The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nuclear Madness and Terrorism

I found a book that pre-dates Marc Gafni’s The Mystery of Love by about twenty years which touches on many of the same topics of erotic living, sensuality, imagination, connectedness, and becoming fully human. It’s called Curing Nuclear Madness, by Frank G. Sommers, M.D. (Dr. Sommers is a founding member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.)

Although the book focuses on the threat of mutual annihilation, it is surprisingly relevant to the current terrorist threat and the United States’ war on terrorism. It points to the emptiness that people feel in their lives and that they so desperately try to fill through pseudo eros. It highlights imagination and internal imagery as a fundamental means of effecting a humanistic solution to our problems.

It’s also a good source on psychology and brain function and how these things relate to the real world. It would make an excellent adjunct to Marc Gafni’s book.

On the subject of our societal emptiness, Dr. Sommers writes:

Desperate and tormented in our inner world, we reach out for anything that promises help. Sharp businessmen and advertisers know this well and use the knowledge to keep us buying – anything to make us more alluring, secure and successful. That is, anything to make us “appear” that way. After a day’s unsatisfying work, how many of us stream home in subway, bus or car bombarded to the level of sensory overload by ads and jingles inspiring us to consume more, always more? Onward, homeward to the isolated, less than ideal family in a house that instantly reminds us of mortgage payments and unmowed blades of grass, where we can relax by watching the evening’s dose of violent television and, between killings and rapes, being urged to buy beer, deodorants and pantyhose. Or home to the lonely apartment in the city, feeling our need to come home to someone but suppressing the pain. There we can indulge in the fantasies of a richer, more creative life around the corner. But, as time passes, how may of us get to round that corner? Why not just settle for a remote control device for the TV or a computer to play games with? Those games, I am told, are great fun. One can even play out World War III.

Is it not time to focus our attention on the insidious emptiness in the lives of so many so-called normal people? Is it not time to bring back physical pleasure, personal contact and love?

There is a common wisdom among all the books I’ve been reading. They point to the spiritual emptiness that is endemic in our world. They explain how our desperate attempts to fill the void lead to stress and anger, to violence and hate (both self-hatred and the hatred of others). They raise awareness that it is our loss of eros, our loss of connection to that which makes us human, that skews our behaviour and perverts our choices, such as how to deal with terrorism.

“Every ethical failure comes from the absence of eros.”
Marc Gafni


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