Thursday, February 28, 2008

desire vs. craving

Let's call desire that conscious type of want that is a condition of the will, that is a “wide-awake” yearning. Cravings, then, are those impulses of the mind run amok. Craving is mental flatulence and should be much more embarrassing than the bodily sort.

Monday, February 25, 2008

the voluntary puppet

Do I have free will? If I do it is squandered. After all, what good is free will if I am unable to impede the free flow of thoughts that tumble through my mind uncontrolled? What good is free will if I largely act out of dumb habit and play prescribed roles?

"[T]wo dysfunctional tendencies seem to be intrinsic to the mind. Hyperactivity is characterized by excitation, agitation, and distraction, while an attention deficit is characterized by laxity, dullness, and lethargy. When our minds are subject to these two imbalances, we have little control over what happens in our minds. We may believe in free will, but we can hardly be called 'free' if we can't direct our own attention. No philosopher or cognitive scientist needs to inform us that our behavior isn't always guided by free will—it becomes obvious as soon as we try to hold our attention on a chosen object."

(B. Allan Wallace from The Attention Revolution)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

rituals of habit

There are so many activities that would take on a strikingly different character if only they were undertaken with wide-awake awareness of the impetus, the motives driving them. If I could just awaken to those drives impelling my activity, my behavior, my decisions. Perhaps then I could truly choose. Perhaps then I would only put into my body those things that I truly desire versus those that I blindly crave. Perhaps then I would wash a dish after using it instead of laying it down amidst the rest of the accumulated mess. Perhaps then I would take strides to maintain a modicum of hygiene as opposed to addressing only the bodily needs that cannot be staved off any longer. If I could only maintain an open awareness of the why then the how and when (and even the if) would largely take care of itself. Since I cannot help, at this stage, but act out of dumb habit and helpless conditioning, then I must develop discipline instead.

Friday, February 15, 2008


And in the eighth month the sky split open. Silver drops like mercury fell upon the land, boring into the sod. And where each drop fell, the delicate curl of pewter stalks arose. As the sea pulled the sun under so that the moon could come out of hiding, spiderweb blossoms spread their petals wide. Within the center of each floral maw a shimmer languidly shifted, stealing light from the stars. And as heaviness befell the tiny pockets of luminescence, the microcosmic clouds came to rest upon their beds. And we would call these pearls of condensation ideas.

As the ideas ripened, the fruit laden stalks bent under their burdens until the precious cargo were loosed unto the world.

a tear in the veil

I have used this space as pulpit thus far. To talk about others (and nameless/faceless ones at that) at great length is to avoid oneself. I shall not pretend at some sort of disarmament: my barbs are animated by good intention. I see need and thus will maintain my pulpit. But do we not have as much need for empathy and compassion as we do for competition and challenges? As promised in the description of this space above, it shall be many things. Pulpit, confessional, and much more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the actuaries

The formula is easy: x + y = z, where x is a variable that represents sexual taste, y is a variable that represents the nature of ones interest in another, and z is the sum, or outcome of combining x and y. Now, should we ascribe a different EROTIC TASTE to each whole number, the set of possible values for x is 0 thru ∞. And if we ascribe one particular type of PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT to its own whole number and continue thusly for the entire range of possible human intimacies, the set of allowable values for y is also 0 thru ∞. As z represents the sum of the two variables, the possible range of outcomes should also be 0 thru ∞.

When it comes to intimacy and eros in general, however, we are actuaries all. We are statisticians who calculate insurance premiums versus risks, dividends, and annuities. As such we cannot allow just any value to be inserted for x. y is also no exception and must be severely constrained.

In order to constrain the variables in ways appropriate to our role as actuaries in love, intimacy, physical interaction, eros, and the like, we need a subset of equations that allow us to determine what the acceptable versus possible values are for each variable. Let the ACCEPTABLE VALUES of x be represented by the variable a. The method for calculating a is as follows: let a = x/x – 1/n, where n represents the number of times an opportunity to become intimate with a person of the same gender would have to arise before the individual being actuated is likely to act on it. As such n is any whole number in the set [1, ∞). This formula for determining a allows us to insert for x any of the infinite values that represent erotic taste but restricts the outcome to a number between 0 and 1 where 0 represents the norm or zero point, also known as heterosexual, and 1 represents the binary opposite, also known as homosexual. Since n can take on any whole number value [1, ∞), we leave open the possibility that the allowable value for x can fall somewhere between 0 and 1.

Finally, we need to be able to determine acceptable values for y. Let the ACCEPTABLE VALUES of y be represented by the variable b. The method for calculating b is as follows: let b = y0 ± 1. The appropriate operator is determined by whether or not the person of interest for the individual being actuated triggers a clear reflexive indicator that he or she is desirable as a sexual partner. If the person of interest triggers the sex reflex, the top operator (+) is used. If not then the bottom operator (-) is used. As with x, we can choose any of the infinite ways that two people can interact and plug in the appropriate value for y. The outcome, however, has now been restricted to only two possible values: zero or two, where zero represents the category generally referred to as platonic and two represents the category generally referred to as romantic.

As successful actuaries, we have thusly reduced an infinite range of interactions based on the myriad of roles that one person can play with regard to another and the ways that personal intimacy might enter into such a relationship to a minuscule range of possibilities. Furthermore, we need not wait for an actual interaction with another human being. As experts in the field of actuating, we predetermine the value for x without the need of complications such as context. Similarly, we use a predetermined set of criteria to determine the appropriate operator to use in calculating an allowable value for y. Again this enables us to ignore context and particulars and quickly deduce the value of z in any given situation.

law of the excluded middle

It is only a fearful lot, ones suspicious of their own shadows, who would polarize intimacy into extremes, discarding the bounty of potential that lies in the middle. Like an old black and white television with the contrast turned all the way up so that even gray is forced to pick sides, we have created a world where another person can be thought of only in terms of romantic or platonic and as dictated by their usefulness toward filling this or that need. The rainbow that dwells between these two extremes is lost in this dark age of man. For rainbows make themselves known by the refraction of light.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

on Castration

In order to ensure a genial sort of intimacy—a domesticated beast far removed from the calls of the wild, one that will not stray too far from the yard—we castrate our basic feelings for one another well before they approach adolescence. Paying no heed to the actual person before us, the magnificent being who is unlike any other that has ever existed or will ever exist, we remove our scalpels and deftly go about our ugly work. Because we are, at this point in history, a sickly and pathetic race, we fear the noble form that our feelings aspire to and prefer the broken to the feral.

on Intimacy III

Intimacy is merely a term to indicate a closeness between individuals. When closeness begins to develop between two people, it would naturally constitute a unique form of intimacy by virtue of the fact that the two people themselves are utterly unique. What’s more, the particulars of the situation and context within which they begin to get close are also necessarily unique. We would expect, then, that the intimacy that develops between two people would be distinct: a product of all of the unique factors that are in play. In reality, however, people evince not even an iota of such uniqueness in their relationships.