we want meaning!

georg lukács, though often orange and pixelated,
had some great things to say about perception.
"there is a nostalgia of the soul where the longing for home is so violent that the soul must, with blind impetuousness, take the first path that seems to lead there." - georg lukács

i've heard it said that the mind is a "connecting organ," the entity which allows us to makes sense of the world, to perceive things as meaningful and inter-related, whether they are or not.

this is obviously of biological utility.

but the 19th century scottish philosopher david hume made the claim that we are not suited for considering the metaphysical, emphasizing the distinctions between "lively perceptions" and our (inherently at least intermittently wayward) internal reflections on those perceptions.

is this true?

have we, in the search for what the self deems as necessary meaning, overstepped our bounds? have we strayed from the path of mentally "connecting" as a biological necessity and stumbled into the dense and foggy woods of the metaphysical without good cause?

there is virtually no question in my mind as to whether or not there is a transcendent God, a transcendent reality. but i only know this experientially, and have no tangible proof or logical processes to this effect. we can compare experiences, yes. but is there a logical conversation we can have about the transcendent? or is hume right?

so far, the only thing that i can appeal to is human need. perhaps the human need and desire for love indicates something about the nature of reality.

and this is where i need some help. i need to hear some perspectives on the subject:

- what is love?
- what is the nature of human desire for love?

i really want to explore and write about this more. any thoughts? you can send them in an email to joeldevyldere(at)msn.com or leave them as a comment below. let's keep this conversation going.

as ever,




utilitarian poetry ftw (edited in gimp).
it's one of those bar scenes with the cosmic noise removal on. the interior scenery is conspicuously empty, background sounds are reduced to a carefully crafted whisper and the lighting is diminished so that all the soft-glowy emphasis is on the bar-tender and the strange man she's serving. they are cutting the small-talk before he kisses her, when she says the strangest thing: "it makes me think that all we really are is our memories."

for anyone wondering, this is a scene from sebastian gutierrez's girl walks into a bar, which was just recently released on youtube (go platform innovation!). the film is an artistic triumph, though it may be largely unimportant in a philosophical sense. nevertheless, it contained the line that inspired me start to examine the role of memory in consciousness and perception.

consciousness, in a modern sense, might simply be awareness of the self. so, in a sense, this girl is right - if we consider the "self" a series of interconnections of subjectively accumulated data, then we are entirely dependent on the brain's capacity and ability to store that information over time (memory) in order to reach and maintain a self-deterministic existence. translation: if we are the center of our own universe, then all we are and have depends on our memories.

from this standpoint, it seems to me like the existence of memory loss is one of the biggest weak points in the case for a utilitarian reliance on subjectively derived reality. if through mental malfunction we can't remember previously processed facts, events or even identities, then our subjective reality narrows as our mind deteriorates.

if we choose to make reality ultimately subjective, then we become masters of the reality we know. and yet, in the case of our mental deterioration or obstruction, any cognitively capable person (including our past self) has the right to claim that we don't grasp enough to live at an optimum level for us. we thus become incapable of realizing our full subjective reality, while we present ourselves with an inferior picture of reality - the reality experienced by the deteriorating self.

with this in mind, we can now no longer say that we are progressively experiencing the enlightenment of the self. more than that, we can no longer claim a static understanding - we are moving backward. this is troubling because a largely biological process (the distortion of the mind over time) becomes a factor that determines who we are and how we see the world against our will. thus, we have not only surrendered control to all possible external worlds (the a posteriori), but also had the essence of who we are wrested from our grasp by natural occurrences (like disease, aging, etc.)

i guess when you come down to it, this is only one of the many possible examples that could demonstrate that subjectivity only functions as an insecure and ultimately egotistical grasp for control. is modern society really composed of individuals who have never considered this claim?

this is not an argument for arbitrary objectivity. this is the long-form for a hauntingly persistent question on my mind:

what is real?

as ever,



philosophy of cigarettes

picture by andrew hippie
on smoking
people want to know why i smoke cigarettes. when faced with that question i seldom ever answer it seriously. there is too much to say, too much that most people wouldn't seriously consider that would have to go into an explication of the issue. however, in this post i'm going to suspend that trend and  give a few thoughts on the issue.

first, let's look at about societal perception of addiction. it is commonly thought that social consensus is a somewhat accurate division of the less harmful addictions from the more harmful ones. using this logic, we can see why addiction to heroin is a deal-breaker in many friendships while facebook addiction is a laughing matter.

however, this distinction is essentially a false dichotomy. society's fascination with partially hydrogenated oil and high-fructose corn syrup (think taco bell and rockstar energy drinks) is no less harmful than its flirting interactions with tobacco. are unprecedented epidemic-level outbreaks of obesity and diabetes negligible? are their causes laughable?

we are similarly engaged in a full-scale cultural addiction to transport by means of fossil fuel consumption. how many people that you know would still be alive if there were no car accidents? and what, in a land where we can grow our food locally and participate  is the motivation for owning and operating cars in the first place? is it convenience, a large-scale fumbling for an elusive sense of control?

'these years of buy and sell'
it may be that health standards and mortality rates are not the final criteria for the social acceptance of a practice, but the separations between "good" and "bad" addictions are by no means arbitrary. they are determined by  societal consent, and in a neocapitalist society consent is bought and sold in both on an  individual basis (direct advertising) and on a large-scale collective level (deals worked out by legislators and lobbyists).

government propaganda campaigns invoke "big tobacco," but i haven't heard anything about "big fast food," or "big caffeine."  as a result, consent is being produced, assembled and shipped with unprecedented freedom. the difference between a "good" addiction and a "bad" one might just be a few hundred thousand dollars.

what is happening here? what have we created? a universe of perceived ideals fueled and impassioned by perceived needs. large-scale addiction.

the western man needs to drive and drive fast in a car he often can't afford to prove that he is a sexually attractive entity. the western woman needs clothes with a brand on them from far, far away to prove that she can be attractive too.

why addiction (in the first place)?
essentially, we have all at least partially subscribed to the subjective worldview. we all know, deep down, that the one thing that is truly meaningful is our intangible and inexpressible self; we know that we can never quite say what we mean or convey what and who we are in the depths of our souls.

experientially, we are confounded by the realization that the force contained in our self is not a sufficient means by which to live. there are, in fact, other selves (and, arguably, a semi-static physical world) to deal with! the subjective self takes over from there and asserts needs; we crave a manifest denial of our insecurity, a tangible affirmation of our illusion that we are really in control, and these physical assertions of ego often very quickly become addictions.

this explanation also shows why addictions aren't as evidently prevalent in some religious groups. many of these groups at least nominally reject the idea that subjective truth is the most precious, substituting other methods of deriving truth (for fundamentalist christians, higher truth comes at least partially from a literal interpretation of the biblical narratives).

i've come to look at addiction as symptomatic of a widely-held cultural subjectivity and the resulting subconscious assertion of personal needs as a mission that will hold that subjectivity intact as source of higher truth by which to live. from an inter-subjective or transcendental absolutist viewpoint, all addiction is simply an arbitrary advancement of the self as the most important thing in the universe.

addiction is both a grasp for that sense of control and an expression of the futility of that grasp. so as long as we remain complicitly certain that real truth comes from within, we will remain in self-perpetuated cycles of progressively more damaging "self affirmations." but honestly, what else is there?

as ever,



happy salmon!

photo: 619 sports
dear world:

what a day for strategically occupying a universe! and i have converged on the infinite, comprehending eternity and stuff. let's recap:

1. problem solved! shrodinger's cat is, was and shall ever be a zombie (both dead and alive).

2. by leading horses to water, i often tip a delicate balance on their free-will/ determinism continuum causing them to at least take a sip.

3. i bought an island where trees fall in the forest and no one knows hears them.

4. jesus christ is now more popular than ever. efforts were re-doubled to make 'ghandi' and 'mohamed' curse-words too, but culture remained largely arbitrary.

5. carp(eh) diem is some sort of springtime that the fish are celebrating in canada (see photo).
"sieze the day!" exclaimed
untold numbers of these literarily
inclined fish. (photo: sanbeiji)

in other news: noam chomsky is coming to uo.

photo: andrew rusk
last week, i stumbled on a video interview of linguistic theorist noam chomsky on @google. i was very impressed by some of his critiques of the u.s. imperial mindset and explanations of linguistic theory. i thought he raised some significant questions about the nature of american foreign policy and the popular conceptions that steer its course.

though he has a history of theorizing some very radical and avant garde material, when speaking mr. chomsky comes across rather calm for an 82-year-old political activist, anarchy theorist and m.i.t. professor. his speaking style is even-keel and his material is fascinating.

tomorrow (wed. april 20th) at 7:00 pm
university of oregon, columbia 150 (
campus map)
admission: free


to clear up any confusion

- the universe does not revolve around you (or me).

- no one can prove that.

whistling through the cellphone

oh, eugene!
you're so supreme
(and super green)
you rhyme with beans.

eugene (above) shares a mystical
and profoundly 'traditional'
connection with this can
of refried pinto goodness.


coke, pepsi and the libyan revolution

"the president does not have the power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual imminent threat to the nation." - senator barack obama, december 20, 2007

a sudden change of pace?
among the greatest disappointments in the american political landscape is the failure of liberal policy to be... well, liberal.  two wars continue, while the u.s. effectively enters a third in libya, trillions are handed out to enormous corporations, and now the president has called for more domestic drilling. it might seem to the casual observer that obama and co. have played the same game that bush and co. played, just with better media coverage.

are they? policing the world militarily and supporting greedy corporations at the expense of tax-payers were two of the major accusations leveled against the previous administration. however, this time there aren't just questionable tax cuts to complain about but actual large-scale bail-outs. and this war can't by almost any stretch be related back to a matter of national security. as the nation is finding out the hard way, 'change' is a very vague word.

soft drinks, hard politics

one of the most compelling examples of pervasive materialism is the coke-pepsi dilemma. consumers have for decades on end been presented with the choice between coke, which some say is a little fizzier and pepsi, rumored to be a bit sweeter. coke has a contract with mcdonald's, while pepsi has dibs on most small restaurants and small concession stands. there are competing billboards, blind flavor tests and copy-cat super bowl ads. the competition is intense.

but is the coke-pepsi competition really a scam? how much do these companies really resent each other. they've convinced everyone to take sides, from the fast food execs right down to the 10-year-old at the 7-11 counter. entire states have their preference (soda is commonly called "coke" in most of texas).

but no one stops and thinks what am i drinking? has the 'secret ingredient' controversy between the two firms really succeeded at distracting everyone form the fact that both drinks are essentially carbonated corn syrup?

coca cola bottling and pepsi could really appreciate each other - each without the other loses the competitive edge - not over each other, but over other possible alternatives. they owe to each other the existence of the competition, the existence of the market.

above: synthetically contrived controversies.
and that's how it is in two-party politics. republicans and democrats can thank each other for the controversy they lend each other; the contrast establishes validity for a ruling class of abominably rich men from politically influential families who gain law degrees and lobby handouts and step gingerly into public office. no one who is asking whether or not the political system is legitimate can be heard over the cries of unexamined loyalty.

"vote republican" may as well be equated with "drink coca cola" or "go team." but you can't do any better on the democratic/pepsi side. they're exactly the same.

coke and pepsi in libya
and that brings us back to obama. sure, he can promise unique flavor and a crisp, refreshing aftertaste, but when you come down to it, his actions will not differ from those of bush or clinton in any significant way when it comes to war. the u.s. has for decades acted almost solely in its economic interest.

obama is doing exactly what he criticized george bush for - he is taking actions that he has already declared are not in his constitutional power to take. but can we blame him? millions of people are cheering for him and as a symbol, as a rockstar. "go blue!" they scream as we enter yet another war.

still unconvinced?
huffington post pieced together this wonderful little montage of obama's speech on libya and bush's speech on iraq. exact. same. shit. i know, right?


politician is a noble human being?

can politicians act out of personal decency?
new york times columnist david brooks declared his support for the obama administration's libya plan last week, citing president obama's nobility as a motivating factor. obama, he said, was convicted "that the U.S. cannot sit by and watch tens of thousands of people get massacred when it has the means to prevent it." (article)

yes. it. can. but not in any nation strategic to its neo-imperial interests. we haven't interfered in north korea, where a entire population is enslaved to the state, impoverished to the point of starvation, and systematically brainwashed to the advantage of a megalomaniacal fascist dictator. we had no troops on the ground in sudan, where genocidal conflicts raged for years. we took no actions against mubarak's "democracy" in egypt.

no, the government of the united states has no interest inactions like supporting revolutions or distributing humanitarian aid that do not support its financial interests. north korean leadership would retaliate against any u.s.-led attacks, destabilizing the entire region. sudanese rebels would have fragmented the country and disrupted the oil trade. egyptian president and dictator hosni mubarak was one of the u.s.'s greatest allies in the region, and received massive amount of foreign aid from the u.s.

many people may be shocked by such statements, claiming as that the a country like the u.s., with so much military sophistication and so much international sway has the right and obligation to defend the libyan civilian population. many, no doubt many readers of david brooks column, now think the president obama is taking military action in libya out of the goodness of his heart.

but obama is a politician. he has almost inconceivably large incentives to act in the financial interest of the nation. however, as a politician, president obama has little if any incentive to act as a decent and compassion human being. whatever decisions he makes are pressured by hundreds of different financial interests; and almost all of them want want the us economy to recover and thrive so that they can make more money (some notable exceptions are large banks and auto-makers, who would rather just take money from the government directly).

the president's job is to balance out everyone's interests and find a solution that makes everyone more money. his main occupational hazard is that he will never have moral hazard: do what's best for $veryone, and the country will succ$$d.

so in light of all this, can obama act as a decent human being? he's the president of the united states, so i submit that he cannot.