The scene outside the Alabama Judicial Building on August 27, 2003, as the two and one-half ton Ten Commandments shrine inside was moved to a back room pursuant to federal and state judicial decrees, was certainly moving, and any witness to it, no matter how calloused, could not help feeling some sympathy for the protestors.
Judge Roy Moore, without approval of the state authorities, had, in the middle of one night in 2001 of the Common Era, secretly inserted his mammoth shrine into the courthouse rotunda, and now the obtrusion had been almost miraculously whisked away on a hydraulic machine. Profound was the rage and grief of those who bore witness. One outraged man bawled through his cupped hands that the government was not going to take his Ten Commandments away from him; a woman sobbed and moaned hysterically as if she had just lost her best friend; several prayed silently on their knees; others laid on their bellies as flat as matzas and mumbled their prayers with lips touching the concrete pavement.
It was a sorrowful sight indeed. Your Humble Author is not a Christian but he respects Christians and he sympathizes too much with almost anyone who displays emotion. Surely something can be done to stop the flow of tears, to assuage the concerns of the children of god. Why not give each child a virtually indestructible wallet-sized replica of the Ten Commandments? That would be in keeping with the intention of the ancient prescription to post the commandments that they may be known to all. And the torah says they should be discussed every day too.
As for the courthouse display, it was definitely an intrusion of Chief Justice Moore’s ego which by constant public practice he had managed to elevate over his almighty superego. The shrine was attractive enough, but it seemed to push one religion over others. Perhaps it would not have been obscene if it had been placed around the rotunda with other religious legal accouterments, such as one of Asoka’s pillars inscribed with the Four Noble Truths – the pillar could be set on a granite elephant pedestal and have a golden Buddha sitting on its capital; a block from the Wailing Wall inscribed with the Shield of David – Moses’ Two Tablets could be hidden in an ark on top; a Koran in a glass case – a page to be turned each day; for the Vaisnava’s, a lingam inserted in a yoni – the lingam might glow in the dark; a mural of Yin and Yang generating Five Elements would be nice; a replica of the tablets found by the Mormon seekers would do; an abstract painting alluding to Nothing would suffice; – perhaps the Bill of Rights; – but enough of this, we get the picture, and we do not mean to slight anyone or leave them out, including good witches and religious atheists.
I respect Christians, and I therefore find occasion to show some respect for them here. We know who fought for religious freedom in the United States and built a wall between religious cults and secular state – Christians. Why? Because they were selfish and altruistic at the same time. Christians wanted their own cults and consciences, thank you very much, and they were reasonable enough in their spiritual foolishness to see that if each were to have their own, all must be secure from political interference as long as all abided by the same laws as every other corporation.
Take Roger Williams, for instance, who coined the phrase, “the wall of separation”, who said that there must be a “hedge of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.” There was no more opinionated man than Roger Williams, for, according to him, only his religious views were correct; nonetheless, if one is to have his views he must allow others to have theirs. That did not sit well with the Puritans of Massachusetts. In 1635 Williams was banished to England. He fled to Rhode Island instead and founded Providence. He was true to his word: he tolerated even the Quakers whom he despised. Rhode Island at the time was the most tolerable colony if you wanted a wide variety of religious liberty.
We learned about religious tolerance in grammar school some years ago, we can see where we are going with this theme: on to Madison and Jefferson. We do not want to regress to the colonial days we revolted against, the days of politically established religions with Old Testament laws: death for blasphemy; flogging for disrespecting ministers; whipping for not attending church; banishment; and much more. No, ma’am, no, sir, never. And that intolerance is what the Ten Commandments Judge reminds us of.
Everyone can have their commandments, whatever they are, inscribed on their circumcised hearts as far as this author is concerned, or referred to in context as part of our good heritage; but shoved on us under cover of night? Never. Of course many of us thank Judge Moore for making such a big scene for the individual liberty that put his individuality above all others. We need that every once in awhile so we can get a reading of what is going on behind the scenes in those chambers where judges have their conventicles. It appears that several of Judge Moore’s colleagues in Alabama are conservative Christian judges, and they just said no to him after he tore up the law. Good. But it is not over until the fat lady sings, so we should keep our eyes on those conservative judges and test them again from time to time. People have a way of getting things done without flaunting their religion.
We were glad for our freedom when we first heard the tidings about the difference between good and evil and about our power to choose between them.
“Hear ye all who come to inquire about the truth. We praise the wise one and we thank him for providing us a with a good mind in accord with the divine law firmly written in the heavens. Now listen to this truth and meditate upon it, that each man must decide for himself what he believes and choose accordingly. In the beginning two spirits, the best and the worst in thought, words, and deeds, proclaimed themselves. From these two, those of good knowledge chose aright, and those of evil knowledge did not. The two spirits created life and death and being and nothingness when they first came together. Certainly those who cloth themselves in the divine light of truth shall have the best life, and those who do not shall have the worst.”
Of course we knew which one we would choose – certainly not the evil one. At the very least we would avoid the appearance of impropriety and observe the first rule of rhetoric, that a speaker should never speak against himself. As Pufendorf one said, “Nay, there is no man who does not speak better than he either thinks or does.” Furthermore, Quintilian stated in his Institutes of Oratory, “Nor is there anyone so wicked that he would like to appear wicked.” But someone warned us about hypocrisy lest we deceive others or ourselves into believing we are better than we really are and lead people astray. We were adjured to tell the truth, for truth is the highest good of all; to wit: X. Then everything would fall into its right place and we would live happily ever after in harmony and peace. So far so good. But alas, although we abjured evil and avoided hypocrisy we somehow got our goods mixed up and found ourselves in a gloomy place, wandering about like dazed junkies in the gray field of asphodels. Where did we go wrong? Where are the blessed isles? Everything seemed so clear when we began, but somehow our progress was impeded and now we stand as confused as a hedged-in billy goat who cannot retreat or advance. Wherefore this confounded gray area?
It all seemed so simple at first. We saw the light at the end of the tunnel and we wanted it badly, but after we set out doubt was raised and certain questions were posed, such as “That which I ask thee tell me soon, lord, Which things are best? What, according to divine law, may enhance my district? … How can those to whom thy revelation is declared lose perfect devotion? … Who is holy or wicked among those of whom I inquire?”
Apparently the wise lord empowered us to answer these questions ourselves in order to save the world and perhaps the cosmos, so we gathered to discuss the issues and we were soon engaged in heated arguments. Perhaps we fell in with the wrong crowd, the liars and hypocrites. We would say demons, but nowadays daemons are all bad, and we do not like to demonize our colleagues. Nor do we have to. We understand that supernatural demons are to blame for our angry sessions.
“The assembled demons could not rightly choose between the two spirits, for as they were debating the Liar approached them and the demons rushed into wrath, polluting the spiritual life of mortal men.”
If the heretical truth were told about the two spirits, we might hold ourselves personally responsible for our plight and say that the two are fraternal twins fathered by mankind, and, that wherever one may be found, the other is bound to be. May heaven forbid it, for a lot of good that would do us with so many shady characters to contend with.
Forsooth we have found ourselves where heaven and hell meet, in the gray area. We feel that something is wrong as our indecisive friends (or are they foes?) pull down the shade on truth and justify their moral turpitude with turbid talk about the principles of chiaroscuro. To make matters murkier, the moment any one of us objects, he is called a hypocrite (we would say ‘she’, but we keep her pure, hoping she will save us from this depressing intercourse). Ironically, even those who insist that there is no such thing as either/or and who claim that anyone with an intolerance for ambiguity is a neurotic and a potential fanatic – they too feel there is something gravely wrong with our gray matter. If it were not for the asphodels, the absinthe, the music, the poetry, the prime numbers, and the injunction against beans, the tension would be unbearable.
I have paraphrased excerpts from Zarathustra’s Gathas.
German philosopher, religious thinker, and political radical, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, was accused of atheism. After being appointed professor of philosophy at Jena in 1794, he had begun a series of public lectures on Sundays, from ten to eleven o’clock, much to the consternation of the clerics. A local journal declaimed on Fichte’s revolutionary politics, accusing him of subversively substituting the worship of Reason for the worship of God.
That was a very serious charge in view of the situation over in Paris, where images of the savior and saints had been pulled down in churches renamed “Temples of Truth” and replaced with effigies of Reason and Liberty and paintings of natural objects such as flowers. Atheism was in vogue there to the extent that, if a priest bothered to even mention god in church, people openly guffawed.
Fichte, however, had no such mummery or cynicism in mind, although he was enthusiastic about some of the French Revolution’s basic principles, and he had written such tracts as “Reclamation of the Freedom of Thought from the Princes of Europe and Contributions Designed to Correct the Judgement of the Public on the French Revolution.”
The formal charge brought against Fichte, for worshiping Reason on Sunday, was resolved in his favor by the university senate of the Weimar government, with the proviso that any future lectures be given at three o’clock on Sunday afternoons instead of in the mornings. No such compromise was available however, in the matter of Atheismusstreit, the great Atheism Controversy which arose out of the publication of his 1798 essay on divine governance, “On the Basis of Our Belief in the Divine Governance of the World.”
The grand duke of Weimar had a liberal respect for scholarship, yet he wanted the whole thing hushed up; nevertheless, Fichte insisted on raising a vigorous public response to the anonymous charges against him, because, he said, the matter at hand was a vital public issue concerning the most fundamental of all freedoms. After all, a public airing of both sides of the atheism controversy would expose the stupidity of the authoritarian morons. Fichte had promised that he would resign if censured by the governing authority. As it were, he was mildly rebuked, but his offer to resign was accepted and he was dismissed from his university post. His dismissal was followed by anonymous public attacks on his character. The political authorities of various regions in Germany were embarrassed by the scandal, and they, in turn, ordered the journal publishing Fichte’s purportedly atheistic views confiscated, and they forbade students from their precincts to enroll at the university in Weimar.
What did Fichte say that outraged the anonymous religious authorities? In fine, he averred that god is the “World Moral Order.” That sufficed to outrage the theists.
Fichte thought that a person truly believes in god if he does his duty “gaily and without concern,” without fear or doubts about the consequences. A true believer is not afraid of the hateful hypocrites who go about casting anonymous aspersions on someone else’s version of faith.
As for the atheist, Fichte claimed that “the true atheist… raises his own counsel above god and thus raises himself to god’s position” by concerning himself with the consequences of doing his duty. The real atheist is a religious hypocrite who is concerned with what he can get out of his religion, the selfish person who does his duty concerned only with what is in it for him. As far as Fichte was concerned, doing one’s duty is imperative and not categorical, for duties by definition must be done regardless of the consequences. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about moral imperatives; for instance, the imperative not to lie: “You must not lie,” Fichte said, “even if the world were to go to pieces as a consequence.” So one should be willing to sign his own name to his beliefs and suffer the consequences therefor.
It may appear to the reader that, if the same good works are done, then the practical effects of selfish atheism and dutiful theism are the same, leaving the question of a person’s faith in god, which is really nobody else’s business. As long as the outward observances are dutifully observed, whether or not someone believes in god or not is between her and god. As for lying, the biggest lie of all is told by those who profess the existence of god but do not really believe god exists. If only people would start telling the truth about god, nation, party, family, and person, we would embrace our common humanity, in which pessimists believe a world war might break out.
Do not worry, advised Fichte, the truth will not cause the world go to pieces. If the truth is good for anything at all, surely it will keep the world intact. “The plan of its preservation could not possibly be based on a lie,” quoth he. Obviously, if god does exist, god is not a liar. Wherefore for Fichte, the moral world order that is god does not have to be proved; rather, it is the objective ground or presumed hypostasis necessary for certitude.
Fichte was not an atheist at all in the learned opinion of many great theologians who happened to be influenced by him. He was, one might say, an ethical pantheist who believed that god’s moral order or logos was present in every individual and available to each conscientious individual. That perspective naturally led bigoted dogmatists to charge Fichte with the mortal sin of deism, for intolerant bigots insist that deists are atheists. Deism affirms the existence of god and of rewards and punishments after death, and posits that each person aided by reason can discover the few simple truths of religion. Since god gives all normal humans reason, god’s doctrines are no secret; there are no specially anointed authorities who alone are able to understand and interpret god’s word. Conscience is a private matter. The deity winds up the universe like a clock and leaves us to do our duty or not. Finally, as to the form of worship, the deist worships god with good works. Deism, incidentally, was not unique to Europe; several founding fathers of the United States of America were democratically oriented deists.
The professors of stupidity charged Fichte with “making himself God” because of his reliance on reasoning rather than their irrational objective dogma. Fichte’s moral world order, however, was not the mundane mores of the mob or crowd, but was the real moral order of a supersensible realm where duty is not done for pleasure’s sake but for its own sake. His concept of Absolute Transcendental Idealism and the Absolute Ego or “I” smacked of heresy to bigots who wanted some godly object to idolize, a god of self-hate projected somewhere out there opposed to man and nature.
An object-god, say an imagined father-god who is out there somewhere, say in an imagined heaven, and who is opposed to man and to nature, is more of devil than a god. And it is for that reason that we should also be wary of Fichte’s absolute idealism, his apparent divorce of the subject (god and man) from the object (world and society). Furthermore, his idealistic con-fusion of god and man on the subjective side is dangerous, for an idealist who thinks his personal ideals are the one and only reality may dutifully be as intolerant as the religious bigot.
Indeed, an examination elsewhere of Fichte’s patriotic German utopia reveals a totalitarian dystopia. If he had known what we now know about the consequences of that line of thinking in World War instead of World Moral Order, he would not have been so enthusiastic about his German nationalism.
On the other hand, the wild, anarchistic hand as opposed to the totalitarian, heavy hand, we might admire Fichte for his assertion of the freedom of the will, the absolute freedom of thought and expression associated with the subjective nature of individualism.
In any event, Fichte was viciously and anonymously slandered by the professors of faith for expressing his conscience. The cowardice of the professors in remaining anonymous indicts their religion of ignorance, fear and hate. A profoundly faithful person rests secure in her faith; she is not pressed to prove the existence of her god; she certainly feels no need to make anonymous personal attacks on others. Naturally those who are insecure in forced faith fear that someone else’s reasoning might pull the rug called faith from beneath them, a rug laid on the shaky ground or shifting sands of their irrational fear, hence they respond anonymously unless they have a supporting mob; they answer with hate instead of love and would disallow any song except their own, desperately strident one.
College students conducting a recent study of hate-mongering cults were surprised by the loving friendliness the hate-cult members showed towards each other and towards new recruits. They love not the god of neighborly love piety raves about, for they condemn all to hell who do not agree with them. Surely this is not the worship of the god of love so many man-hating magpies chatter about in their assemblies, in churches, in neo-fascist meeting-places, but is rather the worship of hate itself. It is in effect hate-others-based group-love, a love based on fear.
Whether or not we like Fichte’s philosophy, the Great Atheism Controversy he was involved in, even though the atheism issue has grown increasingly moot since then, raises questions pertinent to our own time.
For instance, why would someone hide their name when expressing an opinion on an abstract subject unless they are terribly ashamed of their own existence expressed in words? Why are they so ashamed of themselves? Why do so many people hide behind false identities simply to insult people? And why do so many “religious people,” anonymously or not, resort to slander and libel, just as their forbears did about Fichte’s private life and sexual philosophy? Why, indeed, does their real god seem to be Satan, slander personified?
Much has already been said about the long history of crimes against humanity perpetuated by the noble aristocrats sometimes referred to as ‘Aryans’. Still the nobles or “knowns” refuse to be convicted: they offer in their own defense the argument that the depredations of the barbaric oppression of mankind is of relatively recent origin.
In the Good Old Days, they say, the good old gods fought dark clouds, not dark people. Yes, they battled with primitive viciousness, not skin color. We are informed that ‘varna’ (caste) simply means distinction, not merely the distinctive colors, and that the original sources or authors did not discriminate in favor of any particular distinction of color, facial characteristic, and such, but merely explained, objectively, real differences by means of creation myths. We are rather amazed by the lack of prejudice in those Good Old Days even in comparison to our own, and in comparison to other parts of the primitive worlds where mother and child were eradicated if the newborn had some alien distinction.
Never mind that. In the Good Old Days, many races were Aryan, for the Aryan company was an equal opportunity employer. ‘Aryan’, we are informed, means ethically upright; it denotes the virtuous nobility, namely people known for their goodness, not for their slaughter of anyone who gets in the way. The term ‘Aryan’ may appertain to a language group, but it has nothing to do with race. Therefore the classical aristocratic conclusion follows any proposition that their conduct be regulated by civilized authority: oppressed peoples and races do not need better conditions or laws, they need better morals, they need family values, and so on.
As for the generally oppressed class, women, they were relatively free and certainly beloved in the Good Old Days. They had prolonged cataclysmic climaxes. Noble women, at least, had the benefit of leisure for education; they inherited property; they fought valiantly in battle with bows and arrows and they drove war chariots–one remarkable lady was provided with an iron leg after one of hers was severed in combat. Some women were even generals. Moreover, according to the ancient texts as interpreted, women were seers, poets, and priests; they chose their own husbands on the basis of love rather than wealth; and so forth.
The great black goddess Kali, wherever she appeared, was literally smeared with the bloody guilt projections of her aristocratic enemies. Although cosmic Kali shall not lose the war, she has lost many battles. For instance, her adherents were impressed by the Aryans into a caste (varna: color, distinction) that served to preserve the racial purity of the upper classes: “One occupation only the Lord prescribed for the Sudra, to meekly serve the other three castes.” (Code of Many) And, outcasts on the fringes, who had not been incorporated into the four castes yet, were the ‘Untouchables’ occupied with such duties as dung handling. Of course, the Aryan apologists proclaim their ancient respect for dung handling, noting their deep appreciation for its several virtues. For instance, they practiced scatomancy, or divination by dung: the smoke of dried dung as well as the steam from fresh dung was used to predict the weather; dung-smoke was also used to fumigate sacred precincts. But there is a dark side to scatology, as disgusting as it might seem, usually reserved to the lower classes: liquid fertilizer for the soul, the liquid strained from dung, was used as a sacred medicinal beverage; the eating of a yogi’s dung was particularly auspicious for his disciples; Krishna employed a mountain of dung called Govardhana, or Cow Prosperity, to shield people from from Indra’s wrath–Indra was angry because Krishna told them to worship the dung heaven instead of Indra.
The Good Old Days were not as golden as the Aryan apologists make them out to be as they pore over their Vedas. They have taken, for their own sake, the cosmic order out of order. The Golden Age does not precede the Dark Age; quite to the contrary: Kali Yuga precedes the Golden Age, which winds down again to another Kali Yuga. It appears to us that, following the horrible mistakes and misdeeds of the Aryan forefathers, in a count down from four legs of Truth to one (kali) leg, Divine Mother’s cyclical avenging aspect is now in effect. This is the Kali Yuga, or Black Age of manifold horrors, an age of holocausts and world wars, of ruthless competition and organized greed, culminating eventually in the virtual annihilation of the human race as we know it.
The alleged Good Old Days were actually days of Kali Yuga, thereafter continued unto our own day. Just as the lords of our fatherlands and the capitalists of our companies gamble with our lives and fortunes, so did the ancient Aryan gods play their awesome dice game for their domains, losing and winning entire kingdoms in the process, along with their friends, relatives, and their own personal freedoms. The unlucky die for the losers of the dice game was the ace in those days: the dead ‘one’, or ‘kali’, a black dot, or, depending on how the game was played, the unfortunate one left after the booty was evenly divided–the odd man out, or woman.
Alas for the hapless social person degraded to the status of a naked individual stripped of predicates; in our times, a mere statistical unit. A unit standing alone without companions in time and space is really a physical impossibility, for identity always requires relation. Personality needs a variety of relations. Personal relations during Kali Yuga are horrible, they are dissolving; therefore ‘kala’ (death) is sure to follow, A man during this age is as good as dead, reclining on the ground–in contemporary terms: a couch potato watching TV, a nerd surfacing the Internet, a corporate employees shuffling through his work like a zombie, a worm-like producer-consumer who does not know who he is, and so on.
Therefore the ‘Brahmanas’ say of the outcast ace, the unlucky die of the dice game, “Kali he becometh who lieth.” Yet all is not completely lost, for Kali has a positive face for the winner: Kali is the origin of time as well as its devourer, a mass compacted to an undifferentiated point ready to be manifested. So the Kali Yuga man, compacted by dissolving relations of the countdown of ages from four to one, can do his best to preserve his integrity during Kali Yuga by trying to reverse the cosmic order, which is a declining order. He is urged to arise on the count of two, stand on three, and get going on four, for “Evil is he who stayeth among men. Indra is the comrade of the wanderer.” In other words, “The fortune of him who sitteth also sitteth; but that of him who standeth standeth erect; that of him who reclineth lieth down; the fortune of him that moveth shall move indeed.”
Yes, perhaps conditions elsewhere might favor the person, or his chances might improve along the way, or even where he presently resides, if he can only get going. By way of example, consider the Roms, whose origin is India, often called “gypsies” because they convinced Europeans they had escaped the persecution of Christians in Egypt. They know that travel heals, and, if they are unable to travel when ill, they might sit in their parked cars for symptomatic relief. As it is today in Kali Yuga, so was it when the ‘Brahmanas’ were written: “All his sins disappear, slain by the toil of his journeying.”
Nonetheless, as much as we might accomplish in our attempt to reverse the cosmic order, it shall, in the end, prevail. For instance, where did 400,000 descendants of the true Aryan travelers, the Roms, wind up in our Kali Yuga, in our Iron Age? In Hitler’s ovens. Today only the vestiges of the wanderers’ culture survives the monstrous mechanical roller we call civilization.
Such collective misfortunes can cause an individual to curse the day he was born, to yearn for the womb, to worship death, to call upon his Divine Mother, Kali, the Black One, for eternal Peace.
We live in the Kali Yuga or Dark Age where Truth has only one leg to stand on. Such has been mankind’s fate for thousands of years and, according to bona fide spiritual masters, it will not end anytime soon in man-year terms. The classic conservative complaints voiced many centuries ago in India sound awfully familiar to our post-modern ears. Many of them were voiced during the Forest Exile as recorded in the MAHABHARATA.
Unfortunately, during our era of the Kali Yuga, we do not have the advantage of the forest as a viable alternative, especially now that the Central Park Service plans to prohibit hiking to save the endangered mosquito. Nevertheless, setting our own era aside for a moment, we shall paraphrase the ancient complaints.
First of all, since ladies come first in matters of courtesy if not in fact, it seems that wives no longer considered their husband to be gods, which is hardly surprising given the deplorable behavior of most husbands at the time. Indeed, women felt a definite aversion towards their husbands, whom they preferred to choose for themselves. Wives refused to obey their husbands’ commands, and verbally abused them with sharp tongues. The best of husbands were abandoned for the worst of men, even for menial servants. It appears that relations back then were based soley on sexual passion–oral sex was reportedly a favorite pastime, sex with juveniles was commonplace, and even bestiality was engaged in. Hordes of juvenile delinquents were therefore produced as a matter of promiscuous course.
Incidentally, Kali Yuga women resorted to sulking and weeping to get their way–how can men resist when severe sulking might result in the loss of wives by suicide? More generally speaking, it appears that women were addicted to lying to achieve their deviant ends. But perjury was not limited to the fair sex, nor were the dominant men to be outdone in any immoral domain. Patriarchs were addicted to lying and to illicit sex as well.
Furthermore, litigants were addicted to perjurY; perjury is most likely to succeed in Kali Yuga, so how can we moderns blame the old liars for the habit? Tax evasion ran rampant then; of course, taxes were exorbitant, so liars justified lying. Moreover, educators hid the truth under elaborate fabrications in order to maintain their false qualifications, citing ‘reason’ as their authority; nobody listened to them anyway, except to get a set of spurious credentials themselves.
In sum, Kali Yuga is an age where the right hand deceives the left and the left hand mirrors the right accordingly.
Now then, that might badly be, as vulgarity usually is, but what of the highest class of men, the holy men whose code of ethical conduct requires them to renounce ignorance and forswear addictive substances both physical and metaphysical? Well, they were too busy making a living to comply with the professed standards of their ilk, too busy pursuing wealth for themselves and their cults to attend to their essential duties. They had abandoned Truth, and Wisdom fled from them. They even neglected the required sacrifices to the Highest Good. They turned their universities of liberty into business schools. They served the most contemptible of interests under the badge of religious authority. In fact, the holy men began to serve their former servants and even to call them ‘sir’ (Arya)! Due to the degradation of the priestly class, religion become a synonym for hypocrisy.
Even worse, the lower classes were corrupted by bad example; for example, “Renouncing the gods (during Kali Yuga), men will worship bones and other relics deposited within walls.” And those dead things were replaced by other dead things such as ivory and gold. Yes, thing-worship, rather than worshipping the god represented by the thing, was the order of the day. Such a practice suits the Kali Yuga economics of unrestrained, unfair free trade. It embraces the all-consuming competition, the deceptive trade practices, the big-fish-eat-little-fish operations in the Sea of Terrors.
From the chaos of fear and greed, from growing animosity and mutual contempt, arises the organized greed of monopolies and other ghoulish corporations administered by zombies gorging themselves on the living dead. These outfits are horrible domains of violated and broken trusts, of rapaciousness responsible for the “destruction of gardens”, domains of cowardice, ignorance, unwitting slavery, and general viciousness led by gangs of Thugs.
Furthermore, according to our revered sources, in Kali Yuga people who thrive on bribery live long lives, having the best of care while honest people suffer and die for want of it. Even Soma, the nectar of the immortal Aryan gods, cannot relieve the silent suffering and quiet desperation of the dehumanized zombies. Of course, informed ‘Aryans’ insist that Soma was non-alcoholic in the good old days; however, Kali Yuga is an age of addiction to intoxicating substances. we suspect that, whatever Soma was, it better not show up today in a locker or urinalysis.
What we have thus far observed, the foregoing being merely paraphrases of the ancient texts, are symptoms of a general dissolution of society wherein moral authority is practically non-existent. Note well that friends and relatives are abused and neglected; the population is constantly shifting due to immigration and internal immobility; homelessness is widespread. Yet there is a global order to the dissolution, there is “one common order without distinctions.” Today we refer to Globalism.
Since the Kali Yuga still endures, the ancient texts serve as an indictment of our own deplorable state of bare existence devoid of spiritual inspiration. Many people are benumbed in the same bewitching Sea of Terrors. Most do their best to “adapt” and “adjust” to the “inevitable,” while the big shots throw the dice, just as their ancient Aryan precursors threw the dice, betting their kingdoms, relatives, and friends on the outcome. The small-fry gambling addicts are thrilled too, but the stakes must mount if they are to get a good fix.
A few men in positions of power, although they may not gamble much themselves, rather enjoy the view of the grand casino from their advantaged perches in the wings. For instance, on April 13, 2000, United States Senator Phil Gramm, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, testified rhapsodically that, as he strolled by Wall Street one day, he was awestruck by the sudden revelation that Wall Street is a “holy place.” He said Wall Street evoked in him a feeling of great reverence for the political-economic leadership of the United States. So let us bow our heads in humble adoration of our Great Nation as it rushes the New Economy into the New World Order, into, namely, Paradise. Indeed! Gamblers are certainly addicted to the constantly accelerating change of Kali Yuga: “change passeth over all things, and even over those who live through many yugas must change also,” declares the MAHABHARATA. Undoubtedly the good Republican senator from Texas sincerely adores the Wall Street casino where conservatives would invest the social security of their less fortunate constituents.
The Wall Street casino is a colossal amusement park with a debit-credit teeter-totter for everyone, not to mention that exhilarating roller-coaster rides. In this monstrous gambling hall everything swings grandly about the great central free-market deity who classically controls destiny with His Invisible Hand. There should be only a bare minimum of human regulation, just enough to maintain the ritual worship of the Lord’s majestic Invisible Dice-Hand, for anything more would result in “moral hazard”, the financial immorality caused by bad boys who think Big Daddy will bail them out of their losing positions.
Thus do we hysterically sail the economic Sea of Terrors. The Invisible Hand of the captains belongs to their Patriarch, the god of Chance. Unrestrained, all boats seem to rise with the mounting praise of the mammoth deity; each navigator has lost his true compass, however, and has gone stark raving mad on the ocean of false enthusiasm. Sooner or later the market bursts; the poor sailor realizes his boat is a capsized illusion as he drowns in a worthless sea of digits–the captain was the first to abandon ship. Only the house of mirrors remains standing for a while longer, yet it too is sailing into oblivion. When things are going well, the high priests will take full credit; but when fortunes fall precipitously, a fateful woman must blamed. Hail Kali!
Instead of wanting to invest the public fortune, our social security, in a ship destined to sink along with its most precious cargo, we might be better off placing our bets on Kali, Divine Mother of gods and heroes. For the paradise promised by the secular authorities is another version of Hell on Earth not only to professional pessimists, but to the masses who in quiet desperation constantly suffer under the yoke of Kali Yuga.
When you art gone forth wholly from the creature [human], and have become nothing to all that is nature and creature, then you are in that eternal one, which is God himself, and then you will perceive and feel the highest virtue of love. Also, that I said whoever findes it finds nothing and all things; that is also true, for he finds a supernatural, supersensual Abyss, having no ground, where there is no place to live in; and he finds also nothing that is like it, and therefore it may be compared to nothing, for it is deeper than anything, and is as nothing to all things, for it is not comprehensible; and because it is nothing, it is free from all things, and it is that only Good, which a man cannot express or utter what it is. But that I lastly said, he that finds it, finds all things, is also true; it has been the beginning of all things, and it rules all things. If you find it, you come into that ground from whence all things proceed, and wherein they subsist, and you are in it a king over all the works of God.
Böhme, Jakob, The Way to Christ 1623.
The Groundhog issue is too important to be held hostage to semantics. For instance, Nietzsche put forth that our realities are linguistic creations; that is, we reify through language. Appearances that we appropriate through naming eventually become essences and things. T. Beckman (1995) wrote:
“Nietzsche supposes that there is not much difference between realists and idealists, objectivists and subjectivists, except for linguistic habit. At bottom, all of these stem from origins in our passions, fantasies, and interests.”
Now that’s a sharp slap in the face of our rational underpinnings, or at least what we’ve psychologized of our rational underpinnings. Additionally, if we are to consider anything of Nietzsche’s meditations on the nature of what we call reality, time notwithstanding, then we must also wrap our minds around his denial that we have any organ with which to fix reality and thus are indefinitely subject to untruth. Argh! Furthermore, Beckman writes:
“To the Apollonian [sic] scientist this is unbearable; hence, art is what makes our situation bearable because art, being playful with appearance, gets around its untruth. This is probably the most important aphorism of [Nietzsche’s] Book II and it concludes everything that he has been developing about art.”
Is it not possible that McTaggart, in The Unreality of Time, simply was not being artful, that is, playful enough when asserting his logical contradiction between past, present, and future, and therefore could not escape the tar pit of his own untruths? Is not that the definition of a dunderhead?
And then there is Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence of the Same, which I fear we will not be able to circumvent in our Groundhog musings, so I expect to hear more from you on Nietzsche’s taste for Reality, if that is what it is.
Your Madame Melina
August 15, 2004
Ah, Madame Melina, Time is such a waste of time that I never thought you would ask for another helping, Thank you! Here we go with Nietzsche again.
Nietzsche, despite the disease, rejection and grinding poverty that he suffered over the years, at least verbally accepted nature as it is, and believed that any superior person would embrace life, no matter how good or evil the world appears to one who loves or hates their nature as the source of pleasure and pain.
Even if a miserable life had to be endlessly repeated, Nietzsche would embrace it. And that is at the bottom of his version of the ancient doctrine of eternal recurrence.
He must have known very well that, at least mathematically, the proposition that the cosmos endlessly repeats itself is virtually impossible if not absurd; for, the more complex the universe, the less chance there is of such a repetition, and the universe is almost infinitely complex. Nietzsche’s interest in the doctrine of eternal recurrence was moral. His doctrine was a heuristic or self-teaching device, and was not intended to be a theory of physics. He raised a hypothetical question: If a demon came down and demonstrated to you that, beyond a reasonable doubt, your life as well as everyone else’s would be repeated endlessly, would you rejoice? Or would you despair?
Those who love life would perhaps react joyously and be willing to repeat the cycle time and time again, good and bad; they would stick it out, through thick or thin, for better or worse.
On the other hand, those who deny life would despair. They would probably, in their denial, have resort to the ascetic morality which negates life, the morality that says, “Nothing is good enough, therefore we must have progress, not a cycle, we must be saved from this life, we must have either eternal death of the self, when the body perishes, or we must have an immortal soul that progresses to paradise and eternally perseveres there, providing, of course, that we have blind faith in the god of paradise who booted us from the original paradise because we sinned, and, accordingly deny ourselves in this world, which is ruled by the anti-god,” et cetera.
In the desire for eternal life, or permanent death in contrast to the temporal dynamic life, Nietzsche refers to the religion he despises most of all, Christianity, for which life does not endlessly repeat itself but flies off the earth in a tangent, so to speak, a life that progresses.
For Nietzsche, Christianity is a religion for losers, a pathetic religion, a religion of pity. Pity for him is a disease, and he would have none of it. He wanted to survive in this world, not the next.
The “truths” of Christianity, especially those derived from Plato’s Apollonian idolatry of eternal ideals, which Plato idolizes as real, and the craving for permanent supreme being, which Platonic philosophy identifies with Reality, in fact negate or destroy the actual truth, that of truly sacred life, the real, the dynamic, Dionysian life.
“Plato is boring,” pronounced Nietzsche in The Antichrist. “In reality my distrust of Plato is fundamental. I find him so very much astray from all the deepest instincts of the Hellenes, so steeped in moral prejudices, so pre-existently Christian—the concept ‘good’ is already the highest value with him—that rather than use any other expression I would prefer to designate the whole phenomenon Plato with the hard word, ‘superior bunkum,’ or, if you would like it better, ‘idealism.’
“Christianity has sided with everything weak, low and botched; it has made an ideal out of antagonism towards all the self-preservation instincts of strong of strong life: it has corrupted even the reason of the strongest intellects, by teaching that the highest values of intellectuality are sinful, misleading and full of temptation. The most lamentable example of this was the corruption of Pascal, who believed in the perversion of his reason through original sin, whereas it had only been perverted by Christianity.”
Nietzsche naturally contemned Kant’s moral philosophy, which did not depend on proof of god’s existence but on automatic duty to his Kant’s version of Christianity’s Golden Rule:
“What is there that destroys a man more speedily than to work, to think, feel as an automaton of ‘duty,’ without internal promptings, without a profound personal predilection, without joy? This is the recipe par excellence of decadence and even of idiocy…. Kant became an idiot.”
Nietzsche’s fictional Zarathustra is the epitome of opposition to Christianity, the counter-ideal to the ascetic ideal which amounts to denial of life and a demand for another, imaginary life, which is, for Nietzsche, really nothing, eternal nothingness or death, not temporal life, which is everything. His Superman transcends the ascetic ideal of denial. If life is hellish repetition, he will accept it. Yet he believes there can be a higher life, in this world, not in the next. The superior person reaches higher, but he does not at the same time dehumanize or condemn as sin his origin, the very ground he stands on. He does not destroy the old but presses himself into new forms, new values. His life, then, is an art.
In his 1848 lecture on Wagner, Nietzsche scribbled, “I believed that the world was created from the aesthetic standpoint, as a play, and that as a moral phenomenon it was a deception: on that account I came to the conclusion that the world was only to be justified as an aesthetic phenomenon.”
Havelock Ellis (Dance of Life), during the course of his sympathetic discourse on Gaultier’s philosophy of illusionism, Bovarysm, a philosophy Gaultier derived from a study of Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, opined, “Our picture of the world, for good or evil, is an idealized picture, a fiction, a waking dream…. But when we idealize the world we begin by first idealizing ourselves.”
Gustave Flaubert, frustrated Romantic yet acclaimed pioneer of modern French realism in literature, personally felt that reality was “shit,” a disgusting thing he put in his mouth to fashion fiction. His family was well endowed, which allowed him to avoid the detested office work which his legal training might have lead, and to withdraw to his family cottage at Rouen and write novels. He was the literary idol of the art for art’s sake school of thought. Whatever art was, it was a way to avoid reality if one could get away with it. It could be easily justified by reversion to the ancient ascetic view that the real world is really an illusion. But this sort of artist would not be an either/or monk in a cell, but would live an aesthetic life in his studio. The aesthetic life has several advantages, one being that artists and those who appreciate art can enjoy things without actually possessing them, just by looking at and not owning them. Of course a starving artist would relish a study of a ham sandwich and bowl of fruit more than a bulging-belly investor or bourgeois patron of the arts.
Would the world not be more beautiful if more people withdrew from the mad competition for the actual possession of things and enjoyed artistic representations of those things at a distance? Better yet for the greedy world if the art was abstract. Such a better world would be a great market for artists to sell their wares. Others, not so inclined to be painters as such, could instead live artfully, could they not? As for the artists, they need not mix with the crowd and try to prove some version of the ‘truth.’ No, the artist should lay aside the ideological arguments, the attempt to make the truth, and simply take up a fragment of existence and reveal its truth. If artists would only focus on their art in solitude, they would pose no danger whatsoever to society, and their creations would greatly benefit a society that could then enjoy beholding things presented or represented rather than possessing the things in themselves.
Alas, as Ice-T screamed of Ozzie and Harriet, “The world is not like that!” Creativity is revolutionary. Arts of all sorts including literary art have a reputation for fomenting rebellion, “corrupting morals” and the like. Furthermore, we admit that reality sometimes tastes like shit, but so does artifice. There is something distasteful in the view that the world is just a stage upon which hypocrites (Gk. ‘actors’) play, that life is just a Machiavellian “game” of power plays.
“What is good?” asked Nietzsche. “All that enhances the feeling of power, the Will to Power, and power itself in man. What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is increasing, that resistance has been overcome.” Wherefore Nietzsche was much admired by the militant Prussian ‘realists’ to whom Germany’s economic prosperity tasted like shit.
Finally, Madame, and I believe you will agree with me, although there is some truth in it, there is something insincere in the perspective that the world, including our perception of time, is phony.