The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “philosophy

In Defense of My Disdain for Itineraries

Posted on January 5, 2014

I don’t know a fraction of what there is to know in the world, and neither do you. An itinerary is like a songbird’s cage, like blinders on a horse but voluntary, because an itinerary is born within the confines of that fraction of a fraction of what we do happen to know. While general intentions are necessary and the research we do before a trip is useful, making an itinerary down to the exact hour is neither. Just like it’s impossible to know what will happen in any future, near or far, it is impossible to police a trip with a piece of paper, no matter how bolded the font. It’s like trying to reign in life with absurd expectations like wanting to…

Flowers from Stone

Posted on September 23, 2013

So I’ve been waddling around Warsaw for the past week. As previously mentioned, I’m here for neither business nor pleasure, for a funeral is neither something to profit from nor derive happiness from. What frightens me about life is not loss or change, it’s how quickly we get over them. Everything is so transient and we are so resilient, it invites the bleak sort of nihilism that is difficult to negotiate once it really takes hold. But in the midst of death and the philosophical inquiries it provokes, we are surrounded by life that is strong and persistent. As a result of my coming to Warsaw, I’ve seen faces that I had previously declared long-gone, dead in their own way, now resurrected. I have…

The Smaller Picture

Posted on April 24, 2013

Let me break it down for you: There was a bird on the glass. It reminded me of an ancient Hungarian fairy tale, “The Glass Man and the Golden Bird,” that describes a king who must travel to the Kingdom of Magic to find The One. Along the way he encounters great foes, like a witch who has turned herself into a monstrous black spider with two swords for two front legs. A little golden bird accompanies him on his journey; it serves as companion and songbird in times of peace and protector during times of trial and despair. Eventually the king finds The One when the golden bird sings a song for a lily, transforming the lily into a beautiful maiden. Sometimes even…

The New Beat

Posted on March 23, 2013

John Clellon Holmes once said, “Everywhere the Beat Generation seems occupied with the feverish production of answers—some of them frightening, some of them foolish—to a single question: how are we to live?” Holmes was a kind of wrangler of his wayward band of brothers – Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Cassady. He collected and compiled all holy data equally induced by drugs and existential despair to document and thus immortalize the claudicant enlightenments of his lost thinkers. And that’s what it was all about; the beatniks occupied themselves solely with the single most relevant question of any person’s life: how are we to live? In this way, we are all beatniks. No one’s experience or story counts for more than any other, just as no one…

The Unbelievable Lightness of Being

Posted on March 6, 2013

The sticky air of a South Asian country during monsoon season is thick like batter. I would sit on the balcony rail outside my room, let my legs dangle in the batter, and feel the sweet breeze of an oncoming storm. Then the roof and wire monkeys would flee, and, on cue, the clouds would roll in assertively, as if with exaggerated self-opinion. In August, the lush and sprawling Kathmandu valley saw rain everyday. Never a light drizzle or a modest shower. No, it was the season of street waterfalls. Violent in looks, soothing in symphonies, I would find a seat on broken steps and look on as the floods boldly evaluated gutter capacity. I’d watch smoky brown street rivers rush hurriedly toward me…

Where Did It All Go?

Posted on November 22, 2012

I fly home in exactly one month. I’m not going to say, “it feels like yesterday I was watching central London prep for their Olympics!” I’m not going to say that because it’s cliche and it’s stupid. I also won’t say that because “yesterday” would allow too much time in between. Listen, it’s more like this: I was in London this morning and I walked to Russia, to Petersburg, to arrive promptly at 6 pm. I made it for dinner, but today I only asked for soup because I had fish n’ chips, Dutch cheese, Swedish caviar, an expensive croissant from Copenhagen’s airport, bratwurst in Salzburg, every fucking thing in Budapest, Transylvanian gulash, more Hungarian food, pierogi in Krakow, Chernobyl borsht, more pierogi in…

On Travel, Coming Home, & Moving On

Posted on May 7, 2012

Dear Blake & Misha: We returned from our epic summer journey through Russia, Mongolia, China, and Nepal with a pit-stop in South Korea late last August. I can sincerely say it was one of the more memorable experiences of my life – it was life-changing, it was path-altering, it was a three-month show of everything good that the World has to offer. I was so happy all the time, even when things were going to hell. As long as we were okay, I was happy. That’s all it took. But you and I both know words can’t really describe it, the enormity of it all, and God knows we’ve tried. I know it’s shocking, but the trip came to an end. Since August, we’ve…

On Holi, Constants, and Constant Musings

Posted on April 15, 2012

Objectivity is indicative of a decent war photographer, not necessarily of a decent person. But how to ignore the human instinct to act, to get involved when terror greets you from all directions? To properly document combat, you must maintain the position of a fly on the wall and you must get dirty. During this year’s Holi festivities, I did one of these things well enough to warrant a Pulitzer. I once wrote about my year in 2011. In neat little paragraphs, I talked about what I did each month and what I learned in these thirty-day increments. In April 2011, Holi directly contributed to the musing, “perspective is your shit shield”, a lesson that I now live by.  I once considered getting a…