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Haven’t had one in a while. Other conduits for writing have been found. I’ll get back to this one of these days.

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Garden State

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Have you ever had that moment where a movie, or book, or any other piece of entertainment which you once hated has become the epitome of your life? Well for me, that piece of entertainment is Zach Braff’s opus Garden state.

Many moons ago, many of my peers in high school were enamored by this movie. Here comes this quirky, comedy-drama about the state we live in, and everyone was on board. Who wouldn’t be, after all the soundtrack was subversive, and great, and how often is there a movie about New freakin’ Jersey? Being the person I was back then, I had deemed the movie as  a piece of shit.

Fast forward about ten years, and I can’t help but relate to the opening dream sequence. All of New Jersey’s unique quirks, and aesthetics are completely present in the film. (Adults being completely unable to afford housing. Check.) And now, in a strange way, it’s become an entirely relatable experience. These kinds of creations usually make me think the most.

Garden State reminds me of The Catcher In The Rye. Both stories follow characters who are having mental breakdowns. What’s interesting about Catcher In The Rye though, is that if someone relates to Holden, they’re probably in need of a therapist. Unfortunately, what’s even more intriguing is that plenty of people feel that Holden is  being whiney, which is a great representation of how most people respond to someone going through a mental breakdown.

With Garden State, the problem is similar, yet the reactions are completely different. Zach Braff’s character, Andrew, is completely misdiagnosed, and thusly overmedicated. Instead of having a mental breakdown, he’s having an odd mental awakening. However, this isn’t any different than a mental breakdown, because his whole life dissolves anyway, and he is stuck being unable to react.  Both creations have identical conflicts,  except they go in reverse. Interesting ways to look at a mental collapse, no?

Incentives

After much soul searching, and stretching my brain to it’s emotional limits, it seems that I’ve finally figured out a crucial part of this America game. There’s this great quote on Youtube from Stephen Fry where he talks about American comedy vs. British comedy. He goes on to talk about self-help, and how Americans live for the belief that they can become great at anything with enough effort, and know-how. With self-help, we believe that we can fix the fundamental parts of our personality. Sure people can change to an extent, but can everything about a person change so drastically?

Some people are fueled by quiet rooms and solitude while others live off of the energy that a crowded room gives off. No way is better than the other, it’s just how we are built. And programmed in those key differences are our incentives for living. Everyone wants money of course, but not everyone can live with money being a sole incentive in their careers. People who are more extroverted are usually better at promoting themselves, and thusly find it easier to have money as an only incentive.

As an introvert, it has been a bit difficult to accept, but I’m just not nearly as good at promoting myself as someone who is more outgoing. You can read all the self-help, and communication guides, and the pure cavalcade of literature out there, but that loud extroverted person will always be better at self-promotion. Yeah self-promotion is not everything. Yes introverts have areas they excel at as well.

Those who are more adept at promoting themselves will always find and acquire job opportunities  more easily than quiet people. Even when you try your hardest as a an introvert, you can’t really beat someone whose had a lifelong love affair with being the squeaky wheel in need of grease. It’s alright though, that doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams, or goals, or anything like that. All it means is that ambition may take longer to work out for you. On top of that if you’re a quiet person, you’re more likely to stay somewhere you love and outperform the extrovert in the longterm. We all have to play the game to our advantages anyway. Isn’t it better to accept what you’ve got rather than to waste time trying to be someone you’re not?

 

A Return To Form

It’s been a while. After taking oneself away from the surrounding world, jumping back in can seem a little daunting. To me, this is great analogy for social media. It’s a torrent of opinions, and memes, and generally a whole slew of topics, and  strange entities. Once, all of those pieces were the objects that created “Nerd Culture” and now all of those parts have just become everyday culture.

As someone who grew up on forums, and around the internet in the old days, it’s such a strange site to see. Everyone, so it seems, is linking memes, going on news aggregates disguised as forums, and ranting about something on Facebook. Sometimes I’m not sure if what’s going on is how people actually feel, or if everything is clever manipulation of emotions in that particular moment. For example, a politician will say something wild to which everyone will react immediately.

Whereas many years ago, something crazy would happen, and you had time to process your feelings, or more importantly, your judgement couldn’t be so quickly documented. Even 9/11 was something that no student in school could fathom. Then on that day we all came home from school and watched it happen on television. One of the defining moments of a generation of people, and no one believe it happened until they saw it on television. At that time, the reactions were all over the place, and people were understandably upset. However, people also were slow to react.

Was the world better off before information went into hyper-speed, and moved from one part of the world to another in mere seconds? Can anyone honestly say whether it was? I don’t know, but often being present is less fun than not. With so many stories, and opinions, and reactions around, maybe ignorance truly is bliss.

 

Adulthood

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What does adulthood mean? When everyone is at the very least observing social media, and News, it doesn’t really seem like adulthood is about accepting responsibility as it should be. More or less it seems more like creating a million different ways to avoid accountability. Perhaps this is why so few people are as successful as they want to be. Maybe, maybe not.

As much as one would love to, it feels almost impossible to escape the constant noise of media. Whether the talking heads are kicking or screaming on a television screen somewhere off in the distance, or on one of the many internet feeds that have become our daily ritual, they seem to be everywhere. Why have we created a gigantic system of lies to avoid accepting responsibility? Are responsibilities so awful? ‘

For example, we all end up learning that racism, prejudice, and other forms of discrimination are terrible. Yet, most of us end up picking a political party, which has become a great way to separate,thinly veil our prejudices,  and fight one another for no good reason. Truth is, and probably always was and will be, subjective depending on your sources.

All of this is just par for the course. Seemingly this is what adulthood comes down to. What’s annoying is that none of it matters as much as us adults thinks that it does, and the sheer velocity of some of the reactions. And don’t think you can tell them that many of these happenings aren’t significant. Stubborn people can seldom be convinced of such. Adulthood is somehow just as divisive as high school, but in ways that we’ve intellectualized as normal. Strange.

 

 

New Years Resolutions

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A light painting of the year 2016 written against a black background — Image by © Caspar Benson/fstop/Corbis

 

Goals make for interesting things to chase. On one hand, we often feel terrible when we don’t achieve them. However, this is a more common occurrence than achievement itself. Strangely, and it could just be me, when lofty and numerous goals are set, achievement seems much easier.

Failure is inevitable in those circumstances. When you set ten or so lofty goals, you will fail some of them. Hell, even some of the successes aren’t going to feel like successes. But you only truly realize this when you look back at the list of goals.

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It’s been a couple weeks since this has been updated, however I wrote the two paragraphs a couple weeks ago. This let me ruminate on them for a while.

Once upon a time, a college professor of mine stated, “The brilliant tend to lack the conviction to lead, and those with conviction often lack the brilliance to lead.” Of course being that it was five or so years ago, the quote might be paraphrased. Also what he said this in reference to is a mystery.

It’s a quote that has stuck with me since he said it. Took me forever to truly know what he meant though. Or at least it took me forever to grasp a solid interpretation of what he meant.

Anyways, it seems that the brilliant though they are confident in their knowledge, aren’t confident enough to convince anyone of anything. For proof, see the last million year of scientific innovation. Those with conviction, though they usually lack knowledge, are able to persuade anyone about anything . For proof, see the last million years of scientific innovation.

It’s one thing to figure out which one you are. It’s another thing to overcome your weaknesses. Is this a case of the grass being greener on the other side?  Do those with conviction find that the brilliant have easier lives? Do the brilliant find that those with conviction have easier lives? Maybe, but it seems to me that those with conviction are more easily able to get the opportunities they want, then gain the knowledge later. If opportunity gives you the edge to learn more quickly no matter what, then what advantage do the brilliant truly have? Food for thought I suppose.

 

Friendship Versus Argumentation

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Perception is a strange concept. On one hand, since the news is more readily accessible, it’s easy to see extremes in the world. That’s how news organizations have always operated after all. In another, earlier post, my assessment is that the radical voice is usually just the loudest, and rarely indicative of the majority. Is that a flawed assessment, is it accurate? With perception being so subjective it’s difficult to say.

Media is everywhere to a hyper degree. And it fosters this culture of shaming, and dividing people in to opposing groups. No one ever solved their problems, perceived or otherwise, by inflicting shame, or arguing with the other side. This is why MLK Jr. was so successful. Hell, avoiding arguments is one of rules in the Dale Carnegie book “How to Win Friends, and Influence People.”

Truthfully, it amuses me more than I like to admit being so stuck in the middle. Everyone seems to want argumentation rather than friendship, however, no one gets the better end of the stick in argumentation. Friendship has always been the only way to convince another person of an idea. Even if they don’t agree with the idea one hundred percent, friendship is the only way to get one person to agree with another.

This is a fact that always stays the same. Whether it’s  the alleged Jesus, MLK Jr., or  that man who converted KKK member by befriending them, shame and stigmatization do not work to foster unity. Shame and stigmatization do not create goodwill, or inspire people to do good. Yet, that is all the media ever seems to sell. And for some reason, as we grow, the news seems to be all we ever read.

Cynical Catalyst

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A friend of mine joked one time that everyone in the state which I live has a cynical phase. Another friend of mine is currently going through that cynical phase. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the England-esque lack of sunshine. Come to think of it, numerous comedians come from this part of the country.

No one is immune to cynicism. Whether that  means you are surrounded by cynics, (Run!), or you are the cynic. There is a quote from a character in a movie, or a novel, about how everyone is just a failed, miserable, person when they grow up because most people in western culture believe that they’ll be rockstars. Similarly, a Cracked article mentions a statistic like how fifty-two percent of Americans believe that they will be famous someday, and most of them become disillusioned as they miraculously never become famous.

This got me thinking about what causes everyone to be so cynical. Granted, my phase of cynicism is over, but my cause was never anything to do with fame. Lack of fame seems like a strange thing to cause cynicism. Also, can anyone really have one hundred percent control as to whether or not they become famous, or rich? Probably not.

Not everything can be in our control. Maybe that is what ultimately causes people to become cynical. You can’t control politics or the perception of where the world is going. You can’t control fame our fortune to the extent that you would like, so  cynicism is there like a terrible, warm, blanket. Now how does one avoid the cynics permanently? That is the key question.

Sex

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Yeah, it’s a title that’s straightforward. Also one, that admittedly, this blogger feels weird about writing. Surely many looking at it, (in more ways than one), feel weird about it too. But should we really?

One of the interesting facets of our natural urge to gather in groups is that we often follow along with the most convincing voices. This is a topic that has been discussed frequently on the blog, so we won’t go any further on it. Moreover when these groups are ideological, it seems one of the subjects they seem to all have rules on is sex. For some reason, whether anyone is a staunch Catholic, or Liberal, Conservative, their seems to be clear cut rules about sex.

No, I’m not talking about sex crimes. All prominent religions, and ideological groups are against sex crimes. (Insert snarky jokes after this remark). What all of these ideological groups love doing, for some reason, is building philosophies around controlling our urges. Unfortunately, most of those philosophies exploit our human emotion of guilt.

You must save yourself for marriage. Don’t sleep around. Monogamy is the best way to go about things. To create sexy women in fiction is a terrible representation of women. These are just samples, and there are plenty more where they came from.

Consensual sex is a stupid thing to feel guilty about. Desire is also a silly thing to feel guilty about. As long as you are responsible, and you aren’t manipulative, and underhanded, what’s wrong with responsibly having as many partners as you’d like? What’s wrong with creating characters who happen to be sexy? Isn’t great fiction grounded in reality anyway? Wouldn’t leaving the sex out of things be disingenuous?

If almost everyone who is alive has sexual desires at some point, and are unable to stop, what good reason is there to associate those desires with guilt? There isn’t any. People are already fine enough judge of characters, they don’t need someone to stop them from boning. All the association does is make people feel needlessly guilty over perfectly consensual sex. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me. That sounds like bullying.

The Moderate Voice

Being a moderate must be feel weird at times. When anyone turns on the news, or feels like getting enraptured by social media, it’s clear that the loudest most radical of us are the only ones whose voices will be listened to. And why not? They make for great television, great headlines, and appeal to our irrational nature as human beings.

As one of those people who, as my friend once put it, is “straddling the fence,” when it comes to politics  things can get frustrating at times. Republicans will think you’re a Democrat, and Democrats will think you’re a Republican. You’re damned if you speak, damned if you don’t.

Why is it that we do not listen, or have those people in the middle on television, or prominently in media? Is it because the truth is much more boring than the nightly news can handle? Can we not handle articles unless they have salacious headlines, and are presented by slick news reporters with buttery voices?

It would be nice to have a view that’s right down the middle. Well, we do have that view actually, but most of those people are comedians. For better or worse, comedians don’t have control of the voting public, nor do they have any power over policy. Hey, but at least they figured out how to be interesting.

In a culture where every voice is supposed to have a say, and where we constantly extol the virtues of freedom of speech, isn’t it weird that some voices get naturally stifled. Maybe, maybe not, maybe it’s just that the media has a requirement to be entertaining. After all, everyone has to sell ratings, and clicks. Some guy stating that the world is not that bad, and that everything is improving, is not going to have many people to parrot his opinion. And as it probably happens, many people probably think that way regardless of the media.