This was recently posted on the Washington Posts web site by rationalist philosopher Susan Jacoby. I am in love with this woman by the way. She asked her readers to answer these questions. After much deliberation, this is my response.
1. What is your idea of the happiest day imaginable? Eating good food, having great sex and listening to as much music as possible, all while not worrying about money, work or responsibility.
2. What do you most fear? Losing my hearing.
3. Who are your favorite figures in history? Ho Chi Minh, Helen Kellar and Howard Zinn. Mostly though, great things are not accomplished by one singular person and human history is destructive, unimaginative, and violent
4. Who are your most detested figures in history? This is kind of a hard question to answer. I think, as history is replete with so many conquerors, it’s hard to even fathom which are the most detested. One could make an argument for just about any political, religious or military figure through history.
5. What quality do you most dislike in others? Dishonesty, laziness, irresponsibility, the inability to take ownership.
6. What quality do you most dislike in yourself? I swear too much and I am too hot headed and emotional.
7. What personal quality do you most admire? Honesty.
8. Who are your favorite writers of fiction and/or poets? Douglas Adams, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Miranda July, Neil Smith, Jamaica Kincaid, Julia Alvarez
9. Who are your favorite visual artists? Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Mike Kelly, David LaChapelle, Robert Mapplethorp, Robert Williams, Glen E. Friedman, Annie Lebovitz
10. Your favorite composers? Hans Zimmerman, Phillip Glass
11. What word or expression do you most overuse? Fuck
12. What talent that you do not possess would you most like to possess? Drawing/Tattooing
13. What has disappointed you most about the United States in your lifetime? Since I’ve been born, the US has been in violent conflict every second of every day. This practice started before me.
14. What has disappointed you most internationally? Free Trade that undermines, undercuts and results in the death of the collective workers producing for the privileged. Iran is a fucking disaster, as is Pakistan and our continued policies in these places only escalate the issues. The aforementioned violent conflicts that have perpetuated non-stop since before I was born is repugnant.
15. What do you consider the most important scientific advance in your lifetime? This is a difficult question. Probably the Hubble Telescope. The ability to study the universe we are a part of seems really important to me.
16. What decade do you consider the most desirable time of life? There is no time like the present.
17. Do you believe that advancing age necessarily brings special wisdom? If applied properly, the perspective of experience can be invaluable. But just because you manage to survive like a cockroach does not mean you have wisdom. If you don’t learn from your own experiences you aren’t all that bright.
18. What books, fiction or nonfiction, have exerted the most influence on your life and thought? Why? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy omnibus. It teaches about life, the universe, love, adventure, anxiety and everything else. That Douglas Adams is relegated to the science fiction ghetto is unfair (I don’t really like how fiction that includes science and space concepts is relegated to a sub-par catagory at all really). Also his Last Chance to See is pretty much the most important book ever as it dictates such a sad and compelling account of the stupidity of human kind.
19. If you’re a religious believer, what is your foremost doubt? I am not, and therefor this does not apply.
20. If you’re an atheist and we turn out to have been wrong, what is your idea of hell? Heaven? Hell, for many exists today on this planet, and there is nothing worse then a physical, spiritual and psychological existance that is a contsant struggle for survival. Especially at the hands of awesome commerce machines whom you are so disconnected from that you can barely comprehend them. I am thankful everyday that I live a relatively struggle free life. Heaven is something I couldn’t even imagine or comprehend. It is an existence where the aforementioned physical, spiritual and psychological needs are met for every sentient, living creature.