Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How do you judge a party?

How do we judge if a party is good or bad? This question was asked by my professor in the aesthetics course. A few of my peers answered: "I see if anyone is having fun", "I see if anyone is dancing", "I listen if the music is any good", "I see how many of my friends are there". So as I sat there listening to all the answers, I didn't hear anyone mention the most important ingredient in a great party, which from my perspective is the food! Therefore, I said to the professor that I personally looked at the food to judge a party. Then, she answered, "yes, food is very important as long as it isn't weird", so to that end I replied "but, I like weird food". Then, she went on to say something that made me think that what I had just replied wasn't completely true. She said that there is some "really weird food" and even if the food itself isn't weird to one individual, it might very well be weird to everyone else in a group. So, that got me to thinking, when I told the teacher that I like weird food, what I really meant was that I like what other people perceive as weird food, even if too me eating that "weird" dish is as normal as having a sandwich for lunch. So, I came to the conclusion, if I call a certain food weird - that does not make it weird, this just means it is weird to me. So, what about my continuous focus on absolute truth? Well, that is easy, it is true that you and I were not raised by the same parents. It is also true that your parents were not raised by the same parents that raised my parents. All of this effects directly our personal taste, because "good ole home cooking" does not mean the same to you and I. To me a great homemade meal might be "fried iguana with hot sauce" and to you it might be "Chicken fried steak with brown gravy".

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What happens in the Dark?

"I am going to walk into a small pitch dark room filled with sharp objects; some contaminated needles, a few knives, seven or eight double edged swords, and a few blades hanging from the ceiling." This is what came to mind after I read a blog somewhere in the blogosphere pertaining to existence. Now, let's imagine that I actually setup this room and decided that I don't feel like walking into it, so I tell you "Hey, if you run in there and come back out with the backpack that's at the back of the room in seven seconds, I will give you ten bucks". But, I don't mention a word about the sharp objects that cover every single square foot of the room, leaving you at risk of certain death. Because we can all agree that the sharp objects in the room exist, even if they cannot be sensed by way of sight. Therefore, knowing that these objects exist, I will deal with the question at hand: What happens in the dark? Logically, as I've already stated, the person running into the room will face certain death, lethally puncturing vital organs and having extremities severed in an instant. Nevertheless, the point is not the existence of the sharp objects, but instead the lack of an element that could have saved the life of the victim, in this instance that element being knowledge of the truth. Therefore, wanting to emphasize this point, I would like to bring this famous saying to the table; "What you don't know, won't hurt you". Surely, taken completely out of context in this case, it is still very relevant. We use this saying in situations that we believe are better off unsaid and consequently better off unheard. Yet, we ignore the reality that the affects of truth still exist even if the truth is left in the dark. For example, a married couple will start having problems after one of the individuals starts having an extra marital relationship, even if the marriage was going great before the affair ever existed. Although, in this case, the adulterer will know the reason behind the problems and the faithful individual will not be sure of the problem causing the problems. The adulterer might think; what the partner doesn't know wont hurt him or her. But, in fact that is a contradiction in itself, because the relationship was harmed the instant the affair came into existence, thus hurting the partner. Still, truth doesn't only affect in this situation, but in all situations where truth is present it will affect positively or negatively, depending on the truth. Therefore, to conclude, the truth is that if you don't have a basic and firm understanding of truth, you can never be sure of anything, not even your own existence.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How does it Taste?

It was a dark and gloomy day, the air blew with might and rain pounded the very fibers of the Social Sciences building. I was about to take the stand to go forth and face my destiny. Then, like a roar from a hungry lion seeking to tear me to shreds and devour me, I heard those dreadful words, "you are next". Then I stood and took my position, as if getting ready to be executed in front of an anxious firing squad. The fear penetrated deep into my soul as I began with these words, "Today I will share with you a few exhilarating details about my Guatemalan culture". OK, so maybe I was slightly overly dramatic, but it is a fact that one of the most feared tasks by Americans is to give a public speech. But, today we are not talking about fear, I will leave that topic open for a later post. Today, I want to talk about taste perception and how this is very important. Because I can say this dish is exquisite, then you might be eating the exact same dish a few hundreds miles down the road and say this is horribly disgusting. So, who is right? Let's first seek out the absolute truths and then move from that on to the question at hand. To begin with, what dish are we arguing about? Well, see the image I added, those round potato looking things are called "rellenitos de platano". They are egg shaped deserts made out of plantains filled with black re-fried beans and covered with a bit of sugar. Then they are served with a side of sour cream, and they are amazingly and exquisitely a jaw dropping delicacy, from my perspective. So, some of you might be disgusted at the mere thought of having to eat this desert. So, let's recap; it is truth that this is a "rellenito de platano" and nobody can deny that, even if the masses declare it to be a fried rat, it is still what it is. Another truth is that the tongue, which the is the central organ of the gustatory system, has four primary taste submodalities generally recognized as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. So, we can all sense sweetness from the sugar, sense sourness from the sour cream, and maybe even bitterness and saltiness from the "rellenito de platano". But our perception of delicacy or disgust is not as easy as sensing these four submodalities of the gustatory system. We can sense sweetness, but it is up to our personal taste to declare that sweetness is delicious or disgusting. We are given food when we can't consciously choose our meals, but it is then that we begin developing our personal taste. So, as a child you can gain pleasure from eating a donut and acquire a sense of disgust from eating broccoli, while your friend being the same age can have the opposite reaction. This contributes to your personal taste, which grows in knowledge as you experience different flavors and combinations of flavors. So, going back to the base question, Who is right? Well, both of the characters in this story are right, because our perception of good versus disgusting is derived from our personal taste. But the original question should be phrased, "How does it taste to you?". Because we have all had different experiences, which have molded our personal taste. Not withholding the truth; this a "rellenito de platano" and it is a desert originated in Guatemala. This brings into attention a logical deduction; Individuals will reasonably be expected to pursue those experiences that they find pleasurable, and they will make their investments derived from patterns of past pleasures. I will seek to stuff my belly with "rellenitos de platano", while you seek to stuff yours with a cake, chocolate dipped strawberries, or a combination of both.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Simple Truth About Truth

I have engaged in many discussions throughout my lifetime, from the meaning of life to the very concept of death. Although, whether you look at death or life, there is something that you must always seek to find, and that is truth. And maybe you say, "truth can be perceived differently by the masses", therefore in a crowd of thinkers, they might all be saying their version of the same truth. For example, in a given new years celebration in Times Square, there can be a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people. Then, let's imagine that out of the darkness of the midnight sky, a ray of light hits the surface of the famous Ball that everyone is watching being lowered as they count down the last three seconds to the beginning of a brand new year. Now, the ray only lasts two seconds, disappearing into the darkness one second before the start of the new year. Afterwards, many speculate about the source and even assure they saw the source of the ray of light; thousands affirm they saw a UFO, others will assure it was a sign from God, and others will even create false images "proving" their theory to become big celebrities. So, who do we believe? How, do we know the person or persons supposedly coming up with the "proof" are saying the truth, taking into consideration all the high tech tools we have at our disposal to modify images. But, there is yet another possibility concerning all of this, and that is that nobody saw the source of the ray. Now, many people can believe the theories and others can assure that they saw a UFO, a dragon, a unicorn, and many other things. But, if nobody saw the source, even if this truth cannot be proven, it doesn't lose it's validity as truth. This is called absolute truth and it exists everywhere, even if it cannot be perceived or proven. Because, a lie perceived as truth by billions is still a lie, and a truth believed by one versus the lies of the billions is still truth.