Sunday, July 30, 2006
For them, OPEC if the Organization of Pomposity Exporting Clowns ( or Countries if you like) and they find the deposits of Pretentiousness and I-know-better-than-you as deep and as vast as my own are sure to run dry. Ha!, I say to that. I say that I am the President G.W. - Global Warming Bush of Pomposity.
I got his insight and the ring-tailed nastiness of Cheney. I am the roughest gaucho of all the Pompous. They used the image of Colonel Blimp, which image brings the notion of pomposity and irrelevance and too many kippers for breakfast. It is an old image no one today is familiar with. I think that they are the pompous ones. They threaten to insert my likeness into their clip of Coulter being chased by Wesley Snipes. This is serious. I must find a stargate.
Friday, July 28, 2006
The last picture was a dog and under the dog was the name Carl. This was my idea of a joke. We did not own a dog. We were allergic to dogs. We had never owned a dog. When we visited people who did own dogs and the great brute mastiffs jumped up on us or did that leg thingey, we did not gleam with delight.
When the owners said, "Rover, come on. So-and-so doesn't want you jumping all over him.", we did not contradict this observation. Sometimes I gave one of those sickly smiles and said, "Indeed. Indeed, Rover."
When conversation turned to pets, I would say things like, "Ah, that's all right for you doggie-types to say.", or "You probably do know more about mediaeval Europe, living with the animals in the house as you do...". And so on.
Well, I had the dog placed on the stationery because I liked comic books. When someone were to ask me ( they never did) why we had a dog on the stationery, I would say, " Carl barks." This meant the artist, Carl Barks.
My nephews did not ask. They saw the letter and drawings and went into gales of laughter. I mostly enjoy the way they watch Fox News and talk and laugh at the screen. Bill O'Reilly is a favorite target. They have compiled a file of Ann Coulter clips which they play with disturbing frequency. I ask if they think she is becoming insane. They answer they do not care. They think she bears an uncanny and humorous resemblance to the monster aliens of the first season of Stargate: Atlantis. So they play the recordings as sort of a monster-alien-armageddon-brave-new-world news broadcast.
Or, it is a preview of the futuristic Vampire news which they've intersperse with Blade cuts. Of course, they stole the idea for the Coulter destroying Tokyo sequences from South Park, at least I think so. Then Takashi Shimura and Raymond Burr versus Coulter-zilla... You get the notion of this. I would like to say they have too much time on their hands, but they actually have time for charity work on the sly..don't say I told you so.
Elsewhere in the same section, US historian William Polk, in a piece dated March 2003 ( Une sombre affaire / A Sombre Affair ), reviews the arguments given by the Bush Administration for the invasion of Iraq. Dismissing these as fantasies, he outlines the "hidden agenda determining American relations with Iraq: the new strategic conception of American world domination; the messianic faith in Christian fundamentalism; and the connection between Christian fundamentalism and Zionism."
This is a statement of enormous range.It is not my intent to argue about the truth or falsity of such a statement.
It is my interest how such statements come about.
I believe that a human being is so complex that all the above motives could exist without the individual having them all grouped together in a coherent belief system.
Words and Reason help us to create such a coherence. However, this coherent belief system is not absolutely necessary for an individual to act. The belief system expressed in words is more like a description of actions.
Actions and words, actions and words.
I disturbs me that a writer could discern the features of the face of our new neo-conservative Interregnum of 2000 to 2008 so early on. This is all a part of our Narrative of End of Times. We differ in the details, but almost all of us believe we are headed for destruction.
What happens when a majority of a society believes in inevitable doom?
We'll find out.
This is a good example. Both sides use the same Holy Book. We concluded that even though both sides feel certainty, this feeling cannot imply the truth of the statements made. We have a procedure of verifying statements which is heavily influenced by our history of scientific work over hundreds of years.
What was Aristotle's verification procedure? We do not really know. When Aristotle affirmed certain things about sea creatures, he made some howling mistakes. However, he must have thought them correct.
How did he go about verifying propositions about sharks, let's say? Did he walk down to the harbor, talk to the fishermen, who in turn winked at each other and proceeded to give the old professor an outrageous cock and bull story?
We do not know. We know his Logic, but the basis for the truth of some of his statements about the world is a mystery. We have procedures for verification. We test, we re-test, we insist on third-party reproducibility of the tests, and so on.
I have heard it said recently that Science can prove anything.
Not really. Let us assume that you and I attend a Cure concert. Not the original Cure, the later Cure. I say it rocked, you say it sucked.
Consider the statement: " The Cure concert was great." There is nothing apparently odd or paradoxical about this statement, "The Cure concert was great." Is does not strike us as funny, unusual, nor a play on words. Yet if a scientist were to try to prove it true or false, he would run into problems. If a scientist said it was true, we would present your contrary opinion. If he said it was false, I would state my opinion.
The scientist would have to formulate a new statement and a procedure to implement it. He would say, "Let us set up a survey and we shall ask the opinions of all who were at the concert." Then we would have a result such as "51% liked the show and 48% did not and 1% was getting high."
This has a great deal more information than did the original statement, "The Cure concert is great.", but it is not the original. It has been transformed out of recognition into a form which science can actually act upon.
So how do we verify my childhood quandary where the statement might have been "Protestants will not enter Heaven." I said the statement is true, my friend Christian Johann ( he was indeed my friend) said it is false. We cannot appeal to the Bible, for we already have done so. There is no verification procedure for such a statement. ( We could wait until Judgement Day, but then we probably won't be arguing such niceties.)
Well, after a long time of looking at Truth and how it is used, it finally dawned on me that statements such as "Protestants will not enter Heaven" cannot be given a truth-value. They cannot be judged to be true nor false. As paradoxical as this sounds, it also indicated to me the meaning of Faith.
In brief, faith is the way we deal with all statements which cannot be called true nor false, and FAITH is the way we deal with religious statements which cannot be called true nor false.
Notice that Faith or faith is not some garbage dump of the indecisive. Faith is not some second-best alternative for things that are perplexingly not proveable as true or false. Beyond our normal understanding of Faith, it is a concept which ties Logic to Emotion and Belief. As shown by our example, "The Cure concert was great.", the algorithmic nature of language allows us to spin out an infinity of such statements.
I can propound as many such statements as I want, using the template: "The X is Y" and "I believe Y" and "Someone else believes not-Y" and Y is based in our emotional life. In this instance, "believe" becomes close to "feel".
And you say, of course, it is a matter of individual taste and everyone knows that all people differ in such things. However, people also differ from each other in much the same way in their religious outlooks.
Am I saying religion is a matter of taste?
No. I am saying that religious statements cannot be proven true or false. Since this is so, we have Faith, or not, as the case may be. If religious statements were proveable, the concept Faith would be totally unnecessary. So the Cure was great, for me. And this looks suspiciously like the language of Moral Relativism wherein we hear such oddities as, "If I indulge in certain actions, they are good...for me...even though most people find them appalling."
Before we go any further, let me remind you of where I am coming from. I worship the one God. I do not require an Intelligent Designer, which I hold to be Idolatry. I do not require proof of God's existence. At a certain point, I have learned to shut my mouth, be silent, and act according to my sense of the Holy; to visit the sick, those in jail, to honor one's parents... I need no diagrams of the prophecies of the End of Times. I want no visual aids. I want to be charitable, truthful, loving, and loyal. And if I never spoke about metaphysics again, it would not bother me in the slightest. I do not admire St. Francis for his metaphysics. I do not respect Abraham for his proofs of God's existence. I do not admire the Caliph Omar because he published theories of the Holy. These people reflect the Holy in their lives.
And actions are always true.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
When Canada was still a Dominion, I attended University at an institution where Marshall McLuhan had taught. McLuhan said " The Medium is the Message". This is clearly true. The message in Ms. Coulter is not truly a factual statement about the beliefs and aspirations of her fellow citizens; it is about her.
Similarly in the case of Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Tucker and most other celebrity talking heads: the talk is all about the talker, not the country, not the future, not history. Celebrity Talking Heads are presenting themselves and their message is "Here I am". (This is accentuated in our country by the ever-present Cult of Celebrity.) Therefore, if we find their selling of themselves to be attractive, we embrace the message. Along with the message, we tend to accept the statements accompanying their presentation of themselves. These statements are usually political or moral propositions. We mold these into an emotional consistence, though not necessarily a logical consistence.
What we call our belief systems are systematic and consistent only in the sense that they are affirmed by the same person at the same time and are emotionally consistent within the emotion life of that person. To assume that a belief system actually has some other relationship with the external world is a narcisscistic solipsism. I will restrict myself to the heavy topics or the light topics in the future, not the middle-weight topics which are neither fish nor fowl, are neither cold nor hot - the topics of Celebrities of the Media, the Arts, the State, and the Church who sell themselves and whose image we consume in a diseased parody of our religious past.