"Where's Waldo?" (source lost)
I apologize that I do not know German. But I think I still have a right to appropriate all mankind's heritage of symbolic forms (semiosis) for enjoyment in my own living and to communicate in a serious + playful way with others.
Every agglomeration of homo sapiens "lebendige gewesen" (living beings) is anti-philosophy to the extent that, in their living present, the individual persons become just part of the agglomeration ("group", "people"). Only if the individual who, to a spectator appears to be a particle in a sociological colloidal suspension, is thinking something like: "I'm doing this for such and such a reason, to get whatever out of it, so I just have to pretend I'm part of this thing", is thinking inside a group possible. How sad that persons would have to expend any part of their always too short lives this way. As Martin Heidegger wrote: "Es gibt" ((POTUS №45) Donald J. Trump: "It is what it is."). Philosophers need to be issued air sickness bags as well as scholarly tomes in the present so-called society.
Philosophers also need to beware the seductive song of the Sirens: Just because a person looks down their nose at football head butters does not mean they do not perform in a symphony orchestra, or, even more déclassé: participate in a symphony audience (the performers have to earn their daily bread; the members of the audience are choosing to spend their good money to be there). The performers at least often know what they are being subjected to, as (per a New Yorker magazine article, now lost) when a performer near the percussion section drags a refrigerator's cardboard delivery carton to work, to try to partially baffle the hearing-damaging noise he or she must endure for the delight of the audience. (Applause! "Encore!") As they say or at least use to say in IBM Corporation: "".
After reading Heidegger about Anaximander, I hypothesize I have some idea about how in philopedagogyy classes the little we referenced Mr. Thales about was just superficial people running their mouths off about what they had been told by other superficial people who in their turn and on and on it goes back to some superficial Prime Mover or other. The source of all things is water and all things are full of gods? Well, that's pretty naive, isn't it? But "all things? Is that just all the lumps of stuf fin teach's socio-physical surround, including the weeds in the grass in the courtyead outside the classroom and us student lumps which o=bviously have a geater internal faculty of motion than the weeds, etc.? Suppose the iportant part is the Mr. Thales thought about an "all" which was not just a bunch of stuff but rather a thinking about every, i.e.: each thing as part of experiencing, i.e: some – space – thing experienced, period?
Then the interesting thing here is that Mr. Thales is not just pre-refletively living through, or being lived by his days on this side of the topsoil, but thinking about the fact that – the fact that he is living out his days on this side of the topsoil and what he is living through, which is only, to borrow Husserlean nomenclature: only the noematic pole – of his experiencing is just part of the whole, not the whole thing itself. Maybe Mr. Thales was reflecting, not just willing and representing without being an observer of he is doing so. A kind of reduction, not just subsisting in Husserl's so-called "natural attitude". Then the "water" part is secondary. All things could be chewing gun, or coalesced menstrual flow or anything else, such as quarks – that is secondary to having become aware of being aware, and being much "struck" ("taken") by this. Sort of like the silly thing they told us in school because they must have thought it was silly, about the man who one day realizes he has been writing prose all his life, yawn. But that is important: Before that the man was just being like my school teachers who told the funny story: not reflecting on what they were doing. "Gee, I've been writing prose all my life Why was I doing this?. Is it what I want to do going forward? Gotta think about this some more now...."
And all things are full of souls? Isn't that better than them being hollow gourds [bats in the belfry] like the brain cavity ("Is there a dentist in the house?") of my prep school's headmaster? And let us remember that the humanist architect Louis Kahn famously had a conversation with a brick (I prefer cobblestones). Surely he did not mean the Jack Ziegler cartoon of the depressed lady whose toaster tries to cheer her up by telling her "You are special: you have a talking toaster!"?
So there you have it: Thales is the first reported person in the Mediterranean world to have thought about being as opposed to just beings, such as merchandise in the market, e.g.: stocks and bonds in the New York Stock Exchange. Superficial people spend their time on this earth doing superficial things, such as shuffling banknotes.
"The medium is the message." (Marshall McLuhan)
I have long wondered about Mr. Plato. To be fully transparent, I admit I haven't read anything of his for a very long time because I never found a reason to do so. Maybe Rabelaisean "the good company of men" would be a reason if they were reading Plato.
Maybe Plato was wiser than the substance of the arguments in some of his dialogs looks. If yes, why didn't he have a dialog: On Dialog? [What about The Symposium? I never thought of focusing on the frame or the relationship between picture and frame, instead of focusing just on the picture inside the frame, in any Platonic dialog.] Or maybe he did, just my teachers didn't clue me in on the fact that the arguments were just stage props. I found the content of the dialogs we read (e.g.: The Theaetetus, huh?) insufficiently appealing to go searching more of them to try to find either an unknown dialog, or hidden/hiding in plain sight meanings in the dialogs we did study. Why didn't my teachers teach this? That is an interesting anthropological-philosophical question.
Martin Heidegger wrote: Questioning is the piety of thinking. Students! Question your teachers; don't just get distracted by the red herring to answer the questions they assign you to answer. "Why are you asking me this question? What's in it for me besides that you can give me a bad grade if I don't obey you?" What grade does your teacher get on this assignment? If you can freely give him or her an "A", you've got a treasure well worth your effort to contribute to his or her course.
Socrates was about 71 years old when he died. How many years did he have left on this earth? Did he maybe have heart disease or incipient renal failure or prostate cancer? Who knows? So he had some fun with some boys and said some naughty words – enough to get himself tried and found guilty. He could have left town; he had friends, even in high places. He could just not have been in-your-face at his trial. He could have died quietly and privately in his bed. But what immortal fame would have there have been in that?
We know the classical Greeks were into great words and shining deeds, 'aka:, good PR. What could possibly be better PR than [secretly! Everybody should think he was victim!] staging a martyrdom when you may have had a lot of aches and pains or are just world-weary and tired of playing with boys anyway? My guess is Socrates, in some way, wanted to die, but in a way that would assure his forever being a college reading list poster boy. Maybe he even have believed in an afterlife? In any case, he did not seem to value going on living very much. Maybe hemlock doesn't taste bad, and maybe dying by slow loss of sensation wasn't too bad? As a scientist, Socrates may even have found the phenomenon interesting?
I nominate guru Socrates for Hypocrite of the Year 399 BCE. And Mr. Plato for his Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Minister of Propaganda). Give me Heraclitus, about whose personal life I know nothing. Or give me Diogenes of Sinope who was an honorable citizen of the world and a flaming anti-hypocrite. I am not "into" the negative meta-physics of sublunary stars and their non-HVAC fans. As the little girl who started out life with her face as the picture on donut packages said: "First of all, I'm Debbie the person!"
Let's face it: Mr. Socrates was a self-conceited slob who committed suicide at his government's expense (he should have paid for the hemlock).
Let us turn our attention to all those treasonous clerks who fronted for him all these years: hack college philosophy teachers. What was in it for them to tell college kids to worship a man who just liked a drink in the afternoon, and was too stupid to think that you cannot publish after you've perished? Mr. Socrates seemed to be into studying the effects of hemlock on the human body but he didn't last long enough to write up his findings, did he? If assisted suicide was not legal in Athens at the time, why weren't all the people around him when he became overtly suicidal arrested (Mr. Socrates was free to leave Athens and go live with rich friends in another polis)? Let's all rehabilitate Protagoras who said that man, not Mr. Socrates, was the measure of all things? This guy was a consummate con artist. He scammed them all, including his Dr. Joseph Goebbels: Mr. Plato, who I think also had his angle: himself gaining immortal fame for being the creep's PR man. Let them all pay a vanity press to publish Mr. Plato's writings, preferably on acid paper.
Mr. Socrates should have done the right thing and have gone into the toilet, locked the door and drank his aperitif there, leaving a suicide note apologizing for having mooched off rich foppish kids' parents' money. I know exactly what he would have done with me, just like the psychologist licensed by the State of New York who told me I could not have a sense of decency unless I gave up even the bed I slept in. Mr. Socrates would have asked me twisted questions to which he who coyishly pretended he knew nothing damned well knew the answers or that the questions were just cynical ploys to humiliate people, and he and his toadies would have watched me squirm or if I tried to call him out, laughed like hyenas at how irrational and insane I was for not kowtowing to his prigness. His goal would have been to get me to agree that I did not deserve to live until after I had killed myself in the service of his selfish whim, which he misleadingly labelled: "The Good" → the good for him! Got it?
I find nothing wrong with this creep, so long as nobody knew he existed. RIP (Rot In Place), Mr. Socrates, who. because he had bad taste, probably never said:
I now think I understand: "Man is the measure of all things." It's tricky. For I think an unhonorable man is not the measure of anything except the mismeasure or his or her own lack of honorableness. But, if we consider only persons who are decent, or deep thinkers, or just martyrs, et. al., now it makes sense to me: All things that were, are, may become or just can be imagined and everything else needs to measured by how it compares to a good person. Stones do not measure up because they do not have empathy. Ditto mean-spirited hominids. So, yes, an honorable person is a measure of all things. Each person can also measure all things, separating the sheep from the goats, etc. Each person can be a measure and a measurer, or, just something that can be measured pending [re]habilitation. Mr. Plato, anti-"Sophist" propagandist, never said Protagoras was a less than honorable person or a prig teach or a pederast, or did he?
I never learned about Diogenes of Sinope in school, except maybe that he was a man who lived in a barrel
and that he was a Cynic (what were cynics? presumably nothing good?),
but I may have learned these things outside of school. Why did I look him up? Because I decided to
investigate whether something was true, and it indeed turns out to be. The New York City Health Department has recommended: "You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex." ("Safer Sex and Covid-19", 8 June 2020). Why would I be interested in this?
Because in my ethnicity of origin
self-pleasuring was not part of the curriculum, even
in situations they fabricated to have no females, but if there were females,
then In loco parentis (i.e., parents are insane) would have brought to bear.
While I'm off on this digression, my reader, you, my reader,
may be interested to learn that in my
prep perp school in the seventh grade, two of my
classmates were expelled for having oral sex in the students' rest room,
where: (0) they had single-gender genital exposing "locker rooms" in another building for pubescent male athletes (who surely
were among the most highly testosteroned of hominids), (1) there
were no doors on the toilet stalls in the boys' toilet room, and (2) there was a staircase in the
boys' toilet room which teachers routinely
used to get from one floor of the building to another, i.e., there was no [respect for] student privacy.
Continuing the regression, we arrive at the information that Diogenes masturbated in public to demonstrate the contradiction between reason and social conventions, a contradiction which I have long believed is pervasive in the American middle-class hypocracy, and which I have recently discovered the British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion also thought, describing social conventions as: "shared hallucinoses" aka social psychoses.
Diogenes said he was not a citizen of any particular polity, but that he was a citizen of the whole world. He presumably therefore had no native land to die for, for which it would be sweet and fitting ("Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"? An American folk song answers: "It ain't me you're talkin' to"). Once, while Diogenes was sunning himself, Alexander the Great came up to him and offered to grant him any request. Diogenes asked that Alexander move aside a bit because he was blocking his sunlight.
From what I have read on Wikipedia of him, maybe Diogenes, were he still with us, might agree with my exhortations: "A pox on all prudes!" and "Political correctness not spoken here." Surely it would not have beyond him to say, and mean: "Piss on 'em!"
Looking thru Wikipedia and finding they have good documentation of the house Wittgenstein designed, I also discovered that he thought most people where despicable and subhuman: "human beings on the average are not worth much anywhere", etc. Why didn't they teach me that in philosophy class? I found his "Tractatus logico-philosophicus" mostly incomprehansible, and "Philosophical Investigations" superficial (I did not see suffering and death anywhere in that book, for one item). But his antianthropism makes very good sense to me; I've always felt most of the people in my social surround of origin were
from an inferior species for the most part and most of the time, things I had to put up with, what I might now call: Potemkin persons.
A snob is a person who gets off on being better than, or rather: looking down their nose at other people. An elitist is a person who is discouraged that there are people lesser than himself. The snob's sense of self worth would be vitiated if there were no people he could look down his nose at (obviously Tycho Brahe was not a snob, since he lost his nose in a duel). The elitist would be relieved if there were people he had to look down on. Snobbery is comparative, like winning; the elitist stands on his own merit, and the intrinsic value of what he enjoys and desires.
There is no humanistic way to deal with snobs, unless maybe one can get them to choke on their own words; it is fortunate that they are mortal. The problem with elitists would be solved if everybody who was lesser than themselves would get raised up to their level, either by their own endeavors, or with societal (e.g.: government) assistance.
I think William F. Buckley Jr. (right) may have been a snob, but obviously I am not sure of that. I myself am definitely an elitist. Of course I would be unhappy if there were a zillion persons ike myself: if they did not keep social distance. I would not want Yawveh or Allah to invade my personal space, and if there are masses (not the liturgical kind) in Heaven, I would not want to be in the goddamned disgusting place.
End [wage-]slavery. Educate all the poor (and also banal people like many investment bankers). Raise every person up, don't drag anybody down. But I can well understand the hatred of the Trumpies for the intelligentsia, especially since the latter often do little to help the former. As John F. Kennedy famously said:
"Each new morning when I wake up I ask myself what can I do for my country today? Since my country has done so much for me in the past and I can look forward to it doing even more for me this new day and forever more. Unlike many other Americans who may rightly feel shortchanged, my country has done so much for me that my heart could burst to give back when so much has to me been given. I love you, America.💗"
This section moved to: Alienation.html#Steiner. Click here.
This section moved to: Alienation.html#Alienation. Click here.
When I was a college Freshman (1964), I read the then newly-published English translation of "Being and Time". I guess one might say I grew up Heidegger. This was back before all the bad stuff about the man was publicized. I learned about das Man, for an instantiation of which one might today cite Professor Heidegger, himself. One thing I learned from his writings (ref. lost): If you can't find your eyeglasses anywhere, check your nose. That is a parable. In 2020/22 it's politically correct, I believe, to excoriate Heidegger (am I wrong here? kick the cat?). And he seems to deserve it. Someone quoted George Steiner as referring to Heidegger as a "small man". I diagnose him as emotionally challenged. Unlike Asperger's Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger's emotional impairment was not benign.
Nor, do I think, is his philosophy as deep as his teacher Edmund Husserl's thought. Lederhosen fetishizing faux-peasant nostalgia by a philosophy full professor is pathetic at best. It seems to me MH betrayed his mentor, Edmund Husserl, for the sake what? Was he really so "out of it" as to believe in the reality of racial-ethnic myths? What was MH like in bed? The kitschmensch commeth. But making fun of MH, just like making fun of DJT, is not really useful except to distract us from our pain.
Heidegger had a lot of good stuff to say, and also a lot of less good but no less worthy of being thought about stuff. Item: Hopefully Heraclitus would not sign up for "The Principle of Reason"; what Heidegger writes there is chilling. Do you have terminal cancer, Debbie (JAMA. 1988 Jan 8;259(2):272)? Es gibt. DJT's Mick Mulvaney has expressed the lemma of this nihilistic idea: "Get over it."
Taking death seriously is important, ever moreso in 2020 than in Heidegger's own Post-World War II life (died 1976). Would that he had also thought or at least wrote more about dying, i.e., the suffering of humble human creatures (ref.: Elsa Morante's "History: A novel"). Did Heidegger have a dying (e.g., not die in his sleep). If yes, what happened there? How did he handle it? What did he think about it?
Angst and loss of meaning are important. Holzwege (loggers' paths in the forest) are a good metaphor anent studying. But I doubt Martin Heidegger was any Abraham Lincoln (log splitter) or arborist. If I recall correctly: "Questioning is the piety of thinking", "What endures in thinking is the process of thinking ('the path')", not the always provisional, pro tem, results as of any given moment. "Build for the sake of dwelling for the sake of thinking" (BMcC translations). Those are powerful thoughts. The first two are indictments of orthodoxifying clerics (e.g., Iraq's Ali Khamenei, or Adolf Hitler). The third is an indictment of so-called architects who do not even aspire to rise to the ethical and pedagogical level of Louis I. Kahn, irrespective of their abililty or lack of ability to achieve it.
Even if MH was a Mengele of the spirit, let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. All semiosis is raw material for self-accountable, self-reflective [re-]appropriation to make living more ethically constructive and also enjoyable. I do not want to be a naif lost on a Holzweg; I honor honest loggers and would aspire to be one, at least metaphorically (I know one real one). Angst is angst, but soul-murder is also murder most foul (cf.: Bob Dylan). MH does not seem to have thought about the extraction of surplus value; we can find other sources to help us think about that. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess 5:21)
Msrtin Heidegger's "das Man" ("the one"), the inauthentic inner person, needs to be complemented by its outer manifestation, which I will denominate: "die Sie" ("the them"). Das man is inauthentic on the inside, but he or she or other de-authenticates persons and things on the outside, with a kind of anti-Midas touch which transmutes all value into dreck.
"das Man" did not childrear or school me: das Man is nobody in particular and everybody in general. We may speak ot this das Man and that das Man, on up to maybe7.94 * 10 ** 9 das Mans. But that does not sound very focussed. It's almost like Odysseus's reply to the Cyclops when the latter demanded to know who put out his eye: "Nemo" (nobody) did it.
My tor-mentors were not nobody and they were not everybody: They were William Clinton Burriss Young and S. Atherton Middleton and his prig secretary (Miss – was she a perma-virgin?) Lillian Lorenz, and some others I still (December 2020) will not name for fear of reprisals. They were my "the them": specific, specifiable individual persons who did harm to me.
Are "die Sie" Frederick Nietzsche's "Last Man"? I don't know if they have all sunk so low that they can no longer despise themselves. I don't think it really matters. As Joseph Welch asked Joseph R.McCarthy:
"You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
I, for one, wouldn't bet on it. The them are smug, easily take offense when "crossed", and often have social power to cause trouble. They may begin with the possessive, intrusive mother who has no "boundaries" and will not let her child individuate, or the polar opposite extreme mother who acts on the premise that her child should not exist at all (abortion on demand should avert some cases of this, but not all).
There is a Picasso painting: "First Steps", with which I have identified from the first time I saw the child's tortured face, as the [my?] hovering, intrusive mother (right). I think Pablo Picasso was a neurologically damaged sociopath, whose face looked to be subhuman.
"Was man made for God, or was God made for man?" (BMcC)
Walter J. Ong, SJ was a Jesuit priest. He was also a profound philosopher. What was Walter Ong's notion of G-d? As a teenager I attended an Episcopal church preparatory school where the chemistry teacher said that nobody could believe in God in the 20th century and he only got in trouble with the school administration for this when a mentally challenged student heard it. I became a defiant a[nti]theist at that school.
I think there's got to be more to G-d than the idea of a big Mafia Don slouching on a big Barcalounger somewhere over the rainbow, looking down on the astronomical universe with such high resolution eyesight and such massive multiprocessing computing power that He concurrently monitors in detail the mind of every descendant of Adam and Eve, 24/7/365.25, all 7.94 * 10 ** 9 of them (us), for erotic and ideologically heretical and other unacceptable thoughts and feelings. And He can do all this without having a split personality? Meanwhile, He also manages Heaven and Purgatory, even if He delegates supervision of the damned in Hell to
Texas Democrat Congressman Martin Dies Jr. the Devil. ~ If there is a G-d, surely G-d can do better than that, or even wiser mortals can do better.
Then there is mysticism. Persons have many different kinds of non-standard sensory experiences, and I read that many of these are attributed to G-d. The experiences seem to be real enough. Physicists talk about wierd things like worm holes in space-time, so why not other kinds of non-quotidian phenomena? Maybe G-d is indeed Protean? "Seek and ye shall find" (Matt 7:7)? To a person with only a hammer, everything is a nail? Seriously, if there is something good out there (or in here), I don't want to miss out on it.
Thinking more about monks (and, mutatis mutandis, nuns). Perhaps the Holy Virgin does give them a blessing (blessings are symbolic forms) to make their cloistered nights something to look forward to and not just a test of, as St. Paul said of males in regard to marriage, whether they would burn? That would be good. It would also be understandable why hypocrites, lay or of the cloth, would not know about this, since, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn writes was a watchword in the Gulag: If you find something, don't tell anybody; if you lose something, don't tell anybody.
I do not need neo-Scholastic academic philosophy department employees expending much casuistry proving the existence of something they spend little effort elucidating in differentiable/imaginatively evocative detail. "G-d is omnipotent. Isn't that enough for you, you infidel?" "Not at all. How will I distinguish G-d from the Devil? Because He doesn't have a red arrow-tipped tail? What about imposters? How can I tell the real G-d from a fake?" "Satan, get thee hence!" "Bye, then. Thank you for your help, Sir."
From my schooling, I learned that a lot of philosophers spend a lot of effort trying to prove God exists. What's the point? Suppose God is not good. Then would it not be better for Him not to Exist?
I do not see these concept bean-counters spending much effort proving the attributes of the big X they are trying to prove exists. God is Omnipotent? Well, so is Big Brother. And my mother intimidated me as a small child to be nice around Xmas because Santa Claus was watching me both when I was sleeping and also when I was awake to monitor whether I'd been bad or good so I better watch out and behave, and not cry about it, either. What a creep!
Atheism seems to me not rationally defensible: It is difficult to prove that something does not exist anywhere, since we cannot exhaust the search space. God might be hiding in a spider hole in Tikrit, Iraq, like Saddam Hussein. Zen: If I meet God on the road, you better believe I will take Him seriously, because He can turn me into a piilar of salt, lickety-split. I will sign a confession when He shows me the instruments of torture. Eppur si muove. And if He zaps my brain for thinking bad thoughts, Son of Sam or Jeffrey Dahmer or any Mafia hit man could do that too. An unethical psychology experiment by a Harvard psychology professor arguably created The Unabomber. I think agnosticism is the proper choice for those of us who, for worse of for better, have not met the Deity in the flesh.
However, anti-theism can be an entirely rational choice. I think we should hate/despise the sadist who jerked Job around, and who commanded Abraham to murder his son. The Dude who messed up everybody's heads at Babel was just having a big hissy fit. If I was Omnipotent, would a few mortals I'd created building a low-tech radio transmitter really threaten me? Are adult male lions threatened by their cubs attacking their tails?
Let Him explain how nobody except convicted felons ever gets
cancer punished. Let Him
explain why He let His own Son be crucified. Even if Jesus got a pass in the long run, did he have fun on the cross?
God's ways are inscrutable? Then He must be irrational, and, on the other hand, how can anybody prove
the existence of anything they cannot understand, for if you cannot understand something you don't even know what you
are talking about.
So I say: atheism is not rational. For many persons, agnosticism is the only reasonable way to go. Keep an open mind! Antitheism or Theophilia (or whatever) should be a choice based on how each individual judges his or her or other's lifeworld. Do you, my reader, want to be Job (in college I was told the happy ending of the story of Job is a later glue-on)?
Everybody know that Theodore John Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, made bombs and killed innocent people. what is I think less popularly known is that he is likely a victim of a tragic infancy and a failure of the United States of America's higher education establishment.
First things first: TK was a happy baby until he had a severe case of hives and was placed in isolation in a hospital for some weeks. After that he was deeply withdrawn. The message here? Sensitive children need nurtruring childrearing (maybe less sensitive children need nurturing childrearing, also, to help them become more sensitive?), or else they may not just get hurt but also hurt others in – conscious or subconscious- - revenge for the hurt thatt was done to them. Is this philosophy? Even Edmund Husserl wrote that a revolution which was needed in philosophy (including the philosophy of the exact mathematical sciences), entailed, among other things, a revolution in childrearing (albeit this was not one of the leitmotifs of his work; psychoanalysts like Donald Winnicott and Alice Miller are more detailed sources here – and are they not philosophers, albeit of life and not logic?).
The second part of my thesis here is more direct. The Unabomber's manifesto and Eminent Professor Jacques Ellul's books on technology share important ideas. But Ellul is/was an Eminent professor in the humanities, whereas to the best of my understanding TK was only given the training appropriate to mathematical genius. Indeed at Harvard, TK learned about what I will call: anti-personnel psychology, by being one of it one of its guinea pigs. Whatever grade he got in that course, he learned something about philosophy from it, namely, that some persons who have have doctoral degrees can brutalize other people and get paid to do it. Auschwitz is applied philosophy, too.
Sensitive persons do not always do well with being either physiologically or sociologically/psychologicaly brutalized. I think that if TK had had a deeply empathic, deeply humanistic education as well as the technical mathematics training, he might have published scholarly books instead of bombs. I think this is existential philosophy in action: ideas about the nature of humanity and the world that mean something real. Knowledge for what?
End of story except that maybe you, my reader, have guessed that I identify with the persons and the phenomena described in this section of this webpage. As Rene Descartes who I was taught in philosophy class believed cats and dogs were mechanisms, did not write: I have a humanistic education, therefore, although I have been deeply hurt, I do not go around hurting people. Philosophy Ph.D.'s (lovers of wisdom who heal persons, taking those words literally) should not only be eminently qualified as lovers of learning to be healers of souls, but also eminently eager to apply their knowledge for the sake of satisfaction in their work and joy in their otherwise mortal lives. Does knowledge have only a technical meaning? Does not love make joy?: Did Kurt Gödel not prove that ratiocination is not everything?
Get real, man! History, as Elsa Morante's novel: "History: A novel" describes, is "little people" getting shit on. Any civilians in history's line of fire are just collateral damage.
How could any person think there is any rhyme or reason to history except maybe a full Professor of Philosophy who has tenure collecting his university paycheck and publishers' royalties in his book-lined office and writing professorially about: "Die Weltgeschichte ist die Weltgericht?"
Did Martin Heidegger or any other collector of a university salary who worships History ever read The Journal of the American Medical Association essay: "It's over, Debbie" (available free on The Internet) or have cancer themself? Are these dudes, who are presumably over draft age, still mouthing what Wilfred Owen (d. 1918; WWI casualty) said was an old lie: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"? Are they being propaganda organs for their local nationalist regime?
Joseph Stalin, when the Germans offered him a prisoner swap for his captured son, declined the deal. Was Stalin ["Man of steel"] being a good philosopher to not take the offer? Was he instantiating the Rationality of History? Don't philosophers, in some contexts, say that facts have no intrinsic meaning?
I continue to be amazed to discover how stupidified and ignorancified I was made to be by my childrearing and perp schooling. Here we go peeling off another layer of that rotting onion.
In my childrearing there was gender. I didn't know what it meant except there were certain public toilets I was supposed to use and there were other public toilets that were verboten for me to enter, and the ones I was supposed to enter exposed my little pee-pee to public view, and some kids wore pants and got their heads shorn and other kids wore skirts and could keep their natural hair. Any parent or teach or most anybody else can look at Mr. Dimitri Mendeleev's Periodic table of the chemical elements and figure out that some things are different from other things.
Now to number two in the title of this mini-essay. What is sex? I didn't know about that as a child. It was either Lawrence Stone or Edward Shorter who hypothesized that medieval boys did not know masturbation existed. That sounds about par for the course, to me, from my childrearing in the Dark Ages in 1950's USA suburban the split-level land of "in loco parentis" (i.e.: parents are insane). Was my case unique. Bertolt Brecht wrote a play about "The Exception and the Rule". But, somehow, I eventually learned some naughty anatomy and I had never really believed babies came by Stork Express delivery because I did not think about where babies came from at all. So what is sex? The reproduction of species life. To paraphrase Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind", frankly, I don't give a damn about that, never did, never will.
On to number three and my recent discovery: In an honorific sense, sexuality has not so much to do with gender and even less to do with man and women being rabbits to produce Falstaffean "food for powder", except in the eyes of History's recruiters. Biochemists, get on with your work! I have finally figured out that sexuality is the in-form-ation of a dimension of energy into everything. A 7-Eleven Big Gulp Cola cup is asexusl, even if it is on the bedside table of a fantasy footballer who is f*cking a not even Velley Girl, but maybe one of Elsa Morante's frowsy female victims of History or maybe she is a hot Bible-thumper? I never have been able to meaningfully caress a 7-Eleven Big Gulp Cola cup or a styrofome coffee machine cup. See where I am going here, my reader?
Why did not Nancy Reagan demand a free market in which abstinence could compete on a level playing field with crack cocaine? A level playing field would be one where generic pharmaceutical companies in India and China and Pakistan or wherever would compete without government subsidies on their side or tariffs on our side, with drug lords. Who knows, maybe all the drug lords would go out of business when faced with a truly free market instead of a hyper-regulated economy rigged in their favor because no competitors are allowed?
Be that as it may, I think an objective of childrearing and schooling should be the cultured (in the sense of humanistic graciousness not ethnicity) libidinalization of every person's world of living (Lebenswelt). Ever since in college I saw a small picture of Donatello's David in Janson's History of Art, it has been the most erotic thing I've ever seen, and it's very high culture and and I (BMcC) am not generally, as one might say, attracted to men. Now my response there surely is partly due to innate esthetic sensibility, but are all other male children irrevocably fated to become Minotaurs? Let me repeat that one of the few good things in my perp schooling was a Latin teacher who, by example and muscle learning, taught the kids to respect books, including that, in his adult life, a boy whose nickname had been "Spaz" and who probably came close to flunking out of the place if they didn't need his daddy's tuition money,→ this hopeless kid as an adult later thanked Mr. Gentile for introducing him to appreciating art books. And what else about Mr. Gentile? Teachers were not normally required to attend the daily 09:00 chapel drill. But, apparently after Mr. Gentile and another teacher had been found to be doing something I would not have understood at the time but which they apparently were not supposed to be doing in the school's bookstore during chapel service, both were required to attend Chapel, or at least that's how I heard it.
Schooling is part of the problem. Childrearing is another part. If a kid's parents do not copulate like those mammals where the male's penis has a barb that rips the female's vagina, or those insects where the female ingests the male, should they be terribly embarrassed if the kid catches them doing something gentle with each other? Parents teach their kid how to eat at the dinner table, at least partly by example. They teach them to pledge allegiance to a flag or pray to a God either of which is surely as remote from the kid's own activities as anything else. Conscription age is 18. Confirmation, I believe, is 12.
The third rail here is probably the pervasive Mad[ison avnenue]ness. Until 7-Eleven Big Gulp Cola cups and their normative contents are replaced by something of more enduring value – let The Bauhaus design some stainless steel drinking vessels for these people – I think the situation is hopeless. Any man who can properly care for a US$1,000+ Heckler & Koch pistol can surely take care of a Bauhaus design coffee cup which would not require as much precision cleaning and oiling. What real man would be proud to flash a Saturday night special? The gun owners I knew even made some of their own ammunition. Can we not even say that, to a certain extent and in a way I would not myself be turned on by, these guns are already more libidinalized than 7-Eleven Big Gulp Cola cups, which will do fine for being blasted to bits in target practice, probably preferably filled so that the contents splat all over the place
Unfortunately, people'e social surround is already sexualized in a perverted way by cigarettes that are not just ground up tobacco in rolled paper sold like toilet paper, and now automobiles whose front ends look like vaginae dentatae (late 1950's Cadillac bumpers had boobs). It's easy to mock all this stuff, but it's real. What is not real is your local School Board dispatching an administrator to the BBC to ask for contact information for the sex toy manufacturer whose employees they featured in a recent investigatory reporting essay, so the school system could ask them for a guest speaker. These folks are into persons enjoying their bodies, not potentially hospitalizing themselves with violence such is celebrated in varsity football and lacrosse. Also prigs often get off on 19th century salon paintings which tittilate with drapery and other objects or contorted body poses obscuring what there obfuscation makes obvious by the effort made to hide it. Sh*t or get off the pot, as they say. But, as Dr. Joseph Goebbels and his contemporary avatars in Trump politics know, if you tell a lie often and blatantly enough, people will believe it. I myself could have used a good coed school where girls were taught to say yes to intelligence and esthetic sensitivity, not to "hunks" (which latter are always one bad tackle away from the operating theater for a torn up knee and maybe moaning about their pain like wimps). The girls should be taught about The Shining Prince Genji and his Lavender. Short of such utopian fantasies, I myself could have used some Tea and Sympathy from some teacher's wife with time on her hands.
Semen can be extracted from corpses. I have read that hanging can triggers ejaculation. the Prigwelt , at least for me, was lifeless even if replenishing its species enumeration. I was childreared to not even know that the category of value existed, much less that it was not a null set. I have wondered why the cannibals could not have waited until I was dead to feast on my corpse. But I guess that would not have been as titilating for them, and young flesh is not as tough to masticate. If a person cannot create anything, there are still things around for them to deface and destroy and to take pride in their accomplishments.
Aside: I am also fascinated by how people die. Did they live before dying? Wretched andf wasteful dyings are especially interesting, like General George S. Patton's last days when the powerful General was paralyzed from the neck down due to a stupid traffic accident. Or Archimedes being killed by a soldier when the soldier should have been tasked to wash his feet or just be anywhere else. And God so loved the world that he gave Lou Gehrig ALS. I love to read about the stupidity of social surround harming good persons, or people and Deities just failing properly to respect their betters.
Let us all both remember Samuel Paty and apologize to Jeffrey Toubin.
There is no such thing as an oochy-coochy-coo miracle of birth, at least since God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden (did Adam and Eve make love in the lovely garden?). There is a process which potentially harms a woman's health and may even be fatal to her, namely, pregnancy and childbirth. Midwives do not exist for the fun of it. A foetus is a voracious parasite concerned only about making itself bigger and passing through its developmental stages; it is selfishness incarnate. Or are foeti altruistic?
I do not think the proper shape of a human body approximates a large tennis ball with protrusions. Graphs plotting number of offspring against earned academic degrees or any other cultural achievement would not likely favor large broods, or would they? Among accomplished women who do have children, how many of them do all the largely monotonous but labor intensive labor of childrearing themselves, without "help" (nannies, etc.)?
Maudlin sentimentality does not make "stretch marks" vanish, or does it? "Oh, but stretch marks enhance a woman's beauty!" Really? My opinion: Lucky the woman who gets off Scot free from bearing two children. I once saw the young lady who sold us a bill of goods: our current house, from an architect without values, and it was maybe April and she looked, going to Church, flanked by her two small daughters, like something out of Botticelli's Primavera in her diaphanous Spring dress. I was struck by how attractive she [still] looked. Lucky puppy! In less technologically developed countries, of course, anal fissures attendant to childbirth can make a woman untouchable. And who really wants varicose veins in their legs, not to mention the potential for thromboses? What fun! I do not think foetus factories are sexually attractive, but that is just one person's opinion who is painfully sensitive to details of esthetics (as opposed to details of public service). Hubby goes off to liberate Jerusalem from the Infidels and wifey produces an heir and a spare on the homefront. At right is every tribe or nation state's Leader's ideal woman: A producer of more members of the tribe or citizens of the nation state, more of Shakespeare's Falstaff's "food for powder": a foetus factory. Each in his or her way contributes to the war effort. I keep thinking of Christopher Columbus approaching the Holy city from the West to complete its encirclement and starve the Muslims into surrender by siege. Poor Chrissy! He never made it that far.
Babies are – what? They leak all over the place. They are pudgy like elephant seals. As their name implies, infants are incapable of articulate discourse. Diaper changing is perhaps worse than Sisyphus's punishment; at least his rock was dry. When I had to change diapers, I always approached the matter with a prayer that I would not be blessed with fecal matter, which often had the appetizing secondary characteristic: smeared. Yuk! Is pregnancy,, much better than Covid-19, which only sometimes has chronically debilitating after-effects, too? If Donald Winnicott was right that the healthy baby wants to born, it's probably because he or she (or other) is hungry, and mommy should love being the ur-7Eleven store. Fortunately nature is not as miserly as nurture, and I read that nursing can produce pleasant sexual feelings in the mother. (Who knows what's going on in baby?) Thank God for small favors! All's well who ages well.
When offspring are not parents' Social Security Administrations, what value is fecundity? Make love, not babies. In a patriarchal political regime, young males are heirs (or deposits into monasteries), and young females are internationally negotiable financial instruments (or, if unattractive, deposits into nunneries). Once one of the latter's seal of authenticity of origin is broken, she metamorphoses into a manufactory for producing more human resources. I do not see any fun in just being part of the economy. Were priests the earliest accountants? Why bother, unless, of course, you are the investor not one of the investments?
As a young person (male gender; liked female flesh not male). In my 20's, I had some sex. All prigs be praised!
I never had the Minotaurean physical stamina to copulate in "the missionary position", nor had I any interest in trying. Sex for me was more something to think about and observe in the process, because contra Sigmund Freud, I think an uncivilized pleasure is not somehow more but rather is less – less self-reflectively self-conscious – than a civilized one (astronomical supernova explosions are not more powerful experiences for them than a house cat's Meow is for the cat, or are they?). Reflective thinking is not aided by extreme physical stress in any activity; I never lusted to work on an assembly line, either. My preference was a tergo, and slow. So much for that form of "virtue".
I never aspired to biologically reproduce, either. I did pay for one abortion back before they were legal, and a prep school classmate whose father was chief pyhsician of some hospital department helped me deal with that problem by same-night surgery in what I believe was a Roman Catholic institution across the street from Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore). Especially during "Vietnam" or in an era of "population explosion", or today with "Black lives matter" and "Proud Boys", and when childrearing is not government-funded, why should anyone want to bring more persons into a largely unsavory world, and at their own expense, even? (If the United States Federal government wanted more conscripts during The Vietnam War, why couldn't they have just caught bullfrogs, which can croak too, albeit in a different sense of that word?)
And I would have had no objection to serving "my" country by doing mutually constructive work that would serve both it and myself, maybe in Fort Meade? Yokosuka (Japan) would probably been good, too, since I loved much of Japanese culture once I learned about it. Teach me Japanese and kanji, Uncle Sam. And, what the heck? Even as a civilian I had to get a haircut so what did I have to lose in a support position (Oh! that word again!) in the Army? Was the mess hall free? I knew an Army map reader [Jim Duhig] who was going nuts back here in the civilian world and wanted like nothing else than to get back to his Vietnam, which was not the setting for Platoon.
This section deleted and superceded, +2022.01.06: here. Thank you.
This section moved, +2022.01.06: here. Thank you.
Herewith, one 74 year old effeminate white would be intellectual male's (BMcC) opinion about who's sexy.
Let's start with the girls. Obviously, Monica Vitti and Amanda Lear. Michelangelo Antonioni's partner and Salvadore Dali and his wife's trois for their ménage. Not that I like Salvadore Dali. "Are you question or answer?" I wonder what Susanne Langer was like in bed? Hannah Arendt? Simone Weil? (←God forbid, this last lady! Ms. Weil must have been the world's most perma-virgin, but not a prude, so I don't think she would have cancelled a school kid for writing "Fuck!" in the winter condensation on a window of a school bus like S. Atherton Middleton's prig sec'y Miss Lillian Lorenz; but then, who knows if Ms. Weil did or didn't communicate with God?) Then there are the cynical chicks like Kent School alumna Lana del Rey.
But what about the guys? I don't generally find ugly people sexy. Who could go to bed with that "small man", Martin Heidegger (right)? Apparently Hannah Arendt did. Maybe she smoked something first? However, the more I see closeups of his almost lunar landscape face, I think Abraham Lincoln would probably be the one and only unique exception here. That face is so powerful, yet also in a way gentle, that I feel he really did transcend normal standards of physical beauty. So let's leave Sexy Abe aside. I
I simply cannot imagine
having sex with touching a beached whele like The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Let me get my surgical gloves on, please (and not for any fetishistic reason, but straightforward chirurgy!). Yuk!
If they don't have to be real but can be marble or oil on canvas, then, of course, there is Donatello's polymorphous David, who would probably to the cat's meow for anybody with good taste of any sexual orientation. Leonardo da Vinci's St. John the Baptist? Ah! Of course: L.H.O.O.Q.! Woody Allen for a one night stand? Well, doesn't alienation sort of define him? Andy Warhole even as a cheap whore at markdown in the window of a brothel in some nth world city's red light district? Not for me. European males generally seem to have been less or more unattractive, but maybe Wassily Kandinsky would be something like his paintings in bed? Yeah, I'd go for him (and his cat, Vas'ka – a méage-à-trois – the third being the cat, I mean. Meow!). Kandinsky's wife looked kind of cute. A manly man? Gregory Paths of Glory lead but to the grave Peck! And Norwood Russell Hanson. JohnWild ws probably a sweet man is bed as will as in public life. (Somebody should have buggered Paul Weiss, except probobably he was all constipated. Amy volunteers? Hazmat will be provided.)
OK, mind over matter. Hermann Broch. But I think he really was a rather attractive man. And how can we pass up Marcel Duchamp? That dude was no Salvadore Daliance! "Why not sneeze, Rrose Sélavy?" John F. Kennedy? Uhh... (Was he real or was he a wax museum mannequin?) Sigmund Freud? Did he do it "by the book"? Or did he have some secret fetishes like maybe for little Egyptean figurines? "Itchy, kitschy, coo, Siggy!" Ronald Reagan died after What's-his-name John Hinkley shot him; Nancy remarried → Homer Simpson! Which brings me back to the girls: I bet you could get some kinky stuff or at least a dialtone out of Jody Foster. I vaguely remember something about Jody Foster and a motorcycle in her Yale dorm bed but maybe that was something to do with Mr. Hinkley – I just do not remember the details). Oink!
Well, my reader, I'd welcome you to share your fantasies (or Réalitiés) with me. And remember, as Smokey the Bear didn't say: "Only you can put out crotch fires." Right, Saul of Tarsus (aka St; Paul)?
"Men should think twice before making widowhood women's only path to power." (Gloria Steinem)
Woman gives birth to nine babies (BBC Online, 6 May 2021)
A new world record: "A South African woman has reportedly given birth to in what would be a new world record... decuplets" (BBC Online, 9 June 2021)
A pregnancy is a uterus colonized by a foetus. The volume of a sphere is: ( 4 / 3 ) * Π * R ** 3.
I see a young lady in leggings whose hips and buttocks look almost as thin as a boy's, and I think: she looks good. Wide hips are probably good for a female doing service as a foetus factory? I don't even want to have to look at a pregnancy. Then their are the Brazilians (and some Africans?) who want women's buttocks to look like two huge balloons. Maybe their automobiles are missing their rear bumpers?
Nation state and ponzi scheme economists and tribal leaders like to have women reproduce more profigately than rabbits to produce more of Shakespeare's Falstaff's:"food for powder." Materiel is more expensive than men. I prefer advanced degrees in the humanities to advanced gestations. Am I correct that "morning sickness" and Preeclampsia (Toxemia) are more satiffying for the ladies than orgasms? Even some fairly well educated women from the middle class seem to like being bloated. De gustibus non disputandun est except that the earth is already grossly over-crowded without these people making matters even worse. People who are all goo-goo over having small children around can always adopt a few dozen.
I have read that in medieval Islam they said Allah gave 90% of sexual pleasure to women. Before effective contraception, they had to earn it. No wonder men inseminated the ladies: jealousy made them want to spoil their fun.
I'm reading about Mannerist art. Many of the women in the paintings and classical sculpture (e.g.: Venus de Milo, or: right) do not look they need a bra. Less is more (short of anorexia, of course). Dolly Parton is a structural engineering course lab exercise in cantilevering, isn't she? Men, if you want big volumes, get a soccer ball.
"Good morning, class. I'm the guy who's being paid to be your teacher. Call me what you like, but please do not draw any weapons on me. You probably don't know what you signed up for from the Course Catalog. I call this course: Philosophy Minus One. I'm going to try to help you unlearn some things.
"First thing: I'm not here to waste your time. I aim not to make you learn anything you won't remember for the rest of your life. If you're gonna forget it, why learn it in the first place? But to err is human. So I may fall short. If you find me running my mouth off or assigning you something you think is not worth your time, call my attention to what you think you're seeing. I can't manage your whole life, but I expect you to try to be awake to what's going on around you. That's the beginning of philosophy, not any particular what do they call them? "ideas". Why are you here, right now? You want to get a better job and you're required to take some kind of "distribution" courses to get your degree? That's fair enough, but maybe we can do a little than that. They say I'm an 'easy grader', but it's your time you're using up. I like to hear myself speak.
"The reading assignments will be short. Short. You don't have all the time in the world, so I will pick a few very short things and what I will want you to do is about them. Fifteen minutes reading, max. Two hours thinking about it, min. Or about something else. But I want you to . Like maybe how your teachers, for instance, me, are shaping up? I'll give you a clue. I'm not very impressed with Mr. Socrates, but what did he do? Did he give the young men around him final exams each term? Or did he 'just' talk with them? We'll have seminar sections, but if there's fifteen students in the room and it's fifty minutes, that isn't gong to be exactly one to one personal mentoring, is it?
"Think about this course; not just the course material, but the course itself. As Marshall McLuhan (a guy who died years before most of you were born) said, 'The medium is the message'. If you're schlepping boxes for a moving company, it's less important to you what's in the boxes than that your job is moving boxes. Yes?
"I can't give you what I'd like to give you: leisure time to be puzzled about what the hell you are doing (watching television? taking this course? getting haircut; note mine? ...). But I can make sure I don't give you more on your plate than you already have. Maybe when you're doing other things, you'll think about thinking about what you're doing. That counts for this class. Whatever it is, do you want to be doing it?
"Another thing that really helps: Imagination. Imagine you're teaching this class. What would you be doing up here? [points to himself and to the podium] That's your assignment for next week. One page, because I'm busy, just like you. So make every word count. If in doubt, take it out. In case anybody's artistic, a caricature or a cartoon, maybe of me? might be great. If you're being distracted by somethng else in your life, write about that instead. I may not be able to help, but I'll read it and give you some thoughts.
"I'll end today with a true story from me. I was in a philosophy class where a famous professor was lecturing us students about 'human freedom'. I didn't see myself as being very free what with 5 courses and going to have a final exam in his class, too. After class, I went up to the podium. I looked up and asked him how he could be lecturing to us students about human freedom when we were going to be examined and graded. He could have asked me who did I think I was to talk to him that way, couldn't he? He didn't. He apologized and assured me he meant no harm. I'm not in his league, but I try. If you have something to say – I mean: write –, I'm not much concerned with spelling mistakes. Finally, before you leave, please everybody be quiet for a minute. I'm going to bow in respect for each of your humanity, and then I'm going to leave. My notes for today's class are here at the door for each of you to pick up. [points to chair near the door with the copies of the notes] Then you can leave, too, or stay and talk with one another or whatever, until they need this room for another class. See those of you who decide to show up again, next week. [bows and leaves]"
I (BMcC) propose that the philosophy curriculum begin with the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Opinion piece: "It's over, Debbie." This to be followed by Wilfred Owens's poetry. The first professional philosopher I'd introduce them to would be Diogenes of Sinope. Then, since I read slowly, Heraclitus because he is pithy while raising important philosophical issues. When assigning readings to kids, every word should count, as if teach was giving an assignment to their CEO [which each student should be].
Allow me to repeat the great New Scientist cartoon of Albert the Laboratory Rat, sitting in the Lab Director's plush leather desk chair, popping positive reinforcement cookies with one little front paw, with his other front paw on a button that triggers giving electric shocks → Albert was watching the former Laboratory Director's presumably inaudible by Albert screams of pain, the former Director being objectively observed by Albert behind a presumably one-way mirror, as Albert pressed the button to study the effects of electric shocks. isn't turn about fair play, Dr. Director?
+2021.03.18. I was thinking whether the quality of instruction in philosophy might be improved if, at the start of class, before climbing up on his podium or seating himself at the head of the seminar table, the Professor took off his (her, other's) slacks (jeans) and underpants in front of the class. "Good morning, students! Today we are going to study Diogenes of Sinope! Uhh... Surprise, everybody, this is a lab course."