Monday, January 30, 2012

Can't Know Everything

There are limits on what each one of us individually can possibly know about the world, regardless of applicability.

Although it seems nice to want to learn "everything" it doesn't actually make sense to do that.  We need shortcuts to the conclusion that a body of knowledge produces, and that's why we rely on experts, or refrain from making decisions.

Still, there's a push with some people, I think, to try to understand every field, and generally, if you think you can do this, you're over-estimating your capacity and severely under-estimating the complexity of the stuff that you hope to master.

I have to tell myself this more often than not, especially lately.  I can't do everything.  I've got to choose what it is that I want, and spend time going after it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Ideal of Capitalism

Is it this:  That our most selfish is actually our most altruistic?  I.e. that by specialization and focus on our own personal goals, we naturally benefit others the most?  Is that too simple?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Intelligence and Extroversion

There are lots of personality attributes that will get in the way of intelligence (or making money from one's intelligence).  This seems odd.  Allow me a few examples.

Extroversion/Introversion.  The capacity to be overt and interactive may help show off one's abilities and get access to applicable skills and opportunities.  Being too inhibited can stifle opportunity making events.

Laziness. Plenty of very smart people are lazy. They seek minimal work for sustenance.  Perhaps this makes them smart, I'm not sure.

Openness to new experience:  This cuts both ways.  If you tell yourself you're only good at a set of items, but you hold the potential to be better at a different set, only to exclude the latter set because of perceived difficulty, well, you're setting yourself up to be lazy and unchallenged, and you're also telling yourself something that isn't true, but is convenient.

Capacity to verbalize thoughts and convey them.  Not everyone is good at this.  This is, perhaps, a skill that is developed through time, and one that isn't intuitive.  I'm not sure whether, given an idea, it is best to talk about it from your own perspective, or try to alter how you describe it to fit your perception of the person with whom you speak.  Either way, effective communication is hard going.

Depression.  This seems obvious.

Cultural stuff and overconfidence (insecurity):  Americans like to think they're the fucking best at everything, a priori, with no effort.  This is, at best, a form of dangerous adolescence.  At worst, it will sink the country.  I'm not saying it isn't hard to say "I don't know," but I'm saying that Americans have a really hard time saying it.  Because they think they know.

Getting Hammered Isn't Relaxing.

It in fact stressed out almost all functions in your body.  It seems relaxing because it disengages the rational parts of our brains, and makes us stop thinking as intensely, or as manically, as before.  And it slows us down physically, too.  All at a cost, though.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pain Can Calm.

Little bits of pain can provide relief and peace in a way that is highly addictive.   There are explanations.  Of course, if you don't expect pain and have it inflicted on you, it will not prove calming.  But if self-inflicted, and controlled, once gotten used to, it can provide some comfort, if you will.  Hence cutting, self-mutilation, etc.  Once you gain a 'tolerance' you can go too far.

Exhausted -

Apologies for the lack of posts recently.  Suffice it to say that I'm probably trying to do too much.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stopping Time.

A comment pointed out that the idea of stopping time, and then thinking about stuff, that is, looking around stopped time and conceiving of separate ideas or thoughts or observations, is inherently illogical, because, if time stopped, or if I could freeze it, I would indeed also be frozen, or merged in, what have you.  But if I could stop time and simultaneously think about the stopped time, well then, there'd be some time going forward, and I'd violate my own preposition for thought experiment.

And yet.

I still want to assert something about expectations.  Within any given moment, there are literally billions of people thinking about what they're going to do next.  They are also telling themselves stories, histories, really, about what they'll base their "what to do next" decisions on.  What I'm fascinated with is the idea that we could cut out their justifications, their histories, and the world would look pretty freakin' weird.  All these structures of thought, culture, currency, language, etc., exist only within human interaction, and propel themselves from human interaction in the past.  Without memory and justification, we don't have much to ride on for our behaviors into the future.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Closure is Bullshit (Mapping experience with verbiage)

I don't think there's a certifiable pattern to human coping, not in the traditional sense, anyway.  Coping, for instance, comes to mind, and the idea that emotional wounds, like physical, heal with time, until they're neat little scabs to be picked.

Since our brains are oh so excited about grasping new concepts by analogizing, I think it is intuitive to feel that our mental processes are similar to the physical, and to think that with proper care and time, mental wounds heal.  But I'm more of the mind that other things happen.

1) We have new experiences that replace older experiences.

2) We value the current time frame over the past time frame

3) We tell ourselves ever evolving stories based on ever evolving memories about what it was that caused pain, and indeed, we

4) redefine the pain as something else, either a bedrock of personality or a slip knot of death.

Maybe those things are coping.  I always thought of it as "coming to peace" with an experience, whatever it is.

But I don't think we have closure.  I do think we settle on narratives that tend to stick.

And to come up with narratives, we have to put words onto our experiences, which isn't always completely natural, however urgent or relieved we might feel to have them splayed out in front of us.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Simplicity vs. Sophistication

I'm not sure how I ever got by thinking that the world was a relatively simply place.  It isn't.  Not even the ergonomics of the chair I'm sitting in are simple.  There's fascinating, and brain numbing, data, almost everywhere.

One minor thought, though, that has intrigued me lately, is this.  At any given moment, all of the stuff we take as part of lived reality, like the way our buildings look, the way our faces look to one another, the historical contingencies that created all sorts of language, and our expectations about all of this, can be, if you will, frozen.  At any given moment, none of them exist in that they only exist, and know how to exist, through time.

So while it is not revelatory to say that absent time, our reality looks odd, it is strange to play the mental game that freezes time and asks how things look absent all of our expectations about what is on the cusp of happening.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Well, I was assaulted.

Almost five years of living in NYC, and I haven't been assaulted by anyone.  I'm large (enough), male, and well, haven't worried too much about it, even very late at night in desolate not so nice neighborhoods.

And tonight, in Williamsburg, I sat, studying, as it was, Polish, and a lanky mid-20s guy, with long very sleek brown hair meandered over and sat down next to me, close.  He looked up at me with a look I'm quite familiar: stoned cold drunk.

Anyway, I asked him how much he had to drink, and he didn't say anything.  In fact, he got up and left for a few moments.  And then he must have raged over into actual physical confrontation mode, because he threw himself at me for everything he was worth, enough momentum to break the chair I was in.  I jumped, up, almost not aware of what was happening--removed, even--and sort of stuck my hand into his face to hold him back.  Some other guy grabbed him.  I didn't think he would persist in the way that he did, but, well, I was wrong.  He persisted.  Until this other guy threw the first guy on the ground, which was nice.  Anyway, I'm fine.  It was strange, at best.

To top it all off, this kid got up off the ground and told the now swelling group of people staring at him that "we just didn't understand," because he was a genius.  That's what he said.  A genius.

Anyway, this corresponds directly with an increased fare for my Polish lessons, which means I'll take them up on my own, and not go back there ever, perhaps.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Never Underestimate Misunderstanding.

I'm really awed to believe that so many people can speak with so many undeclared assumptions to their professions of knowledge.

Having an "inter-subjective" understanding of where we stand, mentally, that is, how we perceive and respond to information from other humans, or collectively, responses when watching a movie (or viewing a different art form), is really difficult.  Even to get to a place where true disagreement is possible.  A lot of arguing isn't disagreement at all; it is a power play for the most forceful interpretations (which often puts the speaker in the best light).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Purity vs. Repetition?

Is good art the product of purity?  Or something less appealing? Something more difficult?

Stated differently: Is art really just the capacity to work extremely hard in a somewhat consistent manner?    I.e. are the works of art we love fundamentally products of repetition--and editing--or are the first unedited versions (the purer ones) the products that we love?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


For a few days, and after endless pointless reflection and half-assed introspection, I've come to a few transitory conclusions.

First, I need to protect my own mental sanity.  I can't go around letting everyone "in" to my personal (i.e. mental) space.  I know there are distinctions to be made here; suffice it to say that I still have to protect my own sanity, even if there are costs to it

Second, more importantly, I think that genuine interest and curiosity is way more compelling than fear and lust and status.  Why not be motivated by our own interests and not feel guilty about it?  Somewhere deep down we've got a voice that says we've got to feel bad if we have pleasure.  I muzzled that little pipsqueak, nailed him down to the floor, and whatnot.

Third, we need not and cannot plan out our lives all the time we're living them.

Fourth, ambition has drastic personal, almost abusive, costs. But never underestimate how ambitious people are regarding being non-ambitious (this always gets me excited).

Fifth, there's a train coming for me at 8:47, and if I'm going to make it, I simply must iron my pants and shirt, assemble them on the body that takes me along everywhere.  There's simply no excuse for going to work naked, folks.

I want to be a lazy fucking bastard.

And I want to be as glorious and as high-status all of my instincts tell me I already AM.

And fuck everyone who doesn't agree or might speak their minds directly about the incongruity involved in my above sentiment.

Who's exempted from this?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nothing a bit of Chopin can't cure

 Chopin and black tea on a cold day.  The cure for whatever ails you.