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ChineseCyberEspionage

With all of this spread of fear-mongering about the American Big Brother as details of the NSA’s cyber-surveillance program is surfacing, I’d like to turn our attention to a nation that actually actively goes far beyond merely surveillancing Internet traffic, and conducts routine cyber-attacks, massive cyber-data collection runs, and breaks directly into people’s online accounts and computers: the People’s Republic of China. Now, I don’t mean to contribute to already growing Sinophobia, but this has to be said. In the light of this recent NSA digital surveillance hype, and the trap of myopic double-standards and hypocrisies we Westerners frequently subject our own states and institutions to, we often ignore other states, like China, who are conducting far more horrendous and atrocious human rights breeches.

I also want to bring this up given this fact: that “Edward Snowden” (if that is his real name) is blowing the whistle on the NSA, not from neutral Switzerland, nor from a freedom-loving Scandinavian country, nor even a Latin American country’s embassy like Ecuador (where Julian Assange is now a political refugee) — he is blowing the whistle on the NSA from Hong Kong, China. How conveniently in lined with a certain nation’s geopolitical strategy. (I wonder which one, hmm!)

Mind you, I do appreciate the self-correcting nature of blowing the whistle on the NSA’s digital surveillance program, but we’re overlooking a much more fundamental player in the cybersphere’s geopolitical grand scheme of things: China. And why is “Edward Snowden” blowing the whistle from China? It certainly is within China’s geopolitical interests to support such destabilizing activities against the US government, but is China actually supporting it? They won’t say (and they’ve always denied involvement in all of their hacking / cyber data-run scandals). But I think we have reasonable grounds to at least suspect Chinese involvement in — even an effort to covertly co-opt and infiltrate — our fight for our Electronic and Internet freedom.

Let’s take a brief look at the “People’s” Republic of China’s Internet surveillance track record:

The Great Firewall of China, in which all in-coming and out-going traffic is monitored through and through.

GHOSTNET, and other botnets, a massive botnet used to spy on Tibetan, Taiwanese, and Chinese dissidents operating outside of China (including the Dali Lama’s own offices)

- Mass-scale industrial and military espionage. Most notable recent example (that has gone reported): breaking into Boeing and stealing plans for the F-35, among other things.

- Routine Cyber-reconnaissance of both critical and noncritical infrastructure, including telephone surveillance, web traffic, and your own e-mail account. Unlike the NSA, who must (and did) appeal to a court to attain warrants for monitoring ISPs and phone conversations, the Chinese don’t even bother with this step, and just break in and take what they want. Also, if you’ve read this post, chances are that you have probably had your e-mail account compromised by Chinese hackers, or Chinese botnets, more than once in the past 5 years. (*You should turn on two-step authentication to avoid this.) Where does this data go, what are the Chinese doing with it, why are they doing this, and why isn’t anyone making a big deal out of it? The NSA goes through a judicial process to receive its rights to wiretap — the Chinese cyber army on the other hand just hack in and do what they want, regardless of international law, or even without causing diplomatic strains.

The concern I’m pressing here is not only China’s repeated human rights violations at home domestically, but also their massive data-runs being undertaken abroad against foreign states — collecting of accounts and logs from you and me. I am also raising the issue of the West’s double-standards. The NSA has a surveillance program to potentially monitor internet traffic and phone conversations in order to combat terrorism and criminal activity (*and I also think the NSA is also trying to monitor Chinese, Iranian, and Russian cyber activities against the USA), whereas the Chinese receive practically no attention for breaking into our accounts and compiling massive databases to profile Western citizens.

Yet, there is only an outcry when the NSA is discovered to monitor data of American citizens — an agency doing it out of serious national security interest, as one of the US’s greatest military/terrorist vulnerabilities is its cybersphere — yet nothing is said or done about the Chinese Big Brother that monitors the rest of the globe. This ‘Chinese Big Brother’, I must reiterate, goes far beyond merely monitoring internet traffic (which the NSA does), but proactively engages in routine hacking, cyber-espionage, covert establishments of data-collecting botnets, and compiles massive databases about Western citizens, our networks, servers, our corporations, and our institutions — and this is all done for the sake of Chinese national self-interests of state, and nothing else.

Why are Chinese hackers repeatedly conducting massive, sweeping surveillance of Western e-mail accounts, consumer and banking information? And why isn’t anyone blowing the whistle or making issue of this? The answer is that this is a part of a greater cyber-arms race — one of the US’s biggest vulnerabilities is its digital infrastructure, both military and civilian, and its something that can be carried out relatively inexpensively than mobilizing for an all-out conventional or nuclear  war with the US — but I will reserve discussion of this for a future post.

In sum, Pax Americana (or if you prefer: Bellum Americanum) may not be a utopia by any means, but don’t play your ambitions into the  Shanghai Cooperative Organization’s hands. One way or another, we must and will confront the cyber-army / cyber-espionage / cyber-Big Brother menace. Be it a home-grown American Big Brother, or the Middle Kingdom’s Cyber Mandate of Heaven.

Cisgender? Cis-male or cis-female? Amusing way to denigrate the past 1.2 billion years of sexual evolution — because, you know, human emotions, and individual human insecurities are so much more superior than the very faculty of sapience that evolution bestowed upon us in the first place to undergo such identity exploration. And of course, Nature obeys human laws and human systems of morality and human modes of fairness so well, doesn’t She?

May as well start calling ourselves cis-human, cis-sentient, cis-sober, cis-organic.

Who is going to — or better, when — seriously start using a concept like “cis-humanness”, “cis-sentience”, “cis-sobriety” (esp. in relation to drug-induced states), and “cis-organic” in the mainstream? No one; not until people actually start moving in that direction — not until you start seeing people wanting to become neko-furries “in real life” (and start calling you cis-human), or cyborg/fully-silicon-based life (calling you cis-organic.). Then we’ll start seeing people guilt tripping the entire species by various new “cis-” binaries. And yes, “cis” itself creates an “other” like no other.

The intellectual sphere has been taken over by a mentality of after-the-fact, overly elaborate rationalizations — the excuse-making mentality — a grasping for straws in the form of the pedantic rhetoric in order to find refuge for their own insecurities, and the fact that many of us are simply too weak-willed to just be for the sake of being without justifying to others (or to our own selves?) — or without feeling the need to recruit others into our elaborately rhetorical excuse for being.

The same old Holy Language of the Academia has become “re-appropriated”, a language with more words derived from Greek and Latin (cisgender?), than our street-Walmart-Foxnews-Social Media dialects, which gives one the delusion of being empowered — a delusion, again, stemming from being weak-willed.

One of the consequences of the herd thinking they’ve become intellectually aware — also called mass literacy and increased university attendance — is its arming with a new pedantic ethos that tricks them into thinking they’ve become empowered or liberated because they can pull from Latinate and Hellenic vocabulary to rationally justify their herd-like urgings of pleasure-seeking, need for acceptance and others to conform to them, responsibility-less living, and decadence. In short, a desperate grasping at straws, and reception of a royal scepter that is nothing more than a phantom.

How much of human intellectual history is dominated by nothing but a vast elaboration of bad excuses, and backward rationalizations?

But we are weak and intellectually indulgent creatures — frolicking between self-indulged intellectual masturbation, and desperate need-for-acceptance excuse-making — both of which delight us with a certain Urgrund will to power. But Nature is the harshest of mistresses, and bleed will She us white until our delusions and flesh have been filtered by the blood-strainer of victory and defeat — until the very fabric of civilization has erupted into a state of total war,collapse, and the ruthlessly indiscriminate genocide that is the survival of the fittest.

Unfortunately, the fittest are not necessarily the most strong, intelligent, or right — they are just those who are left.

A new Critique of Pure Reason or a new Incoherence of the Philosophers is waiting to be written — highlight the delusions of our rationalizing excuse-making mentalities that abuses philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, and science, and the tendency for such a mind to utterly ignore the necessarily spontaneous, requisite, primordial conditions for thought — or identity searching in the context of this post — in the first place.

Or, maybe I’m reading too much Transmetropolitan and Slavoj Zizek lately.

-Ism

MmeEAscii_Blue2

Madame Einzige: A Thematic Outline (Part 1/2)

Introduction – “Ex Nihilo”: Origins in European Nihilism — The Banality of Evil — Germany: Unified, Conquered, Divided, Occupied — Germany: The Legacy of the Statist Frankenstein –

(Written by Ismael Sarepta)

Madame Einzige is an upcoming philosophical epic Cypherpunk novel series, drawing from the author’s intense research of political science, technology, computing, philosophy, psychology — in which historical pattern is combined with speculative imagination, into a prophetic synthesis.

It is a novel series, where religious theocracies weave technologies of virtual-reality, cyberspace, and mass surveillance into State-wide system of totalitarianism, in order to magnify the holy and majestic feelings with God and Clergy;

Where disenfranchised, disillusioned, cyber-prosthetic U.S. veterans violently take up arms against a government that failed to re-integrate them into society, and failed to uphold the American values they risked their lives for;

Where socially neglected computer nerds and failed upstarts realize themselves as the medium through which democracy may defend itself — through hacktivism, and going beyond mere website vandalism to do it and discover the political empowerment of the personal computer.

[Caption: Disenfranchised young U.S. Veterans throwing away their medals during protest. Historically, discharged war veterans that have failed to be re-integrated into society have been the first to organize revolts against the State. Will the same happen to the United States in the 21st century?]It is a novel series where occult-obsessed mathematicians and computer scientists crunch combinatorial sets and sacred permutations in order to develop algorithms for self-aware, disembodied Artificial Intelligences that instantly prophecize the future from petabytes of mined Informatics data;

Where war vets and megalomaniacs form Private Military Companies, offering their services to dictators and warlords, and are paid in land, market-monopolies, drugs, and an exploitable labor force;

Where certain corporations, under the guise of faux-humanitarianism and anti-piracy (and knowing that most piracy actually takes place outside of Western nations), attempt to replace the personal computer in developing countries, by selling mass, nationwide Cloud-computing, Mainframe-like networks to these countries, enabling their governments to data-mine the Cloud for anyone deemed a dissident, criminal, revolutionary, or spy–

[Caption: Topological Map of the "Backbone" of the Internet (click to enlarge, PDF) -- how much is humanity's presence on the Web an accurate portrayal of us? How much does your online presence accurately portray you? Can the sum of humanity's recorded interactions with a computer really be used to predict our future?] 

Madame Einzige is epic storytelling in which reality and art, analysis and imagination, science and mythopoesis, narration and reporting, blend seamlessly together for the Zeitgeist of the Third Millennium.

Art imitates life: life imitates art.

“Ex Nihilo”: Origins in European Nihilism

The origins of our protagonist, our Cypherpunk (anti-)heroine take us to the very beginnings of this postmodern era of Pax Americanaour era, following the Second World War, defined by the political and cultural ascendancy of the United States, and prevalence of what we have come loosely to understand as “free market capitalism” and “democracy”. The origins of our Cyberpunk protagonist take us to the Climax of Europe’s collective paranoid angst — that is, the Two World Wars — that angst that unwitting drove Europe’s hegemonic, imperial, nationalistic, war-hawk path to self-destruction.

[Read more]

huesoflife asked you:
Hi I happened upon your tumblr because you liked one of my posts. Your posts are very intellectually stimulating so that makes me wonder, what are some of your favorite books? Also, I noticed that you have a myriad of interests, what major did you pursue in college, if you don’t mind me asking?

Why thank you!

I apologize if this post is a little long, but do hope it will be interesting. Probably best to read it in small bites.

As you may have guessed, since I do have a very wide range of interests, it’s quite a task for me to pick out my favorite books! I do read a lot of books, but I also learn by watching lectures, documentaries, listening to audiobooks, talking to people, and even just taking what I’ve learned and applying it to experiences. I also read academic papers, encyclopedias (not just Wikipedia), or sometimes I’ll just read a chapter from a book. I think how I’ll reply to your question is that I’ll mention at subjects and bodies of work in general. Here goes—

The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially Beyond Good and Evil, his essay called On Truth and Lies in a Non-moral Sense, and a book called The Gay Science (sometimes translated as The Joyful Wisdom). Unlike many philosophers, Nietzsche’s writings are very accessible for anyone with a pretty good command of whatever language they’re reading him in.

Among many things, Nietzsche’s work centers around highlighting the inherent dissonance between human consciousdesires, reason, and our spontaneous organic nature (actually, for Nietzsche, reason is intimately bound up in being afunction of our organic-nature selves. Same goes with our conscious desires.) Put in modern Cognitive Science/Psychology terms, he’s pointing out the dissonance and the unity of humanexecutive functions, instinct, personality characteristics, habituation, and the subconscious, but also the unity that this internal conflict leads to.

These were revolutionary ideas for the 19th century, hugely influential on Freud and the foundation of modern psychology, and still remains a prominent force in modern philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology. However, I don’t believe Nietzsche’s critique has been fully appreciated or realized by the public at large, or by science.

As well, I do like Nietzsche’s breaking downexceptionalism and the sorts of myths we tell ourselves in order to conceive of such exceptionalism. Exceptionalism is the belief that a particular group is superior because this group is totally separate from underlying patterns and conditions that affect all things — it either wasn’t effect by them, or overcame them wholly. He does a lot of critiquing ofGerman exceptionalism (he was German himself, and German nationalism was starting to pick up as a prominent political force when he was writing in the late 19th century [Germany didn’t become a unified nation until 1871]), Western Christian exceptionalism(especially Protestantism), European exceptionalism and Europe’s imperial heritage, and I think most importantly, Human exceptionalism, and our tendency to try to separate us from Nature and animals.

Yet, another major theme in Nietzsche is the universal nature and diversity of humanity, and the universal nature ofconditions and patterns that make up all organisms, including humans.

His concept of “Philosophical Genealogy” (this warrants a future essay to get into!) is also a major influence on my approach to human history, politics, and even to some extent my approach to what’s cutely being called “Big History”.

Big History is a vast interdisciplinary approach to history that looks over mass time scales of the past 14.5 billion years of the universe. It studies the evolution of physical forces, the elements and substances, the origin of life, biological systems and the biosphere, and in particular how all of this has formed human origins and history. David Christian is the main figure in this discipline — and while I’m not 100% in agreement with all of his work, I do strongly recommend his work, and I think his approach to history is just awesome.

The Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) by Immanual Kant. This book is a dense read. It was written in the late 18th century, and it’s a critique of the philosophical-scientific traditional as it was known at the time. The main thesis of the book is pointing out that  reason, judgement, sensation, and the sorts of insight we can gather from experimentation and speculation, are entirely dependent on us as a spontaneously organized orgasm. Reason does not exist in a void — reason is conditioned by the limitations of our experience and the mind. There’s a tendency in many of us intellectual inclined to naively value this “pure reason” and totally ignore the spontaneous, non-rational conditions that make all of our experiences possible (including what we can and cannot think about) in the first place.

Of course, the Critique goes much deeper than this. It immensely influenced Albert Einstein, many scientists from the 19th century, and many Quantum scientists of the 20th. It was probably a reading inspired by Kant that got Einstein to seriously think about the nature of the Observer, and how the Observer influences the very experiment he is trying to conduct by just observing it. (Probably also some Hegel in there, and Ernst Mach.)

Unfortunately,  Kant’s work is neglected by scientists these days — which I don’t blame them for, because “professional philosophy” practiced in the academia is becoming a very, very, very pedantic and pretentious subject, filled with useless dogmatic schisms over hair-splitting trifles. There’s also a lot of hyper-specialization going on in the academia, which prevents these multi-disciplinary insights. (See my essay on this subject [link].)

But I do think Kant has some very valuable insight into modern scientific practices and investigations. For instance, we see how much emphasis is placed in science nowadays onsimulation, data-mining, and certain paradigms that neglect the influence of the observer; or how there is a tendency in science to assume a one-to-one congruency of human conception about an observable phenomenon, and with what’s actually happening. We humans — as thinking, sensing beings — are intimately part of the very experiments that we conduct, and the very patterns we try to investigate.

A reading of Kant can give us valuable insight into this… But if you’re not already into philosophy, it’s a *very* time consuming process to go back and read Kant. I don’t recommend it. You’d have to read who he’s reacting to, reinterpret him in his historical context, and view him in the light of recent developments in science and math if you want him to be a gainful read, etc etc. Basically, we need a new commentator to step up and have another look at Kant for 21st century science and math. Maybe that’ll be me in a few years ;-)

Writings of Stephen Jay Gould. He does a lot of work on Evolution, especially breaking down myths about evolution (mths both by Creationists, and people who accept evolution). He does a lot to smash this notion of teleology in evolution (the view that things evolve for a purpose), and a lot of valuable insight into human nature, underlying patterns in biology, etc. He’s also a very accessible and fun read — I highly recommend all of his books!

Favorite historians are Oswald Spengler and Ibn Khaldun — not that I think they were entirely right about everything they wrote (hardly!), but their approach to history is revolutionary. They focused on the collective, aggregateresults of human nature, especially human historical and sociological behavior, as something that can be understood in a greater World-System. There is also an understanding of human civilization, or particular kinds of civilizations, as a kind of organism.

As far as literature goes, hmm. Ludimagister has reminded me how much I love Goethe. The Romantics of the early 19th century — I love their seamless mixing of philosophy, mysticism, and science. William Blake, Percy & Mary Shelley,Schiller… Many 19th century poets actually drew a lot from the scientific tradition, like Robert Frost who actually wrote quite a bit about entropy and heat-death (which arrogant English majors don’t even realize!)

Also am quite fond of political writers like Joseph Conrad,George Orwell.  Russian literature, especially Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Turgenev, Gogol.

Very fond of cyberpunk, certain science-fiction, historical fiction. And I read a lot of old religious texts and mythology.

Second part of your question:

In university, I majored specifically in Archaeology and Philosophy. (Double-major was required at the particular institution)

But I’ve been self-taught in many subjects since a very early age. As a small child, I used to spend hours at a time watch Discover Channel and TLC (back when it was aboutactually learning) on evolution, astronomy, psychology. My parents weren’t into such things, but they were into politics, so I had an early age exposure to political arguments at the dinner table. Slowly, that turned into an interest into philosophy and politics, then into history, I’ve stuck with it since.

Not to discourage others who, but at least in my particular case, university was the least productive learning experience in my entire life.

Update:

Btw, I absolutely love your art. Phenomenal astronomy work, wow, completely awe-inspiring. I highly recommend everyone to check it out! [Link to gallery]

Several days ago, Lawrence Lessig, a friend and legal adviser for Aaron Swartz  released this statement regarding Aaron’s death (source):

(Some will say this is not the time. I disagree. This is the time when every mixed emotion needs to find voice.)

Since his arrest in January, 2011, I have known more about the events that began this spiral than I have wanted to know. Aaron consulted me as a friend and lawyer. He shared with me what went down and why, and I worked with him to get help. When my obligations to Harvard created a conflict that made it impossible for me to continue as a lawyer, I continued as a friend. Not a good enough friend, no doubt, but nothing was going to draw that friendship into doubt.

The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist:

Please don’t pathologize this story.

No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.

First, of course, Aaron brought Aaron here. As I said when I wrote about the case (when obligations required I say something publicly), if what the government alleged was true — and I say “if” because I am not revealing what Aaron said to me then — then what he did was wrong. And if not legally wrong, then at least morally wrong. The causes that Aaron fought for are my causes too. But as much as I respect those who disagree with me about this, these means are not mine.

But all this shows is that if the government proved its case, some punishment was appropriate. So what was that appropriate punishment? Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutor’s behavior. From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash ofACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.” He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work building a free public library, to his work supporting Change Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.

For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.

Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

One word, and endless tears.

First, my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Aaron Swartz. For those of you unaware, he was notable Hacktivist, Social Justice advocate, Web programmer (who helped with the early stages of the RSS standard), and co-founder of Reddit, proponent of Creative Commons and Free Software. Brilliant young man, and child prodigy.

He is also known for one other thing. Back in January 2011, Aaron was charged for illegally downloading millions of academic papers from academic databases. If he would be convicted (his trial wasn’t set to start until April 1st, 2013), he would potentially face 50 years behind bars. On Friday January 11th 2013, his body was found hanged in his apartment — Aaron would rather have taken his own life, than be forced to live the dismal life as a convict in the American prison system.

The decision for him to end his own life was extreme and shocking, no doubt — but even more extreme and shocking is the State’s handling of his supposed crime of downloading academic publications: Fifty years behind bars. Aaron was not a murderer, not a rapist, not a bank robber; he was not a drug dealer, he was not a terrorist, he was not a foreign spy. He did not join the Taliban and plot terrorist attacks against America in Afghanistan.

No.

Aaron’s  only crime was supposedly illegally downloading academic papersand we will see that he didn’t even do that– a man who smuggled the invaluable riches of Knowledge through dangerous lands of marauding, bloodthirsty, barbarous tribes of the Corporation, who wait by well-traveled roads with submachine guns and SWAT gear, ready punish anyone who brings such Knowledge without paying the toll-tax. Aaron was captured by one such barbarous tribe, and paraded humiliatingly in front of the Corporate Aristocrats’s tribunal like they’d finally caught some heretical leader of a rebellion: “WE GOT ‘EM! Fifty years for pirating books!”

Mainstream Media has been having a field day misconstruing this entire Aaron Swartz story.  Let me clear up a few things. First thing’s first, what exactly did Aaron do? He ran a script that mass downloaded academic papers from the academic paper database known as JSTOR – papers that were already freely accessibly to anyone with a guest account at MIT (and many other academic institutions throughout the world.) He did not hack into any accounts to access these files, he did not even download files illegally — no, everything he did was fully legal and within the Terms-of-Service of MIT and JSTOR. It is the equivalent of running a mass downloader to take already availiable free books from Project Gutenberg or pages from Wikipedia, or for taking out too many books at the library. (source)

The system administrator who discovered Aaron’s automated downloading on the MIT campus, upon noticing the laptop and the spike in web traffic, overreacted and jumped the gun, and performed no network tests to see what was actually going on (which isn’t hard to do if you’re a system administrator with total logs of all incoming and outgoing traffic, I can assure you — the moron couldn’t be bothered to run Packet Tracer!?!?) He merely accused Aaron of some diabolically evil hacking scheme, and called up Campus Police, who placed Aaron under arrest for cybercrime. The FBI had then been informed. Eventually, MIT and JTSOR dropped the charges — yes, JSTOR, the company that Aaron downloaded the papers from had dropped the chargesbut the FBI were still pushing for charges until the day Aaron died!

The Prosecution and the FBI were the ONLY ONES to push chargesnot MIT and not JSTOR, who understood Aaron to be doing everything entirely within the bounds of their own Terms of Service. The FBI and the Prosecution had been acting entirely on their own to paint Aaron — someone who legally downloaded academic papers with the later approval of JSTOR — as some kind of evil hacker seeking personal financial gain. MIT and JSTOR already dropped charges, and yet the FBI and Prosecution were pushing Aaron’s jail time for 50 years?

The FBI and the State Prosecution have GONE ROGUE – this is Vigilante Government, this is Big Government mustering together all of their corporate-state bestowed powers together in order to grasp at straws, and misdirect justice with their biases of Aaron as some kind of evil cyberterrorist for downloading too many free articles. Do the State Prosecution and FBI even know how actual cybercrime looks?

Because JSTOR and MIT chose to drop the charges against Aaron, the prosecution had to change their focus. They claimed he was acting for the purpose of financial gain — that he was going to supposedly sell these articles JSTOR already makes a available to anyone with an account. The Vigilante Government is grasping at straws to make their case somewhat plausible. Really, are you going to try to accuse a well-known Internet activist and philanthropist of profiteering from JSTOR papers — papers read by a handful of people for the duration of its internet shelf-life? That’s what your whole prosecution rests on? 50 years in prison for that?

This is proof the State is ignorant of how computers work, that the State is ignorant of how cybercrime actually operates, that the State is irrationally technophobic, and that the State is biased and misguided with its Draconian laws that only benefit the big corporations — yet we even see here the corporations involved didn’t even want that.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Rogue Vigilante State that will drain the West dry of any of its remaining innovation.

Where is the FBI in this pandemic of Email accounts getting hacked en masse daily for passwords, personal information, identity fraud, and credit card data? The State has no one’s interest in mind but the careers of anyone who can make it within its corrupt system.

In the Medieval Ages in Europe, after the collapse of the splendor that was Rome, and the plunder and destruction of the libraries , monasteries, and schools by barbarian tribes, and the rolling back of Europe to the Dark Ages, when the Middle-East and Asia were technologically far more advanced than Western Europe, people used to illegally bootleg and smuggle texts of philosophy, science, engineering, and medicine, from the Orient in order to enlighten their fellow man. Books were expensive, and a taxable commodity — prices that scientists and their patrons could not easily afford, and avoided as much as they could. Smugglers, scientists, and medieval technologists alike lived in fear of the reprisals of the Kings and the Church of what these new fruits of knowledge from the books meant for the world: how they would dramatically challenge the old Medieval ways of thinking, the old Theocratic status quo. Many such smugglers and intellectuals were hanged and burned at the stake, some were imprisoned, others got off with fines and house arrest.

Such smugglers and technologists of Progress is what Aaron Swartz in our 21st century equivalent context is (except for the fact that he hadn’t even stolen anything.)

Grieve as we do for the human price of Aaron’s tragic death, We have much to reflect on the meaning of his decision to download these millions of academic publications and spread them to enlighten the Masses as he has — to download millions of publications, which had previously been stuffed away in the recesses of the megalithic Ivory Tower, never to be seen anyone but a handful of specialists.

We have much to reflect on the meaning of the State’s decision to prosecute Aaron, to consider what he did worthy of 50 years behind bars inside of the American Gulag, and how that subsequently drove him to take his own life.

We have much to reflect on Newspeak words like Fraud and Theft in 21st century Corporate-controlled America, as mainstream media is accusing Aaron Swartz of doing by legally downloading too many academic papers.

And We have much to reflect on Aaron’s martyrdom at the ubiquitous tentacles of this Corporate Police State Empire that the United States is turning into. A Corporate Police State Empire, where so-called “Anti-Piracy Laws” like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA and DMCA, and “anti-Terrorism measures” of PATRIOT Act and and indefinite detection NDAA, and the flying unmanned aerial drones over the skies of America, are serving only to transform the United States into the world’s biggest Pirate and the biggest Terrorist, like something out of a really bad 1980s Sci-Fi dysopia film.

It’s funny how things always tend to turn into exactly the thing it is that they oppose.

As a rogue scholar and autodidact myself, let me enlighten you, my dear reader, on the nature of academic publications. The truth is, the vast majority of all academic publications – the vast majority of these millions of papers that Aaron downloaded — are read by an average of two to five people in the total span of their existence, if even. These publications are only accessible in tightly controlled database websites like JSTOR that require expensive subscriptions, or academic tuition (or tenure) to access. Or, they may be accessible inside of university libraries, which themselves require expensive memberships to access, often with a ridiculous list of restrictions for not being a part of the university. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there.

Access to these publications do not cater to the curious amateur, or to the ambitious self-(Internet)-taught autodidact, or to the rejected academic, or the independent scholar who is only slowed down by academic politics, or the recluse scientist who decides he is going to pursue his love of science despite being shunned by the academic community. Intelligence and Innovation are never measurements of how well someone can promote themselves, or how “nice” a person is — in fact, it’s often the exact opposite. In humility and prudence, the Scientist and the Intellectual often sell themselves short, often to the shun of the academic community, to the neglect of research grants, to crippling self-doubt that leads to the giving up of scientific pursuits altogether.

This kind of elitist, snobbish behavior by these corporate-academic databases to restrict access only to subscribing members is to say this: if you aren’t paying homage to our academic institution, if you aren’t in our elite club of academics, if you have no recognition in our institutions, then you’re a nobody. You  don’t deserve access to “our” publications. Get lost, go figure it out for yourself — or spend $20, 000 a year attending our university, taking courses in subjects you already know, so we can bless you approvingly with a meaningless piece of parchment paper.

Now, the academic authors who write such papers that Aaron purportedly “stole”, are people who have labored tirelessly over years, sometimes decades, carrying out the research, performing experiments to exactitude, reading up on what the other academics have written on the subject, and quadruple-checking it all, presenting their ideas to other academics who might care to listen to them (and usually don’t), and then finally writing the paper. Even if the content of these papers is truly groundbreaking, the chance that these papers will have a substantial impact on the academic community — or even  impact the public — is incredibly nill – unless you have connections.

These academics barely receive any recognition for their work, and receive little to no royalties for their papers. At best, these academics receive a little bit of recognition within the one tiny corner of the academic community they may actually have some standing in. It might help them find grants for future research. What business does a company like JSTOR or MIT have in restricting the public’s access to these groundbreaking science publications, if the authors aren’t even being compensated? What’s happening to those 98% of papers out there that aren’t featured in Nature or Science magazines, or on the big Science / Tech websites, because their impact is just not understood and casually glossed over by a science reporter? What the hell are they doing just rotting away on some database?

There’s another problem in science: REDUNDANCY. Most science that is done in the lab has already done, and only after the scientist has performed the experiment, do they realize it’s already been done. If this corporate-academic complex are just letting millions of these valuable academic papers rot away on some database, and refusing to hand them out because someone isn’t paying for a subscription, then how much are they HOLDING back scientific,  technological, medical, and human progress, with their corporate poll-taxing B.S.!?

What I mean to say is this: For every one of Einstein’s papers on Special and General Theory of Relativity published and receiving press, there were twenty that you’ve never even heard of. Twenty that we’ve never heard of: scientists who have had similar insights, who by random variance — perhaps the paucity of their academic institutions, perhaps the fact that they just weren’t ambitious enough, or maybe their papers weren’t read by the right people to get recognition for it — just didn’t quite experience the same success as Einstein had.

Gregor Mendel‘s (1822-1884) paper on Genetic Inheritance – the first to ever scientifically explore the nature of genetic inheritance — did not receive any recognition when it was published, and was rejected by the academia. It was not until 1900 – that is, *34* years after the publication, and long after Mendel was dead – that his work was “rediscovered” by accident as scientists were sifting through old publications. Mendel’s work, along with that of Charles Darwin, would lay the groundwork for the scientific discipline that we now call Genetics.

Imagine how much more readership — perhaps even patronage for his research — and how much further along would genetics research be! — would have Mendel had if he bootlegged his papers, and made them widely available among amateur, academic, and mad scientist alike? Or better yet, someone else to mass disseminate those papers. A bootlegger — a pirate of academic papers– someone like Aaron Swartz.

How many more Gregor Mendels are out there right now, whose papers won’t be read for another 34 years before they’ll have a lasting impact on the world — all just because the first impression of their paper was received poorly.

It’s also worth reflecting here on just how many scientists and academics past and present have relied on bootlegged manuscripts, pirated texts, and even outright stolen books, to perform work they would have been otherwise unable to afford or have access to. Some names from the past: Michael FaradayLouis PasteurIsaac NewtonAlbert Einstein. Albert Einstein himself worked in a patent office, and personally illegally bootlegged all patents that were of interest to him – patents , which unlike academic publications, are confidential, and it’s a serious breach of confidentiality to bootleg them. I wonder how many years behind bars someone like Albert Einstein would get nowadays under these laws in America for pulling off a stunt like that. 120 years, maybe more? Would he even have time to discover E=MC², with the Corporations and the Law breathing down his throat?

The charges levied against Aaron, and his subsequent suicide — really, murder by proxy by cruel hands of the institutional machine of the Corporate Police State — represents a disturbing trend towards the closing of the doors of innovation in the Western world, and most especially in the United States.

How many more of these laws will Corporations lobby for out from sheer paranoia and fear of grassroots trends toward the freedom of information and the spreading of self-education? How many more brilliant scientists, engineers and intellectuals is the State going to shun from society because they refuse to operate in the cliquish, narrow-mindedness of the academia, which is being transformed into little more than a corporate training center? How many more men like Aaron Swartz is the State and the Corporation going to prosecute and drive to suicide for spreading the Light of Knowledge to humanity?

[Reply from antigravity000:]

[…]

It’s funny though because after reading your message, particularly the part below, I can only nod my head in agreement!

“their reaction to modernity takes the path of least resistance, which has already been laid down for them by the demons of the Liberal Anglo-American machine — Reactionary Nationalism and Reactionary Religiosity.” [my message]

I can’t recall if you’ve read anything by Oswald Spengler, but your own conclusions on modernity, history & philosophy are reminiscent of his discoveries- in other words quite simply sensible & well-rounded!

On Nietzsche, I’m no zealot myself but even when I disagree with some of his topics, his style of writing is really appealing :P Aside from that, despite his sort of life-affirming assertions, there is a streak of cynicism, pessimism, and moral righteousness in his ideas that make their way in via his personality (shaped, understandably, by bad life experiences). I can’t help but notice it.

Maybe you have a different take on this that I’d like to learn of but I can’t really grasp what he expects of the ubermensch, and why this type of man hasn’t already existed- in the Western world at least. If he means that the higher type is a creator of values, then I don’t see why power-grabbers who set their own standards (in political, economic, intellectual realms), possibly Machiavellian types?, aren’t a sort of ubermensch in their own right, those who don’t give in to the norms or take advantage of them to get what they want- out of conscious doing or not[…]

To be honest, I’ve only read only read a bit of Spengler’s Decline of the West(the first two chapters of the first volume). I love him. But. My views on history and everything is the result of my own readings — that said, I’m sure I probably have Spengler’s and Hegel’s influence indirectly through my reading of other historians, or something. I entirely agree with Spengler’s organic approach to history, wherein human societies and civilization has its own emergentqualities and consequences that go far beyond human volition, deliberation, even our comprehension — perhaps even to the point that human civilization is its own neural network of some greater emergent organism. This theory of mine admittedly needs heavy refining and intense research before I go flashing it around, though. :-)

That said, I’m quite (self-)schooled in the German intellectual tradition, so any of my Spengler-esque flashes of insights may just be a convergent coincidencefrom being schooled in the same intellectual fathers! ;-)

Nietzsche is awesome — aesthetically, philosophically, everything, even if you don’t agree with him. But, he is a complicated read, seeming to contradict himself (but I think he’s just writing from different angles — and being humorous/sarcastic/playful more than half of the time. I do that a lot myself, so I can understand where he’s coming from {phenomenologically, at least}.) Reading him in translation, and reading him outside of mid-late 19th century European context, are also two very key barriers to understanding Nietzsche.

Regarding Nietzsche’s cynicism and pessimism, much of these passages are actually instances of morbid humor (black humor, really), absurdity, and, well, deliberately trolling his audience. Take his views on the Jews for instance — I remember a quote from memory where he starts a paragraph, “And Jesus said to his Jews…” — that shit is a straight-up trolling of German anti-Semitic ‘purists’. Nietzsche was a troll of the 19th century industrial printing-press era.

The Übermensch is sort of an ideal, yes, but it has existed historically and still does. But, I agree with you that if the Übermensch hasn’t already existed, there’s no reason why it should suddenly pop into existence. (Especially given Nietzsche’s views on Eternal Reoccurance — why were there no Übermenschen before Nietzsche?) Nietzsche has argued in Geneology of MoralsBeyond Good and Evil, and many other works, that such Übermensch-like individuals have existed in remote antiquity, and right up to his contemporary era (Goethe, Napoleon, and Cesare Borgia to name a few.)

The thing about the Übermensch is that, the Übermensch not a set of beliefs. The Übermensch is not an orthodoxy or orthopraxy. The Übermensch is not a dogmatic position. And the Übermensch is not a philosophical or political partisan position.

I understand that Nietzsche’s Ubermensch is surrounded in myth and strange interpretations of the Ubermensch as some kind of self-entitled, greedy, short-sighted, stuck-up, cut-throat asshole like the kind of douchebag you might encounter at an Objectivist meeting — but that’s not what Nietzsche is saying the Ubermensch is.

What the Übermensch isis a complex of dispositions,instinctstemperamentinclinations, a focus of energies, and a general attitude. The focus of the Ubermensch’s is on personal, individual liberation, on carpe diem, on (relative) self-sufficiently, and on self-empowerment. The Ubermensch is not a political view, nor is the Ubermensch expected to hold particular political views — the Ubermensch is not necessarily a “Libertarian” or a “Communist” or a “Centrist” or a “Socialist” — it’s more in the way the Ubermensch carries out life on a personal level. The Ubermensch concernspersonal attitudes — not political or philosophical positions.

I’m rephrasing here, but: Nietzsche has said many times that consciously formed political and philosophical positions are symptoms of our spontaneous subconsciousness and pre-intellectualizing selves that we might be aware of but will not admit. He also says that these consciously formed positions are determined by the context in which they originate.

Eg., taking a position in the academia or in the public forum is very different than, say, in recruiting for a revolution or getting support for political office —as Mitt Romney has demonstrated with his constant flip-flopping on issues, or Obama’s promise of CHANGE. I’m not suggesting that either of these men are Ubermensch, but I’m (and Nietzsche) saying that the conscious mind and what individuals say about themselves is a tiny fraction of their overall package. Such political/philosophical/religious positions are part-in-parcel to the Will to Power, which is actually this spontaneous subconscious and pre-intellectualizing process that can throw itself into the realm of intellectuality.

Basically, ^ is a lengthy way of saying, survival>all.

The Ubermensch is a strange concept to fathom strictly from the standpoint ofphilosophical argumentation alone — Nietzsche provides no argument. It’s a general framework for self-improvement, maybe even emulation? Maybe it’s better read as a kind of self-help book with philosophical overtones.

Just as an aside, the Ubermensch is actually comparable to Aristotle’s Magninmous Man of the Nichomachian Ethics, and from many tropes from ancient Greek mythoi (the so-called “Dionysian man” of Birth of Tragedy — although there are a plethora of Übermensch-like individuals and tropes from other cultures, as mentioned in Genealogy and even the Antichrist)

ludimagister said (and I strongly recommend his blog. It’s quite good!):

In (hedonistic) utilitarianism, the goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The utility of an action is defined with reference to its consequences on the senses. But, as admirers of Nietzsche, we regard pleasure and pain as accidental outcomes, we choose to ground ourselves in our Will.

Here, in existential utilitarianism, the objective is to maximize existential well-being. The utility of an action is therefore defined with reference to one’s embodied values, grand passions, and life-project—i.e. one’s Will. Instead of pleasure and pain, we focus on meaning and value (not as ‘objectively’ defined, but as defined in relation to one’s own Will). Thus, we would welcome challenges, we would seek challenges, since we seek the fulfillment of our Will. And, the ultimate success for us would be amor fati. This mindset, as a practical tool, would be useful for self-actualization, for self-becoming.

But, beware, this idea is not to be confused with existentialism. Existentialist ideas like the other, the look, bad faith, etc. are irrelevant for us—even misleading.

Any thoughts?

My reply:

The problem with Utilitarianism — and I understand here that Existential Utilitarianism you’re proposing is different the usual school of Utilitarianism, but just bare with me for a moment— is that it’s really just a disguise for the enforcement of some standard of Normativity, especially the enforcement of normative morality and normative value judgement. It assumes that every action and its moral consequence is predictable and equal. It assumes that everyone places the same value on the same things, and that everyone will interpret/react to the same things in the same way. Also assumes that everyone all has the same information available to them.

Worst of all, like many moral theories, it’s based on the biasthat the rational, level-headed, reflective mind, who has been schooled in philosophy, ethics, and the delicacies of high culture, is always there to make good moral judgement with allthe information available. It does not foresee the breakdown of the human organism under mob behavior or in the complexities of political authority. It doesn’t foresee how humans behave under indecision, stress, suffering, sickness, violence, or even less extreme states of being like leisure, happiness of the decision-maker, and removedness from the situation.

That said however…

It seems that you’re proposing spreading the gospel of self-actualization and self-sublimation — spreading the ethos of individuals becoming responsible for their own freedom, and all the awesome stuff that goes with that. This is good! We need more of this, however—-

The only problem with such movements — and I don’t mean to use you as the reference point in particular, because this is an issue inherent to the very condition of movement-making— is that it attracts droves of people who are just looking for something to identify themselves with, and who don’t actuallythink for themselves, but just follow. They may quote Nietzsche or Ayn Rand or Camus or Sartre, but their very inclination and behavior is that of the slave. They need aGroup for the sake of the Group.

In this case, the Group they will be trying to fit into is the one that takes the rhetoric of Individuality as its Group mascot/god/slogan. The rhetoric of actual individuality and self-sublimation thus becomes co-opted for the establishment of the Group, and this Group fashions its own dogma, customs, symbolism, value judgementsand creates the need for Group acceptance.

We see this happen with the individualistic movements like Objectivism and Libertarianism. We see this going on in outside of the Western world where power groups try to look “Individualistic” in the way that the West has packaged for them, in order for them to meet the West’s approval (the institutions of the State, “secularism”, etc.)

We see this in the West itself with the Walmart-branding of rebels, revolutionaries, and other free-spirits on T-shirts, pop music, the Mass Media. We see this in Western counter-culture movements like the Hippy movement, Punk, Goth, Hip-Hop, even hipsters and yuppies.

Clothing, Body modification, style, slang, language — the whole style that identifies one with one of these advertised-as Counter-Cultural, Individualistic, Rebellious groups, thisstyle become the *Normative* way to express your individuality — you may self-sublimate *only* on the terms that Society has given for you. They no longer are an actual expression of individuality — they are an expression of branding for a movement that will only declare its individuality with framework given to it by society.

(*No, I do not hate the style of these subcultures, I don’t hate art. I despise how they are co-opted and Normativized.)

“Fuck the system” isn’t wearing the t-shirt, or a tattoo, or spray-painting a graphic — that’s just advertising for the idea (or at some point it was), and advertising that gets confused for the fight for self-sublimation itself. To “fuck the system” is taking the fight directly against the institutions, and against your own self-limiting weaknesses, that are the condition of your own oppression.

Again, as I said above, this feature I just described whereIndividualism is co-opted for the Group is just the pitfalls to the very condition of group-making. It goes way back to the foundations of the first religions, cults, tribes, and societies. Humanity can be so disgustingly slavish.

In other words, slaves will be slaves. The slave has just learned to disguise themself — to deceive themself — by wearing the “Fuck the system” T-shirt only insofar as the slave has met society’s terms of what can and cannot be called adequate resistance.

But the slave is not destined to be always be slave. The slave can be liberated from this tragic cycle of slavery, and from the lies that maintain slavery.

Madame Einzige: Amor Fati

A Novel Synopsis

(Due for 2013 release, copyright© 2011, 2012 Ismael Sarepta)

Madame Einzige

In the once glorious homeland of the great spiritual-philosophers Zarathustra, Bodhidharma, and Rumi, on the frigid decaying steppes of Central Asia, amidst its bleak Modern condition of mafia-oligarchies, ruthless oil politics, extraordinary rendition torture and execution, corporate exploitation, and the proliferation of private military companies, a new Spring of Revolution breaks out.

But, unlike the Arab Spring years prior, this Central Asian Spring receives no international attention. These Eurasian States and their foreign puppet-state masters have learned from the bloody examples of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, of the necessity to systematically patrol and monitor regional Internet activity for dissidence and revolutionary activity. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the multi-trillion-dollar enterprise of mass State-wide Surveillance, Censorship, and the total State takeover of all inbound and outbound digital data, has been opened up for anyone with the resources, skills, and money to engineer Big Brother. Its sole contractors are the secretly founded subsidiaries of European and American Computer Corporations that operate outside of the law of their home countries, in order to engineer this Dystopic Nightmare of the Information Age.

And unlike the Arab Spring, this Central Asian Spring receives no blessing from Moscow, Beijing, Washington, Brussels, or even the United Nations — not even an attempt to co-opt the Spring for a Superpower’s proxy war against another State — they are the unmemorable, the reviled, the censored. This is a refusal of the Spring’s recognition all for the sake of protecting the State’s geopolitical oil and economic interests in Central Asia, and out of the irrational phobia of the most misunderstood and most diverse force reacting against the Nihilism of Westernizing “Globalization” Modernity today: political Islam.

Madame Einzige is thrown onto the front lines of war-torn Central Asia gripped by the thoroughs of Revolution and Counter-Revolution. Takes up arms alongside these unknown, unsung rebels, she participates full-on in the brutality, carnage, insanity, and surrealism of warfare in the Information Age: the terror of the unmanned aerial drone, the cyber-war of mass disinformation, the ubiquity of the Superpower State’s self-preservation instinct, and the mercenary looting, pillaging, and massacring of the Private Military Company—

Yet, despite the privatization of totalitarianism, despite the industrialization of destruction, despite the mechanization of slaughter in modern warfare, Madame Einzige witnesses the emergence of a new, enlightened, counter-culture movement — a counter-culture movement that combines the Hacker Ethic and reverse engineering, populism and Social Democracy, with the Mystical, the Philosophical, and the Rational of the Islamic tradition.

Inspired by the enlightened spiritual-warrior Sufi orders that once populated Central Asia and the Middle-East, and armed with jury-rigged cyber-warfare devices, homemade weaponry, salvaged old Soviet automobiles, camels and horses, these new techno-spiritual rebels carry out their revolution against the Corporate Machinery of the West, against the corrupt Oligarchies of Eurasia, and against the torrent of regressive Puritanical extremist interpretations of Islam.

Madame Einzige: Amor Fati is where speculative fiction, the political thriller, and the war novel meets the philosophical narrative, in a hyper-real, Postmodern Nietzschean Epic. Amor Fati is the first installment of the Madame Einzige series.

(Click here for Madame Einzige series general outline)

I think I officially love this person’s Tumblr. Here’s a reply, which sent me into my usual entranced philosophical diatribes and insights–

antigravity000:

Heat can be measured, there are values for its presence whereas ‘coldness’ is simply a description for absence of heat. Cold is the void, heat is space. Nihilism, atheism, absurdism are the voids, faith in god(s), in creative forces, is space.

I like this.

It’s funny, isn’t it? Once we stick that -ism on Nihilism, we have Nihilists – followers – who consciously adopt a system of philosophy they want to associate with Nihilism. But in adopting a system, they affirm an identity, and in affirming an identity, you now have an identity — a positive thing – associated with yourself. It’s quite literally counter-intuitive for someone to consciously adopt Nihilism.

I’ve always thought true Nihilism would actually be closer with simply lacking in  self-criticality, or any thinking what so ever — this McDonalds, MTV, Nike culture of the 21st century is true Nihilism, for example.

True atheism isn’t the scientific rationalization of the universe and coming to the conclusion that gods don’t exist – true atheism is just the complete lack of any form of theistic insight of belief: apathetically avoiding religion, or apathetically/ignorantly following religion. (This was Nietzsche’s point about atheism, actually, and how atheism is actually just the deification of humanity sublimated over the Abrahamic God. Hence, why he’s quoted for saying “God is dead”, and not for saying “God doesn’t exist”)

And true absurdity, is just the doing absurd things without reflecting on them. This is just the common condition of daily life.

So basically, what I mean to say is, the greatest of the Nihilists are not the suffering, paralyzingly self-critical characters from the pages of Dostoyevsky or Turgenev, or that angsty youth clad in a leather trench coat. The greatest Nihilists are the Kim Kardiashians and Paris Hiltons of this world.

Wrote another reply to another interesting question on Tumblr–

antigravity000:

What might the cultural and religious emphasis of the Moon for Middle Easterners (Arabs) and the Sun for Europeans suggest about the growth and development of these people? Or does their reverence of one over the other (Sun vs Moon) demonstrate differing psychological growth, a different geographical, evolutionary development?

Historically in the Middle-East, the Moon was closely associated with the female monthly cycles, and pregnancy and fertility. The pre-monotheistic traditions emphasized the Moon’s direct magical role in these things as the astrological agent that caused the female cycles, and the Moon was regarded as a deity. This gave birth to the anthropomorphicized versions of the Moon, and their subsequent cults — Inanna (Sumerian), Ishtar (Assyrian-Babylonian), Ashteroth (Levantine), Anahita (Iranian). These cults became extremely powerful in the Middle-East, until the rise of Abrahamic Monotheism.

The Moon’s “unpredictable” nature, seemingly self-guided movements (relative to the sun and the seasons, at least), and its strange psychological affects on people  during a full moon, was understood as something completely defiant / opposed to the Sun cults that tended to emphasize a male Sun God.

You also had female cults of death that emphasized the Moon — Moloch (male god, Levantine), Ereshkigal (Mesopotamia), Allat (Arabia — part of the pre-Islamic Arabian “trinity”). Sometimes, these deities were invoked during ritual infanticide, usually performed by mothers who couldn’t support the baby.

The whole Moon-Female-Cult religious complex tended to stand opposite to Sun-Male-Cults of Marduk, Ashur, Ahura Mazdah, and Yahweh (Bible), who wanted to impose regularity, patriarchy, legal order, and the establishment of priestly class.

In the Bible and the Qur’an, there is a lot of admonishing of these cults. The Bible curses the cult of Ashteroth (Moon-matriarch-fertility cult), and the Qur’an does the same with Allat (or “Allah’s daughters”) and ritual infanticide.

Actually, Abrahamic-style monotheism, with its emphasis on a male god, law, light, and regularity, can probably be seen in the bigger picture of history as a direct Patriarchal reaction to these female-Matriarchal-dominated “Lunar” spheres of religion.
Patriarchal reactions aside though, there’s tons of Moon imagery across the board in Middle-Eastern mythos, especially in post-Pagan scripture. Judaism’s calendar uses both the Sun and Moon, and the Islamic calendar is purely lunar. Islam also adopted the Crescent as its symbol, but this is actually a much more recent development (~200 years) (Judaism also didn’t really settle on its use of the Star of David/Seal of Solomon until around that time.)
As for evolutionary development peculiar to Middle-Eastern peoples — and I think you and I seem to share similar views on human evolution (mine isn’t really a “view” per se, it’s more of a pretty damn strong hunch) — the fact that there is a Sun vs Moon conflict in Middle-Eastern religious-mythological complex might be demonstrative of something shared bio-psychic among the people. Perhaps, it’s related to an inclination and susceptibility for intense spiritual experiences, vivid imaginations, charisma, prophecy…? But in the Middle-East, historically (and right through to present day), there’s also a great respect for science, precision thinking mathematics, problem solving, wisdom, rational thought, etc., so that the mutual exclusivity between religion and science, mysticism and rationality, doesn’t really exist like it does in the West. Very hard to say on this question of evolution. Perhaps it’s just symptomatic of the holistic embrace of the Sun vs. Moon mythos — being at ease with dichotomies happily co-existing… Just floating this here, though.

^ Not a definitive answer, but worthwhile to consider.

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