Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Time Machine!!!

I dropped my good buddy Benj off at the airport today, and on the way home I decided to listen to Dusty Springfield. She reminds me of Kevin Arnold's mom from The Wonder Years. For some reason, whenever I listen to music from the 50's or 60's I become nostalgic, which is strange because nostalgia usually implies a longing for something in your past, and obviously the 60's is not a part of my past. So, maybe nostalgia is the wrong word. I have a very romanticized idea of that era, despite it's very tumultuous nature. The 50's was rampant with racism, McCarthyism, and numerous other cultural growing pains, and the 60's...well, it was the 60's-- exciting, culturally transforming and tragic in so many different ways. While drifting in my imagination I thought that I would totally be on board to take a trip back into time, although, thank goodness for "Back To The Future"! Without that movie, we probably wouldn't know what precautions to take while venturing into the world of time travel. My friends and I would have to make certain rules, and we would also have to be extremely secretive and very prudent in our employment of the device. As tempting as it would be, we would have to avoid traveling back to certain dates that were historically significant because that would increase the possibility of altering the future in any way, which is obviously something that we should stay away from. Also, it wouldn't be smart to use it too often, I figure 1-3 trips per week MAX!! If for any reason we decide to solicit time travel, we'd have to approach like the drug trade....with the utmost closure. We would have to use codewords and money laundering techniques, off shore accounts...ugh, I get dizzy just thinking about it. It would be so much fun!! Here is a list of events I would want to travel too, in no order of priority,,,

1. The Doors performance at The Whiskey..the one where Jim Morrison goes on his Oedipus inspired rant during "The End"

2. The Beatles at Shea, or the Cavern Club, or their last show on top of that building.

3. I'd hang out with my dad in Germany, but obviously I'd have to be careful with this one.

4. An Elliott Smith show in Portland.

5. A Pearl Jam show at the Edge in Orlando, Fl.

6. I'd find Kierkegaard in Denmark, Neitzsche in Germany, and C.S. Lewis in England.

7. I'd get to know Christina Ricci before she was famous, but that might be creepy because she was famous at such a young age, and I don't think traveling back in time would make me younger.

8. A Guns N' Roses show at the Troubadour in the 80's.

9. Any week night on the sunset strip in the 60's, or an Andy Warhol party in NYC...actually, to hell with Warhol, I want to hang out with Nico.

(disclaimer: I know this list is absent of certain historic events that are quite significant, but I'm just playing by the rules!)

Ugh, there is too much to list! Anyway, here is a Dusty Springfield video.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

weekly kierkegaard excerpt

I'm slowly making my way through Kierkegaard's "Works of Love" and I am repeatedly blown away. In the excerpt below he is emphasizing the collision of Christian love and human love by way of listing the "madness" with which Jesus's life and love played out on earth.

"One assumes that it was only ungodliness which had to collide with Christ. What a misunderstanding!.....

He founded no kingdom on earth; neither did he sacrifice himself so the apostles could inherit the gains. No, it was--humanly speaking--madness: he sacrificed himself--in order to make the beloved as unhappy as himself. Was it really love--to gather a number of simple, poor men about himself, win their devotion and love as no one's love has ever been won, to let it seem to them for a time as if now the prospects of fulfilling their proudest dream were opening--only to reconsider suddenly and change the plan, only to plunge himself from these seductive heights into the abyss of all dangers without being stirred by their prayers, without taking the least regard for them, only to give himself without resistance into the power of his enemies, to be nailed to a cross like a criminal, amid mocker and scorn, while the world rejoiced! Was it really love to be separated from his decsiples in this way, to leave them abandoned in a world which for his sake might hate them, to toss them like lost sheep among ravenous wolves whose blood-thirst he himself had incited against them--was it really love? What then, did this man want, what did he want of these unwary, upright, even though provincial men whom he so horribly deceived? Why did he die without confessing that he deceived them? As it was, he died with the claim that it nevertheless was for love--alas, while the disciples with crushed hearts, yet with moving faith, did not presume to have any opinion about his conduct"

"Unfortunately, one is tempted in so-called Christendom to imagine that one has faith, without having an impression of what this means, at least not enough to be noticeable."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Socialism and Christianity

I enjoy some of the indignant reactions to the socialistic idea of "spreading the wealth", especially when those reactions come from those who call themselves christian.

Acts 4:32-35
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need"

(disclaimer: I think using a verse in this way is a sin. I've never denied being a hypocrite)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I am not a Communist and Ayn Rand is not a prophet.

When I was in college I had to read Ayn Rand's "Anthem". That started a love affair with her writing, and it also started a deeper look into the idea of capitalism, or as Ayn Rand put it, "The Virtue of Selfishness". All of her heroes--Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggert, Gail Wynand, Peter Roark, etc are idealized and romanticized as industrious, dedicated, fair, hard working, ethical champions of self made success. All of the characters tirelessly fighting against Government regulation and restrictions, fighting off legislation that would hijack the spoils of their genius and toil and redirect them to "better serve the society" as a whole, ultimately undermining well deserved personal reward and discouraging free thinking minds. Rand's writing is very engaging, although, she is writing novels based on her ideal society, just like Marx was. But, let's get a few things straight!

First of all, Ayn Rand was brought up in Communist Russia, so immediately there emerges an environment which would influence anyone with a creative mind. Second, being that she is both a fictional writer and a philosopher, she manipulates the environment in which her characters exist, creating a setting that is very realistic in certain terms, it still avoids the complexities of human nature, which becomes very colorful in a sprawling society. Like any other political or philosophical ideal, it is perpetuated in a very presumptuous way, assuming that people will behave a certain way, according to conditioned stereo types that were tattooed on the writer or thinker over a number of years. Rand's ideas are definitely valid, and should always be considered in socio-political discussions involving labor, industry and economics, although, if one takes into account her ideas, then one must also take into account the ideas of Marx, Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Keynes, etc. I'm sure you get the idea.

I'm only writing this because I saw some Fox news pundits, and other conservatives hailing Rand's ideas as a prophecy that has come to past with the emergence of "Socialism" being put in place by Obama. This is ridiculous. Haven't any of these people read even one copy of the International Socialist Review, or even one article on But let's assume for the moment that Obama is a socialist, it is only being implemented as a reaction to the economic downturn we find ourselves in, which is a result (in one way or another) of the policies of deregulation that have been in place over the last 8 years, policies that were being played out under democratic AND republican guard. It is a necessary reaction. Ayn Rand's characters thrive in a FAIR environment, one in which corporate greed, the undermining of competition and manipulation of markets is not a reality. Her characters are ones of honesty and integrity, they are welcoming of new ideas, even if they threaten their own industry. Her worlds are created with out special interests, without corrupt lobbying, without Bernie Madoffs, without the marriage of business and politics. For the purpose of her message, she ignores aspects of reality. Basically, similar to any other political or philosophical idea, it is catered and edited.

The overlying annoyance in this whole thing is that Obama is not a socialist, nor (under a normal climate) would he even be able to implement socialist policy. The only reason this is an issue is because the media is pathetic, the economic climate is so dire, and because Obama isn't the Gipper. The actions of the administration are set against an environment which evolved out of a deregulated era of industry, which allowed a wild, dangerous and careless behavior to thrive. I think it's funny that Capitalism is thought of as an idea that ultimately generates competition, in a way it does, but it is a competition that can exist at the expense of the consumer and the the laborers. Oh! how communistic I must sound!! Although, why do anti-trust laws have to exist? I was listening to NPR a while ago and a guest on one of their shows brought up a very good question--how do companies become "too big too fail?" Isn't that a failure of ideal capitalism and the free market? Or is ideal capitalism a system in which that phenomenon is encouraged...a system in which progress is made while climbing a ladder with rungs that are made up of small business, politicians, colleagues, working families, competing industries, etc?

The point is this, Ayn Rand's philosophy, would never exist as she imagines because of that consistent interruption of humanity. Her world is based on good behavior, accountability, honesty and stoic, ethical self idea that ALL NEW IDEAS are encouraged if they represent a more efficient model of production, and in turn, those new developments will play out in a way that benefits everyone, because it encourages everyone to keep pushing. Her ideal is based on the love of work and ingenuity, not the end goal of wealth. In her world, wealth is a coincidental result, and the ultimate drive for industry is personal creativity and love of that trade which gives them a sense of pride.

In closing, I wish I was Peter Roark, although, I can't imagine his character being played by any one other than Conan O'Brian.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Meg Ryan and Kierkegaard

There is a scene in the movie "You've Got Mail" where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are walking together and discussing what the screen name of Meg Ryan's AOL crush could mean. The screen name being discussed is NY152. I'll spare the details of the context in which the scene is played out. The main thing is that Meg Ryan surmises, in her heavenly adorable way, that the "152" in the screen name could refer to 152 insights into her soul. Of course, this could be considered rather euphemistic...let's be honest....anyone who has that many insights into my soul would probably make me feel awkward. But whatever, that verbose intro is all to say that while I was reading the "Works of Love" by Kierkegaard this morning, he once again pointed out one of those things that constantly bothers me about myself. Although, before I get to what he wrote, I should say that I'm not completely convinced I'm guilty of this yet. I do not want to dismiss my constant scrutiny and reflection as passive avoidance of declaring a truth that would immediately employ my convictions. Also, this is ironical coming from Kierkegaard, he is extremely analytical. Never the less, when I read it, it was fantastic.

"'What is love?' has ben asked out of curiosity, and frequently there has been an idle fellow who in answering has latched one to the curious fellow, and these two, curiosity and idleness, think so much of each other they almost never tire of each other or of asking and answering."

"But Christianity, which does not relate itself to apprehension but to action, has the characteristic of answering and in the answer imprisoning everyone in the task. For that reason, it was dangerous for the Pharisees and the sophists and the hairsplitters and the daydreamers to ask questions of Jesus. Indeed, the questioner always got an answer, but in the answer he also got to know, in a certain sense, much too much; he received an imprisoning answer which did not ingeniously indulge in prolix conversation about the question, but with divine authority grasped the questioner and obliged him to act accordingly; whereas the questioner perhaps only desired to remain at the vast distance of curiosity or inquisitiveness or definition from himself and from doing the truth"

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Catholic sexism, Unitarian Universalism and Satanism...and Nada Surf.

I loved reading Emerson and Thoreau when I was in college. Transcendentalism is a poetic approach to life, some nice serene and self-actualizing ideas that written in a way that leaves no choice but to imagine an Eden like dream sequence in which his the motion of his pen is paralleled only by some New England river in spring. Emerson's essay entitled "Circles" was this beautiful assessment of the connectivity of all things, and God's bottom up infusion in all of it, or maybe I'm confusing that essay with another one he wrote called, "The Over-Soul". Although, now I think that those writings are mere poetry. There is nothing all that defining in the message. They culminate in a beautifully fantastical, abstract, non point. Unitarian Universalism and "Satanism" are so unimpressively similar. I am always puzzled by the aggrandizing validation of an empty thought in terms of it being labeled a "philosophy" or "movement". Essentially, both ways of thinking are nothing more than the appropriation of generally well meaning humanistic inclinations into some system, or organization of thought which, I can only guess, would never be executed consistently in a society of people whose behavior will always be subject to environment and external influence.. I wrote something about an article I read a while ago, the post was entitled "The Ethical Slut"..and basically, it is the same type of reaction to the same type of unnecessary justification of human behavior that plays out in no surprising manner when you consider certain aspects of human nature and it's interaction in a functioning society. While some application of religious or social beliefs can be quite perverse, the application of UU or Satanism really changes nothing in the order or direction of humanity, it's useless! There is no internalization of any convictions, and those convictions come only from one's own formation of ideas, which are probably dictated by one's own convenience, a convenience disguised in interpretation of "higher being which is a general God". (This idea can extend to Christianity as well)...

anyway, that was a big windbag of a rant...whatever.

What about St. Thomas Acquinas's systematic approach to theology? It's kind of boring so far, but, I did find this gem of sexism when he was talking about the creation females. I'll just quote it...

"perfect animals however possess the active power of reproduction in the male sex and the passive power of reproduction in the female sex"

"Man, however, is directed towards a still nobler vital activity (said in relation to procreation) which is knowledge"

"With respect to her particular nature, woman is somewhat deficient and misbegotten. For the active power in the male seed tends to produce a perfect male like itself, while when a female is produced, it is because of a weakness of active power or some material indisposition or some external change...."

Ahh, medieval theology and science is humorous, although, at one time, it was considered the authority. It should cause us to put our own ideas today into question.

After all of this cyclical, dead end thought, i put this song on and relax some. Sorry about the language Mom and Dad!!!