What is a Poet?

“What is a Poet? To whom does he address himself? And what language is to be expected from him? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events, yet (especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful) do more nearly resemble the passions produced by real events, than any thing which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in themselves; whence, and from practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.”
—William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Lyrical Ballads

American Mind: Independence and Social Consciousness

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

—Martin Niemöller

Our culture suffers from a serious malady: social myopia. We believe our self-reliance to be greater than our reliance on fellow men. We think of ourselves as lone islands rather than contiguous continents.

Our independent mind is a serious insult to our social consciousness. We see ourselves as independent from our fellow man. As social creatures, we are a product of our society: every facet, good and bad. Every individual is a cell apart of communities. Together we are the tissues that comprise the institutional organs of the greater organism that is our country and world. To see other people’s problems as though they are independent of ours is to deny the makeup your consciousness: you are an amalgam of inherited traditions—of thoughts and beliefs— passed down through long histories of struggle. To deny someone else’s struggle is to deny the origin of your own traditions, to deny the genesis of your strength.

“Some legislators only wish to vengeance against a particular enemy. Others only look out for themselves. They devote very little time on the consideration of any public issue. They think that no harm will come from their neglect. They act as if it is always the business of somebody else to look after this or that. When this selfish notion is entertained by all, the commonwealth slowly begins to decay. ”
― Thucydides

The notion of competition has been distorted: our primary enemy is ourselves. True success is contingent upon overcoming yourself, not others. The process of overcoming personal weakness is transcendental; it allows us to evolve towards a higher plane of consciousness, a plane that becomes a new plenum of human potential that others can look to for inspiration, for overcoming their own situation, their own weakness.

Society is a product of mutual affections, a creation of collaboration. The cliche still stands: you are as strong as your weakest link. When we see the failures of others, and fail to improve their condition by extending a hand, in the form of loving counsel or generous support or wise words, we become the failure: we embody the problem.

Occupy wall street is our problem. Poverty is our problem. Crime is our problem. People are our problem. The social world is as much of the objective reality we live in as any other natural phenomenon. We create the world we live in by improving upon the condition of humanity. We enlarge this world through dialogue, through humble understanding, through empathetic motives to improve our condition by improving the condition of others, by subjugating our hubris, our insecure ego, and realizing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You are a part, I am a part, society is the whole, life is the whole, quality living is the whole. We must elevate the parts if we are to realize the greatness of the whole.

If we want to fully awaken humanity we must first fully awaken ourselves, said Tzu. Be the change you see in the world, said Ghandi. We must be salt unto the earth, said Jesus.

Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained… now everywhere is war.
—Haile Selassie I Of Ethiopia


Monetary Policy and Inequality: Target Inflation, Wages, and Unemployment

I should describe the human race
as a strange species of bipeds
who cannot run fast enough
to collect the money
which they owe themselves
—Don Marquis

So I was in class listening to a discussion regarding the natural rate of unemployment this week and I had some serious issues I needed to think through. I wanted to question the methodology for determining unemployment’s so called “natural rate”, specifically the use of the Non-accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) analysis for the natural rate of unemployment and the actual accuracy of the Phillips curve, which states  pi = pi_e - b(U-U_n) + v , . In this model π and πe are the inflation and expected inflation, respectively; b is a positive constant; U is unemployment, and Un is the natural rate of unemployment, or NAIRU; v is unexpected exogenous shocks to the world supply. (*See the end of the post for a note on the old model)

Without going into all the details, there are two crucial assumptions built into the concept of NAIRU: first, that inflation is self-perpetuating; second, that unemployment is inversely related to inflation , so that as unemployment goes down, inflation goes up, and vice versa.

The basic NAIRU analysis assumes that when inflation increases workers and employers account for expectations of higher inflation and create contracts that matches the expected level of price inflation to maintain constant real wages. That is, they expect high inflation and counter up their wages to maintain a constant level of real wages. Thus, to prevent ever increasing wages through contract bargaining due to higher labor demand, the analysis requires accelerating inflation to maintain a targeted unemployment level (hence the central bank target inflation rate).

The implicit assumption is that workers and employers cannot contract to incorporate accelerating inflation into wage expectations. However, there is no explicit justification for assuming that expectations or contract structures are limited in this way, aside from the fact that these wage arrangements are not commonly observed. Given a scenario with low unemployment, i.e. a higher demand for labor, why wouldn’t they adjust their wage expectations to reflect accelerating inflation? Why must the wage contracts lead to runaway wage increases and thus self-perpetuating inflation?

I want to challenge these fundamental assumptions. Why is inflation necessarily self-perpetuating? Why does low unemployment necessitate runaway inflation? Why couldn’t inflation rise initially and level off after these increases in inflation are incorporated into expectations?

My greater question is how the use of the Phillips curve (and the Taylor rule) negatively impacts monetary policy decisions. What is the consequence of a target rate of inflation? What is the impact of high employment on real rages? Does increasing globalization and world competition limit the ability of American firms to raise prices, and prevent workers from pushing for higher wages? Maybe this makes up more competitive globally, but what of the real-wage’s impact on domestic aggregate demand? How can we sustain growth if we can’t afford to buy domestic goods?

When I asked my professor about these questions, specifically regarding the relationship between inflation and unemployment, his answer was less than satisfactory. He responded that, yes, inflation is artificially created by the federal reserve, but the major increases of inflation are due to money supply shocks, such as those created by oil shocks. I continued imploring: If unemployment and inflation are linked, how is it that real-wages have not increased in more than three decades? How is this possible that inflation has persisted, that goods have continued rising in price, and that GDP has continued to grow and increase, yet no one has seen a rise in earnings? What’s happening here that I don’t understand?

More plainly, how the hell does our economy continue growing if prices are increasing, yet peoples wages, their buying power, has not?? How are we buying increasingly expensive goods if we don’t have any more money to buy them with? What is fueling our GDP growth for Christs sake?

But my professor wavered, he went on and on about money supply shocks and what not. I actually don’t think he could see the connection I was making, and given that class had been over for ten minutes and his next class was filing in to fill the seats, I could only express my appreciation to him for entertaining and clarifying my confusion which, in the latter case, he did not.

Of course, my convicted intuition is that debt is how, that people have been living on less and less, that necessary consumption has increased and surplus or luxury consumption has decreased. If you look at inflation, debt, and savings rate data, this is clear as day. In my mind, increasing debt and over leveraging have been sustaining domestic consumption for the past several decades. This is the only explanation for how an economy can maintain rising inflation and stagnating wages, yet increase its GDP. This is ALSO why I suspect we’re struggling as an economy right now, why our unemployment is so high and our demand is so low: after the recent recession there was a collapse in the debt market, specifically involving the housing market, and people experienced a massive shock to their balance sheets when the value of their net assets, like tied up in their homes, essentially dried up overnight. The hardest hit were those with large debt balances. Many people were forced to cut back consumption to pay off the massive debt they accrued for a house that’s significantly less valued than when they bought it. In order to get their finances in order and repair their impaired balance sheets households had to cut back consumption. This resulted in the drop in consumer demand we’re experiencing today. Though it’s all interrelated, this may be a little beside the point.

My main contention is this: monetary policy is ruining our country. The federal reserve is operating on behalf of corporate interests rather than in terms of the well being of the citizens at large.

What is the consequences of a target inflation rate of 2-3% in order to keep unemployment at 4-5%? The higher the unemployment, the lower demand for labor, and the lower the wage bargaining power. People can’t demand higher wages if there’s a surplus of workers desperately pandering for the same job: High supply means low demand. If we never allow for low unemployment, never experience a high demand for labor, wages will not increase because workers possess no wage bargaining power; that is, there’s no demand for hiring additional workers, especially at the wages they request to live on. The result? Wage stagnation (WSJ). Familiar?

I have much more to say, and perhaps I didn’t even say my intuitions too clearly here.

I’ll end by saying that I think financial liberalization, inflationary targets, and institutional bargaining power are the cause of wage inequality, debt, and unemployment. Basically all our problems.

I know there’s the whole international competition thing, but I don’t like the assumptions built into the NAIRU and the Phillips curve. I believe they are plain wrong.

*I’ll elaborate and expand on why is this significant later, specifically regarding the use of coefficients: The older Phillips curve, as the long run expectation equilibrium, states [ gP = [1/(1 − λ)]·(−f(U − U*) + gUMC) ] In this model: gp is the price inflation rate; f() function is assumed to be monotonically increasing; U is unemployment; U* is the NAIRU;  λ represents the degree to which employees can gain money wage increases to keep up with expected inflation, preventing a fall in expected real wage, and is presumed constant during any time periods; gPex is the expected inflation rate).



I think my goal in life is failure. Not giving up, just failure. In some small way I feel like my failure is a form of protest to everyone who believes succeeding is the only path to success. I relish in failure. Does it get me down? Sure. Does it rack my nerves and breed incessant stress? Sometimes. But in my mind, failure is the pinnacle. It is the zenith of boldness. No one likes being wrong. No one likes losing. And that’s a good thing when you’re trying to survive. But to thrive? That is reserved for dismal failure. Everytime I fail, I know myself better than before. I know my weakness. I get to know my strengths. I blanket my ignorance as I expand my vision. I want to say fuck it all to the world and their ideas about what a moral and good life should look like. What is individuality and uniqueness anyway? Doesn’t someone have some balls to fail and continue doing it anyway? Conventional wisdom tells us to stop doing what isn’t working. Then you’d never figure it out, never come up with some shining gem of clarity. Does anyone figure it out? Is there a right way? Is there a right way to live? To feel? To think? Where is the god damn originality? You don’t find it in lock step formation, won’t find it in cadent conformity. I want to disagree. I want to revolt. I want to do it my own way, on my own path, and have my own goals, my goals, no one elses. No one is going to tell me what is good for me. That’s for me to figure out. The kind words are heard and I appreciate the attempts to normalize me, but I want to live wildly. Not pander to the consensus. Life. God damn life. Sometimes it wears me out. Sometimes I wear me out. I always wear me out. Is that good? I dunno. I like to think it toughens me up. Stretches me. Forces me to grow into wide open places, forces me to contort into cramped little spaces. Our miniature lives. Out little skulls, our plush petty homes, adorned with everybody else’s thoughts, accessorized with everybody else’s needs. But my will is a razor. No. More cutting edge: a laser. Pure energy, a beam of protons that illuminates and cuts through everything simultaneously, that generates warmth and pierces into the open sky, across the universe. Until it lands on some object, some obstacle just waiting to be decimated by my energy. How to be original? I’ve abandoned society, their illusory ideals and dreams. They’re intimidating. Foreboding. Oppressive. The victim. The victim. The victim. Struggle generates strength. You struggle under the domination, or you struggle to dominate. Both mentalities yield some good. I bullshit. I bull shit and I bite and write. Do what you love? Well I love expressing myself. I may not have a Phd. I may not have awards. Accolades extolling my achievements. Pretty gold stars or pins and ribbons to wear around, to flaunt my success, to affirm my worth, to communicate my value. I could care less about that approval. I don’t need dirty little hands fixing material merit to my work. I can do that. Feeling is the most original thing we possess. Not thoughts. Feelings. Those wormy squirmy gushes of life. God knows none of my thoughts are original. But my feelings? You’re god damn right they’re my own. And I don’t need anyone telling me my feelings are wrong. I want to figure out why they’re wrong, for myself. I know I’m blind. I know I’m deaf. I don’t need crutches. I can walk and move around just fine. Let me grope around until I’ve felt what’s around me with my own two hands, until I’ve found the light and can see with my own two eyes. I appreciate the pain of bumping into obstacles. Scraping my knees. It’s apart of the play, part of the adventure. And life is one big jungle gym. A massive forest for me to hang and swing and climb on, to carve my own home from, a place where I can spin my own cocoon, with my own web of words, and dig my own burrows deep into the earth to crawl about and explore. I like the dark damp places. That’s where all the secrets lie. In the mud. The dirt. Under the verdure, beneath the variegated vegetation carpeting the surface, deep inside the womb, mother earth, where all things lose their unique form and become one. Pretty things never stay pretty for long. They all get beaten and pulverized into bits, they dessicate and decay and die. Then they return to the earth. With the dirt. With the mud. With all those creatures that make it their home. I’m one of those creatures. The sun draws forth life from the mud, creates dazzling distinctions from the nutrient soil; yet unsavory organisms misplace their roots and foible their footing, lose sense of where they came, from the unity under it all; then the sun becomes the enemy and its rays rot and ruin the beauty. The earth preserves, it retains the essence of all things; it is the heart that springs forth the beating life. Let me bring the light into the world, not vice versa. Let me extend into the earth, not into the sky. Let me beat onward. From dust to dust.

manifestum philosophiae

I want to start a culture. Specifically, a school of thought. This school will operate independently from any existing cultural institution; moreover, it will remain free from the influence of any existing governmental, religious, academic, or community organization. It will be a community school ipso facto, a social organism composed of collaborating individuals. To attend, you must be a participating citizen who lives and works within the community.

The following is a preliminary framework in which this culture will embody:

This evolving draft is the culmination of all the principles of wisdom I have distilled throughout my life.

These are the core ideas embodying this manifesto: Subjective, Objective, Synthetic, Exponential, Evolution.


I exist. Specifically: the statement I exist posits the objective from the subjective.

Existence is paradox.

Paradox is contradiction. Specifically: Paradox is conflict.

Within the space of the present moment is duality:  a priori and a posteriori: infinite and finite, divisible and indivisible, continuum and locus, composite and prime, even and odd, whole and part, totality and partiality, relation and position, dimension and point, possibility and necessity, subjective and objective, relationship and entity, essence and existence, type and population, abstract and concrete, concept and fact, mental and physical, inclusive and exclusive, spiritual and corporeal, mind and body, passion and reason, deduction and induction, wisdom and knowledge, intrinsic and extrinsic, holism and perspective, monism and pluralism, conclusion and premise, God and man, ad inifinitum. (Consider exploring the following: sufficient and necessary, antecedent and consequent, fluid and static, life and death, )

Composite is the whole.

Prime is the parts.

The greatest number is one, 1. Specifically: One establishes a subjective perspective.

The second greatest number is two, 2. Specifically: Two establishes an objective perspective.

Each subjective perspective establishes a relationship with the other. Specifically: the apprehension of a second perspective is impressive.

Being the first odd prime number, three, 3, Δ, is the most divine, the most excellent, the strongest.  exemplī grātiā: triangle, logic (two premises, third conclusion), et cetera.

The number three represents change, as delta, Δ.

Given two points, any third point may be deduced. Specifically: given an infinite series of points, the existence of any two points establish a third point. More precisely: Presented with a third, the established relationship between any two exclusive subjective perspectives establishes an inclusive objective whole. The triangle signifies this inclusive relationship, Δ.


terminus a quo: all “matter” exists as static energy. Specifically: “matter” is equivalent to static energy.

Energy is present totality. Specifically: energy is the existing universe.

Energy is an indirectly observed quantity. Quantity is an assigned value, a symbol denoting a numerically assigned point of magnitude or multitude.

Energy is observed as a transference, a change, Δ, in state, between objects.

“Matter” is an object that occupies space and possesses mass.

Space is the n-dimensional extent dictated by underlying structures within a boundless continuum in which objects and events possess a relative position and direction. Specifically: Space is context.

Mass is a quantitative measure of an object’s resistance to change, Δ. Specifically, the greater the mass: the greater the inertia; the greater the gravity, ergo the greater resistance to change.


terminus a quo: the universe exists in perpetual flux. Specifically: the natural world exists as continual change. 

Flux is change.

Change is exponential. Specifically: change is signified by increasing returns. More precisely, change: progresses or regresses, increases or decreases, expands or contracts, develops or diminishes.

Where there is no change, there is equilibrium. Specifically, the absence of change is: homeostasis, preservation, status quo, routine, habit.


terminus a quo: all life, all living organisms, exist under a single axiom: “Self-preservation”. Specifically: the preservation of body and/or mind.  More precisely: the preservation of the living organism’s body or mind; genetic or psychological information. “Self-preservation” is homeostasis.

“Self-preservation” is the product of evolution. Specifically: the ability of an individual organism to adapt to its natural world. More precisely: the capacity of an individual organism to adapt to the context in which it is presently situated.

Adaptation is evolution. Specifically: Adaptation is flourishing. Ergo, evolution is flourishing.


The ideal culture must embody two axiomatic principles: “Know thyself” and “I know that I know nothing”.

Combined together they form paradox. 

Paradox is conflict, contradiction. The presence of paradox produces the elemental state of the evolutionary life: synthesis.

Synthesis is creation. Specifically: understanding, resolution, harmony, union, learning.


Regarding the first axiomatic principle: to “know thyself” requires apprehension of self. Specifically: acknowledging the extent or bounds of your individual subjective consciousness. The subjective consciousness is finite part.Thus, terminus a quo, “know thyself” is finite knowledge. It exists in parts and i through action, through experimentation, through testing of your self, your reactions.

Regarding the second axiomatic principle: “I know that I know nothing” requires apprehension of world. Specifically: the extent of the general objective world.  The objective world is infinite whole. Thus, terminus a quo, “I know that I know nothing” is ignorance.

Thus, the synthesis of the first two axiomatic principles is paradox. 


The process of mental evolution, termed “learning” or “education”, will embody a key tenant: “praxis“. More precisely: a posteriori inductive experience and a priori deductive reflection. Specifically: action and reflection, empiricism and theory, experimentation and hypothesis, divergence and convergence, doing and thinking.

Praxis embodies two features: “novel experience” and “meditative reflection”. More precisely: broad stimulating exposure and deep introspective thought. Specifically: gathering new sensation and establishing existing memory.


Synthesis is a process that individuates conscious experience, holistic phenomenal consciousness, individual subjective perspective.

The external world provides the parts. The internal world provides the whole. The process of synthesis occurs through reflection.

Synthesis is a product of the will to power.


Will to power is a manifestation of the first axiom: “self-preservation”. Specifically: will to power is the manifested intention to “self-preserve”.

Will to power is the driving mechanism of the process of synthesis. Specifically: synthesis is a result, a consequence, a corollary, a conclusion

Will to power is produced through a conflict of intention: through struggle, through frustration, through challenges, through obstacles, through pain, through confusion.


Conflict is exists either externally or internally. Specifically: the phenomenon of conflict exists a posterior experience or a priori thought; body or mind.

Conflict of intention achieves synthesis through active inquiry, through inquisition, through curiosity, through wonder, through asking questions.

Critical inquiry or critical thinking is the process of recalling the two axiomatic principles as a means of identifying subjective theory, or latent mental assumptions, and criticizing or challenging new experience or information about the world.


Recall: The more mass the more resistance to change.

The Genius of Wandering Minds

I just finished reading a study titled The Persistence of Thought which examined the relationship between a working memory (WM) and inattention, specifically the maintenance of task-unrelated thinking (TUT). The subjects of the study were given a standard test for working memory and performed a series of undemanding computer simulated tasks. People with higher WM scores reported more episodes of mind wandering in TUT. The study reported: “We found that individuals with higher WM capacity reported more TUT in undemanding tasks, which suggests that WM enables the maintenance of mind wandering.”

While correlation does not prove causation, I am left wondering whether increasing the working memory of individuals results in an increase of mind wandering. This would seem to be the case. Likewise, what role does task difficulty play? The article begins by saying that “tasks that tax WM have consistently been found to decrease mind wandering.” The study revealed that individual’s with greater working memory reported the task to be easier. Does increasing the task difficulty improve performance?

Past research has consistently revealed a strong link between working memory and intelligence.

I am curious how this relates to the phenomenon of ADHD, the protypical example of a wandering mind.

In the past cognitive testing attributed a deficient working memory with ADHD symptoms, leading them to believe that a poor working memory was the cause of distraction. Researchers have identified neurochemicals, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine, as a key feature of understanding ADHD symptoms, and that with the supplementation of dopamine enhancing drugs working memory improves and attention returns.

Perhaps the indication of reward dictates improved performance on attention-related tasks? Perhaps a greater challenge poses a greater reward, and thus better performance?

Is school too easy for individuals with ADHD? Too unstimulating and unchallenging? Is the environment of formal education unsuited for ADHD learning?

Research has found neural hyperactivity is associated with individuals diagnosed with ADHD, as well as a host of other mental disorders that have been historically attributed to creative genius. (See Neurology of ADHD Is there evidence for neural compensation in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a valid diagnosis in the presence of high IQ?)

Along these lines, I found this study particularly interesting: “Task-related changes in cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the men without ADHD were more prominent in the frontal and temporal regions, but rCBF changes in men with ADHD were more widespread and primarily located in the occipital regions.” Researchers observed diffused cCBF in individuals with ADHD, rather than accute rCBF in those without.

The results showed that: “Men without ADHD demonstrated significant time-related rCBF increases in the anterior cingulate and medial frontal regions (Brodmann area 32/10) and decreases in the left middle frontal regions (Brodmann area 9). Men with ADHD showed significant time-related decreases in the left middle (Brodmann area 21) temporal lobe and increases in the right lenticulate, left parahippocampal gyrus (Brodmann area 35/36), and bilateral cerebellum.”

The anterior cingulate: It appears to play a role in a wide variety of autonomic functions, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rate, as well as rational cognitive functions, such as reward anticipation, decision-making, empathy and emotion.

The medial frontal regions (Brodmann area 32/10):  Dorsal region of anterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann area 32) is associated with rational thought processes, most notably active during the Stroop task.  Rostral prefrontal cortex (approximating Brodmann area 10) has been shown repeatedly to have a role in the maintenance and realization of delayed intentions that are triggered by event cues (i.e., event-based prospective memory).

The left middle (Brodmann area 21) temporal lobe: a region believed to play a part in auditory processing and language

The right lenticulate (See Data)

The left parahippocampal gyrus (Brodmann area 35/36):  The perirhinal cortex (Brodmann area 35/36) receives highly-processed sensory information from all sensory regions, and is generally accepted to be an important region for memory. The perirhinal cortex is involved in both visual perception and memory; it facilitates the recognition and identification of environmental stimuli. Lesions to the perirhinal cortex in both monkeys and rats lead to the impairment of visual recognition memory, disrupting stimulus-stimulus associations and object-recognition abilities. The perirhinal cortex’s role in the formation and retrieval of stimulus-stimulus associations (and in virtue of its unique anatomical position in the medial temporal lobe) suggest that it is part of a larger semantic system that is crucial for endowing objects with meaning.

The bilateral cerebellum: the basic function of the cerebellum is not to initiate movements, or to decide which movements to execute, but rather to calibrate the detailed form of a movement.

What are the implications?


On another unrelated note, I found this study, titled Structural brain variation and general intelligence, very interesting as well. The “results underscore the distributed neural basis of intelligence and suggest a developmental course for volume–IQ relationships in adulthood.” As in, nurture over nature.

I’ve touched on these ideas many times before, specifically: Neural Hyperactivity: Genius and Deviant Psychology and Thoughts: Novelty, Education, Society, Theory

pars pro toto

If there were ever a greater vocation as the critique of the soul, embodied by reason, I should not have found it. The great lattices in which experience hangs need ever to be trimmed through thoughtful reflection.

The spoon of time laps up our lives much in the same way love laps up our desires.

Hunger empties the vessel.

And we find ourselves carbonated by the wellspring of life; bloated by gulp; satisfied by taste.

Open windows breath steady songs into my room; the canopy of imagination jettisons dark ruminations, lifting my chest and my chin; I inhale the oxygen of spring; its cool streams cleanse these porous portals of nature, igniting the beacon that stretches into her world; and the veil dissolves.

There is a world that lives behind your eye.

You Are the Company You Keep: Intellectual Circles, Herd Mentality, and American Education

This post is in reference to what I perceive as the failings of the modern education system to produce a future generation of free thinking problem solvers. 

I need to find a location— a city or neighborhood or institution or some central hub— where I can devote my time exclusively to reading, reflecting, and writing my thoughts— full time, every day. In sum, I want to dedicate myself to exploring my curiosities and passions and cultivating my understanding. I just can’t get enough. Attending the University is great but I’m thoroughly disenchanted with its cold methods of inculcation. My attitude may not be too charitable towards what it does offer, which you could argue is quite a bit, such as a free “top-notch” education, plenty of free time, a spectrum of diverse courses, access to libraries and research databases, and even close contact with great minds like the professors and peers I interact with daily. And many would be quick to point out how fortunate I am, and I would agree. But these seem to be superficial attributes of the advertised variety you’d find at just about any academic institution, not just the best, so what makes my academic institution better than all the rest? Why is it considered one of the best Universities? And why does that mean so little to me? Allow me to digress momentarily and explain.

First, the best universities are ranked incredibly high. Why are they ranked so high? Looking at a few of the major aspects contributing to ranking methodology, say for US News and World Report, we find seven seven broad categories:

“peer assessment; graduation and retention rates; faculty resources (for example, class size); student selectivity (for example, average admissions test scores of incoming students); financial resources; alumni giving; and, only for national universities and national liberal arts colleges, graduation rate performance and high school counselor undergraduate academic reputation ratings.” [USNWR]

Essentially these criteria “reflect the quality of students, faculty, and other resources used in education, and outcome measures.”

Without going into all the details, let me tell you what this all boils down to: location, perceived prestige and/or authority, and money. Most important, I posit, is money. Location is typically dictated by proximity to a city which provides access to agglomeration economies and human capital, both factors of wealth production, rather than any specific geographic concern (Silicon Valley?). In sum, they’re located in information hubs.

The latter two features—prestige and money— maintain a reciprocal relationship. Why? Because the more money an institution has, the better resources and funding, and this means better faculty and students. Faculty are attracted to the pay, research funding, expensive technology, and nice facilities. A higher concentration of quality faculty with access to quality resources  means a higher quantity and/or quality of research output. This, of course, translates into more federal and private research grants for the academic institution, adding to research output, which in turn improves rankings, i.e. prestige and authority. This in turn attracts more talented faculty and so on and so forth.

In any society, cultural capital is the currency of opportunity, and institutions are the manufacturers of that currency. The scarcity and quality of that cultural capital determines the perceived prestige and authority of the institution and ergo the cultural capital it produces.

Students, particularly the highest achievers, are attracted to the institution’s prestige for obvious career and academic reasons. They are fully aware of the benefits of going to a top ranked school: good for the resume, top notch professors, and high achieving peers. They’re also drawn for more base reasons, such as a pretty campus, nice facilities, and convenient comfortable amenities.

The result of this reciprocal relationship is an emergent complexity that produces increasing returns, and it’s a product of self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms. The genesis of these mechanisms? Wealth. More precisely, the scarcity of a perceived value. And the very best universities possess the very best rankings in proportion to their wealth, first and foremost, followed by their prestige and authority (The Cost of Excellence).

So, without going off on a tangent and getting into too many of the details, my complaint is this: nowadays, at its heart, the university isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be. The students of these universities are considered the best, but only because, in the vast majority of cases, they excelled at standardized testing. And standardized testing breeds conformity, undermines creativity, and deters independent thinking. (See Contradictions in School Reform). Furthermore, standardized testing is directly correlated with family income (College Board 2009; NYT for summary). It would seem that, rather than an indicator of a students intrinsic zeal for problem solving and enthusiasm for understanding, standardized testing is merely a reflection of the opportunities provided ad hoc by a students socioeconomic class. This immediately raises the issue of utility granted to education as a great equalizer, showing itself instead as a mechanism that functionally breeds inequality.

The by and large result? A homogeneous group of wealthy students devoid of creative critical thinking skills who are proficient at spitting out answers to pre-formulated questions. This is a generalization, of course, but I maintain the conclusion speaks for itself, reflecting the research data as well as my personal experience. In many regards this is a good thing. After all, these students are the best at regurgitating valuable cultural capital, all the answers to all the questions already coined by society. It is the role of education institutions to disseminate this cultural capital, this social knowledge. I argue they do it very, very well.  Too well.

My discontents lie in the way the system is set up. There is no balance. Yes, you need to have excellent technical knowledge of existing subjects before you can begin discussing ways of solving the problems they produce. But I want to reference a powerful quote by the iconic Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Upon reading this quote I can’t help but relate to the issues undertaken by the philosophy of science. Specifically those delineated by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as well as the notable debates between Irme Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend. Similar to Kuhn’s theory of paradigms, Lakatos also considered the nature of prevailing thought encompassing a discipline, which he reffered to as research programs. He argued that the paradigms or research programs dominating a current discipline are established as a result of the novel contributions of genius, like Galileo and Newton and Einstein, which offer a revised framework for solving problems. Each research program possesses a unique set of puzzles, or problems and questions, that can only be solved with the premises established exclusively by the language context of that research program.

For example, Newton’s paradigmatic theory of physics is a research program that could solve puzzles dealing with macro-mechanical phenomenon, but it broke down and failed at explaining phenomenon on the quantum level. Solving these problems required the creative breakthrough of Einstein’s theory of relativity and mass-energy equivalence. Other examples include Ptolemy’s geocentric theory of the solar system  being replaced by Galileo’s heliocentric theory, or alchemy being replaced by chemistry, or spontaneous generated disease theory being replaced by germ theory, and the list goes on.

Because each research program exists as a self-contained framework with unique premises, there are seemingly endless combinations and re-combinations of these premises that literally create new problems or puzzles. Solving these problems fleshes out the theory’s soundness by establishing its scope and legitimizing its explanatory power.

In his book on the philosophy of science, Against Method, Paul Feyerabend, a professed radical of convention, an anarchist of sorts, stated that “The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes.” In this way novel contributions, totally creative thought that rocks the structural foundations of existing paradigms and prevailing thought, are the source of radical and revolutionary progress. His position was that science and discovery, namely all progress, should be open and interdisciplinary, facilitated by the synthesis of perspectives across disparate domains of knowledge.

From this summary we see two paths of education that provide utility, each in their own right. The first path, characterized by formal education, is closed, training students to solve problems delineated and created within the bounds of existing paradigms, by current research programs, by mainstream prevailing thought. The second path is open, experimental, interdisciplinary, imaginative, creative, and seeks novelty. The consequence of the second path is an exposure to tremendous risk and ridicule in the event of being wrong. But as we know, where there is no risk there is no reward.

This brings me back to my original discontent: the university. I should consider myself fortunate for playing the game right and having the privilege of attending such a prestigious institution, but there is a disconnect I have serious difficulties reconciling. Namely that there is no room for open dialog, creative problem solving, critical thinking, and diverse perspective. Any remnant of a free and open intellectual atmosphere fostering critical dialog that we tend to typify with higher learning institutions has by and large disappeared. Of course it still exists in isolated cases with those “liberal” professors in their “progressive” disciplines, but the culture itself is nonexistent on a broad scale. Instead we see fragmented departments partitioned across campus.  Students are dis-incentivized from introducing material from other domains of thought into classroom discussion, from experimenting with relevant perspectives and cross applying relationships. Very rarely do I observe or am aware of professors taking time to form real relationships with their students and gain a mutual understanding of their incoming context. Perhaps this is for economic reasons, reasons of utility, to retain efficiency. Perhaps it is too costly in time and faculty resources. But then I ask, what is education for? The efficient dissemination of knowledge? What of effectiveness? What of comprehensive understanding?

Maybe I’m being too Pollyanna. Remind me though, who are the greatest stakeholders in education? The board of trustees? The faculty? Or is it the future of our country? the next generation? the students?

And so we see my current dilemma. I yearn for a place to stretch my mind, to inquire, to challenge assumptions and engage in mutually vested dialog and debate. As someone totally disenchanted with the rigidity and apathy I experienced during my first twelve years of formal education, I expected this from the university. I was told that the university is where I would find the intellectual atmosphere filled with other inquisitive peers and engaging professors I was looking for, and I can honestly say that I’ve found a handful of both. But only a handful. The experience, however, is  more of the same.

I have to ask myself why this is the case. If we look throughout the annals of history for a clue to our current problems, for some trace of wisdom to tell of our prospects on the horizon, I can’t help but notice a glaring similarity in trends: the greatest civilizations fell at the peak of their opulence, the pinnacle of their immoderate greatness. (GibbonsLahiri) My mind immediately turns to Plato who said, “Necessity, who is the mother of invention” and everything becomes clear. We have shunned change, avoided struggle, distanced ourselves from challenge, and effectively rid ourselves of the need and, in effect, the capacity to confront real problems. Instead we hunker down in our theoretical delusions and preserve the status quo. It’s only natural that our institutions should reflect this reality.

It’s not a perfect world, I realize that. Perhaps my grandiose vision of higher learning should be restrained. Or should it? William James said “Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.” If that’s the case, then I want to retain my vision of a better world and embody this attitude of genius towards life. And if America should continue flourishing, I believe it should integrate James’ wisdom into the very fiber of its institutions, especially education.


Fortes soli superstites sunt

People prefer to stay comfortable: they resist the tendency to change themselves. They would rather change the world then change themselves. Tantum Validus Superstes.

But the world only bends for so long, and if you have not learned how to make yourself flexible, learned the art of bending back, the world will break you.

Though my feelings are original, my words and thoughts are not: they are merely arranged to fit the structure of my experience.

I gauge how well I’m doing if no one understands me. I consider it a luxury to be misunderstood.

My aspiration is that my words invoke a resonating reaction in people that is repelling, like moths to light: the glow entices, but the flame licks bitterly. So they run. I know I’m doing a good job if people disagree with me. The status quo is too apathetic. If the majority shared my thoughts there’d be more love in the world, no novelty, more creativity.

It takes wisdom to know wisdom: we see people as we are, the world as we are. If we are to know wisdom, we should be wise. And wisdom is not knowledge. It is a humble pride in your ignorance. Anyone can be wise if he believes himself to be insufficient in understanding. If you have it all figured out, what hope is there for you? If you lead yourself to believe that it’s okay for the world to remain unknown so long as you believe you are known to yourself, you are the most hopeless of all. The void does not exist in the world: it exists in us. We know nothing. We should look into ourselves with the most introspective of all eyes. Not fearing failure, not fearing our ignorance, but embracing it as a permanent feature of progress. It is only then can we overcome ourselves, the ignorance inherent to us. If you know yourself to be a common man, you are the most uncommon of all.



Agitprop and the Economist

I just read the article titled Israel, Iran and America: Masters of their fate? by the Economist magazine.

This article should be widely circulated, not because I think its content deserves worthy attention, but because people should know what blatantly subversive and malign agitprop looks like.

The original title was: “Auschwitz complex”. Why wasn’t the author’s name published along with the article?

The message is anti-semitic, reeking of smear propaganda and fear mongering. When I read it, I was astonished. Utterly wide eyed and slack jawed. I don’t care who they are referencing, whether you support the Israelites or the Palestinians, or what your position is on the whole conflict, the attitude towards the situation is pernicious, foul and adds nothing constructive to understanding the situation.

I’m curious, what was the intention of publishing this article? It was featured in a column Democracy in America: American Politics which describes its content as “thoughts and opinions on America’s kinetic brand of politics and the policy it produces.” Do tell me, where was the connection between Israel’s “ghetto mentality” [I quote] and American democracy in this article?

The closest theme I found related to the relationship between Israel and the US, and Netanyahu’s influence over Obama’s policy decisions to support Israel. How that exactly relates to American democracy I’m not exactly sure, but I could take a guess. Perhaps by supporting Netanyahu Obama’s foreign policy decisions will not be reflecting the democratic public opinion? Perhaps by supporting Israel, the US is siding with a war-mongering nation who is bent on picking fights with suicide bombers, Hamas, Hezbolla, and now that poor lil’ innocent country Iran? Ha. Or maybe I’m totally delusional. I get it, Israel was provided reparations after their genocide with their current location in the middle east; in the process they occupied some ethnic peoples in the area, whom we now call Palestinians. That’s unfortunate, but why can’t they get along and live together peacefully? Like I said, I may have all the facts messed up, and I know that human nature is never perfect, but who is antagonizing and who is advocating for peace? Maybe its far too historical and personal for me to understand, but it seems that the actions  speak clearly. Anyway. Not a topic I want to explore further at the moment.  I’ll think more later.

Education and Genius: Boredom and Learning

If you are having a conversation with someone and you find yourself struck with boredom, chances are it is not a failure on your part, not a result of your mere laziness. I would bet that the failure rests with the person your speaking to, your interlocutor. I’m under the opinion that there no boring ideas. Just boring people.

After all, we’re sensual creatures. We thrive on stimulation. Nearly all of communication is nonverbal (Knapp). Sight and sound comprise 94% of our sensory inputs, 84% and 11% respectively. The American educator Marva Collins said that “The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.” I couldn’t agree more. I believe that at the heart of this contagion is a resonating passion, an enthusiasm that generates a visceral reaction, a mutually shared connection with another person.

Regarding education, why do we find that the responsibility for learning and adequate understanding rests with the student? Assuming that students have a vested interest in gaining knowledge of the material, why would we dismiss them as merely lazy or unmotivated when they find it unbearably difficult to fight through boredom and apprehend a classroom lecture?

When a student enters a classroom prepared to learn new material, they begin without a context. Even when reading the text is a prerequisite to coming to class, there is still an absence of ultimate relevant context: why should a student be expected to understand the relevancy and relationships within the context being presented? They shouldn’t. But this is the prevailing attitude maintained by formal education.

The result of an attitude insisting that the better part of learning rests in the hands of the student rather than with the teacher is a system of education where disengaged teachers instruct and lecture to students who are discouraged to engage in critical, mutually beneficial dialog, but sit as semi-passive observers to be inculcated with remote, vague ideas devoid of a context that is immediately relevant to the schema they bring with them to the classroom.

What kind of thinking does this promote? I would bet that the direct manifest of this classroom emphasis produces analytic, auditory-sequential thinking. This type of thinking is rote, routine, automatic, and poor in relevant context necessary for robust comprehension. Outside of what meaning is directly issued by the dictated insistence of the educator, there is no meaning. As a result students know all the words to all the questions, but they fail to ever develop a comprehensive semantic web that poises all the questions, and therefore lack the capacity to critically inquire, to ask original questions, for themselves. The contrary of analytic, auditory-sequential thinking is nonsequential, visuo-spatial thinking characteristic of geometric visions of reality.

I recommend reading Two Ways of Knowing for a preliminary elaboration on the virtues of auditory-sequential learning (left brain hemisphere) versus visuo-spatial learning (right brain hemisphere). To briefly note, highly gifted individuals utilized visuo-spatial thinking, exhibiting greater brain activity in the right brain hemisphere. But allow me to continue this line of thought a little further down. (Also another interesting article on Temporary and Spatial Processing)

Wonder. This word encompasses the attitude of children— model geniuses in their own right. They are absorbed with curiosity, captured with wonder, and intensely interested in the prismatic, multifaceted world around them. Children learn at exponential rates, partly due to their physiological development, but even more importantly, due their excitement for discovering novel experiences and the process of knitting new understandings regarding how these experiences work.

But what happens to that childlike wonder? Where does it go in age? In the past psychologists speculated that the brain is programmed for critical periods of development that allows for exceedingly fast neural growth in childhood that eventually tapers off with age. They posited that brain plasticity and cognitive fluidity wanes as knowledge becomes more crystallized with age. Due to recent research dispelling notions that brain plasticity declines and ceases with the onset of adulthood, and due to my own experience with learning, I do not embrace this paradigm.

Instead I would like to introduce a paradigm that explains how sparkling wonder for the world fades as individuals become more enculturated, as their questions about the world are met with more of the same answers, the same flat predictable responses. The corollary? They grow more desensitized, their brain is starved of stimulation, and their minds slowly harden and calcify into a crystallized understanding of the same old  phenomenon they find themselves routinely bombarded with.

In effect, the loss of childlike wonder, the lack of curiosity for the world and all its treasured enthusiasms for understanding, is a result of mental oppression. Sounds harsh, right? While this may sound like an overt plot by big brother, I assure you it is not. Rather it is the natural progression of culture.

Allow me to digress momentarily and introduce my thoughts on the sociological philosophies of Bourdieu and Althusser.

Bourdieu discusses the phenomenal progression of enculturation that begins before we are born, beginning with a room and crib and name and clothes assigned to us by our parents. As we emerge from the womb and into this world with an open mind, tabula rasa, we adopt the world that has been carved out for us. Aside from the aforementioned articles, our parents may even have an idea of what kind of person we’ll be, what personality and character they believe we should possess, what religion we’ll practice, and maybe even what job they envision us to have one day, perhaps as a doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur.  As we grow older, we learn the various cultural conventions that should govern our behavior appropriately within the context of our given family practices, within school, within church, or within the public domain, such as how to think, how to speak, how to act. We are corrected whenever we venture outside the realms of customary convention, such as when we use foul language in certain public settings, and are reprimanded and corrected, otherwise censured.

This external censure slowly becomes adopted and internalized by individuals until they no longer need external ques for regulating inappropriate and appropriate behavior. In a sense, we learn to censure ourselves. We learn the act (or art) of self- censorship. The proper behaviors we adopt are cultural capital endemic to the social or cultural context in which we find ourselves most exposed to and influenced by.

Bourdieu describes this as the habitus, or the set of socially learned dispositions, skills and ways of acting that operate unconsciously without our awareness. When we do become aware of this habitus, it is often when we find ourselves in a foreign or unknown context that allows us to recognize the incongruencies in behavior, say when a well groomed wealthy elite finds herself at a barbecue in the deep south.

I apologize for the digression but the point I’m making is all important, so allow me to state it plainly: the education system of today fosters a habitus that discourages self-guided open-ended critical inquiry in favor of directed, closed, routine memorization. I am speaking in absolute abstracts, of course, but if you take time to draw parallels to your experiences with formal education I am sure your true conclusions will be the same as mine. The reason why this is the case falls with the aim of education: to produce a work force proficient at undertaking assigned orders, finding answers to given questions, and completing a set of tasks dolled out by superiors. If you look at the hierarchical structure of the classroom as a training ground for the hierarchical structure of the workplace, this doesn’t seem like such a preposterous explanation of education’s existing state.

The individuals proposing and influencing education policies, the wealthy elite, can only think in terms of their own self-guided interests. What benefit would it serve them to have a free thinking, critically minded, independently motivated work force? While I would argue that it would do our nation a great service in terms of creation, innovation, and invention, from an executive’s perspective I can’t see how that’s the most desirable employee. On the contrary, they want workers who work quietly and do the exact job they are given. More precisely: to passively accept what they are told and perform accordingly to expectations.

But in my opinion that’s an outdated paradigm organizational and labor systems. Societies are organisms, like cells or animals, where every part of the whole is as important and valuable as the next for operating at maximum efficiency and effectiveness. To deny the capacity to openly challenge and critically think about work processes is a form of self-sabotage. Fortunately there are organizations such as Google and 3M that employ the practice of critical and creative thought in their workplace.

But again, I digress. And allow me to clarify a point: I am not diminishing the role of intelligence in formal education and the work place either. In fact, it is the only facet or trait of an individual of any worth in contemporary education. What is intelligence? Does it differ from problem solving? Let’s explore these questions.

In the mainstream sense, intelligence is the ability to arrive at correct answers. Sounds good enough. In Greek, intelligence translates as intelligere which means to “select among” from inter meaning “among” and legere meaning “to gather”. More precisely, intelligence is a convergent style of reasoning that utilized deduction to arrive at conclusions. It is analytic and sequential. Does it differ from problem solving? Not if the problem is defined among a given set of premises or facts.

But what if a problem exists as open, without any apparent premises or facts with which to reason from? What if the questions are not given? This is where the utility of intelligence breaks down and an indication that some other important element necessary for problem solving begins gaining apparency.

Allow me to cite Leonardo de Vinci’s response when asked of the secret of his creative genius: saper vedere. In Latin this translates as “to know how to see.” From this brief phrase we can draw some tentative conclusions about what he might have meant, namely that creative genius, or rather problem solving, is the ability to formulate a novel perspective, an original point of view, that rearranges and reprioritizes the saliency and valuations of phenomenon, of facts, within the context of a given problem. This is where visuo-spatial thinking is paramount.

It would seem that the ability to gain the proper perspective necessary for solving open-ended problems rests with the ability to think divergently through a visuo-spatial context of thought. That is, to diversify and differentiate different modes of thought, perhaps through analogy or metaphor, in order to gain an alternative and, ideally, an original point of view.

So I must ask: What type of thinking does our contemporary formal education system encourage? One that deviates from the “norm”? One that tests various processes of reasoning through problems? One that explores alternative solutions to a given problem? Or how about the most striking question of all: Does contemporary education encourage independent thought or novel perspective in the classroom?

If I were to generalize all my experiences in education, and even defer to the data regarding increases in standardized testing, my answer to all these questions would be a resounding no.  Is more standardization, more conformity and uniform perspective the answer? No and no again.

What we need are better teachers who are more adequately equipped to facilitate open discussion and lead critical thinking. In addition, we could do away with rigid, inflexible curriculum’s and standardized tests, as well as the stifling behavioral expectations of structured class settings. We also need to toss out this notion that intelligence— the ability to utilize deductive reasoning to converge at correct answers from a set of given premises— is not the only measure of value, and that other critical thinking skills— such as those that produce an ability to transcend bias, create new perspective, and generate novel questions and original solutions— are being totally overlooked and underutilized.

Democratic Inequality: The Pernicious Effects of Unequal Distribution

I just finished reading the article by Raghurum Rajan titled Democratic Inequality.

The article examines the years surrounding the Great Depression and details how conspicuous consumption caused people to spend beyond their means, specifically through the use of debt. Because I’ve been studying Institutional Economics and just read Thorstein Veblen’s book The Theory of the Leisure Class, this notion of conspicuous consumption and “Keepin’ up with the Jones'” tickled me.

More importantly, the article details the motivation of legislators in certain districts to vote against the expansion and competition of lending as a way of leveraging inequality to the benefit of wealthy private lenders who comprised the bulk of their constituency. This consequently increased their profits, in the short term anyway. The result fueled a financial frenzy and collapse similar to the run up observed in 2008.

Rajan’s take away point: while financial expansion is not inherently bad, it is not a wise decision directly preceding a crisis.

I’ve been reading a lot on the various topics relating to inequality lately, specifically the areas of current account imbalances, household savings and debt, power bargaining, financial liberalization and other monetary policy.

This has lead me to study of Institutional Economics, and to a lesser extent Historical Economics, pointing me to the works of Thorstein Veblen, Max Weber, John Galbraith, John Schumpeter and others. The study of Institutional Economics is intimately connected to understanding Evolutionary Economics due to its emphasis on social relations as the determinants of behavior and change. It paints what I believe is a more accurate portrait of economics that exists as an organic ecology of free and independent agents competing and working together to bring about change within a given economic system. The contrary picture that mainstream economics presents is a framework of actors existing in a static equilibrium state with fixed behaviors and qualities, such as rational expectations, profit maximization, and the representative firm.

I know that may sound a bit abstract and may not translate as anything immediately meaningful at first glance, but the consequences of adopting a theoretical approach as opposed to a historical empirical approach are very real. Specifically, I believe that the theoretical economics embodied by mainstream neoclassical theory is not only a very poor framework for analyzing long term policy decisions (it’s great for short term modeling and analysis), it breeds a mentality of devoid of conscientiousness, one of instant gratification for the now irregardless of long term consequences. This attitude is embodied in the quote by economist John Keynes who said “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”

Interestingly, conscientiousness is the single most important personality measure for predicting the long term success of individuals. And why wouldn’t this hold for institutions?

Studies show that conscientiousness dictates education achievement (and here),  longevity, and it even determines the business success of psychopath’s.

More later.

Truth Hear

In customary social interaction, I tell people what they want to hear: the truth. And for that reason truth is the most insidious instrument ever to have been invented.

When I want to move people into feeling, I talk in terms of their truth, what they perceive to be real, however far from reality and actuality that may be. Does this cause injury or harm? Do we like being shaken from our dreams?

That is why I let people sleep. Very few people want to be woken from their slumber.

Truth anesthetizes the senses the same way repetitive knocking becomes silent background noise: first it is salient, then it is comforting, finally it disappears.

Repetition lulls man to sleep. It dulls his senses by incessantly chipping away at his resistance until he is made more facile and docile, more tolerant to the beating drum, the inculcation.

Very rarely do I talk in terms of actuality. Far too many people shiver at the prospect of losing ground in their truth. Very rarely do I have the courage to disrupt their cool delusions. Am I wrong? Does this antagonize their delusional trance?

Though exceedingly rare, it is only when someone opens a conversation with hope and self-criticism simultaneously do I test the waters of actuality with my toe, making sure to create the most gentle ripple across their placid consciousness so that I may observe how they react to these waves. If there is no hope, such a ripple will likely cause them to thrash and drown. Where there is hope they will tread water, perhaps reluctantly; and where criticism can churn waters and whip waves high above their head, they will rise with the wake and achieve greater perspective.

What is unfortunate, however, is that most have no hope. No hope in their ability to think critically, to tread in tumultuous waters, and gain perspective. As a result they shirk from novelty, they preserve misaligned bias, and they maintain a certain xenophobia to all things foreign.

While I strongly resist any notion that man is inherently limited by nature, rather than strictly limited  by self, I can only conclude that most prefer the tranquility of sleep, the plush luxury of feeling comfortable in their current state, and that the herd, though bewildered and duplicitous, offers the only mentality capable of capturing this feeling of familiar.


Neural Hyperactivity: Genius and Deviant Psychology

I don’t feel like synthesizing all this reading into a coherent post at the moment, but I’m tired of looking at it in my drafts folder. I’ll get around to refining these ideas and making my intuitions about this research more explicit, but I’ll publish it in the mean time in the event that anyone feels up to drawing some connections between all this research. Ultimately, I’m interested in the areas of the brain that produce genius. Specifically, I want to explore the overlapping’s of ADHD, depression, and other ‘mental disorders’ with creativity, problem solving, novelty seeking, and, to a greater or lesser extent, intelligence. 

Once again, I apologize if it’s utterly incoherent at the moment, but there is a rhyme to all the erraticism. 

Continue reading “Neural Hyperactivity: Genius and Deviant Psychology”

Ressentiment: Frustration and Flourishing

Ressentiment refers to the “sentiment of resent” towards one’s frustrations, whether they resulting from natural or social phenomenon. This resent causes man to transcend himself, to delve deeper into his reflective consciousness, and create new valuations, a new system of morality that allows him to perceive and therefore interact with the world in a more advantageous way, a way that is reflective of and suited for his intentions, his interests.

Ressentiment is a good thing. It indicates struggle. Struggle provides the fertile ground necessary for all flourishing, for all growth. Without struggle, without challenge, there is no development, no adaptation, no transcendence of mind and circumstance.

Resentment is a manifestation of conflict. Its byproduct is struggle and frustration. Paramount to realizing the value of ressentiment is the inability to escape, whether this is a physical or social or psychological consequence. If one escapes the conflict, there is no struggle, and therefore no opportunity to create and transcend and ultimately actualize private intentions and valuations. Oppression, notably slavery, is the typifying situation that breeds ressentiment. In every culture is it revolution that describes the overthrowing of impeding structures, paradigms, values, and modes of thought. Slavery to a single man or a single system makes no difference, whether it is a political dictator or a prevailing system of scientific process.

Philosophy is a product of this conflict. It epitomizes struggle through its process of resolution through inquiry, meditation, dialogue, and dialectical method. Its very nature seeks to reconcile paradoxical and contradictory themes, ideas, values,  and modes. Kant describes philosophy as Kampf, or struggle.

Ressentiment is a deep, invidious, ruminating state of being that possesses an individual’s mind. It manifests as the conscious mind, exhausted and taxed with futile attempts to overcome an obstacle interfering with its intention, retreats inwardly to seek self-generated solutions, to create alternative worlds of ulterior values. It calls upon the wisdom of the divine, the daemon or genius, to synthesize a deviant psychology for overcoming the conflict. It is a purely creative act, a purely spiritual enterprise that taps into the mental faculties embodying the holistic condition of man as a spatial and temporal creature, a product of historical conditions situated in a present context.

They say, familiarity breeds contempt. I would posit, more aptly, that familiarity breeds ressentiment. Familiarity is none other than an indicator of security, the status quo. The phenomenon of familiarity is an index of malignant stagnation, a threat to life, to change, to evolution and adaptation.

The will to power, as Nietzsche believed, was the mechanism of overcoming this ressentiment and, when exercised freely, a healthy manifestation of man’s ability to adapt, overcome, and dominate impeding obstacles, challenges, and forces that trap, stifle, and oppress man’s natural physical and mental propensities to flourish.

How do we leverage the power of ressentiment towards human flourishing? Push back on the world. Harbor a bitterness that rejects that familiar, a resentment for anything static and unchanging and unevolving. Take disparate domains of thought and force them together, insist that they occupy the same place, the same context, however foreign the landscapes of their genesis may appear. Never mind the revolting perversity this produces in you. Embrace the tendency to reject the revulsion as a healthy indicator, a mark in the nascent production of wisdom, of progressing latent understanding and perspective into actuality. What is revolting is good. Use the visceral revulsion, the revolt, to produce a revolution within you: a revolution that transcends present being.


Ressentiment refers to the “sentiment of resent” towards one’s frustrations, be they resulting from natural or socia phenomenon. This resent causes man to transcend himself, to delve deeper into his reflective consciousness, and create a new valuation, a new system of morality, that allows him to perceive and therefore interact with the world in a more advantageous way, a way that is reflective of and suited for his intentions, his interests.

Ressentiment is a good thing. It indicates struggle. Struggle provides the fertile ground necessary for all flourishing, for all growth. Without struggle, without challenge, there is no development, no adaptation, no transcendence of mind and circumstance.

Resentment indicates conflict. Its byproduct is struggle and frustration. Paramount to realizing the value of ressentiment is the inability of escape, whether this is a physical or social or psychological consequence. If one escapes the conflict, there is no struggle, and therefore no opportunity to create and transcend and ultimately actualize private intentions and valuations. Oppression, notably slavery, is the typifying situation that breeds ressentiment. In every culture is it revolution that describes the overthrowing of impeding structures, paradigms, values, and modes of thought. Slavery to a single man or a single system makes no difference, whether it is a political dictator or a prevailing system of scientific process.

Philosophy is a product of this conflict. It epitomizes struggle through its process of resolution through inquiry, meditation, dialogue, and dialectical method. Its very nature seeks to reconcile paradoxical and contradictory themes, ideas, values,  and modes. Kant describes philosophy as Kampf, or struggle.

Ressentiment is a deep, invidious, ruminating state of being that possesses an individual’s mind. It results as the conscious mind, exhausted and taxed with futile attempts to overcome the obstacle of intention, retreats inwardly to seek self-generated solutions, to create alternative worlds of ulterior values. It calls upon the wisdom of the divine, the daemon or genius, to synthesize a deviant psychology for overcoming the conflict. It is a purely creative act, a purely spiritual enterprise that taps into the mental faculties embodying the holistic condition of man as a spatial and temporal creature, a product of historical conditions situated in a present context.

They say, familiarity breeds contempt. I would posit, more aptly, that familiarity breeds ressentiment. Familiarity is none other than an indicator of security, the status quo. The phenomenon of familiarity is an index of malignant stagnation, a threat to life, to change, to evolution and adaptation.

The will to power, as Nietzsche believed, was the mechanism of overcoming this ressentiment and, when exercised freely, a healthy manifestation of man’s ability to adapt, overcome, and dominate impeding obstacles, challenges, and forces that trap, stifle, and oppress man’s natural physical and mental propensities to flourish.

How do we leverage the power of ressentiment towards human flourishing? Push back on the world. Harbor a bitterness that rejects that familiar, a resentment for anything static and unchanging and unevolving. Take disparate domains of thought and force them together, insist that they occupy the same place, the same context, however foreign the landscapes of their genesis may appear. Never mind the revolting perversity this produces in you. Embrace the tendency to reject the revulsion as a healthy indicator, a mark in the nascent production of wisdom, of progressing latent understanding and perspective into actuality. What is revolting is good. Use the visceral revulsion, the revolt, to produce a revolution within you: a revolution that transcends present being.

Thoughts: Novelty, Education, Society, Theory

I could write for days on end with all that’s been on my mind. But I guess I’ll just dump some random thoughts circulating about at the moment. I apologize if my line of thought appears a bit erratic and nonlinear.

Recent research regarding the genetic basis for novelty seeking behaviors in honey bees parallels that of humans. ADHD is characterized as a novelty seeking behavior, one that thrives off of new stimulation, hence the title Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These genes are hardwired to the benefit of the group to seek new enterprises, to explore and discover new directions for growth.

Society is a historical phenomenon, a developmental product of inherited traditions to preserve functional behavioral aspects for survival. Pure theory disregards the empirical element to any social science. The biggest culprit in perpetuating opaque theories in the social sciences is Economics.

I will state that pure theory of any kind breeds a certain phenomenon of necessity by reducing evolving organic elements into statical-atomistic parts, consequently quelling any perspective that accommodates for change. Theory requires assigned values in order to quantify and logically justify its conclusions. Indoctrination is the method that achieves this end.

So long as economics is a practical exercise whose applications deal with and affect the organism of society, it should have no business perpetuating pure theory over historical-empirical observations, which is science. Psuedo-science is pure theory. Recall the utility of metaphysical speculations rooted in pure machinations melded from minds rooted in supernatural causation, totally detached from the socio-material world. Perspective, or rather the amalgam of perspective, is paramount to achieving accurate explanations. Think on the process of peer review.

Necessity breeds slavery, i.e. denies man. The phonomenon of Necessity is a testament, not to its excellence, but its power [sic Ellul]. Necessity is convergent. Possibility is divergent, as is potentiality. Equilibrium is convergent. Evolution is divergent. Preservation is convergent. Adaptation is divergent.

A college degree, and contemporary formal education, is tantamount to receiving confirmation through the Christian church. I reject the value of indoctrination in both.

Have we witnessed a surge towards the value of divergent thinking or convergent? Does our education system reflect valuations of standardization or differentiation? Has standardized testing, formality, rigid class structure increased or decreased? What is our fate?

You cannot stand within and move without: escape bias by escaping context. Transcend perspective by losing it.

That I know myself to be a common man makes me uncommon. Recall the maxim of Thales: “Know thyself.” Recall the wisest tenant of Socrates: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing, for when I don’t know what justice is, I’ll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.”

Many know the words, few know the meaning. For that we can praise propaganda’s subversive process of inculcation perpetuated by the forceful effect of formal education: memorization, recitation, regurgitation, repeat. Where is Comprehension? Where is dialog? Propaganda ceases where dialog begins.

Economics is a social science. Society is a historical phenomenon. History is an empirical development. Why are we perpetuating pure theory over empirical practice? Let us cultivate the value of individual consciousness, each man’s theory of mind, and marry it with the prevailing practices to yield a praxis of reflection and action that prizes the individual’s contribution to the well being of the social context in which he is situated. To deny the value of a single perspective is to sabotage evolution’s law of accounting for every variable to render a more perfect adaptability.

Where you look determines what you see. Look farther, look wider, look deeper.

“Men must talk about themselves until they know themselves.” Journal reflections. Engage in dialogue. Objectify the subjective; discover its fruits and failings. Dialogue, so long as it is an honest portrayal of your current convictions, destroys propaganda, dispels ignorance, and produces a finer eye with which to feed the mind.

Recent science has reaffirmed the powers of LSD as a means of disrupting habits of thought. This bodes well for the prospect of freeing the mind of man, i.e. addiction, but poorly for a politik aiming to strengthen its control through conformity.

Mental diseases, as diagnosed by contemporary medical criteria, and most notably depression, bipolar, and anxiety, have been associated with great genius and leadership in every domain of society. Contrary to popular belief, recent science has discovered that depression is due to a hyper activity in the brain that leads to potential paralyzation of thought, hence the symptoms of rumination, chronic worry, listlessness and the like.

ADHD is also characterized by hyperactive brain activity. Individuals with ADHD are in upwards of 2.7 times more likely to simultaneously have depression (Other notable correlations include bipolar disorder, anxiety, and oppositional defiance disorder. See herehere, here, here, here, and here)

Individuals with mild depression, as opposed to those with major depression, are more skeptical and therefore rational than those without the diagnoses. (Listen to this presentation on Optimism Bias)

I posit that the same reason people retain a optimism bias, despite being confronted with contradictory facts, is the same reason people exist in a state of denial. (See here)

“[Michael Shermer’s] latest book, ‘The Believing Brain’, is a fascinating synthesis of 30 years of research on the subject. Shermer’s conclusion, about our belief-forming machinery, is disturbing. Most beliefs are not formed by carefully evaluating the evidence in favor or against a particular claim. Instead, they are snap decisions made for psychological, emotional and social reasons in the context of an environment created by family, friends, colleagues, culture and society at large. Only after the belief is formed, do people try to rationalize it and subconsciously seek out confirmatory evidence which, upon finding, reinforces the belief in a positive feedback loop.”

I can appreciate the evolutionary utility of bias as a means of maintaining inherited beliefs and preserving the status quo, but one needs to dwell on the implications of how this bias can be exploited, specifically by propaganda.

That leads me to another issue that I’ve been giving plenty of thought: the social construction of reality. What got me started thinking on this topic was my development economics course (which I despise due to the highfalutin exaggerations regarding its ability to actually explain economic development). The only piece of information I found valuable at all was the only piece of information it absolvedly claimed to be the single dictator for a society’s developmental economic success: institutions. This struck me as acutely profound, and odd since it was a mere footnote amongst an oceanic backdrop of theoretical constructions and descriptive statistics.

Since then I began to explore the weight of this idea that institutions are the sole determinate of economic development and success. I began asking myself ‘What are these institutions?’, ‘Why are they so important for economic development?’, ‘What makes one institution better than another?’, ‘How are these institutions created and sustained?’, and many others.

Because of this prick to my curiosity, and because of a massive paper I’m developing for a Macroeconomic policy class, I picked up my old History of Economic Thought book and reread about fifty percent of it, trying to uncover a scintilla of insight into what the history of economic thought may have said about this idea of institutions, and I was more than rewarded for these efforts. In addition to accruing a renewed interest in classical economists such as Smith, Malthus and Ricardo, my eyes were once again opened to the oft-misinterpreted and misaligned message of Marx, and futhermore I discovered just the veins of thought that satisfied by curiosities most exactly: Historical Economics and Institutional Economics. Wow.

Due to my interest in evolutionary economics and political economy I previously read books by Galbraith, Schumpeter, Marshall, Boulding and others but I was totally ignorant to the extent at which these involved socio-economics, specifically institutional economics. Moreover, meta-connections between economics, politics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, and evolution were made abundantly clear.

My philosophically minded interest in gaining traction in these seemingly disparately domains to gain a broader, fuller, and more comprehensive understanding of the world in which I am situated lead me to my original fascination with power, which I gratuitously thank Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Thucydides for instilling within me. Specifically, power as the mechanism for all change: be it in the reality of the natural world or in the phenomenon of the conscious mind. The impetus of power occupies the seat governing change in every domain, from physics and math, to politics and business, and all the cultural manifestations in between, from science to religion. The force and intensity of power can be traced to both intentional and accidental confluences.

At the time I had this revelation in the power of institutions, I just so happened to be reading Veblen Thorstein’s The Theory of the Leisure Class. I picked up his book due to my growing fascination with domestic and current account imbalances (debt) and the wealth disparities they create. Thorstein Veblen just so happened to be not only an economist and sociologists, but one of the original proponents of institutional economics.

Other factors that influenced this fascination was my study of Greek civilization. Being a professed model for American Democracy, I felt compelled to investigate the various factors involved in the production of Greek culture. Greek religion appeared as a marvelous area of study due to my corrected ignorance of its role in shaping the nomos or conventions governing social affairs, rather than solely providing a metaphysical comfort like modern Christianity seeks to accomplish.

In addition, I coincidentally read Peter Berger’s The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion for a humanities class in Crisis and Creativity. This sealed the connection between the role of institutions in shaping mass culture and individual psychology.

From here I began studying sociology more intensely.

I’m nearly finished reading Berger and Luckmann’s seminal work, The Social Construction of Reality, on the formation of social knowledge, which they declare dictates our conception of reality more generally. It’s a fascinating read that I recommend everyone pick up. I don’t have time to elaborate on my revelations, insights and comments at the moment. Another time.

Berger’s reading elevated by insight into the mechanisms that create the social consciousness and the social knowledge that accompanies it. As a result of that reading I also began looking into the various apparatuses within society that perpetuate social knowledge. I purchased the book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Ellul and this has further reinforced by understanding of the mechanisms driving social behavior.

An interesting, but not surprising, study reveals that “Large numbers of authors of DSM psychiatry ‘bible’ have ties to the drugs industry.” (See here) This reaffirms my conviction that psychiatry is a purely cultural phenomenon. And culture, as I have mentioned, is a product proportional to the authority and power bestowed by institutions within society. While the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is a large institution with vested authority, it is dwarfed in power by the profit motives of the Pharmaceutical industry.

And what dictates the extent of profit motives for big pharma? My thoughts turn immediately to the legal and political realm governed by lawmakers in congress as well as the upholders of that law in the judicial branch and the enforcers in the executive branch.

What motivates these political individuals? The preservation of their power or, at the very least and being most charitable, the preservation of the power of their ideas about the way things ought to be, specifically their values, which are at base purely subjective constructs that reflect a means of preserving their ego.

I could go on but I have other work to due.

Last thoughts. I’m looking forward to reading Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War as well as Althusser’s Philosophy, Lenin, and other essays. I need to finish reading Das Capital by Marx, something I began reading with great enthusiasm a month or two ago but got distracted with all these new insights.

Other author’s also on my reading list are Max Weber, Kahneman and Tversky, Mitchell Waldrop, Alfred Schutz, Karl Mannheim, Alfred Weber, Max Scheler, Colin Camerer, and Tacitus.

I’ll dump more thoughts later.


But I am lost is a sea of noise, a cacophony of sinking sadness. The vapors penetrate the air and enter my nostrils, infect my brain, paralyze what thoughts might germinate the blossom. I am fearful, only of myself. My audience greets me with silence. There is a brutal battle blowing among the fickle mass that leads meek men to bleak impasse.

I feel the tentacles of life grow meaty. They stretch out and suffocate the last of my breathing, the last bit of life I harbor within me. The powers that be dictate from the heaven above like thunderous claps on fair morning dove. And I stand in awe, nay in shame, of what I did not do to save the day. What I could have been if I had willed it, a hero of men, a lord among many: a man who does not shake when his time is called but rises when challenges meet, never a place where young boys find themselves weak. It is not a time to think or pry, but a time to act and say whats on my heart, not my mind, let gruesome death take those reasons of mine, so that I may pour out the fragrance of a soul run deep, unfurl a glorious ray upon heavens red cheek.

What is honest anymore? Where can I be when I don’t know the mine that is me?


To Write Well

“To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.” – Aristotle

This I need to learn. I like to think I express myself with precision, but while my seal of approval is fine when I’m expressing myself to myself, that is when I am reading and writing for the consumption of my eyes only, I can’t imagine it translates terribly well for others.

How do I write anyway? I haven’t really thought about this question in a while. For a time all I could think about was the poetics of proper expression. More recently I’ve temporarily given up my efforts to produce quality style in exchange for my attempts to simply flush out quality ideas envolume.

I’m sure this has worked to the detriment of communicating with clarity. I can’t very well go inside the head of others. How am I to know if my words are strung together in the syntax best suited for their eyes and ears? I can only hope they’d ask me to pause and elaborate on a point. All I know is that, when I reread what I write, it appears to retain the same glow with which it left my mind, most of the time anyway.

But I know this is wrong. I know this is wrong because when I take time to read what I wrote in the past, I cringe. My stomach tightens and my face contorts with disapproval as I pan through my hackneyed prose, my jumbled thoughts, my overly rococo verbal garnishes. See? I did it again.

How to write well. Hm. I bet it starts with a good idea. Right? Surely you must have something worth saying, no? From here, I bet how it is you say it matters most. You voice. They always talk about finding your voice in writing. I never understood what that meant until I tried acting, or adopting personalities in my head to do the talking. Then it seemed that the words, the manner and style in which I wrote, seemed to just flow through me. I’d reread it and give myself a half smug smile of assurance and astonishment. Of course I’d be quietly asking myself whether those were actually my words, did that really come out of me?

Sometimes I read my writing and I can’t remember ever thinking those thoughts before. It’s like I was temporarily possessed, or developed a phantom consciousness that took control of my figures and had at it with the key board.

To express plainly. For the common man. Is that right, Mr. Aristotle? Well, that probably means small, tiny words. And shrimpy lines of digestible text. All wrapped in the plainest punctuation and grammar. Blah.

What if the man most common in my circles just so happens to be an intellectual? Does that give me warrant to create torrents of tenacious prose that poetically pierces the present perceptions of men? I hope so. I want to use; weird grammar; write in: serries of sibylline sentences— touchstones of sententious song; and string slews of slack-jawed sightseers together as an inaudible audience.

Express myself like common people? Does he know how common people communicate today? Boi. Dat wud be a hard thing to do. Talkin like my home boyz and gurlz on facebook. Girlz be lookin so hot and sexy. I say dam gurl. Wut you say Airistottle? I can express myself. Wat you want to kno? I like the Titans and Miami heat. I love A n E realaty tv. My boyz an me are tite fo lyfe. ya hur?

I know that’s not how it generally goes, but the idea of adopting another voice that appears virtually void of any serious reflection before it speaks is a difficult task. Anyway. I’m tired fooling around. It’s late. More to think and do and write tomorrow.

Pragmatic Organization and the Inequality of Women in Ancient Greece

A Critique of Traditional Interpretations of the Status of Women

Contemporary culture has seen a growing sentiment that women are equals to men. While I am apt to agree with this sentiment, I must ask: on what footing are they equal? Western civilization is a direct product of ancient Greek thought. Their ideologies influenced the development of every aspect inhabiting our culture, our moral code for conduct. From notions of individuality to politics and governance, from Christianity to learning and the arts and endless other cultural artifacts that occupy our historical traditions. In recent decades there has been a rise of feminism thanks to a surge in the value of individuality and humanity as a whole rather than discrepancies in social constructs like race and gender. In Greek culture the female was glorified and valued, as they were represented as prestigious gods like Athena who embodied virtues like justice, warfare, and wisdom, but their status in society remained noticeably unequal. Why is this? I would like to examine why the ideologies differed amongst writers, why some women were able to transcend the prevailing attitudes, and determine whether the ideological tradition of gender inequality in Greek society found permeating throughout the ages were originally justified.

A fundamental fulcrum in which Ancient Greece society revolved around was the oikos, the household. It was the nucleus of organization and values that permeated into and reflected onto the structure of culture as a whole. The basic framework consisted of the male as the kurious— or lord, master, guardian– ruling over a plot of land occupied by the oikos which consisted of a single wife, children, and conquered slaves. In the city of Athens the function of the oikos was one of utility: self-preservation. Every household was a center for managing the production of resources drawn from the land for sustenance. Trade economy developed as households as they concentrated into the polis and households interacted as the role of division of labor increased.

Nomos in ancient Greek meant law or custom and referred to the structuring of daily experience. It was derived from the word nemō, meaning “I distribute, dispense”. The word oikonomikos, translated today as economics, referred to the law of the house hold. The male or kurios was responsible for leadership, protection and external affairs, internal management within the oikos was the responsibility of the wife. In this way each oikos possessed a nomos— laws or structure of daily activities– that was distributed or dictated by the kurios. In addition to managing the internal household affairs , the wife provided the household with children for labor and more importantly a way for the male to preserve and pass on his assets to future generations. This was not an inferior role but one of great responsibility and required that women had a good intellect and managing abilities.

It was well known and acknowledged that women were intellectually capable, possessing the same natural capacities as men, but because they were not formally educated they were not widely praised for their intellect. Socrates discusses this in Plato’s Republic (455d,e) when he debates whether women were fit to be guardians and therefore worthy of being educated. Though controversial to ideology at the time, Socrates insightfully concludes that because only their pursuits and bodily natures different, their abilities differ, but because they possess equal intellectual capacities they were capable of being educated and therefore could serve as guardians of the polis. In fact, many women did contribute to the polis, indirectly. Aspasia famed for her intellectual abilities and prowess and was considered a driving influence behind many of her husband Pericles policies.

As a result of the oikos organization the role of the woman was all important. Hesiod says that “there is no better possession for a man than his wife”(Word and Days, 695). Rather than a relationship of dominant rule, husband and wife was very much a companionship working together and relying on one another for the support and success of the oikos. However, it was considered vital that the male “trained” her appropriately and instilled his nomos so that the household could be managed well and efficiently. This was accomplished by marrying very young, around four years after puberty as Hesiod notes . The Greeks were very practical people from not on only a survival point of view but a social point of view. Hesiod says that men should marry a woman who lives near you and who is beautiful. I imagine that marrying a local woman may have played an important role in ensuring they shared similar values, perhaps a similar nomos that they would be familiar with and readily adapt to. In addition I speculate that this may have also made good business sense. By leveraging their marriage contract and keeping a good relationship with the wife’s father a husband would maintain social and perhaps political and economic ties.

Aristotle fell short of understanding the practical elements to his culture that led woman to possess their status. He viewed their virtues as inferior rather than acknowledging that, as Socrates and Plato did, because their roles differed they manifested and required a different set of morals, or values that presuppose and determine their actions. This is why he misconstrues the quote by Sophocles “Silence gives grace to women.” The reason this was important was due to the structure of the oikos that established men as the guardians, originally out of necessity because of their masculine strength and ability to protect and guard the household. Later the wife’s subordination became a matter of practicality in ensuring a single leadership in the home, a single nomos that unified the operations of the oikos through the will of the kurios or lord and any division was detrimental to its flourishing. With the male involved with external political and business affairs this was a practical solution to maintaining cohesion rather than any reflection of the female’s capabilities or lack thereof.

As a consequence of the organization of the oikos Greek society developed a culture that exploited this hierarchy as a result of some innately inferior qualities. They failed to see that the utility of maintaining a single oikonomikos is analogous to maintaining a single nomos or law within society, both of which ensure a structural framework for cohesive collaboration, a single vision for achieving eudemonia.

While there are no doubt physical differences among men and women that contributed to the gender prejudice within Greek culture, such as their hormonal propensities causing irrationality in periods of menstruation perhaps, I believe much of these differences were products of the cultural organization which was itself initially formed through practical purposes. It is likely that it was exactly these biases that were captured by Hesiod when he refers to them as a paradoxical necessary and baneful breed, and Semonides when he compared to them as various animals. However, more than likely such descriptions were indicative of the struggle for woman and man unify in agreement and consent to a single nomos, as well as the difficulty of possessing a physically and intellectually attractive wife that other men would desire after. Features like this would lead to the profusion of ideas that women were inferior or defective and contribute to their segregation.

A Prediction

To pay off our $15.5 trillion national debt the government will continue monetary expansion and quantitative easing, i.e. printing money. Inflation will rise. Prices Increase. Income/ real wages will stagnate and unemployment will increase as businesses look for ways to cut costs. Since businesses possess bargaining power, wage labor markets will suffer. The cost of living will be so great that people will be forced to reign in consumption and cut spending. If you have debt (financed by wealthy private domestic lenders), you will have difficulty paying it off because cost of living has left you with less money to live on. If you can’t pay it off and file for bankruptcy, they will not only repossess your assets, you’ll still be in debt, thanks to recent revisions in Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy laws. What’s left of the middle class will continue getting squeezed until the income disparity is so large that poverty will be the norm. Meanwhile the wealthy will get richer as they continue cashing in on your debt.

A word of advice: get out of debt, fast.

Now, I have to ask myself: if income drops and consumption decreases, and if credit and loans are more difficult to obtain, what will sustain the domestic demand that drives economic growth? Simplified: if 90% of the country has no money, how will they buy things, and how will businesses make money?

Data indicates that our GDP has continued increasing and is back to pre-recession rates.

What if I said GDP is a worthless measure of the economy? What about exponential growth in inequality? What if I said real wages were a better determinant of economic prosperity and success?

How a Government Puts Down a Revolution

If I was a political leader, a wealthy tycoon or king or anyone in power over the people, and I expected a revolution on the horizon, these are a few things I would do to prevent or put down the uprising:

  1. Keep the people insipid and dull, incapable of asking questions and thinking for themselves, so they accept and do what they are told without resistance
  2. Strip the population of property and resources; enslave them
  3. Make an excuse to increase domestic police and law enforcement and paramilitary spending
  4. Build up prisons and increase jail capacity
  5. Create conflict over seas to divert attention from domestic problems
  6. Build up a standing Army; Send a standing Army to over seas war, keep them battle ready and desensitized; Maintain reenlistment, keep standing Army away from home country so that they are detached from culture
  7. Increase domestic surveillance and monitoring

I would say that all of these things are occurring either intentionally or unintentionally. I can cite some examples:

  1. Education failure; More education failure; Standardization and uniform thinking; Entertainment/ amusement culture; Psychiatrically drugged; drop out rates increasing
  2. Income inequality highest in recorded history; More Income inequality; Household debt highest in recorded history; Asset inequality highest in history
  3. Orgiastic Spending on Technologies of Political Control; Police State
  4. Declare war on drugs; Declare war on terrorism: Perfect excuses to increase militarization, law enforcement, homeland security; “justice” spending as increased steadily over time
  5. Incarceration rates highest in recorded history; Prison populations bursting; Prison construction all time high
  6. US has been in a war every decade: WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Cold War, Persian Gulf, Iraqi Freedom, Afghan Operation Enduring Freedom war
  7. Enlistment rates on the rise


I know, it sounds far fetched… but you should ask yourself what the data is pointing towards, if for nothing else then to come up with a reasonable explanation so that you can prepare for the future.

Continue reading “How a Government Puts Down a Revolution”