Sunday, July 15, 2007

Someone else's thought

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Numinous game of Rock, Paper, Scissors

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend of mine. It covers a section of the book that's earlier on than my most recent points, but I thought it'd make a good posting nonetheless:

While reading "An Assault on Reason" I came across this passage:
The Relationship between faith, reason, and fear sometimes resembles the children's game of rock, paper scissors. Fear displaces reason, reason challenges faith, faith overcomes fear ... for many people, a balance between reason and faith is a better guide than either alone ... despite the many clashes between reason and faith, these cohabit much more easily in the mind than do reason and fear.

Perhaps it's just a measure of how poorly I relate to religious belief, but this observation resonated deeply with me. I've long been aware of research that suggests a need to believe in something larger than ourselves - a need that's most frequently manifested as belief in a deity - is fundamental to the human condition; but I've had trouble looking at this need as a strength. That difficulty's been alleviated with a few short sentences. After all, as suspicious as I am of universal statements, I think everyone's susceptible to some sort of fear. Some people may be able to rationalize their fears away longer than others; but I think a bad enough situation will scare anyone to the core. The ability to believe in something stands as a defense against just such a situation. Given, I doubt that belief has to be in a god - but a well considered religious belief seems like it could serve quite well.

What do you, fellow readers, think of this perspective for understanding religion's relationship to rationality? Do you see any flaws or points of concern?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sudden Direction

If I were to have a reader or two, and if they were to have followed my earlier allusion to this site's dusty old shelves, you might have stumbled across my blogiversary, I've learned that I do the sort of writing I was thinking of in other venues instead.

So, what to do with the blog? The world doesn't need another collection containing no more than some numskull's nuggets of narcissism. I need another focus for this space. So I'm going to see how it works as a place to discuss my reading list with myself and anyone else who stumbles along.

At the moment, I'm bouncing back and forth between a few different books:

  • The Assault on Reason, Al Gore
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • The Stone Canal, Ken Macleod
  • The True Knowledge Of Ken MacLeod, Andrew M Butler
  • Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart
Since that list is roughly in the order of priority, so there's gonna be lots of Al! I'm about halfway through it, so I'll probably backfill with some of the notes I took on earlier chapters. Since this post is already running a little towards the longside, I'll just jot down one of his contentions I'd like to revisit in future posts:

Gore connects the wide spread and relative low cost of the printing press with the suddenly increased value placed on individuals. He contends that, by taking publication out of the hands of an exclusive, privileged class and spreading it to a more widespread citizenry the printing press took the evidence of an individuals value out of the control of the few and placed it in the public domain.

Citation? Discussion?

Saturday, July 07, 2007


The weekend is here. Despite the weather, this is summertime: time for picnics, patios, museums, and film! My topsy-turvy life being what it has, of late, I've fallen woefully behind on cinema - I'm looking forward to catching up.

Aside from a used-DVD run, there are all sorts of theater going opportunities out there right now. What say you, non-existent intraweb audience? Should I start with You kill me? In a lighter vein of comedy, there's always Eagle vs Shark? Hmm - you say that'll play just as well on the small screen? Possibly, wise non-reader, possibly.

Ok, well there's Zwartboek. I mean, seriously, when Paul Verhoeven directs a Gestapo romance; my morbid curiosity isn't just piqued - it's damn near slain.

And then, there's the most recent musical. Maybe I should go see them all, say hey? So long as I don't miss the jazz in the park....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dribs (but never drabs!) from the front

In my ongoing conceit that there are actually visitors to this site (there have actually been no fewer than 7 discrete visitors to this site since mid-spring - and I must apologize to the poor soul who came here looking for Battletech related materials but "Venotar's World of Battletech" was last maintained back when I was still a work study student at a local community college computer lab in geocity's heyday), I thought I'd post some actual information.

I don't believe I've ever come out and said it; but I'm sure anyone who peruses the archives'll quickly deduce that The Lady and I have been dating for a while. Bittersweetly enough, that's no longer the case. Still, her name's likely to come up from time to time, as she continues to drop glibly sophic bon mots and insights into our conversations.

Much of my lengthy silence has been put to good use. I've been reconnecting with old friends and heretofore distant family members while discovering new compatriots in the most unexpected of ways. The last few months have been full of excitement, tumult, and self-revelation in a way that's delightful if sometimes painful. Yay learning!