#Idea – ‘Our Age Of Extremes’ / 06.08.13

We live in an age of extremes.
At least, perceived extremes.
Magnified excitement.
In large part we can ‘thank’ the media we consume.

And to clarify, I’m not just talking about news, but popular things such as cinema, TV, games, and so on…

Media puts emphasis on the biggest, strongest, fastest.
Thinnest, fattest, most virtuous, least virtuous.
The opposite and extreme ends of the spectrum.
The cartoon caricatures.
The troughs on the bell curve.

Is it any wonder that our perception of normality is supposedly screwed up even before we’ve left childhood?

What the fuck is going on?

In fact, your kid years are some of the times you are most exposed to these influences. Think how many hours are spent with the TV, the games consoles, and when your mind is at its most receptive.

Body image perceptions, material ‘needs’, self concept – all fucked up by believing too greatly in the hyperbolic messages that come up day after day after day. Messages you’re exposed to so frequently that you forget that they’re not ‘normal.’ At least, not statistically normal.

(As in; you’re much more unlikely to run into them in the world beyond your TV/smartphone or computer screen)

Not everybody’s a millionaire entertainment industry playboy, despite what they’re telling you/selling you. And the rare few that do fall into that category probably still have the familiar cloud of doubts, personal problems and mental baggage that most ‘unenlightened’ humans carry about with them.

There is no perfect life, just incremental improvements and strong ideas some people try to convince us of.

Braggadocio ≠ reality as it is.

The more time we spend consuming this media, the more attention we expend on life’s extremes, forgetting that life *does* exist in ‘the middle’ and that the middle doesn’t have to equate to boring or inferior or anything else particularly negative at all.

It’s the same phenomena that makes it so hard to eat simple healthy meals when we are habituated to years of consuming tastebud beguiling, highly processed food products.

We are made to forget. We are deceived. Sometimes purposefully and sometimes by accident.

Yes, in reality the world’s more ‘boring’ and less skewed than the media make it out to be.

But boring doesn’t sell.

And excitement does…

buddha face photo
Photo by Chi King

#Idea – 01.02.13

It’s probably not a fashionable thing to say, but it is possible to ‘try too hard’.

And people do it a lot.

‘Trying hard’ shouldn’t mean burning yourself out. Or feeling horrendous, because you failed, despite your best efforts (having ‘should have tried harder’)…

Effort expended and attachment to outcomes exists in a polarity. There’s ‘too much’ and ‘too little’.

And you can take both of these things to their (il)logical extremes..

This is the neurosis that some call ‘Workahol’

Striving too hard, wanting too much, these things inevitably lead to unhappiness when things eventually fail or don’t go to plan.

True, a lot of people make next to no effort at all, and it shows. They’re on one end of the continuum. They’re never disappointed any specific failure, they’re usually just disappointed with life on the whole.

But it is possible to burn out and try too hard. A minority of people do this, but they do it spectacularly. They’re on the other end of the continuum. These are the unhappy workaholics.

Achieving nothing and working yourself into a grave are both taking this ‘effort’ thing way too far in opposite directions.

The Japanese, masters of obsessively pushing any skill or phenomena to it’s outer limits, have a phenomena called Karōshi – literally “death from overwork”.

These are people who give themselves heart attacks and strokes cos they’re trying so bloody hard.

So yes, surely there is a sweet spot between giving no fucks at all, and being too invested in achieving a certain outcome.

18 hour workdays might be a warning sign.

The recipe is perhaps to care, but not too much.

Never enter a situation or negotiation that you can’t walk away from. Never need too much from one thing or person. Never make yourself emotionally or spiritually vulnerable when you don’t need to. And never say never!

Burn brightly but don’t burn out…

stressed black and white photo
Photo by ephotography

#Poem – 05.11.14

This world full of walled orchards
Look at the beautiful lives
You cannot lead
Look at the beautiful things
You cannot have
The open spaces
You cannot tread upon
Look at your
Your contentment
Which will be taken for laziness
And your achievements
Which are not enough
No.
The mantra is try
Try,
Try,
And again try
It means nothing
And you mean nothing
Until you arrive

So acquire
Something
Anything
Everything
Put in a little more effort
Before you die

black and white luxury photo
Photo by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

#ThoughtExperiment – Chasing Novelty / 06.04.13

Whether we like it or not, we humans (usually) crave novelty. Quite obviously, it excites us.

We want new things to do. Mind altering drugs to take and mental spaces to uncover. New lovers to experience. New places to explore. Greener grasses to stand on.

We get bored of ‘old stuff’.

But maybe there’s an easier way to get this feeling, this excitement we’re chasing.

Maybe life can be about ringing every drop of meaning and significance out of the mundane and the present.

Making the ‘normal’ or ‘boring’ experience a novel one.

Seeing the incredible depth, awesome complexity and infinite richness in everything, no matter how ‘exciting’ what you are looking at or experiencing is.

Not becoming jaded.

And not just chasing novelty for the sake of it.

Maybe this is what it is to experience life fully.

Never to be bored again.

Never to be running away from where or what you are.

Maybe this is contentment.

Maybe.

digital tunnel photo
Photo by Transformer18

#Idea – Centre Vs. Periphery / 16.01.13

In your life there are the familiar things you tend to focus on…

But these things in the centre of your attention are just a tiny, infinitesimally tiny fraction of what is happening out there.

And there’s so much else going on…

On the periphery of your perceptions and experiences are new universes to explore and experiences to have.

But it’s easy to keep focusing on the same things, doing the same things. Getting better at the same things. Specialising in your specialties. Digging deeper into your centre.

Hell, it’s what I’m doing now…

See, I could be out there having any experience.

Meeting new people in new, far away places.

Perhaps….

Sharing this little idea with some person

Perhaps sharing it with you, face to face, somewhere different.

I like this idea.

But I like to write, see…

It’s easy for me to type out my thoughts as they come along. Inherently easier than going out all the time in search of conversation and experience (that’s not to say I haven’t done it many times before…)

And it is easy and familiar for me to be with at all these words on my computer screen.

To ensure I’ve hit my ‘daily quota’…

Your centre is not necessarily a bad place. Your centre anchors you. It’s the place where, if habits are good, life moves along smoothly

It is good to be centred, but not so strongly centred that you become ‘fixed’.

Because sometimes you don’t want live to move along smoothly at all. You want to make fucking quantum leaps in every direction and to suck the marrow out of life’s bones. You want to scream “carpe diem!” and actually have it mean something. To act on it. To live it.

And so the centre must be allowed to move and encompass more of the periphery.

At current, I feel that I am too centred…

And too long staring at the centre often encourages ‘the itch’

Now the itch needs scratching.

There’s a lot on my periphery but I’m not paying attention to it.

Though I should be.

Are you?

rooftop black and white photo
Photo by ardenswayoflife

#Idea – Copywriting Bullshit / 18.02.2013

So, I don’t subject people to rants unless there’s an educational subtext to it. But I’m a footsoldier in the endless war on bullshit, so, THIS is my moral obligation.

Here goes…

There’s a new rule of the internet in headline writing that few are aware of, but once you see it, you’ll absolutely shit brix…

I heard it from Ryan Holiday, who wrote an excellent book called ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’ – which was, incidentally, an incredible and insightful read.

Anyway, back to the rule…

*Rule*: You can lie as much as you want in your headline PROVIDED you put a question mark at the end of your statement…

Think about it. Then take a look at the titles of the articles you see online. Most especially look at the ads you see, all posing these stupid questions that you are supposed to answer by clicking through….

“Network Marketing Success?”

(No – just an opt in form that’ll try and upsell the perpetual opportunity seekers)

“Get Ripped In 4 Weeks?”

(Not this way you won’t)

“How Do Celebs Get Their Slim Tummies?”

(Clicking through won’t answer the question and it’s certainly not gonna happen with ‘raspberry ketones’, lol)

Et cetera, ad nauseum, ad infinitum…

If you look at it, often the headline wasn’t even a question in the first place, just a vehicle put there to make such blatant bullshit in the title ‘permissible’ and to encourage clicks.

Ruining it for the rest of us?

As a professional word slave, and sometimes ad copywriter perhaps I should feel indignant about such cheap tricks ‘smearing’ the industry. But I’m finding it far more amusing to play a game of ‘spot the bullshit headlines’ instead. And it’s almost too easy these days.

Can’t stop a roaring river with your bare hands, afterall.

So, here’s the goddamn Protip: ***Posing a bullshit statement as a question, doesn’t make it any less bullshit. It just makes it bullshit with a question on the end of it.***

And I’d like us compulsory consumers of advertising to see it for what it is…

Bullshit.

And I’d also like these marketers to either piss off or go sell something worth buying (but they won’t do either of these things – cos it obviously works too well)

The more you know…

P.S – There’s another version of this game where you play ‘spot how many times advertising headlines use the phrase “weird trick”

Again the game is far too easy, and if you write for a living it may harm your self esteem…

bull black and white photo
Photo by stimpsonjake

#Poem – 09.02.13

Enter the anti evangelical
Post angelic
World swallowing
Belief System
Of expression, mostly free
Of ideals upheld
Illusions intact
Wants fulfilled
Free markets
And inviolable capital

Arrayed against it are
You: sometimes spiritual intellectuals
You: mostly practical philosophers
Dreaming unidealistic, unitarian dreams of
Wicked scenes
With your desert God
Fearsome commandments
And eschatological selections
There you go again
With your singular demand
That your explanation
Be the only means
Of understanding

And you think you understand the bigger picture
This place that surrounds you
This political-economic climate
This zero sum game
But you don’t understand
All this world turned to waste
The media circus,
Moral panic
Crashing into moral hazard
Perched on a financial cliff
Hyper inflated
Morality gone to the grave
You want to see an end to it
Oh, but there is no end
It just grows instead
Nobody can stop it

And you can preach as hard as you like
And pray as long as you want
You can send your sons to die
Promise them virgins, honey and paradise
Then watch them scatter into countless, charred pieces
Never to be reassembled
And when they’re all gone
Honourably broken against this thing that you hate
This thing that has abused you
You can mourn
Then pray again
But it won’t work
None of it will work

Cos it’s got more money than you have
More armour than you have bullets to expend
More bullets than you have bodies to throw at it
More adherents than you have converts
More spies than you have faithful
Better press than you
It has sold more people on it’s worldview
And invested more people in it’s way of life

Yes, you can try to break this system
That has built itself into the fabric of the world
You can demand submission
Cry out for justice
Demand a voice

But it goes on anyway
It won’t listen
And it won’t submit

black and white american military photo
Photo by DieselDemon

#Idea – ‘The Slot Machine’ / 13.01.13

Think about a slot machine that unfailingly paid out a very small amount of money.

It’d also run out of coins quickly as savvy and very cheap people took advantage of its generosity

But people wouldn’t have the same amount of fun playing it. The slot machine would become a ‘job’.

The turning of the handle and watching the numbers spin would no longer be exciting and mysterious, it’d be just a measurable condition of the work process. Some sort of indicator or something.

We would much rather have the small offchance that there could be a big payday, even though statistically ‘the house always wins’. And the danger that losing money presents is compulsive and exciting.

Sure, many want certainty, but once they get it, they grow restless and bored.

And thus, bored, many of us will throw ourselves into and at the big payoff, just for the sake of it. We’ll risk everything, even though there’s a much less risky (though often longer) way to get what we want. Gambling. Hard drink. Drugs. Self harm. Compulsive spending. Running your mouth. Whatever.

Why?

This is partly because we are lazy and we want ‘it’ now. The all pervasive ego demanding ‘immediate gratification’.And it’s partly because we’re fucking bored and the creative urge is also the destructive urge and the destructive urge wants to say ‘fuck it’ and fucking destroy everything just because it can.

Because destruction brings change and renewal, and these bring new and exciting things. Afterall, change is one of the only certainties in this existence.

So there has be a challenge, something to overcome, something new to explore, something to change.

What are the alternatives? The slow death of the easy life. The midlife crisis or existential boredom gnawing at your soul until you can’t face it anymore and you have force a change. And destroy something. Possibly yourself. Until finally, you can FEEL something again. Feel life. Feel vitality. Feel power.

Everybody needs things to conquer, enemies to defeat and effigies to burn. And I guess it really comes down to how we go about it.

Whatever is created will be eventually be destroyed. You, as a creator of things, should remember this…

black and white god photo
Photo by Fountain_Head