Friday, November 30, 2007

asceticism.

as·cet·ic [uh-set-ik]
–noun
1. a person who dedicates his or her life to a pursuit of contemplative ideals and practices extreme self-denial or self-mortification for religious reasons.
2. a person who leads an austerely simple life, esp. one who abstains from the normal pleasures of life or denies himself or herself material satisfaction.
3. (in the early christian church) a monk; hermit.

also, as·cet·i·cal. [uh-set-ik-uhl]
–adjective
1. pertaining to asceticism.
2. rigorously abstinent; austere: an ascetic existence.
3. exceedingly strict or severe in religious exercises or self-mortification.

also, as·cet·i·cism [uh-set-uh-siz-uhm]
–noun
1. the manner of life, practices, or principles of an ascetic.
2. the doctrine that a person can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, self-mortification, and the like.
3. rigorous self-denial; extreme abstinence; austerity.

...

here they teach that much of existence amounts only to misery. that misery is caused by desire, therefore, if desire is eliminated, then misery will be eliminated. now, that is true enough, as far as it goes. there is plenty of misery in the world, all right, but there is ample pleasure as well. if a person forswears pleasure in order to avoid misery, what has he gained? a life with neither misery nor pleasure is an empty, neutral existence, and, indeed, it is the nothingness of the void that is the ascetics final objective. to actively seek nothingness is worse than defeat. it is only surrender... craven, chickenhearted, dishonorable surrender. poor little babies are so afraid of pain that they spurn myriad sweet wonders of life so that they might protects themselves from hurt. how can you respect that sort of weakness... how can you admire a human who consciously embraces the bland, the mediocre, and the safe rather than risk the suffering that disappointments can bring?

if desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire. instead of hiding our heads in a prayer cloth and building walls against temptation, why not get better at fulfilling desire? salvation is for the feeble. i dont want salvation, i want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb. if the gods would tax ecstacy, then i shall pay; however i shall protest their taxes at each opportunity, and if woden or shiva or buddha or that christian fellow cannot respect that, then ill accept their wrath. (though i shall do so with barrel and blade drawn and ready.) at least i will have tasted the baquet that they have spread before me on this rich round planet, rather than recoiling from it like a toothless bunny. i cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us, to tempt us, to make it the more diificult for us to capture the grand prize... the safety of the void. to fashion life such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods.

...

(i always thought that cavalcade meant a funeral procession... its not a funeral procession at all! its just a procession, like any other procession. and definitionally so, at that.)

...

"please hold on, please hold on, please hold on."

the path was descending again, but if his calculations were correct, they were two days from the foothills. three days if the weather didnt break. an eternity, if she couldnt get back on her feet.

"please... it wont be long." he bit his blue lip against the falsehood. "it wont be long until we reach the caves."

she wailed. the cry was so similar to the wails of the widow on the cremation fire that a huge horror seized him, a horror shot through with adrenaline, and he picked her up in his arms and began to run with her.

the horror changed into a kind of giddiness. this must look ridiculous, he thought. though to whom it looked ridiculous he failed to name. he must have meant death, for in a minute he conceded, "death has trapped us, thats for sure. but he shall not take us sitting still!" and as the pageant of his life, no less ridiculous than this mad dash in the snow, flashed before him, he laughed and laughed and laughed.

almost immediately the wind fell quiet, like a drunk who has passed out in the middle of a rage. the sun burned through and set about boiling clouds into dumplings, then into gravy.

it was practically on their hands and knees that they covered the final mile, but no one greeted them there. the caves were empty and bare.

...

concluding his account of how he had swept her up and run with her, he ventured the opinion that they had survived because he reached a point where he did not take his desire to live seriously.

my desire was no less than before, you understand, but i no longer identified with the desire. perhaps that is why desire causes men calamity... by identifying with our desires and taking them too seriously, we not only increase our susceptibility to disappointment, we actually create disappointment. (a climate inhospitable to the free and easy to the fulfillment of those desires.)

...

with a puppet masters control over the dialectic, we actually create disappointment! see... the burden of magnanimity. (and its the same archetype every time! but so what if i am shelling my efforts out into a bottomless pit? i know better what will create the highest value, and i am just. and so i will forever be valiantly emptying my innards. see... the just mans dilemma.)

...

he is a glorious man, she thought, but this constant prattle about the meaning of life can make a person tired.

...

close your right eye. with your left eye, look at the +. slowly move your head closer to the image. the space in the middle of the vertical lines will disappear and you will fill in what you cant see with what you expect to be there. (or maybe what you want to be there.)

though i am more concerned with how i view others, i shudder to think of the consequences for the mirror. (i like that someone got so flustered and defensive that they added invalid where it doesnt necessarily belong. in bold.)

...

so we fill in the blanks with what we want. im no better than the next in this regard... but you gave me no illusions, only war. glorious, humorous, glorious war eternal.

and so with the violence of a sudden infant death, all at once the empire was forgotten. the capital lay in ruin, and its satellites, once benevolently governed and now maliciously neglected, simply sailed away with the tradewinds at their backs. those who stumbled upon the cities found roads no longer traveled, and temples devoid of worshipers.

...

bop bop bop bop bop!

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