February 2020: Philosophical Permutations

This month we consider nontraditional philosophy across all media. A departure from the stoic philosophy of centuries-old granite statues, our contributors sculpt new outlooks keen on personal experience and (self-)critical observations true to the semantic essence of philo (“loving”) + sophia (“knowledge, wisdom”).

Philosophy is a struggle against the bewitchment (Verhexung) of our understanding by the resources of our language.

– Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Norman J. Olson examines his intuitive art philosphy of being a professional hobbyist. He ruminates on his existence as an “old school” artist seeking meaning in the contemporary milieu, and the embrace of his work by the literary set. MA Papić prophesizes the postfuturistic state/fate of our living planet – referencing the limitations of free thought as well as our history of global hysteria and multiethnic anxiety.

Ivan Arguelles’ latest poetry collection HOIL: An Unfinished Elegy, reviewed by Christopher Bernard, highlights the paradox of our existence. No matter how high our creative aspirations soar, we still, like the poet’s son who passed away recently from encephalitis, have to live within bodies vulnerable to illness, injury and age. Doug Hawley elucidates a deistic look at the universe through a humorous interview with God, who set nature in motion and then, bemused, watched it unfold.

Chimezie Ihekuna espouses his philosophy of sexual chastity in pursuit of “Mr/s. Right” across dimensions, whether it be professionally or personally. J.J. Campbell continues his explorations into domestic angst. Physical and emotional pain powers his poetic suite in an intimate manner devoid of companionship. Poet R.M. Englehardt explores physical death in his poetic suite. The darkness of music and his Southern Goth aesthetic emanates through words filled with bitterness, rage and personal nostalgia.

…and philosophy is nothing else, if one will translate the word into our idiom, than “the love of wisdom.”

– Cicero, De Officiis

Poet Susie Gharib takes us on a contemplative retreat thru her celestial monastery alongst a water sphinx and cerebral historian. Daniel DeCulla bemoans the vagaries of an unsuccessful fishing trip and the unpredictability of the natural world. Joan Beebe illustrates the simplistic beauty of nature with succinct descriptions of flower, bird, star, sky, sun, and soul. Conversely, poet Jake Cosmos Aller provides a retrospective account of complex, global affairs and personal transformation, which all fuse together in a fateful dream.

Visual artist B.T. Lowry postulates a “polyculture of complementary knowledges” to ensure human sustainability and honor inspired by “badland landscapes with knobbly stone hoodoos and deep ravines.” Neila Mezynski offers a poetic catharsis in the spur of the moment akin to the transience of Mark Young‘s graphic photography. Their creative nontraditionalism is further echoed by the surrealistic poetry of Husain Abdulhay and John Dorroh.

Philosophy is the question: from which side shall we look at life, God, the idea or other phenomena.

– Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto 1918

Author Cliff Garstang provides culinary and commuter backdrops for his short story and novel excerpts exploring familia and human dynamics. D.S. Maolalai’s poetry celebrates the beauty of moments of ordinary life with regular people: drinks with friends, the moment just before a couple gets engaged, father’s perfect turkey soup. Even an ordinary moment can be quite lovely with time and care.

Book columnist Elizabeth Hughes introduces us to the work of Glenn Peterson as he chronicles his Mother’s journey from Nazi-occupied Denmark during WWII to the safer shores of North America. Meanwhile, Jeff Rasley takes us through the streets of Kathmandu wherein the ramblings of his emerging culture shock quake beneath the lives of regular people. Mahbub also finds inspiration through travel, visiting gardens, temples and elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and wishing for the same peace and posterity as the resting cats he sees.

Essayist Abigail George evokes literary modernist Franz Kafka in her autobiographical tale of monstrosity, abuse, pain, love, and healing. Similarly, the poetic determinism of Mickey Corrigan evokes Rimbaudian symbolism, as he captures our participation in the cycles of nature.

“…philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables.”

Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Film critic Jaylan Salah illustrates the appeal of the movie adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s romantic comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic to Egyptian young adults as more Western consumer products became available due to economic globalization. Yet, economic reversals in the country rendered the seeming prosperity and the culture that grew up around it a mirage, tempered by reality in the same way as the book character’s credit-card financed lifestyle.

Actor Federico Wardal describes a performance where he intentionally blurred the distinction between illusion and reality to delight the audience. San Francisco poet Joan Gelfand likens the local tech scene to a bovine pasture – is the Silicon Valley tech dream really all its cracked up to be? Or is it merely an insomnia-induced illusion as described by poet Henry Bladon?

“…begin the long, slow process of reintegrating the Eastern philosophical tradition with the Western one…by restoring the application of theory to practice as a central measure of philosophical worth…”

Adrian Piper, Yoga vs. Philosophy?

Finally, and poignantly, returning poet Joan Beebe contributes a wistful piece where she remembers the simpler and happier days of her past.