Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 31st, 2016

“The Artist’s Way” in an Age of Self-Promotion

The too common term Creativity has no longer any meaning?

Raw With Love

little dark girl with
kind eyes
when it comes time to
use the knife
I won’t flinch and
I won’t blame
as I drive along the shore alone
as the palms wave,
the ugly heavy palms,
as the living does not arrive
as the dead do not leave,
I won’t blame you,
I will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
and I will remember your small room
the feel of you
the light in the window
your records
your books
our morning coffee
our noons our nights
our bodies spilled together
the tiny flowing currents
immediate and forever
your leg my leg
your arm my arm
your smile and the warmth
of you
who made me laugh
little dark girl with kind eyes
you have no
knife. the knife is
mine and I won’t use it

‪#‎OnPoemsByBukowski‬ ‪#‎rawWithLove‬
Note: The posted text deleted the first 14 lines and final 5 lines of Bukowski poem Raw With Love.

If you read the poem in its entirety, I think you’ll see it’s a quite different poem than what it appears to be if you leave out the first and final lines.

Berlin ArtParasites's photo.

Berlin ArtParasites. June 8 at 9:00pm ·

“I will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
and I will remember your small room
the feel of you
the light in the window
your records
your books
our morning coffee
our noons our nights
our bodies spilled together
the tiny flowing currents
immediate and forever
your leg my leg
your arm my arm
your smile and the warmth
of you
who made me laugh
Charles Bukowski

Illustration by Eritrea Studio

Democracy in America?  By Alexis de Tocqueville

A French social scientist observations in the 18th century

Alexis de Tocqueville may be considered the first modern social scientist by the mechanisms he developed to explain political, economical and social phenomena in various political systems.

“Every morning, I find that somebody has just discovered some general and eternal law that I never heard of. General ideas that pack a lot into a small volume”.

“The exaggerated social system based on general causes is a source of consolation for mediocre historians ( and current reporters). It invariably provides them with a few grand explanations, useful for quickly extricate themselves from any difficulties they encounter in their work. And it favors weak and lazy minds to garner a reputation of profundity”. How fitting for current times.

“In the rare centuries of doubt (rational trends dominate), people cling stubbornly to his belief systems. People are Not ready to die for their opinions, but they do Not change them. And you find both fewer martyrs and fewer apostates”

The problem in this period of doubt, certain categories of communities are transforming it into a century of horror stories of faith.

Beware of the tyranny of the majority in “democratic republics”:

“The Master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free Not to think as I do. You may keep your life, properties, retain your civic privileges… but the majority in your community will ostracize you and refuse to esteem you, or to demand your vote. Those who believe in your innocence will steer away from you lest they are shunned in turn”

Isn’t what happens to Whistler blowers? At the doors of Abortion clinics, or gay marriages…? In France they even deny him the citizenship.

Alexis borrowed in Montaigne and Pascal views on ignorance:  “It may be plausibly asserted that there is an infant-school ignorance which precedes knowledge and another doctoral ignorance which comes after it” (Montaigne).

This is the state of education affairs in the Arabic speaking Islamic countries: coranic schools and doctors in fikh and other religious degrees… Ignorance lies at the ends of knowledge

“When an opinion takes hold in a “democratic” nation and establishes itself in a majority of minds, it becomes self-sustaining and can perpetuate itself without effort: Nobody will attack it. No one combat the doomed belief openly. This hollow ghost of public opinion is enough to chill the blood of would-be innovators (in political sphere) and reduces them to respectful silence”

“The American life-style is to take short-cuts by adopting general, all-purpose ideas: They are bombarded with so many individualistic responsibilities that they lack the necessary leisure time to indulge in reflective time-consuming periods”

An observation that was valid 2 centuries ago and worsening. Worse, spreading like wild fire all over the world and in Asia.

“The Americans seldom admit that they give in to selfless altruistic endeavors: They are pleased to explain all their actions in terms of self-interest properly understood. They will obligingly demonstrate how enlightened their behaviors regularly lead them to help out one another and makes them ready and willing to sacrifice a portion of their time and wealth for the good of the State”.

“The norms make a difference and they cannot be switched at will: either your norms are of the “honor kinds” or of the “material interest”

Prisoner’s Dilemma” of two persons involved in the same crime:

1. If you inform on the other, and the other refuses to inform on you, you are set free

2. If both inform on one another, both get 5-year prison term

3. If both refuse to inform, both get a year prison term.

The rationale of this Dilemma is used to explain:

1.The weakness of public institutions: people want strong institutions but refuse to pay the necessary taxes

2. The case of lobbying interest. Ironically, the more the number of lobbies, the more the central power imperceptibly expand, which the lobbies don’t want

3. The more frequent the number of private bankruptcies (risk takers) the more the State/casino win. Thus, the lack of stigma in bankruptcy.

“Politicians have this capacity to manage the creation of ephemeral convictions in accordance with the feelings and interests of the moments: They can, with a tolerable good conscience, do things that are far from honest”

“Individualism is a recent expression, a reflective and tranquil sentiment achieved by creating a small community (modern tribe) for his use. he gladly leaves the larger society to take care of itself”

Americans want the Union, but reduced to a shadow: they want it strong in few case and weak in most case, particularly in period of peace”

Is that why the US government launch frequent pre-emptive wars outside its boundaries?

“The aristocratic families would willingly preserve the democratic habits of the (political system) if only they could reject its social state and laws”

Actually, the elite classes always succeed in circumventing the few laws that theoretically could have been applied to them.

Every morning, I find that somebody has just discovered some general and eternal law that I never heard of. General ideas that pack a lot into a small volume.

Note 1: I read Democracy in America and the Ancient Regime (France before the revolution) in their originals many years ago.  It is striking that the Revolution in France didn’t have to change anything in the administrative structure of the ancient regime.

Note 2: And the “professionals” who are researching details and facts on the ground are rare because Not paid to do these dirty fundamental jobs. What irks me most is that scientific papers fail to extend additional hypotheses and conjectures to what they have researched in order for the rest of us to follow up and demonstrate them

Note 3: Traditions of classes, professions, family and social structure, and religious beliefs… have been initially drawn from observations of human nature and establishing general notions, before the politicians (men of actions) in each sphere of influence in life organized them to self-serve the interests of the elites.

If we seek reforms by bringing up human nature then we are following the wrong direction. What is needed is to develop a belief system based on that all born people have the rights to enjoy equal opportunities to learning, getting training, health and due processes with a fair justice system. This new belief system or petition principle is feasible because in transparent democratic processes people rely on the majority opinion to extend any rational excuses for their attitudes.

Equal practical opportunities circumvent the wrong implication that opinions are reached independently of their surrounding. The effects of community sanctions to deviation attitudes from the belief system can then formalize the equal opportunities rights to everyone.

Adolescent prefrontal cortex brain:

Different than the adult one?

Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups?

Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. Cognitive Neuroscientist. Full bio

Fifteen years ago, it was widely assumed that the vast majority of brain development takes place in the first few years of life. Back then, 15 years ago, we didn’t have the ability to look inside the living human brain and track development across the lifespan.

In the past decade or so, mainly due to advances in brain imaging technology such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, neuroscientists have started to look inside the living human brain of all ages, and to track changes in brain structure and brain function, so we use structural MRI if you’d like to take a snapshot, a photograph, at really high resolution of the inside of the living human brain, and we can ask questions like, how much gray matter does the brain contain, and how does that change with age?

And we also use functional MRI, called fMRI, to take a video, a movie, of brain activity when participants are taking part in some kind of task like thinking or feeling or perceiving something.

1:11 So many labs around the world are involved in this kind of research, and we now have a really rich and detailed picture of how the living human brain develops, and this picture has radically changed the way we think about human brain development by revealing that it’s not all over in early childhood, and instead, the brain continues to develop right throughout adolescence and into the ’20s and ’30s.

adolescence is defined as the period of life that starts with the biological, hormonal, physical changes of puberty and ends at the age at which an individual attains a stable, independent role in society. (Laughter)

It can go on a long time. One of the brain regions that changes most dramatically during adolescence is called prefrontal cortex. So this is a model of the human brain, and this is prefrontal cortex, right at the front.

Prefrontal cortex is an interesting brain area. It’s proportionally much bigger in humans than in any other species, and it’s involved in a whole range of high level cognitive functions, things like decision-making, planning, planning what you’re going to do tomorrow or next week or next year, inhibiting inappropriate behavior, so stopping yourself saying something really rude or doing something really stupid.

It’s also involved in social interaction, understanding other people, and self-awareness.

TED|By Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

So MRI studies looking at the development of this region have shown that it really undergoes dramatic development during the period of adolescence.

if you look at gray matter volume, for example, gray matter volume across age from age four to 22 years increases during childhood, which is what you can see on this graph. It peaks in early adolescence.

The arrows indicate peak gray matter volume in prefrontal cortex. You can see that that peak happens a couple of years later in boys relative to girls, and that’s probably because boys go through puberty a couple of years later than girls on average. And during adolescence, there’s a significant decline in gray matter volume in prefrontal cortex.

Now that might sound bad, but actually this is a really important developmental process, because gray matter contains cell bodies and connections between cells, the synapses, and this decline in gray matter volume during prefrontal cortex is thought to correspond to synaptic pruning, the elimination of unwanted synapses.

This is a really important process. It’s partly dependent on the environment that the animal or the human is in, and the synapses that are being used are strengthened, and synapses that aren’t being used in that particular environment are pruned away.

You can think of it a bit like pruning a rosebush. You prune away the weaker branches so that the remaining, important branches, can grow stronger, and this process, which effectively fine-tunes brain tissue according to the species-specific environment, is happening in prefrontal cortex and in other brain regions during the period of human adolescence.

A second line of inquiry that we use to track changes in the adolescent brain is using functional MRI to look at changes in brain activity across age. So I’ll just give you an example from my lab.

in my lab, we’re interested in the social brain, that is the network of brain regions that we use to understand other people and to interact with other people. So I like to show a photograph of a soccer game to illustrate two aspects of how your social brains work. 

Michael Owen has just missed a goal, and he’s lying on the ground, and the first aspect of the social brain that this picture really nicely illustrates is how automatic and instinctive social emotional responses are, so within a split second of Michael Owen missing this goal, everyone is doing the same thing with their arms and the same thing with their face, even Michael Owen as he slides along the grass, is doing the same thing with his arms, and presumably has a similar facial expression, and the only people who don’t are the guys in yellow at the back — (Laughs) — and I think they’re on the wrong end of the stadium, and they’re doing another social emotional response that we all instantly recognize, and that’s the second aspect of the social brain that this picture really nicely illustrates, how good we are at reading other people’s behavior, their actions, their gestures, their facial expressions, in terms of their underlying emotions and mental states.

So you don’t have to ask any of these guys. You have a pretty good idea of what they’re feeling and thinking at this precise moment in time.

that’s what we’re interested in looking at in my lab.  we bring adolescents and adults into the lab to have a brain scan, we give them some kind of task that involves thinking about other people, their minds, their mental states, their emotions, and one of the findings that we’ve found several times now, as have other labs around the world, is part of the prefrontal cortex called medial prefrontal cortex, which is shown in blue on the slide, and it’s right in the middle of prefrontal cortex in the midline of your head.

This region is more active in adolescents when they make these social decisions and think about other people than it is in adults, and this is actually a meta-analysis of nine different studies in this area from labs around the world, and they all show the same thing, that activity in this medial prefrontal cortex area decreases during the period of adolescence.

And we think that might be because adolescents and adults use a different mental approach, a different cognitive strategy, to make social decisions, and one way of looking at that is to do behavioral studies whereby we bring people into the lab and we give them some kind of behavioral task, and I’ll just give you another example of the kind of task that we use in my lab.

imagine that you’re the participant in one of our experiments. You come into the lab, you see this computerized task. In this task, you see a set of shelves. Now, there are objects on these shelves, on some of them, and you’ll notice there’s a guy standing behind the set of shelves, and there are some objects that he can’t see.

They’re occluded, from his point of view, with a kind of grey piece of wood. This is the same set of shelves from his point of view. Notice that there are only some objects that he can see, whereas there are many more objects that you can see. Now your task is to move objects around.

The director, standing behind the set of shelves, is going to direct you to move objects around, but remember, he’s not going to ask you to move objects that he can’t see. This introduces a really interesting condition whereby there’s a kind of conflict between your perspective and the director’s perspective.

So imagine he tells you to move the top truck left. There are three trucks there. You’re going to instinctively go for the white truck, because that’s the top truck from your perspective, but then you have to remember, “Oh, he can’t see that truck, so he must mean me to move the blue truck,” which is the top truck from his perspective.

Now believe it or not, normal, healthy, intelligent adults like you make errors about 50 percent of the time on that kind of trial. They move the white truck instead of the blue truck. So we give this kind of task to adolescents and adults, and we also have a control condition where there’s no director and instead we give people a rule.

We tell them, okay, we’re going to do exactly the same thing but this time there’s no director. Instead you’ve got to ignore objects with the dark gray background. You’ll see that this is exactly the same condition, only in the no-director condition they just have to remember to apply this somewhat arbitrary rule, whereas in the director condition, they have to remember to take into account the director’s perspective in order to guide their ongoing behavior.

so if I just show you the percentage errors in a large developmental study we did, this is in a study ranging from age seven to adulthood, and what you’re going to see is the percentage errors in the adult group in both conditions, so the gray is the director condition, and you see that our intelligent adults are making errors about 50 percent of the time, whereas they make far fewer errors when there’s no director present, when they just have to remember that rule of ignoring the gray background.

Developmentally, these two conditions develop in exactly the same way. Between late childhood and mid-adolescence, there’s an improvement, in other words a reduction of errors, in both of these trials, in both of these conditions.

But it’s when you compare the last two groups, the mid-adolescent group and the adult group where things get really interesting, because there is no continued improvement in the no-director condition. In other words, everything you need to do in order to remember the rule and apply it seems to be fully developed by mid-adolescence, whereas in contrast, if you look at the last two gray bars, there’s still a significant improvement in the director condition between mid-adolescence and adulthood, and what this means is that the ability to take into account someone else’s perspective in order to guide ongoing behavior, which is something, by the way, that we do in everyday life all the time, is still developing in mid-to-late adolescence.

So if you have a teenage son or a daughter and you sometimes think they have problems taking other people’s perspectives, you’re right. They do. And this is why.

 So we sometimes laugh about teenagers. They’re parodied, sometimes even demonized in the media for their kind of typical teenage behavior. They take risks, they’re sometimes moody, they’re very self-conscious.

I have a really nice anecdote from a friend of mine who said that the thing he noticed most about his teenage daughters before and after puberty was their level of embarrassment in front of him. So, he said, “Before puberty, if my two daughters were messing around in a shop, I’d say, ‘Hey, stop messing around and I’ll sing your favorite song,’ and instantly they’d stop messing around and he’d sing their favorite song. After puberty, that became the threat. (Laughter) The very notion of their dad singing in public was enough to make them behave.

people often ask, “Well, is adolescence a kind of recent phenomenon? Is it something we’ve invented recently in the West?” And actually, the answer is probably not. There are lots of descriptions of adolescence in history that sound very similar to the descriptions we use today.

there’s a famous quote by Shakespeare from “The Winter’s Tale” where he describes adolescence as follows: “I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.” (Laughter)

He then goes on to say, “Having said that, would any but these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt in this weather?” (Laughter) So almost 400 years ago, Shakespeare was portraying adolescents in a very similar light to the light that we portray them in today, but today we try to understand their behavior in terms of the underlying changes that are going on in their brain.

 for example, take risk-taking. We know that adolescents have a tendency to take risks. They do. They take more risks than children or adults, and they are particularly prone to taking risks when they’re with their friends.

There’s an important drive to become independent from one’s parents and to impress one’s friends in adolescence. But now we try to understand that in terms of the development of a part of their brain called the limbic system, so I’m going to show you the limbic system in red in the slide behind me, and also on this brain.

So the limbic system is right deep inside the brain, and it’s involved in things like emotion processing and reward processing. It gives you the rewarding feeling out of doing fun things, including taking risks. It gives you the kick out of taking risks.

And this region, the regions within the limbic system, have been found to be hypersensitive to the rewarding feeling of risk-taking in adolescents compared with adults, and at the very same time, the prefrontal cortex, which you can see in blue in the slide here, which stops us taking excessive risks, is still very much in development in adolescents.

brain research has shown that the adolescent brain undergoes really quite profound development, and this has implications for education, for rehabilitation, and intervention. The environment, including teaching, can and does shape the developing adolescent brain, and yet it’s only relatively recently that we have been routinely educating teenagers in the West.

All four of my grandparents, for example, left school in their early adolescence. They had no choice. And that’s still the case for many, many teenagers around the world today. 40% of teenagers don’t have access to secondary school education. And yet, this is a period of life where the brain is particularly adaptable and malleable. It’s a fantastic opportunity for learning and creativity.

So what’s sometimes seen as the problem with adolescents — heightened risk-taking, poor impulse control, self-consciousness — shouldn’t be stigmatized. It actually reflects changes in the brain that provide an excellent opportunity for education and social development.




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