we’ve all got a pattern chasing mind. We see them quickly if they are there and also when they are not there. Feeling lost in a chaos of unconnected bits and pieces we connect as many as we can into a world we feel makes sense. My pet theory is that given your neurotransmitter balance that world has a more, or (my case) less rosy glow to it. Whatever the bias, a bias it is, but different circumstances make one or the other bias more helpful. Being on a perennial optimistic high seems more fun to me, but the grass always looks greener at the other side of the fence. Ultimately, like cultural differences and all kinds of other human variation it’s all a matter of degree rather than unbridgeable differences. My daughter Keiko just sent me this beautiful example of something enjoyable that all of our species shares:
To clarify my statement: it’s beautiful because of the way the message is presented. Once you’ve seen this you’ll never forget it. That’s a powerful illustration of the importance of visualization. Although humour can also it, basically anything that adds a, preferably more than one sensual referents to cognitive content.
Anyway, I wanted to take you on an a typical journey of of my wandering mind. Being “self employed” (a prime candidate for some spanking as unspeak I would say, a topic earlier broached here, and in need of constant attention, because it’s about how your mind is being messed with, and because it’s great fun) with plenty of time to haphazardly graze my way through on and off-line content, wherever my fancy takes me, I’ve got plenty of time for that. Am I lucky? Probably more honest to say it ensures I remain unfocused, constantly distracted from pursing anything in depth.
Anyway, let’s start with Joris Luyendijk, who has the banking blog with the Guardian, and recently started to blog for NRC, one of our major Dutch dailies. His latest post for the latter proposes the Goldman Sachs-test for deciding if cynicism about politics and politicians turns the commentator into a useful idiot for the financial sector:
Imagine that you are the most important lobbyist for the bank that profited most from the financial crisis, and whose ‘alumni’ (former employees) now occupy crucial positions in Western democracies: from the White House to the Central Banks of England and Europe, and the Prime Minister of Italy. That lobbyist’s job is to keep the operational space for Goldman Sachs maximally unimpeded and prevent or dilute regulatory supervision. The question is: does cynicism about politicians help this lobbyist?
Interesting perspective, I tend to agree with it, but the link to my next stop on this walk is a remark about the difference between legality and corruption, one of my hobby horses:
In the third world when individuals or corporations give money to politicians it is called corruption, in The UK and the US that’s called ‘campaign financing’. The effect is the same.
I had to think about this when I read an article about Vietnam’s use of the legal system to go after regime critical bloggers. Yes, very bad indeed, misuse of the law, and a known phenomenon in many countries like Vietnam. One of my previous countries of residence, Cambodia uses the law all the time to get at political opposition, at land activists fighting evictions, at critical monks. However, the question is why there is so little uproar against blatant misuse of the law when it happens closer to home?
In our back yard, something being legal or illegal is mostly treated as a bench mark, sometimes lamented but near always accepted. Cannot do much about it. When something is evidently against the spirit but not against the letter of the law, the importance of safeguarding the respect for the institution of the law near always trumps preventing and/or punishing the often blatant wrong that is being committed.
This train of thought then moved to a Greg Palast book that I read longer ago about manipulation of US presidential elections. Big subject but what struck me most in that read was his inability to get any of his investigative and pretty explosive pieces published by main stream US media. The fear of financially crippling law suits – irrespective of the legal merits of one’s case – was described as functioning as an effective censoring system for those in power with the means to threaten legal action. Ergo: even beyond something being codified as legal or illegal, money can buy legal protection.
I told you: my wanderings tend to take me to bleak vistas. Let me go back to the beginning and follow a final lead that has more positive energy in it. Not only do I believe the neurotransmitter balance to be a matter of degree I also believe it to be a matter of going both ways. “Depressed” chemistry means bleak vistas, and bleak vistas translate into depressed chemistry. You’ve all heard about post traumatic stress syndrome haven’t you? Now what’s positive about that? Well, it also leads to slumped posture, couch potato feelings, no energy, etc etc etc. So change any of that, go for a run I’ld say, and you’l give you’re brain chemistry a kick in the butt.
Have a look at this. It’s incredibly American. It’s all about can do, can change, self improvement and other indigestibles. Nevertheless, have a look at it.