Archive for metaphors

Self-help: peons, paradise and panache…

Posted in Daoism, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, self-help, tai chi, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by wizardsmoke

There are a lot of self-help guides and ideas floating around out there. Ways to become powerful, to become successful, confident, how to seize the day, etc. They’re mostly gibberish because they pitch no real skill. To address real problems of confidence takes practice in an area relating to the problem. How do you cease social anxiety? How do you take down violent criminals or fight off bullies? How do you talk to attractive men or women? How do you stand up to your boss? How do you find a soul-mate, a great teacher, or a great skill? How do you make a lot of money on the stock-market? How do you attain non-craving or non-attachment and ultimate supreme enlightenment?

The same way you do anything: you practice the necessary skill until it becomes normal. You do it until it is no longer an unusual thing, it becomes routine. So much crap in life, so much unnecessary mental suffering is really just people whining — people trying to avoid doing the grunt work. The grunt work is all there is! Civilization is built upon shitty jobs! When you fuck up — do it again! Do it again! Again! Again!!!!!

In fact, in life we should never expect any kind of perfection or success. Life is constant struggle, constant change — diamonds are mined from hard work, and nothing else. Any successful person, who did not have to do any hard work or hard practice to get to their position of influence or affluence, is worthless. They do not know what they are doing. They are the spoiled prince, the media heiress, the run-of-the-mill actor, the corrupt politician, the failed business tycoon; they are the true meaning of charlatan, poseur, parasite and liar. The depth of their ugliness is endless.

And so it is with everything. If you want the bigger returns, you need to put in more effort than other people.
This is why having competition amongst fellow students, friends and family can be a good thing. We are forced to practice and improve ourselves with our free time. Life’s rewards are the personal results of hard work. Too many people just sit on their asses watching mediocre television shows every night, while looking for love in the gutter (bars and clubs) on the weekends.

And not that anyone is ever satisfied by romantic love no matter how much they yearn for it. Every other person I meet who finds out I’m deep into Taiji or music, they immediately fire off some nonsense about how they really want to start learning that stuff. But almost none of them will ever start. Why? What do they want, free lessons? My approval? All a person needs to make life reasonably fulfilling is a couple of things rewarding practices to pass the time, things that you would hate yourself for not doing.

The worst thing I can imagine doing is taking some salaried job in a corporation, so that I can buy a house in a developed community and raise kids in a world I never fully comprehended in the first place. And yet, the irony is that this is the grunt work, the shitty job, of civilization. A lot of people try to fill their existential hole with sex, drugs, money, kids, status, power, religion, and a million other things. And they’re unsatisfied. They have nothing. Because there is nothing, but they only know that intellectually, not experientially. And so it goes on.

Learning multiple skills is essential to understanding the essence of metaphor. Metaphorical understanding and realization is valuable stuff, as Aristotle put it:

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor… it is also the sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.

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).