SELECT AN ESSAY
Becoming A Sacrifice | Becoming A Giant | Nazis, Writing Utensils, Music, and the Fiji Islands | Comparing and Contrasting Achilles, Odysseus, and Hector | An Argument Against Leibniz’s Defense of Theism | Living Out Prophecies or Catalyzing Them | A Philosophy of the Semantics of Forms of the Verb “To Be.” | We Lived in a Time | On Creating Worlds | Some Sort Of Description | A Note to Casey | A Revelation | Relative Happiness | Conversations On the Soul
This is better than I am. And it’s not for publication; these words are for you. You are all that matters.
Since in this time and place it’s become exceedingly difficult to become inimitably good, to become unique, to become what I call a Giant, then you have the most difficult job anyone has ever offered you before. That is to become a Sacrifice.
I know that becoming a Giant is tiresome, is lonely, is wearing on a soul. Part of the problem is not only the endless tasks, the endless trying, and the physicality of it, but also the mental anguish knowing the competition. Today it is commonplace to be different; not only is it commonplace to be different, but at minimum it’s commonplace to attempt to be different. Being different isn’t a “bad” thing any longer. It might have been at points in history, but not in modern day thriving countries. Not in America. Now if you don’t attempt to be different it seems that something is slightly wrong with you; at minimum it means you’re boring and bound to be persecuted by those that are trying to be different. And even if you’re not persecuted, even if I’m wrong about that, it might also mean this harsh truth: if we’re all trying to be different, well, then we’re all doing something similar; trying to be different, when we’re all doing it, makes us all similar. Hell, your best bet for being different might just be to try and be that person that all the people fighting against being “ordinary” are running away from. If you’re ordinary, now you’re different.
And I’m not saying don’t try; I’m not saying which to do either way. That difficult choice rests on your weary shoulders.
I know very few people that are Sacrifices. Only two come to mind, and I seriously doubt many of these types of people that I have in my head exist in many places of the planet. Some people might be Sacrifices unwillingly or unwittingly, but I don’t know if they truly are Sacrifices then. Try something you’ve rarely, if ever, done for someone, for anyone. So now a beginning.
Find a man with a girlfriend that thinks very little of him. A man that is not much of a man at all. Find that specific relationship where the woman is clearly thinking about leaving this man because he is insipid, he is annoying, he is worthless, he is weak. Make sure he loves her to no end and would be devastated and pathetic if he lost her. Now either make a bargain with him without him knowing, or force him unknowingly into a fight. Let him beat the living hell out of you, whether he knows you are letting him or not. Do this any way possible; walk up to the woman he loves and degrade her, disrespect her, piss her off until that point when she looks over at him waiting for him to do something about it. In that moment, just when she thinks she’ll find his weakest, most pathetic point, become the Sacrifice for him; let him kick the shit out of you and let her passion and desire for him come flooding back because of what you have shown her. If you made the deal with him, don’t take any money from him and take no thanks either. Walk away, hobble away, and never speak of it again. If you simply did it without him knowing, all the better because then he believes as well that he is the man of the night, of the year, and that his woman will love him forever. Either way, don’t ever let her know; let her live in bliss and beam at him every night for the rest of their lives as she brings that moment back to life in her mind forever after in their relationship. At any point when she’s considering leaving him, she’ll think of him on that night that you were the Sacrifice, and he’ll shine in her eyes because of you.
What does it matter if you are the Sacrifice for people you’ll never see again? They won’t know your name; no one ever will. No one needs to. You were a means to an end for them, not a person. You getting to know it should be enough for you.
Love someone so fully and so completely. If you can truly, by all means do. If you must fake it for them to feel loved, then you must. Love them so much that they think they are perfect. Make them believe that they are beautiful. Do anything for them, any bidding, any task, any favor whatsoever. Show them endless compassion and force them to realize that they are special; they are a Giant; you are a Sacrifice. Even if this has to be a lie, even if they feel a love that is no love at all, just you doing what you must, it matters little because you will never tell them if you are truly making the sacrifice. Die with that lie if it means them feeling eternally loved, endlessly good. Some might not agree with a lie, but if it makes someone’s whole life loved, then you should be willing to make that trade.
Do so many benevolent acts of kindness for other people. Leave money in mailboxes with no note or reason. Leave money on the sidewalk where you know people will find it. If you’re worried they’ll feel guilty taking it, leave it in their screen door so they think it was meant for them. Leave no notes and tell no one of your donations. Fix peoples’ property that is broken, fix their lives, somehow, and let them think it occurred naturally or somehow manipulate them to think they fixed it themselves.
When something has gone wrong, take all the blame. Whenever anything can’t be explained away by bad luck, whenever a scapegoat is needed, be the guilty one man party. Become like a fool and apologize endlessly even if you had nothing to do with what went wrong. Never let anyone else be responsible for something bad, not when you are able to take the blame without suspicion.
In conversation and debate and argument, in social settings, find the person that feels a strong desire to be right or a pedantic individual who loves to correct people: Be wrong, intentionally, and be a fool; somehow figure out rhetorically how to look utterly wrong so that they can correct you and they can assume the role of intelligent. Let yourself look stupid; let yourself be corrected. Say the wrong facts on purposes, tell untruths and lies, and let others jump in and look smart and classy and honest in front of the crowd.
Become angry at people and throw fits. Let them team up against you. Start fights and arguments and debates where you are completely out of line and belligerent. Let them throw you out into the streets. Give them the opportunity to toast their corroboration upon your exile. Knowingly, intentionally, be a fool. Make them all look like they are not the fools as they pointed out your faults and untruths.
And know the real truth and keep it to yourself as you skulk away, head hung low in “defeat.”
It means so much to be a Sacrifice. You will be making the world a better place, but because of it, you will become a lesser person, especially in others’ eyes. You must be a lowlife; you must a doormat, a loser. You must be a ragged doily. People will set themselves on you and soil you, and you will take it without them even bothering to acknowledge this. You must do what is right while at the same time letting others think what you did was wrong.
How impossible and selfless does this sound? That is what it is to be a Sacrifice.
The internal reward? Wherein does it lie? Well, perhaps you’ll find yourself bending over, letting people climb off your back to greatness and to the heavens while you stay stooped and in the muck. And even after you’ve done this for them, you still have to turn around to the world and say that they climbed up there all themselves and you had nothing to do with it. But since you won’t be in a larger category after these deeds, since you will in a small niche of people, less than most throughout history, aren’t you on a path to becoming a Giant as well?
But yes, in the end, you’ll be buried with people thinking you were worthless and rather wanting to piss on your body instead of dignify it with dirt. But that’s a price you pay.
And on a last important note I’ll leave you: if you don’t become a Sacrifice, at the very least next time you see someone doing all these things, someone you despise and someone you think is weak and pathetic, someone whose funeral you’d never attend, someone who’s gravesite you’d sooner spit on than look at, think about the truth that there was a chance that perhaps they were being a Sacrifice and they never were allowed to tell you this truth. And at the end of the day, you should thank these people that are low, that are wrong, that you had underfoot, that you bested, these idiots, these assholes, these villains.
In the end didn’t they make you look good?
Part 0: An Introduction:
Most times you hear or see a tale with a hero, Kahn, Luke Skywalker, Achilles, Frodo, or Odysseus, Arachidamia or Joan of Arc, Da Vinci, Poe, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Will Hunting, Splinter, Erin Brockovich, Beethoven, Mick Mars, and on and on, you wish you could be in his or her stead. But oftentimes we find ourselves only partaking of the good aspects of his or her life; these mediums of entertainment, they want us to wish for such adventures. But it is only true that in our daily lives we want those sorts of thrills. These heroes, they do not even try and hide a sadness behind their own eyes; they are pleading with us to understand that they only traverse these trails, trials, accomplish these feats and slaughter those others for posterity – they do it so that we will live in peaceful times. They wish for days when foul monsters and evil shadows will not roam the land unchecked. They wish for their children to lie snuggled up in blankets in a warm house safe from any sort of adventure that would put them in harm’s way. Yet still we sit on the edge of our seats hoping and wishing and praying that our body and soul be put into one of these adventures. After these heroes have cleaned up the world and given us a safe place to rest, we then become restless. Restlessness turns to boredom. We hate our lives eventually; this hate transforms itself to sadness and can manifest in suicide. For lack of anything to do and need for the riddance of sadness we wish we had some world of our own to save. We are sad for ourselves, hoping we could be them as a remedy; they are sad for themselves wishing they could remedy the wrongs of their universe for us. We hate them for not leaving us some adventure; they hate us for not appreciating what they have done.
They are us and we are them.
But it is true that many of us still try to emulate those heroes. I cannot care if they implore for me to live in my world where I am safe and bored. I want what they possess even if I do not understand. These heroes are Giants and I want to be a Giant too. They do not understand this life.
And when I say Giant, I am not talking about becoming a man; I am not talking about becoming a woman; I am not talking about becoming a person that many people strive to be and most turn into: I am writing about becoming more than all this; but there is not standard; there is no set rules to becoming a Giant; you just have to get it, I daresay. You are in some larger percentile when you have become an expanded person, an interesting person, a great man, a true man, a heroine, a heroic person. But these are still large percentiles, maybe even twenty percent. I do not care about twenty percent. I do not care about ten percent. Becoming a Giant is being that less than one percent. It is falling into a category unattained by most individuals throughout the history of humans and still it is no set of principles or standards, rules or borders, regulations or boundaries; this would go against becoming a Giant. Yet still we must do it. You must fall into a one percent and soar over everything and everyone you know, above them, naked, unhindered, and free.
And now is the moment where you might ask yourself what I have asked: Can we all become Giants? Am I truly a Giant if everyone else is? Perhaps. But perhaps not. You will see how this cannot fail later if you delve deep into the layers of it. But even so, if we all become Giants among all peoples, in turn making one race of Giants, then you need only strive on: become a Giant among Giants then. Think about this for a time; now extrapolate that concept.
Only becoming famous will not suffice for becoming a Giant. Do not think that popularity or fame will land you in the rank of a Giant. Anyone famous should know you. If they do not know you, you should not know them. Perhaps you will become famous, perhaps you will be a celebrity, but this is not the specific goal nor will becoming famous or a celebrity further your path. If it goes hand in hand, it matters little.
It was easy for some of the people listed above to become Giants. But I am sorry you were not handed the luxury of evil trolls, tireless racial persecution, monsters, tyrants, kings and queens, racists, sexists, necromancers, wild animals, space monsters, evil machines, gods or heroes, or demons in your mind that made you into such an anomaly; it was not our lot in life and so be it. We must move on beyond this diminishing truth.
Some people even think they know truths. And the worst is when others follow that soul that believes it is on to something. Ideas are planted at a young age, ideas of the quilt of false universals of it all. But those teachers do not know. Ideas do not matter; take them or leave them. But I would never take all of their ideas.
Most of these things constrain us; we do not need any of it. And none of us know any of it.
So many of us leave a movie or a book wishing we could have been placed in that situation. So few of us ever become Giants among men and take the place of those that we wish to. So few of us have courage or strength left; it seeps from us by these devices we lean on; it seeps from the jaded and listless race we are becoming; we are already dying, drip by drip, with rarely a gush.
I only know a few people that have started and less that are. Yet, some of you have done these things that make one a Giant among so many; some of you have become an anomaly in the world; some of you have left that world. Some of you have only started down the path by doing one or few trials. It remains and always will, a long hard odyssey.
Become a Giant. Try something you have never done or experienced before; you are the only person that will ever stop you. So now a beginning.
Part 1: Waking Up; Suggestions to Do:
Become colder than you have ever felt before; freeze out in the snow. If you do not live near snow, travel to that place where you will feel what it is like to live outside of a house with no radiator, no central air, no fire even, unless that fire is something you have made yourself, with a coldness that your homeland could never offer you. Sleep in a bed of grass, leaves, and foliage that you created to stay alive.
Doctors and lawyers are a new invention, not something we need to survive; you do not need doctor visits every year, you do not need lawyers when you are hurt. If you have become hurt in anyway, do not sue those that offered up life: embrace them and thank them for allowing you to learn from your mistakes. Do not go to the doctor for relief from anything. If you die, you die a Giant. Cure yourself if you can. The human body is a fire, not something so weak and pathetic as we have made it out to be. The human body is but a small campfire that we have all let go for the night as we fell into sleep. A quiet fire is strong still; it breathes and pulsates with life waiting to spring from coal and ash. We are now that coal and ash with a potential to leap back into roaring, searing plasma if only we put the wood back in the fire to fuel ourselves; let this be the fuel of your dying and withering soul; let this be the matter that wakes your dying flame. The human body is resilient and strong. Show this to yourself; prove it to be so.
Go without any food for as many days as possible. When you have gone as many days as you think you can bear, go on another. The hunger pangs will dissipate and your heart will cry out for food; you have gone so long with a hot meal three times a day that your body will hate you, you will hate yourself, you will hate having decided to listen to this. But that third or fourth or fifth day when you see that small belly you have never liked has somewhat lessened, then you will start to appreciate that your body can survive without food, you have just forgotten what it was like; you have forgotten how to hunt. Now burn even more fat off yourself by finding an animal or plant for food. Thank that animal or plant when your pangs dissipate. Do it again.
Love something, love someone, love anything, if it deserves it or if they need it, or if you need it. Love everything, if you have it in you. This is your road, you are the one that conquers it and you decide the path. Know your truth and integrity and follow and adhere to it. Love what you have chosen wholly and passionately and eternally. Then do the same with pure, unrestrained hate to something different that deserves it.
Become drunk. On anything. Let yourself become nothing save your dreams and drunkenness. Your feelings need to verge on awareness and uncertainty wherein you are aware that you still hold some sort of sentience and some autonomy over your being and self, but the uncertainty lies with the truth that you may or may not be drunk and you may or may not be in a dream. Once this binge has passed, however long that binge may take you, sober yourself up and breathe in the clear state of mind; again, your body is resilient and you will appreciate even more the feeling of a clear head.
Most of your exploits are something that society may deem inappropriate, but if you have not reached this line, or, with hope, crossed it, then you may be doing something wrong. Then again you may not be; it is you. But land yourself in jail. Do whatever it takes to find yourself having to spend the night in a jail cell of some uncertain town that will release you and wish you never back again. Do this as many times as necessary; do it until you appreciate the grand feeling of walking out into the sunshine at six in the morning knowing that you will not sit behind bars with the other shackled prisoners. Walk away without a car or a ride. Walk the railroad tracks to the nearest town and continue on from there. Only once you have experienced handcuffs and cells will you know the true beauty of what we call freedom. Do not know the word freedom, but discover a relativity of that word; we can never attain true freedom because we were born: you were not given a choice in the matter of your birth; your freedom ceased when you entered the world. But now that your parents forced you into this world, they are unwilling to take you out of that world. You must discover that coercion can be worse that merely shoving you out into a world; coercion can be a plight in which you beg for death in the end, only to be released again into that sunlit place that now you will not so much hate. In the end, after you have been in jail, you might thank your parents for birthing you. Buy your mother flowers on your birthday and say thank you to her for forcing you into this world, for now you know that life can always become remarkably and relatively worse. Stop crying because you were born. Your life is not your choice, but living truly certainly is. Start doing it.
You need to be away from your family and others. At least for a time. However long that time is, remains up to you; You’ll know when you’ve reached the point where you can return: it is when you have become free of them and now want them back because you love them, not because you are dependent on them.
You need to understand that the most difficult place a person can be is within the confines of his or her own mind. Constantly, incessantly, we are distracted; we are pulled away from our own minds. We are fed sedatives and lights, toys and games and humans, systems, food, and other teeming and infinite distractions to keep us away from our own thoughts. The soul, the inner “I” is beat down and suppressed to a point of expunging it from this universe; but we must not let these things take control and hinder us from deep true thought. Explore your mind; explore the innermost confines, the things that are within your flesh and blood but are not flesh and blood; become afraid of yourself; become afraid of your own mind; become afraid of losing all mental distractions and become afraid for your own sanity; let that horror take over: then conquer yourself and quiet that mind. This place you will find only when you have left your family and your friends for that amount of time necessary.
Do not fall into a category and let others judge you by your clothes and effects and attire. Attempt to become whoever you are and let your individuality shine through by not becoming a part of a group that does the same thing. Don whatever you wish and wear it like a crown, even if it is normal attire.
Make people wonder at you. Never let anyone categorize you or be able to define you. Make it impossible for anyone to describe you or anything you do. Do not practice what is normal or prescribed. Start breaking peoples’ brains by saying something they have never heard before. Start practicing difference in anything you attempt. Give everyone around you cognitive dissonance because they have just seen you do something that no one has ever done before. This could be a myriad of ideas and words and gestures and none of them are wrong.
This, above many things: never apologize to anyone for anything you have done while becoming a Giant or ever after. No one, ever, deserves your apology. Because apologizing is a waste of time; only actions after a wrong can start convincing people you were wrong. You must care little for what anyone in the universe thinks of you. You need to walk tall, proud, with focus, meeting anyone and everyone’s gaze or glare. You will walk through walls and dodge bullets. You will carry the world on your shoulders but never complain because you know that you are the only person that does not care that you carry such a weight; you are better than everyone. You are a hero, you are your hero and this will inadvertently lend itself to becoming a hero for others. You do not owe anyone an apology for you never will do anything wrong. You cannot, you are a Giant; you walk among clouds and gods now. Look down on them but let the ambiguity of your silence in this or any matter force them wonder at your enigmatic ways. This they will take for humility; this they will be wrong in; this is a goal.
Speak out against people, against anyone. Attempt to change people, or at least make them question their own beliefs and philosophies and words. Question your goals and beliefs, stigmas and standards. Question rules and authority; question rebellion.
Give speeches and rants, lectures, and tirades. Let your rhetoric in any matter, including this one, be a means to show people that you understand what they never will. Since no one knows anything, all you have to do is convince people with your arguments, and logic and rational. And thus you are not wrong.
Never stay shy; never look away from their eyes.
If you are worse, you can still be better. If you are smaller you can still be larger, so to speak. Because if different and unique in any way is what you are and emulate, then no matter what you do, you cannot be wrong.
I am a mess of inextricable contradictions and so it might be for you, but I will tell you, though it does not follow exactly my advice; as I said, this path differs for everyone and my telling is a choice I make because of the choice I wish to give.
Thus, on this final note I shall leave you: Holding a knife can give a person a very ancient, not yet lost, sense of how they began; you began as another entity entirely. It does not matter if we have “progressed” “evolved” or “become civilized” for all of these are relative terms and terms that only are part of a spectrum that remains constantly in flux and on an up and down intrinsic ride that becomes something we start out loving but in the end hate. We wished to move from the caves and mountains and to the hills and wished for a predictable food source. But then we wanted more; our greed, gluttony, and lust became something exponentially uncontrollable. We wanted companionship, we wanted children, we wanted lives and houses and jobs and money and then radio and television and now computers and chairs and beds and dishwashers and endless amounts of materials and things that we never needed before but somehow think we cannot live without now. And then we started worrying about being the same. Even though now we all talk about how we are all different and how we all wish to be individuals it is still true that you are not an individual if you are sitting with a mass of people all talking about how they are individuals. So I went and tried something I thought would change my life.
Pulling out a knife is something that most cringe at these days. It was so embedded in us before and now such a lost cause; we do not need that knife to survive, so we wiggle away from it, when once we would have gripped the handle and held its blade up as something shaped from our own life to end life. Its metal or stone would be caught in the morning sunlight, reflecting in our enemy’s eyes this warning: that we are not afraid.
Get into a fistfight, pull out the knife, cut yourself deeply to truly show that you are a barbarian; show them all surrounding you that you are something else; you are a Giant. Let them believe what they will. You let that blood flow; you let that Giant out; the animal still lives within, the fire burns and you are not afraid. They will leave you alone after that, and this is a goal. It is a goal I have obtained.
Scar yourself with that knife if you need to get your heart moving, your blood flowing once more, as I needed. Feel unrelenting pain. Let that scar be a memory for you to treasure for the rest of your life. Let it be a landmark on your skin of the beginning of the path that you took to becoming a Giant. And tell no one how you gained that scar.
It might not mean pulling out a knife for you to become a Giant; the path is varied and snakes; it might be taken from the words I have written down, but by no means is this a stone path: it should be trod by individuals and bent and broken and changed if need be, but with the utmost of care, without forgetting that we wander on this up and down path and since we have come so far this way on the societal, technological, perverse, immobile, spiritless, unloving and unkind, unnatural, normal, and above all else categorized side, that we need only remember our roots and our own intrinsic ideas and no one else’s.
Remember that this is no set list, but also moreover is the truth that this list is not about winning and losing. We should all want to become that person who is different than the human, that person that has experienced infinitely more, that person that has felt more pain, more cold, more suffering, more drifting, more traveling, more wandering, more loneliness, more isolation, more hurt, more loss, more adventure, more difference, more originality and new ideas than 99.9 percent of the human race. You want to become that person that has died every night and had an advent of yourself in the morning. You want to become that person that has experienced a loss so great that words will not explain, nor tears, but through that loss you found that you were stronger than any person you know or ever will know. It matters little if you follow any of this or all of it; if you use some and leave out parts or use most or little of it.
This above all else: you must understand that becoming a Giant is intrinsically about being different, not about doing what I tell you. Be bigger, better, and possess more inimitable goodness in you than anyone in the world, past or present. And this leads to Part II.
Remember though, when you meet this first mark, and you will know this first mark, whether it is by the knife or your own means, then you will have already started forgetting about those heroes you wished to become in the movies, books, and tales that you so pathetically clung to, as I did; because by then you will be on the path to becoming those legendary stories.
Part II: Thinking Clearly; Suggestions to Be:
And concerning being different, remember not only what you can do, but more importantly, remember what you can be: a Giant is not something mostly found in the world, because it is nearly impossible to become one. A Giant is a good person, but not because others dictated him to be so. And this good person also possesses certain traits of a confident, collected, and capable person that wants truth, beauty, and love above all else.
A Giant is not depressed, a Giant does not whine or cry or complain, ever. A Giant realizes that doing that is a mere waste of time; Giants fix problems, they do not wallow in them. Giants are not weighed down by insecurity. Giants do not grow in clicks and clichés; Giants do not do things or act certain ways because others have told them to do. Giants do whatever they want without any sort of regard for what anybody is thinking of them. Giants go where they wish, when they wish, wear what they wish, and grow as a product of their own mind without any sort of worry of if anyone else is judging them or disregarding them.
Giants are not jealous of others; others are jealous of their confidence. Giants do not make fun of others because it is the cool thing to do. Giants are good humans, but not because humans dictate them to be so. Giants are good humans, kind souls, not because of religion, or society, but because they can be the greatest, most genuine hearted person because they strive to be without any sort of worry of punishment if they act otherwise.
They do these things because they should, not because people or God told them to. Giants are products of their minds, learning from themselves after they took what they did from family and society growing up. They started at zero, and tore themselves and their beliefs down to nothing to rebuild a truly unbiased, unhindered, and objective mind.
Giants do not lie to make others comfortable or happy. Giants do not lie for any reason; they do not have to because lying stems from fear. And Giants are courageous. Giants give and want truth, without fear
If Giants do something, they strive to excel at it; Giants are jacks of all trades and masters of all of those trades. Giants are aware and open-minded, truly far sighted. They are expert lovers, fiercely loyal friends, and actively dangerous enemies. Giants love others wholly, without restraint, and they do the same with hatred.
Giants see the beauty in all things, the beauty in this, the beauty in the universe, and the beauty in humans, including themselves. It is not conceited when they see it in themselves, it is confidence and it is a confidence because they know this beauty in them is real, because they see it in others as well, and the beauty in others mirrors their own.
Giants possess the capability to deal with any situation, anything that life sends their way. Giants are more than men. They are intelligent, strive for excellence and are not tempered. Giants do not go half measure; a Giant will always go all the way, always practice going full measure. Giants are extremists, are absolutists, and they do not worry if others condemn that way of life. Giants know what they know to be true. Giants do not worry or doubt themselves.
Giants do not ask for permission; they do not ask others for help or for consolation.
Giants are content being alone. Giants do well sitting on a chair with their thoughts, by themselves. Giants will stand on a bridge, in the middle of nothing and nowhere, and find themselves not needing others. Giants are not dependent on anything.
And even if they are surrounded by others, even if they possess friends and family, Giants are all right living this life loving all that they love, believing all they believe, doing all that they do, existing as they exist, Alone.
Of course the urge to write something comes while mired down with great ancient literature with a test over the plots and themes approximately nine hours away. Some things in life are more important I suppose, but at a cost. For example, odds are, with the truth that EVERONE writes things these days (fuckin Gutenberg; he made a printing press and the world was deciding stuff and things and then they can all of a sudden understand each other and read what other people are saying and use their ideas to come up with other ideas and then to write these down and sooner rather than later, everyone is able to expand and expound on other peoples’ ideas and now everyone can read and write and oh bother; why couldn’t we have just stuck to writing utensils? there would be so many less famous writers and so many less even willing to try to learn how to write because longhand is such a pain in the ass), I will never become famous for writing what I do. But it seems quite unfair; take for example, Gilgamesh, the first thing ever written: why is that famous? It’s not that good. Its themes are good and some of them stick with us to this day, but the truth remains that a shit load of people in this day and age could write a story infinitely better than whoever might’ve written Gilgamesh. The writing isn’t that great, the story is okay, but in the end when you put it down you say “Eh, I’ll take it over leave it.”
I’ve become sick of saying “when in “fact”, it remains, blah blah ble blo etc. etc. ie.. You might’ve been wondering this whilst finding your brain in a state of cognitive dissonance as you read the previous paragraph when I wrote the statement “with the truth” or “the truth.” I’ve decided that “fact” doesn’t cut it. Whether they’re synonymous or not matters little to me because in truth, in truth just sounds better on the whole to me (an opinion, which I’ll get to). When someone says “in fact” they sound like there are going to state something scientific, such as “In fact, things fall at 9.8 meters per second squared and this is odd that I say in fact because if we dropped something a million times and each and every single one of these times it drops at 9.8 meters per second squared on the one million and oneth time, it may or may not fall at 9.8 meters per second squared and thus we call it a theory, because it is not a certainty.” And by Jove why not? It’s going to happen, it’s what I would call the Historical Consensus: if the majority of people, throughout history agree that something is going incontrovertibly happen (and yes they all have to believe it almost certainly and almost all of them have to agree to it, then for heavens sakes it’s a truth. Oh and they have to be serious).
But the reason I bring up that I don’t like that “fact” and “truth” are interchangeable is merely because of the connotations that “fact” and “truth” bring along with it. I have “truth” tattooed on my arm, not for the simple reason that I like the word, but rather that I like the idea of universal Truth, with a capital fuckin’ T. I like the idea that when two people are sitting in a room (or anywhere) holding a discussion, a debate, or hell a flat out pissed off at each other because one thinks the other is dumb as shit and vice versa, no matter what the ideas, the logistics, the arguments, the hypotheticals, the rants, the antithetics, no matter when they are all done, a perfect universal truth, one in which “truth” is said to be that by one that could know it (yes an omniscient God) a universal and indisputable truth. One says music is pretty, one says the opposite; they both disagree wholeheartedly, and yes though it seems an opinion if something in which nothing greater can be imaged comes down, He can in truth point out the universal truth and leave opinions obsolete because of the truth matter at hand: that the music either is or isn’t universally truthfully “pretty.” And the concept of the word pretty is what we use here, not the word pretty because words really matter little and only the concept, what we think of when we hear that word, or the universal truth that might be behind the word, is the only thing that really matters. Because whether evil exists or does not exist, we still have a concept of it. If God came down and said that evil does not really exist and good and evil are relatives to each other, we would then have to cut the word “evil” out of our lives as a human race because it doesn’t in truth exist, but we would still have the concept of evil when we saw someone that had pain inflicted upon them against their will. Whether it’s evil or not it is what we would call “evil.”
This concept of evil brings me to the next point and that is the truth that we usually infer much about what people say in arguments. Semantics is basically what it all comes down to IF the people have the arguments are intelligent enough to bring it down to this level. Anyone in the world, if they are intelligent, can either A) win an argument or B) bring it to stalemate, if only they hammer out the argument, boil it down to the very essence of semantics and then show how they were completely correct in everything they said, but the disagreement came when either A) someone misinterpreted what they said or B) did not understand their meaning in language or the meaning in words, which of course is just another misinterpretation or perhaps C) they ONLY have conflicting opinions and since we cannot know truth for certain, as we are not in contact with a being in which nothing greater can be imagined, no one will know whose opinion is correct. But the problem is that most people simply give up an argument before it begins. Okay, here’s the problem: We’ll throw out retards (and when I say retards, I mean MOST of the planet) i.e., let’s say seventy percent of the population (judging by an intelligence quotient test I took and where I rank along with two others that this paper concerns). You know these people, that thirty percent (and my God I’m being generous) know how to have a conversation and a pretty fair debate, so long as it doesn’t become heated (which they tend to do). Now, most of these people, since they are semi-intelligent, think they are correct on matters at hand, that is day-to-day life scenarios, situations, arguments, and generally how to think and live. When these people find themselves in arguments, they tend to immediately think themselves correct on any given argument (and yes, I mean ANY). But the truth is, the universal truth that is relevant as aforementioned, is that one person is always going to be correct. The reason I bring up semantics is because BOTH people could in truth be correct, but the problem there is that they are saying two completely different things; while trying to convince one another that they are correct, they are merely stating two different things. One extreme way to look at it involves a man saying that the universe encapsulates EVERYTHING and another say that no, by Jove, it does not. When they’ve argued til they’re blue in the face, one that argues that it is not says “but I simply meant they’re could be different dimensions and through space-time tears and things I know not of, there could be more OUTSIDE of THIS what we call everything, meaning more than the universe because everything includes the universe and everything else besides it.” Furthermore, this problem of argument betwixt two people means that they can come to this conclusion, but in the aforementioned scenario it is quite simple to come to this conclusion, especially if one mentions what in God’s name he or she actually means; but this rarely is the case. Most people, the thirty percent that are intelligent enough to have these sorts of conversations (and no, not the conversations and debates you’re thinking of, the real “to the-meat-of-the-problem, hammer-that-shit-out-so-you-know-what-I-mean type of problems that MOST of the planet never REALLY finds themselves involved in of which I shall tell you why they don’t after a moment) have to stop themselves from furthering down the road to understanding because they either A) find themselves unable to understand the other person (quite literally, or figuratively “speaking another language”) or B) become so flustered and angry at the idiot arguing with them that they throw their hands in the air and walk away from it mumbling about how stupid some people are if only things could be seen from my perspective would then the world understand what I mean and how they’ve been wrong all along. If the former of these two happens, ONLY then might they try to understand semantics and hammer out the conversation and understand truly what the other person MEANT, but most often the latter happens and that’s why people are cast in an unfavorable light when they converse about things that spark such debate whilst they are drinking whisky and rum and that sort of thing. But always the semantics are the only thing that matter regarding “winning” the argument, and universal truth is the only thing that matters as far as solving it and discovering what is actually true.
For example, if one person says, “I wouldn’t like to be “Polished” down today (let’s say a Jew), and by that he means he would not like to be killed by a Polish person or killed at all. But the Jew sitting next to him in the concentration camp says “I think you mean “Nazied” down today, You wouldn’t like to be “Nazied” down today.” (For the arguments sake, let’s pretend all Polish people are dead and the Jew couldn’t be “Polished” down). And then the first Jew says, “it doesn’t matter, both have the same effect.” To which the second Jew replies, “Yes, but a Polish man killing you and a Nazi killing you are two completely different things.” To which the other says, “No, because the outcome is one hundred percent the same, by saying I don’t want to be “Polished” down today, also means that I don’t want to be “Nazied” down today, it’s like saying that I do not wish to die today and that is that.” To which the second replies, “Yes but the means in which you die are intrinsically different since a Polish person cannot kill you, as they’ve become extinct because of the Fiji Islands incident, and a Nazi person can kill you. Thus, saying ‘I do not wished to be “Polished” today’, is incontrovertibly different than saying ‘I do not wish to be “Nazied” today’.” To which the first Jew says, “No, because they both produce the same outcome for me, which is entirely the same; saying I do not wish to be “Polished” is the same as saying I do not wish to be “Nazied” because of that same effect. Being “Polished is the same thing as being “Nazied” i.e. dying, therefore I wish not to be “Polished” as it is linked and one in the same as being “Nazied”; it’s like saying I don’t want to die.” To which the second Jew says, “Yes, but the means do matter here, and even if you do die, even if it is intrinsically the same as being dead at the hands of a Polish as it is as being dead at the hands of a Nazi, you cannot say that you do not wish to be “Polished” because in truth, a Polish person did not bring you to this end, but rather a Nazi did, whatever that end may be, and in this case it is death.” To which the first Jew says, “Yes I can say that,” to which the second replies, “Well then you’d be wrong.” To which the firs Jew says, “According to you.”
Now semantics: both must decide what they mean by the terms “killing” “Polished” “Nazied” “intrinsically” etc. etc. etc. Let’s us say that at the end of it all, the first Jew says, “Oh and by the by, by “Polished” you know I meant “Nazied” correct?” then the argument would cease as the second Jew would instantly agree then as it all makes sense logically. Or if some other highly improbable event of semantic discord came along then might they come to an agreement and continue on without the conversation bothering either. Now opinion: If, in fact, both of the two Jews were correct about what they were saying (I won’t delve into the matter of HOW they both might be correct, but it could be argued to be truth) then it merely comes down to an opinion, and if they can both see that what each is holding in their arsenal for debate becomes unnecessary because no one can every truly change ones mind about a clear and honest opinion, then the argument would cease as well and both would say the tired old cliché that they agree to disagree because trying to convince someone that they do not think one way about something that is entirely an opinion is like trying to do the dishes one at a time immediately after you use them; it’s not going to happen. And for the universal truth, I shall write on as succinctly as I am able as I hope you comprehend the point by now, if the two Jews sit there arguing for quite some time and a perfect being, one in which nothing greater can be imagined, an omniscient God comes down and says to them, either A) Jew one, you are correct, or B) Jew two, you are correct, then neither can ever possibly know who is right and who is indisputably wrong.
We sit and think in our own minds that we are correct in all our different thoughts and opinions, even I do it, and we refuse to see passed to what might be going through what others are thinking; perhaps they’re still wrong even when we’ve conducted this search into their minds, but I know when I say that any person that merely becomes angry in an argument isn’t necessarily wrong, but flustered. It MIGHT be a better world if we could all understand each other, exactly, intrinsically and truly know what the other was trying to get across to us, and us to them. On the other end of the spectrum it might make the world a terrible place to live and we wouldn’t get anywhere with daily, and life, endeavors. It’s difficult to say. But don’t leave an argument angry, consider semantics and LEARN the meaning of words and then, yes you must, infer, what the person you are arguing with is attempting to say. It seems a contradiction, but always try and better yourself; don’t make people infer what you mean, yet be able to infer as much as you are able. Know that sometimes it’s your opinion vs. someone else and you can’t further yourself or anyone else by altering their opinion. If you hate that opinion so much, punch them in the nose and move on. And understand that only some arguments can be solved with discovering universal truth. And with that I wish you good luck, perseverance, insight, audacity, knowledge, and Godspeed on your inevitable argumentative journey.
Three of the most important and charismatic characters from The Iliad (and one that goes onto The Odyssey) that remain influential and discussed even millennia later, possess several stark characteristics, traits, philosophies, etc. that are the same in all of them. Other times however, we only see certain defining characteristics alike in two of the characters, and often, we only see certain traits, passions and philosophies that only one of the characters hold. It is interesting to read about the three characters and know that some of the time they could agree on so much, while other times they could, and would, heatedly disagree. These attributes, philosophies, etc. are the concepts of: Honor; Respect for the dead; Battle and Bravery; Pride; Devotion to women; Devotion to the king; Temperament; Necessity for revenge; And lastly, and more importantly the contrast between Hector and Achilles, the opinions concerning eternal glory and a short life vs. no eternal glory and a long happy life.
Honorable is a somewhat of a tricky adjective, even in general, but even more so when trying to label these characters and show how they are not alike and similar. Most of the other traits throughout the paper will more or less show levels of honor. But it is important to point out that all three of these characters possess some degree of honor. Several of the important adjectives I’ve come up with, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, are “Good name or reputation,” “glory or distinction,” “principled uprightness of character,” “integrity,” “dignity,” “pride,” and so forth. The point is that the term is ambiguous in ways and could mean different things to different people; as far as this paper, you can decide yourself who has the most honor as the rest of it shall attempt to show you. But as for these dictionary definitions, our heroes, irrefutably, have aspects of the concept of honor. Hector shows uprightness of character; he tries to always be the good loving husband, and the honorable soldier. Achilles shows his pride when he refuses to fight for Agamemnon. Odysseus attempts to retain his dignity when the suitors are still making a mockery of his house. All three characters, in some way or another, portray several aspects, if not all aspects of this definition of honor.
Respect for the dead is a major theme in these two works by Homer. Back then, respect was given to the bodies of the those fallen by several traditional ways. One of the ways to show this respect, or lack of on Achilles part, is the confrontation that Achilles and Hector have before they fight to the death. Achilles is always a man controlled by his rage. Before the battle between Hector and Achilles, Hector is in a more reasonable state of mind, and Achilles, and it is understandable, is enraged by the fact that his cousin Patroclus has been slain by Hector. Thus, Hector suggests that whomever wins the battle let the loser’s family and friends be able to take the body back so that it can be burned respectfully. To which Achilles replies:
“…don’t talk to me of pacts.
There are no binding oaths between men and lions –
Wolves and lambs can enjoy no meeting of the minds –
They are all bent on hating each other to the death.
So with you and me. No love between us. No truce
Till one or the other falls and gluts with blood.”
It is important to point out that Achilles disrespect for the dead is influenced by the recent killing of his cousin, but nonetheless it is still disrespect. Hector wants to respect the dead, regardless if Achilles dies or if he does, but Achilles is already trying to say that he does not care either way; no pacts shall be made between the two for he is enraged over the death of Patroclus. Furthermore, he goes on to demonstrate his disrespect for the dead when he kills Hector in the battle. After, Achilles ties Hector’s body to his chariot and drags it back to his camp and leaves it there. But we must keep in mind that Achilles does give back the body of Hector because of Priam’s pleads; whether this is because he respects the dead, or because he simply empathizes with Priam (because it brought up thoughts of Achilles’ own father and Patroclus) is debatable. Just to purely speculate, in my opinion, Odysseus might have been more likely to agree to the terms that Hector gives to Achilles, but his rage and lust for revenge would not have equaled Achilles, thus the difference in Achilles compared to the other two.
Battle and acts of bravery are constantly taking place throughout the two stories. It is obvious that the people living in the times of Homer took war very seriously and gave much honor and respect to those that showed bravery in battle. Undoubtedly, all three warriors show much bravery in battle. Simply by participating in bloody war they prove that they are formidable and honorable men that value bravery. But in there own way, and at certain times, they are either proven completely not brave, or at the very least, avoiding battle for a reasons that they believe are astute at the time. First, Hector shows the only true cowardice when he learns that Achilles is on his way to avenge Patroclus. He runs around the city walls three walls in an attempt to forestall the fight that is to ensue. Only when Athena takes the shape of Deiphobus and assures Hector that they will fight Achilles together does Hector regain his courage. But even when he does muster the courage to go face Achilles, he begins to tremble at the sight of Achilles in all his rage. Also, it could be argued, that while Achilles does have courage, he shirks from battle when he has his disagreement with Agamemnon. Odysseus in the same way shows his prudence vs. running into battle by taking the form of a beggar man and not rushing into battle against the suitors when he returns home to Penelope. While Achilles and Odysseus do stray away from the battle in this aspect, it remains true that neither ever show the flat out cowardice that Hector does when he is about to face Achilles.
Pride is an important characteristic on two different levels. All three characters have their pride, no doubt. This is the sort of pride that one holds because he has proven his mettle in battle and in life. Hector is the greater leader of the Trojan army; Odysseus is a great king in Greece; Achilles a warlord. These three men have led an arduous life of battle for spoils of war and they all three no doubt are proud of the their accomplishments. But Achilles has the sort of pride in which he refuses to do the greater good because he is proud and perhaps quite stubborn as well. He cannot concede to Agamemnon’s rule. He refuses to do what the king says because Agamemnon has been selfish. Because of his selfish ways and because Agamemnon took Briseis away from him, Achilles will not enter the war or fight (that is until Patroclus’ death) even though he most likely deep down realizes that it is better to fight for the state. Though he knows that men are dying because the great Achilles will not step in and help them, his pride does not allow him to concede to Agamemnon. In this way Achilles possess more pride, and more obstinacy than either Hector or Odysseus.
This example of pride on Achilles part leads to the devotion to the king. Again, Achilles stands apart from the other two. Odysseus, is a king himself; he rules a different part of Greece than Agamemnon. Therefore, he does not have the obligation to listen to Agamemnon, but it does say that Agamemnon is the strongest king in all of Greece. Because of this, Odysseus shows some sort of devotion to the king and fights in battle for all of Greece. His devotion is to the Greeks and to king Agamemnon, in ways, and to himself. Because of all of this, he fights against the Trojans. Hector on the other hand is merely a prince. His father, king Priam, rules Troy and has the final say in all things. Hector shows more devotion than either of the two because he fights for his country and also for his king, but he has a family that he loves very deeply, yet he still refuses to abandon the armies. He shows true dedication and honors his father by fighting at the head of Priam’s army regardless of the fact that he could die leaving his son fatherless and his wife a widow. Achilles, however, is quite unconcerned with obeying the king’s orders and only fights for his own reasons. He was torn on the matter of even being in Troy because he knew that his destiny to be a glorious warrior would also mean his downfall. He had no thoughts of devotion to king Agamemnon, and the moment they wound up fighting, Achilles showed no regard for the loyalty Agamemnon felt owed, and simply withdrew from the battle and did nothing. Only when Achilles decided he wanted to come to Troy for eternal glory did he come; only when he learned of Hector killing Patroclus did he fight. His fought of his own volition without any regard to loyalty to king Agamemnon or any other king.
Women, as with most men, play an influential role in the lives of the three heroes. Hector is the most devoted to his wife. Throughout the story, he never sleeps with any other women or any of the gods. Achilles does not sleep with any other woman either, but he is not quite as devoted to his woman because he refuses to marry Briseis and live a long life with her because he is more concerned with battle. Odysseus is also devoted to his wife because he does everything in his power to get back to Penelope. But he too is also not as devoted because he ends up sleeping with Calypso on her island. While all three love the women in their lives, Hector is the only one that wants to be with his wife, as Odysseus does, and also stay faithful to her, as Achilles does; he takes all good aspects of a good husband and becomes that man until his death. Achilles will not be with Briseis because of his wish for eternal glory, and Odysseus is not entirely a faithful man to Penelope. The fierceness of that love for their women is debatable, because it could be argued that Achilles and Odysseus do love their women as deeply as Hector does, but they simply love other things more, such as the gods and eternal glory. But while this may be the case, Hector is the only one that portrays the deepness of his love by being faithful and by wishing to be with his wife. The only reason Hector does not leave the army and live a long life with his wife is because he cannot take the disgrace of leaving Priam and the army. Hector says:
“All this weighs on my mind too, dear woman.
But I would die of shame to face the men of Troy
And the Trojan women trailing their long robes
If I would shrink from battle now, a coward.”
He thinks that he will actually die of shame, and this thought of everyone remembering him as a coward is even more important than living with his wife; it is not because he does not wish to, he simply cannot. Achilles is slightly different in this aspect because he is not sure either way.
The temperament of the three heroes is quite a bit different. Hector is more of a man that wishes to be with his wife; his devotion is to king and country, but he does not live for revenge or rage toward anything or anyone. He is more temperate than either Odysseus or Achilles. Odysseus is the more clever and cunning of the three; he is willing to make sacrifices of dignity, on some levels, in order to achieve the best possible end for himself. He degrades himself to becoming a beggar and having the suitors beat him, etc. so that he can achieve his final purpose of getting revenge on them and getting Penelope and his household back in his possession. He portrays the most patience out of any character, mainly because Achilles seems to have little patience, and Hector is not in many circumstances where he needs to have patience to succeed. Also, instead of running headstrong into battle, Odysseus will try and find the cleverer and cunning way out (e.g. as with the Cyclops wherein his men hold the underside of the sheep in order to escape) while Achilles may have simply rushed at the Cyclops and attacked out of pure pride and indignity. Achilles rage is a huge part of his temperament; indeed immediately in the story we see that Achilles rage is prominent:
“Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighter’s souls, but made their bodies carrion
feats for the dogs and birds
and the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.”
Achilles is a man ruled by this rage and in difference circumstances, he would not, most likely, have been able to restrain himself from charging in. Also, with the suitors, when Odysseus showed his patience and waited for the perfect moment to strike, Achilles would just have likely run in and attempted to slaughter the suitors immediately upon arrival. Hector is obviously more level headed than Achilles, but what he would have done in the circumstances that Odysseus was in, remains difficult to say. Odysseus shows us that he has a very patient even temperament and most likely even Hector could not have shown as much astuteness when it came to freeing himself from the Cyclops, taking revenge on the suitors, etc., but judging by Achilles past rage, he would have done a much better job, if not as excellent as Odysseus.
Necessity for revenge is only truly necessary for Achilles and Odysseus. Hector has no instance where he feels completely obligated to go out and take vengeance upon anyone in particular. Odysseus, on the other hand, is completely okay with getting revenge. His wife has been harassed, his household has been degraded and used by men that do not live there, and his son has been threatened with death. When he comes back, it would difficult to argue that he had no reasons for vengeance upon those men that used his house and tried to take his wife. Achilles, has somewhat of a different story. He might not have the right to be as angry as he was over the death of his cousin Patroclus. Hector rightfully killed Patroclus in battle, and in no way did anything that was not honorable. Achilles, however, only came back to the battle because he wanted vengeance on Hector for killing his friend and cousin. Hector was fighting for honor and for his king; Achilles was only fighting for his selfish reasons and this makes his necessity for revenge not as credible as Odysseus’s because Odysseus wished to free his family from the oppressive hands of the suitors.
The last aspect of the characters does not deal with Odysseus as much as the contrast between Hector and Achilles. Opinions over eternal glory and a long life without that glory are varied. Odysseus seems to want to have glory and honor, as well as being with his wife Penelope, but he seems to want both equally, perhaps the glory a bit more, but he does want both, albeit they might’ve been linearly with the battling first. Hector, on one end of the spectrum wishes to be with his wife and child, even more to the point where he would like to leave the battle and spend his days with them. He even laments that he cannot, as in the aforementioned quote, only because of the shame he would feel and his death that would ensue because of that shame. If Hector were given the choice that his honor and pride will not allow him, he would undoubtedly choose to be with his wife and child. Achilles, on the other end of the spectrum, cannot decide what he wants to do. He wishes for eternal glory, but his mother, the goddess, has predicted his fate that he will die if he reaches for that glory through the Trojan War. She prophecies that he will live a long life, with a wife and children that love him, but no one will remember his name. Achilles laments his choice when he says:
“Two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy
My journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,
My pride, my glory dies…
True, but the life that’s left me will be long,
The stroke of death will not come on me quickly.”
His choice is a difficult one concerning that of eternal glory through dying in the war, or living a long and happy life with a family that will be the only ones to remember him. Achilles has a much more difficult time than the other two deciding which one he would choose. Only when he is forced, according to himself and his rage, into battle because of the necessity for revenge, does he make his decision that perhaps even he could not help but make.
Some aspects of these heroes we can see in the others and in all of them, some we cannot. Sometimes the colors bleed a little bit and they are alike in ways and sometimes they contrast sharply. This character development is one of the reasons that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are so successful even millennia later. Perhaps Achilles made the right choice deciding to avenge Patroclus, otherwise we may never have heard of him and his name would be lost in time with those that lived long, happy, albeit inglorious, lives.
Leibniz’s was a German philosopher who attempted to justify the ways of God by disagreeing with Hume’s thoughts on theism. Leibniz thought that an omni-benevolent creator could be compatible with evil in the world and he did a poor job of justifying his argument which one can easily argue against. One can hear his argument, though stated in different ways and in different times, throughout almost any philosophical argument for or against God. Can evil and an omni-benevolent creator co-exist? You might better understand it as the clichéd question of a bitter person rhetorically remarking: “If God exists why is everything so terrible in this world?”
Leibniz attempted to justify the existence of theism and evil in the world by giving the objections raised against theism first and then refuting them with arguments he thinks are logical and apparent.
The first objection Leibniz states is if whoever does not choose the best he is lacking in power or knowledge and God did not choose the best, i.e. this world because much evil exists, and therefore God is lacking in power, knowledge etc. Leibniz refutes this by saying that God created this evil in the world as a means to an end; he says that the evil is accompanied by a greater good. Therefore, he thinks, evil is part of the world because it leads to the greatest good that God desires. He relates this to an army general that will take wounds for the army so that he will win the battle rather than having no wounds and losing the battle.
This refutation is absurd. It only does the job of saying the opposite of what the objection says without actually saying why. The objection is simple and makes perfect sense; if God were all-powerful, omni-benevolent, he would not need to create a world with evil for a greater good. He simply would create the best world and this world would not include any evil whatsoever because the evil is irrelevant to the best world for an all-powerful omni-benevolent God. If he were all powerful he would not need to use something as a means to an end; he would just make the best world, perhaps a perfect world, because he would be all power and able to create it as an end in itself. This distinction between a means to an end and an end in itself I will discuss later in the essay.
The second objection is that in God’s work as a whole, there is more evil than there is good because in intelligent creatures there exists more evil. Leibniz refutes this objections by saying firstly that it should be the case that non-intelligent beings could compensate for the intelligent beings by possessing good in them that might even surpass this evil.
This refutation does little to help Leibniz’s argument. First off, the entire objection does not play that important of a role in the argument against theism, that is to say that even if Leibniz were to prove this objection wrong, it would not have a significant bearing on the argument as a whole because it only deals with the amount of evil and this only would lead back to the main point of evil in the world and an omni-benevolent creator, which I did, and will continue to, address.. Also, as far as Judeo-Christian beliefs, non-intelligent beings, i.e. animals, plants, etc., do not play a role in the evil of the world according much of the literature written for and by Christians and Jews. The reason I leave out these beings playing a role in the amount of evil in the world is because only intelligent beings, i.e. humans, possess souls that are stake (again, according to these religious traditions, which this essay is based off of. Moreover, although this might be the case, that evil is outweighed by good in the world through intelligent beings, Leibniz gives no support or justification for the argument and simply states that it might be, or is the case when he does nothing to prove it. This also hinders his argument for the reason that even if God were not an omni-benevolent being, but rather a benevolent being with great power, why would he greater a world with so much evil in it. That is, even if God wanted to create a best world, it would make much more sense to deduce that he would and could create a world with much less evil in it than the so called best possible world. If this world, with the amount of evil in it, is the best possible world God could create, he really should not be called a God at all but rather some being with power to create the world but not to stop a great amount of evil.
Leibniz refutes the second part of the second objection by saying that evil is not more so in the world due to intelligent beings because the good of the ones going to heaven far outweighs the evil present in those that are damned.
Again, Leibniz has no way of proving this and does not even attempt to do so. He says that God is infinite and unlimited and that the devil is limited. I would have to disagree with this statement due to the souls of the beings that are good or evil. If those souls that are evil are damned, it stills means that they are infinite because they go to hell for eternity, according to the tradition they are discussing, and the devil also remains there for eternity as well thus their being, their soul, has intrinsic evil that is infinite as well as the souls in heaven that have intrinsic goodness that is eternal.
His last argument is the argument I have been stating throughout objection two: He says that even if any of these were the case it would be impossible to prove and therefore irrelevant and by agreeing with him, neither of us would win but neither would lose either.
In objection three it states that if God were all-powerful he would be able to determine all future events and if everything is predetermined, everything is necessary, especially for this greater good world. Therefore, the objection states, if we are all predetermined then we can do nothing else but do the necessary that certain individuals do end up doing. Therefore it is unjust to punish one for these sins because they could have done nothing other than what they did.
Leibniz refutes this by arguing against the necessity of things. He states that people have free will and are not determined even though God knows what will happen. He says that the soul attempts to stop us from doing things even though we have the internal inclination to do certain things that may be evil. These sins are not necessarily predetermined but we still possess free will given to us by God and though it is not necessary, some still choose to sin.
I do not have a problem with evil existing in the world because of free will. I could go along with the argument that evil exists because of the things humans do, not God. But the argument is not actually about that. It still comes back to God allowing this evil in the first place. Also, Leibniz’s refutation’s flaw is that God’s foresight and complete knowledge of the future and his complete power and incompatible with free will. In Deane-Peter Baker’s essay, he writes, “The basis of the problem, thus understood, seems to be about control – if God foreknows everything, and this makes everything necessary, then in what sense do we have control over our behaviour? Worse still, does this not imply that if in fact God is in control of our lives, we are not responsible for our behaviour, and that perhaps the blame shifts to God? …If God has complete, perfect foreknowledge, does that not somehow mean that he is in control of all that happens, including the actions that we take, and that he is therefore responsible for our actions and we are not?” (61, Baker).
Many philosophers have written on the free will and foreknowledge problem. Leibniz does not even address the problem in his refutation but talks about it as though the two are completely and obviously compatible. They are not because if God knows what we are going to do, they how could we do any different? The problem remains a huge one and one that Leibniz cannot continue this refutation without addressing. Furthermore, I seriously doubt that even if Leibniz did decide to tackle the problem he would find a solution because so many philosophers have experienced much trouble with it. This free will that he speaks of is compatible with an omni-benevolent God but I think that the free will and foreknowledge, the foreknowledge that God knows about because he created the universe with evil so that it would lead to the greatest good, are incompatible and either God is not all powerful and he does not know what will happen, which would be that he could not have created the greatest possible world with the greatest end because he would not know, or he does know what will happen but yet he knows because he forces our decisions upon us and thus he is not omni-benevolent. And again, it comes back to the amount of evil in the world: if God did allow us to have free would it not make more sense for God to intervene more often than he does to stop evil? That is, could it not be possible for God to allow us to some sort of free will but still not allow certain evils to happen no matter what? Things such as rape and cold-blooded murder and torture are never necessary and this free will might not need to be completely unlimited if it meant stopping some of these unnecessary evils.
Objection four says that if something can prevent the sin and does not do so, it is an accessory to the sin; God possesses the ability to prevent sin because he is all-powerful and therefore he is an accessory to the sin.
Leibniz refutes this quote by saying that preventing this sin of man would be committing a sin Himself because by permitting this sin, God is passively letting men do what they will so that the best possible world will be brought about. That is to say that if God stopped men from doing these evil acts, he would be doing one because it would hinder the greatest good.
This greatest good that Leibniz continues to use as an argument is still irrelevant for if God wanted to make the greatest possible universe he just would have made it and would not let humans go through suffering and evil but let them live in paradise. He could let them have free will if their decisions were good, but if the decisions were truly evil He should step in and make the things not happen; God, if he were omni-benevolent and all-powerful would have made an all good world and if something evil attempted to come about, if again, God were all-powerful and omni-benevolent, he would prevent it from happening.
The Monsignor of the Old South Church once said, “And I am reminded, on this holy day, of the sad story of Kitty Genovese. As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil, which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men” (The Boondock Saints). Even if Leibniz constitution was rock solid, even if he thought he put forth a good argument (which he did not) I am amazed that he could think God would allow some of the things He does. The things that happen in this world, the little evils perhaps put aside, but the truly evil things that He allows are unforgivable. I am not sure if I would want to believe in a God that allowed some of the things He does and if an omni-benevolent God truly wanted all his people to come to eternal glory, not only would he prevent these terrible evils from happening, he would also create a world in which people wanted to believe in Him because of the evils that He did prevent; He does neither of these. The only reason people believe in God is the fear of death and perdition.
Leibniz continues to set forth objections against the existence of God that he continues to attempt to remedy with his “God’s best world” argument. This argument begins to become his only defense for the latter objections raised and it is important to examine the “best world” and the exact term “omni-benevolent” creator.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that omni-benevolence is “unlimited or infinite benevolence.” David Kelley defines benevolence in his book Unrugged Individualism as, “a commitment to achieving the values derivable from life with other people in society, by treating them as potential trading partners, recognizing their humanity, independence and individuality, and the harmony between their interests and ours.” Keeping this in mind, it is obvious that God and omnibenevolence are incompatible.
This “best world” that Leibniz speaks of cannot be the best world that God could conjure because an omnibenevolent creator would not create this world that is so full of maleficence and evil. If he were the definition of what Hume calls “benevolent” he could in no way create the world as it is. The two are incompatible because to say that an omni-benevolent creator made this world full of evil would be similar to saying that an all perfect something possessed an imperfect trait, which makes no sense and cannot work or exist.
Hume wrote, “the best and indeed the only method of bringing everyone to a due sense of religion is by just representation of the misery and wickedness of men. And for that purpose a talent of eloquence and strong imagery is more requisite than that of reasoning and argument. For is it necessary to prove what everyone feels within himself? It is only necessary to make us feel it, if possible, more intimately and sensibly…people, indeed,…are sufficiently convinced of this great and melancholy truth. The miseries of life, the unhappiness of men, the general corrruptions of our nature, the unsatisfactory enjoyment of pleasures, richess, honors – these phrases have become almost proverbial in our language and who can doubt of what all men declare from their own immediate feeling and experience?”
That is to say, I will not attempt to justify that evil is ever present in our world; it is transparently clear.
Also, it is difficult to imagine that even if a somewhat benevolent being, or god, did exist, he would make a world even remotely close to as evil as this world that is so full of evil. This world we live in contains so many evil things, so many bad people, so little good, relatively speaking, that to imagine a god that created it, one would almost have to imagine a maleficent or sadistic god. This means that even if we gave Leibniz the benefit of the doubt and decided to say that God was not omnibenevolent, but rather quite benevolent, even then I would experience cognitive dissonance in attempting to connect a partly, or even mostly, benevolent god with this world as it currently works and plays out.
The last problem with this argument lies within the utilitarian and deontological approaches to life. A being in which nothing greater can be imagined, a being like God, an omni-benevolent, all-powerful perfect being would almost certainly justify a deontological point of view from anyone that knew that He existed. Because if a perfect all powerful, omni-benevolent being existed we could be aware and know that there are certain truths and universalities because He would be there as something that could back up and justifiy these arguments. Thus, we would know that we should adhere to a strick set of moral principles and rules and lifestyles that would be justified, and it would be in our best interest to do so (especially if the Christian idea of Hell existed). This idea of deontology, this consistent set of moral principles that people must adhere to with utter fidelity and integrity, are incongruent with Leibniz’s idea that God possessed only an idea of the “best possible world.”
A best possible world is more along the lines of a utilitarian approach that God would make. But if God were perfect, omni-benevolent, all-powerful etc., he would not be a utilitarian. He would not be looking out for the best possible good for the greatest number of people. He could not be looking for the best possible good for the best possible number as only a utilitarian could possibly do. If He were all the above listed things that “God” must be, namely an omni-benevolent one, he would undoubtedly and irrefuteably be a deontological God after which his people would, whether they found out sooner or later, know that deontological integrity was the only possible way of life and the only way to truth and the afterlife. So not only is Leibniz inconsistent with his view that an omni-benevolent God could create a world such as this one, he is also mistaken on a different level and that is that God, if omni-benevolent, could not merely make a world that was the greatest in his power; the world simply would be the greatest world. We would not make a chalkboard full of relatively “good” worlds, if this God did exist, and have him pick the best possible one that he could create. If a perfect God did exist He would look at all the mapped out worlds, dismiss them and use the one universal world that is the best world, not the best possible. The distinction is utterly important to the argument and it leaves Leibniz argument obsolete.
So many philosophical standpoints come and go throughout time and once in a while we need only to step back away from all the garbled mess of inextricable arguments that have become so specific and impossible to find a clear argument out of, and look at the world before us to understand why an omnibenevolent creator cannot exist; it is because of the world we live in. To put it bluntly, simply, the world is not good, the world is bad and this only means that an omnibenevolent God did not create it.
And even if Leibniz meant that a partially benevolent God created it, would we even want to believe in a God that created a world like this anyway? My most important part of the argument lies in this last paragraph and these scenarios:
Even if God wanted us to have free will He could certainly intervene at times to stop the terrible evils of this world by helping us. Why, if God is all-powerful and all-benevolent does he not simply give people more power over others that are not intending to do any harm? Why not give a girl about to be raped the chance to disappear to some other place on the planet; it still gives her free will and it gives the man about to rape her free will because God would not have stopped the man, not taken away his free, yet he still would not have allowed the girl to be raped. The rapist simply was not given the power, but still the free will because if he did have the power, he would have been able to rape her if he wanted to yet he could not.
Several scenarios could follow this example. A murder would still be allowed to murder in cold blood if he could. But God could perhaps make someone unable to be hit by bullets, able to run away and the murderer could still exert his free will yet be unable to accomplish the evil.
If God simply takes the victim out of the scenario it isn’t taking away the free will of the criminal out of the scenario, thus leaving free will and taking away the evil act. It’s a loop hole for God. Yet He does not use it.
Perhaps someday I shall understand.
The Oedipus complex developed by Freud has pervaded our culture ever since he came up with the idea. For certain Oedipus influenced Freud with the notion of wishing to have sex with our own mothers. This theme is transparently apparent in Oedipus Rex while other more important ones remain. Oedipus has also caused us to consider what some call the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the case wherein one hears of their future, and by attempting to change it, they inadvertently cause it to happen thus fulfilling the aforementioned prophecy. We see it still today in popular culture. In the most recent installment of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Anakin Skywalker falls into this same category; he attempts to save his wife from a prophecy of her death instilled by Darth Sidious and in doing so, he ends up causing her death. The theme of the self-fulfilling prophecy still causes intrigue and still influences story lines today. Arguably, Oedipus was a product of his own self-fulfilling prophecy and he caused his own terrible life because he tried to alter his fate that the oracle foretold.
But we cannot simply point out that Oedipus caused the self-fulfilling prophecy and leave it at that conclusion. The most important question we need to ask ourselves is the one of the self-fulfilling prophecy and furthermore, we need to remain open to the truth that in no certain terms has anyone ever come to the conclusion of whether or not King Oedipus caused his downfall with the self-fulfilling prophecy. Or if second, the self-fulfilling prophecy was not the case, he could have merely caused his unfortunate life with his own actions. Or third, the oracle did indeed possess powers of foresight and was correct in the prophecy, thereby leaving Oedipus and his life no option but to have happened as it happened. The first two of these are products of what we call free will and the third is a product of a determined life, which some call fate, destiny, etc. These three different interpretations possess slight differences that must be addressed.
Oedipus’ father had the same problem with the self-fulfilling prophecy. He heard from an oracle that he would die at the hands of his son. The self-fulfilling prophecy follows that had Laius either not heard of the prophecy, it never would have come true because he then would never have trussed up Oedipus and had him taken by Jocasta to have killed. Thus, Oedipus would have known his father and not have killed him on the road during the carriage dispute. Second, if Laius had known of the problem with self-fulfilling prophecies, he would have taken little or no action against his son. If Laius had heard the prophecy of the oracle and shown no fear in the matter, by not having Oedipus supposedly killed, he would then have never unintentionally caused the carriage dispute and therefore he would not have died by trying to save himself. And of course Laius has the same distinctions with this that Oedipus did. He could have not been a product of this self-fulfilling prophecy, but lived through the same outcome. He could have simply made poor choices and ended up where he ended up. Perhaps the oracle wound up being right, but that had little effect on the outcome in and of itself. The fact that Laius simply did what he did caused him to die at the hands of his son and the prophecy was merely coincidental. The last way that Laius might have met his end is from the truth of the oracle’s words. Whether Laius had done one thing or another would have mattered little because in the end, he was a determined individual where A always causes B in the universe and the prophet was actually gifted with clairvoyance and told the inevitable future.
Oedipus experienced the same situation that his father did. When Oedipus learned from the prophet that he would kill his own father and murder his mother, he fled from them. The problem there was that he assumed his mother and father to be his biological parents, when in fact they were not. So by fleeing from them, he stumbled upon his actual father and the carriage dispute ensues and Laius dies at the hands of his son, Oedipus fulfilling the prophecy. After, he travels to Thebes, solves the riddle of the Sphinx and marries and sleeps with his mother, fulfilling the other part of the prophecy.
Again, the same three scenarios can be put into the equation for the same outcome. Oedipus might have been a product of the self-fulfilling prophecy; he could have been the reason it happened, and it happened because he heard it from the oracle. If Oedipus had never learned from the oracle that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, he never would have fled to escape his destiny and in turn, fulfilled it. He tried to escape the prophecy and in doing so he caused it to happen. Also, like Laius, if he had known of the self-fulfilling prophecy, he might not have taken the initiative to leave his hometown and therefore would never have met and killed his biological father and met and slept with his biological mother. This is the first product of free will. The prophet did not coerce Oedipus into leaving the city, nor did anyone else. Also fate did not intervene and force him to, under this line of thought. He was given the news of what would come to be, and he acted of his own free will which caused this end to happen. Albeit he did not want the outcome, he caused it because of his free will to do as pleased, and this was to attempt to avoid the unfortunate fate of his. Also here it is important to point out that while Oedipus did have free will to do as he pleased, the Oracle obviously played a large part in causing the downfall of Oedipus. While Oedipus does have the free will in this scenario, he was guided by outside factors, i.e. the oracle. Oedipus’ free will directly caused his downfall, but the oracles choice to tell him as he did, indirectly caused the outcome. Why the oracle did not choose to tell Oedipus he was adopted is another matter up for speculation. It seems as though the oracle needed to omit that bit of information so that Oedipus would indeed leave from the city from the parents that adopted him in order to fulfill the prophecy that he gave.
The next scenario is the one that most of us cling to in modern day America and this is the truth that we do have free will and that self-fulfilling prophecies do not happen. We like this because it offers us nothing but unadulterated free will for our lives. This is to say that anything we do is ultimately and only our own fault. Oedipus did indeed fulfill the prophecy, but the fact that it was prophesied had little, if anything, to do with the outcome. In fact, under this scenario, Oedipus is the reason for everything that happened to him. He had free will, did with it what he wanted, and killed his father and slept with his mother in the process of his free will. He has no one to blame but himself and his choices and actions that stemmed from these choices. Obviously the choices were terrible ones that led to a terrible life. Again, in this scenario, the Oracle may be responsible for indirectly causing these things to happen.
The last scenario of the three is that perhaps fate does exist, Oedipus was a determined individual, and nothing he could have done, good or bad, would have affected the fate he was doomed to live out. Therefore, he did not self-fulfill his prophecy because the prophecy would have happened regardless. He did not have free will to cause his own downfall because this downfall would have happened anyway. A always caused B and Oedipus was fated to do as he did with no say in the matter. This line of thought also leaves us with the fact that the oracle is actually clairvoyant and can see into the fated future. The oracle was honestly accurate and correct in his foresight; he told the inevitable future. His telling of the matter had little or nothing to do with what transpired because since all has been predestined and determined in this scenario, then Oedipus, the oracle, and everyone else did only as they were destined to do. The oracle however, in this case, was completely right, and either guessed correctly at the future, or did indeed see it coming, therefore he had no direct or indirect influence in the matter just as Oedipus had no say in his fate either.
Oedipus was a sad case regardless of the means to his end. But we tend to leave out the different avenues that Oedipus could have arrived at this end. It might have been that he fulfilled his own fate by trying to change it. It might have been that he made simple, terrible free willed choices that caused him to blind himself and kill and sleep with his own kin. It might have been that fate decreed this awful end was all that Oedipus ever had in store and nothing the oracle said or he did could change this. These distinctions, while difficult to come to any certain conclusions, are worthy of pondering and certainly important to consider when reading the case of Oedipus the King.
One of the reasons this paper is not entirely ludicrous, if at all, is because I will undoubtedly have to use the word “is” many times throughout, and most English speakers that read it will, more or less, understand what I am writing. Or perhaps that is irony; but I have yet to discover a paradigm for the word “irony” and I doubt this is it.
English speakers, given time, grow to possess a deep understanding of the word “is” along with all other forms of the verb “to be.” People have told me before that native speakers of the language look on it differently than foreign speakers of English. Usually, many people that learn the English language are a bit, if not quite, confused by any of the forms of the verb “to be” such as “is,” “am,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “been,” “be,” and “being.” Part of this stems from the fact that many of the words do not show function as much as intrinsic value. Intrinsic is also a tricky word meaning something along the lines of in and of itself. Therefore, if a native English speaker were to say “He is the coach of the baseball team.” Some speakers of English as a second language might believe that the phrase is not as functional, or perhaps even accurate, as if one were to say, “He coaches the group of kids on the baseball team.” The verb changes from “is” to “coaches” which creates a supposedly stronger verb while at the same time giving us the functionality of the person coaching rather than merely saying what the coach intrinsically is. But a problem arises in this as far as connotations and assumptions. Language cannot solely depend on denotations and the precise definitions that lexicographers decide on. To use this example, if someone were to come up to me and remark, “He coaches the kids on the baseball team,” many would assume that something is wrong with the actual coach. It implies that he coaches the children, but this is the extent of it; he is not the actual coach, he merely coaches the kids on the team.
Since pregnancy seems somewhat of an innate, or even intrinsic (as far as the child being in and of the mother) aspect, I shall use this as an example of problems that arise from not using “is” as the verb in the sentence “Sarah is pregnant.” Even if a person were inclined to rid this sentence of the agentless passive, they would still be committing injustice to the intrinsic nature of being pregnant. For if one wished to eliminate the forms of the verb “to be” along with the agentless passive and say instead “John impregnated Sarah,” this would still fail at expressing exactly what Sarah is. If someone said “John impregnated Sarah,” many might infer a variety of implications from this statement: E.g., that although John impregnated Sarah at one point, she has since miscarried, and is no longer with child.
One half way of solving this problem is using the context of the situation of Sarah being pregnant to imply that one was also pregnant. For example, if Sarah said, “I am pregnant.” Another woman might say, “I empathize with Sarah as a pregnant woman due to personal experience in the past.” We can infer that this woman was pregnant at one time, but this does not change the truth that her statement and our inference remain contingent upon Sarah saying the original statement. Also, it leaves open for interpretation whether or not the pregnancy carried through.
In the same way, one cannot only use attributes of “being” to define being of the certain adjective. If a person utters the sentence, “John is a happy person,” we immediately know what they mean and usually detect no sarcasm or underlying implications. Also, we would not suspect double layered meanings (depending quite a lot on context, of course). On the other hand, if one only pointed out some of the defining qualities (usually) of someone that is happy, many more inferences are made and many more layers of sarcasm are intended, oftentimes, and the listener is skeptical, at best. For example in the same case if one said “John smiles far too much,” the listener might assume that John is a crazy person, or has something wrong with the muscles on his face. If someone says “John seems happy,” the listener is usually immediately skeptical. If John only seems happy, then he must be faking it. Because to seem happy is another thing entirely from being happy. This is not always and incontrovertibly the case, because obviously many people that intrinsically are happy, seem happy. But note this is not always the case with those that are said to seem happy all the time. Upon this remark, one would think that John is masking depression. Or perhaps he is a truly phony person that seems happy all the time because he is faking being happy all the time. But if John is happy, then he is. If two people disagreed and one said “John seems happy, therefore he is happy.” And another said,” John seems happy, therefore he is covering up depression,” these two would obviously be at odds. But if a perfect arbiter, one in which no greater truth could exist in came and told the universal truth of the matter, He or She would say, “John seems happy and is in truth happy,” or “John seems happy and is in truth not happy. Thus, one would be correct as far as their thinking of what John actually is, but they would both be correct in thinking that he also seems happy.
One attempt at solving this problem of using attributes of someone that is happy vs. saying they intrinsically are happy would be to find better verbs that replace the forms of “to be.” One could argue that “equals” is a suitable replacement for “is.” But I think that when one says “equals” it means to say that the subject equals something that it can never equal in scenarios that use the “to be” verb. “Equals” equals “is” is a falsehood then. Because Sarah would not equal “pregnant” in the same way that John would not equal “happy.” John and Sarah are two universals and autonomous sentient beings. “Pregnant” and “happy” are also understood universals; the subjects cannot equal them. They can “be” what these universals are, but they do not equal them. Sarah can be pregnant, but she cannot be what “pregnant” is. “Pregnant” is an idea, a universal, that we all hold to be true. We do not hold this to be exactly what Sarah is. But this can be a part of what Sarah is. Sarah is a pregnant lady, but she does not intrinsically equal the universal “pregnant” because if she did, we would not longer call her wholly Sarah as her own universal, but rather wholly “Pregnant” as its own universal and therefore would not know Sarah in the first place because she would not be Sarah at all. John equaling “happy” follows this same line of thought.
Some would say that “possessing” is another way around the problem. But John would not possess this universal “happy.” If he possessed it, one might think he has found truth, or that he in fact literally holds this universal that is “Happy.” But John as a happy person only uses the adjective to define his being. John is John. But John is not the universal “Happy.” “Happy” is “happy.” John could be a happy person though. Sarah as a pregnant lady follows this same line of thought.
Since we could probably never know the exact numbers, I should say that this next section is arguably the most easily refutable. We cannot know for certain truth, but I have to play in the real world of humans and pragmatics and it is very close. So let us say that lexicographers agree on the denotative definitions of the forms of “to be,” specifically, for this example, “is,” at about 90 percent. In the minds of the elitists of all the major English dictionaries throughout the world (I suppose Europe and America mainly) they can agree at 90 percent of the denotation. The reason is because of the ambiguity of the term. Now since language is contingent upon humans, we cannot avoid the actual context, assumptions, and connotations of the word “is” or any of the forms of the verb “to be.” If 90 percent is denotative, then the rest is something else. 4 percent is context. 5 percent is connotative. .05 is something else that we cannot exactly explain without experience or at all. And .05 is most likely a disagreement on all of it.
“Is” could equal “is”, of course, but it is so much more than only the equal sign. If a person told me they know the definition of the word “is” I would believe them. But I would never believe that they could explain to me the definition. One cannot define it in only words. Something has intrinsic value if it cannot be exactly stated in words except by what that word is. “Is” IS “is.”
We lived in the 21st century, a time of technological exponentiality, of virtual reality; in a time where we could brag that it wouldn’t take us long to double our information in the world, when it used to be that it took the planets’ inhabitants centuries to do any sort of feat like that. And we did it with no class or honor, met all too often with the disparate and paradoxical thought that we were sophisticated and refined, evolved, and on top of the small world.
We lived in a time where people never really knew themselves. We were capricious and flighty. We were the paradigm of diffidence and immorality all glued together with something that would bounce us back if we tried to hard to separate ourselves and step back from this shallow, callow, and ignorant ball of rubber bands that was the inextricable human race. The Unintentional United Something of America with the rest of the world following suit because for some of their own shallow reasons they actually wanted, or because we inexorably coerced them into doing so.
We lived in a time where as equally paradoxically as our own self image and thought, we loved. This meant saving the world for many; but it only meant saving it with their conversations that remained little more than bolstering of niches in the world for lack of anything better to do and need for acceptance and camaraderie. That love was good, because love is always good, and with that love we inadvertently tried to be intrinsically benevolent. We did not know, as no one will, if love matters no matter the size; for that love meant so much loss and hurt and anguish to others because we had to spread it all so fine. We loved those others in starving countries; we loved people from afar that we could not help because of our inadequacies and because of our lingering deep-seated indifference. We did not love that indifference and apathy, but it remained festering until we died. And that death was one of indifference. And we dealt out so many small deaths in that time. Since we did not focus that love, it precipitated into the heartbreak of lovers along the way far too many times.
We lived in a time of unrest, restlessness and malcontent. Life was always good; food was ubiquitous and never was love hard to come by. We ate and drank and laughed and were sad. One night was all it took for the time we lived in to capture and hold on to true bliss; one person was all it took; one pill or pull or drag. One night. But that extreme up, meant something else the next day for we lived in a time where nothing stayed; everything worked itself from our bloodstream as if hoping it could get itself away from our needy body as fast as that person that wanted to get away the next day from our bed. We all longed for something; we would wish to feel the touch of their soft hand our own toughened skin. But with that we needed beauty as well. So we lived in a time where we settled for anything we could obtain, but only for a time because that mixture of acceptance and love was more difficult to find than most ever would have imagined. That give and take and push and pull meant the relativity of love for some and meant the contempt of others. Someone loved someone else and we kept loving them all the same, regardless that they wanted someone else. We looked over a cliff as they walked away hand in hand with their one person for the night as someone watched us walk away over a cliff wishing we would come back to them. Even if we could not be happy ourselves, we lived in a time where it would have been possible to make other people happy, if only we could give up our selfish goals of being our ultimate happy, if only we could sacrifice. We lived in a time where everyone was a step down from the person that they loved while still a step up from someone that loved them.
We lived in a time where we did not ever know what we fought for. We fought fake battles or we died. As the rest of humans and history we fought, and oh yes, we fought. But our struggle wasn’t something so tangible as feeling our friends last breath on our face. Our struggle was something we rebelled against that still cradled us in its loving and powerful arms even when we cried and lashed out against it violently. We assailed depression, anxiety, loneliness. We lived in compartmentalized worlds shut off of our own accord but only a drywall away. We battled addiction and bad habits. We fought long and hard wars with our lack of security and hope. We struggled against God more than anything for we hated Him for the sadistic deeds we inflicted, but feared to not love Him for all our sins that were worse than all of history’s combined.
But sometimes we stopped and looked back at the time; sometimes we optimisized. We lived in a time where sometimes people held the door for one another; sometimes an eccentric young person would visit an isolated old person dying, a person that had lived in a different time. We sought perspective at the very least; we actually longed for something harder than anyone has ever longed for anything and at the same time less than they ever could. We never empathized with anyone through our brothers’ and sisters’ history for we could not understand exactly how they felt as they could never understand exactly how we felt. But still we sympathized; we thought and disseminated aspects in our minds.
And above all else, we cried. Not tears of joy, which did not come often, but tears of sadness and gloom; tears of depression and tears of worry and thought; tears of fear and hatred. But also tears that stemmed from thinking of others. At the very least, we cared enough to sit in our beds late at night as a child, and wonder at our parents’ old age; then we cried. We thought about those times we harassed a child that never deserved it; so then we cried. We thought of that long lost person that would never return and we hurt so many and helped so few of them, that we longed for a second chance. And we cried. We remembered each day a love that could have been if only we were not so selfish; we drove ourselves almost insane with an incessant memory of a person we left because we did not love them as much as they loved us, and we cried. Also we thought of that person that had left us, and we cried all the harder.
From time to time even, we recalled that throughout time, every countless human that has ever lived, the billions of nameless people, they felt a pain so deep in them they could swear that all of humanity, dead, alive, or to exist, must certainly understand how they feel and come running. But never did any of us receive our beckoning. Never did anyone ever truly possess all they ever wished for. And for this, it was not quite as deplorable as all that, and it was because we cried over it. At the very least and lowest, we felt something.
As with all other forgotten souls, and as with you reader, we lived in a time…
We never even had a choice. This is important to remember, if it be true. I like to hope it is. But often this notion condemns those that are what we call “good” and glorifies those that are bad; at the very least it pardons everyone. For even a murderer could be said to have had no other choice in his or her actions. A rapist, the same, a thief, likewise. For certain aspects of their being came together to create that supposed choice that was never actually a choice at all. The universe became; planet Earth’s proximity to the sun worked out. And then somehow two people met up; everything conspired against all odds in the universe. That certain sperm cell met that certain egg, amongst the thousands of eggs and the millions of sperm. Those staggeringly small odds created that one person that was born into an existence that he or she did not choose. Then they were not given the choice of their surroundings, at least not right away. They were raised to become what they would. Chemical elements in their brain went along their own chosen paths and certain balances were uncontrollable. People influenced that person and before long, none of these supposed criminals could help do but anything but what they did.
Writers were the same way. I couldn’t help but write; no writer can help but write. No true writer can say they ever had a choice, and for good reasons. But this glorifies the murderers, the rapists, the thieves, the cheaters, the beggars and the motherless backbiters. It gave them all an excuse to act in the way they act for they could say they never had a choice to do as they did. Some would say they are godlike enough to know that there is no excuse for acting in any of these manners, but I say I don’t know. On that same token it does little to glorify those great benevolent beings that help mankind and never harm or hurt anyone or anything. If they never had a choice in the matter, then what they did, those good deeds, are not nearly as altruistic and great. They had no other choice. They possessed an excuse, if they were conscious enough to consider it.
I’m a writer.
And this is my excuse for creating worlds.
The universe is exactly what it is and will always be. I won’t even use the excuse that I was born in the wrong time, or era, or even part of the universe. The reason I cannot is because I know that imagination exists. Throughout time and space I’ve never seen an elephant with thousands of pink legs. But I can imagine it. The universe can offer me an infinite amount of stars and galaxies and solar systems with planets and inhabitants and creatures. It offers endless amounts of room to work with. It offers me light and substance. But it could never offer me what my imagination could. It might be infinite in its own way, but it will never come close to the infinity that is my imagination and mind. And thank all that is good and holy for that mind too, because in the end, thoughts and memories are all we possess. When we’re left stranded on an island, nothing but our thoughts accompany us. When we die, we are only the memories and stories of life and the continuation of thought that is a soul. All material eventually crumbles and fades to nothingness, but thoughts and memories live on forever. And furthermore, we were blessed with imagination to accentuate and expand upon these intangibles of our mind.
There is no adventure that doesn’t lurk within the recesses of my mind. There is nothing close to paralleling the travels, the epic stories, nothing close to it on earth or throughout history, which I could not think up in my own mind. No character, no person, no being or form of life exists that I could not imagine in my mind; no character in life exists that I couldn’t come up. And I can come up with infinitely more stories, infinitely more people, than anything the universe ever has or ever will provide.
The gift of imagination is the best possible one that any sentient being could ever wish for. It might be so great, that the imagination could think up something better than the gift of imagination, but then that gift could not be so, just as my stories will never be so save for on the pages to which they cling, and in the memories of those who have heard them.
Someone asked me a question once as they looked at a resplendent sunset along side a dying tree, one of the suicides that Dante spoke of. They asked if anything could ever be painted so beautiful. I do not know the answer. Perhaps a painting of it, any rendition could be infinitely and always better; perhaps it would be infinitely and endlessly worse. But I’ve decided that since I will never know that answer that we write and create these worlds for a reason. The painting of the tree is nothing that is the tree, nothing at all. It is in truth a product of our imagination, a sensory perception that came from something else and turned into some other form.
The universe, life, the world, it is all merely a travesty for artists and writers to use; it offered them this context. Couple this context with my endless imagination and I can create endless other worlds, far vaster and more interesting and complex than anything the universe has ever or ever will.
Writers create worlds with words. We bring forth something that came out of a context of life intrinsically amalgamated with our imagination and thought. Artists and writers are not something expendable. They are more than worthwhile. It is the most important part of life. It is what makes us human. This imagination makes us what we are, it explores this thing that is the human and by using it we expound on our own existence and truth.
This could make us more than humans even. Some believe God created the universe and all life. But perhaps that’s all God is; He or She is a creator. We humans are Gods, for we too create worlds.
I’m actually a little bit like Captain Hook (okay, quite a lot, but I can’t really delve into much detail lest you think me insane) so I’ll use that as a reference and analogy.
If I were in a different world and time, I would love to be some sort of pirate, but not in any servantile or insignificant sense, but rather the Captain, or someone along the lines of importance on the ship. It would be that, or I would leave whatever said ship wouldn’t allow me to be so and become the said Captain on some other ship I would commandeer. But most likely anyone and everyone wouldn’t dare question my psychotic means and demeanor, and thus, I would, indisputably, be the leader, the captain.
I would be the only man whom Barbecue feared, and we all know that Flint himself feared Barbecue. Men would fear me; Indians would fear me for I would hunt them with Long Tom. The Lost Boys I would kill whenever I saw them. I would be the steel-handed sting ray; I would possess a hook for my right hand; and hell yeah I’d have a hook. And I would hate, I would hate, I would HATE, Peter flogging Pan.
I would possess this background that suggests I went to some school of etiquette; some rich teachers would have schooled me in every grace and I would be well spoken and refined with impeccable grammar and profound speech. But alas, I would have degenerated; in some sort of way I would cling onto the past by acting snobbish (some of the other pirates would say, but never to my face lest I should claw them with my hook) and dressing nice and adhering to the distinguished slouch of the school. And in this degeneration, I would have acquired great wealth but still lived on the sea for revenge or some other mission of that sort that would incessantly, perpetually, tirelessly, occupy my mind day and night. I would be vile and cruel, even to the point of using poison as a means to kill my enemy. I would be scared of crocodiles, killing any that came in my path, and mounting and stuffing that beast that had a taste for me.
I would emulate good form but never truly reach it, for anyone that strives to possess good form can never obtain it; one must have good form without knowing it for this is only truly good form. I would hate Smee for not knowing that he was a man of good form but I could never tell him because he would be better than I. I could never kill him for killing a man with good form is, indeed, bad form.
When pondering the aforementioned subject, I would, on most occasions, fall like a cut flower…
I would sit up late at nights, not eating, always thinking. I’d hate my life wishing I’d done things that came about and regretting that I never did. I’d wish for suicide in the end; I’d hold a gun to my head on many occasions, but I’d never pull the trigger. The jagged pieces of my life and events would come together, and they would culminate in this one truth I knew: “I need to die.” Yet I’d be too afraid of dying; lonely and yet wishing to be left alone, wanting for the end while not having reached it. My friends might save me, ones I never truly cared about, but in the end, perhaps it would be for the better. Perhaps not. I would always be too frightened of death, but endlessly wishing it so.
I would be an evil, sad, black hearted man; one broken but refusing to take his own life and only taking the lives of other to fill a hole that’s been growing in his soul since the day he was born. Alas, no amount of pillage or blood would ever fill it.
I know this all to be true for no little children love me. And death is the only adventure I have left.
By now you might be sitting there asking yourself (it’s almost inevitable when someone compares themselves to captain hook): “I wonder which guy this is; I see must see him some days and yet I cannot match a face to a description written in fake black ink on some computer.” And you won’t find me I’ll wager. You’ll probably never speak with me. But with the right kind of eyes, you may intrinsically know that it was I who looked you in the windows to the soul in passing.
Either way, try and rescue me. Why wouldn’t you? Are you some kind of sadist?
When in the course of human events, particularly, my human life, it becomes necessary to examine the said life. I realize that mine became more sentient so to speak; that is to say, I became more conscious, more self-aware; enlightened. I’ve done so many things wrong, hurt so many, apologized to so few. I can’t help but hate. I believe that compassion and hatred are compatible. I look back remembering things I’ve done, these memories, these moments, all unreal, my memories, similar to an old projection, something I’m watching someone else do with my mind’s eye. But it remains, irrevocably, me.
I hope that when I die I do not arrive at the river and discover that the wrongs of my life are the reason for my tarnished soul and the waters cannot cleanse the eternal stains.
Thus, having attained the greater self-conscious, so far as I can tell, leaves me feeling melancholy and jaded. I was happy, I suppose, ignorant; someone watching a non-existent being (my previous self being the non-existent being, my current self the observer) and now I’m aware but unhappy. I’ve yet to decide which is better.
I realize what decision would benefit the world, but what decision benefits me remains a mystery to me: is it better that I’m happy? for surely depression, anxiety, spiritlessness, and the like can’t be healthy, yet neither can poor, tactless, soulless relations with humanity and others and nature be astute business (that is to say business of living) either.
How cruel a creator, how sadistic, if a creator exists at all, to make either of the above mentioned, i.e. what I was, what I am, a reality; one bad for me and everyone else, the other bad for me alone. A benevolent creator cannot exist. Anyone or anything that has the power to fix the terrible things in this world and does not do so is evil; the very definition of “God”, the one we accustomed to us, leaves the argument for God obsolete because the idea of a just and benevolent being contradicts the world we live in. And I don’t give a damn about what Christian fundamentalists, Muslims, or Jews would call His agenda, or ultimate plan. If the plan existed, the plan would involve a man taking a girl against her will, raping her, and then attempting to kill her by driving over her with his car. Of course when she doesn’t die, he exits his car, opens the trunk, grabs his four-way tire-iron and beats her to death with it. Back to my original point, I am angry for the situation thrust upon me, thus spurring my disbelief, no, my adamant belief (a rock solid constitution) of a lack of the benevolent being (As I said previously, a sadistic creator, perhaps, but this goes against most (all?) large religions). So that being said about my pathetic wants, imagine if this girl, the above mentioned, believed in Christ: what could have possibly gone through her mind during this whole terrible situation? Something along the lines of, “Why have you forsaken me?” It’s easy for people to believe in God when all their dreams come true. I’d gladly kill any person that did what that man did to that poor girl, and I’d gladly burn in hell for doing so. Who wants to believe in a god that would condemn a man for such an act anyway? What if the father of this girl wanted to kill him? Wouldn’t he be justified?
But as for my situation? who to blame? who to kill for the wrongs? The answer is transparently, ominously, clear. How sad. But of course that’s not a sane option for a person with the ambivalence, the uncertainty, that I feel.
It really doesn’t matter; life wins either way. The bastard.
The only light at the end of this dreary tunnel is the hope that perhaps there is a level of true enlightenment that one can further obtain. Until then I shall remain in my second level of ignorance (wherein I am at the very least, self-conscious and ruminating thus prompting me to expound on the matters at hand) knowing not what I wish to know.
Socrates once said that a truly wise man knows that he knows nothing. I would have to disagree, lest I think myself a wise man, for I am acutely (and painfully) aware that I know nothing. My quote on the matter would be along the lines of:
A self-conscious, self-aware, enlightened individual comes to realize he knows nothing. One who knows the real, the absolute truth is truly wise, yet only if a perfect being (one in which nothing greater can be imagined) exists to verify this knowledge of the truth. And we’ve already discussed this.
It’s so sad, this unawareness, this uncertainty. This era I live in leaves me with nothing to do save sit and ponder. There was just never any time and place for me.
How often was I “that guy” in a beautiful light? How many times was I perfect for the moment, at that perfect setting and perfect situation? How many people owe their lives to me, physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally? How many times was I beyond human? How many times the man of the hour? moment? brief second? How many people did I affect positively? Was there something I did that will force people to remember me? How many will really care when I’m gone?
Zero. No. None.
As I sit in bed, worry starts creeping across my brain like rapid frost on a window during a cold winter night. Death, tactlessness, sanity, anxiety, helplessness, fear, all cloud my thoughts.
So I turn to God that I might fall asleep.
As I turn to him, I do so, not in prayer, but in awareness of our conscientious selves, perhaps through the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and I feel God reaching out to me, or I to him, while neither of us move. He pulls me toward Him with his emotional ecstasy, his well-being, benevolence, and so forth.
I do not speak to God; I think he may be speaking to me; I only see azure skies as I float toward paradise.
Then He reveals heaven, the skies scatter. He brings me past planets and stars at an infinitely slow pace yet traveling across all infinity.
I begin to slow as I approach the Lord our God; still light-years away from Him is enough for the flaming sword to hinder my vision.
In my hand the entire time I hold a menorah with seven candles shedding eternal, blistering light.
The fire burns me but I look to the Lord for help while suspended in the universe.
I plea with all my heart praying He will hear, knowing He will, yet wondering if He’ll respond.
He faces me with piercing eyes; inexplicable soul-piercing eyes that I could and would not tear away from for eternity were he to let me gaze for that long. The source of all light, incomparably beautiful; a thousand raptures I feel.
My soul almost crumbles; the Lord says nothing but His right hand rises gesturing me to let go.
I do not once move my eyes from the eternal creator, albeit my hand slowly relaxes; the heat of the candles lessens as they slowly drift from me.
But as one of the fallen, I falter and the candles cease all movement toward the Lord and continue to burn me.
Once again I feel the soothing rapture, without words, tell me to let go.
The candles slowly fade after I let go completely. They blend in with the light of the Lord or diminish, I know not which.
My cares, worries and fears undone and dissipated, the fire extinguished, the frost melted, and I fall into a deep content slumber.
This poem was based off of what I wrote that night:
A ubiquitous ear
The source of light
Hearing my prayer
As I pray at night
My worries and fears
Represented by a menorah
In my head for years
Seven candles creating horror
A revelation, described by some
As a manifestation of the divine
Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come
And so there was mine
God heard my imploration
And took my candles from sight
In, of course, my revelation
Now I sleep at night
A ubiquitous ear
The source of light
Hearing my prayer
As a I pray at night
I sometimes have a propensity to write words and essays about myself, as we all probably do. It’s hard to disconnect yourself from something like yourself. And you have to write what you know; I know myself and I know that I know nothing, that’s about it. But I want to try to write without thinking of myself, with at least the intention of not writing about myself. And ironically here I sit, having used the “I” word so many times already. But for this essay, I do want something about all of us.
And I want something for all of us.
Most people were born equipped to deal with life. But some were not. And it’s a terrible thing not being born equipped to deal with life, twofold, because foremost you aren’t equipped to handle the sadness, the strain, the difficulties that this life inexorably thrusts unto your life, and second is that those that were born equipped to deal with that life, don’t exactly understand or don’t show any compassion or kindness to those that weren’t. I’m not saying what I am or what anyone is: that is a truth people have to discover about themselves as they grow.
And where does it end? I suppose it ends in a life where you continue one, or you don’t. Those equipped, continue on fine; with the right means and ambition, they continue on happily. Those ill-equipped are either sad and remain sad forever, coming to a point of despair, and then either pushing through and falling on plane of stoic jaded existence where they wait to die, or else they close that gap from that moment of despair until death.
Why aren’t some of us equipped to deal with life? Why are we sad? Various reasons. Many varying reasons and all relative and all useable and all not feasible at the same point (depending on the person in comparison or the one making the call). We want other aspects than what we have perhaps. We dream of other worlds that would make us happy; we dream of other lives that, if it could just be ours, we could be happy then. If we possessed and lived in some other lot in the world, we could make due and sit back with a contented smile and utter, “At last…”
I for one need to start taking on the flip side of this human conditioned coin: for if we, or even just I, am sitting here wondering and hoping for the life that is a step up from my lot, what if another world exists that dreams so longingly for our world? What if our world is magical to some other wholly insipid world?
Because we long for dragons. But truth be told, we do have dogs. Beautiful seeing eye dogs that guide us. Pups that sit at our feet, bring us, share with us, their few precious toys in their meager existence. Dogs that would tear out a strangers throat if they meant us ill. And dogs that only have the thought (perhaps with food edging in) of how much they love us, so much that it causes them to bark at us and mingle with our legs. And yet we don’t notice fully, because we want a dragon that would burn down the fucking world for us if we asked it too. Maybe there’s another world, another life, where people long for a dog to love them and will never acquire that, just as we’ll never acquire the dragon.
We want telepathy, though we have this beautiful ability to communicate with each other with our sometimes melodic voices. But we want to be able to speak to each other with our minds to truly communicate. Perhaps this other world longs for their tongues to be unbound so that they might even begin an attempt at speaking with one another instead of staring and always wondering…
We want to be able to fly, to disregard gravity and all its shackles. But we do have the ability to walk wherever we desire, we have the ability to swim if we reach a place we cannot walk. We go many places we are free to. The people from this other life, they might be sitting, literally, bound to the confines of their personal space, and hindered for their lives never knowing the feeling of movement. But we want to soar above the earth, not merely traverse its lands and oceans needing to touch them.
We want starships and light speed. We have these vehicles that allow us to drive at tens of miles per hour, what no person before the invention of the automobile thought any sane person would believe. We value our time so much that we cringe if we have to wait for a matter of minutes for most anything, and this vehicle has offered us back so much of that time, when before, much of our life would have been spent walking to these desired locations. Another life might be wishing for the ability to drive a simple automobile, a simple car. But we want bigger, always faster.
And immortality, we often wish for, even to our own early demise at times. We want to live forever; that might offer us happiness if we possessed the prospect, when dealing with our daily lives, that we would always continue on, always have a hope and a future with something better for us. At the least we want the endless opportunity. But maybe there exists a life wherein the denizens want nothing more than to live more than a mere twenty. Perhaps some world exists where they wish they could be born to live longer than a few years, a few moments, or even more than a day. We have the time to do as we wish, even in this short life, if we only possess the energy and inclination: yet, still, we want eternity.
We want riches beyond belief, the endless piles of money so we could sort through our troubles with it and use it to fulfill those goals and crazy extravagant ideas. Perhaps some other world of people wants nothing more than to be able to feed themselves; perhaps they wished they didn’t perpetually live a life with nothing in their bellies. Perhaps they wished they had money for something besides huts. Maybe they wish they were advanced enough to even have money. Hell, maybe they’re glad they don’t have this one.
We wish for no pain, none at all. But what if there’s a realm wherein pain is the currency, the day to day, the life they lead, their work, and their play. What if they look at our planet and wish for our pain that only comes from time to time, and only sometimes terribly. They long for sometimes, rather than relentless.
I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this list I’ve compiled of some aspects of life that people desire, and perhaps many people don’t want what I do, or any of this. But regardless, in thinking of all of us, and how maybe it’s impossible for any of us to be content, regardless of the situation, is a sincere want.
Maybe humans were made, or came about, with an innate inability for contentedness; maybe it’s why we continually progress and strive for greater things; maybe that’s why we have it so much better than some of those in the past; maybe that was the plan all along, whoever’s it might be. But that doesn’t change my want and hope, though it likely will never come to pass.
I hope you find happiness, or that it finds you.
To begin to even write about the soul is difficult based on the numerous definitions that people have made and used for it. For the sake of this essay and for brevity, I’m not attempting to redefine what the, or a, soul actually is. I’m not bringing up a new word, nor am I trying to argue semantics during any part of it; I’ll simply be going on the general historical consensus of the soul, but working out the grander scheme of it, and if we, or other beings, possess one or not, and also what those important facets are. I’ll try not to refute or contradict myself: This basically means that a soul is immortal, or for certain reasons, at minimum, what we call invincible. That is to say, it either exists forever, or, that no one and nothing can destroy it, but that it can cease to exist (somehow). And of course it means that if it is the former of these, immortal, that it is invincible and indestructible as well. To further clarify, the soul, if it exists, is either immortal and invincible, or it is only invincible for the amount of time it exists. I would normally say that the soul, when we speak of it, is always immortal, but I believe many people throughout history disagree; some think the soul is there, but can die and become nothing. Further, the soul is from someplace else, i.e. a netherworld, heaven, an afterlife, etc. or at least it goes there at some point (if of course it doesn’t continually inhabit the physical universe after it has been created). This facet of the soul also builds on the idea that the soul is incorporeal, nonmaterial, and having some other properties that are inexplicable and metaphysical. And the last facet of the soul is one more up for debate and theory, and this aspect is that the soul is not exclusively dependent on humans for existence, though it most certainly could, and may, be. This means that the soul could be exclusive to humans on planet earth, but the possibility remains that animals, plants, planets, etc. all have souls. Further, other life forms could exist in other parts of the universe that possess souls. The definition is generally agreed upon to be self-aware and exist. It is a sentient being that lives forever.
The Contingent of the soul, however, leaves much more for speculation and debate. The first point of discussion arises when one considers where their soul came from, not from whence it came, but rather what it was contingent upon for its existence. For example, if one of your parents had conceived a child with another person, would your soul still have the possibility of its existence? Or could any person have created your soul? Because your soul may or may not be contingent upon both your parents, one of your parents, or neither at all. And this question may be solved by later questions that I will address. But the first path of contingency, both of your parents being necessary for your inner “I” for your soul, is feasible, because only your specific body and genetics could have existed because of your two specific parents (and everyone in their line specifically prior to them), and thus, your soul and sentience might have been equally contingent upon both of your parents making your sentient soul. But perhaps only a small fragment of one of their lives was necessary for you to be the soul, the self-aware being, that you intrinsically are. To bolster this argument further, one could simply say that no genetic requirements are in place for the soul that makes you self-aware and sentient, i.e. that your soul could have come about in any setting, in any place, in any time, and the “you” or the inner “I” would have simply existed with the same self-awareness and the same sentience, but possessed different genetics and a different setting, personality (most likely) and so forth.
The Point of the soul is what the Contingent brings me to. As far as I can discern, there exist only three places where a soul could have existed, and in one of the cases, where it began to exist. The first Point where it could be, is that it stretches infinitely backwards in time and will continue to stretch infinitely forward in time; it always existed and always will. The second Point is one in which the soul could have manifested itself, or have been manifested by something else (be it the universe or a god or God, etc.). This is a more troubling Point because this one involves a specific place and a specific creation. That is to say, that the soul came into existence at a certain time. And as far as I think, the only logical place for that to come in is at the moment of conception. When a child is created, that instant when the sperm meets egg and something more than either one has been synergistically created, is the only good place I think to know when a soul might have come into existence. As stated, God, or something else, could have created this as He She or It created the body (or for that matter the universe as a whole could create the soul with the body as well). It is important to remember that even though God, if He She or It were indeed perfect, then He She or It could make the soul at any point He She or It wanted. The only reasonable place to me though is conception, as a new being is created, albeit physically, and thus I would infer that a new soul was created, if one even is. On this note, the last Point, one in which there really is no Point at all, of the soul is of course that the soul does not exist; it does not stretch infinitely backwards in time, nor does it stretch infinitely forwards in time: it never has, and it never will.
The Destination of the soul is the last facet of speculation. Whether or not and to where the soul continues on after the death of the body is also of some concern, though some, myself included, would say that as long as the soul exists, and is going somewhere that isn’t wholly unpleasant, that they aren’t as concerned. Of course for many religions, the main convention is that the soul goes on to the heaven, or the afterlife. This notion seems to coincide with the belief that the soul was created at conception, because if the soul was created at that point, then it can continue on to an afterlife that it has not been to (and clearly has no memory of). This is also contingent upon the definition of a soul being eternal. Further, though this is not strictly dependent on the fact that the soul was created at conception, the soul could have traveled back from the netherworld from whence it came. That is, if the soul was not created at conception, and it has existed eternally backwards in time, it may simply go back to the place it came from when the mortal body dies. After considering an afterlife or a return to its origin, the last possibility is that the soul inhabits numerous (if not infinite) bodies in the physical universe. This is not dependent on the soul being eternally backwards in time, because a soul could begin to inhabit bodies once it was created at conception. But also, the soul could be eternally backwards in time, and also have inhabited bodies in the physical universe since eternity. E.g., I could have had this conversation a thousand times in thousand different times in a thousand different bodies in a thousand different places and will do so a thousand thousand more times without ever being aware that this is the case, and also without ever being aware that I have done so. And last, if the soul does inhabit different bodies, rather than traveling to its netherworld or to an afterlife, it is important to remember that it might not exclusively inhabit human bodies, but also other forms of living beings, and even the plants and the planets (not to mention other beings that are similar, if not identical to us humans on Earth).
It remains frightening to even theorize that the soul might not exist, for if it doesn’t, I can find very little meaning in life, beyond reproducing, and being remembered for what I did and was. Even more frightening, if all of humans die, and we were the only beings in the universe, and none of us possess souls, then all of us will be forgotten, not even being there to remember each other, and everything we have done will have been for nothing. Even our pleasures, our love, our laughter, if it turns to nothingness, and our posterity turns to nothingness, then none of it matters and never did. I sincerely and desperately hope that this is not the case.