humor, language, philosophy, photography

Don’t Sweat the Meaning of Life

Your life and mine are not arbitrary symbols used by a third party to communicate with a fourth party.  Don’t let sweating “the meaning of life” interfere with living.
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While pondering “the meaning of food” is rare, pondering “the meaning of life” is common.  Deservedly?  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

§1: Colors

Meanings are tricky.  Colors provide a simpler way to explore some of the relevant ideas.

§1.1: What Color is the Number Six?

The question heading this subsection is nonsense.  Many different kinds of thing have colors, but numbers don’t.  Making sense is harder than just having sensible-looking syntax.

One of the ways that philosophy made substantial progress in the past century was the realization that some “deep” questions could be as nonsensical as the one heading of this subsection.  Determining which ones are really deep will take a while.  Nonsensical questions may sometimes be failed attempts to pose serious questions that would be more tractable with better wording, so some nonsense may deserve more sympathy than the heading of this subsection.

§1.2: What Color is the US Flag?

Flags do have colors, but the question heading this subsection is still nonsense.  The US flag is red, white, and blue.  While mostly red, the Chinese flag also has some yellow.  How many nations have flags of just one color?

Nobody is silly enough to speak of “the” color of a nation’s flag, but people often do fall into the trap of speaking of “the” thingamajig when there are in fact several relevant thingamajigs.  I posted 4 varied examples (and there are many more).

It does make sense to say that white is the color of the stars in the US flag, that green is the color of the fake foliage in my Xmas wreath, and so on.  But look at the ribbon on my wreath:

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The color I see at any place on the ribbon is intricately context-dependent.  Where is the light coming from?  Where am I standing?  While the solid red ribbons on other wreaths are easier to describe, my iridescent ribbon is prettier to see.

§2: Words

Mole

© tunedin123 | 123RF Stock Photo
(Image has been cropped.)

The word mole has utterly different meanings in chemistry, dermatology, and espionage.  Even if we suppose it makes sense to attribute a meaning to life, pondering “the” meaning of life may still be like pondering “the” color of the US flag, “the” color of an iridescent ribbon, or “the” meaning of mole.

Like mathematical notations (and many hand gestures), words are arbitrary symbols with enough consensus about what they mean to support use in communication.  Who uses life to say what to whom?

I posted 4 imagined responses by an old Yankee to a novice philosopher’s bloviations; one of the responses is

Wehrds need meanings; life don’t.

§3: How to Live

Your life and mine are not arbitrary symbols used by a third party to communicate with a fourth party.  Maybe some concerns about “the meaning of life” are poorly worded concerns about how to live.  Preferring the workable to the grandiose, I go with a simple short list:

  • Try to have some fun.
  • Try to do more good than harm.
  • Don’t sweat “the meaning” of it all.
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flowers, haiku, humor, love, philosophy, photography

Gift of Silence

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Words ~ Pic and a Word Challenge

As Susie left home to start a new life with Dale, her mother watched and wondered.  Would the mixed marriage work?

Aware that sharing her worries would be unwelcome and unheeded, Mama let her words of warning remain unspoken and unheard.

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Wisely,  Mama kept silent despite having words to say.  Unwisely, some people run afoul of Wittgenstein’s Laws by breaking silence despite not having any sensible words to say.

Memo to Mystics
|Unless you can grab
|bubbles, you cannot put your
|wisdom into words.

soap-bubbles

haiku, humor, photography

Are U Lookin’ At Me?

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Farm Animals

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No, this cow did not lose an argument with a bucket of white paint.  Belted Galway cattle are bright white in the middle, with either brown or black fore and aft.  The white is usually in a neat band, much like the rust-colored band on a woolly bear caterpillar.  Maybe this cow’s sloppy band comes from too much time in a certain pub.

What the World Needs
|More silliness from
|those who know they are silly;
|less from the others.

flowers, music, photography

Visual Rondo

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close Up or Macro

In music, a rondo is a piece with successive segments that go A-B-A-C-A-D…-A, where contrasting segments B, C, D, … are bracketed by repetitions of A that may vary slightly.  Let’s arrange some colorful closeups like a rondo that goes

A-B1-A-C-A-D-A-E-A-B2-A.

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fiction, humor, photography

Wondrous Weirdness — Why Am I Here?

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The subtitle is a rhetorical question, not an ancient conundrum.  Nearly all of the prose I read or write is nonfiction.  Why am I posting (for the third and final time) about a book of weird stories rather than about something in the endlessly fascinating Real World?

The tweetable answer begs the question.  Sure, I wrote one of the 35 stories.  (Click here to see blurbs for some of them.)  But why did I get involved in a substantial fiction project?  The answer is some nonfiction weirdness.

The call for submissions grabbed me in 2 ways:

  • Contributors could opt (as many indeed would) to have their shares of any royalties donated to the Against Malaria Foundation.
  • While weird things are often disturbing (when not merely weird), the call was emphatic about the possibility of being weird and funny (or even weird and funny and disturbing, all at once).

Hmmm.  Could some of the stories in this anthology be simultaneously weird and funny and thought-provoking?  Could they be a little like some of the best surrealist paintings?  The following photo doubles down on the idea behind a great painting by René Magritte:

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Seduced by the call for submissions, I took up the challenge of revising a fragment of weird fiction from a discussion of several poems (and comments) that involved various people, so as make a standalone short story that would be broader and even weirder.  After another revision in light of helpful comments from one of the editors (Atthys Gage), I believe that my story is good as well as weird.  It is also just 2 pages long, so even those who dislike it may still be glad they bought The Rabbit Hole for $2.99 as an e-book or $12.50 as an ink-on-paper book.

Do U have 0.5% of your Amazon purchases donated to a charity by Amazon Smile?  Thru 2018-11-02, the percentage will be 5% instead.

BTW, gecko lizards really can climb straight up hard, smooth walls.  Weird.  But they don’t speak with an Australian accent or tout insurance.  Not in this universe, anyway.

Providing a brief writer’s bio for the anthology prompted me to revise this blog’s grossly outdated About page.  The revised page has a new joke, a few links, and a nice photo.  A nice photo of me would be really weird, so the photo is of something else appropriate.

My other short forays into fiction are also weird.  Both are about an ancient Greek (but written in modern English): Plato watches baseball and copes with a hangover.

humor, philosophy, photography

Novice Philosopher Meets Old Yankee

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The novice bloviates.  Maybe people he has not met yet will try to set him straight.  They might say pretty much what the Yankee says, while making the points in ways that are gentler, longer, and subtler.  But not as funny.

… Why are we here? …

‘Cuz wer nawt theyah.

… What is the meaning of life? …

Wehrds need meanings; life don’t.

What happens when an irrestible force meets an immovable object?

We lehrn who was lyin’: the fellah sellin’ a fawhrs or the fellah sellin’ an awbject.
Hmmm.  Coulda been both.

Certainty is not exclusive to math and logic.
For example, no squirrel can get past the baffle on my bird feeder.

Ehyah??

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(reblog), haiku, photography

Pastel Synergy

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This post ends with 2 haiku, each inspired by a photo of clouds imitating clams.  I took the calm photo; Sue Ranscht took the dramatic one.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pastel Colors

Tho I usually prefer deeply saturated colors, I love the pastel pink and green sometimes seen in a cloud, when the angles are just right in the triangle formed by the cloud and the sun and the viewer.  At my latitude, it is a rare sight.  I have had just one chance to photograph the elusive synergy of pastel pink and green:

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Dramatic photos of pink and green in clouds can be seen by searching online for

[mother-of-pearl clouds] or [nacreous clouds].

There is also the marvel by Sue Ranscht that appears below.  Fair warning: the image credit links to a post in a series, with a striking image for each episode in a fantasy epic.  The series is so addictive that it hooked me despite my aversion to fantasies and impatience with epics.

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© Sue Ranscht | Space, Time, and Raspberries

Clams in the Clouds #1
|Serene clouds
|give mother-of-pearl
|to old eyes.
Clams in the Clouds #2
|Molten pewter clouds:
|some are tinted pink or green.
|Abalone shell.