What is Gothic?

Watching this interview with Alan Moore: https://youtu.be/RpajFQECzAk?t=8m10s
During the interview, Moore discusses Gothic horror tradition. He describes it as an “enormous vertical weight in time, placed on the fragile present” with a looming event coming home to roost. (I’m reminded of symbolism using crows). That explains it all so well.
I’ve heard about Gothic things many times before, but nobody has ever tried to explain what makes a Gothic thing Gothic. At least, not the historical Gothic. I think that’s because of this detestable subculture we have called “goths”. (The fact that Visigoths existed doesn’t help with definitions, either). The modern “goths”, in their pre-adolescent obsession with themselves, have obscured a modern day human’s understanding of Gothic art and its sensibilities. Gothic art is not about the color black, pain, and suffering. That is teenage angst. The true Gothic mode is not so pedestrian, it lifts our eyes up and confronts us with the mortality flooding our universe. It’s an incredible moment in human history and that’s why “goths” suck. In my mind, the Cathedrals are the European equivalent of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids.
Before I visied Dom Koelner in 2015, I’d heard of Gothic architecture many times before, but it never made sense to me. It seemed like it was about spires piercing the air. The Gothic architecture style was piercing, but not angular. It preferred curves, but the curves were not comforting and round — they were instead a deviation from rectilinearity. So I knew what Gothic looked like, and had an idea of what it made one feel, but there was something about it I did not understand. I knew the Gothic motif, but it felt like there was a Gothic moral missing.
In my time I had also felt the presence of the Gothic mode in movies. It is quite at home in unsettling space films like Event Horizon (whose title I always forget). Interstellar also utilizes the Gothic mode, which is why Hans Zimmer’s expansive score makes use of the most ethereal instrument available to man: the organ. Space is impossibly enormous and unforgiving. Lovecraft’s Cthulu, fear incarnate, is from space. A very Gothic thing, space.
Every moment I spent in the presence of Dom Koelner (just Dom Koelner, when I was with other humans I felt normal and mundane), I could a feel a slow rumbling chorus in my ears reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi . Listen.
The ancient European cathedrals feel otherworldly.  They tower over you — very much like a skyscraper. But skyscrapers feel so different: utilitarian, proud, guarded. A safe and mundane place. A cathedral confronts one’s self with their mortality, creating vulnerability and hopefully peace. When one stands at the base of a cathedral and looks up at its bristling spires, one can see the sky move while the intransigent and implacable structure of the cathedral remains fixed in space and time. It is slightly hallucinogenic to look up at them like so. When these cathedrals were constructed, I imagine the Europeans communing with a presence in the universe that modern day humans can no longer feel or reach. Perhaps I imagine that because the motivations these medieval Europeans must have had are utterly opaque to me, a 21st century American. Perhaps I imagine that because of Randall Carlson’s interview on Joe Rogan’s show. The cathedrals were constructed over centuries, many of them remain unfinished. Generations of men worked on them, sometimes falling to their death.
Going back to Moore’s description of the Gothic mode, I can now confidently use the word Gothic in conversation. When he speaks of Gothic being an “enormous vertical weight in time, placed on the fragile present” with a looming event coming home to roost, there is an undoubted sense of overwhelm blanketed with grim and inexorable mortality. The cathedrals are sky-piercing and unyielding monoliths, space is impossibly enormous and unforgiving to our biology. That is Gothic.
What is Gothic?

Sunday; Scientism and Reductionist science

Another Sunday winds down, and with it, another week has passed where I haven’t written something up.

It’s really hard to find the appropriate time for writing with my schedule. I work 10-12 hour days of driving and manual labor. That makes it nearly impossible to get any writing done.

In my reading of writer interviews, seemingly all writers make a regular practice of writing: writing first thing in the morning, usually. This makes sense to me. I find that I’m most productive on a morning with no agenda. My mind is fresh and unburdened, the air buzzes with potential.

In periods of my life where I didn’t have to get up before sunrise, I did a lot of writing late at night. This is the other time that writers will write. The normal activities of humans subside at night. With the ensuing solitude, one’s muse is unimpeded by not only ambient distraction, but also thoughts of the thoughts of other humans. Less inhibition. Go wild and edit everything when you wake up next morning.

Writing at night is not an option when you get up at 5:30am (or earlier).

On weekdays, mornings belong to work. On Saturday, the morning is also not available; I’m doing all the things I can’t do during the work week. When I get back home on Saturday, I want to decompress, not dive into a project requiring significant amounts of human expressive input. I really enjoy my Saturday errands, they let me live a life outside of work, support personal interests and projects, and engage meaningful relationships. But I’m still tired when I get home.

That leaves Sunday. Sunday ends up getting the big hard important stuff since Saturday deals with personal care (mental, emotional, physical). The big hard important stuff is the kind of stuff you know you need to do in order to progress in life. Stuff like writing and making decisions about your future. So Sunday has a lot on its plate. And it also suffers from some schizophrenic juxtaposition. Even if Sunday is the day with the most freedom, it is also the last call for escapism. The impending workweek looms over Sunday, and that means that certain things have to be prepared or taken care of before the rat race begins anew. It’s very easy to say: “I’ll do it next weekend.”

But not this weekend. Instead, I give you two loosely related rants on Scientism and reductionist science.

The first is a response to an essay by William A. Wilson.

The article started out weak, since it covers the reproducibility crisis and its spokesperson Ioannadis (a necessity for posterity, I suppose). For how important and subversive it is, I have yet to read anything that makes that subject not boring to read.

However, after we’re done slogging through that, we get to some fun. To start, some well-deserved shade gets thrown on physics. Then we see that peer review and seniority deference actively work against the aims of science, making the scientific literature resistant to new and unpopular ideas.

I should note that, before I get into my favorite part, pretty much all of the false and problematic research relies heavily on data collection and statistical interpretation.

Finally, we get to the two most recent (and arguably, the most deplorable) forces of scientific regress. That is, the careerists and the Cult of Science (or scientism, sometimes I refer to it as Science with a capital S). I say they are the worst because they are what will keep science in a downward spiral. Careerists can’t compete with novel and paradigm-breaking research; no, the status quo is good for the paycheck, so that is what they will produce. An intellectually humble scientific establishment is incompatible with the dogmatism of the cultists. Moreover, the longer that scientism continues, the more exposure and influence it will gain on the egos and motives on not only the current crop of researchers, but especially the future generations of researchers.

Second, an email to my brother, responding to “How I Stopped Eating Food

Okay, so I have a few things to say. I’m going off my memory of it from when you first emailed it, so if there’s an error, that’s why.

A. It’s really dangerous doing a fully synthetic diet because you never know what you’re leaving out. He even ran into that issue quite quickly with iron… and iron is not exactly a new and exotic element in nutrition. People have known about the critical importance of iron for at least decades… so I don’t know how that escaped his review of literature. Total noob mistake. Then you have to extrapolate that problem to molecules we don’t have a lot of data on yet, molecules we don’t even have names for yet. My personal opinion is that thinking you can create the perfect synthetic diet by looking at some research papers is blind Science worship (Science with a capital “S) because it presumes that we know everything we need to know already. People don’t understand that the most important element of scientific inquiry is intellectual humility. In other words, it’s not about FACT!s, it’s about advancing a theory and accepting that you might be wrong.

B. So why did he improve his health after going synthetic? I’m assuming he knows very little about nutrition, and therefore also assuming he basically ate junk before. This is important for two reasons. If you’re not already a food nazi, and you live in America, you are eating a lot of garbage that is terrible for you. You’re eating lots of PUFAs, man-made chemicals, etc. All that stuff will make you feel like crap, so once you remove it, you feel better. Tada! That’s why a lot of people feel better initially when they go vegetarian or do some other restrictive diet. They’re not actively throwing (as many) toxins down their throat, so they feel better.

The other side of this is that now that he’s planning out his diet, he is consciously selecting for nutrient sufficiency. Compare this to his previous diet where he likely never gave a second thought about whether he was getting enough vitamin C or magnesium. I can guarantee you he was deficient in many nutrients, and so when he started eating a supplement smoothie, he was getting nutrients he wasn’t before. Now his body could start doing processes it couldn’t before.

C. Regarding his thoughts on the social and environmental implications: classic Silicon Valley Transhumanist Engineer babble. Derision aside, I thought his point about trash cans being in the kitchen was genuinely insightful. Most waste is food-related, this is true. But if we’re not pooping anymore… that sounds like some robot type shit to me. It just moves us closer to the man-is-machine utopia these people want. We’re living in temperature regulated structures, using motorized transport, sitting in chairs and interfacing with technology all day… just get in the fucking Matrix already, you pansy. Hook up your damn brain. It’s complete dissociation from one’s body… and other bodies, as well. It’s ignoring all the wonders of manifested reality. It narrows the scope of life, it doesn’t broaden.

Before I got off on that rant, I was going to talk about how eating is an extremely communal practice. Not so much in America, but many other cultures have retained the communal nature of food. It’s what you do with friends and family. When you gather for a meal, you’re not just nurturing your body, you’re also nurturing your relationships, your soul, your mind. It’s a time to slow down. It’s a form of identity, it bonds you to your family, your community. If everyone is ingesting gray goo, that’s another bond you lose to other people, past and present. Again, dissociation — you lose one more way that you know who you are in the world.

D. I did know about Soylent before. In fact, halfway through reading the link, I was thinking “too bad, dude, somebody already made Soylent.” And it turned out that it was THE Soylent. An acquaintance of mine wrote of a review of Soylent from a nutritional perspective: http://fixyourgut.com/soylent-2-0-review/ He makes a rather startling observation:

What is disturbing to me is not the similarity of macronutrients, but the means from which they were sourced and processed. Captive animals, who have lost their freedom to graze naturally, are fed commercial products derived and processed from corn, soy, and vegetable oil. The ingredients are designed to keep animals alive in a confined and restricted environment as cheaply as possible without a reduction in weight. When you read the story of a software engineer overworked, too busy to eat, and consumes Soylent, there are some definite parallels.

If you did want to try something like that, I’d suggest reading this thread: http://forum.bulletproofexec.com/index.php?/topic/13718-most-foods-seem-useless-any-insights/?hl=soylent At least it’s not from some nutritional noob.

 

Sunday; Scientism and Reductionist science