21 January 2006

coffee and Kierkegaard

Had a nice frothy cup of cappuccino in Mocha Blends Katipunan last night while waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up. There are four or five major cafes located along the Katipunan strip in front of Ateneo--and that's a good thing, because it means everyone in the area doesn't have to crowd into Starbucks for coffee.

Lately, I prefer to have my evening cup of coffee in Mocha Blends because the place is very quiet compared to the eternal marketplace that is Starbucks. The latter is full of students (who don't seem to be studying that much and instead contribute to the place's ceaseless chatter) with their books and their laptops and iPods. (Everywhere I turn, some Atenean student is touting his/her iPod. If someone had the bright idea of robbing Starbucks Katipunan, he'd be able to steal a ton of wallets and at least 20 iPod units.)

Mocha Blends is ideal for serious students and the twenty-five somethings like me who need the quiet and feel displaced among the young and the restless in Starbucks Katipunan. I love Starbucks’ coffee selections (I get my morning or afternoon cup of coffee there almost everyday) but some of its branches are so reader-unfriendly. I have yet to see someone concentrate on his reading in Starbucks Greenbelt 3, for example.

I decided to try out Mocha Blends Katipunan a week ago and was pleased as punch to discover that their prices aren’t steep. A 14-oz. cappuccino here is less than a hundred bucks and it comes with uber frothy foam topped with lots of chocolate powder. The foam actually looks like a doughnut on top of the coffee cup and the coffee itself has the right bittersweet taste that I always look for. The foam looked so good, I had to take a picture of it using my phone.

So as I was trying the cafe's cappuccino for the first time, I happened to overhear a bit of dialogue between a guy and a girl in a table nearby.

Guy: Have you read Kierkegaard?
Girl: No. Who is he?
Guy: He's a Swedish philosopher. One of the classic ones. Very religious and conservative.
Girl: Oh. I haven't read him.
(awkward pause)


I'm no philosophy major or expert but I do remember that:

a) Kierkegaard is Danish, not Swedish. Why do I know this? Well, I remember cramming for my final orals in Philo 103 back in Ateneo. My teacher then was John Giordano, who had the cheerfulness of a corpse and talked unintelligibly, so it was pretty pointless to listen to his lectures when you could just study the readings instead. But he did introduce Joseph Campbell to our class, and for that, I am forever grateful to him. (So please don't be mad, Prof. Giordano, if you happen to come across this blog.) Søren Kierkegaard's readings were part of the orals and to help me remember his nationality, I just imagined Zoren Legaspi (Søren, Zoren? Get it?) eating Danish cookies. Labo, I know. At least it worked; until now, I still remember the dead man's nationality.

b) I don't know why the guy referred to Kierkegaard as "one of the classic ones", and I don't know what his definition of a "classic" philosopher is. All I know is that Kierkegaard was one of them modern philosophers, and that he was an existentialist. I'd hate to cram Kierkegaard's teachings into a few trite sentences (because that doesn't seem right somehow) but he basically advocated for a philosophy involving personal choice and responsibility and a more personal approach to religion (not exactly conservative). He was religious, yes, but he was against the rigid, either/or attitude of the Church. Again, why am I fortunate enough to remember this piece of arcane information? Because I recall cramming on Kierkegaard's Either/Or a few hours before the orals, praying desperately that I'd get asked about Kierkegaard--and not Hegel or Spinoza--because Kierkegaard was easier to understand and seemed like the nicer dude among the three. (Well, me being the lucky ass that I was, I got asked about the straightlaced Hegel and I had to try and babble my way through orals.)

I honestly don't know what the guy in the table nearby was up to.


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