Friday, December 30, 2011

The Origins of Industrial Music

The Origins of Industrial Music: With the arrival of Nikolaus Otto's internal combustion engine (ICE) in 1862, factory work became increasingly automated (more so than in the days when steam engines reigned supreme). Factory workers, especially in Otto's home country of Germany (which did not officially unify until 1871), began to incorporate the rhythmic sounds and vibrations of ICEs into their daily routines. The types of sounds that workers often heard included the engine's compression hiss and metal on metal clanging. In other words, the ICE was perhaps the earliest source of industrial music. Although James Watt's steam engine had existed in mills and factories for about 100 years at that point, it proved very inefficient when compared to Otto's ICE. And considering the mass production of automobiles (with ICEs) after the turn of the twentieth century, the industrial sound became both personal and widespread. However, it was not until the 1970s microcomputer revolution that bands like Kraftwerk and Tubeway Army could electronically re-create industrial sounds with their synthesizers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


QUESTIONS!!!: Do I exist? How do I know I exist? Why do I exist? What does it mean to exist? For what larger purpose(s) do I exist? When will I not exist? Does existence precede essence? Why is existence temporary? How does existence relate to Faith? Will the length of my existence heighten or lessen my Faith? Is Faith without works dead? Will Faith alone (sola fide) bring my soul to eternal life? What is the soul? Does every body possess a soul? Do animals have souls? What happens to the soul upon death? What if I doubt the existence of death? How does doubt affect my Faith? Is doubt the origin of wisdom? Does doubt beget sin? Does doubt lead to despair? How does despair prevent me from 'dying the good death?' Will despair lead to revelation? Is revelation the origin of wisdom? Does revelation beget conversion? Is conversion the final determinant of salvation in the Faith-building process? What have I become? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Am I dead? Does God exist? No, He is eternal.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jonathan Swift and Anglo-Irish Satire

Jonathan Swift and Anglo-Irish Satire: As a literary genre, satire is perhaps one of the most effective tools for social commentators to use while critiquing society. In Jonathan Swift's eighteenth-century writings, a unique blend of irony and sarcasm is certainly present. By ridiculing some of the more pervasive problems in Anglo-Irish culture, such as poverty and prostitution, Swift seeks to shame his readers (fellow countrymen) into improving Britain's lot. For example, in his 1729 A Modest Proposal, Swift famously argued that Ireland's poor ought to sell their children as food to the wealthier classes in British society. In doing so, the poor would eradicate their biggest economic burden while simultaneously feeding others. Swift even outlines a variety of ways to prepare children for cooking, so as to obtain maximum flavor potential. This kind of political satire not only mocked British policies toward Ireland's poor, but also specifically derided the methodologies of noted seventeenth-century English economist William Petty. In fact, some of Petty's early ideas contributed to the development of modern economic concepts like the "division of labor" and the "labor theory of value." Yet Swift merely understood Petty to be a bureaucratic pawn in Oliver Cromwell's government: someone who fudged socioeconomic data to support public initiatives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Resocializing the Imprisoned

Resocializing the Imprisoned: Resocialization is the unique psycho-social process by which prisoners get re-integrated into regular society. The process occurs during incarceration whereby psychologists and sociologists have a set period of time to study the changes which define an inmate's personal outlook. Parole boards, in particular, take into consideration the degree of change in prisoners' attitudes as they prepare to re-enter regular society. But critics of resocialization see it as an oppressive process that undercuts a prisoners' true individuality. Forcing change upon someone is neither natural nor organic. Fundamental change, especially in someone's personal disposition, must be an internal process, and resocialization seems to constitute an externally coercive regime. The idea of eroding an inmate's individuality through mandatory haircuts and uniform clothing only appears to create a perverted system of dependency in prison settings. Yet I suppose that's the price one pays for being convicted of a crime. I wonder how French critical theorist Michel Foucault might react to resocialization. Similarly, how much does resocialization really help former criminals transition into regular society? That is the primary question which parole boards and other prison officials ought to be asking themselves.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nietzsche's 'Ode to Eternity'

Nietzsche's 'Ode to Eternity': At two distinct points in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883), Nietzsche offered an ode to express his love of eternity. It went as follows: "O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare? I was asleep - From a deep dream I woke and swear: The world is deep, Deeper than day had been aware. Deep is its woe; Joy - deeper yet than agony: Woe implores: Go! But all joy wants eternity- Wants deep, wants deep eternity." For Nietzsche, eternity was the only 'woman' he ever loved. And through Zarathustra's futile attempts to find the Overman (Der Übermensch), Nietzsche conveyed his philosophical doctrine of eternal recurrence. Rooted in the idea that science had already determined time to be cyclical, eternal recurrence was a wholly Romantic doctrine. It longed for simpler times when both lies and truths were obvious to the common man. And likewise, when relativism served no legitimate purpose in the development of national cultures. But as German-American existentialist philosopher Walter Kaufmann discovered, Nietzsche's 'Ode to Eternity' was eerily similar to Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" (Ode an die Freude), which placed man's earthly sufferings and God's eternal rewards at the center of its poetic thrust.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How "Working-Class" Is Socialism?

How "Working-Class" Is Socialism?: Not very, is the short answer to this question. Aside from Eugene V. Debs and A. Philip Randolph, who worked as a boilerman and porter, respectively, and who participated in unions like the American Railway Union (ARU) and Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), socialism has largely been the product of highly-trained technocrats, especially in Europe. For example, one would be hard-pressed to find historical accounts of early socialist/communist thinkers like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels toiling away in factories along the Rhine. However, Engels did observe the drudgeries of working-class England when he visited Manchester's textile factories in the early 1840s. But one-hundred years after Marx and Engels, Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek stated that "socialism has never and nowhere at first been a working-class movement." While this might be somewhat of an overstatement, Hayek understood that socialism, as an ideology of the downtrodden masses, rests unabashedly on the supreme assumption that a central authority, i.e., the state, can somehow consolidate and utilize all earthly knowledge for the purposes of equalizing society. While this idealistic assumption may sound appealing, the logistical difficulties behind central planning in this fashion simply preclude most forms of socialism from existing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Young America to the Rescue!

Young America to the Rescue!: In an 1837 editorial for the Democratic Review, John L. O'Sullivan (pictured above) wrote that "all history is to be rewritten." This statement came to define the mission of the Young America Movement. Modeled after certain intellectual groups in Europe (Young Italy, Young Hegelians, etc.), Young America advocated political reforms for all Americans. And as a group of young Democrats living in New York City during the mid-nineteenth century, the movement was mostly urban and middle class. In particular, O'Sullivan was perhaps best known as the man who coined the phrase "Manifest Destiny" to depict America's westward expansion in the 1840s. According to historian Edward Widmer, the movement specifically sought to promote cultural change within the confines of Jacksonian democracy. By using visual arts, Young America hinged on the works of American artists like Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, and William Sidney Mount. These artists specialized in natural landscape paintings, which hinted at America's innocence and youthfulness. In fact, many of Young America's landscape painters belonged to a concurrent art movement known as the Hudson River School.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gettysburg: Turning Point of Turning Points

Gettysburg: Turning Point of Turning Points: The first three days of July 1863 were perhaps the most important three days in American military history. In Adams County, Pennsylvania, near the town of Gettysburg, the Army of the Potomac (Union) clashed with the Army of Northern Virginia (Confederacy). In the month prior to the battle, Confederate troops had been pillaging various towns across Southern Pennsylvania in search of supplies (shoes and food). But these Confederate troop movements had a secondary purpose; to draw part of the Union Army away from its garrison around Washington. Confederate General Robert E. Lee arranged his troops to do battle in a town with sprawling fields, rolling hills, and minimal military significance. And on July 1st, Lee gained the upper hand over Union General George G. Meade, as Confederate troops bombarded the Union's low-lying positions with artillery fire. Yet July 2nd proved a watershed in the battle, as Confederate troops moved to attack Union positions at Little Round Top, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (depicted by Jeff Daniels in the above video) guided his Union troops to a gut-wrenching victory. Gettysburg's third day (July 3rd) offered archetypal imagery for American civil religion, as it included Major General George Pickett's ill-fated Confederate charge, which gave the Union Army all the momentum it needed for the remainder of the Civil War.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On the Psychology of Diasporas

On the Psychology of Diasporas: In the postmodern West, we collectively struggle with the idea of homelessness, especially as it pertains to nationhood. Those who, by historical chance, ended up in lands far away from their true homeland are often subjected to intense ethnoracial scrutiny. Perhaps nationalism is to blame or maybe we need to reevaluate fundamentally the meaning of "citizenship." Yet it is the perverted notions of human dignity such as racism and ethnocentrism which push people to foster unruly mechanisms of exclusion and abandonment. The pseudo-romantic idea that our peoples were somehow better off in their original homelands will be challenged by any postmodern understanding of the past. You ultimately have no original homeland on Earth. As Nietzsche once stated, "Woe, when you feel homesick for the land as if it had offered more freedom - and there is no longer any land." The postmodern condition is currently eroding any ideas of racial purity from our collective unconscious. Today we are told NOT to think in terms of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, and class because each concept only breeds injustice, inequality, and intolerance. But we MUST continue to think in those terms precisely because they help us identify, and even rectify, the injustice, inequality, and intolerance of yesterday.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hip Hop as Social Commentary

Hip Hop as Social Commentary: Born in the midst of generational change, the hip-hop subculture can be viewed largely as an artistic response by African Americans to the unfulfilled promises of the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1970s and 1980s, black New Yorkers, especially in the Bronx, Harlem, Queens, and Brooklyn, struggled with various pathologies of the postmodern ghetto. Such pathologies included high teen pregnancy rates, high abortion rates, high suicide rates, high dropout rates, high homeless rates, high crime rates, high unemployment rates, and high disease rates. In particular, the sheer level of rat infestations in Section 8 public housing complexes was deadly at times. But it's important to remember that not all urban blacks considered themselves "victims" in a larger socio-political struggle. Black agency was certainly evident in the hip-hop subculture that grew from what were perceived by outsiders as dire conditions. And often, it's from the most severe oppression that the most unique creativity stems. Take the above video for example, which entails New York City rapper Nasir Jones (Nas) in his early days. Ironically, Jones hails from the largest public housing project in North America (Queensbridge, Queens).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mary Rowlandson and Praying Towns

Mary Rowlandson and Praying Towns: In February 1675, Indians from the Narragansett, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag tribes attacked Lancaster, Massachusetts. As King Philip's War was underway, they took Mary Rowlandson and her three children captive, in addition to other local Puritan settlers. And since Lancaster was a frontier settlement in close contact with the Praying Town of Nashoba (Littleton), it had numerous missionaries working there. Puritan missionaries like John Eliot established Praying Towns across the Massachusetts Bay Colony to convert local Indians to Christianity. Rowlandson's husband, for example, was the town minister in Lancaster. Ultimately, however, she recounted the harrowing tale of her 11-month captivity in The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682). The historical marker pictured above signified the location where Rowlandson's captivity ended, which occurred near Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts. Boston residents, particularly women, raised enough money to ransom Rowlandson away from the Indians' sacred grounds at Wachusett.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ridiculing Mariology

Ridiculing Mariology: Despite its name, Mariology is not the rational study of Mario from the Mario Bros. video game franchise. In fact, Mariology constitutes a theological examination of Mary as the Mother of Christ. For Catholics, Mariology symbolizes the logical extension of Christology, especially since it offers a fuller understanding of Jesus' life as a man in the world. Protestant theologians, however, generally claim that although Mary's role in Christ's life is significant, having a theology of her beliefs and teachings venerates her as a kind of goddess. In this sense, Mary's role can be seen as somewhat diluted when studying the historicity and ministry of Jesus. But the Catholic counterclaim to Protestant reservations about Mariology entails the idea that Mary's Immaculate Conception and Assumption into Heaven are two primordial pillars unto which Christians should morally ascribe. In effect, Mary represents a model of virtue that pertains to a level of Christian mysticism beyond the scope of Trinitarian theology. Mary ultimately resides just below the Trinity on Christianity's hierarchy of importance, as she is clearly the most important female figure in the entire religion.

Friday, July 1, 2011

On Surrealism

On Surrealism: Although labeled a cultural movement in early twentieth-century Europe, surrealism mainly pertained to the visual arts. Its core tenets were largely philosophical insofar as surrealist artists encouraged observers to think through the confusion and unexpectedness in their works. Artists such as René Magritte (whose work Not to be Reproduced - 1937 - is on display in the above picture) and Max Ernst fit the surrealist mold by featuring the element of unconscious surprise in their paintings. The twisting of reality was certainly avant-garde at the time, especially since it signified a new barrier of consciousness for the mind to overcome. In Magritte's Not to be Reproduced, the man expects to see his face properly reflected in the mirror, as the book on the mantelpiece is accurately reflected. But the man only sees the back of his head, which either complicates or resolves the primordial pain of vanity for him. If there ever was a painting that captured the dysfunctional nature of existential anxiety, this was it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fast Food Philosophy

Fast Food Philosophy: When one thinks of the American fast food industry, he or she probably envisions hamburgers, french fries, and soda. Yet there is a great deal more to the multi-billion dollar industry that seeks to maximize sales and minimize costs. Just as Henry Ford developed the assembly line to boost efficiency at the Ford Motor Company in the 1910s, Ray Kroc merely adapted that concept for McDonald's in the 1950s. The ability to mass produce a combination of meat, potatoes, and carbonated soft drinks brought McDonald's to the forefront of corporate America. Nevertheless, it was the booming car culture of the American West, particularly in California, that cemented the idea of "fast food" in connection with "magic motorways." Post-World War II American culture demanded convenience, as people sought to exit the city's core in favor of suburban tract housing along the city's edge. Commuting to work on freeways in one's car became the newest and most convenient form of transportation. And as Aldous Huxley wrote in his Brave New World (1932), "Speed is the only truly modern sensation." Ultimately, the combination of speed, convenience, and efficiency helped solidify the American fast food industry as a consumer staple by the late twentieth century.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our Best Days

Our Best Days: Some might say our best days lie in front of us. But do they truly understand what lies behind us? The best days of Western civilization have passed. When sailors enjoyed limitless views from the tops of ships' masts. Call me nostalgic! Call me sentimental! Call me what you will! At least I will not be medicating my unfulfilled hopes with a green and white pill. It's practical to be realistic and reasonable to be pessimistic. For idealism, in the long run, only makes you caustic. Disenchantment and disillusionment are patently creative forces. Just look at how most existential philosophers choose to frame their discourses! Yet there is serious peril looming on the horizon. And it's not something you can fix with a phone call on Verizon. There will be days of grief and days of strife. The kind of utter confusion which makes you question the general purpose of life. But if we face our future with cautiously optimistic outlooks, then we might as well refocus our collective attention on those grand old Bible books. Because the stakes are too high and we have too much to lose. Unless, of course, you're one of those who fails to choose...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ladytron and Electroclash

Ladytron and Electroclash: As an English electroclash band, Ladytron is essentially composed of two male DJs and two female singers. But role changes frequently occur throughout many songs. Having formed in Liverpool in the late 1990s, the band focused on developing sounds that reflect a distinctive blend of pop and electronic music. With primary influences originating in the New Wave movement of the early 1980s, particularly the experimental rock group Roxy Music (from which Ladytron derives their name), the band relies heavily on synthesizers, vocoders, and drum machines. The above video is a good example of how Ladytron generally structures their songs. Although the song in the video is actually a remix, it still demonstrates both the vocal and notational complexities of a typical Ladytron song. In fact, the band thrives on remixes, as they have put out a remix album for every studio album released. And despite their existence for over a decade now, the band has yet to acquire mainstream, popular recognition.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On American Race Theory

On American Race Theory: In American race theory, there are three basic pillars of thought when determining racial problems. As critical race theorist Derrick Bell has noted, they include the constitutional contradiction, the interest convergence principle, and the price of racial remedies. For the constitutional contradiction, American law originally consisted of a two-track system: one for white (property-owning) males and one for everybody else. When crafted in 1787, the Constitution counted (black) slaves as three-fifths of a person, even though in 1776, the Declaration of Independence had claimed that all men were created equal. As for the interest convergence principle, it entailed racial advances for blacks only when they also served white interests. For instance, in the early Cold War, the Soviet Union pointed to Jim Crow laws as signs that the United States was not living up to its original creed of liberty and justice for all. Therefore, passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act became a product of interest convergence among blacks and whites because the Soviet threat loomed particularly large under Premier Khrushchev. Lastly, the price of racial remedies were the high social costs that blacks and whites alike incurred to create a more equitable American society. One such racial remedy involved urban desegregation busing (pictured above). At times, students became pawns in this vast social experiment, especially when racial tensions erupted into violence.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Scopes (Monkey) Trial

The Scopes (Monkey) Trial:
In 1925, the Tennessee legislature passed the Butler Act, which precluded public school teachers from teaching evolutionary theory. This law cause immediate controversy, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) openly challenged it. John T. Scopes, a high school biology teacher, agreed to violate the statute for the ACLU by teaching some of Charles Darwin's ideas from On the Origin of Species (1859). Scopes' actions landed him in jail with a $100 bail and a grand jury indictment. The indictment led to a criminal trial, which was the first to be broadcast nationally on the radio. Aside from the radio, the trial attracted two of the nation's most prominent lawyers at the time; William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. The above video contains remade theatrical scenes from Inherit the Wind (1955), where the legal and theological debates of the prosecution and defense are on display. Although the ACLU originally planned to attack the constitutionality of the Butler Act on the grounds that it violated a teacher's right to academic freedom, Darrow later centered the argument on the difference between literal and allegorical interpretations of the Bible. Ultimately, the court found Scopes guilty of violating the Butler Act, as it upheld the law's constitutionality by stating it did not favor a particular religious view concerning man's origins. The Butler Act remained state law in Tennessee until 1967.

Friday, April 1, 2011

C. S. Lewis and Christian Apologetics

C. S. Lewis and Christian Apologetics: In 1952, C. S. Lewis published Mere Christianity as a literary adaptation of various radio talks he gave to the British public during World War II. Considered a seminal work in Christian apologetics, which defines the rational basis for Christian belief, the book defends Christian morality as a fundamental precipitant of reasoned judgment. In effect, Lewis claims that Christian morality consists of three basic levels. The primary level concerns social interactions among individuals and followed the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. The secondary level entails the creation of a balanced relationship between one's body and one's soul while the tertiary level involves the nurturing of a faith-based relationship between oneself and God. For Lewis, many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, do not think of morality beyond the primary level. But as Lewis argues, if one's personal relationship with God, soul, and body is non-existent, then deep-seated insecurities and a lack of self-respect can end up negatively affecting his or her interpersonal relationships. In short, the secondary and tertiary levels of Christian morality are often as important as the primary level for building a wholly just society.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Los Angeles: City of the Future?

Los Angeles: City of the Future?:
While its earliest promoters dubbed Los Angeles a "city of the future," most of the city's history can be defined in terms of ethnoracial tensions. Founded by the Spanish Empire in 1781, the town (pueblo) became controlled by the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. At that time, it contained a deeply-rooted Mexican community who had established huge haciendas for ranching and other agricultural purposes. As the twentieth century dawned, however, Anglo Americans began moving to Los Angeles in droves, especially since the city's Mediterranean climate and cheap land proved appealing. Yet this mass influx of Anglo Americans began to alter many of the local Mexican-American cultural customs. Sonoratown, which was one of the city's first Mexican-American barrios, became racially isolated and spatially separated due to de facto segregation. And when African Americans started migrating to Los Angeles in large numbers, particularly after World War II, the city's ethnoracial tensions exploded into race riots (Watts - 1965). Even though Asian Americans constituted an important demographic in Los Angeles' social history, it was the racial tensions between the trifecta of blacks, Mexicans, and whites that often brought the city to Hell and back. And in addition to its ethnoracial tensions, much of the city's form (8-lane freeways, large-scale tract housing, etc.) might one day inhibit its general functionality.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On Healthcare Philosophy

On Healthcare Philosophy: As a fundamental social institution, healthcare seeks to maintain and improve the well-being of people. Healthcare philosophy, therefore, centers on the study of how the healthcare process achieves its objectives in caring for patients. It also questions the general viability of healthcare's various sub-structures including, medical ethics, health economics, health politics, clinical trials, and quality assurance. In effect, there are two basic philosophical paths to understanding healthcare as a social institution: existentialism and phenomenology. From an existential perspective, the individual (patient) is at the center of the healthcare process. That is, he or she effectively controls the extent of their medical treatments from birth to death. From a phenomenological perspective, however, the individual can never account for all of the internal/external forces (phenomena) acting on his or her mind/body. Thus, phenomenologists like Heidegger would suggest that patients ought to approach healthcare from the potential consequences of the absolute negative. In other words, the possibility of entering "the Nothing" (or the total negation of tangible reality) should always be present in the patient's mind when receiving healthcare.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Existentialism in Trainspotting

Existentialism in Trainspotting: As a philosophy, existentialism is purposefully ambiguous. It seeks to emphasize the primacy of individual choice, and that, through choice, individuals can either add or subtract meaning in their lives. External forces acting on individuals are important, but an individual's existence ultimately cannot be defined by them. Thus, if individuals are the final determinants of giving their lives meaning, then they ought to scrutinize deeply their choices. Yet there are elements of transience and permanence in existential philosophy that manifest themselves lucidly in the industrialized world. These elements are certainly present in the hobby of trainspotting. For example, when a train passes a trainspotter, there is a unique self-reflective response that occurs in which the trainspotter realizes the transient nature of his existence on Earth. But through the use of a camera, the trainspotter is able to create an aura of permanence from his particular vantage point. So whereas the train represents the impersonal passing of time, the trainspotter signifies the personal supplier of meaning to the event. And at bottom, existential philosophy is only meaningful if one takes it personally.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1 9 6 8

1 9 6 8: If there was one year in the twentieth century that historians could designate as the most tumultuous, 1968 was it. Aside from the societal impact of World War I & II (and their immediate aftermaths) on the twentieth century, 1968 represented the apex of a worldwide counterculture movement. This movement generated both liberal outbursts and conservative backlashes in domestic politics (RFK assassination/Chicago Seven/Nixon election), racial integration (MLK Jr. assassination/Fair Housing Act), labor rights (French student strikes), liberation theology (Medellín Conference/Humanae Vitae), foreign immigration (Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech), and guerrilla warfare (Tet Offensive). It also signified the early unraveling of Soviet-style communism in Second and Third World countries, and likewise, Western efforts to contain it. For example, when Alexander Dubček became the Premier of Czechoslovakia in January 1968, he attempted to reform the communist regime (Prague Spring) by relaxing state control in socio-political areas like economic planning, speech censorship, administrative authority, and intrastate travel. These reforms ultimately elicited disdain from the Soviet Union, as it would later invade Czechoslovakia in August 1968 with help from its Warsaw Pact comrades.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Derrida and Deconstruction

Derrida and Deconstruction: Founded on ideas of textual description and literary analysis, the deconstructionist philosophy attempts to uncover the basic contradictions and irreconcilable ironies of a text. Developed by French post-structuralist philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1960s, deconstruction requires an in-depth examination of a text's elementary structure to identify its questionable features. Although a text may appear cohesive and cogent on the surface, it will begin to unravel after applying a deconstructionist framework to its content and organization. Despite deconstruction's novel philosophical underpinnings, its approach to literary analysis is not entirely new, but the emphasis that deconstruction places on analytic rigor is. Critics of deconstruction, however, claim that it is nothing more than intellectual nihilism, because all written works of fiction and nonfiction can be reduced to what are seemingly incompatible parts. In effect, there are no meanings to a text beyond its words, grammar, and structure. Yet if anything, deconstruction teaches writers to be bold with their prose, as it can always be deconstructed for innate contradictions, fallacies, generalizations, ironies, and prejudices.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On Communal Sacrality

On Communal Sacrality: In Homo Viator (1962), French existentialist philosopher Gabriel Marcel espoused a kind of communal philosophy that specifically pertained to sacrality. As a former atheist who converted to Catholicism around his fortieth birthday, Marcel focused his thoughts on the idea of reciprocity. Central to this idea was the sacred inter-subjectivity (common grace) of all human-to-human relationships. Marcel's communal sacrality, therefore, originated with the reciprocal nature of humanity's common grace. His communal philosophy was also akin to Emmauel Levinas' conception of face-to-face contact whereby individuals became enraptured by the Divine spark evident in each others eyes. But the phenomenological concerns raised in Heideggerian philosophy (Gelassenheit) were diametrically opposed to communal sacrality. In effect, the essence of a community stemmed from a spontaneous amalgamation of people who did not necessarily coalesce through inter-subjectivity. And even though Marcel and Heidegger attended the same academic conferences on occasion, they never openly debated their philosophical qualms.