Archive for the ‘Philosophy and other mind numbing things’ Category

I miss having real friends.

Well, not really. I never had any friends. But these Internet Intimates, Coded Companions, or Digi-Friends seem strange and unfamiliar by comparison even though I don’t have anything to compare them to. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to meet up with one of them. Not in any funky sexual kind of way. You sick pervs should wash your minds out with soap. No, wait. Bad idea. That will probably do some sort of irreparable damage. Just stop thinking dirty thoughts.

For the Digi-Friends that I have profound conversations with, would our conversations turn to mundane comments about the weather in the real world. Or would the insights into the depths of human understanding be retained and indeed expanded by our corporeal interaction. I fear that the most amazing conversations would quickly turn to silence. The quick wit and amazing wordplay would be lost to fumbling stutters or long breaks in-between trains of thought. Oh. Woe are those who converse through their fingers in 140 characters or less only to meet at another moment to find themselves still holding their breath but with no device through which to speak. Digi-Discourse? The clicks of keys replace the clicking of the tongue betwixt syllables. Radiant glow of liquid crystal replaces the visage of an interlocutor.

Digi-friends will never be bother by a stutter. True. But what is lost with the breath between friends. The crack of a smile that follows a sarcastic comment is left only to emoticons and the parenthetical. I can only show my excitement, anger, or frustration with CAPS LOCK AND EXCLAMATION!!!!!! Dialect is replaced with use of acronyms. Lol or lulz? Context is everything! LMAO, ITT, WIN, CTOP, PWNED, LEIK, OP. Why is OP always a fag? And if everyone is Anon, then I guess no one really knows anyone and therefore the “friends” in digi-friends is left with just digi. Which is somewhat of a relief if you ask me. Since I never had any friends, but remember  reading somewhere about what they’re supposed to be leik, the comparison between what could’ve been digi-friends and friends was  a country that I would’ve much rather left undiscovered for fear of what I could’ve missed out on.


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And, yet, another fragment of yet another book that I am working on titled “Familiar.”  Always busy is the bee….

Abandoned, a child languished in serenity that she was forsaken to. Surrounded by a swirling storm of neglect and uncaring, she couldn’t find anyone familiar. Quivering knees curled up tight against her panting chest, she kept her feet inside the eye of a tornado that was a bustling crowd.

Alice wept.

The frantic crowd whipped wildly like breathless winds around her, leaving an empty space of calm that would keep her and that she would call her home.

The child cried harder.

Cheeks glistening with sunlight that poured through the transom that hovered above her head, light split into a myriad of colors through the prisms that were her tears but was left unnoticed by woe and propinquity.

A child, an empty beacon of loneliness, surrounded by more people than she would ever know by name, she was still alone. Without a mother, father, family, or friend, the child was left nothing with nothing.

Even so young, she knew it would’ve been easier if they were never there to begin with, but Alice had been taken to this crowded place to be left alone, another discarded creature left to either a stranger’s kindness or their malice, left to be taken into the hold of caring arms, or to be bruised and torn apart by savage claws.

Shimmering eyes stared up at passing opportunities and near escapes, waiting for some notice, a note of empathy or misanthropy. The more that passed her by, the more she was hurt by their indifference. Even in the blanketing warmth of the light that descended on her, she shivered.

Out of the light, an old man came to her and took her hand. For a moment, she only stared at the vision of a boney appendage blurred heavily by her tears. The words of the old man came in to her ears just as blurry, as if the words had traveled too far to reach her ears with any clarity. Alice didn’t need to know what he had said or what he was trying to say. After wiping her eyes on her arm she looked around one more time, hoping that at the last moment her mother or her father would suddenly run back to her. She waited, but that moment never came. That moment never comes. Trembling, she reached up, outstretching her arm, and, when her hand took the old man’s, it went cold. In the moment that she had reached out for help, she had abandoned the warm hope that her family would return to her.

The following years would pass as she was passed from one person to another. The old man passed her to a police officer; the police officer passed her to the orphanage; the orphanage passed her to a foster family. Every time she was passed from one person to another, she felt herself moving farther away from her mother and father until there were mere fragments left of them for her to hold or remember.

The only thing she had was time, and that would be wasted yearning for the things that had abandoned her so long ago. So she cried. All her life she cried. She cried for the things that had left her behind and the certainty of what was to become of her, the certainty of becoming a creature that was unable to ever hold to anything tightly for fear that it would leave her. Her foster parents tried to bring her close, but she wouldn’t let them. Her lovers tried to do the same, and she shook them off. Her husband tried to let her know that he would always be there for her. She knew that wasn’t true.

Every moment that was left for her was always familiar to the one that had left her abandoned so long ago. At the market, picking up food for her husband and children that waited patiently for her to return, she found herself surrounded by the same tornado that had swirled around her when her family had left her. She watched as the uncaring stared emptily at boxes of nothing, noting nothing in particular about trivial things. Their façade had become uncovered and now she knew them to be what they really were. They had all abandoned something, left something behind for someone else to pick up, or not. Friends, family, and lovers were all given up and thrown aside. And Alice was one of them. She had abandoned the things that keep people close to one another.

As her knees shook, she collapsed on the floor of the market with her hands pulling cereal boxes from the shelf with the realization that she wasn’t any different than the people that surrounded her. They were familiar to her. They were her. With her vision blurred, she tried to concentrate on the people around her. But they too quickly started to fade away, abandoning her once again. As things started to fade around her, she remembered back to the old man and the muffled words that he spoke. In spite of how vague they once were, they came to her clear and vivid, as if they had been spoken to her every day since that day. Any other time, those words would’ve left her confused, but, now that everything seemed to be fading away, she couldn’t imagine any other words that would make more sense.

You’ll never return to this place.

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As may know, I wear many hats. The Fedora of Physics, the Akubra of Astrology, the Turban of Theology are merely a few.  As I am currently reading Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, I am now wearing the Phrygian Cap of Philosophy. Many would ask, “Why are you reading  Boethius?” and “Who the hell is this  Boethius guy, anyway?” In answering the first question I will simply quote the following passage:

Nunc fluens facit tempus,
nunc stans facit aeternitatum.

Isn’t that amazing? I know you think so. For the Latin illiterate, it says that you should stop being a savage and invest in a Latin to English dictionary. Nah, I’m just fucking with you. What it really says is:

The now that passes produces time,

The now that remains produces eternity

Now tell me that’s not sexy! Basically, my interest in Nunc Fluens and Nunc Stans started with the brutal metal songs by the same names by the glorious band Cynic. In fact, I am listening to Nunc Stans right now and am having a difficult time keeping control of my erection.

Anyway, the song begins with:

Hey Comerade

What it be like

On the Day we face our Mortal Life

The Nunc Stans is commonly understood in philosophy as the abiding now, the temporal instant that knows no articulation. I know what you’re thinking. “What does the now abide? Can the instant be recognized even if it cant be articulated? Who the fuck comes up with this shit?” Well, I had the same questions, and I have since struggled to find the origin of the concept. At first I thought it originated with Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan where he states:

But they will teach us that eternity is the standing still of the present time, a nunc stans, as the schools call it; which neither they nor any else understand, no more than they would a hic stans for an infinite greatness of place.

Sure, I laughed when Tommy said that too, but, after some reflection, I think he was just being a dick. The problem is that this obviously wasn’t the origin of the concept, otherwise the “Schools” wouldn’t be teaching it. Of course, we are dealing with concepts of time and eternity. So it could be postulated that eternity necessarily encompasses every moment simultaneously, and, therefore, the “schoolmen” would have to understand Nunc Stans even before its first utterance. Naturally, if you postulate things like that in public, you are likely to get beaten to death by the first passers by. So, here, you had better take this….

Sorry, I saw that coming, but not in enough time to stop it. Allow me to continue.

As previously noted, I have since found what I believe to be the juicy source of both of the phrases, and that brings me to the second question. Boethius was a Roman Christian Philosopher. “Christian!” you might say, “But Marc, I thought you were a heretic?” Well, I am, but that doesn’t mean that Christians have something good to say every so often. Besides, as a philosopher, you shouldn’t simply nod your head when someone says something to you. You look at it, tear it apart, put it back together again, take it for a luxurious ride in through the country, maybe even take it for a bite to eat before you take it home and have your way with it on your living room floor.

Right now, I am seeking eternity and trying to grasp on to the now.

I’ll let you know how it turns out once I have finished Boethius.

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I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Faith has always interested me.

Before my Christian friends/enemies start tightening their jaws in preparation for another godless rant, don’t worry. I don’t think I’m going to go there (But I don’t make any promises)

Believe it or not (get it!), I have respect for people who have faith in something that cannot be seen, touched, tasted, heard, etc, etc… Maybe it’s the romantic in me that finds religious elation appealing. There are even times that I, your friendly neighborhood heretic, wishes to feel the hand of “god” or whatever touching him in some special way in some special place.

Faith does have its goods. Some of my kind of swine usually bemoan the atrocities that take place in the unyielding faith of religious fanatics. And I do as well. There is, on the other hand, many good things that faith does bring to the table. Without faith, many of our sciences would be unable to progress and evolve.

“What in the hell are you talking about?” one might say.

Newton (not the fig) had his principle on how gravity worked based on getting conked in the head with an apple while he was reading porn under an apple tree (that’s how I remember it, anyway) And that very theory guided the entire scientific community for two hundred years or so. Based on little empiracle data, droves of science geeks followed in lockstep with an apple in one hand and a copy of Principia in the other. It really didn’t matter than Newton was profoundly wrong on his analysis of gravity when dealing with the macrocosm. He was later told to “suck it” by Albert Einstein.

Not one to hold a grudge, Newton didn’t not haunt Alberto’s dreams or come back to eat his delicious brains like some scientists speculated. Instead, Einstein had essentially proven that the universe is not flat (linear) but round (curved), and he didn’t even have to sail anywhere. Alberto looked at the cruller that Newton was trying to pass as a Doughnut and said to the lockstep scientists, “Don’t eat that! That’s not a Doughnut!!!”

There’s speculation that even Einstein may one day be proven wrong when another pastry chef comes along, but, for now, his doughnut has a round shape and seems to soak up coffee pretty well. So, we’ll keep eating it. E=mc2 was an integral part in producing the Atomic bomb. Why don’t you ask the Japanese how Einstein’s theories work?

We take everything on faith. I take it on faith that a giant spider monster wont consume me if I walk outside the door (although some days I have my suspicions) I have faith that when I put my finger on the seventh fret of my E string it will ring as a B. Unless, of course, some bastard has been fucking with my tuning.

It’s no surprise that the most fundamental questions of our existence, “How did we get here?” and “Where are my car keys?” would be answered by faith. It’s even less of a surprise that they always will be.

The faithful will always be the faithful, and they should keep their faith. It is possible, though, to open that up to allow other possibilities of our origins to sneak in. Two conflicting ideas can occupy the same space. Even Alberto recognized this. His clever quips on the subject of god are both funny and respectful. And should be taken to heart. I don’t usually quote, but, in closing, I will make an exception.

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. (Albert Einstein)

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