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Letters: Onward to Golgotha
This batch of letters produces a very positive state of mind. When you consider the situation as is, and how people in the past have responded to something like it, and what we must do to our own minds in order to achieve change, there's a sense of liberation that enables seeing the truth... a falling away of dead and unimportant values, and a grasping of that which is essential to life itself. Even heroism is possible in this clearminded state. We wonder why we should strive; the answer is, "because life is good." Read on to see some of the many ways this is true.
Thanks for writing in. These are solid questions.
1. "any particular philosophy, if carried to its natural, logical extremes, can result in Transcendence" - yes, I very much agree with this, but there's a trick to it in that there is a meta-logic to all philosophies, which is the language of philosophy itself. Any philosophy, if approached with solid philosophical reasoning, can be translated ultimately into a form that will produce transcendence. Before this answer sounds too scammy, keep in mind that this "philosophical reasoning" is essential no different from a highly evolved form of "common sense" as combined with a sharp mind. This is the essence of esotericism: the truth isn't for everyone, but for those minds that can handle it, if they keep on the path - researching, or meditating, or thinking, or writing, or making art or war - they will eventually find the truth. Even if we take materialism to such logical extremes we ultimately find a monistic sense of transcendence. Does this mean every philosophy is equal, or will initially admit transcendence? No, because many are structured so that they seem to be opposed to transcendence. If we go through them with what Nietzsche calls a "philosophical hammer," and test each part of them for the soundness of its logic, we can find the parts that make sense and explore those as organizational principles to which all other parts of each philosophical system are corroborative details. Depending on the system of philosophy, it may be a short or long trip to accepting transcendence, and after that, it is a question of pursuing it, and much of that lies within the individual.
2. "how can one maintain a healthy standard of living without falling prey to the Crowdism" - the answer is surprisingly simple, and is not a one-stroke guide to success: keep ahold of your values, do something you enjoy that is not destructive, and while pursuing the time-proven pleasures of life (friends, family, learning, heroism, nature) be ready for radical change to occur. For me, it is a balance between work that I do not mind as much as other work, and stealing enough time away from the system so that I can enjoy life and learn from it. You may not earn as much money this way, but your overall quality of life will be better. While you have time, e.g. are younger than age 30, I encourage you to explore whatever avenues of work you find appealing - try some radical things, start a business or two, maybe work abroad. If you find something does not please you, move on to something else. Somewhere in here you may get married and have kids, and this will limit your options somewhat, so get as much information as you can. Most jobs are horrible but if you look around, you can usually find a nicer place to work where you can take more time off. If all else fails, teach. The pay isn't horrible and you get three months off in the summer.
3. "due to the inherent lack of meaning to life that one should live as one desires" - the textbook definition of nihilism, as most see it, is a lack of belief in the valuative process, so that not only do values not exist but value cannot be derived. That generally distills into what your succinct summary above describes, but if we look at even that critically, it becomes transparent. Do we not live as we desire in any philosophical system, or, to put it crudely, do we not pick philosophical systems that allow us to live as we desire? In my view, nihilism of the "don't care about anything" type rapidly boils down to a more thoughtful outlook, which is that - if one likes being alive - the question is how to live well. Even "believe in nothing" is a form of belief, and so in order to live well, one must pick the most realistic beliefs as beliefs and philosophy are inevitable. Through this transformation, in my view, nihilism goes from violent apathy to a selective destruction of those values which are not realistic, and through that process, a rediscovery of the values that actually matter. Once again, however, this is an esoteric belief: success depends on the internal design (intelligence, moral strength, health) of the individual and cannot be packaged in a form that everyone can get.
There is much more that could be said in each of these answers, but I hope they give a good summary of the response you would desire.
It's excellent to see someone discovering the mysteries and majesties of classical music as many of us have in the past, and really, in the present: there's enough of it, and it's complicated enough not just in music but in concepts referenced through isomorphic similarity to structure of objects in life and emotion, that the discovery of classical music is a lifelong pursuit. I'm no expert, but I'll mention one work by each of these composers that has given my brain food for epic thought:
This may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but it's fair to say that the above represents a sampler of at best the surface. It's not comprehensive for each of these composers or artists, and reflects no education of opinion except the most intriguing to me of what I have encountered. Each has a wealth of work that can be explored via MP3 and classical radio, not to mention checking out CDs from your neighborhood library. Depending on where you are in life, and what you find meaningful now, another work may be a better entry point (for you, now) into the work of each artist.
Tchaikovsky and Wagner: the former seems to make good listening for children on rainy days, and adults who are sanding boats. The latter inspires me, but so far, I haven't struggled through his operas, much as their storylines appeal because unlike modern literature, they tackle the existential issues universal to being human and aware head on. Probably, like everyone else, you'll do fine buying some comp with "Ride of the Valkyries" on it until it inspires you to download or buy a complete opera.
Thanks for these insightful questions.
I appreciate your question because it's not one of the easy ones, and therefore, it and its answer will make better reading for those people out there in web-land who are stopping by to see if here there's anything of interest. The simple answer is twofold: first, people vary, so the specific answers vary; second, most people have no idea where to begin and are unwilling to sacrifice themselves on unfruitful action.
Burning down one SUV dealership, murdering one despot, slaughtering one city full of idiots, etc. will not accomplish the goals one might have in wanting to "fix" this society. The problem is not substance, such as people or objects, but structure: we have organized ourselves around bad values and unrealistic expectations, and therefore, even our best attempts to rectify the situation dig us deeper into the hole. For this reason, the activist seeks to grab political power instead of enacting sabotage, except when the latter is powerful publicity (publicity = more people aware of the dissident's opinion, used most masterfully by the Unabomber).
That being said, figuring out how to gain political power and a sensible political platform is beyond most people. The alleged Unabomber has an IQ of 170 or higher; Adolf Hitler was 160 or higher; Arthur Schopenhauer was 180 or so; Friedrich Nietzsche was 160. This means that fewer than a half-percent of the people in our society have even a reasonable shot at figuring out a rhetoric/philosophy of their own. This is why, in nature's order, people follow leaders, because the leader is optimized for figuring out and implementing such things.
Until such a leader arises, and makes it his or her sole quest to gain attention and pursue an ideological goal, most people will remain grumblers. A few will burn SUVs or drag the minorities of their choice behind trucks, and will then spend years in jail contemplating the futility of such acts. Society is so fragmented now that most potential leaders realize their own sacrifice, as they will surely be blacklisted if not arrested and sodomized in prison, will be for nought because everyone is too "individualistic" to come to agreement. Thus the grumbling goes on and nothing gets done.
The solution is closer at hand than one might think, however. Since the process has gone through several iterations, over the generations, of watching good ideas get absorbed, people are finally awakening to the concept that social behaviors influence people more than ideology, and that unless social behaviors are addressed by an ideology, they will subsume that dogma into the same old thing because those who implement it will not have escape the same old behaviors. Let the people grumble. Some can do nothing but grumble, and surely we don't want them in charge. The others need to spread the acidic discontent of the embittered and impotent so that, as methods of spreading ideology mature, future leaders can channel them toward a better task.
In the meantime, what needs to be done is a rather large task of reconciling seemingly oppositional viewpoints. Right and left are in their extremes saying the same thing, with different solutions; these can be shown to be compatible. Black Nationalists and White Nationalists have more in common than either has to this date admitted. Greens and paleoconservatives are two versions of the same impulse. Show people that we're all working toward the same thing, and that our responses are similar, and they will gradually give up identification with older, dead systems of order (Republican, Democrat, bestial porn customer) and turn toward their discontent. This is the fertile ground for a new impetus.
i think you are right: the "right" wing needs to redesign itself, not just for the usual topics but to find a new vision entirely of society. the right has been fighting a defensive battle for too long. it does not make sense to continue. further, there is much from both right and left which is relevant, and the environmental issue is natural to both and should be central. i cannot find any political party or group that represents what i feel is right, so i simply write articles.
I find respect that is automatically given to be a cheapened kind of respect. I respect those who make sense, and do great things, and thus increase the value of the rare praise I give. It is more important that we hail the truly great, than that we include all things that are merely a higher cut of mediocre. This website is not just a production of myself, nor is it about myself, which is why I choose to keep as much anonymity as possible. The ideas speak louder than the person creating them because whatever abilities I have were given to me, and thus this website is not a product of me but of abilities bestowed upon me by the world. Its goal is transcendence through nihilism. Part of that involves not praising the mediocre, not following social conventions like trying to make everyone feel good about their mediocre ideas, and not worrying too much about your email.
That wraps up our commentary for today. No matter how bad it looks outside, you are an autonomous agent and can do whatever is necessary to make life better. There's no need to despair if your kingdom is a small one - if we each fixed even the space in which we stand or live, the world would reorganize itself overnight.
January 3, 2006