Monday, 28 January 2008

Rules of Engagement, part 1

As if anybody but me cares, I have a few quirks of grammar, syntax, spelling, and so on, that I use, and that I would like to share, just in case you see something out of the ordinary and feel like bringing it up.

So, in no special order:

1. I always use the serial comma.
2. I almost always say "towards", and I most often say "besides".
3. I use logical punctuation with quotation marks. That is, I position periods and commas either within or without the quotation marks depending on their relation to the quote itself.
4. I use the pedantic formation "et c." because "et" and "cetera" are two separate words. You may also see me use "&c." as a short form.

If you feel that I've made an error, please let me know. If you are right, I will certainly apologize. Read on..!

Friday, 25 January 2008


Right now
Never Read on..!

What Do I Know about Power? Part 1: Individuals

Lying awake in bed late Sunday night after Ken Reaume's CD release concert at Sneaky Dee's (which was awesome, by the way) when I should have been sleeping, I thought of Power and how it affects peoples' daily lives. I've thought about it for a few days now, and here is part of the result:

Obviously power always acts in our lives. Some say that all of our relationships are based on power, and I am inclined to agree. So why do we only talk about power at the fringes of daily life: in government, law, war, et c., and even then only offhandedly, as though it doesn't affect us? I think I say "we" fairly because I never have conversations about power with any of my friends or acquaintances, and I never see discussions about power on common internet forums. This may be because I don't initiate such talk, or perhaps there is a conspiracy afoot and all of my friends talk about power only when I'm out of the room. But I don't think so. I think that among the general populace, few talk about power except in the senses that I mentioned. That is, few seem interested in individual or even communal power. In fact, I think we actively avoid thoughts of power in our daily lives because they make us feel weak, insignificant, and unhappy (did you think that was just how it's supposed to be?).

Let me put it this way: as humans, we often feel that we have little to no control over the events in our lives. This seems natural to me, since there are countless things that happen to us daily for which it would be difficult for any person to assume full responsibility; e.g., slipping on an icy sidewalk and injuring oneself, winning the lottery, a family member or pet dying. These are events that we usually attribute to luck or chance and remove from the realm of choice. There are other things though, which are well within our power, that we also attribute to luck: certain sicknesses, the quality of our relationships, whether or not we get that promotion, et c. When we treat this latter type of occurrence as lucky, we detach ourselves from our own actions, we become passive, rather puppets being controlled by an unseen puppet master than actors giving life to our roles.

This has many negative effects. For example, feeling that I lack control in my life--that I do not have the power to make things go my way--makes me passive. As a result, I repress my desires since I feel like it is beyond my power to achieve them, and this makes me feel weak and sad. I look around and feel that everybody else has more power than me, and even the slightest sign of success in others decreases my confidence. So I look elsewhere to feel good about myself. I try to find other areas where I can exert control and feel powerful. This might be in the family through verbal or physical violence; it might be in the workplace through corruption or sexual harassment; it might be in the community through vandalism or theft. These are all recognizable areas where individuals step over the line, and for which they might be prosecuted. But there are more insidious avenues where I might more easily look to use my reduced power.

Rather than externalize my repression, I can internalize it and remove my attention from the outside world to the inside world. I can focus on pleasing myself rather than trying (inevitably unsuccessfully) to offer pleasure to the community.
This, I believe, is the more common reaction; not surprisingly, because it is where power intersects and conflicts with identity--how we see ourselves and how we relate to others. I can shop (and I am assuming this to be the most popular sublimation, especially as it facilitates the others); I can watch TV; I can drink alcohol and take drugs; I can eat; I can have sex with a stranger or masturbate to pornography; I can play video games, which is increasingly commonly among both sexes and all ages; I can consume celebrity gossip; I can go online and build up my virtual persona or take part in a virtual community; I can gamble; and so on, and so on. These are all more or less socially acceptable activities, and (in my opinion) there's nothing wrong with them in and of themselves. They allow us to control our own immediate pleasure and take our minds off of our frightening feelings of insignificance. They allow us to feel alive and in control, if only for a while. However, they are also anti-social, by which I mean they focus on the individual and diminish community. They take our minds off of our real needs and desires--our creative and passionate impulses--and our responsibilities: to ourselves (mind, body, and soul), our families, our communities, our countries, and the world.

Increasingly, individuals are defined by the things they buy, the shows and movies they watch, the games they play, their appearance, their partners, et c., rather than by the things they do and believe; in turn, this determines how we interact with others, defining our relationships. Obviously, this factor plays a very important when it comes to society. And eventually, I'll get to that.

I'm speaking very generally still here, and I hope to go into much greater detail about interpersonal power dynamics at another time. Maybe after another pre-sleep inspiration. Also, I'm sure most or all of this is recorded in various philosophers' and psychologists' work; if anybody has any references, let me know and I'll try to incorporate them.
Read on..!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

At the risk of sounding pretentious

Wouldn't it be great to be the first to do something, anything?

I'm not the first online opinionist certainly, and I won't be the last.__I'm not even sure that I approve of all the blogging going on.__But that uncertainty actually plays into my intentions with this online journal - call it a magazine of the personal, if you will.__I would like to use this opportunity to discuss the internet itself: its several parts and their effects on culture and society.__A particularly pressing question in my mind is: what are the results of millions of people expressing their unadulterated opinions to the world at large without perhaps a second thought to the consequences?__I am greatly interested in the psychology of anonymity, and I wonder what kind of world we are collectively creating by individually posting our immediate thoughts for all to see, whether it's through a blog, a web forum, or something like Digg.

So, I am going to edit myself to the best of my ability.__I am going to avoid judging as best I can, and when I do judge, I will try to make it very clear.__In short, I hope to "reveal art and conceal the artist" (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray).

In no way will this journal be limited to this topic though, as my interests wander far beyond the borders of the internet (thank goodness), most recently to thoughts of Power, Resistance, Freedom, God, Et c.__Please feel free to look around and contribute if you please; the internet is a lonely place, and it's nice to see a friendly face.__Indeed, I am only here because, like everybody else, I want attention, too.__I want people to notice me and tell me that I've got something to say, anything; and this seems to be the way to do it at the moment.

In fact, we are each of us the first to do everything and the first to do anything.__Each time we do anything, it is the first time.__Every day is new, and every moment is ripe with life.__Maybe I can convince you, my non-existent audience.
Read on..!
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The New Dilettantes by Adam Gorley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.