We go into the universe looking for a mirror in other intelligent life to make us feel less alone; but if we found it we would probably only recognizeWe go into the universe looking for a mirror in other intelligent life to make us feel less alone; but if we found it we would probably only recognize the personal, isolated nature of our individual sentience more.
I love Lem for taking the wind out of the sails of one of science fiction's most cherished ideas. He really looks at the implications and consequences of exploration. He is also one of the only sci-fi authors that I know (Bradbury would also be on the list) who can write emotion so that you feel punched in the gut. Parts of Solaris are truly terrifying if you give yourself to his images (the sentient sun producing a massive plasma child mimicking human facial expressions).
The struggle of the characters in Solaris trying to communicate with the sun, and the sun trying to communicate with them, reminded me of the struggle of one person to really relate to anyone else. An all-time favorite....more
It's been some time since I read this, but I remember being extremely frustrated by Heinlein's insistence on using silly linguistic devices like elimiIt's been some time since I read this, but I remember being extremely frustrated by Heinlein's insistence on using silly linguistic devices like eliminating articles... for the entire book. Combined with his standard, sexpot, two-dimensional female characters I was frustrated before I could get behind his ideas. ...more
A diverting comic with all of your standard sub culture devices. Probably better when it was truly novel, 20 years out the effect is muted. It's revolA diverting comic with all of your standard sub culture devices. Probably better when it was truly novel, 20 years out the effect is muted. It's revolutionary idealism and us vs them which is good as intellectual pornography but little else. The characters definitely seem a little 2D, but maybe that's because they've been reinterpreted ad infinitum since they came out....more
Common sense bomb! I wish all ladies would read this moderate, sensible approach to training. the workouts themselves aren't my style, but the philosoCommon sense bomb! I wish all ladies would read this moderate, sensible approach to training. the workouts themselves aren't my style, but the philosophy of the book is spot on... And written by a guy!...more
That happy moment (in a Kindle edition) when the last quarter of the book that you've been trudging through turns out to be indexes and annotations!
AThat happy moment (in a Kindle edition) when the last quarter of the book that you've been trudging through turns out to be indexes and annotations!
As I said in my status updates, Irvine is extremely repetitive, but the content of the book made it worth finishing. A simple, practical guide for increasing tranquility. A good stoic exercise, it turns out, is being patient with Irvine while he uses a blunt instrument to drive his points into your brain.
The only substantive disagreement I had with the content was that regarding abstinence rather than moderation and occasional self-denial of sex. Why not apply the same philosophy about food or drink or comfort to sex? Sex is one of the best ways to show care for someone if practiced carefully, not overdoing it makes us appreciate it more, just like life's other pleasures. I think that men's sex drive is a much more dominant and menacing force in their lives than for women, and all of the Stoic philosophers were men, so they recommend abstinence except as a necessity for procreation.
Summary and quotes behind the jump. (view spoiler)[ BULLET POINTZZZ: -Want the things you already have. -Enjoy good things but don't cling to them. -Be virtuous by doing your duty and being social. -Tranquility is the absence of negative emotions. -Tranquility leads to virtue and virtue to tranquility. -Hedonic adaptation - after getting what we want, we lose interest in it and replace the desire with a new or greater one. -To avoid hedonic adaptation practice wanting what you already have and "negative visualization": imagine losing the things you value. -Any act of giving thanks is an act of negative visualization. -Meditate on your own mortality to increase appreciation of life. -Three classes of things: Those which we control (opinions, impulses, desires and aversions), those over which we have some but not total control, and those over which we have no control (possessions and reputation). Do not be anxious or upset about the last two categories, and internalize your solutions to the first (ie, winning a game is something over which you only have partial control, but playing the best that you can is something over which you have complete control). -"rather than wanting events to conform to our desires, we should make our desires conform to events." -Periodically practice poverty to determine what you can live without, and to increase appreciation of what you have. -Periodically refuse pleasures because they can ensnare you. -"The most important battle any person has to fight is the battle against pleasure." -Diogenes -Review actions daily, "what ailment of yours have you cured today? What failing have you resisted? Where can you show improvement?" - Sextius -Retrospective negative visualization: "imagine never having had something that we have lost."
QUOTES: "The fatalism advocated by the Stoics is... the reverse... of negative visualization: Instead of thinking about how our situation could be worse, we refuse to think about how it could be better." -WI
"your primary desire should be... not to be frustrated by forming desires you won't be able to fulfill. Your other desires should conform to this desire, and if they don't you should do your best to extinguish them. If you succeed... you will no longer experience anxiety about whether or not you will get what you want, nor will you experience disappointment on not getting what you want." (Epictetus int. by Irvine)
"By routinely internalizing your goals, you can reduce... what would otherwise be a significant source of distress in your life: the feeling that you have failed to accomplish some goal."
"Do the things that happen to me help or harm me? It all depends... on my values... values are things over which I have complete control... if something external harms me, it is my own fault. I should have adopted different values.
"We have it entirely within our power... to prevent viciousness and cupidity from finding a home in our soul... there is nothing to stop us from cultivating... sincerity, dignity, industriousness, and sobriety; nor... to stop us from taking steps to curb our arrogance, to rise above pleasures and pains, to stop lusting after popularity, and to control our temper."
"There will be - or already has been! - a last time in your life that you brush your teeth, cut your hair, drive a car, mow the lawn or play hopscotch. There will be a last time you hear the sound of snow falling, watch the moon rise, smell popcorn, feel the warmth of a child falling asleep in your arms, or make love. You will someday eat your last meal and soon thereafter you will take your last breath." "It is a lucky accident that we are enjoying whatever it is we are enjoying, that our enjoyment of it might end abruptly, and that we might never be able to enjoy it again. We need... to learn how to enjoy things without feeling entitled to them and without clinging to them."
ON SELF-DENIAL AND SELF-DISCIPLINE: "a person who periodically experiences minor discomforts will grow confident that he can withstand major discomforts as well." "Intense pleasures, when captured by us, become our captors, meaning that the more pleasures a man captures, 'the more masters will he have to serve.'" "By practicing Stoic self-denial techniques over a long period, Stoics can transform themselves into individuals remarkable for their courage and self-control. They will be able to do things that others dread doing, and they will be able to refrain from doing things that others cannot resist doing." "Avoid becoming connoisseurs in the worst sense of the word - becoming... individuals who are incapable of taking delight in anything but 'the best'. As a result, they will be capable of enjoying a wide range of easily obtainable things." "For each desire we fulfill... a new desire will pop into our head to take its place. This means that no matter how hard we work to satisfy our desires, we will be no closer to satisfaction than if we had fulfilled none of them. We will, in other words, remain dissatisfied. A much better, albeit less obvious way to gain satisfaction is not by working to satisfy our desires but by working to master them. In particular, we need to take steps to slow down the desire-formation process within us. Rather than working to fulfill whatever desires we find in our head, we need to work at preventing certain desires from forming and eliminating many of the desires that have formed. Rather than wanting new things, we need to work at wanting the things we already have."
"When doing things to cause myself... discomfort, I view myself... as an opponent in a kind of game. This opponent... is on evolutionary autopilot. He wants nothing more than to be comfortable and to take advantage of whatever opportunities for pleasure present themselves. My other self lacks self-discipline; left to his own devices, he will always take the path of least resistance through life and as a result will be little more than a simple-minded pleasure seeker. He is also a coward. My other self is not my friend; to the contrary, he is 'an enemy lying in wait'. To win points in the contest, I must establish my dominance over him... I must cause him to experience discomfort he could easily have avoided, and I must prevent him from experiencing pleasures he might otherwise have enjoyed. When he is scared of doing something, I must force him to confront his fears and overcome them. Why play this game? In part to gain self-discipline. And why is self-discipline worth possessing? Because those who possess it have the ability to determine what they do with their life."
PRACTICE AND PROGRESS OF A STOIC: "As we go about our daily business, we should simultaneously play the roles of participant and spectator. We should, in other words, create within ourselves a Stoic observer who watches us and comments on our attempts to practice Stoicism. Along similar lines, Marcus advises us to examine each thing we do, determine our motives for doing it, and consider the value of whatever it is we were trying to accomplish." "We will discover, says Epictetus, that our feelings aren't hurt when others tell us that we know nothing or that we are 'mindless fools' about things external to us. We will shrug off their insults and slights. We will also shrug off any praise they might direct our way." "We will stop blaming, censuring, and praising others; we will stop boasting about ourselves and how much we know, and we will blame ourselves, not external circumstance, when our desires are thwarted." And because we have gained a degree of mastery over our desires, we will find that we have fewer of them than we did before; we will find, Epictetus says, that our impulses toward everything are diminished." -Ultimate test is when we are faced w/death. "Ideally, a Stoic will be oblivious to the services he does for others, as oblivious as a grapevine is when it yields a cluster of grapes to a vintner." "although it takes effort to practice Stoicism, it will require considerably more effort to not practice it." "Instead of knocking ourselves out trying to become popular, we worked to maintain and improve our relationships with those we know to be true friends." "When choosing between the options life offers, you simply choose the one most likely to help you attain the goals set forth by your philosophy of life. In the absence of (one) though, even relatively simple choices can degenerate into meaning-of-life crises. It is...hard to know what to choose when you aren't really sure what you want." "The word sacrifice... is a bit misleading. The Stoics, while doing their social duty, will not think in terms of sacrifice. Ideally, they will, as a result of practicing Stoicism, want to do what their social duty requires them to do." "Our best hope at gaining happiness is to live not a life of self-indulgence but a life of self-discipline and, to a degree, self-sacrifice."
ON INSULTS AND ANNOYING PEOPLE: "Prepare for our dealings with other people before we have to deal with them... form "a certain character and pattern" for ourselves when we are alone. Then, when we associate with other people, we should remain true to who we are." -WI "When insulted consider whether what the insulter said is true. If it is, there is little reason to be upset." "Pause to consider how well-informed the insulter is. He might be saying something bad about us not because he wants to hurt our feelings but because he sincerely believes what he is saying, or he might simply be reporting how things seem to him." "Consider the source of the insult. If I respect the source... then his critical remarks shouldn't upset me." When insults are from an annoying person: "If he disapproves of what I am doing, then what I am doing is doubtless the right thing to do. What should worry me is if this contemptible person approved of what I am doing. If I say anything at all in response to his insults, the most appropriate comment would be, 'I'm relieved that you feel that way about me.'" "We ourselves are the source of any sting that accompanies the insult."
FAME AND POPULARITY: "Stoics value their freedom, and they are therefore reluctant to do anything that will give others power over them. But if we seek social status, we give other people power over us. We have to do things calculated to make them admire us, and we have to refrain from doing things that will trigger their disfavor." "Epictetus says that when others praise us, the proper response is to laugh at them. (But not out loud! Although...we should be indifferent to other people's opinions on us, they would advise us to conceal our indifference.)" Before trying to win admiration: "ask whether these people, by pursuing whatever it is they value, are gaining the tranquility we seek. If they aren't, we should be more than willing to forgo their admiration." "Overcome our obsession with winning the admiration of other people is to go out of our way to do things likely to trigger their disdain... Cato made a point of ignoring the dictates of fashion... not because he 'sought vainglory'... but in order to accustom himself 'to be ashamed only of what was really shameful, and to ignore men's low opinion of other things.'"
FOOD,DRINK, and LUXURY: "When, as the result of being exposed to luxurious living, people become hard to please... rather than mourning the loss of their ability to enjoy simple things, they take pride in their newly gained inability to enjoy anything but 'the best'. The Stoics, however would pity these individuals... by undermining their ability to enjoy simple, easily obtainable things... these individuals have seriously impaired their ability to enjoy life." "Luxury, Seneca warns, uses her wit to promote vices: First she makes us want things that are inessential, then she makes us want things that are injurious. Before long, the mind becomes slave to the body's whims and pleasures." "If we... forgo luxurious living, we will find that our needs are easily met... life's necessities are cheap and easily obtainable. Those who crave luxury typically have to spend considerable time and energy to attain it; those who eschew luxury can devote this... to other, more worthwhile undertakings." "Self-respect, trustworthiness and high-mindedness are more valuable than wealth."
DEATH: "On the way to his execution, when someone asked about his state of mind, Canus replied that he was preparing himself to observe the moment of death in order to learn whether, in that moment, the spirit is aware that it is leaving the body." "Someone who thinks he will live forever is far more likely to waste his days than someone who fully understands that his days are numbered and one way to gain this understanding is periodically to contemplate his own death."
GRIEF: (Reminds me of Victor Frankl)(Sally Satel and Christina Hoff Sommers) "recent findings suggest that reticence and suppression of feelings, far from compromising one's psychological well-being, can be healthy and adaptive. For many temperaments, an excessive focus on introspection and self-discourse is depressing. Victims of loss and tragedy differ widely in their reactions: Some benefit from therapeutic intervention, most do not and should not be coerced by mental health professionals into emotionally correct responses. Trauma and grief counselors have erred massively in this direction."
EXILE: "If we are virtuous - if we have proper values - exile cannot harm or degrade us." "To endure and even thrive in exile, Musonius says, a person must keep in mind that his happiness depends more on his values than on where he resides." "Even in exile we can associate with others and our true friends will not refuse to associate with us just because we have been exiled."
MARCUS AURELIUS: "the art of living is more like wrestling than dancing" "Beware lest delight in them leads you to cherish them so dearly that their loss would destroy your peace of mind." "Fellowship is the purpose behind our creation." "When someone says he wants to be perfectly straightforward with us, we should be on the lookout for a concealed dagger." When we find ourselves irritated by someone's shortcomings, we should pause to reflect on our own shortcomings. Lessen negative impact of others on us by controlling our thoughts about them. Don't waste time speculating about what our neighbors are doing, saying, thinking or scheming. Don't allow mind to be filled w/"sensual imaginings, jealousies, envies, suspicions..." "Nothing is worth doing point-lessly."
SENECA: "Be the user, but not the slave, of the gifts of Fortune." "he robs present ills of their power who has perceived their coming beforehand"("Be ahead of all partings" -Rilke) "It is a great consolation that it is together with the universe we are swept along." "Chastity comes with time to spare, lechery never has a moment." "When contemplating whether to criticize someone, he should consider not only whether the criticism is valid but also whether the person can stand to be criticized. He adds that the worse a man is, the less likely he is to accept constructive criticism." "To know how many are jealous of you, count your admirers." Goal in practice: "every day I reduce the number of my vices, and blame my mistakes." Vices are contagious and spread from those who have them to those with whom they make contact. "Why is it an insult to be told what is self-evident?" If insulted, "I do not even remember being struck." "Unless reason puts an end to our tears, fortune will not do so." "Reason will never enlist the aid of reckless unbridled impulses over which it has no authority." -If we coddle ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be corrupted by pleasure, nothing will seem bearable to us, and the reason things will seem unbearable is not because they are hard but because we are soft. (paraphrase by WI) "Our anger invariably lasts longer than the damage done to us." "Laughter and a lot of it, is the right response to the things which drive us to tears." "We are bad men living among bad men, and only one thing can calm us - we must agree to go easy on one another." "Turn all anger's indicators into their opposites." (relax face, soften voice, slow down - internal state will soon resemble external) "The man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man." "A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is... do away with complaint about past sufferings... what point is there in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy?" "He shows a greater mind who does not restrain his laughter than he who does not restrain his tears, since the laughter gives expression to the mildest of the emotions, and deems that there is nothing important, nothing serious, nor wretched either, in the whole outfit of life."
MUSONIUS: "In a good marriage, two people will join in a loving union and will try to outdo each other in the care they show for each other." -People with extravagant diets... resemble iron that, because it is inferior, must constantly be sharpened. "Would rather be sick than live in luxury. Sickness may harm the body but a life of luxury harms the soul by making it undisciplined and cowardly. Luxurious living must be completely avoided." "Choose to die well while you can; wait too long, and it might become impossible to do so." "It is better to die with distinction than to live long."
EPICTETUS (was lame and a slave): "Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses you or hits you, but the judgement about them that they are insulting. Another person will not do you harm unless you wish it, you will be harmed at just that time at which you take yourself to be harmed." -If someone insults you, remind them that you have much worse faults. "It is better to die of hunger with distress and fear gone than to live upset in the midst of plenty." Via Decartes; "Always to seek to conquer myself rather than fortune, to change my desires rather than the established order, and generally to believe that nothing except our thoughts is wholly under our control, so that after we have done our best in external matters, what remains to be done is absolutely impossible, at least as far as we are concerned." (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The moderately interesting account of the level of obsessiveness and self adsorption necessary to be the best at something. Weird advocacy of eating dThe moderately interesting account of the level of obsessiveness and self adsorption necessary to be the best at something. Weird advocacy of eating disorders as training....more
This is a very entertaining, well-written fantasy. That said, I hate fantasy and I only read this because I wanted to read something non-thinky. I imaThis is a very entertaining, well-written fantasy. That said, I hate fantasy and I only read this because I wanted to read something non-thinky. I imagine I would have really enjoyed this as a tween. Madeline L'Engle's still the queen of the fantasy/physics/girl hero/spirituality genre. ...more
So many interesting ideas about how different perspectives limit us (premature cognitive commitments, expectations, education for outcome, a belief inSo many interesting ideas about how different perspectives limit us (premature cognitive commitments, expectations, education for outcome, a belief in linear time, CONTEXT!) and how challenging those perspectives (directly and indirectly) can effect our aging, struggles with addiction, health, and quality of life in general. I liked the insight that Langer gave into the way she developed her experiments.
Though she didn't provide many practical "exercises" for increasing mindfulness, her designs give some insight into how people can challenge their own mindlessness. The quotes below are included here for my reference - most of her assertions are buttressed by very eye-opening research that she describes in some detail in the book, but I can't paste everything!
Bullet-point style highlights to remember: "Entrapment by category" - categories can be limiting, but the creation of new categories is mindful. "Automatic Behavior" - routine can lead to greater (negative) compliance "Acting from a single perspective" - highly specific instructions encourage mindlessness - ie, following the instructions exactly even if a better solution exists.
Freud - the act of learning about the world involves falsifying it by creating categories, especially related to change.
Mindlessness of "Experts" - highly skilled people become less capable when they break down the skill to explain it to someone. When a novel technique is introduced, novices at a discipline may have an edge over experts because repetition leads to mindlessness.
"Another way that we become mindless is by forming a mindset when we first encounter something and then clinging to it when we reencounter that same thing. Because such mindsets form before we do much reflection, we call them premature cognitive commitments."
Belief in Limited Resources: "As long as people cling to a narrow belief in limited resources, those who are fortunate enough to win by the arbitrary (but rigid) rules that are set up, such as SAT scores, have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Those who are not getting what they want, however, might pause to consider that they may be part of someone else's costly construction of reality."
"We may push ourselves to what we believe are our limits, in swimming, public speaking, or mathematics. However, whether they are true limits is not determinable. It may be in our best interest to proceed as though these and other abilities might be improved upon, so that at least we will not be deterred by false limits."
If a task seems unmanageable, break it down to whatever unit seems manageable and start from there. Look for examples of success.
What you expect to happen determines what you do now: "The future may be as capable of 'causing' the present as is the past. What should I study now for the exam I'm taking later? St. Augustine said, 'The present, therefore, has several dimensions . . . the present of things past, the present of things present, and the present of things future.'"
Process vs. Outcome oriented learning - latter can be overcome by asking "how" rather than "can": "Provisional goals are subject to continual revision. The process-oriented person is less likely to be caught off-guard if circumstances change. The style of education that concentrates on outcomes generally also presents facts unconditionally. This approach encourages mindlessness."
The expectation that comes with a label changes how we react to experiences: "The same situation or stimulus called by a different name is a different stimulus. Roller coasters are fun but bumpy plane rides are not."
Be aware of roles contained within roles to stay flexible.
"Our tendency to focus on outcome, which we discussed in the last chapter, also narrows our self-image. When we envy other people's assets, accomplishments, or characteristics, it is often because we are making a faulty comparison. We may be looking at the results of their efforts rather than at the process they went through on the way... Keeping an eye on process, on the steps anyone must take to become expert, keeps us from disparaging ourselves."
"A self image based on past performance may also inhibit us... Past experience determines present reactions and robs the individual of control. If we looked for new aspects of the situations in which we find ourselves, we probably could prevent learned helplessness."
self-induced dependence: "Though they began participating with equal competence, the labels that they had assumed undermined their performance."
Each step is as important as the first, each offers a new choice: "What seems to happen when we take small steps is that, after the first step, we do not think to question our behavior until, by looking back, we can see how far we've unwittingly come."
"If we fall into a routine rather than make decisions anew each time, we can get mindlessly seduced into activities we wouldn't engage in otherwise."
"alcoholics who see the cause of their problem as purely genetic seem to give up the control that could help their recovery. When we have a single-minded explanation, we typically don't pay attention to information that runs counter to it."
"Einstellung, or mental set, psychologists Abraham Luchins and Edith Hirsch Luchins found that after subjects could perform a mathematical task without thinking, the vast majority kept using the same solutions even when a simpler one became available."
Part II: Mindfulness "the key qualities of a mindful state of being: (1) creation of new categories; (2) openness to new information; and (3) awareness of more than one perspective."
"By investigating how someone got somewhere, we are more likely to see the achievement as hard-won and our own chances as more plausible."
"the proper meditation techniques are said to result in a state that has been called de-automatization. In this state, old categories break down and the individual is no longer trapped by stereotypes."
"is such a potent marker that whatever happens to our minds and bodies in later life, we assume it to be the result of advancing years. If older people do anything the least bit unusual, we label it eccentricity or senility, even if they have been doing the same thing all their lives. Within such constricting mindsets, tight as an undersized suit of armor, growth, flexibility, and new enterprise become impossible. Not only the quality but the length of our lives may be affected."
"Among other effects, increased mindfulness appears to reduce the depression associated with old age...This technique, in which subjects take note of the choices they make in daily activities, had already been shown to be an effective way to increase mind- fulness.3 It rests on an assumption about the nature of choice: The opportunity to make choices increases our motivation. In most of our ordinary activities, however, the potential choices that once existed are long forgotten. If I have orange juice for breakfast every day, even though there are many alternatives available, chances are I am not making a meaningful choice. Meaningful choice involves some awareness of the other alternatives that have not been selected. Through this awareness we learn something about ourselves, our tastes and preferences. For instance, if I stop to ask myself why I'm not having grapefruit or tomato juice, I would know it was not just that I wanted something cold, since all of them are cold; and not that I wanted a citrus flavor, since both grapefruit and orange offer that. Perhaps I wanted something sweet and citrusy. Distinctions like this, in such minor but also in more important ways, make us aware of how we are. shaping our days"
"Well-meant protectiveness gradually undermines any autonomy. And more coercive interference, such as tying residents into their chairs all day to keep them from "hurting themselves," defeats any shred of initiative. Watching someone else do things that we used to do ourselves leads us to feel that we are now incapable of doing them. This is true even when the only reason for our inaction is outside ourselves (institutional policy, for example)."
"When there is one ready explanation for something-being old-we rarely search for other possible causes. Since no one bothers to find out just what the old person can or can't do, a lowest-common-denominator level of care is administered. When the will to act is thwarted, it atrophies into a wish to be taken care of."
"A full 90 percent of the elderly subjects felt that there was a good chance they would become senile, even though, according to medical accounts, only 4 percent of those over 64 suffer from a severe form of senility, and only another 10 percent suffer from a milder version."
"When our minds are set on one thing or on one way of doing things, mindlessly determined in the past, we blot out intuition and miss much of the present world around us."
"Bach also spoke of the effortless flow of musical ideas. Asked how he found his melodies, he said, 'The problem is not finding them, it's-when getting up in the morning and getting out of bed-not stepping on them.'"
"people create uses for objects. A use is not inherent in an object, independent of the people using it. The successful use of an object depends on the context of its use."
"choice makes us feel more responsible for what we are doing; the children given the choice might have cared more and tried harder. Choosing materials-making comparisons-also forces us to draw mindful distinctions. It encourages a conditional view, a sense of possibility."
"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play." - ARNOLD TOYNBEE
"Avert the danger not yet arisen." - Vedic proverb
"mental and physical exhaustion may be determined by premature cognitive commitments; in other words, unquestioned expectations dictate when our energy will run out."
"the change of context brought renewed energy. When Karsten had subjects read poems aloud, after a while they became hoarse. When they complained to her how they hated the task, however, the hoarseness disappeared. Similarly, another subject, who claimed to be so fatigued that she could no longer lift her arm to make even one more hatch mark, was then seen casually lifting her arm to fix her hair."
"Another kind of mindset that can lead to fatigue is the way we define a task. When we begin any undertaking, we have a mental picture of its beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning we tend to be energetic and mindful. In the middle phase, we may perform the task mindlessly or mindfully. If we are performing it mindfully, we are involved in creating new distinctions while we do it. We do not have a sense of ourselves as separate from the task. The task may seem effortless as long as we are involved in process and distinctions are being created. If we do the task mindlessly, we rely on distinctions already made. As the task nears its end, we typically become focused on outcome and also expect fatigue to occur. We now notice the task as separate from ourselves as we evaluate the outcome. When we near the end of activities that we expect to be tiring, fatigue arrives. This mental picture of the end of a task is a self-imposed context and makes fatigue almost inevitable. Changing contexts before reaching this point may prevent fatigue."
"If a new physical exercise, for example, is still seen as exercise, the expectation of fatigue in that context may remain."
"Creating the position of outsider in a company, regardless of the characteristics of the person hired to fill it, can keep important questions flowing. Just as a traveler to a foreign culture notices what people indigenous to that culture take for granted, an outsider in a company may notice when the corporate natives are following what may now be irrational traditions or destructive myths."
"play is almost always mindful. People take risks and involve themselves in their play. Imagine making play feel routine; it would not be playful. In play, there is no reason not to take some risks. In fact, without risk, the pleasures of mastery would disappear."
"Burnout sets in when two conditions prevail: Certainties start to characterize the workday, and demands of the job make workers lose a sense of control."
"An understanding of the nature of mindfulness suggests a different approach to combating prejudice-one in which we learn to make more, rather than fewer, distinctions among people. If we keep in mind the importance of context and the existence of multiple perspectives, we see that the perception of skills and handicaps changes constantly, depending on the situation and the vantage point of the observer. Such awareness prevents us from regarding a handicap as a person's identity. Instead of a "cripple" or a "diabetic" or an "epileptic," we would see a man with a lame leg, a woman with diabetes, or an adolescent with seizures. These distinctions become more useful when further refined, for example: a person with 70 percent hearing instead of a deaf person, someone with non-insulin-dependent diabetes instead of diabetes."
"attributes are relative and not absolute, that whether or not something is a disability depends on the context."
"Without looking closely and noticing that the same stimulus in different contexts is a different stimulus, we become victims of the associations we ourselves constructed. When we are tormented by unwanted emotions, we assume it could be no other way."
"Any stimulus can be seen as simultaneously many stimuli. Our perceptions and interpretations influence the way our bodies respond. When the "mind" is in a context, the "body" is necessarily also in that context. To achieve a different physiological state, sometimes what we need to do is to place the mind in another context."
"A more mindful approach would be to look carefully at all these pleasures and to find other ways of obtaining them. If the needs served by an addiction can be served in other ways, it should be easier to shake."
"In one recent experiment we gave arthritis sufferers various interesting word problems to increase their mental activity. For example, subjects in this group were given slightly doctored sayings such as "a bird in the bush is worth two in the hand," and were asked to explain them. Comparison subjects were given the old familiar versions. In the mindful group, not only did subjective measures of comfort and enjoyment change, but some of the chemistry of the disease (sedimentation rates of the blood in this case) was affected as well.31 There were no significant changes in the comparison group."
"Corin: And how like you this shepherd's life, Master Touchstone?
Touchstone: Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my humour well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach. Hast any philosophy in thee shepherd?" - WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE As You Like It, act 3, scene 2
It's a testament to how awesome this book is and how quickly I got through it that I didn't even had time to post that I *wanted* to read it here befoIt's a testament to how awesome this book is and how quickly I got through it that I didn't even had time to post that I *wanted* to read it here before I had already finished it!
It has a really colloquial tone, which might annoy some readers but made the reading really quick. It's an adventure story, personal narrative, anthropology, self-help, pop science book all rolled into one completely fun and inspiring package. It will make you want to kick off your shoes and go play in the dirt with some friends. Highly recommended to everyone, especially people who are bored or sedentary. One big catalyst for pulling me out of my winter funk.
Only given four stars because it didn't include a bibliography or references, and for a book with so much science, it's a real pain in the ass to run that stuff down on your own if you're interested in the subject or want to confirm the author's research. Other than that, seriously, epic fun!...more
What really sticks with me about this novel, besides the density of Marquez' style (he reminds me of the way Kobo Abe writes about sand in Woman in thWhat really sticks with me about this novel, besides the density of Marquez' style (he reminds me of the way Kobo Abe writes about sand in Woman in the Dunes... extremely physical) is the development of the characters. The story follows two lovers through their entire lives, and tracks the changes in their personalities and the realities of their lives extremely convincingly.
Marquez writes individual characters as if they truly are individuals - sometimes I caught myself wondering "how can all of these people exist simultaneously in his mind?" I've never read anything like it on that count. Marquez seems to disappear as the narrator behind the force of his protagonists' depth. These characters grow deeper, grow older, their motivations change - and he is able (especially at the end of the novel when Fermina and Florentino are getting back together) to actually demonstrate the tension between two people who are informed by completely different motivations and histories.
A lot of people criticize this book based on how (un)sympathetic they are to the characters, but I would say that reading it that way is completely missing out on the genius of the work. Lame, practical, promiscuous, compromising, weak - whatever his characters are, they are probably the most realistic people I've ever read in fiction. ...more