UFO Conjectures

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Moby Dick and the Simulation of Reality

Copyright 2019, InterAmerica, Inc.

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is, for me, the great American novel, and maybe the greatest novel of all time, as I often wrote in college and in my blogs over the years.

It explained for me the nature of God and/or reality.

Melville told his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne that he (Melville) had written a “wicked” book:

Over the years I came to understand Melville’s whale as a representation of the Gnostic god, the demi-urgos, whether he meant it that way or not I didn’t know, and still don’t.

But, like Plato’s allegory of the cave, Melville hit upon, intuitively, the real Reality, one that is now being conjectured as a (sometimes computer) simulation controlled by a mad super being, or species, one for which we can use the sobriquet God.

Moby Dick is the incarnation of evil, juxtaposed as white in an ironic statement of how God is depicted, errantly by Christians as a good, benevolent God.

Melville makes clear that tracking God (or the Whale) – praying to it, seeking its reality, worshipping it – will bring disaster upon one.

And in the simulated reality, which we are part of or the main players, the gist of the simulation is not utopian or good, overall. We, humanity, are grist for pain and suffering as noted by Kohelet [Qohelet, Qoheleth] in The Bible book Ecclesiastes:

And while there are palpable human glories, the adage/maxim “No good deed goes unpunished” is an inherent truth, Beethoven’s deafness a prime example.

The simulated reality, thought by many as an algorithmic game, may be, as philosophers of all stripes have contended with for millennia, a struggle of good versus evil.

Melville saw the reality as controlled by an evil nature, just as the Gnostics had it and Ecclesiastes suggests.

We humans are fodder for a ubiquitous evil it seems, one from which there is no escape key.



  • Creation is evil; therefore, it's better never to have been born, eh.

    Old, bitter thought, that one, from classical Greece to Schopenhauer to contemporary antinatalism.

    Here's a counterargument: https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/6/5/18617894/repugnant-conclusion-population-growth-philosophy

    One night, Daisetz Suzuki attended a dinner party. At then end of the evening, one guest approached him and asked. "Doctor Suzuki, how can you bear to discuss philosophical matters all night long?"

    He answered, "That's what I like about philosophy: nobody wins!"

    By Blogger Bryan Sentes, at Sunday, June 23, 2019  

  • Ah, Suzuki makes an important point....a lovely man.

    Philosophy has been searching, as you well know, Bryan, for the simulation all along without knowing that they were (or are).


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, June 23, 2019  

  • Well, as long as the appearance/reality problem is taken seriously...and in Hinduism / Buddhism, too (Maya)...but the status of that problematic since Descartes or Anglo-American pragmatism ain't what it used to be...

    By Blogger Bryan Sentes, at Sunday, June 23, 2019  

  • Rich,

    I'm curious about what led you to your essentially Gnostic theology. I have seen mentions of relevant books and intellectuals here and there on this blog. I'm wondering if you've provided a comprehensive statement somewhere or might be willing to do so if you haven't yet.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, June 24, 2019  

  • Matty:

    At this blog and the RRRGroup blog [rrrgroup.blogspot.com], go to the upper left and enter Gnostic in the search box.

    That should bring you a listing of all mentions of Gnostic and related topics.

    (I have a private site where Gnosticism is rife but that site isn't available to persons outside my private circle.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, June 24, 2019  

  • @Bryan - 'Creation' is humanity's 'raison d'etre' and is ultimately what distinguishes us from other sentient creatures, including other intelligent 'higher primates'.

    Ok, apes, crows & other species make tools &/or elaborate constructions to attract potential mates but there's no orang-utan 'Art' or chimp 'Science' (beyond figuring out how best to access food).

    If creation itself is 'Evil' (and I know Bryan's just playing 'Devil's Advocate here) and 'an affront to God' (THE one, 'true' Creator) - as the Shakers, Puritans and others believed, then why on Earth would he/she/it supposedly endow us with this unique capability? (Given of course one accepts the existence of such a Creator-Deity in the first place!)

    I remember in my mid-twenties, I think, accidentally catching half of a late night 'Face to Face' interview - the BBC's short-lived 90s revival of its iconic & often controversial 60s celebrity 'close-up cross-examination' show featuring guests as diverse as comedian Tony Hancock & Professor Carl Jung!

    This edition featured, of all people, zany old-school Liverpudlian comic Ken Dodd - he of the barmy barnet, tombstone teeth & 'tickling stick', friend of the Fab Four and self-proclaimed leader of the 'Diddymen from Knotty Ash'. (Ken was a one-off and a comedic colossus, loved & championed by everyone from traditional variety/vaudeville comics to current alternative stand-up comedians - Google him if you don't know him - his interview with the Beatles is a classic!)

    Anyway, Doddy's 'Philosophy of Life' and key to 'Happiness' (incidentally the title of his 60s hit single that outsold The Beatles & everyone else!) was simple:


    Whether it be painting, gardening, writing, performing, building models or just simply 'organising the local pub darts team' as Doddy suggested - that's the vital, indispensable ingredient that makes for a happier, more fulfilling life.

    It was a revelation to me at the time (although personally I've always made/painted or written things, played instruments, composed music, invented games etc.) and I think he was right. Most of the disaffected, disenchanted and depressed people I've come across have no creative interests or hobbies whatsoever.

    Creation/Creativity is for me, the antithesis of 'Evil' and while I'm of course aware the impulse, like all others, can be channelled towards dark/negative pursuits & objectives, I believe it's humanity's unique & life-affirming birthright, the expression of which is a vital necessity.

    By Blogger DrDee, at Monday, July 01, 2019  

  • @Rich - It always amused me that in many UK Secondary (High) schools, Religious Education (R.E.) classrooms (anathema in the US I know!) often had a print of William Blake's 'The Ancient of Days' on the wall in the mistaken belief that it depicted 'God' creating the Universe.

    What it actually depicts is 'Urizen' from Blake's own self-created 'mythos' - a figure more akin to the Gnostic concept of the 'Demiurge' who mistakenly fashions an imperfect material world through misguided ignorance.

    Oh, the irony... :D

    By Blogger DrDee, at Monday, July 01, 2019  

  • Yes, Dr Dee...

    Blake is often used or seen as affirming the Christian God but, as you note, he had an idea that I like to mimic.

    (My long-ago poetry magazine was entitled "Clod & Pebble" in an homage to Blake, and we, the editors, established a dichotomized group of Clods and Pebbles, with people determining which they were according to our definitions: A Clod will eat Pea soup whereas a Pebble will eat Vichyssoise, A Clod likes Coke whereas a Pebble prefers Pepsi, and so on.

    Not Gnostic exactly but close.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, July 01, 2019  

  • Dr Dee:

    innarestn pun: at first I failed to understand your response: you understand 'creation' to denote 'the capacity to create', while I meant "Creation", the created cosmos or chaosmos, just summing up Rich's gnosticism, which harmonizes with the sentiment, from the Ancient Greeks to Schopenhauer, that's it's better never to have been born, because, following the first noble truth, to be is to suffer.

    As to the lack of creativity in nonhuman animals, I'd have to see what research has been done. Joseph Campbell in his mythology books remarks _some_where great apes have been seen to dance, and I don't mean the way birds or other animals do during mating season, but in communal, playful manner...

    By Blogger Bryan Sentes, at Monday, July 01, 2019  

  • @Bryan Sentes - The 'creation is evil' bit just reminded me of Doddy's 'creation' epiphany and I thought I'd share his simple, life-affirming notion, that's all - no biggy and it probably does more practical good than contemplating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or which particular figment of the unique human imagination is most likely to have 'created the Universe'.

    'Dear God, don't know if you've noticed, but - your name is on a lot of quotes in this Book - well us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look...'

    Were the apes 'dancing' or is that just more anthropomorphic projection of human traits onto possibly unrelated animal behaviour? I think it's much more likely they were engaged in simple 'play' rather than creating their own version of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

    On the 'noble truth' front (and on what objective evidence are they shown to be 'True' as opposed to a subjective belief system?) I, like Austin Osman Spare, am an 'anti-Buddhist'.

    I don't do suffering & misery - our (in all probability) pointless lives are way too short to wallow & indulge in such crap. If your life's an unremitting cycle of misery then yes, there wouldn't seem to be any point in prolonging the agony. However, most forms of physical, mental & emotional pain can be eased, treated or indeed remedied these days so no need to commit ritual disembowelment just yet...

    All We Have Is Now
    Enjoy yourself - it's later than you think.

    By Blogger DrDee, at Tuesday, July 02, 2019  

  • Hey, Doc,

    Just to be clear, right: My initial intervention was a rather wry response to the pessimism of Rich's post. As I wrote, by 'creation' I meant what-is; if I had meant 'creativity' (how you, quite legitimately, took me) I would have written that.

    As to the ape's dancing: I have yet to hunt up the passage, but they were in a ring, dragging one foot and hopping, so, yes, dancing.

    For those who research nonhuman creativity, in the very, very little reading on the topic I've done, it seems "play" and "creativity" are closely related, as both involve non-instinctive, cultural, novelty.

    As to Buddhism, Schopenhauer's reception of same, etc., that is surely another kettle of fish and couple of breadloaves...

    By Blogger Bryan Sentes, at Tuesday, July 02, 2019  

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