Ben Shapiro: In Search of White, Hot, American Machismo

As a disclaimer (because Shapiro has a law degree and probably googles himself) Ben probably did none of the things that I briefly describe in this post. I’m going through writer’s block, and I needed to do SOMETHING to get out of this rut. So Ben Shapiro, if you’re reading this (and I’m certain you will at some point), this post is my half-assed attempt at humor. If you don’t like it, you’re a public figure that’s better educated and makes more money than I ever will. You’ll get over it. Enjoy.

Welp, I’m officially out of ideas!

So what does one do when this happens? You talk about something you hate.

Now to be clear, I don’t hate Ben Shapiro. I don’t wish him ill-will, I just can’t stoop myself to those levels of wishing physical harm to someone. That’s just not my thing, you know?

But I do hate everything that has ever been said by Ben Shapiro.

Now I’m not going to lie, Ben is a smart guy. Talented, decent writer, etc. The man graduated from college at 20 and went on to Harvard Law School. You can’t be stupid and do those things. BUT, and this is probably why Ben utterly pisses me off, how could someone so smart be dedicated to something so stupid?

Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t disagree with everything that the Right has to offer. I might draw some hate for that, BUT I don’t tend to look at the world through a Right-Left spectrum. The reason I don’t identify as “conservative” is because, at least in America, conservatism is tied up with religious fervent. So even if their conclusions are sometimes correct, their reasoning is almost always flawed. (The modern Left, meanwhile, appears to have correct reasoning but dipshittery conclusions.) But the Right is concerned with appealing the worst aspects of the American psyche. Even though the politicians themselves rarely openly embrace a racist or nationalist agenda, they are appealing to those instincts. So whatever “good” ideas they might possess, almost always get overshadowed by the fact that they are appealing to a religious, racist, and nationalistic agenda.

I’m amazed that politicians are still regarding the Founding Fathers as some mythical beings. Almost as if the Bible itself promised the coming of America. And even though the man has been out of office for nearly 30 years, conservative media can’t go a day without mentioning Ronald Reagan. It’s the appeal to the past, which deceives us into believing that the olden days were better days (“Make America Great Again!”), that I believe is just plain asinine. Ronald Reagan might have been nice, but the Founding Fathers were all drunken slaveholders.

If America is to be ‘great’ (whatever that means), looking to the past is just plain idiotic. The past wasn’t great. It sucked and no one wanted to live during that time.

But what does  all of this have to do with Ben Shapiro?

Great question! (And I may or may not answer it!)

If you ever type in Shapiro’s name into YouTube, you’ll find that he routinely “wacks”, “dominates”, “shreds” and just about kicks every liberal ass that he finds. Why? Because Ben Shapiro is the Chuck Norris of political punditry. If you tell him that women have the right to do what they want with their bodies, he’ll promptly tell you to SHUT THE FUCK UP.  He’s so fucking sexy, only HE can tell women what to do with their bodies.

Ben Shapiro is so tough that when he saw of kid crying because his parents couldn’t afford health insurance, he yelled at the child saying TOUGH FUCKING LOVE KID, YOUR PARENTS ARE PIECES OF SHIT! And then stole his bike and robbed a pawn shop.

So don’t FUCK WITH BEN SHAPIRO.

Don’t believe me? Watch him BODY SLAM some poor unsuspecting college student for supporting transgenderism:

Believe in white privilege? You better fucking hide your ass because Shapiro will put you in a choke hold:

Want to gang up on him? Shapiro can fucking roundhouse kick your asses into submission:

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school student or a college student, Ben Shapiro will fucking take your stupid ass downtown. So clearly he isn’t afraid of children.

On a serious note, I don’t know if I should feel sorry for Shapiro. He claims to have been bullied in school, so the only way he could presumably win fights is not through physical confrontation, but by simply using facts and rhetoric. So if anything, there’s a real anti-bullying lesson we should learn here: if you bully kids enough, they might turn into someone like Ben Shapiro.

Which  might explain his turn towards right-wing politics. Left-wing politics is more bleeding heart. You have a degree of empathy towards those less fortunate. You have to have an awareness of the injustices that permeate society and believe that something must be done about it. Conservatism, as it’s generally understood, is more individualistic and yet at the same time reinforces the old order. As long as your’re a part of the ruling class, you don’t have to have a lick of concern for those less fortunate: because (in this view) the poor just have to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

This likely explains why so many that are trapped in white American machismo are linked to the Right. It allows them to feel powerful. It makes them feel great because they became great from their own innate abilities. Not because it’s a system that favors them. Once when you’re in power, you don’t want that taken away. In a sense, aligning yourself to the Right allows you to BE a bully.

So I have no doubt that Shapiro knows a thing or two about bullies. But he might have been projecting onto the Left what he himself was feeling when he wrote Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America.

Facts don’t care about your feelings. Because feelings are for the WEAK. And the weak are easy to defeat. Which is why Shapiro likely spends so much time on college campuses.

 

 

A New Theology: Part V- Revelation

 

Okay, this is the final chapter on this subject. I promise!

There is no Good and Evil. There is only knowledge of Good and Evil.

Knowledge itself is a problematic thing. As it is sometimes thought of, there’s the knowledge we receive through the senses, or a posteriori in Kantian terms. And then there’s a priori knowledge that is not dependent on sense experience.

(Of course an infamous example of an a priori statement is “all bachelors are unmarried”…because it’s true by definition. As where the statement “all bachelors are unhappy” is an a posteriori statement because the state of unhappiness is not found in the definition of ‘bachelor’ and would require a degree of sense data to justify.)

But how could we KNOW anything about God, IF such a Being actually governs over existence?

I stated prior that if God exists outside of our phenomenological field, we can’t know anything about Him. In a nutshell, we don’t have to rely on sense experience to arrive at knowledge. It is entirely possible that we can use our intuitions to gain higher insight. Because our mental phenomenon would be the one thing we share with God, our internal truths would be far more valuable for our spiritual well-being. Therefore we don’t have to rely on ancient texts or any sort of church-supported doctrine.

We are our own church.

So now the question we must ask ourselves is: how can we access and isolate this knowledge?

Perhaps not without controversy, Gnosticism as generally defined spoke of this “secret knowledge” that could liberate the “Divine Spark” within each person. This Spark is, I suppose, not necessarily a ‘soul’ that exists independent of God, but is actually a part of God Himself. So we all have access to God because WE ourselves ARE God. However, unlike the Gnostic tradition of frowning upon material existence, the physical world is a part of this Divine structure.

This means endorsing a pantheistic-like theology. Or, as I like to think of it, affirming a Spinozist-like God, where all substance IS made up of God. To clarify, not that God and material substance are the same thing, but that material substance (and indeed ourselves) are just modes of this Divinity. And each individual is a SPECIFIC mode, meaning that no two people share the exact same representation. Our internal revelations are specific to US, and only we have access to them. If we are to engage this Divine Spark, we must conduct rigorous reflection.

But does this Spark need to be liberated?

Is liberation what we are really seeking? Can we escape a material existence? The answer to the latter question is seemingly ‘no’. Because the material structure is embedded into our mode, an escape would be apparently futile. The only way “out” would not mean to retreat into “otherworldly” pursuits, but to find acceptance in this physical existence. Our demiurge-like deceptions (or the processes of the mind) tell us that we are in discord with nature, or we are not a part of it at all. We shouldn’t seek refuge from nature, but to engage this Spark, we must find our accord within material reality.

And material reality is not, as understood by human nature, a series of distinct causes and objects…but one continuous flow. If we consider Adam and Eve, and their fall from unity with God and Nature, their “knowledge” prompted them to view the world as a struggle between our nature and the Will of the Universe. This myth shouldn’t be considered a “true account” of the fall of man, but is instead a symbol of mankind’s attempt to rise above their nature.

Within us, are a set of truths which reveal something TO US. We don’t have to seek divine knowledge from a church, a priest, or even ancient scripture. Whatever we seek, we can find within ourselves, provided we are listening. When or where knowledge might reveal itself cannot be “predicted” I’ll say, so it requires us to remain ever conscious of reality. This Spark can be ignited at any moment. Provided we are in-tune with with this flow of reality, we can become enlightened at any moment.

This is why it’s important to not shut our minds off to certain ‘philosophies’, for a lack of a better description. It doesn’t mean to endorse those views, but it does mean to allow lessons and teaching to flow into your mind. Even ideas that are wrong, might reveal a shred of knowledge that was previously unnoticed. Ideas that support evil must also be examined, so that we may not venture down that path again. We cannot simply look the other way when knowledge and conceptions that contradict our worldview is presented. To combat problems, we must face them head-on. That’s the only path to find growth and acceptance within this ever-changing universe.

We deny the capabilities granted to us. We ignore the power of logic and reasoning, and just how powerful they are at presenting revelation. For a good part of life, we remain unconscious of our activities, non-curious about the reality around us. In short, we take life for granted.

But we don’t need a clergy to do our thinking. The great thinkers of antiquity have no greater insight into the universe than what we have. Whatever tools they used to arrive at their truths are available to us. We just need to empower ourselves, and engage our understanding to light our Divine Spark.

In summary, I’ve combined several philosophies and religions. Why? In short, because I can. But it has always bothered me to find people seeking inspiration from some charismatic source. Sources that are clearly just trying to sell books or peddle bullshit to the masses. And while ancient texts certainly contain nuggets of wisdom, those texts were written for an audience of a certain time. It’s the glorification of the past, and this false belief that the ancients were smarter than us, that is in fact HARMING us. Whatever tools they had, we can argue that we have better ones. But knowledge and inspiration isn’t limited to the ancient philosophers and the charismatic, it is embedded in all of us. We just have to open our minds to see it.

A New Theology: Part IV- The Gnostic Lens

The reality is that I write A LOT. I’m sure this New Theology seems somewhat perplexing. That’s understandable. But this is only my musings on how to rethink normal theology. I don’t know if it will make sense, and frankly I don’t care it does. To me, philosophy is supposed to be challenging and daring. Through it, we are to find our own voice. And I believe that I have found that by entertaining this New Theology.

I doubt that I’ve constructed any sort of consistent “theology”, if you will. In the post regarding stoicism, I stated that passiveness is not a virtue. If we want to extend that out, I suppose we could argue that we should engage in the physical world rather than remain a mere passenger. Therefore, this allows us to create our own paths and maximize our “freedoms”.

And there are many variations that we could derive from that maxim. Yet I suppose that some might see it as an endorsement of the material world. Even though the skeptic within me wishes to err on the side of materialism/physicalism as the basis of all reality, the human side of me doesn’t want to reduce it to that end. As I’ve joked before, “I want to deny physical reality.” And as the history of knowledge has shown: we cannot wholly trust our senses and methodologies to arrive at “truths”. Old scientific systems get replaced by new ones,we find more truths buried under established truths, etc. Yet our inductive methods of learning the world are the best tool we have. And if we wish to discredit this tool, we have to apply more inductive research. Additionally, the senses we use to construct methodologies of research and understanding are notoriously misleading.

How we developed our sense of phenomenological perception is presumably due to evolution adapting us to a set of noumena (or the Kantian “things-in-themselves). It’s entirely possible that a different set of “intelligence”, which developed at a different part of the universe, would have a completely different phenomenological experience. And therefore having a different set of maths, sciences, etc. If ants grew to take over the world instead of us, would they have arrived at the same conclusions we have?

It appears that we are being “deceived”. We don’t actually have “true knowledge” of the real world.

Now I don’t want to venture off into the mystical, and then say that we are being actively deceived by some demonic force. But if I may steal some Gnostic terminology, our phenomenological field is our own “demiurge”; a misleading characterization of the things-in-themselves. Our perceptions may reveal qualities of the noumatic reality, but are not full and complete representations. EVEN THOUGH they are presented that way. And our minds appear to be limited by this demiurge. Any knowledge that we may receive should be questioned, or at least not taken at face value. I would even venture to say that we can apply that logic to, well…logic itself.

Now clearly we are coming across a MAJOR problem. The only way to refute the methodologies of the mind is to USE the methodologies of the mind. If we have to accept this, we might as well stop doing philosophy because it will reveal nothing real to us. So out of a lack of a better argument, I’ll just ignore this fact.

BUT, we can apply this line of skepticism down to traditional theology. If God exists, and there are things that we can know about Him, then we would have learned those things through our demiurge (i.e. our mind). And our mental capacities, as previously demonstrated, are fallible. Whatever supposed “facts” that we learn about God (either through ancient scripture, logic, or even empirical evidence!), we can question its validity. So whatever God or deities that might exist independent of perception would presumably go above and beyond any sort of human comprehension. A being that is not bound by our phenomenological existence would simply be…unfathomable. Therefore, in all likelihood, whatever information that WE HAVE received about God would be false or misleading regarding the totality of His existence.

Again, no demonic or mythical force is necessary here. Our minds simply act as our demiurge. And because of our finite and fallible capacities, it is likely that we are “cut-off” by a mind independent reality. And so we have yet to escape Kant’s philosophical conclusions: we don’t have knowledge of things-in-themselves. We are essentially “cut off” from God. Therefore there’s little sense in speculating about His existence.

UNLESS, we take certain presumptions about the capabilities of God. Namely, that God is capable of OUR phenomenological capabilities. Or, more specifically, our abilities “branch” out of His. If we are to take a physicalist/materialist assumption (and say that our minds are generated from a material substance) we could argue that, out of God branched out material substance. Or, perhaps more importantly, God is embedded into reality. The material world IS God. This would mean embracing a near (or total) pantheistic or panpsychic view of the universe.

Therefore, the demiurge-like deception lies not in the material world, but by providing an illusion that God is “out there” rather than “right here”…that God is somehow not a part of His creation.

I suppose we can say there’s an almost Manichean-like duality that permeates physical reality. This isn’t a battle between the material world and a supernatural world of ideas, but the struggle itself is firmly embedded into perceptual existence. And we directly take part in this battle. BUT (and here’s where I might completely derail if I haven’t already) this duality only exists within human consciousness. “Good and Evil” are the constructs of the mind. Obviously. And exact definitions of these two extremes vary among cultures. But, if I may make an assumption about all of humanity, such demarcations are made by all peoples. Somewhere, somehow, these two polar extremes become separated. Such constructions may have always existed within high-functioning minds. And if that were the case, is unification the end objective?

Again, I’m falling into a Hegelian-like argument that I wish to avoid. There isn’t an end objective for all of history. Good and Evil are not thesis and antithesis, which will later be synthesized. Instead it’s through our deceptive minds that such distinctions get made. It isn’t a case of HOW to unify, it’s a case of how to get RID of Good and Evil.

Mich has been made about mankind’s fall into damnation…how we somehow fell out of accord with nature. Perhaps the most famous mythical account is that of Adam and Eve: Once unified with nature, but through deception, they ate of the tree of knowledge and all subsequent generations were DAMNED. This burden of knowledge has been both our blessing and curse. Instead of living in accordance with nature, we’ve made ourselves a beast above it: dividing our knowledge into extremes…forever separating it into distinct phenomenological events. On and on this goes, with no end in sight.

It’s not as simple as turning back the clock. The knowledge we have gained cannot be put back into Pandora’s Box. It has become an extension of who WE ARE. So we could argue that this knowledge should not be forsaken. But because of our self-delusion, we have failed to understand what we DO know. We perceive the world as distinct and separate objects, and that they hold no relation to one another. So we ourselves have become distinguishable from nature. Clearly, to move past this barrier…the barrier must be removed.

A consistent theme with this “new theology” is the flowing stream of the universe. I’ve said previously that it was flowing FORWARD in time, yet it could be flowing in all directions. Yet our perceptions might only reveal a “forward only” direction (which may or may not conflict with traditional physics). But we apply division to physical reality because evolution needed to help us navigate a mind-independent world. Unfortunately, this division of material has brought us to near conflict with nature, each other, and ourselves.

As some quote that I recently heard stated (and I’m paraphrasing): “A flower doesn’t compete with a flower next to it. It just blossoms.” The only objective that we have in life (if we choose to accept it), is to blossom and grow.

And even though there appears to be many inconsistencies and contradictions embedded in phenomenological experience, it appears that mind shouldn’t be. There simply isn’t a reason for our reasons. Yet…they’re there. Descartes may have made many mistakes, yet the cogito ergo sum seems to be on to something. I may not be able to prove that “I” exist, but something is going on.

If I can’t know anything outside of this something, we may not know God. But if God isn’t capable of OUR something, could He really be considered all Powerful? Reality, or our existence, is a difficult thing to explain. And we often fail to appreciate how incredible this experience is. If we desire to understand something about God, we can’t search beyond to some supernatural world. If such a thing were possible, we couldn’t access it. The only direction to go isn’t “outward”, but to reach within. Because indeed, this consciousness would be the only thing we could have in common with God. If we are to know God, we needn’t look farther than our own material existence.

So do we actually possess this Knowledge?

 

The Proletariat: Divided and Conquered

There was once a time, that if someone ever brought up Karl Marx, someone else would inevitably have something to say about it. If I bring up Marx today, who cares? Because of the Cold War, which wasn’t that long ago, Marxism was tied up with the Soviet Union…even though it’s debatable if Marxism can be linked to Leninism or Stalinism. Left-Right, it didn’t matter, people had opinions about socialism and communism.

This is what people did in the era before the internet. Communism, or anything that sounded like communism, was to be shunned or mocked. Because to certain political factions, clearly capitalism defeated Marxism altogether. It just goes to show how quickly times have changed.

Anyways, that maybe neither here nor there.

But Marxist theory of freedom (which is a subject I’ve been visiting a lot lately, particularly with my “new theology”) would argue that people find their maximal freedom within their relations with others, or the interaction with their community. I suppose because we are communal by nature. This contrasts heavily against the traditionally liberal emphasis on individuality. And that was the path towards human emancipation.

Now, as a side note, under the “new theology”, self emancipation is derived out of renouncing the linking of identity to material objects (not all that dissimilar to Marx, I guess) and seeing the self as an ever-changing subject. I’ve also suggested that that might include having to overcome personal/social expectations that are placed onto the individual because those are inhibitors to personal growth. Additionally, under the “new theology”, history doesn’t progress in any Hegelian-like form. If anything, there isn’t a direction to history I would argue. Nor should there be. So while there might be some overlapping in principles between Marx and myself, this is ultimately not a Marxist project.

Okay? Glad we got that out of the way.

But what’s REALLY driving me towards re-investigating Marx is the string of losses that the Democratic Party of the United States have faced recently.

Before I get into that, I should explain that Karl Marx was all about the proletariat. Or, as it’s classically defined, those whose only skill is their labor. Marx believed that it was this class of people that were best positioned to ignite a communist revolution. BUT, as it’s generally assumed, this class had to be UNITED if they were to spark any sort of revolution whatsoever.

Now in the United States, this sort of terminology is not widely used with political discourse. Terms like “class warfare” and “proletariat” are too closely related to Marxism. The Cold War stank still somewhat lingers within the imagination of the public and politicians, so the US has failed to understand ITSELF as a class struggle.  And it’s because of this lack of understanding which, I believe, is causing the Democratic Party’s heartache.

Because the Party is too busy arguing itself with the recent loss in some congressional district in Georgia, a few on the left have mocked the followers of Bernie Sanders…believing that they were kidding themselves all along. Which is completely idiotic considering he very likely would have won if he received the nomination.

I’m sure that you could find data to back that up, but I’m not going to do that (I’m lazy). But I do live in a southern red state, and the redneck, NRA member was certainly NOT going to vote for Hillary Clinton. BUT, they were listening to Bernie Sanders. Despite all the academic, left-wing rhetoric he was slinging in the primaries….conservative voters who would not have normally voted for Democrats, would have very likely pushed the button for Sanders if there was an opportunity in November.

I know that I presented absolutely ZERO empirical evidence for the last paragraph. But I don’t care. What Bernie Sanders represented to me was that Americans aren’t so hostile to Marxian ideas like they were in the past. People, particularly those in the lower and middle class, appeared to be FINALLY united in their struggle for economic equality.

Now I’m not saying that the lower classes should spark a violent communist revolution, or ANY revolution whatsoever. I’d never advocate for violence. But as Americans are divided by race, sex, sexual orientation, etc…there is one thing that unites a healthy portion of them. And that is that they are proletarians being divided and exploited by a higher ranking class (or something close to that).

Okay, so Marxist ideology might not fit our particular example perfectly. But, an argument can be made that most of our struggles boil down to economic disparity. Or those who are born into money remain rich, and those that are born into poverty remain in poor. THAT has become a problem in the US. However, instead of dealing with that problem directly, we begin to attack symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself. MEANING, we begin to focus on racism, sexism, homophobia, and a plethora of other social ills….which are the symptoms….which keeps us distracted from the real root problem of economic disparity.

This isn’t to say that the social justice issues aren’t problems that have to be dealt with. But these problems flow out of a single material-economic cause. And by dividing ourselves according to the various social characteristics (skin color, sex, gay/straight, etc), this only keeps us from avoiding the issue. And the power structure at the top use these characteristics to keep us divided.

The left-right spectrum is especially good at doing this. Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses”. But here in the US, our politics get us pretty damn inebriated. And this keeps the lower and middle class from turning on their masters. And the masters can sleep well at night, knowing that the crowd outside isn’t yelling at them, but they are yelling at each other.

Economic unity isn’t achieved by dividing those at the bottom. But as long as we allow the left-right rhetoric to pollute our minds, we play directly into maintaining the old order. Marx wasn’t always popular in the US, but the public consciousness appears to be warming up to him.

A New Theology: Part III- The Stoic Path

Whenever I get backed into a corner, stoicism usually bails me out. Now this very old discipline, which dates back to ancient Greece, gets a bad rap nowadays… even though it appears to have gained a foothold in certain circles.

Personally, I think that these criticisms miss the point. Too many get hung up on terminology, or get lost in the seeming determinism that stoicism supposedly presents. Some have found comfort in its zen-like nature till this day, however, in my humble opinion, I think that many reject stoicism simply because it runs directly against our first-world, technologically driven society.

Now, more than ever (which could be an exaggeration), we are “me” driven. And everything in the world corroborates this. Social media is a famous example. It has fueled our vanity and narcissism. And with the technological-bureaucratic-political complex (for a lack of a better description) that dominates modern society, the self has been made more static than it has ever been. (again, possibly an exaggeration)

I’m not going to beat this horse to death. I talk about this subject in pretty much every other post. But we are trapped within ourselves, and usually venues like social media provide a coping device to handle such staleness, thus fueling our narcissism. Now many, but not all, accuse stoicism of also being a selfish philosophy.

And that may indeed be some people’s interpretation.

But I’ve never seen stoicism in that light. In fact, I’d say that stoicism taught me that most people are preoccupied with themselves rather than having any concern for the welfare of others. As of right now, no one is thinking about YOU. Which sounds pessimistic, and that’s another criticism of stoicism.

HOWEVER, all of that is missing the point.

I keep saying that reality isn’t a set of static objects. It’s only through the human mind that creates a distorted version of reality which presents an unchanging world. Reality shouldn’t be viewed as a museum of observable objects, but is actually a stream that moves forward in spacetime. Therefore, the self (which includes both body AND mind) functions the same way. It’s only an illusion that the brain or some unconscious force, OR some cultural limitations (or all of the above), that creates a sense of “self”.

And because this self permeates all aspects of life, we come to view the world as a series of events that happen to US. And we attach all sorts of material objects to this ego. Our house, our car, and all of our possessions become a part of who we are. When something happens to those objects, it happens to US. THEREFORE, most of our actions are done in the name of preserving this self.

This causes us to fret over things that we cannot control. Some have interpreted stoicism as embracing a passive approach to a deterministic world. Again, this is missing the point. Stoicism, at least in my interpretation, isn’t about being passive towards the world, but about accepting things we cannot change. There’s a major difference. It isn’t about simply doing nothing and letting things happen around you. Our beings are a part of this world. The being must flow forward with the world, and not against it. Meaning, take part in action, but do not obsess in the past. Things that happened in the past are unchangeable, and are outside of our control. Therefore, embrace a possible future, and remain forever conscious in the present.

So stoicism supports a mindfulness of the here and now, which seems to echo other philosophies and religions…most notably Buddhism that also practices a form of “no-self”.

The past often becomes a burdensome anchor, that weighs us down and prevents us from growing. Too often, we can’t let go of the past because our identity is too closely tied with it. So again, we fight events in the present because we see them as an attack on the identity. Living in the past and clinging on to a static identity IS, in fact, embracing a passive and deterministic view of the world. This leads us down the path towards anxiety, vanity, and general discontent with the world as it is. We’re fighting against the stream, rather than flowing with it.

The only remedy is to remain ever conscious of the world as it is right now. We are forced to confront reality as it appears to us. This also means that we remain ever cognizant of the choices that befall us. Choice doesn’t fade in the stoic system, instead we are FORCED to live with the freedom of our choices.

This of course sounds alarmingly similar to existentialism. And it’s true. Instead of mindlessly drifting through the world, buried in the choices that were made in the past and clinging onto a false notion of self, we become FORCED to live free. It’s only when our sense of static identity is dropped do we actually achieve free will.

Because of this freedom, we become ultimately responsible for our actions. Again, echoing existentialism. No one else can be held accountable for our desires. We are also held accountable for our failures. This means that our happiness, our well-being, our shortcomings, and numerous other qualities are fully within our control. Granted, many things are not in our control. However, we can choose to accept the things that cannot be change, or we can choose to allow those things to control us. The choice is ours.

I guess we can say that passiveness is not a virtue (at least not in my own version of stoicism). But this philosophy is designed to help us see our relation to the universe and how we are to grow and change with it. NOW, I can already hear the criticism and I hope to address some of that. Some might see this “stream” as flowing into a pre-determined direction until we achieve a form of “absolute knowledge”, again making sound like a Hegelian or whatever.

I don’t support that notion, and hopefully I’ll be able to address that in the future. (And still figure out where the hell I’m going with this)

‘Taxi Driver’, Travis Bickle, and the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” Conspiracy Theory

Some things are best forgotten. But like a turd that just won’t flush, fears about “satanic ritual abuse” being conducted by a secret, yet elite echelon of society just won’t go away.

Conspiracy theories litter the internet nowadays, that’s no surprise. But, for me, the most notable one is the SRA, or the “satanic ritual abuse” conspiracy that first swept across the nation in the early 80s. Notable examples were the publishing of the book Michelle Remembers and the McMartin preschool trial. This paranoia also popularized the study of Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as “multiple personality disorder”.

Thankfully, this paranoia went dormant in the public eye, but resurfaced again last year with “pizzagate”.

Okay, first off, many of these controversies probably involved actual child abuse. HOWEVER, because of the absurdity of many of the accusations (as manipulated by the parents and investigators of each case), that fact gets sort of overshadowed. So because of the paranoia generated from such ridiculous claims, the SRA conspiracy theories likely set back (or at least partially tainted) child advocacy and ruined many careers, AND made children themselves a pawn in adulthood fantasy.

THAT fact should be noted.

Now a lot has been made recently about the psychology behind conspiracy theories. But this one particularly is quite perverse.

One of the greatest movies of all time, Taxi Driver, provides a peek behind the curtain with this form of psychological phenomenon. Travis Bickle lives alone in his New York City apartment and only experiences the world outside through his occupation (being a taxi driver), which usually sends him into the worst parts of the city. Because of his limited contact with others, Bickle begins to view the world as “scum”, and slowly begins to see himself as a vigilante force for good. This, of course, has an infamously violent conclusion.

Bickle saw the world through the windshield of his taxi. When he made attempts to interact with others, it always had disastrous results. This only furthered his isolation and delusion.

Taxi Driver was released in 1976, long before the internet. But Bickle’s taxi could be a stand in for our use of the internet today. If the film could be remade for modern audiences, it should be properly titled Internet User. The only information that Bickle received about how the outer world functioned was by driving a taxi. Bickle only saw the disgusting and overcrowded streets. He only saw violence, pimps, hookers, and other “scum”, which slowly began to pollute his mind.

Modern conspiracy theories work in a similar fashion. Many that believe these things may not be as socially secluded as Bickle was, nevertheless they only receive information from particular sources, which in turn forms their perception of the world. Suddenly there’s a conspiracy around every corner. And some may take things to violent extremes as evident by the many shootings that happen at alarming consistency.

This is how normal conspiracy theories work. But the SRA paranoia seems to have a sexual twist. Believers of wide spread SRA are succombed by images of sex abuse of children, bestiality, and other atrocities. This would likely explain the potency of such paranoia. Even if there is little evidence to support such claims, such imagery is too difficult to shake from the mind.  This prompts the believer to cling onto ANY evidence, no matter how absurd. And such findings and absurdities become supported by networking groups. Thus reinforcing the validity of the conspiracy.

Now Bickle isn’t typically thought of as being sexually motivated to commit his rampage. But such subtleties can be interpreted in the film. There might be a sexual subtext between Travis Bickle and the character that Jodie Foster portrayed, Iris. In fact, we can argue that John Hinckley picked up on these subtleties which (might have) partially motivated him in his assassination attempt. Although Bickle was a socially isolated character, he never crossed the line into pedophilia by taking an advantage of Foster’s character. HOWEVER, if such tensions did exist, that would provide an even greater motivation for him to shoot up an entire apartment building.

Why is that?

Any sexual relationship between Bickle and Iris would have meant that Bickle would have fully descended into the “scum” he despised. Bickle saw himself as a “hero”, and could never permit himself to indulge in any deviant behavior. Nevertheless, because he couldn’t successfully form a successful and healthy sexual relationship with Cybill Shepherd’s character, that energy had to be channeled elsewhere. An easy target that could have corroborated Bickle’s delusion would have been the naive child prostitute, Iris. But knowing that he could never be “intimate” with her, that energy got redirected into violent behavior, where he would have been deemed a “hero” and, in this line of thinking, could have possibly made Iris sexually attracted to him.

Such perverse logic could be underlying the SRA paranoia. This “hero” complex, of feigning disgust at outrageously impossible abuses, might successfully disguise underlying sexual urges. The disgusting images that are conjured up in the mind when such abuses are alleged might be so sexually motivating, that the individual will believe anything about the case, no matter how crazy. This allows the believer to feel like a “hero” when acting disgusted and becoming obsessed by the abuses.

(As a side note, the author of Michelle Remembers, psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, would later leave his wife and marry the subject of the book, Michelle Smith)

Now this might sound insane. But in the second chapter of Slavoj Zizek’s book Less Than Nothing, when discussing those that showed up to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, Zizek asks:

is there not always a moment of lust…in witnessing a traumatic event like a crucifixion? And does not the claim that we come to watch out of compassion and respect make it even (hypocritically) worse?”

Zizek is referencing our moral attitude towards such events, and how we claim to be disgusted, when in fact we are lustfully attracted to them.

You may disagree with Zizek’s analysis, but there is a darker part of the human psyche that we’re ignoring here. Particularly those who seek out such atrocities. We like to claim that we are repulsed by such behavior, yet some keep seeking it, claiming to be outraged that such events persist. But could the reality be, that they are in fact attracted to it?

I posted two videos to this blog. The first is a Taxi Driver trailer. The video below is an actual SRA propaganda piece that provides an interesting insight into how this conspiracy thinks of itself. The Pentagon, the Royal Family, the DuPont family…they’re all engaged in this so-called “conspiracy”. So have fun with that one.

A New Theology: Part II- God is Reborn

We see the world, and ourselves, through the same eyes. I am today what I was yesterday. Not much really changes. Perhaps there’s violent shifts of the external world from time to time, but reality appears the same. Just a sea of slowly changing concrete objects.

Of course, we can’t escape our physical selves. The body granted to us is our entire being. And with this sense of being, the world attaches to us various traits: name, social security number, sex, and a number of other qualities. And we also ACTIVELY attach material objects to our sense being. We are the things we own. If someone steals from us, they are stealing from ME.

All of these qualities turn the identity into an unmovable stone. The self lays there, occasionally playing its part, and on and on this existence continues. It fails to see itself as a speckle of water flowing through space and time, falsely believing that it is only capable of the finitude placed onto it by external pressures. This goes on until death, never realizing the potential of what it could have blossomed towards.

This lack of freedom strikes the core of our intellect. We even ascribe to God finite qualities…that this Being is limited by Its own ethics, limitations that only IT can place onto Itself. If God isn’t free, mankind isn’t free.

Unfortunately, we separate God and man. Thousands of years of ancient texts tell us that we are lower than the gods. They created us, but are in no way a part of us. Some even go so far as to tell us we PERVERTED creation. That Mankind created its disunity with God. And these texts, even with their faults, are correct in this regard. Mankind has, in fact, created its disunity with God.

But a distinction is unnecessary.

When we ponder consciousness, especially high-functioning consciousness like ours, we certainly know one thing….that we have it. We are aware of the universe in what might be uncommon ways. Yet, we are a PART of the universe. We are, as Carl Sagan infamously said, made of “star stuff”. And we are aware of this fact. Encased within us, is the consciousness of the universe.

Out of raw (supposedly unconscious) physics…arose consciousness. Out of the Earth, Mankind was born. We don’t exist independent of the universe, we ARE the universe. God is us, and We are God.

But, “God is dead”, as Nietzsche said. Man killed Him and placed himself on top. But Nietzsche was slightly mistaken. Through Man’s rising to conquer the Earth, he killed a part of himself. The construction of the concrete self, and disunity with Nature, killed the most sacred part of humanity. But returning to, for a lack of a better description, a state of nature…we may say that God is no longer dead, He is Reborn.

We don’t have to rely on ancient texts to provide revelation. Its through our consciousness, that we have direct contact with revelation. Whatever power the Prophets had, we share the same powers.  So we don’t have to consult with these texts. The words we possess have the power to convey sacred messages.

This isn’t to say that we have contact with any supernatural power. These realms are only works of fiction. It isn’t the specific events within these fictions that are important, it’s the eternal messages that they present. More often than not, these stories and myths can get in the way of true understanding. If such myths only promote fear, superstitious belief, or dogmatic allegiance, then (to quote another great philosopher, David Hume) “commit them to the flames.”

These beliefs don’t relieve us from the burdens of this world, they only serve to further our denial. They deny our place in the universe, our TRUE abilities, and the connection with our fellow beings. They only suppress our ability to engage in logic and reasoning.

The universe granted us, as we exist today, with insight into ourselves and the world. The mind isn’t, however, perfect. And there is much we need to do in order to reconnect with this stream of (or acceptance within) spacetime….

(And I need to figure out where the hell I’m going with all of this)