Hello,

First and foremost, I’d like to express my gratitude at being able to deliver this address to you and the members of your team. Sadly, I am unable to travel from London at this time, but I hope that the oration of this letter suffices to get my point across to those in attendance.

In the fall of 2018 I was moving into my new apartment nearby my university. It was a clear, sunny day and all of my possessions were loaded into the back of my brother’s truck. I was optimistic about my new roommate. As I knocked…


Can the world be beautiful even if your life feels like it isn’t?

Beauty is a feeling; it’s an experience we have as conscious things.

Sometimes this experience is easy to have. Other times it can be very hard. We might go weeks or months without having it and that might make us worry we’ll never have it again.

If you’ve been waiting to have that feeling, here are a few coping mechanisms that might be able to help.

A tiny, crucial pocket of relief

Isn’t it weird that we are breathing all the time? …


Compassion

Here’s another thought experiment:

You are a sneaker fanatic. You love shoes, and you just bought your favorite pair. You decide to take the shoes for a stylish walk around the lake near your house. But then disaster strikes.

You spot a little girl drowning in the lake! She is screaming for help and no one is around but you. She will surely die if you don’t step in.

QUESTION: What should you do in this situation?

A) keep walking

B) give her strong words of encouragement

C) wade into the lake to save her, ruining your new shoes

For…


Have you ever been torn about what to do in a situation? Here’s one: Jack has fallen in love with Sally. When he is with her he feels butterflies in his stomach and when he is away from her she’s all he can think about. But there’s just one problem: Sally is Jack’s sister.

(the sun cannot express or feel moral judgements, this is an artist’s depiction)

What should Jack do in this situation?

Very likely we all feel that:

  1. Nobody should engage in incest.
  2. Therefore, Jack and Sally should not engage in incest

But why should nobody engage in incest? Asking these kinds of questions are what some refer to as “practicing…


When Nietzsche wrote in the Gay Science in 1882 that “God is dead” he didn’t mean a deity had actually died or ceased to exist. He meant that the Abrahamic God had ceased to be a guiding force in our lives, a serious influence on our thoughts and actions. I assert that today in America, more or less the same catastrophe has occurred to The American Sno-Cone. …


The Irons is an Austin-based band signed to Porchfire Records. This article was written entirely of my own volition as a long-time fan. You can listen to their music on Spotify, Bandcamp, and most other streaming services.

I first saw Hayden Havard and his motley crew of band members in a small coffee house in East Texas playing to a crowd of about a dozen locals, myself included. Back then they were called “Rules and Regulations”, and had a slight if not overt Christian undertone to their music.

Standpipe Coffee House in Lufkin, Texas where I first saw Havard perform

During the performance Havard danced back and forth from his microphone to…


Hubble Space Telescope image of Westerlund 2 cluster and its surroundings. What artist could do better?

Imagine that the chair you are presumably sitting in right now suddenly started shaking. Before you have time to react it starts rising, lifting you high into the air. If you were watching this scenario unfold from a nearby vantage point you would see that your seating had begun to morph into a cartoonish monster with bulging eyes, a blobby torso, and—oops!—a growling mouth right where you are sitting.


Uh oh! I think I’ve caught the bug. Its symptoms are constant second-guessing and a pervasive sense of meaninglessness. Its treatments are Distraction and Revolution. If you’re John Lennon in the autumn of 1966 and you have the bug you write Strawberry Fields Forever. If you’re Tarek Zaher in the winter of 2019 you write a mediocre Medium article. At least that’s what I think—I can’t be certain.

The red gateway to the Strawberry Fields garden in Liverpool, England.
The red gateway to the Strawberry Fields garden in Liverpool, England.
The red gateway to Strawberry Fields garden in Liverpool, England

What is the bug I’m talking about? At bottom, it’s an insatiable desire for certainty. Rene Descartes may have been one of the first to contract it. He decided to doubt everything…

Tarek Zaher

Studying Political Philosophy at UT Austin | Interested in the origins, philosophy, and science of earthly happiness and morality. | www.tarekzaher.com

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