Be willing to kill your darlings

William Faulkner once said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” In writing, it’s often considered an important part of the writing method. The idea is that you need to be willing to cull all of the overly-dressed and precious things that you are attached to because it removes you from your sense of objectivity.

Essentially, this is just simple critical thinking and it applies far more broadly than just to writing, martial art practice or study.  Continue reading “Be willing to kill your darlings”

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Nihilism and Jiu-jitsu.

Nihilism is the philosophical view point that life- our existence- has no inherent meaning. This throws a lot of people into despair upon their first encounter, I know it did for me. What a lot of people don’t go on to read about is that it is anything by fatalistic. The idea that there is no inherent meaning is supposed to motivate us to find meaning and create value within our lives by surpassing the constructs that humanity has created for itself.

Within each of us, we have the ability to change our mindset and view the world from a different perspective. This perspective can be one where everything that we’ve been told confirms our place in the world, or it can be one where we question these things and watch as the superficial and dissatisfying answers slip away to reveal truth and knowledge- knowledge about ourselves, the world and others.

In a large way, Jiu-jitsu has been a heuristic for me to change my view of the world. It’s been a tool by which I have learned more about myself, others and more about objective truths that I cannot doubt or question.

Continue reading “Nihilism and Jiu-jitsu.”

An exercise in Absurdity

The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning.

-Albert Camus

There have always been a lot of things about the world, in my mind anyways, that didn’t make complete sense. Maybe it’s because I hated math at school and never really applied myself to learning until later at university, or that as a kid whenever my parents asked me what I wanted to I would say “Nothing.”.

I struggled to relate to my peers at university because so many of them had definitive meaning in their lives; they were going to be the scientists, dentists, doctors and lawyers of our generation. I felt inferior because I was essentially still trying to find something definitive to pin that meaning to.

It wasn’t until 2015 that I read Albert Camus’ work. An Existentialist Philosopher, Camus is credited with the development of the view of Absurdism. Essentially, Existentialists are concerned with the question “What is the meaning of existence?” Camus’ point of view was that life had no meaning, that nothing exists that could ever be a source of meaning and hence there is something deeply “absurd” about the human quest to find meaning. I guess this is an extension of what Friederich Nietzche’s meditations on Nihilism & what I had come to learn at university, but something about Camus’ perspective resounded with me. By that point in 2015 I had already re-committed myself to Jiu-jitsu after a 2 year hiatus  trying (unsuccessfully) to drink and eat myself into an early grave. On reflection, I think I had held a lot of resentment over the fact that I had no real goal or meaning; excusing myself from proactive pursuits to irrationally flail about and dabble in a bunch of destructive habits that dragged me deeper into depression and resentment.

Camus’ ideas were a breath of fresh air for me. Where a lot of people see Nietzche or Camus’ ideas as ‘depressing’ or ‘bleak’, I saw them as empowering. To me, it allows us to understand that it is okay not to have definitive meaning in our lives because it is simply not possible to prescribe any definitive meaning to existence. From there, we can start to establish our own meaning and purpose for being.  Continue reading “An exercise in Absurdity”

The virtue of Curiosity

“Curious is a good thing to be, it seems to pay some unexpected dividends.”

Iggy Pop

In my current line of work, I’ve noticed that the most curious kids tend to be the ones who find the most satisfaction- and success- in learning. They ask hard questions about things others take for granted, never satisfied with a simple “Just because” answer. Curiosity leads to a desire to know more; to learn more, see more and do more. 

My philosophy teachers always expounded the principal of honesty in ignorance: Accept that there are things you don’t know. The more that I realized I was uncertain about, the more curious I became to find out what the truth was, if indeed there was any to be found at all.

Curiosity leads us down the paths often left untraveled by the timid or tame. It leads us away from the deceit offered up by matronly comfort and shows us the way to independence and resilience. Curiosity is a teacher that never questions your ability to experience and learn something new.

I think back to some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far, and they all come from a place of curiosity. I’m no more or less curious than anyone else as a person, if anything I used to be far from it. But upon reflection, it’s the “What ifs” and “Why is” that have lead me to places,  people and experiences that I would never have imagined as a twenty year old. Curiosity also lead me to Jiu-jitsu, which without I would undoubtedly not be here to write this. 

Einstein said “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”, but I would adjust it so:

Once you stop learning, you are dead. 

Being curious means leading a life full of learning; accepting that we can always find out more about ourselves and the world we live in. If you’re not doing that, or at least trying to in some small way every day, then you’re not really alive.

Foster your sense of curiosity. You will thank yourself for it later.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

 

Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection

Two of the most important things I have learnt in the fields of education and Philosophy are Objectivity and Relativity.

Recently I’ve come to see just how broadly these two ways of thinking apply beyond just these two fields; particularly in my BJJ practice.

*For the sake of this exploration, I would like to work with the following definitions of Objectivity & Relativity.

1. Objectivity refers to concrete or set axioms (statements) of truth that do not shift regardless of which perspective they are examined from.

2. Relativity refers to statements which, depending on the perspective they are approached from, will have a subjective value; being either true or false depending on the conditions of the situation or person.

Let’s continue…

Continue reading “Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection”

Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.

If you have a look at the top level competitors and practitioners in any sport, you begin to notice that they have a style that is distinctly their own.

It is extremely uncommon for us to be able to draw analogies between the greats of any sporting field, especially martial arts. We see this distinctly within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu too; any of the highest level competitors are very distinct in their strategies, style and technique.

Originality (and your ability to be original) plays a major factor in your improvement. Here are two ways originality can impact on your Jiu Jitsu. Continue reading “Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.”

Theory versus Practice.

It’s not about what you believe; but what you put into practice every day.

The uncomfortable truth about reality is that nobody (other than yourself) really cares about what you think.

Your opinions & beliefs about the world (and even the way you perceive yourself) does not make any impact on the world outside of your mind. Reality, and those around you, are only able to interact with the actions you manifest as a result of your thoughts. 

We can have the most elaborate, beautiful sounding theories about the world in our minds, but these mean nothing in the face of practicality. We still have to negotiate a world that presents us with real challenges on a daily basis; only your actions will dictate how the consequences play out.

A person may perceive themselves to be “the best”; a hard worker, a champion, a good person, but their perceptions are only matched up against their actions. Do they act as a hard worker does? Do they act as the champion does? Do they act as a good person might? Theory must be put into practice, otherwise it is only hollow and useless. If you hold certain things to be true but do not act as if they are, you are being dishonest with yourself and deny yourself a fulfilling life. 

The joy of the human condition lies in the fact that we all perceive the world differently. We all hold certain things to be true and perceive reality in our own way. Perception and belief alone does not an interaction with the world make however. We must align our theories with our actions if we are to honestly express ourselves in the world.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.