A Summary of My Philosophical Questions

I’ve made some changes to the site to reflect my change in priorities and outlook over the past year or two. I also rewrote my ‘about‘ bit. I decided to make it mostly a summary of the philosophical questions and subject matter that are of interest to me and why. I’m happy with how it came out. There’s something very satisfying about laying down a statement of where I am intellectually at some specific time. It’s not comprehensive—notably lacking are my interests in regress and specificity in meanings, and in Hegel. But editing > comprehensiveness, so I’m going to leave those out. In any case, here’s the summary:

Philosophy of logic: People give me a weird look when I say that the philosophy of logic is my strongest philosophical passion. Maybe I can explain it this way: consider any belief you hold. It might even be a tricky belief, like that you don’t know anything for sure, or that your beliefs are not the sorts of things that can be put into words (nice try). Whatever this belief may be, and whether you realize it or not, it is constrained by some abstract, fundamental rules. Rules like if ‘A’ is true and ‘B’ is true, it follows that ‘A & B’ is true. You might think: what could possibly be interesting about such trivial observations? To my mind, there are two very interesting things about them. One is that when we codify all these trivial, almost stupidly obvious rules, we discover that they yield paradoxes.…

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A Suicide and a Tattoo

Fresh from the needle

A few days ago, a man named Rob hung himself. I met Rob only once – the day he gave me my first tattoo.

Here’s the background: as a result of my legal status (a subject for another day), I’d never left the U.S. since I first arrived when I was seven years old. I was all set to change that – I was leaving soon to backpack through Europe indefinitely. This felt like a major transition in my life, and I wanted to mark it with my first tattoo. I thought for a long time about what the tattoo should be. For a while, I’d settled on Escher’s “Drawing Hands.” It represented, for me, the notion that we create ourselves. But, I soon thought: if that’s the idea I want to mark on my body, then I should do it with an image that is actually my own creation. And so I decided on a doodle I once drew on a piece of receipt paper while working at a restaurant – a piece I’d titled “Love.” I have a huge collection of “restaurant doodles” from my server days, and “Love” has always been my favorite.

My best friend Dan had a friend named Rob. Rob was his best friend throughout his teenage years. They’d fallen out of touch, but, as I remember now, they’d recently reconnected. As I had no money to pay a professional tattoo artist, and Dan assured me Rob was pretty good, I decided to ask Rob to tattoo me.…

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mother! – Some Scattered Thoughts

How would you like to spend 2 hrs. this close or closer to Jennifer Lawrence’s face?

spoilers below

mother! – the new film from Darren Aronofsky, starring Jennifer Lawrence – is actually worth watching. That, already, makes it a major achievement – by and large, movies suck. What’s more, it even manages to be pretty damn unique. Its basic strategy is twofold:

One: keep the camera max ten inches from Jennifer Lawrence’s face. Capitalize on the fact that the audience is just as confused and upset as Lawrence is. In other words, feed the audience their own experience of watching this movie in the form of the star’s omnipresent performance.

Two: take the house-as-planet-Earth metaphor and play it out as literally as possible. Mismatches between what a house is literally like and what life on planet Earth is literally like will arise. Allow these mismatches to develop their own absurd logic and allow that logic to run the film’s dramatic engine.

The result is, again, a surprisingly unique movie. I’ve never seen another movie like it – I don’t get to say that often. It’s also interesting enough to get me to write this post, which is more than a movie has compelled me to do in years.

Now, however much I may appreciate the film’s uniqueness, I do want to air three complaints:

One: Darren Aronofsky’s formula really does come down to shock value. I haven’t seen Noah, and I don’t remember The Wrestler or The Fountain.…

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