exponentiation ezine
exponentiation en ezine

exponentiation ezine: issue [1.0:features]

"On the concept of God"

I neither will nor can deny that this is partly a religious writing;
however, it differates greatly from what we label as "religion" or
"spirituality" in modern society. I attempt to capture some
universal truths about the cosmos and thus aim for its totality as
scope of this writing. As one aspect of this quintessential sphere
is irreversibly bound to another, interconnected and flowing through
each other, I will both aim for both spirituality and
intellectuality, although without dividing this thought into
dualism. Categorization and generalization is the foundation of
intellectual realization, but I don't construct abstract terms of
convenience to suit my ideology or convictions; I seek reality as it
is in itself: Hegel's "Wie es eigentlich geweisen," to use a
philosophical language of higher culture. Hence, generalization is
to say something about a set of events, or phenomenas, without
having to dwell into the irregularities of deviance. Categorization
is simply a way to arrange our thoughts in these regards. It can be
argued that my inductions are colored by myself as an individual,
but this as such should not hinder men in interpreting their
surroundings based on knowledge on the world as it steps forth,
understandably not influenced by any predetermined social constructs
based on emotionalism and generated convictions after being exposed
to dualist dogmatism.

Let us first approach the concept of God, the notion of an absolute
being as the source and maintainer of totality, the universe as a
whole. We know that everything that has a physical manifestation
also has a causal origin, that is, a cause other than itself from
which it necessarily springs. God as such is explained to be the
source of everything, but is at its essence an uncausal being. From
this follows, that God cannot be a manifested entity, and rather
exists as a potential for perfection, that is unreachable at the
essence of reality. It is a natural law that perfection in one
direction negates perfection in the other: you cannot be the perfect
man and the perfect woman at the same time, you cannot be warm and
cold at the same time, and you cannot be truly benign and truly
malignant at the same time, as different creatures would be
subjective in these regards. As a consequence of this realization,
it dawns that the Divine cannot be personified without being
limited, and thus not divine. Not personified, not manifested. 

For this reason the Judeo-Christian concept of Jehovah, an allegedly
all good, all powerful entity must be faulty, and his struggle with
Satan bordering on the ridiculous for this omnipotent creature. Yet
we still have the notion of this divine being, on an abstract,
spiritual level, as a potential unreachable for a limited creature
with a will. A will is the direction of a matter, the basis of
totality embrace all aspects of being that can be reached, and must
thus be without will in itself. As for the basis of having knowledge
of a will outside of your own intellect, it would suffice to say
that your intellectualism is only a small part of your existence,
what defines the self. One might say that rationality is but an
island floating on top of a sea of instincts, external prospects,
and pre determined destiny, and as such, one cannot doubt the
reality of a world outside one's own senses. Since external
prospects such as mechanical damage, experiences, chemicals and the
like effect your brain and thus your mind, there can be no doubt as
to their actual existence independently of your mind. 

Onward to the world of representation that takes form as time, space
and matter, conceived by the senses and interpreted by them, yet
existing independently from them. The matter can be seen as a
manifestation of totality; let me attempt to categorize these
aspects in a basic manner. The totality as such is divided into
living material and dead material, the first standing out as it has
a will, on the most primitive and foundational a will simply for
life, and without this will to life, the material would be dead.
Also flowing through in interconnection with these aspects are the
absolute, Brahman or Tuisto of Indo-European tradition, that was
approached above, and we have thus a categorized quadrualism to deal
with. As a given creature dies, his living material returns to dead
matter, and his will, his direction returns to the all potential.
All that is living takes this course, and all that is dead and
undirected, namely matter and the absolute, will again take new form
as a living entity.

This metaphysical understanding come as a supplement and a
furtherment of the lessons taught in physics, in that energy can
neither be created nor vanish, only take different forms, and it
should be quite obvious for any properly schooled person that this
knowledge based on reason also can be found in various Indo-European
religions, and that philosophy as such is related to this ancient
lore. All ages have a level of wisdom, and all ages are close to
spiritual understanding and close to God in these regards.

Furthermore, there are two basic forces that move the represented
world in terms of space and matter, those being expansion and
contraction. The being of the universe is still in a state of
expansion after the big bang, and it's a strong theoretical
possibility that once this working power has ceased to propel the
matter away from each other, the pull of gravity will work as a
catalyst for bringing the matter back together again. As such, one
must take into account of there being a third state of being the
universe can descend into, that is namely total stasis, there being
a perfect harmony between the forces of expansion and contraction.
This state would in practical terms only be possible at two given
stages, namely when the universe has expanded to it's full
potential, and the pull of gravity comes into play to counterbalance
the expansionist force perfectly. 

In such an event, one might say that the universe, the absolute, has
reached its most abstract level, the matter is spread out in vast
distances, and the direction of the matter, the will, is at its most
limited level. The Indo-European concept of Brahman or Tuisto can be
best used to describe this stage, for the absolute has no physical
totality, only potential for being, stardust floating across the
vast seas of space. More so, living material would long have ceased
to be, as it's conceivable that the atoms themselves would be spread
out to thin for life to take form, in addition to there being no
warming sun to ignite the spark of life in the first place. To
clarify, this state of complete expansion before the pull backwards,
would move God (previously explained) to its most abstract level on
our table shown here: 

The state of Brahman: 

Dead material (y)  Living material (n)  Will (n)  The all
potential (y) 

Irrevocably, however, the basic forces of the universe would again
come into play. Contraction, that is, the gravity of each object and
every matter would start working on each other, pulling the matter
back together. The process would accelerate, until all the matter in
the universe was gathered at one point, a sphere of absolute
totality. Needless to say, this would again lead to a return of the
big bang, when all the matter is hurled out in different directions.
When the force of gravity in this stage is in harmony, stillness
with expansion, before the plunge, we are at yet another stage. The
absolute would be at its most total physical manifestation, that is
to say, a manifested entity at one given location, containing all
the aspects of the matter unlimited by space and time. Space outside
this sphere would be void, and time would be irrelevant as nothing
came to pass. Life as we know it would be impossible, as all such
life would have direction within the matter. The matter here would
be whole, or "Heil," with no potential nor need for deviance. 

I would label this stage as the state of Ymir, to use yet another
concept from Indo-European mythology. The absolute would be
manifested, but for it to become life, to become directed, it would
have to spread out. For the will is manifested in all it's totality,
but cannot become directed before being hurled out in the cycle of
time and space again. Thus, as the gods of Norse mythology created
life through the body of Ymir, the possibility of existence and
development comes through the terrible power of expansion that yet
again disrupts the manifested totality. 

The state of Ymir: 

Dead material (y) - Living material (n) - Will (y)  The all
potential (n) 

Let us now delve deeper into the concept of time. Time can per
definition only be a valid tool when events take place in cosmos.
Deprived of this, time becomes irrelevant, but in between the two
stages of harmony, namely Brahman and Ymir, Potential and matter,
time comes into play. Time develops is a single, progressing line,
what is done cannot be undone, and one cannot move in any direction
but forward. Time is also the prerequisite for life, without time,
one would have no movement at all. It's an interesting knowledge
that the passing of time can be bent by speed, curved so to speak,
however, this will be explored later. I will on the other hand
approach the subject of a mathematically pre determined universe.
Past, present and future are bound together with the strongest seals
of cosmos, without it, the universe would have had to entered stages
of Nirvana. Events in the past effect the present, and that again
will effect the future, all has it's casualty. 

Thus it is a given, that once the linear time has been launched, the
universe is mathematically predetermined, conceivable only for a
mind of the greatest magnitude, the universe itself that embrace it.
Destiny, it seems, is in us all, and as such, in the span of the
lifetime of a universe, we shall go through ages both of grandeur
and the greatest shame. An age of greatness is reached when the
collective will, society or the tribe, works towards a higher end,
whatever that end might be. An age of decay comes when the pleasure
and comfort of the individual is put before anything else, as such
individualism negates a collective direction except the seeking of
pleasure, and thus, little can be achieved. Different culture groups
have had varying ways to tackle the realization of a destiny once
they have developed sufficiently to grasp it. Eastern cultures have
tended to stagnate into fatalism, and passively accept whatever ills
and joys that come over them. 

Western cultures, at least during the last millennia, have attempted
to tear from this realization by introducing free will, as if man
was in complete control of his surroundings and the past before him.
While such a mentality leads to a more active approach to the world,
it completely defies the laws of nature that we are bound to, as we
attempt to assert our will and dominance over it regardless of the
consequences outside our own constructed, moral world. In all
simplicity, this free will has lead to the wishy wishy fantasy world
that a society is successful that produces the greatest amount of
happy individuals, that needless to say, all wills for happiness.
These individuals together have a limited base of resources, and to
pursue such happiness each moment would lead to a neglect of the
concept of necessarily ills to reach a higher end. Creatures would
thus dance, feed and multiply merely like the grasshopper, not
realizing that winter is approaching, and winter is coming fast. 

The wise ant, however, prepares and is thus capable of existing even
in the harshest climates. Likewise, a bread, cheese and some wine is
all that it takes to make a small group of friends happy, but if you
share it with a thousand uncontributing outsiders this little joy is
split up into irrelevancy. Indo-European groups of the past had a
third approach to this philosophical problem, namely a heroic spirit
and an accept of fate as it is. Such as the ant doesn't know wether
or not he, or in a greater view the hive will endure winter, he
works hard nonetheless, and in the same way, the Germanic warrior
faced the previously unbeatable Roman legions on the battlefield.
The course of history was made by men and women of such courage. 

For the feeble mind, such predeterminism would discourage the
deployment of constructive action, and lead to only the endorsement
of comfort in the longing for better times. Know this, that if the
path of sloth is chosen, it becomes your destiny, if cowardice takes
hold, it becomes your faith. On the other hand, when the longing for
betterment becomes great enough, creatures of consenting will shall
come together and form new ages, a resurrection from the ashes of
the ancient times. For the cycles of microcosmos go faster than the
macrocosmos, the universe as a whole. 

Two thousand years of Christian hegemony, the furtherment of the
individual into lesser thought, lesser blood and lesser being,
stands on the brink of a cataclysm. Even now, we consume 20% more of
the resources than the earth can replenish each year, and the world
population is expanding in an almost linear graph year by year.
Roughly around 1940, there were 2,5 billion people on this planet.
By 1990, these were doubled, as we had 5 billion humans to feed,
consume and rape our mother. As this is written, we are closing in
on having seven billion people. Even the most anti-alarmist
professors acknowledge that this planet as a maximum can hold 12
billion people, if they only eat rice and have as many belongings as
an average peasant at the Chinese countryside. Clearly, the first
world is consuming much more than that, and combined with the
explosion of the population in the third world, this day and age
will be brought to its knees.

But out from the ashes of our failure, something new shall arise,
something stronger, something that has flowed through the waves of
folly that have washed over us the past 2000 years. Where Christ
brought us equality, we shall have inequality, where Christ brought
us mercy, we shall be merciless, where Christ gave us quantity over
quality, we will see that only the strong and intelligent survive
the hard times that are over us. A new society must be built, where
renewable energy sources fuel technology only used for higher aims.
An agricultural existence will be the fate of the common man, where
small communities come together to defend their interests, grow
their crops and rule themselves as they see fit.

Those of the highest genetic quality will either become warriors or
the ruling thinkers. Warriors, naturally, are to defend the
establishment against insurgents, maintain order, and perhaps even
hunt down the remnants of the Judeo-Christian internationalist
anticulture, that in their bitterness would tear at the very fabric
of the social structure. The thinkers on the other hand, would be
only the select few with largely superior intellects, living
separated lives while guiding the masses on a greater scale than
petty politics, and working towards goals of bettering the human
race and furthering technology towards altruistic goals, such as
space travel and eventually space colonization. Electric power would
only be available to this caste, as only decay and unnecessary
luxury would be the result if the short sighted mob took hold of
this. Membership of this high ranking order would have to be earned,
and even though their sons and daughters would be favored
genetically in such regards, they would have to prove their worth
before ascending in rank. 

We now find ourselves at the stage of motion, when the universe
moves from one stage to another, and as the quadrualism of the
universe is expressed to it's full extent, the possibilities are
many and the potential endless. As we ascend in spirituality, our
understanding of cosmos, the totality will increase. Spirituality
here is not the faulty belief of a personified, dualist God, an
unmoving mover behind the stage, but a realization what the universe
is, and what it can become. Still, divinity is a concept to explore,
let me elaborate this a little. If I were to travel thousands of
years years back in time, and bring along a helicopter, a TV, and an
assault rifle, the primitive tribes would surely think of me as a
god. For to the lesser mind, any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic, and for the lesser creature, a higher
form of life is terrible to behold. Imagine how an ape views a human
wielding a rifle, or how a dog views a human wielding a whip.

Mankind as a whole is at a stage of growing toward something greater
to ourselves, when we are able to breed fourth humanoids with vastly
superior intellects, and vastly superior bodies, they will become
the new gods for us. Not some abstract punisher looming behind the
clouds, but a god in flesh and spirit, just as the olds gods were.
Odin, Thor, Hercules and Apollon were all human prototypes of
something greater than ourselves, and we can make them walk this
earth once more. It is in the individuals interest to see this done,
for through the blood we are passed on, and only a higher form of
man can escape the warm embrace of our earth mother into the vast
emptiness of space. Immortality can only be reached if we evolve, if
our blood somehow endure tests unimaginable today. Finding ourselves
capable of utilizing the resources of space, we would have billions
of years before the end came in form of a collapse, and it is then
conceivable that there can be found ways to avoid it.

When a star collapses inward, it often forms a black hole, a field
of concentrated gravity that all matter is drawn to. Such phenomena
would Irrevocably lead to the contraction of space, given there are
enough and arguably powerful enough black holes. However, theories
have been conceived that this matter again can be distributed in
space by utilizing white holes, or wormholes, where the represented
world is curved and distances as such is of little concern. Imagine
a piece of paper, travel from point A to point B would necessarily
have to be done in a linear pattern, at least in conventional
wisdom. But if the paper is curved, point A and B would be merged,
and the matter the black hole attract to itself could be poured into
a new location. As such, the universe might be given eternal life
beyond its cycle of creation and the undoing of creation. 

Only by utilizing our direction, our will, this can be done, a will
not to become everything, as in the contracted sphere before the big
bang, but a will to be what we are. "Thou shall," those cursed words
that has haunted us since the fall of our civilization, shall be
answered with, "I will." For the path of Jehovah is to deny life, to
long for one's direction to become equal to and thus similar with
totality and yet again be thrown into the circular pattern of
existence. Our Nirvana would be to balance the worlds perfectly and
unrelentlessly, to thus exist forever. - GarmGormius 

-=-

"Clashing Steel: The Myth of Conan the Barbarian"

Clashing skulls, crushed bones and shimmering crimson blood on cold
steel, truly a spectacle to be beheld by eyes ravished with the
fires of battle's passion. It's the fiery battle-ridden epic of
Conan the Barbarian that mirrors these spectacles, much as the eyes
that are ravished by the gleam of battles flare. It is an arcane and
immortal tale, which forges its themes in a Hyperborean world; it is
a feral habitat fit to temper Conan with the values of Nietzsche's
overman and of Zen's spiritual focus and discipline.

Many a tale has been told that coincides with the principles of the
overman and of Zen, but few of them crash down on it so perfectly as
Conan the Barbarian. Conan is the self actualized man, the vehical
in which, much like Nietzsches Zarathustra, promotes the values and
the ideals of the Ubermensch, the new man. The quest of Conan mimics
that of classic western myth it is laced with battles and it
exemplifies the individuals journey into the realm of
self-actualization and self mastery and it does so with the nod
towards Nietzsche and bow towards the Samurai. 

Conan began as a series of short pulp fiction stories created by
Robert E. Howard during the 1940s that writer/director John Milius
converted into a movie concept in the early 1980s. It is
specifically Conan's journey taken in the film by Milius that will
be focused on in regards to its Nietzschean and Zen themes.
Sometimes it would appear when viewing Conan the Barbarian as though
Nietzsche sat down with a Zen philosopher and etched out the script
to a film. Utilizing both the themes of the will to power and
combining it with a Zen sense of honor and discipline, Milius' Conan
is one of unparallel will, honor, and strength and is of
disciplined, spiritual supremacy like that of the a Samurai warrior. 

The movie opens with a black screen inscribed with the ponderous
words, "what does not kill me, makes me stronger," a paraphrase of
one of Nietzsche's great mantras. Truly that small but heavy phrase
is the backbone to Milius' version of Conan, as that which tests
Conan to the brink of death only makes him stronger and more
disciplined. This hero's tale follows in the vein of the epic heroic
structures of grand tales such as Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, and other
fantastic hero journeys. Conan is the tale of one mans journey for
redemption, one mans journey into becoming the overman, using what
Nietzsche called "the will to power." This is the tale of an iron
will forged in a blistering flame, freely from the hands of God;
this is the tale of a man birthed and nurtured by the earth and
swept into the enigma of the cosmos; this is the tale of a man whose
personality and character are forged like a sword in the fire and
cooled into unbreakable strength by an unbending desire into the
journey for self supremacy. 

While Conan was a child of nine his town and people were slain by
the Snake Cult led by Thulsa Doom, a spiritual leader in search for
the answer to the riddle of steel. It is Thulsa Doom who represents
the spirit of the mob and the spirit of the Abrahamic religions
which promote the herd mentality philosophers like Nietzsche fought
against. He is the spiritual sage who realizes the void of existence
and attempts to blind others of that reality, feeling that man can
not obtain value in a valueless world withtout the illusion of a
grand, all powerful god figure. Thus is the nature of Thulsa Doom
and it is Conan with his journey into self actualization who will
prove the spirit of the ubermensch can overcome the herd and
establish grand value in a world and universe feral and cold. Doom
then represents passive nihilism and Conan represents the anthesis
in active nihilism. 

When the Snake Cult sacked Conan's village, Conan witnessed his
mother and father driven down before him in pools of blood by the
hands of Thulsa Doom. This moment marked the first step into Conans
journey as it was his summons to action, the begining of his great
quest for redemption in which his will and courage would be forged.
This concept is also illustrated by Joseph Campbell's traditional
hero path as it was the moment that marked Conan's summons to action
and began his journey into the abyss. The abyss marked by
Nietzsche's words, "when one stares into the abyss the abyss surely
also stares into them," is the void in which one can either be
consumed or where one can rise to the task and establish ideals and
dreams in a tangible way. Conan is the man who's journey actualizes
his dreams and ideals and thus revamps the pagan sense of spirit and
honor. This is a quest as old as the earth itself and as eternal as
the night sky; from it there is something for us all to learn and
for us all to extract, somthing pagan, something immortal. 

As Conan's eyes witnessed his peoples life soak into the snow, the
marble of his eyes reflected back the birth of his will, his will
for revenge; it was the birth of his will to power and the start of
his journey. From this summons came a series of tests that would
help to forge his being into a Nietzschean hero for he was alone
with nobody to help him and he had to overcome the struggle within;
his alienation would help birth his will and would help him create a
new moral code away from the standard and the bourgeois. The first
grand test came as Conan was enslaved by the Snake Cult and sold to
the Mongol warriors who led him to the wheel of pain, a mammoth
structure with no purpose other than to serve as a form of laborous
torture. For ten years Conan pushed at that wheel until he grew into
a man all the while child after child, man after man, dropped from
the wheel from exaustion and fatigue, but Conan mustered the
strength and will to overcome the conditions and rose to success. 

When he achieved the state of physical manhood he was like an
innocent child in spirit, born fresh to the world, inquiring of what
it had to offer and teach him. The wheel had acted like a mother
towards Conan's spirit, it was his teacher and one of his great
tests in the Hyperborean world. The willingess of Conan to surive
the ordeal of the wheel of pain echoed to the world that he had the
nature of a champion and his courage helped him accomplish great
tasks. He had the spirit of a Samurai and the strength of the
Ubermensch. 

Conan the Barbarian is a story that takes a step back in time and
dives into the pagan sense of being and consistantly furthers itself
from the Judeo-Christian moralism that has filled the world. Conan
is a man endowed with the spirit and soul of a pagan warrior; he is
a demigod, a man who attains the strength to mold his ideals into
reality. Pity is not a concept known to Conan, neither is weakness.
Conan never gives up on an idea, he never slips from his goals, and
he follows through his quests with great prudence and dignity. Never
is he afraid to try a new means to obtain his goal and never does he
exhibit fear and weakness. He is a man driven by a fire unseen by
the common eye; he is a man propelled by the fuel that ebbed the
essence of creation. The story of Conan does not soften the blows or
turn the quest for redemption into a martyrs pity ridden journey.
Conan the Barbarian is ebbed with valor, honor and the strength to
succeed. This is evident in Conan's ability to rise to the test of
each trial he faces without fear and witout complaint. Never does
Conan moralize an action, or pity a cause, for he always rises to
the occassion with strength and ferver all the while staying true to
his code of honor. 

A new and higher morality is embraced by the spirit of Conan and it
is a spirit and code that orbits first and foremost around action.
Conan is a man of few words and is instead a man with many modes of
action. The redemption of Conan is pursued in full glory and is not
left to the action of gods to decide the outcome, it is left to the
hand and breast of Conan. This revelation is realized in the film as
Conan called to Crom during a final battle and said, "battle pleases
you Crom, so grant me one request. Grant me revenge. And if you do
not listen, then to hell with you!"[2] Conan refuses to yield to the
fates and instead carves his own destiny. God or no God, Conan sees
that destiny must be siezed by his hand and should not be left to
the suppositions of a God figure fufilling those dreams and ideals.
Conan breaks from the common morals and codes of living which
embrace passivity and yield to a godhead to heal and take care of
all dreams and ideals. Instead Conan sees that active disipline
helps man forge his destiny and obtain his goals and to be passive
in action and towards one's ideals rarly allows ones goals and
dreams to see fruition. 

Whereas the Judeo-Christian codes yield to faith and the intervetion
of a supreme being to yield results the pagan essence of Conan the
Barbarian is one of self-actualization and self-determination, free
from the constraints of an instinsic metabeing who is active in
controling this world. This pagan concept is also a foundation of
Nietzsche's self-created ubermensch and is also apparant in Zen's
spiritual self-actualization. Conan holds no abosolute moral dogma,
but instead acts doing what is necessary to obtain the goals and
ideals he has set. For example Conan will not moralize the act of
killing, he sees no intrinsic evil in the action and to kill is
somthing that is a part of life, but Conan goes about killing only
when necessary and when warranted; he would not go around killing
men, women and childeren blindly; this shows he is a man with a code
of honor, the code of a warrior, as opposed to a code of absolute
morals; in Conan there is no moralizing of the action.

This is the aspect of the new morality as espoused in the
philosophic texts of Nietzsche and it was also the code of the
Samurai warrior. Another aspect that seperates Conan from the herd
mentality is his vieying for redemption without pity or moralizing.
He goes forth in full stride to obtain redemption for the killing of
his family and village when he was a young boy. Whereas the
Judeo-Christain act of revenge is stooped in bitterness and
self-rightousness, the revenge saught by Conan is cloaked with honor
and self-control. He has not twisted himself into a pitiful wretch
of anger and resentment, but instead has transfigured the pains and
strifes into an armor of inner strength which he brandishes with
pride. Conan strives to create and self-actualize, whereas the
Judeo-Christian revenge seeker strives for equalization and is
commonly fueled by pity, morals and bitterness, quite often towards
one who does not fall into line with their belief; the inquisition
and the Crusades serve as twoexamples amongst many. 

Many tests were presented to Conan which probed his might and helped
forge his desire and will. They helped carry him beyond good and
evil. The fighting pit introduced Conan to his ability to overcome
strife in a heartbeat, as it was an arena where the most ponderous
and strongest slaves fought to the death. Conan's first journey into
the pit saw him with the spirit of a child; he carried with him a
spirit like Enkidu of Gilgamesh, innocent, feral and awaiting
experience so as to be molded. Conan took the journey from pure
innocence to heroism. In the pit Conan grew stronger and he crushed
his opponent, and in that moment Conan knew that which did not kill
him surely would make him stronger; Conan had in those moments
learned to tune his will, he learned to fight and win, he learned to
master the tests of a hero. He went on to kill many men and he
learned to do it very well, so well that the Mongol warriors who
held him as a slave embraced him. They taught him the art of Kendo
and the spirit of Zen; they taught him sword fighting, and they
taught him how to attune his will through discipline, and served as
his teachers on his quest. The warriors served a purpose suited to
express the Niezschean and Zen values of the story as they believed
in honor, duty, individual strength and the power of the will to
overcome all adversity in order to obtain a sense of higher being,
free from the hand of a supernatural being. Man is left free to mold
his destiny. 

Upon absorbing the skills that the masters had to teach him Conan
enters the feral world for the first time, breaking the chains of
his slavery and entering the abyss. Conan entered the abyss of the
earth and was chased by wolves in a primordial, prehistoric and
lawless land; he had crossed the threshold of the hero and had
entered a state of nihilism where the world was void and his will
was what would allow him to become king to make his own values.
Weaponless and defenseless against the barren landscape around him
all Conan could do was run into the night until he was able to find
a shelter; that shelter came when he fell into a cave embedded in a
rock in the middle of the desert. What Conan found in the cave would
be what would take him through his trials and tests and it would be
like a brother to him on his quest. Conan found a dead warrior
sitting on a throne and in his hand he was holding a rusted sword, a
sword that Conan grasped and from which he chiseled the rust. It
became an extension of his inner self and was wielded by his side as
his most faitful companion. That sword represented Conan's manhood
and Conan's strength, it was the one thing he could trust, and it
was infused with his strength and will. Steel was his first and
greatest helper on his quest. 

Flesh, like steel, can be molded and tempered into strength; thus is
the nature of Conan. He is the blacksmith of his soul and of his
will, always tempering himself in the fires of strife so as to forge
the ultimate self, which embodies his ideals and dreams and goes
beyond good and evil. Conan had crossed the abyss and stared it
streight in the face. He realized that the world would have to be
commanded by his will and could not be left to the will of others,
or even worse, the will of a false god. Many trials and test saw
their way to Conan, and each one served to temper a new element of
his personality and character and they help him distance himself
from the herd. 

Conan's trials cut right down into the depths of his soul; they
challenge him mentally, physically and spiritually. It's the will of
Conan's spirit that is tested on his quest for Thulsa Doom and it's
Conan's strength of body and mind that helps him to get there. There
is much sorcery that meets Conan on his journey and it is this
sorcery that serves to represent the ways of the old order and
lesser spiritualisms that must be overcome in a new area and the new
area of man would be the ones to rush out the weak spiritualism and
embrace instead the strong and perinneal mysticism abound in the
feral landscapes of the earth and within the vast abyss of the night
sky.

Conan is the new man rushing in these new concepts and higher
principles. He is strong and in his ability to overcome the sorcery
and manipulation that he finds in the world around him he learns to
better harmonize himself with nature and he learns to better attune
his will so that he may obtain his goals for redemption and for a
higher self. Conan tunes his mind and his spirit in order to become
just like the overman that Nietzsche talked about in his philosophic
texts. The quests in Conan's adventure serve to show his
transformation from child to man to overman. 

The journeys of Conan are not done fully with sole independence, as
he dwells in solace and he is alientated from the normal man, but he
does engage with higher spirits like his own and they help his
quest; these principles embody a Samurai sense of community. Upon
first coming out of the cave with his new sword, Conan quickly
encounters companions who assist him on his journey. These
companions do not stay with him through all aspects of his journey,
particularly the climax, but they offer him aid that helps him
conquer his foes and accomplish his goals. The ability for the
companions to come and go allows the deeper themes of the Conan
legacy to seep though. This is a man of self-reliance, he
self-actualizes and has the ability to handle his own, but he
accpets help when given and he takes it when it helps his goal, but
there comes a time where he must part company to continue to strive
for the goal and this marks Conan's Zen disipline and his ability to
alienate himself so as to mediate and self-actualize like the
Nietzschean overman.

The companions Conan meets with are two thieves, Valeria and Sabotai
and from them he learns many things. From Valeria he learns the art
and values of companionship and from Sabotai he learns of the
loyalty in close friendship and what it means to have an ally.
Eventually Conan breaks from their companionship for a time for he
must seek his own spiritual quest in much the same way Sidhartha did
in Hermen Hesses novel of the same name. This point of companion
parting came when Conan and his companions had received gold from
King Osric for promising to find his daughter for him. Valeria
wanted to take the money and split but Conan had a deeper more
spiritual mission to fulfill, that of avenging his boyhood and
coming into contact with Thulsa Doom, the leader of the Snake Cult.
Conan took the path of the hero and stayed true towards what his
higher goals were, this is somthing very present in classical myth. 

In the sense of how Conan engages in friendships he exhibts his
personality that vies for efficiency, sincerity and minimalism.
Conan surrounds himself with a few close allies who remain deeply
loyal to him and his cause, they would ride with him into the bowels
of hell and he would do the same for them. This ability exhibits a
prinicple of the higher man to decree his own values and live by
them with honor and integrety. Conan has a sense of duty and
obligation, but it is a duty he set forth for himself, not one that
was forced upon him by a supernatural abstraction. There is an
ability in Conan to blend both idealism and physicality, as he is
rooted in the material world yet is able to embrace the mystery of
the cosmos and create concepts and dreams. The character of Conan is
very much like a romantic in that light, as he is passionate about
existence and the things that fill it but he is also able to be
passionate about his conceptions and his abstractions. He is not
consumed by adherence to a false or weak dogma and he does not give
in to being consumed by the abstractions of a supernatural godhead
as the Snake Cult has. 

This spiritual and more conceptual side of Conan is exhibited in the
Zen aspects of the Conan film. Conan is very much like a samurai,
bonded to the world and he has deep sense of spiritualism, a
transcendental spiritualism that, and this is key, self-actualizes
and materializes as opposed to dematerializes into an abstraction
that never sees fruition. Conan's spiritualism is linked to his body
and it is linked to his passions, ideals and dreams in which he
seeks to see them forced upon the world to create change. The Snake
Cult on the other hand deals in nothing but lofty abstractions that
do not see fruition in the material world. They are willing to see
the material world as an illusion and will create principles based
upon the illusion and this is exemplified by Thulsa Dooms calling to
a maiden high on a cliff to come to him and she obeys, falling to
her death for nothing. 

Conan roots his values, spiritualism and ideas within the physical
world and sees value in decreeing his own value. The Snake Cult are
slaves to abstraction and abstracted ideas that hold no merit in the
physical cosmos. Thus Conan embraces a pagan idealism which
self-actualizes and embraces the physical world and creates its
romanticism around it, whereas the Snake Cult represents those who
have created a lofty ideal and serve to represent the Christian form
of passive idealism. Finally, Conan is unfocused on obtaining the
good will of a non-existent diety though applying a code of morals,
or a standard of living, much like that of the pious Snake Cult who
are latched to the ideas of an allmighty godhead. 

In Conan the Barbarian there is a sense of a father figure in Thulsa
Doom that is recognized throughout the film. This father figure is
something that pops up often in classic myth. It was Thulsa Doom who
killed Conan's parents and it was Doom that Conan sought revenge
upon. It was also Doom, however, who fathered the will of Conan, for
if he did not slaughter Conan's village and Conan's parents there
would be no quest for Conan and no current goal for him to strive
for. The pain and strife is what created meaning, not pleasure, this
is somthing that is also embedded in the philsophy of Zen. It was
also Doom who sent Conan to the wheel of pain and sold him as a
slave to the Mongol warriors and it was the wheel that had acted
like a mother to Conan. A sense of the spiritual father figure
liters Conan's adventures and it is a vehicle to push forward the
themes of obtaining atonement and redemption. Eventually Conan would
stare his father figure Thulsa Doom in the face and overcome him and
the restraints he imposed, thus making the full break from man into
overman. 

There is a moment in the film where Conan is faced with the father
figure atonement of a traditional hero's journey. The father figure,
Thulsa Doom, had captured Conan and brought him on his knees
bleeding before him. Conan vocalizes to Doom, "you killed my
parents," in which Doom replys that the action was a phase of his
youth. Doom then goes on to explain how he has fathered Conan by
sending him to the wheel thus instilling in him the fire for revenge
that has driven him over the years. Thulsa Doom tells Conan what he
has discovered to be the riddle of steel, he says to Conan, "what is
steel compared to the hand that wields it? It's nothing. Flesh is
power, flesh is strength."[1] In that moment it is recognized that
Conan is strength of flesh and he is what Doom can never be; Conan
is beyond Thulsa Doom, for Doom relies on magic and Conan relies on
his will and the strength of his own hand. Doom then crucifies Conan
in the desert, symbolically representing the enlightening
death/rebirth apparent in classic myth. Conan is sent to the gates
of death out in the desert but he is rescued by his old companions
and brought back into the world of the living. When he is
resurrected he arises as a full man of pure will and power, and he
has recieved a sense of psychological atonement for addressing Doom
in person. The only thing left to do for Conan is to fulfill his
quest for redemption and then only would he have crossed fully into
the realm of the overman. 

After Conan's revivification he bashes forth to accomplish his goals
and ends up doing more than he had set out to do when he began his
journey. After being revived by his companions Conan sets out to the
lair of Doom and his followers and rescues the King's daughter. Time
and time again Conan managed to thwart Doom and his minions and this
proved to show the heroics of Conan; he never stopped, he never gave
in, he was pure will and he was driven by his passion, his spirit
and his mind and he overcame adversity at all odds. Even when it was
magic being tossed at him, Conan found a way to out strength it.
Adaptation is one of Conan's greatest virtues and it is a virtue of
the overman. Along the path to retrieving the princess Conan lost
Valeria and he experienced loss once more, but he converted it into
more will and desire to obtain his goal for revenge against Thulsa
Doom; these are the many tests of the traditional hero and Conan met
them aptly. 

Conan took down Doom's challenges one by one. When Doom came to
collect the princess Conan outwitted him and set traps; when Doom
lost his best men to Conan and was defeated, he attempted to kill
the princess from afar with an arrow, but he once again failed as
Conan managed to thwart him. This is, again, the spirit of the
overman, it is determination, skill in many areas of life and the
ability to adapt to the situation quickly and efficently. After
being defeated Doom retreats to his followers who still collect en
masse and Conan follows him to his palace. When Doom is giving a
speech to all his followers up on the balcony of his tower, Conan
approaches him out of the shadows so as to represent his coming out
of the darkness, his prevailing over the threshold and the
stranglehold Doom has held on his soul. Doom sees Conan and knows
his time is coming to an end and says to Conan, "my son come to me,
join me and we can rule the world!" 

The eyes of Conan reflect the fire of the torches in this moment so
as to symbolize his passion and desire. Conan knew not to be
manipulated by Thulsa Doom's hypnotic words and eyes, he was seeing
at that moment though his heart, and these things saw the truth
clearly, thus allowing Conan to lift his sword from his side to lop
off the head of Thulsa Doom, thus vanquishing himself from the
father figure and marking his return from the threshold of the hero
journey. In this moment Conan overcame his last and greatest
obstacle, he became the true overman. 

Conan had come out of the quest's abyss a whole man, the overman, a
heroic man and he not only had vanquished himself he had also
vanquished the souls of the followers who had become captivated by
Doom; this was his gift to the people which he gave upon his return
from the threshold. Each follower one by one extinguished their
torch and wandered into the black horizon, free from the cult, free
to self-actualize and embrace the void. Conan was a hero to the
people and put an end to the Snake Cult for good by throwing a grail
of fire into the temple, allowing it to burn to ashes. The new man,
the overman, towered above the flaming tower supreme in will and
spirit. 

This climax of Conan the Barbarian served as Conan's greatest test,
as it was the overcoming of the father figure and the releasing of
the people into the abyss, away from the false security offered by
the Snake Cult. Over and over again the character of Conan proves
the strength of his heart and will are able to overcome all odds and
all challenges thrown at him, even when he should lose he conquers. 

Conan's journey taught him the will to survive, the will to succeed,
and the will to power. He learned the value of the opening mantra,
that which does not kill him only makes him stronger. He learned to
overcome the superstitions of the common man and he arose to the
spirit he created for himself. At the end of his journey in Conan
the Barbarian, Conan learns that it is he who is the answer to the
riddle of steel, it his he who is strength and forger of his
destiny. Conan learned the arts of Zen, strength, and thought from
the Mongol warriors and he learned the art of his will from his
journey and from his quest for redemption from the psychological
father figure that was Thulsa Doom. Conan was a silent intellectual,
pondering but never getting into tangles over his thoughts, instead
he took action upon them. He is an archetype of strength and
discipline, he is the overman. Truly, rare a story these days so
perfectly embodies the principles and philosophies of the overman
and of Zen, but Conan the Barbarian does, andit does so with the
flare of the battles flame. - Phantasm

Works Cited 

[1] Conan the Barbarian. Dir. John Milius. Perf. Arnold
Scwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow, and Sandahl Bergman.
Universal, 1982. 

[2] Smith, David C. "A Critical Appreciation of John Milius's Conan
The Barbarian" The Barbarian Keep Oct 28 2004 
http://www.barbariankeep.com/ctbds.html

-=-

"What Dualism?"

Dualism - or a metaphysic that divides reality into two distinct,
often oppositional states - has recently been subjected to an
astonishing array of criticism within contemporary intellectual
circles. The popular embrace of relativism and subjectivism as
applied to cultural studies, the paradigm shift away from
Aristotelian logic and towards "fuzzy" multiple-truth value logics,
and the widespread death of Romanticism in the arts have all played
their part in developing a new taboo against binarism and related
modes of philosophical understanding. Yet not all dualisms are
created equal, and it would be foolish indeed to categorically
denounce all such systems of thought offhand. In the present essay I
aim to consider three different perspectives on dualism - the
Kantian, the Christian, the Nietzschean, and the "Pagan"
(traditional Indo-European) - and in so doing offer my thoughts
regarding the intricacies of each and their place within an emerging
ontology of man's relationship to natural reality. 

The modern revolution against dualism can be traced directly back to
Nietzsche's philosophy of value. Nietzsche attacked Christianity's
division of reality into the earthly and the divine; more than this
he attacked the assignment of positive value to the divine and
negative value to the earthy, a valuation that he saw as
representative of weakness, resentment, and cowardice. His
criticisms however were not limited to theology, and Nietzsche is
only slightly less famous for his denunciations of Schopenhauer,
Socrates, and Kant on similar grounds. It is Nietzsche's treatment
of Kant that interests us here, in which the claim is made that
Kant's critical theory is, in essence, merely a watered down version
of Christianity's spiritual dualism.

Nietzsche's account of Kant is enticing and, as is often the case
with Nietzsche, astonishingly poetic, but it is also highly flawed.
Whereas Christianity draws a distinction between the
symbolic-spiritual (divine) and the literal-physical (earthly),
Kant's distinction is oriented towards an altogether different set,
namely the objective-external (metahuman) and the
subjective-internal (human). The difference is subtle but crucial.
Christian dualism posits two external realities - the physical and
the metaphysical - in which the latter is to be equated with truth
and the former with a distortion of truth (or at most a pale echo of
truth). Kant posits only one external reality, identified as
objective and non-human, which he contrasts with an internal
reality, identified as the subjective human realm of thought and
perception. The difference is not between physical and metaphysical,
natural and supernatural, real and ideal.which is what Nietzsche
railed against.but between reality as it is and reality as it is
perceived. 

At the heart of Kant's thought is the conviction that reality as
conceptualized by the human mind cannot be equated with the true
nature of existence. His distinction between the thing in itself and
its appearance does not denigrate earthly existence or do idealists
any favors. It simply asserts that the mind imposes form and
structure onto sensory data and thus constructs what man perceives
as external reality (which, as Kant correctly recognized, is not
"external" at all, but rather an internal subjective structure
masquerading as an objective one). In different language, it might
be said that human beings never interact with existence directly,
but only navigate reality by way of a mitigating symbolic realm
consisting of mentalist abstractions. The notion that the mind is
more than a reflective mirror and in fact participates in actively
coloring what it beholds strikes me as an almost intuitively obvious
conclusion.

When Nietzsche wrote, "The 'true world' and the 'apparent world' -
that means: the mendaciously invented world and reality," he
revealed quite plainly the problem inherent in his own thought. The
"mendaciously invented world" - what is this but an incorrect
perception, in Kant's language an inaccurate appearance? If it is
admitted that human beings are capable of perceiving "reality"
incorrectly, then surely the distinction between perceiver and
perceived, from which the bulk of Kant's critical theory is derived,
must also be valid. 

Nietzsche's position is, characteristically, too anthropocentric for
its own good, and I do not share his faith that our human powers of
observation are so finely tuned as to be wholly accurate, or that
the problem of differentiating between objective reality and the
perception of that reality is invalid; I also hold to my conviction
that there is a difference between being-in-the world and
being-the-world, the significance of which I cannot stress enough.
To be in the world is to have a limited comprehension of the greater
existence to which one is bound. To be the world is to posses a
one.to-one, total comprehension of said existence.s raw essence and
all interaction within it. The latter gives humanity far to much
credit. We are error-prone and have proven it countless times
throughout our brief history on this earth. 

At the same time however I find myself unsatisfied by Kant's
assertion that perceived existence is not merely incomplete, but
fundamentally arbitrary and necessarily incorrect. It is probably a
sound statement that "True Knowledge," which is to say knowledge
uninfluenced by the active structure of the human mind, can never be
attained and is futile to pursue, but perhaps there is some kind of
representational understanding that communicates an approximate, but
never complete, portrait of external reality. This might explain
what is meant when people refer to the "kernel of truth" sitting at
the heart of otherwise improbable or skewed concepts.

Darwin alone should serve as proof that not all our knowledge
regarding the external world is purely arbitrary. How else does one
explain a theory such as Evolution? To be sure, the language used to
describe evolutionary processes and the conceptual framework upon
which the perceived structure of genetic mutation sits must be
severely colored by the mind of Darwin and the subsequent
interpretations of scientists and laymen, but only a fool would deny
that the theory of evolution describes, however distantly, something
that is occurring consistently, externally, and as far as we can
feasibly determine, independent of human interference or
observation. 

Such a view no doubt emerges from precisely the kind of dogmatic
empiricism that Kant sought to transcend and that Schopenhauer
sought to deny. Yet it is exceedingly difficult to escape the
feeling that external reality must resemble, if only in a distant
fashion, the mentalist representations we use to navigate it - even
the immaterialist Berkely had to find some way of dealing with
reality's consistency and relative stability; in any case, there is
no obvious reason why one should give serious consideration to the
notion that this is not so, all (mandatory) respects paid to
Descartes and his tricky evil demon. If I am critical of Nietzsche's
rendition of the Kantian dilemma as a non-issue than I am even more
displeased by modern man's persistent refusal to lay trust in common
sense, observation, and intuition. 

***

But what of my assertion that Christianity is responsible for
western man's conception of the divine? That paganism conceived of
gods is clear. That most of Europe's formative races conceived of
reality in dualistic (though not absolutist or moralist) terms is
also evident.[1] Pagan dualism however, like Kantian theory, was not
describing a relationship between the divine-unseen-spiritual and
the human-apparent-physical, but rather a relationship between the
external-material-metahuman and the internal-immaterial-human. 

In pre-Judaic religions, nature and the divine were not divided into
separate realities. Every deity, god, and mythological tale was
representative of forces within nature, or of nature itself.[2]
Because pagan spirituality did not consider nature to be a human
domain, but rather an externalized superhuman domain, the resting
place of truth was not in something symbolic and abstract, but in
something material and external. When heathen peoples spoke of the
unseen, they were not referring to an unknowable abstraction (such
as the Hebrew Yahweh), but rather to a perceived essence, the
existence of which was still deduced by the observation of natural
physical phenomenon (such as wind for instance, the presence of
which is felt and the manifestations of which observed, but the
"essence" of which is elusive). The supernatural was not a valid
concept to the pagan mind, and as such the gods were not
metaphysical, but only metahuman.

The realm of symbols was the realm of representations, which existed
purely as human interpretation and speculation in the form of
mythology, while the realm of nature was the realm of the "divine" -
of truth, of spirituality. It was only with the coming of Judaism
that the gods were split from nature, turned into something abstract
and symbolic, and given divine existence in their own right.
Suddenly truth was not only metahuman, but metaphysical as well; the
gods were above both man and earth. Symbols had become truths in and
of themselves. 

From such an assessment it is clear that Christian spiritual dualism
is in actuality a degeneration of Indo-European trilogism, an
anti-natural construction comprising the kingdom of man (internal,
subjective), the kingdom of nature (external, false, sinful), and
the kingdom of god (super-external, immaterial-symbolic, absolute
truth). That Christianity lumps internal human existence together
with external earthly existence, thus transferring its "dualism"
away from the internal/external to the physical/meta-physical, can
only be regarded as a hideously large intellectual blunder. 

In Christianity the divine is little more than a composite of traits
from the internal world of human ideation and the external world of
natural existence. I regard this as highly dangerous, because in its
elevation of symbols to truths it has removed any chance for
empiricism to ground our abstracted knowledge. It is also rather
arrogant; it has created a dominion for truth that is both
symbolic/abstracted and external/absolute, therefore unfoundedly
gracing the human world with the transcendent rightness of the
metahuman world. 

Finally a tentative genealogy of dualism begins to appear: the early
Indo-European tribes utilized dualism as a framework through which
to understand man's place in the scheme of nature, and had no
conception of the metaphysical; Christianity, mingled with European
custom and thought, introduced the concept of the divine and shifted
the duality away from man and nature and onto nature and
meta-nature; Kant rescued something of the dualism of the ancient
Germanics; Nietzsche, violently reacting against both Christianity
and the perceived influence of said religion on Kant, dismissed the
latter perhaps too hastily. 

The modern philosopher - especially if he subscribes to a
"nihilistic" mode of understanding - must give serious thought to
the evolution of dualism and its place in contemporary thought. Some
form of dualism will be present in any philosophical discourse, and
it is not clear that a "non-dualistic" reality is even remotely
comprehensible. If nothing else the structure of our cognition,
which is thoroughly rooted in binary-oppositionalism, seems to
guarantee that we will not be evolving beyond the need to understand
reality dualistically anytime soon. The question is: what dualism?
What system is best suited to our current selves, our strange mix of
"modern ideas" (to use a Nietzschean turn of phrase) and our
integral culture? I remain optimistic that the answers are
forthcoming. 

1. Though for the Kelts this dualism was almost lazily established
in a manner that allowed for constant interaction and traveling
between its two perceived worlds. The blending of real, historical
peoples and places with mythological, superhuman narrative is
commonplace in Keltic literature. There is a tale in which, for
instance, the Tuatha De Danann are struggling with tax laws. 

2. This should be obvious upon even a cursory reading of European
mythological cycles. That these Gods (Thor, Manannan, Odin, Lugh,
etc.) also exhibit human characteristics should not be read too
literally; rather this is the expected outcome of a people
attempting to understand that which is greater than them by giving
natural forces human faces and personalities. There are of course
instances of mythological characters who are idealized
representations of human archetypes - such as Cuhulain - but these
are less common than tales revolving around nature deities and, when
taken holistically, usually depict man's struggle with natural
forces in some fashion or another. Although the gods are surely
representative of a complex matrix of ideas, they are all bound in
some fashion or another to the Indo-European's mystical conception
of nature. - Jordan

-=-

Biography of Malcolm X

The infamous Malcolm X, best known for his involvement with militant
black nationalism, first gained notoriety as the most vocal minister
in the "Nation Of Islam," a fundamentalist Islamic cult which
emphasized the importance of black self reliance and separatism
(racial separation from other racial groups such as Caucasians and
Mongoloids). Malcolm X's rise to infamy can be best attributed to a
change in his outlook on race relations - from his time before jail
and his time after as a NOI member - which would forever change the
course of his existence from a life of petty crime and racial
ambiguity to America's most outspoken black Nationalist leader in
the 50s and 60s. We must punctuate how Malcolm's philosophy on
racism and "white" culture developed over time, from extreme hatred
towards white society to a less destructive outlook on racialism
focusing on the equality-yet separation-of the races. It helps us to
understand Malcolm's contribution to both black racialism and the
human rights movement when the evolution, impact and appropriateness
of his work is examined in detail.

Born on may 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska as Malcolm Little, Malcolm
became quickly aware of the racial inequality that befell his
kinfolk, although any reason for it would elude a boy of his age.
His father Earl Little (supposedly murdered by KKK members or
members of the "Black Legion" [a]) was a preacher and follower of
Marcus Garvey, a vocal black leader who understood that Africans
could never truly be "free" in America living side-by-side with the
white population. Malcolm's mother, Louis Little, was a homemaker of
partial white ancestry. While in Elementary school Malcolm recalls
how he was encouraged to become a carpenter instead of a Lawyer by
his teacher Mr. Ostrowiski, because the latter profession wasn't
acceptable for a "Nigger", as follows "You've got to be realistic
about being a nigger. A lawyer - that's no realistic goal for a
nigger." ( Haley 38 ) This came to a shock for Malcolm since he was
one of the top three students in his class and was well liked by his
classmates, and even the teacher. Malcolm's ignorance of the race
issue would only be corrected in adulthood after a "racial
awakening."

While still a teenager Malcolm left his residence to live with his
half-sister Ella in Boston. The move not only brought young Malcolm
to a more significant social setting, providing him with job
opportunities and interaction with other blacks, but it also
introduced him to the street life, one in which drugs, theft,
prostitution, illegal gambling and other crimes were a way to
survive for the downtrodden. An obvious example of Malcolm's
clueless attitude towards the issue of race was a hair style he and
other blacks of that era adopted called a "Conk" which involved
putting lye into the hair to make it straight, thus looking more
"White". Malcom describes his disappointment with altering his
natural hair when he was younger, just to make it appear "white" -
"How ridiculous I was! Stupid enough to stand there simply lost in
admiration of my new hair looking 'white' reflected in the mirror in
Shorty's room. I vowed I'd never again be without a conk, and I
never was for many years." (Haley 56) 

Prior to his change in attitude, Malcolm's desire to emulate the
white racial hairtype was a relatively "hip" behavior within black
youth circles. Here race was an unimportant subject when the apex of
daily life was confined to the decadence associated with the
streets. On January 12th of 1946 Malcolm, his friend Malcolm
"Shorty" Jarvis and their female accomplices were taken into custody
after burglarizing a residence in a failed attempt to organize a
small crime ring. Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison where
his spiritual journey into religion and race would begin. During his
incarceration Malcolm was approached by his younger brother Reginald
with the philosophies taught to him and the rest of their family by
Elija Muhammad, leader of the black nationalistic cult the "Nation
Of Islam".

After a long talk with his brother about the teachings of Muhammad,
Malcolm began to reflect on what was told to him. He makes it clear
how having been brought up to speed on  black racial issues left him
with something to think about - "When Reginald left, he left me
rocking with some of the first serious thoughts I had ever had in my
life: The white man was fast losing his power to oppress and exploit
the dark world; that the dark world was starting to rise to rule the
world as it had been before; that the white mans world was on the
way down, it was on the way out". (Haley 164) 

While in jail Malcolm was introduced to books and for the first time
he was exposed to a variety of different texts concerning
philosophy, world history, religion and ancient African history.
Malcolm learned about his ancestors and his African heritage, all of
which had been kept out of grasp until then. Malcolm became highly
interested in exploring his heritage after various talks with his
brother Reginald, most importantly when Regi relates to Malcolm how
history had been distorted by "The White Devils." As Malcolm
explains "The teachings of Mr. Muhammad stressed how history had
been 'whited' - when white men had written history books, the black
man simply had been left out." (Haley 177) 

After more visits from his brother Reginald, his sister Hilda (who
also converted to Islam) and finally Mr. Muhammad himself through
letters, Malcolm would focus deeply on the black nationalistic
philosophies regarded by the NOI and Elija Muhammad. 
Malcolm served only seven years in jail and was released to the
outside world a more developed man than the punk kid aimlessly
riding the extreme highs of life. Not only did the experience make
Malcolm "self educated" from the number of books he thoroughly read
and studied (he at one point copied an entire dictionary from A to Z
in his own handwriting), but his entire outlook on racial issues
changed. Gone were the days when a young and confused Malcolm was
dubbed "Satan" by fellow inmates for his seething hatred of
religion, especially Christianity. Malcolm was now deeply involved
with fundamentalist "black" Islam which saw Christianity as the
driving force behind the "White man" -  "....The slavemaster
injected his Christian religion into this 'Negro'. This 'Negro' was
taught to worship an alien God having the same blond hair, blue eyes
and pale skin as the slavemaster." (Haley 166) 

After being released from prison in 1952 Malcolm spent 12 years
under the tutelage of Elija Muhammad. As a minister in Elija's
"Nation Of Islam", Malcolm spoke on behalf of the NOI's objectives
to separate whites and blacks among and establish a pure black
nation. He would become the most hated and controversial black
representative in his time. Malcolm spoke at rallies, universities
and other public events around the world and venomously tore apart
the oppression of white society, it's history of conquering and
enslaving of non-white people and the eventual downfall it would
face. Malcolm was no less disgusted with blacks seeking a peaceful
coexistence with white society and labeled them as
"Integration-Happy Negroes" or "Uncle Toms". In one debate, Malcolm
asked a black Professor on the side of integration "Do you know what
white racists call black PHDs?" and after an unsatisfactory
response, retorts loudly with "Nigger!" (Haley 290) 

During his rise to prominence through the NOI, Malcolm attained the
last name of "X" (used also by other black Muslims) which he states
was to symbolize his forgotten African family name. Note that
switching from "Little" to "X" was further evidence of Malcolm's
views on separatism and black racial pride. "....I received from
Chicago my 'X.' The Muslim's 'X' symbolized the true African family
name that he never could know. For me, 'X' replaced the white
slavemaster name of 'Little' which some blue eyed devil named
'Little' had imposed upon my paternal forebears." (Haley 203) 

Malcolm X was instrumental in opening many temples around the
country for NOI members. He often became the minister of these
temples, helping them establish a foothold in the community and
inducting new members into the organization. During one of his
ventures Malcolm met a female disciple of the Nation named Betty
Sanders and the two soon developed a relationship. In 1958 Malcolm
and Betty married, producing six children throughout their time
together, all of them were girls - Attilah (b. 1958 ), Quilah (b.
1960), llyasah (b. 1962), Amiliah (b. 1964) and twin daughters born
after Malcolm's death in 1965, Malaak and Malikah. (a) 

By this time, however, tensions within the NOI began to intensify.
Malcolm discovered that Elija Muhhamad was having extramarital
affairs with several of the NOI's female members, and even sired
their children. Though X knew that this was a blaspheme against the
NOI and Islamic doctrines he agreed to keep quite in order to save
face and out of respect for his teacher. In 1963, after the
assassination of John F Kennedy, then President of the United
States, Malcolm stated in one of his public speeches that the death
of JFK was a case of the "Chickens coming home to roost" -
essentially, karma - in that JFK.s policy of violence had caught up
with him. A public outcry followed as a consequence and Malcolm was
"silenced" for six months from speaking on behalf of the NOI.
Although the punishment was accepted, it was the begining of the end
for Malcolm and his involvement with the NOI. A year later Malcolm
broke from the NOI and established the Muslim Mosque, Inc.
continuing where he left off. Also of note was the initial stages of
his autobiography which was a collaboration between himself and
writer Alex Haley (the famous book was written from a period between
1964 and 1965). (a) (b) (Haley)

Wishing to fulfill his duties as a Muslim, Malcolm would Pilgrimage,
or "Hajj" to Mecca after arriving in the middle east by plane.
Malcolm brought his backswept view of white culture with him,
unaware that his anti-white philosophy would soon be in test, as he
explains - "That morning was when I first began to reappraise the
'white man'....In America, 'White Man' meant specific attitudes and
actions towards the black man and all other non-white men. But in
the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were
more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been." (Haley
340) Malcolm also acknowledges "That morning was the start of a
radical alteration in my whole outlook on 'white' men". (Haley 340) 

During his Hajj, Malcolm found that the White man was no longer a
"devil," "murderer" or "subhuman" and should not be chastised as an
entire group for the exploition of nonwhite populations by some
whites. Back in the states, Malcolm confessed that whites could also
be brotherly - "In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments
of all white people. I never will be guilty of that again - as I
know now that some white people are truly sincere, and are capable
of being brotherly toward a black man". (Haley 369) One of the
clearest indications of Malcolm's "awakening"- his newfound
acceptance of the white man as a brother and ally instead of an
enemy - can be pointed to in this passage - "It was in the holy
world that my attitude was changed, by what I experienced there, by
what I witnessed there in terms of brotherhood - not just
brotherhood for me but between all men, of all nationalities and
complexions who were there." (Haley 369) 

Though Malcolm's views on white society changed dramatically from
the time he was with Elija Muhammad to his Hajj to Mecca, he was
still very much in support of black self reliance and separatism
(first widely preached by Marcus Garvey), though much more tolerant
of whites and working with them to bring about change. At this point
in his life Malcolm believed that whites and blacks could live "side
by side," coexisting in a way that was separate from each other but
very much united - "We will completely respect our white
co-workers....We will meanwhile be working among our own kind, in
our own black communities - showing and teaching the black man in
only ways that black men can - That the black man has got to help
himself. Working separately, the sincere white people and the
sincere black people actually will be working together." (Haley 384) 

Malcolm rallied a sizable group of supporters with his new take on
the race issue, and his statements were given no less attention by
subjects of the NOI. By this time Malcolm had already severed his
ties with the Nation Of Islam and Elija Muhammad, which now
considered him a threat to their movement. Insiders of the NOI
warned that an attempt to knock off Malcolm and his family was
imminent. Malcolm took the threats seriously enough to take his body
guards with him whenever feasible. Without warning on February 15th,
1965 Malcolm's home in Elmhurst New York was fire bombed but he, his
wife Betty and their four children escaped unharmed. It was clear at
this point that whoever was behind the attempts to finish him off
was steadfast and eager to get the job done quickly - without
special care to keep his family away from the line of fire.

On February 21, 1965 while Malcolm spoke at Manhattan's Audubon
Ballroom a man from the audience began yelling "Get your hand outta
my pocket! Don't be messin' with my pockets!" and rushed the stage
with two other men brandishing firearms who then shot down Malcolm,
unimpeded. At 39 years old, the revolutionary black leader Malcolm X
was dead. The three men were later identified as Talmadge Hayer,
Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson - all members of the NOI.
The three NOI members were charged with first degree murder in March
of 1966. (B)

Malcolm X's dreams for a better world where the races were equal but
separate were shattered, but his message is eternal. Though his
views are lauded by many persons without the slightest clue of the
racial issue as a whole, Malcolm X continues to inspire, even those
few White nationalists and separatists who find his better qualities
and wisdom a sane example for the entire human community. - Wilhelm

Works Cited 

Haley, Alex. "The Autobiography Of Malcolm X", 1964. Ballatine
Books. (http://tinyurl.com/5hqgw)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X (a)
http://www.africawithin.com/malcolmx/malcolm_bio.htm (b)

-=-

"Internet Trolling as Postmodern Infoterrorism"

Almost a joke among most people now, discussion via computers was
once limited to a relatively select group of those who could make it
into universities or tech firms, or acquire the technical knowledge
to call up bulletin board systems, and thus gain access to the
simple software required to maintain conversation. Any number of
parallels can be drawn, from the founding of civilization to the
degeneration of musical genres, for what happened: in 1996, AOL
opened the gates to mainstream America, and soon computer mediated
communication was as neurotic and spiteful as PTA meetings in "real
life."

From that point on, the futility of any kind of meaningful discourse
increased in direct relation to the breadth of the audience. You
cannot talk about a philosophy of life if the vast majority of users
think that "All I know is what I like, and therefore, you can't tell
me that's wrong" is a viable counterargument. Nor can you overcome
the little social groups that cluster like flies on every topic
area, reverting discussion from the abstract subject at hand to such
mundane details as personalities and allegiances. In short,
expressing oneself and trying to network with others is no longer
achieved via discussion in its many forms, including Web forums,
USENET, and IRC.

This dumbing down of discussion, such that it can no longer have a
topic and must instead focus on the lowest common denominator
interests of its audience, removes the split between speaker and
audience, and the result is chaotic screaming where those who are
most persistent are assumed to represent the de facto beliefs of the
group as a whole, and thus quickly establishing calcified
hierarchies devoted to anything but the topic at hand. In turn, this
drives anyone sensible insane, as their best thoughts are ignored in
favor of personal attacks and trivial snappy comebacks.
Communication is replaced with a broken form of socialization that
allows those who fail in life to seem important via electronic
avatars, or symbolic representations of self as an external
construct in the consensual consciousness of the group.

When it became apparent that this was the case, the golden age of
Internet trolling began. Recognizing the futility of communication,
these outsiders began to instead attack the non-communication, but,
realizing that logical argument would be immediately dismissed, took
discourse to a new level by instead of describing what they
believed, demonstrating it through the negative reactions of others.
Trolls had previously existed in an offhand manner, usually when a
member of a community got fed up with another and decided to assume
a fake name and draw that person into some argument so trivial that
everyone else got just as fed up with that member. However, once the
foolishness was no longer the minority of traffic but its mainstay,
trolls realized not just an emotional reaction, but a logicality
behind their method.

Somewhat predictably, reactions to trolls are mostly negative. Much
as dissident writers and thinkers through history have been
ostracized and forced to live in poverty, trolls get no public
recognition from anyone with a stake in the status quo. If one has a
vested interest in what is, trolls are the enemy, as their
inclination is to tear down what is and thus, by the factor of
exclusivity to any dominate system, replace it. Consequently,
mainstream definitions of "Internet troll" fit the following
pattern:

An Internet "troll" is a person who delights in sowing discord on
the Internet. To them, other Internet users are not quite human but
are a kind of digital abstraction. As a result, they feel no sorrow
whatsoever for the pain they inflict. Trolls are utterly impervious
to criticism (constructive or otherwise). You cannot negotiate with
them; you cannot cause them to feel shame or compassion; you cannot
reason with them. They cannot be made to feel remorse. For some
reason, trolls do not feel they are bound by the rules of courtesy
or social responsibility. - http://members.aol.com/intwg/trolls.htm

An internet troll is a person who sends duplicitous messages hoping
to get angry responses, or a message sent by such a person. Proposed
motivations for trolling - Anonymous attention-seeking: The troll
seeks to dominate the thread by inciting anger, and effectively
hijacking the topic at hand; Cry for help: Many so-called trolls, in
their postings, indicate disturbing situations regarding family,
relationships, substances, and school--although it is impossible to
know whether this is just simply part of the troll. Some believe
that trolling is an aggressive, confrontational way by which trolls
seek a sort of tough love guidance in an anonymous forum. -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

There are two main types of trolls: 1. people who are
psychologically disturbed, and seek to feel good by making other
list members feel bad.  This is a sort of "psycho troll", whose
deception involves deceiving themselves as well as others. 2. people
who pretend to be someone that they are not - they create personae
that you think are real, but they know is fictitious. -
http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/troll.htm

What fails with such definitions is that they do not address the
motivations for trolling, only its effects on a discourse that is
assumed to be worthwhile, and thus is incapable of seeing its own
emptiness, much as dissident falls on deaf ears when there are no
blatantly obvious (twenty-story tall monsters, invading Visigoths,
race riots, climate change) signs of society's failure. A better
definition of trolling takes into account both the intent of trolls,
and the effect of their actions one generation of discourse after
the trolls make their appearance. To do this requires we for a
moment set aside any moral judgment of what trolls do, and stop
trying to consequently ascribe to some personality failing their
actions, but assess them instead as serious participants in the
discussion who have turned to unorthodox methods to express what
could not be done via conventional means.

Trolling, as a tactic, is a method of drawing one's opponents into
paradox by either making them confront the hollowness of their
attitudes, or by revealing their own personal flaws and lack of
mental discipline to avoid provoking comments, thus lashing out and
shattering their carefully-constructed self-image. To be effective,
an internet avatar must appear to be in control and to represent
something other than the mundane bickering, but when punctured by a
troll, the internet avatar is unmasked as a repository of human
frailty and frustration, and thus its authenticity as an authority
on the topic of the group is depleted. In short, trolling is
wielding the futility of computer mediated communication against
those who maintain it but, through careful social manipulation,
avoid appearing to be continuators of that morass, but are able to
fool many people into believing their public position that they are
opposed to it.

Since this dual layer between appearance and reality exists, and in
fact is the source of much of the social power from which internet
talking heads derive their perceived authority, blurring that
distinction invalidates the very premise of authenticity as exists
in computer mediated discourse. That the status quo of such
discussions is based on upholding this illusion means that trolls
disrupt the layer of appearance, in which internet avatars pretend
to be on topic when they are at a level below the ostensible
maintaing a social and not logical order, and restore a topicality
to the discussion by aggregating the social impulse away from the
actual content of the discussion. In postmodern theory, it is
posited that all discourse has both a "text," or the nominal meaning
of the tokens being exchanged, and a "subtext," or an unstated
shared psychological meaning to the discourse conveyed mainly by
context, including social factors.

Viewed in this light, computer mediated communication can be seen as
a victim of its own lack of differentiation between avatars and
conversation; soon the needs of the avatars dominate the topic, and
thus even if what is being discussed is "on topic," its context is
one of the manipulation of personalities and self-image. Trolls by
forcing this to identify itself group the subtextual factors apart
from the text, and by virtue of what they do not target, create an
identifiable stratification of conversation into social and textual
factors. For this reason, we can see computer mediated discussion as
an appearance which contradicts reality: those who appear to be on
topic are using the topic to transact something entirely unrelated,
and those who appear to be off-topic are often reassociating the
topic with its meaning.

The probable cause of this duality is that, in a Platonic sense,
there is no distinction between object and its manifestation in the
computer world. Where in public discourse the individual is clearly
separate from the text, in computer mediated discourse the
individual is expressed entirely within the text, giving rise to the
subtext of the individual. The forced linearization of dual "real
world" factors, such as personality and social need, with abstract
textual factors, such as the topic at hand or the underlying
philosophies expressed, therefore induces a form of advanced concept
entropy which leads to discourse being replaced with personality
factors. Trolls approach this as a solvent, and divide the two
again, revealing most of the discussion as the socialization that it
is, and separating real content as unworthy of assault.

Metaphorically, this is similar to the political situation in the
world today, which can be seen as an outpouring of the same
psychology of duality seen in computer discussion, as brought about
by a technological world in which we are each numbers on a
triplicate form, phone numbers or email addresses. Those who accept
the standard of civility that allows us to discuss a topic without
discussing it, and thus let the status quo of relentless profit at
the expense of nature and culture and the individual continue, are
by the nature of having accepted the subtext as text unable to
realize where their criticism of it must start, should it start.
Those who embark on thinking outside of the standard of civility are
correspondingly categorized as outsiders, since their beliefs are
not only critical of the status quo, but entirely deny its validity.
Currently, such dissidents, who tend to use dramatic means of
introducing confusion that forces society to respond with
increasingly rigid and impractical reactions, are categorized as
terrorists, but we might as well call them trolls, or borrow
language of a former time and refer to them as revolutionaries, or
even, Minutemen.

copyright © 2005 mock Him productions