Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quotes of the Day: Chuck Palahniuk's "Rant"

I have been reading Chuck Palahniuk's Rant lately. And it is a wild ride of a read, playing with and twisting concepts of genetics, pathogens, societal constructs (from the Easter Bunny to traffic rules to religion), and time--pushing everything to the edge through creative interrelationships between them. In the middle of it, he employs Victor Turner's concept of Liminality, even folding Turner into the prose in a way few others than Palahniuk could. So, here are a few morsels that might be of interest to a religionist:

On Liminality: "Common to almost all spiritual beliefs is the idea of Lim[i]nal Time. To ascetics, it can be the moment of greatest suffering. To ascetics, it can be the moment of greatest suffering. To Catholics, it's the moment the Communion wafer is presented to the congregation. The moment is different for each religion or spiritual practice, but Liminal Time itself represents a moment in which time stops passing. The actual definition is a moment 'outside of time.'

"That moment becomes the eternity of Heaven or Hell, and achieving even an instant of Liminal Time is the goal of most religious rituals. In that moment, one is completely present and awake and aware--of all creation. In Liminal Time, time stops. A person is beyond time.

"Being involved in an automobile accident has brought me closer to that enlightenment than any religious ritual or ceremony in which I've ever participated." (pp. 213-4)

And a bit later: "...What if reality is nothing but some disease?" (p. 215)

On God as pedophile: "Nobody wants to go there, but...wasn't the Virgin Mary, wasn't she God's child? And back in biblical times, wasn't she, like, thirteen years old?" (p. 260)

On Time Travel and Imagination: "The chief argument against the possibility of time travel is what theorists refer to as the 'Grandfather Paradox'; this is the idea that if one could travel backward in time one could kill one's ancestor, eliminating the possibility said time traveler would ever be born--and thus could never have lived to travel back and commit the murder.

"In a world where billions believe their deity conceived a mortal child with a virgin human, it's stunning how little imagination most people display."

"One theory of time travel resolves the Grandfather Paradox by speculating that, at the moment one changes history, that change splinters the single flow of reality into parallel branches. For example, after you've killed your ancestor, reality would fork into two parallel paths: one reality in which you continued to be born and your ancestor did not die, and one branch in which your ancestor died and you would never be conceived. Each revision one made in the past, the subsequent new reality it created, theorists refer to as a 'bifurcation.'"

"Within Eastern or Asian spirituality exists the concept that only an individual's ego ties him tot he temporal world, wherein we experience physical reality and time. Within this concept, enlightened beings recognize this self-imposed limitation and attachment to the immediate world, and can choose to free their consciousness and travel to any place or period of history. With apologies to Mr. H. G. Wells, one requires no time machine. Anyone can relocate throughout history or space simply by relaxing his grip on his current reality through meditation and spiritual growth."

"A third possibility does exist, although it's never been widely discussed. Aside from bifurcation and time travel via a freed consciousness, this third option also resolves the Grandfather Paradox and places the traveler in Liminal Time, suspended outside of the linear movement of time which human beings experience. Simply stated, Liminal Time has no beginning and no end. Nothing is subject to the natural processes of decay and replacement. In Liminal Time, nothing is born and nothing dies.

"Quite understandably, only deities have ever existed in this immortality.

"Until now." (pp. 263, 264, 265)

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