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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Disaster Leitmotif

reprint from 2007

This deals with our recurring Disaster Theme of History, and follows on the latest shootings. I think many of us feel that we are in a dead end without any exits. There is at least one exit, and that is our own faith and optimism.

I was trained in the British-American tradition of philosophy. In my senior year at University, I discovered Sartre. I resisted at first, but then fell into complicity with him. I do not think I have ever come across a philosopher I did not like. I mean, I agree with them all. Where some people see some chasm or dichotomy between the British and the Continental tradition, I see different ways of looking at the same phenomena and a sort of a parable about men in blindfolds describing a pachyderm: the one touching the truck says that the elephant resembles a tentacular creature while the man touching the leg say it resembles the pillars at the ends of the earth.

I think one of the things about the Roman Catholic Church I found most displeasing was the tradition of Thomas Aquinas' philosophy and little else: a myopia in philosophy. I could never quite reconcile my vision of Jesus with the mediaeval obsession with philosophy applied to divine things. I always had a sneaking suspicion that if somehow Jacques Maritain could appear to Jesus in His own day, Jesus would think a new type of Pharisee had come for a visit.

Jean Beaudrillard passed on this year and he spoke of hyperreality. The realm of philosophy is similar to other realms of hyperreality. I have always been fascinated by the enclosures of fancy we create and then try to insulate them from contamination by an intrusive reality. I considered the run up to the War in Iraq just such a hyperreality. It was an excellent experiment to observe how such things are created.
We see today in Global Research  
The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007 declares that in the event of a “catastrophic event”, George W. Bush can become what is best described as "a dictator": "The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government." This directive, completely unnoticed by the media, and given no scrutiny by Congress, literally gives the White House unprecedented dictatorial power over the government and the country, bypassing the US Congress and obliterating the separation of powers. The directive also placed the Secretary of Homeland Security in charge of domestic “security”. The full text is below. A critical analysis on the directive can be found here. This is another step towards official martial law (see “US government fans homeland security fears”), which suggests that a new "catastrophic event" 9/11-type pretext could be in the pipeline.
It may be surprising that the most interesting thing I find in this is that it is another thread of End Of Time, or Approaching Disaster, or Armageddon Is Just Around The Corner; these are the hyperrealities which infest our minds.
There is a difference between a dispassionate appraisal of reality and a hyperreality, a virtual reality, if it please you, that exists in another dimension, whether it be in the individual mind, or the collective social awareness of a nation, or in cyberspace.

Since 9-11, we have been mostly dealing in states of hyperreality. We have chosen up sides and each side has striven to delineate the parameters of its own hyperreality. Then we scream back and forth. We scream because the taste and smell of the real is so intense, how could we see that hyperreality is not the same as reality?
Hyperreality is constructed of the same building blocks of Remembered and Historical Events with which we create the real. Thus, its smell must be the smell of reality. Its taste must be the taste of reality. Its remembered beauty must be the remembered beauty of reality. It is the Logic that has lost its sense of direction.
The Logic which compels the construction of Reality is no longer the hidden algorithm of many nodes, web-like wherein we balance like spiders in a filmy gauze suspended above the void. The Logic has become distorted and no longer an inborn song of creativity. It is an inflexible and rigid mechanism, unbending and without a sense of History - neither coming from the past nor going to the future, but merely a focus of a moment of present obsession.

The Themes of Disaster flows in and out of our lives: from Virginia Tech to Iraq to Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD). The Disaster Figure always wears a new face: Virginia Tech or John Muhammed or Saddam Hussein...or Iran...or the Religious Right or Islamic Fundamentalism. But the god of Disaster is always there in our minds and in our prayers...and in our hyperreality. When I have said the mind can be a prison, this is what I was referring to. Philosophy should not enslave, not incarcerate.

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