by phil on Tuesday Jan 27, 2004 7:18 PM
This is the 1000th post on Philosophistry. If you are reading this post, the Y2K problems I worried about have not happened, and this blogger will live on. So now, standing on the edge of this huge, millenial number, I want to answer the question, what the hell have I been doing?!
I am a man who values my time, right? What is the motivation for all of this?!!
Since March of 2003, I have seen blogging as the ultimate surface to pursue my passions on. I view it as a simple, free, and open zone where I can shape and catalog ideas. In blogging, I can melt and bond mindcandy together into multi-spectral fireballs of intellectual energy and then hurtle them onto the pixel-landscape of the web. Ka-BOOM!
Every time I hit the [POST] button, it's like BOOM! Nihilism this! BOOM! Orwell that! And all of a sudden, we have the planetary build-up that is Philosophistry.
But why lob these things in the first place?
Man is a linking species, and blogging is the ultimate linking exercise
When I notice a pattern or a connection between, let's say, evolution, religion, and chicadees, it gives me pause. The pause gives me space to reflect. I then put up a magnifying glass and ask, "O' what have ye in store for me O strange new idea?" The little butterfly then flaps its wings and the essence of a unique and special idea waffs through my mind.
How does this process work?
Let me dissect a post I made in September on Orwell's claim about weapons and its relationship to history.
It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon--so long as there is no answer to it--gives claws to the weak.
Every sub-concept laced in that excerpt serves as a gateway to a greater connection. As your mind grazes over various topics, different neurons in your head start to light up. As you recall Orwell, feudalism, muskets, atomic bombs, battleships, and how you mis-spelled bourgeoisie in High School, disparate loci in your head awaken. And then, as Orwell masterfully links the pieces together, your mind is suddenly afire. Inspiration or that "ah-hah" sense enraptures you. Its like stumbling upon a four-leaf clover. Even more so, if the words are well-written, a beautiful symphony emanates from within.
And THAT is what it's all about. Philosophistry is all about that feeling you get observing ingenuity, wit, cleverness, and other synonyms for the creative synthesis of ideas.
Encountering that feeling enriches my life. And so duplicating that same experience in others seems like a worthwhile exercise.
BELOW IS THE ROUGH DRAFT THAT SPAWNED THIS post
Simplified, it's all about satisfying curiosity, especially the curiosity for beautiful and significant ideas. Great ideas are rich with color.
. Words and ideas that have color. And not just color, but significance, an ability to lighten up neurons in so many regions, it's a nice rush.
why do you want to satisfy curiosity... I don't know why, it's purely emotional, I see some idea that is rich and hot, or have a perspective that's burning, or I feel is novel, and I feel like it's my duty to put it out there, to shape it into clay.
why do you feel its important? I find it beautiful, and I have this natural desire to take something beautiful and distribute it.
What's beautiful about it?
Every word or lights up a topic in the mind. certain words and phrases refer to topics that you are inspired and interested in.
and then like
"history of weapons"
see your brain likes to make connections, as do little kids when they connect the dots. When the philosophist encounters a great essay, many topics light up in the mind until a cloud forms. If there are enough connections, lightning develops, and I start to glow, I feel refreshed, I feel renewed. Like stumbling upon a four-leaf clover. The experience is beautiful.
But, unlike the four-leaf clover, truly great ideas ever-last, and thanks to the Internet, we can take an imprint of it, and distribute to other people. Share the love, if you will.
I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile by sharing it. I spent the time, I know what that feeling is like, re-creating that feeling for others seems like a worthy cause.
absolutely, making out out there, duplicating the beauty, helping others make the same interesting connections.
So would you say that the central message of Philosophistry has been, the beauty of thinking?
yes, for the reasons I stated, I pick topics for the aesthetic pleasure the idea gives in my head. The pattern recognition, recognizing the links, connecting things of culturual significance.
need some words
and why no?
I also use it just as a log for my own ideas, like a notepad. I take notes, and it just tracks and marks where I've been.
So why do you do that purpose?
For later recalL?
Actually, I don't recall them. habit perhaps? fear I'll forget them, or the just in case thing. I don't know, I just have an itch to record things down, especially things of beauty, to capture it, fear of losing it, to archive. Like ooh, there it is, something special, flag it. The mini-epiphanies are rare enough that they're worth taking note of, worth remembering... the recording process also helps me remember it more.
why have conflicting messages?
they're not really conflicting. I'm trying to record things that I think are special. It's like a photo album in words. it extends my memory, either way. It's a dual process...
Is there the concern that others may not be interested in what you're writing about?
That concern is always there, and I do commit that error all the time, just riting without concern for what others say.
So how come you don't seperate into separate blogs, one for your own...
because I also like revealing my life, showing myself to the world..
It's not out of an egotism, I mean, we live to exist, we live so that we can be somewhere for something, our bodies impact the space we occupy, primarily, that's what we do, create impact, in somewhay or another, to affect... distributing my ideas is just another way of existing, another way of living, another way of getting out there as a person.
you know, like, you wear good clothing, because you want to be seen. or you achieve something because you want to give back let's say. But either way, you want ot present yourself.
but why the intimate details?
there's something in opening up
is it therapeutic?
I think it's the sharing thing. sharing my life with others...
what do you feel? when you open up
I feel, emotional, I feel drmatic, actually, like I'm dramatizing my life.
So you do it in order to dramatize your life, why?
it feels like I'm part of a story, a fiction story, a struggle, it characterizes my life in not just a regular humdrum, but a meander, a journey.
yeah, I do it as a way of reflecting to the public... i guess it caters to a desire to turn my life into a story, to give it impact, give it weight.
and you feel like your life needs weight?
it certainly feels great to see your life presented as something other than the ho-drum, it's lie, look at me, I do interesting stuff, I did something, I learnt something, I lived!
what has the impact of Philosophisttry been on you?
How would your life have been different had you not done Philosophistry?
I may have lost focus on my passions. I was already starting to drift when I returned back to school, Philosophistry gave me a consistent place where the intellectual dance was going on, where the auroa borealus mental was happening, I would never forget, and my audience would never let me.
Placing all that time into a flotilla of mind-candy..
but, I think philosophistry is more reflective?
Has it made you smarter?
well, it has shown me that I actually like writing a lot more than I thought I did.
Has it made me smarter?
it's hard to say, it's made me more communication-oriented.
What about topics, do you think you learnt a lot through the process?
Yes, absolutely, more content-based, but I don't think I learnt great things of significance through the art of blogging.
What else did you learn about yourself?
I love to write, that this is what I want to do, that this intellectual dance of creativity, this conglomeration of style, and innovation, and philosophy, and culture, and everything interesting that can be put into words and transported, I discovered that I care about it.
Oh, I also got to return back to a passion of web design.
I love web design, I still get the same highs that I used to get doing web design, or when I first started rather... the high that woah, here's a FRICKING PAGE, it's there, and a million people can access it at any time. I think people take for granted how it was like before the web, how hard it was to get an idea to reach people. You had to talk to them, or call important people, or write a research paper. Now you can quickly get up, stand there and go, YO, this is ME! I exist everybody, and I do STUFF.
How would you explain your relationship to your audience, how has it served you socially.
how have your postings changed
I'm like santa claus, dropping off interesting packages I find. I don't necessarily know or understand rigorously what I'm picking up in these things, but I know they'll be appreciated as gifts to somebody.
putting in all the time into Philosophistry has given me a free-space to explore non-commercial passions, and has kept me focused on that part of life which is more important than a simple job. In a way Philosophsitry has helped me derail myself from the track I felt I was going on: graduate from school, work with some tech company, get money, then house, then family, then run a VC firm, yada yada.
Now, there is potential.
how have your postings evolved or changed.
I'm a lot more controlled in what I say, before, I was excited to post every little thing I found on the Internet. But now I'm respecting my audience so that I know to put things out there that deliver maximum impact.
I'm also making it more of a serious affair, trying to really make it a tool for self-advancement. Before, I had no clear idea of where I was going with my posts, but now I do.
And where are you going?
I'm trying to come up with A) original ideas B) Synthesize interesting ideas already out there C) And distribute it out there. I want to inspire people. I would like for people to visit Philosophistry and feel awakened. If somebody is dealing with relationship-muck, they can come here, and feel like "ah, there is a world out there"
is it an ascetic experience?
Rather than focusing on practical advice, tools, and tips, you're focusing on high-faluting ideas, ideas which don't cure cancer, very abstract ideas
it is indeed, its an escape into a crystalline world of ideas that our society has been developing for ages. The debatse are esoteric, but they're entertaining, interesting, and carry significance to many people. Even though the significance, often, seems, and I'd argue is ascetic, I hope people don't spend their whole lives here. it's a much better alternative to watching TV...
but it's not purely ascetic. I think the kind of knowledge I'm bringing is designed to bring more richness into the world, to find things interesting where others could not see it before. Most people view the world as if technicolor hasn't arrived yet. We're mastering survival better'n'better, how can we make life worth living? I'd say increasing the resolution of the world so that we can see more beauty and enjoy it more.
what about some say that you think too much? or that your talks on like the free will debate only make you more cofused. like philosophy, the free will debate.
yes, I concede that. I guess that is a side-effect, you think too much you're screwed.
I also write because I walk around looking at things with a different eye than others, and I would like other people to walk with my eye for a while--just as I'd love to walk around with others people's.
It's really lonely walking in your own shoes, it'd be nice to get a taste for how other people live, and get their perspective, ifeel like my prspective is worth offering.
If I was the new yorker, I'd talk briefly about some of the topics philosophistry has helped him come up with.. the tautrix, his information monster post, improving the art of blogging.
but this isn't a new yorker article..
Humans have a natural tendancy to connect things. Our success as engineers, scientists, doctors, and video-game players relies on our strength in connecting objects together. Also, being the social animals that we are, we will risk embarrassment, disease, and sometimes our sanity in order to connect to each other.
Fortunately, the experience of making links gives us pleasure. Just watch little kids as they constantly stick their fingers into electrical sockets. Or imagine the feeling of satisfaction you got re-connecting with a long-lost ex-girlfriend, desired or not.
And so re-creating this experience in the intellectual sphere has been the message of Philosophistry.