art, Entertainment, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art

Rothko and Death Part I

 

 

Death in all its calm beauty...

Death in all its calm beauty...

Beware of the self-conscious excess of false abstraction. Beware of artists who claim to “lose themselves” in meaning less artistic action. Twirling random colors on a canvas seem to signify a lapse in the continuum of meaning, but they are in actuality the true potential of meaning. Every twist of the artists wrist and every flick of the brush speak to a mood of ecstasy and power that drives an artist to create something dynamic and alive in the paint. Look at the “abstraction” of a Pollack and ask yourself if you can truly accept its meaninglessness. What we see in the mounds of paint is nothing more or less then a self-portrait of intent and imagination; a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to a new sense of the self and the expression of the self. This self-portrait was composed by and for the conscious mind. Looking into a mirror yield a vision of the physical matter that makes up our momentary substance: we show this to the world so that they may explore us and then move on if and when they wish to. If the see something that they wish to explore further then they can choose to dig beyond the physical into the mind.

A self-portrait of intent and imagination (a portrait of the mind itself) is a mirror in its own right. What is seen reflected back is the dynamic expression of an identity in motion. The mind can exist outside the medium of the body in this artifice, and can therefore have more freedom to interact with the world without the distraction of the familiar physical self. In this way multiple minds can interact through the medium of art and “abstraction”: the mind can be rid of all the physical niceties associated with getting to know someone else and get right “to the point” so to speak. The body can be a part of these functions, and they also have roles to play all their won, but both together may at some times be a distraction from the real purpose of finding intellectual arousal and excitement in art. We must understand however that one physical attribute is needed for the mind to function: that is of course the brain which is thankfully conveniently located within the body in such a way that the matter itself does not elicit to much notice separate from it primary function.

Meaning is expressed through abstraction in order that minds can more easily find meaning in each other outside of the purely physical realm. That is not to say that the physical realm is less sacrosanct them the mind, but one must acknowledge that art is best understood through the utilization of those mental facilities that can on occasion divorce themselves from physical action: reason, contemplation, and imagination.

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art, Atheism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, Politics

Madness?

Is this madness that I feel?

Is this madness that I feel?

I am truly starting to believe that madness is the gateway to genius. I have read about many remarkable people throughout the years, and most of them seem to share a singular trait in common: a touch of madness. Now, when I say this I don’t mean to say that they are insane. The insane live in a reality all of their own, and are not aware of their illness. A mad person is fully aware of the condition of their mind, and many embrace this fact and use it to their own benefit. Most people do not understand the potential of madness, or the profound gifts that it can unleash. Some of the figures in history who used their madness to unlock profound genius are: Napoleon Bonaparte, Victor Hugo, Vincent Van Gogh, George Orwell, Alfred Hitchcock, Salvador Dali, John Steinbeck, Genghis Khan, Gore Vidal, Mozart, St. Augustine, Joseph Stalin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Francisco Goya, among many others. These people have made an impact on history far beyond what many could have foreseen for them, and I believe that a strain of madness, or at least oddness, helped unleash many of their talents. By contrast these are some people who I believe were insane and had an impact on history: Nero, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Lord Byron, Ivan the Terrible, The Marque De Sade, Joan of Arc, Torquemada, St. Paul. I am exploring the idea of madness and genius in my writings as of right now, and I am sure that I will talk about this subject at a later date. Just a  mad little thought.

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Atheism, Catholicism, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

The Catholic Church and The Wages of Sin Part II

I looks real to me...

I looks real to me...

Continued from Part I

…Sadly, arguments like D’Souza’s and other apologists are often excepted at face value by well meaning people who have been trained and manipulated into believing such odd displays of “logic”. The Church treats its adherents like children. Like children believers learn to except and mimic whatever their elders and “betters” teach them. They were trained from a young age to look not for reason but for the absence of reason. The less logic inherent in a statement, the less provable the statement is, the more it is said to be valid and superior. Believers are expected to ignore and repress their own mental facilities and urges in favor of illogical fear (also known as faith). This is done for two reasons: to maintain power over the flock mentally, and to protect themselves from the masses they have abused and stunted. The Church, like any other major religion, finds the basis of its beliefs in past fears, superstitions and myths.

These factors still influence the belief systems of the Church, but many of their tenants are now based upon reaction to issues that arose since the creation of the religion. These tenants are based upon innovations and progression in the realms of Sexuality and Procreation, Science, Philosophy, and the Secular world of Politics. The Church’s reactions to these areas of human understanding and experience form the basis of the contemporary assault upon reason and intelligence. I hope to unveil to the fearful the perversions and the delusional beliefs of the church and how they impact their lives and their children’s lives.

These issues go far beyond molestation of children by priests. They influence the lives of human beings in a way that most do not understand, and sadly many never will. I will address these areas of concern one by one, and explain how the Church uses its tenants and beliefs to indoctrinate its members and keep them enthralled and in a constant state of fear. First however, to understand the special Christian concept of fear its twisted cousin sin must be explored.

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Atheism, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Some Quotes on Politics and Belief

bronze-philosopher1

“A Socialist is a Communist who has retained his capacity for independent thought”.

A wise person once said this, and I believe it. Socialism is not for those who want to be ruled with an iron fist. There is no room for Stalin’s or Hitler’s in the world that Socialism creates. Socialism is for those who choose to think about the world the want to live in.

“Whomever said writing was easy has never written anything worth reading”.

This quote I emphatically agree with. Writing is a brutal, painful process of self-understanding, self-brutalization, and self-betrayal. It is also the only way for writers to remain sane. A piece of literature is the pound of flesh demanded for the privilege of having a fully functioning intellect.

“Religion is the last refuge for our inner child”.

I have seen this firsthand. When we see a religious fanatic we are seeing a man or woman in a state of arrested development. Every screaming pastor is a crying child who was never told there was nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Faith is our last warm blanket: unfortunately this blanket slowly but surely smothers us.

“Our eyes can see nothing that our minds have not already beheld”.

This phrase in particular moves me. One can have perfect vision and still be blind to the world around them. One must look at the world through the lens of reason before an object can truly be appreciated or understood. When millions look at the sky they see nothing but the reflection of some imagined super-ego. What they miss is the chance to see the sky for the sake of the sky. A blind atheist sees the world more clearly then a Christian with 20/20 vision.
“Throughout the history of the entire world there has never been born a Christian”.

This sentiment is true. Every human being who has ever walked the earth was born without religion. We are inherently atheistic, reasonable animals. We must be trained to be religious. Like a wild beast that has been trained to love its cage, many humans have been trained to love the prison that is faith. We must always remember however that no one is ever born into this prison. They are either put there or enter it themselves.

 

 

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art, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art

On Art: a Personal Declaration

Art has always fascinated me. Ever since I was a little kid I have loved looking at paintings. When I was very young I liked looking at abstract art because it looked like something I could do myself, and I did try many times. As I got older I started looking at art in a different way. I realized that the people who had painted these images were not just doing it as a job, but that art was their life.

My family and I visited the Art Institute of Chicago frequently. Of all the wonderful Museums in Chicago this one is my favorite. I have a postcard from a visit in 1993. On the back of the card my mom wrote that I had been most excited by the “Spike Ball” (must have been a medieval mace) in the Armor display. Over the year I have come to enjoy the Impressionist Gallery the most. I have walked the halls of that Gallery dozens of times looking over the masterpieces within. There are works by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoirs, Toulouse-Lautrec, and the great La Grand Jatte by Seurat. The paintings that capture my interest the most, however, are by Vincent Van Gogh. There is one self portrait in particular that always seems to draw me in. It shows the artist in slight profile and is painted in muted greens, blues and browns. He looks sad, but with a strange, almost inhuman glint in his eye. I wonder whenever I see it if he has caught in his painting of himself a brief glimpse of his own genius? His eyes seem tormented by something. Everyone knows that Van Gogh eventually committed suicide. It was partly because of his deep depression (probably clinical), but I also think his death was brought around by something even more deep seated. That glint I see in his portrait may show his genius, but I think that this genius also brought with it a certain madness.

So much more then a house...

So much more then a house...

How could someone be so profoundly gifted, and at the same time not understand the gift that the y have? Van Gogh’s paintings seem desperate, like he realized that he only had a brief time to depict what he saw. the world to him must have been so beautiful, but at the same time so very terrifying. When you look at his masterpiece Starry Night we see a small village light by starlight, but we also see something else. There is a large, black twisting tree that takes up much of the left of the canvas. It fits with the composition, but not the setting. It sticks out on this beautiful landscape like it wants to be noticed for what it is. It is beautiful in its ugliness. It is just a tree, but it seems at the same time to be a very menacing, almost demonic, shape. It would not be out of place in a Bosch hellscape, and yet is placed in the French countryside. I wonder if this tree is a representation of Van Gogh’s own disturbed nature?

The way that Van Gogh paints amazes me. His strokes are not really strokes, but swirls. It is as if he is not really painting, but feeling. His subjects are not painted as they are, but as they are experienced.
Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite artist, and a personal hero of mine. I think one quote of his sums up his character, and the characters of all misunderstood people: “One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever come to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on the way”. I find much to admire in Van Gogh,  and other imaginative artists, and I hope that others can find the time to stop and see the beauty in this chaotic world.

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Atheism, Catholicism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, Religion

Faith and Fear Part II

Faith and Fear Part II

The other fear, the fear that I will be discussing and which concerns me most, is an imagined fear, and is, I believe, not innate, though it depends a great deal on the faculties of the former category of fear. This fear is in essence a form of irrational terror; terror at the unknown just for the sake of its being unknown. This fear can manifest itself in many ways, and often leads to a fear and hatred of those who are not innately afraid. The Terrorized can not abide the idea of facing their fear alone, and must cultivate it in others. But, ah, this is where another human predilection comes into play; that of the desire for power and control. Why stop at cultivating fear? Why not use that fear to a personal advantage, namely the control of the individual whom fear is introduced to? Much could conceivably be gained by being the supplier of what is to be feared. Is not your own fear lessened when others fear along with you, and are you not comforted more when the other has more to fear then you? This is where faith can now safely enter the picture as a tool in what is essentially a terror campaign. “The fear of God” can be put into the minds of other men, and by being a Prophet (however fearful yourself) of that God you can prize from the situation a certain degree of power. Remember, God is seen as both a force one with nature and a force beyond nature.

This idea of a God has been used for sometime to attempt to describe, explain, and justify our own existence. How and why this came about is not certain to me, but its having come about has led to many calamities in human consciousness and human affairs. Wars, hatred, and genocide are only some of the evil committed in the name of God. God controls all in the fearful mind, and he has the power to do ill or good to us at any juncture and for any, all, or no reasons. By extension, he who best understands how to engender a fear of God through faith can in the end control the minds and bodies of many men. We cannot see God, we cannot touch God, we can not prove God, but we can project him onto what we can see, and touch, and prove. This is the capacity of faith to latch itself onto our capacity for reason, and you use that capacity like a drone for its own purposes. Reason is the idea that perhaps we do not need to fear something if we can attempt to understand it through empirical and intellectual means. Faith rejects this assumption, and posits in its place a cerebral tyranny that allows for no conceivable reality save that which justifies its own fear based assumptions. The fearful man will stoke fear in others for he is afraid of being afraid alone most of all.

Thus this fear of being alone can also play into the desire for power and control; we wish most to control what we most fear. Those who do not immediately join the Terrorized man in his terror are mistrusted, and soon hated for this sin of being “braver” then he. This dolt who lacks the fear of such an important man as he must lack something essentially human, or worse must disregard something in his nature out of nefarious impulses. He must protect himself from such inhuman men, and use any means necessary to do so, even in the face of rules set down by his God that proscribe against the very actions that must be taken to combat the enemy. God will forgive evils committed in furtherance of the interests of those who most revere him. Thus the man who imagines himself surrounded by fiends becomes a fiend himself to combat them.

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boschhh

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Atheism, Catholicism, Philosophy, Religion

The Catholic Church and the Wages of Sin Part I

extreme_unction_rogier_van_der_weyden 

 

The Church and the Wages of Sin

The end of faith and fear can only come about when the institutions that promote and use it are exposed for what they really are: parasites. Parasites prey upon the weaknesses of the host and feast upon its resources and fill it with poison. Faith is that poison, and fear is the vessel used to transport it. One of the most frequent users of this vessel is the Roman Catholic Church. In what is now commonly called “the post 9/11 era” many people have become much more aware of the historical realities of the Church in the past. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of Jews and “heretics”, all of these things have come to the fore in the disparate arenas of popular culture, historical analysis, and perhaps more importantly politics. None of these issues are the concern of this essay. I wish to narrow my focus to within the past Century or so, specifically the evolving positions of the Church and its leaders and apologists since Vatican II. The apologists include those who may not be Catholic, but who also find a reason to defend their essential beliefs. I believe that this period shows a disturbing trend towards greater abuse of fear as a tool to keep the “faithful” in line, and to influence the culture at large. The Catholic Church today inserts itself into almost every discussion about societal problems and scientific inquiry. Abortion, Stem cell research, evolutionary biology, the Holy See sees fit to share its esteemed opinions and beliefs with the public and with its political representatives. The Church claims to be the greatest example of human kindness, enlightenment and charity in the world. It is my contention that the Church is actually one of the worst offenders against human decency and reason in the world today.

According to Friedrich Nietzsche “Life is at an end where the ‘kingdom of God’ begins” (twilight of the idols, p. 55). If you were to ask the dearly departed Karol Wojtyla, nom de plume John Paul II, he would have a much different view. The Kingdom of God has dominion over our lives, indeed it is our lives. God is life and therefore there is literally no life without God. How do the esteemed fathers of the church know this? They are told directly because they communicate with the deity on our behalf of course. His holiness whom-ever-the-old-celibates-decide-is-the Pope also has the unexplainable, and down right amazing ability to infallibly speak on behalf of God. The problem is not so much that The Church has delusions of grandeur as it uses infantile arguments to justify these delusions. Translations of translations of translations of esoteric Hebrew theology and myth are said to be fact by so called experts who made up their minds about what the believe before they ever attempted a serious examination of their holy books. These “Theologists” (as they like to call themselves) and their apologists also employ faulty logic to create a foundation of “reason” for their odd beliefs. One of my favorite examples of this religious logic was employed by the conservative Christian Apologist Denesh D’Souza in a debate with the writer Christopher Hitchens. D’Souza made the ridicules argument that Christians created the concept of Compassion. He backed up this erroneous declaration by citing the Biblical parable of the prodigal son. Hitchens tore this argument apart easily by pointing out that the story took place before there were any Christians at all: Jesus had not yet been crucified and St. Paul had not even been born yet. So D’Souza was undermined by his own belief system!

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