Musings on a Muse

I think I’ve clicked with an ancient practice. Or the modern european bastardization of a cultural practice. It’s hard to separate the traditional views we have from what we now know as factual history. Like having Vikings with horns or dinosaurs without feathers. It’s become part of the art. There’s nothing wrong with depicting things more realistically, but the converse is also true. It’s not out of the question to freely admit you’re ignoring facts because you’re making art. Fiction is fiction. So when I say I understand the idea of a Muse, I’m not claiming it’s what the ancient greeks believed. It’s what our modern interpretation of a Muse is. And that I think I have a grasp of.

Art comes from our brains. Magic isn’t real. The gods don’t exist. Yada yada yada.

There hasn’t been a point in time where someone actually saw a half-deity warrior or a dragon. Stories got told, miscommunication happened and myths were born. The storytellers magnified the fantastical elements to make better stories. The muses themselves are creation of the artist, yet the artist calls out to them for inspiration. It seems unlikely that every artist who invoked them genuinely believed in them. They knew it wasn’t some attractive mate who’d come to their bedchambers because… well because that never happened. To any of them. Not a once. So of course it was metaphoric; metaphors are what the artist knows best. They call out to this inner force welling up inside of them. Swirls of brain chemistry exciting random parts of the brain.
Emotions.

They’ve always been the key. You must feel strongly, passionately, intensely, to make art. Take what I said in High’s and Lows, and combine it with Love is the Answer to Consciousness. The artist needs those highs and lows. Love is by far the best avenue to experience an unrivaled emotional trip. The artist is fueled by those low points because they’re striving for that high plateau. Knowing it’s merely a short term destination is something that must be accepted. Without the drop back down, the art won’t come back.

So I get Muses. It’s the artist feeding off of someone’s energy. Not in a bad way mind you, in that magnifying way people can spiral high on. Of course they tend to have a sexual overtone but it’s not necessary; sex is intimately linked with love, for most of us. If the person isn’t in that “most of us” and not driven by sex, it will be something else equivalent (like religious fervor). The Muse will take the form of whatever the artist is most attracted to. It can be a force of nature or a similar concept but it is more likely to be physically manifest in a person. We’re wired to love other humans so it’s the easiest thing to fall in love with. The fact that the muse is a person can be a problem though. Their relationship to the artist can’t be an ideal relationship. The artist needs that low point. The Muse is most effective when near but simultaneously far. They pull the artist to greater heights, pushing them to hone their craft. Accelerating their mind far beyond what they would ever be capable of.

Er something like that. I guess. I dunno, I’m just rambling.

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Tough Love

chuck-rock

I’ve never liked that term, tough love. It’s like when someone says they’re honest when they really mean they’re a dick. It’s a high minded excuse to put their negativity out in the world. That being said, there is something to the concept of tough love.

The hamfisted way to illustrate this is with an extreme example. When someone is suffering from a damaging addiction their loved ones need to step in. Enabling their behaviour will only prolong their suffering and could lead to their death. Tough love means stepping in to stop their self destructive actions. It may mean ignoring their autonomy. Getting them away from the thing they are addicted to can allow them the freedom to clear their head.

This is a morally challenging thing to do (and often not legal). Adults have the right to make mistakes. Individual autonomy means that we must respect the right to make choices, whether good or bad.

Addiction isn’t just about substances because there’s many actions which can trigger similar brain reactions. In my completely uneducated opinion, it seems they all are shortcuts to various evolved behaviours. As animals with brains rooted in evolution, our actions and behaviours are guided by hormonal and chemical triggers within our brain. Reward and punishment. We’re clever enough to have figured out ways to bypass the intended actions (eating, sex, hunting, etc, etc) to get at the reward (drugs, masturbation, gambling, theft, dangerous sports). It’s not that those are necessarily wrong, in and of themselves, but they’re easy access to powerful feelings. Its harmful because the shortcut is easier than living a reasonable, balanced life. The necessities become unnecessary. Until the parts of your life that have been eroding collapse. Then you can only get positive feelings from your addiction. Why bother with the rest of life now?

So we come back to tough love. The people who care about you have to step in. Break the shortcut, get your life back into something mildly functional, and hope that your willpower is strong enough.

That’s the extreme example. Tough love can come in many milder forms. Maybe a friend has started dating someone you think is bad for them. Maybe they’re about to make a decision that you think will hurt them a lot in the long term. Or maybe you think they’re walking that path towards addiction.

The thing is, you can’t give up on their autonomy. You can give them advice and try to persuade them, but you can’t take away their ability to choose. It’s simply not ethical. Furthermore, to say that you love someone, but you don’t believe they can make adult decisions in their life, is an indication you don’t actually love them. You’re loving the person you want them to be, not who they are. You must respect their right to choose.

So you do that. You argue with them; you try to convince them that they’re making a mistake. But who are you to do this? I don’t mean this in the general sense, like “who dares to feel so entitled”, but in the specific sense. Who’s the right person to bring the tough love?

Maybe friends? They’re not close enough, they may not see the bigger picture and understand the real ramifications of a decision. They could easily be mistaken and become tough without actually helping. This damages a friendship without any benefit.

So maybe a best friend; the friend you have the deepest/longest bond with? They should be the one that has the most facts so they’re less likely to make mistakes. A similar relationship is the partner/spouse. The difference between the two varies significantly from person to person, so I have trouble making specific statements differentiating them. The way I see a partner compared to a best friend could be radically different from the norm (I’m not exactly an average person emotionally). So this last part is more purely conjecture than most of what I write.

It must be said that the separation of the two is a differentiation of roles and not of people. You can have a single person take on both roles. It’s just rare. The best friend role triggers less potent of an emotional reaction but a more consistent one. This is why it’s common to stick with them through many partners. You have to sacrifice a good deal of emotional intensity for it to last. This is why it’s challenging for one person to fill both roles.

So with that defined we can discuss who’s better to serve you some tough love. I think it’s the best friend and not the partner.

There’s a dichotomy between being supportive and tough. When you make a decision that’s bad in the longer term, but overall a relatively minor one, it can be good to be supported in your decision. It doesn’t matter that you make a mistake, having a loved ones support helps build your confidence and self esteem. It can also keep your bond strong for those times it may be tested. Most people can’t do both, their either supportive or tough.

A spouse/partner is comfort. They’re your rock, your solid support that stops you from falling too far. Like the quote from Palahniuk at the top of the page, tough love polishes you. It’s rough and coarse and painful, but it helps you. Your support should be the carrot and not the stick. Someone must be the stick though and it needs to be someone who doesn’t feel they’ll be cut out easily. They must feel confident in their relationship with you. So it should be your best friend.

Money Problems

There’s a problem with money. Well there’s more than one but this is a poignant one. Having money allows you to get more money. As biological creatures we want to leave things for our offspring (usually). These two together create an inevitable growing wealth disparity, regardless of how equal we start off. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Taxes are the only counter force but they only function when they are a smaller force. A 100% or greater tax would simply encourage criminal behaviour.

Let’s get down the layers to the root cause: money is how we quantify power. You can eliminate money but the same dynamic will occur with raw power, be it technology, weaponry, etc. Power accumulates. It’s an attractive force like gravity. It will clump together in larger and larger chunks. The more centralized the power, the greater we can manipulate the world around us. Not as individuals but as humanity. All the great structures of the world were built when the wealth distribution was unequal. This power allows for monumental creations, but it also creates great complexity in the system. This complexity is inherently unstable. A society with less centralization and less complexity will naturally last much longer. If two societies meet, the more complex one is capable of far greater accomplishments. It will either destroy the simpler society with force or compete it out of existence.

Is there some elegant solution? Not that I can think of and I doubt it’s possible. Any means to work around this (like taxes) will be a human created system. This power dynamic isn’t of human origin, it’s a part of the universe. It’s intrinsically tied with evolution. A system we create will be itself susceptible to the exact problem it intends to solve. Power will still accumulate within it. Here I’m reminded of the self referential nature of Godel’s Incompleteness theorem and how it trashed the universal application of mathematics. Fucking Godel.

There isn’t a satisfying conclusion. We can’t solve the wealth gap, at least not in the long term. Wealth will accumulate until it reaches a point of instability and then collapse. The revolution is inevitable. As is its failure.

This can’t be taken as an argument for inaction because the scale is deceiving. Yes, all societies will fall prey to the greed of a minority. Everyone dies too, that doesn’t mean being a doctor is pointless. You do it to save people in the here and now. The present tense is always more meaningful. The future cannot trump that.

So we tax the rich and their inheritance. We plot the revolution. We plan for it to not fail.
Even when we know it will.

Painful Love

How do we survive? How do we parse our lives; deal with personal needs, help those around us, make the world better, create. All at the same time? It’s insanity. Yet we must. It’s the only way to keep this thing we call civilization running. Many of us will fail. Most of us. Over 99%. But that’s a risk worth taking. We sacrifice ourselves.

So many of the important things in life are too complicated. Not that they can’t be broken down but when they are they’re just as dangerous. All sides have edges. 

I want love to drive me in all things. Love is powerful. It’s incredibly powerful. Dangerous at times. I can’t moderate it myself. I need someone else to absorb a portion of it. It’s like an echo chamber in my soul. The energy of it bounces and magnifies inside me. I can’t deal with it. I want so much. Too much.

When a massive star swells with energy it will form an Iron shell, encasing it. Up to a point. In some minute spot it weakens. As it breaks it releases a beam of energy so potent it could destroy all life on the earth. An act of nature that could snuff us out in an instant. Even light years away.

As the equation approaches infinite. As the memetic organism reaches a manic insanity. As the supernova bursts.

My love.

Past Motivations, Present Rationalizations

We rationalize our actions. Humans are impulsive creatures, our brains are not the logical thinking machines we often assume. They’re a chemical soup of hormones and tangled wires. A foundational aspect of personal identity is internal control. This isn’t something we learn. It’s an assumption you make when we say you have an identity. When you say “I”.

This urge to have control clashes with the reality of our lives. It creates a major blind spot. We deny our lack of control and claim to have always meant to have done that, or said that. Our vocalizations fun faster than our planing conscious brain. Gut reactions are instinctive feelings.

When we take a strong stance on a topic; be it offended, excited, saddened, etc, we must have a reason. So we rationalize, sometimes it’s a true rationalize, in the sense that it was actually why we did a thing. In those cases it just happens that the origin of the gut reaction matches our conscious beliefs. It may be the ideal situation but it is most certainly not the most common. The thinking mind will make the “best” argument for a given behavior. The more logical or ration a person is, the better they are at rationalizing their own behavior. That does not mean they *are* more rational in what they do. Their behavior is not more rational. In fact, it can allow them to be less rational. They can justify what they do better. The person unable to justify their actions will be forced to change themselves. To confront the consequences of their actions.

This disparity between motivation and rationalizing is how we disappoint one another. We want to be a version of ourselves that we imagine. The ethical person, the witty person, the interesting one, the mysterious one. They’re all ideals we have about who we would *like* to be, not necessarily who we are.

We react in instinctive ways to the world. We rationalize those actions to match the person we imagine we are. Too often our friends and loved ones will “trust” us to be the person we say we are. Not the one we actually are.

There’s so many levels of deception to the human experience. Real honesty is therefore impossible. We lie to ourselves far too often.

It’s why Trust is so important. The real trust. Trusting the core person, the actual person.