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The “Gordian Knot”

The “Gordian Knot” or “Gordius’s knot” is “the symbol of a confusion for which conventional means are insufficient.” (DEX)”
Gordius, the Frigian plowman, was named king in his country. As a gratitude, he worshiped the “carriage” with which he had arrived in the Great Phrygia, to the god Jupiter, and exposed it to the Acropolis of Gordium. He binds the yoke to the drawbar, after that he makes an “unopened knot”, waiting to see if prophecy will be accomplished: That man who will succeed in undoing the knot will conquer Asia.
Alexander the Great, arrives in Phrygia and wants to untie the knot. He quickly realizes he will not be able to untie it, except by cutting with his sword. He will motivate his choice:
“It does not matter how this knot unfolds!”
Alexander’s solution to the problem led to the saying, “cutting the Gordian knot,” which means solving a complicated problem through bold action.
So if there is a Gordian Knot in your life, and conventional methods no longer help, you’re stuck in a situation, you have just one solution: Cut it!… and then carry on…, life is too short and there are no guarantees!

Where to hide these days?

Where to hide these days? In what recession of memory? It is certainly a comfortable one, in which nothing has changed. But by now it is already the memory of a memory and so far the road is a twisted clew of synapses. Childhood is the safest destination, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to get there.

“Even the smallest flower has its roots in infinity.” It’s a phrase from a book I recently just opened (Das Sanduhrbuch by Ernst Jünger). If I remember correctly, so said Borges, that you can read the history of the entire Universe in the spots of a leopard.

I do not know what others believe, but when I think of this idea, although magnificent, it seems very tiring. Most likely, it is the fatigue that made me think that in a way, what makes us people special, is our freshness. None of us are ancient. Yes, we have the same  eons in the back, but this is of little interest to us. The unconscious, yes, is ancient. But consciousness is new. It suddenly appears, at one point, and disappears just as suddenly, after only a few decades. Decades, not millennia, not millions, not billions of years. We have no time to get tired, to get old, to stiffen. And we are our consciences and nothing else. Everything else is repeatable, every feature, every eye color, every shade of hair, every trace of temperament, every gesture, every word, every whim, all of this is found in many people. But consciousness is always unique and very lonely, unfortunately! It’s good that we have empathy from time to time, so at least we suspect that there are other consciences around us, and luckily we stay young. I suspect that Jünger’s flower is unconscious. Otherwise I can not explain how it supports the boundlessness of its roots.

Painting by Vladimir-Kush

The Black Swan….

Europeans once thought all swans were white. “White” was part of how they defined “swan.” Then black swans were discovered, and the definition changed forever.

Almost everything in social life is produced by rare but consequential shocks and jumps. All the while, almost everything studied about social life focuses on the “normal,” particularly with “bell curve” methods of inference that tell you close to nothing.
Why? Because the bell curve ignores large deviations, cannot handle them, and yet makes us confident that we have tamed uncertainty.
(The Great Intellectual Fraud)
Living on our planet, today, requiers a lot more imagination that we are made to have. We lack imagination and repress it in others. We like stories, we like to summarize, and we like to simplify, to reduce the dimension of matters. The fallacy is associated with our vulnerability to over-interpretation and our predilection for compact stories over raw truths. We, members of the human variety of primates, have a hunger for rules because we need to reduce the dimension of matters so they can get into our heads. Or, rather sadly, so we can squeeze them into our heads. Unlike art, the purpose of science is to get to the truth, and not to give you a feeling of organisation, or make you feel better. Unfortunately, we tend to use knowledge as therapy. We live in the antechamber of hope, having the illusion of control over the world and reality. We focus on preselected segments of the seen and generalize it to be the unseen, having the error of confirmation. As much as it is ingrained in our habits and conventional wisdom, confirmation can be a dangerous error.
All this philosophy of induction, all these problems about knowledge, all these wild opportunites and scary possible losses, falls in front of the following metaphysical consideration. We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, and a chance occurrence of monstrous proportions. Imagine a speck of dust next to a planet a billion times the size of the earth. The speck of dust represents the odds in favor your being born. The huge planet would be the odds against it. So, stop sweating the small stuff! Don’t be like the ingrate who got a castle as a present, and worried about the mildew in the bathroom, stop looking the gift horse in the mouth!
Remember: you are not a horse you are a black swan, a very rare and remarkable event!
Nobody knows anything!

(A small analysis of Nassim Nicholas Taleb -The Black Swan)

Amor Fati…

Amor Fati,
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Amor fati ….Love Your Fate which is in fact your life…
Amor fati is in the least an acceptance of fate, and at the most, a love of it. You will be met with life challenges that change your path…let them. If the event must occur,… ” amor fati “is the response.
” Amor fati”—a love of what happens. Because that’s your only option…”Amor Fati” prompts us to say: We will put our energies and emotions and exertions only where they will have real impact. This is that place. We will tell ourselves: This is what I’ve got to do or put up with? Well, I might as well be happy about it.
Nietzsche thought that not only should we accept all the horrors and chaos in life but we should love them. They are an integral part of our story. All the difficulties in life are intertwined with all the good and one cannot be without the other. The tragedies of fate and the missteps of being are one with the glories of grace and the wisdom of humanity. We need to take the good with the bad quite literally. Not only accept, but love the full picture of reality as it is.
This wasn’t to say that Nietzsche was advocating for a fatalistic approach to life.
He wasn’t suggesting we live completely passively as victims to fate. One of Nietzsche’s central concepts was ‘Wille zur Macht’, or the ‘Will to Power’ which is in direct contradiction to a helpless mentality. What he may have been advising instead, is that we have the wisdom to know when we need to fight and overcome, and when we need to accept and embrace the reality we find ourselves in. To be both drivers of change and gracious participants in fate.
“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: someday I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882, The Gay Science, 276

Half Life- By Kahlil Gibran

Love not a half lover, nor befriend a half friend
Indulge not in the work of the half-talented
Live not a half life, nor die a half death
Choose not a half solution, nor stand in the middle of a truth
Dream not a half dream, nor cling to a half hope
If you choose to be silent, be silent to the end
And if you choose to speak, speak to the end
Let not your silence speak for you, nor your speech silence you
If you agree, express your agreement, do not feign your acceptance
A half life is a life you have not lived, a word you have not said, a smile you have not expressed,
A love you have not felt, and a friendship you have not known
A half life makes you a stranger to intimates, and your intimates strangers
A half life is what you reach but never attain and where you strive but never succeed
It is where you are both absent and present
It is where you are not yourself, for you have never known yourself
And thus whom you love is not your true soul mate
A half life is where you are present in different places at the same time
A half drink does not satisfy your thirst, nor a half meal your hunger
A half path leads you nowhere, and a half thought yields no result
A half life is a moment of weakness, but you are not weak, for you are not a half person
You are a person! You exist to live a full life, not a half life.

“mono no aware…”

There’s a Japanese phrase known as ” mono no aware.”
which very roughly translates as “the bittersweet poignancy of things,” or the pathos or “ahmess” of things.
It’s a valuable awareness of impermanence, both a kind of gentle, transient sadness as things pass in life, but also a softly lingering sadness about the impermanence of all reality.
” Mono no aware” can be manifest in lots of life stories and moments.
One example in Japanese culture is the celebration of the cherry blossom.
The cherry blossom in and of itself is no more impressive than an apple or an orange tree, but what sets is apart is its brevity.
Cherry blossom falls within a single week-can be whisked away on the gentlest breeze- and it’s this that makes it more beautiful.
It’s utterly fragile, and fragility gives life its poignancy.
(Vu Dung- painting)

The (Forer)- Barnum Effect

Before I start talking about the Barnum effect, let me tell you that I know a lot about you. Allow me to talk about you!

– You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.

– You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.

– You have a great deal of unused potential, which you have not turned to your advantage.

– While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.

– Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you.

– Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the  inside.

– At times, you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.

– You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations.

– You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof.

– You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.

–  At times, you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.

–  Security is one of your major goals in life.

–  Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic.

Can you find yourself in the text above? Yes? Well, you’re not the only person in this situation. All those who read the text find themselves to a lesser or greater degree.

This is the Barnum (Forer) effect.

The Forer (or Barnum) effect is a term used in psychology that defines the tendency of people to accept very general or vague characterizations of themselves as being very accurate.

A good example of this can be seen in people who think they are true and exactly match descriptions of those who guess them in coffee, tarot, astrological predictions or other bizarre practices.

“A sucker is born every minute,” said Phineas Taylor Barnum, the discoverer of the circus, and the one after whom this effect was called.

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a number of 39 students a personality test, then asked them to assess the degree of veracity of the profile described. Students evaluated the accuracy of their own personality profile on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 was considered a profile that did not correspond to any of their own personalities, and 5 had a perfect correspondence with their own personality. The average of these ratings was 4.2. Then students were asked to raise their hands if the test was considered to be an appropriate and accurate tool in describing their own personality. All students raised their hand, being convinced of the veracity of the instrument. They later found out that they had the same interpretation.

The Barnum effect has some explanations. According to researchers, it seems that, first of all, we like flattering and discourses that value us. Then, often, we do not perceive in an analysis anything other than that which suits us or favors us. Thus, we abstain from elements that do not characterize us, although they are mentioned. The effect also increases when people think they have a particular description made for them, when the description is more favorable than unfavorably, when the description is not specific, and the characteristics and traits mentioned are common in the population from which they were selected as subjects. All these features are met when the horoscope is presented to us. We do not even have to be careful to see which sign is coming. Anyway, all the signs fit us.

The effect of Barnum is a technique that is also the basis of palm reading, predictions, and other forms of past or predictive predictions.

Those who claim to have paranormal powers exploit this technique along with cold reading, a set of techniques by which relevant information is obtained by general assertions, by observing body language and subject’s reactions.

This effect appears to a greater extent in the case of people with a particular need for approval or tendencies of obedience, conformism to authority. Those are people who take things as they are, because they can not do anything anyway, things are predestined to be so. The truth is, no matter how unique we are, we have the same quests, the same dilemmas and the same cognitive viruses.

In order not to let this effect deceive us, I think it is important to keep in mind Forer’s words:

“Thus, the individual is a unique configuration of characteristics, each of which can be found in everyone, but in varying degrees.”