Monday, January 30, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness

     Oh, it feels like it has been quite a time since I last wrote. I'm not totally sure what subjects I'll venture into, but I feel confident that I can at least manage navigating my towards, what I will feel is a sufficient blog to publish. I think at the very least I should begin with noteworthy bits from the week, and then see what we get into.

     On Mondays, I usually wake up at around 8 or 9, and then wait until 2PM to go to my Math 113 class where I draw dragons instead of notes and focus on the gas station girl, hoping to catch her eye or something... I don't know. I'm working on that front. I'm trying to get into a situation to meet her. It's going okay, I suppose. We'll see tomorrow. Part of my worries is that the guy who she's friends with in the class may be her boyfriend. They seem to be relatively close to one another. Only time will tell, followed shortly by me telling on my blog. In the meantime, enjoy my cool picture of a Skyrim Dragon.

     Speaking of Skyrim, I came up with a new way to play Skyrim in different ways and keep it interesting. From now on, I will be creating many characters with small storylines, aside from the main one. Think of it this way, When you play the game, you're usually all over the place, doing everything possible in the game to do. All with just ONE guy. One guy can't save the world from destruction, stop a civil war, ride dragons, go to heaven and come back, time travel, be a master swordsman, super-strong wizard, and a ninja thief, and do this, that, and the other thing, and also one time he saved your cat in a tree. One guy can't do all that. So now I have a small stable of characters that only focus on certain quests and questlines. For example, the character that saves the world from Alduin, then the character that reunifies the country locked in civil war, the wizard on a quest to become the wisest and most powerful, the character who quests for the dragon priest masks. I think of them all being separate but in the same world, each doing something specific. They all act in the same skyrim but never meet one another other than their origin, as prisoners about to be executed, when Alduin suddenly attacks. All get out in their own respective ways, although when I actually play through them, they all happen to be the same way because it's a dictated path. My newest character that I'm just about finished with is a character very akin to Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. Volknir is an Imperial warrior (who I decided was secretly rogue royalty) that uses a 2-handed sword, and light, and then eventually heavy armor, the wolf armor from the Companions, and an Elven blade, and his story line is that he is the one that reunifies Skyrim in the civil war. He fought for the Empire, because the Stormcloaks are all super racist and that's not progressive, I have a feeling there may be more for this character when the first DLC comes out.

     So now I'm looking for a new character to build and which storyline they'll follow. Perhaps the Dark Brotherhood, because I have yet to even touch their storyline in any playthrough. Faeroon, the Dark Elf. Yep, that sounds good. But, until I get to that point, I feel it's more pertinent to talk about other things.

     I really wanted to write this blog on thursday when my mind was racing. It's the day that I have all four of my classes so there was a lot of brain stimulation. It was a good day for connecting stuff from my classes together, primarily between my ethics, modern philosophy, and positive psychology classes. In Ethics, we've been dealing with the Harm principle and creating a system of laws that follow this principle. For a brief moment in that class, I saw myself becoming a lawyer, and then I shook that thought from my head. Then, while in Modern Philosophy, we continued our coverage of Hobbes' "Leviathan." During the lecture we discussed our senses, which I am very interested in already. I thought about about, if we can "recreate" images in our minds and "hear" in our minds using our memory/imagination, is it possible to recreate tastes, smells, and possibly touches that could re-stimulate us? Imagine just creating the taste of ... well whatever you find appealing (in my case: cotton candy), all the time? But this also deals with the branch of Philosophy called Epistemology, which asks, "What can I know?" There are two main ways of thinking about how ideas are formed. There is the side of Rationalism, which thinks that there is some knowledge that is completely original from our minds, without any provocation. Data in our DNA that is just part of us, the main example supporting this being mathematics, primarily geometry and how shapes can only be thought of as they are and in no other way(e.g. it's impossible to think of a square triangle). The other side, which I agree with, is called Empiricism, which states that any and all knowledge, any idea that we form, is based off of mixing and matching things in our memories into new ideas. They're formed from analyzing the impressions left on us via our senses. My personal thought on the Math thing is that Math was learned the same way anything else is, from reanalyzing impressions. They ask why we think of idea of the perfect sphere, but it doesn't actually exist in nature, so why have we thought of this? Because it's a stepping stone to understanding how nature works. We call it a perfect shape, but what we should really be calling it is basic. The more perfect and unnatural it gets, the more basic the idea is, the further from understanding nature we are. We got the idea from seeing things that were circular in nature and we put it together, just like everything else humans have done and learned throughout their entire existence. But I digress on that subject, let's move on.

     We also stopped on how dreams are formed and we didn't really dive into it, but I did put together a couple things from this and my knowledge on how the mind works in conjunction with its senses. I've talked briefly in the past about my interest in sensory-deprivation tanks, where people lose all of their senses and begin to hallucinate and do what I've been referring to as 'free thinking' - meditating. What's actually causing it is that, when you lose your senses, your mind has nothing tethering it to the real world, no sense distracting it and keeping it busy. So to compensate, and try to bring some semblance of reality back, it begins to make you hallucinate things. When I was researching this, I also figured out that that's also what happens when you go to sleep, when you close your eyes, your sight receptors turn off and it's effectively the same principle as the sense-deprivation tank. So, that idea, coupled with the chemical DMT, which a gland in your brain secretes when your asleep, causes dreams. Dreams are entirely based on things in your memory mixing and matching in your brain and creating new things. Your own world purely by your design, whether you realize it or not. Anyway, we then went on to the difference between knowing and believing. What it comes down to is not basing something you learn on faith, from someone else's mouth. If you don't learn it for yourself and re-experiment an idea for yourself, how can you truly know? Reasoning and experiencing for yourself, and reliable pattern recognition to help predict the future, but even knowing what we know, we have to maintain a constant observation on everything, because something may end up differently.

     In Positive Psychology, we're still on the ever-going subject of what makes us happy and how the good life is different from pleasure because pleasure is very temporary, while the good life is being immersed in everything. In one of the slides, there was a quote from Aristotle that said, "Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of Human existence." I disagree. Life for humans, maybe, but not all life, the aim of life is to survive. The aim of happiness is society. Society is the embodiment to Humanity's unhappiness. Humans are forever unhappy, otherwise we wouldn't be constantly upgrading everything. If we were happy, why would we change anything? If we are unhappy with something, we change it so that we can be happier. This has led us to the creation of cities and society as we know it today and will know of it for a long time to come. I guess, more than anything, I know I'm happy just from that. I don't generally feel as though I need a change in how things are. I'm happy, in an unhappy society. As my Ethics TA reasoned out, from the moment we are born, we are already wanting our most primal want: To be infinitely powerful, forever. Our most primal want is wanting to be that which most consider as, "God." I'd agree, but my next question is whether or not we are capable of letting go of that and becoming truly altruistic and creating a new way of life. We also watched a video on the country of Bhutan who has a Gross National Happiness measurement. In the video they talk about how Bhutan has banned stuff like cigaretts and plastic bags to quell consumerism and keep things happy, because they feel that with consumerism, comes unhappiness. What I eventually saw, which never came up in the post-discussion (so I wonder if no one else noticed it), was that the citizens of Bhutan were not practicing what they preach. Eventually, they talk about how television was quite new to the country and it was creating unhappiness and people being addicted to TV. Ah, but I saw the real problem. Bhutan is tricking itself into being happy. They are trying to quell unhappiness, and yet, the Bhutan monarchy eventually allowed television in. That right there is the true unhappiness. The government and the citizens who bought all those TVs felt some unhappiness, some void that only the TV could fill. So don't kid yourself Bhutan. I did think that perhaps simply implementing a change can create unhappiness because it's exposing it to the public. The public who does not understand is the happier one. For example, if the citizens hadn't been exposed to the idea of television, they wouldn't have realized the lack of it.

     I have been seeing a lot of people on my twitter feed and just in general being unhappy, even myself. I wasn't sure what to do with my time on Mondays and Wednesdays because they're so open. I was bored and unhappy too, but the key to getting rid of it all, is just letting go of it. The Other can't beat you if you don't play the game. Stop hearing 'No' and learn everything for yourself, so that you know, instead of just believing what they tell you. Be the best you, that you can be. Let go of what's right or what's wrong, good or bad, and just see things as happening. Embrace logic and explore the universe the way you want to. Let it all happen as it will, and it will. And if it doesn't? Well then who cares? Let it go and work towards the future instead of the past. With that, I leave you with the sounds of Steve Aoki's remix of "Pursuit of Happiness" (Not exactly my first pick, but it did the best job relating to the material), as well as a bonus video that I thought was awesome. It's a live version of Madeon's song, "Pop Culture." Enjoy!


     For those of you who really feel like you're looking for some direction and happiness in your life, might I recommend for you an audiobook called "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao," by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I feel that's a good source of learning mindfulness and meditation.

Until next time...

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