S&F and Philosophy Now: Existence and the Matrix

The following cartoon accompanied the print version of A Justification of Empirical Thinking (Philosophy Now).  The article got me to thinking about the Matrix film where Neo is asked whether he wanted to take the blue pill (fabricated reality) vs. the red pill (the truth behind the reality).  This fork in the road seems loosely based on a classical philosophical problem, that being Hume’s problem of induction, that is, how do we know whether reality is real?  Can we trust our experience of our senses?  Or, is this all an illusion as we row, row, row our boats, gently down the stream?

S&F BrainVat PN 1000 x 2200 300 dpi V2 SmallYou take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Morpheus to Neo
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S&F Bacon and Nietzsche’s Abyss

S&F Bacon Nietzsche smallThis cartoon came out of a visit to the Francis Bacon and Thomas Moore exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  I’m not a fan of Bacon’s work due to how grotesquely he interprets humanity, which makes for disturbingly visceral viewing experience.

Anyhow, the visit gave rise to subsequent debates about what one chooses to experience in life, in that the lover of knowledge cannot remain merely an observer.  So… is it always best to seek out all knowledge, regardless of what that knowledge is?  Or, is it sometimes best to deliberately look away from the awful when one has the choice?

I don’t have the answer of course, but do think Nietszche’s abyss quote touches on the  spiritual echo that can result from our choices. For a lighter take on this concept, feel free to check out a prior illustrated story, Ernie & The Nietzsche Monster.

I am a painter of the 20th century: during my childhood I lived through the revolutionary Irish movement, Sinn Fein, and the wars, Hiroshima, Hitler, the death camps, and daily violence that I’ve experienced all my life. And after all that they want me to paint bunches of pink flowers … But that’s not my thing. The only things that interest me are people, their folly, their ways, their anguish, this unbelievable, purely accidental intelligence which has shattered the planet, and which maybe, one day, will destroy it.”  – Francis Bacon, 2003

S&F & the Arctic Grail, repurposed

Some time ago I wrote a brief post on McKenzie Funk’s awesome bit of writing on territory wars ensuing from the melting ice in the Arctic.  I wanted to redraw the cartoon as the original was pretty rough.  Here is the more evolved S&F for this week.  🙂

S&F McKenzie Funk repurposed small

S&F Nothing New Under the Sun

S&F New Under the Sun1 smallPS.  This cartoon was a bit delayed in getting out there, sorry!  The gorgeous weather this weekend made it hard to sit down at a computer.  On an unrelated note, I added a page with a couple of art pieces to the blog.  You can see it here.  🙂

S&F Taming Tigers

S&F Tiger Taming smallThis cartoon wasn’t meant to be particularly funny per se, but is more a comment on a conversation (aka minor skirmish) I had earlier this week.  We were talking about risk-taking vs. non-risk taking behaviour, at which point my colleague quipped: “It’s easier to tame a tiger than to paint stripes on a kitty cat.”

The conversation went on for a while until I burst in with a series of complaints of how actually it would not be easier to tame a tiger, it would be in fact much easier to paint stripes on a cat (and safer).

They both looked at me with some amusement as I had missed the whole point, that being it’s easier to make behavioural changes (taming a tiger), than it is to make fundamental shifts in being (changing a kitty cat into a tiger).

All this said, my logic brain would still would favour painting stripes than taming a tiger, but the following quote sort of sums it up:

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” 

— Henry David Thoreau