Perhaps some of you who have keen memories, or who enjoy filling your average sized memories with superfluous information, will recall that I have written in an earlier post that I was intent on addressing this subject at some future point. I’m sure you will be overwhelmed with excitement and thrill to find that said future point has arrived.
This post is merely an attempt to share with you a concept, that of The Mockery, which I think is quite important. Therefore, it will be a little less polished than one might hope, as I don’t really have the time or energy to compile all the sources I will draw from in an organized matter, yet I think I should try to share this with you all anyway. Thank you for your understanding, or failure to share a misunderstanding, regarding this incompetency.
I cannot take full credit for the title of this concept; it comes from a belief held by a friend of mine that he once shared with me saying, “I believe that all beliefs ought to be mocked as well as celebrated,” (or at least, he said something to that effect; unfortunately, I personally fall into the latter of the two categories I mentioned at the beginning of this post). The two of us then continued our conversation to point out how silly that was (for if all beliefs should be mocked, than even the belief that they should be mocked should be mocked, thus you have your infinite recursion that we all love). But in the end, one must come to the conclusion, concerning this issue, that the concept does hold some merit.
Indeed, by every model I’ve presented on this blog site, the idea must hold merit, for I’ve always acknowledged that all the theorizing we do is ultimately an insufficient model of the truth†, as “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in philosophy.” Thus, I am “mocking” the very beliefs that I have concluded on. And of course, if I want to be all postmodern about it–which I have no particular inclination of being–I should really also mock my self mocking those beliefs, and mock myself doing that, and so on to infinity. But that’s obnoxious. I personally feel that recognition of the first level of the recursion is perfectly sufficient, as it ‘implies’ every subsequent layer (and the layers of layers, as discussed in “Orders of Infinity”). Therefore, there is no need to say, at the end of an argument, “and all this might be wrong, but it is the best I could come up with, and that maxim might be wrong also, as well as that one, and that one …” If you did do this, you would just drive readers as crazy as I am probably driving you right now.
As a part of the correspondence with my friend on the subject of this concept, I wrote him a letter. Among the things I tried to accomplish in that letter was a differentiation between Mockery and Comedy. Here is an excerpt (which I reserve the right to have modified from its original form) from that letter in which I took a stab at that task:
It is painstakingly obvious from the way we are made, that we ought to laugh at the silly, eclectic combination of mortal bodies and immortal souls, “everlasting splendors,” (or, for now, whatever your philosophical equivalent is). A few pieces of music come to mind: Beethoven’s ninth symphony and Brahms’ first symphony (both of which, if you haven’t heard, you ought to drop everything and listen to right now). I was literally thinking these exact words when listening to Beethoven’s ninth most recently: “The second movement is both magnificently powerful, and boldly comical. This is part of what makes the piece so brilliant. If he [Beethoven] weren’t so comical with his style while also being serious, we would almost feel tempted to worship the sounds like pagans, and this would detract from the beauty because it is unnatural and wrong˚, but by also taking his music lightly as he does, Beethoven allows us to get swept away in aesthetic rapture, and then laugh at ourselves for being so moved by something so finite and mortal.” This is one of the things that really excite me about postmodernism. My music and thinking is sometimes almost hard to distinguish from the postmodernist. It is, truly, in complete opposition; however, my hope and prayer is that it is what ultimately becomes of postmodernism. More on this later.
I’d like to take this idea of comedy a bit farther. I also mentioned Brahms’ first Symphony. His comedy is a little more deeply rooted into reality. There is nothing particularly funny about his music, but oh how beautiful the last movement is. If you’ve heard it, perhaps you’ll understand what I cannot really say about it in words (this is one of the things about music; if I could explain everything music has to offer in words, it would hardly be worth writing in music). Here is my best attempt: the music concludes with a brilliant, warm, rich finale theme. The symphony began in a dark, minor key and builds the whole way to this conclusive ending. It’s like death and resurrection. This is a portrait of the comedy of life. All the horrid things of now mean nothing in the end beyond the extent to which they pointed us to the brilliant One who does mean something, and life eternal is free and beautiful; we will one day find that we truly had nothing to fear the whole time. This is another sense of comedy (if you can understand it from my vague and abstract description, or perhaps you’ve heard the piece and can see the connection) that I believe in. It is the same kind that exists’ in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The other type of comedy (the one described in the previous paragraph, I’ll call it mockery) is also present in this one. The mockery of Brahms’ first symphony is that it ends, and we are still here with all our fears and pains, and even during the symphony, we never fully left, the symphony never entirely met our longing for Heaven (because it is not heaven, it is mortal). Parallel mockeries exist in Dante as well.
That distinction being made, I went on to discuss its ramifications:
I think we should laugh at both comedy and mockery. We laugh with joy at comedy and with something more like scorn at mockery.
Thus we have our two types of philosophical humor, if you will. Now, to begin unraveling the mess of philosophy to which end, as I mentioned earlier, I hope postmodernism is bound. Yes, it is the opposite. Where postmodernism looks to deny an absolute reality in place of our self-mocking individual ones, it denies, or “mocks,” our individual views in place of the One absolute.
It is a rejection of the temporal rather than of the eternal. Dante and other thinkers (and artists, and the rest) of the past don’t seem to have seen this. Dante is so very caught up in mortal things. He thinks that everything can be measured. Every sin or noble doing is like a withdrawal or deposit in a check book, and the final balance determines exactly to which “level of Hell, Purgatory, or Heaven” you belong. This is not the case. As C. S. Lewis writes in the intro to his wonderful fantasy novel, The Great Divorce, there is no in-between Heaven and Hell, no going to Heaven with “a scrap of Hell in our pocket.” No, all the universe is ultimately binary (the opposite of the postmodernism) and yet infinite binary (a compromise). There is right, there is good, there is beauty, and there is wrong, there is evil, there is ugliness. That’s it. All these things ultimately boil down further into eternal states of being and non-being. 0 and 1. But this is getting a bit ahead of myself*.
That’s the problem with the artists (and the rest) of the past. Not that they believed too much in absolute truth, but that they believed too little, or (for the sake of clarifying) rather that they believed they knew that absolute truth, and that it was there, present to their conciseness in its entirety. It isn’t. Dante is like a Pagan. It is the business of the ancient Greeks and Romans to worship that which is human (or at least much too human-like), and even sometimes that which dies.
We must worship only things eternal.
As for my reference to Dante, this letter does not, by any means, convey my entire rhetorical view of him; I just presented a simpler one for convenience. To “expand your model” of my view of Dante a little, I share the following: When I wrote that “Dante is like a pagan,” I really meant, more specifically, “Dante, as I portrayed him in this letter, is like a pagan,” though my broader view of Dante is that he, on whatever level of his consciousness it may have been, understood what I have shared with you in this post, and thus, wrote the way he did in order to establish the “first level” of the recursive sequence. That is, we cannot worship God if we have absolutely no concept of him, we instead need the largest concept of him that we can fathom. However, as it turns out, and as Dante seemed to realize, just as “he who wishes to gain his life shall lose it,” and “the first shall become last,” so to does the simpler, more concert concept of God often constitute the larger one. Indeed, the concept God presents us with in the bible, his very word made flesh, is often the most concrete one of all, and it is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the largest, and most accurate.
[You don’t have to read this part if you don’t want to] And now, to write about what I just wrote in the previous paragraph, as that seems a relevant task in a post about The Mockery and all its recursiveness, notice, I wrote to you that what was in the letter was not a full model of the truth of the matter as I understand it. Indeed, even what I’ve written in that paragraph is not complete. Consequentially, many of you reading this may have felt like what I wrote in my letter was a lie, for it almost seems contradictory to my belief as I shared it with you. This presents a good question: what is the difference between bearing false witness and presenting and incomplete model of the truth as you know it? Since the question is relevant to the mockery, I thought I’d raise it here, and then those of you with the aforementioned, outstanding memories will recall it when I later write a post in which I answer it as best and honestly as I can with my most genuine attempt.
Finally, to comment on this post as a whole†: this is the strangest and worst-crafted posts of all those I’ve yet written. It seems to make a mockery of this entire blog. I apologize for however unpleasant that may be.
† Not because its wrong, but because it’s not the full truth. But, when we consider fractal reality, it can be seen as the full truth, within the bounds of the scope in which it exists; that it, its true to the degree of detail that one possesses the ability of seeing among the fractal of detail that makes up reality (like a computer programer creating ‘objects’). Now here’s the twist: apply everything I’ve written in this footnote so far to itself. Ultimately, once one does that infinitely, we see that we must abandon the whole issue of the mockery while we are “working on,” or formulating our models, and only turn to it in the process of “appreciating” those models, for it makes no difference to the process of thinking whether something is an object or an infinite string of binary.
˚ To mock my own writing–isn’t if funny that here I have my own thoughts in exact quotes after the remark I made earlier in the post about my memory? On a more serious note: this particular thought that the aesthetic would be lessened by an immorality in the act of its enjoyment goes along with “The Art of Thought.” That is, it is pleasurable, in some specific sense, for the mind to ponder truth, and likewise, for the soul to experience “righteous art.” Thus art is an act of philosophy, for a major part, if not the only part, of aesthetic is morality. Hence, in the context of the letter, it is pleasurable to listen to music that is good for the soul in much the same way that it is pleasurable to eat healthy foods, exercise, or tend to a wound, all of which actions are good for the body.
* If your interested in my writing on this matter (which I did not include in this post), see “Fractal Reality,” under “Metaphysics.”
† And the effect the contents of the post, and thus effect the comment about the post, once more effecting its contents …