Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

An open letter to Naui Huitzilopochtli (and all those who may read it)

First off, I apologize for often presenting myself as an antagonizing force. This is something I try to avoid, but my principles often dictate to me be so,, I am apologizing only for the borderline inappropriate manner I sometimes present my arguments, not for having those arguments to begin with.

Secondly, this not a critique or an attack, or at least, I did not mean for it to be. This is an apology (from the Greek word, meaning explanation) of my beliefs and my opinions.

Thirdly, I apologize for writing this in English, as my Nahuatl is, sadly, very basic.

I am not a nationalist of any kind, furthermore, I am not a racist of any kind. This is to mean that I do not hold the Accident of someone’s Birth against them in any way, unless of course, they wish for me do so. In addition, I wish to convey, with that statement, that I do hold  any collectivist ideals, although often it is necessary for me to appear to have them. This is evident in my Vexillology, as seen in my flying several flags in my home, and sometimes as my profile picture on facebook.

In discussions I have had on your facebook wall, I have been caricatured as an imperialist, a murderer and a racist. This is to be expected. I do hold you accountable for this. This is one of the things I feel I must address, and obviously extend my sincerest apologies if I have done the same. This was not intentional.

The purpose of my antagonism is simple: I first and foremost, wish to understand what your views are, and what the view of the people who, for lack of a better term, side with you. In addition, I wish to understand the Nature and cause of these opinions. Despite being scorned, I proceed to ‘poke’ at your statements in order to deduce the underlying principles that yield your statements and convictions. I believe that like my own statements and convictions, they are based on something. I believe that in order to learn yours, I must first share mine, and they are as follows:

First, as I mentioned before, I do not believe in the inherent power of the accident of one’s birth. This obviously needs further explanation: I believe that we are all human. The phrase: “All men are created equal” is something that I hold very dearly. I believe this statement to be true. I likewise believe that all humans are worthy of the same dignities and the same respect. And I believe that nothing can strip these away, least of all someone’s race, economic status, heritage, religion or lack of, or anything that humans may use to group themselves, or group others under. It is because of this that I often appear to defend causes that are at the moment, or any other given moment, unpopular. My recent defense of the Confederacy is not, as it has been assumed to be, a defense of slavery or bigotry, it is merely a remembrance of the men who died in a brutal and senseless war.  While this war may have had the effect of freeing the slaves, this act alone cannot condone its bloodshed.  Likewise, any acts of violence made by white men, or any men, cannot condone hatred towards such men, or any men.

My refusal to hate them does not mean that I condone their actions. The slaveholder violated the natural rights of the slave, but it does not make him any less worthy of his own rights. It is a crime, yes, an unforgivable one, yes, but not one that should be used to hate them. But more importantly, the act of the slaveholder should not, cannot and must not be used to condone hatred or crimes towards his brothers and friends. His brothers and his friends are not him, and his crimes are not theirs.

To take that one step further: The acts of white men in the past should not, cannot and must not be paid upon their descendents. My ancestors may have committed a crime, but that crime is not mine.

To quote fiction, if I may: In the Lord of the Rings, Arwen tells Aragorn that “You are Isildur’s Heir, not Isildur himself” His reply is simple and true “The same blood that ran through his veins, runs through mine” Yet her own reply conveys a message that I myself happen to hold “You will face the same evil, and defeat it”

So, whereas the same blood that ran through the veins of the Conquistadors, the same blood that raped and burned, runs through my veins, I am not them. I too, can give in to a primal urge that all humans carry, and rape and burn, but I have not. The ability to commit a crime is not the same as having committed it. And I am not accountable for the crimes of m ancestors. Likewise, not all white men are guilty of the crimes of some of their ancestors.

This is not to say that crimes were not committed, and this is not to say that those crimes should be easily forgotten or forgiven.  They were unforgivable crimes, yes, but the men who committed them are long since dead. One cannot wage war against a dead enemy, and the descendents of such enemies are not the enemy themselves.

Secondly, a point I hope I have made clear: I am an Individualist. And because of this, I am a Capitalist. The principles of individualism are simple: All men are born equal,, and should be allowed to go as far as their own abilities permit them, or as far as other men help them to go. These are also the principles of capitalism, thus the only system thus far that has allowed men to be free to choose and free to fail at their volition is Capitalism.

I have asked, mostly indirectly, for you to show me a system of beliefs that better encapsulates men’s rights. (and I am using the term men in a gender neutral manner) Thus far, you have not, and I eagerly await your reply.

In the past, I have been told that Capitalism is a force that denies men’s basic rights, and the examples given forth are mostly non-sequiturs, or examples made through equivocation, namely the argument that because white men committed crimes against Native Americans (whom you call Nican Tlaca, more on that later) and other white men developed modern Capitalism (Namely Adam Smith and, to a certain extent John Locke and the British Rationalists and German Idealists) therefore all white men have committed these crimes and likewise Capitalism is responsible for these crimes. This simply does not follow. I fear that at this point, I made have made a reductionist assumption about your arguments, and I look forward to being corrected.

About the term Nican Tlaca. I do feel certain. . .apprehension at you use of the term, as I understand it, the term is simply the Nahua term for people who live on this continent prior to European Conquest. And I must say I find it terribly ironic that you would bestow the title of your people upon the rest of the Native American population, and yet outcry the term “Native American” because it is used by one people to refer to another.

This naturally leads me to a question: What exactly is the goal of your movement? I am going to assume that it is expatriation of all non Native American’s from this continent. I am likely wrong, but it appears to be thus far. Again, I look forward to learning more about the end goal of your endeavours. If however, the goal is education, then I applaud you. Education is one of my greatest concerns, and I support all men and movements who seek to educate. Likewise, I support all men who seek to discuss, trade, and promulgate ideas rationally. If this is the end goal, then I believe you have gained a convert. Although I admit I find your methodology to be ineffective.

For the time being, and under the circumstances, this is all I have to say on the matter and I await your reply eagerly.

Sincerely, Antonio I. Villalpando.

Another Gay Post

This is a second predecessor to what I hope will be a book later on. The first predecessor is a small essay named “The Fierce Arm of Coercion” And I do believe that that name will stay on as the title of the book. A subtitle would be something along the lines of “How Gay Rights Activists are Damaging the Quality of Life of Gay People in America” Or something equally . . . infuriating.

Now, this is more of a series of observations that I’ve made over time. Not exactly a research paper or anything of the kind. The main observation though, is that the liberal (If you permit the use of the word) more . . . progressive and open-minded people are actually far more homophobic than the Conservatives they oh so enjoy ripping on. Now, this is not baseless, and it is counter-intuitive.

But I do have examples. The first is of course, the reactions I get when I mention that I want to be POTUS. Out of every, say, 100 encounters, I get 40 of them asking me about my platform and saying that I have their support (and about half of them volunteer to help me out), 30 of them tell me that republicans will never vote for me, and that my platform doesn’t even matter (they also tell me that I am seriously wrong), and about 20 will tell me that they need to talk to me more, and 10 will say that my platform needs work. Here is the kicker:

The 40 consider themselves Conservatives, the 30 consider themselves Liberal, the 20 are Independents and the 10 are seriously undecided. Upon discovering that I’m gay, the Conservatives shrug and usually reply with a combination of “Hate the sin, not the sinner” or “Nobody is perfect”

Liberals ask how I can be so misguided and how can I possibly reconcile my economic ideology with the fact that I’m gay.

I do find this to be amusing. Vastly so. So, I have discovered that to Conservatives, even vastly religious ones, I am an intellectual, a politician and man who has a good life, but has made some questionable life choices. To Liberals, I am a gay who has no idea what’s going on in the real world. So, to recap:

A gay who is stupid vs. a brilliant man who happens to be gay . . . and people still think Liberals are gay friendly!? Someone please explain to me how that works!

So, now that I’ve given an overview of the more . . . political part of my observations, I do have to go to the everyday bullsh*t I have to go through. I am a proud man, and I refuse to be made ashamed by something like my skin color, heritage, sexual orientation or anything else that some liberal idiot has decided matters for some odd reason. But I have recently found myself being afraid of admitting that I’m gay. Why? Because I am going to be discriminated against. It’s that simple. However, it is not the Conservative Bloc I blame; it is not the religious communities. I blame the people who decided, for some odd reason, that the fact that I am gay is somehow important . . . it is defining of me somehow. Being gay has stopped being about who you date, who you sleep with, who you live with, its become about how you eat, how you live, how you vote, what you believe. Being gay somehow twists the world into a beast where more government control is good, where traditions of any kind are evil, where the correct is made evil, where life itself is wrong. Gay makes the world a different place. No longer women more natural nurturers, or men more athletic, the mere idea of this is evil. Immoral. Gay makes the world a place where natural law is good when I says that gay just happens, but wrong when it says that men enjoy sports more than women. It says that it’s ok for women to chose, but only if they chose as they will it, because clearly, no woman would want to be a mother.

All of these things, having no providence in the realm of romance, is now of crucial importance to the fact that I’m gay. So I have to ask, who high jacked my life and made it a target for people’s shooting practice?

The obvious answer is: The Religious Right. The truth? The Psychotic Left. This can easily be construed as a coincidence. After all, Correlation does not Imply Causation. SO, this brings me to the claim of my observations, the tying it all together, this is what is really going to get me angry replies and screams: Liberals are magnanimously more homophobic than Conservatives. And the claim that’s going to get me shot: Gays hate themselves. That’s it; no one hates them more than they hate themselves. The one thing that I refuse to do, the one thing that they do not understand, the simple fact that they’re groveling is nothing more than an act of self-loathing.

So, part one: Liberals are far more homophobic than the Conservatives, well, I already said this: A Gay vs. a Man with questionable choices, A Gay vs. a Man. That’s all. I do believe this explains why Liberals place so much emphasis on sexuality. They are terrified and disgusted by it. Their crusades are nothing more than a clever cover for their need to hate something. The same thing I would claim about feminists, they hate women.

The second part: Gays hate themselves. This is the only reason I can think of that would explain their sheer need to point out that they’re gay. Not just that they’re gay, but also explain their need to have this simple and secondary fact define their entire existence. So instead of owning up that they’re not normal, they flaunt it with such painful effectiveness that even other gay people feel disgusted. So this is why I have started to feel the need to hide the fact that I’m gay, not because of my fellow Conservatives, but because the Gay Rights Psychos will not be able to resist the urge to associate me with them and their flawed ideologies.

So there it is. A simple predecessor to a far more complex and researched project, one aimed not at securing more liberties for gays at the expense of everyone else, but one at securing everyone’s rights from the gay rights movement. One that states it clearly and simply: you’re not special, you’re just human, get over yourself. You get no special rights, and most especially not when it’s at the expense of the people you claim to help.

 

Grendel and the Higgs Boson

I’ve just finished reading John Gardner’s Grendel and I had to write a short blurb about it. This is what I wrote, I intended to make it longer, but I had a page limit.

The Higgs Boson.

Grendel’s attitude and his behavior are highly elegant and philosophical. And as Ayn Rand once put it, “all work is an act of philosophy” and extending the assumption further, all existence is an act of philosophy as well, especially Grendel’s. It is because of this that Grendel is the only solid character and the only defining thing in the entire novel. The story is entirely defined and dependant on him.

If it were not obvious from the title of the novel, Grendel asserts himself as the stronger (and almost only) force in the work. Unlike in other works, where titular characters are unaware of their situation or their influences, Grendel is aware of his situation: “Nothing was changed, everything was changed, by my having seen the dragon (Gardner, 75)” He is aware of both the fact that for the world around, him, everything remains exactly the same, yet as for himself and the dragon, everything is different. Grendel is incredibly aware of the changes, or rather, the flux, of his existence and its ultimate meaninglessness. Grendel’s world is reduced to himself, although this discovery, this philosophy, does in no way stand against its opposing force: the importance of the self and the individual.  His voice then, characterized by short, descriptive clauses: “I blink. I stare in horror (Gardner, 5)” sets the tone for the further expression of his ego, and allows for the reader to understand that the world is reduced to Grendel because he considers himself to be the only thing worth noticing.

Grendel’s reductionist philosophy takes him down a nihilistic rabbit hole: “nihil ex nihilo (Gardner, 150)” Out of nothing, nothing exists, except for the observer, that is, both Grendel and the reader. This is exemplified and clearly pointed out in the one statement that defines him: “I understood that the world is nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly place our hopes and fears. I understood that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or that I push against, blindly- as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back. I create the whole universe, blink by blink. (Gardner, 21-22)”

Each sentence containing the word ‘I’ is then set apart, not merely as a causality, but as a rigid, undeniable and unquestioning statement of Grendel’s unshakable sense of life. It is obvious, that Grendel Is. Like the Higgs Boson, Grendel gives existence to himself and it is only when he tricked by Beowulf that he shows any sign of losing his control, even then as he lies bleeding to death, his final words haunt and define the future of his destroyers: “So may you all (Gardner, 174)”

Translations of the Tao Te Ching

By Steven Gregory.

One of the oldest texts in the world, the Tao Te Ching, also happens to be one of the most widely translated books in history. Although its true origins are somewhat unknown, its teachings are said to have began sometime during the Zhou Dynasty, when, as fable has it, a woman finally gave birth to a wrinkly baby with grey hair, after more than 50 years (62 years according to legend) of pregnancy. Laozi, or ‘Old Master’, began teaching himself in the high courts, and soon became disillusioned with the Chinese government and decided to leave. Before leaving however, a guard on China’s border pleaded the wise man to write down his teachings, and thus the Tao Te Ching was born. Composed of 80 chapters, or small poems, Laozi’s teachings deliver a broad spectrum of thought-provoking philosophy that has actually evolved into a religion. Eventually this ancient text was introduced to the West, but unfortunately because there are many cultural and idealistic concepts present in this book for which the West has no knowledge of (or even a word for), the translations are heavily subjective and based on interpretation of the translator. There tend to be three major categories of translations however, the literal translation, the poetic translation, and of course the political translation.

Undoubtedly the most controversial and interpretative chapter is the first. Although across the many translations it expresses the same principal idea, language and diction gives the text different connotations. For example, in the translation by Ursula K. Le Guin, the excerpt, “So the unwanting soul sees what’s hidden, and the ever-wanting soul sees only what it wants” the wording is expressed in a more poetic undertone, suggesting its meaning in not only a physical, but a spiritual sense, unlike the more materialistic translation by S. Mitchell stating, “Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations” which expresses the same general idea, just in a more interpretative and physical sense, rather than with the spiritual aspect. Similarly, Mitchell’s opening chapter states, “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name” which does attempt to interpret any Eastern concepts, is generally more difficult to understand because of this, compared to the much more flowery “A way can be a guide, but not a fixed path; names can be given, but not permanent labels.” In this translation by Thomas Cleary, the Tao is interpreted to be ‘A way’, a Western idea that does not actually have the same meaning as ‘The Tao’. In fact, the distinction is even made between this ‘way’ as being not a path to follow, but a ‘guide’, even though The Tao is really neither.

In similar fashion, the 77th chapter is an excellent example of how the Tao Te Ching can be interpreted in a more political sense, focusing on the physical and moral implications amongst a greater society. The excerpt “Those who try to control, who use force to protect their power, go against the direction of the Tao. They take from those who don’t have enough and give to those who have far too much. ” by S. Mitchell chiefly exemplifies this by establishing the presence of the very specific ‘force’ and ‘power’, both words that are usually associated with the government. This is a very political interpretation of the Tao Te Ching as opposed to Yi-Ping Ong’s “It is the Way of Heaven to remove where there is excess and add where there is lack. The way of people is different: they take away where there is need and add where there is surplus” which uses words like ‘excess’ and ‘lack’ that are much more broad and encompassing, thus expanding the overall meaning of the passage beyond just the implied idea of controlling force like a government.

These minor differences amongst the many translations of the Tao Te Ching may not seem like important elements of Taoism, but for a Westerner reading such a translation it may in fact have a surprising effect on that persons view and understanding of The Tao. This is why it is quite important for readers to try and see these various interpretations. This also points to the immense flexibility of the already ambiguous text and philosophy.

Why I am Taoist

Over the years, since as I was old enough to read, I have hungered for knowledge. Knowledge, my Dad always told me, is power, and as cliché as that sounds, he’s right. And that hunger has overwhelmed all of the other thing s that a human craves: acceptance, community, happiness, and just recently, spirituality. Perhaps the one thing I haven’t been able to lose is my ability to love, and that seriously bothers me.
My quest for knowledge brought me face-a-face with religion, and I soaked up what it had to teach. I’ve been Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Pagan, and Agnostic, before I finally managed to see though all of the illusions, and wove my own. Catholicism has roots in paganism, Mormonism had roots in the Occult teachings of the Great Hermes, the same Hermes that taught Anton Le Vey and Alistair Crowley about the Demons of Hell and of the Satanic tradition, Islam was Judaism and Catholicism repackaged with hints of Arabian Paganism, Paganism was based on imagination and love. And every religion I’ve been a part (save Paganism) requires your fear and your blind adoration. They require that once you’ve accepted them, you cannot accept any other knowledge, and if you do, it must be though their filter. Religion, is indeed a virus, it drives men and women mad, insane with a pathetic urge to make life mean exactly what they want it to be. It drives them to embrace their own selfless ambitions and ideas because it gives them the illusion of power; it gives them something to back up their prejudices and their rage,
And that was one thing that I never managed to learn. My prejudices are backed up by me, my own selfish desires, not someone else’s. Agnosticism allowed me the luxury of apathy, but I grew sick of it, apathy can be beautiful, but most often it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. I wanted more, and I stumbled into Atheism, and my world made sense again.
As an atheist I grew, faster than I did before. The rules of other people began to fail to apply to me, everything began to evolve into something coherent and progressive, rather than obscene and repressive like faith. The great arguments that I listened to in religion became just mouth moving, uttering words that only make sense if you believe in other words, that on their own are just as meaningless as the first. Arguing with such men is futile, they circle around their lies like vultures around a corpse, and nothing can bring them down. I’m not saying its not fun to argue with them, but you never manage to get anywhere.
But I realized as I went along that everything I believed in, in a philosophical sense already had a name. It had a holy book, and that holy book had been in my possession for years: the Tao Te Ching of Laozi.
The Tao Te Ching is still my holy book of choice, its nothing really holy about it, its nothing more than 5000 Chinese characters written on paper, and overall it seems nothing more than a collection of poems. To others it s political manifesto, but to me, it’s a set of paradoxes that appear to be absurd to most, but those who have seen beyond their own illusions, it’s a guide, a subtle but firm guide that points in all directions at once. I believe that the Tao is something most people who can see though the illusion follow on their own, they don’t need the Tao Te Ching, but it helps. The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. And so I follow the Tao as a philosophy, not as a religion. I am still an Atheist, but I am also a Taoist, I suspect tht before I graduate, I may even have lost the Tao and moved on, but that is also what I believed about Anam Cara, and I still (sadly) believe in that, despite the evidence against it (Patrik, Trevor, Tatum, Daniel)
To me Laozi and Zhuangzi are great teachers who much like Jesus, had an intelligence that far surpassed that of everyone else. They had vision, they had a truth in their eyes that could not be denied, a madness that can only be found when a human finds himself face to face with the undeniable reality of our world, beyond the illusions and the lies and the dreams that never seem to go away.

I feel, out of place in my world, the older generation seems hell-bent on holding on to their traditions, traditions that are nothing more than an overgrown and overstayed fad. And as I see younger people, I see the same mistakes, recycled again, with their own feverish idealism and a complete disregard for reality. When I see the older set, I feel a sense of pleasure knowing that soon they will be faced with rot and ash, their belief nothing but memories in the cosmos, their existence nothing more than a hint of the past. When I see the younger people around I feel sad, knowing that my life will be dictated to me by their collective naitivite. Some make me envious, that i can’t feel that sense of humility, sometimes I fear that I may crave that sentiment of happiness, of unitary. And then I see the shadows behind the spiraling minarets, I see the beggars in the alleys under the beautiful temples, and I remember that these young people only are one with the beauty and ignore the ugly. All the world knowing that beauty is beautiful makes ugliness. I hope that someday they realize that the higher they build and the higher they reach, the lower they drive other people, the deeper they are forced into the primal mud from which we came.