~*~ Rose-Colored Glosses ~*~

hovering between the quest for absolute truth and the pursuit of utter nonsense
gloss, n.
  1. A brief explanatory note usually inserted in the margin or between lines of a text.
  2. An extensive commentary, often accompanying a text or publication.
  3. A purposefully misleading interpretation or explanation.
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* Stuff I Read *
Bioethics Blog
Poor Mojo's Newswire
Language Hat
Overheard In New York
Areas of His Expertise
* Quotes *
"The limits of my language means the limits of my world."
-Ludwig Wittgenstein
"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it."
-Mahatma Gandhi
Segal's Law:
A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
"Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste more like prunes than a rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know."
-Groucho Marx

~ Saturday, March 29, 2003 ~

Off to NYC in about 12 hours. Yay!

~ prattled by Miriam at 8:37 p.m. [+] ~ 0 comment

* * *

I worry sometimes about motivations. Specifically, mine, but other people's too, through association. I try to be rational and make well-informed decisions and all that, and yet, some of the most far-reaching choices I've made in my life--the ones I *keep* making, a little bit at a time, and the ones that end up defining who I am--have been made not because of rational thought but because of baser desires. Take dancing, for example. I'd like to say that I started learning to dance with such determination because I wanted to be a better dancer and because I think dancing is an excellent way to heighten awareness, be social, and enjoy the sheer pleasure of moving with someone else, but it's not like that at all. It's because of a guy. Back in high school, I started learning to waltz and polka and do other Victorian-type dances because this guy I liked was crazy about dancing and I wanted to be around him more and impress him with my natural grace. It didn't work, but I learned to dance in the meantime, and as a result I met many other wonderful people and now I have this safe, enjoyable thing I can do with friends (and strangers, even) when I want to be around people and bounce to music. Great. So it certainly wasn't time wasted, but what would have happened if Mr. Dancey Guy had never been on my radar? Perhaps my life would be danceless, and I'd never have met all the lovely people I've met through dancing, nor had the happy relationships I've had.

The same is true for philosophy: I wasn't turned on to philosophy by the wonderful ideas that exploded in my head when I happened to pick up Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals at a public library. Ideas didn't start exploding in my head until some time after I'd already been studying philosophy for a while. What turned me on to it was...another guy. In high school, again. He was an Artist and an Existentialist, and he spoke in idioms he made up on the spot. I was infatuated, not only with him, but with the way he saw the world, and I wanted to see things that way too, so I started thinking maybe I'd study philosophy. I did, and I liked it, so I kept studying it. So now I have a major in philosophy and I can write analytical and argumentative papers about different worldviews, and I don't completely freak out when other people start talking about Nietzsche or Kant, but Mr. Existentialist Artist and I fell out of touch some time ago.

And again, with Judaism: I started delving into the culture and the tradition and the infinite volumes of commentaries upon commentaries on the Law not because I picked up a pentateuch one day and became fascinated by the lucidity with which the Rabbis thought, but because the HUC students who came each year to my synagogue to act as our rabbis were cool and charismatic and friendly and also deeply thoughtful, and Jewish philosophy fascinated them, so suddenly it occurred to me that it might be all shiny to me, too. And with music, too. I'd never have given TMBG (nor several other pop artists) a second glance if someone I admire hadn't been crazy about them. What is it with me and questionable motivations? Why can't I pursue something without my interest being [validated by discovering that someone I respect shares that interest/sparked by the desire to be like (and to be liked by) someone I admire]?

The thing is, I don't think I'm the only one. I think there are many people like this, who consider themselves intelligent and rational and will still happily follow the colorful banner of a charismatic leader, and actually adjust their beliefs and actions so that they jive with the colorful writing, rather than following the colorless banner that nevertheless says exactly what they believe, or (even rarer) making their own banner without caring how colorful it looks or who might follow behind.

I want my own banner. But I also want friends, and bright colors, and love. Is that a weakness?

~ prattled by Miriam at 8:10 p.m. [+] ~ 0 comment

* * *
~ Wednesday, March 26, 2003 ~

Bleagh. I hurt. Not really sure why my shins should start hurting now, after having been nice and good and obedient for so long, but there it is. I don't think I was dancing differently from usual (although we did do four of my favorite dances tonight, which was supercool--Simple Gits, Just for Jody, Maiden's Choice, and Orange in Bloom, which has all sorts of sentimental value to me because it was one of our show dances at Marlboro in May '01 and it was the first show dance I was ever in), either. Odd. Probably due to a lack of dancing. Seriously, there's been far too little dancing in my life lately. Thank goodness there's Period Movement to anticipate...not that it'll be lovely transporting myself back and forth twice a week, but I really think it'll be worth it, and besides, much reading and writing and thinking can happen on busses and trains even during periods when it doesn't happen at any other time. And if it turns out not to be as wonderful as I hope (not that that's a possibility, of course), then whatever, I'm only auditing it. Mmmm, mazurka. :)

Grr. I have to send e-mails to people about New York things, and I have to send them tonight, and stanfordalumni.org isn't letting me log in. Grr. I want to send e-mails and go to sleep. Clearly stanfordalumni.org is intentionally trying to make me lose sleep. I'm sure it's a corporate plot. Make the alumni tired and cranky and fogheaded and then bombard them with The Stanford Fund letters threatening to keep sending them letters until they give money.

I miss dorm life. I liked it better when I could come home to a whole house full of people who were more than likely nice to be around, and kept the same hours I did, or worse ones. It's still weird being the only one who stays up past midnight. Looking forward to things being more normal during my NYC visit, even if it's only for a week, because after that I can look forward to life being collegey again for the coming academic year. That'll be so nice. :) Which reminds me, I have to e-mail Elita and various school contacts about meetings and tours and other scheduling things...and I would, too, if only stanfordalumni.org would let me in. Gragh.

~ prattled by Miriam at 3:20 a.m. [+] ~ 0 comment

* * *
~ Tuesday, March 25, 2003 ~

I seem to have a blog. This is an odd thing for me, since when I first heard about the concept, I thought it was pretty darn bizarre. Write personal stuff about your life, and then let everyone read it?? EVERYONE?? Even just some random person who happens to surf in from some random place? How inappropriately exhibitionistic. That, and I thought the term "blog" was just the dumbest thing ever...even more annoying than "btw", which I find *really* annoying (although that is probably so only because someone I know added it to his speaking vocabulary, as far as I could tell, solely because he wanted to sound hip, but ended up just sounding contrived--I mean, for goodness sake, it takes five syllables to say "btw" and only three syllables to say "by the way", so the whole goal of being expedient is utterly lost).

It didn't help that when I first started realizing to what an extent blogs were taking over the world, I started accidentally discovering myself on other people's postings, which I found oddly disturbing. I mean, it's supposed to be their own forum, in which they can say whatever they want about anything, but it just seems to me like it's wrong, and an invasion of privacy, to be reading someone else's postings about me, even though it's on a public space and the poster knows very well that it's accessible to everyone. I can't excuse myself for causing harm to someone else by saying that my victim is stupid and should have known better. If I know my victim is stupid (or, at least, is ignorant of some vital information) it's up to me to either inform them or to keep them from the impending harm in whatever manner I could. So I was left with the choice of ceasing to visit their blog (but then how sharp the temptation, every moment, as I wondered what other divulgences might have been made, which I would never read!) or telling them that I was aware of my existence on their blog, which seemed like it would, in certain cases, cause more discomfort and embarrassment on the part of the blogger than I would ever want to create.

So I believe that when blogging, certain ethical guidelines ought to apply. First of all, no saying anything about anyone else that could damage a reader's impression of that person, even (or *especially*) if the reader has never met the person. Same sort of rules I try to follow in everyday speech, only it seems to me as if they should be even more strict in blogs, because there's never any way of knowing who's eavesdropping on your conversation with yourself, and the appearance of having your own private webspace can probably create a very nice false sense of security--C'mon, like Belinda McGreggor is really ever going to find MY blog--but it can happen, and probably has, and I imagine much painful and avoidable drama has resulted. Secondly, no saying anything about anyone that I haven't already told them in person. If I'm going to go on and on about how in love with Belinda McGreggor I am (yes, even if I use initials or cute code names, because chances are Belinda is moderately perceptive and will figure it out), I'd better have the guts to tell her myself, first, and maybe ask her permission to be the subject of my public romantic waxings. And it would probably be a better solution to just not go on and on about how in love with her I am if I'm using a public space and signing my name at the bottom.

But then, another problem arises: if I restrict myself from talking about human drama and interpersonal relationships, I have two things (as I see it) remaining to me: either the "here's what I did today" post or the "here's what I think about this issue of public interest" post (of which this is an example, I realize) and a blog full of one or the other, or both, runs the risk of becoming either boring or disgustingly self-indulgent, or perhaps a frightful combination of the two. Human drama is fascinating to people in a way that can be rivalled by very little else, or else soap operas, as a genre, would never have survived for so long. I, for one, doubt that I would ever keep reading a blog if it had nothing but the daily digest of my own thoughts and activities, unless I were an extremely entertaining writer (which I'm not) or I had some external incentive, and even then, it would be doubtful. Describing my daily life just isn't that interesting. Not to me, anyway. To me it's just sort of transparent. I already know what I did today, and what I thought about it, and the thoughts I had were the obvious ones, the only ones I could have thought. Why consider them noteworthy? Why be so arrogant as to believe that anyone else would want to read them?

But here's the shred of hope--the un-rub, the "doch", the volta. Even if it's transparent to me, maybe my take on things is different enough or amusing enough or otherwise foreign enough to others that they will take some pleasure in looking at boring everyday things through the filter that is permanently stuck over my eyes, this filter that is invisible to me because I've been staring through it for so long, like the cones in front of the retina. It's not necessarily even a filter of optimism all the time, as the "rose-colored" bit would imply (true, I am frequently optimistic and make it a practice to try to explain unpleasant things away with the most benign explanation I can, but I am also sometimes decidedly pessimistic, as some of my closer friends and certainly my family know) but it is a color, and it is always there, and if I had to pick a color for myself, I'm sure it would be something vaguely rose-ish. I hope whoever reads this doesn't gag on the pinkishness of it all, but I like those colors and they're staying there.

Yikes. What a disagreeable way to end a post. I'm not mean like that all the time, honestly.

~ prattled by Miriam at 3:32 a.m. [+] ~ 0 comment

* * *
~ Sunday, March 23, 2003 ~

Thanks for all your help, Graham!!

~ prattled by Miriam at 9:52 p.m. [+] ~ 0 comment

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