Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Which Way Is Up?" Revisited

About a year and a half ago I began this blog. Before logging on to create an account, I knew I needed a name—but I drew a complete blank. I had a hard time coming up with a title that I felt would somehow epitomize me and what I intended to do with my little piece of cyberspace. Eventually, after much deliberation, I settled on “Which Way Is Up?” with the subhead “Perpetually searching for the answer.”

I’ve always been a thoughtful person, someone who thinks about what she does and why she does it. I’ve come to where I am in life through much reflection and by drawing my own conclusions. And I acknowledge that, young as I am, my process of development is nowhere near its end. In fact, I hope and expect to be thinking and growing for as long as I am allowed the privilege of living in this world.

I am also a strong believer in the multiplicity of perspectives that exist within Torah Judaism. As one of my Rebbeim in seminary put it: “Gray is my hashkafa.” The right choice is not always clear; every decision comes with sacrifices, every chumra with a kulah. Because of the existence of endless nuance, every choice must be evaluated on its own; the answer perpetually sought, rarely crystal clear.

For all of these reasons, I chose “Which Way” to represent myself and my blog—symbolic of my constant search for the truest path, a search I know will never be concluded.

However, for most of my blog’s lifespan, its title has not necessarily reflected the content of its posts. Though it was an accurate depiction of a crucial aspect of its author’s philosophy, the blog itself was not (primarily) utilized as a medium to further that mission. Though I’ve touched on philosophical topics, most of those posts did not generate much further discussion—and I’ve also spent lots of blogspace regaling readers with tales of procrastination and adventures (in NYC, London, Israel, and elsewhere), as well as musings on writing, chagim, and lots of other randomness.

Over the past number of months, I’ve found myself thinking even more than usual. I’ve come back to philosophical questions I might have considered “settled” before, and have pondered many more that had never occurred to me. More than ever, I feel myself seeking discussion and debate. Not just about the ‘big’ questions of life and religion, but also about more specific topics that occur to me at random.

At the beginning of The Lonely Man of Faith, the Rav writes, “Knowledge in general and self-knowledge in particular are gained not only from discovering logical answers but also from formulating logical, even though unanswerable, questions.” Asking questions is a crucial exercise, even when no one conclusive answer is reached.

So when questions occur to me, I want discussion, above all. I thank God that I am blessed with several circles of wonderful and intelligent friends, but often I want more than a single perspective can offer. I want a discussion that extends beyond one, two, three, people, into a larger circle of diverging viewpoints.

And so I’ve found myself turning to my blog as a place to ask questions, and hopefully generate discussion. Within the past months, the comments on these posts are the closest my blog has come to providing what I’m looking for, but I have about six or seven posts—philosophical issues or questions—running through my head that I’d like to write up and discuss. I cannot promise that I will do so, and I’m not planning to start writing every day (far from it!), but I would love to create a place for meaningful thought and discussion—and none of that can happen without you, the readers and commenters.

So welcome all—I encourage you to add your unique perspectives to every post, to make this blog a place for questions, for Truth-seeking, and for knowledge in general and self-knowledge in particular.


Erachet said...

Though I suppose now is not a good time to throw out the question, "why do bad things happen to good people?"

(I was actually going to post just that question last night but didn't end up doing it)

I give you my full support for a philosophical, discussion filled blog (to be honest, I'd like a venue for that, myself), and here's to hoping a lot more readers with differing viewpoints contribute to your little corner of the internet!

(er, shall we raise a mug of hot chocolate for a l'chaim?)

Holy Hyrax said...

>Over the past number of months, I’ve found myself thinking even more than usual.

There's your problem right there. Take care of that and you will be set :)

G said...

I second that emotion.

Thinking is overrated.

the apple said...

Don't listen to them, SJ! Thinking = good! ;)

SJ said...

G and HH - allow me to refer you to my comment on this post:

Erachet and Apple - I'm glad I have your support. :)