Born This Way: On the Pope’s Catholic Reconception of Sexuality and Sexual Orientation as Godly-Given

FeaturedBorn This Way: On the Pope’s Catholic Reconception of Sexuality and Sexual Orientation as Godly-Given

“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El País. (Source: Stephanie Kirchgaessner’s report from The Guardian)

“Austen Ivereigh, who has written a biography of the pope, said Francis had likely made similar comments in private in the past, when he served as a spiritual director to gay people in Buenos Aires, but that Cruz’s public discussion of his conversation with Francis represented the most “forceful” remarks on the subject since 2013[,]” Kirchgaessner wrote in the Guardian article.

The Pope now seems to regard that the biological-cultural givens as which one found oneself compelled to identify oneself are givens by God the giver. A modern stance, indeed, and yes, whoever is understood as God by the legitimate institution of our earthly community by large is transforming from ages to ages, whereby our changing perception of what reality truly amounts to is universal and eternal as believed by us, however imagery and metaphorical it is to a different age. As such, Christians alike would reconceive an atemporal God by this temporal vision in that the Christian God is eternal no matter how it could have been changed in our perceptions. And in this case, now of course He must have given our sexualities and sexual orientations and identities. Because and just because this is a consequence of our time, which has to be reconstructed as a consequence of a Godly given in order to make sense of reality as experienced for our collective existential adequacy. This is entirely out of a historically contingent but existentially necessary motive at least part of which Catholics alike would attribute to the historical movement of the Holy Spirit.

Finished writing on 21 May 2018 at 19:47.

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Revisiting the Body since #MetGala2018: The NewYorker Queered “Heavenly Body” and The Catholic-Christian Body

FeaturedRevisiting the Body since #MetGala2018: The NewYorker Queered “Heavenly Body” and The Catholic-Christian Body

In case you don’t know, Rihanna landing on the Met Gala red carpet with a stunningly ravishing Pope dress has been what went viral recently in social media since Monday, 7 May 2018. Fundraising for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the annual Met Gala event was also meant to celebrate the exhibition this year charismatically themed “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. Responding to the Catholic reference, Matthew Schmitz, the senior editor of First Things, an American Catholic journal, wrote a web-exclusive article critically reflecting on the theme of the event. On the surface, the event crowning itself with fashionista and sacramentality is a daring but failing juxtaposition which amounts only to the stark incompatibility between the Catholic conception of the body and the NewYorker’s perceived “Heavenly Body”. Indeed, the two kinds of body mark their aesthetic differences when the latter seeks the artistic liberation of a heteronormative body from the institution of the former by prioritizing it over an established semiotic treatment of the Papal garment. Yet, this aesthetic return of the body back to a precognitive, holistic sensational level where the body claims the centre of the anthropological existence actually completes the circle of an evolution of the conception of the body in the West. Now it is high time we paid a revisit and dove into an exposition of the body again after my last post on the body.

Roman Catholicism before and after the 1054 East-West Schism as a consciousness has been rooted in, first and foremost, the monotheistic sense and sentiments fundamental to religious experience preserved in the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish tradition and, next, the Greco-Roman philosophical conceptualization and later doctrinal formulation of such this-worldly existential experience with the other-worldly giver of every given of this reality, including the body. I am not here to trace the etymological development of the body the concept but the positioning of the body in our human existential-experiential dynamics which consists of three levels (i.e. the sensational, the cognitive and the perceptual) and five stages (i.e. the three levels in chronological order and then with two returns, one epistemic and another aesthetic, back to the cognitive and the sensational level respectively). The body in the Catholic-Christian perception as understood in the Resurrection of the Body lies only after (S1) the so-called primitive body as (or as if) in the flux of reality in action has been through (S2) an initial conception distinguishing it from other things in reality, (S3) a rightful essentialization and identification in such perception and (S4) a cognitive return characteristic of reconceptualizating whatever the body is given or presented to the perceiving self in perception. And, at last, (S5) it goes through an aesthetic return back to the rightful and just treatment of the body as the body itself on the sensation level in action. This body in the postcognitive level of sensation is what is distinguished as the body we can typify, to which we can ascribe a name as the Catholic-Christian body. The body as seen from a NewYorker’s pair of voguish goggles (and also from a non-Western perspective) is vastly different, but it is still within the abovementioned experiential dynamic circle or cycle. It is the body not yet conceptualized before experience and experimentation, as in (S1). It is that which on the first sensational level.

Here I must outline the epistemological and epistemic consequences of the dynamics of this dynamic circle/cycle for the sake of a clearer comparison of the two bodies as conceived. Skip this paragraph if you find that the language here is getting too technical. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) Here we go: The experiential cycle is tantamount in structure to the smaller hermeneutic circle on the cognitive level within it. This circle in circle is what is important to recognize when one is speaking of an interpretative horizon in Continental epistemological terminology in philosophy. Phenomenologically speaking, the horizon is greater, when, information-theoretically speaking, more information is gained after possibilities (in propositional terms) with very low or zero probabilities have been cancelled in the face of evidence resourced from data or the lack thereof (with probabilities assigned by intuition, confidence and various other epistemic virtues), generating more truth claims sufficient for knowledge when those information items are prima facie (i.e. at the first place) justified and warranted until a defeater defeats the claims. The epistemological practice (as described above in a predominantly Western philosophical discourse prone to a problem of de-sensationalization specific to the West) is always restricted to the two cognitive levels and the perceptual levels, theoretically de-sensationalized if the sensational level is excluded. A completely rightful and just epistemic practice will have to satisfy this phenomenological necessary condition operative with sensation as a whole: following the way of letting-be (i.e. letting the others be themselves so the self can be) amounting to primary, existential, justice, which includes seeing the perceived other as a sovereign subject sui generis but not an object of perception. So, in order to understand the NewYorker conception of the body, a Catholic-Christian must not be ethnocentric in perceiving it and forcing one’s consciousness in deciphering this other, but one should adopt an attitude respecting cultural relativity and diversity (without necessarily endorsing moral relativism, which is different, because normativity rules over descriptivity in an attitude of moral relativism, while descriptivity is the goal or epistemic and praxeological virtue in an attitude of the kind of cultural relativism here). In this manner, a Catholic-Christian in the face of the NewYorker has to figure out the internal logic in the NewYorker (queering) consciousness, perhaps by mapping and engaging with his or her discourse; vice versa. (i.e. A cultural NewYorker should do the same to a Catholic-Christian understanding of the body if one really aims at dialoguing with this other.)

Of course the Met Gala fashion pope is just a crystallized copy of Catholic consciousness, but it celebrates its own NewYorker queering consciousness in antagonism towards “the original”. This consciousness is queering precisely because it is othering —— or treating as the other —— the body as conceived by the Catholics and the Catholic Church. It embraces the body in its precognitive form in sensation at least as much as the Catholics would uphold the body in its postcognitive form in the Bodily Resurrection of the faithful and the righteous. At the same time, it completes a hermeneutic circle of an evolution of the concept of the body as experienced by us all within the greater circle representing the actual placement of the body (as in the circle-in-circle situation in the last paragraph), because however anachronistically, it reconceptualized the body as in the Victorian-Christian sense, and transformed it into a rather deconstructive sense by an aesthetic return (symbolically into an art museum in the Met Gala event, yeah, sarcastically). People in New York wth such queering consciousness can meet their mating other in whatever urban settings, have a session of physio-biological union and see if this other can proceed to the next step towards the end of the hermeneutic or performative cycle/circle of dating and romance, where a point of exit for this other would be to become the significant other of that NewYorker’s hyper-individualist self. After all, the problematic of the juxtaposition of the two bodies from different stages is that whether each of the community, the Catholic or the queering/othering NewYorker, opens to a sufficient extent of horizons to the other (with the Absolute Other, however interpreted) for its conjoining the self (with appropriate extent of concealment for the sake of existential justice). Both logics of the two bodies can basically be sensational, sensible and sensical. The NewYorker queering consciousness can possibly (but not necessarily of course) rightfully uphold a precognitive sensational union of the body (i.e. “the Heavenly Body”) as in one night stands, for example (I mean, given the logical dynamics of the self and the other definitional of ethics, why not?), which is as legitimate as the Catholic (which today must be modern and nationalistic, however religious) consciousness, which can possibly (but not necessarily of course) allow the performance of postcognitive sensational union of the body as in sex within sacramental marriages (And still, given the logical dynamics of the self and the other here definitional of morality, why not?). None of the two parties should degrade the other’s logic of its consciousness, because they cannot but be of the same civilizational root in a sociocultural universalist manner.

Finished writing on 9 May 2018 at 23:36. Finished editing on 10 May 2018 at 03:53.

Have a Little More Faith In Your-Self: On Privacy and the Body, in relation to the Self and God 身私私:(如何)相信自己(而唔)會(變成自我中心的)高飛(狗)

FeaturedHave a Little More Faith In Your-Self: On Privacy and the Body, in relation to the Self and God 身私私:(如何)相信自己(而唔)會(變成自我中心的)高飛(狗)

“Can we believe in the self?”

My faith, if any, feels like a mess recently. Unlike an existential crisis, it is just in need of some reconstruction and compartmentalization on all levels of human operation, sensational, cognitive and perceptual. Being a Christian experientially means a lot different to me than before, especially when it comes to the self and how to perceive its importance in relation to God, and maybe it is high time I narrated what I see as my faith again.

“God” is reality to me, however, if not whoever, the word “God” designates. It is reality to me because it is the basic precognitive given upon which I base (or release my cognitive attachment to) every behaviour, thoughts and relations in my life. People have different conceptions of this so-called ultimate reality. Universe or nature for atheists. Nirvana for Buddhists. Fucked-up for my fellow nihilists. Disneyland for Goofy. And who-knows-what for Kim Jong-un the Supreme Leader of North Korea. I still think that Trinity is a very useful word to depict precisely the essence of this reality, because from my experience there are three co-presenting and co-referential divine personas sensationally inseparable but only cognitively clearly and distinctly distinguishable to us. In the language of the dynamics of the self and the other, firstly it is the given sensational union out of which the self and the other can be conjoined. It is whatever that is greater to be than not to be, because to us, it operates by letting us (i.e. the others to him) be, and incorporating our beings is definitional of whatever that is good. Secondly, it is the paradigmatic self as which the divine can be completely divine (to us), and completely and perfectly human at the same time because and just because it embodies all the dynamics of human experience in an optimal manner. Not only does it achieve cognitive and perceptual development in a historical man identifiable and identified as Jesus of Nazareth, the historical Jesus, but it also is fully capable of having epistemic reconceptualization of every perceived objects and having sensational reunion with every perceived objects such that those objects constitute constructive relations with it and can be in its rightful places in relation to it, showing what justice is. The unconditional opening towards the other on the levels of sensation, the full acknowledgement of the presence of the other on the levels of cognition and the accurate and willful identification with the other on the level of perception together make such a human being optimal and perfect, optimally and perfectly human indeed. On the level of perception, at least, we can identify and be identified with it if and only if it allows (and it does) and we take the initiatives to do so without (and without only) the external institutional forces from the religious-faithful cultures in which we live. Such is what faith is conditioned on grace. Thirdly, it is the Absolute Other upon which we have to rely at least precogntively such that we as the selves can be and let the others be in a community of selves and others in union with and in the abovementioned sensational union and the paradigmatic self. These three personas are co-present to us in our being in the world, without which we cannot be, so it is the given on which we must precogntively find or cognitively ground ourselves. I see that none of the established religious or philosophical-theoretical line of thoughts could deny this. The one way this depiction of God can be untrue is that there is no reality or that there is no such an “I” existing experientially perceiving such reality. But from our experience there is at least some occurrences or phenomena identifiable as reality and a unified “I”, so it is sufficiently justified and warranted to conclude that whether we like it or not, God as experientially identified (and later — and only later — defined) in this or a similar manner cannot but be present to us in general. In special occasions, sufferings and evil can be more present to us, but to be and to strive to become, one cannot help but must rely on this characterisation of God or something similar to it. Taking into account also the confines of our current semiotics and semantics, God as reality to us is as such the globalized civilizational point of entry and point of exit for any existential activities in our world by now. As to how it has been historically developed to be so, it is out of scope for now.

Here are some notes on the conception of God. God does not exist (or not exist) but is present to us, given a definition of existence as presence against a background. Because God is present against no other background but itself, it is present but not existent. Holding that attributing to God the property of existence is a category mistake, this definition of existence can solve many ontological problems I am not going to recount here. Hereby I just briefly note my preference. From being in this eternal but ever-changing dynamic sensational union, sociality (and thus politics), ethics, culture and everything out of which we tend to make categories have sprung out of existence in time and history. Narrating how this is possible and actual is for another time too.

Recently, I am faced with a new problematic of the establishment and the privacy of the self as the centre of existence, making the other just the periphery. This is an issue to me, since I have not been aware that there was a self of mine before having the others incorporated into me. In other words, I have never been living in terms of strict individualism. I have never had a self strictly conscious to me, such that I cannot be properly selfish or self-centred at all. “Isn’t it a good thing?” Some may ask. Yet when one has no self to ponder on, one cannot recognise what one really wants and no clear targets or goals can be discerned in the face of the self not only in relation but also in distinction to others. Living relatively aimlessly and going with whatever comes seems to be a Buddhist-Daoist ideal, but it is indeed not. A Buddhist-Daoist ideal allows room for the cognitive self and the perceptual self but without attachment to themselves, in a sense that one must return to the sensational level of non-attachment to things after conceiving and perceiving those things in the world and seeing them in their rightful place in the universe or reality. If I have never gone through the process of cognizing the self and be sufficiently self-aware to perceive and map the qualities and quantities of the self (e.g. whether I am actually happy at the moment or feeling other emotive states), I can never have any well-formed self in need of change, if there is such a need. (Christianity, under most interpretations, holds that the self, not established in Christ, is fallen and is prone to sining, as crystallized in the concept of original sin. But if there has never been a self, how would the self be able to respond to and be responsible for the fallen state?) To people from collectivistic socio-cultures, this faith would mean empowerment of their selves rather than the discard of their selfish selves (because they have none to discard). This “egoistic” individualism does not require the self to be a closed system in the face of the others. One still has to be selfless one’s sensational union with the others after realising that the self has its own essence in relation to (both constituted by and measured against) the others’ essences. So, sensational individualism is good and even necessary for sensational-existential personal growth and development, and a Christian without any well-formed self identifiable as a self would better have a little more faith in his- or her-self in order to grow in Christ. Plus, it is on this ground of individualism how (individual) privacy could be properly held. Privacy is possible because there is room for the self to stay unjoined with the others. Before, I understood that the self should not hold secrecy and conceal itself towards the other just because it has to respond to and just in this sense be responsible for the others by opening to the others for enlarging the self to include the others (aka becoming the greater self in one sense and becoming selfless in another sense of moving beyond the initial self). Now I clarify and I add that concealment and hence privacy of the self is allowed in its sensational union with the others if it is necessary to compartmentalise the self and the other, that is, to let the others be the others at their own places in reality and to allow the self to have such a difference with those others so that the self can be in its own place too, attaining justice by establishing and centring the self and at the same time giving existential space for the others to be diverse in their own ways at the peripheries in relation to the self. In this way (or only in similar ways), unity in diversity can be achieved. Here is a line of thought to be developed. Standing on the shoulders of giants from various walks of life, this forms the basis of the sociocultural post-national universalism I would like to humbly (re-)propose for the future social order of the coming centuries to come, which would be more properly outlined in future blog entries when Kairos paves the way.

Somehow I have also come to see that God is a presupposition we may not need to always name and talk about in order to be properly in touch with such reality and the social world. This is different from being silent about God and blocking its way to be present in our discourses. It is just that being in touch with God (and as such following Christ’s way of opening towards the others to let them be and at the same time let ourselves be) is after all an existential-sensational activity, precognitive and prelinguistic, thus requiring an attitude of presuming rather than outwardly expressing its presence. It is not Being with a big B but however or whoever that allows us to be, who must be personified and personalized in order to be perceived as God as characterized above. So God’s role as a giver would have to be better assumed than named as a person all the time. This is similar to the case that when I am studying Near Eastern archaeology in Israel, I assume but not name the presence of my parents and friends in Hong Kong as psychological supporters. In addition, it is in the final sensational mode of being where one can be fully saved (employing the terminologies of Christianity — as a follower of Christ or of Christ’s way of letting be, thus becoming fully Christ-like as a Christian in the resurrection of the body). This mode of being is usually filled with sufficient motivation in need for future existential movement out of which propositional attitudes, like thoughts, ideas and feelings of more structured forms, are expressed. The whole is ontologically and personal-historically put prior to the parts thereof, more technically speaking, in a sense that the essence of the self as a whole cannot properly be conceived by observers without witnessing how the self acts as a whole. The consequence of having the others’ attention attracted by and centred on the self’s action instead of merely speech is a usual (but still contingent) indicator of the self being in this mode objectively.

Moreover, I am gaining more awareness of an anthropology I can internalize and own, resourced from the encounters I have with my own body, aka the physiobiological. The body has long been seen as the root or the embodiment of fallenness or sinfulness in dualistic ethical theology, characteristically historically upheld by Manichean Gnosticism. This attitude deserves more than a few laughs, for it in one form or another penetrates our quotidian thoughts. There is no necessary linkage between the body, that is, the physiobiological self conceptually extracted from experiences in the sensational union of the self and the others, and any kind of sinfulness or badness. The body is good “in the Lord’s eyes”, not only because it is part of the initial creation out of the unconditional giving (which in Christianity it is understood as love), but also because it is the necessary condition of being and becoming human in restoration. To my best conclusion from my experience, the human condition is a mixture of good and bad, with the good being our sensed naturalness when we are on a sensational level (e.g. the feeling that our oceans are naturally beautiful without water contamination), our strive for becoming better and our sense of fulfilment on the way and at the end of such betterment. The bad side is perceived sometimes as missing the target of such perfection or ideal and at other times as being prone to making mistakes willingly (e.g. committing crimes) and unwillingly (e.g. perpetuating uninformed lies) in terms of self-determined or normative immorality or illegality/unlawfulness. The issue here is to decide which comes first between the good and the bad side in order to answer the question of where we are going, translating the factual and ethical question of human condition into a causal-temporal one. It suffices to say that the good would have to come first ethically, ontically and epistemically as the normalcy because what is bad is always something unwanted at all times. This constancy of the postponing emergence of the bad includes its metaphysical and historical point of entry, so a bad cannot come before a good has already been present so it can linger on and stand in contrast to it. The body, as what is initially given (both biologically and culturally), causal-temporally speaking, must therefore be regarded as having the possibility of being good and embraceable. Further, the actuality of it being good is related to its being in action on the sensational levels. The embraceable body can be found and can only be found in sensational union with the others. As a consequence, de-sensationalized individualistic treatments of the body (e.g. eating pizzas during formal workplace meetings when the sensation requires the self and the others in it to be of formality) would bring nihilistic sense of emptiness to the embodied self at the end (e.g. through the route of the others — the self being fired afterwards and — through the route of the self — the self being psychologically punished by the awkward gazes and subsequent distancing of the others.) When it comes to privacy, the privacy of the body can be preserved just if the abovementioned state of justice (where everything in reality or a part thereof is in their respective place) will be achieved through it. For instance, I am not going to be naked on the streets given an appropriate conservatism in modern public sociocultural settings.

With the reasonable justification of the privacy and the body of the self outlined in relation to reality identifiable as God to us (which include Christians and non-Christians, of course), the self is liberated from being identified by dualistic philosophies and theologies as fallen but is seen as the centre of existential operation cognitively distinguishable and perceptually distinctive from the others such that the self can achieve its own proper place in reality, achieving justice after all. And if God as identified is an inevitable assumption of our being in the world, maybe we should then talk more about ourselves and the others like this than directly about our God.

(Addition on 13 Apr 2018: I said I did not possess a self in the above paragraphs, but more recently I discovered that I have had a self unconstrained in the first sensational mode of being in my childhood. Quite probably, I spoke in English in British accent then.)

Started writing on 11 Apr 2018 at 18:54 and finished writing on 13 Apr 2018 at 18:33. Edited last on 4 May 2018 at 15:28.

On the Future of the Hong Kong Way of Being Chinese, with Notes on Macau and Taiwan 背靠中國,暫論香港前境:本是同根生,還是道異不相謀?

FeaturedOn the Future of the Hong Kong Way of Being Chinese, with Notes on Macau and Taiwan 背靠中國,暫論香港前境:本是同根生,還是道異不相謀?

If the one-party rule in China is eventually politically and legally binding, then there is more reason to think that the Chinese government does not want Hong Kong people to be and become Chinese in a Hong Kong way, and thus this will give much more justification for the possible sociopolitical, if not economical, self-determination or even independence of Hong Kong people, generating more and more momentum for such a movement.

It becomes less and less manageable for the Communist Party of China to homogenize the sociocultural consciousnesses of the Chinese population based on one single sociopolitical entity called “the People’s Republic of China”, especially after a series of voices for independence following the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, from a perspective of a HongKonger. Since the Chinese government dominated by the Communist Party does not treat the Hong Kong people embodying liberal-nationalistic consciousness as part of the Chinese renmin or people, the Chinese government would become the main motivator for Hong Kong (or a part thereof) as conceived in its liberal-democratic histo-political and sociocultural character to gain its own independence however possible. As the US had a global-right turn towards the Chinese left, Hong Kong is shifting global-left away from its cultural motherland, because the Chinese renmin or people, having its consciousness dominated by the Party’s ideological endeavour, wants to push other non-renmin Chinese to its own way, from which the Hong Kong people largely shaped by the British colonial nationalistic consciousness in their youth approaching cognitive maturity would want to turn away. Of course, broadly speaking, we all are nationalistic in some ways or another, and not a single sociopolitical entity now is inheriting the premodern, non-nationalistic Chinese civilization, but then before post-nationalistic universalism can find its own way through our minds, the Chinese peoples would have to self-determine their own ways of being nations/peoples. As far as we all agree, the Hong Kong way is essentializable and distinguishable from the Taiwanese way and the Mainland ways, it might be high time one cut sociopolitical ties with one another without trading off economic inter- (but not intra-) dependence. Part of the population from Macau would then have to join our forces or develop their own ways of sociocultural existence, as the Taiwan people has been doing for decades.

Sometimes I would see that nationhood is sometimes tied to generational factors and thus histo-developmental factors of the people living in more-or-less the same territory. For example, more of the older generations in Hong Kong cannot abandon the treasured peace brought by a pro-establishment political stance in practice, so with such developmental discrepancies in the growth and development of a people, they would divert with the younger generations having experiences of the Umbrella Movement in their national consciousness. Should we then leave our grandparents and parents in our families for our nationhood? Not repeating the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution in modern Chinese history and some Middle Eastern nations, I don’t think so, so nationalism is ultimately not our way of sociocultural existence. We must turn to universalism for a future.

Finished writing at 15:21 on 18 Mar 2018, posted on the same date as a Facebook post.

Towards a 2010s Zeitgeist: K-pop, ISIS Terrorism, Chinese Monarchy and An Escape Plan 一窺一零年代的時代精神:現代末路上如何跳海逃生

FeaturedTowards a 2010s Zeitgeist: K-pop, ISIS Terrorism, Chinese Monarchy and An Escape Plan 一窺一零年代的時代精神:現代末路上如何跳海逃生

I guess you may realize that recently I am publishing a lot of blog entries. Yes, it is now open season for Tommy, because if I don’t open my idea bank for others’ examinations now at my twenties, more-or-less the golden age of self-actualization attempts, I will be missing something quintessential. I plan to still write about philosophical topics in the coming year or two, but more extensively than before such that topics I did not gave myself up to like gender and sexuality, history and time, politics and law, science and medicine etc. will be explored and treated for the advancement of a developing reality theory I have preliminarily wrote about in my website. I am also starting to identify some key problematics hugely influential in my intellectual and experiential lives. Why the public should be interested in them? Because we have the same set of questions to ask, and holding hands to respond to them is not a bad idea at all. This can lead you to some scary uncharted territories, but don’t be afraid. This is yet, after all, part of our reality.

29 Dec 2017

This is an article consisting of a collection of paragraphs on the various dimensions making up our 2010s zeitgeist, which is still a manifestation of a 500-year-old nationalistic consciousness originated from England after the Wars of the Roses in the late 15th century CE but spread and transformed from Western Europe to all over the globe, bringing about a globalized phenomenon of nationalism. (So globalization does not replace but primarily spreads nationalism.) This consciousness might have its root in the ancient Near Eastern context, but that would be another story. Here it would be enough when we understand that nationalism has brought to us everything we conceive as modern, historically necessarily including the social order of our times, as we are still in such modernity (where the so-called “post-modernity” is only a reactive cultural current since 1960s). Therefore, a discussion of our zeitgeist in relation to nationalistic consciousness is necessitated. Here are some of the puzzle pieces of our 2010s, for now.

[On Kpop/Hallyu (31 Dec 2017)]

In response to this post on the K-pop madness, finally someone is brave enough to say it out loud. K-pop culture, like other modern fandom, is to me a constant strife between dis-ease and ease caused by national/popular (i.e. of people) consciousness or some kind of mass cultic/religious consciousness. (By the way, every culture is by nature about process, symbol and consciousness.) I am not saying that it is diabolical by nature, but it is certainly a phenomenon akin to and perhaps also produced by nationalism globalized. I enjoyed G-Dragon’s K-pop sector and did some anthropological (and ethnographical) reflections on it from an emic perspective. Share later if Kairos allows.

P.S. Written with inspiration from this article.

[On Acting (10 Jan 2018)]

The worst (or best) thing to happen on actors and actresses is not being able to de-role or choosing not to de-role off stage after taking up a role on stage. This can seriously f**k up the distinction of reality and representation in a really really enormous way. (I mean it.) But for better or for worse, it is happening: Life is sometimes seen as a performance. And it does not matter whether we are us or someone else, because that someone else we chose to be would be part of us. In this way, Baudrillard is back. Hyperreality is back. So sad.

P.S. Written with inspiration from this article.

[On My My My! and Troye Sivan (11 Jan 2018)]

I seldom reflect on songs, but this song has really done something to me uniquely. My first impression after listening this song was more of disappointment than excitement. I did not find the answers I was looking for, and I was not fine with the arrangement and the melody. But when the lyrics and Troye’s interview taking about this song were presented to me, they became the point of entry for my changing of perspective. I might not like the song, but it appears to me as existentially relevant to me, that is, as if I need it to deconstruct my charade and in a positive way force myself out of my comfort zone, which I hate but I know I need. Ultimately, I don’t know, as I can’t at this point of time discern, what is the thing to do or the right thing to do. But this song tells me I should keep trying and trying for the sake of self-confidence with reference to our reality.

Troye is in this sense (and probably in this sense only, for now) always seen as a key inspiration of mine.

[A Developing Thought on the Difference between Peoples and Disciples and the Way After Modernity and Postmodernity (28 Jan 2018)]

Modernity fundamentally operates on the idea and reality of people, but Jesus’ contemporaneity has a different operative principle. Whereas peoples retain and exist on their own wills (a notable example would be the American people), disciples (willingly and in a self-determining way, thus rational, to use some modern concepts) follow an external person/people and treat that person/people as the necessary condition for retaining and existing as themselves such that they are fundamentally a people. As far as I know, only Christianity (in its way of letting-be for the purpose of being) ahistorically holds the fittest key to explain the way how all religious and/or political systems which has existed in the world of idea-driven reality can work. This explanation, by its essential people as Jesus Christ, can only be realized and embodied as understood by one’s action of following the people Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to point to and move towards Jesus Christ no matter initially how distant one is from him. All other religious and/or political institutions have had their vital contributions to the making of our sociocultural order of modernity, but not historically necessarily our existential order of contemporaneity. This existential contemporaneity is externality internalized, as such revealed gradually with the institutionalization of Christianity from its contraposition with the other candidates, giving way for the existence, persistence, progression and evolution of things as a thing and of a thing as things. Universalism, the Pauline and Christian way by which we see ourselves as disciples of an external but internalized universal people more than as peoples, is in this sense our best alternative sociocultural and political order after modernity (which has been caused by nationalism and has developed into globalized nationalism with a cultural current of postmodernity forever postponing an accurate understanding of our own history).

P.S. Written with inspiration from this post.

[On Chinese Nationalism and Our Future (11 Mar 2018)]

The Chinese President Xi can now stay in his his position until he dies. Simply, lifetime presidency if he wants. Read this news report for more.

There is a fundamental existential problem in nationhood, liberal and authoritarian alike, which is basically connected back to representation. Everyone knows that representative democracy is oligarchy, but we would like to use the former word because it sounds lovely. Everyone knows China is not a republic, but we still call it People’s Republic of China. According to the PRC, since I am not represented, I am not a part of the Chinese people. More of the Hongkongers are forcing their modern Chinese national identities away due to how they are not treated as part of the people by the modern Chinese government. But when you ask how Chinese this government is without using Chinese as a designator for nationhood or ethnicity but only for a collective cultural tradition, the Communist Party is even less Chinese than it is modern-German or modern-Russian. But by the way, I must say that I am not modern, because I do not believe that nationalism is a workable operative logic of the social order, despite that most of the West and the East still hold onto that belief. Right now what I am doing is vastly distinctly different. To resist the force of Greenfeldian globalized nationalism, one has to rediscover the Yahwistic and Pauline root of universalism and adopt it and adapt it to our own times. Nationalism has given us modern democracy (or democracy as the mass understand it, as government for, of and by the people), capitalism, modern science, some psychological mental disorder identifiable as madness and love as understood by the mass today, and I acknowledge its contributions, but I would like to see a different future. Robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and the space age is just the technological logic of our contemporary times, irreplaceable when it comes to how we exist, but we need a sociocultural one to allow our self-determination, and to my best knowledge, it can only be found in universalism emphasizing the making of the self in terms of the other and the state of difference-in-sameness we are going to achieve. Read Spinoza, Levinas, Hegel, Heidegger, Barth, Greenfeld, the Pauline letters and Zhuangzi for more.

P.S. Written with inspiration from this news report.

[On the Psychology of Terrorism (12 Mar 2018)]

I cannot understand why some people cannot comprehend the psychology of so-called radical but actually psychologically normal people with whom we of course radically disagree with. ISIS terrorism is as understandable as the Trump phenomenon, the contemporary Chinese monarchy and Nazism. Everyone initially started in their normalcy connectable with the sociocultural sphere of at least some part of the world which we are familiar with or at least can symbolically imagine or intuit, yet it would just be that, developmentally speaking, they were chosen and, more importantly, chose a road vastly different than ours, thus exhibiting radical behaviour. I can perfectly imagine a scenario where I would end up in a similarly radical situation but I choose differently than them, just because I am sufficiently self-determined to not be behaviourally radical even when there is no existential time and space to make my decision. (But of course there is no ultimate guarantee that I will not end up killing someone. Just that it would be unlikely to happen.) Regular philosophizing in search of a reflective equilibrium of course helps, but one has to be faithful to the conclusions of such philosophizing so that they are internalized and become one’s motives for action. Ultimately we should remember that terrorists are just one of us, and we are just one of them. Because though some of us are clinically abnormal (with no ultimate ethical-aesthetical justification, I am sorry to say), we all are existentially normal, normally problematic and problematically existing. This is not our human nature, but sadly is our non-optimal human condition.

P.S. Written with inspiration from this video interviewing a German who has left his country for the Islamic State.

[On a new Platonism: Towards a 2010s Cultural Phenomenology/Zeitgeist (13 Mar 2018)]

Suddenly I feel like I have discovered the secret of our time. In this historical period, our Platonic perfection, or more precisely, the root of our very being at the height of every life aspect, is to be found online, at a very visual imagination realizable only with computer technology. Vivid colours, fashionable tightness and fitness of the body and the background, their integration with our biological senses and, if Baudrillard is right, the on-screen exaggeration of our quotidian reality which elementarily triggers sexuality of all kinds and in all manifestations. Here. For the first time, I feel like I am speaking a voice from my innermost self with the 2010s zeitgeist: This is the Reality (with a big “R”) we count on. We are saved moment by moment because we have K-pop, we have colours and the rainbow flag and we have youth (listen to the song “Youth”!). In the eternally past, irretrievable yesterday, they had simple relationship ties safeguarded by marriage and family units, agreed hidden rules and community bonds, and cultic-religious performance and worldview package. But the problematic of 2010s has gradually replaced this old salvific way. Still, relationship must be special enough to be worth striving for, so daily sex party will be eventually thought to be destructive to humanity however sexually liberal we become. What is special and only partially accessible in our time is our own perfect representation of ourselves (which could have been morphed to otherselves through deliberate cultural imitation) which we imagine. Out of social media, we are hungry and we eat cup noodles so fast that we cannot digest it properly biologically. But we don’t care, as long as the New Biology and the New Spirituality from the Net guarantees our future, re-creates and directly sustains our existence. This is my Tommyean Post-modern Manifesto (or if not, what?). And believe me, you have no way to deny this. Because your own being under your interpretation is the evidence. Welcome to our new DNA! Welcome to the New Platonism! Welcome to our netizen future!

P.S. Written with inspiration from BTS’s song DNA.

Epilogue: Like I said before, universalism would be our best shot for founding our escape plan. But this escape plan is escaping at face value only. Going deeper, one sees that standing face-to-face with this 2010s zeitgeist is the sole way to confront and lead its way to universalism.

Next Station: I am a student of philosophy and archaeology. I sometimes think that I know not enough of historical and archaeological knowledge to even comment on archaeology. But I have a universal tool of analysis: philosophy with logic. Plus a universal means of experience: sensation with intuitions sufficient for phenomenological endeavours. Concepts like time and history were difficult for me to scrutinise, but I am about to crack the code. The task is almost complete. I just need to plan how to make it known to a wider audience. Starting to get impatient because there is no one to talk directly to in this foreign land, but here is also Wonderland where we are to feel at home. If not, we could always excavate deeper into the dreams of our reality. See you there then. So, my next project would be to trace our civlizational root, to pinpoint our present and to offer a concrete version of such escape plan towards our future. And since after detailing it, I will not be escaping, we better not call it an escape plan then. For it will be a plan to trek towards a truly post-modern era away from our modern nationalism, may it be called post-modern universalism, the zeitgeist for the future generations to come!

Compiled Comments on Contemporary Continental Philosophy 當代歐陸哲學:小評大集薈

FeaturedCompiled Comments on Contemporary Continental Philosophy 當代歐陸哲學:小評大集薈

Contemporary Continental Philosophy (當代歐陸哲學) is a philosophical school or a set of philosophical schools since 19th century which, as I interpret how Michael Rosen’s essay, “Continental Philosophy from Hegel”, characterizes it, (i) in contrast to non-contemporary continental philosophy, is more metaphilosophical (i.e. concerning more the nature and method of philosophy) and more historicist (i.e. concerning more the historical background and context from which philosophical problems and questions are generated), (ii) in contrast to contemporary non-continental (i.e. analytic) philosophy, is more pre-theoretical (i.e. concerning more on how the problems are presuppositionlessly based on how reality is present to us) and more observer-sensitive (i.e. being more sensitive about the subjective role of the philosophizing observer). The philosophical schools involved are usually (or as Wikipedia tells us) “German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism”.

I know in some sense very little about Continental philosophy, but I find it extremely interesting and myself at least capable of commenting it and contributing to my own thoughts by doing so, because I see that it is a very fruitful resource bank from which I can draw resources to complete the first draft of my reality theory. Please choose your own topic(s) of interest below to start reading.

[A Response to Markus Gabriel’s Naïve Realism; for my reference for my future research (3 December 2016)]

I can’t help but say to myself that I have a response to it and claim that even if to exist is to be in a field of sense or a context, it does not preclude a real cohesion that different fields of sense can communicate with each other in a collective, intersubjective (or human-beings-relative-objective) coherentist picture, on which (roughly, with reference to a topography in the Kantian taxonomic spirit) (1) descriptively semiotically, translation and universal language, (2) normatively, means-end relata and hypothetical universal moral grammar, and (3) sensationally aesthetically, passively withdrawing Hegelian superseding hope are based; to which (1), (2) and (3) are coextensively referring. This is reality per se best characterized as personal, as I have been arguing the whole time.
P.S. on 13 December 2016: Markus Gabriel is strictly speaking not usually categorized as a continental philosopher, but my thoughts on his ideas helped my own Continental-philosophical world-building.

[On Marilyn McCord Adams, the Theologian (4 December 2016)]

Marilyn McCord Adams, as a theologian, writes very good theological works. Her treatises are not only clear against an analytic-philosophical standard, but also wonderful according to a Continental-philosophical (i.e. world-system-building) criterion of comprehensiveness. After all, being clear is and should not be the only achieved ends of a written piece, because without also being unique, being emotionally stirring, being setting-free, being intellectually original, being sensational-aesthetically praise-worthy etc., it is but a dull piece, not sufficient to be a good one that counts to be some masterpiece of a time period. Sometimes being dull can also help achieve the end of exhibiting the meaninglessness of a certain part of a certain kind of human existence, but well sometimes they don’t.
P.S. on 13 December 2016: Marilyn McCord Adams is strictly speaking not usually categorized as a continental philosopher, but my thoughts on his ideas helped my own Continental-philosophical world-building.

[On #ContinentalPhilosophy: Post-Structuralism, Existentialism and Beyond (4 December 2016)]

I remember how I was unconsciously advancing a form-as-structure-type structuralist project to unravel the fundamental structural anatomy of the ways of human existence (aka “the elements of life”) in my last years in secondary school, but recently when I reflected on what I was doing then, I discovered the way I constructed all these can be connected to how the people at our time construct our societal lives. Put in Derrida’s thought, it is possible that the centre of the structure we discover be shifted by us as where the centre locates is arbitrary. Taking diachrony into consideration, the semiotic reality is an open system, as the biological-evolutionary reality is, in which the centre of the structural arrangement can shift over time, just as for Liah Greenfeld, the social order can transform. I would tend to response to the post-structural thinkers by saying that there is a limited foreseeable permutations for what the structure or the centre(s) in the structure could ever be, but it is of course relative to our and our current understanding of the universal. This is the best we can get about reality. My best take on the sole vehicle-like (i.e. being able to carry other properties) qualitative (meta-)property of reality is of course its being personal. I see it as the only objective and/or intersubjective structure (i) that, like other systems (or Derrida’s texts), can be deconstructed but even after deconstruction, its human-relative epistemologically premodial mode of being will still be at all times present to us as reality per se (or if not per se, at least it is “reality” as the word maximally connotes); (ii) that can determine us and determine that we, on our own rights, can have Sartrean absolute freedom, our freedom absolute relative to reality’s freedom absolute as we constitute a part-whole relation with it, which is the point I now believe Sartre misses so he concludes that there is no God of the Christian conception. Anyway, in the article, Eduardo Kohn’s intermediate conclusion seems to point to the fact that reality (again, perhaps per se) is personal, as present to us as we are in contact even with non-living things in nature. I believe that there are good substantive reasons to advance the Continental lines of thought in this way which identifies that personhood times personality, which is our best take on universality and the rest is movable.

[On Methodology (7 December 2016)]

Continental philosophy mostly is perhaps about how one does philosophy and perhaps also other kinds of enquiries and their consequences (and in this sense qualifies as consisting of philosophical methodologies). I finally understand that it is not *only* by defining some terms clearly out of void and see whether it matches our intuition most or make the best sense relative to what we think we already know that we can be in a good epistemic relationship with reality or nature or what the world really is. Although it is useful and perhaps necessary at some point of time of enquiry, but the key is to first and foremost acknowledge that we are not to *grasp* reality in order to control or alter it (It is the dead-end of all enquiries and truth in the original and Heideggerian sense: “ἀλήθεια”/”unconcealedness”/”removing that which conceals and let reality present itself”, sometimes also present in the an institutional form), but to respect the sovereignty of reality and nature (Note: not necessarily a personal reality if it is not believed to be like that). How to respect it? No matter which discipline one is pursuing, allow nature or reality to present itself to the observers of phenomena. Try not to quickly define it; try to put aside all disciplinary propositional knowledge one possesses and perceive its presentation to us; then, use one’s language to describe it before consciously employing the terms one has learnt and invented unless it has already been wholeheartedly accepted and internalized and was not invented out of the void regardless of the sovereignty of reality or nature.

[On The Young Pope (8 December 2016)]

This TV series is the single most thought-provoking series I have ever watched. Some may say it is anti-Catholic to the greatest extent, but I say differently: It is an example of a blasphemy to “the Holy Spirit” which Christians must do in order to faith God the non-existent but the present and to receive and achieve salvation. The Pope is, for the very first time, a sinful human, as papal fallibility echoes how Christ can suffer and be a human. It reminds us that Christianity is as exclusive as it can be (such that religious pluralism and universal salvation cannot be our human ideal), but it is also as directly linked to universal values as we every human cherish them to the utmost. If we are not the mortally sinful but truthful saints who have genuinely internalized the good and right things we preach but are the so-called normal Christians who perhaps just say I am a Christian and sometimes help people and care about the sick and the poor, we are not going to enter the heavenly realm through the narrow gate, because there is no faith without internalization of the belief in God and its consequences. Through this I am once again renewed. A revolution to turn back to the right path begins from the death of the philosophical God. The God of the philosophers, especially the scientistic-dogmatic one, is dead in modern times, because it is an incomplete concept, at most only allowing a tiny part of God to be identified. Although that God is dead, philosophers love to throw and play with His corpse in front of the public in order to advance their own God-unrelated personal interests. Btw, (this time without the quotation marks) this can truly be a blasphemy to the Holy Spirit, leading to eternal damnation as someone may use it as a way to prove a point and reorganize society according to it. The God of the people (including philosophers), as a present personal being, with coexistent modes of being, the primordial, the expressive and the unitive, is but revolutionarily ever-present, however He is named. And in these ways, the TV series, The Young Pope, becomes one of my muses to maintain a good relationship with reality. And it is good that I am challenged once again.

[On God of the Philosophers (9 December 2016)]

If an individual can grasp completely who God is, there is no need to faith God, and this pure philosophical concept of God is thus a being inferior to us. I never know who my parents really are. I bet no one would know unless they become your friend or your object. In that case, they are not superior as parents per se anymore. Parents are just pure names then.

[On Nietzsche and Christianity, Übermensch/Superman and the Holy Spirit (9 December 2016)]

If we are to (solely) learn to be like Jesus, as Christians may say, does that mean we are to embody or internalize God’s ethics and morality such that we become Nietzschean Übermensch/Superman. I suspect the difference is that Christians may say what is internal to us is the Holy Spirit, the Other in a sense embodied by us, but I don’t see why we have to carve up reality in this way. Maybe it is because the recognition of the sovereignty of the ultimately good persona (who is a being and therefore has the three coexistent modes of being: the premodial, the expressive and the unitive) is internal to the Christian tradition such that if one groups it differently like Nietzsche did one cannot be a Christian anymore? I can see that ultimate pantheism and ultimate polytheism is untenable. (See my articles in the Notes section.) But why is the Christian way of ontological classification superior or more accurate than the Nietzchean classification? In what way persona as the focal point of understanding reality can answer my question? I suspect that there is more to the story, and I am going to find that out.
P.S. And of course, I believe I disagree with Nietzsche in that I believe if one must see that the motive of existence is will to power, then the values in slave morality, even after the revaluation of values, can still be a demonstration of power. Modern people has to be reminded that compassion is the (new) power initiated by Jesus Christ and his followers in their revolution to introduce a living morality different from (Greek) ethics.

[On “World-Bringing” (9 December 2016)]

Watching “My Dinner with Andre” makes me feel the intensity of “world-bringing”. In our contemporary era, we always talk to each other. This is not some special and it happened in premodern times when the social structure was so stable and fixed without much social mobility so that what people chatted about was largely anticipatable. Nowadays, when we talk to one another, we are engaging in an activity I call “world-bringing”, a phenomenon type emerged in our mind during my Performing Arts exam (and so I’ve written about it). When we perform, we bring our life-stories into the stage of our life, and if expression is coextensive with performance, then our quotidian performances as our expressive presentations of our selves are the very bringing-out of our life-story. World-bringing happens when Andre talks to Wallace about his story, as he brings his world unanticipatable from Wallace’s perspective without Andre’s presentation to the dinner table and lets Andre observes, experiences and understands (or in total, relates to) it. World-bringing only happens when the other party cannot anticipate and thus in this way cannot comprehend or contemplate what a party has been or was going through. It therefore happens only in modern times when social stratification and specialization separates us such that we are not living in the same world anymore. It is a factor contributing to loneliness, anomie and nihilistic tendencies of moderners. It is a concept usable in disciplines like performance studies, communication studies, studies of modernity and relationship studies.

[On Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism (10 December 2016)]

What we conclude is often what the universal appears to us from our perspective and in our context. What we need to do then is not to perpetuate a doctrine of cultural relativism. Nor should we be ethnocentric or epistemo-centric and claim that we know better than others about things seen from their perspective. What we should do is to understand the limits of our context and understand the context of the other parties that we are trying to understand and their personal experience and contemplated conclusions from their perspective and so that our perspective, upon absorbing other perspectives previous other to us, can expand. A way to do this is to use the other parties’ cultural-symbolic resources to try to communicate with them our own equivalent thoughts in their terms or by the creative imagination rooted from their terms. In this way, cross-context communication is possible. Simple terms, difficult but necessary task.

Finished compiling at 15:43 on 13 December 2016. Last edited at 19:17 on 28 December 2017.