Existentialism in a flash

So yesterday’s post about unnecessary quotation marks got me thinking a bit about existentialism.  What exactly is it? Jean-Paul Satre and Albert Camus, 20th century French philosophers, as well as 19th century philosopher Kierkegaard, are known to be the some of the main thinkers of the philosophy. Although there is no sole view on a specific topic (religion, marriage, etc…), the philosophy strongly believes in the importance of the individual and their choices in addition to the subjectivity of one’s experiences.

As the name shows, existentialism derives from the struggling of coming to terms with one’s self in terms of existence. A person exists in distance to the world in which they live, thus, very aware of the nothingness of existence. At the same time, this very distance is what enables man to find meaning in the world though, though this meaning is fragile.

Authenticity, finding self-identity through freedom, choice, and commitment, contrasts against letting science or the “public” define who one is. It is a process of self-making. Here is an excerpt from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy* which expands further on this thought:

“…do I succeed in making myself, or will who I am merely be a function of the roles I find myself in?…In committing myself to a certain course of action, a certain way of being in the world—I have given myself the rule that belongs to the role I come to adopt. The inauthentic person, in contrast, merely occupies such a role, and may do so “irresolutely,” without commitment. Being a father authentically does not necessarily make me a better father, but what it means to be a father has become explicitly my concern.”

From this realization of the very power and responsibility of our freedom, angst also arises. Angst in the simplest of existential terms is knowing what you do is 100% your own choice and action. You only have yourself to blame. It contrasts from fear because where fear is in the face of something (a large dog, impending doom, etc…) and can be removed angst is in front of nothing and cannot be taken away. It is knowing the weight of your freedom and choices.

Sartre believed religion as a way to escape our freedom and hold on dearly to an unquestionable fact. He termed this “bad faith”. Albert Camus often wrote in his fiction novels such as The Stranger the responsibility for one’s life and freedom of choice.

Existentialism is a complex topic, and this by no means covers the breadth of its views. The main idea is, like Kierkegaard would say, is what we do, not what we know. It can easily be seen pessimistically, but ultimately, that is also one’s choice in how to view it.

Hmm..a bit of a heavy topic for a Saturday afternoon, but regardless – Enjoy your weekend!

*2.3 Authenticity

Time Management Game – Pizza Mania!!

More Free Time Management Games!

Why not brush up on your time management skills whilst playing a game? Enjoy!

Pizza Mania Game Hints, Tips, Cheats

  • Look at the customers orders above their heads
  • Place each ingredient on the pizza base exactly the way it shows in the bubble
  • Drag the pizza base to the make up tray
  • Add the ingredients which is usually just 4 ingredients to start
  • Drag the pizza into the oven and when finished drag it to the customer
  • To save time, while one pizza is cooking make up other customers orders
  • You can up grade to include coca cola which makes customers happy
  • When you can buy eggs they make the pizza more profits

Genghis Khan (1162-1227): A Mongol Warrior

I recently saw the movie Mongol, released 2007, and it was fantastic. One of the things I look for in a movie is whether it is visually exciting or as some say – a  “visual feast”. This movie no doubt is beautifully crafted and gives a sympathetic view to Genghis Khan – I highly recommend it.  I enjoyed it so much it spurred me to do my own research on the great Genghis Khan and share it all with you today.

Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan is accredited for uniting the Mongolian Empire and ruthlessly conquering vast stretches of  Asia during his time.  Originally born under the name Temujin to a Mongolian chieftain, he became chief at the age of 13 after his father was murdered. Known to be a charismatic leader, he was eventually able to unify the rest of the Mongol tribes. His nick name Genghis Khan, meaning the “emperor of all emperors”, thus arose.

Not satisfied with ruling all the Mongol tribes, Genghis set out a campaign of conquest which  included portions of modern-day China, Russia, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.  At the height of the Mongol Empire, it stretched from Korea to Eastern Europe. Shortly after Genghis’s death, the empire quickly disintegrated under his heirs.

How were Genghis Khan and his army able to conquer such a vast land in such a short time? Not only were the Mongol armies highly disciplined and effective, but they were known to be vicious as well. Typically, they gave an enemy city the opportunity to surrender peacefully. If the offer was not taken, then every resident was killed. This caused such great  terror that often times Genghis and his army were able to conquer  whole nations without a fight.

Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire  opened up contact between Europe and Asia by opening the Silk Road, the trade route which the Italian Marco Polo  used to reach the land of the Khans. The Mongol Empire has inspired writers such as British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his poem “Kubla Khan”.

What are your thoughts and opinions on Genghis Khan?

What was The Great Gatsby about again?

Most likely, you have read this book at some point in your high school education. The Great Gatsby (1925) is considered one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s greatest works if not one the greatest American novels of all time. We’re all familiar with the title, but can you actually remember the storyline? If you’re like me, you get a vague idea of the story: something happens all too late, there’s a woman named Daisy, a gun, something about Gatsby in the pool?, and in the end is tragedy. Sadly, this really is my recollection of the book. And don’t feel bad if my recollection is better than yours, I’m not even sure if my memory serves me right.

So why not take a revisit to The Great Gatsby and see what is was all about as well as why it is such a classic.


Jay Gatsby is a mysterious millionaire who is new rich as opposed to old-money. He throws swanky, lavish parties which draws large crowds of people, referred to as “casual moths”, at his place. At one of these parties, Gatsby meets Nick Carraway – the narrator of the novel. Nick is immediately smitten by Gatsby’s charm and seemingly perfect life.

Soon enough, Nick begins to see that things aren’t as they appear and that Gatsby hides more than he shows. We find out that Gatsby was born into poverty in the Midwest, a self-made millionaire through shady business transactions, and his real intention in moving east is to gain back the love of Daisy Buchannan – who is now married to another man (Tom). Oh, and Gatsby isn’t even his real name. To top it off, Daisy Buchannan is Nick’s cousin, but wait, the plot thickens even more.

Tom, Daisy’s husband, has a mistress Myrtle who Nick finds out about through his current lover Jordan. We’ll come back to this later. Anyways,  Gatsby convinces Nick to introduce him to Daisy, and eventually Daisy and Gatsby reconnect and begin their own secret love affair. Tom finds out and becomes enraged, but Daisy decides her allegiance is to Tom. Regardless, Tom sends her off.

Later, Tom, Nick, and Jordan are driving together when they see Gastby’s car has killed Myrtle (Tom’s lover). Nick rushes back to Gatsby and finds out that it was actually Daisy who did it, but Gatsby has decided to take the blame. The next day Tom tells Mytle’s husband George that Gatsby has killed her. George, obviously upset by the news, then assumes that Gatsby must have also been Myrtle’s lover. He finds Gatsby at his mansion in his pool, shoots him, and then shoots himself. All this drama makes Nick run back to his home in the Midwest and come to the cynical conclusion that the American dream and all dreams are dead.

Phew, and all that in 180 pages.

So what is the big lesson to be learned?

The greatness of the novel The Great Gatsby has a lot to do with the paradoxical nature of Gatsby himself. He is the personification of the American dream – successful, self-made, popular and seemingly confident.  At the same time, he is filled with emotional suffering from placing his values so strongly on climbing the social and economic ladder.   He holds a library of books which have never been opened. He is lonely and longs for someone who ultimately does not want to be with him. His story takes a cutting look at the nouveau rich and their false sense of values. Being part of high society also makes one fall victim to it, and Fitzgerald similarly felt the same way about his own life. The Great Gatsby tells the story of the American Dream and its deterioration.

Hopefully t will help you the next time you hear of Great Gatsby and an allusion to it. Just another interesting tidbit, Benjamin Button is based on a short story of Fitzgerald’s.

Have you heard any allusions to the Great Gatsby and in what ways? What else do you think Fitzgerald is trying to tell us? Why do you personally find The GReat Gatsby to be one of the great classics?

Monday’s Learning TidBit – Cognitive Dissonance

The weekend came and went, and where does it leave you now? Most likely sitting at your office Monday morning feeling less than enthusiastic to be doing your daily grind. To help kick start your mind and get you into the mode of thinking again, MissMentor has decided to give you an interesting tidbit of knowledge for the day.

Cognitive Dissonance.

You probably have heard of the term. Cognitive dissonance is defined as the uncomfortable feeling one has when holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time. This theory came about in 1957 by social psychologist Leon Festinger.

His paper Theory of Cognitive distance states that we all hold a variety of beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. These are known as cognitions. Most times our cognitions don’t relate to one another. So claiming your love for chocolate ice cream has no relevance to your opinion of Obama’s presidency.  Occasionally though, our thoughts do conflict especially when it is tied into one of our actions. This is where the dissonance comes into play.

Festinger’s most popular example is smoking.

We are all aware of the harms of smoking. It causes cancer, it ages us, it is bad for those around us, and the list goes on. Most smokers are fully aware of this yet continue to smoke.

Our minds do not like dissonance, though, and it causes us much mental stress to deal with it. Common sense would tell us to stop smoking, right? Well that sounds easy in theory, but we all know (either from experience of witnessing it) smoking is a hard habit to kick. In general, habits and behavior are much harder to change than thoughts.  Therefore, the smoker has a couple of options to deal with this.

One way is to focus on the perceived goodness that comes from smoking.

For example, smoking helps me lose weight. Losing weight is good.

If I stop smoking, I will gain weight which is bad. Or he can compare the dangers of smoking to other risks.

People are aware that car accidents are very common, and yet they still drive everyday.

Why is smoking a cigarette so different?

One other example I’ve heard was in the relation to cigarettes taking 7 minutes off. My friend proclaimed, “The last 7 minutes of life are probably the worst anyways. Who wants to live to an incredibly old age deteriorating day by day? I’m doing myself a favor by saving myself from those terrible last moments.”

A flawed theory, no doubt, but not an uncommon thought in many smokers.

Another great example is buyer’s remorse. Oh the lies we tell our selves (and believe) so that we can spend that money on a pair of overpriced shoes!

Happy Monday all!

What are our opinions on this? In what ways have you dealt with cognitive dissonance?

So funny I . . .

We’ve all done it….

You’re on a really lame conference call. The other speaker is droning on about synergy when they really mean outside the box, but you don’t care to correct them, because using the correct cliche is so 1984. So you look at your gmail account. The personal one. You see the message from your friend Sam. He’s pointing you to a site that he says is “wicked hilarious.” You think Sam is cool despite using the phrase wicked hilarious – he went to boarding school in Boston, it happens. You forgive him and click the link.

Next thing you know you’re on a site that is actually wickedly hilarious. Or as Sasha would say, f-ing awesome. It’s funny. You like it. Now, stop being a greedy bastard and share it.

Haven’t had your funny bone tickled in a while? Try these to get you started:


A compilation of Craigslist ads that are remarkably, ridiculously funny . . . usually for all the wrong reasons such as a Tutor offering his services as a TUDOR. Perhaps he’s a descendent of Mary, Queen of Scots. An example,

Need Your HomeWork Done

Do you know that your kids are failing a class because they don’t do there homework. Well now you can gett help from us. We do all kinds of home work. We specialize in math, history, and many more subgects
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Need something a little more high strung? Project Rant is performance art at it’s best. Real actors performing real customer – blogger rants. If you are sensitive to the f-bomb, you’ll want to skip this one.


Transfat Crackers is a gem.

Feel free to add your gems in the comments. Miss Mentor will review the links before they’re posted so no pharmaceutical funny-bizness.

Remember, you are at work to do great work. If you find yourself returning to diversion sites daily, multiple times a day, you may need professional help. Get back to work!

We’re closing a deal

Hi folks! Pardon the silence. Miss Mentor is busy closing a deal to add a new company to the portfolio. Regular postings will resume on Monday, January 14th, 2008. The new year will bring several interviews with Entrepreneurs who have started large and smaller businesses. We have had a number of requests for the interviews and have a few ready to roll for you.

The Miss Mentor Team

When you have some time on your hands….

My family has some scientists (mad scientists – aren’t they all?) and entirely too many academicians so this is the kind of stuff we do for Thanksgiving Holiday. Some families talk, we play with our food. Good etiquette dictates that we not play with our food at the table – so keep this off this table.

This is not for office time. Please do not try this in your cube. But if you have to juice up your ipod and are without a wall socket, this may work for you. I’d suggest you simply find a wall socket . . . Keep it simple folks.

ANYONE who sends me a video of them playing the Thanksgiving meal music off the onion (needs to be video so I can see the onion, ipod and hear the music) gets the coaching session of his/her choice: resume review, business school assessment, career assessment or other as we determine best fits your needs.

Happy Thanksgiving! Go play with your food!