Our raspberry and blackberry bushes provide good yields every year, but the quantity and quality of both has been exceptionally high this summer. The wetter than normal May and June we experienced this spring probably has much to do with it. The extra precipitation appears to have been a blessing for all fruits in this region of the world. For example, the branches of my wild plum trees are so laden they are on the verge of snapping. My neighbor's apricot tree appeared more yellow than green this year. The only fruit that did not seem to do well this summer were watermelons, which have been smaller and less sweet than they normally are. In any case, the abundance of fruit this season guarantees ample jams and preserves, which brighten even the darkest winter days with the scents and flavors of summer.
At its core, Beauty is an invitation extended by the Divine. Beauty beckons us to recognize and appreciate the Divine by connecting it with the Divine within ourselves. Beauty reveals the Truth and Goodness of Creation and propels us to align ourselves with this Truth and Goodness through love. Beauty calls upon us to actively join Creation; to become co-creators inspired by Truth and Goodness. If the invitation Beauty extends is accepted in this manner, then Beauty can indeed save the world.
On the surface, Beauty appears to be entirely positive, yet in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Dmitri refers to Beauty as a “terrible and awful thing” and goes on to state that “God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.” What does this mean? How can the Divine’s invitation to grace, awe, and reverence be a “terrible and awful thing” and how can the Devil utilize Beauty as a battlefield in the heart of man? Much depends on how the invitation the Divine extends through Beauty is approached. In other words, Beauty’s potential to save the world depends entirely on how the invitation is accepted. Many simply ignore the invitation through sheer apathy. Others react to the invitation with hostility. Others interpret Beauty’s invitation as an incitement to selfishness, lust, and evil.
The invitation Divine extends through Beauty is often repudiated and rejected. Not all who perceive Beauty appreciate the Truth and Goodness it contains. On the contrary, some vehemently reject and scorn Beauty, Truth, and Goodness altogether because they contradict the central beliefs of the modern world - determinism, materialism, atheism, relativism, and hedonism. People of this type have rejected any notion of God and exist in a world where “everything is permitted.”
In this regard, the Divine’s invitation to Beauty becomes an affront, something to be mocked and spurned. Rather than inspire love in the Divine Self, Beauty’s invitation provokes only selfish lust. Instead of motivating the Divine Self, Beauty inadvertently activates the Demonic Self, which rejects the recognition of Divine Creation and the call for co-creation in favor of nihilism and the call for destruction.
Those who approach Beauty with lust only see opportunities for pleasure and power. Divine Creation is reduced to a world of predators and prey. Beings are regarded as Things. Subjects become objects. Beauty, a means for selfish gratification. Pleasure is derived from the dismantling of the Sacred and the promulgation of the Profane. Nihilism is equated with ultimate freedom – meaninglessness becomes life’s only meaning. The abyss opens, and the desire to have it consume everything takes control.
Whether Beauty saves the world or destroys it hinges on how we respond to the invitation Beauty extends. Beauty is indeed a battlefield in the hearts of men. Whether God or the Devil prevails on this battlefield depends entirely on us. The connection between in the Divine and Divine Self is only possible if Beauty is accepted with love, for only love can perceive the essence of Divine Creation and understand the Heaven it offers. Love recognizes the Resurrection after the Crucifixion without denying the necessity of the Crucifixion.
Conversely, the connection between the Divine and Divine Self becomes impossible if Beauty is interpreted as to incitement to lust – as an open invitation to evil – because lust rejects the essence of Divine Creation and the Heaven it offers. Lust openly scorns and denies the reality of the Resurrection. When lust perceives Beauty, it sees only the Crucifixion and the profane pleasure it can derive from cruelty, suffering, destruction, and death.
We expend far too much energy focusing on evil in the world, and by the world I mean this, dare I say it, fallen world we inhabit during our mortal lives. Of course, we must take stock of evil – recognize it; comprehend it; condemn it – but all too often we end up doing this at the expense of Goodness, that is at the expense of seeing, understanding, and praising the Good in the world. Focusing exclusively on evil in the world – on what is bad, negative, destructive, and inverted – is a deadening activity, one that can lead to spiritual poisoning and atrophy, which in turn leads to alienation, a sense of detachment and disenchantment, passivity and apathy, and, ultimately, meaningless and nihilism.
Alienation is the modern world’s disease, and the only cure is involvement and re-enchantment, activity and enthusiasm, and, ultimately, meaningfulness and belief. One of the best ways to become re-enchanted with the world is through Beauty. Through identifying, recognizing, understanding, and appreciating Beauty, one immediately comes into contact with the other transcendentals, Truth and Goodness. Beauty is a glimpse of and a gateway to Heaven and the Divine. In this sense, Dostoevsky’s assertion that Beauty can save the world begins to fall into place because it aligns us with Truth and Goodness and, thereby, offers illumination, hope, faith, redemption, and salvation. Beauty allows us to appreciate Creation and utilize the potential of our own creativity.
The assertion that beauty will save the world is a monumental, sweeping declaration. When one encounters it, one feels overwhelmed. What does it mean? On the surface, the statement seems overly optimistic and grandiose. One cannot help but think that if Beauty was all it took to save the world, then the world, in its entirety, would already be saved. As such, it is best to approach Beauty from the perspective of one’s own individual life. Consider Beauty from the perspective of your microcosm, rather than from the perspective of the macrocosm. The idea of Beauty saving the macrocosm is overwhelming indeed, but the notion of Beauty saving the microcosm of your own individual life is far more approachable and tenable.
I have started to think of Beauty as a meeting point between two aspects of the Divine. Beauty marks a connection between the Divine Within and Divine Without. In this sense, recognizing and appreciating Beauty is an active rather than passive process. Perceiving Beauty in the world is more than mere passive observation. Perceiving Beauty requires engagement and activity. When we encounter Beauty, we do not merely absorb and consume, we also project and produce. As such, perceiving and understanding Beauty is a creative act of the imagination, one inspired by love.
So how does one go about saving the world through Beauty? One way might be to begin taking note of Beauty. I have never been good at maintaining journals or diaries, but I recently began what I would call, for lack of a better term, a Beauty Notebook in which I record my perceptions of Beauty in the world. My perceptions of Beauty mainly encompass landscapes, nature, architecture, art, poetry, people, Scripture, music, and the night sky. At the end of the day, I take some time to reflect upon the beauty I experienced. For example, if I perceived Beauty in a landscape earlier in the day, I briefly describe the landscape in my notebook. Once I have described the landscape as best as I can, I ask myself what was beautiful about it and explore what moved me about the experience – what caused me to engage with it in an imaginative way.
My notes thus far have revealed that perceiving Beauty is an experience, more specifically, an active, creative experience. Initially, Beauty transfixes me with wonder and awe. It impacts me, floods over me, and saturates me. It captivates me, in the true sense of the word. For a time, I am literally its captive, but after a few moments, it loosens its grip, beckons me forth, and invites me to seize and captivate it. As Beauty reveals its power to move me, it demands I reveal my power to move it. Perceiving something beautiful also entails Beauty perceiving something beautiful within me. Whenever I perceive Beauty, I catch a glimpse of the Divine, and I feel as if the Divine yearns to find Beauty within me. This moment harmonizes Beauty with Truth and Goodness, and draws attention to the unity that is always there and always must be there. At that moment, the world becomes with rich with meaning and purpose.
Once I have experienced Beauty, I feel compelled to share the experience with others. This sharing of Beauty strikes me as an act of evangelization. I want to convey the hows and whats and whys of the beauty that moved me in the hope that others might be moved, that others might perceive the meaning and purpose I have glimpsed. Beauty draws me out of myself, inspires me to transform the world by offering my experiences to others.
My notes on Beauty have also revealed that Beauty, though uplifting, is not a feel-good panacea. Beauty offers a solution to alienation and disengagement, but this solution is not based on pleasure-seeking distraction and amusement. Though Beauty offers contentment and delight, it can only do so if it is unified with Truth and Goodness. Being unified with Truth and Goodness necessitates an acceptance and understanding of Reality. Accepting and understanding Reality involves accepting and understanding our mortality in this world – and the suffering mortality ultimately contains.
Beauty does not sugarcoat. Beauty offers a glimpse at perfection, verifies the existence of perfection, and inspires us toward perfection, but Beauty also reveals that we cannot be perfect in this world, that pain and suffering prevent perfection in this world. Beauty offers a glimpse of Heaven, but warns against misguided notions of establishing Heaven on Earth. Beauty also reveals that denial is no solution to pain and suffering. I once read somewhere that Beauty is not confined solely to the Resurrection, but also includes the Crucifixion. This sheds light on the enigmatic nature of Beauty, but it also helps draw me closer to understanding how Beauty can indeed save the world.
I have been thinking a great deal about Dostoevsky's The Idiot, more specifically, Prince Myskin's uplifting but ultimately enigmatic claim that "beauty can save the world." This quote popped into my mind after I began thinking about how utterly necessary Beauty - as one of the transcendentals, with a capital 'B' - is for us to appreciate, comprehend, and aspire toward the Divine in this mortal world.
In another of his novels, Demons (also translated as Devils or The Possessed), Dostoevsky has a character proclaim that beauty is the one thing humans could not live without. Of course, Dostoevsky would include God under the banner of Beauty, which implies that Beauty is an impossibility without God. This draws forth an intriguing connection - the connection between the Divine and Beauty. It also suggests that the recognition and celebration of Beauty in this world can, to some extent, help to save it.
Now, I do not believe this can applied to the world in general (at least not yet), but I do believe that we can save the world through Beauty at the individual level - that we can redeem the world from evil in our own individual lives through Beauty. I plan to explore this idea in more detail in future posts. In the meantime, I have included an excerpt from Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture in which he addresses the enigma and latent possibilities in Dostoevsky's conviction that 'beauty can save the world."
One day Dostoevsky threw out the enigmatic remark: “Beauty will save the world”. What sort of a statement is that? For a long time I considered it mere words. How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, uplifted, yes – but whom has it saved?
There is, however, a certain peculiarity in the essence of beauty, a peculiarity in the status of art: namely, the convincingness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable and it forces even an opposing heart to surrender. It is possible to compose an outwardly smooth and elegant political speech, a headstrong article, a social program, or a philosophical system on the basis of both a mistake and a lie. What is hidden, what distorted, will not immediately become obvious.
Then a contradictory speech, article, program, a differently constructed philosophy rallies in opposition – and all just as elegant and smooth, and once again it works. Which is why such things are both trusted and mistrusted.
In vain to reiterate what does not reach the heart.
But a work of art bears within itself its own verification: conceptions which are devised or stretched do not stand being portrayed in images, they all come crashing down, appear sickly and pale, convince no one. But those works of art which have scooped up the truth and presented it to us as a living force – they take hold of us, compel us, and nobody ever, not even in ages to come, will appear to refute them.
So perhaps that ancient trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is not simply an empty, faded formula as we thought in the days of our self-confident, materialistic youth? If the tops of these three trees converge, as the scholars maintained, but the too blatant, too direct stems of Truth and Goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through – then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of Beauty will push through and soar TO THAT VERY SAME PLACE, and in so doing will fulfil the work of all three?
In that case Dostoevsky’s remark, “Beauty will save the world”, was not a careless phrase but a prophecy? After all HE was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination.
And in that case art, literature might really be able to help the world today?
When I was a high school student, I found myself constantly questioning the usefulness of high school. I had looked forward to secondary school while I was still in primary school, but my enthusiasm for high school and all it encompassed quickly faded in grade nine and disappeared altogether by the time I began grade ten. My experience of secondary school education can be summed up in one simple sentence – it was a monumental waste of time. Oddly enough, the decade I later spent working as a high school teacher only confirmed my earlier and rather bleak observation. Despite some benefits, the four years students spend in high school is generally, and quite deliberately, a waste of time.
Now, before I venture any further into this topic, allow me to stress that the opinions I shall express here are not based on pedagogical or psychological research of any kind. Nor are they supported or inspired by any education or learning theory. In addition, my convictions do not take sociological theories or frameworks into mind. I must add that I do not hold most theories and research in high regard. My assertion that high school is a tremendous waste of time is based almost exclusively on my experiences as a student and as a teacher and an intuitive sense that secondary education is a broken paradigm, one in need of a long overdue transformation, but that is currently being utilized for the overall purpose of time-wasting during an individual's formative years.
My first problem with secondary education is its curriculum. Though it may have served a useful societal function in the past, secondary school is little more than an unnecessary extension of primary school, and as such delivers limited returns on investment. With the exception of a few specialized science subjects and more advanced concepts in mathematics, high school students continue learning the same sorts of things they spend eight years of their lives learning in primary school. It’s no wonder most students check out altogether sometime in grade ten.
Much of what is taught in high schools could easily be shifted down to the primary school level, especially in years seven and eight, and yes, this includes more advanced skills such as algebra and calculus. We spend too much time babying kids in primary school, and this babying continues in high school where students are often fed challenging concepts and subjects too late. Though I am sure most would disagree, I believe primary school students are capable of learning a great deal more than what the primary curriculum currently offers.
Nearly all high school curricula also lean heavily toward indoctrination. Rather than teaching students solid, tangible skills, most high school subjects concentrate on discovering how students “feel” about things. Hence, a high school English class reading Romeo and Juliet will spend more time discussing how students feel about patriarchal oppression or the lack of women’s rights or diversity in Romeo and Juliet’s Verona than it will analyzing Shakespeare’s ingenious use of language.
Whether it is based in humanism or pragmatism or post-colonial anti-racism-pro-diversity-it’s a small-world-after-all–ism, secondary education is far more focused on getting students to think and feel “correctly” about things than it is about getting students to think. Though not many observers or critics make the explicit connection, the safe-space/snowflake culture dominating most university campuses in the West today bleeds into contemporary secondary school curriculums.
Another problem with high school curricula is high and low-achieving students – high achieving students often stagnant and become bored, while low achieving students become apathetic. Some high schools attempt to address this issue by including AP and other advanced courses for the higher achievers and technical and vocational training for the non-academically inclined students. I believe this is a good strategy overall, but then again the inclusion of AP courses and vocational training high school undermines the validity of high school to a certain extent. For example, what if high-achieving students were offered bona fide university courses instead of Advanced Placement courses? Conversely, what it non-academically inclined students were placed in long-term apprenticeship programs instead of being mandated to attend high school to read Audre Lorde poems?
One way to achieve this would be to extend primary school to include grade nine and scrap grades ten, eleven, and twelve altogether. If this were done, all students would stay in school until grade nine, or until they were roughly fourteen years old. After that, academically-inclined and gifted students would have the opportunity to enroll in university while those with more practical interests could pursue technical, vocational, or on the job training to learn skills and begin careers.
This kind of system would allow students to finish a BA or have useful job skills by the time they were seventeen/eighteen. This would instill a sense of responsibility in students and present them with meaningful challenges at a time in life when most hunger for meaningful challenges. It could also eliminate much of the apathy, indifference, and passivity high school education tends to breed by shortening or eliminating the perpetual state of adolescence, which extends well into adulthood for most people today. It would also allow students to get an earlier jump on life, by getting married at a younger age, entering work at a younger age, and having children at a younger . . . well, we certainly cannot have any of that can we?
Of course, the main problem with the kind of criticism I am indulging in here is the assumption from which one starts. My notion that high school is tremendous waste of time does not imply that I believe the rest of our education system is admirable or wonderful; nor am I suggesting that eliminating or reorganizing secondary education alone will lead to anything net-positive in the West. The West is corrupt to the core, and Western education plays a massive role in this terminal corruption. Reforming education would require a complete dismantling of the system, not just the elimination or restructuring of one of its components.
Regardless, in my opinion the chief purpose of secondary education in our contemporary system appears to be time-wasting and extending adolescence into perpetuity, and there is no evidence that this approach to secondary education will change in the future, especially when our contemporary obsession with "lifelong learning" is added into the mix.
Many people advised me to build, launch, and maintain a personal brand after I completed and self-published my novel back in 2012. Though I had some inkling of what the term personal branding meant, I did not know what to make of the whole concept. Residing firmly in the realm of the old-fashioned, my original marketing plan was to emphasize my book rather than myself. After all, the book was the product I wished to sell, not myself.
Yet when I explained this approach to others, especially those who were hip to all the latest marketing trends, my explanations were often met with rolling eyes and deep sighs. The product, I was informed, is of secondary importance. What counts today is the producer. The creator is more important than the creation; therefore, marketing should be skewed toward building and maintaining a “package” that defines and gives an impression of the creator. “What you have to do above all else,” one individual told me, “is create a ‘Francis Berger feeling and experience.’ When people hear your name, they will associate your name with certain emotions and thoughts. This in turn will carry over into your products, which consumers will buy solely based on your personal brand rather than for any merit of the products themselves.”
Though I understood how personal branding could and does work, I more or less rejected the endeavor. I just could not get into the whole idea of manufacturing a ‘Francis Berger feeling and experience’, nor did I have any solid notion of what the Francis Berger feeling and experience could be. In my mind, personal branding was just a fancy (and misleading) substitute for good, old-fashioned reputation, with one distinct difference: Reputations are also built upon what others think and feel about us, but these opinions are formed directly as a result of our actions, our character, and our integrity. Reputations may not always be accurate, but they tend to originate from a place of authenticity, and they allow for interpretation. Personal branding, on the other hand, is a far more synthetic process. We are essentially telling the world what we want it to feel and think about us in lieu of our actions, character, and integrity. Personal branding seeks to persuade and manipulate through presentation, packaging, and positioning. A personal brand is a show onto itself, and as such is often less authentic than reputation.
Though I understand it may lead to success in the marketplace, personal branding, as a concept, does not appeal to me, and I have avoided presenting myself as a brand on this blog and elsewhere (at least I hope I have). Nevertheless, personal branding is extremely popular. Unfortunately, it also seems to have become a prerequisite for success in most fields and endeavors, especially since the advent of social media, which is saturated with personal branding of all kinds. Yes, this is what the world has become – a vast marketplace in which selling oneself takes precedence over any service or product one may wish to sell.
Personal branding does not appeal to me because it renders subjects into objects. In many ways, it is a reversal of the trick corporations and organizations play when they, as objects, try to pass themselves off as subjects. Personal branding does the opposite. It takes a subject – a human person – and purposefully transforms this subject into an object. In this regard, personal branding is an objectifying force. It transforms people into things. Relationships with personal brands of people are not the same as relationships with the people themselves. The latter is based on a subject-subject dynamic, while the former becomes a subject-object relationship. Relationships formed from contact with personal brands are impersonal and unfree because personal brands lack an authentic existential center. A personal brand is a commodity – something to be hyped, bought, and sold.
In addition, a personal brand is, in essence, a false self. True spiritual development and learning entails attempts to uncover and become aligned with the Real Self in order to discover one’s purpose, realize one’s destiny, and establish a dynamic relationship with God. Personal branding is a purely materialistic concept and as such acts to draw people further away from their Real Selves. Rather than help us become more attuned to who we really are, constructing personal brands likely only build illusions of who we really ARE NOT. Personal brands are basically persuasive fantasies – they are manufactured, inauthentic representations of who we wish we were or who we feel we have to be to win acceptance in the marketplace of impressions and ideas. It does not take much thought to realize that personal branding has the potential to be spiritual harmful. In light of this, I suggest those who embark on any personal branding quest be particularly wary of the choices they make.
Ultimately, I believe it is probably best to forgo personal branding altogether and merely go into the world as person. As far as I know, Jesus paid no heed to notions of personal branding, so why should you?
At its most basic level, Voltaire's Candide is an open assault against Leibniz's philosophical optimism encapsulated in the phrase "this is the best of all possible worlds." Though Voltaire's satirical rejection of the notion that all is for the best draws attention to some of the dangers inherent in an optimistic philosophy, I cannot help but believe Voltaire's missed the big point Leibniz had made when he declared the world to be "the best of all possible worlds."
If we believe the world to be divinely created by a loving parent (or parents), and if we believe we are souls that, with the help of God, chose to incarnate into the world for the purpose of spiritual development and learning, then Leibniz's "best of all possible worlds" declaration begins to sound less and less outlandish. We chose to come into the world at a specific time as incarnated individuals, under unique circumstances, and with the potential of unique experiences tailored specifically for us and our spiritual development, experiences that include suffering and evil.
Though Voltaire saw no redeeming qualities in the evil and suffering his characters encountered in the novella, evil and suffering can, in fact, have redeeming qualities for us as individuals if we view these negatives through the lens of our spiritual development. Of course, we cannot always consciously know what these redeeming qualities are, nor should become Panglosses and make attempts to find the good behind every cause in this world because there may not actually be any residual good that comes from a specific episode of suffering or evil in this world. The 'good' an episode of evil and suffering contains may reside entirely outside of our world.
Voltaire does not consider these possibilities at all in Candide, which is why his criticism of Leibnizian optimism, though overwhelmingly convincing and entertaining at the surface level, becomes increasingly strained when deeper metaphysical considerations are included in the mix.
Most people define wit as the natural aptitude for employing words and ideas in a quick and inventive manner for humorous effect. Though accurate, this is only a partial definition of wit because it omits the nature of the humor created, which is crucial to understanding the difference between wit and facetiousness, a distinction that has all but disappeared in our contemporary world.
Aristotle considered wit a virtue, but took great pains delineating the boundaries of wit, which he separated from what he termed buffoonery and boorishness. In his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle noted wit arises from a state of relaxation and leisure – which he considered necessary elements of life – and that its chief aim was to provide tasteful amusement. Adhering to his overall philosophy of remaining within the golden mean, Aristotle defined the ideal form of wit as that which avoids vulgar buffoonery (carrying humor to excess and striving at humor at all costs) and boorishness (the inability to create or accept humor). In Aristotle’s mind, true wit was a matter of good-breeding, self-control, and taste.
My notion of wit aligns with Aristotle’s idea for the most part. For me, true wit is humor that brings joy. It is light and sweet; it reveals, exposes, or expands a simple truth, thereby expanding our understanding of the world and ourselves. It is a clever play on words, but more than that, it is a clever play on words that makes us pause with delight and say, “Hey, I never thought of that before” or “I never looked at it that way before.” Also, in the most ideal sense, true wit rests upon solid metaphysical assumptions about Reality and Creation, assumptions that instantly and intuitively mark the boundaries of what Aristotle defined as the limits of taste and tact. In my opinion, the best kind of wit draws its inspiration from love, more specifically Christian love.
Having written the above, I believe Aristotle’s concept of the employing the golden mean to wit – of being tactful and ready-witted – has been rendered practically impossible in our contemporary world, and if it has not been rendered impossible, being tactful and ready witted today means something altogether different from what Aristotle intended. Most of this stems from the contemporary West’s flawed, dying, or non-existent metaphysical assumptions, though much could also be attributed to what is current notions of being “well-bred”, to use Aristotle’s phrase. Encountering true wit – wit that exudes intelligence, shrewdness, insight, and understanding, wit that brings delight and joy, wit based in love and faith –is increasingly rare today. What we tend to encounter instead are the extremes Aristotle mentions – buffoonery and boorishness. Today, the former is passed as off as wit, while the latter functions to exclude true wit from the public sphere altogether.
Contemporary vulgar buffoonery resides primarily in facetiousness, which is erroneously equated with wittiness. In my mind the key difference between wittiness and facetiousness is motivation. One displays wit when one treats a serious issue in a deliberately appropriate way through humor or clever remark. Facetiousness, on the other hand, treats serious issues in a deliberately inappropriate way through humor and clever remarks. In other words, a witty person can be genuinely funny or insightful about a serious topic while a facetious person can only be inappropriately funny and, usually, rather witless about a serious topic.
In my opinion, the chief cause of this may be rooted in metaphysics. Facetiousness has effectively replaced wit in the West because the West has turned its back on meaning, logic, sense, reason, and Reality and has instead embraced illogic, nonsense, un-reason, and Absurdity (or Virtuality). Such conditions lead to relativism and meaninglessness, both of which challenge the seriousness of any issue. Ultimately, this state of mind demands serious issues be treated inappropriately. Facetiousness is the hallmark of those for whom life is nothing more than a massive cosmic joke. Very little can be taken seriously when this perspective is adopted, and everything must, by default, be approached with flippancy and frivolity. Wit is reduced to jeers and sneers rarely rising above hostile sarcasm, vitriolic irony, or open contempt at the ridiculousness of veritably serious issues. In the end, this is all supported by a solid foundation of scorn and derision, perhaps even hatred.
Contemporary boorishness tends to appreciate and encourage vulgar buffoonery, but it mostly challenges and restricts real wit, which is regarded as offensive and in bad taste. The simple truths real wit reveals and expands are anathema to the boorish. Unlike buffoons, boors are incapable of making jokes, and even more incapable of taking them. Contemporary boors rarely experience relaxation or leisure. They are forever tense and wound-up. In keeping with the inversion inherent in the West, contemporary boors support attacks against real serious issues, but will not tolerate any jests against their own inverted “serious” issues. Within this framework, meaning, logic, and reason are open targets, while absurdity, nonsense, and stupidity are heavily protected.
To sum up, much of what accounts for wit today is really nothing more than facetiousness. The best kind of wit displays intelligence, shrewdness, insight and understanding all emanating from an honest recognition of Reality. True wit provides joy and delight, but more than that it reveals and expands truth in a playful and amusing way and helps increase our understanding of the world and ourselves. Conversely, facetiousness strives to ridicule and mock truth. Facetiousness also works to support lies. Facetious people refuse to treat serious issues appropriately because they cannot accept the truths serious issues contain. At its core, facetiousness is a thin veil for nihilism – the outright rejection of all moral and religious principles and the belief that life is essentially meaningless.
Aristotle’s advice to be tactful and maintain the golden mean in matters of wit are essentially meaningless within the context of our contemporary milieu because most attempts to do so would immediately be regarded as offensive or in bad taste. In light of this, Aristotle’s notions about the golden mean must be discarded and replaced instead wit based on proper metaphysical assumptions. Though this will be considered untactful and ill-bred by most contemporary people, to do otherwise would be to render oneself a buffoon or a boor.
It goes without saying that true wit will be mocked, ridiculed, and misunderstood if employed in the wrong circles. Nevertheless, I believe true wit is needed in life. It serves a valuable purpose. Thus, facetiousness should be avoided and the sharing of true wit must be restricted to certain individuals and groups of people, more specifically, those whose metaphysical assumptions align with Reality. To do otherwise is pointless today – not only would it dispel any sense of leisure and amusement, but the act would be akin to casting pearls before swine.
Though I have resisted the temptation for years, I am finally caving in to the old internet cliché about cat videos and photos by posting a photo of the family cat. My son had been pestering me about getting a pet over the past two or three years. At first he wanted a dog, but I was adamantly against the idea knowing the amount of attention and care a dog requires. When canines were off the table, my boy began badgering me about getting a feline.
We live in a small village in the countryside and mice are everywhere. Last summer I noticed dozens of holes in my yard, and I also caught occasional glimpses of mice scurrying about near and inside the unused barn, so when my wife announced her coworker had kittens to give away, I finally gave into my son's pleas for a pet - with the condition that the cat we brought home had to catch mice - otherwise . . .
My boy picked the little black kitten out the litter himself and we brought it home in April. Once the kitten was in the house, I told my kid to find a name for it. I expected him to rattle off something like Fluffy or Whiskers, but after a few minutes of contemplation my boy named the kitten Rebecca. Yes, Rebecca. He quickly added that we could refer to the kitten by the name's abbreviated form, Becky. This made me laugh because the words "be" (pronounced "beh") and ki (pronounced "key") mean "in" and "out" respectively in Hungarian. Thus, my son's choice of the name Becky reminded me of an old joke from childhood - the one about a poor, confused dog named "Come here - Go away."
In any case, Becky quickly made herself at home and to my absolute delight, has proven herself to be an exceptional hunter. She began hunting mice about a month ago and has managed to bag five already. Not bad for a seven-month-old cat. The photo above shows her proudly posing with her fifth mouse (and yes I do feel a little sorry for the poor mouse, but pests are pests). I imagine Becky's already impressive hunting skills will only improve with time, which increases the chances of having a mousehole free yard next summer. When all is said and done, I am happy I capitulated to my son's demands for a pet, not just because Becky has proven herself useful around the house, but also because she is somewhat of a character and adds considerable fun and happiness to our days.
There . . . obligatory cat post complete.
I had planned to write a lengthy post criticizing Pope Francis this morning. My intent was to demonstrate how this No Hope Pope is completely aligned with the aims and goals of the Globalist Agenda (anti-nationalism and equating nationalists and nativists with Hitler, unequivocal support for the EU and its values, support of open door mass migration policies, climate change alarmism, lauding cute, little Greta Thornberg and Earth worship, etc.), but I have decided against writing the post, based partly on this recent post at Bruce Charlton's Notions.
Dr. Charlton concludes his excellent post by questioning the usefulness of arguing against the enemy's abstractions:
"And then suddenly death looms, and we realise that have wasted our lives discussing The Enemy's agenda...
Just exactly as They wanted us to..."
This is an important insight, one I more or less stumbled upon myself a few months back when I declared I would no longer waste my time writing what I termed "outage du jour" rants. Since then, I have made a concerted effort to avoid writing topical rants; nevertheless, I believe I have written some posts over the past few months that possess all the qualities that define a classic "outrage du jour" post. Even worse, the temptation to consistently write topical rants still lingers despite my conscious decision to avoid writing them (as was the case this morning with my planned post about Pope Francis). This constant temptation reveals something crucial about the nature of topical abstractions. All of this made me pause and reflect about topical abstractions and the purpose they serve.
To begin with, I believe Dr. Charlton's observation about demons trapping people in discussing topical abstractions is accurate and important. Topical stories promulgated by the media and through other sources are engineered to stir up a frenzy and provoke a reaction. These abstractions are purposively manipulative and serve many goals, but the overarching objective is to get people to engage with the topic at some level, in a process Charlton describes as "analysing, redefining, reframing . . ." In other words, once the topical abstraction triggers engagement, the trap springs and you become ensnared. It does not matter if you support, oppose, or are unbiased toward the claims within the abstraction. The main thing is that you engage. From that moment on, you have taken your eye from the ball and end up expending your precious energy discussing the Enemy's Agenda rather than focusing on more important and meaningful matters.
Another way of gauging the manipulative essence of these topical abstraction traps is the relative ease with which one slips into arguing for or against, redefining, reformulating, and reframing. One of the main reasons I wrote "outage du jour" posts in the past on this blog was the little effort it took to write them. It did not take a great deal of imagination, or thinking to object to or rail against whatever evil nonsense the global corporate media had dumped upon the world on any given day. My engagements with topical abstractions came so easily and swiftly, they seemed to write themselves.
This, in my opinion, reveals something very significant about the manipulative aspects of topical abstractions. Whenever I wrote outage posts, I could not help but feel that I had surrendered a part of myself, given up a small slice of my freedom, and conceded a portion of my thinking all in exchange for a few posts that were not difficult to write. I believe the same holds true for merely reading topical abstractions on a consistent basis - you unwittingly become a part of the Enemy's orchestra and demonic forces begin to play you like a musical instrument.
Of course, we cannot be oblivious to Evil nor can we ignore its abuses or be blind to its strategies, but if we do nothing but engage with the topical abstractions Evil launches into the world for the purpose of ensnaring and trapping our minds, we essentially do nothing more than play into its hands.
Which is why my planned post on Nope Francis today has become a non-post. This planned post of mine would have accomplished little more than give undeserved attention to the Global Agenda itself. I would have made myself a willing partner in the Global Agenda, and a willing partner is the last thing I wish to be (or wish you to be). I also doubt my post would have provided anything positive or meaningful for those who seek Salvation or deeper spiritual understanding.
Besides, you don't need me to convince you that No Hope Francis is completely aligned with the Globalist Agenda - it's all right there in the open, in plain sight for those who have eyes to see.
But not many people have eyes that see these days, or even desire to have eyes that see, which is a rather bleak and depressing problem in of itself. Regardless, it is highly unlikely that constant rants against evil do much good for those who do seek Reality - this foremost includes those who write or spew such rants on a consistent basis.
Christianity is about relationships between subjects. You are a subject; God is a subject. The relationship between you and God is a relationship between two subjects. In other words, it is a personal relationship. Christianity is focused on Beings, not Things. Christianity seeks to build relationships between Beings, not between Beings and Things, and certainly not between Things and Things.
Corporations and institutions are objects uninterested in subjects. Corporations and institutions pretend to be interested in subjects by declaring themselves to be subjects, but in reality they are merely objects masquerading as subjects.
Corporations and institutions thrive only in the object world. They are Things and are only interested in Things. They refuse to acknowledge subjects and seek to change subjects into objects, that is Beings into Things. Corporations and institutions seek to objectify. Corporations and institutions strive to weaken the personal and replace it with the impersonal.
The end goal of all corporations and institutions is to destroy relationships between Beings and replace them with ones between Things. Because relationships between Things lack all semblance of the personal, they are relationships in name only, but these are the only kinds corporations and institutions wish to see or are willing to nurture.
Mihály Zichy (1827 - 1906) was a Hungarian painter and graphic artist who was a representative of the Hungarian Romantic movement. His Triumph of the Genius of Destruction was banned from the Paris Exhibition due to its controversial subject matter and antimilitarist message.
Zichy was a strange character - a perpetual vagabond, he lived in Hungary, France, Austria, Georgia, and Russia and a few other countries during his lifetime. He strikes me as a quintessential nineteenth-century Romantic with all the positive and negative connotations of nineteenth-century Romanticism intact. For example, he strikes me as having been a libertine, which is reflected in a series of erotic (more like pornographic) illustrations he completed some time in the 1880s, but also as someone obsessed by religious themes. Zichy's paintings never attained "greatness" status, but his illustrations continue to live on, most notably in Imre Madach's epic "The Tragedy of Man." To be honest, I don't know what to make of Zichy, either as an artist or as a person.
Take his Triumph of the Genius of Destruction for example. On the one hand, I am drawn to his critical depiction of the bloodletting that stained the nineteenth century. On the other hand, I am wary of his pacifist message, especially from my twenty-first century perspective. The painting contains many precise historical details and symbols marking the various conflicts of the 1800s. The far left side of the painting features the backlit, silhouetted figure of Christ who stands in a portal, arms outstretched in a pleading gesture. No figure within the painting seems aware of His presence, especially the two demons who feature prominently in the center of the composition.
I would not say I like Zichy's painting, but I do find it interesting. It attracts me and repulses me at the same time. Perhaps this is because I sense a touch of the demonic within the painting. I am not referring to the two demon figures when I say this, but rather to the colors Zichy chose and the images he decided to depict. Zichy himself appears to have been touched by the demonic in some sense, and this bleeds through in this particular painting. I can only imagine what Zichy would have painted if he had lived long enough to witness the mass carnage of the twentieth century.
Many people are still under the illusion that Western democracies are of the people by the people for the people. The reality is closer to this – Western democracies are of the corporations by the corporations for the corporations. A simple examination of what Western governments actually do and the interests they actually serve makes this readily apparent. Hence, Western democracy is essentially corporatocracy – that is, corporations, not people, dominate, control, and govern society.
Of course, this is hardly a new or profound insight, but many fail to grasp the fundamental goal of a world dominated by corporations. Many believe corporations exist purely to maximize profit and value for their shareholders, which helps explain most of the actions corporations take – expanding market share, offshoring labor, minimizing expenses, influencing regulations, etc., but these activities are secondary to a corporation’s main objective, which is to incorporate. What corporations seek to do above all else is to absorb, assimilate, and integrate everything within society into an indistinguishable whole under the guise of diversity, competition, and particularization. This indistinguishable whole can be called The System, and the primary goal of The System is to create a totalitarian one-world government. Corporations expand and empower The System by acting as unifying and assimilating forces. Hence, corporations are of The System, by the System, for the System.
Corporations are legal entities that are separate and distinct from their owners. Corporations enjoy the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges individuals supposedly do in Western societies – they can enter into contracts, lend and borrow money, take legal action and have legal action taken against them, own assets, assume liabilities, and file taxes. Corporations are literally considered physical manifestations – that is, as tangible and visible entities representing an idea or quality.
As physical manifestations, corporations are bodies (from the Latin, corpus). They are incarnated beings (from the Latin, carne meaning flesh). But what exactly has been given a body? At the metaphysical level, they can easily be confused with human beings, save for a few distinct differences. Human beings are incarnations of the Divine; we are the spirit made flesh. Corporations are incarnations of the Mundane; they are the temporal made flesh.
This brings forth another distinct difference – human beings have a “body” presence in the world – we possess actual flesh. A corporation’s “body” presence is purely legalistic; it possesses no real flesh, no actual body. Perhaps one way to think about corporations is this – they are the embodiment of the Luceferic within the Ahrimanic. The fuel driving corporate ambitions (and the ambitions of The System corporations serve) is white hot, frenzied, and passionate in nature, but the means of achieving these ambitions are cold, crushing, and technocratic.
Corporations are also lopsided mockeries of Divine Creation. Everything within Divine Creation possesses a spiritual element, but corporations lack this attribute. They are purely material beings. Spiritless. Soul-less. The soullessness of corporations helps explain why they are the System’s weapon of choice in its war against Divine Creation. Entities possessing souls (corporate owners and employees) can hide behind the façade of a soulless entity and manipulate the soulless entity into completing the most soulless of tasks and goals. This helps diminish notions of wrongdoing and also aids in the alleviation of personal responsibility.
Corporations are purely “abstract” material entities driven by purely material motivations. They exist in the physical and exist to serve the physical. They lack a metaphysical dimension, and as such are unconcerned with metaphysical realities or assumptions. Corporations do not care about eternal life in the spiritual sense – they seek eternal life in this world, and they are more than willing to sacrifice or assimilate themselves into The System in order to make that happen. The soullessness of corporations make them the perfect vehicle for the implementation of evil, which is what most corporations today are – this despite the good they might be doing in the world, actual or perceived.
Note added: Perhaps it is wrong to claim corporations lack metaphysical qualities or dimensions because The System corporations serve is fundamentally focused on the metaphysical - opposing and subverting Goodness, Beauty, and Truth. The System is interested in the Damnation Game and uses corporations to achieve its aims. However, I am uncertain how 'aware' individual corporations are of the System's explicit aim. To some extent, I assume they must be, but I doubt this in interpreted in an explicitly metaphysical sense, but rather somewhat obscured behind the veil of "doing business." Then again, it is conceivable that the directors of any given corporation are, in fact, completely 'in' on the game as it were.
As is probably the case with everyone, I occasionally receive emails from unknown scammers who try to convince me that there is a veritable windfall to be had, usually in the form of some unclaimed bank deposit account. All I need to do is initiate a process to "free" up the money so that I may rightfully claim it as my own. Normally, I flag these emails and then just delete them, but the one I received in my junk folder today was so elaborate and over-the-top, I simply had to share it here (cömplete with all errors intact). It truly is a wonderful piece of (deceptive) fiction - a veritable masterpiece within the scope of its genre.
I am sorry to contact you unannounced through this medium. I am Mr. Ala'a Eraiqat , C.E.O. at Commercial Bank of Abu Dhabi here in UAE. I write you this proposal in good faith hoping that I will rely on you. In january 16th 2012, one Mr frank Willaims who has your country in his file as his place of origin, made a fixed deposit for 36 calendar months, valued at $18,400,000.00 with my bank. I was his account officer before I rose to the position of the Auditor General. The maturity date for this deposit contract was 16th of january 2015.
Sadly, while on a business trip in 2014, Mr frank Williams
was among the death victims of A 6.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Zhaotong in China’s western Yunnan province on August 3, The third of four quakes to rock that province at that year, it killed more than 600 people and displaced about 230,000. Nearly 155,000 homes and 268 schools, plus roads and other infrastructure, were damaged/destroyed.
Since the last quarter of January 2015 until today, the management of my bank have been finding a means to reach him so as to ascertain if he will want to roll over the Deposit or have the contract sum withdrawn. Since 16 January 2017 that I learnt of his death I have tried to think up a procedure to preserve this fund and use the proceed for charity .
Some directors in my Bank have been trying to find out from me the information about this account and the owner, but I have kept it closed because I know that if they become aware that Mr frank Williams now late they will corner the funds for themselves/their selfish use. Therefore, I am seeking your cooperation to present you as the one to benefit from his fund at his death since you are from the-same country with the Late Frank Williams so that my bank head quarters will release the funds to you as the rightful beneficiary/next of Kin.
I have done enough inside bank arrangement and will only have to put in your details into the information network in the bank computers and reflect your data as his next of kin.
I am not a greedy person, so I am suggesting we share the fund equal,50%/50% to both parties after the bank release the fund to you, My share will assist me to start a charity organization to help the poor and also own a company of my own which has been my dream.
Let me know your mind on this proposal and please do treat this information as top secret for security reason. At the receipt of your reply of interest, I shall then give you every details concerning the transaction.
Anticipating your response.
Somehow being from the same country as "frank Willaims" entitles me to half of the nearly twenty million in cold hard cash.
Of course, freeing up the funds always incurs some kind of fee - usually a few thousand dollars. In any case, I have to tip my hat to this scammer - he really has quite the imagination. I especially like the death by earthquake in China detail.
I trust readers of this blog are intelligent and shrewd enough to discern these types of emails for the obvious scams they are, yet some people out there still must fall for this sort of thing. If they didn't, scammers like "Ala'a Eraiqat would not waste their time writing such elaborate and exquisite works of fiction to achieve their petty, evil goals.
If Mr. Ala'a Eraiqat had any integrity or morality at all, he would focus his energy on writing trashy detective pulp fiction instead of squandering his considerable talents on these kinds of scams.
The injury I suffered while running last Thursday, which was initially diagnosed as a pinched nerve or a herniated disc, has been identified as sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Having suffered a few back problems earlier in my life, I was skeptical of the original diagnosis of the injury the second I heard it. I suspected something else was at play, but I had no idea what this something could be. As bad as pain from a herniated disc or pinched nerve can be, it is nothing compared to the sheer agony of an injured sacroiliac joint, let me tell you. In all honesty, I did not even know this part of the body can be injured, let alone how awfully painful it is when it is injured. Well, here's to new experiences.
Simply put, sacroiliac joint pain is no fun. I have spent a little over a week recovering, but my convalescence will be a long one. Fortunately, I can walk and stand without too much discomfort, but I have not been able to sit for longer than a minute or two at a time since last Thursday. Suffice it to say, my inability to sit has dampened my enthusiasm for working on the computer (I am standing before my laptop as I write these words). The pain also interferes with my sleep patterns, which has not done wonders for my creativity or thinking. Nevertheless, I am not wallowing in self-pity and I certainly do not desire anyone else's pity. I am in high spirits and am actively working toward escaping from the grips of this unexpected injury. It's only a matter of time.
One thing I have thought about a great deal is pain. Pain ground you, imprisons you, and forces its perspective upon you. If nothing else, it provides uninvited moments of introspection and contemplation. Needless to say, I have spent a large part of the last week looking inward because I do not believe things simply happen "by chance." I have been poking away at the slight misfortune that has befallen me in an effort to discover its essence and meaning. It has not been easy, but looking inside rarely is.
One obvious realization I have had is that my running days are over. Runs With Rabbits is hanging up his running shoes and exchanging them for a good pair of walking shoes. He will also change his name to Walks With Weasels, or something to that effect.
In the meantime, all I want for Christmas is to be able to sit at a desk again while I write (and sit down at a table and eat a meal like a human being, not standing up, like a horse)! Here's hoping the coming days will bring some progress in that department. And if you happen to be experiencing any mild symptoms associated with sacroiliac joint dysfunction, do yourself a favor and get them checked out as soon as possible to avoid suffering through the intense pain I felt last week and the annoying discomfort I have been experiencing since.
Blog and Comments
Blog posts tend to be spontaneous, unpolished, first draft entries ranging from the insightful and periodically profound to the poorly-argued and occasionally disparaging.
Comments are moderated. Anonymous comments are never published (please use your name or a pseudonym). Emails welcome:
f er en c ber g er (at) h ot m ail (dot) co m
Blogs/Sites I Read
Bruce Charlton's Notions
Meeting the Masters
From The Narrow Desert
The Postil Magazine
William Arkle Blog
Twisting the Tail of the Cosmos