I’m 22 y/o and I failed at life.

I’m 22 y/o and I’ve already missed my chance at a life of success and actual well-being. This is not going to be an article with references and smart-sayings, this is going to be the reason for itself – the reason why it’s not going to be ‘academically approved’.

I’m 22 and lost the chance to life a while ago, but I realized it a couple of days ago and my first reaction was ‘but I’m young’. And it hit me: I’m not young. I’m too old already to have a successful life. This century destroys us, gives us depression and anxiety, phobia of ourselves. We’re living in a world which only promotes the geniuses who make a successful life until they are like 30 with titles like “he/she started at 16 to…” and I’m like wow… I’m not undermining their work and all, but they are a handful of people while the rest of us is left in the unknown, is left swimming in a pool of depression- and anxiety-pills because we’d never be good enough for this world… when we’re actually the good ones. Geniuses are the rare thing.

When did we stop thinking that being 25 is still young and we still have a life in front of ourselves? When did we stop realizing that we cannot be mature enough before what, 27? Since when did we stop knowing that you’re at your best in your 30s?! …. We didn’t? Then why do we feel like there’s nothing out there for us? Why do we always have to check with someone if we do something? Since when cannot we decide on our own? Why? Because we need support in failure. That is true, but how can we massively fail at 20 y/o? There’s no such thing as failing at 20, it’s trying and not managing, but he- ho, there’s so many years ahead, it’s not an actual failure – yet we all feel like the world’s against us. And the world is against us. That’s what’s sad –

They all say, man, the world’s not against you, it’s not like anyone does something to you. Well no, no one actually does something to you – but everyone as a whole does! As a whole, guys, the society is so fucked up that we require so much experience from a 25 y/o that he/she’s never gonna have – like yeah, I want you to be like 35 but 30 years of experience, please. This used to be a joke, sarcasm, something –  it’s not, it’s reality and it actually hurts. You wake up like “yeah, man I’m in uni and I will do something with my life” – then you realize that wherever you want to go (postgrad job, master, etc.), they all need stuff that you couldn’t have achieved: good grades are achievable. But then: internships, whatever jobs, I wouldn’t know what societies and all that… How is that for fair? Because it’s not like some internship or any job and any society, na-ah, they have to be like massive, top-ranking whatever, which guess-fucking-what: require experience already! You’re 23 trying to actually start a life and what you can actually do is grab a chair, a rope, and get a room.

The point is that everyone needs prof that you’re worthy of their environment, degree, whatever, but no one really wants to stand as proof. Like “hey, yeah, I know I’m good, I want to be good, but no one really lets me prove myself so what the fuck am I going to do?”. Well I’m telling you what: you get a job in retail, go up to management, and suck it up, because you weren’t a 16 y/o genius. That is exactly what you do unless you have some friends in some positions and they’d help you with documents that would stand as ‘proof of being worthy’ even if you maybe aren’t.

Seriously, it cannot be just me who feels it. And if it is, someone wake me up to the reality because this is not fun.

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How to encounter the yada yada about how useless sociologists are – the two parts of sociology and how to reason. Numbers. It’s the numbers, … people.

It’s serious issue for us sociologists and sociologists to be that we encounter such figures yelling their science-based degrees at us. This sort of people are unavoidable and they always go yada yada on the more or less same lines: “Oi, what you study there is like trying to understand what is just straight-forward in the world and you do something that you call research but then you say you cannot really reproduce the same outcome because you’re unreliable, and then you call yourselves social scientists – yada yada – there’s not even the smallest bit of science in your sociology – yada yada – you’re worth nothing”. Maybe they don’t really undermine the work so much as in my example, but we all know someone who thinks we’re useless human beings pretending to do some science of the people and managing to know nothing reliable for the future to come. And they are right to some extent. I do believe that, when it comes to parts of sociology, we end up studying a lot to only become almost useless human beings. I do now feel the rage in most of you reading. Bear with the explanation to come.

Sociology itself can be a lot but not useless, by the very fact that sociology shows you how the world works and it also explains it to you. What these people say is that why would anyone try to explain what’s reality when everyone sees? Firstly, not everyone sees it. Your reality is different than other (societies vs. societies) and then how well do you actually globally know the cultures? Then again, here comes the Google fan who goes about, obviously, searching online. I’m particularly fascinated by these geniuses who think they can go Google everything and understand the lives of other just too well from a simple click and read – and they can Google it, but how did the data go to Google to store it, well, guess Google’s AI just made it up, eh? But then again, I understand their point. The fact that some of them go rude on sociologists is another thing, but not all do – some are genuine believers of the fact that doing sociological research is like researching fish in an aquarium – intentionally didn’t say sea or ocean.

So it goes, we feel offended anyway and we try to explain to them that sociological research is of very much use and we try to show cast some political research so that they will understand it’s important. And they still say that “well it did work this time, what about the next?”, and we cannot really lie so we’re trying to nicely defend ourselves while admitting that indeed we won’t have the exact same outcome, not only because people will change, but there are various factors around the world like economy in a country might affect voting in another country and so on, because there is a huge network of influence etc.; and while they believe everything we say, they will end up saying the same yada-yada about how we’re useless because they won’t understand what explaining the social world means and that explaining it results in predicting it. Scientists, for the record, explain the social world better than sociologists – that is my opinion based on actual results. Scientists do those nature-related tests like maths goes some way, physics goes some way, chemistry is straight forward it either burns the whole town down or it works, etc., it’s practically out there for them in a way in which they only have to throw their hand in the world, grab whatever’s there, test, and there you have it. Then they go mixing their findings and they-know-what they find. It’s not easy, but it’s there in some form or another. Social sciences, though, do indeed shove their hand in the world and pick up something and test, but meanwhile the world changes a bit, so they have to think well while they get their hand out and look at what they grabbed, they have to take into account what sort of changes happen and then only test the reality they have with the hypothetical change and find out what is happening. So social scientists have a blurry start even before they actually start the testing. They did, social scientists, find a way to trick the confusion, and they called it qualitative research. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the word ‘quality’ itself.

Qualitative research is funny to look at because they never gave itself a definition, they could only say what it isn’t. Why? Because it’s a lot of things around a human being entering a society and spying on them – well, researching them, but sometimes the fellows don’t know they are being researched. Yes, it is legal. So in 2014 Denzin and Lincoln said that “It [qualitative research] has no theory or paradigm that is distinctly its own, nor does it have a distinct set of methods or practices that are entirely its own”. This qualitative research is highly entertaining because it’s about acting. Ethnographic research functions somewhat like this: a man/woman wants to know what happens in the closed circle of society ‘x’, then they inform themselves about it, then they try to penetrate it. The fun part is the way they go in it: do they announce that they are going to research that environment, do they just spy the environment (from the inside)? Both are legal and both work, the latter even better because it shuts any possibility that someone will play their role somehow specifically in order to ‘help’ the results of our researcher’s study. The debate whether or not to claim your research is huge and has nothing to do with the article here. If you want to look into it, it’s called overt/covert research and there are characters who say it’s immoral to research people without their knowledge of it and the other way round – the interesting bit is that even if you penetrate a circle and announce you are a researcher, the circle is active and changes so at some point during research someone will surely not know who you are, why you are there, etc. But again, this is another story.

Ethnography is all sorts of fun: researcher gets to talk to their subjects a lot (oh, and they are not called ‘subjects’ really, because they are our fella human beings, not rats in a lab – but no, they are subjects), researcher gets to feel his/her subjects’ lives, the interaction goes above and beyond the hypothesis of research. I am not trying to undermine qualitative researchers’ work, but what they have is a fact and an explanation for the fact – one single fact, no overall conclusion like “if the environment is x then the subjects do y, but if the environment is z then well, let’s get in there and find out!”. That’s it – that’s where they cannot go further. And that’s why our counterpart full-time scientists that annoy us with their repetitive results are right! Indeed, my fella sociologists and sociologists to be, qualitative research is vague, is straight forward in conclusions, and only brings the obvious above the water. Yes, results are deep and data is rich, indeed. Quick explanation: if the researcher announces his/her presence as it is, then the behaviour of subjects will change and the researcher cannot know the exact difference. If the researcher doesn’t announce his/her presence not only is it slightly ethically incorrect, but he/she will not have the opportunity to ask some questions which as a researcher you can, but just as someone there would feel more or less ridiculous (such as personal data or some personal background on someone, etc). Thus, the researcher using ethnography cannot grip the whole story no matter how much he/she tries.

Moreover, ethnographic data cannot be reproduced. It is straight-forward why and as I am addressing these arguments to both science-based individuals and to sociologists both parties know what I mean. You cannot reproduce instability, and qualitative research is highly unstable – even if one would research the same (sub-)society twice he/she won’t have the same results because, first of all, people change, situations change, rituals (habits, routines)  don’t, but then qualitative research wants to get a grip of the feeling of being part of a (sub-)society, not only the process of its existence because that process can be found by studying laws and unwritten laws of some community. Therefore my argument ends, this is why I do believe that social research can be useless to some extent.

But to some extent only. Studying social science you also have a quantitative research method which does have something to do with the word ‘quantity’, because everything is based on numbers – isn’t that reassuring? This is the science in sociology. Quantitative research, as put by Alan Bryman, is described as entailing the collection of numerical data, a deductive view of the relationship between theory and research, an objectivist conception of social reality. Quantitative research is pretty tight to Durkheim’s idea of social facts, as Prof. Bernadette Hayes would also admit. Durkheim says that the society is a fact, not a continuously changing chaos (obviously he uses more elevate terms, but that would be the idea). Now, Durkheim is almost right, but as I also tend to trust psychologists, I would define society as a long-term chaotic exchange of psychological traits between individuals, where the psychological traits are influenced by sociological facts, and the sociological facts are constructed by the psychological traits. I should now make some sense of it. Durkheim on social fact: “manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they can exercise control over him”, that is factors influencing the individuals without their will and happening external to any psychological trait. The chaotic exchange means that individuals’ personalities change and are influenced by reference groups – but this happens in no predicted way, as we cannot penetrate each individual’s mind (yet), can we? Psychological traits are features of personalities e.g. introvert, shy, talkative, inclined to black humour, optimist, etc. These traits are influenced by social factors because, counting psychology, humans are influenced by surroundings – as easy as that, they change their mentality in order to fit the environment, may they want or not, it subconsciously happens. But these social facts don’t just exist out of the blue, they had to come in place somehow and we all know how many debates there are on how the world appeared and I am completely rejecting to start another one, but the social facts are functions of the society which cannot exist with the actual society, can they, and the society was born because of individuals gathering, thus Durkheim’s social facts are the product of individuals’ psychological traits and ways of thinking. You have today social facts which go about regardless of my or your existence, but they weren’t independent of the population at the beginning, because the population gave birth to them – at least that’s my theory based on psychology. You cannot have a group without individuals, can you? Then again, the society is indeed a chaos, but very well planned chaos, and it even makes sense to claim that – beauty of sociology, making sense of nonsense. That it actually is, quite frankly, the very best easy definition of this field of study.

Back on track, then. Let’s take Durkheim as a non-questionable entity and give his social facts full credit (he did a pretty good job to convince us he’s right, didn’t he?). Then we have all the other sociologists who try to have theories about, basically, how the social facts work, right? Well then. These social facts are caged in theories. Marx believes that revolution is the answer and that for him is a social fact, no matter what, the lower classes revolts to the upper class, and the cycle goes. Society itself (individuals, groups) are chaotically changing. Then what must be done is testing if these not-Durkheimian social facts actually exist. Then what quantitative research does is gets a theory, thinks at which (sub-)society it relates to, and tests it. The researcher samples the society (number of subjects of the society, if possible the whole), then addresses various very deeply thought questionnaires, or engages with the subjects in such way to probe the theory. For example, if Pavlov worked with humans, he could sample 4000 human beings (or whatever big number you think of) and conduct the same experiment he conducted on the dog. The results would be the same, by the way, because there is research done on humans as well, but more ethically – they did not cage the individuals. That would be quantitative research. The results would be (all numbers made up!) 70% of the individuals salivate when hearing the bell, but the results variation is +-10%, which proves theory right (basically the answer is between 60 and 80% of people, because you have a standard deviation to your variation around the mean). You have a number of random people from a (sub-)society and then you eliminate subjectivity and then you have the same conditions for everyone, so you can relate an experiment to the next if you want. Then you have all the mathematically proven correct equations which give away society’s trend of acting in the situation of study. The idea is that you do statistics for the test. And you have these numbers telling you how many people do what, how accurate your numbers are and, most importantly, because you have numbers, you can keep track through years and then you do some more statistics and you can finally predict how will your (sub-)society act next time some situation arises, and you can have so many empirical indicators (variables) as you want, thus being able to give accurate answers and explanations for how and why do people do something and whether they will do the same thing sooner or later considering, yes, the changes that may apply to some variables, but those changes can themselves be predicted by adding some other variables. It is reliable and most importantly it can predict the next thing to come. And that’s why sociology isn’t useless.

I know that this article is more about how sociology is useless rather than useful in terms of number of words let’s say, but that is exactly the proof: you don’t need yada yada in sociology. The science backing up sociology is straight forward and in how many words can one explain that using statistics in the right way is very clear? I know that there’s lies, big lies, and statistics – but that’s an expression applicable to journalists – and so goes the circle of hate: scientists dislike social scientists, social scientists dislike journalists (distorting stories), journalists eventually dislike photographers (distorting stories or even not distorting them!), photographers might dislike uhmmmm the guys who voice-record, ….  Etc. Point is there’s always someone or a sub-group who will undermine the work that you do! The important thing is that you shall deeply know what you do and you shall also be able to explain why you do it.

Well, I do my job because I love it and if you chose the job you love you’ll never work a day in your life (Confucius) , but I also know how to explain why I love it – there’s no such thing as I love it just because I do, there’s empirical evidence to sustain your love for something. But this is another story.

Bibliography:

Bryman, A. (2016). Social Research Methods.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Aron, R. (1967). Main Currents in Sociological Thoughts 2. p. 21-108. Great Britain: Penguin Social Sciences.

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What is so interesting about New Religious Movements?

First of it all, NRM. New Religious Movements, as you’d easily find on Wikipedia by a quick search, are movements concerned with freedom of individuals in the sense of “it’s all true for you, but not for me”. The adopters of these are people who strongly believe that the God(s) are within the individual and thus each person can be right, no matter the discrepancies between one-another. In a way it does sound like a fairy-tale where everyone is happy with themselves and the other, a society of understanding and because each of them know the ‘rightness’ within all, then they all get along and all that. Also referred to as ‘the new age’, it’s focused on ‘self-discovery’, ‘spiritual growth’, and ‘enlightenment’, the latter having the meaning of ‘reaching light’ and not the scientific beginning. Its roots are in Buddhism and Hinduism which have recently been Westernized; new agers vocabulary include ‘God’ and ‘Universe’, but ‘cosmic consciousness’ and ‘cosmic mind’ mostly, because when they state ‘God’ they refer to ‘Force’, ‘Energy’, and do not use the biblical sense (Rochford, J. M.). They exist via media such as newspapers, magazines, CDs (cassettes), and ‘lectures’. Considering, spirituality abandoned the idea of a main Holy Book (such as The Bible, The Koran, or others) and spreads itself around various sources. It is pretty obvious to exist in different forms as it is a mix-up of beliefs that different between themselves a lot. New-age-spirituality.com quotes “New Age Spirituality steps in to fulfil the need of something (…) that the material world cannot offer”, but it is sociologically interesting how it survives through beliefs in mostly the supernatural in an era of scientific research and proof, and all how it manages to function. Because the material world looked discouraging after two world wars and the atomic bomb, people looked for faith in the spiritual realm. Moreover, due to the same reason and because the church was rigid, individuals looked for freedom, freedom which was given through the idea that the soul lives more lives, that the spirit is what matters.

To me it’s particularly interesting what new religions actually are, and I will go through that as much as possible for the first part of the article. Obviously, as you hypothetically just read on Wikipedia for the first sentence I wrote, they believe in so many things that I couldn’t possibly reach out to all, but I made a list, ‘best of NR’, and it goes as follows. New Age can be said to develop through various astronomical cycles which can be astrologically identified; this is a concept borrowed form Theosophical Doctrine (Hanegraaff, 1996: 303). A common belief is that humanity enters or entered the Age of Aquarius, which should be “New Age of love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony […] the Golden Age heretofore only dreamed about” (Melton, 1992: 19). Moreover, it would be established through human agency, although some adopters of ‘new age’ beliefs would say it will happen through extraterrastrial forces or  spirits (Heelas, 1996: 74). New Age is also differently envisioned; the ‘moderate’ perspective says the Age of Aquarius relies on societal improvement, through converging science, mysticism, and alternative medicine, but also ending the violence of any kind, growing a healthier environment, and conferring international co-operation. Other people see the New Age through a fully utopian vision, namely “Age of Light”, human beings evolving to total spiritual beings who experience unlimited love, bliss, and happiness (Hanegraaff, 1996: 341-343).

This all sums up to: new agers believe that the world goes through astronomical phases and we’re supposed to already have entered the most beautiful phase (did we, really?! Is this as good as it can get?). Moreover, they also claim that this phase is ‘announced’ by anything, really, be it real or supernatural. Another thing the new agers believe in is healing. Not the medicine-like healing as in take medicine or go for surgery, but the pseudoscientific medicine. The belief states that health is the natural form for the human beings’ existence, and illness is the disruption of natural balance (Hanegraaff, 1996: 46-47). It’s true that illness isn’t seen as a positive feature by anyone’s eyes; though, ‘New Age’ therapies attempt to heal the general concept of ‘illness’, which include physical, mental, and spiritual. Considering, the concept of ‘personal growth’ is of great importance. Hanegraaff (1996) roughly categorized the forms of healing in two, as he explains that various authors of New Age Spirituality use different terms to refer to the same things. The first category is Human Potential Movement (HPM) which is related to psychedelic cultures such as hippies and ‘Summer of Love’. The HPM evolved as a counter-cultural rebellion towards mainstream psychology and organised religion – it’s not itself a religion, but a psychological philosophy and framework (Puttick, 2004: 399). The idea is that the Western society supresses massive human potential and that the heeling consists of gaining access to parts of themselves [individuals] that they have alienated; thus HPM is related to individuals reaching as a whole their full potential and gain meaning to their lives (Hanegraaff, 1996: 48-49). Closely related would be the shaman consciousness idea, which argues that the shaman would be an expert in ‘altered states of consciousness’ and adopts them to reach personal healing and growth.

A second category identified by Hanegraaff is the holistic health. This began around 1970s out of the free clinic movement in 1960s and had direct relation to the HPM. These emphasise the idea that the individual is a holistic, with an independent body of mind and vice-versa, and a spirit for the healing process is integrated within the powers of the universe (Hanegraaff, 1996: 54). Some of the holistic healings include acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, kinesiology, homeopathy, and other forms of bodywork, meditation and visualisation, psychic healing, herbal medicine, or chromotherapy, and also reincarnation therapy (York, 1995). Pseudoscientists are believed to focus healing energy and effect positive results. Chromotherapy is therapy through colour. It is said that chromotherapists use light in the form of colour to ‘balance the energy’ lacking from a person’s body.

This bit translates to: you’re hurt? No worries, go pray in your way! Because there are people out there who just hoover their hands over you and you’re all back to 100% functioning. And not only, there are people who just think of it (distant healing) and you’re healed. And they also use colours in some specific way; I do understand acupuncture though, it makes sense, stabbing yourself in the right places (it actually makes sense exclude my sarcasm). I wonder, didn’t find out, are there people who actually don’t do surgeries and pill-taking but only go for these pseudo-healings? Are they mutated with some sort of hugely advanced self-healing cells – is that you, Wolverine? [Note] I am completely aware they would heel their souls. The issue is not that some people believe that they can have their soul heeled, the problem is that they both go for these supernatural healing ideas and also for the actual scientific medicine to get actual real scientific healing and it can only look to me as cognitive dissonance [/Note]. But the most of them all is reincarnation therapy. I love this one, must admit, I think I was either a cat or a sloth, but the first is more probable just because I can go pure evil sometimes. So if I’ve been a cat , what kind of sins could I be freed of in this life – not catching some particular mouse.. or trying to take over the world? As many unappropriated jokes as I would do, the question is still if they actually take into account you might have been a flower! What sins could it have? If you’ve been a person in all of your past lives (yes, you had more!), then yes, I can go past the resurrecting memories from the unconscious and think of various sins that you’d be freed of; but the main issue that I have with it is that at some point someone will go for this reincarnation therapy and they will find out they have been a leopard, lion, sheep (or that’s what they would be now?), mouse, cat, etc., you get the idea I’m trying to underline.

New Age is a constant trial of creating “a worldview that includes both science and spirituality” (Drury, 2004: 9). Even though it seems that the new age movements reject science, it employs terminology and concepts borrowed particularly from the new physics; moreover, a couple of new age authors come with backgrounds of professional scientists (Hanegraaff, 1996: 62-62). However, ‘new age science’ is a pseudo-science, or best explained by Hanegraaff (1996: 64), Naturphilosophie (Ger., the philosophy of nature). The scope is to discover the nature of the divine and establish the scientific base for the religious beliefs. Given that the new age rejects the dualistic good and evil, the negativity exists for the individual to ‘learn the lesson’ and enable them to advanced spirituality. There is no sin and guilt for the new age (reference to abode idea of reincarnation therapy and it ‘treating’ guilt), as it believes those to hinder spiritual evolution. The movement practically emphasises the cult of positive thinking, although its forms vary. The belief in reincarnation ‘ensure cosmic justice’, but many New Agers manage to separate reincarnation-related concepts and karma as it would be an outer concept, and believe more of the latter. This still assures cosmic balance, although there is no system enforcing punishment for past-life actions (Hanegraaff, 1996: 286). The last idea points to the murdering of science and cherry picking in order to have the end one specifically needs. [Note] Cherry picking – selecting only the results in favour of the result one needs, leaving aside the contra-arguments, or selecting only one encounter so that the result is that one expects and needs to use for further action [/Note].  What is nice to note here is that New Agers don’t do as some Christians do, completely rejecting science. Adopters of new religions are aware of science and praise it in a way, take from with what suits them – which in a way falls in place, because don’t we all at some point use something only because it suits us at some point but ignore anything else about it (see some book you’d use for an essay in university when you only read that useful chapter than completely hide the book back on its shelf, it’s almost the same situation).

Financial prosperity is an issue seen by the New Age proponents; various books have been published to establish the New Age centres, those geld spiritual retreats and classes aimed for business people, and the New Age groups developed training for conducting businesses as well (Heelas, 1996: 62-65). For example, IBM, AT&T, and General Motors welcomed New Age-related seminaries hoping they would increase productivity and efficiency throughout the workers, although what actually happened is that employees claimed this as an assault to their original religious beliefs or that this damaged their psychological health (Rupert, 1992: 127-133). New Agers such as Michael Fox criticise the aim for profit of the movement, claiming it as lack of social consciousness. Regardless, the New Age movement is seen to suit the modern society for its encouragement to individuals to behave as a consumers: they choose spiritual practices on grounds of personal preference. This is very interesting because for as much soul-healing they go for, financial prosperity is at home with them. As few individuals that actually have an interest in NA (see further paragraphs), a lot of people buy at some point some book related to them just for curiosity or because the title sounds good. Not New Age by definition, but I bought a book “The Art of not giving a f*ck” some months ago and I love it – point is: self-teaching books, ideas of how to live a peaceful life with yourself, no matter what that is and in what ways you achieve it – as long as is still moral – and this moral is what everyone considers moral, really, brought to modernity through religion (reference last article), not killing one another and ‘being a good citizen and a good person in general’ – that’s as broad as it can get but each of us knows what that is, because it differs a little bit from society to society. So the new agers are only people who want peace of mind, aren’t they. There is nothing wrong (as in psychological moral-immoral and consequences of both) with it! It’s not irony nor sarcasm, it is nothing wrong with it, I desire peace of mind and balance in my life as well, but the means I use to achieve them are slightly different. I, for one, don’t really want to resurrect from my memory the cat I’ve been in my past life to catch that particular mouse in this life so that my peace of mind would be fully achieved, I just want to end up in this world where I think I deserve by analysing what I am capable of and trying to find a place within these societies.

Fascinating as it might have been for you to read my article until now, I know I didn’t really underlined why NA is so much sociologically interesting. They are interesting for any of us until now. The first idea is that we all know what we’re talking about before we label some specific topic. I would claim we already know what we talk about. Therefore, why would I be interested in New Religious Movements as the sociologist I aspire to be? Demographics of the New Age were studied and drawn to two thirds of participants being women, showing a tension between commodification and the empowerment of women (O’Connor, 2011). The New Age movement could be found in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zeeland in the mid-1990s, with problematic membership as many individuals did not identify themselves as such. However, some participants of the New Age identify themselves as Jewish, Christians, Buddhists, or atheists (Pike, 2004: 25). Sutcliffe (2003: 200) defines the New Age participant as “a religious individualist, mixing and matching cultural resources in an animated spiritual request”. Heelas (1996: 118-119) argues that individuals involved in new age spirituality could be categorized in three: the first group who dedicates themselves to ideals, mostly workers in the ‘field’ of the movement, the “serious part-timers” group who nevertheless spend much of their free time in the rituals of new age, and the “casual part-timers”, the group who occasionally involves themselves in the activities of new age. First of all, religion in general is to be organized either as a Church or denomination (both hierarchically proven), as a sect, or as a cult. The latter is defined by Troeltsch as “a small loosely knit group organized around some common themes and interests, but lacking a sharply defined and exclusive belief system” (1976). Alike the denomination, the cult is tolerant with, and understanding of, its own members (Bruce, 1996). Therefore, the new age movements can only be organized as a cult for their tolerance and diversity. Moreover, the new agers can only be cultic for they lacking the ability to argue between them and, therefore, they need an easy-to-come-easy-to-go system; they are individuals deeply convinced that the truth lies within each person and reality differs from one another. Their organization is sociologically interested because new age is an ‘one-and-only’ case of full tolerance amongst its members and, as their truth-related belief, they accept and cannot argue with individuals of other religion for they would say ‘well, it is true for them’. Excluding the discrepancy between some of their beliefs and the technological advancement of the 21st Century, the new age movement looks from an analytical perspective a mostly positive feature of the society as it only encourages and reproduces morally-accepted values.

It is interesting that the individuals are not huge in number and new agers don’t have a society even comparable with Christians or Buddhists or any others existing today. It’s sociologically interesting that as religious as the USA still is, New Religious Movements did not cover or got people to convert that much; while in the secularized Europe New Religious Movements have such a small chance that one can be blind to it. Asia again is not a fan of New Age Movements, Hindus will stay that way, Buddhists will remain Buddhists, it’s unlikely they will convert to a new age idea in the conditions of today’s secularization. This is the actual interesting fact, what is the impact of new religious movements? Do they have any real chance? But these questions are already answered: because of the small number of adopters and small chance of others converting, the impact is not big nor particularly globally relevant; and they might have a chance, but new religions will not take the statistical digits that other religions lost.

 

[Note] This is adapted from an official submitted essay to the University of Aberdeen for the course Religion and Society, 2016 [/Note]

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Religion does play an important role in cultural transition, focused on UK

Society is shaped by religion among just other few things, therefore a definition of what this is talking about seems required: [religion is a set of] “beliefs, actions, and institutions predicated on the existence of entities with powers of agency (that is, gods) or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose (the Hindu notion of Karma, for example), which can set the conditions of, or intervene in, human affairs” (Bruce, 2002). The main changes that transferred most of the societies from religiously-ruled to what we would meet today (secularization) is modernization. Modernity begins with, and means the, questioning and somewhat rejection of tradition, the enforcement of individualism and formal equality, and belief in inevitable social, scientific, and technological progress (Foucault, 1975: 170-77). Note: not the entire world is secularized, but there is a globalized secularization manta (Peter Berger) – this will be discussed with another occasion soon enough. The idea of cultural transition is by far not from the past. Various migrants movements are still highly active even within European countries. Just thinking about why Hungary actually built a wall in 2015 proves the point (border barrier as it is nicer called). But the article will be mostly focused on the UK.

The Pakistani Muslims began to fluidly migrate to Britain around 1950s to satisfy the power of labour. Relating from 2001 statistics, there were 650,516 Pakistanis who identified themselves as Muslims. The ONS predicted then for 2005 a growth of approx. 200,000 Pakistani Muslims. In order for all the individuals to integrate in the new society, they had to face change in the perception of the reality: the different manners of living in general had to ‘turn’ the into British citizens. Therefore, the only way in which one can preserve their traditions is by getting together with other alike. Being religious since before moving, Pakistani Muslims had to reconstruct their environment in Britain, which was harder than presumed because of discrimination via stereotyping. According to the 2001 Census, 98% of the British Pakistani are Muslims, that including those born in UK. Key religious organizations have been set up for a better integration, that would be the UK Islamic mission, The British Muslim Forum, The Union of Muslim Organisations, the Islamic Society of Britain, and the Young Muslims (London: Department for Communities and Local Government, 2009: 1.3). These all to prevent losing cultural and religious identity, yet concern mostly the first generation of migrants, although, as seen from the existence of ‘Young Muslims’, in-Britani born Pakistani preserve their traditions and nationality via religion as well.

All this makes perfect sense for the first generation, maybe the second one as well, but what happens, though, after a couple of generations? It is shown by surveys that cross-border marriage within the ethno-religious group help to keep the religious identification (Phalet et al., 2008). That means, individuals usually keep themselves within their specific group to preserve its features for generations to come. We need to keep in mind that we talk about immigrants, individuals whose spouses will be schooled in, in this case, Britain. When being educated, individuals are bound to interact with the environment as of the country instead of that created by his/her family. One more piece of the chain up, we therefore see that secularization is taking over tradition/religion. It’s not implied that religion would not be practiced anymore, but it loses importance in everyday life. “The well-educated were a minority among Muslim immigrants. Their lower religious involvement now is likely to be related to the fact that elites are relatively secular in some countries of origin, such as Turkey” (cf. Guveli, 2011).

An issue to the above idea would be that, on the same fact that they are religious, these groups, Muslims or any other, need their religious traditions kept and, for most of them, that means clustering to have the possibility to, for example, have the day off work when they celebrate a religiously-based event. An example can even be Christians, both orthodox and catholic Christians celebrate Easter, yet a week differs between the dates (usually). Also, a given example are the Jews of northern London, who all live in specific areas, not because anyone would (still) discriminate them, but because they feel the need to continue their traditions and for that they need a closed functioning circle which allows them to look like, act like, and act when and as their tradition is.

Another reason for which migrants cluster can be the simple understanding. Britain is also host country for Nigerian students or young workers who seek profit in order to return home. In Hunt’s interview in 2002, a 22 years old female claimed that “It is not always easy to settle here from another country. God is always here and the church is always here even when I have no money or a job”. The idea that they are not alone and are being understood is also why these people attend the church, 49% of those asked “why did you chose your present Church” answered that they ‘felt like home’; it is also mentioned in Hunt’s interview how the Pentecostal Church did change its face for the younger generations, therefore it is easier to claim membership – “The church is geared to young people. It is not unnecessarily restrictive (…) The Church allows young people to express themselves in their own way” (Jeniffer, 20 years old). Moreover, Pentecostals asked if by ‘believe’ they meant Christian beliefs answered “Yes, that’s part of it. The gospel and all that. But also shared aspirations and hopes”. One of the answers also explains the above ideas in just a few sentences: “People like to continue with the same set up, and with people of a similar background to themselves” (Jennifer, 20 years old).

Considering the Muslims in UK, the RCCG and the examples of Jews, religion itself as a belief means almost the same as it meant in their home-country, but as migrants and considering cultural transition, it does mean a lot more because it affects all parts of their lives: their interactions, their daily-life goes around the traditions which, most of them, are religious. As Hunt writes, “in terms of their social purpose, the new churches [RCCG] are (…) double-coded, they reflect the developments in Nigeria, and function in a constructive way for West Africans in what is (…) the experience of the alienating environment of British society”. On the other hand, there are secularized individuals who aren’t a part of the group, live further away and adopt the destination’s country life-style, but statistically they don’t consist the peak. Through modernisation and constant brutal technological and scientific process, religion loses ground, but those are not the contra argument. This is because nor science nor technology contradict religion, but explain and extend physical phenomena and, therefore, religious explanations lose ground.

“The fundamental assumptions underlying them [technology and science] which we can summarily describe as ‘rationality’ (…) make it unlikely that we will often entertain the notion of the divine” (Bruce, 19969: 51). For example, on April 5th 2007, The St. Petersburg Declarations quotes “We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree. (…) We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.” (Center For Inquiry, 2007). Moreover, the National Secular Society published in 2016 an article written by Maajid Nawaz, which quotes: “Instead of integrating with wider society, many Muslims in Britain turned in on themselves, integrating more with their co-religionists globally while pulling away from the society into which they were born. (…) As a country we ended up living together, apart”. This information does indeed prove the existence of secular Muslims, but deeply it only shows how cultural transition is so much influenced by religion: even when a group of people declare themselves secular they still need to ‘fight’ religious effects on their own migrant group and on the society they integrate into.

Because of the drastic and rapid technological and scientific development, cultural transition has many ways to happen throughout a workplace, a university, but the migrants who attend one of the two have to be integrated in a more various social life. This can happen in a way or another depending on how secularized the individuals are, but, for example, as some religions interdict consuming alcoholic beverages, those people will not socialise with other over a pint of beer at the end of the day. Socialization over work and university-related duties is hard for people who are bound by their tradition to act in different ways that the country they arrived in and, therefore, clustering happens, in the same time, cultural transition has a hard time to become accomplished. The religious rituals such as attending services once per week, or gathering together for prayers, etc., serve as opportunities for migrants to spend time with people pf their own background. Therefore, religion is important for cultural transition as it has a socializing effect, not only due to the individuals’ beliefs.

 

[Note] This is adapted from an official submitted essay to the University of Aberdeen for the course Religion and Society, 2016 [/Note]

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Why do people believe the things they believe?

First and foremost, ‘belief’. Belief is related to two main thing: about-self-belief and individual belief. The first is such as the belief on individuals in themselves when they plan ahead with one year. ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ Firstly, alive, and that is taken for granted and unquestioned when thought about, although we are all aware of how highly fragile human beings are. One harder hit and that was us for life. Individuals are supposed to believe that they make it through some specific event, that they will achieve their set goals, whichever they would be. This is grounded in psychology and less in philosophy. The human mind is programmed to do things, but it will not do a thing unless it thinks it can. And that is belief. Belief in self comes, psychologically, from proof. It also comes from the religious ‘God(s) believe in me’ and other versions, but this will be discussed in the second part of the article. The proof one needs to believe is result. One could wish to touch the moon yet there is no real chance of that, and thus socialization made sure to teach us. Belies in this sense of personal existence comes from, and even when it was not called such, rational knowledge. Societal conduct teaches children what they can and cannot do and leaves everything up to choice indeed. Traditional societies had people believe in themselves even though everything was sort of pre-set and unchanged (if your family’s ‘business’ was growing potatoes, you’d be growing potatoes no matter what because you wouldn’t be aware of anything else). Their beliefs were more tamed, accorporated by religion; again, see the discussion in the next part of the article. These about-self-belief are what encourage and support life. Having time passed and societies growing in complexity, individuals could afford more.

Even if industrialization took over and institutionalized life so that humans became objects in production processes, the growth and availability of knowledge, combined with the lie of freedom, let people have various self-beliefs such as ‘When I grow up I want to be…’, ‘I hope I will achieve…’. Mostly these aims could be reached, but now they are almost easily achieved in a way or another for the society kept changing until the point when the division of labour, complexity of bureaucracy, and moral society life grew all so much that the lie of freedom escalated a couple of levels. Humanity is at a point where indeed individuals can choose their path, if they afford it (reference to economic status), can choose their religious belief, if they afford it (societal strings such as the Indian political party who claims its secularity yet disregards any non-Hindu Indians and persecutes them), can choose their romantic partner, if they afford it (see sexual rights, homosexuality issues in various countries); the point is, individuals can choose as long as they afford it and there lies the lie of freedom, as one can choose, if. The price is not even money, although they make the world go round (reference to Simmel’s modernity), but is the hard-working and not-questioning state in which statistically most of us find ourselves in. Society today needs this about-self-belief more than ever, therefore it will not disappear. Not only because is naturalized (see next paragraph for explanation), but because society became so complex that it’s needed that individuals do not question too much, do not search too much, yet in the same time, they do. Science took the most important place because it gives the knowledge, and not only “knowledge is power” (Bacon, 1597), but individuals are supposed to have it in order to get specialised and serve somewhere in the dramatic division of labour. Politically, people are supposed to have belief in particular parties so that the world is continuous in the system – the lie of freedom is essential for it prevents the revolution which Marx himself was implying that should happen. The society today must continue in its belief and the powerful parties ensure it for it is essential that this

All these are written from the perspective of humanity constructing their social being, part of which are their beliefs. Beliefs themselves are a human product that undergoes in time to become ‘natural’. This phenomenon, of specific ideas becoming to feel real and outer human although they are humanly created, is explained with much clarity by ethnomethodologists and phenomenologists. The very first idea to be stated is that people are attentive and wide-awake for their here-and-now and do not pay much attention to habitual every-day life things. Inglis (2012: 87) exemplifies it very clear through the ‘I am taking the bus’ statement. Everyone knows what a bus is, yet no one particularly plans to travel by it – only when the bus is late does an individual start to think ‘Oh, bus isn’t here. I am late for work. What am I doing?’, therefore providing his/her wide-awake-state with here-and-now planner thoughts. The second idea to be stated is that any belief is human made. The key to beliefs-construction is social interaction, the process in which human actors create reality ensuring it’s meaning by shared identification (Simmel); that is, as Bruce (1996) would argue, a society can deeply believe in and worship a squid (yes, squid) if one can find unanimity within the society and, most importantly, lack of contact with the outside. If one plays god, he than can do successfully do it by creating a society in vid, meaning no contact with other societies shall be allowed, so that the individuals in experiment can share and procreate specific given data. The slightest contact with the outside turns their strong belief to fragile ideas that can be changed (Bruce, 1996).

How does, though, the society create its own beliefs through? Again, no one can (yet?) righteously go back in time and find out how some belief appeared, but experts would tell us that it is all psychological. Well, they are right, the human mind is complex enough to give birth to ideas that touch the supernatural and put them as part of the human life – now all who read thought of God and Gods, but, more or less, pseudo medicine touches the supernatural and still requires individuals to believe in it. The fact that the latter slightly touches some scientific explanation is absolutely no argument to destroy the fact that it is supernatural. The more individuals will definitely be cured of illnesses by, for example, acupuncture, the more God and Gods become real. As practically all the philosopher and social scientists claimed, Gods, supernatural existences, are no more than individuals’ conscience to moral lives. Religious beliefs are born for two reasons: 1. To confer a way of organizing the society (this article is not expected to analyse the usage of religion through history within various societies), and 2. To set in humans’ minds moral standards by which to live (again, this article is not supposed to analyse how tragic the reality turned out). Given these two, having individuals believing in Divinities that dictate good and wrong seemed profitable to keep the societies to a standard of living.

Throughout history, not only did religion dramatically switched the scenes and became a tremendous institution that judged, discriminated, and terrorized humanity, but also humanity forgot that itself created religion; it became naturalized in their spirit (see the example of the bus, the wide-awakeness in the here-and-now). Meanwhile, have had analysed societies and societies dramatically changed themselves and went from highly agricultural arrangements to the capitalist chaos we do not even meet today. Some fascinating reason for capitalism is the Protestant reformation which emphasised the idea of individualism (in the eyes of God) and therefore reinforced egalitarianism and practically raised the beginning of alienation by letting individuals act for themselves mostly and lose the sense of society as a tight unity. Secularization became a thing as the effect of modernization, but the latter couldn’t be possible without religion; Weber attributes to the Reformation facts such as the democratisation of knowledge, and is very well based, as the reformation did indeed try to purify Christianity of the supernatural and therefore rationalize the beliefs. Weber also says that the reformation is its own grave-digger, for the reformation encouraged the idea that the material world is self-governed and ordered, which allowed individuals to forget God(s) and left science to be the embodiment of rationality. Secularization, then, is not brought by philosophers and the scientists did not even existed in their ‘real’ form in that time, but it was brought by the subtle but deep changes in the social structural support of religion. Societies became more and more complex for the industrialization and the huge ‘era’ of Fordism. Considering Marx, people were more and more alienated from life itself, from their work, from their ones’ alike, and from themselves mostly; routine gained access into people’s lives and daily diaries registered ‘going to work. Sleeping. Going to work. Repeat’, which practically stopped individuals from, for example, practising religion at certain times, or even spend time with one another. Romantic partnership became a simple ‘living with someone’ rather than a ‘having a life with someone’, the difference being that, the first only implies actual habiting, while the second implies constructing a common ground, a common routine, why not, a common anything.  Religion became a consumer product for people could afford to choose whether they believed or not – the bureaucracy (the no. 1 reason for which religion appeared) was already covered by appointed institutions, and the moral life (the second reason for which religion appeared), was now reinforced by law institutions to which various rules were added in order to comply the capitalist society that has been built. Having in the complexity of societies growing even more, individuals came in contact with various other beliefs (see the idea of squid-worshiping society), therefore it has been harder and harder for them to only admit and commit to their ‘old’ belief. Even hearing that someone thinks different than you unconsciously makes you wonder, therefore religion lost importance in people’s lives and became individual choice, but individuals continue to believe in religious ideas and will do so even if in smaller and smaller number. This is because religious belief gives a sense of morality being awarded by, for example, going to Heaven. Psychologists would say this is the concept of positive punishment (a kid given a candy each time he/she says ‘thank you’ versus the negative punishment, a kid slapped each time he doesn’t say ‘thank you’).

To sum these parts up, beliefs in terms of religion appeared  to construct a structured reality and faded in time for other institutions took their role. There is no actual proof even by claim that science ever tried to ‘demolish’ religion, religion itself declined because science explains the bits that religion put under mystery (Bruce, 1996). Moreover, religion has history, as straight forward and obvious it can be sad – tradition says religion is there and is so much naturalized in the mind of people that perfect atheists wouldn’t exists without religion. There is no such thing as society today without religion and religion did, does, and will affect humanity. As far in time as one can think, religious beliefs will fade for the lack of religious knowledge, but there will always be historians who would awake ideas, psychologists who would use a concept, sociologists who would analyse its workings on then past societies. As any other event and fact of the society, religion and religious beliefs are transcendent from generation to generation, yet transformed by each and given forward different and for different purposes than receive.

The overall conclusion is then that beliefs, any that would be, are both social constructs and habits naturalized and more or less rationalized and as long as the human brain will function in the almost same way as it did until now, any belief will continue its existence, may it be rational or mystical.

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Ethical sane insanity, moral principles, and psychotic realistic mind-sets

Keith opened his book. Keith was about to write down certain features of the society while he was studying for his hilarious course which was teaching him how ‘meritocracy’1 works. He put down six words which he considered to be most expressive. “Immature, evolved, technologized, instable, diverse, and confused”, but he crossed them as soon as he wrote the final letter of the final word.

“That’s absolutely not what I’m living in. That’s just part of it and it’s even complicated how they mix”

he thought,

“I cannot simply admit these terms, it’s too much of a struggle in this society, it’s a killing struggle – oh, irony – it’s not to be, or not to be, it’s so much … oh, what?”.

Keith was up to making a coffee when his mind basically fell off onto the ground and couldn’t process anything that he was doing –

“it’s a psychopath, it’s psychosis, you’re bipolar, you’re under no circumstances sane – you’re insane and you’ll stay labelled because they decided to call your state like this. You cannot even imagine how insane you are – you’re the most of all suffering of psychosis and you’ll be the greatest psychopath soon – they won’t ever judge you as sane – think about it”

and Keith found himself smoking out of the room’s window while drinking his coffee. He wasn’t sane. Ok, oh, he wasn’t! Society practically decided that sane is feeling what all feel, seeing what all see, and insane is… well, different – including all kind of mental illnesses, insane also means someone psychotic, psychopath as well. And Keith was both and a bipolar guy as well – although no one ever knew and they might never discover. His illnesses cannot be seen, although he is developing them, feeding them daily, never trying to let them go. Keith is up to destroying himself for the sake of imagination, art production, and discovery. And when he is up with thoughts about how and why, he’s not even part of the reality anymore, his mind is simply transferring into a parallel universe, simply departing from his body, living it as it would be dead and gone, but still reacting in the most instinctive ways. And then Keith, while smoking too much and drinking another three coffees, went through all the ideas he could have about the society. He took off all his innocence and wrote down the three simple concepts he thought that describe the 21st C: psychosis, psychopathy, bipolar behaviour.

  • Psychosis is a state of losing touch with the reality;
  • Psychopathy is a personality disorder resulting in lacking empathy, impulsivity, and other, and
  • Bipolar Behaviour means an interchange of personality, a mood mesh up, two kind of rapports to the reality within one single person.

I guess this should be what the society is. Think about it – a bunch of people conducted by a system which they chose and dislike in the same time – another bunch of people who rule, who are promising and not keeping their words in the same time. There is a bunch of people ruining their lives for their own wrong concepts, they ruin themselves for being manipulated, convinced, offered things they will never receive. Mistreated, mislead, lied to, and made fun of, this huge bunch of people would never go above to think for themselves – but they have their time when they suddenly feel themselves as deep. It’s not much of them when they feel like being ‘deep’ – it’s just a sparkle which disappears so soon and it’s never coming back in the same way, and all the ideas are lost. Society shouldn’t be allowed to judge for itself – the thought is hurting me, that so many people just shouldn’t have the right to choose for the entire population, what, globalization is doing wrong and it shouldn’t be meant to hurt – but oh, it hurts so much! Globalization …….. For the nation ……… no! No! We don’t need one simple nation, we don’t mean to be dumb, and we don’t mean to kill so many cultures!”

Keith stood there in front of his writing with his face frozen. He wasn’t aware of his full texts, he wasn’t aware of how much he wrote until now – he wasn’t aware of the 4th coffee he made, nor was he aware of the pack of cigarettes he finished. When did all happen?

 “I wouldn’t stop doing my thing, I wouldn’t stop noticing how frightened I am when I find out what I write, I wouldn’t stop hurting myself with all the thinking”

Keith thought. It’s been four hours in which he basically did nothing for the course he should have done all the work already. He out down the papers and went back to what he called ‘studying’ – laying in front of a laptop, with some opened books, contemplating how much nonsense there was –

“no one actually understands what I’m trying to say – the society isn’t nice and it doesn’t get together – why do they all say that the society can be turned into a ‘one big family’, don’t they see the problems in some countries, don’t they see all the struggle some people go through? Don’t they see all the lack? Don’t they…. Do they?”

Keith’s psychosis wasn’t a straight one, it wasn’t simply it, it was one of a poet – it was more of a diffusion of the reality when he was in those contemplative states, but it wasn’t that of a sacred, it was a terrifying, energy-consuming, destructive one. Keith lost touch with his reality for many times and he was in states when he was asking himself if what he sees is what it is, if what is planned for the next day is actually planned, if he is real nor not, and if everyone and everything is actually his illusion or not. He was projecting this film, like him surrounded by either nothing or just people who see him as an insane, because he would actually talk alone, and he would actually be completely different from the reality that everyone else actually sees. Where would then be the psychosis in the society? Wouldn’t it be in him? Where is the psychopathy? Psychopathy lies in him, it’s in his deepest scars, it takes over in moments of panicking loneliness, it covers his mind when he is scared – and he’s not a criminal, he’s not murdering people – he’s murdering minds – he’s a mind killer and that’s what makes him Keith. Keith is one piece of a murderer, he says,

“I am never going to be arrested because up until now there is no rule to not mesh up people’s mind – oh, but if it was!”

The society needs to be ruled by unwritten rules, and it is, but the question is how much those are understood, recognized and, as well, how are they understood, and so on. There are concepts which are meant to not function, I cannot really guess why, but it seems like some concepts are shared by a really small number of people and they, therefore, cannot be called as functioning for the society. Such concepts are principles, ethics, and morality, all going together, because separate they make perfect sense and are viable. The problem is when they merge one with another and from which perspective they go together.  Reasonably, I would accept that there can be two people who randomly meet and have the same perspective upon this merge I am talking about, but I cannot admit this.

Principles: A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning [Oxford Dictionary, English UK]. I know that it is nothing new coming out from this definition, but for some reasons, principles are not only mistaken with ‘principals’, but they are mistaken in their nature – no, acting on principles does not mean acting on defined rules, nor does mean acting by rules you don’t believe in – one has his own principles to be guided by. It’s a struggle to keep your principles along your way, most of them do change, but there is a basis of principles which should never be left away and never betrayed. It is the treasure you have, as they are made by you to rule you.

Ethic: A set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct [Oxford Dictionary, English UK]. Indeed this definition is not new either, and yes, it does link to ‘principle’, because so it is, having principles leads into ethical acting. But what are ethics for one out in the world? No, we do not discuss the psychological ethics, although we could, we don’t connect this word to the social experiments or any other thing, I am trying to say ethics in the world, ethically living, ethically treating those around us. And no, if the latter, it doesn’t mean that we need to be ‘fair’ with someone, ‘fair’ meaning acting towards them with a complicated well-mannered behaviour if we consider that they don’t deserve our respect, ‘fair’ meaning acting as ethical as we consider that they deserve. Ethics can, yes, be measured.

Moral, Morality: Concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour [Oxford Dictionary, English UK]. The definition could sound ‘concerned with the ethical application of principles’ as well as it is and no one should disagree. Morality is what leads our decisions and, therefore, it is kind of a product of our principles and our understanding of ethics, isn’t it? If we are to choose to act in a way with someone around us, we will decide our behaviour in three simple steps: ‘does my reaction accord with the principles I live by?’, ‘is it ethical to project my principles in this way?’, and, of course, ‘is it moral to let my principles merge with the ethics and leave my personality through this behaviour?’. Although we have no idea when all this questions are put and when are they answered, they do exist in our mind – not these exact words, but their main idea floats our mind each time we behave in a way, meaning, yes, every second; they are emphasized into our process of thinking when the decision on ‘what to do now’ is more either important or shocking in any way. It is moral to kill someone to saving other four people if no other option which would save them all is given? Psychologists claim that it is. I might not, I might simply choose to let those 4 people die if the one who I would kill is Someone to me, can’t I? It would be perfectly moral in my mind and the accusation could not exist more than in words “oh, oh, you weren’t ethically and morally acting!”, oh, well, to me it would be both, I didn’t kill those four people, I just let them die.

Perspective is one of the most important factors when trying to understand a fact, someone’s action, or anything else. “We see what we expect to see” and “we see what we already have knowledge about”, both construct our perspective, both and our mind-set background. Perspective: A particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view [Oxford Dictionary, English UK]; it is very important to see many points of view to have a good perspective ourselves. I’m used to joking saying ‘Just put it from a line of view, just a point is not enough’ and as much laughter as it induce, as much truth I still believe it offers. One of my biggest curiosity is for how long will this ‘line’ be laughed at and not approached as a concept – oh, ‘concept’. Concepts are so nice, aren’t they? I think that the concept of concepts is just a concept itself. Wait – what? Concept: An abstract idea, a plan or intention; (philosophy): An idea or mental image which corresponds to some distinct entity or class of entities, or to its essential features, or determines the application of a term (especially a predicate), and thus plays a part in the use of reason or language [Oxford Dictionary, English UK].

Having to merge all these together ends up in “applying the principles by our ethics and be moral”, and this is none of what it sounds like. It is nothing as law, it is nothing as having to be in the standards of anyone else, but it is within you. And what the society sometimes, most of the times, doesn’t accept is that this application isn’t the same for all. Even if some people do share the same principles, they don’t share the same ethics, and if they do, ‘being moral’ is different between them. Rarely do we find alike thinking, and even when it matches, it’s never 100%. Human beings are supposed to be correct, at least so it’ being said, I truly believe that not all, human beings are supposed to be however it fits in that right moment of time. Being correct, though, doesn’t mean fair, and I wrote something above this lines about this. The all way known ‘be correct’ is ‘registered’ for school, any kind and level of school: 2+2=4, correct! But no, humans one with another aren’t correct. Who, actually, defines ‘correct’? Oh, that there are some conventions just alike ‘time’ is, that’s true, but even so, the vast majority of ‘correct’ is just on our daily basis choice. And I don’t find correct to treat you with respect if you behaved in a certain way with me – ok, that’s my correct ‘line’ of view – who is now to correct my correct? Applying my principles in the situation, I find it ethical to not respect you and my morality is ok with it. Is it enough said? Realistic thinking, there is no one out there who has the ability to fully judge my behaviour – although, for sure, I am not intending to claim that it can be fine to be a criminal or a burglar or anything – I mean, it can be fine, I lied, to whom is, it can be perfectly aligned with his thinking, but there are laws in the society which, is true, don’t really let this merge I am talking about explode and be however – which is, most of the times, beneficial for our lives, actually. Hating the system isn’t about willing to get rid of laws, hating the system is based on hating the lack of meritocracy – even if you don’t really feel like it’s this, it is, deep there, the flame keeping the hate burning is the lack of meritocracy; and, as well, there are those people who simply think that they deserve, but they don’t, that’s another story which is to be taken in calculus as well, but it doesn’t really fit what I was writing about. If there would be something completely correct in this society, there won’t be a society – people are biased for the simple fact that they are people – they can be unborn, the foetus is already biased, its parents are, it transmits – everything is biased around us, for the better or the worse, but it is. No, don’t take me up to discussing about how artificial intelligence won’t be biased – coding is made by humans and, yes, I know that coding needs to be perfect or it’s not running, but making up intelligence from a ‘line’ of view coming from a biased human cannot be correct, but biased, to some extent, as well. I cannot imagine something unbiased, a perfect system – perfect is knowing that it cannot be perfect. This society tries too hard to be fair.

Keith felt accomplished to having written this. Then he poured some more coffee and broke another pack of cigarettes. Being proud of his script was one of the best feelings he was experiencing.

“I am a psychic and I know the trigger. I’m not letting me down, I’m raising myself as up as I can, and I throw myself upper and upper each time – I’m experiencing what I know as being sacred, I’m experiencing my connection with the energy and I’m what – I’m writing! Psychopaths! Psychopaths all over, I am surrounded by true instable people, I am surrounded by blind people, by blind-minded, but, in the end, I am.”

Keith is antisocial for his awareness, for him knowing no one actually knows him and if they know, they don’t understand his lacks of interests most of the times, nor do they understand his tranche. Some people say that he’s mad, some say that he’s just playing, some know that something is wrong with him, and some just think that Keith is some sort of a gorgeous creature. But he knows that he is none – he is just Keith and nothing more, he cannot understand himself and nor can the others, he says,

“I am don’t want you to understand me – either support me, or leave me, I cannot understand how I am, why would I ask that from you?”.

No meritocracy is present in his world – he’s never reimbursed for what he’s achieving, he never feels accomplished, he feels destroyed by all the powers around him, he feels left. So there it was, “Immature, evolved, technologized, instable, diverse, and confused”, standing, again, right in front of him, on the same old piece of paper he was supposed to study for his exam. But Keith has nothing to do with the university, does he? The courses he’s taking, oh, he’s doing this only for… recognition? Keith is that kind of a person whom you’ll talk to about thousand reasons why he would be wrong, but he will still strongly agree with, oh, yeh, himself. Keith is not about to change his mind, although he is up to pretending that he is.

“No pretending, no passing”

he said. Keith was quite disappointed that he was thinking like this. By all the means, he never wanted to hurt. Keith never wanted to hurt anyone around him, but he did and there is no chance that he will stop this. Saying all this things out loud won’t comfort anyone – and he would publish these words, all, oh, he would. But he then stood back again.

“Finding someone with the same mind-set as yours is magic, and it’s more than a chaos as well, you’re about to be psychic – oh, irony – you’d think about telepathy and about transmitted feelings and the energy with flies so high and reaches so fast. Having said I’m bipolar and psychic doesn’t make it ‘cool’ that there’s someone out there having the same things as me. Not for the society – but for the real, oh, it is. Because all these, these are not bad. It’s not crime, it’s not insanity for psychiatry, it’s another kind of life, and, please, I challenge you to prove me that I’m insane and in need of treatment. Neither would that person be. Having my principles straight in my mind, my way of ethically applying them and having a relaxed morality doesn’t affect anyone’s business. My mind doesn’t need a friend who to be seen, my mind is my own friend and my personality disorder is the perfect company, I cannot lose control over it, we’re both in the same real time and real actions – oh, and there she is”

Keith started to think about ‘her’ more than ever. His ‘her’ was someone who he barely saw in the first times, she’s been quite fugitive when around him, but they took time to stay together with their friends for some time and Keith couldn’t hold his fascination. She’s been something that he never knew it’s possible to be. Keith’s ‘her’ was that kind of a presence which made him question his sanity and insanity in the same time – apparently she was just another random person, but when known better, she was… something.

“She’s that kind of a woman who’s talking a lot, but she makes so much sense within her sentences – I cannot understand it sometimes, how can it be, as they all told me that women aren’t that way – she’s so fascinating. I saw her the first time and I got scared – she has such a big influence on the people around her, but she’s so hard to keep; it seems like she’s never going to change and her character won’t ever allow her to become a neutral existence. She’s never up to modern talks, but she’s never keeping up with random intelligent talks – she does choose her topic, she does go in and out of it, she does change the issue, she does a lot – I could never do that. She’s like having a million seasons mind, she cannot focus on the material – she’s way too spiritual for this world. And as I said, when I firstly saw her I got scared, and I still feel the fear when she’s around me, I do feel attracted by her energy, it’s like her aura’s calling me, but I just cannot make the first step – I would never love her in that way – she’s way much more superior and her feelings are never to be reached – she does love, she does get angry, she does have random emotions, but when it’s about to be true, she, the woman I daily see, enters in a coma and there’s a confusion like an energy’s actually living inside her – there’s no more the woman inside the body, but a great unknown force of the Universe. I might never understand her and I actually don’t even want to – I do know she cannot be understood, she does know this as well, and she’s as fair as she’s never requiring understanding, she’s always doing her business alone; she talks a lot about her issues, she does ask for advice, she does, but she never accepts any other kind of help and she’s used to living in the most realistic way. I think she’s not even a woman. Who am I kidding here? She’s not a woman. She’s a Force of the Universe and me, the man, I do feel so little around her – I feel bound by the nature, she’s more than the nature, she gets over it, she’s up, too up to ever be reached. She’s not a woman, she’s not a man, she’s Something. I cannot tell how many times I looked deep into her eyes – those deep looks inside her body, those deep looks through which I couldn’t see a human being, but a synergy of all the things I ever desired and feared as Hell. She does mean all the things around us, she does work on her aim, but she’s never telling her aim. She does talk about what she’s up to, but she never talks about the very far future; she does give reasons why she’s being like this, but she never explains to be understood by us – she has her own scale of importance, her own way of classifying everything, she’s never up to retell – but she always has her business perfectly done. I firstly met her by chance, but I would’ve met her anyway – she’s that kind of a person who cannot pass unseen, but she’s not a person…” – and so does he end, and so does he start, and so does he lose his mind, and so has he much food for thought. And so dies he each time he sees her – but so does he come alive. He’s up to nowhere when she’s around. He cannot talk to her, he cannot reach her, he doesn’t voluntary want to, but he’s energy’s pulling him to her. Anyone’s energy’s once been pulled to hers. He cannot fall asleep without thinking about her – she’s too much of an enigma for him. He does not love her in that way, he does not like her, he does nothing towards her – but it seems so uncontrollably thinking about her and talking to himself about her. She’s been up to catching his attention – she’s been up to take care of him, she’s been up to anything, she’s like possible to do everything and no one might know what she’s up to now. “And I know I’ll meet her again tomorrow, and I know I’ll only discover she’s much more of an enigma than today; but I cannot stand back, although I wish to – is too much of a self-destruction, but it’s only impossible to stay away. Stay away!”

[“She’s too much of a something” ©allebsart, September 2014]

Keith was, indeed, mesmerized by her presence around, but her presence wasn’t meant to be there forever and she was leaving and coming back again, never letting him know if she even feels the same. If he could only have a guess. But she left, his mind broke apart thinking that the only person who was sharing the same mind-set as he was, the same thinking, the same sanity or insanity, Keith was about to let his hope that it’s been true having her there with all her mysteries go, but then it was him who gave up trying to let go when he saw her writing what he was, when he felt her there, miles apart, still present, and his control over his mind was left. Fascinated, pouring too much sweet coffee each two hours, smoking in his cold room, Keith was trying to focus on those words: “Immature, evolved, technologized, instable, diverse, and confused”, and he put them different definitions to give flow:

  • Immature: having the feeling that there is no one out there to resemble with at least 60%. You grow up when you know that there’s a chance of 100% for someone resembling to you even if you will never know the person.
  • Evolved: knowing that your merge between your principles, ethics, and moral acting cannot be incorrect or correct, but accepted by a certain group or not, and that there is surely someone who maybe even hides how like you they think because they are terrified.
  • Technologized: having all the possibilities to communicate even miles or worlds apart still being aware that there are forces which actually connect to real human beings (or more, ok, two or more, but I’d keep it with ‘two’); there’s the magic of having found That One. Not ‘The One’, as they all say, but That One who is not necessarily ‘The One’, although you wish she would be.
  • Instable: Having in front of your eyes the person who with you share half of your soul and still think it’s not right to feel something and thinking that the feelings which are ‘automatically’ generated by the atmosphere make you not only week, but aren’t right to be.
  • Diverse: we all have different ‘lines’ of view, most of us keep having just a point of view.
  • Confused: *see instable*

Keith closed his eyes; for the very first time he wasn’t alone in the pure darkness of his thoughts, there was another mind by his side.

1: term used to define a system where the people are reimbursed for their merits and not their social class, or social background.

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The Sake of The Master

For the sake of her mind she tried to not look. But she did stare, it’s true, she wasn’t looking at all. She starred to the thunder which hit her to burning alive! She was, oh, she was so much more alive than she ever was. She’s been playing with the fire of Hell, she was mastering them all, she’s been never confused by any flame, all the fire was her own slave and each flame was felt by her inside her body, inside her mind, her hands leading those all flames to the storm. And oh, the storm, the storm she was always scared of, she’s been the master of them all, indeed, never did she ever felt so real. And she was winning this battle again, oh, the bettle between her and The Hell. And the  burning fire of the storm, the lightning rain, the heavy desert of them all –

And she’s been praying, praying in her way, for her mind to never fall asleep, for her mind to never stop the beat. But she’s been doing this over and over again, until she found The Real Hell. And the real fire that she found, oh, she now knows there’s so much more than she ever knew. And she’s up to playing again, again, and over again, never ending; she is learning to play with The Fire of The Real Hell. And the Real Flames, and The Real Terror, The Real Thunder, The Horror. For the sake of her mind, she wished she could stop – but she once felt her thunder, and she won’t let it go – it’s been her: the master of them all.

And the future, oh, the future burning burning life.

THUNDER!

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Neuroscience, article of 2013

Click on the link below, and the .docx will start downloading.

The real neuroscience of creativity 

 

The Real Neuroscience of Creativity | Beautiful Minds, Scientific American Blog Network

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