Thursday, February 9, 2006

Original Plagiarism

It's too bad that i have nothing to say that i haven't copied from a book these days. People may say be original but to them i say:

o.rig'i.nal a. 1. first 2. new; novel 3. inventive 4. one who quotes things that no one else is quoting

We're all plagiarists. I've explained this before.

So here is something that someone else has already said better than me from a book i am reading called The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris. I wanted to quote around ten pages (and i've only read thirty), so you'll just have to go out and read it yourself. Here's a tease (a loooong tease):

"Imagine that you have gone to your doctor for a routine checkup, and he gives you a terrible news: you have contracted a virus that kills 100 percent of those it infects. The cirus mutates so often that its course is totally unpredictable. It can lie dormant for many years, even decades, or it can kill you outright in an hour. It can lead to heart attack, stroke, myriad forms of cancer, dementia, even suicide; in fact, there seems to be no constraints upon which its terminal stages might be. As for strategies of avoidance – diet and health regimes, sequestration to one’s bed – nothing avails. You can be certain that even if you live with no other purpose than to keep the progress of this virus in check, you will die, for there is no cure for it in sight, and the corruption of your body has already begun.
Surely, most people would consider this report to be terrible news indeed – but would it be news, in fact? Isn’t the inevitability of death just such a prognosis? Doesn’t life itself have all the properties of our hypothetical virus?
You could die at any moment. You might not even live to see the end of this paragraph. Not only that, you will definitely die at some moment in the future. If being prepared for death entails knowing when and where it will happen, the odds are you will not be prepared. Not only are you bound to die and leave this world; you are bound to leave it in such a precipitate fashion that the present significance of anything – your relationships, yours plans for the future, your hobbies, your possessions – will appear to have been totally illusory. While all such things, when projected across an indefinite future, seems to be acquisitions of a kind, death proves that they are nothing of the sort. When the stopper on this life is pulled by an unseen hand, there will have been, in the final reckoning, no acquisition of anything at all.
And as if this were not insult enough, most of us suffer the quiet discomposure, if not frank unhappiness, or our neuroses in the meantime. We love our family and friends, are terrified of losing them, and yet are not in the least free merely to love them while our short lives coincide. We have, after all, our selves to worry about. As Freud and his descendants never tired of pointing out, each of us is dragged and sundered by diametrical urges: to merge with the world and disappear, or to retreat within the citadel of our apparent separateness. Either impulse, taken to its extreme, seems to condemn us to unhappiness. We are terrified of our creaturely insignificance, and much of what we do with our lives is a rather transparent attempt to keep this fear at bay. While we try not to think about it, nearly the only thing we can be certain of in this life is that we will one day die and leave everything behind; and yet, paradoxically, it seems almost impossible to believe that this is so. Our felt sense of what is real seems not to include our own death. We doubt the one thing that is not open to any doubt at all.
What one believes happens after death dictates much of what one believes about life, and this is why faith-based religion, in presuming to fill in the blanks in our knowledge of the hereafter, does such a heavy lifting for those who fall under its power. A single proposition – you will not die – once believed, determines a response to life that would be otherwise unthinkable.
....
We live in a country in which a person cannot get elected president if he openly doubts the existence of heaven and hell. This is truly remarkable, given that there is no other body of “knowledge” that we require our political leaders to master. Even a hairstylist must pass a licensing exam before plying his trade in the United States, and yet those given the power to make war and national policy – those whose decisions will inevitably affect human life for generations – are not expected to know anything in particular before setting to work. They do not have to be political scientists, economists, or even lawyers; they need not have studied international relations, military history, resource management, civil engineering, or any other field of knowledge that might be brought to bear in the governance of a modern superpower; they need only be expert fund-raisers, comport themselves well on television, and be indulgent of certain myths. In our next presidential election, an actor who reads his Bible would almost certainly defeat a rocket scientist who does not. Could there be any clearer indication that we are allowing unreason and otherwordliness to govern our affairs.
Without death, the influence of faith-based religion would be unthinkable. Clearly, the fact of death is intolerable to us, and faith is little more than the shadow cast by our hope for a better life beyond the grave."

Read something. Think about it.

Step outside yourself.

... we're all egocentric. The negative connotation is a matter of degree, my friend.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rally said...

The reality of it all is that we are all already dead, living in perpetual limbo, until we get it right, and are greeted at the gates of our own personal heaven.

I can't wait to frolic in the chocolate of my heaven, playing soccer, and cavorting with my heavenly woman.....Ahhhh good times.

Friday, February 10, 2006 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you give me the readers digest version...it's quite long.

-Z

Friday, February 10, 2006 11:31:00 AM  

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