While she is away

August 22, 2012 § 3 Comments

I dream all the way through August, like a spore trapped, floating through cylindrical shafts of the sun’s rays, as my life edges dreamily towards winter nights.

As Summer draws to a close, the days flutter by with me barely having perceived them. I live through fleeting moments as if they were still-shots of a warm, effervescent dream.

 If I could record only a single detail, one thing that captures everything about her, it would be how she touches everything, dressing and decorating men to bear a winter of solitude that, in the midst of her absence, only the brightest of souls will endure. With a sweep of her dress, she sprinkles a confetti of stars across a void that swallows one hundred days, and once she has sunk behind her velvet veil, in my lonely hour, I sit plucking her gifts from the sky.


A voice inside my head, inspired by someone else’s song

August 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

Sitting in a darkened room offloading thoughts that scurry to bathe in shadow, like wearied minnows struggling against the current of a relentless stream.

‘Take leave of life to examine life,’ he said, ‘and you will return a learned man.’

 I wonder if I were to sow the seeds of thought amongst a flowerbed of children’s dreams, my successors will embark on the search for truth long before their minds are scathed by the poisoned darts of collectivism. 

I am ill-fated to a life of intellectual destitution, unless I continue this struggle through the blackness of the unknown. And as I feel for and clasp the roots of truth, I use them as leverage to drag myself up and out of a cesspit of vices that threaten to annihilate the very foundations of my integrity.


July 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Only time can quell the sting of a bitter heart whose frayed strings tangle as it thuds its way into a pitiless destitution. To prematurely refill the insipid remnants of a juice whose acids scorch the lining of a muscle whose life lends you your own, is to salt a wound that tunnels to and down through to the bowel of one’s soul.

Pity is a windowless cage, whose walls are coated in oil, perched high above  an abyss whose bowel roars at the moth who dares drift towards a dishonest light.

When at last mercury melts, creeps through and dribbles out of the arteries it once clogged, snatches of new hope tip the scales towards convalescence,

and at last there is peace.

The Book of Disquiet

June 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

I have so much thanks I only wish I could give to Pessoa for giving me these notes. A man extremely philosophically and lyrically gifted. I loved this for what it was and for how it was written. I loved it because it gave me a part of myself I didn’t know I had; or, rather, didn’t know it was possible to express in such a lucid way. I love this man for everything.

June 8, 2012 § 4 Comments

I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to pursue all three sciences. I don’t want to do anything with my life but study it. Nothing else makes sense. I have a vivacious passion burning in me, to understand and define what it is to exist and why it is that we do so. This, then, extends to how it may be possible for other life forms to exist alongside us and share our universe. What, then, could the limits (or non-limits) of this universe? Why should it, and I along with it, exist at all? I need to know if my existence is what I believe it to be. With wondering these things, I study the metaphysics, but only as a pre-cursor to physics. I then think that alongside the physics, it would be desirable to learn chemistry, and then to understand chemistry, in the context of life – biology. Why, then, should I not spend my earnings on education – self and formal? I have no need for fancy clothes and fast cars. I have no need for, nor want of superfluity.

An ode to our man Ludwig

December 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

I think the first time I read a quote the belonged to Mr Ludwig Wittgenstein, I was somewhat amazed, but only moderately so. He didn’t capture me in the way that, say, Nietzsche (my love for him (shamelessly) knows no bounds), or even tales and legends of Socrates did. I kind of shrugged and gave a – meh, that’s smart – swiftly carrying on with whatever had my attention at the time. Every time I see a Wittgenstein quote, I react in the same way. Well I did until today.

I went out this summer and picked up Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus  and, must admit, found it somewhat overwhelming. What a grand introduction he gave it, only to throw ‘incoherent’ (ashamedly to me, anyway) tidbits of philosophy at me. What was he playing at? I so naively thought. Then came the podcast. Whilst searching for something philosophical to listen to on my journeys to and from the tube station every day, I happened on quite a wealth of philosophy podcasts in the iTunes store, one of which was a 7 minute ‘analysis’ of Tractatus Logico. They say analysis, but it was more a narration of it. Anyway, again, despite the very authoritative way in which some of Wittgenstein’s text was presented to me, I sort of nodded and got on with my day, only pausing for a few minutes to reflect on this, now obviously, profound piece of philosophy.

Wittgenstein begins by telling his reader that his work is concerned with the simple fact that the reason problems arise in philosophy, is that the logic of our language has, somewhere down the line, been misunderstood. Now, I haven’t read enough of Tractatus Logico  to know whether he himself has had a stab at identifying where on that line, and perhaps you might let me know if he has – of course without giving me too much in the way of a spoiler, but it was at this point that I (partly) shed my skin of scepticism (for a philosopher would never shed it all), and sort of ‘let him in’, if you will. I read this, as I said, this summer, so why is it relevant today?

I recently began reading John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which so far has dealt with trying to distinguish the inherent properties of objects, from the impressions or ideas they have upon us. For example the object that is an apple, is in essence very different from the idea we have of it, says Locke. When we think of apples, we may call upon our idea of them being red, crunchy and sweet. What Locke argues is that the properties red, crunchy and sweet are not properties that belong to the apple, rather the effects the apple’s actual properties have upon our senses. Thus he concludes that any object in existence’s actual properties can only be of bulk, number, figure and motion.

This is the bit where it all got exciting for me.

Locke, by way of illustration, says:

The second sort [the quality of an object that is the power its properties have upon our senses] are looked upon as real qualities, in the things thus affecting us: but the third sort [the quality of an object that is the power it has to transform the properties of another object] are called and esteemed barely powers, v.g. the idea of heat, or light, which we receive to our eye, or touch from the sun, are commonly thought real qualities existing in the sun, and something more than mere powers of it.

Whenever an illustration is given in a philosophical text, I will, by habit, seek to provide more illustrations of my own, in order to prove of disprove a proposed theory. Before I got to that stage here, I sat and thought about real-life examples of our doing what Locke has described. It would not be uncommon, I think, for a parent explaining the concept of the sun to their child, and in trying to point out that it is hot, to therefore utter something like ‘the sun is hot’. Well, not around Locke they wouldn’t. Locke would clearly retort, ‘no, sire, the sun is NOT hot – the sun makes us FEEL hot.’ And, I thought, so would Wittgenstein, and it is here that I’ve found it in me to appreciate his philosophy in the way it should be appreciated.

I think my initial problem with Wittgenstein was the way he flippantly disregarded everything metaphysical, everything in philosophy I held dear to me, on the grounds that unanswerable questions are ultimately nonsense. They are of things that do not concern us, or, as he states more effectively than I ‘what we cannot talk about, we must pass over in silence’. Being human, and more importantly, being a human interested in philosophy, my ego finds it somewhat difficult, perhaps even a little straining, to pass over ANYTHING in silence. To do so would be ignorant, so my conscious tells me, and alas, my soul yields.

Whose blame is it anyway? Why internet censorship is not the answer

November 28, 2011 § 16 Comments

What is wrong with internet censorship? Not an article on the rights and wrongs of suicide, and not a platform for debate on whether or not a person has the right to take his or her own life; instead, it is one that seeks to understand how and why we have come to arrive at a culture more focused on seeking to blame following tragedy, than preventing it.

An Essex mother has called for suicide help websites to be banned, after her 22-year old son was found to have taken his life. Stephen was said to have been found dead in the home that he shared with his father, after he allegedly consulted a suicide help site for ‘an unusual method of suicide’, by using a helium canister. I was first alerted to this story whilst watching Channel  5’s news program as I waited to have my hair done at the hairdressers. Following a factual report of her son’s tragic passing, Stephen’s mother expressed her belief that her son would still be here, had he not had access to instructions on how to commit suicide on the internet. I have issues with this line of reasoning. Firstly, people have been seeking to end, and more importantly, ending their lives, long before the invention of the internet, and often without ‘instruction’. Yes, it might help to know how others have gone about doing so successfully, with as little room for error and/or pain as possible, but it is generally something that can be achieved without instruction. What is also interesting is that the method Stephen used was an unusual one. The report remarks on the ‘unusual method’ Stephen used, as if to claim that idea of suicide itself was planted in his head by the website, and that without its influence, he would not have been able to achieve what he did. Might it just be that Stephen didn’t want his death to look like a suicide, was already certain of what he wished to end his life, with or without help, and that his research was purely for the sake of finding a way to eliminate all elements of suspicion surrounding it? It isn’t uncommon for people contemplating suicide to want to cover up how it is they died, especially when they’ve also been trying to conceal any signs of depression in the lead up to ending their lives. Understandably, Stephens parents were shocked by the whole ordeal and that say his suicide was unusual because he ‘seemed happy’. Let us not forget that it is not uncommon for depressed/suicidal people to try and cover up how they’re feeling. His ‘laughter and lighting up the room’, as described by his father, could have been an overt mask, one that helped to cover up how he truly felt.

We find it very difficult to talk about and confront mental illness – depression in particular. People diagnosed with depression are stigmatised for pretty much the rest of their lives, and receiving help is, in my opinion, more difficult than it could be. Support from family and friends is virtually non-existent for many, and the arrival of the internet, has brought with it a platform for vulnerable members of society to find and support each other. There are forums for drug users, forums for people who participate in obscure sexual activities, forums for people who want to discuss and further their eating disorders – it is now easier than ever to connect with the people who used to be leagues away, and no longer do people have to feel as if they are battling problems alone and living amongst people who cannot relate to them. This, I believe, is why suicide websites, websites that support people with eating disorders, carry so much appeal. They’re ‘answers’ to the societal problems we are too afraid to discuss, and explore, in an effort to come up with supportive, if not preventative measures for.

‘But isn’t Stephen’s mum’s call for a ban on suicide websites a preventative method?’ You may say. Not directly, no. What I believe is wrong with censorship, is that in many, if not most cases, it’s akin cutting off the limbs of a tree with diseased roots, hoping that the tree will be cured of all afflictions. This, coupled with the fact that the majority of cries for censorship, seem to be for materials on issues we, as a society, find hard to swallow, or admit are major problems in the first place. Take, for example, the calls in Turkey to censor pornographic websites –  it is no secret that western society struggles to find a place, in itself, for finding comfort in discussing and embracing human sexuality. Or take the calls to censor sites related to Nazism and holocaust denial in France, again, topics seemingly still worthy of debate, but forever tiptoed around, for fear of offending the people directly and indirectly affected by them.

There are, then, of course automatic and unquestionable censors put in place, and these include censors on things like child-pornography, which, interestingly, is something that there is a majority agreement on the need for. It’s interesting because it’s one of those ‘yes-it should-be-censored-without-a-doubt’ areas, simply because it’s horrific. I don’t for a second doubt that it is, but wasn’t murder and brutal violence once abhorred in exactly the same way? One now only has to pop in a DVD with a little red circle in the right hand corner of the box to be in for a ‘thrilling’, and often said to be ‘exhilarating’, gruesome viewing experience. Surely this shift in what does and doesn’t qualify as viewing pleasure will happen with issues currently in the greyer areas of our moral spectrum?

Similar to suicide help websites, there are websites that help to support people with eating disorders. These are places where people with eating disorders can come and discuss successful methods of starvation, ways to combat the side-effects (for lack of a better word) of starvation, and how successful their weigh-ins have been for them, week by week, or month by month. Calls for a ban of these websites have been pushed with the same zeal as this Stephen’s mother’s call for a ban on suicide sites, and I cannot help but feel that it’s yet another example of society looking for someone to blame when it should be focusing on ways to support vulnerable people, or even encourage or positively  subdue curiosity in the case of the young. Eating disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts – they’re never going to go away, particularly not if we keep shying from tackling them head on, instead of alienating the people who carry them. Treating them as and labelling them pathetic victims, and then fleeing for fear of becoming contaminated by them.

Finally, how long will it be before we stop looking for ‘agents’ to blame? In 2009, Daniel Petric was found guilty of shooting his parents because they wouldn’t let him play Halo 3, a first-person video game in which the player must shoot and kill enemies. The story was met with claims that such games are too graphic and violent, and influence children and young people to become so. It’s much more likely that there had been a relationship breakdown between Daniel and his parents, and that he was battling issues few could provide him with the support for.  Is this, then an illustration of a shift in parental authority to state authority? Is it a sign that because we yield to and seek State authority where it should not be filling in for self-sufficiency, subsequently, parents seek to hand, or shall I say, cast their parental responsibility over to the State? Where things do go horribly wrong, rather than question parenting and support methods, instead censorship is enforced, and laws on entertainment are questioned. People call for a ban on things that very many people can enjoy without suffering ill-effects on their characters.

Ultimately, the sooner we stop looking for outlets to pin the blame on, and the sooner we realise that malicious people, the creators of these sites, are always going to exploit the vulnerable positions of those we are too fearful to help ourselves, we can perhaps work towards not being afraid to ask the questions we so clearly need answers to, in order arrive at conclusions that deal with the root of our problems. It is tragic that lives have been and will continue to be lost as we try to fight these problems head on, but at some point, we need to start digging for roots, rather than lopping off branches.

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