Posts Tagged ‘quotes’

Exploring the Hijab as a Limit

September 7, 2011

I’m very interested in the concept of limits, and the idea of leaning into them rather than working against them.

Most of us don’t realize how much we’re the products of our limits. For example: eating only what’s in your pantry (and cooking only from your personal repertoire of recipes), paying visits only where you’re invited, consuming only media that’s readily available to you, becoming friends with and marrying only people you physically encounter. We resign a lot of ourselves to fate and coincidence.

I can’t decide, however, whether that’s a bad thing. For sure, sticking only to what you know is bad—exploring possibilities into the tenth dimension is crucial! At the same time, merely knowing about the existence of those possibilities can be insidious, because it always leaves you wondering.

Anyway, right now I’m more interested in the potential of embracing limits than expanding them. I tried to explain this to a friend while shopping over the weekend: sure, it’s a little harder to buy clothes while working with the constraints of hijab, but sometimes the limits feel liberating.

“Artists don’t think outside the box, because outside the box there’s a vacuum. Outside of the box there are no rules, there is no reality. You have nothing to interact with, nothing to work against. If you set out to do something way outside the box (designing a time machine, or using liquid nitrogen to freeze Niagara Falls), then you’ll never be able to do the real work of art. […] Artists think along the edges of the box, because that’s where things get done.”     Seth Godin

Liberal Arts and the Culture of Self-Examination

August 17, 2011

Last week I had the pleasure of a visit from one of my dearest friends from college (to whom I’ll refer as A.). Together we engaged in one of our favorite pastimes in all the world: trying to make sense of our experience at a small northeastern liberal arts college (via much conjecture and conversation).

For four years, our school truly made up our world—”bubble” culture at its most bourgeois-bohemian. But the truth is that our experience as liberal arts students, compared to those of the rest of the world, was unfathomably specific—and learning to reconcile that now (1.25 years out of college) seems to me so daunting a task that it’ll take up the remainder of our lives.

For us, the link between the liberal arts tradition and the pursuit of some greater consciousness of the self (à la Western Enlightenment—thanks A.) appeared to be rock-solid and pretty obvious (though, writing this now, I guess that doesn’t need to be the case).

Under that premise and with my undergraduate experience, endeavoring to write this blog is the most natural thing in the world. I’ve always a) prized the “Know thyself” mentality as valuable in almost every respect; b) shaken off any claims of corrupt narcissism with the self-reflection framework’s implied virtues; and c) lamented other people’s shortcomings when it’s clear that on this point we don’t agree.

How this exposes my own nearsightedness is perfectly ironic. We—A. and I, at the very least—assume that this sustained, unrelieved reflexivity is the highest, most evolved form of existence (placing value like it’s our job, almost as if we have something to compensate for). But is it really the road to happiness? Does less self-reflection really lead to a lower quality of life?

I haven’t changed my mind about it, but A. and I both decided it’s best to try as hard as possible to acknowledge a lifestyle of constant and critical self-examination as just that: a lifestyle, among many others, and not necessarily the best one.

A sketch that developed out of a nerdy mood a few weeks ago.

To follow up:

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

cf. “The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the life too closely examined may not be lived at all.” Mark Twain

P.S.: I’m still stumbling around with the vocabulary of this topic, and am 100% sure that there’s many a scintillating essay about it out there. If you have any interesting reading on the aforementioned culture or the liberal arts tradition, I’d love it if you sent it my way! It doesn’t bear repeating that I navel-gaze like it’s the degree on my diploma.

Wisdom from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

August 7, 2011

An excerpt from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (my emphases added in red). I’m only 65 pages into it, but OH MY ALLAH IS IT FREAKING AWESOME. My new favorite book. Please go buy it now, and read it right away.

Quote: as excerpted from “Self-Reliance”

August 6, 2011

“My life is not an apology, but a life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson