Monday, July 5, 2010

Clubbed to Death - Vitamin String Quartet

Recommended by a friend.

Things fall apart

Yeats was a prophet.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

"The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats

Rites of Passage

Probably this explains the immaturity we see all around us - perhaps our rites of passage from childhood are way too weak, of too short a duration, tending more towards fun at times - and therefore the message of dying to childishness, and taking full responsibility for one's life - is just not getting through?

Rites of Passage

“…The so-called rites of passage, which occupy such a prominent place in the life of a primitive society (ceremonials of birth, naming, puberty, marriage, burial, etc.), are distinguished by formal, and usually very severe, exercises of severance, whereby the mind is radically cut away from the attitudes, attachments, and life patterns of the stage being left behind.

Then follows an interval of more or less extended retirement, during which are enacted rituals designed to introduce the life adventurer to the forms and proper feelings of his new estate, so that when, at last, the time has ripened for the return to the normal world, the initiate will be as good as reborn.

Getting stuck in childhood

It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid.

We remain fixated to the unexorcised images of our infancy, and hence disinclined to the necessary passages of our adulthood."

Page 6, 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' by Joseph Campbell

Human Irrationality

"Behavioural economics is a relatively new field, one that draws on aspects of both psychology and economics. It has led me to study everything from our reluctance to save for retirement to our inability to think clearly during sexual arousal. It's not just the behaviour that I have tried to understand, though, but also the decision-making processes behind such behaviour - yours, mine, and everybody else's.

...Within the domain of science, these assumptions about our ability for perfect reasoning have found their way into economics. In economics, this very basic idea, called rationality, provides the foundation for economic theories, predictions, and recommendations.

From this perspective, and to the extent that we all believe in human rationality, we are all economists. I don't mean that each of us can intuitively develop complex game-theoretical models or understand the generalized axiom of revealed preference (GARP); rather, I mean that we hold the basic beliefs about human nature on which economics is built.

In this book, when I mention the rational economic model, I refer to the basic assumption that most economists and many of us hold about human nature - the simple and compelling idea that we are capable of making the right decisions for ourselves.

.....In fact, this book is about human irrationality - about our distance from perfection. I believe that recognizing where we depart from the ideal is an important part of the quest to truly understand ourselves, and one that promises many practical benefits."

Introduction, Page xviii
'Predictably Irrational - The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions' by Dan Ariely

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