2014: My Body Is Ready

I felt a profound sense of happiness while I was watching the fireworks earlier tonight. Truth be told, that feeling of happiness was so intense that it kinda made me want to cry. It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt on a New Year’s Eve. I didn’t know why I would want to cry though. There was nothing sappy, emotional or dramatic about watching fireworks from across a polluted river. But I don’t know, I was filled with hope, I guess? Hope that this new year could be a year filled with new and better opportunities. Hope that this year could be a tabula rasa, and I could start again with a fresh beginnings. Hope that I would be able to fix all the mistakes I made in the yesteryear, return things to the way they used to be. Hope that I can actually stick to my resolutions, and improve as a person.

Right then and there, I felt like 2014 would be a great year for me. I might be being too optimistic here, but that feeling of happiness/hope (hope-iness???) was so strong, I feel like it can’t be wrong. I am definitely looking forward to this new year. I intend to make it one of my best years. The universe may conspire against me, but I’ll just push on and fight back.

If someone actually took the time to read all this, thank you. I hope you feel excited for this new year too. If 2013 sucked for you, don’t worry, you can do better this year. New year, new beginnings.

Anyway, long post over. Happy New Year, all!

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Justice Resists Simplicity

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Last Friday, August 16, 2013, DLSU Pilosopo held this big lecture on the philosophy of justice aptly entitled “Sword & Scales.” I was up bright and early so I can register and get a decent seat in the Teresa Yuchenco Auditorium. The lecture was divided among three speakers: Atty. Christopher Cruz, Dr. Jeanne Peracullo, and Dr. Adriatico Bolaños. They each gave different perspectives on the philosophy of law and justice and they were quite interesting, although I think I speak for everyone when I say that there were times when the terms got too technical.

First to speak was Atty. Cruz. His discussion was all about the Philosophical nature of law. Early in his talk, he said something that really caught my attention; something I also believe is true. He said, “Where law ends, tyranny begins.” That short sentence is really enough to show that the law really is necessary to keep us from acting like uncivilized mongrels towards each other.  Atty Cruz gave us a little bit of background of lawmaking and why it was needed in society. His talk focused on justice in context of the law, and how it changes depending on the culture or group of people. He says that laws are embedded in our society, we were born into it, and it is present in our lives until we reach our graves, but even after then, it exists to maintain harmony between people.

The second speaker was none other than my INTFILO professor, Dr. Peracullo. Her topic piqued my interest because it was about how the Apocalypse was the end to all our worldly sufferings. She approached this topic using the video game Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, and the book of Revelations. I was actually quite glad when I heard familiar names such as Plato, Buddha, Sartre, etc. during her talk.

What I got from her talk is that the Apocalypse or Judgment day is ultimately caused by our absolute freedom to make a choice. She used Sartre’s concept of the “inevitability of choice” to show that in key points of our lives and in our civilization as a whole, we will have to make decisions, and we must be ready to stand by the repercussions of these decisions. She used characters from Devil Survivor 2 to illustrate this inevitability of choice. She also claimed that these video games are like critiques of our contemporary society. That the actions we make as projected individuals in the RPG also reflect what choices we would probably make in real life.

I was actually quite impressed that our prof managed to incorporate different aspects into her discussion, and yet still tied it up neatly by relating it all to justice. Law, in a way limits our “absolute freedom” by curbing the possible choices we get to make. Does this mean that by pursuing justice through law, we are dooming ourselves to a life of inauthentic existence? No, I don’t think so.

The last speaker, Dr. Bolaños, used something called Critical Theory to assess justice in the perspective of the individual in the society. To be completely honest, I kept spacing out and did not understand much of his discussion because it was filled with technical terminologies that I did not quite understand. What I got from his talk was that norms in our society are the foundation of our laws, and therefore justice. I dare not go into much into detailing his topic because I really do not know much about it.

In conclusion, I think that Justice, much like Truth, is generally constructed; by us, the society, and the norms and cultures we live by. Justice also resists simplicity. It is impossible to look at it from just one point of view. It can be seen under many different perspectives, even Philosophical ones. We must understand what impact the different laws and the notion of justice have in our lives. Is justice just getting even with another person, or is it so much more? That I’m afraid is up to us to decide for ourselves

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I See, But I Do Not Observe: My MCAD Experience

(Please excuse the obscure Sherlock reference in my title. I could not think of a better one lol)

Before I begin, I would like to prove that I did in fact go to the exhibit. Here is an existential selfie.

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If my face turned you off, here is another picture. This one is of my blockmates and I in front of one of the exhibits.

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Anyway, enough of the existential pictures. Time to get down to business.

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We wake up every morning by waking up by opening our eyes and seeing our bedroom ceiling. But what does it mean to actually “see?” It’s funny how a simple word can have such a deep and varied meaning. The Oxford Dictionary of English partially defines it as “to perceive with the eyes,” “become aware of something from observation, ” and also ” to experience or witness an event or situation.” But again these definitions explain just part of the total experience we call “seeing.” For me, “seeing” something isn’t just an limited to an ocular experience. For example, bats can “see” using echolocation. It’s more than just our brains’ interpretation of the light bouncing off of objects and onto our retinas. It’s more of acknowledging something’s existence, giving it meaning, and reacting appropriately to it. “Seeing,” for me, is observation + perception + reaction.

The heavy rain that morning didn’t do well to set up my mood for the day. I didn’t feel like going to the MCAD anymore because it would mean that I had to walk through the flooded streets of Taft whilst toting an umbrella around. To be totally honest, the exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) underwhelmed me. I was led by false pretense from the posts I had seen on their Tumblr account. I was expecting to see grandiose displays of dystopian contemporary art. Instead, I saw photographs and various video installations. It was not what I was expecting at all, so I felt a bit let down. I walked into the MCAD, and a huge space in the middle was empty and I was like “is this it?” However, the ambiance was relaxing because the place was so cold and quiet. I swear I could hear my footsteps echoing in the building as I walked towards some of the other exhibits.

I spent about an hour and fifteen minutes in the museum – longer than I had expected, really. I was very bored during my stay in the museum. Also very cold. I could see the amusement and wonder in the faces of my companions, while most of the other people were just chatting with their peers.  I did not feel the appeal of the video installations. I thought museums were about physical, tangible objects on display. I was wrong, apparently. About forty-five minutes in, I started to feel hungry. This made me feel more disinterested in the exhibit. There were only two installations that really caught my attention, Dialogues on Discrepancy by Piyasak Ausup:

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and the series of buildings printed on newspaper by Pattara Chanruechachai:

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The first one made me feel sad for the people surrounding the demolished building. I felt so sorry for them, thinking that the building was their home and now they have nowhere to live. This was how I analyzed the picture, I was so shocked when Miss revealed to us that the people in hijabs were actually photoshopped onto the picture. It made me feel like a fool, having believed that those people were actually from that place, but at the same time amazed at the artist for thinking of that concept. The mere fact that the picture impressed upon me a feeling of sorrow for something that didn’t actually happen or exist made me question what else in that exhibit was deceiving my initial impression of it.

As it turned out, there was an entire series of photographs that fooled me all along. The three photographs of the buildings were the first thing I saw upon entering the museum. But it wasn’t until the guide pointed it out that I noticed they were actually printed on newspaper. I was like:

tennant ohhhhhh

I thought they were just photos of regular buildings printed in grayscale and mounted on the wall. When asked what we thought it meant, I thought that it was representing how the media was “covering up” the ugliness of the society. I felt like I saw the pictures, but never really understood why they were like that. I saw them for their façade, not for what they truly mean. As the title of my post would suggest, I saw, but did not observe. 

I left the exhibit 20 minutes before my next class in Yuchenco. It was still gloomy and raining outside, the burgur I had purchased from McDo did not fully satisfy my hunger. I looked around while I was walking back to Taft. Seeing the contrast between the super posh SDA and its surrounding area made me think. The SDA felt like a safe place, it was as if it was separated from the poverty just outside its doors. But upon leaving the place, it was like being thrust upon a different world. It was hot despite the rain, the road was muddy, people were busy walking towards their destination. It made me wonder if Utopia is truly possible here in the Philippines, or do we just have to construct enough safe houses in society to make it feel like the dystopia doesn’t exist. Could the exhibit’s tagline, Dystopia now, Utopia never actually be true?

Let’s say for a moment that I was an artist who had to put up a piece of work for the MCAD. Let’s say that they commissioned me to make an artwork that would represent what “seeing” really was. For one thing, the artwork would look like it was drawn by a 5-year old. For another thing, it would probably look something like this:

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“Seeing” is a multileveled and multifaceted thing. One perspective could be totally different from another, and some people may “see” thing deeper than others. I interpret “seeing” as a hierarchal inverted pyramid, kind of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You cannot proceed to the next “deeper” level without going through the preceding one.

The most basic “seeing” involves just perception – acknowledging the thing’s existence by placing it on the foreground of your attention. To see at this stage would be to believe the thing exists in your perspective. The next level would be understanding what that thing is. This is to dig deeper and find out more information about the thing by observing it or using the other senses. Next, would be valuing the thing. What does the thing mean to you? Here, you examine how the thing affects how you feel, how you think, etc. After that would be action. What would you do with the thing? Now that you know how it affects you, what will you do in response? After going through those levels, only then can one “see” the thing in totality. I made the drawing 3-Dimensional because other people may look at the same thing, but “see” a different side on a completely different level.

Seeing is something we all take for granted. It is something we do not tend to dwell on because it is such a basic component in our lives. Seeing is how we make sense of our world, it would be silly to think so little of something that means so much to us as human beings.

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Do I Lie To Myself To be Happy?: Buddhist and Platonic Themes in the Film, “Memento”

I. Introduction

1)    Summary of Memento

The movie was backwards, starting from the end and ending with the beginning in order for viewers to fully understand the movie. Leonard Shelby was in search of the guy who raped and murdered his wife; a guy he believed to be called ‘John G.’ He uses notes, photos, and tattoos to hunt for John G. He witnessed his wife being raped by a masked man.When he tried to help his wife, the man (so called ‘John G’) slammed Leonard’s head on the mirror. This caused him to have a memory disorder. He can remember everything in the past, his long-term memories, but he isn’t capable of making new ones. He believes that he is an investigator and that he was assigned to a case of a man named Sammy Jankis who was in the same condition he was in. But in reality, he was Sammy Jankis. Because of his disorder, he doesn’t remember that his wife survived the attack and that his wife was the one who died due to overdose because he forgot that he injected her three times with insulin, causing her to go into a comatose, then subsequently die. He believes that he can’t remember what happened to his wife because of his disorder, but in reality he made up Sammy Jankis because he didn’t want to believe the truth. He made up his own truth because he does not want to believe what really happened. Teddy, who claims to be a cop, told Leonard that they found the real John G. years ago. That there will always be another John G. for Leonard because he does not want to accept the truth. Upon hearing Teddy reveal to him what really happened, Leonard decided to make Teddy his next “John G.” since Teddy’s real name was John Gammel, John G., and so Teddy would not use Leonard to his advantage again. Leonard knew he would forget everything Teddy said anyway, so he decided to keep looking for another John G so he can have a purpose in living. Later in the movie, Leonard met Natalie and thought that she was helping him out of pity since she has lost someone too –her boyfriend, but he didn’t know that she was also using him to his advantage since he was the one who killed Natalie’s boyfriend. Knowing that Leonard was after Teddy, she gave Leonard all Teddy’s information and which made him believe that Teddy is the John G. he was looking for.

2) Character Analysis

  • Leonard Shelby (called Lenny sometimes) made up his own lies and believed them to be truths just to give purpose to his life. When he found out the real John G. is dead, he thought of killing the next John G. he finds so he has something to live for, something to do. He has a psychological disorder; he can’t make new memories right after his accident. His ability was psychological because there are some parts in the fill where he could remember what happened. But because everyone believed and told him that his disorder was incurable, that’s what he also believed.
  • Teddy (John Gammel, Leonard’s next ‘John G.’)is a crooked cop. He claims that Leonard killed the real John G. and Teddy took a photograph of it. He claims to be helping out Leonard he was the next “John G.” that Leonard was after. He doesn’t always tell the truth that’s why Leonard decided not to trust him, and then target him as the next “John G.”
  • Natalie also claims to be helping out Leonard but she’s only using him to her advantage since Leonard killed her boyfriend. She was the one who gave Leonard the license plate of Teddy. She made Leonard punch her then made him think that another guy, Dodd, beat her up just so Leonard could get rid of him.

II. Body

Q # 1: Allegory of the cave, what it means, how it relates

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, an allegory is “the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence”

The allegory of the cave shows the ramifications of having education to a person/human, and perceiving reality and truth. The phases which the prisoners undergo represent the various stages of cognitive activity, and in the most basic sense, the comparison between the ‘immaterial’ reality and ‘material’ reality.

1.Stages: The stages where the prisoner passes through when he was freed from his chains represents to the realms that the world has: (1) Visible realm/material (senses), and (2) Intelligible/immaterial realm (mind).

-When the prisoner was inside the cave, he was under the ‘visible’ realm. When he was dragged out and ascended to see the daylight, he was on the intelligible realm.

*Application to the movie: The visible realm for Lenny was when he acted and lived life based on his memories, notes, tattoos, and photos which gave him the idea that he should live his life seeking revenge for the death of his wife. On the one hand, the intelligible realm was when Lenny knew about his ‘real’ identity from Teddy’s Revelations

2. Prisoners’ conditions: The condition of the prisoners when they were chained to see only what’s in front of them, thus they shadows on the wall gives the idea that man do not realize that there is more to be known and seen apart from these mere images. This way of perceiving things then contributes to a passive life.

*Application to the movie: When Lenny is merely accepting what he is told of or what he immediately experience, and not seeking knowledge and truth for himself.

3. Shadows: The shadows in the allegory refer to representation of the ‘real’ things that casted the ‘shadows’. The prisoners are mistaken to focus on viewing the shadows instead on the things which casted those shadows.

*Application to the movie: Lenny had his memory, notes, tattoos, and photos as his own ‘shadows’.

4. Puppeteers: The puppeteers in the allegory represent those persons who manipulate or suggest the ‘representation’ of the real objects.

*Application to the movie: Natalie and Teddy were the puppeteers in the movie who manipulated the ‘shadows’ in Lenny’s life. Both Teddy and Natalie took advantage of the condition of Lenny (having Short-term memory).

5. Searching for the ‘Truth’: The event where one of the prisoners were released from his chains pertains to “truth-seekers” or those people who are willing to know the ‘truth’ apart from what they immediately see and experience.

*Application to the movie: There are 2 types of people in the world: (1) those who are afraid to search for the truth (thus resembles the image of a prisoner who would want to immediately go back to the cave), (2) those who are willing to search the truth (resembles a person who would look at the sun and finally see the truth)

In Lenny’s case, he decided to go back to the cave, to go back to the ‘lies’. This was shown when Lenny decided to pursue his search for revenge to “John G.” who was in the end identified as “Teddy”.

Themes:

1. Gives Plato’s idea of what a virtuous leader should be. *That a leader who was enlightened should be ready to go back to the cave and rescue his fellow prisoners from the darkness.

2. Our senses are not reliable in knowing the ‘truth’ because the things we view from our senses are mere representations of the ‘real things’ which is found on another realm, and the things we perceive as ‘truths’ are manipulated and controlled by other people.

3. That people, all of us, should seek for enlightenment.

4. It is not easy to be an ‘enlightened’ person. From the process of accepting that what you formerly deem as truths are mere representation of things and might be false, to the way other people would view you as a person.

*In the allegory, we can see that the prisoner who was freed from his chains, was able to see that the things they see were mere shadows, and was able to see the world outside the cave, was rejected by the other prisoners who were left inside the cave. No one would believe him, some would even call him crazy, etc.

Q#2: How does the mind separate false reality from true reality?

Everything is a product of our illusion- our desires and wants in life have been stimulated by notions we believe as the definition of a “perfect life.” Purposefully, our mind averts the fact of reality to pacify our extensive desires in life, thus, creating a whole new sphere of thinking- the false reality. Apparently, we barely can distinguish what in life can be dubbed as the “true reality” and “false reality” as we are sugarcoated with a lot of stereotypes and views. The fine line between our fantasies and realities has ledour minds to believe that more improbable things would happen in our lives. In the movie, Leonard’s search for happiness was the “meat” of the story. Had he known of the truth behind the facet of “justice” for his wife, he shouldn’t have been wandering, but his ideas are cloistered with what he defines as “happiness” – that he can only feel such if he kills the murderer. The implication, therefore, is how we tend to utilize truth and reality. These concepts become less comprehensive when dealing with our experiences for we are inclined to believing and doing something that can make us feel better. Unconsciously, we divert our attention to a false reality just to satisfy our happiness and that of others even if we know for the fact that at the end of the day, true reality would just eventually haunt us.

In effect, philosophies have claimed that there is “true reality” below the surface which consists of the underlying concepts of atoms, matter, and among others. Basically, what we see is what we believe, however, gears our perception to an illusion. At first, we may seem to believe what we see upfront but in deeper thought, it has this stimulation confusion which encapsulates our beliefs and notions. It is through the structure why we tend to be more inclined to believing false appearances- thus, false reality.

Philosophers have initiated three categories by which we tend to believe on false appearances. First, the physical appearance itself, that is, nature or everything around us tricks us considering the fact that we have limited knowledge and senses. Following is self-deceptions by the mind. These are the factors which trample over or fabricate our notions of reality just so we can pacify our longing for our desires. Also, coming up with such fabricated structure of mind helps to gauge ourselves away from what reality wants us to believe- that life is full of suffering. Actually, this becomes a matter of self-defense or to repress from sadness, doubts and fears. Lastly, here are the “mirrors” by which we highly depend to for they are the ones who have been there in our lives ready to guide us. However, in contrast to the stereotypical manner that everyone is innately “good” to lead us to the “right path”, these “mirrors” can somehow lead us otherwise. Sometimes, through the cover ups and patches provided by these mirrors, we are stirred or directed to a different reality- a reality which, in the first place, hasn’t been there and shouldn’t be there.

This, therefore, raises its connection with Buddhism, that is, everyone wants to reach “nirvana” or simply our desires, but as we all know, it’s not easy. Just to feel contented and happy, we always look onto the false reality sugarcoating our minds (and that falls under self-deception) with what is really true and what our “true” mirrors say. In the allegory of the cave, on the other hand, one factor which seemed to overpower other factors is the concept of “being lured by others”. The prisoners have been lured by nature and by other people considering the fact that they stayed true to what they believe which is, that the shadows are the “real” ones and not what the other prisoner saw when he got out of the chain.

The binary oppositions, therefore, simply initiate the disturbance created by other people, ourselves and by nature. The effects have gone to the point where we can barely distinguish “true” from “false” and that we hardly equip ourselves with the truth, which in the first place, has been there “hanging” but our grip is just too loose enough to forbid it goodbye.

Applications in the movie:

  1. Lenny has always been manipulated by his two mirrors- Natalie and Teddy, who later confused Lenny, to who holds the “truth”. Somehow, because of the two people, they tend to patch up what should be known by Lenny.
  2. Apparently, in the movie, the environment he leaves in gives him the impression of a false reality. The surroundings he has been exposed to lure his senses later made him believe that the killer is just there ready to get killed considering abandoned buildings and the like.
  3.  Lenny’s more preoccupied to reaching happiness if only he kills the killer. And just to satisfy his thirst for “justice” and “happiness, he stirs away from what reality dictates.

Q#3: What sort of “mirrors” do people with normal memories rely on to remind themselves who they are? 

People with normal memories utilize their brain’s capacity to recall the past. Possible tools or “mirrors” they usually use could be planners, a sticky note, a novel they have seen a part of their lives in, a diary, a picture album, or even people they have or haven’t met and supposed that they act similarly to the way they live. It can also be a movie or a play where they have seen exact patterns, beliefs. These “mirrors” can go as extreme as absolute belief in –isms; they can also be dogmas. Some “mirrors” appear in our dreams. The usual and most traditional way to recall ourselves is to ask someone who knew one way back in the days, who we used to be just like our parents, our childhood playmates, house servants, or the people who have seen us grow in our primary environment.

There are mirrors that make a person look stout, there are mirrors that make a person look skinnier. Take note that mirrors can also deceive us and alter the way we think about ourselves.

The concept of “like attracts like” is universally known. We tend to be drawn to people who remind us who we are. (The DailyOm, 2013)

Those people whom we are drawn to reflect our inner selves back at us, we act as mirrors for them. The way we look at people in our lives can tell us a lot about ourselves. However trustworthy these people are, they will always have different impressions about us that makes the narration biased, having different experiences compared to others. Therefore, mirrors are also difficult to trust, whether or not we are part of those who have normal memory.

Q#4: What does that say about truth when Lenny says “Do I lie to myself to be happy? In your case, Teddy… yes, I will.”?

In a scene where the film is coming closer to its end, Teddy said something to Leonard. He said, ”Fuck you! I gave you a reason to live and you were more than happy to help. You lie to yourself! You don’t want the truth. The truth is a fucking coward. So you make up your own truth.” Based on the film and my opinion, Truth is relative. Different people can perceive it as a different thing/event/whatever. For example, in a psychological exam, several pictures are flashed and people are asked to distinguish the pictures. After the exam, people have a different perception of these pictures. They claim what they have seen as truth based on their own senses and experiences. But in reality, what they believe as true is doubtful. It can happen that what is true to other person is not true to other person. Furthermore, if the truth is unbearable or painful to remember, we forget about it and constitute a lie to convince ourselves that we are living a happy life. In the case of Leonard, he constitutes a lie that Teddy is John G. (the guy who raped and murdered his wife) so that he may live his life with a purpose. He said to himself that he must be sure that Teddy will not use him again. In the scene where

Leonard jots down Teddy’s license plate, Leonard asked himself if he needs to lie to himself in order to be happy, and answered to himself “In your case, Teddy… yes I will.” He constituted his own truth so that he will have a purpose to live and attain happiness. That purpose is to kill John G. According to Alex Lickerman, M. D., “We lie to protect our interest. We lie to get wealth whether it’s material or non-material” (Lickerman, 2006). In Leonard’s case, he lied to himself so that he can attain a purpose in life. A purpose, which drives himself to live everyday.A purpose that can make him happy if fulfilled. In summary, Truth is not absolute. It can be a lie but can be perceived as truth. In Leonard’s case, he made himself believe a lie that will make a purpose for him to continue living in this cruel world.

Q#5: Discuss how Lenny’s actions follow closely either some of the 4 Noble Truths or all of them.

Though it may not be directly seen, Leonard’s actions have Buddhist undertones behind them. Upon closer analysis, we can say that his actions throughout the movie parallel to only 3 of the 4 Noble Truths. The only thing he was not able to accomplish was the complete cessation of his suffering.

1. Life means suffering

It was shown that Lenny suffered through a lot of things in the movie. He has been part of an incident which caused his retrograde amnesia, lost his wife (though this was largely his fault), been lied to and manipulated by the people he thought he could trust. Leonard suffered daily because he can never hold on to a single thought long enough for it to mean something to him. He had to rely only on his notes, but even they weren’t helpful at some points. Leonard was also angry – his anger was directed to the people whom he believed killed his wife. These emotions troubled him and brought about more suffering in his life. But it was not only psychological suffering that he had to endure; he had to endure some physical suffering as well. He inflicted pain on himself in the form of the tattoos he had on his body. He had to do this because this is the only way he could be reminded of the things he should know about the “case.”

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

Leonard suffered because he was attached. Attached to his wife, his thirst for revenge, his hatred towards Teddy, etc. He was motivated to do the things he did because of these attachments. According to the teachings of Buddhism, there are three main causes of suffering, and these are desire, ignorance or delusion, and hatred or destructive urges (BBC Religions, 2011). Lenny displayed all three of these. He desired his wife so much that he would do anything to avenge her, he was ignorant of the truths Teddy had told him about the case, and he deluded himself into thinking that Teddy was the bad guy, and because of that, his hatred for Teddy grew and it ultimately led to him killing Teddy. Basically, ever since the day Leonard lost the ability to create new permanent memories, he has been living in a world he has created to suit his own need. He is ignorant of the truth primarily because he chooses not to believe in them, and decided to make his own.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

Leonard wanted his suffering to end; he wanted to live peacefully without having to worry about the ghosts that haunt him. He did whatever he thought would release him from his suffering. For example, in order to help himself get over the loss of his wife, he decides to burn her old belongings so that he would not get reminded of her anymore. He hired an escort to alleviate his loneliness. Though these are temporary solutions to his sufferings, it should be noted that he exerted an effort. To satiate his thirst for revenge, Leonard investigated and gathered information about the identity and whereabouts of this “John G.” He thought that by killing “John G.,” he would avenge his wife’s death and finally bring peace within himself. He was wrong, of course, as he was actually partially responsible for his wife’s death and that John Gammel a.k.a. Teddy had nothing to do with the murder of his wife. But like I said, he did whatever he thought would liberate him from suffering.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering

     I believe that Lenny did not actually release himself from suffering. If the liberating force of action was apprehending or killing his wife’s rapist/killer, then his suffering would have already gone away a year ago relative to the movie’s timeline when he and Teddy caught the perpetrator. I think that Lenny’s actions such as killing Teddy and getting tattoos to help him remember “important” details are more like Band-Aid solutions to his suffering, rather than things that would bring about the cessation of his suffering

Given that the plot of the movie ended when Lenny murdered Teddy, we have absolutely no way of telling what Lenny did next after that. My best guess is that he would repress the memory of that ever happening – perhaps by burning the photographic evidence out of confusion or something – and proceed to go on a hunt for another “John G.,” as he is still looking to avenge his wife. This is assumption would mean that Lenny was not fully liberated from his suffering, and would continue to do more of the same until his end. He is another tragic hero similar to Sisyphus.

III. Conclusion

1. How is it related to Plato’s allegory of the cave?

In Plato’s allegory on the cave, the prisoners only believed what they saw in the cave was the only reality since the images in front of them was the only thing they ever saw. When the prisoner who was let free came back to tell the others what reality really was and that the images/shadows that have been shown to them for a long time have been merely an illusion, the other prisoners laughed at him. Thereason behind this is that they can’t accept the actual truth so they lie to themselves and believe only their version of the truth –what they have already accepted as the truth. In contrast with the movie Memento, Leonard made up a whole bunch of lies and made himself perceive those lies as the truth because he cannot handle the actual truth. Despite hearing the truth from Teddy, and having flashbacks of the truth too, he decided to look the other way since it was easier for him.

2. How is it related to Buddhism (4 noble truths)?

The end goal of Buddhism is to reach “enlightenment,” and the movie’s central theme basically revolves around this. The four noble truths have been inculcated in our minds relating the latter with our lives. In this context, nonetheless, it’s about Lenny and how he was able to gear his life within the wheels of Buddhism.

  • Life is full of suffering: Leonard’s life has been blanketed by sorrows considering the fact that he lost the joys of life because of his condition and his unending search for justice.
  • There is a cause for suffering: In this context, the reason why Leonard suffered is because of his inclination to “false reality,” that is, he tends to lie to himself just to feel happy. If only he believed in the truth, he wouldn’t have had such erroneous problem of searching for the unknown.
  • There is a way to eliminate suffering: With regard to Leonard’s condition, eliminating his suffering wouldn’t be as easy as having a therapy session. He needs extensive care from people, whom he considers to be his true mirrors, and must nsider his memories. He needs much more than what therapy gives.
  • There is a path leading to the cessation of suffering: At the end of the day, Leonard still embarks onto the false reality by lying to himself and apparently, is the way for him to end his sadness and fears.

 

REFERENCES:

Anonymous. 2003. Allegory of the Cave. Retrieved fromhttp://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-allegory-of-the-cave.htm

BBC Religions.  2009. The Four Noble Truths. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/beliefs/fournobletruths_1.shtml

B.R. 2006. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: Analysis and Summary. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/platos-allegory-cave-analysis-summary-25170.html

Lickerman, A. 2010. Why we lie: The reasons we lie are what make it right or wrong. Retrieved from:http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201003/why-we-lie

Knierim, T. n.d.The Four Noble Truths. Retrieved from: http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

Planeswalker, M. 2009. Literary Analysis: Allegory of the Cave by Plato. Retrieved from:  http://www.helium.com/items/1621240-the-cave-plato

Stutz, N. 2009. A reflection upon Plato’s an “allegory of the cave”. Retrieved from http://sierrabear.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=183

Sheehan, T. n.d.The Allegory of the cave. Retrieved from: http://classicalastrologer.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/plato-allegory-of-the-cave.pdf

The DailyOm. 2013. Reflections of self: We are all mirrors of each other. Retrieved from: http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/07/reflections-of-self-we-are-all-mirrors-for-each-other-2-2707148.html

Ken, Sanes. (n.d.). The Deconstruction of Reality: What Modernism and Postmodernism say about surface and depth? Retrieved from: http://www.transparencynow.com/decon.htm

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INTFILO Journal entry #1

This post comes to you in not one, but two parts!!!

Part I: Main Point

The main point of Dr. Leni Garcia’s article is to show us that Philosophy is closely related to mythology.  The latter may have been a precursor to the former, but because of the wibbly-wobbly nature of philosophy, I don’t think we can assume a linear progression of cause and effect between the two.

there-and-back-again

Dr. Garcia used the phrase “There and back again” from R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series as a common, unifying theme throughout the article. This was shown with the way the early philosophers started to question the myths and subsequently rebuked them through their own more rational and logical explanations, but still falling victim to the practices of old – writing in poetry and verse, a style usually reserved for the myths they have tried so hard to avoid referencing. Even after years of journeying away from the grasp of the mythos, they cannot fully escape its “charm,” so to speak, and return to it.

platoscave

This theme was shown again when Dr. Garcia wrote about Plato’s allegory of the cave, showing how the prisoner who had escaped and received enlightenment through the outside world is still willing to rush back to his fellow prisoners and share with them the knowledge he had acquired.

I think that that this theme of escape, journey, and subsequent enlightened return is most applicable when we think of the evolution of Philosophy through the ages.  It escaped its entwinement with mythology, journeyed off and branched into different schools of thought, and after years of studying, improving, and developing, it has become somewhat of an enlightened lens, which we can use to look back at its roots and understand them with more clarity.

Studying philosophy would be pointless if we did not know how it began. I believe that everything must have a beginning. Heck, even this blog has a beginning, as shown by my previous introductory post. Knowing how something started can help us understand the thing better,

Part II: Mythical Story

 I will not be writing a genesis story because I feel that that has been done too often. Inspired mostly by the BBC’s sci-fi drama, Doctor Who, I will attempt to write a story that will hopefully encompass the requirements.

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. All rights belong to the BBC. This is poorly written fiction.

Legend speaks of a man, the last Time Lord of Gallifrey. A man whose body may not age physically, but his eyes look old – weighed down by the cumulative experiences of a hundred lifetimes. This man goes by many faces, many outfits, many aliases throughout his life, but he is known to all only as the “Doctor.”

imthedoctor

This man, no, he’s not a man. Not technically. Men don’t usually have two hearts.

2hearts

This man, he flies around in his blue police box known as the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension ISpace.) The TARDIS is his spaceship you see. Well, it’s more of a space-time-ship, really. Also, it is bigger on the inside. Way bigger. Although she does not always take him to where he wants to go, she always takes him to where he needs to go.

tardis

One day, the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS, once again unfamiliar with the place she has taken him to. This time, the TARDIS has taken him to a white plane. That’s all there is. He walks out pensively, trying to survey his surroundings. But there is nothing to survey, it is all white everywhere. A voice booms from out of nowhere, and a flash of light stuns the Doctor. He wakes up in a reverie, a shimmering figure in front of him.

The figure explains that it had brought the Doctor into his realm to warn him about the impending doom about to befall planet Earth. The shining outline tells him that the Daleks have returned, and are planning to lay siege on the Earth with the use of a Time Bomb.

dalek

Although not an inhabitant of the planet, he has taken it upon himself eons ago to protect the human race. He believes that the humans are beautiful and unique creatures. Conflicting dualities, and yet they seem to find balance somehow. Selfish in the face of competition, and yet ultimately compassionate when the need arises. He has taken on a number of humans as companions over the years, but they inevitably leave him, and he is left to wander alone until he meets a new one.

tvortex

He thanks the figure and rushes back in his tardis. He flips a couple of switches, and after a bumpy ride through the time vortex, he arrives inside the Daleks’ ship, right in the middle of contemporary London. He immediately spots the Bomb, 2 minutes before it detonates. Wasting no time, he barrels through the Dalek armada, barely dodging their shots.

He arrives at the bomb, and figures that the only way to stop it is to infuse it with his own regeneration energy. He realizes that that act will be the end of him, since it will literally drain him of his remaining lives. He hesitates just for a second, reevaluating if this will be worth it. Sure, he does not want to die yet. Sure, it may be unfair, but if it means that the human race will continue to live, then so be it.

river regen

He grabs on to the bomb, and his hands start glowing with golden-yellow Time Lord energy. Part of him hates that he has to do this. Part of him still wants to be alive, to be able to experience the beauty of the universe. But he has to. He’s the only one who can save the humans. 3 seconds. His hearts start failing. 2 seconds. He feels like the breath has been punched out of his lungs. 1 second. He finishes the energy transferal, and the bomb starts to glow a bright white. The light consumes the Doctor, and expands, taking the Daleks with it. It is done.

Legend speaks of a man, the last Time Lord of Gallifrey. A man whose body may not age physically, but his eyes look old – weighed down by the cumulative experiences of a hundred lifetimes. Now those lifetimes have come to an end. But he shall forever be remembered as the Doctor, protector of the humans, and a human in essence himself.

References:

Garcia, L. (2013) Exploring the philosophical terrain. Quezon City, Metro Manila: C & E Publishing, Inc.

Photos:

There and Back Again: http://fiscafamily.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/there-and-back-again.jpg

Plato’s Cave: http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/platoscave.gif

Time vortex: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m00estG87i1r28xa1o1_500.gif

Two hearts: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m48901xrRg1qg49zjo1_500.jpg

Daleks: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ViCKiemehsE/USPzVGLqZuI/AAAAAAAAANw/-CTKUl7Fg2s/s1600/daleks.jpg

Other DW-related gifs: joshuwaaaaa.tumblr.com

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Inception

No, I don’t mean the very confusing movie starring the still Oscar-less Leonardo Di Caprio. 

I mean “inception” as in the establishment or starting point of something – in this case, mah blog.

I guess introductions are in order, since this is probably the first time you, the reader, are meeting me. So uhhh, hi! My name is Josh, I’m a sophomore at De La Salle University, taking up Behavioral Science and Accountancy. I like watching TV shows, reading books, and surfing the net in general. Also, I enjoy taking long walks at the beach at sunset but you don’t need to know that.

Though I created this wordpress to comply with the requirements of my INTFILO (Introduction to Philosophy) class, I want to keep it alive with posts about things that interest me, or updates about my life. Kinda like a Tumblr blog, without all the gifs and feels, and more school stuff and reflection papers. Also, I am sorry for my header. I literally just took the default one and added some text to personalize it. 

I want to close this first post with a video I found today made by Vsauce, one of my favorite educational YouTubers. In this video, he talks about the senses, memory, how we know things, epistemology, realism, solipsism, and a bunch of other philosophical stuff that I assume (and hope) we will be discussing in class at some point. 

‘Till next time!

– JC

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