a small trick, and some God-talk

Eric Watt Forste (arkuat@pobox.com)
Thu, 30 Jan 1997 14:47:19 -0800

Lately, in the last year or two, I have been practicing the trick
of shifting internal perspective in order to be able better to
understand whatever words I happen to be reading or listening to
at that moment. I have found that this trick, when worked at
deliberately, seems to rather dramatically increase my learning
rate. I'm sure others on the list have long ago mastered this
technique of "flexible thinking/listening/reading", but I recommend
it to those who haven't. One does need to have a lot of confidence
in one's personal memetic immune system before deliberately developing
this sort of skill.

Anyway, one of the things that happened to me as a result of this
practice is that where I used to find people who talked about God
incomprehensible 90% of the time, now I only find them incomprehensible
10% of the time (the low rate is because I successfully avoid
communicative contact with the most obnoxious of the God-talkers).
Usually, if I adopt a Thou-art-God solipsistic pantheist point of
view, only identifying with the speaker/writer rather than with
myself, the stuff they say about God and wisdom usually makes quite
a bit of sense. I have found the Old Testament much more readable,
although I haven't allowed it to eat my brain the way Lyle seems
to have done. And my previous (limited) understanding of some of
the stuff emanating from Taoism and Zen Buddhism fits in pretty
well with my more recent understanding of traditional Western
mysticism. I suppose that mysticism could be defined as "the wisdom
that you have to figure out for yourself"; it's not stuff that can
be taught very well in the sorts of schools that don't take over
your whole life, and I never cared for having my whole life taken
over. The thoughts toward the end of this paragraph touch on
Bartley's monograph "Morality and Religion" that I referred to

I don't have much urge to become a God-talker myself though. As
Tori Amos says, "God, sometimes You just don't come through." But
the Gaia types and the CAW people make perfect sense to me in most
of their discussions of these subjects. The solipsistic pantheist
perspective is very worthwhile on some occasions though; I'm thinking
about suspending myself in it full-time the next time I have a long
relaxed vacation. If I get lost in it and accidentally start a
cult, somebody slap me, okay?

Of course, anti-God-talk such as Nietzsche's THE ANTICHRIST still
makes just as much sense to me as it used to also. I guess I'm
advancing *from* my philosophical commitments, as Bartley might
say. The less I am seduced away from the-reality-that's-in-front-of-my-nose
by teasing, tempting abstractions, the better my life seems to get.
I think abstractions make good tools but poor masters.

Abstractions? Heck: *memes* make good tools but poor masters.
Including this post. Just call me Arkuat Epimenides.

Eric Watt Forste ++ arkuat@pobox.com ++ http://www.pobox.com/~arkuat/