Pros & Cons of Living Authentically (Bom bom bom insert Dramatic Music)

Oh the Pros and Cons of living authentically! As if everything can be divided up that Pro and Con way. Well, it’s a starting point. The argument here is not a binary woodchopper devouring a tree, the sawdust to press into fuel pellets of Self. It’s a pine tree to climb on, smell and absorb the scent, and occasionally taste the bark. Many parts are edible.

Rick Roderick’s eight 1993 lectures, The Self Under Siege: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (available on YouTube) are a treat. His winning personality and West Texas illustrations make difficult topics easier to follow. The topical references feel antique, mostly, but I remember how pertinent they felt at the time. Roderick’s foil of “conformity” in this lecture also feels antique to me. I discuss this in my sidebar in red, below.

At ~38:00, the Pro: the authentic life is one in which you don’t flee from your destiny, but one in which you shape it–as much as you can given your historical and other limitations.

At ~39:50, the Con: We don’t want a narrative of our selves that’s based merely on authenticity because we know too many authentic swine.

The lecture frames authenticity as acting with intention versus acting with conformity. This doesn’t answer all the questions about authenticity. Not directly explored in this lecture: is there an authentic self at all? Maybe one could infer that there is none, that we are only thrown from nothingness into a life with context and framing to then resist as we judge proper, as authenticity-builders, but I think this needs further examination.

Sidebar: how the standards of conformity have changed since 1993! Most everyone seems in flux, most ways of life overturned and toppled and toppled again, it seems almost quaint at first. Then if I look a little deeper, it seems that the conformity now is not the treadmill of a Stairmaster, which Rick Roderick mocks repeatedly in this lecture, but the treadmill of trying to keep up with change. Imagine a cartoon animal here running, feet a-blur.

If our feet constantly slip and stumble over the ever-moving treadmill, and with arms out awkwardly we try (whoah, click, whoah!) to keep up and maintain dignity? The slip is inevitable, the dignity is not.

And given our fragility and inevitable series of micro-failures,  of course we humanly aspire to enjoy and thrive from the changes! But it takes time for our primate resistance to understand that every pro of change comes with a con (the easier the communication, the more shrill the silence). SO… what then does that mean for the quest of authenticity?

How sad for us that Rick Roderick died in 2002. I’d like to know what he thought about today.

See the notes section for The Partially Examined Life’s excellent outline that summarizes the lecture.

Here is a complete text outline of Rick Roderick’s Self Under Siege lectures. This, Masters of Suspicion, is the first YouTube lecture in the series.

Also see–

A learned review of the philosophical history of Authenticity.

Of course:

And hear a sweet, gloomy song that quotes from RR’s Heidegger lecture. (Ilija Ludvig – Another Day Full of Dread.) I like the mocking ghosts at the end.

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Ficus Triangularis provides new angle to #novel LAMP EYES, LOOK OUT!

A book’s panorama, half a circle, or one hundred eighty degrees of angles in 7 pages–that’s an uncompromising 25.7 degrees each page from editor Ficus Trangularis! Here are the page pictures of the new Introduction to my novel LAMP EYES, LOOK OUT! At a later time I may be able to post the text as text.Ficus p7

Ficus p8Ficus p9

FICUS p10_Ficus p11Ficus p12Ficus p13

Published in: on March 21, 2018 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  

RallyBird Baseball Board Game Coming This Spring 2018

As my baseball board game advances toward market readiness, I created a new blog for it… . I’m tweeting about it at @RallyBirdBasbal . Thank you.

After coming back to lead in the top of the 9th, I lost the game session pictured below in the bottom of the 9th. Blue had a walk-off rally. And it hurt! But I had a moment there.

Published in: on March 18, 2018 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

My voice like a dry, crispy crackling leaf! (#Interview on the KBOO #Bike Show on March 7th, 2018. A chat about my #novel, Dangerous Bicycle Mystery Quest)

If you click the link below, you can listen to a recording of the broadcast interview. We talk about Dangerous Bicycle Mystery Quest and related topics. I was the second guest, so I start about halfway through the recording.

I would like to make a point here is that when we measure the pros and cons of our methods of urban growth, we should measure it against alternative growth methods, not a frozen moment of perpetual no-growth, not magical thinking, and not a reactionary “when I was young” statement of natural human nostalgia. In other words, for Portland, it’s not Infill vs Yesteryear, it’s Infill vs. Sprawl.

You can’t tell me sprawl doesn’t also increase costs, cause problems and inflict pain. I am interested in your ideas about how to have a decent, modern civilization without growth, but I haven’t heard a single one. (Here’s a good point to read some Schopenhauer about the remorseless striving of the Blind Will of nature.) This problem, the problem of growth, is what my novel tries to explore. I don’t know if there is a solution. Until then, I vote for conscious, intentional humane growth that seeks economies of scale that make urban resources work best. As far as I can tell, this leads to a fun place to live.

Click here if you want to hear the crackle of my dry leaf of a voice:

Here’s a picture of me at KBOO waiting my turn… sorry for the shades. My lenses hadn’t yet cleared.


Big thanks to my hosts Alon and April!


Published in: on March 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

#Cicero a Hero a-No.

Impatient with Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, I read two books on Cicero. Anthony Everett’s Cirero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician (2003) flowed pretty well, and so did Anthony Trollope’s Life of Cicero (1880). Everett moves his prose lens back and around to give context of that turbulent time, and also covers some details aside of Cicero such as the horrors of the Colosseum. This means if you are familiar with Roman history, you’re going to have to read through repeat material before the book returns to Cicero. Both Trollope and Everett go through Cicero’s court cases, the famous Verra, the rhetoric of which made him famous (as Cicero wanted). His words are indeed effective.

Fame opens the gates to power. Court rhetoric lead naturally to politics. So this part of the life of Cicero becomes the story of a politician. A remarkable strength of Cicero the political leader was his resistance to corruption. This was at a time when the state acquired funds through tax farming, leasing out to governors the power to tax. You can imagine the thievery this system encouraged. Cicero, however, was honest.

In a time of successive civil wars, in part Haves vs Have Nots ( optimates vs populares ), Cicero had a role. Class war was only a part cause. The deeper problem was the failure of the Roman Republic to have a means of growth in size without growth in instability. I did not detect any sign that Cicero sensed this. Rhetoric is strong at finding advantageous arguments, and has little role for vision or understanding that does not support the immediate goal. While he he held hopes of going back to the old ways, his comprehension of the situation seems to me limited to power, personalities and political parties. This tempers my appreciation of his prose… but maybe that’s not fair; I should just his words by what they do offer, if I can.

My main problem with Cicero was that as Consul, ruling under martial law, he captured conspirators against the Republic. What to do with them? Hold them for trial, or execute them.

Imagine the accomplishment of the Roman Republic, its hatred of the tyranny of kings, the revered assertion the right to trial of its citizens. Now imagine the Republic is under threat from within and without (the Catiline Conspiracy). You want to save the Republic. Yes, under martial law, you have the power to execute your prisoners without trial. It’s expedient, sets an example, and prevents them from doing future harm. It’s even popular, for now. But how can you not foresee that by doing so, you’re doing harm to the Republic yourself? How can you not see that this is a different kind of corruption? Julius Caesar, for one, warned against the executions. I think here again Cicero missed a chance to shore up the cracking Republic, instead putting a wedge in one of the cracks. Since some of his contemporaries understood this, I think this critique stands.

Much later, after the next wave of Roman civil wars, Cicero the politician suffered exile, adjusted his alliances to changing fortunes, and sat down to write his treatises that helped build the fame for which he’s revered today. I am still willing to try to learn and appreciate from this tradition. But I won’t forget that when tested, he chose extrajudicial execution. (I append one of Professor Sandler’s lectures on Cicero below.)



Published in: on March 9, 2018 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment