Re: virus: levels only two

Sun, 11 Apr 1999 20:50:04 -0700

Tim Rhodes wrote:

> Now, can you show me the 999,999 out of every million seven year-olds that
> you are claiming are in a state of existental crisis because their lives
> lack meaning?

I don't believe that many 7-year-olds are in a state of existential crisis. I don't think many of them have the psychological sophistication to be in such a state. They're still getting oriented at that age.

> How long has it been since you played with a kid, anyway?

November of '98.

> You really seem to be investing a lot in refuting this idea, KMO--that the
> state you're chasing so hard after may have once been something that came
> effortlessly to you. Tell me, are you getting a good return on that
> investment?

Well, I was procrastinating that day, and the strip that I was supposed to be drawing on Friday is still only half done, so I guess I got a pretty good return on my procrastination efforts.

> What's it protecting you from anyway?

What's what protecting me from? The idea that, while there may be similarities between the style of thinking employed by a child and that of an adult who recognizes the pitfalls of being ruled by a belief system and takes steps in the direction of slipping out of the BS (belief system) restraints, it is still useful to be able to distinguish between these similar mental/developmental stages? Is that the "it" of your question?

By phrasing the question in such a way as to paint my efforts here as a compensatory effort for some insecurity or phobia, you're hoping to achieve what?

I have insecurities. I have an agenda. I have a whole bunch of unresolved emotional bullshit, but so what? Intellectual honesty and list courtesy, it seems to me, would direct each of us to respond to the arguments presented rather than belittle them with innuendo and allusion to unspecified psychological dis-ease on the part of the presenter.

Do ask me what I'm hoping to achieve with my efforts. It's quite possible that my approach does not serve my ends, and if you manage to instruct me in a more effective approach, I will be grateful, but leave my mother out of it. ;) <--- note the emoticon.

As I understand Jim's claim, he's asserting that the mental state of an adult who has come to recognize the value of not letting any particular belief system interfere with their quality of life is no different from the mental state of a seven year old who has yet to fully settle into her L2 BS. That seems unlikely to me. When following a spiral path, we will sight familiar landmarks, but that doesn't mean we aren't in new territory.

It seems that adults have a very different notion of time, and people who serve the proximal master of the next urgent task think differently than people who have a purpose or the phaith that lets them operate according to a more long-range vision.


"The mind projects its joys and woes so powerfully onto the face of time that changes in mood can all but create new temporal worlds. The negative or painful emotions -- guilt, anger, envy, greed, etc. -- foster a sense of isolation in the present or fixation on some aspect of the past or future. The sunny emotions -- admiration, generosity, love, courage, etc. -- foster a sense of continuity, of time extended and shared. Calm people swim freely into the future and speak of it as if it were part of them. But those who are hopeless for reasons of age or grief or illness barely use the future tense at all; and for frightened people the future can shrink to almost nothing, can seem like the rippled surface of water between them and some menacing promontory. Opportunists live in a tiny glimmer of the present, intent like small predators on the next morsel or trap. Win or lose, time is for them is a straitened and barren dimension. But for happy people, at the opposite extreme, the present is so voluminous, so inclusive of the full self and so indivisibly coherent with past and future, that time in the usual sense does not pass for them at all. They are at one with the dynamics of nature: time's motion is implicit in their own.

-Robert Grudin, "Time and the Art of Living"