China Philosophy

In Urumqi

What can I write about my experiences in Urumqi? Her family received me well. There is a lot going on. The family is going through a 7-day period of mourning (embedded in longer periods as well) according to the Uyghur/Muslim custom, and every day there are ceremonies and events taking place. I’ve only been able to watch as a dumb observer, and only on a couple of occasions.

Her brother graciously put me up in a hotel owned by the company he works for. I spend most of my time here, alone, waiting to be summoned by the family, silently supporting my Tchou Tchou from a closer distance than Beijing. Twice, now, she’s been able to take a break from the family obligations to come see me.

She really struggles with the endless procession of visitors, the formalities and ceremonies the custom requires. It is not her way to be so formal and extroverted all the time. The three weeks in the hospital were tiring, demanding 24-hour care of her mother, taken in shifts by her and members of her family. Now she just wants to rest and be quiet together as a family. But this is not possible. So I provide the rest, quiet, and emotional support that she so desperately needs. That is why I’m here.

Music Philosophy

Home Free

My Tchou Tchou has been away for several weeks, caring for her Mom in the hospital in Urumqi. I just heard from her this evening that her Mom died in the early morning today.

I’m so sorry, Tchou Tchou. I remember this feeling well…

So I sit alone in my apartment, crying tears for a woman I never got to meet. Some comfort comes from the words to a song from my Christian past, “Home Free”, by Wayne Watson:

I’m trying hard not to think you unkind, but Heavenly Father,
If you know my heart, surely you can read my mind.
Good people underneath the sea of grief,
Some get up and walk away, some will find Ultimate Relief.

Home free, eventually,
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be home free.
Home free, oh, I’ve got a feeling,
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be home free.

Out in the corridors, we pray for life;
A mother for her baby, a husband for his wife.
Oh, sometimes the good die young, it’s sad but true.
And while we pray for one more heartbeat, the real comfort is with You.

You know, pain has little mercy, and suffering’s no respecter of age, of race, or position,
I know every prayer gets answered, but the hardest one to pray is slow to come, “Oh Lord, not mine, but Your will be done.”

Oh let it be.

Home free, eventually.
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be home free.
Home free, oh I’ve got a feeling.
At the Ultimate Healing, we will be Home free.

“Home Free”, by Wayne Watson (4:45, 2.1 MB)


Double Take

I did a double take tonight. It was rather shocking, actually. I looked down the aisle of the shopping center I was in tonight, and I thought I saw myself acting and doing and being. Except it wasn’t me. But I had to look several times to make sure it was someone other than me.

It felt kind weird to be looking, for a moment, at myself acting independently of my consciousness. I wish I had more practice at this sort of thing.

Audio Philosophy

Context-Dependent Memory

Jon Udell recently wrote about his experiences with context-dependent memory associated with his podcast listening while bike riding. He explains it thusly.

I’ve noticed a weird synaesthesia effect. When I first listened to Jim Gray’s discussion of asynchrony I was at mile 23 of this route. When I listened to it again and transcribed the quote for my blog, I saw that landscape again. It works the other way too. If I repeat a route, I remember what I heard along the way.

I’m glad to know that someone else has experienced this, and in particular, in association with podcast listening. It happens to me all the time too. So the world I walk in has now become the index for audible information that my brain has stored. Jon concludes:

I can’t decide what’s more strange or wonderful: the fact that I have an URL that points to mile 23 of that route, or the fact that an important idea from Jim Gray is waiting for me when I get there.

That’s a pretty damn cool thought. Thanks Jon!


What is my world view?

[Cultural Creative]

I took this online World View quiz and scored as a Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. I am a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. I am very spiritual, even if I am not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative

What is Your World View?

Antiwar Philosophy Rant

The religious right: An anti-American terrorist movement

The title says it all: The religious right: An anti-American terrorist movement. It’s a very good essay that elucidates the extremism of the Religious Right movement in America. Most Christians that I know, including my family, do not hold such views consciously, but elements of their belief system overlap with such extreme ideas and can, in the extreme, be pushed in that direction. It was for this reason, I believe, that the framers of the U.S. constitution established a system that explicitly rejects a theocracy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be holding up very well in today’s America.


Healing by post

I would like to share with you the PostSecret Blog, which is a gallery of peoples’ secrets displayed on 4×6 postcards that have been submitted to the site anonymously by mail. Here is an example:

[PostSecret: I didn't cry at my grandmother's funeral]

The gallery is amazingly human. People find healing in sharing their secrets. Others find healing in discovering a commonality with strangers. Spend some time there. What secret do you need to let go of…?


A year later

I just looked back and re-read the entry on William James that I wrote a year ago. I was prompted to do this by a similar exercise that Mandi went through the other day on her blog. First, I was surprised that I had something interesting to say back then, and that I did so eloquently. I guess lately I’ve held a low view of my own ability to write. Second, and more importantly, I’m able to see how far I’ve come since being so depressed at that time. These days, generally, I feel good and am excited about life. My energy is not always high, but my thinking is pretty clear and I have ambitions again. I mentioned this to Gulistan the other day, how the world is so interesting and there are so many things to explore, but how I can narrow my focus by putting my energy into creating things. I want to create, and that is what will carry me from now on.

Philosophy Speech

God is Talking to Me, by Hans Anderson

This is an amazing piece of audio. At just under 10 minutes, it’s one man’s story of the day he finds that God is talking back to him. Listen carefully, cause it happens very quickly. Highly recommended!

Philosophy Speech

Why not God? by the Evil Genius

I listen to Dave Slusher’s Evil Genius Chronicles on a regular basis. I love this guy. He’s great. As a special episode, he recently recorded an audio essay entitled “Why I don’t believe in God”. As a religious philosopher, I’m interested in this kind of thing. It’s not a point-by-point diatribe on his atheistic beliefs, but a more personal story of his journey. As a former Christian myself, I can relate to his background. While I didn’t arrive at atheism like he did, I get the sense that we share the same values nonetheless. So I recommend that the readers of my blog head on over there, download his essay, and have a listen. Someday, I’ll have my own essay to write (or record).