Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pick Your Brain

from here

An advocate of the devil linked to this, and I'm just tired enough after last night's Silver Jews show in New Orleans to try being philosophical, so here goes:

5 Questions That Will Change Your Life

  1. What else can this mean? - Not to be melodramatic, but this question is the foundation of our humanity, not simply because it taps into the curiosity that shapes us but also underscores our more defining trait of hubris. Asking "what else" presupposes that we have a handle on "what." Meaning is a greased pig that is so fun to chase that one forgets about the slim chance of capture. And in that futile pursuit, we have purpose and are united with the (according to us) unenlightened universe of rivers eroding rocks and lions eating zebras and micro-particles doing their obscure (again, to us) dances.
  2. Who can help me? - This is gimme on life's standardized test because every answer is correct. Everyone can help you, because it is in interconnection that we operate - even shunning connection is still interconnection. One person can help you, because the various lines of interconnection are like fingers of a vast river system, stretching out and irrigating the crops of the vast plains and sapping the resources of unseen distant lakes, but the river still cuts a main channel between here and there and we are here and that one other is there. And of course, no one can help us. We are rather doomed in our charming little way.
  3. What am I grateful for? - Gratitude is a construct that is slyly ego-centric - it implies that things are done for us, in our honor and upkeep and I think a lot of times our gratitude becomes a celebration of self, a declaration of I am so special that this was done for me. But then look at us, all filthy from chasing the greased pig of meaning, knees wobbly from all that praying, traveling to the deepest parts of space and killing each other in search of a mirror. Who would reasonably love wretches like us? We think the universe is a great place of order, of intricate push-me-pull-you's ticking away in the Great Black Box waiting for us to open the lid. We should be foremost grateful that the ground doesn't swallow us whole just for being self-absorbed assholes. But since it hasn't yet, we should be grateful for everything, since our meaning depends on everything.
  4. What is my end game? I guess that depends what piece you (think you) are playing. And while I don't know much about chess, I get the feeling that everything is a pawn, just some have a longer lifespan due to longer legs, but still ultimately get used up in the larger scheme of the game. I think if we are truly pawns, we likely don't have the perspective to the see the checkered grid beneath our feet. And if we aren't, then the real question is not whether we are winning or losing, but who are we playing against? Or, going back to our squealing little pig, even if we do catch it, do we have the faculties to hold onto it?
  5. What can I learn from this? - I will defer back to question 3 in that differentiating between cause and effect involves a lot of ego, presuming we are perpetually in little time-stops where we push against something and it moves because of our pushing. Maintaining one's functionality in reality requires we make this leap: that we act and we learn from the consequences of that acting. Do we learn anything or are we refining what we already know? Are we really perpetually uncarving the block in an armchair zen sense, each stroke/unstroke of the chisel gets us closer to The Truth/God/enlightenment? I think we must be, since we seem to be really good, arguably only good at, carving and uncarving the blocks that are ourselves; it is all we ever want to do. Without adopting the concept that we are learning something, profitting from that activity, we'd all go mad.


  1. I think I may be exhausted enough to completely understand where you're coming from here.

  2. It's all about loving things TO THE MAX

  3. This is really pretty brilliant.

    And a little depressing.