“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.”
~ Antonio Porchia
Memory is one of the most, if not the most, important capabilities of a human being; it allows us to learn, critically think, and find complex solutions to complex problems. Also, the ability to store personalized information that is read, heard, or experienced is consequently what makes us unique as individuals. Your memories, distinct from my own, are what you have used to develop the concepts that help you navigate the world: your ideas of friendship, of love, of family, of society, of work, are all derived from your experiences throughout life stored as memories. Memories provide guide-rails for the future, however how reliable are they?
Continue reading Brain Fog
“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself.”
~ Saint Augustine
Truth is a property which I have been wrestling with in the last week. How we define truth, what constitutes a truth, and whether multiple truths are simultaneously possible, are difficult questions with difficult answers. I will not attempt to answer any of them. Instead, examining the inverse of truth, the lie, more specifically the conscious lie, can perhaps shed light on the importance of the truth in walking a life path built on honesty and reality.
Continue reading Sworn Testimony
“…for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy.”
Most people, myself included, are so entrenched in their belief systems that they refuse to open themselves up to any alternative reality. We also tend to connect and associate with those who share similar views with us, thereby reinforcing them. Such an entrenchment can be further reinforced by confirmation bias, the tendency to search, interpret and favour information that confirms our beliefs and values. The effects of such a cognitive bias manifest in many forms within our society, for example in the partisan nature of our political landscapes.
Continue reading The Fog of War
“Rule your mind or it will rule you.”
Inner monologue is the verbal dialogue that runs (often amok) in one’s mind, and is in many ways reflective of one’s sense of self. Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions of the human psyche is the idea that you are your thoughts; I think the inner monologue is better characterized as some semi-autonomous entity which, whilst being able to wander independently in the absence of guidance, can be controlled, or at least reined, with adequate awareness and proper practice.
Continue reading In Conversation with the Self
“Come to terms with death. Thereafter, anything is possible.”
~ Albert Camus
In A Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the main themes proposed by Viktor Frankl in his theory of logotherapy was the idea that one’s search meaning in life is the primary motivational force in life. It is important to acknowledge that the temporal limitation of life is an integral component to such a force: the meaning to human life is predicated on an inevitable death. It is really this inevitable, looming death that truly motivates us, that provides the impetus for all human endeavour. Our consciousness of death, despite our best attempts to ignore it, is what propels us to create and act in the world; it alone gives meaning to every moment through the mere fact that it could be your last. We no longer are forced to confront death anymore: the death of our fellow humans largely happen in hospitals; the food we eat is processed in farms and factories far away from our own homes. This dissociation from the process of death leads one to grow up without ever needing to truly contemplate the limitations of our existence. This possibly adds to the shock and grief felt when we inevitably lose those close to us.
Continue reading The Denial of Death
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
~ Viktor E. Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning
I recently joined a book club, and the book for my first session was A Man’s Search for Meaning, a book I had purchased many months ago and never got around to. It is one that I knew I would enjoy given its psychological and existential themes, and it did not disappoint. I learned much from this short yet powerful book, and its relevance is everlasting.
Continue reading Book Review: A Man’s Search for Meaning
“A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty.”
~ Sigmund Freud
One must be conscious of the contagious effect of the crowd: it influences our decision-making processes, our beliefs, and our daily lives in ways that go criminally unnoticed in modern day society. One must also acknowledge that while the individual experience is foremost and invaluable, one exists in a space and time that must be taken into account. Humans are essentially social beings: total retreat and abstinence from the crowd is not only impossible but detrimental. A balance must be struck, one that facilitates individual growth whilst reaping the benefits of community membership and the pleasures of conversation. From time to time, it is useful to retreat into solitude, using such a space to re-calibrate yourself and reflect on your current state of being. Eventually, however, one must inevitably return to the world, and take one’s place within it.
Continue reading The Contagion of the Crowd