Nihilism often gets a bad rap. Unlike other philosophical doctrines, nihilism is usually not a fully encompassing belief system. Although we tend to group people like Nietzsche and Camus into the nihilist camp, few philosophers or authors actively identify as purely nihilistic. Philosophers who tend to use bleak views of the world might do so in order to emphasize the reasons for holding a more positive outlook. As Camus says in The Myth of Sisyphus, “Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable.” The absurdity of the universe, rather than being disparaging, can instead be an acknowledgment that we are responsible for our own purpose. It is that self determination that, while acknowledging we may live in a world void of meaning, allows us the freedom to form our own happiness.Read More
In 2013, I met with a group of LGBT activists in Wellington, New Zealand. During introductions, everyone gave their name and their preferred gendered pronouns. I believe this was the first time I was introduced to the concept of defining ones own pronouns, which has become more common all around the world. I find this growing trend problematic for a number of non-political reasons. Not only does it create an ability to offend directly within the language, but it defeats an important trait in the evolution of language, and thereby increases cognitive load in basic conversation. Language is representative of both things in our physical world and abstract concepts. However when you really break down natural language, it’s all metaphor. Defining pronouns for oneself breaks those metaphors and hinders our ability to relate to each other in our basic conversations.Read More
Are we in a simulation? What some may perceive as a trope used in science fiction is a serious topic for some researchers. Bostrom’s 2003 paper on simulation theory postulates that if humanity continues on our currently trend of increasing technological development, we will reach a state where we could eventually be able to, at least partially, simulate the reality we currently live in. We could also invent said technology, but choose not to pursue simulating a world like ours, or we could simply go extinct. If the technology is feasible and extinction is avoidable, how would we know if we are already in a simulation that others have built?Read More
Love conquers all. It’s a cliché and trope that’s been used in stories for as long as humans have been telling stories, but is it true? If love could truly move us past any boundary, then why can’t it overcome spousal abuse, infidelity, suicide or poverty. Are these things a result of a lack of love, by either individuals, families or society, or is our capacity to love a finite resource?Read More
A friend of mine recently invited me to an Asian & Pacific Islanders Open Mic, hosted by Luya Poetry in Chicago. The event billed itself as “…a welcoming space for poets of color, with an emphasis on Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Islanders to express themselves, [and] share their stories…“. The open mic was part of a larger series of events in the National Poetry Slam. Both my friend and I were expecting a variety of poems about life and love, that happened to be told by Asian/Pacific people. Instead, the majority of the works focused around simply being Asian, racism, cultural assimilation, and personal stories of trauma.
I knew this type of show was likely, but I was still hoping for something more diverse. I don’t want to diminish the personal stories and experiences of all the poets who went up on the open mic. As writers and poets, telling our stories can be a way to bring others into our world and perspective. I just wish that every story didn’t have to start and end with a theme surrounding race; something that not all minorities hold as an integral part of our identities.Read More
I went to University in a small town whose population reduced by a third when school was out of session. Past the edge of town was a state park filled with amazing waterfalls, but if you turned off a few roads early, you’d come to a dead end. Beside the road was a trail that led back between houses and down to a secluded creek, a series of cliffs and a maze of paths used by dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. We spent weekends exploring this crazy area which so few people knew about.
Today it’s now officially part of the larger state park network. The old entrance has been closed off and an official parking lot has been built three kilometers away. Many of the most amazing trails have been closed off to the world, either sighting safety concerns or with no trespassing signs indicating the borders of private property. What was once a place of imagination and exploration became tamed. Other hikers I met from that era are glad the area is preserved, but I could hear the sense of loss and nostalgia in their voices; that feeling of saudade from that time when we felt like we were on the frontier, trekking through an undiscovered country in our own backyards. On those weekends, between the deadlines of projects, assignments, fraternity parties and final exams, we spent time exploring, both our world and ourselves.Read More
In 2015, due to a series of events, I began a journey across the globe where I lived out of two bags for eleven months. In May of 2017, I left my full time job and started another journey, this time driving across the US. It’s been several months since I started this new minimalist adventure, and it’s not been entirely what I expected. I’ve seen a lot of amazing friends and family. I’ve had a couple of setbacks. I’ve struggled with people, relationships and burnout. My journey is not quite over, but I’ve already learned a considerable amount about myself, people and America.Read More
“I only dance when I’ve been drinking,” is one of those phrases every social dancer had heard when attempting to encourage a friend to come learn how to dance. It’s not the same as saying, “I don’t dance,” which is a mere acknowledgment that dancing is something one does not enjoy (or thinks they will not enjoy). To qualify the necessity for alcohol often implies that one may like to express oneself through movement, but has difficulty dealing with the self-perceived embarrassment. Such people may fear allowing themselves to feel silly, unless they are under the influence of a substance that can reduce that anxiety. But learning to be silly, together and fully aware, and to move our bodies to music in ways that evoke powerful emotions of love and life, can grant people a freedom to create and enjoy the art form known as dancing.Read More
At a dinner table, a chap complains about 9am meetings with team members on the other side of the country, and how these early morning meetings, every workday for a year, feel draining and endless. A women is indignant at the chap’s hardship, and mentions her hour long commute in the mornings, followed by an hour commute in the evenings, often working ten hour days. Yet another lad, not to be outdone in complaints about work, challenges them all with how he must be at the station yard, every morning at 5am, prepared to drive bus routes for the remainder of his day with its constant flow of thankless commuters. We often exemplify our hardships in regards to our careers, sometimes to the extent of suggesting that our friends don’t have it as bad as we do.Read More