#149- Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos Part 1
This week, Scott and Karl pick up another book by a recurring guest on the show, Walker Percy. Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book is more of a mock self-help book, designed not to help but to provoke.
Part satire part deadly serious, Percy’s goal is to explore ideas of the self and expose the social ills which plague society as a result of “humanity’s epic identity crisis.”
However, the duo disagrees on how one deals with this problem of introspection. Scott asks, “Do you think it’s possible for the mindful person to be introspective and avoid the problem of existentialism?”
If you like to both chuckle and think hard, consider picking yourself up a copy, too. Don’t forget to tune in next week for Part Two of Scott and Karl’s discussion.
This podcast is brought to you by onlinegreatbooks.com, a community dedicated to developing classically educated men and women using the Great Books of Western Civilization.
Scott Hambrick 0:09
Welcome to the Online Great Books podcast brought to you by onlinegreatbooks.com, where we talk about the good life, the great books, great conversation, and great ideas.
Brett Veinotte 0:30
Hello, dear listener, this is Brett, I’m the producer of the online grade books podcast. First, sorry, we were off last week. But I think that’s going to work out for everybody, because you’re going to want to feel well-rested. Before digging into this one, we return to an online great books favorite Walker Percy, and his 1983 Mock self help book, as it has been called, Lost in the Cosmos. I was first introduced to Walker Percy by Scott and Karl, this feels like it was a couple years ago at this point, and was motivated to go and find and read one of his essays called Loss of the Creature, I would recommend that to you as well, if you’re just learning about it now. sighs excited to see his name come up again. Hopefully you are too. And you know, one of the things about a show like this, and I think Scott and Karl even mentioned this is maybe there’s a concern when you have such great conversations about so many books and essays and excerpts that maybe people won’t go and read this material for themselves. If these guys are just talking their way through the book. Yeah, I got the gist of it. Now, some might say, Well, today’s conversation is going to challenge that because Scott and Karl do not even touch chapter one until like 45 minutes into this audio. So today, while you’re waiting for them to talk about the book, you can easily obtain the Kindle version for yourself in that time. Now, I also mentioned that there’s a long lead in to the discussion of the book, because the very, very beginning of the discussion is like really fence heavy, like a lot of fence talk. And you know, people have varying levels of interest in Fences. So if you hear that, and you start to think, oh my gosh, is it 45 minutes of fence stuff before the book. Now the fence up there is there’s a lot of fence stuff for a non fence focused podcast. But they move fairly swiftly, I would say into a very valuable set up discussion. For lost in the cosmos, I just want you to know what’s going to happen there. There’s a bit of a cliffhanger ending. We’re trying to keep these at, you know a certain length, so make sure you check back next week for part two. And make sure you visit online great books calm and get on the mailing list as well. And without further delay, here is Scott And Karl’s exploration of Walker Percy’s lost in the cosmos, the last self help book. Thanks for listening. Thank you for your time.
Scott Hambrick 3:09
Here we go. I’m Scott Hambrick.
Karl Schudt 3:12
I’m Karl Schudt.
Scott Hambrick 3:14
Brett’s already told them everything they need to know. Oh, okay. You know, next week we’re going to cover when not next week, this will be a two part show. So next week will be more of this. And then the week after that. It’ll be the Joel Salatin book Polyface Micro about using his methods on the homestead scale instead of his 10,000. Broilers. 1000, head of grass fed beef 1000 rabbits 1000 hogs.
Karl Schudt 3:42
Yeah, I was looking through it, it’s gonna be fun. The one point that I got from it is if you’re on the small scale, which I will be on the small scale, you still have to have water. You still have to have fencing.
Scott Hambrick 3:54
Oh God, Samson that is killing me, Karl.
Karl Schudt 3:58
I’m sorry. It hasn’t begun to kill me yet. I went and bought my high tension wire. banged up my finger doing it. I bled all over. You get a cold but I’ve got I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to put up. You got to get your fence down if you’re going to have critters. You don’t want them walking through the neighborhood. That happened? I was driving through Oklahoma last year in March, I think. And I was driving down to Locust Grove. Yeah. And I had to stop because there were cows on the road.
Scott Hambrick 4:36
That’s a no no. I got a late late this summer, late last summer, early fall and there were cow pies on the driveway and went down the hill to where all the fruit trees are and there were five steers grazing and amongst my fruit trees. They were not mine. Yeah, that’s down to took them to market. I know don’t know what the common law is on that is Magna Carta have something to say about if somebody steers are in your orchard for seven days, they’re yours. But this place that I’m on the fence is they tuned in for all the hot fencing talk curl. The fence is old enough that it’s pre T post. Hmm. So there are all kinds of weird stamp steel posts and oilfield pipe and sucker rod posts and whatever. So it’s old, old old, and I would be better off if there had been no fence whatsoever. Right? Well, here’s what happens is you put up a fence, and then every bird in a mile and a half eats until he’s full. And then he lands on that fence. And then he poops out those seeds while he sits on that fence, and they’re enveloped in a slurry of nitrogen and other nutrients. And then they grow all that stuff grows right there in the fence. Right in the fence line. Yeah, yeah. So every cedar Berry, every Mulberry, every hackberry. Those birds have planted them diligently in the fence.
Karl Schudt 6:06
It’s fun when you got you find a 12 foot trunk with barbed wire going right through the middle of it. Right.
Scott Hambrick 6:13
You call it instruments.
Karl Schudt 6:14
How many years has that been neglected?
Scott Hambrick 6:16
Karl Schudt 6:18
Oh, but that’d be fun. So we’ll we’ll do that next time. What are we doing? I know, I know. Brett already told them what we’re doing this week.
Scott Hambrick 6:26
Yeah, our beloved friend had Walker Percy’s book last in the cosmos the last self help book a very, very strange book. It is not a novel. It is not a nonfiction book. It is. I don’t know what the hell it is. He says it’s the last self up hook and he asks like all self help books do you know 20 Questions of the reader. Then you have to choose one you’re like, This is a part satire. Part deadly serious attempt to get people to self examine and Percy in sort of way that left me cold.
Karl Schudt 7:02
So let me talk about Percy in general. So I saw him in person. In 1989 Walker person at the college, where I attended. You’ll be able to figure it out. I’m gonna lose all my offset here. The college that I attended, gave a lay tare metal every year. It is Seletar is one of the Sundays I think in in Lent. I don’t know Anyway, they give a metal to some highfalutin American Catholic. As the university sees it, they usually get it wrong.
Scott Hambrick 7:37
Mm hmm. Yeah. You haven’t gotten one?
Karl Schudt 7:41
No, I haven’t gotten so they’re really they’re very good at picking the highfalutin they’re not so good at picking the Catholic just say that. They grabbed up Walker Percy could probably because he was dying. I think he died within a few months after getting the award. Yeah, he died 1990. And this was an 89. So it was within six months. And I was playing in the graduation band. I was a musician. And we would stay for a week after everybody else went home. And we would honestly we would drink too much. That was gin that year. And we had nothing else to do. We’d stick around for a week practicing the all the graduation music and then we would play for graduation. And this guy got up and Walker Percy’s white haired guy had no idea who he was. And I didn’t really pay any attention to the speech. And then when I discovered his stuff later and found out that whatever it was that he writes, it’s for me, right? gobble it all up. I found out that he was there and that I’d seen him and I I like an idiot hadn’t paid any attention. So I went on a trip. I happened to be in North Carolina for another band thing.
Scott Hambrick 8:47
Well, I have to stop you there and let you know that the opposite happened to me. The opposite thing happened to me. In about 1990. I shook George HW Bush’s hand and I thought it was a big deal. And later on I found out it was nothing.
Karl Schudt 9:06
Right. It’s true, right? He d magnified himself. So I happen to be in North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which was where the Walker Percy archives were, I hope they’re still there. And I went back in the archives everyone else was off having a barbecue or whatever. And I was digging in the archives. It was it was another band trip. And I dug out the speech that he gave the little it’s five paragraphs this little speech that he gave the later middle speech of Walker Percy in 1989. And I want to just want to read the last paragraph. The motto of the late Harry metal is I understand Magnus very tough at pray vale a bit. In other words, truth is great and it will prevail. I like to think it applies even to the humble vocation of the novelist. In my last novel The Thanatos Syndrome I tried to show how wild should prevail. It is a disaster when only one kind of truth prevails at the expense of others. If only one kind of truth prevails the technical and abstract truth of science then nothing stands in the way of the demeaning of and destruction of human life for what appears to some to be reasonable short term goals. It is no accident I think that German science greatest it was and it in the Holocaust, the novelist likes to irritate people by pointing this out. It is His pleasure and vocation to reveal in his own elusive and indirect way man’s need of and his openings to truths other than scientific propositions. He is one of the lowliest handmaidens to the truth of the good news. But if he or any of us succeeds even a bit in this task, then I say, lay Tari indeed, let us rejoice. That’s what the Tory means and that. And I think that I mean, that’s nearly his last word. There is a difficulty when there is one sort of truth that is allowed to prevail that, that there’s only one way of understanding who you are, and of how you ought to live.
Scott Hambrick 11:06
And Karl’s a relativist. That’s not true. Well, I mean, like, You’re what so what you’re saying is, you have to live your own truth.
Karl Schudt 11:17
No, that is not what I’m saying. Absolutely not what I’m saying what I’m saying is Truth is bigger than peer review.
Scott Hambrick 11:25
Whoa. Yeah, seems right. Especially when you are out here.
Karl Schudt 11:34
Right. You know, my buddy in college, we had we, he would say, it’s not peer pressure, because I’m better than you. Yeah. He’s probably not listening. So this book, lost in the cosmos is, well, it’s an odd book. It’s a really strange book. It’s not a novel. It’s a self help book. It’s or let me rephrase that it is a self help book. He’s rolling his eyes at me. No, my dear listener. I figured this wouldn’t be a Scott Hambrick book.
Scott Hambrick 12:11
It is not. I’m just not an existentialist. I don’t mean I’m not. I’m not a lot of things. But I can typically relate to the Marxist. For example, you know, you know, their attempt to deal with the DIS affectation of the worker and alienation of our work and things like that, you know, I dig it, then we then we differ, you know, so I typically can look at these different schools that I don’t necessarily agree with and agree on the problem. But with the existentialists, I don’t know what the what the problem is, I just don’t even get it.
Karl Schudt 12:54
So for Marxism, it’s the alienation of the worker from his work. For existentialism, it’d be the alienation of the worker from himself.
Scott Hambrick 13:03
Right? Yeah. Info galactic says that existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th and 20th century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject, not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling living living human individual. Okay, fine. But in practice, that’s not what it has become when you get to Camus or even Percy. It’s become sort of a, I don’t know, I can’t even be generous about it. Some sort of self conscious hand wringing about the self that makes it difficult for them to deal with anything else is the way I see it. And I don’t get it. Like if you know, if you build a dog house in your little kid and you hit your thumb with a hammer, like it fixes all the existentialist stuff.
Karl Schudt 14:02
Yeah, but then you get done building dog houses and you go off to college and you, you get your medical degree. You know, and there you are in New York City dealing with this would be person’s biography, right? Dealing with patients or or you know, a Southerner in New York City and start thinking I know it sounds silly. We were having lunch the other day, and I knew this was going to be silly for you. But you imagine Percy’s there’s like, the hell am I? What am I doing here? How did it come to this? Well, I
Scott Hambrick 14:44
understand the last two pieces of that. It’s like the talking head song. That’s exactly what I was thinking about before we turn this on. This is not my beautiful house. I understand the last few questions he asked, you know, what am I doing here? And How did this happen? I think it’s what they were something like that. But then who am I thing? I don’t get that, like if he if he
Karl Schudt 15:07
was so I had this image. I think if you were to take Scott Hambrick and slice him with a meat slicer, it’s all Scott Hamburg, all the way through. I think you’ve been you I’ve read while ago, you posted some of your high school papers or your college papers, and I, I read a little bit of it, and it’s you. It’s the same you. You know, it’s it’s all you that’s not the case for I don’t think it’s the case for all of us. I think it’s a, I’ll give an example. Gaming is very, very big right now. Yeah. And I remember looking up the average age of the gamer and it’s something like 40
Scott Hambrick 15:55
Karl Schudt 15:57
it’s not 15 year olds playing Call of Duty. It’s disaffected adults playing it. And these games and they’re very well done. Some of them are really well done. I’ve, I’ve done it. I’ve done it myself. You save the universe in this game. You’re a hero. There’s a love interest. What sometimes what people will do, you know, you fire up the game. And there’s the avatar generation. You think I forgot what you look like?
Scott Hambrick 16:36
I never do that. I just accept the first one. Yeah, I never
Karl Schudt 16:41
got fine tuning the nose and the hair and skin complexion. And I mean, heck, lots of people play cross gender. Right. So you you are not yourself when you’re in this game. You’re playing as someone else as someone very very different from yourself. And that’s what makes it attractive. What’s the that’s what people want to do. I think. Yeah, they don’t want to be who they are. They want to be masterchief or Lara Croft. There’s they’re fleeing the South. Yeah.
Scott Hambrick 17:21
I can sympathize with and understand someone who maybe is disappointed with how they turned out. Let me back up. Percy, in this book, and so many of the existentialists are hyper aware of themselves in stand apart from themselves and observe themselves. So I thought, well, if I was talking to a extension of goodwill, there are few of them. But if I was talking to Percy, and about this, I think, maybe, huh, there’s a couple of them. Well, I know there’s a couple I just you know, Percy, maybe Carl. I can imagine the existentialist say. I don’t know about cumin. And come on now.
Karl Schudt 18:14
Have you read any of this stuff? Yeah, it’s a good hearted guy.
Scott Hambrick 18:17
I have. But I can imagine I’m wondering how if one doesn’t have that, existence precedes essence, sort of existentialist idea, you know, how do you introspect? How do you introspect avoiding the existentialist crisis.
Karl Schudt 18:39
Yeah, well, that existence preceding essence, that’s that start. He’s one of the bad ones. He’s a Maoist.
Scott Hambrick 18:47
But I think even Percy here, not this is one book. That’s a weird thing. Maybe it’s on one level, maybe it’s satire. You know, it’s one book but all of this questioning of the of one’s existence and of oneself. Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that that’s what it is. axioms. He can’t move past that to deal with the essentials. When we get this in the goofy Heidegger thing that we read not too long ago.
Karl Schudt 19:21
I noticed by the way in Sherlock Holmes in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, it’s one where the nobleman child is kidnapped. The German teacher at the school ends up getting clubbed in the head and killed his name was Heidegger. What means
Scott Hambrick 19:42
a which is fiction ACD
Karl Schudt 19:45
maybe it’s not it’s not fiction.
Scott Hambrick 19:48
It’s it’s the genetic type.
Karl Schudt 19:52
He says existence precedes essence for him. There’s it’s, I think, sorry is garbage. But Eau Claire like radical freedom where you can define yourself elf as you like, I don’t think that’s the problem. I think, I think this book and the novels are an attempt to get out of that trap
Scott Hambrick 20:09
to get out of it. But can you get out of it? If that’s where you start? I mean, maybe Percy’s behind the eight ball here. I think,
Karl Schudt 20:21
well, but maybe we should. I want to go into a little bit of beginning.
Scott Hambrick 20:26
Well, hang on. I want I want to deal with this problem of introspection.
Karl Schudt 20:30
Scott Hambrick 20:32
so I’ll talk to you and not Percy. So you do you think it’s possible for the mindful person or the conscientious person to be introspective? And avoid the existential is trap? Trap? That’s, that’s a loaded word. But the the problem of existentialism?
Karl Schudt 20:52
Yes, I think it is. You need to figure out a mode of self placement. I’m sorry to talk like an existentialist but more Guardian scripts. It’s a problem that well, gosh, it’s in Augustine, who am I? Well, he figures it out, he spends the whole book talking to God and asking God who am I? And there’s his answer. But it takes him a while to get there. I think there are those of us who have first thought, second thoughts. Third, third thoughts and fourth thoughts about things.
Scott Hambrick 21:27
eliminate that, Karl, you and I’ve talked about it, but tell them what you mean
Karl Schudt 21:30
It’s not possible to eliminate it. So I had this experience the other day, so I was getting upset. I didn’t even know I want to talk about how had to do with CRT and modern politics and stuff. And I was I was mad. At a show on the classical music station that was promoting. It was only promoting singers of a certain ethnicity, like why does that matter? But then I stopped and I said, Well, why am I mad about this? And then I stopped again. And I thought, why am I thinking about myself being mad about this? You know, so you end up dissecting your whole way of thinking? It’s,
Scott Hambrick 22:09
it’s wise all the way down, bro. It’s
Karl Schudt 22:11
right. It’s like, you end up being a novelist in your own life. So you’re observing yourself as you interact with other people, which means you’re not quite interacting with other people, you’re it’s probably a sickness. But it’s a problem. I think that comes with prosperity. It comes with, you know, not having to go plow your field, or cut wood? or do any of the other things that you might need to do for your life, which would say, Well, who am I It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to feed the chickens. Well, let’s say you don’t have to feed the chickens, and you have prosperity and you’ve gone to a good college and you’ve got a good degree. And now what?
Scott Hambrick 23:06
Karl Schudt 23:10
Now what you see you can see this with the I think you can see this with the reluctance of people to get married these days. Yeah. To get married is to bind. bind yourself to another person to put yourself in a particular self-placement. Ideally, for the rest of your life is supposed to be for the rest of your life. And people aren’t doing it. Because it’s like collapsing the waveform. You know, when you open the box, and you find out whether Schrodinger cat is alive or dead. They don’t want to do that they don’t want to collapse the waveform. They don’t want to ever be anything. Because they have no idea what to be there the old ways. I would connect this with McIntyre the old ways of situating yourself in a community with a Telos with an end. They don’t seem to work anymore.
Scott Hambrick 24:10
Yeah, I think it works. They just don’t have they lack the purpose or the Telos.
Karl Schudt 24:15
Well, but you know, if you had if you had boomer parents that left you alone all the time, and then divorced each other. And, you know, your life is kind of a mess. He never had it. He never had real parents. Right? The options are not so obvious to you anymore. Right? Right. You’ve been told your whole life. You can do whatever you want. You can be whatever you want, which is garbage advice. Because there’s no content to it. You could be whatever you want, well, fine, but what should I be? You’re just telling somebody, the hypothetical person, you’re not really anything. You’re nothing. You’re a zero. That could be anything You’re you’re an unhinged function that could attach to anything.
Scott Hambrick 25:04
So if you are the perfect exemplar of the 21st-century existentialist then all these all these comments that you’ve made here really aren’t necessarily about introspection, or self awareness. There about a more basic confusion as to, like, Well, okay, maybe I introspect. What am I actually looking at?
Karl Schudt 25:28
Well, I mean, that is a question to that the first he talks about the self is a very philosophically tricky thing. It’s not something Socrates ever talks about. He says, In the beginning, you know, you find out that if you write down a list of adjectives, that are good adjectives, and then you write down a list of bad adjectives, and then you read the lists, you might find that the good ones all apply to you and the bad ones, right? The opposite also apply
Scott Hambrick 25:58
You know, Thomas fixes all this?
Karl Schudt 26:00
So are you brave? Are you cowardly? Dear listener? Are you handsome? Are you ugly? Are you awkward? Are you graceful? You might find that they all apply to you. Well, then think, how does? How is that you know, I have a, I have a little pocket knife in my hand. It’s not sharp and dull. It’s one thing. The self isn’t quite that way. It’s not. Or in other words, to go back to that speech that I read. To try to think of the self in terms of scientific truth is a mistake. It’s not that sort of thing. Yeah. And evidence that it’s not that sort of thing. That little experiment where you write the list of adjectives can show that that something’s up. There’s something weird about it. Oh, can I go to the text?
Scott Hambrick 26:54
Yeah, you’re gonna have to tell me all about it.
Karl Schudt 26:59
Do you have a Kindle version or paper?
Scott Hambrick 27:01
I got? I’ve got this paper one. I’ve got the Picador press. Paper one here in my hot little hand.
Karl Schudt 27:09
I don’t have page numbers. Of course, my paper copy is buried, probably in a box in a shed somewhere. Yeah. So I just read the title, which gives you the just the last in the cosmos, the last self help book or The Strange Case of the self, your self that ghost which haunts the cosmos, or how you can survive in the cosmos about what you know more and more will knowing less and less about yourself to this despite 10,000 self help books, 100,000 psychotherapists and 100 million fundamentalist Christians, or why is it that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the cosmos Novus quasars, pulsars, black holes, you are beyond doubt the strangest. I don’t know that I would have read all of it. It just goes on and on. This is the book Lost in the cosmos is a reaction to a TV show that Carl Sagan put out that I loved when I was a kid. I loved it too young. Yeah. And it was called Cosmos I had the book. And love this show. And it was Carl Sagan, who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And he, he was giving the Enlightenment view of the world. And explaining everything in the world, in terms of science, never completely neglecting the self. He’s an anti existentialist completely neglecting that there is such thing as a self or anything to really be concerned about. So that the whole history, it stops, it goes to the burning of the Library of Alexandria. And then nothing happens to Galileo. Just nothing, nothing happens. Do you remember that show?
Scott Hambrick 28:48
Oh, I loved that show. I love that show.
Karl Schudt 28:51
But it was destructive.
Scott Hambrick 28:53
It was It was horrific. I’ve come to hate it. I if I wasn’t so busy building fans, I would find Satan’s graving dig him up and kicking around so not only is it not existentialist, it’s a meaninglessness, philosophy. You know, nothing has any meaning. And in the, in the last scene, or in the closing episode of that show, he’s got he does this, the pale blue dot talk, you can go look up this little chunk on YouTube, Sagan, the pale blue dot, it’s like maybe two or three minutes long, I don’t know. But he worked at JPL. So he’s clearly a government off and he’s paid to, you know, destroy this sense of worth and people across the United States. And he was part of the Voyager project and he, at some point, when when Voyager was getting ready to leave the solar system he he raised Hal and had eventually had his way. So such that they expended these valuable resources, propellant and energy on board the Voyager spacecraft to turn it around, it had a forward facing camera, the camera was facing the direction of travel. And he got them to turn this thing around and take a picture of Earth from beyond the solar system. So the scale of this photograph is mind bogglingly large, such that the image of Earth is just a fuzzy, pale blue dot. And then this POS, waxes eloquent about how because he, they took this picture from this place where we never should have even been that, frankly, you’re meaningless. Right? You know, the cosmos is so large in the earth is so small, and then you’re a small piece of that. And everything that man has accomplished has happened in just the blink of an eye. And because of the vast size of everything, you’re worthless. And I’m actually I’m, in a lot of ways I’m solid system, solipsistic. Like I’m the measure of everything. You know, I remember, I remember going to this stupid, fucking Sunday school class. And this guy’s like, Would you ever just look up at the stars at night, and it just make you feel so small? Like, they make me feel huge? Like none of it means anything if I’m not there? Like, like, if a tree falls in the forest, and nobody’s there to see it, my quick answer is Who fucking cares? The people in us in our sentience, give everything its value. And Hitchhiker’s
Karl Schudt 31:34
Guide to the Galaxy. There’s this characters. They fought Beeblebrox. Right, who’s president of the galaxy, and they’re going to torture him. So they’re going to put him in this absolute perspective machine, which is supposed to like, give him the blue dot talk, and show him how tiny he is. And he goes into it, he comes out and says it, he says, well, it told me I was the center of the universe.
Scott Hambrick 31:57
That’s you, that’s all I see. You know, and this guy, this guy, his name was Alan that was telling me this and I, I love Alan. But he’s, he’s, it’s just stupid. But in current year, that sort of attitude is some sort of like, it’s some sort of credit that people who want to believe they’re smart give. You know, it’s they say those kinds of things to show, you know, how broad their perspective is. And it’s basically disgusting, altruistic, both.
Karl Schudt 32:33
What’s our our public astrophysicist? What is his name? Three names, the grassy Tyson,
Scott Hambrick 32:38
you know, Neil deGrasse
Karl Schudt 32:39
Tyson, like the grassy High School and that Canadian show? Yeah, he’s the worst Twitter account. It’s just the worst. It’s all that crap about how you don’t really mean anything. And so let’s go further. So this is what they were talking about at JPL. And in the show Cosmos targeted to little kids like me, yep, that you’re insignificant. But they’re very, very proud. And this is some of the oddness that that Percy is talking about. They’re very, very proud that they put these gold plates on these Voyager machines. And like, a record player with sounds of Earth, and you know, prime numbers so that the aliens could know that we were intelligent. Well, if you’re in an in circuit, insignificant, nothing. There’s nothing to talk about. What’s the point of trying to make contact with other intelligences if we’re all just nothing? It’s only cells that want to actually talk to people.
Scott Hambrick 33:39
The whole thing’s nonsensical. It was designed to break the sense of self and the individual and the American people. I’m just convinced of it. And even if Sagan didn’t know that, if he’s so foolish, and such a useful idiot that he didn’t know it. That’s still what the purpose ended up being. I hate that pale blue dot thing like poison. somebody the other day posted it in our slack. And they’re like, Oh, this is so profound. And online, great books I just had to pile on. It’s disgusting. It’s reprehensible. There is a straight line between wanting to just euthanize people. And that sort of view. What difference does it make? They’re not special? It’s I mean, you know, pipe, there’s 7 billion people what’s the 7 billion minus one? Is when the 7 billion don’t even matter anyway, they’re just in a pale blue dot. Anyway, these existentialist kiss my ass.
Karl Schudt 34:32
Oh, wait, no, hold on. Wait a minute. Wait. Do you jump from Carl Sagan to existentialist? Yeah, conflating the the blue dot people with with my people.
Scott Hambrick 34:42
Yeah, you’re right. He is reacting to this in a negative way that piracy is but yeah, gosh, I see. Sorry. I
Karl Schudt 34:51
want to do a little bit of the preliminary quiz. So back in the days when we had bookstores, you would find this book in a bookstore and he suggests you You take this little quiz in the beginning to see if you ought to buy the book. That’s just raising questions. He has this thing. Imagine you read the astrology column. You read the Aries, you say? Yeah, I think that what does it say? It says something like, You have a knack of creating an atmosphere of thought and movement unhampered by petty jealousies, but you have the tendency to scatter your talents to the four winds. And you think, Oh, that’s right. And then you find out that he read the Gemini column and by mistake and you go read the Aries, nothing hurts you more than to be unjustly mistreated, or suspected, but you have a way about you. And you think that’s me too. Why is it that the self is such a thing that that cannot be defined? He’s trying to get you to, to see that. The self is not like all the other things in the world.
Scott Hambrick 35:53
If he just read Aristotle’s ethics that he would not he would know that the self. It’s not like this.
Karl Schudt 35:59
I don’t I don’t think so. I think so. I like to love you comment on Aristotle. Slavia was a Russian Christian writer. And he says why in the world would I care for moderation? What if I have a finite lifetime? And there’s nothing beyond this? Why in the world what I want to be moderate?
Scott Hambrick 36:24
Well, because of the practical reality of what people are, you can’t be all this or all of that. So the best thing you can do is walk the edge
Karl Schudt 36:33
why is it the best best for who? Well,
Scott Hambrick 36:36
it’s best for you because we want to live a happy life which you know, according to read that but
Karl Schudt 36:43
you’re sneaking things in there you’re sneaking the presumption that there is a self that is choosing the good it’s we were talking about this in Seminar a few days ago about the problem of practical reason and ethics book isn’t enough you have to choose the good in a particular situation will you choose it like the wise man would choose it but who’s the wise man? Why would you care to make yourself clear courageous or temperate? It might be more fun to be intemperate.
Scott Hambrick 37:13
You know that we deal with these things? Yeah. fund’s not the calculus in the self clearly exists because there’s something happening experience of all this and or something asking the question so we can just that’s just a bedrock we it’s eight we don’t even have to do a equals A Descartes waiter says it but we don’t have to. We don’t have to address this. Okay.
Karl Schudt 37:35
Let me let me get I think we do. What
Scott Hambrick 37:39
if it’s not the self is doing what is it? Doing it? It being the philosophy?
Karl Schudt 37:45
Okay, so look at the animal world and compare it to the human for the animals there’s no need for ourself. The Lions just going to eat because it’s what lions do. It’s right. The cows is gonna chew grass because it’s what it does. The human might not eat might choose not to eat has the capacity of choosing naughty human could starve himself. When I was young, there was Bobby Sands Irish hunger striker killed himself but not eating to protest. British involvement in Northern Ireland. Animals don’t do that. Or, at first he talks about it. One of the ordinances of the human being is the sexual drive. If he says, says that location 128 Is the sexual drive is but one of several biological needs. Why are we living in the most eroticized society in history? Why don’t TV films billboards, magazines future culinary design delights. For example, huge chocolate cakes, hams, roast strawberries instead of women’s bodies. Are you more confused about sexuality than any other phenomenon in the cosmos? Do you know why it is that men and women exhibit sexual behavior undreamed of among the other several million species? With every conceivable sex sexual relation between persons or with only one person or between male and female are between two male persons or two female persons or two males one female or two females and one male relationships Moreover, which can implicate every orifice and appendage of the human body and which bear no relation to the reproduction and survival of the species? That’s a weird thing. CS Lewis says somewhere if everything’s just great, and it’s just another urge, he’s probably copying from CS Lewis. Lewis says, Why don’t we have clubs where you can go in there kind of dark. You pay money, you pay a cover charge you go and you sit in it in a seat, and they very, very slowly lift the cover off a perfectly cooked dinner, and then put it back down and don’t let you eat it.
Scott Hambrick 40:06
Yeah, I have often said, I’m way too straight to go to strip clubs.
Karl Schudt 40:11
There’s something odd going on emphasis look.
Scott Hambrick 40:15
I can’t do that. No, sure. But it’s, you know, this guy’s face should have answered a lot of these things for him.
Karl Schudt 40:25
Oh, it probably does, but it took him a while to get there. Alright, so you say his faith should answer this too for him. Okay. How do you get to be the sort of person that can have faith? Well,
Scott Hambrick 40:38
you were elected to be such from time immemorial.
Karl Schudt 40:43
Yes, but everything has been explained to you by Carl Sagan. Right? And your science textbook. And so there’s no room. There’s no way to explain the strangeness of the human sexuality, for example. You’re just another animal, right?
Scott Hambrick 41:00
I think that’s how you come to the faith. Right? Or I think that’s actually how you come to it. Sagan has nothing to say about this. About these odd problems, you know,
Karl Schudt 41:11
you might not notice the odd problems. Until you stumble on a book, like lost in the cosmos.
Scott Hambrick 41:16
Now, maybe so. Maybe so. But I think we all run into at least some maybe you need maybe we don’t all come
Karl Schudt 41:25
on, you know, you know, all sorts of people that don’t have any idea that there’s anything wrong.
Scott Hambrick 41:31
Oh, the the NPCs. Yeah, for sure. For sure. And but here’s the thing. Well, I mean, we’re just we’re just all over the place here. They’re not gonna read the second book either. Come on.
Karl Schudt 41:44
They’re not gonna read No, not too many of them. Now, they’re not going to read it. But you know, the the intelligent self absorbed 22 year old living in Columbus, Ohio might end up reading it.
Scott Hambrick 41:58
Karl Schudt 42:01
Because he did.
Scott Hambrick 42:03
You know, I think I think Aristotle’s explanation of, like, motion and appetites helps explain a lot of this weird stuff. Not a lot of it. Not all it isn’t, it doesn’t fix all of this. But and then by time you get to Aquinas in this in when he describes this, this highest possible desire. You know that for the beatific vision, he starts to clean and clean this up.
Karl Schudt 42:27
That presumes that your culture is somewhat intact. Well, then, if you’re living in the ruins of the 20th century, or the 21st century, is anything intact.
Scott Hambrick 42:39
Now? No, but just Tom ism required and attacked the culture for it to be true.
Karl Schudt 42:49
It might require an intact culture for you to be able to realize that it’s true.
Scott Hambrick 42:54
You know, that that might be I was having a little discussion with ro Shan Hey, Rochelle. Haha. In slack, he’s reading Aristotle on on interpretation, he brought up some problems with language and definition, almost everybody has. You look at a tree and there’s there’s a tree over there, like you hit it with your car, it’s gonna be in the car up the tree is real. But then when you look at it, you have this image of a tree in your head, which is not the tree. And then from that image in your head, you grant something, and that Grunt is a symbol that then is for tree. Yeah, you make it you make an utterance, and that’s a symbol for tree and their inner three. So there they are three things, and in the modern person really has been taught from in utero, that none of those three things are trustworthy. You know, and an aerosol and Thomas would say no, no, no, you know, the tree is real, it has an essence which is universal. And you may or may not be able to perceive that clearly and cleanly. But when you say tree it refers to that real live essence of Trina’s that is always there. And if you have trouble with that that’s on you. That’s that has nothing to do with Trina’s.
Karl Schudt 44:16
There’s something that’s missing from your your description that I want to bring in. So Aquinas and Aristotle and Plato and Abba Santa for that matter. The way that you come to the knowledge of universals. For played it for Socrates, its recollection In other words, your your remembering your divine homeland. For Aristotle, in de anima it is this agent intellect which somehow abstracts that which is knowable from the tree, and if anything is immortal, it’s this, he says, right. For Augustine for Thomas Is your participation in the Divine? That your knowledge actually comes about through the active agency of God? Okay, all right, take all of that out. Because you know, we’re moderns, and we don’t believe any of that stuff anymore. How do you ever know anything about the tree?
Scott Hambrick 45:22
Well, the three people, Aristotle, Spock, Socrates and Plato have, I’m sorry. And Aquinas for people have explanations for how that comes about. But they all agree that there is there is trainers that they’re referring to that has nothing to do with the person.
Karl Schudt 45:45
Mm hmm. Well, and they all have, they all have that weird bit. And so they don’t really talk about the self. But to the extent that they do, that self that they’re talking about, is participating in a greater reality just in order to know a tree. And that’s a big difference. And so you end up in the current age, we’re supposed to think that scientific truth is the truth of all truths. But there’s no way to get to it. Right? There’s just the scientific method. And and the problem. First, he points this out, the scientist will explain everything in the universe except himself, who’s the guy looking through the telescope? Because he can’t turn it back and figure out who it is that’s actually knowing this stuff, or even how it is that he’s knowing it?
Scott Hambrick 46:35
Well, this line of discussion all came up, because we’re positing that maybe the modern can’t embrace the Thomas view. It’s harder. Yeah, it I think it probably is harder. But I think if you fall out of a tree house, you’re well on your way. Yeah.
Karl Schudt 46:55
I’m just thinking, you know, when
Scott Hambrick 46:57
you get when you go Fudd like, do you really have questions about a greater reality, or the self? It’s axiomatic? Like, how much discussion do we need to have about it? You know, only people who had talked to disembodied voices across zoom, or played video games, and, you know, listened to radio, and had you know, would be would would wonder what the self was, or grew
Karl Schudt 47:24
up in a in a in a row house and go off to college across the country, and then move to a third place. Yeah, to start a job, yet. deracinated moderns there’s a whole lot that’s difficult. There’s no coincidence. Things seem to be more more screwed up now.
Scott Hambrick 47:45
Yeah. You know, if he talked to my uncle about this, he would look at you like you had a horn grown out of your cheek or something like I and, you know, the sort of smug you know, Carl Sagan, or Neil deGrasse Tyson. Reaction to somebody like Michael Henry, would be that he’s missing it. But Henry would be like, I’ve mashed my fingers. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Like, I’m clearly there is an experience of me that is irrefutable. And he’s ultimately, maybe not the measure of things. But the way all things are come to be known. You know,
Karl Schudt 48:31
I find it very, and I hope he doesn’t screw it up so that I don’t have to take this back. But I was very touched by one of your favorite singers who had all those marital problems and went off, and nobody knew where he was and worked to a ranch in Texas for two years. Yeah. And then appeared to have discovered this is gonna sound terrible to have discovered himself.
Scott Hambrick 48:53
Yeah. Well, it’s let’s see, they say discovered himself, but okay, it’s Evan Felker Turnpike, troubadours he had fell in the bottle, and the band went on a hiatus, and he disappeared. He got a divorce. And he just disappeared. We’ll come to find out. He’d been working as a ranch and in South Texas, and nobody knew where he was in except his ex wife. And then he remarried her. Got a reverse. You got to reverse young vorst and some people might say that he found himself but I would say that he aligned his priorities in that he was him all along.
Karl Schudt 49:33
He was him all along, but for a while he was thinking, Should I be what Miranda Lambert wants me to be?
Scott Hambrick 49:38
Nobody, nobody including her should do that.
Karl Schudt 49:41
Should I be what Nashville wants me to be or should I? Yeah, you know, what sort of person should you be? Alright, I want to I want to get into the text a little bit. A lot of prologue because I really haven’t. So there’s 20 questions, and I just want to briefly go through a few of these
Scott Hambrick 49:59
52 Let’s get to the book. Yeah.
Karl Schudt 50:04
So chapter one, the amnesic self. And so he’s just gonna propose these things, these weird things, and maybe you’ll see him and maybe you don’t I bet more of you’ll see him than won’t. And he talks about how why is it that amnesia in movies seems attractive? You know, why is it that you might want to get rid of yourself and he brings up an Ingrid Bergman movie where Gregory Peck is usefully has usefully lost his memory and it just makes his life better. The chapter to the self as not, it’s about antique shopping. I thought it was funny. And he he talks about why why people want tables that don’t look like tables.
Scott Hambrick 50:51
Yeah, he gives examples of people using Well, here’s a list of them. A lobster trap, a Coca Cola sign prop doing coke crates, a stone slab from an old morgue. A hatch of a sailboat mounted on halves of ships wheels and other was a cobblers beach. You know, he says, then his question, why was not a single table designed as such, rather than being a non table doing duty as a table? A because people have gotten tired of ordinary tables be because the 59 tables converted to use as tables make good conversation pieces. See, because it is a chance to make use of valuable odds and ends which otherwise would gather dust in the attic.
Karl Schudt 51:37
None of those are right. None of those are right.
Scott Hambrick 51:41
D because the self in the 20th century is a voracious not, which expands, like the feeding vacuum old an amoeba seeking to nourish and inform its own nothingness by ingesting new objects in the world, like a vacuum only succeeds and emptying them out.
Karl Schudt 51:59
Right? The ordinary tables, no good, you have to have the fancy table. But then a fancy table is no good either after a while and you have to get another table, that isn’t a table. Or maybe in the end, you end up having to get an actual table. But they’re the very oddness of using an actual table for a table is what makes it good. I know this is not Hambrick in
Scott Hambrick 52:25
well, I’ve noticed it, you know, I’ve gone to somebody’s loft. And they have an old card catalog with a piece of glass on top of it. And that’s their, you know, stupid table and behind their couch or whatever. And I’m like, Hmm, they’ve got all these little drawers, what do they put in them? And you put them well, then the host goes to the bathroom, I go over there and open the drawer. There’s nothing in it, like, wait a minute, or 48 doors in this fucking thing? And they don’t use the drawers?
Karl Schudt 52:58
No, they don’t. It’s just having a card catalog as a table. The next chapter fashion, it’s very similar.
Scott Hambrick 53:06
Most of the secret He gives us maybe for like, some of them he gives like 20 choices, a through, you know, Q or something. And almost every time I’m like, Well, none of these are the answer. These people are just, you know, trying to demonstrate how clever they are. It’s all a performative. Why do they need to demonstrate how clever they are? Because they’re not actually clever. So they have to manufacture a situation in which they can think that they are clever.
Karl Schudt 53:35
Okay, I would put it that they’re trying to establish an identity that they don’t have.
Scott Hambrick 53:41
Which would be okay, maybe maybe we agree, which would be it’s a hipster flavor.
Karl Schudt 53:45
You know, hipsters are people who don’t have what the self is. That? Well, it’s in microbrews. No, I’m an IPA guy. No, I can’t like that. Too many people like it. It’s been selective meaning. I think this is a book for for hipsters, actually. Maybe you know what? I can’t like that music because too many people know about it. It’s no good anymore. Somehow the fact that millions of people have discovered for example, turnpike troubadours means that they’re no longer any good and I need to find an obscure a more obscure band. Right? That can actually be good for me because anything that’s popular is not good. It gets sucked of meaning is the way Percy would put it. Or he’s he talks about fashion. Fashion is very, very odd thing. You buy something that it’s good. So he says, let’s see, consider the stages of consumption first stage you see an article or style worn by a person with certain authority first, it seems outlandish, but then you see more people wearing it. And then you try it on the sales lady says it is you. Yeah, you buy it and wear it. But then fifth stage, gradually the new style becomes everyday quotidian, which is cool. word that means every day rendered neutral. sixth stage after a sufficient lapse of time, the husk or residue of the new style is excreted and becomes an oddity, like bell bottoms. So, think of how that happens. Now Scott’s been wearing the same thing as long as I’ve known him. So maybe you’re immune to fashion, but I pretty much am too, but nobody wears bell bottoms anymore. They used to be the coolest boy in the 70s those girls, but then they take the t shirt and tie it up here and show off the midriff and then they wear the bell bottoms and had the long straight hair think Emmylou Harris. Oh my gosh, it was perfect.
Scott Hambrick 55:45
I just closed my eyes and thought Emmylou Harris for a minute. Part of the problem with the fashions is in order to attract this vacuole of a person that have to be novel. And clothes have been around a long time. So in order, in order for them to be novel, they have to be impractical or silly, frankly, and not fit to purpose. So you end up with a bell bottom. Now the fact that it becomes that it becomes a craze is very interesting, but the fact that it then falls out is not that interesting, like they should have never been worn anyway. They get caught in your scope box, your bicycle, whatever you trip out now, you know.
Karl Schudt 56:25
The odd thing is that something which is good becomes ungood. Yeah, yeah. So you’ve got bees. They make hives. There’s not a point in time where they get tired of hives.
Scott Hambrick 56:39
No. I will never get tired of overalls.
Karl Schudt 56:44
Yeah, because yourself is well situated. But fashion is the weirdest thing in the world. How can something that’s good become not good? It just, it hasn’t done anything. It’s just stayed in your closet. And the goodness is leaching out of it every day until it’s no good and you have to get rid of it and buy something else. That Dojo cat wore something. I tried to listen, I was yesterday in the gym, I was poking through the popular videos on YouTube. That music is so bad. Sounded, I just gotta go through these pretty quickly because I want to get to the Space Odyssey at the end. So Question three is about the nowhere self people are surprised to find out that they live somewhere. And that’s kind of funny. If you go here a comedian, a comedian will start mentioning towns and people start cheering Oh, he mentioned my town. That’s odd. Why is it the fearful self? Why is it? I think this is probably true for me. It’s It’s why you might be able to speak in front of 1000 people but not one rather give a speech to a bunch of people then make small talk at a party. Well, and his his thought there is the self isn’t that at risk speaking to 1000 people. Whereas it is when you’re speaking one on one. Johnny Carson was like this. He hated talking to just ordinary folks. Or he hated talking to just people one on one he hated on but he could do the show every night. He used to have a show dear listener. It was the most popular show on television Tonight Show. Yeah, it continues in question five
Scott Hambrick 58:38
and six. Question six, the fearful self three how the self tries to escape its predicament thought experiment, and which of the two following situations would you find yourself more shy? addressing an audience of 500 of your fellow townsmen. Or to journeying to the valley of the blind described an HG Wells story and addressing 500 Strange people who cannot see you explain your choice. And I made a little marginalia there. It says, Who cares? I just couldn’t get worked up about this. It would be completely irrelevant to me.
Karl Schudt 59:19
No, I don’t want to talk to my townsmen the second one who would you rather be? Would you rather be Mickey Rooney or Johnny Carson? Who’s terrified and hides in parties? Or yourself? I don’t know. I hate parties. I don’t know. I like them. I hate parties with people. I don’t know. Hate it.
Scott Hambrick 59:37
Yeah. Me too. In the corner. I haven’t I have reasons though.
Karl Schudt 59:43
Yeah, what are they?
Scott Hambrick 59:44
I have met 1000s and 1000s of people in my life and you have to and all of us have and the goodness of fit is just not very good. You know, of all the 1000s of people I’ve known or about 11 of them. I’d like To have dinner with. And I just don’t have time for that. I don’t have time. I’m not going to walk the earth long enough to go meet those people at that party and be disappointed by them, and so on. I’d rather just go ahead and eat with you and Melissa.
Karl Schudt 1:00:19
Mm hmm. If it’s people I don’t know. So you know me pretty well, by now. We’ve been talking, you know, seven hours a week, it seems with two podcasts at a party. You meet somebody? Do they really want to know you? Oh, no, they don’t really want to know me for sure. They don’t really. So no, no. Karl, what do you do? And then I tell them, and then they walk away. It nobody wants to talk about old books. Nobody wants to talk about weightlifting. Nobody wants to talk about philosophy that is, oh, you you’ve you’ve got a PhD in philosophy. I wouldn’t even tell them that. Or they come up and say, Oh, you, you. You’re a philosopher, which isn’t quite true. But then the last the second question, Oh, yeah. Who’s your favorite philosopher?
Scott Hambrick 1:01:12
Who is your favorite philosopher?
Karl Schudt 1:01:17
It’s like, like, it’s a baseball game. Who’s your favorite player? You know? What? Okay, do you really want to talk about Socrates? Do you really want to talk about Nietzsche,
Scott Hambrick 1:01:27
they don’t know what to say, you know, they don’t know what to say. And I don’t know
Karl Schudt 1:01:31
how to respond to them. And so what you end up doing, rather than revealing something of the self, you talk about the bears. Which I guess is the football team in Chicago. I couldn’t name a player.
Scott Hambrick 1:01:47
I thought, you know, like the gay trucker guys.
Karl Schudt 1:01:53
Maybe that’s who they were named after
Scott Hambrick 1:01:55
the twinks versus the bears,
Karl Schudt 1:01:57
you don’t want to Gosh, you don’t really want to reveal yourself. They’re not interested. They wouldn’t know how to deal with you if you did, right. And so the both of you probably retreat back into masks, and you’re going to act like a certain person at a party. And this is where you get that Novelis kind of three, level four level thinking. It’s just exhausting.
Scott Hambrick 1:02:24
When I do the orientation at on line, great books. I tell people that when we do these seminars, we end up talking about the most important things. When you do a seminar about over Plato’s work, you’re gonna end up talking about justice, love, virtue, and the good life and all that stuff. And and I tell them, that’s the opposite of small talk. You can walk into the break room and talk to Steve for 26 years. And small talk and not know a thing about Steve. You might know his girls and Girl Scouts, because they’re selling he’s selling those damn cookies again at this time of the year. But we really don’t know anything about the guy. But if you do the big talk, you talk about those important things. If you do a show with Carl, about this, whatever, you’re going to know something about each other. Seems obvious to me and a party. Not not all parties are the same. But the sort of general party that we’re talking about. It’s just it’s just not even the right venue to do the important thing. You can’t even do it. And so I don’t want to go now. Am I supposed to write 40 pages? I don’t know. I don’t know. Let me go do that. I have other preferences to know what should I do?
Karl Schudt 1:03:56
I want to talk about the Donahue show. Like that one
Scott Hambrick 1:03:59
God. Yeah, I did. I did. You know, I don’t know if anybody would enjoy it. If they hadn’t seen Donahue. He had the biggest daytime talk show. Ever. Until Oprah beat him out. Phil Donahue, he was married to Oh my gosh. Marilu Henner. So he’s married to know Marlo Thomas. Marlo Thomas. Danny Thomas. Yeah, kid, that show. It was It began in Dayton, Ohio in the end of it, and then he moved to New York City. And it was it was it was basically the same format as Oprah show that’s been off. She’s still alive years. It’s still on. No, he’s
Karl Schudt 1:04:38
still alive. Oh, yeah. He’s
Scott Hambrick 1:04:39
Karl Schudt 1:04:41
Oh, he went to my he went to my college.
Scott Hambrick 1:04:45
Oh my gosh. You know, he would have people on, you know, he might have somebody had a new book out and in talk to that person. He I think he had iron Rand on there at one point, you know, and then they would do a question and answer thing and he would run around The audience of this stupid microphone and field questions and and then you would have panel shows too.
Karl Schudt 1:05:06
It was a highbrow Jerry Springer. Yes, maybe not very highbrow, middlebrow.
Scott Hambrick 1:05:12
Oh no, the guy was beloved really? I mean, he was just like an American institution for 30 years.
Karl Schudt 1:05:19
Well, he shows up in the book. Yeah, we get the last Donahue show, which cracks me up. And this is where, for me the book starts to get really good. Phil’s talking about sexual preference, which is a kind of show that he would have. You know, he would always you always push everything left. But in a nice way, and you know, a nice friendly Irish Catholic way. Well, don’t you think that it would be okay. And so he has guests on there. He has Bill who is a a frequenter of Buena Vista Park in San Francisco, you have Allen, a businessman who likes the lunchtime liaison, you have pregnant 14 year old penny, and Dr. Joyce Friday. They’re all there to talk about sexuality, and they’re giving the standard answers that you would get in you know, 1975 on the Donahue show, which is so what it’s all right. Whatever I do is okay. The bill says such encounters as I do have her by mutual consent in there, boy, therefore, nobody’s business except my study live in friends. Naturally, he’s upset, but that’s our problem. And Doctor, of course, Dr. Joyce, which is Dr. Joyce Brothers, but Dr. Joyce Friday, right. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. Alan goes off to his lunchtime liaisons and talks about the joy of you know, seeing the woman and you know, making eye contact and then you and she have an understanding, and then you know, going up the elevator and everything’s fine, the wife understands. And then we have Penny, who got pregnant because her best friend was pregnant. And so it’s a standard Phil Donahue show. But then, three strangers show up. And they are John Calvin, Colonel John Pelham, and somebody else, an alien. And I just think it’s hilarious. John, Calvin doesn’t understand the commercial break. So he starts talking before they even make it back from commercial says, what I have heard is licentiates Talk about deeds which are an abomination before God meriting eternal damnation unless they repent and throw themselves on God’s mercy, which they are predestined to do or not to do, so why bother to discuss it? And then you have Colonel John Pell and John Pelham is a Confederate artillery Colonel for Robert Ely. Stewart died in the war. You can look him up. He’s handsome. I thought he was handsome. My daughters didn’t. He’s not that handsome. So Calvin says it’s all an abomination what they doing, Pelham says, I thought this was interesting. That’s not the way people should talk or act. Where I come from, we’d call them white trash. That’s no way to talk. If you’re a man or a woman gentleman knows how to treat women. He knows because he knows himself who he is, what his obligations are. And he did start to set but after all, you won the war. So that’s the way you want to act. It’s your affair. At least we can be sure of one thing. What’s that, Colonel? We’re not sorry. We fought. So for him. So you have Calvin it’s all an abomination for Pelham. It’s just not the way people act. You don’t go you know, do you don’t go cruising in Buena Vista Park. You don’t cheat on your wife at a business meeting in 14 year olds probably shouldn’t be pregnant.
Scott Hambrick 1:08:50
And for Pella, it’s because the person knows himself.
Karl Schudt 1:08:54
Right? Well, but he knew himself in the pre war south. And that’s all gone. Yeah. And so tell him his way doesn’t work anymore. Yeah. You got to find a new way. Then aliens speaks up. This is where it gets really interesting.
Scott Hambrick 1:09:17
The cosmic stranger,
Karl Schudt 1:09:19
the cosmic stranger. It’s like the eleatic Stranger in Plato’s laws. I have nothing to say to you about God or the Confederacy, whatever that is, I assume it’s not the GTV Confederacy and the sound of the galaxy though I couldn’t speak about God, but it’s too late for you. And I’m not here to do that. He says, We are not interested in the varieties of your sexual behavior except as a symptom of a more important disorder. It’s that this disorder which concerns us, which we do not fully understand, see, the aliens have figured out that we are screwed up. That we are by nature, sentimental, murderous, self hating and self destructive. And so it takes The alien story and in turns it around. The aliens are afraid of the humans because the humans are a mess. Which you could see from the guests on the Donahue show, these are not these are not behaviors you’d find in nature. Or maybe pennies you would. There’s something odd about human beings. And so the alien says, Well, we’re gonna, we’re gonna deal with your problem. So within the next 24 hours, your last war will begin, every American city and town will be hit, you will lose 100 60 million immediately and 50 million later. He’s there to collect a specimen, he’s gonna take Penny and see if he can raise her and see if the problem is genetic or if it’s cultural. And then he says, there is one place where the effect that will escape all effects of both blast and Fallout. And it’s the community of lost Cove, Tennessee, which is right on the Alabama border. It’s an actual places a mile and a half long valley. We do not anticipate a stampede to Tennessee our projection is that very few of you here and you out there in radio land will attach credibility to this message. But the few of you who do may wish to use this information. There’s a cave there, corn grits, collard greens, and folk sausage and abundance. This is the end of my message, Penny. And then Don, he says we’re long, go to break. Alright, so the question after hearing all of that, would you go to law school of Tennessee?
Scott Hambrick 1:11:32
Karl Schudt 1:11:35
kind of already did. So I like the way he flips it. He’s obviously read some of the same science fiction I have. But it’s always the humans that are the heroes going into the galaxy to civilize it and bring happy human slash American goodness, to the universe. The aliens are freaked out. Because we keep murdering each other. And we don’t appear to have good self placement, as evidenced by Weird things like fashion and our sexual habits. And gosh, probably Instagram nowadays. And so it might be that if humans are messed up, it might be that the aliens, aren’t
Scott Hambrick 1:12:26
they but they are to come on.
Karl Schudt 1:12:28
Well, how do you know? I mean, Star Trek aliens are but they’re just humans with stuff on their faces.
Scott Hambrick 1:12:34
sentience does that, then things become options. And then errors are possible? Well, our
Karl Schudt 1:12:41
only experience of a sentient creature is a human being. As far as we know, right? We don’t know what it would be like somewhere else. We don’t know that it is always messed up. And so that’s an interesting question as to whether I mean, I think that’s borrowing from Kurt Vonnegut to you know, with the aliens be like us, with aliens have fashions with aliens have wars where they kill each other.
Scott Hambrick 1:13:12
So I have this home book group where we read stuff, and then we discuss it. And there’s a guy in that group. And he always wants to bring alternate universes or quantum this or whatever, I might well just make up some more shit. Like, who cares? What are you talking about? I feel the same way about alien problem.
Karl Schudt 1:13:34
All right, come on. So this is the question it you said it’s a problem of sentience. Yes. I don’t know that. It’s a problem of sentience.
Scott Hambrick 1:13:42
Well, I just I just assumed that we are the only sentience that there is. And therefore I think it’s a problem, sentience. If there’s other sentience, whatever, okay.
Karl Schudt 1:13:54
This is why I think it’s an important question. If it is a problem of sentience, then there is no way out. Exactly. That’s just the way things are. There’s no cure. Okay, if it is, if it is not a problem of sentience, but a problem of humans, somehow some catastrophe has happened and messed us up, then there is the possibility of help. Okay, then there’s a possibility that maybe you might be able to fix it. And so you you said, for Percy his faith oughta ants ought to have answered this. Well, in order to get help, you have to ask for it. And you have to figure out that help is actually possible. So generally, when I’m going through this, if having an intellect causes you to be the sort of murderers sentimental death dealings, screwed up thing that humans generally are, then there’s no escape from that. It has to be conceptually and in reality, it has to be a catastrophe. It has to be Something that’s curable, or what would be the point of so Percy, he was stuck in a sanitarium he had tuberculosis. And so he had to quit his job as a doctor. And he, you know, he would read Kierkegaard and dusty ASCII and Thomas Aquinas and ended up being a novelist, probably helped that his buddy was Shelby Foote. But while he’s there, he’s got a friend that gets up and goes to mass in the morning, and he starts doing it. And so he ends up doing it, he ends up making a leap and adopting a faith. Why would you do it unless you thought it could do some good? And what sort of thing does a human being have to be for it to do some good? You have to be redeemable. And if we’re gonna just treat humans as a merely natural thing, which you’ve seen, doesn’t make a lot of sense, because humans are the by far the oddest animal on the planet. But if you were to treat a human as a natural thing, there’s nothing to fix. And there’s no need for any kind of religion. And there’d be no solution possible from any kind of religion or belief system or anything. You just be stuck as the word is ridiculous is trying to teach the lion to eat vegetables.
making any sense?
Scott Hambrick 1:16:30
Yeah, I’m fine with all that.
Karl Schudt 1:16:33
Yeah, but it’s a different thing that what you said you were saying? Well, it’s just the way sentience is. If it’s just the way sentience is, there’s no cure. That’s right. Okay, when I’m saying is, it’s not the way sentience has to be it’s the way sentience currently is on this with humans.
Scott Hambrick 1:16:51
Okay, then fine. You know, I’ll add the currently and that’s fine.
Karl Schudt 1:16:55
Otherwise, it’s, you know, another version of total depravity, right? Which, what’s the point? If it’s all totally depraved, then? You know, you’re screwed? Yeah. So the examinations of the way, these sorts of questions can raise the possibility of sorry, this is a modern philosophy thing. We’re always talking about the possibilities of possibilities. That help could be sought and could be received. I think I’m losing you.
Scott Hambrick 1:17:24
I mean, I understand I understand the problem. But yeah, I don’t I don’t want to I don’t want to make this a religious show. But I mean, it just fixes this stuff. You know, it just fixes it.
Karl Schudt 1:17:39
Maybe it fixes it.
Scott Hambrick 1:17:41
You know, if we if we allow the current in there, okay. You know, I Santi and things are currently like this. That doesn’t mean they always will be and that it can be fixed.
Karl Schudt 1:17:53
Yeah, well, how do you fix it? Way down? Okay, what do you mean by we don’t?
Scott Hambrick 1:17:59
Well, we don’t you know, this is this is the this is the religious or Christian aspect of this. You don’t? It gets fixed for you.
Karl Schudt 1:18:10
Okay, okay. So in order to be the sort of being that can be fixed. You’ve got to be different than all the other stuff. You can’t be like, the natural things. There’s something different about you. Well, what is it? That’s different? Lions don’t need any help?
Scott Hambrick 1:18:29
Yes, it’s, again, it’s the fallenness thing.
Karl Schudt 1:18:34
Yeah. Okay. So this is that’s another way you could think about it. So this last, this last in the cosmic self help book is an attempt to explain or talk about the phenomena that religions have called original sin. And to do it in terms that maybe a late 20th century person could understand. Because we’re told, I mean, if you read BF Skinner, or something else, or some of these other people or Darwin, you there’s nothing wrong with humans. There’s absolutely nothing wrong. It’s just the way we are. Well, the scientists can’t even explain himself. You know, everything can be explained in terms of behaviorism except BF Skinner. Yeah, so I think the project of poking holes and all of that, this idea that you can understand everything, including yourself, who are just after all another object in the cosmos, that’s got to be blown up that Carl Sagan crap has to go. Yeah. And so explaining the weirdness or you can’t explain it, showing the weirdness of the human being becomes valuable like in Chapter Nine is about envy and about how we, we lots of us actually like to hear bad news. You heard that we invaded Canada or it’d be a good Day
Scott Hambrick 1:20:03
Yeah, that’s not the kind of good news. The bad kind of bad news I enjoy, but I certainly do enjoy. There’s there’s some bad news. I’m looking forward to hearing. Every morning I wake up hopefully for some of it.
Karl Schudt 1:20:17
Yeah. But I remember because I remember how cheerful everybody was in Gulf War One. I remember how, believe it or not, how cheerful many people were after the twin towers came down. Yes, yes. They were very, very sad. But they’re also excited. Mm hmm. Everybody had a glow about them. Because at least it wasn’t boring. Yeah, he has this question in here. news bulletin a UFO has landed in Nebraska and vaporized Omaha this news is for you, a unrelieved Lee bad. after all. There’s nothing good about the loss of 200 to several 100,000 people or be putatively bad, but secretly not so bad. I don’t know anybody in Omaha, there’s someone. It’s something extremely interesting about an authenticated UFO visitation. But all these cases of news that, you know, should just be bad, but maybe isn’t so bad.
Scott Hambrick 1:21:16
Yeah, this will make me think about, you know, us collapsing Easter’s, you know, looking for them. But it’s not. It’s not. It’s not like he has bad news.
Karl Schudt 1:21:28
But he know, the collapsing Easter’s want to just annihilate everything that exists. Which is probably another thing you want to examine?
Scott Hambrick 1:21:38
Well, I don’t want to validate everything that that exists. We want to see the inflection point. We want to see the big turn around the point at which it can be improved. It’s not the want to see everything gone.
Karl Schudt 1:21:50
Yeah. So this is just you know, you hear bad news about your neighbor and you’re secretly pleased.
Scott Hambrick 1:21:54
Yeah, yeah. This is the kind of more petty
Karl Schudt 1:21:57
right if bad things happened to your your old neighbor in Tulsa. Yeah. And you would publicly say, oh, gosh, that’s terrible. And then you chuckle I don’t know. Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you’re intact enough that you wouldn’t do this, but many of us, you know. Gosh, that’s terrible. chuckle