Tuesday, July 31, 2012

French Summer Wisdom

While normally Parisian social interactions are distant and cold, the sun seems to bring out another, more joyful, and more conversant expression.

Walking through the Places des Vosges, I am immediately struck by the number of people lying on the grass reading books, playing music, chasing toddlers, and just relaxing, taking in the sun. 

Despite the ravages of humidity - which is ravenous - summer time in Paris is actually quite lovely. The days are long with the sun rising tentatively before 6am and reluctantly going down around 10ish. For those of us dog walkers, the sunlight, both morning and night, offers better visibility and perhaps a little more confidence with respect to one's own safety during those early morning and late evening walks. 

As a foreign guest living in Paris, summer gives me an opportunity to learn new words and expressions that I might not otherwise learn given France's general climate. 

The first thing I learned how to say, out of pure necessity, I tell you, was "J'ai rien à me mettre, il faut absolument que j'aille faire du shopping." 

Which loosely translated means, "I have nothing to wear. I need to go shopping." 

Interestingly enough, this is a phrase that can be utilized during any season and will no doubt carry over for me come fall when the new lines are released. 

While I've spotted a few provinciaux roaming the streets in search of women in short skirts, the general atmosphere is of cheerful human beings who know when to shorten the workday to go sit at a café and take in a little of their own French culture.  

Summer is when French wisdom is most visible. 

T'as vu le soleil?! 
Il faut absolument en profiter. 

(It's so sunny out! We totally need to go out and enjoy it... )

Look! A Congressman...

Look!  A congressman. 

I am rethinking my study of philosophy. It's study is death. I want to study life. The experience of Being. Delight. Comedy. Laughter. Admiration. Loyalty. Love. 

I feel like an audience of one watching humanity, questioning its greatest roles and characters, fools and victims, heros and villains. Poetic arguments that lie beyond time. So that, they’re against time. Whereas, I am bound by it. Why seek that which cannot be sought? What relevance can we find? 

Life can be like a pervasive irony, a private joke demeaning us. A great stage of fools, we are.  

Is it foolish to imagine immortality? Do we not live on forever in our own minds? Where exactly is infinity? Within ourselves? How can we conceive of something that is outside us?  Are Homer’s Zeus and Yahweh’s God nothing more than storytelling conveniences? A third-person perspective from a first-person viewpoint? Like the gods of wind and rain, we construct immortal beings from a mortal frame of reference. Given our mortality, why is our imagination not bound by it?

What if? What if there is something beyond that moment of deathly havoc? My question begs mortality to conceive of immortality in a place where death competes for our consciousness; delivering us to a prophetic war of divided sensibility. And for what? A profound sense of accomplishment for the ego? The ability to decipher the undecipherable? An endless quest, struggling to overcome that which cannot be reached. 

The difference, you ask? Perhaps in the choice not to seek. Wrestling ourselves away from the strife of humankind, victory can be sought in imagination, with ordinary reality a symbol of peace. Where purpose is rhetorical and acceptance, while hardly a glorifier, still fills you from within. 

No distortions. Just quiet, unique instances that don’t struggle to overcome the nameless ones. 

Laughter Release

Laughter releases us from the bondage of helplessness. 
Death is hilarious, only because we cannot escape it.

Unlike Hamlet who chose self’s freedom, I believe we can exist in harmony, loyal to those for whom we toil, while enjoying that which in ourselves we need.

(it's about time; just do it!) 

The Humanity of Comedy

Comedy thrives in the collective appreciation of our own humanity. We laugh at the limitations we cannot escape; from the accidental slip on a banana peel to the more subtle ironies we recognize in our own complexities, to the profound magnitude of the unknown. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Facebook Ad Populum

The Facebook ad populum appeals to popular attitudes about being popular on Facebook instead of presenting relevant material. In other words, it is based on prejudice. It exploits the known propensity of people to accept that which fits in comfortably with their preconceptions. The popular prejudices may or may not be justified, but the post, when it appears on the news feed, makes the speakers case based upon a Facebook ad populum

The Facebook ad populum is often equated with mob appeal, with inflaming passions and prejudices more appropriate to mass hysteria than to rational discourse. Popular Facebook orators make a career of the Facebook ad populum, choosing words calculated to raise the emotional temperature. 

Those who rely on Facebook ad populum take the easy way out. Instead of building up a case which carries conviction, they resort to playing on the emotions of the multitude. This is not sound logic, although it may result in a lot of "likes" and "share(s)". 

Consider, for example, the following: 

Conceivably these students might have developed a case for shaving their heads, and restoring their friend's sense of dignity on graduation day, but by appealing to a popular acceptance of loyalty and respect, and to popular support for do-gooders, the person who posted this picture turned a benevolent moment into a larger crowd willing to shave their heads. 

The traditional villans of Facebook ad populum have been the ones who engineer the updates for the software, stressing out users and giving them loads to talk about. Although they play a negligible role in the Facebook experience, so powerful was their hold on popular prejudice that a whole host of new Facebook groups opened up just to respond to the changes. 

Dear Enlightenment

Dear Enlightenment, 

Could you please hurry it up a bit; 
I'm in a hurry! 

Sophy ()♫♪

सफेद हाथी

Welcome to my dream...

This dream is so fun, I had to share it! 


I have this recurring dream where I am dancing in this Bollywood like movie, everyone is happy and laughing and joyful... I'm there as myself as well as this elaborately decorated white elephant! 

This is a very happy dream. I feel peaceful and celebratory, like everyone's let their hair down - agendas left at the door - and all are celebrating being alive. 

This is one route to enlightenment... should you so choose to dance your way to eternity! 

I Googled "Happy Dancing Hindu Elephant God" 
and got this: 
Lord Ganesha

Its extra arms are like all the arms in my dream, moving around to the flow of the music. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nietzsche Walks into the Vatican

Nietzsche: If Saint Peter holds up the Vatican, what holds up St. Peter?

The PopeSt. Peter stands on Jesus' shoulders. 

Nietzsche: What what does Jesus stand on? 

The Pope: God's testimony. 

Nietzsche: On what is God's testimony based? 

The Pope: My dear Nietzsche, it's God all the way down! 

Come for the wine,
Stay for the punchline...

Nietzsche walks into a Vatican promising to delight the hierarchy of truths with a stand-up comedy routine when he's stopped by a Swiss Guard.

"What's your business with the Papa?" Asks the Guard.

"I was invited here to perform a stand-up comedy routine...
About man's relationship to God...
It's called:

The Last Act

"Name kinda sticks with you, huh?" 
Says Nietzsche, high-fiving the guard. 

The guard checks the register, and sure enough, Nietzsche's on the list. 

A couple hours later...

If you're looking for the creator of man, of time and space, and of the world, look no further. 

We've finally found ourselves. 

What's this? asks a Cardinal. 

You're not suggesting that we are God?

Nietzsche pauses for a moment, then without skipping a beat, shouts: 

"Hey, who's that guy standing behind the Creator over there?" 

And everybody looked. 

"Where?" they asked. "We don't see anything." 

Nietzsche, continues and says:
If God is the Creator of the Universe, 
How come you looked to see who was standing behind him? 

I'll be here all night, 
don't forget to tip your waitress...

Bicycle Wisdom

Cycling puts you in a stream that ebbs and flows, with elements like images and form that combine to create a coherent stream of moving thought. The theme that best describes the feeling of cycling is found in Taoist teachings, which develop the personal and social transformative potential of expanding consciousness with reference to flow. Literally, the "proper way or path," as Tao described it, is "a patterned flow of the universe" and "deeper harmony, a moving point of equilibrium and balance." 

Laozi must have been a cyclist at heart, and would have no doubt left on a bicycle had one been invented at the time. 

A life lived in congruence with the Tao is understood to bring "creative quietude," the wu wei or as cyclists call it the zone. 

Cycling offers one supreme satisfaction after a long day's ride... a precious suppleness, simplicity, and freedom that flowed through us leaves us satisfied in much the same way as does living life in congruence with the Tao. 

In this respect, cycling offers a distinctly East meets West flavor.  Cycling can be described a transcendent state that goes beyond self, consciousness, or being. This movement gained awareness from the moment Baron von Drais, in 1817, invented his Draisienne. 

While the terrain upon which this hobby horse was effective was severely limited to parks and gardens, the experience was still described as the sense of an ability to balance challenges in front of one's self with a capacity to meet them. Here, the bicycle is integrated as an extension of self. 

Other common elements are intense concentration of attention, with a clear sense of control of one's actions and what needs to be done from moment to moment (although time may be distorted such that minutes seem like hours or hours seem like minutes). The flow experience is optimal in striking the right balance between one's set of cycling skills and challenges met along the road, resulting in a reduction of stress, concerns, and thoughts that might otherwise keep someone feeling stuck or unable to keep moving forward. 

Certain legs of the pathway are felt to be intrinsically rewarding; irrelevant distractions - such as traffic stop lights - are excluded, with a perception of immediate feedback about how well the ride is going. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Neolithic Advance of Humor

Neolithic times took the hand axe ...

to art

from which


grew into humor


The book Following the Sun (p. 246) described Danish tribes contemporaneous with the pictures:

During the Neolithic period, agriculture and cattle herding became part of their livelihood in both Denmark and Scotland, and around 1000 B.C. the Danes began building large moundgraves, which have been the source of rich archaeological troves. One of these artifacts was a bronze chariot found at Trundholm Bog in northwest Zealand, dated about 1400 B.C. The artifact resembles a child's pull toy. It is a wheeled horse...