Category Archives: philosophy

Dress For Success – Or Whatever

Morning comes. Or perhaps afternoon. The searing New Mexico sun announces that it’s time to drag my ass out of bed/off the couch/up from the bathroom floor, walk/stumble over to my closet/suitcase/laundry pile, and find something to where to class that will in some way distinguish me from all the other bums out on Central Avenue.

If I was lucky enough to fall asleep in my jeans, half the problem is solved outright (yay! denim karmas.) I have a fairly nice collection of t-shirts, most of which are reasonably inoffensive without labeling me as a square; the trick now is to match the size and tightness of the shirt with the jeans in question. Anything with a deodorant stain is tossed back, until time or scrubbing remove the marring whiteness. If I have a particular shirt in mind, such as my favorite Turisas concert tee, I may spare the energy to distinguish it from the aggregate mass of black, inside-out fabric, but my perpetual chillness may preclude such toil. A ponytail, one of four bandannas for a splash of color (or auxiliary blackness, contingently,) and a smile-inducing bout of coffee and Finnish metal where time allows, and I’m off on the commute to UNM.

The caffeine should be hitting by the time I enter class, and I’m starting to groove out on Kant or Heidegger (much more likely the latter – I have little stomach for realist apologetics.) The prof is probably fairly decently dressed, buttons or a collar, nothing too elaborate. Jesse’s looking clean-cut – that bastard always gets the ladies’ attention. The department greets me with a wealth of aesthetics: short hair and earrings, dreads and bandannas, ink and ponytails, nice jeans and a button shirt.

Occasionally, it dawns on me that I should make some effort to be “more professional” – no, that’s not it, there are at least three other dudes in here dressed straight outta hippie quarterly. I’ve shit-canned the wearing of jeans with holes in them in a classroom context; that should help. I guess I find myself coming off as – aggro? Grungy? Neo-cynicist – yes.

I don’t, as a rule, believe in extraneous social controls qua fashion. Still, I’m here on a fucking mission: I’ve got my warhammer, I’m doing my drills, I’m honing my philosophy for battle in the harsh academic jungle. Do I want to be the guy that comes in and whispers “yo dude…embrace the chill,” or do I want to turn some heads and drop some jaws? Is it possible to salvage this aesthetic with a layer of grey/black button shirts? Will the addition of a necklace successfully fool people into thinking I put effort into this ragtag ensemble?

Damn…I usually don’t put this much thought into these things; I’m starting to feel out of character. Image is power, illusion is power; so is centeredness, authenticity. I have come to join the UNM Lobos in prowling the forests of the academe. To run with the wolves – must I dress like a sheep?

Redpillneo is a contributing author for Project Group Think. Follow us on Twitter – we’re PGTblog.

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Please Die Already

Rage.

Rage.

There has been quite a hullabaloo recently about the healthcare reform bill, incited mainly by this man and this woman. Why are they ranting and raving about Democrats creating “death panels” that will decide whether or not the elderly† or mentally disabled‡ continue to receive medical treatment? Can’t they see that America is chock full of people ripe for Death’s annual picking?

The Democrats want people to have access to “end of life counseling.” That is a nice way of them saying “we want to encourage you to die without eating up millions of millions of dollars in care.” And the elderly and infirm DO eat up millions of dollars; 80% of the money you spend on healthcare will be spent during the last three months of your life. Is it really worth it? To spend hour after hour, barely breathing, barely thinking, hooked up to life support with a feeding tube in your gut?

Americans have become highly sensitive to the issue of death. I thought that the whole reason behind this mushy Christianity stuff was to make people comfortable with the idea of dying. “Oh, don’t worry, there’s always the afterlife! Feel free to pass away as you wish.” Nope. Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics are amongst the most adamant individuals who support your right to clutch on to your existence by any means; even if your body and mind have rotted away to nothing.

Actually, they’re not even supporting your right to life; they’d keep you alive regardless of how you feel.

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddman crochety old for the State to continue financing your life."

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddamn crotchety old for the State to continue financing your life."

What about my right to death? Listen to me: people need to die. People have been dying for millions and millions of years. Its natural. It happens all the time. The problem is that no one has instructed us on how to cope with and move past these tragic events.

Wait. Tragic? It shouldn’t be tragic; it should be joyful. The joyful passing of your loved one. We are so far removed from our natural state of being that we no longer value death… excluding the deaths of our enemies; that has always been joyous.

Lion King

Even Disney supports death panels.

Human bodies were not designed (intelligent or not) to last forever. Our cells stop regenerating as well, our joints become rigid and sore, our systems fail to save over and over again until it gets to a point that your body just dies. All of this extensive healthcare is in denial of the natural ‘Circle of Life‘. Certainly the deaths’ of those who did not live up to the prime peaks of life are tragic; they died too soon. But that only covers people up to about age 40; if you live past that point, I will be joyfully celebrating your passing with explicit glee.

So lighten up. Embrace death (the insurance companies have been running death panels for years now). Maybe even buy a t-shirt. It’ll balance the budget for Christ’s-sakes.

You don’t want to be alive for the zombie apocalypse anyway…

†‡Not that either of these groups really qualify as  being ‘that alive’ in the first place.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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What Is This Blogging?

If you’re reading this, you are probably at least vaguely familiar with the phenomenon known as blogging. I don’t think even we understand quite yet what it is, but it is certainly being done. There exists a universe such that it blogs – whoa.

As members of that blogging universe, we must ask ourselves – why does it blog, why do we blog, why do I blog?

Is it because, at the influence of mass-scale technological karma, we have isolated and alienated ourselves to the point of crying out to strangers? Or because, with the advanced specificity and range of data provided by Google and its ilk, we can simply reach out electronically to the universe and request like-minded companions? Is it to advance a cause, or to create beauty for its own sake?

Moreover-what the hell are our grandkids going to think of this blogging nonsense? Should the human race elect to continue reproducing, this phenomenon will prove an interesting sociological dig for some grad students’ theses in a half-century’s time.

Blogging is akin to jumping through microcosms. You see an article by someone you know – maybe relate to? – and you recognize it as the comfort of a familiar world. You click a new link, and you’re sifting through foreign territory, at the mercy of fate’s cruel whims and your browser’s back button.

There really are a myriad of factors at play here – looking at each of them is oddly analogous to the incomprehensible intricacy of our complex universe. Maybe that’s why we do it – for the moments of insight and bits of magic that we come across when we traverse the blog-o-sphere, whether borrowed or of our own discovery.

This blogging is what people are thinking. This blogging is who we are. This is blogging is one

*moment*

in history.

Why we do it? What is the voice of one hand clapping? Why does it matter – whoa. False dichotomy – shouldn’t we first establish that it matters all?

Freaky business, this blogging. A brand-new kind of art – not a novel, a play, or a symphony. Like a public library, filled with the private accounts of strangers. Strangers that are breathing, somewhere, right now. Most to all of whom will likely breathe tomorrow.

And if perchance they shouldn’t, what will they think of it in retrospect? A necesseray catharsis? Perhaps. A useful “product” in the ideational ecosystem of memes? Arguably. An ego-catalyzing impediment to Nirvana – whoa and a half!

Whatever they (we?,I?) might think…will that make any of this blogging less right or wrong to have blogged?

It doesn’t matter yet – right now, blogging IS.

Red Pill Neo is a contributing writer for Project Group Think. Follow us on Twitter; username PGTblog!

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Intellectual Property (A Fresher Perspective)

There are those who might refer to me as a geek. A writer of fantasy, I have eagerly consumed the works of Tolkien and Salvatore; often asking myself why I would start a new book when I could simply read the Silmarillion a third time. I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since the seventh grade (second edition, thank you very much), and once suggested to less socially adept friends that we crash an anime con to score with chicks (can you say “niche market?”). I even listen to metal albums about fantasy, such as Blind Guardian’s “Nightfall in Middle-Earth” and Kivimetsan Druidi’s “Shadowheart.”

Now that I have established my credibility in all things geekoid and alienated any female readers that may previously have swooned at my faux-poetics, I am compelled to relate a tale about the works of Terry Brooks. I first picked up “The Sword of Shannara” in high school, and enjoyed the novel for a little while. As the story progressed, however, it became abundantly clear the Mr. Brooks had ripped off Prof. Tolkien’s work in a staggering number of ways – I put down the book in disgust.

 Six or eight years later, I was advised by a friend to reconsider. I began the book a second time last night, taking the first few pages to re-learn how to read as a consumer and not a producer of fantasy. I do not know if I will finish the novel immediately, as there are a number of other fantasy titles competing for my attention, but I am considering reversing my earlier judgment if the rest of the book is as enjoyable as the first chapters have been.

The reason I bring this up is neither to wax poetic about the intricacies of fantasy, nor to apologize publicly to Mr. Brooks (who would never have known of my discontent prior to this writing.) Rather, I would like to address the implications of Brooks’ “infraction” as they relate to intellectual property and the ethics thereof.

In undergrad, a mythology professor explained to me the Greek interpretation of intellectual property rights: there were none. Shouldn’t this view gel more harmoniously with my own socialist tendencies? For fuck’s sake, the above-mentioned Dungeons and Dragons game impinges frequently and unapologetically on the work of Prof. Tolkien, yet I can barely constrain my fervor when a good second ed. campaign takes form!

Musical artists, too, are afflicted by such misconceptions. Did the Chili Peppers really “rip off” Tom Petty, as so many fans implied, or did they utilize a simple chord progression in a key that rock musicians, due to the structure and requirements of the genre, might frequently be inclined to play in?

Of course, as a writer I should probably careful here. I can only imagine logging onto the interwebs tomorrow, only to find snippets of my own poems re-crafted into shite-mongering emo sonnets on some jack-off’s myspace. Nonetheless, I believe the insights raised here are more than poignant, and that we should proceed into this still new-ish millennium with the good of the people in our minds and hearts. The alternative, of course, would allow a capitalist definition of “ownership” – a tricksie concept, on its best day – to impede the public welfare by compromising our aesthetic experiences and our composition thereof.

 

Red Pill Neo is a contributing writer for Project Group Think.  Follow us on Twitter (username: pgtblog.)

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The New Taste Of Tea

Whilst perusing the local CVS’s beverage selection, I was advised by a friend against the consumption of bottled water. It occurred to me, at that moment, that while I quite agreed with him I would still throw down my dollar fourteen with tax for a BOGO on iced tea. I would have my very own tasty drink experience, and another could be saved for later or given to a tea-less friend – and that for a cost that seems, even in harsh economies, nigh unto pittance.

Now, before you all run out to CVS and buy up all the iced ea, you should know two things. Number one is that CVS’s prices on certain contraceptives are double that of the gas station up the block, a poignant example of how capitalism can literally hold you by the balls. The other is that the tea in this bottle might seem cheap, but a dollar and a pan of water will fetch you a between ten and a hundred bags of tea, depending on the refinement of one’s palette.

This revelation made my purchase of the tea seem like lunacy. What could possibly be so expensive as to warrant such a mark up? I came to two conclusions.

First, the expensive glass bottle which chilled the tea seemed thick enough to raise expenses, but this only served to make things worse. By choosing to buy the tea at a store, not only am I paying through the nose, I’m wasting resources which will then be chucked back into a landfill, possibly in a developing country. Or your backyard. Or something else scary – people seem to believe things when they’re afraid. In any event, the materials for the bottle were a horrible excuse.

(I suppose one could argue this about shipping as well, but this follows the same reasoning while necessarily implying the consumption of fuel and the consequent worsening of air quality.)

The second thought that sprung to mind was that it may be for sugar or some such thing, and for most of us, that may do the trick. Unfortunately, I had been drinking sugarless tea for awhile in he interest of physical health – not only was the stuff costly, but it was overwhelmingly potent. I felt so ripped off, I thought about cutting the tea with water as the bottle drained, to extend its life and decrease its seeming toxicity.

I like the idea of brewing my own tea. It also seems natural that the modern go-getter should keep themselves perpetually armed, a ready bottle ever at their side for the filling should the need of drink assail them! They could even fill it with –

Water.

Good, clear, natural water. I’ve been drinking more of this, and the taste does become acquired. Shit, you could even carry a thermos of water and tea bags simultaneously, perhaps even with some mint plucked from a kitchen garden.

There is so much to my simple life that strikes discordantly against the cry of reason. In these thoughts I find wonder, inspiration, maybe even…

potential for change?

Redpillneo is a contributing writer for Project Group Think. Follow us on Twitter via the name PGTblog.

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Cute: A Conspiracy Theory?

I’m always interested in the presence of abstracts in reality. I touched on this with my question of good and bad in my last post, but I come back around to it this week. (Because midnight and the end of Monday looms? We shall never know).

The question turning over in my mind right now regards cuteness. What makes something “cute?”

This idea was put to me in, I kid you not, honors Philosophy 101 my first semester of college. Of course, the prof didn’t use such a useful object for consideration. Instead, he presented the question of abstracts by means of a table.

We all know what a table is. What it looks like. We can consciously picture one if we try. And we could all definitely spot one from a hundred yards and say, without doubt, that it is neither a chair, nor a flamingo, a slide, or a plate. It’s a table.

But what makes it a table? Is it what it is made of? Wood or other materials? (So are chairs and some plates.) Is it what it has? A flat surface and legs? (So does a chair and a slide.) Is it what it does? Something you eat off of? (Like a plate or a very confused flamingo.)

The point is that in reality, any of us could see an object and correctly identify if it was a table as opposed to, say, a pink, stupid-looking bird. This is because (and I think this is from Plato, but I’ll defer to my philosophy-buff fellow writers, who’re probably fully erect right now because I said philosophy and abstract in the same post) we each have an abstract idea of what a table is. Without having to picture a distinct table. We know what a table is. Unassailably.

Back to my question. Forget the stuffy table example. Forget Philosophy 101 (erections drooping, I know). Back to cute.

I’ll ask again. What makes something “cute?”

Let’s start with an unassailable, we-may-even-rightly-call-it-borderline-abstract example of cuteness:

baby tails

This is a picture of my dog, Tails, when he was a 3-month-old puppy. No one, and I mean no one could argue that he’s not cute. Look at him. (To put it in perspective, that orange toy, Mr. Binky, is about 4 inches tall.) He is A-dor-a-ble. And cute.

But this post isn’t about a gushing dog owner’s infatuation with his pooch. It’s about understanding the greater depths of thoughts. About pushing boundaries.

So, as I was sitting here, thinking about what to write, I looked at Tails and thought, “why is he so cute?”

Bear in mind, he’s now over a year old and looks like this (still pretty cute, I think).

older tailsSo, while I can admit that he’s not as cute now, my question remains. What makes something “cute?” We have an abstract sense of cuteness. We can judge cuteness in variable spectra (e.g. “Tails was cuter as a puppy, but still cute as an adult”).

But would I know cute if it walked up and smacked me in the face?

Can I see what cute is? What it does? How it’s used? What it looks like?

Cute, unlike the easy table example my philosophy prof used, is even more abstract. But no less important.

I offer this post as a chance to wake up to the abstracts that surround each of us. Recognize the cute things around you today. Or the beautiful things. Or the any-number-of-other-adjectives-things.

Abstracts, they’re all around you. And you didn’t even know it.

davidrsheehan is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog. You can also tweet directly with him: davidrsheehan. He is happy to provide more cute pictures of his silly dog Tails, if anyone would like to counter his statement that Tails is unassailably cute.

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Laura’s Mom Learns

Today I would like to share with you the life of Ruth Smith. Ruth was a coworker of mine—she worked in public relations for our program at Kent State University. A wonderful woman with a great sense of humor, Ruth often wrote for local papers. Often times her editorials detailed her experiences as the mother of a handicapped child.

Ruth was able to uplift and inspire many individuals for many years through her essays. These essays have been published in her book “Laura’s Mom Learns.” You can read several of Ruth’s essays through her website www.laurasmomlearns.com.

In addition to Ruth’s essays regarding motherhood, are blogs sharing Ruth’s battle with cancer. Sadly, Ruth Smith passed away on Thursday, June 25ruthsmithth, 2009 after a 6 month struggle. We all mourn the loss of this kindhearted, humorous, and talented individual.

I hope that in honor of her memory you will each take the time to visit her site and take a look at some of her blogs and essays. I have included an excerpt from one of her essays below to showcase Ruth’s beautiful writing, I hope you enjoy it.

“My first solo was also my first experience with stage fright. Years ago, because of an inspired performance for my small second grade class, I was chosen to sing in the annual school talent show. I had learned the song from a Mouseketeer record and I sang that song for anyone who would listen.

The day arrived. As I watched the acts preceding mine, I felt my first flutters of apprehension. I turned and looked at the people behind me and during those few minutes I became separated from the rest of the world. The faces, colors, and sounds around me blurred and I experienced the fearfulness of a person about to be condemned.

Mrs. Cross, my beloved teacher, tapped my shoulder and I followed her to the stage door. I walked in front of the drawn, velvet curtain into the brightness of the gym. I turned, faced the room, lifted my eyes, and saw the whole school in front of me. I felt my knees grow weak and warm tears behind my eyelids. The words and music of my song were out of reach.

Down on the floor Mrs. Cross made her way towards the stage. She leaned over the edge and smiled up at me. I lip read the message she was giving me: Sing to me, she said, sing your song for me.

In her kind face I found my song. Looking only at her I sang it, although the enthusiasm with which I had practiced was non-existent. When finished I hurried off stage into Mrs. Cross’s arms. As we made our way down the hallway, I stopped. The audience was applauding.

I listened and could not connect that applause to me – why are they clapping? I thought. I didn’t even sing to them. They were the enemies – I had faced them as in battle, and they had won. I joined my class on the floor, hung my head in shame and cried silently.”

Although your war against cancer was lost Ruth, you have won many battles for all of us. You will be sorely missed by all who knew you.

Ruth’s book is available for purchase via her website: www.laurasmomlearns.com

June 26th, 2009 at 9:17 am

It is with a heavy heart that I take this moment to convey my condolences on Ruth’s falling asleep with the Lord, on behalf of my family to all who were touched by Ruth’s life and especially to all of Ruth’s family. I know that she is in a better place and that she continues to love us all. It is we who are going to miss her laughter and voice and beautiful writing.

Love,
Diane and Family

June 28th, 2009 at 5:05 am

Larry and I offer our deepest sympathies to Ruth’s family and many loving friends. A beautiful voice has been silenced but Ruth’s legacy lives on through Laura and the lesson’s Ruth shared with the world in “Laura’s Mom Learns”. The outpouring of love and support we witnessed during her illness was a testament to her gifts as a mother, wife, friend, neighbor, co-worker and advocate for the disabled.

We will miss you more than words can say, Ruthie.

Love,
Beth

June 28th, 2009 at 6:22 am

David,Laura and the rest of Ruth’s family – my deepest sympathies to you in the loss your family has suffered. These last months have been a test no family should have to endure and you have done it with dignity, compassion, love and strength.

My copy of “Laura’s Mom Learns” is among my most treasured possessions for its beauty, its insight, and its honesty. Ruth’s lasting legacy is so wrapped up in its writing and, certainly, its motivation – Laura.

I am so very saddened by her loss.

love,
Lise Russell

eelliso1 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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