Normally before I go to sleep I lie in bed and read for a while (Right now I’m on Sagan’s “Demon-Haunted World“). If I’m not careful, I’ll read for several hours before I realize it, so I’ll usually force myself to put the book down so I’m not all red-eyed during my first class. Sometimes I’m so worked up after whatever I’ve been reading that I can’t sleep. Occasionally I’ll mentally jog mountain-bike trails to help me go to sleep. Other times I’ll try to push everything out of my mind and repeat the word “and” over and over until I drift off. Since I’ve been reading Sagan I’ve been feeling a little more philosophical and the like, so after I closed my book last night I tried to mentally determine how I formed my individual episteme.
At first I thought about over-arching forces, such as being an educated southern male or the friends and role models that I’ve had, but that got boring. Frankly, those things were far too easy to identify. So then I tried to identify seemingly inconsequential locations of influence. For instance, I sucked at science in high school, but more than thirteen years later I’m heavily interested in scientific discoveries and the scientific method as it applies to our culture in general, and my life specifically. Obviously, reading stuff from folks like Michael Shermer, Stephen Jay Gould, and Carl Sagan might have something to do with that interest. But as I thought more about it, Alton Brown has probably had more of a constant, everyday influence than any of those guys. Sure, Carl Sagan had a much bigger impact on the world of science than Alton Brown, but I watch Good Eats every day, sometimes twice a day, and A.B. is one hell of a science teacher. Not to mention his version of scientific inquiry usually leads to some seriously good eats.
It also occurred to me that despite everything I’ve read from people like Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, Hobbes, Orwell, and so on, I’ve probably been shaped more by people like George Carlin than I have traditional philosophers. I’m such a stand-up comedy junkie that if I’m being honest I’d have to admit that people like Carlin, Miller, Rock, Pryor, Black, Cosby, Kinison, Stewart, and so forth, have had defining roles in my life. Much more so than those other guys.
Those are just two examples of things that came to mind. Here’s a brief list of some of the other things:
1. Kevin Smith movies. Kevin made me feel okay about being an extroverted, popular culture nerd.
2. Hair-band music. As much as I like to pretend to be an intellectual I’ll always be only two seconds away from banging my head and letting metal health drive me mad.
3. AD&D (more specifically, 3rd edition). In our small town the game was demonized by the local churches. Actually playing it and seeing how ill-informed those people were really had a big impact on me.
So, what are some odd things that have had an impact on the knowledge you have and the ways you apply that knowledge to the world?
Are you sure that it was ADD instead of AD&D?
I was putting my daughter to bed tonight and was thinking about life, the world, and everything . . . (yes I know, 42) . . . I thought about how important optimism was to my world view. I have been accused of being something of a stoic, and in many ways that is right, but I have a profound belief that thing are going to be alright. No matter what happens things are going to work out. I have a optimistic worldview.
I know that sounds a bit naive, but I think it is true. Now I am not suggesting that I can just sit around and do nothing, and I am not really looking for that. Well to be perfectly honest, I am usually looking for life to be perfect. That whole character building crap.
I don’t believe in luck (yeah great segue). Let’s think of a half court shot. Who has a better chance, me or Michael Jordan? MJ does because he works at basketball so much more than I have ever considered basketball. That is a dumb luck shot, but some one who works like he does has the advantage, because there are so many factors that I have never thought to consider. His skill changes the aspect of luck.
This is somewhat similar to how I view life, my effort and skill change the way the world works or more exactly the way I deal with the challenges of life. Foresight (maybe common sense is a better world) really helps optimism, as does one of my other favorite ideas, personal responsibility. But you can have foresight and personal responsibility and still have a pathetic view of life, the world, and everything.
These things come together to shape my world view. I was happy. I was thinking about how fortunate I am. I can also remember some difficult times, but I have kept that optimistic faith that I thought about tonight.
I was thinking while writing this that I should figure out better what I believe, because as I reread it I want to add something everywhere.
But I finish optimistic and happy.
I wanted to write this down so I could think through it and get it out. And it fits better here than the previous post.
Here are a few thoughts that don’t’ necessarily go together, but it fits my fractured view of reality.
I just got home from seeing the movie Atonement. I thought that it was a very good movie. To me a little predictable, but it was still a great movie experience. Unfortunately we had to go out of our way to see the film, I guess that its themes don’t fit with the area where we live. Such are the problems with middle class suburbia. I did especially enjoy one theme (maybe an unintended theme, it certainly wasn’t stressed in the reviews), but I found a profound sense of hope, or dare I say optimism, that the two tragic lovers embraced. The soundtrack was fantastic. It was a good film.
I listen to a local personality named Thaddeus Matthews (you can find his blog at thadmatthews.blogspot.com). I find him interesting most of the time, sometimes a challenge, and usually I get something for the time invested. He often talks about how blacks get screwed by the system (powers that be, or whatever euphemism you want to insert. My personal favorite would be the man, as in “Damn the Man”). Although, I often wonder whether he realizes that blacks aren’t the only people who experience injustice/get screwed. Now I know that there is a difference, but how do you quantify that degree and make it somehow meaningful. Being that there is some stoicism in my outlook, I really want to tell him tough luck. I know that somehow that is wrong, at least in somebody’s book, but what can you say for a cracker-headed-cracker.
Self-reliance: Why do we suppose that a government that screws up most everything is in any way capable of helping us. Is there really somebody out there who believes that it’s going to fix anything. So now we are supposed to get a rebate? I will get back to this soon, I hope, but who else doesn’t think that this is some kind of sop that really won’t work long term that is meant to kiss the public’s backside.
Sorry more later, ”˜cause dinner is ready!
PS Luckily my wife was willing to edit so I would look less like a idiot.
Now, I am not saying blacks haven’t been screwed historically or presently. Or by the government and society at large. But there is no exclusive claim to being screwed over. Just a fact of life. I’ll you haven’t seen Thaddeus’ blog you ought to, ’cause he does not hold back.
More later, on the government’s attempt to erode our sense of personal responsibility.