Brief thoughts over coffee

October 11, at 1545 hours at Cafe Perugino, Eugene, Oregon.

There is not a cloud in the sky. It is the clearest blue. I have no doubt at all that should I climb to the top of Skinner’s Butte I should be afforded a view of the distant snow-capped peaks of Mt Jefferson and the Three Sisters. Oh how my heart stirs with the thought of being out in the chilly Autumn wilderness of Mt Jefferson.

I have come inside the cafe and have taken residence at the window table. The wind has picked up outside and is quite chilly. The wind stirs the tiny trees along the street’s median, causing the dappled sunlight to dance on my table on the deep, red brick wall beside me. “O Mio Babbino Caro” begins to play over the speakers and I am overcome with joy. My face spreads into a smile and I wave my arms. The counter staff emulate my pleasure, poking harmless fun at my obvious pleasure. I stop my reading simply to enjoy this moment, this time of rapturous joy. This is the stuff of life. Savor it, drink deeply. A woman walks by. I love the curls in her hair. A small potted plant sits on the table outside the window. I love the way the light clings around the delicate leaves like a luminous fur. The music swells and with it my heart. I love this moment. Outside on the street an elderly lady gets into her minivan and attaches a nasal cannula to herself before she drives off. Mothers walk small boys by my window to the tae kwon do class next door.

While walking here I had on my mind the question of memes. There is another attempt at the discussion of memes in an online philsophy community board. It hasn’t taken off yet. Utter even nonsense about virtue, morality, truth, ethics, knowledge, etc… and everyone debtes. Bring up something dealing in psychology and it is hardly noticed save by a few brave souls. penseuse came to mind. I shouldn’t narrow out only penseuse for the opinion isn’t soley his/hers alone. But perhaps a quick definition of psychology on my part, how I percieve it. There is philosophy, which is divided up into various concerns with many overlapping poitns to be sure. One can talk of social philosophy and one must pay visits occaisionally to the philosophical views of ontology, self/mind, and others. This isn’t to be picked apart or lamented, it is a testament to the marvelous complexities of everything. There are several who attack anything with philosophy or psychology or science attached to it. This doesn’t bother me really all that much. It is okay, for one should be able to approach an idea without classifying them, using stories and analogies instead of cold terms. But I stray.

A psychologist has many different modes. There are those that fill the ordrs and give the tests. To be sure they are psychologists and given the nature of the mind to construct patterns their input cannot be wholly ignored. There is also another type of psychologist, and it is of this class that I ascribe to be. This second form is different though not incompatable with the first. This type is firstly a philosopher, primarily of the mind. He/she becomes a psychologist when he/she tries to ascertain scientific methods of testing his/her philosophies. Without such tests it is only philosophy, with such tests it becomes science.

The comment has been given by some that science is the way to discover the truth and also by others that science cannot give the complete picture. I believe that there are elements of truth and untruth in both views, that science is a product of philosophy and it is up to philosophy to give us a tool better than science to ascertain relationships between things and events. But what sort of mind does this really matter for (the science/philosophy debate). Science is directed and passive, philosophy is active and directing. Science is a car while philosophy is the curiosity to seek out a new road. It should be noted that a car is not the only way to get someplace. The philosopher asks why, the poet romanticises it, the scientists explains it. It isn’t this simple though… for researchers will philosophize in their findings, philosophers (with their cats in boxes and fantastic scenarios) will design more logical relationships, poets will explain the reasons for their passion, physicists will wax poetically about the dance of the cosmos. Why the need to seperate the parts? Cannot one love, debate, live, express, detail, and fantasize?

Anyway, while walking with memes on my mind (sorry for the pun… this is funny), penseuse came to mind. I thought of his/her valid points but something struck me about them. There appears to be a definite social context in the points made. This isn’t bad. But I wonder if the social concerns of penseuse were taken out what shape would the arguments take?

An alternate mix of Dido’s song “Here With Me” comes on the speakers. It is hauntingly beautiful. It invokes all the longing within me, all of my need for love… to give and recieve it. But for no ordinary person, nor just a place filler. This hole is lacking only “her” but not necessarily “a” her. At least I do not think so, not now. I can and have lived happily without this piece. This thought gives me pause. Last winter I stood at the banks of a local pond in Alton Baker Park’s eastern end and calmly reflected on the beauty before me. At that time I was aware of my lonliness within me and I observed its coloring of my mood and my internal reactions to it. What I found troubled me. For my lonliness was for a person to reflect my uniqueness to, that by her being their with me I could see through her eyes the sort of person I was (hopefully good, thoughtful, intelligent, etc…). Again, this troubled me deeply and I sought for a sort of feeling of lonliness within me without this aspect to it. It is hard to nail down. But is this possible? Can this part be seperated from the complex of the mind? The quesiton is, is love anything more than the matching of personalities, a good fit, as it were. The first approach to this seems offensive because it is too readily implied that personality is a person’s behavior. But the question is broader. Take the question of Self. What is a self? This is one of those biggie philosophical debates and one that every psychologist should be part of on some level. I cannot imagine my dad asking this question and yet it is a common theme in my thoughts. I am of the opinion that the human condition involves several universal aspects, certain genotypes which are the self, while the resulting phenotype is the self (naturally) and the distinction between phenotypes is personality. My belief could be wrong, but that’s it in a nutshell. It goes without saying that such is result of interactions between genetics and environmental factors.

In the book I am reading “The Brothers Karamazov” Ivan talks to Alyosha over soup. Ivan is the intellectual athiest. He says “I love those stickily little leaves in the spring and the blue sky, thats what! You don’t love those things with reason, with logic, you love them with your innards, with your belly…”.

Another gem from Ivan is “The more stupidily we talk about these things, the closer we come to the point. Stupidity is brief and straight forward, intelligence is tortuous and sneaky. Intelligence is crooked while stupidity is honest.”

I was touched when Lise sent the love letter to Alyosha. It was tender sweet.


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