Who knows?

13 01 2017

Who knows what is going on on the other side of each hour?

How many times the sunrise was
there, behind a mountain!

How many times the brilliant cloud piling up far off
was already a golden body full of thunder!

This rose was poison.

That sword gave life.

I was thinking of a flowery meadow
at the end of a road,
and found myself in the slough.

I was thinking of the greatness of what was human,
and found myself in the divine.

-Juan Ramón Jiménez, as translated by Robert Bly

found on this site

image found on this site

On the devil inside

13 06 2011

Above: A Ukrainian Eastern-rite sedevacantist excommunicates the past two Popes. Damn, I love Youtube.

“You’ve got the devil in you!”

Such a phrase has resonated in my life for almost twelve years now. Such resonance, however, has not always been front in center, or even audible, in my own mind. When I first heard it, I concluded the opposite. That woman must have had the devil in her: the devil in our pluralistic society who shouts down all differences, who affirms people “just as they are”, and who makes them feel comfortable about themselves, no matter how they are living. In other words, there was no way a twenty year old, full of piss and vinegar, was going to listen to some nosy woman riding on that bus in east Oakland in 1999.
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Notes on personal religiosity

23 05 2011

There are four tendencies that have influence, which I rank in ascending order of importance:

1. The post-Vatican II church: To tell the truth, I have never taken the modern Catholic church seriously. I mean, “never”. Even as a child, I knew all of it was rubbish. That goes for the modern Mass, the new catechism, any pope after Pius XII, and so on. If I have any affiliation with it whatsoever, it is because of nostalgia and an affinity for things not the modern church. It sometimes still keeps trinkets of the atavistic past (that pull on my heart strings) and it can defend values that I don’t find so bad at this point (tolerance, pluralism, etc.) But as a thing in itself, I find it all completely ridiculous.
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On bringing a knife to a gun fight

3 05 2011

I mentioned in an earlier post my wife’s great-grandfather, Rene Broussard. From the looks of it, he was half-white and half-Creole (mixed blood), and was, as already mentioned, quite wealthy for his time. He also taught himself to read English (most people were still speaking French in that part of Louisiana at that point). He also like to dabble in the “black arts”.

According to family lore, one day, Mr. Broussard got into an argument with another man when that man pulled a gun on him and fired five times at point blank range. Mr. Broussard had drawn his knife and came at him, and not one of the bullets hit him. He then gutted that man in the stomach with his blade, killing him instantly.

Now why did none of the bullets hit Mr. Broussard? Well, you see, Mr. Broussard had cut out pages of the magical diagrams from the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses and pinned them to his body under his clothes for protection. He came out of the fight unscathed.

The moral of the story: sometimes you can bring a knife to a gun fight, depending on what else you happen to be packing.

Kids, don’t try this at home.

On tradition

27 04 2011

When, at the beginning of this century, Bela Bartok transcribed hundreds of Hungarian folk songs, he provoked the lasting animosity of the partisans of Romantic national revival precisely by literally executing their programme of reviving authentic ethnic roots… In Slovenia, the Catholic Church and the nationalists paint an idyllic picture of the nineteenth-century countryside – so no wonder that when, a couple of years ago, the ethnological notebooks of a Slovene writer from the time (Janez Trdina) were published, they were largely ignored: they provide a picture of daily life in the countryside full of child fornication and rape, alchoholism, brutal violence…

-Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject


Random notes on God

4 04 2011

What do we mean when we say, “God”? I think we may all mean different things:

1. The God of doctrine: This is the God who will not fail, not defect into error, the abstract God floating in the ether above history, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. Except when they do.

2. The “folk Catholic” God: Sort of a cross between Santa Claus and a Mafia don. Old women burn candles and bug this god constantly to get their children a job, off drugs, to shut their neighbors up who are gossiping, etc.

3. The God of the mystics: The god of bullshit or good feelings. Pretty easy to make this one up and still sound the same as every other aspiring mystic of any given religious confession.

4. Deus sive natura: Perhaps the god of the agnostic, “spiritual not religious” person. Also a god of bullshit.

5. The personal God: Can be purchased for $19.99 plus shipping & handling. Options include fundamentalist, righteous misanthrope, suburban conservative, suburban liberal, peace activist, beige, compact, sedan, candy-paint, and “personal God Zero (TM)”.

6. The God of tradition: A cross between a Mafia don and your mother throwing a frying pan at your head. You believe in him because your father did, and his father did, and his father did. End of story.

7. The real Jesus: Unknown. Many have mentioned him, but no one can confirm that he actually exists. Some say that he was last seen at an anti-war demonstration in 1991 wearing sunglasses, flip flops, and a smiley face tee shirt. Others say that he was hanging out at a GOP fundraiser with Ralph Reid sipping a Diet Coke. None of these sightings have been verified by third party sources.

8. The God of virtue: Ceiling cat is watching you masturbate.

9. The “real God”: The one you found after concluding that all that your parents taught you were lies, lies, lies, and this society is intellectually and culturally BANKRUPT!!!!! Also known as the personal God.

10. God as History: “But in the World, secular business cannot be thus repudiated; it demands accomplishment, and ultimately the discovery is made, that Spirit finds the goal of its struggle and its harmonization, in that very sphere which it made the object of its resistance – it finds that the secular pursuits are a spiritual occupation”. Hegel, The Philosophy of History.

Most of the time, I am referring to 2, 6, 10, and sometimes 1.

A picture is worth, et al.

16 03 2011

Sort of where I am religiously at this point.

If you need a translation, you suck.

The unpreachable god

7 03 2011

I have a great affection for far-right wing Catholic traditionalist rhetoric. Somehow, I like hearing all the ways that I am going to Hell. Since I was affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X when I was still at a tender age for a young man, I think there is some sort of bizarre nostalgia at work. I remember my scowling and nice-but-crazy professors in the seminary in Argentina talking about how the Freemasons were taking over the Church, the Jews were taking over the world, the Catholic clergy was infested with communists, etc. Indeed, for someone who considered himself a Marxist only a couple of years earlier, this was a surreal situation to say the least. Perhaps that is why I took refuge in the study of Patristics and the Eastern Church; part of me realized I had made a huge mistake (a 3,000 miles away from home sized mistake). But the entire experience has given me an insatiable appetite for right-wing Catholic rhetoric, especially the “everyone’s going to Hell (except me)” variety. Call it Jansenism, clerical fascism, or most accurately, theological snuff porn.
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27 01 2011

Because I am feeling a little Nietzschean today, dammit

Just because something is broken doesn’t mean that there is someone around smart enough to fix it.

Ideas have consequences, but never the consequences we expect them to have.

God doesn’t care about 95% of what we obsess about in His name.

[Related: Some people pretend that God can’t take care of His own affairs, so we have to be indignant in God’s place.]

For some, cynicism is the wall that defends the city of belief.

Consciousness is the universe defecating on itself.

[I stole that one from somewhere, but I don’t remember. Plagiarism through forgetfulness.]

Anti-romanticist romanticism

11 01 2011

Sometimes it is good to look at what you think from another angle. I do so over and over again. Indeed, most of my projects are games of “let’s turn this on its head and see what it looks like.”

In this case, I would like to analyze why I have been so adverse to romanticism of all stripes. I have concluded that this sentiment is due to a mind blinded by romanticism. Indeed, is that not the essence of cynicism: a profound disappointment with things as they are? Are not cynics idealists who have just given up? Perhaps that is the reason that I can’t sit through a piece by Liszt and keep a straight face. There is a voracious totalitarianism at work in romanticism: an attempt to swallow reality in the emotional gaze, an attempt to absorb all mysteries of thought into the great well of passionate reason.

Why then resist? I have preferred artforms that have “left me alone”, so to speak; philosophies that explain the least but speak the most. But perhaps the best anti-romanticism is to own one’s romanticism. To not want to be “pegged down” to a certain position is the failure to accept failure itself. But the human condition is failure. To own up to systems that fail, to beliefs that are not perfect, is the greatest feat of superhuman realism. Yes, one perhaps will roll one’s eyes from time to time. But ideology may know better than we do, or the only way to beat it at its own game is to accept it as is, warts and all.