Drivel

So I was watching this mafia series and had a thought. In most films, everything aligns with the general vision: the music, the scenes, the costumes, types of actors used and so forth. When someone is waiting at the airport and hears their child has been shot, you get appropriate background for that sort of news to align with the emotion you want to convey. In real life, you might have I’m a Barbie Girl playing in the background. So what I wanted to say is, I’d like to do that kind of thing in writing. Set the scene and then add a touch of jarring realism AND then reign the thing in again, so it won’t turn absurd or grotesque or banal. Not just to disrupt, but to bring back home and pull off a serious scene with I’m a Barbie Girl playing in the background, metaphorically speaking.

I don’t know if the ability to do that is sufficient for good writing, but one has to learn to compensate for one’s weaknesses with one’s strengths.

 

Medicine

It is quite sad how conventional medicine and alternative/herbal medicine oppose each other more than they cooperate.

I could sometimes really do with the help of a qualified herbalist/alternative practitioner who a) has had as much medical training as any doctor, b) has an open mind and c) a willingness to keep informed of the most up-to-date research and to think of alternatives for patients not helped by conventional treatment choices d) who isn’t against conventional medicine.

Because what happens right now is that people like me go online and do their research on their own. But us without medical training aren’t really qualified to do that kind of thing. I certainly feel very unsure and incompetent. Alternative is to go to one of the self-taught people who are also unreliable.

But what can I do? There isn’t anywhere I could go with my questions. No specialists I could consult about dosage and possible side-effects. They’d think I’m one of the trouble-maker flat-earthers. No doctor I could take the results of a new study to and ask whether we might test it on me as well. In my dreams, that doctor would then do more thorough research and figure out the best treatment plan or tell me this is too risky to try. That kind of thing is what I’d really like.

I wish that if it became quite clear conventional treatment is not working OR if the patient prefers herbal treatment as a first option, they would be provided with alternatives. You don’t actually need to start the treatment of depression with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, for example. The doctor could ask the patient if they might prefer to try natural remedies first (like with many diseases you start with the milder stuff first if it is possible) and if these don’t work, gradually get more aggressive.¬† St. John’s Wort has been studied sufficiently as far as I know. 5-HTP seems more innocent as well and appears to have sufficient evidence about its effectiveness.Why not these over SSRIs?

Reality is that if you want to try either, you got to go to Doctor Google, unless you are very lucky and your doctor is open-minded.

And so, as the world polarises in every field, both sides lose and are stupider for it.

I wish one of the epic heroes of Charlton Heston’s would descend and fix the world.

Snobs

The title is to be pronounced in the voice of John Cleese as Basil Fawlty.

 

I spotted a bunch of intelligent folk bashing 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight and some other¬†books whose titles won’t say anything to most people. It was old stuff but it annoyed me enough to inspire. There are moments recently when I feel I have to watch that I don’t become contrary for the sake of it. That I don’t suggest a different take on something because I CAN, not because I believed in it. I do believe in what I’m about to write though, so it’s not an exercise in thinking outside the box.

So, what’s the deal?

Snobs irritate me. Reading how some fifty people were bashing the same book, most of whom had not read it, and were just carried along by the tide of collective hatred and contempt for it, I felt like going “Snobs, you arrogant wannabe middle-class wannabe intellectuals you snobs!” as Basil Fawlty would have done if he had intellectual interests beyond Brahms’s third racket. What was even more striking in these discussions and reviews was that the readers were – more frequently than the law of averages would permit – mentioning how they had just read Houellebecq and needed a break, or suggesting they will get back to their Houellebecq now, after the excruciating experience of having read *insert title of some bestseller of dubious quality*. LOL. There’s comedy in this.

I have a feeling that the success of that book might have partially been based on everyone considering it so bad you gotta read how bad it is to be able to say “This is very bad indeed”. It unites people, hating the same thing.

I have not read either E. L. James or Houellebecq, but both are well-known status symbols in a certain segment of society: absolute trash and contemporary masterpiece. So those intelligent people, who are sadly still lacking in the ability for independent thought and are frequently interchangeable with each other, as they read, watch and enjoy the same stuff, suppressing whatever their individual taste may drive them towards, well, that bunch decorates themselves with the name of Houellebecq and defines their taste by being against the trashy bestsellers.

Now, I’m a mighty insecure person too and I used to do that in my late teens and very early 20s. I read critically acclaimed authors because they were critically acclaimed and watched many a critically acclaimed movie for the same reasons, but that was mostly because I was a newcomer to the world of literature and film and did not know how to find my way yet. I defined my taste against modern literature and people like T.S. Eliot more than any bestseller authors, though. Why would I do that? They were simply not relevant. But that was a long time ago, and I digress.

What I’m trying to say is kicking downwards collectively is a bit wannabe intellectual and suggests lack of independent thought and backbone. I’d find it refreshing if one intelligent person admitted to liking something bad instead of parroting how horrible it is.

Point is, the world does not consist of intellectuals or people with excellent artistic intuitions, but enjoying different forms of art is pretty universal and human. I don’t think one should appeal to the lowest common denominator, but it is natural that, for example the third generation intellectuals and artists have their own art and culture with their own standards for quality, and the people who are different – I failed to find a good general term for them – so let’s just say different – they have their art, their favourite books and music, and their own standards for what is good.

This sort of kicking downwards is just annoying when it is done collectively. Individually I wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow if someone had bashed trash novels, that’s normal, but collectively, it just struck me as one of those moments when it begins to work against the accusers, making them appear quite silly and brainwashed and in need of someone interfering and holding up a mirror.

Kicking upwards is much more interesting, if sincere. I think that is why I enjoyed that John Clare story about the man who thought Shakespeare was the title of a play. He kicked upwards and he was sincere. Stupid, yes, but we can’t help our own stupidity, can we? That too the wannabe elite fails to realise. We can’t all be intelligent, beautiful, artistically gifted, assertive and socially extroverted because we aren’t born that way. And the things people enjoy, are able to enjoy, and how they enjoy, are just so very different as a result of who they are, and they can’t do much about it. So enjoy and let enjoy, I suppose. Read your Houellebecq and leave the rest to its target readers.

My arrogant opinion is that if you are truly intelligent and confident, and not masochistically curious, you don’t need to lift your status at the expense of lower league competitors. They are just not relevant. Champions League teams do not need to trash local fourth league players for how they play like shit.

In conclusion: SNOBS!

(said in the voice of Mr. Fawlty once more)

 

 

Idiocies

Would someone please, please tell Google not to give me endless pages of Chinese (and other) machine-translated websites when I search for things in my native language. A filter, please, for omitting machine-translations from the results.

#2019 #sucks #googlesucks #discrimination #money #pleasestop

I was pleased to discover

…that there is a term for my affliction:

Analysis paralysis is when the fear of potential error outweighs the realistic expectation or potential value of success, and this imbalance results in suppressed decision-making in an unconscious effort to preserve existing options.

Things photographed in 2018

The time of ice departing is always quite photogenic at the seaside.

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Spring was early and very warm. I spent it romancing this book.

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I also discovered a solitary daffodil at the seaside.

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….and had an all-around good time there. They hadn’t fenced the meadow in yet for the cows, in spite of it being early May, so there was ample space and practically no one else there. I got to run barefoot and all.

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Then came summer. It was very hot and uncomfortable.

I stayed in this old-fashioned room.

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Then came the best autumn my eyes have seen. It was the warmest. I went exploring the woods and discovered an egg up the tree. It’s not chicken. DSC03090

Then I made this composition with my forest finds.

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Some creature liked me.

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Some creature had died at sea and been washed to the shore.

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Then it finally stopped being very warm.

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When November came, I was very cheerful about it. So much warmth and sun made dreariness a novelty.

Also, my cat did some modelling for pet products.

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Favourite lines

Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reductio ad absurdum of practice. Not I. Like Emerson, I write over the door of my library the word “Whim.”

 

 

Zeitgeist is a very suspicious thing

The more I read stuff and observe stuff, the more I feel that zeitgeist is a lie, an over-simplification like gender. Something we cling to for its clarity as it makes the world appear logical and coherent, but which is really narrow-minded and limiting. Half the population sometimes does not live accordingly. I think that’s significant.

Procrastination

Recently, there have been these theories going around about procrastination being linked to perfectionism and self-esteem. Allegedly, people who procrastinate are the types that tend to set too high standards for themselves so they are not even motivated to begin because the likelihood of falling short of perfect is high. And it’s generally demotivating to contemplate doing things under such pressure to perform perfectly. It is also linked to one’s sense of self-worth. Procrastinators, like defensive pessimists, use procrastination as a coping strategy to deal with failure. The defensive pessimist will imagine everything that can go wrong. When it doesn’t, they feel a sense of accomplishment. When it does, well, they expected this anyway. For procrastinators, the focus is slightly different, it’s on maintaining a positive sense of self-esteem. So, when putting off studying for an exam until the last minute, and then failing, the procrastinator failed not because of their lack of ability, but because they did not prepare properly. The latter is a lot easier to accept, no ego bruise will follow. You got the ability, you were just lazy. If, however, the exam turns out a success, more reason to be proud of oneself for making it even under such circumstances. Such ideas are summarized here, for example: Warning: extremely clickbait title.

So yes, these ideas seem to dominate the popular science psychology articles. I don’t know if they are equally dominant in the less popularly accessible segment of psychology. I hope they are not, because reading these explanations for procrastination was very eye-brow-raising for me.

First: don’t these people with such hypotheses consider putting off doing the dishes as a form of procrastination? If they do – and I would – then how can one possibly fit perfectionism and self-esteem into it? Perhaps an obsessive-compulsive person with a cleanliness fetish might be daunted by the thought of not getting the dishes absolutely spotless, but surely this is not the case for the average procrastinator. Maybe I miss something. These articles always talk of deadlines, essays, work-related procrastination etc., but what of cleaning the bathroom, weeding the flower beds, mowing the grass and other such activities. I would be very interested to know how does one fit “putting off going to the supermarket for milk” style of procrastination into the self-esteem and perfectionism explanation.

I do think I am missing some vital piece of information when reading such articles, because researchers cannot be so blind to ignore these forms of procrastination also happening.

Yes, I think perfectionism can be demotivating and make it hard to begin on something. But I don’t think it’s the universal key to unlock the mysteries of procrastination.

Some alternative hypotheses:

  1. Evolutionary psychology may not be my favourite branch as it is often too reductionist and dismissive of potential for change, but sometimes it can work for explaining things better than many other theories. It’s certainly very intuitive. So I’d intuitively hypothesise that evolutionally, human beings have not been accustomed to much consistent, regulated effort and the time management required of us now is very new to our brains. Rather, in humanity’s long infant stage, we did things in short intensive bursts, followed by periods of rest/doing nothing much. Most procrastinators are similar, are they not? They can get it done, they can work hard when required, but most of the time they spend in some sort of energy conservation mode. Such as: you go hunt that mammoth, then you eat it and stay put and don’t do a great deal. Maybe you pick your teeth with the bones. Even the division of the day into work and leisure time is a relatively new invention in the context of how long the human race has been around. So the short energy burst theory is one hypothesis.
  2. Second: similar difference as between extroverts and introverts when it comes to social energy. Procrastinators have less motivational energy, they prefer to conserve the little they do have and do things that are easy and undemanding most of the time and only to activate their motivational energy when it is unavoidable. I wonder if there is a concept of motivational energy in existence? I hope there is. That could also explain why people are super motivated on the first few days and lose it along the way. It just runs out. Most of us are not blessed with a lot of it so consistency in attaining one’s goals is hard for us.
  3. The negative impact of the must. Most people don’t like doing things they have to do. If phrased like that, this is demotivating. It seems almost hard-wired into a lot of people that whatever is a must is an unpleasant duty, even if it wouldn’t be in essence (like going for a run or gym). I’m definitely like this, perhaps to the extreme: make something a thing I MUST do instead of CAN do and I feel its oppressive weight descend on me and kill off all motivation.
  4. Points 2 and 3 stem from this evolutionary tendency and help to explain variation. Not everyone is a procrastinator, so the evolutionary theory cannot explain why some are classified as procrastinators and others not. Unless. One adds the component of other personality traits that can either neutralize (very high discipline and motivational energy, very high ability to accept authority) the general human tendency to do things in short intense efforts or cancel it out from manifesting.

It’s all rather vague and hardly more than a mind game, but it makes more intuitive sense to me than the perfectionism and self-esteem theories that strangely ignore aspects of procrastination where it is hard to imagine those forces being at play. I hope someone comes up with a more plausible theory.

Also, perhaps this perfectionism theory at least is yet another ‘saving of face’ strategy of the procrastinators themselves – being a perfectionist makes for a good, comfortable excuse. One can be proud of being a perfectionist. But admitting you procrastinate because you lack discipline and motivational energy is not so nice. I certainly procrastinate for those reasons.