Friday, December 19, 2014

Practical Wisdom (Kamran K): Attaining Excellent Health and Avoiding Incoherence in this most Fundamental of Realms.

(1) The adjective that describes most modern behavior and attitudes is incoherence. Incoherence is simply the condition where one's behavior and attitudes can't be sensibly connected or, at worst, are in antagonistic conflict. What one thinks or does in one area is totally contrary or damaging to what one is doing or thinking in another area. The bad of incoherence is apparent on its face: it results in the canceling out of the positive effects of good behavior because some other negative behavior is so overwhelmingly detrimental to the whole.  

This modern incoherence is particularly and most obviously and everywhere evident in contemporary behaviors surrounding bodily health and well-being.

(2) There are two sensible choices in this domain. Either one elects to do everything one can to bring the body to its greatest possible health, strength, longevity, and vigor (option Excellent Health); or one is indifferent to this objective and accepts whatever health, strength, longevity, and vigor (or lack thereof of any of these) that one gets in the ordinary course of things (option Whatever Health).

(3) Option Excellent Health requires some brief study of the behaviors and diet reliably proven to generate bodily health, longevity, and well-being. Although half of the Internet and almost any other popular magazine is devoted to this very subject, these principles can very briefly be summarized as follows:

  • Diet: Excluding genetics, this is the most determinative factor that must be nailed for one to attain Excellent Health. Such ideal diet consists almost exclusively of reasonably low-sugar, high protein foods with 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables/daily. Alcohol, if consumed, should be drank in strict moderation (5 or less drinks per week) with many two or more consecutive days of CERO (0) alcohol  (this permits the liver to heal itself; the failure to do this greatly raises the risk of fatal liver disease, hypertension, obesity, and many other health maladies for the obvious reason that alcohol is a drug/poison). Sugary drinks and candy should be avoided or eliminated entirely; water and fruits are man's best friends. As a rough rule, such diet would preclude one from purchasing approximately 80-90% of foods in convenience stores, restaurants, and fast food outlets and perhaps even some 50-60% of foods in groceries. 
  • Exercise:  Some amount of daily exercise sufficient to burn "extra" calories consumed and keep the heart "alive and well" is required. Almost any physical activity involving walking, running, or other active use of hands and legs will do. Unless one is pursuing athletic excellence for its own sake, one need not spend 2-3 hours per day engaged in vigorous exercise. Still less, does one need to do a marathon, triathlon, or other insane ultra-endurance event. 
  • Regular visits to the doctor, dentist, and all the rest for preventive care and consultation. Medicine has made so much progress that most bodily illnesses can be treated quickly provided the medical professionals are made aware of it and have an opportunity to act. This importantly includes the requirement to seek mental health care if one is suffering from depression or other very serious mental health maladies. Further included in this category is strict attention to known bodily vulnerabilities and defects (bee or wasp allergies, diagnoses high blood pressure, asthma, and all the rest). 
  • Sleep: 7-8 hours. Chronic over-workers usually fail this requirement.
  • Hygiene and sanitation: Liberal use of showers, hand sanitizers, laundry duty, trashing of expired food, sunglasses and sunscreen, and all the rest. 
  • Sexual practices and behavior: Obvious. 
  • Car driving: Careful attention to brakes, wheels and tires, speed limits and stop signs, blood alcohol levels, and condition of the road. Generally, the lower one's speed the greater margin of error one provides oneself; further, any resulting impact will be reduced by virtue of the most basic rock-solid law of physics (F=ma). 

The above principles are basic and should be obvious to any reasonably mature adult.

(4) The incoherence of modern persons is such that they often make some effort to pursue option Excellent Health. Most of us do, in fact, "cherry pick" one or more behaviors we otherwise enjoy and then use it as justification to convince ourselves that we are "healthy" and getting ever "healthier." We do in fact go to the gym for 30-45 minutes here and there; after reading some "scientific study," we do something or other to our diet in the name of good health (no soda or cookies or red meat); we regularly get 8 hours of sleep; we practice yoga or run a marathon; and all the rest. Having done this, we then believe we are actually achieving Excellent Health and lose sight of other behaviors that are simultaneously compromising our health and longevity, often severely.

Importantly, the body does not think or keep score in the (very generous) ways we would like it to. The body does not say to itself we are now running six miles a day and so it's not such a big deal that we are drinking too much alcohol or not getting enough sleep or engaging in risky sexual behaviors or constantly depressed. The body does not think "dehydration" is OK since we are doing such a great job washing our hands and bodies with expensive soaps. Our cars and bikes aren't shielded from accidents on the road caused by excessive speed just because we eat broccolli and spinach all the time.

The body, pursuing the laws of biology, does no thinking of this sort whatsoever but simply executes the commands of cells, tissues, and organs. Each and every unhealthy behavior that compromises the body has its effect; and the effects can- and usually do- swallow the effect of other positive behaviors promotive of health. In light of this, it is incoherent to delude oneself that one is healthy on the basis of one or more positive behaviors if one is simultaneously engaging in one or more (and often many more) behaviors destructive of health and longevity.

(5) Option Whatever Health is actually not incoherent. It is not a good strategy because one lives fewer years, and in poorer health, and is thus not sub-optimally situated from a physical perspective to attain the GOOD in its full and complete dimensions. But still Option Whatever Health is non-deceptive. The person is indifferent to health and all of its demands and simply wants to live as he wishes without any attention to health's demands. He perhaps even knows reduced longevity and health is the ultimate result of this strategy but- all in all- he doesn't care or doesn't care that much to do anything about it. If he gets 40 years, that's fine; 50, good by me too; 60 or more, wohoo!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wealth (Kamran K): A Bifurcated Planet

"Bifurcation means the splitting of a main body into two parts." Wikipedia

(1) We live in exceedingly bifurcated times.

(2) A large segment of the planet lives fairly comfortably in middle to upper class communities surrounded by large groceries, pharmacies, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, hospitals, bars and clubs, police stations, and almost every other modern convenience. Though the very occasional tragedy and random senseless injustice occurs in these communities, these are not the dominant concerns of the day. The concerns of everyday life in these communities are almost exclusively focused on amassing ever greater levels of physical and material comfort, convenience, and security. Residents converse with each other about the best places to buy the best coffee, chicken, alcoholic beverages, deserts, garden fertilizer, and all the rest; they discuss what is happening with property values and the price of gas; and they focus on how to best position their son or daughter for admission to a "top" college or "career." The focus in these communities is not mere survival but competitive dominance over others within the community on the basis of (a) wealth, property, and possessions, (b) fame, reputation, and prestige, (c) physical appearance, and (even) a "fun and exciting" life.

By almost any metric, these communities have already achieved very high levels of physical and material comfort, convenience, and security. They are "lacking" in hardly anything, from clothes to cars to expensive tech gadgets to vacations to all the rest. To the contrary, they have much more than they need and use in almost all of these things.

It would not be unreasonable for the members of these communities to look around, evaluate their situation, and conclude that the levels reached are "good enough" and that their time and mental attention would be better off focusing on other areas of life. At the very least, members of these communities should stop stressing and obsessing over reaching ever greater levels of physical and material comfort, convenience, and security. The proper attitude seems to be this: if ever greater levels are achieved, well, that's great, we will enjoy those levels; if they are not achieved and we remain at the present levels for a while, then that is perfectly fine too. Either way, we have won the battle of physical and material comfort, convenience, and security.

(3) There is very little evidence that middle to upper class communities have come anywhere close to the perfection of mind and virtuous behavior driven by a perfected mind (collectively, the "higher order activities"). Within these communities, there is little to no serious intellectual debate and discussion, little to no articulation of new truths essential to the living of a good life, little to no political energy, and little to no virtuous energy unleashed to combat injustice, violence, and oppression within and without the community. Although work, career, and family responsibilities absorb much of the time necessary for one to do any of these things, still the remaining free time would be sufficient to begin these "higher order" activities and make gradual progress within each of these areas over years/decades. Again, the problem in most of these communities is not that the higher order activities have not reached ultimate development; the problem is that the higher order activities have yet to even seriously begin because there is no serious "will" or energy to begin these things (the occasional holiday food and toy drive represents some unleashing of virtuous will or energy but falls short of a serious unleashing of virtuous will or energy).

(4) An equally large segment of the planet lives fairly uncomfortably and miserably in destitute communities lacking a grocery store, pharmacy, mall, movie theater, restaurant, hospital, police station, and almost every other modern convenience. The "closest" one of any of these things usually is located 10 or more miles away.  In these communities, tragedies and senseless acts of violence and other injustice happen almost every day, often without legal or other compensatory recourse. These things are not even perceived as "tragic" because they happen so frequently. The concerns of everyday life in these communities is almost exclusively tied up in mere bodily survival. Residents converse with each other about how to achieve the basic survival needs and are generally disinterested in activities that don't directly aid this most importance objective. Because everyone has so little and what little they have is usually consumed for basic survival purposes, there is little to no competition on the basis of wealth and possessions, prestige, fame, and all the rest.

This segment of the planet devotes serious attention and energy to religious and spiritual salvation and uplift. Because these persons actual living conditions are so destitute, they hope and pray for salvation and paradise in the next world. To expect that their actual living conditions would markedly improve appears to be a pipe-dream; accordingly, hopes and dreams are cast in the way of religious salvation, which salvation is regarded very seriously in these parts of the world.

(5) The bifurcation of the world- driven by the current mode of global economic production- is now such that these very two large segments of the planet can hardly relate, understand, and- most importantly- empathize with the concerns of the other. They but rarely, if ever, see each other "face to face" and so most interactions happen through one segment viewing the life of the other from afar, either on a documentary program, on the Internet, or isolated photographs.

To the destitute segment of the planet, the competitive status-prestige-possessions-physical beauty obsessed based concerns of the affluent segment of the planet appears petty, trivial, banal, if not outright absurd, ludicrous and insane. To the affluent segment of the planet, the survival and physical safety based concerns of the destitute segment are so far removed from their own experience that they appear to be the problems of another species entirely. The situation resembles the absurd situation where an apex predator (shark or lion) views the bounty that the lowest level predators (mouse etc.) are able to gather in.

(6) The above reality is unfortunate because it is through the interaction of these two segments that both segments can be improved. The destitute segment would benefit from the technologies, financial resources, and general "know-how" possessed by the affluent segment to increase their level of physical and material comfort, convenience, and security to minimally acceptable levels; and the affluent segment could benefit from the realization of how "good they have it" and how parochial their vision and standards have become when viewed from a larger, more sensibly humane perspective.

As with all meaningful interaction, this most important interaction- if it ever happens at all- must happen organically and with both segments wishing, desiring, eager to interact, relate, and understand the others concerns and problems. No government program or humanitarian organization can "force" or accelerate this interaction. Only an entire generation of persons- on both segments of the planet- must come together to achieve this interaction and the resulting benefits. Only an entire generation of persons can UNbifurcate the planet.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Play & Amusement (Kamran K): On the Delights of Self-Entertainment

(1) In a world that has become increasingly pragmatic, utilitarian, "health-conscious," and generally much too serious about everything, play and amusement take on added significance for the seeker of GOOD. Religious seriousness has given way to secular seriousness (my kid MUST get into an Ivy League school, I must ALWAYS be employed at a high-paying job, etc.). But secular seriousness has been made even worse by the fact that the religious consolations (heaven, eternal life) that worked to reduce secular seriousness have been relentlessly criticized by intellectuals, scientists, philosophers, and the like. We are desperately in need of some counter dote to all of this but where will it come from? To say that we can- and should- play and amuse ourselves right through all this damn seriousness is one thing. But how to do it?

(2) Man can always choose how to amuse and entertain himself. There is option A. Here, man passively experiences the choreographed behavior or statements of others who attempt to entertain him in some form or another. Man is usually not consulted as to how he wishes this entertainment to proceed. The entertainment is presented one size fits all, assuming (wrongly) that all persons will enjoy the same things at the same time in the same way. Option A also usually involves the collection of some fee, ranging from the de minimis cost of a movie ticket to the $100 one pays for cable TV monthly to several thousand for a cruise to foreign islands. Option A almost always involves man sitting himself down in a chair for several hours, unpermitted to do anything but remain frozen still, eat and drink, listen, applaud, and watch what others are doing. Even when the option A "entertainment" is neither funny nor entertaining, social programming and conformity demands that man be "polite" and pay one's due respect to the entertainers for- at least- "trying."

(3) Thankfully, man also can- and usually should- choose option B. Here man actively uses all his mental power to CREATE some form of SELF-entertainment that matches the needs of the self as that self is constituted RIGHT THEN AND THERE.  It is foolish to expect others to do this for you because they don't have a clue what your needs are right then and there. Whatever needs and desires the self has right there and then the self-entertainment will correspond exactly and immediately with entertainment targeted at those needs and desires in real time. With self-entertainment, there is no need to wait until 7:00 or 8:00 PM for the show to start; self-entertainment begins and ends whenever we desire.

Within the requirements of safe and otherwise lawful behavior, man can orchestra this self-entertainment however he wishes, at whatever time of day, involving whatever sequence of events in whatever order he desires, with respect to any activity one is engaging in whatsoever. Self-entertainment knows no real boundaries; from the washing of a pug to how one dresses to the counting of how many persons are doing social programming and conformity in a club to evaluating just how impossible it has become to open a ketchup/hot sauce packet to the replaying and re-experiencing of memories of how one's favorite eccentric persons act, behave, and think, self-entertainment is always available for man's enjoyment.

Importantly, self-entertainment can also occur when one is interacting with others. Slightly eccentric questions and comments can be made in the context of a social- or even text-message- conversation; although these questions and comments are made in a social setting, they are still primarily aimed at entertaining the self. This is particularly a favored strategy when the social conversation begins to veer- and when does it not so veer!- toward mundane "small-talk" realities (weather, work, favored food and drinks, non-serious bodily illnesses, the ever increasing price of certain things, and the like) that people feel literally compelled to drag up even though no one really gives a damn about any of these realities. What is the lover of GOOD to do in these situations other than resort to self-entertainment. Is he to simply sit there, looking sullen and bored at the infinite regurgitation of these mundane realities? What good would this serve?

How we dress is also another huge- and daily- area ripe for self-entertainment exploration. As lovers of GOOD, our choice of dress is obviously not intended to impress others in any way shape or form. Therefore, if this motivation is eliminated from the equation, what is left but for us to dress in a way as to entertain ourselves!?!?

(4) Beyond the intrinsic enjoyment self-entertainment provides, we can't conclude before mentioning its greatest benefit of all. One can readily become so absorbed in the activity of self-entertainment that one begins to barely notice all of the things in one's environment- which one can neither change nor control- that used to bother and upset one terribly. This progression is gradual but still steady and "real" provided one is doing self-entertainment enough and in actually entertaining ways to the self.  
Self-entertainment when done well is incredibly absorbing and riveting; it literally drags one's consciousness away from where it usually tends to "sit" and "hunker down."

This is a terribly important benefit of self-entertainment. One formerly complained incessantly of the evils of money worship, a vapid dating culture, a shallow society, careers and jobs detested by all, dull neighbors, friends, and family,  and all the rest; now, absorbed in self-entertainment, one barely even notices these things as one returns with joy- again and again- to one's cherished self-entertainment: "This is the man without disgust, this is Zarathustra himself, the surmounter of the great disgust, this is the eye, this is the mouth, this is the heart of Zarathustra himself." (Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2014 Break

The blog writer will use the remainder of 2014 to perfect all 2014 posts. He may occasionally post before the New Year if some idea really seizes him but such posts, if any, will likely be fewer than 5. The blog author is confident 2015 posts will make all previous posts look like child's play.

Happy Holidays and New Year to All.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Self-Creation (Kamran K): "I Want to See More, More, More!"

(1) Our wayward vagabond adventurer, Amsynem, awoke one fine Saturday morning with the vestiges of a vivid dream fresh in his mind. Overall, the dream itself was vague and incoherent; but Amsynem could distinctly make out he, himself, was screaming deliriously "I want to see More!" and "I want to see more, more, more!" and various other permutations of the same phrase throughout the dream.

(2) Amsynem went about his day without any clue what this eccentric phrase meant. Later that night, Amsynem went to a downtown nightclub and the first clues as to the dream's meaning rained down on him. He could not help but notice that 80-90% of the woman entering the club were wearing the color black as a dominant percentage of their outfit (either top or bottom but usually both). Women at this club were wearing so much black the scene resembled pictures of women praying at mosques Amsynem had seen in documentaries.

Amsynem wondered how so many different women could each arrive at the same decision to wear black. Were there not hundreds of colors available for each to choose? Was this not a free country were one could wear any color any time? Was the nightclub atmosphere itself not an appropriate one in which to demonstrate one's individual tastes?

(3) While his head was growing ever dizzier from these and other questions, suddenly the moment came. Amsynem started muttering to himself "I want to see MORE!" "I want to see More! More!More!" Amsynem began to actively wish to see more women dressed in black. He looked around and he did in fact see More, and More, and MORE, and yet MORE women in black. He was in a state of absolute delight, delirium, and ecstacy. Just as he was about to mutter "I want to see MORE!," yet another women dressed in black would pop into view and his wish was granted!

(4) Bored to death by his job, his neighbors, all forms of small-talk, his friends, and the headlines on the news, Amsynem began to play this SELF-ENTERTAINMENT game whenever he could. Indeed, Amsynem always preferred the SELF-ENTERTAINMENT he could provide himself for free to that which others would provide him for an exorbinant cost. Wherever he was, either NYC, LA, Miami, Chicago, or almost anywhere else in between, he began to mutter I want to see MORE! examples of a certain socially programmed conformist behavior and- lo- he would see it before his very eyes within seconds!

(a) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons obsessively checking their cell phones 2, 3, and even 400 times a day! And lo, Amsynem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(b) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons projecting a positive public slant on their lives when their personal private experience of life was totally miserable. And lo, Amsynem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(c) Amysnem wished to see MORE! persons evaluating other human beings primarily by virtue of their profession and income. And lo, Amsynem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(d) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons whose ONLY idea of fun involves alcohol and the casual watching of professional sports. And lo, Amsynem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(e) Amysnem wished to see MORE! persons who ALWAYS kept their public conversations within a very safe polite range of subjects (weather, upcoming holidays and vacation plans, sports, stock market, routine work issues, news headlines) for fear of offending someone and having career and financial prospects ruined. And lo, Amsynem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(f) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons twiddle away at their hobbies without any real desire to master them. And lo, Amsynem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(g) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons who only wished to see the good in themselves, their city, and their favorite activities and who relentlessly denied or ignored any criticism directed at themselves, their city, and their favorite activities. And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(h) Amsynem wished to see MORE! men addicted to sex and woman-chasing and willing to sacrifice everything ($, time, reputation, health, self-esteem) to get it. And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(i) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons looking for any opportunity, any time, to make more DOLARES. And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(j) Amysnem wished to see MORE! persons that had to always be doing or saying something, who could never just sit still and do or say nothing for the briefest of periods. And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(k) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons choose their romantic partners predominantly on the basis of income, race, nationality, and biological factors having nothing to do with anything (height and race in men, hip-to-waist ratio in women). And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(l) Amynem wished to see MORE! parents relentlessly push their kids to become doctors (or nurses or pharmacists), lawyers, scientists, businessmen, engineers, and other similarly high-paying occupations, whether or not their children were at all well-suited to these professions. And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(m) Amsynem wished to see MORE! persons communicate with others almost exclusively via button-pushing communications (email, text, social media).  And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!
(n) Amysnem wished to see MORE! persons trivialize the achievements of others which they could never reach themselves. And lo, Amsydem did see MORE! MORE! and yet MORE!

(5) What began as a game of self-entertainment gradually became tedious and wearisome to Amsynem. By the end, Amsynem really did not wish to see MORE! persons doing the exact same things in (more or less) the same ways. The joke had become tedious and the sight of the same realities so trivial UNDT baYNAHL that Amsynem wished two things: (1) that he would not be seen doing the MORE! behaviors and (2) that he would actively seek out those few persons who were similarly disinclined toward the MORE! behaviors. This life-long resolve and commitment served as Amsynem's fuel for self-creation over and over and over again.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The GOOD (Kamran K): The Wobbling Key

Song for the Winter: Guy J, Whirlpool

(1) We return, time and time again, to the life and times of our GOOD hero Amsynem (our favorite pugs, Pugsy + Amelie, and our favorite rapper, Eminem).

(2) Free-spirited to the core, Amysnem drove a beat-up unremarkable 4 door Honda sedan (170+k miles) for many years. These cars come with keys that are attached to a small plastic control system which can open and close the door from short distances. Over time, the actual metal key has a tendency to become detached from the control system. When this happens, the key will not turn on the car even when it is placed in the ignition switch.

(3) This very thing happened to Amsynem. With his "money always tight," Amsynem preferred not to spend several hundred dollars on a replacement key. Instead, he used Super-Glue to bind the key back to the control system. 

(4) This make-shift solution worked splendidly for several weeks before Amsynem noticed the key began to wobble. Over the next several months, the key wobbled more and more, causing Amsynem to worry that it would detach entirely, leaving him stranded on the side of the road.

(5) This never happened. Although the key continued to wobble, the unseen area where key and control system were bounded were attached tightly by the Super-Glue. For months, Amsynem treated the key very gingerly, believing that the wobbling was a sign that it was about to detatch. Finally, he tugged on it and learned that indeed the invisible connection was far stronger than he imagined it to be.

(6) This is our metaphor of the wobbling key. The GOOD IS that invisible mental glue that keeps the self and soul together amidst whatever challenges, wobblings, failures, misfortunes life throws our way. Even when we possess the GOOD, we will of course wobble, make mistakes, and endure the injustices of others throughout life (decreasing in number as we more steadily possess the GOOD). Friends and potential romantic partners will let us down; physical injuries and illnesses will afflict us; financial difficulties and fears will rear their ugly head; familial relations will be strained by the stupidities of one or more members; we will indulge excessively in the temptations of animality (alcohol, sex, and the desire to dominate others for no purpose); we will "give in" to anger and depression more than we ought.  But the possession of the GOOD makes even these wobblings and mistakes NON-CATASTROPHIC. Possession of the GOOD keeps everything together and moving for the self and soul while some parts of life are wobbling and under strain. Possessing the GOOD, we may bend but never break. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wealth (Kamran K): Further Reflections in this Most Critical Realm.

(1) Human DNA creates a creature (man) that must biologically exist on the level of animality. The requirements of human DNA give none of us any break here; we are all in the same boat and THIS represents a truly common human "bond." No human body can escape biology and survive for very long without food and water, air, decent shelter, warmth, sanitation, and (increasingly) medicine. These demands begin at birth and continue all the way to death. No one gets a "free pass" here; no one can take "time off" from these requirements. Within the extremely accurate world of reality, any failure to attend to the requirements of human DNA renders the body weak, diseased, and (sometimes) dead.

In an ideal world (and perhaps on other planets hosting life), creatures would (do?) exist that have banished animality from life altogether. They can exist and frolic all day, every day, without a single thought to their body and its various biological/hormonal needs. We should make no mistake about it; such creatures and such worlds are superior to Earth and the life found on it. If one had one's choice, one would of course choose to live in these worlds because the demands of animality and biology are, when considered from the perspective of reason and logic, tedious, silly, and banal. These behaviors must be endlessly repeated, without fail, and have no compelling fascination in them whatsoever. What delight can one take at one's ten thousandth shower, tooth brushing and flosing, flu therapy attendance, chicken and green bean eating, and all the rest. 

Although the demands of animality are persistent, the perfection possible from a life of animality is rather limited. Even persons that take poor care of themselves often survive well into their 60s and 70s; persons that take much better care of themselves can perhaps survive another 10 or 20 years, albeit in declining physical condition.

(2) Over time, humanity has decided that work and wealth generation is a solution to the persistent need to meet the requirements of animality imposed by human DNA. Rather than each person having to daily gather all of the stuff necessary for animality survival, men and women work, gather money, and then use that money to "get" whatever is needed to continue to exist on the level of animality. Given the contours of life authorized by human DNA, life would be very demanding and harsh if one was required to secure all of these things through one's own daily labor. In the case of badly needed medicine, it would be nearly impossible for one to succeed on one's own.

(3) Those pursuing the GOOD must of course wish to prolong their life and reach the age of (at least) 70 or 80. Wisdom and achievement of the GOOD really does grow over time, experiences are appreciated differently as one's perspective changes and (hopefully) improves, love offers the potential for an "out of this world" relationship with another human being over decades, and it's rewarding to see GOOD persons reach their GOOD goals as their lives mature.

It is STRICTLY AND ONLY because of this reason (compliance with DNA's animality requirements) that the lover of GOOD must participate in wealth and work activities. The inability to escape biology pushes/forces the lover of GOOD into work and wealth generation. The lover of GOOD will pursue work and wealth generation in order to meet the requirements of animality imposed by human DNA, which will, in turn, give one a shot at pursuing a sort of perfection achievable by escaping animality through the MIND, character fashioning, and behavior changes of all sorts. And it is STRICTLY AND ONLY GOOD to participate in wealth and work activities to gather that amount of (low to moderate) wealth to satisfy the requirements of animality to continue to survive so that one can continue to do these GOOD things.

Friends of ours may object at this point and argue that all "decent" and "hard" work is GOOD and, when such work is paid for, it represents the meeting of a consumer demand which is in itself GOOD. They argue that work in itself is an activity where one can reach the GOOD because, at the very least, no one is harmed when one does a "job well."

We disagree. In almost any field today (take your pick), there is simply too tenuous a relationship between the actual work performed and the achievement of the GOOD. The lawyer does occasionally (usually once every couple years) assist a meritorious client in a meritorious case and achieve justice under the law. This is obviously GOOD. But this kind of thing happens much too rarely. For most, work is layered over with heaps of inefficiency, traffic jostling morning and evening, bureaucracy, unmeritorious issues/concerns/complaints, boredom as a result of "nothing to do," and rule and procedure compliance (largely) for its own sake. The situation is such that for every ten hours one works in almost any field, one will perhaps be achieving the GOOD for only 30 minutes (if that). So the lover of GOOD can't remain in work and wealth generation because of the belief it reliably produces or leads one to the GOOD because this belief is flat wrong in reality. To the extent the lover of GOOD does work and wealth generation, it is strictly to meet the demands of animality imposed by DNA.

(4) Embedded as we are within such a perspective, it makes no sense whatsoever to limit oneself to the activities of work and wealth generation once one has secured the "basics" to survive and meet the requirements of human animality. This is simply a numbers game of pluses and minuses, with nothing "virtuous" about it. One gets in and gets out to the extent needed to make sure everything balances out appropriately. One simply calculates out what one needs to get to the next day, month, and year and then pursues that amount of work and wealth to gather just these things. Obviously, what one needs is persistently guided by the realization that most of the things one believes one needs are not needed at all. For persons with substantial savings and assets, no amount of work or wealth generation may be required to continue live at this level of simple animality sustenance.

(5) Period. End of story.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Friendship (Kamran K): The Survivors.

"Girl, it's easy to love me now
Would you love me if I was down and out?
Would you still have love for me?
If I fell off tomorrow would you still love me?
If I didn't smell so good would you still hug me?
If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century
Could I count on you to be there to support me mentally
Would you poof and disappear like some of my friends?
If I was hit and hurt would you be by my side?
How deep is our bond if that's all it takes for you to be gone?"

Nate Dogg & 50 Cent, 21 Questions

(1) Because modern notions of success demand that one be "cool," "popular," and surrounded (always) by hundreds/thousands of friends, conceptions of friendship are becoming so watered down as to be absurd and meaningless. It has somehow come about that any two persons that know each other (even if only digitally or only by virtue of employment or financial dealings) refer to each other as "friends." They are not friends in fact but refer to themselves as such. Such "friends" but rarely even sit down to converse on subjects of meaning or value (i.e. not "small talk"), and rely exclusively on computer-driven "button-pushing" communications lacking body language or human emotion (email, texting, instant chats, and all the rest).

Huddled within the perspective of the GOOD, we don't see friendship this way at all. Let us make clear: unless certain demanding tests are met, two persons that know each other remain- and will forever remain- contacts or acquaintances. The orbits of their lives- like Earth and Moon- will forever remain not "too far" yet always distinct and distant.  They know each other more than two random strangers do but still not well enough for the connection to generate human meaning and value. surely does not need hundreds, let alone thousands, of friends; man actually needs a strong "rock solid" core of 5 friends and perhaps another 10 or so that are "up and comers" on the path to entering the core group: "the soul, when accustomed to superfluous things, acquires a strong habit of desiring things which are neither necessary for the preservation of the individual nor for that of the species. This desire is without a limit, whilst things which are necessary are few in number and restricted within certain limits; but what is superfluous is without end..." (Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed

(2) By way of analogy, let us return to the disjointed story of our good hero, Amsynem. Living in a region experiencing a severe drought, Amsynem decided one year to simply let his garden "go" and see which plants could survive "naturally" and on their own. He did not carefully water, fertilize, or mulch his garden as he had in the past. Plants that needed continuous watering (and other chemicals) simply did not make it. These plants had only survived in the past under artificial ideal conditions, artificially supplied by Amsynem, chemicals supplied by his local Home Depot, and extensive use of the city's water supply.

Surveying the scene in late fall, Amsynem found that only a few plants had survived under more "true" natural conditions. He could never have predicted the survivor plants. But the few survivors survived in a spectacular fashion, often extending their size, width, and coverage over Amsynem's garden. Amsynem considered these few survivor plants to be his "true" plants, truly worthy of being within his garden, his property, his life. Although the whole thing began as a humorous experiment, it ended with the generation of Truth: "Too oft, verily, did I follow close to the heels of truth: then did it kick me on the face. Sometimes, I meant to lie, and behold! then only did I hit- the truth." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) Amsynem found his survivor friends.

(3) The same test can and should be applied to everyone one knows to "cull out" the survivor friends. The artificial ideal conditions must be removed for some period of time so that one can "see" who the survivors are. If one is powerful, rich, beautiful, well-connected, or in fantastic physical and mental health, then one should tone down/de-emphasize in one's presentation of one's self these characteristics long enough to determine the survivors. One should attempt to mute down any and all other characteristics that typically draw persons toward one for reasons of personal expediency and advantage unrelated to TRUE FRIENDSHIP (e.g., a bouncer at a club will surely have many "friends" who show up every Saturday night at the club to see their friend and then have him allow them into the club in front of everyone else). Persons that habitually keep a friendship alive by initiating communication after long dormant periods should desist from doing this and let the other person begin things once or twice. When this does not happen, then one can rest assured the purported friend is not a survivor friend.

After a brief period of six months to a year, one group of survivor friends will remain. After another year or two, an even smaller group will remain, given that the first group contained some persons that probably believed the change in one's condition was only temporary.

(4) Applying this test honestly and without delusion, most persons will quickly recognize that they have very few genuine friends or perhaps ZERO such friends. For these reasons, it is imperative that one never close the door to friendship to hardly anyone one meets. Because survivor friends are such a rare but great thing, it is impermissible for one to rule out persons as potential friends on account of their race, gender, height, looks, lack of power or money, and nearly any other characteristic unrelated to the merit of one's character.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Experienced Beauty (Kamran K): The Human Experience Formula= Here, Flow, Gone.

Song of the Day: Bonobo, Eyesdown (Sasha remix)

(1) The structure of all human experiences, from the most trivial UNDT Bayyyhhnall (banal) to the most sublime and GOOD, is exactly the same. Every time. Everywhere. In the past. Now. Tomorrow.

This human experience formula can be summarized very simply:
                HERE >>>>>FLOW>>>>>GONE

Human experiences take no other structure whatsoever. This is (truly) it. The entirety of human life is exactly the same; the DNA language controls the organization and binding together of the body into cells, tissues, organs, systems, etc. for some limited period of LIFE and then the DNA language succumbs to time or disease and the individual is Gone. The individual was here, flowed through life, and then Gone. Before reaching Gone, we hope the individual (all individuals) reach the supreme GOODs of LIFE in their unique way. Unlike competitive athletics, LIFE is not one huge narcissistic supply game where you try to win and hope everyone else loses and "exists" merely to look up to your greatness:

Those who are ignorant and perverse in their thought are constantly in trouble and pain, because they cannot get as much of superfluous things as a certain other person possesses. They as a rule expose themselves to great dangers...and all this for the purpose of obtaining what is superfluous and not necessary. When they thus meet with the consequences of the course which they adopt, they complain of the decrees and judgment of God; they begin to blame the time, and wonder at the want of justice in its changes; that it has not enabled them to acquire great riches, with which they could buy large quantities of wine for the purpose of making themselves drunk, and numerous concubines adorned with various kind of ornaments of gold, embroidery, and jewels, for the purpose of driving themselves to voluptuousness beyond their capacities, as if the whole Universe existed exclusively for the purpose of giving pleasure to these low people.
(Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed)

Instead, LIFE should be a process where all achieve the supreme GOODs within the context of their individual talents, circumstances, genetics, and desires.

(2) When we are trapped within trivial UNDT banal experiences, we can take comfort in the fact that we will eventually reach GONE. We try not to do anything that will prolong this experience for one second more than it need run; if we can, we try to get to GONE quicker than others similarly situated. During these moments, we certainly don't appreciate either the Here or Flow but rather endure these experiences as best we can in the hope that something/anything will come after that will be better.

(3) When we find ourselves within experiences of value, meaning, and delight, we must do what we can to prolong these experiences as much as we can. We are certainly not in a rush to exit these experiences; we delight and wait in them as much as we can. In certain situations (the running of a mile as fast as one is able) there are inherent limitations to how long one can remain in the experience. In others (triathlon training or love or philosophical contemplation of the GOOD), we can continue the experience for a very long time (years and decades). In most situations, we can continue the experience for a few hours or days but not much longer than that. During the experience, however long it runs, heightened consciousness to the entirety of what one is experiencing can prolong the depth of the experience even further. The experience is not prolonged in scientific time but in human meaning time, which matters much more than scientific time. If one is attending to everything that is happening during the experience, then one really is experiencing more of that experience which will be experienced as a richer and longer experience. In any case, something, anything at some point inevitably goes wrong, crashing us out of the experience and causing it to be GONE. Unlike a child or immature adult, we are not frustrated, shocked, or even indignant when this happens; this was merely to be expected according to our human experience formula.

(4) At this point, the lover of GOOD will execute the following three steps: (1) accept the reality of the experience being Gone. This doesn't mean one abandons the experience or forgets about it completely. One can appreciate it, store it in memory, and express gratitude that one had this experience as part of the Self's inventory of unique experiences. (2) regard it as unlikely that the experience can be duplicated on "demand" whenever one wants. Because the experience came and flowed during a unique juncture of space time and was experienced by the self at a specific moment of its emotional history, it is, all in all, rather UNLIKELY the experience can ever be duplicated on demand to one's satisfaction. (3) begin the process of seeking out new experiences that will, in turn, suddenly be here, flow, then Gone.

Freedom (Kamran K): The Freedom to Take the Third (and 4th and 5th...) Way.

(1) The path to freedom involves forging third, fourth, fifth, and so on ways to issues that have divided humanity into two trite stubborn "camps."

(2) On most issues that matter, humans have divided themselves into two camps, usually totally for or against some human behavior, value, or lifestyle. There are camps for and against literally everything, from pornography to capitalism to religion to science to alcohol to marijuana to big cities to big corporations to video games to global warming to marriage to the proliferation of smartphone use.

(3) Each camp has millions of adherents across the globe, and often can point to impressive historical figures as adherents. Increasingly, each camp has think tanks, social media websites, radio and TV stations, periodicals, university professorships, and all the rest to get out its message. In getting out its message, each camp enjoys reiterating its position and attacking in caricature the views of its opponents. Each camp refuses to debate the other in an unstructured open conversation marked by honest humility that one could be wrong, the very hallmark of a genuine search for Truth. Each camp refuses to supplement its viewpoint with the legitimate truths articulated by the other camp. 

(4) Are we, humanity, doomed to the nauseating spectacle of watching these two camps slug it out with their tired trite arguments for years, decades, centuries, millenia?  Are individual persons simply forced to choose which camp to join for life, which choice must often be made at an absurdly young age when one's mental understanding of life and reality are at their lowest?

(5) An individual embracing the freedom of the third or fourth or fifth way answers no to these questions. The third way begins with an examination of both prevailing camps. Truths expressed by either camp are incorporated into the third way. But the third way is not simply a thoughtless reiteration or combination of the two camps. The third way also brings its own determinative distinctive truths to bear on the issue. These last truths are a tie breaker that sets the third way "free" from either camp. By doing this thing, one places oneself MILES ahead of either camp. 

(6) Once the third way has been perfected, persons are free to perfect it through the articulation of the fourth and fifth way. In a similar fashion, truths expressed by the first, second, and third ways are incorporated but some new determinative distinctive truths become the "staple" of the fourth way.

(7) We briefly illustrate the above discussion with the case of science. We accept from the pro science camp contentions that science has enabled technological advancement and discoveries that have often (though not always) been largely for the good of human beings and human life. One look at the state of modern medicine today versus its state several hundred years ago makes this abundantly clear. We accept from the anti science camp contentions that science has little to say on the ULTIMATE issues of human value and meaning and happiness that (more or less) determine the ULTIMATE trajectory of a human life. We accept from the anti science camp contentions that scientific formulas and knowledge being discovered today are (more and more) divorced from any human practical function or use. Our tie-breaker truths focus heavily on the fact that human happiness does not seem to be increasing with increasingly scientific discoveries or a scientific worldview. It is also irrefutable that one can live a full, abundant, incredible life with little or no scientific knowledge whatsoever. Science (particularly human medicine) has done humanity much good, but most of this good is now "in the books" and there is need for consolidation, use, and understanding of the goods science has produced rather than yet more increasingly arcane scientific discoveries that only 5-10 people on the planet understand.