Contemplation

An Accumulation of Random Thoughts Upon Random Thoughts

A casual post with zero consistencies to the stuff that I write in between asterisks. This was the post where I write a few paragraphs and stop. It has been sitting around as a draft for the last six months, so I’m just going to throw it out there. Some of these writings includes things that inspires me, random stories, disc golf, philosophy, decolonization, psychoanalysis, my views on academia, and other random things. I reorganized some of the sections so they flow better. I also didn’t spend much time editing because I am too tired from work these days. 🙂

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The Simulations of Bobby’s Identity

The other day, I was thinking about how some people reads this blog as if it completely represents who I am as a person. While much of my writings on here reflects a lot of my internal thoughts and who I am intellectually, I often find it alienated from who I am in reality. It reminds me of Jean Baudrillard’s thoughts on simulacra and simulation, where he spoke about Borges fable and how cartographers mapped out their empire with precision. Yet over time, the empire falls into ruins and new empires are formed. Reality changes, but the map remains the same. Where reality initially functioned as the foundation for the map, it is now the map (simulation) which establishes the foundations for reality (I wrote about this here).

Does this blog function as the foundations for who I am over when you meet me in reality? Does it function as the basis of assumptions about me over what you perceive of me in real life when you talk to me? I often—or sometimes—find this to be the case. I’ve also known people who snoops on this blog and pretend they never read anything, but “knows everything about me” (why are y’all so crEeeeeePy? It’s a joke, I don’t care Lol). In the past, there were people who came to many erroneous assumptions about me through this blog. Other times, they think I am writing about them which is not always an accurate assessment (unless I specifically mention it). It is true that I sometimes write about things that are inspired by people and events that goes on in my life (who isn’t?). But I only do so in a way that is detached from said person or life event in an objective way. I do this because I believe that these events and people are those who taught me certain things in life that are worth thinking about.

Am I everything that I’ve written on here? Partially, yes. But never entirely. I think many people likes to jump to conclusions about me which is a big mistake (jumping to conclusions is the culprit of humanity in general). If people were to read this blog 5 or 10 years from now, will they continue to see all my old posts as the basis for who I am? Not to mention that I don’t 100% embrace everything that I write on here (for example, I don’t embrace myself as an INTJ, MBTI typology; or enneagrams—even if I published a post about the INTJ). To conceive of Bobby’s identity through this blog would be a fatal mistake. Yet, it is also one of the few places where people can understand some of my passions and who I am as a person.

With all this said, I almost never talk about the things I write on this blog with any of my friends and family unless they take interest in them. This is because I know philosophy is not a very good table conversation for most people. It is difficult, complex, which often reveals the darker sides of humanity and truths that no one wants to hear. Instead, I usually try to talk about everyday people topics where my speech is riddled with fluent sarcasm along with a bit of irony, hyperbole, and exaggerations.

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20th Century French Philosophy

20th century France was an intellectual powerhouse where many renown philosophers took over academia. The most well known from the bunch is Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Helene Cixous, Louis Althusser, Jean Baudrillard, Georges Bataille, and Alain Badiou (I missed a few). Together, these people formed an intellectual arena populated by numerous debates while influencing each other at the same time.

Many people take interest in these figures not only because nearly all of them were incredibly influential, but because they had all these dramas that went on between them. Deleuze and Guattari published a book called Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia that Lacan banned from his institution and told his students to not read it (in reality, D&G actually agrees with Lacan on quite a few points; D&G are not as harsh of a critic on Lacan as people say—imo). Lacan was like a cult leader of sorts. At the beginning, his public lectures only had few students which eventually got jam packed with people. He was always like a performer in his lectures which I found hilarious (there are videos of his lectures on YouTube). Lacanian psychoanalysis was really influential which set up the landscape of intellectual thought in 20th century (this is also true for people like Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Friedrich Nietzsche, G.W.F. Hegel, and Sigmund Freud). Slavoj Zizek, a contemporary Hegelian-Lacanian is well known for popularizing Lacan’s works. Meanwhile we have our boy Jean Baudrillard who is still existing through hyperrealities.

The debates that went on between these figures—which continues to exist among their followers—are nuanced and requires specialized skill and knowledge to understand. Not to mention that these people are incredibly hard to read in their own ways which means that learning their ideas are not easy. In order to understand them, it is important that readers have a fluid understanding in the history of modern philosophy which began in 17th century Netherlands (you also need to understand some ancient Greek philosophies).

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Students of Jacques Derrida

Some of the most well known students of Derrida are incredible thinkers in their own right. There is Martin Hagglund, whose reading of Derrida is surprisingly similar to my own. Though I think his attempts at fusing time consciousness and psychoanalysis requires reworking. Geoffrey Bennington is another well known Derridean whose work I enjoy reading—especially his interpretations on Immanuel Kant. Then there is Catherine Malabou, who I think is one of the brightest French intellectuals today. Much of Malabou’s ideas tries to fuse philosophy and science together—particularly neuroscience and various aspects of psychoanalysis while going beyond it (i.e. death drive and unconscious mind). I often find a lot of Derridean inspired themes and allusions in her works, which I enjoy. She is also a great writer who is really clear. One of my mentor who got me into French philosophy, her PhD advisor was Catherine Malabou (they are good friends in real life). Her other two advisors were Geoffrey Bennington and Alain Badiou which was quite an all star line up.

There are a few more well known students of Derrida, such as Barbara Cassin who is really good. I remember reading one of her book where she criticized Google search engine and page rank. Anne Dufourmantelle is also really good and is particularly well known for her book published with Derrida called Of Hospitality. This essay became really famous which talks about the function of hospitality when we confront the other (person). Dufourmantelle’s philosophy privileges taking risks in life. Unfortunately, she died a few years ago from (taking a risk) trying to save two children who got caught in a storm. Finally, there is Jean-Luc Nancy who also recently passed away, but is a really well known student of Derrida. He is super hard to read, but incredibly good. I have only touched on his works here and there during grad school days and may revisit it in the near future.

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Thoughts on Academia

I was someone who went from nearly bombing high school to becoming a straight A student decorated with fancy awards that I don’t care about. In the past, I expressed my distaste for contemporary academia and the way university and institutions do things along with all their politics. Getting a PhD is a huge time investment. I think anyone can do what a PhD does. I’ve met people without degrees who are just as smart and intelligent as any PhD (smarter). While degrees and fancy awards can highlight someone’s achievements (things which they should be proud of), it doesn’t mean much at the end. Back then, I was some random guy who had no academic background and audited random courses (I came from a design degree which was hands on and not research based). When I started my MA degree, some professors thought I was a PhD student who was writing my dissertation due to how much I know (they were surprised that I was only a Masters student). I’m not flexing or saying that I am smart. What I am trying to say is that anyone can get into grad school if they have enough determination, passion, commitment, and will power. Just because someone doesn’t go to school or once failed in school doesn’t mean they are a failure or not smart.

It was grad school which taught me that I can help more people understand really difficult and influential ideas by writing on my blog than a jargony essay that gets published in journals kept behind paywalls. And even if there were no paywalls, people wouldn’t understand any of the jargons most scholars write anyway. People might not know, but I learn just as much writing on here as those who reads it. I see the world very differently from most people. Maybe I will start a really big book project and get it published one day. Though I don’t think I have sufficient knowledge and life experience to start something this big yet.

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Being Ahead of Time

When I was in grad school, I was always 3-4 weeks ahead of all my classes’ reading schedule and workload. I have most of my final research papers done 2-3 weeks in advance (they are long 10000+ word papers). This allows me to “finish school” earlier than the semester actually is. Anyone who gone through grad school knows that the workload is insane. But I often blasted through most of them early in the semester so I won’t have to worry about it later. I was a pretty efficient student. I wasted no time in the beginning of the semester because I want to maximize my free time. This is actually my way of being “lazy” which is to get all the stuff done fast so I can maximize my time doing nothing. Thinking back, I pretty much cruised through my MA degree with relative ease. It was getting into the program that was the most difficult. Everything else was straight forward.

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On Decolonization

In case you want a quick answer as to why I think decolonization is not possible. None of the things we do in our cultures are natural. From the first humans who colonized Nature by producing tribes, cultures, cities, languages, art, technology, or whatever that you can think of. Colonial violence lives at the heart of all human civilizations due to human interpretation of Nature and producing things that are unnatural which usurps the latter (it would be as Rousseau might say where nature denatures itself which makes culture simultaneously natural and unnatural). Colonialism is a subtle, paradoxical, and originary violence that happens every day—even as you read this text. It is embedded deep within the act of interpretation and how external knowledge takes position of the internal subject. People who followed this blog might already understand my position (I hope) because I said this a billion times in different ways. 

I think all of this comes down to the definition of decolonization. For example, if the term means teaching young generations the violence of colonial history and bringing back lost traditions, then I think it’s a good thing—even if I argue that such teachings fundamentally operates as a form of colonial violence—just like any modes of interpretation, or how culture (or science) usurps nature. Furthermore, due to how colonial violence lives at the heart of interpretation, “decolonization” means that there was never anything decolonial about it except by its name. Thus, it makes little sense to call it decolonization despite its intentions to do good. With all this said, I think colonialism is problematic, even if it is impossible to avoid in our world today. Perpetual peace is not possible and violence will always exist. All we can do is minimize it by treating others with respect and understanding. As much as I would like to see colonialism as it is, the world is not as black and white as what most people think.

I still remember back when I was auditing an intro to literary theory course. Some PhD student was giving a lecture on deconstruction and postcolonialism. They pointed out how “deconstruction leads to decolonization”. While this is not a wrong interpretation, it’s a rather inconsiderate one. Personally, I think they were wrong. But that’s just what I think.

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…Tragic?

Back when I was in my final year of undergraduate studies, I had a clueless platonic relationship with a female friend. I’ve known her since I started post-secondary school and I used to have a big crush on her near the beginning when I met her. But she had a boyfriend at the time and I didn’t mind being friends—so I treated her as a friend because we were in the same classes everyday for 3 years. Overtime, she went through a few relationships and we continued to be good friends as we got to know each other. Coming to think about it, she is probably one of the few female friends I know who could finish some of my sentences (there are only a handful of people who can do this). She is one of the few people I know who understands my humor. When I crack my dumb jokes in a group, she would be the only who gets it and laughs. I recall one time when one of our friends was wondering if they should invite me to some party and X was like “Bobby would never show up, so don’t bother inviting him”. She told me afterwards which made me laugh because of how well she understands me. I would never show up because I am not a big party person. I like peace and quiet.

Near graduation, X was single and started showing signs of interest without me realizing. What kind of signs? Accepting my casual invites to take her out and do random things together, and her telling me how she defended me when she spoke to her friends about me, etc. Telling me how well she understands me—which is true. I thought of her as a friend because that is what I thought she just wanted to be.

At the time, there was another guy who was really interested in her. One day, he came up to me and asked: “Why don’t you go for X?”, I shrugged and I was like “What?”. I was confused as to what he meant. One year down the road, I finally understood what he meant and how he was a true gentleman for confronting me about it (I liked him more after that; X probably said something which made him ask me). They started dating shortly after and had been together ever since. I sometimes wish she would be upfront about her feelings. But none of this matters now. I am really happy for them. Even if I sometimes wonder what would happen if she told me how she felt. We are still friends, even if we never talk these days. She is really pretty and smart. She always had people chasing her and sending her flowers at work. But I’m over it. I just think back and have a good laugh at how stupid I was.

I think people should be more direct and say what they want. But nah, people like to use code words like “Netflix and chill”, or “lets hang out” only so they can end up calling you a “buddy”. X was the perfect example where we hung out only for me to realize that she intended them to be dates. I literally thought we were hanging out as friends. It only took me a little over a year to figure it out. Now it only takes me 10 months. Excellent progress!

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“Psychoanalysis is out of date”

I hear people say this a lot sometimes and it is not true. Psychoanalysis is not out of date. There are many organizations around the world that are devoted to psychoanalysis and continues to practice it. The discipline is sometimes considered as “pseudoscience” even when most analysts don’t necessarily consider their discipline as a science. Like philosophers, psychoanalysts are not trying to do science where everything needs to be evidence-based. Instead, psychoanalysis is based on practical experience and observations of people. This is actually what makes psychoanalysis psychoanalysis as such. It’s just about the only discipline that studies the influence and effects of the unconscious mind (there are however, emerging disciplines which seeks to converge science and psychoanalysis together which I find really cool).

Despite its controversial status, psychoanalysis has been influential among modern psychology. It offers a lot of insights that many psychologists would likely agree and build off of. For example, psychologists cannot deny that some of the most important things that occurs in our conscious mind happens outside of it (i.e. within the unconscious; or “subconscious”). This is probably one of the greatest contribution of psychoanalysis: we are thinking when we are not thinking about thinking. Psychoanalytic ideas like repetition compulsion and how people have urges to repeat certain behaviors is also crucial and related to many mainstream psychology disciplines. Then there is attachment theory which is heavily influenced by psychoanalysis (think, Melanie Klein). Furthermore, many psychologists can also agree that much of our current experiences and personalities are shaped by our childhood experiences.

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I am Human. I Have Emotions.

Often times, my feelings are not as important as the truth. I would rather hear a truth that hurts me than to not hear it at all. I feel very deeply—probably much deeper than what most people think or what my face suggests. Sometimes, my emotions are so powerful that they overwhelm me and take control (at that point, I just break down and cry lol). When I feel, it is very intense. And it is either I don’t feel anything, or I feel all of it at once.

I also often have trouble being emotional and logical at the same time, and it’s usually either one or the other. As I got older, I manage to wield both of them and learned to be more emotionally open to people who I would otherwise not be open to. It’s crazy because it sometimes turns me into a contradiction that freaks people out. Everything I say or write about, every single thought becomes reason and passion all at once.

I understand myself much better than most people understand me. Sometimes, I really want to change many core aspects of myself. But I realized that these are things which makes me who I am and I should cherish it—even if most people misunderstand or dislikes me for it. And most importantly, even if people hate or misunderstand me for who I am, I will treat them with infinite respect and forgiveness; because I think this is what we need most in our world today.

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My Disc Golf Endeavors

Last year, my friends took me to the Rocky mountains and introduced me to disc golf. They got me really hooked into the sport because it is really fun. Disc golf is basically ball golf that is played with flying discs. People often overlook how hard throwing these discs can be—especially if you want them to fly far and accurate. Unlike frisbee discs, disc golf discs are not designed to be caught. They are designed to fly (in the right hands and conditions, they can fly incredibly far and fast at over 80km/h). Each disc has its own flight ratings which tells you how it flies when you throw it up to its intended speed. Your form plays a big part on your accuracy and how far you can throw your disc. The distance of the throw is not really determined by strength—it is about speed and good timing. Throwing a disc well is about performing a series of well timed kinetic movements which transfers the energy generated from your legs, hips, shoulders and arms to your disc. You are basically turning your arm into a really fast whip. Having good form takes many years of practice for most people.

Ever since, I bought my own set of discs. I also go golfing in the mornings with a friend whenever I have time off work. I also enjoy golfing solo. I noticed that I play better when I am alone because I am more focused and not chatting with anyone. I still suck, but it’s okay. I’m a little better when not many people are watching me (too much pressure man Lol). I also started following professional disc golf tours and watched how all the pros play. I always try to beat myself every game and improve.

Disc golf can be therapeutic in the sense that it helps me clear my mind or whatever it is that I was thinking of. It helps me focus on the game and stop my mind from wandering too far off into the clouds or the depths of an idea; or forming connections between past, present, and future. It wasn’t until I started playing disc golf where I realized how much concentration and focus is required to make a good throw.

Buying discs became somewhat of an addiction of mine. This is probably because of me constantly wanting to try out new discs and have them fill certain roles throughout the course rounds. But I’ve been trying to limit myself to only getting the discs that I really need and am able to throw. I ended up upgrading my disc golf bag within a month of playing and have a full bag of discs to play with. Eventually, I upgraded again to a very expensive bag. It doesn’t cost much to start disc golfing…until you get addicted.

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About This Blog

Some time ago, Google news recommended my own blog on Derrida’s deconstruction on my phone. I laughed and said to myself, “I wonder who wrote that shit post?”. Thanks to all the random people who clicked on it and probably didn’t read it (and all the bots). My introductory posts on deconstruction and psychoanalysis are by far the most popular on this site. In fact, my writings on psychoanalysis are overtaking my writings on deconstruction. I’m not surprised, because psychoanalysis is a really cool discipline that will constantly make you go, “Oh shit, that is totally me”.

I also receive emails about these posts every once awhile. Sometimes, they are random questions. Other times, they are about how wrong I am or how they want to cite my work (I am flattered). When it comes to communication, I play by a simple rule: I always (eventually) respond to strangers who emails or messages me (except for scammers). For, how could there be meaning when there is no dialogue? How could there be truth when it is only me speaking? With this said, I disabled my comments on my blog to avoid moderating it (I’m lazy).

When I first started this blog a few years ago, I wanted it to be a place where I share my knowledge for free because I am not a big fan of turning knowledge (or anything) into commodities. I make no money from writing anything on here because I think money is dumb (yet I need it lol). I’m just here to provide my batshit crazy interpretations on what I think these philosophers that I am interested in are trying to say. In addition, I also didn’t want this blog to be professional with too much formality. I always wanted it to be casual and write whenever and whatever I want. I don’t like writing formally (yet, I am usually quite formal Lol). I prefer to be myself; even if I sometimes spew out some pretty “Wow, did he just say that?” kind of things because I tend to think without much social filter, rules, and limitations. Keep in mind that just because I write about these philosophical works does not always mean that I embrace their thinking. I adopt parts of their ideas and fit it into my own perspective. —Interpretation is reinvention.

Philosophy has taught me many things, from metaphysics, linguistic turn, the brilliance of art, all the way to the question of love, hospitality, forgiveness and how one should live. I admire those who takes on the challenge to read these difficult philosophical works. I have gone through the same path; and often find myself continuing on such path. It’s not easy and very frustrating at times. I knew several people who gave up reading Derrida and Lacan after the first few pages and I understand why. To be sure, philosophy doesn’t make you smart. It makes you wise and allows you to understand the bigger picture in ways that you have never imagined before. After all, “philosophy” literally translates as “Love of wisdom”. I honestly think that everything great in humanity comes from love. It is as Nietzsche would say, that which that is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.

If this blog helped you understand 20th century continental philosophy and difficult French writers, then I am happy to help. Once you start to unravel their ideas, thinking styles and familiarize yourself with 17th-19th century philosophies, you may recognize how intelligent they are. And once you understand them, you may realize that many of them are producing a “theory of everything”—such as the first principles of how people conceive reality, cultivate perspectives and different forms of truths. It is not just about “facts”, nor the causalities which produces facts as such (i.e. science), but how facts (knowledge), and truths are perceived by our conscious and unconscious mind through the infinite movements of space and time.

Lots to think about.

—B.

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