It was the first night. I was in a car with three three other men. We were greeted by a dark skinned, 6 foot tall behemoth. His beard hung from his face like a heavy scroll. He bent down. He peered into the car with abyss-black eyes. The first thing I noticed were the tight leather gloves cloaking his hands, ripe for a killing. Continue reading
there is a god in my head
cold notions scrape against
the cement of the mind
he sways from slumber
with a dark fist
there is a god in my head
voices crawl through cables
neurons heavy with history
writhe in molten thought
i am the god in my head
emotions scatter in anger
i frighten the fragments
the chaos i sculpt with blind intent
the picture of a weak man
[i refuse to watch]
i brighten timid corners of
my narrow house with the
scalp of a light bulb burning
and the vacant murmur
of callous cutlery
dividing my guilt
This is a discussion between me and a good friend. For more info on her check out her blog here
I’ve gone through life long enough now to come to the conclusion I’m an Atheist. Many people hate the ring that word has too it, and instead choose terms like Agnostic or Free Thinker. The reason being is many people misinterpret Atheism. People think you might somehow be sacrificing your intellect when choosing to say you don’t know.
I like to think being an Atheist means you live in the land of not knowing, rather than being at “war with the gods”.
I’ll delve into a few of the myths, or false impressions people have about Atheists. (The following myths I took from this website: http://www.wayofthemind.org/2006/08/15/16-common-myths-about-atheists/). Although the responses are my own…think of me conducting my own interview. 😉
“Atheists hate Christians and Christianity.”
Atheists don’t buy into the idea of believing in one single God. I tolerate many different beliefs of other people, this doesn’t mean that because I despise the people I despise the religion they hold dear. In fact if you ever met me, religion is most likely the last topic of conversation I’d go into. I don’t feel the need to tell the world what my views on life are. My opinions on God scare those who haven’t looked inside themselves, so I prefer to question and get to know the person rather than the religion.
“Most atheists started out as Christians, and stopped believing because of some bad experience with other Christians.”
Atheism for me isn’t born out of an accident. You may aswell say that Christians bumped into the Bible. After long discussions, questioning, thinking and reading up of ideas I felt I gained more meaning from other places than some parts of the Bible. Yes I used to be a Christian, and everyone has bad experiences, however, I got to my area of non-belief through my own choices and experiences.
“Atheists’ lives are cold and empty, as they can’t feel the joy and love that comes only from God.”
God isn’t a factory for happiness. There is beauty and joy in so many other things. If people do believe in a God, my hope is they do it not for the sake of pleasant feelings, but rather because they feel secure, rooted, and challenged.
“Atheists live their lives in constant fear of death.”
We are all born to die. From the moment we come squealing out of the womb, we are more vulnerable to getting wiped out by some disease. I’m a very mellow and easy going person. I suffer from depression and anxiety, however, I’ve had the balls to manage it. I hold down a decent job, and I’m too busting with great ideas for paranoia to be my prerogative. In fact, coming to terms with their being no god, means you’re prepared to live with the grit under you own hands. It’s an amazing empowering and authentic thing to know you are the muscles in your own cerebral wings.
“Atheists are depressive and nihilistic, since they believe there’s nothing after death, and therefore there’s no point to anything.”
You may think I’ve already shot myself in the foot, since I’ve already mentioned that I’m dealing with depression. Well no I’m just being honest and upfront. If there was no point to anything I wouldn’t feel the need for this interview, or to explain myself like this.
Orthodox Religion is a form of nihility against the Self. The reason being…you spend so much energy in prayer, song and ritual that you forget to look inside yourself, and pay attention to your ideas. Too much focus in one direction means, you’re losing sight of something equally important.
“Atheists want to forbid religious worship.”
When last did you see a group of Atheists shouting anti-Religious slogans and waving weapons in the air? People misunderstand Atheists and believe we are at war with everything. Many are under the assumption that the basis to an atheist’s argument begins and ends with “I Hate God”.
In fact, if I were asked “Why do you believe there is no God?” I would go on to question the person of their exact definition of ‘belief’ and ‘god’. The fact that I care enough to question the ideas, and get to know the person, means I have no issue with how people express themselves. The only time I get agitated with religion, is if it forcefully tries to tell me I’m wrong and I should rather just ‘believe’ and join them.
“Atheists are incapable of feeling awe at simple things, like a beautiful sunset, as they see everything in terms of cold science, instead of miracles.”
Yes many Atheists are scholars, scientists, and higher minded people, however, this means that they are thinkers who like to get to the truth. I surely hope religion isn’t merely there for the sake of miracles. Religion (if you feel it’s the one for you) should be chosen, because you have found meaning, not simply seeing some sleight of hand and buying into it.
Atheists can be skeptics, and we do enjoy a good debate, but this doesn’t consume our personality to the point of making us stiff, cold and austere beings. I question when I feel the time is right, otherwise, I take everything else in stride.
“Atheists make bad parents.”
Bad choices turn parents against their children. Parenting is tough for anyone, however most Atheists I know take a down to earth interest in people. As I said earlier choosing not to stick to a particular religion and be part of ‘the club’, is liberating and those people are often most caring and textured, than the stiffly ironed people bustling off to church on a Sunday.
My father told me a story about an experience he had in Church.
He was in his early twenties. Young, eager, and full of cleanly honed Bible verses. During the church service one of the elders announced they were looking for Youth Leaders in the Church, and those that see themselves fit should head to the front of the Church so that they can be prayed for, and then they would be interviewed at a later stage.
My father went up there, determined to make the world a better place. The prayer happened shortly after, and then the service continued as usual. Once the congregation had sung the last few words of the final song, everyone bows their heads in prayer, and then got up and said their goodbyes to those around them.
As my father was leaving and old man approached him. He was bald, with thin wisps of hair clinging around his freckled head.
The old man to him, “Let me see your hands boy.”
He thrust his two hands towards the chest of the old man.
“Hmmm,” he said as he turned my fathers hands over and inspected them.
“What’s wrong?” my father replied.
“They’re not dirty.”
My father anxiously looked into the creases and lines of his hand, searching for the dirt the old man may have missed.
“Look at my hands.”
The old man raised up his gnarly, wrinkled hands to show him.
“These are dirty hands that have seen life. Yours have not. Before you become a leader go out into the world, and get some real dirt on your hands boy.”
What I find interesting about human nature is the way we break things up. We label, categorize, number, annotate almost unconsciously. To give you an idea of what I mean I will use the simple school playground as an example.
Take any group of kids, and pick them at random (just make sure they’re all the same age, or peers, if you will). Tell those kids to go to school for two months and very soon you will have the divisions you see in any playground. The Prissies, the Sluts, the Jocks, the Geeks, the Academics, the Rappers, the Goths, and the Fat Kid who always steals your lunch. No one tells us to isolate and make these classifications. We simply do it to justify our own self image and to feel ‘rooted’.
If you were to look at our ties with other evolutionary species (i.e. cows, mice, apes), we’re only separated by a few chromosomes. In other words we’re barely out of the jungle, so we feel safest in herds, just like any other mamal. Surviving on your own, means you’ll soon get tired and eventually slaughtered by some creature with bigger claws. So as people, we look for similarities and cling to them. Sometimes we’ll even put race aside simply to have peace of mind.
I guess that’s the more pessimistic view on people. We’re not only drawn to similarities due to desperation, the flipside is connectedness or being. Children on the playground will make friends, form close relationships, because commonality gives us a greater sense of being. Don’t forget that the so-called alpha male, is not always a problem. Humans have a natural desire to compete against each other purely to grow wiser and/or more skilled. Comparing and competing may become exhausting if it’s done on an extreme scale, but healthy competition means our sense of being is elevated.
Think of the alpha male this way… If the alpha male never existed, since the beginning of our evolution, do you think the human race would still exist. If we purely fought for our OWN territory and never considered gathering warriors together; is it even logical to ask if we’d still be around? Allow me return to our playground experiment in the meantime.
Prissies, sluts, jocks, geeks, academics, rappers, goths, fat kids. From the list of cliches you’ll notice that one thing is evident (when it comes to categorizing ourselves), every label is there as a result of it’s OWN group of labels. Factors such as IQ, EQ, clothing, physique, music, and hobbies give birth to the cliches the kids turn into. These labels aren’t chosen, but brought about by their desire to ‘be’.
NOTE: I say ‘be’, because being has as many (or even more) facets as a single personality may have.
The child’s desire/yearning/will to ‘be’:
– observed by a master of their craft
– touched (physically or emotionally)
I spoke about pain in a few of the words above. I once told my father that “Love isn’t blind, it just doesn’t wear the right glasses”. To expand on that I think we sometimes go through life trying on different pairs of glasses until we find ones that are right for us. If the first few pairs aren’t the right fit, we will experience and have to face our pain through those lenses. Maybe our eyes will change after a year or two and we’ll trundle along in search of a more adequate pair. In time we’ll come to find comfortable ones with a better fit. A pair that goes far enough around the ears, and is clear enough to watch your lovers hair skip over her nose. Then, perhaps, it’s time to put down your book and drift off into a dream.
Throw a few heterosexual men together; add a few beers and maybe the odd good looking dame. If you’ve done that the topic of sex is bound to come up one way or the other. It could be you friend bragging about how he ‘nailed’ a certain amount of girls. I’ve had a few friends describe to me their sex lives in the most uncomfortable detail (of course I don’t show this reaction, and pretend that IS how men are supposed to talk.) I’m different from your Joe Soap kind of guy. The reason is I don’t believe that a conversation should include wine, women and motor vehicles. At the same token I can’t say that I’m obsessed with each of the former pieces of conversation. I’m not some religious fanatic who thinks these are all evil either.
I’ll take them one by one, alcohol being my first rant. Alcohol is one of those drugs in life that blurs the logic in life. Some people choose to avoid it in its entirety. From one angle, you could say that there’s nothing wrong with an alcoholic because he choosing to ‘inflict’ himself with bouts of drinking (and ultimately blurring the line between his conscious and subconscious mind). Also many people would drink alcohol aren’t alcoholic, such as myself. This is simply because we are aware of the drugs’ negative and possibly abusive effects. For some it’s harder than others, but we learn – with trial and error – to pull in the reins when necessary.
Now what about cars? Well, mostly it’s just a hobby and a sport (predominately) men seem to share. Call me a geek, but this is another category I fail to file myself into. I’ve watched enough Top Gear (the British TV series featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May), to throw a few models and makes into the general conversation. I start to get shaky and nervous when there is a petrol-head in the room that starts to talk technical terms such as horsepower, torque, handling not to mention throw in a paragraph of numbers to show he knows his shit. If you talk to me about cars for longer than 30 minutes, without asking my opinion or even throwing in a joke for sympathy’s sake you’ve lost my respect.
That’s another thing that fascinates me about men. Way back when…we were cavemen killing animals and trying to prove ourselves as capable and better (i.e. stronger and more bloodthirsty) than the rest of the clan. That little quirk in our chromosomes as kept us humans alive, but also shows its teeth if we are not aware with the way we handle it. When it comes down to racing a car, downing beers, or even earning a large salary I don’t mind competing. However, that’s not the end of the road for men. Along with that caveman chromosome to survive is another one…to conquer three things namely: Food (i.e. to provide for your family), Land (i.e. to have a dwelling to nurture and protect your family) and Women. The concept of choosing only one mate for life is relatively new, if you consider the whole of evolution. However…it doesn’t always work as planned. For example men still have affairs, or mistresses they don’t tell their wives about. If none of the former is true, then a man’s desire to conquer women seems to ‘leak’ out in one other category…
I spoke about men having a desire to conquer women. I do not mean that we’re all programmed to abuse and regard women as furniture. What I mean is as a man if you’re not conscious enough to form a relationship, and get to know/respect another woman intimately, it’s more likely your male need-to-breed part of your brain is going to be running the show.
Back to porn… What I’m trying to say is, at the end of the day, if you watch a lot of porn, you’re sitting on your sofa staring at a countless amount of male equipment. Porn (for a heterosexual guy) is not ONLY about seeing vaginas. Your friends might tell you different, because they are just trying to convince themselves. Even though a few lesbians may excite hetero guys, I’ll bet you that at least 80% of their porn collections have butt naked men in them. This is not because they have any gay tendencies. Realistically, if you want to watch a woman come, only another hetero guy can do it in a way that will excite you. Lesbians approach sex differently. So at some point a strap-on will never provide the same feeling and climax as the real deal. If you watch porn frequently…you do this purely to catch glimpses of a small little girl pretending this kind of thing, really excites her. I don’t give a shit about her actual age. Once upon a time when enough psychological forces (i.e. emotional and sometimes physical abuse) propelled her into a barrage of penises…she was still a girl. I also wonder does this girl really enjoy, the hot cum of five different men, painting her face? Does this act truly make her soul (or inner being) come alive?
To be honest I’d rather take this girl (regardless of how intellectually shallow she may be), and go to an art gallery. We’re still enjoying the act of people painting, although the process has cooled by now. No one is guiltily washing away the mess they were wallowing in, or even considering it a mess in the first place. An artist, who paints on a canvas, loves the stains of the oils left in her shirt. Sometimes she’ll turn her hand into a painting, just for one day, to see if it suits her. She is willing to create a mess, embrace the chaos, and swim with the variables. The major difference is she isn’t coerced into being an artist because she feels overwhelmed with life and needs to forget. The painting, careful planning, helping others, and the irreplaceable feeling of accomplishment are her motivating factors for engaging in this past time. Artists are often referred to as being influenced by the Muse. This is simply a mythical creature we say exists, to try and quantify the source of our inspiration.
I feel that watching porn for an extended period of time is just another reason to blur the logic of life. I know I’m getting a little repetitive so let me put it another way to you. It prevents us from staying conscious. My father is a philosopher, and I remember him introducing to me a while ago the theory of consciousness.
Initially when I heard the word I thought he was referring to my physical health. After all, that’s most probably the first place I heard the word while watching an episode of E.R. or Gray’s Anatomy. The philosophical definition of consciousness is a lot more than keeping the blood in your body. What it means (in a nutshell, since this is one huge topic) is to keep yourself ‘aware’ and continue to live despite the pain we face looking beneath the surface of our psychology. You see we’re all human, we all have religion, family, addictions, hobbies, passions and emotions. The biggest challenge we face is to juggle all these factors, and still continue to see the logic of life.
I think of myself as being at a horserace. I’m not a spectator, a jockey, or even a model (wearing something that breaks twenty minutes after the cameras regard you as ‘sexy’). I see myself as the horse, galloping ahead. I can feel the weight of the jockey’s fat arse, his stinging crop; i can smell the acrid dust burning my nostrils. I hear the squeal of last-minute-betters, and yet I continue to churn up the dirt. If you live and embrace a life according to Consciousness, then you’re prepared to plod along. Sometimes a glamorous outcome (like winning a horse race), will put aside the dirty details involved in its accomplishment. Some details we know, some we’re aware of, others will never cross our minds…but that’s ok.
Being conscious doesn’t mean you have to control every facet, and force around you either. Sometimes you may simply have to watch a few lives pulse and peter out into the horizon. If you can see the warm and solid hand of the sun – holding your gaze – you’re damn lucky you had the guts to stand up see it. Maybe one day we’ll be able to stand on the horizon, and learn to understand the struggles of our human condition.
Nowadays we’re living with a huge amount of noise. This is a very loose way of saying that we’re bombarded with technology, and let’s not forget the advertising and subcultures that go with it. It’s hard and confusing, but if you can master the technology of today, then you and I are open to endless possibilities.
Ever since the iPod and various other media devices became a norm, people have been obsessed with music and now anyone from a teenager to a middle aged father is listening to music. It’s a great thing to know that you can carry your whole cd wallet in a little pouch that is lighter than your actual wallet where more crucial information is stored. But also your wallet has become a little less relevant to how you want to feel about life. Your wallet has now become a product of the noise of our generation.
Balancing noise and narcissism
A while ago I was talking to a Doctor at my work. He told he doesn’t like technology at ALL. He told me that it’s made us removed from the world and with what’s going on. Although he’s not entirely correct, I’m forced to wonder how much of what he’s saying is actually true. One tragedy about an iPod is that it can cause us to introvert. One out of every ten customers I deal with, I don’t approach and ask them for help since they’re glued to the music on their belt, and simply want to waft in and out of the shop, in their music and their own thoughts. It gets on my nerves because I’m unsure if they want help, or they want to just be left alone instead.
I also understand them, because I’m a natural-born metal head and some days I enjoy the idea of simply plugging into a great album and forgetting about everything else for a while. So is this Noise (in the positive sense of the word) or blind Narcissism that’s provoking us?
It’s both to be honest. I don’t see life as an ultimatum, because that would be cruel and unfair to my own morals. The Greek legend of Narcissus is still a powerful one, so here is the story:
“[Narcissus] in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope; he was distinguished for his beauty. His mother was told that he would have a long life, provided he never looked upon his own features. His rejection, however, of the love of the nymph Echo or of his lover Ameinias drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and pined away (or killed himself); the flower that bears his name sprang up where he died. According to another source, Narcissus, to console himself for the death of his beloved twin sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features.
The story may have derived from the ancient Greek superstition that it was unlucky or even fatal to see one’s own reflection. In psychiatry and especially psychoanalysis, the term narcissism denotes an excessive degree of self-esteem or self-involvement, a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity.“
– Narcissus. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
In short we have a man who is forced into a period of water-gazing because of external factors in the environment. Our fallen hero has now become blinded by what he sees. In my opinion you could replace the harmless bowl of water, with an iPod, for our generation. It would seem absurd to argue that an iPod could actually kill someone. I won’t even make that statement for fear of living with the consequences and court cases. It is a strong example of how too much of a good thing could be detrimental to what we are unaware of.
An iPod at best can make us look antisocial, angry, happy, relaxed, meditative and internally engaged with ourselves. How then can we listen to music without breaking social barriers? My advice is to keep your life (and what you listen to) to two big containers.
The Two containers
The first is labeled ‘Online’ and the other ‘Offline’. These terms can be translated as Public and Private Life. Although society may try and merge these two categories, I think that is important we keep them (for the most part) separate.
So when you are at home, or in your car, or any other private space, that would be a good time to listen to your iPod. Although if you are in any kind of public place I would suggest that you whip it out of your ears, and engage with your external environment. This may seem like a massive shock to an introvert who is terrified of talking to people, although I still think it’s important. The only small exception I’ll add to this list is if you use an iPod for exercise. So if you are running down the road or going to the gym with an iPod plugged into your head, you should keep it there so you can continue pumping iron and jogging. If you don’t (when you’re in a public space) and you keep listening to a song of yours, it may seem fine, but you would be missing out on an opportunity to talk to your external environment.
Next you get the internet which is an equally vital part of our culture. So should we allow ourselves to become Offline with regards to the internet? Well, I’m afraid that the ball is in your court on this one. With software like Facebook and MySpace, we feel a great deal safer to be open about what we think and feel. Tread with caution, for once you have stuck your feet into the electronic river of information, is virtually impossible to get away from it.
If you are, like myself, addicted to burrowing into the corners of the internet, then for goodness sake research exactly what you are burrowing into! I have a very active mind, and I’ve always made it a habit of mine to investigate my own behaviors. For example in high school I started listening to heavy metal, much to the horror of my parents, and from then on I decided to read numerous articles on the internet. Some would be album reviews, while others would look at metal as a whole (from its birth with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) right up to the present day (with names like Metallica, Slipknot, Cradle of Filth and Korn) swarming the charts.
On the same topic I’ve read books and articles on the blogging and Facebook so I feel satisfied with what I’m getting into. If in doubt of what to do next, research your subject in question.
The River of Creation and Chaos
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus argued that you cannot step into the same river twice. The reason is that he argued that river is in flux. So try to picture the Greek symbol for infinity which is our numerical symbol for 8, which has been pushed on its side. The river, like the symbol for infinity, is never-ending…hence the word ‘flux’. The river we may swim in may last longer than our existence on earth does. The reason for this is because that’s just the way it is. It’s a form of energy that never stops.
What does the saying mean then? Well, every time you dip your foot into the river, you are in different particles of water, because the river is constantly flowing. You can then argue that we experience the river differently every time we immerse ourselves in it, because some time has passed since when we last dipped our foot in, and at the same token, we may be older people (if even by a few minutes) compared to our initial encounter with the river. Now consider the internet… 😀
In philosophy there are three questions we start off asking ourselves, to stimulate our minds.
– Why are we here?
– Where have we come from?
– Where are we going?
It’s a tough one to consider; now if you ask the internet those same questions (by replacing ‘we’ with ‘you’) then the outcome is equally flabbergasting. The internet is an unknown river to most of us. We will just find one small spot where we enjoy swimming and make use of it! So as an ‘iPod generation’ I think that we should choose to embrace this river that, like it or not, we’re bound to come into contact with.
It may not always be what we’re expecting, but it gives us a sense of peace and solace in a strange way. So even if you haven’t read up on the river you’re dipping into, and are feeling a little nervous about it, just be aware of it, and a little research is always a good idea. 😉