Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thought 37: Depression as the AIDS of Mental Health


What is depression? How does it feel like?

I have successfully vanquished depressive illness (acute or clinical depression) - although depressed states do recur now and again (chronic depression) - and have some thoughts to share on the topic.


Depression, rather like the AIDS syndrome for physical health, occurs and takes hold when the mental immune system has been disturbed, perhaps because of some particularly stressful episode or event (bereavement, humiliation, social isolation, romantic break up or some other trauma), unhelpful habits of thought (perfectionism and elitism being two of them), and often comes with other states such as anxiety, low self-esteem...


An average day has its share of social interaction, things to do, commitments... When one is depressed, that is, when one's mental immune system is low, little hiccups (a bad interaction with a bus driver, a car honking) tend to knock one out and set off a train of negative thinking which in turn causes stress and a depressed state through the agency of the so-called cortisol hormone.


As many philosophers have pointed out, reality is linked to perception. Or, in the words of Qui-Gon Jinn to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode One,

"Your focus determines your reality."
When one is depressed, that is, vulnerable, the darker and more melancholy aspects of existence come to the fore, the body is flooded with stress chemicals which prevent enjoyment and activity and makes all of life much harder and interaction more threatening because of the greater possibility of being hurt and wounded.

And one need not look hard for them, even in one's own home: the News, the Rat Race, idiotic internet posturing and social media, mediocrity, stupidity, Politics, the Economy, difficult and unpleasant people, the pressure to succeed and be happy, Governments, Celebrity rubbish and so one and so forth...


Depression lowers one's mental immune system so that the negative and sad takes precedence, the more questionable aspects of existence come to the fore, what causes pain and hurt is more present in one's mind, to the point often that committing suicide can seem preferable to living and even desirable.


Once the depression lifts and one's mental and emotional immune system is up and running, then it is possible to partake in one's usual activities and occupations and not be overwhelmed by reality, mediated or not, and the triggers which can lead to a depressed state or, as in a Hinduism, a wounded chakra such as the heart and head areas. 


The best recipe I can suggest for a depressed state or a wounded chakra is to first realise that all is not well in one's body and psychology, to then deliberately summon - as hard as it may be - happy, comforting and soothing memories, thoughts and images - the so-called Patronus charm in Harry Potter, to at the same time banish all stressors including stressful thoughts and rumination and activities (including internet-ing) and to sit the depressed state out with a minimum disruption to one's ordinary functioning, in the certainty that the depression and vulnerable state will lift in time following these steps. Sleep also helps in my experience.


Addendum - A recipe I use with some success for chronic depression is what I call positive-bingeing. Positive-bingeing is literally sustaining happy thoughts, memories, angles in one's mind during one's waking life, so that, for example, even the most painful or unpleasant memories are reinterpreted in a happy light, repeating mantras in one's head such as "everything is beautiful", "I love life", summoning the most confidence, security securing, resilient images, words, memories regardless of external context - in a word, mindfulness. It can really make the difference between a mediocre day and a bad day and can even make a mediocre day a good one when genuine causes for joy do eventually and necessarily occur. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Thought 36: Thinking of Death

Walter White


Watching the fourth episode of season one of Breaking Bad called Cancer Man and pondering my own ferocious addiction to tobacco smoking which is known to trigger lung cancer, among other diseases, in the long term - the main character Walter White's condition at the start of the series - the thought of death crept up on my mind.


Granted, the above is not how I envisaged death. Coughing up blood like Walter White and the prospect of hair loss as one side-effect of chemotherapy, not to mention breaking the news to my loved ones - provided I have loved ones when some terminal disease makes its presence felt - was closer to what went through my mind as I, for the fifth thousand time, contemplated confronting my smoking addiction once again.



After rolling a cigarette

and smoking it,



the following thought came to mind: the moment of death, of passing away, takes but a moment although many years, months, days, hours, minutes of pain, agony and reduced ability and increased closure from the world of human beings may precede that moment when the body gives up the ghost.


In a sense one could say that one is alive for most, indeed, all of one's life. The moment of passing away is but a moment, whether it be recorded electronically or not (the long electronic beep noise comes to mind courtesy of film and television). Death is momentary although not necessarily instantaneous. One's whole life ends at the moment of death, the whole long or, as the case may be, short haul of ageing (or dying which is in effect the same thing) ending in that still mysterious moment when... the animating principle returns to nothingness and consciousness becomes oblivion.


Thus life is the rule in so far as passing away takes but a moment and people who have indeed passed on - whose bodies (remains) become inanimate, i.e. deprived of the animating principle which the Romans called anima - are preserved in the memory of other human beings who knew them (often not personally as in the case, say, of American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman)




 or who will come to know of them because of their place in history.






Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Thought 35: Truth and The Truth


What is truth?

A matter of small importance to most human beings, most Daseins. And perhaps it's just as well.


Nonetheless, 'what is truth?' is a philosophical question the answer to which necessitates a statement as to the essence of truth, its what-ness (in Latin: its quidditas) - such as my very own

"Truth is that which makes meaning possible and is suggested by the possible meaning of a word."
(see very first post on this web log Lathoron, a philosophical dialogue.)

The above definition of truth is a philosophical definition of truth.


What is the truth? is a political-religious-dogmatic question since it points to an exclusive and excluding answer whether belonging to political rhetoric, mainstream or dissident, cloaked in scientific nomenclature or made plainly transparent, or belonging to theologically revealed dogma such as the statement

"I am the way and the truth and the life."
Some thinking should be brought to bear on the phenomenological difference between these two questions and the different worlds they open up.

In tentative conclusion, let us write:

  • truth: a philosophical concept for the few who, most of all, like to question and think.
  • the truth: a factual, religious and in any case politically sensitive concept which aims at exclusive and excluding answers pertaining to this or that matter at hand or this or that dogmatic assertion (such as Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion). 
Note 1 - On the question of truth in a political, factual sense see my post Factual Truth and the intentions behind expressions such as the truth about 9/11 or titles of politically minded books such as Philip Legrain's book Open World: The Truth About Globalisation.

Note 2 - Regarding Jesus' statement this extract from Thus Spoke Zarathustra is pertinent:

"This immodest person has for a long time now caused small people to get big heads - he who taught no small error when he said 'I - am the truth.'" (my italics)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Thought 34: A Definition of Optimism


What is optimism in the genuine, that is, in the philosophical, sense?

The blog format and my own laziness precluding a history of the term's usage, excepting a vague memory of Leibniz's philosophy, I will hazard the following statement:

Optimism is the long, hard (and at times painful) coming to realisation that the world as it is and our own being-in-that-world - including our financial, familial, social, creative situation - is optimal, all things considered, that is, taken into consideration, pondered over and scrutinised.

Someone would be an optimist when he or she feels, i.e., intuits, that his or her being-in-the-world, despite what may at first appear rationally in a cogitating sense, is in an optimal and optimum state given both his own being and the world he or she inhabits (on the topic of habitation see my post How to Become Master of the World).

To know oneself which amounts also to knowing the world since world is already at once readily disclosed and pre-given, i.e. world is disclosed wherever and whenever there is Dasein, human existence, (or, in my language, 'the world is in us who in-habit it' - see aforementioned post), is part of optimistic drive to reach the realisation that yes, all things considered, my life is optimal given both my nature which I have come to know and the spiritual world that is disclosed to me in everyday-ness which I also have come to know.

The affirmation and internalisation of Eternal Recurrence - that I want my life to recur forever in the same way - would be part of this optimistic drive.


Eternal Recurrence as the optimally optimistic conception of time's, that is, Dasein's, circular movement.

P.S. The virtuous circle of optimistic thought, as I see it, is encapsulated, in part, by the formulation in Lord of the Rings
"Where there's life, there's hope."
and, in part, by the converse, "where there's hope, there's life."

Thus, as long as there is life, there is hope, and provided one is hopeful then life is assured.

[For more on 'optimism' see later writing Psychological Effects of Ideals & Utopias]

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Thought 33: On the Laws of Knock-About Table Tennis


While on Summer Holiday in Normandy, France, staying with some friends, there was a brand new outdoor ping pong table which enabled me to observe the faces of the avid ping pong players as they won and lost points, batting the ping pong ball to and fro, each player vying for number one position.

I myself dared knock about a few balls, but stayed short of playing a match, other than with my own father who is closer to my level in the game.


Yet it dawned on me that knock-abouts are not as uncompetitive as all that. By this I mean that there is an element of reciprocity at work in friendly ping pong ball exchanges and if someone decides to smash the ball - sometimes the temptation is too strong - then the other party will no doubt hesitate much less in smashing the ball when the occasion arises on his half of the table.


The point being that friendly knock-abouts which do not have the burden and competitive angle afforded by score keeping, still have a negotiating edge, that is, ping pong knock-abouts are negotiations for who will or will not smash the ball first and introduce friction in the knock-about rallying and otherwise casual batting exchanges.


Thus war - in this case, a ping pong match - is always close by, as the friendly knocking about, which could be termed diplomatic negotiation by comparison, barely hovers over outright competition - and the winner and loser rationale that comes with score keeping - where only one may come out on top.


A fine line it is then between diplomacy and war, where diplomacy depends on a fragile sense of reciprocity which is liable to be broken the moment one party makes a weak move (in the case of ping pong, a smash-able shot) which invites the other party to humble him and seek overall lordship.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Thought 32: Composing and Interpreting

Composing

Interpreting

As a minor piano musician who creates his own pieces and improvisations, the following insight sprang to mind in discussion with my girlfriend over my latest piano recordings. 

Composing for the piano in my case follows an innate, gut instinct but also reflects my own piano style down to the bone, to use a hackneyed yet in this case literal coinage, as well as my technical capacities (as determined by my technical limitations) and my own emotional life at the moment of devising a new piece or improvisation which itself reflects my own progress not only as a musician but also as a human being. 

It dawned on me that my compositions and improvisations follow the movement of my body and my thought pattern and that playing my own work as opposed to interpreting works as laid down by ready-made compositions follows a law of its own, in so far as the memory of my pieces is far deeper implanted in my fingers so to speak than pieces I have learnt over the years. 

The reason for this is not only the fact that I practice my own music to a greater extent than learnt pieces but that there is an immediacy of connection with my own piano work which is no doubt symptomatic of my own bodily physiology as a musician-piano player. 

To look at this phenomenon from another angle, I grew up learning to play Bach's preludes and fugues. Bach shaped my understanding of the instrument but also made exploring the work of other composers rather unfamiliar and difficult, to the extent that, aged sixteen, I took up popular piano lessons so as to be able to play and sing The Beatles, which my classical training made a more difficult exercise than it would seem at first glance, Bach and Beethoven being prima facie more difficult to play and master. 

A study should be made - and no doubt such a study has been made - of how interpreting is also, to a large extent, a matter of physiology and of the physiological compatibility between interpreter and composer. After all there is Beethoven, there is Bach, there is Chopin, there is Debussy... 

Like the works of poets, thinkers and artists, these names reflect a certain sensibility and bodily constitution, a certain spirit, a certain outlook on life or, in Heideggerian terms, a certain understanding of Being (Seinsverstandnis) - which, by the way, is what distinguishes the creative from the scientific arts, in so far as in scientific work the names of the great shakers and movers are of lesser import than in the realm of poetic art-making, of ποιήσις. 

Thus in maths, the theorem is what matters, not so much the name of the mind who established the theorem; in art, it would seem that the creator's name has more import by reason of the greater influence of the creator's physiological constitution and Seinsverstandnis on the created work (ἔργον).

I have a very fast metabolism which reflects I think in my piano creations; to take an example, Nietzsche's piano works are more ponderous, slower, more majestic than mine, perhaps because his metabolism as an individual was slower and used (that is, habituated) to a different climate - namely a Mediterranean one, at least at some stages of his life journey (as opposed to the erratic and dank climate of the British isles where I am based). 

This physiological understanding of composing and interpreting could perhaps help explain why some interpreters have their pet composers, e.g. Gould and Bach, Kempff and Beethoven, Rubinstein and Chopin, Michelangeli and Debussy... Would this be a meeting not just of minds but, since minds themselves are physiologically determined, a meeting of metabolisms, of bodily approaches to the piano as a physical instrument?

It would seem that an interpreter brings his own body and fingers to his playing the work of composers which is no doubt why, in the world of classical music unlike popular music, interpretations of the great works are just as key among connoisseurs as the composed works themselves; for example, I own about five interpretations of Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, all of which are equally valid (though not equally as good) appropriations and incorporations of Bach's 48, each version adding its own dimension and ring tone to the sheet music, so to speak. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thought 31: Production, Excretion - Creation, Secretion

Production

as




excretion

Creation


as

secretion? 

Note 1 - That is to say our glands, digestive systems and bodies generally excrete and secrete and man-made technological production (τέκνη) can be interpreted organically as excretion if mankind is taken as a whole and as a giant body in communion with the earth, the sky and divinities - that is to say, mankind as a species excretes in technological production in a fashion akin to the human digestive system excreting digested foods and liquids after a passage through the body.

Ditto, but with a slight nuance, creative production can be interpreted as secretion in so far as creative drives and energy (ἐνέργεια) secrete in creative deeds and works (ἔργα), requiring so much time and labour in their pre-secretive phase, like the continual and continuous production of spermatozoids in male genitalia which are secreted in sexual climax.


Note 2 - Following the above insight we could draw a distinction between production as technological excretion and creation as poetic secretion. The distinction between technology (τέκνη) and art (ποιήσις) would then be a matter of determining whether the mode and produce of technological and poetic production is excretive or secretive in nature.


Note 3 - We could take a step further in terms of rank ordering considerations (see previous posts) and make value judgements in saying that a creative work is good when secreted and follows the mode of secretion (i.e. it is active and self-originating in the sense that male testicles produce spermatozoids) and a creative work is bad when excreted, following the mode of excretion (i.e. passive and merely expelling waste which has been digested by the body).


Note 4
- What then is the distinction between excretion and secretion? An excretion is a waste product whereas a secretion has a function. But waste also has a function, the necessary and vital elimination of unwanted elements in the body. Thus even in biological science the political import of words still wreak havoc and this political nature of language must be taken more seriously.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Thought 30: Virtuality Or...


what is extant immaterially, i.e. what does not constitute matter, such as radio waves, Wi-Fi and so on but also in the sense of what does not pertain in a material sense to the matter at hand, e.g. that The Dude from The Big Lebowski should become President of the United States of America is a virtual consideration compared to the material consideration of the funding required for a real life (i.e. not unreal, i.e. realisable in everyday reality) US Presidential campaign?

N.B. The considerations pertaining to the concepts material and virtual require a great deal more labour as well as do those pertaining to the concepts of real and unreal.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Thought 29: The Human Body...




as dying organic matter?

N.B. which here intends the same as living organic matter since life and death are not absolute oppositions in the philosophical sense but part of a united whole which is to say that life's end being death, end understood both in the sense of stopping point and finality (τέλος), living can be conceived as dying (since both concepts can cover that of aging), the moment of birth and even conception being sealed by the fate of eventual termination in the sense of the ceasing to be here, the ceasing of Da-sein which is as being-towards-death (Sein-zum-Tode) - Being and Time. 

Organic is here understood in the sense of matter which follows the organisation in, by and of organs and matter itself understood in the sense of what is extant materially as material as opposed to what is extant immaterially as virtuality, the concept virtuality requiring further careful study.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Thought 28: Pretentious Thoughts on Pretentiousness


What is pretentiousness? How does it compare with pretension?

Much thinking, or, more precisely, theory, is pretentious and I could perhaps include this writing in this bracket. What is it that makes writing, speaking, creating, pretentious as such? What warrants something to be described as pretentious?

A pretension is making a claim to something which one may not normally, that is, in a normative and normalising sense, lay a claim to. For example, so and so has the pretension to be a classical pianist, that is, he makes a claim to being a classical pianist, which claim, and this is implicit in the word pretension, does not bear scrutiny or deeper analysis, perhaps, say, because he does not actually make his living by playing classical piano. 

Something or someone is pretentious when it or he makes a pretension, that is, pretends, to be better or more sophisticated than it or he is in reality which basically comes to covering over (ψεύδεσθαι) a lack of substance, a lack of genuine thoughtfulness - hence the expression pseudo, such as Michel Foucault's describing psychiatry as a pseudo-science, i.e. psychiatry makes a claim to scientific respectability and exactness but in truth the pseudo-scientific veneer of modern psychiatry is merely covering over (ψεύδεσθαι) a lack of authentic scientific substance. Yet psychiatry is not targeted with the label 'pretentious' because pretentiousness is reserved for deeds and persons deemed to be outside prevailing moral standards. 

Pretentiousness, in other words, always contains an element of pretension, of pretence, of covering over a vacuous lack. In any and every case pretentiousness covers over a dearth of substance and quality. What is quality? Precisely the opposite of pretentiousness, that is, quality needs no covering over (ψεύδεσθαι), no pretence, since quality always speaks of and for itself. 

The fight against pretentiousness is, at the same time, a fight for quality. This is why Nietzsche saw mediocrity as a necessary precondition for quality, since mediocrity can and does act as a spur for the pursuit of quality, however unreasonable in real life terms such a pursuit may prove to be. 

To circle the circle then, we will say that for someone or something to be genuinely pretentious, and not merely said to be by hostile commentators, that someone would have to betray pretension, i.e. lay a claim to a quality which is not properly his and in so doing have the pretence to be better than he actually is in his shameless pretending to be above his station as a creative individual. 

In the case of writing, then, pretentiousness would consist in dressing up a simple thought in convoluted, theoretical language, which has the effect of obfuscating the writer's lack of authentic understanding, i.e. understanding rooted in the the ontological difference between Being and beings (Heidegger). 

To call someone's work pretentious is to call out their bullshit, so to speak, to force them to reveal their true colours, their true philosophical underpinnings, so that, by this dialectical and conflict-ridden process of pretension and calling out (λόγος πόλεμος στιν), simple insights are gained which is part of that endlessly self-overcoming process which Nietzsche, Heidegger and myself call the rank order, that is, the establishing of who may say what in which context since we are not all created equal and not necessarily worthy of setting up an everyman's tribunal to differentiate (κρίνειν) what is greater from what is lesser. 

The question of the rank order is synonymous with the problem of authority and it is no accident that in her collection of essays Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt asked the question

"What is authority?”

or even

"What was authority?" 

given, and this is implied in that question, that the current social order does not satisfactorily resolve the urgent and pressing problem of authority, i.e. of who may say and do what when, leading to the opposite scenario of a society based on authority, namely, a society based on violence and coercion, if not manipulation.

As such the fight against pretentiousness is a healthy dialectical struggle for the bringing to light of thoughtful insights and, if I dare use the word, truths.

Let us conclude, then, with Heidegger (Contributions to Philosophy) that

"Truth is untruth.” (since untruth, when challenged and rectified becomes truth)

and hear this excellent snippet from his didactic poem Aus Der Erfahrung des Denkens 

"Thinking's case would be more auspicious if there were already adversaries [i.e. fellow rival thinkers vying for position] and not mere opponents [i.e. those who are only anti-thought].”

(which is also a way of saying that pretentiousness and the mediocrity which goes with it is absolutely necessary for the furtherance of truth, that which makes meaning possible).

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Thought 27: The Great Noontide


What is Nietzsche's "great noontide" also translated as "the great midday", referred to in Thus Spoke Zarathustra on several occasions such as at the end?
"This is my morning, my day is beginning: Rise up now, rise up, you great Midday!
(trans: Graham Parkes)

Is it the point at which the progress of civilisation, namely taming, and the stature of man, his diminution or, conversely, his growing in height, i.e. culture, are seen as irreconcilable? 


Addendum - I've just noticed - four years later - that Nietzsche says exactly that in note 134 of The Will to Power
"This is the time of the great noon, of the most terrible clearing up: my type of pessimism - great point of departure.
I. Basic contradiction in civilisation and the enhancement of man." 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Thought 26: Natural Humanity


As Nietzsche observed in his never-to-be completed treatise The Will to Power: Reevaluation of all Values, there has never yet been a 'natural humanity'. 

Human beings are, for him, the as-yet-unfixed, undetermined animals.

The superman appears at the same time as the last man, i.e. the man who is last in rank.
"The last man lives longest" (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
means he will have a 
"curiously long staying power" 
no doubt due to his way of representing things in an un-endangered manner (Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?). 

According to my elucidations in How to Become Master of the World, a 'natural' humanity is a humanity that thinks its habituation.
"Every advancement of the time 'man' has so far been the fruit of an aristocratic society." - Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil 
This aphorism ought be understood as meaning that man evolves through the spiritual wealth of a thoughtful community, if one views the ἄριστοι, the best, as having a more primordial relationship to Being for
...τὸ γὰρ αὺτὸ νοεῖν ἐστιν τε καὶ εἶναι - Parmenides
"It is one and the same to contemplate and to exist."

Heidegger's contribution can perhaps best be viewed as having established a basis on which a legitimate aristocracy may be obtained, which is its closeness to Being, its mindfulness (Besinnung), its ability to dwell in contemplative thought (see Three Modes of Reflection).

It was also that thinker who highlighted the possibility that modern technology might force man to enter 'the dignity of his essence', i.e. to become fully man, in direct correlative proportion to
"the destiny of revealing which sends into em-bank-ment (Bestand)" (also translated as 'standing reserve')
in so far as that destiny blocks ποίησις, "what lets shine forth in appearance, in presence": truth. 

τέχνη and ποίησις are like two constellations that will cross without colliding, just as information-communication technology enables ScruffyOwlet's Tree.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thought 25: War and Peace





War: what preserves the peace (against dangerous extremists, communists, the axis of evil and so on ad nauseam)

Peace: the annihilation of war.

Question (asked by Heidegger in What is Called Thinking?): how can peace be preserved by what it annihilates? Or, put differently, how can war preserve the very thing which is meant to annihilate it?


As he observed, something is deeply amiss here which has its root in the fact that we are still not thinking, i.e. that Being, that which gives to think, that which makes meaning possible, has abandoned beings.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Thought 24: Factual Truth and Created Political Facts


In her essay Politics and Truth, which can be read in her masterpiece Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt distinguishes philosophical truth, which for her has no political bearing and is far removed from the affairs of men - ever since Plato's disgust with the Πολιτεία which put his beloved mentor, Socrates, to death - from factual truth which is of greater political import since facts are the raw stuff of politics and, more often than not, a real hindrance to power which is why Cold Monsters (i.e. governments) lie, i.e. conceal, twist, distort, as a matter of course, basic everyday facts, including by falsifying reality in terms of number (inc. statistics) but also, as has been shown again and again, by altering historical facts such as Stalin's erasing of Trotsky as a major figure from the history of the Russian Revolution (I specify Russian because there is such a thing as English and American Bolshevism). 

Worse, Cold Monsters routinely invent facts, create facts or, in other words, create perceptions (what is meant by propaganda) which is why only the most bold and courageous of spirits can take it on themselves to unravel, dis-cover, un-conceal those created perceptions with the aid of their conscience, the perception of their perception - see my dialogue Lathoron (in Greek: ἀληθεύειν, to speak truthfully, to wrest with great struggle from hiddenness; truth in Greek, ἀ-λήθεια, meaning, following Heidegger's insight, dis-closure, unconcealment, what is unhidden, the alpha being privative). 


Politically speaking, the bravest are those who, as part of a task which by definition is thankless and extremely dangerous, go about un-covering, i.e. wresting out of concealment, hiddenness, the lies of Cold Monsters. 

Philosophical truth, in so far as it remains attached to the ideal, the "pure sky of ideas", which includes the fallacious and un-endangered activity of mathematics which has only a claim to exactness and a corresponding scientific application in physics (which still interprets beings as constant presence - see Being and Time) and the social sciences, is, today, politically irrelevant - although in the past scientific discoveries such as those made by Galileo embroiled him in seas of polemics and controversy, including and especially arising from the corrupt (i.e. denatured) ecclesiastical order.


Yet philosophy remains eminently political in so far as language itself is political, i.e. belongs to the political nature of man as a being possessed of speech (ζῷον λόγον ἐχῶν) and that language is necessarily a function of power struggles, of πόλεμος, of strife, following the unquestionable insight that λόγος is indeed πόλεμος, warfare. 


My concept of thoughtful habituation is also eminently political in so far as the everyday covering over, ψεύδεσθαι, of what is really going on, not to mention the fact that we are, and are only once, of the powers - media-political-moneyed-religious-scientific-corporate - that, in independent journalist James Corbett's wording, should not be, requires nothing less than to think our habits and process our perception in a radically new way so that we may not be calculated and instantly calculable.

As regards a fact, it has become urgent to ask ourselves what a fact it, i.e. whether it is merely something created for the benefit of those in power or whether it is something which lies before any self-serving manipulating, any self serving ψεύδεσθαι. 

In my Brief Anatomy of Perception I highlighted the possibility that a thing, literally any thing that is not nothing, is fact in so far as it is perceptible, knowable, communicable. As such a lie by a government remains a fact on the very narrow basis that it is perceptible, i.e. liable to be grasped sensorily and perceptually; even if it be a purely fictitious creation (such as the technologically presented version of 9/11 and the whole ensuing 'war on terror'), it nonetheless becomes a fact the moment it is established for all to see, know, communicate. 

What, then, is factual truth? Factual truth, politically speaking, is bringing to light, to perception, the created facts as created facts. The 9/11 truth movement in all its various shapes and sizes, strengths and weaknesses, is doing precisely this: bringing to light the fact of 9/11 as created political fact, that 9/11 as political fact, as something perceptible and knowable, was created (no doubt for unconscionable power purposes which do not concern us here). 

Ditto, the burning of the ReichsTag by the Nazis who pinned it on the communists is known to be created fact through the labours and struggles of many a spirit whose names are unknown to most. Ditto too with the official narrative of JFK's assassination: pure created political fact.

It could be said that time, in so far as it is a dialectical vying for rank, in the realm of politics as in others, always brings truths to light, i.e created political facts. Whence Heraclitus' timeless insight that
"Justice will catch up with those who invent lies and those who swear to them."
Heraclitus is here merely uttering a law of Being. It is no accident that he be the first thinker of Rank Ordering, of πόλεμος and, in the light of Heidegger's interpretation, the thinker of λόγος as πόλεμος. 

Justice in the Heraclitean sense means Rank Ordering in so far as those who invent lies, i.e. create political facts, lose rank in the ultimate Rank Order which decides who is free, who is slave, who is god, who is man. 

Today's elite are last in rank in so far as their shallow technological organisation ensures that Being, that which makes meaning possible, withdraws from them. It is in this light that one must interpret the sometimes uttered statement that only beggars know the truth.
"Strife (πόλεμος - λόγος) is father of all and master of all. And some he has shown as gods, others men; some he has made slaves, others free."  
This sentence is still true today, judging by the amount of thoughtless slaves who do not question or critically consider their technological servitude, i.e. realise that indeed they are slaves.
"Not comprehending they hear like the death; the saying is their witness: absent while present." 
Thoughtlessness means not being fully in Being, not fully having come to consciousness, not being fully 'man' as the pointer to that which makes meaning possible and that which withdraws. For, ever since Parmenides
τὸ γὰρ αủτὸ νοεῖν ἐστίν τε καὶ εἶναι
"Thinking and Being are the same." 
or, according to Heidegger's elaboration in Being and Time
"Being is what shows itself in pure, intuitive perception, and only this seeing discovers being."
He goes on
"Primordial and genuine truth lies in pure intuition."
 Heraclitus' statement
"Greater deaths are allotted greater destinies."
is also part of the Rank Ordering. Socrates, Jesus, Spinoza, Oscar Wilde come to mind but so do many magnanimous spirits of the first century ADS.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thought 23: Writing and Rank Order


Background

The order of rank, or rank order, is a central concern of Messieurs Nietzsche and Heidegger and somehow became one of mine too, but with much less elegance. 

Everything under the sun I began to interpret in the light of what may be said when and by whom

Writing

Writing is part of the Rank Ordering, whence Nietzsche's observation in Beyond Good and Evil that 
"it writes."
Derrida's making a problem out of writing
"il n'y a pas de hors texte."
is, again, part of the Rank Ordering, of the absolute need for the first men to be the most powerful. See in this regard Zarathustra's shout
"There is no harder fate in all human destiny when the most powerful are not at the same time the first men. Then everything become fake, crooked and monstrous."
The Rank Ordering cannot be stopped. In fact it has already been formulated (see post Rank Ordering). The conflict between good and bad and good and evil or, which is the same, priority for the few versus priority for the majority, as Nietzsche noted in his Genealogy of Morals, has become ever more spiritual.

The fact that great events, for Nietzsche, are the greatest thoughts, in the sense of the stillest and the most delicate, is not some idle fancy but again part of the Rank Ordering which is the same thing as what Hölderlin intends by the words

"the saving power." (das Rettende). 
The planetary technological order itself brings with it the saving power, the centuries-long process of the rank order. Which is why the global technological elite have time against them. Which is also why Nietzsche noted that the rank order would take place outside of any existing social order (see The Will to Power). 

Which is why in Thus Spoke Zarathustra he teaches higher men "love of the most distant."

The superman comes forth not only after the Rank Order has been carried out (see post Rank Ordering) but as part of the very same conditions which have established the total economic exploitation of mankind which, for Nietzsche, is a diminution of the beast of prey man in the grand style (still in The Will to Power).


As Heidegger observed in the Spiegel interview, Only a god can save us, the destruction of the earth will only be able to be brought to a halt when and if 

"thought and poetry come to non-violent power once again."
enabling a free relationship to modern technicity.

With the rank order accomplished, when the first men, the greatest creators, are finally acknowledged as the most authoritative human beings, a new beginning of Western thought and for Western mankind will have come to fruition - and as Heidegger notes in What is Called Thinking? the land of the setting sun (Abendland) will thereby become a Morgenland in another sense, namely the land of a new beginning for mankind.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Thought 22: Economics as Domestication


The rise to prominence of economic theory is linked to the process of domestication of mankind: civilisation. οἶκος in Greek, means household. The fact that we all live in houses (or flats which amounts to the same thing) as taxpaying domestic animals necessarily engenders a rise in economic theory. 

Margaret Thatcher appealed to the habits of the 'good' householder in her economic thinking (see John Campbell's excellent two-volume biography of The Iron Lady). Householding is a domestic matter. Domestication and economics go hand in hand.

As for the concept of economic growth it seems to me that it is a self-contradiction. To be economical means to preserve, to be sparing. That the words economics and growth should be linked in this way points to the uprootedness and irresponsibility of modern thinking. Economic growth should really be understood to mean uneconomical waste.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Thought 21: Maths with Calvin


Taken from the well-loved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.

Problem: Mr Jones lives 50 miles away from you. You both leave home at 5.00 and drive toward each other. Mr Jones travels at 35 mph, and you drive at 40 mph. At what time will you pass Mr Jones on the road?


Method: I actually solved this one using a diagram.




In any event, this is how it can be reduced to having no great formal education in mathematics. (Who needs education anyway? Everything can be learnt from books).


Mr Jones travels at 35 miles per hour, which is to say 35 miles per sixty minutes. I divided time by distance, namely sixty minutes by thirty five miles to find out the time needed to cover one mile at that speed. Result: 1.7 minutes. So ten miles travelling at the speed of 35 miles takes 17 minutes (1.7 x 10). Since the overall distance between Mr Jones' place and yours is fifty miles, that distance can be covered in 17 minutes multiplied by 5 which gives 85 minutes.


Meanwhile you travel at 40 miles per hour, which is to you cover 40 miles per sixty minutes. Same method as above: 60 divided by 40 gives time needed to cover one mile travelling at that speed. Result: 1.5 minutes. So ten miles is equivalent to 1.5 x 10 = 15 minutes. So for fifty miles, 15 x 5 = 75 minutes is required travelling at the speed of forty miles per hour.


To find out the time at which Mr Jones and yourself cross each other one needs to subtract 75 minutes from 85 minutes which gives ten minutes. Why? Because this difference will yield the exact time needed for the two cars to pass. Result: ten minutes.


SolutionSince both you and Mr Jones leave home at 5.00 pm, you will pass each other at exactly 5.10 pm.


There you go Calvin!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Thought 20: Ideology and Mathematics


Background

This is a very early thought that chronologically precedes all the material extant on my blog so far, written as it was before Lathoron. Here it is in simplified and improved form.

Ideology and Mathematics

Peter M. Higgins in Mathematics for the Curious states, p. 56, 
"Where a line cuts two parallel lines, the corresponding angles are equal. This is an axiom, one of our fundamental starting rules for which we give no proof in terms of any assumptions. (Any system of mathematics begins with some assertions that are not proved. Pure mathematics is the study of their consequences.)
To  what extent is ideology, the logic of an idea (Arendt), axiomatic? Better, to what extent does ideology seek to secure itself the inviolability of being an axiom, a basis on which all human endeavours can be measured, controlled, judged? 

To quote Peter M. Higgins again, 
"To say that a number A is constructible means that, given any line segment to act as a standard of unit length, there is a sequence of operations that can be performed using a straight edge. . . and compasses which leads to another line segment of length A."
Supposing ideology is the logic of an idea and that, as "logic", it seeks to enshrine itself as an axiom, an unquestionable starting point, to what extent do the principles which derive from the axiom constitute constructs, deriving from the axiom in the first place? As the passage highlighted indicates, constructible numbers may proceed from any standard of unit length, but have to proceed from such a standard. The ground principles of an ideology are the starting point and are as arbitrary as the choice of the length of the original segment. It is enough that the principles are susceptible of acting as "measures" from which other principles can be deduced or constructed. 

Similarly, since the ground principles ensure the internal coherence of the constructed ideology it should be possible to go back to those ground principles once one has de-constructed the "logic" of the principles that flow and derive from the axiomatic principles, which as axiomatic principles, obey no law of logic but, politically, are the result of choice, preference and can be enforced only by means of struggle, power, violence, coercion not to say manipulation. 

Ideological conflict is essentially an axiomatic conflict, a conflict over the establishing of axioms by rendering principles, ideas in this case, unquestionable, i.e. beyond question, over and above other possible ideas seeking to be made into axioms

A further mathematical curiosity is the transcendental number. In contrast to constructible numbers, transcendental numbers are impossible to construct, for example π, which, incidentally, is why it is impossible to square the circle as it is impossible to construct π. Transcendental numbers should serve us as a humbling reminder of the limitations of our constructs and thought-constructions since
"we can know that there are uncountably many transcendental numbers without necessarily knowing the identity of a single one of them."