Friday, May 28, 2010

"Wow, that's so deep."

My brother works on log houses. I came to visit him in his hotel and made small talk with his boss, Frank, well he made some phone calls. His boss, on hearing that I am a philosophy major, responded in the way that many people respond.

"Quick, say something deep."

I was a bit caught off guard. I live philosophy. Not to say that I am particularly good at it, particularly dedicated or particularly clever, just that that is I cannot distinguish between thoughts that are deep and those that are everyday. So I responded with the everyday.

"Is there beer in the fridge?"

"Yes," replied my brother. He did not realise what I was about and assumed I wanted a drink, so he proceeded to recommend one over another, obviously uncomfortable at the notion of his baby sister drinking with the boys.

I bounced over to the fridge and opened it. There was in fact beer in the fridge. "Ah! ha! I have discovered truth." I grinned foolishly at Frank.

So what do people mean by deep? I suppose that the thing changes the way the world looks. Joggles up the senses. That is why I love philosophy. Things look different upside down and backwards.

What changes my life? Carnivorous tomatoes. The fact that picture on the right is cinnamon and on the left, the object I have believed to be cinnamon my entire life, is cassia. I've always wondered why cinnamon tastes slightly different then it ought to. I think my wondering this was simply happenstance, but still. I've been eating cassia my whole life without knowing it's name.

But when someone comments that something I think is 'deep' I feel cheap and commercial. This post I thought on before I wrote. I worked on it in my head. I considered what I could say. This post should be something deep, something meaningful. It is not. What is meaningful? A clever turn of phrase. A twist in the way of saying things. They do not mean the thoughts are deep but that they are witty. It is not wisdom I am sharing with them, but a joke. 'Getting' the joke they think they have encountered the universe.

 Why do I hold such disdain? Was I not once one of those people who found philosophy deep? Do I think think that it will offer me those further things I wish to learn about the world? Knowledge of the universe? Yes. But I also hated it. I never thought it was deep, simply perilous and shattering. I knew that I could lose who I was in it. I did lose who I was in it.

 When I was in grade ten I came up with the witty phrase 'perfection is a delusion of the mind.' I used it as my tagline on msn. Now I know that it means god does not exist, we can never attain our ideals, and perfectionism is unhealthy. Now I know I disagree. I disagreed then too, but did not say so. My perfectionist friend informed me a few years later that it had mattered to her, that being a perfectionist she struggled with and embraced that idea.

So some of the things said can have meaning, but not meaning that I intend which means, I suppose, that even if I do not think anything of what I say it should not bother me when others do.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Consult your preferences

I give up. Everyone else has a cell phone. Apparently my not having a cell phone is almost as inconvenient as my not eating meat.

'What, I can't call you whenever I like? But what if I need to get in touch with you when you are in class? What if I want you to work an extra shift? In fact I think you do have a cell phone. You're lying because you don't want to work.'

None of these things are ever said outright, but from time to time they are meant. So I will conform, I suppose, to this unnecessary object. Rather, they do seem like a bit of fun, although I realise I do not need one that is 'fun' but merely functional.

I don't know much about cell phones. I started by quizzing my friends. It turns out there isn't much to know according to them. The most common response was, 'I pay more then I should because I have unnecessary features, I should change that.'

I turned to the internet. What did I find?

'In order to acquire a phone that is RIGHT FOR YOU consult YOUR PREFERENCES.'

Umm? What? I believe these pages must only exist to waste my time long enough that I will click on an ad. I've never had a cell phone. I don't know what my preferences are and that is why I am reading this page. Why are you telling me to consult my preferences? What preferences? What should I prefer? I don't even know what options I have. Yes of course if it is right for me it will be the one I prefer. What I want is information.

This is not the first time I have encountered this inane rhetoric. I found the same thing when attempting to purchase a laptop and a toaster oven. So far I have always found what is right, not simply for me but as a common sense choice. I find the page that says 'get something over this price or it will break.' That's helpful!