Thursday 12 June 2008

Life Pupose: Die Right

This is from a longer post at my own blog, Vagabond Blues, about "How I Survived the Mountains of Navarra."

It seems to me, after much contemplation, that the most succinct description of the meaning or purpose of life is this: to prepare for death. Preparing for death can mean only one thing: to learn what it is like to die. This can be done through various techniques, most commonly sex, drugs, trance dreaming, and extreme fright or danger (also of course illness, despair, crisis, and so forth). Note that we have already covered most of the major preoccupations (positive and negative) of the average person during his or her eighty odd years of existence. The problem is that none of these things, taken by themselves as ends in and of themselves, have any meaning or purpose. Hence they become either distractions to be indulged in, or afflictions to be endured. As preparations for the ultimate act of dying, however, they are equally valid, and positive or negative only so far as we use them, or not, to break down our resistance to the inevitable, and come to embrace it. For only by embracing death can we endeavor to dance past it.


Hurlyburly said...

I'm sorry Jake in time you'll learn to realise that everything reminds me of a film refference. Your post just echoes of this dialogue from "When Harry Met Sally"

Harry: When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.
Sally: That doesn't mean you're deep or anything. I mean, yes, basically I'm a happy person...
Harry: So am I.
Sally: ...and I don't see that there's anything wrong with that.
Harry: Of course not. You're too busy being happy. Do you ever think about death?
Sally: Yes.
Harry: Sure you do. A fleeting thought that drifts in and out of the transom of your mind. I spend hours, I spend days...
Sally: - and you think this makes you a better person?
Harry: Look, when the s--t comes down, I'm gonna be prepared and you're not, that's all I'm saying.
Sally: And in the meantime, you're gonna ruin your whole life waiting for it.

Jason Kephas said...

ah yes, to humatons death can only ever be an inconvenience - a splinter in the brain!

to the warrior, it is the whisper of the Boundless

Karl Le Marcs said...

Personally, I'd rather embrace life!

Death is a part of life anyway: Disection causes fear, and fear causes apprehension. And why should we be apprehensive about life?

Now, I don't care what the last page in a book says; I enjoy the journey. And if this page I am reading now turns out to be the last that I read then my journey was still fun, and I enjoyed it; and your destination is always where you are right now.

Cheer up!!!


Karl Le Marcs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hurlyburly said...

I'd agree, which is why that last line was emphasised. Who knew Meg Ryan was so wise...

(She was in HurlyBurly i guess!)

Karl Le Marcs said...

Hurlyburly: BLIMEY!!

That's twice you've agreed with me in one day!! This is huge!!

And who would have thought that Meg Ryan would have been such a sage!!

Anthony Peake said...

JAKE: I have to say that your existential angst rings bells with me. As one of natures pessimists I had, until writing ITLAD rather felt that life was a pointless exercise in frustrated dreams. However I now consider that I am like Conners in "Groundhog Day" (sorry HB ... I know movies are your area but you know that I am also a bit of a fan of film)- I am here to try and improve my lot and maybe make it better than last time. Of course 'better' can be a selfish and altruistic word depending upon ones philosophy.

Shiva said...

Life Purpose - Die right

Have you read the English Translation of the Book of the Dead? Death is your last chance to become Enlightened in your current life - although it is equivalent to writing a letter in your best handwriting while accidentally falling from a plane!

Hurlyburly said...

Oh dear, how did it come to this. Anthony is apologising to me for making movie reffernces on HIS BLOG!!! Please don't embarrass me sir, they're not my area alone, you may share this movie theater with me (and anyone else, Karl has to pay us per word though!)

ra from ca said...

This can be done through various techniques, most commonly sex, drugs, trance dreaming, and extreme fright or danger (also of course illness, despair, crisis, and so forth).

I don't think sex drugs trance dreaming will teach you anything about death at all. Lose a father, husband, son or daughter, or someone you love. That will teach you about death and loss.

Hurlyburly/Martin: Great movie quote

Karl: Your command to "cheer up" is liking pouring a sugary syrup on a wound. It won't promote the healing or the growth required. I have no objection to joy but sometimes as Bruce Rubin would say you need a little fibre in your diet.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Hurlyburly: What about all the repeat fees??

Ra from Ca: "Cheer Up" was not directed specifically towards you Ruth. And if you knew the amount of work I put in on here and behind the scenes to try and keep many of the negative and morbid elements of some posts from sensitive souls such as yourself, I would hope you would be thankful that I try and keep the overall morale high and the direction of the general chatter towards the positive, life improving and life evolving elements within ITLAD.

But I DO agree with you on your comments regarding the initial post here.

Hope you are well, we've not heard from you for a while.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Shiva: Yes the "Book of the Dead" has been discussed; please follow the links below for the posts and the comments within:

Jacob's Ladder, Post Jungian Map Of Global Cinema [by Ra from Ca]

The First And Second Bardo [by Anthony Peake]

ra from ca said...


Re the sensitive soul bit. I don't think I'm particularly sensitive. I knew the cheer up wasn't for me. Sorry to hear your being burdened, and sorry if I added to that burden. I have appreciated your posts, ideas and comments.

My comment was a bit clumsy. I guess my feeling is that some people need to express their less than cheery feelings and thoughts at times. Given Tony's book touches on the subject of death, and attracts people dealing with death, all comments are not going to be light-hearted. I appreciate your concern that this blog could become overly morbid.

Jason Kephas said...

As I see it, you are all betraying your own fear of death by equating even a mention of it with "morbidity"!

Karl: If "death is a part of life," then isn’t life a part of death? How can you embrace one without embracing the other? You cannot.

HB: Meg Ryan's "wisdom," as far as I can see, was only that she caught Harry out in his own superficiality. She proved herself less superficial than him, but hardly wise! The secret of life isn’t enjoying life despite our mortality (which is really just denial), it is in enjoying it because of it!

Tony - existential angst? I am guilty of that for sure (but was much more so back in 97), but this post wasn’t an example of it. It was merely an observation, an articulation of a philosophy. Why must the mention of death always been attributed either to angst or morbidity? Is there no one out there among you enlightened folk who can see death as what it is — a positive FORCE? To paraphrase don Juan, Death is the active player in the game of life – for without it, we would not be spurred to act.

“To be a warrior, a man has to be keenly aware of his own death, but to be concerned with death would be debilitating. The idea of imminent death, instead of becoming an obsession, becomes an indifference. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so that he can’t deny himself anything. A man of that sort, however, does not crave, for he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of life. He knows his death is stalking him and won’t give him time to cling to anything. So he tries without craving, all of everything.”

Ra ca – an awareness of death is not the same as an awareness of loss. In fact, the two things have nothing to do with one another. Once again, you seem to be personalizing this – hard not to do, I appreciate, since our personal experience of death is so overwhelming. What I am talking about, however, is not grief but —what this blog is all about — finding out what it’s like to die. And yes, sex, drugs, and the other methods mentioned can be used for simulating this ultimate experience available to. The fact you haven’t experienced these possibilities for yourself doesn’t mean no one else has — surely?!

Hurlyburly said...

I fluctuate between actually "living life" and analysing every single element of the fabric of our reality. I know which one i prefere Jake.

Ignorance is bliss untill you know better, then you're just blessed and cursed at the same time.

Also, don't take my dialogue reference too seriously, i just saw similarities, i didn't really consider Meg Ryan to be wise, i mean, come on!

SM Kovalinsky said...

Ra from Ca: Just wanted to say that I am in the same position as you: far more by nature than by circumstance. Even leaving out entirely the whole process of grieving, a tendency to darkness and morbidity in all things - whether death, sex, Daemon - seems to mark certain people. I am a far worse offender than you could ever be in this department, as it is more or less my stock in trade and I cannot function apart from it, nor can I view Tony's theories in any other purview. This is why I was pleased when he made reference in an earlier post that he had been in his youth "bad, dark, and dangerous to know": I felt that this was indeed and at long last a confirmation of "my Tony" who had spoken to me from the lines of his text. I for one felt loss before the loss, and was in Heidegger's "Being-toward -Death" mode prior to the death itself. And to me this all has utmost relevance, as one of the first things that floored and stunned me regarding Peake was that I viewed both his "Daemon" theory and his proclivity for the high-brow PK Dick as marks of his being very much a "Heidegger man", a death-driven person of the Thanatos ilk. I still view him as such and admire him for it.

ra from ca said...

Death is not loss but transformative and possible gain of consciousness? Is that your point? Embrace death? Ok. What about embracing life first? What would that look like?

SM Kovalinsky said...

Well, from Heidegger's point of view - and he was my original "father" in terms of my philosophy, and I still bear his mark - it has to be done the other way around: Embrace death first, then comes authenticity and true creativity in thinking. This is Tony's Daemon-realm, I am sure of it. One of the most startling things for me with regard to Tony was his parallel to PK Dick. After reading ITLAD I researched PKD extensively and obsessively. To find that he had called a most important character "Anarch Peak", which immediately impressed me as a homologue for Tony, for me set a sort of royal seal upon Peake and all things Peakian. They are intertwined at the most important level. Dick was no writer of pop-science fiction; he was a philosopher and Gnostic of the utmost high-brow caliber, and I cannot believe that an essay has not been written linking Peak and Dick together through that name. Or maybe it has? And I am unaware. If it has not, I have much material for it, and Tony would only have to give me the green light. In any case, Ruth, know that I struggle along with all of these same handicaps; and the fact that KLLM is a self-professed "Dark" philosopher is very telling, and his picture is "dark lord" material as well. Were he to have called himself the "Philosopher of Light and Joy" I would have dismissed him from the start. My point: Darkness pervades this blog.

ra from ca said...

Thanks SM

You have made me feel less guilty for my own darkness. I almost feel cool like Dick or Peake. What do you say to Jake about loss and death not being the same?

By the way my earlier comment was directed at Jake. Jake says embrace death with drugs and sex & death is not loss. What do you say?

SM Kovalinsky said...

Well, as loathe as I am to admit it, I am a bit kin to Jake. I would say that death is a loss on one level, a gain in the daemonic domain. Although my hackles rise to defend the idea of death=loss (and of course we both know that with the death of the Other, it does), I think I can also view it in Heideggerian terms, as perhaps the SOLE task of the living (to direct all toward "death"). Of course this is all very metaphysical, but it is good teleology, daemonic teleology. Tony is a teleologist. I have more to say to you Ruth, something very essential, but as I am late for an appointment, I will email you tonight on it. love you--smk

Jason Kephas said...

as ever, kinship with the messenger of Pluto is only for the bold of heart and even then, often experienced with fear & loathing!

thanks SM

Karl Le Marcs said...

Ra from Ca: Ruth, I used 'sensitive soul' as a deliberate euphemism to describe those (amongst which you are one) who have experienced much personal grief, pain and suffering through this subject, and my 'back-stage' work is always to protect the sensitivity of these people when we get posts like this which belabour the more morbid aspects of the topic. After all, ITLAD is supposed to be about the paradigm shift from the pessimism of 'one life' to the optimism of 'many lives' and that, within our own phaneron, we actually NEVER reach the point of death (which as we know, I tend to debate, but even if finitely so, the thousands, millions or trillions of recurrences still should be embraced)

You, amongst many others here, are VERY important to me and I thank you for your other kind words to me Ruth.

ps, I do agree with your comments regarding Jake's viewpoint, and you expressed yourself well.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Jake: "If "death is a part of life," then isn’t life a part of death? How can you embrace one without embracing the other? You cannot." - Where did I suggest that we should not embrace one without the other? I said that to 'embrace death', which were your words from the original post, was the wrong approach to take and that personally I would rather 'embrace life'. The two are intrinsically entwined in the venn diagram of existence but to labour on the deterministic and ultimately morbid elements is, I think, the unhealty approach.

And I cannot agree with your comments to Ruth (Ra from Ca), but as this was a personal discussion I shan't say more than Ruth herself has said.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Susan Marie: "Dark Master" would have made me think you had read some of my None-ITLAD writings, but anyway, my Dark Philosopher status is existent on many levels, but my concern here is that the blog was created and developed for the evolution and expansion of the theories behind CTF and ITLAD (which I am honoured to say now include many of my own theories), and at times we seem to be heading down a path that has no relevance to the actual content of the books or the theory, to wit, death! For ITLAD is after all, about NOT actually reaching the point of death in our own phaneron. Now, in my theory I actually DO discuss death and what happens when we die, as I assert that we indeed DO die, after many many many recurrences (as within ITLAD) but to a finite degree, not infinite. In darkness there is still light; just one photon in a billion billion billion vacuum energy points still has light. My fear with blog is that it can become too deterministic and morbid, so I try my best to maintain a balance.

SM Kovalinsky said...

Well, I hold to it more radically than you know, and have in all likelihood misunderstood all of Peake's writings, and he only needs to say that to me directly. My interest in Peake was always centered on his daemon concept and its interplay with the eidolon; also, his connection to PK Dick. Morbidity in some of the bloggers, and probably no one matches my own, is just symptom, consequence incident of the first: the attraction to Tony's understanding of the Daemon. It is his second book that I knew him for, in the first. In his "in between" time he admits we really do die.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Susan Marie: I'm taking Tony through the deeply complex mathematics within my assertion that the Bohmian IMAX recurrences are in fact NOT infinite but finite, by discussing with him concepts such as Cantor's Infinities, and my own writings on the Quanta of Time.

When he wrote ITLAD and CTF he wasn't aware of this mathematical and scientific approach to Zeno's Bisection Paradox and Thomson's Lamp, which are easily disproven through the concepts I mention above.

This is a prime example of how Tony's wonderful theory and book develops because of the input from this blog. Without my input on this subject Tony may well not now be partially believing that we do really die. And as I stated earlier, in my theory and in the collobarative work that Tony and I are now doing, we DO cover that subject but I can tell you now, there is still much positivity in this collective Uber-Theory.

SM Kovalinsky said...

Yes, I see. I regret having gone off on a tangent. "Dark lord" was the expression, and it is Nietzschean and complimentary, not anything else. I mean it in the sense of "The Gay Science" (i.e. 'dark'=joyous). I think there is something in my particular academic path, and its New York routes, that doesn't always come across. I never talk about the science of CTF, only the philosophy: it is the only thing I understand, and I told Tony this at the start. So perhaps I miss too much with so narrow a focus, which of course I do apologize for. I think I responded to Jake's remarks as to a fellow Nietzschean, which I rarely meet. "Hail fellow, well met" was all I wanted to say to him. So sorry for all. Thank you for your explanatory remarks, which are superb.

Andrew Giancarlo said...

Are your writings on the Quanta of Time available as an article or just dispersed in all your writing? I think I remember when I read all your posts things you said but I can't always hold it in my mind so it stays clear anyway.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Susan Marie: Thank You, I'm glad my remarks were helpful to you.

Andrew: I can't remember writing a specific post on my "Quanta of Time", although I gave hints toward it in a few. And I have discussed it on occasion in comments to other posts.

Jason Kephas said...

I am afraid I fail to see why the idea of living once and then dying should be considered ‘pessimistic,’ while the idea of endless recurrence is seen as optimistic?
Whatever happened to quality over quantity?

I also fail to see the need to propagate a philosophy of ‘embracing life,’ since surely this is self-evident, and as a message more fit for Tom Hanks movies than a serious discussion area such as this? To embrace death, on the other hand, is to say that we accept life on its own terms, not on merely on ours, i.e., not only life but its undeniable impermanence. Judging by the kind of responses I have inspired at this blog, this is not only something people are unwilling to do, but is being dismissed as morbid and pessimistic!

Karl complains about “belaboring the more morbid aspects of the topic.”
But the morbidity is clearly in the eye of the beholder, for it’s not there in my original post. If to mention the fact that we are going to die, and that we might gain clarity and wisdom from this knowledge, is to be considered morbid, then we must condemn every artist and philosopher throughout history to the same dark and moribund realms.

Karl said: “Where did I suggest that we should not embrace one without the other? I said that to 'embrace death', which were your words from the original post, was the wrong approach to take and that personally I would rather 'embrace life'.”

You have just said it again! By separating them and expressing a preference, you are attempting to ‘embrace one without the other’!

Finally, re: Karl’s comment: “at times we seem to be heading down a path that has no relevance to the actual content of the books or the theory, to wit, death!”

Based on this, I can only surmise that the main appeal of Tony’s model is the vague hope that, somehow, if he’s right, we don’t have to die! If the general consensus here is that personal immortality is not just possible but desirable, then I am clearly in the wrong company. If you’ll forgive a poetic turn of phrase, surely we know that the idea of personal immortality is the grand folly of the “black magicians” and the foundation of Hell itself? Or am I being morbid?

My impression, based on what Karl said above, is that at this blog, the ITLAD model should be left unchallenged, and never, ever applied to what we all know to be “real life” (i.e., the fact that we are beings who are going to die), just in case it doesn’t hold up. That the ITLAD model is being used here as “brain candy,” as a means to deny what we all know in our heart of hearts: that the personal self is transitory and impermanent, and that to it (unlike to the Daemon), death is the most real thing there is. (Hence my unpardonable breach of taste in reminding people of this!)

This reminds me of a group of explorers who are content to sit at home and stare at a beautifully detailed map, enthusiastically discussing all the places on it, hypothesizing what they might be like, but unwilling to venture onto the terrain itself for fear that their lovely map might be proven inadequate, or that ‘mere reality’ will be a disappointment, after all their wonderful imaginary excursions! The result is that the map becomes not only useless, but begins to serve the very opposite function to that which is was designed to serve.

My interest is in applying Tony’s model to what we already know (or think we know) about life (and death), and see how well it holds up.

Frankly, I am flabbergasted that, on the one hand, people would put forward Tony’s theory as ‘evidence’ we don’t have to die, and then, on the other, betray such an irrational aversion to talking about death!

Does no one else here see the glaring inconsistency?



Karl Le Marcs said...

Jake: I'll not even begin to point out the number of inconsistencies in that comment!

Flattering to be quoted so often though, I've obviously hit a nerve!

And where have I ever said I was seperating life from death? Now who is inferring meaning?

ra from ca said...


I believe there is some truth to what you say but I don't really understand what you mean when you say embrace death with sex and drugs. I have done both by the way and while these experiences have merit in slightly altering your perceptions, depending on the drugs which you didn't specify, they in no way match the experience of real love and loss. Gut renching, pain and loss. By the way Tom Hanks movies don't tell people how to embrace life at all. Embracing Life and death is the same thing but it isn't really accomplished through sex or drugs. Try this, put all your energy and focus into caring for someone you love and watch them die. Work as hard as you can to accomplish survival for you and your family and watch it crumble into dust through war, earthquake, flood, or tornado. Then talk to me about embracing life and death. Sex and drugs are for kids.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Ra from Ca: Superbly well said Ruth.