Anything That Interests Me! :)





Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life is like a roll of toilet paper

Two contrasting views: life like a roll of toilet paper, or is life inherently meaningless?

My old man is now officially a gentleman of leisure, which means that my dad can finally enjoy his life entirely without bothering to work, and that he now has joined the landed aristocratic gentry. He sent me an SMS some time back saying philosophically that "life is like a roll of toilet paper; you only appreciate it when it gets to the end". That was very cute and very philosophical, and the kind of thing that Si, Sh and S love to speculate and ponder upon. Yup, you are right, we're all amateur philosophers. I actually bothered googling it and found out that the original and most common phrase is that 

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes." 

I prefer my old man's version, because gentlemen of leisure generally have more time to think and philosophise, and secondly, he is so right. And thirdly, he's been the family philosopher for a long time already.

At the same time, while appreciating life for what it is, I just watched Vanilla Sky.

I know I should be studying and not blogging, and not watching TV and not doing all sorts of other things, but my brother Shannon recommended it, so I did watch it.

The story was a psychological thriller about sex, dreams, and artificial reality with the protagonist Tom Cruise killing his girlfriend, having mistaken her for someone else, because every time he saw her, he thought of the person who tried to kill him. Very scary stuff. Won't spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it yet, and besides, since it's an old movie, you'd probably have seen it already and I'm like 7 years late. Na ja. But it's not the movie I'm talking about here, it's the philosophy bit, or the parts that aspire to be philosophical.

"What is happiness to you?" Aha, that came out of the movie.

It also came out of the philosophical mouth of my very philosophical and crazy recruit Victor when I was in the army. He asked Lieutenant See once, "Are you happy?" and it made her delirious with joy. She didn't think it was philosophy but a very charming chat up line. Perhaps. But to philosophers and philosophers wannabes like me, it makes us think.

That kind of question is near impossible to answer. What do you want, an existentialist answer? a normative answer? a Dionysian answer? a self-made self-philosophy answer? It's difficult. Philosophy, philosophy, philosophy.

And what made me think was this, in particular:

"What is happiness to you?" asked Tech Support.
"I just want to lead a real life," said Tom Cruise, in answer.

Now, that immediately makes us think of the toilet roll paper whatever philosophy. There is a real life that we can lead, it's great, and it comes to an end, so we'd better enjoy it. Without dragging Thomas Hobbes and his "life is... nasty, brutish and short" into the picture, we see that this kind of thinking is "the toilet roll thinking". It's better to live a real life and live it to the end, and appreciate it for what it is. There IS a toilet roll, and it comes to an END. I know I'm conflating a lot, but stick with it.

Then nihilism sets in... the ring tone in the movie, as well as an older post here on my Anything that Interests Me blog, is "Row, row, row your boat".

I started thinking...

1. Wouldn't we not know if we were dreaming?
2. I want to know the truth, but what if the truth is too unbearable to hear?
3. Why wouldn't it be nice to live inside a dream?
4. It wouldn't be nice to live inside a dream if it turns into a nightmare, as it did in the movie, but what about the real world? It is a nightmare, a living nightmare for many. I am one of the luckier ones.
5. Oh my God. I cannot fathom the other philosophical possibilities, which are of essence, more horrific than the ones I have just mentioned.

Now by this stage, if you have no philosophical background or no bloody interest in philosophy, Vanilla Sky, confused and esoteric thinking, you're better off going elsewhere or reading my post on Derren Brown the magician and mind reader. If you stuck to the philosophy so far, the questions I was thinking of would be those that you have considered before?

Can it be that as a working philosophy humans adopt a realist approach, and then secretly think about what if life weren't real and that it was all a dream?

Can it be that I am, or am not, the only one who thinks about "Row, row, row your boat"?

My gentleman father is interested in philosophy - but his own homespun philosophy, reminiscent of Warren Buffett and Yogi Berra. I am interested in such philosophy too, but nihilism, existentialism and an inherent agnosticism are playing havoc with my mind. Like Tricks of the Mind does.

I am going off to study now. Enough about philosophy and in with some intellectual history (which happens to involve philosophy).

I think I should be writing about Angela Funovits in my next post; she's a famous up and coming mentalist who appeared on Phenomenon and The Next Uri Geller... I believe. She added me on facebook! :) As you know, I have an abiding interest not just in philosophy but also in mentalism, magic and in Angela Funovits' case - card manipulation. Card manipulation is my latest hobby!

(... and I'm bad at it. Shoot.)

Anything that interests me!