adiaforon

Not essential to the faith

Tag Archives: philosophy

Well, at least he doesn’t seem to have the “girls” problem yet

I found this just now while putzing around for information for a job interview I have tomorrow.

I have to give the kid kudos. I think I might subscribe to his blog and YouTube channel if I remember it. So much other shit to worry about just now with reading and processing peak oil and transitional living. More to follow on that in future posts.

I do have a twinge of envy, though. This is something that I might have been inclined to do when I was his age. But, the tools didn’t exist back then, which was in the mid-80s. Gawd . . . that seems like ages ago. I also was more in the throes of hormones and being cloistered in suburbia. I didn’t start down my road to philosophy until I was around 18 or so. Three years CAN make a huge difference, with some things.

Good job, dude. Keep up the good work and make sure that you’re reading, learning, and talking with like-minded others.  This will be a long journey for you — and likely a lonely one.

Here’s his first YouTube:


 

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The Zeitgest Movement

I really, really do love YouTube sometimes. I’ve gone from a lukewarm casual viewer when it started back in 2006 (and I really did love those Dave Chappelle and cute kitten/puppy vids), to a “this is the ONLY thing that I’m likely to watch video-wise on my computer” phase. I don’t own a TV and never will, either. If only this shit existed back 20 years ago!

Speaking of shit, the Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) is really good shit. Some of you (especially my non-American viewers) might be aware of it already, since this is the sort of thing that non-Americans would pay attention to as a matter of course.

First, read the mission statement from the homepage.

Second, watch the three films, the earliest of which is from 2007.

Next, for a counterbalance, read something from Richard Stallman.

Finally, listen to Peter Joseph’s amazing marimba version of a J.S. Bach piece that set me down the path to enjoying classical music at age 17.

I won’t spend time and energy describing TZM here. That’s what the websites and films are for. Though I do have some reservations about the movement itself, as does Stallman and other Net luminaries, I really have to give Peter Joseph credit for bringing this to the mainstream. Indeed, as the ‘sphere sets out to do in some quarters, the task before us is to adopt a new way of doing things, because the old one ain’t workin’ anymore. “Reform” is really just patching.

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SWikipedia: S is the nineteenth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

“Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America” by Richard Rorty — Part 2

In the second lecture, “The Eclipse of the Reformist Left,” Rorty gets down to business. He starts right out of the gate with a criticism of Marxism, which some of we ‘spherians are right to call attention to, not the least of which is because of the emphasis on essentialism and purity.

 

 

 

 

Indeed, a few pages into the lecture, Rorty says:

If we look for people who made no mistakes, who were always on the right side, who never apologized for tyrants or unjust wars, we shall have few heroes and heroines. Marxism encouraged us to look for such purity. Marxists suggested that only the revolutionary proletariat could embody virtue, that bourgeois reformers were “objectively reactionary,” and that failure to take Marx’s scenario seriously was proof of complicity with the forces of darkness. Marxism was, as Paul Tillich and others rightly noted, more of a religion than a secularist program for social change. Like all fundamentalist sects, it emphasized purity. Lenin, like Savaranola, demanded complete freedom from sin and undeviating obedience. (p. 45-6)

Those of us who grew up with religion (me: Catholic) know about sin and obedience. This is why we usually end up fucked up and why it will take some years to undo the damage done when we were young. (Not our faults, of course, since we didn’t have any say in, for example, being baptized or sent to Sunday school when we were too young to decide for ourselves.) With modern-day feminism, we have another religion, and one that preaches about sin (viz., ignoring, neglecting, or negating the “feminine”) and and obedience (viz., you lose your job if you don’t toe the party line). It’s ideology run to the extreme.

Rorty says that the American Left of the Progressive Era could have done fine without Marxism. Marxism muddied the waters in recent decades with its emphasis on ideological purity, and using a vocabulary that supports this purity. In contrast, the Progressive Leftists were more concerned with the experimental nature of American life, which began with Madison and Jefferson. Rorty cites Herbert Croly, a preeminent Progressive, and his book The Promise of American Life. In summary, Croly believed that the problem lay with the traditional American emphasis on individuality and individual freedom, which, in turn, fostered a climate of unequal distribution of wealth. In other words, when everyone is “looking out for Number One,” the society as a whole suffers. The question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” comes to the front. If we are staunch individualists, we have the tendency to ignore our fellow citizens and focus only on ourselves. One can see that this detrimental to society, as a whole. But, of course, the issue is more complex.

Rorty goes on by saying that Croly eventually looked to the state as the means to redistribute wealth, in tune with a drive to counteract selfishness and excessive individualism. In this respect, Croly is sometimes called a “socialist,” as was his intellectual successors. And, Rorty adds, “we Americans did not need Marx to show us the need for redistribution, or to tell us that the state was often little more than the executive committed of the rich and powerful.” p. 48) In other words, it wasn’t necessary for we Americans to use Marxian categories to frame some sort of workers’ revolution, which is classical Marxism from the social, and not the economic, standpoint. Instead, it would have been sufficient to concentrate on the American values of responsibility to one’s fellow man, in order to head rampant selfishness and greed off at the pass.

“The history of leftist politics in America is a story of how top-down initiatives and bottom-up initiatives have interlocked.” (p. 53) The difference, according to Rorty, is the following. Top-down comes from people who are safely and securely ensconced in the upper echelons. They got this way through hard work, entrepreneurship, or, yes, maybe through inherited money. They then take this time and money and devote it to those that are below them, because they’re worried about the have-nots and how little security they have. Why this is so is largely immaterial, and Rorty doesn’t comment on it. With bottom-up, it’s a rebellion — a rebellion from those that don’t have the money and security, and who feel that they’re getting a raw deal. Strikes fall into this category. Bottom-up took the risks and made the sacrifices, but this would have gotten very far if the top-up, with relatively little risk, had not joined in the struggle, and provided safe spaces and cover for the bottom-up. This is a truism, as evidenced by many example from the period.

Then came Vietnam. That same left, Rorty says, that was a combination of top-down and bottom-up, and who believed that the state (a commonwealth) could be used to address inequalities, became splintered. The students’ sense of what the country was like during that time changed, and not for the better. Now there were calls for revolution. This wasn’t what the Progressivists were all about. Rorty then cites example of the New Left that started to form, the theoretical underpinnings of which were Christopher Lasch and C. Wright Mills.

Rorty concludes the lecture by saying that the period between 1964 and 1972 was, despite the rage, a good thing. If nothing else, it fomented feelings and activity to get something done. Otherwise, the US might have turned out to be a far worse place than it is today (Rorty writing in 1997). The revolution didn’t take place, and that was a good thing. The hue and cry managed to get the troops out of Vietnam, and get the unions to push through for 40-hour weeks and collective bargaining agreements. Again, it could have been worse; the military-industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned us about, could have continued unabated.

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Girls (and everyone else in their lives) on film

This is a quickish post before I head out to hike on this gorgeous and sunny day . . .

Attention-whoring among modern-day girls and women is very well-known in the ‘sphere. We see it all the time on Facebook and its spinoffs, like Pinterest. There isn’t a day goes by when some of my Facebook female friends are posting some new pic, usually of themselves.

Philosopher that I am, I’ve often wondered about the female fascination with photos and taking photos of themselves, friends, and family. It might seem obvious, but as I’ve not really concentrated on this subject, it’s hard for me to come up with a cogent argument for or against.

Then, I found something from Sue Hindmarsh, and Australian philosopher. It hits the nail on the head beautifully.

Women love to keep mementos and souvenirs from past relationships, or events. Many of them place framed photos of their loved ones on every available surface, or hang them on their walls, or they’ve kept every doll they were ever given as a child, or they collect knick-knacks and fill cupboards and side-tables with them, or, like Elizabeth, they like to keep gifts from ex-boyfriends. All this ‘stuff’ surrounding them is a constant reminder of how special and wonderful their life really is. It also makes the transference from one object of desire to another object so much easier. She can still hang on to something before crossing over to the next.

It’s like they’re rock climbers, they never let go of one hand-hold before getting a grip on the next, otherwise they might fall; or in the case of women — disappear.

Reminders of how special they are. Bingo! I think she’s on to something here, by Jove!

My attitude towards and relationship to photos is more ambiguous. Sure, I’ve taken many photos in the past, especially when I was traveling, because I wanted a memento of what I had seen. It was more important in the days before digital cameras, when you had to buy film and then pay to get it developed. You were more concerned with getting that “perfect” shot so as to not waste film. Not anymore.

With that in mind, I wonder if it wasn’t Facebook but digital cameras that brought out the latent attention-whoring in women. Might be a good topic for a blog post another day.

Anyway, as I said, I think that Hindmarsh is definitely onto something here. You can read more of what she has to say here.

Now, off to hit the rocks.

Bryan Magee, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche

I was a philosophy major in college, so I have a lot of experience with this subject.  I’ve been reading it since I was a freshman — over 20 years.  One can never read too, too much of this stuff, but much of what’s been written about the “greats” is really just commentary.  To quote A. N. Whitehead,

“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”  (Process and Reality)

The moral is, try to red the greats in the original.  Worry about commentary later.

So, what relevance do Schopenhauer and Nietzsche have for the Manosphere?  I’m not the first to pose this question and not the first to give his take.  But, as a closet pedant, I do take some issue with how some will usually take quotes out of context.  I prefer to look at the big picture.  Things make more sense that way.  And, after all, isn’t philosophy really about learning how to live?

I won’t go into Schopenhauer and Nietzsche in this post.  I’ll save that for later.  For now, let me say some things about Bryan Magee.

Magee is now an old fart, but his career has been quite eventful.  His books are usually well written (especially the one on Schopenhauer), and he is best known for a TV series he did in the 1970s that made the “greats” in philosophy more accessible to the educated layperson.  You can watch all of the programs on YouTube, but below, I’ve included the ones in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.  The one on Nietzsche is a bit better because, IMO, Copelston is rather boring.  But, hey . . . what do you expect from a Jesuit?  The last YouTube vid is a BBC one . . . much better than the Magee one.

Five most important movies

What do you talk about with a woman you just met either online or in a bar that doesn’t have to do with what either your or she does, what school you went to, where you went on vacation, or how well your favorite sports team is doing? Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, mentions that, on first dates, we most often default to the boring questions about hobbies, etc. in an effort to rock the boat. In the Manosphere, we’ve heard about asking a woman emotional questions to get her into a state that doesn’t default to a fucking interview. I won’t repeat this here. Suffice to say, this is basic stuff.

So, here’s something I’ve done before with women: ask them to name the top five movies they’ve seen that have affect them strongly in one way or another. Not only is this a good topic to get the ball rolling, but it helps to shed some light on what might be important to the woman. Bonus points if she likes films that make you think and if she doesn’t watch the average, sappy romcom but once in a great while.

And, with that, I give you my list of movies that have affected me. I’ve done this only once or twice with women, and I’ve usually gotten blank stares. Oh, well . . .

1. AMADEUS (1984)

I’m a fan of classical music. I have been since around 17 years old, and a little before. (Thanks, “Hooked on Classics”.) This movie went on to win several Academy Awards, and it’s still talked about in the canon of movie history. Roger Ebert wrote two reviews on it.

Of course, the movie is about music — Mozart’s music. But, it’s not about Mozart. It’s about Salieri. In particular, Salieri’s vanity and envy. His envy struck a chord with me because envy is something that I struggled with when I was a younger man. Why? Well, if you have no good mentors, then I think envy springs up eventually, especially when you think that someone else is living the “good life” when it could be far from the case.

Effect on me: it helped me put my early classical music in context.  It also taught me how poisonous envy could be.  Most of us weren’t born a genius, but have had to work at it a lot through our lives.

2. BLADE RUNNER (1982)

Probably a common favorite among some Manospherians. Classic for cyberpunk and for the intersection of cyberpunk and film noir, and it merits more than one viewing to see all that there is to see. If you’ve ever read the Philip K. Dick novel on which it’s based, there are stark differences. Again, since this is a movie, it’s heavy on visuals. Thanks to Syd Mead for this.

I first saw part of this movie while seeing another one (Blue Thunder, I think) back in 1982. It was in an old drive-in with two screens. Runner was playing on the other screen, and I stole some backwards glances while in the backseat of my parents’ car. I thought the movie was strange-looking, to be honest. Then, I saw the whole thing in 1990 and was transfixed. Just the opening scene itself was enough to strike terror in me. I knew I didn’t want to live in a world like that. But, the funny thing is that I think we’re headed that way. November 2019 is still on the horizon. Will we see Replicants then?  Will an android like Rachel exist?  Would she be real enough to replace real women, thereby enabling men to avoid the typical woman’s bullshit?

We still have Vangelis, too, whose soundtrack is probably one of the most well-known ambient soundtracks from the 80s.  “Memories of Green” is a classic track.

Effect on me: one of my first visions of a scary, but beautiful, dystopian world.  It stimulated my thinking about memories, the self, the intersection of the memories and the self, and the meaning of life.

3. THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1987)

I was raised Catholic, so the content resonated with me at the time and resonates with me still, a long time after I became officially agnostic. Those of you around my age probably remember how this movie caused quite the furor when it was released, with religious protesters outside of movie theaters calling for blood. Nutty fervor at its finest.

What was the crux of the furor, you say? Jesus having sex with Mary Magdalene. Um, yes, I can see how this might be taken as offensive, but the protestors were missing the point. They missed the broader context. Reading the novel is better for the context.

The “temptation” in the movie is how Jesus was almost swayed from having a normal life. Kazantzakis meant to focus more on how Jesus was human, and not paying much attention to his supposed divinity. Jesus kind of knew what he was supposed to do from the beginning, when he heard the first of the voices in his head. But, he, like so many of us, didn’t trust himself and didn’t listen to find out what his mission was. Having a mission is very important to men. This isn’t a brand new topic in the Manosphere. If men don’t have a mission, then they feel lost and miserable. Eventually, Jesus finds his mission, culminating in “It is accomplished.”

This movie also put Willem Dafoe on the map. Peter Gabriel wrote the soundtrack.

Effect on me: taking the core story of my Catholic upbringing and turning it on its head. Focus on the mission, and a nudge to remember to try to do something extraordinary at least once in your life. I tell people that it’s one of those movies you watch late at night alone, when it’s quiet, to let the story and the atmosphere wash over you.

4. RAN (1985)

“ran” = chaos, disorder, rebellion

Some hail this as Kurosawa’s masterpiece. (But others will say Seven Samurai is better.) The conditions under which Kurosawa labored to make the movie (death of his wife, nearly blind, many problems with securing funding) are sufficient enough to put it in his top three. Visually, it’s stunning, helped along by the minimalist and Japanese-influenced score of Toru Takemitsu.

Knowing the “King Lear” story helps in understanding Ran’s story. King Lear transforms into a feudal lord, and Lear’s daughters become the lord’s sons. Jealousy and treachery lead to violence, and it’s hard to have sympathy with the lord in the beginning because he got where he was through cruelty and violence. Karma is a bitch. Yet, as with Lear and witnessing his breakdown through the course of Shakespeare’s play, we feel some sympathy towards the lord. At least one of the sons manages to separate himself from the cycle of violence. Yet, in the end it consumes him.

The movie is bleak, yet it’s one of those movies that I never get tired of watching for nothing else than the cinematography.

Effect on me: visuals, haunting images, the score.

5. THE NAME OF THE ROSE (1985)

The movie version of the novel of the same name, written by Umberto Eco. Eco’s novel is more in the form of a puzzle and a display of his erudition as a medieval historian, while the movie is more on the visuals. (Aren’t they usually?) I wasn’t taken with it when I first saw it on videocassette back when I was in high school, so I had to watch it more than once.

I’ve been a fan of Sean Connery since I first started watching the old James Bond flicks. I think Connery does a good job in this movie, though some might have panned his performance. At least he was doing something more productive with his time in the 80s than things like Zardoz. Yikes . . .

Effect on me: the relationship between William and Adso, which is a classic mentorship role between master and novice. The older man taking responsibility for the young man under his wing, who left his father to become a monk. One sees that William is a quality man, so Adso has a good mentor. This kind of model is what I wanted when I was a younger man. My father could only provide so much, and what he did provide was lacking.

You’ll notice that all of these movies are from the 80s. That was my formative decade — the time when I was moving from childhood to my pre-teens and then young adulthood. Not to say that there haven’t been other movies I’ve seen since the 80s that aren’t equally compelling or impactful, but these are the ones that always stick out in my mind. I watch them occasionally.

Effect on me: mentorship, older man guiding a younger man who needs it.

Honorable mention: IKIRU (1952)

The word ikiru is a verb, meaning “to live.” The movie is one of Kurosawa’s earliest, and maybe the most poignant and haunting one to watch. As Ran is bleak and violent, Ikiru is somewhat bleak and not at all violent.

It’s bleak in the sense that the main character has been a cipher for nearly all of his life and now he finds himself on the precipice of death without having done anything worthwhile in his life. Throughout the movie, he tries to find what could give his life meaning. Nightlife? Nah. Something else, maybe. He commits and then breaks through with working against the bureaucracy to do a selfless act: create a park for kids in the middle of a city cesspool. He’s successful, then passes quietly away.

It’s not the man’s impending death that’s haunting; it’s the fact that he did nothing with his life until that point. But, some could argue that, since he did that one selfless act, it might validate all of his life before his death. Even more haunting, though, is how his son and the others realize that they could do the same, but then fall back into listlessness, not choosing to do anything.

Effect on me: classic existentialist, and the awareness of the passage of time. The older I get and the more time I see passing behind me, the more aware I am of acting and finding meaning in everyday acts, or at least weekly acts. Also, that you eventually outgrow the nightclub culture because it doesn’t really add to your life in any substantial way.

Henry Dampier

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