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Part 1: NEIL GAIMAN AND PHILOSOPHY: GODS GONE WILD!, edited: Tracy L. Bealer, Rachel Luria, & Wayne Yuen, Open Court, 2012**3:15 pm CST READ ORIGINAL
Following the “pathmarks” (Wegmarken) “off the beaten track” (Holzwege) of my oldest daughter’s enthusiasm for Neil Gaiman, I am going to start a thread here and at “Philosophy: Historicity” at LinkedIn on NEIL GAIMAN AND PHILOSOPHY: GODS GONE WILD! I am new to Gaiman, but after listening to his vibrant and coherent discursiveness on stage at Odessa, Texas, last night, I feel encouraged to take this book up as an excuse for a thread. I shall rely primarily on the book itself as the primary subject matter since 1] I am incompetent to discuss Neil Gaiman’s works directly, and 2] I want to bring this book into intimacy with my readings of Avital Ronell’s books STUPIDITY and THE TEST DRIVE.
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My primary overall premise is that complex and daunting subjects should be held up to “déconstruction” (Jacques Derrida) or “Destrukion” (Martin Heidegger) where I emphasize Heidegger’s “Destrukion” which, I think, can be seen in AMERICAN GODS in its violent aspect discernable in Heidegger’s BEITRÄGE ZUR PHILOSOPHIE (VOM EREIGNIS). The very German of the words historically reminds us of the violence inherent in history – in AMERICAN GODS the history of theology, always concurrent with the history of humanity, dropping full grown out of utterly mute and interpretable geology interpreted ‘humanly’ only by a very difficult reflexivity studying rocks, fossils, caves, and stone tools now supposedly going back a very ambiguous stretch of inhuman time of 3 million years. AMERICAN GODS touches on that on and off.
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Our time, “human time”, is defined on the one hand by literacy – whether correctly or incorrectly, really “human” time is recorded by humans, for humans, about human beings always – with geology being merely a tool of extension we ethically evaluate as something real and solid when, in fact, we hold a rock in our hands it says nothing at all because it is utterly meaningless, without history, is not at all a book that metaphorically tells us things. A rock cannot be read like a book, but geologists and physical anthropologists put it through chemical and mathematical strainers to sift out a “history” having something like a human paradigm pulled out violently at such extremes that, when looked at factually like a real “crime scene investigation” that rock has literally nothing or next to nothing relating to ordinary, everyday human beings.
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And even then, in our hearts, we know human history for human beings is an imagined thing from our modern, present point of view about people who even just fifty years ago we presently judge as if in the bar in a court in actual session when actually their real “own” motives – even just from fifty years ago – have become incomprehensible to us. In their world fifty, seventy-five, a hundred years ago “racism” was a natural fact of life everyone had to live with to a lesser or greater extent (and at sometimes great personal risk if one protested the then current mores) whereas now the shoe is on the other foot to an unimaginable degree from how people saw things fifty to a hundred years ago. That could be construed, stretching it greatly, within one human being’s actual life time.
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What then are we to make of common human mores in their material context a thousand years ago? That is well within the recorded time of practicing historians in relatively easily accessible books and yet it is an utter black hole of the then extremely violent relation of Christianity to other religions where information about what Islam was is simply and fully delineated as not-Christian without the slightest embarrassment about its absolute ignorance of the Koran whose attempted translation even for conversion purposes was fraught with great risk from other Christians, where even the Jews who lived in the midst of Christianity were isolated in an intellectual segregation so complete that something like the Kabballah could live and thrive inside Jewish communities but could get a Christian who actually knew something about it tried with heresy and threatened with burning at the stake. Ergo the very dark ‘shadow’ figures in AMERICAN GODS reflect the true reality of historical consciousness in present day human beings.
 
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In the introduction “Traveling with the Gods” by Bealer and Luria, “traveling” is divided into two fundamental and ontological forms: 1] the tourist and 2] the escapee, the refugee, the fugitive, the lost. Both travel, but “The tourist believes himself or herself to be the center of the universe, the new location merely a novelty to be toyed with before returning home unaltered.” (pp. viii-ix) This is actually the “normal”, the “everyday” of average human existence where the reality of “we” is ontologically the same as Queen Victoria’s royal “We are not amused.” “We” materially, physiologically, cannot be literally perceived other than as “I’, me. You can literally never ever be another person or see literally through another person’s eyes or have in any way at all except verbally – if that really applies – their experience of their unique physiological life. Here, in blunt statement is the fact that real human individuality is “one’s own” body – not the body of physiology or medical books, not the physician’s neutral, neutered gaze, not the body of cultural entertainment and customary mores, but the body that when it dies you die – utterly – according to all scientific evidence. This is one source for the need for gods.¶
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The physiology textbook is a book that tries to ‘read’ that which is irrevocably “you” like a book. The doctor is both your experimenter and your teacher who, with Michel Foucault’s “physician’s gauze”, both turns you into a rock to be read like a geologist and politically as a voter whose needs are manipulated. Therefore you become both a white rat to be tested, and a ballot wielder who votes with money to reward others by. Hence the politician’s total divorcement, at least publically, from all reality whatsoever, pursuing his own kind of physician’s bedside manner. Hence a politician can say things that would get a philosophy or science professor fired on the spot. What are your conclusions if you reverse-engineer this with the physician? Ergo there is law for the physician – but not for the politician. Doesn’t that seem unfair?¶
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But then maybe that is absolutely necessary in a democratic process. And that brings together a comparison of how non-Americans and Americans view democracy. In Lenin’s immediate post-revolution Russia, the political opposition expressed its opposition by shooting you, and therefore Lenin, being up till then relatively democratic, got shot. That changed Eastern European politics and expresses fairly well the politics of most other countries in the world: One expresses one’s democratic opinion by shooting the opposition. Ergo only in America can a major politician accuse the Federal Reserve of counterfeiting money. Ideal true reality figures in America are politicians, culture stars, and doctors. They pander to the tourist’s ontological view of reality. It is fixed. It never changes. It is the same for everybody . . . except . . . if something gets broken.¶
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Now no one likes to think of themselves as broken. But what if some idiotic philosopher said all human beings were by nature broken? In direct view that seems a perfectly illogical statement. If everyone was “always already” broken, then logically there could be no standard of measure for what is “whole” and “perfectly functional”. “Everybody is broken” is a refutation of all purpose since no one would be capable of accomplishing their aims. So Bealer’s and Luria’s second category of “the traveler” would be somebody permanently and forever “on the way” . . . They could never “go home again”. Their whole existence is a testing that follows test with test until one fails. It is a discovery of the ‘natural history’ of the breakage inside the “ordinary”. The rock does not speak about the human being, the human being pretends to speak about the rock because the rock doesn’t speak at all, ever.¶
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Aristotle says philosophy is born in wonder, θαυάζειν, and we moderns receive this definition in rainbow colors. But θαυάζειν can also mean sledgehammer stupefaction either of being too stupid to understand or, like a prisoner, refugee, or fugitive, ground down physiologically to desperately grasping for the barest needs. That too is philosophy.
 
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Part 4: NEIL GAIMAN AND PHILOSOPHY: GODS GONE WILD!, edited: Tracy L. Bealer, Rachel Luria, & Wayne Yuen, Open Court, 2012**22 May 2015 3:15 pm CST READ ORIGINAL
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Aristotle says philosophy is born in wonder, θαυάζειν, and we moderns receive this definition in rainbow colors. But θαυάζειν can also mean sledgehammer stupefaction either of being too stupid to understand or, like a prisoner, refugee, or fugitive, ground down physiologically to desperately grasping for the barest needs. That too is philosophy.¶
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But let us look at this situation as a matter of fact. Primary premise: if you can barely take care of your self – and maybe not – then you do not need to – and really in fact cannot – worry about anyone else. It is an involuntary, a physiological necessity. Intellectually, it is a “liberation”. One step further and you are contemplating the absolute liberation of suicide. Absolutely everything is “at risk” as an ontological category. Setting this into philosophical thought awakens one to what Plato and Plotinus and Heidegger are really saying: That when it comes down to real flesh-and-blood basics, the playing field devolves even beyond that and becomes hideously simple – or ‘abstract’ - to the point of utter nothingness. In other words, the “abstractions” THEY talk about actually go in the totally opposite direction from etherealities, reducing all that is “practical” to its real ontology of “meaningless”, and leaves us with Albert Camus’ A HAPPY DEATH (La Mort heureuse) as the purpose and epitome of all of our efforts.¶
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Ergo one would then have a three-way view of what is popularly conceived of as “reality”: 1] everyday affairs that must be taken care of for a number of socially, culturally, and legally imposed reasons; 2] escape from this mundane tail-chasing into intellectual super-reality that cannot persist upon its own without mundane help; 3] the absolute undermining of everything. Put this way – and you probably refuse to accept it (though arguing against it may be very difficult) – you see the first two steps grounded on their own refutation. That is, one knows they can be refuted but that result is utterly unacceptable, though the reasoning for that fast becomes inchoate. That is, you know what is ultimately true and that that “Truth” is not “Good”. It is not good at all. For any purpose whatsoever. So you don’t need to worry about it do you? It is out of your hands. Another lesson from AMERICAN GODS:
“It was crooked,” said Shadow (Balder). “All of it. None of it was for real. It was just a setup for a massacre.”
“Exactly,” said Wednesday’s (Odin’s) voice from the shadows. “It was crooked. But it was the only game in town.”
That puts things in their proper perspective. I always wondered why one learned of the Norse gods as a story that has “always already” ended with everybody dying in Ragnarök or Ragnarøkkr (Götterdämmerung) “Twilight of the gods”. We normally envision a religion as giving us something to look forward to for better or worse. The EDDAS say everything has already ended.¶
 
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