Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Chloe

Happy Birthday to our faithful reader Chloe!
(Fondant cake courtesy of Courtenay)

Friday, December 29, 2006

We've Got Beavers!

So there's a beaver attacking the woods around our house. He's slowly building a dam across the entire lake. He's built a nice little mud hut for all his little beaver babies.

That's one busy beaver!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Philosophy Phun: Friendship

Friendship is not a concept that most philosophers spend a lot of time writing about. It's not very surprising when you consider that the typical philosopher spends most of his (or her!) time sitting alone thinking about the world, while knowing he's smarter than everyone else. So who has time for friends?

When I was a wee little philosopher in high school, one of my first philosophical thoughts had to do with friendship. It was at the same time I took my first philosophy class that I had started to develop my first real and true friendships with a few high school chums (including the lovely Fair White). When I took my first philosophy class everything seemed new again and it gave me the opportunity to reexamine my relationship to the world. Now that probably sounds a bit highfalutin, but it really did change the way I looked at things.

So what was the thought I had about friendship? It struck me in high school that the majority of friendships I had were nothing more than hangout buddies--or as I learned much later, Aristotle referred to them as friendships based on utility or friendships based on pleasure. Everyone has these types of friendships and, in fact, most friendships will fall into one of those two categories. I realized that all of those relationships were lacking something--and that something was tension. It becomes clearer if you think of friends as two poles of a dialectic (A dialectic is comprised of: a thesis, an antithesis which negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis).

Think of A as friend 1, B as friend 2 and C as the resulting friendship. The synthesis is only possible if A and B pull on one another (tension) to make the relationship taught.

So what does this all mean? My point is that the goal of every friendship should be to improve the other. Too many people settle for boring friends or find friends that are too selfish. Friends need to push one another or as Aristotle puts it, "wish good to each other for each other’s own sake". The friendship cannot be one-sided. So, for example, if you were in a friendship with someone because they were older or cooler, that would not be a friendship that makes you a better person--it would be a utility friendship because it is one-sided. You must act both for your own sake and for the sake of your friend and in that way you will both become better people.

Keep those relationships taught.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Light Tour

Every year my hometown releases a list of the brightest and most baroque light displays. It's usually a 2-3 hour drive filled with Christmas carols and hot chocolate. I love the light tour. Most people find it boring and tedious, but I really like boring and tedious activities when it involves loved ones (wait 'til I post about the annual Christmas drive to New York).

I've mentioned my inability to get into the "Christmas spirit" in previous posts and I was hoping that the light tour would be just the thing to get me in the mood for Christmas. Unfortunately, this year a family friend drove us around town and he drove quickly from one house to the next, barely slowing down in between. So this year's light tour took about 45 minutes and there was no hot chocolate.

Fair White mentioned to me that perhaps "Christmas is just tired this year". I did try.

Enjoy the pictures:

This is the garage to the house above. As you can see it's been converted into some sort of reindeer barn

This one is so lazy it's creative. It's two arrows, both pointing to the far superior light displays of the neighbors.

Philosophy Phun: Knight of Faith

Knight of Faith--

Soren Kierkegaard is an anti-philosopher. How is he an anti-philosopher?
  • He's good looking
  • Does not write in the traditional style and by that I mean he stresses experiential evidence and anecdotes
  • Logic and reason are present, but not essential
  • Did I mention he's good looking?
One of Kierkegaard's most interesting concepts is his knight of faith. Kierkegaard believes that there are 3 main levels of existence: the Aesthetic (slaves), the Ethical (Knights of Infinite Resignation), and the Religious (Knights of Faith). To illustrate the differences Kierkegaard tells a little love story (of course!):

A young lad falls in love with a princess, the content of his whole life lies in this love, and yet the relationships is one that cannot possibly be brought to fruition, be translated from ideality to reality.

I should mention that Soren had a great love with a woman named Regina and they were engaged to be married. Shortly after the engagement, though they were still deeply in love, Soren broke it off on account of melancholy. She ended up marrying someone else and they never saw each other again, but Soren and Regina remained in love with one another. So now I'll give a quick rundown of how each level of existence deals with this love story.

Aesthetic/Slaves (or, as Kierkegaard calls them: "the frogs in life's swamp") - Kierkegaard gives their response as, "'such love is foolishness; the rich brewer's widow is just as good and sound a match'". He then adds: "Let them croak away undisturbed in their swamp". I'm pretty sure he's referring to the basic plot of every hip-hop video.

Knight of Infinite Resignation (KIR) - The KIR "does not renounce the love...he first makes sure that this really is the content of his life". He continues (sorry for the long quotes, it's just too beautiful):

Having thus imbibed all the love and absorbed himself in it, he does not lack the courage to attempt and risk everything. He reflects over his life's circumstances, he summons the swift thoughts that like trained doves obey his every signal, he waves his rod over them, and they rush off in all directions. But now when they all return as messengers of sorrow and explain to him that it is an impossibility, he becomes quiet, he dismisses them, he remains alone, and he performs the movement.

His love for her has become the substance of his life and the substance has filled him entirely. He knows that it is impossible for the love to be fully realized and it's at this point that he makes "the movement". This movement is the movement of infinite resignation and all that means is that he infinitely renounces her love and reconciles himself with that pain. He does not let her go completely, however, but instead holds on to her memory--a memory that is independent and unaffected by the real live girl. And in this way "he keeps this love young and it grows with him in years and beauty". The finite, temporal girl has been replaced by the infinite.

Knight of Faith (KoF) -
The KoF follows the same trajectory up to the reconciling of pain, but then makes one more movement: the movement of faith (also referred to as a leap of faith). This movement is different from the movement of infinite resignation in that it is completely personal--it is only understandable to the person making the movement because it is beyond reason and understanding. The KoF says: "Nevertheless I have faith that I will get her--that is, by virtue of the absurd, by virtue of the fact that for God all things are possible." The KoF knows that the love is an impossibility, but he has faith that it will happen anyway. Or as Kierkegaard puts it:

By my own strength I can give up the princess, and I shall be no sulker but find joy and peace and repose in my pain, but with my own strength I cannot get her back again, for all that strength is precisely what I use to renounce my claim on her. But by faith, says that marvellous knight, by faith you will get her on the strength of the absurd.

That quotation has a footnote that reads: 'If I had had faith I would have stayed with Regina'.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12 Course Meal at Arun's

Went to a 12-course meal at Arun's last week. It was a wonderful night. Enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Things- I have moved.

I made my family and friends move all my stuff for me on my birthday (which was November 30th). I now live in a Gothic castle in Logan Square. We have tons of light, a Family-Ties-style bathroom, in-building laundry, a giant beautiful boulevard park out front, and dirt cheap rent. Enjoy these photos:

Living room-

Nice Victorian flourishes-

Entry room-

The crazy 80's light-up bathtub-

My bedroom-

Big kitchen, double oven, dish washer-

It's been super cold in here this winter. I won't lie to you, these old places are drafty and the landlord is fairly negligent. But it's real close to the Blue Line and is hands-down pretty gorgeous.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The 2nd annual Fakes-giving was a great success. There was lots of food and lots of smiling faces. I made that turkey and I can assure you it looked (and tasted) much better in person. Gwen made some sweet potatoes and delicious stuffing and Heather made a wonderful apple crisp.

I had a great time.

Now I'm off to Tampa, FL for the "real" Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Flower Shop Boys

Yesterday, I visited the Flower Shop Boys. I hadn't been to their wonderful living-space-former-flower-shop since they moved there in mid-June. They have converted the green house into a screening room/theater and the downstairs is now a neighborhood computer lab. It's real popular with all the local kids, who can go there and play computer games for free and hang out with cool older kids. Everything was going well and John-the-Canadian was patting himself on the back for how nicely they were contributing to the neighborhood, when the police kicked open his door. He tells the story like this. He was sitting in his room in his underpants, there was a knock on his door, then a female officer who was holding a big flashlight kicked it open. About ten more cops entered and they searched the whole place. They were looking for a teenage run-away who had visited the computer lab before. They suspected that the Flower Shop Boys were letting the run-away live there. They went into the basement, and found the creepy maze they had built for Halloween, with fake severed limbs and fake blood on the walls. I guess it didn't have a good impact on the police officers that went down there. The FS Boys said that if the run away ever shows up again, they'll tell him to call his parents and let them know he's OK.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Action Jeans!

1. Nice crotch shot.
2. What the hell does, "You're the champion of this Century" mean?
3. "We'll Knock'em Out!" What? Who is "we" and who are we knocking out?

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Week

We've been celebrating Halloween every day here in sunny Los Angeles. It took me three months, but I've finally grown enough leg hair for my costume. Wednesday, we went to a Vaudville show at El Cid and were the only ones in costume. Heather went as an active senior and I had my gym teacher outfit on. Last night, we got pulled over on the way to the dance-off. It always happens when I'm in the car. At least it was a real nice lady cop (Heather had a tail light out). She even gave us directions to Farmer Boys for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Leg hair


Me, the Coach.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Detroit

There are lots of nice, castle-looking buildings.

This is the gigantic totally abandoned train station.


I had a fine time taking a day trip to Detroit on Friday. I took some real nice pictures of blight and decay that I think I shall paint from soon. Here are some of my favorites: