Scribbled Notes on the Importance of Provocation

“Great art has dreadful manners…”

– Simon Shama

“It is important to have this idea in one’s mind, because otherwise one fails to grasp the whole spirit of modern Science-Philosophy. It does not aim at Truth; it does not conceive of Truth (in any ordinary sense of the word) as possible; it aims at maximum convenience.”

– Aleister Crowley

The enemy of philosophy is comfort, whether it be the philosophy of Art, Science, or Religion. I believe the aim should be truth seeking and its inevitable provocations, knowing that the process of seeking is fraught with necessary kludges and haphazard experimentation.

Knowledge is painful. Moving forward requires muscles, and muscles require exercise to stay useful. Tango dancers are not born, they practise themselves into being.

In the West, with the rise of the middle class after the Second World War, we increasingly have seen our lives surrounded – nay swaddled – in easy-to-access comforts: emotional, intellectual, spiritual.

Youths strictly consider university and college as a direct line toward employment and the beginning of their professional lives; the knowledge and the knowledge seeking of those institutions reduced to a utilitarian concept for sake of securing a Degree. When you graduate, it’s all about your career, which becomes tied to money with the paying of debts, the purchasing of cars and houses, the investments for retirement. Along this linear path, comforts are sought to take our minds off this linearity; these comforts do not refute linearity but provide means to make the linearity easier. The lawnmower, for example.

And if one day, a biologist or a philosopher writes something which reiterates the natural chaos of our human lives, we frown and ignore it. Some of us will demand our money back (whether possible or not) and walk away in a huff to their air-conditioned livingroom/car.

Again, the seeking of truth leads to conceptual provocation and whatever truths we manage to unearth often come without directions for usage. But I will accept the kludges, the orphaned questions begging at the back of my head, if I feel that it brings us one step closer to knowing more about nature and human existence.


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