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Showing posts from March, 2016

Apathy, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 236

236

When we hold that noise alone is no moral justification, the noisiest then claim evidenceof our apathy.

not whether or not I am capable, a human strategy, aphorism 401

401

The question is not whether or not I am capable.  Very few people are incapable.  The question is whether or not I return to my coign of vantage after each exploit.

Gandhi, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 237

237

Watching Gandhi, the movie, left me with a desire to lie down in front of a tank.  Reading the biography left me with a desire to lie down in front of Gandhi.

The anatomy of the Human Spirit, a human strategy, aphorism 402

402
The anatomy of the Human Spirit:
The inner man takes a step back away from things ... and attempts to visualize relationships, between himself and things, himself and others, but chiefly, between his “inner” and his “outer” self.
The outer man is concerned with things and people only, which he does not see as thing desired ... thing and desire are inseparable from him.  His movement depends upon his taking each step for granted.  He would never ask himself, “Why do I desire this?”
The inner man is the thwarted man.  He questions his desire for what he cannot have ... so as to eliminate the desired object from his equation of himself ... or at least to “go around” his “miscalculations” of low self-esteem.
The outer man is the absolute master.  His path is clear.  Why place the obstacle of a question in his own way?  Why stop for an equation?  Questions and equations are for going around obstacles, but if there are no obstacles?  Would not the question and the equation, as longer ro…

behavior, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 238

238
In the study of animal behavior, we find species and situations where the dominant steps in and always settles a squabble in favor of the lower ranking of two disputants.  

A cultural power will step in and settle a dispute in favor of the victim and at the expense of the villain.  Meekness becomes a virtue; injury, a weapon.

a human strategy, aphorism 403

403

The object of every new experience: To make it worthy of the memory.

Right makes might, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 239

239

Right makes might: Victims often do not return to their feet after taking a hit ... and not because of the hit.  They feel the truth, even if they do not understand it: right often does make might, and especially when injury and weakness constitute the right of the supremely dominant to intervene.  A “right,” understood from this perspective, is an opportunity for the supreme power to dominate.  When we say that right makes might, we may only be saying that the weak are mightier than the strong when in the presence of the strongest.

regret and resentment, a human strategy, aphorism 404

404

I gain always at the expense of innocence, and I feel the loss as I feel all losses ... with regret and resentment.  But let me learn how to be ashamed of this innocence and not its loss ... as the boy learns after his first hunt, that the kill raises the hair on his nape, that there is exhilaration behind the guilt ... and that this exhilaration is older and stronger.

Dominance, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 240

240

When one must first prove an injury to have the right to one’s enemy, one seeks dominance over one party by submitting to an even higherparty.  The villain dominated, but one did not entirely become a victim until one found an even superior party to serve in judgment over the matter.  Now, consciousness lacks the motivation to see how a demotion in one context finds promotion in another.  The judge and the people at large are indispensable conduitsfor “justice,” but their importance must be taken for granted – forgotten – if one is to achieve the highest rank imaginable for a victim: Righteousness.  Thus, for as long as there are judges to whom a victim might appeal, the villains will be second rate, and there will be room for the third rate to believe their own victimization a badge representing themselves as “first rate.”  Within such a third rate consciousness, even to have one’s own people suffer a horrible massacre becomes the highest victory possible.

my presumptions, a human strategy, aphorism 405

405
I have inherited all of my presumptions from my culture, so if I find that I have erred, how can I blame myself?  On the contrary, I ought to celebrate the removal of the error and feel relieved that I lack all accountability.

Where does that leave me?  Two steps ahead ... I have dropped an error and no longer go back for it.

Justice, Righteousness, and Equality, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 241

241

One proves injury so as to have the right to release the dominance drive.  One now hunts for pretexts ... for Justice, Righteousness, and Equality in order to redirect the downward pressure of being dominated back up toward an ethereal height from which one can look down on villains.  Importantly, not that collective power ... not that third party to whom one actually submits, but only the concepts of Justice, Righteousness, and Equality serve as aggression's backdoor into consciousness – that is, if a victim is to relieve himself fully.

Regret, a human strategy, aphorism 406

406

“If I only knew then what I know now.” But regret is also proof that one has evolved ... that one looks down, not upon oneself, but upon one’s former self, as if at a lower species.

Unmerited humiliation, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 242

242
“Unmerited humiliation” often accompanies self-righteous behavior, and the lines of reasoning can be so convincing and correct that the “unmerited humiliation” can appear to be the means to the goal of “righteousness.” 
However, in the first place, one only labels the humiliation, “unmerited,” if one finds this assignment to be a means of pride.  Second, one is only motivated to display an injury in public if by doing so it is a means of self-promotion.  
An act of civil disobedience which provokes an injury, and thus condemns the offender for his vulgarity and incapacity to restrain himself, is an advanced sort of victory. One might now find strength in provoking and enduring unjustifiableoffenses – all injuries from which must be displayed shamelessly in public and whose successful effect serves in turn to correct the behavior of the dominant class.

But if one believes in the doctrine, what sort of morality will it be?  As a civil tool, it constitutes an advance for civilization…

imaginary peers, a human strategy, aphorism 407

407
I have created for myself imaginary peers.  Every act is brought before their judgment.  It is an involuntary, perhaps vain, daydream ... but it is functional.  I have control over the choice of these imaginary peers ... and their banishment.
This may sound childish — it certainly appears childish — but I surround myself with the pictures of new peers and read only the works of these new peers.  To banish, I only need tear down a picture and avoid all contact with any hint of their existence.  The process is slow and more easily reversed than advanced, but it works.

At the end of the twentieth century, do we still have to say it?  Conscience is plastic.

The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 243

243

If I find the righteous man ugly, it is only because I am his competitor, from above or below.

My categorical imperative, a human strategy, aphorism 408

408

My categorical imperative: If my next act were to become a habit for life, would it make me stronger or weaker?

our cowardice, laziness, and self-deception, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 244

244
We lose hope of virtue with our cowardice, laziness, and self-deception ... but then cowardice and laziness are the preconditions for self-deception.  Thus, only cowardice and laziness ... but then, laziness results in chaos ... in more work than a responsible industry which maintains order.  Laziness then pampers itself with a responsible industry. Thus, only cowardice.... 
But danger is not the same thing as fear.  Cowardice only imagines it flees from danger – while in truth it abandons itself to fear.  It veils reality with an overwhelming emotion.  The coward is thus easily confused.  
However, is it only fear that must take the blame for this confusion?  To receive the benefit for one's cowardice – safety – one needs the ability to distinguish between imaginary fears and actual dangers, and this requires in turn fearless honesty and no small amount of mental labor.

Thus, to secure the benefit of our vices, we muster up the courage for an honest inspection of the discipli…

a human strategy, aphorism 409

409

Truth is a hammer, and society has secured the crown jewels in a glass case.  What should I do?  What should I do?  ...

On shepherds, wolves, and sheep, The Mechanics of Virtue, aphorism 245

245
On shepherds, wolves, and sheep: There is a sort of integrity which refuses a personal indulgence when it would exploit the innocent.  It is held by one who concludes that he is really at bottom a scoundrel and that resistance is the noble thing to do, given the unfortunate circumstance.  This integrity is nonetheless something more than that sort which is incapable of doing harm.  And as it turns out, the harmless are just that sort which the scoundrel musters up the strength to resist exploiting.  But in doing so, does he not measure his integrity to the precise degree of his successful resistance?  

This struggle presupposes a fundamental orientation from which he reached for a higher result ... a presupposition that there is a moral basis in something higher than that evident both in the one who failed to resist the force and also in the one for whom there was no force to resist.

a human strategy, aphorism 410

410

Every depth illuminated becomes surface again.  Depth is relative to the dark areas I permit, or can’t avoid.

Value is only a human illusion, The Mechanics of Virtue, 246

246

I can calculate a view where there is no value, but I cannot experience it.  Can we really claim that the projection we call “value” no longer exists because our projectors cannot help but set it upon the screen of consciousness?  We can calculate the existence of our projectors and thus calculate with confidence that Value is only a human illusion, but we cannot say that we are ever free of this illusion ... or that it is not useful as an illusion ... or that the more correct our claim that there is no value the more guilty we will be of the hypocrisy of seeing value everywhere.

a miserable situation, a human strategy, 411

411

To “think” one’s way out of a miserable situation is to leap into a vacuum for lack of oxygen.  We all think too much, all in our “mental” miseries, squirming in place, when we could move a few simple objects, change a single habit, walk five paces into an entirely new world.

Nihilism and the next obstacle, The Mechanics of Virtue, 247

247
Our machinery is complex and manifold, and we divide up this single reality through many different faculties.  Then through habituation we associate all the separate pieces back into a “whole” – not the original whole, but a representation convenient to our need to survive and our drive to dominate.  That is to say, habit “straightens” the necessarily crooked approach to reality.  Yet now, any honest deconstruction appears crooked and fragmented.  Education breaks with custom, making knowledge itself a wicked venture.  
Nonetheless, this nihilistic stage is valued to the precise degree that one values honesty.  And what value do we claim for honesty?  Our suffering?  Our self-sacrifice?  Despite the suffering we claim, our nihilism was as easy and pleasurable as informing an overbearing society that two plus two does not equal their five, but our four.  We hide our revenge behind the mask of the “truth-speaker” much like that old and wise man claimed to have no other motive than t…