Saturday, June 29, 2013

Praeludium Absurdism

Comic Summa


hen I began writing this treatise, at approximately 15:05, in the summer of 2013, on a day that hit triple digits, causing me to seek refuge in the cool sanctuary of my library, I intended an even more irreverent work than this article might suggest. My model was to be a Robert Burton-like Anatomy of Stick Figuring, a thousand page rumination on Stickfigurism that would dazzle academics and street artists alike.

            My hero and mentor is a Stick Figure. In fact, some of my best friends are Stick Figures, and for better or worse, they serve as my critical guide and conscience.  

            Nevertheless, thinking, or rather, overthinking, is my undoing. Even before an extraordinary series of experiences, I could not sustain the challenge without being profoundly affected. Traces of the marvels and madness associated with thinking abide in this treatise, and yet it may be that all I think is an enthusiastic curiosity for the act of thinking itself.

            When not thinking, I write. I write to cure my thinking and my learnedness. I received the first rudiments of learning from my maternal grandmother, who read to me from the Encyclopedia Britannica and The Reader’s Digest. She said that children’s stories bored her and that someday I would thank her for giving me “bigger thoughts” than those related to Spot’s terrestrial locomotion. She did not quite say it that way, but that is how I like to remember it.

            My thinking has its origins, as "thinking" does for most, in imaginative thought, playing outside with friends, and from books; though my favorite type of intelligence is gathered by means of interpersonal contact ~ the kind provided by human sources. Like all sources of learning, we eventually seek a way to rate the reliability and accuracy of information. Until then, most information sounds a bit like jejunish (jejune gibberish) that can lead one to entertain extraordinary thoughts like those associated with believing there exists an advanced race of beings that created us for their own bemusement. These maundering thoughts can easily affix themselves to the weakly laid synaptic connections our brain makes when trying to organize what is otherwise a recalcitrant mind that yields whenever a random song takes hold of one’s thoughts and refuses to let go… until it is replaced with another seemingly random song or something that breaks the mind-body-song connection. I cannot help but think this phenomenon could be due to poor algorithmic programming. Given what I know about programmers, there is always a glitch that does not get resolved until the software is rolled out to millions of unsuspecting users. I am not saying we were created by an advanced race of superbeings or even a god, mostly because it sounds archaic and metaphysical, but also in part because of the negative connotation associated with religion and "otherworldly" beings and the colorful personalities who plaster conspiracy theories, fractal art, and mathematical spirals found in nature on their Facebook pages. Still, unbiased thinking can lead one to entertain stuff like this if only out sheer entertainment and the recognition that knowing - and therefore judging or labeling - anything for sure is as futile as defining truth or beauty without a comparable by which to make the association, which is then subject to personal experience and interpretation, ad infinitum.

            Thinking about things does not imply believing in them, which is a psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. Being a logician, someone who has studied the modes of reasoning (those that are deemed valid, and those that are deemed fallacious) as well as the use and worth of valid reasoning, the moment someone expresses an adamant belief, a very loud buzzer goes off in my mind and I incline toward questioning all the conclusions that are derived (including my own).

            When this happens, and it does frequently, I find myself smiling. Recurrent smiling, as I have learned, can give others the impression that very little is going on upstairs. Perhaps I am describing a European reaction rather than an American one; nevertheless, people often times make snap judgments before their brain realizes it has even happened.

            Without careful thinking and examination of our thoughts, we cannot have faith in the post hoc rationalizations we make. Speaking of those rationalizations, some readers will skip over this section entirely and go to the first paragraph in chapter one (once available) to determine whether or not this treatise is worth reading; some readers will only read this introductory post or the back of the final publication, deciding right then and there if this treatise is worth buying (or buying into); while some readers will buy this publication solely on account of my extraordinary stick figuring skills and never read a word one.

            There is something about Stick Figures that has struck a cord with me; be it their stylization, their big red heart, or the fluidity of the lines; the more I draw them, the more animated they become. So, it is out of sheer curiosity and entertainment that I write this book; for those people, like me, who find themselves oddly attracted to Stick Figures, curious about their lines, circles, and geometric figures and their aesthetic relationship to thinking.

            At first blush the connection between Stick Figures and thinking might seem a bit odd, a highly unusual linkage, but if you’re anything like me, you’re probably bored by the standard linkages one makes in life and looking for something different. After all, novelty is the brain’s aphrodisiac. 

            Still, others, perhaps even you, are just wondering where all of this is nonsense headed and hoping that I get to the point soon. Of course, that type of thinking would be like going through life with nothing but the end in mind. For whatever reason you felt compelled to read a treatise on Stick Figures, I can tell you that what I have to say about Stick Figures has little to do with any currently fashionable accounts of them ~ not that there are any.

            As such, I deem it necessary to introduce Shakespeare, Dr. Johnson, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Giacomo Leopardi, W.B. Yeats, James Merrill, the Orphic Hart Crane, Walt Whitman, Cormac McCarthy, and many other writers of note as it is, at least in part, their influences that animate my Stick Figures.

            The combination of imaginative literature, philosophical thinking, and Stick Figure drawing is more about appreciating the vast spectrum of thoughts available to us at any given moment than it is about literature or art.

            You might consider this an eristic-like exploration without any reasonable goal, and you easily justify that belief. Still, I like to think that throughout this undertaking I am keeping an eye on objective truth, even if that truth remains seated comfortably in my rearview mirror.

            I aim to entertain more than proving any theories. In a universe where we cannot know truth beyond that which is inherently available to us through our connections to others, formulating any thoughts and/or opinions ~ including the one I just threw out there ~ seems like more of an impossibility than a reality worth pursuing. Moreover, why would I want to define truth or reality? Could it not be a fluid concept we cocreate just because we can?

            I will close with this idea in mind: A is an X. A can also be a Y. Now, why As can be Xs and/or Ys is something that cannot be fully deduced, irrespective of how convincing the reasoning sounds. It is with this thought that I conclude this Praeludium Absurdism.  


8 June 2013

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