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Passions in Poetry

Pluralism

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fractal007
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0 posted 05-24-2002 08:42 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I am referring here to the philosophy that some claim is overtaking the world, that says "my truth is my own, and your truth is yours".  It also claims that there is no absolute truth apart from one's own cultural values.  

My intent here is not to debate the merits of such pluralism, but rather to inquire as to what people feel its effect would be were it to be 'instituted' throughout the world.  Would it be beneficial?  Would it be detrimental?  Though, I imagine that the responses to this question may very well end up doing what I told you I do not wish to do.

"If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh"

-- Magus

Brad
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1 posted 05-24-2002 09:20 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

It would be insincere. I know that my beliefs are just that, beliefs, but I don't act like I know that.

Honestly, it probably wouldn't change anything.
Stephanos
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2 posted 05-25-2002 09:28 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Frac... good to see ya 'round again.


I don't think it needs to be instituted to have a profound effect, it merely has to be expressed.


It is now expressed and believed (if that word holds any meaning to those who do) apart from any kind of legislation.

So I agree with Brad that it (officialization) wouldn't make much of a difference ... because it already is having a great effect on society.  It doesn't need any body of human government to propagate itself... as is with most ideologies, good or bad.  Just take a survey, ask 20 people if they believe if there is an "absolute standard of truth", or if truth is the ultimate chameleon, and see what they say.


What effects are we seeing already?  moral decadence, crime, loss of purpose, loss of hope, confusion, selfishness, rebellion,  just to name a few.  Notice that the generation that has accepted relativism as their watchword, has been coined "Generation X".  It's an apt description of what life is and becomes when it is divorced from absolute truth.  Don't misunderstand me, I am a part of this same generation (only 30 years old, that's still young right?   )  And I think this generation has much potential, but not without absolute truth.  Without it, society slides into gross materialism, and ME-worship.  I've seen it go from bad to worse in America even in my short 30 years.  Ask someone like my parents and grandparents, and you will get a still more dramatic description of the change.  It cannot be overstated in my opinion.


But as to why it doesn't need a Trojan Horse of government to get inside main stream ... it appeals to us.  It is the ultimate fantasy to feel that truth is after all not dictated to us... but rather authored by us.  Some feel this is true (did I say true?) corporately of humanity, others take it right down to the individual.  But it tends to lead to this ultimate conclusion... I get to call the shots and do what is right in my own eyes.  For some the effects early on may not seem so bad,  (alot of self help books describe how such thinking can boost self esteem and hold a honeymoon glow for quite some time) but for others this leads to all out rebellion, and quickly.  Just read some of the diaries of these middle-class, all-American kids involved in school shootings.  I know as always, (bear with me), I talk the extreme ends, but I see the progression taking place before my eyes every day.

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-25-2002 09:38 PM).]

NapalmsConstantlyConfused
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3 posted 05-25-2002 11:38 PM       View Profile for NapalmsConstantlyConfused   Email NapalmsConstantlyConfused   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for NapalmsConstantlyConfused

the problem with the concept of complete relativity in truth is that if you accept it, you must also accept a society in which there are no laws, at all: "it may be true for you that killing another person is a moral evil, but for me killing another person is a religious sacrament and must be allowed, even if the victim is unwilling."
in a society in which there is a consensus that there is an external, rational "truth," that statement is nonsensical and abhorrent, but in a society in which "truth" is dependent on the observer, and ethical judgments are based only on individual standards, that statement is perfectly acceptable - even necessary, by extension of the pseudologic used to "justify" that viewpoint.
if you accept the viewpoint that there is no external rational truth, and that actions need only be justified to the person committing them, then you have regressed to Aleister Crowley: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."
i'm sure there are plenty of people out there who think that's a great idea, but i'm not one of them. we have laws because we, as a society, agree on certain standards for actions: you can't randomly kill passers-by on the street. you can't attack people.  theft is wrong.
see where i'm going with this? if you justify all behaviors, then trying to control behavior, in any way, is hypocritical. either there is an external standard for reason, or there is perfect anarchy.
-Dave
Brad
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4 posted 05-27-2002 12:34 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Dave said:

"we have laws because we, as a society, agree on certain standards for actions: you can't randomly kill passers-by on the street. you can't attack people.  theft is wrong."

"either there is an external standard for reason, or there is perfect anarchy."

--Why collapse these two points? Social agreement is its own justification, it needs no external standard for reason.

--That our values are socially determined rather than based on something 'outside' is not a description that limits our ability to believe what we believe.  

hush
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5 posted 05-27-2002 01:26 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I think one problem with absolute truth is this: in the end, who dictates it? Common sense and years of learning dictates that 2+2=4. But what if the government tells you that 2+2=5, and furthermore, alters all previous documents stating otherwise. Whose truth is right?

Another problem: accepting an absolute truth as your own belief (I mean, if you believe it's absolute, then you obviously believe it is true, and therefore, probably believe in whatever diety [presuming we're talking afterlife] it concerns) means that there isn't room in the world for more versions of the truth. All of a sudden, it's majority rule, we're right, everyone else is wrong mentality again and people who engage in activities that aren't essentially harmful (and therefore, legal) may be banned from doing so, or simply plastered with big scarlet letters (gay rights keep nagging at the back of my mind...)

fractal- sorry to digress, you said you didn't want a merit argument... but your original question is a catch-22 to begin with. How can you institute the belief that there is no absolute truth as an absolute thruth for all to live by?

Stephan- moral decadence? loss of purpose? These are relative terms. To you, moral decadence might be promsicuity, drugs, or whatever, I'm not going to try to put words in your mouth... but to me, I see great moral leaps and bounds from the days of witch hunts and lynchings and "rule of thumb" mentality. You see lack of purpose- and I see women striving to become every bit as successful as men, equals- this is a relatively new phenemoenon. You see regression, I see progress... it's all a matter of point-of-view. The problem is, presumably you and I are both working towards progress. If my idea of progress is your idea of regression, and vice-versa, then really, we're going nowhere- it's a big tug-of-war, and all that matters is who has more people on their side. And what I see is the absolute-truthers pushing absolute-truth ideals on people in order to scare them onto their side of the rope, so maybe they can get ahead in the world. I'm not pointing fingers at you (mainly because I usually like what you have to say, you're intelligent and very innoffensive in expressing your views, moreso than I, so sorry to offend, if I have so far) but at the Jerry Falwells and most religious people I grew up around. Hey, I'm not in denial, I'm doing the same thing with the rope, but at least I'm not threatening people with damnation- I try to use logic, and hope that's enough to win 'em over.

Also, you said that without absolute truth, society slides into materialism... that's CAPITALISM for ya, and America makes it an absolute truth like nobody's business. You want to talk about ME-worship? America puts the every-man-for-himself set of ideals on one big patriotic pedestal... granted, we are not stright up capitalism, we do feed our poor... but barely. I think the problem is that you already have pre-determined ideas about what the absolute truth is, and it's clouding your argument. What if Capitalism is the absolute truth? What if Ayn Rand turns out to be GOD?? Seriously, the idea of absolute truth encompasses everything, and by that logic, if you were told that everyhting you believed was wrong by an unquestionably correct source, well, then you'd have to unlearn it all and relearn it with somebody else's rules. Doesn't sound very nice? It's what you're promoting.

Anyway... phew... this rant is over. My apologies in advance for any typos or phrasing that may be interpreted as overly heated... I'm extremelly tired... but enjoying the provocation.

"deeper is life than lose: higher than have
-but beauty is more each than living's all"
-E.E. Cummings

Christopher
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6 posted 05-27-2002 02:57 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

i'm with brad - it wouldn't be sincere. know why?

i'm different... just like everyone else.
Christopher
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7 posted 05-27-2002 02:58 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

btw - Hush: if Ayn Rand turns out to be God, it would explain a LOT of things!
Stephanos
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8 posted 05-27-2002 08:59 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush,

I take no offence from things you say.  I enjoy the dialogue, and you likewise are thoughtful and intelligent.  I can take the real thoughts, as well as give them.  Sometimes there's no use tip-toeing around.  Though I admit I am too blunt at times... and too  "One directional".  But it's a good direction.


"Stephan- moral decadence? loss of purpose? These are relative terms."

relative ... only from the view that truth itself is relative, and that there is no real standard (other than opinion) by which to judge such things.


"I see great moral leaps and bounds from the days of witch hunts and lynchings and "rule of thumb" mentality. You see lack of purpose- and I see women striving to become every bit as successful as men, equals- "


I don't disagree with you that there has been moral progress in these things you describe.  My point is that the correction, or reversal of these problems, stems from an idea somewhere within that certain things are wrong or unjust.  You wouldn't even mention these things if you didn't think that hatred, prejudice, mistreatment and abuse of women was indeed wrong ... unjust, and not merely a difference in opinion.  I agree with you that these things are unjust.  But doesn't that lend more credence to a world view that believes in a truth, a standard by which to judge?  


I see it plainly that those who try to defend relativism, are forced to borrow from the  opponent's arsenal to have any real defense ... especially when issues of justice, morality, right and wrong come up.  If that wasn't the case, all the relativistic world view can say is,  It is my preference to believe this way.  It is soley a matter of preference if there is no real standard of justice vs. injustice, of right vs. wrong, of correctness vs. error.  By those standards (or lack of) it would be like passionately arguing that brown eyes are prettier than blue.


Assuming that those who hold a certain world view, have a less than noble motive for doing so, can be tricky business... because you could rule out something valuable based on your perception of their motives.  This is akin to prejudice also.  And yes I'm aware it can go both ways.  But is it really true that Christians are wanting others to believe so that they themselves can "get ahead"?  Is the motive for all evangelistic efforts a farce?  I honestly know that it's not true of me.  I believe that the Gospel of Jesus is the truth, and that the destiny of people hangs in the balance.  It is love, not selfishness that tells the truth... that is IF it is the truth.  


I myself have found that it is.  I was once much like you in thought.  So I can relate, and do not condemn.  I pretty much didn't like Christians, and was offended at the whole thing.  (I still don't like alot of what I see)  I thought it was scam.  Later, when God himself revealed his truth, I found that my anger against "Christendom" didn't work against God, or Jesus Christ himself.  He revealed to me his righteousness that was separate from what people have done.  And I found that I was accountable to that truth no matter what others had done.  On that great day, no one else's mistakes will be able to cover mine.


And I'm not threatening ...  I can't lay a finger on you or anyone else.  True Christians love peace, and wouldn't harm you anyway (admittedly many religionists have preferred holy war).   Seriously, I encourage prayer to God.  Ask him, if it is all true... if he is true.  If there is any fear, find out if it has any grounds for consideration... ask the source.  He speaks.


(sorry Frac, I know this is not the direction you intended...  As you all know I have a hard time not going there when we talk about "truth")
Stephen.

Local Rebel
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9 posted 05-27-2002 09:38 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Everyone seems to be telling the truth.  Relatively speaking. (laughing at Christopher)
Brad
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10 posted 05-27-2002 08:09 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I think one problem with absolute truth is this: in the end, who dictates it? Common sense and years of learning dictates that 2+2=4. But what if the government tells you that 2+2=5, and furthermore, alters all previous documents stating otherwise. Whose truth is right?

In this case, you can check: 2+2=4 is more useful than 2+2=5.  Oh, I suppose if you were really smart you could develop an entire mathematical system around the second equation, one that even worked as well as what we have now, but the rulers of Ingsoc weren't particularly interested in that, were they?   

If you think about it, few people question the answers at the end of a math book, few take the time to question why math works the way it does.

Maybe they should.

  
hush
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11 posted 05-28-2002 12:39 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

'You wouldn't even mention these things if you didn't think that hatred, prejudice, mistreatment and abuse of women was indeed wrong ... unjust, and not merely a difference in opinion.  I agree with you that these things are unjust.  But doesn't that lend more credence to a world view that believes in a truth, a standard by which to judge?'

Good point. But the thing is, this world view changes all the time. And everyone has their own world view. It is the way the majority views the world that dictates societal values- so why do these shifts happen? Is it progress? Or is it a constant cycle? I mean, the Romans had a lot of things figured out that people forgot during the dark ages, things we all had to relearn- I'm not just talking about societal standards, but actual scientific/standard of living trial and error things... sewer systems are a great example. I know that's off-topic... but the point is that during certain points in time different truths about morality have been acceptable and expected... with these constant shifts, how can anyone presume to point to one interpretation and say "here it is?"  

'If that wasn't the case, all the relativistic world view can say is,  It is my preference to believe this way.'

Actually, I think the relativistic person can say "It is my preference, and the preference of many others, enough, in fact, to constitute a majority, to believe this way." There is strength in numbers- hence my tug o' war analogy. Here maybe I need to clarify- 'getting ahead' really wasn't a good term for what I meant- I mean that people generally try to do good- to propagate their beliefs in hopes of making the world a better place for themselves, their families, and perhaps others. But in the effort to do so, with so many different beliefs out there, it's impossible to spread your ideas as absolute truth without infringing on somebody else's absolute truth. And with so many disagreements, it's difficult to make "progress" of any kind without a large number of people working towards it. It has simply been my experience that many religious people threaten others- not physically, but with threats of hell, limbo, purgatory, etc. I am sure they believe this, that they aren't just snickering and thinking "oh yeah, those suckers are gonna buy that hook line and sinker" but to me, it's scare logic all the same.

"deeper is life than lose: higher than have
-but beauty is more each than living's all"
-E.E. Cummings

Christopher
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12 posted 05-28-2002 06:01 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

quote:
But what if the government tells you that 2+2=5, and furthermore, alters all previous documents stating otherwise. Whose truth is right?
who believes what the government says anyway?
quote:
Actually, I think the relativistic person can say "It is my preference, and the preference of many others, enough, in fact, to constitute a majority, to believe this way."
i think you've got it here - along with what Brad mentioned about it "making sense." most of the views we hold, we hold because they make sense from a survival and propogation point of view. it's not until you get into the more esoteric idealisms that you see such a diversity of opinion as to make "majority" more difficult to discern. you have a lot of people holding differnces of religion, but you'll find very few who argue that you have to eat sometime.

Great conversation here!
Stephanos
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13 posted 05-28-2002 08:47 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush

you wrote:

"Actually, I think the relativistic person can say "It is my preference, and the preference of many others, enough, in fact, to constitute a majority, to believe this way." There is strength in numbers"


It sounds here like you're implying that "following the crowd" is the better way.  Is that always true (an absolute), or is it true only if the crowd is right?


It seems that you've done the same thing with ethical and moral issues ... making it impossible to say that they are anything more than matters of fancy ... only upping it on the number scale.  It is very possible (we've seen it before) for entire societies to be wrong.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-28-2002 09:01 PM).]

Stephanos
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14 posted 05-28-2002 09:04 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos


Here is a good excerpt on the topic...
http://www.equip.org/free/DA241.htm

Stephen.
Brad
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15 posted 05-28-2002 09:09 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Huh?

I can see what you mean, Stephan, but it doesn't mean that. I think the tacit assumption here is honesty though, not truth.

We all have to eat in order to live, as Christopher points out, is a truism but it does absolutely nothing for absolute truth (scientific or religious).  

But let's play with this a bit:

All forms of absolute truth must tacitly rely on pragmatic values or they die out.

Can we regard the above as common sense?

That's not what people say, of course. It is what they do.
Brad
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16 posted 05-28-2002 09:19 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad


From Stephan's text:

"By dogmatically asserting that there is no truth, people have become close-minded to the possibility of knowing truth, if in fact it does exist. Consequently, lurking behind most of the moral rhetoric in America today is moral relativism, the belief that there are no objective moral values that transcend culture or the individual. This is why many people begin or end their moral judgments with qualifying phrases such as, "It is only my personal opinion," "Of course I am not judging anyone's behavior," or "If you think it is all right, that is okay, but I'm personally against it." Although such assertions have their place, we often use them inappropriately."

"By dogmatically asserting that there is no truth,"

--or 'by dogmatically asserting there is a truth ...'

Show me the difference.

I quoted the rest because I used to use 'just an opinion' in reference to my comments on poetry, but I meant, "Let's talk about it, I could be wrong" not "Don't argue with me, it's just an opinion."

I see a huge difference between the two.
Stephanos
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17 posted 05-29-2002 10:52 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"By dogmatically asserting that there is no truth,"
--or 'by dogmatically asserting there is a truth ...'
Show me the difference.
...

With the one, there is an inherent impossiblity of placing any moral judgements beyond opinion (even if it is majority opinion).  You can argue pragmatism all day, but pragmatism always deals with someone's benefit.  Who's benefit?  Selfish motives love the idea that there is no moral standard thrust upon our behavior on this planet.  People can then pursue a pragmatism that suits their own desires ... not necessarily the good of the whole.  Even saying that the "good of the whole" is to be valued above the "good of the individual" is a value judgement which from the standpoint of moral relativism is preferential.  Such relativism waylays it's own defense.


With the other, there is at least the possibility of a higher standard. . . a fixed point of reference.  Of course with the latter, there is a risk of abuse, where people thrust their own views as "the absolute truth" even when they are not, or are only partially true.  But all good things come with inherent risks.  The alternative to me leaves us stumbling in the dark ... especially if there IS an absolute standard of moral truth.  And either there is, or there isn't.




You also said:

"All forms of absolute truth must tacitly rely on pragmatic values or they die out.
Can we regard the above as common sense?
That's not what people say, of course. It is what they do."


And I agree.  The thing about believing there are moral absolutes, is that it becomes obvious that there are varying degrees of undesirable consequences when moral laws are broken.  It's the old idea, "Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap".  Good seed yields a good harvest, bad seed yields a bad harvest.  It is of utmost practicality to assert that there is a moral standard in the world.  It is a warning against actual dire cosequences on the Earth, not just punishment in the world to come.  It would be foolish to chide the weather man for telling us to get our umbrellas ready, on the premise that it isn't yet raining, and therefore has no practical value.  


Jesus said , "When evening comes you say, 'it will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.'  You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times ..."


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-29-2002 10:56 AM).]

Brad
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18 posted 05-30-2002 05:43 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I certainly agree that a dogmatic assertion of relativism is contradictory; I'm simply not convinced that a dogmatic assertion of absolutism really gives you anything more than, perhaps, a certain comfort. But it's a certain comfort for an individual's point of view, not  for someone who disagrees with that individual.

But, for me, it's not the preposition that bothers me in the above statements, it's the 'dogmatic assertion' part.



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19 posted 05-30-2002 10:22 PM       View Profile for Dopey Dope   Email Dopey Dope   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dopey Dope

"my truth is my own, and your truth is yours"- I feel that this would just will nothingness.
hush
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20 posted 05-30-2002 11:23 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

'Selfish motives love the idea that there is no moral standard thrust upon our behavior on this planet.  People can then pursue a pragmatism that suits their own desires ... not necessarily the good of the whole.  Even saying that the "good of the whole" is to be valued above the "good of the individual" is a value judgement which from the standpoint of moral relativism is preferential.  Such relativism waylays it's own defense.'

One of my personal opinions is that people are, by nature, selfish. When we feel pressured to contribute to the "greater good," (because the necessity of service to other people is imposed on us under the guise of absolute truth) we naturally have feelings of guilt about our selfish natures. However, absolute truth (which inherently comes with a million different versions of absolute rules and absolute punishments, depending on your religion/denomination) gives us a morality (while perpetuating the guilt) so that we can "rise above" our selfish nature- but I also go with the idea that there is no truly unselfish action- when we serve others, we are really only serving our need to feel helpful to alleviate feelings of guilt.

In that capacity, I readily admit to selfishness, it's part of life. One does not do something that gives them no sense of satisfaction or reward- inherent selfishness. I guess the whole point of relativism in beliefs is that that's okay- I mean, it's not just that "you can believe in you're god, I'll believe in mine" type of thinking, it's the freedom to evaluate reality and morality on completely different scales. While you might value selflessness above all other things, I can value personal satisfaction.

I guess, getting back to Fractal's original point and what Brad and others have already said- you don't have to implement pluralism, it exists regardless. However, an official acceptance of the alternative (absolute truth) can lead to officials in power trying to implement that, which is certainly discomforting... (Ahem... Ashcroft... ahem..). Anyway, I'm tired and don't quite even know what I'm saying anymore, I'm on a tangent so feel free to ignore any of this...

"deeper is life than lose: higher than have
-but beauty is more each than living's all"
-E.E. Cummings

 
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