The Damned

A novel by Algernon Blackwood in which tells the story of a haunted house.

Towards the end, there is an interesting dialogue on beliefs and thinking. He writes

“What is the world,” she told me, “but thinking and feeling? An individual’s world is entirely what that individual thinks and believes –interpretation. There is no other. And unless he really thinks and really believes, he has no permanent world at all. I grant that few people think, and still fewer believe, and that most take ready-made suits and make them do. Only the strong make their own things; the lesser fry, Mabel among them, are merely swept up into what has been manufactured for them. They get along somehow.

Bill then says

None of us have Truth, my dear Frances

to which she responds

“Precisely,” she answered, “but most of us have beliefs. And what one believes and thinks affects the world at large. Consider the legacy of hatred and cruelty involved in the doctrines men have built into their creeds where the sine qua non of salvation is absolute acceptance of one particular set of views or else perishing everlastingly–for only by repudiating history can they disavow it–

Frances says

“Trying to get out of it,” she admitted, “perhaps they are, but damnation of unbelievers–of most of the world, that is–is their rather favorite idea if you talk with them.”

If the whole book was just these few paragraphs, I would have loved it just as much.

book reviews and other stories

I just finished reading two interesting books.

Micheal Martins, Atheism a Philosophical Justification which is a good book in many respects. In it he looks at the common arguments for the existence of god and how they fail. He looks also at the problem of evil and the responses that have been proposed by theists and find them inadequate. In his conclusion he says belief in god, given the evidence, is irrational and I agree with him.

The next book is by Sophocles, The Oedipus Rex where Oedipus is guilty of killing his father and siring children with his mother. Though such a story is abhorrent to most of us, I think Oedipus is guilty of a single offence, that of manslaughter. I don’t see how he could have know Laius was his father.

Creon who takes over after him is a mean man and suffers at the end for his unreasonableness. I have no sympathy for him.

The pope has put the Catholics in a difficult spot with his latest pronouncements about animals going to heaven. One must ask of the theologians, given that one of the defenses for the problem of evil is that this is a soul making place, in what way are the souls of animals made? They should also tell us how and when they get souls. Now is the time to ask the Katlicks to tell us how many angels can dance on top of a pin.

Portnoy’s Complaint

By Philip Roth is such an interesting book.

Alexander Portnoy has gone to see a shrink to whom he narrates the story of his life, how he jerks off several times a day in his socks, in the washrooms and anywhere he thinks he is not being seen.

He tells of his affair with Mary Jane Reed aka The Monkey, of their sexcapades in different European towns and finally his visit to Israel where he his dick fails to rise to the occasion twice.

Alex is godless and one occasion he says about the Protestants

Oh, this father! this kindly, anxious,uncomprehending, constipated father! Doomed to be obstructed by this Holy Protestant Empire! The self confidence and the cunning, the imperiousness and the contacts, all that enabled the blond and blue-eyed of his generation to lead, to inspire, to command, if need be to oppress- he could not summon a hundredth part of it. How could he oppress?- he was the oppressed. How could he wield power?- he was the powerless. How could he enjoy triumph, when he so despised the triumphant-and probably the very idea. They worship a Jew, do you know that, Alex? Their whole big-deal religion is based on worshiping someone who was an established Jew at that time. Now how do you like that for stupidity? How do you like that for pulling the wool over the eyes of the public? Jesus Christ, who they go around telling everybody was God, was actually a Jew! And this fact, that absolutely kills me when I have to think about it, nobody else pays any attention to. That he was a Jew, like you and me, and that they took a Jew and turned him into some kind of God after he is already dead, and then-and this is what can make you absolutely crazy-then the dirty bastards turn around afterwards, and who is the first one on their list to persecute? who haven’t they left their hands off of to murder and to hate for two thousand years? The Jews! who gave them their beloved Jesus to begin with! I assure you, Alex, you are never going to hear such a mishegoss of mixed-up crap and disgusting nonsense as the Christian religion in your entire life. And that’s what these big shots, so-called, believe!

and in another place he says about Christians and Jews

Tacked above the Girardi sink is a picture of Jesus Christ floating up to Heaven in a pink nightgown. How disgusting can human beings be! The Jews I despise for their narrow-mindedness, their self-righteousness, the incredibly bizarre sense that these cave men who are my parents and relatives have somehow gotten of their superiority- but when it comes to tawdriness and cheapness, to beliefs that would shame even a gorilla, you simply cannot top the goyim. What kind of base and brainless schmucks are these people to worship somebody who, number one, never existed, and number two, if he did, looking as he does in that picture, was without a doubt The Pansy of Palestine. In a pageboy haircut, with a Palmolive complexion- and wearing a gown that I realize today must have come from Fredericks of Hollywood! Enough of God and the rest of that garbage! Down with religion and human groveling! Up with socialism and the dignity of man!

I loved this book!

Book reviews

You wake up one morning to find you have metamorphosed to a giant insect creature. You still think you can talk and be heard but it all seems the sounds you are making are far from human sounds. You are at this time the sole bread winner of your family. You have rented an apartment for your family where your mother, father and sister live. You have an arsehole for an employer. In the company policy, an employee can’t be sick, so calling in sick is out of the question for you. The chief clerk from work comes home to check why you are not at work. You struggle tom open the door, all this time, learning insect ways of doing things. Pause for a moment. Imagine the shock that greets everyone when you the door.

Your family allows you to live in your room. You are fed on a magazine. At first they attempt to keep your room clean. There is just so much you can do for an animal[monster] even if it is family. They make your room a dumping site. You no longer have enough room to move around. You get sick and weak for they also stopped feeding you. A time comes when the family decides it is enough. They must get rid of you. While they discuss how this can be achieved, you do them the favour of dying. I don’t know how your remains were disposed. We are not told.

The above is the story of Gregor, a travelling salesman as told us by Kafka in his novel Metamorphosis. I don’t know how it could be like to find onself in such a scenario. Dying, to me, in whichever way possible, would be the only consideration.

A lot has been said about the Jew, who was born of a virgin, preached, performed miracles, was killed, resurrected, stayed around a while then ascended to the clouds, from whence he has never dared to live. All rational people who have considered this story, have concluded that it was written at age and to a people that were barbarians, superstitious and credulous. No rational person who considers the supposed history and its authors can go on believing that it is the work inspired or coauthored by an all wise creator of the universe.

If you have just one book- rather 4 books and letters to examine- you realize there is just so much you can gather and unless you are a person of faith, you soon come to the conclusion that this story wasn’t meant to be believed by rational people. You must ask, how can people still believe this?

In Ecce Homo, d’Holdbach presents in very short and easy to read chapters what problems face the gospel narratives. They face a credibility issue, for they contradict each other on many salient issues. They are faced with a bigger problem of non confirmation by other non interested sources among others. Internally, is even a bigger problem. For instance, our hero, in situations where he could have answered questions directly and put to rest several questions either takes the 5th or evades the question. When asked by Pilate what is truth, we get no answer. When asked if he is the messiah, he doesn’t answer. Whenever he claimed to heal any one, he forbade them to say who he was.

His main trade was exorcism and later on living on the labour of others. The ecclesiastical leaders have learnt this trade and every where the church holds sway, the people live under a tyrant temporal and spiritual masters.

For those who have spent time reading the contemporary criticism of the story of Jesus will not find anything new in this book, but it is great to know questions that were asked by Celsus through to d’Holdbach and now, have still been unanswered.

Book reviews

2BRO2B is a bleak book by Kurt Vonnegut where he writes about a future world where man has conquered death. The only deaths arise from freak accidents or volunteers. To prevent a population explosion, there is a cap on the maximum number of people in any given locale. If one has to have a baby, a volunteer to die must also be found. We are then presented with a situation of a man who has had triplets but loves life and doesn’t want any of his relatives to die. I don’t want to spoil the fun, please read the book to find out its ending, besides it’s less than 10 pages on ebook.

In God bless you, Dr. Kevorkian he takes us through a story of his near NDE’s conducted at a state of the art lethal  injection execution facility in Huntsville, Texas. He tells us his first NDE was an accident or else who wouldn’t have set out on such a risky expedition. Dr. Jack Kevorkian is the man who saves his life several times he can’t count. In his several trips, he conducts many interviews with such people as Mary Shelley, Isaac Newton, Hitler, Isaac Asimov, Dr. Mary D. Ainsworth and many others. It is an interesting book, told in very small chapters, if we can call them that. For all friends on summer breaks with nothing to read, this is good reading material.

In Exile and the Kingdom, an anthology by Albert Camus, he writes on several themes, such as justice, infidelity, inhuman working conditions and inability of employees to have their grievances heard, the artist and his life/ tribulations- his problem with fame and so on and one story on religion. It makes for interesting reading.

In The fall, by Albert Camus, he tells the story of a judge-penitent. It is the confession of a former lawyer who I think has lost all his marbles.

In A happy death, Albert Camus’ first novel, he sketches the theme that will later be covered in the Myth of Sisyphus, the Rebel and the Stranger, that is death. In this book he asking if one can die a happy death. It is the story of Mersault, his crimes, his jealousies, his life and eventually his happy death. His struggles to find what it means to live a good life. He wants to die a conscious death.  He writes towards the end of the book

And in Zagreus’ very immobility confronting death he encountered the secret image of his own life. Fever helped him here, and with it, an exultant certainty of sustaining consciousness to the end, of dying with his eyes open.  Zagreus too had had his eyes open that day, and tears had fallen from them. But that was the last weakness of a man who had not had his share of life. Patrice was not afraid of such weakness. In the pounding of his feverish blood, though it failed to reach the limits of his body, he understood that such weakness would not be his. For he had played his part, fashioned his role, perfected man’s one duty, which is only to be happy. [..] Happiness was the fact he had existed.

 

The Value of man to society

This book by Newell Dwight Hillis, is quite an interesting read if one can ignore his many god or Jeebus references.

I especially find it useful his treatment on the usefulness of books. I can understand his thinking that the bible is the best book ever written, given he was a church minister. When we last talked about books, I think friends mentioned several books that the bible or its promoters wouldn’t hold their own against. I encourage you, especially those who don’t read to start reading. Don’t read anything you lay your hands on, no, that will not be of help so much. I can’t help you choose what to read but I hope it will not be a useless tract as many of these are released almost daily. He writes

books also advantage us in that they exhibit the unity of progress, the solidarity of the race and the continuity of history.

People must learn the science of living with men, that is how to live in society with others. He writes man

stands in the center of many concentric circles. About himself, as a center sweeps the home circle; his immediate neighbourhood relations describe a wider circle; his business career describes one larger still; then come his relations to the wider community in general, while beyond the horizon is a circle of influence that includes the world at large.

It is to say that a man of great learning is one has mastered the art of getting along with himself and with others around him.

He mentions imagination as the architect of manhood, writes on the importance of memory in development of character and the use of right thinking among others.

I thought it was a good read, not one that I would recommend you must read though.

On the nature of things[ De rerum natura]

by Lucretius

I am reading this book.

Lucretius was way ahead of the times.

His ideas are music to my ears even if some of the science has been improved on, this is definitely a good book.

I like his discussion on folly of fearing death, the soul and immortality mortality

He says on the folly of fear of death

Therefore death to us 
Is nothing, nor concerns us in the least, 
Since nature of mind is mortal evermore. 
And just as in the ages gone before 
We felt no touch of ill, when all sides round 

I will tell you more when I finish 😛