Monday, December 14, 2015

Action vs. Intention 2

Imagine a table with two columns. In one column, you have action. And in the other column, you have intention. In one column, you have a lowly podcaster proclaiming the need for a new ethical approach toward life and the world. And in the other column, you have the sum-total of established religious, philosophical, and scientific theory.


Now you must choose a column … And choose wisely! …


Or just listen to this episode. And follow Ethan down the rabbit hole of postmodern implication.



This episode features music by The Silent Partner, which can be found here:


This episode also features a slightly modified sound effect, that can be found here:






Check out this episode!

Written Dialogue: Action vs. Intention

Ethan: I first came up with this idea when a friend of mine challenged me on our Golden Rule episode. He took issue with our dismissal of Jesus' teaching: "love thy neighbor as you would yourself." We got into a rather puzzling exchange about the difference between loving they neighbor and performing acts of love toward him. I kept insisting that you cannot separate the two, that once you tell somebody to love they neighbor, you are telling him to perform a series of tasks. As a reminder, my objection to the golden rule is that it does not go far enough. That one ought to do unto others as THEY would have you do unto them. And even with this, you have some problems. But in any case, my friend’s objection centered around the notion that, if you love someone the way you love yourself, then everything else will follow. That DOING does not figure into it at all. Or, I should say, the doing is a byproduct of the loving. If I understood him correctly, love is a mode of being that determines an appropriate method of doing, no matter the circumstances.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Action vs. Intention 1

Opinions can change. So can podcast formats. And in this episode, The Trio does both! …
Okay, to be honest, the format changes more than the opinions do. It is Ethan and Zach after all! But in any case, the Trio once more take up The Golden Rule. Only this time, they take a decidedly Christian view of it. Is it possible to “love” thy neighbor in the abstract without demonstrating your love in the real world? Is it possible to take an uncut conversation between two zany philosophers and provide a reasoned voiceover explaining what the heck is going on?!? Find out the answer, and a whole lot more, on this episode of The Ethan and Zach Trio.


Featuring music by The Silent Partner.



Check out this episode!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Written Dialogue: Loneliness

Zach: I think this will be the last of a series of topics I choose in order to help people relate to me and my philosophy. Having made enough episodes in order to convey who I am to people (this being the last one), I can now choose topics in a more distanced way, or engage more vigorously in what topics you have chosen, trying to nurture them into being as compelling as possible. A whole episode devoted to loneliness and I will have made my peace with conveying my inner nature to the audience.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Sexiness of Loneliness

The Trio discuss how loneliness, one of the most painful human experiences, is also one of the most important. Meanwhile, Joseph Campbell reveals the secret of the next Abraham Lincoln. Robert A. Johnson's books Inner Gold: Understanding Psychological Projection; and Balancing Heaven and Earth are discussed, and "Zach Tollen, Asteroid, No Home Planet" is explained.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Written Dialogue: Sense of Potentialities

Ethan: This is the sort of topic that I'm willing to let drift on the waves of our conjoined psyche, landing where it will. Perhaps on a lonely island, bereft of human touch. Perhaps on the loading dock of a world-wide intellectual trading hub.

It begins, though, with a simple premise, one that we have all experienced. You are walking down the street and you see a beautiful woman in the distance. As the two of you approach each other, a smile passes over her lips as your eyes meet. For a moment, you consider stopping. "Hi, what's your name," you would have asked. But you don't. Instead, the moment passes, as so many do, and she becomes nothing more than a memory...

Or is she more than that? 

Written Dialogue: Definition of God

Zach: Well, I'll go with the big topic rather than the little one. So: God. Basically, the dilemma for someone like me is to decide whether to say I believe in God or not. Carl Jung got caught in this trap, because a brash interviewer caught him saying, "I don't believe. I know." But what he was really saying was that belief was useless to him, that there was no point in having beliefs, since they aren't based on anything one can know. But since then, Christians in particular (I literally had a Catholic PRIEST quote that line of Jung's to me one time) have projected onto Jung someone essentially like them. When they say "God," they mean a good, all knowing and all powerful God. But Jung's God was a lot more of an objective force than some sweet loving god with a plan. But it doesn't matter, because he got caught, and now all people who believe in God will think they have Jung as an ally.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Sense of Potentialities

Getting a sense of what's coming. The future is infinite. There are many different paths. The Trio dip into the Jungian jacuzzi. Ethan sees people denying their own power. The jacuzzi is too hot! Ethan needs to meet these New Thought guys. Try it. The possibilities are infinite!

Check out this episode!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Definition of God

Zach complains about how the word "God" has come to resemble a loving parent, rather than including all of reality, with nothing left out. Ethan doesn't believe in a universal morality. Take one part Philosophy, one part Religion, Ethan, Zach, and that special 3rd Person. Mix together and mmmhmmm, good!


Check out this episode!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hitchcock, Lacan, Freud, and Zizek

And you thought Carl Jung was esoteric! Zach is investigating the "Freudian horn" of psychoanalysis this year, and Ethan is going with him. Jacques Lacan, most influential Freudian psychoanalyst since Freud himself. Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, Guatarri, Baudrillard... what IS it with all these FRENCH guys? Are they worth the time it takes to understand them? The Trio have to walk a fine line between appreciating... and ignoring... the deluge of post-World War II French thought. Those Americans. They don't know what they've gotten themselves into!

Anyway, Zach thinks that the psychology of Jacques Lacan might contain something Carl Jung failed to mention. Something to do with paranoid thinking, impenetrable jargon, and wooden floors. The Trio are committed to leaving no floor board unturned! And it's all for YOU, our loyal listeners.

The movie Zach mentions is called Phoenix. It came out recently, and it's in German.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dialogue: The Group Lie

Zach: My idea for this episode isn't that complicated, but it has some interesting dimensions.

The basic notion is that people in groups are compelled to demonstrate loyalty to those groups by asserting the basic formula, "our team is the best". Individuals do this too, of course. "I am the best. I am worthy." At its farthest dimension it extends to all of life, "Life is good." Therefore we search for life on other planets, because life is us, and us is good.

The conflict comes from when there are other groups which also believe they are the best. People are expected to lie about their own group at this point. This expectation interferes with an honest analysis.

Yet it gets so extreme that a whistleblower, say, gets persecuted by his company not just because he has exposed foul practices within the company, but he also gets persecuted by society for exposing himself as the KIND of person who would betray his team. In other words, there's a meta-group of people who agree that one does not betray one's team - this in itself is a group. When someone betrays his team, he exposes himself as a traitor not just to that team, but to the meta-team of basically dishonest people.

I don't even have a great example. But what interests me is how the social pressure to promote one's own side is inherently opposed to reality except in those rare cases where one's group really is the best. If one's group is the best, the mere privilege of NOT HAVING TO LIE becomes the new group to which one belongs - and one must begin LYING about it, because one must promote the notion that the meta-group of people who don't have to lie is the best group to be in, even though it may be lonely or isolating, for example.

Slavoi Zizek tends to talk about situations like this - I wish I had his writing skill, because I would have better examples!

Ethan: This is an interesting idea. I'll list whatever examples I can come up with and then I'll go into my own interpretation.
Certainly any firm of groupthink can be lumped in here. In fact, the entire plot of 1984, or really any stupidly nationalist state is a good example of this.

You have this at most organizations, both between departments, and between one organization and another. Families, tribes, cities, states, and countries. Races, genders, sexual orientations. Indeed, any time you have a category that people can identify with, you will see this phenomenon.
The why of the lie, "We are better," is pretty obvious. Identity preservation, group cohesion, actual strength realized through perception. There is much to be gained from both the formation and the prolongation of the group.

I think this gets interesting, as you pointed out, is when the lie starts to break down. When you realize that you're lying and break with the group or, on the other hand, break with the outside and double down on the group. One conclusion is that people are just okay with the lie. And we see this elsewhere. Language as truth is a lie told over and over again up to the point that knowledge is only realized through forgetting. The same can be said of science, history, and religion.

This conversation delves very quickly into the distinction between the real and the imagined. But I see that you believe in the real when you speak of actually being better than someone else. So one question I have is whether believing oneself to be better actually makes one better? And is realizing the lie actually a detriment? This alone draws into question the very nature of better and worse.

The last thing I will draw out goes back to the initial presupposition: that identity is real. I am thinking about your example of the search for life. Wouldn't the discovery of aliens threaten our identity as humans? On the other hand, can't we take any identity and find both an outer identity and an inner identity? The USA is both a superset of states and a subset of countries. The body both a superset of organs and a subset of races, genders, nationalities, etc. This game can be played all the way from the far reaches of the universe to the minutiae of quantum particles.

Must we then draw a distinction between identities that can actually form among distinct bodies, like they do with people or with ants; and identities that do not form, like an imaginary group of human lungs forming an identity all together? Or can we imagine such a group of human lungs is real on a spiritual level?

I am playing a bit here. But with a purpose in mind. Groups form in strange and myriad ways. Even as I invent the Gild of Human Lungs, I realize that lungs come in pairs. For many reasons, both good and bad for the overall body as a whole.
I have no doubt that this is a real problem you have brought up. But it seems to me the question lies in the origin of the lie? Is the lie a product of groups already formed, or is the lie a product of identifying with anything in the first place? If it's the latter, then we cannot possibly hope to solve it without simultaneously dissolving the notions of identity and self.

Zach: Upon reflection, the biggest and most conflicting lie I have ever had to deal with is the notion that my family was the best. I naively believed this when I was a kid, and my parents were not humble enough to correct their kids' naivete about their greatness. I suspect this is the central reason I made this an issue.

At best my family is an average one, at worst below average. This must be the ore of my personal conflict. I resent having had to find more and more obscure ways to convince myself that my family was great, or even, good enough. The group lie has been a huge part of my entire existence, because my family is so downright mediocre. Part, but not all, of their mediocrity is their lack of self-awareness. This must make me very sensitive to all forms of group lies as a result.

But I also went to a supposedly "good" high school - upper middle class in a district with a renowned college town, with few working class types and mostly college-bound students. My high school was the same as my family. While I can say with some certainty that my family was not so good, I'm not sure where my high school stands. There are a lot more factors which go into this. But I found no great mentors in my high school when I needed them. Yet I did feel a pressure to believe the hype, that my high school was a really good one, even though I still can't figure out what that means. What does it say if a "good" high school is simply one where they don't have metal detectors at the gate, for example? The lack of great mentors stood out to me, as it created a suspicion that's only been confirmed since, that I was on my own in this life.

My family failed and I instinctively turned to my high school teachers/guidance counselor/psychologist as a backup. But I fell right through that net, all while trying to believe in the collective lie, that this was a really great high school.

This pattern has repeated. In fact, I've never been part of any institution where I didn't have to stifle my inner sense that it wasn't what it was cracked up to be. It's where I got my sense of individualism from, I suppose. When I see institutions, I always have disappointed expectations. It's just that much more psychic friction to have to stifle the lie they portray about themselves in addition to their basic inferiority. A bad institution that thinks it's good is actually worse than a bad one that knows it's bad.

Ethan: Thank you for the honest reflection on your topic choice. Seriously, That is helpful in determining the best way to steer the conversation on my end. I will say one thing in response, and then I will say my topic. But I cannot promise to offer up the same sort of brute honesty, at least not in written form ;-)

I have often heard you express your disappointment in others being not up to par. My response remains the same. Though I share a certain disappointment with you, and therefore will not downright blast the sentiment, I do believe that appreciation and disappointment are both within our control. In other words, if you choose to believe someone is good, then you will manage to find some good in her. You will actually manage to bring out even MORE good from her. To MAKE her better, by your own standard! And in the end, even if you haven't fundamentally changed what it is that disappoints you about her, nor even your reaction to it, you still will have undoubtedly improved her, and your experience of her as well.

This is essentially what I want to talk about today for my episode. 

I submit that every emotion can be controlled by the wielder to a certain extent. The one area where I will throw up my arms in defeat is a true chemical denaturing of the mind. But in every other situation, I believe that an emotion can be swayed. On the one hand, you can take the advice of most modern psychotherapists who dabble in cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy. Be proactive. When you feel sad and lethargic, move around. When something makes you angry, avoid it. That sort of thing.

But I wish to go deeper with this one. I believe that emotions are far more within our control than we believe. Take this simple analysis of emotions in relationships. One person's emotions are determined in very large part by the way the other person is behaving. And anyone can, in a way, shroud or let out her emotions. She can talk about them outright. She can express them through physical and facial movement. She can change the volume and timbre of her voice. So I think we can all agree that we have power over how we express our emotions, ... in most cases. I think we can also agree that emotions can spread from one person to the other in a close relationship. 

And yet I don't think most people would agree with me yet that they have essentially full power over their emotions, once they move beyond the chemical nature of emotions. And should it need explicit mention, I do not believe that chemicals play as high a role in emotions as most people do. Let me be clear, I don't think anyone possesses a superpower. I just think that the means within our grasp of making ourselves feel a certain way go under-appreciated. And when it comes to the more complex manifestations of emotion, like love, depression, mania, humor, etc. the implications of this theory are pretty profound. You yourself have suggested that depression is not an illness, so I wonder if this theory of mine speaks to you, at least with regard to that. 

But it is with love that I am caught up today. And I mean a love beyond friendship. Love, with a capital "L." That thing that everyone is talking about. The thing that involves spending every possible moment together, of laughing and playing and eating and f***ing together in a way that you do with no one else, of doing everything in your power to make her happy in the moment, while helping her to grow in to the future. Many people would disagree that this sort of love can be turned on or off. And indeed, maybe my own choice of words is screwing me here. It's not like a light switch. But I guarantee you that, over time, two people who are not in love, but choose to try, will fall in love and be happy. And, most importantly, experience Love that is just as sacred and precious as those that we fall into. If they so choose.

Dialogue: The Love Button

Ethan: I submit that every emotion can be controlled by the wielder to a certain extent. The one area where I will throw up my arms in defeat is a true chemical denaturing of the mind. But in every other situation, I believe that an emotion can be swayed. On the one hand, you can take the advice of most modern psychotherapists who dabble in cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy. Be proactive. When you feel sad and lethargic, move around. When something makes you angry, avoid it. That sort of thing.
But I wish to go deeper with this one. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Love Button

Is it possible to turn our emotions on and off? Can we make ourselves fall in love? Perhaps more importantly, can we prevent ourselves from falling love!?! Ethan says "Yes!" but that's just like, his opinion, man. The implications of this age-old question are considered by the Trio. Are we charioteers, prudent stewards of emotion and thought? Or are we wild horses, doing everything we can to move forward in a chaotic and confusing world? Ethan is too young to answer this on his own, so it's a good thing he has Zach there to remind him that we all have a lot to learn from classic 70s TV shows. 


Side note: The song Ethan was thinking of was "Waltz No. 2" by Shostakovich.



Check out this episode!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Group Lie

The Group Lie is: "We are the best!" It pervades all human social circles, and yet causes serious problems for those who don't believe it. Zach complains about having to be part of such groups. Critical for maintaining social cohesion, the Group Lie nonetheless obfuscates important facts. Maybe's he's just too autistic to function normally in groups...

Check out this episode!

Friday, September 11, 2015

OkCupid Episode

Will the Trio ever find love?? A very personal conversation about OkCupid with Ethan and Zach. It's hard to tell whether they're being intentionally funny or or not, but either way, they're hilarious. Enjoy!


Check out this episode!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Isolation vs. the Individual Power

A short conversation mostly about Zach's belief that the most coherent thinking occurs in individuals rather than in groups. Other topics include the importance of being resilient, and what it feels like to be raped(!) by ideas. This seems like part of a larger conversation of which this is only a tantalizing fragment. Oh, well… it's not the first time that's happened on the Ethan and Zach Trio!


Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Word Association Jam


The Trio try something new - free association. It's a topic, but not a topic. A surreal episode. Is it possible that Zach is too intellectual, too focused? Ethan tries to find the flow, like something out of California. Zach opposes this approach with his usual confused dignity. Do they successfully navigate this river of free association - or drown trying? Your call.


Check out this episode!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dialogue: Dichotomies

Ethan: There are so many important dichotomies, it's hard to list them all. But beginning near the top, in terms of collectively understood and recognized, you have:
  • Man and Woman
  • Straight and Gay
  • Alpha and Beta
  • Extravert and Introvert
  • Active and Passive
  • Proactive and Reactive
  • Paternal and Maternal
  • Self and Other
  • Parent and Child
And the list goes on. I have one more that I've come to really like. It's sort of a combination between a few of the ones I just listed, but somehow it gets at the heart of things more quickly in my eyes: 
  • Hold and Held
I'll get into why that's my favorite dichotomy in a moment. But first, there are a number of points I wish to make about dichotomies.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Arche-Dichotomy


Is the universe one or many things? The Hindus call Maya, the veil of illusion, the "10,000 things", suggesting that behind all is just One thing. Does biology force us into a separation from the Oneness, from which we can never return? The Trio are joined by Rob Segal in this discussion of various dichotomies, most prominently the "Arche-Dichotomy" of whether things consist of one or many things.



Check out this episode!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Talk: "We" by Robert A. Johnson

Ethan and Zach are joined by their friend Rob Segal to discuss the Jungian mystic and analyst Robert A. Johnson's book We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love. Johnson is one of Zach's big heroes. The book is recommended. The episode is also recommended, if only because it's the best discussion by three bachelors on the topic of Romantic Love you'll find anywhere. Not that there was any competition… but they don't do too bad!


Check out this episode!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why the Golden Rule Doesn't Work

The Trio dismantle the Golden Rule piece by piece in this hilarious reexamination of conventional wisdom. Zach proposes a new term: the Aluminum Suggestion(™). Amidst the flurry of insights - e.g. it's the epitome of narcissism to assume that others are just like oneself, and that even doing unto to others as they would have done unto them doesn't always make sense - we'll run into Jack Sparrow, $100, and the Trio's mind control technique: "We get into your mind. First your mind, then your wallet!"

They wish…

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What Is Philosophy Dead?

This is a casual conversation about "Philosophy." What does it mean to be a philosopher in the modern world? Ethan needs it to mean something, since he calls himself one. But does it mean anything more than that someone has been called a philosopher by him-/herself or others? The Trio do not arrive at a firm conclusion. It's good that there's nothing at stake besides this episode, or I suspect they'd be demoted!

Check out this episode!

Dialogue: Myths & Archetypes

Ethan: Symbols, myths, they come before us? Are they a priori? When we so neatly fall into categories, into stories that have been told a thousand times before, is that because there is something in us that is inherently tied to nature (or at least to the nature of our psyches) that leads us this way? Or is it the other way around? Do we develop the myths and the symbols based on what happens?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Myths & Archetypes: Inborn or Learned?

Are our myths and common cultural ideas derived from patterns inborn to the human psyche, or do they come about merely by copying those around us? Do the Archetypes - of Love, e.g. or War - control us, or can we outgrow them? The Trio establish the nature of free will once and for all in this entertaining and enlightening conversation.

Check out this episode!

The email conversation:
Ethan: Symbols, myths, they come before us? Are they a priori? When we so neatly fall into categories, into stories that have been told a thousand times before, is that because there is something in us that is inherently tied to nature (or at least to the nature of our psyches) that leads us this way? Or is it the other way around? Do we develop the myths and the symbols based on what happens?

To me, this is an all-important issue. It gets at the heart of each and every important philosophical question. Should ethics be based on steadfast principles or on circumstantial preferences? Do artists evoke the ideal form by replicating something familiar, or do they rupture forms by showing that they are merely imaginary? Is the universe in a state of dynamic equilibrium or is it in a state of pure becoming?

In each case, we have two camps, and I suspect that you and I fall on opposing sides here. But maybe not... On the one hand, I believe that common symbols and stories told over and over again are always a posteriori. They are a result of what we do, and they are constantly changing. It is only by virtue of our limited perspective in time and space and our insistence on a universal history that we come to perceive myth as truth. Mythos is a way to explain the universe, just like logos. But both are flawed. Because the universe is inherently chaotic. 
And yet, even as I so strongly come down on one side of this debate, I betray a hidden desire to formalize things. Take, for instance, my belief in monism. Or my quest for a universal ethics. In the same breath that I denounce these things, I seek them out. And I suspect it is because we are looking at two sides of the same coin. I suspect that eventual progress shall unify these seemingly different paradigms into a single way of thought, albeit one that is inherently paradoxical. The one thing that unifies these two theories is their insistence on consistency. But perhaps this is the mistake. Perhaps we are as yet incapable of thinking the truth. And so we toggle back and forth between things beings as they were and thing beings as they will be. Instead of being able to encompass things in their wholeness. Even if wholeness comes to mean disparate.

Zach: Jung was a medical doctor and it was only his experience with mental patients which convinced him of the reality of the collective unconscious. Patients who he was certain could have had no access to obscure texts he later read would regenerate the same matrix of images in their own delusions, far from any access to, say, the alchemical texts of the 1400's, which had remained on old library shelves for centuries. For me, the collective unconscious was never hard to believe in. Reading Joseph Campbell's telling of stories collected by anthropologists from primitive peoples all over the world and resonating with them even more strongly than I resonate with most of our modern myths was proof enough for me. Also, years after I passed through that circle during my mystical vision, I discovered all the work Jung did on mandalas and the significance of circles as the symbols of what he calls the Self, i.e. the God Archetype.

We're also getting into the realm of popular art versus elite art. For example, classical music in the 20th century developed into a very scholastic, and many would say non-musical enterprise. The composers, probably in an attempt to distinguish themselves from what came before, would write stranger and stranger combinations of notes, and it was commonly said that their music was only for other composers. It's very much like the twists and turns of analytical philosophy.

Then you have popular music, which always stays very close to the Earth, as opposed to very high in the alchemical Air. Jung would say that the continued popularity of popular music depends on its affinity with the collective unconscious - that is, it appeals directly to common human experiences which need no teacher or cultural mediator to make them relevant. I think it's pure conceit to convince oneself that popular music only attains its popularity through cultural indoctrination. I don't believe human beings need a cultural mediator between themselves and their feelings in order to appreciate music. Rather, the innate unconscious structures simply re-congeal in each individual when they are triggered by the musical or artistic stimulus.

Of course there is variety among individuals. A person could dislike any given otherwise-popular thing for a variety of reasons, including to reaffirm a weak ego of its independence from that which the given song or thing threatens to congeal in them. Conversely, there could be a genuinely diminished archetypal resonance from that stimulus to that person - but variation in one person merely proves the commonality in the others who've made the thing popular to begin with.
For me the main thing which proves the existence of the innate (i.e. collective) unconscious is the difference in power between two otherwise similar stimuli. For example, Star Wars is very close to the collective unconscious, which is verified by its popularity. Yet other science fiction efforts fall far short. In fact, there are Jungian analysts employed by Hollywood to examine screenplays for their coherence to the collective unconscious, or lack thereof. Hollywood producers know that if their stories stray too far from instinctive human resonance patterns, they will bomb at the box office. Not to even mention the advertising industry. Even so, there's never been a formulaic way to guarantee a box-office hit. The collective unconscious is merely a set of *arche*types - the *types* themselves will be different when they incarnate, depending on the moment, the culture, the artist(s) who invoke them, and the individuals receiving them.

Ethan: The collective unconscious figures interestingly into this theory. I will also call out the idea of morphic resonance, where the memories of our ancestors are passed on to us in an immaterial way. In both cases, you have something that is indeed a priori. But I wish to draw a distinction between these ideas, which are definitively fluid, and the ideas of archetypes, myths, and symbols which represent fluidity congealed. On the one hand, you have a sea of thought that transcends space and time, allowing the things we dream about, the actions we take, our wills, etc. to be predictable for their being one and the same with the past. On the other hand, you have very specific instances of the sea. Like a boat that has always been there, rocking steadily on the waves through all time. Or more precisely, an island that remains always in the same place while the sea roars around it. I believe in the sea. I do not believe in the island. We only repeat ourselves over and over again because we fail to recognize the true nature of that which is eternal. We attribute it to God because He is like us, and that is all we know. 

We do need to dwell on this disagreement over cultural indoctrination for a moment. To start, popular music has changed considerably over time. And the flow has followed from technological and economic developments rather than from social or spiritual developments. Take just the last 20 years. Grunge to Rap to Pop to Electronic. And now Rap and Pop continue living on, but they have become infused with electronic influences. Because it makes making music cheaper. What makes all these genres popular could not possibly be attributed to the collective unconscious. Else they would more closely resemble one another. No, what makes these genres popular is the particular zeitgeist they are swept up in. 

We're getting into something far deeper now, something which I hope to spend many hours discussing in later episode. What is beauty? What makes a song good? Is it something innate to the song? Or is it some combination between the song being passably good and the experience of the listener. We all disagree so much on what is good and what is bad. We treat these concepts like they are cut from gold. But they are not. Where you gain some traction is in the idea that beauty is based on certain structural elements of the work of art. Symmetry, for example. But are we really going to speak about symmetry as if it is an archetype? Symmetry is a byproduct of space and time. And the only reason we find symmetry beautiful is because it reminds us of the chaos lying beneath it. What we really find beautiful, in a collective sense, is the back-and-forth of familiar and unfamiliar. It gets into the notions of difference and repetition, why they are so deadly confusing, and how that confusion manifests itself in us and in our appreciation of things. Take, for example, the appeal of a single flaw on an otherwise flawless face. Or the distorted impression left by the paintings of Francis Bacon. They recall the tumult of emotion that permeates every moment, not some ideal form.

To me, the conceited thing is to imagine that everyone who doesn't "get" Star Wars has actually lost touch with their access to the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is not set in stone. It is a free-flowing body that is unfolding along with the rest of the universe. Archetypes are projections of contemporary men onto the collective unconscious. They are man-made territorializations of something that is inherently deterritorialized. The entire essence of the collective unconscious, the spirit world, is that it is eternal. As soon as we try and capture it, cling on to it, and use it to our advantage, we have ruined it. It will simply crumble in our palms and dissolve into dust. I can guarantee you that, if we survive for another thousand years, the archetypes will be completely different than they are now. Or, let me put it to you this way. The only archetype that I will buy into is the archetype of becoming-alien. That is the one immutable principle of man and matter. He becomes something other than the light, something other than death, something other than God, something other than the collective unconscious.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dialogue: Dreams vs. Philosophy

Zach: So I was trying to think of a topic for the Jung Interest group, and I decided to go with "Dreams" because of its likely popularity and approachability. Then it occurred to me that Philosophy, in its most common form, does not deal with dreams. The "philosophers" who dare to take drams seriously aren't even accepted as philosophers, but rather mere "psychologists". There seems to be an inherent resistance to taking dreams seriously in philosophy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Philosophy vs. Dreams

Philosophy vs. Dreams


Why is it rare for people calling themselves "philosophers" to engage in dream analysis? Why aren't dreams a legitimate - or at least common - thing for philosophers to analyze? Zach runs both the Carl Jung interest group and Philadelphia Philosophy on The Trio discuss his scruples about advertising Jungian dream analysis on the Philosophy meetup, and why men tend to show up to philosophy, while women show up to dream analysis. 

Meetup groups:


(Note that our actual website is For some reason it only works if you put the www first…)


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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dialogue: Synchronicity & The Emotional Contagion

Ethan: I believe that emotions are contagious. But let's be clear. I wouldn't hold this opinion so dearly, unless I believed it to be profound. After all is said and done, I am a Profundist philosopher at heart, and I cannot--nay, must not--turn away from that. Here's what makes this theory different:
  • This is not a normal contagion. When you "catch" an emotion, you actually take it away from the other person. In other words, it's a zero-sum game. 
  • It works with all emotions, happy, sad, and everything in between. It works like the transfer of heat from one body to another. Eventually, they settle out, becoming the same. Here and elsewhere in my philosophy, we can draw a parallel to the Laws of Thermodynamics.
  • Diagnoses can actually be transferred from one person to another. If I am depressed and you are manic, then we can actually pass the diagnosis on to the other person. The end result will appear to be a diagnosis switch, even if it is just a leveling out of the two people. 
  • The transfer of emotional energy can actually lead to a disruption of a person's normal functioning. It is not enough to think it simply a transfer of energy. The acceleration from one state to another can lead to the channeling of some other force, causing for example, a psychotic break. 
  • It is possible to erect walls around oneself to protect from the onslaught of emotional energy that is flying around amongst us. This is what mental healthcare professionals are tasked with doing.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Synchronicity, Science, and the Unexplained

A great episode. Zach is trying to shut down magical thinking because he thinks it's not rigorous enough, while Ethan is trying to enliven it, because science is too dominant. Neuroscientists come under assault. The conversation flows consistently, and there's quite a few moments of brilliance... plus jokes! Check it out!


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Dialogue: Machines and the Jobless Future

Ethan: Indeed, this is an important question. I may frame it a little differently, though. To start, let's get a few things straight. We are trying to predict the future here. And what we envision as the logical course of earth and the human race will vastly influence the critical judgements we make. A single wrong move, a detail left out, or an impure projection thrown in, and we will have spoiled everything. That being said, this is also the most important thing that any ethicist can do. If you want to figure out the right thing to do right now, then figure out what everyone will be doing in the future. This is based on a strict belief that the universe knows what it's doing. In other words, even if it seems like things are getting worse, they are not. Things are getting better, because that is the natural course of the universe. All it knows how to do is balance itself out. Anyway, we can debate that topic another time. Onward, to the (likely) future!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Machines and the Jobless Future

This conversation was inspired in part by Episodes 622 through 626 of the podcast called Planet Money, which episodes imagine a world where machines do most of the work. Check it out.

Today's people of highest social status are the leaders of big companies. As machines replace human beings in many jobs, we can imagine a world in which the number of people actually working becomes lower and lower, as a percentage of the population. Let's say that after a certain point, only 35% of people need to work in order to support everybody. 

Let's assume that within the realm of those 35% (the producers with jobs) there will always be a range of jobs from desirable - e.g. the CEO of a company - to undesirable - e.g. harvesting food. It's hard to deny that those with desirable jobs will always have a high social status - it will be both necessary for their morale and natural for them to be approved of by society at large by granting them high status. But it's not hard to imagine a food picker having a lower status than someone who doesn't work at all.

Of course there are the positive psychological effects of working, which are hard to distinguish from the current social status we give to workers as opposed to "lazy" non-workers. What if people who did not work were no longer considered lazy, but rather just unnecessary for the effective functioning of the economy? And many people who do work today are not even granted the rights of citizens (migrant Mexican farm workers) - so it's not hard at all to imagine that a group of very low paid workers would continue to have very low social status. But what of the 65% of people who are not needed at all, as far as the macro-economy was concerned? It's not hard to imagine that some of them will have very high social status - they can't all be destined to be beggars, or else no one will be able to afford to buy the stuff the 35% are producing. The 35% could keep it for themselves, out of an indigence that only workers should be able to buy the products of other workers.

The problem is that the people who don't work will still need to be able to buy stuff from the people who do, and how will they get the money to do this? Will the problem be solved by simply creating as many jobs out of thin air as possible? People will need a way of judging themselves, and it's only natural to imagine the person who works is more valuable than the one who doesn't - except that in the days of slavery it was just the opposite.

Modern capitalist companies are driven by the goals of cutting costs, but this seems unsustainable when you consider that people need to have money to buy things. If a single machine could produce all the clothes for a billion people, how would the people get the money to buy the clothes, if they didn't have jobs? If machines could produce everything they needed, there would be fewer and fewer jobs. But a company only thrives on their ability to sell things.


In all likelihood, people will create more jobs in the service business, where the jobs consist of poorer people being servants to richer people - jobs DEFINED as requiring real people instead of machines. Either that, or some artificial way of distributing wealth can be conceived, like Social Security already is, but extended to all people instead of just certain groups.




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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bringin' Shamanism Back

A discussion about Zach's video, "I'm Bringing Shamanism Back", found here:

The Trio discuss what has been lost from the world of mental health treatment by the replacement of ancient practices such as shamanism and witchcraft with "reason" and medical diplomas. The key feature of Shamanism which attracts Zach is the idea that mental illness is itself the initiatory event in the creation of a mental health expert - that authority and expertise in mental health comes primarily from those who have already had mental illnesses - unlike physical illnesses, where one can merely study and practice in order to become competent.

The Placebo effect is considered. "The shaman creates a custom placebo just for you. And it might have to do with wrapping a snake around your neck, or dancing in a pile of mud or something… in other words, he doesn't just have one pill that he gives to everybody. He's an artist of the Placebo. A Placebo should be a work of art, and that's the job of the shaman."

Zach claims one must have a mental illness before one can be an expert in the field. Ethan: "[But] the Westerner in me is always going to find holes in this. I'm thinking about the practical implications. How do we operationalize this? It's really not practical, unless we reduce communities to a smaller size and we have the community shaman again."

Society as a whole is like a mental health patient. Perhaps it requires a shaman (Zach?) to heal it. Zach: "When somebody gets depressed, you need to go to where they are. And they need to know that you get what they're saying. You can relieve them of a huge burden if they realize, 'Oh, this is where I am, and this other person is here with me.' If the world itself is the patient, you need to go to where the world is."


…and tell us about your friends!

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Speed x 2.0

The Trio accelerate past the frontiers of known podcasting in this episode. Unfortunately, no one can be told what it's like. You have to experience it for yourself. Moreover, there's no turning back. Once you descend the rabbit hole, you'll never listen to another podcast the same way again. The choice is yours. But by way of encouragement, here's a hint: Wonderland is just like Paradise.

Check out this episode!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Psychological Marketplace

The Trio steal $1000 from a baby - but they don't care, because babies only understand the "emotional economy", not the financial one. There is a giant "psychological marketplace" that parallels the monetary one, in which people participate through their relationships with each other. They instinctively trade psychological commodities - but sometimes these instincts go astray and the underlying workings of the economy must be examined. 

The idea behind this episode is actually rather easy to grasp - that the economics of trading in a marketplace also apply to human relationships, where you have a kind of psychological energy being traded instead of money. People feel bad when they get a bad bargain and happy when they get good ones. A useful metaphor indeed!


Check out this episode!

Monday, July 6, 2015

What Good Is Expertise?!?

A young student approaches a purportedly wise teacher and asks a question. The teacher's answer makes no sense to the student. The student says she doesn't understand, and the teacher gives an answer which she still doesn't understand. Who's to blame??

The Trio investigate the value of knowing a lot, versus being able to communicate it. Is the idea itself hard, or is the communication just really poor? How does one defend oneself against people who use the pretense of knowing a lot but really know very little? When should experts be respected versus rejected? Sometimes a great mind needs a great communicator, such as in the case of Zach's hero Edward F. Edinger for Carl Jung, and Ethan's Gilles Deleuze for Nietzsche and Spinoza.


In conclusion… another very interesting topic from the Trio!


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sexual Borderlands

The Trio is back! But they are only 7% serious. Yet the power and fascination of their topic compels them! If you can be attracted to a beer machine, you can be attracted to anything. Your sexuality is whatever you're attracted to at the moment. If Zach says he's "straight", it's because he's scared of all the other controversial things he might have to admit being attracted to otherwise. It's far better to be attracted to inanimate objects, or even animals, than to small children - a point which is surprisingly difficult to make!

A core disagreement between Ethan and Zach underlies this whole episode. Between their congenial veneer Ethan yearns for right and wrong to be more or less Black and White - regarding pedophilia, for example - while Zach seems to see more Shades of Grey than E.L. James could shake a dildo at!


Regardless, this episode is full of interesting ideas and memorable moments, including the improvised Anthem of Men's Rights.


Check out this episode!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Is the Truth Out There???

Zach is the Jesus to Ethan's Doubting Thomas in this fascinating debate on the Truth, and how we can possibly know Reality when we see it. Zach believes that Objective Reality is Real, and that it's accessible to those who haves been Saved/Reborn/What-have-you. Thus he has access to Absolute Truth - sometimes. It's therefore very awkward to be debating with someone without such access - and yet it is precisely Ethan's doubting quality that grounds this conversation.

It could only be in the presence of a hardcore Post-Modernist like Ethan that the idea of an Objective Reality has to be so firmly asserted. Yet Zach can only concede this point by dividing people into the Chosen and the Not-So-Chosen, with regards to access to this Objective Reality.

The Truth is Out There. Even Descartes would approve of the closing remarks, in which the only thing Ethan and Zach are sure of is their continued interest in the Trio!


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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Zach Files: Prelude to Ecce Zacho

For die-hard fans only. In the days before his new YouTube show, bickering ensued as Zach tried to convince Ethan of Zach's need for more expression. Driven by a religious passion, Zach needed a soapbox upon which to deliver his message(s). This episode is a behind-the-scenes look at the Trio's evolving relationship. 

Zach's YouTube: "Zach Tollen"


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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nietzsche and the Will to Power

A tale told by an idiot… or Three! The Trio give you their take on Nietzsche. Supposedly, there's serious "bank" in the field of Nietzsche scholarship... of which bank the Trio have taken exactly NO part. They try to give Nietzsche's idea of the Will to Power a fair shake. Also featuring: The Will to Knowledge, and the Will to Simplify, with guest appearances by Gilles Deleuze, the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and C.G. Jung, and Sigmund Freud.

"Jung is the Queen, and Nietzsche and Freud are Rooks. If you misunderstand Nietzsche for me it's like losing a Rook on the chessboard. Same with Freud, but if you misunderstand Jung, it's like losing a Queen… I could theoretically give up Nietzsche under certain circumstances to save Jung."

The show ends with an elegant description of the philosophy of Elitism - it's really profound.



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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Can ANYTHING Be a Topic???


The Trio examine what constitutes a good topic, starting with a hilarious song-and-dance number, and ending with a hilarilair improv on the remote tropical paradise of Indiana… Jones? In between, things get serious. Is it the worst case scenario? Or the best of times? Review us on iTunes and let us know!


To find Zach's YouTube channel, just go there and search for "Zach Tollen".



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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Size Matters: A Bawdy Interlude

The Trio get pretty middle school in this episode. Aside from the fact that they hardly know what they're talking about, they declare once and for all that Size Matters. Except that it doesn't... or something like that. Is bigger always better? Regardless, the conversation will never stray too far from the human anatomy.

One controversial proposition is that the height of a man is as important to a woman as the dick size is to a man.

After all is said and done, a sober fear of what "women" will say tempers some of the more extreme nonsense that is going on in this show. But then, will the Women dispute their being called out as chaperones of this Middle School dance?



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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Internet's Super Awesome Podcast!

Heyyyyyy everybody. Internet here. Just doin’ my podcast thing. Y’knowww. Talkin’ ‘bout stuff. You know? Anywayyyyyy, what a show I have for you this week! I’m gonna discuss some topics. Just whateva’s on my mind. Like the expiration of The Patriot Act (yuck!). And Nick Jonas’ new acting role (whaaa!). I review the new movie, “Ex Machina,” and think about what it all means for love and robots and humans and emotions (ooh la la!); Plus, a very special interview with some guy on the internet. Hey, that’s me!


Featuring music by Silent Partner.



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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Light Speed: Freedom and Captivity


"Captain, we appear to be stuck here on Earth!"


"Nonsense, Lieutenant. Science fiction would be nothing without fast and cost-effective space travel!"


"I'm afraid that's precisely what's happening, Captain. It appears we are stuck here… forever."


Zach bears bad news for the future of spacefaring science fiction, delivering as lighthearted a commemorative eulogy for it as possible. But Zach is merely the messenger, and somebody must bear the news… the real Villain - the Devil who damns several whole genres of science fiction to the domain of impossibility - is the very Speed of Light which we've made such good use of in the past two centuries.

Listen to find out why!


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Monday, June 8, 2015

Fart of the Bumblebee

Some people habitually blame themselves, and others habitually blame the world, but this whole question of "whodunnit?" has been bothering Ethan. He is constantly assaulted by the myth of the bumblebee, who let loose its wrath upon the world, only to suffer a more terrible fate than it ever could have inflicted. Ethan would like to find a way to move beyond the back-and-forth of blame and guilt. And as a philosopher, he's willing to go to extreme lengths in order to find such a way. To that end, he make two claims: Nobody is entirely responsible for anything that happens. But everybody is partially responsible for everything that happens, throughout all space and time. Intriguing.

He offers up a couple commonly held ideas that support his claim. The Butterfly Effect, though far-fetched, is well understood. And most people are willing to accept it at some level. Also, it is common to say, “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.” This is simply another way of saying that you are culpable even if you do nothing, even if you’re not involved. Furthermore, there are already many religious traditions that hold to the interconnectedness of everything. Unitarian Universalism comes to mind, as does the Eastern concept of Karma. 

So that’s all well and good as far as ethos goes. But Ethan knows that his theory needs a little more logos and pathos. So he offers up two more versions of his story: Every event in history has culminated in You right now. And everything You do will effect the future. Which is another way of saying that past, present, and future unite in the super-historical moment that is You; Finally, we must not ignore the phenomenon that occurs when we witness a heinous act. The mind automatically puts itself into the role of judge, criminal, and victim. Even if just at a superficial level, we are implicated in everything we are aware of.

As Ethan's thesis advisor, Zach thinks Ethan's theory needs further refinement. But he sees some shreds of reason in it. For example, this episode of the Ethan and Zach Trio is a mess, frankly, but whose fault is that?! Answer: It's EVERYONE'S fault. A butterfly flaps its wings in Japan, and two Americans produce a confusing podcast episode. And it was always meant to be. Everything led up to this show, and this show is indispensable for everything that follows.

People fighting vigorously against something will, by the very intensity of their desire, make that thing happen. The archetype of the Shadow and the collisions of opposites. A monkey wrench is thrown into the fog, and the Trio encounters the Knights Who Say “#@*!”

What does it all mean? Zach eagerly awaits the second draft of Ethan's paper...



Check out this episode!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Disability, and So-Called Compassion

Ethan has Arthrogryposis, a congenital joint defect. You can learn more about it here:

"Don't let this define you," people say. "There's nothing you can do." But there ARE things Ethan can't do, and he feels shortchanged by having his situation dismissed so easily.

Zach, knowing that such "Christian charity" was likely to be exceedingly disappointing for Ethan, and with Machiavellian ingenuity, realized that he could use Ethan to his own advantage. Muahahahaha! And the Trio was born...

...and promptly went divergent (#divergent), with a discussion of Deleuze's Difference and Repetition. E & Z talk about Number as an Archetypal Concept - is it merely subjective, or does it exist in the world? In conclusion, the Matrix is EVERYWHERE, except for in Ethan's ability to flip Zach the bird.



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Thursday, June 4, 2015


On the exact date of Ethan's birth, the planets aligned and three Wise Men came from the Far East, predicting that Ethan would have exactly ZERO interest in astrology. What more proof do you need that astrology works than that those wise men were absolutely right? Spot on with their predictions!

Zach clearly has an uphill battle convincing Ethan to take astrology seriously. And Zach wouldn't take it seriously either if it weren't for some really smart people who do. Namely, the philosopher Richard Tarnas, who wrote a book called Cosmos and Psyche about the positions of the planets and their mysterious connection with human events throughout history. Links related to his school of astrology, Archetypal Cosmology, can be found below.

Also, this episode is hilarilair.

Some links:

Youtube channel:

Japan Earthquakes of 2011:


Vladimir Putin:



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Monday, June 1, 2015

Ecce Zacho: Zach's New Youtube Series


Zach is a volcano and he has erupted. His world is rent asunder -- that is, he's split in two (rather than that he's merely unable to pay his rent). He has a new show. Go to YouTube and type: "Ecce Zacho" or just "Zach Tollen" to see the results of this cataclysm. Or just click:


But the band is still together! The Ethan and Zach Trio has given birth to Solo Zach, but that is just the cherry on top of a large Podcasting cake, or Podcake, as we like to call it. Anyway, this episode is about Zach, his kinship with Friedrich Nietzsche, and how Ethan doesn't need to kill anybody.



Check out this episode!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

What Are We Doing?

The gang of three ask themselves a simple question: What are they doing? And betwixt the interruptions, the semantic debate over startups and upstarts, and the loquacious foibles, they arrive at an answer: Making a podcast. Duh!


But what does it mean to be a podcaster? Why would one broadcast himself to the world? To Zach, the answer is simple. If you have something to give, then you have to give it. But to Ethan it’s more complicated. He thinks that first you have to figure out if you have something to give. 


They’re just a couple of divas, carrying along the tradition of divas being divas. Like Siskel & Ebert. Key & Peele. Bert & Sis. No, Bert & Jean. No! Bert & Ernie! There we go. Divas are an important part of an organization. Just ask Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, Google Executives and all-around broheims. Jonathan Rosenberg says:


“Not all difficult employees are knaves. In fact, some of most difficult are exactly the people you should fight to keep. I call them the divas. So exile knaves, but fight for divas!


Whereas knaves act the way they do because of low integrity, divas do it because of high exceptionalism. They’re extraordinarily talented and think they’re better than the team (and they usually are!), but they still want the team to win. What’s important is that their contributions match or exceed their egos.”


Beswide the fact that Ethan is tired, in sprite of it even, he and Zach manage to answer some important questions. What does the show need? Good iTunes reviews. Who’s better, Nietzsche or the Nazis? Nietzsche. What’s the greatest place in the world? Laguna Matata. What’s the greatest sport of all time? Whale Polo. Is it okay to sell out? Yes. How are Ethan and Zach doing? Well, the audience doesn’t really need to hear it.



Check out this episode!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Belying Truth (Honesty in the Age of Information)

Ethan grossly claims that it’s impossible to be perfectly honest. Zach broadly counters that those who are naturally better (smarter, wealthier, etc.) will be more honest. Because the truth is actually pretty nice for them. The Trio elegantly agrees that everyone should just be herself. But Ethan takes issue with the matter of selfhood. He thinks that everyone is hiding something. Take Mark Zuckerberg, for example. Everybody knows that he’s hiding some deep dark dirty detestable secret. In this case, and for all eternity, this secret shall be known as: The Peanut Butter Reveal. In other words, he secretly spreads peanut butter between his butt cheeks. It’s true. 


Zach realizes that Ethan is concerned primarily with the sin of omission. In other words, people are dishonest because they neglect to state the entire truth. It’s not so much the “nothing but the truth” that bothers Ethan. It’s the “whole truth” that bothers him. In politics, the truth is treated like the village bicycle. Everybody gets a chance to reveal some petty personal preference of her own. Like what Hillary Clinton eats at Chipotle. Politicians embody dishonesty by catering to everyone. But this is only because the stakes are too high for pure honesty in this day and age. Then again, pure honesty can be measured both quantitatively (how much do you tell the truth?) and qualitatively (how juicy are the truths that you tell?).


Ethan drops a bomb after pressing the wrong button. Oops. Nobody can be honest with himself. And a zillion people would agree with that! So says Zachrates … He who spreads peanut butter (and the word!) between his butt cheeks (and the world!). But butt butter is no match for The White Light. Like with those people who die and see themselves from the outside looking in. Certainly they understand themselves in a way that goes beyond the mere living. Nay! There’s a limit to how much one can understand his body. Or a roller coaster, for that matter. Think about it. In order to fully understand the roller coaster, you would have to ride it infinite times! You can’t experience an entity to its full extent. Therefore, nothing can be known. So honesty is a moot point. Thanks a lot, Ethan!


We’ve simply forgotten what practicality means. Something being true on a practical level is not the same as something being true on an absolute level. Take lawyers, for example. They operate in a world where absolute truth doesn’t even exist. They are able to create truthiness through the opinions of jurors and judges. 


Ethan encourages stasis in an effort to find the common denominator of all problems. And although he doesn’t succinctly state it, he believes that the root of all evil is the misapplication of knowledge via language. Zach says the root of all evil is discontent. Y’know? Lack? Rejection? Being eaten! The Holy Trinity: Brain, Hand, and Butt. Not to mention, the fourth member of the trio: Peanut Butter!



Check out this episode!