January 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s always been about her eyes.
The moment I met her I knew there was something different about her. I’d like to think that what I was sensing was some deep spiritual pull toward the woman that was meant to be the love of my life. But perhaps that’s just my heart trying to rationalize what my mind didn’t want to admit. Perhaps that pull that I felt was just the pull of those eyes. Baby blue and staring back at me. No, piercing into my very substance. I knew those eyes told a story that I had to hear. Something about those eyes made me feel like I had to open the book of this girl’s soul and read it cover to cover. I was lost. I was trapped. When I looked into those beautiful eyes and they looked back at me, I knew I had no chance. Something came over me and my mind filled with a passion that I couldn’t control.
We met at a dog park. I believe we had met in passing once previously. But we had our first real conversation at a dog park. I had just finished walking my dog and I was about to head home when, in what can only be described as perhaps the most life changing accident of my life, my dog started dragging me toward this girl. And I don’t mean she dragged me straight ahead, as if this girl was in my direct path. No, my dog starting pulling me in the complete opposite direction toward some girl 100 yards away on the opposite side of a fence. I sighed. I swore under my breath at my dog. For a split second I considered turning back around and dragging my dog’s big ass back to my apartment.
I don’t know why, but I didn’t. I let my dog drag me toward this girl. As I approached we exchanged words. She mentioned that she was from Queens. I mentioned that I’d stayed in Queens a couple summers back. She gives me an odd look. To this day I don’t know why. We stand in front of the gate to the dog park and exchange words for maybe five minutes. Unexpectedly, she asks if I wanted to go into the dog park together and talk.
The rest is history.
It wasn’t that we stayed in that dog park talking for hours. It wasn’t that we had so much to talk about that we rambled until it was dark outside and I was late for my night shift. No, it wasn’t any of that. Sure, we had chemistry. Chemistry is nice. Chemistry is important. But chemistry is fleeting and fragile. We had something else. Something that I can’t describe.
I think it was those damn eyes. I remember looking off into the distance during a brief lull in our conversation. I could feel her eyes on me. Reading me. Looking for something. In my peripheral I could see her smiling at me. I don’t know if she felt the same thing I did. But she felt something. I know it.
Nine months later we’re living together and madly in love. Things haven’t changed. She still gets me with those eyes. But it’s more than that. Much more. What exactly? It’s hard to pin down precisely. But if I had to try…
Maybe it’s the way she lays her head on my chest as she falls asleep every night. Maybe it’s the way she always thinks of me and does little things for me, even if she’s busy with work. Maybe it’s the feeling I get when I hold her in my arms. Maybe it’s the way her dress blows freely in the wind as we goof around at the Sunday flea market. Maybe it’s the way she looks deeply into my eyes at every stop light we hit and doesn’t say a word. Maybe it’s the fact that we can be ourselves around each other – and yes, we are weirdoes. Maybe it’s the way we can spend every waking minute of our free time together and still never get sick of one another. Maybe it’s the way she laughs hysterically at me when I’m just being myself. Maybe it’s that we feel comfortable going into public together and just being ourselves and letting our freak flags fly. Maybe it’s the honesty in her voice when she tells me she wants everything with me. When she tells me she wants to marry me. When she tells me she wants to have a family with me. When she tells me about the deepest and darkest depths of her soul without fear of being judged. Maybe it’s the sincerity in her voice when she tells me I’m the best she’s ever had. Maybe it’s the look in her eyes when we make love and she tells me she’s never felt this way about anyone before.
Maybe it’s love.
No, no. It’s those eyes. It’s always those damned beautiful eyes.
And love. Deep, unconditional, love.
And it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.
January 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
Mises and Praxeology
The work of the late Ludwig von Mises almost entirely focused on analyzing economics through a praxeological lens. To put it simply, the science of Praxeology is based on the common sense assumption that humans “act”. That is to say that human beings act consciously in order to obtain a desired condition which they value as superior to their current state of affairs. If a man were perfectly content he would refrain from any action. Put simply, purposeful action is what keeps men from merely living in a vegetative state. Humans eat and drink in order to stay alive. We build homes to provide comfort for our families. We obtain jobs to satisfy all of these desires(thirst, comfort, etc). Our lives are a series of purposeful actions meant to strive toward conditions that we as individuals value as desirable.
When Mises’ first expounded on these ideas he was scoffed at and (more typically) ignored. Indeed, when Mises’ was at his most prolific the field of psychology was awash in the (now defunct) ideas of B.F. Skinner and the behaviorists. Research into the cognitive sciences (from a strictly scientific perspective) was in its infancy. Thus, any philosophy which approached the social sciences from the perspective that individuals make purposeful decisions and don’t simply react to the external stimuli of their environment would have trouble gaining any traction in academia. And that’s precisely what happened to Mises’ work on Praxeology.
Changing Tides & A New Era
However, Over the past half century or so things have changed quite a bit. The field of psychology has essentially purged behaviorist ideas from its ranks and scientific research into the field of cognitive science has changed the way we look at the human mind.
And although the social sciences as a whole have been reluctant to embrace the new findings of evolutionary psychology and cognitive science, it’s simply a matter of time before the day of reckoning. The mounting evidence in these new fields denies a lot of the preciously held dogmas of the social sciences. And when that time comes, it will be important to analyze many ideas which might have been swept under the rug by previous generations. Mises’ work on Praxeology will undoubtedly be one of these ideas.
Computational Theory of Mind
The cognitive revolution which occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century did what generations of philosophers couldn’t. It bridged the gap between physical events and ideas/intentions. Philosophers couldn’t understand how something as abstract as “wanting a sandwich” could incite matter to move in space and make a sandwich. Advances in cognitive science explained exactly how.
The computational theory of mind is best (and most succinctly) explained by Steven Pinker:
[Cognitive science says that] “…mental life can be explained in terms of information, computation, and feedback. Beliefs and memories are collections of information — like facts in a database…thinking and planning are systematic transformations of these patterns, like the operations of a computer program.”
Perhaps most interestingly is how closely the ideas espoused by cognitive science mirror how Mises describes human action in regards to Praxeology(in particular compare the two boldfaced sentences). Pinker goes on:
Wanting and trying are feedback loops, like the principle behind a thermostat: they receive information about the discrepancy between a goal and the current state of the world, and then they execute operations that tend to reduce the difference.
Compare this to Mises’ description of human action in Theory and History:
The significance of value judgments consists precisely in the fact that they are the springs of human action. Guided by his valuations, man is intent upon substituting conditions that please him better for conditions which he deems less satisfactory. He employs means in order to attain ends sought.
Clearly the findings of cognitive science provide ample support for Mises’ work on human action and Praxeology. What’s particularly impressive (perhaps a bit shocking) is that Mises had the forethought and wherewithal (stubbornness?) to press on and publish such ideas despite the fact that he knew the majority of his contemporaries would be downright hostile to them.
This connection is huge, and I’d be very interesting to see a professional academic do a better job of bridging the gap between cognitive science and Praxeology. These ideas could change the focus of the social sciences in a drastic fashion ( if indeed they held up to scrutiny).
January 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
For a while there I was legitimately worried about myself. I had entered a pretty dark stage of my life. I made some drastic changes and I think I completely freaked myself out. That isn’t to say I’m totally out of the dark. But I get the feeling I’ve done enough to reevaluate the very foundation of the thought processes that were stressing me out the most.
The bottom line is that I have to just do what I’ve always done and just sort of be chill. I’ve been getting crazy worked up over the past six months or so. I was previously blaming the major life changes I’ve made for my stress. I thought that those changes were what forced me to acknowledge all of the issues in my life and my past that I had previously ignored. And although that may be true to a certain extent, I think a better explanation is that I’ve simply lost touch with myself.
I’ve never cared. I never cared that my childhood was dysfunctional. I just sort of lived life by the seat of my pants and said “fuck it” to whatever stressed me out. That’s what caused me to eventually end my previous long term relationship.I got stressed so I said fuck it and met someone who didn’t stress me out. Then when I entered a new relationship, for a number of reasons I lost sight of this easygoing and chill perspective on life.
After thinking things over (okay, this thought literally just occurred to me as I was typing), I think one of the main reasons I’ve begun to stress over my precarious family situation (and the whole fear of “being alone”) was that my new partner suffered a lot of the same kinds of issues growing up that I had. One of the things we had most in common was a less than picture perfect childhood. It’s part of what made us connect on such a deep level. This common ground led to conversations about our past..conversations that I hadn’t really ever had with anyone else. So I’m bringing up these ideas in the midst of making life altering changes. It’s not hard to see how this type of thing could stress someone out. I’m not suggesting that this is anyone’s fault or even that it was unhealthy. It was probably better that I acknowledge the things I’d spent years ignoring.
However, I think it’s overstating my situation to say that I’ve spent my entire life up until this point denying or suppressing thoughts of my childhood. It’s more so that I was a very calm person with an easy going perspective on life. Maybe that was some kind of “defense mechanism” or elaborate wall I used to deny the issues I never wanted to face. I’m sure you could take this down some deep rabbit hole of psychoanalysis. But the point remains, I was always very calm and cool person. I’ve lost sight of that over the past 6 months and its stressed me the fuck out.
So, here’s to attempting to go back to that “fuck it” mentality. I can still love with passion as I always have. I can still be there for the person I love. I can still be a good person. But I don’t have to live my life in fear of the future or the past. Dying alone won’t happen, man. Not if you live your life like someone who doesn’t deserve to be alone. Don’t be afraid, don’t be bitter, and don’t be a dick.
I’ve never been the jealous type. I know I’m a great lover. I realize that I’m the shit at sex. Like really fucking good. 🙂 Just like my family related stress, all of my recent insecurities are the direct result of me losing sight of who I am. I’m relaxed. I’m calm. I’m chill. I’m cool. I’m not worried with what others will do to me. Because karma, n’at. If you know someone you care about has lied to you, eh, fuck it. They’ll get theirs. That’s life. Only you can make you happy. That’s something I had(have?) to reteach myself.
Until next time,
P.S. Tame Impala is reportedly coming out with a new album in 2015. I’m so stoked. Totes mcgoats, bruh.
January 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
This post was inspired by part II of Ludwig von Mises’ Theory and History. Individual sections of this book have enough information to keep most minds busy for years. This is the type of work that would need to be read multiple times before the gravity of the ideas presented could be fully appreciated. That said, small chunks of Theory and History can inspire interesting ideas immediately upon reading . These ideas are nothing more than me “riffing” on what amounts to a miniscule part of what Mises presents in his work. But given that I’m a 24 year old engineer with no professional philosophy background and a full time job, this is going to have to suffice.
Human history is the story of progress. It is undeniable that all individuals strive for “progress”. In this context progress can be roughly described as “conditions which individual actors consider to be preferable to a previous set of conditions”. Put simply, individuals act in order to attain a set of conditions they find superior to their current condition. That is the end of all human action. This is apodictically true (self-evident).
Different individuals chose different ways of obtaining this ultimate end. That is to say their means may vary. Two individuals faced with the same exact conditions may (and likely will) chose two different means. This is what “free will” describes. However, the means that individuals decide upon are not selected in a vacuum. All human action is guided by previous ideas discovered by earlier generations. It is the job of future generations to build upon this knowledge.
Human history has provided mankind with a growing number of ideas and facts that were unknown to previous generations. Although the breadth of human knowledge is now far too great for any individual to ever understand all of it, it remains true that the average human being’s knowledge has grown rapidly (perhaps exponentially?). The overall growth in human knowledge has spurred a great increase in technological advancement which in turn makes an unprecedented amount of information easily accessible to average people.
With a growth in knowledge and the technological advancement that follows comes an increase in the ability of mankind to fulfill its ultimate end: “progress”. With this progress comes an increased ability to sustain more human life. Better agro science leads to increased crop efficiency. Improved biopharmaceuticals help cure numerous diseases and ailments which might otherwise cause large scale death. More efficient energy sources make it easier and cheaper to provide power to more people. Put simply, progress increases the ability to support human life.
It’s rather obvious that we’re at the very beginning of what will be a large scale increase in the standard of living of millions of people across the world. It’s impossible for the human mind to grasp the concept of time at such grand scales, but I’m of the opinion that the next millennium might be the real “sweet spot” for the average human looking to get the most out of life.
Hear me out: the average middle class American professional has the ability to save enough cash to buy a significant plot of land as well as access to technology which would allow him about as much independence as he could as for. The United States has a plethora of cheap, fertile land and the average American has enough wealth to tap into the increasingly advanced and available technology necessary to live a more independent lifestyle. For the first time in human history, the educated middle class doesn’t need to live in the city to survive. And with the clear example of the rotting (and short lived) modern American suburban experiment fresh in his mind, the answer seems abundantly clear.
Yes, modern progress has led to urbanization. And there is no doubt that urbanity is one of the cornerstones of civilization. But certain western nations (in North America especially) have a unique set of circumstances which allow for the average citizen to have the best of both worlds: the culture and education of modern civilization alongside the peacefulness and serenity of the beautiful countryside.
I made a somewhat tongue in cheek comment above that our current epoch is a “sweet spot”. That’s because, without going full Malthusian, it’s clear that eventually the growth in human population with outgrow the land mass available. Given the massive amount of open land in North America and the continuing trend toward urbanization this would likely take a long ass time (hence my earlier “out of my ass” prediction of a millennium – which is a blink of an eye in terms of the history of the earth).
The take away here is that we live in a unique historical crossroads. We’re at a point in time where human knowledge has provided the average middle class citizen the ability to buy cheap land and live a moderately independent lifestyle. There will soon come a time when the growth in human population which results from these technological and scientific advancements will cause a scarcity of land and this window of opportunity will close. All it takes is a steady professional income and a good amount of financial foresight and this new “American dream” can be yours.
As a 24 year old making almost three times as much as the average high school graduate, I plan on taking full advantage of this opportunity. 🙂
January 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’m finishing up Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”. Kerouac’s true stories about his cross country trips during the 1940’s offer a one of a kind glimpse into the beatnik culture. But more than that, this book has a lot of parallels to my own life and seems to speak to me as more than just a cultural artifact of mid twentieth century life in America. As a 20 something wrestling with a lot of my own issues I can find a lot of common ground with Keruoac’s story.
I just came across a specific excerpt this morning that particularly stuck out to me. Jack Kerouac’s character, Sal, is having a conversation with his close friend and traveling companion, Dean Moriarty (whose character was based on the Beat generation writer Neal Cassady). They had recently made it to Sal’s hometown in New York after road tripping from San Francisco. They had both grown tired of NY and were ready to move on. I’ll leave you with the excerpt, which speaks to me as much as any chunk of text I’ve ever come across:
I’ll tell you. Sal, straight, no matter where I live, my trunk’s always sticking out from under the bed, I’m ready to leave or get thrown out. I’ve decided to leave everything out of my hands. You’ve seen me try and break my ass to make it and you know that it doesn’t matter and we know time — how to slow it up and walk and dig and jus old-fashioned spade kicks, what other kicks are there? We know.” We sighed in the rain. It was falling all up and down the Hudson Valley that night. The great world piers of the sea-wide river were drenched in it, old steamboat landings at Poughkeepsie were drenched in it, old Split Rock Pond of sources was drenched in it, Vanderwhacker Mount was drenched in it. “So,” said Dean, “I’m cutting along in my life as it leads me.