anarchism, Atheism, Catholicism, Death, poetry, Religion, Socialism, Spain, Uncategorized

Heretic’s Benediction

Priests bless the perversions of the fascists

While condemning the sharing of the land

but no foul curate will thwart our demand

we have no fear of holy chauvinists

 

Mass is held with the flesh of socialists

While Fathers absolve the barbarous bands

The sign of the cross made with bloody hands

Having sold their souls to Nationalists

 

We drink the pure water of righteousness

Boorish Priests are drunk on the holy blood

We sup as one on the bread of blitheness

While like cows with their host they chew the cud

they make a desert of faith with their weakness

Lo, and heed; after us will come the flood

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Atheism, Autism, books, Catholicism, Literature

Autism Diary #2

(c) Hertfordshire County Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

More on my autism. Yippie for everyone. Haha.

An aspect of autism, specifically the low spectrum variety that I have called Asperger’s, that surely gets a lot of attention but is very rarely commented on in depth is obsessiveness. That can take the form of interest in a particular color, a particular object like plastic furniture or civil war currency, or with activities or arts as is the case with me. Of course it is possible to have more than one obsession, as is the case with me. In a sense I have one overarching obsession and a few minor obsession.

The main obsession is with writing and reading, really anything having to do with literature and books. I write for a living (or rather I write and attempt to make a living from it haha) and I collect books. I have collected books for years now, pretty much since I knew what a book was. I was reading by the time I was 5 or 6, and writing at least since I was 8. My mom found a old transcript of mine from the mid 90’s telling the story of a misunderstood vampire who wanted to be more human. If only I had called it “Twilight” I would not have to be looking for writing opportunities today.

Today I have 360 books in my personal library, in my library room that takes up almost all of our second bedroom in our apartment. That number is misleading though, as I constantly sell and trade my books with friends, family, and used book stores. All told I have probably owned more than 1000 books in my life. I focus on philosophy, history, and classic and obscure literature. I am always bragging about the fact that I have a better philosophy collection than my well stocked local library.

I not only like reading the books, I like touching them, holding them, weighing them, comparing them, contrasting them, sorting them by color or type or size or date of publication. Right now they are sorted by the old standby alphabetic by author but that could change tomorrow. That is really where my autism comes in. I have a attraction to books and the way they look and feel that it really rises above just a hobby. I think about books in my sleep and I will buy any book no matter what the topic if the look and feel a certain way or if they have a particular painting or illustration I like on the cover. This is a double edged sword of course because the best books do not always have the most interesting covers and vice versa. But that is what wonderful trade-in used bookstores like Frugal Muse in Darien, Illinois. That is one of my favorite places on the planet and most of the books I now own either came from there or were purchased from funds obtained from selling books there.

When it comes to the other aspect of my literary obsession, writing, I am perhaps even more obsessive. I have at any given time half a dozen active projects going on. At the moment this includes finishing the last few chapters of my 500 page novel, working on part two of a two part epic Greek style tragic play, a short novella, various short stories, poems, essays and of course this blog. I write about two to three thousand words a day. My personal record was 23,000 words in about 16 hours. This was non-stop. My wife all but resorted to shooting me with a tranquilizer dart to get me to stop. I stay up til at the latest 4am almost every night editing and writing. I used to think this sort of devotion to writing and research was a common thing for people my age. My parents and my friends have disabused me of this notion.

When it comes to my more esoteric and less time consuming obsessions I seem to be somewhat obsessed with lists, especially lists of American presidents (I can name them all in order), English Kings (can name them all in order from William I on) and number one of all my historical obsessions, Popes. Yes, Popes. The head of the Catholic Church. Yep. I am obsessed with the men who have worn the papal tiara. I know much more than is normally expected of a non-catholic, indeed a non-believer. I can tell you all about the debauched reign of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, the papacy of Adrian IV, Nicholas Brakespear, the only English Pope, and of course my personal favorite Celestine V, the Pope who was literally dragged from his mountain cave hideaway life as a hermit to take the holy office. Oh and just to give you a sense of how obsessed I am…I didn’t have to look up ANY of that Pope trivia I just used. Yep, I am obsessed with Popes.

So there you go. Yet another view into my deranged mind. Stay tuned for more.

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art, Atheism, Catholicism, essay, Existentialism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, Religion

Rothko and Death: The Rothko Chapel Triptych

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 than 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 yields 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 it from its primary function.

Meaning is expressed through abstraction so that minds can find meaning in each other outside of the purely physical realm. That is not to say that the physical realm is less sacrosanct then 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: dreams, contemplation, and imagination. It is telling that Rothko began his artistic expression with Expressionism. Many of his earlier works evoke a period in the history of the human imagination that was better elucidated by the German’s and the Russians in the various European expressionist schools. Rothko tried to emulate the artists like Kandinsky or Kirchner with their use of color to evoke passion and in many cases pain and even decay; when you take a vision of the world as it is, in vital movement, and put it in a frozen static form you must in some regards acquiesce that some essential decay will and must be involved. I say he tried to emulate because he gave in to the impulse to try and force vitality and movement into a scene that begged for the contradiction of stagnation in its composition.

These are the famous Subway platform paintings and there is indeed a certain charm to them, but also a sort of parochialism inherent to the conception. What we see is not clear enough to be a true moment of expression, but it is not expressive enough to transcend the mundane subject matter and burrow under the surface to something more emotional. It is a scene taken, one may feel, out of context and out of a sense of desperation to express something, anything, but fails to do more than depict a certain boring certainty that what we see before us is just a sample of the mundane. Rothko is no expressionist, though he desperately wants to be with these earlier works. But this was not the style in which Rothko could best communicate meaning and in his own words “morality” to other minds. Maybe the aesthetic he was so desperate to use was not enough for him, maybe he had not fail expressionism; perhaps it had failed him? So he moved further into abstraction, and with abstraction their often comes a certain self-criticism. Because if there is no icon to focus upon within the work, the artist must first focus upon the only concrete “reality” available in a realm where no form has truly taken shape: his own mind, and the intentions of that being/force. Instead of discovering his own form of Expressionism or some new morality to pontificate on with paint, he discovered himself as an expression of silence in human form and found that there was nothing more he needed to discover.

This truth was driven home to Rothko by the events of the Second World War, and by the Holocaust in particular. Rothko said that “after the Holocaust and the Atom Bomb you couldn’t paint figures without mutilating them.” By mentioning the two greatest potential and realized expressions of the human drives of annihilation and cruelty Rothko makes it clear that humanity is no longer the paragon of the expressive process. How could they be anymore? How could the permanence of artistic expression be anything but a lie in a moral universe that allowed for the obliteration of millions upon millions of human beings? We must also remember that Rothko lived at a time when supposedly ideologically opposed societies threatened to burn the entire world upon an atomic pyre. The potential of total human disintegration and irrelevancy was real and quite likely in the minds of millions, especially those in the West. It is not surprising then to hear these sentiments from Rothko. With his art after the Holocaust he jumped full force into the depiction and contemplation of silence and of oblivion and nothingness. Or at least he tried to express these concepts through art. His success or failure in this endeavor is entirely up to the person who analyzes and appreciates his art. I happen to think that he did succeed…To a degree.

The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, USA is perhaps the artistic culmination of Rothko’s artistic negation. Today it is a center for promoting the arts and human rights causes, but it was originally conceived as a home for one of Rothko’s most profound statements of artistic rebellion against form and humanistic expression. The Black Triptychs permanently on display at the chapel is Rothko’s ultimate celebration of stillness and reflection. It is hard to think of a better medium for achieving deep contemplation through artistic negation: an large canvas painted in deep black split into three equally sized smaller vertically oriented panels. These are flanked on each side by enormous square canvases painted in an equally beguiling shade of black. Benches are arranged in a square in front of the display, facilitating reflection and meditation, and perhaps conversation. This is a work meant for public consumption if there ever was one. It is grand and self-important in a tongue in cheek sort of way: the way it is displayed makes it the focal point of the entire geometrically shaped room, but as a centerpiece it is conspicuously without any real center. There is no variance in the black, no added splash of color or texture that is so evident in Rothko’s other color block works. This is simplicity taken to an almost obscene level.

And yet it is self-evidently a triptych. The triptych is a centuries old form of art that was often used to show the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, or the scenes from the Fall of Man, or the potential final resting place of the human soul. The number three links it to the Trinitarian belief system of the Catholic Church and the artists who painted to celebrate it and the tenants of the religion. Rothko is not attempting a celebration of Catholic dogma with this composition, but I believe a linking of nothingness and humanism through the negation of the human with familiar and stereotypical Christian iconography and aesthetic. It is a way to coopt the spiritual ethos of a Catholic, and by extension Christian, philosophical tradition. Contemplative and inevitable nihilism is expressed through a medium usually reserved for ecstatic transcendence and messianic reverence. This is perhaps a subtle comment on the silence and selective application of nihilism of and by the Church leadership when it came to the Holocaust and the treatment of other non-Catholics by the Nazis in the years during and leading up to the Second World War. Offering salvation through faith is not enough of a response to the hate and carnage unleashed by the Third Reich Rothko seems to be saying with his black compositions.

That is if he is saying anything at all. We must ourselves beware of the self-conscious application of moral values upon a piece as enigmatic and essentially inscrutable as these. It is easy to look into the maw of nothingness, of death, and in desperation project what we must see in order to justify an existence that for most leads inevitably to pain. Perhaps this is what Rothko intended: not a statement of anything, but a surface onto which we project our own futile attempts to bring meaning to the void. Rothko seems to see death as the ultimate expression of artistic values because only death can be contemplated as both an end and as a means. Black is black, and no matter how hard we stare into its depths we will never see any other color that mitigates the shock of this reflection of nothingness.

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Atheism, Catholicism, Philosophy, Religion

The Catholic Church and the Wages of Sin: Part III

Ancient of Days Original sin is the most disgusting and morally repugnant concept ever devised by human beings to torment themselves. The persistence of this massive falsehood is a stain upon humanity that can be blamed almost unequivocally upon the Roman Catholic Church. The concept if Original sin can be blamed for hundreds of years of sexual repression and oppression. As the spawn of Adam’s rib women where and (sadly) still are viewed as secondary creatures. The story of the fall of man is essentially a reactionary screed by men terrified and repulsed by women. Fortunately for what would become the Roman Catholic Church most if not all of the founders of the religion where also craven misogynists. The creed of Original Sin would become the central tenant of what would become Christianity. Why did this have to happen though? Why is sin so important to the reactionary forces that make up the Church?
 

According to the Catholic apologist Thomas Bokenkotter the concept of sin is not specifically outlined in the Old Testament. According to him there are at least four separate possible meanings of the word sin: “to violate a legal norm, to go astray, to rebel, to err” (Essential Catholicism, 295) . I believe that every one of these meanings places the act of sinning firmly within a “secular” and humanistic realm. By this understanding to sin would be to commit a crime against society. Societies throughout history have rejected those who distinguish themselves from the norm. This includes those who look different, speak differently, and especially those think differently. Therefore it is entirely possible for a person to rebel against a society without even meaning or wanting to have rebelled. To sin one needs only to be born physically or mentally different then those in power. Who were the power figures in the ancient middle east? Men of course! They (like all of us) were descended from a human species that had not the time nor the reason to explore the world rationally. These ancient forefathers lived their entire lives day to day.

They lived in an environment that was brutal and unforgiving and they were constantly struggling to survive. This of course precious left precious little time for ration thought and observation. Everything was a potential threat so the world had to be seen through an entirely human lens. “The clouds in the sky are rumbling you say? Well it must be a great super human that is causing them to rumble. Now hurry up and help me skin this deer.” Episodes like this may very well be the origin of faith-based thought. At the time this could have been little more then a side effect of constantly fluid existence. Humans soon transcended the hunter-gatherer life style however, and progressed to a more stable existence based around agriculture. This left more time for thought, but unfortunately it was no more rational then before. “That rumbling in the sky is often followed rain. We need rain to keep us alive!. Sure, of course it must be caused by something, but not a human! It most be something much more powerful then you or I! If that is the case then we need to keep this powerful being happy and on our side.” It is easy to criticize this mode of thinking today from a vantage point of expanded knowledge and understanding of the world and how it works. One of the worst mistakes we can make as reasonable thinkers is to take what we now know to be true and deride past peoples and societies for not knowing what we know. The knowledge we possess today was acquired in a enormous collective exploration of the world and reality

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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, 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.

***

boschhh

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