You spin me right-round baby

by phil on Thursday Sep 30, 2010 1:48 AM

Car sharing in Austin

Car2go just hit 10,000 members in Austin, TX. Car2go is a car rental service without a car rental office. If you spot a Car2go car parked somewhere, you just swipe your issued RFID card on the dash, and instantly it's yours. It's similar to those Dutch cities where bikes are free for anybody to use, and so you just leave them wherever you are, and pick up the next one when you're ready. I use Car2go on average three times a week here in Austin. It's perfect for one-way trips, which is precisely what I want when I go drinking downtown. I'm even to the point where I did the math and thought, "Hey, what if I could live carless here?"

The thought process kicked in when I received a letter in the mail from my dealer saying, "We will buy your car for cash!" I could use a few grand right about now, I thought to myself. But then it rained on and off for two straight weeks, and that really tested my interest in Car2go. One time, the nearest available car was a 10 minute walk away while it was pouring wet. But I guess that's what being carless means. It means having to say "no" to yourself when transportation options are limited. Do we really need "always on" transportation? I then thought it would be extra convenient if you could pay to have a Car2go delivered to my neighborhood. It wouldn't have to be too expensive, because the car-deliveryperson would just be hoping from one short trip to another. You could call it Car2shift or something.

Is there a "Will to Psychedelia"?

I like etymologies that hide in plain sight. For example, without looking it up, the word "psychedelic" is probably related to "psyche" and "delight." I've been referring a lot lately to the importance of psychedelic experiences. When I describe the primary benefit of going to my 10-year High School reunion, I talk about how psychedelic it was. Seeing people you haven't seen in 10 years, and reminiscing on memories that you haven't thought about in ages is very trippy. People even brought back memories from Kindergarten. I felt like parts of my brain that had been shelved for years were being tickled for the first time again. That uniquely psychedelic experience was worth it in of itself.

Psychedelia will be the dominant currency by which we value future experiences. I feel like that's the proper response to nihilism. First God died in the 1850s, then meaning died around World War II. Now that meaning is dead, why are we here? Why are you taking that damn trip to Europe? You're all grown up already, so you can't be "finding yourself" anymore. And you're not searching for a meaningful experience, because God knows how many times you've traveled already. But you still go on adventures, and you still try to fall in love after your third divorce because you thirst for the "trip" or the "high." You dabble in lucid dreaming, your try your hand at painting, and you test your limits by auditioning for a reality show, all in an attempt to take your mind places.

The "will to psychedelia" is easily observable in children who spin themselves dizzy on the merry go-round. Awhile back, this knack for silliness got squashed when you reached 14 years old, but we're now seeing these spirits encouraged, with specialty New Age schools focusing less on getting kids to fall in line.

Can you participate in a religion without believing in anything supernatural?

I'm ultimately a naturalist, but I feel very comfortable with everything else about religion. And I'm not talking about religion's perception in the media, which is absolutely ridiculous. If you've never gone to Church, you might think religion is all about preventing gays from marrying or attacking feminists. I believe that only a small, but vocal, minority of churches make the culture wars the focus of their message.

But back to my initial idea, can you be observant if you don't believe in an afterlife? Can you feel good going to services if you have no sense of a Higher Power? I had a vivid dream last night where I was blissfully living out that contradiction. The religion-in-question was Mormonism. And, given the retroactive justification that is natural in dreams, I justified my participation with the true notion that one of my deepest, early spiritual experiences was mediated by a Mormon, Stephen Covey, who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

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