Posts Tagged ‘cynicism’

Instructions for how to be a better perfectionist

July 10, 2013

Instructions for how to be a better perfectionist:

1. Identify which ideals are the very best.

2. Pretend that your life does not fit those ideals, but really should.

3. Be totally miserable and pretend that how you got to be so miserable is a complete mystery to you.

Symbol for the Enneagramic type " Perfect...

Symbol for the Enneagramic type ” Perfectionist” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s it. If you really understand those three points fully, you will become the ideal perfectionist. Well, actually if you really understand those three points fully, then you really should become the ideal perfectionist, but of course you actually won’t (…knowing you).
I should warn you that I might be joking. In fact, I should have warned you before I started that I would probably be joking eventually.

I’m really sorry. I take back that I did not warn you before I started. Please allow me to start over now.

My Life, by Bill Clinton

My Life, by Bill Clinton (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Ok, so what you need to know about me first is that my past is not how it should have been. How I know that is because I have identified precisely how my past should have been (which I occasionally revise) and then I compared my past with my latest ideals of how my life should have been so far and… well, there is some good news and some bad news. So, which do you want first?

The bad news is that no matter what ideals I identify (arbitrarily) as the very best ideals, none of them perfectly match my life. My life simply has way too much variation for certain ideals (and not enough variation for others).

The good news is that it is optional for me to value a certain specific set of ideals over the totality of my life. Yes, I can be an idealist, a perfectionist, a miserable worshiper of arbitrary ideals. It is one possibility.

In fact, being an agonizing idealist is probably what I should have done (given that I have actually done that). However, I could stop.

Agonizing is a behavior, a pattern of activity. It takes time, right? It takes energy, right? It takes practice to develop it in to a habit (or even an identity)- a lot of practice!

Great! So, now I have told you the good news and the bad news. That only leaves the old news.

The old news is that I used to argue with people about which ideals are the very best. I used to be very sincere. I would even prove to you that I was more sincere than you. Sincerity was probably the very best of all possible ideals, right?

By the way, you may notice that everyone who is miserably cynical is also very sincere. In fact, a leading expert in the field of making things up has claimed that the most extreme form of naïve sincerity is cynical misery, which is also known as perfectionist agonizing.

Cynical (song)

Cynical (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obviously, that assertion is quite preposterous. Everyone knows that cynical misery is a very serious condition which can only be treated with a brain transplant.

Unfortunately for… everyone… there are no available brains for transplanting and there are no available surgeons and it is not covered by any insurance plan anyway and obviously never will be (because you know how the insurance companies are…). Anyway, I really could not afford it even if it was free because… because… my busy schedule simply does not have time for taking any time off from identifying the very best ideals, then obsessively comparing my life to those ideals, then complaining that my life does not fit those ideals and blaming some politician for that (obviously), and then frequently promising to stop whining. Also, just as a reminder to you, I am still keeping my promise to stop procrastinating right after I finish waiting for the right circumstances to show up magically.

(“No, not those ideal circumstances… the other perfect circumstances. Don’t you realize that what I said last week about the right circumstances was back when I was very naïve and sincere and idealistic! I’m not LIKE that anymore. I’ve CHANGED… can’t you tell? What kind of a friend are you anyway?”)

Yeah, but… have you apologized lately for saying that you are sorry way too often? Have you promised to stop making promises that you have no intention of actually keeping? Have you called yet to explain why you do not want to talk to me? (Note that I only ask because I see that I have 14 missed calls from your number in the last 2 hours.)

In conclusion, you really need to be a better perfectionist. Because you clearly are not sincere enough about your commitment to being a miserable, agonizing, idealistic cynic, you may have a serious case of sincerity (which is often complicated by a sincere case of seriousness). That’s why you should ask your doctor today about whether Ofukitol is right for you.

By the way, this offer is not valid if you are a procrastinator. In that case, please don’t even bother.

No, listen, just forget it, okay? You always act like this. It’s so annoying!

This is why you are never going to have any friends. You are always so negative. I hate negative people like you.

Sincerity Is an Easy Disguise in This Business

Sincerity Is an Easy Disguise in This Business (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ironic? What is ironic about any of this? You really don’t even take me seriously, do you? You don’t understand me and you never will!

You don’t even KNOW me. If I was not a very polite person, I would TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and then calm down momentarily and extend my middle finger at you in a gesture of sexual frustration– but your sexual frustration, not mine.

I’m not frustrated. I’m not angry. I’m not contemptuous and I am DEFINITELY not resentful… you stupid idiot!

But the only reason that I am not resentful is because I am such a perfect idealist. I do have every reason to be resentful, of course, but I am so forgiving because that is how I should be. Anyway, how many flipping times do I have to tell you that I have already forgiven you for how you are always so negative (and passive aggressive… and critical… and a naïve hypocrite)?

Anyway, that is why I do not want to talk to you either. Yes, I called you back to just tell you that.

Hello? Are you there? Did you just hang up on me? You can’t do that!

Oh, hi… yeah I think I accidentally put you on hold for a second. Sorry about that. What were we talking about again?

Right, we were talking how I can’t just stop agonizing any time I want, you know, because of my schedule which is too busy…. exactly! Hey, do you still want to sign up for that course eventually on how to stop procrastinating about agonizing about the best way to be a perfectionist..? Okay, right, once you have better circumstances in your life, of course, yes, I agree completely. There is no need to rush in to it, grandpa.

clarifying confusion (language, economics, whorf, propaganda)

March 1, 2012
Image via Wikipedia

Confusion: what is it? Let’s be very clear about what confusion is. Then, we can explore one particular common form of confusion: going from confusion about that subject to clarity about it. About what? It is something that can be really obvious to anyone, as well as very relevant personally to someone in particular: economic change.

So, confusion is not just a lack of clarity. A lack of clarity is ignorance as in an awareness of awareness. There is recognized ignorance Ii know that I do not know about “that”) and there is of course unrecognized ignorance… which brings us to the subject of confusion.

Confusion is when one actually thinks something to be true which is not, or, in practical terms, confusion is when one considers a particular model or principle to be relevant when it is in fact inapplicable to a given case. The irrelevance in a particular case does not automatically mean that some model or paradigm is absolutely false or totally invalid in general, though that may also be true.

Of course, there are a few variations of confusion, like ways of relating to it in a particular case. First, there is being clear about what confusion is and then clear when it is present (“Ah, the model I have been operating with does not fit for this case! Isn’t that interesting?) Confusion can thus lead to curiosity or simply to dismissal, like this: “Ah, I believed that this new intervention would work, but now I see that in fact it is not working, and I do not have enough interest in this particular possibility to continue researching/experimenting/trouble-shooting, at least not for now. I’m done here!” (That is simply going from unrecognized ignorance to recognized ignorance, and then choosing to remain ignorant of some particular detail, or… perhaps even recognizing “Ah, now I know generally what would be involved in this project and, nearly clear about that, I decline to proceed with investing the relevant resources/time/attention.”)

Conflicts & Confusion
Image via Wikipedia

In other words, recognizing confusion is itself a shift into clarity. “I admit that I do not know how to do _____.” That moves something from confusion to mere ignorance- even if the only new clarity is in saying “I am clear only now that my perception of what could/would be required for fulfilling this possibility is in excess of my actual interest and/or ability.”

Of course, sometimes when we are confused about how to fulfill a certain clear value of ours, and we do know that we greatly value some possibility, then we might think of someone that we believe might be ale to help us, then approach them for help: like an expert at automobile mechanics or computer repair. Other times, we may be confused and unmotivated to explore something (because of an ignorance of how much we could later value that something), and yet open to leadership form others. So, a particular withdrawal from a project is not always a rejection of the possibility of later involvement. Rejecting some possibility can only happen in the present moment. Even things that we may say that we would never do- or never do again- may be things that we later do.

Further, we could even be confused, but resigned or cynical about that confusion- like “this is not working and I am going to pretend that I do not care, perhaps even convincing myself, all while I will go around and repeatedly criticize other people in regard to this same type of thing- that is, I may believe and sincerely say that I do not care about it but then focus huge amounts of attention on finding people who will validate my pronouncement that I do not care about it, then find more people to attack for caring about it when obviously no one should, etc etc etc…..”

So, I just mentioned rejection and then resignation and cynicism, which are also forms of rejection. When we reject the possibility of exploring something now, that is rejecting it. When we reject the possibility of something EVER happening, that is the realm of resignation and cynicism.

Resignation is the idea that some particular method of obtaining an outcome that we may admit to valuing… simply is not worth

Resignationexploring. With evidence to the contrary, resignation can suddenly disappear. Further, there may be a general openness ot other methods. Resignation is specific to all methods considered relevant. It is not an absolute dismissal of the possibility that there could already be or soon be a method available for fulfilling some valued propsect.

Cynicuism tends to involve pretendintg that we do not value something which we do value. In order to cover our cynicism, we do something quite distinct from resignation about methods; we may reject the possibility that some particular value of ours could ever be fulfilled by any method. Then, we may even move into the realm of denial.

Denying a possibility is when we believe that it could not be. Cynicism may be better defined as when we pronounce that something should not be- but not an outright denial of the possibility; there is still a faint glimmer of openness.

So, if we believe that something should not be (or could not be)- not just ignorant of it, but rejecting the possibility of it, then something very interesting is possible. When can be faced with considerable evidence that something is actual present already, and yet neglect to recognize it.

If we are merely resigned, we would instantly recognize evidence contrary to our prior dismissal of a particular method. “Hey- I am instantly clear that the thing I value is being fulfilled.. somehow!” There may be some skepticism about what method was involved , but skepticism is quite distinct from cynicism. A few examples demonstratng a particular principle, and skepticism can vanish.

However, a few examples in the face of cynicism or denial, and no notice of those thngs is likely. It should not be! It could not be! People may even resist evidence demonstrating a particular possibility, even attacking the demonstrators of that evidence, even interrupting a demonstration. That, clearly is not merely a curious confusion or a less curious resignation; that is active resistance, even violent opposition.

So, if we believe that something should not be, we can ignore lots of evidence- and even attack perceived threats to our intense rejection of a possibility. Of course, this is also quite natural. If we value some other possibility, then resisting a contrary possibility is natural. However, when our model is inapplicable to a partiocular situation, the fact htat we may wish it were applicable may be… functionally irrelevant.

Cynicism is just unpleasant truth.
Cynicism is just unpleasant truth. (Photo credit: KAZVorpal)

So, I recent wrote to someone this: “If you want to hide something right in front of the mainstream, tell them that it should not be. Once they believe that something should not be, thier denial will cause them to hide it from themselves, so it can be hidden in plain sight.”

So, confusion is the result of a relation between an observer’s model of how life should be and life itself. Confusion requires words- that is- a conceptual (verbal) model of how life should be. Newborns may be ignorant, but they are not actually confused per se. They are not resigned, nor cynical. Those require language!

So, life is never inherently confusing. When we believe in certain words rather than life itself, that is… inherently confusing (that is inherently confusion). No set of words will always provide us a fitting model to every single possible situation. Many people may be critical of that proposal, perhaps worshiping a particualr model of how life should be, however, a curious thing about such people is that while many of them may have learned the same odel of how life should be, there may be multiple models of how life should be throughout human cultures at a particular time, and if there is only one model that is actually exactly how everything should always be, then how come there are more than one of those models?

Absolutism is always vanity. It is always a reaction against the world, agasint life, and in favor of some verbal model, worshiped as the only verbal model that could ever be right. And, there are a bunch of different variations of such models, each of which various people may worship- or even the same person in sequence. “I used to think that this model was the only valid one, but I was wrong. Now, I know the only valid model. Oopos, no- here is a new one and it is the only one that could be valid- no other model could be valid, especially not the ones that I used to believe were the only ones that could ever be valid. I think I may just ferociously attack those in particular! (Yes, the ones I used to defend will violent opposition to all else.)”

All those are models of violent opposition. All those are models of denial. I could call that insanity, but I do not mean to imply that there is anything worng with it. Denial simply does not work in all cases. Obviously, if someone is worshiping a certian model as the only one that could possibly be valid, thaen there must be some value for them in that, or else they would not be worshiping a particualr model as the only one that could ever possibly be valid.

So, be wary of believing words. Use them, sure. Words are simple tools like a hammer or a calculator. Do not worship a hammer or a calculator. Use them- of course only when it fits a particular situation to do so!

We do not need to complain that calculators are useless as hammers or vice versa. Several verbal models may be functional in anmy particular circumstance. If you experience confusion and yet still value some possibility, find another model- even if you create it or ask for help fomr someone else.

So, words are tools for influencing human attention and behavior. They can be very effective. For instance, they can be used to hide what is obvious, clear, and… very very simple. We can use words to teach others what should not be, and thus hide those things from them, yes, perhaps even in plain sight.

So, now on to some particualr applications of clarifying confusion as it relates to economics. First, consider that an understanding of economics is one of the most valuable and useful things that one could possibly understand. Thus, maintaining a relative monopoly on an understanding of how economics works- and how economic change happens- is one of the most developed investments of the use of language. Confusing people about ecnomoics is extremely valuable to maintaining a concentration of economic power. Coinfusing other people about politics or health or relationships are all minor in practical vlaue compared to confusing people about economics. Of course, confusing people about any of those other things might be branches of a larger pattern of confusing them about all economic activity. Consider that politics are all about econmics, so is health, and so are relationships.

Let’s define economics really fast; ecnomics is knowing that one values a particular possibility and then taking action in accord with fulfilling that possibility. That’s it. If you want clean teeth and nice-smelling breath, but do not have that- or are not sure- and then you get a toothbrush and nice-smelling toothpaste and you brush your teeth, that is an economic choice. Economics is all about intentionally producing tangible results that are clearly valued. That’s it. Economics is not about anything else, just the process of intentionally producing any valued tangible result.

But there is a big variation between between tangible economics and accounting (quantified economics). We can easily count volumes of inventory- food, livestock, square foot of a building, etc…. However, the principle issue of economics is “what is the priority?”

In practical terms, the study of economics is all about priorities. Which valued possible result is the priority? In particular, which valued tangible result is the top priority… relative to all methods perceived to be avaialble?

English: The spotlight model of attention.

Image via Wikipedia

That is a question which can involve some accounting. We can list the sequence of few perceived possible tangible results, then prioritize them from most valued to least, and we might even sort them in terms of “this one is twice as valuable as that one, and three times as valuable as the rest.” However, the simplest form of economic choice is ultimately binary; “this or that, which one NOW?”

We sort for the single most valued tangible result, and then, at least according to the principles of economics, we consider methods for promoting the production of that result. The first question regarding which value to pursue is fundamentally an intuitive question. Different people can and do answer differently, and even at different times. Once someone has a refrigerator full of fresh food, then much more fresh may be undesirable- perhaps unless an extra refrigerator is avaialble. Or maybe, cleaning some older things out of the full refrigerator is suddenly more valuable than getting more food.

Now, all of those are question os which valued result is the priority. That is a question acknowledged by ecnomics, but econoics is not interested in answering that question. Economics may record how various people are answering that question, but economics is not a system for telling us what we should value as a priority. Economics may numerically predict fluctuating values, but economics is not a system for influencing intuition- or not inherently. (Influencing what people value is what things like advertising are for- as well as lanugage in general. Governing, by the way, is purely influencing.)

So, the primary focus of economics is not what should be valued, but what method should be used tfor promoting the production of what is valued as THe priority. That is where econoics can begin to get a bit complex.

How much time is estimated for a particular method? What resources are required and how available are they?

From Confusion Hill
Image via Wikipedia

These are the fundamental practical questions of economics. Evaluating (valuing) various methods is what economics is for.

In service of that value, economics involves financial accounting. Financial accounting just means accounting using a consistent standard of value relative to some set of alternatives. This standard could be a pound of silver or a gallon of water or a curency contract issued by a bank or government (as in a dollar or a British pound sterling, named after a pound of sterling silver).

The value of the unit of measurement is relative to a particular momentary assesment of various methods of promoting some valuaed tangible result. Again, a gallon of water may be considered very valuable when one has only one, relative to when one has dozens easily available.

Currency is actually not magical, or not in its simplest utility. Currency is created by governments for their own purposes. Those operating governments use curencies to evaluate methods of producing a tangible result they value. If a certain hammer is worth $800 or $8 to those people, so be it. That is what it is worth to them- or at least that is what they may publicize as a diversion to distract people who may be rather naive… from the simplest realities of their operating of the business of governing, that is, influencing the behavior of other people.

Government is influence. Government is not charity. That is another subject, but the idea that government is not influence, but chairty, is actually rather odd. (In fact, charity may also be influence. What isn’t?)

Now, clear on the basic function of currency- to objectively evaluate various methods for producing a particular tangible result that is subjectively declared to be a priority, let’s go back to a recent email of mine. (Only now do I start referring to actual current events in economics.)

“So, if folks do not understand what currency is- and how it is back by the organized violence of courts and armies- then all the technical analysis of the statisticians may be irrelevant. Again, some people miss the simplest things and get caught up in complexity, then say it is all confusing. Deflation is extremely simple.

Deflation is when the difference is suddenly clear between cash and a debt contract payable in cash (an “account receivable”). The debts (A/R) are severely discounted in terms of purchasing power and the cash, which has been severely discounted, is recognized as being worth way more than previously accounted. It’s all in the accounting.

People may not get the simplicity of the legal system- which is the core of currency. They may not get the simplicity of accounting, in which there is cash accounting of actual items in stock as well as accrual accounting of expected or promised or projected future circumstances- like a mortgage holder expecting to be paid on time simply because there is a contract in which another party has agreed to do that. The agreement that some future possibility is legally enforceable is… just an agreement made of words (the kind with no inherent meaning, no inherent substance).

Then, understanding the sheer simplicity of all, there is the statistics or “technical analysis” of trends and waveforms and sentiment

sodalite (cross polarised)
sodalite (cross polarised) (Photo credit: Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel)

extremes and so on. (“Sentiment extremes,” here, refers to the principle that when the vast majority of people value something already, there is little room for a huge surge of people to increase their valuation of that thing- while when the huge majority of people discount a certain thing, there is a lot of room for people to increase their valuation of that thing.)

So, the economic principle of sentiment extremes is very simple- and each distinction by itseld is very simple. However, skipping from 3rd grade math to 8th grade math just may not work well. People may say that the 8th grade math is confusing. For them it is confusing, especially if they were told that math for grades 4 through 7 not only does not exist, but should not.

Economics is simple. Most people, however, are proud, by which I mean idiotically in denial of the shame of admitting that they do not know something, thus doing anythig except asking for help. It can happen to any of us.

I’m going to conclude here. Note that in various other places, I detail the relevance of what deflation is and why prices of real estate, stocks, and commodities have moved at unprecedented rates in recent years, and what is coming next. Note that I forecast all of the major moves in all of the major markets, and I ma not alone. Again, economics is quite simple- even if many people violently oppose that possibility. Of course, using a model that does not fit current circumstances… can be rather confusing. 😉

published on Nov, 28, 2009

Related articles

stages of adaptive appreciation

October 14, 2011

The above audio contains a lot more clarification and information than the text below.

First, people begin innocent. Then, they are trained in how things should be and so become naively presumptive, though that is adaptive relative to the first stage.

Then, if the presumptive way does not work very well, some slight revisions are made in regard to the updated idealism of how things really should be, and now the reformed and refined presumptiveness becomes arrogance (as in self-righteousness). Again, that may be adaptive relative to the prior stage- using a more adapted model of presumptiveness.
Next, after perhaps a few distinct idealisms have been tried and have all failed to correspond to reality, a cynical perfectionism may develop. This is a reaction against all forms of presumptiveness, all models. This is a criticism against all forms of what allegedly should be. This can be called hypocrisy, for it is presuming that presumptiveness about how things should be is what should not be, which implicitly presumes that an innocent naivete is all that should ever be. Again, that may still be more adaptive than prior stages.
However, once that does not work well either, then humility and grace may eventually develop. Then there is an appreciation possible for every stage: naive innocence, naive presumptiveness, arrogant presumptiveness, arrogant cynicism, and humility.
These stages of adaption can be regrouped in to three distinctions: innocence, perfectionism, and humility. Perfectionism includes naive presumptiveness, arrogant presumptiveness, and arrogant cynicism.
We can even look at these as stages of appreciation. Initially, everything is equal. Then, various priorities and values are identified, learned and refined. Then, there is an appreciation for all models and all values and all priorities- just one at a time.
In other words, all of the models and presumptions are recognized as similar in that they are just models and presumptions. In any particular case, one or more models may be most relevant or useful. There can be an appreciation for each model as unique and for all models as only being models. There can be an appreciation for the creation of new models and discarding of old ones and naively or arrogantly clinging to certain ones or rejecting certain others.
Humility and appreciation may be two words for a single adaption. We might even call it “maturity.”

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