The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Schopenhauer in Jamul
Tom Smith

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer held that life was nothing but the meaningless chasing after of things, which, if we ever do attain, we just get bored with anyway.  This certainly seems to be the case in my neighborhood, where people appear to chase after things constantly, usually on dirt bikes.  A dirt bike, for those of you not familiar with the term, is a particularly noisy kind of motorcycle used to kill desert flora.  You chase and chase with a dirt bike, but why and where is not so clear.  Perhaps it is happiness they seek.  If so, they do not seem to find it, because they keep coming back.  One suspects they have not discovered that what tranquility there is to be found in life comes from aesthetic experience, not racing around on small but loud motorcycles.  Or perhaps this is just a small example of what Schopenhauer means when he avers that life is just suffering.  I am not sure that I agree.  I do think, however, that listening to kids and young adults on motorcycles is suffering. 

There was a much louder sound today as well, which was the noise of my neighbor who has recently purchased a helicopter.  He parks it next to his driveway, where he has built a little grass helicopter pad.  I do not think he actually takes off and lands from there, which is to say I hope he does not.  Mostly, I have decided to assume he does not, because I just can't believe in addition to the motorcycles, we now have helicopters as well.  I think the helicopter was just paying a little visit to its house; I don't think it takes off and lands there.  For $350K you too can buy a helicopter, take it up into the air, and from up there you will be able to see your house.  But after a while, that will get boring, just like anything else would.  This is just the little chip of the Will that is the universe, which finds itself as you, discovering that it can't have Its way after all.  It happens.  In fact, according to Arthur, it is all that happens.  You would be better off, being so unfortunate as to have been born, sticking to aesthetic experience, which is defined as experience which does not bother your neighbors, who are just sitting harmlessly in their houses, trying to read a book.

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Tom Smith

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Great Post! I will quote it on my weblog.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | May 29, 2006 11:00:38 AM

Re: Helicopter Noise

Some years ago I was on a river raft trip in Alaska that ended up in a village about 25 miles from the nearest coast. The trip leaders were to spend a week camping in the village before leading a second trip. Shortly before the rest of us left, a very large two-rotor helicopter flew in, hovered next to the campsite, and lowered a packet of building materials for a new school. The helicopter was unloading an offshore barge and, what with time-is-money and midnight sun, was going to do the trip every half-hour, twenty-four hours a day, for a week.

Posted by: martin | May 31, 2006 2:15:08 PM