Foto by tgw, New York City 2011
I've been soaking my head in a basin of philosophical cool waters here lately--reading again in Ortega y Gasset's little Revolt of the Masses book and also Alfred North Whitehead's Adventures of Ideas, Whitehead's history of civilization, which is really what Ortega y Gasset's book is about, too.
Ortega y Gasset in support of noble men and women writes that the downfall of Europe began at the end of the 18th Century with the social evolutionary arrival of the Middle Class--Capitalists, industrialists, religious intuitionists. According to Ortega y Gasset, specialization leads to mediocrity--meaning a person specializing in one venue loses touch with the reality of the whole as opposed to a well-rounded Renaissance man or woman. Like, for instance, physicians who aren't satisfied specializing in one aspect of the human body but rather enchanted by the macro as well as the micro study of the human body as a living whole (Gestalt medicine)--it is this type of "noble" man or woman that Ortega y Gasset calls a superior man or woman. Superior in the sense these people aren't satisfied with being directed or ruled over or merely practicing only what they've been taught to practice--of being "shown the way"--but instead become directors and leaders just because they can think way ahead of the herd (mass-man).
All of this philosophy has made me cynically aware of what's going on in our current brand of civilization where we Americans try and convince ourselves our leaders and rulers (especially our Power Elites) truly do know what's best for us, though their method of leading and ruling--due to their mediocrity--is oppressive and in some instances very harshly cruel, antihuman, like say the nuclear power sales force who even though they know their product could bring about the end of mankind (but not the planet) they continue to try and sell nuclear power to mankind (salesmen are liars; they have to be), that being their specialized occupation.
The world has progressed on ideas of conquest and rule, ideas designed and adorned by the most mediocre of men--like the religious nuts who forced Galileo to renounce his truths as false, though Galileo himself in saving himself from being burned at the stake managed to stay alive and keep his truths active in his mind and his laboratory work (his notebooks) on that course that did say the earth circles the sun and is not flat and that in the universe are greater truths than anything our religious mythologists have invented and forced upon mass-man as realities. Galileo is the noble and therefore superior man in this illustration--he's thinking beyond the accepted, the followed--he's thinking into the future, which is what looking into space is, thinking into the future.
Even with all the philosophical lessons available to us, those who claim us as simply animals are still ridiculed and threatened with being burnt at the stake. Considering us as supernatural beings is simply mediocre man proclaiming himself a "superior" being to other animals, those he defines as beasts, some as savage beasts. This is the same man who sees slaves as work animals; those that our White Man's Constitution declared as 1/5 humans and 4/5 work animals. Man, if he is supernatural (these are White men making these determinations), you see, is not a beast. Why? Because man believes in his own invention: Civilization. Through civilization, even though most civilizations are based on slavery and not humanitarianism, man proves his own supernatural existence, an existence conceived for him by a human-like cosmic MAN (God, the Big Daddy-type God, is always a Man) who lives off in a celestial part of the universe, about which MAN knows very little, though Galileo offered man a way to look out into that universe and study the truths it offers us. If there really is a God, God is simply the Big Bang Theory (not conclusive yet, for some day the universe might reveal even that the Big Bang Theory is no longer actual)--perhaps, as I've said many a time, Chaos really is our true God (though, of course, in our galaxy (our section of the universe), the Sun, a very complex LIVING entity, is our God, the source of our life, which is all our fictional gods represent anyway: instructions on how to stay alive, how to endure slavery, how to endure torture and ridicule, the rewards of which, even if you are killed while enduring these oppressing tribulations, is eternal life, what man is continuously seeking--eternal life being a means for staying alive as long as possible, in spite of the slavery, the torture, the ridicule, the inhumaneness, and DEATH).
We spend a whole lot of time and money denying DEATH. The religions are all concerned with life and death. Even religions depend on sustenance coming from Nature--at least some religions recognize the overwhelming importance of nature--like the reincarnationists who find their eternal life in coming back to life as a lower form of being, like an insect or a snake-eating hedgehog. The ancients, those confronted by the overwhelming darkness of mystery, dealt with DEATH every day of their primitive lives. Every waking moment they were out killing...or chancing being killed. In order to eat, they had to kill. In order to kill what they had to eat, they had to risk their own lives--their own being eaten by others who, same as humans, every waking hour are out hunting up something to eat, or sniffing out some water to drink, or marking out some oasis of a territory where they can have "animal" sex and then raise their next generations. As Freud put it, our primitive instincts are based on the pleasure principles, those that satisfy our thirst, our hunger, and our being driven to procreate. That's about all there is to life, whether it be the life of a man or a "beast."
Is raising our meat on ranches or farms or in pens or cages civilized? We have to kill to survive. Why? Because we're animals. OK, then does that mean vegetarians are the most civilized of men and women? It's alright to eat vegetables--they aren't living beings. Isn't anything growing in the living earth living? Isn't a plant alive? Isn't that plant first a seed, then it develops a root system that ties it to the earth and the earth's nutrition, and then it starts to grow as it goes about satisfying its hunger, its thirst, and its reason for living, to procreate itself, by growing into a full-grown plant, to then blossom forth in sexual unity and then to expel its seed on the creatures that take care of it--the birds, the bees, who by God are living creatures, too?
Even a rock is alive.
So, dammit, right off the intellectual bat all of our philosophizing and intellectual reasoning is justifying our beastliness in terms of human guilt. Like a man who can without any feelings slit the throat of a pig and let it bleed out while it's still alive, catching its fresh hot blood in a bucket in order to make blood sausage or else mix it with milk like the Masai, I mean, come on, what kind of a supernatural man is that? Hey, civilized supernatural people love their sausages in the morning with their eggs and home fries, so somebody has to kill these damn pigs for them--they're not going to kill them, not in this civilized progressive era of human existence as supernatural beings and not as carnivorous animals. A pig is an animal; therefore killing a pig and draining it of its blood while its heart is still beating is not cruel because it is a sacrifice to the creator of supernatural man--the pig gives up its life so that civilized therefore supernatural humans can continue to LIVE.
LIVE spelled backwards is EVIL.
"Hey, Wolf Man, then what the hell are we supposed to do...starve to death? With your reasoning that's what we'd have to do."
Not my point at all. My point is: we are animals just like the animals we have to eat and other animals have to eat in order to continue living as long as we can. Why, if there is a celestial paradise out in the cosmos somewhere where we supernatural humans never die and never suffer hunger, thirst, or sexual drive, do people who believe such civilized rationalizing care whether they live or die? I mean such believing should recognize suicide as salvation, but instead, it condemns suicide as being against the wishes of the gods (and I know there are exceptions to this case (outliers)).
Life on earth continues on whether human beings continue on or not. That is what is really hard for us self-defining supernatural human beings to contemplate.
We look at a chimpanzee and we don't see ourselves in it? To me looking at monkeys is like looking in an ancient mirror. Chimps do eat vegetation most of the time, but occasionally their carnivorous instincts (the same instincts we humans bear in our solar plexuses) get the best of them and they go on killing sprees, going up trees after lesser monkeys, like Gibbons, easy to capture meaty monks and throw them down to the ground where the awaiting meat-hungry chimps catch them and immediately begin tearing them limb from limb and eating them raw, while the meat is still hot and bloody and oozing with fatty juices and while the meat-providing cousins are still screaming for help.
We do condone human beings killing other human beings, but not killing them to eat them. What a waste. Why how long would wars go on if the troops who kill each other had to eat those they killed?
Rick Perry is a human being who considers himself a direct descendant of the Christian-Judaic God Jehovah (or whatever they call him nowadays), the vengeful God and not the merciful God--I don't think humans have yet learned what mercy really is. Rick Perry, a blatant Christian, has overseered the executions of way over 200 (257?) human beings in his decade of being Governor of Texas, which he justifies not under Christian law but under the Babylonian law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Only Rick's life is meaningful to him. Think about that before you think about voting for this so far leading Repugnican presidential candidate over poor old letting-us-all-down Barack Obama. Rick Perry as president will not give one damn shit for anybody's life but his own. Rick is checking his "mirror-mirror-on-the-wall" 24/7--checking the hair, the make up, the shirt, the tie, the suit--the shoes--he must be spiffy--he must be adored. But Rick Perry is not a noble man. He is a mass-man. He is mediocrity at its worst level. But then all our past presidents have been mediocre. Not progressive at all. Why? Because progress, in the sense of progressive politics and humanitarianism, is scary to these people--progress might prove this God these guys end all their speeches asking to bless America is a bunch of mirror-produced flim-flam--and that no matter how long one is on one's knees bellowing out "Save me, Daddy, please, save me, Big Daddy" prayers off into the ethereal, one's still gonna die one day--in the twinkling of an eye, too, brother and sister.
for The Day-Late Daily Growler
A Little Taste of American Art:
East Tenth Street Jungle, 1934, Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
I first came across Reginald Marsh in John Dos Passos's great USA Trilogy for which Marsh did the illustrations. His art to me has a true American art feel to it--though after graduating Yale, he did go to Paris to study art, where he was muchly impressed with the paintings at the Louvre. Ironically, Marsh was born in Paris. His mother was a miniaturist and his father painted industrial scenes. He left Paris as a lad to grow up in Nutley, New Jersey. He graduated Yale before coming to New York City where studied at the Art Students League with John Sloane and George Luks (of the Ashcan School).