Wednesday, July 14, 2010

take a moment and ask yourself---what in the world are we doing?!?!?!

We here at the Dandy Lion are very big fans of thinking for ourselves, and seem to grow even curiouser by the day. Since like-minded people are ones we hope to win over, i decided i'd use this blog to also share philosophically-enlightened topics that interest me, and hopefully you as well. So if you are into this kind of stuff, which we surely hope you are, please feel free to share your thoughts!

Today i spent most of my afternoon sitting out in the sun reading a joyous little gem entitled 'The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are' by one sir Alan Watts, who happens to be one of my favorite philosophizing mindguys.

I couldn't help but notice the uncanny similarities behind his thinking in this piece, compared to Hannah Arendt's "The Human Condition", appropriately also one of my favorites in the tradition. They were from the same lifetime, perhaps they were teabuddies, or penpals, maybe simply just admirers from afar, but regardless, their passions have similarities.

I was introduced to Arendt in my Phenomenology & Existentialism class last fall, and her words are very revolutionary and inspiring--precisely one of the many reasons i am sure that she has been 'brushed under the rug' so to speak. In fact, too often philosophers are left behind when it comes to politicalspeak, or any truly crucial decision that has to do with the homeostasis of our society, or sadly, the lack there of.

The true reason Mr. Watts an Ms. Arendt are so special to me is the simple fact that they are concerned with the betterment of our world, for our sake, and the sake of a truly livable situation- not just for the convenient happiness of our current generation, but for the ensured happiness of many to follow.

It is a sad truth that there are many things that exist in this world that are simply taken for granted, expected, even deemed inevitable. Computers are the high-tech mastermind today, so its only right that we should nod our heads and smile at all the 'advances' we are currently able to make having access to these devices...right?

Sure, they make a lot of things super easy and convenient, the world of facts is 'at your fingertips', so to speak, and because the pathway of computers has ensured these convenient happy little, well, conveniences, it only makes sense that we should assume the course that has been put into place by them---ie. allow them to take over the abilities and requirements of humans as a species.

But we are relying on them TOO much, so much so that they have become a part of our 'reality'. Just like your parents warned you about doing all your math on a calculator leading to your inability to do simple mathematic equations by hand, the risk with computers runs the same course.

Whats even more important than the presumed decline in intelligence that technology ensures, it is important to realize that it is NOT NECCESARILY THE CASE that we must advance on the path set out for us.. I am in fact a fan of DE-TECHNOLOGIZING (yes, i made the word up). Maybe this fact runs parallel with my love for vintage goodies, but the point is--life is truly better, in my eyes, on a much simpler scale. One involving less reliance on devices, and MORE concerned with REALITY-ie. NATURE! (or, if nature isn't 'reality' it is at least more real than technology)

But that just makes me weird, doesn't it? In fact, as Mr. Watts points out in his book---most people are deemed irrational, and even up to no good if they simply want to take a stroll in an american neighborhood after the sun goes down. If stopped by a cop while walking around aimlessly after dark, you would most certainly be provoked with all kinds of questions along the lines of 'where are you going? what are you doing walking around at this hour? how much money do you have--surely you could have bought a bus ticket to get where you needed to go?!?!?!'
Its not simply enough to want to ENJOY the world outside, the one that existed before all our comfy little shelters were fashioned and decorated to our liking. Yes i get it, there ARE criminals in the world...but the point here is, people that step outside the box, people that truly APPRECIATE simple/vintage/natural and therefore foreign things (when measured up against our hightech 2010) run risk of being noticed in not necessarily a pleasant way. If you appreciate something that has been left in the dust, you must either be up to no good, old-fashioned, uninformed, or simply a weirdo.

But this is precisely because the ones that have the ability to have a voice---the powerful people, are most certainly the ones with money. money = power, and where does money come from? why yes, specifically from the profit they make from selling all of us their 'most up-to-date products', stamped with a guarantee that the next 'bigger better' replacement will be soon to follow.

In line with all this pondering over consumerism is this beautiful quote from a profound thinker of the 18th century, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. I actually ended my undergraduate career with a senior seminar over his "Phenomenology of the Spirit' (or mind, depending on who you ask), arguably THE HARDEST text to ever come out of the tradition of western philosophy. Luckily, i survived---with even more enlightened excitement to share! This quote, unlike his phenomenology, is quite simply put:

"What the English call 'comfort' is something inexhaustible and illimitable. Others can reveal to you that what you take to be comfort at any stage is discomfort, and these discoveries never come to an end. Hence the need for greater comfort does not exactly arise within you directly; it is suggested to you by those who hope to make a profit from it's creation."-G.W.F Hegel

i don't think i could have put it better myself. But of course, considering the source, that would be expected.

So i'll end my little rant with one of my favorite Arendt quotes.

"The things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers. In addition to the conditions under which life is given to man on earth, and partly out of them, men constantly create their own, self-made conditions, which, their human origin and their variability notwithstanding, possess the same conditioning power as natural things. Whatever touches or enters into a sustained relationship with human life immediately assumes the character of a condition of human existence."-Hannah Arendt

If anything, i hope this has helped you see some things in a different light. The evils of consumerism, and its ability to brainwash us--are subjects i am very passionate about, and will be beginning some writing on for hopefulpublication in the near future.

The bottom line is, similar to the old sayng "you are what you eat" you also are what you create! and also what has been created and laid out in front of you. my advice is just to simply acknowledge this, and specifically THE MOTIVES behind the products/conveniences/luxuries that are advertised/thrown in your face (but of course just for three easy payments of $19.95!!!)


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