Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Madman

Have you heard this tale, about the madman? As in all stories there can be found some truth, as well as some fiction. The fiction is that there is only one man. There is more than one of these madmen; they just seem to all be so similar. They all run into the villages, carrying their unlit lantern, crying “I have God, I have God!” What is his proof? He has the lantern, and it is lit because of the deity, that through this light comes the light to see what it good and evil, what is right and wrong, and, moreover, happiness because of the beauty of the light.

Many have claimed this light, many claim the light now, and probably many more will. That light has been called by many names: Zoroaster, Mohammad, Buddha, Jesus, and so many other permutations; so many exist that one could recreate all of the constellations in the sky, the Moon, the Sun, and the planets, and still have enough luminous power to see without any of the heavenly lights at all. With all of these light-bearers, isn’t it odd that you have not seen all of these lights? If fact, can you honestly see any of them at all?

One of the madmen will come to you and he will wave that lantern about, hoping that you will see the light he possesses so you know that he has the true God on his side. But like any madman, he cannot stand still, he cannot slow the pace, he cannot give you the moment to push off his antics by unanchored thought. Ask him to stop for a moment and let you see that light; he moves it about so quickly one cannot be sure if you saw that light or only thought you did. See if you can pin him for a moment to see his light, to see his morality that he claims to be so great, his spirit that is so unconquerable. Try and get close and watch the madman squirm; do not get too close, for that great good is also a great blunt beacon. Why does he not stand still? Why can we not look into the light?

And like all madmen, he has his excuses. “How can you think there is not a light here? How can you deny this thing? Are you questioning that there is good in the world?” Of course, you must be accused before your mouth can open, for otherwise you could question, you could seriously learn. But in the past, there have been some great wrestlers, and they have taken the lantern and found no light at all inside. The better lanterns actually reflect, not create or act as the source, of the light, and are only as bright as the luminous being are around.

How can this be? When the madman comes to your town, he will know about these failed charlatans. He will claim that they did not really have the light, that they were the few that only pretend to in fact have God. How can you tell if this person has the lantern that actually contains the light at all? Some will watch the madman and say that his lantern is also without light at all; some will even say that instead of creating light, this lantern absorbs, it darkens. The madman will retort “without this light, how can you say what is and is not bright, or what is or is not good?” Let the daemon inside allow you to ask “do you know that the lantern is bright because you say it is so, or do you say so because you know it is bright?” Euthyphro could not answer, nor can anyone, without realizing that we do not need the madman or his torch. For if the lantern of the madman was what determined what brightness was, what are we supposed to do about the next madman, with his own lantern, claiming all the same? How can we judge who has the true light if in fact it is the lantern that determines brightness? Shall we continue to believe these things in circles, or shall we look up and find that there is another source, one that anyone with eyes can see, that can be seen without these flimflam fires, and it is just above us all?

And what is the irony of this tale, for no tale is worth reading without a twist? As others have seen, that lantern is a reflector, it only directs light from another source; it cannot produce its own. It never has. It never could. It never will. And its own brightness has always depended on those sources around it. At one time, when we were all deep in the foul depths of the cave, light was scarce, tenuous, and never concentrated well enough to see before ourselves as we walked in the darkness. The lantern was the only object that was found as we groped the sides of the cavern, and we all became moths, even to the point that the lantern burned some.

Yet, somehow, someone stopped looking only at that lantern, and discovered other sources of light. The eye of the mind was able to peer deep into the outer reaches of the cave, and soon new illumination was discovered. With time, new torches were built, and the cave became easier to navigate.

But what is the irony, you ask? The lantern-bearer has two hands. One holds the light, which begins to become rather dim in comparison to these new torches; in the other, is the pale, filled with icy-cold water. Those new torches are extinguished as best he can, ensuring that his light is the only one, even though his own lantern becomes brighter. Some of these madmen will make adjustments to their lanterns so that they can claim that, even though these other lights do exist, because his light reflects theirs, his light becomes the only one that can see certain parts of the cave. Only with the better reflector can he possibly be visible next to the stars that are born about him.

You can imagine that when some of these new torch-makers claim we no longer need that lantern, that in fact it has led us astray, the madman will retort “if you deny my light, how can you possibly see? There are some things you will never see without my light to show that path. Where is the light that will replace mine?” Why must I follow the path you lay out when your light is so faint, when all that it has comes from the light of others, and that are lights have become bright enough that, all combined, we can see the same path as the madmen’s, plus so many more. And why only have this one lantern for those paths when so many other torches have been lit?

Now the madmen are running, nay, chasing these new lights, and they are loosing their step. Perhaps some will drop those lanterns and they will find that the there was no change at all. What is true is that many of these lanterns have been broken; they cover the ground, leaving their shattered shards to harm those that walk through, especially when the madman picks up these broken lamps and acts as the messenger again, believing all is good even when he bleeds.

One day, there shall be enough be torches to see the corpses made by these lanterns, the broken idols that they always were, and they fill be cleared from the ground. But today, we must be careful, for we still are deep in the cave as still know not what we do with these bodies; the shards remain to continue the cause death by those unfortunate to come too close. With enough of these torches, one day we can become children of light, and when we look into the old reflectors, we will see ourselves and know that was have become the light, the gods preached before, that we now poses the good, the true, the spiritual. Instead of searching, we can produce our own Pleroma, our own seventh heaven, but it will require as many lights as there are stars. Our magnified gazes show us billions upon billions are to be needed, which leads us to the final question:

Do you have a match?

For reference, one should be well-read in their Plato, Voltaire, Nietzsche, and modern secular writers to best understand the above.

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