So, I’m totally going for a post a day quota for this summer. I don’t know how long that will last [or really if you would want it to], but there’s only one way to find out. And besides, you gotta keep busy!

Today’s topic: your self. It’s neither yours, nor a self. Discuss!

Okay, but seriously. This is apparently this body-minds philosophical / practical question of the moment. And I’ve probably beat this dead horse to the point that I got its heart beating again. Maybe that’s why I should talk about it again.

I don’t have any new angles. Yet. Well, maybe a little one. Namely, I’ve been thinking a lot about how one would go about living in the world without a self [or in more typical terms, without an ego]. I mean, the person wouldn’t be a zombie. That would be pre-ego, not post-ego [and there’s no going back!]. Which got me to thinking more about some of the realizations I’ve had lately, and in the past, about how everyone lives in the center of their own universe. I don’t know if it’s possible to realize that maybe you’re life isn’t the most important, interesting, original, etc., on the planet. I don’t know if that would make any biological sense [well, altruism does, so I stand corrected]. But I imagine that would be what enlightenment is like. Because enlightenment basically just means realizing that, experientially [not cognitively, like I have down pat], there is no self. At least, no nuclear self that somehow everything revolves around.

I keep coming back to this problem because it seems to me like the most important one that a person can face. At the same time, if there is no qualitative difference between someone who realizes this and someone who doesn’t, is all the hand-wringing really worth it? It’s similar to the difference between a [healthy morally] Christian and an [healthy morally] Atheist. Both worldviews lead to near identical behavioral patterns. Though in the end one may be MORE true [atheism, hack cough…], maybe that doesn’t matter as long as they lead to the same end [moral action, empathy, altruism, contemplation, etc.].

Hrmph. I’m listening to a podcast about nonviolence [from a class at UC Berkeley {dude, they have an entire class on nonviolence at UCB… that’s f’in sweet!}]. The professor talks about a class on meditation and how he wanted to get it approved as a lab class for the nonviolence course. Needless to say, it didn’t pan through with the powers that be [even the ‘liberal’ academics, well the administration at least, are light years behind the times]. But it’s a novel idea. That meditation is to life what labs are to science. In which case, this entire post is just smoke and mirrors. All I need to do is sit.

So sit I will. But while you’re still at your computer, check out this little campaign. You’d think it were a jest. But no. It’s for real. Narcissism probably is the leading cause of death in the world. Go figure.

I totally gotta make me a bumper sticker from that campaign. And one for “God _less America.” Sweet!

PS – Dude, I still can’t get over Eve. That was totally worth all the thousands of years of our fallen state. Right on, brother!


May 31, 2007

~ From The Creation Museum in Kentucky

Dude, I’d totally hit that. Adam was one lucky fuck.

This ‘museum’ is brilliant stuff. I couldn’t come up with half of it. Just check out the site.

As Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum put it, “We are going to undo all of that here at the Creation Museum. We are going to answer the questions Bryan wasn’t prepared to, and show that belief in every word of the Bible can be defended by modern science.” Go[o]d luck.

Can you say road trip? It’s only a 9 hour drive. This would be SWEET. I mean, if all the other mannequins are naked and hott, well, that’s nothing to spank your Bible about!

I’ll just try and forget this is the state of modern American beliefs. Lalalalalalalalala. :)

May 31, 2007

Evangelical teens are actually more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants.

~ From Even Evangelical Teens Do It

Jesus CHRIST, I must be doing something wrong if it’s THAT easy…


And just in case you were wondering:

If he ruled her out, here are some general guidelines: Definitely out of the question is an Asian-American who attends church weekly—84 percent of them are virgins. A Mormon is a long shot. They are unlikely to have sex and if they do, they don’t tend to repeat the experience. A Catholic or a mainline Protestant teenager is a much better bet than a Jew (around 30 percent of the first two groups have had sex, compared with 17.6 percent for Jews). But a Jew could net a higher reward: Jews are more likely to say sex is pleasurable and more likely to have experienced oral sex.

I started physics today at Villanova. It ended up being a pretty cool time. Both professors are cool cats. The drive there turns out to be a nice way to have some quiet space [I know, like I need more of that]. And doing math, even if it’s just basic algebra math, just feels FANTASTIC.

Plus it’s motivating me to get up in the morning [I don’t really have a choice if I want to get to VU]. And it’s making me feel like learning [something I enjoy but rarely do in a systematic way].

Funny how I can easily discipline myself to learn if I’m in a class [even one that’s not really for credit], but I can’t seem to get myself to study something purely on my own. That’s a weird quirk in the system.

But now iTunes has this cool little system set up where they put up classes from places like UC Berkeley and Stanford. I’m listening to a podcast on Social Psychology right now. Really cool stuff.

If you want some good listening [we’re talking best of the best of the nation academic-wise], be sure to download iTunes and check this stuff out.

Of course, they have the physical and biological sciences too, but don’t we already get enough of those in school?

I’m off to bed soon. Yay for getting up at 6! It’s just like High School. Except… strangely not.

Yes you’re in anguish, do you think that you’re the first?
Since when am I indentured to be your private nurse?
Maybe this callousness is a form of love that I extend
Because I know if you face the hurt alone you’ll be stronger in the end
So don’t play off my conscience like I should wipe away your tears
Just let your burdens fall on someone else’s ears
I don’t know how long I can sit with you this time
The suffering in your live shrouds the joy in mine
So maybe you should just call me when this sadness finally ends
and you’re ready to laugh again
Spare me the drama, do you think that you’re the first?
Since when am I indentured to be your private nurse?
Sometimes detachment is the thing we need the most
And if you’d consider me you’d veil this pain you host
So don’t play off my conscience like
I should help you through your fears
Just let your burdens fall on someone else’s ears

~ From Someone Else’s Ears by Stuart Davis

I was listening to this song yesterday, and the words just kind of broke through my psyche in a whole different way. It was actually pretty amazingly cool. It was like looking at a magic eye picture, just kind of letting your eyes blur, and then WHAM, there was the 3D picture.

You see, previously, I’d seen this song as a sort of call for revenge. An angry call for revenge. Person A [unjustly] abandoned the narrator, and the narrator attempts to explain his predicament to person A so he will come back to him. It just made sense: you should help a brother out, especially one that’s really close to you.

But then last night it hit me: person A isn’t being bad, he’s practicing tough love. And even if love isn’t on his mind, that’s okay. The narrator is the only person that can ‘fix’ himself. The only person that can get past all the bullshit he’s made. “Spare me the drama, do you think that you’re the first?” Amen! The narrator is exhibiting an extreme case of narcissism. His life isn’t really any worse than anyone else’s. He just pretends it is. And person A isn’t going to put up with it.

I feel more and more like that. About myself especially. Yes, we all have to play a part, our ‘self.’ But for Christ’s sake, your-self doesn’t have to be some pussy, overly emotional fuck-up. If you really want that, okay. That’s your choice. But more and more, I feel like that’s not a valid option.

And then I realize this post is in a way still an outgrowth of said emotional fuck-up. Because non-dramatic ‘me’ wouldn’t even post this. It wouldn’t cross my mind that I should share this with others. Yeah, but, God, make me chaste. Just not yet!

I guess I had to grow into this song. Or the song grew along with me. Either way, it’s pretty cool to see how that all ended up. Pretty cool, indeed.

May 30, 2007

Everyone is a little stiff and self-consciously reverent. And then comes the speech. That’s the problem. It is time for the truth to be told and we cannot bring ourselves to tell it. Good men and women were sacrificed to the vanity of politicians and generals. It is a miserable business to tell lies over the graves of good soldiers, but we do, and then we all sing “America the Beautiful,” including the verse about heroes proved in liberating strife, and the honor guard fires its rifle salute and somebody presses Play on a boombox and we hear “Taps” and the guard turns about-face and marches off and we walk away, thoughtfully, and there is much to think about.

~ Garrison Keillor, from Telling lies over good soldiers’ graves

The idea of the narrative of the self has been making a big comeback in psychology, apparently. Well, I don’t know if I can call it a comeback; I honestly don’t know if it ever left. But I’ve come across two article-essays in the past few days that have coincided with some thoughts I’ve had about the self-story, which is enough consilience for me to write about them. [more…]

May 28, 2007

I think psychedelics play a major part in what we do, but having said that, I feel that if somebody’s going to experiment with those things they really need to educate themselves about them. People just taking the chemicals and diving in without having any kind of preparation about what they’re about to experience tend to have no frame of reference, so they’re missing everything flying by and all these new perspectives. It’s just a waste. They reach a little bit of spiritual enlightenment, but they end up going, ‘Well, now I need that drug to get back there again.’ The trick is to use the drugs once to get there, and maybe spend the next ten years trying to get back there without the drug.

~ Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool

In defense of the Pygmies, perhaps I should note that a friend of mine who has spent time with them says that for such activities as the patient stalking and hunting of mammals and fish they prepare themselves through marijuana intoxication, which helps to make the long waits, boring to anyone further evolved than a Komodo dragon, at least moderately tolerable. Ganja is, he says, their only cultivated crop. It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization.

~ Carl Sagan, from The Dragons of Eden

Apparently Carl Sagan smoked pot. And, well, so did a lot of other people.

I didn’t know that yesterday.

May 27, 2007

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all.

A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school.
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool.
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules.

A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear.

A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free.
But you’re still fucking peasents as far as I can see.

A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

There’s room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill.

A working class hero is something to be.
A working class hero is something to be.

If you want to be a hero well just follow me.
If you want to be a hero well just follow me.

~ Working Class Hero by John Lennon