Once I was involved with someone who thought the stars were little rocks floating in the sky. What was her idea of the cosmos, I wonder? I doubt she held any sort of coherent conceptual model. In my most generous mode I attributed her ignorance to a pronounced disinterest in formative education, rather than sheer stupidity (even if a case might be made).
In those days and for many years thereafter I chuckled at this astonishing simpleton, in that way congratulating myself for my superior knowledge — knowledge gained from attentive curiosity at school, from reading encyclopedias and science fiction stories, and from watching science fiction shows such as the Cosmos series hosted by Carl Sagan, Space 1999, Star Trek, and Gilligan’s Island.
These days, however, I have found cause to reassess whether she was closer to the truth of the nature of this world than was I. My case for such reassessment is too involved for the purpose I have set upon in this entry presently engaged, but I might summarize it as way to introduce the tone of my intent.
Boxing Out of the Think
There was a time not long ago when I understood and accepted my existence per a set of common explanations so popular throughout all aspects of my culture, in academia and media, and apparently in many other cultures as well. While I never embraced an acausal, materialistic explanation of random meaninglessness, I was enamored of a picture of my being made of “star stuff” cooked up in a “primordial soup” of countless, aimless molecules after trillions upon trillions of experimental accidents over the course of billions of years. The fact that my own consciousness alone remained inexplicable among the grand scientific theories made such a narrative all the more compelling.
The question of consciousness — my own, specifically, since it remains the only one I can truly confirm for myself — was the beginning and end of my contemplation of established scientific descriptions. My research into the nature of consciousness revealed to me that nothing substantial is known at all. When challenged with the question of whether the brain is not the generator but rather the receptor of consciousness, no strong argument is forthcoming from neurologists or any other “experts” — certainly not an unqualified confident assertion of the absence of divinity. The materialist and reductionist premise posed in the glaring absence of a satisfactory definition, that consciousness is an aftereffect of the biology of a nervous system, is without basis in evidence and therefore as absurd as any competing notion. From there speculations unravel infinitely. All of these ruminations factor into the simple conclusions of my originally stated First Principles.
A strong case has been made for the earth as an orbiting body in a heliocentric solar system floating in a remote, dusty wing of a colossal spiral galaxy, itself but a minor accumulation of sparkly debris amid a dissipating cluster of similar phenomena, spewing endlessly outward from the heat death paroxysm of a universe of unfathomable origin and destiny. The strong case for this cosmos is elegantly glued together with the notion of gravity, a universal, fundamental force so strong it cannot be detected except by massive maths (the same maths that identify gravity as the weakest and most inconsequential of the atomic forces).
Unsettling “the Science”
Science as an institution is as oppressive and obstinate as any. However, the scientific method remains useful in practical matters, such as engineering and fabricating. Reliable though the method may be, Terence McKenna brought to my attention three damning problems. First, the precise speed of light has never been measured at the same increment over the course of multiple experiments. Second, all scientific experiments assume that the rate of time is constant, which has not been verified. Third, and most importantly, the scientific method requires that repeated experiments return to “original conditions,” which cannot be achieved with the passage of time.
I will not promote a theory of flat earth. Rather, I note that over the course of the past several years I have arrived at a point of profound doubt in the widely accepted heliocentric global Earth model (and therefore all other attendant properties of that model). But I had to travel through the flat earth model to reach my current perspectives.
Just as I admitted in my discussion of germ theory, entertainment of such suspicions about the nature of this realm we call Earth inevitably lead to the idea that a massive fraud is presently being perpetrated upon humanity’s masses. Fraud by whom (or what), how, and to what purpose? Such a discussion is out of scope at present.
The Real Simulation
As astronomical and biological theories falter under my scrutiny, so then do I cast my doubts upon all sources of information formerly trusted as authoritative — specifically those scholars of history and therefore their accounts of it.
Jason Breshears of Archaix may have analyzed more chronological data than anyone in the world, and it might take me at least twenty years in seclusion to study and critique his work. Even though his arguments for a simulated reality are convincing at present, I am more interested in what he is uncertain of, than in what he is certain. Does he have evidence that this simulation is one of many, that it is made to resemble the physical properties of the “actual” external world, or that it is not a simulation nested within simulations? Why does he suggest that the simulated life is incidental to the external life? Could not corruption of the simulacrum be the culminating crisis?
If pressed to name what I suspect is really going on here, in this life of mine right now, I am considering that this may be a simulation. I don’t like how the word simulation implies that this experience is not primary, nor have I encountered any convincing argument that it is not. Just as NASA recently admitted there may a strong case for life on Earth being utterly alone in its gargantuan universe (something easily inferred using the very same probabilities posited by Sagan to assert the presence of other life among the stars), so also might this “simulation” be the original, perhaps even a singular event — how could we ever even know?
Within the context of my contemplation, now more than ever before, I recognize this experience as an actual spiritual war between good and evil. Indeed this continuity I call my life may be an abstraction from the actuality of my existence and so it could be called a simulation. Words like simulation and illusion diminish that which they describe as secondary to the real. But the existential urgency of this war is not diminished whether this stage, this battle, is in the original realm or not. The shadow must be overcome, however that is done. This cannot by understood by these words or any others. It is a type of knowing that exists outside of linguistic systems: direct knowledge. Gnosis. I find it in the silent prayer.
All of this I present now as way to illustrate the extreme extent of my mind’s paradigmatic contortions over the past several years, especially within the recent eleven months since my last post. That long pause was a direct consequence of practices initiated in those deliberations, most notably the silent prayer. And this brings me at last to a series of overdue updates.
The Lord’s Palindrome
Regarding my previous post, I described my explorations and examinations of a novel way to approach the Lord’s Prayer that avoids the hypnotic incantation of “vain repetition.” In the interim, I have discovered something very interesting and practical about that formula as described in the Gospels. It appears to me to be a conceptual palindrome, which is to say each stage of the prayer is reflected perfectly from its center, forwards and backwards. Fittingly, the center of the prayer is the essential aspect of forgiveness in its dual form (God’s forgiveness of me and my forgiveness of others), flanked on either side by appeals for that which is necessary in this life — “daily bread” and “delivery from evil.” Then there are matching declarations of God’s eternal sovereignty over Heaven and Earth, both introduced and concluded with the unutterable and unknowable name of God (“hallowed be” and “Amen”).
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Tell Me How Stupid You Really Feel
Concerning my advocacy and promotion of certain personalities by mention in a post prior, I have an amended observation. By the time of that publication my esteem for special boy Owen Benjamin Smith was already souring, but has since dissolved completely. Yes he’s funny and talented and an accomplished spell-breaker. But he’s also a vindictive gossip and a mama’s boy with the daddy issues of a preacher’s daughter. Could I be more thoughtful and fair about this reversal? Perhaps. And perhaps Smith and his substitute dad Vox Day can shove off in their little self-righteous boat to get shipwrecked alone together on a desert island with a single copy of Atlas Shrugged and a ruler with which to measure each other’s IQs all day long for the rest of their lives.
Reaching further back into this body of work I don’t see much more that I ought to amend, qualify, retract or otherwise update. I have considered challenges to my definitions and applications of forgiveness, faith, salvation, the person of Jesus, the trinity, sin, and more, but I find the structure established in my line of reasoning to remain generally sound.
I titled my very first post on this site Self-proclaimed Man-of-God. Maybe I originally imagined that the tongue-in-cheek self-denigration of such a designation would eventually become self-evident, or that at least I would change it to something less ironically cryptic. But since the former is not plain and the latter did not occur, I’ll take a moment to clarify that “man-of-God” is a specific term I grew to despise during my Christian youth. Although I was the type of believer generously credulous in my ascertainment of the congregation and its ways, that particular turn of phrase always struck me as unclear, possibly even deceptive. I have never considered myself or anyone an actual man-of-God, whatever that even means, and I scornfully disregard any genuine use of the term.
Worship Service in the Anti-Twitter
This is the point where I realize how much I’ve already written without even touching many of the topics that drove me to finally write here again. The money I spent to keep this website up very nearly sent my bank account into overdraft this past summer, while all I’ve done with it this whole time is fret over what next to write.
I don’t care to dissect and describe whatever nuanced psychology of why, instead of writing here what is truly on my heart, I would rather mess around on social media, using it as a distraction, as an emotional release valve. It has become something of an idiotic habit. But like any habit, it has its upward limit of diminishing returns.
It wasn’t always like this. My history with social media is deeper than one may imagine, deeper than many of those active online today. I cut my teeth on the earliest BBS sites, back when a dial-up connection and a black monochrome screen was all anyone had. I blogged for four years on MySpace. MySpace was a fantastic convergence of creativity that has not since been matched, and I’m not just talking about custom CSS sparklies. The fact that Facebook, with the appeal of unsweetened oatmeal, overtook and drove MySpace out of favor and ultimately out of business speaks plainly to the bland mediocrity of the masses. Following my time on MySpace, I spent another eight years blogging on Xanga, a similar site — free, feature-rich, with a surprisingly large, active and robust collection of communities of actual, non-robot people.
I don’t claim to have been a content creator of any consequence on either site. My effect was slightly stronger on Xanga, given the amount of time and work I put into building a small readership network there. These were the social media conditions within which I found I could thrive as a creator: a community largely ungoverned by any oppressing ideological moderation; a merit-based opportunity and organic visibility; and at least a few interesting people able to find and appreciate unique long form creative writing, and who were capable of actual discussion. It wasn’t all roses, but it was a lot better than anything available today.
When I decided to make my return to the internet, in addition to starting dbursted.com, I elected to try a few social media sites — “alt media” they are called, as alternatives to censoriously moderated mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook. At first I tried the microblogging site Parler, but that was ill-timed when just a few months later that site was taken down by its AWS host over politics. Since then I have been on Gab, primarily for its solid reputation as a free speech platform that also had the good sense to build its own server infrastructure.
I have already spent more time on Gab than the quality of the experience warrants. I might have more to write about it some other time, but I’d rather just brute summarize. Many times I posted that Gab is like the worst church ever. What I mean by that is that I arrive at the church and the guy greeting folks at the door is wearing a swastika. Literally. He seems nice enough, and he shows me where all his buddies are sitting, down in front. Wow, a lot of akshual nazis. A few black people come in and sit down near front and this bunch of lolnazis immediately stands up as one and they start flinging poo at the blacks. I say, “Hay guyz, that’s totally mean.” So they turn on me and call me a jew and a faggot. I look behind me and I see a bunch of Patriot Boomers and Q-types weeping and quaking in fear. Up in the balcony are three memelords smoking weed and casting vicious aspersions upon all. Then Gab’s tech warlord preacher, Andrew Torba, stands up at the pulpit and says, “Today on Gab we are doing very special work for Jesus. Most of you are heretics, not worth talking to. And Ayn Rand is the reason America has fallen.”
The terms of service are good. The features are fine and the site usually works okay. But as an internet community Gab is the ass-end of social media. Don’t look at me, I’m not going to wipe it.