Category Archives: Philosophy

Absurdity at Work

Each day, 22,000 people die from cancer worldwide. Each one of us has been affected in some way or another by this horrible disease. That is insane.

No Shave November is a month long commitment to forego shaving as a means of promoting the cause of cancer research and preventative awareness. That is absurd and hilarious.

I personally find that the pursuit to find meaning in the tumultuous lives we lead can often be resolved with good humor. No Shave November is a fascinating case study of absurdity at work – allowing something as mundane and routine as hair growth to literally save lives.

In the spirit of absurd humor, I used No Shave November as a platform to create a humorous short about mutton chops. It will premiere online on November 30th.

I ask that if you find this to be something interesting, engaging, humorous, weird, stupid, or if you have no opinion about my hair growth, that you consider donating to or sharing my No Shave November campaign.

Exhibits of the New Sincerity and Mass Audience Appeal

The following essay served as my final paper in History of Digital Media at Towson University:

The New Sincerity is a bourgeoning philosophy devised to combat the pessimism and cynicism found in post-modernism and the popular culture of the twentieth century. A variety of alternative philosophies have also come to light, including post-post-modernism and metamodernism, but in my opinion, the New Sincerity has more compelling arguments for a uniquely modern mode of philosophical thought. Whereas postmodernism focuses on the loss of meaning in the signifier and the hybridization of ideas, the New Sincerity focuses on authenticity and sincerity in one’s ideas. In the twenty-first century pop culture mediums of film, television, music, animation, and internet-based media, we can see this idea becoming increasingly apparent. However, we can trace these ideals to as early as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in the 1960’s and compare them to their modern depiction in Adventure Time, introduced in 2008.

Freelance journalist and educator John Fitzgerald states that the New Sincerity’s emphasis on sincerity and authenticity creates opportunities for discussions of morality in modern American society (28). Whereas post-modernism was marked by decades of cynicism, degrees of pessimism, and detached irony, the New Sincerity seeks to resolve those issues for a new generation. The popular culture of today is rife with depictions of changing morals in the arenas of music, television, literature, and film, dealing with topics of family values, religion, patriotism, and self-esteem (Fitzgerald 4).

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Fears, Dreams and Self-Examination

Most nights when I try to sleep, I’ll end up rolling around in bed, staring at the ceiling. After enough time has passed and my mind begins to wander, I find myself thinking about how vulnerable people are when they sleep. One of my more rational fears is that of alien abductions. Psychologists and neurologists can attribute alien abduction stories to sleep paralysis and other sleep disorders, but that doesn’t stop the fact that there is an infinitesimal chance there is life on other planets. And because there are infinitesimal opportunities for alien existence, there is an infinitesimal chance they are traveling the universe by now. Given these clear statistics, I have no qualms in saying that I fear aliens climbing in my windows and snatching my people up.

I’m describing my fears to you to attempt to get at a larger, more universal idea. What are people TRULY scared of? Yes, I realize that most people are not scared of being abducted by aliens, but in some people this translates to being kidnapped or mugged. All of these are examples of being vulnerable or losing control in a situation.

I once listened to a podcast interview with John Carpenter (the link is dead at the moment, but hopefully it comes back up), the director of Halloween and The Thing, where he talks about why his films are so beloved among horror aficionados. Carpenter noted that all great horror films feature two types of universal fear: fear of losing control and fear of the unknown. When you consider Halloween, the viewer quickly sees these two fears realized. Laurie has lost control of the situation; Michael has intruded into the house and she has no chance of saving the children she was tasked with babysitting. On top of that, Michael is a masked killer who seemingly materialized from nowhere. These two fears are crystallized onscreen in what has become revered as one of the greatest horror films of all time.

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Truth in Art (Yeah, I’m Going There)

Towards the end of this semester, I had made up my mind that advertising wasn’t for me. Sure, it’s a viable career path, it’s something I personally feel that I’m good at, and it definitely interests me in a lot of ways. However, when I look at current trends in advertising, I see that a lot of the creativity I love about advertising is beginning to fall away. The basis of advertising, to sell, has always reigned supreme and it is increasingly destroying advertising as an art form and platform for discussion. When I think about my favorite advertisements, there is an element to them aesthetically or story wise that sets them apart as being REAL and HONEST.

I love the scene in Mad Men where they discuss Volkswagen’s Lemon ad because it speaks to this subject so well. The men discuss the flaws of the ad, its humor value, and whether or not it actually “sells” the car, all of which lead Don to conclude that the ad works. Why? Because it leads to discussion. In my mind, that is what good art does. It prompts the viewer to ask questions and participate in debate.

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Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

The following is a speech I gave introducing the category of “Documentary” at LKT’s Halfway There Festival at Towson University:

In 1980, at the premiere of documentarian Errol Morris’s first film Gates of Heaven, director Werner Herzog boiled and ate his shoe in front of a live audience. What would prompt a man to eat his own shoe, you ask? Herzog himself explains the logic behind the decision, “It should be an encouragement to all of you who want to make films and are just too scared to start… and who haven’t got the guts.”

Allow me to take a step back and explain. Herzog had noticed Morris’s incredible ability to find story material and to interpret it. The man was a genius who had yet to realize his full potential. We’re talking about the guy who went on to make The Thin Blue Line and Fog of War. In order to encourage him to get ANY film made, Herzog offered to Morris that if he could ever complete a single film, he would eat his shoes.

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A Polemic

This post is dedicated to all janitorial workers who are fed up cleaning the same shit every day. For the last 3 years, I have cleaned the bathrooms at my place of employment. This occurs 3 to 4 times a week. Every single time I clean, I am disturbed by the lack of natural human decency I would expect all people to have. The floor of this bathroom has a urine puddle, roughly 6 inches in diameter, that is wet, day after day, 24/7. How is this possible, you may ask?

Here’s my theory. An individual enters the bathroom and sees the puddle. Rather than widen their stance to avoid the puddle and get closer to the urinal, the individual steps back a foot and proceeds to dribble, splash, and void themselves all over my floor. Some people choose to ignore using the urinal and instead choose the toilet. Once again, day after day, I discover massive amounts of dried urine caked to the toilet seat. In a bathroom that has a urinal a foot away.

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Attempting to see from someone else’s perspective has always fascinated me. When you think about it, there are a LOT of people on this planet. Seriously. Stop and think about it for a second.

I’ll wait.

Yah done? Okay. Now think about what it must be like to be someone that… isn’t you. Your roommate. Your siblings. That Wal-Mart greeter you passed by and didn’t acknowledge. What must his day be like? He stands at the entrance, waving to passerby’s, maybe half of whom ever respond. That’s his entire job. He’s likely retired. Maybe he doesn’t even need the money, he just wants to get out of the house because he is bored. He probably people-watches, judging them as they enter the store based on their dress, or maybe their responses. He probably tries to see things from their perspectives.

Continue reading and Perspective