Archive for March, 2013

Modern Mayhem

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

One motif in post-modern or (at least) some contemporary media is a search for identity. Films like Fight Club present the individual in search of identity. Often male, the figure lurks through the world in pursuit of a meaningful purpose. Careers are stable and financially fulfilling but fail to prove a personal sense of value. Equally as shallow are the material possessions that these characters seem so capable of acquiring. These are wealthy men- men whose apartments are both stylish and self-designed.

Often the solution to these character’s conundrum is a self-pursued path of destruction. Each, it seems, blindly walks into an unconscious free fall. Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone seems the perfect soundtrack for this journey. “Until you ain’t got nothin’, you got ‘nothing to lose.” These men have it all and yet have nothing. Their paradox is what we now know as the modern condition: though we pursue wealth and status it is empty and the only real value in life is via humility and the spiritual.

Herein lies the risk: spirituality and humility have been hijacked by the very model they exist to contradict. Keen individuals recognize the need for spirituality and traffic in its pursuit. Self-help is a genre of reading and travel. Spiritual retreats promise relaxation and self-discovery.

Is the solution to this “modern condition” a recognition of real humility and spirituality. It is not church and it is not self-help. Instead it is the realization that pure reality must be sought. If we are unhappy it is our fault. We do not need to pursue anything. Instead, we are served best by a stripping away of the items we have used to lift ourselves away from who we are. If we hate who we are we have only one real solution: confront and pursue.

Too often we run from what we are and what we hate. Do not run away. See that which you hate and work towards the creation of a solution. Running away will only lead to more confusion. As the clip above suggests, sometimes the only real solution is to simplify the problem. Though you want the water because it seems to make sense your “common sense” is wrong. You cannot know the solution and find safety in the sour vinegar of reality. It burns because its there and its there because its happening. Be present and aware.

Human Tool Reflections

March 23, 2013 Leave a comment

That which we use defines us. In our tools we see both need and solution. Hold a hammer and support within your hand a remnant of a problem solved. What can be learned from our tools? Do we see our priorities in our devices? It is our selections that tell the story. Preference refers to selection and the process by which need became desire and desire became reality.

The sense of “choice” and “taste” comes more from popular notions of selection and less from actual quality. What is a “choice wine” but one that has been selected by another. Does the expert palette serve the general tongue? Expertise and specialty does not suggest the ability to provide a greater experience by all. In one’s acute senses there lies little beyond a personal skill. Just because you can taste the difference doesn’t mean that I can.

What can be learned from our choices? Does a preference for a certain brand suggest some deeper need? Might one’s avoidance of a brand suggest an attitude of belief? One recent development in consumer behavior is a consideration of a company’s ethics. Many of today’s consumers happily choose a sub-part product if its competitor’s ethics are less than desirable. Bad actions and cruel policy tarnishes even the greatest product.

Social policy is now connected to consumer behavior and as tools reflect who we are so to does the expressions that surround it. Now it is less what type of hammer but what we do with it. You might make a great chicken sandwich but if your policy on same-sex marriage offends me I’ll go elsewhere. I like your discounted craft supplies but your attitudes just put me off. Yes, your products are amazing but the way you make them makes me sick.

Today’s better product is measured less in terms of quality of production and more in the who and what the surrounds the device. Bad policy and action is far more powerful than great innovation.

Pattern Makers Making Patterns

March 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Both the genius and the lunatic find patterns in disparate details. The molecules which could be combined, the facts that might be suggestive of something more- as yet disconnected and yet waiting for the glue. This game of possible discovery is a dangerous game of risk. Does a mind which seeks these patterns risk losing touch with reality?

In many cases a pattern may be present and yet meaningless. If a random string of digits has a pattern does it mean something more? The mind must consider and find these patterns. Both lunatic and genius may find a connection, but what differentiates a great discovery from a crack-pot theory? Does the application of a discovery determine its worth?

Often the lunatic’s search for patterns dips into conspiracy and paranoia. Perhaps these flights of fancy can be expected. Complicated entities like companies and governments perplex us with their complexity. We cannot know all of the details, but does that mean a secret lurks inside? Does the fact that something remains unknown suggest significance? For some, the mere feature of being hidden suggests conspiracy. For some minds the only acceptable world is one of complete transparency and illumination. Herein lies the blinding world that distinguishes the lunatic from the genius.

Where the genius knows a limitation and focuses on certain details, the lunatic demands clarity for all items and grows weary of the unknown. Genius knows its limitations and embraces its power with caution. The lunatic greets power with unbridled enthusiasm and passion. Lunacy knows to run the engine cool- insanity runs it to the brink and often blows to bits in fire.

The Ultimate Absurdity

March 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Pornography is the ultimate absurdest art. Private becomes public as content is created to simulate a creative act.

Absurdest art focuses on the actions of characters existing in a world without meaning. Characters within these narratives act without purpose because their actions have no purpose. Life is void of meaning and in such a world, actions take place without context. There is no meaning for doing something when no justification or need exists. In essence life is a game of chasing one’s tail until death. Why act when no result will follow? All of life is folly.

Pornography is the ultimate absurdest art. Actors within these films exhibit an intimate action for the purpose of explicit display. Actors here make explicit what is intimate and private becomes public. Pornography is understood as material containing actions determined to be private. Oddly the very components of pornography, the human organs and actions, are referred to as “privates”. In naming such items as “private” we indicate their relation to the world (they are not meant for show). Does a violation of these categorization give way to excitement? Is one aspect of pornography’s draw the fact that social rules are violated?

Nudity is the least common denominator of entertainment. If the basest goal of entertainment is to excite then the most basic spark is the naked human form. Ironically what excites us the most is that which is most common. We all possess a human body and can very easily view it in the naked form. While variations do exist, the common human form is the most common component of pornography. We are jolted by the very thing we possess and can most readily observe.

When a pornographic film is displayed in public a meta-swill of context is born: the private made public becomes public and private. If viewed in darkened rooms of theaters, a private moment made public enters a new realm of privacy. Here the individual views another’s private moment of privacy in public. Does this viewer claim his right to view the private made public in private? Dare we censor such displays? Maybe the cycle completes here: private made public returns to privacy. You can have your dirty movie but keep it in your own home. We often argue that “what goes on behind close doors is none of our business.” Pornography makes these private acts its business and draws much of its power from this violation. Private made public for your own private viewing.

By Common Games and Hobbies

March 10, 2013 1 comment

How much can we relate to another by our common hobbies and games? I play basketball and so do you- do we better understand each other via this common behavior? If I have played a game I have likely experienced the same flights of glee and disappointment that you have. We also play videogames. Have you played that certain title? Oh, you have? Wasn’t that one level exciting? Oh, you struggled to? So did I, so did I.

Common experiences may not help us understand another’s perspective of the world, but it remains a shared experience nonetheless. Globalization has allowed culture to spread throughout the world. So vast has this expansion spread cultural items that a North Korean boy can play the same videogame that I can. Of course not all North Korean boys can play that game but certainly one can, and did, as the media has reported.

If reports are true, Kim Jung-un, the recently “appointed”? supreme leader of North Korea, enjoyed playing videogames. Did he play the games that I played? Has he struggled through the same levels that I have? Did he grow frustrated on that one way too difficult mission as I did? Videogames were an essential component of my childhood. They provided me with hours of entertainment and functioned as the dominant source of narrative in my life. What books and film were to older generations, videogames were for me and many in my generation, the major way we learned the narrative form.

Put bluntly, my brain has been where Jung-un’s brain has been. Though separate, we’ve ventured through the same pixelated mazes and puzzles. Do I know him more for sharing this? How much can we assume to be shared via these common behaviors? Do my hobbies make me know you? Do you know me by the games we’ve played?

Self-Imposed Slavery

March 4, 2013 Leave a comment

For some, a task without reward is never worth doing. Why make an effort when no reward is to follow? Only a fool works for free. For others, the unpaid work is all that matters. Creating art or working for a charity is a labor of love whose benefits extend beyond monetary reward. These are the “self-imposed slaves” whose work is not about financial benefits.

A unique breed of worker is now becoming common in contemporary society. Wikipedia’s army of editors and creators work for free. Linux continues to be edited by volunteers and millions around the world dedicate time and energy to goals without immediate fiscal reward.

How might a society recognize and reward this new breed of worker? If one is to spend hours of one’s time working towards a goal is not fiscal reward due? The Huffington Post seemed to feel this was not the case but free labor only goes so far. For many it is the selfish sacrifice that has value but turn these labors into profit for another and the game has changed. “I’ll work on this because I care,” they might say, “but take it for your profit” and some might not be pleased.

In a society where large portions of work go without compensation we must work to recognize some new form of compensation. Perhaps not direct cash reward, but some reprieve or recognition should be awarded. Might we offer tax deductions? This may be too much. One key change that we can quickly change is public recognition. Volunteer work on a resume need not be disregarded. In today’s world this free labor means less that “I couldn’t find a job” and more “I had a passion and dedicate my time and energy to it.” Herein lies the power of this act and delivery of the profit where its needed- right back for those who do the act.

Languages of Place

March 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Distinct locations have their own languages and laws. Speaking to a friend, one might refer to an item using a funny turn-of-phrase. What began as a verbal flub can quickly be converted to an accepted way of referring to something. Likewise a blend of language can develop or a habit or speaking can be adapted and celebrated. Quickly these unique features become a means to bond with another- a minor and yet powerful way in which one’s link to another person become more firm. What better way to connect with a person that speak a unique language? Locked into each other with phrases, terms and habits unique to only the group, a dynamic of immense power becomes common.

Language bonds us to people and places. We speak in unique ways in certain locations. Ever formal in a restaurant or always casual in another- place has impact. Are we spending time with family? We may censor ourselves and avoid the use of vulgar words. We are capable of tailoring our language to the moment and the person.

When we find ourselves bonding with another person we often find a new way of speaking. Language adapts and develops with relationships. As we grow closer to another person so to does our method of speaking. We develop new terms, mimic certain tones and gradually mesh our speaking habits to those of another. Seen in this sense love’s bonds extend beyond emotion and branch ever further into our souls as it alters who we are as both communicators and thinkers.

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