Saturday, July 29, 2006

My Body, My Self

A week or two ago, I found this philosophy quiz online. Here were my results at the time:

1. Kant (100%)
2. Ayn Rand (98%)
3. John Stuart Mill (98%)
4. Aquinas (94%)
5. Jean-Paul Sartre (83%)
6. Jeremy Bentham (77%)
7. St. Augustine (76%)
8. Aristotle (72%)
9. Spinoza (70%)
10. Stoics (66%)
11. Plato (64%)
12. Epicureans (52%)
13. Prescriptivism (48%)
14. Cynics (39%)
15. Ockham (39%)
16. Nel Noddings (38%)
17. Nietzsche (35%)
18. David Hume (30%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (13%)

98% Ayn Rand? I thought I had exorcised that ghost in late high school/early college.

But, like all online quizes, I went back and took it again and got completely different results:

1. Kant (100%)
2. John Stuart Mill (97%)
3. Aristotle (91%)
4. Jeremy Bentham (89%)
5. Ayn Rand (86%)
6. Aquinas (83%)
7. Epicureans (80%)
8. Stoics (74%)
9. Jean-Paul Sartre (71%)
10. Spinoza (70%)
11. Prescriptivism (64%)
12. Nietzsche (58%)
13. Ockham (58%)
14. Cynics (53%)
15. St. Augustine (46%)
16. David Hume (44%)
17. Plato (43%)
18. Thomas Hobbes (40%)
19. Nel Noddings (38%)

Alright, not so different. Kant and John Stuart Mill remained in top positions, but Ayn was bumped down a bit. I mean, The Fountainhead was a good read, but I can't accept that 98% of my philosophy is reflected in it. I skipped the 90 pages of the 120 page lecture in Atlas Shrugged after I realized John Galt was just presenting different metaphors and was making one, and only one, point. Also, can someone please explain why there seemed to be more men than women in AS, so that there were something like 5 men all vying for Dagny's hand? It's obnoxious and sexist, while simultaneously coming across as ridiculous fantasy along the lines of "in a perfect world, all the attractive, strong men will fall for women whose values and work ethic correspond to theirs directly and won't desire the other women out there." A sad tragedy of Ayn Rand's life was she constantly presented one physical constant for her heroes--angular aryan mesomorphs with chiseled features--and another for her villains--short squat shifty swarthy endomorphs--and guess which physical constant she more closely resembled? Yes, it totally bites when you stake out such an importance in the physical and it just so happens that you look like your villains. You had better hope those really cute boys look past your face and see your mind. Not that I blame Ayn for this. I tend to ascribe moral attributes based upon physical ones. Or rather, I tend to see a connection between the physical and the spiritual. But nothing so obvious or extreme as Aynie's and when I get around to creating my very own philosophy (and cult) I hope to be a bit more subtle about it.

See, this sort of digression would get me kicked out of Objectivist Kaffeeklatsches, regardless of what some online test says about my philosophy.

Of course, I criticise Ayn for seeming to populate her ideal world with more men than women and, yet, she is the only female on the list of philosophers with whom my philosophy corresponds. And she is the only one I actually take the time to critique. This isn't because I don't have opinions about the life of Sartre, Nietzsche, or St. Augustine. I do. But none of their writings have actually stuck in my mind the way that Ayn Rand's has. I don't occasionally reference the Ubermensch in conversation. My mom doesn't save me aricles they find about the personal life of John Stuart Mill. I haven't befriended coworkers based on their interest in Thomas Hobbes. Which means that 1) Ayn Rand's influence on me has been far greater than I may want to give her credit and 2) my fall reading list is apparently set.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Who Am I To Argue?

You May Be a Bit Obsessive Compulsive...

Meticulous and detailed oriented, you have some irrational obsessions.
Maybe it's your super neat closet or washing your hands a gazillion times.
You probably know it's weird, but you just can't stop thinking about it.
In fact, the more you think about your quirks, the more you have to do them.

You mean everyone isn't picky about which fork they use? You mean most people don't feel a need to organize M&Ms by color before eating them? You mean most people are able to pass a store without buying a black dress?

How very strange.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Still Don't Know What I Was Waiting For

In The Sandman: The Wake the character Lucien (chief librarian in The Dreaming) is asked why Morpheus let himself die. Lucien responds, "Sometimes, perhaps, one must change or die. And in the end, there were, perhaps, limits to how much he could let himself change."

I have been thinking about that phrase a lot lately as events have transpired to cause me to realize that I am terrified of change.

This may come as a bit of a surprise when one considers that about two and a half years ago, Fred and I signed on for a life-changing experience by conceiving a child. I watched the shape of my body change as he grew inside of me and now I watch the shape of my days change as he grows outside of me. However, with the exception of the choice to conceive, having a child is a passive experience when it comes to change; the change happens to you and you react to it, as opposed to actively seeking out the change. When it comes to choices, I tend to avoid even having to put myself into Robert Frost's shoes by just not venturing forward. Sure, sometimes the roads find me, but then, the change is out of my hands, it will happen whether I will it to or not.

I do not seek out change and, in some ways, my life feels like it is preserved in amber. I have lived in the city of my birth for most of my life. I have lived in the same house for nine years and we have made our one bedroom loft work despite the fact that we have a rapidly growing toddler in a space which has few doors and walls. I have not had a "real" job in five years and when I did, I stayed in those jobs for long periods of times, long after it was time for me to move on, because I would tell myself that leaving required too much effort on my part. I am plagued by my own inertia. I approach every new opportunity with fear and trepidation which often overshadows any hope and excitement I should be feeling. I meet other mothers and make noises about getting together for play dates, but never actually get around to responding to their overtures of friendship.

As I type this, it sounds like I am lazy. Or anti-social. I don't quite think that is my problem however. When I really look at myself, I think I would describe myself as someone who takes a long time to adjust and feel comfortable in a new situation. I went to college in Portland and at no point did it ever seem like home. I have spent nine years in this apartment, but it took us years to get this place organized in such a way that we were happy and comfortable. I really prefer sleeping in my own bed and one of the perks of being a 30+ married mother is that no one really expects me to sleep anywhere else.

But time marches on and change is inevitable. We all have to change eventually and maybe just jumping in headfirst is the better course of action. The water will still be every bit as cold, but the more wet you are, the quicker it will be for your body to adjust to the temperature. Easing one's self into the pool just prolongs the inevitable and it never makes that final plunge of shoulders and head any more bearable. Sometimes one has to act in order to control one's fate. If the choices are change or die, it would seem that life is the way to go.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You Cried For The Moon

I heard about the bombings in Mumbai on the way home from Gymboree.

Syd Barrett died on Friday, but it was only announced this morning.

I've been thinking of Syd all day. Annoyed that no radio stations have played Shine On Crazy Diamond or Wish You Were Here, or at least, none were playing them when I was listening (which shows the level of my irritability that I should expect the radio stations to be playing these songs in heavy rotation as tribute so that I may hear them for the 15 minutes I am listening to the station.)

Unlike most people, I do not think of Syd Barrett, first and foremost, as the man who formed Pink Floyd, but left the band due to mental instability and who was not around for The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, or any of their megastardom of the seventies. I don't think of Syd Barrett as a man driven to the brink by his own internal demons, preexisting mental condition, and too much LSD. I think of Syd Barrett as the man who sounded like Robyn Hitchcock. It is uncanny. Not just the voice (which is surely a result of them being from the same part of the world), but the lyrical looniness, overall style, and, heck, they even looked similar in their youth (as far as I can tell, but then, I never actually saw Syd Barrett in real life). Of course, I should say that Robyn Hitchcock sounds like Syd Barrett since, well, according to his bio, Robyn didn't get a guitar until 1967 and, by then, Pink Floyd were recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

I could write for many days on Robyn Hitchcock, Pink Floyd, or Syd Barrett's solo work, but I probably wouldn't be able to explain why I am saddened by the death of Syd Barrett.

When I hear the song Wish You Were Here, I think of friendship. I think of the people who I loved who are no longer here because they checked out before their time. I think of the people I loved who have descended too far into their madness for me to reach them. I think of the people I loved who I couldn't save. The people who still occasionally haunt my dreams. I tell myself that I want them to be happy, and if the choices they made, the choices which made it impossible for me to be part of their lives, have made them happy, then I can live with the pain. And most of the time I mean it.

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, Blue skies from pain. Can you tell a green field From a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell? Did they get you to trade Your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air to a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change? Did you exchange A walk on part in the war, For a lead role in a cage? How I wish, how I wish you were here. We're just two lost souls Swimming in a fish bowl, Year after year, Running over the same old ground. Have we found? The same old fears. Wish you were here.

RIP Syd Barrett. You were missed in life as you will be in death. You were loved. You created some beautiful music and inspired more people than you could know. In the end, isn't this all we could hope to achieve in our short time on earth?

But today was anything but a slow news day and it is hard not to feel that focussing on the death of one troubled genius is indulgent when confronted with the deaths of so many innocents. I'm thinking of the people in what was once Bombay as well, thinking of those who died and those who are left behind to pick up the pieces and mourn.

If You Graphed My Blog Today

It would look like this.

Since this website assigns color value to links, images, linebreaks, etc, if I regraph my blog in a few weeks, it will look different. How cool is that?

Check out the graphs for the black dress blog and the knitting blog (if you are interested.)

Saturday, July 08, 2006


“Rules: Please leave a one-word comment that you think best describes me — it can only be one word long. Then copy and paste this into your blog so that I may leave a word about you.”

I am also posting this on the knitting blog, in case you find yourself overwhelmed with words to describe me.

From The Kitchener Bitch and Wonkyknit