He Said What?

I was rereading one of the articles I posted about in the prior post, the one entitled The Ten Commandments Rationally Considered (it was renamed to The Ten Commandments: Not Freedom Friendly).

It would take me days and days to get through all the double-think and make-believe the author goes through to squeeze in his Objectivist narrative of history. But one thing stood out.

Near the end of the article, Cline is quoting Rand (who else doth quote?) and her religion as primitive form of philosophy jig. [Note: this is a core historical assumption of the Objectivist. I merely pass over it, it is a category error – charitably. I don’t think Rand was that obtuse. The two can, obviously, overlap, but they are not the same thing.]

After quoting her view he goes on to make the following incredible assertion:

By way of illustration, religion can be compared with the stick men children first learn to draw; a fully rational philosophy, absent any form of mysticism and reliance on unsupportable assertions, should then lead them to create the likes of Michelangelo’s “David.”

The context is the failure of modern philosophy to provide a rational basis for the proper representation of man (and of this part I still agree with Rand, modern philosophy is a titanic failure in that regard and most else).

If one knows anything about Michelangelo (he was a devout Catholic, even more so as he grew into old age) and about his work in general, one wonders if he is saying Catholicism is a fully rational philosophy? What is he trying to get across here? Who is this David? It is David of the Bible. But it wasn’t a “fully rational philosophy” (not by Objectivism’s definitions) that produced David, neither in subject nor in its creator. No. What produced David is the wooly mysticism and irrationality of the Church to describe it in Objectivist terms.

If you were to ask Mr. Cline to explain how the opposite of rationality, i.e., faith produced the zenith of art, and subsequent, secular philosophy did not, he would have an answer. And it would involve a story about St. Thomas Aquinas reintroducing Aristotle into medieval culture and the subsequent triumph of reason over faith and that the depiction of David in sculpture is the force of reason acting upon subjects of mysticism.

To understand that, one would have to go into the tale of history as told by Rand and most other secularists. It is a false story of course. And it leads men like Mr. Cline to say the absurd as the quote above illustrates.

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Post Christmas Rant: Weaving Two Tales of an Objectivist Christmas

[This post originally appeared in December of 2013. Time passes and I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I threw Rand overboard. This isn’t a very well written post, but I found I burned out on beating up on Peikoff’s “essay” every year. Although I may beat up on Edward Cline’s (see link below). I hadn’t realized then that the link was to a truncated version of his “essay.” The full “essay” is a tour de stupid of Objectivist thinking.]

 

First, a belated Merry Christmas to my few readers!

Today, this first day after Christmas, we are going to be visiting two articles by two Popular Objectivists (one is a semi-successful Randian author (and reads like it) the other is the Grand Pooh-Bah of the orthodox Objectivist movement (the orthodox Objectivist movement is the group of Objectivists that dare not contradict the Grand Pooh-Bah)).

The Randian author is Edward Cline and his article is The Ten Commandments Rationally Examined. The Grand Pooh-Bah is Leonard Peikoff and his article “Christmas Should be More Commercial.” I hated this article when I was one of his drones. And that this thing hits the internet every year, one has to wonder a single thing about the article’s title, “how?”

“How could it possibly get more commercial?”

Dr. Peikoff has some ideas about that Continue reading “Post Christmas Rant: Weaving Two Tales of an Objectivist Christmas”

Christmas (Shouldn’t) Be More Commercial

As I try to do every year, it is time to take out Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s ridiculous article “Christmas Should Be More Commercial,” and beat it up a little bit.

Why do I do this every year?

Why do you think? In this day and age where people beat the living shit out of each other over toys, step over ailing fellow citizens, shoot each other over mall parking spaces, and “Black Friday Death Count” will give you enough results for days of readings – it a naive question to ask why.

So let’s dig in with the first paragraph.

Christmas in America is an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life. Yet all of these are castigated as “materialistic”; the real meaning of the holiday, we are told, is assorted Nativity tales and altruist injunctions (e.g., love thy neighbor) that no one takes seriously.

As far as the first sentence is concerned this is not in anyone’s mind for Christmas. First, we can display the first two characteristics at anytime of the year. To take a negative example: if a drunk invites you to his party for Sunday night, you might want to ask what the occasion is since the man drinks all seven days of the week. As for the enjoyment of life it is not the commerciality of Christmas that marks the spirit of Christmas. No Christmas movie I grew up with extolled the enjoyment of life as getting a bunch of shit one morning.

What this is is Peikoff taking a few incidentals and, to makeshift some sort of holiday that fits under his philosophy (as he accuses the Christians of doing later) making them the essentials, the defining essence of the holiday. Note that children do not experience “human ingenuity” and “capitalistic productivity” they think the stuff comes from Santa Clause! A character which, under Objectivist thinking, is on equal par with Jesus or God.

And let’s not forget, in ObjectivistLand there already is a holiday celebrating capitalistic productivity; namely Thanksgiving. Yes, the nuts actually redefined Thanksgiving to honor Henry Ford. But this one is different because you are supposed to enjoy yourself this time?

Then Peikoff (is this only the first paragraph?) does the usual Objectivist either/or and says these characteristic are castigated as “materialistic.” Well, yes. But let’s note that only Objectivists actually extol this non-existent vision of Christmas. What is castigated is the championing of these characteristics to the exclusion of all others.

In fact, Christmas as we celebrate it today is a 19th-century American invention. The freedom and prosperity of post-Civil War America created the happiest nation in history. The result was the desire to celebrate, to revel in the goods and pleasures of life on earth. Christmas (which was not a federal holiday until 1870) became the leading American outlet for this feeling.

This is true and not true. Christmas as we celebrate it today in America is a 19th-century American invention. However, there were many other parts of the world that had similar festivities that centered around a certain Saint Nicholas, or derivatives from.

From History.com

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn’t find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

Then Peikoff goes off into sketchy history. I have never read a definitive account of the Christians purposefully taking over the pagan holiday and “faking” the date of Jesus’ birth to stamp out the pagan practice of the winter solstice celebrations. Never mind the derivativeness of the Roman holiday – Romans good! Christians bad!

To Be Continued…

NaNo Day 23 and Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Sorry I post at the end of my day. It is actually Friday the day after Thanksgiving.

Happy buy a bunch of discounted stuff while you fight and curse your fellow man day!

Word count today 2290 for a total of 38,609

Speaking of black friday, I saw a funny meme that said the following:

Did I say funny? Sad perhaps is better.

In the spirit of the holiday season, you may ask. Mr. Wizard are you going to rip on and make fun of Leonard Peikoff’s CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE MORE COMMERCIAL again this year. Answer dear reader: I sure hope to have the time because I never tire of ripping that absurd essay!

I may also, if time permits, rip on another Objectivist theme, thanksgiving as the original American secular holiday – despite the obvious fact that it never was. They have several of these, but I think I may pick on THANKSGIVING: THE PRODUCER’S HOLIDAY

Sometimes I read these things and I can’t believe I once nodded my head in agreement to these arguments!

NaNo Day 20 – And Reflections So Far

Still playing catch up from a rough weekend. Posted 2568 today for a total of 32,436 words so far this month. And that leaves 17,564 to go.

The tracker on the NaNo says that I will finish on December 3rd at my current rate which is an improvement from yesterday that had it for December 5th. I need to reach at least the same number of words tomorrow, the minimum on Wednesday (a workday) and then max out on Thursday (Thanksgiving, challenge day!).Too bad before last Thursday I was at finishing on November 28th.

I am treating this not only as a teaching exercise in actual writing (as opposed to my professional procrastination (which I think I’ve achieved the rank of MASTER – bonus to me for double parenthetic comments, btw)) but also as an exercise in reaching deadline. I will reach that deadline, so help me God!

I have learned a bucketful so far in just twenty days. Number one, every single writer you have ever heard say that the way to learn how to write is to write is one-hundred and fifty thousand percent absolutely freaking correct. And I’m not saying that because I have acquired the skill in twenty days to write. Far from it. What I have learned is how much there is to it.

There is so much that goes into a story you can barely keep it in mind. Every single thing that is potentially a variable out there comes at you every single second, and there are always twenty or more of them. Now I think some of those can be eliminated with a little forethought and practice. Surely I could have reduced mine if I had thought of doing NaNo even a couple of days before November 1st and not the night of Halloween!

Even then your story may not go the way you anticipated. I had no idea what I was doing at all except for this idea that a Dark Lord of sorts who lives outside of time in a (outside of, that is) cyclical universe. It was an idea I toyed with briefly five or so years ago and then forgot about. He keeps killing a recurring iteration of this person who lives multiple lives (so think Shirley McClain meets The Matrix).

That’s it. And… write! And I have wrote some stupendous piles of crap in the last twenty days (and perhaps a few decent passages that would be alright with a little tweaking). It is scramble writing, I’m scrambling to a finish line. So yesterday I wrote this one scene where this Dark Lord (he’s actually now referred to as the Dark Surfer but that is just a placeholder as that name is already taken) kills this man yet again but this time as a newborn – he breaks the newborn’s neck.

I was very displeased with myself for having written such a thing as I do not like writing something that is evil merely to be evil. But then I thought, “well, I’ve been looking for a way to extricate the main character from this cycle of being murdered, and as long as the main character never remembers his prior life and demise there is no way out. How about make the Dark Surfer’s heinous act of murdering a child be the way out? That, somehow (and right now I don’t know even though I’m right in the middle of writing the scene) it causes his next self to recollect his past deaths and lives. I got this from listening to Father Mitch Pacwa on his call in show on EWTN answer a question about the souls of aborted children and whether or not they get to see the Beatific Vision. Pacwa answered in the affirmative.

Problem – Answer – Muse – QED.

That started a snowball where I wrote in three separate parts of the story tonight. I finished a meta-fictional piece (the novel is littered with such things that hint at the overall cosmology by the use of questionable sages and the esoteric writings of biographers without having to be explicit and dry – R.A. Lafferty uses this technique all the time and I’ve always wanted to do it myself)

– I also started what I thought was the final segment and the penultimate segment, then switched them, and then wrote a little back and forth in each section as one would make the other clearer the farther I went until I petered out (and my back as well!).

The switch occured when I was writing what I thought was the final segment when the character, (named in this iteration Dobromir Danneskjold – I like it!) who has gained the memory of his past lives in a dream, asks his priest what is eternal. The priest answers – Love. Ah, and what is love? And how has this man died up to now? Fearfully and cowardly and selfishly. There is only one way to end the cycle and that is to die by love, die in an act of love, and love is self-sacrifice.

And in Scrivener switching scenes around is easier than flipping a pancake.

Wala.

And the important lesson here, for me, is that even though I could have planned some of this, I do not think I could have got all the way there (at least not at first – maybe not at all?) without first actually writing. I don’t think I would have got to the riddle to even come up with the answers. But that last, to die in an act of love, is a bonafide story solution, a thematic solution even. I was just hoping to have a coherent series of decently written events with some sort of physical resolution for my first try.

Well, I won’t have a coherent series of decently written events on November 30th. If I were the Demiurge (and I certainly was for this story) you would all have asses where your heads are supposed to be and you’d all have wings for feet and genitals for ears. But I solved a story problem through writing it. And in a much bigger fashion than I gave myself credit for being able to come with. Also I think there might be a few short stories in germ form sitting in that muck of chaos.

On December 1st I will have the material necessary for writing an actual novel.

I’d like to also write down the observation that in all the time I was an Objectivist I was never able to solve one story problem. It was always like trying to jam a fist down a dime-sized hole. But now that I am of Catholic mind, the story solution literally fell into my lap. Actually a priest on the radio dropped the first part right into my ear on the very day I was considering one of the problems. Plink!

The Value of Hume

I was, during a break, thinking a bit of C.S. Lewis’ On Miracles, when I had a sudden bit of potential integration that I can do nothing with at the moment. In one of the early chapters he is talking about the limits of experience. This was in relation to a naturalist approach to universal explanation. Basically how wide the naturalist abstraction is compared to the personal evidence that can conceivably support it.

As a philosophy with any positive value, Hume’s seems out the gate to be a piece of mud. However, mud has its uses. His shattered, fractured universe is quite useful when we think about the edifices that people stand on unknowingly. How much is assumed, unexamined, unexplained, even unrecognized, from one instance to the next instance.

Immanuel Kant was, historically, the man who attempted to put Humpty Dumpty back together after Hume busted him up…

Few people go through life terrified that the car they are traveling in will suddenly cease to exist right out from under them, or that the ball they are throwing will turn into a dragon and burn them where they stand. But why shouldn’t these things happen? If these things do not happen, surely, some lesser things of the same nature happen all the time? Should we fear that they could happen but just haven’t, at least not in our personal experience?

Why not? These are pretty easy questions in philosophy. Or, rather, such questions have been part of philosophy for millennia. But what about whole world-views? What part of it is blind faith on the part of the holder? And how much is derived from things they can actively demonstrate?

What can one stand on? How much of your views of the world, of the nature of things, of people, politics, right and wrong can you account for? And how much of it is words put together without referent, without ground?

I think most people would be astounded to find there is very little they can account for. And little of that they can piece together. What is your experience of a house but the Continue reading “The Value of Hume”

Calvary & Christmas Movies

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CALVARY is not a Christmas movie although it is has a Christian theme.

Brendan Gleeson plays Father James, a Catholic priest, in an abusive, hostile, post sexual abusive scandal, small town in Ireland. These people are not only jerks, they are a motley mess of vices and malice. The vice and malice is directed at him.

I’ll give only the opening scene. Father James is sitting in the confessional reading while awaiting a penitent. One arrives and starts telling the priest about violent sexual assaults he suffered at the hands of a priest while he was growing up. The abusive priest is now dead. The person says this (quoting from memory) “Father, I am going to kill you. Killing an evil priest is nothing, but to kill a good one, ah, that is making a statement. I’m going to kill you next Sunday.”

The rest is up to you. I thought it an excellent, disturbing film. Note the title of the movie.

The only problem I had was in the write up of the film. On iTunes it was touted as a “wickedly funny black comedy”.

Whoever wrote that either did not see the film, or is rather sick in the head. When the first thing the man tells the priest is the first time he tasted semen was when he was seven years old (relating to his abuse) did this person laugh? There were a few light exchanges to be found in the film, a humorous quip here and there as one would find in any other drama. But that film was not a comedy, not by any non-nihilistic person.

That line is from a review of the movie from Time Out. The writer warns the reader that Calvary is not as filled with “big guffaws” as the director’s previous movie “The Guard”. And that the humor is dark enough to be an acquired taste that some may not be able to take.

Quite true if it were a comedy.  If it was they missed entirely and made a very moving drama instead. Was I supposed to laugh when the millionaire took down one of his expensive paintings and proceeded to Continue reading “Calvary & Christmas Movies”

Dr. Scrooge

ebenezer-scrooge

I think I will make this a Christmas season ritual until I exhaust it. Every year Capitalism Magazine republishes a diatribe by Leonard Peikoff called: CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE MORE COMMERCIAL.

Dr. Peikoff, for those who do not know the name (and most don’t) is the foremost protege of philosopher Ayn Rand. I was an acolyte of both for a number of years (never met either – through books, tapes, and so on). In my defense I was never a very good follower. I just wasn’t brought up to have the natural sentiments of a temper throwing, selfish ass!

This year I am going to pick on the last sentence of Peikoff’s article. Don’t worry if you didn’t bother to follow the link and read the article, you’re not missing anything but faulty history, jumps in logic, category errors, and the usual shoddy atheistic (mainly Objectivist) nastiness such as “…and self-sacrifice for Tiny Tim or his equivalent.” as if helping poor Tiny Tim out was like Scrooge taking a bullet for a stranger.

But in Objectivistland it is! Ebenezer Scrooge helping Tiny Tim is self-sacrifice. And self sacrifice is evil.

And thus we get to the sentence:

It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.

Now let’s have some fun and see what is left after you take out Christ from Christmas. Well, you have mass as in Mass, which is the sacrament of the Eucharist, Holy Communion. That can’t be what he means.

But joking aside, let’s take him at his word. Guiltlessly egoistic, this-worldly, commercial, pro-reason. This last merely means atheistic – it is part of taking Christ out of Christmas- being atheistic is pro-reason, being religious, or having faith is anti-reason (which in Objectivist speak is anti-mind and anti-life and the worship of death).

The key elements are (guiltlessly) egoistic and commercial.

What a fun holiday this would be! But I tell you what. I can guiltlessly buy myself commercial shit ALL YEAR LONG! And if I was a guiltlessly selfish sort wanting to revel in a commercial celebration why would I restrain myself to once a year? Am I not then practicing what you are arguing against the rest of the year? Or am I merely saving up for the giant orgy of shit-buying at the great annual atheist commercial celebration? And I have to ask that because why, if I am a guiltlessly egoistic man, would I buy shit for other people? So they would buy shit for me in return? Perhaps I buy better shit for myself than the shit they would buy for me? Why not skip the middle man and we’ll just go our separate ways and buy shit for ourselves?

You notice we’re halfway there on that already with people buying gift cards for each other. I know people who agree on a dollar limit and then get each other gift cards. How stupid is that? You are exchanging $50 for $50! Keep the money and go with my idea! Buy yourselves some shit!

How much more of an impersonal drudgery are we going to let the apostles of self-esteem make the excitement that was once Christmas?

And when that runty bastard Tiny Tim gets in your way (cuz the lad walks slow) on your walk home, shove past him. Outta my way, cripple! Guiltless, remember? Perhaps it is to my satisfaction to sneer at the bugger, what matters it you? I bought all my shit and I want to play with it. This low person is taking up my time, I only have so much of it to live and he is taking some. HE’S MAKING ME SELF-SACRIFICE!!!

Whether you are religious or not, this definition of Christmas is dead water. It calls for no different behavior than people generally display throughout the regular year.

To be continued….

…Unless I’m out buying myself shit….

R.A. Lafferty Tomorrow!! And New John C. Wright!! And More Randian Disappointment

madmademodels

Just a reminder that the first of 12 R.A. Lafferty volumes is released tomorrow! Buy! Buy! Buy! So all 12 volumes will be published and I can get them all.

Here is the table of contents for this first edition.

Contents:

  • Introduction by Michael Swanwick
  • The Man Who Made Models
  • The Six Fingers of Time
  • The Hole on the Corner
  • Square and Above Board
  • Jack Bang’s Eyes
  • All But the Words
  • The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos
  • Frog on the Mountain
  • Narrow Valley
  • Condilac’s Statue or Wrens in His Head
  • About a Secret Crocodile
  • Days of Grass, Days of Straw
  • The Ninety-Ninth Cubicle
  • Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne
  • Parthen
  • The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Sttreet
  • Rivers of Damascus
  • Afterword by John Pelan (the publisher)

If you want to experience outside the normal bounds of whatever it is you have read in your life indulge in some Lafferty. If not for your own sake, then do it for mine!

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Also tomorrow is the third installment of John C. Wright’s Count to a Trillion series. So far I have loved the series. The only caveat is his tales are dense and I read some 50 – 60 books a year. I have to find some synopsis to remember exactly where the last book left off…

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I am afraid I am going to end up being one of those ex-Objectivists that end up Continue reading “R.A. Lafferty Tomorrow!! And New John C. Wright!! And More Randian Disappointment”

Post Christmas Rant: Weaving Two Tales of an Objectivist Christmas

First, a belated Merry Christmas to my few readers!

Today, this first day after Christmas, we are going to be visiting two articles by two Popular Objectivists (one is a semi-successful Randian author (and reads like it) the other is the Grand Pooh-Bah of the orthodox Objectivist movement (the orthodox Objectivist movement is the group of Objectivists that dare not contradict the Grand Pooh-Bah)).

The Randian author is Edward Cline and his article is The Ten Commandments Rationally Examined. The Grand Pooh-Bah is Leonard Peikoff and his article “Christmas Should be More Commercial.” I hated this article when I was one of his drones. And that this thing hits the internet every year, one has to wonder a single thing about the article’s title, “how?”

“How could it possibly get more commercial?”

Dr. Peikoff has some ideas about that Continue reading “Post Christmas Rant: Weaving Two Tales of an Objectivist Christmas”