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Postmodernist meaninglessness

Reading legal documents is sometimes worse than any postmodernist work of doom and gloom and general lack of meaningfulness.

Marriage turns into an economic contract and child custody laws make the child into a property of the parents. The child’s life is thus neatly split between two parents, because the right of both parents to see their child equally is superior to the child’s right to a stable, settled environment. But it’s not really that. I could envision a teenager who may even enjoy the change of scene. It’s the tone of these things. The extreme regulation, the splitting of hairs to achieve equality.

Values

I encountered an opinion that for an intellectually stimulating and rich life one requires money. The reasoning being that otherwise you cannot go to the theatre, travel, go to concerts and participate in various courses.

 

LOL. Stupid wannabe educated middle class narrow-mindedness at its best.

Fossilization

This should be a useful post, a good post. After a long silence, one should do that, I suppose, write something meaningful and pithy. But I’m instead going to write something very dull.

I thought this morning, as I was checking out different phone companies to switch to a cheaper contract, that maybe I should get myself a new phone with the new contract too. A budget smartphone instead of my old regular phone so that people would stop rolling their eyes when they see me take out my phone. I’m not totally immune to that. Also, the thing I’m missing is not being able to transfer photos to other devices more easily and having a chat programme, so I can do away with regular text messages with people who also use the same IM service.

Since I wouldn’t be using most of the gadgets that come with it, the cheapest models seemed to be the thing to go for. I don’t even care for high picture quality. Adequate would do. And if the device gets so little use for all its extras, paying a lot seems foolish.

I picked out two models that seemed okay, but the moment I checked their battery life, I went off the idea completely. Having to charge them every day seems extremely tedious. Particularly if I’d hardly be using the apps and things that take up all the battery. My old phone lasts 5-7 days without being charged and I suppose one could get used to it lasting a day, but given what I would get in return for this increase in discomfort, it doesn’t balance out. For half the price it might make sense.

So I’ll stick to my old phone until it stops working and continue annoying and surprising people with not having a smartphone. The discomforts that come with it are not daily, but occasional at least.

Authenticity dream

Sometimes, truth hits you in the face with a frying pan. And everything you are and were becomes a lie.

I have no wish to disseminate more lies by writing about myself. I don’t like this self.

Let’s see how long my rebellion against falseness lasts. I’d give it two weeks.

Of course, I’d like it to be more. I’d like a rebirth as a purer and truer version of myself.

 

Other than that, my rose is blossoming.

My rose is blossoming

Not practising what one preaches

Today is a hopeless one, so I decided to take a sick day in, read a book in bed and try a new comedy starring my current favourite actor. Writing on the blog also fits nicely into a day like this, so here I am.

While reading someone else’s blog, I noticed the blogger criticising one man, who was defending traditional family values publicly, but not being able to keep his own family together. This sort of criticism is often used to discredit what a person is saying. Even the most intelligent people employ it unthinkingly.

But if one thinks a bit.

Consider the people that practice harmful behaviours and preach it. Apologists of paedophilia and zoophilia, for example. Western society being heavily geared towards moral relativism, it is unsurprising that people dare to justify even such behaviours or that criminals may garner sympathy for having had a “difficult childhood”.

The main thing is, however, do we want to have apologists for behaviours that cannot be considered particularly ‘healthy’? Should people really be preaching what they practise? Or should the people whose families did fall apart, who can’t quite avoid cheating or be monogamous, who can’t quite quit drinking or eat healthy, should those people really begin to preach cheating as a justified necessity, drinking as beneficial to one’s creativity, and being fat from overeating as a new lifestyle choice? I think I’d much rather people didn’t preach their weaknesses, but joined the ranks of the “hypocrites” who preach what they fail to practise but believe in as a value. Who try to encourage others and society to be better than they are (even if this is not a concious aim, but more of an attempt to save face?).

I suppose this dislike for people who don’t live according to their ideals comes from the fact that some of them sound moralistic.  And no one likes a moralistic attitude – “You think you are better than us, eh? Look at your own relationship!” “My friend’s daughter’s grandmother saw you eating a burger in McDonald’s! Your healthy eating business is a fraud!” etc. Or maybe it’s simply the easiest way of discrediting someone’s opinion.

Personally, I cannot imagine turning my worst weaknesses into things I’d advocate. If I were an apologist, then an apologist of well-intentioned hypocrisy for the benefit of society, our values and healthier lifestyles. We really don’t need to have paedophilia normalized. The people that cannot help it should at least publicly denounce it, not try to paint it in a positive light. I can understand why they do it – they want a positive self-image, but well. If you are a terrible person, you should deal with the consequences.

Having said all that, I, like anyone else, much prefer a person who actually manages to live up to the ideals he or she preaches. Yet I don’t see why we should automatically discredit someone’s opinion if they fail to live up to what they publicly support. People are not ideal, people are often weak, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some standards and ideals to aspire to. Speech over and out.

Job market absurdism

I saw an ad for the job of a translator, translating technical and legal documents.

The requirements – and yes, requirements – included having a positive attitude to life.

I don’t think pessimists would make for any worse translators. The only place where they would not be great is the service sector.

So who do I complain to about this sort of personality-based discrimination? It has nothing to do with a person’s actual skills and ability to translate.

Why, what with all manner of discrimination types being discussed to death, has practically no one pointed out the extreme discrimination that goes on in the job market? Why is it okay to discriminate based on some qualities and not others?

Taking one’s time

I think my personality is incompatible with Northern work culture. And not just in terms of my own dislike of deadlines, speedy deliveries, high efficiency and other contributors to stressful environments, no, I also seem to hold others to my own “low” standards.

My bathroom renovation team did 14-hour days and were very set on getting things done properly and fast. I let them know several times that I have all the time in the world, there is no rush, and they are free to do it at any speed they like. They didn’t of course change their ways and did their 14-hour days regardless.

My dressmaker (I’m having a coat custom-made) apologised for not making it to our appointment because her child was ill. I wished the child to get well soon and was all relaxed. I do need that coat soon-ish, but I’m not the least upset by the delay. I’ve been going around with the old one – with a slightly torn pocket – for half the winter. A week here or there doesn’t change anything. The torn pocket is a bit embarrassing, but it gets dark early. And people can think me impoverished if they like. I can take that.

I was familiar with my own dislike of rigid schedules and deadlines, but it has been somewhat of a new realisation that I treat others as I want to be treated too. Here, my laissez-faire attitude can raise eyebrows and confuse people who are used to more regulated and defined schedules and demanding customers. I’m not lax on quality, absolutely the opposite, but everything else, yes. If the situation permits.

I’ve heard that this sort of disregard and avoidance of inflexible deadlines is characteristic of the artistic types in general. And people in the South. Of course, the downside is that one never gets anything done. That everything takes forever and it’s impossible to do business if people turn up at meetings an hour later and have only half the things done. If something really has to be done speedily, I do pull myself together and would get frustrated if others loitered, but if there is no real urgency, no one waiting, only the urgency we have created ourselves, why not take things slow? What’s the point of setting artificial deadlines if it really makes no difference? I do personally need some structure, or the not getting anything done can happen, but I like my structure to resemble a window frame rather than a cage. Borders, but not prison bars.

I’ve often wondered why some clients in translating order their translations by Friday evening. What are they going to do with it on Friday evening? They could just let us do it by Monday morning and might get better quality. But translating, the way it is usually done, is a messed up field. Speed and fake efficiency is generally preferred over quality. Foreign clients sometimes create translation memories and term bases to raise efficiency. They expect strict adherence to these things, but without understanding the language and context, a lot of time is wasted arguing with such clients that the word in the term base is absolutely inappropriate in a particular sentence. The main problem is that customers can’t generally tell the quality is rubbish, and so, translators can stay in business providing low-quality translations since 2007.

I imagine the same thing is happening in a lot of fields where speed and quantity of output is more important than quality. Lip service is paid to quality, but it is rare for a company or an individual to be able to provide quantity and speed without it impacting quality. It can be done, and because it can be done, it forces everyone on the market to attempt it, but I’m not optimistic about it working out long-term, if at all. For jobs requiring mental effort, high concentration is not even possible for 8 or more hours without breaks. I’ve done 14-hour days in translating. It’s exhausting. It can be done, but I wouldn’t sign a warranty for my work under such circumstances. Sadly, salaries are paid on quantity, not quality, so there isn’t a choice sometimes.

Hmm. To rant or not to rant? I’m itching to rant, but to illustrate it, I’d need to take a picture. And the uploading takes time, and light is bad. Well, maybe I’ll add the photo later.

I bought boots a few years ago. I couldn’t find a perfect pair, so these were a replacement pair until I would spot better ones. I did find a better pair soon enough, so those got left in the closet in good condition. Then one day I thought I’d wear them for a change. I put them on and spent an entire day out, meeting people and hanging around in public places. It had been dark when I put the boots on and I was completely unsuspecting. Outside, I discovered the fake leather on the boots had completely peeled off, and kept peeling off more and more as I was walking, it was terrible. Combine this with my torn coat pocket. I felt I must look like a homeless person and this time I was embarrassed too. These boots had been perfectly okay when I stored them in the closet, so they had self-destroyed while just sitting there….And they weren’t even that cheap.

I don’t really understand economy that well. Maybe there is some reason for which we need to produce so much crap instead of good quality items that would last. Beyond the reason that once we are on that particular train and stuck in that thinking of “more is better”, you can’t get off any more without major disruptions and a new philosophy altogether. Maybe there is a reason, a true reason. And this wish of mine for quality without paying a fortune is completely dated, so I should simply adjust myself to the idea that T-shirts can be washed 10 times and then they are past their wear-by-date. And boots too. In the future, I got to check shoes and boots for signs of self-destruction. I didn’t think planned obsolescence existed in footwear.

My utopian dream: an empathic society

If I was all-powerful and could re-arrange the core values of society, goodness and empathy would hold top positions. Not intelligence, wealth or beauty.

I’ve questioned the almost unquestionable merit of knowledge and intelligence before. I do not dispute that knowledge and intellect are valuable and responsible for a great many wonderful advancements, but they are amoral. Intelligence without empathy can be extremely harmful, which is why, in my ideal society, it would take a second place after kindness.

I’ve recently had a few courses were intelligence has been discussed along with intelligence testing. I can’t help but think how distasteful it is to arrange people based on their IQs. Maybe university professors love studying IQ because their own is medium to high. They are among the privileged group thanks to their genes and beneficial upbringing. It would be less so if their own was 95 (an impossibility, but let us suppose). There are charts ranking occupations and education levels and the average IQ.

Imagine being among the low IQ people. Their good fortune sometimes is that they don’t realise their own lack. Of course, it has been found that the less a person knows, the smarter they believe they are. But there are certainly many exceptions. People who are painfully aware of how they don’t get math or understand complex academic papers. Who suffer for it and feel they are good for nothing. Intelligence testing and ordering people based on IQ feels as unethical to me as ordering people based on looks – having an attractiveness quotient. Not because of the testing itself, but because of the value judgements that come with it.

Most people want to be considered intelligent because it has prestige and power. They generally want to receive an above-average IQ score. When they don’t, they tend to get a tiny bit disappointed. Alternatively, they start claiming how tests are faulty and don’t measure real intelligence. They do it to defend themselves from the label of being only average in intelligence, or below average. Readjusting tests is not an answer. It is too superficial and maintains the hierarchy. It just disadvantages someone else. I deeply, fundamentally dislike a society where people are ordered based on who is better than the other. Hierarchy is not so bad in itself, but if value judgements are added, it is. Ego massage for those at the top, self-esteem killer for those at the bottom. That seems to be human nature though. Labelling and competing.

So if we can’t live without competing with each other and wanting to be better, I wish that we could compete with each other in empathy. That being empathic and kind would be the highest values a person could aspire to and that having attained them, people would be rewarded with the same prestige and honours that the intelligent, beautiful and wealthy receive in our society. Furthermore, unlike IQ, empathy is a lot more flexible. For the average person, it is a lot more receptive to cultivation. If being emphatic was prestigious and people were motivated to cultivate that part of them, the world would surely become a kinder place.

In the present world, it often seems to me people are afraid of being kind. It feels “too much”. People who are caring and empathic are not respected enough. It has no obvious profit in it. Being middle-of-the-way is a lot more desirable, lest you be deemed a fool or an altruist.

Gloom

Today is one of those days where my strangeness is oppressive and slightly frightening. Normally I embrace it.

I’m intensely aware of how far my ideas have diverged from the mainstream and it frightens me what may await in the future yet. I can almost see myself turning into a solitary weirdo living in the woods somewhere, with cats and sheep. And having maybe one friend. Or it may just be a mental solitude. Inability to talk to anyone of anything beyond the daily stuff. I feel recently that I’ve become disagreeable and struggle more than before to find common ground with new people.

I’d like to become a therapist one day, but the university programme puts me off the idea. I happily study human anatomy or learn techniques of making people open up and improve, but there is not a lot of practical focus like that. I have also stopped seeing the point in all the course work. Exams should be enough to prove I understand, since proof of understanding is required. I’m not a circus monkey who has to demonstrate my skills in three tests, an essay and a presentation in addition. And that in 10 subjects per term. The entire Western education system of forcing students to perform so they get a nose bleed and caffeine overdose is not something I want to participate in. But that is only half of it. The biggest problem is incompatibility of values. My values are not academic or scientific. My values are artistic and spiritual. There is something in most lectures that I find grating. Yesterday it was seeing introversion listed among negative traits, along with aggressiveness.  Also, the only science I respect fully is the one free of ideology. And psychology is mostly not it.

If I ever talk militant or aggressive myself, it’s because I feel so out of place – the world is coming down on me like a ton of bricks.

I just don’t know what to do. Drag myself through the university circus or not? Facts are: a) I want to help people as a therapist b) I have talent for it c) university does not make my eyes shine and feels like a gigantic ordeal, so packed with unpleasantness that the end result is hardly worth it.

Where does time go?

My dream life is to wake up in the morning and decide what I want to do with the day. To read a book on English 19th century peasantry, practice watercolour painting or plant roses? To bake the fanciest cake ever or to write a novel? To build a gazebo or to go out with my favourite person? With not an obligation in the world, except those I’ve willingly taken upon me.

It is not a particularly novel life to long for. Many have wished it before me, wish it currently and will probably wish it in the future as well, unless something in society’s foundations should radically change.

Few will ever attain it before retirement. There is work. There is money that has to be made.  I’m not even speaking of career and renown, but simply money, without which you cannot afford to live ‘normally’. You cannot even afford roses to plant. And living on the street and from the bin is not a tempting option (for most). I don’t want that and yet I don’t want a normal job either.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the end of the week, I realise all I’ve done is work, sleep, eat, lurk about on the web and watch films, and perhaps a few hours of sport or walking. I’ve not advanced one inch closer to the things on my “Things to Do/Learn Before I Die” list. And this repeats every week. And it makes me feel frustrated and frightened. Time is running out. I must escape before it is too late. Before I’m middle-aged and half of life has passed me by without me doing any of the things I REALLY want to do. On the days I would have the time, I feel too emotionally knackered and stressed to take up painting or write novels. I just want to switch off and do something undemanding, like go roller-skating, walking or watch a film. When I’m especially knackered, I look at dumb/simple content on the web. Stronger people can manage more and I envy them. Sadly, not everyone is made the same way. I cannot become like the strong and capable people who can juggle multiple jobs with ease. It’d lead to a burnout for me, while it may energize others. I need a slow pace and I need autonomy. So while I cannot change myself, I can try to change the circumstances around me.