13 January 2017

This-that (blog-pray, human-god, morals-ethics, life-death, mind-body + other consternations)

Dear diary,

I wonder if any country ever declared war before bombing another country. (I mean, as opposed to just attacking without any official warning.) I wish the citizens, the people, the taxpayers themselves would be allowed to vote on whether or not they want their nation to engage in warfare.

And why are no comedy movies funny? I can’t imagine financiers releasing an action-adventure film that contains neither action nor adventure; so why is it permissible for comedy movies to contain zero humor?

This entry has started out like a pinball game. Its first paragraphs are two thumpers, jets, or pop bumpers. …Am I void of ideas yet? I keep expecting the moment to arrive when I’ll realize that I’ve exhausted all my thoughts: “Now I have nothing more to write here, so I must end this weblog.” I presumed the thing was finished back in July; but then the Democratic primary got me all bothered, so I took to prattling here in hopes of replacing one addiction with another. I assumed that text would be a less awful habit than…

Nothing is worse, though. So why do I keep whipping this dead blog? Because I’m weak, plain and simple. Plus I’m lazy. Writing is like praying (didn’t Kafka already make this observation? – I’m doomed to a life of reinventing various wheels). To pray. To write. In either case, one addresses a nonexistent audience. …No, “nonexistent” is too harsh. Instead I’ll say: one addresses an imagined audience. Still, what a desperate move.

As men’s prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect.
[—Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Self-Reliance”]

As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
[—William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell]

Yet note how, just like an avid blogger, a praying person will never kick the habit, no matter how their deity treats their supplications. There’s a mountain of smoldering envelopes in Heaven, representing all of our unread prayers. But that’s nothing compared to Heaven’s remainder bin for scripture.

Quod omne animal post coitum est triste. Now I feel ashamed for disparaging the avocation of prayer – for there’s nothing wrong with directing your thoughts to Freud.

A passage from near the end of the book Jesus and Yahweh enticed me to refer to God by that eff word above – its author Harold Bloom confesses:

…I wake up these days, sometime between midnight and two a.m., because of nightmares in which Yahweh sardonically appears as various beings, ranging from a Havana-smoking Edwardian-attired Dr. Sigmund Freud to the Book of Daniel’s silently reproachful Ancient of Days.

There’s something about my psychological makeup: I don’t worry about God at all. I rue God, I curse God, I wrestle God; but I don’t worry about God. I only worry about my neighbors: they’re the ones with the noisy vehicle.

I’m serious: Why would you start your truck so early in the morning and sit there pumping the accelerator while in neutral? Is this what you must do to activate its time-travelling functionality? That’s the only answer I’ll accept.

But I remind myself that if all humans are divine, then my neighbors are as well.

In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name…

[—from “Song of Myself” sec. 48, by Walt Whitman]

This, however, is why I favor a slightly more restrictive definition, which says: Not everything but only the best in us is divine. Unless we agree that God and Satan are just tempers of the same entity, and all early-morning engine-revvers constitute the deity’s evil aspect.

I once witnessed a guy throw a fit in a coffee shop. His companion said something about morality, and he shouted: “I don’t care about MORALS, I only care about ETHICS!!” …This frightened me – not because of his violent manner, but because I didn’t know there was that much of a difference between those two words. But, to this day, I always remember to say “ethics” rather than “morals” when I speak of the subject. Although don’t ask me why.

So, next time you throw a public tantrum, make sure that you have a worthy point; because people are listening. (Note that I refrain from calling this “the moral of the story.”)

One tests the true worth of a jalopy by kicking its tires. Right now I’m in the mood to kick the tires of the biblical Ten Commandments. I’d like to list them and slate them, one by one… but I’ll hold back. I don’t feel like copying any more quotes.

Yet would humans really let loose and enjoy a weekend-long binge of misbehavior if they stopped believing that their deity keeps a record of sheep-versus-goats?

I used to say that the government should offer free heroin overdoses, in case any among the droves awaken and want to meet their maker. But now I understand why this type of charity might backfire. For people could apportion the fatal amount into less-substantial doses, so as to enjoy the effects of the drug, instead of taking it responsibly all at once; in consequence of which they’d need to keep revisiting the ration office, to replenish their stock. God forbid you get stuck in a jam without an exit strategy.

I’ve been told that there are no pain receptors in the brain itself; now I wonder: Does the heart have pain receptors? Headache. Heartache. Maybe not all feelings occur in the body (skin, tissue, muscles). But what is there beyond the body? I’ve heard physicians use the terms “somatic pain” and “visceral pain.” Maybe there are even more types of horror that Holy Science hasn’t discovered. Soul pain; spirit pain; astral overseer pain; empathy for one’s roommate…

When the environment is ripe for a species to appear, it appears; as if the species had been waiting in the wings for its physical cue, the opportune moment: only after the climate proves ideal and stable does it enter the spotlight.

But why would any species want to remain onstage forever? You’ll overstay your welcome: don’t build an astro-base on the deus pulley; just do your part in the show, and leave the audience wanting more. When the curtain falls, you can take a bow at the end.

Now, if offered an award for your performance, will you accept it? I’m talking to you, humankind. Will you write a thank-you speech? Imagine gazing out on the audience of your fellow earthly species – no, not audience: ocean. What do you say? Thanks for honoring me; thanks for seeing me as terrifying, despite my lack of horns, claws, or venom-squirting fangs.

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