Saturday, July 04, 2020
Friday, July 03, 2020
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Lucretius, (c.99 bce - c.55 bce), was a Roman poet and philosopher
3 pandemic predictions from LucretiusHow being afraid of death is making some people less ethicalThe global spread of the coronavirus has forced us to confront our own mortality, and fears about illness and death weigh heavily on the minds of many.But there’s a risk that fear for our own life will outweigh fear for the collective to the extent that, however unwittingly, we start to act in a way that causes harm to the collective - the global phenomenon of panic- buying is an obvious example.As early as the first century BC, Roman philosopher Lucretius predicted that humanity’s fear of death could drive us to irrational beliefs and actions that would harm society. And as COVID-19 sweeps across the globe, three of his key predictions are coming true.Prediction one: being afraid of death corrupts our subjective experience of life.Lucretius made the case that people aren’t afraid of death unless there’s an immediate danger of dying; it’s when illness or danger strike that we get scared and strive to understand what comes after death.The goal then becomes alleviating these fears. Some people do so by imagining that they have immaterial souls that shed their bodies or that there is a benevolent God, Lucretius writes. Others might imagine an eternal afterlife, or an immortal soul that is more important than the body and the material world.Prediction two: being afraid of death deepens social divisions and puts certain groups at greater risk.Prediction three: being afraid of death inspires some people to accumulate wealth or political power at the expense of the community.Advice from Lucretius on how to avoid these predictions:According to Lucretius, being afraid of dying is irrational because once people die they will not be sad, judged by gods, or pity their family; they will not be anything at all. ‘Death is nothing to us’ he says.(from article by Thomas Nail, associate professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver. Issue 87, 30th March 2020, in IAI, Institute of Art and Ideas)
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Hypermnestra didn't kill her husband on their wedding night. Her 49 sisters did kill theirs.
In Greek mythology, the Danaïdes (/dəˈneɪ.ɪdiːz/; Greek: Δαναΐδες), also Danaides or Danaids, were the fifty daughters of Danaus. In the Metamorphoses, Ovid refers to them as the Belides after their grandfather Belus. They were to marry the 50 sons of Danaus' twin brother Aegyptus, a mythical king of Egypt. In the most common version of the myth, all but one of them killed their husbands on their wedding night, and are condemned to spend eternity carrying water in a sieve or perforated device. In the classical tradition, they came to represent the futility of a repetitive task that can never be completed (see also Sisyphus).
(--from Danaïdes, Wikipedia)
Danaus agreed to the marriage of his daughters only after Aegyptus came to Argos with his fifty sons in order to protect the local population, the Argives, from any battles. The daughters were ordered by their father to kill their husbands on the first night of their weddings and this they all did with the exception of one, Hypermnestra, who spared her husband Lynceus because he respected her desire to remain a virgin. Danaus was angered that his daughter refused to do as he ordered and took her to the Argives courts. Lynceus killed Danaus as revenge for the death of his brothers and he and Hypermnestra started the Danaid Dynasty of rulers in Argos. (ibid)
Monday, June 29, 2020
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Where do you live?
Are you a liar? Or are you a truth-teller? And what do you hear? Are you listening?
The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth. (-H.L Mencken)
I live somewhere that is a good shelter. I am not homeless in the current understanding of homelessness. There are many who suffer that difficulty.
The attempt to tell and dwell in truth is a curious effort. So, one prays. To whom one prays, or for what, is also a curiosity.
To pray is to build your own house. To pray is to discover that Someone else is within your house. To pray is to recognize that it is not your house at all. To keep praying is to have no house to protect because there is only One House. And that One House is everybody’s home. In other words, those who pray from the heart actually live in a very different and ultimately dangerous world, It is a world that makes the merely physical world seem anemic, illusory, and relative. The word "real" takes on a new meaning, and we find ourselves judging with utterly new scales, weights, and standards. Be careful of such house-builders, for their loyalties will lie in very different directions. They will be very different kinds of citizens, and the state will not so easily depend on their salute. That is the politics of prayer. And that is probably why truly spiritual people are always a threat to politicians of any sort. They want our allegiance, and we can no longer give it, our house is too big.
(p.4, What the Mystics Know, by Richard Rohr, c. 2015)
Has the passing of the old God paved the way for a new kind of religious project, a more responsible way to seek, sound, and love the things we call divine? Has the suspension of dogmatic certainties and presumptions opened a space in which we can encounter religious wonder anew? Situated at the split between theism and atheism, we now have the opportunity to respond in deeper, freer ways to things we cannot fathom or prove.
Distinguished philosopher Richard Kearney calls this condition ana-theos, or God after God-a moment of creative "not knowing" that signifies a break with former sureties and invites us to forge new meanings from the most ancient of wisdoms. Anatheism refers to an inaugural event that lies at the heart of every great religion, a wager between hospitality and hostility to the stranger, the otherthe sense of something "more." By analyzing the roots of our own anatheistic moment, Kearney shows not only how a return to God is possible for those who seek it but also how a more liberating faith can be born.
Kearney begins by locating a turn toward sacred secularity in contemporary philosophy, focusing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Paul Ricoeur. He then marks "epiphanies" in the modernist masterpieces of James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf. Kearney concludes with a discussion of the role of theism and atheism in conflict and peace, confronting the distinction between sacramental and sacrificial belief or the God who gives life and the God who takes it away. Accepting that we can never be sure about God, he argues, is the only way to rediscover a hidden holiness in life and to reclaim an everyday divinity.
(--Columbia University Press, re. Anatheism, Returning to God After God, by Richard Kearney, c.2009)
According to the moral standards most of us accept and live by, morality generally permits us to refrain from promoting the good of others and instead engage in non-harmful projects of our own choice.1 This aspect of so called "ordinary morality" has turned out to be very difficult to justify. Recently, though, various authors, including Bernard Williams and Samuel Scheffler, have proposed moral theories that would vindicate this aspect of ordinary morality, at least in part.2 Those theories are Integrity Theories. They are generated by treating as a default some moral theory, like consequentialism, that demands. that we do a great deal of good. The theory is then modified so as to make room for individuals to pursue the projects they value most deeply, and perhaps their trivial inter ests as well-i.e., so as to respect individual integrity. The result is (allegedly) a theory that contains agent-centered prerogatives to pursue one's projects and interests rather than the agent-neutral good.
Thus described, Integrity Theories don't fully vindicate every aspect ordinary morality; in fact, they don't even vindicate every ordinary aspect of agent-centered prerogatives. Those prerogatives, as ordinary conceived, are not only prerogatives to pursue our projects and interests, but other non-harmful courses of action as well-e.g., lazing on the couch and doing nothing. Still, Integrity Theories can take us a certain distance toward a vindication of ordinary morality by explaining why we can pursue our own projects and interests rather than the greater good.
(-- Rajczi, Alex. “Integrity and Ordinary Morality.” American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1, 2007, pp. 15–26. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20464351. Accessed 25 June 2020.)
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Lord God and Maker of all things,
Creation is upheld by you.
While all must change and know decay,
You are unchanging, always new.
Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal, (—from hymn, sext, Monday, 22june2020)
Monday, June 22, 2020
When my father died
The feared intruder entered the house
I was never sure about this entrance
Now I think it was the illusory belief
Someone had died — the frightening presence
No separation, merely open space that all is.
Belief has lingered a long time and is a long
Intrusion vacated. Alone unfearing peace
Sunday, June 21, 2020
my father moved through dooms of love
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Suffering is one of the deepwater mysteries of human existence. It can neither be explained nor controlled, but it can be met by a deepwater mystery of equal force – the mystery of human presence.
- Alan Lew
These Stations of the Cross are dedicated to all the victims of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, civilian and military. + + + Written for Pax Christi USA by Rev. Sebastian L. Muccilli + + + Photo selection and blog layout by Beth Cioffoletti + + + Copyright 2006
Friday, June 19, 2020
HAIKUYou are here aloneNo one cares to tell you whyThere is nothing known
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Compiling yearly CEU submissions for hospice volunteer continuance, I find these excerpts:
“Our greatest fear is that when we die we will become nothing. We believe that we are born from nothing and that when we die we become nothing. And so, we are filled with the fear of annihilation. The Buddha has a very different understanding – that birth and death are notions. They are not real.”
(– Thich Nhat Hanh.)
A few weeks later the weather became warm again. As I walked in my garden I saw new buds on the japonica manifesting another generation of flowers. I asked the japonica flowers: "Are you the same as the flowers that died in the frost or are you different flowers?" The flowers replied to me: "Thay, we are not the same and we are not different When conditions are sufficient we manifest and when conditions are not we go into hiding. It’s as simple as that.”
(—Thich Nhat Hanh)
Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death. Only when we touch our true nature can we transcend the fear of non-being, the fear of annihilation.
The Buddha said that when conditions are sufficient something manifests and we say it exists. When one or two conditions fail and the thing does not manifest in the same way, we then say it does not exist. According to the Buddha, to qualify something as existing or not existing is wrong. In reality, there is no such thing as totally existing or totally not existing.
(—Thich Nhat Hanh)
The greatest sages from ancient times
Have not shown us life immortal.
What is born in time must die;
All will be changed to dust and ashes.
Bones pile up like Mount Vipula,*
Tears of parting would make a sea,
And all that's left are empty names.
Who escapes the wheel of birth and death?
* A mountain in India.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
“...I am not going ‘home.’ The purpose of this death is to become truly homeless.” (Journal entry, The Other Side of the Mountain, 174)
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
* something that was in the beginning : a first principle:
a. in early Greek philosophy : a substance or primal element
b. in Aristotle : an actuating principle (as a cause)
Final question. Returning to Negri and Hardt, and adding Giorgio Agamben to the discussion, they have expressed grave concerns for the future of democracy. Hardt and Negrfs Multitude begins with a crit- ical analysis of the permanent state of war that has become a standard feature of the current international order as dominated by the United States. Similarly, Agamben has written extensively about the 6istate of exception" that threatens to transform democracies into totalitarian states. Speaking from your dual expertise as a philosopher combined with your experience as an actual politician as a former member of the European Parliament, do you agree that this state of exception has become the new working paradigm of government? If so, then what can be done?
If I believed that this had become the paradigm, then the simple answer to the last question would be that there is nothing that can be done. On the basis of my experience in the European Parliament, I feel very strongly that the logic of war is becoming the logic of everyday life. We speak more and more explicitly in war terms. It is also the game of power. For example, while I would not say that Bush provoked 9/11, surely he has exploited it very, very well, to the point that books such as Before and After by Phyllis Bennis or documentaries such as Loose Change by Dylan Avery make us all wonder if such exploitation has any limits. The repercussions of this become tragically evident when his government proved too slow in responding to Hurricane Katrina, which utterly devastated the city of New Orleans, ex- posing the finite resources the government has in hand and the fragile balance of a society still haunted by its legacy of racism. Many criticized Bush for responding too late and devoting so much of the nation's resources to the war of choice in Iraq when his own country remains in such grave need.
But, returning to Negri and Agamben, my problem, as I suggested earlier, is that they are both guilty of too much ideological rigidity. By interpreting the state of exception in absolute terms, everything fits together quite reasonably. The only possibility for democracy in our current situation is to exploit the holes, the margins, which was, by the way, the idea in the 1970s behind something Tony Negri called autonomies the effort to construe or build autonomous communities—not try to take the power, but try to construe peripheral powers. If people around the world protest the war in Iraq, for example, it doesn't mean taking control of Windsor Palace or the White House, but, nevertheless, it eases and slows down the wheels of power. --"
At the beginning of the nineteenth and twentieth century, philosophy was very suspicious of technology. This has changed. The only possibility today is not to categorically reject the machinery of power but to slow down the process of the reproduction of capital. How can this be done? There are the hackers and the saboteurs, of course. But imagine, for instance, how Italians could ruin Berlusconi if we all decided to boycott any merchant who advertised on his many television stations. But we don't do it. Why? Because we are not yet so poor, so angry. But when that comes, we cannot oppose the logic of power with weapons because they would kill us. But we can try to extend the replication of autonomous centers. I believe in that. After all, there is nothing better to believe in. Isn't this the very idea of the multitude? Having many communities working—not necessarily together in the sense of a coordinated effort—but simply working against.
That is why I sometimes call myself an anarchist. I have proposed in the conclusion to one of my recent papers that we take seriously the idea from a book by Reiner Schurmann on Heidegger (On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy). Schurmann emphasized how Heidegger had preached the end of the epoch dominated by an arche, by the principle, so that we now live in an anarchic age. But now I would say we have to interpret this a little more literally. We have to be outside. This is a postmodern idea. The idea is that I must subtract myself from the game of power. For instance, it was important for me to no longer be elected as a member of parliament. I discovered I could do something without too many engagements vis-a-vis a party. I discovered that when you get into power, it is not because you have conquered the power, but because the power has conquered you.
(-- pp.111-113, A PRAYER FOR SILENCE, Dialogue with Gianni Vattimo, in After the Death of God, by John D. Caputo and Giavani Vattimo, c.2007)
“Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man. It does not make or cause the relation. Thinking brings this relation to Being solely as something handed over to it from Being. Such offering consists in the fact that in thinking Being comes to language. Language is the house of Being. In its home man dwells. Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home. Their guardianship accomplishes the manifestation of Being insofar as they bring the manifestation to language and maintain it in language through their speech. Thinking does not become action only because some effect issues from it or because it is applied. Thinking acts insofar as it thinks.”
Monday, June 15, 2020
You know, I’ve been trying to think of some precise, encapsulating question to ask you about what we’ve been witnessing over the last few weeks, and everything I was coming up with felt forced or phony. Maybe it’s better, because you’ve been eloquent during times of crisis in the past, just to ask what you’ve been thinking about and seeing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing?
I’d like to say I’m surprised by what happened to him, but I’m not. This is a cycle, and I feel that in some ways, the issue is that we’re addressing the wrong problem. We continue to make this about the police — the how of it. How can they police? Is it about sensitivity and de-escalation training and community policing? All that can make for a less-egregious relationship between the police and people of color. But the how isn’t as important as the why, which we never address. The police are a reflection of a society. They’re not a rogue alien organization that came down to torment the black community. They’re enforcing segregation. Segregation is legally over, but it never ended. The police are, in some respects, a border patrol, and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with it. Then that situation erupts, and we express our shock and indignation. But if we don’t address the anguish of a people, the pain of being a people who built this country through forced labor — people say, ‘‘I’m tired of everything being about race.’’ Well, imagine how [expletive] exhausting it is to live that.
(--from Jon Stewart is Back to Weigh In, by David Marchese, 15June20, The New York Times Magazine)
Are the controversial things that President Trump says structurally motivated? Do you believe he’s thinking on that level?
I think he understands very well — and the right understands very well — that undermining the credibility of the institutions that people look to for help defining and making sense of reality is the key to bending reality to your will. It’s a wonderful rhetorical trick. He had a great one on Memorial Day weekend:16
‘‘We’re getting great reviews on our pandemic response. But of course, not getting credit for it.’’ The twisted logic of that: If you’re getting great reviews, I’m pretty sure that’s considered credit. It’s like saying, ‘‘I’m being praised, but of course I won’t be praised for it.’’ Language is utterly meaningless. Everything is placed into its category in the tribal war and who its real victims are: Donald Trump and his minions. Poor little billionaire president who can’t catch a break. It’s incredible. Are we all just extras in this guy’s movie? But I do feel as if his approach has worked for him his whole life.
“Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”(--Matthew 5:38-42)
In illo témpore: Dixit Iesus discípulis suis:«Audístis quia dictum est: “Oculum pro óculo et dentem pro dente”. Ego autem dico vobis: Non resístere malo; sed si quis te percússerit in déxtera maxílla tua, præbe illi et álteram; et ei, qui vult tecum iudício conténdere et túnicam tuam tóllere, remítte ei et pállium; et quicúmque te angariáverit mille passus, vade cum illo duo. Qui petit a te, da ei; et volénti mutuári a te, ne avertáris».(Excerpt From: Universalis. “June 2020 - Universalis.” Apple Books. )
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed
(--in The Phrase Finder)It is unnerving that a virus has entered our country. A Covid-19 virus. And a Trumpian Political Party virus. Each seems to have its own mind. Each doesn't care who it attacks.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
(Poem by Wendell Berry)
I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the grass.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man’s life
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
I will be standing in the woods
where the old trees
move only with the wind
and then with gravity.
In the stillness of the trees
I am at home. Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.
(Poem by Wendell Berry)
The Poem as Mask
When I wrote of the women in their dances and
wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from
There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.
No more masks! No more mythologies!
Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.(Poem by Muriel Rukeyser)
About the Work: Mandy Patinkin | School of Drama (esp. 53:15 -- 58:45)