dangerous and moving

Amities dot net is the online shoebox of memories, thoughts, aspirations, etc., a digital manifestation of Juan Quiles. The site has been online since December 16 1997; through these eight years, the site has suffered an infinite amount of change or progress.

Caption: Changing, growing but always returning to the basics since 1997.

Juan Quiles, or should I say Mr. Quiles (Key-less), is a student at St. John’s College (stjohnscollege.edu), a single college with two campuses according to the College. Personally I like to think of the relation between the Annapolis and Santa Fe campuses as that between Corinth and Corcyra (see Thucydides); for a less archaic and more modern allegory, I will refer to the relation between East Pakistan, modern day Bangladesh, and West Pakistan, modern day Pakistan, pre-1971, purportedly a single nation with two separated territories. Currently, Mr. Quiles is a student at the Annapolis campus (sjca.edu1), though he started at the Santa Fe campus (sjcsf.edu2). Hopefully, the College will be spared a bloody struggle for independence.

Mr. Quiles is a student of philosophy and maths and everything in between. When asked to describe St. John’s College, he will immediately respond: “It’s high school but with cigarettes.” Even though he studies the aforementioned subjects, Mr. Quiles has a passion for history and linguistics. Unfortunately, the College does not have any idea of what rôle the former should play in its curriculum. Also, Mr. Quiles does not smoke.

Though Mr. Quiles has a penchant for history, currently he finds himself struggling to reconcile this passion with Humanism. To be precise, historicism seems to conflict with one of the principle tenets of Humanism, i.e., that man is the measure of all things. Humanism, because of the rôle it conceives for man, makes him responsible for his own life, which is contrary to theistic systems that through a putative concept of free will (though he prefers the term liberty) seem to make man responsible, cleverly free man from responsibility through the predication of a Higher Being and destiny. Now, historicism though it does not call for the existence of a Deity, produces the sense of destiny in the sense that ostensibly history repeats itself. If anyone can help resolve this conundrum, please contact Mr. Quiles!

Mr. Quiles is not a typical Johnnie, i.e., a student at St. John’s College, at least he likes to think so. Sure, he likes to chew the cud, but he has a desdain for poseur intellectuals or cargo cult intellectualism.

Caption: Music: the opiate of choice, stupefies the senses and exalts the self to sublime levity.

This native of the San Franciso Bay Area is characterized by his terse responses, despondent demeanor, fast walking pace, green rubber bands on his left arm and random febrile attacks of giggles, which are prone to intensify if he drinks wine. Into the mix one can also throw in the white iPod headphones. The arts of driving as well as friendly and superfluous chitchat are foreign to him. When asked, “Why don’t you drive?” he shrugs and after looking pensively at nothing in the distance, says something to the effect of: “I’m from the city. We’ve got a subway and light rail, a bus and ferry system; even cable cars!” He would rather walk or ride his bicycle.

As a child, he had a fascination with the pantheon of Greek gods, from wile-weaving Zeus to the sexually-charged Aphrodite. Oddly enough, it was to be this superstition or mythology that would set him upon the path to rationality, to humanism and ultimately atheism. This catalyst was to come about after one day he found himself asking, “What is the difference between mythology and religion?” The question arose from a genuine confusion and not malice. The answer he was given was not acceptable. So began the internal questioning. Apparently one was fictional, a set of stories told and transmitted verbally before finally being written down. The other was a real theistic system, whose validity was predicated on the fact that it was the word of God.

Today, he realizes that to ask about the difference between religion and mythology is tantamount to asking about the difference between language and dialect. They are mere conventionalisms, distinctions established by those in power because these, i.e., differentiations or definitions, help further the political and economic gains of these, i.e., groups or people in power.

Sure, it may seem that one of his aims is to establish the conventionalism of almost everything that forms the lofty and sublime edifice of human society … er … actually, it is true; there are no ifs or buts about it. Morality and mores are not God-inspired nor God-given; they are not static and eternal but rather, evolving and dynamic, e.g., women are now considered slightly better than property! God is a catchword for man’s ignorance. Yet ignorance is no excuse for limiting understanding. Hence, he is opposed to theistic systems that spoon-feed humanity with ready-made answers, to wit, they say to man: “Don’t hurt your pretty, little head. Don’t waste your time thinking about these things. Here is the only and right answer.” No. Unacceptable. Mr. Quiles believes that he is as qualified to reason as much as roving-genocide-committing-tribes in the desert, uneducated fishermen that have nothing to lose and feel apt to understanding the sublime questions that once afflicted Greek thought, or the mortal chosen by God to clarify His Word and who fantastically was able to convince Him to change His mind, i.e., concerning how many times man ought to pray! Amazing! One would have thought that God was the Unchanging. One would also think that God, being the Almighty and the All-Knowing, would have realized that man would have ultimately confounded His Word! But of course these things are too sublime for Mr. Quiles’ understanding!

Caption: There is a world of light and truth outside the cave, a world that is not composed of shadows and reflexions; don’t be scared.

Now, you the reader must be either repulsed or drawn to this piquant criticism of religion. Yes, his atheism springs forth not from a desire to criticize nor because it is the hottest thing since the last iProduct, i.e., the iPod, but because he genuinely is disgusted by any system that does not permit man to think for himself!

So if there is no God and everything is mere conventionalism, then there is no point to life, there is no point to living! Not so fast. Simply put, Mr. Quiles is not saying that everything is therefore arbitrary. No, not at all. All these things, of which man is the supreme artifice, are not irrelevant but really important. If we accept their origin, their importance to us and their changingness, then we shall be able to advance – to develop. Because we are unable to release ourselves from the trappings of God-given and eternal-like qualities that our values possess, we are not able to unleash our full potential; thus after 5 thousand years of human history, women are no better than second-class citizens, a byproduct of the whim of a masculate God, something produced for man from his own rib and worse, probably from his left rib. How sinister.

Of course this iconoclast’s mind is as vulnerable to the force of the traditional as the next human being, preferring Plato and Aristotle to any of the modern philosophers, but it is always with the knowledge that traditions are artificial and their authority is drawn from their age and the effect time has on the mind of man. Then again, though he places Plato and Aristotle on high pedestals, he realizes that though they were endowed with the genius for greatness, they were also at the right place and at the right time. Though this recognition may detract from their greatness, it is the truth. Some beings that are great are sometimes born in times that are so utterly decadent that their greatness is not allowed to make itself known; one need only look at history!

1 Link was originally http://www.sjca.edu but is no longer available, 4 July 2023.

2 Link was originally http://sjcsf.edu but is no longer available, 4 July 2023.