The Nerd, the Partygoer and the Bookworm – Perspectives and Judgement

Image of dog and cat playing together
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Life can be full of surprises. Especially when you expect a certain degree of ‘sameness’, that is people to be the same as yourself, or at least very similar.

Common assumptions are based on a few, sometimes almost crude, differentiations and types, such as the types of the title: the nerd, the partygoer and the bookish type, the bookworm. Interestingly enough, as soon as you use these terms, people start coming up with images in their minds:

    • The bookish type like the proverbial church mouse, grey all over, always buried in some book or other and perhaps even al little other-worldly. Not well-versed in the ways of the world.
    • The nerd, to my mind to some extent the modern version of the bookworm: Always having something or other to do with a digital device, the laptop these days, a smart phone, a computer or any other digital device you can think of. Buried too, in a way in his work.
    • The partygoer, a colourful appearance, rather talkative and even loud, attracting attention wherever they go, with pleasure, sometimes overdoing it a little, perhaps.

But these are the stereotypes. I am not saying they do not help. But if we use the stereotypes alone to judge people or to make sense of them, we may be mistaken.

There are not only ‘sub-types’. There’s usually more to human life and needs or wishes or dreams than just the external signs or the typical behaviour you may conclude because that’s all you are looking for.

In other words: Human beings and life are rather more colourful than a party dress.
‘There is more to it than meets the eye’: One might think of icebergs, the bulk of their mass is below the surface.

Try the kaleidoscope, it’s a favourite image I use to make my point. There’s black, white, green and red. But there are so many more colours to it, to life that is. There’s grey, gold and silver and heaps of others. And each comes in so many shades, too. (Not just shades of grey.  😉 )

I am a person who always has loved books, for me reading is like talking in my head. I hear language I write practically the same way, too, the same way I hear spoken words: With melody to it.

I know not everyone is the same; some people just do not like books or reading that much and avoid it if they don’t have to. I respect that.

I think it is vital for a peaceful existence to accept diversity, the truly colourful existence on this Earth, of humans as well as any other living or breathing entity.

 

Knowledge – Wisdom – Marketing – Stereotypes – What Reading and Thinking Can Do for You

image of beach at sunset and family walking
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Erich Fromm, Alexander Lowen, Sigmund Freud, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Alxandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, The Brontë Sisters, Shakespeare, Plato, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle,…the list goes on and on and on…. And those are only a very major few dealing with live, love, sex, gambling, man vs mankind, culture, thoughts, ideas in human life, right, wrong, and human needs. I’ve read so many books in the course of my life that I can truly say they cover a mid-sized library. A couple of thousands.

Opposed to that are the images you find in many Hollywood movies (often especially the ones drawing huge audiences), on Social Media – strange word for such a rather ‘un-social’ market place – but then, ever since the Ancient times it was common calling bad or problematic things by good names – to lessen the fear or dread of it, such as the Black Sea known to be dangerous to sailors. They called it “Pontos Euxeinos” in Greek, the friendly, kind sea.

Market places: Marketing images are everywhere – and they ‘feed’ on stereotypes.
Reading and thinking on your feet, you might say, trains the mind; trains your thinking, to go beyond common images, and be – at some point – a complete and wholesome human being rather than someone chasing the latest fashions in order to be fashionable – and be ‘IN’.

The monster, the lady in distress, the prince and the common man to rescue her so they can fall in love with her afterwards…
C.G. Jung, a Freud-disciple, called them ‘archetypes’ that have been around for many centuries in human existence, in the West at least, and patriarchal society, and thus are part of all our common (usually unconscious) heritage of ideas and wishes.

Most important in this respect to me are these ideas:

Knowing about something does not mean you had to do it first in order to  understand.

Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge. Wisdom is the combination of empathy (know human emotions) with experience and knowledge to truly understand human life.

“The Sabbath Is for Man” = Rules Are for People

Peace pagoda Nepal
World Peace Pagoda – Nepal

Rules and the law often are taken in cases of dispute among people, businesses or just neighbours, as a means to ‘fight’ for what one feels to be a right.
One’s own and individual right to do or be as one pleases.

To me, raised by parents who took ethics as well as clear thinking seriously and thus the enlightenment, the following adage of the bible is a fine example of how to treat rules:

The bible, large and ancient book of wisdom has it like this: Jesus as a grown-up and increasingly famous and respected preacher and scribe one day was asked about picking corn on the sabbath.
Many of my readers may know already that among Jews the sabbath is and was a strict holiday on Saturdays each week. To be observed with total obedience to the rule that no work whatsoever was to be done that day.
That’s what makes the answer so special, in those times.

His answer is recorded in Mark, chapter 2:

2:27 And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath;
(The Jerusalem Bible translation)

Pure and simple this means that rules are there to make life better and easier among human beings, not to be observed at any cost even the risk of losing health or lives.
He goes on to say:

2:28 the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath’.

That’s one reason why I like the idea that rules are originally meant as a ‘crutch’ or a framework to support.
Not as walls or fences to divide, separate and make enemies. In my opinion the sense of a rule and the exact facts of the case should be taken into account. As well as a close look at people concerned and their needs, to try and find a way to live better and peacefully together in this world.
Peace in small matters can spread – to the larger issues and arguments among nations to eventually be solved without war.

Judging, Judgmental, Truth – or How Images Are ‘Born’

picture of a marked calendar with people

Judging your peers, your neighbours or your near and dear can be tricky, if you take it seriously – and would want to do them ‘justice’.

Imagine the case before a court, where all the evidence seems to point in one direction; only, this time you would be convicted.
Although you know that you are innocent. It would be an emotional torture, to say the least.

An image is ‘born’? Yes, in the mind, by using words and going on from there. Of course, generally you would say it is created. But the ‘born’ simile makes it clearer:
The ideas and the underlying images we as humans have and sometimes create based on simple and insufficient impressions are ‘born’ in the mind at some point.

So, judging someone can be a tricky process:
Again, imagine a timeline and then try and mark the occasions on it you really meet another person. And how much time and work and your own thoughts and ideas and tasks pass by on that timeline mark as well.

You may come to realize that in between all the hustle and bustle of everyday work there are actually very few impressions you could judge by…

In philosophy for ages it has been a whole topic of research, how humans do know / understand: the epistemeology.

In criminology I used as an example up there this knowledge has been refined since the 18th century, especially.
It’s been an age old saying too, that on any ‘case’ of doubt, you should hear at least two people’s accounts.

So, let’s try to remember that any fleeting impression or occasional encounter can only provide very limited ideas of what the whole person means – in every sense – and is.
If in doubt, try putting yourself in their place, as regards being judged – with care and precision.

The bible has it too, more ancient yet to the point (quoted from Wikipedia):

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

— Matthew 7:1–5 (King James Version)

(English subs available)

 

Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.

Religion – Life – Philosophy – Strength of Mind

ancient-buddha-stucco-white-old-red-brick-thai-ancient-tradition-pagoda

I was raised as a Catholic, by parents who at the same time were enlightened philosophers, in the sense of the philosophical enlightenment founded in the 18th century in the middle of Europe, with British, French and German philosophers at the helm of it.

I have since had the luck to be part of a university’s body as a student and graduate, with famous researchers in religion, philosophy, language and culture close at hand. I have read and thought, and discussed matters of religion, philosophy and culture for decades. To me it became clear in the course of many years that for all the sorrow, cruelty and hardship a human being may go through and endure, one thing remains adamant and is the core concept to me:

Love.

Much has been written about it, songs been sung, and operas, poems, books , plays been published. Although money seems to be the one driving force in human life – love, in all its shapes, is the other.

And when hardship falls on us, loved ones die or we just have to face humans that have decided to go the other way, love can carry us through.

I also think it important that we find the love inside of us:
because if we only search for it outside, only half of all our potential will be made true.
That’s why I find the concept of ‘neighbourly love’ crucial as well as helpful, as we know it from Christianity: ‘love thy neighbour as you love thyself’.
Psychology actually supports this concept:
only if we like and support ourselves, body, mind and soul the same way we would our near and dear, will we have the strength to do it – support both, ourselves as well as others. And we endure hardship easier.

I am not the first to say it and certainly will not be the last. In the bible one of the most beautiful texts about love is this:
Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13.

Money vs Values? – Money, Dignity and Values!

silhouette of person in yoga post on top of cliff during sunset

Money seems similar to power: It corrupts… sometimes. I think the basic principle is the same as in other parts of life:
it depends on the perspective, on how you look at it.

Someone put it very nicely with these few words:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

For some of those that read my blog, this is not news.
But I feel this to be an essential part of human life, indeed mankind and its history depend to a great extent on money and what it represents or means to different kinds of people.

Basic Concepts

The most important concepts in regard to money to me are: power, appreciation, wealth (and what it can buy as regards luxury).
Dignity.

Appreciation and Dignity

Appreciation as well as dignity go together in this context: many people exist who will accept and even admire someone who’s got lots of money.

In turn that person feels respected and draws on this apparent respect for their sense of self-esteem. And the term that is closely connected, even a synonym, is the idea of dignity.

Dignity

The idea deserves a closer look: dignity is the sense of any person they can have of themselves as being ‘respectable’ and ‘good’, therefore respected and part of the community around them.
And so, if dignity is forfeit, or seems to be, some people can react extremely aggressive and even cruelly towards those they hold responsible for that loss.

Find Distinctions

I would like to differentiate more, to ultimately make independence easier: we may be dependent to some extent on others, for money, for respect and thus simply their support.
But the dignity we retain always also depends on how we look at ourselves.

Money and Dignity?

If we connect these two ideas in a direct relation, namely: ‘money equals dignity’ and then at the first hint of losing money are convinced we’ve lost our dignity in the eyes of the world, this will be true.

Independence in Your Mind and Your Being

Again:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

As long as you believe that money equals dignity, this will be true.

This is another way of saying that there are always two sides to this coin:
What others think about us.
What we think about ourselves.

And if we find others to be right in this view, this perspective on us, then they will gain power over our thoughts, our reactions and ultimately we may lose our free will.

Money and Values

Self-respect or self-esteem are crucial for being aware of eternal values and living them. And the sense of our dignity translates into these two.

So, to become truly independent of all the dark sides of the want of appreciation or self-respect or dignity, such as greed, cruelty and selfishness, find out about the dignity inside.

Dignity Inside

So, I encourage again, once more, all who read this:
Look carefully into your heart – and find the dignity and appreciation in there, the part that is not dependent on anything the outside world could ever believe.
If you can do that, no one will ever ‘mess with your head’, they will not have power over you, because you have it over yourself. First and last.

The Willow Tree – and the Fight for Life

I like the saying: ‘when you fight you can loose. Not to fight means you have already lost.’

I also remember the principle from jujitsu many years ago, apparently part of its age-long tradition:
‘Be like the willow tree that bends before the storm – and then darts back. Yield in order to win.’

Fighting may sound like: ‘be strong – and hard.’

To me it’s more like this:
‘Persevere – hang in there. And: don’t forget about the breaks!’

Stereotypes – Images – Mistaken Judgement

In literature and philosophy one of the things you learn at an early stage is, to look beyond the obvious.
Or that which is apparently obvious.
The great works of art, especially in poetry, often have layers of meaning to them. And not just one or two layers. But several, in many cases.

In life, this kind of knowledge can be crucial: that the surface, the apparently obvious, the first impression, the things you hear and see with the ‘naked eye or ear’ can be completely misleading.
This fact is made use of in marketing: use images and ideas that are easy to grasp, are part of common knowledge and that way, sell – chocolate, cars, or clothes.

That’s why advertisements are often full of stereotypes, such as the wonderful housewife and mother. The cool and always superior father, the cute kids, who never complain, except when chocolate is becoming scarce… and so on, and on…

Why is this misleading, though? Aren’t there cute kids around? Aren’t there wonderful housewives and mothers? Or the superior father – not to say passionate lovers?
Of course there are!
But they are not always the only thing to know about or the most important aspect of a person.

Stereotypes exist everywhere and are almost countless.

A particularly impressive because very colourful one, connected with heaps of imagery and at the same time so easily dismantled is that of the passion of Spanish natives as opposed to that of the average European, supposed to be far more sedate in outlook:
bluntly put, unfortunately, that’s just complete bullshit.

Why, again?
What the emblematic image conjures up in the mind is the Flamenco dancer, clapping, stomping, scowling, accompanied by apparently fierce musicians strumming the guitar and the sad, sometimes fierce songs of, among other sources, the gypsies in Spain. They had been chased and abused for centuries and Flamenco, so the legend has it, expresses their fight for life.

The Flamenco as well as other dances considered to be passionate, such as the Tango or the Rumba, has seen for decades now a new appreciation and recognition in countries such as Switzerland or Germany.
Where people are considered to be less passionate, than in other regions of the world.
How is it possible then that among the famous and even in Spain recognized Flamenco dancers, there is a Swiss woman?

Because people take preconceptions and stereotypes for granted. They do not look beyond the image, the impressions, eye and ear seem to convey apparently.

But the truth is: we only understand and recognize what we know.
If our knowledge is marked by stereotypes, stereotypes is what we will see and find.

And that is a great pity!
The above example about apparently passionate as opposed to less passionate human beings is a striking one to make the point:
if we believe in it, the really passionate nature in ourselves, wherever we’ve been raised – and other more subtle aspects of people around us, may completely escape us!

So, go beyond stereotypes! Find the truth, not just the image!

 

Stephen Fry: “Playing Grafcefully With Ideas” – Oscar Wilde, Albert Einstein or Modern Heroes

I like to share this address here, Stephen Fry’s address to Oxford students on what to value very highly in life, especially as student or – I like to add, human being:
freedom of thought

Fry’s speeches and subtle humour are famous already, as actor as well as writer he can be said to practice the true art of understatement.

I will just put this here, it’s great fun and well-versed as well as read. Take a little time off your household chores, perhaps, get a breather from a working life of pressing tasks – and enjoy!