Apologies for being so long in posting. A few things have happened…none too life-threateningly a deal, but all contributing to my truancy here at the blog. The first was that my immediate and part of my extended family went to the beach at the end of August (as I finished up my last post) whereupon, on the second day, I promptly got sun poisoning…which, if you’ve never had it, I would highly recommend you stay away. That? Er…was not pleasant. It was my feet, a common culprit as I understand. They swelled to the size of bread loaves, caused me nausea and headaches, and I couldn’t wear shoes for ten days.
To a lesser degree I burned the shit out of my neck and chest as well, and currently everything continues to peel with great frequency and in copious amounts. On some mornings I wake up wondering if I had not in fact been skinned and flayed alive in my sleep by some protagonist. It is…quite disgusting, I can assure you.
Now, this was not, as some Calvinists might claim, an act of a sovereign God, nor can this be attributed to my “sin nature”; nor, for the objectivist determinists in our midst, a perfunctory outcome of the inexorable “laws of nature/physics” (the law of thermodynamics most readily coming to mind…ha, ha, ha [wryly]). Not that I wouldn’t love to attribute this act of supreme stupidity to an all-pervasive force like God or cosmic laws, or “objective reality” (whatever the fuck that means; honestly, I’ve rarely run across a more perfunctory and obtuse phrase). But alas, that would in fact be in frank denial of efficacious reality, which is simply this:
I was a fucking idiot.
I didn’t wear sunscreen, like I knew I should. I didn’t sit in the shade, like I knew I should. I assumed that the fine and robust breeze from the ocean was not only keeping me cool but protecting me from the destructive effects of an observable and demonstrable giant ball of fire in the sky, of which I should have known better.
That, and nothing else, is the cause of my sun poisoning. And the moral of the story is: Argo will not ever let that shit happen again. Ever. Cuz it suuuuuuuucked. And somewhere–and I understand how controversial this statement is to our Reformed compatriots and our objectivist determinists who read from the virtual ether out there–but somewhere I feel like God is nodding his head in approval and thinking, ‘That’s why I gave you a brain, eegit. Cause and effect may only be a concept, but concepts are intended to promote life as a natural outcome of self-awareness combined with observation. And in this case “pale white man in sun too long means pale white man no longer so pale…pale white man become puffy red man who prays for death”‘.
Lesson learned, my friends. Lesson learned.
After we returned from the beach trip (which for me was a staying-in-the-shade-of-his-room-while-everyone-else-went-out-and-had-fun-without-him trip, my wife promptly left town on business for a week, which left me caring for and peeling all over my two daughters. A task that I don’t mind but is infinitely easier with another adult around…especially when that adult can wear shoes and, you know, walk normally.
Then my wife returned home whereupon I promptly came down with a dreadful cold because the weather here in Pennsylvania dropped something like thirty-five degrees literally overnight. When I realized that we hadn’t actually been hit by a meteor and were not all going to die for the same reasons that killed the dinosaurs, I realized that I was going to get sick because that shit always happens when the weather changes so drastically.
And in the midst of all of that I was casting pearls before a swine known as “Tom” over on John Immel’s blog, SpiritualTyranny.com, in the hopes that someone, somewhere was reading and could see the points I was making and find some comfort in them, because “Tom” sure as hell wasn’t ever going to; and maybe it’s because he lacks the intellectual capacity but probably because he’s sort of a colossal asshole. And this really stressed me out because I finally realized what a massive waste of time the whole exercise had been. On a blog where I don’t moderate I cannot possibly see who, if anyone, is reading, and therefore, since no one else was commenting (for obvious reasons…all who tried were summarily and violently assaulted with the worst kind of verbal horror from that idiot), I understood that for all I knew I was simply trying to turn a brick into a bird…yes, therefore, I did what I should have done something like one million years ago and quit the whole stupid square dance, cold turkey.
As you can see, I’m pretty pissed about it. At myself and just generally, you know? The moral of the story is that at a certain point people aren’t going to get your message. Those people do exist, and they can be anyone at all. And that’s fine. It happens. I can’t do calculus. I just can’t. And some people can’t do this. They just can’t. And when you throw on top of that an attitude that isn’t fit for the worst kind of viper, I mean…you gotta cut your losses. There are still people out there who think the world is flat, is what I’m saying. There are Ph.D.’s out there running the most venerable of scientific institutions who claim that the universe is however many billions of years old while at the same time declaring that time was created after the Big Bang.
Try figuring out that mind-fuck.
You can argue with them for hours, and I have, but after a while you just have to let it go. Paradox is in our DNA. It is who we are as a civilization. It is the nature and inevitable product of the concession of our minds to four millennia of Platonist assumptions. And there are simply going to be people who are too far gone to ever think otherwise. It is perhaps because they are not able to; but in an equal measure, if not more so, it is because they have been psychologically programmed their whole lives to not want to. And it is only when these certain people have reached a place in their lives where their psychology and their situation form that perfect storm of utter frustration with and rejection of life combined with the indefatigable will to live…yes, it is only when these two existential states go to war deep in the soul that a complete rejection of ALL philosophical contradictions, be them scientific or religious, in favor of the only TRUTH which can possibly be true–a reasonable TRUTH–can begin to form. And only after that is it not a complete waste of time to argue with them. You can make points that they cannot refute; you can show them that in order to believe what they say they do they must accept that the restrictive tent of contradiction is where they must live, content with smoke-signal philosophy…that is, the burning of rational truth in favor of their peculiar message. But even after they concede this, or ignore it all together, they are simply incapable, I submit, of a redemption to reason. They have hardened their hearts and there is no cure for that from without. It is a choice they alone make and they alone can undo.
On a salient note, ignoring the contradictions is what both Tom and John Immel, I am sad to say, did. Tom because he would rather hurl feces like an angry monkey than concede his blatant insufficiency (and I cannot be more specific because I’m not sure if its intellectual or a function of his awful personality, or both…but whatever; he’s insufficient, is the point); and John because he didn’t have the time to put the requisite “intellectual capital” into the debate. Whatever the fuck that means.
I mean, either you are able to provide a rational and consistent counter-perspective or you are not. But to post a drive-by comment whereupon you accuse me of promoting a primacy of consciousness model (which…I deny the assumptions behind that label anyway) and then confess that you actually haven’t thought your criticism through is…well, at best uncharacteristic of John.
I think I offended him when I rightly claimed in a comment on his blog–in which the general point was to criticized his concession of the causal power of the laws of physics–that if indeed the laws of physics were actual and therefore causal they would be inexorably determinative, and therefore one could never be rationally held culpable for one’s “choices” as choice would naturally be impossible. If the laws of physics extend all the way to the most elementary of particles, and the brain of man which is the mind of man is comprised of those same particles, then it is impossible to separate thoughts from laws. And if you cannot separate thoughts from laws then you cannot argue for the ability of man to make choices, nor to observe “objective reality”, for the simple reason that if the laws of physics are inexorable and all pervasive to the point where the laws cannot be observed as distinct from the matter they “govern”, then one cannot make a distinction between man, his mind or his actions, and the inexorable and all-compelling laws of physics which cannot by definition be resisted, nor even observed, by anything or anyone. And this is because, in the presence of all-pervasive and all-compelling laws of physics, you cannot rationally claim the existence of anything or anyone outside of those laws. Everything and everyone is by logical extension of the very concept itself merely an extension of the absolute laws of physics, which are infinite and infinitely determinative, having no beginning nor end, because what is infinite and all-determining cannot possibly possess a beginning or an end.
This is both perfunctory logic and categorical reason, which can only ever help. But if one has decided that, for whatever reason, playing at truth is better than actually arriving at it because it offends one’s most deeply prized philosophy (for John I submit that this is utterly Objectivism); and that rationally consistent truth is thus something that is not particularly welcome…well, even those whose intellect you lionize become something rather pitiful. And I know that sounds harsh but…
I provided a premise and spent weeks upon weeks and stores upon stores of energy, and thousands upon thousands of words arguing with an idiot who took every opportunity to savage me and some of my dearest blog friends–people for which Tom would not be fit to scrub toilets–to defend and explain my ideas, and no one could refute them, and that’s a fact; and Tom even admitted as much; and John never did but he summarily went AWOL, so…. At any rate, what I got from John was merely a regurgitation of a previous accusation that I was a Platonist in Objectivist clothing (I despise both, and am neither,and have always rejected the fundamental premises of Objectivism) and a declaration that I was all wrong but he didn’t have the time nor the “intellectual capital” to explain why.
And that, besides being nonsense, is not to me how you discuss purely philosophical differences with friends. So I was forced to deduce that there is something more. Not that it particularly matters. The operative point I want to make concerning this episode is that the fault is mine. I assumed we were friends…but I had no real reason to believe this. I am merely a “commenter on [his] blog” (his very words), nothing more. And I accept that completely. Again, the fault is mine for assuming anything else. In retrospect, after spending time with John in person and having many, many conversations with him, I suppose I should have understood this from the beginning.
Which, again, is fine. I am sad, not because of this realization, but because I fell for the illusion. And again–and again–the fault is utterly mine. People are free to decide who amounts to what specific value to them in their specific context. It is a philosophical axiom I swear by and one that I will never, ever deny.
Anyway…because of all of that, you have seen me at moments few and far between here on this blog. But now that I am on the mend in all and every way, I look forward to getting back down to business. The next article, coming soon, will be a continuation of our look at collectivism disguised as “doctrinally sound” Christian orthodoxy. Don’t miss it!
21 thoughts on “My Blog Truancy, and Arguing with Those Who Have the Invinsible Advantage of Contradiction”
Hi Argo. I enjoyed reading your post. Keep them comin’. 🙂
Sorry about the burn. I tan easily, but have friends & relatives who do not. I know it can be very painful. Glad your family did not burn & enjoyed themselves. Even clouds do not prevent sunburns. I still sunscreen us all up. There are no extra points for being tan, just extra wrinkles. 😉
Glad to see your sense of humor & reality are intact.
I have different ideas about Tom & John. See what you think…
Tom first. Argo, I admired your steadfastness, tenacity, & patience in your explanations. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one reading. And there probably will be future readers there. That is your legacy there. Tom likes to cut & draw blood. He is intentionally that way to draw focus away from the ideas & to elicit an emotional response. You focused on the ideas. The more he concentrated on slashing, the more he exposed his primary purpose as bully that tries to rip others apart. Not a lovely debate, unfortunately. But it’s a revealing debate.
On to John. I have ideas swirling in my head, but it takes effort to organize & put them on paper in a way that communicates my ideas clearly (even so, they may still be muddy). It is a task to type. Sometimes I wish I could have conversations, because it’s much easier & Iess opportunity for misunderstanding & if there’s misunderstanding, clarification is swift. I think this is true for him as well. He has stated in the past how he’s amazed at Paul’s & your swiftness at pumping out posts like you do. I also think John’s focus may be on, ahem, well… a very worthy pursuit? Of course, I have nothing to substantiate this. Just a guess…. If so, then combine the two together & his posts & responses will be few. I would enjoy his insight on the matter, though.
I also think John does what he can to detract followers (not saying you are one, or that I am one) albeit he appreciates that his ideas have made a real difference. Another reason – he may have scars like many of us do. Whatever, a combo, or none of the above, I don’t think it’s personal.
Sincerely glad you’re on the mend! 🙂
Burnt on all fronts: the story of my life.
Tanning instead of burning I would consider a functional genetic superiority in this climate. Perhaps this leads to a greater temptation to expose yourself to sun for longer periods and without protection, but as is shown by my case, not tanning easily isn’t necessarily a deterrent to this behavior, lol.
At any rate, I’d rather have your skin. Not having to worry about sun poisoning to me is a priceless genetic gift. Call me jealous! Lol
Tom…what can I add? You nailed it. The sum and substance of his personality is that he is cruel. There is no affection for much of anything in his communiques, and that’s a function of personality which, in my experience, does not change because it is fomented during the young, formative years. Aside from a frontal lobotomy, there isn’t really any hope for Tom. That’s why I should have heeded my own advice and stayed away. Hopeless for Tom is the only thing I came away with from that conversation. He has conceded inability and therefore metaphysical failure as the root of man, and every comment drips with it. The only silver lining is that perhaps someone reading was affirmed and blessed by the dialog. Who knows?
John…well…it’s complicated. In my experience, he has an exceedingly clinical, professorial demeanor in person. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t lend itself well to my own personality, which is far more emotional and gregarious, even…frenetic, excitable. Together we make mud, and I am probably annoying, eventually, to someone like John.
That’s tangential to the point, but…it might help explain where I am coming from. We were bound to arrive at different philosophical conclusions, is my point. It was inevitable that he was going to accuse me of primacy of consciousness and I was going to accuse him of determinism. In retrospect, I saw this coming.
But this is a matter of personality not of reason, is my opinion.
Insofar as reason is concerned, only one of us is right. Everything I said in the above article concerning the absolute determinative power of physical laws is absolutely consistent and correct. There is no rational refutation, which means that any criticism must inevitably conclude with that old mystic saw, mystery.
An no matter how much I like John I cannot respect that as a legitimate truth. On the contrary, it contradicts truth by definition.
And that, as they say, is that.
So there is really no where left for us to go. The problem with both John and Paul D., whom I adore, is that when you parse their ideas aaaaaaaaaallll the way out you wind up in the same place as the very people they criticize. And that troubles me.
Not that they don’t have some great things to say–they do, of course–but the contradictions ultimately neutralize the overall message.
Solidarity, my sun-burned brother.:-)
Good luck with the sunburn. You know you should probably post a link because I have no idea which post on Immel’s site you’re talking about here.
Thanks. Much better. But I must say I was surprised at the level of swelling. I’d never experienced that before, and it was unnerving.
On John’s site you can read through the comments on the side. They are all basically a back and forth between me and Tom. They cover mostly the current article I think. I’d be more specific, but I am too tired right now.
http://www.spiritualtyranny.com is the site
Everyone is supposed to learn their sun poisoning lesson on High School Spring Break in Fla. Of course I bought the “tanning oil” from the cute lifeguard at the hotel pool and proceeded to fry myself like a piece of bacon. I am fair skinned and still have the scars from that one. And worse, I grew up with a mom who preached staying out of the sun and wore a hat because she was fair.
So while everyone else was out dancing at Big Daddy’s, I was at the emergency room with all the other suckers. You find out real quick who your real friends are. :o)
In my opinion, Tom is a “contrarian”. Have you ever worked with one of those? They live to be contrary. Does not matter if it is philosophy, theology, politics or recipes.
As to John, he has a soft spot in my heart for helping me connect some dots some years ago and I have learned a lot about “thinking”.
However, in the end, I believe Objectivism ends up being somewhat deterministic when practiced. I am not sure I can even intellectually explain that. I was a huge Ayn Rand fan years ago despite being a Christian, too, and delved into it. But even then I could not connect dots well as I thought. Objectivism gets very complicated when it involves relationships with actual people. :o) I often wonder how Ayn Rand would have raised children?
But all that stuff is way too heady for me. I bring it all back to plain old vanilla flavored Free will and leave the systems for the philosophers. Sort of like what you said about God giving you a brain and you did not use it when it came to the powerful effects of the sun on some of us. :o)
“The problem with both John and Paul D., whom I adore, is that when you parse their ideas aaaaaaaaaallll the way out you wind up in the same place as the very people they criticize. And that troubles me.”
Did you see this?
Watch the short NT Wright video and then read the comments. Both Paul and Q think it is some sort of occultish practice what NT Wright says in the video.
There are times when we start to see everything as something it is really not. We can make it be something it was never meant to be.
I think Paul has done a yeoman’s work on what is going on out there in evangelicalism. But sometimes we need to stick with the more obvious. If there has been anyone preaching against dualism, it is NT Wright. And yet, I disagree with him on many things, too! But I don’t think his suggestion for his kids in this video is occultic contemplation practices at all. In fact, it is something we often do when we read books. We relate to the characters.
“But all that stuff is way too heady for me. I bring it all back to plain old vanilla flavored Free will and leave the systems for the philosophers.”
You mean common sense, which is otherwise known as Pelagianism.
“Watch the short NT Wright video and then read the comments. Both Paul and Q think it is some sort of occultish practice what NT Wright says in the video.”
“Read the gospels more.” That’s certainly where Protestantism fails. Too much focus on Paul, who as Thomas Paine said, sounds like a monk in a dark cell who never walked in the sunlight like Jesus does in the gospels.
Now, as for trying to imagine yourself in the narratives of the gospels as NT Wright says, he’s exactly NT Right on that! Part of the problem in “christendom” is people read the gospels are mere myth, and so they are easily able to buy the “Pauline” theology of a mythical Jesus who was not a real man but just a phantom god pretending to be man who didn’t live a real life, didn’t teach anything, but just came and got whacked so that we can be saved by faith alone with no sanctification and just sin sin sin our way into heaven. But if you imagine the story realistically, think about what people there might have responded to Jesus, etc. you’ll understand his teachings better…his teachings…yeah, that part that “Pauline” theology tells us to forget ever happened, Jesus teaching things. Reading the gospels the way NT Wright suggests will blow to smitherines the notion of Jesus simply as a divine whipping boy who took our whoopin’ for us.
“So while everyone else was out dancing at Big Daddy’s, I was at the emergency room with all the other suckers.”
Er…Big Daddy’s, Lydia? Do I even dare to ask? LOL
And check out my newest article, posting tonight. It started out as a response to your above comments. Except the “Big Daddy’s” part. Still trying to wrap my head around that. LOL
Argo, this was way before your time, friend. Big Daddy’s was the Studio 54 of Daytona Beach. All the beautiful “tanned” people were there during Spring Break. This was back when one could change their ID age with clorox. Pre historic age.
“But all that stuff is way too heady for me. I bring it all back to plain old vanilla flavored Free will and leave the systems for the philosophers.”
You mean common sense, which is otherwise known as Pelagianism.”
Hee Hee. You know, too bad the only thing we know about Pelagius’ writings are what his detractors claimed about him. All else destroyed. But from what I can tell from their claims about his heresy, I tend to agree with him.
“Read the gospels more.” That’s certainly where Protestantism fails. Too much focus on Paul, who as Thomas Paine said, sounds like a monk in a dark cell who never walked in the sunlight like Jesus does in the gospels. ”
Totally agree. If we spent more time in the Gospels with an understanding of the historical backdrop, most of the silliness and evil we see in evangelicalism could not last.
The only thing I have against Paul is he is elevated to “Jesus ” status throught the ridiculous doctrine of inerrancy.
“Now, as for trying to imagine yourself in the narratives of the gospels as NT Wright says, he’s exactly NT Right on that! Part of the problem in “christendom” is people read the gospels are mere myth, and so they are easily able to buy the “Pauline” theology of a mythical Jesus who was not a real man but just a phantom god pretending to be man who didn’t live a real life, didn’t teach anything, but just came and got whacked so that we can be saved by faith alone with no sanctification and just sin sin sin our way into heaven. But if you imagine the story realistically, think about what people there might have responded to Jesus, etc. you’ll understand his teachings better…his teachings…yeah, that part that “Pauline” theology tells us to forget ever happened, Jesus teaching things. Reading the gospels the way NT Wright suggests will blow to smitherines the notion of Jesus simply as a divine whipping boy who took our whoopin’ for us.
Totally agree with this David. Well said. And I think that is exactly what NT
Wright was getting at based upon the other things I have heard him teach. We really have not come to grips with the reality of Jesus’ human-ness.(And its tension with His deity) And it goes back to what Argo is constantly pointing out about OUR human-ness and its importance.
Actually old P’s commentary on Romans and is Epistles to Demetrius survived…by being attributed to Augustine and Jerome…hehe.
Happy to see you back, and that you survived your recent misadventures, Argo. Your blog is one of the last few around the block that I can stand to read anymore.
“It is perhaps because they are not able to; but in an equal measure, if not more so, it is because they have been psychologically programmed their whole lives to not want to. And it is only when these certain people have reached a place in their lives where their psychology and their situation form that perfect storm of utter frustration with and rejection of life combined with the indefatigable will to live…yes, it is only when these two existential states go to war deep in the soul that a complete rejection of ALL philosophical contradictions, be them scientific or religious, in favor of the only TRUTH which can possibly be true–a reasonable TRUTH–can begin to form.”
Really love how you worded this.
“Your blog is one of the last few around the block that I can stand to read anymore.”
Thanks, Oasis! I am so glad you are reading here! It means so much to me. 🙂
Actually old P’s commentary on Romans and is Epistles to Demetrius survived…by being attributed to Augustine and Jerome…hehe.”
Please elaborate. You mean Pelagius? Can you be more specific about the attribution to Augustine and Jerome? I am not well read enough on this to know if you are joking
Thanks, Argy! 🙂 I remain fascinated, and continue to be helped, by the conversations here.
I’ve decided that from now on when discussing Calvinism with anyone from the SBC I’m going to refer to hell exclusively as Satan’s Geneva. I think if everyone started doing that, Calvinism could easily be defeated, yea, even in the SBC.