The No-Dogma Dogma

by rsbakker

Daily Aphorism: Five clever men equal twenty fools. Four for each.

I took a couple days off to celebrate finishing the first exhaustive rewrite of The White-Luck Warrior. Still lots of buffing and polishing to do, but it’s always a massive relief to get past the ‘white page phase.’ The irony, of course, is that I’ll be praying for more white pages once I’m a month or two into the copy-edits and proofs.

Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t been all that forthcoming with book news. This is simply because I don’t want this site to become a shill for my commercial interests. What can I say? I’m a man with a message. I used to be the asshole who cleared rooms at parties, but I’ve learned, over the decades (Christ), how to become less of a preacher and more of a wit.

Even still, I will be giving the odd update for those who really don’t give a damn what I think you should think. The White-Luck Warrior cover presently doing the rounds on the web is simply a stand in for the ARCs – thank gawd. Looks like a POV shot of my childhood. The title for Book Three, I’m thinking, will be The Unholy Consult. I think it looks good in text even if it feels strange on the tongue. Also, it looks like I’ll be in Denmark for a number of talks at Aarhus University this October.

I spent some time to talking to my agent yesterday afternoon about the concluding two books of The Second Apocalypse, and my endeavour to complete it before the real apocalypse begins. You know, I’ve lived with this story longer than I’ve lived with my wife and I feel just as infatuated. With The White-Luck Warrior, I think, the stakes of the story will become much more evident. Before this point, I used to get this feeling of dismay thinking of the immense labour before me, but now it really feels like I’ve crested the narrative mountain, so much so I’m beginning to feel it’s completion as an inevitability, as opposed to the wild hope it was some six years ago.

My fantasy for my fantasies is to have The Globe and Mail finally relent and review the whole series, providing me – verbatim – with the following blurb: “makes The Lord of the Rings look like ‘Little Miss Muffet’!”

I kind of suspected my July 4th post would spur some debate – I just didn’t think it would be so damn intelligent! You guys make me nervous posting on my own site, so I can only imagine that there’s lots of you lurking out there wanting to throw in your two cents, and deciding not to. I urge everyone to join in. All you have to do is be genuinely sceptical of your conviction, and you are already have a leg up on the bulk of academics. My days are jammed anymore, so let me apologize if my responses seem sporadic and random. If you saw how beautiful my baby daughter was, you would forgive me everything.

Otherwise, I just wanted to reflect on my own battle with conviction, and talk about the No-Dogma Dogma. I sometimes find myself worried by how stable my beliefs have become over the past decade. Throughout university I was one of those guys who bounced from belief system to belief system, constantly confusing, as young men are prone to do, intellectual infatuation with knowledge of invisible things. Even still, I found it tremendously difficult to believe my specific arguments over the course of individual papers – which tended to be neurotic, longwinded affairs as a result.

So here I find myself nesting in the same thatch of claims that I nested in almost ten years ago. The fact is, I am dogmatic. I do have unwavering faith in a set of claims. I may affect suspicion of them, but FAPP, I use them as apodictic truths.

So what are they? Since you can only criticize explicit assumptions, it would probably be a good idea to enumerate them here, if only to make the shape of my bias clear.

The No-Dogma Dogma

1) Not all claims are equal.

2) The world is ambiguous because it is supercomplex.

3) Humans are cognitive egoists. We are hardwired to unconsciously game ambiguities to our own advantage – to make scripture out of habit and self-interest.

4) Humans are theoretical morons. We are hardwired for groundless belief in invisible things.

5) The feeling of certainty is a bloody pathological liar.

6) Science is a social cognitive prosthetic, an institution that, when functioning properly, lets us see past our manifold cognitive shortcomings, and produce theoretical knowledge.

7) Contemporary culture, by and large, is bent on concealing the fact of 2, 3, 4, and 5.

These are the biggies, I think, the one’s that trouble me the most because I seem to repeat them ad nauseum. I’m interested as to how the list might be altered or expanded…