What Did You Expect?


I have read a plethora of memes that reiterate the same basic idea: Expect nothing and you shall never be disappointed. Disappointment is the driving motivation behind this meme. Why is the experience of disappointment so daunting? The standard dictionary entry for disappointment is “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes.” I don’t doubt it. That is, the position advocated makes perfect rational sense. For one already rationally predisposed to this ratiocinated account of all human life, where else would one look to assess human experience? If sadness is too daunting and uncomfortable, and an ultimately needless, experience, then it is a fine conjecture to look to eradicate it. Indeed, one might venture to eradicate intentional desire from human experience altogether? Shall we Stoic-like aim to strengthen our rational disposition and self-control such that the lacking of anything at all is received with equal indifference? Shall we shun the passions and reinforce our rational propensity for order?

And yet when I look over my life it is not those moments of order, or those that conformed to some rationalized standard, that stand out most. Those moments that found me fully and passionately present are! But these moments weren’t fleeting; nor did they come uninvited. They are the outpouring of accumulated moments always stretching forward to be affirmed and reaffirmed! This is variously understood as the subjective comportment of self founded not on reason but on that inwardly manifest and outwardly professed will to claim one’s ownmost possibilities within and amongst all that both threatens to crush me and affords me the luxury to be anything at all!

Living life then is risky business.

Living life involves urgency of spirit.

Living life is premised on the experience of the delirium of freedom.

Living life involves the “dangerous privilege of living experimentally”.

Living life is despairingly happy at the best of times.



11 thoughts on “What Did You Expect?

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  1. I am feeling sooo old. I had to go look up “meme”. I have heard of “mimetics”.. . I don’t really think I understand ( or maybe share) your interpretations esp. of these “Tightrope” memes, so thanks for identifying disappointment as the motivation of this. And this is a grabber: disappointment about something is a pretty ubiquitous state esp. around middle age. Please forgive this, but there feels to me an element of “wildness” to your essay that I no longer can identify with personally. Poor, pitiful me. I have been dealing recently with the effects of what adapting to pawn-broker morality can do: not being able to take ownership of decisions or actions (decidophobia?). So I am partial to understanding consequences of decisions AND EMOTIONS as manifestations of some kind of Logic or reason, however dovetailed. I believe in comets, otherness, speakin in tongues, automatic writing, clairvoyance, astral travel, and the Holy Spirit.

    There’s a saying in the South: We say grace; we say ma’am; if ya aint into that we don’t give a damn! 🙂 I enjoy your memes, by the way.


    1. The point of my brief little narrative was mostly to suggest that this hyper-ratiocinated paradigm corrupts more basic human sensibilities, where disappointment only shows up as one of the many forms that this takes.

      The underlying presuppositions I allude to challenge consciousness, more specifically rational deliberation as the faculty of conscious activity, as foundational. I find this entirely skews the understanding of humankind, self, and consciousness itself. The ensuing construct regarding human life may strike you as somehow age-specific, but in actuality to appeals to a particular orientation of being that “more” primordially orients one in the world.


  2. Thank you for taking time to reply. I also understand about wrestling with foundational issues. Over at Dr. Sadler’s place I went round and round with Hegel and his “foundations”. I think I agree about “rational deliberation” being foundational. I guess I want to ask, What else are we talking about? Is not this kind of deliberation part of your chosen profession? How can one communicate “deep meaning”? That is in a public consensual way? To me, it seems, communication becomes problematic without something we can mutually identify as . . . well, if not “rational”, then what?

    I don’t understand at all what you mean by “ensuing construct”?
    It seems to me that any “orientation” that orients one in the world will “implicate” others. This implication, it seems, is of a foundational level, if there is one.

    My references to age were completely subjective. But in addition to really believing in the things I mentioned, I also believe in gravity. I respect it. I no longer live on a tight wire. I still have some things on my bucket list.


    1. Hmmm well, I’m not actually saying that consciousness is foundational. I side with Heidegger who argues that we are not primordially conscious rational beings, but beings-in-the-world-with others….That needs some much filling out…if your patient enough I’ll pick it up again tomorrow. 🙂


    1. Dear Dr. Elly: I appreciate your indulging me this far. I really am serious about this stuff. I am just a nobody lifelong learner from nowhere. Frankly, I am very skeptical about how far one can communicate about these “foundational”, deep issues in the form of memes. If you can make it work, well, you’ll probably get famous or something. The limitations of this medium and the pace of the images flying around, it seems to me, make it hard, from what I have seen, to communicate many philosophical ideas.

      I recognize this is your business, but as far as I’m concerned I couldn’t give a poop about spelling and grammar–just coherence. Please don’t let any correspondence with me take up any of your important time. I’ll check in from time-to-time. I’ve been waiting weeks for an answer to a question to Sadler. No problems. My time for the leisure for prolonged internet activity will be coming to an end soon anyway, I think.

      One request: Please, please, please. . .If your going to use Heidegger as any kind of back-up, please don’t use the word “Dasein”, or use too many hyphens. I get really lost with this. Just saying.


      1. Marcelle, it is my pleasure to indulge you. After all, this medium is valuable to me precisely because I get to communicate with people like you. As for memes….my point is precisely with the superficiality of these and the unfortunate appeal of these to the “masses” (I’m not using the term to be condescending) because it somehow strikes a meaningful cord! People don’t want to do the hard work which is to actually try to think through the underlying premises endorsed that make such memes meaningful in the first place, and then try to work out their implications. So mine is really only a feeble attempt to alert people to this practise.


        1. I understand what you have written here. I guess Memes have been around: paintings, proverbs, aphorisms, shorthand type messages. I can see their necessity because time is a limited resource for everybody. Some of the biggest decisions about life have to be made “on the fly”. One big decision that is coming up in the US might be an example of how memes could be used in a very negative way. In fact, we might be getting memed to death. And what is most disgraceful: The “exceptional” people of the country know it. I would say people are sitting, or standing on a high wire, and don’t know their about to fall—and don’t care.

          I know that many people don’t want to do the hard work. Thinking and reading are work. But as you know many good people thru no fault of their own just don’t have the energy and time. No excuses; just fact. The consequences can be no less tragic.

          Using the instrument (meme) to make the point that the instrument is useless to communicate important things. . . seems like using a gun on somebody because you don’t like guns. I guess if you or your child is being threatened by someone with a gun using a gun would be necessary. Hell, I really don’t know.


  3. Can’t and would not argue with that. I had to google “memes”. In the hands of a thoughtful and caring person I can see how they can be used to promote discussion. I guess, when I read or here the word “incite” I get a more negative connotation. As you well know, signs, symbols, words can be used hold or manifest truth (as in the best art or religious symbols) or they can be used to manipulate ( whether for good reasons or bad).

    I’ve had the leisure recently to consider the arts of meaningful communication: the art of propaganda, advertisement, political speech making. How some of these things relate to truth and trust. I was recently grabbed to be an election judge at a primary election. These kinds of things have been in front of my face.

    That is one of the reasons I appreciate exactness as much as possible in language, gesture, and intention. I know it is never perfectly attainable, maybe not remotely. I don’t mind ambiguity. Heck-fire I was raised on the Beatles, Jim Morrison, and Jimi H! Ambiguity may even be necessary to communicate certain subjects

    I believe there is Truth. I left behind long ago the belief that all Truth dovetails into metaphorical propaganda that lives or dies on its utility to “empower the species”.

    I apologize, I guess, I don’t mean to be contentious. I am a little disappointed by what I’m seeing on TV lately. Self-referential monologues–an all that. Maybe too many underhanded memes 🙂


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