existence is a source of anxiety and attempts to cope with it, dartboard wallpaper, conservatism and the attrition error

Kierkegaard, The Danish Doctor of Dread “All existence makes me anxious….”

Though he was a genius of the intellectual high wire, Kierkegaard was a philosopher who wrote from experience. And that experience included considerable acquaintance with the chronic, disquieting feeling that something not so good was about to happen. In one journal entry, he wrote, “All existence makes me anxious, from the smallest fly to the mysteries of the Incarnation; the whole thing is inexplicable, I most of all; to me all existence is infected, I most of all. My distress is enormous, boundless; no one knows it except God in heaven, and he will not console me….”

As professor Gordon Marino notes we now have a cure for that. Anti-anxiety drugs will play with our synapses in a way that we’re slower to be upset, slower to anger, slower to feel that something needs to be done, slow to feel the impulses to be creative. That is a bit of exaggeration. Anti-anxiety drugs do allow for those things if done in moderation. On the other end of the spectrum are not the Kierkegaards or Woody Allen’s who learned to deal with and focus their anxieties, but people who are crippled by them. For those and the people in between, who need just a little break from their anxiousness, those drugs are a miracle.

Kierkegaard understood that anxiety can ignite all kinds of transgressions and maladaptive behaviors — drinking, carousing, obsessions with work, you name it. We will do most anything to steady ourselves from the dizzying feeling that can take almost anything as its object. However, Kierkegaard also believed that, “Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”

In his “Works of Love,” Kierkegaard remarks that all talk about the spirit has to be metaphorical.  Sometimes anxiety is cast as a teacher, and at others, a form of surgery. The prescription in “The Concept of Anxiety” and other texts is that if we can, as the Buddhists say, “stay with the feeling” of anxiety, it will spirit away our finite concerns and educate us as to who we really are, “Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them.” According to Kierkegaard’s analysis, anxiety like nothing else brings home the lesson that I cannot look to others, to the crowd, when I want to measure my progress in becoming a full human being.

Whatever a full human being is. That seems to be, for the thoughtful person anyway, a life long process – in pop psychology and self-help books the dreaded self-actualization. Anxiety can be a great motivator. It can keep one from being late. From putting off family and personal commitments. It can spur one to seek answers. Even if one does not find them, maybe there is less dark and a little more light after the effort. If the anxiety gets all bottled up inside you could do what much of America does on Saturday night and drown it temporarily in  beer. Or you could write, or exercise, paint, create the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Legos.

dartboard wallpaper

Some short fiction, Fire Flies — a story of fly infestation, “its buzz elevating to an agonizing register, before plummeting to the carpet in a smoldered fireball.”

‘Horizontal Tornado’ Captured By Amateur Videographer

This harmless phenomenon, called a roll cloud, forms where cold air drives low-hanging, moist warm air upward. Cooler temperatures condense the moisture to form clouds. Winds create the rolling effect.

Looks like the low-budget version of a Steven Spielberg film. Which makes it scarier.

meadow spring wallpaper. this will come out a deeper green on your computer. i’m not sure what the deal is with the internets and green.

Mitt Romney Lies a Lot, But He’s Not a Liar

Psychologists have a concept called “the fundamental attribution error.” Essentially it means that people tend to view their own behavior as a result of circumstances, while viewing others’ behavior as a reflection of their inherent traits. So, for instance, if we see another car making a driving mistake, we think, “that driver is an idiot,” while if we make a mistake ourselves we think we were distracted or sleepy.

This is a useful prism through which to understand Mitt Romney’s propensity to lie. He says lots of things that are obviously false and that he clearly knows to be false – particularly, but not exclusively, about his own record. But it’s not clear that this tells us anything about Romney’s character. Lying is what politicians do when the truth stands between them and their goals. I don’t mean to completely dismiss the role of character here. Some politicians are more comfortable lying than are others. But circumstance plays a powerful role.

It’s Romney’s bad luck that fate has dictated his only path to the presidency lies in being a huge liar.

I stand corrected. My impression was that at the initiation ceremony, after they drove an ice pick through that part of the brain which differentiates genuine morality from false righteousness, conservatives swore an oath to lie like their lives depended on it.

Good Old War – That’s Some Dream

someday the epiphany of “soul”, young migrant worker, racing away from contemplation

An excerpt from a 1993 essay written by Tom Robbins called “You gotta have soul”

“If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.

To one degree or another, everybody is connected to the Mystery, and everybody secretly yearns to expand the connection. That requires expanding the soul. These things can enlarge the soul: laughter, danger, imagination, meditation, wild nature, passion, compassion, psychedelics, beauty, iconoclasm, and driving around in the rain with the top down. These things can diminish it: fear, bitterness, blandness, trendiness, egotism, violence, corruption, ignorance, grasping, shining, and eating ketchup on cottage cheese.

Data in our psychic program is often nonlinear, nonhierarchical, archaic, alive, and teeming with paradox. Simply booting up is a challenge, if not for no other reason than that most of us find acknowledging the unknowable and monitoring its intrusions upon the familiar and mundane more than a little embarrassing.

But say you’ve inflated your soul to the size of a beach ball and it’s soaking into the Mystery like wine into a mattress. What have you accomplished? Well, long term, you may have prepared yourself for a successful metamorphosis, an almost inconceivable transformation to be precipitated by your death or by some great worldwide eschatological whoopjamboreehoo. You may have. No one can say for sure.

More immediately, by waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe. And on a day to day basis, folks, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

To be clear, Robbins is not talking about something unearthly. He is talking about something more philosophical, more grounded in what one could call the paradox of the human spirit, something we perceive, what some would call consciousness and its connections with our moral well-being. Not the morality of dour overly judgmental mystics of whatever flavor, but the normative morality that has consequences in this life and perhaps for those one leaves behind. Earlier in the essay he writes, “And yet, because the soul is linked to the earth (as opposed to spirit, which is linked to the sky), it steadfastly contradicts those who imagine it a billow of sacred flatulence or a shimmer of personal swamp gas.” One could call it the soul of the non-religious or at least non-dogmatic.

 

Young migratory mother by Dorothea Lange. Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) took this photograph in April of 1940. The young woman, who had two young children, and her husband had migrated from Texas to Kern County, California looking for work. The best they could find was a job as farm laborers picking peas. After a round trip of 70 miles she and her husband brought home $2.25 for the day’s work.

The title to this is link bait, but otherwise is not awful, The Risks of ‘Racy’ Thinking

Why would this be? Well, one idea is that fast thinking signals a need for urgent action of some kind, and this in turn encourages boldness and discourages slow contemplation. In other words, there is no time for slowly weighing possible untoward consequences when what’s really needed is action. Or so the mind sees it.

These studies suggest that thought speed is a fundamental shaper of human feelings and actions, and that this may have important practical implications. If the pace of modern life is indeed is getting faster and faster—or even if we just perceive it that way—such rapid stimulation could lead to increased risk taking, for better or worse, everywhere from the military to the workplace to the family. For example, the scientists note, parents and policymakers worry about the erotic and violent content of movies and video games, when perhaps they should worry more about the pace and tempo—a new kind of “raciness” for the 21st century.

Some days I have a tendency to race through as many articles and essays as i can read. While i think as i read, I find that a lot of it gets digested or contemplated latter. Sometimes those are the things that race through my mind as i go to sleep. Is it important, what does it mean. If I like something, I still play critic and find holes in the argument. One aspect of trying to digest so much is that the river of information never ends. if it never ends that means there is some point at which one has to get used to some level of ambiguity, some people would say mystery, that remains. The combination of so much information and having some answers, but never all of them is part of what scares some people about a knowledge based life in which one is forever the learner compared to a belief based life. When it’s all beliefs, that is it. You can’t let new information in. Even one little bit can cause a crack in a carefully constructed house of beliefs.

boys in front of a toy store window – depression era. In modern news, CHART: How The 1934 Recovery Benefited The 99 Percent, While 2010′s Benefited The Rich

Parov Stelar – Jimmy´s Gang  – a modern take on Chicago and big band jazz.

iTunes:
itunes.apple.com/at/album/jimmys-gang-single/id503831700