On Metaphysics

Metaphysics has a long and illustrious history in western thinking. From Aristotle to Hume (who mistrusted metaphysics), men have been asking pertinent questions about the state of being. What are the origins of the universe? The first causes? The defining principles? Although there is a religious branch to metaphysical inquiry, much of it is philosophical, i.e. dialectic.

What happens when a genre of fiction takes on the descriptor “metaphysical”? One would expect that a book taking on such a label would delve into the philosophical nature of being, that it would wrestle with philosophical ideas through characters and their story problems that get the audience thinking at least about the probing questions of science. After all, the term was originally coined for some of Aristotle’s writings, and it was a term denoting a method of organization. The word literally means “after physics” — that is, these were the writings that literally came after the ones on physics. However, the term has evolved over the centuries to denote a level of inquiry that is figuratively beyond physics. So one would expect that, further, metaphysical fiction would be about the spiritual or immaterial reality that can’t quite be grasped by what we know of as the scientific method.

What happens when an uneducated populace writes and publishes and slaps the Amazon descriptor “metaphysical” on their books all by themselves? You end up with books that probe neither nature, nor that which is immaterial. Rather, the term gets tipped on its head by any definition: you get werewolves (which do not exist according to any scientific inquiry that I know of) having erotic sex with gorgeous heroines (you can’t get any more material than that).

Yesterday, I felt a little uneasy that my book was #1 in metaphysical, as I now expect to either get scathing reviews by readers who expected sex with animals, or to be ignored altogether and deleted from respective Kindles. But then I started laughing at the absurdity of it all and began pondering the above. I do not, by any measure, consider myself a better writer than those writing werewolf fantasies. Nor do I consider my book(s) to be masterpieces. I have no literary pretensions (just educative ones: see following). But what is fairly obvious is that I’m better educated than those slapping the term “metaphysics” on their books. Either that, or they are shysters taking advantage of an uneducated populace. Whatever way you want it, the philosophical bedrock of western civilization is groaning in horror beneath us.

For the record, as I was looking through the free books in the metaphysical section, I downloaded a couple of titles that actually appear to be what they claim. It seems I unwittingly helped push my book to #2 by downloading one called Robots Like Blue, by one Anthony J. Deeney, but I don’t care. At least the werewolves, fairies, and witches are not #1. Here’s a hint: if your book is all about fantasy creatures and does not delve into the immaterial or scientific reality of the universe, then it is fantasy or paranormal. If your book is, say, like Mike Duran’s The Ghost Box, and contains both magical creatures and a deep look at the nature of reality, then it could be all of the above. Okay, I’m done being a snot now. Carry on, world. Carry on.


Reminder: Books Free Until Friday, Oct. 9

This is just a short reminder that you can download both my books for free until Friday. As expected, I had hundreds of downloads on Monday for Anna and the Dragon and ten times fewer for The Jaybird’s Nest and other stories. Downloads have petered out since then, but Anna and the Dragon is still #1 in metaphysical. I’m a little disappointed by the lack of interest in The Jaybird’s Nest and other stories, as that book is more where I’m at mentally these days (albeit, some of the stories are still not all that new). Ah, well. How can a group of short stories with a dying bird on the cover compete with a novel with a naked girl on the cover?



Facebook, the Roseburg Tragedy, and the Endless Memes of Destruction

I’ll just start right off by admitting that I’m tired of being rejected on Facebook. It’s been happening with frightening intensity lately, which is, perhaps, a topic for another time; I speak an opinion or — better yet — apply logic to a topic, and suddenly I’m blocked and defriended. Even though I don’t employ emotions in my argumentation and tend toward stoicism, I still feel emotions. I feel the sting of rejection, and it doesn’t get better over time. It hurts. I don’t like it.

All that is a preface to say that one of the latest defriending episodes occurred because an author friend took people to task for posting memes with children and guns right after the Roseburg incident. She asked, apparently rhetorically, why anybody would make such an insensitive and, in her opinion, ill-timed statement on the shooting.

I responded, “Because they have the warrior spirit.” I also suggested that she may be the one lacking tact because she admittedly didn’t understand why anyone would post such a thing. Empathy brings us understanding and understanding brings about tact — “tact” being defined here as responding in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time; her statements suggested she had no understanding in the first place.

As most disingenuous people do, she quickly took the conversation to private messaging, where she showed me one of the horrible memes she was talking about. It pictured what appeared to be a happy-looking boy in camo gear, holding rifles. He looked like he was about to go hunting with his dad. Going purely off rhetoric, this kind of meme is especially appropriate to the circumstances, as almost every one of these shooters has been a disenfranchised male from a broken home, with a history of emotional/mental issues and drug use (prescription or otherwise). In other words, these are not men who had happy childhoods where they had healthy interactions with their fathers. I told her that the nation was “getting off” on the constant mourning cycle we were being led into by the media, which prevented us from responding to the actual issues: disenfranchisement, broken homes, mental health issues, drug use. Needless to say, she decided I was the one who lacked empathy and quickly defriended me.

I’ll admit that most people have lost all touch with the kind of father-son-hunting-bonding the meme pointed to, but — BUT — people in Roseburg, OR, haven’t. How do I know? I lived there. I lived in Roseburg, Medford, the Applegate, and North Bend/Coos Bay. I’m in touch with that subculture. I know what it’s like. If this woman had remained my friend instead of emotionally shutting down, I could have taught her something she didn’t know. Rather than being half-cocked crazy militia types as David Brin describes them in his otherwise wonderful novel The Postman, the people in that culture are (mostly) just salt-of-the-earth types who like to hunt and fish. A great majority of them have gun cabinets filled with various weaponry. And they aren’t crazy. Yes, there are crazies who exist there, just as there are crazies coming out of every subculture. But the shooter wasn’t of that subculture in the remotest sense; he was from England and then California. In other words, the people in Roseburg are of the same ilk who are posting memes this woman found so offensive.

That’s the big irony. They would be irritated with her for tsk-tsking them with her sense of morality. In the end, she’s the type to defriend those who speak out against her script and seek to disrupt her hunkering-down narrative, which means her world is the one that will be diminished. So let her diminish her own world, mourn, post memes of candlelight vigils. Personally, I’d rather allow those who lost loved ones to mourn, because it’s my opinion that the rest of us should be fighting back against the actual causes of mass shootings. In a way, we’re a part of a culture war. Do you think soldiers involved in active warfare pause to hold candlelight vigils? I’ve never been a soldier, but I rather doubt it.


Book Promotion and Blurb For Future Instinct

Both my books will be free next week, Monday, Oct 5th-Friday, Oct 9th. Anna and the Dragon is a metaphysical soul journey about a woman whose soulmate won’t stay put. The Jaybird’s Nest and other stories is a compilation of metaphysical, quirky, and absurd tales. The stories in the aforementioned volume bridge the gap between Anna and the Dragon and the book I will soon be publishing, which has the working title of Future Instinct. Following is the blurb. Yes, I just wrote the blurb. It’s a first draft. If you have any suggestions, let me know. I — and my books — are a work in progress.

Oso is a man who was born with advanced cognition, allowing him to experience memories of the future. He learns the hard way that these memories are too erratic to rely on, when he becomes unwittingly responsible for the death of an old woman and the subsequent trauma-induced memory loss of her live-in daughter. Over the years, he learns to hone his future memories so that he is always one step ahead of his competitors in his chosen business of biotech. His ultimate business goal is in the creation of an advanced hippocampus, which he markets in a tangible way, through androids juiced up with a primitive brain stem. But for all his worldly successes, his only goal is to rectify the wrongs of the past. He wants to make his hippocampus available on a more personal level, for humans — and especially for one particular human. With all his Future Instinct, you’d think he’d be able to perceive the long-term consequences of his actions. Having an instinct for the future, though, takes more than one man’s advanced mind.**

**As I edit this, I’ll probably add a sentence explaining that it’s dark comedy with a light heart and placing it in a genre category (which I forgot to do here). ‘Dark comedy with a light heart’ makes sense, doesn’t it? In any case, I have to work today, but I hope to come home to AT LEAST some Facebook comments responding to my blurb. No pressure or anything.


Party Affiliation and IQ

Friend Jay DiNitto left a comment on my previous post having to do with a correlation (or stereotype) between high IQ and liberalism. This got me thinking. Is this notion actually true, or is it the end result of the bias of social scientists? Well, all right, that question was intentionally dishonest and dichotomous. I decided to accept the idea as such that liberals are, on average, more intelligent than conservatives. After all, they seem to control our institutions of higher learning. They couldn’t attain this without some manner of working intelligence.

And so I theorized that the average conservative is more inclined toward whatever the status quo happens to be, while the average liberal is more inclined to question the status quo. This might give liberals a slight lead over conservatives. Questioning is a form of active intelligence. Neither position — in the average person — is a sign of great intelligence, though, to be honest. Merely clinging to the status quo, however good or bad, is easy, but it isn’t necessarily what is good for society. Conversely, burning down the status quo with no thought to the consequences is not necessarily good for society — and I’m sorry if this is an offensive observation, but that is what the average liberal does. In neither case is the “average” person very forward looking, examining potential consequences, etc.

If I were to connect this post to the last one, which was a very simplistic look at the correlation between Myers-Briggs personality types and political affiliation, I would have to add that the most intelligent personality types (the ones that lend themselves to genius) are going to fall in the N (iNtuitive) T (Thinking) realm; and I’m not just saying that because I happen to fit into the NT behavioral spectrum (okay, who isn’t biased?). It is only that the behavior spectrum is more inclined to produce creative as well as rational thinkers. The entire group are, oddly (or not), independent and conservative thinkers. That is, they are anything but liberal as we understand liberalism today.

But hang on. What the hell does it mean to be liberal in the good ol’ USA these days? I would consider myself a classical liberal, but that is not what is known as a liberal these days. In my search for answers, I stumbled on this article: Are Conservatives Dumber Than Liberals? The article highlights some studies that discovered a fascinating phenomenon — namely, that Republicans have higher measurable IQ than do Democrats because classical liberals tend to be Republicans if they are going to go with one of the two parties. And classical liberals (de-regulation folks, who are also commonly libertarians) have higher average IQs than social conservatives, right up there with … social liberals.

After having thought this through for a while, I had to laugh at the entire business. Is it any surprise that an intelligence measurement like IQ, that sprang from a society that began as classically liberal before it headed into the waters of social progressive thinking, would support the thinking of, er, classical liberals and social progressives? It is also not lost on me that IQ was created to support the status quo, which is, after all, a conservative ideal.

So let’s put all this nonsense behind us. True intelligence is based off a number of factors, and I would conjecture — no doubt due to my personality type — that those people who are able to consider future consequences of today’s actions, policies, and politicians demonstrate the highest level of cognitive ability. But as the saying goes, a prophet is never recognized in his homeland, which could also be broadened to and not in his own time, either. Some people will recognize truth, and it will resonate in the human soul that isn’t closed off to the sun, but for many, the truth doesn’t become apparent until it’s too late.