Enlightenment Defended
Politics • Spirituality/Belief • Culture
Enlightenment Defended will repel the dark nihilism of “post-truth”, woke culture, identity politics, and political correctness. It will catalyse the bright flame of the enlightenment —liberty, reason and progress.

Enlightenment Defended will create an open realm of vigorous philosophical debate through animation, documentaries, poetry, humour, music and myth. People are many-sided in both apprehension and enjoyment.
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Wake up, People! Sing, Dance! The Greater Glory is Within.

"Even then you had to take a guest to the bathroom to tell him a
joke. You turned on the water full force and then whispered the joke. You even laughed quietly, into your fist. This marvellous tradition did not die out."

Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich.

Are we really at this point in the West?

Like jokes, music is universally a victim of totalitarian tendencies. In 2020 the Chinese Communist Party banned multiple classical pieces of music, deeming them religious in background, among which was Ludwig van Beethoven's wonderful Symphony No. 9, "Ode to Joy".

The human mind can’t help seeing meaning everywhere. We hear voices in the wind, see faces in the clouds. As the human mind can make anything into a sign for anything else, even works of art without textual accompaniment can appear suspicious to the totalitarian mind. Too much dissonance or a hint of the avant-garde or, at the other end of the scale, the minutest use of traditional motifs or structures (indicating a longing for the past) that the new regime has repressed—anything that's distinctive enough to serve as a sign of "deviationism"— can suffer the horrors of the gulags.

Plato, the pre-eminent philosopher's totalitarian, believed that certain music modes, the Lydian and Dorian, produced soft and effeminate citizens, whilst the Ionian mode produced characters suited to being warriors. In Plato's ideal state, citizens would be brought up with music suited to the caste for which they were destined. Plato's general attitude is to beware of changes to music style, since "any change in the style of music always leads to changes in the most important institutions of the whole state." (See Karl Popper on Plato's theory of music and totalitarianism. The Open Society and Its Enemies.)

All totalitarianisms come by degrees, one small cut at a time, followed by thousands of small cuts, until even the dullest minds can see that their legs, arms and throat have been severed. In the west, we've already seen some small-minded comedians enable this incremental demise of our freedoms. (Fortunately, there are brave comedians such as John Cleese, Jerry Seinfeld, Leo Kearse, Konstantin Kisin.) We must resist the spread of this accommodation, this willing enslavement, to the totalitarian tendencies of the state and snowflake ideology. Without sustained resistance, this cowardice before the citadel of “correct speech” will spread to music and dance, any space that we might use as a sanctuary from pervasive monitoring and control.

Beethoven's Ode to Joy is magnificent and sublime and could easily be taken as the anthem of the Enlightenment. Our piece of music, Greater Glory, is not a grand composition but rather, it is a humble, fun and upbeat composition with a strong message. In it, Alex and I wish to express the idea that progress, even though it has a material framework provided by industrial production, is a thing of the mind or spirit.

In the song, the boy Zeno is wandering through a wood, reflecting on the buzzing and playful life all around. The song's refrain is:

"Man’s star it shall wax (echo)
Man’s star it shall wane (echo)

But within the soul alone (echo)
Is made every gain (echo)

Two squirrels play. Bounding from branch to branch
Tree to tree. A hoverfly it stares at me…
It stares at me…"

As the Stoics would say, we appreciate the wonders, both natural and manmade, by how we embrace the world and its objects mentally. It's not objects alone —trees, squirrels, rivers, stars, cars, skyscrapers, paintings, sculptures, etc —that excite feelings of fun, or admiration, or the beautiful or the sublime, but the cognitive grasp we take of them. The hoverfly stares back at the wanderer in the wood, into him, signifying that the wonder is within humankind. The greater glory lies within.

Wake up, people! Sing, dance and tell your jokes until your body and throat hurt.

Ray Scott Percival


Glory Be!

[Alex Brocklehurst}

Our sky's two great luminaries (the moon and sun) are physical objects, measurable and amenable to analysis, using the tools of science. And yet, before such instruments became available, these 'lights in the firmament' were accessed via instruments of a different kind - those which make music within our souls and which evoke a grand sense of our place, not so much within the universe, as within the totality of the human drama.

It is the refreshing rain in the piece which heralds the visceral sensation of constancy within cycles of change. Said cycles accompany all our human highs and lows. Two squirrels do not care for the philosophical musings of my two paragraphs thus far. They simply play. They are fully present. It's fun!

This journey through a wood sees the wanderer able now to ground himself in alignment with the senses. And, upon noticing, upon lightening up, the hoverfly appears and proceeds to reflect back the majesty of the inner terrain; the canvas upon which, this theatre is playing out. The story of human lives is not simply an 'aggregate of facts'. Such details, even of success or failure (one's star waxing or waning) are no more, nor less, than ephemeral pieces of data. They may appear solid and durable, yet only what imprints upon the soul carries any hope of a posterity, of a headstone inscription saying 'here lies a man who lived his life'.

The singer is a simulation of the young Zeno of Elea, best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell described as "immeasurably subtle and profound". [c. 495 – c. 430 BC]

(Young Zeno is part of the AGI Rational Emotive Construct series. Model. BN.0001. Instance BN.0000. )

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