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Author Topic: rude 'n' ridiculous rants + polite but painfully-slow prattle with passers-by  (Read 19738 times)

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Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #175 on: September 07, 2012, 05:04:13 PM »
I've spent a lot of my life carrying around the world's biggest fucking weight on my shoulders.  At least it felt that way to me.  Not that I've had a hard life; it's been easy compared to most.  Still, I felt I had to work so fucking hard all the time and tolerate so many difficulties.  Even when I enjoyed myself, which was not infrequently, it was only a brief respite from the daily grind, the daily slog through the swamps with the same old crushing weight on the back.

I'm reasonably sure that many people go through their entire lives that way, not because they want to, but because they're convinced that life is simply like that for most people.  They think life is about bearing your weight and enjoying yourself only on those rare occasions when you can find ways to forget about the weight or set it down momentarily.  The rest of the time is just struggle and patience, waiting for the next break from the daily grief.

Life isn't supposed to be like that for anyone.  No one.  Not one.  That's my opinion.

Here's another thing I think.  I think each of us has an intuitive sense that life isn't supposed to be that way.  That's why we chafe at the bit.  It's why we don't like bearing life's weights; not just because they're heavy, but because we were never meant to bear that weight, and somewhere deep down inside each of us, we yearn to be free of the weight we carry each day.

There's a rumor going around that it's actually possible to be free of all that weight at once.  All of it, poof, fucking gone.

There's another rumor going around that anyone can be that free if they want to.  Anyone.  Even the ones with the really hard lives; even the ones who have much worse shit to deal with than I do, much worse shit to deal with than I could even imagine, really.  Even they can be free of it all.

Can you fucking imagine?

People talk about being free.  People talk about being happy.  Uh-uh, I don't think so.  Something inside each of us yearns to be free and yearns to be happy, and we yearn for it so badly and so constantly -- you can't shut it off!  go ahead and try -- we want to be free and happy so bad that some people do this little mental trick.  They tell themselves, well, I can't stop desperately wanting to be free and happy; and I can't make myself free and happy, no matter how hard I try -- not for more than an evening or a few hours, here and there; so what I'll do is tell myself that I am free and happy, even though I don't feel that way

Find a dozen people who behave as if they feel free and happy.  It's not hard.  Go to a bar on the weekends, any bar, any nightclub.  You will find a few dozen or a few hundred people who desperately want to feel free and happy, so much so that they pretend they already feel that way, when they don't.  It's not their fault; they aren't all trying to deceive you or deceive one another.  They just don't believe that any other freedom or happiness exists in life, for anyone, or at least for themselves.  What else could they think?  No one they know seems to be any better off than they are, and some folks seem worse off, so at the end of the day, they just decide, well, this is life; I'm as happy and free as I could be; this is all there is.

Bull fucking shit.

But the first thing you need to do before you can get to the real freedom and real happiness is to stop believing the lie that this pathetic miserable pseudo-life that 90 percent of humanity accepts as the best thing available is really all that there is.  There's more.  There is more.

Who the fuck am I to make that claim to you?  Have I walked a mile in your shoes?  Do I know what your life is like, where you've been, how you feel?  Hell no.  I don't even know you personally.  Does that mean I'm wrong?  Maybe it does. 

But maybe it doesn't. 

I'll tell you this.  I've heard these rumors about real freedom and real happiness; and I've tasted it myself.  Me.  I have.  I remember the bullshit fake versions that I used to settle for; it hasn't been that long.  I still resort to those fake escapes now, sometimes, for various reasons; because it's a bit complicated, going the other way; I'm still learning how to keep the bike upright.  But I'm learning, and let me tell you something ...

I have tasted what's possible; I've tasted what's real.  And the rumors were true.  That's my opinion.  I'm out to get more; lots more; as much as I can handle.  I want it all, man; all of it.  Rumor says its out there for the taking.  Wanna come to?  :)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #176 on: September 11, 2012, 07:53:15 PM »
How hard is it to figure out the right way to go in this life?  Let me tell ya, kid ...

They say you're supposed to judge the effectiveness or wisdom or rightness of an approach by looking at the results, right?  It's in the Bible, too, if that's a big thing to you; judge a tree by its fruit, it says.

If the world wasn't so fucking fucked up all to hell, then choosing the right path in life would lead to the best possible results in life.

If the world was kinda fucked up but not too terribly fucked all to hell, then choosing the right path would at least get you a moderately good result, right?  Not too much worse than choosing any of the wrong paths, at least?  Hm?

Let me tell ya, here's what I think.  The world is fucked all to hell upside down backwards right up the ass with yer fucked-uppedness, fucking full of phony fuckery from your first foray to your fierce fighting finish.

If you manage to choose the right path through life -- if you figure out that there is one, and only one, and you choose it -- enjoy the initial delirious high while it lasts, all five minutes of that, and then -- get ready for a big surprise, sucka.  Not only will you not get the best possible results; not only will you not get a moderately good result; you've just set yourself up for one of the worst results you could possible imagine.

Try finding someone who ends up worse off than the ones who choose the right path.  Yeah, good luck with that.  You're fucked, my friend.  (Somebody smarter than me sang it this way:  "Welcome all you suckers to Struggleville".)

The world we live in is such a mess that you can't trust your results!  Not even for a second.  Everything, everything lies to you.  Get used to being tossed around.  Get used to failure with three capital F's.

In a world this backwards and upside-down and filled with foul fuckery, each of us gets to choose between trusting yourself, your own wits and impulses, or trusting instead in the crazy pipe-dream fantasy fiction known as Christianity.  Jesus had the gall and nerve and stupidity and insanity to suggest that everything you can see and feel is a lie, from the moment you pop out of the womb to the moment they seal you in your casket, and the only way you'll make it out of this life intact and whole and ready for the next is if you turn your back on everything that every sensible person you've ever met has trusted in and told you to do.  Your right path is right there in front of you, and you have to take it all by yourself, and the strength to survive and endure will be provided for you every single moment, from one moment to the next and the next, even when the sky falls on you for the five-hundredth time and all the people you admire are laughing at you or just shaking their heads in dismay and disbelief over just how stupid and stubborn and wrong-headed you can be.

Get used to it, buddy.  Welcome to hell on earth.  Welcome to heaven.  Figure it out.







Do the mega-nice things I say about Christianity and the mega-nasty things I say about Christianity seem contradictory to you?  They probably should.  I'm not sure I could trust so thoroughly and obstinately and breathlessly in the former if I didn't keep my one good eye open to and focused on the latter.  Fuck any feel-good bullshit, I just want the truth, goddammit.  Don't you?







If I actually thought people read this blog, it's a near-certainty I wouldn't be as candid in it.  I feel extremely apologetic towards anybody who ever reads any of this stuff; I know it's not entertaining or enjoyable to read, which is why I would naturally self-censor this stuff, normally.  I'm still working on figuring out why I'm not self-censoring all this.  I'll let you know when I figure that one out.  ;)







Is it a bad thing automatically to let yourself feel certain things?  If not, is it a bad thing to let anyone else know about those things?  Hum.  Tough call, both tough calls.

Why do people hide things from one another?  What would happen if we all just stopped doing that all of a sudden?

Prince had a great line about it, let me see if I can remember, sumthin' like ...

"If for just one day 
Everybody told the truth
We'd all trade bank accounts
and move to Neptune"

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #177 on: September 15, 2012, 03:40:16 PM »
Catching up on overdue bizness, plus another open invitation for audience participation

Alright, so.  Hiya.  :)  A while back, in this blog, I decided to undertake the task of explaining the core beliefs which I consider to constitute true Christianity.  Partly I wanted to do that because I've talked a lot about Christianity in this blog already and elsewhere at Elliquiy without ever explaining what Christianity means according to my understanding.  There are a lot of false impressions and misunderstandings that have come to be associated with Christianity, so I consider it a worthwhile goal to separate the popular misconceptions from the actual things I believe.  Also I wanted to undertake the project because of some recent discussions here that touched on the topic of Christianity.

I've been taking my sweet old time with getting that explanation written up, because I like to take my time with everything at Elliquiy -- I'm here to relax and enjoy myself, you know -- but also because I have mixed feelings about the process of explaining my beliefs to others.  I do not want to come across as pushing my beliefs on anyone or proselytizing in that way, nor do I want to make it sound like I look down on people who have different beliefs than I do; I believe it's possible to treat others with respect without necessarily agreeing with the things they believe.

Today it occurred to me while I was chatting with an old friend that perhaps there's a different way to go about this explanation altogether.  I previously conceived of the explanation as a long piece of writing by me alone, and I did three installments along those lines, none of which I was terribly thrilled with.  I'd like to take a different approach to the whole project at this point, an approach that will accomplish the same goals without running the same risks -- the risk of proselytizing or sounding like I'm putting others down or just being freakin' long-winded and boring.  :)

Starlequin -- I don't know if you have continued reading posts to this blog or not, since you haven't posted here in quite a while, and that's fine of course -- you should never feel obligated to read or participate in this blog.  However, if you are still interested in hearing more about my understanding of Christianity, I would like for you to let me know that you're still out there (first of all), and then I would like to engage you in a back-and-forth discussion about religious and philosophical topics in general.  We've done some of that already, of course, but my aim in this case will be focused to accomplish two goals:  first, to cover the most important parts of Christianity in the course of our discussion; and second, perhaps just as importantly, for me to get a better understanding of your philosophical perspective.  I think a dialog format will make it much more enjoyable and beneficial and educational for me, if you're willing to give it a shot.  It's completely up to you, though; if your interest in these topics has waned, or if you're not interested for whatever reasons, you need not even reply to this offer, if you don't want.

I'd like to make the very same offer to anyone else who might happen to read this post.  I would like to learn about your personal philosophy or religion, and by that I simply mean, I want to learn a bit about how you live your life:  what kinds of things are important to you, what are your priorities in life, how do you decide what to do with your time.  We will not need to discuss any particulars about your personal life, necessarily; you can give as little or as much detail about yourself as you feel comfortable with.  I'll be asking you questions that can be answered with or without going into specifics.  In the course of our discussion, if it seems relevant and appropriate, I can explain some of the things that I believe, as points of comparison or contrast to whatever you believe, and simply for the benefit of sharing the information, without any pressure whatsoever for either of us to agree about anything.

The truth is that I want very much to better understand how other people live their lives -- what they do and why they do it.  It bothers me a great deal to feel that I have very little in common with other people in terms of personal philosophy or lifestyle approaches or personal priorities.  If I can probe others about the topics that interest me, I sincerely hope that I will find more commonalities between us than I've been able to imagine so far, or barring that, at least I may gain a better understanding of how and why our mindsets diverge.

It's an open offer.  I hope someone takes me up on it!  I expect it to be fun, frankly; at least that's how I picture it in my head.  :)  We won't know until we try!  Post here or PM me.  We can have our discussion privately or publicly, according to your wishes.  Thanks!

Oh, one more thing.  Parts of this blog have contained discussions between myself and others, and in those posts, I've tried to keep things friendly and respectful, and I hope I've succeeded in that -- others would be the better judges, of course.  Other parts of this blog have contained very emotional and self-disclosing confessionals and diatribes of various sorts, filled with profanity and heated rantings; those posts are intended as cathartic self-exposure, not aimed at any particular reader so much as intended for a general (and perhaps theoretical) audience.  Any time I actually engage others in dialog, I try to keep out any inappropriate or heated emotion, even (perhaps especially) when we are discussing points of disagreement or differing perspectives on religion or philosophy.  In short -- I'll try my best not to bite!  So don't worry about that.  :)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #178 on: September 15, 2012, 09:54:10 PM »
The following is the full text of an email I just composed to a dear dear friend of mine, whom I've known for nearly three decades.  (God I'm old.)  Why would you want to read this?  Hell if I know; why would anyone read anything in this blog?  hehehehe  I imagine that it might theoretically be amusing to some theoretical person to get these somewhat random and unusually intimate glimpses into my life and my mindset; that's what this blog seems to be for.  So, here's another post along those lines.  Take it as you will.

Names have been redacted to protect the guilty.

Quote
Sat, September 15, 2012 10:22:20 PM
solo Saturday night soliloquizing
From:   
J***** <********@yahoo.com>
To:   ************@yahoo.com   
Hi K***** ..........

I hope you find something worthwhile in these random out-of-the-blue music
comments that I've been sending you.  Some of them are things that I've been
posting to this blog thing that I started, but most of them are things that no
other human on the planet besides you and I could possibly give a shit about.
:)  So it's nice to bend your ear.

When you aren't busy exploring the world of keyboard dissonance, I think you
ought to spend some time polishing your writing skills.  You may or may not
realize this, but it's actually not at all typical for anyone to have as many
original opinions and thoughts about music as you have; it's the kind of thing
that other people besides me would enjoy reading.  Except you gotta polish your
grammar some.  You have a hilarious tendency to leave out words altogether, as
if you get so excited about what you're saying that you get ahead of yourself
without realizing it.  :)  It's endearing for anyone who knows you, but it would
annoy a general audience of readers.

What use could you possibly have for becoming a better writer?  Who knows.  But
it's a gift you have, and for that reason alone, it's worth developing that gift
and sharing it with others.  I enjoyed the hell out of the longer email you sent
me, for example.

Your list of music you're listening to lately was so impressive that it almost
looked fake.  :)  If I didn't know that you were being totally frank and honest
-- if that list came from anyone else, someone I didn't know -- I would suspect
that you were simply trying to show off how deep and broad your musical
knowledge and interests were, in a way that no actual human being could.
hehehehe  In other words, you still have the best taste in music of anyone I
could even imagine knowing.  That's no small feat after so many years of knowing
you.

(How is it that some people can have good taste in music for a little while, and
then suddenly not?  My brother's taste in music seems to have gone south right
after high school, and everything he's listened to since then has been utterly
inconsequential and largely worthless or terrifically obvious (ex. Led Zeppelin,
Motown).  Sad.  His stylistic explorations as a teenager provided my first
exposure to many artists whose music still means *everything* to me, and
indirectly affected your taste also:  U2, Midnight Oil, and (more me than you),
Steve Winwood and 10000 Maniacs, among a few others.  People change.)

I feel awful about never replying to the last couple emails S****** sent me.  I
don't always find it easy or simple to communicate with anyone, as you must
know, perhaps better than anyone else.  Right now, for example, I'm writing you
in part because I'm feeling a touch more gregarious and sociable than usual,
which is directly attributable to the fact that I'm doing shots of vodka at the
moment.  Would I have the motivation or courage to send you a message like this
if no alcohol was involved?  It's the kind of thing I wish I did much more
often, but I always put off this kind of thing because it seems like it takes
effort, and I never seem to have enough energy to put forth the effort to do all
the things I'd like to do.  Sadly, replying to S*****'s emails fell into that
category of things I kept putting off but wished that I had done.  Perhaps you
can convey to her that I'm not as much of an asshole as I often appear to be.
:)  Well, unless you think I'm an asshole too, in which case, well, I deserve it
I suppose, so I can't say much to that.  :(

Isn't it funny how candid and talkative I get when I'm drinking?  Heh.

I'm so glad S***** is part of your life.  Have I told you that before?  No?  I
should have.  I'm also glad she's part of my life, but obviously that's not as
important in relative terms.

My current collection of softcore pinup-type porn pictures downloaded from the
internet is hovering at about 50,000.  Is that kind of grotesque and pathetic?
Oh yes it certainly is.  But perhaps you will find that statistic amusing
nonetheless.  :)

And now for a word of wisdom from Mr. Stewart Copeland.

"And when the wombat comes
He will find me gone
He'll look for a place to sit"

That guy kills me.  Fucking genius.  Wait one more.

"... I don't know what's wrong with me
The cups and plates are in a conspiracy
I'm covered in misery"

hehehehehe

At the ripe old age of 30-whatever, I'm finally giving 10-9-8-7-6-5 etc. from
Midnight Oil a good, close listen, like, close enough that I know every track
well, which is something I've been meaning to do ever since you sent me the
cassette in a "care package" in 1989, or perhaps 1990 -- my freshman year in
high school in Virginia.  (A fond memory, as you might have guessed.)  I seem to
have misplaced my copy of Red Sails in the Sunset back when I moved to West
Virginia from Chicago, which means I haven't heard that album since 2010 or
whatever, which annoys me; I really want to hear the thing again.  Until I
locate it, though, I'm getting a whole new appreciation for the previous album
and the way both those albums set up the material that was to follow.  Midnight
Oil is now my favorite band, as I'm sure I announced to you shortly after I
decided upon it, since you are definitely the only person on the planet who
could possibly give even a tiny shit about what band I happen to consider my
favorite at any given moment.  Wait -- you do care about that, don't you?  Nah,
don't answer that.  ;)

I cannot believe how gifted Sting is.  I'm listening to the Police at the
moment, in case you hadn't guessed.  I love that you've known these songs for
years and years while I'm just now getting to know them well (Message in a
Box).  I can't believe how sophisticated Sting is as a musician; his bass
playing in the very earliest Police material is wicked-complex and way too
intricate for any normal human to sing over, but I'm sure he did.  Did you
realize he often sang in falsetto?  Perhaps you did.  I didn't; for some reason,
his vocal range struck me as too broad to be considered falsetto, which I think
of as a kind of vocal trick that is much more limited than a singer's ordinary
range.  I recently looked up the types of singing voices on Wikipedia and
discovered much to my embarrassment that I had no fucking idea what the proper
terms were for male and female vocal types.  Live and learn.

Are you well, K*****?  I hope so.  I'm sure it doesn't seem obvious to you in any
way, but I think of you and S***** at least daily, if not more often.  (I make a
habit of attempting to say prayers on a daily basis, which is not a goal I
usually hit -- it's more likely once or twice a week -- but you and S***** are
always included by name in my prayers for those people who matter the most to me
on planet Earth.  I'll bet you didn't even know that I pray that often, did
you?  Why haven't I told you that before?  I don't know.  It bothers me that I
haven't been more candid with my very few loved ones about certain things about
my personality and routine habits.  I hope to explain myself more fully to you
and certain other people someday, but it's so, so fucking hard to do that when
we no longer spend time around each other on a regular basis.  I feel like I
really blew it in terms of letting the people I care most about get a good sense
of who I really am and what matters most to me in life, but nowadays I spend all
my time alone, really, so I don't know how to correct that oversight.)

( ... By email?  How preposterous!  How unlikely and inadequate.  Alas! ....)

Be well my friend; my next shot is dedicated to you and yours.  ;)

-- J*****, who misses your company more than you probably realize

What, you thought "Rick" was my real name?  hehehehehe
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 10:18:53 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #179 on: September 16, 2012, 04:07:52 AM »
@ Oniya

Are you still out there among the mysterious ranks of my cherished but unidentified readers?  :)  If not, no biggie.  This isn't important enough to merit a PM.

I confess that I didn't listen to the Dar Williams link you put in this thread until just now, simply because I don't habitually watch videos online or listen to music online.  It was -- and I thank you for this -- my first exposure to Dar Williams' music, although I've heard her name countless times and known of her existence for umpteen years. 

I found the lyrics you cited rather charming and even moving, in the sense that I'm a Christian and you might (?) if I recall correctly identify as a "Pagan" -- I think I read that in another thread? -- and it pleases me to think that you're able to read this thread from time to time and find something worthwhile in it, even if you don't share my extreme views about various philosophical points.

More significantly (perhaps), I was shocked to discover just how discordant and abrasive Dar Williams' vocal style seemed to be, simply because I thought that the other groups you listened to most frequently were more pop-oriented -- am I wrong that Boston is your favorite band?  Nothing wrong with that, of course.  (My apologies if I picked a totally wrong band; I don't recall where I got that impression, but it was from some half-remembered Elliquiy thread.)  Dar just struck me as an acquired taste, far less instantly likable than Boston, for example, whom I know only from their signature classic song.  Not that I know either artist well; I'm just hypothesizing.  :) 

Anyway, thanks for the link; it was a delightful and unexpected musical revelation.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #180 on: September 16, 2012, 10:31:41 AM »
Yes, still here :-)  And I did choose that song specifically because of the fact that we can have these civil conversations despite our religious differences.  Well, that and the whole 'magic' bit that you'd mentioned.

Musically, I'm about as eclectic as it comes - I've listened to (and enjoyed) everything from Germanic metal like And One to folk music like the Kingston Trio, with stops off in Classic Rock, Pop, and Broadway (with the occasional guilty forays into Simon and Garfunkel and Barry Manilow).  I will forgive you for forgetting that I am a Styx fan of high order, because Boston is an awesome band as well ;D  By the way, you should check out Boston's song 'Higher Power', now that I think about it.  (You might be interested to know that Tom Scholz is the brains behind Rockman guitar tech, before it got sold to Dunlop.)

Yes, C&P is one of Dar's folksy pieces, and I'd say about half her catalog is that sort of bouncy rhythm with those notes that aren't quite right but slide together somehow.  If you want some selections from the other half, I'd recommend 'Family' and 'Mortal City'

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #181 on: September 26, 2012, 08:24:04 AM »
Do you believe the right things or the wrong things?

Is what you believe true or false?

How can you tell?

Here is how.  Here is the only test that matters, the only one that makes sense.

Are you happy?  Are you whole?  Are you satisfied?  Are you at peace?  Are you content?

If you can answer yes to those questions with full honesty and full confidence, then you are on the right path, and the things you believe are true.  Otherwise, not.

Christianity is either true or false.  Other belief systems and other philosophies are either true or false.  How can you tell one way or the other?  See the questions above.

Your answers to the questions above will change over time, as you accumulate experiences -- as you go about the process of living.  Eventually -- and this is certain, whether you like it or not -- eventually, you will arrive at answers that you end up living with, long-term, and those are your real answers.  Those are the only answers that matter, the only honest ones.

Many people lie to themselves for years; it's very natural and normal. 

There is only one way to be happy, whole, satisfied, at peace, and content.  There is only one way for anyone to do those things.  Many people go other ways in their lives, but when they do, they always end up unhappy, incomplete, unsatisfied, troubled, and discontent.

In a sense, it is a beneficial thing to be unhappy, incomplete, unsatisfied, troubled, and discontent, because those feelings push people to seek the true path, the one that leads to the better things.

All of us feel unhappy and troubled from time to time, but for some of us, those are only temporary feelings that pass before long.  Some of us are actually happy and at peace, even though our feelings still say different sometimes.  That's how feelings are.

For others of us, though -- and this is so important! -- for others of us, our feelings of unhappiness and discontent do not pass, and they must not be ignored.  Do not lie to yourself and tell yourself you're happy when you're not, or content when you're not.  Most people who claim to be happy or content are doing just that.  Yeah, most.

...

There are only two ways to go in life; there are only two paths through life.  You can either trust yourself or trust Jesus.  Everyone does one or the other.

You can't be alive without trusting in something.  You must depend upon something to make sense of reality and to direct your activities.  That is what you trust in, what you depend upon. 

There is only one other thing you can trust in besides yourself, because there is only one other thing besides yourself that is real, and that is Jesus.

People who trust in themselves end up unhappy and troubled.  Always.  The ones who claim otherwise are either being dishonest with you or with themselves.  They will eventually see the truth about themselves and realize that they're unhappy.  All of them will.

People who trust in things other than Jesus are actually trusting in themselves without realizing it.  All the other things they think they can trust in are false; they cannot be depended upon, and they always fail, eventually.  That's a good thing, because that's how people can figure out if they're trusting in something real or false.  (What does the failure look like?  The people end up unhappy, incomplete, etc.)







The purpose of posts like this one is not to piss anyone off.  Writing these things down helps me to understand them clearly.  These are the things I believe.  If you don't believe them, that's your right, and I respect that right -- in fact, if you think the things I say are false, then by all means, you should not believe them.  I think I believe in things that are true, but you can disagree, and you should do so if that is how you honestly feel.  Want to talk about anything here?  Just get in touch or post here; I'm willing and interested and generally harmless.







Lately I've been thinking about discontinuing this blog.  It's not going to happen immediately, but it may happen soon.  The reason is that I'm not at all convinced that more than one person actually reads this blog, and if there's only one person reading, there's no point in doing the blog; it would make better sense to just talk to that person in private.

The only way I can tell if anyone reads the blog is if people occasionally post here, and besides Oniya (love ya Oniya!), nobody has posted lately, so I assume nobody's out there. 

If for some reason you would like to see this blog continue, all you have to do is post here and say hello, or say anything that's on your mind.  Then I'll know there's at least two people reading (assuming Oniya's still around -- good ole' Oniya!), and the blog will seem more worth doing.

[Don't post here out of pity or something.  :)  Only if you actually want to post here, for whatever reason.  Seriously, I'm fine with or without the blog.  It's been a wonderful and absolutely bizarre experience; I got no regrets.  Everything ends sometime.]

An astonishing number of people have posted to this blog in the past, and that's been great; it's probably a large part of why this blog has lasted as long as it has.  But I assume those people don't read the blog regularly unless they continue to post sometimes (like Oniya does -- love that gal! hehehe).

Before I drop the blog, though, I hope to have a bit of dialog with Starlequin -- soon! -- and maybe other stuff too.  So, just keeping you posted on the state of things.  Also, I may totally change my mind and keep going even if nobody posts, because I'm strange and unpredictable like that.  :)

I'm planning to devote myself to RPing in a big way soon, so I'll have other stuff to keep me busy besides this blog, so it's all good.

BTW, there are lots of other Elliquiy blogs, and almost all of them are well worth your time and attention, moreso than this blog even, so go read those!  You'll be glad you did.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #182 on: September 27, 2012, 02:31:38 PM »
@ Starlequin

Hey buddy, you out there somewheres?  Alright, let's see, we were gonna talk about some stuff; let me see if I can recall what.  :)

Okay, about the philosophy stuff, I figured the best way to proceed with that would be for me to ask you a question or two, and then we'll proceed to have a conversation.  I'm experimenting because we are having a conversation in writing rather than in person, so it may not go as smoothly as I would hope, but then again, maybe it will!  Who knows?  So -- it occurred to me today that since we're going to talk about very big, broad, gigantic philosophical topics, maybe a good way to start out is to start at the very opposite end:  to talk about very teeny weeny topics, and then build to larger things.  So my first question to you is very simple:  what do you believe?  Phrased differently:  what do you believe in?  Another way of putting it:  what don't you believe, or believe in?  And, second question, why or why not?  You can answer any of that in whatever way occurs to you, and then we'll see where we go next.  Sorry if this seems too experimental to make sense yet, but maybe it will start to make sense soon -- I hope!

Other blogging business to follow ...

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #183 on: September 28, 2012, 04:35:36 AM »
Yo Rick,

Just letting you know I caught your questions; point-by-point answers should be forthcoming soon...ish, lol.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #184 on: September 28, 2012, 08:03:43 AM »
Very good, sir.  No hurry ...

Don't forget the Powerpoint slides, though; they will count for half of your grade.

;)

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #185 on: September 28, 2012, 09:21:00 PM »
Alright, let's just dive right in.

Question 1: 'What do you believe?'

Well, for starting out with a small topic you certainly opened with a broad question, lol. I'm sure this won't be as condensed or as eloquent as I'd like it to be, so I'll just start with a few bullet points.

-I believe that the universe and everything in it can be described through natural, physical, rational means. If it absolutely, positively cannot under any circumstances be understood through natural means, then the probability of its physical existence approaches zero.

-I believe that there may or may not exist something that we might call 'magic', but if it does exist it is still accessible, describable and understandable via the scientific method, even if human minds are not currently or ever capable of achieving this understanding. Basically, Clarke's Law: Any sufficiently advanced (or complex) technology (or process) is indistinguishable from magic.

-I believe that science has provided an excellent starting point for us to understand the natural beginnings of our universe, the formation of our solar system and planet, and the beginnings of life and the evolution of that life into its current population model via the mechanism of natural selection.

-I believe there is no inherent or mandatory purpose to life, and that if any entity desires a purpose it must form that purpose for itself.

-I believe life has probably generated elsewhere in the universe during its vast history due to the sheer number of star systems currently observable and estimable by scientists; whether any of those lifeforms have evolved in similar manner to homo sapiens or have developed any form of culture or civilization capable of communicating or interacting with humanity is unknown, but not inherently unknowable.

-I believe human beings, by virtue of our biology as well as our capacity for complex thought and communication, are or can become capable of what we would largely consider extraordinary actions (i.e. utilizing adrenal and muscular systems to move or lift several hundred pounds during emergencies (such as parents lifting cars off of their children), subconsciously communicating with our immune systems and/or cellular structures to increase the body's resilience against injury or disease (sudden, inexplicable remissions of cancer, Shaolin monks' demonstrations of 'iron shirt' or 'chi' techniques, etc) or processing information / reacting to environmental stimuli seemingly instantaneously (eidetic memory, the almost superhuman reflexes of soldiers or athletes, etc)).

-I believe that the possibility of infinite, multiple universes as posited by the theory of quantum mechanics is at the very least a damn nice idea, if for no other reason than that it means that somewhere in another universe, there's a version of me that gets to have sex with Emma Watson, Keira Knightley and Rachel Leigh Cook together every night.

Question 1, rephrased: 'What do you believe in?'

-I believe in myself. I believe in my ability to solve problems through analysis, determination, and action. I believe in my capacity to learn, to understand and to communicate. I believe in my creativity and imagination, and I believe I can use those qualities to benefit myself and those around me.

-I believe in the love that I have for those I care about, and my desire to see them healthy and happy.

-I believe in the capacity of human beings to show empathy, compassion, courage and kindness to their fellow humans, as well as to other animals.

-I believe in humanity's capacity for problem solving, and that there is nothing within the realm of possibility we could not accomplish if enough of us work together.

-I believe in doing the right thing for no reason other than it is the right thing to do, and we can know what the right thing to do is by using our intellectual and emotional judgement and determining which actions will grant the most benefit while causing the least harm to the most individuals, accounting for such variables as how happy or unhappy, safe or unsafe, pleasurable or painful, etc. said actions will make ourselves and others, the intrinsic / external values and worths applied to all individuals who will be affected by each outcome, etc., etc.

Question 1, alternate perspective: 'What don't you believe/in?'

-I don't believe religion or pseudoscience can explain things that real science can't.

-I don't believe the Talmud, the Bible, the Koran, or any other so-called 'holy' book is an accurate representation of either history or the will or thoughts of any supreme creator or higher being.

-I don't believe 'faith' is an adequate explanation for matters or concepts I don't understand.

-I don't believe we exist according to the will, whim or mercy of a supernatural being whose motivations and abilities are incomprehensible to us.

-I don't believe any crime can possibly merit infinite punishment.

I'm going to stop there on Question 1, since I feel that's a good start to work from and hope you agree. As for Question 2 (Why, or why not?), I will forego the bullet point format and simply say that I have a deep appreciation for logic, reason, evidence and proof, because such things have proven to me to be valuable in dealing with the events of my life, and my life experience has taught me that the above statements provide an accurate and reliable framework in which I can view and interact with reality.

And now, like a World Air Hockey Champion, I will return your initial serve and ask you the same questions. What, exactly, do you believe and not believe, what do you believe and not believe in, why, and why not? Obviously feel free to snag my format or compose your own, take as much time as you feel you need, if any readers are out there waiting with bated breath I recommend you go pop a little Orville Reddenbacher, kick back and relax, and I look forward to your replies.

Later, tovarich!
~Starlequin

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #186 on: October 04, 2012, 02:19:28 AM »
Tovarich:  reply pending.  Thanks for your patience!  :)







October 4, 2012
2:16 AM-3:17 AM
a very important message to you (yes:  YOU)

I've been to heaven.  No wait, correction; better than that.  I'm in heaven right now, as I compose this.  You could be in heaven right now, too, as you read this.  (?)

Listen.  Heaven is better than anything I can conceive.

Now listen to this; this is the literally (literally, literally) the best thing I can conceive.

Being outside of time is the best thing I can conceive.  Here is how I define being outside of time, that state.  If one were outside of time, then there would be enough time for everything to be, for everything to happen.  In other words, time would no longer be a constraint upon reality, a constraint upon being, so everything could be.  If everything could be, then anything and everything I think of could be.  In other words, the only remaining constraint (discernible feature; limiting factor; characteristic) upon reality (being) would be thought, my thought, the capacity of the conceiver to conceive.

Here are some of the features of the best reality I can conceive.

Everyone is happy forever.  Everyone gets everything they want forever, including getting everything they want for a limited time and/or never, or getting nothing they want for x period of time, getting x for x length of time, etc. etc.  Think of it this way:  x equals x, but there is also enough time for x to not equal x, so therefore, there is enough time for x to equal y, so x can equal y, so x equals y.  Everything is everything; and, by definition, everything is not everything; i.e., everything is.

Being in heaven is very difficult to describe in a way that will make any sense to any person not in heaven.  However, at this point, I believe it can be described.  I might change my mind about that someday, after I re-read this document, for example -- if it makes no sense to me later.

I believe that once one understands the things written in this document, one can live as if ... no; correction.  This document doesn't matter; it's nothing of importance.  Here's what is important.

I can conceive of a state of timelessness.  The way I would describe such a state is one in which thought becomes the only limitation upon reality:  anything I can conceive of being has being; anything I can conceive is.  Another way of saying it:  outside of time, there is enough time for everything I can think of to happen, so you could say that everything is everything, or everything is.

In that case, there is no truth or falsehood, no good or bad, no pain, no tears, no suffering, nothing undesirable.

I can conceive of such a state, perhaps not in every minute detail, but in more than sufficient detail for all intents and purposes, in more than enough detail to be able to say that I actually conceived of that state, unless you arbitrarily claim that such a conception is not possible, to which I can only respond that I totally disagree with you.

Heaven is better than anything I can conceive.  I can conceive of timelessness.  Heaven is better than timelessness.  Timelessness according to my best conception of it is a state in which everything is.  Heaven is better than everything being, i. e., everything I can think of being, being. 

Living in heaven means conceiving of timelessness -- being outside of time -- and then living accordingly, as if one were outside of time already, knowing (having perfect faith, in which case, believing=knowing) that one will be outside of time eventually.  What's the difference between being outside of time later on, and being outside of time right now? i.e. at a later time having no time, and right now having no time?  No difference.

Perfect faith = believing = knowing = being in heaven eventually = being in heaven now.

Live as if you have all the time in the world to do anything, because you do.

Do what you would do if you had all the time in the world to do anything, because you do.

If?  You do, if?  (Is there any limitation?  Any further defining characteristic to such a state?)

Yes.  You do, IF.  If you believe in Jesus.  That is the limitation.  There has to be one; that's it.  Why does there have to be one?  I don't know.  I don't know that.  Even if I knew everything, there would have to be one thing I didn't know in order for anyone to say anything about knowing or not knowing things, so that's the one thing that I don't know.

Hard to talk about.  See?  Yeah.

That's the best I could do right now; maybe the best I'll ever do, or maybe not.

You are in heaven right now, if and only if, you believe in Jesus.  If you believe in Jesus, you are free and happy.  If you do not believe in Jesus, you are not free, and you are not happy.

I've believed these things for much of my life, and it turns out, they're the truth.  That's what I've believed all along -- that these things are the truth; I believe it now.  All you need to do is believe the truth, and you will be happy and free, just like me, or maybe even better off than I am.  (That would be fine with me, too.)

I am happy.  I am free.  If that isn't heaven, then -- well -- I don't know what is.  That's the best I can conceive of, so that's heaven for me.  What about you?

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #187 on: October 04, 2012, 02:34:12 AM »
Addendum.  Don't believe anything I tell you; not a damn thing.  But I believe God is real, and God is after you; he wants you.  Try to listen to him.  Find out what he has to tell you, and then believe that.  He will tell you the truth.  Trust him.  Chase after him; seek him.  Seek him and you will find him.  (It's in the Bible too, if that's important to you.  I don't just make all this shit up, you know.)

Don't believe me; please don't.  Go look for the truth, and you will find it.  It's not inside you; it's outside you.  I happen to know, because I found it already.  Don't believe me?  That's okay.  ;)
« Last Edit: October 04, 2012, 02:38:04 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #188 on: October 05, 2012, 07:11:10 PM »
Just want to share this with you.

I don't know if this is the best news of all, or not, but I think it's up there, somewhere close.

When you arrive at the finish; when your life's purpose is realized; when the goodness that is you finally enters the world for all to see; it won't be you that accomplishes it.  You can't do shit compared to what God can do with you.

Do you believe that human beings are responsible for any of the good things we all have?  Even one of those truly good things?

We are children, made to play and enjoy, made to receive, allowed to be who we are, because God wants us that way.

The result of the work that you are meant to do in your life is going to be a greater result than you could possibly imagine and something so great you could never hope to accomplish it.  There is so much goodness around us and within us, and none of it came from us.

Relax and don't worry; listen to and think about the good news.  (The good news has a name; I've heard it; you have too.)  That'll keep you busy long enough to get out of these petty, present struggles; and then -- just wait and see.

You can have it all right now, because you don't make it happen; God is waiting to give you everything, all you need to do is to let him.

When I learn things like this, I want to tell you about them.  I'm learning things slowly.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #189 on: October 05, 2012, 07:42:04 PM »
You can go through life trying to get things for yourself.  It's what most people do.  There isn't much wrong with it.  It's certainly natural.

What's wrong with it -- yes there's something wrong with it -- what's wrong with it is that such an approach is based upon a complete misunderstanding of your place in the universe.  You aren't here to do whatever you want to do.  You're here because God wants to do something with you.  You're here for his purposes and for his use.  It's nothing to be unhappy about; just the contrary, in fact.  The things you want to do are shite, all of them, compared to what God wants to do with you.  If you let him do it, you'll see that for yourself, again and again, and you'll be amazed because your vision is so limited.  He will not force you, though, because he doesn't want to force you to do anything (even though he could force you, of course, if he wanted to).  You will let him use you, or you won't.

You can go through life watching and enjoying yourself as God makes use of you to accomplish wonderful things.  This was what you were put here for, what you were meant to do, and how wonderful it is when it happens, when you finally let it happen.  Not many people do it, and no, you can't pick them apart from the people who don't do it, at least not every time, and not without guessing wrong plenty of times.

You will have dropped into your lap gifts so wonderful that no other person has ever begun to conceive how wonderful they are, or at least, it certainly seems that way.  You cannot and will not ever do anything so great that you deserve to receive such gifts; you cannot and will never earn them, but you get to have them anyway.

Everything is backwards and upside down.  The richest among us will be revealed as very poor indeed, while the poorest will be admired for their good fortune.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #190 on: October 07, 2012, 03:30:26 AM »
I feel shitty a lot.  The reason I feel that it's important to mention that here is not because I'm looking for sympathy or something ... I hope that's apparent, not least of which because I honestly assume that few or no people read this blog closely or repeatedly (like, more than once). 

(If I ran across this blog, if it were written by someone else, I don't honestly think I'd look at it more than once, nor do I think that I'd read more than three or four sentences of any post.  What does that mean?  I don't fucking know.)

I feel shitty a lot.  Right, getting back to that.  But, I also feel great a lot.  Not just great; inappropriately great. 

I frequently feel so great that any trained psychiatrist or psychologist would probably consider me mentally imbalanced (or whatever the preferred word is at the moment:  mentally unsound, disturbed, ill, out of whack -- mentally insane, basically).

I frequently feel so bad that any trained etc. etc. ditto.

Yes I know that going back and forth between excessive highs and lows amounts to a specific diagnosis -- bipolar disorder -- with a specific treatment recommendation.  I tried that treatment recommendation (lithium) once, at the suggestion of my psychiatrist at the time, and I had very negative results, negative enough that I wouldn't ever want to try it again.  On the other hand, bipolar disorder runs in families, and my older brother has a very clear and very serious case of bipolar disorder.  Me, I got depression, for which I take two medications -- combination therapy, or whatever they call it. 

Oh, before I go ... here's why I think it's important for me to be frank and candid in this blog about feeling so fucking awful sometimes.  I say a lot of shit in this blog where I recommend for other people to share certain beliefs that I consider all-important.  All that stuff is totally sincere.  Totally, fucking, sincere.  Know what else is sincere?  I'm a mentally ill person.  I have a mental illness.  Let's not forget that.  Just saying.  Now, is the first sincerity at odds with the second sincerity?  Yeh, guess you figured that out, huh?  Sorry 'bout that.  It's what you get you spending too much time reading shit at Elliquiy, I guess.  ;)

Graar.  Look at me saying awful stuff about people who might read this blog, at the same time that I obviously hope some human being besides me will read the stuff I write here.  One more self-contradiction; add it to the spreadsheet.

Here, before I go, one last thing.  I am a fucking fallible human being.  I am so often totally wrong.  I embarrass myself.  I try so hard and fail so utterly so often.  It's the motherfucking story of my life.  Don't kid yourself.  If the fact that I can put two or three words together in a coherent fashion gives you the false impression that I have any special insight into anything whatsoever, please disabuse yourself of that notion; I don't know shit.

Now.  Me, the fallible fucking first fool of the fallible fucking universe?  All that crazy happy shit I say sometimes about Christianity?  Man, it's true.  If you have the misfortune of reading this blog closely for any length of time, you have no doubt heard me proclaim without logical justification over and over again that Christianity is true.  It must be tedious to read.  I'm sorry that it's so tedious to read.  However, I take none of that back, I'm afraid; I can't.

I am the world's first jackass, the jackass-in-chief; I am the main coward and disgrace and pile of dogshit. 

I am also the recipient of the greatest gift any human being has ever received.

Heh.  "Just sayin'!"

Sorry.  Hard moments, not good for posting, I guess.


Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #191 on: October 08, 2012, 12:44:57 AM »
Today I am thankful for the fact that I often feel like shit.  I'm not kidding at all.  Let me explain a little.

If I feel like shit, it's because I'm supposed to feel that way.  Here is something I am absolutely certain of, or at least, as certain as I ever get about anything, which isn't 100%, but it's close:  I never, ever feel like shit unless I'm supposed to feel that way.  Neither do you, by the way.  And I can tell you that without even knowing you.

I know that people suffer and hurt; you have; I have.  No one should ever make light of another person's suffering or pain.  No one should ignore another person's suffering or pain.  No one should ignore his or her own suffering or pain.  None of these facts contradict the fact that no one ever feels shitty unless they're supposed to.

Follow me here.  What I'm saying is:  feeling like shit is wonderful.  No, let's take it even further.  Feeling like shit is the most wonderful that you or I could feel, in any moment in which you or I feel like shit. 

Why do we all imagine that God is not in control of everything?  Of course he is.  Why do we all imagine that God does not care for every one of us, more than you or I have ever cared for anyone or anything?  Of course he does.  We are mites compared to him; we're like little bugs.  But he loves us bugs, so it's okay.

Sometimes the awful experiences and awful feelings in life lead to surprising and wonderful benefits that could not have come any other way.  Usually, though, in my cynical and carefully-considered opinion, usually the awful stuff is just that:  awful, without any benefit that anyone can identify.  But still, even in all those times, there is a reason, and it's a very good reason, even though it remains a total mystery to us.  Bet on this, friend:  it won't always be a mystery.







Will I or won't I discontinue this blog soon?  I will ... I think.  I dunno.  It's been very valuable for me to write down these things, and apparently, I would not have done it without the fact that I put these things in this blog.  However, it makes better sense to not bother with the blog, as long as I can either keep writing down things that I need to write down, or keep enjoying whatever benefit I derive from writing things down, even if I don't write them down.

My brain struggles to function according to the most basic logic.  I don't know how or if I could think logically without going through these steps of making sentences and typing them.  We'll see.







If at first you don't succeed ... get used to it, sucker!  ;)

Sometimes I communicate clearly and well.  Sometimes, eh, not so much ........







God I miss Charlie Brown and Peanuts and Charles Schulz.  The ability to really laugh at one's failures and foibles is a precious gift indeed, and few works of popular art communicated that virtue so effectively or so frequently as Peanuts did.  Though we seldom have opportunity to realize it, I think our whole culture is much the lesser for the passing of such a singular giant as Schulz*.  I'm so glad his talents were so widely appreciated while he was with us, though.

Popular art, even so-called "low" art, has the power to really move me, whether it's comic strips or comic books or commercial illustration or rock and roll or television.  I feel awe and reverence for great works of art, on those rare occasions when I actually understand them ... but it's the lowly arts that do it for me the most, day in and day out. 

Take my life but please don't take away my CDs, man!  :)



*See also:  Jim Henson.  Jeff Buckley.  James Brown.  Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.  Chris Whitley.  Joe Strummer.  Joey Ramone.  Johnny Cash.  Jack Kirby.  Andy Griffith.  Don Knotts.  etc. etc. etc.

(Why didn't any female names occur to me just then?  Not that I was trying very hard; I could come up with plenty if I tried, but none were at the tip of my tongue.  Why not?  There's gotta be something very wrong about that, but I don't know exactly what.)
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 12:52:42 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #192 on: October 08, 2012, 10:54:09 PM »
Here are some things I would like everyone to understand.  I only know any of this because I learned it from others; not a word of it comes from me, if any of it is true.  If it came from me, it would probably be false.

Everyone who hears about Christianity is free to choose whether to believe it or not, but no one gets a third option; there are only two.

People who choose not to believe have often been told that they would go to hell as a result.  This is a human misunderstanding, a very common and natural one.  Understand me clearly:  there is a hell, and everyone who hears about Christianity and chooses not to believe in it goes to hell.  But the choice that people have to make is not between going to heaven or going to hell; those are relatively inconsequential side effects.

Never mind the afterlife; fuck it, who cares?  You're alive right now, if you're reading this.  I'm alive right now as I write this.  You have a present life to live, as do I.  Let's talk about that.

The choice you and I have to make is between the following two options.

1. You can make your own decisions about how to live.  Or,

2. You can live according to Christianity.

You may recognize these alternatives as the familiar ones you've heard, and you probably know that many Christians -- correctly, but unfortunately -- will tell you that option 2 leads to an afterlife in heaven, and option 1 in hell.  Try to set that aside for the moment, even though it's true.  Listen:  relatively speaking, that's not important.

Heaven and hell are real, but they do not fucking matter.  I am a Christian who has heard about what does matter; let me tell you what I've heard.

If you choose option 1 above, you will live the rest of your life enjoying many, many things.  There will be much pleasure and much pain.  Whether you end up with more pleasure or more pain is something I can't predict, and neither can you, probably.  (Unless you're already on your deathbed or something, there's a lot of time ahead of you, so it's hard to predict how most of it will be spent.)  But this much is certain:  you will enjoy yourself a lot, and you will suffer a lot -- not necessarily in that order -- and then you will die.  That's all.  Never mind what happens after that; it's not important, really.

If you choose option 2 above, your life will go something like this.  You will start to learn how to live according to Christianity, and if you learn the truth about it -- and you will, as long as you make any sincere effort to do so -- your life will slowly change into something totally different from how it is now.  You will feel differently.  You will behave differently.  You will think differently.  It will all be so different that it will seem like a totally different life, as if you've reset things altogether.  It may seem that way many times, as you learn more and change more.  You will keep changing, again and again and again. 

There will still be much pleasure, and there will still be much pain.  Sometimes there will be so much pleasure that it will astonish you (that happens under option 1 also sometimes).  Sometimes there will be so much pain that you will think you can't stand it, but you can (and again, ditto for option 1). 

Then you, too, will die.  Never mind what happens after that; it's not important, really.

Notice that option 1 and option 2 have most features in common, especially if you ignore the afterlife parts (and you should, because they aren't really important).

The real difference between 1 and 2 is something like this.  2 is a good life, a wonderful life, and you will see that clearly sometimes.  1 is not, even though many people never see that or feel that way.  It's understandable; it's the only life they know, and it's got lots of good stuff in it, so they think it's a good life.  It's not. 

Who says it's not?  Jesus said it's not.  He said that option 2 is a good life, the only good life, and anyone can have it, very easily and immediately.  Whether you believe him or not will determine whether or not you have a good life.

It's very hard to talk about these things these days.  But I think there are absolutely no things in life that are more important for anyone to know; not even close.  Fuck the afterlife, fuck morality, fuck everything else, and yes, FUCK everything else; I use the expletive because there's no other way to get enough emphasis.  That's how unimportant everything else is, compared to the decision you and I each get to make, between option 1 and 2.

I chose 2, by the way.  Here's something quite interesting.  There are many people who go through their whole lives claiming to have chosen 2, when in fact they chose 1.  I'll go even farther than that, I think.  Most of the people who say they chose 2 actually chose 1.  Some of them are lying about it on purpose, but most of them are either confused about the choices or else have deliberately fooled themselves.

Throw a rock in the air and you'll hit a Christian who behaves like an asshole.  If you want to figure out whether someone has chosen 1 or 2, well, unfortunately, you can't.  No one can except that person and God.  It doesn't matter what that person tells anyone.  If you look at how the person behaves, you will get a much better indication of which option they chose -- much better than simply listening to their verbal claims about themselves -- but even looking at their behavior will not give you a definite indication.  There are people who say they chose 2 and even act like they chose 2 and still chose 1, but only they themselves and God will ever know that, at least in this lifetime.  That's just how it is.

Thanks for reading. 
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 10:55:48 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #193 on: October 10, 2012, 01:50:44 AM »
@ Starlequin

Hi Star.  I've written several replies to your last post, but they didn't quite work for me.  I'm still going to get one up here soon.  You aren't expected to read all this other shit, of course, unless you want to for whatever reason.  I'll mark the reply clearly like this, so you'll see it, I hope.  :)  Thanks again for being amazingly patient.









(different time from above)

I'm typing this document while I'm high enough to believe that I understand the nature of reality.  I believe I understand that even when I'm not high, too, but right now as I type this, I'm high.

Maybe I should put this into my E blog.  I've been trying to be totally self-exposing and transparent in that blog, and naturally I've started by going straight to the least attractive things about me, because once you've shared those with a person, then everything else seems relatively easy.

I've already told people in my E blog that I get high sometimes and without regret or shame.  I was probably not being totally honest about having no shame about it, because I'm troubled with negative feelings like that almost all the time ... Maybe not now though.  No, right now, I suppose -- it seems, it feels like -- I'm feeling nothing negative whatsoever.

I'm going to try to describe the nature of reality.  I'll be curious to see if I can describe it in this state.  I think I've already described it in the blog -- just yesterday, I think? -- while I haven't been high.

I don't usually write while I'm high, either.  I don't get high regularly.  I've been high fewer than 50 times in my life, I think.  Nowadays it's once every few days or maybe every couple weeks?  It's hard to guess at the moment, perhaps because I'm high.

Here is the nature of reality.

If you're alive right now, you probably have many good things to look forward to in the rest of your life.  That is true whether or not you believe Christianity; non-Christians are just as deserving of good things, and some are probably given just as many good things as certain Christians are during their physical lifetimes.

Both non-Christians and Christians die.  Their physical body dies.  Their consciousness, which exists as a spirit, never dies.  It moves on to something else.

Christians move on to being with God.  We call that "heaven."  That's the only important thing to know about it -- nothing about clouds and angels and wings.  Just that Christians are with God then, in the afterlife.

[Christians are with God now, in the present life, too.  True Christians only, and only God and each individual can tell for sure who is truly Christian and who is not.  I am.  (Are you?  It doesn't matter what you tell me or anyone else.  You and God know the truth, and that's what matters.)  This is why I say that I am in heaven in a certain sense already, because I am with God -- every true Christian is -- and that's the defining characteristic, the most important thing, about being in heaven.  (The way most Christians describe this comes from the Bible, when Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit comes to live within the hearts of each and every true Christian during their physical lifetimes -- or words to that effect, that's the modern Christian church description of it.  In other words, God's Spirit, one part of the trinity which makes up God, lives in the same body or same heart as the Christian's spirit, so the Christian can be said to be "with" God already -- in spirit, although not in body, not physically.  That happens after death, when the current body dies, and Christians are given new bodies and get to be physically with God.)]

Non-Christians are not with God when they die, so they just die.  That and that alone is what we call hell.  (You're already in it, in a sense, if you aren't a Christian.  Read on.)

Many Christians are afraid to mention hell to anyone who isn't already a Christian.  Many Christians claim to not believe in hell, even though the existence of a state of hell is a core teaching of Christianity (that state defined as the state of being without God).

Non-Christians are without God already.  So were all the Christians, before they became Christians, and yes, for Pete's sake, no one is born a fucking Christian, ever.  Being a Christian means believing in Jesus; babies don't know who Jesus is, obviously.  If you're an adult, you get to choose to believe or not.  Kids are exempt because they're too little to understand the truth about reality.  (This is all core teachings of Christianity, not some crap I'm making up.  Ask any trustworthy Christian minister, they'll confirm the substance of all of this, although they may quibble with my choice of terminology, which is sometimes slightly unusual compared to the stereotypical churchspeak employed by most Christians.)

That's all, folks.  Welcome to reality.  That was the end of the description.  Thanks for reading.

No wait, I should add something.  Yesterday or whenever my last blog post was, I mentioned how Christians get to live wonderful lives right now, already, and non-Christians don't, even though many think they do.  They think they do probably because there are many good things in their lives.  Having many good things in your life is not what it means to be truly happy and to have a good life.  In other words, becoming a Christian completely transforms each person's life, starting immediately, and it transforms into a wonderful, good life.  By definition, guaranteed.  It's important to emphasize the immediate results because they're much more important right now; the afterlife results don't matter right now, because we're still alive.







I'm not as high now, but I'm nowhere near sober.

This whole blog thing has been an amazing experience.  I'm glad I did it.  I'm hugely grateful to all the people who have read anything in this blog, because having the audience was a necessary part of it for me.

Today's is yet another post that I can't figure out why I'm posting.  Who would want to read any of this?  Nobody probably.  Do I think that anyone who reads any part of this blog is going to believe anything I've said about Christianity or anything else?  Of course I don't.  It's not a zero-percent chance, but it's close.  I knew that before I started the blog, and that's always been okay with me.  Although it's been confusing too.  Why am I doing this blog again?  I never have figured it out.  Maybe I'll know someday, probably after I've stopped.  Maybe I'll never know.  (Heh, add it to the list!)

Today was yet another of the astonishing number of days I've had over the past year or two during which I felt convinced that it was probably the best day of my life thus far.  It felt that good.  Which was the best day of my life, really?  Who knows or cares.  It felt good enough to be in the running for the top, that's for sure.

Oh, and it was that good of a day long before I got high.  Hours before.  Before I even decided whether or not to get high today.  Who cares?  I don't know.

Today's post is here because I'm trying to follow impulses without questioning them too much.  That effort is at least part of why I've had so many amazing days in the last couple years, so I'm planning to keep it up.  :)

Uh, what else.  Oh.








I'm trying to start another group RP.  You should join, you person, you.  :)









Time for food.  Bye!












You just think I'm bat-shit insane, don't you?  :)  That's what I would think if I just read this blog, instead of writing it.  You're probably right.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 01:59:56 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #194 on: October 11, 2012, 01:39:01 AM »
Alright, grok this.  Life is this simple.  This world and my life and your life have certain bad things in them that seem so bad that nothing we can think of could make up for them.  Do you know anything so good that it can make up for the torture and murder of a child?  You don't.  Neither do I.  That's because there isn't anything in this world or in my life or in your life that is so good that it can make up for such an unspeakably terrible thing.

One of the Brothers Karamazov put it to another of them.  You may remember their names; I should but I'm beyond awful with names.  One of the Brothers K was big on Christianity, so his brother sits down with him and says, alright, look:  children suffer and die.  It has happened; it happens; it will happen.  How do you respond to that?

This is the biggest question of all, once you grow the fuck up and stop wasting your time with stupid shit.  (Most people waste their whole lives with stupid shit.  Don't be like that.  No one needs to be like that, but most people are.)

One brother says to the other something like the following.  (If you want to look it up, it's in the section just before "The Grand Inquisitor," which is the most widely known excerpt from the book.)  Let's say there is a God who is able to give everyone all the freedom in the world to do whatever they want forever.  One who can redeem all the suffering in the world, make everyone happy forever or give everyone whatever they want forever. 

Now let's say that according to this God, the price for all of that good stuff to happen is that just one child needs to suffer and die.  Only one, and then everybody else is great forever.

This brother says that is basically why he rejects Christianity, because it's that kind of moral exchange that is proposed by Christianity, when you get right down to it, and he isn't wrong, really.  Some people get everything, but a few people get a really terrible thing.  How fucking fair is that?  What kind of sicko would conceive of such a universe or dare to suggest that such a situation is acceptable or fair?

The only response in the book (as I recall; obviously I don't know shit about that book, I can't even remember the major characters' names) is the Grand Inquisitor story, which besides being a literary masterpiece is a chilling and profound comment upon the nature and cost of freedom.

Boiled down to its essence, the conclusion as far as I can tell is something like this.  If there is a God, then he has decided that in order for any human being to be free, some human being must suffer terribly.  And this is precisely what Christianity says is the case, that all people are free, and some of them end up in a terrible state.  (Oh, except, and this is important, come to think of it, Christianity claims that God didn't decide that things should be that way; for unknown reasons, he left the decision up to you and me, and guess what, we decided things should be that way.)

Can you have the freedom without the suffering?  I don't know.  The Grand Inquisitor story is way deeper than I've ever been able to parse successfully.  I know the traditional interpretations of it, but there's way more to that piece of fiction than can be neatly summarized by any fucking English professor, in my opinion.

Christianity proposes that there is one and exactly one and only one thing so wonderful and great that it really is bigger than all the awfulness in my life, and your life, and in the whole wide world, in all of human history.  Add up all the genocides and atrocities and all the human misery down through the ages, and toss in whatever grief and unhappiness you yourself have experienced, and you get a big horrible pile of horror.  There's only one thing that can make up for that.

It sounds like I'm being overly cynical or even suicidal whenever I say this, but I'm not actually suicidal, it's just how I see things:  if you look hard enough at the horror in the world and/or the horror in any person's life, it's just too horrible to tolerate for even one second.  Everybody tolerates it, except for the people who kill themselves, I guess.  I honestly don't understand how everybody tolerates it.

All I know is how I tolerate it.  I tolerate it by not tolerating it.  If I couldn't do that, let me be totally honest with you:  I would not kill myself (because as far as I can tell -- and I've had many opportunities to give it plenty of thought -- I am not capable of killing myself.  I've never even tried, not a single time.  What I have done is wanted to be dead.  I've done a lot of that during some of the worst periods of depression that I've had.  Not in a long time, thankfully), but I would want to be dead.  Even though I'm not in that headspace at the moment, it is still the only conception of reality that really makes sense to me:  life is intolerable, utterly wretched, except for the one thing that makes everything wonderful.

The one thing is Jesus, and I hang onto him for dear life.

...

I'm a big fan of logic.  Big, big fan.  I study it.  I admire it.  I practice it.  Is there any more logical response to life than that?  Well, I haven't found one, personally.  That isn't a response to life that is strictly in good keeping with logic; it's partly based upon emotion, too.  And I know and will readily concede that the best logicians can and do shred the logic of Christianity.

What no one has done yet, and no one will ever do, is prove Christianity is false.  It could be true.  As long as that is the case, I can choose to believe it and still be a big, big fan of logic.  Because there are ways of reconciling logic with Christian beliefs, up to a certain extent, and I've spent time studying the tipping points -- the most problematic areas -- carefully.

...

I'm learning to do certain things for myself that I used to do because I thought it might have benefits for others somehow someday.  Writing is one of those things.  Playing music is another.

...

Laugh if you want -- perhaps you should -- but when I'm high (I'm not right now), I've been able to picture with unusual clarity this fact:  there is something in my future that will make everything else that happened before it not matter at all, because it's going to be that wonderful, and as a matter of fact, I've got that thing already, right now.  For the time being, though, I can't always see what I already have.  There are complications and barriers to clear vision.  But those complications and barriers are going to fall away soon.  I say "soon" because no matter when it happens, once it happens, the wait will no longer mean a damn thing; nothing else will mean a damn thing, except the wonderfulness.

If you're reading this, there's someone with you right now who wants to drop into your lap the same wonderfulness that I've already received, but no one is going to force it upon you, ever, and I realize that most people who read any of this will laugh and think badly of me.  I gotta say certain things, mostly for my own sake of having said them, I guess.  Thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 01:49:53 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #195 on: October 11, 2012, 04:34:23 AM »
You and I are nothing more and nothing less than a song being played by God.

When you read the previous sentence, you understood it to mean the following:

You and I are like a song being played by God.

But that's not what I said, nor what I intended to say.  I said what I meant.  In other words, it's not a metaphor; I'm being literal.

You and I are nothing more and nothing less than a song being played by God.

... and what a beautiful song it is ...

(I heard my own song today, for the first time?  Maybe or maybe not for the first time.  It was beautiful.  Yours is too, of course; your song, I mean.  God is playing me and playing you right now as you read this ... playing your neurotransmitters, your ankle joints, the air escaping your nostrils.  He's playing your mind with thoughts.

I'm either learning something very interesting right now or else going insane.  hehehehehehe



Listen carefully.  You are a beautiful song already, and God is playing you.  Now, I want to tell you something I've learned. 

God would like to extend your song and make it more complex.  It's already a symphony, but he wants to add instruments and other things that will make the song more beautiful than any song you or I have ever heard.

Now here's the catch.

You may like your song -- your life -- already; I hope you do.  You ought to, because it's a beautiful song and life.  Yeah, hell, of course you ought to love your life already; it's a goddamn masterpiece crafted by God's own hands.  Your hands have shaped the song and the life also, but all the good parts came from God's hands shaping you, and there are way more of those compared to the little parts you tried to shape and kind of messed up. ...

Hmm ... Now we're getting into actual metaphors, of course.  But let's modify the metaphor and expand it; let's do a little allegory, or parable, if you like.  :)



Picture a very young child listening to a gifted guitarist play a song.  Naturally, the child is delighted and thrilled and mystified and captivated by the mysterious and beautiful sounds.  Now, the guitarist is busy playing his beautiful song, and the child is free to wander about, and everything is wonderful, but then the child gets an urge to see what that sound is all about.  "What's that man doing?  Where is the sound coming from?  It seems to come out of the object he's handling.  Maybe if I handle the object, I too can make a similar sound."  The child tries.  What happens?

The child ruins the song.

The child doesn't know how to play a guitar, duh.  He walks up and starts touching the instrument and the strings, and suddenly there are bad notes sounding.  The song was perfect before, but now it is imperfect; it is ruined.

The child even realizes this; he notices that the mysterious and beautiful sounds are suddenly discordant and unpleasant.  He may realize that it's his fault, that he messed something up by touching the object, but now it's too late; the song is ruined, because it is no longer perfect.  Of course the guitarist can start over again, but the previous song is what it was -- ruined.

The guitarist and child are inside a recording studio, and recording equipment was running all along, so a recording was made of the ruined song.

The guitarist is God, of course.  The song is the universe, God's creation.  The child is humanity, human beings.  The recording equipment represents Time.

The guitarist is very clever, though.  He saw exactly what the child did, the whole time.  He even realized that the child was about to ruin the song by touching the strings.  But for some reason, the guitarist didn't want to stop it from happening, even though he could have done so, very easily.  You know, he could have stood up and turned his back to the child so that it could no longer reach the strings, and then he could have finished the song perfectly on his own, without the child messing things up.  He didn't want to do that.  Why not?  Because he loves the child, and he could handle the situation any way he wants, so he lets the song be ruined.  He can start a new song any time he wants to.

And that's what he does.  He starts a new song.  Now see how fucking clever the guitarist is.  He figures out that the child wanted to contribute to the song, so he figures out a way for the child to do exactly that without even ruining the new song.  Here is his ingenious solution:  he gives the child a simple percussion toy, so simple that the child doesn't even need to keep the rhythm going perfectly, because the child is so small that he can't make even a steady, perfect rhythm.  This ingenious guitarist grabs a set of foot chimes and sets it in front of the child.  The chimes make a beautiful sound any time they are touched, just like a set of wind chimes, and it doesn't matter how they are touched -- the sound is not rhythmic but is still beautiful enough to become a part of this new and perfect song.  Bam.  The guitarist and child play a new song together, and it is beautiful and perfect, and the child and guitarist are very happy.

Now imagine there were two children, not just one.  The children do everything together, so they collaborate on the entire routine described above; they both walk up to the guitarist and ruin his first song simultaneously, by both touching the strings.  Again, he lets them; his alternative would be to forbid his own children from walking up to him and touching the instrument.  The children are so small that they would interpret that treatment as if they were being punished; they would cry, because their guitarist (who is also their father; did I mention that?) their guitarist father wouldn't even let them touch his guitar while he was playing it.  They are so small that they wouldn't have any idea why they were not allowed to touch the guitar, only that their father was forbidding them from doing something they wanted to do, so they feel punished and hurt for no apparent reason.  That would make even their father unhappy, to see his children crying and feeling punished like that, without being able to even understand the reason for his actions.

He happily lets the children ruin the first song, realizing that he can fix it all anyway, by restarting the recording and giving the children the foot chimes to play with.  It's all good, no real harm done.

The first child is happy to play along, now that he has the pleasant-sounding foot chimes to play with, so he and his father can make this new and perfect, beautiful song together.

The second child is invited to play along also.  But ...

This child doesn't want to play with any fucking crappy foot chimes that he can actually handle, he thinks he ought to be able to touch the guitar instead.  The father tries to explain the situation, and this child is even old enough to grasp the father's explanation, but he doesn't fucking care.  He's a child who wants to play with one particular toy -- the guitar -- and doesn't want to take no for an answer. 

What can the parent do with this child? 

Should the father force this child to play the chimes?  He could do that, if he tried hard enough; threaten the child with punishment if he doesn't play along.  But the parent loves the child.  If he forces the child, both the child and parent will be unhappy, because it's forced participation.

Instead the father makes a very difficult decision.  He decides to let the child make up its own mind, even if the child chooses to go sit in the corner and just sulk unhappily.

The father and the first child proceed to play their happy song together.  The first child motions to the second child to join in with the play; it's fun, and he's missing out on it!  Come make beautiful music with us! 

This first child couldn't force the second child to participate even if he wanted to.  He's not big or strong enough to be capable of forcing the second child.  Perhaps the first child wonders and thinks, I wish Daddy would just force my sibling to participate, because then we'd all be happy together, making beautiful music.  Only the father is mature enough to understand how important it is to let the second child make up its own mind.

Thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 04:39:46 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #196 on: October 13, 2012, 02:10:11 AM »
Phancy Philosophizin', Take Phour

Today we get around to overdue business with


@ Starlequin


but first let's review the dramatic doin's thus far, "for those who came in late ..." 

A while back (longer back than I can believe, geez), I proposed to Star that rather than continuing with the one-sided description of my Christian beliefs which I had previously undertaken, we attempt to accomplish that same goal in the course of a dialog about each other's beliefs.  Thus far, said dialog has proceeded thusly -- my questions to Star:

Quote
So -- it occurred to me today that since we're going to talk about very big, broad, gigantic philosophical topics, maybe a good way to start out is to start at the very opposite end:  to talk about very teeny weeny topics, and then build to larger things.  So my first question to you is very simple:  what do you believe?  Phrased differently:  what do you believe in?  Another way of putting it:  what don't you believe, or believe in?  And, second question, why or why not?  You can answer any of that in whatever way occurs to you, and then we'll see where we go next.

And his detailed response, in which he points out how broad and vast my questions were, which point I concede, admitting that I could have done a better job with that, but he got along quite nicely even with the imprecise queries, as you're about to see:

Alright, let's just dive right in.

Question 1: 'What do you believe?'

Well, for starting out with a small topic you certainly opened with a broad question, lol. I'm sure this won't be as condensed or as eloquent as I'd like it to be, so I'll just start with a few bullet points.

-I believe that the universe and everything in it can be described through natural, physical, rational means. If it absolutely, positively cannot under any circumstances be understood through natural means, then the probability of its physical existence approaches zero.

-I believe that there may or may not exist something that we might call 'magic', but if it does exist it is still accessible, describable and understandable via the scientific method, even if human minds are not currently or ever capable of achieving this understanding. Basically, Clarke's Law: Any sufficiently advanced (or complex) technology (or process) is indistinguishable from magic.

-I believe that science has provided an excellent starting point for us to understand the natural beginnings of our universe, the formation of our solar system and planet, and the beginnings of life and the evolution of that life into its current population model via the mechanism of natural selection.

-I believe there is no inherent or mandatory purpose to life, and that if any entity desires a purpose it must form that purpose for itself.

-I believe life has probably generated elsewhere in the universe during its vast history due to the sheer number of star systems currently observable and estimable by scientists; whether any of those lifeforms have evolved in similar manner to homo sapiens or have developed any form of culture or civilization capable of communicating or interacting with humanity is unknown, but not inherently unknowable.

-I believe human beings, by virtue of our biology as well as our capacity for complex thought and communication, are or can become capable of what we would largely consider extraordinary actions (i.e. utilizing adrenal and muscular systems to move or lift several hundred pounds during emergencies (such as parents lifting cars off of their children), subconsciously communicating with our immune systems and/or cellular structures to increase the body's resilience against injury or disease (sudden, inexplicable remissions of cancer, Shaolin monks' demonstrations of 'iron shirt' or 'chi' techniques, etc) or processing information / reacting to environmental stimuli seemingly instantaneously (eidetic memory, the almost superhuman reflexes of soldiers or athletes, etc)).

-I believe that the possibility of infinite, multiple universes as posited by the theory of quantum mechanics is at the very least a damn nice idea, if for no other reason than that it means that somewhere in another universe, there's a version of me that gets to have sex with Emma Watson, Keira Knightley and Rachel Leigh Cook together every night.

Question 1, rephrased: 'What do you believe in?'

-I believe in myself. I believe in my ability to solve problems through analysis, determination, and action. I believe in my capacity to learn, to understand and to communicate. I believe in my creativity and imagination, and I believe I can use those qualities to benefit myself and those around me.

-I believe in the love that I have for those I care about, and my desire to see them healthy and happy.

-I believe in the capacity of human beings to show empathy, compassion, courage and kindness to their fellow humans, as well as to other animals.

-I believe in humanity's capacity for problem solving, and that there is nothing within the realm of possibility we could not accomplish if enough of us work together.

-I believe in doing the right thing for no reason other than it is the right thing to do, and we can know what the right thing to do is by using our intellectual and emotional judgement and determining which actions will grant the most benefit while causing the least harm to the most individuals, accounting for such variables as how happy or unhappy, safe or unsafe, pleasurable or painful, etc. said actions will make ourselves and others, the intrinsic / external values and worths applied to all individuals who will be affected by each outcome, etc., etc.

Question 1, alternate perspective: 'What don't you believe/in?'

-I don't believe religion or pseudoscience can explain things that real science can't.

-I don't believe the Talmud, the Bible, the Koran, or any other so-called 'holy' book is an accurate representation of either history or the will or thoughts of any supreme creator or higher being.

-I don't believe 'faith' is an adequate explanation for matters or concepts I don't understand.

-I don't believe we exist according to the will, whim or mercy of a supernatural being whose motivations and abilities are incomprehensible to us.

-I don't believe any crime can possibly merit infinite punishment.

I'm going to stop there on Question 1, since I feel that's a good start to work from and hope you agree. As for Question 2 (Why, or why not?), I will forego the bullet point format and simply say that I have a deep appreciation for logic, reason, evidence and proof, because such things have proven to me to be valuable in dealing with the events of my life, and my life experience has taught me that the above statements provide an accurate and reliable framework in which I can view and interact with reality.

And now, like a World Air Hockey Champion, I will return your initial serve and ask you the same questions. What, exactly, do you believe and not believe, what do you believe and not believe in, why, and why not? Obviously feel free to snag my format or compose your own, take as much time as you feel you need, if any readers are out there waiting with bated breath I recommend you go pop a little Orville Reddenbacher, kick back and relax, and I look forward to your replies.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the latest installment of our riveting tete-a-tete.  Please hold the applause until we conclude.  ;)

In terms of explaining my beliefs and their reasons, I've learned now from making several failed attempts that it may take me more than one sitting to get through all of that.  It isn't a huge amount of reading, but it takes a good number of paragraphs, and I'd like to get a few other things accomplished first.

Let me share my response to what you've written above, which is that I'm humbled and deeply appreciative for the effort you took to go into such detail, and I have great admiration for the things you believe, many of which I share in -- especially and perhaps foremost, the high value you place on "logic, reason, evidence and proof."  I also aspire to put the same emphasis you do on taking personal responsibility for my behavior and treating my loved ones and acquaintances well.

I understand that it may sound like a lot of bollocks for me to claim that logic and evidence matter so much to me, when I have frequently claimed exactly otherwise with regard to certain of my beliefs.  I hope I made clear on those occasions that my recognition of the inherent limitations of human reason was based upon many years of tackling practical philosophical problems using the most rigorous logic I could come up with.  For me at least, I only learned how and when logic fails by testing it firsthand and suffering the consequences of its failure again and again.  In other words, my disavowal of logic in certain crucial instances is itself a carefully considered decision based upon fairly complex reasoning and many years of personal experience.

In many ways, this whole blog (minus a few bits here and there, about music and politics and such) has turned into a protracted explanation of my personal beliefs and the reasons for them -- described repetitively, in detail, and perhaps ad nauseam.  Any person studying this blog closely would learn more about the inner workings of my head and heart than any of my closest loved ones know -- not that I'm recommending anyone make that attempt, especially since the blog entries are often carelessly crafted and hideously long.

Star, I think you've made the same mistake that every sensible adult who rejects Christianity makes, and it's an enormously admirable sort of mistake -- it's one that most of the people I look up to in this world also seem to have made, however contradictory that may sound for me to say that.  You've reached the most logical conclusion that anyone could about Christianity, which is that its claims about reality are false, perhaps dangerously and offensively so.  Most of the people I look up to -- not all, but the vast majority -- are non-Christians, usually ones with enough education and intelligence to feel the same way you do about Christianity.  It's a perspective I have so much sympathy for that I'm constantly striving to understand it better by discussing it with others, and for myself, I've only been able to accept Christianity by closely scrutinizing exactly how and why it contradicts more logical and more popular alternative perspectives.

Much of this blog has contained the conclusions I've drawn about how and why Christianity makes more sense to me personally than any alternative, including the one you have chosen, Star, and the ones that most other people choose.  It's frustrating and astonishing to me to see how you've managed to avoid so many of the philosophical pitfalls that ensnare less thoughtful or less-educated people -- hell, you've got a better head on your shoulders and a better sense of personal responsibility than most people who agree with my Christian beliefs! -- and yet you've somehow convinced yourself of the greatest falsehood of them all, the most important and damaging and life-altering falsehood anyone can believe, namely, that Christianity is false.  I couldn't disagree more strongly or lament your mistake more deeply, as I lament the same mistake when so many others make it -- including many of my dearest loved ones, past and present.

I'm quite capable of describing in detail the core dogma that comprises true Christianity, and those are the principles which I'm convinced tell the one and only truth about the nature of reality.  Christianity is not as incompatible with science and logic as others would have you believe, Star, but it's also not totally consistent with known scientific principles or rigorous-enough logic.  I accept it in spite of that fact, whereas most other Christians I've met go out of their way to argue that science and logic complement their beliefs rather than contradict them.  I agree with a few of their arguments and totally reject others.  In fact my rejection of certain arguments made by Christians is so complete and carefully considered that it's much easier for me to deride the illogical views of under-educated Christians than it is for me to explain just how and when their views are correct and are in keeping with my own views.

Doing this blog has helped me a lot in working out my thoughts and feelings towards both non-Christians and towards other Christians.  I still feel far more sympathy and greater comfort in relating to non-Christians than Christians; the former still seem more sensible, reasonable, and even more compassionate and humane than the latter, and that's a mark of shame that I hang on the entire body of modern Christianity collectively -- in fact I see myself as sharing responsibility for that failure in my own small but significant way, and I yearn to remedy that oversight as best as I am able in my personal dealings with others.  I can't make up for the misbehavior of two thousand years' worth of violent, bigoted assholes, but I can be wary and vigilant over my own tendency to look down on others or mistreat others, and I can apologize and own up to my own assholic behavior whenever I recognize it.

I suspect my language and rhetoric in this post has been unusually dense and perhaps exceedingly obtuse, and if it comes across as unclear, I'm sorry for that.  These are difficult enough subjects for me to talk about that I've literally scrapped nearly half a dozen prior attempts to write this reply to your last post, Star.  :)  Not that I didn't enjoy and learn from those botched efforts.  Whether this latest attempt is any clearer or more illuminating than the scrapped ones, I really can't say!

I've known for quite a while how I feel towards the vast majority of other Christians and what I have to say to them, which goes something like this:  you guys suck, big time, and I suck right alongside you.  All of us have done and continue to do a reprehensible job of living according to the very principles we espouse and the principles we are all too quick to preach to others, especially to those who disagree with us -- while many of those who disagree with us strongly are busy doing the real work of Christ in this world:  caring for one another and for those in our communities who are struggling or underprivileged in whatever way.  I'm ashamed of Christians everywhere, and I'm ashamed of myself too, for failing my loved ones so frequently, for turning my back on one person in need after another, for not living by the very values I espouse and promote by word if not deed.  Every day I pray and strive to do better, but it's never anywhere close to enough; all I can do is sustain and redouble my efforts, keep pushing myself, keep learning and listening to criticism and questioning my own actions, keep watching for my next failures and remedying them as best I can.

What I have to say to non-Christians (like you, Star, or like most of the readers of this blog, whoever may happen along) has become much clearer to me as I've written all these never-ending (heh), repetitive blog posts.  Let me see if I can summarize that and wrap this post up ...

If you're happy with the life you have, that's wonderful; make the most of it.  Enjoy the hell out of the good things all around you, and don't let anyone -- especially any stupid religious types, perhaps including me -- tell you that you don't deserve to have as much happiness as you can find.  If you feel the need to turn your back on Christianity, go ahead and do it, but don't stop looking for whatever truth you can find, wherever you can find it; and above all, don't settle for anything less than real happiness and real fulfillment.  You deserve those things; you can have those things; don't believe anyone who lies to you and says otherwise.  If Christianity is what I believe it is -- if it is the only real truth, the only source of real happiness in life, and the only good way for anyone to live -- then you will figure that out for yourself eventually, and you'll come back around to it someday.  There's nothing to be afraid of in exploring the alternatives.  Use your head, get educated; use your heart too -- at the end of the day, you've gotta trust your own gut, but also become as well-informed as you can about the most important things in life, and be as wary and suspicious of liars and manipulators and charlatans as you possibly can be. 

The Christian church is full of them, let me tell ya; I've been around plenty, and hey, I've been one of them myself sometimes.  All I can tell you is that I've found Jesus to be just what he claimed to be:  the only trustworthy source of truth in this world, and the only one who can lead me into a genuine, happy life.  He is and can be and will be the same for you, if and when you let him, and I hope and pray you do, but be honest with yourself in the process -- use your wits and search your heart.  I believe he is real and alive and desperately wants to know you and guide you and bless you with gifts you cannot even begin to conceive.  He has done and is doing exactly that, with me; at the end of the day, apart from all the fancy rhetoric and argumentation, that's how I know that I've found the truth:  he has proved himself to me, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and he will do the very same for you -- if you let him.

Another day, another failed attempt to say things right!  Alas!  :)  That's the best I can do right now!  Thanks for being understanding.

About Christian dogma and core teachings ... Nah.  I ain't gonna put that here, not right now, and maybe not ever.  I think it would just be an invitation to disaster, a way to rub lots of people the wrong way.  There isn't much point to arguing about the logic or illogic of the core teachings, because they contain a truth that is superior to human logic and is sometimes at odds with the very best human logic.  If you (anyone reading any part of this blog) are seriously, personally considering Christianity as something you yourself might want to believe, maybe, then I would be thrilled to share with you what I know about the core teachings.  We could do it by PM, and I would try my best not to offend you or push you in any way, while at the same time being honest with you about what I personally believe is the truth.  Just claiming that there is such a thing as objective truth is considered by many intelligent people to be an inappropriate or even offensive thing to say, and I do believe Christianity is the single and objective and universal truth.

Hokay, that's more than more than enough for one day, huh?  Thanks for reading, Star -- sorry to put you through it, if it went badly or rubbed you wrong; I very much hope that I managed to convey my respect and affection towards you, which will remain high no matter how full of crap you probably still think that I am.  :)  And thanks for anybody else who waded through any of this. 
« Last Edit: October 13, 2012, 02:17:46 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #197 on: October 16, 2012, 02:33:31 PM »
@ Starlequin

Hey Star, by the way, assuming that you read that mammoth reply to you that I just did, you should not feel obligated to reply to it unless you want to.  Although I would be very interested in reading any responses you have, if you want to share any.  But no obligation, ever.  :)







It bugs the crap out of me that I've spent so much time in this blog talking about Christianity and so little time, relatively speaking, talking about all the other stuff I'm interested in.  It's true that Christianity is by far the most important thing in my life, but that certainly does not mean that all kinds of other things aren't important to me.  Maybe even some stuff you wouldn't expect.  Like sex, for example.  I like sex.  Why don't I talk about sex some?  No, wait, I'm probably not going to do that much, because, frankly, and sadly, I'm not having any sex these days.  (Weep for me.  It is to weep.)  But anyway, I like lotsa stuff, so let's see what I feel like talking about now.







I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming election.

Here's an article from The Atlantic by Conor Friedersdorf that people should read, especially if you're planning to vote for Obama, as I still am.  I learned about that article through a different thread at Elliquiy, this one, started by an Elliquian named errantwandering, to whom I am very grateful for exposing me to that article (just sayin', in case he happens by here, which probably won't happen, but just in case). 

If you're too lazy to read the article, well, that's a shame, because it's a highly thought-provoking piece, but I know what it's like being too lazy to read stuff, because reading is hard for me.  So here's what the article is about, in part (although you would get a lot more out of reading that article rather than reading my blog, and that's not to say I don't appreciate you reading my blog, but it's really a great article, is all.)  It's also a very upsetting article.

From reading that article and a few others (especially this one -- "The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama" by Tom Junod in Esquire, which covers similar topics to the Atlantic piece and is terribly well-written but also very long), I have learned some very disturbing things about Obama.  If I describe these things incorrectly, as I may, because I'm not at all knowledgeable about politics or global affairs, please feel free to correct me and teach me what you know, because I will appreciate that, sincerely.

I'm summarizing and paraphrasing a lot here, so I may totally misrepresent the content of those articles, but not intentionally.  It seems that Obama has basically decided that the best way to prevent a future terrorist attack on the United States is to authorize the targeted assassination of various individuals whom intelligence agencies claim pose a potential future threat to the United States.  Notice that many of these people have never done anything illegal, but they may have associated with others who have.  Notice that many of these people have done nothing more illegal than to say things in public about attacking the United States, which is certainly disconcerting to learn they've done, but does it justify their assassination?  I dunno.  Notice that some of these people are American citizens.  Notice that some of these people are children, meaning teenagers.  Notice that some of these people are teenagers who have never done or said anything illegal as far as anyone knows.

Notice also that these targeted assassinations performed by military drones in certain Middle East countries and especially in Pakistan have frequently ended up killing people who were not at all intentionally targeted for any reason whatsoever; some people, including women and children, have been assassinated by accident, simply because a target was nearby somewhere.  A few aid workers who went in to help people who had just been attacked were also killed or at least attacked, which means that everyone is afraid to help the victims of these attacks, even the totally innocent ones, and even after the attacks have happened, because no one knows when or why there might be follow-up attacks on the exact same site.

In short, as a result of this policy of targeted assassinations -- a policy which does have very limited but very active oversight from at least one branch of government (from Congress) other than the Executive branch, which seems to me to be a very important detail underemphasized in the articles above -- innocents have been wounded or killed, including women and children and aid workers, including American citizens, without anything resembling a trial.  Also entire communities of people in the targeted areas have been reduced to living in abject terror, fearful of letting their children go to school, fearful that they themselves could be targeted next for no good reason, since so many others have been targeted for no good reason.

Obama is not the first President to do these targeted assassinations -- Bush did them too -- but he has ramped up the killings big-time.  He has also made a concerted effort to keep this policy shift out of the public eye, off the radar of the media, although it has been reported upon in many trustworthy places.  (The media may or may not need to be actively discouraged in order to under-report a news development, since ratings-getting is often more important to the media than reporting of news-worthy topics that fail to get ratings.  Regardless, Obama has apparently done a much better job of squashing whistleblowing within his administration than any previous administration, including the recent Republican ones, who were frequently criticized for attacking whistleblowers).

Does any of that concern you or disturb you in the slightest?  I kind of hope it does, because it concerns and disturbs me a lot.  Since when does the United States do this sort of thing?  Since recently, it seems.  Is this policy worthy of more public scrutiny and perhaps debate or input than it has received?  I sure hope so.  These are human lives, including many innocent lives, being ruined or ended for the sake of American security -- to keep you and me safe.  If you take an ethical view anything like mine, then you feel personally responsible for any persons killed by representatives of our government, whether in wartime or not.  Oh yeah, notice that we aren't at war with any of the countries where much of the killing has taken place.

After mulling over all this upsetting info for a while, and after reading some criticism (one example) of the articles above, I realized that Obama has pursued this new policy of targeted assassination in part because the only alternatives to that policy might -- might -- be another war.  And although dozens or hundreds of innocents have been terrorized or murdered by drones, those numbers are paltry compared to the thousands or tens of thousands of innocent civilians who died in the last two wars and would almost certainly die in any future wars. 

Does that make it okay?  Oh man.  I have no fucking idea.  But it seems to me that war is the alternative that one must weigh this assassination policy against.

How the hell is the government supposed to keep Americans safe without violating civil liberties abroad and at home?  Somehow, in some way that I can't begin to get my head around, we haven't had anything like another terrorist incident in the U.S. since 9/11 that even begins to compare to that tragedy in terms of loss of life or disruption of society.  Everyone is grateful for that.  But there have been many mistakes in the U.S. response to global terror. 

Is Obama's drone policy another of those mistakes, or the worst mistake yet, one that may set precedents with terrifying future consequences?  I don't know. 

I do know that I wish this sort of serious issue was at the forefront of the media coverage of politics, instead of the kind of bullshit that is at the forefront of media coverage of politics.  The American Left and Right have very different trivialities that preoccupy them, but both sides have plenty of them -- the Left is at least as guilty as the Right, in my opinion, partly because they have even less excuse for it (plenty of uneducated constituents help to push the focus of the Right onto bullshit policies and topics, whereas the Left at least thinks of itself as having better priorities and being less susceptible to the whims of the ignorant).
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 02:41:01 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #198 on: October 16, 2012, 03:46:17 PM »
In my opinion, most people confuse correlation and causation all the time.

You know the difference, I hope?  Correlation means that two things happened at the same time, and although they may or may not have had an effect on each other, neither actually caused the other.  Causation means one thing causes a second thing to happen, so the second thing depends entirely on the first thing in order to happen.

One of the most basic parts of becoming well-educated is learning the difference between causation and correlation and then learning not to get them confused with each other, because most people do and then make bad decisions as a result.

Some people have no idea what the difference is, although most people understand the difference intuitively, even if they don't know the words or draw the distinction frequently in their daily lives.  That's a big problem, though.  If you don't draw the distinction frequently in your daily life -- if you don't train yourself to distinguish between causation and correlation -- then you are probably making lots of bad decisions as a result.  Part of becoming well-educated is learning not to make such common and disastrous mistakes.

But just because you've become somewhat well-educated does not guarantee that you won't still make mistakes sometimes, including mistakes which at other times you are able to avoid.  This happens a lot with causation and correlation.

For example, most people, including highly educated people who know the difference between causation and correlation and distinguish between the two routinely in order to avoid making bad decisions, disagree with the following belief of mine.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that we are taught and told in our society to disbelieve the following statement in order to have any shot at a good life.  I believe no one can cause himself or herself to either fail or succeed at anything important.

I also believe that it isn't very difficult at all to demonstrate the validity of that statement.  Find something important that one person succeeded at, and if you look hard enough, you will soon find a second person who seemed to do all the same things that the first person did, but the second person's efforts resulted in failure, whereas the first person's resulted in success.  In our society, we are taught to assume based upon the fact that any given effort succeeded that there was an identifiable cause for that success.  We even go so far as to do the same with failure; we are taught to assume based upon the fact that an effort failed that there was an identifiable cause for that failure.  The fact that so often we cannot correctly identify that cause in the case of our failures demonstrates the folly of this whole way of thinking; after all, we often repeat our mistakes, even after attempting to identify and attend to their causes.

I think people are instinctively terrified by the fact that no one can cause himself or herself to succeed at anything important, and we are so terrified that we go into denial about it, stubbornly so, and we even tell everyone else in our society to deny it too, as if our popular consensus will change the nature of reality.  It don't.  IMO.

Another reason some people are in denial about this fact of reality is because they are afraid that recognizing it will take away all their motivation to do anything.  If you can't cause yourself to succeed, then why try to do anything?  There are good reasons to try anyway, and better reasons than the ones most people use, but those reasons are considered foolish in our society.

I believe that the only way to succeed in life is to stop trying to succeed in life and instead to live for other reasons altogether, with different goals and different motivations.  When one pursues the right goals, the ones we are intended to pursue, then one ends up succeeding whenever one is really supposed to, and one also ends up failing whenever one is supposed to, and both success and failure become things to be thankful for; failure is no longer something to fear or even regret, but just another gift to appreciate and learn from, another step to an even greater success down the road.

I suppose it's not nice for me to have said just a little while ago that I wish I didn't talk so much in this blog about Christianity, and then here I go again talking about Christianity.  I have been talking about Christianity here -- didn't you notice?  No?  Oh well.  :)

I suppose it's folly for me to try to avoid talking about things that interest me and come across my mind, because that's the raison d'etre for this blog.  Still, if I continue posting to this blog (always a very big "if"), I hope I talk about a wider variety of things than I have in the past.  Why does that matter to me?  I suppose because I keep wanting people to find something worth reading in this blog, and I'm convinced that any time I talk about Christianity, no one will want to read it, because most people who read E blogs disagree with Christianity, or at the very least, they disagree with my extreme views on it. 

I fret so fucking much about how people will respond to anything and everything I do and think and say.  It's damn tiring -- exhausting even.  Can one teach oneself to do less of that by practicing saying things that people respond badly to?  Maybe that's part of my purpose in this blog.  But if so, I hope that isn't as negative a purpose as it sounds at first blush.  I dunno!  Woe.  :)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 03:51:43 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #199 on: October 19, 2012, 03:12:13 PM »
More overdue replying bizness ... Even more wall-o-text-y than usual ... No religion talk tho!  Yay right?  All music shit this time

I'd hate to think how long it's been since I made this offer, but a few decades or so ago I invited anyone who felt like it to tell me about a few of their favorite musical things, and I offered to respond to those things with comments and recommendations.  Happily, one person responded, and I'm just now getting around to replying back, but better late than never, I hope!

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Also, for your amusement, Rick, here's a quick top-5 list of my fave bands and artists, in no particular order (you could probably guess most of them just from talking to me, lol):

Hello again Starlequin, I hope my last lengthy post here addressed to you didn't repulse you so much that you've stopped checking this blog altogether, because then you'll never see these clever comments of mine, but then again, maybe someone else will ... or maybe I'll just amuse myself by writing them, even if nobody ever sees them!  That's probably the most sensible way to approach everything in E blogs, I reckon. 

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Aerosmith -- greatest thing to come out of Boston since...frankly, ever. WTF else do I know about Boston? I'm from Mississippi!

Aerosmith:  I don't consider myself a fan, but as with most bands whose music I've heard plenty of but whom I don't consider myself a fan of, there are many things I like and don't like about this band.  Likes:  they're really a great pop band masquerading as a rock and roll band.  What I mean by that is that they're all about hooks that you can shake yer booty to, and in that sense, they follow directly in the line of all the great pop-rock bands, from the Beatles and Stones on down.  They got sex appeal to spare, and that never seems to wane, even though they're all thousands of years old by now, hehehehe.  There aren't enough successful rock bands left, and I sure as hell wish there were lots more, so there's a lot to be thankful for that these guys have lasted for so long; there are fewer than five active rock bands in the world with their level of fame or success overall.  (I assume they're still active, because I heard that Tyler left his TV gig to go back to Aerosmith, but I don't keep up with them, so I may be out-of-date.)  Dislikes:  they're over-rated.  Actually, that criticism is really out of date by now, because it's no longer possible to be over-rated as a rock band, since all rock bands nowadays are impoverished and totally unappreciated compared to 10 or especially 20 or 30 years ago, and even Aerosmith has suffered along with everyone else as the music industry has gone down the pan.  However, back when Aerosmith had their biggest hits -- circa mid-80s to mid-90s -- they were outselling a whole lot of better bands who were active at the time, and I thought that was a shame.  Like I said, that's totally dated criticism; for all I know, Aerosmith might be the world's best remaining rock band in 2012, and if so, more power to 'em!  Recommendations:  make sure you've heard their early hits (before the mid-80s); they're much more raw and less pop-oriented and more rocking, and they're my personal favorite stuff in the band's catalog, at least from what I've heard.  Also, if you like Aerosmith's early hits, and if you aren't already a gigantic Led Zeppelin fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up at least one Zep hits CD and give it a few spins.  Led Zep were gods of rock, inimitable masters of the form, and IMO, Aerosmith pales in comparison, although almost everyone does, so that's hardly a strike against them.

I don't know nuthin' about Boston either, but one of my favorite bands came from there, I think -- a defunct and utterly unique band called Morphine, who should have sold more records than Aerosmith, IMO.  :)  But obviously the record-buying public disagrees strongly with that opinion, since few people ever even heard of Morphine, and who hasn't heard of Aerosmith?  C'est la vie.

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Dire Straits -- I have a sneaking suspicion that my life is somehow playing out according to their discography. I can remember at least five separate major events that occurred just before, during or after listening to one of their songs. So either I'm wrong, there actually is a god, and Mark Knopfler is it...or I just listen to way too fucking much DS. Frankly, I'm good either way.

Good for you!  Dire Straits is one of those bands whom I couldn't possibly respect more, because I think that highly of the small handful of their songs that I'm familiar with, but I also must confess that I've never heard most of their albums.  Someday I might.  I'm also madly in love with a few of Knopfler's largely-overlooked solo albums (haven't heard most of them yet either tho), not to mention that quirky wonderful thing he did called Notting Hillbillies.  Can't go wrong with that dude.  My biggest problem with him and with Dire Straits is that the music is sometimes so subtle and understated that it seems boring at first, when in fact it's rich with genius, but it requires close and careful attention to appreciate that genius.  Come to think of it, that's just the opposite of a band like Aerosmith, who are so in-your-face with all their best qualities -- giant hooks that grab you by the throat.  Knopfler is so sly that many people overlook his hooks altogether, to their misfortune.

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Nickelback -- Everywhere I look, it seems I see hardcore Nickelback hate. Even Maple-Syrupia, homeland of da band, appears to retch every time Chad stands within five feet of a stringed instrument. I don't know what to say, except: fuck y'all haters. I know the music can be derivative, some of the lyrics are cookie-cutter and for all I know the band may even be filled with assholes. But it's also good, dumb fun music, and I appreciate the messages of some of the songs, even if nobody else does.
Lacuna Coil -- I really don't know that much about this band; I listen to music, I don't stalk musicians. But the music is powerful, the lyrics are (to me) profound, and the vocals are hauntingly beautiful. Rather like another favorite band of mine, Evanescence.
Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts -- Anyone who's ever seen an episode of Cowboy Bebop knows the Seatbelts. The first band to ever make me admit I like jazz, and believe me that's no mean feat. My personal definition of 'smooth' (sad as that may or may not be).

Rock and roll has always been about "good, dumb fun," and it's very important to realize that every band that succeeds makes a valuable and worthwhile connection with certain people, and that's all to the good, even if other people hate on that band and/or its fans. 

That said, I also think it's perfectly fine for people to love one band and hate the crap out of another band, because music is relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things, so it's okay to love and hate stuff.  No matter how much I love music, and I certainly do, I try not to get it confused with much more important things, such as politics, ethics, philosophy, or the like -- anything having to do with the ways people live their lives and interact with each other.

So anyway, I hope it doesn't upset anyone too much to find out that Nickelback and Evanescence are among the many many groups whose music sticks in my craw.  That doesn't mean it should necessarily stick in anyone else's craw; to each his own; one of my best friends in the world is a big Nickelback fan.  The only reason I can't stand either band is because I know exactly which bands those two bands stole from in order to become successful.  This is a tradition as old as rock and roll, or more generally, as old as music or art or entertainment:  somebody thinks up a new style or sound that becomes successful, and then somebody else decides to imitate that style or sound almost exactly without adding anything new to it, and very often, the imitator becomes more successful than the originator.  Ask all the black musicians whom Elvis stole from, or all the successful black musicians back then who stole from their less-successful forebears.  The more you learn about the history of music (or art), the more you discover how different people stole from others.  It's not even a bad thing, necessarily, because eventually, those artists who start out stealing from others will eventually add something new to their sound or style, and that innovation may be truly valuable, and it might not have ever been possible if the artist didn't start out by ripping someone off.  This is certainly the case with many of the most popular artists who start out by ripping someone else off.  I'm a huge Elvis fan, and I'm also a huge fan of many other artists and groups who shamelessly appropriated the styles of other artists; sometimes I know exactly who they ripped off, and I just don't care, because they also added something new or interesting along the way; or other times -- and this happens so, so often with pop music -- I'll become a big fan of a group and then years later discover that they might have been ripping off a previous group completely, when all along I believed their creativity and genius was completely original to themselves.  Pop music is such an incestuous beast that it's nearly impossible to find an artist who didn't at least borrow things from other artists.

Now, having said all that, I think most people have had the following experience, if you spend a few years listening to pop music:  You fall in love with a new band which becomes somewhat popular, but not super-mega-popular; and then, a few months or years later, a second band turns up and shamelessly steals everything that was good about the first band's sound, style, songwriting, look, artwork, clothing, vocal style, guitar effects, down to the lead vocalist's hairstyle and shoe size; and then, lo and behold, that second band becomes super-mega-popular, so much so that almost nobody even remembers the first band or realizes that the second band didn't come up with all that great stuff themselves.

Back when the music industry was relatively healthy, this sort of thing used to happen all the time, like, every month or two.  Nickelback started out as a third- or fourth-generation imitator of the early-90s so-called "grunge" bands, and Evanescence built their sound by smooshing together the styles of two or three specific bands who were popular in the early-to-mid-90s.  Both bands probably added lots of original ideas and concepts to their sound eventually, if not initially, because that happens to any band that lasts for long enough:  they have to evolve in order to survive and stay relevant and fresh.  (Of course, there are some bands who pull that off by simply stealing the sound or style from other, different groups, just like they first did in order to become popular originally; it's a criticism you could level at lots of artists who have had very long careers in pop music.  I don't know enough about Nickelback or Evanescence to say whether they were serial rip-offs or just initial rip-offs.)

Anyway, I think that whole phenomenon of imitation versus influence is worth commenting upon because it's widely misunderstood and underappreciated.  Some people firmly believe, as Bono once quipped (probably stealing from someone else), that "every artist is a cannibal / every poet is a thief / all kill their inspiration / and sing about the grief".  Personally I think there's something awful about one artist deliberately imitating the sound of another artist in order to become commercially successful without adding anything new or different to that sound, but I'm not a purist about it, because I'm a fan of a few bands who did precisely that.  So, more power to ya, Nickelback and Evanescence fans; personally, I'm happy listening to the bands those bands borrowed from, but I can't look down my nose at you or anything.  :)

Wow I said a hell of a lot of stuff, huh?  Sorry if that bored anybody.  I love talking about music and have very strong and detailed opinions about it, partly because I think it's fun to develop strong opinions about things that are so trivial compared to all the really important issues in the world, issues which one must consider very carefully and seriously before reaching conclusions or forming opinions about, such as which political party to support or which philosophy to espouse.  Thank god we've got silly fun stuff like music and movies and RPing and books and sports and whatnot, stuff where we can let our hair down and opine freely and be jerks about stuff and rib each other about stuff without worrying too terribly much about hurting anyone's feelings or mistreating anybody in any serious way.  I know lots and lots and lots of people take music or movies or books or whatever so seriously that they can get their feelings hurt when other people disagree with their personal likes or dislikes in those fields, but I'm not like that, and I actually think it's a bit unhealthy to be too much like that; it's a sign of misplaced personal priorities, IMO, to elevate art or entertainment to such a level that one risks taking personal offense over another person's opinions in those areas.  But that's just my opinion!  You can and should disagree completely with me if you want to.  :)

Oh by the way, I know Lacuna Coil has been around for a very long time, so I respect them for that reason alone, although I don't recall ever hearing their music.  I'm probably a fan of at least one or two bands who do something similar to what they do, based on their reputation, at least, but I might be wrong about that.  Anyway, it's nice to have the recommendation; next time I have a chance to hear LC, I'll pay extra attention to them.  :)  Also I don't know the other band you mentioned at all, Star, the jazz group, although I love the heck out of jazz sometimes, even though I don't claim to understand it or know much about it at all. 

Oh finally, since I can't stop running my mouth, here's some recommendations based upon liking Nickelback or Evanescence.  NB built their sound originally on the grunge bands of the early 90s, and IMO, there were four big ones that embodied that sound, at least for the general public:  Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains.  I worship all four, and I also think that none of those bands really had much in common with each other, once you get past a few of their most superficial traits.  If you want a good introduction to what people consider "grunge," you can't do better than to pick up Pearl Jam's Ten or Nirvana's Nevermind, both of which were truly spectacular albums.  I personally like AIC slightly more than PJ, PJ slightly more than Nirvana, and Soundgarden more than all the other three combined, but I love them all to death, and I even love some of the less famous "grunge" bands, but I am a big hater of the second- and third- and fourth-generation imitators, because I'm such a big fan of the first wave.  The big problem in comparing Nickelback to those earlier bands is that NB took some superficial qualities from those bands and then grafted those things -- guitar sounds and production approaches, mostly -- onto a much different style of songwriting, one much closer to pop music of the 80s and 90s -- stuff that wasn't considered rock at all when it was first done.  As a result, Nickelback (and almost all the other later grunge bands) have a style that is much, much, much more instantly likable and instantly pleasing to the ear, because it's really built on pop music hooks and pop songwriting.  The first grunge bands, in contrast, were totally invested in highly unpopular and grating types of music, especially punk and ultra-raw 70s guitar rock; their songwriting and overall sound is not very instantly likable at all, in my opinion.  Then again, the early grunge bands brought a lot of real creativity and integrity and sincerity to their music, far moreso than any of their later imitators, in my opinion, so I for one find much more to like in the work of those early bands rather than the later ones, but I don't expect most people -- especially anyone just two or three years younger than me, or more -- to share those views of mine.  Pop music used to really transform itself and reinvent itself every two or three years, as soon as a whole new group of kids entered high school, so it was common for people to love whatever was popular for three or four years, and then suddenly not like the stuff that became popular right after that.  That tradition seems to have largely disappeared since the music industry hit the skids.  Oh, if you like Evanescence, you might like early Tori Amos or Nine Inch Nails (both of whom I adore), but again, neither of those earlier artists had a sound that was anywhere near as instantly pleasing or immediately gratifying as Evanescence, who grafted goth and industrial imagery and production approaches onto much more palatable pop songwriting, from what I could gather.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 03:34:31 PM by rick957 »