While On A Walk

I heard that Nietzsche said that most (good) philosophy is done while one is walking. 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 you 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 unexcluded, claim that they hate humanity. I thought that I would try, for god knows how many umpteeth time, to rid myself of the practice of seeing things so negatively. 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 bad attitude today? 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 in SoCal, there is no such thing as a gradual climb in the temperature. It’s cool one day, and 101 out the next. Go figure. But anyway, I was out for a walk. Which kond of started off nice because I hadn’t literallly been out of the house all week. I was thinking of what I had read the night before (which would be last night) in Kurt Vonnegut’s book, Man Without A Country. He said that He likes talking to people. I don’t. But I, having newly committed myself to sunnying up my personality, decided that I would at least try to enjoy the company of others. So I was walking. Well, I wasn’t enjoying 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 hapened while I was walking. Usually it’s something incoherent. It’s like the person decided to shout something, but then decides to back down — but only after the words have already left his mouth. By the way, it’s almost always a he who does 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 that I have. But, usually, at least in the case that I’ve used that phrase, the person to whom the comment was directed deserved to have it said to them. I was just walking. And when I looked to see who said it, the guy seemed pretty angry, too. He looked really pissed off. How can I explain that? I thought, for a moment, that I might have done something to offend the guy. 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 that that I think would upset anyone. I took all of my anti-Bush patches off after the election. 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, no, shouted it. Seeing that I’ve been programmed to think that there is a philosophical angle to be had in everything, I actually attempted to flip through the (limited) list of philosophers in my head to see if any of them 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. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that there must be some explanation for why this is. There is, but I guess that, in the long run, the answer is psychological rather than philosophical. 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 be mum on exactly why this is so, that is, why people feel compelled to shout things at people walking down the street. (Which would mean that at last there is something that philosophers don’t have an opinion about!) So, I guess my queries on the subject are better directed to the headshrinker than to the guy in the front of the class boring his class to death with examples of Gettier problems. I don’t see how anyone would find a way to worm the need to shout “fuck you!” to passersby into some epistemic debate or metaphysical claim about the existence of monads. But I’m certain that some philosopher has some opinion about why people do. They can’t leave any subject untarnished by their (expert) thoughts about everything. Whatever.

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