Existentialism At The Cheapie Nail Salon

Feb 23

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Today I had my nails done and looked into the meaning of life.

At the same time!

This is the miracle of modern technology, specifically the iPhone, which I discovered is much better than old copies of People when my hands are trapped under the nail dryer, a bit of modern technology I have my doubts about. Does it really matter if you use it rather than just wait 15 minutes?

That is a question even Soren Kierkegaard, who I was looking up on my iPhone, could not answer. Although Soren, being a philosopher,  would certainly have given it some serious thought.

But why was I looking up Kierkegaard in the first place? I can’t remember. It must have had something to do with something. Everything does, after all. But what? Maybe I was trying to improve my mind and think about the meaning of life while getting my chipped toenails clipped. Maybe I was bored.

Or maybe because . . .  I can.

With a smart phone, you can learn anything.

A quick look at recent searches reveals some of the things I got Googly-eyed over:

Sol Alensky: Why is Newt Gingrich so obsessed with him? I had to find out. Hint: He was a (Gasp!) community organizer. Sol, not Newt.
How many feature movies have ever been made? Just curious. And there is no answer.
IMDB (Internet Movie Database) They don’t know either.
Pan Am, the show, not the airlines. Will the series continue or not? Stay tuned.
GE Stock Quote: It still hasn’t gone up. What else is new.
Never On Sunday: Just saw this film, which I remember loving long ago, and found it to be pretty ridiculous this time around. Nice song, though.
Medea: The Greek tragedy that Melina Mercouri loves in that movie: the one where she changes the horrific ending to “And then they all went to the seashore,” a line I’ve used more than once myself.
Patnyc.com: A link to my blog. Just checking.
Diphtheria: Diphtheria? I think this had something to do with Downton Abbey. The flu epidemic?
Algonquin Hotel: Sadly, they’re closing the Oak Room, another clue that cabaret is dying —maybe because no one can afford it. Watching a show at the Carlyle that cost a fortune, I wondered if management got the irony of including the song, “The Best Things in Life are Free.” Probably not.
George Clooney: No explanation necessary.
The Magnolia Organic Spa: Organic is good. And they’re having a sale on facials. But who has the time. I barely got to the nail place.
Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: It turns out that this has nothing to do with overturning a small boat, but was a popular campaign song extolling the virtues of William Harrison, a hero of a battle at Tippecanoe, wherever that was, and his running mate, John Tyler. Who knew.

And that’s just the searches for today. At the Cheapie Nail Salon.

So. Is this a good thing . . .

Do Smart Phones Make Us Smart?

Well, I now know what Tippecanoe is about (and so do you), although how that will affect our lives remains to be seen. Maybe it will give us some perspective on the current state of our political campaigns. Maybe not.

But my head, and yours too, is crammed with not exactly useless, but not all that useful, information. And you have to wonder whether all this searching for facts keeps us from actually thinking about important things, like what to make for dinner. Or the meaning of life.

Or even figuring out how all these places, which we New Yorkers affectionately call the Cheapie Nail Salons, started springing up on every block in the city, offering manicures and pedicures at prices so low you simply couldn’t afford not to use them. Who knew they’d also become institutes of higher learning. Or at least, higher trivia. And by the way . . .

Who Was Kierkegaard?

KierkegaardA nineteenth century Danish philosopher, who is considered the first existentialist, whatever that means.  Something about “existence precedes essence” whatever that means. Experience over abstract thinking, perhaps. I used to know these things. I see another Google search coming. I think I got distracted by the Tippecanoe stuff, but in my unending quest for knowledge and wisdom, I really need to get these answers — although I have already forgotten the questions.

I do remember one Kierkegaard quote:

“Boredom is the root of all evil.”

And god forefend that any of us should be bored for one minute, or one manicure, or —unthinkable! —in the time it takes for someone to scrub our feet and polish our toenails.

Quick! Where’s my iPhone?

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