Thursday, October 25, 2012
Based on what I’ve learned from the culmination of 9 months, as my son is due any day, and the attendant anxiety I’ve had with this and my new job, I was inspired to write one of my most personal essays. It mingles theoretical ideas with how I’m using them personally.
Cracking Open a New Anxioform
Upon the Last Days of a Long Nine Months
Silent as we wait in terror
Frozen by our fear
Psyched by worry and discouraged
We neither see nor hear
So sing a lie, Sweet lisping sighs
Jaded though I am
The river rises, gives surprises
To a man who cannot swim.
Emilie is free and laughing
Happy after all
She's blessed by Pan, so nothing tragic
Ever could befall.
My frame is bent, a grounded kite
My tail is knots and twisted
The wind she swims with savage whim
Her NO is not resisted
I fear that I fear -- that's cowardice
I stew and rue in silence
And cast my eyes on a hundred books
And hide in freedom's license
Like sun to tides, whom moon abides
I take my place in a three-legged race
I try to be your harmony
And trip in graceless grace
I hold the clock and pitch the air
When my house descends I will hear them snore.
And I'll ascend to my basement home
And triumph till past four.
The triumph in your eyes to me seems to see game's end
I could sue you for presumptions
Strange missives will I send.
The slow-tone lull of my sleeping dolls
Frees my limbs unfrozen
Duty day never goes away
This love life I have chosen.
Pomegranate family blood,
Hold me to the core
In love I gain my everything
Bring Ama to the fore.
Emotions are music, adding vitality to ideas, making language. All language is poetic. What is poetry but musical language? The use of trope and music make the language evocative. What of anxiety in love, the anxiety of love lost, the rejection of the beloved, many forms of love's opposite and attendant: fear?
What is in must out. There is no wisdom in damning fear, or hate, or anger, or attachment; we are thus equipped because thus we need. The trick is ever the same: to make use of what is: the optimization of optimism, making this the best of all possible worlds.
Anxiety is a game, it's part of the game; it holds its use, it does us good. Scientology, for one, learned to whip their enemies with it; from auditing each other near to breakdown they learned how human beings in general can be broken down. Continually interrupting the desire to speak leads a person to a fit.
We care, and caring can't fully be owned. If I love another, I am vulnerable: what happens to her happens to me. This mind's I, this care, which is focus and release, which is energy of selection, expresses anxiety as tension of focus. The self-help gurus and the religious are doctors for this anxiety, their plans and holiness answer it, even increase it to draw us in. This is no objection, but it is equal across the board; this is one of religion's moves.
Psychologists and psychoanalysts and all manners of leaders often have suicidal children, but that need not be taken as an objection -- that Anna Freud killed off her first two child patients need not be taken as an objection -- just as the philosopher can teach valuable things about the good life without embodying that goodness. A river can't rise higher than its source, so why listen to the self-help gurus who after all are only meager self-help gurus, a flimsy clownish race? In this, we must remember Confucius: the wise man is not ashamed to learn from a fool. We are the students of life, we learn from every direction; we are no respecters of copyright.
This anxiety, when it pertains to the unknown danger, really pertains to our own stance and posture. Being caught off guard, and unprepared, is the object of anxiety, which therefore bars full engagement in the task at hand.
Government and religion would render us harmless, cooperative, productive, and content -- such dreams are utopian nightmares. If anxiety is really anxiety about stance, then the mind, which is already a focus-filter, filters even more, concentrates its range, knots our muscles and heart to avoid our brash. Showering water melts my anxiety away, gulps of water melt my depression away. I relax knowing that this mind evolved and developed for the best of reasons. To identify with something, a goal, an outcome, is to put energy into it, to suffer what loss it suffers. We are empowered and yet exposed by caring; the further out we put our hopes, the more anxious we become. These religions, with their remote terrors and ineffable promises -- how can they help us now?
We realize that there is a subtle difference between, "I feel upset because I am thinking about this" and "I'm thinking about this because I'm upset." Our moods, after all, could be caused by biological processes unrelated to our psychological situation, but the psyche nevertheless interprets our anxiety in terms of itself. An angry wife recalls a list of forgotten grievances because her mood summons them; the depressed man is surprised at how horrible life has continually been, and wonders how he could ever have felt otherwise, and if he will ever feel happy again.
So you set up a list of things that offend you. You're deathly afraid of that one dumb thing. Face it. You can see it, so face it. A success here is a success everywhere. This phobia is a lightning rod for fear.
No amount of planning can anticipate every exigency -- in fact we should expect continual surprise and occasional emergency, but in all these situations, fall back on tried and true universal principles fit for every possibility. No matter where I'm at, my virtues are eight. Will is success. Chance is nothing compared to this.
Our instincts know what to fear. Blood and snakes have deep untaught instinctual affects. That is why the creators of religion adopt them as symbols, to lend their terrible effect to religious dogma.
We use anxiety. Damming back select expressions, reservoirs will reach their peak. I monitor my moods like a diabetic monitors his blood sugar -- with similar results if I fail. That is life for the bipolar. I learn their tricks of use.
I hold to those eight, my virtues, even when my system languishes. Walk the world as a startling contradiction; if nobody pulls their weight at work, you will; if nobody loves with all their heart, you will; if friends or family don't act kindly, you will.
To replenish the energy needed to do a thing, the unconscious prepares itself, like a well of fuel. A man who has studied intently for his chemistry exam can still play a decent game of chess, or do something else whose energy is replete. Our energies are open down some paths, not others.
Our anxioforms are the muscle-forms that set our map and path. You are free on your path, anxious off it, like a dog with an electric collar. When one is in a mode, his will has taken a shape, the differentiated energy has been stationed, and some other forms of energy have been converted, he has taken on the character of his task and locked in. To step out of the role, to unlock, to come down, requires a purification process, or some other action or time period to ease the knot. The anxiety of character that poses a man to his task tightens until he suffocates-- he needs to withdraw to rest.
And so the body takes a stance held in by anxiety. How then to be a God without struggle?
The knot is tightly bound, like a thick ball of fishing line. I am no Alexander, I won't burst the thread; I know how to soften the knot, how to smooth it open, how to give it shield; I know that intimacy must be as guarded against as adversity; pain raises my defenses from every corner. What is done here is done for all time; this is the one utter moment, the central thread of everything. I knit the spider’s lint with intentful hands.
Use makes wise. We do a thing and we can do it. We train our bodies, we tender those skills; the body is a world; the body is the map of character. Body is language. We face these extraneous circumstances, so many contingencies, we feel we've been cheated. Yet it doesn't matter how unruly the paper piece; fold it in half and appears logical. Repeat a thing and it takes new meaning. Chaos echoed falls into order.
In sticking it out, in surmounting frustration, in stubbornly marching on, when any reasonable person would count the fight lost, a man gains a heart of adamant, of diamond, of pristine invincibility, which stays for all his life, till finding himself tasked by a deadly emergency, he is not caught off guard, and lost in a great passion; he has the fuel to gain great ends, to realize the ultimate limits of his will, he does not foolishly dream, and then regret which is simply not in him to do in the first place, because one becomes both mortal and immortal in his absolute talk, one inherits the pride and appreciation of heroes, sharing their staunch heart, he resists context, come triumph or failure, knowing chance and fate mean nothing to the smile of a pride that having given its worth, needs no external reward or secondary testimony.
The crown of whiteness is wisdom's pride. Grateful will we be if we make it to old age, when our scars melt into wrinkles, and our organs drop off, one by one, preparing us to leave this chrysalis. The hammerfalls of experience statues character from our soul--inside this womb we forge our wings.
When will is effete and pure reserves are tapped, then we inevitably burn out. At that point our performance is deplorable and we should accept it without too much guilt, learning to better manage our time and will next time. A man regrets whatever he fails to put his full heart into. Only what you cast your full being into is worthy of you. No matter what your weaknesses, no matter what the obstacles, if they can be anticipated and calculated they can also be surmounted.
We call yonder artist egocentric, unreliable, obsessed. He sharpens his will just as you do, he thickens it with pride, ardor, ambition. He reflects on beauty. Reflection intensifies: remember your mirror. Meditate before you work, build wells of energy.
I smile at myself: I am happy, my life a success, my job the perfect fit, my wife intelligent and the better parent. A man mad and psychologist wed. She says, "worry as you must, but worry constructively." Such thoughts bring me ease.
Why should I pride in a mere attempt? What isn't perfect is unworthy of me. Let me learn a perfect lesson from my failure and I will walk on. Effort in vain -- utterly depressing, and how my opposition defines me! Life is in living, not merely in making a living, and the future belongs to the adults as much as to the children.
O purifying water!
I immense my innards
In clarity's cleanse
Let toxic anxiety
Come to its end.
With my rhythms and pauses, tones and cadence, I come to flow again. Smooth your brow. Let wounds heal. Never seek the impossible.
"You can do anything you set your mind to" is as intellectually dishonest as "I can do all things through Christ." When we fail to do some grand, "anything" or the miraculous "allthings," who do we blame? Not "the Mind," or "Christ," those superstitious terms, but something is wrong with the "you." We feel comforted that we are potentially omnipotent and are willing to live with the guilt that we fail that potential. The true culprits here are the overstated affirmations. An honest assessment of our weaknesses, limitations, and potential gives us a realistic and attainable goal set, not the hypocritical smugness of an impossible goal. Weak men want to be praised for attempting and failing the impossible rather than attempting and gaining the difficult. Any modest gain is more commendable than an immodest failure, and only school boys and theologians try to outbrag each other on whose God is biggest. What are the greatest accomplishments of men and women? What are the most laudable achievements which alone are worthy of your highest praise? The founding of countries, the creation of philosophies, religions, and science, inventions of all sorts, works of art which inspire whole peoples. And how were such things accomplished? Not by impossible goals, but in discovering one's true powers. The pious praise beings who accomplished cosmic things when nobody was looking -- that comes easily to the gods anyway, as the grand canyon came easily to the glaciers. This is a misuse of praise. We praise to inspire ourselves to do likewise.
And so my anxiety is discarded through complaints as these. I strive all day and am replenished by the night. Hoping up the external disappoints. Build what is within, that at last is yours. Don't panic. Plan it.
I consider my grandiose ambition and my unique sense of the divine and am told, "Daniel, you are on the right track, your truth is pronounced and glowing. You need only hold to it and continue as you have." My gift to the world is in my word, I write out my veins, and this endless production I give to who can receive.
My first awakening? That battery of pent suspension -- family, God, guilt, and loneliness --, a candle of insulation, kept me cold and grounded till Ama lit.
We believe in the triumph of will over circumstance, and for the nagging doubts, every fiction is devised to confirm the triumph. I hold to my hope, I the bright unknown. My body is the pen of God, I swoon in Ama's hand.
Complaint seeks encouragement, bragging begs for beatings, this silence keeps me warm. What great compression, what lyrical strain! Success teaches success. Don't envy; become. Greatness emulates. I join my pantheon of lovers. My polyrhythms fall into sonic turmoil. I grasp the nocturnal root, and work till noon, raise a second dawn upon this noon.
It is poor praise that kneels. Beauty is her own excuse, I second her in myself.
Oh former self! Plough your brow with worry, pinch your eyes with pain, scowl your mouth with dredged disdain, wire your jaw with the bite of brass: give yourself over to your worry. Boiling at nothing cracks the pot. Meditate. Fall into her. Does she evade you? The rose its thorn, the honey its sting, the babe its wail, and beauty her disdain -- but not with Ama! Oh Ama! Love for love, my heart returned! Though this flame trembles, his tongue blisters and burns. Let the tongue of my pen unknot my heart, unblossoming my rage, understanding what I don't.
"Ignorant mankind! You have what you need, yet go abegging!" Those hopes were impossible from their own monstrosity. Envy is ignorance.
Most of these allays include an exultation and a love call. I am like Mattria, who in the beginning, at the zero of history, made endless forms of art within the womb of her brain, at the zero of history, which burst over the wide in myriad forms -- universe of creativity, all from the substance of her flesh. Nothing comes of nothing, all comes from all. I remember my plethorabyss. I remember that quiet young woman who once visited my heart. She was seemingly seemly, fairly fair, pretty pretty. Ama brings her to my mind. Never a word again from her, but her one word was everlasting.
I am taught my anxioform, the shape of my anxiety and potential panic. Nothing calms me like my reflection. She speaks to me. My ear the peapod holds your truths like pearls.
Anxioforms, or the situations of utter panic, can emit a shadow of invisible dread. We move with sincerity, in calm and ease, utterly avoiding them but perhaps without ever meaning to. Those things we might laugh at, but they become asymptotically intolerable as we approach them. The human trajectory is so barred-in by phobias and our pride is so allergic to cowardice that we don't see our hidden bent.
My tongue drips with this rich and tension-filled language, the inbuilt tensions and contradictions are the dynamo. It contains living history. I send these missives to you in love. I'll envelope you in my arms, address you with love, stamp you with a kiss, before I send you on your way. My heart is home for you.
Drop all obligations, anything that binds. Only when you've given up everyone and everything do you find yourself. When you've given everything, you can finally give yourself, the first genuine gift.
When entirely engrossed within the importance of a thing, our physical frame and the mental framework it implies, takes on its anxioforms or limits which, define its breathing space and its timings. A set of time-frames -- every culture has a set of time frames, from which we learn to set up our expectations. We grow impatient at the supermarket not if its busy as usual, but if it's busier than usual.
Media installs these anxioforms -- not everybody takes them, but we all can see those who do. Curse words don't even need to be processed -- the effect is immediate. We specularize a few cultural phobias and traumatize mental anguish to those who fall under it. A few traumas on the collective conscious hollow out creative space.
O doorbolt of sunrise! Don't interrupt my loving. Ama, with your ingenious perception and incomprehensible depths, remind me of what I already know. Oh moonsetter!
I talk to my friends, the missives come in pulses, and I ease the tension by making awkward admissions -- a sort of concession to buy myself time. I am never myself, I am always going through something, and I am only happy when I'm inspired. I write to you in despair or delight.
I've long lost the smothering mother and the exacting dad -- those forms were weak to me. I am always in you and through you, the pinnacle of everything, my darling unknown. You tell me that the opinions of the wisest are wrong, "Hold to your own." You open my mind like a book, you read your favorite passages.
Oh Allay of curious construction, oh endless origami, of infinite onion! Let me dive into the national types, the types of men each nation invents. National types are as physiological in their character as they are in attitudes and beliefs. How to find my own type, within these anxioforms?
Repetition and the use of daily life for topics bring me closer to my want. I feel ready to emanate the next step. Is there some hardness behind these over-gentle gestures? Peace drapes and conceals. Look at yonder moralists in their poisonous poise. No, serve only yourself. Escape the darts of their eyes. That morality over the heart -- our passions are doubled by it with the angst of suppression. I will not be defined by my opposition; this form is coming to the end of a long nine months.
My anxiety is a map through my body, bringing me to a truth that only now is ripe. All my pain is anticipation of writing, all my joys writing: and now I am writing a son. The bow of my brow, the arrow of my eyes, return as I gaze in my mirror. I nose through books, I must have passed this way long before; I find pieces of me wherever I go.
I, time weaver, braiding in reinforcing breaths, mental asides, soliloquies, annotations, mental snacks. I come to a new time.
Kindness is bringing out the beauty in another, love is a relationship to beauty, respect is a relation to power. Politeness is to treat others with benevolence when love and respect are undue. Science with its womb-peeking can't see such thoughts I'm brewing now. I become the Allfather. Let the world whip us for our virtue, I won't seduce another into praising me. Writers hope for better things than applause. I seek a new form, I am a new form, something new under the sun, and better still, I am a new sun.
Footsteps sound like kettledrums to the novice thief, and the apprentice magician can hardly believe such obvious tricks work; as I creep upon my future form I am just as giddy. Have the courage to be perfect.
Only a man who has gone insane knows how completely shaken self-trust can be. Self-doubt is the true hell, the loss of any God bearable.
To get outside your own head, to put a shard of your ego into the mind of another -- how alarming and fascinating to see the world through another’s eyes. We inwardly criticize all other points of view merely to maintain integrity. When we are confirmed in our truth, we can drop defensiveness, but to allege that a man should do so before he is able, what audacity! Expecting a man to empathize before he has his confidence sounds like religious presumption or moralistic imposture.
Oh the muchness of my writing -- no friend could read as fast as I write.
The body is a language, a nexus of languages. We publish our being into the world. A character is a map of anxiety, and in this anxiety is good. This use of egotism to hide social anxiety -- necessary for my state. How often I read with a fenced heart and scream out my eyes at the books that I hate.
The fish dance for the net, not for the fife; none will exult with me, but many will afterwards. They follow the teachers, but how tedious these teachers: they are either preaching to the choir or lecturing to the drowning. Follow the firsts. The first is supernatural, the second natural. Push it to the crisis! Those who try with all their strength therefore ever can, those who don't can't.
Spend your time with the timeless, pay the price for the priceless -- it is a child's whisper in the back of your head that gives you the final key. Full of flow, let yourself go. Such tragic nonsense as the world reports is amusing when it befalls others, but tragic when yourself. So embrace the trauma. Look at that frittering nerve:
"Anxious waking, angst at work, woke too late and done too slow, anxious love and angst in parting, anxious to be anxious." Prompt love and easy employment -- never a poet did boast. Give it up.
I give my whole to my love of the All. If the world would receive me -- but if not I at least am sufficient to myself. What more can be said? People never shut up about the ineffable. "Silence is golden" say the fools. They'd do better to say nothing at all -- for there is golden silence and there's silence that screws the thumbs. Find a talker, learn to marry well.
Receive in silence that silent gift. The Giver gives nothing -- that is his secret. He knows how to take.
Pure divine, I put my word on your face, I the father of a son, mercurial wonder, this coming of being, my mountain breaks the sky, I am the fountain to Luciana's star, her visage is thickened, she pays me respect, I the pen, and you, Ama, the ink; this Idius our son, you and me together. I am equal to the chains of time, I bend them into paths. I can do the dreaded thing, I storm the face of dawn.
Self doubt is my dynamo, the deltaic triangle of creative growth, the tension of my bow of directness, the repetitive spiral of my studies; I give myself over to her, to self doubt, my Luciana, and yet I resist. Shivat! My self-doubt has a name. She eternal engine of greatness -- ever daunts me on. Ama in this aspect is terrible indeed, but I am equal to it all. Some days and months to harden this down. What then is my new name? I the Raiser, I the Former, I, fit to fit, take the name of Mariwel.
\~ @M@ ~/
Sunday, October 21, 2012
A note on rhetoric
Live on wine. Like Odin, drink only fine wine -- you need no meat or bread when it comes to literary matters. Least of all read commentaries or books that make you sick. Do what you love to do, read what you love to read, and what speaks to your soul return to again. Twice is right. Find the infinite onions, and digest them eternally.
The rhetorical lush and flourish of life is having the beauty of truth. Some have the edge of truth, the ugly of truth, and they insist all the louder because they have, after all, the truth, but they have not found the beauty thereof. They haven't found the rhetorical angle to expose its gold.
Anticipation exaggerates -- use such devices to confound. A little ugliness can delay the face of beauty, and make her coming stark. Some truths can only be sought indirectly, angels dance out the corner of your eyes. Beautiful necessity will give you a hint of the way, as the veil of subtlety catches on the hard nail reality. All of life is the making of truth, and suffering is only the lesson. There is no oppression, only configuration; find the violence of necessity and throw it against the hard; let the soft remain pearly and rose.
We develop a rhetoric, we try the tropes. All those overly artificial tropes have the effect of trying to impress -- sometimes an appropriate affect. Onomatopoeia is a late etymological addition, to color language when a tongue comes to grey; a little onomatopoeia zips a sentence. Use all the tropes you wish, be sophisticated in such matters. Be like Kvasir who took the poetry off every god's tongue, and in his blood became the inspiration of gods and men. Or abide by Odin's return through Baldr: he took in and set everything in a wider frame. He never intruded or insisted; rather, he suggested. Often enough, he answered a question with another question. He made gods and men, giants and dwarfs feel that they had been helped to answer their own questions. Likewise, be subtle as a sigh, as lasting as history. It is the envy of evil which destroys the world at Ragnorrak, just as it is the evil of "righteous" who in envy destroy the world in the apocalypse, where the Messiah fuses with the four horsemen as the white horse of death. Such is the continuity and sustained uniformity of their world envy.
After all, things beget their opposites. Kierkegaard's greatest contradiction was to claim that Christianity was based on, supportive of, welcoming to individuality. This is oxymoronic. No religion is primarily for any sense of individuality. This is this, and alone will be, I blast to hell all Christians, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, and Taoists on this account; they expect you to love the divine more than yourself. Let them explain the true source of their conviction, if you would learn from them.
When the lie is sensed, the liar grows loquacious. See how they yammer the most when you touch the underpinnings of their faith, those points where they perjured themselves. The fool always wants the last word. Because Jesus spoke with authority rather than reasons his authority was continually challenged -- and his fantasy of being the king of the Jews cost him his life. True wisdom does not "Speak with authority" but makes you the listener feel empowered. "How do you escape an overwhelming emotion?" the humble wish to know. With even breathes, open acceptance, allowance of violent expression, and a deep love for all that is human, every affect can be expressed. Can an intelligent person be tricked about the intelligence of the person he is talking to? The other may play stupid, but who can play smart? A man who can speak a bit of Chinese can trick fellow English speakers -- they will listen to the little he knows and are willing to believe he is fluent. But when faced with a truly fluent and native Mandarin speaker, there is no hope of deceiving such a one. What? Will you affect a stutter? So too does a man who knows not bother with those who "Speak with authority."
Every rhetoric is a metaphysic, its words are a metonymy of the universe, a world. A personality is a center, knotting various rhetorics, a set of speaking styles. Personalities are strategies and rhetoric triumphs by persuasively formulating the competition's rhetoric. When you can anticipate the language of your opponent, when you can speak his side better than he, and parody, there is little hope for him. Let him go into solitude and again find his voice. And knowing that you cand do so, make the smallest gesture at it; the truth will be felt by all.
\ ~@M@~ /
Monday, October 15, 2012
in this essay I look at different style experiments with music and writing, and relate them into my themes of how one should play the game of life. Finding your own heart's beat, the rhythms of your consciousness and the way it changes the timing of your life -- this is essentially for fitting in with family and world systems.
Eru, Stylizing with Bipolar Rhythms
Making the Oasis
I the inseminated wound
Of the desert floor,
The cactus bloom
And vulture soar,
Build bricks of minutes
hours for pipes
From rocks of angst.
My clouds of green
Sky the sand
Power pays visit --
-- My vulture the rest.
With crooked fork
Through metal bread
My chopping pulse
Of fury rains.
Pact in peace when chance is done
I hold war's spill from jealous sun.
Some thoughts must be thought very slowly. Some authors contain only one sentence of truth, but expand this into a book, and are for a while listened to. For who can handle a sentence of truth unless expanded to the size of a book? Such books are popular and abysmally boring.
You say much more by omitting the obvious. Once you’ve known your truths, form them into beauty, attempt various styles.
Eru is a style of life and writing that moves from frantically energetic to deliberately slow and powerful pressure. Imagine a woman slapping a man’s face, but right when she was about to touch it, she slowly presses into his face with a powerful and graceful touch. Or lightning flying through the air, and right before the earth, easing into her and opening her like a yoni. Eru is a style one develops by allowing his mad flashes of insight to take him to the problem, and once there, he ungloves his surgeon's fingers and gives apt delicate detailing.
The moments of great explosive power give a manic godliness, a feeling of sherry, of intoxication. That glorious S when the yin and yang open like a smile the the tao bursts from its hidden water nature into the burning fire of logos: this is it, authors live for this moment. This is the way of all art: Odin means frenzy: we seek the moment when Tao becomes Lux, that light of language, when intuition becomes tuition, when the great God of our own slow soul speaks power into the world.
Yet in our lives and our writing the sloth must keep his pace: you must think much and dream much and waste time. You must go slow. We are inconsistent, that is our power. Every time you meet us we are somebody else. The modulation of times, as nuanced as an Ivesian symphony, puts us above time and in many time frames at once. Months of drought, torrents of love: blitzkrieg after pause.
War is the father of all things, peace the mother: we ever balance extreme against extreme, subtlety against subtlety. The war is ancient, the names are new. We fight for the same things mankind has fought for since the dawn of history. When war is comprehended, it will be spiritualized to a higher plane: but war is necessary. War will gloriously continue once the murder is removed. War is the play of ideas. Truth acts in justice. It is not so much that might makes right, but that right makes might: to be right, and to know you are right is to have might, to have the power to act with conviction. The guilty villain trips himself. Unevenness of character keeps the world surprised, keeps friends and enemies respectful and attentive.
The master's thoughts are deep and quick. The superficial think quickly, speak quickly, the sage thinks deeply, speaks deeply. To unite both is to speak the Lux of creation. The holiest word yet spoken? "Eureka!" I am as fast as lightening, and slow as thunder.
The creation of ideas in the form of intellectual tools, style-setters, method of interpretation, term-sets, to dredge riverbeds for passion's channels – for thinking, saying, and doing -- is the boon of history, science, and art. The style of Eru, slow and fast, dynamic, gives the heart a sensitivity to change – a mastery of both boredom and surprise. All emotion is music – the master of passion is the master of time.
Us madstars of the mind lead boring lives. Family is forever, friends merely passing: we prefer the adventures of thinking, the mad flights of fancy. I hold the serpent of the all coiled within my skull. I choose family and friends, a few and fruitful tribe to be my garden.
Repetition is pattern, it creates regularity, builds expectations, sets a norm, establishes comfort and intimacy, yet builds the tension and anxiety of boredom, a tension released by a surprise of relief and alarm, the excitement of the unfamiliar. Passion is the music of the ages and music is life.
Motions are by their nature dance, emotions by their nature music. Our changes of affect over time make the symphony of life, which latches to epitomized and carefully articulated external music as its symbol and intensifier -- the radio doubles the soul. Life is music, every moment flows into the rest. Not a second could be undone, for in resisting anything, we add to it resistance. Only resistance can be fought -- you can't attack the air -- you must provoke the enemy before you can attack, or as the police do with a peaceable but stubborn group of protesters, they send in an undercover cop to attack the police on behalf of the protesters to justify a retaliation. Violence must never be initiated, certainly, but it is easy enough to bait. One can make a red herring into a white whale, deliberately misunderstanding our opponent to such extremes that he exasperates himself. Our very rhythms and motions evoke their complementary antagonists.
The comfort of the familiar if taken too far leads to boredom -- boredom is a sort of death. The joy of recognition is a part of music and the musical effects of language. The joy of recognition compounds against the excitement of suspense and the thrill of surprise. These are the instincts we have to work with; they are fully animal, but playing with them is not animal, it is human, it is of the musing mind, the mental transcendence over instinctual mechanisms, playing upon the predictable, like a wind over the water.
The Elohim who "created" by fiat, without imagination, experiment, or creative pleasure -- which created like a king creates "Let there be..."-- are no model for us, nor is Allah who views mankind as slaves and claims his Quran always existed. So long have these Gods mocked us and invited mockery back -- lowering us, for humor is cruelty without conscience. But what if we don't play that game? What if we are after an inner emanation of our own music, our own style, our internal bent? I will never be popular for I have no desire to please. But I please myself and those like me. There is some internal resonance you and I have always shared.
I am an exhibitionist in my egotism -- I ever reference myself. I enjoy admiration and yet don't seek to please; I enjoy telling stories of myself; I brag of my weaknesses in mocking disconcern over those who would ferret my flaws. My ego is a phallus -- the Cock of God. When my mind is excited, I feel orgiastic and frenzied -- I please myself, I please the world, I beget new life, I beget heavens with my art. There is passion in my rhythms.
We talk of myths, we love such stories, we know their pragmatic heft. They are irreplaceable for the feelings and actions they inspire. One pragmatic use of "samsara," the reincarnation of souls, is to take the edge off this life. We'll have more chances, and if this life is especially painful, no worries, for we've had worse, and also better, and we will again. The deep myths and their gods live through the heroes, and the heroes through us.
My body is Ama's pen, my living is a writing. I began my life in laughter, alpha god I am, compressing by repetition these lifelong inevitabilities. The compression of the classical style--slow-controlled power over its subject--this is one of my turns, but so is romantic exuberance. If folly favors the foreign, I at least acknowledge it, but prefer what I know and am perfect at my daily-doing. I am the dispenser of divine gifts because I ever reach inwards to receive them.
Zeus was nursed by the goat, Odin the cow; nature nurses the divine, but in my childhood I was visited and nursed on angel's milk -- God is mammal. Birth to death I keep the same, I the cheerful greybeard who parts life with a kiss of gratitude. Laughter-loving friend of sorrow, polar in my moods.
The world insists being busy is being happy, and they accuse me of being baptized in Lake Superior, with my loaf and my laugh and my "I would prefer not to." Make your home in Ama, friends. Have no higher hope than your inner stream.
My heart beats at its own rate. I hate working at another's pace. I prefer the night, when I control the time. Being rushed and stressed is a tonic to others; but to me it can only freeze. Language, the universal solvent, softens the knot of my angst, stretches those muscles and sets them glowing. Love is the law, and I am the source, and I am the filter -- the universe and her universities filter through my mind. Faith is faith in yourself, faithlessness is betraying yourself; hold to your love and you will also love the world. Oh, my pious fools, dancers to those pipes:
A slave of God, not men
But a still a slave for all that
Afraid of God, not men
But still afraid for all that.
A man must be something in himself
A separate greatness
Without reference to anything else
He his own reason for being
He needs no excuse or explanation
For being forever himself.
Every situation is a system of logics -- the overall logical signature of each situation is its logos -- unique and yet with parallels that open it to be used as an explanatory analogy, parable, metaphor: and so I use it all. The situations are thick and self-contradictory, that is how they create. No biographer of a great man has ever found his subject “consistent and without paradox.” Any careful study of a life reveals paradox. Tensions in the soul are dynamos, engines of creativity. Imbalance inspires.
My morning Orientation is the time of the day to see the parts of my life in terms of my purpose – and thereby set my pace. I must be ruthless and unsentimental about husbanding my resources, which are comparatively scant -- I'm in many ways less able than most people in work, so I must plan around it. Where will is lacking, wit must fill. We must fight to instate the American Dream, but that dream spiritualized is the knocking on the door of our Apotheosis, as Ive's Concord Sonata laid bare. Name and Structure are the inner of in -- Name our centermost, Structure our Soul. I end my day in writing and Mirror-Meditating into Talk with Ama. In this my anxieties and panics are cured, I am perfected and able to glow, full of creative jism.
Long arms and short feet, I seldom leave my home, but create these words in the rhythm of Eru. Daydreams taste better than meals; the very thought of my readers excites me. And my life? Necessity absolves all -- each of my shortcomings was necessary, fits in, optimism is the highest truth because it alone can ordinate all things to their optimum. Not God, but Man makes this the best of all possible worlds. Your music sets the world dancing. Do what is in you to do. Think of the music of your moods and the dance of your actions.
I love to be challenged but not discouraged. A challenge suggests something better is possible, discouragement recommends that you quit. I married no flatterer, and that on purpose -- she is difficult to impress but worthy of impressing. I create in the shade of a modest oasis, praise comes barely -- the most I can take. The timing must be right on criticism and accolades. Like comedy and music, all of life must come on time. Lacking that, it compensates.
Musicality is the emotional aspect of language, the mythic is that which implies action and impulse. The use of flow to suggest movement and pauses to relax or frustrate, the use of cadence and word-texture, are all gestures calling to mind and body the affect of action. Thus we fall into the mindset of poetry. When I am poetry my mind finds assonance and consonance easy and flowing. Remember the beauty of wide empty spaces, like bare cupboards and bald desktops. My favorite books are blankbooks, for they incite me to write. My ambition fills the world. Greed is philanthropy: I seek to gain the highest power to give better gifts to the world. The great symphony makes such struggle into musical images. How then to be a God without struggle? I accept my expanses of slowness and the dull, my flash of quick in the flow of Eru. Poetry binds the gods because time binds eternity. The pace and the beat set the man on his path.
\ ~@M@~ /
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Here I continue some of the ideas about power and institutions by introducing them to the mental spaces of the logosphere, a world of ideas, and the mythosphere, a world of ideas. I combine insight into the individual with the way groups and systems think of themselves. Each man's mythosphere, or the stories he refers to, realize themselves around him in real life.
Logosphere and Mythosphere
Some people think about people, some people think about ideas -- whatever one's emphasis, it goes a long ways in determining his personality. For mental space we have two spheres, the logosphere and the mythosphere; the logosphere is the world of pure ideas, concepts, logical forms, and such stuff, but the mythosphere is a layer that contains all that, but colors it with personalities and characters. The more abstract of the two, the logosphere -- a world of mathematics, logic, and philosophy -- disorients most visitors; they enjoy it in small doses, but they prefer the mythosphere, where, in its most mythical aspect, gods and heroes struggle and triumph, or where, in its mundane aspect, people live lives.
We could imagine the logosphere as being the highest and most rarified, and yet being fully contained in the mythic, the mythic pressing into living forms of social institutions, languages, and physical structures, and those influencing Mundania, the day-to-day life, the actual hands of work and chores and family and eating and sleeping and so forth. As we pass down from the "pure forms" to the lower layers, each contains within its being the higher layers. What this ultimately means is that your mundane everyday life contains the enactment of philosophical ideas and religious myths: they live through you and all that you do. They lend you authority.
What is authority? It is having a worthy experience, and having the ability to share it. What I write nobody else could. A few peers sit with me, but we are not interchangeable. I cannot say what any of them could say, and repeating a thing is not saying it. Copying is not writing, quoting is not speaking, aping is not making. One must prepare his mind to make it capable of universal truths, capable of receiving his greatest possible experience. One can't simply correct a sage or philosopher -- their failure stays with us, and where they succeed is forever success. The freedom gained by others you too can take.
Freedom is the space to move, power is the moving. Freedom is negative, power positive. The ideas clear out space, space in the logosphere by which to think. Every society has its own logosphere which interrelates with those of other societies, like the puzzle pieces of a globe, forming a full world logosphere; and each of us has an individual logosphere that interacts with the others. Few of us can get at the nuanced ideas we wish to touch; when we think of justice we don't think of a definition, we think of a fitting example. Considering that example gives a feeling of what justice is, and that feeling is its definition. Verbal formulas such as the dictionary gives are not definitions, but are meant to evoke a definite meaning, which is a conscious experience.
Freedom is God, is a space to create. Self-imitation sheds conformity, we identify our best moments and accentuate them. We each seek a domain of control, something to call our own, for what is owned is part of our body, it is our right to use it as we see fit. Our own ideas are tainted a bit when we put them into conventional language.
We circle in from the logosphere, the mythosphere, and then society, with its languages, conventions, and institutions. Institutions exist to protect the integrity and value of an idea. The underminers attempt to interpret away the truth and demean authority, mocking it for pretense. The Authority who upholds a truth has experienced it and created it from the flesh of his experience. As our institutions are redefined, so they lose their hold. I recall my grandmother, a devout Catholic, relating the story of a church being sacked in some third-world country, and a pious young woman risking her life to visit its grounds and to lift up the spilled host with her bare lips -- laity was forbidden to touch the body of Christ. After telling me of that act of piety which obviously impressed her, she then told me the Church has changed their policy so that laity are allowed to handle the host. It was clear that the change in policy had done violence to her story. Nothing is more depressing than wasted effort. The logosphere of the church had changed, and every member feels the difference.
The logosphere moves through us with language, but truths are borne from experience. The man with a deep and powerful experience is challenged by those who haven't had it, who would sooner call it counterfeit than prepare their soul to receive. This is natural and necessary. But if the man has Faith, which ultimately means faith in himself, he won't conform or pollute his experience with common language.
Yesterday sees me as a butterfly, tomorrow as but a worm. Beneath my logosphere, which is electric with ideas I've learned and made up, my creative self centers it all. I grow with it and through it. We each choose characters to think of, people and types of people who catch our interest, whose bare mention tickles our ear, so that we are avid studiers of certain personalities, and have so digested what is beautiful that we are capable even of a love at first sight.
I keep the imposing ideas at bay, and slowly assimilate the world to my own. America itself had to quickly assimilate the hordes of immigrants, and she got efficient and powerful at quickly making the influx one with herself. That spiritual technology, the idea of it, any American can pick up, as its been in his bosom since infancy. The grand world-historical events are at the mundane edge of the mythosphere; inwardly they are knitting and tightening complex and handsize ideas we can take for our own.
The spiritual oppression of the religious does not even need to resort to physical violence to hold us down. They of course did use violence, ever and again, medieval Europe invented most of the torture devices and for this purpose, but the oppression can overwhelm us merely by the collective frowns of our neighbors and friends. We wish for freedom and yet wish not to side with the resenters. We abhor those wicked people who made "Eurocentricism" an opprobrium. "Theory" is an acid over truth, liquid resentment, attempting to drill holes in the teeth of philosophy and to yet claim the holes were there all along. They know that the undecidable is rhetorically expedient, it challenges mastery. What one can't explain, he can't anticipate or control. But we know that freedom of thought is more important than feeding the poor, the spiritual goods are the most important of all, and we don't concede to their moral blackmail. We cut them off.
What do all these divorces and breaks amount to anyway? I will unjustly condemn you to make distance, and then qualify my remark in kindness, once it is sure we are split. Intimacy is unjust. The ending of intimacy is also unjust. I want something new, I dare the terrible, I need my own cognitive space, my niche in the logosphere. Nothing is more shocking than the denier of habitual assumptions. Children in all cultures take their world in stride -- only an adult would feel cultural shock entering a new culture. The toddler watches television never thinking it odd, but show such technology to an ancient man and he would be shocked. This is why my weird ideas can either be given the mask of everyday "of course" or be held in my bosom far from your startle.
Our "official" desires keep us in suspense, but our pragmatic desires are what we actually achieve. As a churchgoer, as a party member, as a member of this company or that, we have official desires we pretend at, even half believe we mean, and that is exactly what the group wants. But your personal petty wants and jealousies and nonsense the group cares nothing about, or pretends to so to better twist your arm behind your back.
Our individuality compromises to the group we join. Everybody adds a twist -- a Christian with a difference, a romance writer who's also Goth, a housewife who teaches yoga, the standard tied to the exception. The opprobrium of conformity is justified to our individuality with this twist, this petty difference. But what if we invent more forms than a mere twist? What if we create genres, whole art forms?
We have our secrets. That private space of our thoughts can readily be intuited by a man in the know. The groups who would use us sense the range of our use, the full arrangement of ideas in our logosphere, and the passions and desires that hold them in place. Guilt grows paranoid, ever remembers its crime, imagining miraculous and occult chains of causality, punishing gods, mocking demons -- the random good and bad of life gains a tainted interpretation. Nobody needs to guess your secret to see you have a secret; and seeing that, they can control you.
The individual uses groups in the same way. A great man is made so by self-editing his soul. This means he deliberately or compulsively puts himself in the way of editing dangers, that he meditates, prays, teaches, or in some other way objectifies his subjectivity for himself and the world. He heroically opposes worlds and nations.
We identify with certain gods, or if some God has so blinded himself that he feels he is the only one, than the believer resorts to his unique take on that God. Zeus is direction, Hermes indirection; Odin direction, Loki indirection. But there is something indirect in Odin -- more wits than will. Our religious or sacred view is rhetoric, it is the italics over a phrase, it means neither more nor less than "this is most important." It is a layer, a part of those daily spheres -- the family sphere, the work sphere -- where we actually spend all our time.
We talk shop and readily use a professional jargon in an environment of shared experiences. The doctor sometimes talks medicine at home, but at work it is natural. Every relationship that is permanent enough to become regular involves a new language, as a subset, or more specifically, a playing field between two positions. Sometimes both idiolects sound alike, but other times they both sound unique to that situation, and different from each other, as between the teacher and student. Insofar as power is relevant to the relationship, one language will try to comprehend the other, and succeeds when he can impress his language and valuations on the mind if not the tongue of the other. When I anticipate your language, move-for-move, I can control it, I own it. When the deviant starts to see himself as the conventional see him, to secretly believe it, he has been conventionalized, and his deviancy is expected, anticipated, perhaps even admired, though not without being patronized.
The group energizes you through situated language. The words are genuine because of their placement, but to quote the words out of context could not energize in the same way, just as a wife can't cheer up her husband by saying "I'm giving you a raise," when his boss had in fact said "you're fired." The language is the spiritual positioning, the bones and sinews, of the group body. Words have meaning, have affect because they are authorized and unique. Nobody else could mean them in the same way.
Sinning is pious for Christians; it confirms Paul's view, it gives him that honor. Evil is done in the name of love because love is evil -- it has that capacity, men are unjust out of love, nor is an interested party allowed to adjudicate. For group coherence -- Eros -- outsiders, noncitizens, enemies, are fair game, their rights don't count. The Nazis were a love party, we must remember that, and who had more hope and higher ideals than the communists; with such beauty lodged in one's imagination, is there a limit to the ugliness one will do to secure it?
Walk in a man's field, his language field, where he labels all things for you, or at least treats them according to the labels he's thinking, and you'll start to walk in step with him, to enter his world. Religions are world invaders, they expect you to take up their point of view, and they disvalue those of differing values. We all want to please, at least on an unconscious level, we hate to disappoint, we fit the expectations and stereotypes and pet theories of that man, and he adores us for it. If he hates republicans or feminists or Muslims or what else and you happen to be one, he expects you to confirm his hate, not force him to rethink it. Rethinking takes effort and the pain of uncertainty, he is unlikely to draw close to you and see you for what you are unless he secretly is ready for a little growth. When we begin to hate somebody, we are even delighted when they do us further wrong, if only to confirm and justify our judgment. When we are looked on with hate, we grow anxious. A man in doubt puts angst on his actions lest he make the wrong move. Those who act quickest think the least, either from stupidity or wisdom. In a world of mistrust, how can we act with ease?
One feels a lonely misfit only because he doesn't know who his true peers are, or where to find them. History and fiction give him a clue and a means for tracking down the living contemporaries who can equal him.
In desperation we come to this new being -- this institute, convention, genre--which has its own necessities. We came to it for personal reasons, yet to use it we must oblige its needs. Better to remember the pantheon of greats who are the true peers of our heart. The spirit of our peers hoists us up. If a painter or athlete had befriended men who were gods in disguise, and who could accomplish more than humanly possible, so would he, and yet feel discouraged he was merely their shadow.
Our people are the handles we put over ideas. Those people who raised us and influenced our youths are the true archetypes, and the work relationships, the families of our own, the religious figures, all the rest fit into that niche in the mythosphere. Our deepest memory is the myth of our being, that story we are here to enact. And yet we blind ourselves to that, we focus on stories and events. We see a movie, and one character matters to us, though nobody else notices her. Certain types fascinate us, either as reflections of our secret self-image, or worthy foils for making it stark. Our circle of friends are the mundane manifestations of the logosphere, and our friends catch the appropriate dance we would have them perform, they fit our expectations, and wrestle them a bit. We define each other; my light shines on you and yours on me. You praise me a little more than I deserve and I struggle to improve myself to justify your esteem.
If we could make analogies more readily, we would see that all our world is inhabited by a narrow set of ideas that take various forms, and of the billions of people on earth, there is but a small cast that matters to us.
Each of us has a logosphere and a mythosphere which is vulnerable, insofar as we care, to friends, to groups, to the world as a whole. The world would convince us to look at ourselves as it does, and this we must never do. We must be rude and cruel and wicked and bad, whatever terms they attempt to throw on us, so long as we forever insist and never deny the self of our real self and the truths of our deepest experience.
\ ~@M@~ /
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I've moved into heavy editing mode, and began with part one of book one of the the perfect idius. This section is entitled "Necessity" and is about 20 pages. This includes the introduction to the work, the first thing written; I penned it in 2001, adapting it from my first diary entry in 1999. This section represents the first thoughts I've had on what would lead to allism. I've edited the work many times since 2001, giving it a thrice over right now. Editing is endless, and one can't be cruel enough. Any feedback on this section you have will be interesting to me.
Every man and woman is a monarch. The monarch caterpillar eats the poisonous milkweed which will make him, when adult, poisonous to the devouring birds. Likewise, each of us spends the beginning of his life enthralled in lessons, learning, growth, and the creation of personality. We enter our chrysalis, metamorphose, and emerge a monarch butterfly.
A lick of flame through the stark blue sky, he fears no attacking bird. Weaned from sour milk, he freely sips sweet nectar. But first, the chrysalis. How silent broods the caterpillar within his palace of jade! You would think him asleep. He lies within the unblemished jewel of a prince's tomb, a hobgoblin made vile during his own transformation. He is not remotely asleep. This exhaustive labor of self-birth epitomizes his struggle. He endures these subtle degrees between fat land worm and flower of the wind. The exchange of earth bound legs for majestic wings and coarse jaw for delicate spoon of honey crown this Monarch as a new creation.
It is no surprise then that few of us wish to endure this reform, with its stages of ugliness, with its uncertain identity, with its renouncing of habit and custom. Yet the freedom of fulfilled purpose is worth the labor, the life is worth the death. The ancients tell us "know yourself." The moderns return, "be yourself." These are two steps of three: know yourself, change yourself, be yourself. We choose the self we want to be, and from our own become. First, we must know ourselves: the goal of introspection.
Like the plump caterpillar, we contain everything needed to introspect and transform; no new lesson, no new teacher, no new text is required. The common experience of every adult suffices for metamorphoses. Indeed, common sense is most common, for if blind to some, we see the other, and clearly. And what we see, we systemize: we pattern our knowledge, acquire understanding, and prepare new habits. Further education is noble, but let us sharpen our knives before we cut; let us inspect our inspection, judge our judgment, contemplate our contemplation, and discipline our disciplining.
Introversion is the labor; extroversion the birth. Do not rot within that chrysalis! The mature man has a dog-eared soul; he returns to introspection as needed, but seeks also the world. The joy of introversion is not enough; it ultimately isolates us, and isolation is the root of unhappiness. The introvert must turn from himself and take in the world. Through immersion in such a love he will finally transcend again into the everblessed All. He becomes the Psychic God, and never ceases becoming.
This text is redundant, a reminder of what we know to be true, an identifying and formalizing of what is already in us. The monarch looks from his highest height at Book One, The Life of Allism, then flies into the thick of the field, skating over the field of Book Two -- All-Reading -- and the dance of Book Three -- All-Writing -- approaching the Eternal Blossom at last in the universal Book Eight -- Religion of Religions. This flight defines Allism, a simple truth swaddled in complexity.
Let us now discover what we know to be true.
* * *********************
* * *body
* * * ******************
* * * *mind
* * * * ***************
* * * * *habits
* * * * * ************
* * * * * *assumptions
* * * * * * *********
* * * * * * *memories
* * * * * * * ******
* * * * * * * *NEEDS
All men and women live according to the life of their mind, a life in accordance with their philosophy—the systemizing of ideas. System emanates as personality, personality as character. A hedonist seeks joy in his attitude, seeks joy in his thinking, seeks joy in his personality, seeks joy in his actions. Even the most carefree and thoughtless laborer harbors a humming engine of ideas beneath his skin. Insofar as life is to be lived, and lived well, one must think well, and so understands his own philosophy. To do this, each must consider his philosophy in its basic assumptions. My assumptions are graphed in the Map.
In the garden that is a man, Need grows up like a seedling in the soil of memories, putting out roots of assumptions to nurture its purpose; our habits carry the force of this purpose into the flower of the mind and the leaves of the body, which blow in the world's breath, and drink in the sun of the universe.
In other words, the schema breaks down like this: Man needs; these needs imprint memories, these memories systemize into assumptions, these assumptions blueprint habits, these habits incite the mind, this mind moves the body, this body senses the world, and this world presents the universe.
Man is his needs and is his tools for fulfilling these needs. We need food, air, shelter, relationships, love, knowledge, achievements, and many other things: lacking some, we suffer; lacking others, we die. Since all our concerns—love, play, work, art—depend upon us living, needs insist themselves as primary.
Needs record as memories. A memory reexperiences events mixed with our need's reaction to those events. We remember a ruddy sunset, we remember a tearful loss, we remember a clever idea. Memories lump into episodes and abbreviate into event-names. We remember “last summer” in a few minutes; it does not take a whole other summer to remember.
Memories crystallize into assumptions. Without order, memories would be useless. We assume truth from memory, the truth of what we should do. I may remember touching the flame, but unless I assume it will again burn, that I ought beware, then that memory will only taunt and distract. Memories are the concrete things we experienced, assumptions are the abstract things we pull from them. We abstract the concept of blackness from seeing night, cats, and charcoal pictures. A child perceives blackness, abstracts black, notices that black can be beautiful, and decides she ought to use a black crayon to color a night sky.
Assumptions build habits. We assume what is true, and decide what to do; having decided, we desire. We assume music pleases, assume we ought to please ourselves, and habitually listen to music. Acting wants repeating: the more we do something, the more we want to do it. Habits desire to feel, think, talk, and act in certain ways. We habitually laugh at comedies, habitually consider the plots, habitually discuss them, and habitually go home afterwards.
The desires of habit influence mind. Mind is not how we think, but that we are aware. Awareness is an eye within a palm: what it sees, it may grab with focus. Mind can view the narrative of memory, the concepts of assumptions, the desires of habits, the sensation of itself moving and of the body's placement in the world. By focusing on a habit, we enact it; by moving across ideas, we connect them.
The mind moves the body. We will our body to dance and it dances; we will our body to speak and it speaks. The body is limited to five main senses, bound by shape and perspective. By the strength of its muscles, bound by their shape and vigor. Through our senses and muscles we master the world.
The body lives in the world of the senses. In this world, we see our friends move, hear them talk, but we can neither see nor hear their mind. The people we love, the facts we incorporate, and the objects we possess, inhabit our world.
The world of the senses is but a small part of the universe as a whole: all history, all matter, all geography, all people, all that exists in the absolute moment.
An infant needs food. She feels hunger, remembers asking for her bottle and so getting it, assumes that asking again will win her the bottle again. and develops the habit of asking. The habit incites her mind. Her mind moves her body, and so she approaches mom, asks, and receives. She so masters the world.
Man needs; to meet these needs he uses the tools of memories, assumptions, habits, mind and body; he applies these tools on the objects of the world, and so, on the universe as a whole: needs, tools, objects, whole.
This "Map of the Universe" stacks up symmetrically. Needs are primary; the experience of needs are part of what is memorized, memories are part of what makes up assumptions, assumptions are part of what makes up habits, habits are part of what makes up a mind, the mind is part of what makes up the body, the body is part of what makes up the world, the world is part of what makes up the universe.
From this system, all else follows.
PART 1: NECESSITY
To understand ourselves, let us consider existence. To exist is to need, for essence implies need, in that we need what is essential for our existence. Whatever exists has requirements for it to continue to so exist: a rock requires cool temperatures to remain solid; an idea requires a mind to think it; a fish requires water to breath.
Need is the core of human existence and the starting point for all else. Reason, awareness, and the unconscious are mere its tools. Needs, fundamental to the being of man, are the requirements for man's psycho-biological existence, and so also for health and happiness, which his functions seek to fulfill. The "needs" of nonliving matter are passive, the needs of life dynamic: they guide its functions. In this, the needs of life are not essential or intrinsic, but fundamental. They are fundamental in that they found what exists in man, and insofar as we are to exist, we must fulfill our needs. Needs are fundamental in that our psycho-biological functions imply an objective (food for the stomach and the stomach for life); our faculties serve necessity, for if they existed for something unnecessary we could freely dispense with them, and this is clearly not the case.
Of all objects of awareness, need insists itself as most real, most immediate, most important, allowing no other focus its airs except in reference to necessity. Whatever doubts a skeptic may entertain about the world, mind, or self, his need demands constant consideration—presupposes consideration—and therefore need necessitates itself the most certain and meaningful reality of human awareness. All people in all places at all times attend their needs. Whatever doubts may come out of a man's mouth, food must go in it; whatever a man may say about man, he must speak to men; whatever a man may doubt about reality, he must relate to it. To seek a first principle implies a lack -- one needs it. Seeking presupposes consciousness, consciousness presupposes need. Man's first principle: life lives. For living means acting to fulfill needs. The infant understands this first, the adult understands this best.
Necessity is a sun which pulls in its fuel and keeps memory, assumption, habit, mind, and body orbiting. Need is a centering center.
In sum: man, at heart, is his needs.
If man, at heart, is his needs, what is man? Since he creates via reason, man is the ratio-creative life form. A form of life? What is life? Life is productive and reproductive organized energy. It is productive in that it produces a body, an environment, and in the case of humans, thinking patterns, interpersonal relationships, art, philosophy and technology. It is reproductive in that the body continually reproduces its parts and through childbirth reproduces its whole. It is organized energy in being a melody of movement. Life is fulfilled through liveliness. The essence of life is needs.
Needs are the requirements for life. Why search for the meaning of life when life is meaning? Meaning is life. All meaning enhances life and every fulfilled life is meaningful. There is no meaning to life outside of the life that it is. For if we needed something beyond life, why do we need but for life? Meaning is the eye of life. Life needs.
What does life need? Goods. A good is an object or objective which fulfills a need. To be good is to fulfill your needs. To be bad is to deny your needs. To be evil is to willfully deceive yourself, and thus thwart your basic means to survival: creative reason. Evil is not a privation of good, but a mismatch movement of reason. "The only thing that is really good is a good will"–-but good for what? Goodness is not primary. Life is. The delicatessen's will for food is no good if he starves. Will must find purchase; beyond that it is useless.
What is the will of the needs? If life contains various needs, what is the shape and bent of them all? Do they bow to a greater purpose? What is the sum and summum bonum of the needs? How is life most fulfilled? What more than by Creativity? Man's overgoal is Creative Greatness. For creativity centers all goodness.
Man needs creativity more than he needs humanity. Passion is greater than love. If only one childless couple appeared every thousand years, to write, till, talk, converse, love, and experience creativity, though they left not a scrap behind them, they would be fulfilled. As would be the next pair, with no reference to the former. Life would be fulfilled in this: my life suffices to itself. I need no priors to bequeath me fortunes, I need no posterity to lap up my honey. That we have these things merely deepens what every living person already owns: a mind to focus on his circumstances and to create his choice. No person, however destitute, lacks this; every man is consciously creative, and that is the full meaning, purpose, and glory of his life. Poverty, disease, decrepitude, and still he holds that burning ball. Every man wears his halo: every man holds his awareness.
Is life to live under any and all conditions? No, the will to life is not survival by any definition, for life is not primarily concerned with survival, but with a certain mode of survival, namely, as a doer of lively activities. Beyond that, life need not continue. Conditions arise inimical to life: the life of my justice may call me takes risks I may fulfill my life through death. Life is always worth living -- conditions improve. Suicide denies life, but risk I welcome when the prize is worthy.
If needs are one, is will one? The will to perfection, the will to power, the will to productivity, and the will to life are synonymous. Life acts, and activity allows life. Life is the only end, a constant beginning and becoming. A life-form has aim, and aim aims at life, for nothing can aim but life, and nothing can be aimed at save life. Every motive, every desire, every lust, longing, sadness, joy, depression, and exultation is a sublimation of the will to life. The energy of self-production is the energy that that flows into all activity. Creativity is a value for life; what then is the value of life?
Life is not a value, but the purpose of value. There is no value to my life, but everything has value according to the standard of my life. For an economy cannot be bought or sold, but determines how things are bought and sold. The economy has no value to itself, but attributes value within itself.
Life elects goods, but does goodness exceed life? Goodness fulfills need, but can goodness exceed it? Does a starving sculptor exceed his need? One need sacrificed for another. We need certain goods in degrees, others, as much as possible; we need only so much calcium in our diet, but we always need more beauty, more truth, more kindness, more justice, more politics, more productivity–the unlimited goods. These we ought to seek with our full vigor-–indeed, vigor exists for this-–yet what is this "ought"? Why "ought" a man do anything?
Morality is doing what you ought; it refers to actions, and the action of creating habits. Why ought a man do anything? Because it fulfills him. Given it is self-evident we ought to do what is really good for us, and given what is really good for us is to fulfill our needs, then it is our moral obligation to fulfill our needs, at all costs and without consideration to anything else. Motivation, which inspires all actions, is a function of necessity. Needs are duty, duties are needs.
How is it self evident that we ought to do what is really good for us? Self evidence means the opposite is inconceivable. Indeed, the opposite here, that we ought to at least sometimes do what is really bad for us, is inconceivable. Whenever it is taught that we ought to do good for others without considering our own happiness, the justification alleges some reward that outweighs the loss. "Self-sacrifice and selflessness are moral, even if this harms you, or costs your life." Why? Who is it good to? Good is relative to persons. How is it good to me to die for you? Never deny a need unless that fulfills one greater. No morality has ever and can ever prove self-sacrifice good, for man can only be good to himself; man can only be a good to others.
Yet, a man may fulfill his own life by dying for another. Let us assume there is no afterlife. Is it right to die for another? If you value her, and you value yourself loyal, then it is life-fulfilling to die for your loyalties and values. For to live life knowing yourself a coward tortures and denies life. Life is only worth living if lived right. Sometimes dying is the only moral act possible. For life needs not to persist in any character, but only in a good character.
One may die for his own sake, for the sake of being loyal. No act is good for its own sake. Men have sakes, and the sake of meaning is my own. I do not give for your sake, but for mine as giver.
If there is a hell, would it be good to die for my sake as a lover if in the afterlife I would go to hell, to burn in her place, where I would feel no pride for my decision, but panic and dread for all time, becoming a coward, grazing in the flames? Hell annuls my self-value, ripping away my virtues. How could it fulfill me to suffer for all time? By the morality of self-sacrifice, however, this would be the highest good.
Dying for another may fulfill even as it ends your life, just as letting another die, while you persist, may also fulfill, depending on your values and situation. Either way, you need to be true in life and death to your values; as long as your mind lives, you must consider what is in your long-term best interest.
So let us first and foremost, and to the exclusion of anything else, fulfill our needs. Let us also fulfill our need to be kind. Abuse is not self-interested. We need to kindly love. The miser shivers on his money pile, the bully bleeds with his victims, the gossip deafens herself. Given this need to love, an extension of self love, emphasis on our own needs necessarily directs us to care for others.
"That is selfish." Would that men were more selfish, for they would be kinder and greater. Selfishness is love for one's own life. Its opposite is suicide, the fear of life. Selfishness versus suicide. Selfishness respects all selves. Abuse then is a form of suicide, a concern for a certain set of needs denying our need to love. A loving heart is a selfish prize. Where your treasure is, there also is your heart. And, truthfully, your heart is your treasure.
"Your life was a gift. You don't own it." If I am my life, then this gift has no receiver. I am I. Our parents do us the favor of “giving” us life, giving us a self, we return this favor by living our life, by being ourselves. I did not need to be created, therefore life gave no benefit. There was no one to benefit. Life is no gift. Being raised and loved was good and for that we love and respect our parents. However, our life itself is the only thing we fully own because we never didn't and never won't. Gratitude would be meaningless here.
"Your life is a gift from God." If there were a God, he would create our needs according to how we ought to exist, she would responsibly command us to do what is good for us, and if she rewarded and punished, these too accord with our needs.
"Man's purpose is to benefit mankind." Rather, the species exists so individuals may live. Species is abstract. Individuals reproduce and enculturate one another to express themselves ("I will raise my children my way.") We benefit "mankind" for reciprocation.
"Man needs to belong to a group." Belongingness is a relationship the individual seeks for selfish fulfillment. My life owns itself, is for itself, and cannot be owned by anybody else. What I choose to trade from love or fear is by choice and not by duty.
Why should I do this or that thing? Why should I do anything? Should shoulds exist? Isn’t this very question a paradox? We must answer, shoulds exist, and so are objective, they have being, and can only be imagined to exist using the function they serve. Unless the should commits suicide (“there shouldn’t be shoulds”) then we must ask further, “Why do shoulds exist?” They are ideas, and we know what ideas are for: to empower us to fulfill our needs. Shoulds exist for this. There can be no question “To be or not to be?” or “should I exist at all?” since that very should is already in reference to the should-er, the one who shoulds for a purpose, for personal fulfillment. Suicide, in an ultimate sense of absolute extinction, should never be sought.
If duty is need, and happiness is felt when need is fulfilled, then it is our duty to please ourselves; indeed, this is our only duty. Nevertheless, pleasure is not the goal.
Some have used the word "happiness" for what he seeks for its own sake, and not for the sake of anything else. How should we complete the sentence, "I want to be happy because…"? What do we say? We say, "I want to be happy because then my needs are fulfilled." That is not to say that we need to be happy. Happiness is to keep us living right, but we do not live to be happy. We exist to exist and our purpose is to choose our purpose, realizing our fullest potential. Therefore, immediate pain is no evil, as happiness is good, for both are tools. We may use inevitable sufferings for good. Needs are smarter than water, which seeks its downward goal stupidly, getting caught in cups, lakes, and dams. Needs know they must deny themselves, must go against gravity a little to find a better path. Suffering can be good. Pain is an impulse with a strong sense of immediacy -- a strong motivator.
But what if pain and joy were reversed, and good health meant pain, and poor health joy? Would one pursue health? Perhaps an adult knowledgeable of the situation would survive, but this would require staunch will and firm reason. Yet what if staunch will felt like morbid weakness? What if firm reason ached the head? Could one survive? True, if our tools were different, we would die, for we need them as they are. Yet though we cannot imagine life without joy, that does not mean life is for joy. Joy is for life. We are happy to meet our needs, needs being the end, happiness the means. However, the two are one when we say that, whether we feel happy or not, happiness is fulfillment.
"Virtues do not make happy. Happiness makes virtuous. Those who are full in themselves must cast their joy abroad for––relief! Unshared joys revenge themselves. The depressed man takes antidepressants. Back on his feet, he smiles and helps others. His joy lead him to kindness. Happiness makes virtuous, not the visa verse.”
Yet Aristotle says, "Happiness is the chief good of man, the activity of his soul in accordance with virtue. Happiness is the end of action."
Happiness is the state of being good, of achieving goods and good objectives, not a feeling only, but an activity. We must recognize goodness in order to seek it; our reason is enough goodness to dampen even the driest seed; one needs but a germ to achieve virtue's germination. Happiness makes virtuous. A good fulfills life, a virtue seeks goods, and happiness is to gain the good. Virtue makes happy.
If need is duty, and if our duties must be known to be performed, then man must know his needs. This is the agenda of introspection, first to know one's needs and second to understand the tools that fulfill them.
We feel our needs through the running commentary of our mood. If I am depressed for weeks, I know some need is wanting. Pleasure is need met, suffering need denied.
Yet, does introspection fail us? For though we may know our wants without mistake, our needs elude us. What we thought a need was merely a want, and what we wanted we did not need. Man is a labyrinth, walled over with conflicting desires, and the call of Need echoes within, though we know not where from. As we search, we must make the crucial distinction between natural needs and conscious wants. Yet wants imply need. Every want is a habit which at some time fulfilled some need to some degree, for we made the habit to want in accordance with that need. A man may smoke cigarettes because this initially fulfilled his need for peer acceptance, or for a unique identity, though now it alienates him from peers and stereotypes him as a "smoker." As for addiction, he only "needs" to smoke based on a disease of the body, as a heart patient "needs" a pacemaker, for his body has become dependent. His greater need is usually to quit. Likewise, each of man's wants imply some need or needs. So introspection's first considers is our wants.
Man needs to fulfill his wants. For if one failed to get everything he wanted, though somehow his other needs were met, he would nevertheless become first frustrated and finally insane. Frustration denies man's need for potency, self-esteem and independence. If a man were hospitalized, fed through a machine, and attended by nurses, yet could not eat as he wanted, nor talk to whom he wanted, nor move his body as he wanted, he would suffer dearly. Clearly then, man needs to get what he wants. Yet specific wants can negate other needs. For though a need fulfilled pleases and a need denied pains, each want fulfills and denies multiple needs interfering with each other. If I want to avenge murder, I may deny my need for safety while still fulfilling my need for justice. Wisdom pursues the wants that fulfill greater needs, and deconstructs the wants that thwart them.
With such complexity in each want, it is difficult to dissect which needs are fulfilled and denied. Which wants fulfill which needs? In the long run, right wants bring more joy then wrong wants; they fulfill more needs, and the more important needs. Pain and pleasure signify primary needs.
Yet this distinction is blurred by the need to value. For we need to value an object more than the natural joy it gives. We love something because of what we think of it. One woman loves being kind to those in pain because she values charity. Another, however, is reminded of her inadequacy to handle her own pain, and seeing a dying man feels good to scorn him. Both are need-driven attitudes, both represent the values built upon different but equally real needs.
Is it possible to value badness? Consider the happy evil doer. Is he possible? How is he able to avoid guilt if he is cruel? If he was cruel to himself, he would frown. And if he acknowledged his own badness without irony or rationalization he would suffer guilt. However, he may rationalize, and through self-deceit convince himself that his actions are valuable. He will suffer insofar as he unconsciously recognizes his self-deceit, and will be happy insofar as he does not. The honest man feels the full force of needs, identifies them, reasons his actions, and gains full happiness.
A value, then, is an evaluation of goodness which both recognizes natural goodness and extra goodness of being valued. If I make a sacrament of drink small doses of arsenic, this sacrament may give me a lick of divinity simply because I value it as such, though objectively the act otherwise destroys. Poison is poison, but it may medicate the soul. Therefore, we say “this is my practice, my people's practice, my way of doing by my effort what I think is right." Every value is multiple; every value myriad. A totem dance unites us with a community of brothers, orients us, but perhaps costs us autonomy. The Native American group that believed their morning singing allowed the world a day of sun celebrated a lie, but an ennobling lie. Gods are idols, but they are good anyway: they focus reverence. Yet as good as they can be, there is something better.
Need is both man's ontological absolute and his moral absolute—the basis of what he is and what he does. Yet how can something with a history be absolute? If man derived his needs from a creator or a creative process then the needs are not self-centering, but secondary. Either a God's choice planned them out, or evolutionary chance carved them out; either way, they could have been otherwise, and if they are not necessarily the needs they have to be then how can we know it is good to fulfill them, instead of wrong to fulfill, perhaps even a duty to deny them? If we design a living android, should we not give him a new set of needs, a better set than our own? And what if we could genetically alter our own personal needs? If a man chooses to commit suicide, he disagrees with his needs, and is he therefore wrong? Is a mosquito moral to bite my arm? Is a virus moral to kill me? Why then should we base morality on needs? Does this not assume that a person both wants and ought to live? Does this not ignore the arbitrary structure of needs?
To reply: not the history of my DNA, but the life I now am contains my needs. To wish my needs different is to wish myself out of existence.
Duty is an attitude toward action, and attitudes and actions exist to fulfill needs. Since all that a man is is determined by needs acting in the world, it follows that the parts of man, including his attitudes, habits, choices, beliefs, and even despairs, anxieties, and depressions, are tools for need, having no basis, purpose, or direction without them. What of suicide? Suicide is a method to test one’s limits and question one’s purpose. Suicidal fantasies and attempts are never meant to succeed, but to educate, challenge, and determine attitudes. In the successful suicide we see a failure of his tools to aid his survival, like a cancered body, whose system is hijacked and misused. Life or Death is never a choice life can make, because life always aims at life, and fails this only in error.
Would we make an android different? Would we program him to never choose suicide? Would we prevent him from enjoying violence? Design him to prefer kindness? Imperviate him from our vices? Give him a taste for health food? A pleasure in exercise? A thrill for working overtime and a hate for laziness -- no need for sleep? Rather, life has a logic to it. Whatever life can be, it must need in a certain structure, a structure not arbitrary. It was not created by divine whim or material chance, but by the logical absolutes of what life must be. This logic of life was fully formed before evolution caught up; evolution necessarily followed the preformed strictures. To be social creatures, we must live by patterns of productivity, kindness, justice and so forth. The various needs accord to the logic of life.
Is it moral for a virus to kill me? Yes. Given the choices to infect cells or to commit suicide—if it could so choose—it ought to seek life. Every animal and plant acts to survive and multiply. The morality of life is to flourish. However, the specific morals of each species conflict with those of the others.
Are my own needs and their instincts really able to make me flourish? What about my instincts for sugar, my weakness for alcohol and tobacco, and the other evolutionary blunders which weaken me? Is it better that such "needs" didn't exist? Given that I have an optimum flourish, and that unthinkingly obeying certain instincts prevents that, then it follows that I need to educate my instincts. No, there can be no better needs, since my life is based on the needs I have now. What if I could alter them? What if I no longer had to eat, but managed to live on thin air, no longer needed people, but could survive peaceably alone? What if I altered my needs so I were an angel, needing no sex, food, shelter, but living on pure intelligence? Would my life be better? If I could make this change, should I?
If a man could so dramatically transform himself, how are we able to call him the same person? Is there identity between man and angel? A person is a person, and his identity as a person is based on keeping a single set of needs. To transform into something I am not kills me. A man ought not to transfigure into an angel even if he could. Is it better to be an angel than a man? Or if there is doubt, is it better to transform from mouse into angel? No, it is better for the mouse, as mouse, to so remain. It is what it is. There can be no sense that transformation from mouse to angel differs from annihilation of mouse and creation ex-nihilo of angel. It is precisely in his needs and tools that a man can be what he is; to change those needs would kill him.
What if man changed just a few of his needs? Are they a package, or is there a hierarchy with peripheral needs below and essential needs above? Let's say a man no longer needed food, that he could live off air. Would he not be happier? Couldn't he better fulfill himself without this distracting appetite? There are supportive needs and there are defining needs. We definitely need a body, and this is supported by however we get it. To change so that we no longer needed something would mean that the laws of the universe were different. So yes, if the universe were different, we ought to need different. Can there be no bad need? Bad for what? Can there be no need that denies the other needs, that costs life? By definition, there can be no need that costs life, for then life's need would be to ignore this "need." Needs must obey the logic of life—indeed, needs are the logic of life.
But don't needs change over life? A baby needs father's protection, but the adult protects himself. The baby needs mother's milk, but the adult may quit milk altogether. Have his needs changed? Has he not lost certain needs and gained others? Rather, the entire progress is a procession of needs inherent to the person since birth--the needs of a lifespan arise as we grow, but the overall system is the same. The person, from single cell to full grown adult is essentially the same life-form, though different potentials arise at different times. Needs are absolute, but they express themselves in an emerging drama.
Therefore, since man fundamentally is his needs, and owns tools only for fulfilling them, he ought to hold his needs as absolute, and use his reason to create the most fulfilling personality. Needs grant a man identity and allow its growth.
Necessity and Two Needs
A man’s immediate need is to survive, but survival is to bring him to his central need, to choose his purpose. Already fated in his body and its situation are the limits of his choice: it is a narrow infinity. Each man has an inner necessity, some aboriginal power in need of expression. The choice of a purpose is the medium of his necessity.
Health and growth are the ends of man. Happiness is merely an indicator, an external approach to his health and growth. Growth is imbalance, a sort of unhealth, but good. Unlimited growth would be cancerous. Health and growth must balance. Happiness and suffering both serve this end.
Life holds two needs: the need for rhythm and the need for growth, which balance and complement each other. A child is soothed by rhythms—melodies, rocking, sucking. When growth becomes erratic we resort to rhythm. The asylum is full of twitchers and pacers. The best way to stifle a terror is to breathe evenly, to repeat a phrase, to establish a simplistic rhythm. Yet an untroubled rhythm bores us.
These two needs expand into every nuanced want. Utopia and heaven fail because they are portraits and not symphonies. The final utopia would have to grow and collapse, would require a wide enough repeating rhythm so that boredom was impossible. However, being caught in such a loop would be the human death, the end of growth. War and peace, love and power, all these dualities are illusory if they are only seen as dualities. See two, but look again and see one.
These two make the personality, the art of it. Art must be regular enough to reward expectations, yet interesting enough to surprise them.
Needs can be fulfilled generally, exactly, or metaphorically. When electricity ascends two diodes, it begins undifferentiated, but takes on a unique shape as it ascends. To fulfill the need as soon as it presents is to fulfill it generally. I need sex, I lay the nearest woman who will have me. But if I am intelligent and therefore patient, and I let the need define itself, I can slowly learn the precise way to fulfill it. What seemed at first simple was finally a nuanced and unique. A metaphorically fulfilled need is given an analogous object, such as killing enemy soldiers rather than solving frustrations at home.
Life seeks goods. Some goods are limited and others unlimited. We ought to seek the limited goods insofar as they open and allow the unlimited.
An unlimited good is primary. We do not value it to fulfill something else, as we might value a tasteless diet for the sake of health or drudgery for the sake of bread. Nor do we value it for the sake of self-esteem, like those who work charities merely because charity work seems noble. In that sense, they are seeking their worth in others’ approval, denying themselves the place of arbiter.
How to discover the unlimited goods? First, look at the untaught desires in children. Second, look at the values of the noble. Third, look at the practice of happy people. The subsequent list of goods falls into six groups: Truth, Justice, Kindness, Beauty, Work, and Politics.
Man needs to seek truth. Children naturally do so through their incessant questioning. Truth is a quality, not an entity; there is no truth “out there" as if the mind merely needed to get at it, for truth is what happens to an identified fact when we build from it a conceptual “so-what?” Since we do not automatically know which concepts are true, this need is felt as the need to honestly regard one's beliefs to be true, whether or not we always can. Aristotelian astronomy fulfilled many generations in ways it no longer can. We need truth for practical reasons: so we can feel, think, speak, and act effectively. "Theoretical" truth is practical. A child wants to know if a cat dreams, or why the sky is blue. These may have no "practical" value to the child, but they show him the general way to think.
Man needs to execute justice. Children upon being punished question after what is fair and unfair. Justice is giving each person his due, in part through establishing and enforcing laws. Justice allows for self-protection: we serve justice so it will serve us. Yet we need to serve justice even if it imprisons us, as in a criminal who confesses. Justice in our society is the recognition and respect for human rights. Rights are derived from needs. Man needs life, liberty, and property; man needs to respect the needs of others; therefore, man needs to respect the life, liberty and property of others.
Man needs to act kindly. Children recognize the pleasure of being treated kindly, and the pleasure in treating others so. Kindness is the improving of those we value, bringing out their best. One must first bring out the best in himself to reproduce his values in others. This is pleasant to do, even for strangers. Kindness gives what is just: it gives happiness to these we are pleased to see happy. Since we are happy, it is due to ourselves to amplify that by pleasing others.
Man needs to enjoy beauty. Children enjoy lullabies, cartoons, stories, pictures, and dance. Beauty energizes you through your recognition of the sensual presentation of your values. Beauty is self-love, the recognition of your self-worth, your self-potential. This is how art grants peace, hope, and enthusiasm.
Man needs to work. Children help their parents, make useful artifacts, do useful chores. Work is the production of goods or services for consumption or trade. There is boredom and depression in a man who creates nothing, who earns no bread, who watches television, drinks, or sleeps his life away. Self-esteem comes from achievement.
Man needs to practice politics. Children participate in the family government, thereby learning how people as a group cooperate their efforts. Families establish right relationships between their members. A child may in fact rebel against the rules, and this still accords to her need for political involvement.
The needs for these goods complement and support one another. A man may choose to concentrate on one, but this is good insofar as he honors the others. These goods are more than a means to self-respect, they also fulfill in themselves.
Virtues are habits seeking values. Values are appraisals of goods which fulfill more for being valued, even if they hurt us. Goods are fulfilling objects. A value can be good or bad, though none can be fully bad, since it is good to be valued.
Life, not death, evaluates. “The good is that which prevents death”—no! If my life were endless, my body indestructible, if I were without “physical” need, being alive I would still need to create, to enjoy beauty, to know, to love; death is no standard, and life is not in length.
If we are all equally alive and needy, why do values differ from people to people? The Greeks valued cunning and bravery through Odysseus, the Christians valued humility and gentleness through Jesus. Cunning, bravery, humility, gentleness, these all have their use, and so are universally good in their particular situations. Yet who is right, Greeks or Christians? Is it relative? While neither cunning nor humility is universally best, we recognize the universal need to value something as best. For by this emphasis we develop fervor and devotion; to deny reverence because it is partisan evinces malaise.
Every particular value arises from a universal need. A value is more or less good in accordance with my contextual needs. Cunning may play less importance to me, humility more, especially if my culture values humility, for I value my culture, and so use humility to earn a respectable place.
Say you face a challenge. Do you go to war to avenge your brother's death or do you stay back to console your mother? There may be no universalized ethic ("always avenge brethren") and so there is no escape from that voluptuous uncertainty. "Morality" is the plot to escape the predicament, to escape the responsibility of choosing, but it is precisely the predicament that allows for glory. There is no castrating "Thou Shalt." One is free to deliberate. Deliberation creates character, whatever our choice, if only it is our choice.
Is it not our choice, then, to comply with convention? This earns respect from a society undoubtedly peopled with intelligent and noble persons. For even in America, which values individualism, are we not conforming to individualism when we play the rebel? And indeed, society needs social critics (rebels, criminals, intellectuals), challenging, disrupting, and redirecting our social values, for this creates strengthening tensions. Yes, we may choose to limit our choice. No man is a victim. Personal values are strongest free.
If needs are universal and absolute, why is there a variety of values across societies? Are they matters of taste?
Is diet a matter of taste? No. Diet is a matter of need. Every human being needs protein, vitamins, water, fats, minerals–-universal and absolute. Yet each culture eats a unique diet. Diets hold objective value according to the standard of our health. Some are fatty, some poor in protein. In the same way, our moral systems also have absolute value per our moral needs. Therefore, though every people needs autonomy, health condemns bad diets.
Consider cannibalism. If we value our group who believes eating enemies is good, are we not good to also eat? We'll earn derived self-respect. But if cannibalism lowers our respect for man as man, even willing victims can't salvage the practice. If it lowers our respect for man, and thus for ourselves, it is bad. And if we will ignore this we are wrong.
Consider incest, the "universal prohibition." All people everywhere have made sex between son and mother taboo. Why? If the aim is not for children, if the father is gone, is it really wrong? Why horrifying, if nobody is abused? Why not amusing, absurd, maybe even tender? If we instinctually oppose it, or if the relationship confuses their self-identities, then the relationship is wrong.
In these extremes of sex and violence, inborn necessity determines the value; cultural habits tweak that. If society fails to recognize right and wrong, the hero must arise. The hero struggles for his values. The artist glorifies this struggle through art.
Man feels, thinks about that feeling, speaks his thoughts, and enacts his words. The first feelings were instincts. Later feelings were programmed. The basis of virtue, the habits of seeking and gaining value, begins with thinking, with creative programming. Even an infant thinks a sort of logic that creates an edifice of mind that stands for life. As there are four types of habits – feelings, thinking, saying, and doing – so there are four types of virtue, crowned with the virtue of their union.
The virtues of mind begin with activity. The mind acts and moves, explores and expands, breathes and leaps, dances and flies. It plays over problems, forces and sculpts them, unravels and unriddles them. Activity begins in children with imitation and ends in adults with independence. Mental activity seeks focus through inquiry. By asking questions one directs the mind towards goals. A child ought to be taught not just to read, listen, and watch, but to question, hypothesize, and how to guide further attention. Questions resolve through sustained focus. Focus dismisses everything but its one object, abstains from every other interest. Focus stays a problem until it is solved, makes activity effective. Focus creates. Logic and reason are patterned creativity: we move from premises to create a solution. Aside from thinking logically, which makes mind obedient to form, we must think spontaneously, which makes form obedient to mind. We think of a problem, realize it is unique and unprecedented, and create a solution unique and unprecedented. We must answer child with child, man with man, sunrise with sunrise, and not refer to a manual of answers. In all a man creates, he prides in his integrity, the unity of attitude, belief, personality, and character. You must be brave enough and strong enough to never forfeit an iota of the truth you have earned, but cling to those convictions and principles in the face of all opposition. This requires not only self-honesty, but also the continual integrating of all knowledge. Integrity is the honesty which accords belief and action. Thus five virtues of the mind: activity, inquiry, focus, creativity, integrity.
The mind moves the body, and so creates four virtues of action. Work is the habit of producing goods, of producing what can be traded for goods. By work all material and spiritual goods come to man; only by the sweat of your brow will you own anything. If you want it, deserve it. Effectiveness in work comes from strength and skill. Strength is the capacity to force one’s desires into the world. This creates health, competency, and pride. Through repeated production, one learns the skill of efficiency, using the least effort for the most output. This implies both economy and wisdom of effort. One must also have the perseverance through physical endurance and dogged persistence to do the job till it is done. Thus four virtues of acting: productive work, strength, skill, perseverance.
These actions are inspired and rewarded by virtuous feelings. Sensitivity is experiencing appropriate feelings at their appropriate degree during their appropriate moment. We must program our impulses to serve us best, loving the lovely, loathing the loathsome, fearing the frightening, despising the despicable, and admiring the admirable. Of special concern to goal setting and achieving is ambition. Ambition craves to accomplish greatness. Ambition persists through confidence. Even if I am wrong, it is my ambition to continue until I am proved wrong; and so I will not beg, apologize, nor skulk, but will boldly gain my intent in the face of opposition. If all the armies of heaven oppose me, still I will not flinch until I am thoroughly proven through valid argument to be wrong. To persist, we must cultivate the virtue of optimism, which enjoys persistence, even in the hiss of discouragement and the shame of failure. Failure is merely one more encouragement and promise of success, and optimism is having faith in our goals. Finally, when we have achieved our goals, we are rewarded with pride, knowing we have succeeded, applauding our own power and effectiveness, esteeming our own achievements. Thus five virtues of feeling: sensitivity, ambition, confidence, optimism, pride.
In all these, there are three basic virtues: activity, skill, persistence. The essence of virtue is health, the form of virtue is unity.
Unity is the head of all virtues, and brings every element of man, every idiosyncrasy and nuance, into unity with his purpose. Unity is the virtue of virtues. A man must choose, define, and maintain his own unity. Unity sacrifices the vices that upset the singleness of the system, yes, and also sacrifices the virtues that upset the singleness of the system. A perfect person strives for the excellence of a unified self, every part derived from his central principle. Every act, every whim, every feeling, every slip of the tongue, pours from and ornaments this principle. What beautifies man is that he sees his principle and gives it visible structure. For there are laws that spread fruit trees through the fields, but it is a conscious principle that grows an orchard. Even if principles are more conscious to the child, the adult is better at cultivating them. Man as artist makes his soul the canvas.
Does this make morality relative? "Morals aren't relative." And neither are men, you maintain? Yet there are followers and there are leaders. One law for gods and men is tyranny. "Morals aren't relative." Yet they had better be relative to me, or I have no use for them. "Morals aren't relative." To what? Personal choice? Yet no other choice is moral. "Morals aren't relative." To what? Whim? Yet whim isn't relative either. It also serves need. Thousands of differing diets are healthy, are possible. Yet even diets differ in need from person to person. I need more calcium, you're allergic to peanuts. It is universal that all men must choose their standard, relative to needs and environment. We all need to execute justice. Yet each must do so according to his personal understanding, and with the power and procedures appropriate to his abilities. This is moral for him, for he is able to do so.
It is morally absolute that “If you believe an action is immoral, do not do it.” That applies to everybody. For if one makes an honest mistake, he is at least honest. Self-honesty is universal.
Much of morality is personal. I want to study carpentry. Should everyone? I want to be a vegetarian. Should everyone? I want to attend a symphony. Should everyone? What is the general principle behind each choice? It is this: Every man produces his moral code in accordance with his needs as he understands them. What is imperative? That a man is mindful enough to let this morality grow. Each man ought to cultivate his moral system to better fulfill him. 'Ought' means for life.
Consider the principled man. His choice: "You may rescue these 500 innocent prisoners if you murder a single man." No. My principle is that you must never sacrifice an innocent. If you were to offer me the cure for cancer, if you were to rescue the entire human race, if you were to lasso the deity and pour him into every man's soul, whatever you could possibly deliver, offer, provide, or save is out of the question, for nothing can dominate a principle. No innocent man should be murdered for another’s well being.
Likewise, utility ethics are best for utility companies: those who make laws for the masses must assume them to be of the same stuff. No individual should consider others as “majorities” or “the many” or “the greatest number.” Instead, we are individuals, some greater, some lesser. Let every man define his own virtues.
Morality is not virtue. Morality is fitting in with the group to avoid being snubbed or imprisoned. Virtue is increasing your power. Virtue stands on courage, morality on fear. And so, family values and community solidarity are morals, not virtues. Virtues are those virile things like courage and honesty, but communities and families are often built on euphemisms, silence, if not downright deceits.
Virtue is in power. A virtuous woman is by no means a chaste woman. Christianity confuses our terms. A virtuous woman would have mastered her sexuality, not subdued it.
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