Sayings of the Buddha and the Gospels

So I recently started reading some of the sayings of the Buddha because, really, what else do I have to do?

I was struck by how similar his sayings are to the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels.  Take, for example, one of the most troubling parts of the New Testament for many people, Jesus’s warning that we have to hate our family (In Luke 14:25 et seq, for example).  There are all kinds of readings of this, one of the most common is that it’s a test of our faith.
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All Your Philosophical Problems are Belong to Us: Wittgenstein Shows Philosophy the Door

So, I’ve been a bit obsessed with Wittgenstein lately.  Once you understand the guy’s arguments, though, it’s pretty hard to shake them.  There are no philosophical problems, we find, only empirical, aesthetic/moral (not moral philosophy, mind you), and logical ones.

The gist of his thinking is that the meaning of most words are determined by human behavior.  Some words are not.  We are tempted into believe that words that are determined by human behavior are like those words that are not.  Take, for example, the classic “is my color red the same as your color red” problem.  He shows us that the phrase “my color red” is nonsense, as in it doesn’t mean anything, like the word shnibble.  The concept is simply not something that we can speak about, as “my experience of the color red” has no shared referant to ground the communication.  We fall victim to the illusion because the grammar of the word “red” is like the word “chair,” but, alas, common grammar means nothing for our purposes.  For more, check the Mark Alford website (a physicist whose website I have been reading compulsively in a desparate attempt to understand quantum mechanics) out or this alternately annoying and hilarious (as per the usual) David Foster Wallace essay.
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Vancouver

First thing I noticed was the seagulls.

Fatter, stronger, etc., than any seagull I’m used to!

You’d think they get self-conscious or cocky about it or something, but then you remember that they’re just seagulls, so they probably don’t think about these things too much.

It also rains a lot. I also noticed that. I think the seagulls notice it too since they fly around and kind of hide in window ledges looking inside with cocked heads to see what we’re up to, like “what are you doing in there?”

When the sun comes out, the sky is gold and red and rainbows from all of the rain. I also think the seagulls notice this. They start hopping around on the edges of buildings more and flying and peeking in windows less. They probably figure it’s going to rain any minute, so I had better get my hops in while I can.


Dispatch from the home front: Financial District

The streets all smell like gasoline. Many are still wet. Some are covered in sand–sand, on the island of no beaches.

The traffic jams of black cars and dark suits have been replaced by ConEd trucks and haz-mat suits. Read the rest of this entry »


Dispatch from the home front: hurricane watch

Sandy’s coming to town. Hey girl.

Red Hook is mostly deserted, the blocky homes and project buildings and warehouses quiet but for the steady sibilance of the wind. Even though we’re in an evacuation zone, we see the occasional straggler, and I’m certain that the walls here shield plenty of stubborn souls. The streets are littered with yellow leaves and fragments of trees. Road signs quiver, wobble in the wind. Power lines undulate. Our jeans speckle at first before clinging to our knees, shiny. My vision is mottled by the droplets on my glasses; I squint but it doesn’t help much. Everything is grey grey grey.
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Friday Nights

The girl in the flip flops
heels in hand
teeters down the city’s streets
a slumped shoulder dangling a handbag


Dispatch from the home front: Labor Day morning

It’s beautiful and grey out today. The breeze swirls the flag outside my apartment and sends gusts of wind through my living room window.

Last night, I woke up at around 3 in the morning to rain and a faint sound of knocking. I realized that Adam, a friend staying for the weekend, must have gotten locked out.

After I let him in, I had a hard time falling back asleep. The channels of my brain throbbed from the whiskeys I drank earlier in the evening. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by The Shirelles played in an endless loop through my mind at an obnoxious volume.
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