Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Creation and Evolution: Ethically Neutral?

Before I stopped believing in Santa Claus, I started feeling fairly confident about the theory of evolution. I don't know if this makes me a bad mystic-spiritualist, but geology and stuff, fossils, whatever--it just makes sense. And for the record, I don't feel like arguing about it.

But, I have this trigger mechanism in my brain that trips a circuit whenever I hear someone using an "or else" argument--e.g.: God must exist, or else everything is meaningless. Things like that. So when I heard some guy on some panel about some topic arguing that the apparent increase in conservative forms of religiosity (fundamentalism) will probably be really bad for scientific understanding--in fact, he cited a "scary" statistic that only 51% of high school biology teachers believe in evolution--I felt my brain jerk.

Again: If I taught high school biology, and someone called me up and said, "Do you accept the theory of evolution," I would say yes. However, I don't exactly see what the great disaster would be. There have always been creationists among us, running around believing that they and all those around them are only about 200 or 300 generations removed from Adam and Eve. It seems fairly harmless to me. In fact, in one view, people are special-case animals, and in another, they are all children of god and one big family. The second view seems at least as likely to produce the outcomes we all want: love and comaraderie, etc.

Evolution has been big news since the early part of the 20th century, and dates back to the mid-19th. Is the world better? Are people nicer? Has "believing in evolution" helped our species?

I'm genuinely asking these questions: it may very well be that scientists would not have discovered all these fancy things that make us live longer if they went home at night and believed in God or creation or whatever. I'm just not trained in science enough to know. From my perspective, believing in creation may make you less-well-educated than me, or more stubborn, or fundamentalist, or whatever -- but I'm not going to avoid moving into a house one day because the neighborhood is creationist-friendly.

Am I wrong here? -- someone list the consequences of the creationist outlook (though keep in mind, I might counter with the benefits of the creationist outlook, just for argument's sake).

Zihuatanejo and the Grant Street Parking Garage Dilemma

I can't help it -- I hope this sounds like excitement and not boasting: my almost-bride and I have selected Zihuatanejo, Mexico for the site of our forthcoming seven-night honeymoon. Neither of us has seen the Pacific, so that's how we started our search, and when the word Zihuatanejo sprung up in one of our searches, it was a sealed deal. Anyone who has seen the final five minutes of The Shawshank Redemption will understand. Here are the final lines of the script:

RED: I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain... I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

And here's a map, followed by a picture of where we're staying. I'll let you just imagine the view:

------
Then the other day my friend and fellow former-truth-seeker (he's engaged now), Brian D., came into my office telling the story of what went down in the parking garage. Our parking garage, like all parking garages, seems poorly designed. I say seems because there really is no way around the awkwardness--cars aren't as agile as gazelles, after all. Brian's fiancee was driving, and (as usual, they both admitted), she decided to turn the wrong way in the parking garage in order to avoid having to follow the traffic signs and drive all the way around the perimeter of the large garage. To get to the 5th floor (I've odometered it) involves about .7 miles worth of driving, which can be cut to about .3 if one "cheats" all the way up. On their way up, they came face-to-face with another surprised driver who had driven the proper way up the garage and gave them a "WTF?" look through his windshield.

Low and behold (what does that phrase mean, Michael?): as Brian and his future wife exit the parking garage, the man accosts them: "Hey, were you the one turning the wrong way in the garage?--you could've called an accident, you know?"

Brian's driver/fiancee: "Oh, yeah--sorry."
Angry man: "Well, are you above the law?"
Brian's driver: "It's just a parking garage."
Angry man: "Oh, so--rules don't apply there?"
Brian: "You wanna fight, man?--let's go."
Angry man: (walks away scoffing)
Brian: "See you later, Captain Democracy."

Obviously, something went wrong here among some human beings. There is no danger in driving against the traffic signs in the parking garage--I want to emphasize that. No one will get hurt, and it is very unlikely that anyone's vehicle will get scratched, dented, or dinged. And yet, my sympathy is split here. I take the long way up in the garage every day -- though I have cheated in this garage in the past.

I love this issue because it seems right out of a Platonic dialogue to me. If you aren't Brian, you'll probably see that Angry man makes an interesting point: a rule is a rule, after all. And if Brian and his driver can go the wrong way, why can't everyone else?--and what would happen if we all did? Brian's "argument" is not coherent; so let's consider his fiancee's: "It's just a parking garage." She means to imply that there is no danger. Also a good point.

So ultimately the question is: Is this angry exchange avoidable?--or is it the product of bad laws? Or bad architecture? Is it institutional? Is Brian's driver at fault? Brian? The Angry driver man? I have a little aphorism that I made up not long ago: "Good people love to break bad laws, and bad people love to break good laws." Take my word for it: Brian and his future-wife are not bad people...

So what's the story here?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Conscience alone divines unity..."

Amos Bronson Alcott was sort of a literary preacher, a kind of lesser Ralph Waldo Emerson. Among his "Orphic Sayings," which appeared in The Dial in 1843/44, number XV concerns "Identity and Diversity." His description of the tension between our impulse towards unity and our impulse towards diversity is very clear and succinct:
It is the perpetual effort of conscience to divorce the soul from the dominion of sense; to nullify the dualities of the apparent, and restore the intuition of the real. The soul makes a double statement of all her facts; to conscience and sense; reason mediates between the two. Yet though double to sense, she remains single and one in herself; one in conscience, many in understanding; one in life, diverse in function and number. Sense, in its infirmity, breaks this unity to apprehend in part what it cannot grasp at once. Understanding notes diversity; conscience alone divines unity, and integrates all experience in identity of spirit. Number is predicable of body alone; not of spirit.

I've been trying to figure out a way to articulate something like this as I sense, more with each semester, that the word diversity seems less an less interesting to my students, who have heard it sounded through their classrooms since they were 8- or 10-years old. It's not that they are anti-diversity (although many of my peers like to fault them for not having spent a good part of their life in New York City or backpacking through Europe, etc.) -- rather, they are no longer moved by the claims of diversity, which seem to have lost their freshness. In my students' words: "Yeah, diversity--what else is new?"

Alcott is right to suggest that it is the understanding that "notes" and discovers diversity. But given two diverse objects--or better still, two diverse beings--it is only the conscience that sees an underlying unity through surface differences. I am convinced that if my students need any intellectual medicine, it must be some idea that helps them see through difference to discover underlying sameness. Anyone who has ever heard an 18-year old say "Well, everyone has a right to their opinion," or, "He'll do his thing, I'll do mine," might understand where I'm coming from. The "point" of the diversity movement of the '80s and '90s seems to have been lost. It is not enough to be atomistic and mutually uncoercive beings.

Here's to "nullifying the dualities of the apparent." We all know the problems of turning in the direction of unity; it is not without its problems. But the problems involved in shifting our focus may be equal to or even less than the problems associated with figuring ourselves as diverse agents -- it may be true that I am [some quality], and you are [some other quality], but we may very well have more in common than we have been educated to think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Split Turkey Bwest

(A post titled in the style of Wishydig)

Tonight on NBC's Last Comic Standing one of the Australian comedians made a joke about flying on an airline from the United Arab Emerites to Australia -- the joke had something to do with being startled awake in the middle of the night by an Arabic voice over the PA system warning of turbulence. He didn't understand it, and was scared... his punchline was something like, "In case anyone has forgotten, those of us in the West can be a little iffy about hearing Arabic hollered over the speaker system on an airplane."

Lame joke -- but what caught my ear was the reference to Australia as part of the West. I think I've finally had it with these terms: "East" and "West." They seem to refer to philosophical or theological traditions at least as much, if not more, than they refer to location. Look:


My objection here isn't just for the sake of geographical trivia. Look at Australia. Australia can only be said to be a part of the West ideologically, not geographically (and of course, it doesn't matter whether your map looks different than this one--Australia is parallel with Japan). But speaking of Japan, why is Japan still an "Eastern" country? It certainly shares Western capitalistic/democratic governing principles.

Look also at Africa -- right below Europe, but not part of the West. And Russia, well... far be it from me to say anything authoritative about Russia (if anything, Russia transcends the East/West paradigm: Russia is an idea more than it is a physical location). Not to mention the less-well-defined "Middle East" (notably not described as "Middle West" -- after all, "we" don't want them on our team).

So here's how this is annoying: there absolutely is a need for the East/West distinction in philosophical traditions. But the East/West pairing, which connotes a sense of totality (where else could there be if not East or West?), leaves out at least one continent and the biggest country by area in the world, and disqualifies places like Turkey for trying to straddle the line.

Anyone else ever annoyed by this? I think the East/West vision has been very useful in philosophical and theological history, but it seems to have reached the end of its line... Suggestions for revision?

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Name Above All Things

My friend Brian got his copy of the Nag Hammadi Library today -- mostly as a favor to me, probably. I told him to start with the Gospel of Philip. Here's my favorite part:
One single name is not uttered in the world, the name which the Father gave to the Son; it is the name above all things: the name of the Father. For the Son would not become Father unless he wore the name of the Father. Those who have this name know it, but they do not speak it. But those who do not have it do not know it.

All I can say is that this is true. Any guesses as to what this mysterious name might be? -- of course, there's no chance anyone will get the right answer, because those who know it do not say it. Still, for my amusement. Anyone want to admit to knowing it? Brian, did you figure this out yet? I'll offer only this commentary: there is a profound reason why the one who knows this unutterable name does not speak it -- it is not an ethical reason, nor is it a kind of "secret knowledge." It is not so much that the name is unspeakable as unhearable.

Not incidentally, the preceding paragraph (in Philip), which I've quoted before, offers some substantial clues:
Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word "God" does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with "the Father" and "the Son" and "the Holy Spirit" and "life" and "light" and "resurrection" and "the Church (Ekklesia)" and all the rest - people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world [...] deceive. If they were in the Aeon (eternal realm), they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the Aeon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gods among Men

I was reading Plato's Apology today (okay, listening to an audio text, honestly) by the pool. In case you don't know it, it describes the trial of Socrates, who ends up sentenced to death or exile for something like heresy (he chooses death by hemlock). In his own defense, he summons the testimony of the legendary Oracle of Delphi. Check it out:
O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi -- he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether -- as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt -- he asked the oracle to tell him whether anyone was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of what I am saying.

Socrates says that "the God of Delphi" will witness in his defense. Later Socrates responds to Meletus' accusation that he is an atheist by saying,
...no one who has a particle of understanding will ever be convinced by you that the same men can believe in divine and superhuman things, and yet not believe that there are gods and demigods and heroes.

This is sort of the punchline to Socrates' argument that no one would be so foolish as to believe in horsemanship, but not horses, or flute-playing, but not flute-players. Because he belives in divine and superhuman things, he argues, he must believe in "gods, demigods and heroes." And heroes? Something fishy is going on here with words.

Socrates comes to us through the centuries as an eccentric, but not a madman -- in fact, most people think of him as a light in darkness. If nothing else, Socrates took great care in dealing with definitions and language. Because he was in court, and because his entire life and work were on the line, he tried to use language that would be as intelligible in the court as it had been in the market, or in the streets. And keep in mind, he was trying to prove that he did believe in superhuman things--he was on trial for disbelieving, or for having different gods than the state.

But how are heroes superhuman? And how can the Oracle at Delphi be called "God?" The powerful "men of Athens" before whom Socrates is made to defend himself were loosely polytheistic--we know that from the history books. But could that signify something to us that it did not signify to them? What if I suggest that we have our own gods?: Franklin, Jefferson, Emerson, Edison, Oprah.

Socrates' great heresy, his major intellectual contribution, was to collapse these gods, to recognize in them a single light--to discover the One. Refusing to pay homage to the conventional, state-sanctioned "gods," Socrates bravely declares,
Some one may wonder why I go about in private giving advice and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you why. You have heard me speak at sundry times and in divers places of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child; it always forbids but never commands me to do anything which I am going to do. This is what deters me from being a politician.

This voice within is Socrates' One and only God. It is not external, but internal. As Emerson said 2,000 years later, "Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment." I'll only add: I think we need to begin thinking about a new terminology, something that captures this insight, but represents it in a new package. What was once the virtue of Odysseus exists in all of us. What was once called God we all know as love. What we have known as love has passed as beauty. In his turn, Emerson almost managed to get away with calling it "self."

When, in (about?) the 1960s, someone in San Fransisco described his hallucination-experience as "awesome," he meant precisely that: the vision inspired awe, was grand, transcendent. Others may have picked up the language. By 1970, a young woman in Indiana returned from a rare trip to the ocean to describe what she saw to her friends: "awesome." Soon (1995), however, teenagers were using the word to describe a keg-stand they did on Friday night. In less than four decades, the word went from meaningful to meaningless. And so what words Whitman chose, "I celebrate myself," we rightfully mistrust. Too much interest in the Self is a vice in our culture, not a path to transcendence. Randall Jarrell, through Brian, taught me this: "The darkness from the darkness. / Pain comes from the darkness / And we call it wisdom. / It is pain."

Ask: why is there so much more scholarly interest in beauty than there is in ugliness? What makes us prefer love to hatred? What is the thing--what shall we call it? With Plotinus, I might start calling it the "intellectual-principle" for a while, just to freshen things up. Or, I might call it "Randall Jarrell" or "Brian."

Darkness comes from wisdom and we call it pain. It is darkness.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sayings and Aphorisms -- #7

The prophet knows what others need to hear in order that they may believe--this is what leads St. Paul to beg the greatest spiritual question in the form of an almost unbearably haunting command: Pray without ceasing.

------

In case you doubt the translation, here are a dozen others:
  • Pray without ceasing
  • Pray continually
  • Pray all the time
  • Be unceasing in prayer
  • Never stop praying
  • Continually pray ye
  • Pray unceasingly
  • Pray constantly
  • Without ceasing pray ye
  • Nunca dejéis de orar
  • Priez sans cesse
  • Betet unablässig!

See Also.

From the Archives

On Communication

In the past, you were always trying to explain something to me, and you were almost invariably wise and articulate, but I was deaf.

Now, in my memories of the past, you are always patiently explaining something to me and I am hearing you, but you are struggling with words--there is wisdom on your brow, but I cannot quite understand your meaning.

In my imagination, we sit down in the future with a glass of red wine in early autumn, after the sunset, near water or a fire (or both), and I am perfectly prepared to listen--but something happens when I think of the future. In front of that campfire, with the past behind us, we will have forgotten why we have met in mid October; you will have nothing to say. And it is a good thing, because I fear I will be distracted by the irregular crackle of dry wood.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

In Defense of Astrology

In retrospect, it seems like the powers that have been over-emphasized the preposterousness of astrology--which, of course, makes me want to reconsider. Right up there with alchemy and witchcraft in the popular imagination, astrology appears right next to the comics in our daily newspaper.

But consider this chart.

If babies learn very specific skills and behaviors during narrow periods of time, then it seems quite reasonable to suppose that the time of year during which they were learning those skills and behaviors might be relevant on long term development. If, for example, I learn something like object permanence during the months of summer, I may learn it by play hide-and-seek behind a large oak tree. Alternatively, if I learn object permanence during the winter months, I may learn it by watching a toy drop out of vision down a stairwell and discovering that it remains even when I can't see it. These are two very different settings for learning.

If my parents take me outside when I am 3 months old because the weather is nice, I may observe natural shapes--pin oak leaves, blades of grass, branches of trees. On the other hand, indoor learning may aquaint me with regular shapes--television sets, kitchen tables, tile flooring, etc. I'm an Aquarius, which means I was born between January 2nd and February 19th. My parents took me outside very much to play when I was 3-6 months old. Someone born in October might not be outdoors as much between 3-6 months of age.

Doesn't this make sense? Should we try blending together melted metals to make gold...?

On "The Doctrine of Hatred"

Three difficult sayings:

1. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in "Self-Reliance":
Your goodness must have some edge to it--else it is none. The doctrine of hatred must be preached, as the counteraction of the doctrine of love, when that pules and whines.

2. Jesus, in The Gospel of Thomas (#55):
Whoever does not hate his father and his mother cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me. (See Also)

3. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith:

God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

If you understand Jefferson, you may be able to understand Emerson. What would it mean for the "doctrine of love" to pule and whine? How would the doctrine of hatred be a solution? The "dark" American romance writers--Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Dickinson--were deeply unsatisfied with the sentimental novels permeating the publishing industry in the 1820s-1840s. If you've never had the time to read any of these novels, trust me: they're mushy. They typically espouse a banal doctrine of "love" and graciousness, often warning young ladies against marrying a "rake." The love expressed in those books seems, for most people today, to fall flat, to be inauthentic, insincere. It took a refreshed understanding (via refreshed language) to restore the genuineness to the old and ever-true "doctrine of love." Similarly in Russia during the 1860s, when the "Sons" refused to accept the values and definitions of the "Fathers."

On the other hand, I wonder if an "opposite" dynamic may be true as well. E.M. Cioran confessed,
When I catch myself nursing an impulse to Revolt, I take a sleeping pill or consult a psychiatrist. Any means will due if you pursue Indifference without being predisposed to it.

Any genius will see how love and hatred may be the same coin--different words for the same giant thing; but only a prophet may discover how passion and indifference are kindred as well.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cat-with-a-Bow Golf

This is fun. I shot -12 my first round. No one will ever beat that. And I've been waiting for "them" to make this game my entire life... so good.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

My First Painting (in 20 years)

After I found out that I was distantly related to Edvard Munch, I figured it was sort of an ethical obligation to try my hand at painting. Here's my first watercolor, based on my memory of the beach-view in Glen Arbor Michigan, where my family vacationed annually from the early-1980s until the mid-1990s. The island on the right is North Manitou Island. It's a little Bob Ross-ish, but c'mon!--not bad, right?


Here's a photograph that I found (after completing my painting!) for comparision:

Guess they chopped down my imaginary Bob-Ross-ish pine tree.

Ex Uno Plura

Marc, this one's for you:


Following up on my exceedingly good post, Zero, One, Many, I want to suggest a revision of the national motto, which has always been E pluribus unum, "Out of many, one."

I think it's about time we inverted that motto to reflect the changes in our national values. Our new motto would be E unum pluribus, or, "Out of one, many." Unless I'm mistaken, it does seem that diversification rather than unification has become our goal, and I have always believed that clear articulation of goals is important to productivity. You wouldn't wear a "Vote Republican" button and then work hard to elect a Democrat, so why should we carry around this burdensome, outdated phrase that no longer reflects our national goal?

Of course, just as our quest for union brought us into civil war and eventually to discover the ennui of unum, I'm sure our quest for diversity will bring us to civil war and allow us to discover the ennui of pluribus, but what else is there to do?

Some day, a nation will rise whose only motto is E pluribus unum; E unum pluribus, etc., etc., and that will be one fine place to live most of the time.

**Update: Looks like I'm not the first to think of this, which makes me a slow learner, but confirms that it is a reasonable idea. Language Log even suggests that my reconfiguration is ungrammatical, but my common-sense inversion seems perfectly practical to me. Here is the preferred officially grammatical translation. Any thoughts, Wishydig Buppy!--you're on chapter 11 by now?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sayings and Aphorisms -- #6

Meditate on that which is farthest from you, but remember all that fills the space between It and you. In that way, you may really forget God.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Zero, One, Many

I am of the opinion that Western culture has focused for too long on the distinction between "the One" and "the Zero," where One corresponds to things like God, the Oversoul, humanism, etc. and Zero corresponds to meaninglessness and nihilism and the kind of existential doubt that characterized the first half of the 20th century. Please try to understand my terms.

But sometime during the 1990s, the cultural tide started to change. Someone remembered the "Many," which corresponds to diversity. More accurately, the Many achieved a threshold status that allowed it to spring to life in mainstream Western culture. Things must've looked grim before those days, when all anyone thought about was whether or not existence had any "higher" purpose. Logical positivists. Camus taking suicide to be the only significant question for philosophy. Wallace Stevens' poems. Kafka. Cold War. Then Diversity was offered as a panacea--the Many had arrived on the stage for the first time in centuries. One could fortell the future by listening to the complaints of conservatives: "Well, but--that's moral relativism!" The accusation of "relativism" was meant to communicate a metaphysical objection to the Many, but had not been needed or employed in so long that it fell flat. Things were not meaningless (Zero), and everyone was not the same (One). Diversity triumphed. Schoolchildren swallowed it like yummy cough medicine. The Many was rising.

And please don't misunderstand. This essay isn't against Many or against diversity, but should be read as a kind of hesitation -- time to take our collective temperature again. We recall the down sides to both the Zero (much lamented by existential Christians like Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard, as well as by orthodox Christians trained in argument) and the One (which manifested itself as political fascism more than once during the last century). But is there any down side to the Many? Take a look at my chart, devised to help me get through a dissertation chapter on Herman Melville:


We know the old dichotomy of Damnation and Salvation, which constituted the whole field of interest of the Western world from about 400 A.D./C.E. until at least a thousand years later. By the time of the founding of America, the Many had begun to show itself again, manifesting itself in the form of political "faction," which frightened the founders into arguing for a strong central government (i.e., a "One") in The Federalist Papers. In political terms, it is easy to see: on one side, a fear of anarchy (Zero) -- on the other, warring factions (Many). Union was the answer for those who wrote America into existence.

But as usual, I'm not so interested in discussing political points -- the negative points are easy to discover on every side of the argument. Note one thing, though: in political terms, it is easy to see the difficulties with either extreme (Zero & Many). In psychological/spiritual terms, however, it is not so simple, because we tend to have an impulse to see in dual terms, even though there are three possibilities (Zero, One, Many). Almost everyone perceives the universe as an opposition between two forces, forgetting a third way.

For some, that forgetfulness means a rose-colored glasses look at nihilistic meaninglessness, the Zero; for others, it means a rose-colored glasses look at schizophrenic detachment, or the Many (also called Buddhist Enlightenment).

I have Christian friends who are worried about the Zero (about what they perceive to be the meaninglessness of the world without God) without thinking about the Many. I also have atheist friends who are worried about the One (what they often call "fascism" or "tyranny") without facing the Zero. On the third hand, I know very few people who are equally fearful of of schizophrenia, or factional barbarism. This suggests to me that we are in a phase where we have recently rediscovered the Many, but have not yet collectively faced the problems associated with it. Thesis: And that is only because the Many has not yet entered the Western world, has not yet been made flesh.

The problems with the Zero have been nihilism and meaninglessness, or spiritual damnation. The One was offered as the antidote against the Zero. But somewhere along the way, certain thinkers, poets, scholars, etc. started to notice that the One was not a perfect solution either (see Captain Ahab, whose white whale is the perfect problematic One). Since that rediscovery, other thinkers have suggested a solution: the Many! That will fix it. They see the problems of the One (tyranny and closed perception) and offer to fix it with the Many. Democratic political structures and "open-mindedness" have been the aims of the pushers of the Many. Have we reached the end of history? Or are there problems with the Many?

Trusting nothing is the Zero. It has its problems. Trusting only a single Holy Text or one's self is the One--it also has its problems. Listening to everyone is the Many. Have you ever really listened to everyone? Have you tried to open your mind to the Many? I'm interested. My own experience has been that the Many is no more or less a solution (or a problem) than either the Zero or the One. In fact, I want to suggest that the line that looks like this:
Zero-----------One-----------Many


...is not really a line at all. Instead, this is a kind of loop of history, and that it is through the Many that the Zero manifests itself in the world. When all is considered, when everything is granted coequal authority, the Zero is made flesh. It is our nature to rage against the One, and so we shall.

How unimportant it is that you accept my argument!--I am only concerned that you have understood my terms.