Shit Sandwich

I was listening to a review of a cd on NPR. I don’t remember who the band was (nor is it important that I remember). I do, however, remember asking myself why is it that music reviewers seem to think that the only good music is music that sounds like 80s college radio? I figured that the reviewer was probably some dude that most likely went to college in the early 1980s, and that, since that was the music that he came of age to, that he’d have some kind of natural bias towards the music that he listened to what he got high with his dormmates back in 1982. I still find that there is this kind of music snobbery that sticks to the claim that college radion is the only place where you will find music worth listening to. That’s where the real music is, they claim. I can imagine that listening to college-rock sounding music becoming a refuge for someone in the early 80s. On mainstream radio, where the musical tastes of housefraus and high school track coaches dominate, the music world was all Hall and Oates, REO Speedwagon, Night Ranger, and God save us, Howard Jones. College radio, on the other hand, was where you’d find the hallowed ground that gave us The Replacements, REM and Husker Du. I bet that that NPR guy is still lamenting that REM hasn’t made a record (and he probably still says “record” because we all know vinyl is better) that sounds like Murmur in over a decade. I have to admit that I have my own college radio experience. I had, like many a daydreaming underachiever, entertained the idea of spinning wax for a living. I, too, had a radio show at the local junior college. Now that was back in the 90s, when music, after hairbands and the freestyle explosion (I still like freestyle, though), was getting back to something called “quality”. Listening to music wasn’t supposed to be merely for enjoyment (and God forbid anyone listen to anything popular), it was supposed to be provoke thought. I was, like my music, supposed to be serious. No cockrock for me my dear, it’s all Ani DiFranco and Dinosaur, jr. . I coundn’t enjoy C&C Music Factory, and it was strictly forbidden to own a copy of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em — I was to listen only to Eric Matthews and Throwing Muses. If I felt inclined to listen on the rap tip, I could listen to KRS-One or Eric B and Rakim. Because that rap was smart. They say that the 90s are coming back. Some of those who “shaped the decade” are pulling themselves out of mothballed obscurity and dusting off their sometimes painfully out of date aggro-rock and hitting the road. No Doubt, Greenday (ok, they’re still popular), Limp Bizkit, Tool, Jane’s Addiction, NIN… even Creed is planning to rub themselves all over the American music listening public again (as if we missed that). By the way, before anyone gets on that “who the hell are you to talk shit” vibe, I will state right here and now that I am the most important element to the whole music industry — the consumer. My dollar (or lack thereof) determines who stays and who goes. That’s who I am. And that’s why I will talk as much shit as I want to. That said, all this nostalgia, when looking backwards, makes things seem so much better than it was. That’s mostly because back then we convinced ourselves that things were better than it was. We were younger. And being younger makes you the authority of cool. There’s nothing more shattering of that delusion than thumbing through one’s cd sollection and finding a Tonic or a Squirrel Nut Zippers cd. It’s humbling By the way, when I did spin records, I played disco. Of course disco is the epitome of mainstream music. It is, to borrow a title from Depeche Mode, music for the masses. But, as it was the 90s, I was playing disco ironically. The funny thing about nostalgia is that we tend to only look back at the better things. When we do that, we ignore all the things that we once said, “thank God that’s over” about. Unfortunately, this stirs in us the habit of not just looking back, but wishing for a return to the “good times”. It’s kind of like how people talk about the 50s. They say it was a time when things were better, simpler. Meanwhile focusing on the good and making it better than it was ignores the fact the for some people, your good old days was their bad old days. I can’t imagine anyone who got beat up for drinking from the wrong drinking fountain wants to go back to those fabulous fifties. Wishing for the past to return (because back then was better than now) is almost as bad as those who not only wish for the return, but actively re-enact it (I’m not talking about Civil War re-enactments, although I think those are pretty creepy. I’m talking about things like 70s music reviews featuring people like KC of KC and the Sunshine Band (sans the Sunshine Band), and most of the guys from the Tramps. That sort of thing). Living in the past, like that, sort of becomes its own kind of experience machine. It becomes a fortress of solitude within which neither the outside world nor modern music can intrude. We may not literally be climbing into a box with electrodes attached to our brain, but drowning out the present reality while listening to Tragic Kingdom, telling myself that ‘this is what good music is’, is in my own way like hooking up my brain to electrodes and programming for myself a better, more good feeling reality. Actually, I’d be listening to the downward spiral, burning nag champa incense, with the lights turned down low, telling myself ‘ this is what good music is’. Of course, our prima facie comment is to say that my disagreement with the NPR guy is merely a difference of tastes. It is no different than if me and this guy were looking at the Mona Lisa, and he says that he sees a masterpiece while I say that my 8 year-old neighbor Dante can do better. If we scratch the surface a little deeper, to find the philosophy behind our disagreement, we may say that our argument is one of aesthetics. And this is correct. He hears the beauty of a cd that I do not. But, as Susan Sontag tells us (not just her, but plenty of others), any aesthetic judgment shuttles in a statement of ethics as well. It’s soon revealed that any discussion about music, art, etc, pretty much sucks all the way around. we’re either a) headed for a discussion of values, which is difficult enough, or b) we’re talking aesthetics, which is even less tangible. But we can’t ignore tastes. If I say that I listen to the Cure because whenever I hear the song “End”, it “moves” me, I am stating that the song ilicits an emotional response from me whenever I hear it. Tastes may be a matter of emotion (never a favorite topic among philosophers), and unwinnable. That is, emotions are philosophical nonstarters. But there is something else at work besides emotions when I say that I like this or that music. When I say that I like the Cure more than I like Bauhaus (and I do), or if I say that the music of my youth is better than the music that is out now (and I do), what I am saying is that my dog is better than your dog. It’s a matter of tastes, but the assertion is two-fold. It isn’t just a matter of tastes. It’s also a moral statement. In the popular vernacular “good” is often a matter of taste. A good wine, a good movie, even when we judge people (a good looking man or woman, “good” hair, etc), is often subjective or relative. There are people who like red wine and people who only drink white. Some people think that Super Troopers is the best movie ever made. Not everyone agrees that something is good. When we think of art (of which music is a part) we usually speak of things that we see — paintings, sculpture, drawings, etc. We’d say that we see a beautiful painting, or a visually stunning motion picture. In questions of aesthetics, it’s easier to discuss the visual. When we speak of music, good music, we are speaking in terms of beauty — beautiful melody, a beautiful voice… St. Thomas Aquinas says “the beautiful… is that which pleases us upon being seen”. Of course music is not seen (except for those people who say that the literally see colors when they hear music), but I think Aquinas’ statement applies equally to music. Aquinas says that a beautiful object has unity, proportion and clarity. Something that is beautiful is a whole composed of parts. This is also true of music. A composition is comprised of parts. We can say that a song has unity, proportion and clarity. It is said that, to the degree that they are technically what music should be, Mozart’s symphonies are the greatest musical compositions of all time. This is because Mozart’s music has unity, proportion and clarity (to borrow Aquinas’ terminology). Honestly, I’m not a fan. I like the Impressionists. For what it’s worth, I’d pick Satie. But here’s the problem again. Unity, proportionality, and clarity are supposed to be universal standards. But there is (still) disagreement. What about people who say that they don’t like Mozart’s music? What about people who say that they like a composer such as Phillip Glass? What about Yoko Ono fans? Is Aquinas guilty of pushing off his own tastes as universal standards? When I say that some band or music is good or is not good, like trying to convince someone that they’re wasting their time listening to Interpol, or that they should take up listening to the Brothers Johnson, I’m not just saying that the music is good aurally pleasing. I’m alco saying that the music is good for you. Listening to the Brothers Johnson will enhance your life. Listening will make you a better person, and by extension, if everybody listened to it, we’d all be better for it. Of course, Socrates spoke of this when he said that children must be taught the right kind of education for the betterment of the city. According to Socrates ( we all know that everything that is attributed ot having been said by Socrates is really Plato’s opinion, right?), the right kind of education (of which music is a part) produced the right kind of people. This, in turn, contributes to the ideal city. Socrates explains that “music” includes speech and literature (Russell says that we can expand music to include culture generally). Music, for Socrates’ ideal city, serves to enhance the soul. Therefore, the music that we hear must be the right kind to foster the right traits in the individual. Music must encourage qualities such as courage and temperance. Socrates says,” … in the rearingof music is most sovereign? Because rhythm and harmony most of all insinuate themeselves into the inmost part of the soul and most vigorously lay hold of it in bringing grace with them; and they make a man graceful if he is correctly reared, if not, the opposite”. Socrates goes on to say,” … the man properly reared on rhythm and harmony would have the sharpest sense for what’s been left out and what isn’t a fine product of nature… having the right kind of dislikes he would praise the fine things,… and receiving them into his soul, he would be reared on them and become a gentleman”. For the inhabitants of Socrates’ ideal city, music isn’t listened to for pleasure — it serves a greater purpose — to make better people. For this reason, Socrates warns, music must be chosen very carefully. Music, as we know, shapes not only individuals, but can influence an entire culture. As I’m writing this, I am reminding myself that last week celebrated the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, and how the music of the “Woodstock Generation” influenced and shaped our culture (a fact that the Baby Boomers never hesitate to remind those of us who first heard of Sonny Bono when he was elected mayor of Palm Springs). Socrates says that there must be rigid censorship of all music. Music has the potential to enhance the soul, but it can also damage it. Socrates says that Homer (because of his depictions of the gods) must be banned. Music should not encourage people to fear things such as death, or encourage people to laugh too much (a baffoon lacks seriousness). Men should not hear music that makes them weak. That would mean, in our time, that any music by Rob Thomas or Keith Urban would (and should) be banned. I get the feeling that Keith Urban cries… alot. Socrates isn’t wrong, exactly. When Reagan was elected in 1980, there was a push to reclaim what America had lost in the 1970s, which was, in part, due to an era of “sensitive” men, “in touch” with their “feminine” side, like Alan Alda and James Taylor setting the cultural tone for what men should be. As expected, a socially acceptable image of a weakened man led to the election of Jimmy Carter, which directly led to the taking of hostages by Iranian militants at the American embassay in Tehran in 1979. If a culture praises weak music, it will become weak. Likewise, this is why Ozzy Osborne got blamed ofr teen suicides, and Judas Priest got sued for encouraging teens to kill themselves. It’s why Tupac and Marilyn Manson were blamed for corrupting the souls of the youth and encouraging bad behavior. The worry is that by listening to the wrong music, we will nurture the wrong kind of soul and becone the wrong kind of people. Any parent whose child discovered speed metal in the 80s, or gangsta rap in the 90s, or who has a pre-teen daughter who thinks that the Pussycat Dolls are the greatest thing ever, or has a son who went emo two years ago, knows this fear. As Chop Top said in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, “music is my life”. This is true. How many people arThis is whate defined by what kind of music that they listen to? Emos, goths, deadheads, metalheads, punks — all are influenced by music. This is why we play patriotic music on the 4th of July or hymns at Christmastime. We know that Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” stirs the right kind of emotions at the end of a fireworks display. It makes us want to be better Americans. It makes us want to be better people. And this is what the NPR reviewer was saying. So the point is, is that when he says that that college radio sounding band is good music, it’s almost unimportant that I actually enjoy the music that he’s recommending. The point is, is no matter whether I enjoy it or not, the music is good. And even if I don’t think that I benefitted at all from listening to it, I did.

Truth In Fiction

I HAVE THIS thing for DVD commentaries.

I know that the standard procedure is that first, you watch the movie, then you watch with the commentary. I tend to do it the other way around. Sometimes, a commentary is like a guided tour through a movie. Sometimes, when you listen, you find a way to think about the movie differently.

Last weekend, since I was bored and had nothing else to do, I decided to watch A Nightmare On Elm Street. I had listened to the commentary before, but hadn’t really paid much attention to what Wes Craven and the others were saying. I know that writer/director Wes Craven has a degree in philosophy and that he spent some time teaching humanities.

WES CRAVEN

THIS IS WES CRAVEN, THE MOST PHILOSOPHICAL NOT-REGARDED-AS-PHILOSOPHICAL MOVIE DIRECTOR EVER

Funny, so many “philosophers” get all gooed up over the philosophical tone of Woody Allen movies (who hasn’t a philosophy degree), but ignore directors like Wes Craven, who does.

FUNNY THAT A FILM DIRECTOR THAT DOESN'T HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE IN PHILOSOPHY AND DIDN'T TEACH HUMANITIES IS MORE POPULAR THAN A FILM DIRECTOR THAT DOES

FUNNY THAT A FILM DIRECTOR THAT DOESN’T HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE IN PHILOSOPHY AND DIDN’T TEACH HUMANITIES IS MORE POPULAR THAN A FILM DIRECTOR THAT DOES

Arguably, horror movies are fluff, and not to be taken seriously.

However, this is not always the case.

Wes Craven said that A Nightmare On Elm Street has — gasp — a philosophical underpinning. That is, the movie is more than a slasher flick about a melted faced dude with a crappy sweater who kills you in your sleep.

ARE YOU AWARE THAT A SEXY FREDDY KRUEGER HALLOWEEN COSTUME EXISTS?

ARE YOU AWARE THAT A SEXY FREDDY KRUEGER HALLOWEEN COSTUME EXISTS?

The philosophical underpinning of A Nightmare On Elm Street is this: Sleep, says Craven, symbolizes the lack of knowledge of truth.

I suppose that’s a capital “T” truth, which is a pretty big deal in philosophy.

Craven says that to survive, one must be awake, know what the truth is, face it, and deal with it. He says that the Elm Street parents’ unwillingness to deal with Truth causes problems for their children — namely, a rather ominous problem called Freddy Krueger.

Nancy, the film’s heroine, ultimately lives because she stays awake. Nancy faces the Truth, and that’s what saves her life.

At least until part 3 or something.

SOMETIMES THE TRUTH SETS YOU FREE.  .... AND BY "FREE" WE MEAN DEATH

SOMETIMES THE TRUTH SETS YOU FREE.
…. AND BY “FREE” WE MEAN DEATH

The idea of dealing and seeking truth (oops, Truth) is a grand tradition, not just in philosophy, but culturally. in the New Testament, John 8:32 reads, ” You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. Theologians and philosophers believe Truth is essential for knowledge.

Philosophers say, to say that we truly “know” something, it must also (actually) be True.

For instance, if I claim that I know there’s a photograph of a sexy guy eating chocolate, there must actually be a sexy man eating chocolate for my claim to be true.

The corresponding image to my claim must be something like this:

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Instead of this:

NO OFFENSE TO THE MAN IN THE PHOTO.  BUT YOU GET THE IDEA.

NO OFFENSE TO THE MAN IN THE PHOTO.
BUT YOU GET THE IDEA.

As we see in the real world and on fictional Elm Street, a world with no Truth is a dangerous place to live.

That was difficult to say, given my postmodernist inclinations.

We must know the Truth, even if knowing the Truth isn’t pleasant. In On Truth, Harry G. Frankfurt says, “some people would advise us that there may be realities so frightening, that we would be better off not knowing anything about them.” Frankfurt insists that, no matter what may frighten us about the Truth, it is always better to know (and face) the Truth than to be ignorant of it.

Hiding won’t lessen the danger that we face. If we know the Truth, Frankfurt tells us, we can better deal with the danger. If the parents of Elm Street had told their children what they did, their children would have been equipped to deal with Freddy.

Wait a minute. Did I already tell everybody what the parents did?

No?

This happens.

krueger's death

Ok, here’s a quick summation: Freddy Krueger is a child molester and murderer who, when he is released on a technicality, the parents of his victims exact their own revenge. They burn Krueger alive. Before his death, Krueger makes a deal with demons — in exchange for immortality he agrees to continue killing the children of Elm Street.  

Because the Elm Street parents failed to tell their children the Truth, their children died. That is, except for Nancy, who was determined to find out who was haunting her in her dreams. Frankfurt says that without Truth, we are either wrong or unable to develop opinions about the world ( in the absence of Truth, how are we to think about anything?). Frankfurt says, without Truth we cannot know what is going on in the world. Frankfurt writes that we may be blissfully ignorant for a time, but that blissful ignorance only works for a short while. In the end, it only serves to make matters worse. Ignorance, Frankfurt says, leaves us in the dark.

luke and leia

Likewise, without Truth, the kids of Elm Street are left unprotected in the realm of dreams — in the darkness of their sleep. Like the Bible and Craven, Frankfurt says that the Truth is liberating.

When Nancy realizes that Freddy isn’t real (read: True) he loses his power.

Thinking about all of this, I suddenly had one of thoee moments when you kind of hear your head exploding because you’ve realized what something really means, and I had a single thought — Plato’s Cave. The Allegory of Plato’s Cave, found in Book VII, sec. 1 of Plato’s Republic ( for anyone who might want to look it up) is all about the idea of coming out of the shadows and into the light of Truth.

download (3)

Inside of the cave prisoners are chained up in a way that they can see nothing other than the wall in front of them. They cannot move. A fire burns behind them that casts shadows on the wall in front of them. The prisoners think that the shadows that the see and the echoes of the voices that they hear is how the world really is. If we unchain one of the prisoners, Plato says, and take him out of the cave and into the light, he will be blinded by the sun and overwhelmed by what he sees.

He will initially refuse to believe that the world that he sees around him in the light is the real world. He will attempt to cling to the reality that he has always known (the world of darkness). Eventually, his eyes will adjust to the light and he will see things as they really are. If we take him back into the cave, he will not be able to function in that un-reality. For Plato, the sun equals knowledge. People must be released from the dark (where we are kept ignorant) and brought into the light if we are to see the world as it truly is. This is so, even if what we see is unpleasant.

For Plato, for Wes Craven, and Frankfurt, the Truth can’t really hurt hurt us. The Truth can only help us to deal with the world in a competent, empowered way — well equipped to face whatever comes to harm us.

Even if it takes until the third film in the series for the harm to catch up with us.

Even though the Truth can be unpleasant, it is better to know. It is better to feel the brilliance of the sun — to know the Truth rather than to live governed by irrational fear and error.

AND if you don’t face the Truth, this will happen to you.

Ferris Bueller, You’re My Hero

John Hughes died a couple of weeks ago. Heart attack. That makes me feel old. That is, when one’s idols of their youth start to pop off from the things that killed our grandparents, that oly serves to remind us how old we’re all getting. That the chances of leaving that good-looking corpse gets slimmer and slimmer. I was thinking about how much (back in the 80s) John Hughes movies were, as they say nowadays, the shit. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink, even Some Kind of Wonderful — all classics of 80s teen cinema (and I must say much better in quality than Losin’ It, The Last American Virgin or The Joy of Sex. Yes, there is a movie that shares its title with the Alex Comfort sex manual). I remember when these movies were the hottest thing worth watching, that everybody had their favorite movie from which to cull movie quotes a plenty; “what’s happenin’ hot stuff?”, “you got my doobage?”, “what about prom?!?” “roll ’em up!”…. it goes on, and on. I decided, really because I had nothing better to do, to watch a John Hughes movie. I picked the 1986 Hughes flick, Ferris Bueller’s Day off. That movie, of course contains the sage advice from Ferris, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. The idea I guess, is that I’m supposed to learn the value of carpe dieming from a character that is still in high school. Personally, when I think back to how I was in high school, I remember that I was undre the delusion that I was smarter than the average bear. Thank God that I didn’t follow my own advice! Anyway, I was watching Ferris and co., when it suddenly hit me. Maybe it’s looking through the cynical eyes of someone past puberty, but I realized how horrible Ferris really was. I realized what self-indulgent jerks so many of Hughes’ characters really are! Here’s a taste: Farmer Ted is a date-rapist (he got Jake Ryan’s girlfriend, with Jake’s encouragement, no less, when she was drunk), Andy (Pretty In Pink) was a bitch, who in no way deserved Ducky, and the Griswolds were racists! These people were supposed to be like typical Americans. Yeah, I guess if you live in a world where amazingly enough, everybody is white, and the only minorities you encounter come right out of black acting school .I think, in retrospect, that John Hughes’ American teenager was about as real as Shermer, Illinois. But back to Ferris. I think, of all of Hughes’ main characters (with the possible exception of Kevin McAllister,the kid from Home Alone, who seems to know to set booby traps for intruders better than a seasoned Navy Seal), that Ferris Bueller is Hughes’ biggest selfish ass. Despite the fact that all the “sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads” all adore him and think he’s a “righteous dude”, Ferris, for my two bits, is an asshole. The whole day is devoted to his dicking off. For starters. He doesn’t care if everyone else has to go to school or to work “on a day like this”. Oh, no. It’s all about the fact that Ferris can’t be bothered by responsibility. That’s what other people (like his sister Jeanie) do. He needs a day off! Ferris doesn’t care when his BF Cameron tells him that he’s sick. Ferris doesn’t care about the fact that Cameron’s (seeming abusive) father would certainly kill him if his prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California gets messed up ( and we know that it does). To have his day off, Ferris is wholeheartedly willing to lie to his parents, and to his principal. He pulls his girlfriend out of class (thus depriving her of a day of learning) by faking her grandmother’s death, humiliates a maitre d’ at the restaurant to prove his superiority, and eventually (in a all-eyes-on-me move) commandeers a German Day Parade float. The only time that Ferris shows any kind of remorse for what he does is when he feigns regret so that he can further exploit other people. Now, either Ferris manifests some sort of sociopathic personality disorder (mainly an extrene case of narcissistic personality) or, since I am a philosopher, and neither qualified nor willing to render a psychiatric diagnosis (especially for a character who does not exist), I’m more willing to say that Ferris is an egoist. Egoism, bare boned, is the idea that everyone ought to look after his own interests. This is because we are unable to know anyone else’s needs or motivations. We only really know what we need or what motivates us. Therefore, the egoist says, not only are we restricted to seeing the world from our own point of view, but that (because of this fact) we are morally obligated to act in a manner that benefits ourselves. Happiness is achieved when one acts according to his own rational interests. In short short, egoists practice Kirk’s inversion of Vulcan logic, in that an egoist, like Kirk, believes that the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. But enough Star Trek. The egoist is concerned about others in so far as his concern for others contributes to his own happiness. For example, I give to charity. Sure, I help the poor, but what I really want is pats on the back, maybe some civic award, a chance to meet the president, whatever. The point is,, is the fact that the less fortunate got some help was a bi-product of my wanting to be the center of attention. So when Ferris says to Cameron that the day was really for him, we know that Cameron’s good day was a fortunate consequence to Ferris’ egoist act. It seems that, since the day ended pretty good for everyone (well, Principal Rooney looked like he wasn’t going to enjoy that bus ride), what’s the harm in being selfish, so long as you don’t hurt anybody? The people at school adore Ferris. Their lives are made better by the fact that he exists ( remember, they take up a collection to help him recover from his illness). Cameron finally gets the courage to stand up to his father. That’s good, right? After all, being self-centered is a natural psychological disposition. Spend an afternoon with a chilod under 6 and it’s fairly easy to see that this is the case. Being self- centered, from time to time, does is good. It’s a survival machanism. So, if at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, everyone is happy (especially Ferris — and it is important that Ferris is happy), no harm no foul right? In a way, Ferris is a typical example of an egoist character. In many ways, he’s not unlike Howard Roark, the protagoinist of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. In her description of Roarke, Rand writes: “He is not militant or defiant about his utter selfishness… He has a quiet, irrevocable calm of an iron conviction. No dramatics, no hysteria, no sensitiveness about it – because there are no doubts… A quick, sharp mind, courageous and not afraid to be hurt, has long since grasped and understood completely that the world is not what he is and just exactly what the world is… He will be himself at any cost – the only thing he really wants of life. And, deep inside of him, he knows that he has the ability to win the right to be himself”. Not only is Ferris an egoist, apparently, he’s an Randian Objectivist. I don’t know if this is what John Hughes had in mind when he created Ferris Bueller. I suspect that he did not. But, Ferris is a character who we see does not back down — he lives his life on his own terms. This is why we like Ferris. This is why all the “sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts,” etal. adore him. We know that, deep down, we are Camerons, living a life that Thoreau said is lived in “quiet desperation”, needing our Ferris to come to tell us that there is a lfe out there that we are missing. Hughes said that Ferris isn’t “labored with all the difficulties that everyone else is”. We know that because Jeanine, Ferris’ sister, says that he “gets away” with everything. Ferris is a self-defined man who does not allow the obstacle of other people get in his way. Rand describes 3 fundamental values of man: reason, purpose, and self-esteem. Co-star Ben Stein described Ferris as having an “inner mobility” and “inner sense of freedom and self-confidence”. Stein’s description also falls in line with Rand’s values. Ferris, is as Rand’s ethics describes, a man who lives for his own sake — is an end onto himself. The achievement of his happiness is his greates moral purpose in life. Ben Stein claims, however, that Ferris is not in it for himself. He is a great friend, Stein says, because he helps Cameron to liberate himself. I say this may be true, but as an egoist is sure to point out, Cameron’s liberation is but a happy accident. A smart egoist knows that he cannot and should not prance about waving his egoism in everyone’s faces (mostly for fear of being mistaken for an egotist, which is another individual altogether). Ferris, like many egoists, is very clever. Brian Medlin says that egoism has one, big problem — namely that it is self-defeating. The only way that one can be a successful egoist is if one is closeted about it. Doing so supposedly also undermines egoism, as a good moral theory is one that we should be able to make public. Medlin writes, ” what is he when he urges upon his audience that they should observe his own interests and those alone? Is he not acting contrary to the egoist principle? It cannot be to his advantage to convince them, for seizing always their own advantage they will impair his”. So, if Medlin is correct, Ferris could not ring up Cameron and say, ” hey Cam, as an egoist, I’m going to tke the day off. I’m going to spend the entire day devoted to pleasing me, and I’m going to exploit you and Sloane along the way. Wanna come along? By the way, bring your dad’s car”. This would not work, Medlin claims, because no one wants to live in a world where people only look after themselves. (And therefore, we toss out egoism). But, the key is is that exploiting others doesn’t always mean that they are harmed. Really. Especially if you keep it a secret that that is what you are doing. So when Ferris borrows Cameron’s pop’s car, it’s outwardly for Sloane. When Ferris humiliates the maitre d’, it’s because he’s putting a snooty butthole in his place. When Ferris lip-syncs to “Twist and Shout” on the float, he’s showing Cameron something good that day. The fact that Ferris was Ferris’ main motivation didn’t mean that others had to get hurt. Medlin and other haters tend to act as if being an egoist means that you’re somewhere near the Marquis de Sade in how you treat others. Not so. The trick is that you don’t go waving your egoist banner everywhere. If you have to tell other people that you’re a Kantian, so be it. Just as longs as everyone (especially you) is happy. If you are successful, you can get exactly what you want, while everyone else thinks you’re a righteous dude. All it takes it a little bit of obfuscation. And because no one admits that we’re all in it for ourselves, everyone is happy. Especially Ferris. BTW: anyone get the feeling that Cameron didn’t show the next day at school? or the next… or the next….