April 23, 2014

The Golden Ass

the golden ass

‘The Metamorphoses’ by Apuleius (Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis, a Roman writer) which St. Augustine referred to as ‘The Golden Ass‘ (Asinus aureus), is the only Ancient Roman novel in Latin to survive in its entirety. The protagonist of the novel is called Lucius, like the author. At the end of the novel, he is revealed to be from Madaurus (present day Algeria), the hometown of Apuleius himself.

The plot revolves around the protagonist’s curiosity (curiositas) and insatiable desire to see and practice magic. While trying to perform a spell to transform into a bird, he is accidentally transformed into an ass. This leads to a long journey, literal and metaphorical, filled with inset tales (short stories told by characters encountered by the protagonist; some act as independent narratives, while others interlock with plot developments). He finally finds salvation through the intervention of the goddess Isis, whose cult he joins. Continue reading

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April 22, 2014

Neil Gaiman

Death

sandman

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series ‘The Sandman’ and novels ‘Stardust,’ ‘American Gods,’ ‘Coraline,’ and ‘The Graveyard Book.’

Though his work is frequently seen as exemplifying the monomyth structure laid out by mythologist Joseph Campbell, Gaiman says that he started reading Campbell’s book on the common structure of myths but refused to finish it: ‘I think I got about halfway through ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ and found myself thinking if this is true – I don’t want to know. I really would rather not know this stuff. I’d rather do it because it’s true and because I accidentally wind up creating something that falls into this pattern than be told what the pattern is.’ Continue reading

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April 21, 2014

End-of-history Illusion

looking back by Mikel Casal

The end-of-history illusion is a ubiquitous psychological illusion in which teenagers and adults of all ages believe that they have consistently experienced significant personal growth and changes in tastes until now, but will somehow not continue to grow and mature in the future. That is, despite knowing how much they have changed in the last ten years, they believe that ten years from now, they will think and feel the same as they do today. It is thought that the illusion is related to a failure of imagination or an inflated sense of how wonderful they are at the moment.

Because they compare their current maturity against their immature childhood selves and see progress, teenagers believe that they are mature. When those same people look back at their teenage selves from middle age, they are amused or chagrined to think that they once thought their teenage selves so mature—but they make the same error of assuming that their middle-aged selves are fully development. As seniors, they look back at their middle-aged selves with the same amusement, and yet they repeat the mistake once again, by assuming that no significant growth or change is possible for the future.

April 20, 2014

Ketchup as a Vegetable

lunch

Ronald Reagan

The ketchup as a vegetable controversy refers to proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regulations, early in the presidency of Ronald Reagan, that intended to provide more flexibility in meal planning to local school lunch administrators coping with National School Lunch Plan subsidy cuts enacted by the Omnibus Regulation Acts of 1980 and 1981.

The regulations allowed administrators the opportunity to credit items not explicitly listed that met nutritional requirements. While ketchup was not mentioned in the original regulations, pickle relish was used as an example of an item that could count as a vegetable. Reagan withdrew the proposal after an almost immediate public outcry. Continue reading

April 18, 2014

Orthorexia Nervosa

Health Food Junkies

Orthorexia [awr-thuh-rek-see-uhnervosa [nur-voh-suh] is a proposed eating disorder characterized by an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy. The term ‘orthorexia’ derives from the Greek ‘ortho’ (‘right’ or ‘correct’), and ‘orexis’ (‘appetite’), literally meaning ‘correct appetite.’ It was introduced in 1997 by primary care physician Steven Bratman, who claims that in extreme cases, it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death. Even in less severe cases, the attempt to follow a diet that cannot provide adequate nourishment is said to lower self-esteem as the orthorexics blame themselves rather than their diets for their constant hunger and the resulting cravings for forbidden foods.

In 2009, Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association and senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, described people with orthorexia nervosa to ‘The Guardian’ as being ‘solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure.” This differs from other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, whereby people focus on the quantity of food eaten. Continue reading

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April 17, 2014

Narcissistic Supply

Love Addiction

Narcissistic supply is a concept in some psychoanalytic theories which describes a type of admiration, interpersonal support, or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment (especially from careers, codependents and others). The term is typically used in a negative sense, describing a pathological or excessive need for attention or admiration that does not take into account the feelings, opinions or preferences of other people.

The term ‘narcissistic supply’ was used by psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel in 1938 in describing the way in which a narcissistic individual ‘requires a ‘narcissistic supply’ from the environment in the same way as the infant requires an external supply of food.’ Building on Freud’s concept of ‘narcissistic satisfaction’ and on psychoanalyst Karl Abraham’s work in ‘Short Study of the Development of the Libido,’ Fenichel highlighted the ‘narcissistic need’ in early development. He noted that ‘it has been stated repeatedly that small children need some kind of narcissistic supplies for maintaining their equilibrium.’ Continue reading

April 16, 2014

Mindset

mindset

In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools. This phenomenon is also sometimes described as mental inertia, ‘groupthink,’ or a ‘paradigm,’ and it is often difficult to counteract its effects upon analysis and decision making processes.

A mindset can also be seen as incident of a person’s Weltanschauung or philosophy of life. For example there has been quite some interest in the typical mindset of both individual entrepreneurs and their organizations. An institution with an entrepreneurial philosophy will set entrepreneurial goals and strategies as a whole, but maybe even more importantly, it will foster an entrepreneurial milieu, allowing each entity to pursue emergent opportunities. In short, a philosophical stance codified in the mind, hence as mindset, lead to a climate that in turn causes values that lead to practice. Continue reading

April 14, 2014

Ego Reduction

shrink by james jean

The concept of ego reduction is predicated on the use of Sigmund Freud’s concept of the ego to describe the conscious adult self; and broadly describes the deflating of an over-inflated or egotistical sense of oneself – a curtailment of what Irish philosopher Iris Murdoch called ‘the anxious avaricious tentacles of the self.’

Among other contexts, ego reduction has been seen as a goal in Alcoholics Anonymous; as a part of BDSM play, providing a means of entering ‘subspace’ (a state of submissiveness); and as a way of attaining religious humility and freedom from desire in Buddhism. Continue reading

April 12, 2014

FriendsWithYou

malfi

FriendsWithYou (FWY) is an art collaborative based in LA, founded in Miami in 2002, by Samuel Albert Borkson (b.1979) and Arturo Sandoval III (b. 1976), which seeks to redesign spirituality, rituals, and religious acts for modern day usage and connectivity. Their mission coincides with their motto: ‘Magic, Luck, and Friendship.’

The collaborative began by creating soft sculptures as a means to spread more accessible art like plush and wood toys, as well as immersive art installations, fine art works including sculpture and painting, and are best known for their public art spectacles such as large-scale installations, playgrounds, and performance pieces. They have described the creation of their art as a healing process intended to increase relatability and connection to each other and the world around them.

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April 11, 2014

Monolith

monolith by Daniel Norris

Monoliths [mon-uh-liths] are fictional advanced machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species that appear in Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Space Odyssey’ series of novels and films. During the series, three monoliths are discovered by humans and it is revealed that thousands if not more were created throughout the solar system, although none are seen. The subsequent response of the characters to their discovery drives the plot of the series. It also influences the fictional history of the series, particularly by encouraging humankind to progress with technological development and space travel.

The first monolith appears in the beginning of the story, set in prehistoric times. It is discovered by a group of hominids (apes), and somehow triggers a considerable shift in evolution, starting with the ability to use tools and weaponry. Continue reading

April 10, 2014

Childhood Amnesia

childhood memories by william haefeli

Childhood amnesia, also called infantile amnesia, is the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories before the age of 2–4 years, as well as the period before age 10 of which adults retain fewer memories than might otherwise be expected given the passage of time. For the first 1–2 years of life, brain structures such as the limbic system, which holds the hippocampus and the amygdala and is involved in memory storage, are not yet fully developed. Research has demonstrated that children can remember events from before the age of 3–4 years, but that these memories decline as children get older.

Psychologists differ in defining the offset of childhood amnesia. Some define it as the age from which a first memory can be retrieved, others the age at which memories change from general memories to more specific autobiographical events. It is generally agreed there is no set age that people should be able to remember events from. The nature of the childhood event and how the person retrieves a memory can influence what can be recalled. The amount of early childhood memories a person can recall also depends on how old they are when they are asked to remember. Continue reading

April 9, 2014

Risk Perception

cultural theory of risk

Risk perception is the subjective judgment that people make about the characteristics and severity of a risk. The phrase is most commonly used in reference to natural hazards and threats to the environment or health, such as nuclear power. Several theories have been proposed to explain why different people make different estimates of the dangerousness of risks. Three major families of theory have been developed: psychology approaches (heuristics and cognitive), anthropology/sociology approaches (cultural theory) and interdisciplinary approaches (social amplification of risk framework).

The study of risk perception arose out of the observation that experts and lay people often disagreed about how risky various technologies and natural hazards were. The mid 1960s saw the rapid rise of nuclear technologies and the promise for clean and safe energy. However, fears of both longitudinal dangers to the environment as well as immediate disasters creating radioactive wastelands turned the public against this new technology. The governmental communities asked why public perception was against the use of nuclear energy when all of the scientific experts were declaring how safe it really was. The problem, from the perspectives of the experts, was a difference between scientific facts and an exaggerated public perception of the dangers. Continue reading

April 8, 2014

Max Richter

memoryhouse

Max Richter [rik-ter] (b. 1966) is a British composer. He studied composition and piano at the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Academy of Music, and with Italian composer Luciano Berio in Florence. After finishing his studies, Richter co-founded the contemporary classical ensemble Piano Circus. He stayed with the group for ten years, commissioning and performing works by Arvo Pärt, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, and Steve Reich. The ensemble was signed to Decca/Argo, producing five albums.

In 1996, Richter collaborated with Future Sound of London on their album ‘Dead Cities,’ beginning as a pianist, but ultimately working on several tracks, as well as co-writing one track (titled ‘Max’). He subsequently worked with the band over a period of two years, also contributing to the albums ‘The Isness’ and ‘The Peppermint Tree and Seeds of Superconsciousness.’ In 2000, he worked with Mercury Prize winner Roni Size on the Reprazent album ‘In the Møde.’ Richter produced English singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan’s 2005 album ‘Lookaftering’ and Sneaker Pimps lead singer Kelli Ali’s 2008 album ‘Rocking Horse.’ Continue reading

April 7, 2014

Turbo

Turbocharger

A supercharger is an air compressor that increases the pressure or density of air supplied to an internal combustion engine. This gives each intake cycle of the engine more oxygen, letting it burn more fuel and do more work, thus increasing power. Power for the supercharger can be provided mechanically by means of a belt, gear, shaft, or chain connected to the engine’s crankshaft. When power is provided by a turbine powered by exhaust gas, a supercharger is known as a turbosupercharger – typically referred to simply as a turbocharger or just turbo.

Supercharging increases power, but turbocharging can improve power and efficiency. Turbochargers were known as turbosuperchargers when all forced induction devices were classified as superchargers. Currently, the term supercharger is only applied to mechanically driven forced induction devices. Continue reading

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April 5, 2014

Superficiality

after many a summer

What social psychologists call ‘The principle of superficiality versus depth’ has pervaded Western culture since at least the time of Plato. Socrates sought to convince his debaters to turn from the superficiality of a worldview based on the acceptance of convention to the examined life of philosophy, founded (as Plato at least considered) upon the underlying Ideas (the belief that non-material abstract ideas, and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality).

For more than two millennia, there was in the Platonic wake a general valorization of critical thought over the superficial subjectivity that refused deep analysis. The salon style of the Précieuses (a 17th century French literary movement characterized by wit and wordplay) might for a time affect superficiality, and advance the treatment of serious topics in a light-hearted fashion; but the prevailing western consensus firmly rejected elements such as everyday chatter or the changing vagaries of fashion as superficial distractions from a deeper reality. Continue reading

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