The absurdity of freedom leads logically to the absurdity of the fact-value distinction. If we conceive of a world of fact and a world of volition (freedom), the immediate question is: how do we manage to live in both worlds at once? Human bodies are a matter of fact, our values (volitions) supposedly a matter of freedom. But how can I truly be free if a choice to cross over from the world of volition to the world of fact might immediately be canceled by some fact there encountered, which forces me back to the world of volition. Am I doomed to freedom? And therefore not at all free?

There are a lot of people who think we have free will. Their explanations range from divine decree to belief in minds or souls. But they miss a fundamental contradiction in this assumption. If I had free will, truly, I could choose to give it up. Then I would not be free. Not being free, it is possible that freedom could be forced back upon me. After all, it happened once, why not again? So how free can I be when my free choice to give up freedom might easily be canceled out as soon as it is made? The notion of freedom automatically leads to an absurdity: the idea of a free being who can will the conditions of unfreedom. Like the idea of all powerful god who can create a rock so massive that even she can’t lift it.

For centuries, western authors have debated the so called “fact-value” distinction. This is the idea that values are fundamentally different from facts, and that no value can ever be logically deduced from any observed fact. This would seem to imply that humans, as the value speaking species, are fundamentally different from all other species. It would also seem to imply that there are two worlds out there: the fact based world and the value based world (sometimes called the kingdom of god), and that a human life properly understood is the occasion for the (very difficult?) ascent from the former to the latter. Authors like Darwin of course threw a metaphysical monkey wrench into the whole affair by proposing a model in which values are the evolutionary consequence of a whole bunch of valueless facts. This is no doubt why there is so much animosity towards teaching his theories in Trump-Pence voting communities. Where do you stand?

of course they don’t tell me what they think of me
i suspect they’d rather force me back into words
though the small round space heater
at the end of august smells like roasted flesh

as we burn them so let us praise them

sacrament  intraverbal  question  slogan  cautionary  guess
fragment  congratulatory  stage direction  prayer  neologism
morality play  traffic stop  metalepsis  analytic  chant  cliché
echo  observation  command  harmonic  encyclical  subjunct
whisper  synthesis  absurdum  treaty  predicate  obstruent
sacrifice  excuse  myth  online profile  disjunctive  temp-
oral specification  indulgence  conversation  deprecant  animatory
protest  phatic  assumption  ornamental  a priori


she was supposed to spend the day with him but instead
while his respiratory effort advanced to nowhere she
came late and sat there trying to match him breath
for idle breath

nothing came of it and she stopped
to count the laces of her shoe while the nurse busied herself
about the bed

already on the third admission to the hospital
for the year and she wanted to ask the nurse what they should do

she also wanted to look out the window because his room was often
on the seventh floor and she thought the city must be coming alive down
where cars already knew to drive with their lights on and children
were being picked up by their parents as he used to when she was four
and he smelled like office furniture and eight hour cologne

he never disappointed her and she never failed to giggle
into his arms

finally the nurse left but for all she knew
orchestras were playing and the room could have already filled up
with the colorless odorless outgassing

of her father’s failing body

my teacher had me read a battered version of johann bach’s
younger suites, inventions of a year he regretted all his life.
the words didn’t come about quick enough and he like me
wanted a certain velocity. to hide the disingenuous caper
of a walked on carpet. it’s not a lot. it’s not a storm. what
is it a gloom begone? after a time no one imagined i played
such that no one could hear.

one ash wednesday she didn’t want anything
on her forehead. instead she had her father put the
smudge on her left upper cheek. her point was that the
church has been giving the black eye to original
peoples for untold centuries and she thought it was time
to tell the untold. to understand they were not nor
had ever been unwashed vermin, sins of flesh, a transgression
of mind or the off cast after thoughts of a god better occupied
with some manly affair of men. it was time and it was time
she declared so plainly that one could be dead and still hum
the tune, to give up many things. but most of all the idea
of a god who ruled a world created by words, words
he spoke most fluently in whatever story he might appear.