About rhetoric and citizenry

Aldous Huxley on Drugs, Democracy, and Religion

“Generalized intelligence and mental alertness are the most powerful enemies of dictatorship and at the same time the basic conditions of effective democracy.”

From the marvelous Brainpickings.org

Huxley examines the self-consciousness at the heart of worship, thus echoing Mark Twain’s lament about religion and human egotism :

We love ourselves to the point of idolatry; but we also intensely dislike ourselves — we find ourselves unutterably boring. Correlated with this distaste for the idolatrously worshipped self, there is in all of us a desire, sometimes latent, sometimes conscious and passionately expressed, to escape from the prison of our individuality, an urge to self-transcendence. It is to this urge that we owe mystical theology, spiritual exercises and yoga — to this, too, that we owe alcoholism and drug addiction.

Huxley turns to how drugs have attempted to address this human urge and the interplay of those attempts with religion:

Modern pharmacology has given us a host of new synthetics, but in the field of the naturally occurring mind changers it has made no radical discoveries. All the botanical sedatives, stimulants, vision revealers, happiness promoters and cosmic-consciousness arousers were found out thousands of years ago, before the dawn of history.

In many societies at many levels of civilization attempts have been made to fuse drug intoxication with God-intoxication. In ancient Greece, for example, ethyl alcohol had its place in the established religion. Dionysus, or Bacchus, as he was often called, was a true divinity. His worshipers addressed him as Lusios, “Liberator,” or as Theoinos, “Godwinc.” The latter name telescopes fermented grape juice and the supernatural into a single pentecostal experience. . . . Unfortunately they also receive harm. The blissful experience of self -transcendence which alcohol makes possible has to be paid for, and the price is exorbitantly high.

Huxley argues that while the intuitive solution seems to be to enforce complete prohibition of mind-altering substances, this tends to backfire and “create more evils than it cures,” while also admonishing to the diametric opposite of this black-and-white approach, the “complete toleration and unrestricted availability” of drugs. Peering into the future of biochemistry and pharmacology, he foresees the development of “powerful but nearly harmless drugs,” but also notes that even if these were invented, they’d raise important questions about use and abuse, about whether their availability would make human beings ultimately happier or more miserable. He finds reason for concern in medicine’s history of overprescription of new drugs and writes:

The history of medical fashions, it may be remarked, is at least as grotesque as the history of fashions in women’s hats — at least as grotesque and, since human lives are at stake, considerably more tragic. In the present case, millions of patients who had no real need of the tranquilizers have been given the pills by their doctors and have learned to resort to them in every predicament, however triflingly uncomfortable. This is very bad medicine and, from the pill taker’s point of view, dubious morality and poor sense.

Read the whole article at amazing Popova’s Brainpickings https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/25/aldous-huxley-moksha-drugs/

Sonderwords

23 words for emotions you have had but could not express…

1. Sonder

The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

2. Opia

The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

3. Monachopsis

The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

4. Enouement

The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

5. Vellichor

The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

6. Rubatosis

The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

7. Kenopsia

The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.

8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit

The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.

9. Jouska

A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

10. Chrysalism

The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

11. Vemodalen

The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

12. Anecdoche

A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.

13. Ellipsism

A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

14. Kuebiko

A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.

15. Lachesism

The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.

16. Exulansis

The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

17. Adronitis

Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.

18. Ruckkehrunruhe

The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.

19. Nodus Tollens

The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

20. Onism

The frustration of being stuck in just one body that inhabits only one place at a time.

21. Liberosis

The desire to care less about things.

22. Altschmerz

Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.

23. Occhiolism

The awareness of the smallness of your perspective. 

The day after

8am the next morning, and I am not surprised.
Bewildered yes, but not surprised. This is now the 4th time in a row that a major /global/political event came with particular predictions, but then the exact opposite occurred. I now consider this simply well planned and rolled out info-tactics (warfare?). Or, maybe we’re all just thick af. People who are convinced that they’ll win are set up to take less action, stay complacent. So, well played who ever’s on the other end of those polling strings 😐 I’ll keep the #auspolpress hashtag as a reminder.

There was *a lot* going on in other languages (not English) that I only knew about because of where I live… and all that campaigning was not reported on, at all…

Still, I’m glad it’s over. And ironically, despite my best efforts to vote them out, they’ll now continue to make me better off, as I am -by chance- part of Australia’s privileged caste. So I’ll have to stay smart about how to resocialise the money hereafter.

But for now it seems we have stopped living in a society. We now live in an economy *only*. This darn word will continue to give me grief now for years to come. And oh buoy I will miss society… I always loved her concept

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#radioniris

I am writing this down, on the off-chance that I can help another woman (or man, husband, friend, son, father) to be less panicky about breast cancer and the treatments involved, such as radiation therapy.

I had a DCIS* found in Dec 2018 (*explained below). I got operated right away, had all three high grade nodules completely removed. I healed during Jan/Feb. During Mar/April I have to go to hospital every weekday and receive 25 sessions of radiation treatment to my right upper chest. It started on the last day of Feb, and the wait towards it was the most stressful thing I can remember. I only ever had 3 panic attacks in my life, one was over a decade ago, the other two I had in February, waiting towards these sessions. I would wake up at night, sweat drenched, suffocating. My nerves were on edge, ready to jump anyone who dropped as much as a feather around me.

Now I am into my third week, I have received 7 treatments so far. My panic has subsided, and gave way to surrender. I stopped thinking about the side effects that were so meticulously repeated to me: scarring to the lung, brittling of the ribs, other cancers, the skin will come off, pain increasing and worsening after end of treatments, etc etc… I arranged for work to be part-time, go to work in the morning and get the sessions at St George late afternoon on my way home.

I come to the same machine, every day, and the same bunch of cheery nurses who tend to me during the ~15 minutes a session takes. There’s laughter and banter. What takes the most time is the set-up: I have to lay in the exact position, every single time. On day 0 they prepared a ‘cast mould’, and that is where I lie down in. Next is laser measuring with fancy green lights that cross where they must, and the nurses actually do a numberwang ; -D they call out numbers to each other (confirming the correct alignment). Then they leave the room, and the actual zapping takes ~ 3 x 10 seconds, from different angles.

The whole thing is doable, but now a 4th of the way in I can feel my skin giving up and the internal bruising increasing. I will see how see much more the effect will impact. I will come back next or so and write more about it. I use an (allowed) moisturiser from the pharmacy (Dermaveen, 100ml) to keep the skin from breaking up.

Update 21-03: I’m now halfway through the sessions. Today is day 15/25. I am still doing ok, but now the skin is sore, like a hefty allergy, and the bruising no longer ignoreable. I will continue to go to work, but will stop if I can’t. I get random pain in the area, like deep cuts, but not more than maybe ten times a day. But moving around I have to do slower than usual, so not to upset the whole thing. Two more weeks and then I’m done. I’ll report back next week or so…

Last update 06-04: It’s done, I had my last radiation treatment yesterday. I am quite sore, my skin is about as purple as the colour of the waiting room sign below, and very angry, inflamed, blisters and open sores, but altogether I am in good spirits, also because of the good care I received throughout the entire treatment. Plus the nurses were fantastic, lovely and caring and also funny, there was always giggles and good wishes. So next is now healing, which I was told will take a while. I’ll come back here and report how that went in a week or so.

But main fazit: Don’t be scared ladies, there’s good care out there xx

Final update 12-04: It’s now a full week without treatment, and my skin has recovered a lot. Not right away, the first few days (and nights) after the last session where the most ‘taxing’ (pain, heat, strong itch), but then the healing kicked in almost instantly. I add two photos just to give an idea of how I look now (not shown for obvs reasons are nipple & scar from the operation, which are the most angry & inflamed parts). I post this in the hope it takes the worry of someone’s mind, because from all that I had read before treatment started I had actually feared much worse than this, but could not find any depiction of what the effects might at least roughly be. (plus also posted in the hope not to scare anyone!). The inside is still sore and extremely pressure sensitive, and will take much longer to recover, but I could already go for a long walk, carry bags home etc. Life’s good again : -)

PS – Next steps: Follow up with clinic prof in 6 weeks (cells need ~28 days to rebuild). Then comes follow up with surgeon in July (6 mths after op). Then a full mammogram in Dec (1 yr after op). Surgeon & mammogram repeat 6-mthly for 5 years.

(the two lambs are just saying Hello and not to worry too much ;D xx)

Intuition and decision making

Brain science tells us there are three kinds of intuition: ordinary, expert, and strategic.

Ordinary intuition is just a feeling, a gut instinct.

Expert intuition is snap judgments, when you instantly recognize something familiar, the way a tennis pro knows where the ball will go from the arc and speed of the opponent’s racket.

Strategic intuition is a clear thought. It’s not a vague feeling, like ordinary intuition. And it’s not fast like expert intuition. It’s slow. That epiphany of insight you had last night might solve a problem that’s been on your mind for a month. And it doesn’t happen in familiar situations, like a tennis match. Strategic intuition works in new situations. That’s when you need it most.

This third kind of intuition is what I go by whenever I can. Strategic intuition is what guides the majority of my decision making. And while it is unpopular these days to request time for thinking, you have to take your stand and do it anyway, and allow for proper time to reflect. I have a 24 hrs ‘sleep it over’ rule.

Which compliments my other approach to life and everything, something that’s called the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide and act). This ‘rapid evaluation routine’ keeps running permanently on the back of my mind (or wherever my intuition-o-meter sits). Originally the OODA method was derived by pilots who apply the loop to make fast decisions and review them in a constant cognitive circle.

You have to swim fast when the water is cold…
ooda loop

Top 100 stories of humanity

1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852)
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
7. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1605-1615)
8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare, 1603)
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez, 1967)
10. The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)
11. Beloved (Toni Morrison, 1987)
12. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri, 1308-1320)
13. Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare, 1597)
14. The Epic of Gilgamesh (author unknown, circa 22nd-10th Centuries BC)
15. Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling, 1997-2007)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985)
17. Ulysses (James Joyce, 1922)
18. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)
19. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)
20. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert, 1856)
21. Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Luo Guanzhong, 1321-1323)
22. Journey to the West (Wu Cheng’en, circa 1592)
23. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevksy, 1866)
24. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)
25. Water Margin (attributed to Shi Nai’an, 1589)
26. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy, 1865-1867)
27. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee, 1960)
28. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966)
29. Aesop’s Fables (Aesop, circa 620 to 560 BC)
30. Candide (Voltaire, 1759)
31. Medea (Euripides, 431 BC)
32. The Mahabharata (attributed to Vyasa, 4th Century BC)
33. King Lear (William Shakespeare, 1608)
34. The Tale of Genji (Murasaki Shikibu, before 1021)
35. The Sorrows of Young Werther (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1774)
36. The Trial (Franz Kafka, 1925)
37. Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust, 1913-1927)
38. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847)
39. Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, 1952)
40. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville, 1851)
41. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937)
42. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)
43. The True Story of Ah Q (Lu Xun, 1921-1922)
44. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865)
45. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, 1873-1877)
46. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899)
47. Monkey Grip (Helen Garner, 1977)
48. Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)
49. Oedipus the King (Sophocles, 429 BC)
50. The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka, 1915)
51. The Oresteia (Aeschylus, 5th Century BC)
52. Cinderella (unknown author and date)
53. Howl (Allen Ginsberg, 1956)
54. Les Misérables (Victor Hugo, 1862)
55. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1871-1872)
56. Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo, 1955)
57. The Butterfly Lovers (folk story, various versions)
58. The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer, 1387)
59. The Panchatantra (attributed to Vishnu Sharma, circa 300 BC)
60. The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, 1881)
61. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961)
62. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists (Robert Tressell, 1914)
63. Song of Lawino (Okot p’Bitek, 1966)
64. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)
65. Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)
66. Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga, 1988)
67. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943)
68. The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967)
69. The Ramayana (attributed to Valmiki, 11th Century BC)
70. Antigone (Sophocles, c 441 BC)
71. Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897)
72. The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K Le Guin, 1969)
73. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens, 1843)
74. América (Raúl Otero Reiche, 1980)
75. Before the Law (Franz Kafka, 1915)
76. Children of Gebelawi (Naguib Mahfouz, 1967)
77. Il Canzoniere (Petrarch, 1374)
78. Kebra Nagast (various authors, 1322)
79. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, 1868-1869)
80. Metamorphoses (Ovid, 8 AD)
81. Omeros (Derek Walcott, 1990)
82. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1962)
83. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928)
84. Rainbow Serpent (Aboriginal Australian story cycle, date unknown)
85. Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates, 1961)
86. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719)
87. Song of Myself (Walt Whitman, 1855)
88. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain, 1884)
89. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain, 1876)
90. The Aleph (Jorge Luis Borges, 1945)
91. The Eloquent Peasant (ancient Egyptian folk story, circa 2000 BC)
92. The Emperor’s New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen, 1837)
93. The Jungle (Upton Sinclair, 1906)
94. The Khamriyyat (Abu Nuwas, late 8th-early 9th Century)
95. The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth, 1932)
96. The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)
97. The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie, 1988)
98. The Secret History (Donna Tartt, 1992)
99. The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats, 1962)
100. Toba Tek Singh (Saadat Hasan Manto, 1955)

See full article here  http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180521-the-100-stories-that-shaped-the-world

INFJs and doorslams

Today I learned about the concept of a doorslam. Or to be precise: I was acutely aware of what it is and how it happens, I just did not know it has a name. But can confirm: it is about self preservation, and trust. And it is irreversible.

From Quora: “An INFJ will exit (door slam) someone when:

  1. They feel a person is toxic and the emotions they keep giving off are burning them. INFJs are sensitive to absorbing and picking up others’ emotions. Who wants to absorb toxicity for long? Still, it takes quite some energy to get out…
  2. They feel used and a relationship has become far too one-sided and people are only coming to them for help and not for true friendship. INFJs like to help – we were put on this earth to help – when people misuse this, we get fed up and exit.
  3. Don’t like the people’s values. INFJs have a strong value system and are often clear about what is right and wrong. If someone does not have the same values they can find this a let down and give up on the person.
  4. They are also skilled at picking up the intentions of other people. When they detect people whose intentions are not kind, good, or healthy, they get out of the way and terminate the relationship.
  5. They feel things are bad between them and another person, and as they don’t like conflict they exit, never to be seen again!

INFJs are good on disappearing acts. They simply aren’t there for that person any more. The person comes knocking on the door of friendship only to find no one answers the knock. INFJs usually reserve rage for when they are in an inferior and highly stressed state, or in an unhealthy situation.

Read more about this here.

For myself this is actually a soundless occurrence. It’s more a fadeout or disappearance than a bang. There better is an end to pain, than pain never ending.

About the need to disagree better

How to disagree well: 7 of the best and worst ways to argue

Paul Graham, Harvard Ph.D programmer and writer, proposed that the web is turning writing into a conversation, with the internet an unprecedented medium of communication. In particular, it allows people to respond to others in comment threads. And when we respond on the web, we tend to disagree. He says this tendency towards disagreement is structurally built into the online experience because in disagreeing, people tend to have much more to say than if they just expressed that they agreed.

Interestingly, even though it might feel like it, the world is not necessarily getting angrier. But it could if we don’t observe a certain restraint in how we disagree. To disagree better, which will lead to better conversations and happier outcomes, Graham came up with these seven levels of a disagreement hierarchy:

Graham viewed his hierarchy as a way to weed out dishonest arguments or “fake news” in modern parlance. Forceful words are just a “defining quality of a demagogue”. By understanding the different forms of their disagreement, “we give critical readers a pin for popping such balloons.”

Read more about this here.

PS: I’m a sucker for AdHominem : / I need to get better at this, I want to debate from the top only.

The Inner Life of Rebellion

My favourite podcast, a guaranteed pick-me up at all times:

PARKER PALMER + COURTNEY MARTIN

The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Quaker wise man Parker Palmer and journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change.

Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin — The Inner Life of Rebellion

Corporate priorities & innovation

At the CSL.org.au course last night a young woman from Westpac held a talk about “shared values”, and Corporate Australia. In her talk, social and environmental considerations were ‘external factors’, which could be put into the equation because that would lead to higher economic returns.

At question time I tried to explain my take on ecological economics, sustainability and triple bottom lines, whereby the economy sits as a subsection within the greater context of the natural world, the environment and the social component.

Ecological Economics

She did not follow my train of thought. She continued describing how Westpac will replace ‘a shitload of jobs’ (her words) with automation, but that Westpac would be all CSR and train 400 people up for other jobs. I mentioned the EU is considering a robot tax.

She then tilted her head and shot off a preconceived comment (seemingly a trained reflex-reply when the word ‘tax’ appears), questioning how that would “stifle innovation”. I did not reply, but the answer would have been:

If innovation only means to produce stuff cheaper, so to gain higher profit margins, then hell yeah let’s stifle that.

 

Senses

I think, while social media is all nice and good, it has the potential to lure you into a false sense of connectedness. On the most basic human level, social interaction is much more than exchanging information, words. It is a person’s body language, their presence, that nourishes the soul. You can’t get that through a screen. But as you wilt away, starving yourself from that oldest of human needs, you don’t know why you get sick… you only know that something’s not right… and if you’re a sucker for that, you will most likely blame yourself for being unwell, for not performing.

Boom.

Critique of Romanticism

alaindbJust can’t stop laughing about how much the truth hurts 😀

AlainDeBotton.com‘s Critique of Romanticism

http://abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/2016-08-08/7641598

A few snippets:

Instilled emotions propel us into Romanticism.

Romanticism tells us we’re quite good and pure and perfect, very optimistic, we’re all like children.

This attitude makes you self-righteous.

Bluntly: affected thru childhood and adulthood, we are all demented in slightly different ways. we’re all just holding it together somehow (13:00)

No one can be bothered to tell you your obvious craziness which they know about after 30 mins of meeting you, unlike you who still doesn’t know after 40 years.

And yes spot on about instincts. Cos while once healthy, they’re now totally screwed, and off cue!

The cult of the instinct – we’re looking for forms of torture 😉

Relationships – not about love, but about honesty!

Love is about admiration of what is good and accomplished in another person.

(53:00) But also about being pupil and teacher at the same time, pointing out stuff that sucks about the other so they get a chance to become the best possible version of themselves.

Love is connecting up with teaching. But you have to be relaxed, jovial, slightly lighthearted.

Melancholy is sadness worn with dignity. Sometimes you have to call on that emotion too.

My personal mantra echoed: Life is all about forgiveness. And so is love 🙂 just use your ethical imagination (not your ego).

Be a loveable idiot, and learn to love another idiot.

What defines a generation?

What defines a generation? Born in the same time bracket? But what if your parents got you really young, but your friend’s parents got their kids late? So you &  your mate might be 15 years apart, but you were both raised by people from the same generation/same time bracket/same historic background…so you are both confronted with same influences, but have different timelines and subliminal hums in your background…

So, what makes the fine grain? There are generations between generations, and types between categories, yet where does natural empathy and true understanding end?

 

Reason above all else

About Ayn Rand

While in high school, she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason above any other human virtue.

Ayn RandAyn called her philosophy “Objectivism”, describing its essence as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” She considered Objectivism a systematic philosophy and laid out positions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy and aesthetics.

What an utterly inspiring woman.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand