October 31, 2010

"The making of steel"

"The making of steel" was a Soviet Union communist fiction once very popular in China. Despite of its communist propaganda, the passion of the protagonist was striking. I watched the movie and read the book, love both of them, but never know there was a tv drama of it. Here is the theme song at the end of show which I am deeply moved:

"Red" songs

Many of Chinese folk art styles have been lost but some of them were preserved in early Communist music, especially during 50s, right after Red China was born. Lots of Chinese people hate those songs because of the lyrics are all so "red", but I somehow can separate the music from lyrics (I pay little attention to any lyrics when I listen to songs of all different style)

October 22, 2010

Quotes by Liu Xiaobo (3)

Plato. Luni marble, copy of the portrait made ...Image via Wikipedia

From chapter One of "Mist of metaphysics": Human wisdom covered by mist

When myths cannot solve human problems, we ask the nature; when nature fails to answer we turn to God (abstract myth); when God doesn't save us we again go back to the nature - our human nature, we question ourselves. p50
(by yunyi: so the path is: nature - God - human itself)

Logic, analysis, experiment, all of these are not the means to discover truth, but the means of proving truth. (true) Discovery lies in imagination and intuition, which characterized by sudden enlightenment. If logic is companied by mathematics, experience is companied by physics, the company of intuition is art. The highest achievement of human intelligence is not rational, but intuitional. p50

Irrational state is not a state of animal. The higher level of irrational state is the life in its full bloom. Without this state there is no creativity. ... Life starts with music and ends with music. p51

The development of ontology and methodology was companied by the development of evaluation of human to himself. Or in other words, this self evaluation works as a latent layer along the development of ontology and methodology. ... the disappointment of human toward himself is disillusioning of the myth that human creates for himself. ...

Totemism, worship to God, all by nature are the worship to human himself. ...the antagonistic relation between God and human is religionized relation among social classes of human society.

If during the time of Kant the attack man did for himself mainly aimed to reason, after Darwin the attack was/is emotional - it is not only the consciousness of the limitation of reason, but also emotional disappointment toward mankind itself. But, I still prefer a depravation caused by the courage of facing the truth, rather than a sublimation by avoidance. Pessimism is a great mentality, without it, we won't know even until today that we are just human, not God.

The development of western philosophy is a process from the mixture of human and God in classic Greek to the God only theology of middle age, and finally end to contemporary natural and humanist philosophy. ...Through this journey, philosophy changed from inquiry of origin, purpose and meaning of the universe to a much "less metaphysical" problems, such as the possibility of those inquiries; which methods we should follow in terms of logic; how to distinguish valid and false, right and wrong, etc.. In other words, philosophy changed from the study of nature itself to study of natural science. The center subject of philosophy changed from ontology to epistemology and methodology. If we look at this process from the perspective scientific truth, western philosophy went from absolute truth to relative truth, from the self-evident rational truth to empiristic truth. p55

Progress, is not a journey toward perfection, to summum bonum, but a never ending course of referring and comparison. p63

Skepticism and conviction are two opposite polar of life, there is no bridge in between. Skepticism is a dark ghost of western thought, gravedigger of metaphysics, it makes all attempt for ultimacy an illusional babble, shakes the roots of all massive philosophical systems. ...Conviction is a torch of human thought, backbone of human spirit, basis of metaphysics. It always gives meaning for human to live on this meaningless earth, gives light toward happiness at dead ends. It is this very skepticism continues to impact metaphysics; it is this very conviction makes metaphysics to continue. P68

In classical Greek myths, "Gods" were fabrication of imagination; in pre-Socrates school, "Gods" were fabrication of reason. Former is super-nature of "unnatural", later is super-nature of "natural". In terms of "super nature", both presented the same thing - metaphysical being. p68

When human experiences some sublime desire or emotion inside his/her life, but cannot land this desire to a substantial object, this desire or emotion becomes stronger, more insistent, and more mysterious. Thus human can only use spiritual creativities as substitutes for such desire, such as metaphysical being, religion Gods or aesthetic experience. This kind of experience toward "nothingness", "unknown", "ultimacy" or "eternity" is truly the summit of all human intellectual activities. p76

If human doesn't have art but only science, science will be plague of mankind. Because human has disposition of destruction and despotism, and if there were no restrictions, human will try his best to achieve this nature, and science is the best way to help him to succeed. Democracy and art are not only the companies of science, but the restriction to science, preventing it from being used by human's desire for power. p77

By metaphysics, human pursues a fixed form for universe, society and life; by religion, human pursues a eternal faith, trying to find a support and goal for life; by art, human pursues an instant satisfaction, and after that this instant becomes eternity because of its unrepeatable unique attribute. By art, human solely attempts to get close to life, and fulfill life itself. p78

The metaphysics of Plato is poetic and musical, the illusion of "Republic" did not prevent him from experience the tragedy of life. His dualism can be taken as contradictory of reason and aesthetism. Maybe Plato really reached his "eidos" by his fascination, but by such fascination, I found his "Republic" is falling. p78

Comparing with the Dionysius' euphoria experience which Greek tragedy conveys, classical greek metaphysics is aneamic, a coward moan made by a weak scholar, an avoidance to the tragedy of reality. p83

Mathematics is the soul of classical philosophy (just like physics is modern empirism and modern scientific philosophy). Primitive totem is not much different from metaphysical being in term of ontology. The difference between classical Greek philosophy and primitive totemism is: primitive man hold his piety to totem only emotionally, not methodologically and logically; metaphysics, on the other hand, with support of logic deduction (provided by mathematics), made human not only believe the existance of metaphysical being, but also with support of reason.

In spite of the importance of Greek philosophy in human history, in spite of its noble crown given by those scholars and philosophers, I personally believe, maybe naively or blindly, it is virtually a philosophical religion. All its meaning, value and mistakes are all about one fact: it was new born at the time, even if it's fragile but it's new and complete life form. Its imagination and confidence is overly impracticable, narcissist. It innocently and truthfully believed in itself, even though it resided (still resides) in mist. p90

October 21, 2010

Jack Bauer, a bloody "God of Justice"

Saving the World: Jack Bauer + Mister ScoochImage by K!T via Flickr

I have never been fond of any type of EXTREME patriotism, nor anti-terrorism, such as the TV show "24" conveys, but I had been enjoyed watching this show like nothing before. 8 seasons, 192 episodes total, I finally finished watching them with a feeling of emptiness. This is truly the best action show I ever watched, albeit I have not watched many.

Living in chronic health condition and often feel inadequate for simple tasks, I found it perfectly meaningful to indulge myself into all those impossible missions and surreal heroes.
The show is incredibly intense, fast paced with complicated twisted story lines. I highly enjoyed all of these, include many of supporting rules like Nina, Tony and finally the best Chloe, however, what really stroke me was the protagonist's "extreme" temperament, his almost faithful insistence on "justice" and "truth" - Jack Bauer (an agent of "CTU") does not negotiate! He has passion for vengeance! And he is always right and he always wins!

"Revenge" has never been a concept supported by any cultural ideologies or religions, but it is such a instinct nature of human that no one can deny the experience of it. Since I am from a culture that is good at self denial, maybe just as good as or, even better than any other cultures, plus my own experience tells me things quite differently from those boring moral teachings, I found this show extra attractive.

Another striking element of this show was that Jack Bauer was always alone: he was often alone during his missions, he was always left alone after the missions. He was easily misunderstood by government and his country, even sometime by his fellow agents. He saved the country millions times and he saved millions people's lives, but the country and people still hated him, still tried as hard as possible to eliminate him.
"Deja vu!" One against all! For me, this is another perfect truth in real life.

One negative aspect I found from Jack Bauer is that he virtually was just a tool of government. He was used every time when the country was in needs of him (once the country even handed him to terrorists for death, in order to save "millions people's lives"). And after missions impossible were done, he was not protected at all and often had to run alone. For his job, Bauer paid immeasurable price - he lost love ones and could not have a normal life. But still, he was loyal to his country, put his life aside from his missions, just like a perfect model of patriots.
This reminds me communist government back in China. They are doing exactly the same thing in their propagandist art. As an individualist, I despise such political propaganda.

Nevertheless, this show overall is a tremendous success. I am in love with Jack Bauer, and Kiefer Sutherland will never be forgotton as Jack Bauer - a bloody "God of justice"!

October 19, 2010

Quotes by Liu Xiaobo (2)

Liu XiaoboImage via Wikipedia

Mist of metaphysics seems to be a serious philosophical work. This post together with the previous one are both quotes only from the introduction part of the over 400 page book. I am profoundly impressed by his independent thinking style and the depth in humanity he probes in his book.


About death:
"If there is anything real but totally unrelated to any of our subjective desire, it is DEATH. "
"Maybe, all the mysteries of life lie in our attitude towards death. "

"Man not only
recognize the limitation of reality and desire to transcend, but also recognize the fact that such desire to transcend will never come true. The former attitude is self comforting, the later is autosadism. ...The
attitude of
self comforting creates myth, illusion, etc., and the attitude of autosadism on the other hand smashes these myths or illusions into pieces. This is a everlasting battle, perhaps last forever until the end of mankind. "

About the motive of life:
"To make the mortal life immortal is "motive of transcendence"; to satisfy oneself as much as possible during the mortal lifespan is "motive of reality (mundaneness?)". Whereas the motive of reality is more fundamental to our life, it is the motive of transcendence that decides our choice of life. "

"What really counts for our life? How can we live a fulfilled meaningful life? Should we focus on our reality, or work hard for our next immortal life? Man often wonder back forth, pondering in confusion. ...As long as we are not forced to choose, I think any choices are valid. ... to be a good housewife is not necessarily easier than to be a head of a country; a value of beggar's life is not necessarily less than a of a president. The key factor is: whether the decision is made by yourself; to what extent you have accomplished your choice. The freedom of choice is a virtual measurement of the value of life."

About Chinese philosophy:
."..the nature of Chinese classical philosophy doesn't lie in the fact of its pursuing of "Tao", but its "dictatorship" to Chinese people's thoughts, its tendency of putting the value of transcendence as a only standard for real life and imposing this value to everyone. If there have been two counter forces - the value of transcendence and value of reality (mundaneness?) existed in the history of western culture, there has never been a counter force existed in Chinese history." (I cannot agree more!)

"A man who is able to transcend himself is a man can transcend anything. However, there is no such man ever existed. What makes man better or more special than other species is, that a man has consciousness and desire to transcend, albeit they are is merely consciousness, merely desire. All intellectual creations of mankind are related to such desire."

About ideal:
"The reason that ideal can push a man forward is not because of ideal ifself, regardless of how perfect the ideal is; nor because of the man's hope that one day the ideal would come true, regardless of how much he believes; it is because of the fact that ideal can push a man to be conscious more deeply about the misery of reality, to provoke dissatisfaction and denial toward reality and himself. "p34

The nature of ideal is not the fulfillment of life, but the emptiness of life; not the transcendence of self, but the impossibility of such mission; not the capability of predicting and designing the bright future of mankind, but the uncontrollability of the unknown future. ...the tragedy of not being able to transcend mankind itself is the nature of ideal.

"The ideal that denies the weakness of human is fascination, illusion. This illusion was the sole premise of Chinese ancient ideal personality. ... This ideal leads only to hypocrisy. In other words, as soon as an ideal no longer provokes man's more profound consciousness about misery of reality, weakness of human kind, this ideal loses its value. ...Only those who use ideal as reference for their full devotion to the tragedy of reality can reach the opposite polars of life - the darkness of abyss, the radiance of heaven. ...It is only in the process of reaching these two absolutely opposite points, life can be fulfilled."

About metaphysics (philosophy):
"Metaphysics functions as self-comforting to human. It is a a power of emotion, rather than a power of reason."

"Metaphysics expresses the desire of self transcendence of human by an its abstract form."

About religion & science:
"The imperishable faith of human derives from his instinctive pursuing for the next life (immortal life). To some extent, the enlightenment of science and its victory over religions since renaissance is just an illusion. In terms of the value of mankind, religion is not seconded by science. Believing that science is omnipotent is a new religion. ...The desire of transcendence is surrealistic, cannot be proven, but it hold value of life. Religion will not defeat science, science will not defeat religion. "(p26)

Metaphysics and desire for possession

"Desire for possession is human nature, like foods, inevitable and unchangeable, regardless of good or evil. Morality cannot judge such desire. We often describe the ambition of Macbeth as "evil", but the power of this tragedy is beyond such judgement. ...(political) Power is desire for possession, thought and affection are also desire for possession. Because we acknowledge such nature, we set restrictions in all realms to control our desire. Democracy, freedom of speech, free choices between personal relationships, these are all set for restrict our desire for possession, set for restrict political, philosophical and emotional monism. Again, without restriction, everyone will become dictator. It's nothing to do with morality. ...

"If an emperor is the dictator of politics, metaphysics is the dictator of thoughts. The nature of these two are the same, they are driven by the desire for possession, desire for control and domination. "

About Chinese intellectuals:
"One of characters of Chinese culture was provoking human desire for power as much as possible. "The path to become intellects" was almost the only way to reach this goal. ...The worst tragedy of Chinese ancient intellects was that they didn't use intellectual means - the one that differs from political means ( I suppose "intellectual means" means "knowledge") to conquer (society). That's why not only they (Chinese intellects) did not conquer people, but they were also assimilated into emperors' political power. Thus they lost the value of being intellects and became subsidiary part of emperors' political power . Lack of independent pursuits, lack the spirit of doubt and criticism, possessing little of conscience toward society and people, these, are the primary characteristic traits of Chinese ancient intellects. From this perspective, we can say, that during thousands years history of Chinese feudalism, there were no such a social class of independent intellects ever existed, nor a social class of vendor/merchants, there were only two classes: rulers and the ruled... Those who singing, writing and painting, seemingly courteous intellects were virtually ruled slaves: narrow minded, blindly obedient and weak. ...Chinese ancient culture is utilitarianist. It is not abstract, not mysterious, but its despotism cannot be paralleled. "
(I cannot agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!)

"As human evolves, the individual consciousness wakens, the potential of individuals develops, everyone has his/her own power and thoughts, so the battle of rulers and the ruled finally point to one aim: no one can rule others, the ultimate life goal is each person's self governing, self achievement. "

"Confucius was the most successful ruler of Chinese society. His thoughts dominated Chinese people's mind for over 2 thousands years, until now. Further more, his thoughts has been instilled inside Chinese people's blood. "

"The lesson from Cultural Revolution is: 1. for China, the worst historical falling back is the reviving of feudalist ideology; 2, the cause of the endless misery of Chinese people is not exterior, but interior - inside every single Chinese him/herself." (I cannot agree more!)

"We (Chinese people) have to confront, that this "evergreen" despotism, dictatorship, idolatry are all made by Chinese people's own hands. We cannot put the responsibility of the poverty and ignorance of Chinese people to a few dictators, nor to Confucius or Mencius, but the choice of every single Chinese - it is Chinese people who chose emperorship. ..." (!!!)

"The concept of God and deified science both derived from the same human psyche: we will be saved."

"... human is the best tool to produce fallacy..."

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Strength vs. vulnerability

The real strength lies in the acceptance of our vulnerability.

October 14, 2010

Quotes by Liu Xiaobo (1)

Liu XiaoboLiu Xiaobo is the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2010 who is currently in jail in mainland China. I don't know much about him but just discovered one of his books "Mist of metaphysics" and it appears very thoughtful to me, also a bit pessimistic.
Below are some quotes from the book (my own English translation):

About metaphysics:
"Metaphysics is a compound of ways of our thinking and existence, an entirety of our behavior and motive."

"All knowledge of mankind is process of questions and answers. The history of thought is the history of questions."

"Whereas everything that man creates is for transcending his own limitation, the limitation of existence itself decides that he could never break the boundary."p6

"Discovery is creativity, common sense is imitation."

Space and Time:
"...the importance of time and space lies in the fact that they are the measurement of our life, the reference for the meaning of life - which work as a leverage for our survive will."

The value of thinkers:
"The value of a thinker is not about what problems he solves, but what kind of problems/questions he presents, because a new question means a new start and new development. Even if he does solve problems, the solutions must be open and provocative, must conceive new problems/questions"

About human wisdom, the separation of human and nature:
"If we ask: why under God's supervise Adam and Eve still stole the forbidden fruit, choosing the misery of knowing instead of the happiness of unknown? Was it really because of the temptation of Snake? I think, this temptation of snake was not the true cause of this action, the true cause was our human nature. And the reason that we created such a story to put the responsibility to others (snake) was because we have fear - we fear we have such kind of instinct. Indeed, giving a outside cause to our human tragedy can more or less alleviate the cruelty of this destiny." p14

About Time - the value also the limitation of life:
"The Buddhist concept of reincarnation is an avoidance of time, a murder of the sense of time. This avoidance of time creates a psychological satisfaction, a triumph over death, but the price is all our current life. Being apathetic to time is being apathetic to life. If all our hardship was caused by our previous life, we should not fight, be completely obedient to whatever come to us. Those whoever lack vitality, would also lack the sense about time. The sense of time is the sense of life... " p22

Death and life

"Without the awareness of death, everything is ordinary, trivial. It is only because death is stalking us that the world is an unfathomable mystery."
---Carlos Castaneda