Why Know?

2015-10-29 Learning img01

I came across the following cartoon on Facebook not too long ago:

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This cartoon makes a number of points: That history, for instance, is memorized only because children are forced to do so. That memorizing takes forever. That knowledge pooled from memory and from Google are “technically” indistinguishable. That, given that paradigm, school is futile and even cruel. (In “But torture builds character,” one also hears an echo of Calvin’s father and his outdoor excursions.) Also, given that paradigm, that by memorizing facts rather than searching Google whenever one is curious, one gains nothing.

I hope that recently I’ve answered that second complaint, the erroneous belief that memorizing is laborious and time-consuming. In that same post, I also mentioned that “the purpose of knowing countless facts off the top of one’s head is a question for another day.”

Today is that day. Continue reading

Pursuing Truth, Part 3: The Garden is Dead, Cultivation Lives On

2015-10-22 Natural img02In certain subsets of our culture, there is a common assumption that “natural” is better than “artificial”, leading to waves of rejection of anything seen as “unnatural”. For example, consider Chipotle’s controversial rejection of GMO ingredients, Aldi’s decision to not use synthetic food dyes, or any number of food or “back to nature” blogs. If the appeal to nature is taken as an absolute, it is easily disproven to all but the most stubborn. It should be self-evident that eating dirt or manure (even if it is free range and certified organic) is inferior to eating Cheez-its. Continue reading


2015-10-15 Parnassus img01I didn’t look upward, but I was going that way. The air was damp. The cold, rough rungs were all I saw, all I dared see. I was afraid, too afraid to tremble—afraid that if I stopped to rest or to look for the walls of the shaft in the darkness, the rungs would crumble loose, their anchors give way.

I climbed for hours. Weary. I kept climbing. I didn’t know why. I couldn’t even remember where I’d started, when I’d started, any time before I’d started. Always climbing, and that was all. All that existed for me was one steel rung, then the next, and the next. Maybe I would see stars again, if I would just keep going. Continue reading

Songs About Nothing: Rachel Platten and Postmodern Art

2015-10-12 Platten img01What do Rachel Platten, Marianas Trench, and avant-garde sculpture have in common?  Postmodernist tendencies to self-referential exposition.

One of GoodTrueBeautiful’s authors exposes the dangers of postmodern art and its hidden moral claims in an article published recently by The Federalist:

[“Fight Song”] is [Rachel Platten’s] “take back my life song” and “prove I’m alright song,” but the song does not do these things. It only claims it is doing them. As much as I enjoy “Fight Song,” I have to recognize it for what it is: not a song, but the idea of a song.

Read more: Like All Postmodern Artists, Rachel Platten Makes A ‘Fight Song’ About Nothing

Word Choice

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A word is a form blessed with the breath of life
Pregnant with meaning, the gifting-syllables
Shaping minds, scribing thoughts, and shifting hearts
In air, in ink, in ether

One word is not another, nor cannot be
How else to know the thing signified?
Then mind you the flavor, the texture, and taste
Words frame the deed, so speak in accord

Say sorrowful, not sad
Longing, not pining
Wistful, not down
Pensive, not quiet

A rose by any other name a rose may be
But Rose is the name we know from old
Storied, rich, bursting in glory
Choose not a lesser title for a greater flower

Say joyful, not happy
Charmed, not pleased
Enchanted, not interested
Delighted, not glad

What pedestrian measures should tread the tongue
When grander, lusher, still sweeter verba will serve?
Settle not for stale in all your speech
But have a care for plenty, euphony, and spirit in truth