I don’t care what you claim to know. It is still you that is knowing it. Let us explore the you before going any further.
Thus we have my fascination with the self.
How do I know what I think until I see what I say? ― E.M. Forster
I don’t care what you claim to know. It is still you that is knowing it. Let us explore the you before going any further.
Thus we have my fascination with the self.
I hate the feeling of not really living. You know the feeling. It happens when you begin reflecting on your life, your existence. You ask yourself those questions that only you can answer. What am I doing with my life? Am I happy? Why am I here? Where am I going? Am I alright with that? Why am I not doing more? Being more?
On one hand I find myself thinking how terrible it is that I have these thoughts. On the other, how wonderful. I and I alone can answer these questions. No one else. They don’t need to float along indeterminately. I can solidify them into whatever I see fit.
You wanna know what pisses me off? That I don’t write more. Not just write, but that I don’t share more. I have so many thoughts I need to get out at any given moment. Thoughts on the uniformity of experience. The quaint nature of maturing. What it’s like to watch people make mistakes, and let them make mistakes, knowing that’s the only way they’ll learn. And figuring out ways to not resent them for it. I wanted to write about the fact that everyone thinks they’re thinking is the most exact, their conclusions generally the most sound, like they are some how blessed with insight and knowledge and reasoning that allows them to transcend conclusions attributed to the ‘petty’ masses (I sure hope I don’t do this. Hm. Who am I kidding. I’m all too human.).
I wanted to write about the fact that there are always ‘others’, but that these are people too. Now, what the hell do I mean by ‘others’? They are the people you can’t or don’t identify with. They are the object to your subject; disconnected from the humanity you possess. They are revered or resented. They are the end and butt of all your jokes, criticisms, affections, reverence, etc. The ‘others’ are the awkward or mean or defiant or kind or caring people in the world that are somehow more or less intelligent, or something ‘other’ than you. Somehow on a level that is distinctly different from yours. I’m not sure I fully articulated what I mean. No matter. The point is is that this conception is really just bullshit. There is no ‘other’.
I was observing a family visiting the university today. I did a quick assessment from observations and began thinking of a possible scenario. Never mind if it’s true. It could be true.
Suppose: Some parents were crude, uneducated, poor, uncultured, unfashionable and the like. They had a son who was extremely bright and intelligent. This family had a respect for one another. Their conversations and points were genuine and always considered and heeded. Their son soon enrolls as a student and becomes enculterated with the university life and begins to adopt some customs and conventions that allow him to socially function. One day you sit next to him in class. When he talks you have a deep respect for him. He is articulate and smart and seems to be put together. You revere him in a certain regard. Say you walk on the street and you see a family. The same crude family. You make hasty judgments about them: who they are, what they know, their capacities and capabilities. They are the “others”.
What I find amazing is that the son and parents can function with such respect for each other, and that that respect is not there when we pass superficial judgments on people we have trouble identifying with. We have no problem passing respect to the son, but we’d never infer that he was cast from the same mold as the crude, uneducated family.
Does this make sense?
I suppose I find it interesting when people talk about others in higher or lower regards. They are people. Someones son, mom, bro, daughter, niece, employee, best friend, colleague, etc. “He’s a loser.” to one person is to someone else “He’s the smartest guy I know.” Or “She’s a bitch” is to someone else “She was my first friend.”
I find people hilarious. Especially the naive. They teach me about myself better than anyone else. I watch their actions and could almost cast bets on the outcomes. They haven’t a clue. I could talk about what’s at hand, wave it in their face, and they wouldn’t have a clue to the mechanisms at work. They have their appealing myths, their comforting delusions. They would attribute it to their own ratiocinations, or other causes that could be explained with their endless reservoir of knowledge and experience. Psh.
Existence? There is no reason.
Absurdity: when the inference of reason reveals itself to be wholly dependent on cognitive activity alone, the sole work of consciousness. Inference ceases to follow from the nauseating compulsion of objective necessities and the world readjusts itself as a relative, subjective condition of man. Inference positions itself as alien to the world from which we attribute it. When we posit the question “why?”, we reveal the lack of inference and elucidate the feeble follow through of reason. We realize, through an awakening, that inference is a machination imparted to the mind, rather than a process inherent to the world. Justification is born out of intention, out of the desire, to survive or thrive.
Inferential causation. Rationality.
We cannot negate this absurdity with rationality and simultaneously escape it.
Consciousness undergoes an awakening under its own weariness. The question ‘why?’ invites a break with a life of routine habit, of poor reflection and inauthentic living.
Creativity and rationality are incommensurable. As is art and clarity. Either one accepts absurdity and the lack of genesis, or one willfully bears the ligatures linking man to unreflective leitmotivs.
Revolt with freedom and passion; embrace existence as protean possibility. The possible is the absurd.
My vision: Pt.1
It really shakes you outta the stupor of life. Everything shows itself as absurd machinations of the mind, mental metaphors, crazy constructions. The contours of experience bleed and seep into a kaleidoscope of color. Everything shakes and shudders. It bubbles and boils over, spewing out of my mind, my mouth. My eyes consume the uncertainty that entertains the world.
10:30. Three hits. We talk about what’s to come. Drink water. The paper tabs begin to mush under our tongue. I roll the paper between my teeth. Music pulsates in the background. I switch tracks between eclectic electronica, to aural ambiance, to dithyrambic instrumentals, to melancholy melodies.
I play videos on my laptop. My friend watches from the bed. His face is serious, but inquisitive. There is something creeping behind his veiled expression. Something is beginning to swivel and unhinge. He hasn’t put his finger on it yet. My eyes catch his. A smile wraps around his face.
Hilarity begins to boil. My limbs feel weak. A faint vibration ripples around the periphery of my vision. It is almost out of sight, but it resonates with the growing uncertainty lurking at the edge of my thoughts. What’s to come? An impulse stands ready. It is barely noticeable, but it pervades my experience. Apprehension? No. Anxiety? Not quite. It is a steady waiting. For what? For nothing. For my senses to explode. For my experience to erupt with something. At this point I’m not quite sure what that something is. Meaning? Color? Laughter? Absurdity? Noise? Overwhelmed with possibility. Fragments of thought begin spinning off and collect other disassociations. They amass into knots. Clarity begins to merge with severe obfuscation. Inky residue clouds the genesis of my thoughts. Where do they come from?
We need to walk. We need to go somewhere. Something wants to crawl out of me. Creation. Explosion. I need stimulation. External stimulation. I need to make memories out of my mind.
I look at the glasses of water resting next to the computer monitor: short and fat, tall and skinny. His stubby glass of water seems icy and pure. I examine mine. Smudges seem to ossify into bedaubing patterns of residue. I pick up the glass. My eyes probe the contents. Light refracts into millions of splintering shades. The edges of each dividing shade is strewn with a spectrum of variegating color. Something is moving within the water’s current: particulates. A blue fuzz. My face contorts with a look of disgust. I glance at the other glass. It sits still with pure glistening coolness.
“My water is contaminated,” I declare to the room.
He shifts his attention to me. He’s been watching my inspections with perplexity.
“Your water is perfectly fine.”
“No. It’s not. It’s contaminated with debris. I cannot believe I’ve been drinking this water.”
My stomach tightens at the thought of microbial contents worming its way into my blood stream. I swallow the writhing reaction down and head to the kitchen. I pour soap all over the glass and furiously clean its walls. Repeatedly I hold it up to the light for inquest. “Not clean enough” I mutter, and continue cleaning. The bubbles on my hands seem to froth mystically into existence, like tiny worm holes spontaneously forming and combusting.
I return to my room with a clean glass of fresh water. I seat myself and inspect it one last time before sipping its contents and returning it beside the stubby glass. There is a pause. My world begins to shudder, my skin titillates, my eyes strain. Suddenly I get up.
“We need to do something.” I say this with conviction.
“I agree” my friend replies, “let’s go somewhere.”
A confusion has set in. Beginnings and endings seem elusive. Thoughts and goals, a peradventure. Is it cold? I go outside to audit the evening: Cold, really cold, with a mounting moisture. We bundle up in garments, grab apples and a bottle of water. The process seems difficult to organize. I cannot forget the necessities: but what are these necessary items? Wither are we going? and for how long? He goads that we are ready, that nothing has escaped our attention. I hesitantly subscribe.
We exit the comfy confines of my home and begin walking down the street.
“Traffic calming neighborhood” he says. “Reduce speed ahead”
The two of us are paused in the street examining the sign.
“What does this mean?” I say with my hands on my hips. I tilt my head thoughtfully. “Who is doing the calming?” I am bewildered. Who put this sign up? How long has this gone unnoticed? “Is the neighborhood calming? This doesn’t make sense. Who in this neighborhood is calming? The traffic? How does this work? What does it mean?” After a good deal of speculation and confusion we decide that the question is better left answering for another time.
We walk down the street.
We look into the windows of passing houses. A gaggle of children sit round their instruments and play harmoniously with mechanical precision. The parents recline in the adjacent room. Each wears a pacified expression; or is it sedated?
The trees force an atramentous outline into the caliginous sky. From giant branches sprout thousands of nascent limbs, covering the tree like coarse cilia. The thick branches look hacked and mutilated. Only in the winter can you see the atrocities these trees bear. They bear their scars proudly and persist the fight upwards. Missing limbs, brutal reminders of mans molestation.
We continue walking along the sidewalk. Street lamps illuminate the misty air. It glows like a neon lamp, smooth and ambient.
Vegetation seems to glisten with oscillating shades of purple, orange, pink, green, red and yellow. We continue thinking about the plants. I begin a diatribe.
“Plants are raped. Flowers are abducted. They are thrown into these whore houses we call gardens and flowerbeds, unnaturally solicited for our aesthetic indulgences. Our eyes molest their natural colors. They try their best to impress us in this new and foreign land. Rows of plants, plucked from their homelands, their natural environments, are forced into crowded corridors and tight boxes. All for human indulgence…” I mutter inaudibly, lost in thought, and continue “for the gratification of manipulation. We manipulate nature, whore her out, rape and molest her natural beauty, exploit her fertile flowers. This grass is not at home. These trees? Stolen away in a violent struggle. Their offspring, the tiny seedlings huddling to her ovaries, clutch for dear life. They are stripped and implanted into a city, cast into pots, verges, medians and swales.”
An elementary school passes beside us. Four giant columns support the architrave holding the massive pediment bearing its name.
“Let’s vandalize it.” I say enthusiastically.
“No way. That’s a horrible idea.”
“No, not like, vandalize it. I mean, lets try toppling these columns.”
“Exactly like Samson. I mean, he did it. I feel like if we can topple these columns, we deserve to vandalize it.”
We laugh and position ourselves between the columns and give a few exasperating heaves and hoes. Nothing. We abandon the pursuit and sling insults at Samson.
“What a woman. I mean really, who gets stronger the longer their hair is? Isn’t long hair emasculating? I think they had it all wrong. He should be ultra strong the shorter his hair is. Psh.”
We continue walking along, admiring the various colors bleeding from the leaves. The twigs tremble in the breeze. Green buds hang from their tips and weigh on the weak winter branches. The trees seem alive. They probe the air like colorful coral creations, like the fingers of sea anemones.
Random Thoughts on Science
An excerpt from Pascal’s Pensees:
666. Fascination. Somnum suum. Figura hujus mundi.
The Eucharist. Comedes panem tuum. Panem nostrum.
Inimici Dei terram lingent.122 Sinners lick the dust, that is to say, love earthly pleasures.
The Old Testament contains the types of future joy, and the New contains the means of arriving at it. The types were of joy; the means of penitence; and nevertheless the Paschal Lamb was eaten with bitter herbs, cum amaritudinibus.
Singularis sum ego donec transeam. Jesus Christ before His death was almost the only martyr.
Blaise Pascal was a philosopher who contributed to a variety of academic disciplines. I find that his fragmented writings in Pensees are the most fascinating artifact left of the man. It was compiled from a handful of notes and letters and scraps. It offers a glimpse into the innerworkings of a great man, a man of prodigious contribution and genius.
The passage in bold resonates with me. It describes those who, swept up in a world of self-indulgence, go about “licking the earth”. While I’m no religious advocate, I believe there is a lot of truth in the bible and other religious texts. I think that sometimes secular and biblical minds get caught up in the differences they share rather than their similarities. They often talk past each other when talking about the same thing.
Whether you’re a Christian or secularist doesn’t detract from the fact that preserving the self is important. Ravaging it with temporal self indulgences, material luxury, and cheap thrills won’t leave you any more of a person. While the Christian equates this life to that of a sinner, a secularist would just look at this man and think how empty his inner life must be if he feels the need to continually fill it with such vapid pursuits and possessions.
“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” -Ray Bradbury
This quote inspires the hell outta me. Remake the world. Fashion it according to the inner. What is the inner? Is it lust worthy? Is it wonderfully made? What does that inner life look like? How does one accumulate enough of these miniature worlds to reconstruct a wholly new reality?
Is it mood that determines the direction? Passions? Motivations? What is it in someone, in myself, that fuels the furious fire inside? Where is that spark?
What must I do? Huddle in libraries? Nestle in books? Must I write? Endlessly? Ceaselessly without tire? How to fashion the imagination? The infinite?
The more defiant and questionable and adventurous you are, the larger your world. The gaping green grass spans as far as the eye can see.
Question everything but the wild. Never tame yourself.
Remake the world.
Imagination. What a wonderful concept. What is imagination? The faculty that imagines. That creates something from nothing. That extends beyond the reach of time and necessity and constraints of realism. It falls endlessly forward and backward. Forms and substance, concepts and ideas, personalities and character, comedy and tragedy.
Is it sad that I cannot paint a story of imagination? I need to water this latent faculty, this dormant world. It exists wholly independent, barely existing at all. Where is this place where monsters smile? Before I wake each day, I want to write down ten impossible ideas. I want to force the option and make them exist in the imaginary.
Etymology is fun. Words are fascinating:
Schumpeter and Creative Destruction:
The Process of Market Innovation in Capitalist Societies
Joseph Schumpeter was a 20th century Austrian economist who taught at Harvard for several years upon coming to the US. While much of his work was overshadowed by his contemporary Keynes, he made important contributions to macroeconomic theory by developing dynamic models of market change. His work described the nature of market innovation within capitalist societies and emphasized the role of less quantitative measures such as sociology as a major factor for economic development. Much of his inspiration was drawn from the economists Marx and Weber who favored dynamic sociological backgrounds, as well as Walrus from whom he borrowed the concept of the entrepreneur. Despite his emphasis on social factors, however, Schumpeter was one of the leading econometric economists of his day.
In 1942 Schumpeter published Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. In this work lies the theory of creative destruction, one of his most notable contributions. Originally a term coined by Marx, Schumpeter employed the “creative destruction” to mean the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”. He wrote that the concerns of capitalism were less about how existing structures were administered and maintained and more about how these structures are destroyed and created. Entrepreneurs, he says, are the sole facilitators of innovation and invention that bring about these structural and market changes in economic systems.
Schumpeter placed much focus on equilibrium and the role of entrepreneurs to facilitate change within an economy. According to Schumpeter, an economy in equilibrium produces products for future consumers who are consuming their present products, and consumers consume products of past producers in a circular flow based on past experience. The expectations and cycles are essentially contained with no new production functions allowing for changes. The entrepreneur operates outside the system and introduces changes to the production function that allow for the creation of new wealth and destruction of the old- hence the term, creative destruction.
In Schumpeter’s analysis, entrepreneurs are the sole agents of change and responsible for the destruction and construction of new markets and wealth within a society. It is the sheer acts of will and leadership, rather than intellect, which characterize the entrepreneur and secure economic progress through successful innovation.
According to Schumpeter, capitalist societies did not operate in a the static circular flow, or equilibrium, proposed by Weber where the production function is invariant and preexisting factors of production are combined according to the technology at hand mechanically. Market activity is much more dynamic and changing. It is the Entrepreneurs who operate as a nonentity outside of this equilibrium and force new combinations of factors that disturb the circular flow as a means of innovative development. Rather than changing the quantity of factors to change the quantity of products produced, this disturbance creates market disequilibrium as their innovative contributions change the form of the production function. This change in production function form introduces new and higher quality commodities which destroys old wealth and creates new wealth.
Reliabilism is a form of epistemic externalism that generally states that a belief is justified when it results from a reliable belief forming process that is either doxastically dependent or doxastically independent. That is, S knows that p iff p is true, SBp is true, and S has a reliable process for arriving at p. In this way, SJp (att) iff (1) it is not in other epistemic evaluative terms, (2) explains how SJp is justified is a function of SBp’s genesis. This principle emphasizes the virtue of the belief forming mechanism and the veridical historicity of the belief over the truth value in order to account for the possibility of a false belief.
Suppose that I claim knowledge of my age, 24. I believe that my age of 24 is true. The process I possess to justify my age is to check my birth certificate. As a notarized document of the government, I believe the process of checking my birth date to its data yields reliable knowledge. I justify this belief forming process from the fact that everyone verifies their age in this way and it is most accurate and consistent. Additionally, I believe the government would not falsify this data as a notarized document. This is an exemplary example of reliabilism because my knowledge is based on the virtue of the belief forming process, naming checking the birth certificate, that is historically reliable and still allows for the possibility of falsity if say, my birth certificate was lost, or doctored, and I forgot my real birth date.
My most recent tattoo:
I drew inspiration from Emerson’s opening line in his essay Self-Reliance. It literally translates: No you seek yourself outside. More poetically: ‘Do not seek yourself outside yourself’ or, ‘seek yourself within’.
Quaesīverīs is the second-person singular perfect active subjunctive of quaerō. Or quaesīveris, which is the second-person singular future perfect active indicative of quaerō. Quaerō means: I seek, look for; I ask, question, inquire; I strive for; endeavor; seek to obtain; I miss, lack; I desire, require.
Some interpretations: ‘Stretch your arm no farther than your sleeve will reach’, or ‘Cut your Coat according to your Cloth’
Many think it was a misquote from the Satires of A. Persius Flaccus, who lived in the first century AD: “… nec te quaesiveris extra” which means: “Nor look for yourself (what you can find only in yourself) outside yourself.” “Be your own norm.” Others arrange it: “ne quaesiveris extra te,” or “nor ask any opinion but your own.” Pretor translated “nec te quaesiveris extra” from “do not try to correct the tongue of your delicate balance by applying it to a pair of ordinary scales.” That is, do not seek out the opinion of another beside yourself.
Essentially the message is, you find yourself by looking inwards, not by turning to the pedagogy and opinions of teachers and preachers and judgments of others.”
I haven’t updated in quite some time. I need to journal more. Every once and awhile I find it necessary to take a break from writing and thinking and let my mind just absorb things and act. Too much reflection paralyzes me.
So mid-terms week was grueling. Glad that is over and done with. I went to Mardi Gras from Sat to Wed. It was crazy as usual. Not as crazy as last year, but crazy nonetheless. We had eight people per room. For many this was their first time in New Orleans. There was an incredible amount of drinking. About 18 hours a day. I wish I could say this is a moderate estimation, but it’s not at all. I don’t think I regained a sense of sobriety at one point for the first 72 hours I was there. I had to pretty much quit on the last day. My body, my bowels, my stomach, my head, all throbbed and pulsated in response to the lacerating libations. I also spent several weeks worth of pay. Not so cool.
When I returned to Nashville I pretty much found myself in a coma. I slept for three days straight. I went out once on Friday with Conrad to a tattoo parlor. He made an appt and told me to make one as well. Initially we agreed to get one together, but I was balking so he took the initiative and stuck it to me. In the end I made an appt for Sunday March 13.
I got the words “ne te quaesiveris extra” tattooed on the underside of my right arm. My inner bicep.
“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”
Be aware of blindness. See the best in people. See them as they really are. Do not place them in the chains that bind you.
Think about your life. Think about how much of your life you wear on your sleeve. That is, think about how much of your experiences that lie open for the world to see. Consider all the experiences that make you up as a person and have contributed to your personality and character and life story. Each person is a book, albeit closed. It is up to us to open these books. Love is the key that conquers all.
I know I certainly don’t waltz around inviting people into my inner chambers, into the intimate reflections of past experience. People must show an earnest interest.
All too often we judge others with nothing more than a handful of encounters, mostly impersonal. Here is a person, composed of years of experience that shaped and molded their being, and we overlook the beautiful opportunity to extend a charity and a benefit of doubt that would allow us into their world, into a realm of experience previously undreampt and unbeknowst to us. All too often we over look people as they are. I was always fond of the quote “We never see people as they are; we see people are we are.”
So yea… we look at people, but we rarely take the time to see them. To appreciate the depth of their experience. One problem is that most people aren’t even aware of the quality of their experience. They don’t value their originality. Instead they lead an inauthentic life and never leverage their unique experience, or they sell out to the collective experience of the masses. As a result, our inquiring eye is mislead to think there is nothing there. How wrong we are. There is always so much more than meets the eye. The surface is nothing compared to the volume.
Take time to see people. Love them. That is the best charity of all.
Rows of books lined the shelves. He leaned back in his chair thoughtfully and looked at me for a moment, then threw his hands up and asked, “So what do you want? Why do you study philosophy?” He looked at me over his desk with his elbows resting on the manchettes, hands folded just below his face, with a curious patient smile.
I hesitated a moment. I knew what I was going to say. I’ve thought about this answer so many times I could write a book on it. I suppose I was trying to distill it into something powerful, so he could feel the conviction.
“Why do I want to study philosophy?” I thought out loud and my eyes drifted upwards as if looking for higher inspiration. “I want to be a better thinker. I want to develop my critical thinking skills, my problem solving skills, my ability to change perspectives and look at and identify problems differently…” I paused again. I just blurted that out. Calm yourself. “Actually…” I collected my thoughts and tried thinking practically. “Well…I’m not looking for truth, because honestly, I’ve ruled out that there’s an ultimate truth. So I suppose I want understanding. I want to understand myself and the world and my relation to the world. I want the skills and ability to solve problems and surmount whatever challenges come before me, in whatever I do. I want to look at problems and see possibility, no matter what the task or challenge.”
Interlocuter1:Why don’t you act?
Interlocuter2:I am fearful. I am fearful of failure. I am fearful that when the time comes to perform, I will flounder and fail. That my faculties will not produce according to my intent. That my work will be a reflection of the inner man and that that inner man will reveal an inauthentic dilettante.
I1:So you postpone action?
I2: I postpone the inevitable. I know full and well that the work will get done, but I am reluctant to throw myself into a task until I know I am prepared and ready and present to meet the challenge.
I1:Does postponing action work?
I2:I find that the more I defer the inevitable, the less time I have. The longer I wait to execute, the greater the anxiety festers within me. Sometimes I wait for this anxiousness to bubble over and spurn a genius reaction within me, but I know all too well that when it’s all said and done the work I produce still falls short of my ideal, and even more so with the constraints of time.
I1:Do you enjoy the anxiety?
I2: On the contrary, I loath it. I loath it so I run from it. I run inward and outward, retreating, as it were, from the pressures that plague my attention, that grab hold of my freedom. I seek solace in the dreaded distraction. Even though my gut writhes in disgust. The deadlines approach like an impending doom. The clock ticks like a pick axe into my core. Every passive second that passes leaves me feeling mutilated and weak. However, when I do rise to the challenge, which I most always do to varying degrees of intensity and resolve, I am lifted on clouds of inspiration. Regrettably, these inspiring clouds quickly burn away as I travel upwards toward my illusory ideals, until my elation reaches a determined zenith and I sputter and fall through their cover into a maelstrom of doubt. I land with my face planted into the earth, my eyes cast downward, and I am pummeled by self loathing, the hellacious hail of petty dreams.
I1: How much longer will you persist like this?
I2: The question is entertained, as possibility often is, but I am left with the trammels of procrastination delaying even this decision. It is queer that death seems a suitable sacrifice for such a decision.
I1:Death over action?
I2: I am aware of the irrationality. Destruction poses at the feet of this deceit. It seems that death and chaos, in all its abandonment and denial, are preferable to embracing a self steeped in shame.
I1:What would it mean if you failed trying?
I2: My convictions are two fold: either I do, and reserve the hesitations of action for the timid and weak, and press my determination into the folds of time so there is no escape of triumph; or I try with a pathetic weariness, a gesture to save myself from the humiliation of self-criticism, an act that resents the gesture itself and propagates the very frailty that robs me of any hope securing victory.
I1: It seems the former is should win out; why not opt for winning?
I2: I will now do.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.