The future of love (NSFW)

The future of love (NSFW)

In what some people call the “Age of Narcissism,” we have to be bigger than the universe. We have to be most important. And we have no time for other people who don’t add value to our lives. We have already moved away from traditional “meet-cute” love, i.e. we’ve digitalized love through apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, etc. And with the advent of “sex robots” (soon to be without such a clumsy description – “sex robot” seems how we might have thought of android love in the 1950’s), it will only be a matter of time before the accessibility and readily-available nature of artificially-intelligent partners will supersede the time and effort it takes to impress a real one. Watch the trailer for “The Sex Robots are Coming” below for an illustrative example. Humans, for being such social creatures, have been struggling to meet and maintain romantic partners, and maintain especially in the long-term. Why, then, wouldn’t we just buy the copy? Why wouldn’t you just go to the store to get the latest model which takes no work on your part (besides spending a set dollar amount, and probably dignity amount as well) to woo? And then, consequently, having a real, warm-to-the-touch partner would become an “artisan” experience; the organic alternative to those made in a factory. The future of sex Let’s back up for a moment; this relationship is already moving too fast. When we talk about the future of love, we’re really talking about the future of sex. One precedes the other; the idea that people will come to prefer the company of artificially-intelligent humans over the...
The Guilt of Tangential Crimes

The Guilt of Tangential Crimes

  “The point of civilization is to be civilized; the purpose of action is to perpetuate society, for only in society can philosophy truly take place.” – Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio   As a German-American raised in Minnesota after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, my relationship to the Cold War, to a divided Germany, and to the war that led to it, was very tangential: Talked about in abstracts, pointed out in black-and-white photos, running together with all the other great and important and terrible events in history for which there is no place in the world today. It wasn’t never discussed in “Remember when…” terms, because it was before, what seemed like a long, long time before, my time. Grandparents who had lived through it, one set in the United States, and one set in Germany, were my only true connection to this time in American history. But Germany has treated history very differently than we have here: It’s 2017 now, and long has America ignored its responsibility to the past. We have parades, yes, where we wave flags and sing songs of patriotism. And we have museums. Museums dedicated to the past and everything that the country was/is built upon so we can look at them, nod our heads in deep understanding, and then leave it all behind. We have the History Center here in Minnesota. There’s the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., which only opened in 2003. And we have monuments, which some people have trouble differentiating from the museums; the differences between...
Desire: A philosophy of wants and needs (NSFW)

Desire: A philosophy of wants and needs (NSFW)

We all know the things we want. And we all know the things we want that we don’t tell anyone else about. We lust, we hide, we lie, we cheat, we need. We desire. It’s inherently, truthfully, human. So, what is desire? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s to want or wish for (something) : to feel desire for (something) to want to have sex with (someone) to express a wish for (something) Since Antiquity we have tried to explain our wants and needs, and why they hold so much sway over our actions. Desire is what drives all of us, and, at least according to Hobbes, is the reason we as humans do anything. Or, even simpler, desire is wanting. And as Elizabeth Anscombe says, “The primitive sign of wanting is trying to get.” Pleasure-based desire The most ubiquitous, and perhaps the most powerful, is pleasure-based desire. Why spouses cheat on spouses, why people break laws, why Fifty Shades of Grey (pictured) makes housewives blush en route to $85 million on opening weekend, and a grand-total $571 million worldwide. What is it about desire? A simple explanation for this comes from Denise Cummins, Ph.D. in her interview with Psychology Today: “Part of it, of course, is simple curiosity in bondage and sadomasochistic sexuality (BDSM). That part is simple to explain: The pain and fear that comes with sadomasochistic sex causes the brain to shunt blood flow away from its executive “decision-making” areas (frontal cortex), which results in an altered state of consciousness in both the giver and the receiver. Like autoerotic asphyxiation or cocaine, experiencing fear and pain can heighten sexual gratification, but at some cost.” But, if you look at...
Is the person who makes you miserable happier than you are?

Is the person who makes you miserable happier than you are?

Or, is my optimism misplaced? Smell the lilacs. Kick the leaves. Watch the cat in the window with his lazy paw dangling from the ledge, his ears twitching in the sun. Feel the sun on your face. Smell the air. Nod at the passing parents and their stroller, and the something small and soft and round sleeping inside. Somewhere there is a car accident. Somewhere there are sirens, shrill and strident. But they are worlds and lives away. Here and now we need nothing but simple existence. Because people always want something to happen. Need something to happen. (Simply existing in this world is not enough.) But there is no need to force a plot forward, no need for a catalyst or a deus ex machina. Just the simple beating of an imagination. Just the world around you and all the details that bring it to life. There are people all around, sure. These people have lives – of course things happen to them. (Car crashes and police sirens.) But they can happen naturally, normally, without begging for a result. Without video footage, responses, likes, shares. When something is forced to happen in a world as beautiful as this it cheapens the experience: Like trying to describe/define perfection instead of basking in its glow. Drama so miserable It’s been defined as drama like “omg I’m so done with all this drama” and it’s been defined in reality television like Osbournes and Kardashians and looking for eternal love in an elimination game with a poorly-done soundtrack. It’s watching someone else’s life because it lets you escape from your own. It’s comparing and...
My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

Cancer is an uninvited guest, a dark shadow on a sunny day, a pointedly mean joke without punchline or retribution. It inspires sympathetic head-shakes and hugs from those who might understand or only think they do. Everyone, it seems, knows someone who has battled cancer. Or at least knows someone who knows someone who has battled cancer (win or lose). Or someone that is currently in the fight. And what is left behind. On life and death  The room is a warm and steady 72 degrees. It doesn’t change much. In the hallway, the bustle of doctors and nurses in scrubs and white coats. We are at Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul. The plants are plastic: living things are harmful. But there is still life here, watching my mother dance around the room in a hospital gown to music I play for her. The windows can’t be opened but sunlight is streaming through the pane with warmth as real as the summer outside. But things are different inside than outside. Inside, cut off from the melange of cars and people that cris-cross through downtown streets. From their lives and stories. This is 2004, a decade before the Light Rail first passed in front of the hospital. She would have been excited about that. It’s hard to write a story like this without coming across as sob (or looking for sympathy). As I write this, my neighbor’s dog is chasing a rabbit from the yard, barking, soon to be covered in dirt and mud, blissfully unaware of the emotional trials of humans. The dog does not offer sympathy, only support; companionship, and...
The beautiful people or: Viewing people viewing people

The beautiful people or: Viewing people viewing people

What do we know about people? Or rather, what do we know about ourselves? Because, whether we like it or not, much of what we think we know about others comes from what we think we know about ourselves. We often use other people as a mirror; as a reflection of our best and worst qualities. It’s no wonder, then, that we are either drawn to, or repulsed by, certain personality types/different people. Science says we’re attracted to those with the same DNA as us; that we’re predisposed to like those who look/think/act/live similar to the way we do. This seems like such a small-minded, and limiting way to live in a world where “looks like me” is becoming an increasingly subjective, and polarizing, basis of judgment. But it shapes much of our day-to-day, even (especially) when we don’t realize it. Inclusivity In recent years, the cultural trend seemed to be one of celebration; of differences and similarities alike, of togetherness. After electing Barack Obama as the first black president in U.S. history, same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States (on June 26, 2015, at which point over 1/2 of states were already there). The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that denying the fundamental institution of marriage to same-sex couples violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But perhaps more importantly are the almost intangible gains made during the last eight years, and for many years before that; the general push toward acceptance and progress. We’ve come a long way since the days blatant/accepted discrimination (women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps…),...