Whole

We are all aggregate forms, made up in part of a vast number of discrete parts. Those parts to are made up of discrete parts and this chain of logic seems to run on ad infinitum – just like some atomist version of the infinite god regress. Much the same can be said for the rest of the forms within the natural world; that they are at most aggregates, both in so much as they are composed of smaller parts and that they are themselves smaller parts of a greater whole. The world is not only said to be made up of parts though. There are also the relations between the various parts. Here is the point were we either choose to view these parts as being truly discrete and bound together by an intangible network of relations; or we view these parts as simple sub-wholes, arbitrarily carved out from the greater whole by some function of the intellect.

Popular science tends toward the atomists view, generally because of the descriptive power of that particular system, but it is fundamentally agnostic as to the existence of relation. Relation is to science just another pragmatic way of accounting for and replicating events – just another tool on the shelf, to be dusted off when it fits the purpose at hand. Religion has given little direct attention to the issues related to form and knowledge, while Philosophy and Metaphysics have gone to great lengths to arrive at an answer, only to – in every instance – prove that we know less and less about more and more. Personally, I am of the opinion that we, you and I, have cut ourselves out from the whole mass of existence through an act of subjectivism wrought out by the intellect. As such we are unable to live without arbitrarily categorising everything we encounter – grouping together things that aren’t apart of the “I” of the intellect – the “I” being the most rudimentary example of the in-group versus out-group paradigm.

Perhaps that is why the whole as an expression of a physical infinity, just like the void, is completely incomprehensible to the intellect. Given that we are prone to this subjectivity perhaps a good way for us all to define ourselves would be as follows:

We are all examples of that group, comprising the portion of the whole, which views itself as being distinct from itself.

Surely, if the whole is truly a whole, then it must contain every absurdity.

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Love

Not to imagine that your sense of need must imply a binding of souls, but to actively want; to choose to want, and when parted, not to feel as though a need has gone unfulfilled. Rather to feel a dull and constant tug at the soul – as part of you has passed from one place to another, while the remainder must stay and cannot follow.

Love is that sense that comes with choosing to be ripped apart. It is as close as one might come to some kind of conscience annihilation.

Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making

Marked Passages
― But as between religion and arithmetic, other things are not equal. You use arithmetic but you are religious, Arithmetic of course enters into your nature, so far as that nature involves a multiplicity of things. But it is there as a necessary condition, and not as a transforming agency. No one is invariably “justified” by his faith in the multiplication table. But in some sense or other, justification is the basis of all religion.Your character is developed according to your faith, This is the primary religious truth from which no one can escape. Religion is force of belief cleansing the inward parts. For this reason the primary religious virtue is sincerity, a penetrating sincerity.

― You cannot abstract society from man; most psychology is herd-psychology. But all collective emotions leave untouched the awful ultimate fact, which is the human being, consciously alone with itself, for it’s own sake.
 Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness. It runs through three stages, if it evolves to its final satisfaction. It is the transition from God the void to God the enemy, and from God the enemy to God the companion.
Thus religion is solitariness; and if you are never solitary, you are never religious.

― It is not until belief and rationalisation are well established that solitariness is discernible as constituting the heart of religious importance. The great religious conceptions which haunt the imaginations of civilised mankind are scenes of solitariness: Prometheus chained to his rock, Mahomet brooding in the desert, the meditations of the Buddha, the solitary Man on the Cross. It belongs to the depth of the religious spirit to have felt forsaken, even by God.

― The emergence of rational religion was strictly conditioned by the general progress of the races in which it arose. It had to wait for the development in human consciousness of the relevant general ideas and of the relevant ethical intuitions. It required that such ideas should not merely be casually entertained by isolated individuals, but that they should be stabilised in recognisable forms of expression, so as to be recalled and communicated. You can only speak of mercy among a people who, in some respect, are already merciful.
 A language is not a universal mode of expressing all ideas whatsoever. It is a limited mode of expressing such ideas as have been frequently entertained, and urgently needed, by the group of human beings who developed that mode of speech.

― The life of Christ is not an exhibition of over-ruling power. Its glory is for those who can discern it, and not for the world. Its power lies in its absence of force. It has the decisiveness of a supreme ideal, and that is why the history of the world divides at this point of time.

― It is not true that every individual item of the universe conforms to this character in every detail. There will be some measure of conformity and some measure of diversity, The whole intuition of conformity and diversity forms the contrast which that item yields for the religious experience. So far as the conformity is incomplete, there is evil in the world.

― This question of the ultimate nature of direct religious experience is very fundamental to the religious situation of the modern world. In the first place, if you make religious experience to be the direct intuition of a personal being substrate to the universe, there is no widespread basis of agreement to appeal to. The main streams of religious thought start with direct contradictions to each other. For those who proceed in the way, and it is a usual form of modern appeal, these is only hope – to supersede reason by emotion. Then you can prove anything, except to reasonable people. But reason is the safeguard of the objectivity of religion: it secures for it the general coherence denied to hysteria.

― This universalisation of what is directed in a particular instance is the appeal to a general character inherent in the nature of things.
This intuition is not the discernment of a form of words, but of a type of character. it is characteristic of the learned mind to exalt words. Yet mothers can ponder many things in their hearts which their lips cannot express. These many things, which are thus known, constitute the ultimate religious evidence, beyond which there is no appeal.

― It is a curious delusion that the rock upon which our beliefs can be founded is an historical investigation. You can only interpret the past in terms of the present. The present is all that you have; and unless in this present you can find general principles which interpret the present as including a representation of the whole community of existents, you cannot move a step beyond your little patch of immediacy.

― The actual world, the world of experiencing, and of thinking, and of physical activity, is a community of many diverse entities; and these entities contribute to, or derogate from, the common value of the total community. At the same time, these actual entities are, for themselves, their own value, individual and separable. They add to the common stock and yet they suffer alone. The world is a scene of solitariness in community.
The individuality of entities is just as important as their community. The topic of religion is individuality in community.

― Standardised size can do almost anything, except foster the growth of genius.

― The limitation of God is his goodness. He gains his depth of actuality by his harmony of valuation. It is not true that God is in all respects infinite. If He were, He would be evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of evil with good would mean mere nothingness. He is something decided and is thereby limited.

E.M. Cioran, Tears and Saints

Marked Passages
― Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.

― There is a whole race of melancholy: it begins with a smile and a landscape and ends with the clang of a broken bell in the soul.

― No matter what we say, the end of all sadness is a swoon into divinity.

― Job, the organ’s cosmic lamentations, and weeping willows. Open wounds of nature and the soul. The human heart, God’s open wound.

― Joseph, the father of Jesus, is the most compromised person in history, the Christians shoved him aside and made him the laughingstock of all men. Had he told the truth at least once, his son would have remained an obscure Jew. The triumph of Christianity originates in a virility that lacked self-esteem. The Virgin Birth originates in the world’s piety and one man’s cowardice.

― God has exploited all our inferiority complexes, starting with our disbelief in gods.

― Weininger used to say that epilepsy was the criminal’s last solitude. Having no more ties with the world, all he has left is the fall. 
The saint’s swooning is no less a breaking of their ties with the world, but they fall into heaven.

― God’s greatest advantage is that one can say or think anything about him. the less you connect your thoughts, abandoning them to contradictions, the more you risk coming near the truth. God benefits from the peripheries.

― The answer saintly women gave whenever their parents begged them to marry was invariably the same: they could not marry because they had promised Jesus their maidenhood. the wrenching truth is that Jesus does not deserve so many renunciations. Whenever i think about the infinity of suffering to which the saints’ perverse transcendence has led, the agony of Jesus strikes me as merely sad. The cross broke apart and fell into the saints’ souls, and its nails bore into their hearts all their life, not for just a few hours on a hill. The ultimate cruelty was that of Jesus: leaving an inheritance of bloodstains on the cross.

― So many young lives were crucified because they were born of eternity’s hysteria, and followed the heavenly example of a demi-God! Jesus must have a very heavy conscience if he has even an inkling of his responsibility in the face of so much suffering. Heavy red and black crosses will rise from the saint’s inhuman suffering on the Day of the Last Judgement to punish the Son, Dealer in Pain.

― As long as one believes in philosophy, one is healthy: sickness begins when one starts to think.

― When I think of the loneliness of nights, and the agony of this loneliness, I long to wander on roads unknown to saints. Where to, where to? There are abysses even outside the soul.

― Becoming is nothing more than a cosmic sigh. We are the wounds of nature, and God is doubting Thomas.

― The only explanation for the creation of the world is God’s fear of solitude. In other words, our role is to amuse Our Maker. Poor clowns of the absolute, we forget that we act out a tragedy to enliven the boredom of one spectator whose applause has never reached mortal ear. Solitude weighs on God so much that he invented the saints as partners in dialogue.
I can stand up to God only by confronting him with another solitude. without my solitude I would be nothing more than another clown.

― If truth were not boring, science would have done away with God long ago. But God as well as the saints is a means to escape the dull banality of truth.

― Without our intimations of the approaching night which we call God, life would be a cheerful twilight.

― Each time weariness with the world takes on a religious form, God appears like a sea of forgetfulness. Drowning in God is a refuge from our own individuality.

― The creation of man was a cosmic cataclysm, and its aftershocks have become God’s nightmares. Man is a paradox of nature, equally removed from it and from God. The order of things in heaven and on earth has changed ever since the creation of consciousness. With it, God appeared in his true light as one more nothingness.

― Adolescence is an intermediary stage linking the paradise of childhood to the inferno of failure.

― “Suffering is the cause of consciousness” (Dostoevsky). men belong to two categories: those who have understood this, and the others.

― No matter how educated you are, if you don’t think about death, you are a mere fool. A great scholar – if he is nothing but that – as inferior to an illiterate present haunted by the final question. generally speaking, science has dulled people’s minds by diminishing the metaphysical consciousness.

― I am neither unhappy enough to be a poet nor as indifferent as a philosopher. But I am lucid enough to be a condemned man.

― The ultimate goal of all religions: life as a diminution of the soul.

― I could easily convert to a religion which preaches that to die is shameful. Christianity has flattered too much the most intimate part of ourselves, turning death into a triumph of virtue. Agony is Christianity’s normal climate. Everybody dies in the religion, even God, as if there were not enough corpses already and time weren’t the slaughterhouse of the universe!

― Children scare me. their eyes contain too many promises of unhappiness. Why do they want to grow up? Children, like madmen, are graced with innate genius, soon lost in the void of lucidity.

― Life is a state of inebriation crossed by sudden flashes of doubt. Most normal individuals are dead drunk. One wouldn’t dare breathe if one were sober.

Ernesto Sabato, The Tunnel

When at first I hear and then try to define, the word “tragedy”, I understand it to be a negative state. Tragedy being that label for the suffocation of humanity and of decency by means of a capricious form of void.

It is probably fair to say that one of the most tragic events in any persons life, is bound to be their own death. Yes, some may say that death holds no such connotations for them, convinced as they are of things they cannot know. To these people it should be enough to point out that a tragedy is generally magnified by the protagonist’s own ignorance as to the situation – confrontation with the void being a dramatic, though not a necessary feature of life’s tragedy.

Direct perception of the tragedy of life is beyond human comprehension. The void and by extension tragedy, are merely externalities generated by the act living – life being a state of existence implying the possibility of an inverse state, wherein things and meaning do not exist.

Q: Is it true to say that tragedy is beyond all human comprehension, as surely one person might perceive in part, or in it’s entirety the tragedy borne out by another?

Sadly no, as we are – each of us, locked up within ourselves and left to view the world, diffused and distorted from behind a veil of solipsism.
This is not a metaphysical contortion, but merely a statement as to the fidelity of information transfer. We as humans are only able to record, order and convey information to other human-beings with extremely low fidelity. The outcome of this simple fact being that we are, each of us individuals. This is due in no small part to the quasi-genealogical profundity of thought, variety of expression and the flawed prism of perception.
This means that we are by way of limitation, constrained from experiencing things extraneous to our own narrow field, we are confined, trapped within our own reality – born naked, to live and to die within our own isolated tunnel of reality.

Yet, in even this hopeless situation there are still those people whose tunnels seem to cross paths with, or run parallel to our own. An arrangement that can through the proximity of independent isolation evoke, as if the tunnels were strings being struck and left to hum in harmony for a short while, the remainder of all human emotion.

George Orwell, Animal Farm

The central themes of this book are, as far as I am concerned, insoluble.

In our contemporary society, perhaps Stalin and his compatriot “isms” have become obscured, shrouded within the low fog of history; effigies of the leaders and butchers of one movement or another printed on enough trendy t-shirts to dissociate the past from the present.

Truth be told, it seems likely that in twenty years time our children are going to care less than nothing about the defining conflicts of a century and a millennium that they themselves have taken no part.

Saying that, even children of today are likely to miss the correlation between the animals and the men they represent. The spirit of 20th century revolution will not be something that they are likely to find any particular affinity with.
Dehumanisation however is a theme that time cannot dissolve nor diffuse, as it is all too human a trait to treat people like animals, to brutalise and to succumb to both anthropocentric and anthropomorphism.

For as long as we all remain that uncanny mixture of both human and beast, this book will be important.

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, a sailor named Marlow tells a tale of begrudging respect and love for an illusive ivory hunter known as Kurtz. Deeply affected by his knowledge of Kurtz, Marlow tells us of a man who was drawn to and then consumed by a dark frontier of human potential. He had with innate ability subjugated the position of the Gods and Idols and was left with no person who could stand before him without falling to their knees. He had stepped off the precipice and come face-to-face with the ominous hum; ‘the stillness of an implacable force brooding over inscrutable intentions’ – the true heart of darkness, ‘the horror, the horror’.