Thursday, December 29, 2022

Align with a Lion


Art by Peter Pharoah
“If we were to interpret the lives of animals with a human eye, we would conclude that they are in flow most of the time because their perception of what has to be done generally coincides with what they are prepared to do,” observed Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

“When a lion feels hungry, it will start grumbling and looking for prey until its hunger is satisfied; afterward it lies down to bask in the sun, dreaming the dreams lions dream. There is no reason to believe that it suffers from unfulfilled ambition, or that it is overwhelmed by pressing responsibilities.  Animals’ skills are always matched to concrete demands because their minds, such as they are, only contain information about what is actually present in the environment in relation to their bodily states, as determined by instinct. So a hungry lion only perceives what will help it to find a gazelle, while a sated lion concentrates fully on the warmth of the sun. Its mind does not weigh possibilities unavailable at the moment; it neither imagines pleasant alternatives nor it is disturbed by fear of failure.

“Animals suffer just as we do when their biologically programmed goals are frustrated. They feel the pangs of hunger, pain and unsatisfied sexual urges. Dogs bred to be friends to man grow distraught when left alone by their masters. But animals other than man are not in a position to be the cause of their own suffering; they are not evolved enough to be able to feel confusion and despair even after all their needs are satisfied. 

“When free of externally induced conflicts, they are in harmony with themselves and experience the seamless concentration that in people we call flow.”

The Four Colors of Liberation

Umberto Eco on being a 13-year-old in Italy in 1945: "A few days later I saw the first American soldiers. They were African Americans. The first Yankee I met was a black man, Joseph, who introduced me to the marvels of Dick Tracy and Li’l Abner. His comic books were brightly colored and smelled good."

Monday, December 26, 2022

In the Still of the Night


Chatter? Clatter? No.

I draw my strength from silence,

From the clock’s faint tick.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Inner Harmony, Not Outer Control

“It is important to do as much as we can to prevent nuclear war, to abolish social injustice, to eradicate hunger and disease,” wrote psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “But it is prudent not to expect that efforts to change external conditions will immediately improve the quality of our lives. As J.S. Mill wrote, ‘No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes places in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.’

“How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depend directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experience.”

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Dreams of Courage and Daring

It always amazes that some people seem to think that good works can somehow magically appear in a corrupt world without idealism and dreams of courage and daring. My other blog, Great Caesar's Ghost, uses superheroes as a lens to view cultural history. You can browse it here.

Fascism's Right There in Front of You

Henry Giroux: “Fascist politics saturate U.S. society. Ultra-nationalism, the calls for racial purity, voter suppression, hyper-militarism, required loyalty oaths from higher education faculty, rampant censorship, a ubiquitous anti-intellectualism, and a full-fledged attack on social provisions and public goods make clear that democracy is in crisis. Yet, in too many cases, the larger significance of these incendiary calamities is missed because they are treated as separate from each other.”

A Green Umbrella

Snow dusts sidewalks 

lightly, everywhere except 

under evergreens.