A Catastrophy By Anna Morello

Three months ago a stray cat ran into my house as I opened the door to get my mail.I have not had a cat for a very long time; I believe it has been at least 65 years. My last cat was Minnie Moo, but that is another story.

Try as I might I could not get this cat out of my house. She was fast. I am slow. She was agile. I am fragile. Ultimately I surrendered. There was no other possible outcome so I was forced to keep her.Boots, this was the name I gave her, was rather a nice looking cat Her coat was shiny black and she had a white chest and four white paws.Did I mention she was fully grown?

Boots was aloof and not at all like the cuddly cats of my memory. There was an air of haughtiness about her and I glimpsed,now and then, a certain know it all look in her eyes. She avoided me and I avoided her, That is how we co-habitated.

About a month ago, as I was reading a book by Marquez, she jumped into my lap shaking my solitude. She stared at me with an intensity never before seen in an animal. How strange. I decided to ignore her. I colud be aloof,too. Then she said”Spinoza”; she said this in a distinctly cat dialect.. In shock and disbelief I thought”Am I entering senility?Am I already there?”After a few moments of eternity I sais”What?” She replied “I sais Spinoza and stop calling me Boots. My name is Brenda.” We stared at each other. I was trembling;she was calmly lickin her paws. Then I found my voice and I asked Boots,er, Brenda,”What about Spinoza. Why did you say Spinoza? Why did you say any thing?” She jumped off my lap,turned towards me and said, “Because he helps answer many of the questions you have had roiling your mind for these many years.” As she walked away I thought I heard her mutter “Plato,Aristotle,Aquinas,Maimonides” Or was she just meowing?

I sat for a very long time trying to comprehend what had happened. Do I have a cat that speaks? And does she understand philosophy? What are the symptoms of senility? I made a mental note to look them up on Google.

After a very disturbed and unsettled sleep and several mugs of strong coffee I decided to compose myself. “Get a grip” was the mental command I ordered. Then Brenda lept onto the chair next to and said”What chair would you choose to sit on,Plato’s chair or Aristotle’s chair?” Oh,what a clever cat. Plato’s chair or chairness exists as idea. Aristotle’s chair is real, material. This cat is definitely not a Platonist.. Fallin into my my own chasm of senility I asked how Brenda knew and understood these philosophers. “I was there at the time when they debated the great questions of meaning and existence.”I stammered, “But,but you cannot be that old. You would have long ago used up your nine lives.” Brenda was lightning quick with her challenge.”You really have forgotten your philosophy lessons. What did Rene Descartes write? “I think therefore I am” I had to agree that this cat had a point. “Oh,God,what am I saying?”

And so it went for the next days and weeks. I listened to Brenda’s discourse on the nature of God as presented by Aquinas and Anselm and how they sought to baptize Aristotle.As I recall it was a cold, snowy Thursday when Brenda announced she was going to sum up this part of what sounded like escatology. “Everything in philosophy is about Being and Becoming; the AM and the AM NOT. Spinoza knew that with reason we are able to understand this,” As she prepared to jump off my lap she said,”Pardon my English,but you and I AM NOT.”

I sat up all night trembling with fear and awe and wonder. My amazing feline just had to be shared with humanity. Wise counsel was what I needed and I came up with a plan. I would invite three of my former colleagues for lunch. And then present my scholarly,talkative Brenda to them. There was no doubt in my mind that they would advise me on how to proceed.Betty,Susan and Marge are brilliant, creative and very open-minded teachers. The trio quickly accepted my invitation. We had not seen each other in years. A week later they joyfully arrived. After hugs and kisses and lunch I announced the purpose of their visit.”I want the three of you to hear my cat discuss philosophy.” Happy smiles stopped. I heard their thoughts. “She’s gone.Poor Anna.” Ah,but wait until they meet and hear my Brenda. As on cue, the cat jumped into my lap. I urged Betty to ask Brenda any question in philosophy. If friendship meant anything Betty would certainly comply with my request.I knew that Betty,Susan and Marge loved the splendor of wisdom. This fact might overcome their skepticism. Betty sheepishly looked into my cat’s eyes and asked “According to Maimonides,what is God?”No answer.She asked again.”According to Maimonides,what is God?” Brenda just licked her paws. Betty persisted.”What does Maimonides say about God?”Brenda jumped off my lap and ran to her cat bed.That damn cat said not a word. My friends left soon after this fiasco.There was sadness in their eyes but they were kind, a kindness that came from long years of wonderful shared experiences.

I got a broom and began chasing that cat.”You traitor. You embarrassed me. Why didn’t you answer Betty’s question?Brenda turned on me and hissed,”Maimonides knew that there is nothing one can say about God.There is no predicate for God.”

Undone by a cat. My reputation in tatters shred to pieces by a cat. Depressed and exhausted I asked Brenda if she would ever speak about anything when any one else was present. She smiled. She smiled from ear to ear.

I wept
The foregoing is an original work of fiction by philosophe Anna Morello with whom I studied social science and history in the late 1970s.


Prayer: Secret Female Wisdom Tradition

It is possible that prayer was a secret female wisdom that was going on during the temple period. In the story of Hannah the high priest observes Hannah’s prayers but doesn’t know what she is doing. He thinks she is drunk. But if Rashi is to be believed Hannah’s co-wife Penina knew enough about prayer to try to mess with Hannah’s head to get her to pray; she deliberately mocks her for not having a son in order to get her angry and ultimately to pray. Hannah’s prayer is not actually to get something, because although she gets a son out of it she promises to give up the son so he can enter into divine service. It’s about establishing a relationship or exchange of energy. In this sense it may be a personal, extemporaneous, improvised version of the sacrifice system. In the sacrifice the animal is killed, offered to God, and then distributed to the sacrificer’s family and eaten. The same thing is given up and received back. The same with prayer, but the sacrifice is of intention, words, and desires.


Paradoxes of Sameness

For two things to be said to be the same, they have to be different, or there wouldn’t be two things to be said to be the same.

Even if we refer to things that seemingly are the same in two different ways, for example equilateral triangles and equiangular triangles, and say “equiangular triangles are the same as equilateral triangles” there must be a difference that can be referred to, because someone could know of a triangle that it is equilateral and not that it is equiangular for instance, and therefore one triangle has the property “known to be eqilateral” and the other the property “not known to be equilateral”.

If we say that two things are actually different though they must in some sense be the same. So for example Heracleitus says we cannot step in the same river twice. But he is able to identify something as a river in order to say of it that it is different from moment to moment. It’s different from talking about a shoe one moment and a river the next.

So it’s a problem!


Every Family Has its Skeletons in the Closet and So Does Every Ethnic Group

Because an ethnic group is sort of like a big family, right?

One time I was talking to a friend of mine from another ethnic group and he told me a big secret about them, but he made me promise that I change some of the details, so that Americans would not find out about his group and look down on them. So I have. I’ll call this ethnic group the Q-ians. They come from a country called Q — I won’t say if it is in Europe or Asia. It is a very old country, it has been conquered numerous times, and at two times in its history had a medium-sized empire. In the modern era it has experienced something of a successful diaspora, and has had somewhere between zero and ten Nobel prize winners in science and literature.


The dark secret of the Q-ians, which they are both very ashamed of and very proud of, is that their primary sexual excitement does not come from their relationships with their wives and husbands, which are actually more like a combination of what we call “f-buddies” and a way of raising the next generation. Their primary eroticism is expressed in midnight dances. All the Qians will gather in a house and dance. They have a dance of hate,a dance of fear, a dance of shame, a dance of love. These dances become more and more wild as the evening progresses. Juices are guzzled, clothes are shed, vatic poetry is channeled down from heaven, people have shaking spells and sometimes baking spells, creating huge cakes of symbolic tastes, doors opening, a guy jumping out, wearing a mystical hat that is torn to pieces, etc. Finally and sometimes the dances in the old country could take two or three years everybody sinks down exhausted, then goes back to their jobs — stock-broker, souvenir-salesman, nurse, and the numinous hang-over of the dance adds a color to their lives, dark, light, but always enlivening.

I promised as I said to change certain details of this secret so as not to blow their family’s cover. Obviously, it’s not really a dance.


Anne Jongeling Interview with Eric Kaplan About “Does Santa Exist”

This is a very good interview — it was conducted in English and published in Dutch. I ran it back through google translate and now I sound I feel I sound sort of Asian.

Here it is:

Eric Kaplan is the author of the popular series The Big Bang Theory and co-executive producer. He studied philosophy at Harvard University.

His is just the philosophical book Is Santa? appeared. But how to write comedies relate with university educated philosopher?

“I felt guilty about it first. Once I was so serious, I thought, and now I make up silly lyrics and plot twists,” said Kaplan in conversation with NU.nl.

In Santa exist? Kaplan will continue looking for ways out of this dilemma and seeks personal answers to the big questions: when we die, what is life worth? Is there a God? Is there a Santa Claus?

You best have a powerful position in Hollywood. Why do you have chosen for the book to make your point?

“I’m crazy When writing The Big Bang Theory we are on books. With a whole team of people, but writing a book, I just. Do it for me is a simple, direct, sincere way of communication between me and the reader, and I love it. ”

Humor find essential. Can you say something more about that?

“I think humor is important, it is a powerful weapon and it is for me also a tool My personality has a many sides:. Sometimes I blaak confidence and sometimes I feel little ones I can be very nice but also very critical Humor.. is a forgiving way to buy all these different properties for a place at the table. ”


“There are times when I wonder how I was and when on earth as confident as I could have something more modest draw me. And sometimes it’s the other way around, I was a mouse I had previously to air my chin stabbing. What is the proper dose of humility or self-confidence is at times remains constant deliberation. ”

Are you as critical of others and in yourself?

“That is all to it. Groucho Marx (comedian, ed.) Said he never wanted to join a club that wanted him as a member. When people like me, I tend to be at their critical because you space get it, you’re in the team. ”

“You can Santa replaced by Jesus Christ or by a socialist ideologue seeking the workers’ paradise.”

Eric Kaplan

In the Netherlands we have no real Santa Claus tradition. How can you explain your book to us?

“I would say that there a Santa Claus? A book that is a general discussion aims about believing and non-believing. Where people believe in Netherlands entail? You can Santa replaced by Jesus Christ or by a socialist ideologue that workers paradise pursues by God or the general goodness of people. ”

“Santa Claus is the man of the presents. Presents is interesting, because you can sometimes be much worrying how you can give someone the most fun gift. Then give that person eg money so that he can buy his favorite gift. But money is not a gift. ”

I meant that you compare Santa Claus in your book with Isaac Luria, the creator of the Tree of Life.

“Isaac Luria was a Jew and rabbi and kabbalist from Israel, and in my eyes he has satisfactorily addressed. A religious problem How do we come to a moral decision correct? Making a wrong decision is bad, but you can sure be forgiven. ”

Forgiveness does not depend on the agreements you make as a human being with each other, as a community, what can and can not pass muster?

“Yes. But what, you’re the last man on earth and you grow a flower. But you neglect the flower and die. Even as the last man on earth can you still your heart go you have to die flower , without an environment there is normative for, morally. There are people who think that morality applies only if you are part of a group and when you pointed out by others mistakes or errors but I do not. think so morality is a matter for the individual. ”

Why does the Tree of Life so much attention in your book?

“It is an approach to philosophy that attracts me, but others I do not want to impose. That imperative tone you hear sometimes when intellectuals who have something discovered and want others to go along with their ideas. That’s me combative, I’m a peace dove – that’s why the Tree of Life to me so much value, it is an inspiration that helps people get a certain individual perspective on their lives, and not Inspiring in groups is the key, coercion is not addressed people… should be able to choose what they want with it myself. ”

You log in your book do you find it so fun to launch a cult.

“Yes, that would be some. But I do want those who are attracted to my cult, itself start a cult, and that I can browse to the other what their ideas are. I do not believe in hierarchy that I find dangerous. ”

Hierarchy is nevertheless given a fairly standard?

“Yes, and I regret that in America you have the expression:.. Every man a king, I say to them:. Every man a cult leader If you believe so passionately in something that you take the trouble to a cult of it, then you want I know that that entails cult I just do not want that cult leader has power over me. I just want to hear what they have to say. ”

The ideas that one has less verbal or creative, cursed another appeal and wham, you have a leader and follower. That’s not so weird?

“I’m skeptical about it. I think everyone is original. Perhaps the must work harder to discover the originality in themselves but everyone is original because everyone has a different background. Are you from Netherlands, then you have your unique experience in Holland, with the landscape, your school, your family I do not know, so if you can explain what your heritage is, you’re original. ”

But not everyone can express themselves that way.

“That’s where Writers example observant regarding their environment, as other people do not have the time to record their environment in this way;.. Who have other priorities Or take players who have the talent to sounds of a guitar have to elicit what others can not. I do not even. ”

Then the circle still around? There are leaders and followers in which the one or the other admires what follows that can or because it knows how to articulate their ideas.

“Maybe, but it need not be hierarchical in theory, many people running around who think they know the truth about heaven, there may be many prophets. We do not have one person torpedo pope Incidentally, I have good. heard things about the Pope, so no bad word about the man, but to choose one I find limiting. who knows walk a hundred of potentially good popes in the Netherlands around. It may be interesting to hear what they have to say are . I’m not saying that the Netherlands should be Pope, but several hundred popes you should be able to pick up anyway. ”

I do not think the Conclave approves the existence of hundreds of popes simultaneously.

“That’s just the point: not everyone has to be accepted by everyone or be nominated.”

But people still need? Icons

“Best, choose only one icon. But the choice should be there. For example, a pope of ecological issues, a pope of folk dances, all popes where people can freely choose from. And if ecology and folk dancing you neither interest , leave them for what they are and choose one of the many other popes. ”

“In all four characters of The Big Bang Theory is something of myself.”

Eric Kaplan

How did you come to the various disciplines to make your point about Santa Claus? It’s philosophy in neuroscience to science to Kabbalah to Buddha.

“I’m moving in a very pragmatic way through life. I devour books because I want to get something out. Is With Santa, I do not give a complete history of human thought, that would be impractical. I’m looking for one goal. I for example, was become interested in Buddhism because I wanted to feel happy and Buddhists as a number of instruments which I thought for: “Gosh, they’re right. ‘”

“Know The psychologists example to explain why people are worried, and because I do I consult with psychologists. So I initially had a very selfish agenda for all topics that are addressed in my book.

The Kabbalah touched me in a similar way, because I always had a problem with the concept of God. How can there be a God given all the suffering on earth, anyway. When I came across the Kabbalah and found an understandable, acceptable answer that. It is a pretty story how can only come from a good source, while there is also evil. ”

How to write comedy relate with university educated philosopher?

“I felt first guilty about it once I was so serious, I thought, and now I make up silly lyrics and plot twists Why am I doing this when I realized that writing comedy was a good hand, -..? Comedy and philosophy both ways to look for the good in life. I feel as attracted to comedy for TV when I felt attracted. to philosophy and Buddhism it increases my spectrum, not only mentally but also emotionally. ”

“I found it difficult at first to understand, that this question of my emotional self. Until I understood that you do not have to be ashamed of your emotions, emotions help you to be a man. That was a valuable insight. For me, writing comedy as a connector between the heart and the mind, which are related as a plug with a socket. Kaboom. and so it is in all four characters of The Big Bang Theory something of myself. ”

More longer stories and backgrounds Nuwe ahead
By: NU.nl/Anne Youth
Read more about:
Nuwe ahead



Philosophy as a Necessary Life Skill: Open-Minded Versus Closed-Minded

Regarding belief, I think there are two strategies we can pursue: being open-minded and being close-minded. Sometimes people get moralistic about this, but there is no need to be. Being close-minded is a a strategy that has a lot of advantages. Being close-minded means you are unwilling to subject some of your beliefs to revision. Revising beliefs takes energy and it can provoke anxiety. Also if you are open-minded it can make you less reliable — you could have made a promise to another person or to other members of a community based on certain beliefs, and if you are open-minded you are more likely to break your promise.

The chief drawback of being close-minded is that it doesn’t make it possible for you to adjust your beliefs to changing circumstances. Your set of beliefs worked for you or for your ancestors, but the world changes, and we gain new information. If you are unwilling to revise your beliefs you can get stuck in a sub-optimal pattern of coping with the world, which may ultimately prove fatal, or otherwise drastically impoverish your life and its possibilities.

But being open-minded has its drawbacks. The chief one is that if your mind is open, and you have an internet connection, other people and entities with try to blast garbage into it. This may be well-meaning garbage, or it may be actively evil, in the sense that it has no concern for your own flourishing but is just intended to advance the interests of someone else –a cult, an advertiser, or a political system.

I think philosophy is a life-skill for being open-minded while maintaining one’s balance. It you compare a person to a cell, philosophy is like the selectively permeable membrane. If you compare a person to a body, philosophy is something like the immune system.

Of course we don’t have to make a sweeping decision to be open-minded or close-minded. We can be open-minded in certain contexts and close-minded in others, and we can have some members of our society specialize in being open-minded and others specialize in being close-minded, taking advantage of the natural distribution of temperaments between those who are open to new stimuli and those who are adverse to new stimuli. But if we are going to do that we will at least have to be open-minded on the question of whether to be open-minded or close-minded, and that requires philosophy too.