Posts Tagged ‘Nietzsche’

He Loves His Mother!!!

March 11, 2009

Bill Mayer — He loves his mother!! I thought I’d start with that. Religulous, a film by the same people who made Borat, and Borat, too, was purposefully offensive, and it, too, was funny, but it never, not for a second took itself seriously. Borat brought us into some very serious territory. There was the blatantly misogynous college boys scene, and the dangerous war of terror scene, maybe it was the moustache, but the nausea producing, in a culturally discomforting sense, scenarios made us witnesses.  Borat, himself, was nearly invisible. Religulous does something different, and I didn’t like it. The scenes where Maher analyses what we just saw are all gawd-awful. He interviews some fairly stupid people, but Maher’s arrogance, which may have held up, especially with the cuts to clips from Superbad and Scarface, those were hilarious, his arrogance may have held up, but when he was on camera by himself, the weakness of those scenes reframed his arrogance as simply mean. Sure, he loves his mother, but he’s a mean mental weakling himself, bullying other intellectually challenged, differently intelligent people. There’s the difference, Borat’s misogynists exposed themselves and an oppressive cultural undercurrent, while Maher victimized the people he put on film.

The science is in. Consciousness is a chemical energy. Our perceptions are bodily. Chemical and bodily changes affect consciousness and perception. Philosophically I work from the premise that existence precedes essence. Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Sartre, if generally understood would make it easier to argue that we should educate and properly house and nourish everyone. What I’m saying here is that there is no God of Abraham, there are no angels, spirits, demons, heaven or hell, at least outside our language systems. Our language systems exist physically in our bodies, in this sense these things exist, they are within us and communicable. Maher had an opportunity to produce in incredibly informative film. He came close with the Andrew Newberg, MD (University of Pennsylvania research neuroscientist) interview. Newberg discusses the process of imaging people’s brains as they pray, meditate or speak in tongues, but no conclusive statement is made. He also brought in the consciousness changing properties of drugs, but again the neurophysiology that could reveal the chemical and physical contingency of consciousness was not explored.

Maher is content to promote doubt, but there is certainty that consciousness is chemical reactions within organic physical structures. We don’t know how exactly it works, but there is certainty that material is at work. These ideas can also be communicated, but Maher didn’t do the research. And understanding consciousness, the bodily manifestation of these belief, may have softened his, persecution, of these believers. Really what was he doing? In his interviews with Muslims, he was told twice that it was politics and not religion, that the motivation behind terrorists and extremists, but he didn’t accept it. He even made “fun” of the interviewee by writing a text message implying he was a terrorist. Later he analyses these scenes saying that they don’t want to admit to outsiders that there are problems with the religion. Doubt in this sense is not a tool for understanding, it is an analgesic for stupidity. What were the political motivations of the religious George W. Bush and what were the political motivations of the differently religious Osama Bin Laden? Maher is content to doubt everything and everyone.

In Saul D. Alinsky‘s Rules for Radicals he spends an entire chapter “of ends and means” explaining how political interests are clothed in religious morality. “The Haves,” he writes, “develop their own morality to justify their means of repression and all other means employed to maintain the status quo.” What’s interesting is that Obama was schooled in the Alinsky tradition. Maher’s film is now an historical document. But Alinsky also taught respect for the beliefs and values of the Have-nots and spoke against arrogance. Politically, in the political system, I’m with Sven. This call for compassion, and understanding, when dealing with religious consciousnesses, is not a form of self protection, it comes from an understanding, limited sure, that our bodies and consciousness are totally intertwined, and a massive change, in our society, especially forced from the outside, well, it’s abuse.

And one last thing about embodied knowledge, especially the kind of knowledge that defines a persons existence. This is from wikipedia:

In Carl Jung‘s psychology, metanoia indicates a spontaneous attempt of the psyche to heal itself of unbearable conflict by melting down and then being reborn in a more adaptive form. Jung believed that psychotic episodes in particular could be understood as existential crises which were sometimes attempts at self-reparation. Jung’s concept of metanoia influenced R. D. Laing and the therapeutic community movement which aimed, ideally, to support people whilst they broke down and went through spontaneous healing, rather than thwarting such efforts at self-repair by strengthening their existing character defences and thereby maintaining the underlying conflict.

With this in mind, really, what the fuck was Maher doing? He loves his mother, but he’s still an ignorant fuck. Had he actually broken through the defences of these people he was attacking, he would have precipitated a moment of realization in which everything previously known is wrong, leading possibly to a physical and mental breakdown. In one scene Maher’s mother reminds him of how upset he was when he discovered Santa Claus wasn’t real. The equation of a childhood fantasy game, with god consciousness or a bodily awareness of god, is ridiculous in itself. In my utopian thoughts after the consciousness of our interconnectivity is widespread, when we are concerned with the care of each other, the issue of religion will have faded away, but until then we need to work toward our own understanding.

Chapter 4: Great Politics

November 8, 2006

I finished this chapter a couple days ago. If I’d tried to write something about what I read on a daily basis, it’d come out a lot differently than it is now. It’s interesting to me that if I’d have written about it only yesterday this post would be .., no, this post wouldn’t be. I think about that sometimes, about how the things I’ve done as I’ve done then, the things that have happened as they’ve happened, what I’ve wanted, what’s been realized, anyone who’s ever lost something they’ve written knows that a moment comes only once.

Yesterday, instead of writing about Chapter 4, I ran over to the East Van Cinema and watched US vs. John Lennon. I was 10 when John Lennon was shot. I remember where I was when I heard. At least I think I remember, but I missed pretty much his entire life before that. I’d heard his music. It’s the kind of thing a child enjoys. I still enjoy it, in the same way I eat oatmeal everyday. But during the film there were two moments I saw someone incredible. He’s dancing on the street, wearing a white suit, with Yoko. He does a leg kick. Pure magic. He moved like a god among men. The other moment was at a press conference for the WAR IS OVER billboard campaign he and Yoko ran. One question was who’s paying. John was, but he mentioned that some others were coming forward to help with the cost. The follow up question was, “How much?” and John says I don’t know, less that someone’s life. The way he said it, without thinking and without dwelling on it, I mean he was talking about something else immediately was pretty powerful, like a punch in the stomach. A punch in the stomach is different from one to the face. When you feel the pain in your face you’re thinking ouch, I just got hit, but to the stomach you’re aware you’ve been hit, and then you’re thinking ouch, that hurt.

Lennon says in the movie, “I’m an artist first, a politician second.” He was a great artist, and a great politician, in the sense of Nietzsche’s great politics. The great politics about fighting for the power to make the decisions about what counts as truth. Nietzsche instructs us to Fight for this power. Jasper writes, “From the standpoint of great politics it means fighting with the aid of the creative thoughts which invisibly shape and transform men. Truth attains actuality only in the struggle for power; here lies both its source and its limit.”

Truth Pt. 2

October 8, 2006

Nietzsche says the statements “I want this” and “I have the right to this” are equal. In the second statement the truth is concealed. It’s this kind of thinking that Postman didn’t want let out the bag.

I hear Postman is ignored by academics, but academics are largely ignored by everyone else. The ideas in Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” have been taken up by activist communities on the left, or the book is an expression of those ideas. I’ve been away from social justice activities for a couple years now, but in the ten years I was following them the ideas didn’t change at all.

Nietzsche’s writing isn’t completely applicable today, but the germ is there. The ideas that people fighting for change fear, are the same ideas that have the power to bring about change.

Truth Pt. 1

October 5, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Truth pt. 1

I’m still struggling through this chapter on truth. Writing something now won’t hurt. The problem is the word itself. Nietzsche uses it in different senses. There’s the idea of truth as social consent, or at least the truth in social consent, like the truth in error. There’s also the idea of truth in the moment, and truth as ultimate reality, which aren’t necessarily exclusive.

Nietzsche’s conception of man, which is in a process of becoming, leads to a truth/reality in change. Jaspers says that you can’t understand Nietzsche’s thought without looking at his life, and the conception of truth Nietzsche would have been destroying was absolute truth. So Nietzsche saying there is no truth would be consistent with his saying God is dead. There is no one. There is no one truth, no one of anything.

As an aside, I have read a lot of Neil Postman’s stuff. All his books about teaching should be mandatory reading for teachers. He pushes for pluralism in education. But his last book, I think it was his last book, was a real disappointment. For a while there I was reading Zinn, Chomsky and Postman. It was Postman who sent me back to Nietzsche, and on to Foucault. But in Building a Bridge to the 18th Century he betrays his motivations. I still think The End of Education is a worthwhile book, there’s something to his ideas in a school, but out in the world he’s a weakling. Postman wants God back in our lives, and he says if you have doubts, behave as if the narrative is true. He at one point goes so far to wish that Nietzsche had the maturity to keep quiet. But I think Postman had it backwards. He blames Nietzsche for the wars of the 20th century. I laughed typing that. Postman wants all the God talk and Natural Right talk of the 18th Century to be true, But Nietzsche saw through the illusion.