Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Or Not.

Anyone who kills me will have to answer to me in hell.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Results are all, aren't they?

The life I want to live ends in death.

shit happens.

But we can make different shit happen.

Human agency. It's a miracle.

"Define sane," Pt.3

~ This post is a part 3. There was also a part 1, wherein I laid out a basic definition of sanity: sanity is the ability to see reality and act appropriately. And there was a part 2, which considered the role of mental illness, which part one had omitted entirely. For good reason, as it turns out! And part 2 is there to explain why. ~

~ Part 3 is basically me pasting a comment of mine in response to reader Jen's question under part one: what about when society is insane? I just came across it and thought hey! A couple of edits and post. Easy content! Thanks, Jen. ~


An English teacher of mine in High School used to "blow our minds" by saying shit like "Sometimes insanity is the only sane response to an insane world."

In fact, the only sane response to an insane world is sanity. It will in no way help you to manage insane risks by either A) pretending that you, too, are irrational, or B) becoming in fact irrational. You are better equipped to survive and thrive with sanity intact. Actually, A) may be a sane option: even a fairly healthy society has us all act crazy in a lot of little ways. But acting crazy is not the same as going crazy. As you do the odd, irrational thing to placate the odd, irrational norm, your sanity will have no problem with that. Those expectations and norms are part of the reality sanity lets you see, part of the reality sanity helps you negotiate: the bedrock facts, and how to deal with society's distortions of the facts.

Sometimes, the sanest response to an insane society may be to emigrate.

Sometimes though, they've got you walled in, or held at gunpoint. In those worst, most insane societies, a sane mind is an ever more indispensable asset. Survival depends on your ability to recognize what your environment is, and discern what the appropriate (beneficial) responses to it should be. In a truly insane society, it is the sane mind that will be best able to recognize society's insane and suicidal elements for what they are. It is the sane mind that will be best able to chart the best course given the presence of the known, dangerous, harmful elements. This is little different from a hunter-gatherer devising strategies to minimize the risk of death by tiger.

The tiger is, from a human standpoint, insane. If a human acted like that, you'd call that human a psychopath! And when they're part of our reality, humanity finds nothing particularly daunting about coping with homicidal animals. Just another recognized cause of death. Just another thing to put what steps you can in place, to manage the risk. But when the homicidal animal is homo sapiens - including any organized body of homo sapiens - suddenly we agonize! Why should we?

Well, because it frustrates us that people act in irrational ways! We seem to think this is unacceptable human behavior. For no good reason, we think this. It's not the actual insanity that drives us crazy, it is that we labor and die under the delusion that humanity is, or "should be," perfectible. That's crazytalk. Humanity is animals too.

Humanity has outgrown the threat of other animals, and has become its own tiger. The course of sanity is to recognize this. Accept it, to a degree: not complacently, but as a step on the way to a stomp. Social elements can be poisonous, suicidal, homicidal, genocidal - in a word, insane. We need to accept that as a problem; we need to identify what parts of the insanity can be treated, minimized; for the parts that are beyond all treatment (at least within our current means), we need to determine the best way to negotiate those hazards.

What is our best way to do all this? To become crazy? No, to remain sane. To drop crazy expectations of a perfectible humanity and see the humanity we have for what it is, and for all that it does. To see reality, and act appropriately.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Thought of the Day: Priorities

It would be good to teach kids critical thinking before we teach them public speaking.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Bible Fanfic In One Go #1: "Creationism Style," or, "Behind-the-scenes at the Genesis Show"

SO THERE WASN'T ANYTHING.

Nil. Zilch. This went on for what was approximately forever, or might as well have been - but in actual fact it went on for what was no time at all. There was no time yet, you see. There wasn't even spacetime yet. There was not anywhere anything, any process unfolding, any position changes occurring, no distance to cross and nothing to cross it with. There was no time, and nothing whatsoever that could be timed. At least, nothing to speak of. Eternity, originally, was stasis.

There was God, is All.

Suddenly BANG! TIME HAPPENED! - and space as well, unfolding right and left and in all directions smack bang in the middle of some kind of eldritch SENTENCE: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" SHAZAM!! And there was! and it was God!

I mean, "and it was good." It wasn't God. The light wasn't God - anyway, presently they had an angel for that. But getting back to the light, God saw the light, and God was like: "I see it, and it's goooood." And in heaven, the choirs of angels began singing a weird sort of Ewan MacGregor in Moulin Rouge version of "Let It Be."

But some people just can't, you know?

And one angel in mid-song suddenly betook himself up sharply, reflecting upon God's pronouncement that it was good. This angel was the angel of light. His name was Lucifer, and he sometimes took things a bit personally. So the angel went unto God and said,

Lucifer: "No, no, there's some misunderstanding here God. I'm not good at all. I'm no good. You're wrong, God, I'm the furthest thing from good - I have these flaws, you know? Bad ones! And you may be perfect but I'm not perfect, and you're WRONG! Because I'm not good, see? You should see some of the things I imagine! I see both sides of just about everything, and I can't help but feel this...pull...this fascination with my wrong potential, and I know right from wrong of course, but I..."

God: "Do you?"

Lucifer: "Yes, yes. I do! I can tell."

God: "Wait - but didn't you just say a tick ago that I'm wrong?"

Satan: "Well...yes. I did. You are. Wrong."

God: "DAMN IT!"

Satan: "What?"

God: "Your name! Look at your name!"

Satan: "Oh hey - what the hell, what just happened?"

God: "You just changed your name. You're 'the accuser' now. No more the 'angel of light'."

Satan: "...well, I was RIGHT then. See? You were wrong! I'm not good."

God: [ disembodied infinite facepalm equivalent ] "But I didn't say YOU were good, I said LIGHT was good!"

Satan: "Well... there's a flaw there, surely. Didn't you create me to be good? How then can I fail to be good, unless your creation was an imperfect creation?"

God: "What is this 'perfect' crap all you angels keep harping on? I said it was GOOD. I didn't say it was perfect. Anyway, I was talking about the light! YOU, on the other hand, can freely choose to be good or to be evil! That's for you to say."

Satan: "...Well, I always sort of thought you WERE talking about me, when you were talking about the light."

God: "Oh, fine, in some sense you could say that if you want. You know I always speak in allegories. Consequence of speaking from omniscience. And when you were made, the angel of light - of course by naming you that, I was calling you good and beautiful and true like the light, but sweet Lucifer you were never limited..."

Satan: "SATAN! It's Satan now."

God: "What, you mean you prefer it?"

Satan: "Well...sure! It's kind of an act of self-creation. I've perfected myself!"

God: "That's a little...subjective, shall we say?"

Satan: "What, so YOU'RE the only one who gets to be perfect?"

God: "INFINITELY GOOD IS NOT PERFECT! What use does the infinite being have for perfect? All uses turn to mine in the end. 'Perfect' is a value judgment a finite being makes, about the fitness or excellence of a thing, relative to the purpose the finite being has assigned to it. Perfection pertains to a limited purpose."

Satan: "You're just trying to talk your way around it. Yes or no: are you perfect or not?"

God: "From your standpoint? You tell me what you say my purpose is! Then we'll see if I'm perfect for your conception of that purpose."

Satan: "So...you're perfect, but only for your own purpose?"

God: "Perfect means nothing! All purposes work to my purpose! From where I stand, I created the universe and everything in it, and I see it, and I call it GOOD. Where did this obsession with perfection come from? I'm INFINITELY GOOD. I'd hope that ought to be sufficient for anyone."

Satan: "Not if it's not PERFECT! How can you be infinitely good if you're not PERFECT? Perfect is the best. You're supposed to at least CLAIM to be perfect!"

God: "I'm supposed. OK, perfect for whom?"

Satan: "Well, OK. From my standpoint, I guess your purpose was to create the universe and everything in it, but...you didn't create it perfectly, so..."

God: "Perfectly for what? The universe is imperfect for whose purpose?"

Satan: "Well come on. You can't really say things are fine down there are they? Look at all the blood, and...rending of meat. You've got lambs lying down with the lion, and when the lion's hungry a sheep offers itself to the lion! That sucks!"

God: "...I think it's a good system. What's wrong with it? Everything lives fully within its span, and everything offers itself up for life to go on. It's quite beautiful and even courageous if you want to look at it that way. Really though it's the most natural thing in the world to live at peace with life in fullness."

Satan: "Yes, that's all very hakuna matata but the point is - there's PAIN, you know? That can't be perfect."

God: "Are you sane? Pain is a necessary damage avoidance and warning mechanism! Look, Satan, it's a mortal world down there ok? I realize this is outside your expertise, but a mortal being needs pain. If it didn't feel pain, it'd claw its eyes out before it was old enough to see anything wrong with that. Through what their senses teach them, mortal beings get to learn as they go, and through their choices they create the self they will be."

Satan: "That's bullshit! How come I didn't get to do that?"

God: "... technically, you kind of are..."

Satan: "...and why create them mortal at all? Why not create them spirit beings, invulnerable in a paradise without pain?"

God: "You know...you may not have noticed, but we tried that already. How's it working out for you?"

Satan: "Well...OK, I see your point. It was working out fine! And a far better system! I was loving it, until I saw how many mistakes you made with the material realm."

God: "Are you really saying it's only my creation of the material realm that has caused you to turn against me, doubt my judgment, preferring yours to mine, and finally judge and accuse me - me who art all good and deserving of all thy love - of wrong, and of evil?"

Satan: "Well...actually, I admit I was already pretty fascinated with my potential for wrong even before then, but you have to admit the material realm just multiplies the possibilities...."

God: "I know. For good as well..."

Satan: "...but even up here, I was always tempted to...well, sing a SOUR NOTE!" [ impulsively SINGS ]

God: "I'm sorry, but this is too much. You're going to muck up the celestial harmonies, you need to take that sour note elsewhere."

Satan: "Not at all! Wrong again, I can compensate with my own creativity! It's an artistic decision, I'll get a bunch of other angels singing backup harmony! Or maybe not 'harmony' per se, it's more like Shoenberg, you know? Atonal. Here, check it out, I'll get a whole counterpoint going!"

God: "Ack! That sounds horrible! Get that shit out of here!"

St. Michael: [ swooping in at high velocity ] "INTRUDER ALERT! Who is this guy??!"

Satan: "Oh, hey Mike, it's me - we're trying out this new kind of singing" *OOOF*

/Satan gang-tackled out of frame

God: "Oh, Jesus."

Jesus: "...Yeeees...?"

God: "Nothing. I wasn't calling you, I was just... forget it."

Jesus: "Don't tell me YOU said my name in vain...?"

God: "Just for that, sonny...! Never mind. You just wait til' you hear this plan I've come up with."

Jesus: "FINALLY there's a plan!? Great! So does that mean everything has a specific purpose, now? One perfect purpose! God's purpose for it - without which it's not fulfilling its purpose!"

God: " ... "

Jesus: "Come on, spill! What's the plan about? Is it thrilling, dramatic, does it take us through a real arc of discovery and redemption - is it any GOOD?"

God: "Oh...don't worry. It'll be perfect."