Friday, 26 September 2014

Depression


What is depression? How does it feel like?

I have successfully vanquished depressive illness (acute or clinical depression) - although depressed states do recur now and again (chronic depression) - and have some thoughts to share on the topic.


Depression, rather like the AIDS syndrome for physical health, occurs and takes hold when the mental immune system has been disturbed, perhaps because of some particularly stressful episode or event (bereavement, humiliation, social isolation, romantic break up or some other trauma), unhelpful habits of thought (perfectionism and elitism being two of them), and often comes with other states such as anxiety, low self-esteem...


An average day has its share of social interaction, things to do, commitments... When one is depressed, that is, when one's mental immune system is low, little hiccups (a bad interaction with a bus driver, a car honking) tend to knock one out and set off a train of negative thinking which in turn causes stress and a depressed state through the agency of the so-called cortisol hormone.


As many philosophers have pointed out, reality is linked to perception. Or, in the words of Qui-Gon Jinn to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode One,

"Your focus determines your reality."
When one is depressed, that is, vulnerable, the darker and more melancholy aspects of existence come to the fore, the body is flooded with stress chemicals which prevent enjoyment and activity and makes all of life much harder and interaction more threatening because of the greater possibility of being hurt and wounded.

And one need not look hard for them, even in one's own home: the News, the Rat Race, idiotic internet posturing and social media, mediocrity, stupidity, Politics, the Economy, difficult and unpleasant people, the pressure to succeed and be happy, Governments, Celebrity rubbish and so one and so forth...


Depression lowers one's mental immune system so that the negative and sad takes precedence, the more questionable aspects of existence come to the fore, what causes pain and hurt is more present in one's mind, to the point often that committing suicide can seem preferable to living and even desirable.


Once the depression lifts and one's mental and emotional immune system is up and running, then it is possible to partake in one's usual activities and occupations and not be overwhelmed by reality, mediated or not, and the triggers which can lead to a depressed state or, as in a Hinduism, a wounded chakra such as the heart and head areas. 


The best recipe I can suggest for a depressed state or a wounded chakra is to first realise that all is not well in one's body and psychology, to then deliberately summon - as hard as it may be - happy, comforting and soothing memories, thoughts and images - the so-called Patronus charm in Harry Potter, to at the same time banish all stressors including stressful thoughts and rumination and activities (including internet-ing) and to sit the depressed state out with a minimum disruption to one's ordinary functioning, in the certainty that the depression and vulnerable state will lift in time following these steps. Sleep also helps in my experience.


Note. A recipe I use with some success for chronic depression is what I call positive-bingeing. Positive-bingeing is literally sustaining happy thoughts, memories, angles in one's mind during one's waking life, so that, for example, even the most painful or unpleasant memories are reinterpreted in a happy light, repeating mantras in one's head such as "everything is beautiful", "I love life", summoning the most confidence, security securing, resilient images, words, memories regardless of external context - in a word, mindfulness. It can really make the difference between a mediocre day and a bad day and can even make a mediocre day a good one when genuine causes for joy do eventually and necessarily occur. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thinking of Death

Walter White


Watching the fourth episode of season one of Breaking Bad called Cancer Man and pondering my own ferocious addiction to tobacco smoking which is known to trigger lung cancer, among other diseases, in the long term - the main character Walter White's condition at the start of the series - the thought of death crept up on my mind.


Granted, the above is not how I envisaged death. Coughing up blood like Walter White and the prospect of hair loss as one side effect from chemotherapy, not to mention breaking the news to my loved ones - provided I have loved ones when some terminal disease makes its presence felt - was closer to what went through my mind as I, for the fifth thousand time, contemplated confronting my smoking addiction once again.



After rolling a cigarette

and smoking it,



the following thought came to mind: the moment of death, of passing away, takes but a moment although many years, months, days, hours, minutes of pain, agony and reduced ability and increased closure from the world of human beings may precede that moment when the body gives up the ghost.


In a sense one could say that one is alive for most, indeed, all of one's life. The moment of passing away is but a moment, whether it be recorded electronically or not (the long electronic beep noise comes to mind courtesy of film and television). Death is momentary although not necessarily instantaneous. One's whole life ends at the moment of death, the whole long or, as the case may be, short haul of ageing (or dying which is in effect the same thing) ending in that still mysterious moment when... the animating principle returns to nothingness and consciousness becomes oblivion.


Thus life is the rule in so far as passing away takes but a moment and people who have indeed passed on - whose bodies (remains) become inanimate, i.e. deprived of the animating principle which the Romans called anima - are preserved in the memory of other human beings who knew them (often not personally as in the case, say, of American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman)




 or who will come to know of them because of their place in history.






Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Truth and The Truth


What is truth?

A matter of small importance to most human beings, most Daseins. And perhaps it's just as well.


Nonetheless, 'what is truth?' is a philosophical question the answer to which necessitates a statement as to the essence of truth, its what-ness (in Latin: its quidditas) - such as my very own

"Truth is that which makes meaning possible and is suggested by the possible meaning of a word."
(see very first post on this web log Lathoron)

The above definition of truth is a philosophical definition of truth.


What is the truth? is a political-religious-dogmatic question since it points to an exclusive and excluding answer whether belonging to political rhetoric, mainstream or dissident, cloaked in scientific nomenclature or made plainly transparent, or belonging to theologically revealed dogma such as the statement

"I am the way and the truth and the life."
Some thinking should be brought to bear on the phenomenological difference between these two questions and the different worlds they open up.

In tentative conclusion, let us write:

  • truth: a philosophical concept for the few who, most of all, like to question and think.
  • the truth: a factual, religious and in any case politically sensitive concept which aims at exclusive and excluding answers pertaining to this or that matter at hand or this or that dogmatic assertion (such as Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion). 
Note (1) On the question of truth in a political, factual sense see my post Factual Truth and the intentions behind expressions such as the truth about 9/11 or titles of politically minded books such as Philip Legrain's book Open World: The Truth About Globalisation.

Note (2) Regarding Jesus' statement this extract from Thus Spoke Zarathustra is pertinent:

"This immodest person has for a long time now caused small people to get big heads - he who taught no small error when he said 'I - am the truth.'" (my italics)

Friday, 29 August 2014

Meaning of Optimism


What is optimism in the genuine, that is, in the philosophical, sense?

The blog format and my own laziness precluding a history of the term's usage, excepting a vague memory of Leibniz's philosophy, I will hazard the following statement:

Optimism is the long, hard (and at times painful) coming to realisation that the world as it is and our own being-in-that-world - including our financial, familial, social, creative situation - is optimal, all things considered, that is, taken into consideration, pondered over and scrutinised.

Someone would be an optimist when he or she feels, i.e., intuits, that his or her being-in-the-world, despite what may at first appear rationally in a cogitating sense, is in an optimal and optimum state given both his own being and the world he or she inhabits (on the topic of habitation see my post How to Become Master of the World).

To know oneself which amounts also to knowing the world since world is already at once readily disclosed and pre-given, i.e. world is disclosed wherever and whenever there is Dasein, human existence, (or, in my language, 'the world is in us who in-habit it' - see aforementioned post), is part of optimistic drive to reach the realisation that yes, all things considered, my life is optimal given both my nature which I have come to know and the spiritual world that is disclosed to me in everyday-ness which I also have come to know.

The affirmation and internalisation of Eternal Recurrence - that I want my life to recur forever in the same way - would be part of this optimistic drive.


Eternal Recurrence as the optimally optimistic conception of time's, that is, Dasein's, circular movement.

Note. The virtuous circle of optimistic thought, as I see it, is encapsulated, in part, by the formulation in Lord of the Rings
"Where there's life, there's hope."
and, in part, by the converse, "where there's hope, there's life."

Thus, as long as there is life, there is hope, and provided one is hopeful then life is assured.

[For more on 'optimism' see later writing Psychological Effects of Ideals & Utopias]

Monday, 25 August 2014

On the Laws of Knock-About Table Tennis



While on Summer Holiday in Normandy, France, staying with some friends, there was a brand new outdoor ping pong table which enabled me to observe the faces of the avid ping pong players as they won and lost points, batting the ping pong ball to and fro, each player vying for number one position.

I myself dared knock about a few balls, but stayed short of playing a match, other than with my own father who is closer to my level in the game.


Yet it dawned on me that knock-abouts are not as uncompetitive as all that. By this I mean that there is an element of reciprocity at work in friendly ping pong ball exchanges and if someone decides to smash the ball - sometimes the temptation is too strong - then the other party will no doubt hesitate much less in smashing the ball when the occasion arises on his half of the table.


The point being that friendly knock-abouts which do not have the burden and competitive angle afforded by score keeping, still have a negotiating edge, that is, ping pong knock-abouts are negotiations for who will or will not smash the ball first and introduce friction in the knock-about rallying and otherwise casual batting exchanges.


Thus war - in this case, a ping pong match - is always close by, as the friendly knocking about, which could be termed diplomatic negotiation by comparison, barely hovers over outright competition - and the winner and loser rationale that comes with score keeping - where only one may come out on top.


A fine line it is then between diplomacy and war, where diplomacy depends on a fragile sense of reciprocity which is liable to be broken the moment one party makes a weak move (in the case of ping pong, a smash-able shot) which invites the other party to humble him and seek overall lordship.

Composing and Interpreting

Composing

Interpreting

As a minor piano musician who creates his own pieces and improvisations, the following insight sprang to mind in discussion with my girlfriend over my latest piano recordings. 

Composing for the piano in my case follows an innate, gut instinct but also reflects my own piano style down to the bone, to use a hackneyed yet in this case literal coinage, as well as my technical capacities (as determined by my technical limitations) and my own emotional life at the moment of devising a new piece or improvisation which itself reflects my own progress not only as a musician but also as a human being. 

It dawned on me that my compositions and improvisations follow the movement of my body and my thought pattern and that playing my own work as opposed to interpreting works as laid down by ready-made compositions follows a law of its own, in so far as the memory of my pieces is far deeper implanted in my fingers so to speak than pieces I have learnt over the years. 

The reason for this is not only the fact that I practice my own music to a greater extent than learnt pieces but that there is an immediacy of connection with my own piano work which is no doubt symptomatic of my own bodily physiology as a musician-piano player. 

To look at this phenomenon from another angle, I grew up learning to play Bach's preludes and fugues. Bach shaped my understanding of the instrument but also made exploring the work of other composers rather unfamiliar and difficult, to the extent that, aged sixteen, I took up popular piano lessons so as to be able to play and sing The Beatles, which my classical training made a more difficult exercise than it would seem at first glance, Bach and Beethoven being prima facie more difficult to play and master. 

A study should be made - and no doubt such a study has been made - of how interpreting is also, to a large extent, a matter of physiology and of the physiological compatibility between interpreter and composer. After all there is Beethoven, there is Bach, there is Chopin, there is Debussy... 

Like the works of poets, thinkers and artists, these names reflect a certain sensibility and bodily constitution, a certain spirit, a certain outlook on life or, in Heideggerian terms, a certain understanding of Being (Seinsverstandnis) - which, by the way, is what distinguishes the creative from the scientific arts, in so far as in scientific work the names of the great shakers and movers are of lesser import than in the realm of poetic art-making, of ποιήσις. 

Thus in maths, the theorem is what matters, not so much the name of the mind who established the theorem; in art, it would seem that the creator's name has more import by reason of the greater influence of the creator's physiological constitution and Seinsverstandnis on the created work (ἔργον).

I have a very fast metabolism which reflects I think in my piano creations; to take an example, Nietzsche's piano works are more ponderous, slower, more majestic than mine, perhaps because his metabolism as an individual was slower and used (that is, habituated) to a different climate - namely a Mediterranean one, at least at some stages of his life journey (as opposed to the erratic and dank climate of the British isles where I am based). 

This physiological understanding of composing and interpreting could perhaps help explain why some interpreters have their pet composers, e.g. Gould and Bach, Kempff and Beethoven, Rubinstein and Chopin, Michelangeli and Debussy... Would this be a meeting not just of minds but, since minds themselves are physiologically determined, a meeting of metabolisms, of bodily approaches to the piano as a physical instrument?

It would seem that an interpreter brings his own body and fingers to his playing the work of composers which is no doubt why, in the world of classical music unlike popular music, interpretations of the great works are just as key among connoisseurs as the composed works themselves; for example, I own about five interpretations of Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, all of which are equally valid (though not equally as good) appropriations and incorporations of Bach's 48, each version adding its own dimension and ring tone to the sheet music, so to speak. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bourgeoisie


Many thinkers of the Modern Age and the Modern World defined themselves and their work in revulsion against the bourgeoisie. Marx is the most notorious example but the same holds for many other thinkers of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first centuries (or the first century Before the Day of Salvation and the first and second centuries After the Day of Salvation - see post Post-Christian Calculation of Time).

My work too arguably finds much inspiration in its revulsion and disgust with bourgeois spirit  - though I am the first to admit that my background is, by and large, bourgeois, at least the creative/bohemian variety. 


Why is this? What is it in the spiritual world intended by the word bourgeoisie which causes such angst and friction amongst free standing thinkers? What is it in bourgeois modes of evaluation and representation which disgusts thinkers so (who by this very phenomenon become rebels)? Whence the vulgarity and mediocrity associated with the bourgeoisie? Why do great thinkers have to become rebels in order to make their points and achieve, if they are hard enough, intellectual authority? What is the bourgeoisie? What is bourgeois? Why is the bourgeoisie? Why is bourgeois?

Production, Creation

Production

as




excretion

Creation


as

secretion? 

Note 1. That is to say our glands, digestive systems and bodies generally excrete and secrete and man-made technological production (τέκνη) can be interpreted organically as excretion if mankind is taken as a whole and as a giant body in communion with the earth, the sky and divinities - that is to say, mankind as a species excretes in technological production in a fashion akin to the human digestive system excreting digested foods and liquids after a passage through the body.

Ditto, but with a slight nuance, creative production can be interpreted as secretion in so far as creative drives and energy (ἐνέργεια) secrete in creative deeds and works (ἔργα), requiring so much time and labour in their pre-secretive phase, like the continual and continuous production of spermatozoids in male genitalia which are secreted in sexual climax.


Note 2. Following the above insight we could draw a distinction between production as technological excretion and creation as poetic secretion. The distinction between technology (τέκνη) and art (ποιήσις) would then be a matter of determining whether the mode and produce of technological and poetic production is excretive or secretive in nature.


Note 3. We could take a step further in terms of rank ordering considerations (see previous posts) and make value judgements in saying that a creative work is good when secreted and follows the mode of secretion (i.e. it is active and self-originating in the sense that male testicles produce spermatozoids) and a creative work is bad when excreted, following the mode of excretion (i.e. passive and merely expelling waste which has been digested by the body).


Note 4
. What then is the distinction between excretion and secretion? An excretion is a waste product whereas a secretion has a function. But waste also has a function, the necessary and vital elimination of unwanted elements in the body. Thus even in biological science the political import of words still wreak havoc and this political nature of language must be taken more seriously.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Virtuality


or: what is extant immaterially, i.e. what does not constitute matter, such as radio waves, Wi-Fi and so on but also in the sense of what does not pertain in a material sense to the matter at hand, e.g. that The Dude from The Big Lebowski should become President of the United States of America is a virtual consideration compared to the material consideration of the funding required for a real life (i.e. not unreal, i.e. realisable in everyday reality) US Presidential campaign?

Note. The considerations pertaining to the concepts material and virtual require a great deal more labour as well as those pertaining to the concepts of real and unreal.

The Human Body



as dying organic matter?

Note. which here intends the same as living organic matter since life and death are not absolute oppositions in the philosophical sense but part of a united whole which is to say that life's end being death, end understood both in the sense of stopping point and finality (τέλος), living can be conceived as dying (since both concepts can cover that of aging), the moment of birth and even conception being sealed by the fate of eventual termination in the sense of the ceasing to be here, the ceasing of Da-sein which is as being-towards-death (Sein-zum-Tode) - Being and Time. 


Organic is here understood in the sense of matter which follows the organisation in, by and of organs and matter itself understood in the sense of what is extant materially as material as opposed to what is extant immaterially as virtuality, the concept virtuality requiring further careful study.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Pretentiousness

Pretentious, Moi?
What is pretentiousness? How does it compare with pretension?

Much thinking, or, more precisely, theory, is pretentious and I could perhaps include this blog in this bracket. What is it that makes writing, speaking, creating, pretentious as such? What warrants something to be described as pretentious?

A pretension is making a claim to something which one may not normally, that is, in a normative and normalising sense, lay a claim to. For example, so and so has the pretension to be a classical pianist, that is, he makes a claim to being a classical pianist, which claim, and this is implicit in the word pretension, does not bear scrutiny or deeper analysis, perhaps, say, because he does not actually make his living by playing classical piano. 

Something or someone is pretentious when it or he makes a pretension, that is, pretends, to be better or more sophisticated than it or he is in reality which basically comes to covering over (ψεύδεσθαι) a lack of substance, a lack of genuine thoughtfulness - hence the expression pseudo, such as Michel Foucault's describing psychiatry as a pseudo-science, i.e. psychiatry makes a claim to scientific respectability and exactitude but in truth the pseudo-scientific veneer of modern psychiatry is merely covering over (ψεύδεσθαι) a lack of authentic scientific substance. Yet psychiatry is not targeted with the label 'pretentious' because pretentiousness is reserved for deeds and persons deemed to be outside prevailing moral standards. 

Pretentiousness, in other words, always contains an element of pretension, of pretence. In any and every case pretentiousness covers over a dearth of substance and quality. What is quality? Precisely the opposite of pretentiousness, that is, quality needs no covering over (ψεύδεσθαι), no pretence, since quality always speaks of and for itself. 

The fight against pretentiousness is, at the same time, a fight for quality. This is why Nietzsche saw mediocrity as a necessary precondition for quality, since mediocrity can and does act as a spur for the pursuit of quality, however unreasonable in real life terms such a pursuit may prove to be. 

To circle the circle then, we will say that for someone or something to be genuinely pretentious, and not merely said to be by hostile commentators, that someone would have to betray pretension, i.e. lay a claim to a quality which is not properly his and in so doing have the pretence to be better than he actually is in his shameless pretending to be above his station as a creative individual. 

In the case of writing, then, pretentiousness would consist in dressing up a simple thought in convoluted, theoretical language, which has the effect of obfuscating the writer's lack of authentic understanding, i.e. understanding rooted in the the ontological difference between Being and beings (Heidegger). 

To call someone's work pretentious is to call out their bullshit, so to speak, to force them to reveal their true colours, their true philosophical underpinnings, so that, by this dialectical and conflict-ridden process of pretension and calling out (λόγος πόλεμος ἐστιν), simple insights are gained which is part of that endlessly self-overcoming process which Nietzsche, Heidegger and myself call the rank order (see Rank Ordering and Writing and Rank Order), that is, the establishing of who may say what in which context since we are not all created equal and not necessarily worthy of setting up an everyman's tribunal to differentiate (κρίνειν) what is greater from what is lesser. 

The question of the rank order is synonymous with the problem of authority and it is no accident that in her collection of essays Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt asked the question
"What is authority?"
or even
"What was authority?" 
given, and this is implied in that question, that the current social order does not satisfactorily resolve the urgent and pressing problem of authority, i.e. of who may say and do what when, leading to the opposite scenario of a society based on authority, namely, a society based on violence and coercion, if not manipulation.

As such the fight against pretentiousness is a healthy dialectical struggle for the bringing to light of thoughtful insights and, if I dare use the word, truths.

Let us conclude, then, with Heidegger (Contributions to Philosophy) that
"Truth is untruth." (since untruth, when challenged and rectified becomes truth) and hear this excellent snippet from his didactic poem Aus Der Erfahrung des Denkens 
"Thinking's case would be more auspicious if there were already adversaries [i.e. fellow rival thinkers vying for position] and not mere opponents [i.e. those who are only anti-thought]."
(which is also a way of saying that pretentiousness and the mediocrity which goes with it is absolutely necessary for the furtherance of truth, that which makes meaning possible).



Thursday, 31 July 2014

Homelessness


Background

A blog contribution that showcases my mental anguish and anger at the world at the time...

Homelessness

The fact that 'homeless' now means not having a technological place to live points to the uprooted and degenerate character of modern thinking and the devastation it creates. The earth itself is a home. Ideals of development and construction by definition create homelessness. Modern technological civilisation uproots human beings, reduces them to a mass, destroys all that is world spiritual, all rank, portrays these as a lie, and prevents the resurgence of traditions of genuine homecoming, νόστος by and through which human beings can dwell in what is essential and most ancient.

The return to the Greeks as the highest form of humanity ever attained, in both Nietzsche and Heidegger as well as Arendt, is not some capricious aesthetic fancy but part of a deliberate attempt to salvage the authentic tradition of the West so that human beings may feel at home everywhere - which is the real task of philosophy according to German poet Novalis - enabling them to feel rooted in the earth, whether it be in an over-developed city, in a town or in the countryside. 


In fact human beings who are not thoughtful and still operate among conventional, that is, technological, that is thoughtless, lines of petty calculation are homeless by definition and are liable to and in fact do live their whole lives never encountering themselves in their essence, that is, in what is most ancient and thought-provoking. Instead, they are constantly distracted by the degenerate production of techno-social-totalitarian self-representation which French author Guy Debord conceptualised as 'spectacle'.

In this respect, somebody living in a country mansion can be just as homeless in the authentic sense as a beggar on a street of Birmingham. The whole pecuniary divide between rich and poor is a false one. A genuinely rich person is someone who has a rich heart, a rich spirit. I understand the Modern World as the result of the absolutely bankrupt and mendacious Christian Weltanshaung and it is not hard to see that Disneyland, Harry Potter land, Bowling Alleys, fancy restaurants, giant shopping centres, cinemas, entertainment parks, fast foods, Business, celebrity culture, football and sports stadiums, gyms, Hollywood are all intrinsically part of the dystopian Kingdom of Heaven of the poor-in-spirit.


People maliciously and resentfully labelled as 'intellectuals' and 'anti-social' - in truth, thoughtful, serious, self-respecting, decent, noble people - are rich-in-spirit and masters of the world (see post How to Become Master of the World) in the genuine sense, i.e. they are freemen and free-women, who do not let themselves be calculated by the constant manipulations of developed capital and technological forms of control, who refuse to capitulate to the degeneration and uprootedness intrinsic to this 'Kingdom of Heaven' and its dystopian agenda, who remain true to the earth. 


I consider all attempts to flee the earth and populate other planets - including the whole programme of space conquest - as utterly degenerate since human beings are earth creatures by nature, as the Latin humus (earth) which is a cognate of homo (man) indicates.

As Hölderlin noted, only time will lead human beings, that is, authentic human beings, human beings who are thoughtful, as opposed to the sub-apes who constitute the technocratic elite of the social engineers - who, in any event, have time against them - to more primal ways of seeing the world and the earth.


In addition, as the excellent historian of science Alexandre Koyré concluded, the triumphs (which are just as equally ecological and human disasters) of modern science are not hardly as great as all that. Modern skyscrapers or bridges devoted to the false idols of money and progress do not compare favourably with the Romanesque churches devoted to the Christian God, nor to Greek temples devoted to the gods which were built without the methods of modern mathematical science and engineering, than you very much.


This is part of the incredible decline the West has undergone in the past 3000 years; how from devotions (i.e. votive offerings) to the gods, and then to a single God, we are constructing monstrosities devoted to the false deity of money - the obsession with money itself being a function of modern man's calculating way of seeing the world which is also a consequence of the belief in the Christian God (it has been reported that corrupt, i.e. denatured, bankers behind the 2008 crash believed they were doing 'God's work'), that is, pure uprooted number, which has no earthly meaning as such.


As long as modern man thinks in money, that is, calculates, that is, flees from earthly reality, that is, has lost all his instincts, he will grow smaller and smaller in stature and, as Hölderlin pointed out in his Prayer for the Incurable, will be forced to endure the stench of putrefied decay inherent in the catastrophic consequences of calculating, controlling, totalitarian, technological ways of representation.



Note. A more originary understanding of the word 'homeless' can be found, inter alia, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where that prophet utters the following to his animals

"When will I have a home again, when will I not have to bow before the small men?"
A similar understanding of the word home (die Heimat in German) is on display too in Hölderlin's oeuvre  who penned a poem called Homecoming as well as in Heidegger's Spiegel magazine interview (as opposed to Spiegel magazine's Heidegger interview since Heidegger had control not only of the interview dialectic itself but also of the interview's posthumous time of publication) where he asserted that for anything great (i.e. of long duration) to arise a people needs both a tradition (i.e. a culture of cross-generational transmission from the Latin tradido, to transmit, to hand down) and a home - understood in the wide sense of the spiritual belonging to a historical people, i.e. a people rooted in time who conceives itself as living once from birth until death.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Batman and Joker


Joker: uncivilised, happy, free, artistic, anarchic, creative, honest, playful, violent, mad, poor, improvises - Good from an aristocratic, cultural, affirmative point of view; Evil from an exploited, fearful, civilised point of view

Batman: civilized, moral, vengeful, uptight, corporate, controlling, technological, rational, rich, calculating - Bad, that is, second rate, from an aristocratic, cultural point of view; Good from a civilised, police and crime fighting point of view

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Alien Films


All four Alien films (discarding the unfortunate Prometheus film which, despite its flaws, does shed a nice light on the Alien mythology) work in their own way. As an imdb reviewer put it: 
If one appreciates the qualities of the films for what they are, then it is possible to enjoy the entire series as opposed to merely the first two films which, of course, deserve their classic status.

University of Life


University. In the main: a fraud. As my grandmother used to say in her thick Spanish accent: "life itself is a university."

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Philosophy and Danger


Background

Like almost all of my blog posts from this period I was thinking from an emotional place of anger, inner conflict and irresolution rather than one of temperance and serenity. This reflects in the rather high-handed and haughty manner in which I expressed and presented my 'ideas' with which I largely disagree now. 

Philosophy and Danger

As I pointed out earlier, Lucifer The Light-Bearer, Rank Ordering, Five Sentences from The Thinker as Poet, Factual Truth, good philosophising, quality thinking, is by nature dangerous. The greatest thinkers of the tradition, including the philosophers behind the scientific revolution of over three centuries ago, almost without exception fought long and hard for their insights against overwhelming odds (namely their time). They were heroes, albeit not popular heroes. And again, to use a hackneyed example, Socrates was put to death, Aristotle met with the persecution of the powers of his time
"I won't let them sin twice against philosophy."
Noam Chomsky for his part - despite his obvious vengeful social liberalism - has battled long and hard for many decades the cynical will-to-power of the 'elites' of his homeland and has thereby achieved greatness - and recognises greatness in others such as the great spirit behind the enigma code who was persecuted for his homosexuality. 

Michel Foucault, a very different spirit from Chomsky, also fought his whole life long for his insights (which, unlike mine, are thoroughly researched histories). Wittgenstein, the same. Heidegger, the same. Derrida, the same. Arendt, the same. Benjamin, the same. Spinoza, the same. The list is long.

Countless other spirits as well on the internet: James Corbett from www.corbettreport.com, Paul Craig Roberts from www.paulcraigroberts.org, Scriptonite Daily from www.scriptonitedaily.com, Alain Soral in France and the comedian Dieudonné and many, many spirits unknown to most fighting their own battles, helping to dis-close the constant manipulations and calculations of the global technocratic order. It would be unnecessarily defeatist to claim that they are not having an effect, even if it be a mute and quiet one.


Ditto the greatest film-makers, story-tellers, artists: they systematically show truth in various ways. The film The Shining is a severe indictment of American civilisation and contains many layers; not least the fact that the haunted hotel is built on a Native American burial ground and that the cut ending of The Shining (I owe this insight to an actor friend, Paul Clemens, who saw these very last minutes of the film) shows the hotel manager to have known all along what would happen to Jack, Danny and Wendy Torrence; there is also a toy axe on the hotel manager's desk in the scene of the interview - there is, in this regard, an excellent documentary on The Shining called Room 237 (see also blog post Note on the Shining).


Ditto, the film Eyes Wide Shut is a hilarious satire of American bourgeois life cut off from reality; Tom Cruise - well cast in the role, it has to be said - as the ultimate naive medical doctor whose world shatters the moment his bourgeois-darwinist-hobbesian worldview is challenged by his wife, who then, following this dissolution, discovers the strange (i.e. real) world of secret societies, drugs, sex, of both the powerful and the not so powerful. Every layer of civilisation laid bare, so to speak.


A film by Kubrick is worth more than a 1000 years of academic classes and mere theory.


Academic philosophy is all fine and well but it remains mere scholarship - it is not questioning nor is it running the danger of termination by the powers that should not be, nor does it redeem the questionable aspects of existence including what is ugly and base in human nature. Nietzsche in The Will to Power. 

"Truth is ugly."
Also in Beyond Good and Evil 
"Truth is hard."
Bad philosophy is philosophy which flees from reality into idealistic-moral value judgements; for this reason Nietzsche ranked Thucydides higher than Plato in Ecce Homo on the basis that Thucydides resisted and faced up to reality - in his case, the Peloponnesian War - without fleeing into a redeeming ideal (since, for Nietzsche, moral judgements always betray a baser instinct, namely revenge, which diminishes, denies the greatness in others, and are predominantly a function of what he calls ressentiment, frustrated instinct - which is why in The Anti-Christ he attacks Judaism and Christianity for being religions of revenge, of punishment, of malignant ressentiment).

Thus, in the simplest terms, bad philosophy (which includes all 'theory') is un-endangered, comfortable, does not risk itself and thus necessarily flees into vacuous non-entities, illusions, ideals, empty linguistic diarrhoea - into theory, into reason, in short, into nihilism


Good philosophy confronts and resists reality without passing easy value judgments but acknowledges the complexity of the human condition. 

Christian Moraline


Background

This blog post showcases a certain poisoned state of mind. But it makes the basic point that Christianity wasn't adequate for my needs as a thinker. 

Christian Moraline

... systematically corrupts and attacks noble souls and in doing so allows the coming to power of the mob (the rabble).

Note. J.K. Rowling's work is an interesting example. While her Harry Potter series superficially fits the Disney-like mold in its conception of evil, it is in fact far more nuanced than that and its depiction of evil is far more subtle that any Disney production could ever hope to be; evil springs not just from the Machiavellian Lord Voldemort (which means will-of-death, i.e. Lord Voldemort is, in Nietzsche's language, a preacher of death) but, quite the contrary, his rise to absolute power is assured in advance by the weakness and fear of many sub-characters who have a vicious desire for power, i.e. they need somebody powerful - evil - to guide and rule over them. We also have petty-stupid evil portrayed very well in the shape of Harry Potter's Daily Mail reading foster family, the Vernons.




Fanatics of Harry Potter will know the names of the power-lustful weaklings who support and ensure the rise and triumph of Lord Voldemort by heart no doubt - Professor Quirrell, Wormtail, Dolores Umbridge, Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy but also the feeble and hopeless members of the Ministry of Magic who constantly set traps for the heroes of the seven volume story. Better still, the long supposed evil character of Professor Snape turns out to be the bravest, most courageous, noble man of the lot, more so even than Albus Dumbledore who, as is apparent in the last volume, The Deathly Hallows, has a history of dubious power machinations.




Professor Snape has to play the thankless and bad role in order to save Wizarding land and in this respect it is noteworthy that he is a formidably gifted wizard and was bullied in Hogwarts by Harry Potter's father (as evidenced in The Half-Blood Prince)... Professor Heidegger as a real life Professor Snape? 


It would be worth asking the extent to which the likes of Adolf Hitler and our modern 'democratic leaders' were/are not allowed to come to power because of fear mongering which forces feebler spirits to desire a supposed strong man (i.e wrongly perceived to be strong) to come to power. 

The undervalued The Casual Vacancy  - undervalued no doubt because it is a grimly real and everyday indictment of British society, the reality of which feebler spirits find hard to admit to themselves - also shows in all-too-glaring clarity the observation of Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition 
"The will to power, far from being a characteristic of the strong is, among envy and greed, one of the vices of the weak and possibly even their most dangerous one."
The will-to-power is more than traditional snobbery - it is malignant and malicious such as the everyday propaganda machine of the Daily Fail. As with J.K Rowling (a Christian who does doubt her faith - in any case, a noble soul, trained in the Classics and French) and Hannah Arendt, the same holds for Martin Heidegger (even a cursory glance at his biography would suggest this) that they were noble souls who rebelled against the Christian moral worldview as the Christian moral Weltanshaung has ceased to shed light on phenomenological, i.e. everyday, reality.

Classical Education


My mid-twenties decision to study Classics and, specifically, the Classical tongues (on my use of the word tongue, see A Brief Anatomy of Perception, Note (2)), Ancient Greek and Latin, may strike common sense as odd - disregarding its lack of immediate technical application - given my philosophical disposition.

The answer is simple. The tongue of the Ancient Greeks is philosophy. All the foundational concepts of Western thought are Greek in origin. For me there is no philosophising possible without, at the very least, a superficial knowledge of Ancient Greek.


The Ancient Greek tongue, rather like modern day German, is a deeply spiritual, i.e. thoughtful language, and ignoring the copious and tediously difficult grammar rules, has deeply therapeutic qualities, esp. in an age such as today where the word, to use Nietzsche's expression, is starting (and not only starting)

"to stink of mob."
Latin is not a particularly philosophical tongue; on the other hand, some of the best poetry ever composed is in Latin. Latin offers a solid, structural foundation to one's Dasein and the tongue of the Romans offers as many possibilities for wisdom and thought as does Ancient Greek. Elite, aristocratic Roman is exceedingly rich and full of political nuance. Moreover, Latin makes strong in its rigour and uncompromising elitism.

Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo I think, claimed that the Greeks were still too foreign for us modern day Europeans. It strikes me as one of Martin Heidegger's supreme achievements to have made the Greeks accessible to us in a creative way. With Heidegger, and Arendt to a lesser extent, Ancient Greek becomes attractive again. 


Modern Continental Philosophy gives rise to polemics in so far as it tends to flout the conventional rules of academic scholarship and precision, including in its free use of etymological arguments, yet this conflict is at the root of the divide between the tasks of scholars, men of knowledge, and creative thinkers, who are more akin to lawgivers who, as rule, and provided they are good, unsettle common understanding and transform concepts creatively. Theirs is a more dangerous task.

I can only refer my readers to the last section of my post Five Sentences from Thinker as Poet to highlight the gap which lies between thinkers and scholars, a gap not watertight since thinkers can be more or less scholarly and scholars more or less thoughtful. 

In summary thinkers are primarily lawgivers. Scholars by contrast are primarily men of knowledge. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Great Noontide


What is Nietzsche's "great noontide" also translated as "the great midday", referred to in Thus Spoke Zarathustra on several occasions such as at the end?
"This is my morning, my day is beginning: Rise up now, rise up, you great Midday!
(trans: Graham Parkes)

Is it the point at which the progress of civilisation, namely taming, and the stature of man, his diminution or, conversely, his growing in height, culture, are seen as irreconcilable? 





Sunday, 20 July 2014

War and Peace





War: what preserves the peace (against dangerous extremists, communists, the axis of evil and so on ad nauseam)

Peace: the annihilation of war.

Question (asked by Heidegger in What is Called Thinking?): how can peace be preserved by what it annihilates? Or, put differently, how can war preserve the very thing which is meant to annihilate it?


As he observed, something is deeply amiss here which has its root in the fact that we are still not thinking, i.e. that Being, that which gives to think, that which makes meaning possible, has abandoned beings.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Factual Truth


In her essay Politics and Truth, which can be read in her masterpiece Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt distinguishes philosophical truth, which for her has no political bearing and is far removed from the affairs of men - ever since Plato's disgust with the Πολιτεία which put his beloved mentor, Socrates, to death - from factual truth which is of greater political import since facts are the raw stuff of politics and, more often than not, a real hindrance to power which is why Cold Monsters (i.e. governments) lie, i.e. conceal, twist, distort, as a matter of course basic everyday facts including by falsifying reality in terms of number (inc. statistics) but also, as has been shown again and again, about historical facts such as Stalin's erasing of Trotsky as a major figure from the history of the Russian Revolution (I specify Russian because there is such a thing as English and American Bolshevism). 

Worse, Cold Monsters routinely invent facts, create facts or, in other words, create perceptions (what is meant by propaganda) which is why only the most bold and courageous of spirits can take it on themselves to unravel, dis-cover, un-conceal those created perceptions with the aid of their conscience, the perception of their perception - see my dialogue Lathoron (in Greek: ἀληθεύειν, to speak truthfully, to wrest with great struggle from hiddenness; truth in Greek, ἀ-λήθεια, meaning, following Heidegger's insight, dis-closure, unconcealment, what is unhidden, the alpha being privative). 


Politically speaking, the bravest are those who, as part of a task which by definition is thankless and extremely dangerous, go about un-covering, i.e. wresting out of concealment, hiddenness, the lies of Cold Monsters. 

Philosophical truth, in so far as it remains attached to the ideal, the "pure sky of ideas", which includes the fallacious and un-endangered activity of mathematics which has only a claim to exactitude and a corresponding scientific application in physics (which still interprets beings as constant presence - see Being and Time) and the social sciences, is, today, politically irrelevant - although in the past scientific discoveries such as those made by Galileo embroiled him in seas of polemics and controversy, including and especially arising from the corrupt (i.e. denatured) ecclesiastical order.


Yet philosophy remains eminently political in so far as language itself is political, i.e. belongs to the political nature of man as a being possessed of speech (ζῷον λόγον ἐχῶν) and that language is necessarily a function of power struggles, of πόλεμος, of strife, following the unquestionable insight that λόγος is indeed πόλεμος, warfare. 


My concept of thoughtful habituation is also eminently political in so far as the everyday covering over, ψεύδεσθαι, of what is really going on, not to mention the fact that we are, and are only once, of the powers - media-political-moneyed-religious-scientific-corporate - that, in independent journalist James Corbett's wording, should not be, requires nothing less than to think our habits and process our perception in a radically new way so that we may not be calculated and instantly calculable.

As regards a fact, it has become urgent to ask ourselves what a fact it, i.e. whether it is merely something created for the benefit of those in power or whether it is something which lies before any self-serving manipulating, any self serving ψεύδεσθαι. 

In my Brief Anatomy of Perception I highlighted the possibility that a thing, literally any thing that is not nothing, is fact in so far as it is perceptible, knowable, communicable. As such a lie by a government remains a fact on the very narrow basis that it is perceptible, i.e. liable to be grasped sensorily and perceptually; even if it be a purely fictitious creation (such as the technologically presented version of 9/11 and the whole ensuing 'war on terror'), it nonetheless becomes a fact the moment it is established for all to see, know, communicate. 

What, then, is factual truth? Factual truth, politically speaking, is bringing to light, to perception, the created facts as created facts. The 9/11 truth movement in all its various shapes and sizes, strengths and weaknesses, is doing precisely this: bringing to light the fact of 9/11 as created political fact, that 9/11 as political fact, as something perceptible and knowable, was created (no doubt for unconscionable power purposes which do not concern us here). 

Ditto the burning of the ReichTag by the Nazis who pinned it on the communists is known to be created fact through the labours and struggles of many a spirit whose names are unknown to most. Ditto too with the official narrative of JFK's assassination: pure created political fact.

It could be said that time, in so far as it is a dialectical vying for rank, in the realm of politics as in others, always brings truths to light, i.e created political facts. Whence Heraclitus' timeless insight that
"Justice will catch up with those who invent lies and those who swear to them."
Heraclitus is here merely uttering a law of Being. It is no accident that he be the first thinker of Rank Ordering, of  πόλεμος and, in the light of Heidegger's interpretation, the thinker of λόγος as πόλεμος. 

Justice in the Heraclitean sense means Rank Ordering in so far as those who invent lies, i.e. create political facts, lose rank in the ultimate Rank Order which decides who is free, who is slave, who is god, who is man. 

Today's elite are last in rank in so far as their shallow technological organisation ensures that Being, that which makes meaning possible, withdraws from them. It is in this light that one must interpret the sometimes uttered statement that only beggars know the truth.
"Strife (πόλεμος - λόγος) is father of all and master of all. And some he has shown as gods, others men; some he has made slaves, others free."  
This sentence is still true today, judging by the amount of thoughtless slaves who do not question or critically consider their technological servitude, i.e. realise that indeed they are slaves.
"Not comprehending they hear like the death; the saying is their witness: absent while present." 
Thoughtlessness means not being fully in Being, not fully having come to consciousness, not being fully 'man' as the pointer to that which makes meaning possible and that which withdraws. For, ever since Parmenides
τὸ γὰρ αủτὸ νοεῖν ἐστίν τε καὶ εἶναι
"Thinking and Being are the same." 
or, according to Heidegger's elaboration in Being and Time
"Being is what shows itself in pure, intuitive perception, and only this seeing discovers being."
He goes on
"Primordial and genuine truth lies in pure intuition."
 Heraclitus' statement
"Greater deaths are allotted greater destinies."
is also part of the Rank Ordering. Socrates, Jesus, Spinoza, Oscar Wilde come to mind but so do many magnanimous spirits of the first century ADS.