Thursday, September 29, 2011

Easy Contempt

Perhaps it is a worn out cliche.  Still, it is easier to feel contempt, to be negative, or to find an excuse not to make an attempt, than to find reasons, be positive, or look for understanding under the surface of chaos.

Depression is Comfy

I've been thinking about the rationale behind depression--you know, the emotional rationale.   What's the reason for depression?  Why revert to it even when it exacts certain pain from its occupant?  It must provide some benefit, and that benefit, somehow, must be comfort, the ability to withdraw from the world and recharge (or not), the capacity to narrow one's mind into one's own life.  Because I think the world is increasingly overwhelming, and complicated and messy.  And depression doesn't sound good, mostly because it isn't.  But that also doesn't mean that it doesn't provide some benefits either.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You're Not The Best.

And the likelihood is that you'll never be. Ever.  So scratch that idea, that fantasy.

I'm certainly not.  I know that my limitations outweigh my strengths. It sucks to know it, but I know it still.

The stark reality is that, for a given field of endeavor, we probably don't even know what the best looks like because we can't understand it. 

That's not a pitfall, mind you.  It just means that progress is possible.   And that we're not fundamentally broken because we haven't fulfilled the false wishes of those of us who try to formulate the parameters of our behavior and thoughts with their ideals and trances.

That's not the same as thinking that nobody and nothing restricts us and choosing ignorance.  Trust me, I used to chose ignorance a lot more than I'd care to admit now.  It remains, though, that, any one of us can spend many years to get even moderately decent at something.    The catch is that being moderately decent at something is still above average.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Most people act in what they believe are justified ways.  Which is to say, even when someone does something that upsets you greatly--you see no justification for it--they most likely are acting in accordance with their normative ideas about how they should act.  Which is to say that they have a reason. It's just that, when we're pissed with other people, we don't often think about their reasons and they don't often think about our reasons.

It is very difficult, for whatever reason, to say: I understand they have their reason, even when we know objectively that they have their reason and that their reason is valued by them subjectively the same that we value our subjective reason (predominantly as a priority over other competing reasons), and then put their reason prior to our reason, i.e. to not get mad, but to acquiesce in whatever conflict has arisen.

Of course, the world would be a little better if more of us were forgiving and the other half of us who always placate decided to stand up for ourselves once in a while.  The ends would justify the means, I think, collectively.  It just might not individually.

The skill I've most admired as of late is the ability to zoom in one's focus to minutiae and then back out to macro-events/reasons, and then back into the minutiae.   This is really hard to do.  In general, because we prioritize ourselves so heavily, it is hard to back away from reasons that justify our own predominance.  But when we do, there is a greater and more wonderful knowledge: of being accurate.  Or, that is, less wrong.  We probably can't ever quite get accurate.

We might have to pay the price in ego once in a while to get a little insight, in other words.  It is worth it.  It is worth it.   And it is worth diving into all that is difficult again and again and banging your head against the wall to try to understand it.  Especially when you don't.     I only wish my current self could have talked to my previous self.

Lights: Yeah, I put them up--Learning Process

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hard Times, Welch.

The Personal

I've shied away from making this too personal lately.  Sorry about that.  It was my  intention to bring some of these thoughts "home" if possible.  The truth is that I've honestly been subsumed with work for the first time in my life--and I mean, positively for the first time in my life.  I'm engrossed in it.  Suffice it to say that work is all about figuring out the cost of social goods--a particular kind of social good, mind you, something that already has a market.  And it has helped me realize that I'm absolutely never ever going to come close to having anything near an understanding of how even ten percent of the world works around me.  I mean, it is just too freakin' complicated and sophisticated.  There's no way to do it all.  I don't mean "handle all that is already in my life" and I don't mean that I'm going to stop investing my mental energies into undertsanding the world around me.  I just mean that I'll stop telling myself the lie that I can get to a place where it all makes sense.  It won't.  It can't.   I'm not an expert on almost everything. 

At first, when that realization hits home and the bottom drops out, the wave of insecurity is baffling in size, but now, it induces accuracy that I've acclimated to, at least partially, in that I can find fascinating almost everything and, well, there's a lesson to learn almost everywhere, from making breakfast to riding the train, to sleeping positions, to writing, to interactions, to knowing what set of personality quirks I've been adorned with by birth, and to frolicking with myself on a rainy night in northeastern city and thinking, for once, that i'm sort of [whisper] at a level of agitated engaged peace [i.e. i want nothing outside of this moment].

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brand Name Recognition: The University

Brand management is an important aspect of running any organization--do it well, and your organizations becomes synonymous with the types of things that everyone is jealous of: power, prestige, and intrinsic appeal.  I can think of no better example than the name of the university.  With it comes a host of expected intrinsic values.  They attach to the name whether or not the person.  Say it with me.  Harvard.  Berkeley.  Stanford.  Princeton.  It doesn't matter if you studied creative writing or physics, if you went to Harvard, you went to Harvard, and you'll be given more latitude.  The question is whether the name attaches significant meaning to its products (graduates) in any measurable way.  

The funny thing is that it doesn't matter if these people could objectively get better jobs because of their skills, or because hiring managers prefer to see certain schools represented--in the end, those are one in the same. Brand is just that = the ability to produce a mental short cut toward qualification for inclusion, to place the name in the slot of "exhibits requisite skills."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Battered Woman Defense

There's a bit of a legal war going on right now in Kew Gardens Queens.  Barbara Sheehan has been accused of unlawfully killing her husband, who was, by trade, a NYC police investigator. 

To justify self-defense, a defendant must prove that he or she was under immediate life-threatening harm.  Most jurisdictions say that such a threat must be both objective and subjective (the defendant believed it, and a reasonable person would also believe it). 

There's a catch, commonly called the battered-woman's-defense, and it is this: a battered woman, one who suffered domestic violence/abuse for some sustained amount of time, need not prove that she was under immediate bodily harm.

Anyway, it seems to me, from reading some of the news reports about this case, that she is arguing both: a) that she was justified in using lethal self-defense because any person in her situation would have been (she met the statutory requirements) and b) that she was justified in using lethal self-defense because she was a battered woman and this was the only way out.

For the record, lots of people think that battered women should just leave their marriage/relationship, and it turns out that this is extremely difficult.  One reason is that the battered woman fears for her life.   Leaving the situation doesn't guarantee safety.  Her abuser is cunning and manipulative, and has, repeatedly, told her how he would kill her if she left or told others of the abuse.

Orders for protection are nice, in theory, but in practice are toothless.  

Lessened financial means often play a role in one's capacity to leave, as well as social support networks that are diminished or shared with the abuser.

Incredible amounts of shame also play a role.

And finally, I think there's a very confusing element of love, or committment, to one's abuser.  Imagine, if you will, that your mother or father abused you, and that you were developmentally young enough not to be independent, and not to know that they shouldn't do it.  You would likely be hugely conflicted emotionally, to say the least.   Now, a battered woman is not a child, but her emotional state is not clear cut, either--the abuser is rarely some stranger that is easy to walk away from.    Does that difficultly lead to a justified death?  In short, the argument is that the conditions are evident for self-defense to be used generally, even when physical egress is possible.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Religion? Why Not Religion?

It strikes me that one of the essential parts of being human is that we want that which we cannot or do not have.

There are times in life when we deem this proper, and appropriate.  Let's say, times like when we're parents and we see our kids, or any kids, and we think (or direct) that they shouldn't be able to have everything they want (even if we get them everything we think they should have), not if they're going to grow up and be healthy.

And there are times, mostly when it comes to our own desires, where we think we deserve that which we desire.  Like a promotion, a raise, or the right to cut off a line that is unfairly long. Or recognition, or respect.  

The things we all agree we should all have get enshrined as rights.

And enter religion.  For most of us in the western world, we're halfway secular, or we have unfavorable views of religion--as in, we would never say, at a party, what cool missionary retreat we had planned (unless of course, you would say this, and if you would, this post isn't really for you--sorry!).

I think we have those unfavorable views only because our religion, whichever one we were endowed with (born into), is one that we didn't have to work too hard to have access to, but instead, one that, perhaps, saturated the air around us as we developed.

I know I had at least 10 churches in my town of about 3000 not three hours from NYC.

And yet I didn't attend any of them.  I'm mostly too lazy to seriously consider God.  I generally feel that if there's a God, we don't need to have knowledge of it to live a good life.  In other words, we can figure out what a good life is for ourselves, and what our limitations are, on our own.  Of course, figuring out the limitations is half the battle, and definitely constricts.  That said, perhaps when we realize our own realizations fully, we've realized our own potential, too, in the sense that we have a deeper understanding of our size relative to that enigma of the world around us.

Anyway, religion is a communal structure for understanding that which we cannot have, and, in part, attaining it--or talking about attaining it.  That's my main point.  Sorry for the ramble.  In religion we have a culture that has expanded upon, in a kind of legal form of interpretation, with all the entailed jargon and specialized vocabulary you might expect, the ungraspable point of our existence: that it will end--and it promises us something more.   Even if that something more doesn't exist, religion shadows how we conceptualize and talk about that thing.  And maybe more importantly, it provides guidance for our rights in our current lives; that is, the story it tells about that which is beyond our lives impacts how we should be.  What we should have.  How we should live (associate with, feel about ourselves, about others, and about issues).  It tells us how to sublimate the want to have what we don't have.

It promises enlightenment in restriction.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Just had a conversation with my grandma. She lives in florida, is 75 years old, and is a wise ass. I love her very much, as if love could happen on different levels of intensity.  Of course, I wish that she could be closer at times, but I know, now, that I'm blessed with a good family (at least on that side).  I'll always remember when first introducing my wife to my mom, step-father, mother's parents and my uncle (mom's brother), cringing at the thought of them all pecking at her apart, and maybe on a deeper level, of her discovering how truly dysfunctional I was, in my genes so to speak.  But it turned out that my now wife thought they were all quite normal and supportive and that my family loved her back.  Funny how that works.  And how I could think they were all monsters.  Anyway, I'm lucky to have a supportive family (on one side), even if they don't know how to support everything about me (who would?), and I feel good about that, for what it is worth.  I don't need to complain about them.  They do what they can, and that, in the long run, turns out to be quite a bit.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Realization of the Moment - This is Basic,

Okay, okay, so I download music, and I don't have the digital converter, and my stereo is far from my computer, and ya know, I generally just burn cds out to listen to them.  Except.  Except that I can also burn like, ya know, 100 cds onto one dvd, and then play that, for a long, long time.  Kind of makes my five disc cd player into something that will play my entire collection of music.  I know this is basic.  I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Everything is Evil if you want it to be.

There are gigantic conglomerates of evil, arsenic-laced people at the bus stop, at the corner store.  In your water, there's traces of evil, zinc, copper, pollutants, diluted phthalates, and in your cow, well, thousands of pieces of cow.  There's nothing that isn't unpure.  There's nothing that's pure, that's acceptable, if you don't want it be there.

Which is, in short, why tea party republicans have such energy--they reject the need to work too hard to get to the pure stuff.  They reject the complexity that exists for something simpler, something less polluted.

I'm not sure if it is a religious claim.  The left of course, has levels of purity/filtration that mark hierarchy.  Locally grown foods, et al.

There are probably issues we can come together on in theory.  In practice, whenever one person gets into the lead a little bit, he or she is willing to throw away her share of common advancement for personal gain.

Why are we all so fucking selfish like this?  Everybody wants a little kingdom.  Once they get that, they want a medium level kingdom. And then, well, onward.  If their justification is that everyone else is already that selfish, and that it is a dog-eat-dog world out there, well, they're on to something descriptively, but I'm not so sure it is a prescriptive fix for more than the short term.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Competition of Romantic Fighting-

Here's a quick post to say this:

Romantic entanglements can be difficult, partially because we're just so open with our romantic partners, partially because we think they have the capacity to understand the messy subjective mess that is our inner being.  And we're not necessarily wrong, but when we receive information from them that they haven't understood us, it can be frustrating.  And when we receive information from them that they are very far from understanding us, as in, they came to different conclusions about our motives than we came to about our own motives, especially if cast in a negative light, we can get downright prickly.

And when fights do happen, there's an odd engagement that I think is patterned and consumes all romantic partners who have fought: they compete with one another to say the most biting hurtful possible statements.  I don't say that lightly.  I think there are a few rare people who don't get frustrated and lash out at negative statements by amplifying the negativity and spinning it back to the other person (or making quick excuses).  It is hard to think about things.  It is hard to show that you're thinking about things; it shows that you're still too open, too accepting.  Best to spin off a zinger of pain at the other person, and best for him or her to do the same, until you're screaming at each other, claws out, gashes of blood above the eye brow and all.

How and whether you can patch up those scars will determine the future, right?  I.e. can you open up about the same subjects you both disagreed about earlier?

I.e. Can you, personally, receive negative information about yourself in a way that is constructive?

Can you talk about points of conflict with a modicum of restraint?

I think both skills are needed for some success.  And, so, well, another way of saying this is that we can't expect our romantic partners to be our ego partners, not in totality at least--we should instead expect them precisely to tell us the kinds of things that can make us better, that we can learn from and grow with.  It's a delicate balance, no doubt.  My fingers nails are still bloody, I know.

Phone Numbers.

Yesterday I had the distinct amusement of trying to dial/remember a phone number at work, only to end up dialing my old childhood best friend's number.  I used to dial this number with ice cream covered hands, dirty palms, when upset, when happy, and just about every day for a few years, especially to get together and go have fun, to be kids.  Let this serve as a nostalgic post for the loss of phone numbers remembered by grubby eager fingers, phone numbers we knew by heart.  These days I don't even know people's area codes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Biggest Bias. Me.

Our biggest bias is that we matter--I mean individually.  That our individual lives matter. 

I know, I know, this seems counter-intuitive.  One second. 

The question of how much we "matter" is of course one that begs for parameters.  Set them too wide and nothing matters--a nuclear explosion is the equivalent of a dust mite, and the sun exploding is a mild itch--set them too narrow and everything matters.  Your neighbor listens to music just to piss you off, happens to park an inch into your spot just because he's got a gripe against you, and happens to itch himself with his middle finger just because, well, you know. 

Obviously, maybe, how wide we set our personal parameters, our filter, changes daily. We need reflection--wide parameters--at times.  We crave the hike, the view from the top of the mountain.  It allows us to feel like we can breath.  But, if we're set with wide parameters and must interact with someone set quite narrow, they'll be quite pissed off and we'll be oblivious to it--which is to say, how wide we all set our parameters as we walk around (or how wide they are set for us by our genes) matters a great deal to how we'll see the world, and our place in it.

As such, whether we deem ourselves important,  and how that analysis relates to our own self-esteem and feeling of fulfillment of life--and in turn how much we try to accomplish things, if at all--is highly dependent on how wide our aperture happens to be, i.e. if we're set really wide and don't matter at all, then perhaps we're reckless idiots, but if set too narrow, perhaps we never leave the house because we can't stand the stimulation, or the insults.

Whenever we argue for something, we utilize these parameters, perhaps without knowing it, and we give reasons that may make sense only to those people with similar frames--or, if they make sense to listeners, it is because the listeners have translated a reason to their particular focus.

When we don't like something, something specific, we often back up and say it doesn't matter anyway, from a more general (wider) perspective.  That's fine, and relevant, but not on-point.  After all, if we're countering someone's argument at one level, we should stay on that level and give reasons for our side, right?

Well, when we argue for ourselves, we always adjust the parameters to our favor (or, if you like, on average we do this--there are outliers who don't)--we step back or forward to make ourselves more important than we really are in a situation.  It is a natural human instinct to adjust the frame this way, perhaps the most basic bias available, and one that we have to work hard at to understand.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Needless Rebellion -

A lot of people (and former people (and former selves of previous version of me)) feel the need to rebel.  But, I'm not convinced that it is logical, in the sense that it doesn't lead to anything productive, no greater good, sans some energy expended (which yes, can be productive in a narrow sense, but hear me out for a minute).

No, I'm of the mind, perhaps out of necessity these days, that turning oneself into a restricted half-disciplinarian is a better mode, because it teaches you, me, whomever, to sublimate a bit of the feeling, the want, the urge,to rebel, or to do whatever it is that makes you or I feel rebellious.  Not all rebellion is bad, of course, but I'm not talking about rebellion in the general sense of letting out energy, or doing some really energetic activity.  No, mostly, I'm thinking of self-destruction-type events, or abusive events, or mostly events that put the individual doing them at a much higher standpoint regarding safety and sanity and general enjoyment than those around him or her.  And usually they're blunt and pointless activities, reckless.  (Caveat: I'm not sure where I stand on those people who are honestly misguided as to the impact of their actions).  Anyway, you "know" these actions when you witness them, and perhaps it is my own desire to act recklessly that makes me insanely angry at such people, I'm not sure, but the anger is there--not that it is better.

Just that, this brings me to a larger point: we don't follow logic as a guide to our actions, at least not most of the time, even when following logic will increase subjective (and emotional) satisfaction. If something doesn't feel right, it confuses us: we strive for something definite, defined.

An even larger point: we have a sense of rightness and wrongness that heaps a conclusion onto events in front of us pretty quickly.  Everyone has slightly different thresholds for what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable, and the majority essentially wins this fight, and adapts.  Which makes sense, given that our co-dependence matters to our happiness (and survival); the fact that it can trump logic in a consistent way, though, is astounding to me, simply because we might "know" the difference between right and wrong externally (as in, what is externally agreed upon), and simultaneously chose (albeit in a split second) to participate in something we don't think is acceptable even when we know the chances are high that it will restrict our consequent freedom in some way.  I can't exactly make sense of it any more than I can say it exists.  Because it isn't about sense making.  It is more about feeling.  And while I won't denigrate compassion or intuition, I do think we'd be a lot better off if we could follow some simple rules; rules which we consistently, and pointlessly, break.  We would be better off = we individually would obtain our goals faster and with less costs, and we collectively would average up those important things.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting Older.

The sad story of this monday is from the tunnels of subways, and particularly, from their stairs.  I'm an impatient type when I'm coming and going, and mostly, I get impatient about people a)  squeezing out the last few minutes of a conversation or text on their cell phone's while they descend the stairs and b) not walking straight forward on the sidewalk/not being conscious of those around them.

And today, the sad realization was of coming around the corner to go down the stairs and witnessing a bunch of older people coming up the stairs at me, literally holding onto the railing for what seemed to be their lives, as if they were in gale force wind or pushing back against incoming tides.  I mean, we're talking serious grimace-and-survive type faces here.  And I thought to myself, as I descended from the idiotic plane which is my mind, that shit, these people are really struggling to get up the stairs, all huffing and puffing and heaving and their veins are popping out in their necks, and their backs are sweaty and their feet are trembling and their socks are way too tight (like mine, mind you) and shit, I'm going to fucking be like that, and worse than that, it doesn't get better. There is no reprieve, and, as I bounded down the stairs behind what appeared to be a 10 year old, I saw that he was speedy, naturally speedy, because kids naturally want to run, and that I wouldn't have to wait behind someone's back, which is how I evaluate walking these days, whether I will have to wait, and the kid was the exact opposite of the aged warriors, and what was I?  On my way, that's what.  On my way.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Romanticizing Aesthetics

It is cool to copy a worn out, low-class grunge look.  It is less cool to actually live the life that is associated with the look.  I.e. what is actually cool is the ability to dip into a persona, all the while maintaining the ability to pull out of it. What's cool is to act, to play with identity, not to be restricted to one identity.  I wonder why this is.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Finding Meaning

Here are a few assumptions.

1) You are the kind of person who sees more of the forest than the trees.

2) At times you force yourself to see the trees, but this is only really something you've done for survival.

3)  You do not believe in God, but wish you had the faith to do so.

4) You relentlessly think about the fact that there is no large scale meaning

With those assumptions, is there a way to provide anything but a quietly restrained existence?

In other words, do you believe that there are natural ways to fill your time, that we naturally specialize in terms of finding fulfillment in certain activities?  If so, what's the fastest route?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time Keeps Constant, Not Me.

I listen to Gillian Welch tonight.  She slows things down.  I try not to let my thoughts get too far ahead of me.  They seem to glisten lately, with a lubricant that keeps them smooth, liquid, unable to hold even if I wanted.  And when I grab hold of that ineffable drop, it is a jump into a mountain creek-filled pond in April; brisk, submerged, flailing, unable to breathe; and there are visions--no full reenactments--in condensed time, of college graduation, 10th birthday party, moving across the country, the face of a friend, the dew on my cro-moly miyata winter road bike at 3am under full moon of early pitched spring and howling drunkeness; and there is a smile, and it is lost, and I'm scared about that, the loss, and the thought moves on from me, a shudder in the door frame, and the cro-moly moon never fails to spook me, as I lay in doctors offices, at government jobs, and fill the time until the next weekend. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Polish Films in Manhattan/Polski Kino na Manhattanie

If you're interested in recent Polish films and live in NYC, check out what's happening in the coming week or so here.

Po Polsku (Ja bede probowac):

Jesli chcesz ogladac film Polsce ostatnich, isc do kino tutaj.

It is Highly Possible . . . That I'm Wrong.

Very, very wrong.  About almost everything.  Most importantly, about the things I've thought I was so damn right about.  All is not lost, though at times I feel vaguely like I'm searching for scraps of meaning in the mess of my personal history, and if I find them, I could be wrong about them, too. Very wrong.

And that's scary.  Because I like to have full-fledged meaning, even if murky and ambiguous.  It is dramatic and exiting and uplifting.  And the past is rife with examples and complexity, and all the stuff that could, basically, almost justify any story I want to tell.  So, if I work from a point of justification, I can get anywhere I want to go, basically, which is the land of self-delusion--and although it is a long trip back, well, there are rest stops with those neat little slot machines (smile), and I think I'm trying to make it back, ultimately. 

Here's one thing I wish. I wish that I spent time producing something, some good, even if entertainment (like art) and not utility, just to have something to show for the past, you know, instead of all this scar tissue.  Because even reading the patterns off the scars is difficult and, when one emerges, well, it throws me off for a day or two anyway and creates a new crevice. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Returns on Humor

Generally, humor serves me fairly well.  I think it eases social situations, can be a stress-reducer in romantic situations, and even finds a place in my internal narrative about the world.  There's no way to take everything seriously, all the time, right?


I was at dinner the other night in a needlessly expensive restaurant--needless, because I wasn't there on my own volition, but for a friend who is leaving town, and so, would have otherwise eaten at home (no, not needless in the sense that it served the purpose, but needless in that I wouldn't have picked it for the same purpose), and, of course I sat right down next to an acquantence of mine, though not one that I've had any real personal correspondence with.

About half way through dinner, I realized that he never laughed.  Not once.  There are a few possibilities.

1) He feels like shit.  This is definitely possible, but this is a repeat performance.

2) Nothing was funny.  Okay, fair.  Except there has got to be a few funny moments in an entire dinner, right?  Even if we conceive of "funny" as very different."

3) He's holding back and alway does hold back.  I don't know why he would, but perhaps that's just who he is.  If that's who he is, I still feel a tremendous pressure to make him laugh, just in response to something, anything, just to break the tension.

4) He's secure in himself and need not laugh if he doesn't think things are funny, and so, he didn't laugh, becuase there was nothing funny [to him].

5) He only laughs in private.  Because he doesn't like the way he laughs.

6) I laugh for the wrong reasons, and he's uncomfortable with me.

7) I laugh for the sake of it, out of insecurity.  He laughts authentically.

8) I'm an idiot, laughing all night.  He's sane and rational, and more synchronized with that which is truly funny--whatever it is--and my laughter obfuscates the truly funny from the merely funny, which isn't funny. i.e. he can't laugh because I do laugh.

9) He feels no need to make other people comfortable, even when they're uncomfortable (and I most definitely do).

10) Nothing is funny, or nothing was funny, at the restaurant in the east village.

11) He was pissed off at the prices, but socially obligated to go, and couldn't say no, and wasn't willing to put up a facade about his feelings, and also wasn't willing to abstain from going.

12) He just had a fight with his girlfriend. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Female Orgasm Revisted

Is female orgasm a byproduct of evolution, or necessary for the survival of the species?

Well, according to this article, there is no solid explanation for the rarity that is the female orgasm, and scholars disagree about whether it contributes to human reproductive success/fitness (i.e. helps to bond partners and encourage sex), or whether it exists but has no evolutionary significance--i.e. whether it is vestigial (like male nipples).

Second Relationships Are Better Than First*

Relationships are hard work. That's a shitty fact, I know.

Consider all of the points couples must form some sort of method to deal with:

1) The brute physical labor involved in everyday chores.  Certain things must get done.  Laundry, for instance.  The frequency with which they get done is one aspect, but nobody will argue that they need not occur, ever.  So, they have to happen.   How to split the labor?  This is not an easy question/answer.  Much of the traditional style that predominated American society for post WWII years has changed.  Of course, there are epistemological conceptual claims involved.  Still, at a basic level, there's stuff to be done, life to face.  Couples must decide how to divide that work, or how to accomplish together, whatever semantic agreement/disagreement you like.

2) Providing emotional sustenance to partner/Navigating behavioral expectation:  You have to learn your partner.  How she or he processes the world, how long it takes for him/her to calm down/get excited, etc.  You also have to learn yourself, and the most effective ways your style coincides with the better mood of your partner.  They have to do this at the time you do it--i.e. you're a moving target trying to shoot at a target that is moving.

These two are enough to get to my main point, which is this: You, yes you; you probably already have a host of ingrained methods for dealing with these things, a  lot of which you may not know about yet, depending on your experience.  The best way to understand what your own preferences and foibles are is to go through some trial and error.  The best way to do that is sheer experience, reflection, and correction. 

So maybe it is a jump to say this, but I will: Second relationships have the potential to be better.


Here's the caveat: if you start to see behavior that pisses you off, and neglect other information, i.e. behavior or expectation or words or deeds that support you (from your partner), and you learn to see the negative behavior, or to amplify it, or your partner does that, then you or your partner can take those habits from relationship to relationship without resolving anything, i.e. without learning and modifying behavior to the extent possible.

Second caveat: Some people fit better together than others.  How they fit better, though, often isn't revealed until deep into the relationship, and expectations based on earlier dynamics of the relationship may have been, to some degree solidified.  Flexibility is important in this regard. 

Having said that, we must get more benefits from relationships than otherwise, and or perceive that we do, or believe, irrationally, that we will, despite experience to the contrary, or, heavily weigh the initial attraction that we feel for other people, or we wouldn't keep getting into them.

Polish Countryside

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Fallacy of the Orgasm-Inducing Penis--Why do we let it carry on?

I have one question.

For the sake of the question, assume that, in roughly fifty percent of male heterosexual encounters, the female partner does not climax. 

Also assume that it is largely because the male partner was engrossed in his own pleasure, and primarily that he felt he could induce female orgasm with (mostly) his own sexual appendage alone.

Why continue to allow this?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reacting Emotionally-

I've had a number of conversations with people lately regarding Buddhism, and the desire to "lack" desire, that is, to control one's world--one's mental reaction to the world/events around them--through subjective will alone.

My most recent conversation occurred yesterday, and the person with whom I spoke said she wished to break free from the "constructed world." 

Now, before I continue, I'll just say that I was highly enamored of buddhism as one point in my life, so I don't treat these conversations lightly, nor do I think anybody who is trying to better themselves should be made fun of, necessarily, unless making fun of them will help them get to a better place faster.

 Having said that, I think there's a serious urge by a lot of people in their 20s and 30s to break free from the heavy, stressful corporate factory that produces intelligence through regurgitated examples, patterned behavior and speedy responses.  There's an art--and a value--in appreciating silence, in letting the world churn inside one's brain for a moment before strapping on blinders and deciding how something should be cut up for the best consumption.  And there's an art in repeating something that's very difficult, over time, with determination.  It isn't fun intelligence; it isn't sexy.

But having said that, I do think--now, in my life, after many years--that consumption of various sorts guides us in the most fundamental way.  We decide who we like partially based on how we like their consumption patterns, how we consume (food, people, air) cuts across all major moral issues, and it provides us with a release (alcohol/drugs/sex) of pleasure or anxiety (if restricted) and the feeling that we are right, that we are on the right path, or that everything will work out (house, suit). We show people what we have through consumption (weddings, automobiles college degrees), what we believe about ourselves (clothes, necklaces, coats, bags), and what tastes we think are the best (music, wine, food).

There's definitely something attractive, in our overly saturated world of choices, in the prospect of limiting choice and denying oneself something.  To live a simple life. Of course, that means that we can have higher status because we don't have to navigate all of the choices. Other choices really pollute our purity and make us doubt ourselves, unless, of course, someone external restricts them.  Then we hate that person and demonize him or her.

I get this:

1) We're not meant to sit behind desks all day long.  I mean physically.  And mentally too.  It just doesn't beget too much productivity.  So some of the way we've structured our current world is inefficient for peak productivity from everyone.   

2) Another thing that doesn't seem to be working: No singular emotional connection to the world and other people. We, as a group of people, feel slightly alienated, and really, really, insecure about the fact that we could really be alienated.  I don't like thinking that I'm alienated any more than the next guy.  This can lead to a kind of manic fervor to produce outward signals that we're not alienated, i.e. we're involved.  In something.  In what?  I don't know.  Something.  Okay, but my career is boring and insipid you say?  Well, I volunteer for X. Or I really enjoy  Y.  Seems like the idea of traveling is to find one's connection to other people and the world in a big and expansive way.

Things to keep in mind as a response:

1) We adapt to anything and everything.  So, that "foreign" city has unhappy people who are isolated too.  If you move there, it will, eventually, no longer be foreign. 

2) The world exists, and there's hierarchy and "constructions" of meaning everywhere.  We won't always like them.  We're not simply free to chose which meaning we like or don't like.  We have real emotional and physical needs that impact our condition. 

3) A lot of our personality is decided for us already, and our reactions to the world are specific, yes, but the patterns they form over time are predictable.  We have to know ourselves more, and how we react, not separate ourselves from all reaction, although perhaps that separation is useful at first.

4) There are limits on how much we can change our emotional responses to situations/people.  Because group success was so important for our ancestors, we've got a hard nosed response to a lot of situations and people even if they don't warrant it.   You get the feeling from some people, right?  I mean, the first time you meet, if you make a good impression, something clicks, and forevermore there's trust.  Other people can hold their suspicions forever too.  That happens because part of our brains are always scanning to come to very quick conclusions that we can act on, and another part of our brains are rationalizing our behaviors.  We don't really want to get rid of this quick scanning part.  We might be paralyzed if we did.  What we really want to do, I think, is figure out our personal quirks, and be able to separate the emotions we own from the ones other people are sending us.  That's not easy, because people are sending us a lot of different emotions all the time, what with all their consumption, and we want to consume and show them what we have right back.

I don't think there's a way out of that circle, ultimately, and I do think that travel is just another point of commonality.  It isolates you out into a relatively unique individual and says to others that have traveled that you are available for relations of some sort.  That you share a common core.  Too many common cores, too big a marketplace, and we can get overwhelmed, sure.  But we don't want to perform a lobotomy, we just want to be very sure of our own choices. 

Sugar Update

Not eating sweets isn't easy!  I've found that my cravings hit hardest at night and right after lunch.  In fact, I'm usually still chomping down on a salad or sandwich or soup when I start thinking about the cookie or chocolate I'll eat afterward.  It takes all of my will power not to acquire such an item and just run away!  And then there are the purist tendencies in me, to purchase and consume dark chocolate for health!  Damnit, health matters.  There are all sorts of benefits, after all.

I'm almost always more productive.  I'm almost always sharper.  Etc.

So it has been three days without any sweets at all.  The only thing I'll allow myself is single spoon of sugar in my coffee or tea.  The point is to ease back my body's expectation of the sweet stuff, and be more healthy, and lose weight, and all that happy horse shit, but to also not feel like I'm in a coma on a daily basis.  I think a lot of that is attributable to sugar. The story is that our bodies want to keep our blood sugar content consistent, so when we consume sugar, the body produces insulin, which, from my totally fragmentary understanding, forces excess sugar into the liver and muscle and basically stores it as fat. 

Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and anything with a lot of white flour,  are the worst separate from  sweets themselves.  Why?  Because our bodies break down the sugars in the those simple carbs really fast, and then store the extra sugar, just like we're eating sugar itself.  That's why  complex carbs are better.  It takes the body long to break them down, and hence, we have more sustained energy, and consequently feel better, and become less fat.

Anyway, I could lose about 15 pounds, I'm not going to lie, not only for aesthetics, as much as my bloated ego would like, but also because my bloated waistline is bad for my lower back, which gets pulled down and hurts. 

There's also something pure or rewarding about restrictions.  I'm not sure exactly how this works yet.  And that's a different blog post.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Another september is upon us folks, and the air here (in NYC) has just broken, the humidity receded south for a spell, allowing my spirits to scamper out from under the bed toward the crack of the closet in a mad dash, tongues flailing, spit misting, hair frothed.  Hopefully the night chill won't grab them up too quick, what with her slinder fingers from the space between the floor boards.

I can hear laughter stream in from the dining room, the kind of cackle that is either fully manufactured or fully insane, and I don't want to stop to think about which is preferable, to be synthetic or crazy, but there are blobs of dust in my way and my feet stopped working, and there's a schedule to keep anyway, and a cookie to bake and a turkey at the gates, cawing toward me with a melodic purr, and I swear that I just put the keys down a table here, but all I can see is a bit of green-tinged dust.  A jack-o-lantern, and fragrant dreams, and jack frost in my ears, and there I was, in the mirror, staring at the madness of a field changing under arid desert conditions, of me on horseback, of a man named Alexis, a man with a oddly shaped face like the front of a car.

And advertisements blaze onward all around, and warm my back like the bite of whiskey I used to make it a practice to dip my frontal lobe in before going out for some tennis. It gave me grip on the court, though tonight I will go underground and bob and weave and shake and bake, and eventually out I'll come, all crispy and free. 

Note: Adjust baking time for your oven. Over temperatures vary.  You may get crispy pieces in some parts and other parts that are undercooked if you rush it.