Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Richard Dawkins: Mind Cop

Richard Dawkins: Mind Cop

Animated Series Watch in awe as Professor Richard Dawkins systematically destroys the comforting delusions of happy, normal people, replacing their vague, inoffensive belief systems with a description of human consciousness as an indeterminate quantum reality occupying four-to-five dimensional phase-space. With only a set of completely baffling non-recursive algorithms with which to make sense of their lives, these people of laughably average intelligence fail to grasp the meaning of it all and wander down to the garden shed, drink bleach and blow their fucking brains out. Meanwhile, watch in awe as Professor Dawkins sensibly abstains from love, sex, listening to music and all other non-rational activities. Episode One. Professor Dawkins discovers that he has a stick up his arse.

I’m all for Dawkins outing bullshit snake oil peddlers and ‘spirit-mediums’ who manipulate the grieving and vulnerable; these, quite frankly dangerous charlatans have it coming. But extending the circle of unreason to any system of thought that cannot be proven empirically or logically threatens to wipe away most of the things that make life worthwhile.

If people were truly rational, they wouldn’t fall in love. Painting, architecture, music, sex, gardening; none of these are rational. Magical thinking extends well beyond the major world religions and into all aspects of human endeavor. Private systems of ritual and symbolism have shaped countless great works of art. Hawksmoor’s churches, William Blake’s poetry and Alan Moore’s comic books would never have seen the light of day without the influence of madness, ritual, obsession, passion and the occult. Reason and creativity are, quite simply, uneasy bedfellows.

Religious and magical thinking only becomes a problem when it dictates social policy. Just as the moral dogmas of Imams and Priests should not dictate the law, the cost of spurious remedies should not be fronted by the tax payer. In a society with tax-funded healthcare, separating church and state means separating science and superstition. Medicine is about solving the problem of illness. There is no point in medicines that don’t work.

But in their privately funded private lives people should be left to believe and buy whatever comforts them, however ludicrous or offensive we might find it. Tolerance means putting up with things you disagree with so long as they don’t directly affect you, on the understanding that you may well do things that others disagree with. If I remember correctly, that is what liberalism is all about.

Hitchens: Sweating, trembling freak show

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are wrong about religion. It does not poison everything. Rather, it is often used to justify poisonous acts. But the major genocides of the last century have been committed in the name of class war, nationalism and racial purity, not religion. People do very bad things for all sorts of horrible reasons, and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Without religion to justify their acts of carnage, they just find something else.

And talking of Godless genocide…

Don't Think I've Forgotten (Cambodia's Lost Rock And Roll)

This film is still in production, check out the trailer. It puts the 80's British music press's class-obsessions into perspective, to say the least...


Alex said...

He is a penis. I was just talking to someone about this. Now I don't have to.

Nick Talbot said...

Yeah, I wasted a good few hours of my life writing what can be reduced down to exactly that: he is a penis. You're quite right. Maybe you should edit my blog for me.

Alex said...

I don't think that would be wise, after "he is a penis" I tend to run dry of anything short of cutting and pasting the aforementioned.

The friend I was talking to this about is Canadian, and a complete anglophile. She worships Richard Dawkins despite following Buddhist ideals and thinking the strictly scientific, empirical perspective is horseshit. From my own experience of being me, I've realised that a certain British accent - "the classic", if you will - will make people anywhere sit up and listen to what you have to say. Dawkins has such an accent. Whatever he says carries with it a seal of approval that says it all makes perfect sense, and should be listened to and respected. It's better than NLP.

I also like your post about the alcohols, but unfortunately I can't read it again as I'm trying to stay in my happy place right now.

merlin wood said...

Dawkins is sort of all right really I suppose.

But then I've discovered that and how a cause acts universally upon matter and energy from a fourth and fifth dimension of real space.

And now I'm happy I've made this discovery but not with anyone who doesn't believe it.

Alexander said...

Also that picture of Hitchens looks worrying like Tony.

sean said...

Dawkins is indeed a bellend. Good call on magic (magick?) and art - just finished that Alan Moore interview. It took me two hours as it's so full of ideas.

I'd love to hear an interview between Moore and Dawkins. Just imagine Dawkins scratching his head, going 'yes, but...' after every sentence and then hopefully running out of the room in tears.

Alex - completely agree about the English accent thing.

Nick Talbot said...

The spelling of magic/magick is up to the individual really; 'magick' is used to differentiate it from conjuring.

Many people misunderstand magick; from what I've been reading recently, it is about engaging in ritual for the purpose of changing one's consciousness and strengthening the will, rather than, say, making things float in the air. According to 'chaos magick' movement this ritual can be whatever you please; ontological commitment is unnecessary, you just do what works for you, and be disciplined about it. A few people I know stick to ancient Kabbalistic doctrine and ritual because they like the discipline of working in a great and ancient tradition. Moore worships a Roman snake deity. Julian Cope digs man-made silos; he's all about the urban paganism. Nobody ever said this stuff couldn't be tongue in cheek. In fact, humour and playfulness seems to be an integral part of it for many people. Allowing the irrational into your life feels liberating. We do that when we fall in love, write a song or get high. For many, the understanding that humans benefit enormously from ritual can mean simply going and doing a bit of gardening.

I'm reading 'Condensed Chaos' by Phil Hine; it's fascinating. Dawkins has an amazingly narrow view of reason. It's incredible, this stuff is textbook; it was sorted out in Star Trek with the dialogue between Kirk and Spock. Spock couldn't understand why we did things that as far as he was concerned were irrational. As a result, he was clearly inhuman. Love? Sex? Art? Get thee to Vulcan, Dawkins!

Yes, Hitchens does look a bit like Tony there. But Tony doesn't look like Hitchens. That makes sense, even though it is irrational.