Saturday, October 22, 2011

A case against God is only as good as the God it seeks to demolish.
#TS33 prompts: The Apocalypse, an odd couple, a tea towel.

* At the World's end, God and Devil sit for a cup of *chai* and the tea towel is lifted in the celebration of a game well played

* The post-apocalyptic chaos theorists wd have no clue that it all began in the moment of a surreptitious kiss in a Victorian tea party 

#TS34 prompts: An animal celebrity, self flagellation and a flower.

* Tormented again by her sinful urges, the priestess-under-vow scattered petals at the feet of snake goddess and reached for her whip

#TS35 prompts: Soondhi (the earthen smell after the rain), doubt, a girl kicking and a Karachi bus

* The soondhi fragrance of that kicking screaming girl lurched the hijacker's heart, and he knew sans doubt that he had fallen hostage

* Dear Kicking-Girl. I doubt u remember me. But on my way to Karachi again, in this bus, the weather all soondhi, u r all I can remember

* A poem kicks my mind once more: it shall marry my doubts to your soondhi love, and set them off to their honeymoon in Karachi

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#TS31 prompt: a barge, a deck of cards, and an itinerant musician. 

* He played all the cards right, even sang like UB40 on the rocky boat, but the unseduced Queen of Hearts left with just a friendly peck

* His life was shuffled like a deck of cards; it was impossible to stick togther so on a ferry he blew apart with one last song: 'Allah-o-Akbar!' 

#TS32 prompts: Breathless Dragon, Comb, Little Black Book, Cat's Paw. 

* She combed breathlessly through his moleskine - heisted with feline grace - and she fell in love again with the man she thought was dead

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Faiza Hameed: "A 2nd year ICS girl shot inside the overhead bridge in front of KC today. The guy who shot her killed himself too. Consider the reaction of people to the above:
"Affair ho ga na!"
"Us larki ne khud he bulaaya ho ga usko."
"Isi liye parents jaldi shaadyaan kar detey hain aisi larkion ki!'
And I'm reminded of your article published in Us a while back. The one that talked about the dynamics that surrounds a girl's honor and related morality issues here. Forget the fact that a life was cut short so early by something so traumatic. Her education, a career, a prospective future all swished down the drain cause the hands of justice are tied and people can just put a bullet through someone whenever they want. Forget the fact that bystanders in news footage can be seen callously recording videos and taking pictures of the dead bodies. People just need someone to tie the scandal-ringing bell on. And if it's a girl, all the better!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

My tweet-length short stories from twitter, following the #TS30 tag which had the theme of  'an infection, an interminable conflict, a flash.'

* The old doctor mastered the art of picking early signs of STDs in the internet porn he consumed, till he went blind from neurosyphilis

* their love flowed like rice-water diarrhea; their silence froze like cold war; their unnoticed end too flashy for a public display.

* Her fist smashed the camera just as it flashed, the image of her dermatitis-inflicted face vaporized in digital limbo; 'Fuckin paparazzi'

* Ironically, it was the driest of their make up kisses that gave her Mono; their damper osculations, rife with conflict, had been safe.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Iris: I have been thinking about existential nihilism for quite some time (especially your post). But questions do not cease and there still does not seem to be any clarity. Tell me, when does one say something is self-defeating? For something to be self-defeating, must it not have a purpose to start with? If so, it is clear that nihilism does not have any purpose, and like you say even annihilation does not work. Nihilism's 'everything is meaningless' motto is a mere statement; one without a purpose/aim. Then how can it be self-defeating? I am only thinking in terms of destruction and chaos that naturally ensues from its practice though that is not the purpose of nihilism. So what is nihilism then? It feels intuitively that it is self-defeating but logically I am unable to conclude so. I think, that is why Komal's comment made so much sense that even annihilation is a self-important act and nihilism does not permit that.

Me: @SamadK on twitter said this to me, but in a different way. He said Nihilism is not a 'how to live' philosophy but rather 'this is how it is' philosophy. But I think it is deceptive. How can something that claims that everything is meaningless does not claim to have any bearing on how we should live? At the very least, it appears to have an impact on how to live, that is why you feel it intuitively. A nihilism that is a mere descriptive statement is barren, useless, because it doesn't stop us from actually have a meaningful life, or living as if we have a meaningful life. Yet if someone who is living as if he has a meaningful life, but nonetheless continue to state that everything is meaningless, I would have to call it self-defeating, if not self-contradictory!

Iris: Yes, Awais. It is deceptive to say that nihilism is just a statement and nothing else. But to use the 'impact' theory, I feel, perhaps is insufficient to call it self-defeating. Every thing has an impact on everything here since existence itself is intertwined; not so much because of nihilism itself. If all nihilists die or live, it would anyway have an impact. And just because nihilism has an impact, we cannot conclude that it hence says something about either living or dying which it claims not to do. It is exactly because it does not say anything about how to live that it stays justified of its meaningless. For a nihilist, if everything is meaningless, why even define how to live or to die? If it did so, that would tantamount to giving a meaning or a purpose. Again, Komal makes sense to me only in this light.

Let's look at it this way. The fact that a nihilist 'brushes his teeth' regularly each morning of his life might be a meaningful act but it is still meaningless to him. This is why nihilism, it seems to me, is not really a 'how to live' philosophy as much as it is 'how to feel' philosophy. It leaves its followers orphans because all it cares for is this 'orphaned' feeling and not so much as what the orphans do or do not.

I have friends who have everything: job, spouse, children and yet they say that life is totally meaningless. They always say that do not know why they are doing what they are doing. This is a very clear example of nihilism. In fact, depression (in some cases) is a manifestation of this existential nihilism. These friends of mine are depressed because of this lack of meaning in spite of all the acts they do. They are not conscious practitioners of nihilism but what they do is just that. But the fact that they 'do things' is not a proof enough that it has a meaning and it tells them how to live.

Me: 'And just because nihilism has an impact, we cannot conclude that it hence says something about either living or dying which it claims not to do.' Hmm. That makes a good point. I think you are right here. I had not appreciated this aspect of it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

He makes our fall a means for greater rise.

Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book I, Canto III

Monday, October 10, 2011

Awais Aftab

I will rewrite our memories tonight
Sculpt for us, our apt beginning
Worthy of our perfect end
As if we were always meant to be

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Steven Pinker's recent book “Better Angels of Our Nature” argues that our modern era is far less violent and cruel than any previous era in human history, and this thesis is backed up by convincing research and data. One of the challenges for Pinker as an anthropologist is to explain what has brought this about. A reasons he gives is that our increased ability of abstract reasoning has led to better moral commitments, what he calls the 'moral Flynn effect'. Peter Singer explains this in his review of Pinker's book:

"Pinker’s claim that reason is an important factor in the trends he has described relies in part on the “Flynn effect” — the remarkable finding by the philosopher James Flynn that ever since I.Q. tests were first administered, the scores achieved by those taking the test have been rising. The average I.Q. is, by definition, 100; but to achieve that result, raw test scores have to be standardized. If the average teenager today could go back in time and take an I.Q. test from 1910, he or she would have an I.Q. of 130, which would be better than 98 percent of those taking the test then. Nor is it easy to attribute this rise to improved education, because the aspects of the tests on which scores have risen most do not require a good vocabulary or even mathematical ability, but instead test powers of abstract reasoning. One theory is that we have gotten better at I.Q. tests because we live in a more symbol-rich environment. Flynn himself thinks that the spread of the scientific mode of reasoning has played a role.

Pinker argues that enhanced powers of reasoning give us the ability to detach ourselves from our immediate experience and from our personal or parochial perspective, and frame our ideas in more abstract, universal terms. This in turn leads to better moral commitments, including avoiding violence. It is just this kind of reasoning ability that has improved during the 20th century. He therefore suggests that the 20th century has seen a “moral Flynn effect, in which an accelerating escalator of reason carried us away from impulses that lead to violence” and that this lies behind the long peace, the new peace, and the rights revolution."
Beware the grain of truth in the cause you oppose.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I happened to stumble across an old post on a blog, whose author (glynos) no longer seems to be around. I feel it has something valuable to say, so I am sharing it here:

"I used to be a staunch determinist before coming across Nietzsche. I was adamant that it was the only philosophical argument that was uncontestable. I even managed to convert a few people to determinism and almost felt an obligation to explain it to the majority of people I met. It occured to me a while back how fragile a perspective can be. How one can be so certain of something, to the nth degree, and yet with time and 'knowledge,' how that perspective can gradually change.
I've yet to come across a detailed critique from Nietzsche that negates determinism, but that's not important. A lot of people even consider Nietzsche to be a determinist. The one thing that seems clear is that he never considered it a topic that important to discuss, particularly in his major works. He sums it up brilliantly when he says, "We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live - by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith nobody could now endure life. But that does not prove them. Life is no argument. The conditions of life might include error."
I don't like getting too much into the "how can you ever prove 'x's existence" type of philosophy. Frankly it bores me and leads to the least worthwhile type of discussions. I do however think it's important to realise the nature of certain beliefs and to understand why they have come about. Cause and effect, like any other notion, is completely dependant on its being understood, contemplated, discussed and accepted. It has no intrinsic value in itself. As we evolve there's every possibility that the idea will be wiped out, or replaced, or changed beyond recognition. Despite all of my reasoning, sense, knowledge and experiences so far (which indicates that cause and effect / determinism IS undeniable), it's important to realise that one's perspective is so fragile that it can potentially be revolutionised by simply words, a collection of audible patterns being processed by the brain, or an assemblance of shapes in the forms of letters being processed by the brain (a classic case of cause and effect in itself).
Does anyone else find themselves tying their self up in knots?"

[my emphasis]

Well, this is how Nietzsche can teach you humility!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

In my post Does Nihilism Dictate Death?, I had shown that for a nihilist, if nothing in life has value, the only way to affirm and live by such a philosophy is to die.

Komal commented on this: "But then the action of killing oneself should also be self-important, no?"

Which is a brilliant point!
The only way to affirm and live by nihilism is to die.
But a nihilist has no reason to affirm and live by nihilism either! Why practice nihilism, a nihilist may ask, what's the point? Even if it is the sole truth, why care, why bother? Why should nihilism have any value or worth, when nothing else does! This shows that nihilism does not dictate death, but perhaps this makes it the most self-defeating philosophy ever!
Maverick Philosopher answers my email in which I had asked him if his ontological argument for objective reality also settles the case for correspondence theory of truth:


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