Saturday, August 30, 2014

What Cannot Be Without the Other Is the Other

Many years ago. Many, many, years ago, in fact, I sat in a lecture hall and listened to a very bright young professor of Philosophy, whom I shall call John Smith, largely because, believe it or not, John Smith was his actual name, expound upon the various themes in the branch of Philosophy known as Ethics. It was an introductory course, and I found it very, very interesting and threw myself into the study of the subject with a dizzying passion. After a few weeks of this, I felt myself becoming, smarter somehow, perhaps even wiser, as the ever-growing wealth of information passed through my fingers and beyond my eyes and seeped into my mind like a rich, green tea. After a few more weeks of near total immersion, the tea began to feel more like a thick, grayish soup that was starting to congeal in my brain, rather than the healthy and easily disgestible tea that I had enjoyed earlier.

My mind began to wander in class. I was perhaps nearing exhaustion, since at the time I was carrying a full course load, which included Spanish, Cultural Anthropology, English Literature of the 18th Century, American History, and Philosophy while working full-time at night as a Proofreader/Typesetter to support my wife, our child, Benjamin Franklin Keeperman, and myself. From out of nowhere, and for what purpose I do not recall, it came to my meandering mind that opposites do not occur in Reality, but rather they are illusions created by us to order “things” in a manner that gives us a sense of actually having the power to create such order out of what any reasonably sane person would believe was a chaotic existence.

I had been reading much at the time about right and wrong, good and evil, free will versus Determinism (although I think Determinism went by a different name in those old days. Was it Cause and Effect? I can’t recall). Anyway, I gave up a week or so of sleep, and in the very spare time I had after doing my required reading, studying, working, commuting, etc., I managed to put several hundreds of single-spaced lines with my old L.C. Smith typewriter on some cheap legal-size pulp paper and titled it: Hypothesis: What Cannot Be Without the Other is the Other. I handed the same to my friend, the Professor, (we really had become friends by that time, because I was the only one that partook of his Office Hours where he was generous enough to listen to me praise to the high heavens the philosophical genius of our Founding Fathers whom, next to Captain Marvel and Blackhawk, remained my childhood heroes.)

He returned the typed work to me after the following class meeting. I could see that he had read it carefully, because it was practically impossible to read what I had typed under the abundance of questions that he had raised and inscribed; sometimes adding a half-dozen or more comments for each sentence that I had written. Even a novice such as myself could see that all of these questions were legitimate, and I found that I couldn’t, given my state of apparent ignorance, answer even one of them coherently. At the bottom of the last page, however, he wrote the following: Well, to tell you the truth the paper is around here somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. Maybe it is with those other pulps, Captain Marvel and Blackhawk. If I find it I’ll add his exact remarks to this blogpost.

The gist of what Professor Smith wrote was this: “Sir, you would be doing I, yourself, and Philosophy an honor and a service if you would consider making Philosophy your major and consider me as a Mentor in the months and years to come.” Well, needless to say, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I realized quickly that all those questions that he had raised about my hypothesis, all those questions that matter, are what makes being a Philosopher tick. They thrive on asking questions. That is why I decided to stick with Literature. I just love answering the questions that matter. Even if I am dead wrong.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On a Clear Night

“I inquired of that ‘Learn’d Astronomer,’”

You know the one I mean,

“Now see here, bud--if I may be so bold--

That what with the universe expanding,
So rapidly and all, oughtn’t you get a bigger telescope,
To stand a decent chance in Hell of gettin’ a glimpse of God before He’s up and gone?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Now that universal anti-Semitism has again reared its inevitable head, and the bloodsport of scapegoating has clogged both the Cyberswamp and the genuine Ether with instantaneous reports--like Scoreboards--Palestinians 1153/Israelis 67--with everyone but [some?] Jews rooting for more Jewish casualties to justify the carnage, perhaps one should take a short time-out to recall that in his novel, The Haj, Leon Uris is as prophetic, at least, as William Blake, if not Elijah himself, and thoroughly puts Nostradamus to shame when in Part Two, Chapter Eleven, one of his Israeli characters, Gideon Asch, speaking in April, 1948 makes a couple of startling observations which follow. Amazingly, Uris penned these dialogues 30 years ago, in 1984.

"When you see Ben-Gurion, you'd better impress upon him that he has to dissolve and absorb the Irgun. If you continue to allow a private little army in your midst, [ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda, ad inf] you'll end up with the same anarchy that pervades the Arab world. Allow it to continue, as the Irish have with the IRA, and you'll condemn yourself to everlasting chaos."

And this, later on the same page...

"Strange, isn't it, that we Jews are once again stuck with a dirty job no one else wants? You and all your snide friends in all the foreign offices know in your hearts the cruelty, the evil that emanates from the Moslem world. But you are afraid to hold Islam up to the light and tell your people, 'Look, this is what we have to live with.' No, let the Jews do it. We once again man the barricades alone, berated by our smug, so-called allies of the Western democracies. Islam is going to turn this world upside-down before this century is out [9-11-2001) and you'd better have enough guts to deal with it. It's lonely, here, Brompton. It's lonely."

Despite the bald-faced truths that Uris told, critics at the time dismissed him as biased in his writing--Pro-Semitic, you might say, as opposed to Israel's critics today.

As long as Islamists believe that the only peaceful solution is "the final solution," there will be no respite from the forces of reaction. That is not a prediction; it's merely a plain fact.

Moses and his followers wandered in the wilderness for forty years, Israel has been mired there for more than sixty. Who knew?