Thursday, July 28, 2011
Perhaps what fascinates me most about Vanessa Carlton's song "I Don't Want to Be a Bride" is the idea of "want" itself. Do people "want" to be married? Statistics show that 80% of people marry at least once by age 40. And on average, women tend to marry at a younger age than men. Averages and statistics do not address the issue of "want," however.
Marriage is a social institution designed to regulate a biological drive. That doesn't sound very sexy, but that's what it is, and to deny the social pressure to marry, or to deny the biological drive to pair and mate is to overlook a fundamental reality.
In other words, to suggest that people "want" to marry is incorrect. People marry simply because it's a societal expectation and/or because they are driven to marry, in part, by biology. With regard to marriage, it seems that the only real way to utilize free agency would be to reject marriage all-together.
Disclaimer: my wife and I married in our 20s; we're still married, and we have one child. Being married isn't "bad" in and of itself, but to argue that anyone is completely "free" in the process of deciding to marry is highly flawed.
To what extent is free-will an illusion?
"A man can do what he wants but not want what he wants." -- Arthur Schopenhauer
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
In 1997, Kevin called me. The call was unexpected, as I hadn't seen nor heard from him in six years. I don't recall that we talked for long; he was just checking in because he had had a dream, and in this dream, I died. His call was just to make sure I wasn't dead.
Although we have since become friends on facebook, I don't think Kevin has ever posted anything to my wall, and we've never exchanged emails. I'm not expecting another phone call anytime soon, either, as it's been fourteen years now since the last one.
And then last night, he was in a dream of mine. In my dream, he didn't die. Instead, we were at the Mattoon, Illinois, Amtrack station, except it looked and felt more like Dante's Inferno. First class patrons used the train above ground, but the station had nine lower stations below ground. Kevin and I had first class tickets, but I couldn't find him anywhere. I went from station to station, all the way down to the lowest-level .
In the ninth station, filth (and worse) covered the walls, and there was just enough light from the trash-can fires to see through the smoke and into the cavernous shadows. The heat was almost unbearable, and the poor folks using this station looked virtually dead. Kevin wasn't anywhere to be found in any of the stations below ground, and I quickly made my way back home. The stench of my below-ground search stayed with me, and I finally received word from Kevin's dad. When Kevin couldn't find me in the above-ground station, he had decided to go home without looking in the stations below. He was safe and had been asleep in his own bed for hours.
So, what do you think: Is this dream worth the trouble of giving Kevin a courtesy call?
"If you're going through hell, keep going." -- Winston Churchill
Monday, July 25, 2011
Addiction is one of those funny words that has fallen into imprecise, general usage. Can someone really be addicted to Cheetos, for example? But when we are questioned about eating the whole bag, we might excuse our gluttony by saying, "These things are so addictive!"
Granted, addictions are real, but what is the difference between an addiction and a lack of willpower? And, are all "addictions" necessarily negative? I have a passion for reading and travel and writing, but could I ever be addicted to these things?
What about people? Can we be addicted to people? Does such a concept even make sense?
I guess the overuse of the term bothers me, because it removes individual control, while at the same time apologizing for conduct that might be viewed as wrong by others.
This weekend, I came home to find my white cat with an orange face. Apparently she likes Cheetos, too, but she never claimed to be addicted to them.
What are your addictions?
"Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left the town." -- George Carlin