Tuesday, August 31, 2010


What is love? Other than "Baby don't hurt me" I haven't heard too many answers. So then, how are we to begin in this philosophical pursuit. As any other, with deconstruction and examination of existing definitions and the determination of definitions for this particular inquiry.

What is love?

Love has many definitions, but if we examine the most common, we will soon discover the solution. Love is traditionally defined as one of three types. There is agape, eros, and philia. Modern Greek has come up with a word for natural love as well, storge. The modern type refers only to familial love, love that is said to be natural. I, however, disagree with this classification for several reasons. There are several reasons to believe that storge is not anymore natural than any other type of love. Love develops from affection into something stronger, so I am arguing that familial love is not a new "natural" type of love as much as it is a classification of a developed love. Freud would have often believed that the Oedipal and Electra complex is due to our original tie to our paternal figure as the only opposite sex we know within the first period of our life. We begin to form our gender schema of the opposite gender from them, and often the parent of the opposite sex is the first person that you say you love. This explains such phenomena as the latest Mrs. Woody Allen. (Get it? Almost-Incest jokes!)

So, for the purpose of the discussion, we will assume that storge is either an awkward composite of some of the other three types of love, or what I perceive it to be- philia. Philia is known as the fraternal love. It is the love we feel amongst friends that we are not attracted to physically. Whether it is a girl or a boy, if you are not attracted to them at all physically, it is fraternal love, philia. So if it is fraternal, than how can we say that it is the same way in which we love our parents? I would argue that we feel a fraternal bond that differentiates itself through the respect and esteem we give those who are twenty years our superiors in age and experience. Over time, when teens are in angst and claim hatred of their parents, it is because there is no longer respect for them from a foolish teenager who has lived slightly over twelve years and think that they have seen all there is to see; and when they are no longer are friends with their parents, whom often isolate children unintentionally through the necessity of their busy schedules.

The reason I refuse to classify a combination of philia and respect as a new type of love all on its own is because respect, is in no real way a game-changer. I can love my idiot friend who is a loveable-oaf and constantly doing stupid actions and not respect him, the same way I can respect a past professor without loving him. Furthermore, in a certain sense, true philia might require respect to express a more true and sincere feel of equality within the framework of fraternal love. So if anything, storge does nothing more but express what philia truly intends to express in a full and true fraternal love. Philia describes the commitment we see in true comradery. A love of brothers that would die for one another.

Eros is the fundamental component that ignites Agape. Eros is the term used to refer to passion. A passionate love is usually one that begins with sensation. This often means a physical reaction to physical beauty. There can, however, be eros between two people without sexuality. Say two people are passionate about the same interests, it creates a love and passion between two common fans that can be transferred into a mutual sort of self-appreciation in which people see their own passions in others as an admirable or desirable trait.

Plato used the term eros stating that it often transcends a love for another person when it transcends physicality. It ceases to be an admiration of a person and becomes the admiration of beauty. Eros is the love that we live to someday feel, one of exhilaration and excitement. This is why young love is often one short-lived. We will use an archetypal romantic experience for the common person in today's society to examine the way that eros, philia, and agape interrelate.

Two people fall in love, Person A upsets Person B by pointing out an imperfection. Person B is offended and either leaves or is told to leave. Person A either accepts this departure, as they reject Person B due to their imperfections; or, Person A returns to Person B, apologetic that they had seen such imperfection as irreconcilable.  Unfortunately for Person A, (except in the case of the most perfect tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, in which neither character sees the other nor develops their views and both meet their end thinking that they understood love) Person B usually has seen this criticism as insincerity within the other person. They have been attacked and their reconsideration of their own feelings has led to the realization that Plato is correct: "I was admiring the idea of romantic love and not actually loving a person."

This disillusionment is not impossible to overcome, though it is rare that Person B can do so while dating the same person who now represents to them "the idea of love." What is more likely to happen is that Person B will find Person C. What person B does not know is that for Person B to fall in love, it must be with a person who appears to be sincerely passionate in all of their endeavors, so as not to fall into the same trap as Person B. Person C and Person B might fall in love, but it will once again be eros. What Person B does not know, is that Person C is so easily passionate in every endeavor because Person C does not commit to any of their passions, with Person B as no exception. Person B will then be taught the same lesson they once taught Person A. When times get rough, Person B is forced to make a choice: commit or abandon. If he abandons he will be just as Person C, passionate but fleeting. But for Person B to ascend to true love, he must realize he must commit wholeheartedly to his endeavors. Eventually, because Person C was defined as passionate but fleeting, Person C will leave.

Person B, must then come across the same exam they gave to Person A when they left. That test is as follows: Is commitment ever worth it? This statement can be rephrased in this way: Hedonism or agape?

Agape is what I choose to describe as a blend between Philia and Eros. The phrase it most easily equates to in colloquial American English is "in love" as opposed to simply "love." Agape can best be described as a blend between commitment and passion. When someone is in love, it combines what you live for with what you would die for. Passion makes the relationship beautiful and fun, whereas commitment makes it meaningful and stable. Each day of Agape, Person B will awake and see the person he loves with the same beauty and vibrancy as the first day the two met. Person B will remember that it is the imperfections that allow for such a complete picture of beauty. Person B will see the beauty within each person. When Person B finds someone willing to accept it, Person B will give their wholehearted devotion. So Person B waits for Person D, a mysterious newcomer or someone whom Person C might become and whom Person A might have always been.

In a way, Person B is no longer Person B. Person A and B started out as young lovers whom had no value to their love. Person C has the appearance of a genuine passion, but still no value in its fleeting graces. Person D, the long sought after lover is passionate but committed. It can be said that there are three classes of lovers. Those ignorant of passion, those who feel passion constantly,and those who are constant when they feel passion. A person constant with their passion can only love another of the same sort. The two remain independent and grow; teaching and learning with each other. Both must show each other the world and both must see more of it each day. A tag team of dreamers and artists seeking knowledge and beauty together. Someone willing to be loved and love back, willing to leap without looking, willing to jump without falling. That is love.


The validity and value of lucid dreaming has only been recognized by the scientific community since about 1978. However, Lucid dreaming is almost as old as history. The Hindu culture wrote on lucid dreaming as early as 1000 B.C.E. and Aristotle refernced a knowledge of lucid dreaming in his treatise entitled On Dreams in the year 350 B.C. Before the Reformation and Enlightenment, the Catholic church and some of the most famous philosophers of the era begin to dismiss some dreams as false and others as true, creating a subjective value that cost dreams any significance in the scientific community and Western Culture. However, at the end of Descartes' Meditations, Descartes dismisses his own Dream Skepticism, as he recognizes that he can tell the difference between a dream and reality. This is a mere hint to where we can see a record of his own lucid dreams in a private journal entitled by future students of the work as: The Olympica.

Controlling your own dream creates limitless potential. You can build your own world, live your greatest fantasies, you can fly and you can defy physics entirely. There are few rules in dreaming, but since their rules are different than the confines of our common reality, it creates an alluring place for people to assert control.

However, not many people realize that this attitude and practice can also be applied to our waking lives. In Waking Life, a film by Richard Linklater, we follow a boy walking through a dream. He encounters nothing but what seem to be disconnected and unrelated experiences, occasionally with recurring characters. After reading The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre's autobiagraphy, I can say that I am beginning to understand Waking Life to a much greater extent. In Waking Life, the main character slowly begins to become lucid. He must struggle with the knowledge that his experiences are but a dream and that they are merely fleeting moments.

Although this describes dreams perfectly, it also describes reality in a vague sense. For example, when we take a look of Zeno's paradox of motion.

"If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless." -Aristotle, Physics VI:9 239b

Motion appears to be an illusion when we consider that within each moment, a unit we can assume to be the smallest divisible unit of time, we can take a snapshot of reality in which no motion occurs. Motion can not occur within this instant because it takes time to travel any distance. If time is removed and we examine an individual space on the spectrum of time, a single moment, then there is no observable motion. Which means that at this particular instant, I am only where I currently am and no motion is occurring. How then am I able to type and push these different keys if there is no motion between these instants? If motion does not occur in any particular instant within time- then how can motion exist?

There is a fleeting disconnect between each moment of time that it is difficult to grasp. We are not floating through time space, but we are one singular object. We exist as one entity from the moment we are born until the end. Any change is just an illusion created by a limited perspective. So then, does predestination exist? Yes, but it matters not- for the illusion of freedom is enough to guide us all pragmatically. If freedom does not truly exist, than we must re-invent it so that it may. So then, what about the possibility of a multi-verse? Does this create possibility, or does the illusion of possibility create a multi-verse? And if this multi-verse can possibly exist, does it's potential existence demand that it must? I say, no. Many people posit the possibility that the only moment that exists is the present one and that all past moments are merely illusions, implanted as false memories within the very singular moment of the present. This only becomes problematic when we begin to take our memories for falsehoods instead of experiences. If in the moment, we accept the possibility of infinite falsehoods and confirm our reality, than we are in better shape than most could hope to be.

But wait, just pick one at random and that's it? I know I'm leaning heavily on rhetorical questions, but bear with me. No, I reject that answer even more-so than living in doubt. That answer is to reject human development. It is laziness incarnate. It is what separates the Ubermensch from the nihilist; it separates happiness and meaning from abysmal despair. So then, we can do nothing but determine our limitations and how our lives can best be lived.

"On this bridge, Lorca warns: Life is not a dream, beware, and beware, and beware. And so many think because then happened, now isn't. But didn't I mention? The ongoing WOW is happening right NOW. We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance, for even our inabilities are having a roast. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic Dostoevsky novel starring clowns... An assumption developed that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely, which is to say, I do not exactly disagree. I would say that life understood is life lived. But, the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me, and on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Before you drift off, don't forget, which is to say remember, because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting: Lorca, in that same poem, said that the Iguana will bite those who do not dream, and as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person's dream... that is self-awareness!"

We are the clowns that star in our own novels. We can write our own characters and live our own lives hoping to be Shakespeare's comedy- a story with a happy ending. So why would we avoid writing them to be the best stories we could possibly imagine? To understand life is to live it, in the way that we must read before we write. We must know the rhetoric of the language before we attempt to use it, or all meaning is lost. But is it simple enough to understand? It is a difficult question. Knowledge demands its use. You can not know things and never use them, or else you effectively know nothing. Fill your life with knowledge as if it were passion and you were living life as passionately as one could hope to live. This creates quite the paradox- quite the art and quite the beauty. How then are we to write our lives when so much of it is unpredictable? When other authors will stumble over us and when we know so little of the world around us? The answer lies in reading. Always read as much as you plan to write. keep the readings relevant and learn all that you can before your pen touches the paper. And once you start writing, don't stop reading. Always read as much as you plan to write.

And now for the final line. The (imagine your own accents) coup de grace of the self. A destruction of all knowledge long since sought by Descartes; a restoration to a Socrates just before we can build to a life worth living. A book worth reading as you write it.

What of those who don't dream? Some who refuse to face their selves and refuse to hope and evolve as a person. They will be bitten. This is no longer about real dreams, or it at least transcends them. For in his poem Lorca cries out:
"Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths"

We must live in a real and grounded world with hopes and aspirations and the will to continue to move in a world where death is not our inevitable destination, though it is inevitable. I will not live forever in the conventional sense, but I will live forever. I am unlimited as I exist in someone else's dream. I can control it to an extent, I am fleeting and I am dependent on something outside of myself for my reality. I am self-aware. Once someone wakes up, I will not exist. But in this dream I can do just about whatever I want to do, remembering that I am only a reflection of where I am.

The eternity in this instant is enough to satisfy me, but to be happy I use this instant wholeheartedly to make an unforeseeable next instant better. In Sartre's view, we are constantly redefining ourselves, an incomplete work until the exact instant of our death. Only in death are we entirely complete. So then, with an uncertain deadline we should do nothing more than to make the most perfect works we can. We must write our magnum opus, realizing that our greatest work should be ourselves. So read on, and learn to write. Then write the best you can. Lucidity is the key.






Sunday, August 29, 2010


Art is described by Heidegger as being aesthetically pleasing or otherwise beauty because it effectively removes an object from its purpose to show it as it truly is. Heidegger's main focus in his work on Aesthetics is arguable the "A Pair of Shoes" done by Van Gogh. By painting shoes, a mundane object that we use to protect our feet, it shows us it's form it's essence. Shoes suddenly become beautiful once you can't wear them.

It is the for-itself that makes the in-itself valuable. The infinitely abysmal lack of purpose that moves us. The truly beautiful is not real. So then is the subject of all art without purpose? No, but it is often a statement that moves us in a specific way for a specific end or literal purpose. Heidegger's ideal form of art is that of the poem, his example being: "The Roman Fountain" by C.F. Meyer. Poetry often has a purpose. So how then can art with a purpose be beautiful? Examining a poem, I personally prefer verse and rhyme schemes because they evoke more emotion when read. Every syllable, every word is chosen for the most specific of meanings and it conveys language so well that it's beauty arises not out of what it's saying, but how it says it. Still removed.

My favorite art form of late has been the paradox. Logic removed from it's purpose. Recently, Scott Adams made a blog post that was full of words intended to make you feel a specific way, without really saying anything.


I can't explain the way it emotionally moved me when I first read it. I can't explain it because I don't understand it. I just felt feelings with no idea why I was feeling them.

Take a look at some of the more famous paradoxes:

This sentence is a lie.

A simple and obvious paradox. This doesn't engage the reader as much. But if you try to wrap your head around it. To logically combat it, you are met with frustration. You know you can't beat it, but you're tempted to try. Why can such a sentence exist? It evokes an emotion a desire that can never be fulfilled all within the instant that you finish the last proposition that the sentence asserts against itself.

And brought to you by wikipedia:
"If there is an exception to every rule, then every rule must have at least one exception; the exception to this one being that it has no exception." "There's always an exception to the rule, except to the exception of the rule — which is, in of itself, an accepted exception of the rule."

Art is everywhere. And I'll leave with a quote:

"I would say that life understood is life lived. But, the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me, and on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To Live is to Dream

If you can control your dreams, you can do anything. I tried to fly in a dream once, when I realized it was dreaming. I could only jump really high, as if the gravity was less intense but still there. Something was still holding me to the ground.

I was born a romantic. A curse only made such through brief encounters with reality. When I wanted to be an author I would fix the world with my stories. When I wanted to be a lawyer, it would be my last name up on the building. When I wanted to be a lover the relationship would last forever and our love would only be exceeded by our friendship. But relationships seldom last forever. What's worse is that the romance stops. The love seems to fade and the feelings dim down. The passion dies. What then is a romantic to do when the Passion he lives for fades? A deep depression and an introspective recoil into solitude and sadness. Passion can't be created, so then what can I do? Can a passion for romance and commitment keep a relationship alive? Only questions from this point forward. I know nothing, I never have.

But wait- a clear and crisp whisper in my ear. From the person you would expect it the least telling me the opposite of what I need to hear. A trick so deceptive that its falsehood writes the truth. I am a man in a novel. I am the author and the pen. Passion is nothing without commitment, a spark means nothing unless it's a fire. So burn bright and bring lots of fire wood. The whisper? The trick to success is to succeed. A truth so glaring and obvious that it can only be understood through hypocrisy. The minute you stop being your worst enemy, you become your best friend. Live life, appreciate art and read before you write.


I realized the reason that Futurama is my favorite show, or rather- why it's so good. Matt Groening and David Cohen are two of the most hilarious people to ever grace the television writing population. They are talented and have written a works that literally was so good that it became a defining and pivottal moment in our culture. The Simpsons is so big that it is still growing and evolving beyond the grasp of its original creators.

Keep in mind that this was done through the limited scope of a family living in an unspecified town living in a real world that they had concocted. Based on his own experiences as a boy, Groening probably had most of The Simpson's written for him as he lived it. Imagining the people in his life exaggerated to their most hilarious extent, Groening is able to personify his beliefs and values as they were originally developed.

However, Futurama, is what I believe to be Groening's true magnum opus. Unconstrained, Cohen and Groening work in a world that is unlimited. The characters are infinite in a world where everyone and anyone can be immortal. The future allows for any setting, and ridiculous science fiction thought experiment, and any satire that they wish to exemplify through an extreme.

But of course what makes Futurama, which David X. Cohen and Groening are so aware, are the characters. Each one is developed so well. The punchlines and the jokes only improve with the character humor. There can be a meaningful episode that can make you cry, and it can also be the funniest. What makes Futurama funny is their commitment to the characters and the fans' commitment to the show.

This punchline is perfect. Who would say it? This is the order in which a good writer often thinks. They come up with a good idea and find a way to make it happen. To make fiction into reality. And that's what Futurama best exemplifies. The show that is so good it becomes the fiction which it tells. Like Jules Verne, bro. Someone still needs to go to the center of the earth though. I mean, seriously? Submarines took like less than 50 years for the submarine. Come on, guys.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Modern Culture

We live in the greatest time to be alive. Anything is possible and we have unlimited capabilities. The story of the capitalist is that of the self-made man. But in a world with limited resources not everyone can be self-made. So then what? A Brave New Dystopia has emerged where people live meaningless lives.

In a world where we are free to discover our own morality, so many fall trap to the dangers of middle-class hedonism. There is no commitment in a world that protects individual freedoms and rights. So many fall victim to the normalization of a society that exists with no purpose.

People interact and encounter and follow only their present desires. Dreamers are rare. Everybody dreams but the cowards choose to forget them, to live their life and become "successful" instead of becoming happy. They forget themselves. They ignore the possibility of created value. Men forgo the scenic route in life for the more efficient path, never stopping or slowing to admire the scenery. They race down the road so that they can turn around once they've run out of gas just to say "I sure drove pretty far," is too busy driving to realize that they're not driving anywhere at all.

So stop and remember the sites you've always wanted to see, the places you've always wanted to be. Don't ever use your mirrors, either. Just look out the window to the sides and know where you're going, always. Drive the most beautiful route, live the most beautiful life. Play some jazz.