I’m at the sidelines of a green field, with the rulebook folded in my hand. I stare at a Game I no longer recognize, with billions of unknown players and billions of fans cheering with vigor for some kind of anarchy.
How can I explain this?
let us say if the rulebook in my hand was for a game of Soccer, the field would be bursting with millions of games that have nothing to do with soccer, like basketball, dodge ball, golf, etc…all equally convinced they are on the right path playing the right game. Worse, it’s as if nobody remembers how to play soccer, and perhaps someday soon nobody will be left how to play soccer.
Two million Jugglers swoop down from trapezes and make eye contact with me, followed by thousands of naked clowns balancing balls on their necks and noses. I don’t know why?
I stumble and look down at hundred million people stretched on their backs, just watching balls arc in the air like fireworks. I can’t understand why?
I can’t reply to my own questions, the reply is in the mendacity of the wicked, the reply is in the madness of man, the reply contains within it the perversion of the soul. I better not question, in order to avoid a slip into a reply that makes me slip further into another, a sure way to end up like the others.
I’m wrecked by the loneliness of my present; I repeat the rules in my book to keep me together, to help me cope with the un-reconcilable. I keep on staring, and from many legs, I see a miracle. A soccer player, a captain nonetheless, passes me by and his talent with the ball is perfection, commanding thousands of disciplined players, playing the game exactly how I know it, following the rules exactly as the book in my hand. I keep my eyes on the ball, I witness a marvelous score, I scream Goal! this is the first time I screamed in years. This play within it is my entire history vindicated. I see them, and I see the great chase, I see myself and I wonder can they use another self like me? I look in the mirror and everything I know is written on my face, so what is the point of waiting?
Really now, what motivates Soccer people? I certainly do not believe in organized sports, and the above was a way to express my displeasure with the entire field.
If I scrub myself from all that is imagined, it is clear to me that I’m bias in my thinking that down deep inside we are all lost and we are all searching for a reality that fits or resembles our bias. So in other words, the process of how I participate in the game is my ball. That does not make me any closer to the purpose, but I strive not to be on the executioners’ side, borrowing from Albert Camus, which is the real reason why I’m writing.
The certainty that the game of life comes with rules written in a book, and it is absolute, and it is indisputable fact is not really about Religion per say, it is about submitting to a story without question.
The story is a collection of ideas; the sum of all ideas only becomes religious, when you disrupt the start and end of the story. In other words, when the start of the story is attributed to God, thereof cutting the human cognitive source, and the end of the story guarantees some kind of immortality, thus cutting the human continuity, it is only then the story transforms to the religious realm.
Though, regardless people have an incredible inclination to buy into the middle part of the story, the ideas, that is they shape their behaviors based on the ideas, and it’s based on the middle part of the story that programs are erected, institutions are built, and communities are built. In other words, just because the source of the story is God, people tend to listen to the message, they don’t pretend to be god, generally speaking, and how the end plays out, whatever the guarantees, the people somewhat surrender to faith. So what is the harm? really nothing until things go horribly horribly wrong.
Like one day you wake-up and according to all your neighbors you are holding the wrong rule book.
It is a fact we are all victims of ideas in a story, that is the price we pay for using Language as a medium. While that is undeniable, who controls the idea becomes a critical question. To help me illuminate on this question, I need to think out of the box.
So what if we imagine Language as a technology, invented by humans to open the doors of perception, to loosely borrow from Huxley. Ideas become simply a program using codes from the technology.
The ecosystem that contains all these programs end-up representing you, the person. However, there is still a “you”, much like a ghost in the machine, it’s “you” who chose what ideas to bring into your ecosystem, you chose what to purge or transform. In other words you have control, although, you may rescind control when faced with a person or entity that you recognize as a master, a teacher, a guide, or a partner, but as long as you know you have human rights, you may choose at any time to reshuffle your thinking, you can change your mind without fearing death. It’s a nice safety net.
What if you can’t change your mind? What if you live in a country where there is such a thing as a thought crime? What if you fear yourself, as in the thought of doubting your faith terrifies you to death?
Knowing the above exist as a matter of fact, how would that shape our thinking of Control? I would imagine a phrase such as “trust yourself” would be akin to an obscure language.
Following with the example above, when the technology (language) removes the human out of the equation – in other words when Language references God as the source of the Idea and the Human as just the receiver- something magnificent takes place, much like how we remove humans from the production of assembly lines, the transfer of technology becomes automated.In other words the Idea is optimized and efficient for eternal reproduction and the human is only needed as an incubator. The Idea in this case is the very concept of God, which to the people that believe in him as part of a specific story, can only exist if the story exists, you take away the story, and to the story believers, God does not exist.
The inner mechanics of a holy idea protects it from dislodge, the very tenants of the idea forbid the incubator from dislodging it. In many cases, a human does not understand his choices and thus lives and perishes only to transmit and transfer holy ideas.
To boot, consider some governments or a culture that transfixes holy ideas as public law, beyond reproach.
In this sense, from the point of view of Holiness, every human under such governing entity are soldiers, not merely humans, they are the incubator of instructions. Which works really well for the ruling party as they can punish with impunity all those who deviate, as the masses are shamed by their imperfection?
This type of control is binary, as the people want to receive it to remain in good grace, as the ruling party want to dish it, to keep the state of affairs stable. It also helps that we are biologically wired to transfer our DNA by making babies, and the holy system certainly ensures lots of babies.
However we all know the laws of entropy must eventually prevail. I would imagine to be free from an un-human system, a human must learn cognitive skills, such as to think about his thinking and at the same time learn how to observe his thinking process. He also has to deduce that the knowledge he is gaining about his own process has transformed him sufficiently that he values his new Self more than his old Self. He also has to value the process of his transformation enough where he feels a need to transfer this knowledge to his peers, and thereby spread his decoded-self-idea from peer to peer much like an anti-virus or anti-code and thus become the Apostate.
Once an Apostate exists, a neon vacancy sign immediately props-up, and the bidders for another big idea get all cozy, think of something really unifying and uplifting to shape the character, like a Mussolini, a Stalin, a Hitler, a General Mau or something more ethnic like a Saddam, or an Assad, these type of rumors will always be circling in the mind of the believers.
The elegance of our fiction is rooted in survival and for many that means a horrific brief existence on this planet. As such, almost anywhere we live we engage in self-denial and that certainly prolongs our existence, but for the few severely disturbed self denial adds quality of life too. However we slice it, the knowledge of the Self, remains the most dangerous commodity that a human can transfer to another human, and it’s not represented by thing or a book or it may not be innate but rather it’s an endless research project – borrowing from Foucault.
PS: ISIS and Videos about the Nature of the Self, bring out the strangest concepts.
TED talks and you tube related to the question of Human Nature:
Conspiracy theories in America
Reference to ISIS Articles:
- Graeme Wood, timely piece on ISIS was published in the Atlantics saying ISIS is very Islamic. http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/
- Elizabeth Stoker, from the Republic reminds us that we shouldn’t and are incapable of talking about religion, and what is the point of it all.
- John Terry from Slate responded to properly calibrate ISIS as modern not Medieval
- Jake Jenkins, from Think Progress, provided ridiculous quotes from Nihad Awad , the executive director of the council of American Muslims
- Lauren Carroll, Katie Sanders, from Politifact weigh in on the virtues of Obama calling ISIS Un-Islamic
- Max Fisher, from VOX exalting the need for us to call ISIS Islamic
- Tony Ortega, from Raw Story, noting the consequences of the Atlantic article promotes advertisement for ISIS (which is correct):
- Graeme then published follow up here to his original piece, acknowledging ISIS is modern and not Medieval as he noted, and reminding us all that ISIS totally agrees with what he is saying, except for the part that concerns shaving, which basically acknowledges that everyone that is against the article is right to think that it validates ISIS and they are wrong because they under-acknowledge the role that religion plays with ISIS. He also references as article by Shadi Hamid which I thought it was deeply informative.