Capitalism is God’s Will and the Cat Drank all the Milk: How our Language Creates our Biggest Problems and Why We Can’t do Anything about It

Language

I have a confession to make, one that a good number of readers will find disgusting and emetic and prevent many of them from reading further. Others, however, might relate or find it interesting regardless, and so those people will continue to read, which, I suppose, is good enough for me. You see, when I was a child, from a very early age, probably as early as I can remember, I felt all around me the “Presence of God.” It was and is, in all actuality, an impossible feeling to properly describe, but I suppose to some extent that I could say that I felt some sort of “immanent-transcendent energy” “flowing” through me and through my surroundings. Having lived in a rural area hours away in any direction from something resembling civilization, many of my childhood memories consist of me sitting in the backseat of a Toyota 4Runner driving somewhere else, usually toward civilization somewhere. And I remember looking out at the mountains, at the trees, at the desert, at whatever should be passing by my window, and feeling an innate, primordial connection with all of it. I identified with the entire world. Of course I wouldn’t have used those terms, exactly, but in retrospect, I think that’s the best I can explain it with my limited talent in this area.

Anyhow, as I got old enough and more finely initiated enough in our lovely American culture, the language I would eventually come to use was, “I can feel God’s presence.” Again, looking at it in retrospect, I, myself, felt divine, in a sense, as if I was part of something so vast and inconceivable and great, not separate from it. Yet, whenever someone spoke to me about Gahd, I didn’t recognize what they were speaking about from my own experiences. They spoke about Gahd as something far away, distant, judgmental, even rude. Not all the time. There were some people who presented Gahd to me as “loving” and “nurturing” and “merciful” and “forgiving” but these people were far and few in between, and quite frankly consisted primarily of my mother and grandfather, whom I believe probably felt “The Presence of God” to some extent as well. Most people, though, seemed to think Gahd was some dickhead somewhere foisting untold suffering upon his own creations for untold reasons. And when they described this Gahd to me, I couldn’t tell if it was my concept of “God” that was inaccurate, or if it was theirs. (Quite frankly, I didn’t have the self-confidence yet to simply acknowledge that my experience made much more sense to me.)

Nature

As I got older, the traditional definitions and descriptions of Gahd continued to make less and less sense, based on my own experiences. And as I read about Taoism and Zen and various animistic and shamanic traditions, I found that many of the experiences I read or heard about seemed to align to my own experiences much more snugly than all of the horseshit I heard from, well… Christians, mostly.

So the question to a lot of people seems to be: Am I a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic?

It’s a stupid question and when you’ve had certain experiences, an insignificant and superfluous one. However, it’s important to many people–of the utmost importance to many. A lot of people care about this kind of question. Others care a lot about whether I’m a “patriot” or not, or a “liberal” or a “conservative.” People care profoundly to know whether I’m in favor of “free-market capitalism” or if I’m a “socialist.” And so on. People really, truly, deeply care about labels.

This is nothing new, of course. I think a lot of us know this, and a lot of us think this kind of behavior and outlook is ridiculously silly. Nevertheless, as I get older, I realize that what people care most about are about those things they know jack shit about. The less somebody knows about something, the more they care about it.

Mr. Furious

Mr. Furious

Mr. Furious lives in rural southern Colorado and tries to live as boring, apathetic and lazy a life as possible. He is hoping one day to be invited to do a "Life Class" for "Super Soul Sundays" on the Oprah Winfrey Network. You can read his short fiction, poetry and short essays at www.puerileandpointless.blogspot.com. He wrote a really stupid novel called " Puerile and Pointless with no Hope for Enlightenment" that you can purchase at Amazon and waste your time with. He can be contacted and/or harassed at misterfurious1@yahoo.com.
Mr. Furious
  • BuzzCoastin

    all doctrines are developed expost facto
    it wasn’t that someone dreamed up Kapitalizm
    and then everyone began to play the game
    rather
    money created behaviors known as Capitalism
    and then people used language to describe these effects
    and then pretended to be in control of the game show
    when in fact
    money plays the tune Kapitalists dance to

  • Jim

    Capitalism came in during the Black Plague. That plague wiped out half the population in Europe and elsewhere. Capitalism helped to revive the economies. I do not think Capitalism is the problem, it’s human nature which seems to be doomed to repeat that same behaviours of Greed, Malice, etc… History shows that communism was just as corrupt and backwards.

    • trompe l’oeil

      I have the plague to thank for both my apothecary employment and the wonders of Capitalism? There is a God!!

  • Chaos_Dynamics

    Capitalism created god.

    • BuzzCoastin

      if Das Capitalism didn’t exist
      money’d have to invent it
      god

  • John Titor

    slave trade was the capital in capitalism

    • Earthstar

      In that case capitalism goes way, way back.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    Capitalist or not, if God drops his wallet in front of me, he’d better kick it all the way home before he bends over to pick it up.

  • Andi Arbeit

    Oh it is worse than that. And don’t take this personal, no offense.

    Try to explain to an english speaker a word, that this simple and — well — descriptive language is just not capable of. Fnord. It’s like telling your cat the difference between desk and a box of cardboard.

    Especially when it comes to culture ad philosophy like the old greeks used to have and do, native english speakers instead often tend to set money as a kind of gold standard in every living discipline, and then there isn’t much more left in cultural diversity than Toast, Winchester Cathedral, Shakespeare and Haendel (who in fact is a german immigrant).

    Speaking about german immigrants, it could be Denmark and northern germans fault, that there has never been significant culture until today: When they entered the island, known as Huns and Vikings, and founded England, they brought not much eating culture, philosophy or architecture – except how to sail a ship and invade countries, make war, slaves and fun out of everything.

    • Earthstar

      You know nothing about Huns, Vikings or England

      • BuzzCoastin

        he asked you not to take offence the first line
        really, some of that made sense?

        • Andi Arbeit

          I had a good laugh but have to apologize, my sense of humor is sometimes a little hard to get whithout seeing me in person :)

          That being said I have to admit while there is a true core in some of the BS that I have written, it was more the humorous momentum of saying ‘no offense’ followed by a bitchslap.

          Think about a monthy python scene 😀

  • EFinley

    Bravo on the essay, Mr. Furious. I don’t think I’ve ever read an essay before that managed to make me laugh while simultaneously capturing the profound alienation that one experiences in communication with others after one acknowledges the limitations of language that Wittgenstein made famous. Trying to translate the ideas of one language game in to the language of another language game, that is, attempting to communicate between two people participating in different language games, is generally a thankless and low yield task. As Kanye West says, “You can’t tell me nothing”, if we don’t play the same language game and if you don’t realize that truth and knowledge largely exist only within the confines of a given language game. People who acknowledge this are generally a blast to talk with, but they are few and far between in my experience. Anyway, keep up the good work and hopefully your message will manage to avoid being lost in translation in its passage from your mind to the mind of the reader.

  • emperorreagan

    I really like this series of essays.

    • thisbliss

      Yep and I would enjoy the other essay mr furious is thinking of writing. Good job. Reminds me of another disinfo article – importance of being apathetic – which thinking about it may have been the same author. Summed up – too many waste time and energy concerning themselves with worthless shit.

  • HowardBrazee

    God’s will has since Creation to push the values that I kind of have. Certainly not the values my grandparents have, and tragically not the values my grandchildren have. My values are so obviously Right, that it would be denying God to have different values. At least the values that I give lip service to.

  • thisbliss

    Would’ve loved to have even just a single class on this subject in school

    • BuzzCoastin

      your regular attendance
      was lesson #1
      the hard work in pursuit of intangible grades
      was lesson #2

      • Earthstar

        conversion of your all dreams into credit cards
        was the final exam

      • thisbliss

        Jokes on them tho, I never listened in class was too busy picturing the teacher in the nude

        • BuzzCoastin

          those who have aptitude & can conform
          get to move into serving the elites
          the less diligent get trapped in Gulag Das Kapital
          a few bypass the script

  • trompe l’oeil

    I’ll say this, Wittgenstein is almost impenetrable, unless you read Watts. But that’s more subjective than objective. As for Capitalism, God’s will and kittens drinking milk. I feel this essay rings true on one of the main entrapment’s of language that I often try to explain to people, specifically those who wholeheartedly believe in the bible. That the only ‘Word of God’ is the word ‘ineffable’, everything else is an unfortunately influential translation by man, of something that is both all harmonies, music, chaos and silence simultaneously. I have no proof to back up the latter, but I have dreams that describe its intricacies.

    • Earthstar

      Except that we are, all of us, God. And our words are the words of God, or gods; baby gods who babble too much and don’t realize how much their inane words and thoughts fuck up the bigger works of the older, more experienced minds. And the bible is true, all the religious books are true, because we wrote them. Our words. Gods words. The true because they are histories of people (baby larvae gods) discovering divinity.

      • trompe l’oeil

        It’s still not the Tao if it can be spoken of or written. While I agree with your sentiment to a degree, it’s still the difference between physically seeing an omni-directional, multifaceted, rainbow lattice and writing about its glory.

      • BuzzCoastin

        define God

        I doubt wee are God
        butt clearly
        wee are gods
        the way Mayflies are gods
        a moment of awarness after eons in the void

        • ESP

          god is the one who puts yer socks on in the mornin…..hope this helps ye find him! 😉 x

      • Andrew

        God is an asshole.

  • Earthstar

    I think God, the universe or what ever is pretty chill. All the small-g gods and goddesses I’ve met so far have been pretty helpful and quite reasonable. Sure there are some assuras and devils and such that can be pretty dickish, but that’s kind of what you expect anyhow, and they’re leaning to do better, just like us! So love yourself because the universe loves you, and love the world, because you love yourself.

  • terrasodium

    legislators and lawyers have a special material love for the undefined terms of the apathetic , they do lay claim to judge and determine the will (free or otherwise) of the under defined language games and that is the tabla rosa that wrights the checks that pay for the gated communites ,football team jerseys, and asian massages when Mr. Smith goes to Washington.

  • drokhole

    Had a long-winded reply all set out, but it was retreading a lot of the material that you already covered and knocked out of the park. Mainly wanted to mention some words I try to keep in mind from Alan Watts when interacting with the world and confronting my own particular perspective/language filter/word-map:

    “Don’t let words limit the possibilities of life.”

    And, it goes without saying, not only the words themselves, but the “definitions” (and cultural and personal associations) of/with those words. Really, Watts’ statement itself can be parsed and qualified to high hell, so I’ll just leave it at that.

    And when it comes to the language game of the sciences, I sometimes remind myself of this quote from Stanislov Grof:

    “Astronomy is not the study of stars, it is the study of the human experience of what we call ‘stars.’ Bacteriology is not the study of microbes, it’s the study of the human experience we call ‘microbes.'”

    Sure, it might not help to keep a plane in the air or develop the latest techno-widget, but it’s important to realize when we make assertions to the nature of any kind of “objective” reality. And it kind of gets into the Korzybskian area that you hinted at, which is another rabbit-hole altogether, but I’ve found it to be another handy mental check when contemplating most things deeply.

    And, on a somewhat ancillary note (but in addressing one of my favorite parts of the essay):

    To Know That You Are God
    http://youtu.be/KL_qMeDv9rA

    Also, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend David Bentley Hart’s latest book:

    The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Experience-God-Being-Consciousness/dp/0300166842

    For my money, one of the best philosophical works to be written in the past few years in general. Similar themes in both addressing the idea/”sensing” of God, and the importance of defining our terms (both in that particular discussion and beyond).

    • drokhole

      Also worth mentioning, when it comes to the importance/influence of language and metaphor on shaping our worldly perspective/perceptions (and how that metaphor itself is rooted in the nature of the body and common bodily experiences), I recommend checking out the work of cognitive scientist George Lakoff (starting with the first book he co-authored with Mark Johnson, “The Metaphors We Live By”). One interesting study in the field demonstrates how the words used to describe a situation/issue/problem shapes how people think about and respond to it (in this case, when the language used to describe crime in a city was like that of a disease/virus, or a violent beast):

      This study shows how a good metaphor can change the world
      http://io9.com/this-study-shows-how-a-good-metaphor-can-change-the-wor-1482482320

      But, yeah, goes to show how the words we use – explicitly and implicitly – shape and govern our opinions/experiences/beliefs/decisions about a thing, with the trick being to bring those unconscious symbolic/conceptual maps and thought processes to conscious light/awareness…even though that in an of itself doesn’t guarantee access to better judgement, lack of error, or a more informed/enlightened view… Anyway, this really is such a huge topic, and the surface has barely been scratched, and blah blah blah… Here’s a lecture from Lakoff:

      http://youtu.be/XWYaoAoijdQ

  • Tyrhonius

    Of course there are “concrete-thing” fundamentalists! Try working as an editor and having a supervisor who believes Chicago is holy writ and that AP guidebooks are best used as toilet paper! In this case, there is NO DISAGREEMENT whatsoever about the facts of the matter. Thus, the level of ambiguity of a particular issue is irrelevant to whether that issue gains a fanatical following or not.

    This could actually happen! Lol…http://www.theonion.com/articles/4-copy-editors-killed-in-ongoing-ap-style-chicago,30806/

  • Eric Mcoo

    Some call it genocide. This is the result of members of a former penal colony taking
    control of an entire continent. Even Jefferson was an out and out crook.

    http://xenophongroup.com/mcjoynt/ros6-2e.htm

    “However, the 1763 Treaty of Paris removed the French from North America; and might have opened the West for the American colonists, had not George III prevented them from expanding by preserving the trans-Appalachian West for the native Americans.

    This made the colonists angry at the British this time. As the colonial quarrel grew in the late 1760s and 1770s, French authorities were keen observers out of geopolitical rivalry with Great Britain in the region, and in general. Here was an opportunity to get back at Britain by contributing to the break-up of its empire. Such was French anticipation upon their official involvement in the conflict. “

  • Eric Mcoo

    In Britain in the 1960s, there was a relatively benign form of capitalism that gave rise to The Who, Beatles and the mini skirt. Prime Minister Harold Wilson resigned in fear of his life thanks to a plot engineered by the CIA’s James Angleton. Now we have American gangster capitalism worse than the USA.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou.com

    Capitalism is God’s Will may not tell us much about the world itself, but (dis-)agreement with the claim provides a reasonable index of a person’s values.

  • Aram Jahn

    Heady stuff, and thanks, Mr. Furious! As I read I became more and more excited, as these issues get to crux of something I’ve been cathected about for 30 yrs: language/the social world/”Reality”/and the varieties of hypnotic experience.

    I feel it’s our job as Thinker-Types to HACK language. So: Wittgenstein is major and a must. but drokhole’s mention of George Lakoff was much appreciated. (If you can handle it, read Lakoff’s Berkeley colleague Jerome Feldman’s book _From Molecule To Metaphor_; you will not be disappointed.

    Let us triangulate with Korzybski (as nutty as he is in some passages I consider him a Great Missed Opportunity to complement Wittgenstein, but that’s for some other essay); and quadrangulate with Robert Anton Wilson and all those creative intellectual-artists who use pranks/gimmicks to make others realize they might not know as much about what they think they “know” as they…uhhh…think they know.

    All of these writers, in their books, suggest interesting investigative tributaries for the intrepid unattached-to-an-institution thinker. (I love Noam Chomsky as a person, but his linguistics were a Siren song to far far far too many academics, and it’s been an effing disaster, in my opinion.)

    Does there exist a collection of writings by Alan Watts that concentrated on his ideas about language and meaning?

  • Jonas Planck

    God is not proactive. He programmed the universe to roll dice FOR Him so he wouldn’t have to.

  • ESP

    I THINK THE ATTITUDE OF MOST IS THAT OF DEFEAT…..WHICH IS STRANGE SINCE MOST AINT EVEN STOOD ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET WITHOUT THE SYSTEM TO PROP THEM UP…… HUGS X