Thursday, October 12, 2017

Eminem is not brave for dissing Donald Trump

You've probably heard of Eminem's recent tirade against Donald Trump. I didn't make it through the whole thing; irate, crass rappers aren't really my scene. I wrote a post about it on Facebook yesterday and it's been getting a pretty good response. This being the case, I would like to bring the topic to surface here on the blog. Here's the transcript:

Eminem is not "brave" for dissing Trump; these politics are a dozen a dime a dime a dozen. Also, he's probably not the best spokesperson against someone known for their misogynous and violent rhetoric (since much of his work is, you know, known for the same things). Apparently if you're an artist, good ethics need not apply; but if you're president, you're expected to be a saint. Last time I checked, music had more of an influence on public consciousness than politics ever did. Everyone enjoys a good song but not everyone takes an interest in politics. This subordination of ethics in the arts is hypocrisy. 

I also included an "EDIT" in the comments section:

EDIT:
1. Not a Trump advocate and I think he's quite a boringly eccentric person to hear about, yet I'm contributing to the conversation.
2. Technically, I am committing the ad hominem fallacy; but I think there is still some hypocrisy to be pointed out here, wholly apart from Eminem's arguments in that freestyle.
3. Can't believe I mixed up "a dime a dozen" with "a dozen a dime"!
4. Of course politics has an effect on public consciousness too, wholly apart from personal interest in politics as an academic discipline - my comparison should be taken with a grain of salt. It's an assumption lacking qualitative and quantitative data.
5. Why am I talking to myself here?

After posting, I decided to see if anyone had similar thoughts to me. It turns out that The Hill published a piece that echoed similar sentiments, among others.

My Political Compass

I took the political compass test last week. Never really thought of myself as being so "moderate," but perhaps that isn't such a bad thing.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

an advertisement for Peggle Nights that I am not being paid to publish

I'm a casual / simple games (I realize I'm conflating categories here, but it's my blog, so whatever) kind of chap. I like Tetris, Bejeweled Blitz, Buzz! Junior: Robo Jam (don't let the 'junior' term throw you off, cuz it's a great party game), and N+ to name just a few. Otherwise, I don't play much for video games, save for a few of the Tony Hawk titles.

Last Saturday, however, I decided to pay $5 and download Peggle Nights onto my computer. Prior to this, I had played the original and Peggle 2, both of which are very fun and addicting. This one is proving to be a great addition. In fact, I like Peggle so much that I made a song earlier this year and named it after the game.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reflecting on the Braggadocio of Carnivorousness

The idea that my province of residence (Saskatchewan) is characterized by machismo is not a mistaken notion. This notion belongs in the social stock of knowledge, though the reaction toward it will vary based on a cognitive bent at an individual level. Some might call it rural or city slicker, conservative or liberal, or even manly or womanly.

Numerous examples of machismo come to mind: black smoke emissions from the engines of Chevrolet trucks, the overplaying of hockey, Bambi-killing guns, and being a carnivore. It is the last of these that I would like to bring attention to.

To be a carnivore is to be the antithesis of a herbivore; to be a chauvinist is to be the antithesis of someone who is meek. The type of person being conceived of here, with this emphasis on carnivorousness, can only be spoken of in relation to what they are not, for all personality types belong in a collection, and such a collection is one of ambivalence ipso facto. It is quite unusual, then, how some carnivores are so quick to express their ire toward vegans, for instance, who talk about their $20 salads from Phoebe's Cafe on Bourgeois Street when they're the ones bragging about the 16oz steak they inhaled after watching some bull-riding clowns at a local rodeo!

I must ask, what height of animals are a part of these rodeos? Are they tall or are they lacking in stature? Are there horses or only bulls? Whatever the case may be, these meat-eating fanatics have not seen many a men get off from their high horse. If they had, I should like to think that they would follow suit. As the bull-rider hangs onto the animal despite all danger, so the pompous carnivore hangs onto their pride despite all foolishness.

This pride can go so far as to fragment one's understanding of reality. To say that a cow is a "live steak" is an incorrect idea, not to mention one lacking in empathy. One need not be a member of a hypocritical group like PETA to figure this out. I hope to never forget the thoughts a friend passed on to me about this topic a few years ago, which I will devote the paragraph below to. I say this because I don't think good friends plagiarize each other's work (which I suppose is quite self evident).

To slaughter a cow for meat is only an act of realizing a particular feature of that animal. Prior to being killed for food, the cow wandered around, ate, slept, socialized, and was conscious (perhaps even self-conscious). All of these are features of a cow, things it can be identified with, so to say that a cow is a "live steak" is to overlook these features. While there is no credible 'carte blanche Christian theology of veganism' - for those of us who buy and consume products containing meat, an animal had to be in pain and die in the process. Perhaps it is a good idea not to speak glibly of animal pain or death and to pray with awareness and thankfulness in relation to the once sentient lives that have become our food?

Admittedly, this is all coming from a carnivore. Don't even get me started on how often I crave a bacon cheddar burger from Fuddruckers (they let you put jalapeno cheese sauce on your burger and fries there!). And go ahead, shoot your guns, drive your Chevys, and play hockey. But I'd also like to let those with baggy pants and a penchant for salads live in peace. It requires no effort on my part, so no complaints here. In any case, I refuse to observe this cultural arrogance without getting a word into the conversation - especially from such non-serious people who take their silliness so seriously!

Postscript:

In case anyone thinks I'm merely swinging at imaginary annoyances, I will post the text that inspired me to write this post down below.

THE RULES OF RURAL SASKATCHEWAN
ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.
2. Turn your cap straight, your head isn't crooked.
3. Let's get this straight; it's called a 'dirt road.' I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of my way.
4. They are cattle. They're live steaks. That's why they smell funny to you. But they smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? Hwy 1 goes east and west, Hwy 6 goes north and south. Pick one and leave.
5. So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed. We have $650,000 combines that are driven only 3 weeks a year.
6. So every person in rural Saskatchewan waves. It's called 'being friendly, try to understand the concept.
7. If that cell phone rings while an 8-point buck and 3 does are coming in, we WILL shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.
8. Yeah, we eat meat and potatoes. You really want sushi & caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.
9. The 'Opener' refers to the first day of deer hunting season. It's a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first of November.
10. We open doors for ladies. That is applied to all ladies, regardless of age.
11. There's little here for 'vegetarians' on the menu. Order steak. Or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.
12. Our meals have three main dishes: meat, vegetables and potatoes. We use three spices: salt, pepper and ketchup.
13. You bring 'coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice.
14. You bring 'Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck and have long hair.
15. Saskatchewan Hockey League and Minor Hockey is as important here as the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers and more fun to watch.
16. We have more golf courses per capita than anywere else in the world. But don't hit the water hazards -- it spooks the fish.
17. 3 inches of snow & ice isn't a blizzard - it's a vacation. The pickups with snow blades and tractors with snow blowers will have you out the next day.
A true Saskatchewanian will send this on!!!
Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Take a Chill Pill

At midnight (Saskatchewan time), I will be releasing Chill Pill, a seven song EP that I would consider among my best work. Feel free to check it out and lose an hour of sleep tonight listening to chill / underground electronic music. As per usual, thanks for listening.


Monday, September 25, 2017

How I Wasted an Entire Day Trying to Take a Picture of Myself

Oh, how I have squandered this Monday. Yet, I find some contentment in chicken fingers, ranch dressing, and finishing that selection from W. E. B. Du Bois. You might have noticed that I changed my avatar on the blog; you probably didn't because I only updated it a few minutes ago.

I had trouble making up my mind on what to do with myself today. I thought of moseying over to one of the local shopping malls, but alas, my interest in looking at or buying clothes was not very high today. Apart from that, there was nothing much I wanted to do, aside from updating my profile picture and cover photo on Facebook. Yes, I understand how boring it must be to read this post so far.

And so, that is more or less what I have wasted my time doing today, and to somewhat mediocre results. Selfies-ahoy began at a nearby park and I probably wasted 10-15 minutes doing that. After coming back home and eating some delicious leftover chicken fingers from Fat Burger, I sat myself down to do some actual editing on them. At least delicious food was more important to me today than self-portraits, I suppose.

Most of the photos were just terrible. I wanted to get a mysterious one with the sun kinda shining through and kinda blocking my face ... this was to no avail. I ended up convincing myself that there was one I kinda liked. As I almost finish editing the stupid thing, I notice there's a "hot spot" or whatever it's called on my face, on the right side of my nose, and it's just way too distracting. I waste an hour downloading a free version of Lightroom so that I might fix it because I tried PhotoFiltre and it still looks terrible, and before the program even finishes installing, I take off again to take some more pictures (at least they weren't all selfies this time, though)!

The benefit at this point is that I get to go for a drive to a less familiar neighborhood and go for a walk and make use of my DSLR camera and enjoy the weather before it's -40 ... the other pictures were just taken on my mobile phone.

So I spend about an hour walking around and taking some pictures and then I decide I'm content with my photography endeavor and head home again. While I thought I liked some of the self-portraits I got when quickly looking at them in-situation, here I am sitting in my office chair reviewing these and not really liking them at all.

But now, or rather, as of three hours ago, I have updated both my profile picture and my cover photo on Facebook. The profile picture is from today and the cover photo is just a redeux of an old photo.

Why have I written all this out? In hindsight, this preoccupation with these shallow endeavors has happened before ... in pretty much the exact same way. It sure is frustrating to care about my digital identity this much. Then again, it's probably self-inflicted. I am disappointed in myself today, not because I have made some grave mistake, but because my efforts have been so mediocre as to prevent anything grave from happening at all. Perhaps one day I will stop caring about these meaningless things ... detachment. That sounds quite lovely.

The verdict: Facebook made me do it! Also, it's difficult getting a good photo of myself. Maybe the one I have right now isn't even good, but for now, I like it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Summer Reading 2017: Updated

Since today is the last full day of summer, I thought it apt to write an update on the progress I made in my summer reading plan. Including 12 books on my list was a daunting arrangement, but I'm a curious person, and therefore, cramming a surplus of information into my head is less intentional than it is intuitive. Shout out to temporary unemployment and completing undergrad courses (I didn't say 'graduating' 'cuz that's saved for October) for opening up a lot of spare time for me, too.

Without further adieu, here is the updated list. Aren't you looking forward to reading this? Ha, oh stop you're embarrassing me, of course I knew you were ... wait, I said 'Without further adieu...' but I just keep on prattling...

1. Thomas Merton - New Seeds of Contemplation (meditations / FINISHED).

2. Max Weber - The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (sociology of religion, economics / have not started).

3. Jay DiNitto - Pale Blue Scratch (philosophical fiction / FINISHED).

4. David A. Karp - Speaking of Sadness (sociology of mental illness, symbolic interactionism / chapter six).

5. Bishop Kallistos Ware - The Orthodox Way (theology / FINISHED).

6. Peter Kreeft - Ecumenical Jihad (religion / FINISHED).

7. Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann - The Social Construction of Reality (sociology of knowledge / FINISHED).

8. Peter L. Berger - A Rumour of Angels (sociology of religion / have not started).

9. A. W. Tozer (editor) - The Christian Book of Mystical Verse (poetry / FINISHED).

10. Christopher Butler - Postmodernism (philosophy, theory / chapter two).

11. Janet Wolff  - The Social Production of Art (sociology of art / chapter six).

12. Thomas E. Schmidt - Straight and Narrow? (sexuality, theology / FINISHED).


Additional books I picked up along the way:

13. A. W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God (meditations, FINISHED)

14. James Farganis (editor) - Readings in Social Theory (sociology / theory, chapter six)

15. G. K. Chesterton - Heretics (philosophy / chapter 17)

I also read the Bible on a daily basis and am currently reading from Acts and the Psalms.

My favourite and least favourite books:

Without a doubt, the book I enjoyed reading most this summer was Ecumenical Jihad by Peter Kreeft. As I've stated before, Kreeft's prose style is just splendid and for a controversial treatise on religion and culture to be so fun to read, is an accomplishment in itself. I highly recommend ordering a cheap used copy on Amazon. And hey, a new edition is getting published in October. Good books tend to get re-published (wink).

Unfortunately, I will have to demote The Social Production of Art by Janet Wolff to the "least favourite" category. While this book did have some good moments (in my eyes), its dense usage of Marxist ideas ultimately became too boring for me to bear. The ghost of Marx has a monopoly on contemporary sociology, and so, theoretically speaking, the ambitions of this book simply don't strike me as being very creative. Economics and power are only of peripheral interest to me.

Further thoughts:

I would like to begin A Rumour of Angels one of these days ... but I should at least finish Heretics first ... and maybe Readings in Social Theory, too. Also, I'm liking the weather these days.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 4

Get Your Soul Back - "Just as we shop for our comforts and pleasure, so we “shop” for the self and the latest version of its “health.” ... Such relief, however, should not come at the price of our souls."

Robots are not going to take over the world - Jay DiNitto offers some fun thought experiments.

Conservative pastor listens to death metal - Douglas Wilson states his thoughts on the relationship between content and style, with Becoming the Archetype as a reference point.

Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions - Published in 2005, but seems like a decent resource for those interested in the topic.

You Want Snark With Those Fries? - An article about Wendy's social media antics.

Prozac at 20 - An episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin from seven years ago. I watched a half hour and it's a good discussion on controversial medication.

Calvinist movie trailer - Additionally, you can watch the original trailer here.

The Emoji Movie receives bad reviews - Just look at that Tomatometer score!

Monday, August 28, 2017

On Being Trendy

Being a trendy writer is not a difficult thing to do. Sure, you probably aren't or won't become a New York Times best seller - though there are many of those - but being a trendy writer in itself is not a complicated matter. Trendiness has to do with form and content, completely apart from how noticed your work might become.

At the risk of over-spiritualizing the matter, it might be inferred that trendiness has its identity in sin, at least, in part. To speak of trendiness is to denote the manners of a majority, or the ways of the world (see Romans 12.2). A majority can act in both good and bad ways.

In the world of writing, the list of sins is long. Some of these are aesthetic sins while others are of a moral nature. Aesthetic sins can include: numerous pages for a single post, a surplus of bullet points, 'scholarly' information lacking of citations, and obnoxious videos playing without even clicking on them. The last item mentioned is especially interesting; writing alone does not beg enough attention, or, readers do not beg for writing as much as they beg for entertainment. Moral sins, on the other hand, may include: crassness, idolatry, pride, and lying.

The reason I bring any of this up is that my writing used to be the object of my critique, that is, in certain respects. In a blog that is still active for reasons of nostalgia but no longer attached to my name - not even my pseudonym - you can find the occasional curse word, a plethora of pseudo-intellect, and even a greater amount of pride. In short, some kind of image of a trying-to-be edgy Christian who took themselves too seriously and thought of themselves as a genius for being able to ask some questions about life. If only I could laugh about it to the degree that I am disgusted by it. These are no longer things that I want to be a part of my life.

In some ways, perhaps not much has changed. I still have lots of questions about life, am still trying to die to my pride, and more than occasionally find myself upset over trivialities. So, why write any of this?

I suppose I have undergone many paradigm changes over the last few years. Some of the past heroes of my thought-life are no longer championed and, on my good days, forgotten about.

If only people would take themselves less seriously...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Yet Another Change in the Design of this Blog

I'm sure it's become a bit of a joke around here. That being said, the last design did last quite long. If memory serves me correct, I updated it in late April, meaning that I kept the design quite consistent for approximately four months. That's not bad by my standards at all.

But who knows how long the current design will last! I've used this one before and I like it for its blueness (or grey ... or nearly green ... depending on the colour settings of your monitor) and minimalism. I sort of do miss having my pages (about, other pages, contact), but hey, I'm still sharing my writing on here and I think that's a heck of a lot more important than professionalism.

Am I a professional to begin with, anyway? I don't exactly think so. I'm high on intuition, meaning that I'm bad at doing practical things and decent at being theoretical. I'm afraid to say that this is not the most suitable set of qualities when you exist in an iron cage of rationality, to put it in Max Weber's terms.

It's funny how I was quite content for a long time with the design of this blog and suddenly, like the flick of a light switch, I feel so compelled to give it some digital renovations! It probably has to do with another project I undertook recently, which was searching through old email for old songs of mine and compiling them to make this Email project I released today through Bandcamp.

Yet another instance of artistic restlessness.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Questioning Some Common Ideas

"To begin your piece with an introduction is essential."

I agree to the extent that an introduction could be preferred by some, but I must ask, preferred by whom? If I were preparing an essay to a submit to a professor, then yes, an introduction is essential, generally speaking. For myself though, I think introductions are boring and spoil everything that you are about to say, albeit in a manner utterly void of evidence! As a matter of fact, I also had one professor during my undergraduate studies who said that he did not care about the structure of our papers, and part of that was an indifference to the inclusion of introductions or conclusions. His reasoning, as I recall, was that Philosophy papers ought to be written as works of logic (i.e. make some arguments), rather than well-structured prose for an English course, for instance.

"If you really are pro-life, then you cannot be in favor of the death penalty."

While emotionally stirring, this attitude promotes taking things too literally. To be 'pro-life', for many people, is to allow the opportunity for existence outside of the womb unto those whom this experience has yet to be actualized. Fetuses, on this view, ought to at least have the chance to exist beyond the womb in the first place. The death penalty, on the other hand, is not intended for those who have not been granted a chance at existing beyond the womb. Such persons have already existed in such a life-type, and according to some, have tainted their own existence by committing such a heinous act that their very existence ought to be negated by means of the state. If you were to ask me, I would say that I am generally against both abortion and the death penalty. I say 'generally' because I am sure there are some cases, if I was in the place of a judge, where the death penalty would seem to be the best option to me, though certainly not the ideal option. I believe that taking a life is always a sin, though sometimes, only wrong options are available, and so, you have to choose the better of the two evils. It seems at least possible, in this moment of armchair philosophizing. To say that all pro-lifers should be against both is a false equivocation. Abortion and the death penalty are different ethical issues.

"You cannot love someone else without loving yourself first."

This is probably a product of the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on individuality, efficiency, and selfishness. I have yet to hear a reason as to why this is factual rather than an artifact of pop-psychology. I agree, there are some things that we as individuals, in our individualness, have a responsibility over that nobody else does. We tire out, need rest, and yes, self-examination is important. But the Christ said that "there is no greater love than the one who shed blood for his friends," and to me, that clearly seems to be an act of loving another before loving oneself. So, at least sometimes, you can love someone else before loving yourself.

"It is 2017 for crying out loud..."

Ha ha ha! This should be a fun one to address and it is definitely a product of the Enlightenment, with its notion of the human race at large progressing in its intellect and moral sensibility. Some people like to use this little catchphrase when complaining about, to give some examples, pejoratives, violence, and general stupidity. The people who say this appear to believe that those alive in 2017 are the smartest and most compassionate people to have ever existed.

But there is a flaw in the ointment: it is a circular argument. Those who are alive in 2017 are morally and intellectually superior to those from past years because it is 2017. That is the only substance contained in this idea. It is a boring and trendy aphorism and I think that more people should get off their high horse.

"You study sociology? You must be a social justice warrior (SJW), a neo-Marxist, or a postmodernist!"

Okay, so this is not a common idea per se, but it bugs me nonetheless. The first person who comes to mind is psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, who seems to enjoy criticizing the discipline. I like Jordan B. Peterson well enough, but that does not mean I cannot have my disagreements with him. I agree that sociology is in trouble, but as it turns out, sociologists like Peter L. Berger (RIP) and Anne Hendershott have already discussed this (to be fair, Peterson tweeted Hendershott's article, though in a snarky fashion).

The problem with this animosity is that it has an all encompassing "sociology says" attitude. The truth of the matter is that there is and should be disagreements among sociologists. Peterson's crticisms might hold up insofar as they address sociologists whose work has a postmodern, conflict-theory, or neo-Marxist bent to it, but to think that these are the only theories available to sociologists is a fragmented view. Other sociological theories/methods include: symbolic interactionism, functionalism, actor-network theory, ethnomethodology, systems theory, and more. Even if Peterson is correct that neo-Marxism, postmodernism, etc. are the dominant theories, they do not have to be. There are different ways to do sociology.

At this time I would also like to address the claim that those interested in sociology are SJWs. Here I will simply share the wise words of Steve Bruce, taken from chapter five of his wonderful book Sociology: A Very Short Introduction: "...though the discipline owes much to reformers and many sociologists derive their research interests from moral and political engagements with the world, sociology must be distinguished from social reform."

In short, sociology just means "the study of society," something quite different from what some might perceive (whether fairly or not, I will not comment) as "foolish activism," and you can study society in many different ways.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Did Marx and Engels Really Just Say That?

Recently, I finished reading a selection from The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels. The sample is taken from James Farganis' Readings in Social Theory which I have started as of three days ago. While I enjoyed the prose style at times, it sure is dim witted in some of its content. I laughed out loud when I read the underlined sentence.

While I had read the sentence before in Peter Kreeft's article on Marx in his Pillars of Unbelief series, it was a humorous reprieve. Talk about shutting down the conversation too soon!


Friday, August 18, 2017

Intellectual Barbarians

Some people are downright disingenuous. They savor that which is generic over that which is genius. Ironically, their bad taste goes beyond the confines of their taste buds, much like an adolescent shooting a viscous spitball at their neighbor's posterior skull.

We have all heard about the rules of generosity in reading another person's writing. One such notion is assuming that the author has the best intentions. A more general rule is reading between the lines, for the sake of having a sharp understanding of the text.

Though these rules are not complicated, some people are stubborn. If you write something ever-so-slightly different from the run of the mill content that pervades the world of writing, you would be best off to keep your eyes peeled. There are negative consequences for choosing to be an island. Your very habitats could be burned down by intellectual barbarians.

And who are these barbarians? They are the stubborn ones. You know, they ones who do not read between the lines and who do not assume that you have good intentions. It might seem that they read between the lines, given their strange interpretations of your text. But the truth is that they are not reading between anything, for their interpretation flies completely over, similar to a haphazard aeroplane missing its destination! They would even erase the text of your writing just to make you look absentminded.

Some people deal in false dichotomies, in binaries, and it is in this respect that I approve of a postmodern approach. They will try to corner you into one of their sides, as if nobody had ever dared to scale the walls of their vulgar architecture. This technological age is not a good age to express your ideas, especially through a 140 character publishing platform that I feel embarrassed to even mention on here, given its general insipidity.

Monday, August 14, 2017

before the day ends

missing out
but where does that go?
immune to absence
until my dreams awaken me

but i'm not sincere
no, not here
for the absence radiates
like a sun in a sky of cigarettes

the sun, forsaken
a burning hole
like a flame without a match
meaningless

i can't tell the nights from the days
in this effervescent haze
i've been waiting so long
though i don't know what for

and yet, i lie again
i know what i wait for

my thoughts are a home for you
it's just that you don't live there

my apologies on standby
or rather, standstill
mine stand still
but yours merely sit down

forever?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Galleria

I look through the trees at the glass windows. They are flaxen, though man-made, an architectural sun if there ever was such a thing. When I stare at the actual sun, the act negates itself; my stare is forbidden by unmitigated admittance. All possibility of future sight is left in shambles if I choose all potential sight in situation. The windows don't fare much better in terms of accommodation. The reflecting gold is so viscous that I am only left with an image of myself and outside surroundings, though the purpose of windows is to see through a priori. The teleology of the windows have become subordinate to contemporary aesthetics.



Saturday, July 29, 2017

J Dilla - Lightworks

I like his Donuts album quite a lot; Dilla's music has undoubtedly had an influence on my own audio-art, especially Voyage de l'Âme. In fact, Justin from Xian music blog Spirit You All noted this in a very kind and well-written song review, published about a year and a half ago. This type of music is for an acquired taste - perhaps a very acquired taste. That's not to sound pretentious, but from my perspective, I can't think of anyone who would enjoy this as much as I do. Like most art, as a consumed good, we don't know why we enjoy what we enjoy (at least, that's an assumption and it it seems correct to me intuitively). In the case of food, taste buds just happen to like what they like. Is taste in music really that different from taste in food? Both even have a moral component to them, I think, but I'm not going to get into that right now.

At any rate, if I egged anyone on to listen to the song or my album (cheap thrills, I know), then my work here is accomplished. If not, well, I have no idea, and I might eat some nachos soon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

On Pain and Prayer

Why do we ask God to rid us of our pain? Does God necessarily intend to rid us of it, that is, at all times? Is it worthwhile to beseech Him perpetually?  C. S. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain:

"Suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God."

The type of pain I'm thinking of at the time is emotional pain, especially in the aftermath of a loss (grief, put simply). It seems a common practice to ask God the Father to comfort those who mourn in such situations. Without doubting the good intentions of those who have made similar requests (myself included), I wonder if something is missing here?

Consider another quotation from Lewis' theodicy:

"Lay down this book and reflect for five minutes on the fact that all the great religions were first preached, and long practiced, in a world without chloroform."

And how far the developed world has come since the days of chloroform! The culture in which Western Christians are situated is undoubtedly one that celebrates pleasure, especially happiness. We need not look any further than some of our social norms. For instance, it has come to my attention that a common complaint among those with depression is that they find it difficult to honestly discuss their thought-life with others. This is fostered by a society that prizes positive conversations in face-to-face interaction, even to the point of dishonesty. As well, in the workplace some employees have to perform what Arlie Russell Hochschild calls 'emotional labor.' This refers to the regulation of emotions, for instance, a flight attendant who is payed for their friendliness toward customers (as discussed in The Managed Heart). Happiness is routinized and even commoditized in everyday life.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with being as happy as a bug in a rug. Happiness can be a proper response in certain situations. But happiness is not the standard any more than pain is, especially in the Christian life. This is not limited to grief but could also include other emotional pain like loneliness. As A. W. Tozer puts it in his essay The Saint Must Walk Alone:

"Most of the world's great saints have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness. ... He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it..."

Undoubtedly, secular social norms have crawled into the Christian church. But why have we accepted with such passivity? Anything that is not of God ought to be shooed away, even happy bugs in rugs, at least, when their origin is in lying. Lying is not just a bug - it is a pest. This, however, must be said with caution. Again, I don't want to dismiss the good intentions of others in praying for the healing of emotional pain, not to mention God's grace when he does heal. All that I want to wager is that emotional pain should be experienced if it is warranted, and that any hesitancy toward it should not be promoted if it involves lying to oneself.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 3

A world of pure imagination - Unlike those philosophical plebs marching around the walls of empiricism, Edward Feser offers a different perspective on David Hume.*

Four Temperaments Test - Are you sanguine, choleric, melancholic, or phlegmatic? Find out in approximately five minutes.

The Dissatisfaction of Francis Schaeffer - A biography from Christianity Today about one of my favourite philosophers/theologians (Art and the Bible is a wonderful read).

Why the Orthodox Honor Mary - I thought this was an informative read as an outsider to the Orthodox tradition.

Secularization Falsified - "Modernity is not necessarily secularizing; it is necessarily pluralizing." ~ Peter L. Berger. Also, Peter Berger dies at 88. May this brilliant thinker rest in peace.

Graham's Number - This number will literally blow your mind.

The medicalisation of shyness - This article has remained (mostly) unread on my desktop for awhile now, but the title makes me think that it has some interesting information.

*  While I think that Hume is alright, this praising of the empiricist (Hume) while bashing the genius rationalist (Descartes) that seems to happen causes me to lose my patience. Why would anyone have ill feelings toward a man who tried doubting his own existence? It makes no sense to me!

Monday, July 17, 2017

probably plight less

To be 'cultured' is for an individual or group to possess characteristics of a certain culture rather than any culture. That's why some rural folk, among others, are said to not be 'cultured.' But they are cultured; it's just that they are rural rather than bourgeois or noble European. Why their cultural capital is any less 'cultured' is beyond me.

Goo Goo Dolls are to Rock music what realism is to art. Songs like "Iris" and "Black Balloon" are wonderful, though they're those songs in the back of your head that you know you've heard before when you hear them in a most real manifestation (say, on the radio instead of in your brain). Good realistic art so often prompts observers to say "well, that's very nice," and then they're bored and out the door. The quality is so profound and realistic - taken for granted - that they don't even give much thought to it. At least, that's what I've found to be true for me. The truth of my statement is contingent upon the particular consumer, I would imagine.

Refrigerators are strange because they allow the opportunity to store both food that is meant to stay cold and food that is meant to be warmed, eventually. Microwaves, on the other hand, are only used to turn cold food into warm food. It's weird how some food that ought to be warm has to be cold for any period of time at all.

I'll never forget the expression on your face whilst eating that cucumber and mayonnaise sandwich. You probably don't even know that I exist. Did you see me there? Will you ever read this? You looked rather forlorn ... the blues of soccer camp, I guess. I could sympathize.

I have a headache. I had a headache. Peppermint oil for the forehead is the best medicine. Distraction is almost as good. It is past 11:00 PM and it's still ~19 degrees Celsius. I don't know why 'Celsius' is supposed to be capitalized. The warm weather is against me, and somehow, I'm not thirsty. The question of "where on your head does it hurt?" is odd. If my head is in pain, I probably can't think clearly enough to give a proper answer. Can a person keep track of the pain in their head any better than they can keep track of their thoughts?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Castles

I completely forget what I wanted to write here. "Sarah - toh - oh - oh- nin" was just playing in my headphones. What was I thinking about earlier ... oh yes, that's it. Woah - that next song came on way too loud. It's my July 2017 playlist. Pause. Did I already forget what I wanted to write about again? Mmmkay. That's not even a word. Oh. I'm sorry for belaboring, really. Oh yes, I remember again. But if I say I'm going to remember does that just mean I'm going to forget? Kind of like when somebody says that they'll keep a promise, but really, it means that they're just denying what you want them to accept. That probably reads cliché, although, that's only my opinion. Also, when I don't want the letter e with the accent over top, my computer spits it out, and when I do want it, I don't know where to begin, so I type it into Google but I'm certain there's any easier way. Of course there's an easier way.

What I wanted to talk about was ... hey, we're not going there again!

It's concerning to me how some identities are so difficult to shake. As much as I try to free myself from, say, political opinion, the truth of the matter is that my ideas can probably be categorized into a cute little holiday car, even though I'd rather make pessimistic remarks about how politics is just a room full of smoke, say, from that ever-polluting engine of said car. What's the problem here? Do I wish to be a total outsider in this regard, or am I not content with my beliefs, or am I not content with others' attitudes about my beliefs? Wow, only three questions there? I thought there would me more. When I write it out, it's really not so confusing, at least, it seems that way in a certain way.

I'm back. I don't know when I left. I shouldn't be looking at screens for reasons of sleep hygiene.

I re-read paragraph three, hoping that it would motivate some more interesting ideas. Nothing so far.

Today is another day, though it is almost over. "I see the rowan berries reddening and don't know for a moment why they, of all things, should be depressing." I'm not sure why I think of that quote from Clive so often, but it resonates. Somehow, I have been able to see a certain something in nearly everything at one time or another ... interesting for people my age who tend to compartmentalize, so I've heard ... it must be wrong when I don't take things for what they truly are.

I really didn't want to write about politics at all here, but alas, I did! I used to find the activist identity fascinating but now I seem to have a penchant for quietism. I guess quietism is what I've maintained all along, though now I actually seem to like it. It's interesting to note that a firebrand-of-a-"political"-man on the New Left like Herbert Marcuse was just an armchair philosopher. Though ... it's not that I don't want things to be good, or a lack of compassion necessarily; I think it's more so the complexity of social problems, and the limitations of human ability, and the limitations of group ability, discussion, and who knows what else. Perhaps the best thing is to remember our neighbor. As G. K. Chesterton writes: "We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor."

Though more people than I could count have probably said something along these lines, the forgetfulness about what's right before us need not be overlooked. This is the charm of the aesthete, the one who finds beauty in the ordinary. Living as meaningful a life as possible in one's mundane condition is also good, I would imagine. Why do we wait for castles to descend from the sky ... and why do we think ourselves capable of building castles?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Walking

I went for a walk past 8 o'clock this some evening ago. The sky was so blue and empty. It made me think about when I found the blueness of the sky, the greenness of grass, and the brightness of the sun puzzling matters. I can have the same thoughts these days, but not the same feelings which once accompanied them. Perhaps none of it began with thoughts at all, but feelings, rather...

What did any of this phenomena mean in relation to me? That's what I was wondering when I had those thoughts. I'm not sure I ever came to an answer on that. Somehow, I stopped caring. I don't find myself particularly distracted by the scenery in which I walk among anymore. Every so often, I take notice of a stoplight, or a sunset, or clouds, but my thoughts take precedence. In some ways, I am very immune to what others take to be beautiful. Mountains, for instance, do not move me in a profound way like they seem to for many others.

I suppose, in a way, the disinterest is still there. It feels wrong to deny the beauty of mountains, but my interest in them is only cursory. My inner-aesthete motivates me to make beautiful that which has been deemed 'boring.' A stoplight can be interesting, as can so many other signs, traffic or otherwise. And if the sign lights up, well, that's even better. Perhaps I can put my interest in signs to good use one day by becoming a semiotician.

I think quite often of Kierkegaard's clever words about walking. He says: “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Rise in Antidepressant Use and What it Means for Deviance

It is common sense that the mentally ill are, sociologically speaking, a broad group of people who have been, and continue to be in the eyes of some (if not many), considered deviant. What way do things seem to be heading in the future though? To only look at one angle of the issue, this study from Business Insider published last year claims that antidepressant use has increased in 25 countries. The paragraph below includes some of the key information included in that article (though for the sake of brevity, I do not mention all of those countries).

In a matter of four years, antidepressant use in Germany increased by 46%, reaching a rate of 50 per 1,000. During the same period, it increased by approximately 20% in Spain and Portugal, the former being 50 per 1,000 and the latter being 78 per 1,000. Use in Iceland was very high, as it was estimated that 106 per 1,000 used antidepressants. The United States was added to the analysis by the authors, and the results indicated that use in this country was even higher than Iceland, that is to say, antidepressant use there was the highest out of the 26 countries included. Eleven percent of Americans over 12 years of age use antidepressants, and 110 per 1,000 use them overall. Also high on the list was Australia, coming in at third place, which had 89 per 1,000 antidepressant users. Canada was fourth on the list, with a rate of 86 per 1,000. In fifth place was Denmark, which had 85 per 1,000.

While these increases in antidepressant use are fascinating, again, I wonder what the future holds in this regard. I refuse to make any predictions because I know God knows the future so much better than I do. Plus, as I mentioned, the highest use was in the United States at 110 per 1,000, and that is only about 10%, meaning that it is not significant. But if antidepressant use continues to increase, and if those who take this medication are considered mentally ill, and if antidepressant use reaches the point of being significant (say, 6/10), then antidepressant use becomes the norm, and therefore mental illness within this frame can no longer be considered deviant, that is, if deviance is defined as a departure from normal standards of social behavior (statistical rarity, in other words).

Believe me, I have no agenda with any of this - at least, I do not think that I do. I do not believe that such an increase will really happen. My point is that, under current conditions, mental illness (mainly depression/anxiety in this case) is made "substandard" in relation to popular thinking and behavior as well as a popular lack of medication use. However, if this "substandard" thinking/behavior becomes the standard through popularization - as can be inferred through antidepressant use - what shall the new means be by which it will be considered deviant, if not a lack of popularity?

* Thanks to Tami M. Bereska for inspiring to write about this through chapter one of Deviance, Conformity, and Social Control in Canada (4th edition).

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stupid Sensationalism

No longer is it sufficient to solely be charmed by something. Entire bracelets used to be created out of charms; but now, the bracelet has been severed, as the beads fall to dirt in a hurried escape. Who possesses the scissors? As unlucky as it is, you cannot see them. Scissors are, after all, an archaic tool used in the production of arts and crafts, hidden away in storage rooms and plastic containers. While hidden, physical scissors are certainly perceivable because of their special use. But many a metaphorical scissors - and I did say many! - are not perceivable because they are not special in their use. Our sight takes advantage of some things.

I think about cameras and their commonality. No longer does one have to wander around an electronics department store and purchase a camera by Canon, Nikon, or Fujifilm, especially as a special object. The feature of photography no longer belongs to a camera in itself, but can now be found in cellphones and other computer devices. When we say that "talk is cheap," we also infer that talk is common, wholly apart from any concerns about truth or falsity. The mass media have used cameras for a long time, but the esoteric quality is wearing thin. Any such denizen with a cellphone these days can film local scenes of speculation and publish the results through social media. Of course, this meandering about commoners' abilities is not truly germane.

But I think about a news story involving a man driving his automobile into a Ten Commandments Monument in Arkansas and how it can receive 53,000 positive reactions and a plethora of pretentious comments on Facebook. The leprechaun is no longer charming or lucky, but only mischievous - sensationalist, in a word. As long as sensationalism is made an idol, that which is actually sensational only becomes secondary scenery. Along with the surplus of cameras and their images, sensationalism is also being over-manufactured.

May charm and sanity be maintained in spite of this, and perhaps more importantly, may truth seekers not become numb to the degeneracy of the world in which they live.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sentences

An ill-informed artifact of communication can be informative in the sense that it is - while not necessarily being intellectually informative in all its parts, and especially in itself - able to be well-informed in how it looks to another, and furthermore, to the producer of the artifact itself. The way by which this realization can come about is if the artifact is emotional because emotions can subtract from the intellect, that is, if one maintains that these are entirely different corners of the psychological life. It is like looking through a clear glass window. What do I mean here? All I mean is that some people do not know how things look to other people for a time and that it is possible to transcend. Some people can affirm the stereotypes that others have of their type without them even knowing it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Society As Plastic: Some Very Short Observations

Out of all things people could be interested in, why are the masses so amused by the cheap, the insipid, and even more fatefully, the profane? Matthew wrote in 6.22 that our eyes are lamps, and furthermore, that our whole bodies should be brimming with light. But alas, many no longer use their lanterns as moral compasses, but rather, they use this technology not to guide them out of the darkness, but to keep them enveloped. Nowadays, we are worse off than Nietzsche's madman; at least he was looking for God with his lantern! What are people looking for these days? Politics, entertainment, gratification, violence, idols.

I keep on seeing content related to millennials eating guacamole toast at bourgeois restaurants, and therefore being unwise with their capital, or something along those lines. As you might have guessed, I have not taken much interest in the ordeal. Whatever the case may be though, I am stunned that these trivial news stories are the objects of peoples attention. I am also more than tired with hearing about Donald J. Trump. It seems that this preoccupation with the lives of others, especially those in power, can make people forget about their very own lives. The lack of self-awareness of those who spend their mental energy on these things will be the evidence.

And still, whenever I criticize what I consider to be the the folly of others, I mustn't forget the mystic standard: do not externalize the problem.

Twelve Twenty Six

Wonder is disinterest
when its edge is expected.

Hearts of trees lay open,
as I view skies of red.

White clouds are melting
all feelings down a drain.

Does anyone know
where everything goes?

In this world,
nothing stays the same.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Points of Fiction: Mental Labor and Ontology

Fiction is supposed to read in a similar way to how a movie plays. A cinematographer and their ilk intend to construct scenes for viewers to see on a screen, much akin to an author using words to convey a particular image which the reader ascertains through reading. However, there is a discrepancy in relation to the image of the film and the image of the novel. Consider the following fictional scenario: a green alien breaks into a donut shop in which he steals coffee and donuts. For the film-makers, they are going to use real props, or perhaps CGI, or even both, to portray this. Maybe they will make the alien bright green, have donuts with pink frosting and sprinkles, black coffee, a 1990s checkered floor, a neon "closed" sign, etc. There is only going to be one scene for this film and that will be the scene on the screen. Now, perhaps an author will go into great detail and try to make it as objective as possible, but there will be no external alien, nor will there be donuts, nor a "closed" sign, and so forth, to see. The reader has to conjure up the scenery in their own head. In a sense, "there is nothing outside of the text," to use that mistranslated quotation from Derrida.

But that's not the entire story. This lack of need for an imagination can be extended to non-fiction, as well. Suppose that I am interested in statistics, and I want to learn about cigarette smoking in a given area. So, I decide to go online and read about it. I might have images of people of different ages in my head, say, if I am comparing cigarette use based on age. But such images do not truly matter like they would in a work of fiction because statistics are about cold facts and not a creative story. The mental labor that comes with reading statistics is mere scribbling in the margins compared to the Picasso-attempts that come with reading fiction. Fiction is two-fold in its ontology. There is the ontology of the text itself and the ontology of the imagination of the reader. The former is objective while the latter is subjective. There is no such complex of ontology that comes with non-fiction or films.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Simon & Garfunkel - April Come She Will

From two of the most introverted musicians out there ... also, modern folk has got nothing on this and I would rather be a curmudgeon than a liar.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 2

Face melting guitar skills - Buckethead's awe-inspiring performance of "Soothsayer." If you like the fast stuff, skip ahead to the 4 minute mark.

A David Berlinski montage - The American intellectual talks about new atheism, evolution, and some other things along the way (in his signature biting prose, of course).

Why are pencils yellow? - If the question has ever kept you up at night...

A sociologist critiques gender sociology - I haven't actually read this one yet, though the abstract was a good sell [seller? ... Zellers?]. For all those who complain that "sociologists say x," here's a counterargument. Some of these erroneous accusations have been making me roll my eyes to the point where they'll start singing "googly, googly, begone!"

Review of The Case for Christ movie - David Wood does some hilarious impressions of Lee Strobel, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig (they begin at around 2:19).

Gary North has some harsh words for Frank Schaeffer - I would argue that North could have been more gracious in his approach, though he offers some interesting ideas on the arts and blasphemy. And let's be honest, this is simply a hilarious read.

Holding Pasteur under a microscope - One of my favourite reads from the Sociology of Science and Knowledge course I took in late 2016. Written by the actor-network theorist Bruno Latour, he analyzes Louis Pasteur's "solution" for anthrax and makes some intriguing observations. "The change of scale makes possible a reversal of the actors' strengths; 'outside' animals, farmers, and veterinarians were weaker than the invisible anthrax bacillus; inside Pasteur's lab, man becomes stronger than the bacillus..."

Parody of the Meryl Streep speech - It's old news by now, and I'll admit that I haven't heard all of Steep's speech; however, I've had many a laughs over this, so I thought I'd share.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Musing Over the Lord's Prayer

I occasionally find myself frustrated over the lack of times I witness the Lord's Prayer being recited. Matthew writes in 6.9 that we should pray like this (NLT); of course, the issue of whether the prayer ought to be communicated verbatim or not is debatable. However, what I do not think is debatable is that this is a powerful prayer. What other prayer has caused such civic uproar? The Lord's Prayer is, after all, that same prayer which public schools first welcomed and then denied. It is the Peter of prayers, or maybe, our prayer lives are just wayward like Peter was?

Whatever the case may be, I understand the difficulty with praying, and I trust that a lot of people relate to me in this way. But this prayer should dismantle that worry. It's right there in Scripture and God is waiting for you to pray it. What amazes me about the Lord's Prayer is that, I think, it is capable of taking on so many different meanings. What I mean here is that this ancient and objective prayer allows room for the subjectivity of the one who speaks to God. The Lord's Prayer is not some bore of a speech that lacks interest in those worries, requests, confessions, and whatever else one might want to lay at the feet of the Father. Rather, it's a map that can put these things into their proper location. Like a chorus of birds hiding in the shade of a tree, a Christian's prayers can hide in the words of the Lord's Prayer.

The practice of prayer, especially in the social sphere of life, can cause distress for the more self-conscious individual who lacks "proper speech." But again, the words await in the book of Matthew, and nobody can recite this prayer "better" than anybody else. Prayer should not welcome unruly comparison any more than temples should sell doves. Pride is not beyond the eyes of the Christ, and he will chase it out just like he chased out those robbers in the temple.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Do Hipsters Exist?

Often times, it is said that post-structuralism and postmodernism followed existentialism. While this is true, I might also wager that hipsterism should have joined the continental conga line. Just as certain existentialists denied that they were existentialists, many hipsters deny that they are hipsters (in addition, reading existential literature gains hipster points).

But unlike the fact that existentialism was once a real theory and approach to be reckoned with, the very notion that the hipster was/is actually a materialized entity has been questioned. Rob Horning, in his article The Death of the Hipster, asks "...are there hipsters, actual hipsters, or just a pervasive fear of hipsters?" Perhaps this says something significant about identity-denial among those perceived as hipsters, an implication that is very much a fact in the social stock of knowledge. In a way, it almost seems like hipsterism is to aesthetics what atheism is to religion. The gods who are so obvious to the majority of the world go unnoticed by the atheists; the hipster fashion trends that are so obvious to the non-hipster majority go unnoticed by the hipster collective. And, like all social groups, both make room for some hypocrisy. As an atheist might be militant (religious) about their purported lack of beliefs, a hipster might deny the commonly perceived nature of their attire.

So, the answer to the question of whether or not hipsters exist is contingent upon who you ask. If they're slurping down a can of PBR while reading the latest issue of the New Left Review, the answer is probably "no." If, however, they're voicing a jeremiad about how pretentious a site like Pitchfork is, the answers is likely "yes."

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 1

In typical blogger fashion, I am going to start doing some link sharing posts on here. While my own writing will continue to be central to the hesitant telos, sometimes I lack more original ideas to communicate and want to let others know about media of interest without being so boring as to replicate the intellectual property that belongs to others or whatever you might call it. The name I have ascribed to this is a parody of "the great chain of being." This probably isn't related enough to that, but I thought it was catchy - a catchy pleonasm. Also, no promises on the relevancy (in terms of publication date) of these. I'm notoriously late in many a ways, so such a rule about trendiness just won't work for me. Without further ado, I give to you The Great Chain of Linking, Part 1.

1. Can Sociology be Saved? - The mentioning of criminal justice here is interesting to me as a sociology major, which is to say, that sub-field isn't really interesting to me at all.

2. Linkin Park's new album is getting bad scores - I'm quite content with Hybrid Theory and Meteora, personally. Their remix album was also good.

3. Song of the week right here: "Feeling Neglected" by Rainer Maria - why aren't there more female singers in emo bands?

4. Christina Hoff Sommers questions the gender wage gap. I'm trying to be as open to the evidence here as possible, but as far as I can tell, she makes a good case.

5. Peter Kreeft on the liberal arts and its relation to sexual morality - His prose style is simply captivating. I wouldn't doubt if Kreeft was objectively one of the best contemporary writers on religion, though of course, that is a difficult claim to test.

6. Is the Bible like any other book? A.W. Tozer didn't think so.

7. Pumpkins are symbols of Caucasian-American culture, a couple of authors in the GeoHumanities journal argue. Maybe it's articles like these that cause people to think that sociology can't be saved and shouldn't be saved?

8. Observations from Alexander Griswold on the Wild Goose Festival 2014 - I've mentioned this festival on the blog before and I have no vigor to say anything else about it at the time ... other than that I find it to be a fascinating social movement that I will probably continue to study second hand in the future.

9. A video of the Nicholas Christakis controversy - The sociologist and his wife, Erika, have resigned from Yale because of, from what I've gathered, advocating that students should be able to choose their own Halloween costumes as opposed to measures of social control. Yeah, students just wouldn't go for that apparently and made their lives more difficult than they should have (is respect for a professor no longer a thing?). Apparently the guy at the ~2 minute mark and someone else have received leadership awards for their complaining! I honestly feel so bad for Nicholas and Erika.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

i m a g e d . s e n s - my new photo blog

I suppose it's time to let the cat out of the bag - I just can't stop making blogs, apparently. Just last week I started up i m a g e d . s e n s, a (mostly) wordless blog that is intended to showcase my own photography/visuals, unless otherwise noted. I spent money on a DSLR camera (Canon Rebel T3i) a few years ago, so I may as well put it to use. There's a good chance many of the uploads to come will be oldies but goodies laying around in the crevices of my hard drive, though a couple of the shares have been recent (by recent I mean within the past couple weeks). In theory, I could just share the photos here, but I really think the design of the other blog really compliments the intention. Speaking of design, you might have noticed that I changed some things around on here: links are green, I disabled the sticky header, and I no longer have a featured post. Unfortunately, the search button and those three lines beside it button (not sure exactly what it's called) are now a little finicky! They should work when you first arrive on a page, but if you scroll down and scroll up and click on them, they don't work. That's too bad, although, I really didn't like the sticky header so I think I'm still at an advantage.

EDIT: Uninstalled Instagram from my mobile cellular phone today. Hopefully this photo blog will be somewhat of a reprieve from the boringness that came along with the app.

EDIT 2: The sticky header has been enabled again. I couldn't in good conscience have buttons that didn't work. Unless anyone objects, I plan on keeping it. I think it's okay once I made the header font smaller and non-bold.

EDIT 3: Forgive me, I just can't make up my mind on preferred aesthetics at the time. Hopefully this will change in the near future. Links are blue again, the featured post is there again.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why I Enjoy Philosophy More Than Theology


I have really thrown myself into a sarlacc pit this time! As a self professing Christian, I find myself uncomfortable with making the inference that I enjoy "the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language" (philosophy) more than "the study of the nature of God and religious belief" (theology). I can see that I have also made some of the more serious Christians uncomfortable here, as a swarm of them run towards me. The Roman Catholics have copies of the Catechism and Vatican II documents to lend, the Reformed have their Westminster Confession of Faith, and process Christians have a handful of Alfred North Whitehead and John Cobb books cupped in their eco-friendly local soap washed hands. Those are the first three groups I saw. There are a plethora more and far too many to count. I jest; really, I do.

Before I try to defend my mere opinion, I can think of no better way to begin than by bringing in a quotation from Austrian-American sociologist Peter L. Berger. He writes in the preface of A Rumour of Angels: "I also consider myself a Christian, though I have not yet found the heresy into which my theological views would comfortably fit." To elaborate on this profound statement would be belabored, but I hope the reader will keep these words in mind while they read the paragraphs which follow.

If there is one thing that I dislike about theology it would have to be its competitive nature. While individuals arguably do have a certain disposition to particular philosophical and theological outlooks alike, I believe that the former allows for more altruism than the latter. In the words of Shelly Kagan, who is the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale: "I'm a philosopher, I don't know 'facts.'" In philosophy, you can take a side and defend it ardently, though you will probably still acknowledge that you could be wrong. Saul Kripke, author of the groundbreaking philosophy of language work Naming and Necessity, affirms this attitude: "It is really a nice theory. The only defect I think it has is probably common to all philosophical theories. It's wrong." The gardens of theology, on the other hand, make for difficult terrain in which specimens like doubt and altruism might flourish. Theology in general, I would argue, attempts to deal with who God truly is and what correct religious beliefs actually are. To give an analogy, theology is like trying to create a map so that you will not get lost, while philosophy is like having a map set before you and questioning its implications and thus becoming lost. Personally, I enjoy the wandering that comes with philosophy and have difficulty devoting myself to a single theological tradition (note that I did not say God, but rather, theological tradition!).

Of course, I think that the ideas of knowing God Himself and living a life that brims of good religion are wonderful things. Notice here that I used the word 'idea' though and not 'experience' or something to that effect. I have folded myself into the fold-out couch so to speak, and I will not edit this out for the sake of potentially amusing the reader. This is important because it brings me to my next point: philosophy is more successful at being a study than theology.

I wager that philosophy is more successful at being a study than theology because the former is, in general, directed toward mere ideas while the latter is directed toward an actual person, to some extent. In the sense that theology is a study of the nature of God, theological discourse is by definition directed toward a person. The way in which one familiarizes themselves with ideas - in the subjective thought-world - and with a person - in the objective social world - are of course remarkably different. Starting with how one familiarizes themselves with ideas, let us suppose that I want to learn about the ethical theory of utilitarianism. To learn about this, all I have to do is pour myself into some books by Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Peter Singer, and so forth. Reading is the sharpest tool of the trade when it comes to familiarizing oneself with philosophical ideas. On the other hand, when it comes to knowing a person, reading is simply insufficient. Suppose that my friend, Smith, hands me a list that includes details about his friend, Jones, say his physical appearance, interests, mannerisms, etc. Even if I were to memorize the details on that list, it does not mean that I actually know Jones himself. Now, I suppose somebody could argue that those details are Jones, that his identity is contingent upon his appearance, interests, mannerisms, etc. and not something else. I, however, contend that such thinking is too impractical and violates the sense of the common. A safe albeit abstract definition of knowing a person, it seems to me, is that two or more persons must share some type of experience. This experience need not be grand or complicated, but reading about a person does not fulfill this requirement and is therefore mere blarney.

So what am I trying to say here? In truth, I am having difficulty figuring this out for myself, as my stream of thought seems to be in contradiction. I guess part of what I want to say has been reiterated by so many before, in different ways: knowing God must be something more than an intellectual task. As I have outlined above, I see some of the downfalls of theology including that it tends to breed competition and only focuses on details about God. That being the case, I do not think that either of these are useless or necessarily uninteresting for that matter, but instead, could become idolized and create a sort of spiritual myopia, which would be dangerous. And of course, I have read some theology books and will likely read more and find them beneficial. However, I am still convinced that there must be something to knowing God that goes beyond my own efforts to learn.

In short, I do not want to take ideas too seriously that do not need to be taken seriously. I would bet that some of the ideas floating around in the theological world are meaningless and too complex for their own good, and do not think that I would be betting on the wrong horse. If I want to waste time on ideas, why would I not just read philosophy, which, to put it in a personified sort of way, does not take itself so seriously and succeeds in that non-seriousness? For these reasons, I might find myself more inclined to pick up a philosophy book before a theology one, at least, in some cases.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Saint Lucy

It's been awhile since I posted a "digital artwork" on here. Today's feature is an icon of Saint Lucy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Saucy Defense of Rhetoric: The Escape Artist of Prose Style


Since when did so many writers become recalcitrant about paying attention to their prose? Publishing information is easy; a soul-less robot can do that. Even if there is a mountain of meaning, a soupçon of style is nothing more than unsatisfying. Indeed, it is quite a shame (sham?) how 'rhetoric' has become a pejorative term. In Jane Austen's time, the conflict existed between pride and prejudice; now the conflict lies between pejorative and prejudice. Rhetoric, the modern pejorative, has unfairly been equated with prejudice. "Just as prejudice lacks reason or experience, rhetoric is also void of substance," I can hear the analytic variety loudly roaring.

What the analyst does not understand, however, is that rhetoric is no mere gymnast, but rather, an escape artist. The analytic crowd can complain as long as they please about the somersaults, tumbling, and aerials, but they are not seeing the full performance. The rhetorician has meaning as its gymnastics and prose style as its escape. The analyst has no gymnastics and no escape whatsoever, as they sit at their desk looking oh so serious, writing down their dull words with an even duller pencil. The rhetorician escapes the binding seriousness of the analyst, though the latter only sees imbecilic gesticulations.

I can think of no better example than music to defend my zeal for rhetoric. Suppose that the no-nonsense analyst has a very complex sequence of thoughts, though they lack a writing style that reads well. Second, I invite the reader to entertain the idea of Beethoven playing a complex piece on his piano where the notes simply do not go well together. It does not matter how hard the analyst thought, or how tricky a composition Beethoven might have played, because the first does not make for enjoyable reading and the second simply hurts the ears.

Why it has become so difficult to find something enjoyable to read has me bewildered. Those who do not take pleasure in reading are often blamed for their lack of literary vigor, but perhaps the blame ought to be shifted. If the writer does not give quality time to their prose, there is little reason for them to deserve time from any reader. Contrary to popular opinion, I would say that reading is only as boring as its writers are, and not vice-versa.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Epistemology of Magnetic Resource Imaging, or, the Futility of Empiricism

The plausibility of the idea that the brain has different sections which serve different functions, as well as the objectivity of how these sections are to be referred to, are questionable matters. First of all, science is defined as “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation” (Dictionary.com; emphasis mine). The plain truth of the matter is that nobody has actually seen a functioning brain in itself. The closest humans have come to achieving such observation is through technology such as magnetic resource imaging (MRI). But the results these scanners render are not true access to the brains themselves; they are mere images. This is not some abstract, philosophic notion that has no practical utility, as some scientists themselves have affirmed this attitude. To substantiate this claim, I would like to provide a quotation from neuroradiologist Mario Mastroianis: “The images pretend a precision and objectivity which is not really there” (Burri 375; emphasis mine).

Moreover, whose observation counts in obtaining scientific knowledge? It seems to me that there are two main types of actants who can achieve such observation in the first place: laypersons and the scientists themselves. Considering techniques which attempt to understand the brain, whether that is through MRI scans or otherwise, it is the scientists who have access to these methods, not laypersons. With this observation, the question becomes one of whose narrative is more trustworthy: that of personal experience and accumulation of information or secondary information and interpretation of that information. If personal experience is more trustworthy (i.e. empiricism), this is of course problematic for laypersons because such people probably do not have the time or resources to practice science ‘properly,’ at least, to the standards of the scientific community at large. For scientists, however, this is not a problem because they are the ones publishing the accounts of their practices and observations, and are the ones who the laypersons are told to trust. This is to say that laypersons are on the receiving end of the second narrative I mentioned, meaning that laypersons receive secondary information and must interpret that information as laypersons. This means that laypersons are not using empiricist methods to understand phenomena that are meant to be understood empirically. In the case of what a patient is told about their brain, they do not get to see it for themselves, and based on Mastroianis’ quotation, neither do scientists. Another problem is that scientists have paradigms by which their thought collectives interpret and explain their findings. Unless a layperson has a penchant for autonomous study, chances are high that their interpretations of scientific information do not meet the standards of the scientific community.

APPENDIX: I don't know if that word, 'appendix,' actually applies here because this is certainly not a book, but anyway, this is a section from my Fringes and Folkways paper that I've mentioned on here at least once or twice before. I posted some other parts from the paper here, and here, and ... here. More to the point, in this piece I am not arguing for some anti-science or anti-healthcare attitude, though I understand it may read like that, unfortunately. Rather, this is a questioning of taken for granted assumptions about technology, and an exposé of some of the problems that empiricism suffers. Under empiricism, as I have outlined it in relation to technology and healthcare, there is neither sufficient evidence to trust ones judgments about their own health nor to trust that of a medical professional, both of which I think many of us would agree are dangerous. Also, appendix is a pretty apropos term for a short article about a health-related topic!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Aesthete Observations

My legs are very sore today, and if there's one reason I won't sleep tonight, it's because my legs are a little sore today.

The hours of the past three days have not been what I quite expected, though I take delight in them. My world feels open to me even if the world itself is not. What a difference 'the' makes! When I think about it, I am, in actuality, nothing more than an unsuccessful rebel. For what I rebel against is not so much of importance as the truth in itself that I rebel without being granted the very success which drives my rebellion. But here I am sounding rather tautological and wish to write no more.

"What am I waiting for?" This is such a common question and prima facie it appears to be one that should have been answered a very long time ago. The question almost brings to surface a kind of angst or despair. The questioner understands that they are waiting and wants to do something to change their situation; and yet, either they sincerely don't know what they're waiting for or they simply don't know how to get what they want. When I ask the question, I'm asking it in the former sense. I don't know what I'm waiting for. Even my own world seems out of place, as if every planet in the galaxy had lost its sense of being in the cosmos, making for a failed solar system. But who am I saying any of this, I don't even know anything about space - I just try to enjoy what's beautiful. If only I didn't sound so hedonistic with that last thought. Of course, there's nothing wrong in and of itself with being happy, but to be honest, I worry about the value of those things that do make me happy. I'm either afraid of my own insipidity or of my interest in the insipid.

I feel like nothing quite reaches the ideal, whatever that ideal may even be. What ought I to do when I count it all as meaningless? I see the options before me in a predictable fashion, all of which look like yesterday, as if they were passé articles of clothing hanging on a rack. Of course, truly it can't all be meaningless if I believe that some options are better than others, which is to imply morally that some options have a greater meaning of goodness compared to others. On the other hand, what happens when it's all over, at the equal sign, in the ultimate? I don't know for certain and the uncertainty keeps me in suspense.

I guess there's no obvious moral dilemma here at all. It's just the realization that I could do anything, and for whatever reason, it wouldn't be enough. The continuance of existenz seems to spark a sort of insatiable striving. Is this attitude void of contentment though? Strangely enough, it seems that giving up would resolve the problem. Who would give up for the sake of contentment though? It's not an attitude or act that receives social praise.

Then again (and again and again and again), nothing on my mind at the moment is furnished with grandeur. I'm thinking about the most ordinary of things, the things I would usually delight in, but my appetite has shifted. Like I said, I don't know what I'm waiting for, so I guess I've written a whole lot about 'nothing.' Nothing less than absurdity.

When I say that something is among my best memories, am I referring to the past situation in itself or am I only referring to the memory of that past situation - a sort of reconfiguration? I'm telling myself that none of this is mere claptrap. Am I safe in the none?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Four Years Since Bible School

It's been about four years since I departed from Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre, which I attended from September 2012 - May 2013. In the immediate aftermath, I remember looking at the yearbook quite a lot. Though such a preoccupation with this particular past has fluctuated over time, lately I've been returning to it. Arguably the most engrossing of the implications which make up the yearbook would be the notes/signings. The wording of some of the notes make it sound like familiarity would never waver. I believed that and it seems that others did, too. Of course, being cities, provinces, countries, etc. apart can make contact more difficult, I have found out. Related to this, I wonder how to classify the group I was immersed in: primary or secondary? The answer appears to be rather ambivalent. That being the case, this entry is not intended to read like some mnemotechnics that purely brims of confusion and forlornness.

I thought it might be fun to jog my brain for some highlights from the year. Should I use bullet points or paragraph form? Bullet points are easy. I'll go with bullet points. Also, things are warming up here in Saskatoon, hence my difficulty with doing much of anything at the moment. I've been wanting to write something more deep but nothing comes to mind. I tend to get headaches from the warmth, so ... I can't believe I've written this much given my sapped state ... where was I? ... I'm not sure. I should go outside or something. But then again. Bullet points - that's what it was about. Actually, I kind of like the look of numbers more.

***

I visited Seattle and words can't explain the experience.

I chose Ecclesiastes 5:2 as my Bible verse in the yearbook, and to be honest, I probably would have chosen a verse from Ecclesiastes if I was in the same situation now.

I was on the yearbook team. My best pages were for Missions Fest and my best drawing was the emotional candle tree. I think this was a good preamble to future efforts I joined like Indie Vision Music and In Medias Res. Males have proven to be in the minority for both yearbook team and the In Medias Res editorial board. C'mon, men! I know some of you are writerly and artistic ... right? Honestly, I don't care if men join or not and I was just trying to be humorous, so enough of that ...

I don't wear fake glasses as often anymore. That whole not getting as-bad-of-headaches thing becomes more important to you than aesthetics after awhile.

My friend, Chad, encouraged me to become a social worker and he was pivotal to my interest in philosophy. The dream of being a social worker was alive on and off throughout the year. Though I did not pursue the route of the social worker after all, I did declare sociology as my major, which is of course related. In addition, I also declared philosophy as my minor and am in the process of completing the last class for my undergraduate degree. Sociology and philosophy truly make for a wonderful combination.

My hair is usually not as wavy. I'm really nailing this whole heat-is-bad point, aren't I?
EDIT: Numbers look just terrible.