Friday, 28 May 2010

The Underground Challenge: Part 7 VIDEO

I uploaded a video to my YouTube account as I had up until now failed to inform them of our mission. Please help me spread the word!

Join the group here

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

On Death, Descartes and Exam Times

My Modern exam is on Friday so I have been sat here attempting revision.

I took this picture before my Religion exam the other day. Sat getting those last-minute moments of greatness when I figured if I didn't know it by now, a last stab wasn't going to change anything. Luckily, it was Religion and I love the subject so it all went pretty well I guess. The best so far. 
I've gone for colour co-ordinating stuff this year, in the hopes of my brain being able to store things better. I think it's working. 

In yesterdays Phenomenology exam I was writing about Heidegger and Being-towards-death which hit a nerve a bit. On the way home my bus stopped for an unusual length of time at a bus stop with one of those 'don't let your friendship die on the road' posters, which made me think about Carrie and Chelsea (the friends hit by a car on Jan 1st) and remind me how much I hate the world sometimes. It's unfair and cruel and I have no idea how people are meant to deal with it. Heidegger said something along the lines of death being the one thing we're always moving towards but can never understand. It's the only thing we cannot understand through somebody else's experience; someone else dying doesn't help me understand what death is. It's this abstract idea that we're constantly surrounded by but will never get our heads around. 

Theists posit ideas of an Afterlife. I imagine theories on what happens next were created to make the whole process seem less scary. It means the end doesn't have to be an end. It means when you lose someone they don't have to be gone. It offers peace of mind to some degree. 

Let's take the resurrection approach to an Afterlife: On the last day we are all brought back. Our bodies are resurrected and continue in an afterlife with a god or something. For materialists all we are, are our bodies. There is no soul. So for a resurrection to be possible our bodies would have to remain in tact. Van Wagenen said only those whose bodies were not destroyed would make it; this implies our ancestors wont. Humans decompose, everything does; that's how it works. Chances are on this version, we wont make it either... 

Then he offered some crazy theory of God in his omnipotence storing the dead bodies in a magical freezer until it was time but replacing the bodies with look a likes so nobody got suspicious. Obviously for a materialist the Afterlife, though not impossible, seems unlikely. 

Then there is more of a common idea on the matter that we all have souls and when we die these immaterial entities rise up from our bodies and head to paradise. This makes an Afterlife more plausible; if you believe in the soul.

I remember when I believed in all this. I remember thinking that maybe Heaven was different for everyone and that it didn't matter what you believed, 'cause it would be moulded around that. Different religions weren't in conflict and everyone would get a happy ending. Looking back I can't help but think I was a little naive. 

But then people die. And people start talking about them watching over you and waiting for you and being happy and all this stuff that I can't relate to. I hold my tongue out of respect, because why the fuck should I try to take the little bit of comfort they get from such ideas because I'm sceptical. I don't think we could possibly know anything about any sort of supernatural or any immaterial existence or being based on our material, natural existences. 

Maybe there is something, but theists all fall in their theories in my opinion. Mostly because they think they have the answer before they begin. The answer is always God. They then commence to prove why they are right. They're not looking for what the answer could be because if it's anything other than what they want it to be they don't want to know. 

I'm agnostic about it all. 

There are so many different theories and gods and rules that all came about to suit the time they are found in. Religion offers people what they need. Take the ancient religions for example, they offered answers that science hadn't found yet. They were replaced by an all powerful being, because it sounded scarier and followers of the old religions converted just incase this new angry, jealous god took vengeance on them for believing in the lesser gods. 

None of this matters right now though, 'cause I'm looking at Descartes. He feigned scepticism to break down everything we know just so he could build it all back up again and prove that there must be a god. The God. But it's like he gave up. In fact, it's like he never even tried. All he wanted was to show there had to be God and there had to be a physical world, so when he got to the part about explaining how we know anything he rested it all on the fact that God wouldn't lie to us. 

But I realise, instead of getting angry at him I should just make notes and move onto Spinoza and Hume, 'cause regardless of any of this, I have an exam on Friday. I have three exams left before I finish. I have been working towards this for such a long time that I shouldn't just give up in the last leg. The world around me is a reminder than none of this matters much in the grand scheme of things, but it used to matter so much. £20K in debt or however much it is, shouldn't be in vein. I guess. And I'd be so disappointed in myself if I didn't do what I should be capable of doing. So I'm going to push for the last couple of weeks until it's over and I have to start working out what to do next. 

Socrates constantly echoes in my ears reminding me the only thing I know is that I don't know anything.

Oh and to the guys who's blogs I've not checked out in a while, I apologise! I have a lot to catch up on when all this revision and such is over with!

The Underground Challenge: Part 6

We bombarded people with a white board and took a load of pictures for the challenge group and the video we are putting together, so i'm just going to share a few of those with you guys =]

Also, I headed out around London and distributed some of the business cards to friends and strangers in an attempt to spread the word about our challenge! The cards were left all over the place, starting with my train back to London >>
We will be putting all the videos and photos and stuff together this week so to see more either check out the Facebook Group or wait for the video! By we I mostly mean a Mr Gregory Gaige who I have delegated the task to while I study. If you still want to get involved there is still a chance (if you are mega quick) to email a photo or video to this week.

On my way home from taking photos I was stopped by two boys wanting me to take their picture ('cause I had the DSLR around my neck) so I told them the condition was to hold the cards and look up the group on Facebook. When I told them the idea was that they had to talk to strangers they got really excited and pointed out that they were already doing that, when they spoke to me. 

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Underground Challenge: Part 5

We're putting together a video to gain some exposure for The Underground Challenge! 

You should all know all about it by now, but if not be sure to click that link and get involved! 

If you want to get involved in the video send us a clip or a photo of you and/or your mates. We're looking for a variety of things so be creative!!
Need an idea?? How about:

Holding a sign saying something along the lines of 'underground challenge' or 'get involved' or 'smile' or something...

Being creative on some form of public transport.

Out and about on the streets.

Your grandparents.

Your pets. 

Trying to get as many artists/musicians as we can involved too... obviously we'd put your name and myspace or whatever with the video!

The deadline for this is THIS Saturday 15th. I know it's not long, but we wanna make the vid as soon as we can and get it out there! 

When you've put together some gold to share with us and inspire someone, email it over to me at

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

I'm Pretty Lucky

I've noticed a lot of people phase through friends and by the time they're my age would have had 20 different best friends, none of which they really talk to anymore. They call it growing up and I've spent my life being told that friends grow apart and I shouldn't let myself get too attached. That these people don't really care about me and will split if I ever need them so I shouldn't do everything in my power to help them when they're the ones in need.

Being told this all the time has scared the hell out of me, because I have some of the best friends a girl could ever have, most of which have been the same best friends I've had for years. I not only have one amazing best mate, who'd I'd trust with my life, but I have a few. A few amazing people that I get to be myself with and I love more than the world.

When we finished school we all went out to celebrate. At one point in the night Greg said something along the lines of 'this will be the last picture we ever take as a group' lifting his camera into the air. And that was it. I was off. I spent the next hour (or so) crying my eyes out, screaming that we would never see each other again and we'd all lose touch. This was because we were all going away to university (apart from Greg who went straight into the being a grown up thing). Now I was drunk and so were they, so they mostly laughed at me and took pictures and told me not to be silly, 'cause of course we'd keep each other. I was melodramatic enough in my tears to have got one of my friends to start crying with me, but let's face it, Si will cry at anything =p

3 years later and these people are still my best friends and I still love them and talk to them. I don't talk to all of them as much as I'd like, but when we do talk it's like we've never been apart - that's how it should be with friends. We just carry on from where we last left off. But now I am coming to the end of university, as are a couple of the others and I'm faced with the same fears that were instilled in me as an 18 year old finishing school. In this time I have gained an extra best friend, as well as a SuperFriend from uni.

I was told that the friends you make in school disappear but the ones you make at uni last forever. So either I'm really lucky or they all just did it wrong, 'cause I plan to keep the friends I made at school forever. Though I have a pseudo adoption going on with my SuperFriend and her family, so I plan to keep her too as well as the extra best mate I collected along the way who is tattooed onto my arm.

This is a lot of people to have so close. I think most people don't really understand it and that is because they don't have it. I guess it's the same as how people don't understand those in-love when they haven't been in-love. Humans can only ever really know what they've experienced.

To be honest, I don't really like 'people' very often so don't make much effort with the rest of the world, 'cause in general people suck. But it means I'm free to put all my efforts into this lot. And I miss them all so very much (even though I do at least get to see Greg all the time as we live so close this year) and hope that we can have lots of us time when we are all free.

But see, this is that growing up moment for a few more of us now and there are so many things I want to do with myself; with my life. I want to move as I am currently back at my parents and my sister will be moving back in whilst she rents her house out to raise funds, 'cause artists never make a grown up wage but their art is always more important. I want to do internships and volunteer and save the world whilst racking up experience points to apply to this journalism course I've got my eye on. I want to spend time with my beautiful girlfriend who I love and who plays make believe with me, 'cause she's still a kid inside too. She's perfect (though writing that down on such a public forum makes me feel a little silly, if I'm honest). I want to travel and to actually do things, 'cause I've done hardly anything at all.

But how on Earth do I find time to do all these things and keep my friends who will all also be off doing the grown up thing? I am terrified of ever losing them, because they mean the world to me and I'm often nostalgic for the days we've spent together. These people are my rock(s) and without them I couldn't survive.

So here I am; sat attempting to study for Friday's exam but all I can think about is how much I miss them. I have been in hiding from the world for a really long time only letting a few people in and the best ones all being their own amount of busy, but we're coming up to summer and I would really like, before we all fuck off and do our own things to have some best times. Because I am one of the luckiest peoples in the world to have them.

This is my family.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

To Live By A Theme

Sat waiting for Nightmare on Elm Street to begin in the cinema last night (I may give you a review of it later if you're lucky), I was telling my friend about my trip to the Disney Store the other day, where I came across some amazing trainers. They went up to size 3-4 and were only £10 so I figured seeing as I am a size 4 and they were so damn cool I would have to get myself a pair. I do love being small and fitting into children's shoes

This was when she told me this theory of hers she'd been thinking about. She told me that live my life by a theme and I'm like the only person she knows who does. I thought about this a little then asked her what she meant. Theme of My Life: MAGIC. 

Haha what an amazing thing for someone to say. Obviously an amazing theme to live by too... I don't think I've ever really thought about it before and if asked I imagine my answer would have been 'childhood' or something but 'magic' is so very much cooler.

So let's recap.
I have faeries tattooed down my back. I now have them all the way down, but I didn't have a decent picture of all of them, so this old one with just the first faerie will have to do.
This is in the theme of magic I guess =]
Plus the two tattoos I've already shared with you of SuperMe and of the DrinkMe Bottle, which should both count as part of this magical theme.

Then there is my poetry, a lot of which falls under the magical banner along with my stage name SuperPennie.

So instead of me going through all the magical aspects of my themed life, which I imagine would be somewhat tiresome, I am going to ask you all to contribute your own themed lives.
Do you have a theme to which you live by? What is it? How so?

Friday, 7 May 2010

British Politics

It's all a bit of a mess really, isn't it? Democracy isn't something we quite have our heads around and organisation is something we fail at. Following rules isn't something we're very good at either and those with power tend to make it all up as they go along. To anyone who doesn't know, yesterday was the day Britain attempted to vote for a government. Some people were sent the wrong polling cards. Some were sent away and told to come back later. Students in some places were put into a slow line whilst everyone else was fast tracked. Some places ran out of voting slips. I'm sure there were other signs of us crumbling to this failed attempt at change, but I can't remember and I'm in a rush so not going to look them up.

This is just a short post to voice my disappointment I guess.

I was thinking about all the tactical voting that goes on and how a lot of the time people vote for someone they doesn't want just so someone they want less don't win. People see voting for smaller parties as wasted votes. And some people don't even bother getting up to vote at all. This is all very disappointing. I think the polls leading up to the election are a bad idea. They give people an idea of how to go about voting tactically because they can see what things look like. Perhaps if these didn't exist, tactical voting would lessen and more people would vote for who they really want to see running things. Maybe the smaller parties would have a chance instead of it always being between the reds and the blues.

So now we're looking at a hung parliament and everyone is throwing in their two cents about what it all means. I don't know nearly enough about anything to really talk politics at you, so I'm not going to. Just sharing an observation that was grating at me a bit.

We have 5 years to discover what all this really means. Hopefully next time round we are all at least given the chance to actually vote.
You can see the full results here.

I hear the Torys and Lib Dems are going to maybe join forces to govern. Who knows, maybe this will actually work...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Names, Reference and God

After getting up to vote this morning (I could discuss the UK elections but my brain isn't currently up to such a task), which I hope any Brits reading this would have done too, I headed to the library for a revision day. I've lost lots of revisions days thanks to one reason or another so am swiftly running out of time before my first exam Monday. But all will be ok... She says, in a non-commital tone...

I had a revision day yesterday with a few philosophers, which left me feeling as though I'm lacking. I adopted a new revision technique (kinda) and a gauge of where I should be and how far I have to go; however nauseating, did give me some direction. So today I rocked up to the library, armed with some felt tips and coloured paper to tackle reference.

What is it about a name that allows us to talk about something? If I'm talking to you about 'Plato' how is it we both know who I'm talking about? 

This was more or less my day (up until 4pm): following an argument through and realising the complexities of language. I now know that just 'cause something means the same thing it can't just be interchangeable.

Pennie Varvarides = SuperPennie
Pennie Varvarides = Pennie Varvarides

Well, we can't just substitute one out for the other or we'd lose meaning. We don't gain anything from the second statement so it has to be something deeper.

I have thought about attempting to go into what I covered today properly, partly as it'll help towards my revision and partly 'cause it's kinda interesting. Only, I doubt that all that many of you want to be reading a philosophy essay (though I know there are in fact a few). So instead, if any philosophers have anything to say about name and reference or about Mill, Russell, Frege or Kripke please, leave a comment.

On taking a break from Logic and Metaphysics (which is Mondays exam) I met with a friend to discuss religion. We got side tracked a lot and I discovered one of our class mates actually found God so to speak, when most of us in studying the subject went the other way. This made me think, maybe there's something I missed. Maybe one day I'll work out what that was...

We tried to work through the design argument and pretty much concluded that theists make up a few dodgy arguments and assume it implies some omniscient being when really all it does is show humans like to make inferences.

Paley uses the example of a watch and the watchmaker to claim that the universe is the same. That because we wouldn't look at the intricate mechanics of a watch and not assume it had a creator so why look at the world and think it sprung up all on it's own. Only mechanics and nature are as different as can be, so why should they fall to the same rules?

Anyway, I just thought I'd share my day and leave you all something to think about. Feel free to share your thoughts on names or God or whatever in the comment section below; I'd love to know what you think.

I'm currently sat outside the library enjoying the cold air and waiting for rush hour to end so I don't need to squish into a metal tube with too many other people. I like my space.

Ooh talking about the underground, I've handed out a few more business cards today and gave my friends some to pass on! The group is growing faster with each day =] Be sure to get involved!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Underground Challenge: Part 4

We've had business cards made up and they arrived this morning. They look pretty lush if I do say so myself.

I'll start passing them out around London today and hopefully get more people involved! The group is slowly growing, which is nice to see but I can't deny I'd prefer if it grew a little faster! 

So if you haven't already hit up the UndergroundChallenge on Facebook and pass it on! You don't need to be in London to play, you can join in wherever you are. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Goodbye Safety Net; Hello World

I have one month left; one. That's a month of exams that I am underprepared for and terrified of sitting. That's one month of living off a student loan and being an unemployed student. That's one month to determine where my world goes next.

Needless to say, I'm somewhat scared about having to take on the role of 'grown up'. Life is just a series of playing different parts; taking on new personas. We're all on some sort of journey in the process and I guess everyone takes their own, but I feel like mine is about finding out who I am and what it means to be. Not what it is to be me, but to be. Period.

Everyone has goals in mind for what they want their lives to be - or what they think it should be. Theres the capitalist ideology of getting a big house, full of nice things and all the bling to let everyone know you made it. But this has most people falling into debt to try to secure. There's the got-to-have-a-family ideology, where people end up settling too soon. There are people trying to find love or God or excitement. Everyone has something they are after. There's a link to most of them though; happiness. 

People think happiness is the goal. They're trying to achieve things they think will make them happy. The only problem is, most of the time as soon as we hit our target we soon discover it wasn't good enough; we need to aim higher. We're a greedy species really. Though maybe that's not completely true. Some people find contentment despite the pressures of their surrounding societies. That's what I'm after; contentment. Fuck knows where you find it though.

So here I stand, approaching the end of university and now I have some decisions to make. I need to work out what is 'best' for me. Which direction it is I 'need' to take. Which goals I need to aim for. But how can I possibly know what it is I need to do to understand life? All I want is some sort of understanding; some wisdom. And I know that as it stands I don't know anything. The more I understand, the more I realise I don't know a thing. This understanding is depressing. But even so, I'd rather know than be blissfully unaware, as I once was. As much as I hate the nausea I still feel as though I'm better for having got this far. 

Part of me wants to just believe something, even if it's the wrong 'something'. It's the part of me that thinks I wont ever really know anything but so long as I believe something, I'll find a contentment in my discovery. Only the rest of me thinks believing the wrong thing is worse than not believing in anything and I should put up with the nausea until it can be properly over come. 

So I'm at a loss. 

But I will read. And explore. And hopefully understand a little more everyday - both about myself but also about everyone else. About being and existence and life and death and maybe on this journey I'll just discover that I've been wasting my time looking for the wrong thing, but at least I'd have been looking. 

I started reading a book today. I was stood at the train station with a half hour wait until my train arrives plus a two and a half hour journey back home so stood in front of the books in Smiths scanning. Out of the corner of my eye was a bright blue one with clouds on it. At this moment I decided that would be the book. Before knowing anything about it - before even reading the title. Maybe that's a stupid way to pick books, but heck it worked out well. 

It's called Hector and the Search For Happiness. It's written like a kids book but it's a grown up theme. It's definitely a PennieBook. It even starts 'Once upon a time...' 
I'm just over half way through by the time I get home and I'm loving it. I'll share whatever I learn with you when I finish it. 

The internet where I am has been rubbish - so by the time I've posted this it's technically tomorrow...