MEANINGFULNESS: Transcending Nihilism and Determinism.

Quantum Energy - Universe

THE MEANING

The Universe is meaningful, or it is not. We cannot be absolutely certain one way or the other. Intuition can argue both cases and empirical investigation merely stumbles into an empty hole.

The question of meaning is a uniquely human, or, more accurately, sapiens issue: the concern over meaning is only pertinent to organisms that can understand what meaning is. The meaning is in the capacity to understand meaning. For the natural world to be meaningful, therefore, it has to create meaning for itself, firstly by creating conditions for life that can evolve into sapiens forms capable of understanding meaning.

This process of creating meaning is itself sufficient as a teleological reason. In this way, meaning is discovered through the creation of meaning. Much like Columbus had no original intention of going to America. He intended to cross the sea to India, but once America was found, the intention of all Trans-Atlantic voyages from Europe since then have been to reach the Americas. So, just as America becomes real through the discovery of America; meaning becomes real through the discovery of meaning. An event which was brought about by the evolution of organisms with an intelligence capable of formulating the concept of meaning and the capacity to invent and reinvent what meaning is.

This realisation that meaning is the meaning of meaning, contains a powerful positivism, transcending both determinism and nihilism: The Universe is either meaningful or it is not, but the fact that we can make that distinction or ask that question is meaningful. In other words, the very fact that we can conceive the Universe to be possibly meaningless makes it meaningful. That there exists a point, any point, in the vast stretches of the Universe where that question can be formulated, gives credence to the circumstance that, during the time that the intelligence exists to formulate such a question, the Universe itself, as it is conceived by that entity, is imbued with meaning.

Yes, meaning lies in the existence of the concept of meaning. If there is a meaning to evolution it is in the creation of a capacity to understand meaning, meaningfulness and even meaninglessness. Meaning proves the meaningfulness of all things.

Nihilism is therefore unimportant, because once we have understood the concept of meaning, life is meaningful. Likewise, determinism is a non-issue. Whether this was willed or accidental, it does not matter at all. The fact is that meaning exists as a concept and will only exist while the concept continues to exist. The meaningful course is, therefore, the way that will perpetuate the concept of meaning. Real nihilism would only arise when the concept itself is lost – which is impossible whilst a living creature with a functional language exists. Meaning is embedded in all language. The nature of language is to give a meaning to existence by naming existence. I think; therefore, I am meaningful.

But this is also misleading, because we are limiting our definition of language to the words we say, when in fact language can become a far more ubiquitous phenomenon. If we define language through its function, which is communication, we see that it is the very fabric of the Universe itself because communication is an integral part of the sub-atomic structure of everything. Language communicates information and cosmologists and physicists like Vlatko Vedral and Rafael Bousso argue that information is the bedrock of the Universe. [1] We can think of no better link between what we perceive to be the material and spiritual fabrics of the Universe, and no better explanation of the dual-reality of mind and body than the fact that the Universe is structured on information.  But we want to take this concept one step further than the physicists: if meaning is embedded in language and communication, and communication is entrenched in the Universe; then the Universe must also be imbued with meaning.

This brings us again to the importance of the sapiens. It is through a self-conscious understanding of meaning, which is knowing, that the language embedded in the Universe is imbued with meaning. Sapiens give meaning to meaning. Knowing what meaning is, makes meaning meaningful.

THE ANTI-MEANING

Yet, if the meaning is there, embedded in the fabric of everything, doesn’t this also leave us in the limbo of nihilism: if everything is meaningful, then nothing is more meaningful than anything else, and, subsequently, nothing is more important than anything else. Given this kind of metaphysical scenario; how can we decide what needs to be done? Nevertheless, this is an unfair question: the essence can never be a moral pointer in itself, beyond the essential question itself – which is: Is the essence of the Universe meaningful or not? If the answer is yes; the essence is meaningful and therefore good, and this is a moral conclusion that has moral consequences, but only while we know it. Remember, only while it is known what meaning is, can meaning be meaningful. The good is something worth preserving, or as Heidegger said, something worth caring-for. And, in order to preserve what is meaningful we must protect that which knows what is meaningful: we have to protect the sapiens; we have to protect humanity and its capacity for knowing, understanding and creating meaning through the arts and sciences.

This may sound like stating the obvious, but it is not obvious at all. For the last seventy years, at least, we have been living under a shadow of the threat of self-destruction: first, through the nuclear arms proliferation of the Cold War; and afterwards by our rapacious destruction of the biosphere. Humanity is now revealed to be following an anti-meaning, a meaningless jeopardising of meaning itself by turning our backs on the preservation of meaning, which is the preservation of humanity itself.

We do well to ask ourselves how such an absurd situation could ever come about? If the essence of the Universe is meaning, how could that essence be undermined by they who possess and understand meaning better than any other entity in the Universe? Without knowing what meaning is, there is no meaning. This is the existential role of all sapiens entities in the Universe, and every time your brain clicks into conscious-thinking mode you are participating in this existential experience. Our existence makes the Universe meaningful, and that puts humanity at the very centre of things.

To live in a way that threatens our survival is, therefore, fundamentally evil; it is life in the bubble of anti-meaning. This absurdity is possible due to the structure of human thought itself. Its logical form and its dependency on measurement in order to define and give meaning to things, not only understands meaningfulness, it also defines the meaningless. The same consciousness that allows us to comprehend an idea like the One, or absolutes of Good, or Truth, immediately creates an anti-version. Against Good is Evil; against Truth is the Lie; against the One is the Void … and against Meaning is Non-meaning; against Meaningfulness is Nihilism.

The logical creation of opposites in order to understand has a lethal effect on any idea of singularity. The One just cannot be grasped for any length of time by a mind that functions within a logic of constant comparison. If there is a meaning, there must also be an anti-meaning; if there is 1, there must also be -1. Traditionally, it has only been through the anti-logic of faith that thinking has been able to overcome the logical result of that equation: 1-1=0; equals nihilism.

Post-modernism was correct in associating truth with relativity and pluralism – we give the meaning we want to reality – but to save that pluralism from the anarchy of everything is permitted, it has to be anchored in the metaphysical ubiquity of meaning itself. As everything is allowed, then nothing is meaningful is a wrong assumption, because not everything is allowed. Everything is permitted except the assumption that the ubiquitous meaning is meaningless. We can’t think meaning away, it can only go away when we stop thinking. Nihilism, therefore, is not something that is thought out or thought away. Nihilism as non-meaning, is non-thought; it is the absence of thought. And if thought is a celebration of the meaning constituting the Universe, nihilism (non-thought/non-meaning) is nothing more than a threat, albeit a very serious threat.

OUR POSITIVISM

Our positivism centres meaning where it has to be – in our minds. The meaningful is linked to thinking and awareness. The more aware we are, the more meaningful life is. All ignorance diminishes meaning and propagates meaninglessness via a lack of awareness. Knowledge nurtures meaning itself. Likewise, art and technology, when developed through an erudite process with a thirst for knowledge, expand the meaningful.

By being centred in meaning we are situating ourselves in the centre of the meaningful Universe, and that is a spiritually uplifting experience. The deeper the sapiens species delves into its own sapiens nature, the nobler it becomes and the closer it gets to the purposeful existence of the good, because meaningful, life.

[1] For more information about the information Universe watch Robert Lawrence Kuhn’s video https://youtu.be/-ATWa2AEvIY or read Vlatko Vedral, Decoding Reality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decoding_Reality

 

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Heidegger’s Accordance (via Nietzsche)

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In the third volume of his opus on Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger asks:

‘In what direction does the security of stability of the living being “man” go?’[1]

In other words: what line must the train of history be carried along in order for the stability of humanity to be guaranteed?

Given the ever-present threat of ecological collapse, and the social-political-economic chaos that would result from such a break-down, this question is paramount for humanity at the moment. So …

what was Heidegger’s answer to the question? And …

can his analysis, made in 1939, shed any light on our human condition eighty years later?

 

Heidegger claimed that we are moving ‘In a twofold direction,’ adding: ‘that is already prefigured in the essence of man,’[2] by which he means, by our relationship to other people and things.

For Heidegger then, or for Nietzsche as Heidegger understood him: ‘Man stands in relation to man, man stands in relation to things.’[3]

From this double relationship a kind of two-fold mutual accordance is made in which individuals relate, not only to the other individuals that make up our societies, but also to the things which we, and those other people, relate to. At first, this seems to be just another way of saying no man is an island, but then Heidegger makes a more committed definition, stating: ‘that accordance in the essential sense is the highest and most difficult struggle, more difficult than war and infinitely remote from pacifism. Accordance is the highest struggle for the essential goals that historical humanity sets up over itself.[4] And then, in the same paragraph, he makes a claim which, we believe, makes as much sense now as it would have done in the tragically turbulent 1939: ‘… in the present historical situation, accordance can only mean having the courage for the simple question as to whether the West still dares to create a goal above itself and its history, or whether it prefers to sink to the level of preservation and enhancement of trade interests and entertainments, to be satisfied with appealing to the status quo as if this were absolute.’[5]

However, we would now add that the situation has become so grave that the ‘daring’ attitude has become the dangerously daring one which maintains the status quo, whereas the act of creating a goal above itself and its history would be one of simple good-sense.

*

The positive view that Heidegger’s logic shows us, is that the direction towards a higher goal is no more difficult than the pursuit of the status quo: it is all just a matter of accordance. To go either way, the same procedure has to be followed – we have to be able to count on each other. In either case, we must think ahead ‘to a horizon that contains directives and rules in accordance with which what throngs towards us is caught and secured.[6] To go forward unto a Utopia, is no different to creating the Dystopia that promises to arise if we maintain the status quo. Whichever way we go, the choice must be made by establishing a process of accordance.

*

According to Heidegger/Nietzschean logic: ‘Representing beings and thinking rationally are the praxis of life, the primordial securing of permanence for itself,’[7] and in order to secure permanence today, humanity has to move in a direction that goes above and beyond the status quo that we have today. In order for survival to be guaranteed, a doctrine of permanence needs to be accorded; a doctrine that can replace the internecine doctrine of constant, economic growth that currently drives the status-quo, and which threatens rather than guarantees safety and survival.

 

 

[1] Martin Heidegger, NIETZSCHE, Volumes III and IV, ed. David Farrell Krell; Harper Collins, 1991; p.90

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid, p.91

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid, p. 92

[7] Ibid

WHERE DOES SO MUCH STUPIDITY COME FROM?

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“… man’s continued nescience of his desire is not so much nescience of what he demands, which may after all be isolated, as nescience of whence he desires.

(Jacques Lacan, ÉCRITS, p. 689)

Our ignorance of where our desires truly come from, is the basis of all psychoanalyses. Might it not also be the foundation of all our socio-political disasters? Democratic processes give free reign to the expression of great, social desires and yet psychoanalysis tells us that we are in fact unaware of what those desires really are and where they come from. The modern trend of spreading Fake News in social media in order to sway elections or create systemic chaos, brings this problem of our ignorance of our desires to the fore. At the macro-political level, a nescience of desires creates a dangerous socio-pathology, that allows individuals to be easily manipulated and produces stress and anguish throughout the societies it effects. In order to desire what we truly need, we need to be able to understand what our desires really are, and where they come from. In order for society to progress in a purposeful way, it needs to understand its own drives. For societies to progress, there needs to be a political will to tackle head-on the question of whence our desires come from. More than ever before, societies need to place emphasis on educating our awareness of media manipulation. Big Brother IS watching, and we need to understand how that affects our own passions, longings and beliefs.

Ignorance is not an infirmity or an infection, it is a lack of knowledge and the capacity to deal with that information. When the society detects a lack in one of its fields that is detrimental to its own condition, then it must act and operate in the field in question, to fill the hole that has been formed within it.

However, in the case of social nescience, the field itself is lacking and needs to be created. Or, seen from the opposite perspective, the abyss that stands before us, and has always been there, must now be filled in and levelled out as a field, so that purposeful seeds of social-progress can be sown there.

The field to be studied could be called Manipulation Theory, that could be simplified to the subject of Wanting at primary levels of education. Recognition of desires and how they are manufactured and manipulated needs to be taught at the earliest age possible. Only through an educated populace, wise to the idea of where their desires come from, can a purposeful democracy ever truly be possible. Only when we are sure of the manipulation can we decide if we want to be manipulated or not. But in order to come anywhere close to having this capacity of understanding our part in the game, we have to create a culture of awareness and of aware individuals.

ON THE CORRUPTION OF LOVE

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If there is a question for “our-times”, an enigma which constantly rears its horny head in much of the political debates and opinion articles of all the so-called developed countries of the western world, it is that of why people support political agendas that are detrimental to their own interests.

The phenomenon is often treated as something new, which it is not, but it is certainly emphasized by the election of President Trump, or the Brexit debacle; the growing emergence of far-right parties throughout Europe; the Catalonian fiasco in Spain; the return of Berlusconi in Italy; or the massive support of President Putin in Russia.

For half the world there is a general feeling that the other half have gone mad. However, that conclusion almost inevitably provokes another conclusion – surely, so many people cannot be insane; and by assuming they are, we are losing sight of the real problem. Nevertheless, after making that very-wise, self-cautionary statement, the question is abandoned, and the dilemma is left beneath, poking his horns into our arse.

So, what is the real problem, and what is the real answer to that question: why do people support political agendas that go against their own self-interests?

We have been tackling this question for years, and its answer is partly wrapped up in what we call the anti-human historical process itself, but the other part of the answer must come through a second analysis of how an anti-human historical process was possible in the first place. As an answer to the enigma the anti-human process is not enough, for the real question is: what is the driving force behind the anti-human?

The success of the anti-human resides in its all-enveloping condition as a paradigm, and this is obtained by a sometimes deliberate, but more often contingent, process of distorting and corrupting language in a way that has shaped human reality into the impossible form of the anti-human, and it continues to solidify that shape.

This corruption of our architecture of language and its subsequent corruption of thinking, is what allows an anti-human civilization to exist and maintain itself, but the driving forces within that general perversion can be found in the distortion of certain key words that mould the anti-human identity. Of these key words, the most powerful one is love.

In an earlier entry (LOVE, THE REAL AND THE IDEAL) we described love as the capacity of appreciating, and the desire for understanding, and that this leads to a will for preservation. Through these three pillars of love, a sapiens humanity is tied to the existence of the Universe itself. It is through love that humanity is relevant in the enormity of the Universe we are otherwise so insignificantly placed in. But this is not the general perception we have of love now. Love has been corrupted.

The political philosophers, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, highlighted the corruption of love in an Intermezzo in their book Commonwealth. In that essay they associate love with the power of the common: ‘the power that the common exerts and the power to constitute the common’[1] in which the common can be understood as any social grouping from the family to the Empire.

In an ideal, uncorrupted form then, the common would always be an enlightened place, driven by its capacity to appreciate, its desire to understand and its will to preserve itself and everything that comes into its orbit. That this does not occur, does not indicate that we live in a loveless world, but rather that the love that drives us is a corrupted form of the concept that maintains its original and deeply positive intentionality, but perverts it in an individualistic or anti-human interpretation of that original force.

This explains why love is able to engender so much evil. ‘In the name of love’ we see the violence of the passionate, jealous lover or spouse; the unscrupulous justifications for immoral or criminal acts to protect our loved-ones; or the tremendous crimes and tragic violence that can be wielded from the stand-point of patriotic love.

Hardt and Negri cite Spinoza, who called love the antithesis of evil,[2] and yet in all its corrupt forms, love embodies the evil it is supposedly opposed to.

The result is a perverted confusion: in order to protect what I love – in order to preserve and protect what I appreciate and understand – I must act in an evil way. This justification, of justifying the use of immoral means by the vindication that by doing so we are preserving that which we love, is a perverse manipulation of the concept of love. Once we analyse it from the point of view of a correct interpretation of what love is, the corrupted, self-interested, or anti-humanly motivated perception of love is revealed. Only when the ‘lover’ can see with clarity that his or her perception of love is corrupted can these anti-human crimes of love be eradicated.

In all the moral questions of the right or wrong way to act, the love that drives the individuals or groups making the decisions has to come into play if we are to ever improve things. A more humane, and subsequently Sapiens, world can only be possible through a revaluation of what we say we love. By rooting love in appreciation and understanding we are establishing a force that can drive becoming that is also tempered by the power of preservation that is also one of the pillars of the ideal love.

In its corrupt form, love drives violent crimes, acts of terror and tragic brutality of war. To eradicate these anti-human aberrations, we need to tackle this corruption of love. It is not love itself which is evil, but a corrupted form of it that clouds our perception of good and evil. To do this, we have to put love back onto the rails of humanity, for in its essence love is the most Sapiens of human drives. Love feeds all creativity and innovation through curiosity and its capacity for appreciation and its desire for understanding. It is the great unifying force and the only force that could bring humanity together and turn the anti-human historical process into a properly human one. Love’s true battle then, is the struggle against its own corruption, which requires a constant recognition of the corrupted anti-human forms of love – all love which puts its segregating point-of-view above the ultimate, universal forms of love. above the love of an object or an individual, has to be a passion for the common; above our love of family, a love of community; above all patriotism, a love of humanity and a world without borders; above a love of religion, a love of the Universe. The same is true of the struggle for rights, that your individual rights and the rights of every oppressed minority group are best served by understanding and appreciating the rights of all and the struggle to establish a common area in which everyone’s rights are appreciated and protected.

Corrupted love permeates the entire fabric of our Civilisation, pushing us towards a Dystopia with an ever-increasing, snowballing force. It is an evil, anti-human motor that needs to be recognised and turned off, so that we can re-direct the voyage toward a more positive, human, Sapiens place.

[1] Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth, Belknap Press, 2009, p.189

[2] Ibid, p. 192

Dreams, Time, Death and Life

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TIME AND DREAMS

In María Zambrano’s essay on Dreams and Time[1], she argues that time in dreams is an ambiguous element because it doesn’t really exist, and that the time we experience in our waking lives is a creation of consciousness – an integral aspect of thinking. From this she comes to a very interesting conclusion, that time is a liberating force for consciousness.

Within this thought lies a profoundly humanistic proposal: the consciousness we are endowed with as human beings is a liberating force in itself, but only when that same consciousness is able to process time.

Of course, we are so immersed in time that this seems like a tautological statement: how can we not be in time? And isn’t time an oppressive rather than liberating force? Haven’t we heard so many artists and poets complain about the tyranny of time on our lives; the great dictator over existence, from which it is impossible to ever free ourselves. Yet, Zambrano’s point is that we do escape time. In fact, we escape it every time we dream, and that happens daily. Yet where we are truly free is not in the time-liberating dream, but in the time-controlled waking world.

Freedom lies in the power to decide and that is what is denied us in our dreams. The dream world is imposed on us, we have no choice unto where it will take us; we cannot make real decisions there. It is a prison-world, in which the mind seems to play cruel games on the ego-subject that slips into it. Decisions are not made, and problems are never properly resolved in dreams. Things just occur randomly, in a world with an absurd logic in which the subject experiencing the dream is essentially powerless.

Freedom lies in an ability to make decisions and all oppression resides in the power that can nullify any expression of such decisions or squash any acts of realization that may be regarded consequential of those decisions. To exist only in the dream world, would literally mean to be trapped in a nightmare.

But more importantly, the essence of being human, which lies in our conscious, sapiens mind, is also wrapped up in this freedom to make decisions, and time is therefore an integral element in that freedom. A: I am human because I can decide; B: I can decide because I am in time; C: I am human because I am in time.

Zambrano’s argument, however, is that we are both in time and out of time: in time when awake, and out of time whenever we dream. But we would take this one step further, we are also in time while we are alive, and out of time when we die.

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LIFE AND DEATH

Let’s assume that life after death exists: what then is it? If our individual consciousness can exist after our corporeal state has perished, where would that consciousness be?

In trying to imagine such a state, the best approximation we can make is to imagine death as something like an existence in the timeless space of dreams. “To die; perchance to dream” – or more precisely, not to dream but to live in the dream: perhaps in death we dream of being alive; of being in time.

But this idea of the dream-state of consciousness in death applied to Zambrano’s reflection on the totalitarian experience of consciousness within the timeless, turns all religious optimisms on their head. Death is not a release from the nightmare of life, but an immersion into the nightmare itself. The idea of reincarnation is therefore not a Buddhist notion of spiritual learning and evolution into the state that no longer needs to be reincarnated, but a yearning from the prison of death to return to the freedom of life.

The essence of modern religions, lies in the hope they offer of the after-life and their narratives that mitigate our fear of death. For the religious, death is a liberation from an imperfect, inharmonious world of constant suffering – but it is in fact quite the opposite of liberation. A consciousness in death would be drowning in the freedom-less dimension beyond time-space, in which every subject exists in an ambiguous reality, with no decision-making power and no control of the reality they float around in at all.

But what the religious lose here is humanity’s gain. Hope lies here, in this dimension of reality. Plato’s cave may lack the light of God, but it has the time-space that allows those within it to feel the power of freedom. A liberating force which has always been mitigated and undermined by all world religions and the civilisations and cultures that those same religions have architectured around their anti-human narratives directing all hope unto death.

Our greatest hope in death can only be that it is not a permanent condition: that from the time-less space of the dream of death we will reincarnate again back into time and the freedom of the deliberating, decision-making endowed consciousness.

 

[1] María Zambrano, EL SUEÑO CREADOR, Turner, Madrid,1986

OUR WINDMILLS OF IMPOSSIBLE FANTASIES

 

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The gospel of St. John, translated by King James, begins with the announcement: “In the beginning was the Word,” which is a glorious way of saying: “It all began with a word.” On the surface this may sound like little more than a nice piece of poetry, but within it is buried the simple but deep metaphysics of Idealism. Existence cannot really be said to have begun in any qualitative sense until there was the first named-thing.

It is unlikely that the first word uttered would have been an abstract concept like God, as St. John proposes. More likely it would have been a familiar object, or even more likely, the expression of a feeling; or an indicator you or me.

Language is our first musical relationship between the world and our perception of it. But did it begin musically? Perhaps not: perhaps language was first created graphically. Two lines intersecting representing a tree, the tree on the plain, where two hominoids would meet and wait to hunt the invisible beast.

This would have been a clearer beginning. In order to communicate the invisible, the invisible has to be recreated from memory and then turned into a representation of it. Rendered via some abstract – either graphically or through vocalisation. But, it’s not important which came first; the importance lies in the fact that eventually one always becomes the other – the graphic form must evolve into the vocal utterance and vice versa.

Of course, once the vocal abstraction was grasped by hominoid societies and developed to its full potential, it would nearly always be preferred to the graphic communication: it is simpler and more versatile through that simplicity.

Once language has been absorbed, minds can think and expand. It is our capacity for grasping complexity through the tool of language that makes us homo-sapiens human. But from where comes this need for complexity? Why do we bother? Isn’t the good life the simple one? Could complexity be a mistake? After all, this search for complexity was the very reason for our Fall from Paradise.

The religious notion we have that we must suffer for a nostalgia for the Paradise Lost, can be affirmed by psychology. Nevertheless, psychology would also argue that the nostalgia is more realistically our yearning to return to the perfect autocracy of the womb rather than some primordial memory of a Garden of Eden.

That is our human condition; buried in the word, and the complexity that word yearns to unveil.

Our nostalgia for simplicity, on the other hand, is a (non-Sapiens) animal one – the un-special part of us: the part without language; the non-Sapiens side of the homo sapiens.

The human being then is a dual being: both animal and Sapiens. The animal side yearns for a simple life of satisfied needs, whereas the Sapiens strives to unravel the complexity of reality in order to understand and preserve it. These two forces are, in practice, basically antagonistic to each other, even though there seems to be only one entity at work.

The struggle works on both the micro and macro-psychological levels. It is as much a battle between ego and Id as it is between Power and the People. On the personal level one may get bored and distressed by the lack of challenges in one’s life, or over-stressed and panicky by their over-abundance. In the socio-political realm, the will to simplicity and the quest for comfort is generated in order to create a passive herd of the animal class whilst the same Wealth-driven power that creates the herd, separates itself in an aristocratic way. By doing this, Wealth can appropriate the Sapiens ideal for itself; albeit through gross, anti-human segregation.

Meanwhile, words themselves become absorbed into the human struggle between simplicity and complexity. The forces of simplicity struggle, in a linguistic way, to make expression as minimally clear as possible. The lucidity and clarity of the slogan: if you can say it in a sentence, why write a chapter? If you can say it in word, why write a sentence?

Nevertheless, one can’t understand complexity by simply reducing it. An abstract of the complex does require a reduction of its complexity in order to become clear, but that reduction can never be an over-simplification of the complex nature, when by over-simplification we mean a loss of meaning via simplification.

The result of over-simplification is the creation of a perception of reality that does not quite make sense. Thus, we may live in a freedom-loving country and yet not feel particularly free at all. In the same way, one may marry the person one deeply loves only to shortly find out that they hardly love him or her at all. This radical shift in our perception of reality occurs not, as we immediately think, because conditions have profoundly changed, but rather because the words we defined our relationships with (in this case “freedom” and “love”) were never properly defined to start with.

In fact, if we follow Lacan’s chain of signification into that which does not exist, we find that neither of these terms really point to anything that exists either. They are therefore impossibilities, and because they are impossibilities we can only have the vaguest notion of them. To truly achieve clarity, we should abolish them. But instead, we do the opposite. We grab onto them as fulcrums from which we can form our own impossible fantasies around.

The impossibility of the Utopia is not one of praxis, it is a linguistic impossibility. If we want to create a better world, we have to choose our words more carefully. The word was vital for humanity and it is vital if there has to be any real human progress in the Big Arenas of the eradication of poverty and hunger; crime and war; and for real human to be made in health, creativity and technology.

Of course, the impossible desire is always functional, and it creates its own accidental results: some of which even seem to make the impossible seem real. For example, whilst one could argue that very mush been achieved in the name of “love” and “freedom”; our argument stems from the realisation that in fact so much has been overlooked, precisely because of that same obsession with the windmills of impossible fantasies.

PLEASURE, DESIRE & CULTURE … SADOMASOCHISM & ART

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There is an idea in Lacan that desire is always thwarted by pleasure. Perhaps the always is an exaggeration, but in trying to envisage how this could be, we start to see how the relationship works between desire and culture.

In fact, the development of the art of prolonging pleasures, that comes from the process of satisfying desires, is an integral part of culture. Likewise, cultural differences could be gauged according to the different ways they have of thwarting as well as prolonging, perpetuating and interpreting the pleasures of satisfying our desires.

Again in Lacan, desire is really desire for the other, and this psychologically tendency, that points toward a basic human altruism, is exploited by our Wealth-driven cultures to establish itself as the Big Other (either in the form of the nation-state or the God) in order to mould societies in ways that will ensure the fulfilment of its own needs. And, as such, by doing so, at the same time diminishing authentic human altruism in favour of nationalism and religious chauvinism.

However, aside from nationalist, racial, religious and class identities, most cultural differences can be measured by the kind of food on your table. The art of defecating is also cultural, although in a wider sense, as is the art of achieving orgasm.

Once we examine the cultural controls over our most basic needs, we enter a sphere of what Foucault called biopolitics, and hence bioculture.

Once this perspective on culture has been established, it could be interesting to analyse how nationalisms need to exploit the culinary extension of our satisfactions – which is decent – leaving the art of defecation – which is not – to the multi-national designers of toilets. The latter has relegated the hole in the floor to a curiosity status, whilst the sit-down stooling water closet has advanced into mostly all cultures without too much nationalistic resistance.

The other indecency, sex, has traditionally been put in the hands of God and, with the invention of bedrooms, performed out of sight, behind closed doors and curtains. What one does to prolong the pleasure is fine, as long as it’s not with a member of the same sex or a different species of animal. Because of this, the biopolitical-cultural struggle in terms of sexuality, has been as much one of opening the door and an attempt to make one’s particular indecency as legitimate as everyone else’s indecencies.

The cultural effect of such a revelation is that there are no cultural boundaries in sex at all, but rather they overlap all boundaries. As for the religious, well, it must be becoming clearer to them now, how they were duped into looking after culture’s dirty washing. In fact, it often seems that the laundering of sheets and towels is the only thing the church is good for.

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But let’s return to our point of departure: pleasure thwarting desire. The thwarting of course is seen as the experience of desire itself, which wants to satisfy itself as quickly as possible. Desire is always urgent in its essence.

Lacan’s original idea was expressed in an essay on “Kant and Sade”.

The thwarting of desire and the subsequent pleasure derived from it, is made obvious in sadomasochistic rituals, but it is this same process of refining desire through the act of thwarting pleasure that creates cultures and forms the highest and most refined cultures.

But, does this then mean that high culture and sadomasochism have the same nature? Or that culture is a sadomasochistic thwarting of our basic drives? Affirming this doesn’t say much, but it might help us to be more honest with our motives. Which is not to say we must dress our gourmets in latex, yet if they did, at least we can now appreciate the logic behind it.

As for us, as Sapiens creators, the question that now arises is: if art is to be linked to pleasure, what is art’s relationship to desire? How does art thwart desire? What is the pleasure being prolonged in art?

Of course the answer cannot be pronounced generically, but the question may be pertinent for any analysis or criticism of art. It also may be key for understanding why art works for some people and not for others, and why some works of art are more universal than others. Likewise, it might give us some leeway into discovering why some works of art are more profound than others by examining profundity through the depth of the prolongation of the thwarting of desire. Art appreciation now becomes an analysis of the sadomasochistic experience.

Obviously, many art lovers would be surprised or offended if we analysed them as masochists. However, this may also explain why great art can so very often be rejected, and that the difficult is often too cruel for its audience to bear. Great art and high culture knows it needs an audience that are prepared, committed and willing to endure its torture in order to be appreciated. And fine, yes, let’s repeat it, the audience don’t want to be considered sadists any more than the audience want to be masochists, but, in truth, we must be, if we are to create and appreciate great works.

The artist must work at the sadistic art of thwarting the object of desire, for it is in this thwarting that the art takes place. Going directly to the object of desire is anti-art, or pornography.

BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL

Difference-Between-Good-and-Evil-fig-1

Between good and evil there exists a certain rebelliousness or naughtiness rooted in our capacity for cynicism. A lot of bad or anti-social behaviour stems from an intelligent appreciation or common-sense intuition that what is going on around one is a great deception, an enormous waste of time based on hypocritical notions of what is right and good. Where there is moral inconsistency and hypocrisy there will be cynical rebellion. Every criminal begins as a cynic, either through a reasoned discovery of the hypocrisy or through cynical education from family and peers, artists and rebels.

The “general good”, when it is neither particularly good or general, can therefore perpetuate a general naughtiness. Values are soft and flexible, everything can be moulded to suit one’s needs. Survivors in the dog-eat-dog world turn life into a joke: something that needs to be twisted and played with in an intellectual way in order to be bearable — even if this intellectual way is hardly ever clever at all.  The more the joker suffers, the crueller and more unreasonable his or her pranks become. A society of cynics cries out for comprehension, until the permissiveness of society is interpreted as a free-rein for even crueller prodding into the ribs of anything trying to be authentically good and do the right thing.

In order for anyone to want to do anything, one has to feel capable of doing it. The criminal does the wrong thing because that is what he or she does best. For someone to think that he or she is better at doing bad things than good things, there has to be a learning that gives the criminal or pervert the notion that this judgement is right. The psychological schools, on the one hand, and the sociological methodologies, on the other, give us tools for appreciating what we do best even if our best behaviour is ethically wrong. Education, in the capitalist civilisation is a crutch, supporting excuses for doing what is humanistically wrong if that is what you do best. In this way society becomes plagued with geniuses of the craft of deception; masters of the arts of insults and rulers of manipulations that will get them exactly what they desire.

Opposed to these are the submissives who learn that the best they can do is follow orders and smile, or lower their heads when they are insulted.

The pleasure principle of psychology begins to poke its head in here. What we are good at; what we should be good at; and what we could be good at. The one good at receiving orders should also be good at giving orders – after all, one learns through submission the reasons and needs for orders to be handed out. The pleasure will come from one or the other, for those who are good at both.

One learns that radically shifting one’s own personality, and even identity features, can be a pleasurable game. Discovering a space to role play in – to delve into the naughty space between good and evil – brings pleasure, but it also undermines our capacity to do authentic good and recognise real evil.

When the answer to “what should I be good at?” amounts to “whatever gives me pleasure” society has a problem, because a society made up of ego-centric parts cannot function as a society. The prime question of society, and its members, has to be “what should we be good at?”.

But once we do ask what we should be good at, to then answer, “whatever gives us pleasure,” is immediately seen as problematical. Pleasure is never an objective, universal phenomena, even though all totalitarian regimes try to make it so. Pleasure must be a subjective phenomenon, and this makes it an inappropriate aim for society.

But what then is the answer to the question? What should we be good at?

Firstly, we should be good at being us, which means humanistically good; good in the sense of the universal community – and that goes beyond the humanistic restrictions of the nation-states or any kind of empire that is not universal. Only once that sense of universalism is established and the pillars of good and evil are clearly established, can we freely seek the pleasure that lies between those two columns.

For crass naughtiness to become purposeful rebelliousness, good must be clearly defined as a purposeful aim, and evil as the deliberate attempt to negate all authentic purposefulness.

From Khaos to Being, via Sapiens

Lotto_Capoferri_Magnum_Chaos

The original Greek χάος comes from the verb to gape and is therefore the dark emptiness, the black abyss in the yawning mouth of the Universe.

In Greek cosmology this was the word used to describe the state of non-being prior to creation. Our modern cosmology could use the term to describe the state of non-being before the Big Bang, but it doesn’t – probably because the concept is hardly a very scientific assumption; the void of Khaos would imply that there was space before the Big Bang, rather than the more generally held notion of space and time being created by the Big Bang. What’s more, chaos, as it is usually spelt, has come to mean other things, which is why we write it as khaos.

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For us, our interest in Khaos lies in the idea of a moment when non-being became the process of becoming that leads to Being, and an affirmation that such a moment was not the Big Bang. In fact, it took place millions of years after the Big Bang. The shift from a state of non-being to the process of becoming Being was a very quiet development, more like an unheard oozing than any noisy leap or an explosion of light.

Being has always been a slow process of becoming, an evolutionary unfolding, rooted in perception. It began with the first bleeps of perception from the first perceiving micro-organisms, and has developed into those complex life-forms capable of understanding and communicating their awareness, self-consciousness etc., that we call Sapiens.

In the beginning was the word …” The process to Being started with the naming of things. Being is the product of an unveiling. The Creation is not a creation as such, but a discovery or reaffirmation of the existence that would otherwise be pointlessly trapped in the yawning mouth of Khaos.

From the original notion of Khaos came the cosmological notion of a primordial state in which our cosmos in potentia is waiting to be formed in the yawning mouth. From this notion came the erroneous assumption that such a formation could only be managed by a Demiurge, the Creator, while in fact that creator is Sapiens. The Creator is all of us. Creation occurred when the yawning mouth of humanity spat out the first word.

The creator is Sapiens, and humanity (homo sapiens) is a part of that Sapiens entanglement with Being itself. Each time we utter or think a word we are taking part in the divine process of becoming that is embedded in all Being. The difference between the Universe and the Void, flows through us.

This placing of Being in the language of Sapiens, means that being is not just what is observed, understood and perceived, it also exists in the language of potential and conditionals. Being is what is, what has been, and what it could and will be. Being rejoices in us: not just in itself reflected in our perception of it, but also in our vision of its own potentials.

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Let us not be mean with Being. Give it all our love – our appreciation, understanding and preservation – and all our desire for the unleashing of its most incredible potentials, guided by our own unlimited imaginations.

ON HAPPINESS

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HAPPINESS

Let us make it quite clear: Happiness is not our goal.

But how could happiness ever be a goal in the first place? It is illusionary to assume that happiness can be searched for and then found, and if this sometimes does happen it is always brought about by accident rather than via any law of cause and effect. Happiness is always only a possible emotional result of something else that has occurred or has been striven for.

That is not to say that happiness is impossible, and we do believe that a strong, enduring kind of happiness can be found through fulfilment. This is the happiness given through the satisfaction of getting important things done; or of being in the process of doing important things; the satisfaction from the feeling that one is on the right course.

There is nothing new in this idea, but the anti-human historical process of civilisation has pushed fulfilment away from any universal purposiveness toward subjective profit-making ideas of pursuing the right course. It is in the interests of our System of Accumulations that the fulfilment of one’s right course will trample over the rest and perpetuate the competitive elements of all societies that allow social injustice and economic tyranny to thrive in an almost uncritical environment. Thus, we find ourselves driven by the right course of the nation or the empire; or the family or the company we work for; or a placing of the right course in some god’s will. But really, the subjective decisions we make when deciding on our own course of action are hardly our own decisions at all, but products of constant, systemic propaganda.

Our proposal for finding happiness, is to abandon your own pseudo-subjective course in order to anchor it in humanity itself: redrawing our right courses from a cosmologically-centred, Sapiens’ point-of-view. In this way happiness is found through a universal purposiveness, which is possible for all, and because of that an authentic happiness that can be durable and life-fulfilling.