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Friday, June 23, 2006

You Don’t Know What You’re Doing (Or Why You’re Still Fat)

Category: Mind Change
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  • Y’know, hearing your thoughts on this has made me reconsider about posting a “Special Olympics” comedy bit. I think I’ll hold off that, people are too sensitive. Thanks for the insights.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/24  at  01:27 AM
  • Here is a revision of the last two paragraphs which I *think* might completely disarm your critics:

    Having completed such a challenging and enjoyable mission and worried I hadn’t satisfied her, I was enormously relieved but a little saddened by her decision.

    As I departed though, I did sense from her expression that she was maybe a little ambivalent about changing her plans; that she was thinking of something she might later regret missing. Not wishing to prolong the moment I chose not to ask any questions, so I’ll never know just what the thing was.  I wish we’d traded numbers or something because now I find myself longing to get lost in such vast soft warmth again.  I may not have improved my writing skill, but I certainly gained an appreciation for something few other men would ever have the courage to try.  Now I know what I want.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/25  at  12:32 AM
  • Robert,

    This response to the critics of your “Peggie” is brilliant.  I mean, the idea you present is brilliant and wonderful, once a person can really grasp it, which I think I have done.  The problem is that it is a difficult idea to explain and consequently your explanation of it is a bit difficult to grasp.  I’m compelled to try to help:

    Let’s first imagine that there’s some feeling in all of us that makes us lean toward the idea of original sin.  The feeling is justified by the fact that we’re all eventually going to die.  What we like to do is replace that unavoidable fact with something that is avoidable.  If we can fool ourselves into connecting the feeling that we deserve death to some fault over which we can exercise control, then we can diminish the feeling by exercising the control.

    Obesity appears to be a good fault for this purpose.  So basically, by struggling with a weight problem, a person feels like like they’re staving off death by losing weight, and that the weight loss makes them deserve to stay alive.  But without the weight problem, there’s no struggle to stave off death, and they feel like they don’t deserve to stay alive - hence the depression and weight gain and cycle.

    I do think our minds are complex enough to do this kind of deep and abstract shenanigans, even in people who seem rather shallow and thoughtless.  The brain power is there, and it gets used somehow, even when that use is just a lot mindless circularity.

    May I suggest that guilt and shame are NOT natural human traits, but potential human traits, grown and nurtured by everyone around us as tools to make us do what they want?  Original Sin, my ass.  The reason people deserve to die is because they aren’t wisely selfish enough to deserve immortality.  Not yet anyway.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  01:45 AM
  • Re: Dave Scotese’s comment on “You Don’t Know What You’re Doing.”

    Having grasped the point (thank you) you then proceed to let go of it. Guilt and shame ARE natural human traits, and the “guilt trips” that parents, teachers and governments lay on us are (for the distractions and distortions they afford us) really blessings. It’s as simple—and as ugly—as that.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  12:47 PM
  • On the question of guilt and shame being natural or nurtured, I asked my wife if she ever uses the placebo effect to her own advantage.  Regardless of your actual belief on the issue, your behavior (including writing) can reflect either position.  I made my suggestion that it is nurtured because of the danger of self-fulfilling prophecy; to believe it is natural makes it more difficult to let it go.

    I have removed some guilt and shame from my life and I believed it was nurtured.  I suppose I could have done so even if I had believed it was in my nature, but I would have felt that I was struggling against the odds.  In this case, I acted like it’s nurtured, and I think it improved my life, even if I was wrong.

    So I won’t retract my suggestion that guilt and shame are nutured rather than natural.  In fact, I’m only suggesting it, not claiming one way or the other.  Why do you insist on your position?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/14  at  05:14 PM
  • Well, I have this overwhelming urge to mention Dr. Phil, who always (and surely quite rightly) says that rather than STOPPING doing things (which is impossible, like trying to stop thinking “elephant” or “LUNCH!”), one should replace the behaviors in question with other (less harmful) behaviors (like thinking, say, “mouse”, or “Must help the poor!”).

    I don’t know that guilt and shame are natural human traits, but I think it’s a natural human trait to get stuck on something, like food or “elephant”, and then have a hard time getting unstuck. 

    Now, if I could only stop thinking about Dr. Phil. 

    PS.—-

    “Peggy,” the story, is quite likeable.  Peggy, the person in the story, is positively frightening, because (I think) she is so consumed with consumption (and NOT even worried about it, at least from what we can glean from the narrative)that she scares the rest of us.  Maybe it isn’t fair to focus on fat people—there are lots of ways and things over which people allow their eyes to cross, and then overdo. “Peggy”, the story, would do well in an anthology including things like work-a-holics, alcoholics, and uh… and people who can’t stop thinking about Dr. Phil….!

    Posted by julianyway  on  12/20  at  11:40 PM
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