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THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES - v.1, #11 (May/15/02)

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  • Lewis Vella
    THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES A Philosophical(?)View from Scratch Volume 1, #11 _________________________________________________ MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK: Abysis
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2002

      'A Philosophical(?)View from Scratch'
      Volume 1, #11

      MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK: Abysis Projects
      In the previous Special McNugget Issue I featured an
      excerpt from Andre Gorz's 'Ecology as Politics'. What
      should be reiterated about his view, I believe, is
      that any eco-political stance, however good its
      intentions, cannot in itself solve our most serious
      problems if it does not address the leading culprit,
      that being a growth-oriented economy, be it based in
      either a capitalistic or socialistic structure. Until
      this type of economy stops dominating modern society
      as a whole, no amount of repair or replenishment of
      the environment will suffice. Simply put, expansion
      cannot go on forever. Whether imposed by man's own
      decision or by nature's limitations, a growth-oriented
      economy must eventually come to an end, and if we wait
      for the latter, more than likely, we shall end with
      it. What is needed now is a fundamental change in
      ideology, an understanding which will foster the
      making of self-contained societies that can subsist
      with neither the exploitation of man nor that of the
      earth. Mere political battles fought over whether a
      certain rainforest should be torn down or not, is not
      going to do much in terms of solving the overall
      dilemma. In fact, by over-emphasizing any particular
      ecological issue, at the expense of failing to derive
      a workable synthesis of our existence, the prevailing
      understanding of society will remain so biased that it
      will continue ceaselessly to accept and promote the
      unethical practices inherent in growth-oriented
      economies, instead of working together to overcome
      them, which we, as rational humans, should be capable
      of doing.

      What is most important nowadays, I think, is that we
      do not lose our individual selves to any of the
      various specialized sectors that are required of
      modern society, but rather that we maintain our
      individual freedom within the infrastructure, that is
      by continuously questioning our place in it, and how
      the status quo affects not only our present individual
      and collective liberties but our future ones as well.
      This means when surveying a growth-oriented economy,
      we must not only consider its ecological issues, but
      also the more immediate affects on human nature
      itself. For man is not only a creature of reason, he
      also has a transcendent element which he needs to
      remain in touch with. If he loses that, the resulting
      intrinsic harm done to his faculties will outweigh any
      of the good he derives by reason alone. To recall Karl
      Jaspers in 'Way to Wisdom': "Man as an empirical
      existent in the world is a knowable object. For
      example: ethnology apprehends him in diverse racial
      types, psychoanalysis apprehends him in his
      unconscious and its workings, Marxism as a living
      creature producing by his labour, who by production
      dominates nature and achieves social progress, and who
      can ostensibly achieve perfection in both these
      (Note: should you delete the word 'Marxism' from the
      passage which was written by Jaspers in '51, you can
      almost use these same ideals and apply them to what
      the 'Global Capitalism' and its powers that be would
      like the rest of the world to believe in now, that
      being that the technocratic state, with all its
      departments of knowledge, shall forever improve the
      ecological relationship with our means of production,
      thereby allowing us more and more social progress. For
      such believe brushes aside the most important question
      of how this stabilization is to be achieved, when this
      growth-oriented economy of ours is dependent on many
      of the earth's dwindling resources which, presently,
      are being irreparably damaged, drained, or permanently
      destroyed, never ever to be regained. Rather
      conveniently, too, it seems this contrived onus of
      placing long-term responsibility on the established
      other -- the technocratic state whose dominating
      concerns favors immediate profits first -- relieves
      the common man of his burden, allowing his daily life
      to go on hardly disturbed, though not simply because
      the problem is not his immediate concern, but rather
      because it is to be left virtually out of his reach.)
      "Yet," to continue with Jaspers, "all such departments
      of knowledge apprehend something about man, some
      process which actually takes place, but never man as a
      whole. When these methods of inquiry lay claim to to
      absolute knowledge of the whole man -- and this they
      have all done -- they lose sight of the real man and
      go far toward extinguishing their proponent's
      consciousness of man and even their own humanity, the
      humanity which is freedom and relation to God."

      This neglect of the whole, I think, is the world's
      biggest problem today, and it seems to only get worse
      in our pluralistic society, wherein anything goes as
      long as it remains within the restraints of secular
      law and order -- a tendency which now seems to serve
      more the interests of the growth-oriented economy than
      the individual, leaving the problem of personal
      identity to oneself or some private institutions. The
      net result of this lack of free independent
      development integrating with society, is that people
      divest themselves of their uniqueness, preferring,
      instead, to conform to the seemingly proven standard
      ways to success. However, because these are strictly
      quantifiable, goal-oriented successes, they again will
      lack the adequate synthesis required to fulfill most
      people, leaving us with the kind of empty 'success
      stories' I described in the previous TIMES.

      An interesting discussion of how the marketplace
      presently shapes and possibly alienates our everyday
      life-world is presently in progress on the Sartre
      I should like to clarify that in my lambaste of
      stand-up comedy, I was reflecting on the making of the
      current popular commercial genre by yet another
      service industry gone to excess. The result being a
      packaged product dished out to the masses in greater
      and greater variety, but less and less substantial
      content. All of which no longer makes me laugh or even
      engages my interest, basically because even if
      something remotely funny should be conceived in it, it
      is at once lost in the overly-staged delivery and
      reception. In no way were my comments intended to be
      taken as an attack on anything genuinely funny, as C.
      Bobo obviously took them, that is to have stated that
      I reminded him of a fictional character who, as a
      result of some mal-adjusted rationality, would rather
      destroy the world than to accept the idea that wisdom
      presupposes the ability to appreciate humor:

      Indeed, when we observe the mundane and ordinary we
      find a lot more there that is funny, and in such a
      greater way, than most anything intended to make us
      laugh. For instance, to watch the wind blow away
      someone's hat from within the owner's reach,
      repeatedly and without mercy, this, to me, outweighs
      comically any possible contrived punch line. To tap
      into this type of eternal humor, and present it with
      some kind of original, authentic twist, however,
      requires a level of genius which may even be
      impossible to retain once it has been reached.
      Arguably, we find this in the art of Charlie Chaplin,
      some of the great comedy teams that followed him, and,
      more recently, perhaps in the early films of Woody
      Allan, who, incidentally, I've been told, names
      Schopenhauer as one of his influences.

      Of course, there is also the tragic element in comedy,
      which, in the last century, made a definitive entrance
      in the theater of the absurd, such as in the works of
      Ionesco and Beckett -- an excellent essay on 'Waiting
      for Godot', by Michael Sinclair, can be read at the
      link below:
      Yet, as art and life at a certain level always crosses
      over each other, we need only, at any time, take a
      closer look amongst us, to dare witness the
      tragic-comic side of humanity:

      The sometimes-irksome, sometimes-welcomed hoot, snort,
      chuckle, chortle, guffaw, or burst into hysterics
      leads us to the question: Why laughter? To relieve
      the pain, maybe? Perhaps. But that, ultimately,
      carries us to the more serious proposition: To Laugh
      or Not to Laugh?:
      My so-called "trip to the porn house", or, at least,
      the previous TIMES issue that featured it, might have
      since spawned two thoughtful threads. First, from the
      Nietzsche List at the Spoon Collective:
      Second, from the CreativeGarh list owner, Arun, and
      myself, after the TIMES was not approved for
      distribution on the alleged "SEX-FREE FORUM", which
      lists 963 members and claims to provide a platform for
      creative people to inform of, display, discuss, and
      sell ideas and creative services/talent to each other:

      Copyright: 2002 Lewis Vella

      is registered trademark of the author/publisher, Lewis
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