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I’m discussing the idea of control. For example, controlling ourselves, our social scene, romantic life, work issues and money.

There are several common variations of what we call Control. They differ sharply in meaning though each is intended for the same use. When we use the word Control about our lives it resembles one of these descriptions:

Dynamic or Responsive Control: The healthiest and happiest, also the least like the conventional meaning of control. This is a person who responds to life’s problems like a good tennis player responds to the match: Her moves are alert, timely, and proportional. She handles each problem as well as she can and doesn’t get distracted by grief over missing one or waste energy chasing a ball she could never catch.  This person has confidence in themselves and knows that spontaneously handling everything as it comes to you is the only way to win. This style accepts incoming serves without protest as the core of the game, in other words as a basic truth about life.

The negative alternative is Anxious Control: There are several substyles to the spectrum of Anxious Control:

  1. Tense-Jumpy-Irritable Anxious Control – This style is stressed out just under the surface at all times. Problems scare them into hypervigilance and this generates “false positive” problems. Sadly this means they experience way more problems than people who aren’t on such high alert.  Their moves are nervously alert, premature, and disproportionate on the “too big” side. They lack confidence in themselves and each problem costs them deeper emotional stress than necessary. Their response to incoming serves is bitter/resentful. “I knew it!” Oddly, they don’t put much focus on improving life in ways would generate fewer problems.
  2. Big Picture Prudence Anxious Control – The main difference between this one and the previous is time and space. BPP takes the long and global view of potential trouble. It embraces systems of avoiding and minimizing problems.  None of that is pathological in itself, it shows good sense if it is in balance. The negative imbalance appears when fear and dread are the motivators and try to control EVERYTHING. Their moves are suspiciously alert, their timing is preemptive, and they are disproportionately risk-averse. There is a fundamentally negative world view with a dislike/distrust of anything that they cannot control. At the extreme end, this style avoids love, growth, and change. Their response to incoming serves is to manage them remotely or avoid them entirely.
  3. Helpless, Fatalistic Anxious Control – Utterly lacking confidence in themselves this style expects failure and allows it to happen through passivity and by telling themselves it doesn’t matter anyway. They grieve over their weakness but can’t find any way to address it. They avoid many problems by not trying or risking. They don’t bet on themselves. This approach can be global or limited/specialized to areas like love or work. Some, for example, might be highly accomplished in their career and helpless/fatalistic toward ever being loved. Their approach to incoming serves is wistful and sad as they passively let them go by. More rarely they take a feeble swing fully expecting failure.

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There is a behavior within a distinct subset of Seattle drivers that causes a range of negative results from small nuisances to life-threatening. I’m referring to politeness. Actually, that isn’t right. Politeness is simple, lovely, correct. Politeness is the Tao of social interaction.

The problem behavior is Meta-Politeness, a self-conscious attempt to be witnessed personifying politeness.  I believe it may be normal politeness tainted by the social media status update. We now include little unnecessary flourishes with our politeness in hopes of getting a “like”.

The tiny nuisance level is usually something like a driver expressing their profound open-mindedness that perhaps, evidence to the contrary, it isn’t their turn at the 4-way stop.

“Are you sure? It’s ok? Really?”

If this was as bad as it got, I would scarcely even notice, let alone ruminate over it…let even more alone write about it!

Here’s the real problem situation:

I’ve directly experienced this many times. Continue reading

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“[We] cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time. ” Charles Fort

Charles Fort was an extraordinary thinker and a witty if challenging writer. Born into the heart of the steam-driven industrial revolution, He was nonplussed to learn about the Aeolipile, an ancient Roman steam engine. It was a very simple device and researchers aren’t certain if it was an entertaining party trick or had some small practical use. We do know that its impact on this historical period is zero. It didn’t capture the imagination of the time or generate new ideas and new technologies. It was intellectually inert.

What then makes a technological breakthrough roar into life seemingly from nowhere? Why do paradigm shifts sometimes appear startlingly fast?

“Steam engine time” may sound too techno-mystical to be an idea of practical use but I think the meaning is straightforward. Steam engine time (or gunpowder time or antibiotic time) is an EMERGENT effect of the laying down sufficient essential substrate to make the idea fertile. That substrate collects slowly and incrementally. It consists of underlying 1. technological and 2. intellectual readiness.

  1. The sort of hardware needed to express the idea physically must be “off the shelf” accessible. Not like Superstore accessible but in the general world of the moment and probably serving completely unrelated purposes at present. If you have to invent a bunch of other things to compile and test your idea, it isn’t time yet.
  2. There must be a sort of slowly heating or charging excitement growing in the community of innovators and thinkers. They may keep their thoughts to themselves but related ideas are percolating and making connections throughout the surrounding world. The questions are crystallizing and there is a growing sense of urgency. Competition plays a part too. Pride and fear add to the pressure. This process speeds up when more people are engaging with the issue.

If you’ve read my stuff on Darwin and Wallace you know of their representative competition but the IDEA of evolution was on a low boil everywhere in their cultural moment. The substrate was laid and the moment was fertile. Their theories (and others) could only emerge in a powerful way that shaped the future from this state of readiness. A breakthrough theory coming before the substrate is ripe and ready is roundly ignored.

Feuding Dutchmen, and Telescope Time

With the Renaissance came a new freedom of thought and hunger for knowledge. Ptolemaic knowledge of astronomy was rediscovered and published along with mythology, astrology, and philosophy. Our place in the universe was one of the ideas beginning to bubble in many minds. Technology and craftsmanship rose from the old, rediscovered knowledge and quickly had a practical impact. It was inevitable that as glassmaking and lens-grinding techniques improved in the late 1500s, someone would hold up two lenses and observe what they could do.

The first patent application for a telescope came from Dutch eyeglass maker Hans Lippershey. In 1608, Lippershey claimed he’d invented a device that could magnify objects three times. His telescope had a concave eyepiece aligned with an objective convex lens. Another eyeglass maker, Zacharias Jansen, claimed Lippershey had stolen the idea from him. Jansen and Lippershey lived in the same town and both worked on making optical instruments.

We have no evidence that Lippershey did not develop his telescope independently therefore, he gets the credit for the telescope, because of the patent application, while Jansen is credited with inventing the compound microscope. Both appear somehow to have been a part of the development of both instruments.

This is an extraordinary impact on science and the future from one little Dutch town and two very competitive residents. Our exploration of the very big and far and the very small and close comes to us courtesy of this jealous, grumpy lens grinding soap opera. Continue reading

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Carl Jung defined the shadow as the unknown dark side of the personality.

According to Jung, the shadow, being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is understood as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.

I’m not remotely a bible guy but this is ‘chapter and verse’, my personal recipe from here forward.

“Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves” [have no self-serving agenda].

– Matthew 10:16

To speak from strength, to be trustworthy, own your serpent and own your dove. For that matter, I suppose own your sheep and wolf as well.

 

 

 

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The two of swords from the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck.

Swords are ideas, concepts, situations, words.  The two of swords is about being frozen with indecision, trapped between choices, unable to move forward and truly accept either choice. It might be a choice between two things you love or the choice between trying and giving up. My little edit is amplifying the stress one feels in that spot. Lonely, weary, and cold. Robe wet with dew, ass hurting from the stone bench. Bearing the weight of the long night. Muscles cramping and straining… yet dropping one sword won’t free you. The only escape is a truly new perspective… but gained at what cost? The night goes on.

   

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The tarot card “The Tower” suggests outright catastrophe and tragedy.

Its true meaning is the collapse of a misconception that we believed and protected for too long. A flawed and unstable investment that falls under its own weight. The suddenly revealed falseness of a deep belief that has held us prisoner. Tower moments are the terrifying thing we need to grow. People have devoted their entire lives to forestalling dreaded tower moments. If they succeed, that is the real tragedy. That is the veneration of the old dead skin rather than shedding it.

These quotes all shine a little light on the tower from different angles.


“A setback has often cleared the way for greater prosperity. Many things have fallen only to rise to more exalted heights.” – Seneca

“Disappointment is considered bad. A thoughtless prejudice. How, if not through disappointment, should we discover what we have expected and hoped for? And where, if not in this discovery, should self-knowledge lie? So how could one gain clarity about oneself without disappointment?” – Mercier

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without also protecting yourself from happiness”. – Jonathan Safran Foer

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” – Lao Tzu

Simone Weil: “Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life.”

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” —Epictetus

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” –Joseph Campbell

“It’s better to conquer grief than to deceive it.” – Seneca

 

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