The Cafe Philos Poetry Prompt

The Café Philos Poetry Prompt For Them That Be Wild Things (March 16, 2019)

Every heart
Every heart to love will come
But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

— Leonard Cohen,  Anthem

Surely, had William Shakespeare the astonishing good fortune to have himself composed the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s Anthem — in addition to all his other works — the world today would not merely be speaking of him as an “unsurpassed” poet of the English language, but it would be boldly claiming that he was eternally unsurpassable.

Continue reading “The Café Philos Poetry Prompt For Them That Be Wild Things (March 16, 2019)”

Humor, Love, Marissa Callahan

The Red Engine Love Letter

(About a 10 minute read)

FROM: Paul Sunstone
TO: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
SUBJECT: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?


FROM: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?

Woo me!

FROM: Paul Sunstone
TO: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?


FROM: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?

Not whoot me, you ditz! WOO me!

Continue reading “The Red Engine Love Letter”

Language, Culture, Epistemology, Truth, Reason, Belief, Knowledge, Cultural Traits, Cultural Change

Why We Should Make Our Politicians Speak in Hopi to Us

(About a 2 minute read)

English is not the best language in the world for discussing what is truth.

Back in the old days, folks thought of truth as a beautiful woman.  Let’s suppose for a moment they were right.  Let’s suppose truth is a woman.  If truth is a woman, then English is an awkward, clumsy 14 year old boy trying to seduce a sophisticated and confident 36 year old woman.  There are better languages than English for discussing the nature of truth.

The Hopi are a nation of native Americans living in the Southwestern United States.  If I can now recall what I was taught about the Hopi language in my linguistic anthropology course 40 years ago, the language is significantly more sophisticated than English when it comes to dealing with the concept of truth.

In Hopi, you cannot get away with only saying something is true. The language won’t allow it.  Hopi forces you to state how you know something is true.

The Hopi language recognizes three different ways of knowing something is (or probably is) true.  It forces you to pick one of those ways.  There is, for instance, no equivalent of the English statement, “I know you are home tonight”.  But here — expressed in English — are what you could say in Hopi:

I see (or directly experience) you are home tonight.

I hear (or have learned from another person) you are home tonight.

I reason (on the basis of what I have myself seen, or what I have heard from another person, or on the basis of both) that you are home tonight.

Just imagine how much fun we would have if our politicians, pundits, and preachers were forced to speak to us in Hopi!

Here’s the English:  My friends, it is a simple fact that my opponent in this race for the Governorship is a know pedophile!”

Here’s Hopi #1: “My friends, I have personally seen that my opponent is a pedophile!  Oh, wait! It’s not as it sounds!  I really wasn’t there myself.  Not really. “

Here’s Hopi #2:  “My friends, you should be alarmed!  I have it on good second-hand hearsay that my….Oh wait!  It’s more than hearsay..  Well, I mean stronger than hearsay.  That is, it’s admittedly hearsay, but it’s also stronger than hearsay.  Um…”

Here’s Hopi #3:  “My friends, I’ve added it all up to the best of my thinking ability and…Why are you all laughing?  Friends!  Why is everyone laughing at me?”

English, for all it’s many strengths, does not even come close to encouraging the sort of just and fair skepticism that Hopi does.  Rather in comparison, English seems to be a language that encourages people to quickly swallow things as true, rather than to think about how and whether they are true.

Annoying Questions

Paul’s Random, Annoying Question of the Moment

Which is the better teacher?  Love or Loss?

Or perhaps, one might want to think of it as “love or emotional dependency”?

I’m not fond of the notion that love is an actual cause of suffering.  I know there is a sense in which love can “set us up” to suffer — I do recognize that much.  But I do not think of its set ups as truly intrinsic to love’s nature.

Instead, I think we too often confuse love with emotional dependency, calling them the same thing.  We do that so often, it almost seems human nature to confuse the two.  Yet, to my mind, the difference between emotional dependency and love is as sharp as the difference between smoke and fire.

Dependency might be to some extent unavoidable when there’s love for someone. I think there might be some smoke wherever there is some fire.  But smoke and fire are very different things, are they not?

Here’s my take: When we say  “I loved and was hurt because I loved”, we are almost always speaking of emotional dependency, rather than love.  Emotional dependency  is exceedingly generous in the pain and suffering it gives us.  Exceedingly generous.

To me, Loss tends to teach negatives.  “Don’t trust strangers.”  “Guard your heart.”  “Women are bitches.”  “Men are animals.”

Love tends to teach positives.  “Life is worth affirming.”  “Love is just as much or more a way of seeing as it is a way of feeling.”  “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Loss tends to teach us what to avoid.  Love tends to teach us what to embrace.  Both can teach us something useful.

Which is the better teacher?  Love or Loss?

This moment’s question inspired by a poem I found on Poet of  the Light’s blog.

Abuse, Abusive Relationships, Bad Ideas, Baffy, Emotional Abuse, Fairness, From Around the Net, Honesty, Human Nature, Humanism, Liars Lies and Lying, Oppression, Outstanding Bloggers, Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Racism, Relationships, Self Identity, Self Image, Sexual Abuse, Society, Stolen From The Blogosphere, Values, Verbal Abuse, Village Idiots

I Shamelessly Stole From Baffled Mum Today

Baffled Mum’s post today, “Who Will Miss You?” is an outstanding illustration of why I like to steal things.

That’s my polite way of saying the idea for this post is stolen from a post of hers.

[Back story] Baffy — as she kindly allows me to call her — Baffy overheard some jerk rhetorically asking someone, “Who will miss you!”  Being foolishly in possession of a heart just as big as her mind (Which seems at least big enough to embrace most anything she wants it to embrace), Baffy posted a concise, surgically accurate response on her blog. Nailed him, she did!  Didn’t call him out by name, but nailed him right properly and good. [/back story]

Here’s my favorite Baffy quote of them all, “Who are we to judge the worth of people anyway?”

Yay!  You go, Baffy! Stick it to that dragon!  That dragon of unnecessary and unwarranted ranking of ourselves and others.

All I want to know is just which god slammed a ten-foot high judge’s bench under the exalted butts of possibly three-quarters or more of humanity?

Call me crazy if you must, but somehow, I doubt anything divine had a hand in placing those benches under those butts.  Somehow, I smell the profane stench of self-righteous self-appointment.  Just ain’t nothing sacred about them benches at all, so far as I can see.

I agree with everything Baffy said today.  Just I want to add this.  Each and every act of abuse the world sees moment to moment of each minute of the day is to me evidence of our co-equality when it comes to our most fundamental human worth.

Every act of abuse from the father’s too sharp criticism of his child to the dictator’s bloody genocide, is evidence of why we must treat each other as equals in basic human worth.

Abuse — it all adds up to a price, a cost, humanity simply hasn’t got it to pay off.

Bad Ideas, Consumerism, Cultural Traits, Culture, Human Nature, Ideas, Living, Marysa, Memes


(About a 3 minute read)

I suspect I look at consumerism in a rather unusual and somewhat off-angle way.  In other words, I’m most likely standing off to the side of most of us when I look at it, seeing it from an unusual angle.

Kind of reminds me of the “off-angle” view I had in middle school regarding the issue of girlfriends.  Most of the boys preferred their girlfriends to actually be breathing, I myself preferred Playboy center-folds. After all, the center-folds were the more approachable girls, the less daunting ones.

Have you ever bought anything merely or just for the fun of buying?

Myself, I think that’s a fairly universal human pleasure.  I think most of us now and then buy stuff solely — or at least mostly — for the pleasure we get from buying things.

To me, consumerism is the consumption of goods, services, and anything else primarily or solely for the pleasure we humans can take in acquiring things.

In practice, consumerism can be pure — we can buy something only and solely for the fun of acquiring it — but so far as I can see, consumerism is most often merely the main or primary reason we buy something.

If we buy mainly for some other reason than the pleasure of acquisition, it’s not consumerism to me.

So, three possibilities:

A Super-Soaker water gun bought for no other reason at the time of purchase than the fun of buying it consumerism.

A Super-Soaker bought mostly for the fun of buying it is still consumerism.

A Super-Soaker bought mainly for the necessary and just purpose of soaking Marysa Storm from head to foot before she even knows what’s coming is by no means consumerism — it is instead altogether fair and righteous shopping in the eyes of the gods.

I suspect most people think of consumerism as pretty close to, or even the same as, materialism.  “Not so!”, say I.

As I see it, droves of people consume “spiritual” things all the time.  I suppose in truth, they are not technically consuming things like love, friendship, Jesus, or gratuitous anger at the truly evil folks in our world who happen to disagree with their views on politics and the proper methods of wanking.  Yet, I’m pretty sure it’s possible to, say, seek love from other people mainly or even solely for the thrill of discovering someone loves you.

“Oh, look Ma! I just acquired a boyfriend!”  A few months later, if that, and the novelty has won off.  Time to consume another one.

Could it be that seeking “likes” on social media might at times be a form of consumerism, albeit an admittedly harmless one?  According to my def, “yes”.  Shocking, I know!  Please “like” this post if you disagree with me!  Teach me the errors of my way!

An economist sees consumerism in economic terms, a sociologist sees it in sociological terms, an anthropologist sees it in cultural terms, a spiritual person sees it in spiritual terms.  They’re all WRONG!  ALL WRONG! I win! I win!  Here, I believe I am channeling my inner psychologist to see it in psychological terms.  Or perhaps, even in philosophical terms.

About This Blog

A Random Thank You Note to Those Who Suffer the Most

Long time readers of Café Philos will most likely be far from shocked to hear how I come up with ideas to blog about.  Although even they might be surprised to learn how easy it is for me.

I just dig down deep into my soul — way down past even the Balinese donkey porn — until I hit the “The Lake of My Own Ideas”, as I myself call it.  By which I mean, the vast “lake” of all the ideas I have about the world that greatly annoy good, decent folks.

Good, decent folks like Carla, Parikhit, Jane, Isabella, Raili, Sarah, Ivor, and Marysa.  All in all, the precisely 27 good, decent folks who I’m pretty sure read Café Philos all but religiously.

Or, to put that much more honestly, the 27 folks who read Café Philos in quite the same spirit as horrified bystanders might witness a train wreck.

Did I say 27?  I meant 27 1/2.  Mustn’t forget Teresums!

I owe my sometimes prolific posting to digging down to the “The Lake of  My Own Ideas” to draw up a bucket or two of its vast and abundant waters.  And, course, today is no merciful exception.

My annoying idea today is to post a note of thanks to my loyal fascinated readers.  I could list many more people than I have listed, but I didn’t want to give anyone the impression y’all are just a shopping list to me.  But I hope to mention everyone sooner or later in future posts.  And I probably will if Teresums don’t kill me first.

It’s shamelessly true I would most likely post even if no one in the world read what I posted — I maingly write to clarify my thinking about things my ego just loves to hear itself chatter.  But I find that talking to myself is almost as endlessly fascinating as gazing at the beige walls of my cottage.  I much prefer to look through the windows at the colorful world outside.

Thanks everyone — named and unnamed both — for the color you add to my production of train wrecks.