Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Idea Emporium #4: Peculiar Philosophies, Part B

This has been a sort of grab bag of tiny modern and near-future Culture Column entries, hasn’t it?

Geometric Philosophy

A pair of interesting thought systems with some very strong opinions about geometry and what it means. Specifically, right angles.

Anti-Anglists hate them. Right angles do not occur in nature. They’re unnatural. They’re like a spit in Nature’s face, and they’re ugly, disgusting, and abominable. Humanists (not to be confused with traditional Humanism) take the opposite approach. They love right angles, for the reason that right angles are always human-made and the product of reason.

Meanwhile, everybody else looks on and wonders how anybody could get this obsessed. Even the mathematicians tend to get weirded out by it.

Seafarism

“The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:2 (NLT)

According to most of the old religions, in the beginning there was only chaos. From the chaos came organized matter. Chaos was the sea, its lord a leviathan or sea dragon, and what was brought forth was dry land. Variations on the theme occur nearly everywhere, whether the connection to the sea is lost or the battle is forgotten and the People simply send a diver to the bottom of the sea to bring up mud for land.

What they all agree on, however, is that the sea came first. God inhabited this landless expanse, and then God erred: Before the Fall of men was the Fall of God. God’s own creative nature was bound in the same act of binding the chaotic sea and bringing forth the land. God did not create us but become us, and now we are locked into a cycle of reincarnation.

Will the cycle come to an end? Perhaps. The Seafarers are divided on the issue. Some believe that an increased awareness of our quasi-divine nature and former lives is all that we can hope for. Others think that we might be loosed from our mortal coil forever, perhaps (and this is a matter of heated debate as well) by escaping from the lesser sea of the waves to the greater sea of the stars, that these adherents call the Shoreless Sea. The rest disregard space altogether and call it a distraction, although some wonder about the seas of other planets and wonder if there is something to be learned, say, in Europa, or in the potential oceans of other star systems. 

Whatever the greatest accomplishment may be, it is to be done by living upon the surface of the waters. Seafarers live in ships for as long as they are able to, and a rare, lucky few live there for their whole lives from cradle to grave, when they are sewn into a weighted shroud and lowered below the waves (a favored place for Seafarers is over the Mariana Trench, though it is doubtful that anyone’s body has actually reached the trench proper).

The Seafarers look toward the development of floating islands and floating cities with great interest. Several cruise ships have been bought by members in the past and are now crewed entirely by Seafarers. The cruise ships represent an important source of income for the faith, although it is made of entirely voluntary donations on the part of the owners and operators, as is also the case for the various merchant ships that are run, crewed, or owned by Seafarers.

Perhaps the most important tenet of the Seafarers is encapsulated in Aleister Crowley’s teaching, “Do What Thou Wilt.” This is so because you are a fragment of God Divided, and in acting on your innermost desires you translate the will of God into the world.  This does not require that people subject themselves to each other’s wills. Indeed, such an idea is anathema, for no fragment of God should think itself above another fragment, for all are equal fragments of God. If God cannot be released from the constraints of ordered matter then God may at least be unified in society, but the domination of one fragment by another perverts and prevents this.

Accordingly, all beings have the perfect right to withdraw themselves as individuals from association from other beings and as a group to exclude, shun, and remove individuals from their presence. Criminals, who can be defined as anyone that acts against the collective will of the combined body of God, cannot be locked up or executed or even forced to pay fines, but a people that have been offended may remove themselves from association with the criminal, even to the point of excommunication and exile.

Living on ships makes this a lot easier, which the Seafarers hold up as an incidental proof of their lifestyle. Where it is possible, criminals are left behind at the nearest port. Otherwise, they are generally set to sea in a small boat (larger Seafarer ships have one or more boats specially set aside for the purpose). There have been a couple of cases of criminals being marooned on uninhabited islands, but this practice is frowned upon.

Seafarism is thoroughly anarchist, viewing nation-states as they exist now as an indefensible violation of the rights of individuals. While some Seafarer ships have declared independence from all nations and become effectively stateless, many hope that with the establishment of an actual floating city they might be able to create an organization that will be more properly recognized by the nations of the world.

This is desired for more than reasons of pride: while the Seafarer nation would not be governed as modern states are, were it recognized then it would be able to issue identification, passports, and other papers that would make it easier for otherwise-stateless Seafarers to get along in the world without having to subject themselves to any of the states.

Cultured Cannibalism

While they do pride themselves on having all the refinements and attainment of high culture, cultured cannibals get their name from a different kind of culture. You see, if the saying is true, that “you are what you eat,” then you have to eat humans in order to stay human.

Unfortunately, if we allow that people who do not eat people do not remain human, you can’t stay human by eating other folk (everybody give a sigh of relief now). Those people-shaped things, after all, are just mongrel agglomerations of all the random things that they’ve eaten. What you have to do instead is grow your human meat in the vat, from specially-grown tissue cultures.

Supplemental vitamins are added to the meat, taken in pill form, or put in the water (most cultured cannibals frown on drinking anything but water and cloned blood, preferably their own). Some cultured cannibals also undergo surgery to better adapt to their diet and resort to genetic engineering for the sake of their children.

There are two primary divides in cultured cannibalism today. The first is on whether “the pure human state” can be recovered upon being lost. It is the opinion of the transcendentalists that the cannibal position can only be coherent if one supposes the existent of a “super-material” human identity that exists beyond the flesh. Once lost, then, it can never be regained. Naturally enough, they give greater prestige to those who have always lived on the diet, as opposed to “imitators,” and they were the greatest force behind using genetic engineering to adapt future generations to the Diet.

The materialists on the other hand say that they are concerned with the origin of the matter with which their flesh is made and remade, and they say that as the flesh is lost and replaced, true humanhood can be regained. Some simply treat this as a matter of fact. Other materialists have developed a wide range of rituals that they feel should be conducted over the course of one’s seven-year “purification.”

The second divide, which is not so easily put into a few neat boxes, is over the kind of culture that should be had by pure humans. Some, the Transformationists, believe that elements of “semi-human” culture, such as Mozart, can be taken either in whole or adapted. Within them are differences of opinion over which elements are okay and how to treat them.

The Neo-Culturalists, on the other hand, believe that nothing from “the old world” can be safely appropriated by the future pure human culture.  Some of the most extreme among them do not even accept the use of books or CDs, and wish to create entirely new forms of media through which they may transmit their culture.

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