Smart Imposter Syndrome

I have a friend. Let’s call her A.

A is an exceptional person; a philosophy graduate and young PhD candidate, a Fulbright scholar, a small business owner and a gifted writer and thinker. She read Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philisophicus, for fun.

Objectively speaking, most would agree that A makes a strong case for being considered intelligent. It’s a trait-claim backed both by anecdote and evidence of achievement, with the only subjectivity being in the degree

But, whenever she enters a room full of people, especially smart people, she feels like an intellectual imposter. Some sort of fraud about to be found out at any moment. So she tends to observe much more than she speaks, and in many cases may even experience a repressive duality, seen by others as only being a half-version of herself, compounding the complex further through measured responses significantly less detailed than her thinking.

A has a subtype of what is commonly known as Imposter Syndrome. Specific to smarts, but also tied loosely to her own version of success.

On Louie CK. Louie grew up in a working class family, moving from Washington to Mexico City, to eventually settle down in suburban Boston when he was 7. His father left a few years later and he and his three older sisters were raised by his mother, Mary, who was a computer software engineer. He’s now considered one of the most popular and respected comedians in history, but for several years after gaining notoriety he suffered what he refers to as “poor person anxiety”; the more money he earned, the more he felt like he was going to screw up and lose it all, or worse, that it wasn’t even real to begin with.

Naturally, the first time he had more than $100,000 in the bank, he was petrified. So much so that he withdrew the entire sum in cash and piled it up in his apartment, in small denominations, just so he could believe that it belonged to him. He needed to see it in physical form to accept that it wasn’t an abstract fantasy, as had been the case for all previous thoughts he’d had about wealth. It lasted a year. Louie is now worth about 15 million dollars, and he uses an ATM card.

I have another friend. Let’s call him B.

B is an exceptional person; a legal academic with degrees in philosophy and law, who scored top marks at Australia’s leading law school and received a scholarship to study at Oxford. Throughout high school he consistently aced his classes, especially mathematics, music and creative writing, and he wrote regionally award-winning stage plays based around philosophical speculations and logical paradoxes. He’s always had a reputation for being smart and academic and humble, and yet, he rarely talks about intelligence (he thinks it’s weird I find geniuses so interesting).

B, like A, also makes a strong case for being considered intelligent. B is aware of this, just as A is in her own case, and yet B doesn’t feel any self-doubt (or conversely, any arrogance), in any sense, irrespective of the setting. He just feels, as it can only be described, normal.

On Terence Tao. Tao has a reputation as the most talented living mathematician in the world. He was able to multiply 4 digit numbers by 4 digit numbers in his head when he was just four years old, he has a Fields Medal (the math equivalent of a Noble prize), a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant, and he’s known by fellow mathematicians as the ‘Mozart of Math’. Basically, he’s a Good Will Hunting-level genius. The curious thing about Tao, though, is that when colleagues discuss his abilities and achievements in interviews, they almost always give equal attention to his personality, and most notably, how much humility he has. In spite of how supremely intelligent he his, he seems totally unimposing. Students find him endlessly helpful and humble and friendly, and if physical demeanour and body language are anything to add, he seems like one of the nicest people you could possibly meet.

On being a human. From what I can tell, there seems to be two primary operating systems available in our heads: the system of self, governed by the superego, and the system of purpose, governed by logic and intention. Things are more complex than that, obviously, but for the sake of understanding something like Imposter Syndrome, broad definitions can be useful.

Function-wise the two systems differ as much as an Xbox and a Macbook; two entirely separate outlooks, operated alternately, by the same user. The user, in this case, representing our consciousness of the present moment: an attention spread outward from the middle of our mind, that becomes awareness.

The difference is due to their differing priorities. In the system of self, for example, an increased value is placed on questions such as ‘Who am I?’ / ‘How am I perceived by other people?’ / ‘How tasty is this taco going to be?’ And then answers to those questions: ‘I am a smart person’ / ‘Other people see me as smart’ / ‘This taco tastes goddamn amazing.

Operating according to purpose, on the other hand, places attention in a mostly external context, with things being more MO-based: ‘What’s the best way to speak to this person so they feel valued and welcome?’ / ‘How can this thing be done more effectively?’ / ‘A letter to the editor on that climate change piece needs to be written’ / ‘Tacos for everyone, fuck yeah!’.

A purpose-based outlook is still concerned with who we are, only much more objectively. My friend B and Terence Tao (particularly Tao) are good examples of purpose-based thinking. Consider this question: How is it possible that the smartest mathematician on the planet lacks any intimidation or sense of entitlement, and in fact emboldens the confidence of the people he speaks to? There can only be two possibilities: 1) He’s projecting false modesty, controlling an impulse for the sake of having a good social perception; 2) He genuinely doesn’t think about being smart. Looking into Tao’s development and upbringing, it’s quite clearly the latter.

So, how is it possible to have a trait as profound as unparalleled intelligence, and not think about it?

The answer, I think, is in the verb difference between what we know to be true and what we are thinking to be true. Imagine your mind as a house with a storage space: A piece of knowledge is like a constructed ornament; once the materials of an idea form into the completed structure, a personally-known and evidence-based truth, it can be placed in your mind’s storage, ready for viewing or dissemination whenever necessary (if Tao were asked about his intelligence in an interview, for example).

The distinction between the experience of friend A and someone like Terence Tao, is that Tao places an awareness of himself in a compartment he places no priority or focus on; A, on the other hand, navigates her house while still carrying her smartness ornament with her.

In terms of the house analogy, Imposter Syndrome is the inherent and precarious fragility of an ornament being carried—a rejection of the idea means it can be easily dropped and broken. It has nothing to do with an absence of truth.

This is extremely common. Imposter Syndrome usually applies to success, but can equally target someone’s sense of attractiveness, their religious beliefs, even a feeling of likability. Smartness is a much envied and defining trait to have, so it’s no surprise that people with talented intellects find themselves more aware of their intelligence than others; consider the kind of feedback they receive from a young age and how that plays into their sense of self-worth as they mature. Unless constructively counterbalanced or locked into a focus-zone from an experience (such as that related to love or trauma), the maturing mind can’t help but think about the traits it knows about itself, especially those that become structural to its sense of self-value.

Thinking of ourselves as smart leaves us particularly open to vulnerability, especially for introverts. Consider these two forms of self-focus: ‘I am smart’ versus ‘I am muscular’. A conviction of physical muscularity finds supporting evidence in the mirror; it’s easy to match the belief with reality. Perhaps even more importantly, though, is that it provides a clear sense of a person’s relative stance in the population. A bodybuilder knows exactly how muscular the biggest lifters in the world are, and exactly how much smaller than them he is. He may walk around like a gorilla while wearing a singlet in the middle of winter, but it’s easy for him to be realistic—he’d never consider himself alongside the biggest.

Unlike traits such as physicality and attractiveness, smartness is pragmatically abstract. It sits in a cloud somewhere governing our weather, and in spite of all the tests available, everyone knows that it’s impossible to really measure properly. It’s something inside that other people sometimes notice if it’s visible enough, but to the smart person it becomes salient; felt and examined in every solved problem and witty one-liner and analytical deduction being made. It follows that the smarter someone is, the greater the regularity of internal validation they receive, the more compounded the condition becomes.

Smart Imposter Syndrome can also be justified. It’s entirely possible—and common—for people to have inflated views of their own intelligence. If we hold a false belief of ourselves that isn’t reflected externally, the balance of the conviction hinges mostly on our own assumption; an idea rather than a reality. Any conviction that balances on internal thinking alone, no matter how convincing it is, is a tenuous one. The superego then overcompensates by ramping up awareness and exaggerating any example that it finds.

The smart introvert, therefore, has a very unique challenge on their hands. Not only are they naturally inhibited from demonstrating enough of their intelligence to gain a confident perspective of themselves, but they are also smart enough to intuit relative truths without much real world application. They know they’re smart, they just have a hard time being confident about it. It’s the reason intelligent people with Imposter Syndrome tend to feel increasingly normal as they mature—real-world evidence accumulates through their living experience.

Someone genuinely smart can also overestimate themselves though. Similar to the flat-out delusional, you have to put yourself out there. The less we say out loud, the more we rely on information learnt within an unchallenged context, the smarter we will appear to ourselves.

How to fix it. The quickest way to feel more comfortable with externalising smart thinking publicly, is to change your operating system. Studying cognitive control and meditation and emotional intelligence, and learning how to shift an awareness away from personal traits to purely pragmatic activities. Being confident the ornament has been built and placing it safely in storage. Out of sight, out of mind, as it were.

It’s self-hypnosis. Engaging your higher mind to examine your thoughts, and being vigilant to any thinking centred around your intelligence. Becoming attuned to even the slightest glance at how smart you are and immediately looking in a different direction; keeping in mind that noticing how smart you are is actually counter-productive. Think about it: if you notice how well you’re writing something or analysing a situation, your mental resources are divided; your focus fractioned to 80% on the task at hand, 20% on ‘What a genius I am!’ And the potential for reaching a zone of super focus—the kind where you can smash out 1,200 essay words in an hour—all but eradicated.

Smartness may be enviable but it’s an incredibly stigmatic thing to talk about, and lacking self-confidence can be a legitimate problem for many people. Society is built by effective individuals working together, and by its nature the smartness trait enables a person to determine how effective in society they can potentially be. This creates pressure, then disappointment. They set an extremely high standard for themselves that they’re unlikely to meet without the benefit of experience. So they become tentative, never fully opening up, only expressing enough to sustain a half-baked belief in themselves.

Salient as smartness may be in the mind, there’s one thing that truly overwhelms any attention to it: a curiosity in something bigger than yourself, and the passion that comes from its inquiry. Back in 2007, Terence Tao posted an answer to a question on his blog, titled: Does one have to be a genius to do maths?

His response:

The answer is an emphatic NO. In order to make good and useful contributions to mathematics, one does need to work hard, learn one’s field well, learn other fields and tools, ask questions, talk to other mathematicians, and think about the “big picture”. And yes, a reasonable amount of intelligence, patience, and maturity is also required. But one does not need some sort of magic “genius gene” that spontaneously generates ex nihilo deep insights, unexpected solutions to problems, or other supernatural abilities.

The popular image of the lone (and possibly slightly mad) genius – who ignores the literature and other conventional wisdom and manages by some inexplicable inspiration (enhanced, perhaps, with a liberal dash of suffering) to come up with a breathtakingly original solution to a problem that confounded all the experts – is a charming and romantic image, but also a wildly inaccurate one, at least in the world of modern mathematics. We do have spectacular, deep and remarkable results and insights in this subject, of course, but they are the hard-won and cumulative achievement of years, decades, or even centuries of steady work and progress of many good and great mathematicians; the advance from one stage of understanding to the next can be highly non-trivial, and sometimes rather unexpected, but still builds upon the foundation of earlier work rather than starting totally anew…

Read the full post here

Tao’s language here is on fire, and a perfect example of a purpose-orientated mindset—he’s engaged with a reality infinitely more fulfilling than the idea of his own prowess. For Tao, and for every other talented yet normal-feeling individual, being smart is just the same as being able to walk, being able to eat, and being able to laugh; all enviable traits if they’re lacking, but when it comes to standard, the reality is, they don’t matter. Outside of effectiveness and attraction, they’re not supposed to; intelligence is just a proxy to thinking. The only thing that matters in the case of thinking, in the context of human value, is what we do with it.

My First Car

Milestones and growth-steps are significant in a person’s life. From first birthdays to removing our bike’s training wheels, to our first kiss: our passage of time is punctuated by first-time events. We retain very little of our moment-to-moment experience in life, but first-time things tend to be raised like bookmarks in the files of our memory bank.

Few any more so than our first vehicle. It signifies a major step towards adulthood, granting someone their first major life responsibility: commanding a huge chunk of metal and circuitry that weighs as much as a couple dozen people, that can move with enough force and velocity to destroy anything in its path, as well as anyone driving it. They kill more than 1.3 million people a year and at least 30 have died since I started this post. Yet when we get our first car and take it for our first solo spin, the sense of mastering this responsibility and the freedom that comes with it can be intoxicatingly novel (ergo the multitudes of new licensees driving around for no other reason than to drive around).

I’m no exception to this, and through a bit of chance, a bit of serendipity, I’ve been lucky to find myself reunited with my very first love; the ultimate 4WD beast, the master of off-road all-terrain traversing, the ladies magnet above all other ladies magnets. Behold, the mighty Metro Jet Bandit:

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With an unparalleled traction and power-to-weight ratio, it handles sand and uneven stony surfaces with ease:

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…and looks at home on any surface:

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With a 5 L V8 twin-charged 1,156bhp engine, hitting a jump at speed can turn it into an aeronautic marvel:

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No need for driveway parking anxiety; Metro’s design team ensured the Jet Bandit fits easily within most car parking spaces:

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Metro Jet Bandit: Feel the Thunder

Film Review: ‘Everest’ (2015)

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Directed by Balthasar Kormákur
Starring: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Kiera Knightly, Emily Watson

Deep sunset hues and obliquely shaded surfaces and smooth, personal segues between characters with an authentically 90s aesthetic: the opening Airport scene of Everest heralds an uncommon realism for a star-studded disaster film. Shot mostly on location and guided by the meta-talented Balthasar Kormákur, the film serves as an unwitting example of a failure to capitalise on tonal perfection.

From his opening frame Jason Clarke smoothly glides into the skin of Rob Hall, the prolifically game mountaineer who managed 5 ascents to Everest’s 8,848m summit before his 36th birthday, which as the film emphasises, was never seen. As it did in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Clarke’s talent for integrity-driven authority forms the film’s central fuselage, and for most of the 121 minute running-time presents so much narrative gravity that even the most dominating members of the ensemble (Brolin, Gyllenhaal) are reduced to orbits. Knowing the outcome of a true-to-life tragedy such as this, the focus on Hall’s character is clear indication of Kormákur’s desire to drive the emotions of his audience. He seems enchanted by the romanticism of the hero—characters so likeable and leader-like and lucid that one can’t help but admire them. Was Rob Hall really that charismatic? Maybe. I’d certainly like to think so. But in this Hollywood incarnation his charisma is being used mechanically for a less-than-honourable objective: to manipulate us into a false sense of narrative security, to the benefit of an emotionally-charged conclusion.

This isn’t an event film; it’s a parable-like melodrama. Consider United 93, Paul Greengrass’s masterly chronicle of the only failed terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001, that killed all 44 people on board United Airlines Flight 93. A new bench-mark for dramatisation, he chose no-name actors and impartial attention to detail as vessels for emotional impact: the tragedy spoke for itself.

The problem with Everest isn’t just in the dichotomy between Clarke’s manipulative on-screen persona and Rob Hall’s actual fate (real-life heroes are exactly the kind of thing that brings people to theatres after all). The problem is that the real events of the 1996 disaster involved many heroes, and Kormákur only focuses on them when it serves to make the audience more emotional. Backed into a corner by Clarke’s dominating screen-presence and the pandering focus on him, Hall’s death causes the film to take a clunky shift in character focus, and ultimately reduces the finale to a fragmented mess.

There’s a lot of good here though. Aerial landscape shots of the mountain are spectacular, and some of the acting—especially Emily Watson and Kiera Knightley’s—is strikingly genuine and realistic. It’s a case of missed opportunity born of Hollywood ego. Rob Hall’s fate and that of his 7 courageous accomplices scream for artful restraint vis a vis Kevin Macdonald’s Touching the Void. Just like the attacks on September 11, their story speaks for itself.

** 1/2 / *****

Facebook: Blurring Friendship Lines?

Facebook cops a lot of flack in the blogosphere. It’s an easy target, heavily influencing social interactions while giving users the opportunity for optimal self-representation among their peer group. Things rarely sound so Orwellian. It’s been vaguely linked to issues of envy, obsessiveness, narcissism, social angst, insomnia and addiction, and yet with 1.5 billion users and little evidence of a broad problem, the pandemic seems to be a fairly benign one.

There has been an undoubtable cultural shift around socialising in the past 10 years, something discernible to anyone living through the 90s and 00s, but I don’t buy the idea Facebook’s the only party to blame (or thank). It could be just as related to smartphones and the internet/media cross-pollination and the advent of Psy; cultural change is as certain as winter and as multi-faceted as a mosaic. There’s too much happening in the world to pin change down to any one thing.

The phrase “change is inevitable” is perhaps one of the most over-used platitudes on the planet (hence my shameless rewording of it above), but the vast majority of us don’t pay it more than a passing thought. When it actually happens, many of us lose our shit—most of all when it pertains to human behaviour.

The change around friend associations is an interesting one. Unlike the broader shift towards the instantaneous and constantly connected, which can be tied to public WiFi as much as Snapchat, it’s a specific symptom of Facebook. You know the drill: you can connect with anyone you want, then categorise them into friends, close friends, restricted, or acquaintances. Helps to keep things private and as close-to-life as possible while still maintaining some form of friendly connection. But is this level of Facebook sophistication always mutual? Can Facebook make passing associations seem more meaningful than they are?

I’ve worked in call-centre environments with hundreds of people (literally) who I’ve come to know by name, and many of them have become FB friendly. For a large part I wouldn’t even call them acquaintances—they’re nice folk who I worked around for a while. I may have barely interacted with them aside from working matters, or barely at all. Yet there’s this ongoing sense of them being there. Being a vague part of whatever aspect of my life I’m inclined to share.

Is this a problem? Generally, no; unless you’re a cantankerous people-hating hermit, networking with more and more individuals in a controlled manner has the potential to open up opportunity and experience in ways we’ve never had before. In those terms, I think it’s excellent. On the other hand though, it has the potential to create degrees of false intimacy.

There was a story on the radio the other day about a girl (let’s call her Lucy) who met another girl (Jane) through some mutual friends at a party, who then swapped last names to do the FB thing. They hit it off pretty well in person (as pals, cool your jets) but only interacted for a few hours. Typical situation these days. Within a week, Lucy started to share memes and articles on Jane’s wall, routinely, every several days. It wasn’t reciprocated beyond the polite acknowledgement of the ‘like’ button, and Jane began feeling uneasy. She didn’t know Lucy at all beyond having the first friendly conversation, and yet here Lucy was assuming a connection strong enough to be an ongoing presence in Jane’s consciousness.

Lucy’s behaviour may seem a product of a kooky personality, but to me she’s just representative of a shift in social etiquette (albeit a very earnest one). When Facebook is both the primary social domain and the most passive and easy form of multi-media sharing available, of course there’s a greater propensity for interaction without much foundation. It’s nearly half a generation old already, and as it becomes more intrinsic to our society—more normal to us—over time, the barriers of casual intimacy may become radically different to what they have been in the past.

I’d like to think that irrespective of human invention, human drivers remain relatively unchanged. Invention isn’t a deviation from humanity after all; it’s just an exponent and enhancement of it. All Facebook’s really doing, as far as I can tell, is changing the social throttle. It’s a tool, and as with all tools, there will be tools that abuse it.

Today’s unfocused blog was written by guest contributor, Mark Zuckerberg.

Idealising & Procrastination (Quora)

Quora question asked by Anonymous: Why don’t I make the right thing, even if I know what to do in order to become the person I want to be?

“I know I have to study and work hard in order to be a successful person. Still, I procrastinate. Another example: I’m reading a beautiful book, Wittgenstein’s Lectures. It’s one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year. Still I keep on playing video games. How can I overcome this self-destructing process?”

I think this is a fairly common, certainly something I’ve experienced at times in my own life, so thought I’d post my response here as well:

Mental stimulation of any kind has a relationship with the reward system in the brain—where dopamine and other pleasure-associated chemicals are produced. The reward system exists to reinforce healthy and productive human behaviour by (basically) creating a pleasurable association with it. This association is built in part by the perceived reward of the behaviour in the mind, and in part by the chemical interaction in the brain.

Having an inbuilt reinforcement system is crucial because it structures human behaviour around social requirements, tying people to whatever role they’re suited to by literally making it feel better than doing something else. Only thing is, the reward system wasn’t evolved for modern society; it was evolved to suit the environment of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, which were a helluva lot more manual in nature than our own. Healthy and rewarding behaviour in a small tribe would be much easier to perceive than it is today—nutrition, ritual, shelter and security were clearly defined requirements with simple roles needed to maintain them.

Compared to our ancestors, modern society is covered by a thick layer of luxury, entertainment, technology, systems and automation. There’s a negative correlation between advances in technology and human requirement, and human requirement is directly tied to our sense of social value—something key when it comes to making conscious choices about what we do with ourselves. You may enjoy doing a particular task, but chances are, there’s very little social imperative that you complete it. Many gifted people (and narcissists) feel they have talent they are responsible for developing and disseminating into the world, but most of us, deep down, know our value is self-propelled. Which is fine by the way; it means we have infinitely greater choice with our lives than ever before.

The lessening human requirement means an increased need for human distraction, which has been increasingly provided by things like  entertainment, socialising and personal indulgence. These are all pleasure-riddled arenas that directly target the reward system, causing strong positive associations with activities that were really just intended to fill our existential void. In your situation I believe this may be playing a foundational role; atop this is plain-old idealism.

Rewarding behaviour doesn’t just exist in the physical world; mental simulation can be equally as strong, especially if we haven’t bonded with productive external activities thanks to having an Xbox. We can be as entertained and lazy as we like but the vast majority of us will still have positive and socially beneficial interests, so no matter how immobile we become, our minds still need to satisfy urges to accomplish meaningful goals. The reward system is finite—it can only go so far—so if there’s already been a huge allocation given to marijuana or World of Warcraft, you’re much more likely to relegate the ambition to an idealistic fantasy, simulating the journey of development and success in your head. This then becomes a habit pattern itself, which is where I believe you may find yourself based on your circumstance.

I’ve been there too, and it’s theoretically very easy to overcome. Mindfulness, discipline, support and routine are all crucial to becoming more behaviourally aligned with your ambitions, and these are all very developable.

Best of luck :-)

Learned Helplessness and a reply from Steven Pinker

I sent Steven Pinker some fan mail not long ago, and Great Scotts, he actually replied. I’d been reading How the Mind Works and the compulsion hit me: I had to email him to explain the benefit I was getting. I figured, so what if he gets hundreds of letters and emails; he’s still a human being who would surely appreciate knowing he’s helped someone. Turns out he did, and the below reply came within 24 hours. To put it in perspective, the guy’s one of the world’s leading public intellectuals and I’m a huge fan of his, so it may as well have come from Elvis.

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The reason I’m posting it here, is that it broke through a thick ceiling of learned helplessness in my life — a pop-psychological term that’s gained a lot of social traction over the past year or so. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s explained pretty well in this video:

My background is several dimensions away from the likes of the Ivy league elite and the sophistication of The New Yorker, to the point it’s all seemed fantastical and otherworldly. As it turns out, we happen to inhabit the same planet, and there’s nothing separating our worlds but geography and a mouse-click.

This isn’t at all about talent; it’s about perception. Lower socio-economic backgrounds can be an incubator for self-doubt; marginalising personal goals and imposing intimidatingly high walls of uncertainty throughout our social landscape. Many people don’t experience this, but to varying degrees, billions do. Statistically speaking there must be millions of talented people who never achieve their most suitable social role for that reason; causing society’s leadership to be somewhat nepotistic in appearance. But it doesn’t need to be.

The only thing preventing any of us from achieving our potential level of success and communal value, is our mindset. The unchecked attitude of a poor-man corrodes talent like pissing on a growing rose bush: it may mature in size, but it’ll end up deformed and flowerless. (Don’t ask how I know that).

I’m obviously no-where near as talented as Steven Pinker (or anyone close to the same oxygen supply as him), but until this year I didn’t even think I was talented enough for university. I’d already made the connection before receiving his gracious reply, but let me tell you, it’s been a boost I never expected; giving me the confidence to seek-out mentorship and advice in places I’d never have considered otherwise.

If you’re an aspiring filmmaker or writer or computer programmer—an aspiring anything—why not engage with the best? Reaching for the stars doesn’t require a skyrocket, it just needs an email address.

Wittgenstein on death

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Thoughts: death has a dictatorial relationship with the vast majority of us, affecting our lives with imposing finality, causing us to construct meaning and superstition in our existence relative to its ending. The fear of the eternity of non-existence has shaped the beliefs and cultures of the living, yet if we understand non-existence to be timeless, then the fear of being forever non-existent quickly evaporates. So long as we are consciously alive, our sense of being alive is never ending; fearing something we can’t sense, makes no sense.

Source: The Tractatus Logico-Philisophicus, 6.4311

Classic film review: ‘The Thin Red Line’ (1998)

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“What’s this war in the heart of nature? The land contend with the sea? Is there an avenging power in nature? Not one power…but two?”

Homer-esque musings of an unseen soldier begin Terrence Malick’s masterly cinematic foray into war in The Thin Red Line, loosely adapted from James Jones’ novel of the same name, with weighted resonance against a backdrop of the Guadalcanal jungle. Continue reading “Classic film review: ‘The Thin Red Line’ (1998)”