Archive for the Benedikt K.'s Entries Category

Gaming Life

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, Philosophy / Big Picture on November 6, 2009 by Benedikt K

So, today Mr. Long told us in class that we should game the system and try to spread our blog posts as far as possible. He then very hastily followed up with a statement on how this project is not at all a game, but rather something sincere and real. His temporary slip, yes, maybe it was just a tangential thought, but it seemed more like a slip to me, however reminded me of life’s similarity to a game. And I don’t mean in a John Conway “Game of Life” way. We originally modeled our games after life itself. Most ancient games were used to teach both children and Adults quick thinking and improvisation in Battle, chess being the most prominent example. But by now games have evolved into something different. Our games now go beyond what is humanly possible, and while they still have some value if seen as a test of reaction speed or intellect, oftentimes they are played for the wrong reasons.

So why should we not look at life as a game. Please note that I will try to avoid another Cartesian argument about whether this is actually some highly advanced game, simply because after some time even those start to get old, and we have heard every single variation on them. So if we look at life as a game, are we loosing some sincerity in our actions, is some of the weight of our actions removed? I don’t think so. In chess an error is often fatal for ones game, but after the game all that may be hurt is your ego. In life if you make a mistake, it can oftentimes have long ranging repercussions.

So why should we look at life as a game if it changes nothing and all our actions are weighted the same as before?

Let me explain it, once more, using chess. Rarely do you see a good game being won without sacrifice. One of the most famous games ever, Anderssen’s Immortal game, leads to Anderssen sacrificing two rooks, a bishop and his queen to end up winning. So if we look at life as a game, maybe we can accomplish some removal from our actions. By seeing things from a game, a third person perspective, we are able to better analyze options and actions. I do not encourage sacrifices without thought, but I do think that we need more objectivity in a lot of events. Sometimes making a compromise is better than pushing through. With more rationale, more game-like attitudes there would be less hate and envy. Hate simply distracts from what is really important and envy is unnecessary if you are working on your own progress.

By taking life as a game, as one big fall down a rabbit hole, we are able to make better decisions based off a bigger perspective. If we resist our impulses, oftentimes we can achieve more over the long run. But we are also quicker to decide if we see it as a game, because we are bound to look at it within the terms of the game and recognizing that while sometimes a single moment can ruin a plan completely, oftentimes these moments, while embarrassing, have no impact after all.

Size Does Matter

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries on November 5, 2009 by Benedikt K

Why do we seem to always be too small or too big to do something? Even now, there are some things I sometimes wish I could attend, but am simply too old to. This particular feeling becomes more prominent the older one gets. I have met many an adult that wishes the he was still in high school or, even more so, college. These are called the best years of our lives, yet I find myself wanting to grow older. I want to grow older because I there are some things I cannot experience yet. A lot of privileges I am longing for have these irritating age stickers on them. “16”, “18” and “21” are some of the most annoying. So I want to grow to experience these things, yet I think I will want to return to this age once I have.

For Alice however, this is much more a physical aspect. When she is large, the animals want to burn her. When she is small, she cannot train the dog like she would like to. When she is too small she cannot reach the key, when she is too large she cannot crawl through the door. It is almost as if this story was written for someone older than the little girl it was for. It seems that this book is much more of a coming of age experience than we think. If we think of Carroll’s writing as preparing her for what is to come, a lot of his imagery falls into place.

The references to puberty, the problems with sizes and growing up fit perfectly into this image. Even the caucus race can be seen as a playful introduction to politics, something little Alice would have had to deal with very soon. So Alice must grow as fast as possible to not fall behind when compared to her peers. Yet Carroll seems to be morally torn in between destroying what he loves, the child, and not destroying it and making her an outcast. So his only option for voicing this torment is writing a story for her.

Poor Alice. Poor us. We, like her, are expected to grow as fast as possible. But somewhere along the way we will loose our innocence and our childhood. So it is up to us and those who try to help us with this to retain some youth within us. For us it is too late. The fact that I am writing a blog post, voluntarily, which is over 500 words long and am doing it on a nice Wednesday night is proof enough that I am too far gone already, along with at least a large portion of my classmates. But we can try to prevent others from falling into the same trap, and maybe reagin some of our inner child.

We Are the Difference

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, Philosophy / Big Picture on November 4, 2009 by Benedikt K

Once more I find myself thinking about one of Brendon’s posts.

To sum it up, he struggles with the difference in between a child and an adult. Somehow I think I have an answer, even though it doesn’t really answer the question, but is the question really the point?

Just like those seeking the context for that ultimate answer (42), I am a mite unsure of what we are seeking for. Yes, supposedly it is the difference between adults and children. But how can we even assume that there is one exact difference? Adults are distinct from children, and yet they are the same. How do we even define an adult. And if we do define an adult, can they really be fully distinct or the same altogether? If we accept the fact that there is some transition in between the two, how do we define this area?

To quote Albert Einstein,

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”.

Yes he talks about common sense, not adulthood, but is this not essentially the same thing? Adulthood could be seen as simply defined by an existence of common sense. If we say that adults are defined by the mindset they have accepted already, what else is this than what they perceive to be common sense? Adults seemed to always be right when we were young, but as we grow older we find that oftentimes the opposite is true, and there are different gradients of this adulthood.

So common sense defines adulthood. So is common sense directly bad? I don’t think so. There is the need for some things that must be assumed. After all science is the method of finding as many possible answers from a set of axioms that is as small and elementary as possible. Never can we operate without assuming a few things. Yes, Descartes tried it, but even here there are points where one could argue that logic was faulty or doubtful. Either way, we must assume some things, if simply for speed and routine that life will require at times. Thus common sense, adulthood is not bad within itself.

But being a complete adult is not good either. If we assume too much we find our perception of things to be faulty or contradicting our own axioms. We are suddenly incapable of reacting to something. Yes, to most situations we can react extremely quickly simply by making the events a mental axiom, but soon we have too many of them. Thus we must only make assumptions when necessary and later remove them from our brain. We must remain intellectually agile, able to doubt as much as possible when possible, yet assuming when necessary.

And here we come to my final, oh so wonderfully biased conclusion. The youth is the answer. We are the ones to be molded, or rather to be prevented from molding. Control the youth and you shall conquer the world. Let them control themselves and humanity is better off than you could ever imagine. Give the youth the ability to think for themselves and you have created an avalanche of thought prone to destroy whatever may come into its way. Any problem could be solved by this generation of thinkers. Just make sure that it’s not you.

A Race of Life and Politics

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries on November 3, 2009 by Benedikt K

As already noted in the side comments of the Annotated Alice, chapter three has a mass of political references within. From the Caucus race over the prizes to Alice’s thimble, everything seems to represent some political element of Victorian England. But within these metaphors there is even more. Not only is there a statement about politics, but also one about life and being.

The Caucus race, a truly curious event within the book, seems to represent the running for office that all politicians must go through. This race is never truly won, simply because the only way to win it is to have people remember you forever. Politicians spend so much time on running for office, get so cought up in the less important part of their job, that it is astonishing that they get anything done at all. And often at the end they look back and have accomplished nothing, done nothing, and ask why. They want to stay racing, but do not know why they race.

But I like to think of the Caucus race as something different, yet related. Just like politicians when they run for office, we oftentimes run in circles in our daily lives. Life itself, so it seems, is a constant struggle that cannot be won and is as repetitive as running in a circle. We oftentimes ask ourselves why we even keep on going, when we think we never can win. But after some time we realize that we do win. We do get our own piece of Comfit, made up of the toiling and the perils of life. It is the experience that makes us win, it is the action that emerges victorious.

So when all of the animals ask Alice for their winnings, they have ended their race and are asking for their prize. But what they are really asking is what they may have gained from the experience. What do we receive for living? We toil andlessly on our track, but what do we gain from it? Once more, we do get our comfit at the end. What we gain from life depends on what we want to gain from it. If we want to get dry, we will get dry. But even if we only want to get dry originally, at the end we still are asking for the comfit. Should we not clearly state why we are having this race and then stick to the reason, instead of expecting something else?

I think that we to often have incorrect expectations to something, or are not sure of what we want. With less of this ambiguity, we would have a better world.

CoverItLive Session #2

Posted in Benedikt K.'s Entries, CoverItLive sessions, Deron M.'s Entries on November 1, 2009 by Benedikt K

This is our second ‘chat’ session using CoverItLive.

If you’d like to see what we discussed the first time we tried this ‘live blogging’ tool, go here.

A couple of things about today’s talk:

  • We talked about our interpretations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , in particular about the class references and symbolism Carroll uses.
  • Note: Please notice that Elizabeth and Gabriella apparently couldn’t make the session, presumably because I didn’t send out invites way ahead of time as I had prior to Friday’s session.

Other than that, if you skipped to the end because we only had two people, you are definitely missing out.