Archive for Chaos

The Assassin’s Creed, Part 1

Posted in All, Economics, Miscellaneous, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by marushiadark

“Only a mind free of impediments is capable of grasping the chaotic beauty of the world.  This is our greatest asset … It presents us with challenges, yes, but freedom yields greater rewards than the alternative.” ~ Altair, Assassin’s Creed.

In my post on chakras, I mentioned that I often lose faith in humanity; but that, once in a while, someone will come along and restore it and remind me that I’m on the right track.  The brilliant minds over at Ubisoft responsible for the Assassin’s Creed series are another such group of people.

For those who don’t know what it is, you can check out the Assassin’s Creed wiki, or play the games yourself.

Suffice to say, it involves global conspiracies throughout history that are well-researched and quite plausible, in my opinion.  It’s a work of fiction, of course; but much like the works of Dan Brown, I doubt such stories could be made believably if there weren’t a great deal of truth to the subject matter.

The main idea behind Assassin’s Creed is that there are two overarching factions at work: the Templars, who seek to control everyone and everything in an Orwellian oligarchy, and the Assassins, who seek to restore freedom and sovereignty to the individual.  Over the years, these two sides go by different names, have different faces, and use different methods, but the core ideas of order versus chaos, control versus freedom still prevail.

The Assassin’s Guild has its own rules and hierarchy, but these are much more general and loosely defined in what is known as The Assassin’s Creed.

“Justice is balance.  You burnt my house and left me for dead.  Consider us even.” ~ Raz Al-Ghul.

Like many factions, both real and fictitious, the Assassins see themselves as the agents of natural law and divine justice.  They believe in balance above all things and the authority of the individual to act as judge, jury, and executioner in maintaining that balance.

Justice is balance, and the purpose of any system of justice should be to restore a situation to its proper state.  If a person’s property is damaged, justice demands that the offending party fix the property or pay fair compensation for the damage.  If something is taken, it must be returned.

In our modern society, prison does not always serve as appropriate punishment.  All prison really does is remove the person from society, but this does not always remove their criminal influence on society, nor does it guarantee their reform.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Goodfellas, you know that people of wealth and power can easily circumvent the rules to avoid truly paying off their debts by turning punishment into a luxury.  Thus, the power of the offender often determines the method by which justice is best applied.

One cannot undo rape or murder or reverse psychological trauma easily.  Thus, justice would demand that the individual be made to understand the severity of the damage caused in kind, so as to deter them from further damage in the future.  A rapist is sodomized, a murderer killed, and one who destroys a person’s life has their own destroyed.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life, … that is true justice.

The word “justice” itself derives from Latin justistia, meaning “equitable.”  It is an economic term that refers to the application of natural law in determining the monetary value of something.  The term “equitable” relates to “equatable,” meaning that two things can be considered the same.  This is the basis of our entire monetary system.

There’s a reason Lady Justice is blindfolded and carries a sword and balance scales.

The blindfold suggests the impartiality and unbias of true justice in the ideal.  The sword represents execution on the law in a strict sense, which may literally include the execution of an individual in taking their life.  The balance scales are used in commerce and are the best visual metaphor of equity.  If you place a weight on one side, the scales very obviously tip to that side.  If you then place a weight on the other side, the scales will tip back the other way.  If the scales are not even, then the two sides are not equitable.

Mercy is altogether a different thing from justice.  In fact, mercy is the special allowance of an imbalance to exist.  For instance, it is normally wrong to take a life because this causes great pain, but it is generally considered more wrong to allow a person to suffer for a long period of time.  Thus, the idea of a mercy killing creates an exception to the rule because it serves a greater good.

The term “mercy” derives from Old French mercit, meaning “reward, gift, or kindness.”  Mercy is linked to the concept of forgiveness: “For I give.”

If you give a gift, you are relinquishing your right to something in exchange for nothing.  You are putting something on the scales and the other person isn’t.  You are creating an exception in ordinary rules of justice.

In the Mosaic Law, there was execution on the law and an emphasis on justice and equity, taking back what is rightfully yours.  When Christ came along, he placed great emphasis on justice, but a greater emphasis on forgiveness.  This is because forgiveness represents a superior position.  If you have an abundance of money or power or love, you can give of yourself without suffering any significant loss.  Taking is easy, giving is hard.  If you are constantly giving, the other party will have no need to take from you, nor can they, as you cannot take something that is given freely.

“Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent.” ~ First tenant of the Assassin’s Creed

In carrying out their charge, the Assassins employ a variety of techniques and practices, including the killing of those that cause harm to others.

As you can imagine, having such power to take life can be easily abused.  Towards that end, the first tenant of the Assassin’s Creed was developed, which cautions against the spilling of innocent blood.  More generally, this cautions against collateral damage of any kind, instructing members of the order to act only when it serves the greater good.

This is one of the few rules that differentiates the Assassins from the Templars.  Where the Templars are willing to do anything and everything to achieve power, without regards for those they hurt, the Assassins exercise restraint and mercy alongside their administration of divine justice.

The term “fungible goods” is used to refer to anything that is equivalent to another thing of the same kind.  For instance, all one-dollar bills are worth the same amount.  It is generally assumed that all things of a kind (an eye, a tooth, a life) are fungible goods.  In the administration of justice, it is sometimes necessary to distinguish something as not being fungible. For instance, you cannot refuse a dollar bill as payment unless you can prove that it is counterfeit and therefore worthless.

In law, human bodies are considered physical property of the soul and fungible as a general rule.  Of course, in practice, not all human beings are equal.  Some people have more to offer than others.  Some are better at a craft or are better teachers, etc.

In the case of capital punishment, the value of a murderer’s life is considered diminished because the vessel has a history of causing damage to other vessels.  If the body or mind cannot be restored to a state of health, the vessel must be destroyed to prevent further damage.  This is not unlike a car with faulty parts that tends to lean to the left and drive into on-coming traffic.  If the issue can’t be corrected, and no other value can be gained from the vehicle, the car must be removed from the road and destroyed.

This is what the Assassins do in carrying out divine justice – rounding up and destroying the vessels that damage other vessels, leaving all others to their own devices.  Just as you would not needlessly destroy a perfectly working automobile, so too does the first tenant of the Assassin’s Creed guard against the needless and unjustified destruction of innocent human beings.

Just as crushed cars are recycled, so too will the human body and mind be recycled by the universe.

However, unlike a car, human beings are self-correcting machines.  Given enough time, even the most vile of persons can come around.  Unfortunately, this could be several hundred years, which is enough to span several lifetimes.

Thus, it is a very delicate matter being an Assassin.  It requires great wisdom and experience to determine whether a person is too far-gone to be healed, if they are worth saving or too dangerous to be kept alive.  Because human beings are not yet at the point where we can restore life as easily as we can take it away, I think capital punishment should be reserved as a last resort and for those that are truly incurable.

Eye of the Beholder

Posted in All, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by marushiadark

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” ~ John Keats, poet.

I was sitting on my back porch today and I happened to look up at the clouds in a particular moment and noticed that they were exceptionally beautiful.  In my mind, I found myself saying how only God could make such a thing as that.

Now, I’m not what you would call a religious person, but just sitting there staring at the clouds was both deeply touching and deeply rewarding for me.  For a brief moment, I felt at one with everything around me.

I think the idea that only God could make something so beautiful is quite true.  After all, what mortal man, with all of his technology or artistic skill could make something as beautiful as a bona-fide sunset?  Certainly no one thus far.

There have been times where I’ve looked out upon nature and it all seemed almost artificial to me.  For instance, sometimes I’ll notice a slight curvature to the sky, as though I was under a giant dome.  Other times, when I’m high above the ground (especially in an airplane), I’ll look out and the world will appear more like a diorama than actual life.  Sometimes I’ll walk through the park and remember that the landscape there was arranged by man – ordered, tamed, unnatural, almost clinical, even.

And yet there are always those times where I look upon nature and feel the presence of God and life in everything around me that fills me with peace and joy and love.

“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” ~ David Hume, philosopher

Many people of lesser mind use the argument of beauty as proof of God’s existence without truly understanding what they’re talking about.  Almost immediately after I made my remark about the clouds today, my mind took a dualistic position.  I reasoned that God didn’t have any effect on the clouds.  That it was just water in the atmosphere collecting to form a random pattern.  If there was any beauty involved, it was all in my own mind and not something objective outside myself.

I contemplated this argument for a minute and then realized that it was also true.  There wasn’t anything outside myself that made it particularly beautiful.  Beauty was an internal conception, something only a human mind could conceive of.  But that just goes to further prove that God had a hand in making what I saw.  For if God is in all of us, which he is, and if God is the observer looking out through our minds and bodies, and if our perceptions create a sense of beauty in the mind in reaction to some external stimulus; then through a transitive line of reasoning, it stands that God created the beautiful scene that I observed.

In my lecture on symbols, I talked about how symbols only have those meanings we apply to them.  Without that, they’re just a collection of random lines and shapes.  But it’s the creative and associate processes that take place in our minds that make these symbol something else.

What is a cloud but a randomization of water molecules in the air?  If we see shapes in the clouds, we are taking that raw material and creating something out of it.  It’s no different than an artisan taking a lump of clay and molding it into a shape conceived of in his mind, except that we’re not touching the vapor with our hands.  We’re crafting it solely (soul-ly) within ourselves.

“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Beauty is something that has been analyzed for millenia.  The dictionary defines beauty as “the quality of a person or thing that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction, whether arising from the senses, meaning, pattern, spirit, or other.”

In layman’s terms, beauty is everything that you expect a thing to be.  If you see a beautiful sunset, it has every quality that you, personally, think a sunset ought to have.  It fully meets your expectations of a textbook sunset.  Likewise, a beautiful man or woman has all the qualities you are looking for.  If their personality matches your unique expectations, then that person has inner beauty as well.

Because each person has their own mind with their own thoughts, tastes, and preferences, their perception of what is beautiful and what isn’t will be inherently different from that of everyone else; unless said individual has been influenced by social trends and molded to think a certain way.  Remember, societies have minds too on a different level of consciousness.

Even putrid, disgusting, and malevolent things can be beautiful in their own right.  Ugly dolls , for instance.  Or pugs.  Many people adore pugs specifically for their ugliness.  Similarly, a crime that is said to be a “work of art,” such as a murder, has everything you’d expect from the perfect crime.

In traveling down I-95, going through Elizabeth, New Jersey, there is a certain chemical plant along the side of the road that spews steam and, quite possibly, pollutants into the air.  Yet at night, it is a sight to behold with all its lights.  It almost reminds me of that scene from The Matrix Revolutions where Neo is blind and yet everything he sees is made of light.  Even though he’s in the most hellish place on earth, he can’t help but be in amazed at the beauty all around him when viewed from a higher perspective.  Whenever I pass by that plant, I can’t help but gaze in awe myself and wonder how something so bad for the environment could, at the same time, be so beautiful.  Only something from within, the divine spark, could create that.

The ability to see beauty or ugliness around us depends upon what level of consciousness our mind is in at the time we observe a given event.  If we are on the dualistic level of lower consciousness, separated from God, we will see nothing but horror and strife.  Conversely, if we are resonating with love and oneness on a higher level of consciousness, then we will see beauty in all things.

The phenomena around us are simply random, neutral events.  What changes is our perception of them and the order and beauty and meaning we bring to them.  We’re the ones applying bias one way or the other, depending on the lenses we choose to see the world through.  We are the creators, creating our own universes.

D is for Darkness

Posted in All, Media, Psychology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by marushiadark

“I like rabbits and all.  They’re cute and they’re horny.  And if you’re cute and you’re horny, then you’re probably happy, in that you don’t know who you are and why you’re even alive.” ~ Donnie Darko

I was watching the movie Donnie Darko earlier today.  It’s an incredibly fucked-up psychological fantasy and I think that may be what makes it one of my favorite movies of all time … that and the fact that I was once not all that dissimilar from Donnie, myself.  The director, Richard Kelly, says he welcomes any and all viewer interpretations as valid and mine is that the movie is a commentary on the way in which a few of us try desperately to escape our conditioned realities.

Donnie Darko is an extremely intelligent and eloquent young high school student who just doesn’t fit in with the world around him.  His principal remarks at one point that his test scores are intimidating, and Donnie constantly challenges those around him to stop buying into the pre-programmed beliefs they’ve been spoon-fed.  But when he tries to break free, the universe pushes back and provides him with nothing but resistance and sorrow and pain.

I think all of us must face this sort of ordeal in life where we question our own existence and come face to face with death and pain and God and the thought of being alone in a cold, dead, and empty nihilistic universe.  For those of us that are more aware, we usually face these issues sooner, rather than later, often around the age that Donnie Darko was in the movie.  For those that are strong enough, we learn to move on and find answers and meaning behind it all.  Like with any test, those that can’t hack it are doomed to repeat their lessons until they ultimately learn them.

So what is it we can learn from Donnie Darko?

“And did you stop and think that maybe infants need darkness?  That maybe darkness is part of their natural environment?” ~ Prof. Kenneth Monnitoff

Perhaps the first thing that Donnie Darko teaches us is that it’s ok to be different (but not easy) and that it’s perfectly normal (but not common) to be going through all of this crap and that life is too boring if you just sit around looking pleasant all the time like Kitty Farmer or Jim Cuttingham.

Darkness teaches us to appreciate the presence of light.  Chaos teaches us to appreciate order.  You can’t have one without the other, since darkness is the absence of light and chaos is the absence of order.  For life to be in dynamic equilibrium, there has to be some of both.  Too much light or too much darkness and you will not be able to see clearly.  Too much light or too much darkness and you’ll eventually go blind.

I remember walking around my school one time when I realized that peace is actually quite boring sometimes and that we never really notice things like peace and love and health until we stop having them; but once we’re sick or in the middle of a war zone or alone, we only want for it to end and for us to return to that healthy and peaceful and loving time.

“There are other things that need to be taken into account here.  Like the whole spectrum of human emotions.  You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!” ~ Donnie Darko

Donnie is obviously very aware of reality and that life is a lot more complex than the so-called authorities would have him believe.  Those in positions of power over him live in a fantasy world and use threats and drugs and mind-control techniques when he refuses to conform to their reality.

At one point, Kitty Farmer threatens him, saying that if he won’t put a clearly subjective issue into a black or white category, then he will receive a zero for the day.  Of course, Donnie knows better.  He knows that a failing grade is a meaningless symbol that has no real-world application to anything.  So he tells Kitty that she can shove the whole program up her ass.  This lands him into detention and a parent-teacher meeting is called.  It’s clear from the way in which the principal deals with the situation that he’s little more qualified than Kitty Farmer is – a fact that is further displayed when he fires the only open-minded teacher at the school.

“You’re right, actually …  I’m pretty toubled and I’m pretty confused … but I think you’re the fucking Antichrist.” ~ Donnie Darko

The human mind goes through many different levels of consciousness, ranging from that of a primitive animal all the way up to … well, there’s theoretically no limit to that.

Religion and superstition are just one level along the way.  Religion can be a good thing when it prevents people from causing harm to themselves and to one another and when it gets them to follow a degree of order in their lives.  But those rules are meant more to keep people in line than to reveal to them the truth, and this is when religion can become a problem, as there are many who will kill others because they don’t understand the true purpose of what is written in their religious codices.

“I have reached the end of your book and … there are so many things that I need to ask you.  Sometimes I’m afraid of what you might tell me.  Sometimes I’m afraid that you’ll tell me this is not a work of fiction.” ~ Donnie Darko

Science portends to be all about truth, but it often ignores the equally important vessel of understanding: philosophy.

Donnie Darko’s science teacher, Kenneth Monnitoff, opens up to him initially in explaining to him about time travel and wormholes.  For a while, Donnie is very interested and grateful to his teacher for that guidance.  He takes that knowledge and uses it to advance his understanding of what’s going on; but he becomes frustrated upon returning to his professor again after he’s taken The Philosophy of Time Travel (which Monnitoff gave him) and used it to discover some very esoteric things.  Monnitoff tells him that he can’t continue helping Donnie or he would risk losing his job.  So now Donnie is once again all alone.

I can recall having similar conversations with my own science teachers.  When I started talking about multiple dimensions or the application of negative mass in regards to flying saucers, I got strange and worried looks as though they believed I ought to be in a mental institute.  But was that necessarily the case or did they just not have the imagination or evidence I had?

“I don’t think that you have a clue what it’s like to communicate with these kids.  We are losing them to apathy … to this prescribed nonsense.  They are slipping away.” ~ Karen Pommeroy

Clearly, none of Donnie’s teachers, except for Karen Pommeroy, is even remotely capable of understanding the pain and the trauma that Donnie has gone through.  They aren’t equipped with the awareness and experience necessary to understand that a schizophrenic mind will not conform to social norms.  Whatever Donnie is going through, whether it’s real or imagined, he most certainly believes it to be real and is willing to act upon those beliefs.

For those of you who have never experienced it before, such things as manic-depression, multiple personality disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia arise when the mind is given something that it cannot resolve easily.  It may be a paradox that can’t be logically resolved or a painful experience that the person would rather deny or something that is simply so foreign to everything that the person has come to believe up to that point about reality.  Either way, it’s something so powerful that the mind is incapable of handling it without shutting down, so it partitions itself the way one would partition a hard drive.  This partition is kept separate along with all the related data on the matter until a safe and acceptable resolution can be had.  Medication may curtail the resultant behavior and make the person function within society, but ultimately the only real solution is for the individual to find a way to reunite the two parts of their mind again.

“I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breath a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.” ~ Donnie Darko

Donnie’s principle fear is dying alone.  He tells Dr. Thurman that it’s foolish to believe in God if everyone dies alone.  His therapist explains that he is actually an agnostic, not an atheist, since he acknowledges the possibility of God, even if he’s not sure if there’s proof.

We often talk of God’s plan and divine intervention.  In fact, most of the events in Donnie’s life all happen for a reason.  “Deus Ex Machina,” he cries.  For a more thorough explanation of how any why, see this document.  It’s possible that the events of 2012 may be a similar deal with a Tangent Universe being created that could threaten to destroy the world.  It’s also very reminiscent of some of the themes in Inception and Deja Vu.

At the time of my writing this article, I haven’t seen the sequel to it: S. Darko, but I really would love to.  Maybe I’ll even do a post on that one as well.

In the meantime, I hope that anyone who suffers from a life like the one that Donnie Darko had will be able to make it through alright and come to see it, as I have, as nothing more than a rite of passage into an elect group of aware and free  human beings.

As Gretchin says, being weird is meant as a compliment.