Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Misery of Mystical Rhetoric: Battle of the early 21st Century

Cinema often offers great critique of the human condition with the use of ravenous hordes of demons, bad-aliens, zombies, mutants, or horseback/motorcycle riders. These sick hordes swarm into nice villages and destroy things. The good guys either successfully defeat them (in older movies and Mars Attacks) or just outrun them (newer movies and 28 Days Later), or the hordes win and all the nice people die (28 Months Later). A subtle and truly full treatment of all outcomes is in the Buffy/Angel series.

I am not talking about Cinema in this post. But the familiar scenes of massive carnage in movies can be seen in our real world, and the ravenous, vile attacker is Mysticism. Mysticism in language, specifically.

In the last decades of the 20th century Mysticism seemed to find renewed vigor with the schtick of Postmodernism. At its most basic axioms, Postmodernism postulated that objective language did not map well onto reality. Objective statements were merely the subjective experience of a dominant class imposed as dogma. Beyond the dominance issue, Mystical Postmodernists attempted to operate on the logical plane by emphasizing the compression that goes on in objectivity. The world is full of so many dimensions to a given perception, with a wild and dynamic range of variables and hierarchies, the Mystical Postmodernists found what they thought was the scene of a crime by pointing to objective process squashing the world to an oversimplification.

The only crime at the scene has been the depravity of the Mystical Postmodernists. While pointing at the simplification processing within objectivity, or logical taxonomies as a lesser taxonomy to living relationship taxonomies, Mysticism commits a much greater crime of oversimplification. How? By compression to no dimension. Objective language reduces a subject to less dimensions than its reality, Mysticism reduces a subject to the least of all: zero dimensions. While platonic forms are one dimensional, Mysticism provides the final negation in subtracting the platonic archetype. Gone are the objects, and gone are the logical taxonomies. Living relationship is all that remains.

I like to play a language game: { If a Y always practices X, they never practice X }. Example: If Mysticism professes to maintain living relationship, then it never maintains living relationship. Societies strongly bound to Mysticism carve the best out of their every relationship, leaving an impoverished nihilism with no language/mental mechanism to get itself out of its zero dimensional trap.

A walking dead group that cannot help themselves, but can destroy others by critiquing their ability to live. And by "live" I mean perceive and store new information, adapt, and engineer -all of which are an imperfect process easily sniped by a metaphysical ethos.

The test of the 21st century is whether the living recognize the offense of the dead.

3 comments:

Jenni said...

I think you made your point well. Although I think that the folks you are challenging would actually agree with you. We had an instructor at school who used to talk about the limitations of language and the need to use verbs rather than nouns. She probably would have liked some other innovations in language use as well. In your metaphor, she is trying to 'stay alive.' She recognizes the utility of language even as she critiques its ability to express and identify dynamism - such as living relationships. The argument isn't to eliminate the dimension of language but to enhance it.

BFGalbraith said...

Fully understanding the post modern view of anthropology, I unapologetically embrace a functional and structural view. An example of this is that while working in the Jail, I always knew that "I will never really understand what it's like to be incarcerated." However, what had much more utility, what did much more good for my students, was to break the post-modern taboo of assuming I can relate to other's perspectives, and TRY to put myself in their shoes.

Any feminist will balk at the idea of a Man trying to imagine himself becoming pregnant and giving birth, and a man claiming that "I know what it's like" is an ultimate postmodern sin. Of course he doesn't know what it's like, but shouldn't he still try to imagine anyways? This zombie horde analogy is effective because the zombie horde has no empathy, and postmodernism relieves our burden of having to imagine another person's perspective.

Ryan Hawkes said...

The Misery of Mystical Rhetoric: Battle of the early 21st Century

Cinema often offers great critique of the human condition with the use of ravenous hordes of demons, bad-aliens, zombies, mutants, or horseback/motorcycle riders. These sick hordes swarm into nice villages and destroy things. The good guys either successfully defeat them (in older movies and Mars Attacks) or just outrun them (newer movies and 28 Days Later), or the hordes win and all the nice people die (28 Months Later). A subtle and truly full treatment of all outcomes is in the Buffy/Angel series.

***
I love those movies!
***

I am not talking about Cinema in this post. But the familiar scenes of massive carnage in movies can be seen in our real world, and the ravenous, vile attacker is Mysticism. Mysticism in language, specifically.

***
I think defining Mysticism here would help your argument. I did a little lookie and finally related it to my own experience…coming back with mysticism is the intuitive and experiential relating of humans to systems and knowledge greater then themselves…for some it is a connection to the divinity or the unknowable. “Mysticism in language, specifically” Again an example would help here.

***

In the last decades of the 20th century Mysticism seemed to find renewed vigor with the schtick of Postmodernism. At its most basic axioms, Postmodernism postulated that objective language did not map well onto reality. Objective statements were merely the subjective experience of a dominant class imposed as dogma. Beyond the dominance issue, Mystical Postmodernists attempted to operate on the logical plane by emphasizing the compression that goes on in objectivity. The world is full of so many dimensions to a given perception, with a wild and dynamic range of variables and hierarchies, the Mystical Postmodernists found what they thought was the scene of a crime by pointing to objective process squashing the world to an oversimplification.

***
Post-modernism is a reaction to modernism. Modernism was a movement to break with the traditions of culture. To essentially bring culture into a more modern (I’d guess scientific and analytical) process based on the individual (please forgive me if I’m totally wrong). Popping into my head is the Ayn Rand character of Howard Roark…architect breaking with tradition and relying only on his personal perception of the world, rejecting all others. Here is a quote from Wikipedia (yes it is cited) “It is a trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve, and reshape their environment, with the aid of scientific knowledge, technology or practical experimentation”* Post-modernism then sees experiences as socially constructed and based on a complicated set of relationships and systems that are difficultly defined. Postmodernism espouses a systematic skepticism of grounded theoretical perspectives.* Modernism – truth can be found and owned. Post-modernism – truth is individual and collectively developed.

So in this way, I can see the connection between mysticism as I define it and postmodernism as I’m gathering from online resources.

***
The only crime at the scene has been the depravity of the Mystical Postmodernists. While pointing at the simplification processing within objectivity, or logical taxonomies as a lesser taxonomy to living relationship taxonomies, Mysticism commits a much greater crime of oversimplification. How? By compression to no dimension. Objective language reduces a subject to less dimensions than its reality, Mysticism reduces a subject to the least of all: zero dimensions.

***
Your argument is that mystics (and since they are similar in thought, Postmoderns) view the world as without tangibility. Without objects and only as one big ball of relationships. And this is depraved because, well there are obviously physical forms and individuality around us day-to-day? A definition of depravity: moral corruption or degradation.

***
While platonic forms are one dimensional, Mysticism provides the final negation in subtracting the platonic archetype. Gone are the objects, and gone are the logical taxonomies. Living relationship is all that remains.
***
I like to play a language game: { If a Y always practices X, they never practice X }. Example: If Mysticism professes to maintain living relationship, then it never maintains living relationship. Societies strongly bound to Mysticism carve the best out of their every relationship, leaving an impoverished nihilism with no language/mental mechanism to get itself out of its zero dimensional trap.
***
I see what your saying here. It is a logical argument to me (which feels somewhat surprising). But I’d argue that no current day ‘mystics’ or ‘postmodernists’ are free of modern thinking…so arguments that they have a purity of thought which will lead to a downfall are weak. If they acknowledge it or not there is some level of analytical thought in their processes.
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A walking dead group that cannot help themselves, but can destroy others by critiquing their ability to live. And by "live" I mean perceive and store new information, adapt, and engineer -all of which are an imperfect process easily sniped by a metaphysical ethos.
***
I’m not going to argue with this. If there are groups of people who are unable to see outside of their own frames of thought, they are destined to destruction. Especially if this ignores the physical and social realities around them. My sense is that people thinking with an emphasis (and I don’t say solely because this is largely impossible being a member of society) on mysticism will likely destroy themselves. What about those whose frames reduce the physical to exchanges of power which leads to corruption and violence? I’d say those who take a more Machiavellian frame (for example - “reason of state”—the doctrine that the good of the state itself takes precedence over all other considerations, whether morality or the good of citizens) are more likely to lead to destruction of the living through the consumption of resources and the controlling of land, resources and humans.
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The test of the 21st century is whether the living recognize the offense of the dead.
***
I agree. We just are worried about different ethos.