Shelf Life Expiration Review: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Slowly but surely, I’m flipping through the pages of the books I’ve hoarded and neglected and will be giving mini-reviews on what I think of them in the new segment Shelf Life Expiration Reviews.  Last month, I took to task reading the philosophical narrative Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. What a powerful read.

Sophie's World | Shelf Life Expiration | Stressing Out College | stressingoutstudent

I’ve had a mild fascination with the history of major philosophies for quite some time, having read a little here and there throughout my hefty academic career. However, I had been having a hard time figuring out where to properly begin my sojourn into the world of philosophy – something more put together than a series of Wikipedia articles, but that would take less effort than reading translations of interpretations of translations of old texts?

Sophie’s World was my answer.

Gaardner opens us into the cradle of western thought in Greece and guides us through the cliched whirlwind tour of the history of western philosophy. At first, the metanarrative seemed like a cheap, lazy veil of a story to carry the history lesson through. But it ended up taking a brain-picking turn for the unexpected. Socrates, the Renaissance, Hume, Hegel, Darwin. It’s by no means an exhaustive look at the history of western philosophy – he gives Nietzche a mere sentence of a mention – but it’s great for newbies like me. And the index at the back makes for easy referencing.

I still don’t understand all of what happens narratively in the novel with Gaarder toying with questions of perspective and reality, so I suppose I’ll just have to read it again sometime. Not complaining here. Sophie’s World gets the Shelf Life Seal of Approval from me.

This is the first Shelf Life Expiration Review of hopefully many more to come. I’ll try my best to read a non-school-related book each month from my Shelf Life Expiration List and tell you how great, mediocre, or terrible I think it is. Have you read Sophie’s World? Or any book like it? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.

Scrap Paper Poetry #3: One in the Hand, Too Bored

Scrap Paper Poetry - Hand

Why, oh why did I think it was a good idea to take a Critical Thinking class that runs from 5:30 to 9:00 at night? [Edit: That’s a lot of empty space down there. Hrm. Too lazy to fix it.]

Boredom boredom everywhere

and not a drop of sleep.

Reason out that argument,

a conclusion two premises deep.

Pay attention,

Make sure you understand.

Oh, look-

I drew a hand.


Scrap Paper Poetry - Hand 2

Oh yes, because it was originally going to be taught by a professor I’d previously had, who rocks my philosophical socks. But there was a last-minute professor change… *sigh* More poems to come.

Groundhog Day II: The Groundhog Hour

The savings are coming! The savings are coming!

Commercial-sounding intro aside, Sunday, November 4th marks the end of Daylight Savings. It is that time of year (unless you’re in Hawaii or Arizona because you’re just too cool for this), to set all the clocks in your house, in your car, in your office, on your wrist, etc, etc BACK one whole hour. At 2 a.m., to be exact. But if you’re like me and every other average shmoe, you’re not actually going to stay up/wake up to set back your clock at 2 in the morning. So you set it before you go to bed or tomorrow morning. Or, like some (me), you completely forget about this literal waste of time and are an hour ahead of the rest of the world (or just the population within your timezone. Unless you’re in Hawaii or Arizona. Or deep in a jungle with Mistah Kurtz. But we digress.) And you remain an hour ahead of your peers until you realize why you missed out on your morning cartoons, and why your girlfriend was furious with you when you finally arrived for what was supposed to be a prompt, timely, you-should-be-on-freaking-time, romantic dinner out. (Oh the horror, the horror).

But isn’t it weird? We add an hour to the day. So we effectively relive this whole hour. Kind of. Let’s get Bill Murray on this project now!

Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil - Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t seem too keen on the idea.

Mini History Lesson:

This Daylight Savings business officially began in Germany and Austria in 1916. The U.S. of A. decided to jump on that bandwagon in 1918. But it wasn’t until 1966 with the Uniform Time Act that it became a more consistent, nationwide practice that helped settle the confusion of local laws concerning Daylight Savings. And from 2007 in the U.S., Daylight Savings officially starts at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November. In some European countries, Daylight Savings lasts from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday of March to 1 a.m. on the last Sunday of October. (To read more about Daylight Savings Time, click here).
Failing to stop time
When I wake up at 9 a.m. or noon or 3 p.m., depending on how obnoxious my neighbors decide on being, I will look over at my clock and realize it is incorrect by the standard time. So I will groggily and mechanically mess with the digital doohickey and set it back to an hour when I was still sleeping. It shouldn’t be a mind trip. This manipulation of time isn’t actually manipulation of physical (or metaphysical?) time. It’s shallow. It’s a humanity power trip more than a mind trip. But all the same, it is fascinating how we can simply twist back a dial or push a few buttons and adjust the time of day.

Time. Time is fleeting. Time is mysterious. The fourth dimension. We can possess it, take it, race it, lose it. Calculate and measure it. It flies and slips by. It can be right or wrong, hard or easy. We can have a whale of it! And it can not exist without you, without matter. Existence itself is the mother of time. (And is Time its own Father?) Newton wrote of a “universal flow of time” for our universe to work. Einstein (and Hendrik Lorentz before him) blew (and still blows) our minds with the relativity concept. All in all, we still don’t completely understand it. So we just use it, abuse it, and hear it tick tocking on the mantelpiece, a crude representation of Time’s passing – if that is how it actually works anyway. The Nobel Prize is up for the taking: one could spend loads of time ruminating on Time’s nature. But frankly, right now, I don’t have enough of it.

So what are your thoughts on Daylight Savings Time? And what are you going to do with your extra hour?

I know what I’m going to do:

Garfield Sleeping

Zzzzz…