12 November 2008

Aphorisms for a Full Moon

Fire is the essence of all that is manifest.

The unmanifest appears.

Evolution implies negation of what has been in favour of what is to come. This is the true meaning of redemption.

You can see the sun that lies behind the sun best at the full moon, but even in the broadest daylight still it shines and, if it is willed, we may catch a glimpse of its light.

Things are best seen when they're invisible.

11 September 2008

From Four Quartets

"Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being."
---Burnt Norton V

This may be the clearest articulation of Plato's theory of ideas that is currently in print.

15 May 2008

not quite to the point?

"Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

Spe Salvi
section 44

It seems to me, however, that Ivan Karamazov doesn't especially object to the reconciliation of the evildoer with the victim. In fact, he seems quite ready to accept this. What we cannot accept is that innocence should be violated for the sake of salvation.

"Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature — that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance — and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.”

“No, I wouldn’t consent,” said Alyosha softly."

The Brothers Karamazov, Book V.4

It seems to me that the crux of Ivan's complaint against Christianity is that it demands that innocent people suffer so that the world may be saved. It isn't the vision of the lion lying down with the lamb but the child covered in excrement that compels Ivan to say: "It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket."

27 April 2008

I can cook. Really.

Seared tuna steak on soy and ginger green beans with pancectta.

Garlic shrimp with sauteed baby spinach and goat cheese.

19 February 2008

One possibility

If we accept the premise that Plato's attacks on poetry don't mean what they seem to, one possible alternate interpretation we might offer is that poets have a responsibility to excel at their craft, since bad art can very easily lead to bad people.

18 February 2008

From my upcoming book

Postprincipal Beginning

Everywhere we see evil, and that is most strange, for it so rarely seems to be caused by bad people. Perhaps the most terrifying feeling we can ever experience, after all, is when we find that we ourselves have caused great pain quite unintentionally. We speak words, and true words, that nonetheless sound hollow in our ears because of the pain we have caused. "I only wanted to help," "I didn't mean to hurt you," "I just wanted to do the right thing." And everywhere, people suffer.

It would, of course, be an infinitely easier sort of world if good intentions always produced bad consequences. Then, at least, we would know what to expect. Not a better world, mind you, but certainly an easier one. Instead, however, we find that for most men the results of our actions seem only slightly effected by our actions. Hume prided himself on disproving the "law" of causality, but it was obvious to those that know from the outset that, at least when it comes to human action, effects and causes can often have the most tenuous sort of bond, and, on rare and occasionally memorable occasions, no bond whatsoever. Because of this it is superfluous to point out that this also holds true for evil—much glory and joy has come from motives and even actions that we would like to and (thankfully) can often manage to forget were not directed toward any sort of "good" end at all.

Yet for all this we still cling to the belief that we ought to do good and avoid evil. This is because, as we have said, the world is not so pleasantly predictable as to be wholly random. If it was, it wouldn't matter why we did anything we did, and we could freely do as we like because it would have no effect on the outcome of our actions. The problem is that sometimes what we do does have an effect on the outcome of our actions. But I trip over this word "outcome..." odd that the word for what stems from our actions is composed of "out" and "come." Does it mean that which comes out of what we do, and indeed out of who we are? Or is the outcome that which comes entirely from without?