Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

Reading is often Actionless

19 July 2014 by Rahil

[todo: add a link to this to the what should be read list. Add a link to lateral thinking post. Also written late night.]

and writing feels actionless
cone of learning
philosophy of action

Or, reading is often passive, merely consumption.

I consider research as action. For example, when one reads a concept of something in Wikipedia.

But I consider reading an entire book a passive experience. What parts of that book were necessary for one’s research? Could it have been skimmed? What is lost in skimming?

I feel in skimming (directed reading, action) one maintains their direction. If I were to write a book on a specific part of psychology, only those things that relate to that specific part are necessary.

One has ignore a great amount of knowledge. This is normal [find vocab].

A digression: Outside of books, the brain does this all of the time to rationalize the world.

But what I’ve come to recently understand, is that, while one does take action efficiently, there is a possibility that, ignoring some knowledge, one actually doesn’t an understanding of it, perhaps losing an opportunity to gain foundational long-term knowledge [link to why read the western philosophy canon] or, misunderstands it, and this leads to anti-intellectualism: action without sufficient knowledge.

As a highly empirical person whose read few books, and plans to write more blogs with large generalizations based on my empirical knowledge, I must understand that these are just generalizations, and the understanding is beyond me, and the amount of time to research and make a good argument is something I will likely value less and prioritize less than some other action.

I shall only write what I, up to current knowledge, understand, and live a normal life, without veering it toward research to write a big book to prove it.

Perhaps this is being lazy, but I value and therefore prioritize other actions more because reading does not satisfy [that feeling].

[missed the whole argument about reading is not social, a way communication, and I find it difficult to inquire. And the argument of reading being at the bottom of the cone of learning]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Essays, Literature, Philosophy, Uncategorized

How and When to Write, and the Impossibility of a Solitary Life

18 July 2014 by Rahil

I’ve recently lived an extremely practical life, so it is rare I take the time to write. Instead I merely jot thoughts in a journal. Like Nietzsche, I need a life of constant action, of which I only care for suffering, to take meaningful action. I only began writing after a very slow and long transition into a depressing slump. Writing without an audience, without purpose feels like dying; It ignores the world. Perhaps before I even begin writing, I need figure out how and when.

Perhaps I need to create a suitable environment for it, and that is I’m afraid, being away from the temptation of civilization, and, perhaps, those great writers who wrote in solitude, did so because they had to. I think it is only necessary for very large works. Small works can be rapidly periodically produced over a short period, similar to how Kerouac wrote On The Road, locking himself in the house, writing on a typewriter with one large continuous sheet of paper, while his wife spoon-fed him.

Still, I find it so wild that the act of writing, an action, requires one to be in solitude, where inaction often rises.

When (and little of What):
Why spend time writing at such an age, without achievement, without a mass amount of knowledge, when one could substitute that time for practical things? I feel Montaigne timed his writing correctly, after his public life, in retirement.

Perhaps only knowledge currently unknown to the world should be written currently; Perhaps it should be talked about with great people, debated, lectured, finally coming to a point where it should be written for others to see.

Perhaps writings based one’s own experience can wait. Yet, the only things I feel should be written are based on my experience.

Perhaps there are things that should be written at a time. Some knowledge and feeling is temporary. Thoughts change. Writing about what knowledge I currently have may be worth writing.

It seems there are two ways and times: while simultaneously taking action (balancing action and inaction) or retirement.

Leave a comment | Categories: Literature

The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal

18 July 2014 by Rahil


I think there’s a huge fallacy with the concept of a home. A place to return to.

Arguments against:
Why spend the time to commute to and from home? It’s rote, routine. One experiences less, and one is more likely turn to media to procrastinate. One will likely perform less action, make less decisions, be less observant, be less creative, more likely to seek the comfort of home, become complacent, and conspicuously consume, more likely through media rather than the real world.

The idea of physically living away from work, and having to commute to it is silly. Companies should consider if employees need to physically be available, or, is a phone call or video chat enough?

The fact that people are kicked out of public parks for sleeping there in Western countries is crazy.

For me personally, home, whether my parent’s house, a shared apartment (especially when my roommates are gone), is and historically has always been the death of action and me.

Arguments for:
Temperature regulation, electricity, privacy, security, cooking appliances, etc. and the convenient, permanent package of it all.

The greatest argument, is, perhaps, relationships, family and friends.

But wouldn’t it be greater to live with family in friends in a more active lifestyle? Perhaps leading to a more communal lifestyle, not based on family.

But what if a country provided everything in the public? Most developed countries do provide everything necessary to live, quite well, in the public. And some do it well.

I think Taiwan is a model for nomadic living. The cheap food prices akin to developing countries, super convenient convenient stores akin to Japan, and politeness of allowing one to be able to sleep anywhere, as long as one doesn’t make a mess.

A Tangent:
Nomadism can be seen living off the excesses of the world. Knowing this, one knows that there’s enough space in the public to comfortably house all of the homeless.

There’s certainly something certainly disturbing with the cost of property, which provokes thoughts of socialism.

Leave a comment | Categories: Essays, Literature

Decision Making in Competitive Video Games

17 July 2014 by Rahil


I feel, that in competitive video games, there is a massive amount of decision-making going at amazing speeds, and somewhere in that time, there are things in psychology, particularly decision-making, where some new knowledge may exist.

What to do:
Detail advanced, real-time decision making through professional-level competitive games. Write how professionals win. Write it empirically, then scientifically.

Why video games over past games?
Chess is turn-based. Sports are real-time, but there’s a strong emphasis on physical. Video games have physical limits too, but it’s less prominent, usually limited to hand-eye coordination.

Is there a reason to examine real-time? What’s the difference between decision making in real-time as opposed to turn-based? Time, duh. More decisions are made during a period of time, and, there’s not enough time to make the rights ones.

Thinking, Fast and Slow?

Leave a comment | Categories: Thoughts

What is worth reading?

16 July 2014 by Rahil

TODO: translate to Chinese

I’ve read less books than most elementary school children in my lifetime. I was never able to extract as much value per time with enjoyment factored in in books compared to other mediums, and empericism. Wikipedia was enough. Much recently, I listened to an audiobook of Great Ideas in Philosophy provided by the Great Courses; That was successful. After that, I figured out I had huge gaps in my knowledge, and proceeded to create a list of things I felt could be worth reading (or listening) to.


- For philosophy
- For the organization of knowledge
- Use audiobooks to consume slowly while simultaneously doing something
- ethics – ethical treatises by Aristotle, various essays by Bertrand Russell
- political science – The Republic, Politics, The Prince (and other works), and something more modern
- philosophy – Philosophical Investigations

Natural Sciences:
- For knowledge of science
- For research
- prefer large historical or trans-discipline pieces that are up to date – Gödel, Escher, Bach, Thinking, Fast and Slow, A Brief[er] History in Time, etc. These books compete with online lectures [link to self-education]

- For art
- Contemporary masterpieces, including comics, especially those of Nobel Prize winners in
Literature. Although, I would likely choose other mediums over this, and empiricism over all all art

- Language books

- Biographies of great people:
– For knowledge
– For fun (possibly my favorite reading material, possibly because it’s most humane; The same reason applies to coming-of-age films)
– Use Wikipedia
– Many of the online lectures cover biographies, to allow more insight on their decisions

- Essays by great essayists, and possibly the small writings of other great writers
– Experience good writing to help develop one’s own writings style
– For knowledge, and fun (same reasons as biographies of great people)

other resources:
100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library
- I thought it seems pretty well rounded for what it is and from what I gathered from heresay of each book

Leave a comment | Categories: Literature

The Purpose of a Blog: A Medium for Essays and Self-Assessments

16 July 2014 by Rahil

TODO: translate to Chinese

In the first post of this blog, I question and answer why having one. I am now further specifying the purpose of this blog.

Everything starts with my thoughts, which are recorded in my journal. My journal is in the form of a text file I’ve kept since 10th grade and the Notes application on my iPhone. I’ve also haphazardly wrote some thoughts on a few notebooks. Although I love writing on physical paper, carrying a bunch of notebooks is undesirable for nomadic travel. Perhaps, I could send them home every so often, but even that would require me to be at home to have access to them. The best way, I’ve found (which I haven’t done yet: I still use Notes) is to use a text editor application that can edit text files on dropbox. If that feels risky, one can always backup the dropbox file themselves every so often.

My journal serves two purposes: history and thoughts.

The blog, I feel, should consist of more organized, readable, thoughts, which I likely wrote during an active time in life, and which perhaps may be transformed into essays. And the history may be examined for self-assessment and inquiry.

The medium did not have to be a blog, but I’ve, over time, come to like WordPress. There is even an application for it on the iPhone which is very good. For me, it must be digital, mostly because I have a nomadic life. I actually thought a Wikipedia would be best. Perhaps it is; I just never felt WordPress was bad enough for me to change.

So, the purpose of this blog is to serve as a medium to write essays and to create a historical self-assessment, both for the sake of philosophical inquiry with myself.

Leave a comment | Categories: Essays, Philosophy

What is worth writing?

07 July 2014 by Rahil

TODO: translate to Chinese

In the information age, what should be written?

The Humanities and Sciences:
This is what should be written, mostly in the form of essays, or concise prose, like Wittgenstein, or if one had talent, Bacon and Montaigne. Without much skill one likely cannot defeat the past writers in humanities (thinking fundamental ethics and political science), and without much research one likely cannot defeat current writers in sciences. Instead it may be best to mix the fundamentals with a modern context, especially those one has deep knowledge in. For me that is: aesthetics (new media, games), current anthropology (travels), psychology (my own), education (my own), and trans-disciplinary thoughts (what I understand from empiricism).

Literature of artistic merit:
Contemporary prose and poetry. Nobel Prize for Literature winners are good examples. But, this is an very old medium, where much has been explored for thousands of years. I would not dare go this route, although, I feel it would be fun to write something mind-expanding or mechanical not dislike Calvino and Borges. I have read very little, and plan to keep it that way, in favor of newer media.

Other reasons:
There’s probably more good reasons (not practice or traditional blogs), like journalism.

My method:
I feel the best way is to use my own journal and try to understand my largely empirical history through inquiry and deduction. To do this I think it’s best to organize all thoughts into one digital form a la this blog. Perhaps keep a page of links to things that I still don’t understand, to always know what requires more inquiry. Once I understand everything, I should stop writing, and live more.

There is a problem though. I haven’t figured out how to write, at least, a substantial amount, consistently.

Leave a comment | Categories: Essays, Philosophy

Conciseness in Art

06 July 2014 by Rahil

[Witten while quite drunk after a KTV party. Todo: Needs more work.]

Purpose: Conciseness in art is key to contemplation and creativity.

Some of my favorite art, ones that I feel deserve the time of it’s length, are concise.

In single chapter of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, I feel satisfied. I consumed enough to trigger my brain to begin contemplating, creating, mixing in with my own thoughts. The power of literature is not in detail, but in imagination.

If imagination is not the goal, I still feel conciseness is powerful. In Francis Bacon’s Essays, more about ethics is told in few words. Likewise in Borjes’s Ficciones, the stories are told only to display its mechanics. (Although, there is and I dislike the large amount of references)

Film is a medium of visuals, not words. Motion is key.

Wong-Kar Wai’s film’s dialogue is condensed to poetry. Visuals and poetry. The characters don’t speak with social realism, yet it maintains the beauty, because the beautiful visuals and body motion provided by Chris.

Tsai-Ming Liang’s films have little to no dialogue, yet, it retains all the power, even enhanced by the lack of language: a distraction.

Games (and interactive art):
If films can be made without language, so can the medium above it: games. Each game is a language. One interacts with the rules of a game; the grammar.

As proved simply and humbly by Passage by Rohrer, or, with the thrill provided by large scale, Shadow of the Colossus, games do away with language. Furthermore, as proved with playground games, games do not need visual. Just rules. The beauty of games lies neither in language or visual, but with rules. Johann Sebastian Joust is exemplary. Visuals and sounds are supplementary, and often, unnecessary.

New Media:
Simply finding ways to interact is often enough. [need to think more]

Public Art:
Quite different, in that it’s not distributable, but still, conciseness still persists.

Banksy figured out with stencils that it isn’t the skill of a painting, that even a stencil will do. Instead it’s the image, place, and statement. A simple stencil of a rat in the right place is enough.

In a life of constant action, efficiency [todo: link to efficiency post] is key. But that’s digressing more toward a philosophy of life as am creator rather than a critique of work.


Art as Experience:
Humans of New York. Vincent Moon.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Films, Games, Literature

Why read the Western philosophy canon?

05 July 2014 by Rahil

TODO: translate to Chinese!

Personal History
What was gained

Personal History:
Before recently, I didn’t know what philosophy even meant. To my knowledge it was old people pondering about “Is there life?”, “What is the meaning of life?”, “What is reality?”, etc. I’ve come to learn that’s a small part of it.

I recently started listening to a course from The Great Courses: The Great Ideas of Philosophy. With active listening I started with Wittgenstein, Turing, etc, things I found fascinating.

As I had more work, I became more passive, and I ended up listening to most of the 60-part series of lectures, with far less vigor. I imagine if I were as active as I was before the job, I wouldn’t have gave it my time, but a the job slowed my brain down, and I was able to spoon-feed myself.

When I completed the job, I went to Taipei, stumbled upon a 24-hour bookstore nearby my new apartment, and found a section on Western Philosophy. In it, I found Bertrand Russell’s History of Philosophy. I read most of Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, and skimmed most of the other books, figuring out which I liked reading and felt there was much to learn from: Aristotle’s work (in one volume really well prefaced by Richard McKeon), Wittgenstein’s Tractacus and Philosophical Investigations, Francis Bacon’s Essays, and bunch of Bertrand Russell’s essays.

What was gained:
Before listening to the rest of the lecture series, I felt that listening to anything old did not make sense. Why not just use Wikipedia and get an answer that is up to current scientific findings? Current knowledge in neurology and psychology can discard many philosophies. There’s no reason to read outdated philosophies. Although I still agree in many ways — I don’t value reading about epistemology, logic (understanding it and it’s value is enough for me as of now; An aside: It’s a pity I was taught logic in my computer science undergraduate but only vaguely remember memorizing the system to prove things without reason), and metaphysics –, as I listened to the rest of the series, I found other values.

Those other values: the joy of reading [Western] history and understanding why things happened (the role of Christianity, reasons empires rise and fall, why witch hunts existed, etc.), the joy of reading the biographies of great people (see how different personalities of great minds spend their lives), understanding their mindset and methods and approach to philosophy and how they made discoveries during their time (I thought The Great Courses lectures nailed this), helping organize knowledge (Aristotle) and helping organize history (both lectures and books are sequential), and ethics and political philosophy (both of which are branches that will never become obsolete, and both of which I feel I could learn something from all the way back to Aristotle).

I still have not delved deep into any particular philosophies, but if I were to, I’d probably read more ethics (especially Aristotle, and essays by Russell and Bacon), political philosophy (I was recommended Machiavelli), politics in history (this is probably considered history not philosophy though), and keep Philosophical Investigations as a general book for inquiry and fun knowing that empiricism, not books, is my preferred method.

In addition to previously mentioned values, I’ve gained interests in fields I had no previous interest in, which may be the greatest reason why one should read it: to build interest in philosophy and its infinite surrounding subjects to further gain knowledge and understanding.

Leave a comment | Categories: Philosophy

An Attempt to Write Everything I Know

27 June 2014 by Rahil


兩個月以前我開始設計程式的合同。那時候跟一點以前我做者聽哲學(Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition by The Great Courses)。對我說來,我覺得有興趣。我天天聽了很少,只有一到二個演講,我覺得那多少夠了,對我想出來比較多。到那時候我不知道哲學是什麼。只有什麼東西有的學生學。



可是我回來臺北的時候我馬上去附近的書店看哲學的書飯寫。我讀了「西方的哲學」被Bertrand Russell,一點讀別的書,讀Wikipedia。我覺得哲學的歷史很有興趣,尤其很少人好像我:Ludwig Wittgenstein,Francis Bacon,Søren Aabye Kierkegaard,可能John Dewey。


Leave a comment | Categories: Personal

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