7 Quick Takes—02/07/14—Philosophical Cats Edition!

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As I violated my 2-post-a-week resolution last week, I figured I should make amends in a manner sensitive to the cultural mores of the internet. Internet,  I present to you by way of apology this menagerie of philosophical and theological cats. I’m terribly sorry; I’m as guilty as the second cat in this video:

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If I could find a sufficiently large cat picture, and a font size that was highly readable even when very tiny, and I felt like opening up a graphics editor, I would make the following Nietzsche quote into the best philosophical cat meme ever.

Since I’m lazy, you’ll have to settle for this adorable cat picture and Nietzsche’s explanation of what your cat is really thinking. (Technically he’s describing a herd of cows but, you know, same diff…)

This is a hard sight for man to see; for, though he thinks himself better than the animals because he is human, he cannot help envying them their happiness … A human being may well ask an animal: ‘Why do you not speak to me of your happiness but only stand and gaze at me?’ The animal would like to answer, and say: ‘The reason is I always forget what I was going to say’—but then he forgot this answer too, and stayed silent: so that the human being was left wondering.
But he also wonders at himself, that he cannot learn to forget but clings relentlessly to the past: however far and fast he may run, this chain runs with him … A leaf flutters from the scroll of time, floats away—and suddenly floats back again and falls into the man’s lap. Then the man says ‘I remember’ and envies the animal, who at once forgets and for whom every moment really dies, sinks back into night and fog and is extinguished for ever. Thus the animal lives unhistorically: for it is contained in the present, like a number without any awkward fraction left over. —Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life”

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Three Ways of Looking at a Mess

The Apartment

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There are several reasons why I live alone—as an only child, I intensely value my privacy and personal space—but one reason is that I’m messy. Not “leaving the dishes from tonight to do tomorrow” messy but “leaving the dishes from Monday to do on Sunday” messy. Dishes, vacuuming, washing the sheets, picking up dirty clothes off the floor—these, for some reason, can feel like oppressive tasks even when banging out a twenty to thirty page seminar paper over the course of the weekend seems like a piece of cake.

Despite all of this, I’m not a hoarder. I don’t like my messes, I don’t find myself cultivating them, and—when I do get around to cleaning—I’m inclined to chuck even perfectly usable items into the trash just to get them out of the way. The messes in my life don’t feel like a part of me; rather, they feel like something out to get me. The brief joy of a clean apartment quickly becomes a reminder of the triumph of entropy.

I throw a lot of parties, largely to give me the kick-in-the-butt I need to get things clean. I may be able to live with my messes, but heaven forbid that anybody else get to see them. I’ve flat out kept friends on my doorstep while I ran in to grab something because I won’t let them see how I live. Messiness is a source of embarrassment, a sign that I don’t have my life fully together, an admission that my attempts at ordering, sorting, and systematizing all ultimately come to naught.

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