Question 19.2

FAITH is humanity, unencumbered.

It is existential theory, it is religion, and it is philosophy.

FAITH is a box of toothpicks, and it is necessary.

We believe what we see, what can be proven, and what has been passed down.

The rest of life, death, and the universe is understood through belief structures that

(1) are passed down (religion, superstition, covenants),

(2) created en mass (cults, new age beliefs, politics), or

(3) via the individual (ideologies, choices, meditation).

This is done to bring us comfort, and a sense of understanding of the 'unknown' factors that exist in our world. We are driven by both fear and tradition to FAITH, and in some cases these ideas are needs.

These wants, urges, and needs become the beliefs that hold up our inner worlds. Toothpicks.
They are the stilts upon which we build our homes, with our foundations and our families firmly settled upon them, where we expect them to remain strong, and unwavering.

Toothpicks. Both as frail and as strong as they are necessary, and universal.

And with the Gods of others, many will pick their teeth.

Question 19.1

The culmination of all the definitions for "faith" I could find = “to trust or believe without reason”.

I have a tough time separating faith from reason. I have faith in reason. I also have reason in faith. I have reason to have faith. Remove reason from faith and you have an ignorant child, remove faith from reason and you have an ignorant adult.

I believe that “faith” and “reason” are different, yet interlocking, parallel and equivalent ways of knowing.

Everybody has faith in one form or another and to differing degrees - whether they admit it or not [faith in their spouse, their drugs, their alarm clock, their deity, their insurance, themselves, etc.]. This gives evidence that we are not hard-wired to have tunnel vision to make decisions simply based on tangibles and reason alone. We use faith to trust, to a degree, those things which are out of our immediate control. Faith is part of the checks and balances of one’s internal government. Reason is that faculty of mind that is able to judge things whether they be true or not. You cannot reason with an unreasonable person and it is unfair to have a war of wits with an unarmed person. Reason has become a prejudice for the ignorant, the worst form of prejudice because reason is the only instrument for liberation from prejudice. To believe that we are to have faith and not reason is to have a theology of ignorance. The fact is that reason and faith validate each other.

Most associate faith with spiritual or religious beliefs that extend beyond this life and world.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" -- Hebrews 11:1

Faith in an unseen noun or verb can be construed as a comfort and a gift – or dismissed as a placebo meant to lend a false sense of well-being or illogical consolation. Either way, faith exists for the benefit of the faithful, just as a judgment occurs for the benefit of the judged.

“We look not at things seen, but things unseen; for things seen are temporary, but things unseen are eternal.” -- 2 Corinthians 4:18

Regarding faith as it relates to belief in God, some have it, some don’t. I possess it. I have faith in many things, but the biggest avenue of faith that I have is in the love of God and the Truth of the eventual universal salvation of all.

"The Father has given ALL things into the Son's hands" (John 3:35) and so "ALL flesh shall see the salvation of God" -- Luke 3:6

Faith is one of the many internal compasses that help steer people’s decisions and disposition in life. The power and size of the compass depends on the individual and their thoughts and experiences as is the state of faith being gained, maintained, or lost.

I have many reasons for why I have my faith and how my faith has evolved.

I think a role of faith should be to use reason to ask more questions in order to enhance both our reason and our faith, to seek inner chambers within ourselves that are in need of occupancy and to attempt to make a greater connection to that which is known but unseen.

"In the end there are three things that will last: faith, hope, and love…and the greatest of these is love." --1 Corinthians 13:13

My Faith Sherpa is on my right, my Reason Sherpa is on my left. One without the other is a tough climb.

Question 19

What is the role of faith?

Question 18.5

Mere Existence

Obliges Us

To Nothing

Except Maybe
To Attempt to Survive

Obligation comes not from existence
But a sense of self and who you are.

I feel obliged to have some self respect then follow the golden that order, otherwise you'd hate for me to do unto you if I think shit of myself.

Question 18.4

Given that I am, I am obligated to preform two simple duties:

  1. Recognizing my own mortality I find it my responsibility to procreate and keep my line within this existence.
  2. I must strive to leave to world in better condition than I have found it. I need to pass this along to those I bring forth (from my loins as it is) and instill in them the skills and talents to continue my program and mission.

Although my obligations, as they appear above, seem simple on the surface, their execution requires a complex set of actions, thoughts, and connections.

Question 18.3

To be or not.... well, I am. To not, though, is part of being. Death is a natural part of life. In this way, our finite venture here has created a sense of urgency about our being. We only have so much time... what shall we do with it? For most, this time is spent selfishly, and this is not always a negative thing. It is your time to do with what you choose.

However, all those people doing what they choose require a code of ethics to govern behavior, so that one person's bliss does not create another's hell. In a loose sense, laws try to do this, but I think this question begs a deeper meaning, and while I cannot speak for others, I will do what I can to explain what that responsibility is and how it works in regard to our existence.

1. The golden rule is always a good one. But beyond kindness and respect, there should also be a withholding of judgement, and a deeper sense of empathy. Yes, that person can be a bully, but why do they behave that way? What is it inside of them that is hurt or broken that requires them to lash out in such a way? We are nothing so much as we are severely human. And we should consider, when acting with others, that pain is at the root of almost all negative behavior, and I believe we should all try to be more sympathetic to one another for that reason. We all have pain, and we are all capable of forgiveness. This simple concept could change the world.

Kindness, after all, is being nice to someone who doesn't deserve it. That moment of respect may be the thing to change the course of their day, or even their life. Our responsibility as humans is to be kind, respectful, honest, and fair, whenever possible.

2. I try to help whenever I can. I wish I did more, but my selfishness is great, and our culture makes it difficult to do more than work, sleep and consume. It really takes a concentrated effort to do your part to improve the world, and I truly respect those who do. Volunteering, protesting, recycling, using enviro friendly cleaners, whatever you can do, must be done.

3. We should take care of one another, and the planet. We spend so much time in social gridlock that we forget to take time to really connect to one another, and without that strength of connection, the relationship suffers. All relationships contain love, but many could be much deeper, fulfilling, forgiving, and powerful. One such powerful relationship can change your life and you should spend your time seeking these masterpieces of human interaction.

4. I believe we should Choose. Live with purpose. Do not waste the choices and opportunities given to you, but spend your time accumulating experiences, exploring who you are, seeking to understand the motivations and behaviors of others, and moving through life with our eyes up, on the prize, and not down, at our map.

5. Live forward. The past may have built us, and it may hurt, but learning to forgive yourself and others can be the most powerful thing we can learn. So get on it, and get help if you need it, but life should be experienced as unencumbered as possible. Live forward.

6. Support human rights. Abuse of power is rampant, and should be punishable by Guantanamo standards--especially when it comes to politics and foreign policy. Use your politics to make the world a better place. It isn't a perfect system, but it is all we have, an your voice should be heard-- unless you are a fundy or a republican. Then you don't count on the grounds that your IQ is lower than a carrot. These carrots can be executed in Texas. Case in point.

Question 18.2

I took a shit today in the cleanest, safest drinking water that man has ever known. While two thirds of the world lives on less than a dollar a day, I spent 1.97 on a casual cup of thin black coffee and let it get cold. I look at my carbon footprint, crushing the earth under the tonnage of my commute, of my casual vices, and I believe, for a moment in bigfoot. The wild parts of my country have been roped off as eco amusement parks, and I have the good fortune to enjoy them on a lark instead of having to attempt to eek out a strained and exhausted living toiling in the soil until my stooped and weathered back breaks under the weight of too many years, and I lay dying face down in the dry, eroded gray dirt of subsistence farming. Instead I may decide today to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables from a dozen different nations, each picked and shipped hundreds or maybe even thousands of miles to me. I may cook them, or simply let them spoil in the crisper drawer of my refrigerator because I decide to go out instead. Out, to a restaurant where undocumented workers will avoid my eyes as they scurry about, sweating in the kitchen, sweating as they bus tables and wash dishes, wondering if they will have enough time to get to their second job tonight, wondering if the boss will try to stiff them again, and desperate to scrounge enough money together to feed their wives, their children, their mothers.

In the absence of these pressures, I am allowed a life of near perfect historical luxury. I have abundant heating and cooling that I control on a whim, personal property, protected, safe, and private. I have, for the sheer hell of it, animals that eat and drink better than most people on the planet, and I keep them as pets for no other reason than I enjoy their company. I am opulent, and this is the first and most fundamental fact of my existence. I was born into a level of comfort and wealth that most of the world will never know, and to this I owe a tremendous debt. What terrible hubris it would be to accept the gifts of my fortune and to not make every effort to use these advantages to transform myself. I have an obligation to kindness, since I have no excuse to be cruel. I have an obligation to generosity and charity. I owe a debt of patience, of humility. I owe it to myself to grow intellectually. I owe to my friends and family and neighbors the sweat of my brow at their request. I am obligated to honesty, to work, to a striving effort in all the things I do. I am obligated by the fact of my existence to attempt in that life to live a life of exemplary character and uncommon strength, since in this life I have no excuse otherwise. As I lay down every night on the soft pillow of benevolent comfort, I know that I am obligated, to assist where and when I can, to inspire, to lead, and to teach, so that the good fortune of my chance existence is never wasted.

Question 18.1

Obligation as a sense of duty, relates only to the social realm in my personal view, as it is not a necessity. Necessity relates only to the physical needs of existence (involuntary breathing, eating, drinking, expelling waste, sleeping). A person’s sense of duty is only as strong and as detailed as their social awareness and willingness to serve themselves, others, their world. As a person who exists, I can only speak for my own obligations, as the spectrum of obligations range from person to person and their shades of gray vary.

I feel obligated…

To speak my mind.
To actively pursue God.
To actively love those who love me.
To try and answer questions like this.
To passively love those who dislike me.
To help those who cannot help themselves.
To explore as much of this world as possible.
To work honestly and diligently for the betterment of my microcosm.
To use my creative gifts to produce as much meaningful art as possible.
To contribute to the direction of my country’s government by casting my vote.
To exercise and eat right to keep my body as healthy, strong and attractive as I can.
To contribute to my local, state and national economy by purchasing goods and services.

Question 18.0

To be or not to be, that was and, for many always will be, the question. One of the most basic metaphysical presuppositions is that we are, that we exist. Given then, this assumption that we are, what obligation(s) if any does the act of existence create?

Question 17.7

Power by its nature must include two components. First, there must be a person or body which acts. Second, there must be the subordinate party which is acted upon. Power implies action, be it through physical, economic, political, emotional or other means. Power then exists as a function of its own exercise. That is to say, there can be no power which does not act, and so, in turn, there must be a subordinate body which is acted upon. It is the presence of this subordinate body that, by virtue of its existence, creates an obligation for the powerful. In social situations, that responsibility is easily understood as part of a larger social contract. In order for people to function together in a cohesive society, the greater abilities and possible privileges of the powerful must be tempered by a responsibility for the care taking of the subordinate body upon which it exerts its force. Power without temperance is tyranny and injustice, which in addition to being morally objectionable, are historically untenable and, in relative terms, short-lived. All societies inherently recognize this, and establish systems of law and order to codify and restrict the use of power by the powerful. In consideration, nearly every act of violence, aggression, and illegality are the results of unrestrained power, power acting without the reasonable restrictions of responsibility. While there is often a disconnect between those who have power and the incumbent responsibilities that power engenders, there is nonetheless a responsibility, social in the larger sense, and moral in the individual.

In fact, in order for one party to be responsible for and have a responsibility to another, there must exist a power dynamic which favors that party who is to shoulder the responsibility. One cannot be responsible if one lacks power. Children, who have very little real or acknowledged power are not generally held responsible for their actions until such time as they are able to gain a sufficient mastery of their environment and sentient self control, that they can be deemed to make conscious and active choices over their environment. Responsibility exists because one party has first the ability to affect the world, and second because he or she has the obligation to do so. Therefore, the root and cause of responsibility presupposes power, and the two are inextricably linked.

Questions then, of the dynamic between power and responsibility are questions of degree. If we accept that power exists because of its ability to affect subordinate parties, that responsibility is derived from positions of power, and that a key component of both power and responsibility is the obligation owed by the powerful to the subordinate, then it must be clear that as the relative distance between the powerful and the subordinate increases, so too does the level of moral and social obligation out of which responsibility is created. Those with the greatest power to affect the lives of the lesser have an obligation to that power. Those who choose to shirk this responsibility are doomed to vilification by an unforgiving and watchful populace.

Question 17.6

There are a few basic laws that govern life as we know it. One such scientific law states

Power = work / time.

The relationship between work and responsibility directly involves work. If you don't put in the work, you don't get power.

Take for example the nationalistic flavor that was pervasive in the U.S. a few years ago. There was a plastic American flag stuck in every chemically treated lawn and a sense that people were trigger happy to nuke those responsible for 911. It was just the climate the administration needed to convince the world to take on a nation that had nothing to do with 911 and paint anyone who thought otherwise as a traitor. So we hit them with the "shock and awe" campaign and the grand finale of firebombs made short work of taking down an internationally disliked dictator. What followed was neither shocking nor awe inspiring. There was little put into the grand plan beyond nuke 'em and take 'em down. Now we are left in a bumbled mess all because no one put in the work needed to equal that level of power.

This little essay follows that rule. What I had imagined was more powerful than what is appearing on the page. I did not put in the work necessary for it to be well thought out and cohesive, thus it does not convey the power that I had imagined initially. The relationship between power and work is inescapable, whether it be a little essay or national policy. It is our responsibility having had the birthright of this wonderful and powerful nation to put in more work for our birthright than Paris Hilton has done with hers.

Question 17.5

"With Power Comes Great Responsibility"

The phrase has changed throughout time, but with each of its incarnations it shares the commonality of being a tool. Although we’ve become most familiar with the Stan Lee version, more important and famous figures have also uttered this phrase such as Churchill, Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy. If I were less lazy, I could pull out the quote from the book of Luke in the Bible.

What I believe to be the superficial heart of this quote, regardless of its form, is that you (being either a single person or a “body” of people such as a group, organization, or nation) have a responsibility to your fellow man to act in the best interests of humans as a whole. In other words, your abilities, wealth, resources, or power must be used to serve the ideals and needs of a society.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, but at the same time it is also propaganda, sour grapes, and an excuse. The true intent of uttering this phrase belies an action that has taken place, or is about to take and its purpose is to placate the masses. Churchill warned us after Great Britain became a second class power in WWII that we would now be responsible to the world with our great power, but you can argue that England’s plundering of the riches of developing nations had ended, and seeing that the US would be stepping into their former role, he spoke from the position of a bully that had finally found someone he couldn’t beat.

Whether it was Lincoln justifying the new bloody new style of warfare the North was utilizing during our Civil War or Kennedy acting humble on the eve of taking the reins of the world’s most powerful nation (and potentially inspiring Stan Lee’s writing in Spiderman) I would argue that this phrase marks the exact opposite of the message it stirs within the masses; that liberties, lives, fortunes, and wealth are about to be taken and consolidated into the hands of the few.

In an age in which we can no longer handle the speed in which our technology advances and we slowly lose our freedoms to paranoia, guilt, and misplaced acts of patriotism I hope that I do not hear this spoken by someone with power.

Question 17.4

Question 17.3

POWER rules life.
Hunters search out the meek, and powerless for food.
The animals on the top of the food chain are often the best fed.
Power commands order, rule, and discipline within animal tribes, and in social contexts.

Power, it seems, rules all. And by it’s nature, is good, and necessary for the propagation of species, ideas, and social norms.

But Power can also create inequity, injustice, and a stripping of individual rights. The Patriot Act, for example, as well as the entirety of the Republican Party and their proposed legislation.

Allow me to defer to the earlier question on social responsibility (Question 14.0)…this is not an easily understood concept.

Clearly, responsibility is subjective. In the first days of holding my newborn son to my breast, I felt the weight of the responsibilty of raising him ‘right’—another subjective term. I can only do the best given my means, beliefs, intelligence, and opinions to do right by him, and all of those things might be exactly wrong for his own human needs. But since I am in power over him, he will get what I am doling out whether he likes it or not, because it is all I have to give, and I am in a position of power over him.

Fundamentalist nutters will create more nutters, and many are happy to be given what is regurgitated to them from their parents, but many are not. Does responsibility extend to exposing your children to more than what you know, or believe in? Or is it irresponsible to not show your child the path you believe to be correct, righteous, and prosperous in life? Hmmm… not so easy.

The male lion is powerful, mighty. He protects his turf, and his harem from predators with his size, and his dominance ensures the survival and abundance of the family. His responsibility is to his family, and he makes sure they are safe. But he is lazy, and often fat. HE can nap up to eleven hours of the day, and make the female lions raise the pups, and hunt for the family. IF he were human, those ladies would not have that.

Once again, the relationship between these two ideas shifts…

I think Power is important, and responsibility is slippery. But you shall never separate the two.

Question 17.2

"With power comes great responsibility" is horseshit. We can hope all we want that those in power will act responsibly, but it will never happen. Responsibility is remembering to pick up your kid after school. Power is being able to send your maid to do it for you.

I dislike cops, not because of some anti-authoritarian motives, but because I distrust them. I don't really believe that many cops become cops for the "greater good," or that those who do maintain that mindset for very long. At base we are all just people, people who want to live the way we want to live. A cop becomes a cop in much the same way that a plumber becomes a plumber, or a writer a writer. They choose to be. This choice (in present-day society) hands over the moral high ground to the cop in the hopes that everyone else will live a happier, safer life for it. And (sometimes) we do.

Part of me wonders if the price of this transfer of power is that occasionally some dude gets hit with a tazer at a political rally, or worse, someone gets beaten up or gunned down for a reason that in no way fits with the punishment...

Should we accept this? Should we demand more from our authorities? Or should we banish them altogether?

Question 17.1

Question 17.0

On Power and Responsibility

We all know the old adage that with great power comes great responsibility, but what exactly are those responsibilities? Recently, a young man at a John Kerry speech was tazered, creating quite a controversy. Some thought the police acted appropriately, while others felt that the tazing was an abuse of power.

Clearly, we require those with power and in power to behave judiciously. There is a clause somewhere in that great social contract which basically states that just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Where and how are these lines drawn between power and responsibility?

Question 16.1

Question 16.0

What is the relationship between philosophy and science?

Question 15.4

Reality is created by the sy(mpto)stems of our faith, by the mainaence of our memes, by the keen observation of our wise men, their wonders passed down as by an oracle to be taken as the new faith. How do I know that the earth is round? By the same means as our forefathers may have believed it flat. I was told of its rotundity; I have accepted the facts of my world as a thousand articles of faith, and to that faith I have committed my life. Of course the Earth is round, a thousand trusted sources have told me this, just as I am told that the smallest unit of indivisible matter is an atom. While it may be possible for these things to be proven, the question of my faith in them remains. Why do I believe these things and not others? What grand love of a thousand toothpicks remains the deep and abiding bedrock of my existence? I am a man built upon the assumption of my masculinity, defined by its opposition to femininty, and deeply troubled by the asexual. Reality is defined by the same mechanisms as its maintenance. Our world is known through the relationships we establish with those we trust, with those we do not, with the things we can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. I believe that cyanide is poison, but I have never seen a man die from it, nor have I tasted its almond scent, pungent with the flavorful odor of death upon my lips. A leap from this and I believe in Japan, Australia, Europe, history, Rhode Island, quantum physics. I believe that E=mc2 even though I have little or no ability to grasp even a moment of its explication. We are not so far removed from Beowulf. Our oral traditions are not so aborignial, not nearly so honest, and no more verifiable. I do not know how my car works, either on a mechanical, chemical, or atomic level. Does this prevent it from starting? Of course not, no more than I am prevented from spending money for lack of economic understanding, or enjoying the weather for deficit in meteorogical familiarity. . The truth of the world supercedes us, it outstrips and outpaces each moment of our understanding. It has been said that there is now more information available in libraries than it is possible to read, process, remember, and understand. The truth of the world is not the acquisition of information, but access to it, and the faculites to contexutalize, order, and eliminate the extraneous. What do we choose as real? Ultimately, it comes down to the body, as all things must. Reality feels right. The rest is only the truth.

Truth is a conclusion

Drawn like a poison

From evidence

Determined by observation

Connected by thoughts

Expressed by words

(Ab)Used by language

Influenced by Culture

Informed by History

Written by Sides

Taken by Tyrants

Supported by Belivers

Resting finally on the bedrock of Faith.

And this is the pathway to enlightenment?

Conclusions are logical

That is they require belief,

Fundamentally in Good old

“If A and B, then C”

the math of logical extension

deduction, abduction, induction

tools of the mind

developed because if something then something else

always a search for that movement

for that something else

Always this desire to put the period at the end of the sentence

Drive the spear into the side

A demand for what we call evidence.

Conclusions are spuious at best

Facts determined by observation.

Funny that cows and philosophers spend so much time ruminating.

Observations limited by our limits

Limits of observation

Limits of machines

Limits of time and history and belief

Observations reduced and fallible.

Facts are disproven by other facts,

Now we have new conclusions

A new end,

An endpoint a new middle.

Facts as ideological constructs are thus temporal



Facts are not to be trusted, snake oil salesman of the grandest sort.

Periods must be erased

Conclusions redrawn

The well refilled

Truth is a construct

A hope

Rather than a reality

Reality is thus also a construct

And so there goes cause and effect

Cause and effect is an idea

A romance based on logic

The apple fell,

Not because of gravity,

Not because at all.

The apple fell.

There is no past which has passed

No objective,



Then which is provable as having taken place outside of now

There is no history

Only memory

All photos are cropped

All accounts are second hand

First hand having been handed over to the present

And the present jealously guards his time.

If we seek to prove that because A then B,

We will only fail.

All we have is B,

A is an assertion, a guess, a construct, a decision by those in power

That “A” upon which the burden of causation rests doesn’t acutally exist.

A is not.

There has only ever been “B”

There is no “A,” only the assumption of “A,” the desire for “A,” the forgotten remembrance of “A.”

“A” is a funeral card.

We make the links

We remember the dead.

Never because “A” then “B”

There is only “A” (perhaps) and “B”

Because is the formulation

An assumption

A desire to understand

But I’ll tell you this much is true,

I want to die in the summer.

Question 15.3

Your house is on fire, your children are burnt;
All except one, and that's ragged Anne
and she's crept under the warming pan.

Good afternoon. I am your wonderworker, gentlemen and
ladies. Base truth turns to gold beneath my touch.
Actually, I am Theo Giroux, your new instructor for
this lovely autumn term. Before we start, let me
anticipate certain questions: first of all, this
class is not an introduction to the more mundane forms
of lying. The sales lie, the virginity lie, the love
lie, and other lies made tedious by their economic
necessity are covered in Ellen Whitsy's Intro to

No ethical cud-chewing allowed. No barbarous
insistence upon precedence or data. In my class,
thinking on one's feet is emphasized over an
accumulation of debris. Lying is like lighting a fire;
you need only to rub two facts together, then blow.

Like filaments of raw silk in water, the constricted
truth loosens and the individual strands spiral to
heaven quicker than any earthly prayer or cry. Lies
are powerful, terrifying in their beauty. Consider
Medea's gift to the new wife: a golden Colchean tangle
that, grazing the skin of the princess, bursts into a
fireball. Her old father runs crying and the flames
blaze higher, fusing king, princess, crown and robe
into a glassy black stump, white twigs of bone.

What do the palace attendants breathe the next
morning? A peppery ash that was once royal hair, a
greasy smudge in the shape of a human hand. The
golden robe itself lies unharmed, glowing warm;
perhaps it frightens you.

Then go. I have nothing to offer you.

But if you are eager to know the substance, stay
awhile. This is an advanced studio class in
fabrication. Not on fabrics, literally, but the
ability to weave a gorgeously dense, spot-proof lie.
Weave the shimmering lie that is rich with undertones,
subtle allusions, whose tail and head are
indistinguishably woven into the concrete links of
history and circumstance. A lie that coils in upon
itself, which, when pushed, can collapse into a domino
line of smaller winking lies that bear each others'
weight and settle into liquid plausibility. A lie that
can run a million miles beneath the same sun and never
tire, never weaken into doubt.

A lie which stretches to envelop the fantastic and
improbable while evoking the one intimate detail that
will plant the obstinate seed of credibility within
the mind of the listener. Now let's begin with a brief
review of key points.

First, you must always keep a clear head. Lying well
is like counting cards, almost impossible. If you
realize that you are not capable of remembering all
your lies, practice with simple ones and keep a
notebook. Do not try anything elaborate and keep away
from alibis.

So Rule One: be capable of distinguishing between
truth and lies-- your own, of course. Once you lose
this, you lose your only advantage.

The only exception to this rule (and remember that
lying, like English grammar, is full of holes) is the
historian. He creates history, his problem lies in
how to defuse the competing versions of his story; a
wonderful movie you may wish to see upon this dilemma
is Kurosawa's Rashomon. Besides the historian, the
salesman may also, within his own mind, blur the
distinctions but here my point is demonstrated: he may
tell his customer that the product can be immersed in
water, but if he actually did this himself, he would
suffer electric shock. This habit may also ooze into
his personal life and he may make use of lying to his
wife, his children.

These sorts of people are not adepts but addicts, lead
singularly cheap lives, and are not respected by their

The second rule is probably obvious by now: never lie
to anyone precious.

This is not because the fabric will eventually tear
but because it creates doubt in your own mind. The
golden rule works in insidious ways: you think people
treat you the way you treat them. Therefore, to lie to
someone you love will create the doubt within your own
mind that others are lying to you.

And this state of tenuousness, it has been proven over
and over, cannot be sustained.

You go mad without trust. Amidst the vast and rich and
icy network of fish that you net, there must be a
buoy, an island, a haven, to which you can go
immediately and recuperate. Lying is a difficult
endeavor although many go into it out of personal
weakness. This is why the advanced courses require a
mental examination as a prerequisite. We can't play if
some of the marbles are missing.

Ah, but then who do you lie to?

In the spring of 1967, as I was boarding a ship, an
accident occurred onboard and we were left stalling on
the ramp for over an hour; it was raining lightly so I
put up my umbrella. Then I realized that it was
dripping on the coat of the lady beside me so I moved
to the edge of the ramp and thus fell into a
conversation with a tall, melancholy looking man who
asked me, between spurts with his aspirator, this
exact question.

Who do you lie to?

Rather flustered, I answered: those who need to
believe, of course. He then touched my sleeve,
briefly circling his fingers round my upper arm as if
he were measuring something. Through the cloth, I
could feel the cold emanating from his hand. It was so
cold that I thought he had poured lighter fluid on my
arm: it was the same swift evaporation, the cool that
stings like a cut.

Letting go, he asked, Who needs to believe?


Why did I say that? Many people don't need to believe
in anything at all. An aspirator works whether you
believe in it or not. Belief is unnecessary to most
things. I felt his hand on my arm again, cold,
tapping. He stared at me as though he were looking
through me, then, tilting his head far and above, he
covered his mouth, sucked in, exhaling onto the grainy

Without even opening his eyes, he said, And what after
you've burnt all your bridges?

I lit a cigarette, blew it in his face. I'll find
other things to burn.

He took the hint, and eased his way back to his
luggage and wife. I completely forgot about this
until several months later, when I was paging through
a magazine: it was unmistakably him, though a bit
younger, more poised, pipe in hand. The smaller photo
beneath it confirmed my suspicion: the woman that he
had been with was not his wife.

The name he had given me was not his real name.

And what was that pipe-- a prop? He died so young:
only sixty-five. A man with a bad conscience.

Rule three--do not repeat yourself unless the person
is deaf.

Rule four--Do not overemphasize. A lie should always
emerge as a response rather than a statement, offhand
rather than didactic. The pleasure of the lie is
veering the conversation in a dialectic method towards
your lie. Therefore, it is always a long nudge
rather than a coup. Somebody, give me an example,

' I have a daughter in the sixth grade. '

'You have a daughter. Really? In the sixth grade? My
daughter is a year older than yours but Jeanie was put
back a grade because, well, let's face it, she's no
genius; Couldn't add to save her life. Takes after her
mother, most likely.''

Note how bitterness often exudes a whiff of truth.

Five--Do not appear overconfident. It breeds
resentment. Do not appear hesitant. It engenders
mistrust. The appearance of honesty is an art that has
often been relegated to the realm of naiveté when it
is actually the fine balance of shrewdness and trust.
Look a person straight in the eye.

Six--Always start from a moment of truth, meander,
and end with a factual statement.

For example: Did you know that today is the fiftieth
anniversary of the death of the radiant Madame Curie
who discovered a rare, phosphorescent metal and died
of it? She was born in 1867, and died at the age of
sixty-seven. She is a woman of precision. Pravda's
reporters exhumed the corpse and found her body
unfolding like a night-blooming cereus: her face was
entirely unlined and her nails had grown a eighth of
an inch. Now riddle me this: if the half-life of
uranium points to the inevitability of lead, how did
Madame Curie's half-life of thirty-four years
foreshadow Manja Sklodowska becoming Marie Curie?
Names are fascinating--I've spent the last two summers
working on the Ellis Island archives.

Now at which point in this statement do truth and lies
part ways?

When do they converge?

Look at my tongue: the Pentacostal flame that dances
on the tip: Pravda is Russian for truth. Truth is an
eighth of an inch too deep.

There are other points, numbering in the hundreds,
that we will add onto these during the course of this
term. Lying is like Chess; is it the Gambit, the End

The strategies differ accordingly. While doing a brief
overview of How to Make, How to Present and How to
Correct the Lie, we will be focusing most of our
energies on examining failure; after all, the
potential for disaster is omnipresent and what we must
do when a lie fails is of larger immediate consequence
than what we must face if it succeeds. We will be
armed with certain foolproof methods of escape, both
derisive and offensive, as well as occasional forays
into historical case studies of endlösung: the
collective amnestic, schizophrenic, and, ever so
briefly, violence in the hearth and home. At the end
of this course, no truth shall evade us unscorched.
And the tourney?

Yes, of course: each year we have a tourney between
our department and the logic department and, as you
all know, we have won the tourney seven years running.

That's because their greatest theoreticians, their
prize plums,--the philosophers--are devious little
weasels; there is no objectivity possible in their
dialectic method.

Also, guerilla warfare is superior to organized
warfare simply because it does not adhere to a fully
known set of rules; it cannot be anticipated. I will
emphasize this again and again: Rely upon instinct;
run with it. The best liars are not the organized ones
but those who, familiar with the terrain, rely on
inspiration and whim. Never be heavy-handed or adopt
a logical manner; it is wingfooted Mercury and not
Apollo who fashioned the lyre.

The last week of the semester will be spent on two
things: the philosophical necessity of lies in our
society and how to detect a lie. People shall work in
pairs to ascertain the amount of truth in one another.
It is rather subversive since we are going to now
analyze and dissect our own motives and techniques,
the underbelly of all our ventures into this field.
Any questions?

When people lie to us, what are we to do?

It's inevitable. You can't completely immure yourself
from pain anymore than you can predict the future. In
wartime France, the exquisite stained glass of the
cathedral at Chartres vanished. Once the bombings
ceased, the stained glass reappeared, burning in all
its glory. It was a different sort of miracle: the
villagers had painstakingly dismantled each of the
windows and buried them separately.

We too need only to secure the parts that shatter; the
rest will endure somehow. That is why we must
understand who we are and what we are made of. I
advise you all to buy a full length mirror, open your
mouth wide and see who's in there. I once saw an eye
peering out at me. A tawny yellow eye, gleaming,

A paper, twenty pages, will also be due at the end of
the term, and the topics will be discussed with your
preceptors. Any more questions?

Well then, let's end with a game of darts to see what
you've retained from your last quarter with Prof.

1. If you are Theban and I am not, which of us is
2. What are the three forked and unforked lies in our
3. In your expert opinion, who is the father of lies?
4. Is the examined life worth living? What role do
axiomatic lies play in this statement?
5.What is the relation of lying and truth to
happiness? Which is nearer?
6. Are lies undoable?
7. Are lies remarkable?
8. Is trust expendable or can we burn it like a dollar
9. Is it necessary to conserve our lies or is the
supply inexhaustible?
10. How could you lie to me like this? What have I
done to you?

When you've finished, hand in the papers to the person
right of you. If you are the person at the farthest
right, gather the papers and place them on the ledge
of the window. Let the breeze fan these oracles onto
the masses.

We shall meet again on Wednesday. It is wan autumn
itself, and no Indian summer. Already autumn. Really
lovely weather, too lovely to stay inside. Class will
be held outdoors beneath the riotous foliage. I shall
not be present. Attendance is not required. You are
on your own. The tangibility of lies nets the
intangibility of desires. Go now. I am going to go
lie down in the next room. I am feeling sick at heart,
collapsible. It's the weather, the violent change in
the leaves; everything is gold and yellow--it's
barbaric, unsettling. The barometer says a storm is
stirring; I can feel it in the moistness, in the wind;
I can see a blackness in the sky blotting out the
blue, extinguishing the sun. This morning, my
physician saw dark clouds as well: on my X-rays, the
backbone appeared as a white fusion of molten glass
from which ribs pulled outwards and curved into a
fragile, unearthly cathedral of light. But above, an
enormous black stain smeared the plate: this was my

Why is it so dark? I asked.

The radiologist shrugged: Sometimes it is, sometimes
it isn't. I tap my lungs occasionally, you know, and
I think that I have been exposed too long to this. My
teeth and clumps of hair will fall out, my cell count
dwindle and my skin turn black beneath my fingers;
truth, repelled by my cynical exterior, is now gnawing
me hollow. I have here in my pocket the perfect
specimen of a nut: large, brown, glossy, but, when I
crack it open, look: nothing but a giant, pasty grub:

Is truth ever bearable? Shall we give it a go? Let's
use the example of the daughter again: I lost my
daughter yesterday. I lied to her. It was a terrible
mistake. Is this believable? It's worthless as it is:
it needs more texture, more cruelty, a touch of viva
voce from which it springs up as searing as the moment
when one first sees, in the face of one beloved, the
childish features that have long laid dormant: a
wavering, singed smile.

I'll tell you about my daughter. Last Saturday, I come
home from work and I catch her on her way out: she's
dressed up in a fringed skirt, pearly pink lipstick
and drop earrings; the earrings are her mother's. Her
hair is newly cut at a slant. How do I look? she asks.

You look -- I venture, then drop my voice, exhaling
softly. Why? Perhaps it's the earrings: I'm under a
spell and I do things against my will. Or perhaps it's
simply my nature; it's what I do well.

Stop it, she screams, You're trying to make me crazy
aren't you? Why can't you ever say anything nice to
me? You probably drove her crazy too. You think I'm
going to run away, don't you? Why don't you just say
it? You hate me. Just say it. I hate you too. I wish
you were dead.

It's not true, I say quickly, Don't be angry. I love
you. I just -- can't help it. It's what I am.

What is the relation of lying and truth to happiness?
Which is nearer?

I reach out to still her, to calm her, to shut her up,
to still her dry heaves and hiccuping. The neighbors
call. I don't say anything and eventually they hang
up. She's stopped crying. Already there is a silence,
a sudden drop in temperature.

Do you want to know what happened?

The moisture of her breath freezes into a glittering,
suspended mass of metallic flecks, and her hair
stiffens into dense clumps of shining wire. Gold
rivets her spine and she stands upright, solid, limbs
outstretched in a dull, reflective sheen. Her
breathing comes quick and shallow. A whimper. And then
it's over. Various doctors have examined her; they
took samples, careful shavings. An allergic reaction
to loss? Haemorrhage? Jewelers are already offering

But there is still hope: her arm moves
imperceptibly--a few degrees each hour. This morning,
I heard her sneeze, pause, then sneeze again. Last
night, as I carried her up to the second floor, I saw
that her skin had a rosy incandescence: just as there
veins of gold in the earth, there were veins of blood
discernable beneath the gold. The metal was warm to
the touch.

An afterglow trailed behind us, encrusting the carpet
and stairs with a thin river of light that pooled at
the foot of her bed. I leaned over and cupped my hands
in this pool. My fingers glistened but the light pulls
away. When I put my head down to drink; the river
vanishes, the lights go out. For a few seconds, I saw
her shaky amber outline, then a thick unbreathable
blackness filled the room. I was suffocating; on all
fours, I found my way to the door, then to the stairs
then to the entrance where I lit a match and another,
to watch the boards rippling in a reddish heat,
turning into gold for hours and hours.

One, two, three--
Snap out of it.

I have no daughter.

Question 15.2

Question 15.1

Question 15.0

How do you define reality?

Question 14.3

He stood behind Adolf with the baton in his hand. This was the moment, and yet he hesitated. He had killed hundreds of people for money; he had even killed several in the flux. However, he had never killed anyone this important, anyone so integral to the collective consciousness, anyone so viciously evil.

It was against the law to alter in the flux. Time guardians traveled throughout history, hoping to stop any activity that could lead to a radical change in the future. He had been traveling in the flux for twenty years though, and he had ways to deceive the guardians. Killing someone in the flux led to your own erasure, they would travel back and poison your parents to prevent your birth. He did not fear this in the least, and this did not make him pause.

He was an assassin, and he was paid well to exterminate people. He would always avoid the reasons why the person was being killed, the reason didn’t matter. He didn’t try to justify his work; it was just a job to him. Instead he would throw out that portion of the dossier, it just made his job harder if he got to know them.

But there he stood, masquerading as a prison guard in the year 1923. He was alone with the future fuehrer and would be able to kill him in seconds and easily make his escape to the device. This however, was not a dossier that he could just throw away. This was the most famous killer of all time, a man responsible for millions of deaths, and a man that he knew through history. One could not live in a world and not know who Adolf Hitler was. It was the knowing that made him hesitate, but there was something else that caused him pause.

The man who hired him was an old Rabbi. He was so old in fact that his grandparents may have been in the death camps. He gave him the money, set him up with an untraceable device, and gave him some parting words that were echoing in his head. “You don’t even need to think of it as an assassination, think of it as your social responsibility.”

The phrase would not leave him. Was it really his social obligation to destroy someone who would kill others? Is social responsibility as simple as the golden rule, do onto others you would have them do unto you? Or is it a more complex shade that uses the silver, do unto others as they do unto you? Or is it more selfish like the iron rule, do unto others before they do unto you? How did this act fit into each of those rules?

One could argue that this is the golden rule; you are doing an act that would help save millions of lives. But if you take this in a strict sense, you would not want to be killed and therefore would not commit murder. He thought about the golden rule only briefly, because that rule didn’t fit with his worldview, let alone this act.

Is it silver, he thought? The world is full of killers and death. If we were to do unto other as they do unto us then everyone would punish those that wronged them. Is this not preemptive punishment? But the silver rule is reactive, not preventive. The iron rule was the only that fit.

He tightened his grip on his baton and thought while Adolf wrote. Hitler was working on Mien Kampf, and engrossed. He thought again that maybe the Rabbi was feeling guilty and tried to moralize his actions by placing it in a moral construct. He nodded and then knew that this had to be why he likened murder to social responsibility.

The club came down with a sickening thud, and continued for several swings. The blood splattered on the walls and on the paper Adolf worked on. His lifeless body collapsed without struggle. There would be no holocaust. It was a comforting thought for the assassin as he faded from existence. His great grandparents would never meet now that his great grandfather did not need to flee to Greece to escape the invading Nazi army.

Question 14.2

From a man on the street, black, disheveled, thin, “My man, my man, can you spare a dollar? C’mon I’m just hungry, man; I just need a dollar, c’mon man, just a dollar whaddya say?”

The response from the propositioned, also a black man, heavy, immaculately dressed in an obviously well tailored grey suit, “Sorry my brother, I haven’t got anything for you right now.”

From the housing, sustenance, and employment challenged beggar, “Every time one of my people calls me ‘brother,’ they hurt me. Every time man.”

Why didn’t the obviously well-off man give to the man he so casually called brother? Why did he use the term brother, and why does that term hurt the beggar each time he is called by it? The answer is one of perceived community. Sure, we would all like to nod our heads, solemnly asserting the wisdom of helping your fellow man, of feeling like we have to ‘give something back,’ of, in short, being our brother’s keeper. But the truth is, we could give a shit about our brother if he isn’t part of what we see as our community. For some, our communities are rather expansive. These are the genuinely good people who donate their time and money with jobs and actvism doing ridiculously altruistic things like the PeaceCorp and Teach for America and Greenpeace. For most of us, our community is limited to the loose network of friends, family and coworkers whom we identify with in a substantial, and most importantly, regular way. Would we turn down our best friend if he asked us for a dollar? A meal? A place to stay? Of course we wouldn’t, and to do so would seem unnecessarily cruel and injust. We feel a sense of responsibility to these people because they are like us, and they are humanized by their proximity.

So, maybe you give your dollar to each beggar in the loop who asks. Do you give them five dollars? A thousand? A meal, a place to stay? Again, the level of responsibility we feel for our fellow man is based on how much we can identify with him or her, how close into our inner circle they can penetrate, how safe we feel around them, and how easily we can walk blithely by. There is no real question of social responsibility, only one of community. To whom are we beholden? Who are are brothers that we will keep? Only those few we really see and hear and know. It has been said that it is hard to hate a man once you know his life’s story. I imagine it is equally hard to ignore a man on the same grounds, which may be why it is so easy not to hear the cries of the wounded, the screams of the oppressed, and the soft moans of the desperate.

We have no urgency

No rush

Only the frantic hurry of the


The voiceless

The unquieted mute

We have no urgency

We can not make allusions

I do not share your history

I am not your brother

And I am not your brother’s keeper

And whatsoever I do unto the least of you

I have not done unto me

We fear reprisal


But we do not believe in consquence



It’s sixty degrees outside

Seventy two inside and somewhere else it may be raining fire

Or showering forgiveness

I will never know

I only know the news

Reports of the new

The now reported as a when

There is no acknowledgement of history

Every moment a moment of past

I am not your brother

I share only because I have learned

And I have learned what I was taught

I have spent time on credit, with no hope of paying it back

I am in debt

I am temporally bankrupted

I have been tying up shoelaces and loose ends,

Trying to keep it neat

Trying to keep it real,

To make it real,

Keep it under wraps

In control

I am on top of things

Even as they pile up

I scramble

Reborn and then remixed

I manage

I sit upon my gold

Evea as it seeps into my pores

Like a reverse Midas

I am poisoned by it




By determination

Determined to push ahead.

The truth?

I don’t know what you mean.

I don’t understand your allusions,

Your sly references,

Your witty rejoinders

I am not in on the joke

I only laugh because I am afraid.

Question 14.1

Question 14.0

Define Social Responsibility

Question 13.3

“Why isn’t it virtuous to do heroin?” The buffoon asked the two young students. He stumbled alongside them as they walked, and they were stuck in a conversation that they could not end, at least they couldn’t end it now that the buffoon had waded in. He had asked an idiot’s question and wanted an answer. If they had only known that he did not have the capacity to converse on this topic beforehand.

* * * *

The afternoon started with a brisk walk and a discussion. The two talked about morality to start. This then turned into a discussion of Aristotelian virtue and why it leads to happiness. They talked about how morality becomes reflexive when one practices enough, and how the moral decisions are made quicker. They discussed how there could never be a completely virtuous man, and how because of that no one can be completely content. They talked about how they disagreed with the characterization of happiness by Aristotle and how it makes happiness an end rather than a means. It was a stirring, and vibrant chain of thought. That is until they met HIM. Both of the students knew this man, and he was a student as well. They knew him but not in any deep meaningful way. They had no idea his small mind could not comprehend this and they tried to include him. They were human, and they erred.

* * * *

“I don’t think I understand the question. What are you asking again?”

“Why isn’t it virtuous to do heroin? It’s not that complicated of a question.”

“Sure it isn’t, but you are asking it in the context of a very complex and diverse subject. In which your question makes no sense. What does heroin have to do with virtue?”

The buffoon shook his head and rolled his eyes, he could not believe how stupid they were. “If heroin makes someone happy, why isn’t doing it virtuous?”

“Using heroin can lead to a myriad of immoral actions because the drug is addicting. Many heroin addicts have stolen things to support their own habits.”

The buffoon shook his head again is disbelief. They had no idea about heroin and this was clear. He had to make it even simpler for them. “Don’t think about that stuff. That’s not what I’m talking about anyway. Just assume that those things aren’t happening, that the user rich and isn’t hurting anyone by doing it.”

“Your suggestion is not a moral construct. You can’t make a moral decision when only one person is affected by the action and decision. It’s like a decision to take a nap. It’s not moral, it’s biological. Morality is a social construct. If you make decisions that affect others, then those are moral decisions.”

“It’s not about other people,” the buffoon was starting to get angry with them, they were obviously morons. “It’s about YOU. You are the most important person. No one can impose morality on another person!”

“We weren’t even talking about the merits of a system of anarchy over other social systems. We were talking about virtue.”

Idiots, the buffoon thought. “You don’t even know what I’m talking about.”

“Neither do you, fucktard.”

“I concur.” The other student said.

Then, for the good of all humanity, the students acted virtuously. They killed the buffoon so he would not reproduce. Humanity was spared. Saints be praised.

Question 13.2

Virtue is morality extended beyond a moment, decontextualized, and systematically and practically applied to one’s life until the moment of moral decision is erased by an instictive and reflexive moral action, an act of moral behavior performed without forethought or afterthought. Virtue is moral behavior without choice; morality so ingrained as to become nearly cellular and inescapable. Or so I am told.

Thus, it seems, virtue is the end result of the ardous labor of moral choice reduction. Like an especially flavorful sauce, the choice of morality is slowly simmered out of the equation until only the heavy essence of moral behavior remains. Without the burden of choice, virtuous behaviors arise from a deeply ingrained internal space within a person, a part which believes so strongly in the moral righteousness of his or her behavior that that behavior is performed without thought or consideration of other options. The vituous doesn’t ask, “What is the right thing to do here?” The virtuous simply does the right thing immediately and without hesitation, secure in the knowledge that there simply was not the option of behaving any other way. Or so I am to understand.

This being the case, woe is the virtous. May I never be burdened with virtue (a label I am unlikely to be saddled with in any case.). A life lived under the unbearable yoke of knowing without question seems a tyrrannical and oppressed life. In order to be virtous, a moral system would need to be self established, a system by which the morality of any given situation can be assessed and the right decisions made. We all must have these systems, for without them the determination of the correct course of action would be unknowable to us. In any situation where a moral decision is necessary, the options must each be run through the system, the options internally ranked on the scale of moral rightousness, and the action performed. In any of these situations, failing to act morally is either a failure of the moral system, or a failure to behave in keeping with the moral standards set by the system. In any case, the presentation of options to the moral systems excludes that person from having behaved virtously, as the virtous is beyond the need of moral systems and decision-making. The virtous has so ingrained the moral system that the correct course of action is no more chosen than we choose to obey the laws of physics, or succumb to gravity.

And herein lies the crux of the problem. Virtue removes choice, it puts a period at the end of the moral sentence and draws irrevocable conclusions about right and wrong. Whenever conclusions are drawn, the concluder then stops questioing, stops thinking if maybe there isn’t a better system, a more just system. The virtous cannot ask questions of his or her moral system any longer, for it has been so long assumed infallible that moral decisions are pure muscle memory. How can such a thing not be foolish, even dangrous to pursue? Liken, for a moment, making firm and irrevocable decisions about right and wrong to building the foundation of a home out of toothpicks. These toothpicks mimic the individual pieces of our belief system, thousands of toothpicks each representing an experience or decision that led to a conclusion that ultimately leads to a dozen more. While the heaped up bundle of thousands of toothpicks may look sturdy, may even hold up the house and feel firm and unyielding, these toothpicks are hardly the sturdy beams we assume them to be. Upon closer examination, it is obvious that the foundation of our home is frail, tiny, insignificant. The removal of a single strand of wood can upset the delicate balance of so many more, and the sturdy foundation of our beliefs can come crashing down. If, however, we realize early on that our beliefs are not truths, but guesses and approximations, we are less likely to so heavily rely on any one of them, but instead will have fashioned our home in such a way that it may exist independent of any one of these miniscule building blocks. Virtue, is a house built on toothpicks, inflexible and therefore dangerously unsteady.

Question 13.1

Question 13.0

How do we find and define virtue?

Question 12.3

Even now I am lying to you,

I have seen my life through a pane of glass,

and in seeing,

have felt nothing.

I feel dusty inside.

Perhaps it is cold in the winter.

I have read it in a book,

I have seen it on television,

but when my hand is against the glass,

the warm mark of my presence fades to nothing within moments of its passing.

If there indeed exists a thing which we can term the “core self, “ then that self must be said to have certain unchanging characteristics, characteristics which not only affect the presentation of the self to others, but that also define the self through their consistent opposition to the contextual notion of self which it defies. In other words, in order for any part of you to be static and unchanged, there must be parts of you which can be defined by the core as “other” which are malleable and contextual. Just as the notion of sickness relies on a favored idea of health to conceptually exist, if we are to say that there is a core self, we must concede that there must be parts of the self which are outside of this core; parts of the self that seem to be less a part of the true nature of self, and more temporal. Without this competing concept, we would only say self, and it would be understood that the self is whole and undivided. Through accepting the modifier “core,” we immediately create a conceptual opposition. There are parts of us that are within this core, and parts that are then outside of it. This sets the stage for an internal dichotomy between the constant self and the inconstant self, both of whch are identified and defined by their relationship to each other.

Were this true, the core self would stand in opposition to the inconstant self, always seeking to achieve dominance through invalidation of the other. The core self would then attempt in all situations to assert itself through whatever internal psychological means possible to it, thus undermining the contextual self’s attempts to adapt to social change. The assumed dominance of the core self rejects change and therefore stifles adaptability, a fundamental trait for human survival.

I contend that there is a struggle between what we have here termed the “core self” and the inconstant or contextual self, but I assert that it is contextual self who is the higher up on the internal hierarchy. Based on millenia of human existence, the adaptability of humanity has proven to be its primary strength. Humans are the only single species to have independently invaded and established colonies on every surface of the earth. This remarkable achievement cannot be attributed to humankinds thick skin, impressive teeth or claws, armored exoskeleton, thick fur, great speed or strength. While it is true that our intelligence is part of what makes us who we are, earlier versions of human beings are thought to have had brains every bit as large and complex as our own; some early versions of man may have had even larger brain size. It is not intelligence which has marked humankind as remarkable, it is the use of that intelligence to adapt, to change the self to match environment. I contend that it is this very biological attribute of humankind which proves that the core self is the smaller self, that it is the contextual self which holds sway and has power. It is the contextual self that allows for greater adaptation and therefore allows a greater chance of survival regardless of situation.

While it is possible that the core self may indeed adapt, any change or adaptation to the core self must temporary in order for the core to be structuarally maintained. This means that any adaptations that the core makes are false and can be readily forgotten or discovered as lies. The strength of the contextual self is not that the personality appears to change in a situation, but that the contextual personality actually does change. The malleable nature of this self allows for greater internal flexibility and consistencey because it is not lying when it changes. The contextual self is the self created anew from the situation, whereas the core self is the self in a situation, struggling to appear adaptable without changing. Clearly, if the core self exists, it is the weaker of the two. It is stiff, brittle, perhaps even vestigial.