Random Late Night Thoughts

It’s late and I’m listening to the wind.  It rushes through the night like something alive, rattling dry winter branches beyond my window.  It swirls forward and stops.  Swirls forward and stops.   Like some animal in the forest — first hurrying along, now pausing to listen.  Alive or not, I can almost imagine the wind this night is a dark woman who has set herself on an unfamiliar path with a desperate errand.  I listen to the wind twist in and out of my imagination.  And I listen to my late night thoughts…

…Did the moralist who first referred to premarital sex as “the sin next to murder” ever grasp he could not have made a clearer declaration of his moral incompetence?  For if a person honestly believes premarital sex is “the sin next to murder”, then we are no longer permitted to ask whether that person is morally incompetent — that much is now established — but we are only in a position to ask what might cause his moral incompetence?

…Is it possible to be morally insane?

…It’s a cold wind tonight pushing down the temperatures.  In a few hours, it will be dawn, and the coming cold is predicted to range between a high of 13°  F and a low of -6°  F.

…We have so many memories to forget before we can know who we are.

…Most of us spend our lives trying to change ourselves through alternate praise and condemnation.  Indeed, we are trained to do so.  But praise and condemnation are not paths to lasting change and anyone who embarks upon them will backslide again and again.

…So many people — from Socrates to Shakespeare — have told us to be true to ourselves.  Even above all else, be true to ourselves.  But how can we be true to ourselves?  What is required?

I propose being true to oneself occurs when what you feel, what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony with each other.

This is also called “authenticity”.

…”What everyone wants from life is continuous and genuine happiness”, said Spinoza.  Yet, so very often, we think we are pursuing happiness when we are merely pursuing pleasure.

…Pain can make us self-centered, but so can pleasure.

…Listening to Loreena McKennitt sing, the thought came to me that her voice can at times be so precise it is all but surgically precise in the expression of emotion.

…Love is at least as much a way of seeing, as much a way of perceiving, as it is a feeling, and love is far more fundamental than any kind of thinking or believing.

…I often secretly wonder why people spend so much time debating the existence of deity when we have so little time in this life to love and be happy.

…In a democracy, must the authoritarian element always be on the brink of hysteria?

…The notion we somehow are what we introspect is a very interesting, but useless idea.  What we learn by dispassionately observing our behavior, as we might dispassionately observe the behavior of another,  usually provides us with a far more accurate — and even a more profound — notion of who we are than all our introspections.

Why do we care to know ourselves?  That’s the first question anyone should ask before embarking on a quest for self-knowledge.  Self-knowledge — accurate self-knowledge — never originates with the ego.  i.e. It never comes from caring to know ourselves in order to affirm or aggrandize our ego.  If you seek to know yourself, think first of the practical uses of such knowledge.  Then nothing beyond that.

…Is the willingness to risk becoming a buffoon the prerequisite for any creative work?

…The late night wind is a raven aloft in a jealous sky.  That may be true, but one might ask what on earth has it to do with nude women?

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10 thoughts on “Random Late Night Thoughts

  1. “…Is the willingness to risk becoming a buffoon the prerequisite for any creative work?”

    Not a prerequisite but this “willingness to risk” amplifies the potential for creativity that the creating author encounters without fear of perceptions.

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  2. Deep thoughts and great insights, Paul. I had to read this twice. Soothing, somehow. I thought about the risk of becoming a buffoon within the context of your earlier thought: that we can’t really change if we measure ourselves through the praise and condemnation of others. So tempting and easy to do but so betraying to our true selves.

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  3. Pingback: Being True to Yourself Despite Praise and Condemnation « Café Philos: an internet café

  4. Pingback: Being True to Yourself Despite Praise and Condemnation « Café Philos: an internet café

  5. “Is it possible to be morally insane?”

    I’d argue yes. If someone has a severe mental illness (i.e., severe schizophrenia) that prevents them from understanding the moral impact of their actions, they could be classfied this way. I was tempted to add sociopaths and others with empathy deficits to this category, but they’re not really a good fit — it’s not that they don’t understand the impact of their actions, they just don’t care.

    “Pain can make us self-centered, but so can pleasure.”

    True. Trauma can make us so preoccupied with managing our own suffering that we have little energy or attention left for others. That’s why personal wholeness and empathy are intertwined.

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    • “That’s why personal wholeness and empathy are intertwined.”

      That strikes me as so true.

      “I was tempted to add sociopaths and others with empathy deficits to this category, but they’re not really a good fit — it’s not that they don’t understand the impact of their actions, they just don’t care.”

      But do those people have any control over their lack of empathy, or is there some genetic cause or flaw causing it? I’m curious about your ideas on that, Ahab.

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      • Sociopaths still have free will and the rational capabilities to understand the consequences of their actions. While they may not have control over their lack of empathetic feelings, they are still responsible for their behavior.

        I’m not sure myself if sociopathy/antisocial personality disorder is genetic or due to a neurological flaw, to be honest. I know that other disorders that feature empathy deficits (i.e., borderline personality disorder) seem to be correlated with childhood trauma, so there could be environmental factors at work too.

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      • I think a difference between us, here, is that I myself do not entirely accept the notion of free will. I think, in general, we have very limited free will, if we have free will at all.

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