Averting Cannibalism

Man has made great errors in his purposes.  Often he believes the purpose at hand is to serve or be served, to exploit or be exploited, or to serve God.   To serve another is to be a slave and submit to exploitation.  To be served is an illusion of success and the perpetuation of exploitation.  To serve God is to admit failure, for God is merely a corrupted interpretation of the divine in man’s image.  As long as man measures himself relative to other men, or to God, he will continue on his miserable misdirected course and close in on and devour himself.  The only way out is to define and serve goals and visions defined by himself.  In this way, man can measure himself relative to the progression of those goals and visions defined by himself and rejoice in his open-ended and upward ascent, or shed tears of joyful sorrow in his fall.

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29 thoughts on “Averting Cannibalism

    • It doesn’t exist…for man currently measures himself by those three standards and is eating himself alive. This wasn’t written with me or the individual in mind rather the whole of humanity. But it could be applied to just a single individual. In fact, isn’t that what all the rare and great men have achieved in and by themselves despite the immense struggle against the misguided momentum of humanity? As for it serving me…you can pass judgement via my little biographical summary once complete, but I am not rare nor have I followed such a guideline in truth. I have devoured and been devoured.

      • I agree TC, I believe if God is corrupt it is Man who has made him so…there are far too many religions in this world and far too many people willing to hate and fight for these Man made religions, and there is many a Man who has been devoured for his beliefs… I like to believe there is one God who smiles down on us all,no matter what Race or Religion…it is up to us if we reciprocate this smile, by being decent, good human beings… it is Man who has come up with religion, everyone needs something to believe in, it might as well be God…I myself would be as comfortable in a Church, Temple, Mosque because I believe there is a divine presence that is bigger than all of us… No human being can ever emulate God, it is a wasteful process…

      • Even Greek Mythology, which I embrace more than the Christian or Jewish dogma, created images of all their gods in the form of a man or woman. Although I do think they were at one time trying to become gods so I can understand the corruption. I enjoyed how they defined gods based on nature and emotions and so many variety of enigmas. And that is what I believe the creator is…so complex and enormous that we can’t put our finger on what the creator is. One thing is for sure, the creator has been very busy building this gigantic universe and perhaps other universes. This is why I often contemplate nature as a means to understand the creator and perhaps attempt to apply it to the human struggle. If we realize the creator is both creating and destroying…and that we really only have ourselves to survive and thrive in this giant universe…we most likely would become better human beings on multiple fronts. To believe we can describe god or the creator in a single book is crazy…and as you have pointed out…nothing has cause and is causing more conflict than man made religion!

      • Perhaps you have dealt with this in other posts, but I would be very interested to know your views on the existence (or lack thereof) of an “afterlife” or its equivalent. Having been a student of theology and a teacher for some time, I find that the view of life after death is inescapably linked to the moral and social interaction of individuals. The importance they place on economic status, ethical standards, political ruling, and so forth are all heavily influenced by how important those things are in the eternal scheme (if that is the proper way to say it). As I read your fascinating insights on humanity, society, and life in general I probably absorb your beliefs in small doses, but I would love to hear more about them. As you bring up religion and its effects on society, I cannot help but think of the historical swings in progress, such as the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and other moments in our collective timeline that betray the underlying religious themes of the day. I am not a politician. I fancy myself a sort of artist, and I see much of that progress as it is displayed in the art of its time. The shift in painting, for instance, from extreme holiness (halos, radiant beams of light around “good” people or “saints” and seemingly incorruptible personas) to a more tangible humanity in the portrayals of Madonna or David. You can see, in the art, the shifting of prevalent religious influence. When man begins to deify himself or associate himself directly with holiness I often see a lunge forward in technological progress, but often accompanied by deeper societal issues like depression, suicide, and so on. We seem bent on one extreme or another, and I find that most people lack a balance in assessing their value, not only in society, but in the grand scheme of life. I have dedicated my life to researching and addressing some of these issues (futile, I know), and that is one reason your writing appeals to me so much. I am not interested in finding a particular outlook. I am more interested in finding a person who has the diligence and insight to pursue knowledge and be willing to change the course of their life based on what they find. I see that in you, and I appreciate your thoughts. I look forward to hearing more!

        P.S. I do not know if you have access to Netflix or can stomach violent movies, but I recently watched “Black Death” with Sean Penn. I somehow feel I would enjoy sitting around after that movie and discussing religion and its impact on society with you. If you find yourself less occupied than wall street, feel free to check it out.

    • VW. It is so strange to read a poet’s work that has so much mystery and hidden secrets and then suddenly receive a post like this written with so much force, clarity, and knowledge. It is almost like trying to see where you are going at night in the rain when suddenly the clouds evaporate, the rain stops, and a full moon shines bright and everything looks so clear. I can see in addition to love and sorrow of lost love that you have a deep reservoir from which to draw upon to create your poetry. And, it has been a while since I had to copy and paste someone’s comment into word in order to review its content to make a just reply for the effort and knowledge contained in the comment. So I thank you for your time and thought.

      Theology, in addition to astronomy, anthropology, and geology, are all subjects that I would like to learn more about. My undergraduate education touched on all of these subjects but not in great depth. I have read and explored information relating to astronomy and geology post undergraduate education but Theology is a subject that I would love to devote time to review in broad strokes. If you have any suggestions for a really good source that covers theology in broad strokes I would be extremely grateful for the reference or references.

      Now, here are my two cents on the afterlife or its equivalent. I believe when the lights go out the lights go out. I don’t have any reason for this conclusion other than I view the body and all its parts as a subset of genes, cells and atoms. All the cells die upon death and this can be proven. But the atoms don’t and neither do the genes assuming one has had a child or two. Therefore, I believe the creator will take these atoms and use them as it sees fit for the next purpose and creation. That creation can be a rock, a tree, a dolphin, or a hybrid of all and many other forms. The genes passed on to the child and teachings and examples of the parent is a form of passing on immortality. And, great artists and thinkers pass on immortality to man through their art and thought. In my opinion, man should view the offspring, and generation upon generation, as the means to immortality and an afterlife. Along with that simple act of procreation…passing on genes…art and thought and continuous transforming visions must be the fuel. In my utopian project, that was one of my key underlying messages. We should be working as a whole towards progression generation by generation with very long-term goals in mind but allow the flexibility to adapt those long-term goals and visions as the culture grows. We could in essence slow down so that we in fact can make progress in the long-term.

      Now, when the human being doesn’t believe in the afterlife in terms of Elysium or Heaven, and it doesn’t believe in what I have advocated above, then there is but one logical choice left – to get the most out of this one life possible regardless of consequences to other people. This, I am afraid, is what we see happening before us today. Indeed, the fast paced sprint can lead to innovation but when the motive is to get rich and live merry in this lifetime, I fear such a sprint comes with an immense cost to the marathon which I believe is the more logical and noble race. The marathon doesn’t mean one shouldn’t still live their life to the fullest, but that they should live their life to fullest with purpose, both short-term and long-term.

      At the other end of the spectrum, if one believes in Heaven or Elysium, and the path outlined to obtain those pearly gates is defined by a book written in stone and then open to interpretation by those that come later generation by generation, then I fear one opens oneself up to many dangers. In particular, take the Christian religion (and you can certainly chime in with other religions that may have a better approach to achieving the pearly gates). If one doesn’t become a Christian and follow the bible, one is lost and condemned to hell. That certainly excludes a large percent of the population and also suffocates any type of creative ideas and thoughts that may challenge the status quo based on knowledge learned or obtained since Jesus (who I believe was merely a sage). I think history shows what happened to people that questioned the status quo and the logic outlined in the bible. Men of science were put to death, or outcast, or thrown in jail. Witches were burned. And the Crusades speak for themselves. Also, such dogmas instill a sense of fear or guilt. I don’t think fear and guilt is a healthy means on which to build a society. But most important of all, the idea of heaven or a better place other than this one here on planet earth, prevents people from thinking in terms of what I was trying to communicate via my utopian project. Man needs to do all he can to create heaven here on earth. At least that is my opinion.

      I too agree with you that if we look at the visual arts, much can be learned about the culture and its value or suppleness. In fact, that was one of my primary discoveries from my immersion into art while I was in Europe. The technique and quality of art prior to Christ was so beautiful and skillful. But once Christianity took hold, the art became almost child-like in comparison. Both the skill and the beauty were gone. I would compare it to art that is three dimensional to art that merely consists of stick figures. It wasn’t until the Renaissance that the beauty of form and skill returned. And a big piece of the Renaissance was looking back to thought and art before Christ. But, look at our art now. What is our art? Where is our art? Who are the leading artists of today? Capitalism is our art and culture. Short-term gain and get all you can at whatever cost is the philosophy – winner take all. How does one create art based on that type of philosophy? And, oh how nicely adapted and accommodating religion has become to the capitalistic model as well as the government. Capitalism is devouring all as is the short-term view of life…they fit perfectly together. A ponzi scheme relies on short-term gratification and pushing off the pay-back well into the future, but when the future comes, one realizes there is nothing left.

      I may have disappointed you and provided merely an outlook. I wouldn’t put myself in the category of a person that diligently seeks knowledge and tries to live by those in depth studies and revelations. I am, unfortunately, kind of like a hybrid of an intellectual and a heathen. If I had to describe myself, I think the Centaur would be fitting. Although in our current culture I don’t think the powerful animal or half horse can be a reality. Upon reflection, perhaps a combination of a man and pig would be more appropriate…for a pig is merely concerned with consumption. And, while I blame myself for this analogy, I also take the hammer and chisel to the society at large. I do the best I can with the fragments of knowledge, experience, observation, and self-reflection that I can digest. It is through these things with which I am trying to salvage what little life I have left.

      I enjoy violent movies if the context and story is moving and raw and real. So I would love to watch that movie you recommended my friend and I would love to discuss theology with you. It is you that should be writing about the topic I just discussed, not me, and I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts and learn from the knowledge you have gained.

      • Thank you for taking time to construct such a thorough response. I am ever interested by the persuasions of people and their thought process. It is through understanding others that I more deeply understand myself, and that is a quest I will be on until they lay me in the ground. Your statement:

        “We should be working as a whole towards progression generation by generation with very long-term goals in mind but allow the flexibility to adapt those long-term goals and visions as the culture grows.”

        Leads me to a somewhat predictable question, I’m sure, but I can’t help but ask what you would define as “progression”? I must forewarn you that I tend to investigate how people define words in order to understand their views. For instance, “progression” to one person might be technological advancement. That advancement might outweigh preservation of nature in some instances. Another might define “progression” as a return to nature and less technology. Both people might have equally strong points from which to argue. And then there is the balance between the two views…so I am driven to ask “who has the right to decide?” If you lived in a society that believed it was progressing, but you personally found that society to be repulsive, would you adapt to prevailing view in favor of “progressing” based on the global standard? Do you personally hold standards that you would define as progression and “right” or “good” regardless of the reigning views? What is the ultimate for you in terms of society? Or is it simply always more progression? I do feel your comments on the fact that our society is permeated by short-term wealth and instant gratification. Perhaps one of the reasons for this prevailing view is that, even though most people would say they believe in the afterlife and the importance of eternal consequence, they simply do not live by it. I translate that as a failure of belief. Our actions describe our faith. A society that lives for short term gain and “in-life” progress only obviously does not see the value of the long term, regardless of their religious claims. What would you pass on to your children as a goal for society? How do they measure the usefulness of their life in the grand dance of living? How do you measure yours?

        My questions would never end, and you have every right to deny them credibility–especially given my ambiguity and shrouded existence in the online world. But, alas, I will ask them just in case 🙂

      • VW,

        I don’t have the opportunity to dig too deeply into this unfolding discourse, but I do have to weigh in a little on this question of the “afterlife”. You seem to give credence to the fallacy of the afterlife moral imperative, or what you refer to as “the importance of eternal consequence”. You appear to be implying that a belief in an “afterlife” and “living by” that belief does or should make people more responsible, moral, socially aware, or conversely that not having such a belief (or pretending to have it but not “living by” it) necessarily results in the opposite, for instance in living for “short term wealth” or “gain” or “instant gratification”, or perhaps even far worse behaviors. This is a conventional misconception many religiously inclined people are fond of advancing. At bottom it boils down to the idea that if people do not fear repurcussions after they die in the so-called “afterlife”, then they will live recklessly, destructively, insensitively et cetera in this life.

        However, there is another view on this matter that holds that a belief in the afterlife actually irrevocably devalues life in this world. The most obvious example of this is murder. If you believe that a person doesn’t really die, then what is there to stop you from killing him or her? You are just sending him or her on a journey to “another world” anyway, a “better place” in the case of “Heaven”, or a worse place in the case of Hell, where he or she “deserves to be” anyway. On the other hand, if you don’t believe that person goes on living after death, that this person exists only one time in one place and that by killing him or her you are snuffing out his or her existence once, for all and ever, wouldn’t that be something that would act as a deterrent? Wouldn’t killing a person in this case amount to a heinous extinguishing of an irreplaceable value? As you are well aware, all of our terrorists are fanatical believers in the “afterlife”–and I would assert that they are definitely “living by” that belief, that their actions are indeed an accurate reflection of their faith.

        There are other examples–briefly, for instance, the question of the world we live in and the form we give it. If one believes that this world is just a disposable vessel one is a passenger upon while one is waiting to arrive in “Heaven” after one dies, then what is the motive for making this world into Heaven (or at least trying)? On the other hand, if this is the only world one will ever inhabit, wouldn’t one be naturally inclined to begin viewing it as one’s only chance to inhabit Heaven, and thus begin living and acting in such a way as to try to bring such a Heaven about? “The Kingdon of Heaven is upon you” . . . NOW. Not in some abstract, vaporous “afterlife” beyond the grave–so now is the time to occupy it, and to try to cause others to join you in that occupation. Again, I would argue lthat treating and relating to the Earth like it is a disposable floating garbage dump is directly related to the belief that it is not the one and only world we will ever inhabit, but just a means to a “better place than this one”. If that is the case, where is the motive found to create the best place of all here and now?

      • Perhaps somewhere along the way I poorly worded my statements. Believing in an afterlife in no way creates a better or more socially responsible person. I don’t think that a belief in the afterlife necessarily results in any kind of social justice nor injustice. It may cause you to destroy your life, thinking eternity is better anyway, or it may cause you to live carefully if you believe every tiny action you take is being watched by a perfect judge who will punish you for mistakes. The same is true in the absence of an afterlife view. It may cause you to value every second all the more, or it may cause you to feel there is no “point” in living. I am painting with broad strokes only to say that I feel that even defining what is “morally acceptable” or “right” is something we would have to at least partially conclude before advancing this topic, so if I were to say that the absence or presence of religion makes a person better, I would be defining “better” based on either my own personal interpretation, my societal norms, or perhaps both (or other factors). The bottom line in life is often perception. Can you respect the belief of an “extremist” who believes a suicidal act of terror is honorable? Can you respect the views of an athiest who might find the idea of worship or religion a waste of time? Do you think that either view might potentially be considered “good” in certain environments? We are inevitably biased by viewing life through the lens of our personal experiences, and I believe we cannot escape that fact. We can broaden our views, but you and I will labor through any discussion with a certain amount of predefined standards for things like “right” “just” “progress” “morality” and I find it hard to believe that the world will ever agree on those things. As long as those concepts are left to mankind to define, we will have disagreement. In some ways, man has always been God, or at least playing at it, even when he claims a belief in a higher power. In that sense, a person holding almost any view has the potential of doing both right and wrong and acting both competently and foolishly. I feel that religious beliefs undeniably impact who we are, but not assure anyone a “good” life. Nor does the refusal of religion. Doing right, however you define it, is an ongoing series of choices which you make. In the end, I rarely need to ask someone what they believe. Our actions speak for our beliefs in most cases, and we all place faith somewhere, even if it goes no further than setting our alarm with a certain faith that the act of setting it will result in that bell waking us up. The world could do much better with less faith proclamations and more people who considered and invested into what they claim to believe is right. Life is all short-term when viewed next to the universal history of our species. I can only live by the second, and any views on the “afterlife” are speculation and theory until I die. I claim no great knowledge. I am a learner. So thank you for sharing your thoughts, and if I conveyed mine poorly, I hope I clarified a few points. Well said. I doubt any of us agree entirely, but then that is the only reason these things are worth discussing–we may still learn something yet 🙂

      • VW,

        Well, you have certainly clarified a few things . . . and muddled a bunch of others. 🙂

        Seriously, there isn’t much you have written here that I could find myself in disagreement with; and as I wrote, I just don’t have the opportunity to get into this discourse in a profound and thorough manner. Really, almost every one of your sentences are subjects for an entire essay. In this forum, we can’t go down that path. So I will try to distill what are for me the most significant aspects of your reply.

        While on the one hand I do appreciate some of your observations here about subjectivity and relativism, on the other hand they leave me asking questions. Is not Mount Everest the highest mountain in the world? Is there not also an element of the objective in allegedly entirely subjective assessments? Is there not higher quality in the foods (and for that matter the experience of dining) I consume at the cutting edge world class restaurants in my city that I dine at as opposed to McDonalds? Is the fact that some poor fools “like McDonalds better” enough to eradicate this objective fact? Don’t those restaurants represent, objectively if not absolutely, actual progress in this context? Can’t these kinds of same general, broad standards be applied to the idea of progress as a whole in all contexts and fields?

        “The bottom line in life is often perception”. I agree. Yet, just as often, it is not–as the above example shows. Certainly it is true that a person who believes in the “afterlife” can live a saintly life, while one who doesn’t can live the life of a demon–or vice versa. Personal interpretation of these views along with many other factors can result in different behaviors and choices.

        In the end, for me questions of “right” and “wrong”, “moral” and “immoral”, “just” and “unjust” don’t really interest me here. What does interest me in this discourse is the question of what Nietzsche referred to as “the center of gravity”–the question of where it lies. I profoundly question the notion that a person who believes in an alleged “afterlife” can truly reap a full-blown harvest (perhaps what you refer to as “in-life progress”) in this life. As Nietzsche put it, what happens if the center of gravity is shifted from this world to “the next world”? How does this impact the way one lives in this world–the way one exists, the way one relates to others, the way one relates to nature, the way one relates to the formation of the world around one? Sure there can be individual aberrations, exceptions, but what is the general tendency, the rule that results from this perceptive shift? What happens to this world when there is “another world”? What happens to this life when there is “another life”? Especially when those “anothers” are touted as “better”, as “Paradises”? What then happens to the imperative to create perfection in this world and life? In my experience–and I do realize that this is my experience–Death as something final and absolute is the ultimate impetus and imperative to reap the ultimate harvest from Life. Mozart’s Requiem embodies this truth in a musical metaphor.

        Finally, to answer your question: ‘Can you respect the belief of an “extremist” who believes a suicidal act of terror is honorable?’ No, I cannot. For as much as I find humanity utterly contemptible in so many ways, I long ago concluded that engaging in the active and conscious destruction of its representatives for the sake of any belief of mine is off the table for me. Why? Because how can I permit myself to be deliberately responsible for the destruction of something that quite possibly has one single shot at experiencing existence? How will I be the one to cut that short or off? My beliefs, no matter how firm and extravagant, are not worth that exchange. As for the view of the Atheist, yes, I can certainly respect that–for it is simply an incisive deconstruction of belief systems that in itself harms no one nor engages in that destruction of a singular, irreplaceable entity.

        In the end, everything isn’t absolutely subjective. There is a mixture of subjective and objective elements in every circumstance. There are things that are objectively, not necessarily “wrong”, but perhaps devaluing–and therefore of a dubious quality and nature. There is, indeed, much to learn here. I regret if these comments fall short in their superficiality, but again, we are subject to this limited context. You ought to seriously consider joining Tincup, Fountains, myself, et al at the Table, where the Socratic process could properly and extensively unfold from dusk to dawn and beyond.

        Respectfully,

        ~DS~

      • V.W. Your tendency to investigate sounds a lot like one of my favorite dead human beings – Socrates (edit…lol…I just saw Dragon’s reply to you after this post). I must say that when I joined WP I was hoping that there would be long discussions that take on a sort of Socratic dialogue. But as you and I both know, it is far from such a forum.

        If you read my painful and fragmented project on Utopia, you would understand a few points. First, I am not one to define higher visions and goals for I am a product of what is. I believe that what is falls way short of what could be.

        If we really wanted to explore your questions above, I would propose a post that discusses what should and could transpire at the point of Adam and Eve, but equipping them with what has transpired in human history. I would also equip them with all the knowledge that we have built since the written word has been recorded. From this starting point in which the Earth is bountiful and wild, we could be begin the discussion and debate upon what decisions and direction these two people and those that follow should take. And of course the input from other bloggers would add fruit to the discussion. It is through such a discussion that perhaps we would arrive at some vague answers to your questions.

        But here is my key point. I am a man that would be so happy and willing to burn my energy for a purpose or purposes besides merely my own mental masturbation or own material gain. I long to expend my energy on purpose that sounds like the second movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, or looks like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or feels like the sun and wind on my face, or invokes the sense of beauty of the sun or moonlight highlighting the clouds and reflecting on the vast ocean expanse. There is nothing in the current construct before me that invokes anything near such passion or motivation in which to expend my being. Do you find something that inspires your expense of energy within the current construct?

      • DS
        I’m afraid I haven’t the time to address all the points you touched on, but I appreciate your personal insights. I seem to have inadvertently initiated a much more intense series of opposing declarations than I had originally intended. It was my error in sparking it off by incorrectly wording my statements to lead you to believe I favored any particular view of the afterlife, and I take responsibility for that. In the end, I see a great deal of logic in some of your comments, but in the end I feel you are still debating from a stance that you consider to be “right” or at the very least “reasonable”. To say that, for you ” questions of “right” and “wrong”, “moral” and “immoral”, “just” and “unjust” don’t really interest me here. What does interest me in this discourse is the question of what Nietzsche referred to as “the center of gravity”–the question of where it lies.” seems to me to reveal something about what you consider “right”, and therefore is hopelessly linked to the ideas you are trying to avoid. However…

        I will tell you that based on my personality I will tend to advocate the concepts that are less popular, simply for the sake of consideration. I present them–not always because they are my own–but because I am naturally bent to consider opposing views. I have been involved in counseling, and it requires me in some sense to put myself into the shoes of that other person to appreciate how and why they think what they do. You will often find me fighting for the views and opinions of those extremes that are often discounted. While you may be able to say to them “No, I cannot. For as much as I find humanity utterly contemptible in so many ways, I long ago concluded that engaging in the active and conscious destruction of its representatives for the sake of any belief of mine is off the table for me.” I must say yes, I can respect their views. I find it different to respect their views than to adopt them, and I may never do that, but I am a being who is ever learning. I am hesitant to fully invest in any one idea of point of view. I find that to be doomed, for though I consider both spiritualists and atheists to have valid points from which to argue, I intend to be open to the idea of learning from both of them.

        My original intent was to hear TinCup’s point of view on a topic I believe to be imperative to society and the outlook that an individual has. I had no intent of arguing against his position, but count on me to question it. Always. And when in questioning I can stir emotions, or when in suggesting alternatives I can provoke reactions, I begin to find that persons central operating procedures. I begin to find the core of what makes them who they are. I also begin to find what may in the end be the greatest roadblock to progress they will ever have. Perhaps that came across in the form of an argument, but I apologize if it seemed so. However, it is merely curiosity here. I have no intent to convert you to any particular view, and you needn’t feel as though you have to argue hard against me. I am content to retreat because I do believe that people will change when they want to, and they will stay when they want to, and sometimes all the debate in the world cannot affect that. I am intentionally avoiding the addition of many of my personal beliefs here. Actually it is much more important to me what YOU think, because I am interested in how YOU choose to use your life. I already know about mine, and I would bore myself to speak to much of it. I am enjoying learning about you, and I look forward to hearing more of your well posed discussion. Thank you for your time! I hope you are enjoying a stimulating day and using every second to its fullest, as I am sure you are 🙂

        TinCup
        Forgive me for directing much of my reply to DS and accidentally hijacking your public forum with this discussion. I hope you don’t mind 🙂

        I agree with much of what you say. Particularly that we should burn our energy for something more. I must take time to dig into your work further and read your other posts. I am sure I could answer many of my own questions by doing so, and it seems that as long as I am taking this much time to visit your blog, I should really move on past this one post 😉

        Thank you for your time and your thoughts. As always, I enjoy reading your ideas and insights on society and culture. Good work!

      • V.W. You and others can hijack any post of mine and I welcome it with open arms. I am not here to control the content of comments. In fact more value can come from spin off commentary than the actual post itself as is I believe the case here. I absolutely love the concept Dragon Strand has raised via Nietzche…”The Center of Gravity”. If the center is strong, powerful, and bright, like that of the center of a galaxy (although ironically most scientists conclude that at the center of large galaxies is a massive black hole) a momentum is created but still allows for variation and beauty in the outer orbits. I fear that our center of gravity is capitalism which I have argued frequently seems to be tearing us apart.

        You and I appear to have a similar tendency. I tend to look at different sides and probe different angels to an argument. Afterall, that was the purpose of my Rhetoric undergraduate degree. One would read an argument, analyze it, and review both sides to the argument. But where we may differ is that once this process was undertaken, it was the duty to write a paper that takes a delicate stand one way or another. The purpose was to draw the audience in by revealing the merit of both sides of an argument, and then carefully applying the brush strokes and eventually the hammer to chose a side. I fear that through my life I haven’t been forceful enough in chosing and taking a stand. If we don’t eventually take a position or stand, I fear we simply evaporate or fall into the black hole.

      • I still hold a license as a minister, and I have certainly spent time surrounded by people who are more than willing to take strong stands. I respect people and their stands. Personally, I feel that the more intelligent I become the more ignorant I realize I am. I fear that in religion, as in many other sectors of life, people are often surrounded by other people who share their ideas. I have spent my life entangling myself with people who I knew did not share my opinions. I do so because I am in pursuit of understanding, and I can hardly learn from someone who simply echoes my thoughts. In that sense, I place a higher value on encountering new ideas and perspectives than I do in impressing my own. I concede to the far superior understanding which I am sure you and DS have on these topics, and thank you for an intriguing dialogue. I should probably return to the realm of art and poetry now, as philosophy requires more typing than I seem capable of 😉

      • V.W. There will always be a seat available for you at the table. We can pour you the cleanest and purest water earth has to offer and place in front of you the meal of your chosing. A minister, poet, and I am sure much more…is always welcome as are his thoughts and perspectives.

      • In the end, I see a great deal of logic in some of your comments, but in the end I feel you are still debating from a stance that you consider to be “right” or at the very least “reasonable”. To say that, for you ” questions of “right” and “wrong”, “moral” and “immoral”, “just” and “unjust” don’t really interest me here. What does interest me in this discourse is the question of what Nietzsche referred to as “the center of gravity”–the question of where it lies.” seems to me to reveal something about what you consider “right”, and therefore is hopelessly linked to the ideas you are trying to avoid. However…

        With all due respect here VW, “seems to me” is the correct designation for your perception of this. It is not a question for me of “right” or “wrong”–it is purely a question of how an existential orientation or way of looking at or perceiving existence impacts one’s experience of existence. That is what interests me here, not who is “right” and who is “wrong”, but how such different orientations affect to experience of and relationship to life. Whether the different outcomes are “right” or “wrong” is irrelevent. It is more a question of the kind of experience, and to be sure the value or quality of the experience that results. Is a belief in the afterlife “wrong”? Of course not, and frankly who cares? But how does such a belief condition the way one experiences and relates to life? The notion that I’m “avoiding ideas” here because I think they are “wrong” and that I am “right” comes somewhat amiss to me here. I’ve done my share of experimentation with self-mummification for an alleged “afterlife”–to be sure, as an orientation it is problematic for me on many levels; ultimately, it bears no fruit for me. This, however, is far from implying that I regard the orientation that does bear fruit for me as “right” and the one that doesn’t as “wrong”–it only means that one bears more fruit for me than the other. Naturally, I gravitate towards the one that bears fruit for me. Sitting on the fence between the two and visting them both periodically may provide many educational opportunities–but I, at least, haven’t got forever. At some point I have to get busy with bringing home a harvest from my life before I die. Sitting on that fence, or wrapping myself in bandages and entombing myself for the “beyond” isn’t going to get that done for me in this world.

      • Well then, enjoy your harvest my friend. I shan’t require any more of your time on this matter. It seems we must be about our own ideas of progress before our sun sets. Thank you for your time! All the best to you in your quest.

      • One more thing VW. Nobody engaged in this discourse has a “far superior understanding” regarding the subject under discussion, so you should consider withdrawing your concession. Thank you for your invaluable insights. There is much in what you have written that inspires reverence in me for you and the path you are walking.

        ~DS~

      • I appreciate that. I have nothing but respect for the views you have presented, and I am sure I will absorb portions of them into my own as I consider them. I would say I think you are right on many counts, but since who is right or wrong is of no interest to you here, it probably is irrelevant for me to say either way 😉

      • Indeed, VW, it would be “wrong” for you to say that I was “right”. 😉

        Much of what you have written is also “in process” for me. Perhaps I could have cut to the chase in the discourse by merely saying that the subject falls primarily under the field of metaphysics not ethics, though clearly it has some implications for the latter. And like I said, I agree with many of your points, including: ‘I can only live by the second, and any views on the “afterlife” are speculation and theory until I die.’ While I am philosophically (not economically) a materialist, and have strong suspicions that there is no “afterlife”, for me to claim to know 100% that there is no such thing would be to succumb to dogma and conceit, as have those who with a straight face sit there and smugly say they “know” there is an afterlife or “know” there isn’t. And how do you know this I ask them? “I just know”. Well, then, no you don’t–you believe you know, which is not the same thing as actually knowing.

        Faced with the prospect of not being able to know for certain one way or another, it makes the most sense to me and for me to live as if there isn’t an afterlife. Perhaps I even regard this as the most prudent course to take. The reasons for this I’ve already made clear in previous posts. I find that I live a more fruitful existence–that I am compelled to live such–if I view this life as the only life I will ever have. If it turns out that there is an afterlife, then I have still reaped a harvest from this life; and if turns out that there is no afterlife, well then I have reaped a harvest from the only life I will ever have.

        This is where certain people introduce that crotchet, certain people who “know” there is an afterlife. They say: “Well, you may have lived a fruitful existence in this world because you didn’t believe in an afterlife, but in the next one, because you did not believe in an afterlife, things will be reversed and you will be condemned to live a barren life for all eternity. I, on the other hand, having lived a barren life in this world because I believed in the afterlife, will in the next world be blessed with an everlasting fruitful existence.”

        The human motive for standing everything on its head like this is just a little too obvious for me, and I have a difficult time believing that reality and universal nature are actually in alignment with it.

    • The easiest way for me to explain what I was thinking is to think about capitalism. And when I say capitalism I tend to think about huge corporations, banks, and investment banks…not so much about small innovative companies. Capitalism is the primary goal we are follwing in this country…and for capitalism to work you must have those that do the grinding work (those that serve) for little pay and then you have those who have immense power and control by shuffeling money around and using people as pawns. Those at the top treat people like a herd and attempt to sway them this way or that through marketing and advertising to accumulate wealth. Then we judge one another in regards to how much money is in their pocket. I believe the super rich have gammed the system and that no individual is worth billions of dollars for what they do. But this is a huge topic which I have covered in old posts. My favorite picture to paint of an ideal humanity is the symphony. Indeed each person in the orchestra has a different part to play, but they are serving music and working together to do so. Capitalism is concerned with economics which in my opinion is just a base need for the human being and should not be the goal!

      • Tincup,

        Your take on capitalism is both insightful and excruciatingly accurate. I have enjoyed your insider’s view to economics throughout what I have read in this blog. Each time you divulge another piece of your experience therein, I find myself more enlightened and, likewise, exponentially more horrified. I’d like to thank you here for putting your balls on the proverbial chopping-block having shared your sordid economic exploits, as the conflict within you over them is painful and nearly palpable.

        I believe you would be the first to agree with me in that the maw that is these super-rich pig fuckers’ greed can never be satisfactorily satiated. For them, successes are but mile markers in a marathon with no finish line, and the end only in their inevitable mortality. There’s no time nor precious resources to spare even to marvel at their own accomplishments, and, likewise, no reward great enough to reimburse them for the magnificence that is their success!

        But are we so different? Does an artist not try to sway others to their own view? Do we not still judge one another, and at that, do we do so fairly? Does not each member of the orchestra, in a way, serve the conductor? I say yes! It is, in fact, very different!

        Perhaps a better way to illustrate this is in the converse. How much easier would a sculptor find any shortcomings in their work a learning experience, and not a failure–as opposed to the now homeless wall street casino (as you so eloquently put it) junkie having botched-big gambling away their soul? When a writer begins writing and writes something of value, does the value of this work diminish if the second work is better?

        Hopefully you’ll begin to see that without this idea of success failure ceases to exist. This is also why I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say we should stop measuring ourselves “relative to other men,” though I feel I am the guiltiest of hypocrites saying that. However, perhaps the opening line of this post could be amended to: “Man has made a great error in having a purpose.”

        Or how about: “To be served is an illusion of an illusion?”

        Or even: “Ayn Rand can suck a dick!”

      • Coffeesandwich…I went to visit your blog and I see we have another Dragonstrand on our hands 😉 An intelligent individual that perhaps finds the blog space quite limiting. So it was you clicking through all those old stale posts. I am glad you found some truth in them for perhaps I am projecting my own failures outward as opposed to inward. I try to do both for it takes two to tango. I try to apply the hammer to myself equally to that of what I view as the external power…thus I often put my little testicles on the slab…and they will certainly be dangling there in the upcoming posts regarding my short biographical summary.

        I am in complete agreement with your analogy to mile markers on an endless freeway leading merely in circles. On occasion, you will see such creatures suddenly try to exit the freeway and reverse course and do good for humanity — Bill Gates and Warren Buffet come to mind. But, the hole is so large that they are merely tossing coins into an abyss. After they have reaped their own individual jackpot, they set aside huge sums for themselves and then dump the remainder back on the roulette wheel to feel good about themselves. Indeed they are a better lot than the other which simply continues on the circular freeway, but I still don’t find them as men to be emulated or served. Certainly their ideas or leadership led to value, but that much value? If you want to dig really deep into archives see my very first post on this blog entitled “The Human World without Money, Debt, and Financial Institutions”. I want to point out that my motivation for starting this blog was based on the following. I watched a film called “The Smartest Guys in the Room”. It is a film on the Enron scandal. After the film I looked on-line for discussions on the topic and stumbled upon a blogger that was a former Enron employee and supporter of the company and the corrupt philistine leadership despite what had transpired. She was most likely fucking or been fucked by one of the executives. I made several efforts to post long and insightful arguments challenging her arguments and she consistently blocked my posts. She is on wordpress. So, I decided to start a blog to express myself. I had no idea what wordpress was about.

        I would make one slight adjustment to your discussion of the orchestra. I believe they don’t follow the conductor, rather they honor the composer. And, if you have a talented and brilliant composer, what better purpose for them to fulfill than that if they themselves are incapable of producing something that exceeds that composers relative masterpieces? And I wouldn’t classify their activity as serving. I would classify their activity as making beautiful music and honoring a great creation and the man behind that creation. I would be willing to play for such a composer with all my energy if I believed the composer’s piece warranted such an expense of energy. I would also say indeed artists have enormous egos and therefore compare themselves to others. But, the field and concerns with which they are concerned transcend the base field of economics. They are concerned with much more than things, shelter, and food. And doesn’t it take a brave and courageous ego to overcome the massive mis-directed momentum of humanity? I am ok with competition and comparison when we are dealing with more worthy topics or concerns. But in the end, I do believe that each individual should compare his/her own progress relative to him or herself and perhaps look out to measure his or her progress but only in higher concerns. And, if the individual can find motivation or purpose to join forces with other human beings for worthy goals, then they should measure themselves as a whole relative to acheiving those goals as well as measuring their own effectiveness in playing their part in that progress. These thoughts are all very crude and raw for my post was really dealing with economics so forgive me if I have botched my intention here.

        I really like your point on success. Indeed, if one thinks they have succeeded, then I believe they in fact have failed. There is no end to improvement. And although Ayn Rand gives good head, I don’t really care. For she has made a huge fundamental mistake. She tried to align the artistic spirit with the idea of capitalism. In my opinion the two concerns are fucking miles apart.

  1. From http://donlehmanjr.com/China/china%20chapters/china%20book2/china35.htm

    “Lao Tzu says empty the mind and fill the belly. While for the intellectual this comes as a curse, and for the politician it might mean that they should concern themselves with the nutrition of the populace before they worry about their mental state, for the Taoist it is very simple. It means empty the mind of thoughts and fill the belly with chi. However as has been elaborated on elsewhere, this is not an anti-intellectual nihilist comment. Instead it is simply a suggestion for meditation, for Taiji, for life. It means return to the state of all yin to prepare for the Return of the Yang. From a state of mental stillness, we accumulate chi, readying ourselves for the inevitable pure manifestation of yang. This state is not achieved by insight anymore than playing a flute is achieved by insight. It is a state that is achieved only through practice. Emptying the mind of thoughts is the focus of both Buddhist and Taoist mediation techniques. The insight is supplied by the wisdom of the Old Master, but initiates must perform the practices by themselves. Just as Tripitaka must make the steps himself, so must the student do his own work. The Tao Te Ching only provides the keys to the Path.”

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