent source. Human sinfulness to evil is simply too great for any rational system to comprehend. Kant realized this when he postulated a radical evil at the source of the human will. What occurred in the US was that the continual opening up of the western frontier allowed this evil to manifest itself outside the purview of polite company. What happened on the frontier could be excused because it was "behavior" committed in extremis. (Think American "heart of darkness" here)

How else explain the abominations of slavery and the genocide of native Americans? Where was the use of reason and secular values then? As long as these acts were committed against those reasoned to be subhuman, there was no need to explain the evil. They could simply be argued away with rational categories and "science."

In fact, the scandal of the modern secular mind is that unless a reality makes the media it simply does not exist. The media create the illusion that all is well with the world as those in power wish it to be and purvey images of others as simply being beneath contempt, thereby enabling any kind of barbarism towards them. It was your hero Jefferson who thought that the source of freedom is a free press. My question is: when has the press ever been free? Since those in economic and political control maintain the press, there simply is no way that it will ever serve the interests of any but those in power.

One has only to look at the life lived on the frontier to realize that the dream of rationalism and a rational world were simply maintained to keep those in power and to give them time to consolidate their hold on the social, cultural, and economic infrastructure.

Still, these observations do not adequately capture anything of the "problem" posed by modern secularism. As I have stated in other places, secularism as a target for religionists is a red herring. Secularism serves a purpose higher than it can imagine, leading as it ultimately will to a world where all values will be empty and all religions sucked dry of pretense. There simply is no way to stop this nor should it be. For it is in this abyss that the true believers will come to birth. Read more!