Lakshmi: Your dogged bleating about the rightful freedom of these pathetic mortals betray a willful naivete on your part.
Kaeli: Perhaps, but it is not up to us to determine their nature, even if we have the advantage of wisdom on our side. Mortals need space to develop their own society, on their terms, whatever that may be.
Lakshmi: After a few thousands of years, you'll agree that society is an incompetent idea. Such valorization of the individual as a romantic hero will lead you to the realization that society submerges the individual into the social. Moreover, there are other experiences that the idea of society does not account for: the mystic, the aesthetic, the psychological, the moral, so on and so forth. An intelligible theory of society? of brief blips, easily forgotten? No such thing.
Kaeli: You settle for conclusions rotted after centuries of failure and resignation.
Lakshmi: Wisdom is wasted on the young. The forms as experiences are reflections of mortal experience. Perhaps these forms are causal in dictating and guiding culture. Then again, forms reflect through contents the idealization of an individual life. Therein lies the contradiction between cause and effect, and the impossibility of a sociology of mortals. Life is fluid, whereas forms are provisionally frozen logical concepts. And the history of mortals you are proud of must be about change between the contesting forms, contesting experiences that reflect mortal existence. That is why all mortal culture consists of remainders, vestiges of brief identifiable moments of order.
Kaeli: A lot of talk that parades your exhaustion with mortals as justification for exploitation. That all forms of mortal culture leave behind remainders or vestiges betrays your weakness for fatalism. I on the other hand, see that same exhaustion of form as the triumph of existence over form. Mortals are free to express themselves in all cultural manifestations. Yes, they are also free to worship you, just not on your terms.
With a nervous disposition and panting breath, I cracked open Being and Time and fall into the bottomless chasm, uttering to myself over and over, "Menschliches, Allzumenschliches," clutching my Götzendämmerung until the vanishing light behind me recede into nothingness...
A dimensional portal with Heidegger's haughty visage looms before me, his twitchy mustache hypnotic, and i'm swiftly pulled into a shadowy labyrinth.
I wake up and a vast maze opens up before me, and the ground is full of fine dust... wait, it's ashes. A volcano must be nearby and active. Plus the sky is slightly less so, but equally monochromatic. Bleh.
A dusty path leads to a non-descript stone wall, and at its base is a rotting wooden door.
As I trod fearfully towards the door, I spot something swinging from the door handle, obscured within the shadow.
Making my way, I nearly gag from a horrible stench, and finally notice the dead bodies stacked along the side. Upon closer inspection... they're actually logical positivists from the Vienna Circle! Sweet Fancy Moses. A crow is startled by my approach, making off with a couple of eyeballs.
I quicken my pace.
At the door, it's much bigger than I thought. The wall towers before me, and seems to scrape the sky. I remind myself of the phrase "GOTT IST TOT" but somehow I come out saying "ICH IST TOT!"
On the door a crucified body hangs like a sack of potatoes. Above it is a plate that reads "RVDOLPH CARNAP REX POSITIVISTERUM". I try to laugh at this sadistic display of chutzpah, but I manage only a weak twitter.
Above the Latin etching is a bunch of letters in blood: "Neimand Versacht mit Heidegger."
Nobody fucks with Heidegger.
Lucky me, someone left keys under the welcoming mat, which of course says "ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE."
After surviving the insidious Indiana-Jones styled traps in the lobby of the labyrinth, Nietzsche and I take a break in a small enclave.
Moi: "So, Nietzsche, my esteemed German philosopher, what did we learn?"
Friedrich: "Ah, let's see. First we deciphered the hieroglyphs on the floor to indicate a horrible monstrosity that has been slumbering for so long that its true name, its very meaning has been long forgotten, and we must reawaken it. Philosophers have buried it deep with three erroneous spells in order to avoid the creature altogether."
"Right, that was on the inside of the entrance door."
"Indeed. Had we not learned of that, we would've fallen prey to the traps by now. Then we learned something about such mazes in general: the entrance always has the same form of the question: the questioned and the object of question. We end up thinking that the questioned is what is meant by the question, & the object of question is that which would suffice as an answer to the question."
"I sure did, Mustachioed one."
"The question of the monstrosity is directed at itself. Its object is its being. Therefore, there can be no ordinary definition for this being, but that definition must be something utterly different from defining, say, "Wagner" or "that slattern Lou." Heidegger also explains what he meant by Dasein, that something that is and capable of asking questions like you, me, and poor Carnap before he was crucified.
"Heidegger also gave us a hint that the meaning of the monstrosity would somehow be found in the way it shows itself to us & in the way we look at it, rather than some logical inference through premises. Thus, regardless of how it may seem at first, there is no circle in asking for the name of the nameless Being."
"Not a bad summary, Fred!"
"But of course. I've been stuck in this lobby for weeks!"
"Well, we have each other's backs. Let's go on deeper into the mystical maze, and find that nameless beast!"
With my left hand in the hand of Nietzsche, & my right hand securely in the same pocket where I keep my Gotzendammerung, I will bravely move on in my journey, that even though we just began, already seems have gone on forever.
After I spend the night stabbing my Kant voodoo doll, just to stay awake, a feeble cough wheezes from down the hall. I found myself dismissing it as a threat. After tip-toeing around the corner I find a man huddling his knees, shivering on the cold marble floor with torn clothes.
"Sir," I ask hesitating. The shriveled person hacks once more and looks up with a faint graying remnants of a once-proud mustache. "My Zod!" I gasp, "Nietzsche? Is that really you?"
He nods curtly and gets up unsteadily on his feet. "My good philosopher, what the hell are you doing here?" I exclaim and loan him my leather jacket.
After a couple of violent coughs later, Nietzsche snaps, "He stole my ideas!"
Eh? Well, you can't say Heidegger was ignorant of Nietzsche while writing Being & Time. After all he did lecture on Nietzsche not too long after.
He continues: "I came here to take them back, but I got lost between existentiell and unhiddenness."
"Now, who would've thunk it?" I think to myself, and ask "What ideas did he steal, my good Ubermensch?"
"Many ideas! But in particular, the ambitions of shattering the subject-object dichotomy of Western philosophy, and a flowing philosophical ground. Also, a fetish for early Greek philosophy. Don't act surprised. I'm talking about the pre-Socratics."
"Where Being only shows its truth. I see now. I hadn't thought of that before. You say he ripped off other ideas too?" I wondered what else these two giants of philosophy could share.
"Well not as much ripped off as borrowed and forgot to return. I once borrowed Schopenhauer's pistol and sold it when I hit a rough patch. Chalk it up to the Eternal Return of bad Karma. "
"Well then, maybe you would care to join me in my mission to uncover the truths of Being & Time?" I asked, encouraged by Nietzsche's returning vigor, and somewhat unsurprised that he stole from Schopenhauer. Now there's an even bigger asshole.
"Certainly. Let us go forth and find this terribly serious Oedipal son of a bitch!" he exclaimed.
And thus we did, marching resolutely to the Prussian militant beat, to sally ever deeper into the conceptual labyrinth of Being and Time. Exhausted, but with a glimmer of Hope. Tho arational puzzles and other torturous devices await, there is a scent of wisdom in Heidegger, and there is faith in me and my newfound companion that I shall solve this maze!
“Winter is coming” and it has arrived on HBO with the grand ambitions of the novel and the visceral promise of television. The first episode of the new HBO series, Game of Thrones, dispelled a lot of my ambivalent feelings about having my all-time favorite series from the fantasy genre being adapted into television format.
Being stoked by the pre-show hype for the past two weeks, I convinced a friend familiar with neither the genre nor the series to record the early HBO show so we could watch it together. A few pauses and some brief exposition was required to help him keep up with the two dozens of characters, so I realize that the show may be too taxing for the newcomer, but this should be less of a problem as the season rolls on and each character gets more facetime to themselves.
Within the first 10 minutes there are two beheadings, and throughout the show there’s plenty of rutting and screwing. Zod bless HBO, and bless George Martin for grounding his fantasy world with realism in a medieval era. The episode is basically expository, where two houses meet together in one giant feast and the King of the 7 kingdoms Baratheon offers Lord Stark the role of the Hand of the King, and on another continent, across the Narrow Seas, the deposed royal family Targaryens scheme to retake the throne by having the sister Daenerys married off to a warlord.
Sean Bean successfully plays against type as the noble Lord Stark. But Peter Dinkleage has the juiciest role as Tyrion Lannister, thanks to some of the sauciest lines this side of Lord Henry. I was also struck by Emilia Clarke’s performance as the terrified bride Daenerys, and I hope she has the required inner strength the role will require.
The story doesn’t really pick up until the last ten minutes, so it might not have been enough to recruit new viewers, weaned on far less challenging fare like Spartacus or Tudors, where they could afford to miss a few lines here and there. Game of Thrones will punish you for missing anything because every line and scene is full of allusion and foreshadowing.
I’ve finally found a new TV show to follow, and now 2011 won’t be a total loss without Mad Men.
Nameless sage: To be chosen... but nothing predestined us of this condition. We tried to control history, in order to escape & exceed it, but we sunk even deeper into it. Lost all chance of ever rising to metaphysics or sacred destiny, we foundered in a magnificent, yet futile drama, without enigma or enlightenment, one which, leaving the politician & philosopher indifferent, interests only the historian.
Whosoever chooses time is absorbed by it & buries his originality within. One is chosen, one becomes so - neither by purpose nor by edict.
Our penchant for utopia is merely a vague memory projected into the future - a vestige converted into an idea. But it’s our fate - as we aspire to paradise - to create dystopias.
Cartaphilus: Despair is deeper than doubt. That is why kaeli suffers worse than than I do.
Thoth: If death was the only absolute that couldn't be doubted, then doubting immortals like us are paradoxical.
Cartaphilus: Yet we're not truly tragic because doubt is far less intense than despair. Through despair, Kaeli suffers more intensely than I do with my doubt.
Thoth: Abstract doubt involves only a part of ourselves and occurs more often....
Cartaphilus: Despair on the other hand involves completely and comes from the deepest well. The most serious form of doubt hardly begin to touch the intensity of despair..
Thoth: Skepticism is for the superficial & dilettante. We smile contemptuously at everything but we will continue to eat, sleep and breed without giving it a second thought.
Cartaphilus:For Kaeli, whose depth cannot be understood by anyone, except those who also despair. Any act requires tremendous effort. Sleep is no longer a right. Her despair doesn't allow the tragedy to be forgotten, for she will always remember the painful actuality of subjective torment.
Thoth: Doubt is nothing but discomfort about problems and objects, and it comes from the fact that big questions are not answered. Once they are, we return to normal.
Cartaphilus: Despair is indifferent to problems, even if they're solved, for Kaeli
Cartaphilus: How do you determine something has become decadent?
Thumos: With an excess of moral judgment and an exaggerated, romantic estimation of the past.
Cartaphilus: [smile] Not everything can be solved psychologically. Perhaps the more objective answer is where new ideas come from. If they are imported from somewhere else, then that city, nation, world has begun to sink into decadence.
Thumos: I would distinguish between decadent and decadence. One is a judgment, and the other, an age.
Cartaphilus: Because of its stagnation, Teotihuacan is flooded with transplanted doctrines.
Thumos: You may have a point. Rome declined once it began to import foreign ideas.
Cartaphilus: Teotihuacan can no longer create new religions or uphold its decaying mythologies...
Iz'rael: No. Fate will take care of that. We are all always proceeding from one forfeiture to the next.
Kaeli: Why should I listen to you?
Iz'rael: When I was young, I had the elder gods to initiate me. They helped me disengage from my illusions. Without them I would never endure the centuries. By imposing their bitterness, they prepared me for my own.
Kaeli: Great. Wisdom as a bitter pill.
Iz'rael: We gods were exceedingly ambitious and ready to conquer. But only failure awaited us....