25 May 2014

Liberal Islam, Violence in Absolutist Belief Systems, Jesus, Experientialism, My Muslim Neighbour's Violence Towards Prostitutes

My next-door neighbour is a self-declared liberal Muslim who prays to Mecca five times a day. He expresses, without daunt (an action I appreciate) his implicit opinion that you ar going to hell because you don't follow the (I believe, great) experientalist philosopher Muhammad as the ultimate experientialist philosopher (a contradiction in terms). An arbitrary belief if ever there was.

Some (calculated) time after my opining that - subject to proof to the contrary - my first DMT experience felt like, and for me was, I believe, a genuine experiential episode of 'becoming one with god' (with lost awareness of the possibility of any entity named 'Manicboy'; ie total ego death), and thinking that I wouldn't make the connection between his own religion, his own geographically-incurred antagonism towards Hinduism and Buddhism (he's a scion of one of the most powerful families in Pakistan's history) and my description, he 'mentioned' the following. A strict tenet of Islam is Muslims don't make the 'mistake' of Christianity that a human can be equated with / be a part of god. (Cf the Holy Trinity; Jesus' reported self-claims of being both the son of god and/or god; subsequent philosophers' interpretations that Jesus implied that all humans are simultaneously god and egos in line with religious teachings he may have been exposed to during any speculated journey to the Sub-Continent he made in his 'lost years'.) That is, the rational position that Muhammad was 'just' a human, but also a higher human prophet than any other.

Much uncomfortable equivocation / miscomprehension ensued when I asked for his opinion about Sufi psychedelic experience, Japanese Buddhist sensory-deprivation psychedelic experience, and Muhammad's own sensory-deprivatory experiential retreats to the mountain, each of which produced a 'revelation' in turn founding a discrete chapter of the Koran each.

At least he smokes cigarettes, has tried pot (with paranoid results), uppers, alcohol and hires prostitutes like last night (but not the latter during Ramadan). And at least when I asked about any neutral or otherwise scholars synthesising Sunni and Shiite Islam (a goat ate some of the banana leaves bearing the second-hand accounts of Muhammad's teachings, hence massive theological, political and social divides resulting in wars, mass deaths, etc), he 'admitted' scholarly work from the Shiite side he opposes is of better quality.

But thinking you are absolutely right, especially without experiential validation, and moreover, especially while hiding your implicitly-held absolute condemnation of others' paths avoiding evil and eternal soul-death behind a linguistically talented, purportedly tolerant, multi-lingual, multi-cultured, multi-disciplined, culturally and socially sophisticated veneer absolutely freaks me out. People can hide anything behind a news-reader persona.

He despises conservative Islam. He's a business student so ignores teachings on Islamic banking. He says that the idea of women covering themselves with hijabs or burqas is wrong because Muhammad was a feminist and the text from which these ideas derive are taken out of context. In his opinion 'averting eyes' means treating women equally.

Yet a week ago a prostitute he hired over screamed out 'I just wanna go home'. Then there was muffled noise and silence. I should have called the police but was muddled by being woken up. Last night's prostitute encounter sounded like another male was involved. The woman squealed / screamed on less than ten thrusts. It didn't sound vaginal.

Obviously socio-cultural issues bear; although I've never actually or constructively been raped, I found South Asian clients the most disrespectful of all when I was a sex worker. But I'm not feeling fond of Islam right now.

Kant and Dementia

From memory and opinion (can't be bothered googling) Kant is the only philosopher in history to make a genuine game-change as both an employed academic and as an elderly person. He laboured on to-be-forgotten mediocre works till his flashs of insight in his 50s-60s.

(Take heart, working academics!)

His is the greatest-ever and probably never-to-be-surpassed (besides my own of course) work on synthesising/reconciling empiricism and rationalism.

One of the marks of his writing in The Critique of Pure Reason is an alternating, almost-shy then 'f*** you' exploration of the bounds of his own intellectual grasp of the dualism. One moment self-conscious, the next 'my career is almost over so f*** it if I doubt myself and reveal it'.

I think the reason was an early form of dementia. You know how suppressing certain parts of your intelligence results in startling flourishes from other parts of your intelligence? Yeh, that.

(Take heart, old people!)

21 May 2014

TMZ Live: Most Socratic, Politically Incendiary and Intelligent Show on TV

Proposition 1:
In our now-Japan-style atomised society the only common currency of narrative is that of celebrity culture. That is, people living in metropolises come from disparate communities and have re-communicised themselves in a way that precludes common knowledge of everyone else's social contacts like in the days of the suburb / small town. So the only people we all have common knowledge about are celebrities.

Proposition 2:
Archetypal intra-personal, social and political dynamics are enacted and perceptible in portrayals of celebrity life.

If you agree with both propositions, read on.

TMZ Live is a celebrity-popculture show beholden to no powerful interests. It is led by Harvey Levin, a lawyer with a combination of admirable analytic skills and disdain for cultural snobbery. In its presentation it begins from focusing on around ten celebrity news items per day. The agreed-on facts are presented news-style, then debate, critique and analysis ensues between Levin, his co-host, and around five or six TMZ employees / celebrity reporters who analyse / speculate about / evaluate issues through different types of intelligence.

So what results is a fascinating presentation of examples of human behaviour and analysis through different philosophical, psychological, legal and economic prisms. No two people would ever draw the same conclusions on all the theories and analyses after each debate.

Dump #qanda, like you should have years ago. Turgid banality. TMZ Live is intellectual democracy reborn, Socrates-style! I'm so happy about it.

I agree with Levin himself less than 50% of the time (he's a baby-boomer), but would defend his methodology in any argument.

Ignore occasional stupidity from Skype viewers, but out of the mouths of babes comes great fodder for thought, sometimes at least. Socrates would love it.

Unfortunately in Australia it's only broadcasted at 1pm weekdays on Channel 99 ('GO!'). 

37th Cockroach

Remember the 37th cockroach you met at your 5th apartment? He was just thinking of you and wants to add you on Facebook.

17 May 2014

Internet Persona: The Age of Openness and End of Pretence

In 2014 everyone not in IT, journalism or government assumes that they have control over their Internet Persona. That is, they can only see other people's 'public' Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages and assume this is all everyone can see about them. People are still oblivious to the fact that every Google search they've ever made, screenshots or thumbnails of every image, document or video that has ever graced their computer screen, etc are being harvested. I've personally found thumbnails of people I don't know who are obviously unaware they're being photographed through their webcams lying in the recesses of my computer. Not my doing!

I think the magnitude of information lying on servers, mirroring issues and 'who gives a ...' issues means that only certain people's information is currently being collated into packageable form. Think who would be packaging (besides government). The first people with means and motive would be Russian IT mobsters, which means they would be targetting people identified as future wielders of wealth and power, thus being blackmail targets.

So your first Internet Persona packages being done right now would be on kids of the rich and powerful, elite law school students, elite private school students, student political activists, etc.

Within 5-10 years' time this will get out of anyone's - government or otherwise - control, and for a small fee you will be able to buy package Internet Personas of your next door neighbour. Within a year of this happening it will be so open that no-one will be able to charge a fee - just search someone and you'll know everything about them.

I for one welcome this new age of openness. Facades will be blown, people won't bother to upgrade their accents or use telephone voices, self-consciously hold their posture, hide their emotions. Everyone will be so humiliated that humiliation and pretence will disappear as human phenomena. Awesome!

Lady Gaga Rorschach Blot

I've been throwing out random comments about Lady Gaga to people for a few years now and have realised that whatever aspect of Gaga they leap to, and whatever attendant emotional responses they have, are basically reflections of whatever issues are arising between themselves and the Universe they interact with.

I had an inkling of this but it was confirmed when I mentioned one of Gaga's appearances on the Graham Norton Show to old friend. I was lying in bed with him and his body immediately tensed and the issues he targetted were issues he happens to have with the world. He only relaxed when I changed the subject to how Jude Law couldn't get a word in and we both agreed how hot Jude Law still was. And this friend is by no means uptight.

It's just that Lady Gaga is a Rorschach blot and if you don't have an emotional response and opinion, however rationalised it may be, you must be a sociopath or extremely adept at lying to yourself.

I've written two blog posts about her. I knew I loved the genre of conspiracy theorism; I'd love to write a book on the philosophy, psychology, politics and history of hoaxes, hidden truths, urban legends, etc. I knew I had an issue with intellectual dishonesty and art wankers. (Thank god she's moved into ArtPop territory.) But I didn't realise how much it upsets me that people enjoy the spectacle of feminine personalities having cat fights.

11 April 2014

Heterosexual Right Hand Masturbation; Homosexual Left hand Masturbation; Wet Dreams

I decided at the age of 15 (1994) to stop masturbating with my right hand and try my left hand. It was hard at first.

At the same time I decided to start masturbating with imagery of my male friends to see if I was bisexual. I had never had a wet dream about a male (still haven’t).

From the age of 16 I decided I was bisexual. I haven’t stopped masturbating left-handedly (I’m right-handed) since.

In the face of much sexual but little romantic (‘you’re in transition’ ; ‘you might be experimenting and revert’) interest I decided to start putting the ‘gay’ label on myself publicly at the age of 25 (2004).

Then when I had the main male love of my life in 2006 (27 years old) I started calling myself ‘gay’ in private with the knowledge that taxonomy thereof was bogus. I wanted to please my boy, who I loved.

He had had a main hetero relationship of 5 years (2001-2005). He once had sex with his partner while feeling another man’s semen in her vagina.

I had had a main hetero relationship of 2-4 years (1997-2001). I had had three gay relationships after that.

The boy’s and my relationship lasted from February 2006 – July 2006 officially (when I broke it up; he had only had gay beat sex and looked like a model – I needed him to realise how good looking he was – like the experience I had in my early years on Oxford Street, and he mistrusted females’ affirmation that he was hot, thinking they were manipulating him). We even lived together in a house March 2006 – August 2006, then in another house August 2006 – February 2007. 

The moment I released him in June 2006 he got a batch of MDMA and we made true love for the first time. He broadened my horizons by hiring me as a an employee at his company for bushland regeneration and introducing me to DMT, LSD and psilocybin. I love him for that.

History remains to be told elsewhere... incredibly complex. But long story short, we ceased contact in April 2011 when I realised he was HIV positive, trying to infect me and lying about the fact that he had it. I’m HIV negative, thankfully.

I still direct my sexual attention to males as of mid 2014 and still masturbate with my left hand 

Change hands? I might start living again.

13 March 2014

There's Something Amiss in the Provision of Information Regarding Legal Liability for HIV Transmission in Australia

I'll say it again: There's Something amiss in the provision of information regarding legal liability for HIV transmission in Australia.

 Insightful: “[Giftgiving] has nothing to do with sex and more to do with the power over someone's health

Misguided people more concerned with anti-homophobia than death, self-harm and costs to society of HIV

Man wins $750K against ex-boyfriend in HIV transmission precedent

Similar to what nearly happened to me.

Facebook facilitating HIV transmission and facing the possibility of future legal action

What’s behind the fact that links regarding legal liability attached to transmission of HIV in Australia are constantly being removed? Why are they impossible to access anymore?


11 March 2014

ARIA Awards 2013: Record Company Politics, Economics, Art and the Future of Music

I love music. I love Australian Music. I think that Australia’s electronic music scene has produced the most creative and influential artists in that field in the world over the past decade. So I become aggrieved when politics and financial interests obscure, misrepresent, embarrass or hinder the brilliance of Australian musicians. The ARIA Awards 2013 was the most pointed example of this phenomenon I’ve ever seen.

As the farce became increasingly apparent during the show, winning musicians themselves increasingly used their acceptance speeches to wink at true music fans about what was going on.

“We’re gonna melt this down to liquid silver to make some shoes!” – Tame Impala (Album of the Year).

Hopefully it opens the floodgates for producers around Oz and people with bad voices in general.” – Flume (Male Artist of the Year).

“We just need to pick up our game.” – Jessica Mauboy (Female Artist of the Year).

“[Thank you to] all the people who eat soft cheese... all the people who do the stuff that isn’t creative...” – Tame Impala (Band of the Year).

Richard Wilkins’ no doubt inadvertently brilliant comment on the Australian Record Industry  Association Awards was to emcee the recognition of Mandawuy Yunupingu (Yothu Yindi) and Chrissy Amphlett’s (Divinyls)  deaths in bed-hair while appearing to be trying to shake off last night’s Stilnox.

The rest of the show could be laughed off, but to spit on the graves of two Australian music and political legends was unforgiveable. Mandawuy Yunupingu was afforded no visual or auditory tribute besides a shot of an album cover (partly because of cultural reasons; some Indigenous Australians find some kinds of visual and auditory representations of dead people offensive and/or traumatising). ARIA’s budget for the tribute to Chrissy Amphlett apparently didn’t extend beyond paying for the licensing involved in showing photographs of her, footage from only one performance – which seemed to be from a previous ARIA Awards night – and playing the audio from one song (“Pleasure and Pain”). The Jezables’ touching performance thereof was in contrast to the ARIAs’ contempt.

Besides this high crime, the mix of deserved and undeserved nominations and winners pales to misdemeanour. Some of the injustices are a matter of taste, but to argue about others is to lose the ear of any credible music lover.

Two stand-out disgraces were the lack of recognition for all the amazing music videos made for/by Australian musicians last year in that category’s nominations (there could be issues about the nationality of directors but this is just illustrative of the fact that major Australian electronic artists are virtually universally signed to international labels due to the imbalance between the budgets/ears of Australian music record companies and Australian electronic artists) and the winner of International Artist of the Year (One Direction [Sony], who beat the following nominees: Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and even Pink). Not that international artists would care about, or even be aware about, their ARIA nominations.

A minor complaint should be made about the misnaming of the electronic music category: “Dance Act of the Year”. Argument with actual nominees and winners in that category are problematic because of Australia’s embarrassment of riches therein, but I could rattle off at least ten other artists who deserved more recognition.

It was nice that Jessica Mauboy won Female Artist of the Year, but she didn’t release anything of substance in 2013 and her manager should be fired, shot, and then fired again for wasting extreme talent on drossly produced recordings. We’re talking about the woman who single-handedly elevated the soundtrack to “The Sapphires” to almost-classic status.

Last but not least, the ARIA Awards’ budgetary issues manifested themselves in the whole debacle being enacted on a tiny stage backed by a flat-screen that could fit in your bedroom, and lighting and sound-engineering being left to people probably battling away bravely on internships. Even Alicia Keyes (and Lorde) managed to sound second-rate. The show was broadcast on Channel Nine’s second channel. There weren’t even bottles of wine on tables to ease the embarrassment for all attending.

So what does this tell us about the politics and economics of the Australian music industry as 2014 begins? What does this tell us about people, artists and corporations who bother to pay their ARIA membership fees anymore?

Draw your own conclusions; anyone that bothered to read about this would have the intelligence or inside knowledge to do it themselves.

As an aside, it was nice of Nick Cave to do someone involved a favour by bothering to pre-record some acceptance speeches and lend the sham some credibility.

But music lovers can rejoice in the fact that the internet, legal and illegal downloading, have saved the vital art of pop music from the avarice, neglect, power-hunger and status-seeking of establishment people who obviously have no interest in beauty for beauty’s sake. The next chapter in the history of Australian music has now begun.

1 October 2012

Benjamin Libet’s Bereitschaftspotentials and Sanskara in Yoga

The most interesting mainstream, empiricist neuroscience relevant to free will and the perception of time I've found is that of Benjamin Libet. His work seems to show that you’re not immediately responsible for the preconscious neuronal firings that develop into full-fledged conscious intentions and actions if not cancelled out by other preconscious firings before they reach the threshold where they feel free-willed. He included some conscious firings, but I think he was scared of his work being misinterpreted and being labelled pseudoscientific and was being conservative.

In some yoga, there is a postulated phenomenon called "sanskara", essentially unconsciously determined patterns of behaviour and thought that you're born with or develop through trauma. They get worse as you age; your behaviour becomes more pathological. However the theory is that you can use conscious will to erase or diminish sanskara over time through techniques like meditation. So you become healthier, more aware, more in control and self-actualised.

I think the two seem similar.

However, I don't think science can get to the root of the free-will / determinism question. I don't think we can prove or disprove epiphenomenal accounts of consciousness. It's interesting how far we can dig though.
Creative Commons License
Manicnotes by Manicboy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.