Rant

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I’m always asleep

Published March 14, 2013 by pipsqueak

Get up. Drink coffee. Think the same thoughts you thought yesterday, push away the bad ones like you did yesterday. Check facebook, feel a tiny zip of excitement at the red notification bubbles. They’re like popularity points! Eat a bunch of cookies, mainly out of boredom. Wonder if this will escalate into a habit leaving you obese. Shudder. Go back to the bed you just slept in, open your laptop, and start clicking through articles on the internet. Find a few bits that amuse you, look at pretty pictures, guiltily watch the viral video of Trouble (ft. Yelling Goat) for the 12th time. Haha. The goat sounds like people!

You’ve got a good buzz going, a pleasant comfortable feeling that you avoid denting by reading anything distressing, like Nietzsche or the news. This is your life. It’s very comfortable, with free videos and music to distract you from any unease. You don’t know exactly what you want. You think you are happy, but are unsure exactly what the word means or how it applies to the moment-to-moment tasks of your life.

You’ve heard people talking about how lazy kids these days are, and you aren’t sure whether you agree. You’re not working sundown to sunset on a radish farm in the blistering winter cold. However, you still have to study for hours a day to stay afloat in school.  And doing okay in school, showing good progress in the core classes. This is so that you can get a job. And duh, you want money. You need to have a good house, internet, cool ranch flavored chips- the good things in life. Day to day life contains the same pleasant consistencies (delicious morning vanilla latté! YAYYYY) and unpleasant regularities (math class. UGHHH. amirite?).

And uncomfortable truth, though, is that when you look to see what you are proud of doing, you realize that most of your pride comes from things you didn’t do. You didn’t drop out of high school at 16, you didn’t get hooked on speed and pawn your mom’s earrings, you didn’t shoot up a school. You have achieved it: normality. Here is your glory: you are not infamous. You have done nothing out of the ordinary that is bad.

Your emotions are rarely extreme. A good mood is placid and mildly entertained, a bad mood is “meh,” or worse, the malaise that crescendos late at night when you ask the questions that you avoid when other people ask you. “What am I doing with my life?” If you look back, every day has the same flavor. Sitting around, absorbing internet, playing video games, hanging out with your friends. The days blur together, but seem to be passing faster. You can’t really remember anything particularly exciting that happened in the next day.

You must fight this. You can die far before your actual death if you live this way. Cram every moment with an experience, get your knuckles bloody and your face wet. Pay attention, for the love of god, and if you realize you are feeling nothing and are okay with it, then change something. It’s easy to slurp the saccharine nectar of entertainment and cheap food and lying comatose in your comfort zone, but after the warm buzz recedes, you will have all of the same meaningless consistency. You have experienced nothing. And with this nothing will come the desperate need for comfort. And you will return to sleep.

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Growing Old In The Era of Selfies

Published February 27, 2013 by pipsqueak

truth bomb from Lord Henry

Back when I was struggling through high school, (a dark time, I think, for all of us) I used to comfort myself with the fact that was young and that nothing real had happened to me yet, i.e. “I have no right to feel this world weary! I’m fifteen! Just slap on some blue lipstick and eat a bagel and everything will be fine.” And hey presto, I emerged from high school without a heroin addiction or an unwanted baby, so hey! I guess I was right-ish.

I’m in college. I’m surrounded by eighteen-and-nineteen year old freshmen, although the people I converse with in a meaningful way can be as old as, say, 22. Some professors notwithstanding, everyone here is pretty damn young. Despite the overwhelming youthiness here, I’ve already started to hear the anguished moan: “I’m getting so oooooooldddddddd!”

I guess there’s a point. It would be cruel to deny the fact that it really feels like we’ve been through a lot to get here. I don’t know if I feel young. I just feel like myself, the aggregate of ~18.833333 years of being a human being on planet earth. I’ve seen some bad things that certainly make me feel world-weary. However, as life goes on, I will probably many worse things.  Yaaaay!

There’s a weird cult of youth in America, which is never more apparent than in that odious statement: “High school is the best time of your life!” Millions and millions of unhappy high schoolers have heard this and thought, “Seriously?… well, shit.”

And it’s not just my nostalgic grade school principal who gave me this message. I’ve been getting a lot from television, books, people over the age of 40. They look at me with dewy eyes and say, “You’re still young, this is the best time of your life., go do the wonderful things young people do.”What exactly is the fascination with youth? I’ve been told that youthfulness is when you are still figuring everything out. Absolutely right. So why is this incredibly shaky and uncertain time of my life constantly glorified as the best time I will ever had? Is there nothing to be said for being experienced and knowing what you are doing with your life? Is it because we aren’t wrinkly yet?

A man is as old as he feels, and a woman as old as she looks

– proverb

Okay, seriously, fuck whoever said that!

I’m a teen girl, I’ve been made excruciatingly aware of how highly appearances are valued. Being pretty buys a lot of kindness from people. I know I have a certain privilege that involves people pretending to like talking to me because they are mesmerized by my boobs or something.

And, I guess, since older women aren’t seen as attractive, I will lose that. I will get wrinkles and lose my youthful sex appeal and many people will drop the pretense of enjoying my company. Several older women told me this more or less literally, and I’ve heard the stories. Older men who leave their wives because they are no longer young and beautiful. Older women complaining about how they would give anything to be skinny and young again.

The message I’ve been getting is that once my tits get saggy I will be undesirable, so I better Buy All The Anti-Aging Stuff! I resent the fact that 50 year old men can leer at me now and call me “darling,” but once I reach their age I will be deemed unlovely by the exacting standards of society. I resent the fact that my attractiveness carries so much cultural currency. I resent all of this. So what are we temporally-bound women supposed to do? I guess we have to learn to not put so much stock in acceptance from the generic Male Gaze. After all, I have a lot more to offer the world than T&A.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the side effects of getting older are undeniably unpleasant. Disease, more people you know dying, the advent of the next wave of shitty pop music. However, I will not resign myself to the idea that “The Zenith of my Life” = “The time when I most resemble Scarlett Johansson.” As I get older, I understand myself better, get better at the things I’m good at, and just learn to be better at Being A Human. Surely we can replace naïveté with experience, don’t make the same mistakes again, and learn to live in a more pleasurable and productive way.

I’m going to end this post with the wisdom of Ani DiFranco.

If you’re not getting happier as you get older, you’re fucking up.

In which I start to read Nabokov’s Lolita and have to stop

Published February 19, 2013 by pipsqueak
lolita-vladimir-nabokov-paperback-cover-art

here be dragons

Alright, confession time. I knew, or at least had heard and accepted without much actual mental processing, the basic concept of Lolita. It’s about an older dude who… falls in love with?? (or so I had been told) a young girl. A reaaal young girl. But it had been mentioned so often, and with none of the revulsion I hear when people talk about pedophiles.

I think maybe what threw me was that it’s a capital-C Classic book. When I think classic literature, I don’t know about you, but I think Scarlet Letter, Tale of Two Cities. Things with morals. Books that have been determined, by a jury of Literary Elites, to be Good For You.

Lolita is no such book. This book is disgusting. It’s a rotting, putrid story wrapped up in finely-woven prose. The sentences are so beautifully crafted, so cleverly written, that I suppressed the sickening feeling illicited by Humbert Humbert’s prurient descriptions of “nymphets,” his romanticism about historical pedophiles, his young love affair that haunts him still.

But Humber Humbert does not restrain himself to trysts with prostitutes and lecherous gazing at the lecherous young girls that he deems “nymphets.” His description of these “nymphets” is heinous in itself: to his mind, these are young girls who know of their sexual desirability to older men and are willing to act on it. This sick fantasy gives Humbert permission to prey on these girls, but he never acts on it because he deems himself too cowardly.

Then he meets Dolores Haze, the Lolita of the novel’s title. She, too him, is the epitome of seductive childhood. He describes his lust for her, and then, in one scene, how he gets off secretly as she sits on his lap.

Right now, I’m not sure if I am going to continue reading this book. It is masterfully written, but guys, this is a deeply-disturbing look into the mind of a monster.

Also, anyone who says Lolita is a love story is wrong and should feel bad.

Goodnight.

Philosophy Club Part 2 (or: you can bring a philosophy major to Pizza but you can’t make him think)

Published January 15, 2013 by pipsqueak

(this is a follow-up to Philosophy Club Part 1, easily locatable by virtue of it’s the only other post on this blog oh god I’m such a blogging baby)

Come, beloveds, travel with me to a magical room full of 18-22 year old white dudes, all very similar, but each with facial hair unique to only him! There is pizza in this room, and upon the whiteboard is the Philosoraptor, lovingly rendered in dry-erase marker.

no, seriously, stop it

Okay, now that we’re all there in our minds, eating pizza and references tired old memes…

Here a chin, there a beard, everywhere a chin beard

I previously mentioned how most of the attendees were… birds of the same feather.

chin beard/black shirt/talked about camus you know you made my ears hurt

But there were a few people who stuck out to me as remarkable, and renewed my conceptions of philosophy as a field anyone can benefit from, opposed to a pseudointellectual circle-jerk for guys with chin hair

chinbeard really

the circle of hair around my face helps me channel the flow of my wisdom

(I’m sorry I keep touching on the beard thing. Now it’s just petty, I know.)

The Outliers of Philosophy Club

Behind me sat a girl with fake-diamond ear plugs and nose studs, a powdery fake tan, dark eyemakeup, and long flat-ironed hair. From appearance alone, she didn’t scream “philosophy enthusiast.”

she’s evaluating anomalous monism right now, that’s her thinking face

She spoke with the universal Sorority Girl Drawl, but she introduced herself as a Philosophy Major. Later she said “I’m just reaaallly exciiiited to like, have a movie night, like watch The Matrix. That’s such a great movie, I love the epistemology and solipsism themes!”

There was also one (1) black guy, a soft-spoken slender guy with wire-rimmed glasses. He said he was into philosophy “just to find different ways to look at things,” a response that was remarkable amidst all the grandiloquence.

Then there was the homeless woman. She waddled in precisely on time, several large bags dangling on both arms. She was wrapped up for the weather and didn’t take off her headscarf or battered parka over the course of the meeting. Perhaps she wasn’t sure if she was going to be allowed to stay. She took two pieces of pizza and sat in the last row of seats. When we were given instructions to introduce ourselves with our major and why we came, she told us she hadn’t been in school for a long time.

“But I came here because I believe that philosophy can be very… nourishing for a person’s intellect. It can make us feel more whole, more complete as human beings.” This response drew a curt smile from the question asker.

When we were playing The Many-Brained Beast, an improv game where we constructed sentences by each contributing one word, she seemed confused. She was supposed to finish the sentence “What does philosophy do?” The words so far: “Philosophy… is… like… a… giant…”

“I don’t know,” she said. The club leaders laughed a little uneasily. “That works! Philosophy is like a giant I don’t know!”

this is gif contains the collected wisdom of philosophy club

The woman seemed lost, like this wasn’t what she came for. Later, during a group discussion of “soooooo…. what is philosophy, anyway?” she piped up once more. The room seemed uneasy with her, a bedraggled, somber interloper in a group of college kids with too much time on their hands.

“Well, Philosophy is a greek word, formed of philia and sophos.” She spoke with a tremulous reverence. It sounded like the definition touched her. “It literally means love of wisdom.”

And then another dude brought up pedophiles.

TrollFaceForm2

PEDOPHILES ARE THE FUNNIEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD OF

In conclusion

Philosophy Club didn’t teach me a lot about philosophy. I know I’ve been pretty harsh on the group. To be fair, it was their first meeting of the year, and everyone was probably just excited to eat free pizza and then get drunk later. Still, it had a men’s club vibe not dissimilar to The School of Athens, or, say, reddit.

#bros

I’d like to study why philosophy seems to attract this very specific type of person. In the words of one person I asked:

“White guys can do philosophy during the time they spend not being oppressed by society.”

Fair enough, I guess.

Philosophy Club Part 1 (or: an anthropological study of white dudes with unique beards)

Published January 15, 2013 by pipsqueak

Ah, Philosophy. That enlightener of humankind, propelling us from our animalistic darkness and onward, ever onward, towards the noble truths of life are at last revealed! So surely something called Philosophy Club would be full of clearheaded seekers of wisdom willing to debate and discuss and argue for what they believe in?

nope

I visited the callout meeting of IU’s philosophy club for purposes of absorbing some new ideas + pizza. Here’s what actually happened:

The Minutes of the Meeting (recreated haphazardly):

7:00-7:10 – introductions + people trickling in late

7:10-7:13 – We were told that as a surprise, Don LaFontaine (of movie-trailer voiceover fame) was going to introduce philosophy club. Everyone became confused, milled around. The lights were turned off and 2001: A Space Odyssey theme played on a tinny laptop speaker.

An undergraduate dude with a big fluffy blonde beard got up and stood in the corner and asked us, in a rough approximation of Don LaFontaine’s grave intonations:

“Are you ready… to questions all your assumptions?

Are you ready… to deconstruct reality as you know it?

If you are, you might be ready… for Philosophy Club.”

7:13-7:30 –  explaining what Philosophy Club is, strange improve game involving the organizers of the club ad libbing answers to questions by each saying one word at a time, resulting in sentences that didn’t make sense (but were certainly quite droll in their spontaneous silliness!)

7:30-7:40 – more introductions because approximately 20 people sauntered in late

7:40-7:59 – small groups, discussion of the question “What is Philosophy to You?”

8:00 – abrupt adjournment of Philosophy Club, retreat of most members to after-party (like Philosophy Club, but at an apartment so there can be alcohol)

The Philosophy Clubbies:

Around forty people showed up to the meeting. Most of them, with a few interesting exceptions, were woefully similar. I’m going to make a generalization and call this person-type Philosophy Phil. 70% of Philosophy Club were PhiPhils.

The hallmark of a Philosophy Phil:

  • philosophy major or minor
  • caucasian as all get-out
  • unkempt beard thing OR stringy goatee. This element is very important to PhiPhil’s physical appearance, and a source of great pride. Beards were mentioned con frequencia at Philosophy Club. I don’t know why, maybe a performing hypermasculinity thing?
  • favorite animal is wolf
  • bonus: t-shirt with philosophy pun on it, ie:
Image

although you may wish you kould

  • “The meaning of life is… BANANAS!!!! LOL THAT WAS AN EXCELLENT BIT OF RANDOM JAPERY! HO HO HO!”
  • and lastly, a deep love of speaking at length and with an air of weary, knowing intellectualism.

Although the modern PhiPhil dominated Philosophy Club, there were a few members who were more unique. I’ll write about them tomorrow, when I don’t have my eyelids melting down my face.