Today is my 45th birthday, so I thought I’d do a retrospective. After 10-plus years and 200-some odd posts, I thought it was about time to write a post about this blog, and re-contextualize some of them for new readers.
A little history: I originally started this blog over at blogspot.com when it was hip and cool, back in the day long before social media supposedly became a behemoth that gobbled up the rest of the blogosphere. I wanted to write on heretical subjects, and of course, the very first one was about one of the most extreme books of the early 20th century, Sex and Character.
That blog did establish a template for the rest of the blog: first, I discuss the concept or idea, then I mount a criticism. I thought that most people skipped the important part of understanding something before they started to criticize it. This step was crucial because it establishes their credibility, that they understood it, which gave their subsequent critique an air of legitimacy, or at least some plausibility. Of course, when I posted this on a discussion forum that supported the sexist ideas of Otto Weininger, many members claimed the first half was written by a male, and the second half, which had the sheer audacity of criticizing Otto Weninger, was written by a female. Go figure!
The following is a rough map of the articles, with a little context for each.
In my early days of philosophical wanderings, I found the radical nominalists like Nelson Goodman persuasive over the more common-place logical ones like John Searle. That is why I was quick to champion his ideas of Art as an element of temporality rather than a physical thing with qualities. This taught me to pose better questions than the standard ones established by Socratic dialogue.
Given that the rich history of modern art is so complicated and confusing, I found it best to write about it to teach myself.
My first art gallery experience at Gallery Godo.
Every now and then I am challenged with the overly permissive idea that we are all artists – no matter how much time we spend on being one.
Even more aggravating was the notion that every opinion about art was equal. Only the truly lazy think that way, comfortable in the nether regions of their subjective tastes, never venturing beyond their echo-chamber that took a lifetime to develop.
My experience on social media has led me to the conclusion that almost nobody knows how to properly critique pop culture, largely because they fail at being a good critic.
Given that I am a deaf person in America during the twentieth-first century, it would be remiss of me not to say anything on the subject. The following consists of personal experiences and observations.
I wrote this for the CSULB newspaper, the Daily 49er, on deafness in society, as an undergraduate.
Low Expectations for the deaf. How settling for less actually does a disservice to the talented people driven by ambitions.
That’s just your opinion! The knee-jerk defense of the lazy and uneducated masses.
No matter what, you’re just “Not Deaf Enough.”
If religion was the opium of the masses in the 19th century, and in the 20th century, it was television, then what is the opium of the Deaf community?
After a long-time friend passed away in a fatal car accident, I felt that I should share this short paper on the legendary Lucky 7.
This probably should be categorized under Psychology, but I always found the concepts of emotions quite fascinating in and of themselves.
I always went back to my heroes of philosophy, and Jean-Paul Sartre was one of them. In this blog I took a closer look at the existential phenomenology presented in Being and Nothingness.
What exactly entails atheism in Sartre’s philosophy? I found out that it was almost unlike that of any other thinker.
The best tool to analyze human character comes from Sartre’s toolkit – and one that dismisses the idea of motives behind actions because that eliminates the crucial moment of choice that turns the potentially motivating factor into an actual one.
Sartre was also insightful when it came to the nature of human belief in which sincerity is the reduction of other people to a belief. And this attempt to reduce belief to a public object means faith ends in bad faith.
How we objectify others and are objectified in turn means we can never see ourselves as others see us.
The other hero was of course, Friedrich Nietzsche. He liberated us from the conventions of modern society in many ways, and in this blog I look at the philosopher as the exception to the average, six-pack Joe type of the masses.
The difference between Nietzsche and liberal political thought lies in the goal of humanity.
Precisely because all philosophers are spokesmen for the prejudices which they baptize as truths, there is no true philosophy. Only philosophers!
Nietzsche was no simple atheist; he was the first theothanatologist.
Who’s the greater philosopher, Nietzsche or Schopenhauer?
Schopenhauer was one of the greatest philosophers of all-time, and yes I wrote a multi-part review of his magnus opus:
I found out very quickly how much of a foil Schopenhauer turned out to be, especially when it came to the inherent logic of common sense, that “everything has a reason.”
The greatest insight in philosophy is that we are not rational beings. This struck the very vanity of philosophers, and the wound has been fatal.
Schopenhauer turned out to be almost impossible to paraphrase, but Clement Rosset pulled it off by combining absurdism with postmodernity.
Even wrote a poem on Schopenhauer!
Since the World as Will and Representation review was so successful, I tried to break down Martin Heidegger’s magnus opus, Being and Time:
Between the giants of philosophy, Hegel and Sartre, I tried to assess whether Soren Kierkegaard was a true philosopher more so than just a brilliant writer with an ironic pen.
Gilles Deleuze has always been a tempting source of ideas, inasmuch he also remains ever-elusive, especially when he re-interpreted classic philosophers like David Hume.
Earlier, I posted on the point of philosophy. Here, Deleuze offered a great solution to the use of philosophy. It is an enterprise of demystification. In other words, mythology is glorious because it is self-deceptive.
In order to refute Platonists and hidebound analytic thinkers, Richard Rorty quickly became a favorite. Basically, in the Philosophy as the Mirror of Nature, Rorty criticized the dominant model of philosophy that existed since the 17th century, epistemology, and elevates the counter-culture of a therapeutic philosophy in its stead.
Since there needs to be a distinction between the public and private role of an intellectual, Rorty offered Irony as the solution that prevents the philosopher from necessarily posing as a politician each and every time he spoke.
Some years ago I read this terrific book, The Courtier and the Heretic – a slice of intellectual history that focused on the Spinoza-Leibniz encounter. And I realized that Spinoza might have become one of my heroes.
Every now and then I went back to Plato, the source of all philosophy to keep my writings sharp.
This is the very best method to interpret the Dialogues of Plato.
If Plato wrote an op-ed on Donald Trump today…
Despite all the great philosophers, I found Absurdism the most persuasive, or at the very least, the closest to my deepest held beliefs. And I thought Camus’ interpretation of the most interesting character of all of Dostoyevsky’s books, Kirilov, quite succinct.
I wrote a review of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus for graduate school, for Professor Malek Khazaee’s course on Existentialism.
For the final exam of that same class, I chose E.M. Cioran, an obscure philosopher, but I had to prove that he belonged to the canon of existentialist thinkers. This essay was worth an A and got me into the philosophy program at California State University, Los Angeles.
Around this time, I was in heavy correspondence with a couple of Anti-Natalist zealots. The moment they dragged Cioran’s name into their debate, I knew I had to step in and clear Cioran’s name.
History of Ideas
The transition from Mythos to Logos was one of the most transformative ideas in all history, and serves as the dividing line between the ancient world and the modern one. But is this irrevocable?
Typography and Photography: how the forms of media in the 19th century and the 20th century pre-determined discourse.
A more sudden and recent transition of the Zeitgeist took place within the American hegemonic power: Old Empire and Post-Empire
I always found the mania of identifying the current zeitgeist rather interesting, even if they were all doomed to failure just because we are all too close to ground zero. Pseudo-modernism was an early candidate. After studying pseudo-modernism, I realized that there were a host of other candidates for the title of post-postmodernism.
Alan Moore argues that all Comic books since the 1960s is essentially fan-fiction.
In which I investigate our ongoing obsession with the Eighties as an artifact of nostalgia.
I attempted to establish cynical reason as a symptom of the contemporary age with various angles: First I identified the soul of Cynical Reason within the current generation as the Hipster. Then I tried to trace the winding path of Cynical Reason within the twentieth-century America. I went back and retraced the evolution of cynicism throughout Western civilization. I revisited Cynical Reason itself as the battle of Giants – between Slavoj Zizek and Peter Sloterdijk. And finally I found the manifestation of cynical reason in the 1990s (Irony) and in the 2010s (smarm and snark).
In my early days, I was a staunch Foucauldian, especially when it came to sublimation. I also investigated post-humanism in the same Foucauldian vein. I went further and argued that metaphor is the ultimate key to language because it is the very symbol of interpretation and therefore, the foundation of meaning and truth themselves. If language creates concepts, then language and thought is metaphorical at bottom.
A failed metaphor is such a cliché.
In which language is the Greatest Paradox and a convenient plot device.
Practically half of my blogs consisted of questions about philosophy, what it was, what it is for, and how it should be done. Every now and then I would be confronted with the purpose of philosophy itself. Sometimes I would slip on the comfortable clothes of irony and sarcasm in defense.
One of the finest thinkers of metaphilosophy was the late Richard Rorty, and I always went back to him, especially on the history of philosophy. In this blog I presented different portraits of philosophers, or different ways to do philosophy.
If metaphilosophy is only a philosophical critique of philosophy, then perhaps the discourse of philosophy is its own criticism.
But the best philosophical critique of philosophy comes from the post-structuralists like Derrida who took on the all-totalizing power of the Hegelian dialectics.
Another standard challenge was the demand that philosophy be presented in a clear and distinct way to be accessible for the average reader. This challenge hides the inherent laziness of the average reader to actually get up and exercise their brain beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone.
If I wrote a self-help book on how to philosophize, it would look something like this blog.
I quickly realized that the biggest barrier to do philosophy is our common sense, which is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices acquired by the age of eighteen.
Can philosophy be truly taught? Schopenhauer offers a distinction between professors of philosophy and true philosophers that holds up pretty well today. Kant is correct when he wrote that philosophy could not be taught, we can at most learn to philosophize.
Philosophers have always claimed logic to be the essence of philosophical discourse. But of course this is false, because the first principles of demonstrative speech are non-deducible, and lack apodictic or demonstrative character. They only indicate or allude, which gives rational speech its necessary framework. Whatsoever indicates or allude is figurative, or imaginative, or metaphorical. Therefore the true essence of philosophical discourse is rhetoric.
All philosophical explanations, whether they are synthetic or analytic, are fundamentally limited because they are only complimentary methods that presuppose one another.
Whatever happened to Philosophy Proper? Novels. By the 17th century, the emergence of literature came at the cost of philosophy’s classical authorial role.
In recent decades, thinkers and scientists and even philosophers have declared that philosophy is dead. And they keep on declaring it. Over and over.
In which philosophers are divided into two camps: the edifier and the systematic thinker. But there remains a classic case that escapes either category.
Is there anything special about philosophy that helps us escape the limits of language? Can we ever locate an Archimedean point that truly transcends language?
Can Philosophy ever truly change anyone? If it cannot, then why should anyone read philosophy?
Reality is cruel, and we adopt standard strategies that help us evade it. The philosopher Rosset illustrated this as the Principle of Insufficient Reality.
When I teach a class on the history of philosophy, I will focus on philosophers in context. This will present an alternative to the standard picture of philosophy as a series of disagreements.
I attempted a critique of the theory of knowledge. Part one discussed the ontological implications and the necessary conditions of knowledge. Part two discussed the limits of the theory of knowledge.
In which I present a new philosophy of the Human Sciences, one that began in the early twentieth century, and did not finish until Baudrillard. First up, Ferdinand Saussure and the birth of linguistics. Next was Durkheim and anthropology. Unfortunately I never finished this.
We are all utterly contingent, because none of us were born with reason, none of us prolong ourselves out of strength, and nor do we die on time.
The anime Fate/Zero may be the most nihilistic story I have ever come across, and I have seen plenty.
The political pessimism of Giacomo Leopardi and Jean-Jacques Rousseau is actually the submission to the ultimate power of Fortune.
Common sense says that pleasure is a positive experience. According to pessimism, this is false because we are doomed to suffering, and pleasure is only the relief from something painful.
A pessimistic reading of history is superior to optimistic readings because such theories like those of Fukuyama, Hegel and Marx are all riddled with theological and ideological tautologies and push for a destiny that has been ruinous for humanity.
After discovering Cioran, I paid greater attention to writers of pessimism, and came across Giacomo Leopardi. One of the finest writers whose pessimism easily equaled that of Schopenhauer, but he was more of an experimental writer who wrote fiction, dialogues, and poetry as well as thought-pieces.
Every now and then I am forced to make a stand. This was a personal confession about the concept of truth, after years of talking, reading and writing about philosophy.
The Book of Truth: a short story about the truth of paradox.
Not only am I the creator of Pantheon, I also did research on character psychology and posted some early dialogues to help establish the universe. Then I began to dig beneath the surface and help make the connection between the material and speculative philosophy.
As Things Fell Apart… In this dialogue, the Hindu Gods Lakshmi and Ganesha discuss the newly failed planet, and the problem of satisfying mortals.
None the Wiser. In which the gods of wisdom debate a modern-type Prometheus without seeming to argue.
The development of character profiles through psychology portraits helped me write their dialogue. Maya, the Goddess of Illusion. Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune. Thoth, the God of Wisdom. Skuld the Valkyrie, the Norn goddess of Fate. Bellona, the Roman goddess of War. This character was an early template for Kali-Ma. Orcus, the Roman God of the Underworld. Ekchuah, the Aztec God of War. Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge.
The overt philosophy of Pantheon consists of two worldviews: the radical anarchical views of Cartaphilus and the cynical wisdom of the Elder gods. I based both of them on the philosophies of early and late Emil Cioran.
On Athena as the true warrior goddess, in contrast to Ares the God of Bloodlust.
Imagine a religion of immortals who live on a world that is one gigantic paradise. What would that look like? Given the insights of Ludwig Feuerbach, such immortality would abolish individuality.
The attempt to bridge between the cynical reason of pantheon and the idealism of Christ awaits in a future project down the road.
On the mystery of Pandora, or why a fascinating creation myths of the human race remains a matter of interpretation:
The more I tried to interpret Pantheon, the more layers I found. And existentialism turned out to be a popular favorite:
The Post-Human in Pantheon
Pantheon and Post-colonialism
Nihilism in the Iliad and Pantheon
On Writing Pantheon
Change the World?
Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?
Explaining Donald Trump
The true God of America
I always thought that psychoanalysis only works with an existential dimension, as analyzed in this blog.
Oddly enough, some of my most popular posts were about Sigmund Freud. But I analyzed his ideas through the lens of Sartrean existentialism:
In order to do psychology, we must figure out what exactly constitutes human nature. And perhaps this very question is already wrong to begin with.
In the beginning I was quite obsessed with the philosophy of religion, and tried to get at the fundamental idea or source of religious ideas from a thousand angles.
I opened with the quick and easy question whether Hinduism was self-contradictory, given the problem of using an particular experience to determine that all experience was illusory.
The obvious response to this was whether the logic of consistency applies to the apparent contradiction to Hinduism, given that their entire metaphysics is based on the distinction between illusion and the reality of the Brahma.
Some of my early blogs were reposts from that legendary forum, Internet Infidels, and this was a standard post that posed an impossible question and tried to answer it. http://www.hyperboreans.com/heterodoxia/?p=8
Other times, I wrote lengthy spiel that nobody bothered to read, much less challenge.
Sometimes I would contrast religion with other forms of expression like Greek drama.
Other times I would attack the fundamental inconsistency of Christian dogma.
If that wasn’t enough, I would elevate other religions over Christianity:
How is Christianity the religion of self-deception:
No self-respecting heretic would miss the chance to question the historical nature of the Gospels.
I even recruited philosophers to help analyze the Problem of Evil.
Given that I preferred to talk about the subjects themselves, I thought it was time to come clean and own up to own deconversion.
By the time I attended graduate school, I had to come to the realization that the philosophy of religion is, and has been, a monumental failure.
Despite that, I was never a fan of the new atheism movement led by the clowns Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens.
What actually began as a review turned into an analysis of one of the finest novels on the philosophy of religion ever written: Creation, by Gore Vidal.
Whenever I did not find good resources on whatever seemed interesting I set out to write an article on it and the mythology of Gnosticism was one of those times:
I went on to write a little bit more about gnosticism but juxtaposed with the existential nihilist Cioran:
I thought critics had an important job, but very few qualified as true critics because they never met the actual requirements of criticism.
If I read a monumental book I felt the need to collect my thoughts and post it. The first was a roman a clef by Laclos:
This is probably the book I re-read the most:
I also reviewed films:
On Mr. Robot
Top 10 rankings
Top 10 films of 00:
Best Time Travel films ever:
Best Post-Apocalyptic Films:
Best Dystopian films:
I even reviewed games:
Game of Thrones
Episode 1 review:
Season 1 review
The true villain of Game of Thrones
Future Diary review:
Evangelion 3.33 review:
Sometimes I would write about potential ideal selves to aspire to:
Why I rarely wrote about ethics as a legitimate form of philosophy:
The only sin is stupidity:
Cynicism is not necessary
We are all philosophers… Really?
Clash of moralities (an essay on Fate/Zero)
Once I had the delusion of writing a book on the New Seven Deadly Vices.
I even created the master vices that contained about half of the aforementioned vices:
On Psychopaths as the harbinger of the future:
Are you Mad as Hell yet?
Get off Facebook!
Are all scifi films after 1968 in dialogue with 2001 A Space Odyssey?
The philosophical divide in Science Fiction
Has Science Fiction gone into a steep decline?
The bicameral Mind in Westworld