Philosophizing With A Hammer: Smashing The Idols

Some Christian extremist has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack that left over 90 people, including many children dead in Norway.  A war on Islam, he called it.  I guess the pressure of current events sent him over the edge.  An unfortunate consequence of collapse.  But the pressure cooker looks to continue folks, with a heat wave blanketing much of the homeland for the past week.   Yet, none of this has stopped the Senate Democratic Budget Chairman from telling us that “we, the people,” need to feel more pain financially so that Wall Street may keep prospering.

In the meantime the Greeks have been given the nod by the Euro-zone to default on their debt (well, sort of).  And the hardly-working folks at NASA are all kisses, hugs and uncertainty after they finished the final mission of their shuttle program (wonder what’s next for the empire!!).

And as jobless claims soared beyond expectations, topping a two-month failure in job growth, the Real News Network tells us that Obama represents the Wall Street arm of the Democratic Party.  Really, did they just figure that out?  Does the clown really think we are buffoons?

I am afraid to say that no matter which week it is my friends, the news gets more frightening and more revealing.  As the empire called Western Civilization goes down, people are getting crazier, and the soul of Gaia (Mother Nature) is focused on helping us along our long, insanely bumpy descent.  It is indeed curious how global warming is marching in lockstep with our global financial and psychological meltdown.  Is this not the perfect storm for imperial demise?  Meanwhile the banksters and the pols are seeking a cool get away.  Jim Kunstler was right last week; we are a dissolving nation.  But, it is not only our nation… it is the entire First World that is going down.  And this week we in the homeland, like those in Norway, can feel that dissolution, physically.

And why are we making such a big event out of Rupert Murdoch and the phone hacking scandal in England?  I mean hacking is now standard operating procedure in the USA by our own government.  It is called warrantless wiretapping, and it goes along hand-in-glove with Extraordinary Rendition.  I will tell you why.  Because they want to keep the Spectacle going to keep the masses confused and distracted from the fact that it is all a charade.  But soon the piper will come calling.  And all of us will pay.

But, my friends the stories we tell ourselves daily have a bad habit of shaping the way we see the world; they in fact create the world of our experience.  In the end, these stories – originally intended as hypotheses – become idols and take on a fixed and unalterable quality; they come to represent what we call concrete facts.  But this is precisely what we need to examine at our present juncture in history, when the idols we have collectively crafted have begun to crumble around our best efforts to save them, and the appearances they have constituted.

In The Twilight of the Idols, Friedrich Nietzsche taught “how to philosophize with a hammer” and smash our idols – by which he meant the assortment of stories that constitute the dominant representations of life and our world.  British lawyer and scholar Owen Barfield, born two years before Nietzsche’s death, was another idol-breaker.  In his work, Saving The Appearances: A Study In Idolatry (1957), Barfield takes up Nietzsche’s bold challenge.

I would like to propose that in light of the current trajectory of our global collapse – ecologically, politically, financially, psychologically and socially, we take Barfield’s work as the basis for a critique of those hypotheses that have become “untouchable” idols of the modern temperament and see if the possibility exists for reframing them in an attempt to change potential global outcomes.

[Sorry for the truncated post this week, but we are in the midst of travelling back to Siberia with our two-year old.  What a week it has been.]

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25 Responses to Philosophizing With A Hammer: Smashing The Idols

  1. Pingback: Philosophizing With A Hammer: Smashing The Idols | kulturCritic

  2. Disaffected says:

    Sam Harris is right. Religion is little more than culturally sanctioned insanity. At best, it’s annoying as hell and is hi-jacking global politics. At worst? It seems the extremists are determined to keep raising the bar, so we’ll see by and by.

    • kulturcritic says:

      DA – I think the impetus behind some religious activity is well grounded in certain innate feelings vis a vis our place in nature. However, I would agree if by “religion” you are referring to the institutionalized monotheistic world religions coming out of the ancient Near East. sandy

  3. Disaffected says:

    No surprise that that religious fundamentalism seems to go hand in hand with authoritarian government either. I mean really now, if you’re willing to suspend your common sense in favor of a holy book that’s riddled with contradictions, that was put together long after any alleged historical facts took place by fourth, fifth, god only knows how many hand witnesses, that was merely lifted from a previous religious tradition that in itself is riddled with even more blatant contradictions, and that is being used for little more than all manner of political and economic chicanery in the current day; then how much less of as stretch is it to believe in the real life flesh and blood would-be profits that masquerade as “leaders” on the world stage now. And in times of tumult and uncertainty people have an unfortunate habit of doing exactly what they should NOT do, which is to coil up in a fetal position and revert to their most infantile and deeply held “beliefs,” which are more often than not actually just their most deeply held fears. The twin ideas that the world is about to end based on either economic and financial ruin (the current political view, which may in fact turn out to be true, if only because the current system was designed from the start to do just that) and the idea that the world is going to end in some sort of Armageddon with Jesus returning to play the all-time starring role (the first part of which may also be true, once again because the faithful seem to be ensuring that at it will, one way or another) are really not so far apart at all. Which shouldn’t be surprising at all, since it’s largely the same people who hold both of those beliefs and perpetuate them in the first place.

    Yes, the hammers do indeed need to come out. Unfortunately for all of us, they’ll more than likely be whacking the wrong heads, both literally and figuratively. Both religion and the moneyed elite seem to be doing quite well these days, thank you very much.

    • Disaffected says:

      “Profits” in the above post should of course read “prophets,” but on second thought, I rather like the double entendre, since the primary goal of both leaders and prophets in the current day is the same: PROFITS.

    • StrayCat says:

      DA, you rock. Your commentary is spot on. The Norwegian madman is only one example of religious zealotry that has infected the body politic like intestinal worms. Our Rushdooney’s and christianist fascists are creating a plague of fear and knownothingness. The worst of this is that the preachers and screamers have amassed enough social capital out of the decay that our so called representatives in the states and the nation’s capital owe their offices and their status to the puppetmasters of these drooling zombies, the unthinking brain dead. The corrupt money has taken the reason from our politicians as though a prefrontal lobotomy has scrambled their minds into a mush. No sense of judgement, no sense of ratio or perspective now exists within the institutional hierarchy of our governmental systems. But it was inevitable. The whole notion of a hierarchical system of organization is inherently corruptible because such a system relies on status and premiership to function. Once a certain elevation of status is obtained, there is no effective challenge to the assertions of the elite available to the society in general. Thus, the resort to scandal and character assassination as political tools. Whatever the craziness of some of the beliefs of the tea party folk, they understand at a basic level that the idea of democracy as the supposed basis of decision making in the U.S and indeed the entire western world is a complete fraud. While the targets of their blame and anguish are often misplaced, their sense of treachery and abandonment is reality based and authentic. This sense of deception and fraud is real, and gives the power and attraction to the movement. Unfortunately, the leaders and shapers are as corrupt and deceitful as the politicians that they seek to control.

      • Disaffected says:

        Thanks SC. As the asylum keeper might say of me if we still actually funded asylums: He has occasional moments of lucidity, floating widely and randomly dispersed on a vast, bottomless sea of utter psychotic delirium. But other than that, he’ll be just fine. He’ll fit right in today’s society.

        • Anarchrist says:

          DA, SC, very lucid each of you, both points of view illustrate well the game as it is now played, and highlight the epic ethical compromises the players seem happy to make to stay at the table. What chance does truth, compassion, or even objective reason have to make any headway against this stacked deck? Should we be surprised that so many disgruntled (as well as gruntled) people are so very lost? And that some very broken individuals will resort to inhuman extremes as their damaged psyche attempts to meld with the relentless plethora of high-definition lies that we call ‘the world’?

        • Disaffected says:

          And who has EVER said it any better?

          Comfortably Numb

          DA

          • Anarchrist says:

            Sweet sounds from my own mixed-up childhood! Here’s another favourite of mine as a more recent, less mellifluous, and far less subtle criticism…

      • kulturcritic says:

        But they are all looking for a one way ticket to paradise (however that is imagined — a million angels in heaven or a private island with all that money can buy). The net result will be the same, staggering disbelief when things really start to unravel. The facts are clear. We have unleashed a genie whose power is none other than the frustration and anger of a depleted mother earth. We may try to stave off the end a bit; but, there are no technical fixes to make us whole again. And whatever remnant of humanity will remain will either be reduced to cave dwelling without the skills to survive, or disembodies zombie brains floating in the matrix. In either case, I am sure I will not see the final act.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Good rant DA. But, don’t blame the Xians for calling the end of the world; after all, we too are calling it as well, at least TEOTWAWKI. Yes, fundamentalism does work hand in glove with authoritarian govt. but that should not be a surprise, as we have talked about it in previous posts (eg. Science, Religion and The Curriculum of the West.)

  4. Anarchrist says:

    I suppose changing and uncertain times open the way to extreme behaviour, this Norwegian is just the latest in a long line of broken people parading victoriously through the media; their uncompromising modes of thought taken to their ultimate grisly conclusions, but becoming little more than news ‘product’ in the end, for folks to consume over a beer and a TV dinner. Same with this hacking scandal as you point out KC – just more diversion and bullshit, opinion presented as fact over and over until the real issue becomes as clear as mud or as impenetrable as concrete.

    I’ve seen very little reference made anywhere to the British Prime Minister being balls deep in that same hacking story, smug motherfucker just jokingly flipped the issue aside in parliament, but he has real close links to Murdoch’s people as we know, he is so soiled with their oily residue you can virtually taste it when looking at him. Sadly, in the circus we call ‘The West’ the difference between obvious guilt and what is provable is largely treated as being the same as the difference between innocence and guilt. In Scottish law there is a third legal verdict: ‘not proven’ also sometimes referred to as ‘the bastard verdict’, which would seem fitting here to describe how we truly feel about issues such as this. The guy is clearly dirty and therefore unfit to govern – well colour me surprised – but if the shit doesn’t stick it all just goes away. The whole stinking edifice makes me sick to my stomach, but as far as anyone can tell it is utterly doomed in the long term, so what else can I say?

    Good shit Sandy, very much food for thought, so thanks for that.

  5. Disaffected says:

    Hey guys, I found these vidoes on YouTube last week while setting up my FaceBook page (THE HORROR! THE HORROR!). This guy’s name is Pat Condell, and he is absolutely THE BEST commentator on religion I’ve ever heard. A veritable Sam Harris without all the academic gobbledygook and spoken in everyday “Queen’s English.” The man’s got SERIOUS game! In direct order of offensiveness:

    Pat Condell, Don’t Pray for Me
    Pat Condell, The Great Jesus Swindel
    Pat Condell, Your Faith Is a Joke

    By way of explanation: I know I went on a rant about social networking a few weeks back. All of which I still hold to today (I did FB for a specific person, of whom I won’t go into here, and have found it of limited utility – albeit MUCH amusement – since). If you do FB, go to my page and request the friend stuff and let me know on this site, and I’ll let you in (I’m locked down to friends only, as the spam is already unbearable).

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002572107651

    Believe me, once you read my page, you’ll realize that I’m not in it for an audience.

    And an extra thank you. I now FULLY APPRECIATE the added feature that Sandy has (evidently?) added to this site of of SAVING your last comment to the Leave A Reply window (I’m using Google Chrome browser and Win7 OS on a PC) until you write over it. I had this post almost completely composed and then accidently closed the window/tab. OH SHIT! Opened the site again and VOILA! All still there. Maybe I should GET religion? Umm… NOT!

    By the way, you guys ALL ROCK! Changing the world one word at a time. Just as it always HAS BEEN, and just as it ALWAYS WILL BE long after we’re gone, no matter the outcome. It’s the only thing humans using their higher brain functions are actually good at, and we STILL have the capability to transcend the current psychobabble if we only use it. As to whether or not we actually USE it or not, I remain entirely unconvinced, but who knows? I might even be wrong! Who’d a thunk it?

    DA

    • StrayCat says:

      I’m not a big fan of Facebook, especially in view of the manner in which it seeks to be used. However, I went to U-Tube and checked out Pat Cadell. He rocks, and is mostly right on. I think he groups too many multicultural liberals into one pot, and fails to see that some of them agree with him on the issue, but wish to protect the non-jihadist Muslims from the wide brush so often used in Europe and the United States to paint all of one group as either praiseworthy or evil. Aside from that, he is a righteous person, and very entertaining.

  6. John Bollig says:

    My stances have been vindicated The real sad part of this is the fact that ti really is not necessary. The simple fact is that The end is near , the pols are going to be hanging by their necks on lamp posts. . As for myself, land is cheap, the people are hard working and the water is good.

  7. Anarchrist says:

    Hold that thought about the water John, no idea where you live but watch this movie if you get a chance, it’s a depressing but much needed warning to anyone living on a gas/oil shale basin:

    http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/

    As for the general direction of the commentary over the weeks, I can’t fault any of the logic I see here, nor credibly dispel any of the fears, but I do think a helping of stubborn optimism can go a long way when coupled with meaningful action. By action I mean participation in community building/networking projects, shared labour in endeavours ranging from neighbourhood security to shared crop farming, or simply being fairly well acquainted with people in your immediate vicinity to aid mutual ‘backscratching’ as it were. I have a large productive garden with a spring and a stream running through it, many valuable practical skills, and the people around me are largely harmless and generally earnest, so I guess I’m as well off as any normal person could expect to be. I’ve really no idea where all this is headed in the longer term however, so preparation is tricky to balance; what EXACTLY are we to preparing for? We could be flirting with imminent collapse right now, or this debt thing may play out as some kind of roadmap to roll up the dollar/euro into a single currency a la the much vaunted NWO, etc. Either way there’s no way for me to know what to expect on the local level, but there’s ultimately no future in the world domination gig in a world of rapidly constricting energy supply, so any moneyed elites playing for control are likely to find themselves just as broke/fucked as everyone else in the final estimation. For my part I’m investing what little I can spare in organic soil enrichment (sustainable food supply), serviceable outbuildings (shelter), small scale DC power generation (lights, refrigeration), and accurate and serviceable firearms/air weapons (hunting tools).

    You know guys, I don’t know much about the value of dreams but I certainly have more than my share of nightmares, and I do mean this quite literally. The way I see it my subconscious is playing out the myriad permutations to check on what I definitely would not like to see happen. I think that will do as a starting point, the rest is just staying alert and dealing with things as they come my way.

    • kulturcritic says:

      AC – I saw the trailer before… it is certainly is frightening, but in line with the hegemony’s plans to keep this party going while killing off as many of us as they can manage.

  8. Disaffected says:

    Gasland was indeed an eye opener. Here in NM, a state with a shortage of both water and economic opportunity, new Republican mayor Susana Martinez has embraced the oil and gas industry with both arms, proving yet once again why the poor are indeed so poor (and getting poorer by the day), and the rich and powerful are just… amused!… at their stupidity. Long after the oil and gas has been extracted and turned to profits, the water table will be ruined and the state’s residents will be stuck wondering what in the hell they did to deserve their fate. And the oil and gas industry will say, “Yeah, go ahead and sue us. Good luck proving THAT in the best judicial system our money could buy. Hope you’ve got deep pockets and 20 or 30 years to waste mired in the process, after which we’ll have reorganized and been long gone anyway.”

    Natural gas is just the latest proof of the validity of James Howard Kunstler’s assertions regarding the end of cheap oil. As the supplies dwindle, every manner of alternative energy will be touted and embraced, almost always overestimating their primary benefits, while at the same time underestimating their direct costs, and even more importantly, almost always ignoring in entirety their hidden secondary costs, which the industry is already renowned for “externalizing” (passing on to the public “free of charge”) anyway. And in almost all cases, it’s those secondary costs (as we’re already finding out with “global weirding”) where the true long-term impacts lie. Or, in other words, the continued reliance on fossil-fuel industry to the bitter end will not only be a disaster in and of itself, but the secondary effects will make what is certain to be a very bad situation anyway exponentially worse in ways that are not even fully foreseeable at the time the costs were incurred! OR, we’ve got one hell of a disaster on our hands here and we’re too stupid to even realize it.

    Reminds me of one of the classic scenes in film of recent years, from No Country for Old Men

    Chigurh: What’s the most you’ve ever lost on a coin toss?
    Proprietor: Sir?
    Chigurh: The most. You ever lost. On a coin toss.
    Proprietor: I don’t know. I couldn’t say.
    [Chigurh tosses a quarter in the air, catches it, then places it on the counter with his hand over it]
    Chigurh: Call it.
    Proprietor: Call it?
    Chigurh: [sighs] Yes.
    Proprietor: Well – we need to know what we’re callin’ for here.
    Chigurh: You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair.
    Proprietor: I didn’t put nothin’ up.
    Chigurh: Yes you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didn’t know it. …

    Wikiquote

    • Disaffected says:

      Gasland is on HBO this weekend, so those of you who haven’t seen it already and have the capability to do I so, I urge that you do. One of it’s most compelling features is that it’s not done in a style that most people (oil and gas industry people excepted) would consider to be “hysterical” or “overwrought”, a la Michael Moore (allegedly). In my humble opinion, it’s a fairly even handed treatment of the subject, especially given the highly inflammatory ramifications of its “conclusions.”

      Secondly, the oil, gas, and nuclear industries all benefit tremendously from the recent Supreme Court decision in favor of corporate “personhood,” and the exercise of that status through virtually unlimited amounts of political speech via campaign contributions and independent political action committees. I guess it was not enough that such political speech has ALWAYS BEEN protected by such backdoor entities which ALWAYS spring up where there are great amounts of wealth and power at stake. INDEED, the Supremes pretty much announced (and codified into law) that the US Government is open for business and up for sale, and DEFIED anyone of common means to do anything about it! Pretty ballsy stuff!

      No surprise then that on Tuesday we are prepared to begin defaulting on public obligations, the exact order of which is yet to be definitively “concluded.” But of course, NoBama and the nominally “liberal” Democratic Party have already conceded the farm (yet again!) in the form of social program cuts, IN SPITE OF THE FACT that it is nominally their “political base” that will be targeted by such a decision. With friends like these… EVIDENTLY, BONDHOLDERS, who have only recently bought into the illusion that US obligations were backed by the “full faith and credit” of whatever swindlers were in charge of things, will be given precedence over such obvious “losers” as pensioners, and other dumb schmucks who had the unmitigated gall and stupidity to cast their lot long ago with a political “organization” which could so obviously be easily bought off. To which I (and others) say, good luck with that motherfuckers! You’re just the next loser in LONG line ready to get stiffed!

      Bottom line in a word: PONZI. US style global casino capitalism/fascism, which has now completely metastasized and infected every vital organ of the global private and public economic organism, will soon (although not NEARLY soon enough!) be the death of us all. And of course, like any great tragic epic tale, it will be those who stand to lose the most that will be enlisted to fight the hardest to ensure their own demise. And they will. And tragically, they will succeed. And they will rejoice in their own demise, and CONTINUE to blame it on the mythical “others” sold to them at that. Until the very end.

      Tragedy? Comedy? Both? I dunno, you decide.

      DA

      • Anarchrist says:

        Succinct and to the point DA, the way I likes it. Glad you got something out of Gasland, I personally found it somewhat overpowering in places, like watching something beautiful die. I revisited the sorrow I felt in the summer of 2003 when I drove East to West across the US and back again, looking and learning as I went and to a great extent grieving over what I saw. I’d further refer to a list of documentaries actually, not all brilliant viewing, but informative enough and obviously very quick to digest in the format. At the risk of helping make you EVEN MORE disaffected, Google these films in no particular order:

        – Blue gold: world water wars – (water privatisation)
        – Inside job – (Financial crisis, obvious conclusions but well laid out)
        – The war on kids – (exactly what it says, mind-blowing)
        – H2Oil – (Alberta tar sands, oil/water as competing resources)
        – The end of the line – (collapsing fisheries)
        – The century of the self – (psychology and control, in 4 parts)
        – The shock doctrine – (basically a summary of Naomi Klein’s book)
        – Starsuckers – (the entertainment treadmill laid bare)
        – Confessions of an economic hitman – (a book also, but the film is on YouTube)
        – Collapse – (Michael Ruppert tells it like he sees it)

        These are all somewhat beneficial sources of credible ‘alternative’ information (that is to say that there are facts in there as well as and personal experience from ‘horses mouths’). You may or may not already be aware of much of the subject matter, but either way there is some benefit to absorbing it quickly and linking it creatively with the other subjects. These are all (or at least should be) controversial issues, but the real rub is watching many of the people explaining an angle on the great clusterfuck from an often very specialised perspective. My own perspective is a result of my fairly casual layman’s overview, but it is by no means a unique one; that fundamentally they are all referring to a single amorphous issue – the runaway success of greed and self-interest as a pervasive living (and governing) model, and the terrible effects that this has wrought and is wreaking upon the earth and all of her denizens. All this bad juju set against the backdrop of a dwindling energy supply and a changing climate; it’s the perfect storm is it not? We are accelerating even now along this most parabolic trajectory. We desperately need to change course because if we don’t we are fucked, but my suspicion is that we won’t all understand that until we hit the wall. Perhaps then the changes we need most will become inevitable. Roll on 2012, with friends like these, who needs the apocalypse?

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