Urban Revitalization


The Daily Telegraph explains:

Several hundred people have attended a Mass at a US Catholic church to protest against an eight and a half-foot (2.6-metre)-tall bronze statue of Satan that hundreds of people also lined up to see. […] The Satanic Temple had said it would unveil the statue on Saturday at a Detroit location that only people with tickets would know about. Hundreds lined up on Saturday evening to get the tickets as Christian protesters rallied nearby. […] The bronze Baphomet statue, featuring a human body, goat’s head and wings, was unveiled just before midnight to cheers of “Hail Satan”. Statues of a boy and a girl in poses of adoration stand on either side.

The statue had been planned for the state Capitol in Oklahoma City until Oklahoma’s Supreme Court banned all religious displays on Capitol grounds. […] The Satanic Temple now says it wants to erect it outside Arkansas’ statehouse, where a Ten Commandments monument also is planned.

Naphta Politics

The idea of communism is practically incoherent in the absence of a global authoritarian state. It appears that Pope Francis agrees:

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.

Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.

According to the lengthy draft, which was obtained and published by L’Espresso magazine, the Argentinean pope will align himself with the environmental movement and its objectives. While accepting that there may be some natural causes of global warming, the pope will also state that climate change is mostly a man-made problem.

(for more on Leo Naphta — among the most prophetic characters in world literary history — the best recommendation is to read the book.)

Quotable (#76)

John Gray on contemporary Gnosticism:

A widespread wrong belief today is that knowledge will free us from our material nature. Lots of people—I would say the majority of educated people in Western Europe—now assume some version of a materialist picture of the world and themselves. But still they want to break free from the prison of matter. And I think this picture, as I try to show by the history of ideas, is a kind of Gnosticism. […] The two elements of Gnosticism as a religion were: Humans are spirits trapped in a material body, the flesh. Secondly, Gnosticism believes that we can get out through a special kind of knowledge. That was a mystical knowledge in earlier times, but later on that got attached to science. Some people would claim that Gnosticism can’t be reconciled with science, but on the contrary — it’s very strong in scientific thinking. […] The prevalent thinking is: we’ve discovered we’re trapped in our bodies, so what human beings really are is minds. The way out of that dark cosmos under whose laws we stand, which force us to work, which force us to age and to die, is to acquire a special kind of knowledge. Then we would no longer be enslaved by matter. That is Gnosticism in a nutshell. But Gnosticism, even in its pre-scientific forms, is a radical error. […] It is an almost purely paranoid religion. Monotheism is also paranoid because anything that happens is known to God — everything has meaning. By paranoia I mean the discovery — or, rather, the invention — of meaning where it doesn’t exist. It is the perception of meaning where it is not.

(For someone who attaches themselves to the ‘negative capability’ of doubt, he seems peculiarly certain about what this syndrome means, and where meaning ends.)

Quotable (#55)

Michael Vassar (from 2004) is quoted at length at Less Wrong, on the problems of Friendly AI, a snippet:

If you can’t make people change, and you can’t make an AI, what can you do to avoid being killed? As I said, I don’t know. It’s a good bet that money would help …

(The whole piece is a gem, although he rejects the “go raving blithering Cthulhu-worshiping mad and try to build an artificial intelligence” option, for reasons I’m not entirely clear about.)

Twitter cuts (#26)

The tweet stream begins from this (I think). Its progression is enthralling:

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Quotable (#48)

Some semi-random snippets from the (truly) extraordinary Autophagiography:

… (for some reason the keyboard of my phone predicted ignorance with capital I after divine — this intelligence knows better sometimes) … (37-8)

The ‘now’ does not coincide with itself. (52)

Humans are led to thinking that thinking itself is inhuman. And by the same thinking they are led to thinking that they themselves are inhuman. It shows that thinking is at place in humans while utterly displaced, so that when humans think thinking they are thinking horror through being nothing and when thinking thinks humans it is thinking nothing through being horror. (55)

Salvation is the sheer non-existence of anyone in need of saving. (62)

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