Saturday, May 7, 2016

DERICK SEARS: Laughing at Philosophy

As we develop, we start to ask questions. Not the sort of questions with easy answers, but the uncomfortable questions that look at life on a broader sense — the philosophical questions. I recently started reading from philosophers and listening to their talks or reading summaries of their work. There was discussions on gender binaries and other complex social issues; issues I will not go into detail too much with yet. I’d like to build my audience before I start to destroy it. The point is philosophy goes much further beyond just the enlightenment philosophers that I, and others, probably learned about in high school.

One of the Philosophers I took a liking to was Friedrich Nietzsche, the father of Nihilism. From what I understand, the foundation of Nihilism is facing and accepting death. We all die, and eventually, no matter how long after we're gone, our life will be forgotten by everyone still living. Once we as a society begin to accept this as fact, we will spend more time fixing what is wrong with earth instead of waiting for the “something better” that religions promise (This is based on what I have read. Do not assume my view is right. Go, explore for yourself. Be free). 

The main focus of Nihilism shows our insignificance. We do not matter, nor will we ever. Nihilism, Eternalism and Buddhism really walk among the same lines.  The first two are extremes of each other and  focus on meaning (eternalism — everything has meaning. Nihilism — nothing has meaning.). Buddhism tries to walk a fine line in between. Commonly, my perception is that it manages to sway easily to the nihilistic side of things. Regardless of the particulars, once I started to learn more about these ideals, it allowed me to sort of open up to new ideas. Nihilism caught my interest a lot, so I started to become more open to learning anything that sort of wracked my way of thinking. Incredibly challenging and weird things.

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I was working in the sound booth one day for a lecture in an auditorium. It just so happened that the lecturer’s presentation was called, “Buddhism and the Dark Comedy of Louis C.K.” The presenter genuinely had a discussion about how this comedian related to the teachings of Buddhism and Nihilism. Louis C.K. maintains a very dark level of humor. He jokes about death, growing old, and suffering all the time. 

In a crowd of 2,500 people, he had said that’s enough people [in the audience] to assume that they all wouldn’t survive the next 3 months. Someone in the group would probably die. What is really important to understand is that his comedy has a purpose. 

This is what I did not realize. Strip away the humor and look at what he’s saying. It’s that same things these other philosophical teachings preach. This lecture helped me realize that you don’t need to be an ascribed philosopher in order to present philosophical ideas and teachings. You don’t need a philosophy degree. You only need to have ideas, and a means to present them.

After this lecture I randomly decided to go to another comedy routine on campus. It was Trevor Noah. After this lecture, it immediately made me analyze his comedy. He talked about words and the power we give them. I was able to say, “Okay, beyond the jokes, what is he really saying?” It seems to me a bit arrogant, but i never considered comedy as a place to present ideas like that. Not that I’ve denounced it as such, but I never gave it the same consideration as theater or music, etc. 

It’s enlightening to think about. It helped me realize that every art form is a way to present ideas. They all have the potential. Not everyone treats their art form with that sort of justice. But it always has the potential to do something more. Philosophy can be funny, people. That’s awesome.

Derick Sears loves to dismantle his understanding of everything