Welcome, fellow Astral Codex Ten readers!

You all must know how grief besets
us at the memory
of bygone times of happiness.
The Marble Cliffs call thee.

My review of Ernst Jünger’s On the Marble Cliffs became a finalist in the Astral Codex Ten 2023 book review contest, and now that the anonymous vote is closed, I can say that. So I got the opportunity to give Scott a link he’d post. This is to introduce my Big Writing Project, and explain why it may be especially interesting to ACX readers in particular.

Like Scott and most of you, I’m an atheist. I also share Scott’s idea that some religious communication has strengths worth appreciating. Specifically, I appreciate that religion provides a non-pathologizing frame for ecstatic experiences and I endeavor to help atheism provide the same. For that purpose, I’m writing the Seven Secular Sermons.

These sermons are guided meditations, in the traditional sense of contemplative practice, not the ones on Moloch. They’re also the longest poems ever written in the very traditional common metre format (that you know from Amazing Grace and House of the Rising Sun) and they’re best listened to rather than read. If you have 16 and a half uninterrupted minutes, 🔊please consider trying the first one to see if this kind of art delights you. Fair warning: this may permanently alter your experience of reality.

The easily listened to, but difficult to write, format is why this is a very long term project. I started in 2012 and have the first five of seven finished. Each sermon gives a poetic introduction to a field of knowledge that has something to say about the nature of what we are: physics in the first, chemistry in the second and so on. So this is very similar to De rerum natura by Lucretius, a classic Roman poem Scott has previously written about.

It also owes a lot to Rudyard Kipling, and to Richard Dawkins, both of whom you’ve also encountered in several of Scott’s posts.

Astute rationalists will find some ingroup-relevant quotes. For example,

In fact, there’s more complexity
in one small butterfly
than we see in the galaxy
out there beyond the sky.

is taken from Eliezer’s The First World Takeover and this (about our ancestors)

Compared to us, they seem like fools
but they were smart to choose
to build the tools that built the tools
that built the tools we use.

is from Nate’s This is a Dawn. There’s more if you care to look.

This project is not just for people as intellectually adventurous as you. And since closing your eyes to meditate just weirds out many people, here is an illustrated video version that makes closing your eyes optional, but should similarly help appreciate the grace and beauty of a purely reality-based worldview: