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6 Nov 2019 Lecture Review

I attended a lecture this evening which I was very excited to see -a Muslim speaker from the UK defending the idea of faith from the irrationality of atheism. Lovely, as I feel most mafuccas need more Jesus (or one of his archetypal counterparts) in their lives.
I was disappointed.
Right from the get-go as one of the “lucky” 20 early arrivals I “won” a t-shirt but could only claim it if I signed some forms denoting how I could wear it and what purposes I could use it for. I realized that this was going to be a highly-politicized thing and not a good faith talk about reconciling faith and rationalism.
Needless to say I passed on the shirt for this reason and also because all my t-shirts say “Nicaragua” or “San Juan del Sur” on them and I wouldn’t wanna deviate from a working formula.
I listened intently to speaker when he came on and did my best to follow his arguments, but he chained together a lot of words whose meanings I know, but whose combined meanings I had to think about for a second. Now English is my first language and I know my way around some big words, but guy was tripping ME up at certain point with his verbose bombast and jargon, so I doubt that the broader audience – a lot of international students and people taking their first crack at post-secondary- were picking it all up. (Keep this in mind)
At halftime Q&A I asked him about his earlier assertion that there was no connection between “truth and survival”. First I asked if that was his contention or if it was something he said while laying out the position of his opponents. He said it was his contention.
SO I then asked him a specific question about his example, his example being: “If we were all dropped in the forest and I said ‘all mushrooms are poisonous’ and nobody ate them, we would have a better chance of survival, even though my statement is not true.”
I asked him if he thought that this was actually proof of the lack of connection between truth and survival or if it was a problem regarding the level of analysis -for example, was that little lie about all mushrooms being poisonous nested in a larger order truth about needing to make ‘one size fits all’ rules to ensure maximum survivability? He evaded this question and moved on. I was disappointed, but it was destined to get worse.
For part 2 of the talk he quoted a verse from the Quran which laid out four possibilities for creation:
You were created from:
1) Nothing
2) Yourself
3) Another creation (infinite regression as he termed it)
4) Uncreated creator
I asked him to clarify the importance of the word “Uncreated” in 4) and elaborate on how “Uncreated” differed from “Nothing.” It turns out that “nothing” is nothing and nothing can’t exist, whereas an “uncreated creator” is something and therefore can exist.
I can’t make this up, people.
The problem was not that his explanation was a purely semantical one (especially after he had condescended to an audience member for listening to his words and not his meaning), the problem for me was that he could have gone so many more interesting places with “Uncreated” -the threshold between being and not being where the rules bend and life is created; the “friction point” (no pun intended) where masculine leaves its impression on feminine and creation happens; a point on the cusp of being and not being.
But no. Uninspired, dogmatic, proselytizing semantics is what we got.
I also asked him to explain why we couldn’t have been created from another creator going back in perpetuity and why this eternal process of becoming and unbecoming couldn’t be considered God.
Well evidently because that was not what he had learned. No, God had to be a static thing.
Now remember I said to keep in mind that a lot of his ostentatiously sophomoric word combinations were beyond the reasonably expected level of comprehension? Well, the most avid of commenters, two older gentlemen up front who seemed to to be comprehending him as well as me, took him to task for his unfounded and recklessly-made claims. He not only evaded but also began condescending to them for their faith in the scientific method. I forget the term he used, but it was some slur for rationalism, “scientism”perhaps….
Then he took a moment to (and I fucking cannot stand this) read off the names of books that we the audience should all read, finishing with “and then come talk to me.”
Yes, he literally said that. He told us to go educate ourselves. The college paid money to bring this guy to speak. It was fucking embarrassing.
By this point my eyes were rolled into the back of my head and I’m pretty sure I had developed brain lesions for the stupidity of it all.
The piece de resistance though, and what made me finally walk out was that after giving us a reading list, he started ranting and condescending to us, repeating the phrase “Don’t believe what you see on youtube” and “Don’t believe the youtube philosophers”. There were other spontaneous utterances interspersed between these fallback slogans, but the whole thing seemed to me like he was trying to film a highlight sizzle reel for his own youtube intros. I walked out in disgust.
The whole thing seemed like a calculated attempt to polarize people against Muslims through smug, self-assuredness; there’s a lot of this polarization on yt because by rousing up the most ignorant of you intellectual opponents to be the most vocal, you can then classify all of your opponents thusly. Transparent as hell!
Oh, and I’m not big fan of Richard Dawkins, but this jokester spoke the man’s name as if he was on his level. He was not.
I’m glad I went, but I will never attend a talk by this guy again. Nor will I provide his name.
Dear Muslim Society of Georgian, please aim higher. There are so many great compassionate, humble, erudite Muslim speakers you could have invited, but you chose a smug, preening, psuedo-intellectual who covers for his ignorance with big words and who wears what his what he knows like an ill-fitting suit.
I invited a Christian couple to this event, and I would have been embarrassed if they had been able to attend.
PS: Real conversation as I left
Organizer who had invited me: “Yo bro how was it”
Me: “Well I ‘m glad I came, but I decided to leave when he started insulting the audience.”
Org: “I can’t talk about it”
Me: “You just asked me, though”
Org: “I’m not allowed to talk about it.”
Me: “So you don’t want to know how it was?…”
Org: ……
Me: “Ok, well have a good night.”
Can’t make this shit up!

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Naivete and The Lonely Road called "Follow-Through"

Last night I infiltrated a group of criminals who had some vague plans for crime (go figure).  As I worked with them I began to laugh and joke with them and respect them as people.  Suddenly my plan to bring them to justice became complicated.
I think this is the problem for those who want to “change things from the inside;” to get inside you necessarily have to conform with norms.  When and if you finally get into a position where you have influence over the way things are, you have likely become so ingratiated to and dependant on how the way things are that you balk at change.

Essentially, you become “Toruk Makto”

My Friends,
  Two evenings ago I attended an alumni mixer for my alma mater.  It was a pleasant affair, with free drinks and food. Had I known that being alumni would have such perks (recent alum are also being offered a free course which I will not be able to take advantage of due to travel plans) I would not have taken 7 years to graduate.

-“A lot of people go to college for seven years.”
‘-Yeah, they’re called “doctors” ‘

Although I had fun and met some cool people I kind of felt like an odd man out.  Most people there who were my age (26 going on 27) had already not only graduated, but done a post-graduate degree, law school, and/or started a career.  In fact, many people a lot younger than me were already finishing up grad school and starting careers.  Bearing that in mind I was a little self-conscious when people asked me about myself.  Now for the record, I try to ignore social pressure. or the idea that my life should conform to some idea or some schedule, but I can’t help it sometimes; I feel like I have to qualify myself to others for their approval.  That said, the people I talked to were not there to impress or outdo each other, as they are in certain engagements I have previously attended, but instead listened attentively without trying to one-up me.  It was an unexpected relief, but it was a relief that came with its own set of problems.
   While speaking with one gentleman we got on to the topic of me (a field I consider myself an expert in) and through the course of conversation he learned about some of my exploits, works in progress and future plans.  He seemed genuinely impressed and said quite earnestly, “wow, you’re like my hero.”  As much as I like to be appreciated, I handle it awkwardly sometimes.  I kind of just broke eye contact and mumbled something about how the trade-off for an adventure-filled life was being a 26 year-old undergrad with no career to speak of.  He reassured me that there was no rush and that given the chance to do things again, he probably would have taken time off like I did to gain some more life experience.  As encouraging as it is to hear that someone admires your lifestyle, you still have to wonder why more people don’t do what is apparently so admirable, namely taking their sweet ass time with growing up and getting a real job.*
   I don’t think its fear, as that would imply that I am somehow braver than others.  Not the case.  I can say without exception that the most important adventures I have had in my life have been terrifying for me either for the inherent danger or the abysmal loneliness. (more on loneliness later)
   I don’t think its aversion to travelling or adventures either, as most people I talk to seem to view the general idea of “travel” as a universally positive thing.  
   In a lot of cases, especially among younger folk I think there is a problem with being beholden to someone else for your livelihood.  Parents tend to canalize the aspirations of their children and shoehorn them through the path of least resistance so that the children can propagate the cycle of maturity-breeding-dying in an expedient and streamlined manner.  And when these parents hold the purse-strings (ps travelling can cost money), the dependant has to play on their terms even if their inclinations are contrary to the the beaten path.
   In spite of the allusion to expense I just made, I don’t think that cost is a big deterrent.  While travelling  can be expensive, it by no means has to be.  Certainly adventures can be had on the cheap just by finding a “No Entry” sign and entrying entering.
Everything happens in high-definition beyond the “No-Entry” sign

And let’s be honest, when has cost ever deterred people from pouring money into something with no foreseeable financial return?  Dining out, movies, automobiles …. people are well accustomed to dropping money into things that aren’t profitable.
   I could continue speculating but ultimately everyone is different and they all have their reasons for what they do or don’t do.  Yet whatever it is that deters people from taking the scenic route in life it has left me feeling kind of alienated.  As I prepare to go hitch-hiking around the globe this Septober I can’t help but wish I had a travelling companion; someone else with a cavalier attitude toward the daily grind who would take six months to traipse about the globe simply cause it makes good sense.
Why do what most do? Do what you s’poseto…

But instead I am forced to go it alone again.
   Getting back to the title of this entry, I have a certain naivete that, while inconvenient, has served me well.  Essentially, I take people seriously.  When someone has an awesome idea my reaction is typically “let’s make that about to happen.”  But depending on how much time and effort the idea will take they will put it off or disavow it completely while I remain enchanted by the prospect and resolved to do it.
   Most of my greatest adventures weren’t my ideas.
   Compounding this problem is the fact that I am averse to bullshit; If I said I’m going to do it I’m going to do it or at least give it the old college try.
“Your word was everything, so everything you said you’d do, You DID It
couldn’t talk about it if you ain’t live it”
I am very afraid to go around the world by myself but I am even more afraid to be called out for talking shit.  I am most afraid of putting off indefinitely something I want to do because it is inconvenient or dangerous. (that’s a slippery slope)  Fear can be a powerful motivator I suppose.  But if its my fear that enables me to face my fears then so be it; I’ll go it alone taking what solace I can in the fact that others would have liked to be there with me but they were just too brave.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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