I find it hard to stomach sometimes when I realize that numerous others have done everything I seem to think, say, or do. In short, I believe I think in clichés. I’ll write something about ethics or how everything’s relative or whatever and then a couple of weeks later I’ll go and read someone’s extremely familiar argument on it in a book or in my Theology class or some other place. I’ll write a song on the guitar and refine it and think it sounds pretty good and then I’ll hear someone else play it casually at a party. And I was told that I was special. I’m unique and there is no chance that the other 6,000,000,000 people in the world are exactly like me. Yet I’ll hear some lyric in a song that damned just fits what I’m thinking, or feeling to the dot. And a hell of a lot of other people hear it and think that too. So in the middle of a discussion with someone I think of this and how what I’m saying just seems so obvious that I’ll refuse to continue with the thought anymore and recoil in embarrassment. What is a philosophical idea? I believe I’d define it as a perspective. A stance on something taking everything you know about it and…doing what? It’s like a geometrical proof: A is given, and you have X, Y, and Z, you can manipulate it all, and then C is whatever. You have to break something down to its components and use things that you know are “true”, processes that you know work, organizing it in some way that will paint a picture of what it “means” and help you come to a logical conclusion of how it fits in with your world. So why can people take the same things and look at them differently? If everything is taken into account how can there be differing opinions? Perhaps perspectives are little more than ignoring nuances of this “everything”, obviously not taking it all into account, although even if you could, most of us would probably agree that this process isn’t so logical and there is still a good possibility that two people could look at the same thing differently. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- As a disclaimer, like I said before, I find that I tend to think in clichés…as in all the time and I can’t really escape them. This leads me to realize that everything I’ll type or say is pretty obvious, so bear with me on that one. I’m not sure I am (or anyone else is) able to just make something up out of thin air. Also, I hope you see at least some of the sardonic features to this. Sex, of course, is not evil; I'm just making fun of the “moral” preachers (preachers not referring to Christianity itself). This is just a bitter rant, keep that in mind. This being said… What is materialism? What about that question of “can money buy you happiness?" Often in any "moral" story *booming voice* money has a tendency to corrupt! It spills over and spoils our minds, gets in the way of the so-called "true" spiritual path, right? But what is this path? Unless we want to destroy our image of self (which by the way I have tried and have now realized I do not agree/sympathize with), it without question must be a personally-tailored fit. Yet I think that a lot of institutions treat people as disposable. Take, for example, a person failing a class. If we get rid of the possibility of a lack of work (say two people put the same amount of effort into it, and one of them doesn’t fail) what we do now is question that person’s inability to learn from the class. Why not question the class’s inability to teach the person? A lot of people would write this off and say that person A is just more intelligent that person B, but I wouldn’t be so quick to judge. I hope that some time in the future we will be able to fit things to a person versus the person molding themselves to something else. This is an extension of what I was talking about last issue. Should we mold ourselves to philosophies or them to us? Or should we start out with a blank slate and totally create our own? So to get back to the original question, I believe those of us to whom this applies we must ask these questions: What do we want to get out of life? (And perhaps this question doesn't need to be answered, though if it doesn't then neither does...) What makes us happy? Many approach this dilemma the "wrong" (and I put this in quotes because there isn't exactly a right or wrong, but you'll get my point) way -- instead of trying to find those answers, it's easier to deduct what one doesn't want to do, what doesn't produce happiness. *with vigor* I tell you all that MONEY, POWER, SEX AND DRUGS are EVIL! The devil! They only and without fail lead to the worst imaginable end you can't even conceive, my friends! We must look elsewhere! This is wrong and so is that and oh yeah, that too and all of this stuff. It sure doesn’t lead to happiness, right? Right? Right? Hah. So what is right? Perhaps by abiding by a certain set of rules, something tried and true that just maybe you can convince yourself to accept -- to whole-heartedly believe that that is the way. Nirvana, death, heaven, the mountains, celibacy -- whatever you look forward to -- hey, just do it, right? Hell, I'm not sure and I guarantee that no one really is sure -- there's always that question. That annoying second-guess that just keeps popping up and that you just keep pushing down farther and farther so that one day you hope it will just disappear and you can finally sit in peace, content with what you've chosen. Well, you know what I say? I say let us not be content. Change your mind a thousand times and question what you're doing over and over until you just can't take it anymore and then maybe you'll realize that stagnation is just that -- stagnant. Bad things brew when you stand still -- you don't grow, adapt; you just slowly wither away and rot and become ignorant of the world around you -- and oh! Look at that! This brings up another old phrase: Ignorance is bliss. And you know what? It is. I’ve often see when a person finally thinks their way is right they'll just ignore and not take into consideration anything else that challenges it -- that opposes it. And keep in mind that this is one you get rid of those second-guesses, those hesitations. I've finally realized that nothing is right and there's no absolution and everything I've ever tried to adhere to eventually exposes some malice, some inconsistency or whatever. And well, I could go on but here's this: what I've asserted, proposed, suggested, really and truly doesn't make you happy in itself. It makes you unsure and not attached and gives you nothing to base anything off of, no bearing with which to orient yourself -- generally unhappy. But don’t take this the wrong way: generally means generally. Most people don’t like these things – they don’t like uncertainty, they don’t like being ungrounded. They don’t like to question everything they’ve ever known. What I mean by “generally unhappy” isn't that what I've suggested leads to that. When you are unhappy, you can only be unhappy insofar as you can compare it to a prior state of happiness. When you are happy you can only recognize that happiness in contrast with a prior state of unhappiness. This means that a constant state of general unhappiness is not even a possibility. It's another sarcastic comment about how most people don't like those things -- they don't like uncertainty, they don't like being ungrounded. They don't like to question everything they've ever known. This doesn't make me unhappy, but it does a lot of others. Someone told me that money can’t buy you happiness and love, but happiness and love can’t buy you ****. But I'm not sure I agree. It seems to suggest that life is more about **** than love or happiness. Which is obviously absurd. All of the **** in the world is not going to make you fulfilled. Whatever the hell fulfillment is, well that's an entirely different conversation. But I promise that if you put forth the effort to fill your life with people you love, who can fool you into thinking you are happy for any amount of time, you will have some kind of vague notion of what it feels like to be a fulfilled human being, whether or not this fulfillment is an illusion (makes absolutely no difference.) Frankly, I think it's all an illusion. Reality's a *****, through and through. Happiness is sort of a disregard with whatever bad is happening around you, or at least an acceptance of it all and some form of optimism. But then again reality's as much of an illusion as anything, so that doesn't make sense either. I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to have your mental well-being secured, find what makes you temporarily calm, content, happy, (material or not) and stick with it and convince yourself that that is what’s it. Stick to the illusion if you can’t handle what’s around you, it’s a sure-fire way to be happy at least some of the time. But hopefully you won’t see your “belief” (philosophy) as an illusion and that it can live in harmony with this ever-changing present. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go. Go.