ruminations: du sublime au ridicule, il n\’y a pas qu\’un pas

Before I begin this, which seemingly ought to be a long manifestation of free thought, as is typical to a positive spirit’s mind when unfettered (I am struggling to establish the point of distinction between a free spirit and a positive spirit, for though they may synonymous, they are different words and thus are not entirely congruous).

1. Is nihilism commensurate with Buddhism, rather is Buddhism nihilism?

2. What is the difference between Humanism and Existentialism?

Both systems believe in the human spirit, in man’s potential; they are extremely optimistic systems that, echoing the pragmatic (non-theistic) axiom of Protagoras, place man as the measure of all things. Granted, Teutonic humanists differ from the Latin humanists; the former focusing on Man while the latter focus on God, the former seek truth and elucidation, the latter seek justification for their cause, i.e., God. It is my belief that the Teutonic version ought not be called Humanism for it is something altogether different. By redirecting the focus from man to God, the Teutons elminated the essence of Humanism: man.

3. Is God adverse to agriculture?

In the Bible (I must say that God is an amazing character in the Old Testament, one that I am ever fascinated by), God spurns Cain’s offerings, i.e., the fruit of the earth, while God had respect unto Abel’s offering, i.e., the firstlings of his flock. In effect the story of Cain and Abel is one of farmer vs. herdsman, and God prefers the latter.

4. If there are technically 9 Commandments, why does no-one correct the misconception of there being 10 Commandments?

5. Why is Islam not considered compatible with Europe, and for that matter, why is it not considered as being part of the Western world?

Islam appeared on the European scene in the 8th century in Iberia. I understand that by certain standards, Spain and Portugal are Third World (ouch!), with Catalunya being the exception even from Roman times. And when the Eastern Roman Empire finally succumbed to the Turks in 1453, Islam made its reappearance on the Old Continent; the Reconquista had practically eliminated Islam from the Peninsula before completing the liberation of Iberia in 1492 (on this same year was given the coup de grâce to all things foreign by the expulsion of the Jews). To those that wish to minimize the importance or threat of Islam to Europe, let’s not forget that the Turks reached the walls of Vienna!

Some would like to claim that Islam is not compatible with Western culture, but neither was Christianity until it was declawed. Islam is currently experiencing its own Middle Ages, i.e., dark ages, in due time, it will catch up allowing for a separation of Church and State (while we Judeo-Christians retograde on this magnificent accomplishment). If we exclude Islam from Western history, it will be none-too-soon before we exclude Judaism, after all, those that claim that Islam is not part of Europe, call Europe a Christian club (e.g., Stoiber), not a Judeo-Christian club.

6. Do Christians have more tolerance for people of other faiths than for their fellow Christians?


7. Are Jesuits Catholic?

8. Did Rome precipitate her downfall by utterly destroying (‘απόλλυμι – I absolutely love this word!) Carthage?

Likewise, it can be asked if America has precipitated her downfall by the elimination of the Soviet Union; competition is healthy to a certain degree unless one is of a Darwinian convinction and is ill-disposed to the notion of the concept of conpetition existing, after all, some organisms are better adapated than others, therefore they already have an advantage – competition is amongst equals.

Perhaps Cato (the Elder) was wrong in his almost monotonous and tedious cry at the end of his speeches: Delenda est Carthago. This patriot was unable to see the benefits of a humbled but not destroyed Carthage.

9. Can love be replaced with sweets and chocolate?

These are some of the questions that I have been pondering lately. I’m sure I could produce copious amounts of writing in attempting to explore each and everyone, but for now, I simply want to put them out. Some I have started to explore, others have simply been left as is.

Now unto the polenta (meat) of the matter. I am forever grateful for having had the opportunity to experience ancient Greek. I throw in my lot with all those great men who have said that of all languages, Greek is the most beautiful. But my favourite quote concerning Greek comes not from someone who praised it, but from someone who made an observation concerning it per se. Nietzsche makes the brilliant observation: It was subtle of God to learn Greek when he wished to become an author—and not to learn it better. Of course, he is making reference to the fact that the New Testament was written in κοινή, an aberration (perhaps a tad strong) of Greek, a Greek devoid of its beauty, of its complexity… of its essence! Perhaps, unfortunately, English will suffer the same fate of Greek as it becomes the lingua franca par excellence of the world. After all, as foreigners learn a language that is not natural per se to them, a degradation is inevitable, especially with a language like English where there are no accents to guide pronunciation. As a foreigner, I know this firsthand; one need only have me pronounce such words as ephemeral or tyranny.

Having translated both Attic Greek and κοινή, I understanad Nietzsche’s point all-too-well.

It is a shame I have not had the same opportunity with Latin, though fortunately, because of my heritage (are we to say that Latin Americans are inheritants as are modern Europeans of Latin culture?) and my affinity for Romance languages, I am able to understand many a thing in this language – which is devoid of the beauty of Greek though. But after all, Latin is a language of engineers, of simple folk, of warriors. Yet, Latin has its charm and after all, it is the fountainhead of my natural languages. I know that I am biased when it comes to Greek, but I cannot help but feel its sublimity; it’s an awesome language.

I must bring up an anecdote. Once, I was walking down El Camino Real by Standford when I said ‘la calor,’ now, being orthodox when it comes to Spanish, this mistake was simply unforgivable! My friend turned to me, ‘¿La calor?’ he asked me bewildered. I was confused, ‘Sí, la calor….’ ‘Juan, es el calor. No la calor. What! Then I realized why I had grown up believing warmth to be femmenine: my great-grandmother. Spanish was her second language (naturally since she was of peasant stock, Spanish being the language of the upper classes), in her maternal language calor is femmenine; naturally she would assume that amongst related languages, the gender of warmth would remain the same. She had failed to make mental notes, similar to the one that is forever etched in my brain that reminds me that it is la nube in Spanish while it is le nuage in French. Who knew. And from mi bisabuela I had erroneously learnt to say la calor. In the privacy of my mind, I always say la calor , and by Jove, it feels so goddamn good!

Now switching gears!