The Newsletter for Dangerous Thinkers
(Issue 8 August 2001)
Welcome to the latest edition of Genius News, a monthly newsletter based on the world's liveliest email forum: Genius-L. Genius-L is a discussion list dedicated to the nature of genius, wisdom and Ultimate Reality, to the total annihilation of false values and the femininity in all of us. That is to say, it is a list intended solely for those who value consciousness.
"Most men never reach faith at all. They live a long time in immediacy or spontaneity, finally they advance to some reflection, and then they die. The exceptions begin the other way around; dialectical from childhood, that is, without immediacy, they begin with the dialectical, with reflection, and they go on living this way year after year (about as long as thers live in sheer immediacy) and then, at a more mature age, faith's possibility presents itself to them. For faith is immediacy or spontaneity after reflection. Naturally, the exceptions have a very unhappy childhood and youth, for to be essentially reflective at that age, which by nature is spontaneous or immediate, is the most profound melancholy. But there is a return. Most people drift on in such a way they never become spirit; all their many happy years of immediacy tend towards spiritual retardation and therefore they never become spirit. But the unhappy childhood and youth of the exceptions are transfigured into spirit." Soren Kierkegaard
The symbol will return you to this contents table from each major section.
- Isness -
following conversation is the continuation of a discussion that
began in Issue 6 of Genius News, in the section entitled "The
Way". It analyzes the issue of why we need to search for
enlightnment if it is the case that Ultimate Reality encompasses
the totality of all there is. Isn't it already right before our
very eyes? The fact that Jason continues to bring this subject up
on a regular basis shows that he is committed to resolving it
once and for all, which is a healthy attribute in a thinker.
Jason: I think the search for Reality is the delusion. What is the use in searching for that which IS? How can it ever be lost in the first place?
David Quinn: Mental blocks, attachments, egotistical desire, emotions, erroneous conclusions, etc - all of them obscure the mind's ability to perceive the true nature of Reality. The bare fact that Reality IS isn't enough to ensure that everyone is conscious of its true nature.
Jason: Reality can be nothing but true in nature. The bare fact that Reality Is ensures that no one can miss it's true nature. To assert that Reality is not available to all consciousness would limit Reality to a form, a thing, a duality: something defined.
David Quinn: It's evident that you're confusing the things that arise within Reality - e.g. stars, planet, people, enlightenmnent, etc - with Reality itself. Reality may be "is", but the things within Reality aren't, due to their impermanence.
Dennis: How stupid. The constituents of "Reality" are impermanent, but Reality itself is permanent?
David Quinn: You've got it.
Dennis: So there is something made up of parts, and none of these parts are permanent, nonetheless the sum of the parts is permanent (and, consequently, changeless)?
David Quinn: That's true as far as it goes. But it also has to be kept in mind that there are really no "parts" to Reality, other than what we mentally carve up. Eternal Reality is a single instantanteous event, if you will.
Dennis: What, then, is the one unchanging constituent of reality?
David Quinn: Cause and effect.
Dennis: Thingification. Reification.
David Quinn: Not at all. Quite the opposite in fact. The person who properly understands cause and effect also understand the way in which it doesn't exist at all. That is to say, cause and effect cannot be seperated in any way from the natural unfolding of the Universe. The natural unfolding of the Universe is all there is.
"There is nothing infinite apart from finite things." - Zen saying.
Continuing to Jason: A tree isn't always "is because there was a time in the past when it didn't exist. And there will be a time in the future when it will wither and die and thus no longer be said to be "is". The same applies to enlightenment (consciousness of Reality). Enlightenment only arises when the specific conditions are ripe - i.e. when all delusions about the nature of existence are absent in a fully-conscious mind. Before then, enlightenment certainly isn't is. In fact, its very opposite is.
Dennis: You're losing yourself in Wittgensteinian obscurantiveness.
David Quinn: Well, let's see if I can simplify it, then. Enlightenment impermanent, just like trees. How does that sound?
Dennis: It sounds like a child who has yet to master the use of verbs. In what sense is "enlightenment" impermanent? It has a beginning and an end? It has a beginning but no end? It has no beginning but no end?
David Quinn: It has a beginning and an end, just like trees do.
Jason: Grasping Is. Ego Is. Reducing Reality Is. Non-grasping Is. Emotion Is. Non-emotion Is. The way I see it becoming conscious of Realities Isness does not lead one to any inherent outcomes - such as getting rid of ego, or trying not to grasp at Reality.
To start on the philosophical quest one must initially suspect that they have a flawed view of reality. That there may be a more accurate, correct and truthful way to view life and reality. One may even suspect that a PERFECT view of reality exists.....
But what could possibly be incorrect with reality? Don't you already see it? It's right in front of you. It's everywhere. It's in everything you do, say, know and experience. How could it be otherwise? Of course, a search for reality could also be a part of your reality, if you so choose. But what is the search itself, but Reality?
David Quinn: You're confusing two seperate issues. When you say that Reality IS, all you're really saying is that whatever happens, happens. Some people search for enlightenment, others don't; some people believe that searching for enlightenment is a delusion, others don't; some people think that Reality IS, others don't - these are all happenings within Reality. They are all part of the Great Isness.
This is undeniably true. Where you make your mistake, however, is in using this knowledge as a basis for concluding that either everyone is already enlightened, or that enlightenment doesn't exist at all. (It seems that you can't make up your mind which.)
The main problem with this is that there is no logical connection between the premise ("Reality IS") and either of these two conclusions. It would be like arguing that because Reality IS, everyone has perfect eyesight. Or because Reality IS, no one is deaf. Or because Reality IS, everyone has the same mind-set. And so on.
It's such a nonsensical argument that it makes me wonder why an intelligent chap such as yourself keeps on indulging in it.
I find it particularly strange that you are unable to step back and examine the issue more dialectically. I mean, you've shown in the past that you're perfectly capable of doing this when it comes to other issues (e.g. the issue of uncertainty, enabling you to see the contradiction inherent in the assertion that everything is uncertain.). But for some reason, you seem unable to do this in this particular issue.
Perhaps what you're really trying to say is that because Reality is infinite and without form, there is nothing in particular to perceive or know. To assert that there is "something" to know is to limit Reality to a particular form and to deny that everything is a fully-fledged manifestation of Reality. Because everything is a manifestation of Reality, there is nothing to search for, as it is already here all around us.
While this is certainly true, it doesn't constitute an argument against the existence of enlightenment. At the very least, the realization that everything is a manifestation of Reality is itself a specific understanding which only a minority of people have, a kind of "enlightenment" if you will. So the line of argument which says that because Reality IS, enlightenment doesn't exist or that everyone is already enlightened is clearly absurd.
Jason: I'm not saying that everyone is enlightened, or that enlightenment doesn't exist. I'm saying that those who are enlightened are enlightened and those that aren't enlightened aren't enlightened. If enlightenment exists, it exists, if enlightenment doesn't exist, it doesn't exist. I'm not trying to avoid the question, but that seem like the best way I can answer it.
David Quinn: But you did claim that the search for enlightenment was a delusion.
Jason: Knowing and perceiving are finite things, which require one to divorce the knower or perceiver from Reality - which is impossible. The problem is that by trying to know or perceive Reality, one is always trying to step outside of Reality, which is impossible - you cannot step outside that which is All, Everywhere and Everything.
David Quinn: So in other words, those who do try to step outside of Reality in order to perceive it are being......ignorant! This is essentially what I meant when I said in the newsletter dialogue [ISSUE 6, JUNE 2001] that, "The only way a person can know how to cease reducing Reality is by fully understanding its nature. Once he attains this understanding, he can then learn how to cease grasping at Reality with his ego."
Jason: With "enlightenment", or perhaps "realisation of the non-duality of Reality", you say that ego is trancended and along with it, emotions, attachments etc. I don't see that at all. I don't see anything changing necessarily. I don't see finiteness or boundaries as becoming any less real. I don't see "things" as becoming any less inherent or more inherent.
In fact, I don't see any inherent or necessary outcomes at all. Or on the flip side I also don't see any non-inherent or non-necessary outcomes either. I don't see why you would think "things" are illusory, or non-inherent. I don't see any less realness in finite things. Things are just the way they are.
David Quinn: Given that enlightenment is a state of consciousness in which delusions and false thoughts are entirely absent, there are clearly some major differences between the enlightened mind and the ignorant one. At the very least, the enlightened mind no longer projects inherent existence onto things in the way that the ignorant mind does. Indeed, that is what "seeing things as they are" is all about. No longer encumbered by the delusion that things inherently exist, the enlightened person is able to perceive, with the greatest of ease, the true nature of everything around him.
This, in turn, affects his responses to situations, and also his goals and choices in life. With every passing day he drifts further and further away from the ignorant person, his path diverting further with every enlightened choice. His values, his mentality, and indeed his entire personality, undergo great change, so that it's not long before he becomes so different from everyone else that he can no longer be classed in the same species. He becomes, for all intents and purposes, a non-human.
All this flows necessarily from enlightenment.
Jason: I keep coming back to the fact that the
truth is right in front of your eyes and can never not be. Most
people search for a finite Truth, such as a set of beliefs. But
if you want to have a perfect view of reality, you don't map it.
Reality is everything, and trying to reduce it to something less
than everything, is always going to lead to errors. Which leads
me to the idea that there is nothing to really do at all accept
realise that Reality is. That's it.
David Quinn: This is true as far as it goes, but is by no means the whole story. As an analogy, consider the dreams we have at night. When a person dreams at night, we can say that the dream he experiences is. Moreover, this is something which holds true regardless of whether the person is having a lucid dream or not. In both cases, dream is. And yet at the same time, there is a vast difference between the two in terms of understanding and quality of consciousness.
Jason: But there is no difference in the fact that what is - IS. The contents of what Is may change depending on circumstance (dreaming, awake, angry, happy etc) but the actual Isness does not. Dreaming reality IS, waking reality IS, high awareness IS, low awareness IS.
David Quinn: Before life evolved in the Universe, did waking knowledge and awareness exist?
Dennis: What do you think? And assuming that what you think is not mere speculation, that it is, in fact, supreme, ultimate knowledge, exactly how do you know this?
David Quinn: I have no more reason to believe that awareness has always existed than I do mountains, clouds and electrons. Being a limited entity, awareness is sustained by causation, as all things are. And so, just like a shadow in the ground, it is vulnerable to disappearing completely the moment the conditions change.
Of course, whether the brain is a necessary condition for the existence awareness is uncertain, since that is an empirical question. But we can at least be certain that it is a product of cause and effect and therefore impermanent.
Bob Willis: Isn't awareness just another way of saying that things exist (cause and effect being the nature of that existence)? To say that awareness is impermanent, that it will vanish (unless I've misunderstood you) is to say that things will cease to exist -- existence and cause & effect will vanish.
David Quinn: Well, we're smack into koan territory here. This is exactly the sort of riddle that a person has to solve if he wants to become enlightened.
In the paragraph above, you're essentially equating awareness with the principle of duality itself. Everything in the Universe is created by the principle of duality - stars, planets, awareness, time, immortality, etc. It is the creator of all these things and yet transcends them.
So it makes no sense to say that the principle of duality will vanish because "vanishing" is a dualistic act. It also makes no sense to say that it will exist forever, since "existing forever" is also a dualistic act. And ultimately, it even makes no sense to say that it transcends both mortality and immortality since "transcending" too is dualistic in nature.
This is the point where one has to leave all dualistic thinking behind and step into the freedom and voidness of the Infinite. How to do this in a non-dualistic manner is THE great dilemma that each individual has to solve for himself. It is what Zen is all about.
Dennis: Of course it is. Unfortunately for you, your whole program of "enlightenment" is "dualistic". For you, everything hinges on "dualism", that you have some sort of rule whereby you can distinguish yourself from everything that is not you. You are a hypocrite.
David Quinn: Yes, the path to enlightenment is dualistic in nature. That is obvious. It is the nature of the beast. When a person is trapped in ignorance, his mind is necessarily spellbound by duality. That is essentially what "ignorance", in the spiritual sense, means. So an ignorant person has no choice but to engage in dualistic behaviour if he wants to get rid of his ignorance. Otherwise, he will just continue to remain ignorant.
The path to enlightenment is all about using duality with increasing skill and wisdom in order to free the mind from duality's spell.
by Dan Rowden
Where does this contempt for our animal natures come from? I see it as ego in disguise (one feels contempt for part of oneself because it stands in the way of being better than others - a natural tendency, as you point out). Why do you think excellence must necessarily include a contempt for aspects of our (animal) nature? Why should such a contempt be a pre-requisite to the achievment of an excellence? Why cannot an obsession to know simply ignore what's regarded as the animal in us? Why can't our relationship with a "herd" be irrelevant? Why not just accept what we are and go from there? Al Young - 01 Jul 2001
In evolutionary terms, it is clear enough that we are different from other animals; we are different in the sense that we possess self-awareness and the ability to reason in a consciously deductive manner. We nevertheless remain closely linked to our animal heritage by the very fact of that heritage and also by virtue of the limited development of our self-awareness. We are still very much animals. In some individuals the drive to fulfill the destinty that that difference indicates is such that they are compelled to view their animal natures as something to be outgrown and overcome. It does not mean, necessarily, having contempt for it, although whilst one still possesses a great deal of ego, it is to be expected, but it does mean viewing it as a negative property of one's nature.
And what do I mean by fulfilling our destiny? Simply that we strive to become fully human and fully conscious of our self nature, which necessitates becoming conscious of the nature of Reality itself. Self awareness creates an enquiring mind, a mind that needs to complete itself and in some sense, become final. A mind that does not find such completion is one which exists in a constant state of conflict and angst and is driven by desires it does not even understand or that it cannot successfully statiate.
But what of those who constitute the vast majority of human beings, those who do not feel any such drive? What of those who are apparently content with their animal nature, with their lack of consciousness? Why should we adopt a prescriptive attitude towards them? The answer is simple: such ones are simply too unconscious to appreciate their own foolishness. And what makes them foolish? Again, the answer is all too simple: people fail to see that the universal desire humans express to be rid of their suffering, their confusions, their fears, anxieties and insecurities can only be sublimated by way of an understanding of Reality; that is, by the complete and final consummation of our difference from other animals. Such desires demand that fulfillment by way of bringing our consciousness into line with what is ultimately true.
It is therefore essentially idiotic for anyone to deny the necessity of the quest for enlightenment. The only persons who can do this are those that are too ignorant to see the logical connections, and whose lives are rendered incoherent because of it. It is only those whose ignorance blinds them to the glaring fact that their suffering is entirely a consequence of their animal natures, of their lack of drive to fulfill the promise of the one thing that differentiates us from other species - that is, reason and the level of consciousness that reason may afford us.
It seems a little strange, then, for anyone to ask why we would have contempt for our animal natures. Do we not, at least in the beginning, have contempt for that which causes us to suffer? Of course we do, but because of our ignorance we do not know where to direct that contempt. Unfortunately, of out ignorance, we tend to toss our contempt up into the swirling winds of egotistical whimsy and care little for the injustices that ensue. Our contempt, we believe, wherever directed, is legitimate because our suffering is not.
As Al Young suggests, it may be that part of our comtempt for our animal natures is that it is something that unites us and places us all on a kind of level playing field, whence we must construct artificial edifaces of valuations so as to grant us the ability to judge ourselves against others. But it would be altogether cynical and unreasonable to see every expression of disregard for our animality as being of that nature. Some of us are evolved enough to see what is true and what is necessary in terms of the fate Nature has imposed on us. In Buddhist parlance, it is quite aptly known as having been born into the human realm.
- Was Einstein a Genius? -
Scientists like Albert Einstein are hailed as genii because they make significant conceptual breakthroughs in empirical modes of thinking; they bring about new paradigms in the way we empirically model our world, and whilst this capacity certainly speaks to a rare quality of mind and the practical value of it is beyond dispute, does it necessarily indicate true genius? What is real genius all about? This is a pivotal question because it speaks directly to the relationship between consciousness and Reality:
Jay: I have to disagree with the list summary that said
Einstein was not a genus. I think he excelled in any avenue he
decided was interesting to him and gave the back of his hand to
the rest. He didn't focus on any thing he wasn't earnestly
David Quinn: I don't consider him to be a genius because his philosophical understanding of the Universe was undeveloped and poor. In particular, his knowledge and awareness of Ultimate Reality (which is my criteria for what constitutes "genius") was completely non-existent. He was no different from the average clod where it really counted.
A sort of starry-eyed wonder at the existence of the Universe was about the highest his mind soared. This more or less puts him on the same level as the pimply adolescent having his first toke on a joint. As a person with a first-rate intellect, he is a major disappointment.
Chris: I'm also puzzled by Einstein's lack of philosophical awareness. But don't you think that scientific reality, which Einstein understood better than anybody, is a part of what you call "Ultimate Reality"?
David Quinn: It's an aspect of Ultimate Reality, certainly. But it is neither the whole of Reality, nor the core of it. Einstein became skilled at understanding a particular branch of Reality, while neglecting the trunk and roots. He therefore wasn't a genius. He was a freak of nature, in the same way that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are. But all three share the same unconsciousness of Reality.
Chris: Then I must ask you what are the roots of the Ultimate Reality? I always assumed that since our brains are made of matter, then laws of physics and chemistry determine how they work. Therefore I concluded that sciences and mathematics in particular shows ultimate truth. But since we are not capable of understanding complex systems described by pure math, we need crutches like psychology, philosophy and other.
David Quinn: Math is the crutch of the inept philosopher. All complexity can be broken down into simple cause and effect and understood philosophically. Ultimate Reality is what the mind perceives when it has abandoned all of its delusions (about the nature of existence). In an ultimate sense, our brains are made of the Infinite, rather than of matter. Therefore philosophy (the discipline that deals with knowledge of the Infinite) is the appropriate tool for the task. Science can give us specialized knowledge of what is perceived through the senses. But it can't give us absolute knowledge of the nature of Reality.
Alex Meyer: Einstein was skilled at thinking the unthinkable within his area : physics. Jordan and Woods are skilled within the quite unimportant, to truth, area of controlling the movements of the body. I am quite convinced that the thinking behind the theory of relativity represents an important truth, with respect to our use of time. Einstein was the first to think those thoughts, that kind of creative thinking makes him more than a mere freak of nature.
David Quinn: I seriously don't believe that truth was important to Einstein. If it was, he would have renounced physics and become enlightened. A genius staying within the realm of physics is like a fully-grown adult staying within the realm of lego.
Relativity might have practical implications, but on a philosophical level, Einstein didn't come up with anything that the human race didn't already know (via wise people such as the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Nietzsche, etc). He was a cut above the average scientist, sure. But the world has turned him into a kind of messiah. He has virtually become the Jesus Christ of our times.
Ben: I've found the conversation about Einstein and his
debatable status as a genius fascinating. I've always considered
Einstein a genius, since his theories, for the most part, have
always been above me (I'm more of a chemistry fan then physics)
David [Quinn] brings an interesting point that Einstein didn't appreciate "the philosophical significance of his theories" nor did he abandon physics to become enlightened.
So this brings me to my question: What is your definition of a genius? Is the only criteria for being a genius someone who can debate philosophies or become enlightened? Is it someone who only strives to find the very meaning of our existence?
Matt Gregory: Different people define genius differently. Most people (the herd) associate genius with simple talent. Einstein was exceptionally talented to the point of being a genius in that regard. In the ordinary sense of the word, I would say sure, Einstein was a genius. He was a physics bad-ass. No doubt about it.
But some of us around here like to go beyond conventional thoughts. We're about ideas. Hell with words, they are lifeless symbols. Language is the straight-jacket of thought. So, I say, hell with that, I'm going to redefine words as I please. All I care about is my meaning. I don't care about words. Language is not sacred. The dictionary is not a bible. Throwing a bunch of grammatically correct words together that have no meaning is like playing with blocks. It is child's play. So, if there are no words to capture my meaning, then I will just create one. I like to go beyond the conventional and reach for the extreme. If a person's mind is not capable of reaching beyond the realm of worldly talent and witnessing for itself what is truly real, then that's ok, define genius as ultra-talented. I would never deny anyone that freedom. Because I'm into freedom. It's the most important thing a person can have. And the most important type of freedom a person can have is the freedom of mind and body to become one in perfect harmony and merge itself into Nature in perfect harmony. This is done by understanding Nature fully, and living by that understanding. When a person reaches the state where he does this continuously, at all times and without further effort, then that person is truly a perfect genius. That person has transcended the gods. That, to me, is the highest state of being, hence, I use the highest words I can find to express my meaning, and genius happens to be one of them.
David Quinn: A genius is someone who can reach into ultimate consciousness and fully comprehend the nature of Reality. I consider this to be "genius" because it is the highest attainment open to the human mind. It is something which cannot be surpassed. Einstein's deeds, by contrast, can be.
If Einstein were to have been born in a world where everyone else was smarter and more scientifically gifted than him, then he wouldn't have stood out as a "genius". He would have been regarded as just another ordinary clod. This alone shows that his status as a "genius" isn't real, but merely relative. It is dependent upon the qualities of other people around him.
This problem disappears, however, when you equate genius with ultimate consciousness, for it creates an absolute standard by which to measure genius. A genius, by my definition, remains a genius no matter where he is, or who he is surrounded by.
Philosophy - i.e. the study of Reality - isn't just another topic like physics, chemistry, or basketball. It is a discipline that is exclusively focused upon improving the quality of the mind itself, through the abandonment of delusions, attachments, fears and mental blocks. It is thus THE discipline which underlies all other disciplines.
Dan Rowden: The kind of exceptional and statistically aberrant "talent" that is usually given the title "genius" is really a kind of savantism, a result of a mind that has, for whatever reasons, become wholly focused on one area of its capacities, usually at the expense of others. Or, it can be the natural consequence of a conditioning process which begins in infancy; that is, some children have a violin put in their hands almost before they can talk so by the time they reach adulthood their skill with regard to that instrument is way beyond that of those who have displayed less dedication to it. It's not really anything especially unusual; it's something to be expected. Such a mind needn't be particularly rational in a broader sense, or have the slightest conscious relationship to what is ultimately true of Reality (i.e. a person can express what is commonly regarded as genius in some field, and still be, in a broader way, a real imbecile). This is also true of abilities in science and math. That modern demigod, Kurt Godel, is a perfect example of this. His mind was heavily focused on matters relating to math and set theory at the expense at other aspects of his reasoning powers, which is why he could be such a brilliant mathematician and yet also be a complete looney in other aspects of his life (he was a hopeless hypochondriac and paranoiac - he always though someone was trying to poison him and he hardly ever ate as a consequence).
The true genius, however, has a fully integrated consciousness. There is no part of his mind that is beyond his control or does not reflect his comprehension of Reality. There are no contradictions in him, no inconsistencies, no aspects that depart from his understanding. To the degree that this integration and coherence is expressed in one's mind, to that degree one expresses genius.
Of course, some will point to the subconscious and say "what about that?", but the subconscious is better thought of as numbering among the causes of mind rather than part of its content. I've always considered the term "subconscious mind" to be akin to oxymorons like "military intelligence". Still others relate some kind of psychological eccentricity to genius, but that, to me, is absurd. To call someone who has extraordinary talent as a pianist, for example, but who, at the same time, is an emotional whirling dervish with no control over things like anger and jealously and other petty egotistical concerns, a genius, is a perversion of the worst order.
The question is, why do we grant the epithet "genius" to people who have an amazing talent in one area of life but are seemingly ordinary or curiously eccentric in others? Part of the reason is because it is easier for us to relate to such a person. We don't want them to be altogether unlike us, to be completely alien to us, so they have to have at least some humanising features. What benefit could we derive from them, what vicarious pleasure, if this were not so? Hence we have an entirely mediocre concept of what genius is. It's perfectly understandable since we can hardly set our sights on that to which we are actually quite blind:
"Some superior minds are unrecognized because there is no standard by which to weigh them." Joseph Joubert
How can we really classify an individual as a genius if he can speak with admitted brilliance on the nature of physical models of the universe, and yet speak utter crap when it comes to the nature of something like "love"? Anyone who is capable of speaking crap on anything is certainly not entitled to the label "genius". Therefore, men like Einstein, however skilled in a certain intellectual discipline, ought not be thought of an genii.
Having said all that, I should add that we can define a term like "genius" any way we want, and we will each of us do so according to our goals and values and the utility with respect to those things that we wish to grant such terms. Since my goals and values revolve around transcending the mediocrity of spirit and mind of the herd, my inclination is to define such terms in a more lofty fashion than is usual.
Ben: Also, I don't know much about Stephen Hawkings, except for the fact that he's universally considered a genius. Has he had any views about ultimate reality or truth? If he hasn't, but all of his other creations are intact, would he still universally be considered a genius?
David Quinn: Hawkings wasn't a genius for the same reasons that Einstein wasn't. Like Einstein, was a gifted scientist and nothing more.
Dan Rowden: I rate Einstein more highly than Hawking. Theoretical physicists and mathematicians of Hawking's ilk are, to me, more or less just Bishops representing a modern religion - in this case the Church of the Big Bang.
Ben: Has he had any views about ultimate reality or truth? If he hasn't, but all of his other creations are intact, would he still universally be considered a genius?
Dan Rowden: No, because no empirical model, which is the realm to which he limits himself, can ever be more than contingent and can never speak to what is ultimately true about Reality. He is a scientist, after all.
GENIUS-L at a glance:
The problem is, simply realizing that the natural state exists & is there all the time & cannot fail to be there, is not the same as actually realizing the natural state of enlightenment itself. So there are a lot of people going around talking about how they are 'resting in the natural state' when all they are doing is resting in their usual subjectivity & neurosis & labeling it the natural state. There are even teachers who tell their students they don't need to do anything, they just have to 'relax' & they will find themselves in the natural state, & a lot of students who imagine they're doing just that when they've simply redefined their ordinary awareness as enlightenment. Shardrol
I think most women are of the "I'm not that type of a girl" type. It's like that saying that goes something along the lines of: "Every woman is a nun with her nipples exposed." Women are not supposed to be direct and proactive with regard to much of anything. As soon as they adopt that posture, they lose the power they have to get what they want through men and the added bonus of the men being held accountable for everything - including the enacting of the woman's own desires. I think the whole modern dynamic of "sexual harassment" and sexual abuse attitudes speaks to this fact, which is why a woman can nowadays decide, after the event, that she has been raped or sexually abused, simply because she regrets having had sex. A woman has to preserve her virtue, or at least, the perception of her virtue, by being "seduced" into, as you suggest, that which she really wants in the first place.
It's really quite incredible to me to witness what is essentially the writing into law of feminine unconsciousness. Women have no power in society, they say. Sure. I mean, let's face it, what greater power is there than that of getting what you want without bearing any responsibility for it? Dan Rowden
Unfortunately, women like flattery however much the falsity of it might be apparent. You can tell the ugliest woman in the world she looks lovely in her new dress and she will immediately try to live up to it. Women don't care if the sweet things you say to them are true or not or whether you believe them or not, because what you're really saying with such lies is that you value them highly enough to demean yourself completely and lie though your teeth. That's pretty flattering. There is no greater flattery a woman can experience, for example, than that which comes from a truthful and honorable man (or even one whose supposed to be, such as a priest). That he could forget or debase his honor so completely, for her sake, is the highest of the high. This is why when you see some randy, pimple faced college boy saying how great chicks are, it doesn't mean all that much, but when you see men of standing and intelligence expounding the virtues of the feminine, it really turns the women on, and really turns the stomach of sensitive folk like me......... Dan Rowden
Even the perfect sage doesn't possess miraculous powers. He can't suddenly turn himself into a fish, or sprout wings and soar off into the sky. He is as much bound by the laws of nature as everyone else is. What he can do, though, and without any effort at all, is see into the nature of God in every single waking moment. He also is beyond all desire and therefore beyond the need to change himself in any way. As Lao Tzu puts it, he allows the ten thousand things, including himself, to follow their natural course. Where the enlightened, but not yet perfect, person differs from the perfect sage is that he still experiences desire and can only see into the nature of God for some of the time. David Quinn
if a good debater argues with a bad debater, and naturally wins, the bad debater might, to save some pride/self-esteem and lessen damage to his ego, posit that debate, discussion, argument, etc. are all bad, and that the ideal way to behave is not to argue and to lead a sort of laid-back life where you listen to other people's opinions but refrain from insulting them by telling them they're wrong, even if you believe they are. instead of picking up a morality just because it jives with your beliefs, here a morality is instated because value-inversion is an excellent form of intellectual revenge (the universe is a powerful ally to have backing you in your quest for revenge -- the universe is the context-free which applies everywhere, and so neccesarily here), and you're more than willing to change your beliefs to facilitate it. even more insidious is when a person in that situation decides that the ideas of true and false simply don't exist! David Schnur
Honor is such a foolish herd-concept. You have to do this and that, or else you are inconsistent with the morals of the herd. If a member of your family is killed by a member of another family, you have to defend the family-honor by killing one from the other family. BAH! Like pride, it will compel you to do utterly stupid things. Alex Meyer
The full text of Mencken's "In Defense of Women": http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/hlm/defense.htm . Apparantly it escaped the attention of a lot of women that Mencken was a humourist. Kevin Solway
Why is femininity something that it is taboo to attack? If someone speaks against the feminine and holds up the masculine, what exactly makes him suspect? Would you be likely to call the police on someone who expressed the view that he considers the masculine to be superior to the feminine? Why is it all right for people to be feminine and pro-feminine but it is not all right for them to be masculine? Marsha Faizi
"The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly, I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses." -- Bertrand Russell Marsha Faizi
- - Dominance and Submission -
The follow conversation was a response to an article on the net by Polly Peachem, which was originally submitted to a book of feminist essays (and subsequently rejected for being too extreme). It was brought to our attention by David Schnur, a regular contributor to genius-l. The article begins as follows:
-Violence in the Garden -
We have an indoor
cat, and so each morning, as a special treat, I carry our little
gray tiger in my arms as I walk through the wildly disorganized
jungle that my neighbors mistakenly call their garden. As I take
my tom along paths lined with flowers almost a foot taller than I
am, beside a dark stand of pines, and back around the magnolia
tree and through the weedy grass to the struggling tomato patch,
I often find myself daydreaming about who or what might be hidden
in the vegetation, watching me with hungry eyes. In my "unlucky"
imagination, the dark, fertile garden is populated with predators.
Behind every bush, lurking just out of sight within the shadows,
is someone stronger and more brutal than I, someone who will
overpower me and bend me to his will, someone who will cruelly
torture or humiliate me just to see me blush, whimper, or scream
It is a wonderful, thrilling daydream, and I live a less feral version of it in my daily life. I spend my life as a full-time slave within a heterosexual sadomasochistic relationship. To many, I know that this must make me seem to be a self-destructive, abuse-loving victim. That view is neither right nor fair. My jungle daydreams (and my hard-core reality) represent the living out of sexual desires that are for me far more positive than--albeit radically different from--what most people consider to be healthy or even sane.
I am not alone in having these kinds of dreams. According to a study mentioned by Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth (2), Dr. E. Hariton finds that 49 percent of American women studied have submissive fantasies. Like me, they have dreams of being captured, spanked and whipped, controlled, used like a toy. But because sexual dominance, submission, and sadomasochism in general are looked upon with horror and distaste in mainstream society, most people with submissive sexual fantasies, women or men, stop at the level of fantasy. I have chosen, however, to turn my fantasies into reality, and in doing so, I have made my most cherished dreams come true.
I believe myself to be the happiest and most fulfilled person I know. I am certain that I owe my happiness to one simple fact: I have pursued and embraced my deepest desires instead of ignoring them. I have accepted my passion for submission absolutely as the healthy, life-affirming, and wondrous choice that it is for me. In the six years during which I have been living the dream, I have never once regretted my choice or cursed my perverse desires. In fact, I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people alive......
[The rest of the article can be accessed at: http://gloria-brame.com/garden.htm]
David Quinn: A very interesting read. What I found interesting was that Polly Peachem gives the overwhelming impression of being very much in control of her life. The submissiveness that she engages in isn't real. She has the man wrapped tight around her little finger, busily slaving away at the master's role for her sake. She is as much the dominant one as he is.
She claims that she has given herself over to her "master" completely, that he owns and controls her, but I find this wholly unbelievable. What if her "master" begins to change and starts ordering her to perform acts which no longer conform to her sexual fantasies? What if he becomes psychotic and begins putting her life seriously at risk? If she had any sense, she would have to renounce her slavery and break off the relationship, which would only show that she had never really given herself over to her master in the first place.
But you can see why such a lifestyle would be extremely attractive to many women. Being a slave provides a woman with a constant source of attention. It creates meaning and purpose in her life, as well as intimacy and erotic titilation. What more could a woman want? It's no wonder that Polly Peachem describes it as "heaven on earth". She doesn't have to sacrifice anything for it, at least not in a spiritual sense. Quite the contrary, she literally regards her submissiveness as a heightening of her spirituality.
Kevin Solway: If one accepts her story, then she is in fact being near enough to 100% submissive, or, in other words, pretty much the same as all women. She says that she doesn't care how much suffering she goes through, so long as she never has to decide anything for herself. So it wouldn't matter if her master became psychotic and killed her, so long as she never had a conscious thought. I don't see any contradiction there.
Quinn: Well, she has consciously
decided that extreme submissiveness is the way to go, so in that
sense at least she has had a conscious thought and made a
conscious decision. This contrasts with the average woman who
simply goes with the flow and enters into submission
Kevin Solway: I think the only "control" she displays is in her not wanting any control - which is not a very difficult, or conscious thing to do. The way I see it, the very small bit of consciousness she has is desperately rebelling againsts its own existence.
David Quinn: Agreed. She is deliberately using her consciousness to annihilate itself, which is the essence of feminine eroticism.
Matt Gregory: Her boyfriend must be the most pussywhipped person alive. Could you imagine having the chore of telling someone what to do all the time and punishing that person? That sounds like real work to me.
David Quinn: Absolutely. It also shows that he doesn't have a life.
I suppose I should add to my comments above where I said that Polly Peachem's decision to enage in extreme submissiveness was a conscious one. It's entirely possible, of course, that the decision itself was also implanted into her, either by her current boyfriend or by people in the past. If that was the case, then she is no different to virtually every woman who has ever lived - which was Kevin's point.
In fact, we can't really trust anything she said in her article since the article itself would needed to have been approved by her boyfriend before she submitted it. Perhaps he even dictated it to her. Since he is the one who supposedly makes all the decisions, the ideas and justifications contained in the article must ultimately be his, and not hers .......
Matt Gregory: Well, what about dominant women? How would you explain that phenomenon? I wonder how much different it is with the roles reversed.
Marsha Faizi: The result would be the same. A woman is always submissive. That is how she controls the domination.
David Hodges: Many horror movies feature a woman who is captured, possibly tortured. This seems to be a common fantasy, both for men and for women. Sometimes she escapes or is rescued; that may be part of the fantasy, or maybe a whole separate thing involving the (biological?) need to protect women.
Actually, I was surprised in that article by the submissive woman where she asserted that 49% of women have submissive fantasies; I would have thought it was higher. It could be, of course, that others have those fantasies, but have never consciously articulated them as such. Romance novels, for instance, often have submissive elements (in a highly romanticized sort of way) - scenes where the woman is taken roughly - by the man who she wants to take her roughly, of course.
There are women who are dominant. My impression is that there are far less naturally dominant women than there are submissive men; a woman can make a decent living as a dominatrix. On the other hand, submissive women often seem to be "topping from the bottom" - they are actually controlling the situation from a submissive posture, suggesting what goes on, defining the boundaries. Certainly a woman who wants to be punched has to be pretty clear about how hard she wants to get punched; it's easy enough to step over a line into something that is just abuse, and not what anybody wants.
But is this paradoxical desire to actually be in control, but to have someone else have the responsibility, really so different from the usual feminine psyche?
- Work is a detriment to your philosophic welfare -
From a post by Jason
Sun, 29 Jul 2001
think having a job can be very detrimental to ones
ability to think philosophically. If you have an eight
hour a day job, maybe you want to have a bit of fun for a
few hours, say watch TV, or listen to music or whatever.
By the time you do that you are really tired and it's
time to sleep and get ready for work again.
Philosophy is often arrived at as a
last ditch effort to find contentment or happiness after one has
realised that their hedonistic desires do not lead to lasting
happiness. It's hard to exhaust your hedonistic desires if you do
not feel you can fully express them. I think most people have a
desire to sleep in until noon, and lay around when they want and
not have to answer to a boss. Working can be like a treadmill,
the person always think if they just keep working they will
eventually have all that they want. If I just pay off my car,
then my mortage etc etc etc etc I will finally be content - it
will all be worth it in the end.
In this way they never truly discover the futility that can arrise when one can be fully hedonistic. When one can be master of every second of a 24 hour day.
Being employed can also put one in a very disempowering and submissive dynamic, hardly a breeding ground for the expression and development of independence of thought and individuality. Years of this submissive dynamic can change a person permanently. It's part of the reason most of the iconoclastic youths turn into suited yes-men.
Being employed can also be a direct result of herd mentality and conformist behaviour. In Australia there is neverending talk about people who lose their sense of worth because they do not work, they lose their self-esteem and enter into depression. A major reason this happens to many unemployed people is because they can't handle being looked down upon by the employed, they are no longer one of the "decent, hardworking blokes" (a very common phrase over here, linking
decency directly with being a hard worker).
Having said all that, I don't think that having a job makes it impossible to explore philosophy to its depths. Just a lot less likely.
News items taken from various sources around the world:
(Some item titles provied by Genius News editors)
- A satisfying relationship destroys the soul -
Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July
A national survey has found nearly all young men who don't have a girlfriend are dissatisfied with life.
A study of 700 people in all states found 35% of men under 20 had a partner, compared to 55% of women. While nearly 80% of those in a relationship said they were satisfied with life, nearly all men without a partner said they were dissatisfied. In this group, unemployment, lack of direction or stressful work - which all affected their ability to form and sustain relationships - were mentioned.
The study also showed that satisfaction with relationships changed over time. Women's satisfaction decreased, while men's grew; 21% of women in their 60s were dissatisfied, compared with 8% of men.
Comment: It is no wonder that philosophers in the past have depicted woman as having the form of the devil. Through her, men become satisfied with imperfection, lies and unconsciousness.
- Music speaks to the animal in all of us (part II) -
The Courier Mail, July 17
Researchers studying the effects of music on consumer behaviour have found that music can subconsciously attract consumers and influence their spending habits.
Commissioned by the Australian Performing Rights Association, the study found that increasing the tempo of music in restaurants speeds up diner turnover. But during quieter times, restaurants can use slower music to encourage consumers to stay longer and order another coffee.
APRA client services manager, Matthew Fackrell, said the study highlighted the value of music to retailers for what is generally a nominal licensing fee. "It does have a bottom line effect", he said.
Mr Fackrell said fees from retailers and small businesses were worth several million dollars to artists.
Professor Charles Areni of James Cook University in Townsville said research had shown slow-tempo music played in supermarkets produced gross margins that were 38.2% higher. Pofessor Areni, who is overseeing the study, said that if that was applied to a supermarket chain with a $20 billion turnover, the differnce between playing the right music and the wrong music could be worth $7 billion.
"That's serious business", he said.
The hottest hits might have people tapping their feet but if they are in a queue they can become aware that how long they have been waiting because of the number of songs. Classical music once indicated that something was "upmarket", but research indicated consumers were on to the ruse and contemporary jazz was now preferred.
Comment: Cows produce more milk when listening to soothing music, chickens lay more eggs when listening to Pink Floyd, and humans spend more money when listening to cafe jazz. And people berate me for using the term "herdly" to describe the behaviour of most of the human race!
Never Say You're Sorry for Believing
By Janet Chismar
Religion Today Editor, July 25, 2001
Norman Geisler's new book, "Why I Am a Christian," attempts to combine the art and science of apologetics by providing scientific proof and the answer for difficulties in life. The author of more than 50 apologetics texts, Geisler says he is most proud of his latest.
"It is a virtual 'Who's Who' in evangelical apologetics," Geisler explains. The contributors are expert witnesses for the faith, such as Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Gary Habermas, John Feinberg, Walter Bradley and William Lane Craig. The top people in the field each chose their best work for corresponding chapters. This is Geisler's first project with Paul Hoffman, an attorney and author, who serves as the book's co-editor.
"Why I Am a Christian" starts at ground zero - why believe in truth - and ends with "Why I Have Chosen to Follow Christ" and "Jesus is the Ultimate Source of Meaning." Josh McDowell shares his personal testimony in the afterword.
In between, readers travel along a logical path that addresses physical and scientific evidence for the existence of God, the possibility of miracles, biblical reliability, world religions, and proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
But, says Geisler, the key sticking point for non-believers is the postmodern belief that truth is relative. "You can't tell someone the Bible is true, or it is true that Christ is the Son of God, if there is no truth. Or if all truth is subjective or relative.
"Truth is truth -- and we show that truth is objective and you can know it."
You can give your whole case for Christianity, Geisler adds, "and at the bottom line they are thinking 'That is true for him. That's not true for me.' So you didn't really communicate, you just ventilated your tonsils."
According to Geisler, "It's only been in the last decade that the media and the culture and our educational institutions have won the battle of relativism. Not only relativism in morals but relativism in truth, and we didn't realize it was happening."
Comment: Interestingly, some Christians are now making good use of the nihilism and relativism of atheists to bolster their case. They are seizing upon the idea that everything is relative and uncertain, and proclaiming that their beliefs are just as valid as any other belief or piece of scientific knowledge. The relativistic atheist has no comeback to this, and the more intelligent Christian knows it.
- Excellence and Ordinariness: self and other -
exceptional man might easily become an ordinary man, just by
giving up, by settling for 'good enough'.
Al: But let's not be prejudiced about what form the striving for excellence may take.
David Quinn: Why not? What is wrong with being prejudiced about spiritual and philosophical enlightenment? You're essentially telling us that we should conform to your own value-judgments, your own prejudice. Thanks, but no thanks.
Al: Spiritual enlightenment or genius are, as it's defined here, not the only area that human beings strive for excellence; there are an infinity of such areas.
David Quinn: While this is true, the path to spiritual genius is completely unlike every other path in life. It is on another level entirely. It differs from other paths, such as the paths to musical or artistic or scientific genius, because it deals with the very organ which underlies all these other paths - namely, the mind.
Spiritual genius is universal in nature and can be applied in all situations, whereas these other kinds of geniuses are narrowly-focused and tied to a particular task. A person can be a genius in music or art and still have an ordinary mind, whereas spiritual genius is concerned with transforming the ordinary mind itself.
Al: I don't see how the consideration of "ordinary" enters into the motivation of someone's drive toward excellence unless ego is a part of that motivation. I would think the very idea of avoiding being ordinary necessarily has its origins in ego; it's, afterall, a comparison with others, an urge to be "better". Why not just do the level best one can and ignore others?
David Hodges: If you are being unusual for the sake of being unusual - to impress other people with how cool you are, or because you don't want to think of yourself as ordinary - then that is ego-driven, and in fact pretty ordinary.
Al: I can't imagine getting to know someone that's a self-described genius and not being able to detect any evidences of an ego-driven, elitist attitude. I know it hasn't happened yet to me. But, as suggested, I'm not either absolutely sure I would actually recognize the complete absence of elitism in a "person A" even tho he'd in fact be ego-free.
David Quinn: An enlightened, ego-free person is necessarily "elitist" in the sense that his values, which are highly regarded by him, are very different from the norm. He would also know that, in terms of wisdom, he is superior to almost everyone else.
Moreover, other people are bound to see him as elitist simply because he swims unwaveringly against the current and isn't afraid to speak out against the myths and values of wider humanity. At the same time, of course, being ego-free, he wouldn't gain any emotional pleasure at the thought of his superiority. To him, it would just be another fact of life.
David Hodges: I don't think you can go through life completely ignoring other people, and I don't think there would be an advantage to doing so. There is a lot that can be learned and gained from interacting with other people.
What we are talking about is getting caught up in ordinary, everyday concerns; being obsessed with what other people think of you, and so on. We are talking about leaving behind the ordinary because the ordinary actually conflicts with who you are. If it does not conflict, then there is no point in divorcing yourself from it.
Yes, there is an urge to be better - but better by my own standards, not by other people's standards. What I think is important. Other people obviously have their own standards; they are irrelevant.
Let's talk about a practical example: music. Many people get into music because of ego needs: they want to perform for other people, they want to do something that is impressive, and in fact it can be a very successful undertaking on that level - some women, at least, seem to have a thing for musicians.
But if that is what you are doing, it's not actually about the music. If you are actually pursuing excellence in music, you are doing it to create something, something that you try to perfect, not because it is impressive to someone else, but because it is an expression of your own nature, it says something to you, and you want to perfect it for your own satisfaction.
Actually performing and sharing the finished product with other people becomes secondary. In fact, it can become such a personal thing that you are surprised if someone else expresses any interest in it; but that doesn't matter. It's not for them.
Shardrol: There is that; maybe it's a step on the way. But artistic expression is actually a primary manifestation of ego in most of those who engage in it. This unique & valuable self whose nature one is expressing is exactly the thing that needs to be given up. I do think it's possible to produce egoless art, but its purpose would be something other than self-expression.
Matt Gregory: Is self-expression even a purpose in itself? Doesn't there have to be some reason for wanting self-expression? I think it all boils down to wanting respect, which in turn is caused by the need to reaffirm the value of the self or something.
David Hodges: While everything you do is an expression of your self, your nature, there is a difference between doing something because it pleases you, and doing something because you think it willimpress someone else.
I think doing things to impress other people is weak - although I am having trouble at the moment articulating exactly why.
Matt Gregory: Oh, yeah, I agree. I was trying to think of why it pleases me. I think of the pleasure of self-expression as a masturbatory thing. I guess pleasing yourself the way you want is what makes it so pleasurable, and then being so happy that you've so brilliantly pleased yourself. The latter is probably the most pleasurable part about it.
In musical terms, I think of it as wanting to please others puts you in a position where you're constantly trying to conform to the lowest common demoninator instead of trying to advance and extend your style or whatever, so it compromises the quality of your music.
Dan Rowden: It's problematic as well as
weak. One of the immediate problems I see is that when
you do things for the benefit of others, you hand
everything over to them (because you are dependent on
their judgments and approval); indeed, you hand yourself
over to them. They take ownership of you. That is one of
the flipsides, for instance, of fame.
The ego is all about identity and identity is dependent on contrast to something else: any thing is itself relative to what it is not. So, the ego is constantly grasping for connection or relation to "other" to make more concrete its own existence. This is the basis of attachment. We attach ourselves psychologically to things, whether they be inanimate objects, other people or ideas and beliefs, so as to make more secure the idea of our own existence. It may seem like a weird kind of dynamic in that we're trying to find ourselves by identifying with something else, but that's how identity works.
need to constantly reinforce our own identity/ego, which is more
acute the more spontaneous and unconscious we are, explains just
about everything a human being does, from essential drives like
survival and the even more fundamental "will to power",
to things that tend to mystify us such as a person taking a
stance on some issue which is seemingly in opposition to their
stated views and values (often expressed as a need to just be
"different" from the rest rather than lose one's
identity in the nebulosity of group-think).
In the case of doing things to impress others, we're talking about the need for approval which amounts to a need for outside recognition and confirmation of ourselves. One of keenest expressions of this is to be found in the fact that most women would rather be hated by you than be the object of your complete indifference. She would much rather have your hate than your indifference because your hate elevates and substantiates her existence whereas your indifference is almost a denial of it.
When people court fame they're expressing the same basic mentality but there's a negative side to the coin of fame which places one in a constant state of conflict. The basis of that conflict is: I need your approval and validation but in doing so I lose myself and become an extension of your own ego.
We want to "share" because we need to relate in order to anchor our identity in something, but we don't want to lose power in that sharing. It's like being in a group of some kind and offering a really good idea only for that idea to be lost in the nebulosity of the group and its link to us to be essentially lost. Most people have suffered what they consider to be the ignominy of that, but that suffering is all about a loss of identity. Or it's like standing in a huge canyon and yelling our name expecting it echo back with increased resonance, only to hear nothing at all. We assert our identity in the sharing of the idea with others, but it gets lost in their consumption of it. We want to offer ourselves to people but we don't want to be consumed by them. However, to give of yourself (i.e. offer something that ties you to you in your mind) is to have something of yourself taken away - and hence conflict arises. We experience the flow of gain and loss, which is the basis of samsara.
This is why very intimate relationships are so vital to our egos - we are able to see something of ourselves in that other, so when we give, we don't really lose that part of ourselves because it's constantly there in that other - it's like a quasi-merging of two egos. We have acquired for ourselves a biological mirror, not just of our physical self, but of our emotions and conceptual world (in the latter case to the extent that we can deceive ourselves into thinking that other really reflects our conceptual world, and fortunately - or not - for men, women are masters at that). So long as the close intimacy of the relationship is maintained, this benefit continues to exist. As soon as that intimacy wains, however, that benefit begins to evaporate and we cease being so comfortable in giving of ourselves because we begin to experience loss, rather than sharing, with what has become almost an extension of ourselves. So long as the mathematical formula of a relationship is 2 = 1 we're fine. If it degenerates into 1 + 1 = 1 we're in a bit of trouble and so is the relationship, usually. When we reach the 1 + 1 = 2 stage, divorce is immanent.
The loss of self experienced when a person courts fame is pretty obvious; one only has to look at the lives of celebrities to see that. What I find amusing, though, is how you see them bemoaning that loss of privacy or identity or the fact that those whose approval they seek want to more or less take ownership of them; it's as if they are too dense to see the correlation. Of course, they are that dense but they don't know it any more than their "fans" know it (about the object of their adoration or about themselves). But one of the most pitiable expressions of this need occurs when individuals seek the approval of those they know to be their inferiors, or even of being incapable of fully appreciating their achievements. This is one of the reasons that guru types are so sickening. They accept the adoration of people who don't really understand a word they say.
Any port in a storm, as it were.
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