Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Christmas Activities For Philosophers
It is hard but not impossible to imagine a philosopher actually leaving the comfort of literary life to go out and get a job this Christmas. Given the worldwide demand for creative thought experiments, it is not farfetched to suppose that some philosophers might actually have to consider, for dreaded financial reasons, working, and even that some would do so in a shopping mall during the holiday season just so that they can simultaneously identify and then later reflect on the philosophical problems inherent in the western shopping experience.
That said, there are many other ways to waste time in the name of philosophical inquiry - though few remunerate you for sitting in Starbucks all afternoon to covertly people watch. Even fewer would get paid to watch sports or surf endlessly on the Internet for classic underground comics like Freewheelin' Frank of the Fablous Furry Freak Brothers.
What's a responsible philosopher to do? Many creative philosophers enjoy serving up Cinnabons and report that mindless activity allows them to experience a sudden release from the ceaseless thinking processes that eventually burn out their cognitive functioning, causing them to resort to watching mindless television shows like the Big Bang Theory.
In this respect, getting paid to watch people aimlessly or frantically move about is far more satisfying that mindless television, leaving additional time for considering more important philosophical conundrums, such as the one expressed in the below clip.
Philosophizing while working, while admittedly an extreme deviation from the philosophical playground, feels different from straight literary philosophical thinking. It seems to result in different conclusions about human motivations and the nature of Christmas shopping while permitting more entertaining thoughts along the way such as every present, by nature of the fact that it is a gift, deserves a bow.
Philosophers have to experience the rush of customers yelling and screaming at them in their veins and coronary arteries in order to integrate what is meant by the concept of extreme aggravation. Once philosophers get a taste of this human expression, their thoughts on nature naturally tend toward Chaos and other mind expanding theories.
How, you ask, might getting a job in the mall during Christmas time contribute to advancing any of the established purposes of philosophy? When you are annoyed it might feel vibrantly that the content and direction of philosophical reflection, and the occurrence of "new ideas" of which poetic and artistic individuals frequently speak, are the result of distinctively altering ones patterns of thought - best done, believe me, inside a mall at Christmas time.
Those bright if short-lived annoyances or bursts of enthusiasm do not ultimately sustain promised philosophical value, but they do alter thought experiment results. The happier Cinnabon philosopher cooker's opinion of work-influenced ideation and later afterthought are often diametrically opposed, and when they are not, it is hard to know whether or not it is simply accidental.
It is a cliché to feel chagrined after writing down one's "brillant" ideas during a 10-minute work break high, surrounded with a kind of cinnamon glow of discovery and penetration into hidden truths, that what working in the mall has delivered into introspection is generally devoid of genuine interest or even intelligibility in the sobering aftermath.
The truth is that people think about a lot of junk when they're in a mall, just as they often do when in a research library, no matter how revelatory the flood of ideas may seem while you elbow your way through the crowds as you anxiously seek refuge from the food court.
Can there be exceptions to the false impression gleaned from commercial insight? As a logical matter, yes, of course, but let's not kid ourselves, this thought experiment went awry the first moment the concept of "work" was introduced.