Monthly Archives: November 2007

The Final Stretch

I have about 2 weeks left of class/finals; I get home on the 14th of December. I could be off by a day or two, though.

This is going to be a very unpleasant weekend and following week, considering that I have 2 essays to finish, a book to read, and one exam to take. I thought it was two exams, but I just realized that the exam is on the following Monday. So now that I think about it, next weekend is going to be miserable as well.

But then a sweet, sweet 6 week break.

Expect updating to continue to be sparse until then.

Quote of the Day

“Now at last we can grasp clearly the definition which we gave earlier of the body in its being-for-us: the body is the contingent form which is taken up by the necessity of my contingency.” – Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness

Ah yes, clearly. So clear now. Fuck you, Sartre.

The Blackwater Massacre of September 16th

We’d do well to remember the date September 16, 2007 in our future chronologies of the so-called “war” in Iraq. Stretched beyond what we could handle or maybe just for monetary considerations, the US decided to hire mercenaries, and events like the Blackwater Massacre of September 16th is what we get.

Read the first sentence of this New York Times article and then we’ll translate it into plain English: “Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.”

These mercenaries murdered Iraqi civilians. “Violated deadly-force rules”? Wow, what an interesting way of putting it.

Of course, that’s not the worst part of it. They might even get away with it. Again, I refer to the Times article: “Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek indictments, and some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing.” We don’t have any laws to punish these guys?

The laws we do have are later described as “deficient” by Mr. Price, who is quoted in the article, but the term deficient is laughable. It doesn’t capture the intent of hiring the mercenaries. Creating legal black holes has been the modus operandi of the Bush administration. The Bush administration tortures and gets away with it. The Bush administration gets telecoms to eavesdrop on people and Congress lets these telecoms get off free. The laws are deficient for two reasons: One, the Bush administration doesn’t care about the rule of law, and two, Congress has cowardly abdicated its role as a check on the executive branch.

When these mercenaries get off with maybe a slap on the wrist, we’ll see the same damn old story about how the Democrats spoke their bravest and tried their darnedest, but just fell short. This will be a lie. At this point, the Democrats have revealed that they are complicit, active agents in the undermining of the rule of law. This will be further revealed with the Blackwater Massacre of September 16th.

We will look to September 16th in history as another black mark in this despicable age.

[Note on the word massacre: Some may consider it too harsh, but we have called lesser events massacres in American history (see Paul Revere). Futhermore, what else do you propose we call a slaughter of innocent civilians?]

Modernity and Alienation

Geeze, I never thought I’d write that title and not think of it as complete bullshit. But now that I’m starting to see the other side of the picture, in my class on the Scientific Revolution, I’m starting to understand that alienation. The pre-modern world is less mechanistic, less cold — more connected, more symbolic, more sacred.

At the end of my experiment with religious faith, I started piecing out a more Hegelian conception of God. He was the grand pattern, that emerged partly from the meaning we imbued in the universe. It was a god that slowly came to awareness, rather than some omniscient being above us all. However, in the end, I saw no pattern encompassing it all; I saw chaos. There was no greater meaning in the universe.

Humans are alone and disconnected. For some, consciousness is even a convenient illusion. Love is just chemical reactions. It is a cold, indifferent universe. What solace can humans find? This is one source of alienation, but it stretches further.

In the university, I’m disconnected from the community at large. I feel no sense of community with the surrounding city, or even with my fellow classmates. Atomization is a fundamental feature of human existence in the modern age.

Even in my studies, I feel alienated from history and the texts I study. I write my essays, but I don’t really engage with ideas. I am a commentator removed from the actual fray. My essays are meaningless, read once and tossed away.

The atheistic, secular, scientific worldview is a worldview alienated from the world around us, but it doesn’t have to be. We can add myth, I think. I mean, sure we can find meaning in our family life and in politics, but I still feel something missing. I need more of the sacred in my life. I need stories that help me understand that world. I don’t need god or the supernatural, but I want myth.

Truth beyond what’s written on paper. Useful ways of expressing things that can’t be expressed conventionally. Meaning requires something transcendent, something sacred. Truth is so much more complicated than what we give it credit for. Myth can lack any basis in literal reality, but still be true. It doesn’t even have to be a purely practical, or instrumental truth. No, I’m not sure what to call it, but you can invent myths and know that they’re invented, but still know that they have some truth. You can imbue the myths with meaning.

I don’t believe that religion will ever disappear. It will adapt. Even if you kill faith, you can’t kill the sacred. There’s something basic and human that science, literature, and politics can’t fully capture.

Sorry for being slightly esoteric, unclear, and rambling. I wrote this more for me, to get something down which I’m just beginning to grasp.