The Righteous Mind – A Review and/or Contemplation

I used to describe myself as atheist at some point in my life.  Vehemently opposed to worshipping a deity.Someone who could point to the ineradicable logic of Doug Stanhope. Pointing in ridicule at the absurdity of certain portions of The Bible wondering how someone could believe such nonsense.

I feel superior in a way. Yet, here I remain, alone in another impression. As if there was a dichotomy of my existence. The rational versus the unintelligible.  I know my existence is futile, and also wish to be sublimated into a greater totality.

I read more than most. The American average is around seven books read per year. Four if you count the 25% of people who do not read any books in a year. I average around three hours a day reading. Varying on the length and difficulty this means about thirty to fifty books in a year.

This feeds that ego. This makes me enlightened. Or well read as referred by the average American. My intuition though mocks my intellect at its pseudo profundity. My intuition tells me to immerse and commune amongst them. I interact then am reminded how poorly the results of that has went so far.

Why does it feel that I care more than others? I have gone through a vegan stage in my life. That made me feel part of the good team. “How dare you perpetuate the horror of mammalian suffering!”  Then there is also the perpetual libertarian ideology creeping into any argument. “If looking at statistics, since the implementation of affirmative action and minimum wage laws, the outcomes of the minorities has only worsened.” My logic was impervious to criticism in these areas. Why couldn’t everyone agree with me?!

My mind feels absolutely correct and right. And this is why my systemizing brain welcomed and adored The Righteous Mind  by author Jonathan Haidt. It is an astounding book that informs how a person’s perspective of morality conforms to their political belief systems.

The book is really separated into three different concepts. The first dealing with how Western thought exalts reason.Western ideology is that the ideal man is rational first, with the rational (pre-frontal cortex) subjugating the lower animalistic functions of the brain afterwards.

Plato is noted in one of his works as positing that man should have reason subjugate the baser emotional functions. He is noted for saying that a man who lets emotions predominate his life will be reincarnated as a woman (the horror!).Thomas Jefferson comes in with the hopes that reason and his emotional love for a French woman could hopefully be partners. Sadly though David Hume seems the most correct when he analyzes that emotions dominate and then later reason justifies whatever happened.

Without reason, there is little justification in morality. At least that is the way

Later on at the end I will offer a commentary past a review that the book does not parlay the information

People interpret my silent demeanor as denoting intelligence when in actuality I just do not know what the proper response or action entails.

I am cautiously optimistic about myself.  I do not foresee a bright future for others. It seems as if there is a producer who has pigeon-holed people for a role that they unwittingly act out. The liberal caretakers who wish for no others to incur the harm of risk. The gun toting conservative who says that it was the devil who made him do so. Then the libertarians who systematize that the free market, and only the free market, will make existence palpably good.

There sometimes creeps into this consciousness of mine interacting with others. Once I get beyond this manifestation of my own ego, there remains this pittance of listening to others. I don’t want it to be a pittance, and yet that is what I feel. Their concerns seem more pertinent to my own. Their worries far more worrisome to what matters to living. Kids, love (or loves), protecting what is sacrosanct to my own beliefs , relaying an expectation of what one nonchalantly  formerly sought after, and here this person remains in a state of worry I find hard to relate to. With knowledge pertaining to apparatuses divergent from my path, why does this path seem far less worthy than the one I espouse in my own mind? Only my belief that my path that I have wrought has more value to progeny than theirs. Yet, where can I validate this? How does one validate such a claim?

Then I escape to my drug of choice. These thoughts don’t lead to anything than to my own angst into dealing with how others relate to the outside world.

And here I remain, pondering how to transcend my menial state as if their concerns held no weight. As if what they have tried to

Things to work on today

When I look back at my life, or at least what I have interpreted through my current imagination (since accurate representation of pat events does not actually exist), it seems that I was infatuated under the belief that experiences are things that I observe. Go to a concert and watch the performer. Go to a sporting event and watch the professional athletes showcase their hard earned practice. I wanted to see the world, but not feel the dirt.

The things that I have a better understanding than most is maintaining an efficient computer, playing cards, and reading books at a somewhat rapid rate. These things I have learned because I have spent many hours into refining how to utilize them. But still, none of what I know, or have tried to learn, would say that I have pushed myself. I easily get to a point where complacency sets in then angst soon follows.

From this point, I want to keep track of the hours where deliberate effort is exerted. By that I mean the hours where my brain just really really does not want to continue doing what I know I should be doing at the moment. The best analogy I can think of is trying to get into meditation. Sitting calmly, focusing on nothing but breathing for thirty minutes, my mind will find any of a number of reasons why I need to go do something. And that is a problem.

There are many activities I start and wish to try to get better at them. Then it starts to get difficult and I find something easier to set upon. But what is that but not just conforming back to comfortably? That is the opposite of pushing myself, and soon enough the angst shall return.

Many of the activities that I could be doing are put aside because my wayward mind knows what it wants. My mind so easily goes asunder, yet I feel that I am in more control now than I have been ever in my life. Still, there is not at least five occasions a day that I get upset over rather frivolous events caused by my inability for people to conform to what I want them to express or act. I cannot control them, yet can I control my own thoughts? I would like to think I could.

An essay on the best question I should always ascertain:

I highly suspect that these flickering screens have a very negative effect on my own ability to formulate the best course of action. It puts me into a particular fantasy where I need constant gratification or affirmation of my already held beliefs.

  • At times on the computer or on the smart phone, I used to just scroll as fast as possible. What I needed was entertainment and I need it NOW. Three paragraphs, TL;DR. ME WANT LAUGH NOW!!! I still occasionally do it, and eventually the realization comes in that is how I should not function. I would waste away hour after hour on stumbleupon or reddit or watch some mindless cartoon comedy for that desire to find something to chuckle at for half a second. +.5 seconds of positive use versus -3599.5 seconds of dissipation per hour. Not exactly something to be proud of.

 I have found that how I spend my time online mostly just leads to infatuation of my own preconceived conceit. The many hours I can spend just looking over material that I already adhere to is kind of mind boggling. I’ll read material I already believe to be true to confirm that my belief is still true. A tad redundant isn’t it?

I have also tried to read things from a  perspective that I particularly do not adhere to, but that does not seem to enlighten me. Just makes me question how one gets to that reality tunnel to think the world operates in that fashion. Then I go back to confirming my own reality tunnel at my preferred sites.

I have tried watching videos from all the major religions to see if there is some wisdom that I have not fallen privy to. It doesn’t seem to make me the wiser. If anything I just sort of stare passively at the medium until I hear something outrageous to my own notions of what “reality” is. Is that a good way to spend time?

How I spend my time is one of the few things under my own volitional control. This is not to say that the The Internet is not a great device to be used for the benefit of myself. It surely is. In fact it is the the greatest repository of knowledge that history has known so far. This is just to say how I utilize my time, a source that cannot be repleted, would be best spent if I could formulate how to better myself at all times.

The two questions that seem to encapsulate most of how my mind operates whenever I am not tapped into some other medium besides myself is one of two. The first is:

“How do I improve the current situation?”

This approach to life essentially always leads to virtuous conduct. A negative view may interpret this into a  hedonistic approach where one tries to, as the cliche goes, “live today like its the last.” The way to improve the current situation is to experience euphoria as quickly as one can acquire it by any means possible, as the intrepretation may hold. This viewpoint though seems to fall into the hedonic treadmill.

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the supposed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.[1] According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.

Actually, a refinement of the question I have asked myself would be “What is the most prudent action I can take currently?” This does not always mean that action is superior to non-action. Sometimes patience is preferred and other times acting now would stop the deleterious effects from furthering. Yet this question seems the best utilization of skill and good judgement in any situation I can fathom.

The other question my mind seems to particularly fall into is of a variant of:

“Why does [insert person(s) here]…”

This question most often leads to some condescending notion of my superiority over another.

“Why does he waste his time on mindless crap?

Why does she hoard all this useless garbage?

Why doesn’t he take some responsibility for his actions?”

None of these questions improve myself or the person I pass judgement on. It is an ego trap where I feel preeminent over another. These sort of questions I shall try to expunge from my vernacular.

What then is the most prudent action I can take over the next month.

  1. Further skills. I got a few books on how to draw. I should try to get good at that. Some may say that this skill is quite antiquated (or that there is no money in doing it), but I believe that the ability to draw is the ability to visualize accurately. I wanted to get into drawing after I had a notion appeal to me about what my life would look like if I continued drinking alcohol. Really want to get into it.
  2.  I got Rocksmith and a bass guitar. This also has to do with perception. I am not sure if I have perceived things quite accurately before this year.  For example in dealing with music, I will listen to some 70s Rock song that I have probably heard fifty times, and then I’ll try to just focus on each instrument individually while listening to it. I come to the realization that I have probably never even conceived that there was a bass guitar playing in the song, let alone following the rhythm of it.  Mostly just seemed to focused on the vocals I don’t always understand.
  3. Books. Got so many interesting books. 9 more to read to get to 100 read for 2014. Really looking forward to reading the 3 Lloyd Khan books as I want to build some house at some point in my life. And the best time to research it is when I’m motivated to doing it (probably right about now).
  4. Strength Training. Been lifting for a month. Finally can do some dips, but cannot do pull-ups. Will do this everyday though so if I train at it eventually I should do it. Try to shoot for forty minutes a day of some dumb bell exercises. Hammer curls make me feel very manly.

These seem like the four things I know I should do. And if you made it this far, thanks for reading. In some book (I think it was either Make It Stick or the power of habit) it mentions that sharing what you want to do with others makes it more likely that for you to actually do it. So there is my input. Maybe input your own in the comments?

Blues song draft

At first I did not know

The meaning of my soul

They said.  “Just follow your calling” So I smoked my bowl.

Searching for the meaning

Without sensing the point

Fuck it, hand me a beer

And light up that joint

Going off the deep end
Others remain at shore
I may fail to transcend
But I will not remain a bore.

Doesn’t it feel strange

My perceptions seem blind

Obsessing about that which does not change

Except for what my conceit opined

 

The path of the fatuous loon, why i started smoking, Part 1

I went off the deep end
Others remained at shore
I may fail to transcend
But I will not remain a bore

What separates the sane from the insane? The prevailing ethos in America says that there is a chemical imbalance in individual’s brain that renders them to appear to others as fatuous loons. Sadly, really, there seems very little factual documentation on what chemical components separates a person from his/her sanity. The way that antidepressants and the ilk prescribed by psychiatrists come to the conclusion that since, for example, a group of depressed peoples’ have lowered amounts of serotonin on the spinal fluid, that a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor will cure the problem. This invariably does alleviate short term depression, but does not actually cure the disease as a whole. Many a case sees the individual toward ever increasing prescriptions that further increase serotonin activity, or even doing the reversal and disinclining the serotonin towards breaking the blood-brain barrier. Serotonin production does try to regulate itself in humans though so combatting this innate procedure creates a perpetual battle (increasing or decreasing depending on the case) that doctors cannot seem to regulate at this moment.

This psychiatric scientific model does seem rather conjectural for me, but if things work better for some than they did for (perhaps myopic) self, then have at them. What this  series of articles explaining myself shall try to come to a conclusion on what made me, at least in my mind, and from what I have gathered upon the perception of others, seem more together in the mental faculties than those that were exhibited the years prior.

After a month long stay in two different mental hospitals, the last diagnosis was Bipolar I with psychotic features. Anyone that has been put into a mental hospital outside of their own volition because of bipolar tendencies invariably gets diagnosed with the Bipolar I distinction over the less innocuous Bipolar II or cyclothymia (that Stephen Fry admits to having). I will not deny the diagnosis was not without reason. Nor will I say that I have fully recovered. I probably was and still am under this distinction. Without proper care and understanding of the underlining symptoms, I fall privy to all its misgivings. Life seems a continual battle of discipline versus affliction.

So what got me there and how do I perceive myself a year removed from the “worst” of it? Before the point of loony bin incarceration, I really felt that sleep was optional. Not that I suffered from insomnia, just that I felt so ALIVE awake that sleep felt like something that only a mental weakling had to succumb to. Five months of staying awake routinely for 40+ hours, then crashing for 12-18 hours became the norm. Note, don’t try this at home.

It should also be noted that with my lack of social acumen towards dealing with other people (every test regarding introvert vs. extrovert seems to put me exactly at 100% introvert) fostered by this silly notion that I could gamble for my livelihood, I set my own hours. So one day bled into the next, waking up in my car or in some hotel somewhere then immediately spending the next forty hours holed up in some casino. Oh yes, did I mention that I thought it would be prudent to save on monthly housing by sleeping in my car/hotel? Do not try that on the backseat of your car.

But, I did do sort of well financially given the time structure that I was involved in along with the sample size of how many poker hands I was dealt given the period. At some point though, after traveling along the thoroughfare of Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Delaware, I wanted a break. Off toward North Carolina I headed with its new WSOP (World Series of Poker) circuit event in Cherokee, North Carolina. If I had it over again, I wish I would have just played poker there all day and all night. The action was so unbelievably soft, as they call it in poker terms (aka supremely easy), that I cannot believe I just did not salivate with the greed of an avarice lover. Alas though, I did not participate in much poker action. I had other ideas of what made my life meaningful, mainly megalomaniac delusion.

I believed I was the poet laureate for this generation. Mania has a way to do that to a person. Delusions somehow become manifested into reality even when the vast majority of encounters with people furrows into their brow a questioning countenance or a tone questioning if your own mental faculties have not deteriorated beyond repair. Flat out garble-dee-goo indecipherable drivel I put out. But at the time I thought, THIS IS BRILLIANCE REINCARNATE!!! It would not have been so humiliating if I only had thought, well, lets put this down for only my own eyes for later revival. I had to put this down for every person I have ever met to know how superior my poetic triumph was compared to their meaningless disposition towards life! You might want to look up the meaning of megalomaniac if you do not know what it means already.

After a few weeks of living the life of very little sleep, prodigal poet of drivel, I just felt the need to stop gambling. Despite the fact that it is really the only thing I know how to procure income for myself, I just decided to travel instead. Take a hiatus from the “working” world. Did I mention that I have never really had a full time job working for other people?

Then for the next month, the audio decibels cranked to the maximum in my traveling side show of insanity with Billy Joel Stranger album, Red Hot Chili Peppers “What Hits?” and The Band Greatest Hits, I hit the road to destination unknown. East, west, north, south, I had no previous conception of where I would go. Other than I had to be in California for my brother’s wedding in about a month and a half.

I cannot recall how many reiterations of “Fight Like a Brave” by Red Hot Chili Peppers I heard in that month, but that was by far the predominant mantra of the season. “Fight like a brave, don’t be a slave, no one can tell you that you got to be afraid!” If there was ever one song to repeat towards a bipolar maniac like me that wanted to foster complete insanity, I cannot tell you what else to listen to. Not only did I think my poetry was revolutionary idiom, now my behavior as a whole encapsulated the guiding beliefs that everyone shall be encumbered with because of my brief encounter. You see this guy act just like him or FAIL AT LIFE!

South Carolina came first on the places to visit after a two week hiatus in North Carolina. What I recall of North Carolina was the weather being absolutely splendid mostly spent either walking around or sitting down on a bench chain smoking cigarettes and writing line after line of horrendous tripe.

This should probably be an interlude on why I started smoking tobacco. The vast majority of people get addicted to it before the age of 18. It took me till 23 to start. It was after a weeknight rendezvous at a strip club in Tempe, AZ. I solicited the services for a “private” dance with one of the ladies of the finer sex. Then for some reason that I truly cannot recall how it ever got to that point (thanks Alcohol), the stripper had her legs wrapped around me, with another stripper beside her, while I have my knees and hands on the ground. With the paddle in the stripper’s hand pounding on my ass I whinnied like the inner donkey that I never let get out while playing poker. I was not aroused by this really, I just thought it was funny for some reason.

After ending that little session of what most would think to be quite humiliating, I walked back to my rental property. Outside of the stripper establishment, the two strippers were outside smoking. They then quibbled something in jest that I cannot recall exactly, but I could smell the contempt vapors even through the smoke. I walked back a few miles feeling rather glum about life. Even my jokes about the meaningless of life where I was the clown did not impart a jovial attitude towards life.

Sometime that morning I decided, before I kill myself, I should at least try all the drugs first. So off I went to the convenience store. I asked to get a pack of Marlboro and the clerk asked which kind. Naive in this regard, I thought like a bull and chose the red pack. Perhaps I should have read up on some smarter animals than donkeys and bulls right?

Continued soon…