Wednesday 18th of September 2019

The greater meaning of meaninglessness...


Dictionary: meaninglessness is described as without meaning, significance, (purpose, or value; purposeless); insignificant:  a meaningless reply; a meaningless existence.

Are we afraid of meaninglessness?…

A million little pains at once
A million little joy
A million details 
A million ideas
a single misunderstanding

The clock has run out of tic-toc

Un milione di piccoli dolori allo stesso tempo
Un milione di piccole gioie

Un milione di dettagli

Un milione di idee

un singolo equivoco

L'orologio ha esaurito il tic-toc

This poem by the pseudo-Italian Faccconi Blatanto (1900-1967) illustrates the human search for meaning. And absolute meaning there is none. 

I placed (purpose, or value; purposeless) between parenthesis as "meaning" and "purpose" contain two very distinct ideas, thus the dictionary is annoyingly ambiguous.

One of my good reference books tells me that the quote below: 

The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty. Above all one’s own, for that has been put in our care and we are responsible for its well-being.
    ... came from Pliny The Elder.

There is a noble sentiment in these lines. It could be an artifice of translation to introduce the concept of sin and that of having been given the responsibility. Here we need to define “sin” and “responsibility” in the context of what we do in regard to nature, to ourselves and to each others. This is meaningless unless we accept that we have made it our purpose to look after life, including nature, rather than the task “being given to us" by a god.
As we evolved, we developed the ability to protect or destroy on a grander scale than just catch a prey to feed ourselves. And this became our choice when faced with various circumstances. There is no sin. There is no evil, just the sensations of doing something painful or joyful to ourselves or to others — and to nature — until our personal clock runs out of tic-toc.
Then our well-organised matter that gave us consciousness goes back into the pile of disorganised atomic dust. We are no more.

But on the net, Brainy quotes attributes this very Pliny quote to Katherine Anne Porter.

So I am a bit lost as to the origin of this quote which I would like to be by Pliny the Elder, because he was a famous student of nature. 

Pliny also admired Laocoön and his Sons, a sculpture about the priest Laocoön to whom Virgil attributes the famous lines:

Equō nē crēdite, Teucrī 
Quidquid id est, timeō Danaōs et dōna ferentēs”, 

"Do not trust the Horse, Trojans
Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts.” 

This is the source of the saying: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

This impressive sculpture, carved most likely between 68 BC and 27 BC, though some scholars place it at more than 200 BC — one of the best ever existential sculpture in my opinion — is now in the hands of the Vatican. It somehow represents "suffering with no reward” — or should I be bold “living with no meaning". 

Pliny attributed the work, displayed in the palace of Emperor Titus, to three Greek sculptors from the island of Rhodes: Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus, but Pliny does not give a date nor patron. This sculpture is considered "one of the finest examples of the Hellenistic baroque” in the traditional style. But it could have been a copy. It is one of the most famous ancient sculptures we know of, since it was excavated in Rome in 1506.
Why would the Vatican hold onto this gripping piece? The Vatican is a commercial enterprise that sells to us, mere mortals, the concept of “suffering with reward" — the reward of an eternal life next to god, should we believe in god.
Over centuries, the Vatican boffins have done their best to appropriate other religious and pagan rituals to mash them into their own interpretations of life, ultimately using the suffering of Jesus Christ as the motivation for us to accept life as it is not. 

Life has no meaning, but we can chose our purpose in our management thereof.
Democratically, our next important step is to debunk the illusion of god and to understand (or accept) the intricacies of life's mechanics through scientific investigations, in which the profound relationships between complex molecules are essential. These relationships are what give us our choices, to be well or not, receptive or aggressive, until our last tic-toc.
Simple, yet complex.

One of our major purpose is to choose between peace and war. The molecular and animalistic relationships that sustain meaningless life are often in conflict with each other, while others, including conciliators, are allied against the “conflictors”. The ramifications are enormous and are very difficult to manage at our level without delusions, in which we torture psychology and philosophy to squeeze meaning out of what we do.

It is my strong view that our social structures based on religious dictums — the West and the Middle-East especially — need to evolve and accept meaningless purposeful responsibility, rather than absolutism, as an equal humanistic purpose for all, to live in peace. With not any meaning left in this evolution, we could extract a better life for most, possibly for all of us, while managing the "conflictors" in our favour — minimising the suffering.

This would be the greater meaning of meaninglessness: our chosen purpose in a meaningless universe. What a singular responsibility of choice.

Gus the Elder
Your local old kook

laocoön and his sons...

Laocoön and his SonsLaocoön and his Sons

the modern trojan horses...

nietzsche’s will...

In a strange analysis of a recent exchange between former assistant attorney general Barbara Babcock and a 33-year-old female lawyer during a forum on women in the law at the New York City Bar Association, Casey Chalk, a student at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College, covers religion for TAC — and makes a mess of it.

He tells us how Nietzsche’s will to power has led us astray:

Alternatively, the unquenchable thirst for power makes us less men and more beasts, casting us into unending competition that exhausts our bodies and progressively warps our minds and intellects back onto ourselves. We stack up awards, trophies, and accolades in a cult of self-worship that barely outlasts our existence on this planet. If we pursue families and children as an extension of this cult of vanity, they too will disappoint; when we then choose to ignore or leave them, the damage inflicted will ripple throughout kin and society.

If instead we interpret our careers not as sociological experiments for personal actualization, but as gifts and the means to grow in virtue, we create something that blesses our families and communities. We make our professions, like our families, opportunities for self-gift, where we willingly offer up a part of ourselves in service to something greater. Similarly, when we seek spouses and children “to love and to serve,” rather than to use for our own purposes, we contribute to a good that transcends us and brings us deeper contentment.

Furthermore, defining life as gift and self-gift rather than the appropriation of power allows us to perceive many social and political issues through a different lens.

"Life is a gift and an opportunity for self-gift, not a reckless pursuit of gratification.
Wow… Very noble sentiment… Reckless? Me? You? We're not, are we?

Gratification is not a sin. We ENJOY life. And, should we become a sacrifice to the cause of society, like Isaac for his dad's love of God? Not really, unless you are a soldier with hope of not being shot.

I can tell you the society will take us at our own word and we will struggle at our chosen level, while we have misunderstood the purpose of being a mercenary of virtue, or that of our own satisfaction. There is room for a bit of this and a bit of that.

Pure self-gift is not the way to live, though some people become generous to a fault and interfere with everyone else’s life in order to streamline their own virtues. I'd say bugger off, because this distort the meaning of life which is rather difficult since there is none — to suit their own righteousness.

Helping others through our social dedication is fine, don’t get me wrong. We all should do it, without giving up our own desires, and when there are difficult choices, we've got to make a choice. Career or family? My own parents did both together and we all had a good time until war spoiled it.

Of all the modern people on this planet who understand — through their very structured language — the role of an organised social construct, the Germans are up there with the best. Nietzsche, Marx, Engels, etc, bring to us the concept of social constructs in which the people are in charge of their own destiny, personally and as a group. There were a few scares along the way: the rise of Queen Victoria’s cousin, the Kaiser and that of Hitler to mention the more important ones...

It appears to me, this little undergraduate at a Catholic University has not understood a single idea he has been taught (if he were taught any) except he managed to grasp onto the word “virtue” like one catches a reed to escape flood waters. 
Sorry, my apologies. I should not belittle the guy who is doing his best to justify his delusions. But again, he is one of them "persons” (people) who seems to “forget” the women in humans. 

Life is not a gift. Our life does happen accidentally like the birth of a littler of dogs — and us being one of them puppies. We might choose to see life "as a gift" though. There were of course some social structures that led to our existence, like “love”, coitus, marriages, registration, census, status of our parents, class, joys and merriment, dedication to various causes and ultimately our own pains in old age. This does not mean that we can be mean to people. To the contrary we should cherish our family connection, our parents, grand parents and siblings with whom we develop our own identity — and our neighbours, if they’re nice.

We also had to deal in our own ways with deceitful people along the way. They seem to accumulate and concentrate in the “higher” echelons, where we meet politicians, Lords and Royals who perform like monkeys for appearance fees (their yearly allowances) that are lauded in our magazines — because "they are pretty" and are the summit of prettiness, with specialised epilation — especially the young ones. Ugly royals? Give us a break...

What has Nietzsche got to do with this? How do we open the lines of communications between the low life of the down-trodden with the upper class — that “charitable” ruling class that basically hate your democratic guts? As defined by someone: "they support and assist each other in view of the democratic flightiness of the masses they detest…” Comprende?

Illuminate your brains! It’s wrong to assume that everyone comes from the same mould — or want to fit in one. Statistics, polls and proportions soon fix this erroneous idea. 

Some of us will appropriate power and make sure the others know this. Can we ignore the powerful? They hope so, as you become the gift-giver to the poor sods and they enrich themselves while being able to give more charity than you can give in a lifetime. They have a chauffeur. You have an old bicycle with flat tyres.

It’s a bit Christian, isn’t it… The Emperors amass the loot while you fuck around in the sandals of the generosity of life.

Casey Chalk's essay is poor, ill-conceived and not worth of criticism. Poor me. I just did.

Read from top.
See also:

Ah and bugger that. Someone just saw through my little deception by using the new Google strict searches:

The poem at top:

Un milione di piccoli dolori allo stesso tempo
Un milione di piccole gioie

Un milione di dettagli

Un milione di idee

un singolo equivoco

L'orologio ha esaurito il tic-toc

Was written by me under a fake name: the pseudo-Italian Faccconi Blatanto (1900-1967). That's what Gus does. Too many "c"s and... Blatanto????

Blatant: flagrant, glaring, obvious, undisguised, unconcealed, overt, open, transparent, patent, evident, manifest, palpable, unmistakable...

the new normal?...

From Thomas Pfau


A philosophy whose claims remain strictly interior to the finitude of warranted assertability and procedural reason inevitably forecloses on the "incommunicable" (or non-transferable) reality of the individual person. For such enquiry is a fortiori only prepared to recognize and engage notions and propositions of its own devising, such that the personhood is construed in strictly formalterms - as the bearer of economic, political and human rights.

And yet, for these formal criteria even to be recognized as rationally meaningful and ethically binding, some antecedent, teleologically ordered view of the human person has to be presupposed. For to introduce an ensemble of "rights" or a deontological "ought" as the sole criterion of human personhood only furnishes us with a definition but not, alas, with a warrant such as would compel us to honour that definition in thought and practice.

Put differently, the very intelligibility and efficacy of sociological, political or legal definitions of the individual as a self-possessed, rights-bearing and happiness-seeking agent rests on an underlying normative view, an oblique consensus that this is indeed how personhood ought to be understood.

But again, as Spaemann notes, "with persons, esse is not the same as percipi," and "the recognition that a person is 'someone' is not reached by analogy" with object perception. For even "to acknowledge personal status is already to express respect" and, hence, to grasp in practice (rather than as a formal-logical syllogism) that "persons are beings that other persons speak to," rather than "things merely spoken of."


The so-called failure of personhood is not a failure at all - but, rather, a case of sin. Eliot's clerk sins against the imago dei not only of the typist but, just as plainly, also against his own. Read against the backdrop of Eliot's carefully embedded allusions to the rape of Philomela, the impersonal and dispiriting encounter here unfolded proves if anything more ghastly yet. For in modern urban, secular, and casually hedonistic culture, the violation of love and, thus, of the human person whose reality and flourishing essentially arise from it, has become the new normal.

This is what makes the scenes closing lines so particularly disturbing. With seismographic sensitivity, Eliot's writing registers the slightest tremors of spiritual anguish in the typist's "half-formed thought ... 'Well now that's done'." Even more poignant are the distracted and mechanical movements ("She smoothes her hair with automatic hand, / And puts a record on the gramophone") with which the nameless woman defends against the encroaching awareness of her person's violation and self-abasement.

At its strongest, this is what modern literature does: to capture the human person's grounding in the dynamics of recognition and love, if only ex negative by showing how the failure of achieving personhood is ultimately one of will, not nature. Needless to say, it is a proposition wholly at odds with modern Liberalism's essentially Pelagian understanding of self-legislating and self-contained human existence.

Thomas Pfau is Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English at Duke University, with secondary appointments in Germanic Language and Literatures and the Duke Divinity School. He is the author of Minding the Modern: Human Agency, Intellectual Traditions, and Responsible Knowledge and Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1790-1840.

Read more:



Quite amazing, despite this quality of (it appears quite religious — "A number of modern philosophical developments - each of them notably diffident or outright hostile to theological reflection - have dramatically impoverished our conception of the human person." ) thinkers in the USA we end up with Donald DumbDumb leading the world and with Hillary-the-Warrior as a second fiddle...


To say the least, if you don't scratch your butt or throw yourself from a bridge after having read this essay, probably like me, you've not understood it...  Don't worry. It's better that way. Read from top. Gus is a fierce atheist who is "not shy about being strongly outright hostile to theological reflection".

What most modern philosophical developments, including sciences (that are environmentally observation-based, unlike economics, theology and politics) do is to actually understand the human condition from an animalistic viewpoint where reactivities become affected by stylistic inventions, including habits such as those of the theological reflection, which is not exclusive nor infintus.

And the "new normal" is never static and is multipli varied. Our persona evolves and devolves —while, by becoming omnibulated by the theological hubris, we often end up losing sight of our personal and global relationship with this little planet. Using the"new normal" expression here was glib and designed to be degrading to those who not participate in the theological hubris of the author — and this destroyed the entire (quite obscure) argument of the essay.


(published yesterday 23/9/18 — updated 24/9/18)