The Saintly Altar of the Altered State

I.

The human brain, contrary to what mom told us, is not a miraculously engineered wonder of the Western world.  It’s miswired, misaligned, and mistaken much of the time.  Many charlatans — or psychologists if one prefers — believe that the brain’s first experience, birth, permanently damages it.  Birth is violently traumatic, and both emotionally and physically brutal.  In response to high levels of stress such as this, our brains shoot us up with adrenaline, hydrocortizone, and steroid hormones (glucocorticoids, if you really want to know) which means our first birthday present is that we get to enter the world innocent, healthy, and high as fuck.

– And that’s OK, because if it weren’t for altered states of consciousness, we’d have no genuine experience of this world’s completely random nature at all.

Since we can’t be born every time we want a fresh jolt of reality, we spend the rest of our lives self-medicating.

Holistic medicine the old-fashioned way

The brain operates a crackhouse in our heads, producing such heavy hitters as dopamine, a natural upper which makes us talkative and excitable, endorphin, an anæsthetic which has three times the potency of morphine, and serotonin, a mood enhancer which makes us act and feel like hippies.  Most of the meds recommended by school psy-charlatans for depression or anxiety alter the amount of serotonin produced by the brain.

These mind-altering substances have side effects which can prove worse than the emotional irregularity they medicate, such as violent tendencies, hallucination, depersonalization, derealization, psychosis, phobias, amnesia, and obsessive compulsive disorder — and that’s just for the benzodiazepines.  We don’t hit heart arrhythmia until Eldepryl (™).

Sexual dysfunction and gastrointestinal distress commonly affect patients taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs.  Pop-culture knows this hip family of psychomeds well, which boasts such rock stars as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.  Approximately twenty-two million Americans take these drugs every day, or statistically, every fourteenth American one encounters on the street.

So, the next time you’re shocked at the number of complete assholes you meet in a given day, remember that fourteen percent of America hasn’t taken a shit in four days and hasn’t had an orgasm in months.

Without sex and regularity, anxiety patients feel much better

II.

If the human brain were able to regulate its chemicals, nobody would recommend cooking up meds like Prozac and Paxil.  Since science has proven that many do not, though, society accepts these meds and also allows for a margin of error in prescribing them to healthy people.  Many groups in the United States froth at the mouth over the prevalence of drugs such as these — as well as that of other mind-altering substances, both legal and illegal.

One might as well try to place the entire nation on a single diet as try to stem the amount of self-medication engaged in by Americans, though.  Seventy-two million of us diagnosed ourselves and regularly took some sort of alternative medication in 2002.  The rest of us might not consider ourselves medicating, but we do, of course, and not just the usual Tylenol, Robitussin, and Pepto-Bismol, either.  We purposefully alter our brain chemistry all the time.

Over half the population of the U.S. drinks coffee on a daily basis to take advantage of its stimulant properties.  Sixty-four percent of us drink alcohol, perhaps to counter the tension from all our coffee.  Twenty-two percent of us smoke cigarettes to relax, especially while drinking alcohol or coffee.  Approximately eighteen percent smoke grass.  That’s without even discussing all the more-inventive drugs, such as LSD-6 and MDMA.

In addition to all this we must consider the oceans of so-called “health nuts.”  Fitness fanatics come in various degrees of seriousness and mental stability, from the casual weight-lifter to the manic Olympic triathlete, and nary a one of them considers himself or herself a drug addict.  Nevertheless, the scientific community established long ago that physical exercise heavily affects hormone, endorphin, and serotonin levels, and also that addiction to these natural substances occurs easily, naturally, and predictably in lab rats.

Since these highly addictive endorphins target all the same opiate receptors, 24 Hr. Fitness can be considered the modern American opium den.

Portrait of the American Addict

III.

We certainly do like to fuck with our brains.  Who can blame us, though?  As aforementioned, we’re the inheritors of broken machinery, the unhappy inhabitants of chaotic mental domains which do not even function in the haphazard, unpredictable way they should.  Humans fix things.  When a shoe comes untied, we tie it.  When a brain comes apart, we glue it together with whatever we happen to have on-hand: coffee for fatigue, whiskey for tension, tobacco for anxiety, what-have-you.

When we tinker with our minds, we’re seizing temporary control of our neurochemistry.  We don’t drink alcohol in spite of its tendency to impair our judgment; we drink it precisely because it impairs our judgment, and unlike other mind-altering addictions such as — oh, I don’t know — television, say, we know exactly how our brains will change when we indulge.

Humans have used mind-altering substances since the dawn of time.  Beer, alone, has a documented history going back six-thousand years before Christ.  When we look at our ancestors from so long ago, though, we can’t help but notice that their uses for beer, wine, tobacco, drugs, et cetera extend far beyond self-medication.  Of course, they were used for recreation, but the original use for most of these so-called vices was for creating an appropriate environment for religious and spiritual rituals.

The Greeks drank wine to evoke the ancient god, Dionysus.  The Jewish tradition of the Passover Seder requires four glasses of it per person.  Five-million Hindu sanyasi sadhus smoke hashish to repress their sexual desires and aid their meditation.  Over fifty American Indian tribes practice Peyotism today, a religion centered around ritual use of natural mescaline, which they use to communicate to the dead and to various deities.

These people aren’t balancing their serotonin — they’re putting gods on speed-dial.

Not seeing angels and demons, yet?  Here, drink some more of this.

They're gateway drugs, alright

IV.

These days religions get a bad rap.  Atheists can say the bad reputation of spirituality reflects its failure to cooperate with contemporary Western civilization, sciences, paradigms, and increasingly agnostic peoples.  Religions themselves, however, deserve no animosity.  One cannot judge a philosophy by its misuse.

Religions originally appeared because humans became convinced of evidence alerting them to other beings, other worlds.  Rituals appeared because humans wanted to commune with these other beings, other worlds.  Mind-altering substances proliferated in rituals because they provided sufficient evidence of their usefulness to millions of adults with brains the size of canteloupes.  We no longer use these drinks and drugs to speak with gods, though, because so many people these days seem to think they can do it without spending beer money, and many others don’t think very much of the idea of talking to gods, anyhow.

In other words, lots of boring self-styled “realists” think those other beings, other worlds never existed in the first place.

The funny thing is, everyone on planet Earth believes wholeheartedly in lots of things that don’t exist.  The value of currency, for example, is absolute balderdash.  It is valued for its various markings and symbols which invoke the names of people who lived hundreds of years ago, and which declare mottos and oaths in ancient, dead languages, markings and symbols which cast an enchantment over both buyer and seller, and in this mutual confusion one can purchase an automobile with nothing but decorated scraps of parchment paper.

There is no difference between the purpose of the markings on a dollar bill and that of the markings inscribed within a sorcerer’s sigil, or those upon an altar, or even those upon a WELCOME mat.  We live in a world of our mind’s creation, and everything real to us has been made real by us.

How did we miraculously make reality real?  Easy.  We simply named it that, like we did the table, the chair, and the dust bunny.  “Reality,” we said, “thou shalt be real,” to which so-called reality said in its easygoing way, “Alright,” and that was that.

The unreal didn’t mind being left out at all, though, because all of a sudden, it didn’t exist.

Wait, did you guys see that -- or am I crazy?

V.

So, here we are, then . . .  Nothing is real, and nothing is unreal.  Quite a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into at this point, and we’re very proud of it.  Naturally, we’ve taken the next step and done what any bipedal, cerebrally cortexed hominid would do in this situation: we’ve become ontological agnostics.  We don’t know what truth is, where to find it or how to prove that it’s there, but we believe in it all the same, bumbling about like the decorated surrealities we are, chasing after decorated scraps of parchment paper, and taking turns chastising one another for having faith in decorations.

What arrogant, blustering bastards we all are.

But how can we escape this cycle of idiocy?  How can we step from delusion and credulity into anything but delusion and credulity, if everything we know seems illusory and incredible?

Beer.

Cold, crisp, clean — beer.  And pills.  And smokes.  And coffees, wines, and liquors; buttons, tabs, and capsules.  Strenuous, extended exercise.  Yoga.  Za-zen meditation.  Brutally sorrowful dramas, uproariously hilarious movies.  Bitter, hate-filled debates.  Violence.  Pain.  Exquisite, sin-soaked and passionate pleasure.  The sweetness of selfless generosity lifetimes long, the glorious splendor of victory in competition, the self-righteousness of upbraiding one’s brother for having fallen from grace.  Mind-altering substances, mind-altering experiences.

In a paradoxical word, we can step away from the illusory by taking a break from reality.

In a life where nothing you think real can possibly exist, a world of erratic change and nebulous phantasms, mind-altering substances and experiences offer the most realistic opportunities available to a human.

– But of course, one could just go on as a believer . . .

With a glazed look and a raised glass I remain,

Yours Truly,

-BothEyesShut

Stumble It!

THUWH9S5JMPC

33 Comments

  1. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Beer Glasses Wholesale

    • Dear Beer Glasses,

      Obviously, you searched WordPress for the keyword, beer, and up popped “In a Real World, This Would Be Happening.” Having a product to sell, you commented in order to advertise your wares by posting a small link to your online business. Nothing new, nothing to mention.

      However, the comment you made baffles me, and I like that, so I will keep your bizarre spam on my post, here, as a warning to all other spam artists: “Unless you are inane and spouting at the mouth about wooden skulls on altars, your nonsense will be rejected.”

      Yours Truly,

      -BothEyesShut

  2. The Saintly Altar of the Altered State « In a Real World, This ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    • Dear Mental Disorders 101,

      For the first time I am unable to find a name for the reader I am addressing, so you’ll have to excuse me. “Mental Disorders 101″ will have to do.

      I visited your site. It’s extremely comprehensive and motile. Topics and articles flow through that place like an intersection of rivers — a junction, I suppose.

      I’m honored to have been featured there, Sir or Madam.

      I’m also happy to have had a reason to call someone ‘Madam,’ because it is an antiquated word I don’t get to say much and which I enjoy hearing, because it’s pompous, pretentious, and really pretty funny besides.

      Thank you for stopping by. I intend to do some research on your page later. It’s fecund!

      Yours Truly,

      -Both

  3. Just wanted to say I loved the pics you used–adorable. And a well written post, too!

    • Dear Sadako,

      Thank you so much for stopping to say such nice things.

      The drawings are an experiment of mine, to see how my readers like them in place of the photos I usually sniff out and paste between paragraphs. Honestly, I haven’t expected people to specifically enjoy them, ha ha.

      Thank you for your appreciation of the writing as well. I hope it was none too offensive. I enjoy offending people, but only the ones who typically don’t make it past paragraph one, anyhow. As a friend of mine remarked recently, “Let’s be honest, only the choir listens to the preaching, anyhow.”

      Thank you for reading, and again for the compliments.

      Yours Truly,

      -BothEyes

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Don Eglinski and Aviva O, Edward Craig. Edward Craig said: The Saintly Altar of the Altered State http://su.pr/6KIwNg [...]

  5. I’d like to add an urbane and erudite comment, but my brain is too fuzzled and your post/my comment aren’t real anyway. :-D

    • Dear Rambling Taoist,

      I’m always so glad to see you’ve stopped in. You lend the place an air of respectability which it otherwise must merely attain to (which it otherwise must fake).

      Cheers, Sir. You know you’re welcome here, particularly if its to laugh about the nature of existence with me.

      Yours Truly,

      -Both

  6. BothEyesShut:

    Very well written post and I enjoyed the mental exercise. My ex-wife would have called it, “mental masturbation” and always with a sneer of derision and contempt. Not me! Mental masturbation is sometimes more fun than physical. You have a writing voice and style that fits a blogger. Affected breeziness but really tight. I would guess this took you a long time to write. Well done!

    The challenge I face when considering a post such as yours (I have not yet viewed anything else on your site). . .what shall I call it? Absolute Agnosticism? Dogmatic Skepticism? Is it is not a place I want to long live in.

    Oh, it’s fun to visit, has most of the elements of good humor – exaggeration, parody, absurdity, self-contraction – making it a sly, intellectual “bon mot.”

    But as a philosophy it never seems to go anywhere that I have seen. I mean, once you’ve said it, what is there to do with it?

    I know, I know. You said Beer. Get drunk, high, stoned. But the care and attention you took to write this all out and post it belies your otherwise sage advice.

    So you are left still with my question: If it is “true”, as in an accurate representation of what is, So what? Who cares?

    If this. . .philosophy. . . is true (as in a map of the territory, not reality itself). . .what can you create with it? Does it inspire you write a symphony? Write a novel? Paint a fresco? Write a poem? Love a woman? Care for your child? Find a cure for cancer? Help a little old lady across the street? Give a damn about the pain of the person right beside you?

    Sure, you can decide to do all those things. But your actions will contradict your stated philosophy of the unredeemable fuckedupness of existence.

    At the end of the day, when you are by yourself, what are you left with? What is your experience of you?

    My consciousness may not see the truth, as you so eloquently endeavor to demonstrate, but I know what it perceives. It’s own activities and states. And what it perceives, I cannot deny one ounce of that. It’s what I KNOW because consciousness tells me it’s so. And if consciousness is “wrong” I can never KNOW it. Neither can you.

    “I am” is what I’ve got and part of what I’ve got wants me to do something with what I’ve got that matters. . .but only because I BELIEVE it matters. Yet if I BELIEVE this interpretation of experience you write about, I cannot BELIEVE my actions matter and therefore will be unable to act. To accept your philosophy is to I deny I AM.”

    Or am I wrong?

    If you can both believe what you have written and still believe anything matters, tell me in your next post how you do it. THAT would be a philosophical dissertation worth reading!

    Thanks for the great post. I had fun replying.

    • Dear Mr. Kaye,

      What a polite and considerate letter. How nice it is to have a reader contemplate the things I point out and examine them with me, rather than pausing to smell the roses and wandering off to find some daffodils (a practice I condone of course, and engage in regularly, myself, besides).

      I’ll have to be direct, however, for you’ve stricken several fundamental concepts in the nonsense I do here and it would be a form of hypocrisy to fail to address them; this will take time, and people take little interest in the suggestions of others, so excuse my candor.

      Right, then. From top-to-bottom, Sir:

      In good humor you suggest Absolute Agnosticism as a name for the philosophy underlying the post you read, and that sounds fine by me. I believe humans can’t be wrong in one idea or another until they’ve decided that they are right. Even should one come across a rock-solid argument in one school or another, the world’s a changing place, and every idea can only be correct for the context, for the situation, for the question for which it was proposed. To say an answer is true is to insinuate that it were true completely and eternally, which of course is absurd.

      However, most answers people give have presupposed contexts which are elliptical, as in grammar when words are presumed, like, “Go!” (You, go!). If my girlfriend says the eggs are fresh, she of course only means that it is true that they are fresh for a while, and that her answer has a half-life on it.

      The upshoot of all this is that I’ll never know lots of things. Agnost is Greek for, “I don’t know.” Socrates figured that crap out a looong time ago, and I don’t think I’m going to predicate anything on an Absolute Truth (big A, big T) before I kick off. I’m just some cat in Southern California. People ask me if there’s a God (big G), I would feel pretty damned arrogant to pretend I knew one way or the other, or that I could prove it.

      “So, BothEyes.”

      “Yes?”

      “Is there a God?”

      “I don’t know.”

      So yeah. Absolute agnosticism works swell. Moving right along . . .

      You say that as a philosophy it goes nowhere.

      This is true and not-true from my perspective, and is therefore in agreement with life, the universe, and everything, because as far as I can tell, everything I’ve ever seen, heard, experienced, read, or thought about has been both true and not-true, depending on one’s perspective. The difference between West and East, of course, is in a matter of degrees. They are merely measures of the same thing, not opposites.

      I realize what a can of worms that supposition opens. And I leave it to you — there you go — because it’s too broad a digression for right now.

      Yes, the philosophy goes nowhere. It’s not suggesting a plan of action, exposing a deeper, clearer Truth (big T) or doing anything at all to improve the qualities of one’s life. Even if the piece were to convince a sufferer of manic depression to change his or her medication, it would be this act, not necessarily my ideas, which would induce any beneficial healing (or harm, which is fun to think about).

      The universe does not appear to have anywhere to go, however. It doesn’t seem to have an agenda. Its molecules are breaking down, its waves are stringing themselves all across it like spiderwebs on clotheslines, and the whole mess is continually turning inside-out like the convection currents in boiling water. Oh, and it’s also popping in-and-out of time like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse 5. In spite of all this, super-emergent patterns build, and build, and build from the perspective of the human race, and this is how we get stable traffic systems, dependable languages, and iPhones.

      So as far as I can tell, this directionless nature of the universe (which certainly includes me, bytheway) is just as natural as a berry off a bush, and that can’t be a bad thing. In fact, nature doesn’t even seem to know what “bad” is. Bad is a strictly human concept, based on standards of conduct which I do not believe in. If “directionless” is not so bad, then, we are left to contend with merely “meaningless,” and that’s not hard.

      You mention later that I sound as though denial of the great “I” were necessary, or a consequence of the above ideas.

      I strenuously emphasize: no.

      In fact, the Will (big W) is the one thing we all can count on, the one certainty. So long as a person can reflect from a steady, static point of view, one exists (or at least is thinking) and this point of view not only can, but indeed must be taken on faith in order for any reasonable thought to spin out from it.

      That’s right, I used the F word.

      Christians love talking to me at bars on this topic, and I enjoy making them happy, because their evangelical interactions with the secular world must be very uncomfortable most of the time. They love to hear me tell them what I profess now and feel as certain about as much as I can feel certain about anything, which is that faith is the basis of all thought, all questioning, all belief, all denial, all challenge, all proof, all ontology — everything, everything, everything, Sir.

      I’m even open-minded on the metaphysical idea that merely conceiving of a thing pops it into existence somehow, or causes it to manifest at some rudimentary level or another, but this really is a digression, so nevermind.

      I can now answer the question I began to address, though, that of “meaninglessness.”

      If you’re the hub of your existence, or at the very fucking least the hub of your own consciousness, your perception, then when you say to me,

      “Is the universe meaningless? Is life meaningless?”

      I’m inclined to reply, “I don’t know. Do you like mustard dogs?”

      “Mustard dogs? What?”

      “Mustard dogs. I think they’re a dollar at Weinerschnitzel right now, and they’re good. I like them.”

      I feel it’s a self-answering question, what’s the purpose of life. I don’t know — why aren’t you dead, yet? There’s a thousand opportunities where I live to simply step into traffic or off a bridge, but people don’t. Maybe they like mustard dogs.

      Or, there’s a famous story about this philosophy professor who is discouraging the practice of existentialism. At one point, a student yells, “But how can you prove that I’m here? How do I know I even exist?”

      — To which the professor replies, “Whom should I say is asking?”

      That, I realize, is a cowardly cop-out for anyone who really just wants a fucking parcel of Truth (big T) not this dodgy, do-it-yourself existence I’m exploring with you, but the universe seems haphazard and dodgy to me, and since it’s a principle which rings true to me universally (sometimes called the SNAFU principle: situation normal, all fucked up) I feel confident that there won’t be too many contradictions in it. Even if there are, they’d be like polka dots on a nice dress, not deal-breaking disproofs.

      To do a little last-second cleanup:

      1. At the end of the day, I do not believe “by yourself” is possible; to feel alone in the universe seems to lack much perspective, sort of like how people still think of the stars as “up,” rather than “out.”

      2. To concern oneself with whether or not life itself matters is inherently degrading. I believe that the most appropriate response to, “What if this life doesn’t matter?” is a hearty and heartfelt, “Go fuck yourself.” Why? Because I like mustard dogs, that’s why.

      3. Inspiration happens all the time. It is up to the spectator to say, “Hey I like this, I’m going to make it more conspicuous by painting it” (or building it, or writing it, or whatever). The meaning of life isn’t an inspiration. Inspiration is the act of change in the universe, the gestating future coming out of rank bovine fertilizer, all the time. Inspiration is a rotting carcass beside the highway. The birth of the child is a dismemberment to the mother. The meaninglessness of existence, were it so for a person, would not change for an instant the processes in which we are embroiled, cutting down, smashing up, collecting, ingesting, changing, organizing, growing… Inspiration, baby. Yep.

      And that’s all you get, Sir! That’s all! This would have been much easier over beer, but beer downloads too slowly for my tastes and is therefore impractical.

      Thank you again for such a thoughtful, polite letter. I consider it a sort of ornament which looks fantastic on my wall, here.

      I hope that I was able to discuss all the things you took interest in, but I can tell you now, each of these questions deserves an entire college course devoted to them, and were described here roughly, brusquely, and maybe even tactlessly — but that’s OK, too. I’ve always cleaved toward beer rather than wine, because while etiquette is one thing, pretension is quite another.

      Sir, you do me much honor and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this correspondence. Should you find yourself with an excess of time…

      Do be in touch.

      Yours Truly,

      -Both

      • And thank you once again, BothEyes, for another clever, thoughtful read. But really, I don’t think we’re supposed to be exchanging thoughtful, well-considered (and polite) comments to one another. From my experience, by now one of us should be calling the other a nazi, an idiot, an ignorant fundamentalist or a f**king atheist!

        Hope I’m not disappointing you when I say I thought the “Do you like mustard dogs?” riff was both clever and to the point.

        I would like to comment more, but I’m pressed for time today. I’ll check back soon.

        P.S. Have you read Scott Adam’s “God’s Debris”?

      • Hello Again Mr. Kaye,

        Thanks again for all the thoughtful compliments. Who knows? Maybe we’ll start a trend of assumed mutual respect throughout the Internet. One can dream.

        I have not read God’s Debris, nor had I heard of it, but the short Wiki I read about it explains the premise of the book, or at least the setting, and I actually have been espousing that basic description of God (big G) since the age of twenty or so.

        I figured that if a god had to have all strength, all knowledge, and all space-and-time, then no diminishing could be allowed. Of course that meant that everything conceivable had to be literally composed of god, and all the things going on in it had to be machinations within it. When I learned that this is the exact reason why the ancient Jewish mystics forbade the use of the Holy Unspeakable Name of God and dubbed him Ein Sof, the unknowable, inscrutable source of everything, my respect for The Book came back in spades.

        That’s when I started really thinking for myself on such matters.

        So . . . At your leisure, Sir. I’m not going anywhere.

        Yours Truly,

        -Both

        P.S. — I’ve been to your own site since last writing you, and I see you have motivations as well as interests, ha ha, which you’ve probably presumed me to realize all along. I mention it only to say that I read a medical study a week or two ago which showed that regular orgasms may deplete the brain of its normal reserves of serotonin, which can perhaps lead to depression, alcoholism, all sorts of horrible things. I tried like hell to find it for you, but alas! The study would look good on your page, though, non?

      • God’s Debris is one of my favorite books! I’ve read it two or three times.

      • Really? I was interested before, but now I’m positively intrigued.

        — And it’s written by the Dilbert creator, I think, a rather unlikely source of cosmology.

        Have you been following this discussion, R.T.? We may find ourselves in need of additional balance after a few more comments. I’m somewhat surprised that no one else has arrived as an interloper. This sort of thing drives people positively mad.

        It’s amazing how much half-cocked frustration one can mitigate with a few college-boy words and some gentlemanly conduct. Someone’s going to walk in here spitting napalm any second, though. I can just feel it building.

        Good thing the comments button is small.

        -Both

      • BothEyes,

        I’m sure you will be pleased that I have re-read your reply to me. There is much grist for the mill therein.

        At this time I wish to recommend the book, “The Pilgrim’s Regress” by C.S. Lewis. It’s a wonderful allegory of the intellectual journey Lewis took from belief to atheism to agnosticism to pantheism-mysticism to theism to Christianity. I especially enjoy the passage wherein the Valkyrie Reason challenges the giant Spirit of the Age regarding the color of things in the dark and the boomerang effect of the wish-fulfillment fantasy.

        Also, a note about Scott Adams’ book, “God’s Debris”. Although it is an intriguing thought experiment and a couple of your ideas are developed or at least advocated in it, there are a number of very interesting posts which offer strong, cogent challenges to it, both on philosophy and science. As dilettantes on both subjects (I make a bold assumption about you), we must always remember real science, real philosophy is hard work.

        And. . .

        Yes, I like mustard dogs, too. And once we have successfully reasoned ourselves to that Truth (yes, capital “T”) it is amazing how much more Truth we can see. In fact, life becomes full of Truth – obvious for the seeing eye to see.

        I wonder if the Blog Police will be coming after me, perhaps issuing a warrant for my arrest for excessive commenting on a single post. If so, I will exercise my right NOT to remain silent.

        Tom K.

      • Dear Tom,

        Ah, that’s much studying for me. I’ll have to respond on the topic of C.S. Lewis (whom I greatly respect) and God’s Debris after having read up on them concerning our discussion, here.

        My favorite thing about Truth (big T, ha ha) is its way of falling together instead of apart. Once enough of the puzzle is in focus, ideas which have an improbability of fitting seem obviously out-of-place. It was much more difficult before I had any background in world religions and philosophies.

        As for commenting too much in a single thread, oh, I happen to be constable of these parts. I’ve issued a pardon on our behalf here, ha ha.

        I’m looking forward to continuing this. Going to check out these books, first. I’m not looking forward to the C.S. Lewis, though, I admit. Who enjoys researching the work of a man who professes, “Ah, yes; I’ve been there, before. I know what you’re going through. You’ll understand when you grow up (pat on the head, tousle of the hair).”?

        I’ll get back to you soon, Sir.

        Good to hear from you.

        Yours Truly,

        -Both

  7. Ah, to have but an ounce of your diligence and work. What interesting facts and what marvellous way you have of articulating them into a clear message.
    Thank you

    Yours
    Monotony

    • Dear Monotony,

      How nice to see you! Your compliments made me smile, Sir or Madam. Isn’t it nice to have that kind of power? Anyhow, you’re very kind; it’s good of you to stop to pay respects.

      As far as diligence is concerned, it seems to me that you’re the more prolific. You write every day, n’est-ce pas? I try my hardest to publish fortnightly. It’s very difficult, you know.

      It makes me happy to find you here, Monotony. You look good on this place, so-to-speak, ha ha.

      Yours Truly,

      -BothEyes

  8. Both,

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll search for it myself as well. I consider myself very fortunate to live in this day and age of the internet wherein the results of good, quality research are only the click of a mouse away. I don’t think any of us can possibly have the slightest inkling of the literally (not metaphorically or poetically) infinite permutations that will manifest themselves in the years to come because of this. . .sea? Ocean? Solar system? Galaxy? of knowledge in which we each can immerse ourselves.

    For myself, I travel infinity in my mind but always endeavor to keep at least two feet in the reality I share with every other body on this planet. One reason, I prefer the sanity of shared reality to its opposite. Another reason, tied to the first, it’s lonely out there!

    It’s one think to doubt reality while spanking your amygdala faster and faster and faster. . .chasing that hormone high that comes from filling your brain with fantastic ideations never conceived before. it’s another to think that hot, sexy hypothesis really loves you and cares about you and wants to stare naked into the Void with you for all eternity. She doesn’t. Just like a porn star, she doesn’t even know you exist.

    Eventually, reality returns. Post coitum omne animal triste est > “After intercourse every animal is sad.”

    So the question for me becomes, “Will I respect myself in the morning?”

    I want to. It’s important. It’s what my “I AM” desires. And that is a Truth I cannot deny.

    Tom

    P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog. Quite different from this, isn’t it?
    It’s part of respecting myself in the morning. Look at all the s**t we men cause ourselves when we don’t know how to harness and direct (but never control, I don’t believe) our lust. How many problems does an unrestrained pecker cause a man? From Bill Clinton to Jimmy Swaggart to Elliot Spitzer to all those lawyers at the SEC. When it comes to our lust, we men are like a circus of fools! LOL!!

    • Dear Mr. Kaye,

      My reason intuits that there can be nothing evolved as a consequent that was not involved in the antecedent. More succinctly, an apple cannot have more attributes than the apple tree from which it fell. Anything the apple accomplishes, even genetic mutations, have their roots in that damned tree, if you’ll pardon the pun.

      So your gentle suggestion of an actual, personal god-thing does not sound as detestable to me as my last, ostensibly hedonistic post may have inferred. The way I look at it, if I have a personality, then the universe has a personality — even if that personality is only the sum of human awareness. I find no logical presumption in the idea that humanity forms the so-called conscious portion of the universe, or of a god should one prefer. I can also, therefore, not only believe in the loving, nurturing parental figure you describe, but interact with him/her/it just as I can the apple on my desk, here.

      Ah, god as an apple . . . Fascinating! If God (big G) were the serpent’s apple in Genesis, the fruit of the tree of knowledge, imagine the myriad possible interpretations.

      If my readers find this, there may really be a row, ha ha. I think they believe I’m an atheist cynic disguised as a serendipitous thinker.

      Cheers, Gentlemen.

      -Both

      • Both,

        A direct reply to: “If my readers find this, there may really be a row, ha ha. I think they believe I’m an atheist cynic disguised as a serendipitous thinker.”

        There is a saying: Scratch a cynic and you find a romantic. Scratch an angry man and you uncover a wounded child. To which I add, scratch an true agnostic (and not just a lazy thinker) and you find. . .a seeker.

        Ah, but what a dry, shriveled word, seeker. There must be a better word for one who looks out into the vastness or inward to the limitless reaches of imagination, whose heart then cries out for connection, cries out to be swaddled within and by the Infinite!

        Any suggestions?

        I remain,

        Tom K.

      • Oh, Tom, how dare you, ha ha.

        Thank you for attempting to diminish the connotations of the term, ‘seeker,’ but seeker implies a thing sought. I don’t know myself as well as the world around me does, but I do think that I’ve found all the meaning in life necessary for a beneficial, loving life. I’m merely polishing the treasures I was taught to believe were stored-up in heaven, and which now decorate my living room. Hell, I’m not even looking for more treasures; I’m looking for ever-more-subtle beauties to appreciate in the ones I’ve found. Their attributes seem infinite.

        Can’t blame you for seeing it that way, though. Besides, it’s a nice thing to say about someone. I can deal with ‘seeker’ if I have to, ha ha.

        Usually the sentiment comes packaged like this:

        “Oh, you have such nice eyes . . . But I can tell there’s something missing in your life.”

        There’s nothing creepier than that old stuff. Whatever’s missing from the perspective of those zealots is nothing I’d purposefully seek.

        I realize you haven’t said anything like this. Your good-natured Christian optimism on my behalf translates differently on this end of the telephone wire, of course, that’s all.

        Cheers!

        -Both

  9. Oh for more time to indulge oneself in inspiring yet genteel conversation! i must fly but remain yours,

    Tom Kaye

  10. Both,

    Thank you for not taking offense at my “seeker” comment. None was intended. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to your use of the term “serendipitous thinker”. Wiki describes it as “the propensity to make fortuitous discoveries while looking for something else.”

    But the word ‘seeker’ is a loaded word, which is why I asked for suggestions. God is infinite, how can I say ‘I have found Him.” Yet He, all of him, is contained in the a grain of sand and He is not cramped. The smallest creature may say, “It is for me He came down and for me He died,” and speaks the truth unadulterated.

    Yes, I know the feelings whereof you speak, of “looking for ever-more-subtle beauties to appreciate in the ones I’ve found”. And do you know the experience of longing to be see still more? of crying out with Goethe for “Mehr licht!” “More light!”?

    Check out this long link: http://books.google.com/books?id=nzsLqVdKMXIC&pg=RA1-PA186&lpg=RA1-PA186&dq=perelandra+let+no+mouth+open+to+gainsay+it&source=bl&ots=m5lSxSvwsB&sig=2z0sSBjabpUGRnPbcVI7BaituMo&hl=en&ei=YzDzS-WaCYnUsgOTnfiADA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Start at the paragraph beginning “In the plan of the Great Dance. . .” One of the most amazing soliloquies I have ever read. And with apologies, it is C.S. Lewis!

    Thanks for allowing me to post.

    To you, sir,

    Tom K.

    • Dear Tom,

      Of course you’re more than welcome to help me make this thread a mile long, should you like. Think nothing of it.

      Your quoting the denotation of “serendipity” made me chuckle; I had not realized that last phrase, “while looking for something else.” I consider it to mean a capacity for stumbling upon things, ha ha. Very fortuitous that it should infer a seeker of some sort, indeed!

      Funny.

      So, now I want to read the Space Trilogy. Gee, thanks.

      As far as Goethe goes (those words look nice together, don’t they) no, I do not go in for that sort of headlong pursuit of oblivion.

      From Zen Buddhism I learned that there are two ways to be rich: make more, or desire less. One makes one perpetually greedy, the other, exponentially wealthy. Easy choice. Not very Southern Californian of me, though.

      Yours Truly,

      -BothEyesShut

      • Quoting you:

        “From Zen Buddhism I learned that there are two ways to be rich: make more, or desire less. One makes one perpetually greedy, the other, exponentially wealthy. Easy choice.”

        May I say you, had she been reading this you would have instantly won the heart of my bride of nearly three years with that line! She is, proud and loud, a frugalist; a lover of simple living. Whereas my ex-wife put me into bankruptcy my new wife has created for me something I never before had in my life: a savings account! Why if we had a windmill in our back yard and solar panels on our roof she would think she lived in Heaven!

        Regarding Goethe, I confess, I know very little about his philosophy and of his literature only Faust. Of course these days they are trying to revise him into a homosexual! I had a German teacher who said the main reason she moved to Germany and learned German was to study Goethe in the original. It made me curious to know more but, alas, I did not follow through.

        As a classical humanist with no settled faith in established religion, it seems natural to me that he would often fluctuate between hope and despair. With men such as he I try to find the oldest of their writings to judge their most mature positions.

        Old age and death have a way of focusing the mind.

        Yours,

        Tom

  11. The yin and yang of reality perceptions or how to enjoy your own mental mess!

    I just came up with a new headline for this post…

    This is my perception of this post. Behind your writing style which is a delight, behind my own perceptions of reality influenced by my mental hallucinations, I want to thank you for picturing our hygienic society with such a splendor and realism.

    Your analysis has the merit to make us think about our own hallucinations and how we define our reality. Choosing our reality is very positive. However, convincing others that our perceptions of reality is the reality demonstrates our human tendency for megalomania.

    Thank you for this very enlightening post!

    • Dear Steve,

      How nice! Thank you for the thoughtful compliments; I’m delighted that a writer from your particular perspectives and personal aims thinks well of what I do here.

      Poisonally speaking, I’m not afraid of megalomania. I know I’m the center of my universe, and I think there’s no center of the universe. What’s tough for many people, I think, is concurrently remembering that everyone else is the center of their own, and that all these improbable surrealities affect one another like comedians inducing laughter from a crowd.

      Though I realize you are merely being polite, do take care not to consider this place too enlightening, Sir, as I dubiously learned everything I write about from books.

      You do me much honor; thank you for reading. Your presence increases the classiness of this establishment.

      Yours Truly,

      -Both

      • Dear BothEyesShut,

        Yes indeed I consider this place very enlightening! And I want to explain you why.

        Your posts often give me an opportunity to question and ponder my beliefs by exploring different perspectives and ideas. However, behind these serious considerations, you paint our society with a sense of humor and lightness that is refreshing.

        Please consider my comments as an expression of spontaneity; I’m not merely polite ;-)

        Thanks for sharing

        -Steve

      • Dear Steve,

        Fucking delightful, Sir, absolutely delightful. Your spontaneous expression delights my heart.

        Cheers! Pleasant Days!

        -Both

  12. I read the post, got sucked into the comments, had quite ride between you and Tom, slightly jolting but not in a wood rollercoaster kind of way. Then it ended with a whoosh on Steve. He is right, your sense of humor on society is refreshing. What a ride!

    I’m not sure if I should thank you or ask you for some mind altering substances. HA.

    What I remember the most from this post….
    ‘What arrogant, blustering bastards we all are.’

    • Dear Ms. Sims,

      There’s nothing like a swell conversation with interesting people. When I began publishing my work online in “In a Real World…” I could not have known how many truly excellent minds wander in their off-hours looking for something thought-provoking to enjoin. My faith in humanity has redoubled since having corresponded with people like Tom, Steve, and the Rambling Taoist (whose real name I regrettably forget at the moment).

      The marvelous thing is that so many people stop to talk, people such as yourself. It isn’t done in open society, anymore (and in Los Angeles where I live, that’s probably a good thing) but having intelligent dialogue here teaches me much more than I can learn by reading, alone. The variety of cultures represented here allows very perpendicular perspectives to communicate, and for some reason, the subject matter I discuss seems to pacify people more often than it galvanizes them to confrontation.

      Poisonally, I like the line you quoted better than any other in the “Saintly Altar…” piece. It feels good to read it, to think about and comprehend it, like a cathartic sort of irreligious confessional. Sometimes I think to myself that I might not be so arrogant if I stopped being so blustering, but these thoughts never tarry long because there’s some streak of punk rock music left in me that likes being a bastard.

      Thank you very much for saying such nice things. I like seeing that you’ve been around.

      Cheers!

      Yours Truly,

      -Both


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