zhao

there are no accidents
in a tangent from the Giving Up Coffee thread in which Chaotropic started telling amazing stories about his cryptozoological expeditions.

I think it's important that some things aren't grounded, aren't accepted, aren't codified, aren't nailed down. So, the important thing about my kind of cryptozoology, isn't finding things, necessarily, but simply that the act of looking allows other people to have faith that the world is larger than they've been led to believe. In the same way that surrealism does. It sortof sanctions dreaming. Does that make sense? It's like, somebody in the world has to be doing this, otherwise nobody is doing it, & that what a boring world it would be if nobody was doing things like this.

I dunno. Anyway, Zhau, that's why I do it. It totally relates to music. I'm serious.
it does make sense and i understand/agree with/am all for those reasons. but at the same time it also makes counter-sense: in the act of "destroying" the mysterious you want to remind the world of the mysterious.

and similarly the surrealist agenda is 2 fold like this: one can convincingly argue that the basic impulse is still to bring the dark to light, make the unseen seen, the "conquering" of the irrational by the rational mind. surely what is not seen or represented is the real frightening mysterious?

but i think the work of Gabriel García Márquez and Salmon Rushdie functions slightly or a lot differently from the above. and some films and music and art do too. i like the idea of making things which jolt people out of their routine, quotidian reality - and the fact that this is needed (very much so IMO) is testament to the sad (in melancholic sense) state of the world.

the reign of the rational in "the west" is ridiculous, boring, and fuels an absurd sense of smug self righteousness. it is horrific and laughable that people do not believe in the possibility of something if no photo has been taken of it, or if current level of scientific understanding can not explain it. people like to, and do, think that they are more or less standing on a complete set of knowledge about everything under and above the sun, and this is simply far, far from the truth. (add this to the list here)

chinese medicine has maintained for 5 thousand years that the balance of the world and its inhabitants is being systematically destroyed, and that this is the main cause of all the collective sickness (environment, etc, etc etc etc) ---- too much light, not enough dark. too much reason, not enough intuition. too much thinking, not enough feeling. too masculine, not enough feminine. (but feminists, save your protests about stereotypes this and that - beside the point here)

with that said, does one need to have biology background to be in on this? let me know if you need a graphic designer/painter/dj along in russia next year i want find yeti!!! :)
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
That's one of the things I get out of magick - that broadening of the world and deepening of a sense of strangeness which is right there, and intimate with your life - it's also why I resist rationalist interpretations of these things ie. "it's all in your head".
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
in a tangent from the Giving Up Coffee thread in which Chaotropic started telling amazing stories about his cryptozoological expeditions.



it does make sense and i understand/agree with/am all for those reasons. but at the same time it also makes counter-sense: in the act of "destroying" the mysterious you want to remind the world of the mysterious.

and similarly the surrealist agenda is 2 fold like this: one can convincingly argue that the basic impulse is still to bring the dark to light, make the unseen seen, the "conquering" of the irrational by the rational mind. surely what is not seen or represented is the real frightening mysterious?

but i think the work of Gabriel García Márquez and Salmon Rushdie functions slightly or a lot differently from the above. and some films and music and art do too. i like the idea of making things which jolt people out of their routine, quotidian reality - and the fact that this is needed (very much so IMO) is testament to the sad (in melancholic sense) state of the world.

the reign of the rational in "the west" is ridiculous, boring, and fuels an absurd sense of smug self righteousness. it is horrific and laughable that people do not believe in the possibility of something if no photo has been taken of it, or if current level of scientific understanding can not explain it. people like to, and do, think that they are more or less standing on a complete set of knowledge about everything under and above the sun, and this is simply far, far from the truth. (add this to the list here)

chinese medicine has maintained for 5 thousand years that the balance of the world and its inhabitants is being systematically destroyed, and that this is the main cause of all the collective sickness (environment, etc, etc etc etc) ---- too much light, not enough dark. too much reason, not enough intuition. too much thinking, not enough feeling. too masculine, not enough feminine. (but feminists, save your protests about stereotypes this and that - beside the point here)

with that said, does one need to have biology background to be in on this? let me know if you need a graphic designer/painter/dj along in russia next year i want find yeti!!! :)
I'm going to be content to leave this thread alone after this, but feminism is NOT beside the point here. Being essentialized into a force that someone equates with being 'irrational' is highly suspect and problematic in all kinds of ways and just not cool. At all. And I'm not going to pretend it is because some people want to believe in magic.

That's all I'm going to say about that.

On top of this, we've already gone through the fact that there's tons people don't understand now. Tons and tons. This is a bunch of weird false dichotomy weirdness.
 
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Gavin

booty bass intellectual
in a tangent from the Giving Up Coffee thread in which Chaotropic started telling amazing stories about his cryptozoological expeditions.
the reign of the rational in "the west" is ridiculous, boring, and fuels an absurd sense of smug self righteousness. it is horrific and laughable that people do not believe in the possibility of something if no photo has been taken of it, or if current level of scientific understanding can not explain it.
I think the prevalence of new age beliefs, religion, creationism, conspiracy theories about Obama (people see his birth certificate and still DO NOT BELIEVE), etc. offers a rejoinder to this. Something like 75% of Americans believe in angels. Consumerism is underpinned by irrationality, that purchasing certain products will make you a better person. Europe may differ in some ways, but in the U.S. lay understanding of science has grown continually worse in the past few decades.

I think there are strong ideologies conditioning certain ways of believing (indeed, most people are NOT into seeing the weirdness of everyday life), but they are not exclusively rational/scientific.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
I think the prevalence of new age beliefs, religion, creationism, conspiracy theories about Obama (people see his birth certificate and still DO NOT BELIEVE), etc. offers a rejoinder to this. Something like 75% of Americans believe in angels. Consumerism is underpinned by irrationality, that purchasing certain products will make you a better person. Europe may differ in some ways, but in the U.S. lay understanding of science has grown continually worse in the past few decades.

I think there are strong ideologies conditioning certain ways of believing (indeed, most people are NOT into seeing the weirdness of everyday life), but they are not exclusively rational/scientific.
your observations are of course accurate. but they are on a different SCALE than my argument. what I am describing is on a scale of millennia, and not so much describing the particular irrational character of American consumers in recent years.

i don't disagree that america is ever sliding back toward the dark ages, which were of course not preferable to the age of reason.

and it is very much a product of the dark ages from which europe only emerged recently: this fear of the irrational and your, and Dawkin's, and Mr Tea's, and many other "progressives"' negative attitudes toward anything mystical and even denial of the "spiritual dimension".
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
Gavin, that's a really good point, and in fact, I was just talking to M. about this yesterday w/r/t the whole Bill Maher-vaccine debacle.

While Maher seems so good at identifying the ideological slant that's operating behind so many cultural phenomena (including global warming, fwiw), he seems completely unable to recognize the extent to which he's bought into the Bush administration's "belief is more important than reality" ideological imperative when it comes to vaccines.

Vaccines just feel wrong to him, so it doesn't matter how many people explain to him that there's no reason why pregnant women shouldn't get them, and that in fact it's very important that pregnant women get innoculated to H1N1 if they can, he just shrugs them off. Maher's last resort is to insist that, well, scientists don't know everything. There are things rationality and logic can't teach us.

This is *exactly* the ideology that ultimately justified the War in Iraq (Islam just feels wrong, the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction--even if we can't prove it, we just KNOW they do!), that justifies teaching "ID theory" in schools, and which in fact is undermining every attempt to create a cogent majority of socialist-leaning democrats who believe reality isn't up for grabs.

Frustrating.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Sigh. Round and round goes the machine of strawmannish misinterpretation, like the wheel of karma... ;)

Zhao, I've spoken at length about this before but I'll put it down once again just for good measure. Atheists and rationalists are, believe it or not, perfectly capably of appreciating great art and music, falling in love and feeling refreshed and renewed by standing on a mountain top and gazing out over the world in all directions. If you want to call this "spirituality" then I'm every bit as spiritual as you, I'd bet my last penny. The difference is just that I can appreciate that these feelings come from a sense of connection to the direct unmediated experience, rather than having to do with any ghostly Tao or Holy Spirit floating around the place - I think the phrase you used recently was "collective consciousness", which again is a mystical concept with no basis in reality so I'm prepared to treat it more or less as a synonym for God. Maybe for you, the direct experience is some kind of Tao or Buddha or immanent Spinozian God, but I reject this on the grounds that experience is by definition subjective and if there were no sentient beings around to experience things, there'd be no experience.

So please stop trying to characterise "people like [me]" as cold grey unfeeling automata or jackbooted ontological fascists, OK? Remember Dawkins' quote (edit: looks like it was actually Douglas Adams - maybe I heard Dawkins quote it once, or perhaps it was on one of his buses): "Isn't it enough to appreciate a beautiful garden without believing there are fairies living at the bottom of it?" - note that he nonetheless sees the beauty of the garden, and appreciates the garden as a wonderful thing in its own right as well as a micro-ecosystem of interacting species which exist because of the tendency of DNA to propagate itself. The two views are not incompatible. And who's to say he doesn't feel an even deeper connection to the garden than someone who sees it as an expression of divine creation or some grand cosmic pattern, as opposed to the result of blind chance and physical law?

Not that I think Dawkins is necessarily the best (un-)evangelist for atheism (irony intentional, before you leap in!), but I guess I am fundamentally on his 'side' here. Maybe a better figurehead is David Attenborough: I mean, how many people in the world could honestly be said to have a more "spiritual" connection to the various living creatures that inhabit it? Maybe your Dobe dudes or the various pockets of people here and there who live in comparable societies, I dunno. But Attenborough's an atheist through and through. Perhaps the real wonder and mystery comes about because all this beauty and terror (and even cosmic ridiculousness) that we see around us arises purely from impersonal physical law and the ineffable dictums of mathematics, rather than from some Godhead or irrational life-force? Perhaps, in the end, that's an even greater miracle?
 
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Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Gavin, that's a really good point, and in fact, I was just talking to M. about this yesterday w/r/t the whole Bill Maher-vaccine debacle.

While Maher seems so good at identifying the ideological slant that's operating behind so many cultural phenomena (including global warming, fwiw), he seems completely unable to recognize the extent to which he's bought into the Bush administration's "belief is more important than reality" ideological imperative when it comes to vaccines.

Vaccines just feel wrong to him, so it doesn't matter how many people explain to him that there's no reason why pregnant women shouldn't get them, and that in fact it's very important that pregnant women get innoculated to H1N1 if they can, he just shrugs them off. Maher's last resort is to insist that, well, scientists don't know everything. There are things rationality and logic can't teach us.

This is *exactly* the ideology that ultimately justified the War in Iraq (Islam just feels wrong, the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction--even if we can't prove it, we just KNOW they do!), that justifies teaching "ID theory" in schools, and which in fact is undermining every attempt to create a cogent majority of socialist-leaning democrats who believe reality isn't up for grabs.
The word that you're looking for (and the Zhao seems worryingly close to an apology for) is "truthiness".
 

zhao

there are no accidents
the problem with the Dawkins' severely stunted world view, is that while making sound criticism of certain modern and indeed fucked up kinds of irrationalism, it denies the existence of the mystical dimension of existence, and its central importance in the life of humans.

there is a very sad, in the melancholic sense, breed of "progressives" whose experience of life is entirely limited to the rationalist upbringing that has shaped them, and are incapable of imagining other ways of life as being anything legitimate, much less desirable.

the very real world inhabited by the people Chaotropic has encountered, traditional cultures where the spirit world is directly superimposed upon the quotidian one, where everyday life is filled with wonder, mystery, and the miraculous --- this is a wonderful and rich life, whose wealth modern impoverished people can not understand or even imagine.

phenomenon such as televangelism and believing in angels are testament to the central need that people feel for the spiritual experience, except they have been cheated with a consumerist at best, fundamentalist brainwashed at worst, version of it. it is spirituality in candy coated pill form, while the real thing takes thinking for oneself and active, disciplined seeking of a higher plane.

but the real thing exists. and i feel sorry for those who don't realize that it does.

what you lot are responding to is the fucked up consumerist corrupted version of "faith", "superstition", and "spirituality", and you mistakenly think that that is all there is. pity.

you people will likely continue ignore what I'm saying, refuse to address important points like you did my response to Gavin above, and insist on having parallel conversations. and i understand that this is because you are incapable of allowing for the possibility of reality being far more complex and bigger than your precious newtonian rationalist universe. shame.
 
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nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
@Slothrop, yes, exactly! Forgot about that one, Colbert is a genius.

Sigh. Round and round goes the machine of strawmannish misinterpretation, like the wheel of karma... ;)

Zhao, I've spoken at length about this before but I'll put it down once again just for good measure. Atheists and rationalists are, believe it or not, perfectly capably of appreciating great art and music, falling in love and feeling refreshed and renewed by standing on a mountain top and gazing out over the world in all directions. If you want to call this "spirituality" then I'm every bit as spiritual as you, I'd bet my last penny. The difference is just that I can appreciate that these feelings come from a sense of connection to the direct unmediated experience, rather than having to do with any ghostly Tao or Holy Spirit floating around the place - I think the phrase you used recently was "collective consciousness", which again is a mystical concept with no basis in reality so I'm prepared to treat it more or less as a synonym for God. Maybe for you, the direct experience is some kind of Tao or Buddha or immanent Spinozian God, but I reject this on the grounds that experience is by definition subjective and if there were no sentient beings around to experience things, there'd be no experience.

So please stop trying to characterise "people like [me]" as cold grey unfeeling automata or jackbooted ontological fascists, OK? Remember Dawkins' quote: "Isn't it enough to appreciate a beautiful garden without believing there are fairies living at the bottom of it?" - note that he nonetheless sees the beauty of the garden, and appreciates the garden as a wonderful thing in its own right as well as a micro-ecosystem of interacting species which exist because of the tendency of DNA to propagate itself. The two views are not incompatible. And who's to say he doesn't feel an even deeper connection to the garden than someone who sees it as an expression of divine creation or some grand cosmic pattern, as opposed to the result of blind chance and physical law?

Not that I think Dawkins is necessarily the best (un-)evangelist for atheism (irony intentional, before you leap in!), but I guess I am fundamentally on his 'side' here. Maybe a better figurehead is David Attenborough: I mean, how many people in the world could honestly be said to have a more "spiritual" connection to the various living creatures that inhabit it? Maybe your Dobe dudes or the various pockets of people here and there who live in comparable societies, I dunno. But Attenborough's an atheist through and through. Perhaps the real wonder and mystery comes about because all this beauty and terror (and even cosmic ridiculousness) that we see around us arises purely from impersonal physical law and the ineffable dictums of mathematics, rather than from some Godhead or irrational life-force? Perhaps, in the end, that's an even greater miracle?
Seconded, every last word.

I've had all kinds of mind-expanding, mind-blowing moments working with and on science. The world still seems like a very mysterious place, full of things that need discovering and things that will probably never be fully understood. I'd go so far as to say I learn more everyday about what we don't know, and I have a much deeper appreciation for that now that I've opened my mind to the biological and physical sciences than I ever did before.

In fact, I have about five mind-expanding, mind-blowing epiphanies per second these days, it's truly amazing, and I'm glad I finally found something that makes life interesting and not-boring enough to feel worthwhile for me. (Took a long time...) I don't expect everyone to feel the same way I do--not everyone is going to geek out and spend hours reading and thinking about the discovery that sharks without vertebrae don't get cancer, in part because cartilage doesn't have blood vessels, and so we might be able to use this to lower our own cancer risk in the future, like I did the other day. But I do think the state of science education in the U.S. (and, from what I can tell, most of Europe) is appalling, and the ignorance that results is part of the reason why well-meaning people are so easily led to believe dangerous nonsense.

Another thing: I wasn't "raised" a "rationalist"...far from it, actually, I was raised by deeply religious people (although yeah my father was chemist but ALSO a reformed Jesus hippie) and was turned off from religion from day one by actually being exposed to it. This country is a deeply religious place, and is about as full of mystics as you're going to get in the first-world. I never believed a word of that shit and I never will. I don't believe that the son of a God-raped "virgin" is my Lord and savior, and I'm not bowing down to anybody, and I'm not going to suck all of the mystery out of the universe by pretending I've found the answers to all of the universe's mysteries through mental telepathy with a Sky Daddy and strict adherence to a Holy Book (insert choice here). I don't think there's anybody with a plan for anyone out there. We need to make our own plans.

I'm sorry for you Zhao, because for all of your pomo relativism, you sure can be a fascist about what people "should" believe. You think you've found the Holy Mountain, and you're the holiest one, and everyone else is just brainwashed, etc. etc. It's like paint-by-numbers at this point. We get it. Teh sceintis is teh big MEANIES they want to take my mystical worldview away. Go ahead and have it. Nobody cares. There are all kinds of people who think just like you. There are book stores on every corner in San Francisco full of books about the kind of rhetoric you spout. The things you are saying are not that original.
 
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nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
the very real world inhabited by the people Chaotropic has encountered, traditional cultures where the spirit world is directly superimposed upon the quotidian one, where everyday life is filled with wonder, mystery, and the miraculous --- this is a wonderful and rich life, whose wealth modern impoverished people can not understand or even imagine.
First of all, if the traditional cultures have a spiritual life based on mysticism, that IS their "quotidian" (which is just a latin word that means "daily" or "everyday") existence. For them, belief in spirits might seem (probably seems) as utterly banal as meteorology is to us.

What you are doing here is glamorizing/fetishizing another culture from an "etic" perspective... sort of like Orientalism, only in thise case, it seems like your target is Africa, not the East.

You do this a lot. There's no shame in liking African culture, liking African stuff, but Africa is not paradise on earth, and it never has been. There have been great things about living in Africa, and terrible things, just like there's great and terrible things about living in America.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
And also, stop projecting. You have no idea whether Richard Dawkins, or anyone else you don't know for that matter, is "sad" or "melancholic."

That's just fucking ridiculous.
 

lanugo

von Verfall erzittern
Mr. Dawkins is very much at peace with modern life:

Dawkins has the enthusiasm of a teenage geek for new technology. "I love my iPhone," he confesses. "I'm on my third already." Then he shows me another phone app, this time simulating Darwinian natural selection. As each generation of a populace is born, the appearance of the group of individuals on screen varies. As Sir David Attenborough walks past and says hello, I feel secretly relieved we aren't still laughing at the lager trick. "Do you find it difficult to switch off from technology?" "Aha, yes," he says with a dark chuckle, straightaway. And do you ever get in trouble for that? He laughs again.
Independent

Oh, and what ever happened to his plans to found a vacation camp for atheistic children? Did that ever happen?

Difficile est saturam non scribere.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
the reign of the rational in "the west" is ridiculous, boring, and fuels an absurd sense of smug self righteousness.
other people already pointed that rationalism doesn't reign in quote unquote the West so I won't bother repeating what they said. I could say that Western rationalism has fueled your education, your profession, the laptop you chatter away on, your DJ gigs, your entire existence as a self-described "urban nomad", and on & on, but what's the point? you are all the anarchopunk bands I grew up with, selling vinyl to pay for gasoline so you can tour around & shout about who much you hate consumerism and car culture, only in a different context with different things to shout about and different things to sell.

it is horrific and laughable that people do not believe in the possibility of something if no photo has been taken of it, or if current level of scientific understanding can not explain it.
I don't think you understand science, even a little. there is no such thing as an absolute 100% certainty. there are things which can be disproved. theories can change, unlike your endless diatribe about ancient wisdom, mystical this & wonderful which all falls into the category of things which are "not even wrong", as they say.

there is a very sad
I'm quite happy to be into science, actually, and so are most of the people I know who study or teach or work in a scientific field. if anything, science opens up your imagination to limitless possibilities. which is why it's especially ironic that you think it does the opposite.

this is a wonderful and rich life, whose wealth modern impoverished people can not understand or even imagine.
I wonder if you've ever been to a place where people don't believe in science. where having sex with virgins is supposed to be a cure for AIDS, for example. or simply to place where people actually are impoverished. I swear to god, sometimes I just cannot handle your exotification/fetishization of just about everything under the sun. it's only slightly less aggravating than your quest to create a false division between Rational Scientists & People Who Believe in Mystical Stuff.

and i understand that this is because you are incapable of allowing for the possibility of reality being far more complex and bigger than your precious newtonian rationalist universe. shame.
you are literally the most smug & arrogant man in the world. no, really.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
Clearly, what's really going on here is the CERN thread unearthed some well-buried, unresolved conflict from childhood, when Zhao felt bullied by his parents' overly sterile, scientific, rationalist worldview (which he came to equate with and blame for their unloving and/or hurtful behavior toward him).

When we espouse views that remind Zhao of his parents' rationalism, which he found oppressive and limiting and stunting to his own development, wounds reopen, yadda yadda. He tends to fall into reactive patterns, and restages the earlier conflicts so he can be in a better position to "win" this time around.

Zhao: we are not your parents. We may be annoying science nerds, and Mr. Tea may be an MA in Physics, but we are not trying to purposely hurt you with our views. We're just being us because that's all we know how to do. We like you. Don't take it personally that we disagree with you. Don't assume we're sad or bitter or spiteful like your parents were. We're not your parents.

Thank you for understanding.

We <3 you. Just stop with the silly put downs.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
edit: quotation added

Clearly, what's really going on here is the CERN thread unearthed some well-buried, unresolved conflict from childhood, when Zhao felt bullied by his parents' overly sterile, scientific, rationalist worldview (which he came to equate with and blame for their unloving and/or hurtful behavior toward him).

When we espouse views that remind Zhao of his parents' rationalism, which he found oppressive and limiting and stunting to his own development, wounds reopen, yadda yadda. He tends to fall into reactive patterns, and restages the earlier conflicts so he can be in a better position to "win" this time around.

Zhao: we are not your parents. We may be annoying science nerds, and Mr. Tea may be an MA in Physics, but we are not trying to purposely hurt you with our views. We're just being us because that's all we know how to do. We like you. Don't take it personally that we disagree with you. Don't assume we're sad or bitter or spiteful like your parents were. We're not your parents.

Thank you for understanding.

We <3 you. Just stop with the silly put downs.


nomad you have no idea what i am talking about. because what i am talking about is outside of your world view.

i never said africa. when describing the close connection with a spirit world, i was mainly thinking of indonesia, thailand, india, and china where i was born and raised. so there is no "exoticizing" anything. i am praising the merits of "non-rational" or "meta-rational" ways of life, and the richness of experience it affords.

the condescension and hostility you display makes it clear that you yourself have some issues brought on by my posts. but i am not interested in discrediting you on personal terms, or reducing your thoughts and passions to results of abuse in your childhood.

so please stop this train of reductionist and patronizing personal attacks NOW, before things get out of hand again and you end up crying and running from the forum a 4th time.
 
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zhao

there are no accidents
everyone who have responded thus far, Gavin, Padraig, Tea, Nomad, etc. (with the exception of DannyL, who seems to be on the same page):

i both appreciate and ABSOLUTELY AGREE with most of what you are saying -- but we are having a parallel conversation, and are talking about different things.

i am not for the irrationalism of the fundies, whether christian or muslim. i am not for killing in the name of religion, whether the inquisition or iraqi war.

what i am for is indetermincy, intuition, empathy, emotional logic, music, the sensuality of incense and ritual, the poetry of shadows, a spirit world interwoven with the everyday, folk tales like endless tapestry which saturates every aspect of life, the kind of culture which writers like Salmon Rushdie try to describe -- a non-rational (not the same as irrational) way of reading and experiencing the world, steeped in spiritual traditions which enrich in ways that modern (not only western) society has largely lost.

Padraig, i have not traveled nearly enough (and stories like Chaotropic's make me desperately want to), but i was born and raised in China, which did give me access to a reality which is different from the modern world. and having lots of friends from places like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Morrocco, their cultures and experiences have always fascinated and inspired me, all of which informing what i am saying in this thread.

your accusations of "exoticization" is an empty and impotent one, for i have, since birth, always believed and felt the way i do today. and my passion for things difficult to place a finger on, for realms hidden from superficial glances, for that which words can not describe, only grows with the passing of each year.

my music is about this. it is about traditional, spiritual music from all over the world being both ancestral and directly connected to the electronic beats of today.

you can call it "exoticizing the other" if you want to. makes not the slightest of differences to me or the people who get it and appreciate it.
 
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mixed_biscuits

_________________________
for a spirit world interwoven with the everyday
This is an interesting essay:

Alienation and Animism

Animism is spontaneous, the ‘natural’ way of thinking for humans: all humans began as animistic children and for most of human evolutionary history would have grown into animistic adults. It requires sustained, prolonged and pervasive formal education to ‘overwrite’ animistic thinking with the rationalistic objectivity typical of the modern world. It is this learned abstraction that creates alienation – humans are no longer embedded in a world of social relations but become estranged, adrift in a world of indifferent things.
Animism is not a religious or philosophical doctrine, neither is it an ‘error’ made by people too young or too primitive to know better; animism is nothing less than the fundamental mode by which human consciousness regards the world. Consciousness just is animistic. And this perspective is a consequence of human evolutionary history.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
where the spirit world is directly superimposed upon the quotidian one, where everyday life is filled with wonder, mystery, and the miraculous --- this is a wonderful and rich life

Zhao, do you not think there's any dangers in this though? At least, when such beliefs are acted out on a social level? I was reading "Mama Lola" by Karen McCarthy Brown (which is great and I'd unreservedly recommend btw) - it's an acocunt, biography really of a Haitian Voodoo priestess in New York by an academic who ends up become an initate herself. I was struck by the amount of times bad events were blamed on the malice of unspecified indviduals which was said to be operating through cursing. I've encountered this first hand as well - a friend of my Dad's, who knew of my interests in this kind of thing, told me he thought there was someone "working against him" when he was ill. Struck me as pretty paranoid really.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think I'd be happy in a world where these things are indulged on a social level. I'm happier with the secular, evidence based world view which we have in in contrast.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
I was watching one of the videos on another Dissensus thread of Mos Def vs Christopher Hitchens..Mos was talking about "everyone having a religion" (before Hitchens started being highly critical of him :slanted:) ie conceiving religion and spirituality (how that word has been devalued recently, unfortunately) as the way in which everyone has connection to something sacred, and not in a narrow sense.

It's true that life in "Western"/"Northern" countries can be annoyingly 'rational' sometimes, especially when this 'rationality' is underpinned in many by a blind faith in capitalism/profit motive as somehow unquestionable, which itself becomes a religion of sorts. Yet, as others have said, there are great things that have come from the scientific disciplines as they have come to be understood and used in the West.

Belief systems, wherever they come from, have positive and negative things that can be taken from them. To me, the fact that the West ended up in thrall to Rationality (to whatever extent you believe this is true) seems entirely contingent - if Africa or South Asia had become industrialised first (or rather, if Europe hadn't destroyed African industrail potential right at the critical point where it could have moved into an industrial age), then it's quite possible (highly probable, actually) things would be the other way around, so to speak. After all, there's a great deal of belief in the unseen in Western societies historically.

And theories such as gravity are themselves just theories postulating forces that we can't 100 per cent be sure exist and just account for the everyday phenomena we see, right? So equating science with cold rationality seems wrong in the first place - science can be beautiful itself.

In sum, surely there's room for both?
 
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