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Tag Archives: existentialism
A Bit of Advice for People Who Think They Ought to Have Others’ Approval–or God’s Approval–for What They Value
If you look around you and find that you’re the only person who values a particular thing, you need to have the self esteem to say, “It still has value for me.” And if you don’t value what others value–or what … Continue reading
God didn’t prevent the Holocaust, but we would have. And God didn’t prevent the 2004 Christmas tsunami that killed over 100,000 people, but we would have. And Nature doesn’t care if death is the engine of evolution, but we do. … Continue reading
Embodied and mortal consciousnesses together–7 billion of us!–subject to pain, held to the rocky surface of a sphere by gravity in a vast cosmic ocean, beacon lights (such as they are) random and far away. The Earth is our Titanic, … Continue reading
I saw Gravity, and plan to see it again before it leaves theatres. But it’s not a perfect movie. With its inane exchange of banter between the ground crew and astronauts at the beginning of the film, it gets off … Continue reading
Nicely, nicely said: Life is tragic simply because the earth turns, and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of … Continue reading
The following occurred to me on waking from a nap this afternoon: Existentialism can be summed up in just six words consisting of two sentences: You’re going to die. Your move. Chess players, medieval Germany, circa 1305-1340. (Image source: Wikipedia … Continue reading
Wow. This works on so many levels. It humanizes the strangers to one another; it points up our liabilities to impatience and misjudgments of risk and distance; and it vividly dramatizes the consequences of casual bad habits, distraction, and inattention. A … Continue reading
Here’s the two-fold problem: (1) each of us is limited to a body we did not choose and that dies, and (2) science since Darwin has revealed living things to be machines that evolve by competition (the proteins in cells, … Continue reading
In For the Time Being (1999), Annie Dillard (b. 1945) writes the following: “There is now, living in New York City, a church-sanctioned hermit, Theresa Mancuso, who wrote recently, ‘The thing we desperately need is to face the way it is’” … Continue reading
From a recent interview: It’s just an accident that we happen to be on earth, enjoying our silly little moments, distracting ourselves as often as possible so we don’t have to really face up to the fact that, you know, … Continue reading
Pleasure in concentration and pursuit. And notice the constant tail wagging. On your way to dusty death (Heidegger called us “beings unto death”), do you have a satisfying mental and physical practice that keeps you occupied? Aside from giving you … Continue reading
Heidegger calls each human being a “being unto death”–that is, a being turned toward and moving in death’s direction. What is the consequence of this? One is that each of us adopts a persona. The time-limiting nature of your existence … Continue reading
The below image of the Earth and our moon (the starburst is our planet and the tiny dot under it, the moon), recently taken by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn 900 million miles away, is more than a little unnerving. … Continue reading
First vantage. Astronaut Suni Williams on what it’s like to look down on Earth from space: When you’re flying in space some of the things down on Earth seem trivial. Things like politics leave your mind. […] For me, [most] news … Continue reading
How much can you change your life and those of others, really? That’s a question I’ve been gnawing on a bit after seeing this past weekend an outdoor staging of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare, famously, was obsessed … Continue reading
I’d like to offer an existentialist interpretation of Emily Dickinson’s famously perplexing poem, “My Life had stood–A Loaded Gun–” (poem 754 in her collected works). Here’s the poem: My Life had stood–a Loaded Gun– In Corners–till a Day The Owner … Continue reading
In a collection of art essays by Roger Kimball titled Art’s Prospect (Ivan R. Dee 2003) is an essay on a Matisse exhibit in which Kimball writes the following (151): [Matisse] arrived [in Morocco in 1912] in the rainy season, … Continue reading
If you’re like me, you don’t want to die. And if you’re also like me, you’ve got things you tell yourself and things you do to divert your attention away from the fact that you will die. But even Ray Kurzweil will die. That’s … Continue reading
The below video is a nice introduction to existentialism. And so is this brief passage written by historian Carlin Barton in her great book, Roman Honor: The Fire in the Bones (University of California Press 2001, 31-32): On the morning of … Continue reading