Into this formless and meaningless void we call our lives, Jaden and Willow Smith have burst like the music of angels and light of the sun. The teenage children of stars Jada Pinkett and Will Smith delivered an interview to the New York Times magazine that left me completely at a loss for words.
Probably on some level this is an indictment of celebrity culture and possibly it has something to do with Scientology. Probably the Smiths should be in school, and not just long enough to decide that it depresses them and leave. If you were allowed to leave school because being in it depressed you, all of six people would be left in school tomorrow. And if the Smiths had stayed, we would have missed out on all kinds of deep philosophical insights. (At any rate, I think they were deep philosophical insights. If they weren’t, I don’t know what they were.)
The thing I have learned about sufficiently high-level philosophy and physics in my comparatively brief time on the Earth is that, at a certain point, they are completely indistinguishable from things that people tell you when high. If you don’t believe me, try prefacing with “dude, what if it’s like,” and just see what happens. (“Dude, what if it’s like, I THINK, therefore I AM.” “Dude, what if it’s, like, the cat is alive AND dead”?) Thanks to this interview, I now know that there are actually FOUR ways of reaching these conclusions: years of intense scientific study until you reach the point where it’s all theory and you are saying things about cats and string, a PhD in philosophy, getting stoned and just writing down the first things that come into your head (not the “SHOULD WE TRUST GOOGLE?” part, the other parts), or, even better, interviewing Jaden and Willow Smith, two teenagers, and transcribing everything they say.
The New York Times has done this for us, and we owe them a debt of immense gratitude.
Just to drive this point home, here is a quick quiz.
Famous Philosopher, or Jaden and Willow Smith?
1. “Time is a flat circle.”
2. “School is not authentic because it ends. It’s not true, it’s not real. Our learning will never end. The school that we go to every single morning, we will continue to go to.”
3. “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
4. “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
5. “Time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn’t exist.”
6. “What your own mind thinks, sometimes, is the thing that makes you sad.”
7. “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”
8. “I wouldn’t start with the things schools usually start with. I think I’d first just assemble all the children together and show them how to meditate. I’d try to show them how to find out who they are, and not just what their names are and things like that. I guess, even before that, I’d get them to empty out everything their parents and everybody ever told them.”
9. “Your mind has a duality to it. So when one thought goes into your mind, it’s not just one thought, it has to bounce off both hemispheres of the brain. When you’re thinking about something happy, you’re thinking about something sad. When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple.”
10. “This is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.
11. “And then you think about what you think, which is very dangerous.”
Jaden & Willow: 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11
Ralph Waldo Emerson: 3
Henry David Thoreau: 6
Friedrich Nietzche: 1
Marcus Aurelius: 7
Teddy, a fictional child philosopher in a J. D. Salinger story: 8