A Weird Dream

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I had a weird dream the day before yesterday. It happened early in the morning and I saw myself eating half-cooked cockroaches. I was there in the first person point of view and could even taste the disgusting flavour of the food. Even after I woke up, it was as if I had an aftertaste leftover from my dream.

I thought,”That’s a weird dream. I wonder why I had it.”But I already had the answer to that. I remembered that only the other day I had come across a quote by one of my favourite humourists, Mark Twain. It went something like,

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

Why the roaches instead of the frog? That’s because I am scared of roaches. Scared and disgusted by them (And I am a man. I hear the distant,tragic moaning at the demolition of the image of the idealised “Man”). But there was more to it. I have a habit of listening to podcasts while going to sleep. Mostly comforting discussions on various topics, ranging from philosophy to psychology, which I enjoy. A couple of nights before the dream I was listening to a discussion on the topic,

What is the nature of the unconscious and Carl Jung’s “Man and his Symbols”

It says how our unconscious mind is a world without language, trying to weave messages through pictures and symbols. But since we live in a world dominated by words we find it hard to decipher them and often neglect it as non-sensical. So. I decided to make sense of the dream. Did it mean anything? Or was it just a restructuring of Mark’s quote? Since I consider myself to be a skeptic, I wanted to be careful of trying to find meaning where none exists. But then a thought hit me. The quote. Yes! The quote. What is the one precondition for truly enjoying the brilliance of the quote?

You have to be already living in a situation that makes you feel that your day would indeed become tolerable if you would only follow the advice.

And I did follow it,didn’t I! In my dream. So what does it say about my everyday life?

Oh.

Cartoon by Lev Yilmaz


Featured Image: http://opiniaocentral.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/carl_jung.jpg

 

 

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Don’t Think: it is irrational

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How do you make a decision? We believe that whatever or most of what we do is the result of careful,conscious thought given to the choices available while making the decision. Right? I say that this notion is utter bullshit.

To go to work or take the day off? To clean the room or not? To be or not to be.

We struggle with the options day after day. Some may even go on to read analytical philosophy to get a reference frame from where they may discuss the rationality of the choices. But these don’t amount to much.

Have you ever felt that your mind already knows the answer to your dilemma? Have you ever felt that your conscious reasoning is mere pretense? If you have then you were right! It definitely is.

Your mind( subconscious) has already made the decision for you, independent of you. Thinking is just a waste of time as far as the final decision is concerned. The purpose of thinking seems to be the rationalization of the choices that have already been made by your brain.

We feel good when we can justify our decisions. And that is the purpose that thinking serves. But this also consumes time and causes anxiety. Wouldn’t it be great if we could jump to the decision without spending time in weighing the options? Well we certainly can and should. For thinking is irrational if its only role is to give us comfort, a sense of illusory control.

I propose that letting go of the conscious thought would be hugely beneficial to us.

Mediocrity

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What is mediocrity? It is the vast majority of humanity. It is you. It is me.

Mediocrity is the absence of greatness.Being completely unremarkable.

It is contrary to what we are made to believe we are, not realizing

That giving in to such delusions is also pretty mediocre.

Read the works of those towering philosophers,

Upon whose wisdom our civilization stands, from whose arguments, we discover, justice, laws and ethics.

Or listen about the lives of souls like Buddha, who attained enlightenment,

Or the great scientists, artists and poets, who guided our perception about the nature of the world.

 

Where do you stand amongst them? Do you stand there, up high where they rest.?

You don’t. Most don’t. But then again, why should you?

The question is not what have you done but, what is being asked of you.

Nothing. Nothing at all. A civilization asks nothing of a man.

A man is simply born and has to fend for himself, or die.

So he does what is necessary to survive. Does the job that gets him by.

To be mediocre is to survive. The rest is mere ideology, makes little sense.

Excellence and greatness are like illusions that few men would reach,

For the rest, there is futility,that is the only reality

when did man ask from anyone to be condemned to these gallows?

So walk on, there is no shame in mediocrity,no better can even be demanded of you.

 

 

 

 

 

Things Joe hates about his daily commute

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Joe hates his daily commute. He finds it simply excruciating, harrowing to go through this monotonous loop of “inaction” (because technically speaking, the train does most of the moving business for Joe), over and over again like a lunatic.

Joe hates the fact that he has to get up at 6:30 in the morning to reach his workplace in time, which opens only at 9. The actual distance from his apartment to his office should be about 12 kilometers. But some genius working for the city-planning division, decided to lay down a rail-route, so twisted, that he is inclined to believe that it is part of some deliberate and grand conspiracy to sabotage his unwavering focus on his work. It’s just pure evil. It takes him, over an hour, 4 line transfers and 12 stops to reach his destination. Well, that’s the cheapest transit he can afford. So everyday, Joe wastes around three hours of his day in this transit.

A rail route so twisted…

Then there are the passengers themselves. Passengers are weird people. Joe has been keeping an eye on them and he had noticed that they tend to do either of three things;sleep, get into a trance-like state with their iPhones or read newspaper or book. But rarely do they talk to each other or look out the window. On rare occasions, he had seen a few women putting on makeup or a drunk man uttering gibberish, but that’s it. It’s almost like they are all dead,disconnected.

Co-passengers?

It is thus a big relief for Joe, when a bunch of chattering,young schoolkids walk into his compartment.

“They are still uncorrupted. They remain pure, for now…….”,thinks Joe.

The trains are air conditioned.The window panes, never opened.  This perturbs Joe a lot, for every time he gets off a train he is hit, either by the unpleasant, hot breeze of the summer or by the biting cold wind of the winter. And speaking of winter, people wear thick overcoats at that time and this makes life even more horrible for Joe, being stuffed in the tiny aluminium box  with hundred other passengers.

Packed as a Cattle-truck

  • Why do I have to travel so far to work?
  • Why are there not more trains?
  • Why do I have to stop at 11 stations when I get off only at the 12th?
  • Why is the planning of these “modern” cities so inefficient? 

Joe is too busy with his work to think of a solution to these problems, so he just goes back to his laptop, grumbling like a disgruntled old man. .


How to Build a Better City

For a more scholarly study on Mixed-Use Urban Planning: Click here

On Nihilism and Inventing Purpose

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In the 1957 Swedish film, The Seventh Seal, directed by Ingmar Bergman, a man suffering from the bubonic plague during the Black Death pandemic in Europe, begs for water and comfort during his last moments,

Can’t you take pity on me? Help me…At least talk to me!….

I am going to die. What’s going to happen to me? Can’t you even comfort me? 

The response (not given to the man directly), though heart-rending, is true nonetheless.

It’s meaningless. It’s completely meaningless.

This film to me, is the essence, is the entirety, of the Nihilistic school of thought. This scene, dealing with the moral redundancy of helping a person, heading towards certain death, is not so much about the Existential Nihilism that people most commonly refer to when talking about the subject matter, but about Ethical Nihilism, the belief that morals are not universal constants, not even objectively derivable, but rather a changing,non-objective function of the social understanding of right and wrong at any given era.

But according to me, the film also deals with Existential Nihilism, when Death tricks the knight into a confession,

Knight:I want God to stretch out his hand, uncover his face and speak to me.

Death:But he remains silent.

Knight:I call out to him in the darkness. It’s as if there is no one there.

Death:Perhaps there isn’t anyone.

Knight:Then life is a preposterous horror. No man can live faced with Death knowing everything’s nothingness.

This has been the fear against nihilists all along–“‘nihilist’ is used to characterize the postmodern person, a dehumanized conformist, alienated, indifferent, and baffled, directing psychological energy into hedonistic narcissism or into a deep ressentiment that often explodes in violence.”[1]

If God(objective meaning,morals,etc) is dead, then doesn’t that eventually lead to degradation and destruction of all institutions?

And still, anyone who has a rudimentary understanding of the Scientific Method, finds it very difficult not to enter into the realms of Nihilism. The Nobel laureate in physics, Steven Weinberg notes in his work Dreams of a Final Theory: The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature (1993),

The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

This quote has been used too many times in the wrong context. Contrary to the popular notion of gloom and doom associated with purposelessness and the insignificance of man, Weinberg takes the idea to a different conclusion. He points out that, “if there is no point in the universe that we discover by the methods of science, there is a point that we can give the universe by the way we live, by loving each other, by discovering things about nature, by creating works of art.[2]

This is a view that has also found its support among the Atheistic school of thought. But is it really such a good idea?

Can we really find a purpose for ourselves? I highly doubt it.

1.People change and so do beliefs.There is a psychological misconception called the End-of-History illusion. We (adults or young adults) think that our maturity, personal growth and tastes will remain mostly unchanged. We think we know who “we” are–we seem to know the Self. That is however,hardly the case. We evolve with time and as we do, our priorities, behaviour,  beliefs, also undergo change. So when we talk about creating a purpose for ourselves, can we really say, who this “self”, this “person” is, for whom we are creating a long-term purpose? I find it very hard to conceive, that a person,without any objective reference for morals or authority would be able to come up with such a purpose for themselves. This is a confirmation of the logical validity of Nihilism, as it shows the meaninglessness in trying to find an objective reference for a mutating entity,namely the “Self”,  but also a criticism of the idea, as it shows the caustic impact of nihilism in the society.

2. The Choice Paradox or Analysis Paralysis : In his book, The Paradox of Choice–Why More is Less, psychologist Barry Schwartz notes,

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.

When we have to choose every single thing, from our lives’ purpose to morals and values by ourselves, instead of feeling empowered, we feel daunted and anxious. There is a good TED talk on the topic of making choices by the said author,

We find that, even though nihilism makes complete intellectual sense,or I would even go on to say that it is the only logical philosophical ideology, its practical application, leads to tension, insecurity and pessimism at best.

Coming back to the movie, The Seventh Seal, Death says that we might be over-thinking the problem,for

Most people think neither of death nor nothingness

But for the ones who think about the “day you stand at the edge of life and face darkness”, the solution to me,for now, it seems, lies in the words of Voltaire,

..,if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him. 


Alright then, enough of serious talk for today. Time to lighten the mood,


And also,I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

On Giving Charity

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Nor is just ten years old. But don’t be fooled by his tender age. He has already won the Responsible Global Citizens Award for earning the highest credits on the Consumption and Waste Contribution Program. He had been eyeing the coveted award for the last two years and now his success has turned him into quite a star in his neighbourhood and school for this extraordinary work of charity.

Thousands of people across the developed nations have signed up for this program, aimed at providing much-needed aid to the less fortunate parts of the world. It goes without saying that it is the single-largest, consumer-driven, humanitarian, global endeavour to  alleviate hunger,curable diseases and lack of proper clothing and shelter from the poorer nations.

According to the award winning economist,Tim Smith,

Capitalism’s current success lies in the proper hybridization of consumerism with sacred virtues of charity and cooperation.

To qualify for this Program, you need to download the Consumption and Waste Contribution App(CWCA) available on all platforms.There are two types of Credits that you can earn:1.Consumption Credit and 2.Disposal Credit

1. Consumption Credit: It is the credit that you can earn when you buy a product.Whenever you buy from places like McMickeys or Sunbucks, 1% of the money will go to various charity organisations.What’s more, you earn a full 10 credit points in your CWCA.

The more you consume, the more credits you gain and the more charitable activity you can pride yourself with.

https://i1.wp.com/media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/conspicuous-consumption-i-shop-therefore-i-am.jpg

Also, don’t forget to like and share their products on your SNSs. You earn 1 credits per like and 5 for a share.

2. Disposal Credit: Now this is where the real genius of the Program comes into play.As we all know, in 2020, in a massive undertaking, the multi-billion dollar Sewage and Household Waste Corridor was constructed, diverting all waste products to the under-developed world.

Despite protestations by several, mostly ignorant “activists”, scientific researches have categorically concluded that sewage and household food wastes, though undesirable to us, contains several nutrients which can sustain those living in despicable poverty.

It is thus, our responsibility to consume,urinate and defecate as much as possible. The principle of charity here, is of course,

“Giving anything is better than nothing, even if it’s shit”.

To earn credits, just use the Creditor Biometric Screener to confirm your identity in the washroom and garbage bins.


“….charity degrades and demoralises… Charity creates a multitude of sins.”-  Oscar Wilde

Charity and Cultural Capitalism:


 

The Dorm

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It was seven in the evening. Petal was sitting comfortably on his bed in his dorm room, on the ninth floor. His exams have just ended and he is looking forward to his internship at a start up.He has just a week to himself, to relax and meditate.

The day had been cloudy–raining sporadically. Now, with the Sun almost setting, casting a golden-red hue over the cloudy sky and regular gusts of strong wind darting in uninvited to his room, Petal’s thoughts wandered quickly to the days long gone.

He lives in a foreign land now. He has long forgotten what his homeland looked like, the peculiarity with which his people behaved. All he is left with is a collection of hazy images. He doesn’t miss any of that though. He is fairly content with the Now.He wouldn’t have it any other way. But what bothers him is the past which he had lived vividly but is no longer so clear anymore. And what about those years before he was 4 yrs old? He has almost no recollection of that time. In fact, the memories are too few in numbers, suspiciously few.

The more he thinks about it,the more uncomfortable he gets:

When was I born?

1991 of course…

But, I don’t remember being born!

Well,there is your birth certificate…

Documents can be faked.And I don’t remember even my parents’ faces before I was 3/4 yrs old. What if they are not my “real” parents?

What!? Stop talking such nonsense!

No.Seriously. What if I was never “born”? What if I had been alive all along?

Come on! You know how a child is born. When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much….

No no, that’s not it. Remember when your relatives sometimes see you and say,”Wow! I can’t believe how much you have grown up buddy!The last time I saw you, you were thiss small.”

What if they are right? What if we really are older than we think we are?What if sections of our lives are erased from our memory for some purpose?Times when we are refitted with key information and guide for our future planned life.

Oh! Are you talking about some Simulating God?

No.I am thinking of some clandestine group of people who decide what we remember and what our role in this world should be,they decide for our surrogate parents and life partners,for our education, wealth and vocation.

 You are just insane!

Well of course you people would think like that. Why else do you think they put me in here?

The clock struck nine.Petal got off from his bed and looked out of the grilled window of his 6 x 8 room on the ninth floor of the mental institution,which he called The Dorm.

“Time for dinner”,he thought and waited eagerly for the pizza which he had ordered last year.

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scream#mediaviewer/File:The_Scream.jpg

Featured Image: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/21969991