Existence

“One sticks one’s finger into the soil to tell by the smell in what land one is: I stick my finger in existence — it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls? How did I obtain an interest in this big enterprise they call reality? Why should I have an interest in it? Is it not a voluntary concern? And if I am to be compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I should like to make a remark to him. Is there no director? Whither shall I turn with my complaint? ”
-Søren Kierkegaard, Repetition (1843), Voice: Young Man

Sagacity

Contemplation. What good is aimless thought? Does it sharpen? Does it build? What purpose or function does it serve? How do I know what I think if I can’t see what I say? Why wait for the day of judgment to see what I really think about matters? Most people keep it in. They are unknown to themselves. What do people think about in their free time? I think about too much. Far too much. Everything and anything. Mostly the abstract. I often find myself wrestling to reconcile certain paradoxes, or trying to merge dissimilar ideas into an attractive whole.

I am usually not present. I try, I try desperately to be present. I recognize that being present is happiness. Being present with the moment is being eternal. Eternity isn’t bound by feeble notions concerning infinite temporal duration. Eternity is beyond time, open to ultimate possibility, residing in some place of timelessness. Those who seek eternal life must look no farther than the present. The present is our eternal life.

The present. What is the present? This moment. Now. It is a phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that is all encompassing. Nothing escapes the now. In all of time and space, no matter how respective one point from another, there is an eternal inescapable now. We cannot escape its grip. Physically, we cannot escape the now. Nothing can. What about psychologically? Can we mentally escape the now? How would this be possible?

The now is defined by sensations- sense data and impressions- registered from the external environment. Can we escape these sensations? Can we recreate sensations and alter our consciousness so that we find ourselves attending to sensations that are not present? Surely. Any recall provides this mental escape. Memories allow us to revisit mental states. They recreate the sensations within us and allow us to inspect and judge their perceived nature according to what the present confirms.

When we imagine, or reflect, or think, I believe this is what we do.  Perhaps reason is as much of a vice as it is a gift? In that, it removes us from present demands and causes us to become preoccupied with demands that are distant and far removed from the now.

Perhaps this is why faith plays such an instrumental role in theology and religion? Living in the present requires a blind attendance to the now. It requires that we hold off judgement, criticism, analysis, and react to an intuition that embodies belief.

Belief forms the sum of man’s experience. It is the core of his being, a amalgam that wholly embodies actuality.

I was recently thinking about my life and what I want out of it. What is it that I want from life? Everything really. I wouldn’t mind money, fame, solitude, poverty, adventure- whatever. I could take it all, be it all, do it all.  I suppose I could be happy with anything really. I say that because it’s all too often that I find myself happy with nothing; the absurdity of life, the trivial nature of existence.  Life has no meaning as soon as one loses the illusion of being eternal. But how does one lose that illusion? Straying too far from the present, perhaps?

I spoke with my father and voiced my concern about continuing along with economics as a major. While the discipline fascinates me to no end, it doesn’t provide my curiosities enough stimulation. I would like to follow my passions on conviction alone. I don’t want desires transplanted from outside me as dictated from the world. I am my own master. My conclusions are my own.

So I was thinking of finishing up all my major requirements in Philosophy next semester and pursuing courses more liberally. I’d like to take some classes in English and writing, math and physics, possibly chemistry, history, anthropology, sociology and, why not, some more classes in economics. Sure I can take more philosophy classes, but as a philosopher, why stop with philosophy? Philosophy is concerned with truths, with facts and the paradigms where they reside. It is concerned with existence, meaning, and life. Any discipline of study will afford me the material to think more critically about life. Studying new disciplines will only add to my language, build my vocabulary, and allow me to think beyond my current capacity for thought.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Pursuing unfamiliar domains of thought and experience provides the unique opportunity for new acquaintances and carries me to a proximity in which I can more closely engage life in general.  Repeated exposure with any unknown soon renders a familiarity that becomes known to us. We learn the idiosyncrasies, coin meaning and expectations. New language expands my world, my conception of life, my understanding of existence.

Introspection. More introspection. What is introspection? A self-examination? Personal reflection? A mediation?  –spect comes from L. spectrum “appearance, vision, apparition.Intro- comes from L. intro “on the inside, within, to the inside.”

Introspection: 1670s, from L. introspectionem, from introspectus, pp. of introspicere “to look into, look at,” from intro- “inward” + specere “to look at” (see scope (1)).

The relative nature of our world fascinates me, particularly words. We treat them as these definite building blocks and act as if they maintain a univocity. The reality is that all language, all words that comprise language, has been past down and inherited by each successive generation throughout the ages.

We rely on a semantic content that is fixed, previously agreed upon and assigned. If it were not, communication would be near impossible. The fixed semantic content we attribute to words is not inherent, rather it is borne out of normative conventions that allow for a smooth exchange of understanding.

When I write it becomes much more evident of the relative nature of words. If I understand the content of a word in which someone else lacks there will be a gap in communication. Metaphors fill this gap. Metaphors. That’s another interesting phonomenon I’d like to study in more depth. Metaphors. Hot is red. Cold is blue. Why do these seem so intuitive? We describe certain people as being ‘radiant’. Of course they don’t shine or glow, but we associate nongermane concepts to things such as personality that illustrate the particular semantics of our expressive language. Is it true or false that a person is radiant? Or that someone is blue? Nietzsche captured the relative nature of language and the misguided assumptions of their truth and falsity in this passage with beautiful simplicity:

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, in On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

As per usual, I have been giving quite a bit of thought to relativity. The relativity of life, meaning, purpose, language and the like.  Freedom as well.

If we wish to go beyond, to expand our minds and our worlds, we need to reexamine not just what language we use, but how we use it. Just as we cannot apply the same tool for every task, we cannot apply the same language for every problem. As Abraham Maslow said, “To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”

We must actively question which language tools we are apply to certain matters and situations. The unknown and unfamiliar, or anything that leaves us feeling disoriented or ‘wrong’, should never deter us from exploring the limits of our current conceptions. Learning and growth is a result of continual revision and adoption.

So long as man feigns the familiar, he will be forever trapped. If it does not occur to us to pull rather than push, we will be endlessly imprisoned in unlocked rooms that open inward. Life is open for all; seek the way with astute self reliance and courageous humility.

Anyway… need to continue writing that novel.

Sagacity

Contemplation. What good is aimless thought? Does it sharpen? Does it build? What purpose or function does it serve? How do I know what I think if I can’t see what I say? Why wait for the day of judgment to see what I really think about matters? Most people keep it in. They are unknown to themselves. What do people think about in their free time? I think about too much. Far too much. Everything and anything. Mostly the abstract. I often find myself wrestling to reconcile certain paradoxes, or trying to merge dissimilar ideas into an attractive whole.

I am usually not present. I try, I try desperately to be present. I recognize that being present is happiness. Being present with the moment is being eternal. Eternity isn’t bound by feeble notions concerning infinite temporal duration. Eternity is beyond time, open to ultimate possibility, residing in some place of timelessness. Those who seek eternal life must look no farther than the present. The present is our eternal life.

The present. What is the present? This moment. Now. It is a phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that is all encompassing. Nothing escapes the now. In all of time and space, no matter how respective one point from another, there is an eternal inescapable now. We cannot escape its grip. Physically, we cannot escape the now. Nothing can. What about psychologically? Can we mentally escape the now? How would this be possible?

The now is defined by sensations- sense data and impressions- registered from the external environment. Can we escape these sensations? Can we recreate sensations and alter our consciousness so that we find ourselves attending to sensations that are not present? Surely. Any recall provides this mental escape. Memories allow us to revisit mental states. They recreate the sensations within us and allow us to inspect and judge their perceived nature according to what the present confirms.

When we imagine, or reflect, or think, I believe this is what we do.  Perhaps reason is as much of a vice as it is a gift? In that, it removes us from present demands and causes us to become preoccupied with demands that are distant and far removed from the now.

Perhaps this is why faith plays such an instrumental role in theology and religion? Living in the present requires a blind attendance to the now. It requires that we hold off judgement, criticism, analysis, and react to an intuition that embodies belief.

Belief forms the sum of man’s experience. It is the core of his being, a amalgam that wholly embodies actuality.

I was recently thinking about my life and what I want out of it. What is it that I want from life? Everything really. I wouldn’t mind money, fame, solitude, poverty, adventure- whatever. I could take it all, be it all, do it all.  I suppose I could be happy with anything really. I say that because it’s all too often that I find myself happy with nothing; the absurdity of life, the trivial nature of existence.  Life has no meaning as soon as one loses the illusion of being eternal. But how does one lose that illusion? Straying too far from the present, perhaps?

I spoke with my father and voiced my concern about continuing along with economics as a major. While the discipline fascinates me to no end, it doesn’t provide my curiosities enough stimulation. I would like to follow my passions on conviction alone. I don’t want desires transplanted from outside me as dictated from the world. I am my own master. My conclusions are my own.

So I was thinking of finishing up all my major requirements in Philosophy next semester and pursuing courses more liberally. I’d like to take some classes in English and writing, math and physics, possibly chemistry, history, anthropology, sociology and, why not, some more classes in economics. Sure I can take more philosophy classes, but as a philosopher, why stop with philosophy? Philosophy is concerned with truths, with facts and the paradigms where they reside. It is concerned with existence, meaning, and life. Any discipline of study will afford me the material to think more critically about life. Studying new disciplines will only add to my language, build my vocabulary, and allow me to think beyond my current capacity for thought.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Pursuing unfamiliar domains of thought and experience provides the unique opportunity for new acquaintances and carries me to a proximity in which I can more closely engage life in general.  Repeated exposure with any unknown soon renders a familiarity that becomes known to us. We learn the idiosyncrasies, coin meaning and expectations. New language expands my world, my conception of life, my understanding of existence.

Introspection. More introspection. What is introspection? A self-examination? Personal reflection? A mediation?  –spect comes from L. spectrum “appearance, vision, apparition.Intro- comes from L. intro “on the inside, within, to the inside.”

Introspection: 1670s, from L. introspectionem, from introspectus, pp. of introspicere “to look into, look at,” from intro- “inward” + specere “to look at” (see scope (1)).

The relative nature of our world fascinates me, particularly words. We treat them as these definite building blocks and act as if they maintain a univocity. The reality is that all language, all words that comprise language, has been past down and inherited by each successive generation throughout the ages.

We rely on a semantic content that is fixed, previously agreed upon and assigned. If it were not, communication would be near impossible. The fixed semantic content we attribute to words is not inherent, rather it is borne out of normative conventions that allow for a smooth exchange of understanding.

When I write it becomes much more evident of the relative nature of words. If I understand the content of a word in which someone else lacks there will be a gap in communication. Metaphors fill this gap. Metaphors. That’s another interesting phonomenon I’d like to study in more depth. Metaphors. Hot is red. Cold is blue. Why do these seem so intuitive? We describe certain people as being ‘radiant’. Of course they don’t shine or glow, but we associate nongermane concepts to things such as personality that illustrate the particular semantics of our expressive language. Is it true or false that a person is radiant? Or that someone is blue? Nietzsche captured the relative nature of language and the misguided assumptions of their truth and falsity in this passage with beautiful simplicity:

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, in On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

As per usual, I have been giving quite a bit of thought to relativity. The relativity of life, meaning, purpose, language and the like.  Freedom as well.

If we wish to go beyond, to expand our minds and our worlds, we need to reexamine not just what language we use, but how we use it. Just as we cannot apply the same tool for every task, we cannot apply the same language for every problem. As Abraham Maslow said, “To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”

We must actively question which language tools we are apply to certain matters and situations. The unknown and unfamiliar, or anything that leaves us feeling disoriented or ‘wrong’, should never deter us from exploring the limits of our current conceptions. Learning and growth is a result of continual revision and adoption.

So long as man feigns the familiar, he will be forever trapped. If it does not occur to us to pull rather than push, we will be endlessly imprisoned in unlocked rooms that open inward. Life is open for all; seek the way with astute self reliance and courageous humility.

Anyway… need to continue writing that novel.

Curiosus

Curiosity beckons all the day, like a persistent itch, wherein scratching provides only temporary relief; were I to nurse my curiosities all the day, they should find no further relief.

Itching provides no amelioration, no mollification that delivers the attention from its incessant rapping.

The etymology is itself curious:

curious: mid-14c., “eager to know” (often in a bad sense), from O.Fr. curios “solicitous, anxious, inquisitive; odd, strange” (Mod.Fr. curieux) and directly from L. curiosus”careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome,” akin to cura “care” (see cure). The objective sense of “exciting curiosity” is 1715 in English. In booksellers’ catalogues, the word means “erotic, pornographic.” Curiouser and curiouser is from “Alice in Wonderland” (1865).

Me.

I love solving problems. When I’m passionate about a task, I can concentrate endlessly until completion. I am a non-skeptical realist visionary idealist who strives for perfection in the closest, most functional sense. My passions and interests have followed me unceasingly throughout my life. There is nothing so enjoyable as reading a book. I rely on my imagination to keep my world alive. I enjoy puzzles of any kind. I enjoy synthesizing non-germane concepts into novel ideas. Paradoxes intrigue me to no end. I set and maintain high standards for myself. My long term memory is impeccable. I possess a deep compassion for my fellow man. There is nothing is so irritating and so satisfying as my persistent curiosity. I believe that laughter is the closest cure all we will find.

An acute sense of awareness keeps me forever absorbed in details comprising the whole. While I am no mathematical prodigy, I appreciate the simplistic beauty of mathematics and find myself endlessly entranced by its pure description of what is.

Contemplation is the defining characteristic of my existence. It is where my true being, if one exists, resides. I search endlessly for meaning in life. Intuition is my guiding star, the flame the gives rise to my awareness, the source that captures all of life’s particulars into a unifying experience.

I am highly emotional and sensitive. I maintain strong moral convictions. The limits of my language dictate the limits of my world. I have a passion for words and language. I often find myself out-of-sync with others.  Perception is everything. I constantly seek out new insights. I question prescribed rules and authority and challenge the status quo. I systematize and organize various collections.

I thrive on challenge. I learn new things rapidly. I am often overwhelmed by the multitude of interests I possess. I have a great deal of energy. I stand firmly against injustice. My creativity drives me to do more, be more. Imagination, inspiration, craft and artistry compel me to develop a more colorful existence for myself and others.  I love indulging in deep fervent conversation. I have many unusual ideas and perceptions. I am complex.

Mind Dump

“The distance between you and your goal is often the length of a single idea.”   -Vic Conant

Where is my mind?

I feel ill at the moment. A stomache ache. Something that’s gripping me. Mentally and physically. It’s strangling. I have a flame. I have a god damn flame. Why doesn’t it burn? Where is my curiosity for life? Where is the vigor? Where is the heartfelt desire and drive to delve into life with a precocious can-do attitude? Why do I feel like everything is dull and lifeless? Why do I feel like I’m dull and lifeless? Why the fuck can’t I strip myself from this weight that grips and claws at my insides? Where is the wonder? The god damn wonder? Hello? Anyone?

Thanksgiving break seemed overly typical this year. Family drama. Something that usually keeps itself at bay, or at least it’s usually its managed. Maybe I’m just getting older and have grown more aware of the conflicts within the family. I don’t understand problems. Why are there problems? Why are there disagreements? If its at the expense of happiness, what the hell does it matter if you think something is wrong or right? Isn’t happiness what life’s all about? Don’t you think it’s almost better to be wrong and be happy, or at least have things work out? then to be right, or assert your position at the expense of shit hitting the fan and people getting hurt?

My god. What has happened to me? The dread. This terrible dread. My mind has grown dilatory and unresponsive. I need some genuine enthusiasm. I need something to pick me up and rivet me and hurl me over the edge. I need the adrenaline, the burst of uncontrollable joy erupting from my pores. I need to taste that richness. That life.

Is life suppose to be like this? I mull and dig, turn over the soil, churn the water, hoping for some answer. And I know that life is about attitude. It is attitude. Life is about perception. What you percieve. How you percieve. All that. It is nothing more. If you look for shit, you will find shit. Probably sooner than later. Am I looking for shit? Is that why I feel so listless and apathetic? My muses! Where have they gone? I have not exhausted my investigations. My goals have not been satisfied. They have not been acheived. They have grown distant and cold. That is the problem. I need to bring them back, wring them in. I need to focus. God. It’s the same story with me. Focus. Focus. Focus. I wish I was a computer that I could manually program, like once, so that the task and goals and aims I desperately yearn for could be realized. There’s something wrong here. I’m missing something. Something is missing. It must be deeper. What kind of deep shit are you not dealing with Michael? Hm…

Whatever it is eludes me. Action. ACTION. Action breeds all genesis. It brings forth life. Without action, there is stagnation. Life is like a garden that will grow rampant with weeds and thistles and thorns unless it is properly attended through diliberate action. I need to till my life, uproot the random bullshit, the random thoughts, the useless fascinations, and make sure that I care for only the most pressing issues of my heart and soul.

I read over journal entries from years ago when I was on the upward swing of things. I’m envious of that person. I was so resolute in body and mind to see certain goals attained. I controlled every environmental and emotional and mental factor to the utmost scrutiny.  When negative or inconsequential thoughts crept in, I immediately reacted by turning on the right thoughts. Thoughts of success, or achievement, or who I believed I was, who I believed I could be. Agh.

Life is absurd. Sometimes I wish it was easy. That. That right there is the problem. I am running from the struggle. Life was never so beautiful as when it was a struggle. The pains yielded the joys. Like spring and summer labor yields forth the fruits of the fall and sustains us through the winter. It is during those months of labor, of hot arduous painstaking labor, that lead us to happiness.

Such aphoristic speech repulses me. That. That needs to stop. Negative criticism. Where are these thoughts coming from? Who the hell cares if I speak sententiously? Do I really care? hm… no. Then why the hell do I continue chastizing myself. Anyway.

I would like to elaborate with a little more depth. That’s something that I’ll need to work on. I have been avoiding the issue of work and labor as of late. I have let the power of pain get away from me. It is no pain. These internal struggles. I can interpret them in any way I like. Work can be a pleasure, or a burden. Why one would choose the latter is beyond me. It is my duty. I need to refine my self conception. I am someone who enjoys laboring, in all things. I go the extra mile. I burn the mid night oil. I attend only to the tasks that will have direct and definite consequences for achieving my goals. All others, all other fantastical obsessions and desultory desires need to be shelved. My mind is sharp. It is not for beating. It is for slicing. Slicing through obstacles, blazing through endeavors, goal after goal.

Sometimes I think I’m mad. Indeed, I am. We’re all mad. I don’t know why I let myself believe that anyone has it figured out any more than anyone else. Sometimes I just need to let things go. This goes along with choosing my tasks wisely. Being prudent, as they say.

I went to Florida for a few days. Caught up with some great friends. Got into some mischief. Read a few chapters of philosophy of language for class; specifically Wittgensteins private language theory and Nietzsche’s theory of metaphors and truth and lies in the non-moral sense. Read a few pages of Faulkner. Read of few poems of T.S. Eliots The Wasteland. Flew remote controlled helicopters. Went on a bike ride.

My parents are religious zealots. I love them dearly, no doubt about it, but it’s difficult to engage in conversation when there are such drastic differences in worldview foundations. Sometimes I forget, and I assume that we use the same language, that we operate from an similar ideology, but then the conversations build up heat as these contrary worldviews skirt past eachother and generate a friction. To them, everything goes back to God. That’s cool and all. But that means a lot gets thrown out when it shouldn’t be.  Such as, anything related to secular science. ‘Emotions were built into us by God. That person’s emotional issue is a spiritual issue. They’re wrestling with their will and God’s will’ It seems a bit short sighted. I’m apt to believe that there are much more comprehensive models for explaining why we find ourselves in certain emotional states. You can look at environmental factors, for one. Or physiological factors. Or personality factors. Or family factors. Or a crap ton of other factors that doesn’t substitute a catch all explanation. It seems much too arbitrary. And maybe it is. Anyway. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.

It’s funny. People that are so blind that they can’t see it. Am I blind? No doubt. I’m sure I am. But I want to be wrong. I desperately want to be wrong. I am at the mercy of understanding. That is all I want. I don’t want to be right, I just want to understand. Life is too short to search for all the answers. I just want to understand how it all works. I want clairvoyance into the harmonious dynamics governing thought and action.

What else do I have on my mind? I need to buy myself another book shelf. Too many books all over my room. They are probably more of a distraction than anything, but they offer a warmth. Seeing them reminds me of their knowledge. It keeps me conscious of the obligation I have to what little knowledge I was able to glean from their pages.

I need to familiarize myself with my tasks. I need to absorb and osmose their nature, their idiosyncrasies, their facets, their personality, their character. Tasks. Goals. Aims. Aspirations. Destinations.

I am not in a rush to gain value. To grow. I must be diligent with my time. I must respect the force of the finite junctures I face. College happens but once at my age. Education and learning happens forever. Let me not forget that.

I want to be fiercly absolute in my character, who I am, who I desire to be. Do not back down. Do not fawn for other’s approbation. God. The thought sickens me. ‘Others’. Who has it figured out? Ha.

Objectification. When I see the world as objects, rather than subjects, I can maneuver with much more ease and grace. There is something about subjects that paralyzes. We give subjects too much benefit. We bestow all the working knowledge privileged to us and us alone unto them, as if they grasp and understand the unknown depths of our world with the same capacity. We are all naive souls, grasping as shadows.

I have to write 15,000 more words in three days. 5,000 words a day. Holy…

Tomorrow I will write a minimum of 10,000 words. All day. I will wake at 8am, and write all day long. One guy wrote 50,000 words in a single day. Wow. Many more have written 20,000 words in a day. My record so far is around 5,000. Doubling that will be taxing but, nonetheless, within the realm of achievable.

When I am finished this novel business, I will go on to write a 10 page paper for Social and Political Philosophy, probably on the role of the state regarding public education. That should turn out to be around 3000-4000 words. Ha. I scoff at such a paper. ha. anyway…

I need to sleep. Long day tomorrow.

Mind Dump

“The distance between you and your goal is often the length of a single idea.”   -Vic Conant

Where is my mind?

I feel ill at the moment. A stomache ache. Something that’s gripping me. Mentally and physically. It’s strangling. I have a flame. I have a god damn flame. Why doesn’t it burn? Where is my curiosity for life? Where is the vigor? Where is the heartfelt desire and drive to delve into life with a precocious can-do attitude? Why do I feel like everything is dull and lifeless? Why do I feel like I’m dull and lifeless? Why the fuck can’t I strip myself from this weight that grips and claws at my insides? Where is the wonder? The god damn wonder? Hello? Anyone?

Thanksgiving break seemed overly typical this year. Family drama. Something that usually keeps itself at bay, or at least it’s usually its managed. Maybe I’m just getting older and have grown more aware of the conflicts within the family. I don’t understand problems. Why are there problems? Why are there disagreements? If its at the expense of happiness, what the hell does it matter if you think something is wrong or right? Isn’t happiness what life’s all about? Don’t you think it’s almost better to be wrong and be happy, or at least have things work out? then to be right, or assert your position at the expense of shit hitting the fan and people getting hurt?

My god. What has happened to me? The dread. This terrible dread. My mind has grown dilatory and unresponsive. I need some genuine enthusiasm. I need something to pick me up and rivet me and hurl me over the edge. I need the adrenaline, the burst of uncontrollable joy erupting from my pores. I need to taste that richness. That life.

Is life suppose to be like this? I mull and dig, turn over the soil, churn the water, hoping for some answer. And I know that life is about attitude. It is attitude. Life is about perception. What you percieve. How you percieve. All that. It is nothing more. If you look for shit, you will find shit. Probably sooner than later. Am I looking for shit? Is that why I feel so listless and apathetic? My muses! Where have they gone? I have not exhausted my investigations. My goals have not been satisfied. They have not been acheived. They have grown distant and cold. That is the problem. I need to bring them back, wring them in. I need to focus. God. It’s the same story with me. Focus. Focus. Focus. I wish I was a computer that I could manually program, like once, so that the task and goals and aims I desperately yearn for could be realized. There’s something wrong here. I’m missing something. Something is missing. It must be deeper. What kind of deep shit are you not dealing with Michael? Hm…

Whatever it is eludes me. Action. ACTION. Action breeds all genesis. It brings forth life. Without action, there is stagnation. Life is like a garden that will grow rampant with weeds and thistles and thorns unless it is properly attended through diliberate action. I need to till my life, uproot the random bullshit, the random thoughts, the useless fascinations, and make sure that I care for only the most pressing issues of my heart and soul.

I read over journal entries from years ago when I was on the upward swing of things. I’m envious of that person. I was so resolute in body and mind to see certain goals attained. I controlled every environmental and emotional and mental factor to the utmost scrutiny.  When negative or inconsequential thoughts crept in, I immediately reacted by turning on the right thoughts. Thoughts of success, or achievement, or who I believed I was, who I believed I could be. Agh.

Life is absurd. Sometimes I wish it was easy. That. That right there is the problem. I am running from the struggle. Life was never so beautiful as when it was a struggle. The pains yielded the joys. Like spring and summer labor yields forth the fruits of the fall and sustains us through the winter. It is during those months of labor, of hot arduous painstaking labor, that lead us to happiness.

Such aphoristic speech repulses me. That. That needs to stop. Negative criticism. Where are these thoughts coming from? Who the hell cares if I speak sententiously? Do I really care? hm… no. Then why the hell do I continue chastizing myself. Anyway.

I would like to elaborate with a little more depth. That’s something that I’ll need to work on. I have been avoiding the issue of work and labor as of late. I have let the power of pain get away from me. It is no pain. These internal struggles. I can interpret them in any way I like. Work can be a pleasure, or a burden. Why one would choose the latter is beyond me. It is my duty. I need to refine my self conception. I am someone who enjoys laboring, in all things. I go the extra mile. I burn the mid night oil. I attend only to the tasks that will have direct and definite consequences for achieving my goals. All others, all other fantastical obsessions and desultory desires need to be shelved. My mind is sharp. It is not for beating. It is for slicing. Slicing through obstacles, blazing through endeavors, goal after goal.

Sometimes I think I’m mad. Indeed, I am. We’re all mad. I don’t know why I let myself believe that anyone has it figured out any more than anyone else. Sometimes I just need to let things go. This goes along with choosing my tasks wisely. Being prudent, as they say.

I went to Florida for a few days. Caught up with some great friends. Got into some mischief. Read a few chapters of philosophy of language for class; specifically Wittgensteins private language theory and Nietzsche’s theory of metaphors and truth and lies in the non-moral sense. Read a few pages of Faulkner. Read of few poems of T.S. Eliots The Wasteland. Flew remote controlled helicopters. Went on a bike ride.

My parents are religious zealots. I love them dearly, no doubt about it, but it’s difficult to engage in conversation when there are such drastic differences in worldview foundations. Sometimes I forget, and I assume that we use the same language, that we operate from an similar ideology, but then the conversations build up heat as these contrary worldviews skirt past eachother and generate a friction. To them, everything goes back to God. That’s cool and all. But that means a lot gets thrown out when it shouldn’t be.  Such as, anything related to secular science. ‘Emotions were built into us by God. That person’s emotional issue is a spiritual issue. They’re wrestling with their will and God’s will’ It seems a bit short sighted. I’m apt to believe that there are much more comprehensive models for explaining why we find ourselves in certain emotional states. You can look at environmental factors, for one. Or physiological factors. Or personality factors. Or family factors. Or a crap ton of other factors that doesn’t substitute a catch all explanation. It seems much too arbitrary. And maybe it is. Anyway. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.

It’s funny. People that are so blind that they can’t see it. Am I blind? No doubt. I’m sure I am. But I want to be wrong. I desperately want to be wrong. I am at the mercy of understanding. That is all I want. I don’t want to be right, I just want to understand. Life is too short to search for all the answers. I just want to understand how it all works. I want clairvoyance into the harmonious dynamics governing thought and action.

What else do I have on my mind? I need to buy myself another book shelf. Too many books all over my room. They are probably more of a distraction than anything, but they offer a warmth. Seeing them reminds me of their knowledge. It keeps me conscious of the obligation I have to what little knowledge I was able to glean from their pages.

I need to familiarize myself with my tasks. I need to absorb and osmose their nature, their idiosyncrasies, their facets, their personality, their character. Tasks. Goals. Aims. Aspirations. Destinations.

I am not in a rush to gain value. To grow. I must be diligent with my time. I must respect the force of the finite junctures I face. College happens but once at my age. Education and learning happens forever. Let me not forget that.

I want to be fiercly absolute in my character, who I am, who I desire to be. Do not back down. Do not fawn for other’s approbation. God. The thought sickens me. ‘Others’. Who has it figured out? Ha.

Objectification. When I see the world as objects, rather than subjects, I can maneuver with much more ease and grace. There is something about subjects that paralyzes. We give subjects too much benefit. We bestow all the working knowledge privileged to us and us alone unto them, as if they grasp and understand the unknown depths of our world with the same capacity. We are all naive souls, grasping as shadows.

I have to write 15,000 more words in three days. 5,000 words a day. Holy…

Tomorrow I will write a minimum of 10,000 words. All day. I will wake at 8am, and write all day long. One guy wrote 50,000 words in a single day. Wow. Many more have written 20,000 words in a day. My record so far is around 5,000. Doubling that will be taxing but, nonetheless, within the realm of achievable.

When I am finished this novel business, I will go on to write a 10 page paper for Social and Political Philosophy, probably on the role of the state regarding public education. That should turn out to be around 3000-4000 words. Ha. I scoff at such a paper. ha. anyway…

I need to sleep. Long day tomorrow.

 

Contemplation

“To arrive at the simplest truth, as [Sir Isaac] Newton knew and practiced, requires years of contemplation. Not activity Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behaviour of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know. And yet those with the courage to tread this path to real discovery are not only offered practically no guidance on how to do so, they are actively discouraged and have to set about it in secret, pretending meanwhile to be diligently engaged in the frantic diversions and to conform with the deadening personal opinions which are being continually thrust upon them.”

— George Spencer-Brown

Strangers are People

1989.

Tall like trees. Bodies danced at the margins of my world, filling the jungle with movement and life.
My mother strolled ahead. I was two at the time. We were in Saint Luis Obisbo California. My father was in the middle of a six month naval cruise somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Operation Desert Storm was underway.  Patty, my mothers best childhood friend, was visiting our new family from the east coast. They wandered through the public promenade and admired the Californian city scape while they caught up on life’s new details. My sister Jaclyn was strapped tightly to a toddler rook, hanging like a swollen sack from my mothers back. Her little arms protruded out to the sides and her tiny fingers grasped at the passing air. My mother latched onto my hand like a leash and led the way through the thicket of legs and knees that shuffled along the sidewalk. I stared at my shoes. My laces lashed back and forth as I toddled to keep pace. Gum smeared the cement. I looked up: the world was tall.

Suddenly there was a pause. I watched their lips move in parley as their eyes surveyed the storefronts for a potential lunch spot. I jerked my hand away: I wanted freedom. I stared at my flopping laces and continued walking without thought to where I was going.
“Michael!” My mother called me; her voice was piqued with concern. “Get back here Michael. You need to stand near me. There are strangers here.”
I looked up and found her eyes peering at me. Bodies bustled about. Conversations echoed near and far. On nearby benches sat individuals, some propped and alert, others slumped and sluggish, all with a distant look in their eyes; their minds absorbed in contemplation.
“There are no strangers here. There are only people.”
I looked at her curiously, blinking. A smile warmed her face.
“You’re right Michael. There are no strangers. There are only people.”

Do rad.

Oh, tell me, who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble… we all know that not one man can, consciously, act against his own interests … And what if it so happens that a man’s advantage, sometimes not only may, but even must, consists in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself and not advantageous[?]

Dostoeyevski, Notes from the Underground

Interesting quote.

I don’t want to conform. I don’t want to be traditional. I don’t want average. I don’t want normal. I don’t want typical. I don’t want regular. I don’t want ordinary. I don’t want usual. I don’t want to be okay.

I want to live radically.

Radical living. What would this look like? Radicalism is characterized by extremes and the stolid allegiance to certain unalienable convictions and principles. It is a life without compromise.

The choice to live radically, live according to your convictions, is a notion lost on many. Societies have sprung and self-reliance has withered. We depend on others. For knowledge. For economy. For survival.

I’ve often thought about the costs and benefits of human relations. I believe that as one being, one life, in the world, you have access to some element of reality just as much as any other man.  I believe that this element offers a perspective wholly unique and distinct from any other. While one can argue the utility of such staunch self-reliance and the lone perspective it offers, we are no less the demiurge of our fate. It is our task to compose the melodious eminence, the sonorous song, of our spirit. We and we alone must weave the trappings of our worldly constitution into a festooning fabric for all eyes to revere or renounce. We must make it count.

Oh, tell me, who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble… we all know that not one man can, consciously, act against his own interests … And what if it so happens that a man’s advantage, sometimes not only may, but even must, consists in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself and not advantageous[?]

Dostoeyevski, Notes from the Underground

Do rad.

Oh, tell me, who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble… we all know that not one man can, consciously, act against his own interests … And what if it so happens that a man’s advantage, sometimes not only may, but even must, consists in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself and not advantageous[?]

Dostoeyevski, Notes from the Underground

Interesting quote.

I don’t want to conform. I don’t want to be traditional. I don’t want average. I don’t want normal. I don’t want typical. I don’t want regular. I don’t want ordinary. I don’t want usual. I don’t want to be okay.

I want to live radically.

Radical living. What would this look like? Radicalism is characterized by extremes and the stolid allegiance to certain unalienable  convictions and principles.

The choice to live radically, live according to your convictions, is a notion lost on many. Societies have sprung and self-reliance has withered. We depend on others. For knowledge. For economy. For survival.

I’ve often thought about the costs and benefits of human relations. I believe that as one being, one life, in the world, you have access to some element of reality just as much as any other man.  I believe the element offers a perspective wholly unique and exemplary. While one can argue the utility of a lone perspective, we are no less a demiurge. It is our task to weave the viscous textures of our worldly constitution into a festooning fabric for all eyes to revere or renounce. Make it count.

Lucy

LSD is like a surprise party you’ve heard all about; even before the first encounter you believe yourself to be distantly acquainted like an astral soul mate. As the time approaches you believe yourself prepared and ready, maintaining a perfectly formed idea of the minute details comprising the events of the party: where it’s at, whats going to happen, who’s gonna be there. You are terribly excited and cannot wait to be greeted by the anticipated surprise.  However, as one who savors the novelty of life, you go to great lengths to ensure the vernal appeal is fully preserved. You sneak up quietly, tip-toeing, trying not to disrupt the au courant beauty of your expectations. You await the glory, the thrill and approbation.

At the last expecting moment you feel an abrupt slap in the ass that throws you into an utterly befuddled, confused state. Swiftly, you swing around to find a retinue of happy, joyous, strange, aliens cheering your arrival. You do not know these people, you do not know why they are looking at you with such glib enthusiasm. You don’t know whether to greet them with a smile and beam equal joy, or recoil in alarming fear. This does not parse well with your expectations. You were expecting a party, but this is not the party you thought you’d attend. These are strangers, unknown to you. Their visage may suggest a warm disarming invitation to stay, but there is a strangeness. Do I embrace these outstretch arms and party with conviviality and without consternation? Or do I attempt to run? Should I escape and flee to a more familiar place? Perhaps the party I expected?

Little do you know, in that moment, you have no choice in the matter. You cannot cross  the thresh hold twice. Fate has left you here and this is the party you must attend. The sooner you embrace it, the sooner you can appreciate it. Running from it is like running inward. There is no escape. You only go deeper and deeper, until you lose yourself. You cannot escape yourself.

Peregrination

It’s late. I should be in bed. I figure I need to get some thoughts out.

An update. I’m growing my beard out. Not sure how I feel about it. It’s the first time in twenty-four years of my life that I’ve given my cheeks shade and let the facial hair run rampant. It’s sort of funny. Initially it was awkward having this thatching covering my face. Almost uncomfortable. But eventually I stopped giving a shit and now it’s not too bad. Not sure the ladies dig it. Maybe some Canadian women who have a thing for lumberjacks. Don’t know if I’ll find that crowd here in the south, let alone Vanderbilt. No matter.

Haven’t spent too much time pursuing the ladies. Usually that’s a question that comes up when talking with people, like it’s expected that you should have a girlfriend. ‘Any ladies?’ they say. There’s a repertoire of preloaded social inquiry. It’s necessary for communication. I do it. The question of girls is interesting. It’s on cue in the back of every guys mind. It’s a universal need that needs to be addressed and asking about it only harks back to its importance. Anyway.

I went to the library this evening and checked our four books by William Faulkner as well as a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot. I wonder what TS stands for? (Thomas Stearns)

Am I happy? Not sure. I like that I’ve been writing and thinking about writing as much as I have. It hasn’t exactly been great for keeping me focused on school. In fact, it’s prompted an insidious reaction within me to reject school altogether and revert back to my anitauthoritarian mentality. I am a free spirit, I cannot be kept like a bird in a cage. The soaring wings of imagination and passion must take flight without the constraining walls of formality. School has far too much of this formality. Can I master the system? Absolutely. But at what cost? At what cost am I willing to dampen my creative intellect? Do I have the imagination and tenacity to do both? To command myself to be a slave and master simultaneously? I think so. I should try. There’s something so stifling about expectations. They sap the damn energy out of you. They hack at the knees before the first step is taken. It’s like pushing against the sky: out of reach and unrealistic. Or maybe that’s just my self-imposed expectations.  Anyway. I’m rambling.

Honesty. Suffering. No one wants to hear about anything but the suffering. People love commiseration. It reminds us of our frailty, of our humanity. I just want to capture what the hell it means to be human. If I can do that, and relay and relate it, I will feel accomplished.

It’s getting cold. And gray. The leaves have withered away, fallen like feathery fruit from the trees. The open skies resemble gray carpets void of life and depth like a dead drafty room.  The winged rats of the air take flight in spotted contrast, arranging and rearranging their fleeting patterns. Birds. No more blue skies. No more slanted sunshine and slinking steam scudding across the open air.

Thanksgiving dinner at the house tonight. I’ll be staying here over break. Looking forward to it. I have an economic statistics test tomorrow. Hmph. Not too thrilled about that but we’ll see what happens. I need something to smack the shit outta me. Wake me up. I need something meaningful. I hate going through the motions. You have one life. ONE life. That is it. Why oh why do I feel like I waste far too much of my life! I need to do more, be more, think more, create more. ONE LIFE. To try it all, do it all, love it all, taste it all, smell it all, feel it all. One. Then, you die. No more. You cease existing and eternity disappears along with your life. Nothing. Now is the time. Am I living up to my fullest potential? Am I developing what that even means? We can’t hit a target if we can’t see it. If I am to develop my potential I desperately need to have an idea of what I’m developing and what I desire the finished product to look like.

I was thinking the other day about how many people have lived and died throughout history and no one gives their life a moments consideration. They may have had some sort of impact on history. Maybe. They left a smidge of a ripple that barely made it to the ponds perimeter, let alone churn and stir the waters. I want to create waves!

The people we read about wrote down their thoughts. I can’t imagine a life where I can’t see what I think. I don’t know how I would think about my past, my identity. It would be so trivial and left up for interpretation, my word and others. If I never wrote, never recorded my thoughts, materialized my mind into words, I may as well have never existed. In a century nothing will be left of me but some ashes. If that. Think about all the people who have lived and were never remembered. I’m sure they were great people with great ideas too, but we’ll never know. The only people we know about are the ones who had the courage to declare their being and write it down.

Anyway. It’s late. I should really get to bed. I want life!

Peregrination

It’s late. I should be in bed. I figure I need to get some thoughts out.

An update. I’m growing my beard out. Not sure how I feel about it. It’s the first time in twenty-four years of my life that I’ve given my cheeks shade and let the facial hair run rampant. It’s sort of funny. Initially it was awkward having this thatching covering my face. Almost uncomfortable. But eventually I stopped giving a shit and now it’s not too bad. Not sure the ladies dig it. Maybe some Canadian women who have a thing for lumberjacks. Don’t know if I’ll find that crowd here in the south, let alone Vanderbilt. No matter.

Haven’t spent too much time pursuing the ladies. Usually that’s a question that comes up when talking with people, like it’s expected that you should have a girlfriend. ‘Any ladies?’ they say. There’s a repertoire of preloaded social inquiry. It’s necessary for communication. I do it. The question of girls is interesting. It’s on cue in the back of every guys mind. It’s a universal need that needs to be addressed and asking about it only harks back to its importance. Anyway.

I went to the library this evening and checked our four books by William Faulkner as well as a collection of poems my T.S. Eliot. I wonder what TS stands for? (Thomas Stearns)

Am I happy? Not sure. I like that I’ve been writing and thinking about writing as much as I have. It hasn’t exactly been great for keeping me focused on school. In fact, it’s prompted an insidious reaction within me to reject school altogether and revert back to my anitauthoritarian mentality. I am a free spirit, I cannot be kept like a bird in a cage. The soaring wings of imagination and passion must take flight without the constraining walls of formality. School has far too much of this formality. Can I master the system? Absolutely. But at what cost? At what cost am I willing to dampen my creative intellect? Do I have the imagination and tenacity to do both? To command myself to be a slave and master simultaneously? I think so. I should try. There’s something so stifling about expectations. They sap the damn energy out of you. They hack at the knees before the first step is taken. It’s like pushing against the sky: out of reach and unrealistic. Or maybe that’s just my self-imposed expectations.  Anyway. I’m rambling.

Honesty. Suffering. No one wants to hear about anything but the suffering. People love commiseration. It reminds us of our frailty, of our humanity. I just want to capture what the hell it means to be human. If I can do that, and relay and relate it, I will feel accomplished.

It’s getting cold. And gray. The leaves have withered away, fallen like feathery fruit from the trees. The skies resemble gray empty carpets void of life and depth like an empty room.  The winged rats of the air take flight in spotted contrast, arranging and rearranging their fleeting patterns. Birds. No more blue skies. No more slanted sunshine and slinking steam scudding across the open air.

Thanksgiving dinner at the house tonight. I’ll be staying here over break. Looking forward to it. I have an economic statistics test tomorrow. Hmph. Not too thrilled about that but we’ll see what happens. I need something to smack the shit outta me. Wake me up. I need something meaningful. I hate going through the motions. You have one life. ONE life. That is it. Why oh why do I feel like I waste far too much of my life! I need to do more, be more, think more, create more. ONE LIFE. To try it all, do it all, love it all, taste it all, smell it all, feel it all. One. Then, you die. No more. You cease existing and eternity disappears along with your life. Nothing. Now is the time. Am I living up to my fullest potential? Am I developing what that even means? We can’t hit a target if we can’t see it. If I am to develop my potential I desperately need to have an idea of what I’m developing and what I desire the finished product to look like.

I was thinking the other day about how many people have lived and died throughout history and no one gives their life a moments consideration. They may have had some sort of impact on history. Maybe.  At best they left a smidge of a ripple that barely made it to the ponds perimeter, let alone churn and stir the waters. I want to create waves!

The people we read about wrote down their thoughts. I can’t imagine a life where I can’t see what I think. I don’t know how I would think about my past, my identity. It would be so trivial and left up for interpretation, my word and others. If I never wrote, never recorded my thoughts, materialized my mind into words, I may as well have never existed. In a century nothing will be left of me but some ashes. If that. Think about all the people who have lived and were never remembered. I’m sure they were great people with great ideas too, but we’ll never know. The only people we know about are the ones who had the courage to declare their being and write it down.

Anyway. It’s late. I should really get to bed. I want life!

Social Mobility: Language, Influence, Power

You said it, my good knight! There ought to be laws to
protect the body of acquired knowledge.
Take one of our good pupils, for example: modest
and diligent, from his earliest grammar classes he’s
kept a little notebook full of phrases.
After hanging on the lips of his teachers for twenty
years, he’s managed to build up an intellectual stock in
trade; doesn’t it belong to him as if it were a house, or
money?
Paul Claudel, Le soulier de satin, Day III, Scene ii

Communication. I can’t stop thinking about communication. It’s everywhere. You can’t help it. You are conditioned to adopt certain norms and customs. The interpellation that causes identity formation through subjectification/ submission to authority.

Pierre Bourdieu described the habitus of language. Habits form our character- our ideological world view, our identity as a subject. Using language makes you apart of a normative group- whoever and whatever that represents.

We are creatures of habits. The habituation of ideologies shape the way we view the world. We embody habituated ways of using symbols through the environmental influences we were born or conditioned into. These habits elucidate the societal structures we find ourselves. Each societal structure contains distinct linguistic capital that defines a linguistic market or social group.  The linguistic capital we use has symbolic power or symbolic imposition. The greater linguistic capital a person possesses, the more mobile that person is within and between different linguistic markets. These habits that accrete linguistic capital are instrumental for the formation of identity.

The language and gestures that forms a person’s linguistic capital contains explicit or implicit symbolic power that are used to define the world.  The symbolic power of language takes the form of subliminal and non-verbal insinuations. Posture, eye contact, intonation, definitions, conventional phrases, and mannerisms all play a role in the insinuation of symbolic power.

The formation of a person’s identity arises from censorship. Ideological influences in society- family, religion, school- all facilitate this censorship. Eventually the external influences of censorship become internalized and act as self-censorship.

When we were young our parents molded our ideology by pruning our habits through assent or dissent. The process that habituates the internalization of censorship and forms the ideology that becomes our identity looks something like this:

As a child we may use the word ‘fat’ to describe someone who’s overweight, or ‘bitch’ to describe someone who’s mean. To show their disapproval of the ideology our parents initially rebuke us with a reproachful look and say “Michael, do not use that language.” In this was they are actively censoring the language that doesn’t fit into their conceptions of accepted ideology.  The next time we use that word our parents may need only say “Michael, language.” The next time only “Michael.” The next time only the reproachful look. The next time only their presence is needed to censor our language. Soon enough, as we become habituated and internalize this censorship as self-censorship,  nothing is needed to prompt our censorship.  A persons subjectivity is shaped first through language which gives rise to a subject or self.

This process habituates a complicit reaction to the symbolic domination taking place. The force of our language, the symbolic power within linguistic capital, imposes itself onto the world and others. It forms a persons identity through their subjectification. This subjectification is a result of the symbolic imposition characterizing the symbolic power of a linguistic capital.

The linguistic capital that composes a linguistic market is deemed a legitimate language. The formation of the legitimate language characterizing a linguistic market involves the consolidation of a language. This consolidation is the accumulation of distinct linguistic markers or signs that compromise the markets linguistic capital. The coalescing or consolidation of language into linguistic capital gives rise to a community. This community formation is the linguistic market in which the symbolic power and force of the linguistic capital is exchanged. In this way the community contributes to the process of forming particular individuals. This is the perpetuation of tradition, customs, trends, as a result of the communities ideological influence on the individual through censorship.

Censorship, in another name, is none other than the idea of ‘instruction’ or ‘discipline’. This occurs anytime an ideology is being imposed on an individual, be it a child, student, employee, citizen, and the like.

 

It is interesting to look at the implication of this paradigm.

When someone uses a language, or employs linguistic capital, falls outside our ideology or linguistic market, there is a misunderstanding or miscommunication, a conflict of ideologies.

The notion of ‘control’ characterizes our ‘identity’.  Our identity defines us, and we control our identity by endorsing ideologies that manifest through symbols (gestures, language, accessories that fill our life: clothes, house, and other tokens or bibelots). When someone interacts with us through a explicit, direct, conscious interpellation that conflicts with the ideology that forms our identity, there is a loss of control. This lack of control leaves one vulnerable.  These vulnerabilities are felt according to the past histories of an individual subject.

All this being said, I want to emphasize the importance of understanding this paradigm. It is life. You are shaped by your environment: family, society, education, peers. There is no way around it. You are born into a world with a space waiting for you. The moment there is knowledge that you wil be born you parents begin creating this space filled with expectations for the kind of person they wish you to be: boy or girl, smart, hardworking, handsome, polite. The extent that their ideology allows them to  understand exactly what these words or expectations mean is dictated by the linguistic capital within the linguistic market they are apart. Or, simply stated, the language they use is determined by the societal structure they willfully or unwillfully find themselves in. They censor you, discipline and instruct, according to the parameters of the symbolic force within the ideology of their language.

This emphasizes the subject-object relationship within ideologies. Louis Althusser describes interpellation as a psychological mechanism that causes a subject to react within a certain way despite their self recognized personal identity. The Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) is the willingness of subjects to conform to engagement. Althusser States in Ideology and the State:

The ideology of the ruling class does not become the ruling ideology, by the grace of God, nor even by virtue of the seizure of State power alone. It is by the installation of the ISAs in which ideology is realized and realizes itself that it becomes the ruling ideology.”

 

Leverage language. Leverage the symbolic power of linguistic capital, the semantic force of language. Leverage your identity in this way. Leverage your social mobility by being much more understanding of different ideologies and learning to adopt contrary or conflicting world views.

Do not let others impose their ideology on you. Seek to create an awareness of the influencing ideologies that shaped your current conception of self. Consider its limitations, its failures. Form a pure conception of self. While it is near impossible to escape the influences totally, you can be aware of an ideologies symbolic power and force that imposes itself on the world.

Do not be concerned with the ‘Things’ of the world. Be concerned with the ‘beliefs’ or ‘methods of interpellation’ that categorize and define the world. If you are concerned with the ‘things’ or the markers and symbols within the linguistic capital comprising your ideology, and not the underlying interpellation or beliefs, you run the risk of operating outside your ideology. This jeopardizes your control over identity and leaves you vulnerable. This lack of control, or vulnerability, leaves one resistant to agree or engage.

When engaging with people, look at their beliefs and talk, not in terms of the right or wrongness of their language and terms and definitions, but in terms of the ideology that has formed their conceptions of that language. Look at why they use the language they use and where the symbolic force of their language lies. Adopt their language and talk as if you operated from their ideology.

It is not about being right or wrong, it is about understanding. Leaders leverage a diverse array and large quantity of linguistic capital. This allows for incredible adaptivity, influence, and social mobility within social structures and groups- linguistic markets. They are the weak ties that bind solitary communities together.

Language is capital. It is as good as gold. Actually, it is much more valuable than gold. If you possess the right language, you can do and be anything.

Social Mobility: Language, Influence, Power

You said it, my good knight! There ought to be laws to
protect the body of acquired knowledge.
Take one of our good pupils, for example: modest
and diligent, from his earliest grammar classes he’s
kept a little notebook full of phrases.
After hanging on the lips of his teachers for twenty
years, he’s managed to build up an intellectual stock in
trade; doesn’t it belong to him as if it were a house, or
money?
Paul Claudel, Le soulier de satin, Day III, Scene ii

 

Communication. I can’t stop thinking about communication. It’s everywhere. You can’t help it. You are conditioned to adopt certain norms and customs. The interpellation that causes identity formation through subjectification and submission to authority. Bear with me while I get this all out. It might get a little cerebral.

Pierre Bourdieu described the habitus of language. Habits form our character, our ideological world view, our identity as a subject. Using language makes you apart of a normative group whoever and whatever that might represent.

We are creatures of habits. The habituation of ideologies shapes our view of the world. Through habituation we come to embody certain symbols that mark out our ideology as a result of the environmental influences we were born and conditioned into. These habits elucidate the societal structures we find ourselves belonging to. Each societal structure contains distinct linguistic capital that defines a linguistic market or social group.  The linguistic capital we use has symbolic power or symbolic imposition. The greater linguistic capital a person possesses, the more mobile that person is within and between different linguistic markets. The accretion of habits that form linguistic capital are instrumental for the formation of identity.

The language and gestures that forms a person’s linguistic capital contains explicit or implicit symbolic power that are used to define the world.  The symbolic power of language takes the form of subliminal and non-verbal insinuations. Posture, eye contact, intonation, definitions, conventional phrases, and mannerisms all play a role in the insinuation of symbolic power.

The formation of a person’s identity arises from censorship. Ideological influences in society- family, religion, school- all facilitate this censorship. Eventually the external influences of censorship become internalized and act as self-censorship.

When we were young our parents molded our ideology by pruning our habits through assent or dissent. The process that habituates the internalization of censorship and forms the ideology that becomes our identity looks something like this:

As a child we may use the word ‘fat’ to describe someone who’s overweight, or ‘bitch’ to describe someone who’s mean. To show their disapproval of the ideology our parents initially rebuke us with a reproachful look and say “Michael, do not use that language.” In this was they are actively censoring the language that doesn’t fit into their conceptions of accepted ideology.  The next time we use that word our parents may need only say “Michael, language.” The next time only “Michael.” The next time only the reproachful look. The next time only their presence is needed to censor our language. Soon enough, as we become habituated and internalize this censorship as self-censorship,  nothing is needed to prompt our censorship.  A persons subjectivity is shaped first through language which gives rise to a subject or self.

This process habituates a complicit reaction to the symbolic domination taking place. The force of our language, the symbolic power within linguistic capital, imposes itself onto the world and others. It forms a persons identity through their subjectification. This subjectification is a result of the symbolic imposition characterizing the symbolic power of a linguistic capital.

The linguistic capital that composes a linguistic market is deemed a legitimate language. The formation of the legitimate language characterizing a linguistic market involves the consolidation of a language. This consolidation is the accumulation of distinct linguistic markers or signs that compromise the markets linguistic capital. The coalescing or consolidation of language into linguistic capital gives rise to a community. This community formation is the linguistic market in which the symbolic power and force of the linguistic capital is exchanged. In this way the community contributes to the process of forming particular individuals. This is the perpetuation of tradition, customs, trends, as a result of the communities ideological influence on the individual through censorship.

Censorship, in another name, is none other than the idea of ‘instruction’ or ‘discipline’. This occurs anytime an ideology is being imposed on an individual, be it a child, student, employee, citizen, and the like.

This emphasizes the subject-object relationship within ideologies.

It is interesting to look at the implication of this paradigm.

When someone uses a language, or employs linguistic capital, that falls outside our ideology or linguistic market, there is a misunderstanding or miscommunication, a conflict of ideologies.

The notion of ‘control’ characterizes the stability of our ‘identity’.  Our identity defines us, and we control our identity by endorsing ideologies that manifest through symbols (gestures, language, accessories that fill our life: clothes, house, and other tokens or bibelots). When someone interacts with us through a explicit, direct, conscious interpellation that conflicts with the ideology that forms our identity, there is a loss of control. This lack of control leaves one vulnerable.  These vulnerabilities are felt according to the past histories of an individual subject.

All this being said, I want to emphasize the importance of understanding this paradigm. It is life. You are shaped by your environment: family, society, education, peers. There is no way around it. You are born into a world with a space waiting for you. The moment there is knowledge that you wil be born you parents begin creating this space filled with expectations for the kind of person they wish you to be: boy or girl, smart, hardworking, handsome, polite. The extent that their ideology allows them to  understand exactly what these words or expectations mean is dictated by the linguistic capital within the linguistic market they are apart. Or, simply stated, the language they use is determined by the societal structure they willfully or unwillfully find themselves in. They censor you, discipline and instruct, according to the parameters of the symbolic force within the ideology of their language.

Leverage language. Leverage the symbolic power of linguistic capital, the semantic force of language. Leverage your identity in this way. Leverage your social mobility by being much more understanding of different ideologies and learning to adopt contrary or conflicting world views.

Do not let others impose their ideology on you. Seek to create an awareness of the influencing ideologies that shaped your current conception of self. Consider its limitations, its failures. Form a pure conception of self. While it is near impossible to escape the influences totally, you can be aware of an ideologies symbolic power and force that imposes itself on the world.

Do not be concerned with the ‘Things’ of the world. Be concerned with the ‘beliefs’ or ‘methods of interpellation’ that categorize and define the world. If you are concerned with the ‘things’ or the markers and symbols within the linguistic capital comprising your ideology, and not the underlying interpellation or beliefs, you run the risk of operating outside your ideology. This jeopardizes the control over your identity and leaves you vulnerable. This lack of control, or vulnerability, leaves one resistant to agree or engage.

When engaging with people, look at their beliefs and talk, not in terms of the right or wrongness of their language and terms and definitions, but in terms of the ideology that has formed their conceptions of that language. Look at why they use the language they use and where the symbolic force of their language lies. Adopt their language and talk as if you operated from their ideology.

It is not about being right or wrong, it is about understanding. Leaders leverage a diverse array and large quantity of linguistic capital. This allows for incredible adaptivity, influence, and social mobility within social structures and groups- linguistic markets. They are the weak ties that bind solitary communities together.

Language is capital. It is as good as gold. Actually, it is much more valuable than gold. If you possess the right language, you can do and be anything.

Never Conform

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character.

R. W. Emerson, Self Reliance from Essays: First Series (1841)

There was a point in my life when I aspired to change my destiny by changing my thoughts. I mediated on certain passages from books that contained uplifting inspiration. That was four years ago and I still have this quote memorized.

This essay is still a favorite that I read regularly.

Also, a soothing song: Foreground by Grizzly Bear.

Signs and Semantics: Social and Psychological

sign (n.) early 13c., “gesture or motion of the hand,” from O.Fr. signe “sign, mark, signature,” from L. signum “mark, token, indication, symbol,” from PIE base *sekw- “point out” (see ‘see’). Meaning “a mark or device having some special importance” is recorded from late 13c. Sense of “characteristic device attached to the front of an inn, shop, etc., to distinguish it from others” is first recorded mid-15c. Ousted native ‘token’.

There are a lot of fragmented thoughts swirling about my mind at the moment. I need to get them out in no particular order. Stream of consciousness:

I’ve been thinking a lot about people lately. People and social interaction. I’m surprised how many people aren’t aware of how their behavior affects the perceptions of other people. The world judges us. We judge the world. We have to. It’s a survival mechanism. First impressions go a long way, even if we train ourselves to be open, these impressions are a pretty reliable source to make evaluations.

Example: I see a guy whose clean-shaven, wearing a suit, nicely shined shoes. I can probably deduce he has a job that commands a level of respect. If I know he’s wearing a designer suit, wearing a Rolex and driving a luxury car, I don’t have to wonder if he’s a limo driver. He’s probably someone with money or important. In contrast, if you see a guy with a beard wearing a no name graphic T-shirt and tattered or dirty clothes, you’ll probably think he was a bum. Without any conversation you will form an opinion about that guy. If you are smart, you’ll wait till you have a conversation with him, but our first impressions are pretty reliable.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to communication recently. More specifically, the role of unspoken communication and appearance.

Communication is defined by the conveyance of signs, or symbols. What are signs? They are markers that convey meaning. Like a road sign. Like any sign. These signs themselves contain meaning. Gestures, symbols, noises: they all possess a normative levels of meaning. This meaning is conveyed to those who are familiar with the signs. The vast majority of signs are culturally rooted in language or social conventions. If you speak Chinese to me, I won’t be able to immediately interpret the meaning of the sign. It’ll be noise. If you speak English to me, I’ll immediately begin to interpret the meaning. Some signs traverse cultural divides, like facial gestures and body posture. The study and interpretation of these signs within a culture is called semiotic analysis.

semiotic: 1620s, of symptoms, from Gk. semeiotikos “significant,” also “observant of signs,” adj. form of semeiosis “indication,” from semeioun “to signal, to interpret a sign,” fromsema “sign.” Use in psychology dates to 1923.

When you become aware of how to leverage the meaning of these signs, through appearance and language, you learn how to leverage what meaning you convey to the world. A lot of people I talk to don’t give much thought to the signs they convey to the world. They are conditioned to think that because they don’t give it much thought, that it somehow doesn’t matter. I suppose this stems from a pervasive notion that being an individual and different is a good thing and valuable, and that everyone recognizes the value of their individualism. I don’t think this is the case.

Signs point to something. They yield significance. They categorize and elucidate meaning. Certain signs- like nice cars, classy wine, fine cheese, the New Yorker, a big house on a rolling lawn, a nice neighborhood, etc- indicate higher social status. Other signs- like cheap beer, cigarettes,  trailers homes, obesity, etc- indicate lower social status. There are countless other categories and subcategories in between. What makes someone a punk? Or Scene? Or Grunge? Or a Hipster? Or Goth? Preppy? A Jock? They all are classified by the signs they convey, the language they use, and the things they surround themselves with. How well we adopt the conventions and customs of a group dictates if or how quickly we are received by them. It seems intuitive, but it’s amazing how little thought people give to the messages they send to the world.

Language is a key component for breaking into a group. If you can adopt the conventions, cultural gestures, and standard definitions of their language, you will meet much less resistance, e.g. learn the linguistic nuances of their humor, how they use words to describe things, intonation, body language, and the like. Couple this with adopting their appearance and you’ll fit right in.

Context lays a big role in how these signs are interpreted. A road sign on the street conveys a much different meaning than a road sign hanging from the wall of someone’s room. On the street it adopts to the normative conventions of navigation that allow for safe driving. In a room it can be interpreted as a gesture of rebellion to the state or other social constructs.

I’ve spoken with quite a few friends about appearance. They insist that because they don’t think about what they wear, or don’t have any intention of representing a  message in their clothing, that they are absolved from the meaning that their style conveys. They think that just because they don’t explicitly endorse a style that they aren’t conveying meaning. This seems a bit shortsighted. The interpretation of signs is left to the interlocutor. Just because you intend to communicate the meaning of something does not mean that you have successfully communicated that intention to others who perceive you. Their semantic evaluations may differ quite a bit considering their experience with the signs you convey as a result of their social, economic, and cultural status, and even age.

Everything we do conveys meaning. Our senses are constantly working to process the sense data we receive and interpret possible meanings. This sense data works to interpret environmental markers that take on various visual, haptic, gustatory, olfactory, and auditory forms that give rise to signs. All the other senses require a certain proximity to be interpreted. Sight allows the interpretation of signs from a distance.

I’m inclined to believe that appearance plays a huge role social interaction and assimilation. Doesn’t matter if you are aware of it or not. We navigate our world by sight. Our vision is usually the first indicator of meaning. Our interpretation of that meaning dictates our response to that meaning.

Appearance commands our attention to cues. It primes our cognitions before we engage with a situation or a person. It prepares us for speech. If your goal is to seek respect and acceptance within a community it is necessary that you adopt the conventions and customs that certain signs represent.

As long as we interact with people, we are judged. Like it or not. The resistance to conform is just as much a statement, and a much more obvious statement, than the adoption of conventional norms.

Just because you don’t wear brand name clothing doesn’t mean you don’t convey meaning. To some it conveys low income. To others it may convey the statement that you are counter cultural, or just above it.

Society is stratified by class no matter how you cut it. Appearance often conveys a person’s class or position in society. It elucidates a person’s tastes and perferences, and those have significant meaning.

Gestures convey an internal state about a person. It is easy to notice a person who is shy simply by the way they stand, hesitate to engage in conversation, or their reluctance to make eye contact. The same goes for people who are sad or depressed. They retain a certain lethargy that pervades their actions: their figure is slouched, their eyes are ‘downcast’, they move slowly, their expression is drawn down. A happy person is energetic, they are ‘looking up’ both figuratively and literally. They are ready to engage the world. They have a smile that is ready to curl upwards at any moment. They world looks brighter and they see things with wonder and enthusiasm. Research here .

Posture is important. Power and authority is conveyed through standing erect, chest out, feet spread. Space is dominated, through gestures, eye contact, and even the volume and bold tone of their voice. They speak with decisiveness and deliberateness. Power and authority are conveyed through this confidence. Power and authority invade space, as if to say ‘I have a right to be here’. It does not hesitate. It infringes on and engages with as much space as possible.

Eye contact is an interesting extension of this power and authority. When men stare at each other they convey their power by occupying the space within their vision. This seems to challenge their power and authority in an intimidating way. Many people become reactive and confrontational as a result of this challenge. Perhaps this is why public speaking causes people to become so anxious. It challenges their power and authority, it causes them to question themselves and doubt. It’s like public eyes sap the power and authority of their words.

Posture conveys power and authority. If you want to appear sure of yourself, of the power and authority of your being, your posture must convey steadfastness, sturdiness, dominance. It must communicate a willingness to engage without hesitation. Walking with a purpose in your step, shaking hands with firmness, eye contact that looks at the core of someones being, an erectness that elevates your stature, a stance that is squared and balanced.

Hygiene plays a role as well. We take care of the things we care about by ensuring their maintenance and cleanliness and repair. We must give ourselves the same respect.

Respect is attributive to value. We attribute respect to things we deem valuable and, more often than not, we attribute respect to things other’s deem valuable. People give us the same respect we give to ourselves. When we fail to respect ourselves, others will fail to respect us. We must respect ourselves if we wish to communicate our value to others.

It is difficult to respect things that have no or little value. If you  want others to respect you, you must respect yourself. This requires that you see yourself as valuable. You must love and appreciate that value, not in a narcissistic way, but a way that communicates a genuine respect and purpose. If you want someone to love you, you must love yourself. Cliche, yes, but nonetheless true.  You must be someone who is worth loving.

Just as our behavior conveys our internal states, it also shapes internal states. By assuming certain behaviors or postures, your psychology changes according to your physiological posture. If you smile, you can’t help but feel happy. Your brain literally generates endorphins as if it was happy. If you make yourself laugh, you can’t help but feel good. Your brain releases the happy neurotransmitters just as if you were laughing. If you stand up tall and straight, you will feel confident.  Same goes for less desirable states like depression. If you slouch, look at the ground, talk slow and in a low voice, you will literally become sadder, and your energy levels will seem to disappointed. Your body reacts to your physiological behaviors and positions. Research has continually confirmed this, as seen here and here.

The subconscious is a powerful mechanism. Our actions and reactions are primed and pre-loaded according to the our recent impressions and cogitations. There is a quote that illustrates this:

“When we change the way we look at the world, the world we look at changes.”

When we are thinking positive or optimistic thoughts, we are much more apt to interpret the world through the lens of those words. If we read a group of words like “ugly, foul, haggard, wicked, etc”, then look at photos of neutral scenes or people and report our emotional response, our reactions correlate with these words. We might take longer to assess a picture of something beautiful, or rate it less favorably than we would otherwise. The same works for positive thoughts. Surround yourself with only the most positive thoughts, people, or environmental cues and you will prime your brain to see things through that lens. Research supports this. Other research confirms this with how we interpret smells.

Not only do our ruminations and reflections prime these responses, but our environment shapes it quite a bit. The people and friends we surround ourselves’ with exposes our mind to their thoughts. These invasive thoughts shape our perception by priming our mind with their thoughts.

This is also the case with other environmental influences, like weather and landscape. Bright colors and warmth are associated with good feelings. Dark colors and cold are associated with negative feelings.  This is also confirmed with research.

So. The point of all my rambling was this: What message are you communicating? How are you being interpreted? You could make things much easier on yourself by adhering to certain customs and conventions. If you wanna make the rules, you have to first play and master the rules. If you don’t like certain customs, be a leader and change them. In order to do that, you first need to develop an affinity with people by submersing yourself in the signs of their conventions and customs. Do not overlook the details.

Also, I don’t mean be a conformist. I suppose this all needs more explaining.

Anyway. I’m done rambling.

Signs and Semantics

sign (n.) early 13c., “gesture or motion of the hand,” from O.Fr. signe “sign, mark, signature,” from L. signum “mark, token, indication, symbol,” from PIE base *sekw- “point out” (see ‘see’). Meaning “a mark or device having some special importance” is recorded from late 13c. Sense of “characteristic device attached to the front of an inn, shop, etc., to distinguish it from others” is first recorded mid-15c. Ousted native ‘token’.

There are a lot of fragmented thoughts swirling about my mind at the moment. I need to get them out in no particular order. Stream of consciousness:

I’ve been thinking a lot about people lately. People and social interaction. I’m surprised how many people aren’t aware of how their behavior affects the perceptions of other people. The world judges us. We judge the world. We have to. It’s a survival mechanism. First impressions go a long way, even if we train ourselves to be open, these impressions are a pretty reliable source to make evaluations.

Example: I see a guy whose clean-shaven, wearing a suit, nicely shined shoes. I can probably deduce he has a job that commands a level of respect. If I know he’s wearing a designer suit, wearing a Rolex and driving a luxury car, I don’t have to wonder if he’s a limo driver. He’s probably someone with money or important. In contrast, if you see a guy with a beard wearing a no name graphic T-shirt and tattered or dirty clothes, you’ll probably think he was a bum. Without any conversation you will form an opinion about that guy. If you are smart, you’ll wait till you have a conversation with him, but our first impressions are pretty reliable.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to communication recently. More specifically, the role of unspoken communication and appearance.

Communication is defined by the conveyance of signs, or symbols. What are signs? They are markers that convey meaning. Like a road sign. Like any sign. These signs themselves contain meaning. Gestures, symbols, noises: they all possess a normative levels of meaning. This meaning is conveyed to those who are familiar with the signs. The vast majority of signs are culturally rooted in language or social conventions. If you speak Chinese to me, I won’t be able to immediately interpret the meaning of the sign. It’ll be noise. If you speak English to me, I’ll immediately begin to interpret the meaning. Some signs traverse cultural divides, like facial gestures and body posture. The study and interpretation of these signs within a culture is called semiotic analysis.

semiotic: 1620s, of symptoms, from Gk. semeiotikos “significant,” also “observant of signs,” adj. form of semeiosis “indication,” from semeioun “to signal, to interpret a sign,” fromsema “sign.” Use in psychology dates to 1923.

When you become aware of how to leverage the meaning of these signs, through appearance and language, you learn how to leverage what meaning you convey to the world. A lot of people I talk to don’t give much thought to the signs they convey to the world. They are conditioned to think that because they don’t give it much thought, that it somehow doesn’t matter. I suppose this stems from a pervasive notion that being an individual and different is a good thing and valuable, and that everyone recognizes the value of their individualism. I don’t think this is the case.

Signs point to something. They yield significance. They categorize and elucidate meaning. Certain signs- like nice cars, classy wine, fine cheese, the New Yorker, a big house on a rolling lawn, a nice neighborhood, etc- indicate higher social status. Other signs- like cheap beer, cigarettes,  trailers homes, obesity, etc- indicate lower social status. There are countless other categories and subcategories in between. What makes someone a punk? Or Scene? Or Grunge? Or a Hipster? Or Goth? Preppy? A Jock? They all are classified by the signs they convey. The the language they use and the things they surround themselves with. How well we adopt the conventions and customs of a group dictates if or how quickly we are received by them. It seems intuitive, but it’s amazing how little thought people give to the messages they send to the world.

Language is a key component for breaking into a group. If you can adopt the conventions, cultural gestures, and standard definitions of their language, you will meet much less resistance, e.g. learn the linguistic nuances of their humor, how they use words to describe things, intonation, body language, and the like. Couple this with adopting their appearance and you’ll fit right in.

Context lays a big role in how these signs are interpreted. A road sign on the street conveys a much different meaning than a road sign hanging from the wall of someone’s room. On the street it adopts to the normative conventions of navigation that allow for safe driving. In a room it can be interpreted as a gesture of rebellion to the state or other social constructs.

I’ve spoken with quite a few friends about appearance. They insist that because they don’t think about what they wear, or don’t have any intention of representing a  message in their clothing, that they are absolved from the meaning that their style conveys. They think that just because they don’t explicitly endorse a style that they aren’t conveying meaning. This seems a bit shortsighted. The interpretation of signs is left to the interlocutor. Just because you intend to communicate the meaning of something does not mean that you have successfully communicated that intention to others who perceive you. Their semantic evaluations may differ quite a bit considering their experience with the signs you convey as a result of their social, economic, and cultural status, and even age.

Everything we do conveys meaning. Our senses are constantly working to process the sense data we receive and interpret possible meanings. This sense data works to interpret environmental markers that take on various visual, haptic, gustatory, olfactory, and auditory forms that give rise to signs. All the other senses require a certain proximity to be interpreted. Sight allows the interpretation of signs from a distance.

I’m inclined to believe that appearance plays a huge role social interaction and assimilation. Doesn’t matter if you are aware of it or not. We navigate our world by sight. Our vision is usually the first indicator of meaning. Our interpretation of that meaning dictates our response to that meaning.

Appearance commands our attention to cues. It primes our cognitions before we engage with a situation or a person. It prepares us for speech. If your goal is to seek respect and acceptance within a community it is necessary that you adopt the conventions and customs that certain signs represent.

As long as we interact with people, we are judged. Like it or not. The resistance to conform is just as much a statement, and a much more obvious statement, than the adoption of conventional norms.

Just because you don’t wear brand name clothing doesn’t mean you don’t convey meaning. To some it conveys low income. To others it may convey the statement that you are counter cultural, or just above it.

Society is stratified by class no matter how you cut it. Appearance often conveys a person’s class or position in society. It elucidates a person’s tastes and perferences, and those have significant meaning.

Gestures convey an internal state about a person. It is easy to notice a person who is shy simply by the way they stand, hesitate to engage in conversation, or their reluctance to make eye contact. The same goes for people who are sad or depressed. They retain a certain lethargy that pervades their actions: their figure is slouched, their eyes are ‘downcast’, they move slowly, their expression is drawn down. A happy person is energetic, they are ‘looking up’ both figuratively and literally. They are ready to engage the world. They have a smile that is ready to curl upwards at any moment. They world looks brighter and they see things with wonder and enthusiasm. Research here .

Posture is important. Power and authority is conveyed through standing erect, chest out, feet spread. Space is dominated, through gestures, eye contact, and even the volume and bold tone of their voice. They speak with decisiveness and deliberateness. Power and authority are conveyed through this confidence. Power and authority invade space, as if to say ‘I have a right to be here’. It does not hesitate. It infringes on and engages with as much space as possible.

Eye contact is an interesting extension of this power and authority. When men stare at each other they convey their power by occupying the space within their vision. This seems to challenge their power and authority in an intimidating way. Many people become reactive and confrontational as a result of this challenge. Perhaps this is why public speaking causes people to become so anxious. It challenges their power and authority, it causes them to question themselves and doubt. It’s like public eyes sap the power and authority of their words.

Posture conveys power and authority. If you want to appear sure of yourself, of the power and authority of your being, your posture must convey steadfastness, sturdiness, dominance. It must communicate a willingness to engage without hesitation. Walking with a purpose in your step, shaking hands with firmness, eye contact that looks at the core of a person, an erectness that elevates your stature, a stance that is squared and balanced.

Hygiene plays a role as well. We take care of the things we care about by ensuring their maintenance and cleanliness and repair. We must give ourselves the same respect.

Respect is attributive to value. We attribute respect to things we deem valuable and, more often than not, we attribute respect to things other’s deem valuable. People give us the same respect we give to ourselves. When we fail to respect ourselves, others will fail to respect us. We must respect ourselves if we wish to communicate our value to others.

It is difficult to respect things that have no or little value. If you  want others to respect you, you must respect yourself. This requires that you see yourself as valuable. You must love and appreciate that value, not in a narcissistic way, but a way that communicates a genuine respect and purpose. If you want someone to love you, you must love yourself. Cliche, yes, but nonetheless true.  You must be someone who is worth loving.

Just as our behavior conveys our internal states, it also shapes internal states. By assuming certain behaviors or postures, your psychology changes according to your physiological posture. If you smile, you can’t help but feel happy. Your brain literally generates endorphins as if it was happy. If you make yourself laugh, you can’t help but feel good. Your brain releases the happy neurotransmitters just as if you were laughing. If you stand up tall and straight, you will feel confident.  Same goes for less desirable states like depression. If you slouch, look at the ground, talk slow and in a low voice, you will literally become sadder, and your energy levels will seem to disappointed. Your body reactions to your physiological behaviors and positions. Research has continually confirmed this, as seen here and here.

The subconscious is a powerful mechanism. Our actions and reactions are primed and pre-load according to the our recent cogitations. There is a quote that illustrates this:

“When we change the way we look at the world, the world we look at changes.”

When we are thinking positive or optimistic thoughts, we are much more apt to interpret the world through the lens of those words. If we read a group of words like “ugly, foul, haggard, wicked, etc”, then look at photos of neutral scenes or people and report our emotional response, our reactions correlate with these words. We might take longer to assess a picture of something beautiful, or rate it less favorably than we would otherwise. The same works for positive thoughts. Surround yourself with only the most positive thoughts, people, or environmental cues and you will prime your brain to see things through that lens. Research supports this. Other research confirms this with how we interpret smells.

Not only do our ruminations and reflections prime these responses, but our environment shapes it quite a bit. The people and friends we surround ourselves’ with exposes our mind to their thoughts. These invasive thoughts shape our perception by priming our mind with their thoughts.

This is also the case with other environmental influences, like weather and landscape. Bright colors and warmth are associated with good feelings. Dark colors and cold are associated with negative feelings.  This is also confirmed with research.

So. The point of all my rambling was this: What message are you communicating? How are you being interpreted? You could make things much easier on yourself by adhering to certain customs and conventions. If you wanna make the rules, you have to first play and master the rules. If you don’t like certain customs, be a leader and change them. In order to do that, you first need to develop an affinity with people by submersing yourself in the signs of their conventions and customs. Do not overlook the details.

Also, I don’t mean be a conformist. I suppose this all needs more explaining.

Anyway. I’m done rambling.

Language and Influence

I’ve found that affinity is the ruling thumb for relations. If one has an affinity for something, or someone, he is much more apt to practice the principle of charity, or the principle of rational accommodation. These principles, simply stated, constrain us towards maximal agreement of the truth or rationality of our interlocutors sayings. When we have an affinity towards our interlocutor, we extend them the same ratiocination we attribute to ourselves. Many times, depending on the content and context, we are willing to extend complete maximal agreement and suspend our rationality altogether in favor of the interlocuters reasoning. While we do not lose our ability to reason altogether, we allow our past experiences to lose the legitimate foothold they once had on our reasoning. This exchange of reasoning leads one to substitute a quasi-faith, backed by new justifications, as the topical foundation of thought.

This affinity hinges on a number of personal and societal attributions, specifically: perceived authority, perceived utility, and reciprocal value.

When we behold the words of a perceived authority figure, their words have much greater weight, and the principle of charity is extended far more maximally towards their truth and rationality. Some examples of spoken titles that confer this authority in the mind include: Professor, Mister, Doctor, Sir, Father (Priest), Mother (Nun), President, His Majesty, etc. Similarly, written titles serve in the same capacity: Phd, MD, JD, MHS, CEO, Pres, etc.  Notice that each title specifies, directly or indirectly, their area of authority. Some being more narrow, while others more encompassing. Their area of authority prompts our willingness to extend the principle of charity, and accept their reasoning as rational and true.

In many situations societal conventions fail to provide recognizable markers that identify and designate widespread belief in this authority. In these cases reputations do the work to legitimize a person’s authority.

The utility of adopting an others reasoning, or propositional attitudes, is borne out of the necessity for self preservation. One assimilates conventions, standards, and semantics according to the utility they serve one’s ends or aims. Unless these aims and ends create wholly new demands for others, they are usually left dictated by the community

The perceived reciprocal value relates to utility, but in a much more internal capacity. Human relations serve not only to aid in the maintenance of an extrinsic state, but a person’s intrinsic state. This internal state regulates all other activity in our life and deals with matters of self-esteem and emotional well being. Reciprocal value is a shared mutuality that supplements the core of relations, such as good will and trustworthiness. Reciprocity’s facilitation of trust acts as a principle support for the formation of community. This community is necessary for the feeling of place.

Death

When a person experiences death, it is not them who dies, but the world that dies to them. When we experience death, it is not that we die, it is the world, our world, that dies.  We do not stop happening to the world; the world stops happening to us.

In a moment I will continue writing my novel and finish my 1700 words for the day. This business of writing has allowed me to focus my energies by causing me to command thought and action at will. The goal to write every day, do or die, has forced me to produce without hesitation.

What I Have Lived For

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

Bertrand Russell -What I Have Lived For, The Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography

Experience

Your mind is a vacuum. Don’t clog it with filth.

Well. It’s three in the morning. I’ve written close to six thousand words in two days. Not a terribly astonishing feat. This whole book writing process will prove to be a novel experience (no pun intended). It’s about the only thing on my mind at the moment. Not exactly conducive for managing studies and extracurricular commitments. Writing a book is difficult. I feel like in order to produce a single book, you have to write about three times its length, at least, in order to clarify and construct the themes and content, not to mention all the prose and poetics. I could see myself rewriting entire chapters over again. Half the process is simply getting the material out. It feels great though.

I had a long conversation with a friend this evening. We stood in the parking lot and discussed the merit of ‘new experiences’ and deriving value from these experiences. We can’t do it all, so we must choose to manage our time and our experiences wisely. What experiences do we choose? What goals? Who is setting these goals? Am I choosing, or am I letting some other force- such as peer influence, parents, or culture at large- deciding their value for me? Are all experiences equally valuable? Potentially equally valuable? Being a subjective judgement, no experience has inherent value as it’s only the value we give it (Perhaps life is valuable? But who’s or what’s? To whom?) Can we choose what we value? Where do we draw the line for experiences? Those that don’t lend to accomplishing long term goals? Short term? What is your long term goal? To be a cog in the system? (Or an intricate organism in the ecology of capitalism- more pleasing to the ears) To be more fully human? What are we trying to achieve with these goals? Happiness? Contributions to mankind? Why? Who decided that your current goal was a contribution?  Say we decided that a utilitarian approach yields the best answer, and we use a cost benefit analysis to examine the short and long term pros and cons of each experience we decided to undertake. Is experience life? Is experience a sampling of reality? A snapshot, a crude distillation of what reality is about? If life is a continual experience, and we are one perspective, one sampling of this reality, won’t more experience bring us closer to understanding the full nature of reality?  More traveling, more people, more relationships, readying, studying, reflecting, confronting, risking? Just as collecting all the worlds knowledge, past and present, will lead us to the most accurate illustration of reality? There is no reality to speak of without a mind to behold it and speak it. The more minds, the fuller picture of reality we acquire? The more we engage experience- life, perspectives- the more fully we understand reality? Or is this all wrong? Can man have faulty paradigms that taint his experience and render it useless? just as a faulty camera will not take more accurate pictures of the world no matter how many pictures it takes?

So I am interested in changing paradigms, changing the lens with which peole view the world. How is this acquired? Through new experiences? Possibly. Reflection? Possibly. Study and knowledge acquisition? Possibly.  I want to be able to understand the human condition, nature, and reality, from the objective, subjective, and inter subjective sense. I want to submerse myself with these insights, synthesize them, and disseminate them into the world.

Cafe People Watching

A man lounges, ensconced between the pillows of a kitsche floral couch. He grunts to himself. Slurps his saliva in. My eyes stare ahead, grazing over his floating figure. His erratic gesticulations break the room’s silent concentration. Out dribbles the occasional inaudible sentence, followed by intermittent hysteric giggles. Everyone ignores his presence. His face is crevassed and leathered, callous and hairy. Hairs everywhere: nestled between the overwhelming folds of his skin, protruding from under his shirt, poking from his ears. He slumps behind his laptop and fingers the corners of his simpering mouth. Just beyond the couch, prim blonde women sit at a table.