Hubris

‘This should be the cardinal rule of the Internet (and of being Human). If you don’t have the patience to read something, don’t have the hubris to comment on it’ – Maria Popova

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Is it just me, or is it getting warmer? – Icarus, famous last words.

MJ. I really love the quote attributed to Maria Popova. I wish I could say I have always lived by this rule. But I’d be lying. I’m about as impatient as they come… and often feel I know better. Ha ha.

I’m trying to get better at this. Or at least make the moral superiority I often inflict on people more subtle and formless. Which is (really) hard. Joey is much more blunt force trauma than a scalpel wetwork finesse.

In any event, know that if I liked your stuff I actually took the time to read it.

The crushing weight of existence

I loved this answer.

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I think people definitely ‘feel’ this weight differently. For some, existence, on the whole, doesn’t seem to bother them much at all. While for others it’s all they feel. I imagine, like with all things, it probably resembles a bell curve… and that most of us are somewhere near the middle, straddling both hemispheres, likely leaning either left or right depending on which way the wind is blowing.

 

Love your anemone

See what I did there.

*sigh*

I have no enemies. Or rather I have no enemies that I know about. Which is just as bad.

I mean I have the stock standard villains that come with your default life settings. But these are boring and trivial; people that cut me off in traffic or meander slowly through shopping malls with no agenda or sense of urgency. Even the vague political enemies that exist in the broad sphere I occupy don’t count. My life is lacking a quality nemesis on a personal level.

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I blame Matthew. Author of the synoptic Gospel to be precise, although I can think of several other Matthews who have displeased me during my lifetime. Matthew while cribbing from Mark added ‘But I tell you, love your enemies’ in chapter five, verse forty four.

I was always led to believe this was meant to underscore a sense of pacifism that’s loaded into the new testament. Turn the other cheek as opposed to the previous an eye for an eye policy.  Kill them with kindness, instead of shanking them with a sharp piece of metal or introducing them viscerally to blunt force trauma.

I tried a bible study group once. But I was deemed too adversarial and was quietly asked not to come back. Potentially Matthew knew something about the motivating power of a good adversary. Be grateful for your good fortune to have a decent enemy. Love them, for they make you stronger.

George Patton had Erwin Rommel. Ulysses S. Grant had Robert E. Lee. Mao had Chiang Kai-Skek. Batman had the Joker. The 47 Ronin had Kira Yoshinaka. Undoubtedly these enemies motivated them to become stronger and better. There is no better energizer than a good enemy. (I’ve been reading a lot of Robert Greene and Alan Watts lately)

But how does one even get a good enemy? I imagine the quality of an enemy ranges from poor through to excellent. Its a pity you can’t interview or test-drive potential candidates.

I think first you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses. That way you can set your sights on an enemy of slightly superior means and skill. You don’t want anyone beneath you, but nor do you want someone who can crush you like an eggshell. Slightly better than you motivates you to exceed and better them.

Friends are ideally suited to making good enemies. But converting a friend to a decent enemy is easier said than done. This person needs to want to be your enemy, which puts the onus squarely on you to create an environment where this is possible. That seems like A LOT of work for potentially no payoff. You can loose your friend and not gain an enemy.

Joining a tribe is always an option. Preferably one with pre-established enemies. The tribe can direct my feelings, their cause becomes my cause, their enemies can become my enemies. Although I’m not convinced that this is as good a motivator as someone who has wronged me on a deep and personal level. Still you get the social benefits and the  sense of belonging that comes with tribalism.

I am however, not a joiner. Which I think scuppers that possibility.

Then there is my own personal psychology. While initially exceptionally aggrieved by any slight… after a day or two I generally lose interest and wander off to go and make myself a sandwich. I think I will struggle to keep myself on a constant simmer for any length of time, what the Klingon’s conceptualize as, bortaS bIr jablu’DI’ reH QaQqu’ nay. Or loosely translated into the vernacular, ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’.

This begs the question what sort of event (and subsequent enemy) could motivate me for long enough that it would propel me to self improvement. All the things I can think of are pretty horrible experiences, none of which I would want to barter for.

To some people enemies seem to come easy. I’m not sure if that is a natural proclivity towards creating enmity or just low standards. Perhaps a potential candidate just needs to tick one or two requirements before being welcomed aboard. Then there’s always the spurious or imagined enemy which unfortunately smacks more of mental illness than a real solution.

Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for. For now I shall continue enemy-less. I don’t think these things can be contrived or manufactured. I think they need to develop naturally… which means, they may possibly never develop. Still, I remain hopeful that my nemesis is out there…

An open mind…

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it – Terry Pratchett

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MJ. That rare intersectionality where you can combine your favorite author with your favorite comic book.

I often decide that since it is in my mind, I must have put it there. Instead of challenging the concept that most of my most hardcore beliefs were actually placed there by someone else. I just entrenched and calcified those ideas. I’m am likely quite a porous individual, absorbing things willy-nilly like some sort of organic, meat-sack sponge.

That’s not to say I don’t have original thoughts. Well… I’m assuming some of them must be original… right? I’d love to see that version of me that evolved as a blank slate free from outside stimuli. What sort of person would that be, what would he have come up with…

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Would I be more Jack? Or more Ralph.

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Probably Ralph. Wiggum I mean.

Rain, rain go away…

This is one of the best graphic representation of Greek Philosophy I’ve seen.

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I would love to say I am Stoic 100% of the time (the ideal sense of self) come hell or high-water… unfortunately I think the truth is more an osculation between cynicism and… sadly, epicurean-ism. Depending on external stimuli (or lack thereof)… most notably how well I slept. Sometimes I will manage some modicum of stoic behavior. Usually by accident… wandering off piste and then getting stuck in a rosebush*…

*which has, sadly, happened to me.

Of course stoicism remains the consummate goal, the benchmark as it were. My natural skill-set however favors… well… almost anything else. Which is, as I perceived it at least, grossly unfair. When this particular rodeo ends I have a good mind to speak to the manager.

Siderophobia

For a six year old I find Calvin quite philosophic…

But I think dust speck is being quite generous…

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You know… in the grand scheme or schism of things.

Siderophobia (from the Latin sīdus meaning “star constellation”) is the fear of stars. Individuals avoid venturing outside at night, tending to stay indoors with all the curtains drawn. People suffering from siderophobia upon seeing stars may faint, feel nauseous, sweat, tremble and suffer panic attacks.

As phobias go, I think I am most empathetic towards Siderophobia. I mean looking up into the night sky and seeing tiny, pin pricks of light (some of which don’t even exist anymore) as a visual representation of an infinite expanse laid out before you… how can you not feel like everything you think you understand about existence and your (supposed) role in all of it makes any sense?

Of course there are those of us that look up at the night sky and feel wonder and amazement… and while clearly not phobic, should you not reasonably be considered just as unwell?

I likely fall somewhere in between these two extremes. While ruminating space makes me feel a little tingly and light headed… I still want to poke it with a stick.

Probably because I’m a boy.

 

Girls, girls, girls, girls are so polite
They don’t crush everything that they see
You can take ’em to a funky funky forest with big glass spiderwebs
Hangin’ from the ceilin’
They wouldn’t feel the uncontrollable urge
To tip and push and kick and rip and tear and smash and squish and…
Poke and destroy
-Presidents of the USA

 

The wisdom of Thomas Sowell

I really like Thomas Sowell. He is likely one of my most ‘screenshot’d’ personas. I find him incredibly adroit. It also makes Twitter think I’m a right wing conservative…. because you need to be clearly defined, labelled and classified as one thing or another. Its a notion I abhor since I really struggle to keep my big crayon colouring between the lines.  Instead I like to think of myself as straddling the political divide… with my testicles resting lightly on the cool linoleum that paves the aisle.  Proving not only that I can do the splits… but also that I probably should have worn pants.

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I don’t think I could ever improve on a Thomas Sowell quote. I am not that ego-maniacal… but I would like to (humbly) propose an addendum.

Isn’t it more of a windfall to have even been born at all?

I mean the odds are pretty much stacked against you. Galactically* I mean. That you should exist at all is pretty fucken amazing. You get to experience life. Well done. You’re a winner. (go get a sticker)

*you know, Pale Blue dot, that’s not too hot and not too cold in some nowhere, backwater part of some galaxy.

But hey if you want to waste your time comparing your state of a ‘aliveness’ with somebody else… go for it. I just don’t think its very useful.

Regrets…

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse working in palliative care, recorded what she perceived to be the top five regrets of the dying. They were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Brown, Darren. Happy – why more or less everything is absolutely fine. Penguin Randomhouse. 2016

MJ. First off, I’d like to nominate Bronnie Ware for the most Australian name eva!

But she probably knows what she’s talking about, being there at the foamy, gurgling end for a whole bunch of us. Which is quite a tough gig in my opinion, since most of us…

Don’t want to get on the cart! (To paraphrase Monty Python)

Not to brag but I tend to rack up this precise list of regrets by the end of each day. Not through deep and serious introspection, but rather because I’m quite whiny… and have a tendency to feel sorry for myself. So I’m hoping when my time comes (covered in bed sores and crusty stuff of indeterminate origin) I’ve worked through all my regrets and general demise angst and am happy to go towards the light/infinite darkness/restaurant at the end of the universe.

We can only hope.

(That there is a restaurant at the end of the universe I mean)