Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Swindle on Death:

David Swindle left an interesting comment featuring a quotation by the late Bill Hicks on death:

"All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves." -- Bill Hicks :-)

Whenever I'm feeling blue or having a down day I just remember that we're not just these isolated water sacks of neuroses. We can known on a very basic, quantum level that the matter/energy that makes us up used to be somewhere else, even a part of someone else.

And then there's also the question of death. In my view, something which one need not be particularly concerned. What is death? It is the point at which your chunk of the consciousness retracts back into the infinity of the universe. You become one with everything again. And in my book that's something to look forward to. Why? Because we experience a oneness with existence frequently throughout our lives. It's when we forget ourselves, stop thinking, and forget our isolation. You get that when you lose yourself in appreciating or creating art. You can get it through the use of numerous drugs from alcohol to marijuana to psychedelics. We can get it when we lose ourselves in physical exercies -- "the runner's high." Most tellingly, though is the sexual experience. The orgasm is a moment of oneness with existence. Thus what can we look forward to in death? Yes, you're right: a neverending orgasm.

Very Timothy Learian. I remember when Leary found out he was dying, he replied that he was elated. For him, it was the ultimate voyage. Who knows what happens after we die but, as long as your death doesn't occur in some type of terribly painful manner, supposedly death -- the shutting down process -- is a very pleasant and enjoyable experience.

I know, how do we really know because no one has lived to tell about it? Some have had near death experiences (this might be why some think they see Heaven during these NDEs). I seem to remember Foucault, certainly an atheist philosopher to the end, if there ever were one, had a near death experience (after being hit by a car I think) which was very pleasant -- like some type of ultimate high -- and he became obsessed with death from then on.


David Swindle said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Jon. I really appreciate them.

Re: V for Vendetta in the previous thread...

Here's something you've gotta have an original thought on: what did you think of the departures that the film took from the book? Before I saw V I talked with a friend of mine who passionately loves the book. He was very frustrated with the film, especially thinking that its message was thoroughly watered down. Now I hadn't read the book since high school, when I was too dumb to appreciate it. So I went into the first viewing without those concerns and ended up enjoying the film.

The following day I was at home watching my little brother and the dogs while my parents and sister were out of town overnight. I decided to take him to see it. Before I did, though, I swung by Borders and picked up the book. I then proceeded to read it all in one sitting -- something I heartily reccomend -- before seeing it a second time.

Now my bias toward films adapted from other sources is fairly lenient. Basically you have to burn the book and make a sculpture out of the ashes. If the spirit, tone, and general message are in tact I'll be fairly friendly. And with V I think it certainly was. Of the three sections of the book it followed the first two in spirit fairly well. It was with the third section that things became drastically different. And I'm OK with that. To follow the book the film would've probably required another hour or so. Thoughts?

The Gay Species said...

As an Epicurean, which also explains my scientific materialism or naturalism, why can't we face death for what it is: The End? The Greeks had a simple notion, articulated well by Aristotle, that everything has a beginning, middle and end. Epicurus applied such simple reasoning to life itself, and death is the final chapter, scene, or movement before we return to nothingness, just as we "were" before life began (cf., Plato who subscribed to reincarnation).

Aside from Christians who hope in some eternal reward (and just as strongly in some type of eternal punishment of others), what is "it" that could possibly continue to "exist" without a body? Certainly not a "soul," which is pure fiction (for the Greeks, "soul" was psyche or mind). Even the notion of a disembodied spirit lacked possibility to the ancients, and early Christians believed in the "resurrection of the body" (cf., soul), as stated in the Nicean Creed, because it was inconceivable that anything could "exist" that wasn't in the main physical.

The Modern Era's Error of the disembodied Mind/Soul, inaugurated by Descartes, has been thoroughly discredited for the right reason that a mind/soul independent of a body is fundamentally incoherent, despite Descartes' argument that a mind could be conceived without a body. Such dualism, still popular among vulgar Christians, has once again been demonstrated to be absurd, even if it was a useful tool to establish Descartes' first principle (i.e., cogito ergo sum).

The Mind/Body configuration is cut of whole cloth; one without the other is untenable as it is incoherent, since both are critical to something's being. And when the body dies, the whole body dies, mind or psyche included. The psyche at death doesn't rejoin a collective unconsciousness or the Eternal Mind or some Ethereal Spirit, for the obvious reason that none of these armchair concepts/constructs has any semblance of a reality. Epicurus rightly saw the absurdity of such metaphysical nonsense and claimed the obvious: Death is death, period.

Karen McL said...

David - I can not locate yer review of "V" - so help a techno-dweeb out and send me a url link. *wink*

David Swindle said...

Here you are Karen:

I would love to hear any thoughts you might have regarding either my review or the film. :-)

Karen McL said...

David -

Well, I never saw "Fight Club", but on the visual level and execution of the filmmaking, I agree it’s very much in the style of “The Matrix” and was attractive and exciting enough in the vein of what passes for action/dramas today. And it could hold its own on that score.

But what is most important in “V” was the essence of its theme. And not having seen “Fight Club” I can’t compare it to that, nor to the original comix (since I’ve never read that either) – But sometimes a *virginal* approach can be a good thing. I often decide to read a source material later, rather than before…because the movie script and filmmaking experience can be tainted by the expectation from the source. And books have so much more time to delve into a story and character depth, it can be deflating to see their movie translations pale in comparison.

So, with untainted eyes and expectations did I view “V” and it stood on its own as an *A* flick. But you have captured the exact issue:

What's the difference between 9/11 and V's bombings of various London buildings? Or, what's the difference between a terrorist (Bin Laden) and a freedom fighter (V)? Easy: V's acts of terrorism are designed to free an oppressed people. The goal of 9/11 was just the opposite: the promotion of a totalitarian ideology appropriately labeled "Islamofascism."

And made all the more relevant by the current juxtaposition to our current Islamofacists (and Christofacists of the Religious Right) in attempting to misuse *intel* and the crafting of their *media messaging* with outlets of trained MSM hacks to coordinate an *altered* reality to present to the gullible public. This does and is becoming the oppression of the masses and promotes the intolerant totalitarianism of their viewpoints.

Also interesting in considering the views of those who fought for our original freedoms and overthrow of from the authoritarian rule of anointed *kings* (I am partly through reading "1776" by McCullough) - and whether we are currently fighting a similar (self?) appointed authority rising to the level of *inerrancy and kingly* powers via the “unitary executive” theory of the presidency. Most certainly themes worth thinking about – plus what amount of violence is (ever) appropriate to throw off such fascist dictates and maintain societal Freedom. On one level we can cheer "V" ...but would we IF it were happening here? or would we be aghast at having to take such actions to reassert our treasured rights and freedoms?