American semiotic circus

American semiotics are delightfully absurd today from a semiotician’s point of view.

Step back and appreciate the humor of the whole picture: Moralist are trapped in mono-dimensional positions.

Our post-PC culture still strictly does not permit nuance.

Even though our airwaves are filled with mega-babes dressed—or half-dressed—to the nines, you are not allowed to look down if you happen to have the good fortune of working with them.

No, I am not laughing at the victims. I am laughing at the absurdity of a culture that cannot untangle the many inevitable ramifications of human sexuality.

This is truly theater of the absurd, a semiotic circus that evokes sadness as well as laughter. The joke’s on us, after all!

A murky accusation that reaches across forty years of cultural change to discredit a politician on the eve of an election brings out establishment moralists who simply must weigh in. But then, almost on cue, the photo of a now-former-moralist senator groping a former playmate through her flak-jacket effectively parries the charge!

If Hillary or Demi Moore does it, it’s OK. And that is how it should be, to be honest.

My sense is deep down we are witnessing a massive cultural change taking place in part due to (and despite) the semiotic shallowness of PC and post-PC public life in America.

My partner this morning said with real feeling, “Don’t people realize these sex stories are [evolutionarily] a million years old and our continuing to discuss them like middle- schoolers is actually hiding much worse stuff beneath them?”

I bet most don’t.

My hope is that these semiotic weapons (the accusations) are the start of a real battle against The Swamp alluded to by my partner. All cultures need deep change from time to time. Usually that change is violent. I hope this one will continue to be (mostly) nonviolent and absurd, a mixture of sadness and humor, profundity and nonsense.

Friendship, reality, psychological health

Psychological health depends on at least one good friendship which is itself based on shared reality.

This shared “reality” is the reality of how the two (or more) good friends actually function. How their speaking, listening, thinking, and feeling actually function and interact in real-time.

They have to know this about each other and even more importantly, they have to want to know this.

If you have or have had that, you will be or become psychologically healthy. If you have never had that, you will not be psychologically healthy.

This “shared reality” is not static and can never be static. It is always changing, adapting. It must be dealt with honestly.

“Aristotle describes three general types of friendship, that of utility, that of pleasure, and that of good or virtue.” (Aristotle on Friendship)

The perfect form of friendship is that between the good, and those who resemble each other in virtue. For these friends wish each alike the other’s good in respect of their goodness, and they are good in themselves; but it is those who wish the good of their friends for their friends’ sake who are friends in the fullest sense, since they love each other for themselves and not accidentally. (same link as above)

If during your formative years, your parents, teachers, and friends did not wish for your goodness for your sake and you have not since formed a good or virtuous friendship, you will not be psychologically healthy. This does not mean you are doomed, it just means you are not psychologically healthy.

To achieve good health, you have to have a “good or virtuous” friend and you have to be that back to them. There is no other way.

If you have an Aristotelian friend of pleasure, you can upgrade this relationship to a good or virtuous one by doing FIML practice. FIML is essential in today’s world because semiotic interactions are so complex, far more complex than in Aristotle’s day.

Good or virtuous friends need FIML to maintain their shared reality.

On rereading, the above sounds harsh to me. But when I consider the world as it is, it also sounds true, realistic. Earth can be a very bad place but it can also be very good.

An example of how serious anxiety can be

The following video illustrates how serious anxiety can be, causing more problems than what prompted it.

Fast forward to where the woman gets out of her car.

Due to holding public office, she was forced to apologize. She is also being publicly ridiculed for her anxiety attack which is being interpreted as fake and/or outrageous.

I am reasonably sure the woman, Ulster County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky, is not faking.

If that is so, her behavior illustrates:

  • how serious anxiety can be
  • how little can cause it
  • how easily it can be misinterpreted
  • how it causes more harm than good

Recently, I have been reading about anxiety and narcissism, particularly the significant harm narcissistic parents cause their children.

During her lamentations, Berky claims PTSD, which can result from a childhood spent with narcissistic parents. The other common bad outcomes are depression, anxiety or both together.

If I had not been doing so much thinking about these conditions, I probably would have laughed at Berky and moved on. Instead, I feel sorry for her.

I got my first traffic ticket when I had been an adult for many years. I did not act like Berky, but I did feel upset and thought about the incident for days after. All Berky did was have a more severe version of that same reaction, which most us have experienced at one time or another.

Too often in America we find a bully and then bully them through media. Rather than laugh at Berky, I think we should thank her for providing an excellent example of how serious anxiety can be.

Identity as simplification of sentience

Most identities are fundamentally category headings that simplify and organize consciousness.

In Buddhist terms, identity is empty.

Being empty does not mean identity does not arouse strong instincts.

Strong instincts arising based on identity are the poison fruits of delusion.

In this world where so many strive to have fierce identities, you have to be careful.

Though you do not need an identity yourself, you do have to be mindful of what others may do with their identities.

Identity politics is an inevitable result of many people striving to take on the same identity. Like identity itself, identity politics simplifies consciousness and arouses strong feeling.

Many people who have strong identities—be they individual or group oriented—conceal motives based on their identities, which they may also conceal in whole or in part.

This is the very nature of delusion and a major basis for understanding the First Noble Truth, the truth of suffering.

Why psychometrics and general ideas about personality inhibit psychological optimization

The short answer: psychometrics invariably yield bell curves.

The medium answer: general ideas about personality are derived from psychometrics.

The long answer: probably no one has ever been in the middle of all psychometric bell curves—curves for empathy, perseverance, intelligence, musical talent, athleticism, sexual satisfaction, “extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, or neuroticism.”

If you are on either side of the bell curve for anything that is significant to you, you will be measuring yourself against a standard that is not right for you.

And even if you are in the middle for everything, no one else is.

It’s fine to have a look at what some researchers find on some test, but it would be close-minded, not conscientious. probably neurotic, and highly disagreeable (to you and others) to do more than use those data as a mildly interesting sociological marker that doesn’t tell you all that much.

Without question psychometric data will inhibit your psychological optimization if you take them too seriously.

If you are to the left of any “good” metric, knowing the center of the curve might inspire you to try harder but it might also inspire you to try too hard at something you will never be able to do well. If you are to the right of any “good” metric, the center of the curve may cause you to hold back.

And who gets to say what is a “good” metric? At best some other metric. At worst a soft consensus among experts who have been acculturated into thinking that way.

Psychometrics are helpful for general classifications of individuals who cannot care for themselves or who have no one to turn to or who cannot achieve any happiness on their own.

For individuals who are self-reliant, understanding how your mind actually functions in real-time real-life situations is the only way to optimize your psychology.

Psychology is warped by too much reliance on patterns and types rather than how people actually function

You will never figure yourself out by answering questionnaires or trying to match yourself with a psychological metric or type.

Beyond that, you will absolutely never optimize your psychology and life using those methods.

The right way to grasp and optimize your psychology is to understand how it functions in real-time real-life situations.

To do this you have to take control of your own life and use a technique like FIML that allows you to observe yourself in real-time real-life situations.

I honestly do not think there is any other way.