3.3 The Subjects of Brutal Kings

(Note: I’m going to cut my minimum quota per post down from two pages to two paragraphs.)

When a brutal dictator suppresses dissent in his country, he must crush the people’s will to the point where they find it either useless or at least undesirable to resist. At the ground level this results over time in a dull hypnosis. Since the country is now controlled entirely by one person, it is understandable that he must not only crush open dissent, but also crush any part of the openness of the culture which may lead to dissent. It’s not good enough just to cut the weeds above ground if the root system is still alive.

Just as insidious as those roots are to the dictator, one’s own desires can be to oneself. I find I’m not just one desire, but an almost incomprehensible tangle of desires. The brutal king is my sense of who I am and what I’m here on this earth for. The desires come from the roots and express themselves in ways which I find contradictory – the brutal king finds contradictory, I should say, because I often don’t know what drives him. Who am I and why am I here? There is something in me which knows the answer, and it tyrannizes over most of my impulses in a way I can hardly find comparison to among modern writers. The Jungians and traditional Christians I have found more able to address the point.

So I’ve suggested that in order to truly serve my purpose in life, a part of myself I’m calling a brutal king – am I or am I not one and the same king? – must oppress the individual activity of all of my smaller desires to the point where they do not resist his will. Even the ego center which writes this article cannot claim full identity with the king in question. That is, even the activity of writing represents at least in part an expression of one of my “upstart” desires. In a brutal kingdom, the people generally are allowed to express themselves so long as they don’t violate certain behaviors of which they can never be entirely aware. People’s sense of justice is dependent on how completely the rules of play are disclosed. If the king were perfectly fair he would disclose all the rules and it would seem like a just government. However, this presupposes that there is no essential difference between the natures of the king’s desire and the people’s desires.

The little people generally, are not thought to be the king, and vice versa. If the king takes action which the little person doesn’t understand, the little person, if he is a compliant subject, assumes that the king is operating according to mysterious factors which are beyond the little person’s understanding. If nothing more is expected of the little person, the little person will not feel bad that he doesn’t understand all the complexities of the operations of the greater kingdom. In many cases, however, more is expected of the little person than that he should simply observe passively. Indeed, to be honest, the little person rarely knows whether the king’s action is derived from such truly surpassing wisdom.

All these “little people” are the parts of me which might want to take actions different from the restricted possibilities allowed by the king. As mentioned above, even parts of this writing may be acts of rebellion. The first way in which I experience the brutal rule of the king is by sinking into a heavy depression. The king, which is at least sometimes acting entirely out of my unconscious self, makes me feel dreadful shame. The little person must either suppress himself or find a way around the king’s decree. The primary characteristic of the little person is whether he has faith or no faith in the king’s rule. If he has no faith, his inclination will be to act subversively, to divide himself into a phony compliant personality and a secret rebellious one, which rebellion can go on indefinitely so long as he is not caught by the king’s guard while the king rules.

But the more ordinary subject will feel ashamed that he has made a mistake, and conscientiously attempt to find ways to express his desires which don’t violate the will of the king. He believes in the king, in other words.

If I am unhappy, but I believe in the king’s wise rule, then I must reinterpret said unhappiness. Because the king needs and hopes for the compliance of all his citizens, I must interpret my unhappiness as a process of growth in which harmonious actions are promoted by the strict discipline of all inharmonious actions. What feels like dictatorship is a wiser self teaching me to conform to patterns which benefit, or at least do not harm, the greater organism. Our society pretends to be full of adults, which is why growing up can be so embarrassing – learning from your own self things which you might want to learn from someone else, but which in fact almost no one knows. We have a lot of adults, but almost no grown-ups.

Finally, Carl Jung has a very important and very difficult to understand concept called individuation. I’m toying around with definitions:

Individuation – The notion that there is something inside a person which can solve problems which conventional wisdom cannot solve, and the process by which such problems are solved.

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3.2 The Storing Borm Making Its Way Up the East Coast

I wrote an article about a year ago from the midst of another storm. Storms make me feel important during their brief lifespans.

The reason I feel important now is that the power might go out at any second, forcing me to lose whatever I had saved. But I can just press “command-S” and that solves that. Command-S just turned me into a totally unimportant sack of donkey entrails. Oh well, I’m unimportant, but life moves on and I should, nay, I must, write this blog post.

I know it’s not likely to entertain you. Yet I must do it anyway. Also, we need to have power be on for long enough to finish typing and posting, even though there’s no real risk of my losing any of this. I can just post it later.

I wish I could report the stormy action from the front lines, but despite how exciting storms are, they are kind of boring just the same. There are high winds, but I haven’t seen anything fall yet. The power went out and I thought it might be for a long time, so I suggested to my housemate that we eat the ice cream. As soon as I had served myself my second bowl, the power returned. I ate the bowl anyway because it seemed inappropriate to put it back into the container and I didn’t want to throw it out. But I’m stuffed with ice cream now.

So what else is new? Not much. I’m still studying Inform 7 when the power is on, reading Carl Jung when it’s not on. I have a wind-up radio which came in quite handy for the few hours our power was down.

How about I discuss the issue of how many words should a proper blog post consist of? Out of habit, I have enforced the idea that it should take up two pages. It’s a habit, and I’ve noticed sometimes I really don’t have anything I want to talk about, so I fill up the two pages with repetition of previous ideas, more or less. I ignored the pluses and minuses mostly. Soon however, I must admit that some days I just have very little to say. While it’s good for me to be public every day, that doesn’t make me fun to read. But once I allow myself to go below two pages, how long will it be before I write two *words* and call it a post? I have not allowed “nature” to control the length of my blog yet, for fear of what nature would do. Thus, there is still some “emptying” left for me. I don’t want to write bad posts. But I don’t want to write excessively short posts either. Which is worse, short posts or bad posts?

Right now, for example. I’m filling up the space – by saying that I’m filling up the space. I may need to come up with a better routine for how this gets done. Perhaps I could force myself to completely erase the first draft and write a second draft, which usually produces better writing but it takes a while. Hey, at least I can be thankful that I’m working on a problem whose domain is so narrow. Problems with a finite set of factors are a relief.

Factors involved with my daily blog:

– How long should it be?
– Should I settle for boring thoughts or rewrite desperately trying to sound interesting?
– How long per day should I spend writing it?

Maybe there’s a few more. Many problems, particularly “How do I make my video game?”, have a virtually infinite number of factors and I can hardly solve them. I’m a little embarrassed that I simply don’t know how to make a game because it means I take the longest and most winding possible route to finishing it. And I’m perhaps not much of a person until I do. But I have to live with that. On the other hand, I’m extraordinarily dedicated to a kind of “moral purity”, which means that I openly admit my condition even if it’s a horrible condition, out of the belief that this is the right thing to do. Why do I think it’s the right thing to do? Because most people don’t ask the deep questions, and somebody has to do that, even if it means they are a near-total failure in life. I’m trying to compensate for the rarity of people who truly dedicate themselves to very deep questions.

The problem with deep questions is how hard they are to connect with daily life. Yet the more people who ignore them, the worse things get for everybody. Is the unexamined life not worth living, as the saying goes? I would argue that the unexamined life may in fact be worth living, according to the opposing saying “ignorance is bliss”. I think the worse problem occurs when *no one* examines his or her life. A society only really needs a few people to examine their lives, I think. Why did I decide to become one of them? It’s hard to answer, but more to the point: is it possible for me to go back now that I’m deep into the fray? No, I don’t think so, if only because it would take too much work for me to disguise who I have already become. On the other hand, if the battle yields me nothing in exchange for all of my efforts, it won’t matter which path I take, because there will be no reward either way. It’s possible that neither the unexamined nor the examined life is worth living. Yikes!

Back to Zachenstein’s laboratory and the development of my Artificial Person Simulator!

3.1 Week In Review

I’m continuing to talk/write myself into being comfortable writing a blog post per day. I guess these things just take some getting used to. But I’ve realized another angle to it is my new relationship to society. Simply by blogging I am asserting myself as someone in society who has ideas and thoughts. I’m making those thoughts available. Hard to find, perhaps, but available nonetheless. A society is defined by the people in it and what they do and say.

I’m nowhere near the center. We all know this, but I *am* in the solar system, in an extremely distant orbit. I have enough of a basic sense of human nature combined with a basic sense of the specific society I’m in that I have things to say. Where was I up until now? I was outside the solar system entirely. This is an accomplishment.

I’m 35 years old, old enough I’d say that if I don’t start having things to say, I’m not much of a philsopher, nor, since I don’t do any *other* productive work, much of anything else. I *have* to start saying things or I feel like I’m a burden, even if I’m not that interesting. Saying *something* is my job at this point. Which makes me glad I can just talk my way through right now, literally describing the fact that I’m describing myself. I could feel ashamed of this, except that I believe many people do not know how to live well, a fact which is hard to discover since there is little profit in admitting it. Thus it must be detected by observation. But because I have the simple faith that my struggles are not mine alone, I can blog about them and not consider them shameful.

I still get very nervous, but not so nervous that I can’t still write, even if it’s only to analyze how nervous I am. I hope some day that blogging will pay off for me in a big way, that people actually start to find me interesting based on what they read. I wonder how interesting someone blogging about how hard it is to find topics to blog about can be, of course. I don’t want this article to waste anyone’s time. I’d say that this article’s value, if nothing else, is to demonstrate how someone can be committed to persistence even if they doubt they have anything good to say in any given post. That’s definitely the kind of person I want to be.

The post itself has a kind of solidity… if I can maintain this mindset I might actually start *enjoying* writing these things! I enjoy some of them. None of them truly feel like obligations. So long as I’m disconnected in other ways, I can be connected in this way. Who knows where this is leading? A meteoroid travelling through space… what is its destination?

Each blog post refines the picture. I’d love to think it’s traveling towards something, but I must be prepared to cope if it’s not. Create it and let go of it simultaneously.

There’s a storm coming in our area, the “Frankenstorm”. Halloween is also coming.

Happy Frankenween!

2.9 Emptying versus Keeping Something Secret

Sunday is indeed the day for two articles instead if one.

I’m going to write this one as if I have a lot of useful things to say about something I don’t really know a lot about – my Artificial Person Simulator (APS)!

It occurred to me that the famous game the Sims is based primarily on its APS. Is that a threat to my own pursuits, that a famous game already has such a thing? Well, maybe it is. Immediately I thought, well, what am I doing differently from the Sims? But I was relieved, at least temporarily until I discover another APS which has already used my ideas, to realize that my basic idea was to base the simulation not on needs, but on desires. In the end, the desire of the AP is to gain as many Motivation Points (Satisfaction Points? Motivation Units?) as possible. Everything is worth some amount of these points, and the A.I. is supposed to figure out how to bargain current possessions (spare time, money, etc.) for things worth more points.

It feels a little weird blogging all my ideas as I have them. But if I keep ideas to myself, I’ll be even more isolated than I already am.

I wonder how much of the reason I want to talk about these ideas is related to my need to sound like an expert. I can’t help but hear in my writing a tone of being an expert, when I’m not at all. I have so little experience developing Artificial Persons that I can’t talk like an expert. All the same, I feel that if I *don’t*, I’m bottling things up. Perhaps I’m only showing the truly desperate, and in the end, hopeless situation I’m in, that I need to sound like an expert when I’m not.

Well, it’s not so bad, really. In the worst case I’m simply showing to the world what is already true. In the best case, what I say may actually have value. The difference between me and many others is that I’m not working for a company or institution where it would be appropriate to keep secrets. Nor do I have anyone besides this blog to discuss my ideas with.

The thing about the blog is that even if no one responds to a given post, I still feel as if I’ve told the truth to *somebody*. It speaks, once again, to the emptying of Christianity. It’s not about whether anyone responds, yet the effort itself is therapeutic. Specifically, it feels like I’ve done all I know how to do to express myself, which relieves pent-up guilt caused by residual doubt as to whether I did everything possible to alleviate my isolation. But there is no perfectly reliable way to empty oneself. As soon as I recognize blogging as one way to do it, I run the risk of leaning on the blog and away from other, messier but more genuine ways of emptying myself. Unfortunately, I have no idea if my isolation level will ever be less than it is now, which simply means that I mustn’t feel *entitled* to any less isolation. Which is actually why the blog is so handy, because even in my worst condition I can leave a record of my existence.

On a brighter note, I might actually be thinking coherently when it comes to Artificial Person Simulation. If I publicize all my thoughts, I will end up not really owning any of them. Life, liberty, property… I guess I’ll have to forego that last item for now. Property would be cool, but I consider keeping a public journal of my adventures more important at this time.

What is property for, anyway? Is it a defense against the inevitable? Property is an instinct which got into the human species somehow, and it helps us survive, reproduce, etc. Does it serve a purpose in myself, though? Am I in a situation in which the instinct toward ownership of private property is not compatible with my own welfare? We all want property. For people such as myself whose stock in trade is really ideas, what good is the instinct towards ownership of the ideas? Property rights translates to money and status. Ownership equals status. Admittedly, in most cases such as mine the ideas in question aren’t worth as much as their owner thinks they are, but I don’t know, I might be an exception. Give flesh to the ideas. Give them an aesthetic wrapper to increase their value. Not like this blog.

I’m not sure this blog is the wrapper my ideas need. Nonetheless, it may not be good for me to keep my thoughts private. What have I to gain? Do I have some other aesthetic wrapper which is better than this one? Have I ever actually *made* an APS? Completed a video game? Therefore my experience in creating aesthetics… is it too limited for my purposes? It’s no more limited than this blog is, though. I continue to be a Rolling Meteoroid with No Direction.

Emptying versus keeping something secret. Is keeping anything secret a benefit to my mental health? Not so much that I’m unwilling to ask that question openly. If you have any hounds, now’s the time to put them on my scent.

2.8 Down The Rabbit Hole of Inform 7

I’m continuing in the vein of someone who wants to make an artificial person simulator (APS).

Knowing that I must blog each day seems to help me pull out of myself and reorient towards the general audience. It might be necessary to have such a task, because of how in-depth the thought processes involved with computer programming are. If my attention were to become entirely focused on programming (it doesn’t matter which language or platform), I might be lost in the depths. Instead, I may play the role of the sea animal which must periodically breathe air. The blog is the breathing of the air, and the intricacies of programming are the depths. I doubt nature will really let me proceed without my maintaining a daily connection to the surface. I must daily restore the mindset appropriate to “a blog for all and none”. The specialist must not compromise the generalist. Hurrah!

All this is moot if my programming comes to naught, but at least I’m getting good at trusting “nature” to distribute my energy, since I’ve no more faith in my own ability to distribute it.

I don’t really know what the best choice to start programming in. However, since I like interactive fiction (IF), and since I doubt I can make my APS any more complicated than is already possible with IF, and since there is a very fascinating system for IF which uses English language sentences as computer code, it’s what I’m currently working with.

The system is called Inform 7, at www.inform7.com, and it’s remarkable in that games really are programmed using entirely English language sentences. So I’m starting with that. It may be a little boring eventually to hear me narrate everything I’m doing there. That’s where the therapeutic aspect of this blog comes in. I simply have no one to discuss many of the most important thoughts I have with. I don’t know how uninteresting writing about programming might become. Yet the fatc that I’m worried about boring the audience may only reflect personal insecurities. My whole life I’ve lived in environments where no one was genuinely interested in my thought processes. It’s probably why I’ve spent so much time developing the more esoteric parts of my personality, because the plain ones were of no interest to anyone.

However, it seems that programming is more of a plain part of my personality which I am diving into, and that means my blog might become plain. But I can’t know, and I ought not to stop myself on something I can’t see in advance. I’ll only know by doing. Not to mention that, with my track record, this programming project is unlikely to last more than two weeks anyway.

So anyway, I’m studying Inform 7. The notes for my first goal are:

Location: Pavlov’s Sanitarium

Task: I need to have a blue button provide a reward. When Larry Johnson calculates the desirability of an action, he must weigh the cost and benefit. To push the blue button costs Larry one turn. The reward is a piece of candy. Larry must weigh the number of turns he has against the number of pieces of candy he wants. The value of a turn is, say, 3 MUs – Motivational Units. The value of a piece of candy is 5 MUs. He will press the button if the reward outweighs the cost.

Seems simple enough. Now I must begin up the steep learning curve of programming in Inform 7, which is extremely elegantly presented, by the way. It is far more inviting, especially for a Mac user, than most other programming systems. I have no idea if there is anything down this rabbit hole, but there’s not much going on on the surface right now.

Okay, short entry today. Here goes.

2.7 More About Video Games – The Holy Grail of A.I., or A.P.S. Artificial Person Simulation

All my talk about video games is pointing me towards actually making one.

Two days ago, I wrote an additional article above my quota. Normally this type of subtle aberration indicates the beginning of inflation, and since I don’t know how to handle inflation, burnout. Some part of me must find a way to contain the anomaly.

Today I found myself typing a bunch of notes about how I might get artificial characters in games to act like real people. This is an impulse I’ve often had. There’s a large community of people for whom simulating realistic human behavior is a computer programmer’s holy grail. So I typed out a page and a half of ideas – I have often resisted this impulse because it in particular seems like it is a case of chasing windmills while thinking they’re giants. Yet this time I decided to treat the impulse as if it is something which is simply not going away, and that therefore I will have to follow it.

Perhaps I have achieved a kind of temperance about what I can expect in life, and therefore I can indulge the pursuit of a holy grail knowing full well the parameters of the mission, the likelihood of success, and how the activity fits into the rest of my life. The lure of solving a problem like this is very powerful. To simulate people in a computer is to understand them. An extraordinary feeling of power would wash over a person who could see into the mysteries of people. It seems essential to develop one’s sense of life’s meaning before embarking upon such a quest.

How did my original sense of the meaning of life get so shaky? Certainly the problem goes back at least to middle school, age 12 or so. I remember being made fun of by my siblings and friends in a way which I never overcame. The problem of human nature arose then, and by the time I was 15 it inhibited me from really feeling that life had any meaning. The meaning of life is therefore at least partly tied into the question of human nature.

It seems a bad temptation to think that computers can replace real life. Most of my effort to understand human nature has therefore taken place outside the realm of thinking about how computers might simulate it. But assuming I have a sound understanding of human nature, and that I’m not using computers to *escape* anything, the problem of how computers can simulate people is very intriguing.

My personal opinion is that to really tackle the problem, one must know one thing about human nature for each thing one knows about computers. A good simulation should be set in a storyworld in which a player wants certains outcomes over others. The game must clearly convey the dramatic tension to the player. Otherwise the computer can run its simulation unto itself, resolving the drama without the player’s knowing any of it. In other words, conveying the situation is as much of an art form as is running the simulation internally.

What is the purpose of such simulation? Education? Distraction (a.k.a. entertainment)? If it’s selfish, then something like fame, or money. To consolidate then: fame, money, education, distraction. Education seems more wholesome than the rest, but none of the purposes are mutually exclusive.

It’s almost like wanting to make good video games is a disease, with the only cure being to make them. If so, I can be glad I’m only still talking about them. Perhaps I don’t have the disease after all!

I guess I could go into more detail about what I wrote in my notes.

I imagined how non-player characters (NPCs) would pursue goals:

– They seek commodities. There are two types of commodity, interchangeable, such as money, and non-interchangeable, such as a specific lover’s affection. Prioritizing between interchangeable commodities is simply a matter of which is worth more. Prioritizing between non-interchangeable commodities requires more sophistication and may even be the Achilles Heal of this type of model.

– I decided that for any goal there would be a “focus bonus” to simulate the person’s concentrating on the goal. If a goal is pursued one turn, it gets an increased value the next turn to keep the NPC focused on it. This might go down if the pursuit of the goal is frustrated by unforeseen obstacles.

– The point is to simulate how people really pursue goals, not to simulate a perfectly “rational” actor. Subgoals may be pursued for a number of turns before larger priorities are re-evaluated.

– Spare time is a commodity. How well would time work if it were treated as a commodity like any other? You spend spare time like you do money… seen the movie In Time? There might be something to that.

– The Good Opinions of other people are commodities unto themselves.

– To risk or not to risk? Evaluate: (gain * chance of success) – (pain * chance of failure)

– NPCs can possess commodities they are unaware of (good looks, innocence, e.g.).

– Goals appear on a tier system. Higher tiers outrank lower tiers. Goals on the same tier are interchangeable commodities.

– There’s a basic database of how anyone goes about obtaining common commodities: “Common Knowledge”. Other databases have restricted access!

– The first thing you need when pursuing a goal is Knowledge of how that goal is achieved. That Knowledge is in itself a commodity. Other characters can give you that knowledge (It’s Common Knowledge that if you need the knowledge of how to achieve a goal, you should ask other people.)

 

2.6 Human Intelligence – Introversion and Extraversion

I thought I would continue the discussion begun in article 21 of my blogathon about how I see human intelligence. Warning: This article is pretty long.

The first of eleven traits I discusses was total awakeness, which both is and isn’t a fair measure of a person’s intelligence. It merely acknowledges that for any form of intelligence to function, a person must be attached to and capable of using his senses. Also, in my case, for example, I find I need about nine hours of sleep per day. Some people need as little as five. I do not feel very much advantage in the fact that I have about one hour less awakeness than the average person, but I think it’s unavoidable that being awake less affects what I’m capable of doing with my mind.

The reason for emphasizing the above trait is found in the next two traits, which are inversely related to each other, but which added together would yield the person’s total awakeness. The two traits are duration of introversion, and duration of extraversion. An ordinary extravert will be applying his extraverted abilities for perhaps 2 out of every three moments of awakeness. An ordinary introvert likewise will apply introverted abilities for two out of every three seconds (moments) of his total awakeness. Whatever is not spent on the one will be spent on the other. Thus an ordinary extravert will have 1 out of every three moments devoted to introversion, etc.

In my daily life I can identify about five different ranks of person along the extraversion-introversion scale. More astute observers than I could probably detect more.

Before you begin to trivialize the significance of these two traits, let me tell you that according to my system, these traits are not changeable in any permanent way. Therefore, your placement on the introvert-extravert scale is fixed *at birth* for the entire duration of your life. I will allow that the use of drugs and alcohol, or extreme life circumstances will change a person’s natural temperament for a short time, but it’s generally fixed, and by the way, is the source of more misunderstanding between human beings than any other aspect of personality.

Because introversion and extraversion are inversely related in a single person, these don’t have the characteristic of normal factors of intelligence in which “more is better”. Yet I’m calling them intelligences because many circumstances in life truly call for one or the other. A job greeting people at a restaurant will almost always favor someone with an extraverted temperament, while a job computer programming will almost always favor an introvert. What we all should long for, therefore, is to possess a natural ability to shift seemlessly between the two factors, as needed. However, in all my observations of people, I’ve never found anyone actually capable of doing so.

Wherever you rank, from extreme introvert to extreme extravert, your temperament is likely to be so much a part of your life that you will hardly notice it, except when you become curious as to why certain other people are so different from yourself. If you’re lucky, you will find yourself in a position in which your natural strengths are appreciated, and, if the others in your environment tend to have the same temperament as yours, your weakness with regard to your opposite will remain unconscious for a long time.

The distribution of the types in the population, so far as I have observed them, are approximately thus:

Extreme Extravert: 2 percent
Standard Extravert: 47 percent
Ambivalent Type: 21 percent
Standard Introvert: 27 percent
Extreme Introvert: 3 percent

These are not exact figures. There may be more fine-grained distinctions. I do believe that the types are so fixed that they represent a genetic trait, and therefore may be measurable with far greater exactness than I’ve listed here. My listing is to combine as close as I can to what I think is out there with the frank admission that this is “the world according to Zach T.”

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Now for my controversial Who’s What list, which I want to do for all the intelligence factors, because it really helps me to understand people’s personalities both in person and from afar. I seem to have a lot of men on this list, but I’ve definitely met both sexes of each type, so don’t be misled.

What’s really remarkable about introversion-extraversion is how universally it affects a person’s talents and choices. A person could possess *exactly* the same intelligence profile in all other areas, and yet lead an almost completely different life, if only he found himself an extreme introvert as opposed to an extreme extravert. For example, I would rank comedian Daniel Tosh to be as brilliant as philosopher Ken Wilber. Yet it’s simply impossible to imagine either of them doing what the other does – the thought wouldn’t even cross anybody’s mind under ordinary circumstances. Our society has not yet embraced this fundamental differences between the types along this scale, to our extreme detriment, I think, because even the basic programs by which young people are educated should be informed by this absolutely crucial distinction.

Alright, enough said. Here are the rankings of a bunch of famous people as I observe them along the introvert-extravert scale:

Extreme Extraverts:

I have few examples of famous extreme extraverts, but I will give you all of them, plus people who are contenders for the rank but whom I can’t completely justify.

Extreme Extraverts (sure things):
comedian Daniel Tosh – best example I have because he’s still busy and easily observable
George Armstrong Custer (1839 – 1876) – saw a documentary about him and the characteristic was simply undeniable, in my opinion
classical music conductor Benjamin Zander – I was convinced by this video.

Extreme Extraverts (serious contenders):
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – everything I’ve seen suggests it, but I’m not 100 percent
Leonard Berstein
Charlie Rose – interviewer extraordinaire

These are the ones I can think of.

Standard Extraverts:

The most common type. There are so many of this type that they sometimes make the presence of any other type seem like an aberration instead of merely another type.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama – seems like a pattern…
Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morrisette, Madonna
Most Hollywood Celebrities – The typical personality who appears in People Magazine
The Entire Cast of “Friends” – well, I dunno, but the whole ambiance of the show reflects the values and aspirations of the standard extraverted personality
Steve Jobs – yes indeed, I could be wrong but I think I’m right
William Shakespeare – in all probability, but who really knows?

Ambivalent Types:

There are some people who really do seem to divide evenly along the lines of introvert-extravert. I really have a hard time identifying them because there are other factors which contribute to an evenly balanced personality, which I must reserve for a later discussion. In particular, I often have difficulty separating ambivalents from standard introverts, but here are a few I think fit the bill:

Pat Sajak – makes sense, no?
Regis Philbin – they seem to make good TV hosts!
Alex Trebek? – he might be a standard introvert instead though… it’s hard to tell
Ben Affleck? – maybe just an ordinary extravert, but maybe not
Martin Luther King – his brilliance perhaps hides his type (extravert? introvert? hmmm…)

All men – hmmm, well, moving on then…

Standard Introverts:

Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush – introverts have fallen out of favor as presidential candidates because of our increasingly shallow social values, in my opinion
Richard Nixon – he actually borders on being an extreme introvert, which is really rare for a politician
Eminem – he exudes the cool reserve of an introvert
Sting, James Taylor, Phil Collins
Lady Gaga – she’s showy but still introverted I think
Matt Damon, Harrison Ford
Dave Matthews
Paris Hilton – you can see how desperate I am to add women to this list
Rachel Maddow – there ya go, I got one!
Louis C.K.
Bob Dylan

Extreme Introverts:

My favorite type, and the one I think the most about. Hence I probably have the most examples of this type despite its being relatively rare. The reader of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay The Transcendentalist will find a pre-Jungian attempt to isolate and describe this type.

Yours Truly – for what it’s worth
George Lucas – the Star Wars creator is a ringer for an introvert so dead he’s hard to ignore
Bill Gates – how else could the richest man in the world act so strangely?
Isaac Newton
Albert Einstein
Martin Luther – the Protestant Reformer, not the civil rights leader
Ayn Rand
Ken Wilber – a brilliant if eccentric philosopher. Brilliant but eccentric seems to be the stock-in-tade of the extreme introvert.
Ted Kaczynski – the Unibomber!
Henry David Thoreau

Every Single One of My Heroes and Influences (Goethe excepted), listed as follows:
Joseph Campbell
Carl Jung
Edward F. Edinger
Robert A. Johnson
Marie-Louise von Franz
literary critic Harold Bloom
Oswald Spengler – a totally underrated genius
Friedrich Nietzsche
Ralph Waldo Emerson – the Transcendentalist himself

Okay! Enough extreme introverts! See you next time! (as Charlie Rose would say)

2.5 Video Games versus Other Media, cont’d

I’m trying an experiment in which I write additional articles above my quota whenever I feel like it.

I have no job, few connections, no reputation, and no other ideas for the future, therefore I blog. This blog is my estimate of my own worth as a human being. There are two paths leading off from this fork in the road. The words spoken by those paths are: 1. “Well, at least there’s a blog!” and 2. “Thank goodness there’s just a blog!”. I feel both of them, but I can’t choose between them.

I guess it’s precisely this indecisiveness which makes riddles and puzzles in video games so attractive. Uncertainty – it’s impossible in ordinary narrative fiction, and more or less essential in video game narrative. I said it’s impossible in ordinary fiction, but it’s not impossible for a writer such as Jorge Borges to explore. His story The Garden of Forking Paths explores the idea of uncertainty by referring to itself as only one of the possible stories it is telling. Therefore, he approaches the uncertainty while nonetheless putting one sentence inevitably after another.

Now the question is whether video games, which more concretely implement uncertainty by waiting for player input at each point in the story, can genuinely say something which Borges couldn’t say using only linear text. It’s certainly tempting for someone like me, who grew up playing video games, to believe so. Yet words have reliably supported civilization all by themselves for thousands of years, and it would be foolish to underestimate their range simply because I grew up playing games.

It’s possible that video games are really the mere sum of their parts, and nothing more. It’s possible that they add nothing philosophically but merely aesthetically, to ordinary fiction. However, the aesthetic enhancement may be so great that they are justified on those grounds alone. I mean by “aesthetic” – music, sound effects, pretty pictures, animation. But those things are possible in simple film. Thus it must be player input plus the only other thing computers do – random number generation – which creates the aesthetic effect.

I’m ignoring a major component – the testing of reflexes and quick-thinking ability – for two reasons. One, they go too far afield from the idea of “artistic and philosophical content”. Two, I personally have little interest in reflex games, although I allow there is still much to explore in these areas. I want my own games to involve only conscious choices and no reflexes, both for purity’s sake but also because I doubt my ability to add anything worthwhile to the realm of reflex-testing. Indeed, by strict filtering I am eliminating more than 95 percent of all games by not analyzing reflexes. But just the same, I feel that my high-minded philosophy does not require this massive part of what makes computer games successful. Perhaps I should dedicate a token article to reflexes in games just to show that I know they exist.

But back to the main topic. It must be player input plus random number generation which creates the aesthetic and/or philosophical effect. Stated this way, it seems obvious why video games have had such trouble becoming seen as legitimate and full-fledged art forms as potent in their range as words or film. Random numbers do create good effects, but traditional storytelling is just as good at showing the various possible outcomes of a situation. It just does it one variation at a time, with each variation being revealed at some tactfully chosen point in the dramatic arc. I think of the various pilots in Star Wars who were shot down before Luke Skywalker was finally able to shoot the torpedo which destroyed the Death Star.

Now random numbers make great games. Dice, cards, slot machines. But philosophically, isn’t it just as interesting to tell an ordinary narrative about a person who plays such games as it is to play them oneself? Does actually making a player play the game give him an experience which he can’t get by reading or watching stories *about* people playing these games? It’s the core question, because if ordinary narrative can provoke thoughts which are just as good, then games are what cautious parents have always thought. They are *escapes* from things. Escapism has its place, and by the looks of it, that place is a very large one indeed.

Is there any way, however, in which playing a game actually teaches points which cannot be taught merely by telling stories about games? It’s hard to know, because the masters of literature are able to brilliantly enter into their characters such that we’d have to search rather hard for pieces of such characters the masters could not themselves reveal. Therefore, we’d have to examine firstly whether games couldn’t simply convey the same things *quicker*, and then whether there really were subtle experiences which ordinary literature or film could not convey.

If such experiences are present, it must be because of how the game responds to player input, plus how it uses its ability to generate random events. The item of greatest interest is the first one – how the game state changes based on player inputs. It must change in a way which places the player cognitively into a situation in which the dynamics of the game surround him, and by being so surrounded give him an experiences which teaches. Whether it teaches something the game’s author preconceived or an entirely unanticipated thought is actually irrelevant, except that the latter has the potential to teach the author as well as the lucky player.

The way something would get taught would be in the player’s learning about how his actions *matter* – or don’t matter. It would be in rearranging the player’s idea of how and why the actions which are possible in the game affect the game’s world, and by metaphorical resonance, his own world. This rearranging must be either of a different *kind* than ordinary media can elicit, or be *faster* than would otherwise be possible. So we’re aiming for two things, faster learning, and the teaching of altogether *different* ideas. The author of the game must clearly, then, be able to go into his own experience vividly and with a mind sufficiently analytical and mechanical to be able to find resonant correspondances in the realm of computer programming. Cause-and-effect is such a sine-qua-non of computer programming that the author must have an astute sense of the cause-and-effect relationships of things in the world.

Games de-personalize real world events. Instead of your getting married to your sweetheart, a game would accumulate typical information about marriage per se, and only understand your marriage with respect to all other marriages. The more variables it used, the greater would be the sophistication of its marriage-comprehension capacity. Inaccurate parallels abound, in which the variables the games use simply don’t align with their real-world counterparts – therefore the history of games is as much about how games’ attempts to simulate reality are pared back to accommodate the limitations of the computers as it is about successful simulations – perhaps more so. Apart from some aesthetic appreciation the player might have, of the natural strengths and weaknesses of computers when they try to simulate reality, this is perhaps their greatest weakness. Quite good in some ways, I think, but bad in most ways. Therefore the continued struggle to make games which rival the other media in many areas, particularly with regard to the intricacies of human relationships.

The game artist has an equally good sense of his inner experience and of what computers can and can’t do. He also of course must know the relative production costs of the computer’s abilities, and design accordingly. He must find ways to turn players’ actions into more efficient teaching mechanisms than would be possible in ordinary narrative media. Game development is no simple matter, to my understanding, which means that generally speaking it’s harder to turn a thought into a game than into traditional literature. When it comes to film, I’m not sure, and I can imagine the two are closer to even in difficulty, depending on the thought, of course, since computers have clear strengths and weaknesses as mentioned above, as do films. Therefore, making a game should be worth the advantage gained in teaching versus its comparative development cost. That was a bit of a tangent there.

Alright, I’m just spilling out things I’m thinking, working ever so slowly piece by piece toward something, I assume.

2.4 Nature and My Discontents

Nature has its own idea of how things are supposed to get done. For some reason, I’ve never been able to accomplish anything I set out to do. But there is nonetheless something which allows me to do certain things. I’ve talked about it before. For this article I’m going to refer to it as nature.

The reason I bring this up is that I have often witnessed other people accomplishing things I wish I were able to accomplish. The thing which hits home the most is video game development, but I’ve never written a play or a novel, created anything with my hands – really this blog is it. It’s the only thing I’ve done.

Pretty sad, from one light. But from another light I can say that I entrust my fate to nature in a religious sort of way. Nature is an instinctive force I can neither resist nor control, but it’s also the only place I’ve ever found any motivation. So long as I compare my fate to any one of the variety of fates I desire, I’m bound to be disappointed, since I’ve achieved no life goals except honesty and being true to my original core – my nature.

So is my nature to do nothing? To fail? Well, I don’t know. It seems to work more slowly than any of my desires wishes it would. Why don’t I just latch onto one of those desires and forget about nature? I don’t know that either, because everyone else does just that. I guess I have no essential faith in specific desires or in my ability to follow any of them toward a single goal. I suspect that what is happening is that following any one desire means sacrificing aspects I find important in the other ones. What I’m calling nature, therefore, is a thought process which takes place in me automatically, which weaves and integrates the various desires such that none is permitted to abandon the others.

The theme I refer to as “saving the world” is related to this as well. So how did “the world” get involved all of a sudden? I suppose what I mean is that many of the interweavings of the various desires performed by “nature” reveal conflicts which many people, not merely myself, leave ignored. By taking these collisions of desires against each other seriously, I may be differentiating and bringing to consciousness problems which are important not simply as the resolution to my own desires, but to common patterns of the collisions of desire. Now it doesn’t seem particularly glamorous when stated this way, but the reason I am willing to subject myself to the activities of “nature” instead of honing in on specific desires is that some part of me believes that it’s important to the whole world. I’ve struggled trying to define what saving the world means, but I do recognize that I am personally able to endure many things I would otherwise not be able to endure by believing I’m saving the world. Is it a delusion, a psychological crutch? Or is it actually the case, not the least of the reasons for which actuality is because at some point I simply chose to believe it?

Regardless of whether the world is involved, I do submit to this mess of cancellations called nature. That certainly is its most frustrating aspect – it cancels all my other desires before I’ve seen them to the satisfaction they want. But it seems to know what it’s doing just the same. Perhaps it knows when to rein in any given desire which has been given too much leeway. I hardly know its purpose, but it is the most powerful force in my life. It has its own opinions on everything I might otherwise choose to do logically or methodically. Perhaps in other people who are the opposite of me, it would actually force them to be more logical instead.

Take this blog, for example. Nature is now promoting the idea that I post once per day. So it wants systematic behavior, but only on the things it chooses, and not on the things I would choose – video games, music, some kind of more formal and structured writing such as a novel or a screenplay. I wanted a Youtube channel for a week or so, but nature didn’t want that, and it told me so. Hopefully it will change its mind about that because I think I would be a pretty compelling person in the audio-visual medium, but somehow I feel I have no control over what nature wants and allows.

I don’t really trust my own ideas, either. I’m not saying I’m smarter than whatever I’m calling nature. My failure can be attributed most directly to the fact that I’m not confident about my own ideas. But this blog is only here because of nature – it’s nature’s idea, more so than my own. What bothers me is why nature doesn’t seem to want me to do much else.

The only reasonable answer is that it has its own mysterious way of doing things, including thinking secretly about things which it doesn’t let my conscious brain know about. If I have no faith in my conscious brain, then I guess that’s sad in and of itself, but that doesn’t mean it’s nature’s fault. It’s only natural to want to blame something which is keeping secrets from you, I suppose. It doesn’t help me at all with what I should do with my life though. If nature is completely autonomous then there’s really not that much to say about it after all. But people take credit for it anyway. For example, it would be awkward for me not to take credit for the existence of this blog even though I claim that it’s nature which is allowing me to write it.

Not that I even *want* to take credit for this blog, but it would be awkward and it wouldn’t really make sense to people if I didn’t. It’s just that only, say, one part in nine is due to the fact that I want to write it – I want to do all sorts of other things which nature doesn’t want me to do. The other eight parts of the reason the blog exists are because nature wants it. Therefore, waiting for nature to figure things out constitutes a huge portion of my life, despite my not having any control over it.

2.3 Deflating My Blogging Ego a Little Further

I have to admit it. This blog is the ugly result of the fact that I have nothing else to do. However, it is one more thing than I used to have. But I think it is rather clear that if a blog is your only work-related activity, it will suffer.

My view of the situation is this. There are a bunch of stars, or asteroids, which symbolize all people. They have nothing to do with one another. They are not within each other’s orbits. Of course, there are a few who do have meaningful interactions, but mainly the stars are outside each other’s field of influence.

This disconnectedness – it’s not what most people think of when they think of people, but I feel it directly. I simply have no meaningful daily connections with people who need anything from me. So I look for answers but, either because of flaws, virtues, or just bad luck, what I find hasn’t given me the focus I need.

I’m writing because I decided that it’s better if I do than if I don’t. While I might wish what I write were *good*, I’m not sure I know how to guarantee that. What I’m doing represents the degree to which *I take an interest in myself*. That is, since I feel severely that my daily activities are not important to others, I can at least acknowledge that I myself take an interest in them. But the truth is that I don’t take *enough* interest in them to write more than one article per day, or to necessarily do a very good job with it.

Therefore there is an inevitable ugliness, I think, to what I’m doing. My argument is that ugliness is better than total absense. I argue that to myself, that is. I value my own life just enough to put one little thing into the world everyday, but not much more than that.

So what does this mean to the readers? Well, I’m not sure that my valuing my own life in such a fashion therefore makes for great reading. I can imagine just as many people being repelled from this blog as being attracted to it.

There is, of course, the glimmer of hope which publication in general and the Internet in particular make possible. Just knowing the number of *potential* readers (or *viewers*, if this were a video channel, e.g.) makes me feel connected to all the other asteroids. Certainly this is a weird feeling our culture hasn’t quite fully understood, in the same way that it took a while to fully understand the psychology of film and music celebrity, including various martyrdoms like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson. The nature of the Internet will produce certain tropes like this. In particular I have no idea how a simple blogger with hardly any technical skill, or even, as mentioned above, much self-confidence, could embody the kind of celebrity which, in theory if not in practice, is possible for such a blog because of the Internet medium itself.

That glimmer of hope is a little bit of mystery which can only be revealed through the passage of time. How much of the reason I write a blog and not just write, say, in my private journal, is due to that little pot at the end of the rainbow; how much is due to the convenience of allowing people I meet to be able to find out more about me; finally, how much is due to the personal convenience I find in having a blog as opposed to paper copies – I will estimate these things. I’d say that the glimmer of hope constitutes approximately 12 percent of why I’m blogging. The ability to refer friends and acquaintances to my work constitutes 80 percent of why I blog, and the personal convenience of having the Internet store and make available for editing the work is the rest (8 percent).

I think the true nature of my work, the psychoanalytical underpinning, is to be found in the 12 percent which is based upon the glimmer of hope. If there really is reason to hope that this blog will become famous and important somehow, then that 12 percent is worthwhile, but if that’s just a pipe dream, then I’m indeed wasting that 12 percent. Whatever part of the 12 percent I’m wasting – that part would be a direct indicator of how realistic *any* sense I have of myself actually is. Ideally I hope I’m not wasting any of it, that someday this blog will actually reach and affect, in important ways, people I’ve never even met.

But I have enough experience to know that I could be blowing my chances out of proportion – i.e. perhaps only 1 or 2 percent of my energy for blogging really ought to be invested in fantasies of fame. If only 2 percent is proper to the glimmer of hope, that indicates that I’m precisely 10 percent *delusional* about who I am and about what my life means to the world. That ten percent is just pure self-delusion which would probably turn into a suicidal instinct if I were forced to expose it.

If I knew for a fact I would never become important to anyone I never met personally (and possibly not even to anyone whom I did), how would I act? What part of my ego would need to deflate itself?

It took me a while to think about this question. I could just stop here and leave it as a rhetorical question, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t just tell you where my mind went. Eventually I got back to the theme of a couple articles ago, which boiled down to the question, how does it feel to learn that God has no intention of doing anything about Evil? That there is a middle ground, a no man’s land, between what people *deserve* and what they get. That virtue can only take you so far, and that pure chance (i.e. the Devil) must do the rest.

It feels nerve-wracking and bad. It only feels good because things which resonate with the truth feel good, but not because it feels good per se, because it actually feels bad per se. But Jung says somewhere that it’s a famous saying that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

2.2 Attaining Great Heights of Wisdom

Here is yet again another article in which I try to attain great heights of wisdom when beginning from nothing much.

The previous sentence counts, in this case, for “nothing much”, because it suggests to me an idea. Edward F. Edinger, Jungian psychologist, writes in his book Anatomy of the Psyche, of seven alchemical operations which have their parallels in psychology. The idea of beginning from nothing much and attaining “great heights of wisdom” is reminiscent of the alchemical “sublimatio” operation. Each element – earth, air, fire, water – has its own operation. Sublimatio is the operation for air. In alchemy, you would heat up a liquid in a covered glass container. The dew which formed at the top of the container would represent the spirits escaping from the original substrate and moving towards heaven. There is thus an upward-downward separation. The most intense modern reaction – the nuclear mushroom cloud, has a bit of this separation as the hot cloud moves up from the place of original detonation. The nuclear example is extreme, because it also invokes calcinatio, the operation for fire. But the psychology of air is dryness and abstraction, which means therefore that it signifies here the intense intellect, the abstract mathematics and engineering, which made the bomb possible. The sublimatio is about *purity* and about what can be achieved with the abstract intellect – quite a lot in this case, although it’s almost entirely destructive. The negative aspect is that a person who is all intellect and no concrete experience needs to “come back down to earth”. Each operation, therefore, has a good side and a bad side.

In the last few decades the American economy has experienced the emptying of the middle class. People previously middle class either have gone up to the wealthy class or down to the poorer class. I suspect that this separation of the middle class into high and low components reflects an unconscious archetype which is trying to express itself but has found no other avenue. The people who are increased in wealth are reflecting the sublimatio archetype, while those becoming poorer are running into the operation for earth, called coagulatio. Liberals complain about what’s happening, and conservatives seem to believe that God is doing it, but no one takes my own position, that when an archetype expresses itself, then it should be studied. We clearly don’t know enough about this archetype, this pushing out from the middle into high and low.

Insofar as we are powerless to stop this archetype, we can at least analyze it. Our country has always thought of itself as favoring the rebel and the little guy. It’s not just a matter of rationally analyzing the effects of other places, such as France, in which there is a decidely more aristocratic feeling, and rejecting them because of their flaws. I don’t like to think about it, but most of America does very little self-reflecting at all. Thus we favor the little guy without even analyzing the pros and cons.

The separating archetype, which is expressing itself now as rich get richer and poor get poorer, appears to be an aristocratic instinct expressing itself unconsciously, in a country where aristocracy is taboo. But in my opinion, what we need to do is to take a serious look at the advantages of aristocracy. Instead, we have a fundamentalist taboo in place against this very type of discussion. We could wait indefinitely for the common man to get us out of this mess, but so long as the common man is unwilling to permit making distinctions between himself and any other type person, he is only feeding the problem.

There are two basic types of distinction, those of natural talent and those of experience. Specifically, the taboo in our country is against anyone claiming that certain people who are brought up for certain roles and positions in society can expect to have any more ability to perform those roles than those not brought up to perform them. This isn’t a problem for someone with an enormous natural talent, because said person can expect to be welcomed into any section of society she can excel at. The question is for the much, much larger pool of people with modest natural talents who may seek stability in income and career. Can those people’s needs ultimately be properly addressed if there are no social classes? That’s the discussion we’re not having and which I wish we could have.

So I have started from nothing much and achieved lofty heights of wisdom. I may have skipped a lot of details, but that because I don’t know how to write a book, nor do I feel any need to write a book when I don’t really have a sense of what people care about. Not to mention that I may be of that personality type which must always leave detail absent because it takes most of my energy just to state the primary things. But besides all that I have achieved said lofty heights of wisdom.

2.1 Rolling Meteoroids – Going Deeper

I was thinking that the meteoroid is a good metaphor for the psychic condition of modern individuals. Unlike the universe as portrayed by Star Trek, we humans find ourselves stuck on a planet which doesn’t seem to have enough room for us all. Whether the resources we drain now are producing permanent scars from which the children of the future will never recover, or whether it actually is possible to recover from what we do, we aren’t escaping from this planet anytime soon.

The more recent translation of a Bible passage promoted by the Catholic Church runs, “The Kingdom of God is among you,” which suggests that the Church believes that something which can’t be found within any individual person can nonetheless be found among the herd. This is the Star Trek mentality – if one planet doesn’t work, find another one, i.e. the solution is to be found among the variety of things available, not within any given one of them.

The more traditional translation of the same passage, which runs according to my own beliefs, is “the Kingdom of God is *within* you.” For whatever reason, the modern Church takes a stand against an individual’s use of his own resources as a means to produce salvation. Be that as it may, I believe that reality confirms this view, especially when looked from the perspective of the whole planet and humans’ wish for space travel. Space travel and subsequent colonization of distant planets is completely denied us. Fiction made us want to look outward for solutions which we now know aren’t there.

That means we must learn to dive inwards, toward self-knowledge, but we aren’t doing a very good job, in my opinion. Thus, I find a lonely person of the modern condition to be like an meteoroid, floating above and out of reach, unable to bring itself down to earth, desperate, lonely, and powerless. The psyche of an individual who hasn’t found a place to connect in the world, floating just above it.

In Jungian psychology, the Ego has three primary functions at its disposal, which are good enough for most people throughout their lives. Occasionally a person is called upon to “fetch” the use of the fourth function from the darkness of his own psychic terrain. Now an meteoroid rotates helplessly in space, like a rolling stone, but even more “on its own,” because there’s no bottom place where it naturally comes to rest due to the force of gravity. Having no power, not just in *two dimensions*, as would a rock falling down along the topography of a map as seen from above, but powerless in *three* dimensions – here you have the truly desperate modern soul, with only luck and chance to determine its destiny.

Even in Bob Dylan’s song, the fancy schools and institutions are set up as the crumbling towers, suggesting that these institutions are the real source of ego in the world. But an inflated ego can come from anywhere, not just from wealthy people who come from good schools. A working class person who never had any intention of going to school can nonetheless feel the emptiness of modern life, although it may be rarer. It seems to me that the emptiness is available to *anyone* who has a hard time fitting in.

So, anyway, a meteroid is rootless and powerless in all three spatial dimensions, symbolizing the powerlessness of the three primary functions of ego consciousness. Only time, the fourth dimension, can hope to resolve said meteoroid’s problem. As a side note, the knowledge of all the other meteoroids is reminiscent of Sting and the Police’s “Message in a Bottle”.

To summarize (?), that’s what the Internet (?) has done to us. To me anyway. It’s turned me from a stone to a Rolling Meteroid which can’t even rely on solid earth anymore – for example, organic farming, returning to “nature” – it’s quite possible to see through these things as well as everything else. Inorganic and eternal, and yet by cosmic standards insignificant. Alright, that didn’t make complete sense, but it’s all because I feel so dizzy, spinning around like this.

So, what do you think? How does it feel to be a Rolling Meteroid?

1.5 Capitalism, Media, Advertising, or the Dupes Who Watch It – Who’s To Blame?

The Unicorn, commenter on this blog, started a conversation way back in article 11, which I hope to continue in this article. His last comment began:

“Capitalism inevitably and unavoidably creates envy because it inevitably produces a large group of people who cannot participate in consumption to the extent that they see represented by the media and the illusion of success presented all around them (ie–people living in houses and driving fancy cars that they can’t afford but make people think that they can). Capitalism dangles this tantalizing carrot of equality giving everyone the illusion of hope. The spoils of success are not designed for everyone because if everyone could succeed equally, it would defy the natural laws of normal distribution.”

We’ve got to differentiate between *capitalism*, *electronic media*, and *advertising*. To put all of the blame on capitalism ignores the important development of what are called “media studies”. Can we blame “capitalism” for the invention of the motion picture? Not unless we’re in the business of blaming capitalism for *everything*. (If we *are* in the business of blaming capitalism for everything, at some point I would hope we examine how we got into this business and why we’re still in it.)

The motion picture was one of many communications technologies which changed the world. I’ve been reading and watching a certain brilliant author who knows a lot about these things by the name of John David Ebert, whose youtube channel is watchable here:

http://www.youtube.com/johndavidebert

and whose website is here:

http://www.cinemadiscourse.com/

The book of his I’m currently reading is called *The New Media Invasion: Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake*. This book is about digital technologies, but the author is versed in the whole history of media studies, not to mention almost the whole history of, well, history. I have to say that he has the kind of mind which can threaten to swallow a person whole, which means that, in order to make my argument, I can only take a small slice of the total number of things he is capable of talking about. But that small slice is this: in addition to “capitalism”, you should add “media” to the list of things which affect the modern psyche. Now media means two things, the technologies and the things which are communiated through them.

The first argument is that the technologies themselves change the world, which argument I can hardly disagree with. The existence of radio, TV, internet, film, recorded music… all of these would have changed the world they were born into no matter *what* economic system was in place. Capitalism began using these technologies in particular ways, but that’s different from the simple fact that technologies, made available to and used by enough people, will change their lives.

Next, we may become critical of how the technologies are being used, and immediately politics and economics become genuine factors in the discussion. At the same time, I would say that in order to truly blame capitalism for what’s going on, you can only do it in two ways. The first is through “Hollywood”. Hollywood traditionally succeeds by collecting money directly for providing the movie goer with an experience. Now I simply refuse to say that capitalism is bad for allowing people to attend or to refuse to watch any movie they want – if you want to get rid of free choice with regard to the viewing of films, forcing people to watch certain things or banning other things – well, I’d rather have the system we have.

The second avenue for capitalism in media is, of course, advertising. Here I think Unicorn’s argument has some traction. Let’s ignore “capitalism”, per se, and focus only on modern advertising which is actually only one part of capitalism as a whole. Unicorn’s comment continues:

“The capitalist model is ultimately a projection of James Joyce’s views on what constitutes “proper art” and what constitutes “improper art.” Joseph Campbell illuminates this topic in his book “Mythic Worlds, Modern Words.” He explains how Joyce viewed proper art as being a static experience for the beholder where the viewer is held in a state of “esthetic arrest” whereas “improper art” is kinetic in that it moves the beholder to desire the object to want to possess. This is pornography, as Campbell would go on to explain. Basically, the capitalist model propagates a pornographic approach to life where people cannot bring the presence to their experience of life on a daily basis. People are constantly preoccupied with feeling dissatisfied and envious of some “better life” that is escaping them. As a result, members of society are in a pathological state of disconnection from themselves in others thinking that the key to salvation and happiness is that next thing that they don’t have. We don’t inhabit our bodies with a sense of belongingness. Instead, we feel that our right to be here and have a good life is external to us.”

The argument, “People are constantly preoccupied with feeling dissatisfied and envious of some “better life” that is escaping them,” is a conditional one. They are preoccupied with feeling dissatisfied and envious *so long as they believe* the advertising they are exposed to. This brings up the important question. So… just how *good* are people at detecting illusion and phoniness? This question could be asked in the general sense and specifically with regard to modern advertising.

Certainly it’s easy to see the big bad wolf in those advertisers who “take advantage” of otherwise innocent “consumers” of their messages. It’s real – I don’t deny it outright. What is more rarely talked about and what interests me, however is the fact that people actually *want* to be fooled by the glitz and the glamour of the world. They’re not just innocent little lambs. It could be argued that they play along *knowing full well* that they are being subjected to an illusion. There are a lot of people who won’t admit it, but who deep down don’t have a very high opinion of themselves, and often for very good reasons. To some extent, just being presented with the *illusion* of significance is good enough. Just to know that some brilliant advertiser (or Hollywood film-maker) out there cares enough about them to show them a view of life they could hardly hope to lead – that’s all they need.

Of course, you’re right, Unicorn, many many people will not be satisfied with just watching glamorous things. But I should say that what people watch is often glamorous precisely *because* it’s unattainable for the majority. We enter now into the vast and rarely discussed topic of psychological projection. One of the biggest secrets I ever learned was that for many people, their projection about their reality is more important to them than their reality itself. We *need* Hollywood and glamour for this very reason. It is indeed only *some* people who want reality over fantasy, and not even the majority, if I had to guess.

Yes, you are right about proper art versus pornography. But some people *want* pornography – it’s more meaningful to them than reality would be – and you have to take these people into account.

What say ye, Sir Unicorn of the Evets Clan?

1.4 A Rolling Meteoroid in Cyberspace with No Direction Home

The Rolling Stone continues. Is there gravity in Cyberspace? Which metaphor is apter, a stone, or a meteoroid? A Rolling Meteroid in Cyberspace, with no direction home. You stare into the vacuum of his eyes, and realize he’s not selling any alibis. That’s how it goes, but you’re reading, so let’s figure out if I can’t sell you something.

There’s a lot on my mind, but not much I actually want to say. Of course, I don’t have to admit as much. I could keep that to myself, and produce someomthing anyway. Many times I do precisely that. So of what advantage to say it?

It’s casual blog post. Dress down. Nor am I really known for being much of a partier, so perhaps I’m actually giving up a lot by being so casual. When you ain’t got nothin, you got nothin to lose. Sometimes my high-and-mighty tone mixes with a folksy sort of feeling.

That is actually something I can write about… I noticed how I take different tones in this blog. Am I the “proper” thinker, hoping to get away with “civilized” discussion – am I (Kelsey Grammar’s) “Frasier”, in other words? Sometimes I’m just pure desperation – like now, I’d have to say I’m pure desperation right now, if I had to say. But then again, I’m trying to be less desperate than I used to be.

Stream of consciousness… I think I’m a little less stream of consciousness. It hurts the quality of the writing when I switch tones mid-post, certainly. That’s got to be a lesson virtually any writer learns. This blog post exists because of *obligation*. I can’t convince myself I’m the person I think I am and want to be, unless I’m doing *something* at this point.

Next post I’ll definitely come back stronger. I’ve got a couple topics in reserve, some of them suggested by commenters Two Lights and Unicorn. I’ll run through them, but today it’s casual Saturday… not that I care what day it is, rather it’s casual Saturday because of the fortuitous convergence of both Saturday and the day I decided to be casual. Why today, you may ask? Well, some days I’m casual. I can only look back later to see whether this post was good enough to merit my decision to “let go”.

What the world doesn’t know can’t hurt it. Conversely, what the world doesn’t know actually could hurt it. Opposites. Maybe I believe that I must become a public person because the world “needs” me. Yet that feeling could be a delusion. The world is already doing just fine without me, so why does it “need” me? The world could benefit from my presence in it. Certainly, though, that’s a common delusion. What’s wrong with believing things which make you feel good? Well, so long as you intend to be *harmless*, believe anything you like. Everybody else will just roll along.

They will notice you if you’re a threat. Believing a delusion which is obvious to everyone but yourself… you’re not a threat then. What if the truth is just pure misery? Believe the delusion. But what if the truth is that the world actually *does* need you? Well, then, who needs me?

What if the only people who need you are people whom the world doesn’t itself need? Then I’m needed by people whom neither I nor anybody else needs. How could I be happy being dependent upon such people?

Doesn’t the world *need* everybody? Well, technically, I guess, if you’re playing at bright and rainbow-colored theology. The traditional God thinks you’re important. God’s love. Hippies and Christians alike. That’s fine. But isn’t it too vague to be of any real use? What was the problem which brought this subject up in the first place?

Was it *whether I’m important or not*? Or rather, what do I do now? If I knew I were needed, what would I do? I would do what I was needed for. If I knew I weren’t needed, then I suppose my role would be to simply take as much advantage of what’s here as possible. Would I be evil? Perhaps, but that could just as well be the fault of whatever created me to begin with not to be needed. That’s the core question of an evil person – why love a God which doesn’t love you back?

Even if God loves me more than he loves a lot of other people, I still can hardly blame the other people for being evil. Myself, maybe – if God actually does love you, then it is your responsibility to be good. It’s all those people whom God doesn’t love – those people are justified in being evil… yes, I am the type of person who has the guts to just come right out and say it. And God is on my side on this one too – if God ever had any intention of doing anything about evil, then the first thing he’d do is to start loving *everybody*, not just that smaller section of the population who *feel* loved.

God has no intention of doing anything about evil. It seems so obvious, when I put it into simple language like that. It’s not even up to God to respond himself to his deficiency. It’s *people* who must respond to God’s position, whether you’re bitter, or depressed, or actually able to shrug off the impact of the thought.

The real question is the same as Bob Dylan’s question, but with a different object. How does it *feel* to learn that God has no intention of doing anything about evil? Because how it feels dictates how people respond, which in turn is the only effect that the truth of this revelation will have on the world. Not knowing how it feels… not knowing how it feels is responding to it unconsciously instead of consciously.

On the other hand, it seems a monumental undertaking to bring all that stuff to consciousness. But *some* people will have to learn how it feels, I think. Perhaps, according to old stories, some people are *chosen*. I say this because it seems to me no one would ever choose himself. It’s too monumental an undertaking.

There was something about when a thought is had, by *somebody*, it registers in the Unconscious of mankind. A hidden ripple, which of course would be unnecessary if the effects were obvious. But to me it feels like a hidden ripple although perhaps, in “God’s eyes” or something, it is obvious. People need to inflate their own significance when no one else will – I guess it’s a battle of wills whether they get to write history or not. What I mean is that one person, with a powerful force of will, can overturn an entire tide of people with lesser ideas. Or you could have a rather humorous perversion of this phenomenon, as in the case of Nietzsche, who went mad while still pushing his ideas through into the next generation. Success or failure? I can’t argue against either. To be more specific: his body was destroyed but his ideas live on.

1.3 A Rolling Stone in Cyberspace Talking About Lobbyists, Commoners, and Who Knows What Else?

Life is an hourglass. It’s not a new thought, but at least there’s a little drama, thinking of it that way. Today was slow again. Maybe I’m subconsciously seeking a challenge. I always think of the video game whenever I think about what I should do.

I don’t program the game, I just think about it.

But maybe there’s another challenge, less abstract, bigger than the blogathon but smaller than a complete game, available to me. That rules out writing this post… I’m not really sure what to say today, but I’m working on it.

Yes, sometimes my mind wanders off into a fantasy world in which I make money and am important. But I am still a few steps away from there. Life is risk. But what risks to take?

Is my fundamental flaw being satisfied with less than others are satisfied with, therefore I don’t try as hard to change things? Am I indeed secretly satisfied with my poverty and relative insignificance? No I don’t think that’s quite it.

Is aristocracy fundamental to human relationships, merely resurfacing in secret form when it is officially suppressed? Is it the aristocrats who play the role of true leaders in the world, where the “commoners” merely survive on pure instinct, day-by-day with no planning? Is an aristocrat born or made? Should a natural-born leader… oh, enough already! I knew I should stop when I damn near forgot what I was going to say…

Is a relatively arbitrary network by which an aristocracy supports itself actually fundamental to civlization as we know it? Should I aspire to be part of that network, or to reject it based on principle? Of course, the very fact that I have principles in the first place may be due to the network which supports the civilization in which said principles are formed. Therefore I must reject the very notion that the network is arbitrary. The network must *in some way* be based on merit.

If the commoners can be kept in line by something as simple as bribes, then why should the aristocracy blame its own high status in the world? No, we don’t really have a visible aristocracy in America, unless you count the Banks and other rich people. But what I don’t know and would appreciate discovering is how much the aristocracy can really only be blamed on the “commoners” who live with it and allow it. How much of my whiteness and how much of my attitude towards life was formed by the socio-economic class I was raised in? Was it or was it not part of the aristocracy?

Is *any* part of the modern world being kept secret from us, or is it only our short-sightedness and delusions of grandeur which make us think “someone is out to get us!”? Admittedly, it’s been said that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you. Yet much of what commoners complain about is indeed their own paranoia.

Not to forgive the aristocrats, either. Although I shoot arrows up from my little backwater blog (and to tell you the truth, with *my* politics, I don’t even know who I am trying to hit anymore!), from everything I’ve seen, the aristocrats *aren’t that smart either* – they aren’t doing the kind of analysis which really exempts them from the flack the commoners are trying to fling at them.

The commoners are paranoid, the aristocrats are inflated. Where does a man put his chips down in this crazy world of ours?

To be a little less vague (just a little), I think my argument brings up the issues from article 12 of the blogathon, Territoriality and Politics, part 2. I tried to say that power was not about disputes between landmasses called countries, districts, counties, etc., but between *industries*. Now, in analyzing how industries use power, we must look at when the needs of two industries are in line with each other – say, both tourism *and* logging benefit from the use of safe roads – and when the two are in opposition to each other – clear-cutting ruins the view, say.

These things need to be documented, places where industries align and where they differ. These should be the main stuff of politics. How people voted into office by those contained within landmasses defined on a map could be in a position to master the conflicts between these industries, I do not know, but I do know that the problems get solved one way or another, typically by lobbyists in the U.S.A. The reason the lobbyists have so much sway is because the needs of their industries are indeed more important to the lives of everyone than the needs of the people confined within one region outlined on a map, whose grouping is actually more artificial, I am beginning to believe, than the groupings of the lobbyists, who fight systematically for their industries wherever they can, including extending their influence across *international* borders. All these borders make the people, who, at this time anyway, only have the right to vote for people within the confines of their own districts (counties, countries, etc.), less powerful. The people would actually have to start thinking like lobbyists if they ever want to matter the same way.

Not that I trust “the people”, mind you. I’d gladly remove as much influence over politics as I possibly could from most people I’ve met. Yet it seems obvious that the world can work no other way than to let people vote from within borders on a map, and to have the politicians be swayed when it comes to the important business of ruling the planet by the lobbyists, who actually have logical reasons for the positions they promote.

As I said, the real issue is when lobbyists collide. That’s where most of the real decisions must be made. Lobbyist vs. lobbyist. But I sort of already said that, right? I’d like to see more news reported “When Lobbyists Collide”. That’s where we need to see the news coming from.

Alright, I guess that’s an article. Perhaps the reader will see my viewpoints gradually clearing up. Then it’s time to Rock N’ Roll, but still I’m just blogging into cyberspace. Where do I Rock N’ Roll to? I guess that means I *know how it feels* to have no direction home like a rolling stone… who’d have thought of that?