I Promised Someone That I’d Write A Chapter of My Book About How Much I Hate Him, but for Reasons Better Left Unsaid, I’ll Merely Suggest It Here

I think that, in all of this writing, I’ve forgotten to ask myself one very important question — why am I doing this at all? I was talking with my sister some time ago, and during our conversation, she said that anyone over any age ending with “teen” is too old to spend time tweeting, myspacing, or blogging. Since I am way over any age ending with teen, I naturally took offense to her comment. And, true to form, I kept my mouth shut. But that got me thinking… There has to be some reason why I’m doing this. And what my sister said is true — there are people that are way too old to be spending otherwise productive time telling the world what they’re doing right at this moment — which is usually something not worth writing about, let alone even telling someone in an actual conversation. I mean, there is really no need that anyone know what Dave Matthews thinks about snail farts (he did this in a tweet). So I’m back to the question, why? Am I that much of an egotist that I feel that anyone else needs to know what I think about anything? Or, do I really have something valuable to say? I’d like to feel that my postion here, is that latter. I do feel that there is something that I might be able to do that might — well, help. I know how incredibly egotistical that statement was. It is, and I wholheartedly cop to the fact that I am fairly egotistical. And like so may of my egotistical brethern, I’ve decided that what I need to do is write a book. I realize that there are a fair number of people my age who believe that there is some great American novel crammed up inside their head somewhere. Most of us get by entertaining the idea that we’re frustrated writers without ever committing ink to page. And I admit, entertaining the idea that I have something to say that is also worth reading is a little more than arrogant. But that’s me — the frustrated would-be writer who thinks that there’s some great thing in my head that only needs to come out. And it will be brilliant. Which leads me to this — this blog. And of course, it leads to my subject of choice — philosophy. We’ve all seen that this is a real winner of a subject. Of all the subjects in the world, my “calling” is to write about something that few people know and even fewer people care about. I know that the general attitude towards philosophy is negative. To a great degree, that attitude is well-deserved. Those who practice the philosophic arts are seen as arrogant overthinkers who prattle on about stuff that means nothing to no one, or they’re the masters of overanalyzing the obvious. To that charge, I don’t disagree. I’ve often struggled with the feeling that what I was studying was unproductive and useless ( I’ve, from time to time, used the phrase “intellectual masturbation” to describe what a great deal of philosophers do). Philosophy was spending too much time thinking about things that people, real people, don’t care about. Even if people do care — does it matter? Does any of it matter beyond that halls of academia? That was the thought that I held and shared with my fellow students in my most cynical moments, when I felt that what I was doing — something that I considered to be a part of who I am — was meaningless, useless, and unrewarding. I had to figure out why I and the entire world felt the way that we do about looking at the world philosophically. For me, it was something of an application problem. That is, I couldn’t make the connection between what I was studying and what I saw when I stepped out of class. I couldn’t see philosophy at work on the street level. The stuff that I was reading in class was clean and elegant, and most of all consistent — it didn’t reflect anything that I experienced in the world — where things are messy and muddled and life forces you to not do or think the same way all of the time. In the classroom, there’s no real welcome for the dreadfully messy and inconsistent people that I lived with, chatted up in line at Walmart, and talked to at bus stops who hadn’t heard of Descartes or Frege and were in no way interested in learning how to construct a logically valid derivation. They didn’t care, so I stopped caring. And because of that, I became increasingly frustrated with what I was studying. I was fed up with arguments and well-formed theories, and fed up with my fellow students and professors who seemed to not share my point of view. I kept coming back to that question: what use is all of this? I thought that I got some bad advice from a professor who suggested that I take a break from philosophy (since I had grown to hate it so thoroughly). I thought that there would be some sort of higher brained solution to solving my problem. That he would say to meditate or channel the spirit of Hume or something along those lines. No, it was just take a break. Well, being someone who just can’t let anything go (like what they say about Jennifer Aniston), I didn’t take a break completely, but I did long enough to get a grip on what I wanted to see — I wanted to see what I was learning on the street. I wanted to see it where I lived. Eventually, I realized that I was seeing it all along. I had blinded myself by thinking (or rather believing) that there was no connection between what was in the book and what is in the world. This isn’t uncommon. I had fallen victim to a bad case of academiaitis. I thought that philosophy was for academics, so guess where I saw it? Right. But it’s everywhere. It’s in the music we listen to, on the TV we watch, in movies (and not just Woody Allen ones), in our attitudes and outlooks on life, sex, religion, mortality and morality. It’s in our favourite movie quotes, song lyrics, and everyday phrases. That’s why I have this blog. That is why I like (not love) studying philosophy. I had heard somewhere that some physicist said that if you can’t explain a scientific theory to an eight year old, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Well, it’s not quantum physics, but the same holds true for philosophy. We’ve, meaning the academics, have held all this learning too close to our own breasts. We’ve forgotten who all of this is for — to make the world a little more easy to figure out for everyone else, not just for ourselves. And if we can’t explain it to others who aren’t “like us”, then we don’t know what we’re talking about. Instead of poo-pooing the notion that this stuff can and should be made easy (so easy in fact that you can learn it from watching an episode of Magnum P.I.), I feel that this is what my calling truly is. I know that, by doing this, I may be taking on more than I can do. I still say that I’m no philosopher ( not just because of a lack of qualifications, but also to call myself one seems a little more than slightly pretentious). My goal here is to create something at the very least “philosophic” — something that those people who, like me, couldn’t see it, will — if not learn from, atl least get a slight kick from reading what I have to say. it may noy bear the official seal Philosophy, but I think that my will is good. And for that, Kant would be pleased. If I succeed, I’ll convince some that it isn’t all so useless. If I fail, well, as Nietzsche said, “what does not kill me makes me stronger”.

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