Archive for nihilism

Life’s Mysterious Shade of Jade

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, Mysticism, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , on April 2, 2008 by wizardsmoke

If you don’t mind I’d like to take a moment and dedicate a post to one of my heroes, the Tabernacle Cat!

*ahem*

So anyway, something is very irksome about human existence. If we don’t keep ourselves busy with work or social engagements, we get lazy and depressed. But the more we work, the more we complain about how miserable our work leaves us! What’s the deal?!

Many of life’s pleasures are taken in by simply relaxing, by laying about, contemplating, looking at things slowly. Yeah, that’s what happens with people who are totally blissed out at least — they see every single thing as a miraculous, beautiful manifestation. Highest level of perception, blah blah. Not that it isn’t the profound reality. It prolly is, but I’m just not there right this moment. *Gasp* But this is the only moment that exists! Wahh!!

Have you ever heard the opinion that all actions of all beings (whether physical, formless, astral, whatever…) are all manifestations of love? I think Jhanananda had to tell some whipper-snapper on his mailing list about it once. He was projecting that even the gross, non-subtle, sad, ugly, desperate astral beings feeding on each other are still just manifestations of love. Sounds a lot like “Buddha-nature”, doesn’t it? Well, when I have time I might write about that but… it’s that idea that all people wish to be realized or happy, but they just can’t see it or are clouded by some ignorance. I mean, it is true, but you could also say that everyone wants to be rich but is just repressing it; and that’s outright poppycock! Haha! *Sigh*

I suppose that ultimately we can at least conclude the following about desires: “Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” Thanks for clearing that one up, Willie B! Somehow, it doesn’t conflict with Nietzsche’s theory of drives…

So anyway, if we try to find this ultimate, pure bliss-out perception of reality, we’ll go crazy! And waste our lives. And not to mention, if we try to have too much fun or pursue the things that interest us, we’ll get depressed and lazy. So we work, work, work — to stave it off! Kinda like that first post I did, remember? I wasn’t lying.

But work sucks! At least, thinking about it does. Seriously, doing work is no problem, but it does seem like such a tragic thing when one can’t bask in the awesome power of things or contemplate beauty because they have to work all the time. That makes me think that the experience of life is actually just running a gauntlet. You know, where a hundred rough-riders line up and slug you while you run past. That’s life, are I not correct?

Of course, we’re always hearing, the reason rich people are patrons of religions is because they’re not content either. Not that I’m some nihilist. But I think reality does all come down to how you create it. Like, if you believe something strongly enough, it becomes a reality. Just how beautiful of a reality can you create? I wouldn’t invest in most people’s realities — I wouldn’t put my money in ’em. Most people have the creative imagination of a vegetable!

Oh man, sorry — I didn’t mean to scare you! I am not some New-Age, Oprah-loving, What the Bleep Do We Know? cult member! Just putting some words out there. My point is, if you really believe in a beautiful world with democracy, you have to put some serious mojo and faith into it.

Everyone is constantly forging their own realities, whether they realize it or not. That’s why, it’s like, so annoying and stupid when people are conspiracy nuts, or punks or hate-mongers, or constant cry-babies, because: anything you are obsessed with grows stronger with your obsession! So all these cynical young metal/punk bands talking about how terrible life is these days — they like the drama! Not that any of this matters, anyway…

In city crowds, in whirls of sound and motion, In remote lands, under far sky,

Though years together, we have been strangers, my soul and I.

Aged walls of apathy close in upon us, The pleasant social smile has ceased to satisfy;

We are alone together, …no longer strangers, My soul and I.

Anne Bremer

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Woody Allen Contemplates His Own Existence

Posted in Film, Happiness, love, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, sex, The Arts with tags , , , , , on March 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I just watched Crimes and Misdemeanors by Woody Allen. It’s actually a little more depressing and bleak than Match Point, if you can believe it. The characters are somehow more pathetic and there’s a little more typical Allen comedy thrown in. And there is obviously a fairly consistent 1930s jazz soundtrack the whole time.

Woody Allen is interesting because he’s a prolific and talented writer with a real sense of dialog and character development. Specifically he knows the upper crust Manhattan socialite like no other, and gives us endless windows into the dimensions of their desperate — often shallow and confused, romantic lives. Allen sometimes seems like he’s one of them but is too observant and critical to ever fall into such a stereotype. If anything he seems rather jaded by seeing through it all, and having read interviews with him in papers, it sounds like my hunch is correct.

Not that the things he sounds jaded about in interviews are all that profound. A year or two ago, he mentioned his regrets about not getting knockout groupies because he wasn’t the alpha-male, or how sad it is that he’s too old to check out gorgeous girls (he called it a favorite pastime of his, to check out young girls in skirts, I believe). Haha, as if this was a terrifying tragedy! It’s more like a bittersweet reminiscence, right? But yeah, that’s where a lot of the best art comes from — reflecting on one’s experiences as an outsider.

In his really poignant and heavy movies like this one, Allen reveals someone close to nihilism, despite his philosophical meanderings in religious ideas. He seems to conclude that religious persuasion is a fictitious belief that people create and live by, and that some people don’t see it at all or believe in its importance, and the people stuck in the middle (him) are left jaded or betrayed by their lack of blind drives. Kind of reminds you of those tales about people who are horrified by prematurely looking in the face of God, doesn’t it?

Not that I think Allen is actually nihilistic or any of the things I describe here. Particularly since his movies are ever more touching or hopeful or funny or dark and sinister than anything angry guys like Spike Lee or Werner Herzog and other “acclaimed” writer/directors manage to produce. It’s just that Allen’s movies seem to reveal someone who has seen through life and how empty it is but who lacks the energy and harmonious passion that comes with ecstatic union. Isn’t a major stepping stone of spiritual experience when one has “kensho” and wakes up to the inherent emptiness of all phenomena? Of course, it’s not a depressing realization in such a case (although it can be scary) — it’s a step towards liberation!

Woody Allen’s insights strike me as intellectually advanced and probably superior to my own. But the intellectual realization of the fabric of existence leaves one very sad and sometimes crazy. However, sometimes the resulting depression of intellectualism can be overcome by developing an intuitive realization into phenomena and approaching life’s questions in a more simplified way.

Not that I’m dissing on Woody. His movies rule! Two of my favorites have to be, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy and Sweet and Lowdown. Sweet and Lowdown is one of the funniest, most touching movies I’ve seen, and has the best soundtrack of any Allen movie!

Delete Yourself (Part II)

Posted in Asceticism, death, Doom and Evil, Fighting, Future World, Mysticism, Paganism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Religion, sex, sex and violence, society with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2008 by wizardsmoke

As I said the other day, in a lot of old societies with warrior classes, the meaning of life was found in death. It seems that the old world value structure venerated, or at least wrote down in its history books, an attitude that usurped fear of death. It goes against the typical human response to life, which is to hoard it.

In On The Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche writes an allegory of hawks and sheep to explain the creative structure of human morals. As is expected of Nietzsche, he determines that an individual or group’s strongest drive takes priority and primary function within one’s will and lifestyle. In the case of the hawks that drive is preying upon the sheep and for the sheep it is submission and aversion to the hawks. Thus the sheep deem the hawks to be evil, because they are preyed upon by them. The hawks, on the other hand, merely believe the sheep to be bad or pitiful for their inferior drives. The hawks (i.e. politicians, noblemen, business moguls, military overlords) don’t even assess a moral judgment over the sheep. They are just sheep to them — they’re livestock. It sounds like Nietzsche believes this too or he wouldn’t be writing about it. He later points out that there may have been a point when the hawk’s drives were not deemed evil, but considered good. Or that they might be considered good by other groups preyed upon by sheep. Thus, the nature of good and evil moral values are in constant flux and neither is permanent.

For me, this brings to mind constructs like religion and the church, and also the old “masculine” ideals that wealthier nations have pushed to the subsconscious in modern times — concepts such as physical strength and power. Society represses these latent desires, channeling them into violent sports and art, while replacing them with ideas of democracy and political correctness. Further, modern society pushes everyone to rape the earth and gain material wealth and hoard their lives over those of others — but as friends!

(As an aside, my main concern with environmental pollution and climate change is that everyone’s greed for power and wealth far outweighs their passion for peace and health. Not that I don’t try to do my part, but it looks pretty grim…)

So, is life pathetic when the goal is to hoard possessions, health, relationships, sex? In European folklore, dragons always appear where too much treasure is accumulated. They’re accompanied by a foul stench and are death to all who come near. Serious calamity follows those who hoard far too much wealth.

I think the attitude that is striking about our most recent generations of human culture is its rank nihilism and blatancy. The romance found in death metal, black metal, gangsta rap, gang culture, black magick, punk, hardcore, etc. sounds to me like an exhaustion with life’s luxuries and social organizations. It’s all a romantic tribute towards death and yet an affiliation and obsession with the grimy, self-destructive nature of urban life today. It also sounds more than ever like a generation cloaked by ignorance and distrust, while yet plagued with the desire to understand things; a drive to transcend the newest, shallowest quality of life which is ironically so much more ideal for humans — at the great expense of nature and aesthetic beauty. It’s truly quite sad. Ah, but dry those tears! No ideal society ever existed, remember?

Strong desires in modern society seem to be pursued in different ways than they once were in older times. Business has largely replaced all other elements of life. Everything is a business, as that’s how members of democracy sustain “freedoms” and functions — by not conferring power to the state, which ends up tied together with business anyway. I think the old values placed on virtuous death also stemmed from the fact that life is so boring. And it used to be so slow and devoid of distractions! Really, what better thing to do than give one’s life for one’s god or ideal? After all, aren’t we only really alive when we look at death? I think people like Jesus, Socrates, the Cambodian monk who burned himself alive, real deal bodhisattvas and samurai realized that life isn’t worth clinging to or hesitating over; there is no reason to hoard it.