Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Anansi and Gods

Someone told me about ``Neil Gaiman'' a couple of months ago and I picked up his ``Anansi Boys''. I was not impressed by the beginning of the book and about to leave  it unfinished when I read a passage about a boy that was always embarrassed by his father and it stirred up a lot of similar memories from my childhood. I felt specially awkward when my father talked with pretty women and girls, which felt like him cheating on my mom. I also felt that I was not able to match him in smooth talking and entertaining women. This feeling of inadequacy until very recently.

Anyway, I finished ``Anansi Boys'' and believe it to be an excellent novel. I am reading his ``American Gods'' now and it appears to me a masterpiece! Here is a strange quote:
The telephone in Shadow's apartment was silent and dead. He thought about getting it connected, but could not think of no one he wanted to call. Late one night he picked it up and listened, and was convinced that he could here a wind blowing and a distant conversation between a group of people talking in voices too low to properly make out. He said, ``Hello?'' and ``Who's there?'' but there was no reply, only a sudden silence and then the faraway sound of laughter, so faint he was not certain he was not imagining it. ---p. 365, American Gods

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Evening thoughts

Every word they say
is false
and every word
is true
but that's how
words
can be

The manner of feelings
and the feeling of manners
are, on the other hand,
something else
totally
different

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meeting at Dawn

I met an old friend at dawn. We have been fighting for thirty years now. During the past year, however, I came to appreciate the positive aspects of our relationship. This morning, she came in peace. I was ready to accept her in peace.

Dawn hours are the best time to meet ghosts of the past. I wake up and stay up for a while, but if I can go back to sleep, I usually have interesting experiences.

I don't remember the dream. In a couple of seconds, I experienced this feeling of dread, fear, and sadness. I realized that I met the source or essence of my depression. It was a deep sense of insecurity. A child who realizes that ``things won't be okay and there is no hope for the future,'' kind of thing.

Depression is not my enemy anymore. It keeps me modest and is a good remedy for vanity. It also drives me to retreat periods that are necessary for recouping and getting over a big hurdle. Its company is not pleasant, but dare I say, it's necessary in my life?


Monday, December 01, 2014

Long-term Decisions and Commitments


  • I have developed a simple and elegant framework for non-abusive decision-making and have used it---experimented with it--- in the past couple of years. The only lacking element relates to  ``long-term decisions and commitments.'' I have come up with partial answers, as to how to make decisions with long-term consequences, but I am not really satisfied with them.
  • I first need to elaborate on an amazing connection between our inner world and the outside reality. When we dream, the amount of direct sensational input from outside world is minimum, and our mind constructs a dream-world populated by figures and `things' that resemble outside reality. People have speculated on the mechanism behind dreams and their function and purpose. I have an alternative view: The dream mechanism is always present in our mind, but it only comes into full blossom during some states of sleeping. In waking states,  inputs from outside world are very powerful and dominate our dream-mechanism. In sleep, the dream mechanism becomes dominant and creates story lines and pseudo-sensations!
  • Why/how is this important? We can all agree that in most dreams, the purpose/meaning/plot is mainly a production of our mind. When we see a person behave in a certain way, the reason (for it) lies within our own mind. It's not that person's will and wishes that appear in our dream, but what our mind attributes to, or projects on, that person.
  • I learned the lesson in the previous paragraph the hard way. It took a year or two of my life. But that's another story.
  • In wakefulness, we are under the illusion of interacting with real world, whereas we mix the outside reality with a lot of our own mind's attributes and projections. The only way that we can make sense of `outside' is by projecting `inside'. It is `impossible' to be fully awake!!!!
  • We can use this ever-present link between inside and outside worlds. For example, when a person makes us really angry, it is useful to realize that the roots of our anger is in an internal conflict that is projected on the outside situation. Instead of being overly focused on changing the outside world, which is out of our control in many ways, we can turn our attention to learning about our inside world and its conflicts.
  • A long-term decision, in the inside world, corresponds to a long-term relationship, in the outside world. One possibility is that one part of our mind (for example, the rational and logical part or the emotional part) makes a decision and then uses our `willpower' to follow through the decision. In outside world, a relationship (say a family) can be dominated by one figure (either the father-rational figure or the mother-emotional, for example) and would be forced to behave a certain way.
  • Just as weaker members of a group can sabotage the leader's decisions, in our inside world too the weaker (subordinate) parts can undermine the dominant part's decisions. That 's a much too common situation when we make a decision but cannot go through with it. Or worse, we can see what's the best and most rational choice for us, but something prevents us from doing that!
  • The best forms of long-term relationships exhibit an element of respect for all members of the group, even those who are weak and seemingly useless. All members are `heard' even though in every situation there is ultimately one choice to be made and some members end up sacrificing their wishes. The art of `listening' is crucial here ...
  • I believe that some form of internal/external listening is very important when we try to make long-term decisions and commitments. I am not sure exactly how.
PS 1. I just watched this TED talk and it seems relevant to my points:

Emily Balcetis: Why some people find exercise harder than others

PS 2. I solved the problem. Things came together after the evening tennis. It may take a while to put it into word coherently: I tried to explain it to Sima today and it made some sense, but needs more work. I am happy and excited.

Clear Shallow Water

I started reading this novel, `` The Driver ,'' by Hart Hanson , and I did not like it much and decided to stop. But then I came ba...