March 27, 2002

quasi-reflective jargon

A grisly fog is descending on campus. I watched as it tumbled down the mountainside and filled the dales and valleys with its muting fervor. I’m tempted to sit here in my 2nd floor watchtower and wait for the attack.

But then I realized I have class in a few short minutes; time that should be occupied with cramming some filthy Cocoa Wheats down my hole or something. I realized I see no dales and valleys… just a parking lot. A glorious parking lot that is slowly filling up with the necessary commuting culture of UMD. It’s a drainage ditch, a gutter. The automobile waste from years of yore collect within, and as evening falls it disperses back into the rich soil. Repeat for tomorrow. Repeat to infinite.

If on my walk I should fall into a large crater where the campus used to be, I will shed not a tear. I will pull myself up the muddy radioactive slopes, find some comrades, take to the Green Dragon and head back to Utah.

Ryan Hankins discovered the drafting table in the Wooch! Lounge. Hmm… how long have we had a drafting table? He started drawing a few caricatures, and after a few trial runs we decided to go professional out in Kirby Plaza. We got a few customers (Get yer caricatures drawn! Only takes a few seconds, it’s free and mostly painless!), and though most of them were Woochers we managed to sucker in a few other people to pose for our scrawling. While Ryan stuck with doing triangle jack-o’-lantern interpretations, my drawings faintly resembled the victims. We got bored after 15 minutes and moved the table back to the Lounge.

I’ve become very disenchanted with philosophy class. It used to be fun entertaining big questions with no answers. Philosophy was a challenging mental activity, and for a long time I was fascinated with its immense scope. Since my original encounter with philosophy our relationship has degraded into gritty answers that leave me unsatisfied.

The latest example is Heidegger’s Being and Time, which is an abstract mishmash attempting to define terms that (as far as my convictions go) cannot be defined. I lost interest after Hume, when I latched onto his abhorrence of abstract ideas. If it is not grounded in perceived reality, cast it into the flames, said Hume in so many four-letter words.

Heidegger apparently didn’t listen, and proceeds to define being… what we mean when we say something ‘is’, what it means for us to ‘be’, the pervasive spirit of human life, et cetera. He places it all in time, a necessary component through which we experience this being. It’s a cute exercise, yes, and I commend Heidegger for attempting such a huge bite of baguette. Why, I might even be interested in his words if my brain didn’t feel like its scabbing over in the process.

It’s just that… there’s no content in there. It’s all word-mongering, a playful romp through Intellectual-Land while reality sits in the backseat making out with your ‘tit fille. So what did you do today? Oh, I came up with a definition of being… yourself? Oh, I fucked your girlfriend. The usual.

[note to self: due to strong language, change Cromlech to an 18+ show]

Descartes ran the whole damn thing backwards. He had a mental breakdown in his early 20’s because he had no solid proof that reality existed. He patched it up with a deft, rational argument that not only proved the existence of himself (cogito ergo sum, baby), but proved God and the external world as well. For Descartes, everything was now wrapped into a tight little package… and he only wasted his life to do it.

If the guy had any sense at all, the breakdown would have come after his theory, when he realized all his work amounted to nothing. All Descartes would need is one tiny trip in logic (if man’s concept of God had not been planted by God himself, for example) and his entire theory would be blown.

And now I need to go to jazz and finish this thought later. College would be awesome if it didn’t keep getting in the way of my brain. The way it stands, I can’t fucking do anything.

Later: And I’ve forgotten all of the points I was going to make. Feel free to stop reading now, as the rest of these words are going to be forced, meaningless trash.

Later: So, Descartes proved the world. Big farkin’ deal. Hume said that there are two parts to a person’s mind. There’s the part that functions in reality, buys groceries and eats soup, and there’s the part that questions reality, sits within itself and unravels the mysteries of existence. For all the words he wrote on philosophy, Hume remained convinced that questioning reality hardly affects how we deal with reality. I can doubt the existence of my soup, I could convince myself it’s actually a barking snake, but for all practical purposes it is still soup. If I give it to another person they will think it’s soup, if I eat it it will react with my body like soup.

And so it goes when you feel you’ve reached the dead end of your philosophical career. You look back and realize that your brain got some splendid exercise wrapping itself around huge existential issues, and your capacity for reason is greatly expanded… but your life is just as meager and pathetic as before. You feel more clever, but you find you have fewer reasons than ever to be clever.

Such is are the pitfalls of philosophy that Neitzche observed. Nothing but a huge game of King of the Hill, going on since Plato and Aristotle reared their ugly heads. We have seen every permutation of You’re wrong! No, you’re wrong! and we are no closer to agreeing on a construct of reality. But then, how important is it that we prove reality, that we prove being or time? The twisted path of philosophy has meandered away from my desires and I’m forced to bushwhack it alone. Being and Time does not tell me how to approach that cute li’l number at the emo concert. Descartes’ Meditations do not explain how to balance my passions with school, nor where to direct my maelstrom of creative energies for the most profound impact. Hegel’s History of Philosophy details many ancient empires, but never tells how to make people dance beneath the Dane Empire.

As Neitzche said, a new philosophy is in order. A philosophy that shoots toward the horizon with enough passion to shatter any number of mental obstacles. No more tired old proofs or abstract definition parties. I need to hear words that matter, words that reverberate through my soul until I am rendered an awakened, shapeless pile of goo.

If I don’t find those words soon, I’m gonna have to write them myself, g’ad s’arn it.