Lent Post #21: Time

Image of Father time

They say that time heals all wounds
But sometimes it just gives people
More opportunities to pour salt onto them
And then there are times
That living a crazy life will lead you to insanity
But I know that there are times
That living in a box called sanity
Will drive a motherfucker crazy
The purpose of the old adage
Is to put supposed conventional wisdom
Into a neatly composed package
Handed down from generation to generation
To whisper in your ear, “this is how you live a good life”
Empty advice from people who live
Within the confines of their own stupidity
Your elders angry at you because you can’t see the point
Of their staunch rigidity
They’ve lived lives of course
Done everything they thought they were supposed to
But sometimes all they leave you
Is a box full of empty words and broken promises
One marked time and the other sanity
You look at them dazed and confused
Filled with nothing but profundity
They say that time heals all wounds
But I’m here to tell you
That it only does so if you have the courage
To blaze a trail
And to never be afraid to fail
Then and only then time
Will do two things for you
It will grant you the wisdom of the ages
And it will grant you the wisdom
To write your story
On these humble empty pages.

Lent Post #20: I’m Not A Revolutionary

I’m not a revolutionary,
I don’t like pointless endless circles,
Of action leading to inaction, it never learns.
I’m not a figurehead
To a new wave of thought
I am not a figurehead
Or the next step in social evolution for my “kind?”
Whatever that means.
I used to say that I was nothing special,
I’m not that either…
Nor am I special.

But don’t mistake my humility
For a negative opinion of myself.
Because I’ve crawled through the muck and the slime,
I have waded through the darkness of my own mind.
There’s not a damn thing you can tell me
About myself that I don’t already know,
That I haven’t turned to examine from all angles…
And that eventually,
I haven’t also learned to love
And treat with the same kindness that others have shown me
When I failed to love myself.
I might be just a little bit brilliant
But never so blinded by my own light.,
That I will fail to see yours.
I might be just a little bit insecure, but who isn’t?
I might make you smile
With a self-deprecating comment,
But that is because I’ve learned
That It’s better to occasionally
Remind yourself of your faults,
To keep yourself kinder to those around you.

I am a fiery soul who makes no apologies
For burning with the utmost intensity
But most of all I’m the one
Who will remind you to do all things
With the purest of love and passion.
Because I’ve learned that when you do that,
Failure isn’t even a blip on the radar of life.
That is what I am.

Lent Post #19: The Segregated Mind

Segregated Fountains

The segregated mind
Is a mind that constantly lives in bondage
It is a slave to its own thinking
It will constantly turn down any opportunity for freedom
Because it cannot see
For it is blinded by its own rage
And its petulant tantrums
It is a mind that sees everyone else
As different from itself
Failing to recognize the common slavery of humanity
Whether from 400 years of slavery
With blood running down the backs
Of the men and women who built this country
Or the 300 years of colonization
That taught my ancestors
That the darker you were
The more imperfect your soul must have been
The slave masters have been driven underground
And the colonizers are dead and buried
But their legacy to us
Is thriving and more fruitful
Than we would care to admit
Everytime we say, “It’s not my problem,”
Or “I didn’t know her”
It is another lash
Another torture
Another drop of blood spilled to the ground
This is the legacy
The segregated mind
It is the continuance of slavery and colonization
And it will continue to persist
As long as we refuse our commonality
Our humanity
As long as we remain a slave to ourselves
Placed in bondage by our thoughts
We will never be free

Lent Post #18: A Tribute to Tyler

Image of Tyler

I’ve had a lot of friends pass away from accidents, struggles with depression, violence, and some mysterious circumstances… This past Christmas, I lost someone I considered which you might call an extended little brother, brother by choice rather than birth. His name was Tyler. He was one of the few people for whom I did not have to modify the way I speak in order to be clearly understood, and I most certainly didn’t have to dumb myself down at all. My younger brother, Tyler, and I went on many adventures. But all I have left are the memories that we shared. I don’t know what to call this piece, primarily because writing and now… So for now, A Tribute to Tyler.

Words need not be decoded,
Between us, sentences can be broken,
Hardly a word need be spoken.
The psychedelic, kaleidoscopic nature of our minds,
Always made it so that we were thinking along the same lines.
A will as strong as steel is what you had,
A heart bigger than the world in which we live
Made it so that you could hardly do anything bad.
I wish that you were here so that I can tell you,
that life is merely a wild, hectic ride no matter what you do.
And with a quiet strength, you ruled yourself with a gentle hand,
Always mentally prepared for the task at hand.

Your strength and power came from that of same heart,
Sometimes even the best of us need from time to time to fall apart.
Rebuild, restructure, and reconvene,
And continue asking the questions about the meaning of life.
What is it all mean?
Your future burned bright,
Like a nuclear candle.
There isn’t a damn thing in the universe you couldn’t handle.
A mind and heart as strong as crucible steel.
Yet somehow, you still allowed yourself very much to feel.

My world won’t be the same without you in it,
So many ideas that run through my mind,
Now all of that, I don’t even know where to begin it.
I look forward to all of the trials I’d help usher you through,
now there are days that I just don’t know what to do.

I wrote this piece the way I did for your love of rhyme,
Just so I could say this isn’t goodbye, brother…
But until next time.

I love you and miss you, dude. I don’t know what life has planned for me, but if there is some sort of afterlife, I hope to see you again.

Lent Post #17: Code of the Samurai

Bushido Kanji

Honesty and sincerity
These are the virtues I live by,
Or at the very least I humbly try.
But sometimes it’s harder than you might think.
Now listen carefully, don’t even blink!
Because you see these virtues became twisted in my heart,
To the point that they nearly tore me apart.
Wrapped in this cloak, I wore a shield of anger.
It was to protect you from my sadness…
I wanted to push you away,
So I could stay true to the code.
Never letting anyone into my sacred abode.
I thought it was to protect me from you,
But it was to protect you from me.
I never ever wanted you to see,
The mangled mess that you called me.
I wanted you to think I was an angel with wings to fly!
With uncanny abilities that no one can deny…
I wanted to think of myself in the following way,
Now sit back and take an earful and hear me say:
“Some days, some nights.
Some live, some die.
In the way of the samurai.
Some fight, some bleed.
Sun up to sun down.
The sons of the battle cry!”
But I see now that was just a mask,
A shiny veneer,
All to keep myself from looking in the mirror,
But now I know what it all means…
So that before I die,
I can truly say,
That I lived by the code of the samurai…

Lent Post #16: Why do philosophers make unsuitable life partners?

Philosophy plus love?

I’m going to share a piece that was posted by one of the many interesting Facebook pages which I follow on a regular basis. The article was originally posted on the Guardian website and can be found here. After the body of the article, you will find my original and unedited reply that I posted to the article. I hope, that someone out there finds it interesting. You can find the page on Facebook through which I originally encountered the article on The Mindless Philosopher

It is said that on a trip to the US in the 1920s a German sociologist was astonished at the domestic arrangements of his American colleagues. How can you get any serious work done, he asked, without servants? The duties of a spouse and parent apparently do not sit well with deep thought and research, unless eased by paid help.

This makes me wonder whether “parentism” might be a problem to consider alongside sexism, at least in certain branches of academia. The two often go together, but they need not. Consider the student parlour game of puzzling over who among the major philosophical thinkers had a conventional home life.

In the ancient Greek world, Socrates was married with children but never got round to writing anything down. Plato, as far as we know, never married. Aristotle did marry, and one of his major works, The Nicomachean Ethics, is named after his son. But in later centuries the record is astonishing.

One hypothesis is that domestic bliss dulls the philosophical edge
St Augustine (“grant me chastity, but not yet”) fathered an illegitimate child, but then became a celibate priest. Aquinas and the philosophers of the middle ages were all churchmen. In the 17th and 18th centuries, virtually all of the canonical figures were domestically unconventional. Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant and Bentham all went unmarried. Bishop Berkeley married late but had no children. Jean-Jacques Rousseau eventually married his lover Thérèse Levasseur, but abandoned all of his five children to foundling homes. This did not stop him writing a treatise, Emile, on the proper upbringing of children.

Closer to our own time, John Stuart Mill married late in life and had no children of his own. Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Wittgenstein were all unmarried and childless. Marx gave up philosophy, turning to economics and politics, when his children were still young.

There are exceptions. Hegel married and had children. And in the 20th century AJ Ayer and Betrand Russell brought up the averages by marrying lavishly, though reproducing modestly. But it is a remarkable tradition.

What about the major women philosophers? Of those who are widely known, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her major works before producing her children, and tragically died from complications after the birth of her second child, who would become Mary Shelley. Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch, were all childless.

What explains this extraordinary correlation? It could be pure coincidence, but other hypotheses press for consideration. One is that the sheer oddity of philosophers makes them unsuitable life partners. Another is that domestic bliss dulls the philosophical edge. A third is that the problem lies in the nature of the deepest, most fundamental, philosophical work. If genius is “the infinite capacity for taking pains”, it wouldn’t seem to leave much time for anything else.

Nevertheless, few are on the level of Spinoza or Kierkegaard. For ordinary mortals our research requires only a finite capacity for taking pains, which ought to be compatible with a normal home life. In fact, in a recent survey in my faculty, although many people report that they struggle to achieve an acceptable life-work balance, those caring for children seem to do better than those who are not. And this makes sense. If you are looking after your children it puts your academic work into perspective. Maybe it isn’t the most important thing in the world after all.

The trouble is that if you don’t think your research and writing are the most important thing, at least in your own world, you probably won’t do as much of it as you could. And this is how the academic careers of parents, especially mothers, can stall. Once upon a time, we would have said: “That’s the choice you make”. Now we know that there is such a thing as “indirect discrimination”. We need to define a new model of academic progression that is fair to everyone. And a start would be to make advancement dependent on what academics do during normal working hours, rather than in their evenings and weekends.

Jonathan Wolff is professor of philosophy at University College London and dean of arts and humanities

I don’t know to what degree I would consider myself a philosopher, but I would consider myself to be philosophically inclined. My personal experience with academic philosophy has caused me to cease studying it formally, but it remains one of the greatest loves of my life. I was taught Plato and Aristotle over the course of many months by a retired philosophy professor from Southern California (at least, that’s what he told me) who found himself homeless. I would trade lessons for meals at the age of 15. My decision to cease the formal study of philosophy came out of an idea that the academic study of philosophy was not necessarily concerned with how philosophy could be applied to one’s daily life in stark contrast to the way Plato and Aristotle seemed to view philosophy in my mind.

LOL! As for my romantic partnerships, my nearly incessant need to question everything, not to antagonize, rather to learn has rendered them very difficult for me. While my formal study may have ceased, the meaning in my life tends to come from the questions themselves. I choose to explore the nature of those questions via poetry, or short story, as they are windows into thought to whom those who have not had any training in philosophy becomes more accessible. I will say… There isn’t too much room for much else in my life between finding a way to express the meaning I find in those questions, and in my own experience that I try to remain cognizant of, and working on my various other writing projects. So perhaps, depending on the situation all three theories are correct? This was definitely an article worth considering. Thank you for sharing!

PS. I do personally feel that we should generally work to create a model of academic and professional progress which takes into account more of what one does during designated work hours, as opposed to penalizing them for choosing to have a life outside of those endeavors.

Lent Post #15: LWG (Loving While Gimpy)

Gimpy Love

Loving While Gimpy
What do you think of me?
LWG, loving while gimpy
I want you to come on a journey with me
But first, tell me what you see.
Do you see the chair, the crutches,
The spasticity?
Do you see the tender heart pouring out
This rhyme; the silver tongue
That keeps the rhythm, the time.
The instrument of unimaginable ecstasy
The precision implement for plumbing
The depths of our united psyche,
Our collective soul.
Is this what you see?
Or are you somehow stuck
On the chair, the crutches, the spasticity?
This is the question I’m forced to ask,
No matter how much I might love you
Because I’m L.W.G.
Loving While Gimpy