Thursday, 22 November 2012

Curiosity

The life of a thought, as it sparks through the neurons, can be tremendous and short. They are rarely remembered, often vulgar or the brains responses to our bodily needs, though some, are so enthralling, that they send rouge and rushing waves through your every cell, calling your hairs to stand to attention and your skin to tremble as if it caressed by the softest of feathers. It was this very constellation of senses that changed my centre of gravity very suddenly to the chair I now sit, rambling at a keyboard. The phrase that sent me there, I will not postpone, was while reading an essay by Christopher Hitchens entitled 'The Catastrophist', on the science-fiction writing of J.G. Ballard. The phrase itself though, was anything but science-fiction. Hitchens quotes Sir Martin Rees in a lecture he gave in honour of the late Professor Joseph Rotblat: “Most educated people are aware that we are the outcome of nearly 4 billion years of Darwinian selection, but many tend to think that humans are somehow the culmination. Our sun, however, is less than halfway through its lifespan. It will not be humans who watch the sun’s demise, 6 billion years from now. Any creatures that then exist will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or amoebae.” 

Imagination does not suffice! To think of creatures of unimaginable nature, so profoundly different from ourselves, gathering in numbers to watch the last moments of a dying star. And, the last moments of the life that feeds upon it. An event that would make Revelations cower and put angels on double-time. The final extinction on a planet, that already now has put 99.5% of all existed species, un-empathetically, to the metaphoric sword. Ah! But why dwell? 'Tis only another whimper in a galaxy with a million million stars, in a universe with a million million galaxies. And yet humans find it still so easy, nay, so comfortable that this entire entropic and beautiful universe was created with them specifically in mind. A god who did this, who created a universe only to wait almost 14 billion years before his favoured humans even existed on one of the maybe billion billion planets that inhabit this universe, so he could send his son, in human form to be tortured to death only 3 uneventful decades later. It even happened after almost 200 thousand years of human flourishing. I could only postulate that god himself may be under the influence of one of the many brain disorders he so graciously bestowed upon us.  I do not think it unreasonable to criticise a belief that holds such solipsistic and supernatural specifics, I think it strange to say otherwise. I certainly don't respect them. 

We are destined to live strange lives. Lives that absolutely are all about us, and lives that harbour such solipsism and ignorance, so conveniently forgetting the insignificance and minuteness of our quixotic wanderings.  It a wondrous thing to be alive in this universe, an unlikely thing as it is to be alive at all. No god or mind behind it, no - as Christopher Hitchens puts it - celestial dictator to loom. It is not the son of god that we rely, but a sun of helium and hydrogen. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

From Pain to Illusions

'Illusions, of course, cannot be abolished. But they can and must be outgrown'
- Christopher Hitchens

The blossoming of self-pity is no more veracious than when under the fertile ground of pain. It hurries to feed on self-critique, leaving solipsism and self-obsession the room to flourish without reason to prune and contain them. Bitterness is a paralytic, and fear a parasite. The fight against chronic pain is not a fight against pain itself, but a  fight against these irrationalities and illusions. Objectivity is, as it  has proved of itself, a cure of illusion when coupled with reason. There is a certain allure, if suffering necessary, to suffer for a cause. And there is reason to willingly comply to humiliating torture if what follows is recovery and the lessening of un-health. Though, where all allure and reason is misplaced or misused, is one's suffering where one cannot find irony.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Thou Shalt Question.

Is it cynical to suggest that organised religion is our species greatest embarrassment? To suggest that these ancient combines comprised of rusted reason and termite-ridden morality are destroyers of development? If it is, it shall cause me no discomfort to remain satirical and skeptical.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hypothetical Heaven

Chopin, fine tobacco and coffee that lacks light and is sodden in my olfactory and gustatory systems start off this, just another, restless night. BUT!!! If suddenly, under a cognitive lapse, I swallow my cigarette and inhale my coffee, causing my lungs the bother of trying to extract and feed to my brain and blood, oxygen from coffee, and my lungs burn and stutter, causing, well, my death, should i spend my next thirty minutes being fitted for wings, smiling and dancing with unrecognisably  un-decrepit relatives? I think not. AND, more profoundly, that if my hypothetical death scenario's reaper is sharpening his scythe and swapping the placement between my coffee and cigarette at the moment I type this, and before this gets titled and posted I'm twitching with my face in the ash tray, I absolutely hope that i will not be joining some cloud bouncing party with the people I love. And it is because that if heaven is a place where only constant happiness endures and misery is forgotten or impossible, then what is and was the fucking point? For it to be truly happy all things and memories annoying, disconcerting, boring, sad (a funeral of a friend for example), itchy, uncomfortable, of hunger, painful, loneliness, and yes, even empathy would have to be eradicated from our consciousness. And what would be left of those memories? Almost nothing for, I would guess, all of us. We could either not know of the suffering in an apparent hell, or, not even give the slightest fuck about the burning and tearing of flesh of bones of people we probably knew. I must ofcourse mention that trying to reason about a hypothetical paradoxical situation is rather difficult with almost completely unknown variables.      And as my coffee finally drains the last of rather viscous matter down the tubes adjacent to my bronchials, I shall end my penning for this night. But never my pondering, my thinking, my reading. Hence the no sleep.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The "Alto-Cumulus" Miracles


In the brisk flitted consciousness I have had the pleasure and the pain to experience, I have noticed the forceful comings and the hesitant goings of ideas of the supernatural. I may add though that I myself – and I count myself lucky- have not ever had the desire for supernatural virtue. Susceptibility to supernatural belief is something that seems innate in our human condition, I might add, but that is not relevant and for another pondering. On to the matter of miracles.  The Christian mind has a way with miracles which renders a deep suspicion in its reasoning that engages a great deal of thought.  The elasticity of what might occur to be a miracle can stretch to the bounds of the ridiculous. The miracle of a saved parking space to the miracle of sunny day seems to fit those bounds rather snug. But what of things like shrinking tumours and the finding of a long lost child? But of course these are things that could have gotten better without the hand of god to squeeze a tumour small or guide the stork that saves the child. I don’t want to go beyond the obvious and point out that, tumours can shrink and children can find their own way home, but it seems I must to prove a point. Of the millions of cancer sufferers there will undoubtedly be a portion of those who pray, and undoubtedly a portion of those whose tumours shrink, therefore a group will exist containing an overlap of the two –who pray and whose tumours shrink. Are these therefore miracles? Of course not. The same applies to missing children and to any other misery that could have gotten better anyway. Miracles also have tendency more miraculous if told to a more na├»ve, young or trusting audience. This brings up the point of the sincerity of the teller. Whether it be control of minds, egoistic soothing, a coercive push towards antique beliefs, an amount of scepticism is certainly necessary when it comes to the authenticity second hand accounts. Personal agenda of the teller or all the previous tellers who informed the even more previous tellers before him is maybe an obvious reasoning, but a reasoning that has yet to burst through the meninges of impressionable brains. Miracles also –like any unbelievable word of mouth story- have a snowball-type effect. Through each generation of the stories existence it might alter slightly from misrememberings or mishearings and these effects get passed down to the next generation of the story. There also is the effect added to the story through each of its generations, including amplification of certain details for theatrical effect or leaving parts out for censoring purposes.  As these stories “evolve” -if I might be so bold to use the term- the seemingly minor and superfluous details can retain their place in the story, therefore becoming not, obscure and trifling irrelevancies, but part of the dogma. Just to be complete I shall add that as parent stories give rise and birth to daughter stories , an ever increasing variety of stories shall exist, expanding and adapting, nay, mutating, meaning two stories might have shared ancestors, but cease to have many similarities with each other or with, indeed, their ancestors. The issue of “evolving” stories retains practical relevancy only for miracles with a history sufficiently large to have caused adaptations which change the probability of the miracle being true. Now to a rather tedious endeavour - explaining the issue of finding sufficient validation (of the mere miraculous) from biblical text.  This is a rather hopeless and endlessly insufficient proof, and I shall begin with an importation of words from a man with better words than I.

“Here then we are first to consider a book, presented to us by a barbarous and ignorant people, written in an age when they were still more barbarous, and in all probability long after the facts which it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous accounts, which every nation gives of its origin. Upon reading this book we find it full of prodigies and miracles. It gives an account of a state of the world and of human nature entirely different from the present: Of our fall from that state; Of the age of man, extended to near a thousand years: Of the destruction of the world by a deluge: Of the arbitrary choice of one people, as favourites of heaven; and that people the countrymen of the author: Of their deliverance from bondage by prodigies the most astonishing imaginable: I desire any one to lay his hand upon his heart, and after a serious consideration declare, whether he thinks that the falsehood of such a book, supported by such a testimony would be more extraordinary and miraculous than all the miracles it relates; which is, however, necessary to make it received, according to the measures of probability above established.”
David Hume – An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 

 This passage (As the highest pitch of the eloquence of these words ring in my ears, I have now a realisation, that this is what must be meant by ‘Atheist Porn’) leads obtusely but directly towards my next reasoning.(A miracle that seems molded to a biblical form, most probably, is molded from one.  As I make this assertion, it seems at the present moment, to be of little relevancy to my current point, but a tangent, into the relevancies of another.)  So I continue; Biblical text itself (the King James Bible, preferably.)  is suppurating with grandiose miracles and scientific ignorance(and yet the Christian mind’s claim is that it holds every answer you could ever need for scientifically graced, un-grandiose life of the modern human) which immediately gives reason to suspect the truth of any action in its poetry saturated pages. This book, then, falls from ever affecting whether the miracles inside it are probable - to an extent which would make the most deluded lottery junkies feel hopeless. The assertions of biblical events remain evidenceless and unmatched by History, which is why these very events are not taught to students as History, but as religion. The reason most biblical events are not included is that fantastical lack of evidence, and it is evidence that gives us our knowledge of history. The French Revolution, Hitler’s Final Solution, The Fall of Hellenic Society, are presumed to be true, because of the overwhelming amount of evidence that is bestowed on us by the scientific method. Therefore, the insidious suspiciousness that is validated by the lack of evidence for biblical miracles, becomes an inevitability, an almost necessity, in dealing with this matter.