Monday, August 31, 2015

Goodbye Wes

I found out yesterday that Wes Craven past away.  Great creative man and really good guy from what I've heard.  Nightmare on Elm St. is one of my favorite (and I would argue one of the best in-terms of plot development and effects) horror films and one of the few that has me legitimately disturbed every time I see Freddy's face and he starts to stretch his arms out. 

I just found out he directed the first episode of Scream on Mtv.  I'm glad he was able to direct a re-iteration of something that made him well-known and appreciated.  And though I think the season wasn't that great (I could be wrong but didn't we all know the new boy in town was going to be Brandon James son?  I guessed that on I think the second episode.  I thought maybe the podcast girl would be in on it too but that doesn't seem to be the case.  Mediocre writing like Mtv's Scream is usually easy to predict once you know what they won't do, or have as the killer and use process of elimination) the first episode was as good as it could be.

I really don't have anything else to say.  Oh, except that I was surprised that Wes got a Masters degree in Philosophy.  Maybe that explains the Nietzsche quote in one of his movies, though odds are (unless its the third one - and I think its the fifth or sixth) that's one he had no to very-little involvement in.

Quickly, though Epicurus says specifically we shouldn't fear death, and I completely agree, I think philosophers are wrong when they say we shouldn't mourn the dead. Yes, their suffering is over and they're no longer attached to our worldly concerns - but in a way that's why we should take a moment and feel saddened.  Because being sad acknowledges what that person was that is no longer.  Some people mourn in a way that could be perceived as selfish (someone they love is now gone) but I don't think we should begrudge them this.  But I think also people mourn in emotional understanding of  all of our mortality, and that all things never last.  I agree it's irrational to go ballistic when someone dies, and maybe that's the type of selfish inability to cope with someone who meant so much to us no longer being there; the kind that we need to accept in people but view as a type of unfortunate characteristic in some people's psyches.  However, the other more profound kind is usually (at-least the way I imagine it) a more quiet, dignified melancholy.  One that is simply a visceral reflection of life that can lead to a deeper appreciation of it. 

So overall I think the Epicureans, Taoists and others who say we shouldn't mourn the dead are both right and wrong in a way.  It's true we shouldn't focus on the dead and instead the living, but I don't think the feeling of mourning is a "error" that is wrong or irrational to have.  It seems to be an aspect of our humanity - being able to comprehend the value of our sentience and therefore mourning its loss - that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom; though mourning has been documented in elephants among other animals as well.

Take care everyone.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A brief exploration of Epicurus

I recently finished a rather short compilation of the philosopher entitled The Essential Epicurus.  A serviceable edition if not a tad brisk; also, I don't care much for maxims and axiomatic writing, which is one reason why I don't consider Nietzsche a great writer unlike many; and prefer instead the writings of say the Cynic-Stoics or ol' Schop. But then again I haven't read much of the Stoics yet so I'll have to read the book I bought recently to compare the two.

I'll try to make this flow as naturally as I can, but it may be a bit choppy.  Here goes:

The first observation I made in this book is for an Empiricist he sure makes a lot of declarations that he has no evidence of.  Whether or not the Universe is finite or infinite and eternal or not being the main one's that come to mind.  However, when it comes to many things, such as cyclones and rainfall he merely makes intellectual speculation, which reading is interesting on more than one level and I certainly don't begrudge his inaccuracy - as long as he is merely speculating and not making claims with knowledge he doesn't have.  Intellectual curiosity, honesty and rigor are to be commended in all times, but especially in the time he lives in.  I particularly liked his idea that Earthquakes happen due-to wind trapped inside the Earth.

However, though his intellectual rigor is to be commended, inside of their respected sciences (e.g. meteorology, cosmology etc) his analyses have little to no value.  Here I largely concur with the Skeptics and Cynics, in that any claim of knowledge must follow from evidence and that particularly in this stage of human knowledge philosophy should be focused primarily on ethics.  It is true that no scientific knowledge is possible without first theorizing and a great deal of trial and error (perhaps centuries for much of it as a necessity; or that's simply how long it took for Newton, Einstein and others to be born.  Though a synthesis of the two factors seems most-likely) but ethics seems to supersede intricate knowledge of our reality.  For without ethics we wouldn't have the tools for dealing with each other and living well, which would allow far-more intelligent stable people who are sound of mind who may pursue scientific endeavors.  Also ethics gives science its proper utilitarian basis.  Though the notion of knowledge being a good and virtuous thing for its own sake holds sway psychologically for me.

Also, though there is no dispute empirical data and understanding of our world is one of the most invaluable things to Man, it wouldn't be quite as necessary in some ways if people practiced kindness, fairness and a general sense of concern to the other.  Knife wounds would not need to be treated with knowledge of infection if they were not to occur; and metallurgy to construct prisons and mad houses wouldn't be as necessary if all were given the proper material, psychological and social conditions for living a virtuous life, rather than condemned to poverty and damned a second time for theft - a natural consequence of poverty.

As a quick note, particularly claiming to be an Empiricist, I find it absurd he claims there is knowledge of the deities’ existences' (which ones?  Greek or some that we don't have the names of?  Then how do we know them?).  It seems almost that with his unreasonable optimism and with his general preachings that what he claims to be so falls in-line with his Negative Utilitarian preachings.  That is, if he deems it best, most soothing for people, he will pronounce this or that, and overall he may like Plato, believe in the "noble lie" which he pronounces to be true because of its supposed utility.  I am not claiming this is what Epicurus is doing, but this notion came 'cross my mind as I was reading, perhaps for his tone if not for his at-times wholly unwarranted optimism.  Here I find myself far-more with the Cynic-Stoic's attitude of "bearing existence" and if it is more trouble than it's worth suicide becomes reasonable. They seem to acknowledge that life for many people has many painful things about it, and is not merely "brief and curable" as Epicurus believes.  

Though there is great wisdom in "death is nothing to us" it seems he highly conflates its value and at times seems to believe that once this is accepted all other worldly troubles disappear, or there are very-little worldly troubles at-all, or very-little that Epicureans should deal with since he recommends removal of one's self from city life and politics.  I will aim at the last part momentarily, but first I'd like to say the obvious:  namely that a wretched and sorrowful life is still so (perhaps even perceptively more-so) even with the realization that this is the only life we have and death ends all suffering.  Epicurus rationalizes - as I've already said - much suffering as momentarily trifles or as something which can always be cured.  And though in principle this may be true, there for billions in the past, present and foreseeable future will suffer immensely from a lack of knowledge, resource(s), or lack of action of said knowledge to save their lives or better their condition (typically in the form of ending suffering).  It seems unlikely neither their spirits, nor their condition will improve from the knowledge that they have great agony from a curable illness.

Returning to the social point:  here he clearly lacks the philanthropy that the Cynics (and Stoics I believe) find a crucial element in their ethics.  One of the problems I've had with Epicureanism for some time is it seems focused on an individual living the good life, not how to make possible the good life for everyone.  We can't all just escape to our own Gardens and eat bread and water; also attempts at both materially and mentally improve our Brother's lot is of ethical importance.  

This brings me to Epicurus' notion of justice which seems at-times Libertarian in nature:  don't harm me and I won't harm you - with no notion of aiding others simply for the utilitarian benefit that takes the form of their lives improving.  Some early Christian philosophers (Augustine being the main one) claim that the Cynics were as they presented themselves for selfish reasons of drawing attention to themselves; and though there might be some truth to this overall I think they merely wish to display the "good life" as they see it and wittily attack vice where they encounter it.  In fact, Diogenes says he takes lesson from the tutor that, "sings a tad too sharp so the chorus will be right on key," or, lives in extreme asceticism to teach others to simply live and be happy with less and change their thinking.  Which seems a valid explanation, but this was meant to be on Epicurus on not on those unruly yet wise Greek dogs of antiquity.

Despite his lack of Internationalism or social camaraderie (though he does glorify friendship similarly to Aristotle) he does profess much of the wisdom of the Cynic-Stoics in being happy with very-little and not focusing on sensual but instead moral and cerebral pleasures - though I don't think he gives either quite their proper due.

I was going to show further flaws in his epistemology, but this seems unnecessary.  However, I do think I should quickly acknowledge that though there are similarity, some differences I noticed 'tween him and the Cynic-Stoics is while the C-Ss merely say one can bare poverty and it is nothing to be feared, Epicurus (in at-least one of his lines) goes the Mother Teresa route in saying that it is actually fortunate or a blessing to live in poverty - scientific data that shows it stunts brain development and causes a wide array of psychological and emotional problems seems unlikely to warmly concur with such a sentiment.  Also he seems more Anti-sex than the Cynic-Stoics.  While they I think acknowledge that it's associated with popularity/fame and therefore the Ego and with an obsession with sensual pleasures; I don't think they deny that, like technology, it can be a good in life if appreciated properly and not allowed to "corrupt" them.

I think he foolishly embraces free will and does so on utilitarian grounds (which is the main element along with his optimism and "polydeism" where he seems somewhat dishonest - at-least in a way; he may believe what he says, but says it only because he believes it's best for people) and on supposed indeterminacy which he is both lacking in knowledge to purport, and does not grant an organism "free will" in either the Augustinian nor the Humean sense of the word.  It seems largely to assign praise and blame and to give people the comforting illusions necessary to maintain the illusion of autonomy (which even we Hard Determinists have in our daily lives) and pride; which of course anyone with a proper viewing of human nature will find it brings far-more suffering (from rationalizing the state of things as a record of freely acting individuals) and lowly states of mind to people than compassion and humility.

In general, with what I just mentioned, and with the pro-poverty anti-sex stuff, Epicurus seems more along the lines of some forms of Christian thinking than I originally thought or would have anticipated.  Overall, I liked the reading, but thought it was a little stiff and well, "utilitarian" in its writing style.  I think it definitely is worth reading for early ponderings in natural science, and for an early, albeit short, treatise on utilitarian-esque philosophy.

In closing, I think it is very-functional but not to be sought after for reading material.  Epicurus is a philosopher who frankly does not offer a great deal of exploration of his ideas, and reading him (particularly for his ethics) does not leave one with a greater sense of understanding of his philosophy than when one read his Wikipedia and Stanford articles.  Or perhaps that's simply how I feel because I've known of Epicurus for years now.  Great for beginners, would not recommend for those who are already knowledgeable.

SIDE NOTE:  Also having just read Candide I just realized now that Voltaire had a kind-of Epicurean ending in having all the main characters (some of which still purport optimism like Epicurus, though it is of a different kind) tend to their garden and leaving the world in its state of immense suffering and disrepair.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Defintely worth the aggravation, nightmares and now needed therapy se

I just beat Donkey Kong Country.  And I can say without a degree of doubt that it is the hardest platformer I've played 2D or 3D.  Really enjoyable; while I was playing it it felt like there were some parts that were a bit cheap, but on reflection, I think really only the the first mine cart level should be fixed.  It's fairly early on for such a hard level, and I remember having to get a jump down to the micro-second, also when I got it right I wasn't entirely sure what I did differently.

Have no interest in playing the other two.  Only played this one because my second cousin had it and I played it maybe a total of two times (yet the childhood frustration still is something I can recall - mine cart level in particular) because I've never been close with his side of the family.  Still nice to beat though.  I did the Wii version on my 3DS about a year ago and it was much easier than this.

I realized a bit ago that the two games I haven't beat yet are Rayman and Croc. But I deleted my PS One emulator and want to take a long break from retro games.  I'll probably get back to it with Gex 3 if I don't buy an Xbox and focus on early 00's games.  If I play anything it'll be Mega Man 7 passingly.

Also, I'll have something about short Epicurus and Stoic texts I'm reading relatively soon.  I'm taking a break from the paper writing because the ideas I wanted to work on I was jazzed about months ago and I want to do something else before I return to them if I do at-all.

Stay cool.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On Candide

I have just finished Voltaire's Candide, or Optimism and overall have a thorough sensation of being underwhelmed.  It starts very strong and continues so if memory serves until about half-way in (I read the first three-fifths or more months ago and dropped it for more productive endeavors) where it becomes listless and redundant.  The pessimism of the tale refreshing and intelligent, however, it becomes superfluous at a point and the author clearly does not know how to make us emotionally invested with its characters.  I realize this is supposed to be a satire of Leibnitz mostly (who thankfully is one of the most unspoken philosophers of all of Europe - that is of those who are remembered at-all) and has comedic qualities (which once again, worked more in the beginning and then only occasionally) but that does not excuse making the characters dull for the most-part and essentially empty vessels (except from Candide, Martin and perhaps Pangloss) that large amounts of suffering and torment are poured in.

There honestly isn't much to say. It's strange having a hundred page novel that feels could have a moderate editing job done to it.  Honestly, I can't think of a novel that in some ways is so similar yet in tone and in quality is so radically different than Les Miserables.  Both are about the immense suffering human beings can go through and both take place in approx. the same period.  Except while in Les Mis one cares deeply for the characters and finds actual character within them; Candide is simply a cheap outline for Voltaire to criticize his contemporaries (along with Christianity and Jews - yes, the book is filled with Anti-Semitism; and it's not that the book shows the faults in Judaism as Schopenhauer did, it is vicious towards Jewish people) mostly Rousseau and Leibniz - though I suppose he could scarcely be called a contemporary.

I doubt it was the intention of the author, but I find it interesting that his moral in the end seemed to be for the peasantry to work through their pain and not think of their troubles - in Candide's response to Pangloss continue to pontificate how this is the best of all possible worlds, and Candide's reply is basically:  Sure, sure, now shut up and get back to work.  I think though the moral is supposed to be something more standard such as "cultivate your garden; in a mad world work on yourself and those around you for something virtuous and dignified" but that message just didn't strike me in the end.  On the very-last pg they become better people through their toil (though weren't they working on their farm already?  So if anything I suppose this reflects simply a change of mind they all develop?) which has a type of "whistle while you work" message I find loaded with BS. 

You could argue that there's potentially a source of Cynic-stoic wisdom of working on yourself rather than valuing wealth, fame or what European society conventionally values.  Ah, okay, I'll buy a bit of that.  But to me, this type of exemplifying manual labor and drudgery seems alarmingly close to the Primitivism that Voltaire mocks in Rousseau.  Also it seems really easy for Voltaire who was to my knowledge in the lower-end of the Upper Class to talk about the dignity and therapy of back-breaking soul-killing labor when he himself never had to do any.

But then I remember this, I suppose, is supposed to clearly show the awfulness of the type of "everything happens for a reason" mentality or belief that Voltaire is mocking in Leibniz.  But really, to have a hundred pg work make repetitively the same cycle of shit happen just for that final nail in the coffin (which has already been nailed more effectively a dozen times before) is obnoxious, tedious, and pointless.

I also hated that I knew whenever a character "died" I could expect them back.  I think it was around the second or third character returning I told myself, "so we'll see all these guys return by the end?  Yeah, probably."  And like the thirdseason of American Horror Story that ruins the entire thing because I know the characters are worse than disposable.  They're incapable of being legitimately disposed; and therefore incapable of being valued through the prospect of missing them.  Not that there's much to miss in many of them. 

I do however remember liking how Voltaire wrote Candide's loss of innocence in the beginning, but it all became one thing after another and though I read Candide lamenting every fucking time "is this really the best of all worlds!" I felt like he already lost his innocence and it seemed poor writing to have him in a rote fashion act as if he had it again.  I understand.  He's supposed to be the eternal optimism and hope of the human race.  Always thinking things might get better.  But there's having a character with that demeanor who knows what life is (as Candide does at a certain point) and Stoically braves the storm, and a innocent character who is optimistic because they're sheltered and don't know the horrors of the world or the suffering of life.  I feel Voltaire could've made an interesting character in Can, but overall am left knowing he didn't do anything interesting with him.

Overall, I'd say the book should just be one short (that is shorter) story or make each section of chapters a short story and elaborate on them in greater detail - and take a lot out while you're putting more detail into each episode.  I thought the pacing was great in the beginning, but then felt it was either too rushed or usually became repetitive and full of details I found unnecessary.  Though it wasn't maddingly awful, as I suspect Crime and Punishment or another bleak 400+ pg novel would be (I haven't finished a thing by Dostoevsky nor Tolstoy and asides from the latter's essays am unlikely ever to plan to) I did find it tedius and frankly going nowhere. 

This was meant to be just a quick summation of my feelings but I went half-way analytical into it.  Didn't feel like a complete waste of time but don't feel like I emotionally or intellectually profited from reading like I did Les Mis, nor did I enjoy the second-half much, so I can't even say it was a likable read; which at-least I can for Fear and Loathing and The Stranger.  Didn't like it, didn't hate it, but left with an overwhelming "eh" of being thoroughly underwhelmed and undersatisfied.  Asides from the ending I found nothing to hate, but very-little to love; so honestly, I'm surprised I found as much as I did to talk about.  It doesn't even work very-well as a historical piece, at-least not for me.  Because if I'm not invested in the people or narration at-all, how can I feel attached or experiencing a different Era of humanity?  The only thing I experienced from this era is the immense suffering of it, and even then, similar to The Jungle, I didn't feel like I experienced people suffering, but simply cogs created by the author to suffer and be nothing more than fodder to suffer.  People obviously suffer in Les Mis and 1984, but it's complex human beings suffering, and that makes all the difference.

If I'm going to try literature again, I really should re-try Utopia by Moore because I did like it but never wrote on it.  But I probably would try the Hunchback first because I want to see how much I'd like other works by Hugo, and I never did finish Gulliver's Travels. 

Also, I liked the character Martin, and am wondering if Marvin from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is based off him.  I wouldn't disbelieve it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Quickly on a realization

On my 'Masters of Sex Being a Freudian Masterpiece' I mention that A Clockwork Orange is a interesting novel showing the contrast 'tween Hobbsian and Freudian versions of behavior modification.  And though while this still holds up I think it also can be used to show the philosophy of Augestine - Alex being the perfect example of "sinful willfullness."  Of course as a Materialist and Hard Determinist I disagree with Burgess about free will and "evil," but I do think that he puts that point-of-view across quite well, or at-least from how I remember the book from reading it four or more years ago.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pointless Update #9043

Hey guys, I wrote a paper on Anti-Natalism a few days ago.  I'd post it but I already sent it in to a few conferences and I want to wait before I let the entire globe see it.  I also wrote another semi-academic paper about materialism and defining human beings as something else (because though the term "material being" is true it doesn't distinguish people from anything or get to the heart of human beings) but I want to wait a little while before posting that one too.  Sorry.  That one I'll probably post pretty soon though.

I had the idea tonight that Rousseau's conception of things seems very-much like a Cynic.  And I already drew allusions to the Cynics and Social Anarchists, and the allusions to Rousseau and the S.A. (especially the Primitivists) is obvious so I thought I'd write a paper arguing that Rousseau, S.A.s (particularly Bakunin) and Marx are in their own ways grounded in Cynicism.  Now, that isn't to say that they are Cynics, but I do find the similarities uncanny.  I google searched it and from a rudimentary inspection discovered it wasn't a novel idea - but then again what is these days?

I'll probably still write it, because some of the connections I had I hadn't found with the quick look I did, but it probably will only be half-academic if at-all, so it'll probably be one I'll send your way.

Take care, and don't eat the yellow snow.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

On Shameless, Cynicism, Willfulness and the Impermenance of All Things



On Shameless

Shameless is the Malcolm in the Middle of this generation – and anyone whose read my analyses of TV shows how much I love (is worship too strong a word?) that show.  Only take the family dysfunction to a whole new level and add a metric fuck ton of sex and drugs because it’s on Showtime.  Actually, I’d say, in a way, the Gallaghers are more of a tight nit bunch than the (at first I thought I was slippin’ by not remembering Malcolm’s family’s name, but then I looked it up and found out they were never given a last name so I’ll just call them the Muniz’s) Muniz’s because while the latter often have feuds with each other and only occasionally rally together as a family to protect a single member, the former are in every episode sacrificing for the other or showing empathy that only occasionally appears in MitM.  In some ways then, they’re radically different shows:  MitM exposing the selfishness and egoism of either (or both) American culture and the human condition, while also being about the trials of a smart kid in a stupid world; while Shameless seems to be more about the anti-thesis.  How poverty and hardships requires a family to sacrifice for each other while abandoning conventional (i.e. Christian) notions of morality via sex, theft and drug use.  A very strange dichotomy, if that’s the right word.  One show where the family is dysfunctional (MitM) and resentful of each other but has very bourgeois and moralist notions on stealing, vandalism and drugs.  In that when the boys steal or vandalize the parents punish, and hard drugs are never referenced.  Yet in Shameless the family is actually (and not in that bullshit Leave it to Beaver Full House way) strong, loving and united but completely abandon “common” moral notions and live almost as Nihilists regarding society but never each other.
One of the interesting aspects of the show is if it has any politically explicit message.  Frank often spouts ignorant right-wing babble, but because he is the archetype loser we’re expected to see such idiocy for what it is.  But not as ignorant or extreme right-wing sentiments are occasionally said by other main characters who we are supposed to empathize with and “root for.”  It seems unlikely that the writers of the show are actually broadcasting these views as their own because of how they go against the main sociological victory of the show namely accurately and brilliantly depicting the lives of those who live in poverty as result of living in a capitalist country.  As an accurate representation, it seems to wish to depict the political beliefs of the poor in this country, which as the show’s writer puts “are not blue collar but ‘no collar.’  Overall the political statements made in this show, asides from when Lip says the only way the poor can gain substantial capital is to either steal it or scam it, are interestingly enough the anti-thesis of one of the main essences of the show (acknowledging the effects of market structures on society) and also going along with it in depicting the ignorance of the poor and how their condition makes them so that they will never acknowledge and fight against those who made them so.  However many films and movies accurately depict poverty and its effects, and this show has far grander truths that are seldom depicted in television.
One being that Frank is the exact definition of someone who the Cynics are railing against – a completely accurate portrayal of the unvirtuous man.  Hedonistic, apathetic of others, constantly looking for a way to get the most of the simplest and most base pleasures possible with as little work as possible.  He is the depiction of Schopenhauer’s argument that true joy and richness in life comes from within, not from outside sources.  For he constantly is inebriated and intoxicated on one source or another – and though he may have moments of pleasure he is miserable in that he is constantly craving more and never content with himself, never able to occupy himself; seen most-of-all in the episode where he most go two weeks sober and acts as a decent father simply for a distraction.  He is also somewhat a better example of Kierkegaard’s Aesthete than Kramer, though in other ways Kramer is a better representation.
Lip however could be regarded as a Cynical hero.  Both in the colloquial use of the word with his pessimism and skepticism towards American Capitalism and social mores, but also in the philosophical sense of having reason for finding such mores groundless.  He comes from a slum and begins the show as arguably a Hedonist but an intellectual one.  He however always possessed a certain form of self-reliance that Frank never had, and once he enters college though he fails at-first he develops the determination and general character of virtue required to excel – resilience and work ethic being some of the main virtues in the Cynic-Stoic’s Virtue Ethics.  Jimmy however was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  The first two seasons when money isn’t an issue and he’s living at the Gallagher’s mostly to fuck Fiona but  also perhaps to feel like he’s slumming it (while in reality is living the high life stealing cars and can leave whenever he pleases) and it’s all good for him.  But when he actually has to live like the Gallagher’s rather than with the Gallagher’s he crumbles from having to work a job and take care of kids.  He wants to and does leave Fiona because he realizes he may love Fiona but cannot function or suffer enough to become functional in a slum.  Lip however because he always had a drunken absentee parent learns self-reliance and taking only what he needs, and therefore can survive as either rich or poor – as the Cynics and Stoics mention in multiple times.
I think the final events of the first season show a distinction in poor states of being that I think deserve elaboration.  Frank is a son of a bitch but until season three where out of spite he calls Child Custody on Fiona he has never done anything out of malice.  He is willing to harm anyone if it gets him his next fix or a place to sleep, but he never intends on hurting anyone.  However, at the end of the season Karen fucks Frank to hurt his father after she’s wounded from him (her father) calling her a whore.  According to a moral sentimentalist Frank is better because apathy towards others creates less revulsion than malevolence.  But to a utilitarian the only thing of consequence is the consequence(s) of the action at hand.  Karen’s actions leads towards her father’s suicide and other’s hating Frank (arguably irrationally) so it could be argued that actions done out of malevolence are more harmful on average than those done out of apathy. 
I would argue however that apathy can be just as if not more detrimental and devastating a state of mind for a community; for while malevolence has us respond in-kind typically and dislike or rally against hatred (against racism, homophobia etc) apathy, such as the apathy felt towards the poor of the world over, allows the criminals who profit off the poor (and act out of callow self-interest rather than hatred or contempt; though some of the bourgeoisie have feelings of disgust and moral blame towards the poor like a master does his slave) and apathy will ultimately be the damnation of mankind.  For we millions are apathetic towards climate change while in their ignorance (both in terms of knowledge and state of mind) fear terrorism, “the gay agenda” and other non-sense.
The scenario also shows the double standard on consent and an incorrect interpretation of Utilitarianism.  Everyone hates Frank for having sex with a minor, while he was on pain pills, being coerced into and explicitly saying “no” throughout.  Yet he is in the wrong.  This double-standard in sex is introduced again the episode a female pederast moves into the neighborhood.  The guys get together to beat the shit out of a presumed him, only to meekly leave (except Lip – once again the shows intellect) while Lip sees their inconsistency.  Also, false Utilitarianism is shown in people being angry with what Frank did (getting raped) rather than what Karen did (doing the raping).  Someone could criticize Utilitarianism for saying than Frank did more of a moral crime for he caused more suffering.  Firstly, it was Karen who initiated the joint-action, but also it wrongly is from a Moral Sentimentalist-Utilitarian standpoint of how people feeling in the moment being the main factor in the Utilitarian Calculus.  One could argue that homosexuality is wrong on M.S. grounds, or legalizing it is wrong because it creates indignation.  However, of course studies show homosexuality is not worse than bigotry, and overall, this is operating from the flawed reasoning and understanding of reality that how people feel is more important or is a accurate conduit to what is best for them.  People may feel a way about science, but that has no bearing on its utility.  The same goes for all other things.
I thought one of the best moments of the series (haven’t watched all the episodes, work in progress) and a perfect way to end season one was when Frank apologizes to his son for what he did (though for more reason than one it wasn’t his fault) and says that they’re both victims.  What it seems he may be alluding to (most-likely without knowing it, and if he isn’t it still seems far to extrapolate this wisdom from the situation) is that as causal beings we are all victims of life and therefore should be responded to with sympathy and compassion rather than curses and moral condemnation.  Something that shows that even the most wretched and ignorant can at-times have moments of wisdom though they act in the most heinous and idiotic of ways.  Lip however, regardless of whether or not he agrees with Frank’s sentiments intellectually, rejects it (or fails to understand it) phenomenologically clearly through urinating on his father.
The end of season four is full of philosophic material (the majority of the series is actually, I however cannot write an essay detailing it all due-to the time it would take and through most of it being redundant and very shallow wisdom compared to the greater highlights I’m writing on).  Frank standing with his son Carl and telling God he lost, that he’s still alive in-spite of God is much like Kierkegaard’s father cursing God.  It also reminds one of the concept of will.  Augustine considered willfulness to be specifically will against God.  That when we do something “immoral” (according to his Christian standards) we do it not only because it feels good, but because (or only because) it feels good to be bad.  To know one is doing wrong and do it specifically for that reason.  I actually was originally introduced to this concept in Poe; and though I think both of them (and Nietzsche, who seems to more-or-less agree with Augustine’s conception of will but both says that it’s good to be willful and enlarges it to be not only just a motive of psychology but the force behind all biological functioning and existence) over-value its significance in human psychology and motivation it is true they highlight an aspect in humanity that the virtue ethicists leave out.  But to see if this is so we must ask:  does Frank drink because he enjoys being drunk or because he enjoys “living in sin?”  I ultimately think the former has far-more sway.  Pleasure is intrinsically valued in human beings and some are willing to do any form of harm to anyone to obtain.  But they do not perform harm simply to do it.  Some are mentally ill, yes.  Some are sociopaths, yes.  But overall I find the Christian notion of “sin” and immorality as an act of “revolt against God” to be one that does not understand human psychology nor ethics.  Frank does not do ill because he refuses God, he does ill through refusing to live a life that is healthy (in the most broad sense) for both him and his family – and if this is also doing ill through God’s law, the two coincide only through coincidence.
It also is apropos that it is Frank that curses God, for I got a very Kierkegaardian or general Existential vibe from Fiona in the fourth season.  It’s hard to put in words at this point, but overall I suppose it was in her despair in being addicted to “doing wrong” or being a hedonist in the most self-destructive ways.  Her struggle could also be seen to be a struggle of identity which is typically associated with Existentialism, I believe Sartre in particular.  Is Fiona living in Bad Faith when she considers herself a caretaker rather than a “free person” who chooses to be a caretaker?  Sartre would probably say yes.  But also she seems to psychologically be swayed towards Free Will or Radical Freedom in blaming everything she’s done on her fundamentally rather than believing to be a causal mechanism who acts as she does because of Frank, living in the ghetto and everything else.
Also I believe one of the most brilliant and accurate aspects of this show are its portrayal of the impermanence in our stages in life.  In Seinfeld or any sitcom there’s a girlfriend they’d date either for one episode or for a few for some more laughs but when they’re gone they’re forgotten for more whacky hi-jinx.  With this show, change is overall slow but noticed when it occurs.  There was a time when Lip and Karen were lovers and thick-as-thieves.  But that time is no longer.  There was a time when Debbie was young, innocent and was kind and empathetic to everyone almost always.  But that time has left and will not return.  There once was a time when Fiona was the unshakable rock of the Gallagher clan, who never faulted.  But that time too is gone and will never be again.  The only thing that is constant is change.  This sentiment is stated even in the theme song:  You were willing once before, but it’s not like that anymore.  This show expresses excellently the Buddhist sentiment of life being an ever-going series of events and changes.  But not only do the things around us change – not only does the wardrobe and sets change like in most sitcoms – this is one of the few shows that effectively displays the truth that we ourselves change, not just the series of events that determine who we are in the moment.
The show can also be seen as an excellent argument for Anti-Natalism.  For the horrors and suffering of all these people make any sane and honest person recognize that it is a crime to bring an innocent being into a world such as this.  Overall, this is one of the best, if not the best, show in American history.  Yes, I am willing to go that far.  Smart, funny, sad, and powerful.  This is what art should be and what great art is.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pointless Update




I haven’t been very productive since I’ve gotten the internet.  And I feel somewhat psychologically constipated again.  But it’s different this time.  I just discovered the show Shameless, and I’m loving it.  I’ll probably write an analysis of it in the next few days.

I’ll probably focus on reading though; either for research or leisure.  I still haven’t finished Candide and I want to before I tackle Mill, Bakunin or any ancient philosopher.  Part of me has no clue what I’m going to do.  So I’ll just focus on finishing Candide since that sounds pretty good.

Be well.