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Old 07.07.2010, 14:55   #1
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Default Good advice

July 4, 2010
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THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
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Nations and empires die as surely as individuals.
Scientists tell us the same fate awaits
not only the planet on which we live
but also the universe itself.
I doubt if I or anyone else
can postpone the inevitable final catastrophe
by even a fraction of a second.
Perhaps I write the way I write
not to save anything or anyone or, for that matter, myself,
but to kill time.
*
The older I grow the more doubts I have
and the more certain I feel
of the essential meaninglessness and absurdity of life.
The idea itself of saving someone strikes me as an empty illusion.
There are those who identify the Messiah as our Savior.
There are also those who assert He,
or rather His followers,
saved no one and nothing;
if anything they made things worse
by legitimizing intolerance, the persecution and torture of dissenters,
and religious wars, among other horrors.
Their intentions may have been good – no one denies that –
but history – including our own -- tells us
“the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
“No one can save another,” the Buddha has said.
Which, if anything, proves that even messianic figures
contradict one another when it comes to
unraveling the mystery of existence,
or when they speak in the name of
the Unknowable and the Incomprehensible.
*
I believe true knowledge consists less in what we know
and more in what we don't know;
and what we don't know
exceeds what we know to such a degree
that if we had all the answers
what we now think we know would shrink to nothingness.
Why do I write?
Wrong question.
A better question would be,
why mankind has consistently trusted deceivers more than honest men?
#
July 5, 2010
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HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS
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Propaganda works because it flatters, and flattery is an offer very few people have the strength of character to refuse or reject.
“Fatigue increases suggestibility,” we are told by Pavlov of conditioned-reflex fame. After centuries of subservience and degradation we readily believe in the big lies of our propaganda, among them the illusion that we are smart.
Germans under Hitler behaved like barbarians with the unshakable conviction that they belonged to a superior or master race.
Speaking for myself: in my youth I was so convinced of my high IQ that I refused to learn from those I viewed as my equals or inferiors even when they were far ahead of me in understanding and dealing with reality. Which amounts to saying, those I viewed as my inferiors were in fact my superiors.
*
Do Yanks trust gold more than God? It depends on whether you are a partisan of fact or fiction. It goes without saying that the average American is convinced Americans are the most religious and idealistic people on earth.
If in crime it's cherchez la femme, in propaganda it's cherchez the truth or fact that it attempts to contradict or cover up.
*
Propaganda, Aldous Huxley tells us, “cunningly associates the lowest passions with the highest ideals.” It also contradicts the truth with lies.
When Pope Benedict decided to make his anti-Muslim views public, he quoted a Byzantine emperor on Islam's addiction to violence. A bad choice for which he had to apologize, because, to paraphrase a popular American saying, “Violence is as American as cherry pie,” or again, as Christian as Western imperialism.
A better choice on the part of the Pope would have been Islam's promise of a paradise where sex-starved teenagers are allowed to deflowers a harem of virgins.
Christian paradise promises eternal bliss. No mention of sex. This may explain why we have a lower suicide rate in the West. Who in his right mind would kill himself in the name of a poorly defined metaphysical abstraction?
#
July 6, 2010
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FAMOUS LAST WORDS
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Hegel's famous last words:
“No one understood me except one, and even he didn't understand me.”
Who among us can truly claim that he has been understood or,
for that matter, that he understands himself?
*
Confronted with the impenetrable mystery of life and death, men have constructed countless belief systems all of which claim to have a monopoly on truth.
We disagree on what we think we know and understand.
We disagree even more on things we neither know nor understand. Misunderstanding may be said to be our most abundant commodity.
For a thousand years men believed the earth to be flat and at the center of the universe, in the same way that today we believe the dimension in which we exist is the only dimension because we cannot conceive of any other.
*
If God exists, He is not and cannot be what we believe Him to be but something as inconceivable and incomprehensible as the line that scientists tell us separates existence from nothingness -- on the grounds that the universe is not infinite.
The paradox is that to have an idea of nothingness we think of existence before we were born, as if nothingness were an extension of being.
*
What if God exists in a dimension beside which existence as we know it is as nothingness?
Please note that I am not making any assertions, only asking questions, which may well be our only option when dealing with metaphysics -- asking questions without ever giving in to the temptation of making dogmatic assertions. Because, as we should all know by now, the road to hell is paved with dogmatic assertions.
#
July 7, 2010
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GOOD ADVICE
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Winston Churchill:
“Never hold discussions with the monkey
when the organ grinder is in the room.”
Which is why I ignore cowardly, loud-mouth idiots
who call me an idiot anonymously and from a safe distance.
They are not my targets.
My real targets are the fascist idiots
who brainwashed them to believe
dissent and free speech are unpatriotic.
*
According to Heidegger,
before we pretend to have the right answers,
we must learn to ask the right questions.
What have we learned from our history so far?
Only this: We are surrounded by ruthless giants,
as opposed to being self-righteous dogmatic midgets
who have learned nothing because they think
they already have all the answers.
*
Which one of our political parties
may be said to be on the right path?
One way to answer that question
is by quoting Samuel Johnson:
“Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency
between a louse and a flea.”
#
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