Category Archives: waxing philosophic

The Problem of Sexy.

My last post and the subsequent comments got me thinking about sexiness, to wit: what is sexy anyway?

The thing is, I have never thought of myself as sexy and so my mind rebelled against the notion of that term being applied to me. And even though I know myself to be a sensualist, I have never equated sensualism with sexuality. In my mind, they are two different things: sexiness is a part of sexuality, the art of attraction and copulation, and a sexy person has the knack of attracting sexual attentions. Sensuality, on the other hand, is taking pleasure in the experience of the senses and is by nature a personal, internal phenomenon, and is largely asexual. One thing they do have in common is the taking pleasure in the experience of a thing, but the way the experience is gained and internalized are two different processes.

But the problem bothered me: is it possible for someone to be sexy without being sexual? Surely, it must be so, for did I not name 2 of 3 bloggers as “sexy” whose blogs are not in any form, sexual? So what then, was it that made them “sexy” to me?

My sister helped guide me to some persective on this matter: that some people would find sensualism itself to be appealing, beautiful, attractive, and sexy. And that this is likely what Puss and Pool mean when they say that as a sensualist, I am sexy (I am still flummoxed by
this notion, however!). That realization then made it obvious that the reason I named Franki, Kara, and Dawn as sexy is because they each have some characteristic I find endearing and utterly beautiful–that makes me visit their blogs every day. Franki has boundless exuberance and humor, Kara is witty and clever and snarky, and Dawn is smart and kind and wise.

So, I must say, thank you Puss, so much, for teaching me something I would never have thought about otherwise. I truly am honored to know you.

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On world peace and the meaning of life.

Lee of Tar Heel Ramblings (http://tarheelramblings.blogspot.com/) recently posted for World Peace. I’ve been in a philosophical,
introspective mood recently, so his comments have percolated in my mind. Questions and possible answers that just lead to more questions tumbling in my thoughts–that half-obsessive, lazy, roundabout way I have of thinking about things. To paraphrase, Lee states that

“the U.S. should use its vast resources to improve the quality of life of peoples around the globe, rather than wage war upon them. Perhaps then value of life would be realized and people would put aside ideologies and work instead towards living in peace.”

On that matter, the following comment (which I posted on Lee’s blog) is what all my thinking has come to:

Would that it were so easy! But its not, is it? Why is it hard? I hesitate to chalk it up to “human nature”–its too easy an answer: a dismissal of the problem instead of a consideration–but I do think there is something in human biology that contributes to (not necessasrily causes!) intergroup conflict. But just because a thing is “genetic” does not mean that it is inevitable: under the right circumstances, biologic phenomena can be suppressed. Regardless of all that, the primary causes of war and violence and oppression are social, not biological, and are just as capable of being rectified. The question is, are those with the power and the ability to do any rectification desirous of doing so? Apparently not. Why should this be so? Can the common man and woman and child do anything to influence our leaders? Perhaps only en masse–and when has an entire population (or a significant majority) ever agreed on anything other than War?

There’s an endless array of questions that follow. The idea of world peace and the problem of violence are not simple issues with simple solutions. There are a multitude of variables involved, each with their own attendant causes and consequences, and none of which that can be “fixed” with band-aids.

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One of the “big questions” so important to philosophy and theology, the one that everyone ponders at some point in his or her life, is also one that now annoys me most. That question I call “The 42 Problem” (from D. Adams’s “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”) which is: “What is the meaning of Life? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life?”

I have often pondered this question, of course, how could I not? Our culture is steeped in a mythology of purpose–so much of our daily interactions and speech consistently refer to this nebulous concept. Whole scholary tomes and fantastical fictions are devoted to this question. But for all those thousands of years of questioning, pondering, postulating, conjecturing, and pontificating, there as been few, if any, satisfactory declarations of “Eureka!” Many current thinkers now state that the meaning of life is whatever you make of it. Typically post-modern in its utter meaninglessness!

As for myself, my countless hours of questioning have led me to conclude that this question is as meaningless as that antique koan of the glass being half-empty or half-full. My answer to that is that it doesn’t matter: the amount of liquid in the glass is the same, either way–it is pointless to assert anything about the fullness or emptiness of the glass–the point is only to drink from it.

Likewise, trying to find the meaning of life is pointless. Life is the liquid being contained in a glass–is that glass Meaningful or Purposeful? It doesn’t matter–what matters is that you drink what is within it. As for that drink, that elusive nectar, Life…

There is no evidence or reason that life must have any inherent “meaning”. Instead, life is simply an inevitable consequence of the structure of our universe. If any meaning does exists, it will be in the conundrum the Universe itself presents: the meaning (if any) of Existence itself, not just Life. Whether you chose to ascribe that Meaning to God(s), Self, or the Universe is up to you.

Myself, I believe such activity is pointless, for if there is no meaning, if the universe is but a chance confluence of events, then any pursuit and discovery of meaning is naught but illusion. And if indeed meaning exists and is inherent to the universe, then we are all already living it–and knowing it would not drastically change the quality of my life or my understanding of it. If there is no meaning my life continues as it is. If there is meaning, my life still would continue as it is.

Knowing and not knowing are the same.
The glass is neither half empty, nor half full.

(As a postscript, I must say that I suspect that the actual question to which 42 is the answer is: “How many times must I seek the meaning of life, the universe, and everything before I realize that there is no meaning?”)

The Infinite Diamond

I like to ask questions. I don’t care so much about the answers: the process of wondering, conjecturing, and theorizing is far more enjoyable than the act of seeking out and finding the “answers,” of “knowing the Truth.”

I’m one of those people for whom “Truth” is inconsequential. I do believe that it exists, but not as a solid unidimensional point of reality, but as a multifaceted gem: a polygonal object of infinite
planes–a brilliant-cut diamond shaped from raw reality and set into a support that displays and holds its beauty for posterity. Reality is a malleable substance, and we create our truths from that substance. This is not to say that Truth is fake. Even molded from the stuff of reality, it is still real, but it is a reality that is shaped to suit our likings and our needs. A cut diamond, for all its flaws and perfections, is still just as real as the rough stone mined out of the mountains.

Here is a sampling of some questions I have asked myself in the past year. I keep these things in my notebook, and sometimes review them, wondering about every possible facet of the gem of reality I am considering.

  • As an atheist, how can art-making be a spiritual practice? Why do I feel that it is? What is it about art making–the creative process–makes it a spiritual activity? Is the spiritual aspect of creativity essential to the act for all artists, or is it a fringe benefit that not all artists necessarily receive? Is it possible to create without spirit? Perhaps, if forced to create something on demand, but is it art if it does not come from the spirit? Is it possible for any article of creation to arise without that essence of the self?
  • Which comes first: freedom of body or freedom of mind? Is it possible for one to be Free when the body is bound in chains? How can I cultivate a sense of mental freedom when my body is constrained by my obligations and limitations? Or when my mind itself is constrained by emotionalism and spontaneous reactivity?
  • What is freedom? Can freedom exist in our reality? In whatever way we define freedom to be, and in whatever degree it can exist in our reality, can it be said, honestly, that we as Americans, as a people and as individuals, are free?
  • Why do we conjecture about an “afterlife”? Death can never really be understood because it is known only as the event in which the living cease to be living. Death is not-life, so how can we presume to conjecture about the nature and properties of death or the afterlife if we do not know what Life is as well? What is Life–what is it that makes the Living living, and the Dead not-living? Is it possible that Life, as a property of the universe, is like Energy and Matter, and can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted from one form to another? Is Life an arrangement of energy and matter, a property of a combination of both, or is it a separate “force” with its own properties and laws?

When I start these kind of Wonderings, I let “answers” come to me, but I don’t pursue them with the voracity of a scientist hunting for the truth. For me, truth can be seen in glimpses of reflection, in the flash of light, or in the shimmer of color that the Infinite Diamond of Reality holds within its molecular walls. I find myself content with the faceted view–that I may never know the entirety of the truth contained in one facet, but instead be lightly engrossed in the surface truths of the whole gem. It seems more satisfying, somehow. More beautiful.

Shadows

The world is made of layers. There is always something behind what you
see before you. It is those tantalizing shadows of half-glimpsed
reality that make life interesting.

Consider the shadows on the forest floor, between the leafy shrub oak at
our feet and the slender white trunks of the birch grove a few yards
away. What mystery does that greenish grey shadow contain?

Or consider the shadows in the layers of an old woman’s skin. The
wrinkles carry her years, the shadows carry her memories. If you but
look, and let your eyes follow the path of life across her face, can you
hear the whisper of her soul reach out to yours?

In the shadows of reality lies the essence of life itself. We live in
the shadows of others, and others live in the shadows we cast. I have
to wonder, would the life we live and the lives of those around us be
better if we became more aware of those Shadows and the Secrets within?