when I have nothing to say

So there is this image I saw on Twitter and I think I can say a few things. The first thing is that every generation almost always lambasts the next generation for infractions real or imagined.

ON clothing, this is what Montaigne had to say (and before you go on about argument from authority, no I am not quoting him as an authority on dressing I could as well have quoted Mark Twain who says clothes maketh the man)

Had we been born with a necessity upon us of wearing petticoats and breeches, there is no doubt but nature would have fortified those parts she intended should be exposed to the fury of the seasons with a thicker skin, as she has done the finger-ends and the soles of the feet.

And maybe some people were born yesterday, but we know that many peoples from different nations went about their business naked. The morbid obsession about nudity is in my view, a problem of the Abrahamic religions.

I have lost several phones over the years and each loss has been different. On one occasion my phone was stolen while i was in traffic and talking to a friend & it had contacts even of my enemies which I had not backed up. I have been unable to talk to these enemies since. I don’t know how or where I lost my virginity but I think people are usually more concerned with the virginity of women. That is what is traded. It is their bodies that are controlled. Not a man’s body.

I must have missed the memo that required people to drink or smoke. But I have always known to fit in certain groups, people have always had to do certain things. So maybe, the problem is not the society but the groups the author of this is in. He or she can be easily cured by changing groups. He could join a church choir for example and have holy sex 🙂

I know nothing wrong with a bathroom. Take photos wherever you feel great, even if it is in a coffin. This life is once only.

If temples are not places of socialization, why eve go there?

“If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods”, said Shelley, “knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.” I think it is this simple thing that explains why worshiping a god, that every reflecting mind acknowledges does not exist, has become difficult.  At the same time, one wonders why a wholly perfect being would want, command or even desire worship?

If it was true that lies have become a reality only in the 21st century, there would be no world wars or slavery because these depended on deception for their execution. Or how do you justify the Inquisition? Was it not based on lies that they, the Inquisitors alone, had the correct way of worship, that is, the possessors of true religion.

While I am no woman, I think no one wants to get HIV/AIDS or get pregnant left right and centre.

It is possible the pizza hut is next to your block and the ambulance or police or fire department is several blocks away. It is sensible the pizza guy will get home quicker, plus you need your pizza hot. But this is not just a 21st century problem. It is a problem of how governments and societies allocate public goods.

As to people becoming toxic, how do we explain the killing of Socrates or the excommunication of Spinoza? Was it not a result of intolerance? But then, I think history is not the friend of this author.

If the question of money and family had not been a problem in the past, it is unlikely the philosophers of the past would have spoken about it. A little browsing through the archives will yield such sayings from the 15th Century monk who said all rich men are thieves.

There is the story of the prodigal son in the bible. It is really a matter of irony that the person who authored this BS quoted the bible at the end but forgot this story. And unless evidence is adduced to the contrary, people have been sex for as long as humanity has known how to fuck.

Caesar, that murderous general played with the minds of his armies and led Rome to a civil war. I don’t know what this person is on about.

I will end here by quoting Mark Twain extensively on human nature. You can disagree with it, but I find it quite hilarious. He wrote

“I regard these Laws as established. By the terms of the Law of Periodical Repetition nothing whatever can happen a single time only; everything happens again, and yet again, and still again — monotonously. Nature has no originality — I mean, no large ability in the matter of inventing new things, new ideas, new stage effects. She has a superb and amazing and infinitely varied equipment of old ones, but she never adds to them. She repeats — repeats — repeats — repeats. Examine your memory and your experience; you will find it is true. When she puts together a man, and is satisfied with him, she is loyal to him, she stands by him through thick and thin forevermore, she repeats him by billions and billions of examples; and physically and mentally the average remains exactly the same, it doesn’t vary a hair between the first batch, the middle batch and the last batch. If you ask, ‘But really — do you think all men are alike

then continues to say

Yes, I answer, and Nature repeats those. There is nothing that she doesn’t repeat. If I may use a figure, she has established the general intellectual level of the race at say, six feet. Take any billion men and stand them in a mass, and their head tops will make a floor — a floor as level as a table. That floor represents the intellectual altitude of the masses — and it never changes. Here and there, miles apart, a head will prefect above it a matter of one intellectual inch, so to speak — men of mark in science, law, war, commerce, etc.; in a spread of five thousand miles you will find three heads that project still an inch higher, men of national fame — and one that is higher than those by two inches, maybe three — a man of (temporarily) world-wide renown; and finally, somewhere around the circumference of the globe, you will find, once in five centuries of waiting, one majestic head which over tops the highest of all the others — an author, a teacher, an artist, a martyr, a conqueror, whose fame towers to the stars, and whose fame will never perish, never fade, while time shall last; some colossus supreme above all the human herd, some unmated and unmatable prodigy like him who, by magic of the forces born in him, turned his shoe-hammer into the scepter of universal dominion.

Now in that view you have the ordinary man of all nations; you have the here-and-there man that is larger-brained and becomes distinguished; you have the still rarer man of still wider and more lasting distinction; and in that final head rising solitary out of the stretch of the ages, you have the limit of Nature’s output. “Will she change this program? Not while time lasts. Will she repeat it forever? Yes. Forever and ever she will do those grades over and over again, always in the same proportions, and always with the regularity of a machine. In each million of people, just so many inch-superiorities; in each billion, just so many two-inch superiorities — and so on; and always that recurrent solitary star once in an age, never oftener, never two of them at a time. “Nature, when pleased with an idea, never tires of applying it. She makes plains; she makes hills; she makes mountains; raises a conspicuous peak at wide intervals; then loftier and rarer ones, continents apart; and finally a supreme one six miles high.

Ignorance in the information age, I think, is intentional.

what is civilization?

Mark Twain, through the mad philosopher tells us

Morally, it is the evil passions repressed, the level of conduct raised; spiritually, idols cast down, God enthroned; materially, bread and fair treatment for the greatest number.

Then he says of his (our) civilization, and here he seems to be speaking as a prophet, unless the conditions of 1900s reflect those of the present age. He writes

Our civilization is wonderful, in certain spectacular and meretricious ways; wonderful in scientific marvels and inventive miracles; wonderful in material inflation, which it calls advancement, progress, and other pet names; wonderful in its spying-out of the deep secrets of Nature and its vanquishment of her stubborn laws; wonderful in its extraordinary financial and commercial achievements; wonderful in its hunger for money, and in its indifference as to how it is acquired; wonderful in the hitherto undreamed-of magnitude of its private fortunes and the prodigal fashion in which they are given away to institutions devoted to the public culture; wonderful in its exhibitions of poverty; wonderful in the surprises which it gets out of that great new birth, Organization, the latest and most potent creation and miracle-worker of the commercialized intellect, as applied in transportation systems, in manufactures, in systems of communication, in news-gathering, book-publishing, journalism; in protecting labor; in oppressing labor; in herding the national parties and keeping the sheep docile and usable; in closing the public service against brains and character; in electing purchasable legislatures, blatherskite Congresses, and city governments which rob the town and sell municipal protection to gamblers, thieves, prostitutes, and professional seducers for cash. It is a civilization which has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life; replaced its contentment, its poetry, its soft romance-dreams and visions with the money-fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions, and the sleep, which does not refresh; it has invented a thousand useless luxuries, and turned them into necessities; it has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them; it has dethroned God and set up a shekel in His place.

Extracts from Eve’s Diary

by Mark Twain,

Anyone who has read these essays of M.T has in someway pondered over how life would have been for Adam and Eve, had they been the first personages on earth.

Where did the first lion get the meat to eat if all animals were created at the same instant? Or maybe, lions were first vegetarians, just like tigers and leopards and only started to eat meat after the fall. And it is after the fall also that all animals lost their innocence and started copulating.

Have you heard of the law of fluid precipitation? Well, Twain made it up. But imagine the first person to notice that water flows downhill.

Then think about that command of not eating fruit of some tree or else you shall die. They have no idea of what death is. They have not seen any death already. And here, Twain arrives at one of his truisms

a person can’t think when he has no material to think with.

The first pair decide the best way to find our what to die means is to eat the fruit, then they shall die, and will know what it is, and not have any more bother about it. If you believe the bible is true, we are still dying from this desire for knowledge.

It’s morning here, go ponder the rest.

on lying

Sam Harris in a short book or should it be a booklet titled lying, writes in conclusion

As it was in Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, and Othello, so it is in life. Most forms of private vice and public evil are kindled and sustained by lies. Acts of adultery and other personal betrayals, financial fraud, government corruption—even murder and genocide—generally require an additional moral defect: a willingness to lie.
Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.
By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is. Our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make—and in ways we cannot always predict. Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to.
And by lying to one person, we potentially spread falsehoods to many others—even to whole societies. We also force upon ourselves subsequent choices—to maintain the deception or not—that can complicate our lives. In this way, every lie haunts our future. There is no telling when or how it might collide with reality, requiring further maintenance. The truth never needs to be tended in this way. It can simply be reiterated.
The lies of the powerful lead us to distrust governments and corporations. The lies of the weak make us callous toward the suffering of others. The lies of conspiracy theorists raise doubts about the honesty of whistle-blowers, even when they are telling the truth. Lies are the social equivalent of toxic waste—everyone is potentially harmed by their spread.
How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again? What truths might suddenly come into view in your life? What kind of person would you become? And how might you change the people around you?
It is worth finding out.

Mark Twain writes in on the decay of art of lying, thus

No fact is more firmly established than that lying is a necessity of our circumstances–the deduction that it is then a Virtue goes without saying. No virtue can reach its highest usefulness without careful and diligent cultivation–therefore, it goes without saying that this one ought to be taught in the public schools–even in the newspapers. What chance has the ignorant uncultivated liar against the educated expert? What chance have I against Mr. Per–against a lawyer? Judicious lying is what the world needs. I sometimes think it were even better and safer not to lie at all than to lie injudiciously. An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth.

Nietzsche writes

[D]eception, flattering, lying and cheating, talking behind the back, posing, living in borrowed splendor, being masked, the disguise of convention, acting a role before others and before oneself—in short, the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could have arisen among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images; their eye only glides only over the surface of things … their feeling nowhere leads into truth, but contents itself with the reception of stimuli, playing, as it were, a game of blind man’s bluff.

And Nietzsche asks again,

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

And yours truly asks, are they talking about the same thing? and between Harris’ position and that of Twain, where do you think most people fall? Is the position by Harris really tenable?

Of men

Or their gods,

Strange! that you should not have suspected years ago–centuries, ages, eons, ago!–for you have existed, companionless, through all the eternities. Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange because they are so frankly and hysterically insane–like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell–mouths mercy and invented hell–mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!.

By Mark Twain


Mark Twain on various issues

First on conscience

If I had the remaking of man, he wouldn’t have any conscience. It is one of the most disagreeable things connected with a person, and although it certainly does a great deal of good, it cannot be said to pay, in the long run; it would be much better to have less good and more comfort.

On how we are generally alike

If you were to strip the nation naked and send a stranger through the crowd, he couldn’t tell the king from a quack doctor nor a duke from a hotel clerk

On loyalty

The type Mark Twain would recommend. He writes

You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its Office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags, that is a loyalty of unreason, it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it.

I don’t even think I have this type of loyalty.

On war

In his book, the Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain, devotes a paragraph to war. He has Philip Traum – Satan, say

There has never been a just one, never an honorable one on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful,  as usual,  will shout for the war. The pulpit will, warily and cautiously, object at first ; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war and will say earnestly and indignantly “it is unjust and dishonourable and there is no necessity for it.”
Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen,and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them and presently the antiwar audience will thin out and lose popularity.
…next the statesmen will invent cheap lies,putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience soothing falsities and will diligently study them and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war was just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self deception.

Iraq war anyone?
Elsewhere in the same book, he has Philip Traum talk of human civilization.  He says

You perceive that you have made continual progress. Chain did his murder with a club; the Hebrews did their murders with javelins and swords; the Greeks and Romans added protective armor and the fine arts of military organisation and generalship; the Christian has added guns and gunpowder; a few centuries from now he will have so greatly improved the deadly effectiveness of his weapons of slaughter that all men will confess that without Christian civilization war must have remained a poor trifling thing to the end of time.

He continues to say

[…]they all did their best, to kill being the chiefest ambition of the human race and the earliest incident in its history – but only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognised that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian – not to acquire his religion, but his guns. The Turk and the Chinaman will buy those to kill the missionaries and converts with.

the moral sense

There are authors who can make you laugh. There are authors who can make you think. Then there are authors that can make you do both. I think Mark Twain is in the last class.

In Mysterious Stranger, he does this so well. The character Satan, ably represented by Philip Traum, cautions against misuse of the word brutal. He insists, and you would agree, that the things treated under this heading no brute has been found guilty. He suggests we respect the higher animals.

The things were classify inhuman too are wrongly classified. Only humans are capable of them. Think rape, slavery, torture, war, exploitation all very human. It is our nature to do these things. We find them abhorrent, that I admit, but it is in our nature to do them. No lion kills another out of malice or kills a zebra because it can. And he says we are capable of these abuse because of the moral sense – the judge of good and bad.

He writes

No brute ever does a cruel thing, that is the monopoly of those with the Moral sense. When a brute inflicts pain he does it innocently; it is not wrong; for him there is no such thing as wrong. And he does not inflict pain for the pleasure of inflicting it, only man does that. Inspired by that mongrel Moral Sense of his! A sense whose function is to distinguish between right and wrong, with liberty to choose which of them he will do. Now what advantage can he get out of that? He is always choosing and in nine cases out of ten, he prefers the wrong.

I think, here

There shouldn’t be any wrong; and without the Moral Sense there couldn’t be any. And yet he is such an unreasoning creature that he is not able to perceive that the Moral Sense degrades him to the bottom layer of the animated beings and is a shameful possession

he took a lot of liberty with facts. Would we be better off without the moral sense? Would we find slavery abhorrent or it would be as natural as marrying off a nine-year old?

Is Mark Twain right [ the Moral Sense again] in defending the brutes? Should we find a word to replace brutal in our description of cruelty to one another. No other animal, I think, treat their fellows as we do. And whatever we describe inhumane, acts very human, can we find a more proper word for them?

This brings to mind the issue of whether human persons are naturally good or bad or whether these traits are learned. Jean Jacques Rousseau, I think, argued that we are naturally good. Another philosopher, I can’t recall claimed we are not good and are in need of salvation but the one I agree with is we are not any of the above. It is our actions that should be judged. If I dispatch the president and his cabinet, do I become a bad person or a person guilty of murder?

And while talking about murder, if in a revolution, we kill the president, his family and cohorts, no one gets arrested, why should I be, if I do it on my own for the public weal?