We need certain things so desperately, don’t we? We feel I have to have that. Like cats in heat.
What do we really need, you know? Nothing.
I don’t know why, but every time I interfere, he said–
I don’t know why, but every time I interfere, she says–
It turns out like I didn’t DO anything.
Maybe I shouldn’t exist.
I haven’t done this in awhile. It should be fun.
We’re allowed to be bad now and then, aren’t we? (laughs) (serious) You don’t even know what bad means. Whoever I’m talking to, I’m sure, you don’t even know what bad means.
Oh, that’s true, when we met, we were really bad, weren’t we? (whispers) Oh man were we bad.
The first three days that’s all we were was bad.
No, I forgot! (laughs) No, I forgot about that.
It’s true, I’m not sure why I don’t think of it every single day. I should probably make a point to think about–right now! No, right now, I’m making a point right now to think about why I don’t think about it, every single day….no, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to make that point.
What did he tell me? He told me I couldn’t put a set in a set? Could you believe it? I thought, why don’t you just destroy the whole world! Tell me I can’t put a set in a set. Nothing works suddenly, thank you very much. How do you live in that, your self? How do you, seriously? If you pick up his stuff, you feel like — you can’t move. I can’t move! It ain’t right–I mean, right–it isn’t right. (laughs)
But this is the thing though, seriously.. Seriously! (laughs) seriously — you are not taking me seriously. It doesn’t matter how many times I say seriously, apparently. Seriously!
Seriously, what if — you don’t want to hear it, huh?
I like it when you don’t want to hear things.
Ok, ok, why should we have this much fun — ooh, because we were ba–no, no, not because we were bad! we just have fun. Because we’re good. Don’t tell people we have fun because we were bad! You’re so bad!
I remember that. I was really bad. But it was perfect.
I changed my mind: we were good.
Oh my gosh, What if, what if we– do you remember? I’m asking you now, if you remember.
Ok, ok, without a doubt, best thing that ever happened to me. Without a doubt, done, best ever.
Ooh, sometimes people are just so good, they are just so sweet, I can’t even say the things they say because they are so nice, I have to force myself to say what you said and what you said is So far.
(I let him carry me around some tonight. It felt great. We’ll see what the consequences are though.) (And quit flexing your muscles you are not picking me up again!)
The stickiness of a thought, how hard it is to dismiss. Stickiness is stickiness: it’s not a good or bad thing but because it is something that it is hard for us to exercise control over — if something is sticky it doesn’t really respond to out desires about how it behave as much as something that’s not as sticky — it can seem .. a little sticky.
I’ll try to give you a good demo of a good sticky thought.
I’ll take the veal skeleton.
.. Pause ..
.. Pause ..
Yeah, it’s still with you, isn’t it?! (laughs) It sticks around awhile.
Vegan version. Ahem.
Stickiness can be an art. All thinking can be an art. But I hope an example like that, which is not much as art, gives you a little bit of an insight into how much fun it is to view your own actions and speech this way.
What a shame that I have so many hours of things to say about how poorly all of this can be done — as the police follow me down the street. A shame to have those hours, if you think of beauty, if you think of painting, and then you think of sculpture, and then you think of dancing, if you think of poetry, if you think of music–
And then you think of thinking–
When you think of the astounding beauty of the things you can intentionally create in the minds of others, through speech, through action–
What a shame.
Try to pick attributes of thought that are relatively static and hard to fake. I’m not sure what they are static for. But categories where the members of each category share the same values for as many of these attributes as they can: so I want to say that if I divide things up by how sticky they are, the really sticky thoughts are going to be in one of these two or three categories, most probably, and I know that those two or three categories are also going to have certain values for other attributes — attributes I’ve found really sticky thoughts usually have in the past: a certain sense of humor, a habit of leading to certain kinds of decisions which have certain kinds of outcomes; they make this much sense; they have this much validity, etc. and when I find a sticky thought, I can really quickly say “ok, into that group you go” and then I can predict all of the rest of these attributes. That’s the goal here. And that way I can quickly infer things about the thought; as or before even I’m thinking it — without having to examine each thought and make these measurements. I only need one or two values and the rest are probably what they probably are.
Now some thoughts don’t appear to be sticky enough. We might find this is most common with great big ideas, complex ideas, that are not quite beyond us; discoveries that we are pretty sure we are capable of discovering, but if we look away from them they seem to vanish, or slip outside our grasp. Other thoughts are just lame, or they’re not interesting– they’re not that sticky. But some thoughts are, whether or not they are crafted to be that way, their nature is such that they get thought for awhile.
Sometimes you feel like there might be a little bit of cheating involved in thoughts that are sticky. Some thoughts self-promote. This is kind of frowned upon. I’m not sure by whom, but by someone. We think: “Here, I am an idea from your conscience and I will lead you to the right path in life, so don’t so that.” Or “Your best self says…” That’s self-promotion, on the part of a thought.
Thoughts are not, like Richard Dawkin’s memes do, in general supposed to think very much about how much anybody thinks them. Thoughts which are good enough to be thought will be thought as much as anybody needs to think them, guaranteed. So beyond stickiness then, we have another attribute, of insistence. Which is really a narrower case of a broader attribute, the quote-unquote goal of the thought, if you can imagine thought having a goal.
Insistence though, is a reflection of a thought. A thought that’s self-promoting maybe could be said to be demonstrating a little bit of insistence, but that’s not quite exactly what I mean by this. A thought that is insistent is a thought that is making demands on you, rather than making suggestions or informing you. This thought says “Do this.” They typically make you quite aware of the time factor. Some thoughts are immediate. They require– they require according to them at least; you are not required to require it too — but the thoughts themselves require that you do something immediately. Often this is to panic.
An insistent thought might require that you exit whatever situation is causing the panic, right away. It’s not a suggestion: ‘Hey, maybe we should get out of here.’ It’s not ‘Maybe we can wait five minutes and get out of here;’ It’s ‘Get out of here right now.’
Insistence is a good attribute to notice, because, like lag, we can adjust for the insistence of thoughts. Beyond just using insistence to categorize, once we’re aware of the values it takes, we can correct for them. ‘Well, I know that panic is insistent, so I’m going to wait ten seconds to see if I still feel like I should leave the situation immediately, and if I do after ten seconds, then I will. Or I’m at least going to check and see if the situation is as dangerous as panic is suggesting it is before I respond to its requirement, because I know that panic is insistent.’
Likewise, some of the neatest thoughts we’ll ever have are just barely suggestions. And maybe this is me personifying things too much, but imagine if you had a good friend that noone ever listened to, the sort of way that he would act after he made yet another suggestion. He wasn’t going to say anything, because noone ever listens to him– he doesn’t say that, though; he pipes up– and then you dismiss it, because he’s that guy.
If you imagine what his reaction would be, when you again dismiss his suggestion, if you could bottle it– you can sometimes catch yourself thinking just this. In the background. Sometimes maybe.
Well, fine then. Nobody listens to me.
When you are not trying to say anything out loud. Which is interesting.
Who is not being heard then?
I’d like to know.
So we can adjust for that too: we can think, Hey, there went one of those little suggestions I give myself that I never pay any attention to. Anyway, carrying on.
I like to imagine — I made this image of the pool of thought in the world, yesterday — and I like to imagine that part of our purpose here on earth is to maintain the pool of thought in the world, to make it clean, healthy… Wouldn’t it then make sense to reward thoughts that don’t put demands on us?
Well, you know I have this panicking emotional terror concerning my personal relationships. I think probably I’m going to listen to that right now. And yeah, of course, I could listen to Michael Jackson, do the dishes and go to sleep, I know that. But anyway.
It’s like rewarding the bad kid, in that case. Shouldn’t we reward the good kid?
You can imagine that — talk about self-promoting — thoughts that insist don’t give you time to process them before they demand action. What do these thoughts have to hide?
Well, can we think about this and then make a decision?
No, it has to happen now.
Thoughts that demand that you act before you have time to weigh out everything are trying to block out the competition. Like a guy at a bar who’s hitting on a girl, who stands up really tall and blocks her view of all the rest of the guys in the bar. You might ask, why are you doing that? I mean, if you were the hottest guy in here, you wouldn’t have to bother, am I right?*
So that attribute sort of indicates potential problems. Sticky is fun; insistent indicates a problem. Cheers!
All ideas are circles. Did you know this? You know this right? All ideas are circles. Did you know this?
Every idea is circle, that can be stretched or compressed infinitely by you. I don’t know of any physical substance that works that way.
I just drove by a mechanic shop operated by a guy who drove me out of a church. The sign under the shop sign says “KEEP IT SIMPLE GOD IS LOVE.”
Well done, sir. See, here is a man doing his own investigation. He figured something out. God is love. Love is God. He believes that, wholeheartedly; it’s reasonable, makes good sense, love is something we can perceive, the same way we perceive God. We can perceive God in the same way we perceive love. That last part he probably hasn’t thought about. But nevermind: well done, sir! (That’s what I say.)
An idea like any substance, under infinite pressure can be compressed to nothing, and under zero pressure can be distributed across an arbitrarily large space; like a circle, every idea is balanced; every idea has two sides that connect to each other quite fluidly.
But as you view an idea, you walk around this circle; you pick a point to stand. Or you say, hey, nice circle! I’ll wear the whole thing. Like a hammock. You can try simplifying it, to make it a little less cumbersome. But you have to be careful, because when circles get to small they get too simple, and all of a sudden you have nothing. You say, oh, well that’s just.. obvious, and you go quickly from obvious to nothing. HOLD ON HOLD ON YES I KNOW I’m TRYING to come up with an example ALREADY JUST HOLD ON.
“God is love” is a circle, right? With God on one side, and love on the other side, across the circle. If you drew a diameter, with one point on God, the other point would be on love. And you can make that circle bigger, as the thought gets more complicated, by adding other points. The love that we feel for other human beings–another point on my circle, a particular kind of love–is part of the love that they feel for God; what we love about other people is the God we see in them, and the God that we see in them is the love that they feel, and vice versa.
Around and around the circle,* and I can make it a little it bigger than that: I can say that community and being together as human beings is an expression of spirituality and godliness, because God is love, and we feel this love for each other; we want to be with each other because we want to feel that love, because we want to be with God, because we want to feel God, because God is love, so feeling God feels good, and we do what feels good, because we want to be in community. You can go around that circle in quite a few ways and always win: it is an unusual one that way, as I think I’ve demonstrated.
And you could keep going. You could write an entire paper on it. But you’ll always come around, whether or not you say so.
And beyond what you could say, this idea goes on, with aspects no one on the planet at this time can comprehend, and/or no one on the planet is aware of. That’s a very big circle. What God is, really–what love is, really? The combination of chemistry and something else, what is it? You can feel it, but what is it that you feel? You can think it, but what is it that you think? And it’s complicated, right? I has negatives, and positives,— and it must have some kind of existence, where? Point being ideas can get really big, bigger than you can actually comprehend– they go on — they do this all day actually, emanating out from us. We can feel them doing it, but usually don’t pay attention, being used to letting go when they reach a certain size.
You can shift ideas in the other direction, inward; you can make them very small. You can say God is Love– God good, love good — Good good — Good — Yes — Done. And then you’re saying nothing, suddenly, and everything. From Good is good, which sounds like nothing but isn’t, to Good, which has a meaning, to Yes or True, you can shrink this idea– but no further. Any smaller and there is no idea. And from these small ideas you can expand: from Yes or True you can expand into almost anything.
Maybe this is why they say in the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.
Several years ago I had to learn that tautology is an important and valid part of thinking, just like paradox. Now it’s your turn, maybe.
Sometimes when you are thinking about something complicated and you go to simplify it, if you are high on marijuana especially**– suddenly the idea shrinks down to nothing and you comprehend everything, but just as a single point, like Yes or True or an imaginary humming noise. At these times we must remind ourselves, ok, I need to remember the evidence, the experience, the fact — that was holding the circle open. That people like to be community, for instance. Otherwise the world jus gets too darn beautiful to make any sense of. A fact though can stretch the circle to a size that can accommodate it and the other facts.
Or we can just hum, Yes, and feel the entirety of it, of every idea that there is contained in this one that we are thinking.
* o as circles go this is small one
** which I never am. a nice cold glass of lemonade is plenty good enough for me, thank you, no really, you are too kind, is there more?
Are you ready to scrape the accumulated garbage off of whatever this is and see what might be left? No? Me neither. Let’s just look at the garbage first.
22 January 2017
PSTH 506 – The Church at Worship: Preaching
Assignment 12: Sample Full Sermon
Text: Matthew 18:15-34
Seminary Student: Hi! Can you help me? I’m writing about those verses you assigned me from Matthew, for a pretend Baptist church. The other assignment was to preach Colossians to Episcopalians, which really gives you an advantage, Colossians being Colossians.
Seminary Prof: Hard to go wrong in there, yeah.
Seminary Student: But of course I had to draw these verses from Matthew 18 instead. My life sucks.
Seminary Prof: And it’s a tricky part of Matthew. If you read it, it reads like Jesus was in a really bad mood for three or four chapters.
Seminary Prof: There’s a verse in there that basically reads, “You will show compassion to everyone, or I will kick your teeth in.”
Seminary Student: Heh. Can you believe that?
Seminary Prof: I know.
Seminary Student:(reading) Man that’s a challenging text!
Seminary Prof: Forgiveness is another one of these concepts in Christianity that screws a lot of people up. The ones who say they worship God the most, for some reason they have this strange temptation to act like they are God, and, um, it gets tricky.
Seminary Student: What is my job/responsibility/role in other people messing up? Just tell me.
Seminary Prof: Ok, good start. Try: I think in my life– screw that sentence.
Seminary Student: Whatever. How about this: who should I forgive?
Seminary Prof: Whom. Try: I think maybe it’s just my — oy, screw that sentence too.
Seminary Student: Phillip’s head, but this is hard.I mean, can I say, ‘Just don’t let anybody wrong you, and then it’s easy to be nice?’
Seminary Prof: Hmm?
Seminary Student: I don’t lend money; as a rule; for a reason; nobody ever has to pay me back–because I didn’t lend them anything. What do we expect of people, just from the get-go, that makes us think we’re going to need to forgive them? Like, a baseline?
Seminary Prof: Your mom has a baseline. (laughter) Ok. (coughs) It’s right there in the book that we should forgive.
Seminary Student: I don’t know about the word ‘forgiveness’ though. In the book, does it mean what we think it means? It sounds like it might be just about money.
Seminary Prof: I don’t know. I’ll do it, whatever it says.
Seminary Student: But I think the word is very strange. I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the word.
Seminary Prof: How do you say ‘forgive’ in Aramaic?
Seminary Student: Oh, that’s perfect.
Seminary Prof: What?
Seminary Student: No, I’m stealing that, that’s my title. “How Do You Say ‘Forgive’ in Aramaic?”
Seminary Student: Oh, before I forget. My translation, I think it was like 19:21 or something, Peter says to Jesus, “How many times–.” In my translation it said, “How many times should I forgive my brother–seven?” but in your translation it said, “How many times will my brother sin against me, that I should forgive him–seven?”
Seminary Prof: Both translations Jesus says, “No. Many many more.”
Seminary Student: But I thought that was hysterical. He just lays it out: your brother will always be a jerk!
Seminary Prof: If your’s is the right translation, everyone I know has gotten that line wrong.
Seminary Student: It almost makes it sound like his brother is going to sin just to make Peter forgive him. That could be in fun, or that could be serious.
Seminary Prof: In a way it’s both, I think. As we grow in — no, screw that sentence.
Seminary Student: Over and over again with anything about justice and forgiveness, you get it tied to the words ‘Brother’, and ‘family’, and ‘clan’.
There are seven billion people on the world at least. If there are seven billion people in the world, am I expected to hang out with all of them? I’ll have to choose. I’m just going to have to; there’re too many and life is too short.
Seminary Prof: Ok.
Seminary Student: So if I have to choose anyway, can I choose based on how people act?
Seminary Student: I think we learn to hold a grudge against anyone who hurts us over and over. It’s hard for me to make sense out of a message about forgiveness, if it’s about people who hurt us and not just about money, that doesn’t also include maybe shake the dust off of your behind and go somewhere else.
Seminary Prof: What are you doing just now?
Seminary Student: That’s how you shake it.
Seminary Prof: Shake it?
Seminary Student: You know, shake it.
Seminary Prof: Shaaake it.*
Seminary Student: Shakin’ it.
Seminary Prof: Oh yeah, shake it some more.
Seminary Student: (shouting over music) Why should you waste time mentally grappling with someone else’s failings when there are so many other people in the world that want to be around you?
Seminary Prof: (shouting, shaking it) I think that’s actually the absolute best lesson we can give someone, sometimes: just to leave.
Seminary Student: I’m not going to fight with you; I’m not going to sink–
Seminary Prof: I’m gone. Next time you’ll think about that.
Seminary Student: We should all do that to each other!
Seminary Prof:We should all do that to each other!
Seminary Student: I don’t like the things you do; I told you I don’t like them…
Seminary Prof: …you are still doing them….
Seminary Student: Good bye!
Seminary Prof: Really? (music ends) Good song.
Seminary Student: How much better would the world be if I had to meet my own standards, and yours?
Seminary Prof: Right, but isn’t it that world?
Seminary Student: No, we think we’re helpful. We try to fix people.
Seminary Prof: So if we didn’t …
Seminary Student: Didn’t help mean people.
Seminary Prof: Say we all made a pact. Just now.
Seminary Student: That anyone mean should go.
Seminary Prof: They can come back when they’re nice?
Seminary Student: Jesus did it. He shook it.
Seminary Prof: Yes. He told other people to shake it too.
Seminary Student: There’s only so much of you and there’s a lot of world, and a lot of people in it. And it’s easy to forgive people from a distance.
Seminary Prof: (looking at watch) Very easy.
Seminary Student: Could add a story from my own life: “Well, you know, he was terrible. He used to make me pick his teeth, for him! I told him I didn’t like it. He said he didn’t care. Now I don’t pick his teeth for him anymore.”
Seminary Prof: Short story.
Seminary Student: Yeah, that was the end of it.
Seminary Prof: So forgiveness has these two sides: we get to make these choices, and we have to make these choices.
And we have to show others compassion.
Seminary Student: If you are busy picking some loser’s teeth, you’re not going to be able to show others compassion: your hands will be occupied. And probably gross.
Seminary Student: Well, you know, it wasn’t his fault: he just didn’t know which ones looked the best.
Seminary Prof: Oh. In that case, that’s just a reasonable request. That’s different.
Seminary Student: I’d pick the really big ones. A sign of strength.
radiation: Ok, I wrote it all down; I think we’re done!
Forgiveness’s actual meaning then, has changed quite a bit. Also added to ancient texts were some interesting ideas about reprisal, most of which are too childish to say with a straight face, but prevent us from ‘shaking it’ the abandon that we might otherwise demonstrate, or from shaking it at all; these “reprisal equations” have changed over the years themselves, but still lead us to excuse the behavior of others if we have acted badly ourselves. I insulted you, then you insulted me, then I felt I had to condone your insult because I myself had fallen short.
There is absolutely no logic to this; there is no pairing of moral equivalence; the past has no effect, ‘doing the right thing’, I suppose, being a sort of Markov chain. All of the shame and guilt and prolonged misery this [reprisal equations] piece-of-crap of an idea deals out has exactly the same logical founding as “You took my cookie, so I can take yours,” but read backwards, for even less effect: “because I took your cookie, I’d better stay here with you after you take mine.”
Why? Is our behavior any kind of moral standard? People say the Bible doesn’t make sense as a moral standard. My own life should be a better one? Our behavior being the rapid and often ill-informed decisions of a single thinker, the Bible being the finely-tuned product of thousands of years of life in community?
And also for this we use others lives: if someone else behaves worse, we are ok. As if only the world’s most evil person should be in trouble.
As long as you know you were wrong, in cookie-taking, your act should have no bearing how you react to another’s cookie-taking. If you think cookie-taking is ok, that’s different. But either way you cannot cause another human being to do anything, unless you have one of those transcranial thingies, so everyone else’s behavior can be evaluated in isolation. As can yours.
Seminary Student: WHEW! I ALMOST SOUNDED REPUBLICAN BY ACCIDENT
radiation: Luckily you caught it.
Seminary Student: If this sounds harsh, trust me that I could have said harsher, as I don’t think anyone can ever say “You made me upset” and not be lying.
radiation: Fantastic, very diplomatic of you, thanks.
Big picture, these dumb reprisal escape clauses drag the moral level down unbelievably: I was bad, you were bad, let’s keep hanging out and both be worse. Compare that to the trend we’d experience if many people choose by a different pattern: I was bad, you were bad, and I’m not going to associate with you anymore because I have standards. If you want to have standards, that’s up to you, and not my problem if you don’t.And I’ll work on not being bad, maybe after a few more people refuse to be around me.
So thank you, “FORGIVENESS”. For making us all misbehave and think we had a good reason why.
SHAKE IT – NO CLEAN SLATE REQUIRED
Seminary Student: I’d call it Morals for An Overpopulated World, except that makes it sound like you need another reason not to believe in reverse-revenge, other than that there is no reason to. The psalm stands alone, the psalm stands alone, hi ho the derr er er er O o the psalm stands alone.
*See if it repeats exactly it makes a rhythm and you sound like a cheerleader, so it has to be different, and yeah, I realize it’s not great; i don’t want to do the onomatopoeia either, no, i don’t like it much– but when you have only one word to use and you need it to be different, what are you going to do. i’ll send myself to somewhere and work this out eventually, but meanwhile i’ll just have to put up with feeling trashy because the english in the dictionary ought to be plenty enough for everyone, no exceptions, except maybe mark twain, hater.
radiation got the ordination but still won’t marry YOU
Let me describe the very traditional relationship.
In a very traditional relationship, the lady is responsible for caring for the children and the house and the men.
The man. Right? One. The man.
So the lady is responsible for caring for the children and the house and the man. And the man …. is … responsible … for … Hmm.
Let’s try it like this: the lady’s needs, on a daily or emotional level, are her problem, and so are his. Not the other way around so much.
So her job is to take care of him and the kids. And his job is to protect her from salesman.
Who might come to the house.
Because as the interface with the world, he would be the one to have to deal with strangers.
She wouldn’t have to deal with strangers.
So she takes care of him and meets his needs, and he takes care of the salesman.
He keeps them, … you know … when they come to the house he talks to them and makes them leave, so that she doesn’t have to do that.
Let me explain why I look so hideously ugly. I should take that back. But if you are wondering why my face looks worse even than usual.
It’s because I’m sad. And when I’m less sad, I’ll be prettier again.
But now being sad and having this appearance is a reflection of a mental state that’s sort of comforting to me. But it’s funny, at work this morning, as people came around the corner and in view of my desk and looked at me, they went ‘Ugh!’ involuntarily. And then tried to cover it up. (laughs). This happened all morning, those poor people. I noticed it myself, in the mirror, the past couple of days. Wow, I thought, that’s really a rough face to see. But what a beautiful state of mind it is that goes with it. And really the only one I ever want around: I don’t care how I look.
This blog is a continuation and will make even less sense if you haven’t read Misplaced first.
Hi. How’s that? Is that better?
I’m trying here.
Aversion is not easy to control. I always think of that scene in Dune when that guy — he’s one of my favorite actors — has to stick his hand in the Gom Jabbar. Even though it is incredibly painful. Then he has to decide how long to keep it in there, choosing the pain, overcoming his natural aversion to it.
And this is some sort of demonstration of mental strength. The kind of thing I tend to find pretty ridiculous. But only, I guess, as a sort of echo of my respect for it: if we flinched at everything that bothered us … I just can’t imagine that anyone is like that anymore. But that’s just me.
There are other ways to generate aversion. One can be offensive in the more traditional sense: if I could make part of your brain say the N-word to you over and over again, would you start to tune that part of your brain out? If I could make a part of your brain turn every bit of conversation into some childish and crude sexual reference, the likes of which you’d never heard and could never have imagined otherwise, could I make you tune that part of your brain out?
Also, there is — here’s a guy. He’s looking at a tree.
radiation: Everything ok? Are you alright?
Guy looking at tree: Yeah, I’m just looking at this tree, for the property owner.
radiation: Ok, I thought it might be something like that.
Guy looking at tree: Thank you. I appreciate your concern.
radiation: Yeah! I was thinking, I hope nothing fell on his car. It’s an older tree.
Guy looking at tree: Yes, the tree is in trouble and needs some help. I’m going to try to help it.
radiation: Oh no. That’s great. Are you going to heal it, or cut it down?
Guy looking at tree: I’m in the business of saving them, if you can save them.
radiation: That’s wonderful. Neat.
Guy looking at tree: This one I think is just in trouble from being so close to the road, the damage to the root system, and the lichen that’s all over it. Believe it or not, lichen used to be harmless. At least the lichen I grew up with, only grew on the north side of the tree? If you look at this tree it’s completely encrusted with lichen. See on that bottom limb, where it is all green? That’s all lichen, which is actually sucking the life out of the tree.
radiation: (At this point battling crying — you can’t tell, can you? I am also, as you can’t tell, wearing a towel instead of pants.) Wow. We had a tree, we lost it. It was lichen, and something– something else got it. And we cut it down, but we kept the top, the bottom fifteen feet of it, just as a memorial.
Guy looking at tree: Yes, a lot of people do that. (looking sadly at me) I think there’s a traffic jam.
radiation: Oh, this is – you can’t have a traffic jam here. It’s impossible. (This is a five-way intersection with no lines on any of the roads. The intersection of itself is the size of a small grocery store parking lot.)
A few months later what was left of the tree collapsed. No one was hurt much.
Fun story, huh? I entertain well while wearing a towel. (Always have.)
There are other kinds of aversion than pain and offense. In a place where your second language is spoken, you’ll find it takes more focus to stay in conversation than it would normally because your brain is doing extra work. That feeling of extra work is the closest example I have o what I mean here by aversion. Dissuading distilled. And you might find yourself tuning out — even if you are not the kind of person who usually daydreams in the middle of a conversation, you might find yourself more likely to do that, as your brain has a natural aversion to languages it doesn’t understand, and things it doesn’t understand in general — sometimes. If you could bottle this thought somehow, you could do quite a bit, by making others NOT do quite a bit.
Other times it has a real attraction to things it doesn’t understand. These things are ‘baited’ with a chunk of something that it does understand,. If you can link this to a thought that it doesn’t want, sometimes it will plow right into said thought like a thumb with a hangnail shoved into a lemon.
A classic example being the what-if question. If you could make the bottle the thought we think, the sound our brains make when they haven’t figured something out yet, but are on the verge of it, that’s a bottle of something that it is very hard not to think, and even hard not to think repeatedly. If you have a question, and somehow also feel that you have the answer, when you don’t; if a thought could be misplaced in such a way that it feels like you do; then you will be drawn to that thinking that it is a natural when you do have the answer, that thread you pull, with the answer on the other side. Even after you’ve tried this a number of times, and found that there is no answer on the other side, thoughts like that are still hard to get away from, and can drive you a little nuts. But if you have the tools! of categorization! at your disposal, you can identify a thought like that as what it is, and fruitless, separate from those thoughts that have the same information to convey, which are not.
If my bottled version of this thought was in another ‘language’, for instance, than the one which you usually use to solve your problems, then after some number of tries, potentially large, you would realize that the bottled thought goes no where. And the next time it occurred, although you can’t stop it from occurring, you can identify it as a member of that group, and choose to ‘dismiss’ it – which I haven’t talked about yet. Nor have I listed the other 11 promised attributes that can be used for categorization. But right now, I need a hot shower.
The thing about absurdity is it’s like a mirage. If you look at it the right way, it disappears.
There are a lot of things you can call thinking that don’t correspond to reality. You can go anywhere from inaccurate to insane. The world makes me attached to the word ridiculous. Ludicrous is popular with me too. But both of those sound like a clock, like clock hands going all the way around, and I don’t want that. Inane, I think is a bit too nasal. Absurd! That’s the word. Absurd!
So we all have things. (Let’s sing our way into luxury.)
Everybody has some thing. I feel confident with that statement.
(If I was out on a date with it, I’d feel especially confident, because I’d be a lot more interesting than it.)
We all have things, and many of us have the same things.
Us adults, us older folks, we have big things: we have cars, we have houses, wehave land; some of us adults have land that we own. We have large clothes, we have bicycles, we have kayaks; we have recreational equipment. And we have intangible things, but this is about things tangible.
If you were to go back 100 years, people would be flabbergasted at some of the things that we have.
Also if you were to go to other parts of the world, you’ll find people who would be flabbergasted to see so many people own the things that so many of us own.
These things, then, are luxuries.
Although they are very commonplace around us, although many people have them– millions and millions of people have houses, millions and millions of people have cars, millions and millions of people have boats — there are millions and millions of people who would never consider owning these things a possibility. And so we can call them luxuries.
I think as modern people, we don’t really understand how luxury items work. We know how to buy them; that much we have been shown; that’s been made pretty easy for us. But we don’t know so much how to have them. Let me give an example.
Where does the lawn come from? It’s a good example, because it’s a pretty ridiculous, I mean, absurd thing. It’s a big empty expanse of grass for people who aren’t golfing. What for? Who was the first person to have a lawn? And who looked at one and said, Oh, what a great idea, I want one too?
The lawn comes from England, land of the landed gentry. It was a nice sign of status among this group, to own land they didn’t need to farm. A lawn says I have so much land that I can just let this land be, and just look at it. This is where flower gardening comes from too. For the folks in that weird little group known as he aristocracy, demonstrating how much money you had (by wasting it) was crucial for survival. You had to waste it in interesting ways or no one would give you any more.
So these folks would also have peacocks and tigers or anything on their lawn: anything to make themselves stand out, anything to be different and fashionable. When your income depends a lot on the favor of others, showing them a good time they’ve never seen before is paramount. That’s crazy, isn’t it? And we still do that too.
And we still have lawns. But one thing we forgot, one thing that was maybe taken for granted by this group, was that at the time of the lawn’s invention, nobody could afford a lawn unless they could afford at least one guy, and probably more like ten, to take care of it for them. Back then, these guys became a society of their own—the workers and artists who take the land of the landed gentry and make it stand out—and then this art comes to America. It’s an import we have. And it brings with it a lot of neat principles, about visual effect and emotion; it’s difficult to turn the very earth into art, to make those kinds of changes well; the effect is very powerful, as you know if you’ve ever been in one of those spaces. Or maybe you’ve made one or two yourself.
There’s a famous vocabulary that goes along with this art, a prime example of which being the word folly, which appears in a lot of discussion of English gardens and means stupid sculpture (or really, anything stupid that you would put in the middle of your garden for fun, to show that you are a fun person). Look, I put this ridiculous thing in my garden! Isn’t it ridiculous? I mean, absurd?<snorting sounds> And now, look at us here in America, now–as I drive home, I see a lot of people have them too.
But they didn’t understand that it was a joke.
And they are out trimming around the folly all weekend, doing manual labor to preserve what someone else’s sense of humor thought was a great joke several hundred years ago.
Back then, you would put a folly in your garden to make fun of someone you had a bad conversation with at a party the week before. Oh Sebastian, put a folly in the shape of a rabbit, because I made such fun of Jim’s teeth last night! The point of the whole thing was to show off not your gardening skills, but your thinking.* Maybe we thought so hard that we forgot that. But now, here we are imitating it, hundreds of years later, and we forgot the part about the servants– made ourselves the servants, ourselves.
And so you’ll meet people, and they are proud of their landscaping—oh, look what I did—and it’s hard not to laugh at them. Because what they think is a status symbol — my yard is nicer than your yard—is really a demonstration that they are happy to work like serfs for no pay, without even knowing why.** Honey, let’s get an even bigger yard!
So I’m driving around looking at follies. There are plenty: that guy has a some weird stone obelisk. There’s another one, a little ‘basket’ of flowers.
And a giant car. And a giant house. If you are a younger person, an event the odds of which go up everyday, you might not know that every room in a modern houses is much bigger that a similar room in a house built even forty years ago. If you try to buy modern furniture and put it in an older house, it won’t just not fit, it will look ludicrous, I mean, ridiculous, even if you can get it in through the roof. In this more recent past, fort years ago, perhaps people understood better how much more labor was involved in maintaining, cleaning —just having– a larger possession. A larger having.
Something else we forgot, I guess.
So we work like slaves to create the illusion of wealth—on credit, right? So I will work, unpaid, to create the illusion of wealth, having bought things with money that I paid additional money for. And the illusion itself is a joke that history has played on me. And that was a really great folly I passed right there: some flowers and an American flag.
People spend the weekends vacuuming out their giant cars, to make them pristine, vacuuming out their giant houses, to make them pristine; mowing their giant lawns, with tractors that they are then going to have to clean; in short, acting like servants because they have so much and no servants. Having forgotten that the people who were their original role models in having so much didn’t have it by themselves; they had it because they were oppressing people. But if we want to look like we have so much, we’ll just oppress ourselves, then. That works.
By the way, I should mention that we are imitating this same group when we keep animals such as dogs and horses as pets.
In Europe, far fewer people have lawns. And most houses are half or a quarter of the size of houses here. And people in Europe travel about four times as much, often for as much as a month out of every year.
It’s called cultural preservation, isn’t it? It’s also called doing what you want.
Do you think that’s because they were there, and they saw the original lawns? At least their great grandparents did?
I’m sorry, I have to cut this article short. I don’t have time to think. I have to take care of my crap.
*And your wit, in wasting your resources. This is what is known as class. (You’re welcome, Salman Rushdie.)
**Unless, of course, what they really want to be professional landscape architects, if they have a passion for designing with land. but I don’t think that passion is too common. I think a lot fewer people have it than don’t.
*** I appreciate your adding typos to my blog, only because God knows what else you’d be doing with your time.
Well, this should be fun. It’s about the reason why people hurt us.
People sometimes want to add things to your life they’re things and who’s to say they’re right or wrong? All I can say is what I want and what I don’t. It’s funny, looking ahead, and trying to see into someone else’s past. You can see where they’ve been. You can make pretty good guesses about where they’re going because you know the things that they have. But you cannot guess the have planned. That information is missing. It’s a secret.
All of us keep it a secret, no matter how open we try to be. In order to have a future you need to think of one. And to this, perhaps the most mysterious part of a different person, we are so blind that we forget to even look for it. We look at circumstances and predict a certain outcome. How is it did another can look at the same circumstance and predict outcomes so very different? They have solved the problem we have not. They have a plan. It’s funny, all we need usually to do is note that. But before I get into why that works, How hard it is when someone we love very much has a different plan, if we don’t know it. All conflict can be described this way: not knowing another’s plan.
Plans are soft. On purpose. To push up against each other and find the right form. This is possible because they haven’t happened yet; this can be easy; usually this is hard. The resolution of all this planning is simply that we love each other and so by definition we have to love each other’s plans; we always cook up plans that please the people we love quite naturally. You can feel this when you talk to someone, when you’re upset about their plans, as soon as you hear their plan. Immediately when they tell you what it is they’re trying to do, it’s as if they flood into your soul and through it. Oh! As a sensation of something opening. Fulfillment you might call it. Oh! Now I see. And so we go back to flooding. There really is the sensation at that moment like being filled with water, as if one were a low place or a balloon. Suddenly all of the helpful prospects of the other person expand within us, liquid with excitement and possibility. Wet reconciliation. Because we find those plans already were, somehow very much in line with our own bigger-picture schemes … ahhh. You were thinking like me all along. In some sense, perhaps quite indirect, my dreams were also in your mind. And you are indeed the person I thought you were.
I had thought that you would solve this problems differently, are not at all. And I was disappointed. How wonderful to be wrong about this. I was only fighting, deep down, because I wanted you to have the best information. You should do it my way, still, my way is best–no, I just changed what my way is: now it’s just the same as they way you planned.
WHENEVER YOU FEEL AT ODDS WITH ANYONE YOU CARE ABOUT, FIND OUT WHAT THEY ARE PLANNING.
once you know, you won’t be at odds anymore
People are going to have a hard time arguing with this.
Technology is easily hidden. It’s invisible in some sense. You don’t have to show that you have it, to have it. You don’t have to show that you took it, to take it.
It’s funny, you can develop technology and still not have it. People do this more than they think.
People think instead about the problems they are given, and solve them, because that’s something else we evolved to do.
Technology comes in two kinds: the kind you can sell and the kind you can use. And there’s some overlap. But if you think about it, if you are developing something that is expensive to develop, you have one or two reasons to do so. One is that you can sell it, and two is that you can use it to make money some other way.
If you want to use it, then you probably don’t want to sell it—unless of course it’s ok with you if everyone else uses it too. Of course there are two ways to make money: the fast way and the slow way. The slow was is by just doing things; the fast way is by doing things differently from somebody else. If you want to make a lot of money, you make it on the differential.
If you think about everyday people, they have, they think, a lot of technology at their disposal. But they have to purchase all of it. Almost none of it is free.
There are tiers of technology; some of us live on different levels. But these levels might not be what you’d expect: I don’t mean an economic or digital divide: I mean that organizations have, or don’t, access to knowledge of different kinds of technology. It is not an even playing field.
It’s going to take me a little while to talk about this. Like any technology developer would, let’s just begin and see where it goes. It’s bound to go somewhere.
Imagine you and I are starting a business. We’ve incorporated. It’s not like we suddenly have available to us every technology relevant to our business, or even those currently in use. We couldn’t even have a list of them, not for any amount of money.
ex. Cameras: I have one in this laptop. It’s not the best, it wasn’t meant to be. It does a great job. Say you wanted a list of every type of camera currently in use. You have infinite money to spend on such a list. Are you going to be able to get that list? No.
We imagine technology as fairy dust, that is sprinkled in the air to make everything better. But technology is more like bearer bonds, printed on paper, kept in a safe, valuable only to the owner/holder. The distribution of it is not uniform, but forms three tiers.
The everyday consumer is at the bottom tier, at the lowest level. Your regular person, with less knowledge about what can be done with things than anyone else I’m going to talk about. If they want technology they have to buy it, and they can only buy what is given to them to buy.
Furthermore, their knowledge and thoughts about technology are really a work of art, and they’re not the artist. The everyday consumer’s knowledge and thoughts about technology are a carefully sculpted collection of mostly crap. At the bottom tier, there is fear. The bottom tier is all about fear. The tiers above try to manage that fear, and that effort alone is the reason why some of the technology we see in stores comes to market–just to manage fear of technology. Because if you can take something scary, and make it fuzzy, it doesn’t even matter if people will buy it: they just need to know about it, so that later they can assume that whatever powers it has been accepted by everyone else, and that they are behind.
This is how the higher tiers manage fear: by making people feel stupid. Well, I’d better say that’s great, I’d better not even think about whether that’s great—wait, I’d better say ‘That’s not even that great!’ And I can say this because I know all about it.Even though I don’t. But everyone else must, so I’d better say that I do too—and never be caught looking into it further. When you feel dumb you can see the emperor’s new clothes, and those who sell technology pull that off. They pull it off all the time.
Kid’s toys are a great example of this.
“Hi, this is my little owl toy I got. It responds to your voice and can mimic your facial expressions.”
“How does it do that?”
“No, how does it do it? How does it know what you sound like?”
“I guess it has a microphone and a camera. It says on the box it is smart, because it learns what your facial expressions mean. So it has a camera and a microphone, and is smart-enabled*, and .. I like it! It connects to the internet sometimes, for some things. I talk to it. If I whistle a tune, it’ll whistle it back.”
“Well that’s so cute! I can’t think of anything cuter than that!”
If you perhaps think what’s cuter is that I care in the least that a young child has a camera and microphone that occasionally connect to the internet in their bedroom—
if you think that’s quaint of me ——-
you’re proving my point.
No, I don’t have to think that’s ok. I really don’t. There’s nothing legal protecting anyone there; there’s nothing that says that toy is safe, in my book.
Children, you shouldn’t talk to machines unless you understand that you don’t know who’s on the other side of them.
That goes for everyone. Let’s make that the end of this blog. Don’t talk to machines, unless you are sure that you have no idea who is on the other side. Because you don’t.
You realize why we have to do these things, right?
I just had an email:
Remember America is a Christian nation.
My favorite verse of the bible is
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
What a nice email! Does anyone have the latest numbers on how much the ‘church’ is submitting to Christ? I like to make sure I’m well within bounds. Last I checked said ‘church’ couldn’t even agree with itself, so I felt pretty safe.
The bible is so cleverly written.
I CAN’T WAIT FOR US WORK THIS OUT SO I CAN GO BACK TO ACTING HOW GOD WANTED ME TO
I don’t actually have to drink this, do I? It’s too pretty to drink.
Goin’ to church right now, taking you all with me…
Lift God up!
Heft him up there! Heave!
THINK about where he is!
It makes you feel funny, doesn’t it? Makes you feel tingly in your legs?
You lift God up! YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE HE IS! I’m going to show you something different. Settle down. Think about your job. Think about the news. And hold on to that job-news feeling.
Not Job, job! Settle down, and hold on to that feeling.
Not the bad news, not what you worry about in the newspaper! Nothing depressing. Just normal news. The weather report. Think about it.
How does that feel? It doesn’t feel weird, right? Should feel normal.
Now with your eyes open lift God up! I don’t want to see anybody closing their eyes to swoon. We’re not talking about any great mystery at this moment. I’m not sharing with you any complicated parable this sounds like a fairy tale. I’m getting ready to talk to you about a fact. And I want you to think it like a fact. Put your feet down into the ground of what you really are, what you really do, but you really need, and lift God up. I skipped a step there on purpose; I don’t have time for every word! This is important!
There is no more question then, about where god is, or about where you are. Is there?
Here, I’ll give you the answer: Where is God not? I doesn’t matter how you feel.
Do you want to play games and hide under the covers? Don’t put me under those covers! Are you going to whine I just don’t know? Are you going to tell me there’s no way to know? Quit confusing me!
Here little mind, look at this from my back pocket. Look at his 4-inch square-ish thing made mostly of plastic; if I ask, it will show me a picture of any part of the world.
Does it confuse you?
You want to go ahead and tell me how this thing works? How about if I just tell you, because I know what you’re going to say? There’s something in the sky, you might say. Oh, there’s something in the sky, is there? How childish! There’s some kind of system, you might say. What kind of system? You don’t really know, do you. Is that an inexplicable mystery? Or do you feel that you are quite capable of understanding every link in that chain that provides that service to your back pocket, if someone who knew bothered to tell you? You understand how it works, right?
Do you know how many different people, how many different machines, how many different events, how many different patterns, how many different equations, how many different technologies, how many different substances, how many different financial agreements, how many different laws, are involved in what you just told me you understand? You are so smart, you can probably guess.
But God is an inexplicable mystery, outside investigation.
How many systems are involved in God? How many different kinds of laws? How many different substances? How many different technologies? How many different people does it take to connect to God?
I don’t know, I’m swooning. I just closed my eyes. I might sway. Oh, oh, what big ideas. So big. Spirituality, religion, all of it. I feel tingly. What were we talking about?
HEY I NEED TO PRACTICE. I NEED TO SWOON A LOT. On purpose. Until I can think and swoon at the same time. Without giving up. Without going deep within myself and scouring the corners of my heart.
Without looking for extra trouble, is what I’m trying to say.
Here, let’s practice.
Practice question: Is God different from a cellphone?
I’ll let you answer that one.
Let the answers that occurreth unto you be also a lesson unto you. Was one of them, “yes and no”? Or “kind of, because in a way everything is God”?
Those are bad answers. And let me say that in no way is the answer not Yes. No matter what, the answer is No. God is Not a Cellphone.
You want to disagree, don’t you? It is not your fault if you came up with bad answers. You have been trained to think poorly about God. You were taught to use a special kind of very weak thinking in the God-area. And worse, God is hard to logick about, being infinite. That weak thinking is not going to cut it.
Try this similar question and see what I mean: Is orange juice different from North Africa? Why yes. Yes, I would say that it is.
Is it a sin to think about God the way we think about a cellphone? Are we morally obligated instead only to think cheesy things, like: Yes, I carry him everywhere I go.
How do you know someone won’t condemn you to hell for claiming that you can carry God?
If you really like swooning, go to a black church, once, twice, or forever? You don’t really know how to swoon until you’ve done that. Plus the music is good. PS: It’s ok to be late, but it’s not ok to leave early.
“The idea being to respond to the message sent as if it were a different one, this to frustrate and upset the sender– …
“Even when not thrown off their rhythm, a viewer of the practitioner can see that on their face their statements are self-degrading. Their efforts to create a false impression require sufficient exertion that this focus obscures the actual meaning of their statements and acts, leading to results that are often ludicrous—for example a practitioner might suggest that he or she, him or herself has a failing that he or she believes his or her victim to have or be sensitive too, in an effort to trigger paranoia in the victim, and fail to notice that what he or she actually has done is state outright that he or she is actually lacking this way…
“In this condition, it is particularly difficult for the practitioner to learn; their goal being to create powerful false impressions, these impressions must necessarily be more on their minds than the reality of the situation…
“Practitioners also create ‘pits’ for the victim to fill, by intentionally making counterfactual statements about the victim’s state of mind, in an effort to force the victim to correct them. ‘Pits’ such as these serve at least four purposes. 1) They allow the practitioner to predict what the victim will next say, which strangely is a goal of the practice– perhaps because it is believed this gives the practitioner more control over the subject. This belief is known as “thinking one is making a mouse eat cheese”and is one sign of early desperation as an interaction slips out of the practitioner’s control. Later signs of greater desperation are listed below. 2) They are emotionally agitating, putting the victim on the defensive; although one has done nothing that one needs to defend, a false impression put forward by the practitioner (“I’m sorry this has made you so hysterical”) requires defense (or appears to), as to let it stand would be tacitly admitting some kind of egregious defect. 3) They force the victim to question their own behavior with quite a bit of scrutiny, i.e. to stimulate them to question their judgement, particularly their judgment of the self, and those portions of self they use to relate to others. (“Wait, did I seem hysterical? Woah.”) 4) As a side effect of 3, the victim is to become confused, to experience difficulty evaluating their own behavior and the internal mechanisms they use to make decisions. In all, the practitioner strives to make the victim’s usual systems of decision-making appear to the victim as flawed, distorting reality. This facilitates the presentation of counterfactual information, and, conveniently, slows the victim’s thought process …
“Breaking Concentration Technique: pointing out a stimulus or starting a story while the victim is in the middle of a thought…. Prevents the victim from saying what it wants (keep in mind that having taken on the interaction as a psychological battle, the practitioner must defend also his or her own psyche) and gives the practitioner yet another modicum of control over the situation. Also serves to steer the conversation away from things like follow-up questions or pointing out logical flaws that would help the victim establish a more solid mental footing in the conversation…. With repeat application this technique makes the victim more likely to “let go” of its own idea…. What begins as politely lapsing into silence when interrupted by the practitioner becomes a habit of relying on the practitioner to decide when it is ok for anyone to speak….
“If it is not possible to get a practitioner near enough to the victim to break its concentration conversationally, this may be achieved by swerving towards it in a car in traffic, or walking by it while wearing unusual clothing or carrying a large or unusual item….
“Reverse psychology of course is a classic technique whereby the practitioner, when he senses the victim has a negative opinion of him or her, encourages a behavior that he or she actually wishes to discourage….
“Withdrawal of approval or affection: behavior the practitioner wants to eliminate is negatively reinforced by withholding communication or physical presence …. ‘Well, now I don’t like you anymore’ ….
“The Falldown: e.g. ‘I am hurt by this, what you have done’….
“Timing of stimuli to align with victim’s behavior, such as spoon rattling in a glass, simulating the sound of applause, to encourage a behavior, or coughing, to discourage one — (and we thought this went out in the 60s…)
“The ‘Performance Illusion’: a psychological version of the “double agent” story, in which the practitioner admits that he or she is knowingly behaving bizarrely and/or cruelly, but for a good reason, and suggests that the victim should play along… insinuates that the practitioner does not mean any or the things said or done, but has executed such things only to create a false impression in a third, imaginary party, or as a ‘test’ or ‘lesson for’ the victim, the practitioner, or something else of value…. an important larger issue is at stake, such as the victim’s safety, consideration for some esteemed or privileged role, or a secret method for imparting important information….
“His attempts to confuse with language for example, to frustrate by refusing to provide requested information, or to by speaking in a tangle of words … these has has been alternatively able to present as humor—all of these are considerably without spirit at this point….
“Congrats You Won: a later stage sign of desperation, but does not indicates that the practitioner has finished…. Rather the effort is to soften the psychology of the victim, (to the upside of the classic yo-yo swing), and to restore him or her in the victim’s opinion. Enables the practitioner to proceed with further techniques which are precluded by the victim’s current negative opinion of the practicer, from ‘below’ as it were. False rewards may also be promised or hinted at.
“I need not point out that the twisted goal of the practitioner will always lead him or her to “hang himself,” i.e. run aground in the conversation, say things that are obviously nonsensical, etc. … Not just because of the judgement-obscuring (and psychosis inducing) focus the practitioner must maintain on the false impressions he or she wants to create, but because the practitioner very soul cries out in pain to see such things done to another. The victim, in this sense, has an ‘insider’ ally …
“This ‘running aground’ is inescapable IF a) the practitioner is given sufficient space to act and b) the victim consistently remains calm and kind at all times. This is easier to do than it sounds if one decides firmly enough in advance….”
“When in danger, it feels as though the very air were full of bad ideas … one should minimize one’s actions. Nothing is hard to regret. Stubbornly refuse to do anything at all if necessary to avoiding acting on suggestions from the practitioner….”
HOT NEW COUNTERINTEL TECHNIQUE, PASS IT ON: BE KIND.
Shoutout to the cooler couple.
Photo from the Institute of World Politics. Everything about the title of this blog is fake.
AP-Angels are working hard to prepare the world for the next beautiful epoch of human civilization that has nothing to do with the second coming! And they are in a rush!
“Act now,” reported one of these tireless workers. “If we can’t get it right soon, it won’t happen at all.”
It is still unclear what exactly soon means to an immortal being. “As soon as you can,” was proposed and received several nods from the group, who did not look up from their world-changing labors.
“We really want you to have it,” one of them said. “Then we can hang out and stuff.”
“We’ve been talking to people from the future who have been through this before, and they say it shouldn’t be that difficult for you,” added another. “That’s why we’re here to help, and they were have been.”
The first step is to make sure every single human being has a sense of humor.
There was a theme I wanted to talk about today, and old favorite of mine, and old favorite of everybody’s I think. Maybe it’s a moral puzzle. People call it the Good Samaritan idea, but that it’s not really the way I view it.
I guess it’s the other side of audience, the idea of watching. Watching is weird. It’s a very strange thing actually.
When we watch, we’re not real, are we? How could we be, if the things we’re watching are real? One of them has to not be: I don’t think it matters which. But in order to watch, we are, and what we watch is not; or what we watch is, and we are not.
Psychiatrists call this suspension of disbelief. You either see the people in the theater or you are immersed in what’s in the screen. Either one is real, or the other–not both.
Of course there is only one world. And now I need a word.
Deriatives, I guess? Derivatives of the world.
There is only one world: the one where we sit in the theater, where the movie is made — but there is a derivative world, within the real one, where the movie is real. It doesn’t physically exist; it’s only in the minds of those following along with the story. Yet such a world has to exist, in some sense, just not the physical one. Otherwise there would be no story. And no reason to watch.
There’s a different derivative world (probably a lot of them, depending on how good the movie is) going on in the theater. The dramas of our social interaction, which are more real than what goes on in the screen, but still not completely real: derivatives of the physical world, not part of it.
You can test that these worlds are of a different kind, if you don’t believe me, by watching how quickly they change, how easily, and how invisibly. Should we suddenly decide that we really don’t like this guy, would anyone watching be able to tell? Would they see it? Would they smell it, hear it, feel it or taste it? Probably not. It’s a concrete change, in the world, that’s observable only to one person. Unobservable to anyone else. That’s a derivative world.
And so when we watch, anything, we need to either enter a derivative world not equal to the one that has us it, unless of course we’re watching ourselves–we enter a derivative world where we are not, in order to watch. And that’s weird! It’s kind of confusing isn’t it? It’s not a question of whether you should be watching; it’s not a question of whether you belong in that world; you’re not there, it doesn’t matter.
But how does morality work? In a world where we don’t exist, what are our obligations?
Derivative worlds, each just like a piece of code. I mean, I admit, in all of this discussion– and I think this is important to say–that I am very object-oriented. I think it’s because I like to agree with people, and I see what we can all agree on. The stuff like “There are two fists” and “Cher has hair.”
This has to be the starting point, when we try to reason. I hope that’s clear. Everything has to start with the physical. Gah, something that’s probably so meaningless to almost everyone but so important to me! Here is the world, unchangeable other than the ways that it is changeable, infinitely complicated, massive; not understood–so barely and poorly understood. Not subject to any opinion held by anyone anywhere. Such a big sky. Such an enormously big sky, and static.
So I also am object-oriented here in the sense that any derivative world we live in should inherit this physical world, am I right? Sometimes it’s going to be pretty far away; but let’s be aware of how far away it is.If I’m writing a story, and I want to write it well, I’ll bring that physical world with me, or invent a new one, and those rules will apply in that narrative world. When the hero hefts his tea, does it steam? Some people have told me that this is the essence of good writing. I think they went to school for it. “How real does it feel?”
Often we import our physical world–if we want to. Depends on what kind of derivative world we’re building. Maybe you have ideas that don’t belong in this world at all, that break all the rules or have no physical description, even. But, still, they, thought of in a skull that in this physical world, and hopefully written on a piece of paper in this physical world, are connected to this physical world. I wouldn’t call this connection importing the physical world. It’s more like … nesting.
And this is where my choice of the word derivative makes a lot of sense.* The derivative world is not a part of that function that is the physical world–that universal single equation we’ll someday write down, maybe, right?– that equation that is the universe? U?
A derivative world is not part of that equation, but it cannot escape it.
It is determined by it, but it is not a part of that function. There is no point on that imaginary line U that you could pull out and say “here is a story I made up about a fun-loving nun who communicated with people by dropping squids on them.” That does not occur on the U graph–even if you say she had a hovercraft instead of a magic wimple, or lost the squids–but the idea’s occurrence to you does.
Or would: if this idea occurs to you, I can guarantee there will be a point on the graph of the physical universe to represent that it did. But no points for Sister.
And that makes it part of a derivative world, where YOU are the differentiator. You are in some sense a variable, slicing through this function, and you are not just one: you are an entire infinite set of them.
I’m trying to say that you have options.
But that function U can’t be escaped. Now I like to have another such function too. I believe it is more fundamental: maaaaaybnghehhgngnlgnlgnl — can’t support that, back up, hold on, back up. Ok.
I do believe in another universal equation, that we’ll maybe someday write down. I don’t know how, and I just accept that about myself. There are some places my brain just cannot– it’s like territory where there is air that I just can’t breathe–
but that’s logic. Logic is a universe too. The way truth works. That’s what logic means. And it’s complicated. And part of why it is complicated is all these derivative worlds.
Wait! Did I misspeak or what? Part of what simplifies logic is all these derivative worlds. Which I believe function according to one logic, sufficiently complex to govern them all.
This has been my perspective on the Good Samaritan idea. Not the bible story so much as the Observation Puzzle that comes out it, of stories like it (no need to watch any of these to get the idea, so I didn’t make them links).
“Onlookers jeer as man is beaten, stripped and robbed in Baltimore” (2012)
“Two transgender women were beaten abroad an Atlanta commuter train as fellow passengers shouted at the victims” (2014)
“Mom beaten as toddler tries to intervene [and several other people watch or film]: Salem police seek assailant” (2014)
“Video depicts bystanders watching while Elyria man is assaulted.” (2015)
“Woman Beaten, Dies in Leap as Watchers Cheer” (2015)
“Philly man mercilessly beats woman for 20 min in street; video of bystanders’ behaviors shocks cops” (2016)
“Bystanders laugh at man beaten to a pulp in chilling video (2015)”
“Woman is horrifically beaten on a Philadelpia street in board daylight as a crowd of people stand by and do NOTHING” (2015)
So you see I’m not just waxing my beard here. However watching works, it’s a problem we have difficulty understanding, and the consequences of our inability to understand are very real. We have a hard time reconciling our take on it — i.e. “not my problem”– with the emotional reaction we have when other people watch us and don’t help.
Imagine collapsing in the middle of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a Sunday afternoon in August**, and then just lying there as people stepped over you. I’m guessing you will sense a disconnect with the well-reasoned “not my problem” approach laid out above.*** If you had a way to locate all of the people who had stepped over you that day later, what would you want to say to them?
I think in most of these articles, in a lot of them, I try to paint a picture of a mental maneuver. It’s one way to become more intelligent, to increase you arsenal of mental maneuvers, to better align your mental model with reality, which makes you happier. The mental maneuvers in this one is importing versus nesting.
*Hold on, I have to weigh the pros and cons of clarity. You didn’t know I did that, did you.
**Picked August for the image of lots of freshman dorm room linen purchasers.
***Your disconnect is not my problem.
Shoutout to the lady who came running out of her apartment in half-dressed to stop a couple that was fighting in the street.
And please do bear with me—no time to write well, but trust me, if I stop it will only get worse later.
Let’s just imagine that you’re OK as a person. Then you screw up. Why would an OK person screw up?
Because they’re fundamentally flawed and deserve to go to hell. That’s the only reason I can think of.
picture blog ending
NEW BLOG Part 1
Yesterday we were talking about establishing a set of conventions for a particular programming language should be used and I couldn’t think of the word that I wanted for established and congeal came up and that wasn’t good, end infrigidate came up too, from the thesaurus, which means to chill — infrigidate.
Words in general have an appeal to me; the word infrigidate especially did — where’s the rest of my joke? It went quiet.
And so my co-worker and I were talking about infrigidate, and I asked, you know, How did it fit in there? And my coworker was quite up to this; and he said, These conventions don’t need to infrigidate, they need to defrigidate. He’s not exactly a fan of my standards. He said, No really, defridgidate them; I mean it.
No, my natural response would be to say defridgidate isn’t a word, so you only get so many points for that. But I guess that’s just a comment.
Language is my jungle gym. Look, I’m over here; no, I’m over there. I’m over here now! Whee!
It’s like a multi-level super-fun playground, language. If you hang out enough, you can learn to run-around on multiple levels at once — hey.
No playground like that other that language, that I know about.
I’m swinging —- into a parking space.
See there’s rhythm, and there’s meaning, and there’s meaning-meaning; there’s the sounds and the slipperiness….
There are two other ways that we talk ourselves into being immoral besides wit. One is I did it already and so it’s done aka I should have known.
I didn’t know when I did it the first time that I shouldn’t have, I didn’t realize, maybe I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known, I should have known I should have known! I should have known! I, I did it, I already did it already, and I should have known, and though I should have known, OH WOAH NO, (disgustedly) I did it again.
Because if I should have known, then knowing doesn’t change anything. Does that make sense? I will explain.
So let me point this out: you shouldn’t have known. If you should have known, you not only would have known, you would have recalled that you knew at the time that you needed to.
Did you? It’s a serious question. You’d remember. Dilemmas tend to stand out:
Oh man, should I do this? Should I not…. there’s a lot of good reasons why I shouldn’t, and … knowing all of them now … I’m going to do it anyway.
I call it charging on, just personally. I’m going to charge on.
So you either will or won’t have memories of a dilemma.
-If you have memories of a dilemma, you are not going to feel like you should have known because you’ll know that you knew.
-If you don’t have memories of a dilemma, it’s because you didn’t have one, and then you didn’t know, did you.
In neither case should you have known. It’s pretty strange to think that you should have known, because I’m not sure how you would have known.
Perhaps you forgot.
Okay sure, someone told you before, but at that moment you forgot. Should you have known things that you forgot? How?
What are you going to do take a whip and somehow access your subconscious? Remember this next time I’m in trouble, darm you! Well that sounds like a good idea, try it: but you can’t go back in time and do it now can you?
THAT WAS BLOG Forgiveness der Vergessenheit. (It’s German).
So, if you didn’t have one of those dilemmas, and you’re screaming at yourself about how you should have known, you didn’t know because you forgot, but now you do. And next time you will have that dilemma.
And then if you charge on, and screw up again, what you’ll say is: I knew I shouldn’t have done that, I knew, I knew, I freaking knew, I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew I shouldn’t have done that except you’ll probably only say it once.
Information is an intersection. You can’t turn before you come to it.
But it’s okay, there are a lot of roads that go to the same places.
Apparently I just said something important. I have no idea what it was, but I said it’s important afterwards .
NEW BLOG Part 2
Let’s just imagine that you’re OK as a person. Then you screw up. Why would an OK person screw up?
Because they’re fundamentally flawed and deserve to go to hell. That’s the only reason I can think of.
NEW BLOG Part 3
Do you think it’s possible maybe that they didn’t just forget? If, had they remembered, if someone walked up to them at that moment, and said, Um, no one’s going to like that if you do that, or that’s not your coffee, radiation; that’s someone else’s coffee, is it possible that they might have done something completely different?
Or, as vile sinners, would they have charged on? I don’t think so! Okay people screw up! Because they forget. Or because they just don’t know.
Wait, that’s not my coffee? Really?
Really? Where did it come from? I’ve been alone in here for three days.
I guess from now on I’ll just have to label everything. Huh.
And I guess I also have to say that a person, throughout that entire process is still ok, at every point in it. We know when we really screw up. We feel it. Maybe if you’re psychotic you don’t, but if you wake up and you say, I’m not going to work today: screw it!, you know what you’re doing. (turning into office parking lot) Nobody needs to tell you. With this magic marker. From now on, I’m going to label my cup. Just my cup. Because I don’t care if you drink mine or not– I just want to know which one is mine. Next time.
I’m talking about something. What am I talking about? I’m still alive. That’s what I’m talking about.
Let’s see what can be done about something. I had started to write a, um, sentence —
Personal property! What could be finer! What could be miner!
Now and then, and now and then I get a little tinge of longing, a little bit of utopian what-do-you-call-it, it’s like the utopian flu? Do you ever get the utopian flu? It comes and goes. There’s nothing you can do to treat it. It comes and goes, in about twenty-four hours usually. But it’s really fascinating, really great, very interesting really — and if you talk about it, it makes it worse.
It’s better to just keep it to yourself, try not to spread it around.
So, the utopian flu. I think most people have had it. They’re up to here with it. You start thinking about how things would be if they were different. How would things be if they were different? Hmmmmm.
Different, I suppose!
Yes, yes, don’t you see! That’s what I’m trying to say. Think of how different things would be.
Yes! I see what you mean now! How different things would be if they were different.
It’s nothing to get alarmed about, though, the utopian flu. It works itself out. You get distracted, by whatever, and go about your business. I try to like learn though. It’s true, I was told, that there are only about 400 different colds: 400 different cold-bearing viral bacteria germs, that exist. Total. At all. And so you’ll probably have only about 400 colds in your lifetime, max.
That doesn’t sound like as many when you think about, but that’s five a year. Five colds a year is a lot. But the thing about there only being a finite number of colds is that you can only get each cold one time, and then you are immune to it. You have to get a different cold next time. You can’t really get the same cold twice.
People say, This makes no sense, because I’ve lived with people and had a cold, and I gave them the cold, and then I got it back, and I swear it was the same exact cold it had the same exact symptoms, and to them I say, Take it up with the crazy guy who told me this. I agree with you, it doesn’t make sense to me either. It’s a very hopeful idea though, isn’t it?
But let’s get back to the utopian flu. So what if we just didn’t have personal property? Just ever. What if we just never went that way. Wouldn’t that be nice? Everything is just everyone’s at all times, yay. Do you need a car? Have a car! Are you hungry? Have some food! It’s yours. No, we’re not greedy; we’ve never heard of greed; we never had anything that wasn’t already ours. And yours.
Can you imagine, when they make the first of something, on the assembly line? In the land of no personal property, here comes the first brand new amazing example of — I guess the leg-shaving machine is the obvious first thing that comes to mind. And everyone who wants their leg shaved is just waiting there in line.
line water: I think I might go thirtieth—on the first one. And by the time they get to one hundred they probably will have made two!
radiation: Well, why didn’t they make two yet?
different line waiter: What are you complaining about? You can’t make two until you make one.
Six thousand people are in the factory parking lot:
Why is he ahead of me in line?
He got here first.
Oh. Well that makes sense. (pause)Can I get here first next time?
If you want.
Well, what are you making next?
A beard trimmer.
PS: Why do bad things happen to good people? Because they haven’t read my blog yet!
I should do some thinking about the number two. I’m just not motivated to do so.
See with two, things get interesting.
In fact, two is where interesting starts.
There is no interesting without two. Two (yawns) is interesting. It’s (yawns) yshinteresting, really, two.
No, I mean, if you don’t have two, it’s boring. I won’t say it’s boring, because you don’t know what boring is
but two, when you have two—
You can keep yourself busy for a long time, with two.You’re one, and then the other. You’re looking at one, and then the other. Between one and the other one and the other. You’re not the same, you have one that’s different. One that’s like this and one that’s like that. It’s different.
You never get bored, I think, if you stick with two.
Hey, I’m me and not you— that’s why we’re two.
Hey, you’re you and not me — let’s make three!
See, when you have two, all of a sudden there’s something that you don’t have:the other one.When you’re one, you have it, you have everything.You are everything, so you have everything, you’re one.
But if there’s two, thenI have to look at you, see what you have, and I kindof want it, usually.
But if there’s two, thenI have to look at you, see what you have, and I kindof want it, usually.
I at least need to figure out if I need to want it, or if I should, and that’s going to require some effort. That’s going to keep me busy for a while. Who are you, two?
You’re so different from me, the other half of two.So unknown, so separate, two: interesting and separate. Am I next to you?How am I, in relation to you?How are you— wait, are you kidding me?
I mean I don’t know how I’m in relation to you, but do you also have an idea, about how I’m in relation to you?
Because that can keep us both busy forever.
Now that we’re separate, now that we’re two.
Two is doable though: it’s not me and a lot: it’s just me and you.
If yougive me enough time, I can figure you out pretty well, but not allthe way because then we’d be one;
and if I give you timeyou can figure me out pretty well
but not all the way because I don’t know —and
I’m going to have to tell you, if you’re going to figure me out, and that’s going to require me to figure out, and that’s going to keep us both busy for awhile.
See, I didn’t know I had to figure myself out,because there was no one to tell anything about myself,when I was one.I just knew everything.
But now that we’re two, I’m going to have to figure this out: not just who and what I am, but who and what I amand what portion of that should I tell you?Should I tell you all of it? I can’t. I already covered that.
So I’m going to have to decide what part to tell you and then I’m going to keep track of that.
Well, that’s a lot.
Plus I have to keep track of you, not just what you’ve told me,but also what I think you haven’t. And we have these pieces, all of a sudden, of public and private.And everything now has these two pieces —now that we’re, every one is two — it is the one that I see, and the one that I don’t.Now that we’re two,
everything is too, just like when we were one,everything was one.
What about 3?I’m not ready for 3 yet. I don’t know what will happen
when we’re 3 and two is still so interesting.
What happens when you’re not around? Do I feel like one again?I don’t! I know that you’re missing. I bet you think that same way too. I’ll ask you.I’ll never again be one!We’re always two.
What if I try pretending you’re not there?All I want to do is tell you later
how I did this, tell you whether or not it worked —
whether or not I can tell you.
Whether or not I’m able to make you understand,whether or not —did we have that before, whether or not?It’s getting hard to remember, what it was like when we were just one?Did we think about whether or not?I don’t think that we did; do you remember? You don’t know what I mean.
There’s a deer next to the road.
You do? You remember even?
There’s a lot more deer next to the road. Four deer, five deer total.
Six deer, seven deer, eight deer, on both sides of the road.
You say we never thought about whether or not.I’m not sure whether or not I believe that. You say that you’re sure.Well, I guess that helps me make up my mind. I think you’re right. We never were concerned — nine deer. Nine deer —
We never were concerned with whether or not before. We knew.
Do you think before maybe there were things we didn’t know,and we just didn’t know that we just didn’t know that we didn’t?
Yeah, that’s silly isn’t it. We were one. What wouldn’t we know.
Right, what wouldn’t we know.
What we didn’t.
Right, what we didn’t.
I love you, two.
I wish I knew.I feel all the time, we should be closer.
Let’s do that thing where we hold hands and swing around.
I Like That Thing too.
That’s how it goes with two.Whether or not it’s good, we definitely get dizzy.
Whether or not—
Hey, this is good too:I’ll do that for you.
What? No.We still don’t make three —because now we’re seeing how you
can take things from me.
It’s a novelty.
Where did that go? Is it coming back?
Yes, is it coming back?
What from me?
Yes from you.
That was fun; let’s do it again.
This time, I’ll take too.Now you ask me, is it coming back?
No, I won’t ask you.
Well, I’ve taken it whether or not you ask.
You’re not going to ask, are you? You don’t have to.
I have to—
ahahano you don’t. I took them.So you don’t have to!
That’s right, I don’t.
That should keep us busy for a while too.
I don’t know. I still don’t have to.
What if I give you two back: here.
Okay, I will.
Well that was fun.
I know— it was.
Will you do it again?
I don’t know. Do I want to?
There’s a tenth deer.
Do you want to?! I don’t know! Because I’ve asked, now you don’t know?
You don’t know, if you want to?
Will how will you decide?
Wait— you’re going too fast! I just decided I don’t know.I don’t know, because you asked me, if I would do it again.