Saturday, August 15, 2015

Introduction and About this Blog

          I originally got the idea for a blog back in 2011, but my first attempt at this project wasn't a very good one. At the time, I just started as a graduate student at San Diego State, so a large portion of my schedule was consumed by lectures, seminars, and readings, not to mention the fact that some old friends from San Francisco had wandered down to Southern California, so what little time remained in my schedule was quickly occupied. And as I posted the first few entries of that blog, I quickly learned the hard way that I set up the blog with too large a scope in mind, and that, despite having many things to talk about, none of it was very structured at all. My first few entries seemed more like spontaneous rants than they did well thought out arguments or academic pieces, such that it became clear to me that I needed to add at least some degree of organization. Given my time constraints, it didn't take long for my initial interest in the project to drop off, and the website just kind of sat there untouched for some time.
      Now, however, almost four years have passed. I have since finished the master's program at SDSU and have relocated from San Diego to Seattle. I have seen and done much and been through a lot even in just four years. I have endured deaths in the family, been humbled by my time working as a barista at a coffee shop, slowly developed a background in computers (more or less by accident), studied Japanese, and have taken up freelance journalism, among other things. At the end of all of this, I feel that both my writing and my understanding of the world has matured enough such that I can more confidently and coherently write the pieces I've been wanting to write. And given the fact that I am no longer tied down by the master's program at SDSU, I think this is a good opportunity for me to revisit this blog and try my hand at it again.
         The postings in this blog will be divided into three categories (or labels, as Blogger likes to call them): a category that I will call "Philosophy/Journalism", a category called "Reviews", and a category called "Photography/Activism". I think these three categories reflect not just my personal interests, but are the areas that I am the most skilled in and qualified to say the things I do. "Philosophy/Journalism" is a category where I will post arguments and opinion pieces on more fundamental aspects of culture and society, or other topics that may be considered to "belong" to the discipline of Philosophy. These topic may include things such as whether or not free will really exists, why socialism may or may not be preferable to capitalism or anarchism, or whether or not beauty really is "in the eye of the beholder". It is more or less my attempt at staying active in the field of Philosophy after having finished my academic career in the discipline. "Reviews" is a much more straightforward category. In "Reviews", I will write review and opinion pieces of certain art and media, usually movies or books. The interesting thing about this category is that I usually like to evaluate shows or movies or books on their philosophical or cultural relevance. To this extent, don't be surprised if I reference something that I may have said in a piece in the "Philosophy/Journalism" category, or provide a fundamental assumption I have about the world that underlies my evaluation of a piece of art or literature. Again, this is reflective of an important approach I take to art and fiction. First and foremost, a piece of art or fiction should be evaluated on two things: its artistic quality (i.e. the technical things like color, lighting, pacing, etc.) and its cultural relevance (i.e. does it genuinely ask us to reflect on the larger society?). If a piece of art or fiction is lacking in either of these two categories, I almost certainly will not evaluate it as high as one that excels in both categories. Lastly, "Photography/Activism" is also a pretty straightforward category. Throughout my explorations in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest, California, or the rest of world, I may find intriguing things that are worth taking a picture of. Whenever I find such a picture, I will post it here. I do not intend for this category to be a kind of "small Instagram". I will not post a picture of something like a cool flower I saw on the side of the road. Rather, a picture of something like the May Day Protests in Seattle may make it into this category. As far as frequency goes, I expect the "Reviews" category to see the most input. Insofar as there is always a new movie or book or game coming out, there will always be something to experience and write about. Accordingly, I imagine that I will be adding a new entry to this category every week or two. "Philosophy/Journalism" will probably see the most input after that, perhaps once a month. Lastly, the input in "Photography/Activism" will be sporadic. Sometimes there may be a few months in between entries in this category. Sometimes I may enter several things in one month. It all depends on what is happening around me. However, I am building this blog around the "Philosophy/Journalism" and "Reviews" categories, so I'm not particularly bothered by this.
Ultimately, my goal with this project is to bridge what I think to be a gap between Philosophy, Journalism, and society. Society can be improved by good journalism, which I think is mostly lacking today (with a handful of exceptions). Likewise, both society and Journalism can be improved by Philosophy, by stopping and reflecting on things around us, and questioning whether or not there is a good reason for the status quo to actually be the status quo. This contemplation of things is virtually non-existent in society today (which may perhaps explain the dysfunctional nature of many things). Call it a vain hope, but my goal with this project is to try and fix that.

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