Monday, December 28, 2009

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

I ask my friend Mido, mostly in jest. It's a question I pull out when conversation gets philosophical or speculative, and I don't want to answer the questions at hand.

Usually, what I get is an eye-roll or a quick laugh, and move on from there to new, less difficult ground.

But Mido said "That's a good question." Which stopped me cold. Because it actually is. We didn't say anything more, just stopped for a moment and thought while the baklava we were making sat half-finished on the counter in front of us.

Then we shook ourselves back to the present and talked about holiday parties, college applications, and baking. The question has stayed with me all week.

Because hypothetical questions, like philosophy, aren't purely the speculative domain of armchair intellectuals and teenagers intent on showing their wit. We need philosophy because we need meaning, and we need hypothetical questions because we make choices, and almost every choice is based on an examination of multiple potential futures. Without hypothetical questions, how would we choose? How would we even know we had a choice?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why do I procrastinate?

I ask myself this question almost every day, or at least every time I find myself writing a paper on the day that it's due. And yet, in so many years, I still haven't found a fully satisfactory answer.

I'll have to get back to you on that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why Procrastinate?

I asked an uncle of mine how to learn to get things done. He said:

"Why? The best talks I've ever had ideas for I've never given. Some of the best books I own I've never read. The only problem I've ever found with not doing anything is I never know when I'm finished...."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why Mattathiasing?

The title of this blog is a noun turned into a verb turned into a noun. It is also a wordplay on what was already a wordplay on my first two names, one Hebrew in origin, the other Punjabi. You may notice that the url is slightly different than the title: this is in homage to Douglas Adams, who never believed in writing the same thing the same way twice. In short, the title of this blog is connected deeply to who I am and what I love: words, wordplay, internal inconsistencies, and Douglas Adams.

If the word mattathiasing were used in a sentence, it would be something like "I was planning on going mattathiasing later today, after visiting the library. Would you like to come along?" Mattathiasing, as noted, is a verbal noun called a gerund: since mattathias is a name and not a verb, mattathiasing can be tentatively described as the act of being Mattathias, or the action of doing things which are particularly mattathiasy in nature. It may also be seen as the act of trying to come to a greater understanding of what it means to be a Mattathias.

And that is what I will strive to do on this blog. What you, dear reader, are looking at is the greatest internet compilation of Mattathias looking into what it means to be Mattathias anywhere on the internet. Perhaps it also says something about what it means to be you.

Why is writing so hard?

I just asked my Dad that question, and he had three theories, in quick succession.

1) Writing is hard because our fingers cramp up.

2) Writing is hard because we have too many words; if we wrote everything in binary, we'd only have to use 0's and 1's.

3) Writing isn't hard anymore, but we still think it is because we have the evolutionary memory of how hard it was for our ancestors who had to carve letters into stone: writing is easy, but we recoil from it out of instinct.

After we debated these responses, he settled on a more satisfactory, but less colorful answer: writing is hard because any type of writing requires careful thought in order to provide the meaning provided in conversation by intonation, hand gestures, etc. Good writing is especially hard because it requires even more careful thought, in order to be logically sound, to take other points of view into consideration, etc. Also, writing is hard because anything worth doing is hard. (My father points out that breathing is worth doing, but is not hard. So this last statement cannot in fact be taken as a universal.)