Beyond Reason


The Inverse Proportion Between Mountain Climbers and Writers

Posted in Writing/Reading by Abigail on March 22, 2009

Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.
– Thomas Berger

Green Tea

Posted in Personal by Abigail on March 7, 2009

I have been informed that if you drink 2 cups of green tea a day, you won’t get sick. So I’m going to try this. And will report back in 2 years.

Word of the Day: obfuscate – to bewilder with extraneous information.
The problem with this word is that it’s difficult to pronounce… which makes it like what it is.

Speaking of bewilder, could that word be related to “wilderness”?

And why no posts till now?! Well, my previous posts did not meet “the standard” (an ever-fluctuating thing) so they remain, lonely and unobserved, on my hard drive.

Einstein and Other Things

Posted in Personal by Abigail on October 31, 2008

I am reading “Einstein, His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson and for the first time in my life have an extremely small understanding of quantum physics and the theory or relativity. And of Einstein, who is one heck of a personality. Literary. Poetic. Deeply philosophical. Entertaining to the last drop. I’m really shocked with the man himself. Are there are other scientests out there like this? ‘Cause I want to meet them. All of them.

More to come… when the book’s actually finished.

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I have pulled all the muscles in my lower (playing tennis). Now, life is sans-tennis and several shades less intereting. For the record, back muscles are the last muscles you should ever pull because you use them for everything. I didn’t know this. I am now pathetic. There is no bounce in my gait. That hurts. Blowing my nose hurts (did you know there’s a muscle in your lower back tied to your nose? there is!). I don’t “get” out of bed – I roll out of bed, carefully, on my side, then sit up, then stand. Like your Granmda. I actually limp around the office. Why? Sitting for a long time gets those muscles mad all over again… and I am pathetic once again.

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I should state that there have been no posts because my new house lacks an Internet connection. But what a sad time not to post! An election is coming. I could have pontificated on matters I know even less than previous the ones! This will be fixed. Soon. And I will return to the usual blather.

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Warning: Blather starting a bit early.

So here’s the latest thought. Are you truly asking a question if you will only take one answer? Perhaps two? Let’s make this more specific: are you really asking a question if you already know the answer? Obviously no. But this causes a problem. If you don’t already know what the answer is, how are you ever going to find it? And if you do already know the answer, then you’re not really asking a question. A fair question, it seems, can never be asked, or answered.

I suppose this is my own way of stating the “problem of problems”.

A corollary – and this is really where I’ve been going with this – how can I be dedicated and yet question? Isn’t the definition of questioning that which challenges? If I am challenging – and I mean it – then I’m clearly not dedicated. I have no answer. I do think you can ask too many questions and I’ve certainly passed that limit several times before.

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Tying the noose around my neck – one last prediction to sink my credibility: I predict, for fun, solely because I can, that Obama will the presidency by a surprisingly small margin.

We shall see.

He’s Back

Posted in News,Sports by Abigail on September 9, 2008

The great Fed has made his return. And all the world is right. In honor of that, I have to post this clip I ran into on YouTube. Even if you’re not a tennis or Roger Federer fanatic – let’s say you’re just into creative commercials or entertainment in general – this clip’s for you. It’s great fun. Enjoy!

A Menagerie

Posted in News,Philosophy,Politics,Sports by Abigail on September 5, 2008

I love tennis. It is the only sport in which “thank you” means “shut up”. And – not surprisingly – I have watched too much of the U.S. Open.

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So, Sarah Palin. Her choice was a stroke of brilliance. Now both parties have novelty: Obama is black and Palin is female. And she’s substanially more interesting than McCain. Which is probably not too hard to do.

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Here’s a question I’ve been kicking around: assuming macro evolution to be true, why should I think evolution is over? The significance of the question should be obvious: if evolution is not over, then I – and, more importantly, my thinking ability – is still evolving. What if I evolve to the point where I realize evolution isn’t true?! So, that’s a nonseical question but I think it makes my point. If my reasoning ability has evolved, and if evolution isn’t actually finished, then I have no grounds for thinking that evolution, or – better yet – anything, is true. I’m sure someone, somewhere has addressed why we can 1) believe the process has ended so that 2) we can believe our own thoughts. But, I’ve never heard this issue addressed and am curious to hear that reason. (For the record, the same difficulty applies to those on the opposite side of the fence – it just has an entirely different twist.)

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Random TidBit (to complete my extremely random post above): If you ever need a definition of a term, Google has a nice service. I just looked up the word “menagerie” to make sure it’s what I wanted. In their search field, type define: menagerie AND… tada – you get a whole host of responses, which is really what you want to begin with. That’s better than a dictionary, because here we have greater variety and usage, wider connotation, and – perhaps the best – current results.

Jig and a Book

Posted in Faith,Philosophy,Writing/Reading by Abigail on August 6, 2008

What do you do when your biggest questions have been answered? Well, dance a jig or something. Since you can’t see my jig I’m currently dancing, I’m just going to post about the book that caused the jig. (Actually, the only time I “jig” is on the tennis court and that’s really more of a victory dance… which isn’t really condoned in tennis… very sad, as it’s the best part of my game.) It is Proper Confidence by Leslie Newbigin. The subtitle is Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship. Many of the questions I’ve posted on this blog I’ve viewed as, essentially, unanswerable. But he answers them! At least to my satisfaction.

So I’ll provide a rundown of the book and hopefully persuade you also to pick up this gem.

1) First it should be noted that this is a Christian book. That means he operates out of a worldview soaked in Christian assumptions and beliefs. For the non-Christian, I still think this book would be beneficial because it is primarily philosophical – and only secondarily theological – and deals with problems that affect the church only because first they affected our culture at large. He is well spoken and thought provoking.

2) The first point of the book: Christian epistemology requires a scrapping of classical Greek epistemology. This has a thousand implications – many of which are disturbing, all of which are interesting – but I’ll leave those inside the book.

3) His next topic is what happens when that scrapping does not occur and instead classical Greek epistemology holds sway, as it does today. As you might imagine, Descartes gets a lot of air time.

4) Nihilism is next.

5) He discusses different kinds of knowledge: intellectual versus personal, in other words, knowing a fact versus knowing a person, and the inherent risks of knowing a person.

6) Fascinatingly, he attacks the dichotomy between objective and subjective knowledge. He bases his thoughts off a 20th century Russian scientist turned philosopher. It is decently convincing and is core to the argument of his whole book. (I’ve never heard anyone challenge this dichotomy. Am I out in left field? Perhaps it is more common than I realize?)

7) But primarily he dismantles some of the core principles of modernity. In its place, he talks of personal knowledge, how a knower must “commit” to what he knows, and the inherent personal risk always involved.

Unfortunately, my above post is not particlarly well written and, conceptually, does this book little justice. Please keep that in mind. I view this post is as a bit of a conclusion to the many conversations occuring previously on this blog: interesting thoughts, but mostly unanswered questions. As he makes his points far better than I would, I am just pointing to this book. At only 100ish pages, it is an easy read! I feel like I could stop blogging now – because he actually answered the questions I thought couldn’t be answered.

And for the record, I’m still jigging.

In the Meantime

Posted in Personal by Abigail on July 29, 2008

I have a super good book to post about, but have had to read it twice before being able to speak intelligently about it. I’m now on the third reading and plan to post next week.

In the meantime, I am off to my first pro tennis tournament ever and consider myself extremely lucky. Philosophy, and it’s best friend nonsense, will have to wait on hold for a while.

The book I’m going to post about is Proper Confidence by Leslie Newbigin. It is truly amazing.

Until then, more tennis.

A Nascent Nadal

Posted in Sports by Abigail on July 11, 2008

Nadal has taken out the world’s best, two times in a row. What’s to stop him? Hopefully hardcourts, as those aren’t his forte. It should be noted, however, that I’m writing this post primarily because I wanted to use the word “nascent”, it sounds great with Nadal, and, obviously, it’s true. But, nothing against Nadal! He is worthy of far more respect than he gets in the tennis world and he is only 22, which means he is going to yet improve. But, I am a Fed fan. Through and through. Up one side and down the other. Federer’s a class act – humble, gracious, elegant on and off the court, and one of the most powerful forces in the history of tennis. How do you beat that?

Well, by being Nadal.

Since tennis has nothing to do with my usual direction of conversation  – philosophical nonsense – I must ask: is tennis ‘beyond reason’ (to fit my title)? I think you could easily argue that. Why hit a little yellow ball around a court – and in fact spend your life hitting a little yellow ball around a court – and then cry when you don’t get that yellow ball where you want? Hmm, the absurdity of sports. This is true of all sports; they’re all ridiculous. And, if you want to keep testing the idea, I’d say of all human activity. Why do anything?

So, tennis to philosophy in one short paragraph. Anything can be analyzed. But the interesting thing about analyzing is that it seems to kill what it analyzes. We’ve all heard the term “clinical detachment”. This is what you do when you’re thinking; you’re no long experiencing – in one respect – and you are instead “detached.” You can’t feel as much because you’re busy analyzing and, in fact, your goal is not to feel so that, instead, you can think more clearly. So, essentially the experience is lost when you’re analyzing; that is why I say you “kill” it. So what’s better? To feel or to think? Or is my dichotomy fair? Perhaps not.

Bottom line? Fed fans – the world round – are rooting that he wins the US Open. There’s no question: I will be glued to the set!

So big men cry too

Posted in News,Sports by Abigail on July 6, 2008

I just watched the longest and arguably most dramatic final in Wimbledon history. And Roger Federer – for the first time in six years – did not win. He cried. (Although not on camera.) The match was beautiful: an extremely high level of play maintained for nearly five hours, with impossible shot followed by even more impossible shot. You kind of can’t believe you’re seeing what you’re seeing. But in the end, Federer – considered by most to be the greatest tennis player of all time – cried. It makes me feel better to know that the greats cry. He’s human.

But he better win next time.

Or I’ll cry.

Two Predictions

Posted in Personal,Politics,Sports by Abigail on June 6, 2008

I have two predictions. One, Roger Federer will win the French Open for the first time, on Sunday, and Nadal will lose it for the first time in four years.

And two, Obama will not pick Hillary for his running mate. Of course not! He can’t. She begged for it too much. He would then be acquiescing to her not so quiet or subtle commands instead of making his own presidential decisions. She should have kept quiet, in my not so humble opinion.

And, really I’ve got three predictions: McCain will not last against Obama. I think we’re going to have our first black president! Which is exciting. Except that I get the idea that I agree with almost none of his policies. That is unfortunate.

Why would I predict? Well, I’ve decided blogging is like making a catalog of your own errors. You’ve archived, for the world, the things you’ve said wrong. So I thought I’d just make it worse! 🙂 You know, when you talk to people, they forget half of what you say, including your errors. When you write it, well, man, it’s searchable, archivable, googlable, and public for the world! Why am I blogging?

So, we’ll see. Fed’s the man. He better win!

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