If you have read my About Me page, you may recall I mentioned that one difference between Caped Persuader C and J is that C is suited for big city warfare; exploding buildings, car chases, and the rest of the dangers that follow politics. I, however, have prepared myself for the dark caves; mysterious, bizarre, and all together trippy. All the oddities of philosophy.This is a disclaimer, you see. This disclaimer is here to give you, dear reader, a heads up. I’m taking the safeties off. Today we Cave Crawl.
Since this is our first trip together, let me see if I can prepare you mentally. Using only English, I am about to write in a manner that talks about an invisible world. Better philosophers than I have already discussed at length about the problem of talking about intangible things. The answer can be metaphor and poetry, and as such, is weird.
If you run into an issue down there, just scroll to the end. I bottom line the post without all the thoroughness. It will give you enough information to see where this story arc is headed to prepare you for the next one. Just look for the “TL;DR” paragraph. With that said, turn on your headlamps. We go live in 3, 2, 1. . .
This is tedious. It sucks. Dealing with something as bland as “boundaries” is dry and dull and quite difficult. The reality is most people won’t deal with The Jargonaut any more, not since he went all elite. The real problem, as I see it, stems from his mercenary nature. He makes a stout guard and people have noticed. He shows up everywhere now. Ol’ Caped Persuader J (that’s me, remember) has a long, complicated history with him. Both sides have stood as winners at different times in the past. We know each other.
One group that keeps him on retainer are the people of Metaphysics. By their very nature, it’s already hard to enter their world. They have secured Jargonaut’s skills to stand dutifully outside the gate and intimidate anyone who attempts to slide by. Today, that’s where I want to go, poor, poor reader, and sliding by is always my first tactic against the Colossus of Words. However, in this abstract world, circumnavigation is never guaranteed. <– Ow! grr. . . my point, exactly.
Boundaries, you see, were born in the world of Metaphysics. They are purposed with standing between all things to make the declaration:
“On this side is a thing. On the other side, there is not that thing.”
They are the original founders of Metaphysics. Their job is simple but fiercely important. Without them, there is no distinction, no diversity. No music, no art. No variety, no spice, no life.
The story of the Boundaries is literally as old as time itself (they could be even older, if such a thing weren’t a paradox). They are the children of Truth and Existence, and build the structures that They use to lift up life and this world we play in. Boundaries walk with the divine and are used to shape all reality, despite the irony that they are themselves are formless. It is little wonder why my masters, from the first days to this one, spend their time gazing at them, staring hard at them. They may speak simply, but it comes straight from Truth Itself.
“Here, there is safety. There, there is no safety.” “Here there is no food, there food exists.”
Men learned to find Boundaries in existence and how to respect and rely on them. They can be harsh, yes, but always fair and always consistent. Humans learned the shape of Boundaries quickly:
“Here is fire, here is ground. The sky and the earth are separated by Us. Land and sea are separated by Us. If you step from here to there, you move from one to another”.
They learned they themselves are inhabited by Boundaries:
“Here is your heart”. “Here is the air you breathe”. “Your arms go this far and no further”. “Your muscles, this strong and no stronger”. “Your life, this long and no longer”.
We learned to give things words because of Them. We could say “This utterance refers to ‘apples’ and not to anything else”, “When I speak truth, I refer only to what Boundaries tell us are on this side of Real”. You see, we “define” as a means to articulate Boundaries, whether material or immaterial.
It was inevitable that humans learned that they could, in fact, imitate so grand a thing, as it is in our nature to imitate grand things. One person could say to another “Here, we must work together. There, I can do as I please” and it could appear as strong as the original. Yet, it is clear that while Boundaries make no sound when a person passes through, they also give you no choice about the consequence. With man-made limits, consequence existed only in the minds of those willing to play the game and could be enforced, moved, or ignored at will.
If a person were to walk into a cave and find an angry beast, Boundary would say only
“Here, there is danger”.
The person would leave the cave and attempt to evoke Boundary with a worthless altar: “Off Limits”. Other people, though, would see this and play along. “I cannot enter” they agree, as though the sign itself kept them out rather than a personal choice based on current information. This is a game that only works when there is trust. Do you see this point? This why I have come.
When people started to create more limits, we created civilization simultaneously. “This action is acceptable, that action is unacceptable”, “This is our area, that is not our area”, “My people are my responsibility, those people are not my responsibility”. The longer civilization went on and the larger it became, the more signs and walls we built. “This political party believes this. That political party does not believe this”, “I will be responsible for food, you will be responsible for protection”, “These words cannot be uttered”, “Don’t spit at church”, “Alcohol cannot be purchased on Sundays before noon”, “Don’t wear white after Labor Day”. Our rules are built to move our civilization forward, not necessarily to inform about Reality. Some of us play along, some do not. Some are useful, some are not. Some are harmful. Some were once one kind but are now the other kind.
One major point about all rebellions (even the dumb ones) is that they all seek to smash some boundary. When in the 17th century the people had been told “This is knowledge. That is not knowledge,” they rebelled. They stopped playing along. They found what should be That Grand Thing which knew gods on a first name basis, was instead a paltry alter, a shadow, meant to keep order and safety. Wise men of the past had created them for the sake of good. Now, how and why they had been made at all had been forgotten. The other side of the necessary equation had faltered. Trust was gone. There, an old age ended. Here, a new age began.
People pushed out for the Boundaries themselves. They used new techniques, new knowledge and found new things. The signs stating “Here and no further is this thing” were too often empty. No true Boundary had ever spoken about these things. For the last 400 years, civilization prospered because they pushed against those man-made boundaries to find the real Boundary. Science, math, literature, art, philosophy, and their infinite combinations exploded with new life. I must make this point clear, reader. This didn’t happen because men chose to ignore Boundaries. It happened because men sought Them and actively ignored Their inferior image.
*Sigh. I do battle with Jargonaut today, not for pleasure but with purpose. I started the last post about Iron Fist because, after I reflected on that show, I realized that we are again smashing the things that limit us. We were redefining things. I admit, I’ve known that it is here Jargonaut was going to catch me flat tongue-d. Words about words get bad with the smartest and wisest of us and I only pretend to be. So I will step carefully. Breathe through the forms. Soft eyes and tight fists. Here we go.
The world changed and Iron Fist went from bland to anti-hero. The Punisher went from anti-hero to hero. It happened because people started to push like they did back in the 1600’s. Worse, they started to get responses the people did back in the 1600’s. Somewhere along the line, too much of the world forgot the difference between real Boundaries and artificial boundaries again. People couldn’t tell whether they were involved in a game everyone had to agree to play or if it was the voice of reason telling us what Boundary was saying. People lost the ability to tell the difference.
We redefine things when we believe they are too distant from truth. Gay marriage was definitionally impossible. Transgenderism was definitionally mental illness. Truth was definitionally objective, external, and universal. Definitions were created by men and, as such, vulnerable to the chopping block. We have spent the last 20 years focusing on ridding ourselves of boundaries. We did so because somewhere in history the words “Gay” became freighted with “less than a whole person”, though there is no Boundary between Person and Gay. “Truth” had been freighted with the meaning “compelling and irrefutable”, though no person could make it consistent. The list of wrong words and meanings is long.
There is an inherent fear in not knowing what is real. It can be seen in any child. They want Boundary to tell them
“Here it is Real. There it is not”.
They want their parents to set boundaries to tell them “Here, you are good. There, you are bad”. There is comfort in safety. There courage in danger. There is only destruction and loneliness in ignorance. We are good at finding those True things. There is an ability in all of us to find the greater Reality in things, even false stories. G. K. Chesterton by way of Neil Gaiman once wrote “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” That same sense tells of Boundary’s important nature.
Wonderfully, Boundaries have a special trait. As children of Truth, they inherited adamance. They cannot be destroyed. They cannot be overruled. They can only be obscured. When people begin to indiscriminately wreck everything around them, Boundaries (and their parent, Truth) will be left standing.
Last post I mentioned that this is a fantastic time to be alive from a philosophic perspective. This is why. Each era change happens because people smash all the things held as truth and wisdom. What really happens is that it becomes a crucible that atomizes things to their bare, unfreighted Truth. I live for this. I am excited for this. I wound up standing toe to toe with Jargonaut, swapping hits for the chance to run through Metaphysics to carry back with me this history and picture of Boundary. Not to show you what must be destroyed, but what definitionally cannot be. They are Real. They are Reality. Here, there is comfort.
There is a chance the world is coming to a place where this is the only structure that is left. I wanted to show you that it is the only actual structure. It is omnipresent and indestructible. Though our ears still ring from The Jargonaut, it is the hope of any caped hero that you focus less on how ugly the battle was and instead how much better the world is on this side.
Also, if you wondering if I was able to do anything against the Jargonaut here, I would like to point out that you almost had to deal with the following words: hermeneutics, telos, deontology, eschaton, and eschatology. I mean, I may not be perfect, but I know how to fight Jargonaut.
There are two kinds of boundaries in this world. There are the kind that are natural and as such are universal, constant, and eternal. Then there are the kind that are artificial and they only exist in the minds of the people. Both give it structure and distinction, but confusing them can destroy the trust used to create civilization. If it reaches a bad enough point, the only way to tell which is which is by trying to tear them all down. It’s what moves us from age to age. I wonder if we are there right now.