Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Manachaeism: an idea whose time has passed?

Manachaeism – Dualistic cosmology proposing the earth is a battleground for the war between good (spiritual) versus evil (material).

Am I alone here in thinking it's time to give up the mind/body split and realize we are fragile animals? In other apocalyptic movie news, Denzel (No, No! Not Denzel!) is playing a guy who wanders around quoting scripture and offing evil dudes (such as Gary Oldman - I've never trusted that guy since he played Count Dracula) in Book of Eli, the advertisements for which counsel us to "Believe in Hope". Maybe hope is like a really big gun. And vaguely related, I find it piquant that Mel Gibson is appearing in a film called "Edge of Darkness", cause dude, I think you're soaking in it.

Frequently I like what this passionately reasonable man has to say about extremes of righteousness and the embrace of same.

25 comments:

Totalfeckineejit said...

Only the crack in the pavement makes any sense to me.Don't walk on it.

grrl + dog said...

hey I've had a huge Gary Oldman crush since Dracula and before... Gary can do no wrong!

As for Mel, well.... he's the aussie version of tom cruise...

Mark R. Turner said...

In the effort to get peace through control people began dividing everything including themselves into compartments and forgot that we are a unified, integrated whole. Much of the problems of the world stem from trying to live compartmentalized. Thank you for reminding us. Please see my metaphoric picture at http://artingle.blogspot.com

Don said...

Fragile animals - I like that.

Eva said...

"Believe in hope"! That makes me lose courage. "Cherish an illusion!" - "Fear your fear!" - "Take a picture of a photograph!"
But this is what we do all the time when living in a digital world.

Dominic Rivron said...

You are not alone in thinking that. (I don't consider myself a Buddhist, but I am forever dibbing into this book, which I accidentally bought as a teenager).

Poet in Residence said...

Manachaeism. I tried to look it up but I couldn't find it in Webster's Comprehensive or the normally reliable Concise Wordsworth. It's an unusual and rare word then, but for an old idea. Is there perhaps another more familiar word we can use? I can't think of one off the top of my head.

The scriptures are engraved on gun barrels, or so I've been reading. Is this true?

The baroque churches and the Roman cathedrals are crammed with long bearded, golden-haloed sword-wielding 'saints'.

A big gun is a phalic symbol. The hope. The path to sainthood.

We pray before we drop the atom bomb.

Maniacism, I think we can call it.

Steve said...

Fragile animals who only infrequently acknowledge the fragility of the other animals we share the world with...

Adam said...

Nice observations and good questions to which I have no satisfactory answers!

Rick said...

I tend to think that "nature" is nothing more than what "is," so I think I'm in general agreement with you re: mind/body. In a purely physical universe, though, free will becomes problematic.

Should we be good Stoics, or let ourselves go to nihilism?

"Believe in Hope"? I have no idea about this movie, but I just had an image of it being an allegory for Obama and Wall St.!

Charles Gramlich said...

I kind of want to see book of eli. I like post apoc stuff. working on a book like that myself now.

ArtSparker said...

Eva - that, or "Hope for Belief!" Don't just stand there, have a grandiose yet fuzzy emotion of some sort.

ArtSparker said...

Dominic - I am going to do a post on the Seven Samurai, in reference to your link. Toshiro Mifune's performance may be the greatest cinematic performance ever - he's both demonic and an everyman. And, he sure doesn't look or act like a samurai - although he ends up schooling the dignified old Samurai on when it is important to "leave your post".

ArtSparker said...

PR - I have read the scriptures on gun barrels report on The Dish, which seems pretty scrupulous in its reporting (except when the person on charge has been too long between Rickrolls).

ArtSparker said...

Rick - Hmm, you're hopscotching ahead there, that is, I am no more religious than are you, but there are religions that advocate kindness and connection over killing evil guys. Some forms of Christianity (although I personally don't believe a divine being observing All of This) try to follow through on the original teachings of Jesus. But, possibly I am talking about more about how we live rather than a more abstracted overview. It's this creeping conspiracy-of-the-bad-guys post-modern Gnosticism, ubiquitous these days, that seems to trumpet the triumph of the repitilian brain. That's what I find disturbing.

ArtSparker said...

Charles - I like post-apocalyptic stuff too. However, this whole suborning the dominant myth of Western Culture for purposes of entertainment makes me uneasy. I suspect the entertainment may serve as a kind of conversion experience to a Good (Handsome) guy we identify with =justified violence.

In all honesty, I don't like big noisy movies all that much, I have to admit.

Clowncar said...

@eva - very funny, very perceptive.

It's disquieting how in Hollywood the guy fighting for justice and peace always does so with a great big gun.

Crazy Mel, before he got into the biblical apocalypse biz, actually made an excellent, utterly amoral movie called Payback once. Based on an equally amoral Richard Stark book.

Bungy32 said...

Okay, confession time (or am I in the wrong denomination for that?):

I saw "Legion." Something about the idea that Angels (most of them, anyway) were charged with destroying humanity appealed to me. Or maybe it was the tagline: "God is tired of your bulls#!t." Amen, sister!

Of course, it was an awful movie and I don't recommend it to anyone (not even on DVD). But there was one shining moment in it that I carry with me (spoiler alert): When the renegade angel, Michael, is asked why he isn't with the other angels in the mission to purge the Earth, he goes on about how despite all the ugliness in humanity, some of us still persevere with hope and goodness. Some of us try to care for one another, despite the cost to ourselves. At a time (remember last week???) when I was kind of despairing of any good in the world, it was nice to hear in one brief moment in an otherwise crappy movie a message I think I needed to hear.

I am not a particularly religious person. My "faith" is amorphous at best and shifts traditions regularly. But I do believe in listening to the universe. Whether it's the universe talking or my (our) incessant need to find patterns in the random doesn't really matter. The messages come in odd places -- babbling brooks, burning bushes, breath, subway posters next to sidewalk cracks, and sometimes (why not?) a single moment in an otherwise not very good film

Your found image here is beautiful and I love the annotations. And yes, oh yes, let us continue to challenge and move beyond reductive dualisms.

ArtSparker said...

Bungy - I'll buy that, plus, bonus, I don't have to see the movie. Thanks for that thoughtful comment.

Poet in Residence said...

Bungy 32, I'm inspired by your comment. I will blog.

ArtSparker said...

I just want to say...

Chuffed by the interchanges here.

Poet in Residence said...

Bungy 32, It's done in record time. It's called The Roman Coin.

ArtSparker said...

grrl - see also under The Who's "Behind blue eyes".

He, it's the Anglos that are causing all the trouble...

Dominic Rivron said...

A great film! I can still see that row of mounds, each with a sword stuck in the top.

Fresca said...

Ooh,, what a fun bunch of comments! Who knew Manichaeism was such a hot topic!

Can't wait to read what you have to say about "Seven Samurai" Susan!

After being so disappointed in "Avatar,"
I got thinking about movies about warriors that do the subject justice,
and I thought of "Seven Samurai":

the warrior, in proper balance, serves society;
out of balance, society serves the warrior.