Art & Ancestral Decision

§.00 Artistry is nothing without technicity, for the artist is nothing without his tools. Given that all tools are, at the first, conceptual, the ontological enterprise necessarily subtends both. Philosophy (as mental technicity) determines by way of an analysis of the haecceity of one’s muse(s) and subjects(s), which thus determines the technical venue(s) by which pertinent qualia may be internally refined and externally expressed (in art).

§.01 What is interesting to me, in light of this realization, is the way in which the artist (and not merely the designer) as a general matter, takes ontologic assertions (the real purpose of art is X but not Y), as givens, without consideration. The horror writer considers the nature of his work, but does not consider the collective, inter-generational enterprise which brought the entire genre into being and so must fail to apprehend its previous purpose(s), and thus what previously worked in the genre (what linguistic tactics to deploy) even if he has a solid grasp of its present purposes[s]). The painter does not generally realize, or, at the least, does not generally remark upon, the fact that his art is based upon the primacy of a particular privileging of objects (such as Futurism privileges of speed and the machine), if the issue is raised, such a consideration is likely to be considered trivial, when it is anything but, as the ordering of objects in a painting of is central important to the purpose of the painting itself (and there is one, even if it is visible only one’s muse and thus opaque to the self). And so it is with the author, the sculptor, the illustrator, the actor, the dancer and any other type of artist. Implicit internalization and affirmation of this kind should, if recognized, be given to critical reconsideration, for failure to do so can result in a concretized implicit conceptual frame, born of unspoken ontological decision (decision is not, of necessity, the truth and most ‘ontology’ is merely psychological gratification and defense)—what we might call the ancestral decision—which vitiates the very pathways by which one’s desired or considered art would, in their absence, profligate.

 

Consumerism Qua Materialism: A Modern Confusion

Materialism has become a rather dirty word, principally through its connection to consumerism. Indeed materialism seems to have become so thoroughly conflated with consumerism as to be wholly indistinguishable. For example, in the study, Changes In Materialism, Changes In Psychological Well-Being: Evidence For Three Longitudinal Studies & An Intervention Experiment, the authors write: “Studies 1, 2, and 3 examined how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes in well-being, using varying time frames (12 years, 2 years, and 6 months), samples (US young adults and Icelandic adults), and measures of materialism and well-being.”

It would be mistaken to conflate a philosophy of materialism, with mere consumerism as behavioral practice. I am not here suggesting that this is what the authors of the document have done (indeed, it appears as if they are simply using ‘materialism’ as a placeholder for ‘material object; principally, those objects manufactured and distributed in modern western society’), however, at first glance, it is difficult to tell and this is the crux of the problem. When one word is conflated with another, after a sufficient period of usage the two become implicitly associated, regardless of whether they are actually interlaced in any meaningful way. Thus, when one deploys the term ‘consumerism’ one instantly thinks of ‘materialism’ and vice-versa. This, I shall argue, is wholly mistaken; however, before proceeding, let us define our terms.

Consumerism is a term which rose to prominence in the 20th Century with the advent of mass production and denotes a social order wherein goods are purchased and used (‘consumed’) in ever increasing quantities. It has a few other more technical definitions, however, this is generally the explicit meaning of the term when it is negatively deployed (and it is almost always negatively deployed, at least, as of this writing, though positive variations of the term were used, such as by J. S. Bugas who deployed the word to refer to consumer sovereignty). In this negative characterization, consumerism is keeping-up-with-the-Jones or Patrick Batemanism — normative behaviors which privilege non-noetic objects over noetic ones with the exception of the referent consumer (the individual who is consuming the non-noetic objects, who naturally does so, not because they care solely about the objects themselves, but because they gain something from the consumption of those objects).

Materialism, broadly, briskly and vulgarly speaking, is a philosophical position generally characterized by substance monism, which holds that because everything which has been observed is energy and matter, it is rational to conclude everything that exists is (or is likely to be) composed of energy and matter (the same inductive reasoning is at work in expanding the theory of gravity to all places in the universe, even those wholly unobserved). As a school of thought, it has gone through numerous incarnations ranging from Democritus the atomist, to the cosmic mechanists prior to Newton, to the scientistic physicalists of the modern age (such as Hawking, Krauss and Dawkins).

More rigorous, sophisticated and logically defensible forms of ontological naturalism (sometimes referred to as ‘realism’ in contradistinction to ‘idealism’) which have been referred to as various materialisms can be found in the work of such philosophers as Wilfrid Sellars, John McDowell and Jeremy Randel Koons and the neuroscientist, Paul M. Churchland.

Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the ontological assertions or arguments of any variation of materialism – atomist, mechanist, Sellarsian or eliminativist – it should be clearly noted that consumerism is a descriptive set of social practices, not a holistic formal ontology. One may be a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or Daoist and still be a consumerist. Indeed, the vast majority of those who have ever lived western consumerist lifestyles within modern society have been Christians (principally Catholics and Protestants), not scientistic materialists (as is sometimes alleged); this is demonstrable simply by reference to religio-demographic composition, as most consumer societies were, from their inception, constituted by Christians who are, obviously, non-materialists (philosophically speaking). Of course, it is perfectly possible to be a stalwart materialist (in the philosophical sense) and still be a consumerist, but it is not intrinsic to the position.

Drawing a clear distinction between materialism and consumerism is important given that because consumerism has become so thoroughly disdained, referent to it likewise besmirches any materialist ontology through negative moral assignation, RATHER than through rigorous logical refutation, thus engendering an impairment, not only of the thorough-going materialist diagrams, but also of critical, logical thought itself.

Precepts of the Terrestrische Lehramt, prt.2

Ontological Machinism

It is touted by those who disdain the terrestrial, by those who high-handedly dismiss the si quis ferro, those who seek to master temporality rather than remove one’s self from it, that all which is or can be mechanically defined is of a lesser inherent value than that which is of a supranatural ordering. Thus, let us consider the following hypothetical.

It has come to light that all those principles and precepts and effects which had previously been attributed to any and all sources outside of the tangible and terrestrial have been discovered as being part and parcel of but a single, unifying, mechanical process.

This is obviously not the case, but if it were, would this in any way deprive such precepts of their power or importance? No – quite the opposite! For what, after all, is a machine but a method for the magnification of human force and will! For if our conscious minds are the product of ethereal souls then they are likely beyond the reach of tinkering. If fallen, we remain fallen forever. But if our minds arise solely as a mechanical process then they are amenable to modulation and if they are amenable to modulation they are amenable to improvement.

Understanding this we come to a realization – there are few enough men who seek anything other than improvement. All questions regarding the improvement of what within or surrounding Man as well as all queries regarding how such improvements can be carried out are initially immaterial. Bridges, after all, can only be crossed upon their completion.

Such is our guiding purpose.


In mechanical improvement there is an objective grounding for not just the individual, but all of Mankind. With these precepts in mind our tower has both foundation and purpose. Let us build it to the sky.

 

Having thus found both foundation and general purpose a question then arises – improvement of what and to what end? The answer is surprisingly simple and only this: the first and most important trajectory of improvement should ever lie upon the individual, for the man that can not improve himself can in no wise improve another. One does not charge a fool with the education of the sage.

Axiom: Improvement can only be achieved through purpose.

Even if one’s purpose is only to generate or discover a purpose then time is wasted not. But if one knows not what one’s purpose is, befuddled by meaning entire, then such a being is truly lost. He swims upon the surface of a stormy sea, fearing no thing higher than the roiling blackness beneath, for despite its hidden wonders the swimmer knows nothing of swimming nor the holding of breath!

The clever swimmer, in contrast, knows how to swim, how long he can hold his breath and how deep he can dive before ever submerging. Improvement through purpose to further purpose. Such things are not static to man.

Previously we have employed “Mankind” – a hyperbolic oversimplification.

All projects are contained under the rubric of value alignment. Most all of that which a man might recognize about himself can be changed, but only through the rigorous process of sanding. For man is like a great and unwieldy slab of granite, heavy, hard but unseemly and purposeless – to him we take the chisel! For it is not enough to be but cogs and gears and granite without form. From the granite – a statue. From the whirling gadgetry – a machine. Again, these are not static in their dimensionality, despite all appearances to the contrary. Cometh a predictable outcry of opposition, “What about the value of life? All men value life!” To which I would reply: All men, for however brief a time, wish to live. They do not, all too often, know why. Here impulse is suzerain. Even the suicidal take their life with utmost hesitation. The problem to be solved then is whether or not impulse is akin to value. The answer is that the valuing process is an impulse.