If Daryl Dies…. eh… I’m not even watching anymore

WELL, FOLKS… IT’S APRIL and April means the season finale of my favorite tv show.

I couldn’t tell you what happened, tho.

I didn’t watch it.

I haven’t watched the entire season, actually.

That’s because it used to be my favorite tv show.

Unfortunately, the fate that has befallen so many others has finally happened to me: I am no longer a fan of The Walking Dead.*

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MEMORIES OF BETTER DAYS… AND BETTER EPISODES

I gotta admit, it’s been a fun ride. I was genuinely impressed for a few seasons.

Most tv shows these days have only a handful of good episodes.

Don’t get me wrong, The Walking Dead has never been as impressive as Westworld or Game of Thrones (or its fellow AMC drama series, Mad Men), but for a tv show that is — honestly speaking — a soap opera about zombies, The Walking Dead has supplied a more than expected bounty of philosophical stuff (and thangs) to think about.

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RICK GRIMES IS THINKING… PROBABLY BAD DECISIONS THAT WILL GET PEOPLE KILLED, BUT HE’S THINKING

Listen: if kinda sorta doing philosophy for awhile has taught me anything, it’s taught me that philosophical stuff is everywhere. Literally everywhere.

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Buzz gets it.

A great thing about studying philosophical stuff, believe it or not, is discovering philosophy in stuff that isn’t explicitly philosophical. Sure, you can spend your summer boning up on Kant’s categorical imperative or slogging through Hegel (that nobody wants to read or actually reads), but wouldn’t you rather not do that if you don’t have to do it?

Wouldn’t you rather just watch tv instead?

FUN WITH PHILOSOPHY: if, by watching a tv show, we can not only learn philosophical ideas easier, but also expose a greater number of people to philosophy, we are OBLIGATED to watch the tv show!

How do we know it’s an obligation? 

Utilitarianism.

And, utilitarianism is PHILOSOPHY.

In the whatever-many years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve written posts entirely about or have mentioned The Walking Dead in no fewer than 39 posts. I’ve used The Walking Dead to write about philosophical topics including (but not limited to):

  • Determinism vs. Free Will
  • Moral Culpability
  • The Ethics of Pacifism
  • Hobbes’ State of Nature
  • Socrates’ Philosopher-King
  • Gettier Problems
  • The Meaning of Life
  • The Metaphysics of the Undead
  • The Ethics of Loyalty
  • Justifying killing
  • The Ethics of Veganism
  • The Utilitarian/Hedonistic Calculus
  • The Trolley Problem
  • Moral consistency (or, if I’m writing about Rick Grimes, moral inconsistency)
  • …And some other philosophical stuff

And– although I got my problems with Negan, I can’t think of another tv series that has inspired me philosophically.

Wait a minute there is one.

Star Trek.

Another tv show is Star Trek. 

The thing is, unlike The Walking Dead, Gene Roddenberty created Star Trek with philosophical subtext in mind. Classic Star Trek episodes “The City On the Edge Of Forever”, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, “The Measure of a Man”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, and “Thine Own Self” are extra philosophical.

And who can forget this philosophical as hell episode?

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The episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” isn’t merely philosophical — it also features one of tv’s first interracial kiss.

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And THAT’S the reason why I used to like The Walking Dead. The philosophy wasn’t served up on a platter like an episode of Star Trek or a philosophy-themed series like The Good Place.

If you wanted to get down and philosophical while watching The Walking Dead, you had to dig for it. You had to put on a yellow miner helmet with a little flashlight and mine every that-didn’t-happen-in-the-comic-book moment (like that whole fiasco of Glenn’s under-the-dumpster plot twist, aka the moment everybody yelled “you’ve got to be kidding me!!!”) to find the philosophical subtext. Episodes like season 4’s “The Grove” and season 2’s “Judge, Jury, Executioner” demonstrate the ethical dilemma — do we kill one to save many –– as well as any other Trolley Problem scenerio. The characters Rick, Shane, The Governor, and Negan depict examples of leadership guided by ethical principles and the justifications each uses for their individual leadership styles — the benevolent autocracy of Rick Grimes, the seeming utopia of The Governor, the violent dictatorship of Negan…

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YEAH. , AIN’T JUST LUCILLE

I could (believe me, I did) go on for hours explaining why The Walking Dead wasn’t the best tv show on the air — it was the most GOOD show on tv.

By GOOD, I meant The Walking Dead  wasn’t just “good” because it was entertaining, but GOOD because it was philosophically beneficial.

Like, watching The Walking Dead gets you all up in the eudaimonia –philosophically beneficial.

I no longer do that.

I’m no longer a fan of the show.

So I don’t watch the show anymore.

For all I know, season 9 might have been philosophical AF. 

I hope it was.

Not likely, but I hope it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* for the one of you that was wondering exactly why I’ve stopped watching The Walking Dead, I can only explain my dis-fandom by saying the show caught a bad case of The Dumb.

Y’all that also don’t watch any more know what I mean.

I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER

YEARS AGO, I WROTE a book.

It’s a philosophy book. Or rather, it’s a book about philosophy.

…kinda sorta about philosophy.

I mean, I use the word “philosophy”. And I quote Nietzsche.

That’s all you need for a philosophy book, right?

Now, when I was a philosophy student, I used to lament (sometimes – ok, a lot of times − out loud) the fact that most of the philosophy texts I was reading – the books every philosophy student is required to read – THE GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL TEXTS BY THE GREATEST PHILOSOPHICAL MINDS – were… well…boring.

Positively dull.

If earning a philosophy degree taught me anything, I learned that reading Immanuel Kant is the perfect cure for insomnia.

Reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason = snoozefest.

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KANT’S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON CAN ALSO BE USED AS A PILLOW OR AS A MAKESHIFT  BLUDGEONING DEVICE TO BE USED AGAINST WOULD-BE AXE MURDERERS

It’s not just mind-numbing boringness that philosophy has to overcome; people just don’t like philosophy or philosophers.

Americans are notoriously anti-intellectual. The average stereotypical American doesn’t trust a guy who’s a smarty pants. And really, who can blame them?

Smarty pants people invented the atomic bomb.

They also created reality tv.

If it wasn’t for that smart guy Dr. Phil, none of us would have any idea what “cash me ousside” means.

and if you don’t know, god bless you.

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THANKS, DR. PHIL

To be fair, Dr. Phil isn’t a philosopher. He’s a psychologist.

William James was a psychologist. And a philosopher.

William James was one of the fathers of Pragmatism.

Dr. Phil is pragmatic.

Therefore, I think, Dr. Phil IS a philosopher.

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CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Anyway… generally speaking, there’s always been a certain amount of negativity directed towards philosophers and philosophy.

Popular culture depicts philosophers as mopey navel gazers.

If society is correct, philosophers are only good at contemplating things that, in the long run, aren’t useful.

Schopenhauer was mopey.

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THE MAN EXUDES MISERY, DOESN’T HE?

Wittgenstein realized logical positivism was a dumb idea – even though he was the person who invented it.

Here’s the thing: even though people think philosophers are good only for thinking about things that no normal person cares about, there’s always been a place for the philosopher in society.

No one wants to admit it; the lovers of wisdom are an essential part of the way things are.

Just think about our popular culture for a minute.

You personally might not give two poops about philosophy, but if you exist right now, your “life” is the product of a long list of philosophers including (but definitely not limited to) Hegel, Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Ayn Rand.

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LEO STRAUSS: THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PHILOSOPHER YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF, AND LIKELY WON’T GOOGLE, EVEN AFTER READING THIS BLOG POST

You won’t find a critically praised tv show or movie, a failed economic theory, a celebrity-slash-deep thinker, or a dumb politician who hasn’t quoted, misquoted, paraphrased, borrowed or stolen an idea from a philosopher.

Don’t believe me?

You’d think with all the philosophy everywhere, that we would, as a society, be a little more positive about philosophers and philosophy.

Nope.

and I’ll tell you why…

Are you listening? Here’s the reason why:

PHILOSOPHERS ARE NOT FUN.

Seriously, philosophy types are not a very fun lot to be around.

At the risk of being ad hominem-y, take a good look at the nearest philosopher. LOOK.

Look at him. Or her.

Now, ask yourself – am I looking at a person who looks like they’d be fun to be around for more than five minutes?

Sure, a professional philosopher will insist that they’re fun and funny and all-around interesting people, but do not be fooled. A fun philosopher is fun – for a philosopher.

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I’E USED MY POWERS OF PHILOSOPHICAL SPECULATION TO DETERMINE THAT MOST PHILOSOPHERS ARE UNFUN — EXCEPT FOR DIOGENES. DIOGENES SEEMS LIKE A FUN GUY

The reason why philosophers are un-fun has to do with the natural disposition of philosophers. Philosophers operate under the delusion that every conversation must adhere to a set of absolute bullshit rules on how conversations are supposed to go.

NO AD HOMINEMS ALLOWED.

Philosophers use fancy “philosophical” words like invalid, fallacy, and this is complete bullshit, why are you even in my class!?!?! to describe conversations that don’t adhere to The Rules.

Pffft!

As much as I love the love of wisdom, I got tired of not having fun.

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I mean, sometimes rules are great. Rules come in handy. Philosophy is a rigorous intellectual pursuit and strict rules are needed to produce coherent theories and arguments.

Makin’ rules is what made Immanuel Kant the greatest Kantian philosopher of all time.

But, every once in a while, even when doing philosophy, you gotta let one rip.
and not just figuratively.

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I had a philosophy professor who told a story about a conversation they had with another philosophy professor on a plane. My professor said that the conversation got so deep in arguing over theory that another passenger sitting nearby asked them to stop talking.

The professors weren’t using vulgar language. They weren’t looking at pornography. They weren’t defecating on the food cart or having an overly enthusiastic debate to settle whether Negan or The Governor was the baddest bad guy on The Walking Dead.

They were discussing philosophy.

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FOR THE RECORD, THE BADDEST BAD GUY WAS GARETH. GARETH ATE PEOPLE!!!

In the ears and minds of a pair of philosophy professors, a discussion about philosophy is something suitable to engage in around an airplane full of strangers. However, for the other passengers, being stuck in the fuselage of a jet aircraft (involuntarily) listening to a couple of philosophy enthusiasts talk about whatever it is that overthinkers talk about, had made an otherwise somewhat entertaining plane trip intolerable. UNFUN.

PHILOSOPHERS MAKE THINGS UNFUN.

Think about it: think of all the fun times you’ve ever had. Were there party hats? Yes. Mixed drinks? Probably. Strippers dressed as firemen? Undoubtedly. Was a philosopher involved? Absolutely not.

No fun time ever involves philosophers.

…except for maybe Diogenes.

In his 1748 treatise An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), wrote, “Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” Hume understood the necessity of philosophy, but he also knew that there’s more to life than philosophy. Namely, Hume knew that life is to be enjoyed – to have fun.

In his last days, Hume told jokes, played cards, hung out with his friends.

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ANY GUY WHO WEARS A JACKET THIS FLASHY PROBABLY KNOWS HOW TO HAVE A FUN TIME

And that’s what brings me to this. This blog.

Serious philosophers take philosophy things way too seriously.

There’s nothing worse than telling a good philosophy joke to a philosophy pro and getting nothing but a blank stare because the mofo takes philosophy too seriously to see the humor.

 

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IS THIS THING ON?????

 

Some people study philosophy for the sake of understanding the theory. Some people get their jollies discussing theories.

This is not that kind of blog.

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I think a part of enjoying anything you love is to be willing to take a bit of the piss out of it.

So, what would a philosophy blog written by someone who avoids deep theoretical philosophical discussions… someone who thinks skimming is sometimes just as good as actually reading an actual book… someone who thinks the answer for any philosophical question can be found in an episode of Star Trek look like?

You’re looking at it.

This blog is my philosophical mission. I call it mindless philosophy.

I AM THE MINDLESS PHILOSOPHER.

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I am a philosopher; but, amidst all my philosophy, I am still a man.

I’ve said, from the moment I decided to start a blog, the first aim of The Mindless Philosopher is to have fun. I love philosophical discussions, but, truth be told, The Mindless Philosopher is not above name calling, writing pedantic blog posts of somewhat-deep philosophical analysis based on a misinterpretation, emotion-based arguments or the tried and true ad hominem attack.

 

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, “YOU’RE A FUCKING MORON!” ALWAYS WORKS

 

Yeah, I know it’s not PHILOSOPHY, but PHILOSOPHY isn’t entirely the point of my blog. I’m not a professional philosopher, I don’t have tenure and I’m not getting paid to do this. I’m just a schmo who got an undergrad degree in philosophy and decided to use it as an excuse to watch way too much tv.

And write a blog about it.

Listen:

You know what’s got a lot of philosophy in it?

TV shows got philosophy. So do movies.
And music
And books

And former reality tv show hosts who become president of the United States.

 

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CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN PRINCIPIA ETHICA

Sure, taking philosophy out of academia and applying it to your favorite tv show can be a daunting task. It’s messy. Theories sometimes don’t work, and sometimes you have to stretch a theory to fit.

Sometimes you discover that your brilliant philosophical analysis of the brave protagonist has been an exercise in how to misapply a philosophical theory.

In the end, I guess if I had to explain why I do this – why an amateur deep thinker (like me) would dare to venture into the world of philosophy − I truly think that anybody can be a philosopher. You don’t need to attend university or have a PhD to ponder life’s big questions. If we’re talking about the human condition, it makes sense to bring philosophy out of the academy and into the real world.

Because that’s where the people are.

 

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LOOK AT ALL THESE NOT-PHILOSOPHER PEOPLE WAITING TO LEARN PHILOSOPHY!

 

Thinking philosophically doesn’t require that anyone read the complete works of Bertrand Russell or understand the Hegelian dialectic. You don’t need to know who Slavoj Žižek is or that he’s called the Elvis of philosophy to do philosophy.

Anybody can do philosophy. Anybody should do philosophy.

You see, we can use philosophy to understand things.

 

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AT LEAST TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE HELL THIS IS ALL ABOUT

 

If a philosophy degree is an interesting path to poverty, I might as well have some fun with it.

…and do a little bit of mindless philosophy along the way.

 

WHAT KIND OF PHILOSOPHER ARE YOU, ANYWAY???

I HEAR A LOT OF FOLKS say that there’s nothing good on t.v. They say the new era of good television is over.

Maybe that’s because Two and a Half Men is off the air.

Who knows?

As a philosopher, I’m willing to admit that I don’t know plenty of things, but, one thing I do know is that anyone who says today’s t.v. sucks are wrong. There’s a lot of good stuff to watch out there.
And not just Fuller House.

 

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ALRIGHT, FULLER HOUSE IS NOT GOOD TELEVISION. NOT GONNA DIS IT, THO. UNCLE JESSE IS BAE

 

You see, until recently, I, too believed that there was nothing good worth watching on television – especially network television. I had given up on network t.v. My weekly television viewing was limited to basic cable. I had found and fell in intellectual love with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Mr. Robot, Better Call Saul, The Americans, and American Gods.

Folks also seem to like The Good Place.

I haven’t seen The Good Place.

There’s my favorite love to hate, hate to love, The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead isn’t exactly good television,  at least not since they canned Frank Darabont but it is philosophical television.

 

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AFTER WATCHING THE WALKING DEAD FOR EIGHT SEASONS, I AM NOW ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED RCK GRIMES IS THE DAFTEST CHARACTER ON TELEVISION

 

That’s what really matters in the end, isn’t it?

One new network t.v. show has got my attention – my philosophical attention.

I think it’s pretty funny, too.

That t.v. show is A.P. Bio.

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For those of you who aren’t watching that show (I suspect that’s most of you), A.P. Bio follows the story of Jack Griffin, a self-described “award winning philosophy scholar” (played by Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), who, after a fall from grace, ends up living in his dead mother’s apartment, teaching a high school Advanced Placement biology (A.P. Bio) class in Toledo, Ohio.

Of course, true to cinematic form, Jack Griffin is a bad philosopher.

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Jack is arrogant. He waves his (former) Harvard philosophy gig around like a movie rent-a-cop waves around his not-real-law-enforcement badge.

…anything to reinforce Jack’s undeserved sense of intellectual superiority.

And because Jack is a philosopher, he’s also kinda pervy.

Jack isn’t interested in teaching a lowly high school class, particularly one in Toledo, Ohio.

Jack thinks his co-workers are idiots.
Jack thinks his students are idiots.

Jack is more interested in an attempted hook up with the mother of a student, belittling his co-workers and students, (another) attempted hook up with a former girlfriend, expressing his contempt for the city and people of Toledo, Ohio, bragging about his award-winning status, and plotting the ruin of his rival, Jack’s former Harvard colleague (and successful best-selling philosopher), Miles Leonard.

I hope that Jack Griffin wasn’t an ethics scholar.
…. which brings me to the point of this blog post.

 

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REALLY…

 

With the exception of biopics about philosophers, no one in movies or t.v. shows about philosophers ever says what kind of philosopher they are.

As much as I am enjoying A.P. Bio, I can’t get past the one thing about the show that bothers me: Jack describes himself as a “philosopher” − ok, but what kind of philosopher is he? What’s his field of study? Philosophy of language? Ethics? Metaphysics? Logic?

Good lord, is it epistemology???!

Jack wrote a book called The End: A Philosophy of Death. Does that mean his thing is metaphysics?
Is he an existentialist?

 

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THAT SWEATER HAS GOT ME THINKING JACK GRIFFIN (MIS)QUOTES SARTRE… A LOT

 

I mean, what kind of philosopher is this guy, anyway???!!!

Movie and t.v. philosophers are just “philosophers”. In film, “philosopher” is a generic term.

Movie and t.v. philosophers never have a specific field they study or teach.

I can say, for the record, that I’ve never had just a “philosophy” professor or taken a generic “philosophy” class. In real life, like many professions, philosophy is a diverse field of study with many (sometimes opposing) schools of thought. Philosophers in the real world specialize. There are philosophers of science and philosophers of mathematics.

There are philosophers of law and philosophers of humor. There are political philosophers and medical ethicists.
Philosophers who do linguistics..
Philosophers who are into aesthetics.

Some even specialize in the study and teaching about the works of a particular philosopher.

You get the idea.

 

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I TOOK A CLASS EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED TO THIS GUY. I’M NEVER TAKING A CLASS EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED TO A GERMAN PHILOSOPHER EVER AGAIN

 

Movie and t.v. philosophers pontificate in ways and about things that says, “whoever wrote this script has never stepped foot in an actual philosophy class”. Or worse yet, fictional philosophers immediately launch into the THERE IS NO GOD routine.

That’s philosophy of religion, folks. And nobody does that, not even actual philosophers.

In movies and tv., calling a character a “philosopher” isn’t about the character being anything like an actual philosopher as much as calling a character a philosopher is a shortcut to describe what kind of person the character is. In entertainment, philosophers are pompous, irresponsible, seemingly profound, but ultimately shallow, moral degenerates.

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They’re characters like Jack Griffin.

All you need to know about Jack is that he’s a philosopher.

You can correctly assume the rest.

 

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CAN’T ARGUE WITH MODUS PONENS

 

I guess what’s really grinding my gears about fictional philosophers is the lack of attention (or respect) paid to the profession. We all know that nobody likes philosophers, but if you’re going to depict a profession, even if the character you’re depicting is an absolute asshat, a realistic depiction can go a long way.

Walter White wasn’t just a teacher. He was a chemistry teacher.

The characters on Criminal Minds aren’t just FBI agents. They’re agents with the Bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Hank Hill isn’t a mere salesman. He sells propane and propane accessories.

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In the real world, when you go to the doctor, you go to a specific kind of doctor. Sure, they all go to doctor school to learn doctoring, but would you want your psychiatrist to remove your gallstones? He could probably do it.

But would you want him to?

I mean, there isn’t a generic doctor, is there?

Wait a minute. There are general practitioners, aren’t there?

Ok. Bad analogy.

But, if I’m watching an episode of Law and Order, I’m going to see a t.v. show full of lawyers who specialize in criminal law. The episodes will involve cases and situations that pertain to criminal cases. There will be no riveting episode about a squabble in probate court. No chance of watching an episode of D.A. Jack McCoy taking on the case of a client challenging an unreasonable noise ordinance.

They’re all lawyers on Law and Order.

But they’re all a particular kind of lawyer.

On every t.v. show, they’re all a particular kind of something.

So, would it be too much to ask that Jack say at least once before the show is cancelled, seriously, look at the ratings what kind of philosophy he does?

My bet is it’s ethics.

Jack Griffin looks straight-up like a Nietzsche paraphrasing, social liberal/economic conservative, “I AM JOHN GALT” − declaring, Randian Objectivist f**k boi, who drops Hegel references like Hegel references.

 

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YOU JUST KNOW JACK HAS PLANNED A NIGHT OF “THE FOUNTAINHEAD AND CHILL” MORE THAN ONCE 

 

 

Pretty much your standard philosopher.

THE REQUEST LINES ARE OPEN

WHEN YOU WRITE ABOUT something long enough you realize that there’s always something to write about, and that you will never have enough time to write about all the things that are rattling around inside your mind.

After a while you inevitably accumulate an “I was gonna write about that” list.

And that list turns in to things started and stopped, deleted and rewritten.

The next book you’re “working on”

That blog post you’ve been plugging away at for days…weeks… months….

years.

Another thing you realize when your write about stuff is that there’s a lot of stuff that other people want you to write about, too.

That becomes your “Things I might write about” list.

Might usually means never.

Unless, of course, you take requests.

Which is something I haven’t done.

I might.

You see, unlike other people who identify their vocation as “writer”; those people who deal in original thoughts, my writing necessarily depends on the work of others. I write about pop culture. Movies, t.v. shows, books, music, politics, current events – it’s all there for the writing.
All of it.

…and that’s part of the problem.

I don’t keep up with the Kardashians

I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones

Or Stranger Things

 

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I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS KID IS, SO DON’T EVEN ASK ME TO WRITE ABOUT IT

 

I hear The Good Place is good, but I still haven’t seen it

I haven’t seen the last Thor flick

Or listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album

I don’t regret that last one, though.

Hey, haters gonna hate.

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Although I think I’ve watched enough The Walking Dead to write a treatise on Rick Grimes thick enough to make Kant envious*.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, there are only so many hours that a person, even a pop culture junkie like myself, can devote to watching movies and t.v. shows, listening to music, and reading books.

Especially when you’re devoted to watching, reading, listening to, and thinking about things philosophically.

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I’m so busy over-analyzing episodes of Star Trek, Breaking Bad, Rick and Morty, watching Fight Club for the one-hundred seventh time, purposefully avoiding Star Trek: Discovery, and digging into the hidden meaning in Beatles songs to deep enough give Charles Manson a run for his money, that everything else gets placed on the perpetual backburner of things I might write about.

Might.

Then there’s that real-world stuff I’m supposed to be doing – school, work, having anything resembling an actual social life…

In the end, figuring out the philosophical subtext of things takes bit out of you.

Even if you’re two seasons behind on American Horror Story.

I’m two seasons behind…

 

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THIS MAY HAVE THE APPERANCE OF NOT HAVING AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE, BUT REST ASSURED, THERE IS SERIOUS, DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH GOING ON

 

Now, I guess if I was (or is it were? I dunno. I’m a philosopher, not a grammar person) inclined to be a butthole about things I’d say to every person who said, “you should write about this” should write about that themselves.

But that would be, as Birdperson said, “a dick move”.

Besides, as a watcher of popular media who has done enough complaining about things to have heard my fill of fandom’s variation of the No True Scotsman Fallacy, the No True Fan, I’m not that much of an asshole to off-handedly dismiss a request or suggestion by declaring that someone simply “write it yourself”.

An amazing feat, considering I’m also a fan of Schopenhauer.

All said and done, I appreciate requests. Namely, a request means that someone is reading my blog.

but also, a request means that there’s at least one someone else out there who likes thinking of things philosophically.

And that can’t be all that bad a thing.

So, I guess it’s not such an awful thing to be the Wolfman Jack of philosophy.

I guess the request lines are now open.

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So! Tell me what thing written about philosophically that you want to read about and I might write about it.

 

Might.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m trying like hell to do just that: I’ve written at least ten (I don’t know, maybe more, maybe less) posts about The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, specific characters from both series, and zombies in general. I don’t exactly know what all this writing about the show is going to do for me, other than to say that I have absolutely nothing going on in my life on Sunday nights.

Schmuck Dynasty

If you want people to think you’re a smart guy, it’s probably best that you steer clear of pop culture. Especially television.

You know, that place that made these people famous:

 

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They don’t call it the boob tube for no good reason.

And it’s no coincidence that, as the number of television channels expanded, so did American waistlines. Television, America’s greatest purveyor of pop culture, is a kind of sugary, addictive brain candy that also makes your body fat.

 

 

fat guy watching TV

 

You won’t have to conduct some scientific study at a major university to figure out that the less TV a person watches the better off that person is. Not just physically better off, but emotionally and intellectually better, too.

 

OBVIOUSLY NOT INTO WATCHING A LOT OF TV

OBVIOUSLY NOT INTO WATCHING A LOT OF TV

 

And there’s nothing on TV that will in any way make us think about things philosophically.

 

reality TV channel

 

 

I think it goes without saying that the less TV we watch the better people we are, but there’s one thing that those who don’t spend their days in front of a glowing monitor (be it a computer or a television set) miss out on: pop culture.

Pop culture is:

 

…the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are preferred by an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture… this culture permeates the everyday lives of the society.

 

 

As much as we may hate to admit it, there’s a reason why many of us will “get” this image:

 
snow white and the seven memes

 

Or will find this meme funny:

 

manos jokes

 

Or immediately know this line and the name of the movie it comes from:

 

case of the mondays

 

 

 

It is because by being tuned in to pop culture, we are plugged in to a culturally-based collective consciousness that allows us to communicate ideas, thoughts, theories, even jokes.

 

a streetwalker, carl

 
Try talking to someone who doesn’t pay attention to pop culture. You’ll find you won’t have much to talk about at all.

 

disinterested-woman

 

And one of those things you probably won’t talk about is the recent controversy over remarks made by Phil Robertson, star and patriarch of the basic cable reality television show, Duck Dynasty. The plot of the show centers around the day-to-day misadventures and family mayhem of Robertson and his family, who became extremely rich off of the duck call business.

 

 

Robertson was accused of making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ Magazine.

Now for those of you who neither follow popular culture nor watch reality TV (because no one does, right?) this is what Phil Robertson said:

It seems like to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me.

 

And Robertson said:

 

There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on dudes! But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man.

 

 

Robertson stated that homosexual behavior is connected with “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman,” and that gays “ won’t inherit the kingdom of God. It’s not right.”

 

Naturally, many people were angered by Robertson’s sentiments.

 

phil bin laden

 

In response to the public outcry, A&E, the network that airs Duck Dynasty, suspended Robertson from the show.

 

spidey on duck dynasty

 

That prompted Robertson’s supporters, like former Alaska governor and 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, to tweet this:

 

sarah palin on DD

 

Of course, pop culture being what it is, Phil Robertson not only dominated the broadcast airwaves, he became a meme as well.

 

keep calm and stand with phil

You ain’t anything until you’re a meme.

 

Now, some people say all of this arguing over the opinion of a reality TV star is nothing more than a waste of time. A distraction. We should be focused on other, more important matters.

 

while your rights went away

 

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and beliefs, even if their opinions and beliefs offend other people.

 

willy wonka on duck dynasty

 

I guess it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that everybody’s got their own way of seeing things, but listen: the fact that a particular point of view came from the mouth of a reality TV star or they say it while there are other, important things going on, doesn’t mean that what the person said isn’t important.

And it doesn’t mean that the situation can’t get us thinking philosophically.

 

don't care about duck dynasty

 

There’s a reason why people were offended by what Phil Robertson said.

 

And no, it’s not because some people are easily butthurt.

 

Emperor Butthurt

 

 

People were offended by what Phil Robertson said because they felt that what he said is wrong. They feel that certain beliefs are wrong – no matter what justification we have for holding those beliefs.  Conversely, those who support Phil Robertson argue that his beliefs not only reflect his religious point of view, but that he is entitled to hold any belief he (or anyone else) wants, regardless of who he offends.

I don’t know how other people see things, but whenever I hear anyone say words like “wrong”, “justified belief”, “religion” or “God”, or when you debate whether it is right or wrong to remove a man from his job on a TV show, I start to think about morality. And when you’re  using morality words, you’re thinking – and talking philosophically.

 

lightbulb moment

 

 

Yeah, we should be discussing the ethics of unmanned drones, war in the Middle East, international economic relations or our panopticonic reality, courtesy of the NSA – and sure, those are very important things to think about. But there is much to be discussed with the drama over Duck Dynasty or any other time a pop cultural icon or reality TV star grabs unwarranted media attention  by saying or doing  the wrong thing.

Or by saying the right thing, if you see things that way.

At best we can use the opportunity to strike up a moral debate (or two. or with everyone you know) over the ethics of personal opinions.

 

… and don’t forget,  any scandal is perfect for memes.

 

because you know they’re not done yet.

 

 

one does not simply make a duck dynasty meme

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_culture

http://www.tmz.com/2013/12/18/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-vagina-better-than-man-anus-gq-homophobia/#ixzz2oB4h4RbF

I’m Not Sexy. I Know It… and I’m Not Laughing My F.A.O.

Every year some song gets popular and no one has any idea why.

The Macarena.

The Ketchup Song.

Y.M.C.A.

Any song by Nickleback.

Yeah, I know, I just dumped on Nickleback. It’s a very in thing to do.

About a year ago, everybody was into that song by the group L.M.F.A.O.

“I’m Sexy and I Know It”.

Not me, I mean, that’s the name of the song. It’s called “I’m Sexy and I Know It”.

There was no escaping that song. There wasn’t anywhere I could go without hearing that song. Now I know what being stalked feels like.

If “I’m Sexy and I Know It” looked like a person, it would look like this:

 

creepy_gun_dude

I hate that freaking song.

You know, there’s something that happens when you’re harassed by a song you hate. It’s kind of like what happens when you find out you’re going to die. That Elizabeth Kubler-Ross On Death and Dying, stages of grief stuff. First you’re annoyed by the song. Then you hate it. Then you hate the people who made the song. Then you hate every radio station and DJ who plays the song. Then you realize there’s no escaping the song. Then you stop changing the channel when the song comes on.

Then you start to listen.

And then, you start to like it.

That’s what the experts call acceptance.

That’s the final stage.

A funny thing: When you like a song you tend to listen to the lyrics.

If you’re a philosopher this could be especially troubling.

You see, philosophers have a weird habit of analyzing things over analyzing things.

When you’re a philosopher, you can’t just sit and listen to a song, read a book, or watch a movie or TV show. You have to start thinking about what it all means; to see if what you’re reading, watching, or listening to has a hidden philosophical meaning. And if you’re at all philosophically inclined, even if you don’t see it right away, you’ll find a meaning.

Let me show you how it’s done:

First, ask yourself what’s the name of what you’re going to overthink about? This is important. A title might not seem like a big deal to most folks, but for the philosophically-inclined, sometimes a title gives us a big philosophical clue. In this case, the title gives us exactly how to think about the song: I’m sexy and I know it.

I italicized “and I Know it” for a reason.

To say that one is sexy and you know it, you’re saying that you know something. That is, you’re making a claim that you possess some kind of knowledge, which is in this case; you know that you’re sexy.

When you know (or say you know) something, philosophers say that you’re making an epistemic claim.

The branch of philosophy that deals with all sorts of epistemic claims is called  EPISTEMOLOGY.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? As the study of justified belief, epistemology aims to answer questions such as: How we are to understand the concept of justification? What makes justified beliefs justified? Is justification internal or external to one’s own mind?

 

Ok, nevermind  all that philosophical stuff about justification and justified true beliefs (and let’s not dwell on the necessary and sufficient conditions for being sexy and knowing it as I believe that the following conditions are both necessary and sufficient).

So, how might someone initially formulate the idea that they know that they’re sexy?

Well, from the lyrics we can easily see that being sexy has something to do with working out.

So how else does one guesstimate that one is sexy?

One:

  • rolls with animal print pants “out of control”
  • wears a “big ass ‘fro”
  • looks like Bruce Lee whilst “rocking the club”
  • has tan cheeks
  • causes girls to look at one’s body
  • has passion in one’s pants and is not afraid to show it
  • wears no shoes and no shirt but still gets served
  • works out

And, of course, one wiggles.

So, if one rolls with animal print pants that are out of control, wears a big ass ‘fro, looks like Bruce Lee while rocking the club, has tan cheeks, causes girls to look at your body, has passion in your pants and is not afraid to show it, wears no shirt and no shoes but you still get service, works out, and wiggles, one has met the necessary conditions (what is required to be sexy) and sufficient conditions (what is enough to be sexy), then not only is one sexy, but you know it.

 

These guys are sexy and they know it.

These guys are sexy and they know it.

 

 

Yeah.

That’s it.

That’s pretty much how you do epistemology. Congratulations. You’re an epistemologist.

You’ve just participated in your first over-analysis of a popular song!

Do you feel like a philosopher?

You should.

So now that you know what it takes to be sexy and know it, are you sexy?

I already know my answer.

And if you’re a philosopher with a blog I’m pretty sure you know your answer, too.

 

 

 

 

NOTE:

If you’re not familiar with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief check them out here:

http://www.ekrfoundation.org/five-stages-of-grief/

SOURCES:

1) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/

2) “I’m Sexy and I Know It”. lyrics by Kenneth Oliver, George Matthew Robertson, Stefan Gordy, David Jamahl Listenbee, and Erin Beck. Copyright. 2011. Kobalt Publishing Ltd.