Archive for materialism

Merchant-minded Diligence

Posted in genius, Philosophy, Reality Bites, The Arts, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Visits from the muse, constant haranguing by creative forces beyond the senses — these can drive a man to madness as much as toward any heavenly pleasure. Did I not quote Socrates before?

If anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet by acquiring expert knowledge of the subject without the Muses’ madness, he will fail, and his self-controlled verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds.

Over the years I’ve had a wide variety of friends. I’ve found as I age (and I’m not old) that friendships based purely on social chemistry no longer are the name of the game. While those are the most exciting, they’re rarely the most convenient. And so camaraderie seems more likely — friendships based on mutual activities and obligations. It brings to mind the importance of religious groups as a social atmosphere for the elderly.

Most people are creative in some way or another. Most people have some level of cleverness or natural artistic ability, and sometimes more strongly in one region of experience than another. Genius is rare, but almost all people fit somewhere on a scale/spectrum of artistic talent. It seems most often to be a catalyst for personal fulfillment.

But then one thing I’ve noticed amongst a few friends is a total lack of artistic integrity; individuals whose talents seem to lie utterly outside the creative sphere. And I do not mean this in any sort of condescending manner, for they have interesting skills and talents in their own right. I mean to say that I have friends who are incredibly smart, focused and logically minded but have limited creative abilities — much less taste — in regards to music, art, literature and so forth. They might be a brilliant mind at running a business or finances or calculating material gains, but they absolutely cannot distinguish the difference between a schlocky vulgar comedy and a brilliant satire; between folk genius and typical indie-rock schmaltz.

But such people are possibly well-poised to succeed financially. Not because artistically creative individuals are doomed to poverty or any such nonsense, but because a logically thinking person — an individual uninterrupted by creative forces of the imagination, is in a good position to address daily needs or financial concerns. The merchant class will always succeed because it is naturally driven by idleness and a naturally deep calculation of (a desire for?) the materialistic world.

But not me. No, I am cursed to wonder eternally, impotent of all merchant-minded diligence. Oh well, I’ll get by somehow. Donations accepted! Haha…

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Treading water…

Posted in Buddhism, death, love, Mysticism, Reality Bites, Religion, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2008 by wizardsmoke

You can cut up atoms and particles as much as you want, peer into black holes, and measure dark matter. But matter is just a changing frothy foam — the icing on the cake. It is not the end-game. It is just some ephemeral smoke rising off of the water. It’s not totally fake, but it’s not permanent and you can’t somehow empirically cut through it to find the underworld or the gods or the secret of existence. You have to see the bigger picture in the back of your mind and in your imagination.

But, if you don’t have the total ultimate big picture — if you haven’t completely obliterated the walls of perception, the fetters of becoming, and all conditioning — then you still have to live with pain and the uncertainty of a higher perspective that you can’t understand. There are still realms that you will encounter in which you will be a total n00b, a total clueless casualty.

For most of us stuck here on the human realm, what is more frightening than the deathless, the Bardo, the afterword to this mortal coil? It’s not necessarily frightening because of the pain (whether physical or emotional), nor because of fear of a divine punishment, nor because it’s going to be empty or non-existent or meaningless. It’s frightening because in our unfamiliarity, in our naivete, we’ll shirk and shrink and tense up violently and cause worse damage to ourselves than if we would just relax.

That’s what you learn over time from taking impacts: fighting, tumbling, crashing. You realize that the more you relax, the heavier the impact you can take without longterm or serious physical damage. Well, it’s the same with everything emotional/psychological, too.

Death? For most of us that’s worse than being thrown in the water without knowing how to swim. Which is what life is, right? Splashing around in this tight wet-suit, making things worse than they actually are, drowning because of our incompetence and inability to relax. I don’t know if I necessarily flock to religions, but I can certainly appreciate them. The samsaric ocean can be so intimidating.

Socrates’ Daemon and the Tower of Babel

Posted in Asceticism, Mysticism, Paganism, Philosophy, Religion, society, Technology, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It is interesting how all nations and lineages take pride in the significant moments in their history or timeline as well as those profound people who stand out as remarkable and virtuous to the world. But, as Socrates is credited with saying, virtue is not hereditary in genealogy nor in the lineages of cultures and traditions. The veneration of a notable character for being of the same cultural or social origin, this betrays modest ignorance in an individual and blatancy or confusion in a culture.

This stuff is kinda confusing, but…some genetic traits are predisposed for different things. Like, some bloodlines excel naturally at music, some at visual art, and so on. And actually, it’s more complicated than that, evading even scientific categorization (AMAZING, I know). It’s more realistic to say, some combinations of genes or traits (not necessarily bloodlines) create the parameters for certain “artistic opportunities” to manifest. An artistic opportunity in this definition, is what William Blake would call the “poetic genius”. An individual, whose manifestation possesses the ability to exaggerate the deep, layered, subconscious cosmos through a communicative medium of time-space expression. While it is often artistic expression, there are those with divine intuition in other arenas of the mind, such as math, linguistics or engineering. Such an existence is a window of artistic–and divine, opportunity.

The summarized point here is that a genetic predisposition to craftsmanship in something, especially art, still does not bequeath creativity. And it’s the same with virtue. It is beyond genetic transmission. Some genes and environments simply create greater odds or “luck” for a virtuous person to manifest. But there are no guarantees.

This makes me think of Socrates’ “daemon”. I’ve had discussions with philosophy students who conclude that the concept of a daemon, or active/vocal conscience present in his cognitive sphere, is/was only a metaphor. But one can also look at it without reading into it and take it at face value — that Socrates really did have a familiar spirit or special sense that informed him of the outcome of his potential actions. What makes that so crazy?

Now, clearly we can’t prove anything here about what Socrates himself meant to communicate in our modern language and symbols. But that doesn’t really matter much to me. I can see that it isn’t purely metaphorical in that early language. This is a facet of the ancient world: there does not seem to be such a strict division between something existing as a metaphor and having concrete existence. Due to the absence of any kind of extensive canon to build language and symbols upon, and since Socrates seems (to us, at least) to be creating (via Plato’s dialogs) a lot of archetypal philosophical ideas, the actual assessment of Socrates’ daemon as a spirit lies somewhere between literal and metaphorical.

But this makes the discussion pretty interesting. The gods of empiricism are at large in our modern collective venues of prayer. With the development of technologies, mankind stands at the altar of the machines. The ignorant will never know what they pray to, but most people have a hint that whatever they actively reinvest inspiration into becomes a potent idea, and eventually a bearer of will and being. Those who profess athiesm and materialism pray to these ideas — they bow to them and ask them to manifest in our world with ever greater resonance. They raise their kids amidst this blind technolust and project it upon society at large.

Prometheus (the name means literally, “fore-thought”) brings fire to mankind and is punished by the gods. One interpretation could be that Prometheus changed the pantheon of gods humanity worshiped, or made man fall into belief in demigods. Intensive intellectual thought brings fire to humanity and changes his fears and beliefs. There are a wide plethora of ways to interpret this kind of event.

When I was younger, like many others, I used to wonder whether modern man had lost the ability to see the spirits of antiquity. While most of us in the industrial world may have lost the ability to perceive the gods of old, it is not so much a loss of vision as it is a change in focus. Modern society worships different things, and most people are only able to see the things society worships. Mechanization and industry are actually a result of prayer, creating demigods we see as being holy.

The story of the Tower of Babel involves mankind’s quest to build a bridge to God, to become greater than God. The project eventually falls apart from the petty social squabbles around realizing this pipe-dream. But another symbolic outcome of this story is that mankind unwittingly summons a Satanic archetype — a destructor — which destroys the valuable fruits (virtues) of humanity’s labor (community).