Sunday, February 04, 2007

Affluenza

I review Oliver James's Affluenza in The Sunday Times today. On balance, I seem to have been nicer about the book that I should have been. Its major theme is a banality and the two ideas that support it - that nurture is all and nature nothing and that America is the root of all evil - are simply wrong. But I have a nasty feeling that I was influenced by this. It's an article by Peter Wilby trashing, very unpersuasively, my newspaper. But he doesn't exactly trash me. He calls me 'the most cerebral, if gloomy, writer in the industry.' Cerebral? Well, yes, obviously. But gloomy? Moi? I suspect I was thinking about this when I wrote the review and, as a result, gave James an easier ride than he deserved. It's a butterfly in Tokyo effect. Wilby reaches for a word, settles on 'gloomy' and, as a result, James's breakfast is less disturbed than it might have been. I am a speck in the chaotic flux.

15 comments:

  1. According to surveys, more people now declare themselves to be unhappy than used to be the case. But does this really mean that people are less happy, or does it merely indicate that people have become more self-analytical due to pop-psychology such as Mr James's? Perhaps the belief that one is unhappy is itself a virus.

    According to the New Scientist review of Affluenza, there's a high suicide rate in Denmark. That's rather interesting.

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  2. The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.


    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.


    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.



    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.



    FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

    SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.


    To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

    PlanetSave

    EarthNewsWire

    sushil_yadav

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  3. Gloomy? You? Perched on a gravestone with such a sweet smile.

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  4. A mere speck? I can see where Wilby is coming from. Lighten up, man. Of course, it will definitely happen, but at least you will have seen it coming. You're a speculative speck. An ideas speck. Most of us are just job specks. Surely that's something to be cheery about in this confusing world.

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  5. Very interesting from Sushil.
    As a younger more stoned me wrote

    And when you've come to the end of your tether, there's nothing to do but mediate between the last and next moments of action
    And surrender to the silence of unthinking isness.

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  6. Well flux me you speck the truth!

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  7. I don't buy the premise that "a thinking mind cannot feel." C'mon.

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  8. I think I might have to subscribe to that Guardian-media web-site, because you keep linking to it Bryan. I am worried, however, that it will be the thin end of the wedge, and the next I know, Polly Toynbee or George Monbiot will be popping in for a cup of tea, and lecturing me on the welfare state, and the benefits of lentil-powered buses.

    Oh, and mind the gap, Sushil!

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  9. Ok, I've registered with the MediaGuardian website, and read the Peter Wilby article. He claims that The Sunday Times captured the zeitgeist in the 1980s, but "One is never quite sure what the present paper stands for." But surely such ambivalence exactly captures the current zeitgeist? I don't know what Mr Blair, Mr Brown or Mr Cameron stand for.

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  10. Sushil presents these ideas in very stark and dogmatic terms. And ironically, in a very mechanistic way. Presumably, this was intentional, given what is being said, and to ensure that the message gets through to emotional cripples like me. Of course, there is something to this thesis, but it is not that simple at all (what is?) Also, I found the gaps between sentences disconcerting (I was having panic attacks).

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  11. What were you smoking back then, Andrew? Glad you weren't in my gang, I was prone to losing the plot.

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  12. I presume this is meant at a deeper level than simply someone who thinks is cut off from emotion, but that a mind constantly engaged in the verbal world is in a sense running a programme, and the mind that acually produces thought is rendered invisible as there is no space for it to reveal itself. I think an example of such activity is in modern art where rather than a direct visual experience, so much of this garbage(there is no negativity meant when I describe this art as garbage) exists simply to provoke thought, to set one thinking about some fascinating subject or other. Comparatively has Van Gogh any interest in attempting to provoke thought, I wonder.

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  13. Mostly low-grade hashish from low-grade hashish dealers, Neil.

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