Category: commentary

Challenge The Thought

all strains of a virus begin life as a variant.
Not all variants, however, become new strains

so it is with intelligence as with disease

all intelligence begins life as a thought exercise
not all thought exercises, however, become intelligence

The true epidemic of covid19 is to be overwhelmed by absolute certainty

Joe Rogan is a thought exercise in existential uncertainties, rendered in flesh

Canceling comedians is, in effect, an attempt to cancel laughter, and to shame those laughing.

Canceling teachers, however, is arguably more dangerous than attacking performers, because teachers’ end users are young adults under development. Just ask Stephen Kershnar, SUNY Fredonia Philosophy Professor .

Upstream, to cancel a teacher is to cancel learning; to cancel ways of thinking…

Would you rather a world without laughter, or a world without learning?

If nobody thinks, does anybody laugh?

If nobody laughs, does anybody learning?

Prof. Kershnar’s seminar comprised radical thought exercises, wherein a student wrestled with their conscience. The aim of undergraduate college is not to inculcate young adults with facts, but rather to define ethics and morality, in whatever discipline they pursue. Prof. Kershnar’s work was of the highest academic value.

Challenging yourself to believe and argue for something you would never morally believe or ethically act on, is a great way to find out what makes you you. And an almost foolproof way to deepen empathy and lessen cynicism. Academic settings are perhaps the safest and most productive places to engage in existential reflection.

Academic “freedom” is also to protect the most dangerous ideas, in order to scrutinize them

Imagine a dangerous virus laboratory, except instead of keeping smallpox in cold-storage, the lab stores and studies the complete range of human thoughts and ideas – from the most advancing to the most infernal…

That’s a university.

When we wrestle with our conscience, what is on the other side of that argument except that part of us that is built to dehumanize?…

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Freedom of Silence

Why silence anyone, lest we’re ok silencing ourselves as an unintended consequence?

There should be, however, a corollary right to free speech that confers the right to silent spaces.

Freedom of speech = freedom from speech

i.e., Freedom of Silence

#stoprightthere

a running list of useless phrases and rhetorical filler

I will say this…
I think that…
You know, it’s funny…
The funny thing is…
In my opinion…
Let me be clear…
Let me be perfectly clear…
Just so we’re clear…
I honestly think…
…literally…
I believe that…
In my view…
Personally, I…
I personally think…
I personally believe…
In my world…
In a perfect world…
I mean,…
I deeply believe…
I firmly believe…
My personal theory is…
If you want my take, I…
I’m no expert, but…
I don’t know about that, but…
I have an opinion that is probably controversial…
I don’t know him personally, but…
I’ve never been there, but…
I’ve never had to experience that, but…
I cannot emphasize enough…
It’s obvious that…
I’m pretty sure…
Here’s the thing…
I obviously think…
Truth be told,…
It goes without saying…
This is textbook ________ …
You know what I mean?
In my opinion
In my honest opinion…
In my humble opinion…
Honestly…
To tell you the truth…
In my mind…
… absolutely…
For me in particular…
There’s no doubt in my mind…
…, in my estimation,…
If you’re asking ask me…
Know what I think?…
Part of me thinks…
The unthinkable just happened…
It stands to reason…
According to my understanding…
As i understand it…
According to what I’ve read…
Experts say…

These phrases, however, are absolved of the crime, because they’re fun. :^D
Guess what?
You know what?

The Opposite of Love

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference

Indifference, fwiw, is also the opposite of hate

From indifference’s POV, love and hate are, in effect, the same emotion. They converge in equivalent affect.

Objects of love and hate can feel equally asphyxiated, while sustained acts of hating or loving can require equal obsessive compulsion.

Upstream, love and hate are limitless, infinite emotions.

It is possible to love everything and everyone, as it is also possible to hate everything and everyone. 
Including yourself, or even excepting yourself.

We need to resist the destructive notions that there is a fixed amount of love in the universe, that there are limits to loving, that every smile comes at the expense of someone else’s joy.

At the very least, let’s avoid fatalism.

Brighter Than Stars

medium mirror

“I’m brighter than you stars!” New York City taunted, waving their walk signs, shaking their streetlights at Orion, the sole visible constellation that Fall night.

“Pfft,” said Rigel, Orion’s brightest star, “what are you, a hundred years old?”

“Shut up, I’m almost five!”

—-

Fwiw, Capella, Vega, Sirius, and Deneb were also visible over the City the night of the story. They’re each close enough to us to eavesdrop. And close enough to each other to gossip about us behind our backs. 

The moon, of course, has no choice but to hear our every word, always within earshot of our silliness.

Are we here, in the Milky Way, living in the suburbs? Or are we the Great Galactic City, and Capella’s our Great Neck?

On clear nights, Jupiter and Venus, and Saturn, on the darkest nights, also manage to pierce the city’s incandescent fluorescent din. 

New York City was terraformed; it’s an invention - a dream made real and gone wrong all at once. There’s no way to build it without erasing most stars. The night sky here acts as more of a ceiling. 

Here in NYC, there’s at-least cursory curiosity about the stars. There’s a real planetarium. And you just know there’s a radio telescope tucked away in some inaccessible corner of Staten Island, that some alien civilization, unable to secure a credit card, is using to steal Netflix for their planet.

Four or five years ago, my late neighbor, Ian, would take his then-middle school aged kids out on the block on clear-sky nights with a telescope, and stargaze together. The kids would call out stars, and passersby, now illuminated, would look up, strain to see, and take it on faith the telescope and the children were telling them the truth.

Most telescopes stay inside here, locked off at more horizontal angles in apartment windows, pointed (of course) at other apartments.…

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[A Few Words On] Comedy Dehumanization

The death of comedy signals an upstream, tactical conflation of embarrassment and shame.
Banning jokes is a means to censor laughter, not words, or comedians.

How do you censor a few comics?
Make one die onstage.

What is the world’s most offensive joke?
Depends who laughs.

Any word can be made dirty.
“Milk, milk, lemonade, around the corner fudge is made…”

Any words can be made hurtful.
“Shut up you unwashed leek!”

Kidding not kidding.

Coerced silence and arbitrary language fences lead only to false enlightenment.

Recognition of the absurdity in the human condition (i.e., the ability to laugh at ourselves) is the true underpinning of civilization.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, laughing with each other, while also laughing at the ways we laugh at each other, opens true pathways to peace.

A world without laughter is a world at constant war, one that rejects intimacy, and ultimately evolution.

Hmm…

The censorship of evolution.

Who profits from that?