Monday, 13 December 2010
A while ago, somebody asked:
“What on earth are you doing, you stupid arse?”
That question made me start thinking, which is always a dangerous thing.
I didn’t ponder the question directly because I knew why it had been asked – I had spilled a cup of tea on my desk at work and it had flooded onto somebody else’s desk (his reaction was quite good, really).
Instead it made me consider the point of existence. I can almost hear you thinking “What the hell are you talking about?” Allow me to elaborate, dear reader.
I started to consider whether my mistake would make any difference in the global scheme of things.. Thousands of years into the future, my faux pas would be long forgotten. Both my work colleague and me would eventually both fade into oblivion and be lost in the mists of time. So why was he kicking up such a fuss?
Would anybody be even remotely interested in my antics in three thousand years’ time? Would anybody living in the year 5010 be even vaguely aware that a guy in Manchester had once pissed off a work colleague by soaking his desk in hot tea?
Can you imagine a future historian saying:
The man who calls himself The Plastic Mancunian wrote, what can be best described as drivel and exposed it the world for a good few years. However, the turning point came when he spilled hot tea over a colleague’s desk at work, resulting in a chain of events that ultimately led to World War Three. Thankfully, the hogwash he published has been lost.
The only reason that somebody like me might be remembered would be if I really had triggered World War Three eventually causing the violent destruction of humanity, all animal and plant life and possibly the Earth itself.
In the grand scheme of things, I am an insignificant moment in a vast infinite universe of time and space and my existence will not be remembered.
But I digress.
The original angry question rattled around my brain for a good few hours, teasing me, trying to stimulate my imagination and thought processes; in effect it tried to kick start the philosopher within. And it succeeded – to some extent.
In the past, I have had a bit of a problem with deep thinkers. I didn’t particularly mind them cogitating and filling their minds with nonsense – just as long as I didn’t have to listen to the bollocks that poured out of their mouths.
Also, I didn’t want them to think any less of me because I refused to engage with them about reason, conclusion and speculation. I’m sure that most philosophers are in fact very intelligent people; however, there are some that I have read about and some I have met who pour scorn on those refusing to enter their world, considering them to be idiots of the highest order. And that annoys me.
“I think therefore I am; you don’t think therefore you are a moron”.
I have questioned their intelligence because, quite simply, their minds tend to wander into crazy realms and, to me at least, the nonsense they talked about was just idiotic. For example, at university, I was once rummaging through some past mathematics papers in the library so that I could practice them for my forthcoming final exams. As I searched through the folders of old papers, I stumbled upon an old philosophy exam. I was curious about the subject and began to read the questions. There was a lot of stuff about famous philosophers, hidden meaning, thinking and other stuff that probably needed a level of understanding about various concepts in order to pass. To be honest, I would have been prepared to sit down and take a stab at the some of the questions. I wouldn’t have answered them in the way the examiners expected; my answers would have been facetious. I would have failed spectacularly and made an example of.
Some of the questions were absolutely ridiculous. Like this one:
There is a planet in existence that is identical to Earth, but populated only by unicorns. Discuss.
I read the question and within three minutes I was ejected from library, howling with laughter and struggling to maintain control of my bladder. Passers-by saw a demented science student, rolling around on the floor with tears in his eyes, clutching his groin, laughing maniacally and babbling “Unicorns! UNICORNS!”
These days, however, I have changed my opinion and I might even be tempted to have a go at answering the unicorn question, simply because I find it intriguing that somebody dreamt it up in the first place. And it also makes me wonder what other questions there are out there rattling around the minds of deep thinkers worldwide, like:
How do you know that you are not dreaming at the moment?
While you are pondering that, I have had a quick peek on the internet, looking for a few philosophical quotes some of which might make you chuckle but also might make you think.
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
A chocolate bar is better than nothing. Nothing is better than eternal happiness. Therefore a chocolate bar is better than eternal happiness.
Philosophy: unintelligible answers to insoluble problems.
To err is human. To forgive is unusual.
Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.
Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Even a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day.
Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia. [PM addendum: Unless of course you LIVE in Australia in which case you're screwed!]
I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time.
Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."
Being a philosopher, I have a problem for every solution.
Philosophy, like medicine, has plenty of drugs, few good remedies, and hardly any specific cures.
To ridicule philosophy is really to philosophize.
I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam: I looked into the soul of another boy.
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
The philosophy exam was a piece of cake -- which was a bit of a surprise, actually, because I was expecting some questions on a sheet of paper.
The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
My favourite is a story I heard about a philosophy exam question that simply said:
A candidate simply answered:
I love that!