to be enjoyed, not endured
Emotional wellbeing is: in the present, real, comfortable, moral, self aware, aware of others, flexible but true, playful and alive.

From Oliver James:

Emotional health is the sense that what is happening, is happening now. It is experiencing the world as first-hand, immediate, rather than only knowing what was experienced when you reflect upon it later. You are, as the sports commentators put it, ‘in the zone’.

You feel real rather than false. You are comfortable in your skin: you do not wish you could be someone else, nor do you look down on others for not being like you. You know what you are thinking and feeling, even if sometimes that only means knowing that you don’t know.

You have your own consistent ethical code which enables you to distinguish right from wrong. You are stoical in the face of adversity, realistic in your ideas and often seem to be wise in your judgements.

You have the capacity for insight into your own actions. You can sometimes spot in advance when you are about to make a mistake and avoid it, or can see when you are reacting irrationally to a situation and correct yourself – so having crashed the car, you do not do it again; you can notice that the lights have changed or a wall is approaching, and turn the steering wheel. This gives you that nectar of the soul, the capacity for choice, and therefore, for change. Such self-awareness is what sets us apart from other animals.

Continue reading


cruel optimism
April 19, 2014, 10:26 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

We are told we need hope when there is none. Hope is the lingua franca in a society in which the relationship between work and the expected dividends of that work are broken – when you work your ass off and get nowhere. Hope is turned into a virtue and an issue of personal responsibility. Thereby, no efforts are expended to make the system any better and you alone are responsible for your relative successes and failures.

Cruel optimism says ‘you must believe in a brighter future,’ as it erects insurmountable obstacles to finding that success.

From an essay by Jo Littler:

According to Cameron’s stated worldview, the ability to ‘believe in yourself ’, and by extension, your child, is primary. This is a discourse which vests not only power but also moral virtue in the very act of hope, in the mental and emotional capacity to believe and aspire. Hope and promise become more integral in an unequal society in which hard work alone has less and less chance of reaping the prizes. Through this rhetorical mechanism, instead of addressing social inequality as a solvable problem, the act of addressing inequality becomes ‘responsibilised’ as an individual’s moral meritocratic task. This process devolves onto the individual personal responsibility not just for their success in the meritocratic competition, but for the very will to compete and expectation of victory which are now figured as moral imperatives in themselves. Not investing in aspiration, in expectation, is aggressively positioned as an abdication of responsibility which condemns yourself – and even worse, your child – to the social scrapheap. […]

Here, social disadvantage is only ‘real’ in that it is an obstacle over which pure mental will and aspiration – if they are expressed correctly by being combined with hard work – can triumph. These tropes and discursive elements generate an affective mode which Lauren Berlant aptly identifies as ‘cruel optimism’. This is the affective state produced under neoliberal culture which is cruel because it encourages an optimistic attachment to the idea of a brighter future whilst such attachments are, simultaneously, ‘actively impeded’ by the harsh precarities and instabilities of neoliberalism. If ‘Aspiration Nation’ is related to such ‘cruel optimism’, it also draws on the English trope of ‘having a go’, which involves a sort of non-competitive competitiveness, of being prepared to compete without any expectation of winning, out of a recognition that sporting competition is a mode of social participation; although the difference is that in the Aspiration Nation you can’t just do your best: you have to want to win.

Jo Littler, Meritocracy as Plutocracy, New Formations

from Spurious by Lars Iyer





clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy
April 17, 2014, 9:00 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , ,

Do you ever wonder why you end up in certain roles doing certain tasks in your life at the office? Here’s a strategy the most notorious army in history used to assign roles to their staff. Each person was seen as having two broad personal characteristics, one based on brain power – clever or stupid – and the other on performance – diligent or lazy. Based on your two perceived qualities you were slotted into your role.

That was an army 80 years ago, but I have no doubt that this strategy has – partially or wholesale – ended up in today’s human resource policies in corporations across the globe. Good news if you are clever and lazy – you’ll ascend to the highest ranks.

Frankly though, in my experience, managers are more often clever and diligent or stupid and diligent. We live in the age of the technical and detail obsessed.

Here is a chart:

clever and diligent
stupid and lazy
clever and lazy
stupid and diligent

general staff
routine duties
highest leadership duties
no responsibility, will cause mischief

Here is the description of how German army top brass divided their men:

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 per cent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.

Erich von Manstein top strategists in WWII German Military, or
Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, former Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr

From Why Clever And Lazy People Make The Best Leaders, Farnam Street

to get by or to thrive
April 12, 2014, 2:38 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

There are three kinds of people in a world set up for only two kinds: money people, service people and artistic people in a money and service world. No provisions are made nor needs required for the artistic in this world so if you’re artistic you are in a real limbo. But mere work and mere survival shouldn’t be enough; meaning counts a lot and artists contribute meaning. The choice is ours, to get by or to thrive.

From an article by Garry Gutting:

This talk of “a subject they love” brings us to the real crisis, which is both economic and cultural (or even moral). The point of work should not be just to provide the material goods we need to survive. Since work typically takes the largest part of our time, it should also be an important part of what gives our life meaning. Our economic system works well for those who find meaning in economic competition and the material rewards it brings. To a lesser but still significant extent, our system provides meaningful work in service professions (like health and social work) for those fulfilled by helping people in great need. But for those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.

The Real Humanities Crisis, By GARY GUTTING




Chris Burden Metropolis
April 9, 2014, 1:41 am
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: ,


chris burden metropolis

chris burden metropolis ii

poetry and laughter
April 1, 2014, 3:52 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , ,

Don’t go inside because life, poetry and laughter are in the street. ‘Inside’ is programmed, institutional and professional life. Do go into the pub, the bar, the bistro; these are extensions of the street where beauty and poetry flourish:

One counsel: when you see an open door, newspaper, radio studio, cinema, bank, anything—don’t enter. By the time you’re thirty you’ll be nuts because you left your laugh at the door. That’s my experience. Poetry is in the street. It goes arm in arm with laughter. They take each other along for a drink, at the source, in the neighborhood bistros, where the laugh of the people is so flavorsome and the language that flows from their lips so beautiful.

Blaise Cendars, interviewed

from Spurious by Lars Iyer