11 March 2009

One Reality

It was one year ago today that I officially kicked off One Reality, so I thought I would take the opportunity to explain the name.  Whence One Reality?

A long time ago - about twenty years, I think - I heard a song on a college radio station that had a line that stuck with me.  It went, “Reality is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes.”[Note 1.]  This line stood out to me because of how piercingly and profoundly wrong it is.  Of course, to say the least, on college radios stations it is not hard to find views that are implicitly based on incorrect premises, but here in the middle of a song by an anti-intellectual, post-punk, industrial group was an explicit statement of metaphysics saying there is no reality, but only “reality.”  Or: there is not one reality, but a multitude of “realities,” one for each observer.  Considering its presence in a pop (or not-so-pop) song, the statement is an unusually distilled expression of the primacy of consciousness, as against the primacy of existence

When the time came to choose a name for my blog, I recalled this idea.  For the URL of my blog, I had already chosen http://realityandreason.blogspot.com, which captured the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of the ideas I want to defend: reality (i.e. that which exists) and reason (i.e. the means of discovering what exists.)  

But for the actual name of my blog, I did not want to use Reality and Reason.  For one thing, it was a bit daunting.  I was just starting out with my public writing, and it seemed too ambitious to label a blank canvas with a title of such enormous scope.  I wasn’t entirely sure I could live up to its promise.  Every word that I write, which I labor over as it is, would have been that much more measured and second guessed with such a grand title.  Even Brahms shuddered in Beethoven’s shadow.  

Furthermore, my plan was to use my blog to post writings of varied importance... and indeed, this has proven to be the case.  The serious, deeply-considered essays are interspersed with more extemporaneous, personal, or fun posts.  I think it’s important to do these less serious posts to keep things enjoyable for me (and perhaps for my readers), but they would tend to trivialize Reality and Reason if placed under that moniker.

On the other hand, every thing I write (and for that matter, everything I do) is informed by my fundamental philosophy, so I wanted the title of my blog to reflect that somehow.  So, I chose One Reality as an explicit rejection of the idea from that song that I had heard so long ago.  Or to put the point positively, I chose One Reality as an explicit embrace of the primacy of existence.  The description at the top of my blog elaborates: “There exists but one reality, to be perceived with one’s senses and comprehended via reason.”

Now, it has occurred to me - and for a while, it troubled me - that the title could convey the exact opposite of what I was trying to express.  The “one” in One Reality could be interpreted as, “this is just one ‘reality’ among other possible ‘realities.’”  Obviously, the blog description, not to mention my writing itself, would disabuse anyone of this idea, but still the ambiguity worried me a little bit.  For a while, I even tried to italicize the “One” in One Reality, but that caused some viewing problems in applications that didn’t handle the HTML code gracefully.  Furthermore, it didn’t really resolve the issue. 

In the end, I’ve come to embrace the ambiguity.  Insofar as the name could be temporarily misleading it provides a little bit of irony, and I am confident that for any visitors that happen upon One Reality and actually read my writing, I could not possibly be taken for a primacy-of-consciousness advocate!  


1.  The song was by MLWTTKK, an acronym that is short for the revoltingly nihilistic My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.  There are videos from this group available on YouTube if you are curious, but I do not wish to promote them by including links.


C. August said...

Happy blogiversary! It's been quite a year, and I've gotten much value out of reading your commentaries on all that has happened.

Also, seeing your post reminded me that I missed my blogiversary last week! I didn't realize we started our blogs within less than a week of each other.

Stephen Bourque said...

Hey, happy blogiversary to you, too! And the same goes for me: I have very much enjoyed keeping up with Titanic Deck Chairs.

Rational Jenn said...

Happy Blogiversary! I'm looking forward to reading many more years' worth of thought-provoking posts!

LB said...

Yeah. "Kicked-off" is appropriate as that is the day I believe you kicked me off Reality and Reason. Actually, I took myself off because it was clear we had some different ideas of how to approach this crazy medium - good call, too.

Congratulations on staying true to your vision, for increasing your output without decreasing your standards, for always being precise, and for letting your hair down (such as it is) every once in a while.

You know...you're my favorite blogger (at least I think that's what the kids are calling it these days).