Thursday, January 31, 2013

T.S. Eliot and Writing Influence


As a writer, I find reading the works of others has an influence on my writing style and who I am as a writer. When I read a piece of writing that draws me in and keeps my attention, I take note of the characteristics that make that piece of writing so effective so that I can apply them to my own writing. T.S. Eliot expresses a similar idea in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," by stating, "No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists"(page 406). Eliot believes that good writing does not come out of nowhere, but that writers and artists are and should be influenced by a variety of sources. I agree that to a certain degree, all writers gain insight and make improvements by reading the works of others before them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The "t"ruth Behind the Mustache

Nietzsche said that there are two kinds of truths.
1) truth
2) Truth

His philosophical idea plays along with structuralism, because the words comes before the idea.  "truths" are interpretations that are acknowledge enough to become facts.  So according to Nietzsche, "there are no facts, only interpretations."

The power behind the "stache."

"Nothingness Shapes Things."

In class, “wrestling” was an emphasized part of this assignment. Ironically, WWE aired wrestling matches tonight—I don’t know if they were championships or super bowls or matches or whatever they call them, but I do know that my Twitter was filled with tweets about them from one particular, normally docile friend whom I call “Pooh Bear”. 
Let the wrestling begin!

First match: Rachel vs. “Nothingness shapes things.” 
Rachel will be making a lot of obvious statements and asking a lot of questions which she truly does not know the answers to.  The quote will defend itself by simply sitting in its mystifying existence. 
“Nothingness shapes things.” 
Does this mean that my body is not shaped by its flesh and organs contained in skin, but by the nothingness that surrounds it?  That’s not possible.  There’s air and coal mine pollutants surrounding my body; there is no emptiness on, or around this earth. 
At least, I think so…I tried scouring Google for an explanation of physical nothingness, but I got so far in over my head, I think I may have to take a break from thinking and come back to this.
Twenty-One Hours Later….
Does nothingness shape what people believe in?  Do people believe in truth because the lack of it is devastating?  Is that nothingness, or is that just an opposite? 
Does nothingness shape what we believe to be true?  Do we believe in the ground beneath our feet, because nothingness is not there—and…therefore shaping it.
I feel like I’m getting nowhere, after I thought I had a lot to say about this.

When I think of this quote, I think of the universe, and everything inside it, being what it is because the vast black nothingness surrounds it, outlining it.

I suppose I was connecting Dichotomy with the concept of existent/non-existent subject in more of an Augustinian view. The concept that evil does not exist, it is simply the absence of good, like darkness is the absence of light, not its own thing. I still need to fully grasp this new concept of non-existence.

Let's talk about nieztche

Logical truth can only be carried through by falsification. Therefore any truth we tell is ultimately a lie. Because there is not one thing or thought that every single person on the planet can agree is factual, how can we justify truth? Nieztche says that the truth is a "false raised to a higher power." We take lies that we determine to be true and convince others that our thoughts are truth. If others believe us, than we ultimately succeed. If we fail, we are failing our truth. But in the end, we are believing or denying falsification because there is no concrete truth in the world. Man has searched, is searching, and will continue searching forever for a truthful world that is not self-contradictory, not deceptive, and does not change.
The theory of discovering truth and vailidating our thoughts and beliefs completely blows my mind. Though the theory makes total sense once you break it down, it's strange to think that any truth we firmly believe in is still an uncertain thought and concept.

You can't handle the truth

Nietzsche said truth was based off of the thoughts of the majority; if everyone thought the earth was flat then the earth was flat.  So, Nietzsche is suggesting that truth is subjective and not based off of any universal truths.  Truth, based off of this, can be changed.  It is based off of biases, cultural difference and language.  Since language can mean different things to different people, and can be construed differently, the same words can mean different things to different people.  Therefore, truth is generated by the most excepted concept.

So, if the entire world believes something absolutely crazy, it will be accepted as truth.
Like, for instance, that the earth is flat:

"What is nothing?"

In one of the slides we discussed Heidegger and how we should study what a thing is not, instead of what the thing is.  So instead of looking at an object and trying to study it we should look at nothing and ask ourselves "What is nothing?" The word nothing breaks down into two words which are no and thing.  Logic tells us that nothing is "a negation of a positive" and when people hear this they usually become nervous and afraid, because in their mind they are thinking that nothing exists then.  Nothing is what shapes what actually exists, so the real question is "why we are something and not nothing?"

This seemed very interesting and confusing to me at the same time because it got me to thinking about why humans are something and not nothing, but I was also confused by what makes something something and what makes nothing nothing.  I feel like if you are to say nothing exists then that means nothing exists, but everything is still existing it is just considered nothing instead of something.

In the novel Les Misérables, Victor Hugo contrasts universal negation with universal affirmation (aka universal truth):  "All roads are blocked to a philosophy which reduces everything to the word ‘no.’ To ‘no’ there is only one answer and that is ‘yes.’ Nihilism has no substance. There is no such thing as nothingness, and zero does not exist. Everything is something. Nothing is nothing. Man lives more by affirmation than by bread. (1862, pt. 2, bk. 7, ch. 6)."


Monday, January 28, 2013

I love my job!

Back in the day I used to have some really awful jobs. The one that sticks in my mind is the one where I worked at an amusement park. Day by day I would go to work, sit in one place for anywhere from eight to ten hours a day pushing buttons making the ride work and letting parents rip into me while I smile back and point them to customer service. I would take that malarky, sit back down on my chair and repeat my mantra, "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job." Over and over I would repeat this. My friends would say things such as, "dude, your crazy why would you love your job with that crap" or "why do you lie to yourself like that." I would reply "the more I say it, the more true it will become."

Derrida's discussion on truth by repetition is exactly the same thing that I was doing to myself while I worked there. I continued to say that phrase over and over, and it did become true. I honestly did hate the job, no, actually I loathed that job, but by the end of my term there, I loved it. I didn't want to leave that place, but the season ended. Nothing changed, I still dealt with the same circumstances, but over the repetition, the lie that I told myself became truth. So what is the real definition of truth? Is truth different for each person? Are the personal truths? Are there such things as universal truths?
If a lie can become a truth, can a truth become a lie?

Derrida, Trace

In his article Derrida uses the term "trace" which in French means imprint. When he uses it he is talking about an imperceptible imprint of the radically other that difference implies. So otherwise we can define trace as the sign that is left behind by the absent thing, all after it has passed on the scene of its former presence. So an ordinary present needs to have an ordinary trace, so that the present trace of a past which never took place is an absolute past. From this Derrida does believe that he has gained a position that is beyond absolute knowledge. Derrida says that the trace does not actually exist because its self effacing. So because the signifier are viewed as present it will contain some traces of other signifers, and so the signifier can be neither completely present nor completely absent.

Derrida and Order

         As others have commented, I find Derrida’s theory of order to be rather interesting.  Society governs many aspects of life, and as I watched a live sporting event with my brother this weekend, I witnessed this firsthand.  Over the course of the game, the broadcast was interrupted several times with silence due to foul language.  The camera would show the players on the field or doing an interview, and suddenly the audio would cut off.  This is an example of order – society deems certain words inappropriate for the viewing audience and cuts off all of the audio so that we cannot hear what they are saying (although we can usually figure it out by the movements of their lips).  Society tries to avoid reality, rather than let us hear it for what it is. 

Be, being, bing!

“We can’t study being because we’re always becoming”
If I had a dime for every time I tried to think my way out of this statement. I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to perfectly record my favorite memories but because I’m constantly caught up in creating the memories. It’s like the moment when someone tells you to put down the camera and enjoy life.
This is turning my brain into putty. How can we study anything if we have to recognize that it’s constantly changing? How does one observe something if that something is never going to be the same thing twice. This is like the philosophy class I took in my freshman year.
It also amazes me to know that our brains consciously react and deal with the fact that we have and are changing in every second. Ten minutes ago I was not the person I am not. I am a recording of acts and feelings and these feelings cannot be duplicated.
I wonder if the solution to this idea is only to accept it. If that is the solution, then what are the consequences to it.
Some reactions to these revelations:

Sunday, January 27, 2013


In one of the slides Aristotle’s law of contradiction came up. It states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. This would be a dichotomy which we talked about later in comparisons between good and evil or what is true and false.  We use this theory because we as people cannot accept that the world may be self-contradictory. His argument is basically anyone “who believes something cannot believe its contradiction.” When it comes to writing it’s about how we interpret things. For example the other day in my philosophy class my professor was talking about the Presidents Inaugural Address on the news. According to one source it was packed which was a true statement. According to another source there were not that many people there which is true in light of the fact they there were indeed less people there as opposed to four years ago. Both statements are true in a sense; however it really depends on how you look at it.

Peace, Bro

Derrida writes, in his essay, that we only know what things are because we know their opposites. We know what things are because we know what they are not. This concept is understandable when we apply it to light and darkness or heat and cold. Science itself states that "darkness" and "cold" are simply absences.

Derrida's theory becomes more difficult to understand, though, when we apply it to other things. Take for example, peace. Do we only know what peace is because we know what the absence of peace is like? Do all people define peace in the same way? Because we have different absences of peace, is the presence of peace different in our own lives? Abstract concepts like these, then, become relative (in relation to Derrida's theory). What is peace the absence of? Violence? Chaos? And to what degree do we understand violence and chaos?

Do we conclude, then, that presence only exists based upon our understanding of absences? Or is it our understanding of what we have that allows us to comprehend what might not be? Can we really ever understand what we don't have?

Here are different ways people understand the word peace (according to tumblr):

Derrida, Let's Get Real

Let’s Get Real 

What is reality? Is everyone’s reality the same? Is reality even real? These are questions which I have studied in philosophy courses, but I have yet to fully understand. When I initially read about the concepts, it seemed to be mean men getting revenge from beyond the grave by babbling about what is not “reality” and talking in circles. I could imagine them laughing at us for still reading their theories. However, they have either pulled me to the dark side or there actually is a method to their madness. Derrida purposes that signifiers get their meaning because of the differences one signifier has from other signifiers. Therefore, statements which list what signifiers are not will sometimes have more meaning than it seems. It is as though we must start with everything and then slowly narrow down the meaning through differences. This may seem pointless for some signifiers. For instance, one might be frustrated if I were to define a tree by everything it is not.  It is not a carrot, a chair, a baby, a liquid, a ball, a piano, a bush, and many other things. On the other hand, with concepts such as “reality” this seems to be the easiest way to go about defining it. It’s still frustrating and confusing, but the frustration and confusion seems a little more worth it. Nevertheless, the question remains, what is reality? I am not sure if there is a real answer. At this point all I can say is, “Reality is not radically contingent, not a play of forces without order, or a series of accidents.” 

The Concept of Metalanguage

    When thinking about the concept of language, one might ask: Is there a difference between language and metalanguage? Unlike conducting a study of an animal or food, studying language is very complex because we are constantly using words and interpreting meaning. I do not think there can be a true metalanguage because we have to talk about language to understand how it works. Derrida brings about the perspective that we have to go where language leads us. This poses a question; Can we really explain or fully understand language if it is leading us? Because we are living with language all around, we cannot really define its structure. I like the comparison to a roller coaster because while in motion, we cannot really understand its structure. The same can be said about language; especially from parole, or the "street view." Ultimately, I would define metalanguage as being unexplainable in terms of language because we cannot expect to explain a concept in which we must use that concept to determine the explaination.


Derrida- Truth by Repetition

What is considered "truth" and what is considered a "lie"? This is something society and individuals wrestles with on a daily basis. As humans, we often form our own versions of the truth as a means to make the truth look better than it really is. Should this form of truth be considered a lie? As we learned in class, Nieztche says that if something is repeated enough, it is taken as the truth. This is something that can easily be investigated when it comes to the human mind. If we tell ourselves something enough, it becomes true to us, whether it happened or not. We have the ability to go back into our memory and distort things to the point where, when compared with what actually happened, we remember a lie. So we have to come to ask ourselves, is truth by repetition really the truth??

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Derrida Response-The Concept of Order

One of Derrida's concepts that I find interesting is the idea of order. As a future teacher, I will encounter the effects of order in my own career because social control will determine which books I can and cannot teach in my classroom. Many great works of literature will be banned from the school I teach at due to potentially offensive content. In accordance to Derrida's ideas, such order will allow these great works of literature to be ignored, never giving my students an opportunity to study them and see the truths within.

Talking about the way words mean and context ....
I came across this news story today.

Man almost kicked off flight because of t-shirt

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I think, therefore I yam

Structuralism, simply put, is the arrangment of words to create meaning.
Puns are a fun way to play around with language. 
Of course English puns, are the most fun for me.

It could be a matter of word usage to convey an idea.

It could be referencing something specific, and may use an image to link the word to the meaning.

It could also be the use of punctuation to determine the meaning of an entire sentence.

pun popper

"Don't be a party popper"

"No one knew he had a dental implant, until it came out in conversation"

I guess I knew about Structuralism beforehand, but I didn't know what it was called. Of course one example that came to mind, being from the local area, was the Pittsburghese word "Buggy:"

As opposed to...

Another good example I learn was the word "Oy." We often use it to express frustration, and so we know what a person means when they say it. However, a similar sounding word in Korean means "Cucumber," therefore we have a simlar word meaning completely different things between two languages.

SiReno Mattie

Finding Meaning

Structuralism is the activity of finding meaning.

At first, words are just words-

Pandemonium in front of our eyes.
Then we organize them into meaning-at least, what they mean to us.

Monday, January 21, 2013

All others will be toad

Sometimes words will have different meanings in a different context.

This is getting out of hand

Structuralism is a very interesting thing, I had never really thought of how present it is in the English language. But the language does offer many ways to interpret certain sentences when they are taken out of context.

Then language can be used for completely different things than what they are meant to be. 

"Meaning and Interpretation"

Today, when beginning the first run of the soccer winter training packet, my friend Natalie exclaimed, "Sprint as fast as you can!" The words making up this short, yet forceful phrase are compiled together for a meaning  proven motivational through interpretation. Because words have mulitple meanings and implications, this phrase could also read:
"   as as you !"

Structuralism enables us to understand mulitple meanings, articulations, and values of a word. The meanings of a word coincide with our interpretation. For example: