27 June 2012

Workout: 20 mn at 5:45 AM. 150 steps, 10 mn walk, one-half flight stair climb and descent – tired and in pain thereafter. Quiet dawn.

Dream: Nicole G and my sister, put on a play in a city under a mysterious Lovecraftian doom. Rumors of creatures with waving, tubular, slimy arms eating EL trains at outlying suburban stations. Nonetheless we ran on stage with enthusiasm.

Probably not a good idea to reread The Dunwich Horror. I remind myself that in Catholic School, dealing in superstition (such as Ouija boards) was forbidden. This based on mediaeval (pre-Renaissance, pre-Reformation, pre-Enlightenment) theology which maintained that all evil spirits (sprites, witches, roaming devils and the rest of that lot) were locked by Christ in Hell after he finished “harrowing” the joint on the Saturday after His crucifixion the day before the Sunday of his Resurrection.

Big man probably came into hell, took a whistle on a lanyard such as came with poor Ian’s uniform (poor Ian being a chap who died on Lamma a year or so ago, who’d served in the African police in the waning Empire), blew it and said, everybody stop screaming in anguish, this is the harrowing of Hell. Then He probably smashed the joint up and put out its eternal fires, giving the damned souls a respite, and then locked all evil spirits in Hell, and (perhaps with an apology to the damned) turned the fire back on.

That’s mostly BS, but the theology was indeed that evil spirits have no power over us as one result of His sacrifice on the cross. Strangely, the Catholic hierarchy acts as if the Crucifixion never happened and that “evil spirits” still roam the earth. As a result, sillyassed movies like The Exorcist make working people afraid of the wrong things, sort of like Jaws. What I’m afraid of is not loving people enuf in the time remaining. That was the commandment: “love one another”.

CS Lewis was fond of pointing out that belief in witches stalking abroad, which contravenes the mediaeval theology, was a feature of the Renaissance and “new learning and new ignorance”, as “Maji” like John Dee et al. started to treat nonsense seriously using prototypical scientific method. There was for Lewis a continuum between superstition and science, and this echoes Adorno’s theory of enlightenment, aired in Negative Dialectics, in which prototypes of the enlightenment and of scientific method go back to ancient times.

It just dawned on me that I am in a ward where old men die and their souls fly to weal or woe, but before I reread Lovecraft, this seemed sad but normal, in the spirit of the nurse’s aide who when I asked about another disappeared patient, pointed to Heaven, sky, Tian. It then occurred to me to get all scared by the psychopomps waiting to eat souls, but I said to myself, nawww. Lovecraft himself, at the end of his life, made friends with the Beyond and stopped writing about creatures who were apparently evil and bad-tempered because they had to live in multiple dimensions and praise Yog-Sothoth as they trucked around the streets of lost cities of doom, etc.

Kant: Continuing to read the easier last part of the Critique and its famous refutation of St Anselm’s famous “ontological proof”. Eyestrain caused by chemo.

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 8.51.40 AM

Here, my grand-daughter Esme Sesame and Grumpy Cat have been busy in the predawn hours reading Kant. When they say I think (Ich Denke) our “ontological assay” discovers necessarily a content of the thought and the “apperception” that corresponds to the “I”.

Esme’s Mom is hors de combat and says, Ich sleepeh.

Esme is thinking of the sunrise but the Grumpy Cat thinks of nothing. We need to interrogate Kant as to whether a content of thought must exist, necessarily, even as the apperception must exist: we cannot be said to think, in Kant, without a necessary ich denke, cogito, I think. The “I” is in the “Ich” of the German, the “I” itself in “I think”, and the declension to an “o” ending in “cogito”. Our language is a rough and empirical guide to ontology.

But can we think of nothing?

Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing…

TS Eliot: East Coker

In my colonoscopy last year my anesthetic was a drug that caused me to remember nothing, and therefore to be conscious of nothing but during that period, my “apperception” also went missing so I’m inclined to say no.

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