Winter is coming… and it has arrived on HBO with a thunderous bang, marrying the grand ambitions of the novel to the visceral promise of television. The first episode of the new HBO series, Game of Thrones, dispelled a lot of my ambivalent feelings about having my all-time favorite series from the fantasy genre being adapted into television format. It didn’t matter one whit that HBO had been home to some of the most brilliant television programming of the past 20 years in The Sopranos and The Wire, because adapting a book for television requires sacrifices. But I’m glad to announce that, despite the limitations of television, or perhaps because of them, the opener pulled it off.
(For part one, go here)
Their immortal hearts have been seared and hardened by an insurmountable evil that makes them immune to all fantasies & hallucinations of gods who still believe in ideals. Elder gods reject Cartaphilus, that dangerous prophet, and the most audacious thinker of delirious times.
The elder gods are typically radical skeptics & lovers of doubt. Instead of an impetuous glorification of life, these elders have a disillusioned outlook that considers themselves to be superior skeptics and exorcists of all certainty & conviction. Their observations are fueled with the abysmal mechanisms of doubt – an antiseptic that pacifies the spirit and detaches it from any vital stakes. Continue reading Philosophy of the Gods, part II
Last week I was reading an article on theNation.com about a new generation of writers from Mexico (Jorge Volpi, Ignacio Padilla & Eloy Urroz) in the mid nineties, and it hit very close to home. They called themselves the “crackeros” but what interested me the most was their resistance to writing “Mexican literature.” Literary critics from America and Western Europe insisted that Mexicans writers must write about Mexican themes in order to be authentic. In other words, the crakeros‘ novels weren’t about Mexico, and therefore, the writers weren’t authentic. That implies that the “universal” is restricted to the Americans and Europeans. Commence severe eye-rolling. Continue reading Deafness & authentic writing
In this blog I will be drawing a distinction between two philosophies – one espoused by Kaeli and her guru, Cartaphilus, and the other, by the Elder gods. (Click here for Part 2) Hopefully this will explain how Kaeli’s worldview compares and contrasts with those of the elder gods.
Kaeli’s innermost beliefs are buttressed and articulated by the radical ideas of the anarchist, Cartaphilus. The elder gods, on the other hand, serve as the antithesis to her defiant stand, as the wizened cynics who disdain the fervor of youth. Continue reading Philosophy of the gods, part 1
Becoming a cynic is not an indication of a failure of character, or an anomalous individual event in today’s culture, for it is actually symptomatic of modern culture. Cynicism is essentially the result of the Enlightenment, which spelled the end of Christian dogma by destroying its ideals, absolutes, truths. As the Enlightenment progressed in its demystification of ideals, nihilism emerged form its wake. But one ideal was spared: the subject, which grounded all critiques and including positive ideas like Kantian ethics.
Prior to the Enlightenment, Christian metaphysics was true (i.e., the bible holds truths, the word of God, etc.). But the Enlightenment brought to the end to all that with critiques that decimated these aforementioned absolute truths. However, where the enlightenment has been a “melancholy science” (pace Adorno) it only exacerbates melancholy. We need something that doesn’t depress us and sinks us into cynical reasoning. We need a new critique that’s also a gay science, as opposed to the sad sciences of the enlightenment that took away all the ideals we used to believe in. Sure, this critique is also an attack, but it holds an attitude against making people miserable or depressed. Continue reading You don’t have to be a cynic
A former Hindu goddess of knowledge, Saraswati was the daughter of Shiva and Durga. She is credited with the invention of language and knowledge for mortals, and the divine inspiration of their holy Scriptures. Mortals pray to her for moksha, or true wisdom that will deliver them from their mortal shells.
Saraswati’s fealty to fixed ideas causes her to bend all gods and mortals to high standards. Since she desires change in others into becoming better people, she is relentlessly critical and judgmental. Sometimes Saraswati is surprised when others do not appreciate her judgments, although she is quick to praise whoever meets her standards. Continue reading Saraswati
I bought this book on September 8th and finished it last night. As a fan of Robert Greene, the modern-day Machiavelli, I was eager to snatch his latest book that’s a collaboration with 50 cents, the rapper.
The 50th Law is a decent book that spins 10 variations on the single theme of fearlessness into 10 chapters. Each chapter is further broken down into sections: the eye of the huster, the key, the strategies, and the reversal, which is similar to the original structure of the 48 laws of Power. 50 cents contributes the material of his biography and the key to fearlessness as pithy quotes. Several new individuals are also included here, from Richard Wright to Malcom X to Amelia Earhart to John Ford, along with returning favorites like Napoleon and Scipio. However, 50 cents’ biography is stretched thin across 200 plus pages, and there seems to be a great deal of overlap that borders on repetition. Robert Greene should be applauded for moving into new territory, into the world of the hustlers and the rappers to supplement his previous works on the great leaders, seducers, artists, thinkers, and generals.
One thing that bugs me: there’s no mention of the 49th law. Perhaps in the next book?
Truth is a woman; she only loves a warrior. – Nietzsche
As the Greek deity Enyo, Bellona often carried weapons of war drenched in blood, and accompanied Ares, the premier god of war. As the Roman goddess, she was the original war deity. Currently a member of the Senate at Teotihuacán.
A hopelessly self-centered goddess, Bellona is constantly embroiled in drama, for she needs it in order to keep boredom away. She finds comfort and security anathema, and seeks trouble instead. A passive aggressive sado-masochist, pain is a source of pleasure, and Bellona enjoys complaining about such troubles, being the victim. She despises the polite gods, and often argues with them. Bellona has a long history of tragedies and traumas, and is always on the outlook for a new one, consciously or unconsciously. Continue reading Bellona
Skuld (necessity, or she who is becoming) was originally a sinister spirit of slaughter or dark demigoddess of death who hovered over battlefields and chose warriors to be admitted to Valhalla, the home of Odin’s army. She also held the Norn position, the goddess of fate, but nowadays she serves as a liaison to Teotihuacan.
Skuld in her long existence, has become a master at the game of seduction, where she orchestrates a game of emotional pendulum that swings between hope and frustration. The ability to delay satisfaction is the ultimate art of seduction: when the victim waits impatiently, he is held in thrall. The bait is the promise of reward (formerly, for the mortals it was the glory of Einherjar) – fundamentally, either pleasure or power – but the promise always remains elusive, which actually makes their targets chase Skuld even harder. Continue reading Skuld the valkyrie
[Thoth, a god of wisdom and current consul of Teotihuacan, journeys to the bottom of Yggdrassil the world tree, in order to discuss with an ancient god of wisdom, Mimir, about the new radical, Cartaphilus, whether to oppose him or endorse him. Thoth removes Mimir’s decapitated head from the Well of Urd.]
Mimir: Who bestirs Mimir from the comforts of oblivion?
Thoth: It is I, son of Ra, and I seek your advice.
Mimir: Well met, Thoth. But we gods of wisdom hardly need advice.
Thoth: Yes, but your wisdom is distinct from mine: it is not as contaminated by the hysteria of contemporary ideologies. All the same, I request your wisdom regarding this new radical, Cartaphilus.
Mimir: Cartaphilus, the impetuous immortal? You have traveled very far just to discuss a misguided liberator.
Thoth: These days, the merest mention of his name is tantamount to political suicide.
Mimir: He reminds me of the original liberator. Prometheus.
Thoth: Indeed. It seems both Prometheus and Cartaphilus share an unhealthy obsession with mortals.
Mimir: Quite. Whereas Prometheus condemned the mortals of Midgard to consciousness with his myopic intelligence, Cartaphilus condemns mortals of the universe with his call of radical emancipation.
Thoth: Hubris is another thing Prometheus and Cartaphilus have in common.
Mimir: The Olympians were prudent to hide the sources of life from mortals. But that arrogant Prometheus decided to reveal them. The irony is that, despite his claims of lucidity, Prometheus ended up being the father of all misfortunes of the mortals.
Thoth: He was always scolding mortals for being too comfortable with original idyll and their lazy conformity to the laws of animal nature.
Mimir: By introducing self-consciousness to the species, Prometheus divided man from the sources of life he used to enjoy. That compelled man to analyze those sources and reflect on their meaning. Consequently, original happiness was replaced with the curse and torments of titanism.
Thoth: Mortals were doing quite well without self-consciousness? They had hitherto been merely drooling apes. You could hardly tell them apart.
Mimir: Yes and yet, consciousness began a spectacle in everyone that ceased only with the end of the human species.
Thoth: Despite all his foreknowledge, Prometheus never anticipated this.
Mimir: A feckless and blundering humanitarian, a deadly philanthropist whose excuse was illusion. Prometheus, by handing man over to history, banished him from the perfect present.
Thoth: We did applaud Zeus for punishing Prometheus, and applauded Heracles for freeing him with equal vigor.
Mimir: At once the first zealot of science, and the worst modernist, his sufferings console man for his pyrrhic victories. As an instigator of indiscretions, Prometheus idealized knowledge and action and consequently ruined existence. This dereliction of knowledge and destructive curiosity ended the golden age.
Thoth: Undoubtedly. But what to do with our modern-day Prometheus?
Mimir: Cartaphilus, like most moderns, is in a hurry to expedite the onset of a utopia and institute it for perpetuity. His impetuousness does not come from anxiety but from the idolization of euphoria, a secret and morbid craving for Hyperborea.
Thoth: He is convinced that his revolution will be the final one.
Mimir: Because he thinks it’s up to him to complete history for all mortals. History belongs to him alone; thus, he must close it. As if Truth has finally has chosen to reveal herself!
Thoth: Has Truth made a great error?
Mimir: Error is but the fate of others. Never Cartaphilus’.
Thoth: Cartaphilus desires victory over his race, his peers, over us gods, and seeks to revise our work and correct its imperfections. He claims that whosoever doesn’t try or doesn’t think it his duty to try, has given up his destiny, from either wisdom or weakness.
Mimir: Pithy sophism. Prometheus tried to one-up Zeus. But Cartaphilus, a soi disant demiurge, tries to one-up us all and inflict the humiliation of a utopia superior to ours. That is Prometheus all over again, Titanism to a whole new level. The desire to equal the gods by stealing our powers.
Thoth: As long mortals are shackled by sin, they will never enter paradise. Thus they must be freed.
Mimir: Cartaphilus and every other utopians are consciously or unconscious Pelagianists.
Thoth: Yes. Pelagius, who denied the fall, rejected Adam’s lapse the ability to indoctrinate posterity. Adam only suffered a personal turmoil, and disgraced himself alone, and didn’t know he would bequeath the human race his flaws and misfortunes. Mortals are born free, good, and lack original sin.
Mimir: That is a very generous observation, yet very false. Pelagianism is the heresy of utopians.
Thoth: Whether consciously or unconsciously, Cartaphilus subscribes to pelagianism, the idolatry of progress. Revolutionary ideologies are its conclusions, in which mortals make up a mass of sentient beings freed from original sin, infinitely malleable and, self-directed, capable of anything.
Mimir: What an optimistic vision of the nature of mortals! There’s no evidence that their nature is any good. Only those with an inferior will are spontaneously good, and the rest must devote themselves to be good. Whosoever succeeds does so only at the cost of efforts that embitter them. Evil is inseparable from action, and therefore, all action is necessarily directed against another person or thing, and at most, against themselves. Mortals will only at another’s expense.
Thoth: So, the only way Cartaphilus could construct a society where mortals never harm one another is if he limited it to anemic ones.
Mimir: The nature of mortals follows a dynamic principle, one that sustains the fever of change and provokes events. If this is absent or removed, then utopia is possible. Mortals are resistant to true happiness, even though they long for the institution of an ideal society that promises happiness. If that takes place, they will suffocate in it.
Thoth: In other words, satiety is much worse than poverty.
Mimir: Mortals need tension and challenges in order to evolve. What could they do with perfection?
Thoth: True. Cartaphilus, as an anarchist is the last and greatest of all pelagians. His freedom rejects all religions, including those of the most progressive gods, and substitutes for them a new variant of worship – self-love – more brilliant and impossible than the existing ones. Cartaphilus curses the religions and demands their abolition because he sees them as an obstacle to the free expression of mortal nature that was fundamentally good. Now it’s because mortal nature was corrupted that religion was born.
Mimir: Were religious instincts to vanish, then mortals would give themselves up to evil without any restriction whatever.
Thoth: Cartaphilus’ idea of destroying all authority indeed remains the greatest ever conceived.
Mimir: Alas, the human race who fathered Cartaphilus is now extinct. But perhaps they had to fade to vanish from current age to validate his theories?
Thoth: Well, we don’t even have the luck of believing in destruction because we gods are already secularized anarchists. Also, we already understood the urgency and ultimately, the uselessness of destruction. No matter how succinct our denials are, we cannot destroy the objects of nostalgia.
Mimir: The dreams of mortals survive our wisdom. Even though they have given up on the geographical reality of paradise, it resides in them a dimension of their original ego. Can they recover it?
Thoth: Cartaphilus is convinced of that possibility if his program becomes a reality.
Mimir: And once they do, will they realize the ultimate glory? It is not their gods they will see but the eternal present freed from becoming, and eternity itself perhaps.
Thoth: The remedy of the ills of mortals resides within themselves, in the timeless principle of their nature. Even if we gods proved this principle to be false, mortals are convinced that some part of them escape duration.
Mimir: It is useless to recover the old paradise or march towards utopia. One is inaccessible and the other is unattainable.
Thoth: The only paradise lies deep within their being. In order to find it, Cartaphilus must have inspected every past and possible paradise, loved and hated them with clumsy zealotry and scrutinized and rejected them all with competent disappointment.
[Silence interrupts them.]
Mimir: You did not come here for advice.
Thoth: You are every bit the god of wisdom. Nothing escapes your attention. Admittedly, I traveled far away from the pretentious and self-serving rhetoric of Teotihuacan to hear the strongest case against Cartaphilus. Yours.
[Thoth bows, and departs.]
Mimir: There is no difference between a god and a mortal who substitute one illusion for another. The fables of golden age are equal to the vapor of utopia.