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Archive for February, 2013



What is Plato’s form of the good? If I were a rationalist, I might say that good is the being of being that exceeds all being. It is our notion of the cause of everything, which some call (good – o) = god. But since I’m not, I won’t.


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I began making pictures a long time ago. In fact, they gave me my first camera when I was four. Right away, my father says I took pictures of people that showed the whole person, instead of cutting off their feet or their heads. When I was ten I learned to process film and print from the negatives. That’s when I discovered I liked line, shape, light and texture. The subject matter is not as important to me. I don’t really care if you know what your looking at. Or if you like it. I just want you to look again.


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The short movie “The Overview Effect” has had a profound impact on many viewers. I suspect it is because like the astronauts who gaze in awe back at the earth, we too are deeply moved by the data of our senses. Our senses that for the first time see the lights of major cities echoed in the myriad thunderstorms spread out over a continental massif– nature’s lights and humanity’s lights brought together over staggering distances. Connections made that could not be previously visualized. Our community re-described on a planetary, or galactic, continuum. When you see connections on this scale, with your own eyes—how can anything ever be the same again?



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I suspect we tell stories about noumenal (divine) love just because we realize its earth bound rarity.


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Rationalism is the age old project of trying to defend the truth of words. It has appeared again and again throughout western history in various guises. For example, the verificationism of the logical positivists can be re-described as simply an alternative (“a posteriori”) method of anchoring words to an objective reality. This is why they loved the picture theory of language presented in the Tractatus. But they did not understand that Wittgenstein was in fact writing an intellectual Trojan horse designed from beginning to end to attack all forms of logical rationalism. As if he meant to say, look: the project was just as empty when it began as it was when I finished it.



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Have regret or love ever changed the world? Or has it been deeds, actions, efforts that have done that?



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From my perspective the origins of holy communion in the Christian tradition are exactly opposite to what is currently practiced. When Jesus of Nazareth asked his followers to repeat the ceremony of the Passover each year remembering him and examining themselves, he was not asking them to set up a priestly ceremony of submission and obedience. In fact I believe he was saying just the opposite. I believe he was saying that when the time comes each year to remember how Yahweh saved you, don’t look to the priests. Look to the bread. It is ordinary. It is with us daily. It is a memory of compassion and salvation. It is love.



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Kant proposed that we divide thought into two broad categories: seeing, observing and describing which he called speculative reason and appreciating, loving and approving, which he called practical reason. Thus logic, science and mathematics were contrasted to ethics, religion and aesthetics, though aesthetics as requiring accurate description seemed to point to something else called judgment which requires both descriptive and appreciative heuristics. Thus Kant built the container into which the romantics poured the most marvelous draught. The expansion of the appreciative modes of being defined a horizon Kant was certainly well aware of, yet could only hint at, thanks to the titanic challenge of re-inventing all the vocabularies of his ancestors. In this world the human truly lives, they claimed, and never looked back.


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In 1651 the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote in what we think of as the classical liberal tradition of political philosophy. His was the notion that humans require society because left to a state of nature we are incomplete–being fundamentally unruly, aggressive, unmanageable and miserable. Liberalism posits that the role of government is therefore to enforce an implied social contract by which people come together for mutual aid and protection against the forces of nature, including the un-tamed forces of other people’s desires and brutalities. Thus government and society liberate humans from the misery of their natural state and bestow the possibility of something more than “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” It is interesting to me how classical liberalism is in many ways a secular echo of the medieval Christian church. Because ever since St. Augustine, Christianity had also seen humans as living in a desperate state, badly in need of transformation, protection and salvation. The holy sacraments, like the social contract, are also here to save us from a state of incompleteness and sin. The traditional pillars of the church–baptism, submission, prayer, holy communion–all of these are aimed at enclosing the individual in a sanctified community protected from the untamable urges of human nature. Sin and nature are transformed by rituals proclaimed by the Christ whose universal (Catholic) church redeems the imperfect body through ritual washing and anointing, by regulating the calendars of existence, and by sanctioning communal feasting on the divine corpus itself. In liberalism no place remains for what the romantic authors of the 19th century ardently defended as an equally valid model of human nature: a nature that is itself worthwhile, vigorous, creative, and life affirming. A human nature that need not be transformed, sanctified, regulated, observed or redeemed from within or without. This is why romanticism is often the enemy of both liberalism and Christianity. They insult what romantics hold so dearly in their dreams of life. Life which is virtuous itself and to itself being alone, naked, vigorous and vital.



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“I promise to change my habits if you promise to help me change compassionately and non-judgmentally.”



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