Tag Archives: philosophy

The Meta Conversation

Boston Creme

Or what we talk about when we talk about talking. [hat tip to Raymond Carver]

Some people dislike “small talk,” the meaningless howareyas, haveaniceweeekends, coldenoughforyas watercooler type of chitchat. I never minded it. To me, it’s part of the please and thank you polite currency that smoothes over the transactions of our workplace relationships. Are we merely pretending to care about each other? Maybe. Maybe not. Do we always care that deeply about the answers to all the questions we pose to our friends and family, or is some of that merely filler as well? I don’t even mind when strangers ~ cashiers, waiters, neighbors ~ say this stuff to me. So what?

Why is filler conversation bad? Filler can be delicious, like the custard in a donut (mmm donuts). I’m part of a group where the leaders ask many “meaningless” questions, some of which I skip over, and some of which I reply to. I read other people’s answers when I have time, and often they’re interesting ~ first jobs, favorite writers, hobbies ~ and occasionally one of those poasts inspires me to write a longer piece myself, such as this one, or even a pome later on. Some of the group questions aren’t filler, but too personal to answer and I ponder them silently. I admire the brave folks who do reply. If I can think of a joke or a response that isn’t too revealing, I’ll put that. It may appear as though I’m an open book, but perhaps that’s just sleight of hand. You’ll never know, will you?

I’ve told you everything you know about me, but I haven’t told you everything I know. [hat tip to General Boris Alexandroff ~ yabbut rando site says so]

Most convo though is like shadows on the cave wall. We create definitions of words so we can communicate (table, cat, apple), but the whole endeavor quickly gets so tricky (love, loyalty, patriotism) that we assume a shaky base of mutual understanding in order to proceed, and often our assumptions turn out to be false. Oh, that’s not what I meant by love. Hah, fooled you! Or people can say that’s not what they meant even if they did mean it, and this becomes a totally legit way of squirming out of something because we all know conversation is just like this, even when it isn’t.

How conveeenient!

Now we make a new friend, bonding over shared heartbreak. Two people who’ve been burned by others deliberately (or so it seems) misunderstanding definitions miserably commiserate. Isn’t that nice? But wait…

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Conversation

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Fuzzy Atheism

Prism

Ten years ago today I wrote a woo poast in my secret blog, the one I was keeping while my mom died of cancer. I’ve never been a super duper militant atheist like some, maybe because I wasn’t rebelling against anything at home. I simply didn’t  believe, that’s all. My nonbelief was never a huge deal to me, or to my parents, though I realized early on it was shocking to others, especially when we moved to the midwest in the 1970s. So, I mostly kept quiet about it. Back then, you didn’t blast your personal beliefs all over town as you do now. No Facebook, blogs, instagram, Twitter, etc.

There have been many times my lack of belief gets fuzzy. I want to believe, like other people do. It seems to be so comforting. Why shouldn’t there be more? A greater thing, a purpose. Why do connections have to end with death? Why can’t we be with our loved ones again in some way? That all sounds good. Sometimes it sounds too good, especially when I’m sad, and I start to imagine it could possibly, maybe, be true, somehow. Well, why not?

Ten years ago today I wrote that my ex-husband and I had worked everything out and were getting along better than ever. I called him my “soul mate” in that blog poast. But we split up about a year and a half later. I also wrote about the hallucination I had of an angel when I was sick with a very high fever in 1996. And finally I wrote of an earlier time when I was depressed and asked for a sign that things would improve, closed my eyes, and opened them to see rainbows in the room. They were prisms from the sunlight hitting my glass animals at certain angles.

Maybe I was trying to cobble together bits of evidence for some sort of belief-cake, idk. I’d have to read more entries ~ and it’s possible I dropped the topic altogether. I’m not re-reading every entry of the death diary now, not that there are so many. I may at some point, or not; they aren’t going anywhere. I’m busy lately with various projects and have finally stopped forcing myself to do things in my free time that make me unhappy. Happiness is a choice, as “they” always tell us.

I do enjoy keeping up this blog, though lately rather sporadically. Thank you for reading!

Twice Upon a Yesterday

Red umbrella

[Warning: this poast will contain extreme spoilers for the above 1998 movie, aka The Man with Rain in His Shoes and If Only, depending on the country.]

When I noticed that Prime was showing Twice Upon a Yesterday starring Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, I decided to watch it even though the storyline didn’t appeal to me that much. I generally don’t go for rom-coms with science fiction elements, but ever since I finished my GOT binge this summer and have been waiting for S8 like everyone else, I’ve been missing Queen Cersei. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Lena.

TUAY has an interesting take on the concept of do-overs with certain things amenable to change, while others seem inevitable, even if they are reached via an alternate path. Of course, we are not treated to every possible universe in TUAY, only two, and teased with a third at the end. In U1, Victor cheats on Sylvia, confesses, and she dumps him. He tries to win her back before she marries someone else, telling her what an idiot he was, how much he loves her, etc., but he fails at this and ends up in a bar where he’s given a red umbrella. The umbrella is apparently a key to unlock time travel. Victor next encounters two dustmen who give him the chance to do-over his confession, which he does, lying about his affair instead.

In U2, Sylvia is happy because she doesn’t know Victor cheated on her. Victor hurts the woman with whom he cheated on Sylvia by coldly dumping her, but that’s fine ~ we’re supposed to be rooting for the Victor/Sylvia romance. Victor is happy once she’s gone and all is well. Except… Sylvia ends up meeting her lost fiance from U1 anyway. They still fall for each other. Would this happen in every universe? Well, we don’t know. So far, we have two for two. Now, Sylvia cheats on Victor while he remains faithful. Sylvia leaves Victor and they both end up with new loves, but Sylvia’s doesn’t work out and she wants Victor back. She goes a bit insane too.

The movie ends with Sylvia coming into possession of the red umbrella and getting her chance at a do-over. At which point will this one begin? How will things work out in U3 now that Victor seems very much in love with the bookstore girl?

Normally I wouldn’t have enjoyed such a goofy movie, but something really held my attention here and it wasn’t just Lena’s fine acting. Everyone is fab in this film, and the fantastical plot is somehow more intriguing than it seems at first glance. I guess we’ve all indulged in these what-if scenarios, haven’t we? What if I could go back in time and do something over? Where would I start? What would I change?

It’s a fun and hopefully harmless waste of time, ultimately pointless, like fantasizing how to spend our lottery winnings.

Faint

Universe

Sometimes I hear faint echoes of lives I might have lived, not when summoned, because those are more properly classified as fantasies, but unbidden. Occasionally they’re catalyzed by conversations or actions I observe from others, interactions among couples, or when I run across a career that seems interesting. I could have done anything, but I didn’t. There’s still time, but not much, and I sense the end of it. Numbers have always seemed real not abstract to me and I see my own fading in the near distance. When my time ends, all time ends: the solipsistic universe of me.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Faint

Brave

Coyote

I’ve never been brave. I don’t like risk, unless the odds are greatly in my favor, or the loss won’t mean much. Why is bravery supposedly a virtue, I wonder? Seems like something concocted by the powerful to get pawns to die for them. The animal kingdom shows us that even predators weigh the odds and try to minimize harm to themselves. Coyotes prefer rodents and rabbits to your retriever. Evolution favors those who seek safety in the familiar, not the intrepid who venture alone into the wilderness. Except when civilization has become corrupted with disease. Are we there yet?

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Brave

On Being Wrong

I recently experienced a revelation: the relief of being wrong.

How so, you ask?

Sometimes it’s a burden to continually reestablish a position I’ve staked out. I like to believe I’m a unique snowflake (no, not *that* kind of snowflake) and come up with my very own unique ideas. Naturally I will have supporting arguments, however oddball. Since I present my case logically, I will get supporters; or perhaps peeps were already inclined to agree. In any case, as time passes, doubt creeps in… what if the majority had it right all along? Oh drat. Boring!

At that point, holding on to my position becomes stressful, since it becomes a game of cognitive dissonance. I’m telling myself I’m right because I’ve invested in the idea; yet my current data is coming in opposite to that, which I must ignore. Suddenly, boom! I decide not to ignore the new data and abandon the position instead.

What follows? Relief! A feeling of peacefulness.

Nope, it doesn’t matter what the idea was, though you are free to guess. You’ll probably be wrong however. 🙂

(This in no way concedes that all my weird ideas are wrong, just one. Or possibly two.)

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Revelation

The Abyssinian

Watching Tasha watching me:
Her ears scoop up every sound
Like twin satellite dishes.
Whiskers twich, and she waits
On the knife-edge of sensation.
Round eyes glow
Like topaz stones;
I suspect she knows
The secrets of the universe.

But I don’t think Tasha ponders
Modern problems
Or ancient philosophy.
She breathes cat-perfect morality:
Instincts equal ethics.
Body and soul are one;
Judgments dance in flawless rhythm.
She knows how high she can jump,
And which window gets the strongest sun.

[originally written 12/07/1988]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Instinct

Devilish Fun

Devil 2015

Last Halloween a bunch of friends and I went to a murder mystery dinner and it was SUPER FUN! I came up with my own costume idea, from a song, and if you don’t get it you’re too young, so pffft. Unfortunately you can’t see my shoes in this pic, but trust me they are awesome… red glittery things, sort of like what Dorothy might have worn in Oz. I created my crazy Christmas elf costume around them too. Even though I have no plans yet, I want to design my own Halloween costume again this year, not buy one pre-made (boring!), and I might brainstorm ideas with peeps next week at a crafts meetup because my motto is…

It’s Never Too Soon To Start Thinking About Halloween!

~*~

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Fun!

No Name Kitty

There was a kitty who lived in our parking lot. A nice neighbor, Christine, provided food, water, and shelter for him. He had a cozy bed and a covered bed too. I kept a bag of treats in my car and gave him a handful a few times a week. Sometimes he disappeared for a few days, but just when I thought he was gone for good, the next morning I’d see him snoozing under a car as I left for work.

He wasn’t a pretty cat ~ small and sturdy, black and white, but mostly dirty. I often said, “Hi kitty, you need a baff!” He wasn’t amused, nor did he ever come close enough to be touched. And he didn’t meow; I’ve read that ferals don’t. Meowing is something that tame cats learn to do to get attention from people. (Gatsby is a champion meower.) But he did know me and would stare at me sometimes as if to say, ahem, you haven’t given me any treats in a few days… whassup with that?

Last night there was a note on the main door: Christine had called animal control that morning to have the kitty put down. He had been attacked by a raccoon in the night and was severely injured. She asked us to please close the trash bin lids to discourage the raccoons from coming around since other cats prowl around the back of our apartment complex. I didn’t even know we had raccoons! Sometimes I hear horrid shrieky noises in the middle of the night, but I just assume that’s people having sex.

Poor kitty. I cried for him. I imagined him trying to defend the parking lot from a herd of vicious raccoons. They’re so huge and nasty! What was he even thinking? He should have just stayed under a car. And now I’m worried about the 2-3 little black cats back there ~ how could they possibly deal with raccoons? I hope they have sense enough to run away. I also know that people are simply not going to close the trash bin lids when they get full. That’s just how people are. We probably need another bin anyway, since the two we have get overstuffed.

I don’t know how old no name kitty was or what kind of life he had overall. But for the 3+ years I’ve lived here, I suppose he’s had it pretty good for an outside cat, until now. The lifespan for an outside cat is only 4 years. Nature is cruel and savage, always has been. Cats, eagles, snakes, raccoons… I’ve seen/read a lot about nature last few days. Can’t get these images out of my head now. Only the thinnest of walls separates us from savagery at any moment.

Thank you for patrolling our parking lot, no name kitty. RIP. ^..^

Rainbow

 

Story of My Life

This essay by Galen Strawson grabs me for a few reasons. One, the cover pic is a Paul Klee face, which I always confuse with a Picasso face, and my mom had a print of it for years. Not in her last house though ~ so I have to wonder what happened to it. Not that I would have wanted it, but when I see the Klee face, mom-memories rush in.

Two, Strawson starts off by quoting awesome philosophers, like Velleman, a moral relativist. Strawson shows how many rigorous thinkers believe we write our lives into a story and become a character in our narrative. He says there’s a wide consensus that we create our life-story, living it while writing it.

But then he calls bullshit on that idea. He agrees that there are Narrativists among us [looking at my blogfans] but asserts that this state of being is far from universal. Strawson claims that many of us are fundamentally non-Narrative ~ our lives are a disordered pile of fragments that cannot be put into a coherent storyline.

He presents it as a dichotomy, but while reading the various quotes I couldn’t help but think… could a person be both? Maybe I’m a Narrativist and my story, such as it is, is composed of a jumbled mess that doesn’t actually hang together in a structured arc, but even so it is a story and I’m writing it while becoming it. I don’t see why that couldn’t be a third possibility.

And to go along with that, what about a sub-possibility that I’m an unreliable narrator of my life-story? That strikes me as not only cool, but very true for me personally. This may seem initially the same as being a non-Narrativist, but it isn’t at all. I’m absolutely writing the story and continually becoming the protag, shedding skin after skin to be more me, yet there isn’t really a me because some of the jumbled fragments I chose to include are false.

When I hold up a fragment to the light, I often wonder if it will mirror what I have been assuming. I think I know things. I must know what happened in my own life, at least some of the time. RIGHT? Yes, of course. Of course some pieces are 100% correct. But perhaps not that many, or there is no way of ascertaining. If I think about that, the story begins to fall apart. Sometimes it shapes itself into a different story, which necessarily changes the composition and direction of the protagonist.

It’s probably best not to think about this at all, now that I think about it. If I look into the me-abyss, idk what I’ll find, or if it’ll be different tomorrow. It should be the same every time, dammit. But it’s not. There’s no there there.

Interesting that I find this essay when I’m talking about not writing and also that my romance writing adventure had to do with my own failed attempt to write my own romance and make myself into a more idealized heroine. When I stopped writing my real story, I lost interest in writing the fictional ones as well. Now I play with fragments and put them into pomes, rather than try to make any sort of coherent plotline.

My story’s a poem
Sometimes it may rhyme
Or else it just roams
It’s a jumble of fragments
And does not have an arc
It stumbles and bruises
Itself in the dark
Some pieces are real
Some pieces are lies
I know not which is which
And my eyes have grown tired
Goodnight