Τετάρτη, 12 Μαρτίου 2014

The Garden of Eden



Humans draw on experience. We are "genetically programmed" to do so. This is not necessarily a bad thing; if anything, it is probably a neutral thing. But, as with so many ‘neutral’ things, practically anything from the internet to nuclear power, it is when man’s reasoning kicks in that things start to change and take the hue of our own intervention. Our intervention, more often than not, consists solely of our experience on the matter. Knowledge is something hard to attain: it takes a lot of time and effort, things that people rarely apply to their search of truth (‘still won’t research and find all the root of the truth that he speaks of’[1]). Experience is often the easy, effortless alternative. In this way, we cannot claim fully objective understanding of and opinion on any single matter. All this is about the understanding and absorbing of already existing things and situations. But that happens when man’s experience interferes with reality? There is only one truth; different interpretations of it confuse us and trick us into claiming the existence of many different truths, something overly convenient for many. However, when we speak of truth, convenience is rarely a good thing.
On to the Garden of Eden: what a magnificent little fairy tale. I will not engage in the process of explaining in a reasonable way that there is no external force in the name of a ‘god’, because this is not the place for it. I choose to draw on the truth, universal as all truth is, that there is no god. Taking as a given that man has created religion, for a variety of reasons (from reinstating our sense of belonging, to many different political and economic reasons), it is interesting to search for signs of our human experience that may have influenced the details of a religion. As the title may suggest, I shall be occupied with Christianity. Let us take the example of the Garden of Eden.
The Garden of Eden constitutes or resembles a parallel universe, one in which the two first people to have ever existed, only just created by God, live peacefully in the company of all animals, surrounded by the virgin nature (note the use of the word ‘virgin’, a word so beloved by Christian officials). However, happiness does not go on forever; to define how much time passes before things go wrong is probably impossible, as there is no sense of time in this fictional parallel universe. At some point, anyway, Eve gets ‘tricked’ by the snake into eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, the very same tree that God had explicitly ordered them not to eat from, and goes on to feed it to Adam as well. This is the first instance of human experience reflected in this little story. Humans possess the ‘gift’ of curiosity (yet another neutral thing). Anyone who is in search of the truth of things would argue that eating from a Tree of Knowledge cannot be a punishable act, but, rather, everyone’s right. (Note that we cannot claim that everyone should eat from the tree; we all have the right to live in a lie, and no one can deny that knowing the truth at all times may be impractical, even if the difficulty arises because of the very people who live in the lie.)
Now, we have to keep in mind that, the human experiences that are reflected in the details of any given religion, while they may of course be accidental, many times they have a specific purpose. In this case, the purpose is to deprive humans of certain indefeasible privileges, according to the principles of Christianity. When Eve obeys[2] her curiosity and takes a bite off the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, she acts in a way in which many of us would have acted, were we in the same position. And this is exactly the problem: Christianity is founded on the basis of blind obedience to a higher authority (God) without ever searching for the truth of the matter. This is why the word ‘blasphemy’, such a strong and vicious one, is used to describe every instance of free and independent thinking on the believers’ side. Here I would like to point out that, against religion as I may be, my objection is not towards the believers in general, but specifically those who, in the name of their religion, cause harm to their fellow human beings; namely, those who obey their god’s will so blindly, that they won’t even stop to think who they harm in the process of believing. Back to the Garden of Eden. When Eve and Adam both eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, God emerges out of nowhere to punish them for disobeying him by casting them out of the Garden of Eden once and for all, cursing them to a life of labour. Note how the word ‘labour’ is being used today to describe hard work, as well as childbirth (‘woman goes into labour’). The criticisms of this particular instance are numerous.
First of all, here arises the exquisite paradox of God’s almightiness. For one might wonder (and rightfully so, since our faculty of thinking and reasoning about things shall not be hindered by something as preposterous as a religion), if it was indeed so important that Adam and Eve should not eat from the Tree of Knowledge, why did God put it in the same place as they were? The answer to this paradox, as any devoted Christian will claim, is that Adam and Eve should of course obey God’s orders so that they would not be tricked by any factor, external (snake) or internal (curiosity), into disobeying their maker. Then, why did not God create Adam and Eve in such a way that it would be impossible for them to disobey his orders?, the inquisitive mind would continue. The devoted Christian will once again have the answer ready, as the brainwashing of religion is indeed hard to defy: but, of course, God did not create humans to be mindless robots, but, rather, he blessed them with the gift of free will. This is perhaps one of the strongest arguments of Christianity against blasphemous inquiries of this sort. Whether God has faith in human kind (what a twist) and believes that we will not let him down by disobeying him, is to me unclear. I will leave it to a better Christian than myself to answer this. However, the reason why we are ‘blessed’ with free will is of no importance here: what is important is that the whole concept of free will is, in fact, a falsity. Here, the paradox unfolds itself, if we consider the following points. First off, let us establish the definition of ‘free will’: I believe it is commonly accepted that free will means that man has the freedom to think and reason, and subsequently act in any way he/she sees fit to the situation. The factors that may influence such a decision are irrelevant; what we need to focus on in order for the argument to be developed is that, in any given situation (extreme situations such as authoritative states are not considered here), man has complete freedom to act in any way he/she chooses.
Having established a coherent definition of the concept of free will, let us go on to explain how the Christian claim that humans are created by God possessing free will is disproved. The ultimate aim of any good and faithful Christian is to live a good and moral life, in order to gain a place in Paradise, once their body dies. The goodness and morality in this case are, of course, defined by Christian officials. Since free will is one of man’s faculties, however, it stands to reason that we can always act in a way that is considered bad or immoral (always by Christian officials). Should they lead a bad and immoral life, Christians are condemned to spend eternity in Hell, a place of agony and suffering. To get an idea of what is accepted as good and moral and what is not, we can look at the Ten Commandments. According to them, stealing, killing, lying and being unfaithful are considered bad and immoral. This is something that we can all agree to, a universal code of ethics and morality, if you will; i say it is universal, because all human beings are born equal, and all have the right to life, to private possessions and to truth, among others. Accordingly, depriving a human being of these sights is immoral and unethical. However, the Ten Commandments go on to order Christians to do some things that are not as universal and unequivocal; for example, ‘never speak God’s name in vain’ and ‘never swear’. Of course, the Ten Commandments are not the only source Christians turn to when in doubt about the goodness and morality of their actions. Let us not forget the ever-popular, all-time classic handbook, the Bible. (Oh, the Bible. Even the very name of the holy book should spark some faith into us, heathens. But maybe next time.) I will not elaborate on particular examples, as my knowledge around the Bible is very little (as much as I enjoy fiction), but it suffices to say that, along with some nice little stories (including, of course, the Garden), the Bible is very much an index of the ‘dos and don’ts’ of Christianity, for all the faithful to follow. That would be a Christian code of ethics and morality, as opposed to the aforementioned universal code. So far, we have established that Christians have to live their lives in accordance to the teachings of Jesus and God’s orders, in order to spend eternity in the beauty of Paradise, in the grace of God; if they don’t, they are doomed to spend eternity in the fiery pits of Hell, in the wicked company of the Devil. I believe that the paradox is clear now. We are free to act on our own will during our lives, but we have to follow the aforementioned Christian code of ethics and morality if we want to spend eternity in Paradise. I think it is safe to assume that, concerning the hypothetical afterlife (I say ‘hypothetical, as I believe no such thing exists), no one in their right mind would choose eternal torture, physical and psychological, over eternal peace of mind and serenity. Therefore, even though man is created by God as possessing the faculty of free will, we are, in fact, not free at all to actually exercise it, if that would mean going against the dogmas of Christianity; were we to do so, we would be condemned to an eternity of suffering in the afterlife.


[1] Lyrics from the song ‘Patience’, by Damian Marley & Nas
[2] I chose the word ‘obey’, because at times, when we follow our urges or wishes, we do so in a manner that is almost forced, thus implying that reasoning is not always involved.

Κυριακή, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2013

 When I first saw him, he was sitting on a chair. Although, it would be fair to say that it was not him I noticed in the first place, but, rather what he was holding: it was a small "roto" (a tiny, furry animal, a bird that looks like some sort of a rodent). I immediately stopped, and asked what it was, and if I could pet it. While doing so, I kneeled before him, and that is when I noticed him.
 Not only was he beautiful, but he had this intense beauty that pierced right through me and almost forced me to stand still, gazing into his eyes for a few seconds. His hair was straight, silky, falling just a little below his shoulders, dressed in a sweet honey brown; his eyes, of the same colour, almost turned green when the sun hit them. But the one feature that kept me enchanted for the most time, was his mouth. Was it? No, it was not his mouth; it was the smile. When his face turned to me and he smiled, I felt protected, I felt safe, as if nothing bad could ever happen to me, and no one could ever harm me.
 I saw him again; after a short while, when I was leaving; he was going up the escalator. I was too shy to look at him at first, but when I reluctantly did so, I was more than rewarded; he kept smiling at me - even playfully blew a kiss at last, before I lost him from my sight.
 I did not really expect to see him ever again, but I was surprised next day, when I set eyes on him again. I felt as if he had planned it, mainly because of his ever so warm smile that did not prove any surprise at all. My content was immense. We spent the rest of the day together, as if we knew each other forever - not as plain friends, but as something slightly more. He played the keyboard dancing around, and every conversation we had was not spoken, but sung. I was so happy, just to merely have him around me, smiling in his own wonderful manner, protectively, almost like someone who wanted to have me in his life. His clothes were colourful, with big patches of red and yellow, bringing to mind some wondrous charmer from a magical fairytale, who, with his flute as a powerful weapon, could charm and bewitch me to the point where I would follow him everywhere. Truth be told; I wanted nothing less.
 I was still not sure to see him next day, no one had made such a promise; and yet, I knew I would. So did he; in fact, it seemed to me like it was for him to decide, and he was, perhaps, as eager for us to meet, as I was. Like I felt, I saw him. But something was different and quite odd; he was not standing up, nor did he come near me. He was sitting on a chair, but not just a plain one; it was a wheelchair. He was not capable of standing up, much less walking. How had I not seen that before? My surprise was big, but not nearly as much as my feeling of sadness. Why was this happening? How was it even possible? He was unable to stand, and yet his smile would not for a second leave his face as he looked at me. A new lovely feature was visible at one on him: he was brave. He was so awfully brave, and filled so much with his will to enjoy life (and perhaps, I'd like to add, his will to see me) that he overcame this difficulty. And still, I was sad. I almost couldn't bear seeing him in such a condition, no matter how happy he still seemed. He beckoned for me to go near him, obviously waiting for another beautiful day. However, as much as I wanted to, I could not disguise my emotions, and as I went near him and kneeled before his chair -this monstrous symbol of limitation and inability- my eyes betrayed me by proving my inner feelings. He looked at me, a shade of gray quickly passing from his beautiful eyes that instantly turned to a dark brown. his expression was similar to mine; it obviously saddened him to see me in such a state of emotions. His face was close to mind, as his lips slowly parted from each other, and he asked me in a heart-breaking sad voice: "My beautiful angel, why are you sad?". I dared not answer his question; I was terrified that he would mistake my concern for pity, and I knew he could not stand such a thing. But he kept looking at me, and so I had no choice but to answer him, I could not leave him worried for a second more. And so, I hesitantly tried to reply, stuttering: "I... I just... I cannot stand seeing you like that." To my absolute terror, what I had feared, became true. His expression changed at once. What... was that anger? His beautiful and protective smile vanished and his eyes almost turned black... "So you feel pity for me? I could never imagine you would do such a thing."
 The disgrace and, worse, disgust I saw in his eyes and heard in his voice were unbearable. I wanted to explain that it was not like that, that I was torn because he could not walk, but at the same time I was amazed by his bravery and strength; not for a second did I feel sorry for him or pity him in the slightest way -I never would. But there was not time for explanations; he immediately turned his chair the other way and moved away from me, until he vanished from my sight.What I felt, truly cannot be put in words. I was more than torn, felt as if he had ripped my heart out, but I could not ever blame him for that. All the blame I put it on me, me only.
 Starting from the next day, I looked for him everywhere, tried to contact him in every possible way, but miserably failed to do so. I was so upset, that nothing could make me enjoy going out and seeing other people. Everything I used to enjoy doing, suddenly was nothing; everything had lost all meaning after his sudden disappearance. I think I saw him once, from some distance, walking alone. I tried to reach him; I started running towards him, but he understood it and vanished. I kept running alone, calling out to him: "it is a dream I'm living this all in, and I have to make it right before I wake." A few days passed by, not many though -perhaps just one or two; I cannot accurately remember, but that's how long it felt to me. The days passed more miserably than any others, my feelings of guilt and remorse growing more and more intense. When, suddenly, on the last of those miserable days, he got in touch with me. He sent me a message through the cold screen. But I could never care about the way and the means, since he gave me one last hope. His message read: "I want to meet and talk."

this is merely the middle, not the end

flashing lights on green grass
man on nature
man is a product
those flashing lights are a product
we are all products of nature
so what can be considered unnatural?
perhaps something put together in a certain way by man
but then again, man is a product of nature.
and as the plane I'm on ascends to the skies, I can see nothing through the fog,
as natural
and as unnatural
as the grass
the man
and the flashing lights.

Τετάρτη, 20 Φεβρουαρίου 2013

an awkward attempt at lyric writing.

τα πάθη άλλων φορτωθήκαν
αυτά βρήκαν και δεθήκαν
σιγουριά ψάχνοντας να βρούνε
άκου τους, αγκομαχούνε και δεν ξέρουν πού να πάνε
στα μάτια σε κοιτάνε και βοήθεια ζητ'ανε
δωσ' τους ψωμί λίγο να φάνε
δες τα παιδιά τους πώς πονάνε
ενώ οι ξένοι τα χτυπάνε, αλύπητα
και οι ευχές τους μένουν στα αζήτητα
παίρνουνε ουσίες που θα τους γιατρέψουν με ταχύτητα
αδύναμα να κοιτάξουν μπροστά
οι ψυχές τους παραμένουν πάντα στα ίδια κλουβιά
τα όνειρα τούς πήρανε
το μυαλό τους διαφθείρανε
και την καρδιά τους σύρανε
πάνω από δρόμος απο άσφαλτο
περιμένοντας τάχα αγωνιωδώς τον γιο τον άσωτο
με υποσχέσεις τον δελεάζουνε
για να τον προσελκύσουν, και μετά τον σφάζουνε
το κρέας του καταβροχθίζουνε
τα κόκκαλα πετάνε στα παιδιά που βρίζουνε
γκρεμίζοντας τα όνειρα που εκείνα χτίζουνε
μα εμένα όλα αυτά δε με αγγίζουνε
συνηθισμένη στην αδιαφορία, ξέχασα κι εγώ
πώς είναι να νιώθω, πώς είναι να ζω
να νοιάζομαι για τον άλλον χωρίς κάποιο σκοπό
χωρίς κάποιο όφελος προσωπικό να υπηρετώ
και πώς άραγε να 'ναι συνεχώς να πολεμώ
προσπαθώντας έναν κόσμο πιο δίκαιο να βρω
να αράξω εκεί για λίγο, να ηρεμήσει το μυαλό
η καρδιά μου ν' αλαφράνει, κι ύστερα έξω να βγω
να μπορέσω εγώ η ίδια με τα μάτια μου να δω
πως όσο καιρό μου λέγανε ποιο είναι το σωστό
μες στου ψέμματος το κρύο μ' αφήναν να λιμοκτονώ

to be started...
at some point.
I suppose, I don't know. whatever. never mind.

Τρίτη, 1 Ιανουαρίου 2013

play the game.

life is like a game of cards.
playing one card after the other, maybe passing - sometimes folding.
you may win, or lose.
it’s not life you win or lose;
rather, it’s experiences -
days, people, even places.
in order to win or lose, you don’t just have to play the cards in a certain (right) way.
you also have to bet.
bet for your days, people, even places.
each experience is a different game, a game with ever so many and fascinating rounds.
this game, I’ve lost it.
or is it just a round?
I know two things for certain:
one,
I am not going to fold;
and two,
I am getting better at playing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zijN2r3ZKI

Κυριακή, 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

walking.

 He was sitting near the corner when I first saw him. I walked into the room, full of little round tables and chairs, filling up the space under the stage. The room was big, mostly empty; my stare fell on him. His hands were dirty with paint, his face too; his eyes had a distant look, concentrating their gaze into the infinity. He was trying to finish his play. A few tables away, my friend looked at me, and nodded for me to sit at her table. Fascinated as I was, he was all she talked about.
 He took me for a walk. I admired his appearance as we were walking. He was dressed in a white sleeveless t-shirt and a large shirt above with light blue-green and yellow-white squares; a pair of baggy trousers down to his knee; a pair of worn out All Stars. His hair, golden as ever, tied into a tiny bun. We kept on walking hand in hand towards somewhere, I supposed. I asked him if he knew were; his answer negative. We started walking back to the little theatre. His stare was sweet, almost felt warm as he gazed upon me; then again, maybe it was the heart-warming smile that accompanied it. Lost in his own world he was, or at least that is what he seemed like to me, but in any way, that was a feeling and a state of mind that he transferred to me, which I more than gladly took in.
 We walked into the room, our hands parting slowly before our entrance; it was something equal to a secret, not brought about from shame, but rather the mysterious joy of having something solely to ourselves. She looked at me when I reached her, maybe just a shade of jealousy in her eyes, seeing me walking in with him in such a manner (for the position of body easily changes and swifts, but when something is carved in the eyes, then it is impossible to be ignored). Her face, equally dirty with paint, came close near mine and she whispered: "I think he likes me". I smiled at her politely and did not let a sound out of my mouth, not the slightest that would imply how unfathomably wrong she was. there was not much point in that, anyway; it was merely just her feeling of such a superiority being slowly shattered that obliged her to make that remark.
 And so, I said nothing. My mouth remained closed and I silent, but my mind never could be; for it was filled with sweet and warm memories from our walk, and heart-warming feelings as I saw his smile across the room, directed at me.

random thoughts, pt. I.

Empiricism - a criticism on Descartes.

Our senses might sometime deceive us (when something seems like it is one thing, while in reality it is something else), but it is the senses who will confirm that we were wrong, after we realise it (e.g. we realise that the pencil that is is the water is not broken after all, and we confirm it by looking at it or touching it). Also, let us not forget that science itself is based on observations that are made with the aid of our senses (from hearing to touching).