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Make-Believe and Profane Geometry

Associate Professor Agnes Callard has a thoroughly interesting post over at her blog, prompted by yet another post elsewhere from one Tyler Cowen, all of which wonders at a modern progress in philosophy. As I myself would appear to be constructing a new philosophy through this nilskidoo, my efforts are as well blockaded from the philosophical community in much the same way as my research into Ripperology has been denied by quote unquote professional Ripperologists, simply for turning established preconceptions on end. This, even as philosophers widely regard truth as being more prone to come from the fringes rather than from whichever sanctioned forethought. Or to bastardize Terence McKenna, no matter the business model correlated each and every possible industry demands actual creative people to produce its fare, with genuine ingenuity always and only ever coming from the street, rather than from the penthouses looming loftily above reason.

Once upon a time I spent a couple of years among the faculty of the department of philosophy at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; a liberal arts college founded by Jesuits, of the sort where every year there is at least one student gifted a literal yacht by their parents as a graduation present. Not as faculty myself, but very much in the manner of a tokenized Good Will Hunting example for the real world. Indeed in those days, unlike the faculty themselves or the student body or local workers for the school, because my time crossed over I may be the only person alive today who has physically studied both the private meditation chamber up inside the clock tower (which most students and workers know nothing about), as well as the fallout bunker down under the cafeteria (which most students and faculty know nothing about). By never existing in any particular margin, have I been afforded a perspective that renders itself wholly unique by literally seeing all sides from within their respective, costly margins.

Being the non-proverbial Pisces out of water have I been able to see the forest for its trees, at least until I choke my last breath.

It began by my being a high school dropout, leaving public school as a 14-year-old junior, though taking the nationwide ACT test in the 7th grade and later earning a perfect score on the SAT. I walked in preference for self-education, and because my hard-working parents were so well-fucked by employers as to be unable to afford anything approximating the required clothes and supplies for the specialized studies I was being pressured into. As well, the need to pick up paying work so that my exhausted mom could still have some hours leftover for sleep became my only focus, made easier once I came of legal age to legally work anything better than odd-jobs of lawn-care, detailing cars or the like. My sisters older and younger were in their own teenage girl worlds, but I spent my own teenage weirdness as a hermit, creating minimal financial cost while delving through for example the entire works of Shakespeare (courtesy of the always-vital public library system), waiting to be seen as an adult in the eyes of the law. And so I signed up for the Job Corps program as soon as I turned 17, going off to the oldest Job Corps center in the country. I had no real interest in becoming a tradesman, but as that had been my dad’s path I knew I must have picked up enough at his side to make for an easy acclimation; and true enough, despite being a two-year program I completed the Building and Maintenance trade inside of 9 months, while simultaneously earning my GED along with my first drivers license, a fleet license which I joked at the time would enable me to safely steal a police car anywhere in the state of North Carolina, where the program took place. With no resources, have I made myself the gumption politicians behind closed doors actually fear.

This was followed by a year of lowly kitchen work, primarily for a pizzeria in Louisville where I was known for working not double or triple but quadruple shifts, crashing for a few early-morning hours on the couch of a manager with an apartment upstairs from the restaurant, so that entire days would pass without my ever actually stepping outside. And then, a collegiate professor of philosophy uncle visited from out of state, immediately blown away by how this boy with no higher learning so easily made his most prized graduates look like the ivy-eating dicks they authentically were. He invited me up to his city for a spell, where his own arrogance regarding how his own school’s financial aid actually worked became quickly evident, regardless of his soon chairing his department. Being himself very popular with his students, I quickly became a sort of pseudo celebrity among the keg scene, showing up late in my blue collar uniforms to help them understand both Kant and cunt while finishing the remnants of their liquor cabinets, paid for by their always insanely wealthy parents. I was a pet Bukowski, a poet laureate for the House Jihad. My uncle’s co-workers as well were impressed beyond reason, insisting I audit their courses off the books, so that in those two years I at least sampled literally every course offered by their department, and a few from other departments as well. I recall one classics professor in particular, who would treat me out to lunch weekly to discuss nothing else but my reading list at the time, which I later surmised was his way of finding connecting points to better understand his own actual pupils. I even worked for the school briefly, as a janitor for the food services office, which ended following a sexual encounter with a trio of female students atop the altar of the school’s small chapel in the middle of one really memorable night, which by total happenstance was also my first experience with LSD.

Suffice to say, I got to honestly know many of these quote unquote professional philosophers, invited into their homes to play chess and the like. And among their ilk capital P-hilosophy was openly regarded as the dead science, presently confined to academia, and that no new thoughts had been brought to the table since the 1950s at the utmost latest, even with them themselves publishing books every few years. I used to argue that they should key in on certain standup comics, like Carlin, Pryor and Hicks, yet they would shoot down those names as being too sociological-focused, with not enough metaphysical action going on for their personal standards, looming loftily on high above reason.

Certainly, the events I detail above happened a solid 20 years ago, but it remains clear that in fact nothing new has been brought to the table of the wonderful world of philosophy aside from identity politics, which is dangerously misbegotten, as I feel it confuses identity and personality, and thus, psyche. If we have learned nothing else from modernity, it’s that free speech only applies to food packaging, and mistaking one’s packaging for what’s truly inside or what one wishes was inside is not truth in the slightest. Equally, whatever the uncertainties that prompted the mentioned blog posts at the top of this essay, I feel that they too overlook what is occurring in the real world far and away from the self-pleasuring bubbles of academia, out here in the blood-stained streets. This old essay of mine, for starters, would by all evidence seem to be well beyond the grasp of higher learning today. To limit the basic freedom of exploring self-expression to anything short of the infinite is authoritarian, just as to demand that said self-expression be embraced, no matter the form it might imaginatively take, is every bit as authoritarian. To understand is not necessarily to love or to loathe, as to love or to loathe is one-sided, whereas to understand calls for something more than that.

Which is precisely why philosophy must be continuously taught, because while all voyages of self-discovery begin on unsure footing, none should meet their end that way, or else you walked all those years for nothing, to nowhere. So writes a man with no degrees, only a mess of memories, burnt candles and scar tissue living the unkind life with no time left for sleep at all. I don’t want to ever stop learning or experiencing.