Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cont. Reading of Qur'an Section 18 & 19

So I lied, I didn’t post the next day. It is hard to make yourself post every day. Anyways, I want to continue with my reading of the Qur’an. In this post I am going to explore Section 18 & 19.

I am noticing in these initial sections is that they seem to be attempting to smooth and reconilethe disparities, between Judaic and Christian traditions and Islam. Chapter 148 explains that all people as individuals have a certain goal, and that as societies we also have these goals. After this, it restates the message of the Qiblah.

After this the Qur’an states that the Apostle had been sent to led the people. One interesting thing of note is the fact that this is apostle is sent by the royal “We”. This plural form is also found in the Judaic texts, as well. Reconciling monotheism, within this language seems peculiar.

Section 19 has a lot more in it. Chapter 154 explains that those believers, who die for the tradition, are not really dead, “though ye perceive (it) not”.

Chapter 155 declares that the royal “We” shall being testing people, through the various things which bring trouble into our life, like hunger, loss, toil. The advice in dealing with these things is to “patiently preserve”. There seems to be some sort of relief laid out in chapter 157. There it is acknowledged that some will receive blessings, mercy, and guidance from God. One can assume that this person will be searching the Qur’an.

I thought chapter 158 was interesting. It goes:

Behold! Safa and Marwa

Are among the Symbols

of God. So if those who visit

the House in the Season

or at other times,

should compass them round,

it is no sin in them.

A foot note explains that Ishmael’s mother Hajar, praying for water, wandered around the two hills, and to her surprise, she discovered some water. This was somewhat of a confusing issue for Muslims, as the hills were the place of worship of some local Arab pagans. The footnote explains that much like the Ka’ba “the most sacred things may be turned to the basest uses”. I see this as another example of the attempt to reconcile question followers of Islam may have, about how their beliefs fit within a bigger picture.

Chapter 159 explains that things of been made clear to the People of the Book, and that their disbelief has brought a curse on them.

Chapter 160 explains the only answer is for those people to repent and turn towards the Truth.

Section twenty ends in this way…

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New post concerning current readings, thoughts, and events AND one dose of the Koran every day

So I haven't blogged for about a month now. I wanted to write regularly here, but then school arrive and I didn't have the time. Even while I am in school I still liked to read a lot on my own. So between school reading, extra-curricular reading, and then “real” life I just couldn’t find the time. I am now done with school, for the immediate foreseeable future, so I will have much more time and this is what brings me back here.

I basically just want to blog my opinions, mainly focused on what I am reading and current events. I also want a place where I can link videos and websites and find other like blogs, with similar interest. I just want to regularly journal, and this is a good way to get it out.

Now that I am out of school, I am focused on three projects I would like to complete. One is inspired by a reference by Russell of “The Atheist Experience”, who mentioned on the show following a different blog, named Kifar or something, where the person was positing their daily reading response to the Qur'an. I thought this sounded like fun, and a good idea. I too have just started reading the Qur'an, and I think I would like to do a similar thing. This is the first time I'm reading the Koran as a whole. I have read detached portions, relevant to different classes on Islam that I have taken. From these classes I have a very basic understanding of Islam.

I respect Islam and the Qur'an, so I don’t seek to emphasize any particular agenda based reading. In other words, I don’t feel the need to emphasize what doesn’t make sense, or more generally I don’t feel the need to emphasize what I find different about the text. There is a sort of Islam phobia which exists in my society, which I would like to see done away with. I say this in response, sort of, to the recent “Draw Muhammad Day”, which was some sort of cultural statement. I would argue though that the majority of Americans heard nothing about the day and wouldn’t have wasted their time doing something so mean and pointless. Sure, you have the freedom to draw whatever you want, but this is different than the “Draw Muhammad Day”, that is just a day for bullying.

It is like sure, you can draw whatever you want, but drawing a picture of your grandma who has a giant goiter on her throat and then waving it in front of her face to upset her is being a bully, not an example of artistic expression. People that support that day are doing it to deliberately upset a group of people. All of this is a long way of saying I just want to read the Koran, out of a genuine interest and hope to learn something more about life, people, and the power of narrative.

So this was project one, which I will actually be starting at the bottom of this blog. So briefly, project two is going to be a serious of expeditions to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Masonic Library. I want to report back what I find interesting here on this blog. I am doing preliminary research currently and beginning sometime next week, hopefully, I will make my first trip.

The third thing I want to start doing is attending more religious services in my local community. I hold more of an agnostic belief system, with a deep belief in spirituality, and I just want to witness and explore modern religious rituals. And obviously one way to do this would be to attend more religious services.

I am beginning with mainly Christian denominations, at first. This is not done out of any preference, but rather a choice from proximity. I live in so called Christian nation, and so that is what is around me. Much like my reading of the Qur'an, I am not initiating any of these projects out of some ulterior motive, but more because I just want to do some real research get more involved in actual experiences as opposed to getting my information largely through other people, in things like documentaries, books, etc. So that is what I hope to use this blog for…

To more relevant and specific comments, I just finished Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. I have taken a couple classes which touched on this philosopher, and I found his philosophy ringing true. I found his style funny, sharp, and ultimately damning to the issues he addressed. I believe in the classes we covered “The Genealogy of Moral”, “Ecce Homo”, and “Beyond Good and Evil”, all of which I enjoyed. When I say thoroughly enjoy I don’t mean to say his writing has brought me a lot of pleasure. He certainly doesn’t engender much hope or peace. I actually find reading him discomforting, but it is the discomfort of growth or exercise, which is ultimately enjoyable.

“Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is an all together different kind of piece. I am a well-trained and energetic reader and plowing through this text was at times a challenge. There is a dream-like narrative told, which can create great moments but also sometimes it wandered to the point of incomprehensibility. And I like incomprehensibility, but still even in my most well intentioned heart, I was plagued with a growing apathy towards the text. All this said, it is a wholly relevant text for our current time and all should take up the challenge.

The book seems the fictional embodiment of the philosophers’ ideas, much like Voltaire’s “Candide” or Plato’s “Euthyphro”. This is actually a reoccurring technique in the history of philosophical texts, which produces an interesting circularity, with the philosophical ideas in which the philosophy is taken, deduced from the experience, but then through the narrative the philosopher attempts to reintegrate the philosophy in a new world. One question I had from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, was Zarathustra himself, supposed to be the ideal representation of a philosopher? Or the supposed ideal of a life itself? Nietzsche himself is aware of the tension between critiquing the operating systems of value and attempting to assert your own theory of evaluation, so it makes me wonder.

Beyond these more meta-textual considerations, the book does provide a good source for critiques of the operating values systems. In other words, the social critique, or anyone else with right motivations, will find a solid source of motivation in this text. Nietzsche is at his most poetical and metaphorical. In other works Nietzsche employed the tool of aphorisms, but there is a poetic quality, unique to this text as well. As described, this is the narrative, figurative, metaphorical, poetical quality.

I watched a really interesting BBC documentary entitled “All Too Human”,

, and in it researchers discuss how by the end of his life Nietzsche was a sickly, mad man. I say this with all due respect, but from studying his work it does seem to imbue the reader with a similar dread. I think this dread is worthwhile to explore and become comfortable with. It is interesting that this life, which can to seem to have so much value and worth and one moment, can quickly become perverted and deconstructed to an unrecognizable and incompatible degree the next.

I think there is a challenge in Nietzsche, akin to the modern day troll of the internet, where Nietzsche as a  challenger stands as prophet of doom and deconstruction. This negative force of deconstruction is paradoxically a force of positive change. It seems, perhaps to intellectual discourses’ detriment, that people are only motivated by things which they can hate and attack. Benign things in discourse become ineffectual. In this sense then Nietzsche is appropriating the necessary tools for the job.

The job of course is multi-facetted. I hesitate to layout an ideology and call it Nietzsche’s, or even to label and describe the philosophy of the text itself. The truth is to be discovered in the journey itself. I will say, with some confidence, that the most basic point is that our current moral systems represent agendas, not truths. This is easy to recognize on an individual level. It is easy to see that what I find good is connected to what I desire and that what is bad is connected to what I don’t desire. Therefore morality is matter of desire, but Nietzsche is not offering some hedonistic ethic. Our desires are not obviously connected to pleasure and pain. Some find pain desirable, others find pleasurable things undesirable.

Nietzsche demonstrates how this moral understanding functions on a macro, societal level as well. This means that group desires function to create societal normative standards, meaning there will most likely be a battle of normative standards, based on the variety of perspective, from the variety of groups you find.

Nietzsche sees a larger historical story here. Now we have to ask a question is there over-simplification at a point in Nietzsche’s story, maybe not even over-simplification, but a specificity which can appear harsh or even racist. Readers of Nietzsche will understand my tip-toeing.

Plainly speaking, Nietzsche can come across as anti-Semitic and anti-Christian. Nietzsche can be read as an aristocratic, elitist, who is hateful towards the vulgar masses. Nietzsche undoubtedly does believe a vulgar morality has emerged victor in this battle for the moral value system, manifested in a Judaic, Christian ethic.

I can hear the crickets chirping, as my Nietzsche rants continues, so I will end it. Final words, read “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, you will probably be pissed and have a lot to think about.

Last thing Reading Response to Qur’an Section 17

       I am starting at section 17 because that was the section I was at when I decided to blog my reading. This was an interesting section, it discussed the Islamic tradition decision to face towards the East. For reference I am reading “The Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary” by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. I am not sure about the history of translation when it comes to the Koran, so hopefully this is an appropriate translation.

So the issue in section 17 is the Qiblah, which is the direction Muslims faced in prayer. I also read in this section in footnote 140, that Nas is a word that means people, I thought of this in light of rap artist Nas and the connection between the meaning of the word and his own ideals.

What is interesting in this section, is how this turning of orientation from west to east, is a significant religious declaration. It was a visual and actual symbol for Islam’s new orientation. Section 143 of the Qur’an states:

…We appointed the the Qiblah
to which thou was used,
only to test those who followed
the Apostle from those
who would turn on their heels
(from the Faith).

Not only does the Qiblah operate as a symbol of the unity of the Muslim brotherhood but it is also a test of sorts of the Apostle, presumably to see if he will "get it" or not. On the first point, it is obvious to see the power and effect of a people assuming the same modes of behavior in  prayers and rituals. This mass acceptance of the ritual surely validates, and emboldens an individual’s beliefs.

The second point is a little harder to understand. The idea that this decision of orientation reflects an ability of the individual to decipher the truth seems like a tough standard. One could argue the original Judaic orientation towards the West, is the default position, and so one would ask by what standard do we make the determination to orient ourselves in a different manner.

One answer provided by chapter 144 is that one reason is to face the Sacred Mosque, which is where the Ka’ba and the sacred city of Mecca or located. I am very interested in the Ka’ba and will have to learn more about it. I understand that the Ka’ba was said have been visited by Adam, and that is how it becomes thee important sight.
The final chapters of this section make a strong statement about “The People of the Book”. The gist of it is that these people remain willfully ignorant of the true signs of Islam. Chapter 145 states:

Even if thou wert to bring
To the People of the Book
All the Signs (together)
They woud not follow
Thy Qiblah; nor art thou
Going to follow their Qiblah;
Nor indeed will they follow
Each other’s Qiblah.

This is a hard declaration of separatism. The message is that there is a sort of predestined discrepancy of opinion. What is scary is how true the passage rings in this sense, when we check the claim against the real world. It is impossible to imagine the victory of any one of the monotheistic traditions over the other. This would be an obvious problem for most of these different groups.

The religious ideas are not just religious but also cultural. It is our cultural identities which we would not be able to abandon. One has to wonder, the value of a spiritual text which supports such an ultimate separation. As an outsider looking in it seems to suggest an inability to cross the cultural abyss.

I read about this idea of spiritual orientation in another book recently written by Patrick Dunn titled “Postmodern Magic”. In Appendix A of the book, he explains the proper way to create a magical circle. In doing that he addresses which direction the mage should face, he writes:

Stand facing east. You may prefer to stand behind an altar or some other specific place of working. Create an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Important note: You may, for a multitude of reasons, prefer a different direction for your starting point. This is fine. Remember, my example makes most sense to me, but your practice may be entirely different to resonate with your own personal intuition and experiences. Being in tune with your personal connections is most important: it is only you, the mage, who must be aesthetically empowered in a way that will be conducive to altering your reality and achieving your magical goals.

Although I use the system of directional correspondences I learned first, the one used by the Golden Dawn and other ceremonial magic groups founded on the same principles, I have met people who use other systems that work just as well for them. The important thing is to have a reason behind your direction correspondences. The Golden Dawn faces east because it is the direction the sun’s rising, therefore symbolizing light. Others face north because of its magnetic associations. I know several people who, when working indoors, just name the nearest wall with a window “east” and treat it as such! (218-219)

Now of course, this interpretation of the process is not in agreement, necessarily with the Qur’an’s explanation of the decision. I do find Dunn’s explanation and beliefs interesting. In one way it is just restating the first two idea of this discussion. That was that the way a group faces, strengthens the groups beliefs and that appropriate orientations strengthens belief more generally.

But, Dunn stand’s in opposition to the Qur’an’s other belief that our orientation is a test, which establishes if we hold the proper beliefs. Here the issue seems to be the power of the individual versus the power of the group. Dunn seems to think our magical power comes from us internally, while monotheists see a prescribed power which must be discovered and then obeyed.

There is plenty more to say, but I am sure many will not get this far. If you did, thanks for reading and I would love to hear any responses or ideas. Check back for Section 18 of the Qur’an tomorrow.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Post!

Gezz it has been months since I have written anything here. I was finishing a semester of school and so I didn't have to much time to write. I want to start writing a lot more. Anyways, one more week of finals, then I will be blogging a lot more. In the meantime check out this great talk!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Random Accounting

So I haven’t posted in a while, which makes me sad. I need to post more, but between school, family life, and other writing, my blog get’s the proverbial “short-stick”. As always, I am reading a ton. I finished a crazy book by Michael Meiers, titled “Was Jonestown a CIA medical experiment?” I bet you can guess what the answer is. I have always found the Jonestown incident very interesting. First, it is something that seems to have played a major part in American’s psyche. In Meiers’ book he does a wonderful job of establishing the deeper threads of connection between the CIA and Jones. Once again, we find a conspiratorial connection to Nazi scientist, in another form of brain-drain.

Much like 9/11 there are questions which surface, which have no logical answer outside of government involvement. Truly, by the end of the book I was just frightened. I almost didn’t want to post about it here. There is something soul shaking when one realizes the extremes to which certain actors of our government will go to complete their missions.

Jones was a Master brain-washer. He used people insecurities and egos to gain total control over them. A question that rises is my mind is that in some way people are especially perceptual to these sorts of problems. I think this is because people are looking for a place to belong, some answer to their existential questions. This is one thing I often feel when talking to atheists. They seem to want to minimize this urge, even when their own organizations are in the same game. What is really crazy and something I learned through Meiers’ book is that the Peoples Temple was not as much a religious organization, but a political one. He explained that Christianity was not heavily preached, and that Jones often referred to the “impotent sky-God”. What is interesting is that all one has to do is feign a Christian belief, to get Christian support, makes one think of past Presidents.

So if you want to lose a little sleep…go pick up this one.

Reading this book had prompted me to go back and explore periodicals from the 1960’s like “Esquire” and “New York Time Magazine”. It is interesting to track the societal perspective and shifts. For example, the amount of information in a magazine, in 1960 a magazine would have 10-12 main articles today this number is doubled, even tripled. Another thing I have noticed is that one thing that has remained the same is the psychology behind advertising. Ads remain tools which promote inadequacy, and speak to our deepest fears and urges.

I found two really great articles on the eve of the moon landing. One was by one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, titled “Excelsior! We’re Going to the Moon! Excelsior”, in classic Vonnegut style he exposes how the moon-landing is really just a new technology of conquest, which is basically the historical narrative which is spoon fed to Americans, namely that we the “Space-Race” was an extension of the cold-war, and our success was necessary to defeat the Ruskis.

The other article on the same subject from another of my ideals, Issac Asimov, titled “The Moon Could Answer the Riddles of Life”. This was more a science based article, which outlined some of the theories about the Moon’s origins and what scientist could expect to find in the Moon-rock which they were bringing back. He explains that basically there is no real stable explanation for the Moon’s origins, something which interests me very much, having recently read Richard Hoagland’s book “Dark Mission”. I am going to explore current theories on the Moon’s origins and see what I find. I have been reading another Asimov book, actually two of Asimov’s book “Golden” and “Pebble in the Sky”. Love it.

Well this is just a smidgen of what’s going on in my world, hope yours is as interesting….

Here’s a video I just watched more evidence of the conspiracy of 9/11….another great sleep reducer, for sure…

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Poem (I am not a Nature Freak)


She crept the forest plain

Muscles rotating like giant Wheels

Amber locks Matted From Life

Eyes to Us Lazily Subdued

Shells Like Red Rockets

Fully Loaded and Glistening From the Sweat of Anticipation

Two Men

Impeccably Clean Fatigues

The Younger’s First Pair

By A Stream

Water frigid

Paw Producing Currents

like Speedboats

She Paws Unaware

His Shoulder sore

From Awkward Technique

Father Stares Proudly

Birds Flee Spontaneously

He Takes picture of Him

By First KILL

He Smiles

While Missing The Point

He’s never seen him

So Pleased

Standing so Prominent

From Perspective of bended Knees

He Has To Go GET Something

“To Transport the carcass”

He says

“Keep a eye on IT”

And leaves.

Boy stands proud

Before the Kill

Feeling A Little Lonely

The shotgun

Feels heavier.

A tree snaps

And HE Twists

Hoping Not Miss

One second

Of A Moment

Like This.

His eyes casting down

As he Fills up the Wholes

Killing One more is his only Goal

A roar like an engine

Young Boy, Feeling Like A SOUL Stealer

A second Later

A Father blasted FROM A FOUR WHEELER.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thoughts on Stephen King's "Cell"

*Spoiler Alert. This blog reveals key story points.

So I just got done reading Stephen King’s “Cell”, and I really enjoyed this book (as I enjoy most King). There are a few qualities which attract me to King’s stories again and again. The first thing is what I would label the “meta-fictional” qualities of the writing. I became such an avid fan after reading the entire “Dark Tower” series, and its interrelated texts. The inter-textuality of his works makes it so interesting. Certain themes and symbols are given multiple embodiments, which allow the reader a deeper “relationship” with these things. The meta-fictional qaulities project the work into reality, sucking the reader into the tale in the process.

It is a bold and interesting move to assume another writer’s symbols, or objects in one’s own work. Clearly, and King has stated himself, the tower of King’s “Dark Tower” is based on the Barad-dur, the base of the Eye of Sauron, in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Ring”. Now I won’t ruin the end of the “Dark Tower”, but it is sufficient to say that by the end of that series “King’s tower” is unique and its own. I often reflect what is the ultimate purpose, and affect of this shared symbolism?

I know from my reading that this appeal to other works is not a device unique to King, but an act done by other writers and poets. I think of T.S. Eliot in this regard, which raises an interesting point. What makes the assumption of another person’s work good? I mean it is easy to imagine some hack assuming another text’s creation in a cheap, whorish way. Obviously it is a matter or authorial ability and intent.

The tower symbol pops up in “Cell”, towards the end of the book at the fair-grounds, in the parachute drop tower, which has a blinking red light on top. What are we to make of this recurrent symbol? Why is it always the scene of climax in these stories?

“Cell” begins right in the action, from the perspective of Clayton Riddell, a graphic novelist who has just got his “big break”. He is walking the streets of Boston when a zombie infection begins, passed through of course cellular phones. “The Pulse” as the event is called is never properly explain, one of my “frustrations” with the book. The pulse is blamed on a group of terrorist who have somehow have infected cell phones. Intentionally or not, this raised the question in my mind is King mocking the Western “go-to” explanation of terrorism. At other places in the novel, gossip is shown as unreliable and comes from antagonistic elements.

As always, the reader of a novel brings their own predispositions. I certainly could be accused of reading too much into literature. I reject this accusation whole heartedly and I don’t like its malign implications. To me the type of reductive readings which the accusation would promote is a significant force in the zombification of modern peoples, more dangerous than the pulse.

This leads me to consider the moral or ideological position of King’s work, specifically in the “Cell”. The basic feeling one gets in this text is that we’re all screwed. This is a feeling which permeates much of King’s work. I almost want to label this attitude as “conservative”, meaning that the past is seen as superior to the present, or future.

Included in this thought is the problem of protagonist vs. antagonist. To put it simply, the distinction between the two vanishes in King’s work. With King, we always become attached to the protagonist characters, but ultimately we become very uncomfortable with this relationship. Often the person we thought was our hero becomes a villain. This upsets and offers a paradoxical morality. What I wonder is it symptomatic of a larger moral, ideological, paradox which exists at the present time in our culture? Have we lost our heroes? Here’s a large quote which influenced my perspective:

His last thought before sleep took him was that maybe in the long run, the phoners would have been better. Yes, they had been born in violence and in horror, but birth was usually difficult, often violent, and sometimes horrible. Once they had begun flocking and mind-melding, the violence had subsided. So far as he knew, they hadn’t actually made war on the normies, unless one considered forcible conversion an act of war; the reprisals following the destruction of their flocks had been gruesome but perfectly understandable. If left alone, they might eventually have turned out better custodians of the earth than so-called normies. They certainly wouldn’t have been falling all over themselves to buy gas guzzling SUVs, not with their levitation skills (or with their rather primitive consumer appetites, for that matter). Hell, even their taste in music had been improving at the end. (342)

Here Clayton is forced to consider the ambiguity in the situation, compounded and perhaps founded in the fact that his son Johnny, is currently a phoner and his future remains uncertain. What I like to ponder and find more interesting is, what does this expose about King’s psyche himself? Further, and most important what does it say about our own individual psyches, or a collective psyche, more generally?

I have studied Nietzsche and just recently started reading “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. In many ways I find ideas from him are finding an allegory in “Cell”. We can understand that to some degree, from the passage above. Here I am seeing a connection between Nietzsche’s concept of the Ubermensch and King’s phoners. The comparison is not forced, as Nietzsche found the source of this “super-man” in our primordial urges as people. I am reminded here of a specific passage from Zarathustra:

Truly man is a polluted stream. One must be a sea to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.

Behold, I teach you the Ubermensch: he is that sea; in him your great contempt can be submerged. (10)

For this me this recalls the figure of the zombie. The zombie becomes a vessel by which us non-superman can project our own “failures”, failures, to use King’s concept, which are of the “normies” who are unable to rise above societal pressures and to bask in the revelation of our “true self”.

I want to end this with a personal anecdote, which I often recall when reading King. I was around nine years old and my mother said something gossipy about the son of one her friends. She explained that her friend’s son had been getting into a lot of trouble, and gasp, had been reading a lot of Stephen King.

I remember even at that time reflecting, and I didn’t think of it as exactly in these terms, that the author was being made into a scapegoat. Even then I reflected, maybe it is because of his lack of a stable Father, or because of his carousing Mother, that he acts out.

At that point, I had not read any King, but looking back now I trust my observations even more. There is a profound philosophy in the works of King and to see it as mere horror renders us one step closer to zombies. Ugh, I have barely scratched the surface of my thoughts here, but it was fun never the less. I would love to do a more thorough research project on these concepts, among many others. At the least, I hope I have provided some evidence that within King’s work there is a profound social commentary taking place.

*Note. My Nietzsche quote comes from the Barnes & Noble Edition of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Some old stuff

I was looking through some of my old writing. This is one thing I found, which got my heart going. It is always nice to find little treats you wrote for yourself, that you had forgotten. It is like somone else wrote it. Forgive the Amateur.

"A Rant On the Verge of Breathing"

When I do a push up do I push myself up,
or the world down?
Is there a snowflake with the face a of a leprechaun,
or a rain drop in the shape of a fetus?
Image worlds within kernels
Fractal pattern mastery
I thought you said this conversation was over.
Are these words fragments or vibrations?
Words don’t matter
Syntax doesn’t pattern
be blinded
Word picture.

How can you say that you know
When you still think in three dimensions
There is an infinite regress
And your vomit wouldn’t matter
Transformed into a bouquet
Of white roses
I wonder where the red went
Master meandering to reaches
Onward necessarily
Stealing the substance of pixilation
Mutt seeing black and white
An owl sees in Technicolor
A Blind man sees through his nose
A deaf man through the pores
How does a dead man sense?
Sensing absolutely
Existing in a continuum
Creatio ex nil
-2 times -2
Equals an opportunity.

I stand on a plane
Of rippling green grass
Surrounded by the tenebris
In principium Deus Creavit

I stand on the wave of the firmament
Dog with his head out the window
Tongue massaging the air
Dad said Dog
Should get off the Fucking
Master’s lap.
I found worlds
Within this embrace
That darkness in my eyes
Never seemed so light
My arms never held so tight
With less might
I pull away as does the tear
From the gap of fears
I wonder why I came to this place
Realizing that it is my own face
Which provides the container for this path
Which was, what walked
by more feet than mine
Littered with the debris of journey
Half hearted
And misguided attempts
On the celestial high-way
I remain seated
While this thing fucking moves

The grooves of near-by asteroids
Creating new hair styles
And soothing vibrations
Which titillate my biggest organ
Find the end to this maze
Of finger tips
Have to find the start of the pattern

A child wakes up
Remnants of dream consciousness
What is your expectation
Dining car of the caboose
Scrap from a U.N. envoy
I can’t tell my Pepsi from my Piss
Pepsid, Lucem, Bilal
Cursed by draught
And no one’s rain dancing
I saw the trees dance
The sway and embraced
Playing Petrachan love games
I laughed
While you masturbated
With images glorified in your Pineal gland
Like your liver
And your snot
Does your soul need a tissue?
Your hair grows faster when you’re thinking
A dead person’s hair grows slowly
Judgement day
Would there be lines
get boring
And where would the lawyers be
Would the public defenders be any good?
I was held down by Demons and raped
I know Satan’s real
I was anointed
Meam lingaum audere audet.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Arguing about words with Atheists!

Video where Dillahunty Advocates "Linguistic Absolutism"

This is my letter to Matt Dillahunty of "The Atheist Experience". Above is a link to the video, where I believe Matt makes the argument of "Linguistic Absolutism" (somewhere around 14:00 in) which I disagree with. Let me know your ideas.

To Matt Dillahunty

A Critique of “Linguistic Absolutism”

What I wanted to write you about is something I have heard you say repeatedly on the show. You often argue that people need to stay within fixed boundaries linguistically. You find something particularly offensive when people begin to say “God is X, Y, Z, etc”. I am going to label this position an ideology of “Linguistic Absolutism”. I emphasize ideology, because the claim that one ought not use, in your understanding “wishy-washy words”, is a by-product of your ideological alignment towards “Scientific Rationalism”.

To me, this perspective is just inherently false. There is a long academic tradition of Linguistic history which argues the contrary. Language is not a static thing, but a transforming dialectical thing. To borrow concepts from Ferdinand Saussure, you are making the mistake of perceiving a concrete relationship between the “signifier” and the “signified”. There is not and cannot be an absolutist relationship between these things. What you push is a linguistic unitary imperative, which ignores the intrinsic centrifugal forces within language too. This idea of the “centripetal vs. the centrifugal” forces, present throughout the evolution of language, is elaborated by thinker Mikhail M. Bakhtin in his essay “Discourse in the Novel”.

To use Kantian terms, we say “words” do not represent things in themselves. Your “unitary imperative” necessarily implies this is false. Bakhtin explains the issue nicely:

A common unitary language is a system of linguistic norms. But these norms do not constitute an abstract imperative: they are rather the generative forces of linguistic life, forces that struggled to overcome the heteroglossia of language, forces that unite and centralize verbal-ideological thought... (emphasis added)

What I am observing is you are offering your own ideological thrust to the process of developing “linguistic norms”. The mistake I feel your making is imagining and proposing that there is indeed, an “abstract imperative” towards this unified language, which there is not. The unification is just the opposite coin of the chaos behind language. We can understand this on a simple grammatical level. Any given word is a construction of syllables. These syllables are distinct parts which are unified into a whole. So language at its most fundamental level is a “pure” act of interpretation.

It seems to me you either want to destroy poetic and metaphoric sense all together, or denigrate it to the position of something like an “imaginative result”, basically something akin to mental illness. I think this ignores the powerful poetic content of language and its force in our lives. This leads you to believe things are just stories, which ignores the word’s own power in shaping ideological thought.

The practical implication of all this is that even if you could somehow flip a switch right now and make everyone an atheist, using a very rigid and agreed upon scientific dialect. Still, it would remain near impossible to remove the spiritual, theistic, and religious foundations of language, which exist at the unconscious level. This is probably obvious to you in your life in innumerable ways. Literally it seems that we are unable to think outside the words of religion. It seems you want to fight this be appealing to a “Linguistic Absolutism”, but even if we could construct there is some imperative to adopt this strategy, it would never work because the two forces in language (centripetal vs. centrifugal) would always be present, evading meaning and interpretation. This ultimately leads to metaphoric, figurative language, being employed when defining religious and transcendental experiences.

To end by restating this all simply one more time, if someone says “I see god in everything” this statement should not be rejected on the ground that it conflates, and distorts, the words presented. As it merely is an attempt by the person to define their own concepts and language.

Work Referenced:

1.The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism”, pg 1198