Friday, July 31, 2009

Some Thoughts

I've had two great, burgeoning philosophical ideas of late. The first is the problem with the rejection of humanism and the loss of a system of rights. The idea of rights and ethical behavior have been dependent upon the notion of a soul or nature that all humans have; from this metaphysical existence, humans arrive at all their rights. But if we are to maintain our conceptions of nature post-Darwin and in a modern sense (i.e. nature is blind, accidental and not imbued with any human truths), and we wish to abandon the nihilistic plunge into the justiifcation of life by metaphysical constructs (i.e. the human body is sacred by the invisible soul that adheres to it mysteriously and in an unverifiable state) then we need to borrow loosely from Kierkegaard. We can transcend or break down the ethical approach to life that are based upon the notion of rights. Instead we enter into a pure relational subjectivity. As my mind and body is presented to me and your mind and body are presented to me as well, two total selves meet, we can enter into something relational that will justify and produce fruitful interactions beyond the pettiness, superficiality and artificialness of rights, ethics and humanism.

This obviously needs to be fleshed out much more, but a relational approach to life, rather than an ethical one, would allow us to escape many of the problems of humanism. One of the those problems being the excluding nature of humanism, where there is no guidelines for behavior toward animals. Humanism, in its various historical forms, has also historically and conveniently left out numerous unrecognized and disenfranchised groups of people; humanism was, in the ancient Greek notion of it, only to include Greek men of particular high-ranked families -- nobody else was deserving of or of the same type of being as them. Humanism is always thought to be the lifeline keeping us from wild, unrestrained madness, the key to civilization, but it has done much more to excuse abuses against those who were not considered humans.

Another idea I've thought about is something that's a mix of sci-fi daydreaming and the philosophical implications of technology. I've become convinced that the cyborg will be the next step in technology. Rather than the building of robots and the rapid development of technology that is outside of the human body, technology will shift and become increasingly incorporated into the human body and mind. It's already happening now. Think about headsets, bluetooth, cell phone, iphone, artificial limbs and the various medical steels and plastics they put inside the body when its damaged. We also live in a world where cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more acceptable, and the idea of the human body as mode-able plastic that can be changed and altered to fit the desire of the mind is a highly popular feeling and idea in our post-modern society; how strange is the endless presence of photo-shopped models and gyms?

Not only will technology become completely incorporated into the human body, it will also enter the brain and the mind. The internet and its endless growth and increasing presence is becoming more and more tied to our daily consciousness. At some point consciousness and the internet will become one. Think about the calculator for example. The human mind has always figured out math problems by the cognitive, mathematical abilities of its mind, but with the invention of the calculator, that use of that part of your brain has decreased and been replaced by an external cognitive tool. What if you could access a calculator at all times anywhere without your hands through the installation of a calculator or the internet directly into your brain? You would no longer use that part of your brain at all, you would use your mind to rapidly access the external technology. The merger of consciousness and the internet would produce a massive hive-mind and make human consciousness extremely flexiable and ever-present. Your mind could be at any part of the world at any time through an internet that exist at every street corner. It's difficult to capture the full reality of such an idea with words.

Monday, July 27, 2009

No Boltbus Stops At Arby's Till Brooklyn!

Well I did it. I slapped that pig Boston right in the face, and I shacked up with Brooklyn. Will be living in Brooklyn sometime mid August. I'm excited about it. There's going to be a lot of eating, as the food that I've had in Manhattan goes unrivaled in depth and complexity of flavor. Maybe there is something in the water that makes the pizza dough just right, and the people a little crazier than average. I do not know. All I do know is that I hope my body can withstand the hedonistic onslaught and the Brooklyn sewer system can withstand the aftermath.

The only thing I'm not excited about is being around Hasidic Jews. As a marvelously confusing half-Jew (ethnicity) and non-Jew (religious), I feel in small, sometimes superficial ways connected to these people. My weird if non-existent relationship with the reform Jewish community of the Andovers has filled my head with unfortunate, irrational emotions mainly through negative reinforcement and post-traumatic associations.

The little shits that used to torture me in hebrew school because I was a new kid would say things like "he doesn't look Jewish" in class further enforcing my feelings as the outsider half-Jew and new kid; yes, something like "you don't look Jewish" can be an insult with the right context. But now, thanks to facial hair, the "knot" between all men of Middle Eastern origin, I look much more Jewish than I did when I was a boy. Walking through Brooklyn I saw some of the Hasidic men had "copper-colored" beards -- like me! My freakish, unexplainable facial hair color is passing me here and there on the faces of men on the street! I share some weird biological link to these fancy hat mimes with beautifully conditioned locks flowing in the hot, browning soot of Brooklyn streets. It's odd for me to see all of this. It's even stranger to see a man dressed in clothes inspired by fashion statements, maybe necessities, from at least 300 years ago pushing fancy strollers around with modern conveniences (blackberries) and the modern inconvenience of addled, ADHD children locked in. I guess foodstamps for your 10 kids will lead to some cognitive difficulties related to malnutrition -- is Wonderbread kosher? NOT ON PASSOVER!!! Is there a foodstamps brand matzoh!?

What the fuck is going on here? Reform Judaism made me believe that all Jewish people go to college, have a maximum of 2 children and are one of the social groups that herald liberal, socialistic and enlightenment values -- and they all own an n64 that they got for Hanukkah -- and they all own your local bank that they got through THE GLOBAL ZIONIST MOVEMENT FOR WORLD DOMINATION LED BY JEWISH REPTILIAN ALIENS. Normal suburbia shit, right? These Jews though do nearly everything except white-collard jobs; they live in bustling cities usually right next to projects where rent is extremely cheap; and they are as conservative as your southern Evangelical Christian. Women do not work, they stay at home to raise the Wondermatzoh hordes and they must dress by strict guidelines. All members of this group bring their religion into every aspect of their lives, and they are completely informed by religious texts and religious charismatic leaders. They interact with the outside world pragmatically to meet occupational and financial goals, but they generally seem very standoffish and mostly concerned with only the people in their group. You can determine a hasidic apartment building complex by the presence of gates and barriers at every window and door; physical displays of a clear attitude and ideology -- surmised with "LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE!"

Their lifestyles seem to work pretty well for them. They've managed to live right next to the places where Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z grew up, and not one of those Hasidic Jews could go toe-to-toe with the Beastie Boys. Well, maybe Matisyahu, but he doesn't count since be was initially a Phish groupie/rasta-lovin' hippie musician before he was turned to the dark side by Darth Baal Shem Tov. Show me some Hasids rockin dreads for sideburns, getting their swagger on, ghost riding their 92 LeSabre with 5 baby seats, and looking in the mirror to say "what's up?" -- get money!!! It's frightening how impervious they are regarding many aspects of their environment and greater society.

I don't know how to end these thoughts or make them cohere, so I'll just finish it with one thought: Hasidic Jews are a good example of what happens when white people stop listening to what black people have to say. Hasidic Jews are locked away in their condo zoos across the street from a boisterous playground next to the projects. They study the "tremble-inducing rhymes" of YtothedashtotheHWH, but they have no time for hip hop. "With rhymes like those, Moses, I would have broken those shit stone tablets too!" Hasidic Jews are so troublesomely stimulating for me because of my loose relations to them, and their dual presence of embodying nearly every single aspect I hate about religion while retaining very few to none of the things I find condescendingly endearing.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why Everybody Thinks Vegetarians Are Fascists:

*MS Paint Showing Mussolini's Approval of Heather Mill's Vegan Ruthlessness

Some dumb celebrity by the name of Heather Mills decided to buyout a seafood restaurant in England. The plan: close the establishment that was popular in the area and open up an all vegan restaurant called "V-bites." Oh, and whilst conquering the world with your endless celebrity resources, make sure you take no prisoners. She proceeded to fire every single staff member of the old restaurant without consideration. Slash and burn business ethics -- hmm, very fitting of a holier-than-thou, supposedly ethically-motivated vegan.

Now I support anybody's decision to pursue vegetarianism and veganism. I think it's damn great in most cases. I love vegetarian and vegan restaurants myself. I also love clearly marked vegetarian meal choices on menus at non-vegetarian restaurants so I can feel comfortable knowing that there isn't ground up horse balls in my soup. But, all is not well in our utopian, vegan fast-food chain world. There is a very essential principle that comes first before the well-being of the environment and animals. It is vital for people to choose free of coercion, threat and symbolic assault. Vegetarianism shouldn't be dogmatic, punitive and religious like it is when it's forced down people's throat in this manner. Without the volition of the individual to choose rationally, free of any threat is essential for a healthy vegetarian community and society -- a healthy society in regard to any issue.

V-bites which sells "veganized" fast-food is not a decision made by a community group or by the demand of the local people. It is some fucked up, vegan McDonald's that wants to force its product through any means necessary; well, almost any means, since this brand of vegetarianism that Heather Mill's subscribes to, something akin to PETA's praxis of their ideology, demands that while its ultimate goal is world-wide conversion to their ideology, it still can't help but play its loved role as the martyred victim; without failure, vegan stunts and identity would struggle to understand itself because its core need, in this brand of veganism, is a stuggled elitism that won't allow itself to be absorbed into greater society. V-bites will probably fail at least in some way or another if it doesn't completely shut down; it most definitely will not bring about any new converts of average omnivorous eaters that will feel alienated, attacked and resentful of Mill's symbolic condescension. It will also help to feed the fire that surrounds vegetarianism as a snobby, petty and militantly aggressive group of people that exist for the sole purpose to agitate greater society -- an outline for the mainstream's opinion about any group deemed "radical" or "leftist."

What vegetarianism needs is not public stunts and ploys that play into and use the very structure that birthed the injustices that forced vegetarianism to be form in response. How different is V-bites from a shitty Hardee's or a McDonald's? A veganized chain would significantly reduce animal cruelty, environmental destruction and may provide slightly healthier alternatives to standard meat-based junk food by cutting out all the excesses of the meat and dairy industry, but the entire order, the structure, the fast-food, consumer capitalist universe of easy, endless, efficient, thoughtless consumption is still being fed itself -- fed like the fat vegetarians that look a lot like the fat meat-eaters at McDonald's but fat off of cheap soybean oil and highly-processed food rather than drug-ridden animal fats disguised as meat. One of the main reasons people are so unhealthy, fat and live personally and globally destructive lives is because they're removed from their food. This type of vegan restaurant just perpetuates the initial attitude that is so destructive in consumerism by selling itself as another thoughtless, quick and cheap way to feed yourself. Vegetarians don't need and should be opposed to these consumerist institutions of how we eat, because they are founded upon the very principles that devastate what vegetarians claim to value.

What vegetarianism also needs is the endless patience to accept that it will be an undoubtedly long process to allow for traditions, power structures and personal habits to be broken down on a massive scale that would allow for a true paradigm shift. But this process has to be slow, has to be thoughtful and has to be rationally motivated and free of the alienating forces of coercion that groups like PETA have mastered in their agitating assault on the public through consumerist media. Its lengthy gestation is equal to the final depth and strength vegetarian will have in a thoughtful society.

And I leave this for you, PETA-type vegetarians and vegans: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." - N-dawg