Introduction to my blog

This blog is dedicated to many things. Firstly, I am just starting out so if you are reading this there will likely be no content as of yet and this post will soon be changed as things take form. In general, things I plan on sharing include, but are not limited to:

Poetry. My own and others.

Essays. My own and others.

Topics: Philosophy, life, religion, politics? etc

DIY

Book Reviews

hineini

I am I? You are you.
What are we?
I know.

What gives these words their sense? Do you dare say I betray them? I dare you.

But who are you? Not I? I am I.

So it seems.

But if you are you and I am I, then what makes us we?

Like a snake slithering through the grass are my words. Do they find you? I make no pretense to speak with profound lips.

But I will own my words.

Because in the profane, and in the mundane, even simple words, even rain that falls, sense goes before us, comes before us, is beyond us, escapes us, finds us.

So I ask again, I am I? Then what are you? Are we we?

But if you look at me, and I look at you, so gaze receives gaze, then we are we.

And if we are we,
then I are you,
and you am I,
when we are we.

And when we are we,
then I am I,
And you are you,
Because we are we.

Logos

When Peace entered the world,
And refused its rule of power,
Nothing could be the same.

When Sense spoke aloud,
In the clamor of violent sound,
Music was reborn.

When Beauty unveiled herself,
In the ugliness of farce,
Loveliness returned.

When Life entered death,
As deep as it can go,
Bones began to breathe.

When Meaning declared itself,
To purposeless stupid tragedy,
Absurdity was mocked.

When Eternity entered time,
In that stream of endless flux,
We were taught to dance.

When Peace entered the world,
It of course had to be broken,
What else could happen?
Does anyone understand?

Long after I can no longer recall,
The curve of your smile or lips at all,
When you are but a name and a photograph,
And the echo of your laugh has faded to quiet,
Still sometimes when I look at the moon,
Or a tree, or a cat, or some beauteous light,
I think of you, and that still makes me smile.
But I don’t know if that’s love, or forgetful delusion.

The coming of Men into the West

A poem in Heroic Couplets adapted from

JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion


There was Eru, The One, alone, in void.

Before all else, He called from song all joy.

By Themes He wove Valar’s songs into tune,

But Melkor’s pride brought discord in too soon.

Yet warning gave the rest true hope through fear,

That treachery, most vile, would not endure.

For Eru spoke warning and they did know

That fates’ good course would not be overthrown.

“No theme without first source traced back to me

Shall long endure, or change mine own, but be,

An instrument of mine strong will alone,

Of greater things more wonderful, unknown.”

Thus History, long-winded song, did move,

But never could Melkor’s anger be soothed.

In time, through lies, First-Borne, he did estrange.

The Trees of Light with aid he did then drain.

The Old Spider, allied with him did flee,

Veiled in Unlight, such that no one could see.

And with them took stolen jewels of light,

The Simarils, Elves most beloved birthright

First-Borne, they left, in anger and in pride,

The theft of Simarils they’d not abide.

And cursed they were, for haste begot evil,

and lost were they, that most high noble People.

Thus vigil held in Valinor of thought,

Resolved to make Melkor’s plan come naught.

For lands were dark there and beyond the seas,

And only stars were left by which to see.

Silver flower, the last, from the White Tree,

They used that night’s darkness would flee

First went the moon on virgin course above,

And though sundered, as sign, the elves did love.

And Fiery fruit, the last, from Golden Tree,

Was set to course such that all could then see.

Thus leapt the Sun upon the Sky at last,

The time of Man’s long sleep had come to pass.

For woke then Man to see the sky alight,

When came the dark, no fear, no hate of night.

For silver gems littered the skies expanse,

While moonbeams filled their minds with first romance

The day and night, Moon and the Sun’s great dance,

Reckoned by days, the age then did advance.

And at the Sun’s rising Man’s Age had come,

And fade would elves, to time they would succumb.

And Ancient Fire, given to light their hearts,

Made them alive, supplied their soulish part.

And fire above made lands alive below,

And many things, in light did start to grow.

Then fell the rain, and sang its song, the first,

And streams did run to quench the land’s deep thirst.

Message was sent by water’s song in stream,

And stirred their love, but why, they could not dream.

The were alone, their tribes set in far East,

And there they met Dark-Elves and gained first speech.

But on they went, in dealings of their own,

New words they made, and songs did they then form.

The Second-borne, destined to rule and die,

Distinct blessing: to Earth they were not tied,

Mortality, though called Sickly, by elves,

Their fate was good: evil it did not know.

By foot they spread in joy of the peaceful morn,

And learned of song and light in youth unworn.

Like dew fallen on grass and leaf below,

Their joy was spread to lands they did not know.

But oh! Morning is short, as lives of men,

And none did guess how hate should enter then.

For in the dark, vile spies on them did watch,

And news of them troubled Morgoths’s dark heart.

Then Morgoth came in black of night encloaked,

Primordial fear and terror he evoked,

And lies he sowed, subtle and vile alone;

Without a guide their hearts darkened as stone.

No guard would come, nor help at all for them,

Forevermore, to dark they were condemned.

They learned to hate, they learned to fear and fight,

Begrudged their gift, for want of longer life

But hope there was, for Morgoth could not stay,

Errands other, brought the Dark Lord away.

But in their hearts, they bore the weight of him,

Whose lies would grow, making their future grim.

Knew they no rest, nor peace they knew, again,

For in the night, their hearts had been darkened.

Thus West some went, to chase the setting Sun,

Fearing the dark would make their lives undone.

When Westward over mountain pass they’d come,

They sang for joy, since they had journeyed long.

There Finrod heard, ancient king of Noldor,

And wondered at their tunes, unheard before.

So while they slept, he snuck amongst their throng,

And plucked a harp, and they’d awake ‘fore long,

All thought this elf a dream’s vision unreal,

Bewitched by song, beauty unparalleled.

When long he’d stayed, they learned each other’s tongues,

And friendships made that’d last for years to come.

Women and Men would soon flood over pass,

And ancient king would lead them forth at last.

And dark with them went on their sickly curse,

And quickly over lands they would disperse.

They’d tell no tale of paths wandered before,

For on they looked, behind forgot, once more.

“‘A darkness lies behind us’ Beor said ‘and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in  thought. Westward our hearts have been turned, and we believe that there we shall find light.’”

JRR Tolkien-The Silmarillion

A long, unedited, rambling post on sex, polyamory, epistemology, theology, and marriage

A great quote:
 
“…if knowledge is not metaphorical sexuality, then there can be no knowledge in actual sexuality.”
 
A long rambling commentary:
 
when we no longer believe that to know the truth is to be in the truth, when we no longer believe that the truth is something beyond representation which we participate in (just the same as beauty can never be reduced to mechanical reproduction-even with photography as any good photographer knows), when we no longer see truth as something which erotically draws us towards itself, then sexuality itself becomes a logical impossibility. All we are left with are bodies and an unreachable interior mind insulated from otherness; secure and dead. To prefer such a solipsism is to turn all sex into masturbation, all love into vanity, all art into a mirror, all knowledge into pragmatic delusion. If we are a mere mind and not altogether also a body, if we do not know by being possessed by the truth which is always greater than ourselves and therefore mysterious, if we do not commune with nature, our fellow man, and God, sex itself becomes impossible. In this way religious faith does not look down on the body, or sexuality, it praises them beyond all secular attempts to by providing the metaphysical foundation of their very possibility (attested to by the experience of lovers). Secular accounts of sexuality alongside those religious traditions which have adopted the presuppositions of secularity in the west, presupositions such as the division between mind and body and a theory of knowledge which does away with the erotic (for any christians reading this, this theologically means the over-emphasis on agape and never eros) waver between seeing sex as a carnal act to be either regulated or liberated. But in either case it is seen as an energy which is essentially irrational, anarchic, and therefore dangerous, either for the powerful to manipulate or for the weak to let run amok. I would argue, in opposition to all this, that, as Milbank says, rationality itself is erotic, and because of that, that sexuality is possible and noble. Passion need not be suppressed, only directed. When done so with fidelity, this ecstaticism leads to a greater stoicism than can be pretended to by merely suppressing one’s desires. Desires ordered in an interpersonal (and never merely contractual) gift exchange between persons of persons allows for this, but demands specificity, for to not be faithfully specific in ones erotic commitments is like being unfaithful in one’s intellectual commitment to truth. Why? Because the erotic pursuit of knowledge (communion with truth) has truth as its goal. The erotic pursuit of a person must therefore have communion with their person as a goal. To open up to an anarchy of commitments (while it may be an appropriate, though too large of a, reaction to viewing sexual commitment in contractual terms) is to deny the identity giving end of sexual desire, by which I mean how a person is themselves only by the giving of themselves and receiving back (in communion) a different other in a dance of mutual affirmation that is neither violent nor appropriates difference. This dance with otherness is what gives stable identity to persons and is what allows for the valuation of specificity. We are most ourselves when we desire to be united with another which is not ourselves, that is, to lover them for themselves as themselves valuable, therefore inciting a loving desire which is giving, not possessive, and if the other does the same, then there is love. This is the ideal description of marriage, inevitably therefore tied to sex, but more importantly demanding the involvement of the entirety of a person without remainder. If there is remainder, than there is no communion, and sex remains interior subjects masturbating with breathing sex toys (I’m being rhetorical, obviously there can be degrees as TV shows like to play with, such as in the trope of the playboy who falls in love). The question therefore becomes if one can offer their entire person to multiple people? The answer is of course no because our identity is interpersonally constituted. Yet, I seem to have contradicted myself. For I have also insinuated one can commune with nature, and in fact that all knowledge is erotic communion with an otherness where to know is to be within something not oneself and only by that be oneself (else we have the Cartesian interiority which renders knowledge of anything but oneself, and therefore sex with anything but oneself impossible). So it seems we can be constituted by not only our relations with a lover but also the trees. Why not other people? We may leave our mothers and fathers when we marry, but we remain in the family, in the tribe. We will always have been birthed from our mothers. Am I truly less of a son by being more of a brother? Some degree of ordering dissolves this problem. It will always be more appropriate to be more loyal to one’s immediate family than their tribe. And yet why is this? Are we not called (at least as Christians) to make all of humanity our kinsman? The reason I would argue, is the reality of the value of those before us. People are focal points of worth, not to be loved for the benefits they give but for what they are. It is therefore self serving (in a self negating way-as all evil is, and this is the true meaning of the word sin) to not love those who stand in natural relation before us because we would rather have someone else, someone ‘better for us’ (a euphemism for better sex object most of the time). So while all are our kinsman, while everyone may be our neighbor, not everyone lives next door. I refuse all explanations for monogamy on purely pragmatic grounds which also presuppose an initial wickedness in need of suppression, but there are also pragmatic arguments to be made in response to danger. For humans rarely love purely, and most often desire possessively (so much so that the possibility of dispossessive desire is ruled out in Buddhist thinking – to reach enlightenment is to no longer be a corporal human or even have an individual consciousness, not a desirable state, a state beyond desire, and a contradiction since it supposes an individual can stand in the place of the universal). Given we often desire wrongly, I question whether it is possible to desire the whole of multiple others for themselves as themselves in their specificity, and not rather as add-ons building up one’s own ego, even if to a lesser degree than the prowling playboy with his mask hiding insecurity. That sounds too much like the regulation of wickedness to me though. I have wondered about whether Eden would have been like a hippy commune without the risk. I suspect not, but I don’t know enough to take these thoughts all the way through, and I don’t want to force it like I know more than I do, or seek arguments for a pre-formed conclusion. I do know that ‘perfect love casts out fear’ and that therefore we need not be afraid to love radically. But love is always specific because it loves the goodness in something specific, not a general idea not a projection of one’s own ego. Can you love more than one thing then? Certainly you can love different things in different ways (a tree vs your mother, with an obvious hierarchy of worth involved) and you can love different things in the same way at different times (getting remarried perhaps) But I’m not convinced one can love different things in the same way at the same time (not in as much as the erotic, matrimonial love I am describing is idealized as involving one’s whole person in communion with another’s whole person, even though there is always the mysterious remainder native to difference). That means, for those who chose to remain abstinent, in as much as we take consummation seriously (only possible if you maintain the link between sex and procreation-not an argument against contraception btw, but some do use this line of reasoning to argue against gay marriage, wanting to have civil partnerships in its place, an argument I am sympathetic towards), it is less about not having sex before marriage, and more along the lines of sex is marriage, or is rather coterminous with it; the physical communion of which a lifetime of faithfulness and emotional intimacy is the spiritual element of communion of love about which I have been speaking. This is why make love is not a euphemism for ‘have sex’, this is why ‘to know someone’ is not a euphemism for sex, sex rather, does not exist neutrally as sheer act, but is those things, which all together is what makes a marriage a marriage.

 

Truth by Poetry (beyond naive divisions between poetry and philosophy)

Truth is never reached without poetry, for the poet is the impassioned philosopher. And without passion, there is no relation to, no dance with, something external and in reserve. As such, dispassion pretends to internally hold the object of knowledge it seeks to know, which is a contradiction, and a grave arrogance. For if clear ideas dispel passion, they also can dispel with the essence of the the object, that is, the knowledge of its being. We are, first of all, finite beings, and thus can only understand by passion.

But knowledge by passion is not a mere concession to our limited resources nor a subtle trick appeal to mystery (as if mystery were a trick and not an invitation), for neither more information nor more a more formalized account could theoretically complete our understanding. Rather, it is necessary condition of knowledge, otherwise there is only solipsism. And no solipsistic mind could know anything, not even of itself, because knowledge is always a relation. A knower and a known. A monad by definition is non-relational.

This relational view of knowledge is why the Trinity is sensical. In fact, it is the only sensical conception god since it, by its very incomprehensibleness, provides the only tenable model for how knowledge is even possible, because it makes the base of reality pure relation, though also unity. It is for this very reason that poetry cannot be summarized (the heresy of paraphrase) but only apprehended as the manifestation of something withheld. It is not a summary, but a culmination. Not a statement or listing, but an artifact suitable for contemplation. But it is also not a problem to be solved or disected, but an invitation. It is an inheritance of the past, a raid on the inarticulate.

I would never trust supposed lover of wisdom, some psudo philosopher, who does not have a corresponding love of the poetic, which is really just another way of acknowledging that Truth and Beauty are two and the same without reduction or equivocation.

Intersections

“History is a pattern of timeless moments”

T.S. Eliot

Approach One

The fastest speed a human has reached on foot is 27.78 mph. Stopping from that speed is well within the range of any humans ability. Anyone could stop from that fast. The reason is that runners of all speeds generally move their legs at the same rate, with force being the factor that makes one move quickly or slowly. The fastest speed that a human has reached on a bicycle however, is 83.1 mph. At that speed no person could move their legs fast enough to stop. The fastest speed a person has reached in a car is 270.49 mph. The fastest animal on the planet is the Peregrine Falcon, which can reach speeds of 242 mph. Therefore, there is no species on the planet, land, water, or air, whose biology is designed to move at the speeds reachable in a car.

That is why they invented brakes. Early car brakes were all manually powered by brute force. The first were wooden blocks that were pressed into the wheels of carriages or cars. Later as newer more advanced brakes were created, the basic principle never changed. Take your velocity, apply friction, and turn it into heat. The entropy released into the universe is eternal. Chaos increased. Car stopped.

Approach Two

Remember: you are coming off the highway. The speed you are traveling is beyond any reasonable speed for your body. The velocity of every ounce of your car must be turned into heat. You don’t think about the chaos this creates. You don’t think about the different kind of destruction that would occur if you don’t. One way or another though, your car will stop. Something will be destroyed, and physics doesn’t care if it’s you or your momentum.

Notice: driving up the off ramp, approaching the intersection, you look left out the window. They are not tinted, allowing you to see all that you pass, but not understand. How could you? There is no wind on your face… just the feel of the pedal, the lurch of the car, your hands on the wheel… Continue reading

On Story

This is from a writing class where, after watching “Tomorrowland,” we were asked to take a story and reinvent it to be hopeful. Well I hated the movie and couldn’t write to the prompt. The due date was approaching, so, late one night, a little tipsy, I grabbed a paper and the only pen I could find and this came out (well, an unedited slightly more Victorian sounding version of this came out). It reflects the almost obsessive preoccupation my mind has had on the ontological nature of stories. Are there any true stories? Are we our stories? Is it, to be Man, to be delusional?


We are all actors in the play of life. There is a Story to be told. And if you accept that (being actors) we also must have a script and a prescribed role. This may seem a trite or even cryptic observation to some, but the common saying is true: there are no small parts, only small actors. But it is also true that, just as those upon the stage, we are not compelled by any force outside of ourselves.  There may be script, but we are free to utter what we will.

And if we utter what we will? We need not say that to deviate makes us poor actors, for we may happen to steal the scene with our presumption. But another thing will also occur, which is more important. For in the end, no one can hijack the Telos of the Whole. Instead, though the Story is always in flux, what shall truly change to the greatest extent is ourselves. We shall take on new roles. Think of Judas: uncompelled he betrayed his master, but could not rewrite the plan. Forward it went unhindered, and all that was changed was he.

This is because we are not, and cannot, be the playwright. We are but actors, and though the entire world might be a stage, we are still confined to it. So then who is the master of our fate? Can we really claim to Captain our souls? Though it may be steered by the rudder, and have its course charted by the maps no ship may turn full sail in a direction the seas forbid. Like crashing waves or the pressing winds compels a ship, so too the variant forces about life compel us; just as there is both the Sea and the Captain, there is both Fate and Free-will. Continue reading

The Arrow and the Song

By: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

 

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

 

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Analysis: According to the author, this poem was “…literally an improvisation…” It reminds me of  how, in high school, when I would leave class after we had been reading Shakespeare I kept finding my thoughts would become lyrical for a short while. I suppose once one, like Longfellow, has been a poet for so long making beautiful language becomes natural, just like a physical craft. It also reminds me that much poetry really is meant to be read aloud.

Another thing about this poem is that, not for lack of meaning or profundity, but by the skill of the poet, little needs to be said or dissected to understand and be affected by it. In my last poetry class I was required to expound on all the minutiae of “The Arrow and the Song” in a verbal presentation and then turn in a paper saying what I had learned and how I thought I did etc. The problem was that this poem doesn’t need any of that. The process taught me nothing, but Longfellow did.

I understand that there is a difference between understanding a poem and understanding how the poet achieved the poetry, but sometimes all that analysis does is obfuscate. Especially when a poem, as with this improvisation, so succinctly and clearly communicates.

I say, just read the poem, because I have nothing to add to it.