Tag Archives: life

Self-Searching: An Introspective

“Know Thyself” is an ancient and well known aphorism, but it’s one that is often mistaken, or misinterpreted, with a rather broad meaning. While I could break down the Ancient Greek and dissect the term, I prefer to explore what it means to me in particular.

My studies in Plato and Continental Philosophy have driven me to a very particular interpretation of the aphorism “know thyself,” that which Plato ascribes to Socrates in several of his dialogues, particularly Phaedrus and Protagoras. This splits the meaning of the phrase between two rather similar definitions.

gnothi seautonPhaedrus: “Now I have no leisure for such enquiries; shall I tell you why? I must first know myself as the Delphian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous.” The direct text refers to the “newly” found philosophy of mythology, which Socrates says he has no time for, because he must know himself before exploring such vague, or “crude” tales, which take a great deal of time to study. This in turn details a much deeper trait — that of seeking understanding of the self before that of outside things, because you cannot understand the objective without having an understand of the subjective.*

*This is, of course, my personal interpretation of Plato’s writings here. There are many other ways to dissect this dialog.

Protagoras: “All these were lovers and emulators and disciples of the culture of the culture of the Lacedaemonians, and any one may perceive that their wisdom was of this character; consisting of short memorable sentences, which they severally uttered. And they met together and dedicated in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, as the first-fruits of their wisdom, the far-famed inscriptions, which are in all men’s mouths,-‘Know thyself,’ and ‘Nothing too much.’ Why do I say all this? I am explaining that this Lacedaemonian brevity was the style of primitive philosophy.” Here, Plato focuses on the uselessness of such aphorisms in their common usage — sayings which are expected to have a self-evident definition, yet it is typically unclear how one would live life according to their meanings. These sayings are typical by their broad definitions, and their reliance on personal discover, self-reflection and self-referencing for understanding. The deeper focus here is once again, how the subjective takes focus above and beyond the objective — one must understand such aphorisms, “know thyself,” before being able to apply them outwardly, or attempt an understanding of the outside influences upon them.

So by now you’re probably thinking “okay, what’s your point?”

“Know thyself” is a statement which references the self. Me. I must understand myself before I am able to understand anything else. The aphorism was popularized in modern culture by the film The Matrix (1999), and despite some of the film’s other lackluster attempts at philosophy, it manages a fairly solid interpretation of the phrase: “It means know thyself. I wanna tell you a little secret, being ‘The One’ is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love, you just know it, through and through.” Take this line to a second level of interpretation, much like when reading Plato, and you’ll find a rather poignant moment of foreshadowing for the film — Neo doesn’t become “The One” until he accepts himself as the role, and isn’t able to fulfill his fate as the savior of Zion until he better understands the manufactured part he plays in the story.

Again, you’re probably thinking “okay, seriously, what’s your point?”

Well here’s the point — lately my own thoughts have strayed close to the aphorism “know thyself.” I’ve been putting some significant focus on discovering who I am so far in 2015. This has been a trying year to date and I have discovered that, in order to better adjust to the necessary changes I have had to make, I need to understand myself better and interpret these life events through the veil of self-reflection/knowledge.

While, I am sure, my personal need to better know myself before seeking understanding in the world around me is exactly that, a personal need, perhaps there is merit in the idea that self-understanding benefits understanding of the Other. Consider this: In his first volume of the Horror of Philosophy, “In The Dust Of This Planet,”* Eugene Thacker explores how the horror genre attempts to think about the world-without-us, a term which describes the complete removal of the human when discussing the Planet (Earth), philosophically, using non-philosophical conventions. For Thacker, the Planet (world-without-us) is a wholly “Other” thing, something which cannot be understood in human terms, making it impossible to even think about it. It is truly “unknown.” Perhaps Otherness can never be understand in these circumstances; however, it is impossible to even attempt an understanding without first knowing the person seeking such understanding — myself.

*As a side note, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even vaguely interested in philosophy, genre horror, or similar topics. I eagerly await volume 2, which should be arriving any day now.

Whether or not I am able, or even seek, to understand the Other, it is crucial for happiness and living a fulfilled life, that I understand myself. Knowing myself will allow me to know life, and that is an under appreciated skill…


Once more unto the breach…

Making a habit out of this is harder than I ever give it credit. I want to write. I have the ambition to. I even have the motivation. But then other things distract me, like video games, or… working out. So I end up… not. It does give me good fodder for updates though.

So it’s been… nearly five months since my last post. Since then I’ve dropped “several” pounds (30 or so), played some video games, written some stuff and, in general, been a very busy boy. I proposed to my then girlfriend, now fiancee, and Christmas has occurred. A busy time for all, and no time for anything.

This, of course, doesn’t make me special, or stand out from any of the hundreds of thousands of other people who did probably much of the same over that time period. However, it does mark several momentous occasions in my life – notably the proposal. Of course, it would have been far more interesting if I had updated here around the time that had happened (Halloween, for reference), but again – busy.

So the question is… why am I updating now?
Good question.

The answer, I guess, is because I want to. I want to write more, I really do. I just always get sidetracked. I sit here waiting for a scheduled Google+ Hangout with a group of friends from an online forum and I was thinking “Hey, now’s a good time to knock out a blog post.” And I was right, it is. But what to say…

I recently beat Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which was an excellent game. I’m looking forward to picking up the… third in the series? Lords of Shadow 2 when it comes out next month (Note: I probably won’t get it next month). Yes, “2” is the third in the series. A Nintendo 3DS game, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, is the direct sequel to the first title, and it was released for the Xbox Arcade in October. So I’ll play that next.

The game relaunches the Castlevania franchise with a new storyline and approach to the classic series. I appreciated what was changed with the game, what was kept, and how subtle nuances that made it feel like a Castlevania game were worked in. The biggest change… “feel-wise” for me was the music. The Castlevania games have always had amazing soundtracks, and this title was no exception, but none of the classic songs were there, like “Vampire Killer” or “Bloody Tears.” They were missed, but I enjoyed the game’s soundtrack nonetheless. Mechanically, it felt much like playing the Playstation 2 Castlevania titles, but more polished. Overall I’d give the game a solid 8/10.

Since then, I’ve started playing Dishonored, which is fantastic so far.

Other than that (and the proposal) life has been… normal. Work, food, gym. I just got over debilitating illness – my first in a year – and my stomach is still touchy about what I put in it, but all in all things are looking good. Band stuff has been steady, the Call of Cthulhu game I run has been good. All in all times are good. And I’m not even waiting for the other shoe to drop… what has become of me?

Look for another update this weekend, hopefully… and more time in the future. For now, I go to listen to music, prepare for the Hangout and dream of dark skies and madness.

Monday Fitness Update

So once a week, now that I am actively working out and trying to lose weight and get in better shape, I weigh myself and take my general measurements. Neck, chest, bicep (right), forearm (right), waist, hips, thigh (right) and calf (right). This is to track progress and get a better sense of where I am at in general. A combination of weight, neck and waist measurements can give you an approximate body fat percentage, and it helps motivate me to keep going.

Monday morning, after my workout and shower, I take all of these measurements, log them, and then go about my day. I also keep track of how many calories I ate over the previous week (Sunday-Saturday) and how many I burned, to get an idea of if I’m eating enough, eating too much or not working out enough. So, without further ado – here is this mornings’ measurements.

Weight: 185 lbs
BMI: 25.1*
Body Fat %: 23.79

Neck: 16″
Chest: 42″
Bicep: 13.25″
Forearm: 12″
Waist: 39″ 😦
Hips: 38″ 😦
Thigh: 23.5″
Calf: 16.25″

*I’m 6′.

For reference, I ate far too little this week, at only 10,854 calories (I should be hitting at least 12,000), but my burn totals were pretty fantastic at 19,175. Now I just need to boost my intake without letting the burn suffer.

I lost 4 pounds this week, which is kind of insane. This could be due to a variety of factors, but I honestly expect it to go up slightly next week, probably to 186. However, if it drops again to 184 I’ll be happy. My main goal is to drop waist inches though – to at least 36″, preferably 34″. If I can hit this goal in another 4 weeks I will accomplish my first question/mission/challenge for Nerd Fitness and hit level 1!

Today… I still have a good bike ride to do (plus a Call of Cthulhu campaign to run), so I need to head out to eat dinner and get ready for those things. Expect to see a similar post to this every Monday, and some more interesting content coming soon.

Oh hey look at that…

So yeah, it’s been well over a year since last time I posted. Life has been hectic. Work, play, more work, less play, some lifestyle changes, etc. But I’m back! Here’s what has been going on.

I’m in a band now – Origin of Inertia. We do nerd metal, it’s a thing.

I started changing my diet and eating Paleo – which is basically the removal of heavily processed food, most simple carbs and grains and legumes from your diet.  Basically, I don’t eat bread, pasta, sugar, baked goods, potatoes (often), rice (often), cereal or beans (often). It’s interesting, and I definitely feel healthier and like I have more energy.  Plus it’s an awesome excuse to eat steak. Every. Night.

I also started working out – then stopped – then started again more recently with more motivational support. It has been great. I feel stronger and I have more energy (again).

I’m drinking less. What?

I’m running a biweekly Call of Cthulhu game, woo creativity!

So what does that mean for Aberro Specus? Well, with all the “lifestyle” changes I’ve been making the primary goal is, kinda obviously, to be happier. And non-work-related writing makes me happy, so my goal is to start posting here again, and stick with it (the hard part). I’m going to make it easy on myself with some sub-goals.

  • Post once a week.
  • Post quality content.
  • Talk about shit that is actually going on in my life as well as random musings.

That’s it. The Nerd Fitness community takes a gaming approach to fitness and setting goals, so I’m going to incorporate this into mine. So hopefully that will keep my posting. There are several new types of posts that will show up then, in order to keep myself organized and motivated:

  • Workout related stuff (sorry if you don’t care)/weekly journal of fitness and nutrition.
  • New life goals
  • Home improvement projects

That last one might have thrown you – but the idea is that I’m funneling money saved from drinking less and some other things into getting some new furniture, and more importantly, building new furniture – as well as some other things for the house. So stay tuned there.

That’s it for now – Stay tuned for the first weekly fit/nut update on Monday.

A Letter to a Younger Me

So, as many of you know, we have a weekly rotating theme amongst the blogenning. This weeks theme was chosen by Brandon, and is in fact – a letter written to ourselves, 10 years ago. Also, sorry for the lack of updates this week, things have been hectic. So, here goes.

Back To The Future

Don't worry, this isn't how time travel works...

Dear Ian,

Relax. It’s okay. I know… flashy portal appearing in front of you, a piece of paper popping out. Just weird. But it’s cool, I promise. Apparently we’ve mastered time travel. Although… we can only send letters back… it’s odd. Anyway.

How’s it going? You’re probably pretty bored. Poland, NY sucked, I know. But it gets better. You do get to go to Boston for college, but not the school you’re thinking of at this point. And you meet some damn awesome people, I promise. Though things don’t go perfectly, it’s better than a lot of other options. Also, don’t worry so much about your major, you’re going to change it once you meet a certain professor anyway.

I probably shouldn’t reveal too much of the future. All I have to say is keep reading… and watch more movies. There are some interesting things going on in the near future, and you’ll want to be a part of them. Speaking of… something crazy is going to happen in a few days… don’t ignore it. It’s going to change a lot of things in this country, for better and worse (mostly worse)… so stay on top of things.

Life does get interesting here in the next few years. You get to travel, see parts of the world, and have fun doing it. Don’t rush things though, and remember to pay attention to the little details. Also, stop caring so much about what other people think of you. They don’t matter. You do. If you’re happy that’s all that matters, so relax a bit. Remember, no one’s perfect, in fact, most people avoid perfection. So just be yourself, to hell with everyone else.

So… I know this finds you well, and I know you can’t write back. But just say hi to the cats for me, and give mom and dad a hug.

~Ian (at 25, almost 26)

P.S. – The winning numbers for the MA powerball on Feb 14th, 2004 are/were 10-24-25-35-43… Enjoy.