Thursday, September 30, 2010

Durkheim, Complaining/Negativity, Feeling Old

Clearly, I have lots of things to say right now. I should go to bed relatively soon,
or even now, but I know I will not be able to. I need these things out of my head.

I need these things out of my head so badly that I almost couldn't bring myself to
finish my assigned reading for tomorrow morning. But I did it. And I love Durkheim.


Well, more accurately, I love Sociology; but I really love Durkheim. So many things
that he said resonate with all that I've been saying for at least a year.

My hands are cold.

The following quotes are from my Sociological Theory textbook, Sociological Theory
in the Classical Era: Text and Readings, by Laura Desfor Edles and Scott Appelrouth,
second edition.

"We are not, from birth predestined to some special position; but we do have tastes
and aptitudes which limit our choice. If no care is taken of them, if they are
ceaselessly disturbed by our daily occupations, we shall suffer and seek a way of
putting an end to our suffering." (p. 110)

Well, that sounds like something Johnny Bunko would say! The plan matters less than
personal satisfaction. This sounds like something I have said! Personal preferences
and core values must be recognized and acknowledged to attain such satisfaction!

"That we spend much time and energy searching for "identity" - 'I'm a punk!' 'I'm
Irish!' - reflects a lack of moral regulation." (p. 120)

When energy is not devoted to norms, some part of identity dies - the part that is
wrapped up in collective existence. Identity then begins to be searched for in other
venues... labeling one's self or in "novelties, unfamiliar pleasures, nameless
sensations" (p. 131).

"...One does not advance when one walks toward no goal, or - which is the same thing
- when his goal is infinity. Since the distance between us and it is always the
same, whatever road we take, we might as well have made the motions without progress
from the spot. Even our glances behind and our feeling of pride at the distance
covered can cause only deceptive satisfaction, since the remaining distance is not
proportionately reduced. To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to
condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness. Of course, man may hope
contrary to all reasons, and hope has its pleasures even when unreasonable. It may
sustain him for a time; but it cannot survive the repeated disappointments of
experience indefinitely. What more can the future offer him than the past, since he
can never reach a tenable condition nor even approach the glimpsed ideal?" (pp. 126-127)

I really don't think I could've said it better, Mr. Durkheim. Progress may be made,
but it cannot be felt, without the presence of goals.

"He may seek to give beauty to his life; but his attempts in this direction may fail
without causing him to despair. For, loving what he has and not fixing his desire
solely on what he lacks, his wishes and hopes may fail of what he has happened to
aspire to, without his being wholly destitute. He has the essentials. The equilibrium
of his happiness is secure because it is defined, and a few mishaps cannot disconcert
him." (p. 128)

The equilibrium of his happiness is secure because it is defined...

"The less limited one feels, the more intolerable all limitation appears." (p. 130)

The more affluent one is, the greater the desire to be even more affluent. I want to
parallel this to my current annoyed state. I am annoyed with negativity and immaturity.
The less negative and immature one is, the more intolerable all negativity and
immaturity appears. The more intolerable all negativity and immaturity feels. Ugh.

"The wise man, knowing how to enjoy his achieved results without having to constantly
replace them with others, finds in them an attachment to life in the hour of difficulty.
But the man who has always pinned all his hopes on the future and lived with his eyes
fixed upon it, has nothing in the past as a comfort against the present's afflictions,
for the past nothing to him but a series of hastily experienced stages. What blinded
him to himself was his expectation always to find further on the happiness he had so
far missed. Now he is stopped in his tracks; from now on nothing remains behind or
ahead of him to fix his gaze upon. Weariness alone, moreover, is enough to bring
disillusionment, for he cannot in the end escape the futility of an endless pursuit."
(p. 131).

Durkheim recognized the importance of balance and moderation! While progress cannot
be felt in the absence of goals, an extreme focus upon goals causes a person to miss
that progress! By seeking happiness in the future, a person misses happiness in the
present. Ah, Durkheim!

"It is everlastingly repeated that it is man's nature to be eternally dissatisfied,
constantly in advance, without relief or rest, toward and indefinite goal." (p. 131)

Man is a fool is a rule? Always wanting what is not? ... The importance of having
DEFINED goals! Ah, Durkheim!

"Those who have only empty space above them are almost inevitably lost in it, if no
force restrains them." (p. 132)

The unhappiness of the affluent, with no place to go - no progress to feel. It all
rests in your own personal emphasis.

So, friends, what is YOUR emphasis? Affluence? Perhaps you should reconsider.

Core values, core values, core values.

I love Sociology. I love Durkheim. And, yes, I am aware that I am a nerd. What else
is there for me to be? I internalize this label.


Okay, so all that Durkheim quoting took a lot of energy, but I shall try to press on!

I am not sure whether this is due to there being more complaining and negativity or
my being more aware of it (for whatever reason), but either way, I am coming in contact
with more complaining and negativity than before. Maybe it's in my perception, my
perspective, but it feels like significantly more. It feels like a significant increase.

Regardless of whether there literally is more or not is unimportant. What we believe
to be real is real in its consequences.
Thomas Theorem. In that case, it is real.

Note: I really like this new Durkheim-inspired theory that I grow more sensitive to
complaining and negativity as I eradicate those traits from myself more and more
each day. As arrogant as that may sound, I like it.

Regardless of any cause, whether real or perceptual, I feel like a complete hypocrite.
The people around me are overly negative and complain too much about largely
insignificant things that they should be capable of rectifying. This negativity
is infectious and makes me want to complain. I feel like a complete hypocrite.

It is so completely non-sensical to complain about complaining. Complaining about
complaining will not help anything. So what, then? Call them out? Eh...

So what, then? Combat the negativity? Block our the complaining? Focus on the
positive? So what, then? How to focus on the positive when the negative is such a
dark and dismal cloud? There are a few positive people that are bright pockets in
this cloud of negativity. What's really interesting to not is that these emotionally
bright people have their own moments of negativity. So why, in my opinion, do they
continue to qualify as mostly positive people?

I fear this will not be concluded for sometime. I know I have more to say on this
topic, but no longer feel it.

Feeling Old.

In all honesty, I forget what this was all about. Oh dear, I must be feeling old.
Memory, come back! Thought, return!

I really enjoy being repetitive. I enjoy writing redundantly in an artistic fashion.

I made a note to write about feeling old next to the note to write about complaining
and negativity, so I think I meant to say that I feel old because I feel so bothered
by complaining and negativity.

Those young'ns always complaining about something! They're so negative! Don't they
see they have the whole world in front of them? They have the world in their hands!

Something like that.

Back to Durkheim... the quote that talks about how people miss present happiness by
focusing too much on happiness they expect to come in the future solidifies a recent
fear that I had not yet put into words. In my recent and current search among schools
to attend for my Master's, I have inadvertently placed more emphasis upon achieving
my Master's and have been placing more emphasis upon my eventual career goal. I've
been fearing that maybe, on some level, I've been missing out on some part of college
lately. Maybe I've been focusing too much on my studies because of the end goal and
have been missing the current achievements of present and tangible learning.

I mostly feel like this is a primarily unfounded fear.

I also fear that there may be a sliver of truth within it.

Don't believe that there's truth within it?

Well, I have twice as many more (haha) things to say, but I'm going to accept the
fact that I should currently be sleeping. I knew that I would not be able to sleep
sufficiently without writing at least the most important of these topics.

The topics that remain for another day are as follows:


Well, I can talk about Vitas. I really, really like Vitas. I had forgotten how much
I like Vitas. He's really quite incredible.

Wellness (chicken-egg)

That is all.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Seven. Proactivity and Something Else.

I know I have lots to say. So we'll see how concisely I can say it and if I can
remember everything to some extent. Clearly, according to the title, I've already
forgotten one thing. We'll see if it comes back.


The old theory was as follows: the one you get along with, the one you're attracted to,
the one you connect with, the one you want to follow, the one with whom you have
chemistry, the one you admire, and the one who reflects you.

Seven is a good number.

The seven intelligences: musical, logical-mathematical, kinesthetic, spatial,
linguistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

The new theory is this, and so far I'm up to six: physical, logical, mental, emotional,
spiritual, and social. Maybe number seven has something to do with communication?
...although I feel like that may fall under mental. Maybe.

Johnny Bunko has six principles. He should have seven. Personal Responsibility.

Anyway. Seven.


I think this makes the most sense so far. It's broader than the Seven Reasons and
more detailed than the dichotomy of the one who treats you right vs. the one with
whom you have commonalities. Balance and Moderation. Clearly, there is overlap, but
to me, it is sensible overlap.

These things can be framed and prioritized in many different ways. They are more
open to personal perspective. The Seven Reasons was all my philosophy and was not
generalizable. The dichotomy is too simple. To some, differences in some areas may
be more acceptable than to others.

Physical includes attraction and maybe chemistry and other areas of physical fit.

Logical is what makes sense. Logical encapsulates most (all?) of the other areas.

Mental is thinking style, etc. Some may prefer more similarities; others, differences.

Emotional is more like the wavelength on which a person functions. Maybe. I know this
is specifically important to me, but I'm not quite sure how to conceptualize it.

Spiritual refers to a lot of things, all comprising a worldview perspective.

Social is a lot like wavelength, only with others, rather than individually.

(Communication-al?). Not sure. I just needed a seventh one. This could probably
dissolve into the other areas.

I want to see how these seven align with the Seven Reasons, but not right now.


Honestly, I am so mentally drained that I can't even communicate this clearly.

Essentially, to me, anything other than passivity is more acceptable than passivity.

Passivity is stagnant and stagnancy does not induce growth.

You can't grow sitting still.

The best alternative to passivity is proactivity. Institutional Resources and the
prevention of problems.

The other alternative to passivity is reactivity. Residual Resources and solutions to

Basically, this ties into the seventh Bunko principle of personal responsibility.

If something is wrong, if you are dissatisfied with something? Change it. React to it.
I don't even care if it's not a good reaction, just do SOMETHING. Don't sit still.
If you can't change it? Work around it, reconsider if it's truly important. Find a way.

Sorry this is maybe completely incoherent. Not in a good writing mentality right now.

I've failed to remember the something else. It'll come up again, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marx, Mostly

Hi, friends. I've been reading lots of Marx lately. Three hours worth over the course
of yesterday, to be exact. ...and more to read over the weekend. Yesterday, I read
excerpts from The German Ideology and The Economic and Political Philosophies of 1844.

I read a section of The Communist Manifesto for my Intro to Socio class at HACC and
will be reading a longer portion for Tuesday (for Sociological Theory). My assignment
for HACC was simply to write a critical reaction paper. This paper, "Marx Missed Some
Things," should be archived here.

As I was even more enveloped in the depth of Marx's theories over the course of the
week, I at first felt that I disagreed more with Marx more than I had before. Later, I
felt completely mentally exhausted after reading original texts for three hours and
trying to retain as much as possible and I remedied this by watching some "Arrested
Development." Finally, after discussing our assigned reading in class today and
tying it to some things we mentioned in Methods later in the day, I once again feel
that Marx really was onto something. He did, indeed, miss some things due to some
vast logical leaps he made, but the general conflict he was addressing resonates with
so much of what I've been saying for so long. Marx missed some things in regards to
the fact that he blamed such issues on Capitalism, rather than on individuals.

Blaming the system is much like writing in the passive voice (which, by the way, is
becoming less and less accepted in scholarly research articles...we're back to I
statements, that is).

Blaming the individuals, if done with care and balance and moderation, can actually
give said individuals a great deal of freedom and responsibility. Instead of telling
a person that a negative situation is his or her fault, blaming the individual should
be done so that it sounds more like, "You can fix this."
This is called something, some term I can never quite remember. Attribution theory?
Blaming external circumstances removes the blame from the individual and also removes
autonomy from that same individual.
Blaming internal circumstances places the blame on the individual and also gives an
amount of autonomy back to that individual.

(Perhaps, here we should remember and keep in mind the "Serenity Prayer")

Blaming the individual returns autonomy and a certain kind of freedom. And, in all
honesty, after reading Marx for three hours and discussing him for another one and
a half, on top of thinking about his theories before and after the discussion; it
sounds like that's really all Marx wanted.

He describes that, in the Communist system, all individuals would have the freedom
to fish in the morning, hunt in the afternoon, and be a critical critic in the
evening (paraphrased), all the while NOT being pigeon-holed into any of those (or
other) titles.
Freedom and mobility - what Marx really wanted.

However, he missed some things. He had the right premise, the right idea, but he
landed in the wrong spot.

Speaking of that, this is also why I disagree with Hegel's theory of the dialectic.
Hegel proposes that there is some idea, a thesis, that is in tension with the opposite
idea, an antithesis. Through this tension, society will arrive at a synthesis. This
synthesis becomes the new thesis, which is in tension with its antithesis. Again, a
new idea will arise through synthesis and this process will continue until society
discovers Truth.
But, see, this doesn't do it for me because, a person can have the right premise
and the right idea, and through whatever logical or personal error, miss the mark.
Truth does not arise from such a natural process as that of the dialectic.

Anyway. Marx had the right idea, the right premise, but he landed in the wrong spot.

The greatest logical flaw that was apparent at least twice throughout all the original
text I read was this... Marx argued that the ability to labor (creatively and freely)
is what makes us human. He goes on to say that becoming laborers is also what strips
us of our humanness. While the distinction can be made that we cease to be human when
our labor ceases to be creative and free, we become simply as part of a machine, and
we become a commodity; there's a pretty significant gap in Marx's logical argument.

This process of losing the human essence, the species being, and become a simple
mode of production, an animal laborens, is what Marx refers to as alienation.

Alienation occurs because the joy is taken out of work (labor).

Marx blames this on Capitalism.

I do not.

Alienation occurs when a person is reduced to having some job that is not fulfilling.

This occurs because that person is expecting having some job, any job, will be
completely fulfilling.

(Oh, I've been talking about expectations vs. reality a LOT lately, haven't I?)

And this, my friends, ties back into EVERYTHING I've been saying for, oh, about the
past YEAR about core values.

A stupid little job (factory work, assembly line, cashier, gas station attendant, and
so on) probably will not be completely fulfilling. (I do agree with Marx that it is
especially difficult for assembly line work to bring fulfillment in regards to simple
productivity because a factory worker is so alienated and removed from both product
and the production design). However, almost all jobs will at least be fulfilling to
the extent that the worker is being productive. I believe that being productive is
a very important part of being human. This is why so many people experience post-
retirement depression and why the cycle of depression is so very difficult to stop.

However! Even though a stupid little job will not be completely satisfying, that does
not mean that an individual must be completely alienated. I realize that Marx was
criticizing a very different time in history, but I wonder what would have been
different had Marx taken this more metaphysical(?) bent?...

I've been writing for too long now and I fear that, if I continue in this same
manner, my thesis-conclusion will be blurred and muddied. So, sorry that this is
going to be short and blunt, but...

Alienation due to a stupid little job occurs when meaning is not found in a place
other than that mostly insignificant job.

Alienation can be avoided.

Alienation occurs when all meaning is wrapped up in and expected to be provided by
something that simply cannot provide all meaning.

Alienation due to a job will only occur when an individual expects that job to
provide some meaning that it simply cannot give.

I'm sorry if it's simplistic, but I believe that it works.

If you decide that you're not happy -- change your mind.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Personal Responsibility

I know I just posted a day or so ago, but I have time and I'm going to keep writing
while I have time. It feels too soon to post again, but I have more things to say and
I'm going to keep writing if I have more things to say.

On a side note, PDP is annoying in regards to the fact that it is very difficult to
learn and practice something if one is already skilled in that particular area. It
seems illogical to say, but if it's a skill that, to you, feels like second nature, it
is terribly painful and difficult to go through the time-consuming steps of a curriculum
designed to teach that skill that, to you, feels like second nature. In other words, it's
really difficult to slow down and think through a process that comes so easily.


Personal Responsibility

According to Dan Pink and The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, there are six keys to success:
1. There is no plan
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses
3. It's not about you
4. Persistence trumps talent
5. Make excellent mistakes
6. Leave an imprint

To me, the seventh Bunko principle could be: Be personally responsible.

Many things are within your control. Thus, to some extent, you are responsible for
them. Even if it is an area where other people or institutions have some influence,
if you are involved in such an area, you should take every liberty to be involved
and be responsible for how that area influences you (and your happiness!).

I'm being vague because the only example I can give will be overly obvious.

Essentially, you cannot blame an institution when you clearly had the time and
necessary resources available to avoid the issue that occurred. You certainly had the
opportunity to check and double-check and double-check again to make certain the the
institution had done its part. If you had, you would have seen the mistake, been able
to correct it, and avoided this entire mess.

I am so tired of so much.

Upcoming topic: The Seven Intelligences

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Far Too Complicated

Social networking sites such as Facebook seem to be dissolving into something useful,
but altogether shallow. A Facebook user was once able to write a finite amount of prose
in regards to his or her likes and interests. Now, Facebook utilizes a different profile
design that forces users to limit themselves to the confines of "pages" that they can
"like." These strict and simple lists now compose the Likes and Interests Section,
where there was once a greater degree of personal expression.

When this profile change was made, Facebook automatically tried to strain and filter
my personal prose of expression into such a strict and simple list. This was not easy
for Facebook to do. When I realized this was about to happen, I copied my entire Likes
and Interests Section because, as a writer, I take everything I have created quite
seriously and consider it all to be a collection of linguistic works of art, whether
real writing, journal entries, blogs, school notes, or Facebook-related items.

These new Facebook confines are common across the vast sea of social networking sites
and I believe they are far too confining. They are far too confining and they will
end with negative consequences. Perhaps most likely latent (maybe!), but negative.

Anyway. I guess this mostly has to do with an idea that is common within areas of the
Social Sciences. I apologize that I do not recall the precise term for this, but I
had Gen Psych and Intro to Socio during the Fall semester of my Senior year. I feel
like that was a long time ago. Today, I shared my fear of not remembering the basics
of my concentrations with Dr. Hayes and she reassured me that it will not be a problem.
Anyway. There's a Social Science idea (due to my taking Gen Psych and Intro to Socio
at the same time, such ideas blend together and cross department lines) that suggests
people become what they are expected to be. I believe this is mostly Labeling Theory
and is a Sociological idea, but Psychologists probably have some similar idea.

Anyway. Social Networking profiles do not allow a person to express how deep he or
she truly is and, applying Labeling Theory, if a person is treated as shallow, simple,
and uncomplicated, that is what that person is likely to become.

As I began to realize this, I began to become disgusted with the idea of a strict and
simple list within my Likes and Interests section. In order to defend against this, I
deleted the entire section. My About Me section remains as in-depth as the word limit
will allow, but I added an opening sentence of: "I am much more complicated than this."
In all honesty, I would much rather boycott the whole philosophy of the social
networking system and delete my profile altogether, but I cannot emotional bring
myself to do so, due to my severe social interest in so many other people and desire
to be easily connected to their life events, even if those life events are watered
down by the limits of such a social networking site.

I have also been considering complexity in regards to my personality as I consider
the idea of a potential romantic relationship, so that I will be somewhat prepared
when such an opportunity presents itself. Lately, I have been feeling more and more
complex and I fear there may be no one to complement my kind of complexity or at
least understand it to the point of my satisfaction. I do realize that this sounds so
wholeheartedly arrogant, but necessity and preference is important to consider, as
long as one does not create an image of the ideal. Generally, considering personal
complexity has been quite disheartening. Perhaps I will conclude such a complementing
complexity is unlikely to exist; unlikely enough that it ceases to be a necessity.

I'm not going to go into this deeply at all, but what if the changes to social
networking sites in regards to the watering down and simplifying of profiles is NOT
latent and the negative consequences are actually completely intended? What if the
minds behind social networking sites want us to feel simple and shallow so that we
become as such?

That's all for now.

Upcoming Topic: Personal Responsibility/Independence (tied to Non-Complaining!)