Thank you, Mr. Jackson

This morning when I woke up, I heard on the news that Farrah Fawcett had died. I have to say that it really didn’t affect me, because I’m a) female, and b) I was too young when Charlie’s Angels was on to remember anything about her being on the show. I think that My earliest memories of the show was when they added Shelly Hack. But this is all besides the point. My first thought, when I heard that she died, wasn’t “how sad” or even ” I wonder if she died with her family around?”. It was, in typical ghoul fashion, “who’s next?”. They say that celebrities die in threes — the old guy you thought was already dead, the obscure one and then the one from left field — that is, the person you’d least expect to die suddenly. I quicly went over the lists of celebrities in my head — Is Debbie Reynolds still around? When’s the last time Lindsay Lohan made the headlines? Wow, I haven’t seen Danny Devito in a movie lately, is Richard Branson still planning to try to go to space? That’s dangerous, right?… Then I thought about the celebrities that I’d appreciate it if they died, and then the ones that I’d really feel bad if they did, like Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart (why do we always say their names together, as if they’re a matched set or something) or George Romero. But then, my sister called me to say that Michael Jackson was in the hospital. I got kind of worried. I guess for my generation, Michael Jackson was about as big as you can get. If God was to go into music, he’d be Michael Jackson. I wouldn’t say that I had the Jackson bug bad back in ’83, but I was by no means immune. I definitely sported a “Beat It” t-shirt back in the day. I stayed up late to watch the premiere of “Thriller” on NBC’s late night video show (the name of the show escapes me suddenly). I have a copy of Moonwalker. So, although I’m reluctant to admit it, I am a fan. My thought, when my sister called me wasn’t he’d make the three — it was, “My god, I hope he’s ok”. It seems that there are people that you don’t want to die. It’s weird, that when my sister called me again to say that he had, I didn’t believe it. I kind of still don’t. How can Michael Jackson be dead? I can imagine the deaths of just about anyone else — my parents, some of my philosophy professors, that dude from my favoritte band, Kurt Vonnegut, even myself (and as an existentialist, I am quite prepared for that), but not him. There are some people that seem to exist in some other realm, somewhere where other people like me and everyone else don’t. Some sort of land of immortals. Like once you reach a level of popularity you become transcendent. I don’t know. It’s really hitting me more weird than I expected it to. I feel kind of bad for eagerly awaiting the next celebrity death this morning. I just feel kind of bad altogether. I’m not going to say anything more than to thank Mr. Jackson for putting out some of the most infectious music that has ever been given to the human race (and I mean that in a good way). I’ve never seen kids get up and dance to any other music as quickly as I’ve seen kids spring to their feet the instant someone puts on “Billie Jean”.

An Opinion From A Meat-eating Non-vegan

For My money, the best thing to happen to vegans is the factory farm. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t hear someone, on the radio, on TV or in my face prattling on about how bad it is that we still live in a world where people still eat meat. What nonsense. I’ve noticed lately, that this sentiment seems to be spreading. I see a whole crop (yes, I meant to use the word crop — totally intentional) of anti-meat eating business out there. Books like Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, (and who can forget that wonderful Skinny Bitch?) movies like Food, Inc., websites like “Meet your Meat”, philosophy professors (in general), and all those other folks who like to say that they can’t eat anyting with a face or experiences pain (there are two really good dirty commants there, but I’ll ignore them for now). I don’t think that in all of my lifetime that I’ve ever heard the word “organic” as much as I’ve heard in the past six months. I’m trying hard not to think that Obama has something to do with all this health talk. But it does seem a little more than coincidental. I heard it said before, but the standard cud-chewers litany goes a little like this: if people had to render their own meat, the wouldn’t eat meat. This suggests that, for most people, having to look a cow in those big, dumb, eyes before you take him out to devour his muscle would turn even the most die-hard meat eater into a sniveling apologist for every person who ever ate an animal’s flesh. There’s the othre point that if we saw what goes on in the factory, none of us would want to eat meat (that’s why they like to pull out the pictures of veal calves. It’s funny, now that I’m thinking about it somewhat, that so many people who are plant eaters are also pro-choice. They are unphased by pictures of dead, aborted fetuses, but moved to action seeing a chicken in a cage. I’m not trying to open up that can of worms, but it is something worth thinking about.) I think that, at least on the first part, that they are wrong. I cannot say that having to kill my own food would turn me against eating meat. In fact, for some people, it has the opposite effect. Until quite recently, many people lived on farms, or at least had more to do with where their food came fromm other than waiting for it to be delivered in 30 minutes or less. For some of us, we are a generation or two from people who had to kill their own meals, at least from time to time. People who are raised on farms know that the animals amy be cute and cuddly when they are young, but they are not pets. There is s reason why you have cows or pigs or chickens on a farm — one day, you will be eating them. The ast of killing one’s dinner is, of course, not for everyone. And we’ve all heard the stories from people who were raised on farms who (usually when they were kids) spirited away papa’s best tom turkey before it became Thanksgiving dinner. The story usually ends up that the kid eventually wins over the family, and they have a wonderful, cruelty-free vegetable dinner (I’m not saying that these stories are made up, but they do tend to sound the same. All I’m saying). If you don’t want to kill your own food, don’t. I’m not going to question anyone’s manhood if they don’t or can’t. What I’m saying is, is that for every person who hid the chickens from grandma so she couldn’t wring their necks, there is a Ted Nugent, who gleefully hunts his food with a bow and arrow! By the way, a Time Magazine article called “Cow-Pooling” (June 15, 2009) shows the new “trend” in meat eating — families who buy meat directly from the farmer. A woman who was profiled for the piece called this practice “inspirational”. They say that the meat is better quality and it allows people to get to know the farmer who is raising their meat, so it eliminates the potential yuck factor in that knowing the farmer means seeing where the meat was raised and more importantly, rendered for human consumption. As for the second point, that the conditions under which meat is made meat, there’s a point there. I do have a slight queesiness when I look at the label of my ground beef, and it reads, “product of Canada, Mexico and USA”. It’s a little unnerving when you don’t know exactly from where your food comes from. Especially when it is a mix of every cow from here to wherever. I’ll cede the point that there is a problem with the fact that most Americans don’t know how to provide for themselves (myself included), and that we are too far removed from the food-making process. I think this is why there are people who are revolted by the meat industry. We should be. It’s disgusting how we get our food — meat and vegetable. But, I don’t think that that’s enough to give up eating meat. The fact that cows are made to eat other sick cows or that chickens are pumped up with hormones to the point that they are all breast meat can be remedied. I heard in a movie, it was a pretty shitty movie, but a character said to another that she thought that her friends were vegetarians because they’re afraid of death. I don’t think that that’s too far off. The fact that, in order to get meat, something has to die, and the fact that something does does not sit well with alot of people. Maybe the problem really does have something to with death. Death, no matter how you pull it off, has some amount of brutality to it (some may say it is the fact that things die that makes death brutal, regardless of the circumstances). I think that some people see becoming another animal’s meal as especially unbecoming of a creature. It’s kind of a low reason to die. But if we look around, that’s the reason why I’d say the majority of animals go. If you ask me, a lower reason to die would be that some asshole who runs your government decides that he wants to invade another country, so he send a bunch of people to go fight his war for him — compared to that, nourshing another animal seems like a downright noble reason to die. I’m politicizing here. Sorry. What I think is happening in the mind of my vegan planet earthers is a very noble, albeit misguided (maybe a little too simplified) notion of human nature. Most people that I know who object to eating meat on moral grounds are generally optimistic people. They tend to see the good in people. (or say that they do). I think that they see eating meat as a brutal practice that is done by brutal animals (although you may be hard pressed to get then to admit that any animal is actually “brutal”). They see people, because of their intelligence and capacity for self improvement, as better than what we often are. So, if we get rid of those parts of us that are brutal, we will be better people. If we stop eating meat, we will end world hunger, save the whales, end the genocide in Darfur, end the oppressive patriarchy that enslaves women and brown people across the world, and of course, spread a wave of socialism that will lift each person up and oppress no one. There will be peace finally if everyone would stop eating meat. Somehow I feel that even if everyone decided that we sould reduce our carbon footprint and stop eating meat tomorrow, that …. well.

The Art Of Not Paying Attention

I was reading through an issue of Entertainment Weekly, when I read that The Seventh Seal was being released as part of the Criterion Collection. I know that the movie is supposed to be about life and death, and God and all that, and that it’s one of those movies that I must see before I die — and I have seen it — it’s just that I don’t remember a damn thing of what I saw. What makes matters worse, is that I watched it in a philosophy class. You see, since I was in a philosophy class, I was supposed to be paying attention. And I thought that I was. Well, truth be told, I payed attention long enough to remember that there was some dude who played chess with Death (who, by the way, looked a little like Observer from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Maybe that was no accident.), and that they’re all dead at the end. It’s not that the movie ended on a sour note that did it, either. Hell, I like bummer movies. And It’s not because it was in black and white. A few of my favorite movies were shot in black and white including Night of the Living Dead and The Bad Seed, both of which end with the deaths of the primary characters. And it wasn’t because the movie was long and boring either. I made it through taking philosophy classes — the realm of the tedious, sleep-inducing lecture. But a strange thing happened while I was watching this movie. It’s like I was never there to see it. Physically I was there, but my mind decided to take the day off (or my experience machine had powered down for repairs or whatever), because anything that happened between the opening credits and when the screen went dark at the end is a blur. (Which, consequently, is kind of the same thing that happened to me when I saw Donnie Darko. The opening credits started, and then everything went black.) Even now when I try to think about what I saw, all I can remember is how much a young Max von Sydow doesn’t look at all like Stellan Skarsgard, who played a younger Father Merin in the prequel(s) to The Exorcist. I remember more about those anal rapes they call the prequels to The Exorcist than I remember anything about an important film of philosophical significance. I know that this movie has lots of philosophical significance and that it is one of those movies that I’m supposed to see before I die, but I don’t really feel that bad for having missed it. I feel bad for lots of things (some of which I’m sure to tell in detail in future posts), but I don’t feel even the slightest bit of guilt for publically saying that I don’t remember anything about this movie. Which makes me think of something that a psych 101 professor said. He said that, for most people, childhood, when they think back on their own, is filled with many memories. They remember trips to the Grand Canyon with the folks, or fishing Lake Erie with granddad (wait, would that be safe?), or having their cheeks pinched past the point of human endurance by grandma’s knitting club (those women could have been guards at Gitmo). The point is, is that for most people, their childhood supplies them with many memories. Many memories of childhood, my psych prof said, is a pretty good indicator that a person had a fairly good childhood. But, for some people, he said, when asked about what they remember about being a kid, they usually say, “nothing”. My professor said that people who truly had a bad childhood don’t remember much, or what they do remember is sketchy at best. The point is, is that there was nothing that happened (while they were kids) that was worth remembering. That’s why they draw a blank when they thing back to when they were young. (And until then, I thought that everyone’s minds suddenly went blank after they reached four.) Anyway, I think that the same thing happened when I saw The Seventh Seal. I really didn’t see anything worth remembering. I’m not saying that the movie sucked (after all, it’s foreign — and that means that it has to be good), but what I am saying is that I already saw Bill and Ted play Twister with Death much more entertainingly. Once you’ve seen the knock-offs, it’s a little hard to appreciate the original. Like when you hear Beatles covers, and then hear the originals… kind of like that. So maybe what I am is a little jaded. Or maybe a little stupid.

While On A Walk

I HEARD THAT NIETZSCHE said that most (good) philosophy is done while one is on a walk.

That is to say, that getting out into the world does more to stir one’s mind than does sitting in a university, speaking to other people who do no more than echo exactly what we already think or say.

I think that’s true.

Sometimes, however, going out for a walk only results in experiences that only confirm why so many people out there, myself un-excluded, claim that they hate humanity.

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It’s not just a claim. I really do.

I thought that I would try, for god knows for what umpteenth-number time, to rid myself of the practice of seeing things so negatively.

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I thought that I would try to see the bright side of life, as suggested by the Monty Python song.

I think that there must be some higher force at work somewhere in the galaxy, because every time I attempt to see the worthiness of humanity as a whole, my hopes are dashed and I only end up confirming that people, as the Slipknot song says, equals shit.

Why the relentlessly negative and bad attitude towards people, you ask?

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To get back to Nietzsche, I was out for a walk. Nothing monumental, just a short jot before it really got (gets?) hot outside. You see, here, where I live in SoCal, there is no such thing as a gradual climb in the temperature. It’s cool one day, and 101 degrees the next. Go figure.

Anyway, I was out for a walk. Just like Nietzsche wants us to.

My walk kind of started off nice, mostly because I literally  hadn’t been out of the house all week. I gazed at the green grass, deeply inhaled the aroma of fresh-cut lawns, and listened to the chirping birds. I was deep in thought of what I had read the night before, a chapter from Kurt Vonnegut’s Man Without A Country. In the book Vonnegut said that he likes talking to people. I don’t. But I, having newly committed myself to sunny up my personality, decided that I would at least try to enjoy the company of others.

At the very least I could get in some thinking about things philosophically.

 

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DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHTS GOING ON RIGHT HERE

 

So I was out for a walk.

I realized I was enjoying my walk because I wasn’t bothered by anyone else’s company at that time.

…since I was walking alone.

But that’s kind of besides the point.

Now, I know that there are people who, for reasons that only they and their god know, decide that they should shout out things to people walking on the sidewalk or along the road.

I’ve personally never understood this phenomenon.

Well, that’s precisely what happened while I was attempting some Nietzsche-inspired walking.

Usually, if someone says something it’s something incoherent. It’s like the person shouting whatever decided to shout something, but then decides to back down — but only after the words have already left his mouth. It’s almost always a he who does it.

 

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THIS DUDE IS GONNA SAY SOMETHING…I GUARANTEE IT

 

Usually, the words they say aren’t so clear. But his time, it was a loud and clear “fuck you!”

This really left me confused.

Not to mention that it broke my chain of thought.

Now, really. It’s not that the words themselves offended me. They didn’t. I’ve said that particular phrase to other people on more occasions than I care to remind myself. But, usually, at least in the case that I’ve used that particular phrase, the person to whom the comment was directed deserved to have it said to them. I was just walking on the sidewalk.

And when I looked to see who said it, the guy seemed pretty angry, too. He looked really pissed off.

Schopenhauer pissed off.

 

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IMAGINE THIS FACE DRIVING BY SHOUTING “FUCK YOU!” OUT OF THE WINDOW

 

How can I explain what happened to me? I thought, for a moment, that I might have done something to offend the guy in the car. I thought about what I was wearing — just a pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt. That usually doesn’t get people that worked up. I was wearing a backpack, but there’s nothing on my bag I think would upset anyone. I had taken all of my Leftist political patches off of my bag.

Besides, I don’t think by the looks of this guy that he would have noticed if they were still there.

For a few moments, I really thought about why that guy would have said shouted “Fuck You!” at me.

For a moment I wondered if Nietzsche himself manifested in the flesh and shouted “Fuck You!” at me while I was walking?

I actually attempted to figure out if any of the (limited) list of philosophers I know of ever addressed why people feel the need to shout things to people who aren’t doing anything to them. I couldn’t think of any.

Kant probably did. He wrote about everything.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought that there must be some explanation for why this is. Some deep-seeded philosophical need to express one’s ontology by shouting “Fuck You!” at people one doesn’t know.

There is, but I guess that, in the long run, the answer is psychological rather than philosophical.

That means Hume would probably know why.

 

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LOOK AT THIS GUY AND TELL ME HE DIDN’T SHOUT “FUCK YOU!” AT PEOPLE WALKING DOWN THE STREET WHILE HE RODE BY IN HIS CARRIAGE

 

There is some not-so-deep seeded need in some people to yell at people — the more shocking the statement the better. And since you’re in a car, and your intended shockee is walking, you’re long gone before the person ever gets his bearings straight enough for a proper response, whatever that would be.

What would be the proper response? An “ok, thanks buddy” or a “well, good day to you, too”?

I’m guessing that, on this subject at least, philosophers may not have spent any time thinking on why this is so; why people feel compelled to shout things at people walking down the street.

That would mean that at last there is something that philosophers don’t have an opinion about!

 

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ASKING PHILOSOPHERS ABOUT PEOPLE WHO SHOUT “FUCK YOU!” FROM CARS SHUTS UP PHILOSOPHERS BETTER THAN DUCT TAPE

 

So, I guess my queries on the subject are better directed to the headshrinker than to the guy boring his class to death with examples of Gettier problems. Maybe with the proper philosophical insight, we’ll eventually figure out how and why anyone would find the need to shout “Fuck You!” to passersby by way of some epistemic debate or metaphysical claim.

I’m more than certain that some philosopher has some opinion about it.

They can’t leave any subject untarnished by their supposedly expert thoughts about everything.

I never did get those deep thoughts like Nietzsche said I would, though.