Gallery Dos

Everyone seemed to like the last Gallery of pictures I posted, so I thought I’d start the week with another.  These are a little earlier in time and they are from the Midwest, like the sunset pic above.  I think I’ve improved a little bit with more practice, but it’s still hard to beat Mother Nature, even if the photographer is an amateur  🙂

I started hiking a lot more when I retired.  And then I started noticing wildflowers more.  So I started taking pictures.  Let me know if you have a favorite 🙂

Have a beauty filled day !

***

Average?

Have you ever considered yourself to be “Average?”  I mean, I like to think that we are all uniquely, unique.  And yes, I know you’re not supposed to use words like that.  Superfluous repetition, but I like it 😊

I guess we need a little context.  Average in terms of what?  Intelligence, appearance, earnings, sexuality?  So, the context I’m coming from today is the “American Averages Quiz” that was on the How Stuff Works website.  I took the quiz, not because I wanted to see if I could get any answers right, but because I wanted to see what they tallied up to be an average American.  They won’t show you the answers unless you take their quiz.

Apparently, being average here means you’ll have 2 cars in your household, that household will most likely be in the state where you were born, and your average annual income will be $34,940.  We are talking averages here, so the average income for a 15 to 24 year-old was $16,000, while the average income for a 35 to 39 year old was $55,000.  Just adding some more context.

You’ll distrust Congress, but you’ll lack a basic understanding of how your government works.  You will know virtually nothing about how the stock market works, you’ll spend $69 per day ($25,185/year), and you’ll be $75,600 in debt.  You’ll have a vocabulary of approximately 15,000 words and you’ll believe in global warming, the death penalty, evolution over creationism, and that the government should invest more in education.

You will not be secure with being able to maintain your standard of living.  Humm, side note on correlations to standard of living (SOL) and shit out of luck (SOL) and statute of limitations (SOL).  SOL seems to imply something negative.

If you are a woman in America, you’ll be, on average, 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 166.2 pounds.  If you’re a male, it’s 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall and weigh 195.5 pounds.  Interestingly enough, for both men and women the average body mass index, based upon these heights and weights, is exactly 28.5 for both men and women.  This puts the average American in the overweight range, but a little shy of obese.

So, are you average in this context?  First off, I’d like to know where all of these 5 foot 4 women are.  I’m only 5 foot 5 and it seems women don’t like to date men unless they’re 6 foot 2.  I only weight about 128.  BMI = 21.3, normal.  So, I’m apparently below average in height and weight, which I’m happy with.

I think my vocabulary is over 15K words and I do understand how our government works and capitalism pretty well.  And I’ve traveled and lived in more than one place.  I guess I’m above average there.

I’m retired and have no debt, so above average there.  I was average in my income during my 30s, but I had about 3 years of exceptional income later – before I was kicked to the curb.  Such is life.

I’ve only got one car but, hey, I can only drive one at a time anyway.  Below average.

Global warming and evolution, check.  Education, check.  Death penalty, not so much.  I don’t understand the state demonstrating that killing someone is bad by killing someone.  Plus, it costs the government more in terms of legal appeals.  Kind of like the war on drugs – not all that smart or effective.  Just put those guys in solitary, forever.

Average my “aboves” and “belows” up and I guess I’m kind of average.

Uniquely average 😊

***

Photo:  I think that’s a pretty above average looking grasshopper.  Smartly dressed.  I passed it walking down the street one morning.  Grasshoppers symbolize making extraordinary leaps forward – above average.  They never leap backwards.  In China, they are symbols of good cheer, good luck, and abundance.  So be a grasshopper, be exceptional.  Uniquely exceptional 🙂

Have You Ever Known Someone?

To be able to complete someone’s thoughts,

dance together in their mind,

caress their heart,

and see their soul through their eyes.

This is truly knowing someone.

Have you ever known someone?

 

Painted Ladies

***

Feature Photo: I found this photo on the Internet in the public domain. I could find no proper attribution for it.

Butterfly Photo: A couple of Painted Lady butterflies nectaring-up in the Midwest.  I added the butterfly image for a couple of reasons.  One is that is shows a “couple” like the feature image and duality is the theme.  But intertwined duality – two becoming one.

With duality, we’ve moved beyond a singularity.  It is the quality of having two parts to the whole.  Metaphysically speaking, it is the contrasts – negative versus positive; good versus evil; light versus dark; material versus spiritual; consciousness versus unconsciousness; Ying versus Yang; male versus female.

Numerologically speaking, the number 2 represents feminine, dreams and cooperation.

The butterflies, symbolically, represent transition, shapeshifting, and the dance of joy.

When two hearts come together as one the polarities merge.  A beautiful transition occurs as each half brings out the beauty in the whole.  Making that true connection is a rare thing and it results in a dance of joy.  Bonds that cannot be broken.  Not over space, time, or even lifetimes.

Dragon Fly

Ok, I usually don’t just post a single pic, but I really liked this one of the DragonFly I took today.  Close up, its wings remind me of a stained glass window 🙂

Parker Canyon Lake - 4 - DragonFly +MC + C2

The DragonFly is said to represent the Power of Light.  As a totem, it helps one see through illusion and let their own light shine.

***

Photo: I went on a fishing trip today and this guy landed next to me like it wanted to pose for this picture.

I-Crap, Therefore I’m Rich

Back when I was a kid, which was not that many eons ago, one of our neighbors was proudly showing off her new Cadillac.  I guess this was my first introduction to what may be termed as a “status symbol.”  Owning a luxury item was a sign of wealth.  That the owner had more money than they needed for everyday living and could afford to buy something that was not only totally unnecessary but was additionally wasteful in that it would guzzle gas by the boat full.  We actually referred to these monster cars as being boats because of their size.

So, flash forward to today.  A time period where market information is collected on all of us in real time, in an ever-increasing age of consumerism, if that’s possible, and in a time where there effectively is no longer a concept of privacy.  Even as I type this, adds are flashing on Facebook and Gmail reflecting key words that I used in my electronic correspondence.

Humm, I think I’ll just start swearing a lot and see what adds are generated as the corporate state ownership endlessly hacks my thoughts.

I just came across a study where the researchers were identifying predictors of how rich a person is by products that they own, or the ones they didn’t buy.  For example, in 2016, if you owned an I-Phone this was a 69% predictor that you were in the “high income” bracket, defined as being in the top quartile of income for households of that type.  Type of households were divided up by such things as being a single adult or a couple with dependents.

Fascinating.  And the researchers had apparently been doing this type of data collection for a while and had statistics going back to 1992.  A few highlights from the three years they compared:

In 1992, the indicators that you were rich included:

Owning a garbage disposer – 64% indicator.  The same percentage applied to international travel.
Using Cascade Lemon Dish Detergent was a 59% indicator.
Owning a garage door opener – 65.8 %.
Buying Kodak film – 61.6%.

In 2004, they included:

NOT buying a Bic lighter – 59% indicator.
Buying a new vehicle – 73.6%.
Ordering any item off of the Internet – 68.4%.
Drinking diet Coke – 57.5%.

In 2016, they included:

Owning an I-Pad – 66.9% indicator.
Subscribing to Verizon Wireless – 61%.
Owning a Samsung TV – 58%.
Using Ziploc plastic bags – 57.7%.

The economists in this study “used a machine learning algorithm to conclude that ‘cultural differences,’ or how common brands and experiences are across groups, aren’t getting larger over time.”  Their conclusion is that the US is not becoming an increasingly economically divided society.  These researchers must not live in America and their product choices and inferences appear, to me, to be a long drive away from reality.

I mean, geez, by most of these “standards” I’m a very rich man.  Not.  And I’m really not sure you can call some of these products top-of-the-line luxury items either.

I suppose I-Phones (69.1%) and I-Pads (66.9%) are status symbols now.  I affectionately called the I-Pad I was loaned at work the I-Crap.  Big piece of SHIT (100%) that had no word processing capability or ability to share documents in a meaningful fashion.  Crashed continuously.  Tragic results from the Great War between Apple and Microsoft.  The I-Crap was a great toy for surfing the web and doing email, lousy business tool.  Of course, that may have changed by now as industrial competitors collide and figure out ways to profit.

I guess I must be getting poorer because I switched from Verizon (61%) to AT&T (58.1%).  But I do use Ziploc bags (57.5%).  That has to count for something, I think ???

By the way, I copied the article I read and pasted it into a word document and that revealed that the text and graph of the article filled 2 pages.  There were 24 pages of accompanying advertising.  Commercial focus, I guess, but I didn’t see any of those wealth indicators in the adds.  They must be catering to us poor folks 😊

***

Photo: A Bic lighter, obviously.  I purchased this just to prove that I am poor.  In fact, I got a 5-pack – really cheap 😊

More Stuff: If you would like to look at a much broader picture of economics in the US, check out my post “Balance.”  I keep updating it.

Source article: “Researchers find that owning an iPhone or iPad is the number-one way to guess if you’re rich or not.”

Statistics from The National Bureau of Economic Research: “Coming Apart? Cultural Distances in the United States over Time.”

Note: All links are subject to link rot.

Bic Lighter crop

Writing to Survive

A while back I wrote a piece about how movement, physical movement, was necessary for our creative minds.  In fact, this was a trait we learned and passed on by the forces of evolution.  To eat, we moved.  As we moved, we learned to think.  We had to be creative problem solvers on the move, and we survived.

That article was called, “Move Your Body, Move Your Mind.”  And there, I explored the first “rule” in the book, “Brain Rules,” by John Medina.  This guy, Medina, is a smart guy. He is a developmental molecular biologist.

This technique works for me, by-the-way.  I get some of my best story ideas when I’m out hiking on the trail and I allow my mind to drift.  Evolutionary vestiges repurposed.  I hunt for words as my food is all neatly packaged at the grocery store now.

Well, the second “brain rule” is our ability to engage in IMAGINATION!  More specifically, our ability to substitute objects in our minds so that one object can represent another, or maybe a whole bunch of different objects.  This has been called “Dual Representation Theory.”  More basically, SYMBOLISM.

It seems our fossil history shows that our ancestors evolved a lot physically since humankind’s estimated beginnings somewhere around 7 to 10 million years ago, but there wasn’t a lot of mental evolution going on until about 40,000 years ago.  And then.  Bam!  We went from stone axes to painting, sculpture, fine art and jewelry.  Soon, there would be mathematics and science.  And, of course, more advanced communication.  What caused this big change?

Apparently, it was the weather.

The changes weren’t fast, but they forced adaptation.  Brought us out of the trees and into the savannah when food sources shifted.  To become more streamlined and save energy we became bipedal.

In order to master survival in all of the biomes on the planet, our brains enlarged.  This brings in another concept – Variability Selection Theory.  Two powerful aspects of the brain developed.  A database and the ability to improvise using that growing database.

And since survival not only meant staying warm and eating, it meant not being eaten too, community concepts evolved.  There was safety and better hunting in numbers.  And this meant learning to negotiate.

This raises the “Theory of Mind” or the ability to make inferences.  To peer inside another person’s mental life and make predictions, to understand their motivations.  All necessary skills to develop allies, cooperative behavior, and group species survival.

This ability to draw upon our databases and make inferences reminds me of the “predictive processing framework,” described in my piece,“My Intuition Tells Me . . ..”

With basic survival skills being mastered, humans could focus on more advanced pursuits.  Those beyond only the four F’s – fighting, feeding, fleeing and fucking.  And thus, in addition to art, music, mathematics, and science, us modern-day bloggers have electronic storytelling.

I think most of us still like the fucking, we just have more time for more things beyond the big four now. 😊

Storytelling is an ancient art, and we wordsmiths spend a lot of time in the world of symbolic thinking.  We don’t use this creative process for basic survival like our ancestors did.  Or do we ???  Maybe writing and creating worlds is survival for some of us.  And I suppose some us actually do feed ourselves by writing, a lean diet that is . . .

But basically, every word we use is a symbol, either a subject or an action or a feeling.  Every word has to represent something tangible in the physical world or summon an image or feeling into the mind.

In fact, symbols can convey meanings or reveal details of reality beyond just a physical image.  Symbols can carry strong emotions.  They can summon memories of sounds and smells and touches.  Of happiness and laughter.

And as writers, we employ that Theory of Mind in multiple ways.  We try to look into our reader’s heads, make predictions, understand what drives them.  Figure out how to lead them through the story.

There are times when we want our words to evoke a particular image and have that image be universal for all readers.  But there are other times when we deliberately want those words to convey multiple meanings, to give the reader a choice.  Or to show contradictions between choices.  Maybe they’ll choose a meaning that even we never saw as a possibility.

If we are writing fiction, we have to develop the mental lives of the characters we create.  We add predictability and motivations for their actions, even providing historic context.  Their fictional life traumas that have helped develop their passions, their fears, their hatreds, their loves, their essence.  So the reader understands the next move on the chess board.

So, this survival skill of making inferences has evolved into us examining the minds of non-existent entities and developing believable characters based upon what we anticipate would be their universal actions.  Wouldn’t we do the same thing in the same situation?  And we do this for entertainment, not for negotiating the next mammoth hunt.

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, the art of writing is stacking symbols in some sequence to complete a portrait.  And we want to draw the reader in so they feel like they are a part of the story.  A bystander.  A witness.  Or maybe even an active participant.

Symbols may relate to objects, but they don’t equate to objects.  They reveal essence.  Symbols are inclusive and expansive and evolve over time acquiring even more meaning from multiple sources.

Meanings may differ depending on peoples’ cultures.  The Owl, for example, to the Pawnee symbolized protection, while to the Ojibwa it symbolized evil and death.  To the ancient Greeks, the Owl represented wisdom.

Great Horned Owl - 6 - 25th Nov + Crop
According to Joseph Campbell: “Symbols are only the vehicles of communication; they must not be mistaken for the final term, the tenor, of their reference.”  This implies that no two people would experience the object of the symbol in the same way.  Maybe so, especially with cultural variations, but it seems the essence of the experience can be shared more universally with a symbol than with bare words.

With context, it seems to me that symbols are the supersonic highway of communication.  The brain is able to process a symbol as an all-encompassing experience in a nanosecond.  Faster than the blink of an eye, a complex story unfolds in images and associated feelings.

Symbolic thinking is said to be a uniquely human skill, and it allows us the ability to understand each other and coordinate within groups.  And with that, I’ll leave you with a few symbols to make of them what you will. 😊

What do these images inspire in your minds?

***

Note:  If you want to read more, there are some quotes on symbolism below.

Photos:  An angel inside an old Spanish mission.  The great Horned Owl.  A sculpture in an art gallery court yard.  Street sculptures in an eclectic small town.  A vulture crosses it’s folded wings to make a heart.

DeGrazia - Courtyard Statue     Bisbee - 25     Bisbee - 1BCrop
Bisbee - 27 + Crop     Turkey Vulture - Folded Wings 2+Crop Heart

A sort of Rorschach test 🙂

Quotes: 

“Symbolism is no mere idle fancy or corrupt egerneration: it is inherent in the very texture of human life.”
― Alfred Whitehead

“Things do not have meaning. We assign meaning to everything.”
― Anthony Robbins

“Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

“If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn’t.”
― Roger Ebert

“In many college English courses the words “myth” and “symbol” are given a tremendous charge of significance.  You just ain’t no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page.  And in many creative writing course the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them.  What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize?  What is the Underlying Mythos?  Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils.  And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that’s how Melville did it.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction

“A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods in men [and women] by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”
― Clifford Geertz

“The same principles that make a spiral galaxy also create the structure of a seashell and unfurling of a fern.  This is why ancient spiritual people used natural symbols to convey universal concepts.”
― Belsebuub, Return to Source: How Enlightenment is the Process of Creation in the Universe in Reverse

“[A] symbol, like everything else, shows a double aspect.  We must distinguish, therefore between the ‘sense’ and the ‘meaning’ of the symbol.  It seems to me perfectly clear that all the great and little symbolical systems of the past functioned simultaneously on three levels: the corporeal of waking consciousness, the spiritual of dream, and the ineffable of the absolutely unknowable.  The term ‘meaning’ can refer only to the first two but these, today, are in the charge of science – which is the province as we have said, not of symbols but of signs.  The ineffable, the absolutely unknowable, can be only sensed.  It is the province of art which is not ‘expression’ merely, or even primarily, but a quest for, and formulation of, experience evoking, energy-waking images: yielding what Sir Herbert Read has aptly termed a ‘sensuous apprehension of being’.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Symbol Without Meaning

Waters of Compassion

The sound of cold, clear water echoes in my mind.

A memory long forgotten now covered in dust.

A canyon wall,

stair steps of umber shale,

fluorescent green lichens climbing,

trying to reach the golden sun.

Sapphire blue torrents crest the lip of a rock arch,

bridging the earth to the sky.

Shimmering water, piercing air,

dancing in slow motion over the falls.

Drops hover, nuzzle the cliff – briefly.

Free-fall,

collapsing into ripples,

atop a deep, cool pool.

A single lotus flower rises from the sand beneath.

White petals opening,

trimmed in violet.

Painted with compassion from another realm.

Pure.

 

***

Lotus Flower - Nelumbo Nucifera - B2

Photos: From a trip to Hawaii 🙂

Hieroglyphics with Soul

This storytelling challenge comes from Becky All-Inclusive with the axiom that no one succeeds alone.  That we all have mentors, people who have spurred us on to greater things than we would have accomplished on our own.

You should check out Becky’s blog.  How could you go wrong with a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Relationship Counsellor & Sex Therapist?  I mean that’s the whole package right there 🙂

The Challenge: Identify that person who is/was the major influencer of your passion.

Rules:

• Share with the world your #OnePerson story.
• Pingback to the post (or add the link in the comments).
• Add the pictures, if you like.
• Humor and quotes are welcome.
• You can even come up with your own title for the post.
• And use your own featured image for the post.
• Spread the word: up to 3 – 5 bloggers.

Humm . . . Identify my passion and then identify my influencer.  Seems simple, but now that I’ve logically laid out the mental process here, I have to say I’m confused.  You see, passions have certainly shifted over the years, or at least some passions have.  So which passion and which influencer??

Some may think that career paths match a person’s passion, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true.  When I was practicing as a critical care nurse, I’d say my patients were my passion.  Healing was a passion.  That’s one time the career and passions aligned.

But my passions for hiking, being a naturalist, having that desire to continually learn and grow, certainly didn’t necessarily align with my careers.  At least not very much.  Especially the free-thinking part. 😊  I worked many a job where the boss just wanted you to shut up, never ask the question why, never try to improve things.

There was a time, before writing, that animals were my biggest passion.  I loved having them around and had even decided I’d become a veterinarian and turn my passion into an occupation.  But a big detour came along and my career path shifted, and those passions didn’t manifest into a way of life.  I still love animals, of course.

Writing, or more descript “storytelling,” has definitely been one of my passions; a consistent theme in this lifetime.  Something that does really burn in my soul.  And before I retired, I was writing in the background of whatever my job was.  At least that’s when I would engage in the fun kind of composing, not some formula-drafted work product like the attorney’s life.  Now that I’m relieved of the work routine, I can write anytime and about whatever I want.  No limits.

But did anyone ever inspire me to write?

And the answer to that question varies depending on the time.  My father inspired me with the general ways to approach life.  He led by example and reflected the qualities honesty, integrity, strength of character and strong work ethic.  All to be applied to whatever my passions were.  He was a mentor in life.  I guess he was my first influencer.

I’ve been inspired by various authors, old and new.  Thoreau, Emerson, Ellison, Herbert, Salinger, Hesse, Vonnegut, Moore, Brown.  That list can stretch on for miles.  And I can remember a couple of writers in the negative.  “If that guy could write a book as awful as this is, and get it published, so can I.”  But a good book I’ll write, not an awful one 😊

After a while, names fade.  I’ve forgotten text.  I remember a feeling.  The feeling I had reading powerful words.

“A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing, it can change your life.”  Tobias Wolff

And I have to agree with Wolff.  Words can inspire.  Words can bring you to your knees.  Words can send you over the mountain top.  Words can carry you to far away lands, or even to worlds that don’t exist, except on paper and in minds.  Words are addicting.

Writing is magic.

quotes-writing-mary-gaitskill-600x411

Hieroglyphics with soul.

“Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.”  Ernest Hemingway

Now that describes a true passion. One where only death can intervene.

I’m inspired to write poetry when I am in love.  I’ve been inspired to write by societal injustices.  I’ve had some of my work slashed to pieces by editors, but even that inspired me.  To better learn the craft.

I’m inspired when I read all of your blogs.  To see how others describe the world around us.  It doesn’t really matter who or even what, if it’s good writing I like it.  It helps me breathe.

Another great inspiration for me, of course, has been my daughter.  It’s been amazing watching her grow into the strong and compassionate woman she is.

Just one person?  One influencer?  I don’t think so.  It is a conglomerate of all these persons rolled into one.  A powerhouse of inspiration.  And maybe the desire to escape reality once and a while too 🙂

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”  Ray Bradbury

And here’s a few other bloggers that may want to give this a try:

Novus Lectio
Midwest Bliss
Painting the Journey
Letters from a Wanderer
Searching for Grady

***

Photo: Horseback riding at dusk.  Sometimes it’s all a blur 🙂

Mary Gaitskill Meme:  I found this on the Internet in the public domain.  It was linked to QuotesGram.com.

Contagious Evil

The Moon shines no light of its own.  It merely reflects the light from another source, our sun.  It makes no conscious choice on what it reveals to us . . .

***

For the moment I sit and seem to be without words.  So, I’m trying an exercise where I just write something, anything, just to see what shakes loose.  It’s strange, that the internal dialog in our minds never wants to shut up, but my writer’s voice goes away every once in a while.

At the same time I’m having trouble writing in this blogging format, I’ve been restraining myself from lashing back on other social media platforms.  Reining in those words. Humm, injustice inspires me to want to speak up against it.  But that doesn’t always bring out the best in my writing.  Better to stay calm and deliberate and write positively.

But deliberating about which words to use, or writing about how to write, is not the same as telling a story.  Or delivering a message.  Deliberating can turn into avoidance.  I watched many a doctor do this back when I worked in the hospital.  I called it WWDD – Watch, Wait, Debate, Do Nothing.  Ultimately, the patient dies.

Excuses right.  Always have a rationalization.  Don’t want to get too close to that edge.  The sun got in my eyes.  I tripped over a rock.  I was adjusting my medications.  Humm, most probably the later . . .

But I do have to say, the tone of the conversations permeating cyberspace in recent weeks, at least in my neck of the words, has been a bit disheartening.  It sort of left me speechless and maybe even a touch morose.  I never thought I see a time when so much anger and hatred would spread.

A sort of virus had taken over, and evil one.  It seems like people have stopped really communicating and are just sort of screaming at one another.  Whomever yells the loudest wins.  Wins what?  I’m not sure.

And one of my goals in blogging this time around has been to try to find ways to bring people into the conversation.  To keep the discussion going.  To have people actually consider other viewpoints.  But one wrong word choice can shut the whole thing down or explode it.

So how does one write positively when addressing evil?

I was reminded about some workplace research I had recently read about.  Contagious Evil.  Of course, the authors didn’t call it that.  They used terms like “corruption,” “spill-over effect,” “misconduct,” and “bad apple.”

The Harvard Business Review’s study determined that Contagious Evil (we’re going with my terminology) has a social multiplier of 1.59, meaning each time an incident of misconduct occurs, another event of misconduct will be triggered 59% of the time by peer effects.  The study focused on financial advisors, who it turns out are 37% more likely to commit misconduct if they collide with a co-worker with a history of misconduct.  And the effect can be stronger if the two doing the colliding are in the same ethnic group.

Interesting, if a colleague in your workplace lies, cheats or steals, and you are aware of this, you have a greater than 50% chance of joining in the violation or embarking upon your own dance of misconduct.  It’s as though the original evil one handed you a get-away-with-evil-free card.  A license to do bad, because, well, someone else got away with it.  Your chance to settle some imaginary score?  Get back at all those little injustices being perpetuated against you?  Perhaps.

This “spill-over” phenomenon has been witnessed in other contexts, like how one mass shooting or a suicide seems to trigger others.  A whole bunch of theories have been propounded to try to explain this contagious communal thinking.

Like the moon, an individual may not engage in any conscious determination of their actions, but merely reflect the thoughts, actions and beliefs of others.

One theory is simply called the “Contagion Theory,” where collective behavior is like a crowd induced hypnosis – irrational and emotional.  Another is “Convergence Theory.”  The crowd behavior reflects the beliefs of the individuals before they joined the crowd, so what pulled that crowd of like-thinking automatons together?  Maybe it was the media platform.

On the other spectrum, we have “Emergent Norm Theory.”  People, who are uncertain in how to act collectively, actually discuss how their behavior should be governed and allow order and rationality to guide them.  I haven’t seen much of that lately.

There is also the “Werther Effect,” so labeled from Goethe’s novel, “The Sorrows of Young Werther.”  Unrequited love ends with suicide and this was the inspiration for copycats.  The license theory – if it’s ok for someone else, they have granted me their approval and it’s ok for me too.

I don’t know if any of these equations can be applied to evil writing.  Collective thought and behavior put into words where the crowd only gathers figuratively.  Words of evil that for some reason seem to latch on to some imaginations.  Captivate and propagate more collagenous bile.  Will one person’s hateful rhetoric escalate, license and embolden?  Rising in a crescendo of a million voices, either echoing or repelling?  And can all of this hostility spill into the streets?  That seems to be what I’m seeing right now.

But then I think, just what is evil?  Evil is defined as profound immorality and wickedness and it takes on Biblical proportions when it has the qualities of a supernatural force.  But then we have the terms “immorality” and “wickedness” and who gets to define those terms?  We may all have different definitions, especially on morality.

We tend to look at things in the world with an eye of relativism not absolutism.  My crime was so minor when compared to murder, so I’m not a criminal.  Right?

And then there is the “Tonal” of times.  Morality changes over time.  Whatever the majority of the bee hive is thinking at this particular moment or era of time.  And that “Hive Think” can take over, be contagious.  Whether it is right or wrong.

We seem to be living in a time of rising intolerance, division, and social disintegration.  When I find myself speechless in the face of extreme ignorance though, I become concerned.  Are the differences so great now, the division so complete, that people think corrupting our democracy is worth the tradeoff of the loss of liberty?  The “my way or the highway mentality” feeding into authoritarianism.  Or instead of social consensus, is this merely reflecting a collective fear of deciding, of having to be responsible for one’s choices, so let’s have someone else decide, it will be their fault if it fails . . .

What do you think?  Is evil contagious?  Can the power of words be used to enhance the social multiplier, escalate collisions with “bad apples?”  Or provide a stamp of approval for behavior that is particularly wicked?

I don’t know if there is an off switch for what’s going on right now, but I do hope people will become more civil, will recognize truth, will compromise.  And hope they will start shining their own light, thinking and reasoning for themselves instead of being hypnotized with polarizing buzz words.  Be the reflection of themselves instead of becoming the reflection of other minds . . .

***

** So there, I managed to meander through my mind for a bit and put something reasonably coherent into kBs.  And hopefully I’ve done so having not offended anyone.

*** The “quoted text” is all my own.  I just wanted to set those lines off for rhythm 🙂

Photo: The moon doesn’t shine its own light. It reflects.

 

What Would You Say to Nietzsche ?

My dear friend Raynotbradbury passed the torch to me again and presented me with the “Nietzsche Questions.”

Looking at photos of Nietzsche bought to mind my philosophical question of the day — I wonder if the number of neurons in the male philosopher’s brain has any correlation to the size of the moustache?

The rule is just ONE! …never lie to Nietzsche!

Ah yes, Nietzsche, that German philosopher who declared God to be dead, figuratively of course.  So, I guess it’s true, I don’t want to lie to the person who expressed the belief that Enlightenment killed the possibility in believing in the existence of God.

That Enlightenment referred to the age or time period in the 18th century where logic and reason served as the source of authority advancing progress, liberty, tolerance, constitutional government and separating church and state.

Humm, that makes this a greater challenge as I guess I’m supposed to use logic and reason to answer the questions 🙂

Nietzsche’s existential examination of life probably led to his formulation of Nihilism, which teaches that there is no ultimate meaning to human existence.  Now that’s a bit depressing.  Oh well, here goes:

1. What makes one heroic?

There can be all sorts of different types of heroes and different paths to herohood.  I think I just made that word up 😊

So a couple of thoughts come to mind.  It would be heroic to put another’s needs above our own.  It would also be heroic to face life without fear.  Live life to its fullest and have no regrets.

I remember once leaving a not-so-good job and embarking on a new career pathway, and I was treated like a hero by my co-workers for having been able to escape that toxic environment.

I got the hero treatment again when I retired.  Must be something about saying “take this job and shove it” that makes you a hero – humm . . .

2. In what do you believe?

I believe in a lot things.  So, I guess you could say Omnism with a little twist.  I think the generic definition of Omnism is accepting and respecting all religions.  But I would qualify that to accepting and respecting those universal truths espoused by all religious belief systems.  I mean some of the dogma or interpretations of some religious principles I might not find to be very religious because they don’t involve compassion.  Of course, determining what makes a “good” truth versus something else is a value judgment on my part.  That might lead into the next question – conscience.

Of course, I also believe in love – that all powerful healing force.  Love conquers all.

3. What does your conscience say?

It says, “Don’t answer that question!”  Actually, my conscience nags me to try to be a good person in all respects.  And that inner voice of mine is constantly at battle, recognizing and appreciating the beauty and good that surrounds us, while screaming at the many injustices that seem to be getting perpetrated simultaneously.

Of course, I’ve not always succeeded in being the best person I could be.  I’ve done some pretty stupid shit and gotten in some big trouble but got out of it again.  Now my conscience tries to keep me from being stupid in the first place.  Good luck with that conscience 😊

I’ve always thought it would be a great contribution if each person simply chose not to add anymore to the chaos that surrounds us.  That’s what my conscious is saying.  “Quit chaosing !” (Another new word.)

4. Where are your greatest dangers?

I’m on the same page as Ray here.  I tend to give my trust too easily.  But if someone loses it, it is gone.  Hard to recover that.

I tend to over-think things.  That can be mind-boggling at times.  Too many wheels spinning.  I may hit on this in the next post about Imagination.  Our minds can betray us at times.

5. What do you love in others?

I love seeing happiness, creativity, art in all forms, passion.  Intelligence, humor, honor, honesty, integrity, strength of character.  I also love seeing that fearless spirit out to conquer the world.

6. Whom do you call bad?

Those who’ve become absorbed by superficiality and materialism.  Those who have lost their humanity (Question 7).  Another word here might be narcissists, although that word may be being over used right now.  People who judge, categorize, dismiss.  Those who do nothing but take from others and have no Question 3 – a conscience.  Or for that matter a soul . . .

7. What do you consider most humane?

It’s most humane to see all of humankind equally.  To have compassion for other people, but also for the other species that share our world.  To see the interconnectedness of everything in this vast Multiverse.  I mean, even as humans, we are Multi-Organisms.  We are a walking mass of symbiotic creatures.  Kind of makes you rethink the word “humane” a little, having derived from the word “human.”  But what really is a human?

8. What is the seal of liberation?

Nietzsche says the seal is not to be ashamed in front of oneself.  I suppose that would be most liberating as we tend to judge ourselves the hardest, and that is not easy to escape from.  We are always our own witness, and often critical of what we see.

Liberation is a big concept.  I imagine Nietzsche looked at this as being total liberation, being free from any and all negativity directed towards yourself.  This would allow a happy survival in any environment.

But I also think of being liberated as being free from any system, any government, any employer, any other person.  To be free to decide only for oneself, and not having other factors sway those decisions.  The liberation to fully become oneself.  And that is captured, in part, by staying on the move.  Not allowing your world to contract.

Wisdomism

Oh, and since Ray quoted Stanislaw Jerzy Lec and provided some more wisdoms by him, I thought I would quote him here too 😊

Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?”

I’d like to hear Nietzsche’s answer to that question 😊

***

Photo: I found this photo on the Internet in the public domain.  A link traces back to a website called Historical Wallpapers Blog.  The caption under the photo reads, “Friedrich Nietzsche 2 by moonhawk22.”

 

Peace

So I’m having one of those days where I’m working on six articles in my head but struggling to get the words on paper.  I don’t know if that counts as being distracted or not being motivated.  I know I’ve been distracted by a lot of what’s happening in other social media platforms.  Too much hatred being spread about out there and as an empath I find that very disturbing.   I’ll have to write about being empathic sometime – article number seven !

That’s one reason I like this blogging world – much more interesting and upbeat stuff to read here 🙂

At any rate, I decided to plug along on a challenge sent to me by one of my most favorite bloggers Raynotbradbury.   Maybe that will help get me focused.

In the mean time, I decided to declare peace inside my brain.  We should all do that more often.

Peace be with you 🙂

Photo:  The Sego Lilly

Patagonia - Sego Lilly + SPFx2

A Gallery

I try to paint pictures with words.  And some of my recent posts have described the color and diversity of the plants I’ve encountered in the desert.  So I thought, why not post a gallery of my pictures.  Maybe you’ll find a couple you love.  It is hard to beat Nature’s artwork 🙂

Photos:  A couple of these photos were taken in a botanical garden, which was basically a fenced-in part of the desert, but the rest were in the wild.

** I noticed that I picked a couple from the same plant, so I felt obligated to add a couple of more  . . .

 

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