Saturday, April 15, 2017

In which the pond embarks on the never-ending story part II, thanks to prattling Polonius ...


For those who came in late to the story this day, the pond had earlier in the day arranged a smack-down between nattering "Ned" ...


... and prattling Polonius ...


... but then unilaterally judged nattering "Ned" the winner, without allowing an audience vote, and despite the reptiles putting Polonius at the top of the opinion section, no doubt as a sure fire way of fixing up the reptiles' business plan ...

It was grotesquely unfair, all the more so because Polonius was unwisely a paragon of brevity.

But what is the point of blathering in a succinct way?

In the end, the points went nattering "Ned's" way on the simple basis that Polonius lacked the tedious length, the hugely wide and wise circumference,  needed to match the verbal codpiece that nattering "Ned" proudly displayed ...

Now some might make a case for incisiveness, but that's to confuse insight with a shortage of words.

Polonius still roams over safe ground and regurgitates the same platitudes as nattering "Ned", it's just that the reptiles won't give him the same space as Ned.

Yet it's exactly the sort of fare the reptiles are expected to deliver at each pagan festival on the calendar, whether it involves bemoaning Santa Claus (whither the Xmas spirit in these godless atheistic secularist materialist times?) or the goddess of Ä’ostre ...

The pond thought of Ginsberg when it came to nattering "Ned", but with Polonius, there was nothing new under the sun ....

As the pond once read somewhere ...


Indeed, indeed.

Polonius should rejoice in his works, all the more so because he is a seer, biblically defiant ... for it seems that he has been gifted with the capacity to see what shall be after him ...



Actually, if you flip it, believers don't approach agnostics with tolerance. They were wildly intolerant of atheism of any kind, however mildly stated, but when they saw a waverer, a doubter, a half-baked pragmatic searching for the truth, they saw a john, a mark, a trick to be turned.

There was a good chance, with zealotry and persistence, to drag the agnostic in to the temple...and soon enough they'd be enjoying the benefits of scones and jam, prepared by their complimentary women, and clucking with the others about the way that the gays were a threat to the entirety of western civilisation, and were on a one way trip to an eternity in hell (along with feminists and other uppity, difficult women who wondered why the patriarchs ran the show ...)

As for the other, the act of (secular) faith, the pond hasn't got the foggiest clue where the notion of so many gods came from. It seems that Polonius suffers from the delusion that there is but one God and she was created by mankind. But even his God has a split personality, and there are many, many other gods ...

It might well be that people created them, it might well be that Ridley Scott provided the answer, it might well be that the long absent lord popped out of a volcano.

Who can say? It would take an extraordinarily silly person to think that just one god was created by mankind and then she was a he ... or did he become a she? Doo doo doo doo doo doo ...

The pond came to an understanding of all this when it was introduced to theological issues way back when by the immortal philosopher Carl Barks...


The pond came to understand that when it came to Catholicism, it was a round balloon of bubble gum in a land of square chooks and square eggs.

For those who came in late to the story, but who don't mind a distraction from prattling Polonius, the ducks arrive in a remote part of the Andes and come across a land where everything is square ...


The land of the square chook gave to the pond some understanding of what constituted sacrilege, rather like Swiftian arguments about little and big endians ...

Incidentally, it helps explain why prattling Polonius and Daesh have like minds on assorted issues, because the square egg must abhor any form of difference, or, if you will, nicely rounded, fully blown bubble gum ...


Those who want to find out what happens to the ducks will have to dig out their old, worn copies of Carl Barks, or acquire one of the reprints, or refer to the appreciation at Boing Boing here, because the pond will have to return to prattling Polonius ...

Without doing a full spoiler, it seems the grave and solemn one envies atheists their certitude and correctness, unlike the agonising self-doubt the poor lad experiences each day as he plunges into his vale of despair, far from the smugness of clever atheists, cheering as they march to a meaningless death ...

Yes, while atheists are full of sneering smugness, you certainly won't find a smug Polonius sneering at their smugness ...


Now the astute Polonial observer will note how he elides from a belief in the old testament and Adam and Eve and talking snakes and burning bushes and Leviticus and all its bizarre injunctions to a discussion of euthanasia ...

And then gets agitated that Margaret Somerville, a professor at Notre Dame University, a Catholic university, should somehow be linked to a Catholic perspective, even though the Catholic Weekly loves to quote her, and she has at various points made the case against SSM in a Catholic way ...

Those of us who take this position should, however, do so with moral regret, that is, although we believe it is ethically required, regret for the pain and hurt it causes to same-sex couples, such as we saw in the anguish Senator Tim Wilson manifested in his maiden speech in the Senate, who want marriage to be available to them. (here)

Moral regret? Whenever the pond reads words like that it reaches for its Glock.

Yes, she's smarmy and oily and unctuous in the Catholic manner - how the Jesuits used to clasp their hands and smarm at the pond in Uriah Heep way - but as we've passed this way, might the pond point out the fun that the learned Justice Robert French had in matters ethical, and inter alia with Margaret Somerville, in a pdf available at AustLii here  (go there for the footnotes..), as she blathered on about the singular importance of ethics ...

...The exploration of our physical universe has already generated the plausible hypothesis that there may be many different universes characterised by a variety of physical laws. It has also encountered the difficulty of constructing ‘theories of Everything’ from which a physical reality can be explained. It has found, as astrophysicist Barrow, JD. observed ‘there is more to Everything than meets the eye’. 
It is beyond hypothesis that the exploration to which Professor Somerville refers must encounter the reality that there is more than one universe of moral discourse. It is not taking a morally relativistic position to say that human diversity produces a range of moral and ethical perspectives between societies and, as we may observe at the closer quarters of our own community, within societies. The ferocity and difficulty attending public debates about euthanasia, abortion and embryo stem cell research, to name three prominent examples, demonstrate areas of fundamental difference. This diversity is also reflected in the different theories and approaches of academic and professional ethicists...

Indeed, indeed, and then the learned judge took aim a little more directly:

...Professor Somerville refers to judges as the ‘contemporary bishops’ and the courts as ‘cathedrals of a secular society’. These metaphorical labels might more realistically attach to ethicists and ethics committees, although they should perhaps be downgraded to ‘ministers’ and ‘church halls’ respectively. Their existence and growth raises the question whether, and to what extent, they are in truth being resorted to as a means of ascertaining ethical options for decision-makers. It is at least reasonable to suppose that for some decision-makers the primary utility of ethicists and ethics committees is to accord legitimacy to decisions or policies by a kind of ethical certification – a secular equivalent of the old Church sanction for printed works reflected in the Latin terms nihil obstat and imprimatur.
 If this is to be a factor in the use of ethicists and ethics committees then it may also inform the choice of ethicist and the composition of such committees. How then is the reader of someone like Professor Margaret Somerville to react to her critics who are concerned about her use of such terms as ‘profound respect for life’, ‘deep respect for the human spirit’ and ‘inherently wrong’. 
These critics would no doubt passionately reject her reference to respect for the human spirit as: ‘the intangible, invisible, immeasurable reality that we need, to find meaning in life and to make life worth living – that deeply intuitive sense of relatedness or connectedness to the world and the universe in which we live.’
Russell Blackford said, among many other things critical of Somerville’s approach: ‘Somerville is entitled to hold and express her science-spirit view if it reflects her deepest intuitions about these matters. However, it provides an unacceptable basis for public policy decisions.’ 
In truth, there is little risk that in the long run the formation of the law or public policy will be dominated by reductionist science, fundamentalist religion, the science-spirit hybrid of Margaret Somerville or the utilitarian approach of Peter Singer. The formulation of policy and the making of law about the creation and ending of human life is a process where different views will be advanced by different constituencies. 
The very difficulty of the choices involved is reflected in the existence of powerful and articulate proponents in contention about them. And even in those cases where the judges are called upon, within the framework of the common or statute law, to make evaluative decisions or choices, the essence of the judicial tradition is conservative. This is so whether we are talking about so called ‘judicial activists’ or ‘gradualists’ or ‘Big C Conservatives’, each of which terms is a plausible candidate for inclusion in Professor Julius Stone’s categories of illusory and meaningless reference... 

The pond could go on quoting the good and learned justice all day, but he's there for the reading, and perhaps, after all that idle chatter from Polonius, it's best just to note his pungent closer:

At the beginning and the ending of life, there are few clear-cut answers. Whatever advice an ethicist can give, somebody, probably not an ethicist, will have to make the final decision. 

Well yes, and it reminds the pond of the immediate situation of an elderly member of the family, now deep in dementia, wildly overweight and trapped, until he dies a slow agonising death, in a nursing home, where doctors are unable to act (he currently is judged to be physically well enough to suffer ongoing torment).

It passes near enough to a form of living hell, no reflection on the home, just on the moments when he returns to reality, and discovers his situation and his torment.

Sure he brought it on himself with his steadfast refusal to follow doctor's orders or do anything to prevent his spiralling into his current situation, but the pond looks at this ending life, and prays to the long absent lord that someone works out a way to take out the pond should it ever find itself in this kind of living hell.

Lots of other people feel this way. Margaret Somerville might blather about science-spirit, and Polonius might assure us that this has nothing to do with Catholicism, but the pond will settle for the right to make the final decision, whatever that might be and whenever it might come ...

Ah but then this might involve rational thought, yet it seems Somerville, Polonius and the Catholic church think this sort of talk is wildly irrational and is somehow inherently wrong, because they themselves are blessed with deeply, inherently rational notions ...you know, like a deeply intuitive sense of the infinite joy of blathering nonsense not entirely related to the actual here and now ...

Well, the learned justice had a response to that, and so did the mystical Blake. The pond has run it a number of times, and will keep running whenever it comes in handy ...


Thou shalt not.

There's your rational response - Blake had the Catholic church in mind - and as with other matters mentioned above, such as homosexuality and complimentary women, it's strange how the echo chamber of religion works ...

Muslims are against euthanasia. They believe that all human life is sacred because it is given by Allah, and that Allah chooses how long each person will live. Human beings should not interfere in this. (BBC, here)

All nonsense of course. Just more priests in black gowns, walking their rounds ...


3 comments:

  1. Your usual incisive analysis, DP, so not much more needs be said. Just afew small comments:

    Polonius: "...agnostics approached believers with tolerance."

    What a pity then, that the believers responded with implacable hostility

    Polonius: "Believers ... maintain that there is a God."

    No, not "a" God, the "believers" of the Prattling kind actually believe only that there is one very specific God: the one that they believe in and no other. The difference between Polonius and an "atheist" is that atheists believe in just one less God than he does. Unless, that is, he'd like to swear that he actually does believe in Zeus/Jupiter as well; in which case atheists believe in two fewer Gods than he does.

    Polonius: "And then there are those in the West who believe that Christianity is incompatible with rational thought."

    Because it is, as is Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc etc. If there is one thing that can be said with certainty it is that whether or not one believes that "a god" is possible, one knows that every human religion is false because it is irretrievably irrational and anti-factual.

    Polonius: "Atheists, through an act of (secular) faith believe that God was created by mankind ..."

    Here Polonius clearly demonstrates his theological and philosophical ignorance: "atheists" only believe one thing about "God" and that is that there is absolutely insufficient evidence of any "God's" existence to be able to say anything about It. Some people who call themselves atheists do take the "God does not exist stance", but the rest of us just go for the "insufficient evidence" stance - which is a tad different from the agnostic position mainly because atheists don't feel any need to assert possibilities.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Weekend newspapers:

    Financial Times: "Society flying blind over robots impact on jobs" encouraging a broader view of a very real crisis looming, a crisis that will impact the whole of our society.

    The Australian: two tiresome old men repeating tiresome shibboleths that impact on practically no-one.

    There's never been a more pertinent and essential journal than The Oz has there?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Religious discussions and arguments go in eternal circles... and god are they boring.

    ReplyDelete

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