Un-professional

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete"

Instead of protesting and demanding changes from our errant parents, we must initiate these changes ourselves. It is time for us to grow up. In doing so we step out from under those parents - the system that currently defines our relations for us -  and take control ourselves.

We all have skills to offer each other. We may, at the moment, only do this in the form of a professional relationship. In other words, we offer our skills and get paid for them. The professional relationship has its virtues, but also its limitations - limitations that are critical at this point in time.

A friendship-based contract (contact) is one that is free from these limitations. Instead of offering our services for a fee, we offer them for free.

Friendship-based relations could be a crucial way for us to transition away from the current system and towards something more healthy. Professional relationships have a certain tendency to them -  they take us in certain directions.  

They are infused with the logic of the current - dysfunctional - system, and so keep us within the old story.

The friendship-relationship is a space in which we are free to do what we want, in which we can redefine our relations and write a new story.

In concrete terms, we must find ways to offer our skills to each other for free. This will mean making sacrifices, something our generation must accept. These sacrifices may mean accepting a simpler lifestyle, a life without as many 'things' in it. It may mean foregoing certain luxuries, or novelties. Those generations that went before us were unwilling to make the sacrifices that were required of them, and so the baton is passed to us. Will we have the strength to do what they could not, or will we, once again, pass the burden downwards?

There is no way that we can transition to a more sustainable and healthy world without making sacrifices. Yet through sacrifice we grow as people... 

1. Get a skill. Choose something and specialise.

2. Establish yourself

3. Examine your lifestyle. Think about what your core necessities are and what can be sacrificed for the greater good.

4. Begin to offer your services for free. Devote a certain percentage of your professional time to community service. Offer your services on a non-professional friendship-oriented basis. Convert professional to non-professional: distance to friendship. Both parties are made aware of the arrangement.

5. Keep assessing your lifestyle. Continue to weigh up what you can sacrifice in order to convert more professional time to non-professional time.

6. Aim to pare things down to the minimum you need in order to sustain an acceptable lifestyle. As you make more changes to your lifestyle your idea of what is 'acceptable' will also change. Draw what you need from the system in order to support your lifestyle but otherwise aim to devote as much time and energy as possible to using your skills in a friendship-based gift-giving way.

The more each of us do this the more we - collectively - will move away from the system that separates us and the closer we will draw towards each other. In this way ties are reestablished, communities rebuilt.

Trust will resurface as a result of our non-professional relationships. From within the walls of professionalism, we can emerge into a new story.

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Related posts:-
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Lost Tribe
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Carry Each Other
Know your place 
Life Support 
Walter
Set it Free 
Open Source Approaches
Sell Out 

Concentrate / Decentrate




Concentrate                     -                      Decentrate
Hyper-                             -                      Hypo-
Life                                  -                      Death
Multiply                          -                      Divide
Limited                            -                      Unlimited
Real                                  -                      Ideal
Flawed                              -                      Perfect
Creation                            -                      Destruction
            



Within every living thing there is a tug of war, consisting of the the pull towards life, and the pull towards death. The life urge is conservative, the death urge expansive.

Life is defined by the process of limitation; a thing is only a thing because of all the things it is not; from a sea of infinite possibility certain characteristics are chosen, at the expense of others. Infinity is bounded.

Death is the return to infinity; the unbinding of what has been bound. If life is synonymous with 'limited', then death is synonymous with 'unlimited.'

As humans we have an urge towards expansiveness - the need to constantly explore new territory - that must be balanced by the imposition of limits. A lack of boundaries allows us to adventure to far flung places, full of mystery and novelty - but whenever we travel to extremes we also dance with death.







Concentrative thinking is centripetal. It focuses to a point. It borns gravity. It “charges” by multiplying low potential into high and cold into heat.



Decentrative thinking is centrifugal. It expands into space. It borns radiation. It “discharges” by dividing high potential into low and heat into cold.

The journey toward gravity simulates life and the opposite journey simulates death in the forever repeating cycles which, together in their continuity, simulate eternal life.

[Walter Russell]
A New Concept of the Universe, p. 14-16





One of the characteristic patterns of capitalism is of things getting concentrated into ever smaller spaces. Of things becoming more tightly packed. Of extremes.


Some examples:

- money and power is concentrated into fewer hands, producing extreme wealth/poverty.

- people are concentrated into smaller spaces, producing areas of extreme density (cities) and extreme sparsity (countryside).

- pixels are concentrated into smaller spaces producing extreme definition (HD).


Unchecked concentration leads to extremes.

For instance, the more you gather separate things together into one entity, and the tighter you pack them, the more mass you create; the more you concentrate flavours, the more exaggerated is the affect on the tastebuds; the more you focus talent into one area, the greater are the potential products of that talent; and by focusing wealth and power in fewer hands, the more extreme things can be done with this wealth and power.

Its akin to taking a long-slow wave - with shallow troughs and peaks - and packing it into a very small space. Its highs and lows are exaggerated - higher highs and lower lows - but its duration, its lifespan, is significantly shortened.

Imagine an athlete who trains so hard that they surpass all previous achievements in their field. They push their body to its limits, but in doing so wear it out in a very short space of time. They burn brightly - brighter than anything thus far - but their flame is extinguished unusually soon.

A high peak is always followed by a swift and steep descent. The brighter you burn, you shorter you shine: this is the eternal balance.

Through concentrating things we have made certain advances that would not have been possible otherwise. We have reached extremes that would have been unattainable if things were more evenly spread. These are the victories of capitalism.

Capitalism is, amongst other things, a pattern of runaway growth. It is unchecked linear progress, an infinite line moving into infinite space. In disregarding limits, it ends up going to extremes.

The longer it continues, the more tightly things will be packed, and the more extreme these things will become. It is turning a beach full of sand into a few boulders of sandstone.

If you want to make sandstone then it is 'good'. If you want a beach full of sand then it is 'bad'. Each have their downsides and upsides.  

As ever, the critical factor - the thing that determines 'bad' and 'good' - is context.

In light of the current problems that face us as a species, we cannot afford to keep wanting a few boulders of sandstone. We must begin to think in terms of sand, and beaches.





A supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus to which there is an existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved.

For example, when it comes to eggs, a bird can be made to prefer the artificial versions to their own, and humans can be similarly exploited by junk food. The idea is that the elicited behaviours evolved for the "normal" stimuli of the ancestor's natural environment, but the behaviours are now hijacked by the supernormal stimulus.

'Supernormal stimulus'


In semiotics and postmodernism, hyperreality is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies.

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI).

Individuals may find themselves, for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world.

'Hyperreality'


Concentration leads to hyper-stimulation leads to addiction:

- Food                                        - extreme tastes
- Pornography                           - extreme bodies
- Drugs                                      - extreme highs
- Social media                           - extreme connectivity
- Films & video games                - extreme sights & sounds
- Music                                      - extreme sound





The point that nearly everyone in the debate is trying to evade is that the collection of extravagant energy-wasting habits that pass for a normal middle class lifestyle these days is, in James Howard Kunstler’s useful phrase, an arrangement without a future.

Those habits only became possible in the first place because our species broke into the planet’s supply of stored carbon and burnt through half a billion years of fossil sunlight in a wild three-century-long joyride. 

Now the needle on the gas gauge is moving inexorably toward that threatening letter E, and the joyride is over. It really is as simple as that.

[John Michael Greer]
'Renewables: The Next Fracking?' 





An enclosed social circle can quickly evolve political views, and the concentration of Britain's intelligentsia within small networks predominantly in west and north London helped to radically shift accepted ideas and prevent dissenting voices emerging.

As Cass Sunstein noted in Going to Extremes: 'Social networks can operate as polarisation machines because they help to confirm and thus amplify people's antecendent views.'

Interactivity between a group with political leanings of a certain bent acts as an echo chamber, progressively radicalising them even more.

[Ed West]
The Diversity Illusion, p. 62-3





I think that status is a hyper-normal stimuli […] what porn is to sex, sugar and salt and fat concentrated in a Frappuccino, or a McDonalds is to food - void of the actual nutrition […]

In an evolutionary environment we couldn’t necessarily have more than 150 people pay attention to us - now we can have a huge number of people pay attention to us and have it metricised with likes.

I think it is like sugar, a hyper-normal stimulus that is [unlikely] not to be bad for us, and we have to have a very mature relationship to it. Addiction of any kind - any hyper-normal stimulus that decreases normal stimulus - is going to end up being net bad for us.

I think one of the metrics for how healthy a society is, is inverse relationship to addictive dynamics. 

Addiction will give me a spike and then a crash, and then because of the crash I’m craving something that will spike me because I feel really shitty. But then I get in an erosion of baseline over time from the effects of that.

A healthier, more effective relationship to pleasure is anti-addictive. A healthy environment conditions people who are not prone to addiction, which means having more authenticity of choice. Addiction or compulsion writ large is less authenticity of choice.

If there is a healthy status relationship - in a tribal environment, where I can’t really lie and people are watching me, and know me - if I’m thought well of it’s because I’m actually doing well by everybody and I have authentic healthy relationships, as as opposed to [being able to] signal things that aren’t true, get more status though negative signalling about other people, and so on - that is the same kind of thing as the fast food, or the porn.

So I think we have a hypo-normal environment of the healthy stimulus which actually creates a baseline well being. Most people, when they go camping with their friends and they’re in nature in real authentic human relationships, they’re checking their phone for dopamine hits from email or Facebook less - because they’re actually having an authentic, meaningful, engaging interaction.

But in a world where there is a lot of isolation, [little] connection to nature and meaningfulness, that hypo-normal environment creates increased susceptibility to hyper-normal stimuli. 

Hyper-normal stimuli happen to be good for markets, because on the supply side addiction is good for the lifetime value of a customer, but is bad for society as a whole.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 - On Avoiding Apocalypses' (3:11:40)





[…] globalisation creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words it creates devastating Black Swans. 

We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse. Financial institutions have been merging into a smaller number of very large banks. Almost all banks are now interrelated. So the financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks […] when one falls, they all fall. The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crises less likely, but when they happen they are more global in scale and hit us very hard.

We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogenous framework of firms that all resemble on another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur… I shiver at the thought. I rephrase here: we will have fewer but more severe crises.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 225-6





[Nathan] Myhrvold enlightened me about an additional way to interpret and prove how globalisation takes us into Extremistan: the notion of species density. 

[…] out of the sixty thousand main words in English, only a few hundred constitute the bulk of what is used in writings, and even fewer appear regularly in conversation. Likewise, the more people aggregate in a particular city, the more likely a stranger will be to pick that city as his destination. The big get bigger and the small stay small, or get relatively smaller.

Simply, larger environments are more scalable than smaller ones - allowing the biggest to get even bigger, at the expense of the smallest, through the mechanism of preferential attachment […]

We have evidence that small islands have many more species per square meter than larger ones, and, of course, than continents. As we travel more on this planet, epidemics will be more acute - we will have a germ population dominated by a few numbers, and the successful killer will spread vastly more effectively. Cultural life will be dominated by fewer persons: we have fewer books per reader in English than in Italian […] Companies will be more uneven in size. And fads will be more acute. So will runs on the banks, of course.

[…] I am not saying that we need to stop globalisation and prevent travel. We just need to be aware of the side effects, the trade-offs - and few people are. I see the risks of a very strange acute virus spreading throughout the planet.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 219, 317


Short term / Long term





Short term                           -                      Long term




One of the most exciting things about adolescent boys and girls can be said to be their idealism. They have not yet settled down into disillusionment, and the corollary of this is that they are free to formulate ideal plans.

It is not for the adolescent to take a long-term view, which may come more naturally to those who have lived through many decades and begun to grow old.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst, p. 165





"Let's save the planet for future generations, for our children, and their children."

These appeals are all but useless in the current cultural climate.


The more we swing toward a short-term pragmatist/materialist mentality the less we value long-term considerations. Thus, the voice that urges us to think in the long term - that warns of future dangers - is a weak one. 'The future' is little more than an abstraction; we do not care about 'the future' because it does not exist here, now.

We can see this on an individual level. Many of us may have an addiction that we know is harming us in the long term, and that may have catastrophic effects on us in the future. Yet, because we can continue to indulge in the present without any immediate ill effects - because judgement day has not yet arrived - concern for our future has little affect on our present actions. The short-term outweighs the long-term. This kind of thinking is encouraged and reinforced by the wider culture. It urges us to indulge. 'Fuck it'.

If we do not care about our own future as individuals, then what hope have we of caring about our future as a species?


Who is going to be willing to fight the enormous battle against their addictions - a battle waged in the palpable here-and-now - for an abstract concept like 'future generations'?

Appeals that attempt to make us change our immediate actions by gesturing towards future danger - "the icecaps will melt", "your liver will give up" - are more or less redundant. Calamity must strike - we must hit rock bottom - before we are willing to change anything. Faced with such calamity, many would choose to continue along their dysfunctional path (keep their addiction) rather than change. They would, in some cases, choose annihilation.

Such is the power of the short-term in these times.

Sometimes in order to fight something we must take an indirect - and often counter-intuitive - route. Perhaps, then, to prevent the icecaps from melting, we must promote a long-term mentality. The pendulum must begin to swing in the opposite direction.  

The most critical battlefield in this regard may be culture.

We must stop transmitting messages that urge us to think short-term. We need people of influence (celebrities) who endorse long-term thinking. The voice of wisdom - the voice of the elder - must return to guide us, rather than the voice of the reckless youth.






Not only is there respect for the aged, but authority is vested in the old people. This arrangement naturally lends itself to control of life by the aged.

Preservation of the religious ideals and mores is thereby ensured, and the younger people who are inclined to introduce change can be held in check.

A strong consciousness of kinship is peculiarly favourable to gerontocracy, or social control by the older members of society. This control is informal rather than formal, but is, nevertheless, "closer ti us than breathing, nearer than hands or feet."

The part that old people have "in drawing forth and molding the character and life-policy of every younger person in the kinship group makes the necessity for direct control much less frequent in an isolated culture than in more accessible communities."

The relatively integrated community is asscoaited with effective rules imposed by the aged, be they parents or church leaders. Thus deference to age pervades not only familial realtionships but also the religious leadership of the group.

Furthermore, the counsel of the older bishop or minister carries more authority than that of younger ones.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 16-8





In economics, hyperbolic discounting is a time-inconsistent model of delay discounting.

The standard experiment used to reveal a test subject's hyperbolic discounting curve is to compare short-term preferences with long-term preferences. For instance: "Would you prefer a dollar today or three dollars tomorrow?" or "Would you prefer a dollar in one year or three dollars in one year and one day?"

It has been claimed that a significant fraction of subjects will take the lesser amount today, but will gladly wait one extra day in a year in order to receive the higher amount instead. Individuals with such preferences are described as "present-biased".

The most important consequence of hyperbolic discounting is that it creates temporary preferences for small rewards that occur sooner over larger, later ones. 

Individuals using hyperbolic discounting reveal a strong tendency to make choices that are inconsistent over time – they make choices today that their future self would prefer not to have made, despite knowing the same information. This dynamic inconsistency happens because hyperbolas distort the relative value of options with a fixed difference in delays in proportion to how far the choice-maker is from those options.

Hyperbolic discounting has also been found to relate to real-world examples of self-control. Indeed, a variety of studies have used measures of hyperbolic discounting to find that drug-dependent individuals discount delayed consequences more than matched nondependent controls, suggesting that extreme delay discounting is a fundamental behavioral process in drug dependence. Some evidence suggests pathological gamblers also discount delayed outcomes at higher rates than matched controls.

Whether high rates of hyperbolic discounting precede addictions or vice versa is currently unknown, although some studies have reported that high-rate discounters are more likely to consume alcohol and cocaine than lower-rate discounters. Likewise, some have suggested that high-rate hyperbolic discounting makes unpredictable (gambling) outcomes more satisfying.

'Hyperbolic discounting'
Wikipedia




Wal-Mart's lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems -- a controversial report that said America's biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.

"The overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores ... shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits ... pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies," [...]

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls a possible Wal-Mart store in New York "a Trojan horse."

"It looks appealing to a lot of families who are hurting but it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs," de Blasio said.

"Wal-Mart draws ire even in poor parts of Brooklyn"






If both positive and negative consequences of an action fell on its author, our learning would be fast.

But often an action’s positive consequences benefit only its author, since they are visible, while the negative consequences, being invisible, apply to others, with net cost to society.

Consider job-protection measures: you notice those whose jobs are made safe and ascribe social benefits to such protections. You do not notice the effect on those who cannot find a job as a result, since the measure will reduce job openings. In some cases […] the positive consequences of an action will immediately benefit the politicians and phony humanitarians, while the negative ones take a long time to appear - they may never become noticeable.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 129




[…] iatrogenics, being a cost-benefit situation, usually results from the treacherous condition in which the benefits are small, and visible - and the costs very large, delayed, and hidden.

And of course, the potential costs are much worse than the cumulative gains.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 340



Related posts:-
Beggars and Choosers
Its in my DNA 
Addiction: the long and short of it
The Devil is in the Details (and God is in the Generalities)  
Short term savings, long term costs
Masters of the Universe
Digging Deeper

Dependency Culture

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Child                           -                     Parent


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Increasingly we [live in a] 'dependency culture.'

We depend on the consumer machine to provide for us - to give us what we want, when we want it. This is our 'right.' The Thing has dehumanised us, and we are all incresingly dependent on it for succour. We expect. We demand. We are like children. Everything must be instant and, if it isn't, somebody must pay.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
Real England, p. 272


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In order to transition to a new paradigm we must be prepared to lessen our reliance on the current culture and the things that it gives us to consume: films, sport, art, music, television. Inasmuch as  these things - in both a direct and indirect way -  prop up the current state of affairs, we must be prepared to move away from them.

One of the overriding affects of current popular culture is to reinforce the world as it is.

It allows us to go on thinking everything is okay, because culture is okay. 

And yet, in many ways, culture - this world that we lose ourselves within -  serves to keep us distracted from other things that are happening, outside of its borders.

Inasmuch as we are addicted to our cultural consumables, we must wean ourselves off them. When the addict is intoxicated they disappear into their own world; turned off, tuned out. The outside world, with its problems and worries, disappears, if only momentarily.

One of the biggest imperatives of our time - in light of the challenges that currently face us as a species - is for us all to overcome our addictions.  

This includes our addiction to culture.


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Related posts:-
Addiction: the Short and Long of it
Flip-side
A Circle of Gifts 
Do Not Disturb 
Status Quo
Masters of the Universe

Fear Visions

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Negative                             -                      Positive
Deflation                            -                       Inflation
Earth                                   -                      Sky


................................................................................................................................................................................


Our culture is drowning us in negativity.

Take Eastenders (a.k.a. 'Arguments in London'). In showing us a near-constant stream of arguments and conflict it makes us more likely to interact with each other in this way. Whilst we may consciously recognise that these are only fictional characters - and extreme characters at that - we cannot control the unconscious affect that these characters are having upon us.

So whilst we may watch it in an ironic or detached way, we are not able to fully immunize ourselves from its effects. It is like ironically swallowing a glassful of poison. We can be as detached as we like from the action, but it will still have its way with us regardless. By watching we are putting ourselves into a toxic environment. The fact that we are aware of its toxicity does nothing to lessen its effects.

We often create things as 'critiques' so that we can examine the pathology (hold the wound up to the light), but it may be that in creating these visions we are actually - in an indirect way - breathing life into them.

It is entirely possible - and likely - that critiques and parodies - these things that serve up our fears in a palatable manner - are actually making the realisation of these fears more likely.

We will come to see that the ways in which we tell stories - through film, and TV - affect us in ways in which we currently do not recognise.

The visions that we create, create the reality that we live in. In this way, we mould our own reality. In constantly immersing ourselves in our fears, we lend power to them. They become self-fulfilling prophesies. What we focus on, we draw nearer to.

What do we want to focus on?

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A living philosophy must be based upon unity - oneness - inseparability and interdependence. It must have love as its motive instead of fear. It must see the good in man and not look upon him as sinful and evil.

The world becomes what the world thinks. It thinks of man as sinful and evil and he has become what his own thoughts have made him. He has made a world of hate and fear, and where hate is love cannot be.

[Lao Russell]
God Will Work With You But Not For You, p. 213-14

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Related posts:-
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