MLMM Tale Weaver — Welcome to Durfur

img_1350Carl was sitting on a folding chair in a large room with many identical folding chairs, nearly every one taken. In his hand was a spiral bound booklet entitled, The Book of Durfur — A Beginners Guide. Oddly, the first thought that came to Carl’s mind was, “Shouldn’t it be Beginner’s Guide?” He vowed to point out the grammatical error to whoever produced the booklet.

Looking around, Carl saw a diverse group of people seated in the chairs. All ages, all races, both genders, and, based upon how people were dressed, many nationalities. All of them, like Carl, were holding the same booklet.

Carl tried to remember how he had gotten here, much less why he was here. But he couldn’t. His last memory was that he was lying in bed reading a book. Was he asleep and was this a dream?

He turned to the guy sitting on his left, a large black man dressed in some sort of ceremonial garb. “Excuse me,” Carl said. “Do you know where we are and why we’re here?”

“You tell me,” the guy said without making eye contact.

Sitting on Carl’s right was a teenage girl wearing what looked like a prom dress. But before Carl could say anything, she blurted out, “No, I don’t.”

Carl looked once again at the booklet in his hand. He flipped it open to the first page, but it was blank, as were all the pages following. He tried to stand up but was unable to leave his seat. “What the fuck?” he said aloud.

Suddenly the lights dimmed in the room, a screen slowly dropped down from the ceiling, and a video started playing. “Welcome to Durfur,” the man in the video said. “I know you have a lot of questions and they will all be answered shortly.”

The man in the screen smiled and continued. “Durfur is like a way station. It is situated halfway between what was and what will be, between where you’ve been and where you’re going. Each of you has been provided with a booklet that has been custom tailored for your journey. ”

The man in the screen seemed to look directly at Carl and said, “And, yes, Carl, we’ve corrected the punctuation.” Carl looked down and the booklet in his hand, which now read “A Beginner’s Guide.”

The man continued. “Some of you will be here in Durfur for just a brief time. Others may be staying with us for a while. It’s all documented in your guide booklet. Now if you’ll please open up to page one, everything will become clear to you.”

Carl opened up his booklet and began reading.

Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt.

MLMM Sunday Writing Prompt — Not the “-gasm” You Expected


For this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt, we are supposed to write about something that often eludes description: pleasure. And the not-so-subtle “hint” in the prompt’s title is “-gasm.”

I decided to veer from the obvious “pleasure-gasm” to go with something almost as pleasurable. Hell, who am I kidding? At my age, even more pleasuresble. I’m going with something called “bedgasm.”

According to the Urban Dictionary, a bedgasm is “a feeling of complete and utter euphoria which peaks when climbing into bed at the end of an 18-hour workday, a long road trip, or hours of extremely strenuous physical activity. Under perfect conditions, the physical release has been likened to that of an intense sexual experience.”

Who among us hasn’t, at some point in our lives, crawled into our nice, cozy, comfy bed at the end of the day and felt that sense of utter euphoria?

You pull your comforter over your tired, exhausted frame. You snuggle your head into your goose down pillow. A warmth envelopes your body, your soul. It’s great, isn’t it? It’s a moment of exquisite peace in an otherwise chaotic world.

Yes, I’m at the point in my life where the highlight of my day is when I go to bed at night. Well, that’s not entirely true. The highlight of my day is when I wake up in the morning and realize that I’m still alive. But crawling into bed at night is a close second.

S is for Solipsism

Now I don’t know if this is breaking the rules in this year’s A to Z Challenge, but I’m going to do it nonetheless. Back in September I wrote a post titled “When I Die, You Will Cease to Exist.” The post was all about Solipsism, which is a philosophy that espouses the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.

But rather than go through that whole discussion again, here is what I had to say back then about today’s S-word.

“Beyond Solipsism” ©2010 Casey Kotas “Beyond Solipsism”

I am not a solipsist.

I am not a what? What the hell is a solipsist?

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, solipsism is a doctrine that says, in principle, my existence is only that which I experience — physical objects, other people, events, and processes — anything that would commonly be regarded as a constituent of the space and time in which I coexist with others and is necessarily construed by me as part of the content of my consciousness.

For the solipsist, it is not merely the case that he believes that his or her thoughts, experiences, and emotions are the only thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Rather, the solipsist can attach no meaning to the supposition that there could be thoughts, experiences, and emotions other than his or her own.

Another interesting way of looking at solipsism is the way the Urban Dictionary, of all places, defines it:

Solipsism is the belief that the person holding the belief is the only real thing in the universe. All other persons and things are merely ornaments or impediments to his or her happiness.

Solipsism versus Nihilism

Just to be clear, solipsism is not the same as nihilism. The solipsist believes that his or her own life has meaning and value, whereas the nihilist believes that life itself, including his or her own, has no intrinsic meaning or value. It’s the belief that a single human, or even the entire human species, is insignificant, without purpose, and unlikely to change in the totality of existence.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to solipsism.

René Descartes proved his existence by saying “cogito, ergo, sum,” or “I think, therefore I am.” The solipsist prefers “cogito, ergo, omnia sum,” or “I think, therefore, I am everything!”

Based upon these definitions and descriptions of solipsism, I again say that I am not a solipsist. But I may be close.

I don’t deny the existence of anything else in the universe outside of myself, or claim it to be non-existent or not real except in my own mind. I know that each and every one of you who may be reading this post exists. You are real. You have your own minds, your own lives, and your own very real experiences.

I know that the couch that I’m sitting on, the iPhone that I’m typing on, the screen I’m looking at, and the WordPress app on which this post is being published all exist. You and these items are not just figments of my imagination, not mere ornaments or impediments, not constructs of my mind.

That said, if I don’t exist, neither do you. If I don’t exist, nothing exists.

Wait. What?

Okay, let me put it another way. If I didn’t exist, nothing would exist — for me. So everything that exists for me is dependent upon my existence.

From my perspective, when I die, when I cease to exist, you will all cease to exist. This couch, my iPhone, and WordPress app will no longer exist — for me. My wife, my kids, my pets, my home, my city, my country, this planet will no longer exist — for me — because I will no longer exist.

Yes, you and everything else and everyone else will continue to exist to and for each other. The sun will continue to rise and set every day. The tides will continue to ebb and flow. People will continue to go about their business.

There will continue to be strife and violence across the globe. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and forest fires will not cease. Congress will continue to be totally dysfunctional, Vladimir Putin will continue to be a total douchebag, Trump will continue to be an asshole, and people will continue to argue about whether or not God exists.

But not for me. Because I will not exist. So for me, nothing will exist.

Therefore, everything that exists is dependent upon my existence. For me. From my perspective.

Does that make me a solipsist?

Or just a little narcissistic?

Exploring Original Thought

Original thoughtIt recently occurred to me that I have never had an original thought in my entire life. Neither have you, most likely.

There is an actual theory about this. It’s referred to as the Original Thought Theory. I don’t know who originally thought of the Original Thought Theory, but based upon the theory itself, it wasn’t an original thought.

The Original Thought Theory suggests that anything anyone can ever think of has already been thought of by someone else. Do you believe that?

Even the Bible doesn’t buy the notion of original thought. In Ecclesiastes 1:9, it reads:

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there’s nothing new under the sun.

So what do we mean by “original thought?” First, let’s explore the word “original.” Various online dictionaries define the word as new, fresh, inventive, novel. It’s something created, undertaken, or presented for the first time.

It’s much easier to use the concept of “original” in terms of physical things, especially inventions. The iPhone was the original smartphone (or, arguably, the BlackBerry was). How about the IBM PC? Was that the original, mass-market personal computer? Johannes Gutenberg invented the original mechanical printing press. The Ford Model T was the original mass-produced automobile.

But the concept of “original” when it comes to thought is a different proposition. The word “thought” is defined as “the product of mental activity.” So an original thought is something new, fresh, and inventive that is the product of mental activity.

How can you know if a thought you or someone else had was uniquely new, fresh, or novel, as well as one that was thought for the first time…ever?

Apple on Newtons HeadWas Sir Isaac Newton, who wrote the Law of Universal Gravitation, the first to observe and describe the concept of gravity? Newton may have proved the existence of gravity using mathematics, but did it occur to no other human being before Newton that what goes up must come down? I can’t prove that it did, but I think it’s unlikely that it did not.

Think about the history of humanity on this planet. Think about the billions and billions of thoughts that human beings have had throughout history. What is the likelihood that you or I will actually have a truly original thought, a thought no other human being in the history of recorded time has ever thought?

Thoughts may be unique to a person, but they are formulated by a wealth of other thoughts, data, emotions, and perspectives. If someone presents a different perspective and your response is, “I never thought of it that way,” is your revelation an original thought or just a new take on an existing idea? Is formulating a new opinion about something the same as having an original thought?

Even if I discovered a new and different way of thinking about something, it may be new and different for me, but can I know for sure that no one else has also thought about that same thing the same way I have? Of course I can’t.

So, do I feel bad that I have never had an original thought and never will? No, not at all. I am happy that I possess the wherewithal to think rational thoughts, weigh the evidence, internalize other perspectives, and draw my own conclusions.

And then, in my blog, I post about such conclusions, observations, and perspectives in what I hope is a reasonably original manner. Original to me, anyway.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “explore.”

It’s Just a Theory

E2A4EFA5-C476-41F9-851E-6ED53DD237B7It really chaps my ass when people argue that evolution is “just a theory” in order to attack its credibility.

In everyday vernacular, the term “theory” is often used to describe a guess or a hunch. In science, though, a theory is not a “good guess.” It’s something that has been proven to have considerable merit based upon substantial amounts of evidence. It’s based upon facts and observations, not on beliefs.

Let’s clarify a few terms and how they’re defined from the scientific perspective.

Hypothesis: In science, a hypothesis is an educated guess based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

Fact: In science, a fact is an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and, for all practical purposes, is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow based upon further examination and new discoveries.

Theory: In science, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

So, a scientific theory, such as evolution, is a highly substantiated, well-supported, well-documented explanation for our observations. It ties together all the facts about something, and provides an explanation that fits all the observations. In science, theory is the ultimate goal, the explanation. It’s as close to proven as anything in science can be.

In other words, a hypothesis is educated guess; a fact is a what; a theory is a how and/or a why. A theory in science is an explanation, not just a hunch or a good guess.

What a theory is not is a belief or an opinion unsubstantiated by observable, tested evidence.

So to those of you who claim that evolution is “just a theory,” you’re right, it is a theory. A well founded scientific theory.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “theory.”