When I'm at the Pearly Gates This Will Be on My Videotape
|The Higher the Dome the Closer to God|
If you've never seen Thom Yorke perform that From the Basement I highly recommend it. He is a genius, and a poet, and I wish I could see the way his mind works. The man created a lyric about Mephistopheles for god's sake. Intelligence is sexy. I bet Oxford kicks itself every time it’s mentioned they denied him a place. A modern day English poet with not enough accolades.
But alas this is not a post espousing Thom Yorke's status as a living God. Sufjan Stevens also, sort of, wrote a lyric (open to interpretation) about viewing your life through video ("I have loved you for the last time. Is it a video? Is it a video?"). Mystery of Love and Visions of Gideon would be the soundtrack to the start of an old relationship. Foreshadowing much? To real life Armie Hammer, not Oliver. But back to being at the pearly gates, if God did exist what do you think would be on yours's?
As a literary concept I am fascinated by it. I especially love the trope that because you’ve loved someone so much you’ve angered the gods and they must take that love away. When I was a little kid I wanted to believe in polytheism. But as a practical one it doesn’t gel. I don't believe we are judged at the end of our lives. I don't believe anything happens after we've breathed our last breath. We just cease to exist. All that life that you lived gone in the blink of an eye. Your memories, your thoughts, every moment you have lived, dead along with the synapses firing in your brain.
But my belief in that has never stopped me from living a just, virtuous, or moral life. Ethnically I'm Irish and Spanish so I come from a long line of Catholic Guilt. Wouldn't it be fascinating if it went from learned to an inherited trait? Any way I've never needed a dangling carrot on a stick to force me to be good. I believe that if we have to coexist together the least we can do is not be assholes. It's pretty simple. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I may not be religious but it's not exactly a difficult tenet to live by.
The only thing I will look back on my life and question is whether I caused harm to Christian Kinnersley. If my hell loop existed that would be the guilt I would need to overcome in order to ascend. But I placate myself, by telling myself, nothing compares to the damage I endured. After all nothing I did unto others compared to what was done to me. Am I immoral for choosing selfishness or pettiness in that instance? I don't know the philosophical answer to that, but I do know the reason I question myself, or feel guilt over it, is because I am inherently a good person. I do my best to live a moral life, but no one is perfect. To err is human. I have always tried to right my wrongs. If that’s the only guilt in my life then I’ve lived a pretty scrupulous one. The fact that it weighs heavy on me is enough to know that at the end my points will add up to show, that despite it, I was a good human.
But enough with my moral conundrums and inner reflections. Philosophy and Ethics is unfortunately one of those things where you just go around and around. There are far too many tenets, and to much pontificating, to ever truly find “the answer”. Thousands of years later and we still look to Socrates.
The French were obsessed with philosophy. I think everyone gets a copy of Camus when they're born. It would explain why it is in everyone's house. I say were because those cliché debates in a Paris café are something I have never actually seen or been apart of. Maybe they died out in the 60's, who knows. I don't exactly hang out in the Latin Quarter. But there is a reason the existential Frenchman is a cliché.
If you ever want to feel at home amongst the old thinkers, while contemplating consciousness, and what makes a just life, you should spend some time at the Pantheon. The final resting place for all of France's greats. I haven't been since 2014 but it's not like things change.
And if you care to learn more about France's great contributions to the philosophy community you can find books by Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Sartre, Comte, Camus, Dederot, the list is endless. The French are very proud of this so you can find English translations in Gibert Jeune or wherever you shop for books.
Though not French (but claimed) I liked Rousseau’s Confessions. Although I guess that’s not surprising. In University we’re meant to study snippets of each philosopher and go from there. I fully recommend that way of introduction. If starting off on your own is a daunting task, Yale, Edinburgh, Oxford, and Sorbonne all have online courses if you prefer to try your hand that way. Personally I prefer edX, which are courses from Harvard and MIT. I use them a lot. What can I say, I love learning.
Everyone should, at some point in their lives, study the great philosophers. Unfortunately there are a lot of them. If you weren't lucky enough to take classes at Uni, there's no time like the present to start. I studied Philosophy in conjunction with World Religions, which is very enlightening (all the ideas are the same they just have different labels), but you don't even have to start off with the Greeks. I would recommend it to see how the ideas evolved over time, but it's not a requirement. Find what speaks to you and go from there. Using France as inspiration is a great place to start. It can even help you understand what makes the French tick. After all these are ideas that have passed down from the centuries, and are concepts that have molded their culture, beliefs, and way of life.
And if you want to fit in make sure to order your copy of L’Étranger. It totally explains why the French are so selfish. Besides no French home is complete without one. If you don’t have a copy are you even French?