Religion, politics, psychology, education, cultural theory, philosophy – people who devote their lives to the study of these topics sometimes feel like they are studying the cement of humanity; the discipline to rule them all. But humanity isn’t a paved road with one cement that binds us. It’s a mixed media sculpture, with super glue, sticky tack, duct tape, cement and nails.
Buckminster Fuller once said that “the universe is non-simultaneously apprehended.” So, to the intellectuals, mystics and self-proclaimed profits who think they understand, who think their life’s devotion is the best way, who think they hold THE key, just remember it won’t fit in every door.
The city is
A person forest.
The city park
A person for est.
The city is
People concentrate hard
The city washes blood
Red hands of
White collar crimes on
Blue collar backs.
Evokes in me
Which is itself
The city is
The common man –
Home from work,
Covered in filth,
Pours a drink,
Sits down to unwind:
At the filth
(*Driving to Wednesday work
Following a marineairforcearmynavy
Semper fidelis veteran:
I hate his truck,
And bumper labels
And I think all American veterans
Because any child
Born under the sun
With a magnifying glass
Can burn ants.
I hate him as he
Left tombstones shadowed.
Living domestic partnerships
With drugstore flags,
The tombstones told tales
Of domestic abuse.
I hate myself
For hating him.
I hate people
That I barely know.
I hate myself
For writing poetry,
And for thinking
Poetry is art,
And for thinking I’m an artist
Because I say Poetry
And for thinking I’m making
An artistic statement
By saying I hate myself
For thinking I’m an artist
Based on my realization
Of thinking I’m an artist
For claiming poetry
Is not art
In a poem,
And so on.
But I don’t hate hate.
Is the (square) root
Of all hate.
Is the product of multiplying
Love against itself,
And fear is a factorial!)
1. Sometimes I happen upon ideas within my head that I think are marvelous, and I instantly sit down to work these ideas out into art, or craftsmanship, or utility, or for no reason but compulsion. But as I get through the work, I realize that the whole idea was fleeting and broken into pieces not fully materialized.
The meat of the work comes out instantly, because it was given to me in insight, in epiphany, and the completion of the rest will rely on a substantial amount of personal energy and commitment. So now the work gets abandoned, neglected, and every return meets me with another layer of dust, until the idea is unrecognizable. I might come back and try to complete it, but it won’t measure up to my original vision.
I don’t know… these are no more than just pixels on a screen, right?
And oh ya: Sartre something or other, blah blah, because hell is…
(a short essay)
Eastern philosophies have always concerned themselves with paradox. From Buddhism, to Zen, to Taoism, to Hinduism, the perception of paradox lies outside of mere observation and encompasses almost a loose dogma in which paradox becomes a sort of “WWJD” for life’s dilemmas. Ethical questions are answered with contradictions, and absurdity becomes the basis for understanding reason. A question might be answered with a paradox or enigma to get the asker to un-think the initial question; a casual undoing of thought. One of the most well-known examples of this was when a monk asked Dongshan Shouchu – an ancient Chinese Zen teacher – what the Buddha was. Dongshan replied, “This flax weighs three pounds.” However, with the emphasis of paradox and contradiction in Eastern philosophy, these philosophies have become the embodiment of paradox themselves. Here is why:
Although several differences exist between these Eastern schools of philosophical thought, there is an underlying cement that binds them all together. This is the notion of “oneness.” Nearly every Eastern philosophy pushes this idea that individuality and separateness are illusions; that the universe – a word derived from the Old Latin “unus,” meaning ‘one’ – is a singular organism. As Alan Watts put it, “For ‘you’ is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new.” Or Aleister Crowley, “The universe is the Practical Joke of the General at the expense of the Particular.”
Many Eastern philosophies pave a spiritual path to enlightenment. This is especially true in the case of Zen Buddhism. If one fully realizes the teachings of the creed, he or she can become “enlightened.” Enlightenment is to be one of the highest attainments of life’s journey. This sets up a very obvious dichotomy between the enlightened and the unenlightened.
Now here is the paradox: Why concern yourself with the individual enlightenment of people if you believe the universe and everything in it to be one? If everything in existence is the embodiment of one breath, one process that works as a whole and doesn’t contain individual pieces, doesn’t the preoccupation with getting the illusionary pieces of this whole realize their innate reality sound ridiculous? If everything is one, then getting people to realize this becomes arbitrary, because that would be to define people as individual, the very concept you attempt to dispel. Thus, all philosophies that teach the “oneness” of the universe contradict themselves by supposing that there are individuals that need to be taught.
Disclaimer: I do not intend to claim that Eastern philosophies are ‘wrong’ in their beliefs. As an old Taoist poet once said, “the conflict between right and wrong is the sickness of the mind.”
I submitted this poem to a Los Angeles poetry journal, and naturally they rejected it, so I decided to edit it and add some.
Cumming of a Creed
What we need
Is the cumming
Of a creed:
A doctrine of divinity that
Hurls human from slumber
To strikes of wonder.
Your spirit animal.
It shall be of us,
In the Abrahamic tradition.
It shall encompass
And end compass
Guiding us astray
To the ashtrays
Of our minds
Where thoughts are pinched out
Laying in heaps
Of perceptual filters,
Yet shielding the Formica countertop
From collecting dust.
It shall explode
Upon the Hiroshima
Of humdrum humanity,
Of dismal dailies.
It shall be a specter haunting. You erupt
27 years later
When the values
That vested you
Are vaporized off your body by
Napalm napalm napalm napalm napalm
During Vietnamese Kodak moments
That warp your face
Into Edvard Munch hallucinations
Of harrowing beauty.
It shall Socratically “WHY?” you
While you worry “why YOU?”
Until your ever present thoughts
Strip the Y U
From intellectual ubi-quity,
And you declare “I know nothing”
For the second time.
It shall deflower your comprehension
With Joycean oceans
Of cryptic cry,
And it won’t call the next day.
Or the next.
It shall be
The flower of truth,
Waiting to descend
Once “what thou wilt”
Wilts petals into wonder.
And word thunder
As long as
And tongues tumble
All down to the bottom,
Because even this
Fall has an autumn.
This might severely taint my reputation, but I couldn’t pass it up, so here we go. This week I came across a blog post that argued against same-sex marriage. You can find it here. These sort of conversations/posts aren’t typically my cup of tea, but every once in a while I get the inclination to be an asshole, so I wrote a response.
Now, my response is completely satire. Please don’t take me at my word. If you spend enough time on the internet, you begin to see a lot of arguments sprout up in comment feeds (especially on YouTube) and they tend to go nowhere. So, I prefer to use satire (whether it’s actually funny is debatable) when voicing my opinion to things I don’t like, rather than bickering about it.
That’s where you come in. You see, I would much rather see what you have to say. Below is the comment feed between myself and “The Solitary Conservative.” I’m in blue and he’s in red (at least I think it’s a he). Please feel free to leave comments at the bottom. I won’t be restricting anything from going in, so say whatever you really feel, and maybe we’ll at least get something interesting out of this. Here’s the full version, including the comments that “The Solitary Conservative” blocked.
I completely agree with your position. It makes so much sense! Gays should not be allowed to marry because they can’t make babies, and babies are awesome, and our world needs as many babies as it can get. If marriage is about making babies, and gays can’t make them, then of course they shouldn’t be allowed to marry.
I can understand where you’re coming from because, being adopted myself, my parents couldn’t reproduce properly but they still chose to get married. I always thought this was wrong growing up, and said “mom and dad, I love you, but you shouldn’t be married. Marriage is all about making babies.” And my mom would always come back with something about ovarian cancer, but she’s wrong and God agrees with me that she’s wrong. It’s like I was telling my friend yesterday, “black people should not be allowed to live in our society.” I wasn’t saying that they should be killed, I was just saying that they should live in their own special area. The dictionary definition of society says “society is a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests.” And black people have like Kwanza and rap and stuff, and totally don’t fit the definition of what society should be. Sorry for the rant, but I’m really trying to say that I agree with you completely: Fags shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and blacks should go back to Africa. Keep the faith strong, and God bless. Peace.
Thanks for the comment, but how does this respond to any of what I said?
I was merely boasting of your immense logical capacity! Marriage is obviously all about sex, and sex is all about making babies, and gays can’t make babies so they can’t get married. Duh. And wasn’t it Carl Sagan who proved that gay marriage is the leading cause of black holes?
You say it’s a “metaphysical impossibility” for gays to get married, even though there are plenty of gays who are legally married, and for that I even envy your ability to brush away plain truth and implement your own brand of personal logic. You laugh reason, virtue, love, and humanity in the face. I’m on your side man, those qualities are for pussies and liberals and faggots. The world needs more men like us to tell people how they should live their lives!
Anyway, I’m sure God will send all the gays to Hell anyway because “God hates faggots,” or whatever my minister keeps repeating. Keep up the great posts, and maybe one day we will finally have a government that is man enough to fully piss on the egalitarian ideal.
Sarcasm aside, you’ve done nothing to address my argument. I daresay that you’re acting quite like a bigot.
“You say it’s a “metaphysical impossibility” for gays to get married, even though there are plenty of gays who are legally married”
This goes to show that you don’t understand my argument. Calling same-sex couples married is one thing, being actually married is another. If, as I argue, marriage is rooted in the biological realities of human nature, then same-sex marriage is a logical impossibility, despite the fact that we may label such arrangements as marriages. Calling a dog’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. The same principle applies here.
Naw man, WE’RE bigots. Bigots as in “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics.” I mean, we both strongly identify with conservatism, right… and Christianity?
I’m sorry if I come off sarcastic; my beliefs can be a little extreme. But I sympathize with your cause completely. Marriage is totally not a concept of human construction. It exists just as physically as a “dog’s tail.” Marriage can’t be what the dictionary supposes as, “A union between persons that is recognized by custom or religious tradition as a marriage.” The dictionary was written by faggot loving liberals. Marriage is biological, and being gay totally isn’t.
No, you’re acting bigoted in the sense that you refuse to engage with the arguments of the opposition, choosing instead to respond with satire instead of a well-reasoned argument.
Once again, you still haven’t engaged with my arguments, so your comments are now moderated. Further sarcasm will not be approved. I expect all commenters here to engage rationally with my arguments. Those who don’t lose the privilege of commenting.
Oops… I thought there was well-reasoned argument in my satire. I always found satire more fun than argument when interacting in text, so I’m not looking to launch into a full online debate with the written word. It lacks too many elements of rhetoric. I was just having fun.
So, in brief, marriage is a concept, a ceremony, a tradition, etc. It does not physically exist as you presume. People might be biologically attracted to each other, but the institution of marriage is constructed from belief, not tangible reality.
Personally, when it comes to defining the concepts within my own belief system (which I like to abbreviate as BS) I like to make them all-inclusive, and promote, to the best possible degree, a sense of equality. If you prefer to outcast certain sects (not to be confused with sex) from your BS, and create a reality for yourself that only includes people like you, that’s your thing.
“So, in brief, marriage is a concept, a ceremony, a tradition, etc. It does not physically exist as you presume. People might be biologically attracted to each other, but the institution of marriage is constructed from belief, not tangible reality.”
I gave an argument that marriage is a biological reality grounded in human nature — specifically, the proper purpose of sex. Merely asserting your contrary opinion is not a refutation of it. You need an argument to warrant your conclusion.
“I like to make them all-inclusive, and promote, to the best possible degree, a sense of equality.”
This begs the question. The meaning of “equal” will depend on the nature of the thing being discussed. To treat people equally is to give them all the rights that they deserve, but what they deserve is the very issue being debated. To know what people deserve, we need to have some grasp of the nature of the thing in question. But if there is no such thing as an objective standard in which marriage is grounded, then the idea of “equality” in the marriage debate makes absolutely no sense. So ironically, in order to invoke the equality argument, marriage must be something other than a mere social construct.
I saw him on my ride to work.
waving from the side of a brick building
telling me his toothpaste will keep my teeth whiter than the rest.
I saw him again laying in my neighbor’s front yard,
sticking himself from ground, telling me who deserves my vote.
he interrupts my favorite shows and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and takls and talks.
I stopped watching television because I’m terrified of him.
he didn’t go away.
I can’t even watch a movie anymore without him stepping on screen for a cameo.
he proudly wears new clothing, imprinted with big letters telling others where he came from.
I’m constantly finding him in my mailbox… I throw him in the waste, but he comes back daily
always looking for attention.
he’s schizophrenic and obsessive compulsive, but I don’t think he knows it.
he turns commodity into necessity by exploiting peoples’ insecurities.
he taught the Joneses the rules of one-upmanship.
he stands on street corners, whoring himself to the public, proclaiming his love for God and country.
he is God and country. (they were created in his own image)
the minds of good people have eroded in his wake.
he wants everyone to share his taste in music…
his sense of fashion…
“The unexamined life IS worth living!” he shouts.
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Technologies, such as paper, eyeglasses, mechanical clocks, roadways, or any other extension of the human spirit, have forever changed the operational facilities of life. They have influenced the level of productivity that a society can achieve by creating extensions of our individually limited capacities. For example, eyeglasses enabled the workers of medieval times to extend their careers by several years, giving workers clarity of sight even in old age. Eyeglasses have also lead to the development of precision tools by focusing the eyes on mechanical detail. Similarly, the Gutenberg press, and other printing innovations, have allowed for mass publication of news and ideas, while also raising the level of collective literacy.
Of course, with every new stride in technological development, there comes with it a certain level of consequence. Certain technologies have both benefited human society as well as thrown in obstacles, limiting the scope of potential efficiency. They have propelled our minds into a wealth of information, and they have sedated our minds with visions on the screen. A long list of automated, prerecorded options on a company’s voicemail might save time and money for the company, but it also severely limits the level of communication and customer satisfaction. One could even argue that the mechanical clock, although allowing us to organize our day, has lead to procrastination; since it is much easier to put something off till the last minute when one knows when the last minute is.
The question of whether or not technology as a whole has helped or hurt our human species could be equally supported on both sides. Sometimes there is no concise answer to such inquiries. What can be agreed upon is that technologies have influenced immense change and have completely revolutionized how we live as human animals.
David Landes says in his essay The Invention of Invention that, “Government rests on paper.” Although it might be more accurate to say that government rests on language, – Hammurabi’s ancient Babylonian code of laws were printed on clay tablets – Landes does present an interesting point: without the proper means of organizing a standardized language of rules and regulations, it is very doubtful that a government could exert control over a large nation.
By mass producing printed law and constitutional rights, governments can distribute the same standardized information to a large populace and expect a consensus of understanding. In this sense, the printed word has contributed to the rise of most governments’ ability to establish control. One only need to look to the German propaganda of the 30s and 40s to realize the large influence the printed page has on our perceptions and actions, and the propensity toward indoctrination that these manufactured perceptions have.
When it comes to the printed word, on paper that is, ideas are easy to regulate. Governments can easily burn and wipe clean the journals and papers of Wilhelm Reich, or they can distribute Mao Tse-tung’s Little Red Book to every citizen and enforce a mandatory reading.
On the other hand, digital print and media operate quite differently. It opens publication to every individual, it’s hard to stop, and it has the ability to spread like wildfire.
The birth of new digital technologies, such as the internet and smart-phones, are inciting fear within the leaders of more authoritarian governments. The regimes of China and Egypt are two contemporary examples of governments who have attempted to restrict citizens’ access to community-run websites and social networking. They are terrified of the internet’s ability to share information and organize opposition. What’s scarier for the rulers of oppressive nations than a populace that can organize and freely publish dissent? The recent explosion of Wiki-Leaks is another great example of the impact that internet technology has on government; even in our own country. The tides are turning, and governments no longer hold the restraints on media that they once had.
We are already seeing drastic changes in collective consciousness and public awareness due to technological developments that have raised the bar on global communication. With ubiquitous and instantaneous spreading of information, cultural barriers are diminishing and new ideas are being pushed to the foreground of public discussion – such as the T.E.D. conferences which are now posted online. It is also worth mentioning that during the peak of Cairo’s revolution, anyone with internet access was able to go on Youtube.com and watch the rallies and protests that Cairo citizens were publishing from their smart-phones.
The famous chant “The whole world is watching” is brought under a different light and holds new meaning than it did for the antiwar protesters of Chicago in 1968. The whole world really is watching, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for oppressive regimes to hide their citizens under their frayed cloak of ignorance. Governments might rest on paper, but they’re reformed through binary.
So I was sitting on my couch watching 90s cartoons while tactfully planning how I would prepare for a zombie apocalypse when I accidently kicked my PBR can over onto my favorite flannel. I was paying attention and all, but my fitted pants sometimes squeeze uncomfortably and send my Converse Chucks kicking out aimlessly. I’ve been told I need looser fitting pants, but these were like $90 so I know they were made well and will last for a long time.
As I got up to grab a paper towel, I eyed a commercial coming on the television for Sonic, and there was a large man with his family slamming on these grease battered burgers, and I thought “thank god I’m a vegan.” Not that I believe in god. I believe that religions are brainwash to get people to follow established norms, and that all religions should be outlawed to get people thinking for themselves, like me.
I made it to the kitchen, and when I reached out for the paper towels I saw my ‘anchor’ tattoo out of the corner of my eye. I’m really into ships and pirates and anything that has a rugged, seaward look. I have a skull and crossbones on my chest too. I think they’re rad, and they define me as an individual.
I’d say my favorite band is the Decemberists because they like to sing about ships and stuff like that. They look like they’re from the days of antiquity, or whatever, and that’s totally rad. Lately I’ve been getting into a lot of dubstep.
Anyway, I grabbed the paper towels and started to wipe the spilt beer, when my glasses fell off my face again. This happens sometimes when I tilt my head down, because my rims are so thick, but they represent my bookish, philosophical side so I have to just remind myself to keep a level head. Not in the sense of the idiom, but literally.
With my paper towels in hand, I walked out of the kitchen and passed the birthday card my girlfriend got for me on the fridge. I had to stop and read it again, because it’s fricken hilarious. The front has a kitten wearing a sweater, and he has a mustache and a sombrero. The kitten is looking majestically off into the sunset, and the inside of the card says, “I hope you have a birthday as random as you are.” Haha lol. Rofl. Kittens are the bee’s knees, and anything with a moustache is genius. Where do they come up with this stuff!?!
Sitting back on the couch, another commercial came on. This one was for American Eagle Outfitters. I can’t believe people can be manipulated by these advertisements into conforming to a style. I mean, all these people look the same. I tend to stray from cultural norms and do my own thing. I don’t let the adman tell me how to think.
1. Life is lived
So serene from
Slumped and slouched.
2. The foundation
Is the cell
3. All things
But these stems too
Needs no expertise
When it can be Googled.
4. The screen
Is a feeling
That is reeling
Us from what
Start with the premise:
It’s all been done
End with the conclusion:
To innovate is delusion.
The brain of Twain
Developed the maxim,
A historical axiom,
That the recurrence of time
Does not repeat but rhyme.
Slant rhymes, I presume, must be included
In history’s wrappings, riddled and clued.
Perfect rhymes are written and glued
By the victors of war –
Or maybe history doesn’t
Rhyme at all,
Nor does it have a Dal segno.
Rather, history is an echo
Off the walls of Plato’s cave.