2.28.2009

It's hard to decide when every decision feels like the wrong one. And here we see the problem of using feelings as decision-making tools. One decision is not wrong, but I can only know after the fact. Cruel. But incredibly exciting.

Also, cruel.

Also, exciting.

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On third thought, why does only one decision have to be right?

2.22.2009

I'd still rather be me, but I am learning a lot from you--your passion for the "minutia" of life and everything it entails. Bad luck may follow you in games of chance, but in the cliche "game" you (clichely) make your own luck. And what an amazing concept I'm just beginning to embrace. My personal diagnosis: A classic case of mind/body dichotomy. Since my rediscovery of reason, I've been adamant about my philosophy and how it guides my intellectual and professional life--to talk in dichotomous terms. Yet I've been slow, if not reluctant, to apply the same sort of practical application of philosophy to my personal life. It happens. Slowly--not even methodically, just slowly. Not quickly enough, though. And here you are. A living example of how to do it--even if, at times, you have no idea what you're doing--an inspiration if not a model. But both more often than not.

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Judd Apatow has become one of my all time favorite writer/directors. Praise be to him.

2.11.2009

We are now, officially, old enough for drama--though I'm sure you'd argue that we were never too young.

Fine. Perhaps. But we're definitely old enough now.

So your apology for the dramatic seems unnecessary, yet I find it fascinating that it's the part for which you feel the need to apologize.

Funny, isn't it, that not so long ago it was I who had a long way to go before I could stop feeling inferior--many thanks to Mihm, Hesse, AJE, Rand, and others. I "got" there "some day." And yet it wasn't too late--because neither my self-esteem nor time were the proper conditions under which the referent "it" would necessarily change.

"Everything is conditional," says House. "You just can't always anticipate the conditions." Love is conditional. You just can't always anticipate the conditions. Life is conditional. You just can't always anticipate the conditions. My life is conditional. You just can't always anticipate the conditions. Your life is conditional. I just can't always anticipate the conditions. ("You" and "I" bolded in two separate sentences about the conditions of love, life: Apropos.)

When you say, "It just might be too late," I literally do not know what you mean. I know how to read the combination of words, to put together what they might mean in other contexts--e.g. if I can't get on the heart transplant list, "it just might be too late." But aside from their structural meaning, I cannot understand their significance or point. Very seldom can I admit such an ignorance of contextual meaning (outside of my short-lived discussions of time travel), but in this situation, it seems more appropriate to be forthright with this feeling of "uh...woof" than to disregard it and pretend to know. Faked knowledge is an evasion of reality, and I've been trying to evade evasion for quite some time now.

The following is a list of my expectations to rectify my ignorance:
[null set]

The following is a list of my desires to rectify my ignorance:
1. Converse.
2. Not make assumptions no matter how grand or minuscule.
3. Go on living my life.
4. Who is John Galt?

I am not making mole hills out of mountains or mountains out of Floam or mountains out of macaroni and Elmer's glue. The meaning you ascribe to your words is important to my rational self-interest in many different ways, but not more important than my life. The meaning you ascribe to your words is important to your rational self-interest in many different ways, but not more important than my life.

A is A. What is B, I wonder...

Yet I'm reminded of another House moment:

Wilson: I'm curious...
House: No you're not.

Is this entire post rhetorical? What's the alternative? Who is John Galt?
[Fact.]

A student recently said to me, "I see the point, and I have no counter argument, but I disagree." The basis for his disagreement was the fact that he wanted the point to be false. The Universe doesn't care what you believe. Somehow, though, I think this entire post is connected in some weird sort of way. I don't have time to think about it. I'll just assume it's true.

2.08.2009

deus ex machina

There are moments when we have our own flashbacks--brief and fleeting an intensely moving. Something we experience sends us back, filling in a forgotten moment of a life that resembles our own but somehow fascinates us with its simplicity. They're not revelations--but scenes. They're not memories in the immediate sense--but shots, angles, arcs. The mind's peripheral vision: items moving toward and away from clarity with our focus and the lighting. Something reminds us of that cut and we relive it. And it retells a part of the story, a part long since un-remembered--not in the bad or painful sense, more so a rank ordering. Was it, at the time, important that I remembered the theme to "Fraggle Rock"? No. But having that flashback, that brief cut, allowed me to make a connection--a connection I had un-remembered. It moved the plot: unexpectedly.

2.06.2009

If you're afraid to look silly once in a while, nothing good will ever happen.

Thank you, old guy on House.

2.02.2009

reprinted from Facebook for those of you that think it's the devil

I AM SHEEP (or 25 Things)

Rules [modified for future madlibbing]: Once you've been [verb], you are supposed to [verb] a [noun] with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about [you]. At the end, choose [number] [noun] to be [verb]. You have to [verb] the [proper noun] who [verb] you. If [noun] [verb] [direct object], it's because I want to know more about you. [Also, bored.]

1. I am half-Mexican (the left half), but I have not identified myself as such on any unofficial government forms since sixth grade--when I attempted to fill in half of the "Caucasian" circle and half of the "Hispanic" circle on a standardized test. My teacher protested. Instead, I filled in "Other" and wrote "American." I now use my race only in socially awkward situations when someone tells me I wouldn't understand the plight of minorities because I'm white.

2. My "Star Wars" collection is absurdly large and absurdly nerdy, filling two rooms of my house. It will, hopefully, pay for something less nerdy in the future. Like an Edward Tufte sculpture.

3. I have, undoubtedly, been in love--and plan to be again.

4. Before spring break 2008, I was drunk only one other time in my life. I was nine. My mother used to drink vodka and cranberry--moreso straight vodka with a splash of red coloring. Coming home from t-ball one day (4b. I used to play t-ball and baseball.), I saw my mother's red-colored vodka and mistook it for virgin cranberry juice. I downed it. I had to sit down for a while. (4c. I do not like vodka to this day.)

5. Like John Scott, I'm told at least daily that I look like Ashton Kutcher. (5b. That was a lie.) (5c. I have been told, at various points in my life, that I look like: Wayne Knight or Newman from "Seinfeld," Pavarotti, and the professor from "Sliders.") (5d. I have no idea what these people have in common.)

6. I have no pet peeves--only absolute moral imperatives.

7. My first dog was a pug named Simon. It was the first and only time I remember crying because of a Christmas present.

8. I seriously considered dropping out of school after my sophomore year of college, having been convinced by existential philosophers, politicians, and our culture that life was meaningless. I cannot be sure, but "Atlas Shrugged" may have literally saved my life.

9. A corollary to number 8--that deserves it's own number, nonetheless--is that I firmly believe that I'm the most important person in my life and that my happiness, derived from my rational self-interest, is the meaning of life.

10. If JML's fantasies came true and we could all travel in time, I would not want to meet my high school self--nor would any of you. I pity those who have. Looking back, my goal in high school was not to learn or engage in any sort of rational thought or present any solutions of my own, but to make everyone's arguments look bad. Basically, I was on my way to a PhD in a modern philosophy program.

11. I am often incredibly quick to decide whether or not I will like you or want to be your friend. Remarkably, I'm right a great majority of the time. I have only been REALLY wrong once. My bad, ARM.

12. I am a member of a social fraternity. Our values are music-based, but we are not honorary or professional. Yeah, I'm a frat guy. Wanna fight about it?

14. I have an irrational fear of spiders and the number 13.

15. Nature has no appeal to me except as resources for production. It never has. Lakes do not make me sigh; mountains do not make me weep; the sky does not make me feel small. In high school, I started a "Pave the Earth" campaign to increase the availability of parking at my favorite store, my temple, my Mecca: Walmart.

16. After getting to know people, they often tell me that upon our first meeting they had two distinctly different thoughts: A) My voice is much higher than they expected. B) I scared them. Yes, I sing tenor--always have. The choir director at my church told me I was going to grow up to "sing a lovely baritone." When my voice changed, I gained fewer than three steps to the bottom of my range. (16b. I would trade any of my talents to sing bass or play jazz piano.) For whatever reason, though, my piercing tenor voice does not make me any less intimidating. I work hard to tone down the intimidation factor, but it may come from the fact that:

17. I am terrible at small talk. It's a "skill" I've only recently tried to learn, having previously disregarded it as useless. Nonetheless, I'm still at a loss for how to start a conversation with someone I don't know. I'd just so much rather talk about politics, religion, philosophy, current affairs, or pop culture.

18. Several people have told me that I'm the "smartest person" they know. I often reply, "You need to get out more." Confidence can be mistaken for intelligence if done right. Not that I would do such a thing...

19. I was never a confident person. I am now. In most matters. (19a. I'm incredibly confident when I'm teaching.)

20. I cannot be true friends with someone who does not believe in the primacy of reality. I can "get along" with them. I can work with them. I can even be acquaintances. But I cannot invest time and energy into people who believe we live in the Matrix.

21. There are at least three people I could not tag in this note because they do not have Facebook. Can you guess which three? (21b. No, you can't.)

22. I was a terrible, but clever, child. Evidence: A) I once shouted, "Where's my G-D Coke?" at a waitress. When she brought it, I decided I wanted to take it home with me, so I poured it in my mother's purse. B) My mother once scolded me for not finishing my spaghetti. She said, "There are starving children in Africa that would love to have this food." I got up from the table with my plate and proceeded to pour it into an envelope. I told her, "Send it to them." C) Upon seeing a black man for the first time, I started pointing in the middle of White Castle and rather loudly exclaiming, "Look, mom! A chocolate man! He's made of chocolate!" We immediately left.

23. I love you all, but to be completely honest, there is only one person tagged in this note that I would like to know more about per the "rules" of this note game. Fight amongst yourselves. (23b. I love inciting riots.) (23c. Among my friends.)

24. My favorite food ever: Gyros. A close second would have to be homemade tamales. [See number 1.] (24b. One of my close friends in high school used to call me "refried bean" because I was half Mexican.)

25. I'm often reluctant to consider "things" that are "popular." I'm skeptical of anything new. In fact, I did not even consider doing one of these "25 Things" until I saw Danny Rowland's. He gets a free tag for the inspiration. Knowing him, he'll be elated.

26. [Don't freak out that I'm on number 26. See number 13.] Some of the best advice I've ever been given is to live my life without regrets. From the time I received that advice on, I've done so to the best of my ability. And it has been glorious.

rock,

DTR