Ruptured Rhapsody

A different kind of "blog," consisting of selections from my scribblings over many years. The date of each post is the date I originally wrote that piece. So, the top post is usually not the latest post, because I continually add writings from different years to the blog. If you have visited here before, you are likely to find new posts anywhere on the page. I'll continue to add "new" posts as my time allows.

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Location: Toronto, Canada

31 December 1993

Introverts are constantly encourage to become extroverts.  But what exactly is an extrovert?  An extrovert is someone who is constantly performing roles for other people.  And he knows how to play those roles well, and now enjoys playing them.  The introvert, on the other hand, generally performs no roles.  He simply does whatever he does for himself.  to the extent that the introvert has freed himself, through involuntarily, from performing for an audience, his action is more authentic than the extrovert's.  But as his action does not have an external object, it is not authentic or real action.  There is no need, though, for the introvert to become like the extrovert.  All he needs do in order to achieve authenticity is to add an external dimension to his action.  He should do for others as he used to do fro himself.  Exteriorizing the authenticity of introverted action is the path to authenticity.  The person thus makes a quantum jump beyond taking.  He realizes that giving is what makes taking authentic.  He takes only in order to give.

Introvertness is a reflection of extrovertness that gains a level of authenticity over extrovertness, because it is authentic action with an authentic object.  But action can achieve full authenticity only in a Kantian universalization.  It is not, then, merely conformism in order to survive.  Rather, it is an expression of what action really is.  It may not receive the same plaudits as extrovert action.  But there are other kinds of plaudits.

30 December 1993

Money is not capital -- it is just a part of capital.  Capitalism is a system of (unjust) privilege based on economic, political, cultural, etc., resources.  The political and economic systems are not independent of each other.  The "political" system is a part of the "economic" system, and the "economic" system is a part of the "political" system.

29 December 1993

Embracing oneself -- and comforting oneself -- as one used to be -- perhaps vulnerable, etc. -- and as one will be -- old.  Bridging the gap between the baby and the elder.

28 December 1993

Kant and Socialism

Acting purely as the sentient (finite, mortal) being, there are no right or wrong actions, only good or bad ones.  Our immortality is not an empirical reality.  Whatever we do, we do as beings whose every action is merely an empirical phenomenon.  Our actions are all of this world.  Therefore, the only rightness or wrongness they can have is within the context of empirical phenomena -- the Manifold.  The individual being, mortal and finite, cannot be the basis of right and wrong -- there is no private morality.  Acting as a human being, one acts within the larger context of society (as opposed acting as a mere sentient being).  There is a sense in which a person can say: "Because I am a finite and mortal being, my actions must make sense to me, because this is the only life I have."  But this contention reflects back on itself and becomes: Because I am a finite being, and this is the only life I have, the only meaning it can have has to be outside itself."  If then happiness is good, and creating happiness is right, then it cannot be just my happiness that we are talking about.  And when what is right, I am doing what is right for me to do as a social being.

27 December 1993

"National identity" is the identity of elites, no matter what their race or origin.  The privileged among immigrants worry about getting their proper share of the pie, while the rest of us, immigrant or not, worry about the next month's rent -- about the crumbs we assumed we were assured of, but which are now threatened.  Those who have the privilege of worrying about making their proper contribution to Canadian heritage, already belong to the privileged, whether they know it or not.  Yes, it is true that much talent is wasted.  But that is because of the injustice of the system.  The system systematically destroys talent and potential, where of immigrants or others.  It balances everything in the scales of profit, rather than the good of society.  So the "underprivileged" are, by definition, excluded from making a contribution to "national identity."  The working class has no country.

26 December 1993

Notwithstanding all the differences of background, attitude, and so on, that divide me from a certain co-worker, the fact remains -- and it is perhaps the most tangible and real factor -- that he and I, for the foreseeable future and during a relatively long past -- are stuck with each other.  We are, in other words, in an identical situation.  Therefore, after all is said and done, and even after disagreements and disputes are considered, the most rational and course of behavior is tolerance.

A similar argument can perhaps be constructed for the case of the various groups that make up Canada.  For better or worse, we are all here now.  Therefore, the most rational course and behaviour may be simple tolerance and active bond-forming.

25 December 1993

The Gift (an atheist's religious moment)

The recent arguments over the political correctness of Christmas celebrations have again made political correctness itself an issue.  Though many people would wish political correctness away, the reality is that it has always been with us in one form or another, sometimes with a name, and sometimes without.  For example, at some point during the 1960s, people in North America stopped calling Afro-Americans “Negroes,” and started calling them “Blacks,” though no-one thought of the switch as “politically-correct” – it just seemed the right thing to do.

So it may be more productive to try to understand how and why ideas and concepts become politically incorrect, because the process is usually a symptom of an underlying problem – a problem that the battles over political correctness frequently prevent a solution of, and simply mask by creating new names and concepts.  For example, the real problem with the word “Negro” was that it categorized a section of the population in a negative way – that is, the word did not add any positive information to one’s ideas about a particular person.  It simply signified that the person was not “White” – which, in reality, means nothing.  Americans, rather than dealing with the word’s negative stereotyping, simply replaced it with another word – Black – that had the exact same problem – although one would not have dreamed of saying so in the ‘70s, for fear of being labelled a racist.  In other words, objecting to the board “Black” on the grounds that it was a label that arbitrarily put a wall of exclusion around a large section of the population – this objection would have made one an exclusionary racist!

On similar grounds, one would quite reluctantly propose that the labels “Afro-American,” Afro Canadian,” and so on have very little positive content, and primarily save to exclude.  The point is so obvious that did resists getting pinned down.  An Afro-Canadian, an Italian-Canadian, a Chinese-Canadian, and so on, is doubtless the beneficiary of a rich cultural heritage.  But as soon as each of those individuals is labeled in the customary way, their positive cultural heritage becomes a wall that separates them from the rest of society.  An Afro-Canadian, etc., is much more than just an individual who has been influenced by two cultures.

So, as hinted before, it may be more productive to try to understand how concepts become politically correct, rather than trying to invent concepts that are completely correct –not to speak of the fact that such concepts may be so neutral as to be meaningless.

A concept’s job is to unify a number of individual items into a totality.  For instance, as soon as an object is called a tree, it becomes a member of the established community of trees.  It is no longer just an object with a wooden trunk and green leaves.  It is now an object that share the characteristic of “treeness,” and everything that implies, with a large number of other objects of various sorts.  The name, however, forces our attention to certain aspects of the object, at the expense of other aspects.  For instance, we now tend to pay less attention to the fact that a tree is also a living being, a part of the same evolutionary chain we ourselves are a part of, an integral part of the biosphere oh, and so on.  Names begin by embracing, and end up rejecting and excluding.  The problem is that names begin by making a thing more than what it was, but then make it less than what it was.

Another example is the word “civilization.”  It originally signified an improvement on the state of nature, and a concept that unified the diversity of human achievements, imbuing them with singular significance.  But the very same process of making the human “a better nature” made the human something other than and opposed to nature.  Hence “civilization” became merely that which is not nature.  The rise was also a fall.

Social phenomenon turn from being acceptable into being unacceptable and politically-incorrect as they change from being something positive and affirming into something negative and excluding.  For example, discrimination against gay people and gay families became politically incorrect, not because some “wicked liberals” pushed for it, but because heterosexuality, from an affirmation of the love between a man and a woman, turned into a means of excluding and stigmatizing a large part of the population.

It is true that every affirmation and inclusion is also a negation and exclusion.  This is the essence of the human tragedy.  Yet the other side of the coin is that every negation and exclusion prepares the groundwork for a higher affirmation and inclusion.  A concept, at one point being of current significance and relevance, later becomes anachronistic and irrelevant, because it no longer tends to affirm and include.  The concepts Mrs and Miss at one point conferred a certain status on women.  Later, they served only to exclude women from the circle of independent human persons.  But the very concepts Mrs. And Miss served to focus attention on the dark side of the issue, and to prepare the groundwork for the next step.  Now, the positive concept Ms, as it serves to focus attention on the fact of human persons are merely divided by the excluding labels Mrs. And Ms., may serve as groundwork for a higher synthesis.
Another good example is Christmas, that is, its concept and what it means and used to mean.  From a time of sharing with the whole community and affirming one’s unbreakable ties to it, it became a time of rejecting those bonds through an affirmation of the self and of those directly bound to the self – that is, family and friends.  So it became a time of affirming the self, rather than affirming the Gift.  Long before it became politically incorrect, Christmas was a celebration of something received as a gift –with no money paid.  Christmas, from the exact opposite and negation of commercialism, has metamorphosed into the opposite.  It now divides and excludes – by ranking people into those who can afford expensive “gifts” and those who cannot, those who “care” and those who do not – turning love and caring themselves into commodities.  After all, those who  love the least, will care the least, are the ones most deserving of the Gift.

10 December 1993

The diremption between finance and economics

The capitalist ruling class looks at the world from a perspective of dollars and cents, whereas the real world runs according to a different logic.  While they run around trying to calculate how much everything is worth, the real values of thing slip through their fingers.  This is not just in a subjective, say, “artistic” or “moral,” sense, but rather it is the case that the diremption is at the same time objectifying itself as the apparent contradiction between a prospering financial system and a receding economy.

9 December 1993

The Hypocrites [a group in very early Islam]were considered to be condemned to eternal damnation not because they pretended to believe what they didn’t  truly believe.  Rather, it was because they used religion to gain worldly advantage.  They were “nice” not because they believed that brotherly love was the only road to true salvation, but because being nice meant that they would be at the top of the list when good jobs opened up, so to speak.  There are therefore no outward signs of true religiosity; there are no particular characteristics, such as “niceness,” that can be associated with religiosity.  If society happens to associate certain characteristics with saintliness, the truly saintly will make sure they do not exhibit such characteristics.  Anything that leads worldly advantages is of the Devil.

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