old ideas

parmenides was so stoned
that he survived ensuing centuries
in statue form. (image: wikimedia)
mr. arola asserted today that "the idea that history is getting better and moving forward has only existed since the enlightenment."

this highlights another of the major perspective rearrangements that have occurred to me recently: a realization that my patterns of thinking, my notions of correctness, and even my ideas of what constitutes a truth are drawn from and contiguous with historical movements of culture and philosophy.

this realization not only encompasses the substance of the things i think about but also their framing. "i think, therefore i am" just like descartes. but i learned today that i also conceive of that "am," that being, in a sense that is concerned with exclusivity.  i assume that something that is contains in its definition the qualities of being exclusively opposed to everything that isn't (correspondence theory).

lately i've been thinking about the vast and seemingly never-ending inventory of cultural arbitrations with which i have framed the world. here are a few that i've noticed so far:

  • positivism - wikipedia calls this the collection of "epistemological perspectives and philosophies of science which hold that the scientific method is the best approach to uncovering the processes by which both physical and human events occur." i keep hearing that its modern form was developed in the 19th century... does this mean that my way of conceiving of the world, something i thought inherent to all human beings is less than 300 years old?! perplexing.
  • capitalism - no, not just capitalism, but a fun little strain i like to call neocapitalism. this is the idea that community is best served, individuals are best protected, and resources are best managed by a sizable oligarchical governing body. until recently, i assumed that this notion was well believed by any sensible person. cultural precedents may have had a lot to do with that...
  • theism - the assertion that a personal god actively engages with the universe. "theism... conceives of [g]od as personal, present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe." (thank you wikipedia) while i am not against the idea of theism per se, i am in conflict with my old ideas about theism. i have previously naively assumed that everyone in their lifetime comes to a knowledge of something called "the sovereignty of God," and those that claimed that this notion is not the best description of the known and unknown universe were simply in denial.
so there are a couple of examples of how i can trace what i thought were the inherent facts of life and the obvious ways of thinking about it back to historical movements and specific schools of thought. i now have a harder time excusing a thought process or an action as "simply human," because there are and have been millions of smarter people who thought a lot differently. go figure...

smallish steps 
(tiny little miniscule footfalls toward living in a way that actually makes sense)

adventure coasters (c. 2011 ce)
#3 functional art.

the epic of the adventure coasters must not be lost to man! i will tell of an ancient house, a place of learning (and also a place of trying to learn while someone plays loud rap music in the next room). herein there were no coasters. the residents yearned for coasters as they yearned to write their parents and yearned to take out the trash. basically: they yearned a lot.

but at least three brave residents engineered a plan: they would build that everyone was always yearning for. and stuff. two of these residents broke out their shredded magazines and used stamps. they slew the monsters in their heads that told them they should be doing their homework. it was time.

they cut up some cardboard squares, and began to paste the snowboard magazine images of yesteryear on city maps, ticket stubs and old-school decorative envelope fragments. they worked into the night. "adventure is out there!" quoth one. it was pretty cool.

a tragic hipster works furiously (and tragically)
to engineer a cozy coffee coaster.
adventure coasters: they could happen to you.

smallish step #3! cook up some functional art
cost: paste($), lamination ($), and a little time : )
benefits: form, function, decoration and fun!


  1. Stuff like this is so hard on me. i feel like a zombie more and more each day, the more i learn. :/

  2. @rachel: learn from the literature, amiga: zombification is not an end-all. it's just a necessary intermediary step between "normalcy," and the blissful hedonistic realm of self-abandon that either gets you hit with a shovel or blasted with a shotgun.

    mroe than that, becoming a zombie won't solve anything. you could make the claim, for instance, that you 'only want to feast on human flesh.'however, such claims are nearly impossible to substantiate when you're only able to say "aerrghgr aaahh," and stuff.

    you might benefit by learning from those who have come before you, that semi-articulate zombie-dom is a-ok... mindlessly moaning won't get you anywhere unless you learn to moan things like "democratic process" and "God bless america."
    you must also get a permit for yourself, make sure not to perturb the other zombies (disturbing the peace is a serious charge, ya know).