"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Thursday, April 18, 2013

H. P. Lovecraft: Not skeptical enough.

I was reading some quotes from H.P. Lovecraft, who was a fantasy/sci-fi writer in the 20th century. This was my first brush with him, and at first, I liked what I saw. He seems like the type that when he sees a rock, he wants to look under it, then crack it open and wonder why it isn't filled with chocolate. I like that. And so Lovecraft speaks some truth by accident (so does the devil). But in the end he does not believe in a distinction between truth and falsehood, good and evil, beauty and ugliness.

Truth Goodness and Beauty are the same thing, they are being. Truth is being as seen by the intellect, goodness is being as seen by the will, and beauty is being as seen by the senses. And of course God is being and the source of all being. So when a clown like Lovecraft believes there is no distinction between good and evil (and ironically, makes distinctions to do so), or believes there is no difference between truth and falsehood (proclaiming his opinion to be true), and says beauty is merely in the eye of the beholder (yet strives to write beautiful literature), I get very tired of it.

"If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences." -H.P. Lovecraft And if irreligion were true, it's followers wouldn't teach it to their children... right Mr. Lovecraft? Because something is true because of how those who believe it act? Is that what you believe? -D.M.

So here is my examination of one of this man's statements:
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

"The most merciful thing in the world,..."

How does he know what mercy is? In relation to what? What is the world? Does it have boundaries? Is it a shared reality that both you, me and this man inhabit? Is it real? What is real? What are the words he wrote with and why can I read them? Why did he assume I would be able to read them? Is there a reality that existed when he wrote the words that he is assuming will still exist when I read them? Why would he assume that?

"I think, ..."

Why did he think this and not some other thought? Perhaps because it is better to have though this thought than other thoughts? And if so, would that not mean that he thinks this thought to be closer to something like the 'truth'? And if so, doesn't that mean there is a distinction between 'truth' and 'not truth'?

"...is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."

If it is unable to correlate all it's contents, then how can he be sure it is able to know that it is unable to do so? Why not be sceptical and assume it is able to correlate all it's contents? Why does he chose one view over the other? Is it because he believes one to be objectively more true than the other? And if so, hasn't he correlated knowledge to come to that understanding? And if so, doesn't that refute his thesis that knowledge cannot be correlated?

"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity,..."

The fact that he mentions an island in a black sea of infinity implies a finite arena in which the island exists, with a separation of "island" and "sea", otherwise he would have said "we are a black sea of infinity". therefore the situation he describes with an island is actually one of knowledge, not ignorance. Knowing one is on and island in a sea is actually to know quite a lot. In some ways it is to know everything.

"...and it was not meant that we should voyage far."

Why? I see no reason to believe this statement. And as I said, knowing you are on the island is to already have correlated knowledge and made a very specific statement about not only the island, but about an area that is "infinitely" far away (the black seas of infinity), and even to have gone so far as to claim to know that it is infinite and black is a very bold statement based on knowledge. So this very statement is refuted by the statement itself. By claiming knowledge about the far away thing, it is silly to say you werent meant to go far away to get the knowledge. A tight little circle like a snake eating itself into nothingness.

Skepticism always ends in this hypocrisy. Skeptics are never skeptical enough, but are always selectively skeptical about things. They should be skeptical of their skepticism, but they never are.
There is much we don't understand, but we have the ability to recognize truth, goodness and beauty, and to work towards understanding more of them. The fact we can do this implies we are made in God's image and our goal is union with our creator. We are not on the island he describes, but in a valley. We can reach the mountaintop, but it requires work and a greater understanding of 'being', not a dissolution or blurring of it. We need greater participation in real being, aka- greater participation in the source of being, aka- theosis. Authentic theosis is not the melting of distinctions/knowledge into a black sea of ignorance, but the refining of distinctions/knowledge so we can participate in the love within the Trinity.


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