Reading for Growth

I don’t think the modernity of a book is a good judge of its value and wisdom. Wisdom is timeless, and fashionable trends fade with the fickle tastes of the times.

Below is a small list of the most inspiring and life changing books and essays I’ve had the fortune of reading:

1) As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen
2) Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
3) How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
4) Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
5) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
6) Five Major Puzzle Pieces of the Life Puzzle, by Jim Rohn
7) Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

The ones above have had the greatest impact on my life. I can remember reading each of these books and the various moments when they provided me with life changing epiphanies. They’re all relatively short, but contain profound, timeless wisdom. They are cited as some of the most widely influential books and read by some of the greatest leaders in recent history.

The following books refined my perspective on life and myself, but require a good deal of intellectual energy to read and digest:

The Will to Believe, by William James
The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker
The Genealogy of Morals, by Nietzsche
The Theory of the Leisure Class, by Thorstein Veblen

And aphorisms, reflections, and thoughts by a few of the greatest minds:

Ideas and Opinions, by Albert Einstein
Pensees, by Pascal
Maxims and Reflection, by J.W. Goethe

And lastly: why do you want to read? What do you think it’s gonna do for you?

The reason I ask is that if you don’t know “why” you’re reading or learning something, it won’t change you. It will simply leave superficial impressions on your memory, and not lasting changes on your character. And the “why” must be powerful enough to drive you towards growth, it needs to contain enough emotion and enough reason so that what you read sticks in your mind and literally attaches itself to your character and aids in the construction of your worldview. That way it’ll never leave you and you’ll be more of a person.

It doesn’t matter what we know. It matters who we are, because ultimately who we are dictates what we do with what we know, and that makes all the difference.

So I ask, if you’re trying to develop yourself into someone better, into your full potential, allow yourself to change. Suspend judgement. Admit that you don’t know anything. Allow yourself to be wrong. Only then will you able to gain wisdom and grow and achieve destined greatness.

If you happen to take me up on my suggestions and read these books, read them with an open mind. Spend time with them. Meditate and reflect on the implication of their message on your life. Be curious and passionate, and they will teach you.

 

Mal-Form.

The whirlwind.

This weekend I visited Panama City Beach, Florida for our fraternity’s formal weekend. I arrived friday evening with the rambunctious excitement you’d expect anyone to have after an eight hour car ride. Drinking in the car a few hours prior to arriving certainly contributed to my enthusiasm. Unfortunately everyone had driven through the night the morning prior and participated in a full day of drinking on the beach, so they were exhausted and less than receptive to my springing excitement to start drinking, especially at two in the morning when we arrived. Exercising some judgment, I decided that I should restrain my passion and save my energy for the following day, which I expected from prior experience to be a long and exhausting extravaganza. So I passed out. I woke up around eleven a.m. on the pull out mattress as everyone filed out of their air conditioned caves. I rallied my date and immediately took six shots. I then visited my roommate’s hotel room and produced three hits of acid from my backpack. My one room mate and his date decided that they didn’t want me having all the fun, so we each took a hit. I began pounding beer. Miller High Life. We then gathered ourselves up, filled our coolers with all the necessary beverages and ancillary paraphernalia for a hard day’s drinking in the sun, and walked a mile to the beach. At this point I was beginning to feel numb and thoroughly intoxicated, despite only an hour’s worth of wakefulness. Rather than walk around a strip of beach front property, we made an executive decision to climb over a locked gate which, as things would have it, was covered in maple syrup, presumable to keep people from climbing over. The brothers acquired a generator and speakers, and permission from one of the beach front homes to use their outlets and beach yard to place them, and we began blasting music to commence the festivities. It was a gorgeous day. Hotter than hell and zero clouds. While I never black out, I do drink to the point where no memories have been reliably made to recall, and that was definitely the case this day. We drank and carried on for at least six hours under the excruciatingly relentless Florida sun. The group began dispersing around six thirty and we were the last to walk back to our room, but not before I, in my deviantly responsible drunken state, cleaned the beach of trash, towels, and other belongings left for loss scattered in the sand.

Dinner was at seven thirty. I finished about twenty beers throughout the afternoon, in addition to countless shots. I was obliterated. Everyone made it to the chartered buses on time and we traveled a dozen miles to the catering hall. The trip felt like five minutes. I ate food. I drank beer. I watched a senior slide show. I may have lost my camera. At one point I wandered into the catering hall storage closet and grabbed six bottles of wine that I decided to deliver to tables throughout the room and, presumably stolen, everyone happily drank them. I gave a speech after my ol’ pledge buddy had a few words. Everyone thought I was going to say something deep, and I had planned on producing a compelling narrative, but I did not want to give into satisfying everyones expectations, so I mostly rambled about how awesome the frat was, how drunk I was, how much I enjoyed being the center of attention when giving a speech, and then I stepped down, or I was forced to. Either way.

I ate a lot during dinner, consuming three chicken breasts that tasted like smoked cedar, and eating multiple portions of a potato cheese scallop casserole. I made sure I consumed the vegetables as well with the idea that I was somehow countering the intense abuse I was wrecking on my body. The ride back was even quicker than the ride there. I went to my room, got changed, met up with my room mates in their room, and looked around for fun. I talked to three black guys from New Orleans and I introduced myself. Coincidentally, they introduced themselves, in full seriousness, with the same name. All four of us. I almost thought it was a joke if it wasn’t for the friendly casual nature of the encounter and the seriousness with which they replied.

I received news that the seniors were gathering on the beach for the ceremonial get together where champagne and speeches poured forth, and sentimentality could be shared in appreciable company. I gathered some people and set out to find it, but I was far from coherent. I got distracted by the sight of a Domino’s and decided to order a pizza which I proceeded to carry with me to consume as we ventured towards the beach. Unfortunately we weren’t able to locate this gathering so we decided to return to the hotel to revel with the rest of the group.

I made phone calls and eventually found out that my room was apparently hosting the party. I returned, but not before gathering people along the way and doing my best to persuade a young security guard to join us. Out of professionalism he politely indicated that he was working but, as a result of my genuine interest in his company, he compromised and rode the elevator us with us, indulging in the pleasant vibes of our group’s intoxicated camaraderie. Upon returning to the room the party was in full swing, making my entrance pretty disorienting as I tried to reaffirm whether this was indeed my room. In my drunken haze I had consumed a stimulant that was just starting to work its way through my blood stream and I could feel the boost of energy swell over me and out of me in enthusiastic gab. I’m not sure where the night went really, but I was talking about everything with everyone, and I distinctly remember conversations revolving around philosophical thought and my reputation for “being deep” or “philosophical”, which I made a point to rebuff as nothing more than a natural result of being curious, and that everyone would be considered deep if only they were more curious. We also talked on more trivial matters, such as the habit of periodically shaving one’s body, which I argued was a habit that was no different than any other arbitrary hygiene dictated by social convention of the like we typically take for granted, such as cleaning your ears, or shaving your legs or armpit hair, or brushing and bleaching your teach, or haircuts, or tanning, and the other multitude of inane grooming procedures that signify a status of class and care.

I recall spending a lot of time of the porch, probably with an agenda to snag cigarettes and hits of the maryjane circulating around. Whatever the reason for my preoccupation with the porch was, I don’t know, but I spent almost the entire evening out there, for better or worse. At one point I distinctly remember finding myself surprised that my alcohol consumption was increasing, rather than decreasing, and I decided to attribute the phenomenon it to the stimulant.

While on the porch I found myself in the company of a good girl friend whom I always admired. When we met she was young, a freshman, and in my mind naive, simply due to lack of experience. Due to my age I couldn’t reconcile the disparity in experience. But my attraction was definitely pronounced, specifically because of her exuberant personality that exuded an air of honest abandon, a happy casual disposition that seemed all too pleasant. The result of this disposition was an alluring mystique, a veneer that indicated there was more than meets the eye. She shared a curiosity for life that I equally cherished, and consequently chose to study philosophy which I, for obvious reasons, admired and revered. Whatever the case was, we talked on the porch, standing side by side and leaning on the balcony railing in tandem, staring into the evenings dark open air. In my haze I felt a rush of affection warm over. It was probably due to our conversations which, while I don’t remember the theme or details, I assume was genuinely thoughtful. I allowed my inhibitions to unhinge and embraced the attraction pulling my towards her. Those moments always contain the most bliss, a complete euphoric abandon. We kissed, and continued to kiss, and I yielded to the impulse to utterly absorb her presence, kissing and hugging with playful poise and affection. I explained that I hope she didn’t mind, but I was intensely attracted to her, and I couldn’t keep myself from indulging in the feeling. She didn’t mind in the slightest and reciprocated with equal fervor. Needless to say, we continued reveling on the porch, talking with our fellow drunkards, kissing and touching whenever the urge presented itself. It was humorous that, in the midst of sitting around in circle and conversing with others, discussing the nature of philosophy, its rule and duty, as well as the significance of etymology, we continued to kiss, blissfully unaware or unconcerned with appropriate conventions. Our interlocutors would interject that, if we wanted, they would leave so that we could continue doing our thing, but I was totally content sharing in the moment with everyone and that there was really no need to worry about any intrusion on their part. I was enjoying it all the same. It was comical really.

Eventually I decided I wanted to seek refuge in a bed with this girl. We ended up growing in knowledge. I was exhausted when I woke up. I felt like death. The ride home was pretty miserable. My date is an adderall crack head and she consumed countless pills on the way home, which prompted dilatory rambling that I was not in the mood for. She was also a huge fan of Glee, musicals, country music, and acappella covers, all of which I disdain ad nauseum. I tolerated it, however, out of courtesy for her driving. But I felt like hell. Sweating, fevers. Our first meal we ate at Wafflehouse, which was mediocre, as expected, but appropriate hangover food nonetheless.

Values: The Art of Authenticity and Will Power

“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”
— Arnold Bennett

The answer to all of life’s questions requires an understanding of values. If you understand what values are and how they work, you will understand the world, yourself, and others with clairvoyant sagacity. Values. What are values? Values are more than beliefs, they are more than pleasures. They orient us to our world. They provide a context, a priority of significance. They move us to action, but more importantly, they move us to thought. You could probably say that values occupy some corner of our subconscious, like the super ego or Id or something.

Values create a worldview. They are institutionalized into us through tradition, through enculturation, through habitus. We can appeal to universal values as a result of socialization. If you know what a person values, you can predict their thoughts and behaviors, however unassuming they may appear.

Values are the source of all intention. If you understand values, you understand all “will”, all motivation, all incentives, all behavioral manifestations. You understand thought, culture, action, desire, mood, emotion…

When you understand values, you understand morality, which is nothing more than socialized values, conventionalized values. “Truth” is a value that we are so familiar with, it becomes ultimate commonsense, common knowledge to all.

How do values appear? What do they look like? There are relative values, which are dictated by society and culture, by societal conventions— which are always up for interpretation—, according to what other people value, conspicuous or not: our clothes, our virtues, our accessories, our goals, our interests, our job, our degree, and the like.  And then there are absolute values, which are dictated by physiological necessity, and not so open to interpretation, such as the most basic survival needs, like food, water, shelter, and sex.

I believe that when absolute values are unsatisfied, relative values cannot flourish, and therefore culture can not develop. Culture is purely conventional social values oriented around absolute values, around life sustaining amenities and activities that grow in complexity as technology allows for more efficient and effective acquisition, and therefore more free time to socialize.  As freedom increases, the attainment of absolute values becomes less of a priority and socialization around these absolute values grows more distant, and the more culture can flourish, deepen and grow. When a society is focused on survival, there is less free socialization, and therefore less time to devote to occupying our thoughts with relative values that provide cultural meaning.

Nietzsche’s will to power is simply a will to actualize values which are relative to the “self-willing”. A person who manifests original values for, and according to, their “self” is in a unique,  and perhaps “authentic”, position to imbue their values in others. Self-knowledge, being “self-willed”, or possessing “autonomy”, produces authenticity which creates an almost divine “authority”, and authority begets power, because authority dictates value. The ability to leverage value is power, because values move people, and power is the ability to move people, and therefore resource, to facilitate change. But this all begins in the “self”. The origin of “authentic” and “authority” is autos which means “self”. “Autonomy” means “self-law”.

Values dictate context: they provide a priority of perception, of thought and action. Values are purely instinctual, purely primal, purely emotional. Thoughts encapsulate feelings with words. We are conditioned by association. Thoughts and feelings— derived from our perception of reality or the outer world— are simply feelings indexed by symbolic words. When we undergo debate, discourse, casual conversation, or cognitive therapy, we assign words to feelings, and learn to leverage and manipulate them as a means of exerting our will to our benefit.

Values are the lens in which we view the world. There are always ultimate values: a hierarchy always exists. Values create an etiology— which contributes to a “worldview”. As an example: For the religious, God and the scriptures and the church are the ultimate value, and all other values and the activities accompanying them revolve around these ultimate values; whereas for the materialists, wealth and conspicuous commodities— anything quantifiable— are the ultimate value, and all other values and activities accompanying them revolve around these ultimate values.

Creativity is nothing more than a reorganization of values— a creation of new feelings that index perceived objects to new words, which creates new relationships with new ideas, and constructs a new gestalt, a new conceptual schema, a new perceptual structure.

Values dictate what we see— they provide a priority of perception. We see what we “want” or “desire” to see. We have an affinity, an emotional yearning, to actualize values.

If wealth is your highest value, you will be a slave to it and possess none of the intangible fruits it offers. If power is your highest value, your top priority, you will possess the tangibles of wealth and authority, but lack a full appreciable grasp of intangible values. If wisdom is your highest value, you possess the greatest value of all— the ability to understand and create human values— and the world becomes yours. It is often said that wisdom can be defined as the proper application of knowledge. But all action, all application, is a manifestation of a value system possessed by an individual “self”. Action responds to values.

You may believe that values are simply the desire for pleasure, and you may be partially right, but most important for individuals is the desire for stability, for security, for equilibirum and coherent experience. An individual desires balance between their perceptions and thought, and their feelings and mood. All pleasure is the result of attaining expectations, achieving a congruent innerworld and outerworld. We set goals to create incongruity, and we work to achive an outerworld that resembles our inner world, our inner expectations. It is not the attainment of a reward the produces pleasure, but the expectation of reward.

Attaining expectations is when the thoughts containing an encapsulated emotional memory, are reinforced in the present, through passive circumstance, such as aesthetic experiences that reflect our internal ideals, or active realization, such as worthwhile work that reflects our internal ideals.

All thoughts are reaffirming, are self-enforcing. All minds want to organize according to a preexisting structure of values, of meaning, belief, perception… according to a history, a narrative, a story, a tradition, an inherited legacy. We strive for stability and so aim to create and ensure that our outer world matches our inner world of values. When incongruity arises, many people would rather persist in a delusional state that reaffirms their inner world of values to maintain equilibrium. The consequence of such delusions is a host of emotional alarms which indicate mental and emotional duress, such as anxiety or stress, due to conflict and discord, as an indication of contradiction and incongruity. When these emotional alarms are not dealt with an individual may internalize them, but they manifest through physical outlets, such as ulcers and the like, or behavioral outlets, such as deviant substance abuse to inhibit or numb the emotional duress.

Extrinsic values are the same as extrinsic motivations: they are meaning imposed on “life” by society, by culture and convention. Intrinsic values and motivations are creative, are self-generated in the absence of external guidance, cultural dictations, or normative signaling from society.

Authenticity is nothing more than a purely self-generated system of values. Authenticity transcends circumstance, transcends reason, transcends convention and truth and normalcy.

Art is emotional expression. Must you embrace yourself as an artist before you gain acceptance and legitimacy? Must you embrace an identity before you become an agent in the world? What is an artist? What is identity? If an artist utilizes a medium for emotional self-expression, as a therapeutic activity rather than an identity reinforcing act, must they embrace a collectively agreed identity to become legitimate?

Struggle destroys and creates values, by stripping the essence that moves you to bear. Challenge requires a redefinition of values— a re-contextualization of perspective— which compels personal growth and character development by impelling an adaptation of a new set of values, a new value system, in order to orient and navigate your perceived world.

Creativity, being rooted in the believing heart as a purely emotional enterprise, is the product of struggle. Creativity arises when struggle causes the redefinition of values, which in turn leads to the alteration of perception,  consequently changing the organizational structure, the context, of thought and mind and feeling and heart.

When struggle occurs, the value system containing the emotional associations— your values— that move you to compulsive action, to convicted thought, must be dissolved and reformulated with new, stronger, and more resilient emotions. When the realization of what you expected to happen falls abysmally short of what is actually happening in life, your original value system becomes useless and life becomes increasingly disorienting as the incongruity grows. You might associate these situations as the most difficult and trying times in life, perhaps times when you consider yourself being tested by god or circumstance, or some might say it’s the time of “hitting bottom”. These are the times that define our character, that shape our will. Whatever the case, religion has us putting our faith in “God” and new agers have us meditate in the “Dao” or “Chi” or whatever that life flow is.

The point, the function, the value of these coping strategies produces the same value of placing all your faith in yourself. Accepting yourself confidently despite uncertainty, accepting your strengths despite your weakness. Accepting yourself is nothing more than accepting the emotions that embody you as a reflection of your essence, your will to persist despite natural circumstance. Because the will or will power is nothing more than applied feeling, emotions are our greatest strength. Call it will power, or the will to power, but emotions are the impetus of all thought and action. The will to power is simply the propensity to produce a world that caters to and reflects our emotional disposition, the equilibrium we strive to achieve between our inner thoughts and ideals and the outer physical and social world. Some people acquiesce under circumstance and exist like water, reflecting, absorbing, flowing in accordance to the will of others.  Other people dominate over circumstance by exerting their emotional disposition into the world, by bending the will of others, by manipulating nature through technology. They are masters unto themselves.

See these earlier posts on the utility of Oppression and Suffering.

***
Authentic comes from Gk. authentikos”original, genuine, principal,” from authentes “one acting on one’s own authority,” from autos “self” + hentes “doer, being,” from PIE *sene- “to accomplish, achieve.” 1) Meaning Of the same origin as claimed; genuine; 2) Conforming to reality and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief. 3) (obsolete) Having authority.

Autonomy comes from Gk. autonomia “independence,” noun of quality from autonomos “independent, living by one’s own laws,” from auto- “self” +nomos “custom, law”.

Authority, from early 13c., autorite “book or quotation that settles an argument,” from O.Fr. auctorité “authority, prestige, right, permission, dignity, gravity; the Scriptures” (12c.; Mod.Fr. autorité), from L. auctoritatem (nom. auctoritas) “invention, advice, opinion, influence, command,” from auctor “master, leader, author”. The power to enforce rules or give orders. Used in singular or plural form: Persons in command; specifically, government.

Streaking Canopy

I can’t sleep. Insomnia has plagued me. Not insomia, per say, more of a total lack of diligence. I’ve been observing myself from afar the past few months, and I can’t help but think I’ve degenerated into a raving lunatic. There’s something of a compensatory malaise that’s settled on me, a disease of the imagination, one of the heart. I’ve succumbed to old vices, justified desultory behaviors, yielded to impulse, all in the name of fulfillment. And while I can’t say I’m in a state worth complaining about, I’m not exactly sure I feel any more fulfilled because of it.

Where is the self-discipline? I rationalize my passions, these unpredictable tyrants, with aphorisms like “reason must be a slave to the passions” and other nonsensical speak. What is balance? Before the structured society, nature imposed her rule, through time, the seasons, the setting sun. I’ve lambasted society’s strict structure as a pathetic excuse to escape responsibility from her order, all in the name of wildness. But am I an animal? Where is my personal narrative, my imagination? Why can I not call on a thread of story to sow meaning back into my life? I find myself with fading preoccupations that come and go with the tide, and I proclaim my evolution. But all the while the shore recedes and I am left with less than when I started. Am I too harsh? I have declared the reclamation of merit to live on a whim, but at what cost? Have I regressed? Have I grown into myself, or out of myself?

Change is something of a comfort. I’m tired of these thoughts, these stagnating feelings, these perduring words that have etched themselves into my psyche, that beat incessantly at my consciousness like a dripping faucet. Stillness breeds pestilence: placid pools choked of a streaming consciousness. Familiarity has evaporated fresh thought, leaving me with more of the same. Where are the revelatory insights? Do they come and go? Do I implore the world for more of her wisdom? or do I dig and mine for it from within? And what of the world and my proper place in it? Do I tell stories? do I listen to stories? or do I create them?

I am surrounded by enablers. People that feed my ego, that affirm the worth I continually seek to discard. I need to molt, to metamorphisize into something grander. Can this happen in my current state? Should I seek new frontiers? How should I employ my experience? How should I demonstrate my value? Where might I find something that doesn’t reek with past association? What is it that I am trying to escape? Where does this restlessness arise? Do I stab at it with self criticism? Do I strangle it with satisfaction?

But I want to do great, I say, want to change the world in an unprecedented way. I keep my eyes cocked, one pointed outward toward the world, the other inward toward my soul, to achieve balance, I say, but I only become disoriented. What will salvage this soul of mine? Is it literate? Do I leverage words over the minds of men, persuade them to embrace the clairvoyent alms I offer, the values I impart to the world? Do I act as a torch to light the way? And who will light my path? Is that for me alone? Or do I light the torches within other men, one by one, so that they become their own beacon, their own true north?

There are only questions, endless seas spanning leagues and chasms and planes. If I was a bird; I would have a voiced graced by divine inspiration and wings to carry me above the rising currents that bake the earth. I could soar across new landscapes, traverse valleys and streak up the hills, catch secret shade in towering canopies, and greet frontiers of wide open blue. Where is my place in this world? Is it in words, in symbols, in relations? Do I steep myself in meditation, in reflection? Or do I act with unrequited abandon and throw myself into the world? But the balance, you say, the moderation that beckons every stable being, where is that in this wide open dream?

Facebook, these digital landscapes, falsifies reality. The updates. The information. We are drowning in information. Do we need more knowledge? Does this world need more knowledge? More abstracted meaning? More stuff to fill our minds, to clog our souls, to muddle our mental machinery? I believe we are overflowing with information. Do we need more scientists? What of all the science we have? Are we getting any closer? What is the end, here? What have we achieved? Is our society any better off? Are we any better off? Do we have any more answers than when we started? So what is the goal? Should we make more of an effort to learn more? To stuff our brains with more symbols, more words? Will that provide the meaning, the answers? Will that suffice? I believe we have reasoned from the wrong premises, and our conclusions, natural as they may be, will fail us. I want to start over. From where?

I will secure a j-o-b soon. I type it like that because it’s often said like that, as if the word contains a frightful taboo, a terrifying reality that we should shield ourselves from. Upon securing this job, what have I to do then? Apply myself, earnestly produce value for my employer, all in the name of a paycheck, in the name of some core values and mission statement coined in a conference room by men wearing pin striped suits whose aim is to devise a moral incentive to maintain company performance. Workers are numbers, applicants, positions: faceless and nameless in the sea of business, in the market of operations. Performance is dictated by necessity, and beliefs are formed accordingly. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed, cash to accumulate, things to buy that extol our worth and achievement, and suddenly work becomes meaningful. But when all of that is provided, life suddenly becomes meaningless. The only outlet is pure self-expression, artistic screams that cry for some transcendental worth to imbue activity with meaning. But the crowds are fickle, and appealing to them for direction and value is a fruitless endeavor. No, you must dictate direction and value to the crowds.

Figures in authority ask the questions. It is not your place to question me if you are inferior, they say. Who do you think you are? I ask the questions, and you provide the answers. Let us educate our workforce in this way, silly complacent children.

The boys come and go. They are preoccupied with the thoughts of others. They seek approval of their worth, so they act the part, play the role, pander to the appraisal of others. Their lives, like most others, are empty; their own thoughts do not stay close but pass through them like a sieve. What is retained is a shallow film scraped from the sides of their hollow canisters. It is the same grime, the same soot, the same slime that festers across the airwaves, that penetrates the media madness, that trickles across the ticker, that dawdles down the twitter. The same information, reaffirming our crumby selves, our empty selves, devoid of self imposed rule, of self affirmed value. We become machines, with machine minds and machine hearts, latticed with everyone else’s ideas, with everyone else’s dreams, pipe dreams.

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.

praefātiō

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.

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

IV.

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.

V.

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. 

VI.

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.

VII.

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.

VIII.

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.

IX.

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.

X.

Recall: The more mass the more resistance to change.

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.

Waverly

I’m tired. My sleeping patterns have wavered the past week or so. It all started with those books. Books. I buy books, then I read for hours, well into the night and the early hours of the morning, then I wake up for class, pound a coffee and do it all over again. It’s wearing on me, I think.

My eyes are burning. I feel used. Spent. Maybe I thought way too much today. Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe I’ve been thinking too much lately. It’s just that I’ve been over joyed with learning. I feel like I’ve been so honest with myself, with my progress and shortcomings that everything seems clearer. I know this is likely a short lived phenomenon, but I appreciate it none the less. I love feeling enthusiastic. I love possessing the stamina to read or write twelve, sometimes fifteen hours a day. But I know it’s not sustainable. I’m likely to crash. But I suppose that’s avoidable if I just sleep when I’m suppose to and get my enthusiasm under wraps. I just can’t help myself. When I get excited about a topic I become utterly possessed by the idea, it prevades every aspect of my thought and feelings. It literally consumes me. I read about it, I study it, I meditate on it, I talk about it with just about anyone that will listen. Then I write it out, in my journal, in this here blog, in notebooks or post its or napkins or my iphone. I just let ideas pour out of me, and they’re seemingly endless. It’s an amazing feeling and it goes on just about as long as I continue letting myself read and think about it. If I get distracted or drink excessively or do dull monotonous things, my brain slows down and my interests dampen and everyting seems to squeal to a halt.

Anyway. I’ve been thinking about so much lately, so so much. I’ve been feeling extra perceptive and I love it. I must have read four or five books this month, in addition to my eighteen credits of class.

I’m going on road trip for Spring break. My room mates and I are trucking it clear across the country. Destination: Venice beach. But we plan on taking numerous stops along the way, state parks, dive bars, exotic wonders, with plenty of local lore hunting. We’re borrowing a top notch camera so that we can document and capture all the thrilling adventures. It’ll make it more of a fun project in addition to just being memorable.

I’m tired. I’m feeling… alright. Mentally, I feel fantastic. I literally can’t get enough of life. I love it. Physically, well, usually I feel great.  It’s… holy shit. 2:30 in the morning. I need to sleep. I also need to exercise.

I haven’t spent a tremendous amount of time reflecting generally. My thoughts have mostly been preoccupied with sociological phenomenon, cultural ills, or economic problems. I’ve been trying to figure them all out, trying to crack the code, as they say, and arrive at some brilliant insight. We’ll see. I just keep reading and thinking and focusing and it’s bound to do me some good.

Many people would look at me and ask themselves what it is I’m looking for. They would try to pin point some feature in my past that would explain my eccentric, erratic, passionate, and sometimes crazed obsessions with various ideas. And they’re bound to come up with something. I mean, Freud did an awfully good job coming up with plenty of theories. Granted, they’re completely unscientific and mostly crap. But entertaining.

So to those who think I’m “looking” for something, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to disappoint you because, honestly, I’m not. I have found what I am looking for: my self. What you are observing is me getting to know myself through the process of learning, of mind expansion, or fervent feeling. We all spin our wheels some how or some way, whether it’s watching TV or exercising or pursuing careers. In the end the result is all the same. The difference is, however, learning expands the consciousness, it allows the mind to unfold and emerge in a wholly original way. My exploration is not in the world, it is within me. With or without the books this will take place. I will continue reading, continue writing, continue challenging assumptions, continue gleaning understanding of the facts and more importantly, of the relationships that govern interaction among things and people.

My eyes feel heavy. Not my eye lids. The actual globe, the fleshy pocket of purple fluid suspending my vision. It sinks into the socket as I lay here, gravity’s grip, that unrelenting force.

I watch myself age. Twenty five years old. Twenty five years on this planet. There is no arriving, there is only passing. Life passes us by. Some of us are busy moving, some busy thinking, some busy sitting or waiting or watching. The effect is all the same.  Society is cruel to some, especially the uneducated. The have no power, no language to leverage, no assets with which to will, to assail others with. But education takes place in reflection, not in brick and mortar mortuaries, what we call schools, but in the citadel of our mind, where language resides, the seat of being. And we educate by having discourse with ourselves, by practicing that proven mark of higher order consciousness: reflection. Text may facilitate some thoughts, and I would argue that it is one of the best ways, but books don’t do the work for you. They don’t make the connections for you. They don’t synthesize with past information and learning and make new material in the mind. That is reserved for reason. So I argue, any man can be educated so long as he reflects, so long as he meditates on his thoughts, not the new age nothingness, but dwell in substance so that new connections and relationships arise and are strengthened.

 

Wisdom

When asked as a child what superpower I would possess if I could pick any in the world, my response was always wisdom. While this doesn’t seem too imaginative or come across as a terribly fantastical response that you’d expect most children to provide to such a question, looking back it’s probably the most imaginative of all.

Growing up in a “Godly house”, my parents emphasized the role of the Bible as the leading narrative in our home. From an early age one particular story struck me so profoundly that it shaped me forever: the story of King Solomon (1 Kings 3-4; 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72). The parable involves two women arguing before the King in an effort to win ownership over a infant child. These women gave birth just days apart, but one woman rolled over on her child while sleeping and killed it, and now she was claiming that the other woman’s child was her own. King Solomon, being the wisest man who ever lived, listened to these women intently before he requested his sword. He reasoned, if both the women claim ownership over the baby, let them both have it: cut the baby in half!

At this the real mother fell before his feet and begged him to spare the child, to give her son to the other woman. The other woman was ambivalent, saying to cut the baby in half so that neither would have one.  At this Solomon stopped the baby’s execution and pointed at the first mother, saying “She is the real mother, give the baby to her.”

Though simple, this story struck me powerfully in my youth. What was most curious about the stories of Solomon was that because he requested wisdom and judgment over riches and power, he was rewarded with all of these and more! In my youth I reasoned that wisdom was the key to achieving all other desires. More fascinating is that the motivation for his request of wisdom sprung from his desire to be a servant, to serve god.   Being a servant requires humility, it requires that the subjective ego disappears in favor of another perspective, a more objective perspective devoid of bias or valuations or deires. This attitude of being a servant is necessary for learning more generally.

However, one must not stay a servant. Eventually, after accumulating enough knowledge and wisdom, one must become the leader, become the intrepid visionary who creates alternative realities for others to hope in; future worlds charged with the character of progress. George Bernard Shaw said it best: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself; therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” Be reasonable while you are learning, but tenacious and unrelentingly when enacting a vision. Being reasonable is a static state; being unreasonable is a fluid state. Adaptation requires the fluidity of change. The span of life is unreasonable and changing– only moments are reasonable, but there are far too many moments to reason.

Ironically, the downfall of Solomon was pleasure. It’s the same struggle told throughout history between mind and body. His lust for women, for pleasurable indulgence of the body, caused him to undermine his wisdom, his mind, and use poor judgment. This is a timeless parable between being caught up in the tangible short-lived things of the world and being obedient to the external qualities of mindful wisdom.

Now, I’m not a religious man. I consider myself very worldly, recalling the Socratic wisdom “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world” and the quote by Thomas Paine “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” I believe in experience, not abstract symbolism and language with no immediate or demonstrable footing. I will not feign the metaphysical, the supernatural, the spiritual. There is one spirit, one universal consciousness that imbues all experience with meaning and power, and that is possessed by me alone. The Other minds aid as intermediaries in my journey, but no single Other nor text nor image nor experience will provide the answers I seek. It is the collective combination that yields wisdom; the synthesis of history with the present. And this task is reserved for me alone.

Psychiatric Evaluation Age 14
Psychiatric Evaluation Age 14: My sagacity quickly devolved quickly beyond number three.

The above screen shot is from a psychiatric evaluation conducted when I was 14. Though my fascination with wisdom began when I was much younger, it has persisted throughout my life, leading me to study philosophy (love of wisdom) and economics (law of the house).

The Great Dichotomy: Passionate Power

Random musings.

Money to get power, and power to guard the money.”
~Medici family motto

Dichotomies are interesting. Many are none other than existential paradoxes: mind and body, thought and matter, possibility and necessity, spiritual and physical,  and the list goes on. Kierkegaard, as well as Nietzsche and other agents of enlightenment, was a literary guru when it came to expounding upon how to live with these irreconcilable realities. Over the years I’ve learned to cope with the resulting blindness of these realities, the otiose character of life and the recondite disunion of body and soul. I’ve compromised with myself and learned to live with one eye pointed inward and the other pointed outward so as to balance introspection and aspiration.

In recent years I’ve faced a dilemma of deciding what to do with my life and career. It’s not like I didn’t see this crisis coming, but I guess I didn’t realize how many times I would be wrestling with my conclusions and convictions. Despite the temporary setbacks and failures mottling my youth, I’ve orchestrated my education beautifully over the years, exploiting a multitude of disciplines of thought and growing ever cognizant of how achievement is actualized. I’ve gone to great pains to realize the context of my condition and the contingencies of my aspirations.

Out of my experience grew two concentrations of study, economics and philosophy, each representing the broader dichotomies encompassing life. One satisfies my intuitions about what I perceive other people to value, the other regards what I value in my heart. I’ve tried to reconcile these over the years and explain why this dichotomy exists, whether a balance can be achieved, or what direction I should favor. For a long time I decided to refuse to sell out. But this clashed with the omnious system that I would face upon entering the workforce: success seemed tantamount to abiding to the myriad of expectations laid out by others.  As I have no trust fund to lean on for support, no assets to buy my way into fortune (compounding investment: you must have money if you wish to accumulate more money), I faced the reality that no upper echelon would endorse my musings, my art, my thoughts, unless I belonged to them, to their network or, by chance, satisfied their criterion of worth.

The citizen of the world in me refused to conform to the ‘system’, to the authority that dictates standardized achievement and propagates worldly values. The autonomy within me bucked as I studied philosophy and developed the tools and methods for critical inquiry, tools I used to ridicule the backward nature I learned to see in the world. The pragmatic element of my spirit recognized the utility of conformity and uptook various preoccupations that would fashion my mind according to them, such as the study of economics and finance.

But I ask myself: what does it take to be successful? I always like referring to the context in question. I’m American. I live in a ‘democratic’ country where the few rule the many. The few in this case are not the parasitic politicians (although in many cases, when it’s convenient, they are one in the same). The politicians are figureheads, merely the arm or scepter of power, not the head of governance. The true source of governance and power resides in the wealthy, the capitalists, the business owners, the stock holders. These are the greats that arbitrate the economic and political atmosphere. They embody the will to power. They pass the laws, set the wages, orchestrate the commerce, conduct the symphonious marketplace we’re lead to believe is free and open. The current sentiment is that if governance is left to the people, we’ll be in a real mess. The populous is simply a bewildered herd, uneducated and incapable of self-rule. (The Wagner Act of 1935 was the last real effort of the masses to mobilize. Since then these efforts have been squashed. Unions are ‘evil’ and communist.) This is why we live in a ‘democratic republic’ where we elect a small group of ‘leaders’ to instruct the masses on which policies they should live by.

To be successful you must be a sycophant. More specifically, you must possess utility for those in power. If you cannot help these people achieve more power, you are worthless and will amount to nothing more than a cog, expendable and interchangeable. But the wealthy will not extend a job or opportunity to just anyone with ample capacity and a strong will. No. They must be familiar with you. You must possess some wealth, influence, charisma, intelligence, talent or power that they can leverage for their own gain. Posterity is as empty as truth. Rationality is an instrument of the powerful: they dictate the rules of the game, the vernacular, the premises and logical structure of your success.

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” (Nietzsche)

Rationality is a function of motives, of intention. Pin-point desires and motivations and you can construct a cathedral of reason to leverage against those in power to mutually achieve independently contrived ends.

The questions that have wracked my mind most over the years: Do I follow my heart or my mind? Do I follow my passions or my prudence? What it’s come down to is that, given the current state of affairs, given my context as a young American, passions are prized only in youth, as is freedom. With the coming of age what is most prized is security, with the passions left to fantasy much like the irrealism of dreams are left to enamoring vagaries. We discard our passions and convictions, our fantastical visions of grandeur for a better world, in favor of a ‘realism’ scented with a dark cynicism that dispels illusion, that acquiesces under the ‘system’ that we obey out of sheer necessity grown from our will to survive. What has been trampled is our will to power, but it is never too late to revive this urge.

The artists, when they are not lining the capitalists pockets with profits, are simply muses in the most passive sense of the term. These artists are no longer concerned with inspiring as much as they are fixed on entertaining, or ‘amusing’, for their agenda is the same as the capitalists: money. They render the audience as docile and facile as possible, getting them in a blurred frenzy, caught up in emotion, totally distracted from the realities that oppress their sad existence. The poorest, the most impoverished left with only their intangible dreams, love these entertainers the most. Since they cannot live through possessions and materialism they escape through fantasy, artificial emotions induced through hollow emotives.

I’ve decided I want to sell out, for a time. I want to master the system so I can one day create the system. Considering my background, I’ve played my cards right up until now: the best university, the best internships, solid degrees, great grades. What is necessary now is to capitalize on these achievements instead of forfeiting them for the preponderances of my heart, the longings of my spirit, the existential conundrums I unravel in my reflections.

What I need to do is exploit the source of power for my ends: finance. I need to get into the industry where all the wealthy have a mutual stake. Wealth is the common denominator of power. Investment banking, wealth advising, asset management.

I need to toss these ephemeral thoughts about passion, about right and wrong, about selfless creation, to the garbage. They are fruitless. If I want to succeed, I must capitalize on my strengths: people skills, smooth talking, will-power, vision, charm, intelligence, good nature, pleasant appearance. I can be obedient. My rebellious nature was resistant to obey arbitrary authority, and my attitude throughout school and to my superiors proves this. But this needs to be corrected if I am to succeed and dominate. I must fawn these superiors in order to advance. There are many who wish to succeed, but only those who stroke the ego’s of those holding the keys to power will allow be to ascend to their true potential. I look around me and I see so much talent. Young automatons do everything right, except they haven’t a clue that doing everything right has a ceiling. You must not only serve the interest of your superiors, you must also create value for them, you must learn to hijack and supplant their vision with yours in order to aid them in their accumulation and concentration of capital. In this way achievement is guaranteed.

Morality does not exist. There are no facts, only interpretations. You cannot have a universal moral conscience as a businessman, as a ruler of wealth: only a fabricated justification that accepts the inequality of man as a rule. Nietzsche said, “The reasons for which ‘this’ world has been characterized as ‘apparent’ are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable.” Those in power dictate these reasons. Their are the moral clergymen.

It’s interesting to consider the influence of media control. The media is the mouthpiece of the powerful. As Chomsky said in his book Media Control, “Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

Who rules the world? The powerful, the elite. These are the American ruling class. We elect proffered politicians which have been paid for by these elite with the single agenda of taming the bewildered herd, of keeping the masses complacently compliant.

Slavery was replaced by share cropping, which has been replaced by credit and loans: all of these forms of debt rob the citizens of equality, life and liberty, and it’s legal. Bankruptcy laws. Capital gains taxes. Trickle down economics. Sub-prime mortgage lending. Failed education reforms: No child left behind. The war on drugs. The rise in pharmaceutical psycho-therapeutics. Currency manipulation: Coinage Act of 1972. Foreign wars and fear mongering, communism, creating enemies like Russian and terrorists as a means of keeping the populous paralyzed and fearful, of keeping their attention turned outward instead of inward. All creating fear. All manufactured to suit the ends of the elite. All propaganda.

Truth and lies are one in the same. They condemn or praise according to which subjective end you are most vested.

 

Dys-

Monsters we are, monsters that hide under flesh, gleaming eyes, sharp teeth, foul breath. We wait for dark to settle, for the shadows of ignorance to blanket the mind, then we sink our teeth and claws into your cold dead flesh. We don’t like the live ones, but that isn’t a worry since there’s so few of them, the live ones. We sink and we tear and we rip and we shred, then we mash meat and gargle blood and floss our jagged teeth with the sinews. We live like this because we want to wake people, we want to scare people from their desultory dreams, but we find that not only are these people unmoved and unperturbed, they’re altogether dead. There is no heinous crime desecrating the sleeping dead.

Flowers line the walkway. Little children in white dresses saunter ahead dropping petals as they walk. Oak trees sway as rays of light poke through the branches and land on the path before me. I grasp her hand and squeeze gently an affirmation of assurance, of our bond.  The children vanish and I am left staring into a hand holding only a pen, a slender cylindrical pen dark as the ink it jets. I continue weaving these fabrications onto paper before I hear a ring for supper. I  close my book and head downstairs to discover my family laying on the floor, in a heap, dismembered and bleeding, their eyes still open, their mouths still gaping their last gasp. They’ve been dead for weeks now but the stench is hardly the concern, rather its the putrified puddles of blood and bile now squirming with fly larva. I grab a stack of books on the stairs and lay them before me in the humors, like stepping stones, and make my way to the kitchen.  A waft of turkey liver titillates my nostrils just as I pop open the microwave. My favorite.

The hedges trimmed nicely, I thought. The sidewalk is swept and the mailboxes are full with new news. I observe a serry of school boys across the way huddled under the stop sign. They were probably in college by the looks of their swagger. Boat shoes and collared tees, frayed hats and cigarettes, all coupled with a laughter that bellowed into the air like toxic smoke that choked my lungs. I wanted to go over and begin strangling them all, one by one, but prudence stepped in.

Prudence was my dog. He had long white hair, as most sheep dogs do, and it dragged through every puddle and dirt pile he made his way through. This dog had particularly bad taste in women. He was always fond of the older types, the ones with fake teeth and hair rollers who wore stockings whenever they made trips to the seven eleven. It was their flesh he liked most of all. Maybe it was because Prudence was old and his senses were far less keen than what they use to be, but he loved to nuzzle and lick the crotch of these old ladies to their delight. It was a dog thing. They understood it. But they loved it. And if it wasn’t entirely inappropriate they would have taken Prudence home and made’em their own.

I pressed the weight, squeezing my will against the bar, pressing the fibers, contracting them together with enough force to pop the blood vessels in my face. When I was finished with the last rep I fell down and collapsed to the ground, grabbing my chest in pain. The hate, don’t go– I yelled– don’t leave me. Surely enough the hate returned and I began to reharness that focus and apply that hate to the weight. This is how strength is born.

Continue reading “Dys-“

Liberalism: Making Mankind into Cattle

Liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle.
-Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878). I.67

What does this mean? Liberalism, in the philosophical sense that Nietzsche is using it, is an ethical framework in which man is free, equal, and autonomous. While this conception of man resonates with most as evidently true, I maintain that this is an illusory conception of man. Do we really believe that we are free? Equal? Autonomous? As with most comforting notions, we avow these ideals simply as a means of preserving the familiar, a mechanism of evasion that allows us to avoid the biting reality of our situation; namely, that we are not free, nor are we equal and autonomous.

What does Nietzsche mean when he says that liberalism is the transformation of mankind into cattle? It is the process in which individuality is smoothed over en masse, in which minds are watered down into a cloudy collective consciousness, where man is no longer a thinking spirit that possesses a unique soul but a mere facsimile. Being lead to believe that our thoughts are freely chosen, that we are as valuable as any man, that we can choose according to a unique volition, we cease to employ our internal reason, fail to reflect on our position, and assume that the ideals in which we derive our greatness are a right rather than a product.

I insist that freedom is a state of being that follows from mind, but my fellow man would hold that freedom is a state of existence that follows from body. Where these most evidently diverge, in my opinion, is when man finds himself in a state of perfect equilibrium.

When man has all his bodily needs satisfied, with every desire or whim or passion cared and provided for so that nothing is wanting, do we have a free man? Such a man would be no more free than a domesticated animal whose instincts have been muted and dulled, like an animal coddled and conditioned with pleasures generated by no necessity of its own. My fellow man, swept up in his allegiance toward the sensational, would insist that a man with all his desires satisfied is free, for what more could he want? But I would ask whether this standard– of having pleasure metted out in proportion to wants– is a good mark of freedom. Where does this standard leave man? In a perfect state of equilibrium. But is equilibrium man’s greatest achievement, his highest aim, the natural denouement of successful living?

I must ask myself more about equilibrium to discover whether this is a good measure for judging man. What is equilibrium? A state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces, an equality of balance, a calmness. From this definition I would ask whether we could equate equilibrium with man’s desire for self-preservation; is their aim one in the same?  Self-preservation is a process of maintenance of body and mind, so as to keep alive or conserve existence, or make lasting. In this light, equilibrium and self-preservation seem to be compatible states, achieving one in the same end, namely balance or preservation.

I must implore, however, as to whether this situation is reflective of nature, or a product of man’s mind? Is nature constantly seeking to retain equilibrium? Is life characterized by preservation?

Let’s observe the most obvious characteristics, in my mind, of natural experience: when my mind meets with the impressions afforded to me by my senses, there are two reigning features which traverse through all collective experience past and present. These being the continuity of consciousness and the constancy of change. The continuity of consciousness, I can conclude, is not a feature of experience, for even when I sleep I possess a consciousness, but a feature of mind alone. The constancy of change, however, is a guarantee endemic to nature, indelibly present throughout the physical world, that renders every moment of experience wholly unique and never the same.

Can we say that equilibrium and change are synonymous features? Certainly not. Does life stay the same, or is it in perpetual change? I would reply that life is in perpetual change, for I am not the boy of  my youth, neither is a frog still a tadpole or butterfly a caterpillar.

To exist occurs in the moment, to live occurs over moments. I hold then, that equilibrium is death, whereas disequilibrium is life. In this way existing is a mode of self-preservation, whereas living is a mode of thriving.

In summation, the satisfaction of desires, the end of want, places man in a state of equilibrium that is typified by the complacent tranquility which is characteristic of death. For man to be truly alive he must evolve, he must seek out disequilibrium, living in a state of anxiety and incertitude. To do this, man must not feign satisfaction, nor be satisfied with equilibrium.

Freedom, then, is disequilibrium, a form of living that transcends and expands consciousness. When change occurs, the man living in disequilibrium, having no complacent expectations, and always ready for change, does not flinch nor does he hesitate to move or act or think. His life is a fluid change.

This is freedom. Not all men possess it. Those who do act alone.

“Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks—those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.”
—Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Evidence Review: Cost Effective Policies for Improving Health and Longevity in America: Education and Maternal-Fetal Nutrition 
Barker-Hypothesis Policies

Introduction
Cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and other obesity related health complications are among the top killers of American adults today. As these illnesses have grown increasingly more prevalent over the years they have taken the lead as the greatest contributors to rising health care costs. The aim of this paper is to identify how these diseases develop and address ways for preventing the onset of  chronic illness in order to improve health and longevity as a means of potentially curbing the rising cost of U.S. health care. Citing strong evidence, I posit that the single-most significant factor for improving national health is the proper maternal nutrition during the critical intrauterine, neonatal, and postnatal periods of child development. Additionally, I hypothesize that while maternal education programs may result in positive changes to a mother’s diet during her pregnancy period, it is the cost, availability and ease of access to quality nutritional foods which are tied to a country’s cultural lifestyles, and individuals’ socioeconomic class that primarily influences the success of this education policy.

Continue reading “Evidence Review: Cost Effective Policies for Improving Health and Longevity in America: Education and Maternal-Fetal Nutrition 
Barker-Hypothesis Policies”

Working Dreams

I’m looking forward to entering the workforce. Living by myself in a one bedroom apartment in some new city, working for a company who sets my goals and pays my bills, was exactly the dream I’ve been working so hard for. That’s a lie, actually. I haven’t actually been working that hard, and that was definitely never a dream of mine. Life’s easy when you believe in what you’re doing. What’s hard is doing what you don’t believe in. That’s the position I’m finding myself in now.

As a child I always wanted to be a ‘businessman’, the one with the sharp suit, slick tie, shiny shoes and silver watch.  I wanted to hold the leather briefcase, wear the million dollar smile, eyes gleaming with confidence, and walk into work knowing that my decisions that day would change the world. Of course, you don’t consider the years in between, the entry level positions, running yourself to the bone for someone else’s promotion. Nor do you imagine the lonesome tired nights spent standing at your apartment window, staring over the suburbs and city, searching memories for the last time you’ve shared an intimate experience outside the workplace. I didn’t exactly dream of the dinners by myself, the long commutes, the coworkers that I affectionately love and hate, because while I chose the job, I didn’t choose them. I didn’t think to conceive what it would be like starting over again in a new place, time and time again, and how it would feel to cultivate new friendships, new conversations and tastes, new social networks in alien cities with every new promotion and transfer. I didn’t choose them, and I didn’t choose my loneliness. I chose success, the harder work and longer hours, the lack of leisurely weekends.

So nice to see you! I pull my cheeks upwards and release a smile. We talk about their new job, about the company they’re so excited to work for, about their entry level position that they didn’t see themselves in, but now they love it. Now they love it, because the dreams they once had didn’t consider the dull reality that was waiting for them. Disappointment is hard to swallow.

We were told that our education, our hard work, makes us special, gives us a life of opportunity. Sometimes I believe it.

Update

Classes have begun. I drove down the coast last weekend, stopping through NJ, MD, VA and finally made it to Nashville after 1400 grueling miles. Thank god for the iphone. I don’t condone surfing the internet while driving, but I would lose my mind if I couldn’t read on ten hour long car drives.

My room is situated and, for the most part, furnished and clean. I still need to unpack a few more boxes of books and organize my three books shelves. Our living room is empty, save a TV. Our dining room hosts three fold-able chairs and a fold-able table. Classy. My room mates are all clean, enjoy health and fitness, school, reading and learning. It’s an amazing combination. We all play guitar, we all do outdoor activities, we all philosophize. Couldn’t be happier really. The job search has begun *dun, dun, dun*. I dropped my metaphysics class in favor of a more realistic classload so I could focus on interviews and job searching. Besides, speculating about the problem of why there is so much evil in the world isn’t on my list of priorities, especially because I don’t really believe in evil. So, I’m in the process of updating my five page resume to a single page; something that seems like a daunting feat. Five classes, VP of the fraternity, and minimal other obligations. So far so good. I’m in the process of securing an internship at a local healthcare clinic so I can gain experience that will prove valuable during job interviews for healthcare IT companies such as Huron Consulting, HCA, EPIC Systems and Sage Intergy. I’d like to get a job on the sales and implementation side of things. Its a burgeoning market and I figure I need to jump on the wave before it closes out.

Our apartment complex is pretty amazing. Multiple pools, grills with free propane, workout gyms, a business center with free copying, among other things. The apartments themselves are pretty chic with wood fire places and a decent deck. I have the master bedroom, complete with a mega bathroom, walk-in closet, and a ridiculous amount of extra space despite my queensize bed, bookshelves, and desk.

So. I’m gonna resume writing. About? Not sure. I’ll resume with my crazy thoughts. Log about my days. Log about material I’m learning in class.

 

A little story, for fun

Went to the bar tonight. Met some chick who was thoroughly interested in me. This was a funny situation. She showed genuine interest, made the bold move of coming up to me and engaging in conversation, and continued showing interest even when I didn’t have much of a care to. She was cute. I was attracted to her. I decided to reciprocate and show her some interest. Talked. Talked. Talked. She excused herself. Some other chick began talking to me. I saw this girl pass as unobviously but obviously in search of me as possible. Almost out the door before I excused myself and asked where she was going. No matter. Continued talking. Probably slipped a little when I said I was waiting for her and the only reason I was still around was to see her. Hah. No matter. Gushing flirtation is bearable so long as it happens once and only once, and she was still engaged, so I was safe. So we talked. Talked more. At this point it was getting late, our joyful flirtations were beginning to grow relatively stale, for my taste anyway, and I was thinking about going to bed, with her. But I waffled and asked myself if she was worth it, if I really wanted to have sex with her, to continue our little banter out the bar, into my car, and into my bed. I asked myself if she was worth talking to tomorrow morning when I woke up and she needed a ride back to campus. In spite of these reservations we continued talking in the hopes that my man muscle would over power my reason. Then one of my friends came up to me in the midst of it all and mentioned she was hooking up with one of our mutual friends. Hooking up? Does that mean sex? I asked. No. So fair game. I thought it was humorous when I heard the name of who it was, but everyone has their tastes and I’m not one to judge. So among our extended conversations I noticed the guy was standing directly behind me. For whatever god forsaken reason I decided to be a little douch’ie and point out he was there. Hey look who it is, I motioned, it’s your boy. It was half joking, and I quite honestly expected her to get embarrassed and reject or ignore him. What turned out happening was pretty much what I expected, minus the rejection part. It got weird. He made a successful effort to make it awkward, which I happily acknowledged as awkward. He made some jokes and pretending to be retarded. Yea. I was totally lost as to what he was trying to do. Some retarded skit of his where he literally acts retarded and tells jokes, sorta like Jimmy south park style. Then he excused himself momentarily. The chick was pretty flustered. I asked if she was okay, and what the hell that was. She responded with a typical go-to, I’m so drunk I’m not sure what’s happening. So then I asked, are you a classy girl? she laughed and asked what classy was. I responded with, classy is having good taste. She laughed, I laughed, then, I think, she got my insinuation and excused herself. Good riddance. The next I saw her she had retreated to his presence. I find the whole thing laughable really.

So I decided to dip out at that point. No need for petty hook ups with desperate girls slooting it around. I drove home and, upon entering the gated community, I began tailgating this white mercedes. The only reason I was tailgating, in gods honest truth, was because there are typically zero parking spots at that time of night and I hoped to snake one from this car. From my car I see three blonde heads and a set of blue beady eyes lasering in on me from the back seat. We maneuvered throughout the parking lot, slowly, cause they rode their brakes in an effort to aggravate me and stall my persistent inclination to tailgate. No matter. It didn’t deter me and I rode practically on top of them. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we ended up parking right next to eachother. Some blonde girl gets out of the car and quickly approaches me as I get out, asking, do you always have the nerve to tailgate in a parking lot? I laughably responded with, only when I’m drunk and really wanna get a parking spot before you. That ameliorated the tension for a moment, then I noticed two other striking blondes step out of the car. I subconsciously asked myself if I had died and gone to heaven on the way home. False. No matter, it was a close second.

I continued talking with these girls in a playful manner as they hassled me for tailgating. Their initial aggression quickly evaporated as I laughed and smiled sheepishly while I explained that I was really trying to steal a spot from them. We continued our conversation as I walked towards my building, then they hassled me about following them. I responded that they were stalking me and probably knew were I lived and were waiting to follow me inside. It was all fun. Their names? Emily, Virginia, Chelsea… I think. The last one, Chelsea, was by far the most attractive, and it’s funny cause I spent the least time looking or acknowledging her, and I wish I hadn’t. Again, and I need to reiterate, the last one was by far the most stunning, with sharp delicate features, a petite and slender figure, and pleasant almond eyes with plush flowing blonde hair. The other two had recently graduated from ole miss. The third, Chelsea, although I’m almost certain that isn’t her name, had graduated from the ‘state’, or Mississippi state after I reflected a moment on what the hell that meant. They lived in my building. When we departed we said farewell and I voiced that I was hoping to see them again. Despite their coy reluctance to embrace my good humor and genuine nature, they were definitely fond of me and I could see they were fighting to stop the smiles that enveloped their faces as I approached and introduced myself to all of them.
Is it weird that I’m recounting all this info? Ha. Nah.

So, moral of the story. Women are predictably unpredictable. So, nothing new learned today. But classes are good.

Job search… commenced. Good money, I hope. Let’s see if I can secure a healthcare consulting job within the next month. Cause frankly, that’s when they stop offering their job offers. ha.

Oh. And I’m trying to get mega jacked and in shape. I’ll continue updating my progress. I weigh 187. Ridiculously unsat. I need to convert that to 100% muscle stat. Gimme three weeks and I’ll be down 10 pounds of fat and a pound of two of mucscle. Woot. Love genetics. Cheers.

Lifestyle

Even though they’re my aunt and uncle, it’s still interesting living with another family. You get an intimate glimpse of a lifestyle you’d never otherwise encounter. I tend to analyze these things.

Anyway. This summer has been unusual. Worcester isn’t exactly the most exciting place in the world. Quite the contrary. It’s a bit drab. And considering it’s the second largest city in New England, rivaling Providence, you’d expect some variety in entertainment and social and cultural outlets. Not the case. I’m lenient though. There are thirteen colleges in the city, and it’s summer, so I can’t be too hard on the place. There isn’t very many people my age to be seen. You know where they go? Boston. And that’s where I should be on the weekends.

So what have I been doing with my time? Reading. Mostly vegetating. Hanging out with my seven year old cousin. Tip-toeing around my thirteen year old cousin who’s been sick and recovering from surgery due to appendicitis. You mustn’t upset temperamental sick people. So yea. My aunt is great. She’s got an awful lot of free time. Her job, I suppose, is being a house mom, working out, giving a few Pilates classes here and there in her gym/studio, and cutting or coloring hair in her salon. So she stays busy, but it’s mostly busy work, in my opinion. Now that it’s summer my uncle plays golf most of his days, so he’s generally in a good mood. ‘Business’ is what they call it, or ‘networking’. I’d love to get into that business. Or would I?

My boss generally works less than ten hours a week. He’s self made, doesn’t owe a dime to anyone, and has plenty of residual income that allows him to travel or spend money on a whim. A house here, vacation there, more boats, new cars, a pool and new landscaping, remodeling… it’s all fair game and he’s a fanatic about it. So I work with his other three partners who specialize in actually managing the wealth of their clients. I’m learning a good deal from them, but they aren’t exactly the managerial type. They mostly watch stock tickers, make phone calls to clients about how their investments are doing, or receive phone calls from anxious investors who get squeamish every time they see the market hiccup.

 

Brief Thoughts: Happiness

To those who say, “I’m on the pursuit of happiness.” I ruefully reply, “Happiness is never found; it is created, within you.”

I don’t even think it’s found within a person. It is always there. Happiness, like any feeling, is a choice. Some choices may be alien or uncomfortable, but we always have a choice, especially with something as fundamental as our thoughts.

I like to think of our thoughts as fodder and kindling. Some thoughts add to the flame within us, causing it to grow hotter and burn brighter. Other thoughts stifle this flame, causing it to whither and grow cold. Certain thoughts warm our insides, and the longer they burn, the longer we feel their warmth. Even in the face of life’s most brutal elements, where the coldest and harshest moments of life reside, we have all the necessary kindling within us to weather the storm. As humans, we generate life, feelings, entire worlds with our minds. Looking for and pursuing such things as happiness, as if they are not already in our possession, will only leave the flame within us unattended. We can’t rely on the chance of circumstance to animate our flame.

We bring happiness to the world. It is not something to be mined from the world. The world is nothing without an eye to perceive it, just as a home is nothing without inhabitants or a gift is nothing without someone to receive it. We bring our mind to the world, our eye to nature, and give it life. We rouse and rally and wake the world with a perceiving eye as much as the world rouses and rallies and wakes the perceiving mind. Anyway.

Assert Your Inner World

“There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.” -Hermann Hesse

To be is to be perceived. Perception is not a quality of the world, but of our mind.

Hesse is referring to the creative imagination, our ability to stipulate and synthesize original thoughts, or in this case concepts, to render new and original experience.

Concepts are not found in experience; we apply them to experience.

In short: When these words are perceived, concepts of understanding (categories, classifications, definitions) are brought a priori to experience in order to render it intelligibly. These a priori concepts of understanding mediate between subjective judgments of perception (derived from a posteriori sensations and a priori pure intuitions) to yield objective judgments of experience. You do not have direct access to external reality. Think of a priori concepts of understanding as the ‘interpretative lens’ or ‘conceptual structure’ used to intelligibly render and organize and categorize experience. The a priori concepts of understanding being applied determine the objective concepts of experience, and anything objective can be freely disputed by asserting alternatives.

I believe Hesse is asserting that the mind, being independent and a priori of experience, can choose to create and stipulate its own conceptual interpretative system for rendering experience from reality.  So that ‘when we change the way we look at the world, the world we look at changes.’

He is saying that people fail to question the concepts or ‘mental images’ dogmatically dictated outside them, viz. by society via convention, culture, routine, etc., and assert the freedom of their creative mind. When these patterns are broken new worlds will emerge.

Candidus: The Art of Suffering

Ah. To be happy. I can be happy. I am happy. But the dumb are happy. It doesn’t take guts to be happy. It takes guts to be sad. To endure hardship and suffering. Sure, happy is pleasurable. But imagine, just imagine a life that was entirely happy. I like to think that such a life would be terribly boring. Terribly nauseating. Like eating sugar at every meal, you’d get sick of it. Most people think that suffering is a curse. I tend to disagree, quite vehemently too. Suffering and sadness are blessings. They harden and humble a man. They make him more appreciative, more aware. And while they might callous soft skin, they deepen the capacity to care and contemplate, to hold more in.

To be happy: the dumb are happy. That is what I observe. Any blubbering idiot can be happy. But to be sad? This requires courage, but not just courage, it requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of the pleasures that preponder the mind night and day.

Amusing. I resent those who keep themselves constantly amused. Do you know what the word amuse stands for? It is a suspension of thought: ‘a’-‘muse’. As in, ‘no muse’. As in, to divert attention, inspiration or thought. The french came up with that one. It’s quite clever.

So we have a society that prides itself on amusement. It is a virtue to be amused. To be dumb.

Suffering and sadness create depth. I can always spot the deep thinkers. They’re the sensitive type, but you’d never know it by looking at them. They keep it in. Some people have the good fortune of being born sensitive. In these cases suffering and sadness are thrust upon them. For everyone else, well, they need to wait for misfortune. And some never have the fortune of misfortune.

But the suffering and sadness doesn’t just make people deep and contemplative. No. It makes them bold. Bold to be themselves. To be happy. To embrace it all. They know no boundaries. For them, fear has been found. They fear nothing. They understand that to fear suffering is to already suffer from what you fear. They realize that it is all apart of the play. For everyone else, they avoid pain. They avoid hardship, suffering. Their lives are a despairing denial. They seek comfort and in this comfort they water down their potential.

Some people run. They run from vulnerability. They run from pain. They run from ever really experiencing joy. Let them run. They run only from themselves, and then they never really know themselves. For them life is a sheet of paper containing wondrous lines and colors, but no depth.

Yes. The man who has suffered greatly finds himself at home even in the most terrifying worlds, worlds which most no nothing about. Ah yes. To be happy. You fool. Life is not always happy. You have bought the lie, swallowed the pill, forfeited your life.

Life is suffering. To embrace suffering is to embrace life. To avoid suffering is the strongest sentiment of death. When life hurts, know that you are alive.

Let us embrace the balance. Let us embrace the crests and troughs. The balance lies in the synthesis, the contrasts created by the peaks and valleys. To reside in the middle is lifeless. While the moments spent there are brief and good, a life in the middle, or at one extreme or the other, is a predictable flat line. Let’s find balance while undulating across the extremes. This way we can mark our progress by degree.

I believe that some people are born wild, while others are born domesticated. Some born free, others born slaves.

With a large intelligence and a deep heart comes the inevitability of pain and sadness. Great men, I think, must have great sadness.

Oh you disagree do you? What great achievement was ever won without the perspiration of pain? One must embody the discipline of driving through suffering and sadness.

I am happy. But I choose my moments. I prefer to be conscious, to have a pulse, rather than be happy. So this may be why I am always thinking. It is an involuntary response to being fully alive.

Candidus

Ah. To be happy. I can be happy. I am happy. But the dumb are happy. It doesn’t take guts to be happy. It takes guts to be sad. To endure hardship and suffering. Sure, happy is pleasurable. But imagine, just imagine a life that was entirely happy. I like to think that such a life would be terribly boring. Terribly nauseating. Like eating sugar at every meal, you’d get sick of it. Most people think that suffering is a curse. I tend to disagree, quite vehemently too. Suffering and sadness are blessings. They harden and humble a man. They make him more appreciative, more aware. And while they might callous soft skin, they deepen the capacity to care and contemplate, to hold more in.

To be happy: the dumb are happy. That is what I observe. Any blubbering idiot can be happy. But to be sad? This requires courage, but not just courage, it requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of the pleasures that preponder the mind night and day.

Amusing. I resent those who keep themselves constantly amused. Do you know what the word amuse stands for? It is a suspension of thought: ‘a’-‘muse’. As in, ‘no muse’. As in, to divert attention, inspiration or thought. The french came up with that one. It’s quite clever.

So we have a society that prides itself on amusement. It is a virtue to be amused.

Suffering and sadness create depth. I can always spot the deep thinkers. They’re the sensitive type, but you’d never know it by looking at them. They keep it in. Some people have the good fortune of being born sensitive. In these cases suffering and sadness are thrust upon them. For everyone else, well, they need to wait to misfortune. And some never have the fortune of misfortune.

But the suffering and sadness doesn’t just make people deep and contemplative. No. It makes them bold. Bold to be themselves. To be happy. To embrace it all. They know no boundaries. For them, fear has been found. They fear nothing. They understand that to fear suffering is to already suffer from what you fear. They realize that it is all apart of the play. For everyone else, they avoid pain. They avoid hardship, suffering. Their lives are a despairing denial. They seek comfort and in this comfort they water down their potential.

Some people run. They run from vulnerability. They run from pain. They run from every really experiencing joy. Let them run. They run only from themselves, and then they never know themselves. For them life is a sheet of paper containing wondrous lines and colors, but no depth.

Yes. The man who has suffered greatly finds himself at home even in the most terrifying worlds, worlds which most no nothing about. Ah yes. To be happy. You fool. Life is not always happy. You have bought the lie, swallowed the pill, forfeited your life.

Life is suffering. To embrace suffering is to embrace life. To avoid suffering is the strongest sentiment of death. When life hurts, know that you are alive.

Let us embrace the balance. Let us embrace the crests and troughs. The balance lies in the synthesis, the contrasts created by the peaks and valleys. To reside in the middle is lifeless. While the moments spent there are brief and good, a life in the middle, or at one extreme or the other, is a predictable flat line. Let’s find balance while undulating across the extremes. This way we can mark our progress by degree.

I believe that some people are born wild, while others are born domesticated. Some born free, others born slaves.

With a large intelligence and a deep heart comes the inevitability of pain and sadness. Great men, I think, must have great sadness.

Oh you disagree do you? What great achievement was ever won without the perspiration of pain? One must embody the discipline of driving through suffering and sadness?

I am happy. But I choose my moments. I prefer to be conscious, to have a pulse, rather than be happy. So this may be why I am always thinking. It is an involuntary response to being fully alive.

Anything to Anyone

(Unfinished excerpt)

“…There’s a point in everyone’s life when they realize their talent. For some this occasion arrives sooner than later, but nevertheless it arrives. If you were to ask me how I it is I came to acquire this talent, I might begin by giving you a breezy account of my upbringing, of the tumultuous transitions that marked my meandering life; or I might start off with a detailed account of my fascination with self mastery; or I might illustrate the parental influences that indelibly pressed upon my conscious. Whatever story I end up telling is more myth than fact. It may serve to inspire you,  kindle your fascination with me, feed your imagination; in the end they all serve an act of false generosity. False in the sense that it is the very talent in question that renders these myths.

To say my talent is people would be a gross underestimate. The more accurate telling would capture something supernatural and transient. You see, I am amorphous. I have no character that stolidly weathers the winds of time and the tides of change. But I am much more than my nebulous nature. I am a mimicking mirror: reflective, to a greater or lesser degree, of your exacting desires. There are no constraints, no guidelines, no rules, no method to this madness. It is a poetic perversion, a pantomime of subtle revelations mixed with mystery and madness, and nothing regular.

I work out of curiosity, out of the competitive challenge of can’t. I overcome these hurdles by moving myself towards a suit of interests. And when interests cannot be uncovered, it is my job to sow them.

You see, I can be anything to anyone. But surely, you say, this is manipulation, a farce of fabricated facades. I may disagree with fabricated facades, for they are surely fabricated and surer still facades, but I am by no means manipulative. On the contrary, my interests lie in you and you alone. There is no one else I hold in higher esteem. Your well-being is my well-being.

My vocation may be untraditional, but it is nonetheless legitimate and requires respect. It is not easy being other people. It demands constant work and attention, for people and their tastes are always changing. Fickle people. Fickle and flaky, but nonetheless predictable. If you do the thinking for them, that is. People begged to be swooned, to be lulled into a comfortable complacency. Defenses are an exhausting expenditure if there is no threat to counter or reward to reap. These walls always come down in time. Persistence is the key. Persistence and planning. If success is to be secured, you must increase probability with planning. Memorizing the mechanistic behaviors of man is just half of it. You must understand context, conventions, values, motives. Where are they from? With who do they acquaint? How do they behave? What do they value? Why do they act? To understand these is to understand the harrowing heart.

First and foremost, keep their best interest in mind, always. This must never escape the attention of your work. To absolutely achieve this, you must deny the self. You have no self. Subjugate whatever ego that sits at the window of your consciousness. He must observe from a far, with patience in mind. Every action is calculated for its long term returns, not the short term satisfactions. In this way the ego must sit idle and wait. His opportunities to whittle a path come at night, in solitude, under deep reflection.

A smile is the most disarming gesture you can offer. Let it

When you are something to someone, you become them. Their desires must be sought as if they are your own. More accurately, they are your own.”

 

Advance Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Life: Feeling and Thinking

Since when did you hear a man say “I think alive!” Never! No one thinks themselves to be alive. Life is left for feeling! “I feel alive!” says the man. There is nothing rational about life!

I like to entertain that, whereas the happy man feels, the sad man thinks. On a whole it seems that there are much less rational optimists than there are rational skeptics. More often than not, it seems, the happy are the irrational. The sad men are the skeptical, the realistic, the rational evaluators.

However, no one thinks himself into a fulfilling life overflowing with goodness. This is left for feeling. Rich, ripe feeling.

You cannot rationalize feeling. You can only move yourself into feeling. We are moved by our senses, by the sensuous stimuli composing experience. Life is meant for feeling. After all, we do not think senses cognitively; we feel senses intuitively. Likewise it is that we feel alive.

“I think myself to be happy” one might say. This would suggest that there are reasons for feeling. Does one need a reason to be happy? And what if there are no reasons? Is that good reason to feel any differently? Certainly not! We may give ourselves reasons to be sad, but we certainly don’t need these anymore than we need reason to be happy!

Let feelings stand alone, justified singly by the resolute rapture of existence!

Intelligence: Novel Enterprise & Life Outcomes

Intelligence should be reconsidered. Adaptability should be the measure of value.

“….more intelligent individuals are more likely than less intelligent individuals to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel preferences and values that did not exist in the ancestral environment and thus our ancestors did not have, but general intelligence has no effect on the acquisition and espousal of evolutionarily familiar preferences and values that existed in the ancestral environment.”     -Satoshi Kanazawa, The Hypothesis from The Scientific Fundamentalist: A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature

According to the Savanna Principle, The human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment. As a result, “more intelligent individuals should be better able to comprehend and deal with evolutionarily novel (but not evolutionarily familiar) entities and situations than less intelligent individuals.” According to The Hypothesis, the most intelligent among us should be most apt to engage in experience and adapt to entities that yield novel insight. To reiterate: this doesn’t mean they are best suited for dealing with the familiar entities that shaped them in past history, but that they are more capable of dealing with novel contemporary entities. That is, they are able to comprehend and deal with new challenges previously unpresented.

Fascinating really. Darwin said in one word or another:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

I believe intelligence should be reconsidered. Adaptability should be the central measure of value. Call it intelligence, but being able to respond to change should be the hallmark for mental progress.

I just read the article titled Why Intelligent People Use More Drugs posted in this series. Their conclusion:

People – scientists and civilians alike – often associate intelligence with positive life outcomes.  The fact that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume alcohol, tobacco, and psychoactive drugs tampers this universally positive view of intelligence and intelligent individuals.  Intelligent people don’t always do the right thing, only the evolutionarily novel thing.

The safe bet isn’t always the best bet, which is why people of stellar intelligence take risks. They push boundaries and explore the unknown. They are curious and desire to understand the farthest frontiers of experience. In this way they are more prepared for the changes to come.

More thoughts later.

Time to Wake.

Sirens blare. Startled, I turn from the corner of the room, away from the conversation, and head for the blackness. My heart rate heightens and I look for cover, pumping my legs, trying to escape the impending noise. The gravity tightens its hold and my legs grow heavy. I am anxious to run, but my steps are slow and weighted. I keep my eyes ahead and penetrate the darkness, looking for some safeguard. My thoughts are in a flurry. I am waiting to arrive; but there is no light. My pace slows and I pan my head side to side. Blackness. Why? Frightened, I look to retreat. The room is located behind me. My eyes stop at a celestial glow. It’s in the distance, a dim corner, floating in space, shining, like a world of its own. The human figures remain unmoved, still conversing. The echoless siren continues screaming. I want to yell, tell them to flee, but my voice is muffled. In a panic, I race towards them, wave my arms, try to get their attention. The glow remains fixed. I am not approaching. Blackness. It floats farther away. I want to grab it, hold it, save them, save myself. I am lost. I am alone. Anxiety takes hold. I begin to tremble. I close my eyes, but the darkness remains. I fall forward; I continue to fall, waiting for the crash, but it never comes. Sqeezing myself together, I curl into a ball to give myself some sense of groundedness. I try to imagine light; anything but the darkness. A crepuscular veneer begins to spill onto the edges of my world, slowly saturating my imaginings.

My senses tantillate and my ears regain their awareness. I am warm. I am alive. A crust breaks free as I peel my eyes open. I fixate on the bunkbed above me. My heart beats vigorously. I was dreaming. My head turns to the clock. A nauseating cacophony spews from its electronics. I hate it. 7:27. My eyes swell shut.

A body approaches from the corner of the room “I already gave you too many chances Michael.” A splash of cold liquid rivetes me in the face: my body instantly stiffens, my breath vacuums in a long inhale, my eyes shoot open in alarm.

“You need to get out of bed right now!”

My covers are ripped from my body, and I lay in my bed cold,  wet, and exposed.

“What the heck are you doing! I’m awake already! What’s your problem!” I fire back in agitation.

“I don’t care if you’re awake already, you need to get your butt outta bed! It’s 7:28 and the Buscotti’s will be here any minute!” She leaves the room. I feel the folds of my face gather in disdain as I sit up. Ugh.

A shirt rests on the ground and I reach to dry my face. A white light fills the room. A dryer hums. Mother passes in the hall. I walk to the closet and find my blue slacks situated in the middle of the closet, stiffly propped up from their removal the night before. I’m so clever. I place my feet in each pant leg, slide them up effortlessly to my waist, and secure my belt. It’s braided. I loop it over itself and it hangs down a few inches.

A glass prism catches my eye. I pick it up and focus the lights rays on the glass with a gentle rotation. A rainbow of color projects on the white wall. My eyes searched for the convergence of colors. Where does one color end and the other begin? There is just endless color in between. Bored, I retreat back into the closet and thumb through my choice of polos. I wore white yesterday. Maroon? Hm… I grab a forest green polo. Slipping it over my head, I head downstairs.

I can hear my sisters eating their cereal and mumbling to each other. The clink of the metal spoons and porcelain echos in the kitchen. The cupboard contains cheerios, wheaties, life and kix. Kix. My parents never allow any sweets in the house. That is, until dad’s gone for business. Then we cash in: Lucky Charms. Even then my mom ends up picking out all the marshmellows. That makes me mad.

Update

I’d like to write about this weekend, preferably sooner than later. The past two weeks have been good. Papers and essays will begin flooding into my routine with the guarantee effect of additional stress. Speaking of papers… I just finished reading a book for History of Economic Thought and I need to write a paper by tomorrow. Fun!

I bought a motorcycle two weeks ago. It was a 1982 Kawasaki KZ750H3 LTD with 29k miles. It ran well but it needed a lot of work. I decided to take it apart and rebuild it piece by piece into something that resembles a cafe racer. Much cooler than the original look.

I love mechanics and working with my hands. Plus I needed a project. Every semester I give myself some ADD project to work on. Whether its research, writing a book, forming a club or doing fund raising, I need to stay busy. Not that I’m not already, but I feel like I need self guided projects to maintain the sanity of my will. So the bike is in pieces in my basement. All that’s left is the frame and the engine. I had a disaster draining the oil. I had a pan I thought would accommodated it all, a thought that would later be to my dismay.  So I flooded a good deal of my garage with oil. I hope the landlord doesn’t mind. I’ll get kitty liter and try absorbing as much as possible.

I went on a date with a girl this Saturday.  I wanna write all about that, expunge some thoughts. Dating is interesting. So yea. I’ll save it and write about the details in my next update, hopefully within the next day or two. I suppose the date went great, I mean I had a good time. And we made plans to have dinner tomorrow night so I suppose that’s a good sign. Anyway. Write more later. Need to start this essay. And another before classes at 10 tomorrow.

Cheers to being a student!

Living Anew

I have just started living. Every moment I catch myself with a renewed sense of wonder. I want to continue catching myself all of my days.

Brief recap on end of December and beginning of January:

2011 has begun. The holidays have come and gone and provided much time for reflection and contemplation. It’s good to let things settle in the mind before swirling them up again.

Finals ended, for the most part, well. I came home to Jupiter Florida and traveled with my family to St. Augustine Florida where we spent Christmas in a small cottage a block from the historic district. The cottage itself was quaint, two bedrooms, a fire place, a christmas tree, a small bar and kitchen. It was definitely a dated home. There was a bed and breakfast adjacent to the cottage where we indulged in home made breakfast every morning. It was great. I felt spoiled this year. I am blessed.

St. Augustine is a great little town chocked full of interesting things to do and see.  It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish and is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United States. Cool little fact.

After Christmas I swung back into Jupiter and had the opportunity to spend new years with a lot of my old friends, which was nice. I went out a good deal. Drank a lot. It was good.  New years was great. I need to call some people and thank them for hanging out with me and showing me such a good time.

On January 1st, the afternoon of new years day, I got in my car with my sister and continuously traveled fourteen hours back to Nashville to convene with my Alternative Winter Break group. I arrived at 8:30, packed my bags, and met up with all twelve of them at 10:00am. The next eight hours I slept until I arrived in Natchez Mississippi.

I believe in volunteer work. I believe in giving yourself freely to people. Sharing yourself is so important. If we don’t give, we become too attached- to our time, to our things, to our money. You are not free if you cannot part with things and become attached. The more things you own, the more those things own you. Anyway.

In Natchez we woke at 830am and began work at the Sunshine Shelter, a place for children of abuse to reside between foster homes and what not. Its a safe haven where rehabilitation can begin taking place. We painted walls, cleaned up the yard and garden, did repairs, and talked with some of the children and teens there. It was extremely rewarding. As anyone can imagine, the shelter wasn’t exactly the finest of facilities. Most shelters and places like this struggle with funding and maintenance. They barely get by with state support. Yet, they place such a crucial role for rehabilitating victims within a community.

Anyway. We also worked at the Boys and Girls Club and Kyle’s House by painting and doing repairs. Kyle’s House was a day care facility for toddlers and children with special needs such as downs syndrome and cerebral palsy. It was a wonderful experience seeing those children and knowing that laying tile, applying fresh paint to grimy walls, and cleaning the yard was making a direct impact on their lives.

Natchez was a great little town with a ton of history. The weather hovered in the mid to upper sixties throughout the entirety of the week so we did a great deal of exploring the historic and more picturesque landscapes of the town.

The twelve students comprising the site were a phenomenal group. I don’t think I could have asked for a more dynamic, funny, and caring group. It was amazing how close we all became by the end of the trip. I sincerely hope we keep in touch throughout our time at Vandy. They are all incredible people, and brilliant in each their own way. Big things in their future.

One of the best aspects of the AWB trip is the relationships that are made within the group. This is facilitated by the life maps which are shared each night. A life map is the story of your life, from birth until present, that details every conceivable detail and event that have shaped you and the world view you have today. It offers a unique glimpse into the inner workings of your mind in a way that not many people have the priviledge of hearing despite how close they seem. The life map takes anywhere from one to two hours, but some last even longer. They are surprisingly emotional and usually deeply moving as you implore your depths and share the findings with this group of strangers. The vulnerability is exactly what brings the group together in such a unique way.

Although its not exactly realistic, I almost wish that life maps were a standard convention of our culture. It’d be cool to share your life story with every new acquaintance. We’d have such a greater appreciation for those around us. It really shows that appearances are deceiving and that we should always withhold superficial judgements about people until we hear their story and walk in their shoes.

Anyway.

Classes begin on Wednesday. I will be taking the following classes this semester, and I can barely wait!:

  • Philosophy of Knowledge (Epistemology)
  • Philosophy and the Natural Sciences
  • Philosophy of Psychology (Advanced Philosophy of Mind)
  • Existential Philosophy
  • Modern Philosophy
  • History of Economic Thought

Eighteen credits right there, and worth every one. I decided that I like school, and that I want it bad enough. That I am done being inactive. I need to be busy. Beyond busy.

History of Economic Thought is the only economics class I’ll be taking this semester. It deals with  the evolution of economic ideas from the ancient Greeks to the contemporary world with attention to the seminal thoughts of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, J. S. Mill, Alfred Marshall, and J. M. Keynes.

I’m not exactly keen on resolutions, but I do like renewing commitments and redefining goals according to priorities. These include:

  • Eat better
  • Work out 4 days a week
  • Lose fat/ gain muscle
  • Be positive and optimistic
  • Smile more
  • Promptly answer phone calls and return messages
  • Budget my money/ spend less!
  • Read more! Diversify!
  • Schedule time efficiently
  • 4.0 GPA -> Study: 1 hour in class=2 hours outside of class
  • Eliminate distractions!-> no procrastination!
  • Develop “Do it now!” philosophy of action
  • Blog minimum of one page per week.
  • Finish book additions, revisions.
  • Wake up/ go to bed early: Never sleep in or stay up late!
  • No more drinking (Can I? Yes. Should I? Hm…)
  • No smoking
  • Look at goals daily
  • Create a purpose: long term, mid and short term.
  • Stay organized and clean

These are just a handful, but extremely important nonetheless. I’ve thought or struggled with one of these recently and need to make a point to stick to it. Anyway. Sleepy. More thoughts tomorrow.

“When you want something bad enough, you make the time – regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time.” – Rework

Part-E.

The tentacles of their gaze wrap around me. I look away to escape the entanglement. My thoughts are reluctant to turn with my head: they are transfixed on the motioning masses. Huddled in clusters, they divide themselves evenly throughout the room.  Every so often bodies will detach and absorb into another cluster, near or far, like a firing neuron. They maintain a hum, a gentle hum, a hum that cackles and keeps the insipid look in their eyes alive. They pour more of the intoxicant down their throats, trying to consume it with coolness, not realizing it is them being consumed.

I avoid their eyes. I don’t want to stir their mind. I want to see them as they are: complacent automatons molded and shaped by self fulfilling events. A glint of metal whirrs above me and a cool malted fragrance mists the air and settles on my brow. It smacks against the wall with an empty crack. Deep cheer and laughter erupt from one of the clusters. A boy stands with his spine erect, like a conquering hero; a rapacious smile hangs on his face as glistening liquid drips off his lips and soaks into his curling facial hair. I watch as their dull eyes reflect admiration, but I cannot make out their praises. I examine the once whirring metal, now motionless on the ground: an empty beer can. A hole punctured in its lower quarter. Shot-gunning.

I force myself to look around. My eyes return. I do my best to maintain casual eye contact. Do they see the fear in me? Are they afraid it is I that sees the fear in them? I want to be alone, but I stay. I have roles to fulfill; people to please. I pull a smile across my face. I feel my lips tighten and mimic the expression of a voluptuary. I tell myself I am pleased. I continue to scan the room. Make eye contact. My lust admires the youthful figures shifting in front of me: Boys and girls, courting one another with self-conscious precision. They have practiced this routine, this dance, these gestures: The alluring batting eyes; the coy retreats that indicate bashful vulnerability. They beg to be swooned. To be noticed. They don’t want to be taken a fool. They are ready to play this game.

The boys stand tall, proud, chests out, chin erect, like adolescent steeds. Their loud gestures fill the room, sweeping motions, legs spread, trying their best to dominate as much space as possible.

Of recent

Recently I’ve been much more focused. My birthday acted as a catalyst for the reexamination of my priorities. I’m 24 now. Usually birthdays are a cause for celebration. When that day came, I realized there would be nothing unique about another celebration. Sure I’m 24. How should we celebrate? Socializing with food and alcohol? The past month my drinking (partying) habits have been uncharacteristically desultory and unrestrained. If celebration is characterized as rejoicing in life through indulgent festivities, I feel like that’s been all I’ve been doing as of late. A birthday celebration of that sort would be no different.

Instead, I chose to study and work, and I found it to be much more fulfilling, much more of a celebration of life and progress than any other activity.

I decided to reframe my approach to fulfillment. Its easy to get sucked into the tyrannical approval of the masses. They say: happiness is derived through partying. Im a slow learner and I continually have to remind myself that those gratifications are no investment in my life. They yield no long term value or pride, only fleeting memories that we desperately hope to recapture.

Anyway. I’m happy. Focused. Life is great. I’ve got my eye on the ball, as they say.

The dilemma  I find myself continually facing time and time again is the value I derive from relationships and people. Why is that a problem? Well, it just so happens that many of the people who I cherish spend the majority of their past times indulging in ephemeral glories and menial activities, i.e. binge drinking and other bacchanal activities . I need to seek out people who value similar passions. Passions that include personal development, the pursuit of truth and knowledge, creative thinking, quality discourse, new adventure and an overall interest in improving their value as a person.

Anyway… Study time.

Jūdex

I believe in transparency; with yourself, with others. What have I to hide? Mistakes? An unworthy life? I am not ashamed of my past or present conclusions.  Do I contradict myself? Then I contradict myself. I am am a creature in continual flux. I change and grow, like any life. My moments speak for themselves.  However naive, my intention is pure. What matters the cares of the worlds? Can’t I maintain cares of mine own? Or the lack thereof?

Risk and reward are tantamount, otherwise everyone would get their fill of life. Living boldly means taking great risk. Be prepared to sacrifice your comforts and security. Pain will lurk close. Unknowns will abound. Adaptation means consistent action.

I will not apologize for my decision to live life boldly. The past is gone. It floats in a nonexistent oblivion. Memories prove too unreliable to cast just ratiocination on yourself or others. What matters but now? If you are there, who will attend to the here? What character will be under review? The character of him who is here, or the character of our memory?

Be open. If you hide yourself from the world, you are hiding yourself. We do not see things as they are; we see the world as we are. Only when we drag our full nature into the light of the world can we see the nature of its fullness.When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. This requires a confrontation with whatever issues or vices or insecurities that chronically shirk from exposure. Attack them head on. See yourself as whole, as flawed, as awesome, as existing here and now.