Some holiday recommendations
Thank you. Enjoy your break
Enjoy your holidays! Writing you this as I enjoy mine here on the beautiful Valentia island. : )
Thank You, Sir! Looking forward to reading from Your links.
Peace be with You. :-)
Thanks have a wonderful break 🌻
Marvellous recommendations! Thank you Paul, you're a treasure.
Paul- I hope you and the family are having a beautiful vacation. Thank you for the recommendations. I look forward to your next set of essays. -Jack
1. US (and to a lesser extent, UK) concepts of "left" vs "right", "liberal" vs "conservative" really make sense only within the context of contemporary US/UK politics.
Hence the interminable internet debates about "was Hitler really a socialist"? Answer: yes, if you cherry pick your facts, just as one could make an equally valid argument that he was an uber-conservative, if you cherry pick your facts.
2. IIRC, humans tried a similar transhumanist experiment with the "godbuilders" in the early USSR. It did not end well. If humans would just try to be more like cats, or would just learn their place, none of this would be necessary.
Thank you for the recommendation. Perhaps, we can pull the Machine down, but if not, there need to be spaces set aside in the hearts of men for wilderness, the Divine, and all that is sacred. Marx wrote of modernity: “All that is solid melts into air, all that is sacred is profaned.” My life's work is to invert that, and to re-sanctify all that has been profaned.
I picked up a three volume "spiritual history" of the west at the church bookstore the other day. By an Orthodox priest/blogger names John Strickland; it's a history of Christendom from Pentecost onward and how it more or less desecrated itself into the ideology of man-made "utopias." He identifies the schism of 1054 as when things began to go badly for the West. Quite an interesting read; may be something that would interest you as his diagnosis is not dissimilar to yours.
Thanks Paul, these all look very interesting. Have a good holiday
Thanks Paul for taking the time out to post these recommendations. Definitely going to check them out. Enjoy the break.
Thanks for the Guardian reference. That was a fascinating read. I thought it was interesting that Bohan (the transhumanist) used to study literature but gave it up after she discovered transhumanism. She also said something that struck me: that fiction, as an exploration of the human experience, was a tragic repetition of “We work, we learn, we love, we lose, we die,”, and that transhumanism offered something “better”.
I don’t think she quite sees how much of a poet and storyteller she herself has become; only she is projecting her imagination not with words and verse, but with tech discoveries and optimistic futurism. She even calls her book a “love letter to humanity”.
That doesn’t negate her argument, but I’m often struck by how much new tech developments are invariably accompanied by spokespeople (often physically attractive, verbally articulate, and upbeat) who don’t actually know much about the stuff they’re talking about, but sure do a good job at getting everybody to pay attention and to believe.
Today I've been alternating between reading the Guardian article with Bohan and listening to the Corruption of Christianity interview with Ivan Illich. Good combo!
I just read the Erik Hoel essay. Something about it leaves me uneasy. Yes, maybe I agree with his broader take, i.e., humans must remain human. There are a few things at loose ends with his position.
1. His idea of a fully human human is somewhat different than my own. Shakespeare or not, he seems to put far more emphasis on the myth of progress and technology...he just doesn't want *certain* technology. Fine, how does he propose we stop the wrong kind? Isn’t his right kind of progress also a problem? He seems to think more like an engineer and mathematician than like Shakespeare. Which is ironic. He's pushing the Enlightenment view, is he not?
2. I don't think enough human beings *right now* care much about Shakespeare. Even among those who probably should. I wish I cared more. There are a handful of plays I truly love, a few I like well enough, some of the sonnets, etc. I have had decades to read Shakespeare (and until my recent book purge owned the complete works) but my actual interests lay elsewhere. In the end, Shakespeare doesn't interest me as much as I wish he did. But maybe I am being too literal. Yet wouldn't a Laozi test be better? Or a Buddha test ? A Jesus test for truly human humans? Mohammed? Dante? But now we are back to square one deciding what is fundamental to being human. That question matters, and we won't ever agree. The mess continues as always. Is the mess back to Shakespeare? Are there other kinds of human messiness than the Shakespearean kind?
So while I also reject the Nietzche option and the Turing option etc. I don't take Shakespeare as central either. Though, after all that, I am open to the option that it is, in fact, our messy Shakespearean nature which is leading us down our current path of disaster. The tragedies are full of those who transgress what are taken to be natural and just limits. They are punished for it. But do we ever learn? This is the problem presented in A Canticle for Leibowitz. So then maybe it is our very Shakespearean nature that is the problem. What option allow us to transcend the Shakespearean?
I think that is what the young woman transhumanist thinks she is doing. She's trying to solve the Shakespearean in us.
In a sense, Christianity is a form of transhumanism (aka theosis). How likely are we to take that radical path? It might solve the problem if we could. But we haven’t. Again, this brings up A Canticle for Leibowitz. The Shakespearean wins and the world ends. The Christians unwittingly make the whole tragedy possible. A Canticle for Leibowitz is very Shakespearean in its view of the Shakespearean. Is there a way out?
I admit that this is, ironically, a complete mess of a comment. I hesitate to post it because it is probably not thought out enough. Maybe I will delete it later. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...
Paul, thank you for recommendations! Reading one of them reminded me that I have been wondering for a while what was the church in Bucharest that impressed you...