Conan the Philosopher

From Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian story “Queen of the Black Coast”, some serious philosophy that is applicable to both theories that the universe is a hologram and that some quantum fluctuation could cause all reality to unravel in a moment:

“But what of the worlds beyond the river of death?” she persisted.

“There is no hope here or hereafter in the cult of my people,” answered Conan.

“In this world men struggle and suffer vainly, finding pleasure only in the bright madness of battle; dying, their souls enter a gray misty realm of clouds and icy winds, to wander cheerlessly throughout eternity.”

Bêlit shuddered. “Life, bad as it is, is better than such a destiny. What do you believe, Conan?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. ..Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

This was effectively condensed into the most famous line in the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Conan the Barbarian:

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

For actual philosophy, check out Peter Adamson’s podcast History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps or the book version, Classical Philosophy: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Volume 1 

You call yourselves nerds?

Last Thursday (or as Thursday was migrating into Friday), I was revelling in the Frazetta covers collage posted at BoingBoing and discussing how Conan the Barbarian (1982) was a truly great swords & sandals movie with Natalie Willoughby (Leia Shot First, which she did), when I saw that Conan the Barbarian was on TV.

In the spirit of #SciWars, I thought retooling Conan the Barbarian quotes to represent scientific experiences would be a great idea. It was fun for me, but almost no one else (Storify of tweets here).

Continue reading “You call yourselves nerds?”