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January 23, 2005

Comments

D. C. Burton

I believe this is a sort of foreplay (after play?) for romance in the Culture of Death.

It seems to present itself both as proof of our hardening hearts toward death and as a hardening agent in itself.

It is like bathing in death. There is simply no part of it, no detail that is too excrutiating or vile to be rubbed on our skin and stuffed down our gullets. To embrace the putrification of it brings a greater sense of normality to those sacraments of the post-modern world: Abortion, euthanasia, suicide.

In the end, we are not living beings made in the image and likeness of God, we are merely some piece of cosmic substance that passes through a brief animated state between our Alien-like parasitic-fetus-state and our rotting-and-ready-to-be-washed-down-the-sink or tossed-in-the-dumpster state.

John Paul II says that the nobility and dignity of man demands that we fight against such notions. But, of course, he is the autocratic head of the Catholic Church (read as: the dictator of an international hate organization). He is also stupid. Employing language about nobility and dignity in connection with man totally misses the key understanding of the post-modern world: Man is shit.

Mr. Peperium

Thank you, Mr. Burton. Precisely. The same people who went into paroxisms of telegenic political despair when we suffered our thousandth casualty in Iraq are the same people who serve this stuff up to us every evening. The fact that every U. S. death in Iraq is laid on what Lincoln once called the "altar of Freedom" seems to escape them entirely. Senseless death is the only kind of death they seem to comprehend. And it must be linked, at least in part, to their flawed and pernicious understanding of the universe and Man's place it it which you so skillfully anatomized in your post.

Misspent

I don't know if I would go as philsophically far as Mr. Burton and say that corpse-happy television is some correlary to the culture of death.

That said, the softening of death and departure from the crudeness of life is a rather recent phenomenon and for our ancestors, death was something very much in their lives. Whether it was plague victims being laying in the gutter, public executions and the display of body parts on town gates, or rotting bones strewn across the western trails.

Yet, I'm not one that thinks that familiarity with fake rotting flesh is a thing to cultivate. In my mind one of the civilizing effects of society is to soften the brutality of physical reality, of which death is a part. That we are slipping back into the time when fart jokes and openness to the brutality and de-humanization of death, is part and parcel of the general civilizational malaise.

There is a more fundamental driver behind this decline (and the culture of death flows from it) and that is the yearning for reality, for stripping all life and existance of any redeeming quality. It is this thirst for being real, for showing life as it is in its most Hobbesian sense that is behind Mr. Burton's point that we are nothing but carbon, calcium, and water.

Misspent

Gosh, I sure cleared out your website...

Mrs. Peperium

No you didn't. Mr. P had to work late and hasn't even read your comments. Hopefully today he will.

Misspent

Mr. P is working late and couldn't read the website.

No one comments all day long.

Jeez, Mr. P has more voices that we thought!

(tee hee)

Mrs. Peperium

Huh? Oh, I get it. Hahahahaha...I just heard via radio that the Passion of The Christ recieved an Oscar Nomiation for Best Make-Up (and a few others). Does this add anything to the conversation? We haven't seen the movie. Our friends in NY gave us a DVD for Christmas but in hoopla of visiting the City and The Museum Of Natural History with 15,000 other people that day, we very rudely left it behind on their coffeetable. They haven't mailed it to us yet...

Mr. Peperium

I'm at work right now, but I'll try to respond without cutting too much into my employer's time.

I don't know Hobbes as I should (the philosopher, not our cat) but I take Misspent's point about the Quest for Reality being a quest to strip our lives of "any redeeming quality". "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try" crooned John Lennon, and millions applauded under the misguided idea that they were being liberated when they were really being enslaved.

Right now I'm reading Victor Davis Hanson's "Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live and How We Think". I added the subtitle because it explains briefly why I'm mentioning the book. The first chapter is devoted to the Battle of Okinawa, the fight that saw the birth of the kamikaze. The Japanses high command saw our Western, Christian abhorrence of suicide as a weakness and sought to exploit it. Instead, the American response was to assume that the Japanese cared nothing for life. With Japan thus dehumanized--by, I need to point out, the insane tactics of its own military--the American high command found it infinitely easier to drop the bombs.

That's what makes it so hard to stand up to people who want to strip life of all higher meaning; it's so easy for them to point to instances like the one I just related and say, "See?" Act like life is meaningless and it can look pretty meaningless. And that's my point about the ghouls in Hollywood. That's the danger in what they're doing.

Real reality, of course, is far different. I was at Mass at noon. I saw again the bread and wine turned to the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. "I am real drink" He said and he meant it quite literally. I go to Mass even when I'm feeling like nothing more than a mess of "carbon, water and calcium". Actually, I go especially when I'm feeling so; I need to be reminded what reality really is.

The Hobbsean quest for "reality" is our modern insistance that life means Nothing Special because that way we think life will be easier. And it certainly makes us look braver, more "edgy" in our own eyes. But saying so doesn't make it so; only God's voice has that kind of power.

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