coromandal


you missed one of the rungs in the ladder
June 9, 2018, 6:39 pm
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes | Tags: , , , , ,

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In his essay Such Were the Joys …, George Orwell describes the claustrophobic social realities of early century England.

The social and class milieu was rooted in low church religion and upper class unattainability and snobbery, which cancelled each other: on the one hand: sex puritanism, hard work, academic distinction, no self indulgence. And on the other: anti-intellectualism, love of games, xenophobia, contempt for working class, fear of poverty,  materialism, power and leisure.

To be socially acceptable one had to live on the interest of a sizable family endowment. It was virtually impossible to attain upper class status from the middle class: best case was a middle manager civil servant, but more likely, after a lifetime of hard work, an office boy.

Today we have indifferent boomers, a majority who can’t retire, lost millennials, the precariat, giggers etc. Was Orwell’s time any different from our own?

The various codes which were presented to you at Crossgates – religious, moral, social and intellectual – contradicted one another if you worked out their implications. The essential conflict was between the tradition of the nineteenth-century ascetism and the actually existing luxury and snobbery of the pre-1914 age. On the one side were low-church Bible Christianity, sex puritanism, insistence on hard work, respect for academic distinction, disapproval of self-indulgence: on the other, contempt for “braininess” and worship of games, contempt for foreigners and the working class, an almost neurotic dread of poverty, and, above all, the assumption not only that money and privilege are the things that matter, but that it is better to inherit them than to have to work for them. Broadly, you were bidden to be at once a Christian and a social success, which is impossible. At the time I did not perceive that the various ideals which were set before us cancelled out. I merely saw that they were all, or nearly all, unattainable, so far as I was concerned, since they all depended not only on what you did but on what you were.

Very early, at the age of only ten or eleven, I reached the conclusion – no one told me this, but on the other hand I did not simply make it up out of my own head: somehow it was in the air I breathed – that you were no good unless you had £100,000. I had perhaps fixed on this particular sum as a result of reading Thackeray. The interest on £100,000 a year (I was in favor of a safe 4 per cent), would  be £4,000, and this seemed to me the minimum income that you must possess if you were to belong to the real top crust, the people in the country houses. But it was clear that I could never find my way into that paradise, to which you did not really belong unless you were born into it. You could only make money, if at all, by a mysterious operation called “going into the City,” and when you came out of the City, having won your £10,000, you were fat and old. But the truly enviable thing about the top notchers was that they were rich while young. For people like me, the ambitious middle class, the examination passers, only a bleak, laborious kind of success was possible. You clambered upwards on a ladder of scholarships into the Home Civil Service or the Indian Civil Service, or possibly you became a barrister. And if at any point you “slacked” or “went off” and missed one of the rungs in the ladder, you became “a little office boy at forty pounds a year.” But even if you climbed to the highest niche that was open to you, you could still only be an underling, a hanger-on of the people who really counted.

George Orwell, Such Were The Joys …, p 31

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muscles
July 3, 2016, 2:28 pm
Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: , ,

[Icelandic Women Dancing]

The way to god not through the mind or the spirit, not meditation; but by ritual dance, and by yoga too?

Ritual dances provide a religious experience that seems more satisfying and convincing than any other . . . It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine.

Aldous Huxley



updates are revisions of dogma
October 25, 2015, 12:10 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , ,

Scientism / athiesm / homo economicus is the unassailable three person godhead of our time. Even if things in general are going very badly, and the scientists, atheist and MBA/ economists have all of the power and are making all of the decisions, we still can’t and won’t blame the godhead. Tyson, Nye, Dawkins, Maher, Greenspan are the robed flunkies who design and administer the sacraments in the temple of techno materialist positivism. We follow in lock step.

It is breathtaking that STEM – science, technology engineering and mathematics – our education policy du jour, leaves out the humanities, the very antecedent of freedom. The fundamentalisms of markets, analysis, reason and tech, have replaced and erased history and the arts.

In the seventeenth century we suffocated under the yoke of religion and yearned for reason; today our god is technology and we pine for mystery.

It is hard now to recreate a sense of the almost complete impossibility of not being a religious believer in seventeenth-century England. But as I enter the Apple Store, symmetrically laid out with its central entrance door and an attractively illuminated high table at the far end, a parallel comes to mind. Digital technology seems to fill a large part of the mental space we reserve for faith. (Art, which is often put up as a candidate, is the opium only of a minority.) We depend on technology for the smooth running of our daily lives, if not for our salvation. We make obeisance to it, we feel obliged to buy into the whole package, rather than selecting and rejecting individual technologies. There is the familiar choice between minutely differentiated sects (Apple or Microsoft), but all must share the same basic creed. Upgrades are like revisions of dogma in which we have no say, but which we are bound to go along with anyway. To reject the technological is to declare oneself a heretic, a position as inconceivable now as declaring oneself an atheist in the 1600s.

Richard Dawkins’ moralizing atheism: Science, self-righteousness and militant belief — and disbelief
I agree with Dawkins more often than I do with the church. So why do I find Dawkins the more annoying?
Hugh Aldersey-Williams



a hangman’s metaphysics

Being responsible and accountable is a good thing, right?  Nietzsche says it is sought by people who want to punish and judge. Those who want to punish make requirements for accountability / will.

People are described – by authorities and priests – as free so that their intention and will are fully transparent, conscious and traceable so that blame and guilt can be easily assigned.

In growing into ‘being’ the filter of will and accountability is added by moralists which makes a world infected by guilt and punishment. The goal of the immoralist is to rid the world of guilt and punishment by removing the requirement for accountability and will.

The lesson?: beware the tricks of rule makers and moralists, especially the manipulation of the concept that people are free which really means that people are free to be guilty.

Here is Nietzsche:

We no longer have any sympathy today with the concept of “free will.” We know only too well what it is—the most infamous of all the arts of the theologian for making mankind “accountable” in his sense of the word, that is to say for making mankind dependent on him…. I give here only the psychology of making men accountable. Everywhere accountability is sought, it is usually the instinct for punishing and judging which seeks it. One has deprived becoming of its innocence if being in this or that state is traced back to will, to intentions, to accountable acts: the doctrine of will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that is of finding guilty. The whole of the old-style psychology, the psychology of will, has as its precondition the desire of its authors—the priests at the head of the ancient communities—to create for themselves a right to ordain punishments, or their desire to create for God a right to do so…. Men were thought of as “free” so that they could become guilty; consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in the consciousness (whereby the most fundamental falsification in psychologicis was made into the very principle of psychology)…. Today, when we have started to move in the reverse direction, when we immoralists especially are trying with all our might to remove the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment from the world and to purge psychology, history, nature, the social institutions, and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming with “punishment” and “guilt” by means of the concept of the “moral world order.” Christianity is a hangman’s metaphysics.

FREDERICK NIETZSCHE Twilight of the Idols, 1889



death in your mouth

Material life or … spirituality or … death in your mouth.

Simon Critchley describes how materialism and spirituality are the diametric options for living that we tend to follow en masse in this life, and how they enslave us.  Both are escapist strategies:  materialism is the handmaid of forgetfulness; spirituality of assurance of endless life.

But to learn to know death realigns our lives to our own mortality and frees us.

There are two very aggressive contentions in this idea: that to ‘know’ death will have a freeing effect; and that to deny death is hate yourself.  Does it follow that to be materialist or spiritual, are forms of self hatred?

Here is Critchley’s description from the introduction to The Book of Dead Philosophers:

We are led on the one hand, to deny the fact of death and to run headlong into the watery pleasures of forgetfulness, intoxication and the mindless accumulation of money and possessions.  On the other hand, the terror of annihilation leads us blindly into a belief in the magical forms of salvation and promises of immortality offered by certain varieties of traditional religion and many New Age (and some rather older age) sophistries.  What we seem  to seek is either the transitory consolation of momentary oblivion or miraculous redemption in the afterlife.

It is in stark contrast to our drunken desire for evasion and escape that the ideal of the philosophical death has such sobering power.

[…]

To philosophize, then, is to learn to have death in your mouth, in the words you speak, the food you eat and the drink that you imbibe. It is in this way that we might begin to confront the terror of annihilation, for it is, finally, the fear of death that enslaves us and leads us towards either temporary oblivion or the longing for immortality. As Montaigne writes, “He who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” This is an astonishing conclusion: the premeditation of death is nothing less than the forethinking of freedom. Seeking to escape death, then, is to remain unfree and run away from ourselves. The denial of death is self-hatred. …

The Book of Dead Philosophers, Simon Critchley



son of a preacher man
December 15, 2011, 4:53 am
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: , , ,

Eastern Orthodox

Slobodan Milosevic
George Stephanopoulos – TV journalist.

Nicola Tesla —

Protestant

Jane Austen-English novelist; daughter of an Anglican clergyman.

Ingmar Bergman-filmmaker, son of a Lutheran minister.

Anne Brontë – novelist

Charlotte Brontë – novelist

Emily Brontë-novelist, daughters of an Anglican vicar.

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to unprotect ourselves for the sake of bigness and of love

Summoning up a whirlwind of illogic, Margaret Thatcher once said, “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.”  That was the beginning of the end of the idea of society in contemporary western life.  This new idea has run its course for the better part of two generations.  It has had enormous impact on our lives and our politics.  There are evidences of it in everything from personal attitudes to public policies.

I can think of numerous examples of how the idea that society, or a commitment to the public good, is essential to having a good life has ebbed away.  On a personal level, the incidence of competition and lack of empathy among friends and colleagues is higher and harsher than it used to – and needs to – be.  Professional jealousy and character assassination at work particularly, as people angle to get ahead, are commonly accepted, where I don’t think they used to be as much.   Continue reading