Sunday, April 8, 2007

We're studying relativity in physics (seriously)

So, I've been writing some comics and one of them goes something like this:
Person 1: This soup is too hot.
Person 2: Dude, yesterday you were complaining the soup was too cold.
Person 1: Yeh, I don't really care what temperature my soup is.
Person 2: ...
Person 1: I just like to complain.
This kinda reminds me of something else. I don't remember what the origin of this story is, but it features some stepdaughter type hated by her stepmother or something like that. The daughter faces a dilemma: if she washes her hands too much she is accused of being wasteful, too little and she is accused of being filthy. The mother just likes to complain. She could just as easily praise the daughter for being cleanly in the first case or for being thrifty in the second case.

The first noble truth of Buddhism is dukkha, suffering. All life is suffering. But not really. See, there are three types of dukkha. The first, dukkha-dukkha, is the stuff that actually involves actually suffering and pain, stubbing your toe, losing a parent, etc. The second type, viparinama-dukkha, is basically the suffering of happiness. Every happy moment eventually ends and that end brings sadness. So happiness is just the deferment of suffering and nothing else. Make sense? But the Buddhists are really just taking the evil stepmother's view of the world. They could just as easily make their first noble truth happiness. Then you can split it into happiness-happiness and sadness-happiness, the latter being the result of the end of suffering, like the huge relief you feel when you finish your finals. But I said there were three types of dukkha. What is the third? Well, it's called sankhara-dukkha and is the suffering of conditioned states and the five aggregates. I'm not even going to pretend I know what that means.

But what is to pretend? The word pretentious comes from the word pretend, or at least they have some common ancestor sometime in the not so far past. Someone who is pretentious affects mannerisms that are not his own, so that he appears more sophisticated, more intelligent, more important than he actually is. Pretentious people pretend to be something they are not. But what about someone who is naturally stuck-up? No pretension there. They are only pretentious if they act humble.

It is clear that pretending is more than a child's make-believe. Perhaps as a child, you pretended that you were a king or a queen. But you were not a pretender to a throne. Pretenders to the throne do much more than pretend. Often they will fight and kill to make their claim to the throne. This is a strange name indeed. But even stranger is the name for pretenders to the papacy. What is an antipope? Unlike matter and antimatter, popes and antipopes do not annihilate when then collide. Unlike the antichrist, an antipope does not... well, I don't know, the antichrist isn't a pretender to messiahdom is he? But a strange title still. (I find it appropriate at this point to note that I have always found the term "unbirthday" rather strange as well. It sounds as if one is celebrating the day one was unborn, rather than celebrating any day on which one was not born. I've always thought that "antibirthday" would be more appropriate.) But back to antipopes, is there any analogous use of the prefix anti-? Jefferson Davis was never antipresident of the United States. But I suppose this is not the best example, as the Confederacy claimed to be a separate country from the USA, rather than a government in exile. Better example: if Hu Jianto is the president of China, is Chen Shui-bian the antipresident of China? I think so. At least, this is the situation in the PRC, the UN, the US, and most of the rest of the world. In the ROC and the handful of countries around the world that recognize the Taipei government (you forgot Kiribati!), Hu Jianto is actually the antipresident of China. And in the minds of those who confound the ROC and the other ROC (Taiwan changes its official national motto to "We running this rap shit"), Jay-Z is the president of China the other two are the antipresidents. But whatever. All reference frames are equally valid, right?

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