2017 Maps of Meaning 1- Context and Background

2017 Maps of Meaning 1- Context and Background

2017 Maps of Meaning 1:Context and Meaning Youtube Video


I should tell you first about the genesis of this theory, I suppose is the right way of putting it. When I was about your age that was back in the early 80’s or thereabouts and this was particularly true around 1984 but it was true before that too every generation has its worries real or imagined the primary worry for people of my generation was nuclear war and you know it was a genuine worry at one point many years later I went down to Arizona to visit an ICBM, a decommissioned ICBM nuclear missile silo and ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile were, very large rockets right they

flew at, they could fly half way around the world it was deep underground and behind very thick steel doors, it was light green you know that pastel green that everyone seemed to like in the 1950’s it was like pastel green Star Trek console that’s what it looked like and ah, so we went down out in the yard, it was in the desert, out in the yard there was a very I would say magical object for lack of a better word and that was the nose cone for the ICBM and it was quite big about that big, about that high, pointed like the point of a bullet about ¾’s of an inch thick, plastic you know kind of a resin

and it was designed to melt on re-entry so that was just sitting there so that was fairly thought provoking, let’s put it that way and then we went into the missile silo

interestingly enough appended to the front of it, it had been decommissioned under Regan, by the way in the front of it there was a museum with artifacts from the 1980’s featuring Reagan and Gorbachev meeting multiple times

and it was staffed by these Southern these Americans from the South who were grandparent age and they were and they were just super friendly and you know , they were happy to be in the museum, and it was like going to visit your grandma’s nuclear missile silo

and so it was jarring you know, because it was obviously a portentous place, and yet it was conjoined with hospitality and welcoming it was surreal in that manner anyways we went into the into the silo and they ran us through a

simulated launch, so imagine a panel like this made out of metal except twice as long with another one of these things at the other end 16 feet across or so basically 1950’s technology but updated and then imagine what you had to do to launch it was that there was a guy with a key and there was another guy with a key and if I remember correctly the keys were around their necks although I don’t think that they were stored around their necks permanently but

and so to launch the missile you had to put the key in the lock both of you that was the safety precaution, had to be two of you put the key in the lock and hold it for 10 seconds and then away the missile goes and it wasn’t as big, the missile wasn’t as big as the rockets that went to the moon but

but it was plenty big you know the silo itself would have easily been as wide as this room is and perhaps larger and many, many, story’s tall, you know because it was nested underground so they ran us through a simulated launch which was surreal, I would say and then they told us that someone asked, that the keys were in once

now, they wouldn’t tell us when but you know that would have been during the Cuban missile crisis because, we were that close and we were close again at other times, although perhaps not that closeand there seemed to be another peak of conflict, in 1984

when there was a movie showed at that time called “The Day After” which at that time garnered more views than any movie ever had on TV, and it was a story about the aftermath of a nuclear war and the people that were left and it was

pretty realistic and and pretty frightening, it, it turned out as I found out later that that movie was one of things that influenced Ronald Reagan to put pressure on or negotiate with the Soviets depending on how you look at it

and so well then you know 5 years later the Soviet union collapsed, no one saw that coming and it really didn’t collapse in 1989 in some sense, you know, like a huge machine like that doesn’t fall apart all at once, it falls apart over time and then at some point it just

becomes unsustainable and topples and you know, it’s like they lost faith in their doctrine and for good reason you know that the system in Russia the Soviet Union, which was a collection of states,

an empire and the system that Mao establish in China and the system that still exists in Korea as a remnant of the cold war and systems in South East Asia and in Africa were all predicated on

Marxist presuppositions presuppositions that were Utopian in nature and that and that posited a Utopian future where property was held in common and everyone had enough

and everyone was called upon to do what they could ight, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need which is a lovely sentiment and you can imagine how it would be attractive even intellectually, because of course

other systems, all other systems produce vast disparities in income it’s like a natural law, that’s actually governed by, you can model it with a distribution called the Pareto distribution, and the Pareto distribution looks like this it doesn’t look like a normal distribution, a lot of you guys have been told about, not, normal distributions and how

many things many things follow on normal distribution, most things, but that’s really a limited case you can understand a Pareto distribution if you you’ve all played Monopoly I presume at the beginning

everyone has the same amount of money we will include property, the same amount of wealth and then what happens as the game progresses, and really as a function of chance I mean, I know that you have to use a head a little bit in Monopoly but the basic rule is just buy everything you can get your hands on and then trade meanly, something like that

so at the beginning everybody has the same amount and then as you begin to play if you had enough players you would develop a normal distribution because some people would win relatively consistently and some players lose relatively consistently and so the money starts to be distributed

in a normal distribution, but the thing about money, and the thing about lots of things is that zero is involved and zero is a weird place because if you are playing a trading game and you hit zero then you’re done

and so, and it is very hard to recover from zero, and you know it’s really hard to recover, you know when you are doomed in Monopoly you know, you, you can tell, you’ve got some resources but there is going to be some crisis when you land on some hotel and you are going to get wiped out, you know it, so there is a point at which you’re headed for zero even if you have

something you know and you might be rescued by, luck, but you know when you are doomed So what happens as you continue to play Monopoly, more and more people stack up at zero

and fewer and fewer people have more and more money and when the game is over every person has no money and one person has all of it, now the funny thing about that is in some sense that is how trading games work,

you know, you got, you might wonder why there is inequality in a society and it is easy to consider that it’s because the society is corrupt and perhaps, you know, society is somewhat or horribly corrupt, that is the variation, there is no society that is not without its criminal

element, its fixed element anyways trading games tend to produce a Pareto distribution so that very many have very little and a tiny minority have a tremendous amount that’s the 1% that you hear about, right, and the thing about the 1% is that

it has happened in every society that has ever been studied, it doesn’t really matter what the governmental system is, it certainly happened under the Soviets, that’s for sure and there was enough people that had enough zero that they just died, so, you know, the,

the Utopian dream was completely un-implementable for a variety of very complex reasons, one is that it is very hard to fight against that distribution pattern when people are trading because mere statistics will do that, and then there are other things, and

I should tell you as well that the Pareto distribution governs a lot of things, so, if you look at books, if I remember properly last year there was something like a million English language books published and I think that 500 of them sold more than 100,000 copies which is none, right, that is none, and of that 500 you can be sure that one of them was by Stephen King

and he took half the money because like there is 5 authors in the English language who are on every airport paperback stand occupying the top rung and that’s massive real estate, right, because it is replicated everywhere, and because they are so

prominent and because they are no names when people are in a hurry and want something to read, they just grab that, and more money goes to those people, so you know, success breeds success and failure breeds failure, and it not necessarily linear and that is a really difficult thing to deal with,

and it is hard on societies, because, one of the things we do know is that, you know, as you stretch out the inequality, you make men, particularly, on the lower end of the distribution, more and more likely to be aggressive, it’s sort of like, you imagine every man has a threshold for violence,

um, and status is important to men, not that it isn’t important to women but, it’s different, it’s a different kind of status, it’s status that is important to men because it’s one of the things that makes them marketable as partners to women so it actually turns out to be quite important to men

men tend to compete with one another for status, hierarchy position, and in a really unequal society, if you are like a low rung guy, then, and you don’t have any opportunity to rise because

the society isn’t structured so that there’s mobility, then the more aggressive guys, tend to turn to criminality, and you know and so you could say there is a threshold for criminality,

and the more inequality pressure you put on a particular area, geographic or political area, the more inequality pressure you put on it, the more men slip past that threshold and into criminality, and you know there have been some pretty good studies done of drug gangs

in Chicago, that was the best one, a sociologist actually went out and hung out with a drug gang he got into it, I guess the drug gang leader was, you know, I wouldn’t say necessarily narcissistic, that might be a reasonable way of thinking about it, and he was kind of

happy with the idea of maybe being the subject of a book and, so this guy was able to associate with them, got to know them quite well, and then the housing project in which the gang was housed was slated for demolition and the gang broke up

and he got the books because they kept books and what he found was the average street drug dealer, first of all was employed in another job, as well, and was making far less than minimum wage now, but guys further up the chain of course

followed the Pareto distribution so there was a tiny minority of them that were raking in a tremendous amount of loot, and the guys at the bottom were just waiting around for the possibility that they could rise up the hierarchy and you know it’s a pretty violent game, so, the chances that someone’s going to be, taken out

it pretty high and so then a slot opens up for some opportunistic second rater and perhaps he can move up the hierarchy. So the Pareto distribution governs all sorts of other things too, I mentioned it governs the popularity of books the sales of books but it also, it also

characterizes the distribution of everything that people produce, so if you think of creative production of any sort, artistic production, industrial production it doesn’t matter, almost everything fails and a few things succeed beyond anyone’s wildest imagination

Apples’ a good example of that, you know I mean, the iPhone, they have their competitors but it is an extraordinarily dominant product, and they rake in billions of dollars don’t know if Apple is valued at a trillion dollars but it’s close to that, and that is a lot of money, and I think if I remember correctly,

it something like this, I probably have the figures wrong but the top 40 people, the richest 40 people in the world have as much money as the bottom 2 billion right, now, you know it not like they are stuffing their mattresses with that money or they have a skyscraper full of cash, that money is out in the economy doing whatever money does, so you can’t spend 28 billion dollars

so, and sometimes you can even do some good with it, you know, Bill Gates seems to be doing something reasonable with his money, but the reason I am telling you this is because one of the things you should know is that this proclivity for inequality is pervasive among the products of human beings

it is the case with the goals scored in hockey, my son told me and he is a reliable source on hockey statistics, that if Wayne Gretzky, if you don’t count any of the points that Wayne Gretzky managed with scoring, he still had enough points just with assists to have more points than any hockey player that ever played, so,

you know, even at the upper end of the distribution there is some person whose, aahh, that is so good at what they do, and then there is another person that is so much better than them that it is not even comparable and so, and the benefits flow to people who are in that position, and you can understand why ,I would say because

you know, say you start writing, and you get a book and rare things, very rare things to have happen, and some people read it and they like it and then of course it is much more likely that you’ll get a next book and if people like that then it is even more likely that you will get a third book and then people start to know who you are and then because they know who you are, they phone you up and offer you opportunities and your network grows,

it’s like this exponential increase in your reach and your capacity for production, and more and more flows to you, and then on the other hand if you start to fail, and you know, why would someone fail, well God, one idea that is very common in our culture is that poverty is caused by lack of money and that’s a very stupid idea,

because money is very difficult to handle, I had clients who were drug addicts, and the worst possible thing that could happen to them is that they got some money they’re just done, first of all, they were hanging around with people who were a little on the sociopathic side and so, especially if they weren’t that bright and couldn’t defend themselves very well as soon as they got money, well it was off to the bar with all the friends, and, you know,

one guy I remember in particular, you know every time he got his, his disability cheque, he was gone for 5 days, you would find him in a ditch, you know, because he would go to the bar, spend every cent he had on alcohol and cocaine, and, wake up in a ditch ¾’s dead, well, eventually completely dead, and,

you know then he was ashamed and horrified and repentant and he would straighten himself out again and then that was all well and good, until, as long he was broke until the next cheque showed up, and then, bang the same thing, so, you know, it’s not like money is necessarily a good for everyone it’s hard to manage money, it’s really easy for it to disappear, I mean elderly people have a hell of a time now because you know, crooks are contacting them on the Internet non-stop, and so

just giving people money money it’s like, it’s like pouring water in their hands it’s not that helpful, not necessarily that helpful, and then of course, contributors to poverty are , well, it’s not that helpful to have a low IQ you know, people don’t like the idea of IQ because it seems so arbitrary, you know, have a high IQ

well it’s not like you deserve it exactly, you are set up that way pretty much right from the beginning, it’s a very, very, very, very stable. You can make a high IQ person stupider by not educating them up to the level of their possibility, but taking someone who has a low IQ trying to raise that, it’s like if you can figure out how to do that well, you know, it’s Nobel Prize time for you because people have tried that a lot,

and most recently with those you know Luminosity, Lumosity games and that sort of thing, the evidence that those produce anything other than brilliant performances on the Lumosity game itself is basically zero. We haven’t been able to figure out how to, see, ‘cause, intelligence is a cross domain phenomena and you can get really good in a single domain by practising like mad and what you want is to practise like mad in a single domain and hope that it generalizes to other domains

that’s the holy grail of intelligence increase, no, no one has done it, people claim it, but the claims never hold up, and people have been trying for a long time to do it, and then haven’t been able to do it, and, difference in IQ really make a difference, you know, I mean, you guys average IQ’s is probably 125, 130, at 115 you are at the 85th percentile

and 115 would barely get you going for a hard university, 130, you are probably graduate school material, you know, 145 you are up there at the range probably where you can pretty much do whatever you want but as you get smarter, the scatter between your abilities increases so you might have a very high verbal IQ, but not be so good at mathematics, or the other way around,

but it’s a massive contributor to lifetime success, and, I don’t know what to do about that. Why do smart people make more money? Well, they get to where the edge of production is faster so if you have a 1000 people and you rank order them by IQ the smart people are going to come up with the new ideas first and they are going to have more ideas, and they are going to strategize better, and,

you know, with an IQ of 90, which is, 15% of the population, think about that, 15% of the population that is pretty much the threshold for reading instructions and being able to follow them so you know, and our society is increasing sophisticated so it is by no means obvious you know the liberals think, well

that society is unfair because there is unemployment and conservatives think that, well there is a job for everyone but none of them think well there are massive, massive, massive differences in people’s ability far greater than anyone realizes, and that poses a structural problem. I had a client

and I got him a volunteer job which is way harder than you think you need a police check, for example Like it's harder to get a volunteer job than a real job But I, We got him in a volunteer job and he had to fold pieces of paper, letters, it was, he worked at a charity

he had to fold pieces of paper, in three so that he could put them inside envelopes and and the the letters, which were in a pile had to matched with the proper envelopes which were also in a pile, some of them were French and some of them were English so the French ones had to be carefully matched to the French envelopes and, and then if, you know, if there was one envelope out of

order, well then he had to figure out whether it was the papers that were out of order or the letters that were out of order and then, Some of the letters had photographs attached to them and you weren't supposed to bend the photographs, but they weren't all in the same place, so that meant you had to figure out how to fold

the paper in three, a bunch of different ways without creasing the photograph and then, the other thing is, and I never realized how difficult it is to put a piece of paper in an envelope until I watched someone that couldn't do it and he probably had an IQ of about 80 you know if you met him on the street you wouldn't think anything different of him,

he was a normal looking guy had some other problems I trained to fold those damn papers for like 30 hours and he got reasonably good at it, but you know, if you are good at it and you probably all are

you fold it, and the edges line up exactly like really exactly, the tolerance is probably 1/2 a millimeter or something like that and then you do the second fold and, the tolerance is the same but let's imagine the first fold that you you are out by an 1/8th of an inch and the second fold you are out by an 1/8th of an inch

so it's a little crooked, and that means in total you are out by a 1/4 of an inch then it won't fit in the damn envelope so then you kind of crumple the envelope when you put it there and then it gets stuck in the sorting machine and so he sweated blood trying to do that job and eventually they eventually planned to fire him

so imagine what that's like, eh, you know you can't get a job and then so you get a job at a charity as a volunteer and a charity decides to fire you you know I mean, really that's just, so I talked to the women who was running it and

suggested that that might be a little on the devastating side, I mean she had her reasaons you know, he, he,. he was always asking people questions about how to do his job and you know so that meant he was interfering with the productivity of other people and it was genuine interference, I mean, she wasn't being mean

and it was her job to make sure that the place did what it was supposed to, so and, you know, she was between a rock and a hard place he eventually decided that the job wasn't for him relatively soon after that, I think it was too stressful and uh, he quit, so that solved that problem, except then, he didn't have a job

which of course is a problem it has a happy ending this story, as far as I know um, he he got a dog because he was very lonesome, and that dog, man, having that guy train that dog, that was something else, that dog just I think he lost thirty pounds while he was training that dog

because dogs, you know, they are dominant he had to have a tussle with the dog to figure out who was in charge, and it's a lot of responsibility to have a dog but he was pretty damn committed to that dog and he managed it, the things he went through to keep that dog you cannot possibly imagine, it's like a, like a it was surreal, just like the nuclear missile silo, I mean, he had people following him around informing

on him because they thought he was abusing the dog when in fact, because I watched the dog was clearly abusing him so, he got a job helping a women who trained dogs and then he had a job so hurray, you know, but

it was like a miracle fundamentally, so Anyways, the reason I am telling you all this is because there was a reason for the Cold War and the reason was that there is inequality and there are different theories how to address that

inequality and different theories as to why it exists and there was a Marxist theory about why it exists which was roughly something like property equal theft and those who have more have taken it from those who have less which seems to me to eliminate any conceptualization that there isn't a fixed pot of money

you know money expands actually, as we become more technologically proficient and, lots of people who have money have it because generated a lot of wealth Bill Gates is a great example of that right he popularized computing he made it possible for everybody to to have access to computing, it's like, it seems like a good, good for him you know and you could say the same thing about Steve Jobs

and maybe you will be able to say the same thing about Elon Musk, and you know, these guys have tremendous resources at their diposal but you know, they're not like bathing in bank notes, you know, they're trying to continue to do things, they use their money to do things

anyways The Russians set themselves up under Marxist presuppositions and tried to equalize the distribution of property and to call that catastrophic barely scratches the surface, I know that

you guys probably don't learn much about this because for some reasonpeople aren't taught about it, but good estimates are that the Russians killed about 30 million of their own people between 1919 and 1959 you know and it's brutal brutal, a lot of that was through starvation

you know I saw a photograph the other day, which I tweeted which is the worst photograph I have ever seen in my life and that is actually saying a lot because, I have seen a lot of really terrible photographs because I've done so much investigation into totalitarianism this was a photograph taken during one of the early starvation... periods in the Soviet Union where about three million peasants died

was a picture of a peasant couple standing behind a table at a market selling human body parts for food and you know, I have this weird quirk which I don't think does me much good, but maybe helps me understand things better

when I see that someone has dome something extreme, I learned to this a long time ago when I worked briefly in a maximum security prison I try to imagine, what I would have to like what kind of situation what sort of situation would I have to find myself in to do that

and believe me, man, that's a horrifying enterprise because it is actually possible no matter what you read about someone doing and no matter how unlikely you think that you would do that It's possible,

to imagine yourself in that situation, and that well that's enlightening, that's what I would say, that's enlightening you know because one of the things about enlightenment is that you get enlightened by doing things that necessary that you really, really, really do not want to know

don't want to do and imagine, imagining yourself as a perpetrator of that sort is that tells you something about the world, and it tells you something about human beings, but it's a hell of thing to swallow, you know, in a very well structured society such as ours

where we are so peaceful well because we have the heat and it always works, and we have electricity, and it always works and we have plumbing, which a bloody miracle, and it always works you know, it's just One of the things that this imagination process has done for me is keep me alert

to the absolute miracle that my life is everyday It's horrbly cold out there You can't grow any food You'd die if you were out there for 24 hours If any of the infrastructure was unreliable for any length of time we would be in serious trouble and it's never unreliable

It's so unlikely and so we are, with all this reliable infrastructure and because of that we don;t have to compete with each other much I mean, some You don't compete for food

You don't compete for shelter, or some people do but not many So, it really easy to think of yourself as good, because You're not doing anything nasty to anyone but, you know, a cynic might say well that, that's just because you don't have any reason to but, those reasons

have arisen many times in the past, and in fact they're the norm, not the exception, we're the exception, this insanely functional society that we have somehow managed to generate is it is incomprehensible to me that it exists

so, Anyways back in the industrial, the end of the industrial revolution The conditions of the worker were pretty brutal I mean George Orwell wrote a book called "Road to Wigan Pier" which I highly recommend, it's a great book and he went up in the 30's

I think it was the 30's To work, to live with the coal miners up in Northern U.K. and, those poor guys your know they had to crawl to work for two miles down a tunnel that they couldn't stand up in just to start their shift and after their 8 hours of hacking away at the coal walls

which is rather difficult, dirty and dangerous and of course you get black lung from it fatal and of course they didn't get paid very much so after doing that for 8 hours then you , crawled back, your 2 miles and you didn't get paid for that, that was just the commute and the housing for those people

was not good, the food wasn''t good, most of them had not teeth by the time they were 30 you know, I mean being poor was no joke even in a place like the U.K. which was relatively well off and so there was every reason to be concerned between the disparity between rich andpoor and poor is the natural state, you know

In the Western world, in 1895 the typical person lived on a dollar a day in today's dollars and, you know, that's not uncommon in many places in the world now so there are reasons to be concerned with inequality and, you know, the Russians took one pathway inspired by Marx and we took another pathway

inspired by John Stuart Mill and John Locke the English tradition I would so, democracy and, competed for 70 years and, things seem to have worked out better here

but, with a hell of a competition and there were real differences of opinion at the bottom of it and those two systems turned into armed camps, and that's not over exactly, you know, I mean there are Chinese, although they're a hybrid now between Communism and capitalism and hopefully they are more interested in getting rich than they are, in, you know having a war

greed is a good motivator surprisingly enough it is kind of reliable but, anyways, by 1989, the jig was up it was obvious that the Soviet system, could not was not functional, there, was no consumer goods, that's for sure, even in the main department stores in Moscow

people just kind of lost faith in the whole project you know, it became huh! for a while, I don't know if you know about the show Dallas Dallas was a soap opera that ran at night a serial, and uh, it was about these rich

Texans, who lived, you know, a 1% lifestyle and it was the most popular show in East Germany the streets would empty so people could watch Dallas well, when you are sitting in you horrible Soviet architecture flat that, you know you had to struggle to get with your informing

relatives, because 1 out of 3 people in East Germany was an informer, a government informer and you watch Dallas, you know, there is a little cognitive dissonance occurring and so, it fell apart and quite peacefully actually, you know, there was a war in

there was a bit of a war in Eastern Europe but it fell apart remarkably peacefully, and so here we are and we don't know what do with the pesky Russians, but at least there is no evidence that they are our mortal enemies for fundamental reasons of

axiomatic presupposition and things are a lot better in the world despite what everyone tells you than they were 40 years ago, and they are so much better than they were 50 years ago that is absolutely staggering

We have lifted more people out of poverty in the last 15 years that have been lifted out of poverty in the entire history of the world before then people are, gathering economic resources at a rate that even the wildest optimist really couldn't dream of speeding up so, It's not like we are not without our problems, but,

So during that period of time I was obsessed, would be a good word with a question, and the question was Why, would human beings

produce two camps and then produce a massive arsenal of hydrogen bombs and I don't know what you know about hydrogen bombs, but they have atom bombs for triggers and, you know, that's worth thing because an atom bomb, you know, hey, that's that's something, but a hydrogen bomb

that's the sun, that's really something so, and you know, at the peak of the cold war, and this is still true to some degree there were literally tens of thousands of these weapons aimed at the Soviet Union and at the West, and that was enough pretty much put and end to everything

and, that's a dangerous game, man, you know and not only because of intent, but also because of the possibility of accidental just an accident, you know just a mistake, or just someone whose a little crazier than you might want them to be you know, and you might think, well no one would want to bring about the destruction of the world but that just means you don't know very much about Stalin

because of all the people who lived in the 20th century who had power Stalin was the most motivated to bring everything to an end There is some evidence that he was murdered, by Khrushchev, and his crew, and Khrushchev was the next leader

and if he was not murdered, he was at least not provided with medical attention when he was dying and uh, there is reasonable evidence that he was gearing to invade Western Europe and he really didn't care how much destruction would go along with that,I mean, he had already killed tens of millions of people he had a lot of practice, he was good at it, it didn't really bother him, maybe even enjoyed it

so, what the hell, that's what I thought, how can it be that you are doing this, it's so insane so then I started to think about belief systems, you know because you could say that each camp had it's own belief system, the one in the West was derived and had a very lengthy history derived from the Greeks and the Romans, and the Jews and the Christians

and from various schools of philosophy and from the Enlightenment and all that, and then the Soviet Union was basically predicated on a rational philosophy that, that opposed the axioms that the West had evolved and each group organized their societies around that, and Now I took political science for quite a long time and the political scientists and the economists

they basically thought that people competed over resources but that wasn't a very good answer as far as I was concerned, because it wasn't obvious to me why people valued the resources they valued The economists just assumed that there are resources that you valued, but but, you know, people can value a lot of different things, it's it's not exactly fixed, I mean, you tend to value food very highly if you are hungry, obviously, but but there are lots of thing that we value and that we want that

seem somewhat arbitrary, somewhat like a decision so I got more interested in why people valued things, and, what it meant to value something and then what it meant to believe something and then how it could be that someone could believe something, so deeply that they would risk their own death, to

protect it, or at least risk the death of other people and maybe on a massive scale, like, man, people are committeda to their system now, you know, a system of belief is not just a system of belief, that's one of the things I came to understand is that it's not appropriate, to make this too psychological people defend their belief systems, but that's not exactly right, you knowwe have a shared belief system

well it's sufficiently shared so, that, here we are we don't know each other, we are a bunch of primates we are in this room and it's peaceful, and no one's scared and that's pretty amazing and that means we are all acting out our roles so, we acting out our roles and we have an expectation with regard to those roles and those two things match

and that's the important thing, and we will talk about that a lot it isn't the belief system, or the integrity of the belief system even it's the match between the belief system and the actions of the other people within the belief system what you want to maintain is that match you want to act out your beliefs in the world, and you want what you want to happen

that's a good thing, you get what you want and you validate your belief system, great perfect, security but a lot of that is, we are interacting, even right now there is a whole set of expectations that are governing what we are doing, like you don't want me to take your little tablet there and smash it, that would be shocking, right, you wouldn't know what the hell to do

right, you would be somewhere different it I did that and you wouldn't know where you were and that is another thing to know, because that is a fundamental difference, there is a fundamental difference between knowing where you are and not knowing where you are

I think that it's, in some sense, the fundamental difference, you can think about it as the distinction between explored and unexplored territory, but you have to I don't know if you have taken a cat to a new house, cats hate that and, because in their old house, and maybe in their old neighborhood, they've slunk around you know, at the edges, checking everything out they start out afraid

they check everything out, they know where to hide, they now what's safe and they know that because they go somewehere and nothing happens, so then they assume that it is safe and they slowly, build up a neighborhood that they are comfortable with My dad used to take the dog for a walk, and the cat got lonesome and it started to follow him, and First of all, it would go along the buildings, the houses on their route

hiding, really from predators, and after a while it got kind off comfortable with that then it follow right behind the dog but, it had a border, and if my dad took the dog over one street to many for the cat the cat would just sit on the corner and you know, cry, like a cat cries, it was like

that's it for me man, I am not going any further out into the unknown and so, the distinction between the territory that you have mastered and the territory that you haven't mastered, is a fundamental distinction it is the distinction between home and the strange land

and the thing about familiar territory for people, is that most of the familiar territory that we inhabit is other people because we are so social, you can't really think it's a weird way of thinking about territory, it's not exactly geographical, objective territory, it's territory with a dominance hierarchy in it and the dominance hierarchy has a predictable structure

and you know where you fit in it most of the time and so when you act out in that territory surrounded by your people then often you get what you want and, you are so thrilled about that, because you just don't want someone acting erratically around you like, and you know that, so you walk down Bloor

and there are people there that really should be institutionalized, but we de-institutionalized them all so that they could be free, and free to be, you know suffering and malfunctioning, and out on the street, that's what the freedom ended up being but you know, you'll walk by someone like that whose muttering away to the voices in his head and, you know, maybe striking out against what ever it is that's plaguing him and

you'll make eye contact you might even go across the street, you are certainly give him a wide berth, you are going to keep a distance between him and you. and you are going to hope that you don't attract his attention because, he's not in the dominance hierarchy and you don't know what the hell he might do

and that's unexplored territory too and that's another way of thinking about it We inhabit time and space, not just space, and not just time, we inhabit time and space and out territories are spatio-temporal, we are here - now and this is safe, now and it's safe, partly because of the physical structure and it's working

but it's also because none of you are manifesting peculiar behaviour but if you started to manifest peculiar behaviour if you stood up and started muttering or yelling or maybe attacking someone next to you all the rest of you freeze first because all of a sudden this would be unexplored territory

the match between what you want, which is a peaceful lecture that you hope has some content the match between what you want and what is happening, has vanished and so then, you're not, you don't know where you are and so what do you do when you don't know where you are what do you do when you don't know what to do well, if you are a computer then you just crash

but you know, what good is that to you, you are just going to die, that isn't helpful you freeze, first and then you maybe cautiously attend, or maybe you don't, maybe you just keep you're damn eyes averted and you sit there and you hope that no one notices you that's a prey response, right that's like a rabbit frozen when it thinks a fox is looking at it

and we were prey animals for a long time there was a cat that they recently discovered, a prehistoric cat that had this bottom single tooth and they found out that it a human skull fit right inside it's mouth and so it could grab you here and pierce the back of your skull with it's single tooth, and that is what it was evolved for, so, you know

It's under such conditions we evolved and we are predators obviously but we are tasty predators, and so other things were perfectly happy to eat us and so where you are don't know what to do you act like a prey animal and that is probably what you should do because maybe if you keep your head down and shut the hell up there won't be any attention attracted to you

and maybe you will get through it you might decide, unlikely, to intervene and take the guy down but but you would be the exception rather than the norm, and it's unsurprising OK, so

What is came to understand is that belief systems regulated emotions but not exactly psychologically, like, it isn't exactly it isn't exactly, and this is sort of like the terror management theories, it's not exactly like you have a theory in your head, and because the theory explains the world, and because the theory explains the world the theory is what is making you secure it's kind of like that

it's like you have a theory in you head and the theory makes you feel secure because it explains the world but the reason it explains the world is because other people have the theory in their head and when you both act out the theory you both get what you want, and it's the coming together of the theory and the outcome that makes you

it's life not only does it stop you from being anxious and often make you happy because you get what you want, but it's not just psychological you know the fact that we do this, that we cooperate within our societies, we match our belief systems and then act them outthat's the predicate a productive society

so, it's actually, it isn't that just that it saves you from death anxiety like the terror management theorists have it, it saves you from death and, that's good, I mean, being protected from death anxiety, yay, well, good that's great too man, but actually not dying, that sort of the fundamental thing that you are after and so, people have reason to defend their territory if you think of territory that way, if you think about it as a domain where the fundamental presuppositions

of each citizen are matched by the behavior of their co-citizens They have every reason to defend that and if it falls apart, it can have mortally serious consequences, it's chaos, you know that chaos just doesn't destabilize everybody psychologically it destabilizes everything, it can destabilize the currency it can destabilize the industrial economy, the lights can go off it's like

it's not good, so hey, no wonder people protect it so then I started thinking about what a belief system was and I realized that a belief system was actually a set of moral guidelines

and moral guidelines are guidelines about how you should, behave also how you should perceive and the reason that a moral guideline is necessary for you to perceive is that you can't look at anything without a hierarchy of value right, think about it, how may things in this room could you look at

there is an innumerable in this room to look at there are just all the squares, the little tiny squares in this fabric you could look at those things, for, until the end of time, one at a time, but you don't do that in fact, if I took most of you out of this room there is a very low probability that you would be able to tell me what color the walls were, or even if those things were on the walls

and the reason for that, is that, who cares as long as the walls don't move color is irrelavant, and there is no reason for you to remember it it has no emotional significance it has no value and so what you do instead is

well, this is what you're doing, so, why are you here I don't mean in, the broad metaphysical sense, I mean specifically why are you here right now and I would say that you are students, obviously and you are trying to get a degree, and you know you believe that will have some functional utility maybe you will be a little wiser, and a little more literate

and be able to think a little better, and be able to write a little better and so you will actually be more functional in the world that would be good you know, and, maybe you are interested, but anyways it's You're in this particular lecture, so that you can take this particular classso that you can get a particular kind of degree so that you can launch your life, and then in your life you are probably going to meet someone that you

have a long term relationship with, and you are going to have children, and you are going to partake in the society, and that's why you are here, all of those reasons, simultaneously is why you are here and so then that helps you decide what to look at and so what you look at is at the moment or listen to is me because, in principle

I am the gateway to that set of accomplishments, at this moment and so you focus on me and that's because you value that and so what that means is that you can't even look at the world without a value structure you know it's chaos, if everything is equally unimportant or if everything is equally important

it's chaos, so a value system, structures the very way that you perceive the world, and I don't mean that metaphysically there is plenty of experiments that have demonstrated that like the invisible gorilla experiment, how many of you know about the invisible gorilla experiment. How many don't? Well, Roughly speaking, what happens is that there are two teams

a white team dressed in white and a team dressed in black and there is a video of them and the black team is passing a basketball ball back and forth and the white team passing basketball back and forth and you are supposed to count the times the basketball gets passed back and forth there is only one basketball and so, you know, you're diligent

for whatever reason you do what the experimenter asks you and you count the basketball tosses and you think well that's not so hard, it's like 16 so you tell them 16, and they say, Did you see the gorilla?

and half of you say, what are you talking about and the experimenter says, let's watch again but this time, don't count Well, sure enough, like 30 seconds into the video and, you know, the players fill the video screen, it's not like they are 300 yards in the distance, you know, like little ants playing basketball, they're right filling the screen, you can see their faces Sure enough,

minute into the video this guy in a gorilla suit, and he is not little, and neither is the gorilla suit, and he comes out bangs his chest right in the middle of the screen for five seconds and then disappears and half, more than half actually of people don't see that, and it is even worse, Dan Simon did another experiment, where you are at a counter, you know at a store, and there is a clerk there you are talking to the clerk, and the clerk, goes down hypothetically to get something, and then a different clerk pops up

and you think, Hey! I would notice that! but you don't and you can even vary the clerk quite a bit, and, people don't notice So,

We focus on very particular things and the reason we don't notice is because it doesn't actually matter in terms of the ongoing, our ongoing action at that point, the clerk is interchangeable as long as the entity there acts like a clerk that's sufficient

So, belief systems structure your perceptions, value systems, we are going to call them value systems they structure you perceptions and they also guide you actions because you act, in accordance with your values conscious, or unconscious, you have values that you don't know about because you don't know yourself very well

You can tell that, that you have values that you don't know, very well, because sometimes you get attracted to people that you know perfectly well that's a mistake or, you are trying to tell yourself to study and you don't, and, you know so there's You are not in control of yourself to any great degree, some, and the more integrated you are the more control you have but, you are kind of a loose collection arguing sub-personalities, and they are more or less directed towards a single goal,

but it depends on how committed you are to that goal, how much you have thought it through, much you buy into it, how many of the contradictions in your world representation you have managed to iron out, and all of that So, but in any case, it's value systems that govern action and perception, and so, we are going to take an existentialperspective, a phenomenological and an existential perspective in this course, and

phenomenological means that we are going to we are going to base our presuppositions on the idea that what you experience is real, all of it we are not really dividing the world into object and subject, that isn't how this particular approach works, it's more like you have a field of experience, it includes things like pain, which is not really something objective, I mean

but it's real, I mean, one of the things I've come to understand is...don't.... You are not required to believe what I am telling you, by the way If you have an argument about, why some of this doesn't make sense then, you know, follow that sucker, because I am trying to tell you what I have reached with regards to bedrock presuppositions, and I haven't been able to put prybars underneath them, but that doesn't mean you won't

and, you know, you should try, anyways Moral system, tells you how to act what to see, and a shared moral system keeps your emotions under control, and fulfills your motivational needs Now there is this old idea, of David Hume's

and David Hume famously, posited, that you cannot derive and ought from and is and what he meant by that was that merely knowing the objective facts about something does not tell you how to implement those facts in your life

and that's actually a gap, now, you could say, and I think that this is the case that is a necessary consequence of the scientific endeavour, because one of the things you are trying to do as a scientist is to strip away the value of the object, right, because I don't care what your idiosyncratic notion of the object is I want to know how you perceive the object such that everyone else will perceive it at least that way

and so that takes the subjectivity completely out of it, and so it might just be a necessary consequence of the scientific method that it doesn't have a morality implicit in it people argue about that, Sam Harris, for example, argues, he believes that we can come up with a scientific morality I don't believe that, because I don't think that you can make rational judgments about value, it's too complicated it's far to complicated, it's something that has to emerge, it can't be

I mean Marxism was supposed to be a scientific Utopia predicated on scientific principles, and all of that, and you know, it just didn't work Anyways, so I kind of buy Hume's argument that you cannot derive an ought from an is, now that's a problem first of all it's a problem because you have factual knowledge but you don't know how to implement it, you know, it's like

should you spend money on AIDS or should you spend money on cancer or should spend money on higher education how the hell are you going to calculate that rationally you can't because you just don't have the information at hand It's not possible to you know, I worked for a U.N. committee at one point and, the U.N. committee had like a hundred proposals for how the world could be improved, but there was no order to them, it's like it wasn't, this is more important than this, it's like, well

that's the end of that, you know, you have got to start with something and so that means you have to make something more important that other things, obviously in your life if everything is of equal importance then you are paralyzed Now you know, it's a truism and probably an oversimplfied one that since the dawn of the scientific revolution

a wedge has been driven through the heart of our societies, such that the moral systems that we use to unite us so those would be religious systems, fundementally have been subject to an intense critique from the scientists, and you know it's a pretty effective critique

even if you have maintained a traditional faith, it's like the scientific onslaught is no joke and that's a problem as far as I can tell because and the problem is that you are still left with the problem of how you should act and Nietzsche, the philosopher Nietzsche he would say that

we are running on the fumes of Christianity in the West because over it's thousand years of domination, let's say 1500 years of absolute domination it produced a consensus of morality that was predicated on metaphysical presuppositions and that organized societies and those societies are predicated on certain beliefs, like the belief in really I would say in something divine inhabits each individual

you know, that sort of the presumption that is embedded in law, sort of the idea that underlies the idea of natural rights, right there is something about you that is so valuable that even the law has to bow to it even if you are reprehensible, even if you are convicted and reprehensible Now that's, man the idea that people came up with that idea, that's a bloody miracle, you know because

generally speaking your proclivity is that if someone is being even accused of doing something , the general human proclivity is that if someone is just been accused of doing something terrible that's enough so that you can stone them to death or do whatever you are going to do with them presumption of innocence before guilt, good God of all the things that aren't automatic, that's got to top the list

you know, it's unbelievable that occurs and it is interesting to me because it seems to me that that presupposition that there is something valuable, transcendent about each individual I wouldn't call that a scientific presupposition, but it seems to be a highly functional presupposition, right I think, in that

it isn't unreasonable to notice that societies that have valued the individual and made the law, subject to the individual even with regard to voting because that's basically what voting does, it puts sovereignty the hands of the people those societies actually seem to work Now, whether they will work for the next 300 years who the hell knows, but they work pretty well for the last 500 years, let's say

We've got it pretty good right now, and, you know, I suspect most of you are rather pleased that the law recognizes you value as individuals and you take that for granted, right, you think you have rights and of course the rights you have, natural rights, are logical consequences of your transcendent value, and that is nested in, this is Nietzche's observation

that is nested in a set of metaphysical beliefs and his idea was that if you wipe out, wipe out the metaphysical beliefs eventually you wipe out the whole system because you have knocked out the cornerstone and it might take a long time for the thing to shake and fall, but, it will

now, whether he was right or not is hard to say it looks to me like what has happened since Nietzsche announced the death of God in say the late 1800's is that Western society has oscillated between extremes you know, extremes on the right Germany

extremes on the left and you know, with the democracies, at least the other democracies the democracies managing to stay the course somewhere down the middle but but it is not obvious to me that that can be maintained

without the underlying metaphysics and that is a problem because whatever you might say about the underlying metaphysics it is not true the way that science is true and that could be OK because there might be more than one form of truth, in fact, I think there is I think that there is pragmatic truth, and

I think that pragmatic truth is actually deeper than scientific truth and pragmatic truth is the truths that enable you to act in a manner that best that improves the probability, roughly speaking, of your existence and reproduction maximally that is a Darwinian idea, one of the things about the Darwinian theory this kind off puts it in opposition to scientific materialism I would say, is that the Darwinian theory is that you do not have privileged knowledge of the world

and you can actually tell that because, you die if you knew enough about the world, you would not die, and you do die and so you are embodied theory of sorts and that theory is good enough to get you along about 80 years and produce some reasonable probability that you'll have children and that they will survive, that's it, man, that's what you have managed after 3 billion years of evolution

it's a good enough solution it's a good enough way of acting, and we don't know a better way of acting, and our world conceptions are actually nested inside the Darwinian system and , they might be predicated on pragmatic truths rather than objective truths, pragmatic truths are truths that have functional utility and we are alive, we care about being alive

we tend to use our theories as tools it's possible that our theories are tools and that they are tools to help us stay alive Now, I was reading a bit about Camille Paglia, the other day and ah, I have noticed some similarities between, she's a famous

gadfly, I would say of feminists classic modern feminists, although she would regard herself as a feminist Unbelievably smart, like if you want to watch someone whose verbally Who has verbal mastery beyond belief You could watch Camille Paglia, she seems a little manic to me, she can

rap off an argument at a rate that's just mind-boggling and is very coherent, and she tends to shred her opponents in arguments, she is so brilliant She said something interesting, and she has been influenced by some of the same people I have been influenced by, she liked this book by Erich Neumann called " The Origins and History of Consciousness" which I would recommend if you are interested in Jungian theory, Carl Jung It's a good introduction to Jungian theory and it's about the development of consciousness

and, It's predicated like Jung's work, and Joseph Campbell's work and Mircea Eliade's work, all which has been criticized or ignored by the post-modernists Predicated on the idea that human beings have a central narrative and that, that central narrative is

the dramatic expression of the necessary human system of values and that is built into us it's part of our nature, we have a nature as human beings we're not, infinitely malleable by culture

which is a post-modernist claim and a dangerous one It's dangerous if we have a nature Paglia has this idea, that the reason that you come to university and you study the humanities, or the proper reason if you do that is not to engage in premature and destructive critisism

of something that you don't even yet understand but to, learn, as much as you can about art and literature and poetry and drama and fiction

and religious thinking and this all kind of a, you can think about it as a What is that? What is all that? It's art, it's culture, music belongs in that category and like, what the hell, what about music, it's like everyone loves it, or almost everyone

It's a mystery, you listen to music and it is very meaningful I mean music gets people through some pretty dark times, why? It's not obvious, that for sure you know, and in most cultures music plays a very central role in identity formation,and you guys, I think you will probably find as you age that your favorite music

will be the music that you listened to between the ages of 16 and 20 It's kind of like it imprints on you and it defines a, maybe it defines a generation and maybe, in our tribal past, and this is highly likely When you were being inculcated into the tribal culture, That was inculcated with dance, and with masks

and with music, all at the same time, so you are invited to participate in this drama and to take your place in this drama and to think of that as a representation of the objective world is just not right, that isn't what it is It's an invitation to a drama now then the question might be, well, is the drama real? and the answer to that is,

It depends on what you mean by real. I think that great dramas are more real than real, they're hyperreal They're They're hyper real because they provide guidelines about how to act that are abstract and even perhaps generic, but applicable across an extraordinary broad range of situations So, imagine this

you know, you get up in the morning you do a bunch of things and someone asks you what you are doing, what you did and you you know, you tell them, well the first thing I did this morning was open my eyes the second thing was think about whether or not I wanted to go back to sleep, and then you know, I took off my blankets and then I put my feet on the floor

and I stood up, and I was blinking while I was doing all this, and I was also breathing and then, you know I looked for my clothes, and do you really want to listen to that guy? You don't want to listen to that guy. It's like, why are you telling me that ?I want you to tell me something interesting. Well, what is it that is interesting? And why isn't that interesting?

It's not obvious. So, so then imagine the guy actually tells you a pretty good story, a little adventure. Probably, he was doing something normal, something unexpected happened he had to conjure up some new responses he either settled the problem, or he didn't settle the problem, yeah, you're interested in that.

Especially if he settled the problem because if he can tell you how when he encountered some unexplored territory he was able to sew it back together then, maybe you can do that thing happens and that's pretty cheap wisdom for you, he had to go through all the aggravation of figuring it out and all you have to do is listen

you know, and that's kind of a classic story, the classic story roughly speaking is There is a guy, women, doesn't matter going about their life relatively normally, something blindsides them and they are in a state of chaos chaos is a place

chaos is the place that you end up when what you are doing and the world stop matching, and the chaos can be of different degrees , you know you could wake up and find that your house was burgled, you could wake up and find that a parent has Alzheimer's, or some fatal disease or that you do or that your whole family was murdered, or that there is a war starting, you know there are different degrees of chaos and

I think that you can Quantify the chaos by calculating how much of what you do and expect is likely to be disrupted by the event now, because that, the more disruption, the more destabilized you are going to be, which is why if someone tells you that you are going to perish painfully in 3 months, it's like

That's a bad one you're really in an unexpected territory there, nothing that you assumed that was real, roughly speaking, in the world is real anymore We like to watch people, in their normal life blindsided by something experiencing this interregnum of chaos where they explore

and gather new information and retool their character, or retool the world because either of those would work as a solution and then, come out the other side and things are better than they were to begin with or at least as good, but, better is better, that's a happy ending, right? That's a happy ending, that's a comedy. technically speaking, and so

what you want, you want your life to be a comedy not that it's supposed to be funny because comedy doesn't have to be funny, technically speaking it's just the opposite of tragedy tragedy is when you are going along pretty well and you get blindsided, and that's that and, you know, that can certainly happen, it happens to people all the time. It's a comedy that you want.

Now, what I hope to provide you with is a magic code You know, there was a book published a while back Tom Hanks was in the movie he was a Harvard professor who went around solving symbolic mysteries

Do you remember what is was called? The Da Vinci Code, every one liked that, it sold a lot and it was full of little mysteries, it was full of hints that there was more to the world than you think, and, which is definitely true and that, you know, there is a way of getting access to that knowledge and it would be really worthwhile and people like that idea, and the reason for that is because it is actually, it's true.

It's true it's true like like fiction is true, so OK let's go back to the guy who is telling you about his morning well he tells you something exciting well then imagine that 10 people tell you exciting, and then, you extract out the pattern of them dealing with this problem

from that, and do then you have a, that's what you do when you are an author Right, because in a book you don't want the book exactly to be about what ordinary people do in ordinary times in thier life You already know hoe to be ordinary during ordinary times of your life, what, that's not useful you know, you wouldn't watch a video tape of yourself Imagine you videotaped yourself during a day, and then the next day you watched that

It's like, God, who would want to do that So what seem to happen in stories is that they distill They distill so they, they watch people, people watch people and then they tell stories about what they see, but they leave a lot out of those stories Everything that is boring, hopefully, and then

more and more stories about exciting things get sort of aggregated, and then maybe a great writer comes along and writes something really, really interesting profound character transformations and then, well you say "That's fiction" and then you say, "That's not true" because it's fiction

but then, then maybe that's not right maybe it's more than true because who wants the truth, the truth is mundane reality and you have already got that mastered What you want is the distillation of interesting experience and you might think, well why is it interesting, well that a really good question, because you don't actually know

and believe me, you really don't know because you will be interested in things that just don't make any sense at all I am going to walk a bit today through Pinocchio, and we will do that more the next time too You know, but I want to tell you a little bit about that movie to begin with just so you know how crazy you are so, you know the plot, how many people have seen the Disney movie Pinocchio? so lot's of people, so that's strange enough

in itself that so many people have seen it and it's worth thinking about, you know, you tend to show your kids that movie and, but if you think about the movie it's you are doing some pretty weird things when you are sitting there watching that movie, man. First of all, it's drawings, right and they are low resolution drawings You don't care, and you watch the Simpsons or maybe, what's that called

the one that's been concentrating on political correctness so much [Students]: South Park South Park! God that animation man, it's just awful Right, it is just horrible, it couldn't be worse you don't care, like, Round heads, smile little bit of shuffling, that's a person as far as you're concerned

it's just irrelevant and if it was higher resolution, it wouldn't help You just need the bare bones, right to hang your perceptions on So, so you watch this drawing, that's Pinocchio, beautiful drawings, animated in a sequence

You are not watching something real, you are watching a pure construction and then you think about the plot, it's like It's completely absurd, everything about it is absurd, it's like Well, one of the characters is a bug and he turns out to be like the conscience, and so, what the hell is with that? and then, another character is this puppet, marionette, and,

you know, somehow he gets free of his strings and then goes on this adventure and then and then you know he gets enticed into various nefarious places by a fox and a cat and then, he rescues his father from a whale and you don't even know how his father got in the whale, it's like the last time you see his father

he was in a rainstorm and the next thing that happens is, he is in a whaleand you are sitting there thinking, "Hey, no problem, this all makes sense." It's like, what? really? Why? How does that make sense? Well the answer is you don't know

That's the thing that is so cool you don't know, you don't even know what you are watching but it doesn't matter You watch it, and you are interested in it, you want to see what the hell happens to this puppet You want to see if he ends up becoming a real boy. because there's, it seems important

Well, you say, "Is Pinocchio true?" Well that's a stupid question. It's partly a stupid question because the answer is it depends on you mean by true and, it isn't obvious to me what you should mean

when you say that something is true and the reason it is not obvious is because, We have this idea in our society, and it's a very profound idea and that idea is that the ultimate truth is scientific truth That that tells us about the nature of the world, and it does that in a final way in some sense, there is no brooking any arguments about it

The physicists have got it right, and that's why they can make hydrogen bombs, and that's a pretty good demonstration of their being right but you don't act as if that's true and you don't and you watch things and pay attention to things and are captivated by things that aren't predicated on those assumptions and, it seems, to me, that

There is a problem of what the world is made out of, but there is a bigger problem and that is the problem of how you should conduct yourself in the world And that is what you really want to know, people want to know that more than anything Because you need to know, it's like, here you guys are in university, you don't know what you are doing I mean, some of you know more than others but you are at the beginning of your life and

life is very complex and chaotic and It isn't exactly obvious, you know, what kind of relationship you should form, or what sort of character you should develop or what you are going to do for a job, or what's the meaning of life, that's a good one, what's the meaning of life Well, and you know, people come to university, at least many of them, and that's kind of what they want to find out

Now Paglia, her notion is that you could think about it this way, is that articulated knowledge is embedded in inarticulate knowledge and inarticulate knowledge is, a domain of literature and art high culture let's say

and it's, we sort of know what it means but we don't know exactly know what it means, it means more than we know and then outside of that is what we don't know at all and that's an idea that Jung developed as well and maybe Paglia picked it up from Jung because Jung believed that you know, there was this domain that we had mastered

in every domain, and then there was domain outside of that you could think of as unexplored territory and what we met unexplored territory with was our creative imagination and what we were trying to do with our creative imagination is to figure out how to deal with that unexplored territory, we are producing dramas that we could act out that would help us deal with what we still hadn't mastered

and outside of that there is just what we don't know at all and Paglia's idea, and this was Jung's idea was that without understanding that surround you are too atomized you are not part of your historical tradition you haven't incorporated the spirit of your ancestors

who built all this you're just here now and, and you don't know what to do either, you don't know how to maintain your culture and you don't know how to serve it and, you know you might say why should you serve your culture and,

well I have a hypothesis about that, you know You can think about this, I don't know if it's true but People ask what the meaning of life is, and it seems to me that Meaning is proportionate to the adoption of responsibility You know, like let's say have a little sister who's like three

you are going to take care of her Questioning whether that is a good idea seems stupid You know what I mean, it just doesn't seem like the right kind of question It's like, well obviously self evidently, let's say, that's what you do and, do you find it meaningful, it's like probably

you know, interacting with a little kid when I had little kids, you know when they were like two and under we took them out to seetheir relatives and they were older people you know, they watched that two year old like it was a fire you know, every second that that little kid was in the room

every single adult was focused on, focused on , on him or her That is something that people attend to , and that's a source of meaning and, what else is meaningful, well your family relationships are meaningful to you and maybe the responsibility that you adopt as a friend, that seems meaningful maybe your decision to pursue a particular career and be of some utility

in society, you know, part of that's governed by your desire to establish some security and get ahead, it's fine but You are also playing an integral role in the maintenance of the structure that supports you and, my observation has been that in my clinical practices people just have a hell of a time if they don't have if they don't slot in somewhere, you know

You know, I got to go to work at 9:00 in the morning and you know I have got this rigid schedule, it's like It's probably a good idea to be grateful for that, because what I have noticed is that if people pull out from those externally scaffolded systems they drift they get depressed, they get anxious, they don't know what to do with themselves you know they are kind of like sled dogs with no sled and we are kind of like sled dogs as far as I can tell, beasts of burden, we need a load, man, we need a load

and the question is what sort of load do you need and here is why I think we need, we need that You know, there is I've been thinking about how to figure out what is real for a long time, and, because I am an existentialist

I'm operating under the presupposition that you can tell what people believe by watching how they act I don't care what they say, I don't care what their statements are about their view of reality because the correlation, the relationship between that and their actual actions is, not certainly not perfect and sometimes doesn't even exist One thing that I've noticed is that people

no one argues with their own pain Everyone who hurts acts as if they believe that pain is real So we could say the ultimate reality is pain That's how people act

it's in keeping with the claims of many religious tradiations, you know The Jews are always recollecting past pain I mean the Christian God is a crucified person, I mean there is a fair bit of pain there, for the Buddhists the fundamental maxim is that life is suffering and it seems to me that there is a metaphysical claim there the metaphysical claim is that

pain is real now of course it depends on what you mean by real but people act as if their pain is real, so that's a good place to start Now, that poses a problem Life is a pain Life is suffering, let's say, and why is that?

Well, it's because you can be broken hurt and destroyed So, that seems pretty self evident and worse you know it and that makes people unique, like, that's our self conciousness, right? That's really what separates us in some sense from other creatures

I mean, other creatures have some self conciousness, like a chimp can learn to recognize itself in a mirror, and so can a dolphin, but You know that's pretty bare bones self conciousness, you know real self consciousness is the knowledge of your borders and not only in space, but in time and as far as I can tell human beings are the only creatures that discovered the future

and that's really good because we can plan for the future, but it's really bad because, you know the future is finite and that a big shock to the old system and it's the existential burden that everybody bears and it is associated integrally with suffering and so then you think, well life is suffering and it's finite and that is part of the suffering that's part of what makes you question the value of existing and maybe the value of existance itself

So then what do you have to use as a weapon against that Well, you know we talked a little bit about responsibility, that seems to work, you know The amount of responsibility that you adopt in relationship to things seems to increase your meaningful engagement, and you might say, well what's the most meaningfully engaged activity, and you might say, well How about a little reduction in the old suffering?

You know, so you live your life so that you are not causing undue pain, especially pointless pain that would be good, and maybe you could even be more useful than that and you could figure out some ways that some suffering yours, other peoples, both if you are really hitting a home run, maybe you can figure out some way that some of that could be rectified, and that seems to be meaningful in and of itself, I mean if it's pain that makes you doubt the meaning of life, which is perfectly reasonable

then this cessation of pain the cessation of suffering, the minimization of suffering as a logical corollary should be the proper medication and so I would say that means that there is some mode that you can conduct yourself in that makes you a good person

and, part of being a good person is to alleviate suffering and I don't get think you get to question that actually if if the suffering itself is what is making you question the validity of your life then

you can't also say that the cessation of that is not useful I mean you can but it's completely incoherent, you can claim incoherent things if you want So then I would say, these distilled stories that I am talking about the stories that are written, say, by great authors I am particularly fond of Dosytoevsky,

whose works are he is head and shoulder above anyone I have ever read in terms of writers of fiction, he deals with the hardest questions that human beings face and, he, he has characters on both sides of the argument, and they're, they really lay out the arguments

it's not like Dostoevsky, has a belief so he has a character and that character has his beliefs and that character always wins the arguments that doesn't happen is a Dostoevsky novel at all he sets up a character and then he sets up 3 or 4 antagonists and those antagonists they are not straw men, they're like iron giants they just stomp his protagonist, and the whole thing is a war between these

different conceptions of being, it's amazing to see, it's amazing to read. so you distill these stories, great authors distill stories great storytellers distill stories and we have stories that are very, very, very old those are usually religious stories of one form or another, but they can be fairy tales because fairy tales, some people have traced fairy tales back more than 10,000 years

and so they are a part of an oral tradition and, oral traditions can last for tens of thousands of years and You know, a story that has been told for 10,000 years is a funny kind of story, it's like, people have remembered it and, obviously modified it, it's like the game of telephone where I tell you something and you whisper it to the person next to you and so on It's like a game of telephone that has gone on for a thousand generations and all that's left is what people remember and maybe they remember what is important, because you tend to remember what is important

It isn't necessarily the case you know what the hell it means, you don't know what music means but you know it doesn't stop you from listening to it You don't know generally speaking what a movie that you see or a book that you read means not if it is profound, it means more than you can understand because otherwise, why read it

Well, so the idea is this, that we are necessarily nested inside moral systems, the moral systems are predicated on narratives, narrative dramas of sorts and, the moral systems are what orients us in life and the reason to understand them, to the degree that you can

is because you need to know how to live Nietzsche said that if you had a why, you could bear any how. and that's good, one of the things that the Auschwitz guards used to do to the prisoners and this is very telling, so at Auschwitz there was a sign that said "Work will make you free"

it was a little joke not really a very funny joke It's the kind of joke that you have to be satanic, is the appropriate term, to conceptualize and to dare to to state

so when the Auschwitz prisoners came to Auschwitz, they were already pretty pretty rough shape, they were in cattle cars they had been separated from their families, everything had been taken from them they were transported for a long time, they were standing up the kids suffocating because there was no room, it was so packed in there they didn't have anything to eat, there weren't any toilet facilities of any sorts, it was like

You got rid of 20% of the people just transporting them, the one on the outside of the cars they froze to death because of course it was cold and pretty nasty and when they got to Auschwitz, the guards use to have this game that they would play this is part of the work will set you free thing They would get a prisoner, take a prisoner

who is already in pretty rough shape and then have them carry a sack of wet salt, a 100 pounds from one side of the camp to the other and, when you think of a camp you think of something like a football field, maybe something that big, fences around it, like no way man these were cities, there were tens of thousands of people in these places

so from one side of the camp compound to the other, that was a good hike and that wasn't bad enough, they had to get them to , carry it back and put it the same place Now, that's poetic in it's malevolence, you know what you are doing is you're harnessing the human compulsion to engage in useful activity and demonstrating how absolutely futile that is despite it's difficulty

seems like a bad thing to do people need it's a parody of meaninglessness, that's what that is and you know, people need meaning in their lives because their lives are difficult and so , the question is to what end should you devote your life

and another question might be does it matter matter is an interesting word, because matter is matter, but matter is also what matters and I would say that what matters is more than real than matter at least that's how you act, and then the question is, well, is there something that you should be aiming at It's a good question, that's the question of the meaning of life and when one of the things that is supposed to happen when you come to university

is that the sort of question that should be addressed and as far as I can tell and this just might be my more cynical side, what I see happening to university students, generally speaking is that they come in clinging to the wreckage of their culture and, floating, with the pieces and,

those pieces are taken away by professors who tell them that everything can be deconstructed and no, nothing has any real meaning, it's like when you are finally educated it's when floating out on the ocean and you've got nothing to stay afloat with, then, you are done and you can graduate, and it's like I don't see that as useful

quite the contrary So let me tell you a story The first thing I am going to propose to you, and we are going to talk a lot, is that, you inhabit a story, that the framework through which you look at the world is actually a story, and here is the story The story is you are somewhere

and you are going somewhere and that can be conceptual or whatever, it's that there is a gradient between where you are and where you are aiming at, which means no more really than you are doing something while you are sitting there and hypothetically you are aiming for something better and so, you are in a state of insufficiency

always the insufficiencies change and then you are trying to rectify the insufficiency and and you presume that your current state is less preferable to the state that you are aiming at and then, the way that you bring those two together is, sometimes you can do that through thinking

but fundamentally you do it through action you do it through acting in the world and so that's sort of that's sort of the answer in some sense to the mind body problem you have a conceptual structure, but when you implement it, you're implementing, it not abstractly, you are implementing through action, so that's the basic story, it's not a very interesting story

but it's the framework through which you view the world, so it's a value laden framework Otherwise you wouldn't be able to act and you wouldn't know what to look at so, it's a value laden framework you look at the world through a value laden framework so then we might say so what if the optimal value laden framework That's what we are going to try and figure out. now, I told you about the war that went on between

the Communists and the West and how that obsessed me and so one of the things that I really wondered about was, well was this just an arbitrary thing You know, like, did the Communists, they had some axioms, and we had some axioms so if you are a moral relativist you might say, well whose to say which set of axioms are better,

or even, whose to claim that you could say that a set of axioms, one set is better than another That's a moral relativist claim and you know fair enough! So I thought that maybe this is just an arbitrary thing and it is going to be settled by force Because that is how you settle an arbitrary claim between two competing systems where there is no room for negotiation So I thought about that for a long time, I wanted to know

what the roots were of the Marxist system and what the roots were of the Western system, and what I surmised was that the Western system was actually something that evolved whereas the Communist system was a rationalist construction that was imposed and they weren't the same thing, and so then I wondered, well what's Western culture grounded in and is there any reason to assume that that's real in any sense and so,

that's what took me into the study of the underlying stories fundemental stories upon which our culture, I believe, is based and some of those are very old I am going to tell you a Mesopotamian story, it's one of the oldest stories we know, I am going to tell you and Egyptian story Those are sources of our culture, and I think that those stories are grounded in much older traditions and I think that they refer to something real

actually real, now I already told you that, there are different ways of conceptualizing real and that, my initial hypothesis, presumption, axiom you might say is thatpain is the most real, and the reason I believe that is because that is how people act Now, you can criticize that

You can certainly come up with an alternate conceptual framework which the scientists have because they believe that the most real thing is matter maybe we need more than one set of tools to operate in the world it's possible So now I want to tell you what I think is the fundamental constituent elements are of

stories and, one of the things that I hope is that this, knowing this will make you immunize you against ideology and the reason I'm, because I believe that ideologies are fragmentary meta-narratives and they have their power because

they're grounded in the meta-narrative but they only tell part of the story but they have power, because they are grounded in the fundemental narrative and so, here is the fundamental narrative, the characters let's say we are going to say that people are prone to characterize the world, we are social primates we are social cognitive primates and we tend to see the world through the lens of a social creature

and so, and partly because we're concerned with acting in the world and the world the world is mostly other people then we conceptualize the ground of that structure for action in characterological terms so the, the must fundamental reality is, chaos and chaos is what you don't understand at all You can't even conceptualize it

you come into contact with it in bits and pieces when the towers fell, when the Twin Towers fell chaos reigned for a few days, everyone was shell shocked and that was chaos, and, chaos is what you experience when your story falls apart

and that is a descent into the underworld that's chaos, and basically you live in order and chaos, and order is where, when you do what you think you should do, what you want to have have happen, happens that is order, that is explored territory and chaos is when, you do what you are supposed to do to get what you want and it doesn't happen

and then that place that you are magically in when that happens, that's chaos and it has different depths, you could say it reaches all the way to Hell and that usually happens when your life falls apart very badly and you are down in that chaos and you realize that it was your fault and that you did something wrong

and that you knew it, and you ignored it That's the worst form of chaos So there is chaos itself and then then the next thing is fairly straightforward, you could think there is the individual the individual exists in culture

and culture is embedded in nature pretty straightforward, nature is Mother Nature for reasons we will get into and culture is "Father Culture" and I think that's because the fundamental dominance hierarchies in human primates are masculine and that Nature is assimilated to the feminine because it's

well for two reasons, first of all females do the sexual selection among human beings so that they are actually are nature from the Darwinian perspective and second, nature is the productive biological force and so we have always conceptualized males and females and we used that conceptualization to sort out the world at large

it's a metaphor but it's not just a metaphor, it's reasonable to consider culture as a judgmental father, it's really reasonable because you know you have a group of people around you, some friends some people that watch you work, some judges and that stretches across a very long expanse of time , and

those people as an aggregate, make an entity that is judging your reputation constantly and it is perfectly reasonable to personify that because it's like a metaperson that is watching you and so, it's a useful metaphor, there is a metaperson that is watching you

Well, yeah there is, obviously so, now, you could say well that's not real, it's like, it's not real the way a scientific truth is real, it is a different kind of real Well nature has two elements, destructive and creative, obviously there is the beauty of nature in it's bountiful element and there is

Anopheles mosquitoes and elephantiasis and cancer and starvation and all the terrible elements of nature and then there is culture, and culture is tyrannical, because you have to shape yourself, involuntarily even to get along with other people, you sacrifice a lot of yourself, and develop yourself, but you sacrifice a lot of yourself in that endeavor, right we have to kind of average ourselves out in order to

to live together, and some societies are more tyrannical that others but there is always a tyrannical element, you see that in university, you know, you guys know, that to some degree, this is such a big place it's easy to feel like a number here, and that, whether you are here or not doesn't matter the institution doesn't care, well that's the tyrannical element of it now it does care, because here you are and you are getting educated and all that

and so maybe that's positive but it's got both, these characters always have two sides you know, there's negative side and the positive side of nature and there is the negative side and the positive side of culture and then there is the individual so the individual is like standing on an island in the midst of an ocean that's a good

imagistic conceptualization of your position there is solid ground, it has a limited expanse and outside of that is everything you don't understand and you as an individual have a positive and a negative element as well and that's the hero and the villain and of course what good is a story without a hero and a villain and the villain is the person who isn't acting like a person should act and the hero is acting like a person should act

and so when you go to movies and you read books and there are heroes and there is villians and to some degree what you are doing is fleshing out your notion of a villain you know you read about 30 villains and you think well there is something villainous about the villains that is the central element of villainy whatever that is and, you can imagine you construct out a metavillain

and a metahero, and those are the characters in religious stories, generally speaking you know, and in the Marvel movies there is Odin, and Odin has two sons right, Thor and Loki, and Thor is like Thor is the world redeeming hero and Loki is the trickster who wants to bring everything down, and

you have to recognize that in yourself or it's useful to because otherwise you underestimate [student entering] Is this positive psyche? No, it's Maps of Meaning Positive psyche...[laughter] It's definitely not that...[laughter]

Why might you be villainous? Well first of all because you can be, that 's a big deal you can be, it's actually an offshoot of empathy this is something that took me decades to figure out I figured it out when I was studying the book of Genesis

because in the book of Genesis people become self conscious, and they immediately have the knowledge of good and evil I just couldn't figure that out, it's like what the hell is the relationship between that and then really, I tell you I thought about that for like 30 years trying to puzzle that out, and then I realized what it was If you are self conscious

you can conceptualize yourself as a being you know that you are and you know what you're like and you know what hurts you and what doesn't and soon as you know what hurts you you know what hurts her

and so that is the knowledge of good and evil that comes along with being self conscious this is something that distinguishes human beings from every other animal you know, a lion will eat you but it doesn't really want to tear you apart slowly just for the fun of it well, it eats you, it just wants to eat you

you know, you could call that evil, it sucks that for sure but, animals are beyond good and evil in that sense, but human beings, man we can aim our malevolence and we are really good at it because we can imagine, God this would hurt, and if it hurts me, man, it's really going to hurt you so, and you need to know that you are like that, because you are like thatand it you don't know that you are like that, or if you don't think that you are like that

you are more even like that than you think because the people who are most like that are people who don't think that they are like that at all and you have to contend with that and that's why in many systems of thinking the world is conceptualized as a battle between good and evil and it's an appropriate conceptualization it's a meta-conceptualization, and

the culture is the wise king and the tyrant and that's always the case and you are always stuck with that because as an individual, with your negative and your positive side your negative side is the resentful side that is irritated and the limited conditions of being and the suffering that entails and it's arbitrary and unfair nature and no wonder, like, you got, that side has a case to make

and it is not trivial In the Brothers Karamazov, that argument is laid out beautifully, there is a character, Alyosha, who is a monastery novitiate and not really a sparkling intellect but a very good person, and he has a brother Ivan, and Ivan is, a vicious genius and Ivan just takes Alyosha apart, and partly does that by telling a story about Dostoyevsky took this from a news story

the news story was that this mother and father had taken their young daughter and locked her in the outhouse overnight when it was 30 below, and she stayed out there crying and screaming and froze to death and Ivan basically said to Alyosha, you know, A world in which that could happen should not be It's a good argument, you know and you can multiply that by millions of examples

so the part of us that is opposed to being and resentful it's got a point man, the problem as far as I can tell is that, if you act that out then it makes what you are objecting to worse now you might be happy about that and you might think, well people couldn't be consciously

pursuing that, but, yes they can I would recommend a book called Panzram if you are interested in that sort of thing it's a book written by a man who raped 1200 men and killed dozens and burned things down to the ground every chance that he got and tried to start a war between England and the U.S. and who was aimed at nothing but mayhem

and he wrote an autobiography at the request of a doctor who had befriended him, and he tells you exactly what he did and why this story hero and adversary order and tyranny, destruction and creation that's the basic landscape, and outside of that chaos, and so let's take a break

Here is another way of looking at this, idea the individual is the person who pays attention and explores, and masters, or who looks away and the the person who inhabits an explored territory

and this is unexplored territory and so, wherever you go there is you and the half, the two halves of you that you have to contend with, and wherever you are with people there is the society with it's tyrannical and beneficial nature and the society in some sense is that match between what you are doing and what's happening it's really important to get that right, and unexplored territory, that where ever

and whenever, what you are doing stops working and so, it's not exactly a geographical idea, you know, because when you think of explored territory you think of geographic landscape, like the domain of an animal, like your house and, you know, that's that's definitely and element of it , but you know, if you're in your house and a snake comes into your living room and you are in there it's like, well

that's an important difference between your house 1 second ago and your house now and so your house can turn into unexplored territory at the drop of a hat, and that is because we live in space and time and so the unexplored territory is conceptual, it's a conceptual territory and it's just wherever you are when things aren't working for you the way they are supposed to be and so, and these are permanent parts of the human experience

which is why I think that they are fundamental characters in our narratives there is always you, there is some subject of the story and that subject is an ambivalent person with many different potentials and you are always somewhere, with other people, because that's our territory, right, I mean

we are social beyond comprehension and you know even our primate ancestors, most of their territory was other primates, and their brains, and our brains, are specialized to view the world as an aggregation of personalities It's really important to us, and so we tend to view the whole world that way and, then, unexplored territory, well that's where, you don't know what to do

and, but, you know you do know what to do when you don't know what to do peculiarly enough, it's rather non-specific, it's this generalized stress response and so what happens is you freeze, roughly speaking, if the threat is enough, then you produce a lot of cortisol and a lot of adrenaline so that you're bloody well ready to move quick in whatever direction you have to and then, maybe you pay more attention

and that's what you do when you don't know what to do, and the problem with that is that you can stay in that state forever, man that is kind of what post traumatic stress disorder is, it's like you are just like that all the time and the problem with that is, it's very uncomfortable, I mean You stay like that for any length of time you are going to get depressed you are going to develop an anxiety disorder, you are going to get old

because, you're burning up resources like mad, you know, your system is shunting everything to maintain that state of emergency preparation and it's exhausting it's not where you want to be so, that's partly why people are so prone to

defend their territories, their familiar territories because if their familiar territory is invaded or disrupted then they default back to this state of emergency preparation and that's like that can unglue you, if it's profound enough you know and you guys know this already, I mean I think that people experience this most particularly

when they are betrayed by someone they have an intimate relationship with you know, when they are lied to there are other ways the collapse of a dream or a vision that you've been pursuing or an illness or the death in a family, there are lots of other ways, but betrayal is a really good one because, if you are with someone for a long time, you trust them

you have a representation of your past, you have a representation of you in the relationship you have a representation of them, you have a representation of relationships you have a representation of the future you get betrayed, it's like, poof, even the past isn't what you thought it was you know, and what about you How clueless are you ?

and maybe not at all, or ultimately gullible, you don't know, is it your fault? are you so clueless that just can't protect yourself or was the person malevolent in some subtle way that you failed to detect everything is up in the air not good, and this idea that human beings travel to the underworld and come back it's a really useful thing to understand because

we do that all the time whenever we fail, it's like, whoop, down into the underworld for a while where everything is in chaos and then maybe we sort ourselves out and, bang, we are back up and so, one way of conceptualizing yourself is not as order, and not as chaos

but as the thing that traverses between the two domains and that I would say is mythological hero so, I am going to start talking to you about Pinocchio a little bit weirdly enough I hope you enjoy this

and the reason I want to do it is because I want to put some I want to bring what I told you abstractly down to earth and then you can start thinking, well, do the conceptions that I have introduced to you, are they good for anything do they help?

that's the, order descent into chaos, reestablishment of order that's paradise lost, profane history paradise regained, it's the classic comedy and that's the story of life and so,

the question is how do you manage it? and so, that's a question you really want to know the answer to so you will go you will pay money, weirdly you'll line up and pay money to see a story about that, even if you don't even know what that stories about

and the reason for that actually part of you does know what the story is about you know, you have, your cognition has multiple layers you understand things that you don't know that you understand in ways that you don't understand, and you can tell that because, you know

we talked about Pinocchio a little bit, how absurd it is and that it doesn't matter, well [Student] I have a question, so we have been talking, chaos is when people don't do what they expect you to do in a negative sense, something bad happens to you. what if the reaction is extremely positive, like something winning the lottery Do you also go into the stress response, or?

So it would be the same thing... [JBP] No it's not quite the same thing, it's a good question and we will address that we will address that I mean, winning the lottery is generally not a good idea for people you know, because it's just too much it's too much for them

flips their lives upside down so, and they tend, at best, to return to their original baseline level of emotionbut yes, something remarkably good I mean, it's a lot better that something remarkably bad, obviously, but it still can have that destabilizing effect

so, depends on what elements of your life it disrupts like, in some sense you have a map that you are operating within, in the world and that map is predicated on assumptions of different sorts some shallow, some profound when the profound assumptions are devastated

huge chunks of the map are invalidated and that can happen sometimes when dramatically positive things happen as well so, but the fundamental rule is, the more of your axiomatic presuppositions are disrupted, the harder it is on you

you know, like maybe you quit your job because you won the lottery Hey, I am off to the beach, I am going to drink margaritas it's like that will work for about four days you know, you do that for three months you are a beach alcoholic, it's like that's a real improvement you know, so it's not that easy, often too if you take people out of their routine you know, they just flounder

their circadian rhythms go, they don't eat properly, they don't know what the hell to do you know, so this is often why people have such a hard time when they retire I am going to retire and relax, it's like if I relaxed for two weeks I would die you know, I need something to do

I need to be engaged in something so, OK Pinocchio, Disney movie, an early one, a masterpiece so I am going to walk you through it and I am going to tell you what I think it means, and

and you can tell me if you think that that is useful, and I am only going to do that for about ten minutes today because I do want to cover some of the details of the class and then next class we will continue with this, so So the movie opens, with the opening credits which are carved wooden signs, which is like a hint you know

because Geppetto is a carver, and it starts with this song which was actually quite a popular song and it's a bit of a what would you call it I don't think that it's, the poetry is particularly profound

but it was a song that people liked and people still listen to, and It's sets the tone for the movie, which is what music does one of the things that is really interesting about movies, that's really mysterious is that you know, if you go to a movie, there is almost always a soundtrack right, if you go to movie and there isn't a soundtrack

it kind of feels empty, it feels like there is something missing, and you know, it's as if the music You know, when you go to a movie there is lots of things you can't see, the characters are only partial, and you don't know anything about there background, so it's like a low resolution thing and what seems to happen with the music is that it's provides the emotional background

the complex context, let's say, it's like a substitute for the context and it guides you in your, in your perceptions of the movie it gives you hints about what is going to happen and, and, the funny thing about that is that we just don't have any problem with that you know, it's like , yeah of course a movie has a soundtrack and of course when there is a dramatic scene the music gets dramatic and

but that doesn't happen in real life so you would wonder why we would accept it in a movie, and I think it is partly because we are willing to accept the amplification of reality that constitutes a movie and in fact we find that compelling and music is one of the things that does that amplification the dramatization, and that's, that's acceptable to us

This song I find quite interesting so I am going to take it apart quite a bit,in some sense I feel foolish doing it because it's, you know, it's a childishit's a childish song in some ways but, but that's OK, "When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are" well, OK, there's some mysteries there

people wish upon stars, that's like a little ritual, right Why, do they do that? well, and what is exactly is a star that's another question because

there are stars that shine in the heavens and there are people who are stars and so, Why are people stars? Well they are usually famous people, right, they are people that who attract a lot of attention

and maybe they are people who, who have a lot of talent , that's a possibility Maybe they are models, I don't mean clothing models although sometimes they are, they are models for emulation that's what being a star means, that's why People magazine is full of stars it's like they're heroes brought to earth and of course you know nothing about them, all you know is their public persona and of course they are usually very attractive and so

that allows you to project upon them all the things that go along with ideal humanity and so they are stars and, but still, why stars? well stars beckon in the darkness, right? and they are other worldly that's the thing that's cool, they are not of this earth and I mean that

technically, because obviously they are not of this earth, but I also mean it I mean it, phenomenologically, I mean it as an element of human experiance, so most of you are urban and so, you have not had the experience of perhaps of the full night sky, and you know that is really to bad because

the full night sky is one of those experiences that actually induces awe naturally, you know, and no wonder you look up there and there are just stars everywhere right, you are looking at the edge of the galaxy, that's actually that's the Milky Way, right, it's the edge of the galaxy, it's like wrah! Wow! There is the edge of the galaxy

and there is just so many of them, and it's such an expanse, you are looking into infinity you are looking into the unknown, you are looking beyond yourself that's for sure and, you know, that produces a sense of awe in people, like looking at the Grand Canyon or something like that and, it's, you are looking at something that transcends yourself, but that feeling of awe, that seems to be something that's that's a natural part of our response

and, you know, you might feel awe when you meet someone that you regard as particularly admirable as well because you feel that there is something transcendent about them Here is an interesting thing to think about There are people you admire and there are people you don't admire and that's a clue right, that's a clue as to your value system, and

it might be not something that you can really put your finger on, it's like, you find this person captivating, you find this person admirable and it's as if there is something inside of you that is looking for what is admirable you know, assuming that you are and that person who is admirable has a faculty, some faculty that you would like to have for yourself

and so they are a model for emulation and that's part of how people develop, you know, like little kids often develop little hero crushes on older kids you know, not that much older but sort of the person that is just within their grasp and then they follow them around and imitate them and So they are imitating what they find admirable, well

The fact that you find something admirable is a hint as to the structure of your unconscious value system and so, you could think even as an exercise, you could think what qualities of a human being do I find admirable, you have to ask yourself that, in a sense, you can't really think about it, there is a difference between asking yourself a question and thinking about it You know, because, it's more like when you are asking yourself a question, it's contemplative Well, what do I find admirable?

It's a question, you don't know, and if you are fortunate, and this happens quite regularly, an answer will float up from wherever the hell answers float up and, Oh yeah that's one, and you can write that down you get some idea of what your ideal is, you know and, and you have one likely and what your counter-ideal is Star

Well, to wish upon a star is to raise your eyes above the horizon and to focus on something transcendent that is beyond you to focus on the absolute we could say, to focus on the light that shines in the darkness Now, a star is People wear diamonds because they are like stars or they are like the sun

and they are pure and perfect and they glitter, so there is something about the light too there is something about a source of light It's a source of illumination and enlightenment and the light that shines in the darkness is a deep metaphor, right, it's it's what you want, you want a light to shine in the darkness and so, the star has all of that, and so, people wish upon a star

because they have some intuition that aiming above the mundane has the potential to transform themselves, they make a wish, well If you are going to make a wish you should aim at something high! and even just aiming at that is more likely to make the wish come true, and this is not metaphor,

you know I have this program which you guys are going to do called the future authoring program it's one of two assignments, one is that you write an autobiography that's the past authoring, the other is that you write a plan for the future, that's the future authoring, I would recommend that you get started on those right now, like, not right now, but really soon because, they are harder than you think

and some of you are going to write like 15,000 words you are going to get sucked right in, this happens all the time, you are going to get sucked right into it and so, you write an autobiography because you need to know where you are and who you are, right now, because how the hell are you going to plot a pathway to the future unless you know where you are and then you need to write about the future because

you aren't going to hit something unless you aim at it that's for sure and lot's of times people won't aim at what they want because they are afraid the reason they are afraid is because if you specify what you want you have specified your conditions of failure you know when you fail and it is better to just keep foggy, it's like, well I don't know if I am succeeding or failing but

you know, I can't really tell. Well great! Except you can't hit anything you don't aim at and so, the future authoring program is like a it's an attempt to have your articulate you character and so is the past authoring program. Who are you? and, you know, the past authoring program asks you to break your life into epochs and then to write about the emotional, you know the things that you regard as important

Important events that have shaped who you are, and you know, you may find that some of those, some of that writing makes you emotional, and I would say if you have a memory that is more than 18 months old, roughly speakingand when you bring it to mind, it has an emotional impact especially a negative emotional impact it's like part of you soul is stuck back there

and, I know that that's a metaphorical way of thinking about, but what I mean is that The reason that you still experience the emotion is because you have not solved the problem that that situation faced you with, and it might be a real problem like maybe you got tangled up with someone who was really bad, and that's rough, man, because you have got to come up with a theory of malevolence to deal with something like that, and that's no joke but, if its still producing emotion, that means you have not solved the problem, and

your brain is still tagging it as threat, it's a part of you territory that you did not master threat, threat, threat, threat and until you take it apart, and articulation really helps that, writing really helps that then, you are not going to free yourself from it's grip and that, what might not be that pleasant, I mean this one of those situations where doing it tends to produce a decrement in peoples mood

in the short term, but quite radical improvements 3 to 6 months down the road you know it is often the case that you unfortunately have to do something you don't want to do in order to progress it's very, very common so, and the future authoring program asks you about different dimensions of your life Like, because you're, you can think of yourself as a personality inside your head but, you are nested in systems that transcend you, and they are just as real as whatever is in your head, its like

Well, what do you need for life? Well, that's pretty easy actually, some friends that's a good thing, intimate relationship, that's a good thing, a family, you know, either the one you are going to produce or the one that you come from where people to some degree, love and care for one another, that's a good thing to work on, You need, you need some plan for your career, you have got to fit in somewhere that people regard as

important and that they will trade with you so that you can live you need something worthwhile to do with the time that you are not at work and you need to, pay attention to you mental and physical health and you need to regulate your use of substances which is a strange one, but alcohol does lots of people in, so it's worth thinking about so that's why we put it in there So then it's like, what the hell do you want?

What do want from your friends? What do you want from your family? What do want from your career? If you could have what you wanted, and that's what the program asks you 3 to 5 years down the road, you get to have what you want Now I am assuming that you are going to approach this like

reasonable adults and not like 13 year old dreamers, I think, I want the most expensive yacht in the world It's like, fine but, you know that isn't really what, it's supposed to be more concentrating on your character and so, then it asks you to write for 15 minutes without thinking too much about grammer or sentence structure or any of that about what your life could be like in 3 to 5 years down the road if,

if you were treating yourself like someone you cared for and, you were helping them figure out what they wanted and then, it asks you to do the same thing in reverse which is to think about the ways that you're radically insufficient and your faults and everyone knows this I think, you know, maybe not

but everyone has a sense of if they were going to degenerate how they would do it you know, some people would be an alcoholic, some people would be a street person, and it's like there is some doom thing out there that is got your name on it if you are particularly incautious and you know, don't

and let things fall apart, so, want you to write about that what do you not want to have happen in 3 to 5 years and there is psychological for this, one is If you have something to aim for, that's a source of positive emotion because your positive emotion is mostly generated by evidence that you are moving towards something that you value it's not generated so much by accomplishing something

because when you accomplish something, you are just left with the problem of whatever you are going to do next so you graduate from university, it's like you know, hurray! one day you're at the peak of undergraduate university career, the next day you are unemployed and looking for a bad job at Starbucks so, you know

well you see what I mean, you know, it's that you know, one problem that you solve is replaced by another problem and so the idea that you are gong to be happy when you solve all your problems, is like Hahaha! Good luck with that theory but, but you know if you are aiming at something worthwhile, and you really believe that it is worthwhile

and you have thought it through, you know, so that you are not weak, you are not weak, you've got your damn arguments mustered then when you make progress, even a little bit, you think, hey, that's alright, and you get a little kick a little dopamine kick and that's what you want, because that's where your positive emotion comes from you can use cocaine if you want, but ha, but that tends to have relatively

detrimental medium to long term consequences but it activates the same system, so you have to aiming at something and you should be aiming at something that's realistic that you want that you could get, you know, like not easily

because if it's easy, in some sense you have already got it it's got to push you , and that's part of the pleasure actually because there is two things that want to do when you are pursuing something that is important and one of them is to get the thing that is important but the other is make yourself better at pursuing things right, so

so you can get both of those at the same time you're aiming at something and increasing your competence at the same time it's like, that's a good deal, that's a good deal and there is a lot of intrinsic meaning to be felt in that, and second half of the program you, you write out a plan

for how you are going to do it and how you are going to keep yourself on track and you are going to write about why it would be good for you if you did this and why it would be good for your family and what possible benefits it would have to the comminuty and. you know, because you want to nail this thing down and then you want to figure out what kind of obstacles are going to come up and how you might overcome them

and how you might keep yourself on track and all of that We know, because we have actually done a lot research on this particular program that if university students do this, and this is more true if they're not to well oriented to begin with if university students do this they are

about 25% less likely to drop out, which is a lot and about, their grade point average increases about 20% so, Hurray for that, because you never know when you develop an intervention if it's going to work there is also evidence, but not from my lab that doing such things improves your physical health

and I think the reason for that is, is that when you go over your autobiography and you scour out those negative places that you are sort of dragging along with you it lowers your overall stress load because your brain is kind of, I think it is calculating how dangerous the world is by attending to the ratio of successes to failures that you have had in your life, something like that and so

you know if there are holes in your map that you could still fall through then your brain regards the territory still as a bit on the dangerous side and then, you are more prepared for emergency action and that hard on you, so you want to go back there and fix up those experiences to the degree that you can Now,

those are going to be peer rated now that's complicated but here's how you do it write the thing so that you have written it for you and then take everything out that you are not comfortable sharing with other people

and so, there is a couple of reasons that I do it that was one is just, there is just no other way to do it because if I want to do this with you the grading load is too high to do it so, I thought well it is still worth doing, and because this is a class about narrative and about self narrative it's the right thing to do

and most of you are graduating soon, and it's like it's helpful, I think that you will find it very helpful, that is what students report and so, You'll each read Three people will read each of your offerings and give you a grade and then you get the average of the best two grades

and they are supposed to provide you with constructive feedback constructive feedback is sort of mostly what did you do right and maybe some hints about where you could flesh it out, and all that but, so that's that and you need to write an essay this is all detailed on the website and, that's the website, if you go to, on the left there is classes

if you click classes you get a bunch of tabs and one of the tabs is Psych 434, and that's obviously this class there is some extra readings on there and a list of how we are going to go through the course the dates aren't right, I have got to update it and I haven't finished that yet, but the rest of it is pretty much the way it is, This writing program is an online program and it guides you through the process of doing it but really

I would really recommend that you start like this week because it also works better if you do it over time, and it seems like in bursts of writing, you know and to sleep between episodes because that's when your brain consolidates its new information

and, I would say do it meditatively you know, ask yourself ask yourself, it's a different way of it's really funny when you ask yourself questions because part of you will answer and you don't know what the answer will be but, and answer comes almost always and

you know, like you think well what happened to me when I was six, around six that was important and, through some mysterious process perhaps a memory will come to mind so, there is a test so there is these two

assignments plus the essay the essay can be on anything you want that's related to the class you have to make the case that's related to the class so,

it's an opportunity to write about something that you want to write about and there is a final exam and the final exam if you read the book and come to the classes you will not have any problem with the final exam because it's not it's not tricky, it's just a survey of what we have gone through

and so, I did that, I didn't have that to begin with but you know, you need a carrot and a stick, because you guys are busy and you know you are going to triage and do the things that are crucial and perhaps not the things that aren't and no wonder so I had to make this crucial because otherwise you won't read it and that's partly because it is hard

and so, hopefully the course lectures will help guide you through it, and and that's about that So I am going to tell you about a bunch of stories, and I am going to try and explain what they mean and what I hope will happen is that the world of narrative will open up for you, and that and like I found that incredibly useful, it's incredibly useful

to understand these things, it situates you better and it also helps you, see what people tell me about this course frequently is that it's something like that they already knew what I am telling them but they didn't know that they knew it

so it makes sense, it clicks, it clicks and you know to me what that means is that you have the information represented in you, in action in your procedures, in your habits and in your perceptual structures, it's implicit, it's the implicit you and then,

I can articulate in part what that implicit you is and it fits, click, oh yeah that's what I am like, that's what people are like, that's what people are like and so, well, if any of that happened today during this lecture to you, well, then that's a good sign that, you might benefit from the course if it didn't, well you could try one more lecture and see what happens

but, you know this sort of what the course is like, and if that's what you want then, this is where you get it Good to see all of you and I guess we are done, right?

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