Thursday, February 9, 2012

On Eudaimonia and Coffee

On the drive back from half a day of snowboarding up North, I stopped to pick up a friend in the city. He informed me the night before that there is a new coffee place worth checking out in the city. Coffee places are like mushrooms after the rain in this city.

So, we go get coffee at this place where the baristas wear these sort of..., eh, why bother. As I keep explaining to my people, this city is where hipsters and scenesters come to retire. Sort of like Portland, but, you know, generally prettier. Sorry, Portlanders. Those of you who've been here sort of already concur.

I still had my slope hat on and my right leg was killing me thanks to a prior fall. Coffee tasted good, though. Apparently, after taking the first sip I had this look on my face that said, I'm so not here right now. I'm so somewhere else.
The other party asked me, "where did you go just now?"
He continues, "you have a look on your face right now that says, 'I'm so not here right now. I'm so somewhere else.'"
I get that look when I'm fully happy for the moment. I wonder why, in moments like that, I look disinterested in the present place and company, but I know that it happens. There's this utter detachment from the present moment. I suppose 'happy' looks different to different people.

I snap back into the present moment. I look around and I see a sea of iPhones and Apple gizmos, Ugg boots, and blah, blah, blah. "Eeek, I had to snap back to this," I think to myself. My friend opened up his messenger bag and he pulled out a book that looked beat up by time.

"Why do some translate 'eudaimonia' as 'happiness'", he asks.
I shrug my shoulders. Not because I don't have an answer. Alas, I sort of did. But because I was getting a bit of a sensorial overload from the new coffee place where the baristas have this 'cool' way of making..... ah, who cares.

"Can't really talk about eudaimonia right this very minute." In a nutshell, the eudaimonists concerned themselves with the maximizing of one's own practical goal to achieving happiness. They might call it happiness, I'm more inclined to calling it evasion of futility. Whichever is more important to one, I suppose. Just an hour ago my telos was staying on the board and not letting the right eye that kept itching bother me too much. "Let's get out of here. I'm worried about getting a ticket. It's been what...?"
"About 10 minutes," he says.
We leave. While driving on a street with too many lights I complain about traffic and then think to resume his initial topic of eudaimonism.
"So, what about them?"
He knew what I was referring to and promptly said,
"I wonder if some translate it as 'happiness' because it puts a stop to artistic pursuit. To go after art means, or should mean, to suffer."
I take a sip of my surprisingly unpretensious coffee and only manage to get two words out before I'm interrupted by a laughter. I say one function word and one content word and then a "HA" ensues.
"The telos...."
Ha, telos, I'm sorry, he says, you have that silly hat on with the two hanging straps and your board is in the backseat and The Killers are playing in your iPod and we're talking about eudaimonia.
I didn't think that the content word 'telos' was that humorous a choice but I suppose in the context we were in, it sort of, kind of was.
We left eudaimonia at that.
This morning as I was straightening my hair, I was thinking of the little exchange and got to thinking about it a bit more. I wondered why I never cared much for it. And then I wondered why I never cared much about Aristotle either. Just because I 'get' them, doesn't mean I ought to care, or even like, them. Philosophy, much like anything else, should serve a practical function, one that is of use to the person to be/get better. Aristotle was so adamant about the importance of philosophy and how it is good for the mind to be consumed by it. It turns out, it's not always so. It's better for the mind to be consumed with the practicality of the pursuit of happiness, however. Sometimes, most times actually, it's better for the mind to wander freely. And that's as close to being happy as some people can hope to get. I suppose this would make me a bit of a eudomonia-enamored person at this present moment. The purpose of life is to practically go after one's own happiness. Or something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think I've been at that very coffee shop. ;)
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