Khanism

Perspective

Nihilism Gets a Bad Rap

abandoned eroded plane fuselage

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.

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Preferred Gender Pronouns

Photography of a Dictionary

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.

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Does Love Really Conquer All, or is Love a Finite Resource?

Photo by Tyler Nix
Photo by Tyler Nix

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?

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Exploration

Waterfall

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.

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A Tale of Two Journeys

Seattle to Cincinnati (map)

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.

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Return to Minimalism

At Rest

Purple Flower in a Pond

When people die, we tend to say they are at rest. Headstones on burial mounds sometimes etch the words, “Rest in peace.” This euphemism isn’t limited to English. It exists word for word as the German phrase, “Ruhe in Frieden,” or the Spanish saying, “que descanse en paz.” In the conscious, living mind of an individual, rest is an action we take to relieve ourselves of stress and weariness. It is an effort we take to recover from our efforts, either mentally or physically.

Rest doesn’t necessarily involve inaction, such as laying on a beach or falling asleep in one’s bed. It can involve an action, such as watching a movie, playing a game or swimming in a lake. So is it odd that we apply this term to those who no longer have the ability to think? Those who are lost from this world, with no way to ever again participate in the existence we share, are at rest only in our memories. Death, as far as we know, removes one’s ability to rest.

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Minimalism

Two bags that I lived out of for ten months
Two bags that I lived out of for ten months

It has been ten months, since I fully unpacked. Since April of 2015, I have been living out of two bags. After some life changing events, I left the amazing city of Wellington, New Zealand. It was truly the most beautiful city I have ever lived in. After spending two and a half years there with some very amazing people, my journey led me westward through Australia, Asia and Europe. I met up with old friends, found new loves, and learned the hard and true virtues of minimalism.

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Context

The interpretation of media we use to exchange information depends heavily on surrounding context. Writing and photos can turn from rational to offensive, possibly even illegal, all dependent on the way and means by which they are presented. Human communication, art, performance and entertainment all depend heavily on the surroundings in which they are created. Much of how we interpret something to be either funny or offensive is dependent heavily upon both the context the work is presented, and the culture in which an audience was born into and raised from.

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Trapped in the Cubical

The modern office cubicle came about sometime in the 1960s. A cubicle seeks to grant some degree of privacy while taking up a minimal amount of space on open office floors. They are usually easy to assemble, dismantle, move and resize. People who work in cubicles typically have all sorts of photos, toys and other knickknacks on display if the work environment allows it. In this way they are all slightly unique, as unique as each individual worker. In the same way, under the decorations and personal items, each cube is exactly the same, just like all their occupants.

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