Closing Shop

With only one post in the last year, the state of this blog is pretty clear, and so is the only reasonable course of action. It’s time to close up shop.

However, it’s obvious that shutting down this project isn’t the only thing I should do. In addition to discontinuing the blog due to complete loss of momentum, I’ve also decided it’s time to stop thinking about pretty much anything.

Now, dear readers (hypothetical readers, that is; I well know nobody’s actually out there), before you get up in arms and accuse me of flip-flopping on the issue of thought, I want to point out how this conclusion is in fact itself the end result of my critical thinking process.

Here’s the gist: unless you’re lucky enough to live in the ivory tower, thinking too much just gets you riled up about things you can’t change. Sure, I spent years and a lot of money on fancy training to awaken my critical faculties and become a smarty-pants, but now I’m just your regular wage-slave, and thinking about things just makes it harder to do my job.

Under the circumstances, thinking actually leads to persistent worsening of quality of life, rather than the noble eudaimonia it’s supposed to get us. It’s frustrating to entertain thoughts about how things are wrong, or how things could be better, or what’s really at the root of things when none of that can be brought to bear to change your own socially immobile station. Ironically, it’s the common religious idea of predestination or karmically determined caste that provides peace of mind in lieu of thinking, which just stirs things up.

Accordingly, I’m taking the opportunity of closing down this failed catalog of thoughts to just stop thinking altogether. From now on, I look forward to enjoying a life of thoughtless ignorance and unperturbed contentment with whatever way things are.


Girding for the Lightning

A piece in the Times the other day brought up a peculiar point: "Look critically at someone’s god and gird for the lightning." Issues of cultural sensitivity aside, why do religious ideas have the privilege of exemption from critical examination?


A New Course of Study

As usual, another lull in writing here reflects a great deal of activity in the mind of the writer. Those among you, dear readers, who know me may be aware I applied to a handful of doctoral programs after graduating from Reed College, my intent being to continue my study of ancient China. Those applications were unsuccessful, and in the wake of the process I became disillusioned with the prospect of graduate education.

However, in light of recent contemplation of the universe and its meaning, or possible lack thereof, I've concluded I do need to pursue further learning to address the many questions I'm unable to answer on my own. Moreover, I realize only one discipline stands to provide those answers and unlock real insight into existence.

I have been accepted to the divinity school at Redwood College, and will shortly be relocating to California to set up my residence before the fall term. My enrollment is made possible by a generous scholarship from the Nigerian Ministry of Education, without which I couldn't pursue further higher education and avoid incurring additional student debt. I'm grateful to be able to supplement the purely destructive theory and method of studying religion I learned at Reed with training in theology that will enable me to build up some real understanding, rather than just break things down.


Purpose of the Universe

During a conversation the other evening about the unforeseen consequences of relatively small actions, my interlocutor and I found ourselves pressed to conclude coincidence is just coincidence, despite the overpowering human urge to ascribe meaning to coincidences of significance. Today I happened upon this clip, wherein a sage of our time discusses the kindred question of whether the universe has purpose:


The Moral Animal

A short piece in the New York Times today points out the adaptive strength of religion in terms of human evolutionary biology and psychology. The author makes the astute observation that religious traditions tend to bolster group-oriented behavior, essentially boosting altruism in the balance of acting impulsively for oneself and with consideration for one's group. Highlighting this adaptive characteristic of religious traditions, he writes, helps us understand why religion persists in the era of modern science.

However, the author unfortunately concludes by prescribing religiosity as "the best antidote to the individualism of the consumer age." Even if it is, the persistent and often terrible side-effects of that medicine still afflict enough people, particularly in America, that the need to develop alternative treatments should be clear.


Apocalypse Eve, 2012

If the world's going to end tomorrow there's presumably nothing we can do about it, which makes right now pretty much the same as any other day. The funny thing is to get worked up about such an absurd possibility on account of a calendrical oddity.

Perhaps we should examine our preoccupation with the imagined significance of of our arbitrary and artificial calendars' curiosities, but if tomorrow's doomsday we'd have made a wasted effort doing it now. We'd best hedge our bets and wait to see if we get an extension tomorrow.

Should this prove to be my last post, dear reader, maybe I'll see you in Mayan hell.


The Cult of the Green Dragon

Today, for a change, I'm going to tell you how I feel.

I've been sitting on this video for a long time:

Watching it again to think on what to write about it, I find myself at a loss.

Of course my first inclination is to lay out its claims for summary refutation, but if the video doesn't sufficiently speak for itself in that regard I doubt I stand to accomplish much by the exercise of highlighting its fallacious argumentation. Critical analysis could pick out a number of particulars about the use of religious ideas to bolster the rhetoric, but again I feel the effort would yield little that isn't self-evident.

That's why for once I'm writing not what I think, but what I feel:


To imagine the use of religious ideas to obstruct free thinking is disturbing (and nothing novel to a religion scholar), but to see a real and contemporary example of it is nothing short of horrifying.


Coffee as Entheogen

Coffee is certainly an object of nigh-religious devotion from many, but is there anything actually religious about it?


Chozo Spirituality

The Metroid franchise sits solidly in the science fiction adventure genre, and while its narratives are certainly heroic it doesn't present the sort of mythical themes that tend to attract the attention of a religion scholar to a video game. Its world is one of fact and science, history and technology. However, at least in some of its 21st-century titles the series has developed the background of one of its omnipresent elements — the Chozo — to include a dimension we might recognize as spiritual.