This Time, I Speak Some Words About ISIS

I think, closest to the truth, is the analogy of the pirate (ISIS) and the emperor (the US). Yes, the pirate is despicable, but he is hanged for the same crimes that the emperor is hailed for. The pirate beheads, the emperor rains death from the sky. The emperor has more power, and has ravaged far more countries, and yet everyone only has moral indignation toward the pirate. The world is run by people who do not think, who have walled off their own actions from themselves and instead point only at the actions of others. ISIS operates this way, but so few Americans also think that their own country operates that way, even when only a few of its most murderous actions (the war in Iraq, in Vietnam and Cambodia, various coups) have created body counts that ISIS could only dream of creating. ISIS is a glimpse into the void, but so is the empire that cannot look at itself. I mean, what is ‘shock and awe’ but ISIS’ goal in creating terror? We are who we hate.

On ‘Islamic’ Terrorism:

“Well answer the question,” he continued, assertive. “It’s not Islamic terrorism? It’s not Islamic?”

“I don’t care, isn’t American terrorism inherently American? Doesn’t drone-bombing the whole fucking world come from some sick sense of exceptionalism, a pseudo-religious doctrine designed to justify murder? We rain down hell from the skies and no one’s critical in the slightest, maybe that’s a pathology?”

“How dare you conflate the two.”

“Yeah, you’re right, they can’t be conflated. America killed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and two million in Vietnam. ISIS would cum at the thought of killing that many people, so you’re right, they can’t be conflated. We’re far worse.”

On Intellectuals:

Critique the self, not the other. You can control the self, you can’t control the other. A great transgression of this standard would be Americans criticizing ISIS. They’re too blind to look at themselves, so they point at others. And so what? It’s easy to point at others. It takes no courage, no honesty, to condemn the killer who lives thousands of miles away. What about the killer in our own hearts? No one, in any country, in any era, ever wants to talk about that. It’s too uncomfortable, too painful. Thus we are cowards, and we reap judgement somewhere else.

How do you create something as extreme as a suicide bomber? Someone making themselves into fire? I don’t know, probably when something extreme has been done to them. Like, a missile destroying their childhood home and killing their parents and sister. I don’t think Lindsey Graham could look so fucking smarmy after that. But he, like all politicians, are cowards without empathy for others, and thus are subhuman.

Tony Soprano ate my Lunch (Spoilers)

The brilliance of The Sopranos always strikes me in waves. It’s a story that cannot be underestimated. Think of Vito Sapatafore, killed by all his closest friends for being gay. All along he was alone. The same is true for Christopher Moltisanti, who shortly after breaking his sobriety with a person he feels safe with, is mocked and belittled publicly by that person in front of all their laughing ‘friends’. Christ takes his wrath out on a TV writer he knows, shooting him in the head to let off steam, much in the same way he pummels his fiancee Adrianna. He beats her, cheats on her, and then when he thinks she has cheated on him he goes ape-shit, pummels her again and nearly kills Tony himself. Everyone in this show pretends to be so tough but they’re more sensitive than the PC crowd. A joke is nearly enough to start a mob war. A joke about a man’s sexuality is enough to get a glass smashed in his face. A woman belittling a capo’s manhood is enough for him to beat that woman to death. All these men are cowards with a massive chip on their shoulder. All of them are insecure children who use violence to cover up their profound feeling of being undermined. Those who live only for power become paranoid and insane. Meanwhile, side characters like Adrianna la Cerva swallow domestic abuse and lie after lie after lie about everyone who gets whacked ending up in ‘witness protection’. She actually believes it all, and like the sounds of a train that permeate the inevitable tragedies of the series, she ends up murdered by a man who once talked on the gossip vine about her apparently giving Tony a blowjob. Everyone is disposable. Pussy dies, Jackie dies, Christopher dies, Silvio dies, Bobby dies, and what? There is no end. it keeps on rolling, ‘this thing of ours’. No matter who gets killed, no matter what lie has to be swallowed, power pushes itself toward its own ends.

All these people are completely alone. All of them are like children smacking each other on the playground. They have no inner lives and no ability to think so they take everything out on the external world in the form of violence. Comparing this show to Breaking Bad is just masturbation – Breaking Bad is good but it has no pretense whatsoever to the kind of psychology that goes on in The Sopranos, and the depth of the lows of all these mobsters’ souls. Walter White’s biggest speech “I am the danger” is just tough talk given to his wife at a time in the story where he is essentially a slave waiting to be killed by a boss. Furthermore, in Season 4 Walt’s most egregious act is directly performed to save his own life. The moral play is comparatively shallow. I never felt the darkness in Walt’s soul anywhere near what the characters in The Sopranos have inside them. You just can’t equate ‘a good series’ with a masterpiece. What element in Breaking Bad, or any other TV show (save for possibly The Wire) really, can amount to six seasons worth of hanging out with the guys, talking about ‘family’, all the great scenes, knowing that at any moment any of these characters would murder each other if it suited their interests, and seeing that as the story pans out this is exactly what happens? Everyone is disposable. Life is the ‘big nothing’. The Leviathan of power grinds out, chewing up and spitting out everyone who seeks to control it or rise up inside it. This series is one of the all-time masterpieces. Watching the entire series again after seeing how it all pans out, the theme becomes obvious. Its theme is on a magnitude that only the greats of classic literature and the best movies can aspire to. I mean, there’s a scene where Paulie and Christopher nearly kill each other. How do they diffuse the tension? They kill some innocent waiter, then bond over it later. The violence has to go somewhere. Directed at your best friend or the innocent, it builds up and these monsters release it one way or another.

“We’re all a family.” “You’re only as good as your last paycheck.” The fantasy, and the reality, of power. The little mafia rules, in the minds of these psychos, like not being gay, or not hitting made men, supersedes all human moral judgments. Same way that Bill Clinton can get impeached for cheating on his wife but for bombing a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, scarcely a half-interested ‘sorry’ and the world looks away. Moral dissonance is everywhere. The Sopranos is a portrait of it. This is why it’s great art. This is what art is for.

I Love The Sopranos

The genius of The Sopranos (I know, again) is its deeply psychological writing. The quality of its portrayal of each characters’ psyche is the one thing that puts it above all other shows. It shows both the aggressive, violent destroyer and the screaming, terrified baby inside us all, and it shows that both these personas come from the same root. The racism and the anxiety of Tony Soprano, for example, are intrinsically linked. Immediately after telling one of Meadow’s black friends to ‘stay with his own’, Tony eats some turkey slices and has a panic attack. He acts like an invulnerable man in control, and then he loses grip on his own consciousness. The violence is an act to hide from the fear. His aggression and prejudices are all just things he has made to distract him from himself. Tony is petrified of losing his power, his muscles, his respect, everything, and the only way he avoids paralysis is by violently lashing out and asserting his power. This is also illustrated when he ends up in a bout of paranoia over post-9/11 terror threats, and resolves his fear by pummeling Georgie with a phone. Again, it is illustrated after he gets out of his coma, and fearing that he has lost some of his stature, pummels his driver unprovoked in front of everybody. Then he goes and throws up in the bathroom. It’s like on some level he knows what he is, and he can’t handle it, but he always manages to avoid that relentless truth. Hence the full lyrics of the opening song: “Last night you was flying but today you’re so low” and “Don’t you wish you didn’t function/Don’t you wish you didn’t think/Beyond the next paycheck and the next little drink”. It’s this kind of complete portrayal of a self-hating lizard brain that makes the series a masterpiece.

One other Sopranos thing – they’re all gossip queens. Ralph almost dies over a joke but the entire crew had made jokes far worse on the same subject all throughout the series. It’s all about what you can get away with. There really are no rules. Just as with all systems of power.

Several Days’ Disparate Inspirations

I am a creature of habit, and it is novelty, above all, that this universe seeks to produce.

The Fullmetal Alchemist movie has a mature stroke of genius, where in an alternate universe a beloved character from the series is actually a Nazi. He is a great father, beloved friend, a wonderful man, but he serves in the army of the Third Reich, a fan favorite. He’s a loyal soldier – it was just the wrong place and time for his loyalty. Gurren Lagann also has a moment like this, where at the end of the series a scene acknowledging all who died along the way also includes the villains. The villains were teachers, in the end, necessary forces who helped the protagonist to grow. They could have been stomped out and dismissed as the fascists they were, but instead, they were acknowledged as one more turn in the evolution of the drill. This is another great stroke of maturity and genius.

Most people, when it comes to foreign policy, they don’t even pretend to have empathy. Take foreign military bases for example. How would you feel if another country, an imperial power, had a base and foreign soldiers in your home city? Would you feel good about this? No one ever thinks if others’ lives were their own, no one in political power has empathy, straight from drones down to Palestine. But even liberals will stop me here. They’ll say I’m being too simplistic, and this is where universities have gone wrong. Corporatized or not, the lesson of academia is relativism. There are always two sides, we can’t really know anything, everything is constructed out of language, this kind of thinking. No one can have strong stances on anything other than gender and race. Everything else is so uncertain. I’m not sure what to do about this attitude, but it leads to a weak willed world, a world where either you work hard and abide by dogma or question that dogma but end up at sea, unsure of yourself and the world, and thus unable to create great things. Relativism is a painful sentence, a life where every thought is immediately answered by its opposite equal. Who can get anything done? But the paradox is that the social issue-obsessed progressives preach relativism while practicing dogma. They are so certain you can’t even discuss Palestine until you’ve done so through the lens of intersectionality. But in doing so they ignore moral truisms, fundamental moral principles, that are far simpler and less controversial. I really believe morality is a common sense thing when it comes to killing people and supporting the killing of people. No one is willing to make a sacrifice, they all want someone else to. It’s the opposite of the golden rule, the opposite of Socrates’ moral ideal, which is that it is better to be harmed than to harm. Better to be afraid than, in fear, to fire rockets over the border. Morality is simple. The left shoots itself in the foot by pretending that nothing is simple, and that you need to study it in in depth first to have an accurate opinion. That’s facile. Common sense is real and has moral implications. Among them being, if you refuse to forget 9/11 when it happens to you, then you can’t kill thousands of some other country’s people for the sake of your national ‘interests’. That’s called being a sociopath. And it is as simple as that. We don’t even need to invoke a lecture on colonialism. We can, but to the common citizen, what is going to matter more – elementary morality or a whole pile of academia? Relativism denies the obvious answer – it says that your common sense is another man’s bullshit. There is no common ground. There is no human nature. All is constructed, and all can be constructed in any way. Reality is not so. There is ground beneath our feet and matter in our brains.

The academy has taken an unforgivable shit on mythology. Either it is all viewed in terms of gender and sexuality, which (mostly) bores me to tears, or it is transformed into evolutionary psychology. Gone is Jung, gone is myth, there is only the politics and the sciences of the day.

“Mafia”

It would be amusing to see conventionally-minded people, these New York Times kind of people, explain what is ethically wrong with the mafia. What is wrong with what they are doing? They are acting in the service of their own interests, regardless of who gets killed along the way. Is this not the credo of all civilization? To pursue the interests of the state for the benefit of the powerful people within that state? So what’s wrong with the mafia?

‘They break the law!’ by doing the same exact thing that the government is praised for. Calculating interests, then doing whatever needs to be done. Is there something intrinsically moral about when the state does it?

Either way, the mafia just does what we do. We should praise their victories and condemn their errors. Vietnams, Iraqs, those kinds of ‘failures’ that result in the deaths of millions of people and yet are nothing more than failures of strategy, not morality. Then we go cry about how immoral Vladimir Putin is.

In the mafia, we can condemn a botched murder job and praise a successful one.

When power serves us, it’s good. When it doesn’t, it’s bad. When we win, it was justified. When we lose, the problem is that we lost. The strategy of cold calculation, of evil, and of victory!

“Time”

Time is the elusive nature of the world, the thing that makes it possible for something to both be and not be. The tree bears fruit, and it is dead. The ground is covered in snow, and it is covered in shimmering grass. Both can be true, but time decides which is true at the moment. What is a moment? The elusive nature of the world.

Any higher species must attain a numbness to time. Unlike humans, who are affected by minutes and seconds, a great consciousness would measure time in years and decades. Even then, they would be so small. Time, in order to get anywhere, must be measured in centuries. But this is only human time we’re talking about. In cosmic time, a million years is something to scoff at. It takes nearly fourteen billion years from the Big Bang to get to the realm of the written word. Any being that is truly interested in understanding this unfolding picture must be able to look at it from a great distance. We are fruit flies who die within it, with under a century to our name. If the world was to be viewed from the perspective of a great consciousness, then truly something like a day would be completely meaningless. A year would be the smallest unit of measuring change. Even then, it is small. A month? Don’t humor me.

But time has realized this, and it is now racing to meet us. Where it once took a billion years for a single multicellular organism to form, it has only taken a hundred thousand for thinking apes to appear and to dramatically change the appearance of the planet. Of course, in something like a few hundred years, we will know the full extent of human activity on the climate. But that’s the thing – a few hundred. This is a universe that once only dealt out major change by the billions of years, and any real evolutionary change takes roughly a million years to occur.

The theory of evolution has only existed for the past 155 years, and the discovery of DNA was even more recent. The entire universe was lifeless for over ten billion years, and now it’s taken under 200 years for apes to both formulate the theory of evolution and uncover its genetic underpinnings. From the industrial revolution to the information age, humankind has made a world that has never before existed. We are just beginning to discover who we are, but if each stage of cosmic evolution really occurs faster than the last, then the third act of the cosmic drama may soon be closing. The first was the universe without life, the second was life without thought, and now we are living in the third and most interesting act, the era where thought has sprung forth from life. This is the third act. What, possibly, could be the forth?

Time is racing to meet us. If the massive discoveries of the past two hundred years can happen again in the next twenty, if the exponential rate at which the universe produces new forms continues to accelerate, then we very well may reach act four of history in our lifetimes. This would mean the emergence of some fundamentally different mode of existence, like life and like conscious thought.

Time is alchemy, and it transmutes creation from one thing into another. It transmutes a vacuum of dust and particles into a world of oceans and sky, to be gazed upon by apes who feel the need to reflect on it all. It’s the same universe, but looking at it from its inception to the modern day – it really isn’t the same at all. Not even close. Time transforms reality into something that, years prior, would have been considered a fantasy. This is true whether it’s ten years or ten billion. So what awaits us in the future? In another thirteen billion years? Well, if anyone asked this shortly after the Big Bang, only a blithering fool would say: “There will be living, breathing matter that can think and write and also kill itself.” But that blithering fool would be absolutely right. Everybody else, who reasonably predicted ‘dust and a whole lot of nothing’, would have been dead wrong.

Reality builds on itself, layer by layer, like the ultimate masterpiece. Where will it build next? We know the materials at its disposal, and there are more than ever: atoms and chemical bonds, blood and brain, and the more elusive realm of thought, memory, and self-awareness. Where could all of this possibly lead? The wonder of possibility absolutely permeates our universe. It has given us thinking apes, and as apes, we can use our thought to probe possibilities, and to imagine (wrongly) what is next.

“Law”

Our prisons are filled with people who committed no violent crime. Drugs. Addiction. We punish the indulgence of these patterns. We jail everyone. A prison state, a police state. But where is prosecution for those who kill thousands under the angelic wing of the state? God is immune from crime. God can commit no crime. God’s murder is infallible, man’s murder warrants Hell. The self-righteous accusers, the archangels with swords raised – when will their reckoning come?

The war on drugs, the war on habit, the war against habit waged by the most habitual of us all: fools who consider law justification for itself. It is this delusion that creates dualism between angels and demons. It creates a false world where demons are who the news says they are, and the military and the police are angels carrying forth the will of God. An Afghani defending his village is a demon, a foreign soldier from an imperial power is an angel. This is the perspective of law, which condemns an Afghani for killing a soldier and praises a soldier for killing an Afghani.

This is the injustice at the core of human society: the justification of crime when the criminal is considered an angel, and the hollow condemnation of demons for the same offenses. Indeed, the “kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” crowd worship the throne of God – they stand before Yahweh and proclaim His righteousness – blind to the fact that He is a murderer, and proud of it. But to them, God is not a murderer by definition, and neither are His angels. Faith snuffs out the truth until only the void is left. Lock ‘em all up, and throw away the key.

Angels and demons are the same in spirit – they desire power, they seek to conquer and control. They are fine with the world as it is, they just want to rule it. Power is God, and those who fall on the wrong side of power can be considered demons. The powerful can be called angels.

Our age is no different from any other – we have merely pretended to transcend savagery. Pretense of ‘progress’ hides the face of the beast. Angels and demons are one, and they pray for the fortune of the same God.

“Reality”

Why do we fear reality? Because reality, for the vast majority of people on this planet, is suffering. There is no armada of good, no army of heroes dedicated to righting the world or making it safe from fire and death. Good, where it does exist, is often punished and marginalized. This is a world where heroes die miserable and anonymous, and a truly villainous ethic, justified murder and justified poverty, operates the levers of power. Who could face such a thing? Surely, no one can internalize it. The world is not as it should be, and it is this tension that creates stress, fear, depression, nihilism and finally the energy that is born in darkness to transcend it all.

From death springs life. The entire universe is one long tale that begins in darkness. From nothing, something emerges. This is the legend of all existence, the incredible story that serves to tell every other. The world transcends itself, over and over, and it will do it again. The only difference is that this time, there will be ape minds to doubt the transcendence, and articulate their doubts into language.

Of course, we are in a far more unique and beautiful position than just this. We are the universe’s transcendence of itself. We are matter’s most absurd and impossible form, brain made from meat that can witness landscapes visible only to a ‘mind’. A floating forest, dangling above the endless sea. A great magenta tower that spirals past the clouds. Where are these images? What are they? What is their relationship to a world that is filled with beauty, and now bears minds that can imagine beauty of their own? How can apes create anything, least of all anything of value, anything that could be considered ‘genius’ or a ‘masterpiece’.

The creative potential of the universe has found its outlet – thinking apes. It is as absurd as it sounds, and this is the place that we live. A place where an explosion occurred in nothingness and ushered forth ‘matter’, which would be the foundation of all reality. This foundation, once comfortable as cosmic dust, planets and rocks, has become more than ever seemed possible. It has become us, whatever we are.

Why should matter ever grow eyes and ears, and see and hear the world? Why should it then be able to ask this question? Why should I, matter, be able to type this now and through meat alone, you understand it? Why should dust and rocks have given way to anything even remotely like this?

In the end, mind is the puzzle that no mind can solve. We can hope that there is something beyond mind to make sense of it all, some divine force, or we can make that force with our own hands. Through mind, we can seek to transcend ourselves. Does this sound absurd? Well so does conscious matter, and that’s the very thing enabling this ‘absurd’ thought. Madness can build upon madness into the sublime, so long as it tethered to something real. And after all, the ever-changing and implausible nature of this universe seems to be an undeniable reality.

Ahriman and Lucifer

By Alex Blum

If the universe is in fact infinite, then every point within it could be considered the center. Accordingly, the Earth, and the human species, could literally qualify as the center of an infinite universe. However, so could any empty patch of space, or any pile of dust on any forsaken star. This is the problem of relativism in a nutshell – that in a world without absolute truths, everything is NOT objectively better than nothing. A world filled with life is not better than a barren molten wasteland. A world of creative human beings is not more worthwhile than a world of pure instinct and animality. The ultimate conclusion of this kind of thinking is nihilism, or at least, a tacit acceptance that what we do, in the end, truly does not matter. It is the same value-wise for humanity to wipe itself out as it is for us to conquer the stars. Why muster any will at all?

Academia, in my experience, instills within individuals the infinite deluge of relativism. In a world without abstract Truth we turn to tangible, smaller truths, and we seek to make our politics our religion. The curse of the age is the replacement of spiritual truth with political truth. What is a lie in a world without Truth? Only a narrow thing. We can only know narrow things. This is academia. We have so much, so many ideas, so many books, so many films, so many texts, that in the end the sum total is nothing. Everything is in fact nothing and this is the funnel of nihilism and despair. The whole of the sea sloshes around in our minds and Kant and Hegel and Faulker and Derrida all swirl together into a thing that is unspeakable and has no conclusion. Those who dwell on this, who can’t get over relativism, find themselves with two reactions: to escape the world or to ignore most of it. To run away from it all or to become a careerist philistine and cling to a narrow Truth.

Most people have their narrow Truths. A Christian, even in the sea of relativism, even when nothing is so, can see the resurrected Christ and know that is ground to stand in. The same is true of every religion. A young progressive, in the end, knows wholeheartedly that feminism and anti-racism are the Truths they must represent in the world. Even if all is dust, that reality in their mind will still remain. And to Richard Dawkins, there is scientific atheist materialism, the Truth that we are meat and there is no afterlife and no soul. Marxists have obviously placed Marx and often intersectionality as their Truths, and modern conservatives uphold the radiant light of free markets and prosperity. The person who is truly screwed is the thinking person without an ideology masquerading as Truth. The one who sees the sea of relativism, and chooses to brave it without absolutes, a ‘maybe logic’ (as Robert Anton Wilson would put it) without giving into relativism or giving up and accepting a half-Truth. These are brave thinkers, the kind of thinkers we all aspire to be – the great synthesizers who see all sides and yet plainly see that there are decisive angles to take. It is not ‘all a wash’.

Modern academia, of course, is focused on turning these kinds of thinkers into academics. All sources of power perpetuate themselves. Creativity is less important than following the theme, and today the theme of relativism seems deeply entrenched in the postmodern. Postmodernism and deconstructionism are about taking things apart, not putting them together. The deconstructionist is often incapable of creative genesis, as he has been taught how to take stories apart. He has been trained to look for ideology and unweave the narrative, replacing an epic with an academic analysis. To my mind epics matter far more than the literary theory that rises in their wake, but to academe, deconstruction supersedes creation. It is more important to disassemble ideas than to assemble or synthesize ideas that strike the heart as novel and true.

The postmodern liberal arts academy is actually quite sinister to the creative mind. It fills us with the deluge of all great stories, all great texts, ideas, authors, poets, theorists and philosophers, and expects us to assert and market our own place within it. How? When there is no truth, when every idea is countered by another idea and the relativist sea swishes around inside our skulls, how are we to simply add another piece of ideology to the pile? We become demoralized. We do not create, we only deconstruct. This is the curse of academia.

How are we to muster the will to create when we are utterly overwhelmed with equally potent ideas coming from all sides? We can’t synthesize the whole sea, at best we can bite off a piece of it, which is what much of fiction is – literary novels often focus on being fractured or portraying one time in a characters’ life vividly. The age of Milton, Dante, Homer is long behind. The Gods and the muses and the spirit world are too much to face without an ideological lens – instead we turn to neurosis, or the smaller things. We are the prodigious children too paralyzed to act, too paralyzed to take true risks. Especially for those majoring in art, finding one’s own voice while studying literature or art or music must be nearly impossible. At a certain level, one must internalize certain truths without being dogmatic, and then simply have faith in themselves. But which ideas to pick? Perhaps small political ideas, like being in favor of diversity. These are valuable but they are easy truths that ultimately place the stakes far lower than the epics of years past. We deserve epics, I feel, if we truly are at the center of the infinite deluge of relativism.

However, depression is a common and predictable consequence of all this. Depression and anxiety are consequences of being ‘beneath the surface’, literally buried in the waters of the sea of all ideas and unable to find anything that rings True, true enough to get us out of bed in the morning. Most liberal arts students are too smart to take easy outs like Christian fundamentalism, but incapable of a true synthesis. They settle for politics, as I’ve already stated. But political involvement is surface-level for the postmodern soul, steeped in fading and evanescent images and terribly anxious of its own future, its ultimate meaning, its own specialness in the universe. When one is submerged deep enough in the sea, they enter into a state of life without living. I have felt this condition, and it is profound in its reduction of the soul. Nothing is worth doing because there are only motions, forms, shadows, no content to stand behind, no Truth that won’t fall apart from behind. One can be struck with the experience of a truly great thought while feeling only rolling orange colors on the edges of their consciousness, unable to find anything tangible. The mind runs and runs and unfolds and blossoms in spheres and circles, and every thought within fades as quickly as it came. The soul of depression has no pride, it is ruled by fear. It yearns for the success of others, for any validation at all. It wishes it had written every book, sang every song, won every award and slept with everyone it ever wanted to. It fears most of all being thrown away like a shot deer without dignity. it fears being talentless and forgotten, its anxiety can never be quenched. The consciousness of depression sees zero and infinity, but lacks the steps to bridge the two. Swamped in overwhelming waters, the self gives in to the opposite side of everything – nothing at all.

Depression is a hyper-awareness of all the issues we cannot face, all the Truth that plays us for fools, and our subsequent paralysis. But the way out of depression, the way out of paralysis, is a radical answer. To my mind history offers two: the consciousness of Ahriman and Lucifer. Ahriman is the thesis, Lucifer the antithesis. Ahriman, the materialist devil in Zoroastrianism, proposes the path of capitalism – the philistine who pushes all the sea out of his mind and becomes a careerist, an opportunist. You live solely to get yours, to usher away your own fear by attaining wealth, which is equivalent to power. The Ahrimanic path is the go-getter, the Harvard 4.0 graduate who goes on to work at Wall Street and make a billion dollars. This is the path of self-consumption, as anyone with a leftist bent on economics and climate policy will tell you. Capitalism swallows itself, this industrious and careerist spirit is essential for launching civilization but in the end it destroys it. Marx, on this point, was spot on: capitalism eats itself from the inside out. Limitless self-promotion, self-marketing, self-propagandizing, all with the goal of personal profit, is like a pencil soaring through a tissue. At first it lifts it like a tent, and then it bursts through and leaves a crater behind.

The opposite answer is Lucifer, the consciousness of poets and the moon, those too frail and thoughtful for life. They yearn to escape from life and live inside the imagination. If Ahriman’s future includes economic collapse, climate disaster, bank failure and the collapse of empire, then Lucifer’s future is to halt all industry and flee into the woods. This is the radical progressive who sees that piecemeal reform will never make a dent in climate change, and so the only answer, essentially, is to destroy the modern world and remake it. The spirit of absolute rebellion is, however, also the spirit of absolute escape. Lucifer is depressed – he sees zero and infinity and he wants to scream his will into the void until his empty hands hold the sun. He loses against God, Ahriman, every time. Ahriman must burn himself out – he must be destroyed from within. Lucifer cannot destroy him because Lucifer feeds him – both impulses guide all of history as the interplay of idealism and materialism.

Ahriman will drive this world into the ground through relentless material exploitation at the cost of infinite spiritual regression, the deformity of human beings who have been reduced to one impulse: make money and lock the doors. Lucifer offers no tangible solutions. He will either escape to another country, a cabin in the forest, go off the grid, or become the sun and incinerate the world economy as his dying breath. This is the will of the suicide bomber. Since Ahriman will destroy himself, if Lucifer destroys him it will only continue the dialectic.

What is needed is a synthesis of Ahriman and Lucifer, because both will drive this world into the ground. But how can this be achieved? I have a kernel of an idea, but it is admittedly Luciferic in that it is unreal. However, it involves the intersection of Lucifer and Ahriman, the place where matter and dreams combine and one may finally realize the other. The idealist claims that the mind, all ideas and the landscape of the imagination, sculpts matter in its image. This is far more hopeful than materialism, which declares, as Ahriman and Dawkins do, that mind is a slave to matter, that the self is just a ghost sprung from a bundle of nuanced meat and that we are all animals.

If there was a way for Luciferic consciousness to utilize Ahrimanic consciousness, then through matter, the mind could be fully realized. This is very abstract so what I am precisely getting at is this: the answer is in creativity, in human genius, in the material evolution and the civilization that humans have created to serve profit, not humans. But if Ahrimanic technical genius could serve the unbound freedom of the imagination, humankind would be liberated from the wall we are pressed up against, the unwaking night of relativism that the educated world is now seeped in.

Human exceptionalism has always stemmed from our ability to create new worlds. No other species is capable of creating a world. In fiction, in poems, in songs and television, in all manner of epics, worlds branch off from our own and are made in our minds. In our heads we create a story that we from our own perspectives live in. We create worlds for others too, what we imagine they are, the world we construct that they came from into ours. Science is Ahrimanic. The arc of its knowledge has moved toward materialism, toward the understanding of human beings as nothing but machines, computers housed inside biological robots who are programmed to survive. However, science can be applied to change physical reality, whereas stories and dreams can only affect internal realities. This has always been the majesty of applied science – the ability to create cities, to take a skyscraper out of the mind and make it real, just as our ancestors saw a spear in their minds and made it real.

If climate change is soon to shake the world, if capitalism is self-destructive, if relativism has claimed the minds of the educated and rendered thought immobile, then the human species has hit a brick wall. The very word ‘post-modern’ implies an indefinite length of the period, as if everything after the modern is the end of actual progression and all that is left is deconstruction and fracturing. We can’t make anything more, we can only take it all apart. This is the facile non-wisdom of postmodernism. This is the anti-human and anti-life knowledge that exists at the core of the academy. Disregard it and instead weave Lucifer through the tendrils of Ahriman, stop running horizontally along the wall and leap over it.

The leap is literally to create a new world for human beings to live in, beyond the devastation of a ruined Earth, beyond the collapse of the world economy, there are two worlds open for the most interesting stage yet in the human journey. The first is the Luciferic dream of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, a future in space. I know nothing of this so I will leave it to be developed further.

The second is virtual reality; potentially the human destiny. How can it be any other way? We have sculpted the world outside and now we have made worlds within screens. The world within the phone, and the videogame. If apes can create cities they can create cities within cities. Virtual cities will house disembodied consciousness to live in a kind of Luciferic paradise after the decay of the material world. All that will remain on the ravaged Earth are massive hard drives housing colonies of minds living in real virtual worlds, with car keys made of code and bodies made of code. It will start with the elite and quickly incorporate everybody, like an ark as the Earth is rendered unlivable by climate change or nuclear devastation. In a virtual world the imagination is set free from matter. In this world, the landscapes of all the epics that have marked history can become literally real. Just think about 3-D modeling – the absurdity of apes being capable of modeling alternate digital worlds is just as unlikely as apes being able to live inside those worlds. What even is ‘digital’? Why should an ape be capable of creating such novel ways of expressing its own creativity? Interior worlds incarnate in matter separate from the ones that exist inside our own head? Our ability to make worlds is our final trump card against the universe.

The anxiety of the age demands a radical future. The center will not hold, and the evolution of Ahrimanic technology will not stop. It is the synthesis of Lucifer and Ahriman that will save us, the manifestation of Lucifer’s will through the knowledge and application of Ahrimanic consciousness. With both, we can create a new world. As Terence McKenna once said, we are not at the end of history, we are not headed for apocalypse, but rather, “we are a species burning its bridges and preparing to soar into the stars”. If climate change is the past world swallowing itself, if we will truly burn the world and flee in the name of our cosmic ambition, then so be it. If we will destroy the world to remake it then so be it. Now I acquiesce completely into Lucifer, because of the reality of an uninhabitable Earth being woven by Ahriman. The forces of history act in close concert. Only your individual will can make their synthesis.

Into the stars or deep into the mind, life will transcend itself. It did so the moment slimes became rodents, rodents became apes, and apes built cities and modeled fantasy worlds inside computers of their own creation. We will transcend ourselves again. The next time, it will be a cosmic event on par with the origins of all life. It will be the second coming, the revelation, the synthesis at the end of one act of history and the birth of the next. Slowly, the universe is evolving into something else. All of cosmic history is the story of this grand unfolding into the novel and the new, from the first respiratory system to the advent of 3-D modeling.

Christian Existentialism in an Evolving World

By Alex Blum

The human being is, to modify a classic viewpoint, an ape with an eye for becoming an archangel. Morally, this is what we seem to be, but on the level of productivity we are far more. The beaver makes a dam. The ant makes tunnels. The chimp makes a straw to suck ants out of tunnels. But humans destroy the entire forest to make a city and put all these creatures in a zoo made by engineers and architects, based on mathematical formulas we’ve created and then go home to our private domiciles and watch television, life recreated through technology and beamed into the eyes of us ‘apes’. We make a Large Hadron Collider, invent law, invent medicine, invent philosophical theories, make art and invent art theories, write books, put on plays, build nuclear weapons, speak in baby voices to little animals and shoot apex predators dead and skin them to mount on our walls.

The diversity of action in the human species, as well as the capabilities open to the species, are without a doubt transcendent beyond those of any known other. An elephant may be intelligent, but does an elephant do anything but eat, mate, defecate and in other words, simply live? The human being is bored with life. We seek to create something beyond it, we seek to transcend it – we feel immense existential guilt and go to cathedrals to confess. We feel intimate longing, lose ourselves in dreams, become depressed and lose our capabilities while living in a man-made world. A bear walking through a city is like a human walking through the kingdom of God. What does a deer do on an open highway? It runs into it because it doesn’t know what the hell a highway is. Were a human being to gaze upon the divine, our reaction would be the same – we wouldn’t know what the hell it is. We’d run wide-eyed and screaming, burned by the flames of Truth, haunted by the dark night of the soul. Read Ralph Waldo Emerson and then watch a chimp live. Without intellectual dishonesty, tell me that Emerson’s thoughts do not elevate him above the chimpanzee in the same way that an angel’s deeds would elevate them above a human being.

Indeed, a human can be less than human. A human being who lives like an animal is essentially an animal. Humanity is a possibility, a burden, and a curse. It is the whispering of the Goddess Sophia into the ear of a creature who is not ready and cannot face her. However, we must live as if we can. Humanity, like courage, is a wager – to become something impossible, at the cost of all complacency.

Philosophically, narrowly, we can ascribe the human/animal divide to a combination of the faculties of reflection and intervention. Reflection and intervention go hand in hand. The reflection upon any single thought and then the ability to act in accordance or in opposition to it. As an example: I’ll go drink coffee, then followed by another thought, Wait, I always drink coffee at this time. Why follow pattern? Followed by I’ll drink tea instead. Without the ability to reflect and act in this way, a human is hardly a human. We must reflect upon our behavior in order to change it. Indeed, we reflect upon our own genetic code and seek to change it. No other animal can have any pretense to this domain. Purposive rationality arises from this inherent reflection, this inherent thoughtfulness, in being human. Humanity rests upon the worth of truly human thoughts.

Thus we return to the moral dimension, to the conceptualization of humanity as a moral ideal. An animal yearns for power, because power is its only recourse in a world without humanity. There is a reason why we call cruelty inhuman. It is forfeiting our exceptionalism, our ability to speak and to create, to love and to harmonize, and instead embracing the fear-struck and spear-prodded beast running through the jungle in search of a weapon. An animal yearns to possess the very fear which destroys it, and the wielding of fear is power. Our current ‘human’ world, for all its transcendence, is based on fear and power. It is a world where might makes right, where the human is a machine in the service of the production of wealth, where the only ‘higher goal’ is to produce enough money to survive. International relations is a game of whoever the biggest bully is, and how much they can sculpt the world in their image while casting that image as that of the beautiful savior. Any behavior can be justified, the destruction of individual lives means nothing: the interests of states and corporations are elevated above humanity itself. We have used our institutions, made through human will, to become less human. To deny the individual the value of their own life. A world where individual lives can be thrown away for the greater good is a world where your life or mine can be thrown away for someone else’s greater good. It is the absolute undermining of the human soul. This world has doomed itself, as we consume and consume and draw forth dark oil from the Earth, we race toward our own doom. Nuclear weapons and climate change are our twin reckonings, endemic to our power-hungry nature. If we do not become human, then we will make ourselves into dust.

There are two futures open to the human race: the death and despair of self-destruction or the illumination of a truly human world. Liberal capitalist democracy cannot provide a human world, for even the ‘liberal’ president Barack Obama presided over the unchallenged Sword of drones, mass incarceration, free trade, taxes without universal healthcare, the illusion of grace and the reality of the fist of inhuman Judgement. When Barack Obama kills civilians in Pakistan, he is killing his own family. Unless he is a solipsist, he must view his innocent victims as those potentially just like him. I guess solipsism is easier.

There are strains of optimism, there is cybernetics and the hope of a disembodied future of consciousness without a body. Without bodies to destroy, evil is limited. But this world, until Ray Kurzweil tells us all he told us so, is a fantasy. Artificial intelligence is an attempt to model something we do not understand. It is the attempt of fish to make sense of water. Can brain understand brain? Can a human understand humanity? Immersed in truths, can we speak of Truth? We hit an inevitable ceiling.

A being immersed in being, a living thing living in life, cannot rise above life or being. The hope of a final philosophical synthesis is reserved for archangels and God. However, the reality of subjectivity cannot stop us from being human. It is, if Soren Kierkegaard is to be believed, Truth itself. Each of our lives is a fruit on a branch of the tree of life. All branches return to the same tree, and each one has its own truth to fulfill. The part, expressed to its fullest, reaches the universal whole. All we can do is fulfill our own individual part in being human, and through our own lives, seek to reach the universal whole from which all emanates and which we call God. That whole is the undifferentiated flow of all meaning, all being, all beauty and all truth. Every meaningful piece of art is a finite representation of this infinite ocean of life and soul.

So then, I would like to put forth my truth, a subjective thing that I ultimately must fulfill, and in fulfilling it I become a complete part of the world. I do my part to be human through a lens that helps me become human. The harnessing of this lens is the development of the individual into their own, and any tradition that they seek to represent. For me, it is evolutionary existentialist Christianity. Each of these terms informs the other, and the result is neither evolution, existentialism nor Christianity. It becomes a crystal through which my humanity may grow.

Evolution, an essential element in any serious worldview. With the medium of time, in this universe, being builds upon itself. From the nebulous plasma of the Big Bang formed planets, upon one planet arose life, and from life arose conscious thought and all that we have made. It’s all still matter. That’s all it’s ever been, matter-energy, and yet it can be a rock or a hand grasping the flag. Time is all that seems to decide the state of matter, and the universe packs its greatest achievements into the smallest and darkest of corners. Evolution is a reason to hope. It is the story of habit, and of novelty, and it is the force of novelty which allows the hand to break free from inanimate matter and possess a will of its own. The universe is incomplete: it is incomplete because there is novelty, it is an unfolding masterpiece and in this there is hope, that there are states of being still missing, still waiting to come into existence. If we are biology’s crowning achievement, and our own consciousness is the most baffling thing to a scientific account of the universe, then why should the novelty of the future be alien to us? Being builds upon itself. If there is pre-life, then life, then thinking life, the next step should logically emerge from within thought. What is it? Will we be able to anticipate it? Is a deer able to anticipate the emergence of highways? It will come from where we least expect it, when we least expect it. Even within our own minds, there are places so distant and so forlorn that the rising of a God from their waters would baffle the greatest of souls.

Beyond evolution, there is existentialism. The burden of biology’s greatest heights is upon our shoulders, and there is no Truth to find. Existentialism is the beauty and the humbling, the recognition of inability and in opposition to it, truest ability. It is the wisdom to realize that all truths are not True, that in the end, the only Truth is that which we affirm for ourselves. In this, there is freedom. The Truth is whatever we grasp with our own hands and assert as such. The part that is our lives becomes a fulfilled whole when the Truth becomes a World. A World is a Truth that is brought to light, that is given to something more than the self. Deepest frustration emerges from the rich soul that is unable to give its freedom to the world, that lacks a World of its own. But the beauty of existentialism is that it makes absolute Truth possible! The truth that is yours, fulfilled, becomes a Truth. It becomes its own World. Existentialism is the despair and the will, darkness and power set against one another and the will mediating between the two as the double-helix of light which shines in all our souls. There is now novelty, and hope. There is now freedom, and Truth. All that is left is a burden, a morality. A willingness to forfeit the self for the sake of itself, to forfeit the world for the sake of a World.

Christianity is the molten core of the human being. It is, finally, the recognition that we are truly human and that matter is not enough. Matter must aspire to something more, the spirit, the reconciliation of beast with archangel and the ultimate fulfillment of the being trapped between – in the burden of the cross, the burden of all humankind is realized. The Crucified surrenders his power and forsakes himself for the world: the divine itself is killed by state power for the light of resurrection. It is the principle of resurrection, of life for the Crucified, the poor, the homeless and the destitute, the trampled and those betrayed by the world of matter – the burden of humanity is the burden of the cross, carried for those who have been destroyed by matter. Christianity provides not reason, but rather an aesthetic. A context, a framing, a history based upon the cross and emanating from its salvation. The world of matter shall become the kingdom of God. The world will not be rejected, or refused, but redeemed. This is the message of the Christ, and the ultimate power of the powerless. Christ is paradox, He is light. Defeat is triumph. In death, life. The sublime madness of Christianity is the sublime madness of the conscious ape – in absolute absurdity is the breaking of the chains. The Christ is a demand for humankind to step outside of the cycle of power and fear, and aspire to the beyond. The infinite waters of Truth are the domain of the human being more so than any other thing in the material world. Without tangible angels, without a God that can act or intervene, there is only us. It is all in our hands. This existentialist Christianity, without even a God, is empowered by novelty. The completion of the universe is in our hands. God did not create us, nor did we create God. God is an ideal to be attained in the future; it is the completion of all being and the longing that the human strives toward, and that stings us most deeply when we turn away from it.

Create and express that which deserves to exist, that which must exist. Complete your part in the world through the creation of your own World, a shared Truth, give voice to the intuition which no one else has. A truly human world is a world where the individual matters, where individuality is not tethered to materialism but rather stands as a monolith, a tower, of soul. By virtue of the human brain, this potential is open to all of us. The human is that which is the above, which transcends the state of the animal and thus seeks to transcend life itself. The human being settles at nothing. The human being is an impossibility.

Humanity is a wager, a burden. It is living ‘as if’ the heights of evolution are unfolding and are yet to unfold. From a vacuum of plasma and dust, life. From life, thought. From thought, the divine. To me, this is the arc of the universe. It is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man, it is neo-Hermeticism, it is the ‘magical’ view of human beings, opposed to original sin and casting humanity instead as the prodigious children of a great light, tasked with bringing that light into the world. The waking world is only a testing ground, a place where one’s soul passes through matter, and through matter it makes the case for its own existence.

To quote the great God Zarathustra: “Man is something to be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?”