The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Review: On Existential Liberty and Living

Review of: Campagna, Richard V. To Play Along the Path: The Multifarious Ps of Existential Philosophy and Practice. 1st World Publishing, 2008.
By Tim Krenz

(The author, Mr. Campagna, will appear in Polk County September 26-28, 2008. He will have a book signing at the community Autumn Fest on the scenic overlook in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, Saturday, September 27th. Call The Cepia Club at 715-646-9933 for more info).

To be released this fall, this nifty little collection of essays put together by Richard Campagna and friends is notable for one very striking impression: It takes a complex thing like living life and establishes in an easy to read 150 pages a simple approach to succeed in a “life for the living.”
Campagna, a former US Vice Presidential candidate, international corporate lawyer, and college adjunct professor of Mass Media Law and Legal Philosophy, contributed the forward and three essays to the work. Most compelling is his list of 50 things “Dos and Don’ts” of existential living. But the entire book, compiled by some pretty deep thinkers of “existing,” approaches the application from many disciplines like education, family, medicine, law, sports, and psychology. The theme of the book stems from how simplicity can be found in life just by reason in practical common sense and faith in the final result. The conclusion is iron-clad: Do what is right for you, be a positive example in what you do, and help others for no other reward.
What is existentialism? In short, existentialism is a way of thinking that builds a person’s own values with the ultimate aim of making sense of ourselves, our reality, and why we are here; and we obtain those values from our interpretation of our own experiences. According to such “common sense” philosophy, there is no need for anyone or anything else, even the doctrine of religious scripture as interpreted by clergy, to define or limit what we believe about why we live, or what we should do to find a successful way toward spiritual serenity. The goal is not to steal rewards or cheat into heaven, but to create a pleasant haven for ourselves (in our minds?) here in reality, and let the fate fall on our example and belief when it is all over. The goal of this particular existential exercise is to see what purpose each and everyone one of us lives to do; embrace it; glory in it; live it by example; but not lord it over others with the imposition of our self-will. It is free-will, not self-serving fear of force or fact of fraud, that should determine our choices. It is fate, spirit, space, or time that decides the right or wrong in the end.
What is the purpose of living? Who really knows. We know one thing for sure, however: Even if caught up in a sub-real daydream, or kicked into a surreal orbit of insanity, what we see–or what we think we see–really is what we get. But. . .somewhere out there is a super-reality, and we cannot know that in this world. As individuals, whether Created by a Providence, empowered by Camus or Nietzsche, or “evolved” by a Darwin, each and every person owns only one thing by grace of any Nature. We own only our thoughts, emotions, spirits, and bodies. This construction of the absolute and supreme Right in Nature is the primary foundation upon which the United States was founded, that of “Individual Self-Ownership.” This ultimate property we can always claim. And we must struggle for this right to own ourselves every single day. In the beginning, primitive rights extended from religion and politics only to those strong enough to grant themselves the power over others–those self-chosen to rule over others: priests, prophets, politicians, and pundits. Humanity has evolved greater values thus far. WE THE PEOPLE value the Natural Laws of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit (not attainment) of happiness. The most encouraging gifts of self-ownership, as implied in the book are reason, optimism, fellowship and plain common sense.
In American history, at the founding of our independence and the collective will as We The People with a destiny, recognizing African Americans as humans only came with the bludgeon and horror of violence, i.e. the Civil War and Reconstruction (still happening). It was withholding simple dignity and respect from “others” that led to all of our problems, then and now. Today, concerning all non-whites and non-Christians, the lack or absence of respect and dignity of other diverse peoples based on race, color, class, wealth, language, gender and custom as equal brothers in the fellowship of humanity still causes the blood, terror and even homicidal-genocidal destruction around the globe. Humanity still has far too travel along the Path set out so brilliantly by Campagna and friends to allow others the same rights we would grant our selfish selves–to live, let live, in dignity, and to have the same choice and chance to do so.
Do we create our own standards of by which we live as individuals? Surely we can. Surely we must. Even in religion. Yet, something exists which grounds us in the normal-real, despite the sub-real wants we dream about or the surreal poisons by which we are fed spoonfuls by decay of values, like the atomic half-life in which the entire universe breaks down matter molecule by molecule. Like all matter, the decay of our thoughts, feelings, faith, and bodies, with pain and aging, replaces the old with new. It is not quite a historical dialectic which spins us away from the stable orbits in which we find everyday happy living possible. It is the loss of optimism.
Sometimes stressed, sometimes sick, as owners of ourselves, tearing down prejudices, and the ebb and flow of any faith itself, things end in new, even better forms–into life, death, rebirth, or nothingness. Hence anyone has cause for “Candide”-like optimism, if they only see the inside reality clear enough in ourselves and others We hope that reasonable logic, gives us a reason to be here. If not, we are all screwed. Searching for purpose, even in the simple things, is the ultimate goal of the existentialist. Treating all others and other things kindly, with unconditional love and respect, even if we do not like to do so, might be the only way to keep the universe in its orbits. It might keep us from accidentally or intentionally hurting one another. Finding such purpose is not the end in itself for individuals or the world. Sharing it, not dictating it, is only the beginning for all of us.


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