Random Acts of Aphorism

Colonial Williamsburg is not the most likely place to stumble across multi-colored pieces of paper strewn on the ground, each numbered with hand-written phrases in plain ink pen.

Yet this is exactly what was found the weekend before Christmas. The originals were found by Mona, my stepmother, while she and my Dad celebrated their anniversary, staying at the Williamsburg Lodge. My wife and I joined them for lunch on their departing day.

Here is a transcript of the found notes, all dated 11/24/07, in no particular order:

Relax Your Living – #26

Smile at everyone you pass! 🙂 – #115

Everything happens for a reason – #74

Never Give Up – #34

Forget what you cannot [sic] replace – #37*

Follow Your Dreams – #2


*The intent here seems actually to be: forget what you can replace, since these material things are not so important, in the wider world of wise aphorisms.

Photo Series

In 2006, I had a digital camera that bit the dust. It would still take pictures. Pictures of what is the question. The following photos are those taken with this Sony DSC-P10, both before and after its demise. Today, it no longer takes any pictures. Dead now like many things in my life from that era.

Breaking News: Pleasure is Good

Here are the basic philosophical tenets underpinning the Christian viewpoint on sex. This is based on a view of masturbation, which the church frowns upon, for the following reasons:

  • Sexuality was not created for personal enjoyment but as a way to express love to one’s mate.
  • Masturbation is self-centered behavior.
  • Jesus expressly calls His followers to deny themselves.
  • Masturbation is driven by lust and fantasy.
  • Masturbation causes a person to isolate from others.
  • Masturbation is controlling.
  • Masturbation causes feelings of guilt and shame—clear signs of its wrongness.
  • Masturbation opens the door to other sexual sin.

Let us analyze these statements in the full light of logic, which is given to us by God, who made our minds.

Sexuality was not created for personal enjoyment but as a way to express love to one’s mate.

The idea that personal enjoyment is not intended by God in the sex act is not supported by biological facts. If God created our bodies, He created them with nerve endings, hormonal reactions, and other biological features which make the sex act highly pleasurable in a mutual and personal way. Also, the way that love is expressed to one’s mate (or partner) through sex is through the sexual pleasure derived therein. Sex is pleasurable and is intended to be pleasurable. Without pleasure there is no sex. It’s just fucking.

Masturbation is self-centered behavior.

Most behavior is self-centered. We start as babies, who do not know the difference between ourselves and the world around us. While we mature into adults, we never lose important constructive motives, such as a sense of individuality and identity. We strive to master our environment in socially approved ways, which are learned. If we are taught that masturbation is wrong, we will accept it as socially unacceptable. However, regardless of the mores of the society we are born into, masturbation is no more self-centered than cleaning wax from our ears, eating, getting dressed, or taking a shit. All of these things, however, are regulated in some way by society. It doesn’t make any of these things inherently wrong.

Jesus expressly calls His followers to deny
themselves.

Many sayings and teachings are attributed to Jesus. What is the meaning of ‘deny yourself’? Will you not eat as a follower of Jesus? Will you not sleep? Will you not wear clothing? Is it a contest to see who is more pious by ‘denying oneself’ more than others who are also following Jesus and denying oneself? I say that denying yourself by not masturbating is not enough. Jesus also intended his followers, ideally, not to marry. The issue of sex and the followers of Jesus is simple: if you are a pure follower, you are celibate and your whole life is devoted to feeding the hungry, healing the sick, ministering to the poor and those who are jailed. If you are a pure Christian, this is what you are called to do. You have no personal belongings and your life’s work is ensuring that all of those around you are fully aware of God’s love as expressed by Jesus’s death and resurrection. You do not have time for worrying about whether masturbation is wrong or right because you are also praying without ceasing. I believe, though, that God will guide you in these personal, private matters. It’s not for other men to decide.

Masturbation is driven by lust and fantasy.

There is no direct, objective correlation between lust, fantasy, and masturbation. Masturbation is possible through the right amount of friction and lubrication. It does not have to be accompanied by ‘lust’ or any thought beyond a concentration on the pleasure being gained from the act. Pleasure and lust are not equivalent. This one of the great Christian fallacies.

Masturbation causes a person to isolate from
others.

It also causes hairy palms, blindness, and other maladies. I have a fabulous snake oil to sell you to cure it all.

Masturbation causes a person to isolate from others because in most places it is illegal to expose your genitalia. Masturbation is also a private, personal act done between a person and their own personal, private parts. Naturally, in most cases, one does it alone. Characterizing masturbation as an impetus for ‘isolation’ is overly dramatic. This characterization is no more valid than characterizing brushing one’s teeth as a cause for
‘isolating’ oneself.

Excuse me, I’ll be right back. I need to… uh… brush my teeth.

Masturbation is controlling.

There are those who do not have self control, but masturbation is no more controlling than the need for food. Yes, our biology forces us to do things that we sometimes don’t want to do. It would be nice to have the ability to deny ourselves sleep and accomplish things we wish to accomplish in a timeframe we have planned. However, our biological needs do control us to
an extent and should not be ignored. Ignoring biological needs is the sure path away from good health.

Masturbation causes feelings of guilt and shame—clear signs of its wrongness.

Guilt and shame are learned feelings. There is nothing intrinsic in those feelings that make the behavior that illicited these feelings ‘wrong’. An ethical framework which describes all behavior as either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is built on immaturity. Also, it is possible to feel guilty about something even though, judging from all possible options, it is, in fact, the ‘right’ thing to do. It is possible to have hard choices where no option is palatable, yet a decision needs to be made. It would be nice if there was a guide book that told us exactly what to do and not to do and we wouldn’t have to think for ourselves in our
daily lives. However, no such thing exists. We must take
responsibility for our own actions. But guilt and shame are taught to us. If we are taught that masturbation is wrong, then we will feel guilty.

Also, if we are not given accurate information about a new physical phenomenon, like feelings of sexual need and pleasure when we come of age, and when we are not given accurate information about our changing bodies as it is happening, then we are likely to develop pathological ideas about them.

But saying masturbation is wrong because it causes guilt is like saying the chicken exists because the egg layed it.

Masturbation opens the door to other sexual
sin.

On a health note, researchers are now finding that masturbation reduces the risk of prostate cancer in men. The idea that masturbation is sinful, as I have demonstrated, is flawed.

The ‘slippery slope’ argument is also faulty. When carefully examined, there is simply no correlation between masturbation and ‘sexual sin’. The Bible does not address masturbation as sin. No, the story of Onan is not about masturbation and no, the Sodom and Gomorrah story does not cover it either. The Catholic Catechism does not directly say much about masturbation. It is treated as an ‘Offense Against Chastity’. So for those trying to be chaste, it is a sin. The Catechism goes on to quote the Persona Humana, saying it has been the tradition of the church and ‘the moral sense of the faithful’ that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action. ‘Disordered’ simply means out of order, but does not describe a sin. The point is that the Catholic order of things is for sexual experience to occur procreatively between a man and a woman who are married in the church. This governs a person’s behavior as a member of the Church. It does not define sin in the sight of God.

Also, the Cathecism provides considerable leeway for pastors in examining the culpability of the masturbator. Factors to take into account include affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extentuate moral culpability. Hardly cut and dried.

My premise is that masturbation is not in and of itself, (i.e. intrinsically) sinful. If that fact is accepted, it does not follow that ‘other’ sexual sin is correlated. Sexual urges are a sign of a healthy person and should be encouraged rather than treated as sinful.

To summarize, the ‘Christian’ arguments against masturbation are illogical. Yet they exist for a logical purpose. The heretical expressions of anti-God charlatans would have you believe that God doesn’t want you to masturbate because it’s easier to control the followers of this false religion by harnessing sexual energy to that religion’s aims. Many false religions work this way. The true religion is one that brings joy, not pain.

Remember, God created our nature. He created pain in order for us to understand what to avoid. If a religion preaches that pain is good and pleasure is wrong, avoid avoid avoid.

Admitting Sexual Addiction

Yes, I can now honestly say I am addicted to sex. It has taken me a long time, but I realize that it’s true. The list of things I am addicted to now grows. Let’s see. I am addicted to sex, oxygen, water, food, music, and blood pumping through my veins.

Here’s a good resource on the subject.

Note: those who try to sell you their religion while offering ‘help’ with your (fake) ‘addiction’ are… uh… salespeople? Don’t buy it. They just want your soul…

Ok… religion is an easy target for ridicule and I don’t really mean to make light of serious addictions, but c’mon!… ditch the Puritannical outlook on sex. Do it now. Treating something fundamentally healthy as unhealthy creates many of the problems that ‘sexual addiction’ purports to treat.

Anyway, here is a nice quote from the above-linked article:

I don’t think those with low libidos, like memoirist Joan Sewell, author of I’d Rather Eat Chocolate, should be made to feel sexually incompetent, nor should those with bigger libidos be punished or made to feel like freaks. This isn’t about sexual appetite so much as feeling in control of your sexuality, however you choose to exert that control. If sex controls you, most of the professionals seem to agree, then you could very well be a sex addict.

Adults should be capable of self discipline, but there is also a difference between morality and aesthetics. My threshold for choosing to discipline myself may be different from yours, but is that a moral issue or an issue of taste? People constantly confuse morals (and politics) with aesthetics. They are also quick to criticize and lay blame. For myself, I blame the fashion industry, the peanut farmers of America, lazy and stupid politicians, Doctor Phil, and The Pope’s hat.

Black Holes

Now that I am an erudite subscriber to digital cable (with the Premier Package no less), I may consume content mere mortals are unable to obtain.

One such show that I happened to land on as I waded through the wide (though shallow) lake of entertainment choices dealt with Stephen Hawking and his Information Paradox Theory. This was on the Science channel.

Before I delve into this, I should mentione that I am, by no means, a physicist. In fact, one of my poorest academic performances, which happened in undergrad, was in an Astrophysics course. I passed, yet even with a 20 point grading scale, I scored the lowest ‘D’ possible. What can I say? I was an English major. Any class that didn’t involve analyzing or writing prose or poetry (or journalism) interested me as much as an oak tree is interested in blackberry jam.

The Information Paradox is a theory Hawking both proposed and unsuccessfully attempted to refute 30 years later. It deals with an analysis of matter or information about matter, as it relates to how it behaves when confronted by a black hole.

It helps to understand what a black hole is before looking at the theory further. However, that requires referencing Einstein’s theory of relativity as well as a nod to Quantum Mechanics, both of which any dolt can look up on Wikipedia. For that matter, just look up Black Holes.

What Wikipedia seems to refer to as leaked ‘Hawking Radiation’ relates to this Information Paradox. Essentially Hawking’s idea was that Black Holes eventually simply disappear. But, since the immense gravity of Black Holes draw matter into it, there is a problem. What happens to the matter when the Black Hole disappears? Hawking said that the matter also disappears. The paradox is that one of the fundamental tenets of science is that matter (or the information about that matter) cannot be destroyed.

Later, Hawking would attempt to explain that in fact the matter doesn’t disapper. Instead, and bear with me here as I attempt to explain what sounds like gibberish, you see there are multiple realities and in some of those alternate realities the Black Hole does not exist.

Therefore, when you take all the possible realities into one reality and sum it all up, the non-existence of black holes in certain realities cancel out the existence of black holes in other realities. What it means is that in those realities where the Black Hole does not exist, the matter was never sucked in and so never destroyed. In the end, when you look at all possible realities, the matter is never destroyed.

Alternate universes aside, the interesting thing is that the Law of Conservation of Mass/Matter does not actually apply in special relativity, which makes possible the idea of a Black Hole to begin with, so my sense is that the Information Paradox Theory is baseless, since it’s not really a paradox at all since mass defects are possible in special relativity. So even if one turns to non unitary time evolution as a solution to the paradox, its still a red herring. The answer is 42.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered the Disney film ‘The Black Hole’ to do further… uh ‘research’. Anthony Perkins. The robot Maxmillian. The coolest film put out by the Disney Corporation predating Touchstone Pictures.

Answering Machine Message

He said she gets a little crazy when she drinks. He said the guy asked them how much of that they wanted in there so they told him just a little bit and that’s what he gave them. He said that he could have just told him he’d get it back to him when he got back from California or something. He said that Artie is really a great house guest and he doesn’t mind having him there. Teddy On The Wrap Up Show.

Undercurrent

He said the guy always wants to know more about his stuff. He did say that he could let him try one but he decided against it. He said the guy always wants to know more about his stuff. Ralph said that he thinks someone slipped him something that night he was out drinking because he never blacks out after drinking.

Howard said he and Beth were talking about that Minister and possibly using him for their wedding. Howard said that’s never happened. He said he watched the Penn State game as well. Howard and the guys return live tomorrow.

Strange Spam

Spam arrived through my Virginia Tech account about an investment opportunity for Bigstring Corporation. Get in on the big opportunity to make a fortune. The spam part of the message was a .gif file, but that was not the strange part. The strange part was the surreal text contained in the actual email.

As an artistic exercise I am appopriating the text contained in the message and using it as my next two blog entries, as surreal literature.

Enjoy!