Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Shot At the World

My perspective on philosophy is very, very simple: Make it applicable.

I presented a little bit of Gramsci in a class and tried to go in a different direction, which worked sometimes and didn't at others. I made it personal. Like, painfully so. We are the consequences of our actions and the influences of the people we've gathered around us, yes? So I asked, what behaviors have rubbed off from former lovers and that immediately focused their attention. Human nature is a process, yes?

Human nature is in the little things we do or don't. The tiny bits we get comfortable with, like crossing our legs or tapping our fingers on the desk. I don't view it as something grand, then. If you want to see human nature, don't just look at things like having to die, but also whether you urinate in the shower or your body language while ordering coffee.

According to Gramsci, human nature is something learned, not solely something installed on the harddrives of our psyche by our extraterrestrial creator. (Yes, God and computers. It's a bit of a cliche, isn't it?) But I looked and I saw open eyes and even a look of shock on a couple faces. when I applied it to a domestic point. Something snapped into place behind their pupils and watching that transpire is a feeling that's better for my soul than a hundred mental health days.

That's what philosophy ought to be. It ought to be something that shocks and surprises, like going through a haunted house from the inside out. It should implore its practitioners to ask deeper, more probing questions and for a brief moment, it might have. This all is very idealistic. In this case, it's my idealism and that makes all the difference. (It doesn't.)

It was that granular applicability that made the point corporeal, powerful and frighteningly useful. Given a little more time, the discussion (a kid just admitted that he took his parents lives for granted, for God's sake!), cut off, could have been interesting. It wasn't to be, but I got something special out of it nonetheless. I got a single moment of clarity, an instant of demystifying power against a lake (not an ocean or sea) of unimpressed faces. I could get used to that.

I am listening to a lot of Thursday, in quantities that I never did before. A City By The Light Divided has been keeping me company, but it's War All the Time that I listened to through first. Asleep in the Chapel is off War All the Time, and it's strange in that when I don't pay attention, I like it more. But when I try to describe why, I can't. The verses are so good, the chorus less so. Plus, it uses the phrase "sing hallelujah", which almost always scores good marks in my book.

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