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A second rushed attempt at free will

Posted 10 April 2003, 9.45 pm by Winter

For a creature to possess free will it must be able to see alternatives and choose to act based upon its own judgment. If this judgment were arrived at via a universal rationality it could not be considered free will because it would not reflect the ability to make a choice, only the ability to see the most rational answer. If this judgment were arrived at without any sort of universal rationality being used (assuming that universal rationality still exists and that we can ‘choose’ not to make use of it) it could not be true that a choice was made, only that an option was selected at random.

As far as being able to ‘choose’ not to make use of rationality: This choice cannot be arrived at rationally because it would require the rational rejection of rationality, while rationality argues for itself.

If we do not assume that rationality is immutable and concrete, then any choice that we make may be in accord with rationality, but seem not to be so in retrospection or from an outside source. Beyond this, any sort of social factor within a causal or deterministic world eliminates beyond a doubt the possibility of making a choice “for one’s self.”

Free will seems to be an impossibility, something that cannot happen in any sort of a world. This leaves us in a world where all of our actions and feelings are not our own, but are the property of history or unassailable chance. Who we are and that we think and sense are either chance happenings or inevitable. If this is depressing, it couldn’t be any other way, or it could but it doesn’t matter because it is and we can’t choose to think any other way. If it doesn’t affect us, it’s because we cannot be affected beyond the narrow scope of necessity or chaos. Either choice results in simply going through the motions of life in the hopes that we’re wrong or living in imposed ignorance, fearful of the madness of the real.

A rushed attempt at 'Free Will'

Posted 9 April 2003, 10.06 pm by Winter

The problem with free will is that the phrase itself is one that seems to have meaning, but on closer examination is found to have none. I will take it to mean self determination. Self determination requires the rejection of rationality. Rationality leads all actions from reflection to the same end (under the enlightened meaning of ‘rationality,’ though I’m unaware of any others), all things being equal. So you’re not acting because of any sort of self-determination but because rationality, a universal judgment, says to. The ability to act irrationally then? That has to be arrived at rationally, else it’s just acting at random, not acting via ‘free will’. Does it mean acting in a way that can’t be predetermined? How could that be verified (though it’s probably our best bet, or something close to it, a la Deterministic Chaos)? If it can’t be verified, we can at least see what the results would be. Acting in a way that isn’t predetermined would be saying something that could not be expected, that conflicted with rationality but was in accord with it. This would require that the project of Modernity is fundamentally flawed and that the Postmoderns are right when they reject the possibility of universality and insist that consensus is impossible due to social factors and chemical, biological and linguistic imbalances.

Rejecting free will does not mean acceptance of destiny. A Deterministic world view need not be accepted. The future isn’t mapped out, but we can’t do anything about it. We can’t plan because we don’t have the capacity for real planning (re: Stalin and such), ‘rationality’ disagrees with the world and acting irrationally disagrees with any attempt to plan beyond the act. We’re paralyzed and free, tied down and fucked (depending on you’re inclinations and the usage you see in their ambiguity, those can be bad or good). We don’t have any room to move but the future’s wide open. In this we can be voyeurs and decedents, watching life and acting like later-day Epicureans (Death is inevitable, don’t bog yourself down with misery but make merry as best you can) or we can be the thinking Dandy, Lucretius’ Epicurean (The god’s care not for man, existence is an accident, think and live as best you can).

Of course, chaos is another alternative to a Deterministic world-view. Everything is simply an accident, the right chemical and physical properties and components became arranged in a brief moment that resulted in everything I sense and remember and in another moment it will all fall apart. This only seems unlikely because of a history we believe we remember and any theory that explains that history as a momentary accident of chaos supersedes this ostensible objection, and, really, any sort of objection. But I’m still here so I might as well consider other things while I am, as nothing else seems to hold my mind as I wait for destruction.

Deterministic Chaos says that the rules of physics and chemistry and other high, new sciences apply only generally. If you know that hitting a billiard’s ball at a certain angle with a certain force will result in the ball moving in a straight line to a particular place, assuming no interruptions then you also know that if you hit the same ball with ten times as much force it will travel ten times as far. In practice, according the Deterministic Chaos, this is only approximately correct. The result of the theory does not map directly to the experiment, but only matches it very closely. The ball almost travels ten times as far, but not quiet or too much so, the rules of physics are wobbly. While this does not seem to allow for free will, it does explain variance in cognition and memory among other things, such as something being rational and ‘irrational’ or for reflection to lead to two different ends or acting in a way that can’t be predetermined, however you wish to argue it.

Of course, just because Determinism isn’t a ‘fun’ theory for those who like to think we’re conscious, rational beings able to think for themselves doesn’t mean we should just reject it. So our actions are pre-determined and we can’t do anything outside of the expected. What does that change? Any action we attempt is doomed to fail or succeed, but so is not acting because we’re depressed over this fact. Action for the sake of action (what is a ‘sake’ anyway?) is denied because of our lack of choices. We can still do what we think we feel like doing, knowing that no matter what we feel and think, it’s as unalterable as the past happens to be. Though the ill-fated “Do what you feel like” day celebrated by the city of Springfield several years ago should be kept in mind.

Like a Hand In A Velvet Glove

Posted 8 April 2003, 9.57 am by The_Roach

I think about sex a lot. I think it's my right as a man to do such a thing and suspect that it doesn't cross my mind any more than Jow Blow next door. Regardless, I can't remember an hour of my life in which fantasies haven't dislodged something else fluttering about in my mind. The caress of a woman. The feel of her body heat combining with my own thermal release. Sweat. Passion.

Empires have risen and crumbled because of our obsession with pleasures of the flesh. Our weaknesses are scattered throughout the stories of the ages. Paris and Helen. Romeo and Juliet. They reflect what we hope to achieve. They demonstrate the darkest truth of our nature.

Religion would tell us that thoughts such as those I entertain on a constant basis are unhealthy. Zen Bhuddism teaches that to have desire is to be imperfect, flawed, and that desire will ultimately prevent us from achieving perfection, possibly even destroy us. Catholics will say such thoughts are impure and go against God's way, that the purity of love is tainted by desire.

Of course, where the latter is concerned, an argument springs up: If God didn't want us to fornicate, why did he make it feel so good?

It's only now, tonight, that I came to the realization as to why that argument is so flawed. We ate from the Tree of Knowledge because how dare He tell us what we should and should not know. We want fast cars, 500 channels and opportunity to stroke our egos. No, God didn't make sex pleasurable because he wanted us to do it at every available opportunity.

He did it so we'd do it at all.

The Family Dog

Posted 8 April 2003, 2.18 am by Alexa

My family is obsessed with the dog, and that's putting it lightly. From an outsider looking in, we look like our entire existance revolves around the dog! He's a fat little black Scottie with an under bite and a bunch of strange quarks.

During the summer, here in Arizona, it can get pretty hot, way up the in hundreds. My dog, Loki, likes to jump down onto the first step of the pool, and dig. Just dig like mad, as hard as he can, for hours. Then, he hops out, see's how much water he has knocked out, and jumps back in and keeps digging. He plays with empty cardboard boxes, too. Whenever we finish a carton of sodas we give him the box they came in. And he tears that mother fucker to shreds! Sometimes he'll open up the pantry, drag out a FULL box and attempt to play with that. Or, if there are no boxes, he'll go right for the tupper ware.

I have a point here, just stay with me for a moment. My best friends dad told me that animals have no personality. They can not make desisions and that they are not self aware. My dog is self aware. He KNOWS he is the dog. He knows he gets fed table scraps after we eat because he is the dog. He knows he has to go outside to take a shit and he knows he will never be as tall as us, or drive, or ever get his nuts back.

He has a personality too, damnit! He has a rubber chicken that is his favorite. And no matter where he is, if you ask him to find it, he knows where it is. Granted he isn't a genius, but he has a personality. I know we like to think that we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around US, but the only real leads we have are opposable thumbs and vocal chords.

Road to Perdition

Posted 3 April 2003, 5.02 am by Jake

I rented this movie, expecting a sub-par, cut-and-dried Hollywood piece of garbage. The only redeeming factor seemed to be its origin. Seeing as how Road to Perdition originated as a graphic novel, I was afraid that this would turn out to be another disappointing comic movie. You can safely say that I approached this one with a bit of caution and boatloads of pessimism.

I’m glad to say that my expectations…well, they received a hearty kick in the nuts and were shoved away to somewhere special. This film is yet another excellent tour-de-force from director Sam Mendes (American Beauty). The cinematography is lush and expansive as well as gritty and constricted, depending on the mood of the scene. The score flows along nicely with the movie, switching from dark, ominous orchestral pieces to light jazz bits as if it were nobody’s business. But it is somebody’s business, you see.

Business is what Tom Hanks is all about in this one. He plays as Michael Sullivan, a moody and relatively quiet hitman whose world is rocked within the first 30 minutes of the film, and who is thrust into a new situation with new responsibilities. One of these responsibilities being his twelve year-old son, Michael Jr., who eventually discovers that his father’s profession is nothing as it seemed. The vagueness of his father’s confidant (and foster father) John Rooney (Paul Newman) is stripped away, revealing Rooney to be an aging crime boss with a strong sense of solidarity with the men that he employs. But that solidarity doesn’t even last long, thanks to some complications between Sullivan and Rooney’s son, Connor (Daniel Craig). These complications lead to the aforementioned world-rocking that Sullivan and his son must plunge through in order to save themselves and get revenge… Jude Law plays an especially disturbing role as Maguire, a photographer who moonlights as a gun-toting hitman on the search for Sullivan and his son. The performances of each of the actors are what give this movie its edge, and there are some genuine, powerful moments that may have fallen idle at the hands of any other group.

The premise of the story is great, putting emphasis on character development while throwing the characters through a relatively diverse set of situations, ranging from light-hearted (the ‘learning to drive’ scenario) to somewhat disturbing (Michael’s grim discovery of the truth behind his father’s profession). I would have liked to have seen the plot to be a bit more drawn out in places, and that seems to be its only shortcoming in my eyes. There are several surprises during the movie, and the plot twists are powerful, wrenching and contorting Sullivan and his son into quite a few different quandaries.

Aside from its (minute) flaws, it's a smooth film with some qualified veteran actors. I was slightly disappointed with Paul Newman towards the end. Although he does a convincing job of portraying a man torn between his biological and his adopted son, he seemed to start out strong and sort of fade out...however, that could have a good bit to do with characterization as far as the story is concerned.

If you’re looking for an atmospheric drama with some strong performances and an excellent storyline, go get Road to Perdition. And you’d better not regret it, or I’ll load up the boys and we’ll come over for a little “friendly chat”. Now excuse me while I go find a kick-ass Tommy gun.

And now for something Completely Different!

Posted 2 April 2003, 5.25 am by Assassin13

For anyone who is a little bored and has nothing better to do. I really got a kick out of this one.



She's Come Undone

Posted 2 April 2003, 3.24 am by Alexa

'She's Come Undone' is almost a self help book. It really makes you feel a little less pathetic. It's an 'Oprah Book Club' book, but don't let that discourage you! As sad as it is, and as long as it is, it really is a fast read. The story plot is a womans journey through life. Sex, drugs, rape, gay/lesbian relationships, hippies, and rock and roll. The author is Wally Lamb, and for a man, he can describe certain points in a womans life perfectly. I liked it a lot. At one point I actually cried. The first time, I might add, that a book has made me cry since 'Where the Red Fern Grows'. Classic. Or as Roach would say "Fucking epic"


Posted 1 April 2003, 3.23 pm by Shaggy

I point and say the word. Everyone agrees, nod their heads, and repeat the word. A stone has been named "Stone" and all have agreed.

I take her palm. I should not be doing this, she is not the woman I love, but I do it anyway. I touch her palm with the tips of my finger, and tell her that the tinglie feeling she has is, that feeling of skin on skin, is what I want to represent with words.

I wonder if anyone has felt the same way I do. Confused, and longing for connection, I wonder if anyone else has thought to themselves "the greatest connection is the sensual; what you can touch, taste, feel, et alia, this is what humans were made for. We are companions to each other, and that is the purpose that we so strive for."

I am sure my thoughts, however, require a great deal of leisure. I am positive, after all, that those in Iraq, whether American or of the soil, do not feel the same way. Connection with a bullet is no connection at all.

I write the woman I love a poem. It reminds me that, while I can lust for another, while I can feel that I am connecting in a way tantamount to love with another, I cannot take her for granted. She is the True love, the first, the alpha and the omega, and I love her truly. The other, the girl whose palm I touched, is a connection, yes, but a connection of a different sort, no less important, of the same potential, but not of the same game. Only one person, after all, can own my body, mind, and soul. After that, the soul is simply diluted.

Who knows what damage I have done to my soul for the temptation? Yet, I know now that it was a justifiable one. The outside world is a strange and treacherous journey. I do not connect easy. I am not made of the same thoughts as anyone else: I am my own, separate world.

I think someone wrote a song once about what happens when worlds collide...

I think I have lost the connection I once had with the girl whose palm I touched. It feels bad, granted... but somehow, it was to be expected. There can only be one connection outside of language that I truly and honestly have: the love that exists between myself and my girlfriend.

I can admit it, but I do not have to like it. That is why, when I return home, I sit, think, and write... I have written a thousand stars, and I will write a thousand more, until the sky is filled, and people can look up and say: My, but I wish I could connect with the sky above my head!

Perhaps they even might connect with me.

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Doggybag/baggy_dog is an artist living and working in Barga, Italy. Click here to read about this piece in his own words.

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80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?


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