Archive for November, 2008

Seattle Art Museum

Posted in Life with tags , , on November 25, 2008 by Josh Wittner

I went to the Seattle Art Museum downtown on Sunday. I have been trying to at least try to take art more seriously though I’m often conscious of my own feeling of pretentiousness when I do. Maybe art makes me feel uncomfortable for that reason. That it makes me feel like I should like it because its the cool thing to do.

I stood and stared a long while at a couple of paintings. One by Edward Hopper, I don’t remember who painted the other one. I stared and tried to find deeper meaning where I’m not sure any existed. I nearly cried from the strain of it while I was starting at the one by Hopper.

Am I searching for something that doesn’t exist. All this art craze can really frustrate me. I’m a pragmatist mostly and so its hard for me to take anything like this that seriously. Maybe if I heard it from the author I would believe in some of the depth that is attributed to it. As it stands I do not believe, but I feel the pressure to. Is resisting truly better or are they correct? Is there a message behind the medium? A statement hidden in the strokes? A confession in the colors? Or is it all just bullshit?

On trying to write.

Posted in Life with tags on November 23, 2008 by Josh Wittner

I’m going to try keeping a writing notebook. Where I can totally free myself to write about whatever I want. I went to get my good pen, which has been retired to the pen slot in my car for several years now. After refilling it with ink, a large quantity of which is now on my fingers I wrote this:

This new pen is old to me,
and as I write I am unburdened.

Such is the way for pens.
The ink is fast and then it ends.

It bleeds the pages underneath,
I am unmanned.

Fuck this shit.
Man this pen writes so smooth.
I am in love with it.
Though often it does feel too short
I love this shit.
When does it end

That was a steady stream of consciousness from Josh Wittner. Check it.

Morning Thoughts

Posted in Life with tags , , , on November 23, 2008 by Josh Wittner

So today as I stood in the corner of my living room looking out my 15th floor view of downtown drinking my morning coffee I had a couple of thoughts I’d like to share.

I was thinking that while there are events in this life which we can trivially render as simply good or simply evil using as our window into morality the compasses forged by evolution and our own cultures and lives, most simply cannot be defined in such stark terms. The puddle of morality is more muddy than clear, the rain drops of which the puddle is made having long since forgotten their purity. The doubt that this knowledge provides me is precisely the doubt that religion seeks to remove from peoples lives. Religion seeks to insert itself in the form of a threshold filter between people and their inherent moral compass, replacing doubt, the very doubt that urges us to be accepting of other people, with certainty. I do not feel like this is a good thing, my moral compass unimpeded by a religious bottle neck refuses to point in that direction. Certainty so easily leads to extremism and with it looming my doubt does not allow me to live without fear.

More and more often I find myself thinking that the philosophy of naturalism or new materialism is much harder to live by than ones more open to super natural causes. Then again, it is the only philosophy I know of that neither invents nor accepts logic inseparable from refuse as fact.

The other thing I was thinking concerns states of mind and how that can affect our thought processes so dramatically. I was thinking about how when in the mornings that we don’t wake to an alarm, when we’re first coming to awareness and our restless natures begin to supersede our body’s need for sleep. I was thinking about the feeling of when we first open our eyes and our brains must reconcile the adventures we’ve had in our dreams with what our visual senses are just now telling us. I was thinking that that feels like the most vulnerably confused state of mind I experience regularly. It seems like a good state of mind for chancing upon new philosophies and for accepting the differences we see in other people, because as I am confused about even what my eyes see at this very instant how can I be so certain about things far grander than my now fading dreams.

This last thought brought the two musing together. That if, in that instant, in that state of mind, I can not understand an act, if not as moral then as well intentioned, I’m not sure if I ever can. We should all seek to at least see other people through that haze of confusion where we reconcile the disparity between our dreams and our lives.

That’s what I was thinking about today as I stood in the corner of my living room looking out my 15th floor view of downtown drinking my morning coffee.

Bishop finds education is to blame.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2008 by Josh Wittner

So this article from the UK news site Telegraph talks about the findings of the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue who has published a report on how to “renew Catholicism in Britain.”

What did he find? Education. Education is to blame.

From the reverend himself (my notes in bold):

“What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives. (Why yes, education is excellent)

“However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin (a religious idea with no actual merit) and concupiscence (sexual desire or lust, I have no idea how this fits into education). In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism (requiring evidence for belief, which, you know, doesn’t seem like such a bad thing), positivism(which is really just an idea that ignores non natural causes and suggests that ideas must be falisifiable to have value, and well, doesn’t seem that bad), utilitarianism(which states that the moral worth of an action depends on the outcome of that action and its contribution to the greatest good) and relativism (the stance that experiences can be relative to the person or culture from which they are experienced).”

“Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society (fragmented maybe for those within strict religious communities, but more united than ever in those communities that are secular friendly) that marginalizes God (is he really needed anymore?), with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him. (the reverend is clearly the mistaken one here, many millions of people are quite happy without god, and many millions more without his god. This seems to coincide with his inability to understand the merits of the relativistic philosophy, that people define happiness, and productive living on different metrics than himself. Atheists like myself tending not to include proliferation of ideas without merit.)”

As you can see, he hasn’t really pointed out any bad things about education, except for the relative (to him) harm of reducing the number of Mass attendees.

Of course education is bad for Christianity. People go to higher education institutions and they learn about the world. They learn about how it actually works. About how people actually are. They learn that other people believe different things as fervently as they do. They learn that they’ve been wrong about a lot of things. Of course education is bad for Christianity, which was designed to keep knowledge, i.e. original sin, away from its followers.

Mass education is the greatest enemy of all religions.

Words for the day

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2008 by Josh Wittner

I must reiterate words that I’ve heard today, and I wish that I had the ability to fully express the gratitude I feel.

Thank you, veterans.

What I got from the bible.

Posted in Life with tags , on November 10, 2008 by Josh Wittner

God. If god exists, if the god of the bible exists and he knows everything, can be everywhere, and does everything he can and by virtue of his doing it, or by an understanding that he possesses that we cannot, it becomes just and right and I truly understand that I can never understand everything and I can never know if what I do is actually right or wrong or a more convoluted part of some master plan I can never hope to fathom, if I truly believe in and understand the magnitude of what the god of the bible is, I could never justify making any claim that what someone was doing was right or wrong.  I would have to, at all times, leave judgment up to God. I mean, even if the bible says its wrong, and the bible says a lot of things are wrong, we cannot know what god truly wants and we would be mistaken to show such hubris as to suppose to judge for him. The fucking nerve of people, to point to the word of God, the bible, and pretend as though they can understand it. That they could even fathom the knowledge it would take to truly understand it. As I was thinking this I couldn’t help but think that the reverence I have for the idea of God is what fundamentalists should believe. That is fundamentalism.

God works in mysterious ways I’m told.

I extend this idea of God to knowledge of the universe. I cannot even hope to understand all the knowledge there is to be had of the universe. When I think of an entity that might know all of it, I still call it God. This is the God of Einstein. The knower of all things. Nebulous and non-existent. All things at once and none of them. Nature. When I think of nature, and I try to put the things I believe to be right or wrong into their proper place in nature, I always, always find that I cannot. Value judgments, morals, they have no place in nature, they are made up by man and applied by man.

The bible taught me modesty as it points out that though what we know may be massive in its comparison to what we used to know, we know near to nothing compared to all there is to know. And I believe that without that knowledge, the best we can do is what works now and causes as little as possible the true suffering of those around us and since God doesn’t deign to lend us the knowledge we need, we must decide what that is for ourselves and leave Him out of it.

I understand that value judgments must be made, but I try to remember that we are the ones making those judgments, not the universe. I do not believe in universal truth concerning judgments of value or at least I believe I will never know them, because I understand that I am not capable of having the knowledge to know the real difference between right and wrong. The time-line of our existence is too short, and the universe’s too long.

This is what I got from the bible and I wish that instead of people paying money to keep happiness that doesn’t affect them from others, they would rally for the side of our own modesty and try harder to make the world we live in now a better place in the way that makes sense for our fragile and short lives.

I wish more people were really fundamentalists, instead of self righteous, over-dignified, narcissistic fools playing at being God on earth.

There are good things in the bible, but hardly any of them are in the text.

Sorry for the rant.

Update: I was just thinking that I understand the magnitude of the God these people worship and so I cannot understand how any real believer could stand there and tell me they understand His mind well enough to lay His judgment at another’s feet.  I do not think these people understand the God they claim to worship.

A couple things.

Posted in Comedy, Life with tags , on November 10, 2008 by Josh Wittner

I can’t think of a way to describe the idea of ‘ladies night’ without it sounding totally sexist. I’m pretty sure it is, but I’m pretty sure that no one cares. What I’m not sure of is if thats a bad thing or not.

I don’t like the interview question “What’s your greatest weakness?” I mean what are they asking? Do they mean what part of doing this job I’m interviewing for do I think I’ll be the worst at? Compared to who? Compared to the other parts of the job? Well I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be the fucking best at cooking chicken or whatever job this is. Do they mean in life? Like, what are my vices? Do I drink too much? Womanize? Or do they mean psychologically?

I swear that I will push to get hired anyone who tells me, in an interview, that their greatest weakness is their ‘inability to love’.