What is a Meaningful Life?

MEANING PIC
Revolution 36 by Darwin Leon

A MEANINGFUL LIFE BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

What do we mean when we say someone leads a meaningful life?

We mean his life is important, worthwhile, directed to a significant end, at least as far as he is concerned. Although others may disagree with his evaluation, its formal meaning is derived from the society which has communicated to him its values from the time of his birth.

A meaningful life, then, has a very high social value, the absence of which may cause a man to despair. Perhaps he has arrived at the conclusion that the world including society is deaf to him; that there is no god, or that god is the devil or could really care less about him; that mankind is really a herd of animals heading for the slaughter house; that all the ruminations about meanings are vain and indigestible.

The despairing man says life is meaningless, yet he may yearn for the Good Old Days, perhaps medieval days under the motto “universalia sunt realia” (universals are real), the Universal of universals being the Supreme Being. The extreme version of the motto, “universalia sunt ante rem” (universals exist before the thing) may be too far gone for him, but “universalia sunt in re” (universals are in the thing), will do nicely. Needless to say, “universalia sunt post rem” (universals are after things; i.e., are just their names), will not do at all, for that falls outside of the real Middle Ages, aggravating the very meaninglessness he abhors.

Ah, yes, the Good Old Days of Universals! And what was universal to the Gothic soul? What was meaningful? The meaning of medieval life was given in facts of belief rather than by scientific manipulation of the environment. The purpose of the medieval soul was its universal edification. We find a universal People, King, Church, Economy, Style (Gothic), Code (Chivalry), Science (Theology), Ethic (Evangelical), Law (Roman), Language (Latin). Yet in contrast–and the Middle Ages had its stark contrasts–the individual was certainly significant, as is obvious from the various confessions and works of art still available today.

In our own time, now that God is dead, Nature is dead, and Existence is almost dead, the despairing man may long for the Gothic time when man really believed in visions both true and false: in God and Devil, saints and witches, and, most of all, in himself, good and evil. Indeed, since God was real and the world was His work, shadowy and mysterious though He and His work might thankfully be, a man believed in everything; which is to say that he, like God, loved the world so much he sacrificed himself for it. So great was a man’s love for life good and evil, that he believed Love was the origin of everything; and he strove, like the Gothic Spire, to rise into Heaven to meet his Maker.

What joy, what optimism have those who truly believe and therefore lead meaningful lives!

Furthermore, the medieval soul did not care for trashy, mass-produced goods, but took pride in the crafts. Since standards of living were relatively fixed according to one’s secured station in life, there was no need for amassing surplus income. Mammon was the Devil, and many were the knights, scholars, clerics, beggars and troubadours who considered work to be a diabolical curse.

Well, now, perhaps scholars will beg to disagree with that assessment of the medieval genius, yet they will probably agree that the despairing man must believe there was or can be such a thing as a meaningful life; otherwise, he would have no complaint about its present meaninglessness. In other words, his meaninglessness has meaning.

What, then, is the difference between the man who commits suicide, perhaps killing others as well, because he says life has no meaning, and the man who would die for and kill others for meaning?

There may not be as much difference as we suppose, especially when we consider only the decaying bodies. However, suicide by one’s own hand instead of by others in battle does seem more absurd. Life must have meaning, it seems, or else there will be hell to pay. We assume that meanings are communicated by ideas, and that all thinking is FOR the thinkers. Medieval thinkers thought that knowing just to know was a pagan activity; modern thinkers think all thinking has a useful motive, although the thinkers might be unaware of it. It stands to reason, if a meaningless life is not worthwhile, then meanings are worth dying for. As I have said, there is even a meaning to meaninglessness, just as the idea of nothingness has meaning in relation to somethingness. So the suicide kills himself for meaning.

But alas, many ideas once valued at the risk of life and limb are now considered worthless or merely of historical interest, and we suspect many of our own precious meanings will appear ridiculous to our successors. So why should anyone want to risk his life for what may be an illusion or even a mass delusion? Are we that desperate to lead meaningful lives? for some illusion? for some delusion?

Indeed! Some philosophers say the world is an illusion; not that we should try to jump through walls; not that the world is not really a creation; but that our perceptions and conceptions of that creation are and shall always be distorted, and are often completely false. Why, then, would any sane man despair over his conceptions of mere phenomena, or why would he wind up killing himself and or others over them? A normal man has some cause for despair if he has no food and shelter and company, and cannot satisfy his needs for them. And he has reason to be angered by ideas conceived to deprive him of necessary property or of sufficient life and liberty to enjoy the necessaries and have some spare time to reflect. But for a man to chase after nebulous phantoms such as “success”, pursuant to some ideology of what a meaningful life is, and then to despair when the ghost is not apprehended, is even more absurd than the suicide who leaves his problems behind unvanquished.

Now, then, I realize we cannot go back and live in the Middle Ages, nor can we force ourselves or others to believe in something that no longer holds water for us or for them. How pathetic it is to see “faiths” argued, for there is no need to defend true faith by argument; the arguments are confessions of weakness and fear. Still, notwithstanding the death of the god, nature, and existence we were once so certain of, the Universal still presides whether we know it or not, and whether or not creation moves up or down to or from the Universal, or both.

As far as I am concerned, the most meaningful life is in the painful climb, in the attempted ascent through the hierarchy of universals to the Universal of universals. (1) It is only in climbing that I can tolerate the particulars below; otherwise, I might as well, in utter despair, start shooting at random from the hip; for what difference would anything make in the slime, or in the shark-eat-shark ocean, black-inked by cuttlefish? On the upper hand, if I may climb out of my own futility on the slippery slope where I can do no harm except back slide into other climbers, then I am confident I shall obtain a secure position to do some little good for everyone else on the Mountain above and below.

For I too am inspired by the Gothic Spire aspiring to the Infinite. Let anyone say, then, since I may never arrive at my destination, that I lead a meaningless life, and I shall reply, “That is exactly what I mean, and it is good enough for me.”

-XYX-

(1) Truth is a most exalted universal, yet it is found only in agreement, in the central love for one’s kind. Samuel Taylor Coleridge remarked on that truth in his political essays: “The world is a vast labyrinth, in which almost everyone is running a different way, and almost everyone manifesting hatred to those who do not run the same way. A few indeed stand motionless, and not seeking to lead themselves or others out of the maze laugh at the failures of their brethren. Yet with little reason: for more grossly than the most bewildered wanderer does he err, who never aims to go right. It is more honorable to the head, as well to the heart, to be misled by our eagerness in the pursuit of truth, than to be safe from blundering by contempt of it. The happiness of mankind is the end of virtue, and knowledge is the knowledge of the means; which he will never seriously attempt to discover who has not habitually interested himself in the welfare of others. The searcher after truth must love and be beloved; the general benevolence is a necessary motive to constancy of pursuit; and this general benevolence is begotten and rendered permanent by social and domestic affects.” Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, The Best of Coleridge, Thomas Nelson & Sons: New York 1934

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What Every True Conservative Wants the Most

MAMA PIC

Graphic by Darwin Leon

I WANT MY MAMA BY AARDY AARDVARK

A true conservative always wants his mama and should just say so.

It is very difficult for a professor of politics to be honest with himself let alone his students. That is especially true for a conservative such as myself. In fact, whether one thinks he is a liberal or a conservative, it is politically incorrect to tell the truth about the motives for one stance or the other. Instead, to keep up the distinction between the two political positions, he must lie through his teeth on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, regardless of the political exigencies that require constant deception, I think it is a good idea to try to keep in touch with our true nature on a regular basis. I shall set aside a half-hour on each Monday, the day devoted to the Moon, to telling the truth about my political orientation regardless of its sexual implications.

I am a conservative. What I really want is my Mama. I want to go back to her womb. I am afraid to say so because of the prejudice against incest. But my incestuous urge is towards the cosmic Mama that all mothers represent in their original virginity.

My Mama is pure and unstained by the sorry progress of this filthy world. My birth mother did her best to provide me with a good upbringing according to her favorite maxim, “Cleanliness is Godliness,” but she was unable to rid the world of the filth of progress.

I want my cosmic Mama. There is no dirt in her. She is black. Her womb is absolute space, devoid of dirty details, of mere light and dirt and eyes to see it. Mama owns absolute space, the infinite void: her essence is absolutely a priori.

I must say that progress is disgusting. As far as I am concerned, progress is just another concept proving liberals have managed to delude themselves. The vulgar perceptions of creation and the ridiculous concepts that follow are delusory, manifestations of mass hysteria, organized narcissism, and common ignorance of reality.

Progress is cowardice, an excuse for running away from Mama, a perverse denial of the instinctive will to regress to the womb of Mama. Liberals who say they love change are self-deluded; their change is relative; change is nothing without something to change against, without a background. The background is Mama, and the struggle against her is futile because the struggle amounts to and results in nothing.

Instead of running away from Mama, we should run to her. She will take perfect care of us. Our so-called liberty is merely a figment of an imagination we do not really own. Only in lying disobedience to Mama are we free individuals. We are going to learn our lesson soon enough: liberty is a delusion in the long run. Therefore, why waste our time running around like fools when we can run to Mama? That is what I really want to do, but I have been afraid to admit it because of the conservative code of silence, the big lie. But from this day forward I shall speak out every Moon Day in different places around the illusory world. I shall speak the truth as a conservative:

I want my Mama.

Aardy Aaardvark, Phd. Professor of Politics Vaard University

Hola Cabron – On Goats and Cuckoos

CABVRON PIC

HOLA CABRON by David Arthur Walters

On the relevance of goats and cuckoos

Mexican friends of mine often call me “goat” in Spanish. I thought it was an affectionate term. Just last Sunday I overheard a Hispanic man answering his cell phone on South Miami Beach. He boomed, in friendly Spanish, “Hola, cabron!” (Hello, goat!)

However, my new friend Carlos, a Dominican-American from Manhattan, was angered because I strolled up and greeted him thus when his ex-wife was visiting him last week. After he calmed down. I explained that I thought ‘goat’ was a pet name. His wife was grinning from ear to ear.

“No, it is an insult to call a man a goat,” he vehemently said, and noted that some Dominicans would punch me out for using that dirty word. After his wife left, Carlos said cabron means a guy’s wife is running around on him and he doesn’t do anything about it. I profusely apologized and made myself scarce.

The more I thought about the affectionate way my Mexican friends called me a goat, and Carlos’s angry reaction to the word, the more curious I became – I am single, by the way – so I asked a Columbian friend of mine about the meaning of the word:

“Don’t say that. It’s a very dirty word.”

“Does it refer to a man whose wife is running around on him?” I asked.

“No,” she answered, “it is a dirty word. In English it means (expletives deleted). You use that, it will be big trouble for you.”

“But,” I insisted, “my Dominican friend told me it has something to do with goat behavior, the way goats run around on their wives.”

“No. It has nothing to do with that,” she insisted. “What is the English word for that?”

“The English word is ‘cuckold’. Now that I think of it, I’ve heard something about goats in English, about a husband being horned because his wife is cheating, meaning she made a goat out of him.”

“Cuckold?”

“The word is about a kind of cuckoo bird that runs around on her mate, but he does nothing. So they say a man has been cuckolded or that his wife made a cuckoo out of him. ”

“Cuco. I understand.”

“If you call an American a cuckold he might be insulted, but it is not a fighting word like (expletives deleted).”

That made her laugh.

“We don’t use cabron that way. Here, I have a book in Spanish for you to read,” she said, handing me a paperback book by Julio Cortazar. Even if you don’t understand everything, keep reading and you will learn many things. I have a dictionary for you somewhere.”

Someday I will take a Spanish class, I thought as I trudged home. Just going around and asking people one word at a time is fun, but is not the best way to learn a language. Nevertheless, I went over to Kafka’s Kafe, an Internet cafe on Washington Avenue, later that evening and asked a friend from Argentina:

“Does cabron mean a man whose wife runs around on him and he does nothing?”

“No, that is a bad word – what do you say? curse word?”

“I think cabron originally meant a goat or a husband whose wife cheats, and later on it became a cuss word,” I expounded.

“Yes, cuss word, that is it. The word you want is cornudo. It means the horns have been put on somebody. ”

“Mira, mira, look at this!” I exclaimed – I had just ran a search on the word at Google. “This site about Puerto Rico says the first definition is, ‘A man who lets his girl cheat on him is a cabrón’. And it can be used to show affection for friends.”

“Hmmm. That is in Puerto Rico. It is bad word in Miami. We don’t use it.”

“I hear friends calling each other that.”

“They must be Puerto Ricans.”

“Mexicans.”

“They use a lot of bad words. But their Spanish is good.”

I had heard just the reverse about Argentinians, from Cubans. I had to consult a dictionary at the main library the next day. Not that a dictionary is a reliable teacher, but at least it represents some sort of standard that people without certified professional teachers can refer to when in doubt. I looked up cabrón in Real Academia Espanola’s Diccionario de la Lengue Espanola (1984):

  1. Macho de la cabra. 2. fig. y vulg. El que consiente el adulterio de su mujer. 3. El casado con mujer adulteria. 4. El que agaunta corbardamente los agravios o impertinencias de que es objecto. 5. El que hace cabronadas o malas pasadas a otro.

That is a very dignified way, I thought, of defining a “vulgar” figure of speech. Number 4 is my favorite: Latins can be so macho! Okay, if one believes a goat has dirty habits, I supposed, then calling someone a goat might make the word a dirty word. But still it is hardly an obscene word, at least not in the sense of the various English expletives offered to me as synonyms. Perhaps I need a Spanish slang dictionary. In any case, I don’t think I will use “Hola, cabron!” as my answering message.

Note: The author begs the reader’s pardon for his impertinencias if he has omitted pertinent diacritical marks. There is too much to remember with Spanish! For instance, cinco años means “five years”, whereas cinco anos means “five asses”. Besides, the browsers often make muck of letters with diacritical marks.

Miami, July 2005

My Black Ford

BLACK FORD PICK

MY BLACK FORD BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

When I was seventeen years old, I bought an old black Ford and drove it over to the Highway Patrol station to take the driver’s test. I had one heck of time just getting there because I did not know how to shift gears and work the clutch and brake at the same time, so when I had to stop at the top of a hill, after trying four times to go over the hill I had rolled back down the hill–good thing nobody was behind me.

I made it about a half-hour late and took the test. The first thing I did was back right into the wall of the station, but no damage was done. Fortunately the officer was very tolerant. After the test he wrote out a temporary license, handed it to me and said, “Drive carefully, son, and may God help you.” What a nice guy, I thought. Authority is not so bad after all.

Well, I was thrilled. So I drove down to Main Street, to Mel’s Bar & Grill. The horizontal parking downtown was tough going, but I got into a space on the third try. I went into Mel’s and guzzled beer with three Mexicans–I was already six foot tall, and nobody bothered to ID me. We got smashed, and while we did there was a big fight between the rubes and the Indians; one rube got sliced from his neck to his belly button; it was really cool. Anyway, I wanted to show off my car to my drinking buddies, so off we went with a pint of tequila one of them had.

Caramba! What a ride that must have been – I was so drunk I can’t remember much of it. We almost made it to the shopping center on the outskirts of town, where I ran into the median strip and lost control of the car. It careened across two lanes, knocked down the 15 MPH sign and the sign for the donut shop as well. I luckily missed six or seven other cars. My three amigos in the back seat shouted “Vamos!” I backed off the donut-shop sign, did a U-turn and got the hell out of there–believe me, I had never head the phrase “hit and run” yet.

I dropped off the Mexicans back at Mel’s, and, amazingly, made it to my house, where I parked the car, staggered inside, and called my best friend Jim. I told him what had happened, asking him how much it might cost to fix the smashed in front and side of my car. He told me about “hit and run” and said I would be in big trouble, so stand by, he said, and he would come over and check things out.

That he did, and when he saw the damage, he said, “Man, the cops will see this and add two and two, match up the paint, and you’ll go to jail for sure.”

What to do? “Get rid of the car.” So I drove the car over to the river with him following behind. When we arrived I aimed the car at the river, got out, Jim put a rock on the accelerator, and over the edge of the embankment it went, rolled a couple of times, and sank into the river. It was really cool to watch. But the back end was sticking out of the river! What could we do? We left.

The next day the cops came to my house while I was sleeping, banged on my door and asked me where my car was. “It’s outside,” I said, rubbing my eyes, hung over pretty bad. “Show us.” Outside we go.”Oh, where is it?” I said, “I parked it there. Somebody has stolen it!” The cop said, “We know what you did. You dumped it in the river.” I confessed right there, too naive to know he had made that up.

Next stop: the police station. No sweat, my dad bailed me. He was pissed but he saw how sorry I was so he did not lecture me much. Then to the courtroom, where I told the judge I did not know it was against the law to leave the scene of an accident or dump cars in the river. That was the first time I heard, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Damn! But I got off light. So did the community, fortunately: I realized people could have been killed. Nobody had been hurt, and I had to wash police cars for six months. And I had to work to raise the money to pay the fees it cost to retrieve my car from the river, tow it into town, and store it, but it was a worthless junk!

That’s about the time I started dreaming about becoming a serious writer.

# #

Fear and Love and Doom – Reflections on Columbine Massacre

Fear and Love Image

Painting by Darwin Leon

FEAR AND LOVE AND DOOM

Reflections on the Columbine Massacre

By David Arthur Walters

The bloodshed from the murders and mayhem at Columbine High School was still fresh in our minds when the three foremost proposals to curb violence were once again raised: gun control, media controlled preaching religion in schools.

A foreigner, a Japanese psychologist, made one of the most instructive comments. He said that Japanese children have all of the violent programs that American children have, including the interactive ones. However, he went on, it is extremely difficult to buy weapons in Japan. Most importantly, he concluded, Japanese children learn that they must love in order to succeed.

We can imagine why the Japanese people have a strong aversion to the possession and use of instruments made for the express purpose of killing. Although a device for another purpose, such as an automobile or a toothbrush, can be used to kill, the image of a weapon beckons us to its proper purpose. Because of man’s glaring unpredictability, just the sight of a man with a gun causes some men to imagine killing him in preemptive self-defense. In Japan, even the blades of old war swords are ruined before being sold as souvenirs. Fragments of unthinkable horror still reside in the psychological mementos of Japan’s last war, making of disarmament a virtue not easily extinguished, especially in the light of two generations of peaceful development.

We might suppose, for the sake of argument, that if Japanese children learn they must love in order to succeed, then failure to love is feared because it has dire social consequences. In contrast, Americans tend to believe that love should be voluntary, and that fear of failure stifles innovation. We prefer more of a devil-can-do-and-take-all attitude, rather than rigid social conformity. However that may be, and whatever our superficial differences, we now look out for success in each other and are quick to appropriate each other’s models and to exploit them under our own names. Fortunately for the development of the human race, people do not have identical experiences everywhere at the same time; hence we learn from diversity and profit accordingly. Therefore, there is much to be gleaned from the remarks of a foreigner regarding our domestic difficulties.

Of course the relation of fear and love is certainly familiar to the so-called Western mind. Yet there exist different cultural balances of fear and love with corresponding expressions and measurable consequences. When the progression from fear to love is being strangled somewhere along the line, the person finds the obstruction in a real or imagined object and tends to respond violently. Or, without fear to discipline desire along a loving course, love is rendered worthless altogether and the random response can be generally devastating. Therefore, the domestic balance of fear and love is more important than a financial balance. Certainly the global balance of fear and love is more vital to the favorable determination of man’s future estate than the current sum of international trade balances.

Besides regional and world trade organizations, we should have assemblies for the assessment of the current balances of fear and love. Our assemblies could educate us on how to achieve the optimum balances given the various circumstances. A grand assembly could render its opinion on whether the deliberate inculcation of fear has been outmoded as an educational technique. Just as political think tanks ascertain whether or not a people are ready for free democracy, our grand assembly could advise us on whether or not we are ready for unmitigated love. Americans must be almost ready for it, now that parents are paying several hundred dollars for a course based on the premise that children should be rewarded for good conduct and that bad behavior should be ignored until somebody is getting hurt.

As a matter of fact, prophets have been speaking of an impending age of love for many centuries. One popular prophecy is that such an age will follow an enormous disaster or series of disasters, natural or manmade. Some good folk will be saved. They are ushers of Love who heed the early warning signals, flee to the designated shelter, abandoning everything that they may live. Life is their love. The rest cling to their possessions for fear of losing everything, so they perish. They love dead things. Our prophet here is an extremist, but he is still a prophet of both fear and love for the doomed and the saved. It is, rather, a question of what to fear and what to love: the Subject of subjects, or the objects, which are nothing as things in themselves. Although he seems hell-bent on doom, he proclaims that fear of death and love of life will spare the faithfully obedient. He advocates the fear of eternal damnation and the love for eternal life beyond the relative life span of individuals.

Well, then, will there be preaching in schools? Will there be no separation of state and church?

The separation of state and church is made moot by the prophecy of doom. The proud walls and towers of both state and church will tumble down to be united in rubble, paving the way for the humble school of the society of love.

It may seem to the cynical that our prophet is just another angry man who hates the obstructions to his self-love, and who calls upon an imagined supreme being to fulfill vicariously a destructive wish for revenge. Who dares to identify the obstructions for everyone else and thus define the universal will of the ineffable? Is not that the height of blasphemy, the epitome of pride, and the idolatrous projection of indignant selfishness? Perhaps we have in our prophet just another misfit by his perverse choice, or an outcast by social consensus, or someone who is making up his own divine laws because he is lacking order in his own life. Maybe, to protect ourselves, we should have him committed to the appropriate institution; the learned doctors surely have a number for his kind of disease. Why should we heed his orders as our commands? Because, although he may be a misfit and an outcast, he did not create his orders: he found them in reality. There is a reason for and a method to his madness, which is confirmed by the social order. Or, rather, the social disorder.

Indeed, the madness of the angry prophet is a prominent symptom of the social disorder and disease reflected by the media. It is an infectious disease transmitted and aggravated by mass communication based on the fetish for dead objects and the pernicious perseveration of vicious imagery taken out of context. As social animals we have a tendency to imitate, and the media is our main guide. Ironically, the very executives and experts who deny the harmful consequences of violent communications rely on positive affirmations and attitudes, on mottoes and slogans, visions, mission statements, success stories and other prayers. Of course, the petitions are for net profit, thus the vicious cycle is perpetuated.

One sort of prosperity, such as net profit or savings, pursued as the purpose of life, is the worst kind of poverty. “Stocks” were once sticks on which accounts were kept. Now too many of us have become economic ants carrying our stocks on our backs up the wall of financial worry, a wall where our big gun, our collective defense, Humpty Dumpty, uselessly awaits us. This period of sustained economic growth that appears so satisfying is a horrible hell to others who need viable alternatives to check the waves of random violence that are bound to encircle the insane global pursuit of dead objects and the mutual contempt of competitors. Observe the obsession with violent images thrown with wanton disregard into the pool of life. The rebounding waves of virtual, redundant violence are amassing at that critical point where image is converted into accelerating action, threatening to destroy us in an orgy of mass murder-suicide.

What other signs do we have of the coming cataclysm besides raving prophets, lying leaders, high school shootings, obscure wars, and mounting prison populations? When shall we be sure that the end time is near, that the final period is upon us? There are many signs everywhere, creeping up on us through the cracks in all walks of life. So slowly do they slither about us that we are hardly aware that life is being slowly squeezed out of us, just as we squeeze a tube of toothpaste until it is exhausted. We are caught unawares because many of us have been persuaded that history is merely the evolution of technology. The fact that our democracy is now an economic dictatorship feeding on the carcass of the spiritual body is seldom mentioned by professionals; what counts is that the colossal maggot feeds efficiently. Technology preachers presume to tell us what we will want next; efficiency is the idol, so everyone must have a personal digital assistant to distract him from his slavery with an illusion of freedom, and have a life otherwise bemused and bewitched by gimmicks and gadgets. The efficient exploitation of public opinion reigns supreme; there is no such leader as a leader of public opinion; there are only imitators and exploiters of it. Techno-capitalists produce the circumstances of our lives, which we are to live out, as the walking dead, under a coercive technological totalitarianism sponsored by the big business state.

Furthermore, money outweighs votes. Consciences are sold cheaply at market prices. When the government, which is supposed to have a monopoly on violent means, does not use its power to disarm individuals for the public good or protect them from nuclear attack, it seems that private firearms will indeed be needed to protect us, not so much from the usual suspects, but from governments that behave like vast systems of organized crime.

Yes, many are the signs of the impending doom. Some seem rather trivial. When the distances between periods diminishes; when sentences get shorter and shorter; when word processing programs dictate sentence length and otherwise shrink consciousness into mechanical definitions of good grammar; when attention spans are so short that only sound bites will do; when conversations sound like machine guns spitting out uniform bullets; when delightful romantic discourse can no longer be carried on; and when everyone talks technology: these are just a few of the incidental signs along the fast road to doom.

What we observe in the prophecies of doom and in the popular movies about natural disasters and random violence is not only a death wish; it is a dying plea for the restoration of a proper balance between fear and love. Between fear and love there must be the faith that there is a greater good, a higher good than state or society, regardless of its denomination. The progress from fear through faith to love may be contemplated, in the form of a convenient over-simplification, in terms of ages.

The age of fear is the rule of law under the state. The age of faith is the beneficence of grace within the church. The age of love is the intercourse of free society. The progression is from slavery to voluntary obedience to freedom; under the objective forms of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy; as personalized by the relations of father, mother, and children; the relatives are essentially one family. All are one and one is all. The differences perceived are perspectival.

If we do not broaden our perspectives and restore the proper relation of fear, faith, and love, if restitution is not forthcoming soon, the prophet will keep ranting that the violent images before us are self-fulfilling prophecies, that our death wish will come true sooner than we think, and that we will surely receive what we ask for. Doom

Introduction To The Word God

Aardvark

Am I just another aardvark or am I a god?

I tend to cringe a bit when I open a book by an unknown author and see the word ‘God’ on every page. The word ‘God’ has been misused to justify every damned thing, to avoid personal responsibility for every sort of misdeed.

An arrogant individual behaves like almighty god and refuses to confess that he is the god actually doing the speaking. Furthermore, to speak of the subject named ‘God’ as if God were an object-out-there is the worst sort of materialistic profanity. Indeed, to speak of the Subject-of-subjects as an object is grammatical idolatry. Moreover, it is technically blasphemy, for the name ‘God’ is being used to slander God by calling God an object.

Once I perceived that the usual employment of the usual deity-word of pagan origin was perverse from both the scientific-objective and religious-subjective perspectives, I simply ignored literature in which it often appeared. However, I have lately developed a keen interest in religious subjects and their core Subject-of-subjects, the Supreme Generalization, not because I have or want Faith in general or some organized faith in particular, but because I want to know more about my real self, the subject I am, before my body turns to dust.

Indeed, I have become more concerned with death, the foil for life, and with the purpose of life itself in contrast to death, especially the human life that is mine at present. Hence the topic ‘God’ and everything ‘God’ stands for arose in relation to my concern, and led me to the realization that whether or not God “exists,” human beings with their fear of death and their hope for life certainly do exist, and that ‘God’ is the proper topic for study if I am to get to know them and therefore myself in our mutual concern. ‘God’ may be nothing more than the projection of the human Ego or Existential “I”, but what is that?

Who am I? Who or what lives and dies and why? Such a selfish need to know invariably leads to a search for obscured causes or origins. Is not the self or subject the origin or cause of my effective existence? I want to know who I am, the subjective “I” that is me and every other “I” like it. In our mutual identity we are the human Subject-of-subjects, the True Man, if Truth be agreement. We are, to the extent our wills are one will, the Collective Cause of our “I”s. But I cannot know “I” alone, for “I” am knowing-subject and not object-known. However, I can know the effects, or the objects of causes. And if objects can be understood as the universal Object, I can know the Object-of-objects, sometimes called “World.” Needless to say, this Object is acted on or tainted by the Subject by virtue of some active Relating. Not that “I”, as I ordinarily think of myself (as a unique individual), am the sole omnipotent creator of the World, yet in the respect that I am a cause influencing the World along with my perceptions and conceptions appertaining thereto, I act by some means of Relating.

Therefore there is a third Moment involved. I would also know the active relating between subjects and objects, and the Relating between the general Subject (Cause) and Object (Effect), or more mundanely, between Man and World. That Relating is said to be spiritual, energetic, forceful and so on, an activity called “spirit”, “energy”, “force” and so on. Thus we have a third term. Where we have a Cause and an Effect we also have a intermediating Force. In temporal terms, we have the Past (Cause), the Future (Effect) and the intermediating Present (Force). Or, here is another word play: Heaven is the Cause, Earth is the Effect, and Life is the Force.

Besides the three Moments, there is a final concern to be termed, the unity of the three, the Triune. Some heretics think that the Triune is a fourth Moment, signifying the Power behind the other three! Other heretics dispense with the three terms altogether and say they know the ONE and only ONE. Since all these speculations defy the known laws of logic, and rely instead on the faith that inspired the disputes that resulted in the discovery of logical precepts, there are many heresies (“to choose”) to choose from.

Such are the metaphysical calisthenics resulting from my concern with my own life and death. The exercises have had many good and bad effects for me just as they have had for the world at large. At the very least they distract my mind from the final answer to the ultimate question. As I said, I am seeking myself in my causes. Sometimes I think I have an inordinate concern with the past, but then I observe archeologists and psychoanalysts digging up the past, and I notice astrophysicists speculating on the origin of the universe: I do not think I am out of order. Some good might come out of self-spelunking!

That good might extend our lives a bit or make them more enjoyable, but as we advance in age during our investigations, the end of our bright future becomes increasingly obvious, as if it were not obvious all along as we inspected the bones being dug up. Ah, but if the secret of the Cause of that awful Effect could be found as we approach the birth of death, then we will be able to recreate the elixir of immortality and slake the thirst of that godly portion of us dying to live forever. But alas, as we approach the ultimate truth of life, the Ultimatum, it is too late.

Little did I suspect when I began my struggle to know myself that I was digging my own grave. Little did I suspect that my historical researches were literal grave diggings. The deeper I dug into the archives to rob the dead of some life for myself, the more I encountered intimations of the Unknown beyond the tombs. The intimations occurred to me by means of the ghostly traces of men and women who lived centuries if not millennia ago, people who were seeking to know themselves then just as I am now.

Many of the ghosts I encountered were speaking of gods with different names, then of one ‘God’. I wanted to know what they meant. I believed I might from that meaning ascertain who they really were and if they still are. Strange as it may seem, I received a message saying “No one is dead, we are all here.”

So I am proceeding with my excavations, seeking life in the dead, as if there were a death instinct in life. It is not the leisure pastime most people are wont to engage in. I must say “terror” is often a better word for my preoccupation than “leisure.” Yet my work does have its ecstasies, its exalted periods. It has its cataleptic, its catatonic periods, and its virtual rigor mortis.

Although my preoccupation may seem morbid to some, am I any more morbid than an aardvark digging his burrow to live and to perhaps die in? Who knows what an aardvark is thinking during the burrowing process, or what termites taste like to him? If I am morbid, I am nevertheless immensely entertained by the process, and that process is Life, is it not?

I bring my crude personal introduction to the word ‘God’ to a rapid conclusion here so that I may get back to an excavated site where I found the ghost of one of the most influential heretics that ever lived. He is a profound pessimist who constantly speaks of the God of Love. When I return, I might relate what I learned from him, just in case anyone is listening.

# #

David Arthur Walters

Honolulu 1999

The Wonderful Honor System for Parolees

PAROLE OFFICE IMAGE
Kansas City Parole office where parole officer fired gun
and threatened to commit suicide 2012

THE HONOR SYSTEM FOR PAROLEES BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

I have lately encountered many parolees chatting in the back of the city bus that goes up and down Kansas City’s Main Street. I was listening in on a lively discussion just yesterday, and heard a convict say that he did not like the “honor system” very much, that serving ones time out in prison was better than living in the half-way house.

Another con said that was nonsense, because if a man serves his whole time and has no place to go when he gets out, he is dumped on the street in the cold with nothing but a few bucks, and when that is gone, he has no choice but to steal, maybe mug some old man or woman walking out of the convenience store, or hold up the store itself. But if he is in the honor system, he has a place to stay, and some help with finding work.

“That’s right,” remarked another fellow, “and don’t run away, because that will get you a couple more years on your sentence.”

Although I have never served time, I could not help but join in the discussion. I said I was running into many parolees downtown, and wondered why there were so many.

A parolee declared that the prison business and the honor system business are very profitable businesses. He said lots of legitimate companies feed off crime. The state has twenty-some prisons, he figured, and in this state you can get thrown into prison for almost anything.

Lots of people are sent up for some minor first offense, he declared, and said he drew a four-year sentence after his estranged wife called him and told him to come get his property out of the house. After he did just that, he claimed he was arrested for violating the restraining order prohibiting him from coming within so many feet of her. Apparently a neighbor had called the police. She testified for him at the trial. It was his first offense, but he mouthed off to the judge, so he was sent up. What upset him the most was the loss of his $50,000 job as a computer programmer; the company will not take him back. At least that was his story.

“Well, what are some of the rules for parole?” I asked him.

“First of all, you can’t leave the state.”

“Even worse,” chimed in another man, “you can’t drink or do no drugs.”

“What? Not even a beer?” I asked.

“There’s a way to work it, a way to have a drink once in awhile, but better not do drugs,” a heavily tattooed man chimed in. “The tests vary to pick up different kinds of drugs. If you have been smoking or otherwise using nicotine, you have to take cessation classes.”

“You’re kidding!” I said.

“No, that’s the God’s truth, but smoking cigarettes can be worked into the schedule.”

“Is there any help getting jobs?”

“Yeah.”

“Housing?”

“There are half-way houses at first, then housing assistance if you qualify.”

“Good grief!” I exclaimed. “I think I qualify for parole. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do any drugs except caffeine, can’t seem to get out of the state, and I could use some shelter and work. Where do I apply?”

“You have to commit a crime first, get busted, serve some time, and then you get the benefits.”

“Aw Shucks!”

 

David Arthur Walters

Kansas City 2004