Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block.
(by Drew Coffman / CC BY 2.0 / Desaturated from original)

I envy a writer’s block. It presupposes a writer feeling something, a full heart contrasting to a blank page and finding in that contradiction the motive for despair. Words pounding from the inside, trying to rip the skin, yearning for the freedom only the page can provide. But they are not free, for there is a jailer: taste — otherwise anything can fill a page. I envy a writer’s taste too. My desperation comes from reasoning that goes nowhere, from empty propositions combining floating concepts, from fallacious arguments combining biased propositions. My desperation comes from fake premisses becoming surreal conclusions, which in turn become fake premisses and then surreal conclusions again, like I am walking on a Moebius strip, twisting my own path into an endless, aggravating loop. My desperation doesn’t come from feelings that don’t become words. There are none. Absurdity reigns, but I ignore the feeling. I ignore feeling. I pretend reasoning suffices. Man is the animal that thinks, or is he not? But isn’t him the animal that feels too? Emotions — real ones — are not just sense perceptions connecting reality to some organ. Yes, they do depend on reason — partially. You habituate yourself to value this and that in such a way as to feel it just like you do. You could force yourself to feel otherwise — perhaps — but not today. Today you are a slave obeying the winner of the Platonic conflict going on inside your soul. Or is it you the winner? Whatever the motor generating that feeling, when it blossoms, it is unique to man. No animal feels like we do: mirth and sorrow, pride and brokenness, satisfaction and anger. No animal feels achievement in his bones or the joy of being alive. No animal wants revenge with all his heart only to feel ashamed when he realizes it’s not his heart speaking, but something smaller and darker and baser. Both feelings — revenge and shame — attempt to rewrite the present: the first broods about the future; the second, about the past — both useless. No animal is that stupid. They have more important things to do: survive is one. And we have even more important things to do: live is one. Yet we don’t. Not really. It is human feeling that will eventually fill the page: life abstracted — not words or thoughts or arguments. These you see above are words, mere words. All of them hemmed in by a single too-long a paragraph as if there could be art enough to justify that. There simply isn’t any reason to break the “line of thought”, the line of “non-feeling”. This is just me trying to write nonstop, to feel while doing so, and failing miserably. I stop and I don’t feel. Words are forceful; emotions nonexistent. Envy is the most I feel; Oh, if that would at least suffice! I envy writers. I envy those who feel. Yet I cherish reason and logic. Is there any logic in that? At least I don’t feel writer’s block. I am not a writer. I’ll never be.

The Combatant – #2

The heated air inside his daughter’s room greets him as a mother’s embrace, instantly soothing his spirit, softening the hardness he had tried to attain in the cold shower. This is the reason for not entering the room: it weakens him in the here and now. And the immediate is always more forceful in the soul of man.

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O.P.A.R. – Commentary: Man Qua Man

“The lower conscious species may be said to survive by “instinct,” if the term means an unchosen and unerring form of action (unerring within the limits of its range). Sensations and percepts are unchosen and unerring. An instinct, however—whether of self-preservation or anything else—is precisely what a conceptual being does not have. Man cannot function or survive by the guidance of mere sensations or percepts. A conceptual being cannot initiate action unless he knows the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot pursue a goal unless he identifies what his goal is and how to achieve it. No species can survive by regressing to the methods of more primitive organisms.”
Leonard Peikoff, “O.P.A.R.”, pages 193-194.
(Sanichar, the “wolf-boy”, forces us to think what really makes us men. If reason is our basic means of survival, and we have no instincts, how did he survive?”)

As I said in my crazy post about “Dune“, reason is the word of Objectivism. Chapter 5 of O.P.A.R. established that it is only through reason (not emotions) that we acquire knowledge about the world; and Chapter 6 has established that it is only through reason that man survives. I will no longer delve into (i) for now, but I think (ii) needs a little more attention.

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O.P.A.R. – Chapter 5: Reason

“Objectivism is not against emotions, but emotionalism. Ayn Rand’s concern is not to uphold stoicism or abet repression, but to identify a division of mental labor. There is nothing wrong with feeling that follows from an act of thought; this is the natural and proper human pattern. There is everything wrong with feeling that seeks to replace thought, by usurping its function.”
Leonard Peikoff, “O.P.A.R.”, page 162.
(Do you really think you should kill a cockroach and pity the cats on the streets? Do you really think you do so because you have reasoned through all the facts? You kill a cockroach because it evokes a bad feeling. Nothing more. What else do you kill — or let die — based on your feelings? In the end, it’s all about philosophy — or the lack of it.)

“Follow Reason”. If objectivity is adhering to reality, reason is the faculty of man that allows him to do so. It is the faculty that processes data coming from reality — percepts — into the human form of cognition — concepts — through the human method of cognition — logic. Yet man would rather be guided by his feelings than by reason. And then he wonders why the world is as it is.

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Bound to the Wood

The “Shield of the Trinity” or Scutum Fidei (Latin for “shield of faith”).

Clement (150 – 215) and Origen (184 – 253) were the great exponents of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, the “Fathers of the Church” who initiated the Patristic period and were enormously influential in the formation of Christian doctrine and in the attempt of synthesis with the greco-roman philosophy.

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The Impossible Synthesis

Altarpiece of the Church Fathers”, by Michael Pacher (c. 1483).

Bertrand Russell, in his “History of Western Philosophy”, introduces the second part of the book by saying that the Middle Ages is the history of “growth and decay” of the Catholic synthesis. He knows so well what is being synthesized that he forgets to say it. But now, as I reread portions of the book, I know that the synthesis sought was between faith and reason. My “Medieval Philosophy” teacher thinks that it has been successful. I, for one, can not imagine where he got that idea from.

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Losing Before The Fight

This image has just the right mood… with the right title.
(Original source: “Quitting Time”, by PixelLine; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The problem is not now. The problem is when I begin things. I praise Reason above all else simply because men always covet what they lack. All I do is out of sheer enthusiasm — Bacchean enthusiasm proper, as if I were naked at the top of a mountain, participating in an orgy of blood, sex and wine, shouting at the gods, clamoring for power, vision, life, death. I disguise blind emotion through cold reasoning, and I lie — to myself, to family and friends, to you.

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A (sort of) Objectivist Comment on “Dune”

“Prophecy and prescience – How can they be put to the test in the face of the unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction of the ‘wave form’ (as Muad’Dib referred to his vision-image) and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of a knife?”
— Frank Herbert, “Dune“, page 312.
(The Kaaba. Prophecies, prophets, a mysterious black stone enshrined in a huge granitic cube. The “power of religion” is the theme of Dune. But isn’t it the theme here on Earth too?)

Disregarding the unjust competition of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Dune can arguably be considered the first “chosen one” sci-fi novel ever to appear. Luke, Neo, Aragorn, Potter, all of them owe at least some of their powers to Paul Atreides, and, of course, to Frank Herbert. But what really caught my attention right from the start of the book was Herbert’s (sort of) Objectivist tendencies. If I had to pick one single word to represent Objectivism, that word would be “reason”. If I had to pick one for Dune, it would also be… — OK, it would be “sandworms” — but the next choice would be “reason”, as well.

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