Friday, September 5, 2014

Preface - Nothing is Real



Preface

Nothing is real

Writers do not become writers, they simply realize one day that they are writers. I realized it in 1989, at age 16. I began my writing career as a freelance contributor. I wrote live music reviews and creative nonfiction, mostly narrative essays. At the time, all my literary idols were transcendentalists. I admired many of the authors personally and I loved their writing style. Transcendentalism validated my belief system and reassured me that a purpose for all life existed. Through study and observation I learned that the human “self” is invariably linked to nature. I learned that social institutions such as organized religion and the political process ultimately corrupt the individual. Human beings are designed to be self-reliant and autonomous, thereby able to form true community. Like most philosophical movements, transcendentalism is a big word that describes a simple idea. Humans have knowledge about themselves and their universe that transcends or goes beyond the 5 senses (what we can see, hear, taste, touch and feel). In other words, “matter” is not all that matters.
Transcendentalists were outspoken critics of unconscious conformity in contemporary society. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, as he urged everyone to “enjoy an original relation to the universe”. My favorite transcendental authors are Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. As a young writer, I wanted to someday number among them. But at age 16, I was insolent. I was intelligent, but I was also inexperienced and slightly naïve. Like most young writers I had more questions than answers. I was restless and eager to be published. I wanted to make a permanent impression of words on paper. I considered myself a naturalist, but my editors classified me as postmodern. Eventually, I realized my style was existential. So in addition to literary realism, which I used to describe how society, heredity and environment influenced human behavior, I also began to study existential philosophy.


Philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche laid the groundwork for the intellectual movement known as existentialism in the mid-19th century, by dismantling objectivity and embracing skepticism of social norms. Based on their conclusions, my belief is that subjectivity is the path to objective truth and vice versa – the nexus of which forms a “composite” truth. The first step on this path is an understanding of the distinction. I feel that the line between objective and subjective truth has been intentionally obscured by an overall displacement of the archetype by later generations of existential philosophers. As a result, writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett drew heavily from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche rather than their contemporaries. These post-war existentialists brought a new sense of subjectivity, but also a sense of hopelessness which greatly influenced thinkers, writers and artists of that era.
For example, Karl Barth’s fideist approach to theology and lifestyle ironically spawned irreverence for reason and sparked the rise of subjectivity. Post World War II colonialism greatly contributed to the idea that having an objectively superior lifestyle or belief is impossible. As Nietzsche himself said, “There are no facts, only interpretations”. This idea was expanded by anti-foundationalist philosophers Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Derrida, who re-examined the fundamentals of knowledge. They argued that rationality was not as clearly defined as modernists and rationalists believed. In addition to philosophers, most psychologists began to exhibit a cognitive bias toward existence, in relation to our default setting of “truth bias”. Existentialism is generally considered to be a study in pursuit of meaning in existence and its value to the individual. Unlike other fields of philosophy, existentialism does not treat the individual as a concept, but values individual subjectivity over objectivity. As a result, questions regarding the meaning of life and subjective experience are seen by existentialists as being of the highest importance, above all other philosophical questions.


The main proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence; i.e. a being exists before its existence has meaning. Thus allowing us to define ourselves through a process of subjectification. Existentialism undermines epistemology and is the flipside of metaphysics which contends that essence precedes existence. Existentialism is sometimes associated with anxiety, a sense of fear and the awareness of death. It emphasizes behavior, freedom and decision making as fundamental to human existence. This theory is in sharp contrast with both rationalist tradition and positivism. Existentialists argue against descriptions of humans as predominantly rational beings who view reality as solely an object of knowledge. For example, I refuse to view humanity as something that can be regulated by rationalist principles, as we are primarily defined in terms of behavior.
This theory rejects rationalist definitions of being. It also rejects essence as the most common feature that everything in existence has in common. Contemporary existentialists tend to view human beings as subjects in an indifferent, objective and often ambiguous universe in which meaning is not provided by the natural order; but is created by the actions and interpretations of human beings. Although there are common tendencies among existentialists, there are also major differences and disagreements among them. Some existentialists refuse to affiliate with - or even accept the validity of the term. As a result, by the late 20th century, a philosophic movement known as postmodernism emerged. It emphasized a skeptical interpretation of culture, often associated with deconstruction. The term postmodern rapidly gained popularity in literature, music, art, philosophy, economics, and architecture. The term has been applied to several movements in reaction to modernism and is typically marked by a revival of historical elements and techniques. The book you are now reading was originally a postmodern essay, entitled The Observing Ego. While writing it, I read a quote about postmodernism made by Albert Arnold Gore.


Dear Albert stated that postmodernism was a perfect combination of nihilism and narcissism (which is ironic, because politicians are usually in denial about both concepts). I immediately took offense to that statement. However, to be honest I wasn’t really offended, but that was my only motivation for criticism at that time. I thought to myself, “the nerve of this guy”. No wonder so many people think he’s a pompous jerk. I doubt that anyone really cares about his opinion on this either way. Al Gore’s job titles and pedigree don’t impress me. He conceded the 2000 “election” because he was following orders. He was told to step aside, so that’s exactly what he did. But in the grand scheme, it doesn’t really matter; it was all part of a larger agenda. It wasn’t really an “election”, it never really is. It’s always more of an “appointment”. Some people are aware of this dichotomy, yet it doesn’t seem to bother them. This could be the nihilism Gore was referring to, but it isn’t. Gore believes anarchists such as myself to be nihilistic because he has a misunderstanding of anarchism. In any case, neither he nor any other “pezzonovante” has accurately defined postmodernism as a philosophical movement. Other than a rejection of modernism (which is sometimes ambiguous), it is a rejection of conservative ideology; and the idea of traditional socioeconomics and politics based on reason and objectivity is no longer plausible - because those patterns of social behavior no longer exist. In addition, objectivity and rationale are sometimes diametrically opposed. Objective views are primarily influenced by physical law and mathematic absolutes whereas a rationale can easily proceed from inaccurate information or false assumptions. Either way, those who don’t understand how “rational objectivity” is supposed to function (or those who decide to reject it) will presume they exist at the center of the universe. This presumption may be part of the narcissism that Gore referred to, but that doesn’t matter. It is not necessary to embrace nothingness if you decide to reject everything, especially because there is no such thing as nothing.


A new universe (or multiverse) can be discovered once you forget everything you know about the one in which you currently exist. In other words, nothing is real. We are not bound to this plane of being, corporeally or otherwise. In addition, impossibility cannot exist. Anything that supposedly cannot be done has simply not been done yet. Martial artists will tell you that a flow of kinetic energy (known as Chi) is used to change the density in boards and bricks in order to break them, the same way high pressure storm systems can change the density of a brick wall allowing a block of wood to smash though it. It’s not that unusual. These things happen all the time. Just as the time of year in which we are conceived and born affects our patterns of behavior and thought process. So why then do most people stubbornly reject Alchemy, Reiki, Energy Healing, Feng-Shui, Shamanism, Naturopathy and Ancient Astrology – yet easily accept Religion, Science and New Age beliefs? It’s because we have been conditioned to believe that natural practices are not sound.
We have been led astray from the divine human purpose. To quote Jordan Maxwell, “I don’t know what God is, but I do know what it isn’t”. No one can ever tell you exactly who you are or who you are supposed to be. That is for you alone to determine. I am often asked if I believe in God. My answer is yes; but what I believe will always differ from what you believe, even if only slightly. No two systems of belief can be completely identical, but they can share characteristics. This is part of the Gnosis. Human beings are divine creatures with a sacred origin. We all follow a path that we continually create for ourselves; which is also predetermined by something we have absolutely no control over. That seems to be a contradiction, but it isn’t. Everything that happens is meant to happen in some way, shape or form. I constantly hear smarty-pants intellectuals complain about how people annoyingly use the phrase “everything happens for a reason” yet cannot articulately explain what is meant by that. But guess what? They don’t have to explain it. The phrase is self-explanatory.


If you disagree, I understand. But no one owes you an explanation for human existence and purpose. You can blame that on whatever you want, or give credit where you think it’s due, but life goes on, with or without your participation; active or passive. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as “the end of the world”. The “world” is abstract and therefore has no beginning or end. We merely exist as a part of this abstraction for a miniscule fraction of time; because time is infinite. Time is relative to energy and mass. That’s why there is no time in outer space. As a result, mass particles do not merely exist in space-time, they create space-time. In other words, time and space are emergent properties of a “gravitational” field; existing simultaneously as both the result and origin of all matter in existence. One day, you will cease to inhabit your human form and pass away from this world.
On that day, everything you thought you knew will become meaningless. Everything you believed and possessed will become worthless. “The entire world” is something you leave behind, in favor of what comes next. Do I believe in life after death? Yes; but not in this world, not of this consciousness and not related to this element of being. In order to fully understand this way of thinking, you must rise above concepts such as good and evil or even right and wrong. Ethic will always eclipse morality. All around us, all the time, there is negative and positive energy. Neither can exist without the other and we could not exist without both. In our search for answers, we often uncover more questions. The “how” is sometimes easy to understand; the “why” on the other hand, is usually a bit more complicated. The following six monologues each contain several narrative forms. They are not arranged in chronological order. They contain no perception of time.
They are descriptive and satirical. They are mythic and autobiographical. They are contextual and metaphoric. To review, discuss and share opinions on the book or to access the online footnotes, please visit alwaysneverforever.com