Tagged: philosophy

Because Reading the Wall Street Journal for Free Feels Naughty — A Return to Beauty

Why do I always leap at the chance to read Peggy Noonan? Because she’s published by the Wall Street Journal. For my whole life that publication has been elevated as more valuable than all others. Simply put: it had better writing. But I would never pay for it. No way. It wasn’t that good. And I knew that if I did pay, then the guilty pleasure of sneaking in some articles at hotels or the gym locker room would have died.

But I’m tired these days. It’s still great writing. But reason matters to me too. And in Noonan’s Bogus Dispute op-ed of today she writes, “But it’s right to worry about the damage being done on the journey.” And later, “On top of all that, the outcome was moderate: for all the strife and stress of recent years, the split decision amounted to a reassertion of centrism.”

These two statements cannot be defended as reasoned conclusions. I’m not saying they are illogical. I’m talking about Reason, Locke style. Fear and worry have no place in a reasoned life. We are never right to worry. Never.

As for the second statement, it’s not only unreasoned, it is also false. Since when do polar opposites added together amount to centrism? Centrism amounts to centrism.

Noonan seems to think that conservatives can be abstracted up to a state-of-being similar to mere energy. And then she asks us to place that energy on one side of an equation where progressives are on the other side, similarly abstracted. Then, if anyone can even follow this mental gymnastic, she asks us to see that the result-announcing equal sign is the USA. (Or maybe the Flag.) Fortunately, she is wrong.

If Ms. Noonan wants us to ‘go abstract’, here’s how it would work. Conservatives abstract to, say, 70 million, and are added to progressives, -78 million, and the result as any fourth grader knows is not zero (or balance), but negative eight million (70,000,000 + -78,000,000 = -8,000,000). Or, concretely, a progressive President.

Life is not math, though. It is art. And the great thing, for optimists like me, is that even when there are less colors (freedom), art can still be beautiful. And that’s all that’s happened here. A few or perhaps even many colors are disappearing. So I, for one, look forward to the new restrictions, the new boundaries from which to make my masterpiece. But, then, I never did understand abstract art.

Un-Locke Some Joy and Clarity

John Locke opens his, “Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government,” (which he wrote to combat the notion, en vogue at that time, of Divine Right of Kings—itself predicated on the idea that the King was descended from Adam), he opens with four points.

Paraphrased, he says, firstly, Adam had no right (nor did he claim any right) to be such a king—over his family or others. Secondly, Adam’s children were not passed any such right. Thirdly, if his children were passed such right, there is no way to tell which child of each successive family should or did receive the right. And fourthly, (here I’ll directly quote at length) “That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge of which is the eldest line of Adam’s posterity being so long since utterly lost, that in the races of mankind and families of the world, there remains not to one above another the least pretense to be the eldest house, and to have the right of inheritance.”

Put shortly, Locke says, even if we believe Adam was endowed especially by God to be King, and even if this special endowment was to be passed on to one of his children (and then one of his children and on and on), too bad! We’ve dropped the ball. We’ve lost track! There’s been too many generations, too many brothers and sisters each generation! Next!

The clarity of his writing is enough to make anyone smile. So read more Locke. Especially if you want to criticize the government. Because as it stands, all criticism I come across is unfocused, unclear, and childlike. We can do better. John Locke is proof.

One Handle On the Pandemic

When thinking Biblically, it is difficult to avoid developing theories for why the pandemic is happening. As in, “What have we done, O LORD, to bring upon ourselves this time of uncertainty? Gambling? Entertainment? Wine? Women? Empty pews? Unrepentant hearts? Not saying your name often and loud enough? What?”

As you may have expected, I have one answer. This answer nourishes my soul and it may prove to nourish yours. So I’m sharing it today.

The reason that this is the day for sharing is that last night, H- reported to me that her elementary school fifth grade class’s week of “different form of government each day” had drawn to a close.

At the close of last week, the eternally incapable of critical thought, and therefore stupid, young teacher had sent a warning/announcement email to mothers and fathers (addressed politically correctly as “parents/guardians”), asking us to not spoil the fun. The email mentioned that the immersive experience would include one day within Monarchy/Dictator (hardly a “slash-able” form of government to anyone who knows how to read), one day within Communism, one day within Socialism (does a ten year old ((or 30 year old for that matter)) really possess the faculties to understand the nuances between these two?? Read on to find out…), and one day within Democracy.

The following are my daughter’s reports.

Monday – (To be clear, this day was a surprise to her. She had not been informed that the day was going to be different than any other before arriving at school.) Besides telling me she cried and subsequently putting her video on pause because I laughed when she told me as much, she said, “I didn’t like how mean and strict she [her teacher] was.” (She couldn’t really remember the name of the form of government.)

Tuesday – “Communism was okay. Had to do the same thing as everyone in the class. At least we got to talk with our friends.”

Wednesday – (Socialism, I think. Again, H- couldn’t recall the name.) “The teacher chose seven students. Then those seven ruled over two each. I didn’t like it. But it wasn’t that bad really. But it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it that much.”

Thursday – “Today, the last day, was Democracy. It was pretty fun, but there were more boys than girls. So it was unfair. Because we had to do what the boys wanted.”

Can you, dear reader, imagine a greater success to a more important undertaking?!

What have Americans done to bring about the uncertainty? Answer: Squandered perhaps the greatest opportunity to educate the whole of our nation’s children that the world (thus, the LORD) has ever given mankind.

Put bluntly, I sleep better and live better with the thought that the deaths of this here pandemic, the uncertainty and fear caused by it, and the Public School’s decision to move to remote learning—with its result that parents can no longer ignore the failure of the falsely lauded public school teachers (“Oh, whatever would we do without these noble education-major-because-I-lack-creative-impulse-at-eighteen pedants?”)—might combine to mean that the facade is over.

The LORD has spoken! Public Schools must be abolished. Since we’re not smart enough to see their harm, the LORD will do it in his own way.

Maybe you can see the wave of abolishment building, too. Know that it is real. And know that it is good. Bring on the ‘rona! Four more years!! Four more years!!

Being Right Everyday Is Boring. Today, I’ll Lie. For Fun.

In our Post-Christendom/Pre-Muslim country, one of the grievances that has come to my ears, and at times come from my mouth, incessantly throughout my life has been that of false prophets’ unceasing role in the Faith. Christian belief seems to contain no stopping power when it comes to men and women seeking the available influence that accompanies predicting the future. This election cycle has proved no different.

Earnest Christians have loved talking about how some prominent-over-there (I’m sure) Africa-continent-based Prophet predicted Trump would win in 2016 even before Trump announced his entry into the contest. These believers do this, of course, with the hope of keeping the Bible alive. (“If prophecy still happens, then it surely happened in the past,” being their real claim.)

And only if you have stopped your ears and avoided all churches for the past two years could you have avoided hearing that some similarly stationed Prophet (that was right about something else recently) had pegged Trump as victorious this go-around.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, writer of the infamous-to-some-in-the-West Essays, wrote of one ancient tribes’ prophets, “…but let him to’t; for if he fail in his divination, and anything happen otherwise than he has foretold, he is cut into a thousand pieces, if he be caught, and condemned for a false prophet: for that reason, if any of them has been mistaken, he is no more heard of.”

Who among us really recoils at that treatment of false prophets?

And yet the punishment, however fitting, does nothing to allay the problem. The problem being: being right everyday is boring.

I’ll sign off today with this lie. For fun.

I feel the same today as I did yesterday.

Resist Every Urge

I love writing at this moment. Love it! Why? Because all you ground-based beings are stuck in uncertainty. My wings release me from such trouble. And while at other times your permanent connection to the earth gives you advantages, at this moment, “advantage pilot”. At this moment writing feels like flying.

So Trump lost. Whoopdie doo. It was all hype anyhow, like I said. The important thing, right now, is to resist every urge to keep the hype going. There was no coup. There was no inordinate amount of voter fraud. There wasn’t. In place of those things there was a presidential election in the United States of America in November of 2020. And lifetime politician Joe Biden won.

Resist every urge, I say. Do not feed the hype. The sky is not falling. There is no silver lining, no matter how many minorities voted their conscience instead of their skin color. Resist every urge. I say again, there is no silver lining anywhere. But it’s not because there is no hope. It’s because there is no dark cloud. That’s the truth. You’re just depressed. Admit it. Then cheer up.

How? Escape. I’m talking exercise your capacity for fantasy. Read romance novels. Watch romance movies. I’m still working through Kushiel’s Dart and every one of the 594 pages so far has improved my mood. Try not to smile challenge: The heroine/temple-prostitute/servant-extraordinaire explains, “While I learned how to kneel uncomplaining for hours at a time and the proper angle of approach for serving sweets after a meal, Ysandre was learning how greed and jealousy corrupt the human soul.” Saucy.

And last night we watched Romancing the Stone. “I’ve never been anybody’s best time,” Douglas replies, crushing it. “This is Joan Wilder, who writes the books I read to you on Saturdays!” the drug-lord clarifies.

Do not feed the hype. Resist every urge.

I Feel Like Biden Won

I’m rushing to push out this short post today because I want to keep up my status as one who has his finger directly on the pulse.

Firstly, I was right. It was all hype.

Secondly, I feel like Biden won.

Thirdly, I can’t find anyone in the mainstream media (or the replacement media even) who has said this yet. And this is weird. I mean, of course we don’t know the final outcome with certainty yet (that’s why I said “feel”). But is there really that much doubt? “O ye of little faith.”

More importantly, however, than sharing with you who I feel won, I wanted to say that, I don’t know about you, but I feel great. Why? Because I was right. It was all hype.

It’s All Hype. I’m Stupid. You’re Stupid

No commentator gets it. None of them do. So I’m compelled to get back to it. Last post, I think, before the election.

The pundits are trying. They even seem to be pulling out all the stops, as it were. (One Trump defender actually discussed Trump’s oft-neglected athletic stamina when advocating for him.) But they’re wrong. None of them really possess the focus and clarity that this moment requires. Lucky for you, I do.

Here’s the truth: It’s all hype. I’m stupid. You’re stupid.

How do I defend my assertion? Firstly, by clarifying that I don’t mean ignorant. I mean stupid. Ignorance is bliss. We are not living in bliss. We are living stupidly. We know better and are screwing it up.

Secondly, I defend my assertion by recalling to mind the joke from Ghostbusters that was told when the goddess Gozer appeared and asked one of them, “Are you a god?” Akroyd’s character answered, “No,” and then they all got hurt. At this point, the black ghostbuster rebuked Akroyd, “Ray! When someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”

That joke works because the information seeker, Gozer, at that moment in the parlay, had admitted a weakness: she couldn’t discern deities from mortals. And even the black guy knew that mere mortals would be stupid to give up their unexpected advantage.

Well, I say that this scene has been playing out among us since March. We were gods—even the blacks, for all their whining. Then we found ourselves in new territory—PANDEMIC!! At this point, we made our misstep. We asked Fauci and other mortals if they were a god. Unluckily for us, and (I fervently pray) damningly for them, upon hearing verbal confirmation that we were morons, they all were, unlike us, savvy enough to say, “Yes. Yes I am.”

To be clear, we were Gozer. We were the gods. And, apparently, I’m the only one on the planet who can put this into writing. That fact alone demonstrates how stupid we are.

Finally, I want to go on record as saying the following. This is not the most important election of whatever select time period. It’s not. It’s not even pivotal. The fact that we let people talk like that is further evidence that we’re stupid. This election changes nothing. That’s the truth. And I don’t mean that in some sort of depresso way. I mean it as dryly as possible. As in, “What do you think, Pete?” “To be frank? It’s all hype.”

People who we don’t know—stranger danger 101–have been duping us into believing they are smarter than us, more important than us, more powerful than us, more relevant than us, and that they have more insight into the nature of life on earth than us for nearly all time. Some of us have read the words of men who lived in moments in time that weren’t like this. Seems like it was fun. But the majority of human history has been a record of stupidity—gods giving up their power.

Wednesday will see the rising sun. So will Thursday and Friday and the rest of time. It’s all hype. I’m stupid. You’re stupid.

Next Term, Trump Should Go Full Pre-Science

I’ve been reading entries from Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. The entry on Alexander the Great will make you regret having read any other printed words first. So very interesting.

One aspect that makes it especially intriguing is how Plutarch, with the stated aim of capturing what moved these giants of history, references over and over again how dreams, bird signs, and other non-duplicatable, often mystical, pre-scientific experiences (and their interpretations) drove Alexander.

Whether to fight the battle today or tomorrow, Plutarch tells us, Alexander might decide based on a flock of birds having appeared. If Alexander found himself in a stretch of mourning after he killed someone in a fit of violent passion, he might have allowed his priestly oracles to interpret a dream and the interpretation was then used to stir him back to life.

This is on my mind today because I had a bizarre dream early this morning. Quick backstory: I have a checkride coming up. If the weather held, it would’ve been today. (Weather didn’t hold.) In any case, last night I went to bed around eleven. I awoke at four to use the restroom. I couldn’t fall back asleep.

Next thing I know, I was in some kind of building—like a cabin in a dense forrest or jungle—and my wife, stepson, and baby daughter were also around in the dreamscape. I can’t remember the beginning of the dream, but the drama grew when I saw a vividly green—off-white underbelly—and huge lizard (think something between Komodo dragon and the thing Obi Wan rides in Episode III). Like all dreams the exact sequence and details are hazy, but I know for certain that I was afraid of it and wanted to protect my family from it. It wasn’t on the attack, but I knew that it—by nature—would try to bite anything that got close enough for it to grab hold of.

My wife wasn’t as afraid as I was, and actually was, herself, in the process of removing two smaller lizards that had climbed onto her, as if it was no big thing.

The rest of the dream was basically of the theme that I was very worried and fearful of the big lizard, while nobody else’s demeanor matched my concern. It was uncomfortable, but in the end I awoke.

My interpretation? In my rookie days of contemplating the meaning of my dreams, I would’ve overlooked the first and major point of this dream, being, despite the general theme of fear, I was not eaten or fatally attacked. This leads me to acknowledge that the dream means I have nothing to fear. I will prevail.

Secondly, the fact that my wife was there and almost carelessly removing small lizards—while I was fearing the big one—means that I had something to do with the size of the lizard after me, means that I didn’t handle business when the lizard was small. This, then, I interpret to mean that I am the cause of the fear. I let my anxiety (likely over the pending checkride) grow disproportionately. How to fix that? Daily preparation. Fight small, winnable battles as they come rather than feeding the beast the fruits of procrastination.

Now let me ask you, dear reader, a question. Hasn’t this little blog post made me more likable? Isn’t it more relatable? President Trump is so anti-authority as it stands, I can’t see why this type of thing wouldn’t help him achieve the immortality that he seems to desire. I’m serious. None of us have a real understanding of just exactly what makes him wake up in the morning. And even if we believe it’s “love of America”, that still doesn’t really tell us much. But through dreams and bird signs etc, and how he responds, we’d be sure to see a fuller picture—maybe even one we like.

Get Up! Move Faster!

“I don’t think you’re accurately accounting for the level of vanity involved in the people who translate ancient (or for that matter contemporary) texts.”

That’s what I should have said. Instead, I indulged myself in a fruitless, ground-losing defense of the character of translators. I think my big claim was, “Trust me. These people get it right!” Fizzle.

Why was I talking about translating ancient texts? Because I was talking about the unparalleled world of reading that opens to a human that learns one language—English—as being superior to the notion of achieving some sort of highly inefficient, multi-cultural divinity because of speaking two or more languages.

My partner in the conversation was, naturally, repulsed by this placement of English on a pedestal. Her devotion to sounding welcoming of all peoples and tongues was so blinding that she couldn’t even see that it’s English that gives us the access to all peoples and tongues (or at least those who have had anything to say that’s worth repeating). There’s no Arabic translation of Shakespeare spreading through the Middle East.

Oh well. Now I know. Live and learn.

Rhetorical tip o’ the day: Go with what keeps the conversation interesting and plays into putting the moron on the defense of whoever I’m trying to defend.

“You can’t blame Trump supporters for their zeal. They were beaten into stupors by white supremacists as children. A child can’t recover from that.”

“Well, you know, pro-lifers haven’t really been exposed to other ideas and cultures. Especially the ones claiming female gender. They’re basically enslaved to their holy book, incapable of escape. Pro-life is their hijab.”

“Many of the men supporting gun ownership are actually just compensating for their sterility, which they contracted due to PTSD, either from A. essentially being drafted—due to their poverty—to fight America’s illegal wars, or from B. their having witnessed gruesome animal torture on hunting trips with local hate groups at a young age.”

Yep. Those would nicely tee up even the nimblest leftist rhetorician for slaughter.

Can’t trust translators. Puuh. What an empty statement.

This Time I Resolve Why There Are No More Great Ideas (And This Also Explains Why Good Ideas Didn’t Ever Really Come Out Of Anywhere But The West)

I’ve had my “Great Books of the Western World” set for over two years now. Not including the Synopticons, books 2 & 3, I am on book 5, I think. Aeschylus. I think. Anyhow, the thing that has been unresolved until now is how no one else cares about these amazing books and ideas.

Finally, today, it hit me. To put it avant-garde, the reason no one cares about the “great books/ideas” is because there are too many Indians to kill this time around. Put inversely, the reason no one cares about the “great books/ideas” is because there is no vast, unexplored, unconquered, and ungoverned terra firma to be again treated like New Eden. After all, it’s “you’ve been kicked out of the Garden”, not, “You’ve been kicked out of wherever you settled after being kicked out of the Garden.”

We don’t seem to be able to think more than one step ahead.

Put another way, great ideas and great books—so says the zeitgeist—have become meaningless. We ask, “What’s the point? Where could we put them into practice and try to build up a utopia for a third time?”

“Is anyone really going to redraw European boundaries? Will untamed regions of Africa and South America and Siberia and Northern Canada really find themselves useful to man?”

“Where is the Neo New World? Or the Ultimate Final Frontier?”

“Speaking of, will it be ‘New USA’ once we’re living somewhere off earth? Or just ‘USA’?”

My step-son just finished reading about Columbus, from an author who adored Columbus—rightly so—and on no follow-on ACT/SAT-prep style reading comprehension test is Columbus:Spain::Musk:USA, no matter how many dictionaries or books I let him use.

Changing generations, my good, in fact, great friend is working on his History PhD, and in so doing writes on mountaineering and exploration. I used to think he was writing the history of mountaineering and exploration. Now I see that he is writing that mountaineering and exploration are actions and ideas which can only be found in history—like the word “homespun”. The crazy part of this aspect of my realization is that many people and cultures never climbed mountains for pleasure or explored uncharted vistas in the first place. It seems that nature is not equitable when dishing out bravery. We might say that bravery is actually unnatural. Better to hide, run, and go hungry.

In the end, despite the depressing nature of the above, I am terribly excited to have resolved this.

Stay tuned for a post about how I resolve the follow-up quandary, which is deciding how to let fellow earthlings know that they are not very nice neighbors without killing the men, raping the women, and enslaving the children. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.