I am alone - me alone, I exist alone, I consume the crowd and the crowd becomes me without me there is no crowd without me - nothing no thing without me the thing, any thing is absent was never there had never existed I, alone, am and, alone, I exist
Life is all it is – joyful, sad, comprehensive, confusing, peaceful, violent, and on and on and on…
Of course, regardless of what reality tries to tell one, it can only be what one – you, me, each unique individual making up the all of we – says it is.
And no matter how hard we/I try to understand it, to challenge it, to master it, chances are we/I never will; and chances are along the way we/I will alienate those who see reality 180 degrees differently than you/me.
So, understanding our understanding and execution of life will always be incomplete and often inaccurate, and way off kilter to many, accepting that some will love us for what we do and, sadly, some with hate us for the same, will hopefully make it all a bit less painful.
So, we might as smile the best we can and dance.
There is some wisdom in taking a gloomy view, in looking upon the world as a kind of Hell, and in confining one’s efforts to securing a little room that shall not be exposed to the fire.
*Perhaps a better caption would be, Willem Defoe as Arthur Schopenhauer, which is why I shan’t give up my day job.
Oh yeah, my books will be free from 00:01 (PDST) tonight until 23:59 PDST) Friday.
I look at the little pebble at my feet and can’t help but think
But for the grace of god go I
And then laugh
Not out of humor
But of fear
Because he’s nowhere
But within the magic of my mind
For, but for the grace of chance goes that pebble at my feet
No more purposefully than the patient rock at the corner of my lot
Having had waited a million years for me to move it there
Or the mountain I’ll never climb
Or the moon, or the sun
Or the boundless galaxies in the sky
That are as real to me as the oxygen molecules I breathe
I just have to take your word for it
And yet you admonish me over and over
Essence before Existence!
An a priori on high
And I want to take your word for it
Like I do for the oxygen molecules I breathe
And many times I almost convinced myself I had
But then comes the horrible news
To remind me that
You got the order all wrong
That the only a priori meaning there is
First and foremost and forever more
Is only that of my mind’s making
Of its madness
As a wanna be Existential Absurdist who’s all in with team Existence Before Essence, my initial reaction to most universal-type questions, whether they be a priori, a posteriori, or somewhere in between is usually…
I mean, such blathering existential debates to me are complete and absolute exercises in futility…
In other words, it’s absurd to think we can ever determine absolute answers to such squishy questions as what does it mean to be or are we living in the matrix of some alien simulation or what have you.
To me it’s the mystery of the how and why we exist that makes life… and death… so interesting, and which is why I couldn’t care less about such questions.
The Atlantic posted an interesting article recently about how scientists have been in a decades-long effort to determine whether free will is a thing or not by monitoring our brain waves to pin down exactly when a decision is made. It appears, since discovered during research back in the Sixties, that there is some level of brain activity happening right before a decision is made, and which is referred to in a very nice yet severe German term of bereitschaftspotential, or in English, the readiness potential, and which to some was translated to prove that there is no free will.
But since we know most scientific studies are wrong, that old study from the Sixties has been disproved and the “free will” debate rages on; hence the purpose of the heretofore referenced Atlantic article, and hence the triggering of this here post by yours truly.
Who cares whether or not free will can or cannot be proven, right?
When it comes to waking up every morning and your most important decision is whether or not to put on a clean pair of underwear before you head out for another day of mind-numbing labor in order to fuel your mind-numbing existence, who cares whether you do so because you choose to or because some greater force has chosen for you to do so…
Either way you’re gonna have to drag your hopefully cleanly underweared bottom out of bed and head on out to work or whatever it is you do during the day to fill and fuel your existence so it just doesn’t matter…
Well, maybe it doesn’t necessarily matter whether free will exists or not, but according to this Atlantic article, it does matter whether or not you believe it does exist.
According to the article, those who do believe in free will are better, more productive workers.
Makes sense, right?
I mean, if you believe that only you are responsible for your actions, then the actions that you choose to take and make should have more meaning to you than ones would if you believe you’re doing nothing more than behaving like a puppet on a string.
And it isn’t just the workplace that is impacted. People who believe that free will is an illusion are less creative, more prone to conform, less grateful…
It appears, at least according to this article, that if we as a society were suddenly to collectively believe that life is pre-determined, then we are pretty much doomed.
Now, since we already know most studies are wrong, there’s a good chance the studies this second article is based upon are also wrong, which would mean then that maybe our entire social structure doesn’t dependent upon whether or not we believe we’re living in the matrix…
But my gut says it does.
And it’s going to be harder for me now to ignore those glitches in the alien matrix computer simulation machine…
And to be the steadfast and self-assured Absurdist that I once used to be.
Or at least the Absurdist that the alien matrix computer simulation machine once led me to believe that I used to be…
Featured image courtesy of the SCIENCEMAG.ORG article “Philosophers and neuroscientists join forces to see whether science can solve the mystery of free will”
we fill the blank page
full of words with meaning
yet the blank means more
I’m not a philosopher despite the fact that it is my belief that everyone with a thinking brain, and especially those without, is one, whether it be as a witting one or not.
No, I’m not a Philosopher, despite my occasional philosophizing about philosophical stuff, in the same regard that I’m not a Poet, despite the fact that I occasionally write poetic-like stuff.
Philosophy as a studied discipline is way too confounding for my confounded brain.
However, practicing a philosophy as a means for navigating life comes as natural to me as the act of breathing or as the desire to include unnecessary descriptive and expounding words, especially those oh so delightful words of the adverbial persuasion, into as much of my writing as possible.
For instance, I have no idea how many times other than a lot that I’ve attempted to read and understand such profound Philosophers as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Heidegger and Sartre and Camus and, regardless how many times it’s been, without fail and after only a few pages I have to put their books down in angry frustration and embarrassment from my inability to read the words that they have carefully and thoughtfully written for me with any sustained comprehension. It is maddening to me that, while I can read and understand just about any individual sentence of theirs, when moving on to a succeeding sentence, of which I can also read and understand, I invariably lose comprehension of the sentence which had just preceded it and which only seconds before I had understood.
If hell is other people, then a deeper hell is other people other than the people I can understand…
Reading the work of real Philosophers, just like reading the poetry of real Poets, leaves me feeling inadequate and insignificant, just like I felt in high school during any class not related to Civics, English, or Shop.
Yet, despite the negative feelings the Philosophers’ writings leave me with, or, more likely, because of them, I have somehow managed through these feelings and through the course of my life to come to some level of understanding of the Philosophers and their writings.
Just as, when I drive my car I know not all the inner workings of the machine that allows it to move, or, when I click the keys on my keyboard, I know not all the math and electronics that enable the words to magically appear on my monitor, I know not why my life is, I only know that through my practice of it, it, powered by a mystical Absurdist and Existential philosophical elixir, is.
For, I know without knowing when I first knew or learned it, though I dare not declare it instinctual, that my life in its physical being certainly preceded my life in its essence or spiritual being.
And I know just the same that every choice I make can only but leave me with a sense of both knowable and unknowable angst from it, as well as from those choices I choose not to make.
And I again know just the same that while I [want to] believe that there is an Essence to Life, a Universal and Infinite Guiding Force, a God, so to speak, I, too, [truly] believe that it is absurd to believe that we can ever know with certainty the existence of such an Essence while alive and spinning helplessly within an infinitely indifferent and chaotic universe(s).
Such as it is, we will and must come, with or without a wit, want, or wont, to an understanding of our personal philosophy of life only through the act of living it.
One of the biggest and most influential aspects on my understanding of life, and of the development of my personal philosophy about it, is through the reading of Literature.
Just like Philosophy and Poetry, I read the stuff, not always or even usually understanding it, but ever always feeling it.
I feel bodily the expansive melancholy and spinning hopelessness that Kafka, by not allowing his protagonists the knowledge of the greater forces working against them or the ability to counter these forces (such is life), has magically suffused within The Trial and The Castle deep down to where, if their is one (and I [[truly] want to] believe there is), my essence resides.
And I feel just the same the nihilistic madness and absurdity of life Camus suffers upon his protagonists in his short novel The Stranger and short story “The Guest,” and of whom he only allows but a brief moment of sudden clarity upon their realization of life’s only one knowable truth: that it will end.
And I again feel just the same from many such similar great works of Literature that I have had the privilege and pleasure to read incomprehensibly.
It is these feelings accumulated within me that, over time, has brought me to my understanding of life and provides me with a philosophy of how I wish to live it.
Paradoxically, and absurd as it may seem, the literature that has taught me most how to live my life to its fullest and most pleasurable is that which has made me feel the most small and miserable.
By living an Absurd and Existential life, supplemented liberally by a literary verisimilitude of imagined misery, hopelessness, and suffering. I have developed a chosen philosophy that guides me happily down a path paved with angst-ridden choices going where I know not less its final destination.
I imagine many of you of a certain age were thinking perhaps a song more apropros for this post would be this fun, light-hearted one by Edi Brickell. However, I chose not to choose that one, not only because it would be the easier, non-substantive and least impacting choice to make, but mostly because the Blind Melon song leaves me philosophizing over the contrary and indelible feelings of melancholia and hopefulness it buries deep within me.