Archive for July, 2010

What do you get…

07/29/2010

…when you take a kid and kick him enough while he’s down?

Well, dear reader, you get the author of this blog.  You get a jaded, bitter old man who’s only actually 26 who has lost faith in humanity, lost his faith in himself, and lost his way in life.  As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, I do a lot of soul searching (perhaps too much, quite honestly).  I regularly write about how things aren’t going well, and I don’t mean to appear negative (though I am) or that I’m overlooking or taking for granted the countless blessings that I have (though I do).  These are just often the thoughts that actually motivate me to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  This will be another one of those posts.  Lately, I’ve been trying to consider where I am in life and why I am the way I am.

All I’m really trying to say by writing this is that I know I have a ton of work to do.  I know that I still have a lot of work to do regarding my faith life, regarding my headspace on my world views, regarding the way I interact with people, and so much more.  I’ve got a really bizarre personality because I have some alpha tendencies but I also have more than a small inferiority complex.  I’ve got a performer’s personality – I like to perform because it’s safer to have people see what I want them to if I’m only showing them a mask of myself and I need a lot of reassurance and encouragement, which I get by performing.   I don’t always perform to get that.  Sometimes my performances are done because there’s a gap in what a group needs.  Sometimes I perform because I like to get a rise out of people, I like to make people uncomfortable, or I like to make people think by challenging what they believe (to me, there’s little worse in the world than a belief which has no defense for it).   It makes me brash and it makes me appear to be argumentative.  Most of the time I’m not challenging something just to challenge it, though, I’m challenging it to try and understand it.  I realize this rubs a lot of people the wrong way and drives a lot of people away from me in friendship and other relationships.  It’s something that ten years ago I didn’t care about because, “If you can’t deal with the way I approach things, that’s you’re problem.”  Though, on some level, I still hold a bit of that mentality, it’s something I need to work on so I AM less of a jackass (not to concede that I am…but let’s face it.  Sometimes the shoe fits).

I’ve been fighting a losing battle against becoming jaded for a while now.  I’m an idealist who, after enough failure, becomes frustrated and bitter which leads me to despair in whatever the failure is in.  It’s not healthy, but it’s who I am.  It’s what draws me to be aggressive with things I care passionately about and it’s what pushes me to become morose when things go horribly, horribly awry.  Though a lot of the time I’ll keep fighting through whatever the setback is (giving up isn’t something I’m okay with), I mostly carry on with a bitter, sarcastic, or pessimistic attitude.  Over the last few years, it’s probably something I’ve allowed to creep more out of my actions and into my thinking and every-day life.  As they say, practice virtue and you’ll be virtuous, practice vice and you’ll be a slave to vice.

Until recently, I’ve been hoping that this mental state would lead me to bottom so I could hit it, push off, and start heading to the positive again (as is my usual approach), but I don’t think I can let myself do that.

So…even though it’s going to be a long, uphill fight, and I may fight a losing battle or I may tread water, hopefully I’ll pull through.  Hopefully it will also lead to some writing or photographic concepts I can post here.  If not, and this space goes dead for a while (not that it’s ever done that before…), sorry.  Know that it’s hopefully for a better purpose and hopefully I’ll come out a better person on the other side.  If you’re the prayin’ kind, whisper a little one for me.  If you’re not, positive thoughts/whatever are also appreciated.

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WARNING: Philosophic Content Ahead

07/19/2010

Yes…this warning is serious.  I’m about to show how big a dork I am by linking  three different schools: advanced physics, philosophy, and economics.  If you haven’t already fallen asleep and you’re dumb brave enough to carry on, consider yourself warned.  This post is also inspired by the belief that one of the worst things to happen to humanity was the Enlightenment.  Though yes, I realize there has been a large amount of good coming from that, there has also been a large amount of damage which is best summed up, in my estimation, in the need to separate reason from belief.*  This study is by no means intended to be exhaustive, but is more a thought exercise for myself and hopefully is interesting to you.  If not, skip it and come back another day when I have the pretty pictures up.

Please note also, dear reader, that this was written in the wake of a conversation regarding atheists not being preachy (which, I have found, is often not the case.  In my experience, many atheists are just as preachy as the annoying Christians they typically complain of for this behavior).  I have my own dissertation on believers’ conversations with non-believers.

Preface

This isn’t really being written to persuade one to believe in divinity – either specific or general.  It’s also not written to persuade one to become an atheist.  I’m writing this more to hopefully bring a bit more civility to the discussion between believers and atheists, which, in my recent encounters, are lacking.

Let us begin by assuming that you are unwilling to believe anything that cannot be proven by science.  Granted, in this case, I’m going to use the actual definition of that phrase and not let people skate by with the definition that is often thrown around – that there are “laws” of science that are immutable.  There are only observed incidents for which we know the outcome, and through repetition of the experiments with the same outcome, we reason that the end result of future such endeavors will yield the same results.  However, a scientist will admit that it is possible (though improbable) that one could jump and gravity not apply.  First when we get into advanced physics (a subject which, no, I am not one of the five people on the face of the planet who actually understand what’s going on because I’ve never taken Calc 8 or Differential EQ, but I’ve read a fair bit of the dumbed down versions) there is no real certainty.  This brings us to Chapter 1.

Chapter 1

Let us consider Erwin Schroedinger (sorry for the “oe” rather than the umlaut…I don’t know how to get special characters…in German, it’s the same anyway…leave me alone) and his Uncertainty Principle.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, if you place a cat in a box with an irradiated sample with enough RADs to kill it.  Schroedinger concludes that until we open the box after beginning the experiment, we cannot say with certainty that the cat is in fact dead, even though we have every reason to believe that it is.  If, as previously stated, we have dismissed all knowledge which we cannot scientifically know, and a scientist (and he’s not the only one to have said this…check out the uncertainty principle…it’s amazing) has basically said this at great length, which admittedly I am not doing justice, we must take it under advisement.

Chapter 2

Let us now consider a concept proffered by Blaise Pascal regarding belief in divinity (in his case, the Judeo-Catholic God).  The summary of his approach can be summarized as follows.  Let us draw a payoff matrix (part one of where Econ comes into this).  Let’s assume that across the top we have, “Believe in God,” and, “Do Not Believe in God.”  Down the left-hand side, we’ll fill in, “God Exists,” and, “God Does Not Exist.”  In the upper left corner of the interior boxes, we can fill in “Go to heaven,” because if you believe in God and He*** exists, it’s only natural (especially in Christian theology) that you’ll be rewarded.  In the lower left corner, fill in, “Lose nothing,” or, if you’re a tither and someone who would actually participate in what Christianity would classify as sin, feel free to write those in (it is, after all, technically an opportunity cost…I’m just not convinced that without a religious moral code, most people would actually try to become Nietzche’s over-man (a concept with which you’ll have to familiarize yourself with because I’m not going to take the time to explain it in context of this article…though don’t rule it out for future ones).  In the lower right corner, write “Gain nothing,” or if you would participate in the sins of Christianity if you did not believe in God, go ahead and write those as gains.  In the upper right-hand corner, write, “Go to Hell.”  Now, again, the payoffs for the top row are only good in Christianity, but you can easily substitute whatever goods there are from other faiths (off the top of my head, Enlightenment and moving down the reincarnation chain for Buddhists, a heaven-like existence for Muslims, etc.).

Conclusions

Again, the purpose of this is not to convince you of one square within the payoff matrix (quite frankly, if the past 4 billion years of human history and many of the greatest minds within that history cannot bring all of humanity to one understanding of the possibility of the eternal – or even its existence – what chance do I have?).  The purpose of this article is simply to ask for a return to respect between the two camps (yes…there are more than two, but big groups are easier to work with) in their discussions with one another.  Ultimately, you can’t criticize anyone for their belief or disbelief from an, “I only believe what can be scientifically proven,” standpoint, because, again, first of all, nothing can be proven, and second, what it really comes down to is an individual’s risk aversion factor – how willing an individual is to either engage in or attempt to avoid risk (and you thought I’d forgotten to bring the Economics into this discussion).

*If you feel that this is, in fact, necessary, may I point you toward Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and one T. Aquinas.

I don’t know whether I expect this post to create a hailstorm of responses or if most of you will have had the sense to heed the warning at the top.  I’m interested either way.

…I find this city alive.

07/08/2010

I suffer from insomnia.  Blah blah blah.  I feel that to some extent I’m losing some creativity in my writing and that this is unfortunately becoming more of a space for me to write random updates of my life rather than post photography or writing – this blog’s original intent.  Anyway, I’ve got way too much running through my head right now to really sift through it all and certainly far too much to sleep.  It also doesn’t help that it’s sweltering – even about nine hours and fifteen minutes after the sun went down (I was going to shoot the sunset but then I decided to be lazy instead – though I’ve pre-scouted my location for the weekend).  I realize the upper 80s isn’t that bad, but when you don’t have air conditioning and the humidity is stupid, it is.  So rather than just lay in bed sweating and overthinking everything as is my usual, I figured I’d get out and shoot.  Here’s what I came up with:

Great Falls Expedition

07/06/2010

So one of my favorite photos have come out of Great Falls, both the Maryland and the Virginia sides.  I love going there and rock scrambling/climbing (what I did this last time qualified as climbing without ropes as a fair bit of it was sheer vertical) and just enjoying nature.  I’ve come to realize over the past while that I really need to stop taking my camera with me, though, because I’m becoming complacent shooting there.  I still get great pictures, and every time you go, the scenery’s slightly different (sometimes there are kayakers, helicopters, etc.), and of course there’s always new wildlife to stalk, but I really need to start pushing myself as a photographer.  I’m beginning to think that I might buy a couple local maps and start randomly picking locations that I have to shoot just to force myself to branch out.  That being said, here are some of my most recent (and probably last, for a while at least) pictures from Great Falls, MD.

So yeah…hopefully these pics are enough to compensate for the fact that my last several posts have had little/nothing to do with photography.  Also, if any of you have suggestions for possible photo subjects, you should post them.  First one to make a “your mom” joke loses.