Forever Yours, ‘Till Sun Burns Out: A Poem

Like lovers arms amidst a fire
So is your love inside my soul
Of whom you think, may I inquire?
Or who is it that makes you whole?
Is it not I, my love, my precious?
That makes you feel inside like gold?
More worthy than some pearl – special
Out on the market, being sold
In time, I’m sure, you will believe me
For I have waited passed my time
I will keep waiting until you steal me
From desire’s gates and fires bright
To me your words are like warm honey
Your love, and laugh, they soothe my soul
Into your arms I will keep running
After the fires all burn cold
Have I not yet made your approval?
Have I just ran the race in vain?
Have I been defeated by some cruel,
Unknown force, that brought me pain
Yet, you remind me, in my sorrow
You it is, who brings me life
You alone hold my tomorrows
Inside your beating heart at night
I have been conquered. I’ve been defeated!
My love, you have captured me by dawn
What have you done to me, my sweetie?
For you alone it is I long
I cannot overcome my passion
I have been bound in chains for years
You have taken my last transgression
And you have clothed me with your tears
Ah, a wretch I am, inside this palace
This house, this place, this life of mine
I will keep words upon a balance
I’ll weigh them, hear them, and treat you right
I’ve no intention of ever leaving
Not one thought, no slightest plea
You alone, my love, are worth keeping
To you I come; to you I cling
I have wandered many hours
I have rummaged through the treasures
I’ve not found a love like ours
Such a rarity! Without  measure!
May God keep you, may He bless you
May He give you what you ask
For you pray that we remain true
And that forever our love may last
I’ve heard your prayers, your petitions
I’ve even prayed that you may pray
May my prayers come to fruition
And may my nights become your days
Darling, sweetie, honey, and princess
I thank God for you always
Your eyes, I forever miss them
When for a minute I am away.
Consume me, darling, with your gaze
For I am here forever now
You have set my heart a blaze

Forever yours,
‘ till sun burns out.
Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

Green Eyes: A Poem

Like ocean waves that stroke my shores
Your eyes they gently pull me close
I forget my toil and mundane chores
Knowing you, my heavenly dose
I could stare at you for hours
Forgetting life and all its sorrows
I’ve yet to find a love like ours
Where pennies meet heaven’s sparrows
I am silent in your beauty
How could words be used here?
Words lose meaning and their duty
As my mouth stumbles beyond repair
Your hair is flowing like falling waters
Like rivers running an endless trek
Your locks – in pairs – like twins and daughters
Embracing softly the length of your neck
Your cheeks are high like canyons rising
Protecting every unforgettable smile
Your cheeks turn red in perfect timing
As I place kisses, awaiting trial
Ah, but your lips are like red scarlet
They taste like fruit from east of Eden
Your virgin lips shame lying harlots
To kiss you, I’ll suffer damning treason
I am captivated! I’ve been sold!
Like a slave who’s run by night
Let them take away my soul
So long as I see your green eyes

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

Existence, Existing, and the Philosophy of Being: What Does It Mean “To Be”?

People use various verbs for expressing “being” in the English language. The tree is. The man was. The boys are. I have been. I am being. You were. We all seem to know intuitively what it means for something to be, for something to exist. We look at a black cup sitting on the table and we assume it is a black cup. But, really, what does is mean in that sentence? Anybody who knows a little bit about the way light functions will tell you that the color black is the color being reflected; it is the color which is not absorbed by the object itself. The cup that “is” black is actually everything but black. The cup is not black. It appears black. There is no black cup sitting on the table. What you really have is an object which appears to take the form of a cup, reflecting only black light waves. These light waves hit our retina and give us the illusion that the cup is black. (But we all really mean that the cup is not black.) Confusing? Very.

The problem which any good philosopher should notice is the problem of circular reasoning. We define the verb “is” while referring to it with another “is”; that is, we are trying to pull ourselves out of the mire by our own hair. We attempt to define “is” while using the verb in the attempted definition itself. It’s like defining the color white by calling it, well, white. In other words, we are not really doing anything. We are not really saying anything about the verb “is.” This is known as the Münchhausen trilemma. I’ve made the claim that, “The cup that ‘is’ black is actually everything but black.” In making this statement, within a context where I am trying to define “is,” I am using the very verb I am trying to define. That’s circular.

So what does it really mean for something “to exist”? What does “is” really mean? Is it possible to define the verb “is” without referring to itself in its own definition? Can we ever escape making self-referential statements when discussing the philosophy of being?

The greatest mathematician and logician since Euclid and Bertrand Russell was surely Kurt Gödel. (And, if it really means anything to you, I am not a mathematician; I can only evaluate his logic, reasoning, and philosophy with any kind of “authority.”)  Gödel’s greatest contribution to logic and philosophy was his proof of the impossibility of proof for certain things. He argued, as I understand him, that all logical systems (even Russell’s mathematical-logical philosophy) were inherently flawed: all these systems which appeared “closed” actually had loop holes; they had the problem of self-reference. Any given system which would set out to prove something would either vacuously become self-referential, at some distant point, or would simply be grounded in an unprovable axiom itself. For example, similar to the Liar’s Paradox (where the sentence philosopher’s deal with reads: “This sentence is false” [if the sentence is true, then it is false; however, if the sentence is false, then it is true]), Gödel came up with the following observation, sometimes called the “Gödel sentence”: G is not provable in the theory T. If you try to prove a particular truth within a system that presupposes the existence of that particular truth, the system becomes complete and, therefore, it becomes unprovable. (And, one could add, self-referential.) For example, if I make the following statement, “This statement is unprovable,” how could one go about “proving” its validity? It’s self-referential (and, therefore, incomplete). It refers back to its own truth, being inherently grounded in the presupposition of its own truth. In his 1931 article “On Formally Undecidable Propositions of ‘Principia Mathematica’ and Related Systems” he essentially demonstrated two things:

(1) If the system is consistent, it cannot be complete

(2) The consistency of the axioms cannot be proven within the system

Is it possible to apply Gödel’s logic to the philosophy of existence? While one may find x or y statement as misconstrued or based on misunderstanding, the point here is not, ultimately, whether this is what Gödel meant or talked about; the point is this: we run into the issue of provability/demonstrability even in language and in our dealing with a definition of the verb “to be.” I am arguing that a similar problem is occurring even here. We attempt to talk about the verb “to be” in English while referring to itself. We attempt to make progress while no such progress is really being made. I attempt to “criticize” the verb “is” while using “is.”

If I doubt the meaning of “is,” why am I using “is” to talk about “is”?

Imagine a situation in mathematics. Your mathematics professor attempts to demonstrate what the plus sign (+) means in math. He begins by using the very sign itself to identify the plus sign. Surely students would find such “defining moments” (pun intended) as quite useless.

So where do we go from here? Is existence going to remain elusive forever? I’m not sure we will find an answer, but I can say one thing: Søren Kierkegaard has attempted to offer us an answer in his philosophical magnum opus: Concluding Unscientific Postscript. 

Kierkegaard makes a very strange argument for helping us understand what it means for a human being to exist. He observes casually that existence is really, in the here-and-now, a becoming. “Since the existing subject is existing (and that is the lot of every human being, except the objective ones, who have pure being to be in), he is indeed in the process of becoming.” Kierkegaard is saying one thing here: existence, as we know it, or think of it, is not really a thing to be grasped but only partially understood. Existence is a becoming. In this imperfect world, we really don’t exist. We are not anything definite, concrete, unchanging, set in stone, etc. We are always becoming something else, physically and emotionally. Our atoms are constantly rearranging themselves; our bones are constantly remineralizing; our thoughts and actions are always becoming something. We are already-and-not-yet, to use a theological term.

Furthermore, Kierkegaard writes:

“Every subject is an existing subject, and therefore this must be essentially expressed in all of his knowing and must be expressed by keeping his knowing from an illusory termination in sensate certainty, in historical knowledge, in illusory results…In historical knowledge, he comes to know much about about the world, nothing about himself; he is continually moving in the sphere of approximation-knowledge, while with his presumed positivity he fancies himself to have a certainty that can be had only in infinitude, in which, however, he cannot be as an existing person but at which he is continually arriving. Nothing historical can become infinitely certain to me except this: that I exist…”

What Kierkegaard is getting at is the fact that existence involves certainty. However, in this world we don’t have certainty. If one documents even such things as the atomic weight of gold or uranium, and if one documents all their properties, all such properties are continually open to change. The gold can rust. The uranium can decay. They, too, are in a state of becoming. But Kierkegaard isn’t through just yet. The problem isn’t just the issue of existence; we have another problem too: the problem of infinity. In order for something to be certain – that is, static and unchanging – it must be eternal. In order for something to exist, to really exist, it must be unchanging and eternal. It must simply be. Kierkegaard is certain that our idea of existence originates with God. We have this notion of things that are. But we also know that the things which are are continually changing. This brings us to the problem of the “Ship of Theuseus.” If a ship has had all of its parts replaced over a number of years, is it still the same ship? Likewise, if a human being is continually changing, is our calling him “Peter” warranted throughout all the changes? People go through physical and emotional changes all the time. Are they different people? If so, do they exist? I mean, at which point do we say that Peter, who is always changing, moment to moment, is really “Peter”? I mean, if he’s “Peter” right now, but two seconds later he is in some ways different, is he still “Peter”? Does “Peter” even exist? Kierkegaard is arguing that the idea of being is essentially proof of infinity, certitude, and, because of this, proof of God.

If one is not having a sense of awe at this moment, one should simply go read something else.

“To be continually in the process of becoming in this way is the illusiveness of the infinite in existence. It could bring a sensate person to despair, for one continually feels an urge to have something finished…”

In our very notions of existence and being, we find “the illusiveness of the infinite.” The problem with humanity is that it is stuck in this limbo. We are stuck in the stage between mortality and immortality, temporality and infinity. We are here because God is there. We do not exist because God does exist.

I think our ideas of being and existence are inherently tied, as Kierkegaard points out, to the existence of that Ultimate Mind, which most of us call “God.” Not only is existence tied to God: it is God. “To be” is to be God.

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

Soli Deo gloria 

The Midnight Poet and His Lover: A Poem

When I first met her,

That time around New Years,

It took more than letters,

With poems and good cheers.

For her heart she kept,

As the Spirit commanded,

Her thoughts never slept,

‘Till Divine Mercy descended.

She played her part well,

A girl pure and chaste,

Love, her fragile heart held,

With no passionate haste.

She guided herself,

There was no use lying,

Without whorish mess,

And deceitful sighing.

I’ve gazed from afar,

Being deeply attracted,

Her eyes gazed back – dark,

With no passions neglected.

It took me some time,

Yes, time and a poem,

To look in those eyes;

Be found faithfully in them.

You’d think she’d surrender,

To waves of love only,

But some words she remembered,

To not give in wholly.

Her heart was a treasure,

A gold chest, she told me,

And so, with good measure,

I’d rescue her solely.

I fight with patience,

To prove that I’m loyal,

With no hesitation,

Without sleep I would toil.

She realized, by then,

By my looks I was weary,

She knew I would win,

For my eyes were still merry.

Ah, put pen to the paper?

She asked when I rested,

My poems would save her,

For my heart was invested.

I wrote her a canto,

She was so happy,

She told me, “I can’t go,

Till you finish it for me.”

By then, it was nightfall,

The stars were all glowing,

She showed me them all,

So I wrote without knowing.

I wrote some strange things,

For my eyes were distracted,

By those Heavenly Beings,

To which my Spirit reacted.

When her eyes read that verse,

Her heart and soul melted,

She knew I was hers,

For her Spirit now felt it.

The things that I wrote,

Yet not I, but my Spirit,

I was never showed,

But I forever now hear it.

Her heartbeat on mine,

I feel to this day,

No words can describe,

How Love gets its way.

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

Love as Responsibility: A Short, Bombastic Critique of “Falling in Love”

In today’s over-sexualized, pedophilloic, fast-paced, loudmouthed, modern culture, one gets the sense that responsibility, loyalty, and dedication are things of the prehistoric, dinosauric ancient past. Responsibility is relative to time, and time is relative to subjective values. There appears to be an inverse relationship with amount of love expressed and amount of responsibility accepted—all fleeting moments are made sacrosanct by the subjective human being who bestows immediate value to a one-night-stand. We are a culture of one-nighters (when speaking of sex) and one-dayers (when speaking of childcare).

At the moment, I am not interested in talking about all the things I could, in theory, talk about; I am merely interested in spending some time thinking about love and responsibility. I have already mentioned how much our culture values all things fast paced; I have also mentioned how we bestow much value upon fleeting moments. To say the same thing differently: we love immediate gratification. Like a pig high on methamphetamines, we roam carelessly in endless loads of dung in order to find something worth spending two-minutes with. Life has become a race. We’re all running after something. Every once in a while somebody, usually a philosopher or theologian, asks: What are we all running after? Like zombies high on Twinkies, nobody seems to bother with a careful, critical, and systematic analysis of the present situation. Everybody is too busy doing a whole bunch of nothing. We rant and we rave about the next “big thing.” We spend all of our “savings” money on things that simply won’t save us (pun intended). (By the way, what are we even trying to save ourselves from? Isn’t spending money in America a full-time career option?)

My caffeine high has run dry. I’m having a rebound effect and I feel quite limp from all of modern society’s roar. What I am observing around me has left me, simply put, stunned. What baffles me most is our inability to spend a single moment of our pitiful lives thinking about ourselves. Not about our possessions, not about our cravings, but our-selves. People don’t seem to have a sense of self any longer. They allow commercials to determine where they’re going next. They allow some talking head on TV to determine what they’ll think up (is thinking even involved here?) next.

It is out of this that I currently write. It appears to me that we are on the verge of a great breakthrough. A technological breakthrough. No, really. I am being quite serious now. What I mean is this: I feel that we are about to wake up from our deep slumber. Look at things this way: We’ve spent decades trying to bring people who were further apart closer together. We have created computers and applications which can make a person in Israel seem like he’s here with us in America. If people lived on the moon, we’d have no trouble communicating. None, whatsoever.

But I have a dream: people will wake up—one of these days—to reality. While technology taught us to escape from real people, we’re beginning to realize how irreplaceable we really are. An email from a friend is not really much. A hand-written letter is truly something else. A coffee date is even more. A handshake from a living soul is quite a scene. I think we are growing up, as a society. I’m not very optimistic with modern technology. I am optimistic about the human spirit. I think it’ll soon realize a profound secret: We all need one another. Books have never replaced human interpreters; social media accounts have never replaced actual physical contact.

It appears that it is safe to say that the biblical Creator God was right all along: we have been made in a creating God’s image. We are born to create things. We love to take ideas which are not palpable and make them reality. We like to make the invisible visible. We like to make our platonic lovers physical lovers. We like to take an email and convert it into a coffee date. While robots which function as prostitutes may soon replace human prostitutes, but even those pathetic losers who seek to objectify the Other and treat her as an object, yes, they too, will most likely not want to replace contact—holy contact, sacrosanct contact—with another human being. Even the worst of us would not allow such a thing to happen. But maybe I’m a dreamer…

In wanting so much to make distance and time disappear, we have come not much closer. A married soldier out in a war-zone is not really home when his wife emails him. Home is still where the heart is—the physical, beating, bloody, human heart. That heart is the heart which I speak of.

In attempting to escape reality, we have realized just how stupid and pointless it now all appears. We have attempted to do the impossible—we simply cannot replace a living soul. At least not yet. (And that is mostly an absolute “not.”)

Out of such a context I write about responsibility. We have become irresponsible. We no longer are responsible for our actions, for our thoughts, for our engagements, etc. We like to use language that simply avoids the cost of responsibility. Responsibility makes a claim on one’s time. It demands that the person devote his or her time and energy to meet a particular need—a need that the person is under obligation to fulfill. In our attempt to run from reality, we have attempted to also annul responsibility. We are no longer responsible towards people in our daily activities. One needs to simply read the way people talk to each other on the internet. We are no longer responsible citizens. One can see our lack of responsibility in the way we treat the environment. One can see it in the way we replace and dispose of the prostitutes we screw on a weekly basis. One can see our irresponsibility towards our parents; “the government” is now taking care of those people. Send them all away to a nursing home! One can see our irresponsibility in the way we divorce our wives and our husbands. Send her the divorce paperwork—I’ll text her later and let her know I’m divorcing her! One can see our irresponsibility in the way we abandon our children. Hey, at least I’m not like those other assholes who don’t pay their child support on time!

One can sense irresponsibility everywhere.

Our modern love lacks a responsible moral framework upon which to rest its bleeding head upon. In love we are no longer responsible. But what do you mean, kind Sir, by “responsibility”? What I mean is this: to be responsible is to be obligated to fulfill something; to be responsible is to be held accountable for x or y. Love requires responsibility.

The first step our culture has taken in annulling responsibility is a step most of us are guilty of both promoting and endorsing; that is, we are all responsible for speaking of love as falling inherently outside the realm of autonomy and personal responsibility. Take a look at the way we speak of love. “I’ve fallen in love with you—madly, passionately, and unreasonably,” says the boy to the girl. She responds, “I love you for all the wrong reasons too!” They then proceed to embrace one another…

We have taken love and made it an irresponsible action. It is not something we do ourselves; it is not something we will into existence ourselves. Rather, we “fall” (passively, beyond our control) in love. Love is something that “happens” to us (notice, again, the passive language). Passively we fall in love and passively we fall out. It wasn’t me. That is our motto. “Our marriage just fell apart,” says the single mother to her newly found lover. The woman never says, “I made our marriage fall apart.” She never says, “I contributed with my own thoughts, actions, and words towards the dissolution of our marriage.” Instead, what we get is karma-language. We get New Age voodoo. The husband is never responsible for his infidelity. “I was having a drink and then one thing led to another, and my erection got out of control, and then we had sex…” he tells his wife. In other words, it was clearly not his fault. He’s not really responsible.

But responsibility is not being pushed out by the ignorant mob only. Not entirely. We have philosophers with their determinism and theologians with their predestination. We have Nietzsche and we have Sam Harris. Since we have them both—lo and behold, none of us are morally held accountable for our actions: our neurons made us do it!

But even more could be said. So many of us have taken on the proverbial “victim mentality” (and I’m not using this as an absolutely derogatory term). We are all victims. We are victims when it comes to falling in love. We are victims when it comes to falling out of love. We are victims when we get married (It must have been cupid!) and we are victims when we divorce (Time and change just drew us apart). Once again, it is never really us. It’s always something or someone else.

Love requires responsibility. It requires duty and time. There is something that makes us human when we are facing a human (scientists call them “mirror neurons”). We are human beings—sickly and broken—apart from the Others.

It is time for us to take on a “victor mentality.” We are here and we are responsible for the way our neurons fire—whether we like it or not. Our language needs to take on a more responsibility-oriented approach. Believe me, once one starts noticing just how much our language forgives us, one is closer to realizing just how much one is in need of repentance. The way we use our language reflects the way we act and feel about things. If love is a passive occurrence, how could one, ultimately, be responsible for it? I no longer wish to use fairytale-language. Fairytales are fine—so long as they are introduced with the phrase once-upon-a-time; so long as they remain in a bookstore. Life is not much of a fairytale. There is no magic here. There’s only Love and its cousin, Responsibility.

Porn and the Problem of Pixelated People

Porn is a great thing. It does things to us that not many of us would—in the real world—have had done to us. It makes us happy. It makes us forget reality. It makes us soak in the moment, experience every bit of sensual pleasure thrown our way, like a piece of hot bacon. We jump and scream to get a piece of porn. There’s a sense in modern America that if one doesn’t think about sex for a second, one might get erectile dysfunction before finishing the reading of this text.

Porn allows us all to get a piece of the pie—the hooker from the TV has now come to your bedroom…for free! Wow. It’s like a gift of God; it’s the redeeming atonement of Jesus Christ. With porn, we get to have things our way, and our way only. We digest porn like we digest bacon. For a while we even fall into the illusion that what porn is offering us is truly real. The pussy of porn is probably tangible—like the Virgin Madonna. We get lulled into its mysticism as if we’re monks chanting Augustinian hymns to God. Ah, I could probably rant about porn for endless miles. I bet all men (and some women) could too. Porn is one of those ubiquitous things on which all of us have an opinion. Whether it’s BDSM or soft porn, we all have some opinion on the pressing issue. The Christians seem to hate porn. But even their jihad is somewhat ironic—as it is well-known that porn use increases in hotel rooms during Christian conferences. Apparently, Christian men have penises too. No surprise there. At least not for me.

I don’t like porn. And I happen to be a male. I like women, and I find women, well, very attractive. I’m like a caveman’s compass needle struggling with every molecule in me to point North. I’m the needle and the women are—you guessed it—my North Pole. Even Santa Claus himself didn’t see this one coming, so I give you permission to be amazed.

Hell, why am I not in favor of porn? Am I one of the guys who’s got something to lose? Have I purchased stocks in an anti-porn company? Not really. I dislike porn for several reasons. In fact, I have existential issues with porn.

Porn has a problem with people. You see, people don’t really exist in the porn world. Through the porn-washed eyes of porn, mankind (sic) loses its ability to see actual people. People as human beings are annihilated and completely annulled in the world of porn, according to the Laws of Porn. What one gets instead is this image, this fragmentary relic of an image, of a complex human being. One sees nothing but her vagina. Her breasts. Her eyes. Her hair. One can almost smell her. What one cannot do is experience and engage her as a human being. One takes away from her the very thing that makes her her. One takes away from the human being his/her humanity. One cancels out the human. Porn allows you to do that. It forces you to do that. It trains you to do that. It molds you into an anti-human person. It makes you the Antichrist. Through the eyes of porn, one can only objectify the Other. You end up seeing her for who she really is not. There is no “being” in porn. Existence is non-existent in porn. There is nothing. The Other is not really in a state of being. The Other is completely wiped out in the act of holocaust. The Other is not. What you get is an empirical fragment, a pornographic image, of the Other. You don’t know anything about the Other. All you “know” is the color of her vagina. Your knowledge ends there. You’ve reduced her to a color. Her existence hinges upon the fact that she is red or pink or blue or pale or…

With the women in the porn industry, there’s really no such thing as a mutual relationship. There’s no such thing as equality. The women of porn are not really relating to anybody. You, the viewer alone, relate to her. You look at the pixels which take the form of a woman. You gaze at her private regions and she seems exposed to you. She has bared her soul to you. Oh, if pussies had souls! You wonder why it has taken so long for her to come to this moment, this special moment. It has taken her an entire fifteen seconds to bare herself before your analytical eyes. You feel as if a lifetime had passed. You fantasize about her. (You call the pixels her.) You entertain all kinds of things about these pixels. You endow them with emotions. Like the God of the Bible, you breathe life into these pixels. You call them to action. “And it was good,” you tell yourself. You imagine that these pixels do all that you tell them to do. These pixels dance before your eyes without ever flickering. You are in awe in front of them. You fabricate some sexual story and set these pixels to motion. And, boy, do they move! You then command these pixels to obey your every wish. There are no laws here. Porn needs none. You command these pixels to become mute before you. You toss them every which way.

And five minutes later the chapter ends. The pixels fade out.

You lose. What you thought was a girl was no more than just movement on a screen.

As Chris Hedges remarked in Empire of Illusion, “Porn is about reducing women to corpses. It is about necrophilia.”[1] Porn is a display of an object—a dead one at best.

What you thought had a soul was nothing but the reflection of your own soul—and a sorry state it is in. You seen nothing but a mere reflection of yourself. The relationship in porn was one-dimensional; it was never mutual. It never even came close to resembling anything human. And yet a human entertained such a relation. But what sort of human wishes such a state of affairs? What sort of human enjoys such acts? What sort of human, I ask?

Are you human at all?

There is something inhuman about porn. It contains this contradiction: it attempts to portray human sexual relations without the act of sexual sex nor the relation. What a profound paradox! How could such a thing be possible? Is ice ever hot? If so, porn just burned up.

And porn does not allow room for existence. It takes away everything existence ever meant or ever could have possibly meant.

Existence—as Kierkegaard, and Heidegger after him, pointed out—is “a becoming.” We exist because we are in a state of existing and becoming. We are not frozen in time like pornographic images on your pixelated screen. We are not pixels. Human beings cannot be reduced to pixels.

The girl on the screen is really not a girl by any means—she’s just electricity leaving colorful explosions on your screen. That’s about it. Porn has no people engaged in its business—it only has fragments of people’s existence; it only gives you pixelated people. A rather detestable thing. Really, a shame.

Written by Moses Y. Mikheyev

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York: Nation Books, 2009), 82.