Friday, October 31, 2008

More 1974



You can't get any more 1974 than Gordon Lightfoot, I don't think. Ah, what is the answer to this mystery that is 1974?

Some of you may be wondering why I keep putting up stuff from 1974. Well, the reason is that I think something happened in 1974, some earth's-destiny-changing event, like Aramazd going up against Ahriman in a battle that would decide the fate of the cosmos. I'm not kidding. I don't exactly know what happened, but I think Nixon had something to do with it, but, say, a rabid dog running down the street might have just as well been the cosmos-redirecting event, too--nobody really knows. But the point is that something unusual happened in 1974, and that is why I am a bit fascinated by it. If you've ever read Philip Dick's VALIS you know what I'm talking about.

If you haven't read the books, then here's what I'm talking about. (And, by the way, I don't necessarily see the world the way Dick did in that book, but I certainly dig[g] the way he soldiered through it). Life is a monolith, a thing, an ontological fact. Life is an inexplicable something. If you took this monolith, this thing, and you put it up in front of Confucius, Socrates, and all the philosophers from then until now, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and, yes, Derrida, and you asked them to try to explain it, to understand it, to say just what is it, they would come up with an answer, a characteristic answer. Would the answer have anything to do with the thing, the monolith? Why, no. But it would be a characteristically human answer. The answer would explain not the monolith, but it would speak volumes about humans. See where I'm coming from?

(And, by the way, saying that Being is an a priori concept that we humans bring to the world, a la Kant, still doesn't explain why things are a priori.) What is this thing? What is being? Explain it.




In 1974, human answers were happening. People were coming up with answers, with art, in a way that hasn't happened since then, for 34 years. I don't know why. The monolith stays the monolith, but the human attempt to explain it intensifies periodically.

That was 1974. And it is happening again this year.

UPDATE: While I was writing this post, something started itching in the back of my mind, like right around where the cerebral cortex meets medulla at the spine, if it does...well, you know what I mean. So I scratched the itch, that is, paid attention to it, and I remembered that Something Happened, Joseph Heller's book, was published in 1974.

If I remember correctly, standing in front of a door and being simultaneously horrified, terrified, and enraptured by the idea of opening it was the matrix that the story grew out of. Here is Wiki's bullshit take on it. Kurt Vonnegut had a lot more interesting things to say about the book. Here they shoot the shit about things.

5 comments:

Aramazd said...

and I also was born in 1974... :) ;)

Ani said...

I really, really, really should have had my coffee before trying to read this post....

tzitzernak2 said...

If nothing existed - not to be read as the positive existence of nothing, but rather, as the absence of anything to exist- would there still be existence?
And fundamental to that question, if there are no nouns/pronouns, whether they be literal or figurative, can the meaning of a verb/action still exist?

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Since space is the condition of existence only and no action occurs outside of the humanly conceived causal chain, the answer to both questions is a "no."

While we're trading conceptual pornography to mentally masturbate by, here is the thought that truly blows my mind: If space is limited, meaning the amount of matter in the universe is finite, and it is according to theoretical physics that has calculated the total number of protons in the universe--anyway, if space is finite, and time is infinite, then it is necessarily the case that everything happens over and over again, which means I'll be writing this same comment and you will be reading it a 100,000 quintillion years from now, a measure of time that is, come to think of it, completely arbitrary, because the amount of time it takes for the earth to go around the sun is totally arbitrary.

Time has to be put relatively in order for it to be measured, just like space. We humans set the amount of time it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis against the amount of time it takes to go around the sun; accordingly, we get 365 days in a year. All arbitrary measurements. Even the number 10. Why ten? You can put a zero after any number and you would still have a coherent number system: you could have 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20... We chose 10 because that is how many fingers we have.

What a "meter" is is based on the circumference of the earth, and how heavy a "gram" is is based on the weight of water.

All arbitrary. If we didn't have our own particular experience here on earth as a reference point, we'd be totally at a loss in coming up with our "universal" measurements.

And all of that is about the most fundamental conditions of our existence: time and space. And if time, space, "being," and "causality," as well their "universal" measurements are all man made, so to speak, then imagine what a load of bullshit everything else is.

From the minute we are born to the minute we breathe our last breath, we humans never exit the web of fictions that make up the "meaning" of our lives. Everything that we do, we do because we've identified with the "I" of one or another story, a story that was built, packaged, and put on the shelf long before we were ever born.

I better stop now, before I go blind. Ha, ha!

tzitzernak2 said...

Though I agree that we are in a constant struggle to think outside of the constructs which we ourselves live in and perpetuate, it is not so easy to say that "no action occurs outisde of the humanly conceived causal chain." For example, though the processes of evolution and the emergence of life itself are studied within the human construct of science, they clearly occurred, and occurred without and before the human construct. No?
Excuse any typos as the hairy palms are making typing difficult!