Monthly Archives: November 2013

Conversation or Propagandist Lecture?

he-who-speaks-loudest-has-the-least-to-say-beth-davies

The following is an excerpt from the book “The Braindead Megaphone”, written by George Saunders (2007).

The book is well worth a read, and then perhaps, some action. I thought of this book in response to other web-content I encountered today. Clearly, if you say something loud enough and often enough, or rather, turning it around and rewording, if I hear something at the exclusion of everything else and if I hear it repeatedly, it starts to pervade me. This applies equally well to internal as well as external dialogue.

In any event, it’s a succinct couple of paragraphs that reminds me to be ever vigilant to where I turn my attention and to remember to listen to myself and others in a curious, interactive way, not because I can’t avoid the input. If the input is too loud or too much, it’s my responsibility to get to a place where I can regain my balance, or simply stop paying attention (if that’s possible).

And George Saunders writes: “Imagine a party. The guests, from all walks of life, are not negligible. They’ve been around: they’ve lived, suffered, own businesses, have real areas of expertise. They’re talking about things that interest them, giving and taking subtle correction. Certain submerged concerns are coming to the surface and – surprise, pleasant surprise – being confirmed and seconded and assuaged by other people who’ve been feeling the same way.

Then a guy walks in with a megaphone. He’s not the smartest person at the party, or the most experienced, or the most articulate.

But he’s got that megaphone.

Say he starts talking about how much he loves early mornings in spring. What happens? Well, people turn to listen. It would be hard not to. It’s only polite. And soon, in their small groups, the guests may find themselves talking about early spring mornings. Or, more correctly, about the validity of Megaphone Guy’s ideas about early spring mornings. Some are agreeing with him, some disagreeing – but because he’s so loud, their conversations will begin to react to what he’s saying. As he changes topics, so do they. If he continually uses the phrase “at the end of the day,” they start using it too. If he weaves into his arguments the assumption that the west side of the room is preferable to the east, a slow westward drift will begin.

These responses are predicated not on his intelligence, his unique experience of the world, his powers of contemplation, or his ability with language, but on the volume and omnipresence of his narrating voice.

His main characteristic is his dominance. He crowds the other voices out. His rhetoric becomes the central rhetoric because of its unavoidability.

In time, Megaphone Guy will the ruin the party. The guests will stop believing in their value as guests, and come to see their main role as reactors-to-the-Guy. They’ll stop doing what guests are supposed to do: keep the conversation going per their own interests and concerns. They’ll become passive, stop believing in the validity of their own impressions. They may not even notice they’ve started speaking in his diction, that their thoughts are being limned by his. What’s important to him will come to seem important to them.”

Image source: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/beth-davies.html

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Filed under Musings, Psychology, Writing

Surfin’ Charybdis (refinement 1)

800px-North_season

Celestial mechanics affects my mood as surely as my genetics, my culture, my diet and my exercise routine. The effects can be subtle or they can kick my ass. Presently, my ass is being gently nudged.

I have a sense that mood shares the properties of light in that it exhibits wave/particle duality. Today, the wave aspect is the focus of my attention.

Emotional waves and waves of visible light superimpose to create a resultant wave that propagates in my neurochemical soup. Why not? This seems a good model for my armchair reflection this morning.

The current tilt of the earth’s axis of rotation (its obliquity), sitting between 23.5 and 23.4 degrees, manifests on the earth as seasons. In the image above, the earth is on its way towards the orientation shown on the far right, with the northern hemisphere tilted away from the sun and therefore spending more time each day in darkness than in light.

This earth/sun orientation affects me. Of course it does. Why wouldn’t it? Why shouldn’t it? It is counter intuitive to expect stasis in this juxtaposition.

The earth responds dramatically to the changes in light, and as a part of the earth, so should I.

It is the nature of this response and my reflections and ruminations on it, as well as my culture’s ideals about mood that are piquing my blogging bone this morning.

Should I take a pill to counter the effects? What am I countering exactly? Should I seek therapy? That would be silly wouldn’t it?

A few thoughts on the matter…

Something big changes in me between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

Well…to be frank…everything changes.

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Filed under Depression, Musings, Nature, Writing

Natural cycles

circleOfTrees

From the book “Ecotherapy, Healing with Nature in Mind”, edited by Linda Buzzell ad Craig Chalquist (2009).

The excerpt below is from a chapter written by John Scull (pp 144-145).

“A second client, Emma, regularly attended the group nature walks. She was brought to me by her daughter, Dorothy. Emma was in her seventies, had been diagnosed with cancer, and was scheduled to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. She was severely depressed and talked about refusing medical treatment. Her daughter was concerned and thought her mother might become suicidal. It soon became apparent that Emma had been suffering from depression even prior to her illness; neglecting her house, family, and social relationships; making disparaging comments about her old age; and expressing feelings of uselessness.

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Filed under Death, Depression, Family and Friends, Musings, Nature