- December 13th, 2015
Normally I am just slightly out of step with everyone. But one recent evening at a bar with the intellectual fight club I discovered that I was completely like the rest of them, within the context of the group "normal", and that was a fun experience. We agree that:
Hot spiced Christmas mead is the shit. "Mead is awesome, though. Have you had it?" "Oh yeah. You know what's good?" "Gluehmed," another guy and I say simultaneously. "WHAT? This is in Graz? Where?!" "You know the market in the alley behind that church near the river?" "Oh yeah, you can get lost in there... Fuck, guys, there goes my weekend."
Gin and tonics, despite the fact that they are having a "cool kid" moment, are also tasty. I, who am being nostalgic and ordering gin and sodas, make fun of myself for being so hipster-y that I can't even order the normal drink but have to be precious about it. But the table decides that drinking them that way for ten years, or "since she was a little girl", specifically because I want to better taste the gin, because why would you ever drink anything you didn't like the taste of, makes it a legit thing to order. And in an American accent "soda" sounds hilarious. And now they want one too.
The fact that you can't read every book in the world is no excuse to keep trying. "Sadly, my knowledge of the German canon is spotty." "I mean, so is most people's." "No, it's terrible..." And later: "That reminds me of Juenger. Everyone reads All Quiet on the Western Front for WW1, but Remarque is like the morning after... Juenger's the crazy night." And later: "I'm a big dystopia fan. Brave New World's my favorite." "Yeah, that's good. When I was seventeen I was so into Camus and Sartre -" "Oh? I could never get into Camus, but Sartre's plays-" "Geschlossene Gesellschaft-" "What's that in English? Is that the one with the three people-" "Yes!" "No Exit! Yeah! Hell is other people!" And later: "I WAS reading Crime and Punishment, but I got to that fever part when I was actually lying in bed with a fever and I felt like I was losing my mind..." "Oh God, yeah, then it amplifies everything... I read Jack London one winter - brrr!" (laughter) "The only thing I ever read of his was 'King Alcohol', but that I really liked..." "No, but do finish the Dostoevsky - his actual writing is pretty shitty, but his thoughts are worth it." And later: "I had a Bukowski phase, I read everything he wrote..." "I did that with Vonnegut. Do you know him?" "No." "You might like him." Since our tastes are very similar, apparently.
Psychedelic drugs sound terrifying and the subconscious should stay the fuck down. Someone who is all sweetness and light might want to free their mind, but we do not fit that description. It seems like the risk vs. reward payoff is higher for heroin than for nicotine, but since we have all been addicted to nicotine and have thus learned that we are weak creatures, we know better than to get anywhere near the big illegal drugs. And finally, alcohol is clearly the best drug of all. "With alcohol you know where you stand."
Academia is a fucking joke and we hate the "who you know" bullshit. And at the same time, we like the fact that our professor's name is known - apparently also in Spain, her main area of study being the transatlantic dealings of the Spanish Habsburgs - and we like the fact that when we say we wrote/are writing under her, people apparently take you more seriously. I have actually seen another professor's manner to me change after they asked who I was writing under, which was funny. For me it's fairly irrelevant since I won't continue in academia, but we all, professor included, enjoy our collective reputation.
"If I could only ever live in one culture again? I'd rather slit my throat." Seconded, although less dramatically.
OBVIOUSLY existentialism is the correct way of understanding the world. So OBVIOUSLY it's not surprising that we all think/have read the same things. The question, for the six or seven existentialists sitting around the table, is a matter of degree/focus. Excerpts from the debate: "We are trapped in our minds, of course. You in yours, me in mine..." "Which means nothing exists outside of our ability to name it. The universe did NOT exist before we could talk about the universe!" "Of course, but it exists retroactively!" "Yes, for us, obviously, it's existed forever, but before, no, it never did." "But outside of our perspective-" "Outside? Outside there's nothing, there's nothing else!" "No, no, you're reaching. You can't KNOW that there's nothing any more than you can know that there's something. You just can't know." "But there's a moral dilemma here, because who are we to say the voices in somebody's head aren't real-" "Of course they are, they're entirely real. To him." "Yes, but if they say he should kill someone then we still impose our reality over his. Reality by consensus?" "Nightmare reality. But we do it anyway." "But think of Der Einzige und sein Eigentum - if we admit we are all egoists -" "Like Epicurus. Hedonism is entirely logical. Pursue pleasure for yourself... AND for everyone else." "But the ideal then becomes autarky. No desires, no needs..." "Sounds awful. And so we have deduced the need for evil... But maybe we do need that, the highs and the lows... And you know, there is a human need for that, just like there is a human need for food-" "The need for spirituality, yes, obviously that's there." "And you can't starve yourself to prove food doesn't exist-" "'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.'" "Still, how do you have a morality that is not based on a claim to absolute truth? And you know, Nietzsche-" The table pulls faces. I say, "Poor Nietzsche." "But if you understand quantum mechanics-" I laugh. "'If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics!'" "Agh, okay, yes, but what it SAYS is if you measure the thing you change it. There is nothing without our perspective. NOTHING." "That we can see." "Nothing!" "That you can see!" "But have you read Ich und Du? These are all just it-relationships, talking about these things, we are killing their reality, we are remaking them into nothing more than mental constructs... we are killing off the world right now." "These are the very best kinds of drunk conversations."