A quote on love

I’m a bit too busy today to write a full post, so I figured I’d leave a quote I’ve been thinking about regarding love, especially with Valentine’s Day earlier this week. symbiosis-oxEnjoy.

A Tibetan mystic saying goes: We are here to realize the illusion of our separateness. The spiritual sentiment has a biological cognate. Our xenotropic drive — to merge with what is not us, temporarily in sex, or permanently in symbiosis or cross-species hybrids — is more than a metaphor. But it also offers spiritual solace. When we hook up with another, in sex or love (or, more rarely, both) we prove that our isolation is not permanent. In the fullness of time, we may all be linked. In the meantime, eros brings us together, making us more than we are alone. Cupid’s arrow, quivering into the heart of loneliness, kills us even as it sets us free.

-Dorian Sagan, in Death and Sex

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Kant and Camus: The is and the ought

Last year I was reading the giving The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to my nephew,

German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

around five at the time. In the book, a tree sacrifices everything for a particular boy who gradually grows into into an old man. First simple things, like leaves, but by the conclusion, the tree is a stump with nothing left to give.

I closed the book, just like my dad did when I was a kid. “Believe it or not,” I said. Henry snuggled next to me with Eddy the Elephant and closed his eyes. The house was quiet, his brothers asleep in bed, his parents downstairs. Then, in the most innocent voice—as if he were asking for a cookie—he asked, “Why do people die?”

“I don’t know,” I said. It hurt to say it, but I couldn’t lie.

And I don’t think I’ll ever know. I may be able to craft a very elegant “I don’t know,” but in the end, that’s all it will be.

Continue reading “Kant and Camus: The is and the ought”

Labels

Labels are insidious. I imagine them slipping around like lampreys and aphids, Sticky_note_sleepingnotching their toothless jaws to us. They slip into conversation, into thought, and spatter the world like sticky notes, categorizing, separating, allocating, and organizing. We can pry them loose, but they always seem to slip back and latch on again. They’re often at the foundation of how we operate, whether we’re aware of them or not.

One of my favorite–albeit “sketchy”–pastimes is to sit in a crowded place, especially on a college campus, and look at how people naturally sort themselves, fitting into tidy categories

The “jocks,” with short, blond hair, fit physiques, and exercise clothes sit together. So does the alternative crowd, people like “hipsters,” with quirky sweaters, weathered jeans, and sunglasses, or the lingering pockets of “goth” and “emo”culture.

The pre-med students group together, and the theater folk unite. The church-going flock together, filling the same long tables at meals with persistent regularity.

People separate and and sort by age, majors, music tastes, geographic locations– anything to segment and define–and looking at them, I, too, block people together under labels.

I often wonder where the label ends and the person begins.

Continue reading “Labels”