Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On Citizen Ruth

There isn’t much to say of this film in-regard to intellectual or ideological content.  It seems to mock certain elements of both the pro-life and the pro-choice demographic though it is noticeable that they had to search for or rather express a certain element of the pro-choice movement – the “New Age” Radical Feminist Lesbian demographic – as something to mock when the entire Christian Right is ripe with those who embody the characters they epitomize.  Most Pro-choice Leftists, Centrists or Right-wing Libertarians don’t worship the Moon as a maternal figure – at-least to my knowledge.
The film is fairly decent overall and though not hysterical is a fairly intelligent comedy about a very stupid and base woman.  They create someone who we have no feelings of sympathy for until the end when she begins to become slightly more self-conscious after her child dies.  Though she is utterly contemptible through the entire film a part of me out of gullibility or successful character development still wonders if she will turn her life around and begin life anew in-a-sense. 
The only intellectual point I could see in the movie is theorizing whether it is morally distinguishable to abort a fetus and to do severe and permanent harm to a child one plans on having or bringing to term.  Since a fetus is not a human being, or rather does not deserve the same rights and privileges given to a human being, I see personally no crime in terminating the life of the unborn.  Not only is it not morally reprehensible in-terms of individual rights, in-terms of utility abortion has proven to be a great blessing in terminating life that would be both a burden to society and itself.  Abortion is a great salvation in Capitalist society where many children go uncared for financially as well-as uneducated and dull to varying extents due-to the lack of material, intellectual and emotional support resulting from the lazy or cruel parents that flourish (in number) in the economic and psychological cesspool that religion and commerce foster.
Does that excuse a mother doing drugs during her pregnancy that will harm the child that she intends to bring into this world however?  Absolutely not.  For both on a functionative and individual rights basis to make a child half-witted or physically crippled by altering it in the womb is just-as if not very-likely more due-to the degree of the damage done criminal as depriving your child of a education or future through banning books or forcing him or her to work long hours rather than getting an education.  Also in-terms of functionality, society will pay the financial and sociological burdens of more stupid people incapable of meager tasks let-alone the greatness in soul and task that humanity is capable of if external factors were suited to cultivate that greatness rather than molding children into lobotomized corporate and religious drones whose lives are insults to the potential heights and traits of imagination, reason and compassion distinctive to the human condition.

A woman who damages her fetus should certainly be punished.  But more-so than that the damaged fetus should be aborted and the mother should be disallowed from the right to bring any other potential water-headed children into this world.  Just as drunk drivers deserve some punishment but more-so than anything they immediately should have their licenses confiscated and never returned.  Far too many lazy losers and worthless piles of overweight excrement drive everywhere as it is.  Private transportation should be relegated out of existence and then banned as quickly as possible.  But that’s an entirely different issue.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

On Why I Hate Holidays

The number of reasons to hate Holidays is many and steep in contradictions and banality while expecting spontaneity – being a contradiction itself.  Holidays are wretched because there is a certain stifling quality to them like there is in the hour before one goes to bed.  One would like to watch a movie, read for long lengths, drink caffeine (or alcohol if that is the substance of one’s preference and custom) or do something lively and spontaneous but the routine of life interferes with the passion of living which is always responding to one’s current state rather than hiding in a veil of falsehood – everyone who has experienced a holiday know that it is the very essence of this falsehood.
The family members we are forced to by social convention to spend time with though we resent and share very little with; the banal conversations on weather and passing events as to not create conflicts with topics on philosophy or differing views – the custom of not expressing such views and creating conflict being a main reason why we feel such fresh ecstasy and departure from mundane blandness into a realm of wide possibilities when we meet someone who shares our precise views on life in all of its wide points and particulars.  Spending time with anyone on a holiday is a contradiction with the notion of voluntary association for it is a planned event to be with those who we otherwise spend little time with.  If one is fortunate in loving their family and feeling great kinship with them then they have what I do not, but the point holds that they spend time with their family very-likely similar to spending time with friends; rather than spending time with family out of sense of duty as the majority of us do at-least to a certain extent and with mixed feelings of duty and familial bond.
The very essence of a celebration – which most holidays masquerade as poorly – is something spontaneous and personal: the notification of the publishing of one’s first book; a raise; moving to one’s dream-town; marriage – some of these things involve a degree of planning but they certainly are not impersonal annual events of a religious or secular nature that involve false pretenses and memorial for that which we often feel no desire to commemorate.
In one’s work or daily life there is no contradiction between the expectation of spontaneity and gaiety and the tasks one performs out of duty.  However, such is typically the case at-least to some degree on planned annual social occasions which creates a feeling of irrational expectation and disappointment when the contradiction of spontaneity and planned duty become apparent in one’s psyche.  It is like the attempt to psychologically broker and synthesize the feelings of receiving an unknown but long anticipated present and paying taxes.  Though this could be said of much of life particularly of those whose lives are rigidly planned and involve little personal freedom in-regards to acting on impulse or freedom of following one’s passions assuming one has any.  Life we are told is a grand and mysterious thing – and in a sense it is – but largely it is neither large-in-scale nor perplexing but dull, dry, monotonous, planned and totally shallow and without complexity and without personal interest to the individual save of utility.  The main reason why the average person is the bore that he or she is or rather they are boring deriving from the reason why life itself for them is so dull – namely the dulling and intellectually annulling forces of religion, commerce and convention.
Custom is the great evil of society.  It represents all that is wicked in society or at-the-very-least after-effects of evils that perpetrate our ideal lives.  It is the evil after-birth of having a system of cooperation and mutual respect among half-intelligent beings that have yet to learn reason in a thorough and all-encompassing manner.  It is the holiday that is the embodiment of this, because just as we are told that holidays are done out of celebration and not of duty, we are told that we follow social convention out of true feelings of respect, kindness and gratitude when of course the very-fact that we require custom and even a cursory glance at human nature informs us that we don’t.  Handshakes of course have nothing to do with respect but rather giving the customary sign of respect via meaningless gesture that has value only because it has become a social expectation.  But for such things there is far-less value in them being demonstrated than there is harm in the lack of sign being given and the harm to one’s ego that is the response to the perception of being slighted.  This too creates and enforces the mentality of in-genuineness and acting not to represent one’s true thoughts and feelings but to be in one’s words and deeds a social object of utility and convenience; autonomy involves being too complex to interact with and at its very essence is contradictory to society.  One becomes in-part a tool to be used by others the moment one walks out the door.
Holidays are the perfect example of the general societal expression or rather the multitude of social routines of fakery and false-faces – we should see all holidays as a celebration of masks and ironically Halloween is the most genuine celebration on this planet to my knowledge.  For Halloween is the holiday where social custom dictates we spend time with those who we would be enjoying our social time with otherwise and naturally – i.e. our friends – rather than forced to hear the occasional Conservative Christian slobber and be polite to those who we interact with entirely out of convention.  It is the time where children spend time with friends and family when a child is still young enough to enjoy spending time with one’s parents and when adults get drunk and have sex.  When most holidays are typically a memorial or remembrance of something that most rightfully care little about – like the birth of a dictatorial country or the supposed birth of a somewhat wise Communist carpenter – and therefore is largely a ceremony of custom rather than a celebration of personal achievements or personality. 

Therefore Halloween – being an event to get teeth-rotting candy for youngsters and booze and sex for adults – rather than being a damper ceremony of reverence and piety is a celebration of hedonism and breaking away from social custom and acting to appease others.  It is a celebration of the nefarious, devious and demented as well as a symbolic representation of individuality and existential honesty through the physical acts of unregulated freedom – being the very anti-thesis of duty and convention in the dichotomy of what is termed “free society.”  Wearing masks so one can be their true selves and pull-off the masks we feel compelled to wear every day.  Or at-least on events where one is expected to get cute little remarks about one’s Atheism on what is supposedly a celebration, but is truly the “anti-celebration” via involving the soul-killing confinement that is the unity of the family.
On May Day Being an Annual Socialist Mass and Therefore Massively Ineffectual Socially
Or:  On May Day, Ineffectualism and Preaching to the Converted

If there is anything on this planet that is next to the supreme stupidity of both prayer or Liberal reformism and petition signing, it is the closed-circle preaching and sectarianism in the Socialist movement.  I’ve recently saw several May Day videos from party members of Germany, Sri Lanka, the UK, America etc and all of them provide nothing but reporting on Western ills, quotes by Trotsky, self-congratulations and in the instance of the American Joseph Kishore Idealism of the greatest and most grandiose variety.
Informing citizens of the actions of their and foreign Governments is of course something of great consequence and utility, but far-more than this is planning and organizing all Left-wing and Progressive forces in a effective stratagem and multi-faceted approach to move both the public perception and policies of Governments to the Left, through the triad approach of infiltration, desegregation of Socialist ideology from modern day sentiment and increasing education and standard of living which will eventually make the first two measures unnecessary if they are done effectively.
Though I have a great deal of affection for Europe and think that it is the greatest grouping of countries on this planet, I assume much of what the Trotskyites say in European Austerity programs and Free-Market or Classically Liberal reforms being pushed by the Social Democratic, Liberal, Conservative and even some supposedly Democratic Socialist parties is accurate, but if this is the case than continuing to complain by muttering in a corner surrounded by people boxed into the same corner will do precisely nothing.  Infiltration of the current large left-wing parties is the best chance of real Socialism or at the very least correction of the Austerity programs in Europe.  In America tactics will need to be slightly different in some ways because of the extent corporations and moneyed interests have utterly destroyed the democratic process, but ultimately the same logic will apply.  A unified Far Left stent in the Green Party for example seems to be the best chance of getting Socialist views to American ears, rather than the slandering and misrepresentation of Socialist views by Corporatist and Liberal pundits alike.  Candor and firmness is essential for people have an ear for those who speak bluntly and without political grandstanding, showboating or speechmaking about the American Dream or Jesus.  Some financing is necessary particularly in America, but this is less of an obstacle than the petty sectarianism and Idealism that prevails in Socialist movements.  That is not to say that Socialism itself is unrealistic or idealist, but most Socialist speakers feel content to ramble about class warfare and rampant economic and basic social injustices, just as a priest preaches to a room full of Christians or rather to his congregation.
Once we have infiltrated and brought to some level of efficacy any Centre-Left Progressive Party, the next task is focusing on the enforcement of environmental regulations – and creating ones where they are clearly lacking, though this will mean nothing if we first make sure the Capitalists can no longer evade or ignore them – and legislation that will increase the standard of living, standard of education and most importantly and essential to the long-term stability and progress of the first two points, the standard of critical thinking in our society.  Here we must also rally with the Free Thinkers, in having them focus on Philosophy and a love of wisdom rather than a mere appreciation of science, secular politics and acceptance of Atheism.  I realize that these three tasks are daunting enough in anti-intellectual America, but it is crucial that we have a mentality both for ourselves – in personal use and for social movement and development – and for our cause that of the philosopher and cynic rather than the academic scientist and preacher. 
The Philosopher seeks wisdom and the application of it and the Cynic has no value or respect for standard social mores and conventions of behavior or etiquette, using social satire and relentless criticism not willing to compromise with ignorance, greed or despotism.  It is the Academic who remains in his lab unconcerned with fundamental questions, pursuing rather if the speed of light if this or that and it is the preacher who prattles to the converted.  We must always be opening up new avenues to our mentality but first we must change our methodology and etiquette to the cynic rather than the preacher.  A cynic speaks bluntly or sarcastically while a preacher rambles and puts people to sleep.  Another thing I found incredibly obvious and detrimental in the speeches I heard, was the complete lack of humor or personality.  Like the preacher, many Socialists are too self-contained and dogmatic to be either philosophical or effectual; that is they are neither truly intellectual nor socially significant.  They neither ask questions nor act to provide answers in a utilitarian ways. 
How to get Socialist views heard more openly is a puzzling question, considering corporate news would not allow it – though they are ever-increasing in their ineffectiveness or viewership – and magazines or printed publications wouldn’t help because they are already highly politicized and each preaching to their flock.  Literature and the propagation of ideas through film, books, television, music and any form of entertainment or expression I have forgotten seem to be the best chance for the beginning of a both surge in both Socialism and more importantly Intellectualism.  This is in contrary to what thinkers like Sartre have said in literature being a bourgeois measure of academic Leftists to feel good about themselves rather than effect real social change in the barracks supposedly.  It is the Leftists shouting at or nodding along with one another that are the real bourgeois “college Leftists” in that they are totally ignorant of pragmatism and self-aggrandizing in their tactics and mentality.  The artist however creates brilliance not only in brilliant works that stand the test of time and are some of humanities greatest achievements, but in its tactics of tacitly and subtly bringing ideology and intelligence to the masses through story or song lyrics.  The overall Left-wing nature of Science Fiction being the most obvious example but also the greatness of Punk bands Left-wing and cynical attitude the forever-underrated Dead Kennedys being the prime example.  Of course one can find humor in the  irony of Sartre a so-called Marxist who believed in Radical Freedom (at-least until the end of his life) and play write criticizing writers and artists for being self-serving egoists and ineffectual.  The Right-wing Libertarians in having Ayn Rand taught in English classes know that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down and to hide the pill in the baloney even though to compare their main novelization of their ideology to baloney is an insult to cheap processed deli meat everywhere.
We could perhaps one day get works like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle taught in schools; this I’m sure might seem impossible to some, but just consider how impossible it seemed a few decades ago to have The Catcher in the Rye a novel that says the word goddamn several hundred times taught in schools.  The distinction between why the two wouldn’t be mandatory reading in schools might be worth mentioning, but it’s also important to know that almost regardless of who the schools pick as authors of youth there will be a champion of human rights and wisdom among them; John Steinbeck and Mark Twain being the most obvious Left-wing authors whose views will be known only if one peels just under the surface of their works.  Ernest Hemmingway might be another good example but I’m not sure if he’s well-read in public education.  But on the point of explicitly focusing on critical thinking, to do this we have to first alter education to encourage critical thinking and wisdom both academically and socially rather than the mere propagation of fact in a deadening way.  For this I recommend Max Stirner’s work The False Principles of Our Education though it is lacking in any approach to establishing education as it properly should be, and therefore is only academic or theoretical in its function and can only be utilitarian to that extent.  Methodology however is everything.  The Labor Movement, fighting for the Separation of Church and State, freedom of speech or any other seemingly “easy win” in purely intellectual terms means nothing if one does not have a fine-tuned, multi-pronged and above-all effective strategy of action that responds to the world as it is not as one would have it if the changes one would like implemented took effect.
As I’ve noted earlier, Joseph is throughout incredibly idealist particularly in his perception of the American working class, but I suppose I must take what small portion of pragmatic wisdom I can get and commend him for giving however vague some appeal to utility towards the end of his speech; and of course I particularly liked his defaming of middle-class edgy identification politics like racialism or Radical Feminism.  But of course his appeal to pragmatism and action is still under the blanket of the Fourth International which is wholly ineffective in bringing about any real change to popular sentiment or perception.  Infiltrating the already existent bodies of political and social organization and indoctrination will be required, though this of course does not mean one needs to abandon or disband all already existent Socialist Parties and flagships.  The main essence of this short essay – if it can be called such – I’ve already gone into more thorough detail of in The Ethics and Necessity of Vanguard Intellectualism though this one I suppose slightly differs in focusing on the need for infiltrating pre-existing establishments and parties rather than solely relying on utilizing our own – preaching to our own choir no less.  Theory is essential, but methodology in human affairs is crucial for theory to be in essence essential rather than asinine and rhetorical.

Also I’ll add that you send the wrong tone entirely when you thank people just for listening to your speech in the comforts of their own home.  You’re the one who is creating content, they should be thanking you.  Don’t be the man who runs away from a bear, or rather in this case chases after a rabbit rather than tricking it to run where you want it to go.  Doing the latter (having them going where you want them) is something art makes incredibly easy; to chase after the rabbit is to be a bore of a pamphleteer which is exactly what these repetitive speeches epitomize.
On Psycho, Bates Motel and Our Inclination to Find Connections Even When We Can Only Surmise

Psycho is a film that should be and is in the knowledge of all serous lovers of cinema.  I find Vertigo to be a superior film personally, both in its intellectual concepts and in the humor of its ending, but Psycho is regardless a cinematic classic that I shouldn’t waste any time celebrating for it is already well-received in most worthy of its original structure and intelligence.  What makes the film even more of a joy to watch though is the new show on A&E Bates Motel which is a type of prologue depicting the adolescent years of our loveable boyish Norman Bates.
Of course one of the most obvious reasons why the show is interesting for a lover of Psycho is it is the first time – I’m unaware of the Psycho sequels but I’ve heard they aren’t nearly as well-made as the original and most-likely in the same line as Nightmare on Elm St. V or Halloween VII – we see Norma Bates for who she really is, not how Norman’s madness portrays her as.  The show creates a realistic portrait of a woman perhaps a tad too clingy and at-times neurotic; an archetype of a loving mother who in-a-sense loves too much and smothers her son in the process.  How Norman converts this perception of his mother to a hateful possessive crow is certainly something that Freud would have a field-day over.  Though of course a rationalization of why Norman perceives Norma as he does would be merely that – a attempt at explaining why the mind works as it does making leaps-of-reason rather than relying purely on evidence and sound steps in reasoning confirmed by more evidence – it seems that since we perceive a mal-intent in things that either have no intent or malice – “the sky looks angry” – or have a intent but isn’t at-all malicious or not how we suspect – children who may half-believe their parents dislike them because they are strict and disallow them from doing something regardless of whether their parenting is sound or not – it would be rational using a more rationalist epistemology to suspect or believe that Norman “believes” subconsciously that his mother is spiteful and wicked because she prevented him – so he feels which is in-part true – from achieving his full potential or fleeing the nest due-to her own insecurities and need of smothering.  The psyche depicting Norma Bates as wicked to protect Norman from the ambiguities of having a mother who isn’t monstrous but merely human and flawed harming or hindering him in some way.  He is compelled through social expectation and being alone with his mother for so long to love her even though she puts unreasonable expectations and unhealthy forms and levels of affection unto him; therefore he is made sick by loving that which he reasonably would be repulsed by.  Once again this is a psychoanalytical analysis of Norman’s illness; “real” or far-more valid fields and perceptions of Psychology would first-and-foremost explain Norman’s illness through physical defects in the brain which could have been caused by trauma or a multiplex of conditioning but in-terms of schizophrenia is very-largely genetic and is triggered by large amounts of stress – or at-least such is the case according to my understanding of the modern major consensus on the illness.  Some illnesses are more genetic while others formed by factors of development but most involve both in differing ways and degrees.
But of course if we follow this logic there will be an increase in tension and conflict.  Norman is forced not only to act as if he loves his mother, but to actually love her since the person he is most desperate to convince, though he may be largely unaware of this turmoil, is himself.  The reality of the unhealthy and preventative nature of their relationship and his need to alter himself to be the model son for a plethora of reasons will inevitably come and escalate more-and-more into conflict until at-least in some ways the tension is released.  This is seen in Norman murdering his mother – we’re told with her lover which we’ll assume to be true for the time being.  The very nature of the murder represents the duality and confliction of his psychology.  He very-likely feels some degree of resentment for his mother but he also needs her.  He murders her both – potentially – to end the tension and expectations that she thrusted upon him and because she broke his trust and understanding of their relationship of being in a sense monogamous or rather exclusionary by loving another man in a way that he could never provide for her in his role as her son. 
Once again I would like to reiterate that this film is a work of psychoanalysis and not psychology in the strictest sense.  Its rationalism is inaccurate to productive models of research and present notions of illness; but Rationalism and intellectual theory divorced from proper methods of deduction and study make great literary works in a way that a more Humean representation of knowledge and understanding would be lacking in.  There is a type of loss in grandiose tragedy and notion of self when we come to the conclusion that madness results as chemical imbalances in the brain and who we are is just as-much a product of our material natures as they are our up-bringing if not more-so.  Of course when we analyze this feeling we find it to be nonsensical; there is no reason why we lose any notion of self by believing we are the products of cause altering our given material essence, but this does not change the inclination to posit the “self” as a thing in-itself divorced from all the parts and factors of ourselves just as we wish to attribute the ocean to be a singular thing which of course ignoring all the life forms, geology and hundreds of tons of garbage within or on it – or include it if you like – it is nothing more than a large accumulation of water.  Holism is nothing but a psychological perception that is quasi-Existentialist in its inclination for the human condition to escape Materialism or Determinism in some perceptions seen for example in the writings of Sartre.
To get into the particulars of Norman’s dialogue with Marion, it seems at-least at-first to myself that Norman is lying to her when he says that his mother built and ran the motel because of her being convinced to do so by a gentleman caller or lover.  It seems one is led to assume this when contrary knowledge is given in Bates Motel, because we are essentially told that the drama is a prequel to Psycho and an accurate depiction of Norman Bates adolescent life; we are led to believe he is lying, but have no definitive proof or even strong evidence of this claim that would rule-out or be superior to any other explanation.  After we consider this possibility, if one follows the path of possible explanations, what will be very-likely the next explanation for the confliction is that Bates Motel altered things to have Norma without a lover as the show premieres so a development of Norman being jealous and potentially murderous over Norma’s new lover can happen later into the chronology of the show while still showing the iconic house and not having Bates Motel without any motels – at-least run by the Bates – for a great stent of the show.  But once again we have no evidence that this is the case and this is merely a perceived cause for the discrepancy.  The last easily thought of reason one will think of is that Norman is delusional and due-to his delusions has a false impression of his history at-this point for his madness has clearly become extreme.  If we are to perceive his illness the way the psychoanalyst would, this would seem less likely for there is no clear reason for his psyche to have him believe his mother only built the motel once convinced by her lover.  Unless perhaps his psyche made it another result of his mother’s love affair which he clearly felt strong negative emotions about; this would seem somewhat reasonable – assuming that one has the theory that his illness is a causal mechanism for his own protection – given that he very-likely loathes the financial burden and duty of maintaining the motel that he feels condemned to by his mother.  But of course people have failures of memory and misconstructions of reality as result of illness or basic human error without having any utilitarian or preventative aspects to the individual; mental illness of course being a result of biological variables in the brain rather than the subconscious mind elaborately altering one’s mind to produce coping and defense mechanisms.  Here too there is no evidence, asides from the fact that Norman is mad, that his utterance of both the reasoning behind the construction of the motel and the age he was when his father died is wrong not because he lies out of some compulsion but his mind has a fundamentally inaccurate perception of these matters due-to his illness whether one wishes to look at it psychoanalytically or neurochemically.
This of course is an excellent depiction of Hume’s criticism of causation as something that fundamentally for human beings is something we infer rather than experience.  Our perception and interpretation of human motivations is another fine example.  For when we hear that a man kidnapped animals from a pet store, we may assume various things the four main one’s being that he was a petty thief in search of profits, a Nihilist in search of kicks, a destitute man down on his luck and in desperate need of income or perhaps animal companionship, or that it was done for political reasons.  One’s particular attitude of the reasons and causes for theft are largely based on one’s psychology and politics – politics being largely derived by one’s psychology – and not on reason though one could have the psychology to search diligently for the “correct” reason based on evidence and fair reason rather than quick rationalizations and leaps of logic that don’t require much thought and are at-least somewhat persistent in most citizen’s opinions and notions of the world and reality.  The larger point being that we have no evidence of anything that would prove without a reasonable doubt what the motive was for this robbery knowing only that it took place.  And then of course there are the material and deterministic reasons behind his motivations.  The same is so behind the discrepancies between what Norman tells us of his past in Psycho and what is portrayed in Bates Motel. 
We simply cannot know at-this-point what the case is and wouldn’t unless in the show we see Norman become mistaken about basic facts of his life – proving more-or-less the third possibility – or we see him become a compulsive liar when it doesn’t benefit him in the slightest to tell falsehoods – not exactly proof but strong evidence for the first possibility – or the writers or creators of the show telling us that this is an alteration of the life of Norman Bates though I personally dislike the creators of any work telling us what the truth is rather than displaying it intelligently in the creation itself for us to witness as one would in reality.  This would be comparable to the makers of Total Recall telling us, “oh yeah, it was all in his head the whole time; sorry people who thought it was real.”  I don’t think I need to tell people who love these types of movies – or rather this aspect in some movies – how disheartening and outrageous this would be and how invalid it would seem and is.  For I suppose the creator of something could tell us Dumbledore is gay, but if there is absolutely no evidence in the work for us to extrapolate Dumbledore’s homosexuality, then one is essentially conceding to an argument from authority in-that all creators have immediate knowledge of the smallest or most significant facts of the character and setting as long as it does not contradict what is stated or portrayed in the work itself.  From this reasoning one could deduce that every author writing any and every novel where the sky is not stated to be blue can state that the sky is in-fact green in this world, even though more-than ninety-nine percent of the stories take place on Earth in relatively speaking modern day.  Therefore I find that the second reason given for why there is a confliction ‘tween what Norman said and what is depicted in Bates Motel can only be a possibility based on the lack of any other reasonable explanation being proven or having a substantial amount or degree of evidence validating it. 
It is possible for us to know relatively speaking the cause behind something or for us to understand the mechanics of something, but we must always be ultimately skeptical in not believing anything until there is thorough evidence for something and not making the leaps of logic or evidence based on past experience (the fallacy of induction) that is only quasi-valid in its powers due-to the nature of repetition seen in human motivation, organisms and physical laws having a general constancy that is of course not without exception and requires a thorough understanding of the thing itself before one can make absolute claims of possibility.  For example, if one understands why a goose’s feathers are the color that they are (genetics; though causally randomness and natural selection will very-likely play a great deal as-well) and once thoroughly examining the possible alleles of the goose determine that the goose can only be white (naturally; we all know that it could be painted and so on) then one can make the inductive claim:  All geese are white – for this particular reason – therefore all geese are white.  There are however of course genetic mutations which is an essential aspect of evolution as-well.  Therefore all-other-things-constant we could deduce that this particular species of goose can only have white feathers, or that flamingos can only be pink; but we must remember that flamingoes weren’t forever on this Earth and that they are the child-species of a bird that was unlikely the same vibrant color that the species is known for.  Therefore we must always curb absolutist statements and say, “all-other-things-constant” things are as they are and not something else – but then one is essentially stating a logical truism and saying nothing about reality as it is in its multitudes of consistencies and plethora of phenomena.
But returning to the psychology and logistics of Psycho, when Norman is confronted with his mother’s death, does he at that moment recognize she is dead or does he believe that they are under a misapprehension?  I.e. – his mother faked her death.  Since we see a clear progression in Norman’s illness, did he murder his mother in a black out and then afterwards degenerate to the point of for great stretches of time believing to be his mother or was he already at that point?  We see him for about a minute believe to be his mother when confronting his uncle who supposedly raped his mother, but we have no idea how close this is to his mother’s murder for she has not started to date the sheriff yet – yes we all know by now that he’s going to be the lover that is murdered by Norman, or at the very least he and Norma will have some romantic tension increase in the next season or sometime after.  It seems likely – though we don’t know enough about Norman’s state of mind at the time of the murder and shortly after to presume much – that Norman first killed his mother and her lover in one of his blackouts and then began to progressively believe himself to be his mother afterwards.  What state of mind he is in when he replaced her corpse with a weighted coffin and in various points in the movie is hard-to-say.  For example, after he kills Marion believing to be his mother, how does he find blood and presume his mother had killed someone?  We know from the season two finale of Bates Motel that he believes from then-on his mother is a murderer, but did he find the blood on himself or the clothes that he uses to dress up as his mother which he believes belongs to her or somewhere in the house?  Also though this is clearly a literary device of foreshadowing, it does seem that he has some self-awareness of his illness when he shows contempt for Marion when she suggests he putting his mother in an institution and possibly also when he says, “I don’t hate her; I hate the illness.  I hate what she’s become,” though likely this is nothing more than well written foreshadowing.  It is clear that he doesn’t often associate with anyone at-all, let-alone those who would know his mother, so it seems that he wouldn’t often be confronted with this reality though if so it is difficult to determine how he would cope with this outside of how it is treated in canon.  However such an example exists neither in Psycho nor in Bates Motel to my recollection though the series seems to point towards a psychoanalytical stent which would have us conclude it to be more likely he believe that his mother faked her death.  Rationalizing the psyche as protecting the person that it exists within – though mental illness is not often as convenient as Freud would have us believe.
Another great Humean notion portrayed in the Psycho universe is that of self.  We believe that we have a “self” that is continuous, but we know of course that we change and the self is not set-in-stone.  Then what is the self?  Clearly it is our consciousness, but what exactly is that if not just moment-to-moment thoughts and perceptions tied to our bodies experiencing its perception of the world changing according to largely predetermined materialist (or physical) law.  We have constancy in our genetic makeup and close to constancy in our biological being, and due-to this we have certain regularities in our psychology and consciousness.  But one’s state-of-mind can change even to one’s own confession and knowledge, and with this alteration comes a change in self.  When one takes drugs not only does one’s perception possibly change, but one’s emotions, attitudes, thoughts and essentially any other aspect of psychological being being privy to change depending on the individual and the substance.  Also because our memories are flawed and are attention to minute detail limited in both scope and duration, we could most certainly experience a shift in self that is gradual that we are entirely ignorant to.  In fact, many who are unreflective, those who are “asleep” and are basic non-intellectual simple-minded cattle responding to stimulus very seldom notice their “selves” at-all in the way that an Existentialist is likely to.

One of the most fascinating transitions and sentiments we get from our coupling of Bates Motel with Psycho is the total destruction of the self from illness when we saw it do quite the opposite previously when it seemed to almost protect its possessor – like a parasite who keeps his host strong so it may grow and ultimately burst out of its food source’s stomach killing it in the process.  This is seen in Norman’s psyche protecting him by having him believe that Norma murdered his teacher; but at the end of Psycho, we see his illness consume him entirely by sacrificing himself for the benefit of his illness.  Or rather him in-a-sense depicting things accurately when he believing to be his mother tells the police that he killed all-of-those people when as his mother he believes that “she” did it.  How his illness has warped his perception of his mother is brilliantly made into contrast by having his mother constantly protect him and decry that he is innocent and not guilty for the crimes he commits as result of his mental illness.  That he does what he does without knowing and would only be put under duress, harmful medication and operation in a mental institution.  However in the iconic scene in Psycho, we hear him believing to be his mother thinking, “He was always bad,” having his mother condemn him when it was she who protected him for years; and this is made even more tragic when we remember that he murdered his mother.  Therefore we see his illness which she protected not only destroy her but her son’s perception and feelings of warmth towards his mother, the person that both allowed him to be free physically but also condemned him towards the state-of-mind he now currently resides in – condemning herself and others in the process – as a type of prison and torture.  Norman was born in his trap, but it was his mother who allowed him to stay trapped in it and eventually he became the warped perception of she who both was his source of love and illness and ultimately of life and self-destruction.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On No Exit

No Exit is an excellent depiction of the psychology of pure vanity, sadism and moral “relativism” in caring what others think of them and their ethics rather than them actually being moral.  Most of the observations I could make I think the person of slightly above-average intelligence (the bare minimum level of intelligence for someone who would be compelled to read Jean-Paul Sartre) would be able to make quite easily; and considering the short length of the play I shan’t bother you with my long explanations of the obvious.  But what I do think is worth mentioning is the importance of intellectualism and moral objectivity and true reflection and how all of these characters lack it.
Estelle is the most obvious of the three; she is an empty vessel who is totally incapable of any serious reflection or valuing anything outside of superficiality.  She gives the appearance of being happy because she’s obsessed with appearances; but in actuality she’s always concerned about appeasing others or having desperate boys in her clutches to appease her.  She exists only in her relations to others. 
But for Inez others exist only for her relations to them.  A cold hearted woman who is incapable of legitimate feelings of warmth or friendship, she masquerades like Estelle to manipulate others but instead of attaining her own superficial gratification, her needs are intimately and deeply psychological.  That is she requires others to suffer for her to feel joy and marvels at the extent she can mold others and dance at her whim.  But of course ultimately this results in her murder by a woman who she drove to suicide.  She too requires others to be happy but because of this can never truly be content in herself for her psychology deals with a deep sense of inadequacy and rejection partly based perhaps on her too being Hedonistic but being unable to find joy herself and being not particularly beautiful but in some sense being vain.
Garcin is clearly the most decent of the three.  Asides from his treatment of his wife he is an overall moral human being.  I in no way find his cowardice to be a major moral fault; certainly not something worth going to Existentialist Hell for.  But perhaps that’s the thing. Existentialist Hell isn’t a place one goes to for moral sins, but for lack of genuineness and strength in one’s self.  Seen in the case of Garcin in his neurotic concern of others perception of him, but as a complete moral human being; not the superficial and simplistic way of Estelle or the manipulative and self-servingly sadistic way of Inez.  But they all lack true moral objectivity, reflection and action regardless of others’ perception of said actions – even though Garcin claims to have thought all the things through rigorously; what he clearly has done is spent hours and hours rationalizing to himself though he has a few moments of honesty.  Garcin was only capable of treating his wife terribly because she didn’t explicitly judge him morally because of it; in-fact, she showed nothing but signs of submission and tacit approval by serving coffee for him and his lover in their home.
That is why intellectualism is necessary in the majority of moral conduct.  Basing ethics off of feelings and compulsions will leave most with the psychology and mentality that morality only exists only so-far as other people judge one’s true motives that all three characters attempted to hide.  For this urge to conform to moral rule at-risk of being ostracized and to be esteemed highly by others is the main motive for moral action in-regards to the majority’s moral psychology.  Inez is merely the inverse of this. 
Reason however guides one’s hand to act impartially in the sense of seeking what is right and consequentially the best alternative – rather than Deontology which is little more-than an appeal to moral feeling which exists almost entirely out of social conditioning and negative psychological attributes; or Divine Command Theory which once again creates a system where morality only exists so far that some Sky God is watching one’s acts and is of course a large material of the immorality and lack of objectivity that humans have currently – outside of feelings, others perceptions and awareness, and self-interested in the sense that it can not only give us what we want when acting on impulse often leads to short-term pleasures if any at-all, it can guide us on what desires to act on for after-all man is a multi-faceted and conflicted being that requires some governing fulcrum to steer one’s self in the storm’s of passions and impulses lest he give into baseness or ease.

Though it is an obvious and simple point, I feel the urge to quickly state the ridiculousness of having a Hell – the worst of all possible worlds – be primarily psychological rather than physical which is far more excruciating than any torment of the soul.  Though depicting an “Existentialist Hell” or a nightmarish formulation where one’s psyche is on the rack is of course something that requires and becomes the plaything of a far-greater intellect that is bored by the simple religious notion that is Hell – one half of the most simplistic backdrops which is both the most boring and used to create the greatest bores on this Earth.  No Exit is an interesting depiction of how we create our own suffering and how we suffer variously and often vicariously through the expectations, conflicts of nature and interest and conditioning that make us who we are; the main flaw of No Exit being its complete lack of the latter two being a product of Sartre’s view of “radical human freedom.”  It’s strange that he wishes to escape materialism and determinism on Earth but uses the latter as a prerequisite of maximal predetermined suffering in Hell.  Almost as strange as a supposed Marxist believing in “radical freedom” when Marx gave the most comprehensive and absolute rebuttal of free-will of perhaps any philosopher.
On Two Moral Considerations – physical (immediate) and consequential (long-term)
One can easily think of many a moral dilemma where not only is there no objectively and solitarily correct answer, but there is no answer that surpasses all others.  The fact that there are many situations where there are many justifiable options to take is something I think that many can and do accept; however, the notion that there is no “correct” answer in the sense that one choice is the best in rational, utility or whatever standard of measure one could have as criterion of the rightness of an action is something that is hard to swallow.  This is not by any stretch arguing for moral Nihilism, and is only arguing for relativism in the sense that in a situation where such a case I have described is-such, the actions and justifications will be relative to the particular agent but will not necessarily make him more or less moral for choosing one course over another.
One hypothetical notion that easily came to me was from the film Batman Forever, the third film from the first Batman film series.  In it, a cartoonish Two Face played by Tommy Lee Jones kills Dick Grayson’s – Robin, for all of you with social lives – parents and brother.  He becomes obsessed with killing him out of a craving for revenge and has the opportunity to either do so or watch him die as he’s clinging to a steep cliff, the only thing preventing him from a watery grave.  Any of the given choices, to kill him, to watch him die or to save him and disarm him – which Robin isn’t smart enough to do – are reasonable, and I would argue, equally valid choices given a proper or wise frame-of-mind.  This accredits Nietzsche’s Perspectivism of viewing the same thing with contradictory viewpoints but neither one being necessarily invalid. 
On one hand, Two Face is a murderer who is unrepentant in his crimes and incredibly likely to kill at the slightest convenience or even flare of manic joy – because of the two-dimensional Two Face portrayed in this film that doesn’t seem to have any of the duality of the true Two Face and seems to only need to flip the coin to justify his actions and keep with the motifs of the character – making him someone who should be killed if one is unable to apprehend him without threat to himself or others.  Robin was in a life-threatening situation as it was already with the Riddler, and in a situation of combat where one’s life is at-risk, it is perfectly acceptable to kill a murderer who is in allegiance with a psychopath and plots your demise.  And of course it is perfectly acceptable to merely remain passive in such a situation as-long as it’s not likely that Two Face is about to immediately harm another life.  A fine example of this being Batman “killing” Ras Al Ghul in the film Batman Begins by not saving him.  Now of course Batman didn’t save him, but many people feel intrinsically that he had a part in his death by simply being able to save him by proxy but choosing not to.  This would be an immoral action if one was remaining idle in-regards to saving the life of a “moral agent” or an innocent who was still a member of the community who had their faults but ultimately was “good” in the sense of not being a threat to the safety or living standards of others.
On the other hand, Two Face is psychotically ill and to a certain degree cannot be blamed for his actions even to the extent that the average human being can.  And of course a proper understanding of Determinism and Materialism will have us come to the conclusion that no agent is fundamentally responsible for their actions though in-regards to Consequentialism we – in a proper system, which our current one only has shreds of  the reason of and at-times contradicts the reason of – act to first and foremost prevent and then punish, rehabilitate and confine those who do heinous acts to unwilling participants or participants who had no other desirable recourse such is the case of Capitalism. 
Now there is a distinction to be made between different types of psychoses.  There are those like strong delusions and manias that make one incapable of reasoning or being able to understand that their action is morally wrong; and there is the type of psychological frailties and faults we all suffer from that when accentuated to a massive degree will have one murder an innocent though they know it’s wrong.  The case of the woman who slowly poisoned her son for an extended period of time leading up to his death is an adequate example of this.  Essentially what she suffered from was a exasperated form of a particular kind of Narcissism, something that does not impend one’s reasoning or understanding of moral concepts, but does create the mind that suffers or feels such motivation that enacting on one’s psychosis or desires becomes something of far greater concern than maintaining one’s conscience or overpowering whatever degree of empathy one may have – which in such cases is little if any – for others namely those that one enacts foul deeds upon.  Two Face in the movie seems to suffer from the latter and not the former; understanding that his actions are immoral and reveling in the fact that they are.  Still, all those who commit foul deeds, are apprehended and pose no immediate threat to those surrounding them should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate and improve themselves and in a sense should be forced to do so to remove the needs of prisons.  Of course when one is using cartoonish villains such as Two Face or The Joker one knows that rehabilitation is impossible, but in reality we have a moral obligation to both the community and he or she who is simultaneously the guilty and the victim to be improved in whatever way is allowed by his or her nature.
Some will mention that whether or not Robin would be killing Two Face or allowing him to die out of revenge would play a key aspect in the determination of the morality of his action.  Overall I disagree.  In the film, Bruce says to Dick that if he kills Two Face he will not be satiated and will hunt down more wrong doers due-to his perpetual discontent.  Isn’t this essentially what Batman does or rather who Batman is?  Though he ultimately acts justly and is a force for good, his actions aren’t done out of universal love for others but out of personal torment and guilt.  The only real conceivable distinctions one could make is whether or not Robin would kill his victims – though if they were about to immediately harm another human being and one was less-likely to be effective in saving them without using severe violence, such is many cases in reality, one would be entirely justified in using severe or even lethal violence in-kind depending on the appearance of severity in the violence at-hand – and whether or not he would hunt-down people who were actually guilty of severe crimes, or out of desperation to harm anyone he would deem worthy of punishment harass someone littering and rationalizing the broken arm he gave them as some act of grandiose justice or just desserts.
There are scenarios where revenge and justice are comparable if not seemingly identical.  But more importantly motivations only matter in-regards to the utility of their fruit.  We only frown upon bad motives, or even label them as viceful or lascivious because of their impact on our lives.  Any other perception would be entirely deontological and therefore unrealistic.  Deontology is a result of the psychological need to ground in moment-to-moment “objectivity” what is only a moral concern because of utility.  If Robin killed Two Face out of revenge and bloodlust, though he never went down the dark path Bruce describes, would it still be an indefensible act?  I think not.  Now of course one could mention the motives involved in the murder of an innocent; but first and foremost the murder of an innocent is a crime regardless of the motives.  Second, the motives, psychology, character and temperament necessarily to create the archetype of a killer of the innocent is one who is very-likely to kill again and therefore it is rational and evolutionarily advantageous to feel condemnation towards such attributes particularly in synthesis; the man or woman who kills their lover out of jealously or the emotionally fragile person who commits violence against the perception of the slightest slight to their ego or perceived grievance against them being obvious examples.
We rightfully judge motive only in one’s understanding of whether or not one was doing was truly morally justifiable – for example someone who commits a single crime for typical motivations and one who does under the pretense that they’re preventing a crime but was under a misapprehension or honest misunderstanding are two radically different things; one being founded on ignorance or apathy (or likely desperation and ill-character being a product of our society) to morality when the other is founded merely on ignorance to crucial facts at-hand; the man who tackles another man when he had reasonable suspicion of a potential weapon he seemed to be pulling out of his jacket pocket for example – and in whether or not this is conducive to further immoral acts of a varying degree.  That is why the Nihilism of theft when one doesn’t need to steal to survive and the Nihilism of murder are deemed radically different though in-a-sense one is merely a far-more extreme version of the same sickness.  One is likely to result in more petty thefts – a crime but a minor one – while the other is likely to result in more murders which are obviously a direct threat to the safety of the community at-large.  One is deemed juvenile and is something that millions have done in small amount and numerations; while the other is a far-more “mature” form of crime in the sense that just as a baby calf matures into a adult sow, so crimes of Nihilistic impulse can grow if not checked, similarly to drug users moving on to greater amounts or variations of drugs since the ones and amounts they have previously used no longer give them the desired effect.  Though it should be said that the existence of most cases of mature evil is not only heinous because of the action itself, but what it says of the moral, psychological and material welfare of society where such an action could very-likely be prevented with good parenting, opportunity, education and other societal factors but such a crime was committed due-to such factors very-likely being lacking.
Jean-Paul Sartre would agree with me on the main essence of these moral dilemmas; however where he would differ is his idea that once a person has made a moral choice they must continue with the choice they have made though there are equally valuable ones to make.  The example that Sartre gives is whether to take care of one’s mother or to fight in an assumingly just war.  Religions will provide no guidance in this dilemma as they provide little or no constructive guidance on a litany of moral dilemmas and provide horrible guidance and evil instruction in many cases.  If one is to base one’s decisions on feelings of compassion (moral sentiment theory) then it is very-likely that one will choose to aid one’s mother rather than the National effort.  Of course one could dislike one’s mother considerably, and it could be for reasons that do not result from the mother being a dreadful human being but rather a human being with faults and family quarrels which are common and almost inevitable in this life.  The son or daughter could then use their reason to decide that their mother should be cared for when there are many souls who will fight and very-likely die to fight in a struggle that one could provide no particular skill or talent for.  But of course today there are nursing homes to tend to one’s parents, though the mother could feel greater joy if they are tended to buy the fruit of their loins to justify the sentiment that their children are appreciative of the years of childrearing that the mother gave for their child (ren) regardless of the psychological or intellectual motivation.  But what if one has invaluable skills to provide for the war effort?  And what if the war is for the freedom of many when mother is only a single person?  But what if mother is in critical condition but the war is a minor squabble that is of no great impact to one’s native land?  Should it make a difference if the war is to defend one’s freedom or to ensure the freedom of others living in Theocratic and despotic lands?  If we examine ethics through moral universals that is one persons freedom is of no greater significance than anyone else’s unless seen through the guise of utility – Einstein’s freedom being more important than Glenn Beck’s that is, which is certainly true in a sense but both need to be defended for the social harmony of all.  There are so many factors in this hypothetical that remains unfleshed, so let-us generalize and say that there are two equally moral actions one feels compulsion or some sense of obligation to take.  They are a coward, selfish or weak-willed in some way if they abandon both obligations but whether option they chose only says something of the individual based on the criterion that they made the decision.
We make a decision of following either course.  And as long as there is no great evidence that one choice is indisputably of higher moral consequence to the greatest amount of moral agents that one can make a significant impact in than one can be said to have made a correct choice.  However, if said evidence arises and one chooses not to act on it, it is not that one is now immoral, but one is not following the path of the highest moral utility or consequence; something that every person on this planet is guilty of and is no great error as long as the path one is on contains some shrubbery of nobility along its way.  Where Sartre seems to fall into error is that we must than stick with that decision to be authentic, when the conflictions and contradictions of one’s psychology are irreparable and authentic parts of the human condition.  I see no error in the next time around, if both decisions are equally choice-worthy as before, if the son or daughter makes the opposite choice on sound reason to help bring Secular Liberalism and Democracy – and perhaps even Socialism – to a foreign land where these notions of equality, freedom and prosperity for all citizens is a foreign idea.  It is not bad faith to pick cranberry lemonade over orange juice when one has had orange juice before.  In fact, to change one’s mind and pursue an equally valid course of action to the one one was pursuing before will provide diversity to one’s life; diversity providing the complexity that will aid one’s future decision making processes and the formation of a superior future self.

Like the title implies, the distinctions I mean to clarify are the distinctions and complexities between the alternatives of choice and the various conceptions of physical (immediate) and psychological or consequential aspects that matter only when there is reason to believe such traits will affect the community for the worse – or for the better since we should of course seek to understand not only the illness but the nature and formation of health and encourage and “enforce” it as standard via material and educational nutrition upon all civilians.  These moral questions I delve into aren’t ones of ambiguity but of complexity.  For ambiguity describes something of an opaque nature that by its nature contains uncertainties; when complexities merely contain something of a multi-faceted nature, high-mindedness or nuance.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

On Suburbia

Suburbia is a great film, and not just because it’s immersed in Punk “culture.”  It’s a film that shows that the disenfranchised youth of America to varying degrees both rebel and retain the ugliness of contemporary America and its various ills and institutionalized producers of illness.  We see this in Jack’s racism – unless he’s referring to how his Dad is an “Uncle Tom” by being a black cop, which isn’t necessarily racist but showing contempt for those who are oppressed but have become the oppressor instead of rebelling against said oppression – and in Joe’s homophobia.  Of course we feel contempt for someone who when his friends have actual familial problems such as abusive parents and very-likely religious fundamentalists and hypocrites whines about having a gay dad, but this both is a expression of general teenage angst and dissatisfaction as well as showing that materially poor and culturally lacking societies produce the ignorance and psychological problems that help sustain such conditions such as racism, bigotry and religious orthodoxy.  We see the dysfunction of a modern American home through the main characters alcoholic mother and the modern nightmare of the “American Dream” realized in at-least some fashion.  That the ideals of ownership and the immense centralization of capital has created the dispersion of average American functionality and escape physically for those who cannot adapt by either escaping mentally or destroying their present or potential “mental self,” that is many traits that most would identify as a soul.
The Punks in no way are ideal rebels, and their form of rebellion and life style is in no way glorified or made to look heroic.  Stealing to survive when one does not have legal access to food is not immoral, but they do perform immoral actions such as graffiti and vandalism that aren’t necessary or defendable.  In some ways one can easily empathize with the red necks who are unwilling to tolerate and remain idle to petty crime happening in their community; however, their ugliness is depicted in Sheila’s father and mother and in the rednecks automatically siding with them (though the Punk characters don’t necessarily represent themselves as characters to doubt allegations against), particularly in the father’s severe abuse but also in the mother’s wish to remove the Punks who don’t look pleasant to her and therefore for her aren’t welcome at the funeral of a loved one.  Though several of them in several ways are moral, none of them seem particularly intelligent which is an honest portrayal of many rebels or rather outsiders by circumstance who though they are taking the proper course of rebellion, they fail to do so in the proper fashion and for the proper reasons. 
Kidnapping Ethan is an example of an unjustifiable action unless one brings the abhorrent state of our foster homes into account.  It would not be a heinous deed if they continued to educate him, but considering they themselves are almost wholly ignorant of anything asides from the facts of modern American suffering and decay they have no interest in educating him so that he may have an opportunity to escape the American lower-class, or if he showed sign of leaving intellectual poverty leave America altogether.
Sheila’s suicide shows the completely understandable choice of wishing to leave this world in the state that this is in or wishing to end one’s personal torment derived from personal psychological trauma or malady.  Those suffering from severe often can be helped, but considering the immense degree of moral and material degradation of our society, and the degree of misery and pain a human being can endure and experience needlessly and continuously, suicide is a decision that always deserves our understanding and sympathy, not judgment or contempt.  Suicide is an act of bravery for those who no longer wish to be fate’s play thing and in almost all cases of self-caused death contempt should be placed not on he or she who took their life, but those around him or her who treated them without mercy and with great malice.  And of course those with economic, political and religious authority who create the world we live in to some degree (of course because of determinism and materialism none of us make the world in the ultimate sense) must always be blamed for each individual case or representation of the effects of their greed, ignorance, hatred, apathy and selfishness.  Until our lives are no longer contoured by ulterior motives, we will always have poor motives ourselves and many will wish to escape the hellish world unfit for Man to live in but constructed by his own design.
Both in the state of the teenagers and the deaths of two children we see that continued innocence and the potential to remain untainted by the horrors of the outside world are impossibilities.  If we haven’t in some way been shaped by this evil as we grow then the only other alternative is to die young to retain one’s innocence.  The child in all of us dies by the conditions of the world, and our ideal selves and sense of idealism perish with the current impossibility of ideal material conditions.  Ghostly angels who were slaughtered by the poverty and sickness of the world and leaving only broken vestiges who despite potentially rebelling and leaving “the system” physically or intellectually can never escape from its scars psychologically.  We never can escape from the hellish aspects of our lives fully because we must continue living.  The film with Kevin Bacon in it where he becomes what he hates in some sense (Death Sentence) is a wonderful example of this as is Malcolm’s graduation speech at the final episode of Malcolm in the middle.
Death is the only ultimate escape but in it we can never escape because with death comes the obliteration of self.  Until theoretically the invention of artificial intelligence there will always be the divide between self as actuality and self as perception through Ego.  Our Ego both saves us from realizing our faults and ensures that we will continue to act according to them; Ego both being simultaneously the ability to forget or temporarily be removed from faults by being unaware of them and a fault of self-importance and need for unnecessary forms of self-validation in itself as well as a reason why selfishness is so predominant and even the most unoriginal and bland of individuals consider themselves important and cherished – one reason why religions such as Christianity and Islam are so popular.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

On Oh God! as a Work of Deism

I am an Atheist who loved the first Oh God! Movie – the second one being mostly shit and the third one being all-right.  This might seem like an odd statement to those unacquainted with the film, but I appreciate it first for its virtue in writing, secondly for the quality of its message, and thirdly specifically – though I realize that this is tied to what the movie is conveying overall – that it is a work of Deism in almost every regard, not Christianity.
Because I’ll be getting deep into Anti-theist material deeply into the second movie, I’ll start this one just by saying the non-ideological things I like about this movie which in-part extends to the series as a whole.  I enjoyed George Burn’s take on God.  Loving, wry, infinitely kind but in a quiet way, he really does convey in a believable way what a beneficent deity who is either unwilling or unable to delve into human affairs would be like.  The movie is surprisingly funny – something you’d never get from an evangelical film – though I’m one of the few people on this planet that enjoys puns and clever use of language.  The film has a charm that’s difficult to detail on paper and should be witnessed directly.
I particularly like how John Denver’s character (who for a time my mother was obsessed with so it’s nice to see him play a charming role) starts out as a non-believer and a thoroughly decent person; and not only this, but remains ultimately the same person though he has spoken with God.  Showing that ethics is ultimately secular and is derived either from moral sentiment or reason; religion need not apply.  Also though he is thoroughly honest with all who he interacts with, he doesn’t begin proselytizing to his children or begin instructing them in Young-Earth Creationism.  He doesn’t want everyone to start worshipping God or “giving their lives” over to him, but to relay the message that he apparently created the world in a fashion that allows us to live in harmony and bounty.
Though there is of course many elements I could bring up that would contradict this, ultimately with the advancement of technology and Man’s understanding of Psychology and other sciences I would agree that the world can be made into a workable place where justice, freedom and opportunity exist for all.  However, God’s ethics, though not immoral in this film, are incredibly basic and he doesn’t for example criticize the Capitalists or religious who ensure the world is “unworkable” for the rest of us.  Though he does criticize greed indirectly when he is slightly amazed at someone charging ten dollars for a steak – weren’t those the days? – and espouses an Environmentalist ethic when he chastises what Man has done to the planet that he currently needs to sustain his existence – and though this is surely the main concern in stewardship of the Earth, treating most life with a certain respect I think is moral divorced from utilitarian concerns.
Also there is a subtle but wise air of Existentialism and Man defining himself through his own actions throughout the film.  God says that our lives mean as much as we give purpose to them essentially, and this is exactly what Existentialism – a for the most-part “Atheist philosophy” – has as one of its core elements.  God doesn’t say that we exist to worship him, or that we’re innately sinful and need to be saved; just that we aren’t treating each other or the planet well and should re-examine our lives: something that every philosopher on the planet has said for the most part.  He hasn’t “come-back” to fulfill prophecies or anything to do with scripture; just to remind us that we have a certain degree of control over our lives and the planet and we can choose to cherish and maintain this beautiful and fascinating world we are destroying through ignorance and pursuit of profits.
God lacks the ability of clairvoyance which of course undoes Revelation and Man’s ultimate destiny while on this planet.  I found it profoundly intelligent to have God unable to tell the future, and a sign of maturity to make the God of the film a limited God, rather than the all-wise, all-powerful, longest slonged being that you hear Christians salivating about as they imagine sucking his member in the clouds.  Crass I know, but at-times simplicity has to be met with the same lack of sophistication as long as it’s honest.  Though of course since our Universe seems – asides from quantum indeterminacy – to operate according to Physical Law that if God was truly all-knowing and not only in the sense of knowing all present or past facts but the knowledge of how the system of existence operates which one would assume considering this creator, well, created it.
Though the God performs miracles, he doesn’t rely on them for anything other than convincing people (mostly John Denver) that he is more-than just a man.  In his mind what Christians and Muslims believe to be holy and evidence for their religions are nothing more than cheap-parlor tricks necessary with the public perception of God being what it is.  He even explicitly claims to dislike miracles because it upsets the natural balance; which is something a Deistic God would say if it communicated with a human being.  This God is the anti-thesis of the God morons who scream “Let Jesus take the wheel!” believe in and instead believes that we need to run the Earth on our own – assumingly using science and logic, not faith or doctrine – and Christian Conservatives praying for rain should join-up with the Aztecs or whoever the Indians were doing rain dances for.  And speaking how this isn’t a move complimentary of Conservative values, God wondering why he ever thought we needed shame of the human body is certainly one that prudish Catholics and Evangelicals would call “Progressive indoctrination of the young” or some other nonsense.  Hey, Fox News called The Lorax a “Communist” movie – as if that was a bad thing – almost as if they didn’t know that Dr. Seuss was a huge Environmentalist; which surprises me because I thought most would just start be getting to the reading level of Dr. Seuss in middle-age.
His explicit disregard of religion is the best portion of the movie ideologically.  He even despises it in-regards to Televangelists such as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson seen in the character who is a clear representation of “mega churches” who prey on the desperate and suffering even more-than modern religions do conventionally; though if you look at the history of religion – when they had more influence and power to turn people into desperate fools – you see that religion typically has preyed on the sick and desperate to survive.
I found it interesting that God mentioned to John Denver that people don’t dream in-color, because of course many people now do and growing up I was confused whenever I heard any reference to dreaming in black-and-white.  Though I haven’t opened any books or read anything in my dreams – that I can recall, besides some very basic sentences – so I don’t know what to say of that other indication that one is dreaming.  Overall I am skeptical of Rene Descartes and other philosophers such as Hume who just assumes we can tell the difference between dreaming and sleeping.  Some people easily can, just as some people who remember much of many of their dreams while most forget most of all of them.  This of course has to do with certain portions of the brain; it’s claimed that those who can remember their dreams are also those who are highly imaginative.  Dreams are a spectrum derived from differing brain function that we shouldn’t try to universalize.  Nor should we use it in philosophy to justify a distinction between fabrications and reality.  For at-times the brain is completely unable to distinguish between hallucination and reality and this is why science requires both our senses and our cognitive faculties – and for numerous other reasons as-well – to comprehend what something really is and how it functions as it does.
The only major flaw apart from not being more elaborative of ethics in the movie is his supposed lack of evidence actually being further evidence of his existence.  What I’m alluding to specifically is his voice not appearing on the voice recorder or even his words appearing on a piece of paper.  If he really wanted us to leave room for doubt he would have his physical reactions to things to be precisely as if he was a mortal man which he very-well could be while in the form of one.  Though in this sense discrediting any room for “faith” is exactly the stance that a Deist or Pantheist would take.  I’d like to once again commend the quality of this film, because I’ll now be moving on to the second film which is its polar opposite.  I warn you that this portion will be far-more segmented, because I jotted down notes while watching it and feel like most points don’t require much set-up once the original point has been made.
The second movie is essentially a cult-movie and not in the sense that Fight Club or Star Trek is.  God even makes his brainwashing explicit when he says, “once you have the children, you got ‘em all.”  Nice to know that religion is explicit in having the same frame-of-mind as cigarette companies.  In the first movie he had a message of love and purpose to send; this one is just proselytization and keeping the sheep in line.
Allowing Tracy to fall behind in schoolwork because according to Christians and other religious nuts having faith is more important than knowledge or creativity is decent representation of what real “Christian values” are.  John Denver had to sacrifice of course, but all things worth doing require some sacrifice and he was spreading a message of kindness and creating an ideal society – i.e. Socialism.  When this little shit has become nothing more than God’s ad man; well, ad girl.
There’s a scene where the sole sane child at-this school speaks out against being indoctrinated into a cult and god forces him to say what a grand idea smearing simplistic ambiguous messages is.  Putting words or in a child’s mouth or even worse alien thoughts in their head?  What happened to “free will” you tyrannical ass?  It gets worse with God apparently being a supporter of Theocracy for Kindergartners, when we see the children crossing out all the other messages.  Analogous of Christians being against freedom of speech and censoring all thought that does not conform to their ant-intellectualism, dogma and faith.  Expressing the true evil of religion and belief in a personal God.
The film is also an advertisement for the Anti-intellectual and insidious nature of advertizing and Capitalism.  Showing how insidious it is with “Enjoy Coca-Cola” and other insipid messages polluting the eyes with Capitalist diarrhea.  And that though it may seem up-beat and harmless, advertisement and coercive authoritarian regimes go hand-in-hand.
Astonishing how this movie seems to promote graffiti as long as it’s for a message that Christians support.  Christians wouldn’t like it if Muslims, Jews or Atheists spread stupid little pamphlets; yet the stupidest and most fundamentalist are always shoving their bullshit down your throat.  Think God?  Christians cannot comprehend how creepy and unwell they sound (and many are) when they talk to me about their imaginary friend.
I know most Christians don’t give a damn about the Separation of Church and State or rather many of them despise Secular Liberalism but what happened to private property Capitalists?  These little religious lunatics are smearing their little screed in people’s businesses and on Government property as well.  How about I graffiti the words “Fuck God” everywhere?  Or read “Marx, Nietzsche, Mill you Christian losers?”  Or even just “Think.”  Forget the God part; just think for once in your life.  Thankfully we’re getting to the point where people aren’t thinking about God in their day-to-day lives.
God tells the kid that she’s in good company and lists some names.  Socrates, MLK, Gandhi and Lincoln weren’t known for being lunatics; they were known for being controversial and were controversial because they were a match that began a fire of change and thought in some fashion or another.  This little tart however and her “think God” bullshit provides no intellectual content and is just insane and intellectual inept.  Also having Think God in the mouths of Lincoln shows how the GOP believes that the founding American Presidents were all “men of God” when in fact the majority of them were vehemently anti-religious Deists.  Hell, if being a controversial figure is the entire criterion for being in this “special club” than you’re right up there with Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot aren’t ya kid?  Adolf Hitler was known for spewing Christian rhetoric as-well; why don’t you idolize him and leave us free-thinkers alone?
Quick note:  “I make a beautiful fruit”?  Err, wrong.  People created the bananas we now have.  You think God would know more about botany than Ray Johnson – that is the cat’s name right?  Either that or Ray Comfort.  Putting Johnson and Comfort together makes a pun, but I’ll let you make it.  Hahaha – good one.
Mathematics being a mistake? Well that one I can agree with.  But in all seriousness that sounds like a Christian response.  Oh no, don’t learn about math or science, just say Think God or pray to solve your problems.  And then God does her homework for her.  Oh thanks asshole, have her do your job for you being your ignorant little proselytizing half-wit while you do her work for her so she doesn’t learn and you can continue using her as one of your serfs.  Faith in action.
The kid begins to be more vocal about her imaginary friend and people rightly think she’s nuts – oh fuck, another food being slandered by Man and his evil slang; us and our damn rock music.  Which reminded me of when a crazy person does something a Christian disagrees with in the name of their “special friend” it’s always that they’re sniffing paint fumes and telling everyone they live in a yellow submarine; but the people they like, the people in the Bible, oh, of course they really talk to Sky Gods and angels – unless it’s a different faith like Hinduism then it’s malarkey.
And then of course the evil man who wants to take down all the Think God posters and graffiti comes into the plot – as my champion.  Sorry Christians, but you don’t get to smear your drivel in a public school.  What if Buddhists stepped outside of their character and began proselytizing?  Smearing walls with paint that read “accept Buddha as Savior?”  Or hell, what about Satanists?  They’re a religion, many of them are just tongue in cheek atheists who are more devoted to satire than myself; but they still have the rights, or rather the appropriate lack of rights to proselytize in the public sphere, as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus etc.
The parents seem to be taking this rather lightly however, saying that the children are only writing nice things.  Proselytizing to me isn’t “nice.”  It’s creepy and vaguely threatening.  And the girl then responds to the superintendent telling her to take down the posters by saying “I’ll have to ask him.”  Sorry missy.  This is a public school.  The word of God doesn’t mean thing-one here.  It’s less than worthless.  It’s abhorrent.  Here we respect knowledge and intellect; not worship Jewish father-figures.
One of the children outraged at her suspension exclaims, “What if they throw us all out!”  Yes, but you see there’s a fundamental difference here.  In reality she’d be crazy, while all of you are merely stupid.  One of the main purposes of education – regardless of what Conservatives think in education namely its function being only preparing children for the workplace.  I.e. destroying their souls – is to take stupid people and try to make them not-so stupid; and in the process not so gullible, superstitious and ignorant.
Oh my God, did this film just try to compare what this little buffoon is doing to Socrates?  Something you should know you little fuck-head:  Socrates was put to death by the Athenians for having the youth of Athens be skeptical of the Gods, not reinforcing belief in religion.  Socrates was encouraging intelligence and independent thought; while you on the other hand are just another religious rat proselytizing others to your closed-minded cult.  Say you’re working for an imaginary man in the sky all you want, but when you compare yourself to Socrates, Marx, Camus or other men of greatness you can simply fuck off and die.
The plot of her being condemned as crazy continues.  Now I myself am not exactly sure whether Tracy, or rather any child who claims to hear voices, should be immediately put in an institution.  But what I do know is that many Christians will detach themselves from reality – not a hard feat for people who believe in talking snakes – and say, “oh, they’re just locking her up because no one believes in God anymore, and she was just working for Jee-zahs!”  Someone hearing voices is a significant problem.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, all the Marx Brothers, Abe Lincoln (the real Abe Lincoln, not the Christian caricature) or Fidel Castro.  Voices are voices.  And Conservatives blaming school shootings not on guns (because guns are never the problem) but on crazy people would be at the height of hypocrisy not wanting to lock up this child when she hears voices and sees things.  Sorry folks, but if this were an actual event in history and you believed that this girl actually spoke to your God, you’d need serious help too.
Thankfully this movie has a few brain cells to rub together and reverts back to Deism rather than Christianity or Judaism in its explanation of pain and suffering.  It’s not the Fall of Man (blaming problems of creation on humans; being one of the most lowly and disgusting things I can conceive of) or “free will” bull shit; it’s merely the reality of life, or rather biology.  Or as the film describes it:  It’s built into the system.  You can’t live without it and when we do do-without-it it’s because of Man understanding our natural order which religions have always been against – God in one sense has absolutely nothing to do with it and in another sense is a gigantic hindrance on human progress intellectually, utilitarian-wise and materially.  Also there is wisdom in accepting great sadness as necessary for great happiness (but shouldn’t be seen as a defense of the horrors of religion or life in general) and of course this is one of the fundamental aspects of Nietzscheanism.  Philosophy of the man who said God is dead.
When God picks Tracy up from the train (or maybe bus?) station he is driving in a motorcycle but is invisible to the coppers.  Why would God not allow himself to be seen?  In the first film it was only that he couldn’t be recorded – which made some sense I suppose.  Overall of course it’s just to create some meaningless suspense or perhaps a cheap laugh of the policemen’s reactions.
At the final hearing of Tracy’s case I quite like that God came into the room not saying, “I’m God so let this girl go,” more-or-less rehashing the courtroom scene in the original but pretends to be a psychologist.  However, his falling back on radical skepticism shows one of the major faults in Christian belief today.  The Christian says to the Atheist:  You can’t really know whether disturbance in the natural order take place.  But all examples have been proven to be invalid; or rather there isn’t enough evidence to display such phenomena as occurring.  Also I think it’s telling that Christians in such cases will fall-back on a type of Skepticism, or pseudo-skepticism, when they claim to “know” relatively speaking that their God exists.  They tell Atheists to not be so sure of themselves, when you never hear the moderate or Liberal Christians tell Right-wing morons to be more skeptical and accept a certain degree of doubt.  Sorry God, but unless you gave this little girl some evidence to use as-to whether or not you spoke to her, we do have a valid explanation for why she would say so:  She’s fucking nuts.  Either that or she’s lying for attention or some other motive.  David Hume would understand this incredibly well.  What’s more-likely.  The natural order be suspended?  Or some stupid fanatic lie to validate their own religious claims that they need-to prop up their own frail psyche’?
And why is it that there are still people in insane asylums who never get out?  Well… we can’t cure them.  Understanding something as an illness, how the illness functions, how the illness is conceived or spreads and curing the illness are four radically different things – though the second and third are closely connected in many cases.  I would suspect God to know this but evidently not.  Also science provides no absolute certainties; it doesn’t claim to be an absolute like the religious fanatics claim to have with their holy scribbles.  Scientists look at the evidence, make deductions and intellectual abstractions to the best of their ability and are inevitability “corrected,” or rather a better more functional and accurate model is presented by someone else either because he has more information or a better take on the same data.  I find it hilarious that he’s chastising the scientists for being so sure of themselves, when God essentially brainwashed a town of children to be certain of him.  Once again with the double-standard.  Also he could have made an intelligent point along Kantian lines between what is real and what our mind constructs.  But to play parlor tricks with making a chandelier disappear is just the kind of “faith-confirming” act of bullshit you find in mind-rotting Christian films.  I almost expected the little twit to shout “Checkmate Atheists!”  Also the ending with George Burns seemingly walking in place and being cheaply transparent until he disappears indicates this is a movie focusing on cheap gimmicks and Christian enforcement rather than creating an intelligent, well-meaning movie which the first one was in almost all-regards.  Next film.
The third film lacks the greatness and wisdom of the first film but also the disturbing worshipful nature of the second.  It’s a fairly solid film that doesn’t have as nearly as-much ideology or message tethered to its plot.  For the most-part it’s your basic sold-my-soul-to-the-devil plot.  However the film could be seen as promoting Cynical and Existentialist values.
Once Bobby sells his soul (shouldn’t it be called “trading your soul” since they rarely just get wads of cash?) he essentially becomes an entirely different person, or rather is living another person’s life while someone else is living his.  This clearly is critiquing the Hedonist notion of happiness and fulfillment as well-as living anyone else’s life as a means for happiness.  Rather than following his own ideals and inner-self he sells his “soul” theoretically what made him who he was to be successful only by society’s standards – he himself has achieved nothing.
This film however it seems almost reasonable to see one’s soul to the Devil, if one didn’t care about personal achievement and instead only about fame and pleasure.  No mention of Hell is present to my recollection, and we’re never made clear what happens after the seven years of fortune and pussy is up.  For Billy Holiday – if he is the original Billy Holiday – it’s simply that he believes that he is another person; effectively destroying “himself” psychologically or consciously and inserting in him the memories, personality and tastes of Bobby.  This is a rather ingenious way to have the main character struggle through his decision of adopting someone else’s life but have his wife and all other loved one’s be ignorant of his absence by having someone else completely assume his life save physical appearance which the Devil easily could make a mute factor by altering everyone’s memories and in no way impending upon their free will.  I like this idea of the Devil; one that doesn’t simply want us to suffer physically forever, but wants us to suffer by sacrificing what makes us who we are by offering us what we think we want or told by society we should value.  You don’t often get messages of Cynicism in movies, at-least not this blatantly, and this is the main noteworthy aspect of the film.
The film however posits a biological or genetic perception of identity when he realizes that his wife is pregnant with his child.  His in the sense that she became pregnant when she had sex with him and is carrying his genetic make-up; although he is masquerading as someone else he still retains his identity and genetic makeup, while Billy only retains the later half.  But, we still identify him as Billy, not Bobby, which would have us believe that we recognize who a person is is their material makeup, not who they believe they are.  Yet there are stories of people having their brains in jars and then replacing their identities into differing respective bodies yet we identify the individual by who they “were” or rather by their consciousness.  It seems like the structure of the plot signifies how we view the individual and the essence of who he is.  In this story Billy is totally insignificant except as a replacement for Bobby.  When if he remembered who he was but was playing along with his new life we would be far-more inclined to define who a person is by their personality and memories as a functional way of distinguishing the two.  Since it is impossible to remove someone’s brain and place it in another person’s skull, I find the biological and scientific perception of identity to be functional and also not in contradiction with Existentialism; since a significant and defining aspect of who a person is and what their sense of purpose in life is is derived from their genetic make-up and basic human nature.
Very-little of the film however is worth mentioning specifically until the end.  When Bobby tries to kill himself – when he realizes that God is trying to help him which you think would prevent him from doing such a rash action – God and the Devil are playing poker for his soul.  God wins on a bluff – another move I like considering he used his wit rather than merely having the best hand because he’s God or to suit the plot – and Bobby “becomes” who he was again while Billy Holiday does as well – effectively being murdered by Bobby’s attempt at suicide.  Does he deserve to be killed for Bobby’s actions?  And why does God care so much – we of course are told but the answer isn’t sufficient – about Bobby when Billy could have been just as moral a person who made a mistake? This shows the unfair nature of religion, and God’s standards being more rigorous for different people.  So will Billy go to Hell or simply become the person he was before?  I realize the second is highly unlikely, but when did there could very-well be a long chain – or multiple chains – of people who “are” different people because of the Devil’s handiwork whether they are aware of their true selves or not.
As a quick note, I like that God says that the story of Noah’s Ark is bullshit in the third film, something that not even the first film was willing to claim, and hinted was a legitimate event on the joke of John Denver’s car being just like the Ark only without the stench of the animals.
The film does also raise an interesting question about whether an individual would have ownership over one’s soul if such a thing existed.  We of course own ourselves in a free society – which this largely is not – however we would be unable to sell ourselves into slavery.  Slavery is a contradiction of freedom and exist only in harsh, unjust societies where people are largely abused and destitute and are abused by one class or group; such would be perhaps even more true in a society where people would be so desperate they’d willingly sell themselves into slavery – firstly, if you sold yourself what would you spend the money on?  All your basic needs are provided for you, and if they weren’t then you would be receiving a wage and therefore could only be identified as a wage slave which is a basic aspect of Capitalist Society and therefore one does not “sell one’s self” into it, rather one lives it day-to-day and the arrangement is never stated formally or directly as selling one’s self into slavery – for something that very-likely should and would be granted by the prosperity and opportunity present in a free and progressive society. 

So just as the very definition of being free is the inability to be a slave even if one chooses, at-least economically - existentially might be a different matter though ultimately I would argue that only one who suffers psychologically or has been contoured to suffer by one’s society would “sell one’s self” existentially to follow the logic of the economic or political case – so the reasoning continues that if we had souls God should not allow us to sell them considering it would promote the conditions that allow the suffering that both sustain the desire to and the punishment of selling one’s soul.  Instead of sacrificing for penance a free society creates standards of value and opportunities where all can prosper freely, which is of course the only way any organism can prosper.  Slavery is by its very-nature the highest form of poverty whether materially or of the soul and whether one realizes one is a slave or not.  The Matrix as analogous of Capitalism is a perfect representation of how we could very-well be slaves and ignorant of the fact.  In-fact people largely create the chains of their own existence seen in the creation and surrender to religion or any force that allows one the illusion of prosperity without individuality or achievement – seen in the second film as analogous to ignorance and proselytization; and in the third as analogous to Hedonism and petty narcissism.  Only in the first film does the main character originally retain morality by being his own person and acting virtuously; and in doing so preaches the ideal society of virtue, tranquility and wisdom: and God is not required for this in the least.