This may be all over the place…

November 6, 2008 - 8 Responses

by pegleghippie

So recent events (the election last night, playing guitar hero tonight) have crossed with my philosophy classes in my mind to form some ideas that I want to sort out.  I will do my best to connect the ideas in some way, but no promises.  I’m telling myself I’m writing this for an audience because I think they’ll find it interesting, but there’s just as much of a chance that I’m writing this to talk to myself, in a way (sorry, I’ve been reading about deconstruction, and ever since I’ve had the nasty habit of deconstructing whatever I’m writing as I’m writing it.  I’ll do my best to refrain from here on out.)

Anyway, first a take on my favorite obscure philosopher, Bataille.  Specifically his view of consciousness.  Normally I don’t like the consciousness debate, but his views lead to some fun philosophy.  Bataille was a fan of the “pre-reflective consciousness,” also known as “lack of self-awareness,” or as he termed it, “theopathy.”  What he was talking about is traditionally understood as the idea of a mystical experience, like zen, or transcendence, or buddhist enlightenment.  

I don’t mean to sound like i’m spreading woo. All through history people have found themselves feeling connected to things greater than themselves, to the point where they stop self-analyzing and just interact with the experience.  Similarly, people have spent lifetimes trying to get back to that experience, and often tied the experience into the supernatural.  Supernatural causes weren’t really what Bataille was into, instead he found these moments in deviant sexuality, like BDSM, but also in simple things, like smoking a cigarette, or taking a coffee break.  

I break from Bataille in a few ways.  First, why is this state is so important? I’ve had plenty of “transcendent” moments in life, some purposeful and as Sometimes accidental.  Sometimes its meaningful, sometimes it is just fun. At the same time there are plenty of moments where I really enjoy being self-aware.  Consciousness, much of the time, is pretty sweet!

Second, I think that maybe this is a matter of degree.  You’re aware of yourself, but you don’t have to think about your heart, or you liver.  Unless something goes wrong, in which case your awareness has expanded. I guess that isn’t so sweet.  But this illustrates where I’m going with the degree thing.  

Stick with me here.  Imagine the pre-reflective state of mind, going along its own business, fitting into the pattern of some larger whole.  Suddenly, something appears to the consciousness that doesn’t fit the pattern.  Like getting heart burn, suddenly the consciousness has to account for something that is just weird, something that takes an analysis to deal with.  If the pre-reflective consciousness is to successfully account for the discrepancy, it will have to define itself in relation to the discrepancy.

Ok, now imagine yourself, everything you are aware of, and everything around you that you are not aware of.  You’re self aware, but you aren’t aware of your intestines, because your intestines fit a larger pattern.  When something starts to hurt, you analyze things so you can experience a more comfortable level of awareness.

I’m going to leave the different levels behind now.  This is where things get strange, but at the same time I don’t think I’m writing anything you don’t know here.  The intestine pain isn’t really without a pattern.  It’s not random, it has a cause, say evil bacteria, and fits into a larger pattern of Earth’s biology that is just too complex for the human mind to fully recognize.  A self-aware consciousness is just a consciousness capable of admitting that the pattern we think we are a part of is just a simplification of larger, more complex patterns.  

I thought of this playing guitar hero (I know, I know, I should be studying).  Think of a beat in a song.  now imagine a guitar playing along with the beat.  Suddenly, the guitar plays something quick, something that doesn’t seem to fit the beat, just for a moment.  Of course, if it’s a well written song, it does fit into the overall math of the music.  But it gets our attention because we’re experiencing the beat, and we don’t imagine that the songwriter planned anything more complex than that.  

Now to the next level: to go with the following example, Say maybe we pick up an instrument, or learn some musical theory, and then the change in the song doesn’t surprise us anymore.  This would mean that the pattern we’re experiencing is more complex than before, we’ve expanded our pre-reflective consciousness.

So the reflective consciousness allows us to expand the range of our pre-reflective consciousness.  It’s a cyclical relationship, both feeding the other, and oftentimes both go on simultaneously.  Should we see one as the goal?  I don’t think so.  Maybe it’s important to know the difference between analyzing something and experiencing something, but I don’t think we should be so dualistic about the two concepts.  

I may have had a transition to this next part when I started this, but I’m not seeing it now.  Oh well, you get two posts in one!  Don’t worry, this part is shorter.

Now, a word on Democracy.  I’ve long wondered why we don’t qualify democracy as simply a political committal of the ad populum fallacy.  Ad populum, for the record, is the fallacy of arguing that a position is correct because lots of people hold that position.  The problem is, of course, that all those people can be wrong.  Importantly, even everyone ever could be wrong about a position.  So we appeal to a different set of standards.  

Democracy, at its most basic, involves asking everyone what side of a position they think is right, and then taking action based on which side has the most people behind it.  It’s like the perfect illustration of the ad populum fallacy.  As long as we’re talking about right and wrong, I don’t see any way around it, really.  Democracy is inherently illogical.

At the same time, democratic governments are more peaceful, richer, and advance faster than any other form of government humanity has tried.  Philosophically, only an idealistic anarchy seems more equatorial, more focused on humanism, in short, more legitimate than the democratic attempt to make political decisions that benefit a polity.  Additionally, people like democracy.  If a group comes to a democratic decision, the minority may grumble, but they usually go along with the decision.  

So how to explain this divide?  We have logic so we can make smart decisions, yet our best political tool for making decisions is illogical.  

We do what good philosophers always do.  We challenge the assumptions.  A couple paragraphs back, I just described the democratic process as  “asking everyone what side of a position they think is right, and then taking action based on which side has the most people behind it.”  Why the assumption that Democracy is settling a question of right and wrong?  Can we still have democracy if we ignore questions of truth at the ballot box?

I think we can.  Instead of looking for a right, I propose that the democratic process is asking everyone what experiences, given society’s limited resources, should society pursue for its members, and in what manner, and then taking action based on which path the most people prefer.  Logic only enters into the equation for the “choosing the manner” part of things.

 Because of limited resources and limited time, we can’t afford to make universal proclamations about right and wrong. We can only compare our plans, argue and compromise about them, and, once it’s time to make a decision, use democratic machinery to pick a path.  An advantage of democracy is that since people are involved in the decision making process, previous decisions that led to unwelcome experiences serve as a feedback loop, and the next vote goes differently than the previous one.

So to sum up, the line between simple awareness and self-awareness is fuzzy at best, and Democracy isn’t logical, but we should stick with it anyway, cause it’s not about logical decisions.  Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

The Divisive Power of Religion

November 5, 2008 - 3 Responses

Or, why I hate Christians, Jews, and Muslims. (Not so much on the Muslims. They keep pretty well to themselves.) (Or the Jews really. I just hate Christians.)

This election has brought out the worst of the religious fiends. Obama is not the anti-Christ. But they’ll have you believe he is! Massive numbers of Facebook statuses out there today with hateful messages like, “I can’t believe we elected a President who doesn’t believe this is a Christian nation.” Newsflash! America is much more than a Christian nation. It’s a Christian nation and a Jewish nation and a Muslim nation and an atheist nation and a gay nation and straight nation and yes, you’ve heard Obama’s 2004 convention speech before.

Somehow, though, the religious fundamentalists will still turn such a progressive and ground breaking election into a spectacle of hate. Mongering about anti-Christs and Christian Nations prompted me to start some arguments with them about how wrong they are. Needless to say, their first proposition was woefully unprepared, as they had nothing to say to back up the point that he was indeed the opposite of their lord god. (caps intended.)

And when confronted about the Christian Nation part? I bluntly told them that they do not live in a Christian nation, and repeated the Obamamantra from a paragraph ago. (About the multi-ethnic melting pot that is this cesspool of hatred and intolerance we call America.) A majority of them, here in the deep south of Texas, actually responded with this.

“Yeah, so we bring them to Christ!”

Seriously??

It’s not your job to convert us lowly heathens. We’ve made our choices. You’ve made yours. Stop converting people. If they want it, they’ll let you know.

Jesus.

Pun intended.

I mean, what force has been more destructive than the Christian religion? The Crusades, the Biblical Genocides, the Spanish Inquisition, even the Holocaust (by association) were perpetrated by these almighty vicars of faith and good will. Catholic Pedophiles and Evangelist Money Launderers. Ugh. I’m so disgusted.

Atheists are the real angels. Tolerant to the extreme. God is dead, save yourselves.

Congratulations Mr. Obama! Now don’t fuck this up

November 5, 2008 - Leave a Response

by pegleghippie

Tell me if this was your experience last night.

When it was called for Obama (right after VA went for him!  Being a swing state payed off!), I first felt an immense sense of relief–Our nation was serious about being a first-world nation again, and the silliness of republicans wouldn’t be the norm anymore.

Then I felt immense pride, and humility, because I wasn’t sure the American people had it in them to vote for a black man.  Not just a black man, a progressive, multi-ethnic man with a world perspective instead of an American one.  But the American people proved to me that they weren’t the hicks and yokels that I find myself characterizing them as.

But then, THEN, I felt an enormous sense of responsibility.  The American people were trusting a guy from my side to run things.  We couldn’t be the minority that complained and critiqued from the outside once Obama got elected.  We have to get results now.

So Mr. Obama, don’t fuck this up.  There will be plenty of arenas, not to mention opportunities, to fuck up.  

Arenas like the progressive arena, where we will hold your feet to the fire constantly, and anytime you take action that isn’t to relieve suffering, we will be on you.  

Another arena, and a bigger one, is America at large.  The majority trusts you, that is, they trust us.  we can’t fail this country, especially not now.

Finally, there is the world at large.  We have a reputation to save with Europe and a continent to save with Africa.  It’s getting to the point where if we don’t do something now, the damage may be irreparable.

So right now, I still feel joy!  And I will be so pissed if the man I trusted violates that joy.

Yes.

November 4, 2008 - Leave a Response

I don’t know that there’s anything else to say right now. Yes. The man that needed to be president is finally going to be. The man we need to take us into the 21st century. The man to bring together all the nations of the world and make it a community of social and economic process.

I don’t have much to write tonight, being a bit overwhelmed by a bunch of things.

But know, this is a night of elation. 

Just can’t wait for Obama’s speech.

Attn: Lovers.

November 2, 2008 - Leave a Response

For those of you that a) are madly in love and want to be married or b) enjoy looking at great designer wedding cakes and fruit carvings….!!!

My friend and roommate, Chef Mark Flores, has just started his own business blog at http://www.culinarycompositions.com. Go check this out, he’s a very talented guy. He has a photo gallery of some of his previous works and yes, he is for hire! He’s located in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex but works in a great variety of areas so if you’re interested, drop him an email! (You can also hire me for a wedding string quartet =D)

Once again, http://www.culinarycompositions.com.

November 4th is here. Will you be successful or guilty?

October 31, 2008 - Leave a Response

November 4th. I’ve been anticipating this day for almost 2 years. My man, my candidate, Barack Obama, is holding a significant lead and shows no signs of slowing. The electoral map swings heavily in his favor. He’s had one of the most efficient, effective, and mobile campaigns ever.

Why, then, do I feel so apprehensive?

Because we know it can be stolen. It’s happened before, in 2004. That’s why it requires a landslide victory this year.

So let’s assume we get our landslide victory. God save us if we don’t, so let’s keep hope alive for a bit longer. What happens? The democrats control the executive and legislative branches of government. Three supreme court justices positions should be opening soon, allowing for the easy nomination of acceptably liberal candidates. Perhaps then, we will see social progress and economic advancement, domestic and global.

What’s left to fear? The back-to-back victories of George W. Bush haunt our memories. I hear over and over on the airwaves that ‘The Republican brand may be irreparably damaged.’ Well, from my point of view that’s a wonderful thing. We need it to be damaged. We need them ruined. No more shall the hypocritical Christian right control our social agenda. We need the Republican party to stop existing.

Corruption abounds in their little circle-jerk of theft and retheft.  Deregulation led to a bailout which enriched the shrinking number of party faithful. My mind brings up V for Vendetta, the well-timed and underestimated comic book style movie which highlighted so well this dictatotorial regime. In the end, the entire party was destroyed in the symbolic demolition of the British Parliament.

Put Barack Obama in the White House. Don’t sit at home on November 4th. You must vote, no matter where you live. I live in Texas. This state will never be anything but Republican in the electoral college.

But that little teasing thought remains… what if we turned Texas blue? The Republicans are demoralized and democrats are mobilized. Maybe this year is the year all 50 states cry out for a new path. Get out there and vote… and vote straight ticket democratic. Let’s enable Barack Obama to put this country right. Let’s get his efficiency and intelligent to use.

Please go vote. I’m begging you. Take your friends with you. Carpool there. Get everyone. Do it, because if McCain wins, you will regret it. And in 40 years when your grandchildren ask you, “Did you vote for Barack Obama?” you’ll have the pride to stand up and say you did. Just like our grandparents voted for Kennedy. It’s time… don’t fail us now.

The Importance of a lack of Difference

October 21, 2008 - 2 Responses

by pegleghippie

As you may know/may have expected, I’ve been watching the presidential campaigns closely. I’ve come to the conclusion that, given where America is today (way the fuck to the right), I can only find tiny differences between what I think should be done and what Obama has said he will do.

Don’t worry; I’m still a member of the Left, officially even (I’m still a member of the Green party and all).  But when I look at what I know of the country, it seems really, really far away from where I want it to be.  I’ll go so far as to say that America is dangerously right and dangerously authoritarian.

 From what I understand, part of the financial meltdown came from rich people coming up against a wall of not being able to earn more money; they maxed the system out.  These sub-prime loans and deregulation were a way to allow the rich to draw even more wealth out of the poor.  But because the distribution of wealth was about as upwardly polarized as possible, the system has begun to topple over from becoming too top heavy.

As to the Authoritarianism, people are afraid to speak out, to protest, to dissent.  “Free speech zones” are defended by the legal system, and the rights of some are consistently held up over the rights of all.

The danger of all this is that it isn’t sustainable.  Going this far out of the center is starting to cause real problems, and may be the beginning of the end for America.

If I were to be put in charge of this system, I couldn’t just twist a few nobs and deliver America into a Green-style government.  It would be too much too fast, and, at least at first, it would be a quicker dissemination of the country than what the right is doing now.  Even Kucinich, as a lefty democrat, would be too much change too quick.  I would take a few things that would stabilize the system, such as reforming health care, moderate tax increases to stop the upward flow, and re-integration of more-or-less “equality under the law.”  After that, I’d work for reforms to make things better without shaking things up dangerously.  It would be a big shift leftward for this country, but none of it would actually be a tactic of the left.

Enter Obama: a pragmatist, a little conservative, but pretty much espousing all the ideas that I just mentioned. Especially compared to Mccain’s asinine recent rhetoric, Obama’s rhetoric is very encouraging.  He comes across like he cares about the country, knows how to address it’s problems, and is going to have an eye out for the little guy while he’s at it.  Especially since he’s largely dropped the “reach across the aisle” stuff and has gone full on economic populist (This is pretty much because of the housing crisis, but hey look! a silver lining!).  

Things like improving education and helping people go to and pay for college will begin to pull America out of its dark age.  Universal healthcare, even if watered down, will lead to a healthier, wealthier citizenry.  Investing in environmental initiatives and our national infrastructure will make our industrial activities sustainable while creating jobs and setting us up to get about our business without worries.  None of those things involve giving the market free reign over our lives, but all of it seems necessary.  

Meanwhile, John Mccain has remained an old coot.  “He’s a socialist!” “He’s a terrorist!” “He’s a young whippersnapper!”  “Bush’s policies are too awesome, just let me behind the wheel this time!”  It’s getting silly, and a little desperate.  

So lets say that Obama gets elected and accomplishes those three domestic goals of education reform, healthcare reform, and an environmental reboot for our nation.  If he does it before his term is up, I’ll be right there calling for more action to empower the little guy and reign in corporate greed.  If he sits on his laurels, or if he finds other ways to take democrats right-ward, I may announce Obama is a sellout and there’s no hope for the Democrats in this country.  

But we aren’t there yet.  Right now, what Obama proposes and what I would do are too close for me to complain, and what Mccain proposes is a recipe for disaster.  The difference between me and Mccain is enormous, The difference between Obama and myself, right now, is miniscule.  If Cynthia Mckinney were to magically find herself as president on November 5th, I don’t see any responsible way that she could act differently than what Obama has said he would do.  Whether you’re a Green, a Democrat, a socialist, or even an anarchist, we are at a point now where all of our interests require the same leftward pull; and this election, Obama is the man to do the pulling.

Religious Thought…

October 16, 2008 - One Response

by pegleghippie

What if religions marketed themselves as experiences, rather than truth claims?  Like what if, instead of describing reality in terms of an interventionist monotheistic god, christianity was all, “churches are pretty, singing hymns is fun, and thinking about this idea will make you feel transcendent and loved?”

At no point do they have to claim that the love is true, or that the worshipper really transcended anything.  Just sell the experience.  Make bible stories (myths) parables for how to reach that experience.  If any stories don’t work, get rid of them.  If you think of a sweet new one, make it canonical.  

If you can’t tell, I’ve been reading lots of bataille. 

Imagine if Martin Luther, instead of posting 95 theses, went to the catholic church and said, “I have a new business model for you?”  If they rejected it, he would just set himself up, like he did anyway, but there’d be no need to fight a war.  Well maybe an advertising war.  “Catholicism:  The original God-high!”

Really, this is what people believe anyway when they come up with little personal religions. I don’t think too many people are so arrogant as to think they’ve stumbled onto the most accurate picture of reality, then keep it to themselves.  Of course some do claim they’re prophets, and get followers and such, and that leads to big religions.  I think all thats fine, as long as these prophets never claim to actually know anything.  Sell your asceticism, your transubstantiation, your nirvana, your piety, your sacred.  Just don’t make any pretensions about the whole thing.

Hell, people would probably start being multiple-consumers, collecting religious experiences.

My Text Messaging Debacle

October 11, 2008 - 4 Responses

This is as much for Pegleghippie when he wakes up than me… this story is too awesome for me to wait for when he signs on to AIM.

Let’s start out with the motive here; I’ve dated 4 girls in the last 4 weeks. While that may seem like shallowness that I’m bragging about, it’s really not. You’d understand if you were me, but since you’re not, it’s totally cool for you to judge me.  Alas, four great girls in four weeks. None of them have worked out but I’m thinking this most recent one I’m involved with might. (I hope she doesn’t read this blog article, haha… would that be awkward?)

Anyways, I also have an iPhone, the means for my demise. It’s a really great tool that some people will scorn because it’s popular, but hey. It’s amazingly useful, I actually DO use it for all of its features, regardless of what people may think. And it’s sexy. Girls love it, I promise you. It looks great, works great, has more utility and more awesome points than a regular phone. So don’t knock me on that, cause I will emo rage on you.

And thirdly, I have a connectivity-driven personality, a personality that has given me the opportunity to do the unthinkable. I feel a strange need to be connected to information all the time. I use Twitter for news, from CNN and from people. I use Facebook to see what events are coming up that I want to go to, or to manage my exponentially increasing social life. (Remind me to do my Music History homework!) I use news readers and blog bookmarkers and lots of email.

And I’m apparently capable of sending 5000 text messages in one month.

So this perfect storm of means, motive, and opportunity means I’ve committed a 120 dollar crime. 120 dollars in overage charges on my already expensive AT&T bill. Now, I’m not a fully independent student; I don’t have much time for a work schedule between my practice and class schedule as a Music Performance major. I’m hoping to fit some shifts somewhere in next semester with better schedule planning. But this lack of income means I depend on student loans for my bills. And my student loans are managed by my fiscally brilliant mother to whom I give all the glory. She’s a genius with money. She went from being a single mom with no kids and not enough money to put food on the table to living in a $150,000 house and driving a brand new truck and is fiscally well off.

That said, my mother would have ripped a whole in the space-time continuum to reach her fist through a hole in the temporal cloth and punched me in the face if she found out I had a 200 dollar AT&T bill. She already throws enough money at me to begin with… I feel awful about it, I really do.

BUT! My amazing powers of customer service manipulation strike again. I call AT&T and I’m on hold for 20 minutes. As soon as they pick up, I let them know just how long i was waiting and why I feel that was excessive. Politely, not rudely. They kindly apologize and I tell them I have a huge problem with my phone bill. There’s absolutely no way I sent 167 text messages a day over the course of the last month. (However, as I’ve already threshed out, I’m very capable and did… Oy.) 20 minutes, some good talk, and light-hearted banter later, I’m back down to the standard 80 dollar bill.

I nearly shat myself, folks.

“This guy’s gonna get an ass full of pipe wrench!”

October 11, 2008 - Leave a Response

this is what Aha should’ve done the firs time around.  hehe.