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Topics - BillHopkins

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Metal / King Crimson
« on: May 03, 2013, 08:42:38 AM »

A special time in alternative popular music

Interzone / Non-metal
« on: May 03, 2013, 08:23:11 AM »
Emerson, Lake & Palmer: English Prog

Intense! Even a blast beat or two  ;)


Interzone / Good books on the vedas?
« on: January 12, 2013, 07:28:49 PM »
Any suggestions? Also, what is the difference between vedic philosophy and the philosophy of the Upanishad period, and what is the place of the Gita in all this? I believe Evola might have touched on some of this, but i forget.

A few days ago I wrote a post criticising a homily given by a local priest. The priest had argued that Mary was not favoured because she was special but because she was a poor confused peasant girl and that God favours the poor, broken down and marginalised. The equivalent of Mary in the modern world, continued the priest, are the likes of the Sri Lankan refugees and the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

I agreed with the priest that it is sometimes when we are at our lowest that the egoistic self gives way and we become more receptive to God. But I wrote too that:

I find it difficult to believe that we should automatically side with whoever seems to be most powerless, as if being powerless defines you as good.

In the comments I added some further thoughts, which several readers have urged me to include in a post. The gist of it is that focusing always on being weak or powerless can be one factor in alienating men from Christianity:

I know people whose fathers have died and it sometimes affects them very deeply. Not just in the sense of mourning a lost one, but in the sense of their existential stability. The father brought a sense of assurance and stability to their lives.

And this is an aspect of men attempting to be strong for the benefit of those around them, those they are responsible for.

The interpretation of Christianity made by my local priest suggests that a man who is successfully strong in this way is separating himself from the good. He should instead focus on and identify with being powerless, broken down, marginalised etc.

If this is true it sets up an irresolvable contradiction in the lives of men. Our worldly role would be to be strong; our religious role would be to be weak.

I don't think this is how Christianity was understood by previous generations of Christians. I think instead the idea that we should treat well "the least amongst you" meant that those who were strong should not abuse those less fortunate.

You can see this is in the ethos of the Christian knight; you can see it in Western literature (as when in a Jane Austen novel the heroine is chastised for mocking a poor widow).

Is it not true that men should be morally strong and self-disciplined? That men should be strong in wisdom and prudence? That men should be strong in discharging their duties to family and community? Whilst at the same time serving God in a spirit of humility? (i.e. not adopting a stance of arrogant, closed off self-sufficiency).

Cannot the Church sometimes encourage men to be strong? (For instance, in their role as husbands and fathers within a family?)

Maybe this is part of the reason why many men don't feel as connected to Christianity as they might. They know that they have to develop their masculine strengths as best they can, but when they sit in a church they hear a message that identifies the good with being broken down, weak and marginalised.

It's not that churches shouldn't challenge the way people ordinarily think, but in this case the churches are challenging genuine duties held by men. It makes the message heard by men in the churches feel alien to their deeper conscience.

I'd like to hear a sermon which praises men for a strength of perseverance in working to support their families. Or for a strength in maintaining composure when there is stress within their families. Or for exercising a masculine protectiveness in stepping in when their wives need support. And so on.

And rather than charity meaning supporting Palestinians against Israelis, maybe it could be an encouragement to do something practical and local, for instance, helping an elderly person maintain their home, or doing some maintenance work for the local kindergarten.

I wrote this several days ago, but the significance of it has been confirmed by the Christmas Day sermon of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Justin Welby. In this sermon, you get the same theme that Christians should aim to be vulnerable and weak as this is what makes a man receptive to God's transforming love. I can't reproduce the whole sermon but here are some snippets:

This is the true triumph, of utter vulnerability that in weakness overthrows every apparent strength.

Glorifying God, leaking into the world the love that he leaks into us through the wounds and breaches and gaps of our own lives

we do in the world what God does in us. We receive His love where we are vulnerable and weak, and lose sight of it when we claim strength and power. Christians reach to the jagged edges of our society, and of the world in general.

we must begin with weakness and vulnerability

God comes to us through the breaches and wounds of our lives because He comes in utter vulnerability. We are to be those who allow Him to make us vulnerable, welcome the weakness we have

It's not that I think this is entirely false. There are people who on hearing this kind of message might let go of their egoistic defences and become more receptive to the Christian message.

But think of the logic of what is being proposed in Bishop Welby's sermon. If it's true that we receive God's love when we are vulnerable and weak, then presumably we are to aim at being vulnerable and weak (we are to welcome our weaknesses, rather than trying to overcome them). And mere powerlessness, rather than goodness or faithfulness, becomes the deciding factor in who is most blessed. The Palestinians get to be defined as the good guys not because their cause is deemed just or because their acts are deemed more moral, but simply because they don't as yet have the upper hand. And if they do get the upper hand, then they won't be the good guys anymore - they'll drop back in moral status.

Nor is it true, in my opinion, that we are only open to God "in extremity". It could be claimed equally that the religious experience is often a "peak experience" - one that comes to us most forcefully when we are physically and mentally at our best. And when this happens, we have a sense not of powerlessness but of our powers being held in their proper place. It is a feeling of being completed or fulfilled in who we are, and it is that feeling which brings us a sense of peace, of a natural sense of humility before God, of the Biblical virtue of "prautes" (a measured, deliberate, self-possessed response to things) and of a desire to serve God's will. But it is definitely not an experience of weakness or powerlessness.

Finally, I don't think it's true either that the only way for a church to encourage people to be open to the religious experience is by emphasising our weakness as a way of dissolving an excessive egoism. Churches might also encourage time for contemplation and prayer; inspiring forms of architecture, music and art; a form of the mass that imparts a sense of the sacred; and a striving toward moral virtue.

And many people are led toward a religious outlook by what they experience as beautiful, good and true and which then inspires their particular loves. They might be inspired in this way by an ideal of manhood or womanhood, by the love they feel for their spouse or children, by the higher forms of art and culture, by the beauty of nature or by the goodness they discern within a communal life and tradition.

Bishop Welby's Christianity doesn't and can't speak to any of this, as it defines the good narrowly in terms of weakness, vulnerability and powerlessness. I don't think this is a form of Christianity that is likely to stand in the longer term. It leaves too much out and, as I argued in my comment, it establishes a particular difficulty for men who are called on to be strong for the benefit of those around them.


Metal / Keep of Kalessin
« on: December 11, 2012, 01:12:56 AM »

Interzone / Worthy of your time
« on: November 27, 2012, 04:14:11 PM »

Without words, cameras show us the world, with an emphasis not on "where," but on "what's there." It begins with morning, natural landscapes and people at prayer: volcanoes, water falls, veldts, and forests; several hundred monks do a monkey chant. Indigenous peoples apply body paint; whole villages dance. The film moves to destruction of nature via logging, blasting, and strip mining. Images of poverty, rapid urban life, and factories give way to war, concentration camps, and mass graves. Ancient ruins come into view, and then a sacred river where pilgrims bathe and funeral pyres burn. Prayer and nature return. A monk rings a huge bell; stars wheel across the sky.

Despite it's perhaps omission of some parts of western culture (excusable in light of the fact that the destructive and sheer ant like nature of developed socieites depicted here is a product of the modern west), this is a moving and sometimes unsettling view of what existence on this planet means. Often the serene and religious nature of tribal peoples looks much more meaningful compared with the rat race of developed nations. There seems to be some more sort of profound connection between some peoples depicted in this film and existence.

The main pathetic reality that strikes me from watching this and thinking about these things is that most people in the west would watch the first video with a profound sense of awe, but then go home and support companies, politicians, and ideas that are in direct conflict with the conditions needed to cultivate the delicate and highly precarious human achievements called culture that are depicted. The most profound attachments between human beings and something prior to their individual lives is not a fucking product of 'free will' and 'autonomy'. These attachments are highly contingent products of a long chain of causes that, particularly liberals, have absolutely now knowledge of. Sometimes I feel a profound sense of regret because I know I will never have the chance of experiencing the profoundity of existence with a society of my fellow human beings. I have friends with whom I have shared profound moments, mostly via music and art, but as far as sharing this with a community, all there is church, which seems to be more concerned with the state of unfortuantes, the sick and dying in the third world, and purely human concerns. There is zero connection between modern western individuals and a more than human existence, on a social level.

Metal / Death metal is religious music in an atheist age
« on: November 25, 2012, 04:15:03 AM »
I was pondering the following listeninig to Immolation as the summer sun beemed on my face and the everything was blooming in the park today: If the religious attitude is fundamentally the opposite of the humanistic and existentialist idea that 'existence preceeds essence' then death metal is, ironically, religious music in an a-theistic age. It is religious in its artistic worship of something prior to human existence that is inescapable and certainly no act of human creation: nature, and natural processes. Musically: evolution of songs by the linking of riffs according to gemetrical notions of 'shape' and motion as opposed to the normal way of linking parts in rock music which essentially harmonic. This is what gives death metal its a-tonal and initially unattractive sound until you're used to it; it doesn't rely on harmony to progress songs but rather riff shape. Aesthetically: beauty achieved through the overall sturcture of otherwise nihilistic individual units of information that are on their own senseless, a bit like matter and the physical universe. Conceptually: lyrics and artwork concerned with biology, death, conflict, force, and energy. This is Nietzschean-naturalist religious music: A 'yes' to, and artistic redemption of, life as pure structure, unending process, and will to power. I truly believe a lot of underground metal heads (and other arteests) would have been worshipping the ancient ones in an earlier age or perhaps even God before theistic faith became so outdated scientifically.

Metal / Soreption
« on: November 22, 2012, 11:04:31 PM »

Interzone / 'I' am one of this man's heroes
« on: November 15, 2012, 05:26:22 PM »
An interview with Jonathan Bowden, the biggest intellect of the right.


Interzone / Who is the enemy?
« on: October 31, 2012, 03:01:55 AM »
I've been wondering about our cultural problems in the West. Where to lay the blame? My thinking atm isolates the managerial state, with a political class intent on pushing cultural marxism. But then this leads me to think...do lefty political groups really have that much power, or is there something more structuralist going on, without a centre of power?

Others might have different opinions. Let's talk.

Interzone / Stripper music
« on: October 20, 2012, 07:18:07 PM »

I was at a party doing the youtube music rounds with a friend, when a hideous woman came in, changed the song to this and commenced to dance like a stripper in front of me. Unfortunately she was not attractive, but what was actually worse than this display was the song she put on.

This 'music' actually comes closs to genuinely unsettling me. What does unsettle me is what this reflects.

"Minaj rose to prominence when she released her Album, Pink Friday, in November 2010, peaking at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and being certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release.[3][4] She became the first female solo artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.[5] Her seventh single, "Super Bass" has since been certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA, and has sold more than four million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States. Minaj released her second album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, in April 2012, which topped charts internationally, also spawning the top 10 singles "Starships" and "Pound the Alarm". Since, the album has become one of the best-selling albums of 2012, according to the Nielsen SoundScan, selling 1,000,000 copies worldwide.[6] In 2012, Minaj embarked on two worldwide tours, the Pink Friday Tour and the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour."


Lawrence Lampert on Leo Strauss... on Nietzsche!


Lampert's book makes clear Leo Strauss's interpretation of Nietzsche that the latter wrote down in the late 50's. Strauss was a very complicated writer and that's where Lampert comes in. Strauss was very cryptic and hid things in his writing, and had theories that most of the great philosophers did the same (that they had both an 'easily read' part of their philosophy, and a 'hard to read' part that was the essence of their though, hidden so that only those people committed enough to thinking it out on their own would come to grasp it).

Anyway, according to Lampert, Strauss wants to compared Nietzsche with Plato. This is on the face of it ridiculous as Nietzsche would appear to first glances to be someone who despised Plato's whole approach, which he did in a sense. But there are two elements to Plato that are important here. One of which Nietzsche rejected, the other which he (according to Strauss) mirrored. The first is Plato's 'otherworldlyness': his theory of the forms, the 'good in itself', the 'beautiful in itself', the immortality of souls, etc, which gave rise to Platonism as a philosophical movement in ancient Greece and influenced Christianity. The other element is Plato's tendency to ground human values in a philosophical vision of 'how the world really is'. In other words to use philosophy and the intellect to penetrate into the world as it is in-itself, beyond appearances, and to have this give rise to values. In different words again, to have philosophy give rise to and rule religion (and not the other way round).

This second element in Plato is the one Strauss argues Nietzsche mirrors (in its general form and not in the specifics of each philosopher). Plato used philosophy to penetrate into the world to come up with the theory of the forms which gave rise to certain values and political theories (outlined in the republic) such as disdain for poetry and art (because these focus elusively on appearances when the intellect should be focused on the forms, which exist almost in another realm to the sensible world). Nietzsche, on the other hand (but following the same general form), used philosophy to penetrate into the essential nature of the world to come up with the theory that 'life is will to power and nothing else': there is no other world, only the sensible world of flux, chance, and turmoil and shifting relations of force and matter that we experience (a view vindicated by modern science). There are no fixed morals, because values are just strategies used by one manifestation of the nautral world of becoming (i.e. human organisms) to gain advantage over each other. There are no fixed standards of bueaty because different organisms with different needs will view different things as beautiful depending on their position in the shifing matrix of force/matter. There are no immortal souls because we arise frmo the world of becoming and in a short time are subsumed back into it (actually we never leave it). Nietzsche was the only one prepared to throw off moral injuctions to ignore this 'nihilism' (not to do so is in bad taste to most people who just want to go about their business thinking there is such things as objective 'good', objective 'beauty', that our souls are immortal and that life has a nice cozy meaninig). So he was the only thinker to take Nihilism to it's full depths. But in doing so (and only in taking it its logical conclusiOn... only because he had the courage to follow the intellect into the nature of the world to it's full extend), he found that nihilism actually eventually gives rise to a tremendous, life affirming, 'yes' to the existence. His idea of the 'eternal return' is this 'yes' to life that flows from a philosphical penetration into the nature of the world, as it really is initself. Nietzsche is deriving a system of values (eternal return, affirmation of all that has been and will be, over and over again) from philosophy. He is not rejecting religion, as his liberal commentators naively believe, but simply redirecting it according to an altered (more accurate) philosophical view of the world.

Nietzsche is a thinker who is acutely aware of the human need for religion. He just didn't like the form it took under christianity, which was a form of religion based on a philosophical understanding of another world (the world of the forms) and not this world. Science's 'intellectual "good taste"', dictates that this view of reality is wrong, so we can't go back to it. Most people who are aware of the human need for religion and transcendence think there is only two optinos: ignore what we know of this world and stay wedded to a view of reality which is outdated and otherworldly, or forsake religion. (i.e. 'How can you believe in both God *and* science...science gives us a nihilistic picture of the world which no one can worship'). Nietzsche wades in and shows that a third way is not just possible, but philosophically sound (i.e. reasonable and rational). Base a religion on a view of this world. For Nietzsche there IS something prior to man, unlike for Satre who says 'existence preceeds essence' and holds that it is a matter of free choice what to beleive in. The something prior, to Nietzsche, is the world as will to power. The world as will to power exists before and prior to us, as we are mere temporal manifestations of the force of nature. Niezsche is revealed as a modernist conservative. Modernist because he rejects traditional ontology and 'traditiona'l religious views of the world, conservative because he holds that certain things exist prior to man, and that values are rooted in something fundamental.

According to Strauss, the greatest philosophers throughout history have been those for whom 'The highest ideal, the highest value, flows from insight into the fundamental fact'. In other words, the ultimate task of philosophy, is to derive values from how the world actually is (whether platonic or nietzchean). Strauss thus includes Nietzsche among the greatest philosophers to have existed.

(post script: fuck all those people who say Nietzsche was merely a 'cultural critic', with no positive theory, someone who provides the toolkit merely to knock down and criticise other positive theories (foucualt)).

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