Arrest the Best!

In this week's US News, a story, Science of the Soul by Jay Tolson garnered front page above-the-fold graniosity, so to speak.. Which was strange during such a newsy month, what with nukes in the North, Democrats charging the hill, stocks up, gas down, and my roomateNsmashCrew seriously believing that Huricane Malt Liquor is un-delicious. These are exciting times indeed!

I saw the Sience of the Soul headline complete with cosmic, time-elementally driven immagery so naturally I knew I had something to read on the patco highspeedline in to see the Sam Roberts Band open up for Ben Kweller at the electric factory... Fitting that I was reading about that which is often my most all-consuming dilemma on the way in to partake in that which is always my all-consuming sollution (which--for those of you who don't know me, and are only reading this blog because you searched the web for the name Jay tolson--is live music).

In a modest attemt to review Mr. Tolson's article, I will start by reccomending it. It was one of the most ambitious attempts at poking statement on the discussion that essentially defines our humanity to the enth degree that we can presume real meaning. Since as humans we are relationships that relates itself to itself, it's so very important to read.

Unfortunately, it might not have been best venued in U.S. News and World Report, as, just like every other essay [that I've read--prove me wrong, someone, please!] on the topic, Science of the Soul was a very thorough and grand excercise in we-don't-knowery... at the highest level. It got me alittle more excited that I needed to get, as it was alittle bit of an intellectual cock-tease to show this story on the front cover of a magazine which has "NEWS" at the very top.

Beyond that, Tolson definitely gives you some things to think about, as he updates the battle lines between human profundity and darwinister meaninglessness for the parliance of our times. Rather than recap those points and talk about how effectively he made them, I will take one of his points and extrapolate a philosophical lesson that I'm not sure he intended to teach but I was taught nonetheless.

It doesn't seem wrong to reduce everything in life to its basic elements, because when you look at matter, you start to realize that the more basic it gets, the more complex it gets, from a certain point of view. So, at the very worst, a reductionist point of view should be seen as no worse than futile or redunant. Tolson says something about quantam mechanics that really wrang out to me as a profound relation between nothing and our human 'everything'...

"Quantam mechanics has demonstrated the flux of particle and wave at subatomic levels, suggesting that the only fixity at such levels comes from the act of observing the object and arresting it at one or another stage of its being."

This is a really jacked up thing to think about... Also, for starters, since I know nothing of physics or mechanics of any kind, I'm going to make the essential American mistake and take this statement for fact simply because I read it in a magazine. I'm going to claim to KNOW this now that I read it and base important life lessons upon it. The more dilligent of you out there can do the research if you'd like and let me know, I'll be too busy cashing in my UnderArmor stock, which skyrocketed this week while I wasn't paying attention and is already halfway back down.

But, assuming what Tolson says about quantam mechanics is true... I can get a very intense life lesson from the basic particles that make up matter and seem to teach us a more eastern than roman catholic class... In a reverse-reductionist sense, we can see quantam mechanics in our lives. The American Dream (which is just a more specifically realized version of the human condition) pits us on a watergun-clown-nose game test to see how quickly we can achieve happiness, and how long we can maintain it. Everything we do in life we are doing for those 8 magical years during which our grandchildren are graduating college, after we've retired with a nest egg and before our closest loved ones or ourselves pass away (RIP Don Buck; religion is a hot dopamine enhanser which our parents install in us at birth because they know someday the love of our lives may pass away before us and they don't want that to disrupt the 8 years of bliss any more than it needs too). It's similar to dunking a chocolate chip cookie in the milk to soak up as much milk as it possibly can without collapsing of it's new density so that we can eat it as good as it's gonna be. Those 8 years are very give or take, many don't get that many (or any) and a lucky few get a good decade or two of whatever their personal paradise existence is. Rock and roll teaches us that life's a journey, not a destination, which is getting closer to taking that quantam leap into the divine combination of nothing and everything, although that point of view infers a little bit more duty to existence itself than electrons and protons probably care to assign us.

Lets take a closer look at Tolson's statement:

"Quantam mechanics has demonstrated the flux of particle and wave at subatomic levels, suggesting that the only fixity at such levels comes from the act of observing the object and arresting it at one or another stage of its being."

Do you ever wonder why old friends get off on remeniscing about the past? Because it's already happened. We can observe it. You'll notice that even old friends who did virtually nothing interesting back in the day, will still think fondly on the good old days so long as there wasn't some sort of horrible genocide occuring during the entire duration of their accquaintance. And the other thing people get really excited about... the future.. the horizon.. They look forward to it a great deal because when it's all over, it will make a sweet new version of the past. There's only one thing that humans don't seem to be able to give a shit about. That's the right now. Rock and roll purists may try to call me an idiot because rock and roll teaches us this too, but that's a moot point. Rock and roll teaches us everything... Just like books teach us everything. And teachers, and lessons... it's all about the context... but I digress!

The right now is the only thing we 'have'. And the only reason I can say that we posess it is because for the most part, it's the only area in which we can do things. Less than a month ago, I up and quit my full time job. On the surface, the reason was because the job was a huge pain in my ass. But the deeper reason was because it was better than saying, "I'm going to quit my job" and better than saying, "remember that time when I didn't have this job?" I mostly quit in order to give my life a direct injection of the now straight to the face.

I should probably get to the point before a good lot of you swear off blog-reading forever.

The point is that on the level of quantam mechanics, we are all matter and we don't REALLY know where we've been or where we're going. All we can do is observe where we are. We can observe pleasure and pain and compare it to what we observed during the last 'now'. We can use the information we've collected to, where necaserry, excecute strategies towards recreating and improving the best nows of the past during the upcoming nows. You can learn alot from the lab rat that learns to push the petal that gives him a food pellet or dopamine rush. And since we are unarguably darwinian survival machines (maybe more, maybe not), it is our duty to increase our survival advantage by enjoying the nows and sharing our love of nowing with future generations. I decided recently that I was going to get certified to teach highschool in New Jersey because that's gonna be the best now for my money, as I only have two demands of my career: 1) that it alows me to share my love of (k)nowing with the uneducated, and 2) summers off. The only thing is that I'm not sure if my GPA was high enough, so I might have some problems coming, but we'll see. In the meantime I'm on my way to go spend my day off eating, drinking, playing video games, writing music and going to see my favorite Philly-based latin-jam-funk hip hop band with my girlfriend. The difference between humans and other species is our supperior ability to define and identify the most excellent nows that are avaiable. So, just as if the events of our lives were subatomic particles that we can't indefinitely control or fix to a certain setting, observe all the moments of your life as they happen and arrest the best. Not just to your memory, and not just to your laser-sigted plans to recreate during upcoming nows, but seriously to the most important now you have. Right now.

I hope any of that made any sense.. it took me 20 minutes to spell-check that bad boy (I struggle)..

This week the following teams will be winning NFL games...

CIN over CAR
NYJ over DET
MIA over GB
JAX over HOU
NE over BUF
PHI over TB
ATL over PIT
SD over KC
DEN over CLE
ARZ over OAK
MIN over SEA
IND over WAS
NYG over DAL


j. leo said...




(doing the hink face)

I see.

(byt the way, it shouldn't be that hard to pass the teacher test... having a degree is pretty much a selling point)

Paul Tsikitas said...

If you like Quantum Mechanics and shit, rent What The Bleep Do We Know? It's a pretty cool Documentary on all that jazz. Plus check out a Brief History of Time (I've only seen the Documentary, but it was awesome). Laslty, we need to find a copy of Mindwalk. It's kind of a Dinner with Andre type deal where it's all conversations. However, you get the double dip cream dream duo of Sam Waterson who can read a phonebook and it sounds good and Mutha Effing John Heard (After Hours bartender, Kevin McAllister's Dad, etc.)

Good post. What are you, Leo?

Paul Tsikitas said...

Oh I forgot. We don't only have the now. That's what is great about life. The Now is the only thing we can actually physically touch, but the future can be determined based on the now and we can know of things to come. The book says we may be through with the past, the past ain't through with us. We never really lose the past. That's why humanity is great. We have memories, whether happy or sad. We always have them and they shape who we are in the NOW.

Dr. Ryan P. Carey, D.D.S. said...

While it's true that we also 'have the past' in a certain manner of speaking, we definitely don't have the future in the bank and the past is sometimes over-valued as real-estate instead of simply information which guids our lasers..

j. leo said...

ha ha zing!!!... you'll see that a i shortended things now... so not anymore...

way to quote bill macy in magnolia. that takes zazz.