On any given summer night at roughly 1:00 in the morning, you are apt to find Shane Moore ‘21 at the Portland Denny’s typing furiously on his computer. At this establishment, says Shane, is where he and his high school friend Gus wrote a sizeable portion of their six month long project—a 325 page anthology—aptly titled “Musings of the Basement Pigeon: A Treatise on Common Existence” —which relates grand philosophical concepts to personal anecdotes from the authors.
“What it really is,” says Shane, is satire. ““What it really is, is satire. I mean, when we were writing it—we’ve been writing this thing for quite some time now—[Gus] and I had this philosophy class in high school, and we started talking about it over the summer and we started writing this thing. We figured if we could take, you know, kind of weird but funny or interesting little experiences we’ve had, and go really deeply into them, it would scratch the surface of some kind of base level philosophy stuff. And it’s all absurd… it’s all satire. Because nobody wants to sit down and read some heavy philosophy.”
The two were prompted to tackle complex philosophical concepts after taking a required theology course at their Catholic high school, which primarily centered around questions of ethics. Moore hopes that the book’s quotidian analysis of concepts like absurdism and nihilism will stoke the interests of layman philosophers. “I don’t really expect anyone to have some sort of [philosophical] revelation. If somebody can just read it and enjoy it, even if you don’t agree with what I’m talking about or saying, or you think whatever we’re saying is ridiculous, you still get some enjoyment out of it. Enjoyment out of something meaningless—that’s absurd philosophy right there.”
For Moore, the experience has been edifying on both a personal and academic level. “At the very least,” he remarked, “I think I’ve become much more perceptive to what’s going on. Even just sitting around not even thinking about the book maybe, I just have these experiences now where I’m paying attention to something that’s going on over there and I think that’s something I could write about. Beyond that, I think my writing has improved.” While the work is currently unpublished, The Bates Student has published an excerpt wherein Moore reflects on death, existence, and squirrels on the drive from Portland to Lewiston.
For the last few months I have been wonderfully content, and would have remained so, had it not been for the events of the last few days. Allow me to provide a bit of helpful context. This is being written a few days after I moved back to college. In the spirit of efficiency, highway travel is required. While on the highway, I noticed a number of dead squirrels on the side of the road. This was not wholly out of the ordinary. We continued on the highway. I began to notice many more dead squirrels. After the fifth squirrel, I sat up. I began to pay greater attention. At dead squirrel number 7, my vision began to blur, warping in and out of focus, and my hearing began to sound muffled. At dead squirrel number 10, the color of the leaves on the roadside trees began to change from green to orange and yellow, and then back to green again. At dead squirrel number 12, every radio station not overcome with static was playing “Jungle Boogie”, by the terrifically popular funk band Kool & The Gang, and nothing else. By squirrel 15, my hearing was gone completely, and I began to experience extraordinarily vivid hallucinations. At squirrel 17, I began to sweat. At squirrel 18, I lost consciousness. When I again entered this reality, I had arrived at my destination. I felt somewhat normal again, and brushed off my unconsciousness by saying I had taken a nap. I continued the day as normal. I did not think about the squirrels anymore. I do not want to think about the squirrels. I am sure I will have another encounter with one sooner than would be favorable. Perhaps not. I still wonder why they challenge the cars. Would you, if you were a squirrel? Would I?