Who says America isn’t a

Who says America isn’t a Race?

I eat in my car. I can recognize Billy Graham on sight. I don’t burn down the capitol when an election doesn’t go my way. I think handguns are cool (even if I wanted to ban them). I don’t take international governments seriously (even if I like them). I’ve heard about the rapture. If I were on a sinking ship with agnostics, atheists, Methodists, and Catholics, we would still circle up and form a protestant prayer circle and take a vote about who got the liferaft. I don’t grovel to the president, and if he wants to come in my house, he better ask me first. Someone in my family is a lawyer, or will be. I know someone on the Atkins diet. I don’t hit women to keep them in line. All the single women I know make more money than I do. I drink, or have drunk, really shoddy beer- that I can buy after sundown. I don’t speak a foreign language- or if I do, not very well. I shoot my guns at targets, not up in the air. If I want to blow someone up, I use a bomb with a timer, not one strapped to my body. I watch football. I’m never worried that there will be a “European Dr. J” playing on a basketball team. I don’t watch “Baywatch”. I’ve said “my rights are being violated” at least once before I was ten years old. I’m morally scrupulous about alcohol. I hate the guy who drives on the shoulder of the road to get past a line of cars, or who drives to the front, and expects to get let in. I can drive without killing people. I curse with profanity, not blasphemy. I don’t laugh at cross-dressing humor. I’m taller than the immigrants I know. My last name doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been in therapy, or I know someone who has (or whom I think needs it). I go to school for 21 years, and don’t learn much of substance past the third grade. I’ve driven in a car for more than five hours more times than I can remember. I know the following organizations, AAA, NASA, MADD, UCLA, IRS. and a hundred more. I know where the nearest mall is. I can’t tell the difference between most Europeans. I’ve seen several movies about Jesus.

And I refer to myself as “half Irish” or “a quarter Mexican” or “Full blooded German” or “Swedish and German” or “part Indian” or Italian and Scotch”….etc.

——–

Books and Interpretation. an outline

Books and Interpretation. an outline

(an obvious but under appreciated point)

A book can’t explain what it means. If you ask it to explain itself, it will only say the same thing over and over and over again.

(an important inference)

Whenever a book makes a claim about anything more general than a particular thing, action, person, etc. It cannot explain whether this relatively more universal claim applies to this particular thing, action, person, case, etc.

(an application to a particular)

The Bible, the Koran, The Book of Mormon, The writings of the Vedas, The Gnostic Gospels, L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianectics, etc. are all books.

(Another obvious point)

People can explain what they mean, and they are able to say whether a universal maxim applies in a particular case. They can also get this wrong.

——–

A Mediation On Literary Immortality

A Mediation On Literary Immortality

Homer has been translated into a thousand languages which did not exist even a thousand years after his poem was written.
——–

A Blind Side of

A Blind Side of Progressive Knowledge

Certain kinds of knowledge can be historically progressive: technological, practical, even speculative. What one generation learns can be passed on to the next, and added upon.

But the knowledge we learn by experience cannot be such. Inasmuch as it must be learned by experience, we cannot pass it on. You may write it down, but others have to trust you. The knowledge itself cannot progress beyond the length of the human life that learns it.

 

——–

Brief Conversation at Church Rummage

Brief Conversation at Church Rummage Sale, Ten Years From Now

(scene: a large, fold out table topped with cardboard boxes. A sign taped on the front of the table reads “books” in Large, sharpie-written letters. Two very educated- looking types are browsing through the titles)

“Hey, The Da Vinci Code. Is this about Da Vinci?”

“I dunno. Read the Back.”

“Hey, I think I… was this that…” (dull flicker of awareness; instantly fades)

(short, uninterested pause) “That what?”

“I don’t know… (looks at the price) twenty cents… I don’t know… Nah. (drops the book in the cardboard box indifferently) Are you going to get that little statue?”

“Yeah, I think I’ll put it on my dashboard”

——–

Eph. 5:3 To be aware

Eph. 5:3

To be aware of anything is to make it a part of your being. This is simply what awareness means. The knowledge of this fact is older than Aristotle, although he gives a very good articulation of it. Modern science has also shown through brain scans that brain has the same reaction to doing an action, or watching it performed.

Whatever we are thinking about, sense, or know is within us. This is not a metaphor.
——–

My First Attempt at

My First Attempt at a Troubadour Poem

After sun has run its course away

and horizon parts its goodbye kiss to day

and after stars have tumbled from their height

and blanch from vision given by the night-

Or after spring buds bloom to summer fruit

and ripen in the fall that follows suit-

and after winter’s night and sunless day

have passed again to long blue skies from grey-

Always after these comes something new

and new things grow where once the old things grew.

But yet my love, with scorn for time-wrought chains,

stands above its passing and remains.

——–


Philosophical paradoxes are questions that must be answered “in a way yes, and in a way no”.

They are meant to teach the fundamental disposition necessary for philosophy (or any precise knowledge): seldom affirm or deny outright- always distinguish. The

“Is the sun visible?”, “Is darkness visible?” “Is sensation corporeal?” “Is God in the world?” “does prime matter exist?” “is Toyota spelled with one consonant?” “does the word “boot” have one vowel?” “Is 1 a number?… are 0 or pi numbers?” “Do american conservatives value the things of the past?” “should I give money to the poor?” “is knowledge better than love?” “Is tolerance good?” “should I love wicked people?” “is the federal government more important than the state or local government?”

You may notice that these paradoxes tend to turn on the meaning of one or two key words “in” or “exist” or “one” or “number” “to the poor” “good” “better than”… etc.

Good Friday and The Cosmos:

Good Friday and The Cosmos:

or, one thing that can be said about Good Friday, even apart from the more important truth of redemption.

(For the background on this, read Neoteronous, the post and discussion on temporal existence)

To exist in time means to have the successive possession of existence. Nothing with a body exists “all at once”, but rather its existence is continually repeated over time. If we ask, “is the man I am now the same as the man I was ten minutes ago”? The answer is in a way yes, and in a way no. In one sense, they are manifestly the same, otherwise we could never say “I was_____”. But in another sense, they are not exactly the same. Where is the man who “woke up this morning”, precisely inasmuch as he is the man who woke up? This exact being has disappeared- as soon as my feet hit the floor, he became another being lost in the past tense. The man who woke up in one sense is writing now, in another sense he is just as much in oblivion as Caesar or Socrates. Time marches on, and takes everything with it.

Time is a reality in the cosmos, yet there is another thing just as real: memory. In time, the cosmos is always passing away, but in memory, the universe is always present. Memory is well defined as The power of making the past present as the past . This is to say, when I remember that I woke up, I not only make the past to exist in the present, but I can know that it is the past. When I think about having woken up, I don’t think “I am waking up now”. Moreover, this power of memory is necessary even to talk about, or have an intelligible sensation of the universe. If we did not remember the things presented to us through sensation, we could not even speak. The world would appear to us as a flux which we would never have time to learn. Without memory we would have no knowledge of what the universe is, nor could we even say the words “universe” or “time”.

Time and memory are contrary realities in the universe. The first continually makes thing pass into the past, the second continually makes things present. Time belongs to all things inasmuch as they are corporeal, but memory belongs to things inasmuch as they are incorporeal, for memory is manifestly a kind of knowledge (sensible) and every act of knowledge is, as such, incorporeal. (there is a certain incorporeality even in sensation: when I see my hat, the actual bodily hat does not enter my eyeball).

Now every act of memory is an incorporeal act of knowledge. But knowledge allows the knower to have something internally for himself, which makes him able to act for himself. But to act for oneself is to be alive. And so memory is one of the manifestations of life, and moreover of the highest kind of life, namely the life of a knower.

In knowledge, and through memory, life overcomes time Yet we must not view life or time as extrinsic to the universe, for both are in the universe. Through Life, the cosmos overcomes its own passing away in time. Through all animals, and more perfectly in the animal “man”, the whole universe makes itself present to itself.

This overcoming is a qualified overcoming since in cannot, obviously, make the actual things in the past entirely present without qualification. Past things must always be things that have passed.

Yet the desire of life will always seek this final overcoming of time. For the existence of things as a perfect present is more perfect than the existence of things always passing away. Being is better than non-being. All things desire perfection.

But this perfection cannot be given by the cosmos. If something exists in time, then it cannot overcome time, or get beyond it, any more than it can get beyond itself. Yet Life itself demands this transcendence, this getting beyond. But it cannot look for this transcendence within the universe, but rather it must look to that which is above the universe if it has any hope for transcendence, or getting beyond.

And yet, if the transcendence did not happen in the universe then how could the universe transcend its own existence? If the universe cannot transcend its own existence, then its desire to do so through life would be in vain. Therefore the transcendence of the universe requires that he who is higher than the universe, become part of the universe, and that through his life, life achieves the final overcoming of time. Through his life, all things reach perfection, and all things, even bodlily things, participate in the transcendence of imperfect existence.

Yet more is necessary. It would not be enough for he who is above the universe to enter the universe. If He who entered were to leave, then the universe would lose its perfection of transcending time through life. The body that was taken by he who is above the universe must continue to be present in the universe throughout time.

And yet even this would not be enough. The Very body must continue to make present at least one moment in time. This moment is the moment which makes the final overcoming of time by life. It is the moment or time which is not taken away by the passing of time. It is the time that is forever present, the moment that shall not pass away. It gives to some one time the property which time could never have for itself- unending subsistence. All who look at this moment can say, “this now is then, that then is now”.

Good Friday is that time. Hallelujah.
——–

Love and Melancholy Melancholy has

Love and Melancholy

Melancholy has fallen out of use as a psychological term. This is tragic, since nature has not stopped making melancholics.

Melancholics do everything slowly, and are moved by everything deeply. They tend to walk slowly, eat slowly, speak slowly, write slowly, pay bills slowly, commit to anything slowly, drive slowly… you get the point. They also, for better and worse, get moved by everything deeply. When speaking to others, they cannot look at them. The other would affect them too much, and they would forget what they are saying. They are also silent for long periods, only to break the silence with some interminable soliloquy. They also tend to see meaning in everything- which leads them to alternate between acting as charming as St. Francis, and being as annoying as a slow-plodding call- in guest on AM radio.

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