lovers on a park bench

The day with its cares and perplexities is ended and the night is now upon us. The night should be a time of peace and tranquility, a time to relax and be calm. We have need of a soothing story to banish the disturbing thoughts of the day, to set at rest our troubled minds, and put at ease our ruffled spirits…
—  Samuel M. Johnson - Lovers On A Park Bench
On Thinking in Slow Motion

As should be clear, the primary function of this blog space is to popularize philosophy. Science, despite all of its esoteric concepts, has been popularized by the likes of Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I strongly believe the same can be done for philosophy if and only if it is made more relatable and communicated in a way that helps more people understand difficult concepts.

This is the primary reason why I’ve spoken about love, specifically through my disagreement with traditional modes of partnerships; I’ve spoken, for instance, about polyamory. I’ve spoken also about free will or what might be better understood as decision making. I’ve spoken about politics and morality. I’ve shared articles, videos, and other forms of media about these topics as well.

To succeed in this mission, however, I need to address the bigger problem: some societies are moving much too quickly; workweeks are getting longer, businesses emphasize productivity over efficiency, thus resulting in people having less time and energy to think critically and deeply. To compel people to think in slow motion, I’d have to play a role in slowing down their lives. I would have to shift the “for profit” mentalities of corporations, champion a shorter workweek, ensure that people get more time off, and so on. Of course, I won’t be accomplishing any of that alone; I’d need plenty of help. The question with such a sizable issue is: where do we start?

Upon realizing the myriad issues in the world, one often feels small, powerless, and even inadequate. I can’t do or say enough, can’t change enough minds; people are much too obstinate, in love with their chains, slaves to their habits. In very Marxist fashion, a change in consciousness would require a change in the structure, so a would-be rebellion would be up against well-funded, powerful enemies who don’t want change. They would rather keep things as they are. Yet there’s precedence because any worthwhile movement has been the impetus of monumental change.

Philosophy is thinking in slow motion, dwelling on a concept, an idea, a question for minutes, hours, days, and even years at a time. It is returning to that thought years later, questioning whether your initial conclusion was correct. It is the removal of chatter in the mind, the daily stress from school or work, matters dealt with in your home. It is setting aside financial frustrations, tensions in a given friendship or relationship, and so on. It requires a careful attention and focus in a day and age where focus and attention are constantly shifting; in where two friends are together, but make more eye contact with a phone screen than with one another; in where two lovers can embrace on a park bench, each with a device in hand, be it a phone, an iPad, or an e-reader; in where many can’t sit still and commit to one task unless that task is a requirement or obligation. 

Some of us find time to slow down and think deeply because we see the importance in doing so. We see the utility in it as well. How do we teach that to people who see neither? Popularizing philosophy in the modern day is a tall task, but it’s a worthwhile undertaking. Deeper and more critical thinking would improve many aspects of human life. Educators would think of better ways to educate; doctors will envision ways to better treat patients; scientists will think of ways to improve their tools and advance their theories; politicians would think of legislation that’s the best possible compromise rather than settle for legislation that appeals to a small portion of their voting block; police officers will realize why they shouldn’t abuse their power; people in general will find ways to improve their lives, specifically in how they deal with and treat others and in how they raise their children, lead their love lives, and make their decisions more generally.

The average person admits to this because the bigger decisions compel them to slow down. Few people leave a job or move from one home to another on a whim. They consider their options and whatever variables are involved. People ought to be as methodical about a great many issues, both on the personal and collective level. The manner in which many think is strong indication that people aren’t methodical at all. A lot of people succumb to cognitive shortcomings, often opting to indulge their confirmation bias, avoid views contrary to theirs, and even going so far as to show disdain toward people who have a different view. The people who hold the most well-reasoned positions have considered extant cases against their views and have considered whether a successful case can be made against their position. If more people adopted this approach, there’d be wider consensus on matters of importance and that common ground would be the very basis on which lasting change is built. Unfortunately, this currently isn’t the case. How do we change that? How do we slow down?

And what sort of story shall we hear? Ah, it will be a familiar story, a story that is so very, very old, and yet it is so new. It is the old, old story of love.
Two lovers sat on a park bench, with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.
There was silence between them. So profound was their love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.
Finally she spoke. “Do you love me, John?” she asked. “You know I love you, darling,” he replied. “I love you more than tongue can tell. You are the light of my life, my sun, moon and stars. You are my everything. Without you I have no reason for being.”
Again there was silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench, their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight. Once more she spoke.
“How much do you love me, John?” she asked. He answered: “How much do I love you? Count the stars in the sky. Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon. Number the grains of sand on the sea shore.”
“Impossible, you say? Yes, and it is just as impossible for me to say how much I love you. My love for you is higher than the heavens, deeper than Hades, and broader than the earth. It has no limits, no bounds. Everything must have an ending except my love for you.”
There was more of silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.
Once more her voice was heard.
“Kiss me, John,” she implored. And leaning over, he pressed his lips warmly to hers in fervent osculation.
— 

Samuel M. Johnson

Congratulations Crown, you totally deserved this win! :)

Two lovers sat on a park bench, with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.

There was silence between them. So profound was their love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Finally she spoke. “Do you love me, John?” she asked. “You know I love you, darling,” he replied. “I love you more than tongue can tell. You are the light of my life, my sun, moon and stars. You are my everything. Without you I have no reason for being.”

Again there was silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench, their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight. Once more she spoke. “How much do you love me, John?” she asked. He answered: “How much do I love you? Count the stars in the sky. Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon. Number the grains of sand on the sea shore. Impossible, you say.”

—  (Samuel Johnson, excerpt from “Lovers on a Park Bench”, written for “Knee Play 5”, Einstein on the Beach)
Lovers on a Park Bench by Samuel M. Johnson

The day with its cares and perplexities is ended and the night is now upon us. The night should be a time of peace and tranquility, a time to relax and be calm. We have need of a soothing story to banish the disturbing thoughts of the day, to set at rest our troubled minds, and put at ease our ruffled spirits.

And what sort of story shall we hear? Ah, it will be a familiar story, a story that is so very, very old, and yet it is so new. It is the old, old story of love.

Two lovers sat on a park bench, with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.

There was silence between them. So profound was their love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Finally she spoke. “Do you love me, John?” she asked. “You know I love you, darling,” he replied. “I love you more than tongue can tell. You are the light of my life, my sun, moon and stars. You are my everything. Without you I have no reason for being.”

Again there was silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench, their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight. Once more she spoke. “How much do you love me, John?” she asked. He answered: “How much do I love you? Count the stars in the sky. Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon. Number the grains of sand on the sea shore. Impossible, you say.”

“Yes and it is just as impossible for me to say how much I love you.”

“My love for you is higher than the heavens, deeper than Hades, and broader than the earth. It has no limits, no bounds. Everything must have an ending except my love for you.”

There was more of silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Once more her voice was heard. “Kiss me, John,” she implored. And leaning over, he pressed his lips warmly to hers in fervent osculation.

How much do I love you?
Count the stars in the sky.
Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon.
Number the grains of sand on the sea shore.
Impossible, you say?
Yes.
And it is just as impossible for me to say how much I love you.
My love for you is higher than the heavens,
Deeper than Hades, and broader than the earth.
It has no limits, no bounds.
Everything must have an ending except my love for you.
—  Lovers on a Park Bench, Samuel Johnson