The why? press

The Why? Press delivers a collection of novels and nonfiction works that, together, address society's most longstanding existential inquiries. Such thought-provoking, intellectually magnificent revelations will enhance the reader's overall understanding of the great philosophical phenomena of humanity. The 'who', 'what', 'where', and 'when' fill our pages, but The Why? makes you turn them.

We're all "on" something. Is the clock your drug of choice? Millions of diverse jobs exist across America. Thus, it is no secret that there is no singular way to ‘work’. The term 'working' is ambiguous in that it encompasses a vast range of actions and ideas. Just as occupations and their unique demands vary, one's perception of what it means to 'work' each day may immensely contradict that of another. In other words, the individual work ethic plays a vital role in determining how every single one of us fulfills the ‘working’ life. With this in mind, author Studs Terkel embarked on a series of stimulating interviews to uncover and understand the various experiences had by those who consume legal and/or illegal doses of the proverbial "on the clock" drug. Does it dull the senses, placing those under its ticking influence in somnambulatory trances until the sobriety of being “off the clock” returns? Or, does this figurative clock foster the rich introspective thought necessary to determine a true definition for the mysterious act of 'working'? Terkel’s interviewees-our nation’s professionals, prodigies, and prostitutes-provide the raw insight necessary to remove the ambiguity from an act which we all perform on any given day.
“We Bokononists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God’s Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon, and the instrument, the kan-kan, that brought me into my own particular karass was the book I never finished, the book to be called The Day the World Ended.” In a revolutionary take on the traditional apocalyptic formula, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle challenges our understandings of organization, allegiance, and universal purpose. Set in the post-World War II era, the novel follows John-a writer interested in the atomic bomb used to devastate Hiroshima-as he embarks on a tumultuous search for information regarding the late physicist Felix Hoenikker. The journey takes him through a series of Hoenikker’s relatives and acquaintance and, in an enticing turn of events, Bokononism. Bokononism, the chief product of San Lorenzo’s Bokonon, is an alternative set of beliefs that convey one common theme: Life, as we know it, is a lie. What would happen if one were to rethink his current associations and consider the fact that the pursuit of “life’s meaning” may be a superfluous endeavor? With rhythmic calypsos, interpersonal tension, and a heaping dose of ice-nine, Vonnegut forces readers to question the goals of religion and the notion that one’s existence is destined to fulfill a grand expectation.
“The real Raft. The Raft of a hundred Hong Kong B-movies and blood-soaked Nipponese comic books. It doesn’t take much imagination to think of what happens to lone fifteen-year-old blond American girls on the Raft, and these people know it.” In a year loaded with rich excitement over the soon-to-be mainstream World Wide Web, New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson defies this common sense of joy by introducing readers to the potential downfalls of a homogenized, highly technological society. Snow Crash exposes a futuristic domain in which life may be experienced both physically and within the digital parameters of the Metaverse. Readers follow sword-toting Hiro Protagonist and his feisty teenage counterpart, Yours Truly (Y.T.), two seemingly unrelated users of the Metaverse who join forces to eradicate a mysterious virus with ancient roots. Appropriately referred to as “snow crash”, this virus shuts down the Metaverse’s ‘purest’ avatars and inflicts a sort of system malfunction on the warm bodies behind these pixelated personas. The two worlds, though traditionally divided by goggles and portals, become blended in a manner which suggests that the birth of the Internet may just result in the ceasing of life uncontrolled by binary code and capitalism. Will the world’s oldest controversies–from gender roles to racial stereotypes-persevere in this new age? Does the rise of the unadulterated gene mean the fall of humanity? Time to board the Raft and find out.
Empathy-the ability to understand and share the feelings of others (Oxford Dictionary) It is a term we must consider every single day as we interact with those around us. Feelings reside within the trenches of our minds and linger for indeterminate lengths of time, causing us to project them onto friends, colleagues, and significant others. We crave the satisfaction of knowing that such individuals can both acknowledge our strife and understand its implications. However, is such a feat possible? Author Leslie Jamison takes readers on a guided tour through the implications of this conundrum, detailing her personal connection to the plentiful vulnerabilities and uncertainties of empathy. A trained medical actor, Jamison must pose as a “standardized patient” with a given list of symptoms while also disguising her own psychological ailments. Medical students are asked to study her performances to determine her simulated conditions. Though this type of training is intended to familiarize prospective physicians with physical abnormalities, Jamison expresses a deep interest in discovering whether or not her audience possesses the empathetic means necessary to relate to her in a manner which exceeds the accurate diagnoses of her external pain. Jamison’s bruises hide from the naked eye and, as readers will find out, her occupational and private experiences blend to suggest that empathy impacts all sectors of life. The Empathy Exams offers a clear, honest introspection. However, after its final page, will we truly know how Jamison feels?
Is there any good way to communicate with a veteran? War is both personified and exposed in Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds. The novel, a first for the veteran United States Army machine gunner, is a personal account of Private John Bartle’s experiences before, during, and after his deployment to the anagrammatic city of Al Tafar, Iraq. Bartle’s raw, powerful narration is the driving force behind a story which brilliantly illustrates the consequences of combat. If war has proven itself to be such a devastating affliction, why do its soldiers, officers, and medics feel so compelled to participate? Readers will learn that, for Bartle and 18-year-old Private Murphy, it is the lure of joining a cause far larger than one’s hometown which gives birth to this enigmatic compulsion. For others, the will may stem from a strong desire for comradery or, quite simply, the generous benefits package granted to those who serve. Regardless of individual motive, the men and women who don the American uniform share a shocking knowledge of the unforgiving creature called war that, once acquired, may never be erased. As evidenced by Bartle’s enormous promise to a woman in need and clear psychological transition from small-town young adult to gun-toting Private, war takes from those who face it and, in return, gives them routines and vivid memories which last long after their homecomings. Is there any good way to communicate with a veteran? The better question may just involve determining exactly what it is that ‘good’ means.
“Man, when he entered life, the Father gave the seeds of every kind and every way of life possible. Whatever seeds each man sows and cultivates will grow and bear him their proper fruit.” What is man’s greatest strength? According to Pico Della Mirandola, it is the intangible combination of his free choice and dignity. Mirandola’s Oration On the Dignity of Man explores the many tiers of being. Such tiers-from the Almighty God the Father to the underground creatures of the Earth-serve as cemented links on a proverbial chain of existence. The only being not assigned to a fixed position is man. Man is a mobile individual with the intellectual prowess necessary to choose how he utilizes life. Whereas other beings are destined to follow a troupe of predetermined fates, God bestows upon man the power to make his own existential choices. Naturally, this freeing power is accompanied by confining expectations. Man appears to have no clear destiny because his future rests in his hands. However, Mirandola’s delivery suggests that man has no choice but to reach the highest link on the chain of being. Given his unique abilities and characteristics, should man be required to strive for a seat atop the ranks of heaven? Or, is it his right to determine whether he desires the cultivation of a more “mediocre” blend of seeds?
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