Monday, July 21, 2014

I realize the ending needs work but I couldn't find the right words at the time.
The Difference and Similarities between Laughter and Weeping

A few hours ago I thought of the paradigm of Democritus as the Laughing Philosopher and Heraclitus as the philosopher weeping and wondered if there were any traits of their philosophies that would give further credence to their opposites or make what is simply a characterization of their personalities into an interesting analogy for their views.  It seems that much of the time Democritus and Heraclitus are saying the same thing but focusing on different aspects of it, and in some cases is saying the opposite of the other.
Heraclitus of course is known for being a (if not the) major proponent for constant change in the Universe; Democritus on the other hand seems to be a thinker who being a Determinist is a precursor to the view that the Universe has constancy through the Laws of Physics.  There is change in particular bodies but the underlying nature of reality (or at-least our Universe) remains the same.  Some could argue that the very formulaic and fundamental aspects of reality have changed in some ways throughout the life-span of the Universe with the birth of new elements and kinds of phenomena in the Universe.  This may be so, but the potential for our Universe in the state that it is in and every single element of its being was an implicit possibility of existence within the fabric of that massively expanding space before the Universe had much mass but was incredibly dense (I’m sure I’ve said something that a Physicist or Physics Major could correct me on but I’m relatively sure the basics of what I say conform to contemporary theory of the earliest stages of our Universe).  Even if it was not inevitable (if we are to assume the Universe isn’t entirely deterministic though it seems largely so) the existence of us and everything else was a possibility only through the underlying physics and laws of our Universe which to a certain degree of indeterminacy acted randomly to create a realm of quarks, quasars, stars, planets and life out of the laws of causation that no matter how “random” (emphasizing the possibility over indeterminacy rather than Determinism) was always intrinsic in the structure of existence and in that sense was not a change in the radical sense.  Much like a growing child, one could view it either undergoing a process of constant change or changing constantly under the ever-present law of cellular reproduction though it will wane in his adulthood and decrease even further in efficacy in old age before being permanently stopped in death.  The Perspectivists would understand quite-well that either interpretation of the cosmos is valid.
The mentioning of Perspectivism of course reminds one of Nietzsche, who in many ways is Heraclitean.  Democritus is however a precursor to Karl Marx.  Both in their personalities and philosophies they seem to have much in common, and you see that in their views of ethics as-well.  Heraclitus at-times seems to surrender to a type of Nihilism by professing that all is good and just (which in-a-sense is different to say that it is neutral but to say that any action at either end of a created spectrum is good is tantamount to Nihilism through the justification of all acts and occurrences) in the eyes of the unseeing Universe.  Some may argue that Heraclitus was a Theist or Pantheist of some sort because he mentions Zeus and God (not Judeo-Christian) in his writings, but there are fragments of his writing such as “This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was and will be: an ever-living fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out” and "The fairest universe is but a heap of rubbish piled up at random.”  Not only do we see a trace of the Theory of Conversation in this quote (which comes up again in other fragments if I remember correctly) but this is also a precursor to Atheist/Existentialist thought that it seems for the most part all four philosophers concur on.  The distinguishing features however is how they reproach said meaninglessness.
It is not that Heraclitus is a precursor to Cynicism and believes that ethics exist but are wound in the fabric of nature, and Democritus is one who believes ethics arises out of human construction and appropriate social convention; rather Heraclitus believes (seemingly) that all is permissible and Democritus believes that though the Universe is apathetic to human concerns that a morality that can be called “objective” exists.  Here we see a conflict with the Death of God long before Nietzsche appears on the scene.  Democritus gives his distinction in saying, “Poverty in a democracy is better than prosperity under tyrants, for the same reason one is to prefer liberty over slavery,” it would not be more than two thousand years until Marx would give the material explanation that prosperity cannot exist for all under a tyranny and levels of Democracy only exist according to degrees of material wealth conforming to resources, modes of production and that social structure is defined largely by those modes of production.
Heraclitus and Nietzsche seem far more personable in their focuses than Democritus and Marx.  Though all of them focus on existence as a whole to some extent, Heraclitus laments that most people have “wet souls” and argues that a life of Hedonistic pleasure makes the soul moist and unable to be kindled by the fire of the Logos.  Nietzsche of course is well-known for being against the “religion of comfort” and its weakening and viceful effects on the human psyche.  Democritus and even Marx indirectly say the same thing but their main focus (I don’t know how much of Democritus’ writings were spent on Physics and what percentage on Ethics but this is the feeling I get from a description of his philosophy) seems to be on the physical order of the cosmos (or material nature of social orders in-regards to Marx) rather than giving advice or being a social analyst in the cultural sense for their times (or people living in any time who will read them) which Heraclitus and Nietzsche seem more akin to the description of.
It would seem to be a contradiction at-face that Heraclitus and Nietzsche would be the more personable writers seeming that both (though Nietzsche contradicts himself on this issue) view humans largely defined by their innate character and not their surroundings or upbringing.  The Existentialist Materialist however recognizes that this however does not remove the illusion of choice, the possibility of change within a creature’s neurology and psychology and therefore recognizes the folly of Fatalism.  Just because a large portion of a creature’s essence (or even all of it theoretically) is innate within its makeup and beginning essence does not mean that the essence will not have a tendency to alter itself as a larva is not condemned to be eternally prepubescent but instead is destined to transform into its mature adult self.  We with a degree of Behaviorism will acknowledge of course that one’s environment will encourage, stifle or otherwise mold said inevitable alteration to one’s character.  Though a choice is predetermined by Physics, this does not change the fact that it was the individual who chose.  Not only this, but people with a certain degree of intelligence and a certain psychology can choose in the sense of rebelling against convention and the status-quo to fashion for their lives a decent and purposeful existence of dignity and clarity. 
Heraclitus is an arguer for constant change despite “character being fate” as he’s known for saying because although character is – as I’ve already said – pre-determined it is not fixed or stagnant.  Not only this, but because future development is unknown to us, to Behaviorists there is the illusion that we may step out of time in-a-sense and radically alter one’s course when of course one’s decision to act and alter another’s or our own course was written into the fabric of time (as a considerable possibility if not an inevitability) from its inception.  Heraclitus and Nietzsche are personable and believe in strife largely for their implicit conviction that only through choice (the implicit showing a things true nature while force by its essence is an outside force coercing alien and unnatural motion on a object) can greatness be attained; while in the eyes of Democritus and Marx greatness was innately derived either from the interworking of a thing or from the pre-determined involvement and alteration of nature (or what is very-likely the synthesis of the two with an emphasis on the things starting nature) to attain greatness and therefore was inevitable.  Both are correct but it is Heraclitus’ and Nietzsche’s attitude to act as if one is radically free that is of greater social benefit.
Another reason why Heraclitus and Nietzsche are more personable is because they regard their thoughts as deeply personal.  Even though for Heraclitus it was not truly he who was speaking, but the Logos speaking through him, he regards his thought as something that is deeply important in a personal way for every person, and one reason why he may lament over and despise the soggy souls is not out of selfish motivation but because these people are incredibly ignorant and by the nature of being deprived of it utterly have no idea what they are lacking in philosophical insight and virtue.  Marx and Democritus are far-more scientific than philosophical in this Existential or emotional sense, not that both are without passion in their writings (though I would only be assuming in the case of Democritus).  Though it is largely psychological and therefore materially based, this distinction between the two pairs could be seen as analogous to their differing philosophical outlooks.
For Marx and Democritus everything is largely determined and we are merely actors on the stage of life.  Our lines are written for us and we recite them believing they are utterly our own; this interpretation of materialism, Marx and Democritus (for I realize that this is all it is and not even my own) would have us with a crisis of identity.  After all, if my very being is merely electrical impulses and chemicals passing through a particular genetic make-up, then who I am can be copied and in a theoretical sense there is nothing “sovereign” or radically unique about me if one is of the view that this material nature defeats the notion of the sovereign or of individuality.  Which I am not convinced of because Man seems more independent and individual with his material existence and inevitability of death than in any notion of a soul which is either enslaved to scripture (and exists not for its own sake but for some divine teleology dictated by theology) or recycles through reincarnation and then has no retaining existence of a “self” but rather is a recyclable material like matter and energy.  But it is true that a Determinist outlook of pure reporting of fact has one grow a detached view of existence. 
However with Heraclitus there is the notion that people choose not to listen to the Logos which is what infuriates him; and with Nietzsche there is the Existentialist idea of applying a self-defined purpose to an otherwise purposeless life.  This of course is entirely philosophical, unscientific and concords with Materialism and Determinism only in the sense that an individual is likely predetermined to define his life a certain way (derivative to causality) and based on his own material nature.  This however – to reiterate the point of the significance of the illusion of choice in relation to selfhood – does not change the fact that it is his choice, regardless of him being enslaved by it (in the sense of him being who he is and unable to be two contradictory things at the same time regardless of his wishes or the what he wishes he wishes) as well as liberated by it.
If one is to take away anything from this essay and that one thing alone, I would suggest for their own sake it would be the essential understanding of the significance of the illusion of choice, while understanding at-least in-terms of physical causation it is only an illusion.  But then one may ask what this has to do with Heraclitus sobbing and Democritus guffawing.  With both saying very-similar things on fundamental questions and being essentially two sides of the same coin (as Marx and Nietzsche are on some issues; though I do not mean to cover or ignore their immense differences in focus and opinion) it could be said that extremes of both look incredibly alike – much like Freud’s Unity of Opposites.  However there is a radical distinction that is worth making.  With Heraclitus and Nietzsche the death of humanity is in the long run of total universal insignificance.  One may ask why then is Heraclitus crying, and the answer is although it is both inevitable and insignificant it doesn’t fail to move him deeply.  With Democritus however there is the focus on the inevitability (or close to inevitability) but the notion of moral responsibility still remains.  If one knows one is determined to fail that does not excuse one from trying; and as Anarchists would argue, the very notion that one is excused from the prevention or attempted interference with the inevitable evils of the world is what makes these evils possible and what will be the ultimate damning feature of mankind – the rationalization of apathy.
We must act as if rebellion is effective and our efforts in life will be fruitful even though evidence shows they very-likely will not be.  This however is not tantamount to an act of faith.  Quite the contrary.  Faith is believing in something despite evidence for it or despite evidence discrediting it.  Existential and “non-fatalist” rebellion of the Anarchist is a rebellion that proposes that fate has already been largely decided and man almost irreparably damned; but the individual can choose to act in repost to the status-quo and save himself from moral damnation through choice.  Democritus is laughing both because this type of salvation is still possible (and is significant) and also through understanding this he simply chooses to – though the joke is largely on him and on all of us. 
For comedy (great comedy) itself is a crying man managing to laugh through making the absurdities and general absurdity of life comedic by acknowledging it, accepting it and making clever satire or analogy of it while not giving in or conforming to its absurdity and immorality.  And to make myself seem erudite, when coupled with the Nietzschean sentiment “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” as a realization of this in-a-sense, we see great value in Titus saying to his brother when asked why he laughs: “I laugh because I haven’t another tear to shed.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

There's titles to these things?

Damn a post three days in a row, it's almost as if this blog is concurrent to my life and not a lazy attempt to back up my files on a ethereal source.

Oh wait.
Something from my English class.  I was fairly proud of it; which is why you're seeing it.  Well, that and the fact you have eyes.

I really know how to supply the comedy portion of this blog don't I?

Thesis for the Illegitimacy of the State

The issue of whether or not a State (Government) has legitimacy as well as any form of hierarchy or force over an individual or group of people.  Though it is varied in its methodology and on various points, Anarchism views all forms of force as illegitimate and therefore unjustifiable; therefore all relations that have legitimacy must require consenting participants.
Thesis:  Anarchism has legitimacy (that is to say that the State is illegitimate) because all forms of involuntary association treat the individual as either a tool or participant of the State in some form or fashion rather than as an individual who is Sovereign.
Arguments against alternatives:  Monarchy, Aristocracy and Theocracy all make an argument from either a superior bloodline, class of people, or divine instruction to formulate and regiment society.  However these associations have proven to be hazardous to human welfare and tranquility, producing substandard living conditions, education, crime and wars derivative of nationality or religion that increase the amount of controls a State have on a society (silencing or jailing anyone who dissents against the King, military, or ruling group) to produce a more subservient mass of people to be murdered in warfare that most of which were manipulated from birth to consent to, never did consent to, and will not profit from.  There is no evidence that leadership based on genetic lineage, class, or any divine instruction produces prosperity, freedom, harmony or any other conventionally valued trait pursued in social discourse.
Argument against the argument:  Tradition and culture are typically an argument for older styles of Government.  The simple fact that things have been done a certain way for centuries is not an argument for their value or legitimacy.  The argument cannot be valid because different civilizations have had different models that are just as old as what the person arguing for their nation’s heritage and culture has been practicing.  Also human beings have lived in hunter-gatherer societies with informal forms of authority for millennia.  So, if there is to be any argument for tradition or longevity of practice, hunter-gatherer societies involving tribalism and ancient superstitions that only a fraction of the planet’s population still adhere to would be the only valid claim to this argument.  Also assuming prosperity (using loose and almost universally accepted standards of prosperity such as health, happiness, individual freedom, opportunity to fulfill one’s ambitions, opportunity to live a just, decent, and purposeful existence) is what is to be desired or striven for in the theory and practice of social structures, human history shows that these forms of Government in almost every way in hundreds of examples throughout centuries produces ill-favored effects and are not only corrupt in their dealings of the citizen, but corruptive in producing mentally unwell people who cannot think critically, are physically unwell and are morally questionable at best.
Further counter-arguments:  Some also make arguments for a particular Government or social mores derivative of Divine Command Theory.  They hold that a God has instructed the human community to deal with each other by a certain code of conduct or has forbid certain actions; because they view their God has the creator of humanity and the arbiter of right-and-wrong, force is justifiable to see that their God’s will is conformed to.  This is invalid because believing in any God and any interpretation of said God’s (or Gods’) mandates on humanity is a personal choice and should remain so both for the freedom of those who believe in no God, a different God, or a different perception of the same God (as is seen in the numerous forms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam covering merely the Abrahamic Faiths) and for the significance of conforming to said God’s dictates to the faithful.  If say the Sunni interpretation of Islam is the true and legitimate faith, to mandate obedience to the Koran’s mandates would be to make faithful and willing adherents to the faith’s observance meaningless.  If any God exists it is a being that is either apathetic to human actions or created humans capable of disobeying his preferences.  Since the Faithful wish to adhere to their God’s wisdom, they should first do so by allowing all supposed blasphemers to sin in peace.  Whether or not a God will punish them for living their lives as they choose is totally without significance for Earthly affairs.
Arguments against more alternatives:  Representative Democracy is the more acceptable and to state the obvious contemporary form of Government in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Representative Democracy holds its legitimacy by allowing a nation’s populous to vote in senators and congressmen that in theory will legislate the dealings of the commonwealth for them with their views in mind.  This however seems illegitimate for various reasons; the first being that statistics show that the majority of individuals in America are dissatisfied with congress for a litany of reasons.  Unless the populous are incredibly ill-informed or are schizophrenic in their views (that is voting for a congressman but damning him for doing what the voting populous supported) it seems that the Legislative Branch of Government is ineffective or unwilling to legislate based on the citizenry’s desires.  Also to have a society where the average individual need not make the important decisions necessary in our communities but instead passes on his or her moral responsibilities to others creates a almost wholly ignorant and apathetic populous who do not concern or involve themselves with the pursuit of proper dealings in society because they legislated their authority over to a Government to do their deeds, say their words and think their thoughts for them.  Human beings operate under necessity in most cases of tasks that aren’t of immediate pleasure.  If concern and understanding of the functioning of society is not required of the citizenry, they will stagnate and putrefy in their capacity for concern and reasoning for it is no longer required of them. Taxes also do this by taking finance from the average citizen by force and using a portion of it for acts that are considered a form of benevolence or charity.  People are less likely to involve themselves if they believe that the Church or State is doing their good deeds for them.
Counter-argument:  Those who argue for Representative Democracy argue that people by nature are incapable of organizing voluntarily for the good of all – or for the fair dealings of all at the least.  They make the claim that people are short-sighted and selfish by nature and require senators that will represent their essential viewpoints but are far-more educated and knowledgeable any given situation or issue that most be acted on.  This however is largely untrue based on the malleable nature of human beings.  Human beings are largely products of their environment, and if they aren’t expected to be the leaders of their own communities or even their own lives in some instances than their minds will atrophy through years of conditioning, being instructed instead implicitly and in some extreme instances explicitly to follow the dictates of law, religion, or corporate policy rather than what the reasoning of their own minds persuade them towards.  The individual nor humanity is an abstract entity but a biological thing that is subject to the laws of physics and its own material nature.  Any sweeping generalization of humanity’s character, intelligence, capacity for any desirable or regrettable trait or anything else is largely unfounded suspect to personal prejudice.  The Twentieth Century and the ongoing Twenty-first  both in its capacity for scientific and technological achievement and its capacity for incomprehensible horror and evil is evidence that human potential and any underlying human essence is still largely unknown.  Basic claims based on sound reasoning is possible but the claim that people are incapable of organizing and operating their own communities is both unfounded and there is evidence to the contrary seen in Spain in the 1940’s, America in a intermittent period between British and American rule among others.
Further arguments against alternatives:  Though Anarchism is generally thought to be arguing against the State, it also argues against (or at the very-least is intrinsically questionable of) the legitimacy of hierarchy in sexual, racial, inter-national and economic dealings.  The most reoccurring in Anarchist Philosophy being arguments against the rationality and morality of Capitalist economics and social dealings.  Anarchists argue that the Earth is communal property for all those who are born have an equal right to its resources which should be used for public access and benefit rather than the profit of an incredibly minute percentage of the human population.  Capitalism is a form of theft as result of the businessman profiting off the labor of the employee by not compensating him or her properly for their endeavors.  More profit is made by charging more for a commodity or service than it’s worth and pockets the difference between cost and revenue either using said capital to either expand his businesses scope and economic efficiency or personally pocket it.  The interest of his workers is seldom considered and cannot be to be competitive with his fellow businessmen who wish to drown all competition either through competition or Government favoritism to further his fulfillment of the profit motive.
Counter-argument:  Defenders of the private enterprise system argue that Capitalism is a source of great societal benefit and technological advance.  They compare countries like America to the former USSR or China and claim America’s prosperity to the free market system and the profit motive. However, they get the cart before the horse in-terms of the causation of technology and Capitalism.  Private mercantilism and small trade of cobblers, bakers, tailors, etc has existed for thousands of years, however it was the birth of the Industrial Revolution that made Capitalism a possibility (some argue a inevitability) of economic forces by requiring large sums of people to perform a specific task on a assembly line (Division of Labor) when before the majority of commodities were made by single craftsman and their apprentices.  Society had already established itself on private ownership, so would be unlikely to transfer suddenly to collective or communitarian (whether or not it would involve a State) economic model simply because the Industrial Revolution created a need for a great urban work force.  Making the argument that the cell phones are a product first-and-foremost of market forces is tantamount to identifying satellites to Communist technology considering the former Soviet Union designed satellites (among numerous other things) before America (which is regarded as the leading and most prosperous free-market country by most) had achieved said feats.  If this logic were continued, it would followed that if Albert Einstein or Sigmund Freud stayed in Nazi Germany, than the Theory of Super-relativity and Freud’s Theory of the Subconscious would be “Fascist ideas” or contributions to mankind that were directly motivated by the economic and political forces and ideals of the Third Reich.  Also Capitalism exists and is prosperous in countries like Indonesia, Taiwan and supposedly-Communist China, but prosperity for the common man, woman and child is not to be found for their lot in life is to exist solely to be cheap labor for the businesses that profit billions in their toil and ship their products to America where they are bought by consumers who speak of the magnificence and uplifting qualities of private enterprise.
Summation:  To close, Anarchism holds that all forms of force whether explicit or implicit in the form of Capitalism (no one is forced to labor that does not meet their needs or dictates, but since the alternative for many is stifling poverty and working a job under the management of a boss is socially common there is little resistance economic exploitation just as slavery has existed for centuries with little resiliency by the enslaved) is invalid and without proper rationale even if it would supposedly create beneficial results for a section of the populous.  Forcing one man to die for another man’s freedom is always immoral, and voluntary association and mutual aid is far-more conducive to desired social behaviors and expectations than forced taxation or corporate structures./

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The American Disease

A Republic forged as a defense against tyranny and religion
A sole bastion of individual rights (except for slaves) and liberty
Now setting up Banana Republics as far as the eye can see
The American disease

Coercing you to vote for people who don’t even pretend to indirectly make your decisions
But the fact that most people would vote for Representative Democracy
Shows how weak willed and naïve is humanity.
The State Capitalist disease

People watching Transformers and being transformed into drones
A cultural virus of laziness and prejudiced nationality
Why read the book when the movie adaptation is on TV?
The Anti-Intellectual disease

Ignorant yuppies going to churches built on Native American’s bones
Worshipping a God that cares more about self-abnegation than morality
Killing in the name of God today and centuries later blaming it on the sins of humanity
The Christian disease

Doing what everyone else does just because everyone else does it
Not caring what’s right or wrong or good or smart just giving into the dictates of society
To suffer and perish for being conditioned for apathy is their destiny
The human disease

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Dexter’s Ego Trip

Dexter’s Ego Trip is a brilliant two-part episode regardless of genre, but as a children’s film it is almost without superior.  The only flaw it has in its time travel is why would Dexter act as he does if the Dexter returning from the future knows what will happen in the future; essentially creating a future that cannot be altered and giving easy and quick validation to the Determinist model of time.  Also where does the third Dexter come from?  There’s the first one who we identify with as the “actual Dexter,” the Dexter who returns from his future exploits to become young adult Dexter, but then there must be a third Dexter to stay behind and become masculine, bold and bald Dexter to fight fat Mandark.  Also there’s the impossibility of him digging underground for years, but this is a justification for why Dexter’s mind did not rot like the rest of society did and is passable in the realm of cartoons as-long as these logical impossibilities are not too frequent or stupidly written.
The cartoon can be seen as analogous to the effects of the trifecta of Capitalism, State and Religion on a populous.  Dexter is a brilliant scientist who makes money for a large corporation; however, because he’s timid and allows Mandark to steal one of his ideas (which seems unlikely but it could be argued that the Totalitarian regime that came inexplicably broke Dexter and turned him into the weak, submissive coward he is as a young adult) and Mandark goes up the rungs of the corporate ladder largely because of his ruthlessness.  The fact that a Capitalist society is an environment where someone like Mandark can thrive and actual ability is superseded and enslaved to property is enough of an indightment against it especially considering what is to be expected from a children’s cartoon.
The most evil of human impulses and societies does not come solely out of Capitalism – religion and Government is necessary as well.  Particularly religion, because it weakens the mind and allows rationalization and subservience to evil to take place, breaking down humanities natural values and strengths.  Government is simply the material form of the spiritual and ideological essence that is religion; whether secular or theocratic governments indoctrinate the individual to groupthink typically with a secondary ideology such-as Capitalism or Christianity, but always with the intrinsic rightness of its own actions and existence.  We see this in Mandark using the positronic-whova-whats-it to make society even more ignorant and stupid than they already were by switching the flow from positive to negative.  Of course a Capitalist wants society to be ignorant and submissive as-well, for a intelligent and independent thinking populous wouldn’t allow the Capitalists and their profit motive to exist, but the Capitalists require a certain indoctrinated and subservient level of intelligence to create new products, works of art and entertainment and services to maintain their businesses that they extort and siphon the labor-value of like a leech draining the blood from its host.
In the world the Mandark has devised, and the one of Dexter’s creation, we see the polarization ‘tween Ideology and Nature and between State and Anarchism.  For in the world of Mandark’s envisioning and doing, we see all human beings (even Mandark in his own way of mental illness and gluttony) become degraded and weak in intellect and character so that Mandark can rule them, and although they are worthless to him they exist entirely for his sake.  In the world of Dexter’s doing, we see each man and woman existing for their own sake and functioning with a type of universal wisdom (the wisdom that all can attain if they only have the mental faculties and honesty to attain it) that creates independence and desire to achieve for achievement’s sake, not for petty cash-profit or to cure horrendous ills for all major ills have been annexed from humanity – knowledge and virtue is pursued for its own sake.  Now before I go further let me state I realize I’m taking a tad-much out of Ego Trip than is actually there but not as much as some might expect or believe; I’m adding very-little to the brief conception of both worlds that is.
One of the most wonderful aspects of Dexter’s Laboratory (asides from because of its existence and the pronunciation of the latter half of the show’s title by the titular character I’ll never need double-checking with the spelling of Lah-bore-ah-tory) is its focus on the fascination and the subtle encouragement of the intellectual mind on scientific endeavors and its ability above all other traits to solve personal and worldly problems.  It gives growing and still (perhaps) active minds a light through depicting the pleasures that are created through the intellectual mind that are achieved only through those who possess it.  Yes, Dexter fights aliens, goes on underwater odysseys and has a super-heroic ape, but more-than all of these things he takes a great deal of pride and enjoyment in finishing his (at-last!) greatest invention.
This totally contradicts the idea of the gleeful idiot which is presented at society at-large, while the intellectual is depicted as forlorn by the self-awareness of his futility both in the continuing existence of his life and all of his endeavors in-terms of eternal existence and admiration.  Dexter lacks this totally and is cheerful and at-times childish despite his maturity (in some ways) beyond his years – in other words, Dexter is a realistic depiction of a intelligent person, ignoring the cartoonish aspects of creating wormholes to other dimensions but struggling with what two and two add up to. 
The story however shows how suffering and ignorance are always portrayed lightly or comically in contemporary society.  We see this in the chuckling yokels and morons who despite sleeping in glass and living in mud-huts are drunkenly content with their lot in life.  Dexter however is the intellectual fighting to save Mandark and is the only one aware that he has made the people the ignoramuses that they are, once again analogous to forms of authority particularly religion.  So is the dunce better-off in some ways than the intellectual?  To cut-off any suspense and answer in a word: no.  For what the average member of society cannot understand is that they are always searching for external stimuli, while the intellectual is content with the machinations of his own mind.  The fool may be content watching Transformers 4 just as a drunkard is content with his bottle, but these sources of stimuli are hazardous to the mind and create at-best a dulled sense of contentment which while being better than pain (the state of mind that usually has weak people search for these forms of contentment and distraction) is both nothing compared to the feeling of euphoria and serenity one feels when one thinks of any of the topics of grandeur we human beings are capable of comprehending the greatest of all being that fact that we can comprehend them and that our survival and wellbeing is attached to them which give us such a rush from contemplating and articulating.
Mandark represents the intellectual who is part of the system, and is psychologically petty and focused on the things that the Capitalist structure wants him to be focused on rather than knowledge and virtue for its own sake.  Hungry for power, his nature is to contain and control humanity and creative thought rather than allow human impulse and free expression to grow in scope and potential free-range and without exterior factors attempting to mutilate humanity for its own self-interest. 
It’s rather fitting that the short film is called Ego Trip, because both Dexter and Mandark represent a certain depiction and form of the Ego.  Mandark’s is to control others and achieve an illusion of significance and value through worship and being tall in intellectual stature through making others mental midgets.  Dexter however is the “true Egoist” or the Egoist as the Ego naturally acts when healthy.  For Dexter wishes to receive significant not in the eyes of men (though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but significant in-terms of their own value and desire to broaden their skills and character for the well-being of the individual’s mind and moral psychology.  It is self-interested intrinsically and innately, but as “altruistic” consequences and traits in being deeply concerned with justice and right-and-wrong as it exists outside of social perception and will fight for freedom and prosperity not only when there is no immediate rational self-interest (save psychologically perhaps) for him but there are great risks and costs for the efforts he is making to increase the intellectual, moral, economic and psychological floor of society and human potential. 
The great man is cynical in the Greek philosophical sense of viewing social mores and opinion as absolutely worthless and pursues greatness and nobility primarily as a internal struggle for ever greater and more nuanced heights while manifesting itself as an external struggle for peace, truth, justice, freedom, prosperity and the salvation of mankind ultimately through Anarchism being both the individual (psychological/intellectual) and social (material) freedom of Man from everything imposed by both nature and men like Mandark.  Only through individual struggle and the “objective” self-interest of the Ego can any great feat whether philosophical, artistic, scientific, athletic, or moral be done in their utmost and greatest potential; potential that must be derived from Man’s nature rather than the ideologies that are created to enslave him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

There's more to say on Vanilla Sky, (like why the interjection point of the dream or the "splice" takes place after he's disfigured) but some of such I didn't think of until after I wrote the essay and some I thought wasn't worth saying at the time.  I might write an addendum to On Vanilla Sky just as I've been planning on eventually writing an essay on Bad Lieutenant since I wrote an essay on the superior sequel starring Nicholas Cage.
I mistook the "reality machine" (which actually is called by its author the experience machine) to be accredited to Dewey when it's a thought experiment created by Robert Nozick.  The funny thing is though I wrote John Dewey I was thinking of the philosopher John Rawls.  Pragmatism is a school of philosophy that's never really interested me.

And yes, I thought of this error before I posted the essay, so I could've corrected it quietly but then I wouldn't be able to make this post which I wanted to do for some reason.  Perhaps to brag that I know who Dewey, Rawls and Nozick are even though I confused two of them in terms of what they've accomplished and two by name.  So I'm implicitly (though it's not too implicit now) bragging that I made a blunder, but it's a blunder only a relatively intelligent and knowledgeable - despite being not too knowledgeable apparently of twentieth-century philosopher's respective achievements which actually is more-or-less true considering that besides Wittgenstein twentieth-century philosophy never appealed to me much - person would make.  So - there.

I know all of you secretly judge me, you silent nonexistent audience that make me doubt myself!  I see you!
On Vanilla Sky

Firstly I would like to take this moment to bitch about the flawed nature of DVDs as opposed to digital downloads or even video-cassette types.  There is little more annoying than when one rents a DVD in an age where one could download something to one’s hard drive (ignoring of course the illegality in the action as millions do – or to quote the cute older woman from Monk, “Be a pirate; it’s fun being a pirate.”) or stream a movie or series for cents-per-stream considering how often people breeze through series in the modern age.  Yes, I do realize that this is the definition of a First World Problem, but just because both things are far-more awful somewhere foreign and distant and there are far worse problems that are more deserving of our consideration doesn’t excuse irrationality or poor social factors in minute ways or degrees.  Just because things are and could be far-worse shouldn’t be used as rationalization for not making things better.  Otherwise we’ll never have the type of technology seen in films like Vanilla Sky.
Now, secondly I may need to make a confession.  I very-much like Vanilla Sky.  I think it is both witty and well-written asides from perhaps the ending which I’ll get to later.  Yes, I’m well-aware that Brian from Family Guy refer to it passingly as an abortion, but this is also the show that’s been going downhill steadily for the past several years and taunts the audience by having several minute scenes of a clip completely unrelated to the plot just to show you that you are completely under their and the televisions control as a mindless observer – and of course the fact that half of their jokes are unrelated to the plot as South Park mentions doesn’t help its artistic standing either; but the fact that Family Guy would ever or perhaps currently is deemed a source of authority and standards in television writing or public opinion shows the vacancy of intelligence and substance in American culture.  But this is a separate rant for another day.
What makes Vanilla Sky interesting is that it in a way is analogous to Kantian epistemology and also is a unique version of a false reality unlike the Matrix.  The Matrix takes Descartes’ malevolent demon and makes it a self-concerned mechanical sentience apathetic to human concerns (though actually this is contestable considering that The Architect’s first attempt at a Matrix was  a perfect world for humans but this was not conducive to their needs considering a large percentage of humans continually woke up.  I don’t think we humans considering our history and current treatment of each other have any right to criticize a synthetic intelligence’s methodology of survival) so it is essentially nothing more than a action-packed modernization of Descartes with Eastern, Existential and bits of certain philosophers shoehorned into the films.  It isn’t an Intro to Philosophy course as much as it is the cinematic adaptation of Philosophy for Dummies.  Vanilla Sky however is the first film I’m aware of that has a false reality where one’s state of mind and subconscious affects the dream world one is in.  I wish they did far-more with this to comment and explore the human psyche but the film spends more time on the relationships of its characters which I have no quarrel with. 
One reason why I think many Sci-fi buffs don’t like this film is because whether or not they actually have Asperger’s or high-functioning Autism the average “nerdy” person usually enjoys things with either incredibly basic or virtually no character development; Videogames, card games, manga, and so-on.  I know that I’m inserting myself on the shit-list of many readers but one thing that is a continual source of amusement to me is how lovers of Japanese animation believe that it is on-average very deep in itself or far-more so than American or European animation.  First-off, they’re cartoons.  Now that is not to say that cartoons are incapable of being intelligent or having complex characters or well-formed plotlines; but on average regardless of nationality animation is one of the lowest forms of televised entertainment just above sports and political and religious propaganda.  I’m the guy who wrote an essay on The Brave Little Toaster and The Lego Movie, so believe me when I say I understand animation has the potential to be a source of certain kinds of story and message that are rare in adult films.  It seems to me that “nerds” are people who seek out a type of stimulation (e.g. card games and board games that involve strategy and basic math, repetitious stories that idolize the characters they focus on much of the time rather than have characters of “human” quality, depth and frailty – and yes I realize that there are exceptions to this and this isn’t nearly as bad as it once was) that has very-little to do with intellectualism or stories of intellectual substance.  Though they may be deemed intelligent by the laymen, and very-well are of above-average intelligence (which in our society says almost nothing) very-few of them are interested in Philosophy, Psychology, or any field of science in a deep way in the sense of understanding something rather than knowing the data required for one’s career.  The very essence of most “geeky” things are never-ending series in which an episodic adventure takes place in a thirty-two page comic book or in a forty-five minute episode, where character development happens over the length of hundreds of issues or episodes if at-all and particularly for comic books the reset button can always be pressed resetting what little character development and growth to the storyline has been achieved; and yet pulp product is produced every week and consumed in the millions.
Some might say that it’s being too obvious and repetitive in a way typical of a novice writer through constantly instilling the Nietzschean message of the “sweet and sour” and bitterness in life is necessary for appreciation of what one truly has and to want more – it is what makes us human as The Matrix points out.  But this type of amateurish vaguely idealistic style of writing and dialogue I actually enjoy.  Not every piece of fiction needs to be polished where everything is full of subtlety and nuance.  That of course isn’t to say that there are far too much of the two in various mediums of storytelling today – quite the contrary – but occasionally the youthful, impassioned and inexperienced writer (by the way I have absolutely no idea how old the writer was when he wrote this and how many stories he did before, but it does have a “younger man’s” style – which like I’ve already said is one thing I find charming about the film) can convey something that many more mature writers would’ve long moved past and considered trite.  But of course if we look at the subject matter and lives of the majority of characters we find that the things being conveyed usually do contain a young man’s bias or perspective.  Relationships, ambitions, angst, conflict with authority, uncertainty about self, youthful naivety, these are all things in the life of the youthful demographic to varying extents far-more than their older counterparts.  Most stories ignore much of what it means to grow old because it typically entails largely accepting responsibilities and becoming more-and-more a member of society and less-and-less a individual; and this is certainly a reality that both Hollywood (both because they largely wish to provide “popcorn entertainment” and because they exist to present images of life that do not conflict with the authority figures – religion, Capitalism, Government – depiction and to be accurate about life would be to do so) and idealistic writers don’t wish to convey.
The main point of discussion outside the movie in-general is of course its ending.  The main criticism of it, one that I wholly agree with, at-least in a sense, being that there is no doubt provided as to whether he really is in a false reality or not.  It’s shown to him very clearly without almost any doubt in several different ways (the most obvious being Brian and Sophia appearing out of nowhere) but the reason why I said “in a sense” is because although I completely agree that the film is terrible in providing doubt as to whether or not he is dreaming and therefore removes the tension and impact (if I can use that pun) of choosing to jump off a building that has very-little to nothing to do with the significance of his choice.  His choice is not to awake in the real world or risk death, for this assumes that we all assume (and we assume David values) value in reality over pleasure or reality for its own sake.  This is the same premise of course in John Dewey’s reality machine, where one has the choice of being in a machine producing a perfect dream and one would not be aware they are dreaming or reality; Dewey believes that we all have a craving to experience reality for its own sake in a sense and very few would go in the reality machine.  I however disagree.  Firstly, as Freud and Nietzsche show, people have the fundamental need and habit of deluding themselves throughout their daily lives in one way or another and escaping from reality; the delusions of religion being the most obvious and extreme form of this.  Also, though I do agree that most if not all have some level of commitment or attachment to reality rather than one’s ability to experience happiness within it, this is largely beaten out of us both by indoctrination of hierarchy (religion, commerce, government), the rationalizations and alterations people need to make to themselves to cooperate in these systems and out of the savagery and poor living conditions that all three create that makes one escape from reality and delude one’s self even further. 
The issue then of course is not whether he will live or die, but whether he should live an ideal life (for however long we don’t know.  We are told that his finances won’t last long, which the operator of Tech Support says seemingly in conjunction with what his status in the outside world will be, but I think it’s safe to assume that his financial status concerns the duration he continues the Lucid Dream as well) for however long or live a life with some pain but know he is in reality.  Of course he must be cured of his severe scars and migraines and his stay in the dream cannot be eternal because then either the sacrifices he would have to endure to live in reality would be too severe for a rational human being to accept, or it then becomes a question of whether or not one would choose an eternally ideal but false live over a momentary and at-least somewhat tragically real existence.  Most would choose the eternal ideal life and I frankly could not blame them for it would be an actual paradise rather than the incredibly disturbing and unwell depictions of Utopia created by the Christian and Muslim psychology of self abnegation and obedience or the nothingness of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Some would say that I’m being “soft” or padding the choice of choosing reality by the unrealistic assurances of being relatively healthy and pain free, but degree does matter in choice rather than absolutes.  Before his life was not manageable because of the migraines so if they are not cured surely to return to reality would be to ensure one’s demise or pointless suffering.  One must be able to enjoy and achieve something in reality for reality to be a worthwhile choice.  For the main reason why we wish to be in reality rather than in a heavenly falsehood is the notion of being able to achieve something and flourish within it.  This of course should not and cannot be guaranteed.  For if it was there would be no distinguishing factor between the reality and the dream other than the designation of “real” on what we are told is reality but functions to serve our most immediate desires rather than us sublimating and working around our most base desires to achieve greatness – that which escapes basic utility and entertainment.  Philosophy, science and art being the three main fields of greatness but athletic ability, craft, or any type of talent, skill or form of flourishing one does not to become competent as to make a living or become content, but rather to master in and to do for the sake of greatness in itself, regardless of the fruits of science and art which certainly are many and potent in their sweetness and depth.  It is the perfect contrast between the Hedonist life of pleasure and the Nietzschean life of strife and constant shifting (at-times strenuously struggling) towards greater heights and greater expectations, something that is actually counter-productive to happiness in the most base sense but essential for flourishing.
A minor point that may interfere with the flow of this essay, but one I feel the need the need to interject none-the-less.  When the man from Tech Support explains to him what actually happened after the night David went to the club with Sofia and Brian, he mentions that Sofia went to his wake and portrays her in a rather flattering light.  I consider this to be unnecessary and a tad towards the contrived.  I understand that she is in a somewhat uncomfortable situation (but not nearly as painful as David’s scenario regarding the pain of-course though which situation is more uncomfortable ignoring physical pain is something worth discussing) but if she really was so connected with David then you think – at-least if she were a decent person – she would make the effort to maneuver around and work past the momentary awkwardness and try to be his friend or companion.  Instead of that somewhat long and hyperbolic narration, they should have simply shown a forlorn Sophia at the wake.  But I did state and excuse the lack of subtlety in the film.
Another minor point is whether he experiencing headaches the entire time.  When he has the scarred face does he have the headaches to boot?  Shouldn’t this be an indicator of whether or not this is a dream or not for him?  They said that in his dream that they could reduce his headaches by about half, and he says nothing in-regards to his pain being completely gone, so apparently even in this quasi-ideal life of his he is in constant pain or irritation no matter how mild it is.  Overall the mechanics of how his subconscious interferes with his supposedly perfect life is sloppily explained and overall arbitrary in its functioning.  I don’t expect a full introduction to psychoanalysis or Freud, but to have the film’s alteration of the dream be explainable in the sense of saying something either about the nature of the subconscious or this particular type of person’s psychology would’ve made it far-more meaningful.  Is he afraid that Sophia will turn into another Julia?  Does he see the same types of traits in the two?  Of course it is simply a plot-device of having us question (or rather recognize) that what he’s experiencing isn’t truly real and to push the plot forward towards the inevitable confrontation and realization of the fact.  Also, he takes it pretty hard that he sees Julia in Sophia doesn’t he?  It becomes almost immediately clear that it’s Sophia, and were he thinking rationally all he needed to do is ask her a question that only Sophia would know the answer to.  I know I sound like the stereotypical “guy” when I say this, but I wouldn’t mind that the girl I’m fucking looks exactly like the girl who almost killed me – if she’s hot.  Hell, what could be a more ideal instance of revenge fucking as-to get unvented grudges and ailments out of the way – and as-to revenge fuck for revenge fucking sake.
Now to return to more substantive topics.  The film also in its relationships and idealizations of both a “dream world” and the real world reminds me of the nature of the imagination.  Essentially being the Platonic forms; or rather the strongest and purest forms of what we see in reality – making it of course in a sense unreal, but also in a sense a more useful depiction of reality than reality itself.  For the nature of the intellect needs abstractions, generalizations and simplifications to go off of in order to function.  We see this in caricatures of personality types, classes, social groups and relationships of family, courtship and friendship as well-as character development.  It depicts reality in a “purified” form that eliminates the ambiguity and complexity of it to highlight the particular strain of it one wishes to show.  A good example of this being the rather simple story arches of Logan’s Run and Zamyatin’s ‘We.’  Both films have a “true believer” character that works for and is fully convinced of the rightness of the totalitarian system – more-or-less – that they live in.  That is until a changing factor (in both cases a woman) make one question the legitimacy of the system they have before followed dutifully and a loss of faith occurs.  I’m sure this type of example can be found in real life, of people leaving a church, totalitarian regime or organization because they’ve become disillusioned with the rationalizations that one had previously, but not in the choreographed way of dialogue and a consistent unidirectional march towards mental liberation.  Most examples I would guess involve either a very gradual disillusionment with the likelihood of a kind of relapse or a kind of immediate and dramatic change that occurs when one’s perception of reality – that is not only a intellectual but a visceral relation to things – has been suddenly and drastically altered.  The same of course can be said of love affairs.  Though almost everyone of a certain age on the surface of the globe has had some type of love affair or at-least infatuation, very few are quite as idyllic and simplistic as portrayed in cinema. 
Some stories have far-more depth than others of course, but since the imagination a tool for understanding rather than depicting (a major misconception people have with the invaluable mental tool) it’s true utility is expressed in encapsulating something and ignoring a great degree of depth or shading in-regards to other attributes in order to have a better understanding of that one attribute.  Much like the more we know about a particle’s speed the less we know about its location.  Did I get that right?  I know it’s something along those lines but it might be quark instead of particle and two other variables, but the basic premise holds nonetheless.  This also is useful in explaining why modern novels are far-more imaginative than ancient religions, and why fables in those religions existed in the first place.  When one looks at the Greek fable explaining the existence of the spider and why she weaves her web, it is perfectly clear that they are attempting to explain the existence of things in the world, not to depict them accurately or to create imaginative and creative falsehoods.  Religions are the first and poorest attempt that Man had to explain the world, scientific fictionalizations are typically more creative because they are written by more intelligent people yes, but also because they have a more non-systematic urge to depict their findings and explorations of nature, when the religions inevitably becoming more concerned with depicting their fanciful notions rather than exploring the universe and furthering their understanding in it.  Religion first began as an attempt to understand the cosmos and Man’s place in it, but then it very-quickly became a cult-esque organization where herd values, adherence to the faith and continuation of said faith became more important than examining the natural order.
As imagination is attempting to remove the unnecessary complexity of life to understand the basics of a certain topic or trait, so writing is idealism in its purest sense.  There are of course those who write only to create pulp-fiction love novels and horror stories to be made a living on and quickly replaced on the shelf by an identical novel, but writing as an art (just as there is much difference between music as an art and music as it largely exists today especially when great deals of commerce are involved) involves the artist’s desire to portrayal a conversation or setting ideally – even if it be Hell.  Hell itself of course is not a real place but an intellectual abstraction created by a writer.  Taking “a bad place full of pain” and taking that reality to its utmost extreme not only in extent of suffering but the duration of it.  It is the job of the writer to ignore the infinite subtleties of humanity so he can depict some aspect of it with accuracy.  George Orwell’s 1984 is of course a grand, nay perhaps the best example of someone making a completely awful and hellish place of absolute un-freedom which we’ve seen only various (no matter how close to black they seem) shades of such a society but never the picture in its true light and fullest self.  The relationship of Winston and O’Brian is an “idealization” or abstraction of the eternal struggle of the freethinker and the Orthodox.  The relations of Winston and Julia depict the essence of newly budding love that is prevented by social forces much-like Romeo and Juliet – though I prefer Winston and Julia’s romance. 
Though fiction if it is to be truly significant and intellectual must accurately depict reality, it must not be in-depth in its portrayal of it.  For then there would be no respite for the hellish monotony of daily existence, and all that would exist would be reality television, home makeover shows, sports and even more bland and meaningless depictions of the same.  All those with two brain cells to rub together would hang themselves rather allow the indignity of living in such a nightmarish Hell.  And as to whether David should have remained in the dream world or return to the real one, the nature of the imagination would actually coerce him towards not the realm of fantasy, but that of reality.  For the imagination would urge him to return towards the world where he could achieve a better understanding and ability of apprehending the world, focusing on appreciating the world rather than enjoying it. 
The painful realities of existence as it is will also urge him to wish to change the world and create mental alternatives of what the world should ideally be and how to attain it.  This is another reason why the writer is “idealistic.”  He not only concerns himself with what it is, but how things would be ideally.  This is not always done obviously through the Utopian works of HG Wells for example, but also in counterexamples of depicting injustice and suffering and expressing the contempt for such circumstances and the hope that the reading audience will gain from reading the works of creative genius and apply it to their everyday doings as best they can in a systematic and fundamentally unjust society – that is a society that demands injustice, hardship and ignorance in some way.  Imagination would urge us to choose reality, not only for the sake of using imagination to apprehend it, as well-as a reason to be imaginative, but also to use our imaginations to make the world not such a incomprehensibly awful place for so many.  With imagination is the innate hope and urge that not only is the world changeable, but that the ideal is possible.