Archive for September, 2008

Do your worst…

Posted in death, Doom and Evil, Fighting, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Relationships, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , on September 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

In times of moral crisis
the darkest places in hell
are reserved for the neutral
–Ihsahn

A well-known idea espoused since ages past by various individuals is, you’re only as good as you are at your worst. It is particularly relevant to the martial arts, where our skills are likely only going to be tested in the worst of scenarios. And that’s true in general — our survival instincts, the tough decision-making, our moral integrity, that faith (in ourselves) in the face of fear — they’re all tested during absolutely shitty situations when we have no food, no friends, no money, are stressed-out, are tortured, are intoxicated, etc. etc. A personal Sir Gawain and the Green Knight if you will… or Spirited Away… or The Game … or… ah whatever, you get the point. It sucks and 90% of people would seriously compromise their integrity right away.

Thing is, most people in society are fairly upstanding human beings. Because they’re… sorta neutral on issues. After all, it’s hard to make decisions when you’ll be blamed for the outcome, isn’t that right? So most people are fairly friendly and somewhat charitable when times are remotely good. But when times become hard, when the economy suffers (hint hint) and when tough decisions have to be made, it becomes much tougher to be a good person.

A good person though — what is that? It’s a pretty abstract term. I guess I’d say “good people” do not actively scheme or go out of their way to take advantage of others. A good person has chosen not to act unnaturally, not to act without a prior cause to respond to. A good person doesn’t mug someone else because they don’t have the emotional conviction to believe in such a cause. Sorry if my descriptions are pretty vague and generalized (not to mention biased), but that’s how it is.

It’s more reasonable to say we all exist somewhere on a “moral” scale, on a scale of Nietzschean drives. But drives don’t seem morally relevant except in hindsight. For even seemingly good people — don’t they sometimes have to choose to ignore the evils of their state or society in order to feed their families? Are they bad people too? Yes, they probably are. Maybe it’s a bad example, as I never understood the whole family-over-friends thing in the first place (I’m weird like that).

Still, there is no “worst” or “best”. There is only the present moment, young grasshoppa. But I do have to wonder… is it when people are at their worst, or when they’re neutral, that they’re dead?

Symbols for Nothingness

Posted in Beauty, Buddhism, Christianity, Film, Folklore, History, love, Storytelling, The Arts, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

How many states were founded by anarchists? Why every one, because every questioner of the old order is the founder of the new order. — Head Wide Open

Whether or not the stories of Jesus or the Buddha are real, I don’t care. If I had to take a firm stance, I’d just say they are fiction. Not because they can’t be “proved” but because everything is fiction. There are certainly facts that can be recorded, but all interpretations of life are still some manner of fiction.

I suppose I can understand the historian’s impulse to catalog everything, to make sure things are properly remembered and not spun romantically or forgotten completely. But don’t historians have some lofty dreams (kind of like scientists) that if they could only show people what is real, what can be touched, humanity could learn from its mistakes? You know, the whole thing about how “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” This is all fiction too.

Although it’s said that “truth is stranger than fiction”, often fiction is more real than truth. Or it is the “other side of truth.” No, it’s not more true in an empirical fashion — it’s just more true in that it actually has life to it. It is the breath of the body. The problem with most people’s fiction (here referring to the perceptions we allow ourselves) is that it becomes static, blind, unchanging — as though the breath had stopped or were not spreading throughout the body (and then some people even deny the relevance of the breath).

I often wonder why humanity is so obsessed with storytelling. If you break down stories, you’ll find that all plots often involve some disagreement between two characters or parties. Friction, schisms, drama are all the apple of the artistic eye. Mankind’s greatest moments are still the products of its errors. A great love story has more broken hearts than fulfilled romantic wishes, and great war stories have less to do with heroism than a melancholy fondness for senseless carnage and loss.

But in the world of truth, there is no pleasure or pain. It’s perverse that our lives become fiction and novelties which we tell ourselves — which we pamper our egos with. But that’s no surprise, considering humanity prides itself on illusions of being divine creator and destructor. What else can explain the microprocessor and atomic bomb?

Truly, madly, deeply…

Posted in genius, Occult, Poetry, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , on September 23, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It was never
The icy winds of the heights
But the coldness of the world
That hardened my foundation

Whether your approach
Is that of praise or blasphemy
The construction of my being
Shall remain the same

If my soaring presence
Threatens to break your neck
Then so be it
You shall dread my name

There is a fundamental cleft
Between your world and mine
One of divine origin

Were you to witness
The nakedness of your own soul
It would still appear a Tower of Babel

Is it such a crime to go apart and be alone?
Your holy simplicity turns gold into stone

Ihsahn — “Monolith”

Fortune favors the bold (and all that good stuff)

Posted in death, Fighting, karma, Mysticism, Paganism, Philosophy, society, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

No matter whether life is painful, pleasurable, boring,or exciting, one idea that has always stood out to me goes something like this: “a man not sacrificed is a worthless man.” It’s an idea that strikes me as being somewhat “pagan” in its grasp, this idea that one’s self-sacrifice is one’s greatest reason to live. In pagan cultures it seems like people are/were the children/food for their gods, and so their self-sacrifice is a completely natural goal. It is a foreign concept to us, as it does tread on all of these sensitive boundaries of self-righteousness and crazed self-attachment which most contemporary people abide by. Yet in nature, isn’t the male the one who is only temporarily necessary (via fertilization) for life to go on?

It’s a bit cheesy to be specific like this, but sometimes it’s all as Ogami Itto says at the end of one of the Lone Wolf & Cub films: [the purpose of a samurai’s life is] “to live to die.” Cheesy and extreme, but that’s kind of it, really. What right do the living have to be alive if they are not willing to give their lives? Another conundrum of the ego: one lives to give one’s life. One seeks to escape oneself but lives in fear of doing so. I think the message is a good one, though the application in traditional samurai-era budo is rather… dramatic.

A while back I mentioned an interview with the Japanese film director, Masahiro Shinoda, where he explains his perspective that the real losers in war are those survivors who have to go on living with blood on their hands. It’s an interesting world-view in the modern world. In embracing war (and life, and romance, and sex, and violence, and everything) comes a deluded, necessary sense of purpose or finality. It is frightening, because often one’s purpose, particularly in war, actually has nothing to do with survival. Often people who are devoid of a purpose, or are continually enamored of one, have not sacrificed themselves for something any greater than their fleeting personal desires. And that brings to mind some things I’m always thinking, like how it is sometimes more painful to live in shame than mere physical pain. Goals and living are not necessarily synonymous.

These ideas are not particularly lucrative in a free-market economic system. But honestly, if the more common denominators of the populace could handle considering these things more often, maybe our common goals would be more meaningful. Not necessarily more organized or efficient — that’s what crazy fat-cats are already trying to achieve. But I mean to say, by living with a willingness to die, some of the important things in life reveal themselves.

It’s funny. In a country like China, those top-dogs for the AIG and all those morgage firms — those guys who almost single-handedly destroyed the world economy through their cult-like, childish, Ayn-Randian arrogance — they probably would’ve been shot in a show of public faith and party-line routine. I’m not a party-line proponent, but I don’t know if that would be horribly extreme given their criminal goals. After all, if someone beats another person nearly to death, don’t they go to jail for 5+ years in the USA? Might it not be worse to financially ruin millions of people because of your own deliriously sick private interests? Indeed, only the rich misunderstand these things. “He who has been harmed by you, knows you.”

Because their acts were so shameful, it would be deceitful to demand of them to go on living in the aftermath of their actions. Truly, their shame should have gotten the best of them. They are the losers of their own hand and should be punished by that. And yet, not only is there no punishment for them, they fail to be consciously affected by the ugly shame they’ll live with from now on. The emptiness that comes from greed seems to render one impervious to shame.

Neighborhood watch

Posted in Doom and Evil, Fighting, History, Reality Bites, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , , on September 19, 2008 by wizardsmoke

What makes people turn on their neighbors? Economic hardship, starvation, limited resources. Perhaps it can all be summarized thusly by this quote about treatment of Allied POWs captured by the Japanese when they invaded the Philippines. Some POWs were forced into submarines to be shipped north to prison camps in Eastern Asia. As Ronald H. Spector quotes an eyewitness’ account:

When it was nearly full, guards came down and with whips began beating us farther back into the ship’s hold until it looked as if no more men could get in… Yet, more and more were coming. The ceilings were low, only about five feet high, but we were made to stand…we were crammed so tightly that if a man fainted he could not fall to the floor. He would be packed between them. . . . The men began screaming and fighting. They tore at each other, they fought and pushed. Their screams of terror and their laughter were terrible things. Suddenly, there was more room. The fainting and the dead were sliding down until men littered the floor underneath our feet. We had more room to move in. But under our feet were the bodies of dead men.

-Ronald H. Spector, Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan

Soul Brother

Posted in Cults, Fighting, martial arts, Monasticism, Mysticism, Occult, Religion, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2008 by wizardsmoke

“We’ll tear your soul apart.” —Hellraiser

The scariest kind of horror fiction is that stuff that talks about the torment of the soul, of a negative post-human transmigration. In fiction, those elements were always the scariest parts of Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Arthur Machen, E.T.A. Hoffmann, etc. After all, that’s how religions and cults brainwash people — they imbue them with terrifying stories under the guise that they are real.

Oh, not that they’re wrong — hell is real, but everything looks and seems different when observed from far away. We might be in hell right now (we probably are) and just don’t realize it because we don’t have the eyes to see it, or because our perceptions are made up of hellish perceptions. And besides, to someone with an agenda (enlightenment, heaven, freedom, power) anything that obstructs that agenda is bad, dangerous, a hellish manifestation.

Lots of horror stories function under the premise of someone encountering deep underworld elements (occult or social) which they are not prepared to comprehend. This is how our “souls” can be damaged — by attaching to negative influences or encountering tantric forces we do not understand. When fear is too powerful, a person attaches to it and becomes ensnared by horrible things, ideas, whatever.

It’s the same when confronting or fighting somebody: even if your structure and technique is fantastic, if a person’s spirit is far stronger, you become paralyzed and frozen in fear. Nothing works and you succumb to their energy. This is why eliminating fear is such an important step in religious/martial training. As Glenn Morris likes to chant in his charming and entertaining occult/martial arts books, “the stronger spirit wins”.

We’re often told of the conundrum that the final peace or whatever arises of its own accord. You can’t force it, blah blah blah. It’s true, but it also arises as the only alternative to disenchantment with all of these painful things. There is a point where the hells just become boring.

Born to be wild

Posted in Beauty, Fighting, love, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Sometimes I think sex is a total scam. This whole element of “physical attraction”. Yeah, there’s something fishy about it. The same with violence too. I don’t know about it. It’s very fishy. Why is it so alluring?

Okay, rhetorical question: I know why “scientifically” — that it’s nature’s drive to self-sustain, impulses to create offspring, survival, etc. And I also recognize that nature makes the finest sense pleasures so strong that every physical existence is forcibly drawn in a gravitational pull to partake of it. That’s why self-replication, self-reflection is incredibly pleasurable. To continue the species, the ego has to be convinced of its own individual importance, which is accomplished by this sexual desire — we descend into total egomania via our lust — sorry, love. Hence it seems the twin manifestation of sex and violence is the tree or river of life itself, and all other experiences and life flourishes are the branches and streams that sprout from it.

But on a physical level, I’d say sex and violence are manifestations of ripping change and the exploding, expanding/contracting movement of the universe. Like, we’re standing in the midst of a mind-boggling explosion, but we’re so small it seems to be happening in slow motion. So sex and violence are these mediums through which the exploding molecules shed their skin.

If size is an issue in perceiving time, do you think bugs perceive everything incredibly slowly? Let’s say a bug lives six weeks — it probably feels like a whole century to them. No surprise, since all windows of time are just little temporary avatar blips in the eternal transmigratory lineage. Size/age/virility is a big factor to perceptions of time. Kids seem to perceive time incredibly slowly, probably because they’re shedding and regenerating cells so insanely fast. Thus everything whizzes by an old person. Yeah, I think one’s perception of time is possibly related to one’s rate of bodily regeneration.

Or is perception of time exclusively a mental construct? We all know time moves according to our perception of it. But this is because when you’re enjoying yourself, time ceases to exist. You are living in the infinite realm of love! And when time passes slowly, it’s because we’re analyzing it and dwelling in those uncomfortable thought-worlds, which are in themselves eternities. Strange how that is, huh? Dwelling on a thought is an eternity in itself, but not concentrating on anything is a direct perception of eternity.

Then there are those clinchers of sex and violence. Absorption in anger, hate, lust, love — they totally warp your perception of time again! That’s what I don’t get about sexual desire. It’s so endless, mind-bending and yet so disappointing. If we took the hinges off of the door to sexual desire, if there were no limitations to its power, it would explode and consume itself endlessly. So I feel like all existence is this dangerous build-up to sexual climax, this insane violence.

I used to wonder, when people in past civilizations — Ancient Rome, Ancient China — were castrated for insolence in court or were made eunichs, what did that do to their outlook on life? Most of us who have sexual urges will cling to them desperately, say how we want to have kids, don’t want to let go of our lustful attachments. But if they just disappeared — if they stopped functioning — how would that make us feel? We’d still have emotions and so forth, but no more sex drive. The average person would be pretty bored, at least in a society that endlessly markets to one’s sex drive. So I wonder if total liberation isn’t totally boring too, haha.

Anyway, nature must really have the hots for itself.