MY RESTING BITCH FACE (aka, I look like Schopenhauer)

I REMEMBER I ONE DAY while I was walking down the street……

I usually spend my time while walking thinking about current events or my daily philosophical musings, but that day I wasn’t really thinking of anything in particular. I was kinda minding my own business.  As I was not thinking about anything in particular, I walked by a guy from the telephone company working on some telephone lines.

As I passed by. minding my own business, the telephone worker guy exclaimed, “Damn! You look like you just killed somebody!”

I look like I killed somebody?!?!? But this is how I always look.

I mean, It’s my face.

Apparently, despite my inner mood, I always look angry.

Actually, homicidal.

That was the day I discovered I have something called RESTING BITCH FACE.

On the inside, I think I’m thinking happy thoughts, but on the outside I look like this:

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I guess if I want to be philosophically correct, I’d say I look less like this

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And more like this:

slavoj-zizek

If I had to put a philosopher’s name to it, I guess you can say I have resting Schopenhauer face.

Although I just posted a couple of pictures of Slavoj Žižek.

Schopenhauer looked like this:

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CLEARLY A HAPPY LAD

 

H.L. Mencken said, “There is no record in history of a happy philosopher.” I guess that’s true. philosophy isn’t known for its appeal to one’s funny bone.  In Plato’s Republic, Socrates says that laughter should be discouraged, in particular, laughter among the  members of the Guardians class.  Plato (as Socrates) writes,

for ordinarily when one abandons himself to violent laughter, his condition provokes a violent reaction.

So… if the father of Western philosophy says we shouldn’t be laughing all the time, it’s not hard to imagine that, for philosophers, resting Schopenhauer face isn’t just a facial expression, but a way of life. THE LIFE OF A PHILOSOPHER IS AN UNHAPPY LIFE. If you want to be a philosopher, you gotta perfect the look of a man who looks like, as a random telephone wire repair man would say, he just killed somebody.

Just look at this batch of philosopher sour pusses!

IMMANUEL KANT:

i-kant

GEORG HEGEL:

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THE SIDE EYE IS ON POINT

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN:

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FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE:

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HE’S NOT SMILING UNDER HIS MUSTACHE

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. 

You can find plenty of pics of Foucault smiling.

 

foucault

 

That half smile on Rousseau’s face is hard to miss…

 

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THE HALF SMILE OF A MAN WHO JUST DITCHED HIS FIVE KIDS

I guess the lesson here is, to be a happy philosopher you have to either abandon your kids or be into BDSM.

Hey, I’m halfway there already!

Anyhoo…. I think I’ve figured out that a life of loving wisdom is, by nature, a fairly unhappy thing.  Finding WISDOM and TRUTH in a world that runs on lies, alternative facts, and truthiness is an often hapless task. It’s not surprising that so many philosophers sport a frown turned upside down. Unfortunately for me, the more years I do this philosopher thing, the more less happy I get.

I think I kinda figured out why:

When I started a Facebook page for my blog (which was an blog for my book — or was it the other way around?) I wanted folks to know that  written philosophy isn’t just for professional philosophers. I wanted people to enjoy reading philosophy. Not exactly all academic level philosophy, but philosophy that would come from anyone who is a fan of all things philosophical. I wanted my blog and my other social media pages to serve as a platform for me and other people who write about philosophical stuff to share their works.

I really need to tweet more.

…and I gotta post more than one picture a month on Instagram.

But, despite my best laid plans, this is the internet and the internet is all about the memes. So, I started posting philosophy memes. It wasn’t long after I started posting memes that I realized that memes generated more likes than written philosophical content.

I had this revelation: MEMES ARE THE ONLY THING THAT GETS LIKES.

Even if it’s philosophy.

So now, I post memes with an occasional (actual philosophy) post. I throw in an original post only occasionally.

BECAUSE ORIGINAL MATERIAL DOES NOT GET LIKES — unless it’s a meme.

13bvgo

 

Here’s what I think: memes killed words on the internet. WORDS. SENTENCES. ACCURACY. COHERENT THOUGHTS….

That’s kinda the stuff that philosophy is all about.

……..And since I’m griping, may I add that people treat comment threads like it’s open mic night at Uncle Fuckety’s Chuckle Hut* and they’re testing their new material for their next Netflix stand-up special.

This situations doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

This has got me feelin’ all

resting-bitch-face

 

I don’t know what made Schopenhauer sport the perpetual stinkeye (as there was no internet or philosophy memes back then)

Wait — we do know. It was Hegel.

…but I know what’s got me giving the Wittgenstein death stare when I walk down the street.

I could be thinking about the current state of philosophy.

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You know, It’s probably nothing. It’s just my face.

Pretty sure it was just Schopenhauer’s face, too.

 

 

 

Nah. It was because of Hegel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I totally stole this phrase from Stewie Griffin (The Family Guy).

I bet Jagger’s never read Swinburne

Have you ever seen the Rolling Stones movie Cocksucker Blues? No? Don’t worry, no one has. The story on the movie goes that the Rolling Stones wanted to make a movie about life on the road, so they hired up a film crew to document (ON FILM) what they saw. Apparently what was filmed was so heinously debaucherous that the Rolling Stones actually went to court to legally prohibit anyone from ever seeing the movie. In a world where many films are marketed as “the movie THEY don’t want you to see” (See: Faces of Death, The Wicker Man (1973), Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom), The Rolling Stones’ Cocksucker Blues is truly that movie.

* for more info on Cocksucker Blues see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocksucker_Blues

You see, the reason why I bothered to bring up the Rolling Stones movie (don’t worry, I’m not going to repeat the title again) is because there are two kinds of unseen things in the world: the things people don’t want you to see, and the things that people (themselves) don’t see.

What am I getting at, right?

Hold on a minute, I’ll make a point soon enough.

I think that every young philosopher starts off with a mission. The mission is always this: I am going to make philosophy popular.

It’s a pretty noble goal, really. But it’s also a terribly lofty one.

I think we’d all agree (most of us, anyway)  that learning to think critically is important and that people should think about and question everything (I conclude this only because I hear at least once a day someone say that there are too many “stupid” people on the planet), but there’s one big problem with wanting to make philosophy popular and actually making philosophy popular. Namely, is anyone out there actually interested in philosophy — you know the kind with a capital P?

I’m not talking about that small “p” philosophy. You know, the stuff that Oprah talks about or some soul-rattling enlightenment you’d find thumbing through a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s The New Earth. I ain’t talking about that. I’m not talking about anything of the “philosophy” you’ll find in the religion/philosophy section at Walden Books (wait, is that even a chain of bookstores anymore?) or on the New York Times best seller list. I’m talking about Russellian definite descriptions, Hegelian alienation, Sartre’s existentialism, Nietzsche’s master and slave morality, Marx’s class struggle, and  Kierkegaard’s leap of faith. I’m talking about Derrida, Foucault, Kant, Hume, Bacon, Rawls, Plato, Descartes, Chomsky, Carnap, Heidegger, Lao-zi, Pascal, Nozick, Rousseau, Ryle, Turing, and Strawson.

THAT kind of philosophy.

And here’s where philosophy hits the brick wall. Here it goes:

Although philosophers won’t admit this, the reason why philosophy isn’t and ain’t gonna be as popular as Oprah or Snooki from Jersey Shore; the reason why you won’t hear a song about philosophy ever be as popular as that “Call Me, Maybe” song is this: philosophy is not entertaining.

Here’s a short quiz. Which would you rather watch? This:

or this:

I think I’m a fairly entertaining person (I better be or I’ve got serious trouble). I’ve been told by at least a few people who I know that I have a sense of humor. And being funny and entertaining,  I thought that my dynamic sense to entertain, coupled with my sense of well-timed snark could (perhaps) at last bring philosophy to the masses. I envisioned myself the Oprah Winfrey of the Bertrand Russell-reading set. I wanted to make philosophy popular — and I used to think that I could.  The thing I realize now is that there is no way on God’s green earth to make philosophy funny, snarky or entertaining (I would emphasize my point by throwing in an “at all” but that would be too definite).

Wait, before you argue my point, allow me to share a philosophy joke.

You might want to grab a bag… just in case.

Question: How many Kantians does it take to change a light bulb?  Answer: Two to change the phenomenal bulb; and one to explain that we might not have actually changed the bulb-an-sich at all.

Did you laugh at all at that? Or are you feeling right about now that you just wasted 48 seconds of your life that you know you’re never getting back? The thing is, philosophers find that joke funny. Now, I know you’re asking, how could someone who laughs at that joke possibly manage to make philosophy entertaining to anyone outside of a lecture hall?

By the way, if you did laugh at that joke, 1) God help you, and 2) you can find more knee-slappers just like that one at: http://consc.net/phil-humor.html.

I know that we really need to think critically, if not philosophically, at the world and our lives in (or is it on?) it. And I know that there is an audience of lovers of wisdom out there (Lord knows that there are countless numbers of Facebook pages dedicated to philosophy, including my own *shameless plug* the Mindless Philosopher), but is it possible to make that audience everybody? Is it possible to make philosophy — capital “P” philosophy — as popular as Oprah or reality shows on MTV?

If not, I’m gonna have to figure out a way to get Alvin Plantinga to snort coke off a groupie’s boobs.

Wait a minute, is there such a thing as a philosophy groupie?

Funny, for a philosopher.

I used to think that I was a funny person. Not exactly Saturday Night Live Eddie Murphy funny or Monty Python funny. Or even Chris Farley funny. But funny. I thought that I was the kind of fellow who could rip off a slightly humorous or even mildly witty comment whenever the opportunity would come up to make a slighly humorous or mildly witty comment. But, as of late, I’ve come to this horrible realization: I am not a funny person. Really, I don’t know what went wrong. It’s as if I went to bed looking like Conan the Barbarian and waking up looking like, well… me. The revelation was horrifying. Since I don’t want to take any blame for anything myself (I think it’s generational. A quality inherited by myself and my fellow Gen-Xers), I will blame it on the last place that I was when I began to feel like I was losing my funniness. Those damned philosophy classes. Now, let me get one thing straight: I didn’t initally got to philosophy as a major ( that would have been stupid). I had gone into political science, and since political scientists know everything, I felt no need to join the yammering crowd in philosophy. All talk and no action, they say. If I were inclined to be a bit dirty, I’d call what they did over there in philosophy intellectual masturbation (no need to be more descriptive there). What happened to me, was that I was “recruited”. And like the absolute idiot that I am, I took the bait. It’s not like the political science department was like a night at the Apollo, but there was, at least among the students, a sense of humor that was present and mainfested itself occasionally in comments about stupid liberals (or “communists”, it that term is preferable), or other departments, like philosophy. There was at least some humor that everyone could understand – there was no need to preface a joke with an explanation of “xeno’s paradox” or Russellian definite descriptions. It’s different with philosophers. I’ve heard that there is humor there, and I was even told that some of my professors were actually “funny”, but all the while I was there, I just didn’t see it. (Maybe there was a smartass or two). The more philosophy I read, the more I became convinced that there was a reason why I wasn’t laughing. Philosophers aren’t funny people. I’m not saying that I didn’t laugh because of the occasionally unintentionally funny thing in philosophy, there’s plenty of that. Reading anything on the “problem of evil” is inintentionally hillarious. But, beyond the inintentional humor… well… there just isn’t any. I heard this joke, see if it’s funny:

Descartes walks into a cafe. The waitress asks him if he

wants anything to drink. He says “yes, please”. She asks,

“Whatdaya have?” Descartes says “Coffee”.

She asks, “Ya want sugar with that?”. Descartes says”I think not”,

and disappears.

was that at all funny?

No. it wasn’t. And that’s exactly my point! There is no possible way to get humor out of philosophy (or out of a philosopher for that matter). I have become funny –for a philosopher. The real tragedy is that not only is philosophy not funny, it takes the funny out of you. It turns you into some sort of analytical philosophy-only being (actually being an existentialist is about as unfunny as you can get, so excluding continental philosophy might be a good thing) who looks at someone’s attempt at humor with quizzical eyes (this actually happened to me once) — AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE WHAT I SAID WASN’T FUNNY. It’s because, next to zombies, philosophers are the least funniest people on the face of the earth.

And I challenge anyone to prove to me otherwise.

Spotting the Golden Egg

* I owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit and Professor Davidson’s exclamations of the word “bullshit” in epsitemology class… which started me on this subject in the first place. And to both, I extend my deepest apologies. I was a dedicated political science student. And, as any student of politics knows, what political science is really about is the art of bullshitting. Bullshitting is the politician’s medium. Their finely crafted pieces of tauroscatologic masterpieces have no rival. They are Rembrandts in a room full of kindergarten fingerpainters. Politicians dispense bullshit to the public as freely as co-eds give it up in Cancun during spring break. And I was becomming a master. But then, philosophy happened. I found myself surrounded by people who claimed that philosophy was the real thing — a no bullshit zone. Philosophy wasn’t just opinions and rhetoric, my professors said, but was logically correct, and at times irrefutable. But why did it sound to me like so much of the bullshit that I was hearing in poly sci? Worse yet, I soon discovered that, along with my growing suspicions that all philosophy is bullshit, I found myself growing increasingly disturbed by my feelings towards some of my fellow philosophy students — I began to think that some of them were assholes. As time progressed, I realized that my impressions weren’t mere delusion or some resentment held over from poly sci, some of my fellow students really were assholes — big ones at that. And that led me to think: is it possible that there is a connection between being a bullshitter and being an asshole? Is it possible for us to investigate, not only who the purveyors of bullshit are, but also if there are personality traits that are common to bullshitters, jerks, wiseasses, smartasses, and all other people that we would just as soon toss out of an five story window than to offer a lift out of a crime-ridden neighborhood? My answer was yes. I had noticed that some of my fellow philosophy students had a high opinion of themselves. In and of itself, good self esteem is a good thing, but this high-falutinness was something out of the ordinary. For a time I wasn’t sure if they were actually smarter or if they had been, by way of the professors, convinced that they were smarter than everyone else. I had observed that a fair number of students dispensed a fair amount of bullshit — usually in the form of learned proclaimations that were meant to sound profound and convincing. For the most part, however, their statments did nothing more than sound like something sounding profound and convincing. All I knew for sure was that there was a definite type of personality that I observed among the students that had an over inflated opinion of their own mental capacity. Before I reached any definitve conclusion that they were assholes, I decided that I would ask other people to see if they saw what I thought that I was seeing. After conducting a very unscientific poll, I had reached the conclusion that it wasn’t just me who saw it — philosophy students tended to be assholes. There was a confirmed connection between people who thought highly of themselves and bullshitting. So, by way of induction, I concluded that those who dispensed bullshit tend to hav a high opinion of themselves, and those who tend to have a high opinion of themselves tend to be catagorized as assholes. I had to admit that, until that point, I hadn’t paid much attention to what kind of person lays out bullshit [as I had been fascinated with bullshit (as a product) itself]. I had been blissfully unaware that we are capable of knowing that we are capable of knowing what kind of person is prone to dealing out bullshit. I was ignorant of the fact that we can identify a particular person is a bullshitter by mere observation of certain personality traits. I wondered if there was a methodology to figuring out what kind of person I was dealing with. More importantly, I discovered why such a search would be important. As social beings, we depend on others to be open and honest with us, and that, ultimately forms our philosophis outlook on life. Our interactions with others and how we see others, informs how we classify them — as jerks, or smartasses, or even as good people. We, in turn, act, think, and speak according to how we perceive the personalities of others. If we, through experience, come to feel that the world is run by assholes, we will base our own interactions, thoughts and feelings accordingly. We may exhibit personality traits that make us what others may call “jerkish”, or “crummy to others”. One trait that I knew of with any certainty, was the connection between those who I and others had called assholes and a capacity for bullshitting. I was content that I had, indeed figured out the formula for finding out whether someone I knew was an asshole, and in my eagerness to label virtually everyone I knew an asshole, I realized my zeal had led me to an error: some of those who I had squarely tissed into the asshole camp were clearly not so. There were individuals who were different from the garden-variety assholes that I had encountered in my philosophy classes. Other students (some other philosophy students) seemed to exhibit asshole tendencies, yet something was missing. There was a something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on the they lacked. That moment I realized that there was a difference. Some people, upon further inspection, were not assholes. They were another breed entirely — they were smartasses. Bullshit, although elemental to determining who an asshole or a smartass may or may not be, is not the sole factor for determining if one is so. I will attempt to map out necessary and sufficient conditions for spotting an asshole or a smartass ( as I am not fully committed to the idea that one may be both). I acknowledge that my conditions in themselves may be inadequate, or not correct at all. The heart of this inquiry is to suggest that 1)there is a connection between a habit of bullshitting and the personalities of those who spread it with regularity, and 2) that it may be useful to us to know what the connection is. I feel that, as long as we stop to ponder bullshit, it may be apropos to know exactly from who all this bullshit is coming from. At this point, I realize that the impression may be that my inquiry is not one of serious academic merit, to which, to some extent, I heartily agree. However, in all seriousness, the genesis of my inquiry is only partially in jest. I insist that neither my inquiry, nor this posting is intened to disguise my using the word “asshole” repeatedly as serious philosophic discussion. And, although I realize the outward appearance of the unphilosophicness of the subject matter, I feel that a philosophic approach to this decidedly unphilosophic topic is not only warranted, but in some way overdue. Now that I have established the tenure of my approach to the subject, I must say here that my approach is merely one of inquiry. I posit no heavy philosophic examination of the subject, nor am I insisting that my approach is the right way to go about looking at the topic. Since I am still developing my “theory”, I will forgo technical labels such as “necessary” or “sufficient”, and will simply write out my thoughts as I initially thought them while sitting in my philosophy of language class. Firstly, I wondered if the nature of my query was ontological, episemological, or ethical. I quickly eliminated any ethical sonsideration of the subject on the grounds that no theory (perhaps with the exception of Kantian ethics) directly addressed by any moral theory. It is perfectly reasonable that a utlitarian can be an asshole (or a smartass) while simultaneously performing morally acceptable deeds. An egoist indeed might benefit more if the egoist were an asshole. Having thrown out ethical considerations, I moved on to an ontological or epistemological view on the subject. I figure that the subject can be approached either way, as figuring out whether a person is an asshole or a smartass includes questions involving the nature of one’s personality ( a metaphysical question), and what evidence we need to conclude that an individual is one or the other (epistomological). Which approach works best, however, I will leave to anyone who considers the subject. I feel that, in order to know, we must approach it from both directions. As I said at the outset, my quest was motivated by my fascination with bullshit. I had discovered that both bullshitters and smartasses possessed a capacity for bullshiting. And, true to Frankfurt’s description, assholes and smartasses seemed indifferent to the truth. Bullshitters, Frankfurt explains, are indifferent to the truth. This quality is the “essence of bullshit” (p. 34). Although both are indifferent to the truth, I feel that the motivation for this indifference differs between the asshole and the smartass. Frankfurt writes that the bullshitter carefully crafts his bullshit for the purposes of getting what he wants. He’s “trying to get away with something” (p.23). This aspect of bullshitting is also true of assholes. The asshole is always motivated by his need to get over on other people. Often, the victim of an asshole’s one over describes the experience as feeling like he has been shit on. But unlike Frankfurt’s bullshitter, the asshole cares not at all for what the listener of his bullshit feels. He’s not out to get you to feel anything. He is solely motivated to get what he wants. If you feel any emotional response for his bullshit, well, then good for you. You are all the more a sucker for his BS. Since the asshole has no intention of ever returning any favor, he has to maintain his chicanery as long as he is getting what he wants. His loyalty does not last long. It is worth noting here, that, unlike the bullshitter, whose worst fear is discovery (the fear that we will discover the he has been bullshitting us the whole time), the asshole has no such underlying fear. He is not only indifferent to his own bullshit, he is also indifferent to getting caught in the cat of bullshitting. This is the case because the asshole simply does not care about you. Although the asshole does not care about you, you (meaning other people) is essential for the asshole to be an asshole ( if I were to label a “necessary condition”, other people is a necessary condition for an asshole). The asshole, although he does not care how you feel, definitely wants a response out of you. This motivation, at its face, may seem contradictory. But for the asshole, the sentiment is not so much a contradiction, but a manifestation of the duplicitious nature of the asshole’s personality. In addition to not caring to your emotions, the asshole may appear to not care for his own actions. He may say that he does not care what he has to say of do to get what he wants. But, rest assured his motivation necessarily depends, if not on your emotional reactions, but on what your non-emotional reactions may be. That is, was the asshole successful in getting you to do what he wanted you to do? Like the asshole, the smartass is also motivated by a need to bullshit. His motivation, however, is not dependent on others. The smartass ignores other people. The smartass is not motivated by a need to get over on anyone. There is no such inner motive. The smartass says what he says because his words are pleasing to him, usually in an attempt at being humorous (this explains how a person can be a smartass absent of others. An asshole cannot. Think about it: can a person really be an asshole to himself?). The fact that anyone or no one reacts to what the smartass says is of no consequence to him or his goals. The fact that the smartass speaks at all is his goal. Indiffernece to truth, despite its importance, takes a backseat to the act of speaking itself. The bullshit that the smartass dispenses isn’t said for the sake of getting what he wants; it’s said because the smartass fancies himself a clever and funny person. Usually he is not — which is why he is often mistaken for an asshole.The smartass is, at his heart, self-centered. His aim is self amusement. He does not care if his “humor” is humorous to anyone but himself. Unlike the asshole, whose assholeness necessarily depends on the actions of others, the smartass truly does not care if anyone else cares or even hears his remarks. Because of this fact, the smartass is limited to words. The real thrust of his ability is his verbal capacity for witty and often crude comments. The asshole, on the other hand, faces no such limitations. His assholliness in not limited to language, but also includes his actions as well. As this is still a work in progress, I have not exactly thought out where to go from here. Perhaps some more thought will help to clear up whether I should continue on this topic at all. Oh well.