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Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3)

October 1, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: October 1, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,565

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Richard May (“May-Tzu”/“MayTzu”/“Mayzi”) is a Member of the Mega Society based on a qualifying score on the Mega Test (before 1995) prior to the compromise of the Mega Test and Co-Editor of Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society. In self-description, May states: “Not even forgotten in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), I’m an Amish yuppie, born near the rarified regions of Laputa, then and often, above suburban Boston. I’ve done occasional consulting and frequent Sisyphean shlepping. Kafka and Munch have been my therapists and allies. Occasionally I’ve strived to descend from the mists to attain the mythic orientation known as having one’s feet upon the Earth. An ailurophile and a cerebrotonic ectomorph, I write for beings which do not, and never will, exist — writings for no one. I’ve been awarded an M.A. degree, mirabile dictu, in the humanities/philosophy, and U.S. patent for a board game of possible interest to extraterrestrials. I’m a member of the Mega Society, the Omega Society and formerly of Mensa. I’m the founder of the Exa Society, the transfinite Aleph-3 Society and of the renowned Laputans Manqué. I’m a biographee in Who’s Who in the Brane World. My interests include the realization of the idea of humans as incomplete beings with the capacity to complete their own evolution by effecting a change in their being and consciousness. In a moment of presence to myself in inner silence, when I see Richard May’s non-being, ‘I’ am. You can meet me if you go to an empty room.” Some other resources include Stains Upon the Silence: something for no oneMcGinnis Genealogy of Crown Point, New York: Hiram Porter McGinnisSwines ListSolipsist SoliloquiesBoard GameLulu blogMemoir of a Non-Irish Non-Jew, and May-Tzu’s posterousHe discusses: a favourite Zen koan; other ethical system formulations; different formulations of the Golden Rule; the ‘religion’ of the Dalai Lama; crossing the other side of the river in Buddhism; “Thought without measurement”; “In Praise of Stupidity”: wisdom and compassion; preventing intelligence levels reaching averages too high; “Know Thy -”; “Ideologies”; “ideologies” in general labelled “a secular theology of lies”; “Real plolitik among the Laputan Taoists”; “Utopia”; “Understanding”; men don’t understand their wives; “Prolegomena To Any Future Obfuscation”; the “reality of existence and the existence of reality” have no “single relationship”; reality and polyamory; metaphysicians; and stage magicians.

Keywords: G.I. Gurdjieff, IQ, koan, Marxism, May’s Razor, Mega Society, obfuscation, prolegomena, Richard May, Stains Upon the Silence, Zen.

Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Side question before starting today, what is a favourite Zen koan for you, or two?

Richard May[1],[2]*: My favorite Zen koan is: “What is a favourite Zen koan for you, or two?” Another favorite Zen koan of mine is: “Why is reality so ahead of its time in its polyamorousness?” — In general I think one koan is as good, i. e., ‘useful’, as another. I don’t think I have favorites.

“What is the taste of Braille shadows?” is a koan of my own invention.

Jacobsen: We talked a bit about ethical systems in the second session. What other ethical system formulations make sense to you?

May: The negative formulation of the “golden rule.”

Jacobsen: There are different formulations of the Golden Rule. There can be trotting out of the Golden Rule as if only a Western concept, or only a Christian idea or Jesus Christ’s idea. These are Western and Christian conceits inasmuch as we know and can comment on them within the backyard with the noisy, barking dog of the world. The Golden Rule has been stated as positive, as negative, as neutral. What other formulations, specifically, of the Golden Rule make sense to you?

May: The negative formulation of the golden rule, which is the same in Judaism (attributed to Hillel the Elder) and Confucianism. (The positive formulation which is close, but not as logically excellent, is attributed to Jesus. “Do unto others … ”)

I.e., “Do *not* do to others what you would not want them to do to you.”

This is what Hillel supposedly said to a gentile in the ancient world when asked to explain Judaism to him while standing on one leg!

From Wikipedia:

He is popularly known as the author of two sayings: (1) “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”[4] and (2) the expression of the ethic of reciprocity, or “Golden Rule“: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Jacobsen: What is the ‘religion’ of the Dalai Lama regarding ethics, and science for that matter?

May: TheDalai Lama says that his religion is *kindness*, i.e., compassion for all sentient beings. He also said that if any tenet of Buddhism is inconsistent with modern science, then Buddhism must change. Once when asked at a lecture what happens to our consciousness after death the Dalai Lama stood in silence for three or four minutes.

Jacobsen: What is crossing the other side of the river in Buddhism, and then discarding the proverbial raft?

May: After you cross to the other side of the river, i.e., attain enlightenment or liberation from the illusion of personal identity, you should discard the raft, i.e., Buddhism. Atheist and neuroscientist Sam Harris seems to have an understanding of Buddhism and the human situation. Buddhism also maintains that everything is transient and, hence, one day there will be no Buddhism.

Jacobsen: In “Thought without measurement,” you echo Wittgenstein about the relation of comedy and great philosophical works. Why?

May: No, I have not echoed Wittgenstein but reversed him!

Wittgenstein wrote: “A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”

Whereas I wrote: 

Thought without measurement

A hilarious comedy could be written consisting entirely of serious and good philosophical works.

Here I meant that philosophy ends where measurement begins. The domain of philosophy is diminishing historically as scientific knowledges increases

Jacobsen: “In Praise of Stupidity” speaks to the “primitive species” homo sapiens. The species that works in the destruction of one another in tribal warfare and of the environment sustaining its livelihood, not too bright in other words. You speak to the possible evolutionary function of relative stupidity. In that, a highly intelligent species, relative to the present, would probably self-annihilate, where lower mean intelligence of the species leads to a higher probability of surviving in the Darwinian world of nature. You point to an evolution of human intelligence beyond human compassion and wisdom. What seem like the drivers for an increase in intelligence beyond human compassion and wisdom? 

May: Natural selection during inter-species competition found little utility in what we call, “compassion and wisdom.” A predator should not feel compassion towards his prey. But the development of weapons of mass destruction by any species on any planet, e.g., Homo sapiens on Earth, would be a game changer. Planets are bio-cultural Petrie dishes in the universe. To get from a Type-0 civilization to a Type-1 civilization or beyond will require much less intra-species self-cannibalism. Only some unknown percentage of ‘advanced’ civilizations would graduate from a Type-0 civilization to a Type-1 civilization. Some don’t make it out of their Petrie dishes.

Jacobsen: How are you defining wisdom and compassion here, as counter-forces to raw intelligence? 

May: I’m not sure how to define “wisdom.” Apparently wisdom is traditionally identified by a consensus of individuals who are not considered wise by themselves or others.

Jacobsen: What is preventing intelligence levels reaching averages too high and leading to a greater potential to use the proportionate lack of wisdom and void of compassion to destroy the species, as we head into a self-scorched Earth scenario?

May: Social services and medicine in the modern Western world have produced a dysgenic breeding pattern. I do not imply that I think we ought to abandon social services and modern medicine. But only that social engineering and medicine can and often do have unintended consequences. The ‘absolute IQ’ is probably lower today than it was in ancient Greece, for example. Aldous Huxley mentions that in *Brave New World Revisited*.

But what is the purpose of intelligence and human intelligence in particular? Just to enable the organism to survive, eat, live long enough to produce offspring, who survive, eat, live long enough to have offspring, who survive, eat, live long enough to have offspring, who – – – . After reproduction and some nurturance of one’s offspring, just drop dead. This is Nature’s program for us.

The purpose of human intelligence is not to develop a unified field theory, a Theory of Everything or cosmological theories. Such theories are not necessary for “survive-eat-reproduce-die DNA-replication machines” developed by natural selection.

Cosmology may be beyond the pay grade of Homo sapiens as presently evolved. Just as various threshold levels of IQ, i.e., an approximate range of scores, are associated with different human occupations and professions and every known species has obvious limits of cognitive ability, why would Homo sapiens as presently evolved be an exception to this? Pure anthropocentrism — man is considered by himself to be the center of the universe and the crest jewel of the cosmos, and without inherent cognitive limits as a species. 

Many individuals with high IQs today apparently believe that they can do cosmology and theoretical physics without any graduate degrees in physics, as Newton and others did hundreds of years ago; maybe, but maybe not. In my view even credentialed cosmologists and theoretical physicists may not really be doing cosmology today. E.g., String theory, M-theory and Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds hypothesis may only be beautiful mathematical-metaphysics, if none are experimentally disconfirmable. If a theory cannot be disconfirmed experimentally, how can it be considered physical science?

Why do very high levels of theoretical intelligence even exist? Why has this level of intelligence evolved? Albert Einstein didn’t have more progeny than Genghis Khan or Attila-the-Hun. He was vastly less ‘successful’ from an biological evolutionary perspective.

Unless you think we are “images of (some sort of) ‘God’,” images of something at a higher level, maybe holographic images of the cosmos or that the Hermetic principal “As above, so below” applies somehow in ‘our’ universe, then why is there intelligence beyond the eat-replicate-die level?

Until or unless Homo sapiens takes control of its own evolution at a biological-level and an AI-level, by gene-editing/genetic engineering and brain implants a la Yuval Noah Harari, we are basically Chimps with WMDs; we are Koko the gorilla at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies.

Jacobsen: In “Know Thy -,” you state, “I don’t know anything until I see myself announcing it on television.” How long have you been playing the part of Socrates?

May: You apparently assume that Socrates was not playing the part of May-Tzu by reverse causality from his future event-horizon, a la M.I.T.’s Seth Lloyd. 

Actually “Know thy -” was intended as humor. It was inspired by a certain well-known political leader who, when asked when he had learned of this or that event, claimed that he only learned of it by watching television. So I took it a bit further by writing that “I don’t know anything until I see myself announcing it on television.”

Jacobsen: “Ideologies” speaks to a few points. One on preferable values compared to those that aren’t. What makes “freedom, peace and prosperity” preferable to “their absence or negation”? 

May: Our paleo-mammalian brain and cerebral cortex seem to have innate preferences. Other species of animals also appear to seek ‘prosperity’ and freedom as innate positive reinforcers as well.

Jacobsen: Why are “ideologies” in general labelled “a secular theology of lies”? What would make an ideology not a “convenient lie” and more truth than merely “a bit of truth”?

May: Ideologies are secular in that they are not usually theocentric or claimed to be direct revelations from the God of the Bible — quite. Ideologies have in common with theologies that they are not empirically based. You can postdictively interpret history through an ideological lens but you cannot do controlled experiments to test and potentially falsify ideologically-based predictions. 

“What would make an ideology not a “convenient lie” and more truth than merely “a bit of truth”?”

If an ideology were philosophy or science, rather than an tendentious admixture of disinformation and truth, a reality-map intended to influence or control our behavior, then it would be more objective and useful to its adherents.

Jacobsen: “Real plolitik [sic] among the Laputan Taoists,” you exhibit the Taoist philosophy, and the paradoxical way of thinking about the different parts of the world, almost like an inverted thinking into redundancy to make a not-so obvious point seem obvious, as a form of education. What is Taoist reasoning or logic, inasmuch as it exists (or not)? What is, perhaps, a better title for it?

May: The following principles and theorems taken from https://phiyakushi.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/seven-principles-of-the-order-of-the-universe-and-twelve-theorems-of-the-unifying-principle/ summarize Taoist principles:

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE

  1. All things are differentiations of One Infinity
  2. Everything Changes; nothing is stationary
  3. All antagonisms are complementary
  4. All phenomena are unique; there is nothing identical
  5. All phenomena have a front and back
  6. The greater the front, the greater the back
  7. All phenomena have a beginning and an end

TWELVE THEOREMS OF THE UNIFYING PRINCIPLE

  1. One infinity manifests itself into the two universal tendencies of Yin and Yang; complementary and antagonistic poles of endless change.
  2. Yin and Yang are arising continuously out of the ceaseless eternal movement of One Infinite Universe.
  3. Yin appears as centrifugalilty, Yang appears as centripetalilty. The activities of Yin and Yang together create energy and all phenomena.
  4. Yin attracts Yang. Yang attracts Yin.
  5. Yin repels Yin. Yang repels Yang.
  6. Yin and Yang combine in an infinite variety of proportion, creating an infinite variety of phenomena. The strength of attraction or repulsion always represents the degree of difference or similarity.
  7. All phenomena are relative and ephemeral, constantly changing their direction towards more Yin or more Yang.
  8. Nothing is solely Yin or absolutely Yang. Everything is created by both tendencies together.
  9. There is no neutrality; either Yin or Yang is always dominating.
  10. Great Yin attracts small Yin. Great Yang attracts small yang.
  11. Yin, at the extreme point, changes into Yang. Yang, at the extreme point, changes into Yin.
  12. Yang always focuses towards the center. Yin always diffuses toward the periphery.

“Realpolitik Among the Laputan Taoists,” is a better tittle for it. The irony between the meaning of realpolitik and the description of the Laputa Taoists ought to be clear.

Jacobsen: For “Utopia,” is this a recipe for the ‘leadership’ of the current administration of the United States with a particular disability of ill-calibrated ego and grand greed?

May: No, it is a play on the Marxist dictum: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.“ —> From each according to his disability, to each according to his greed. — Think Venezuela!

Jacobsen: “Understanding” perfectly exemplifies a big issue of the major religions of the world. Any further ‘issues’? 

May: “Understanding” applies to the revealed Abrahamic religions, each of which claims to have the final, complete and perfectly understood ‘revelation’ of the One-and-Only-One True God. The only exception to this is the Baha’i religion, in which revelation is considered to be an ongoing process.

Jacobson: Also, why don’t men understand their wives so much, even not at all?

May: I think a person cannot understand another person beyond his own level of self-understanding. G.I. Gurdjieff wrote that understanding was the arithmetic mean of knowledge and being. Being was defined as the average level of attention of the individual, not his level of attention at any given moment, and his genetic hardwiring.

Jacobsen: “Prolegomena To Any Future Obfuscation” poses this question to no one, “What is the relationship between the reality of existence and the existence of reality? Your answer: Plural, “…in N-valued logic there may be gradations or degrees of existence and/or non-existence, a quantized set of values approaching a continuum as its limit. Ideally in this case the continuum mapped upon various topological structures in N-dimensional hyperspace, in order to maximize the degree of lucidity of the obfuscation.” This then leads to a statement on parsimony or (William of) Ockham’s Razor: “…entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” You posit “May’s Razor,” or, “Words should not be simplified unnecessarily.” How does May’s Razor apply, in particular, to metaphysics?

May: This writing was satire, inspired by the incomprehensibly obscure writings of an individual on one of the high-IQ lists. “Words should not be simplified unnecessarily,” because someone may grasp what you are talking about and be able to refute it.

Jacobsen: Why is reality simply a ‘plural relationship,’ or where the “reality of existence and the existence of reality” have no “single relationship” and, in fact, have “multiple relationships”? 

May: This was all meant as satirical humor.

Jacobsen: Why is reality so ahead of its time in its polyamorousness? [Ed. Play on the phrase “multiple relationships” regarding the “reality of existence and the existence of reality.”]

May: Is this a koan? 

I don’t quite understand how “reality could be … ahead of it’s time,” even a smidgen, let alone “so ahead.” What this could possibly have to do with amorousness, poly- or otherwise, must be one of the deep mysteries.

Jacobsen: Why are metaphysicians prone to super-overcomplicated-complexifications of ideational-concepts about extra-meta-super-reality?

May: “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Jacobsen: Are stage magicians like Penn & Teller, and James Randi, better than metaphysicians because they explain the trick and in straightforward terms (with an entertaining presentation)?

May: “better”? — “because”? — “entertaining”?

A magician could make this question disappear, but would the essence of the question still remain?

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, Mega Society; Co-Editor, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 1, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3) [Online].October 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, October 1). Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, October. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on “Stains Upon the Silence”: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (October 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):October. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on Zen Koans, Stupidity, Ideologies, Taoism, G.I. Gurdjieff, Marxism, and May’s Razor for Obfuscation: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (3) [Internet]. (2020, October 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/may-3.

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