Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Why We Crucify Truth Tellers (and Why They Deserve It)

You're in a theater viewing a gripping horror movie. You turn around and peer at the audience. Everyone is in the familiar transfixed state of cinematic hypnosis. They're not them, sitting with those bodies in those chairs in this theater. Rather, they've framed themselves into the movie. They're the protagonist. And, because it's a horror movie, they're horrified.

You feel special/superior because you see “the truth,” while they seem lost in delusion. That’s wrong (it’s your first mistake). They, like you, are simply making choices. Framing choices. In fact, if anything, they’ve made the smarter choice, whereas you’re the kook perversely ignoring the show you chose to attend.

One audience member seems particularly aggrieved. Tears stream down his cheeks, his face is beet red, and his eyes bug out in sheer panic. You tap this stranger on the shoulder.
Tap tap tap.

Tap tap tap.
Startled, he pivots his head to gape at you.
"It's just a movie, buddy. You're okay."
He has three possible responses. One is insane but common, and the other two are sane but rare (and one might lead to your crucifixion).

Insane but Common Response:
An obvious framing error. Some people have less pliant perspectives. Insanity is the inability to reframe despite clear environmental cues.
Sane Response #1:
Oh. Wow. Right. Phew. Thanks! [returns attention to movie and starts getting worked up again - hey, his choice!]
Sane Response #2:

In case you didn't realize, this isn't about movie theaters. It's a parable about people needlessly stuck (frozen perspective, remember?) in a hyper-dramatic mind frame while living comfortably in Utopia, and the perils - and improprieties - of trying to help them.

In the above parable, you've only irritated one single person. But if you try this, loudly, in the world at large, you'll be ruining the show for a large crowd. People will be enraged and they're not wrong. You know full well that show-spoilers are hateful creatures (the very definition of "impolite"). You broke that covenant.
Self-destructive people, for example, may seem irrational, but they're not. They're acting out a drama, just as we all are, but tweeking parameters for more challenging gameplay. They're working on a more advanced level, that's all. You can get away with helpfully tapping their shoulder once, but, if you persist after they've waved you off, you're deliberately ruining the movie...and deserve their wrath.
Here's how truth tellers reach this point. Having forgotten yourself in the pretending (like everyone else), your grippy identification with fake drama leads to trauma, and you find yourself tossed awake by the tumult, as sometimes happens during nightmares. You suddenly Remember - briefly, before turning back to the dramatic narrative. Your first impulse is to look around you, and you observe that people are needlessly gripped by fictional self-concocted trauma. Having recognized this, clear-eyed for just a moment, the next observation is that everyone seems to need everything more than you do.

So you see the problem and you want to help. Cool! But it’s a dangerous error to assume that people - even traumatized people - want to be reminded that they're pretending. It's one thing to ruin the 7:35 screening of “Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child”, but it's quite another to ruin the painstakingly crafted epic story of "My Life and Victimhood and the Weighty Burden I Bear Despite Being a Really Nice Person."

Never forget that human beings choose to ride rollercoasters. Human beings pay to ride rollercoasters (here's the broad view on rollercoasters and drama and movies and pretending).

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Epiphany, Eureka, and Inspiration

Epiphany, eureka, and inspiration are the peakest experiences a person can enjoy in this world. They dislodge stuckness and open up fresh insight, leaving us euphoric. Who wouldn't want that? They arrive, famously, in a flash, via a mysterious channel that's clearly distinct from everyday thinking.

These blessings stem from reframing, that’s all. Blind to our infinite freedom to shift perspective, we enjoy the beneficial aftermath of inadvertent shifts with befuddled gratitude. Since we haven't, as a species, fully framed our framing, major shifts seem to manifest as a thunderbolt from heaven; a gift from the muses. “What the hell was that?!?”

Feel free to exit here. That was quite enough to chew on, and below there be dragons. Please take your personal belongings with you. We know you have a choice of blogs, and we appreciate your business. Have a pleasant afternoon here or wherever your Internet surfing might finally take you.

God (or Spirit, or Muse, etc.) seems to deliver epiphany/eureka/inspiration because these things appear out of the blue, unrelated to - even disruptive of! - our thought-stream, which we falsely assume to be who/what we are. We forget that we are both thinkers and framers. So if we don't think it, it must be coming from someone else!

Highly creative people, with some inkling of their own reframing latitude, are sometimes deemed "touched by God" because they can periodically pull off small magic tricks, i.e. epiphany/eureka/inspiration. The faculty is notoriously fickle because, again, humanity hasn't quite framed its framing. Once you've framed a process, a clarity arises to make everything feel easy. And it's coming. The messiah will soon arrive, and he will be you.

The connection between reframing and epiphany/eureka/inspiration explains why this Slog belches up more insight than the average blog. I have a naturally lithe perspective, and am increasingly able to frame my framing - it's a work obviously in progress - making these outcomes more easily available (if there were some way to explain this stuff without seeming to boast, jesusfchrist I would do so in a millisecond, and thank goodness for sparse readership so I don't draw my deserved snark).

Epiphany, eureka, and inspiration are a whole other thing from the everyday, that's for sure. Everyone agrees on that. The flavor is utterly different from normal cognition. For one thing, this stuff arrives far more swiftly than thought does (contributing to the "thunderbolt from the blue" impression). As I once wrote,
Perceptual framing is instant. It can expand from microbe to Milky Way without the slightest latency. Once we make the flip, it always happens instantly.

A visceral experience of simple reframing can be had by "flipping" between the two views of this optical illusion:

You’ll notice there’s no lag whatsoever. It's not a process, which takes time and uses resources. It's an instant shift (once it happens), effected by the subtlest possible exercise of subjectivity. A choosing, nothing more (and it’s utterly monogamous; we can’t span multiple perspectives any more than we can simultaneously see both faces and chalice in that optical illusion).

The really big question is: who makes the choice?

I'll direct your attention to the noticeable fact that both options in the optical illusion pre-exist. The whole universe works like that, in fact. All notes are pre-struck, all options pre-exist, and we create the impression of external dynamism via an internal movement of attention. This entire big flashy show we find ourselves in is instigated and animated by the subtle exercise of subjectivity - by ceaseless internal framing. We select.
Per that last link (here it is again), this is also how we traverse/unfurl the multiverse. Each framing choice branches to a fresh parallel universe (did you really imagine we'd go to parallel universes via, like, spaceship?).
We become depressed when perspective freezes. The world appears to stall in a state of monotony. Fluidity is necessary for humans to enjoy their lives, and it’s generated by freely dynamic framing (never blame circumstance; it's all in your perspective!). Perspective freezes because we get lazy, and/or forget that it's we who choose; we who frame; we who shift. We forget we’re free. Freedom’s like a smartphone feature we’ve forgotten about.
Standard note: I'm working on a book of exercises to re-establish the ability to freely shift perspective; I'll need beta testers, so watch this space.
Not to further overload this brutally bottom-heavy posting, but here's a strange truth: you will become depressed even if perspective freezes on a spectacularly lovely framing. This is why very advanced meditators (and, come to think of it, new lovers) often become lethargic. Their bodies are depressed even though their minds relish unwavering delight. Bodies don't do well with unwaveringness of any sort, including "delight" (that's why we insatiably crave widely diverse experience, including so-called negativity). As perspective freezes, the world loses its worldliness.

Again, the big question is: who makes the choice?

Obviously, it's you. But is it the you with a name and a body and a back story? You were framing before you had a name, when your body was completely different and you'd accumulated none of the back story. Here I'm coaxing the reframing of all reframings, if only you'd care to shift. Again: who makes the choice? Here's a hint. The "you" with name and body and back story is a framing, not the framer.

None of this can be adequately explained in a 900 word essay, so the links are not pro-forma. They explain the assumptions underpinning these supremely counterintuitive conclusions. I've chosen to develop and explain these ideas - which are way more than dry philosophy (everything that makes your head throb isn't pointy-headed navel-gazing abstraction; this stuff is the key to being happy and creative and evading depression and understanding how the world actually works) - via the medium of blogging because it allows me to leave a breadcrumb trail. The breadcrumbs are essential!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Getting Out of the Way

Do you ever get out of the way of people who need something more than you do?

The guy who's got D-Day stress levels in his eyes because he needs to make a tight flight connection. You let him pass so he can get off the plane. You'd love to get off ASAP, yourself, but he clearly needs it more. So you get out of the way.

A blaring ambulance appears behind you. Though you're within visual range of sorely-needed coffee, you get out of the way.

A kid really really needs ice cream, in a way you haven't needed anything since the 1980s. You're certainly not going to compete with her. It's not that you don't like ice cream - or wouldn't prefer ice cream sooner rather than later. But you know you don't need it as much as she does, so you get out of the way.

If you develop a courteous habit of getting out of the way, you will eventually observe that everyone needs everything more than you do.


1. They don't actually need it either, but they don't know this. Need stems from ignorance.
2. If needing is ignorance, not needing is wisdom.
3. Stepping out of the way is an expression of strength, not weakness.
4. Not needing + stepping away = wisdom + strength.
5. This equation explains Asceticism - which is so ridiculously out of style that westerners drop their jaws at the befuddling mystery of it, deeming it self-abuse (which is, not coincidentally, precisely how you, in getting out of the way, look in the eyes of needy, ice cream-grubbing little kids).

Three clarifications:

1. Ascetics aren't just naked wanderers with leathery skin or dour self-flagellating monks. Anyone who gets out of the way with any regularity is an ascetic, whether they know it or not.

2. I'm not saying asceticism is always about taking less so everyone can have more. I'm just describing how self-denial feels. The truth is topsy-turvy: neediness is deprivation, so who's actually deprived?

"Needing/Having" isn't winning, it's endless entrapment in a humiliating and senseless Skinner Box. "Not-Needing/Not-Having" is freedom and happiness. It's possible even to Not-Need/Have, but that's so beyond Western sensibility and understanding - super zen or whatever - that people have written impenetrable books to try to explain it.

3. Anticipating pushback re: the word "needs"....

When people in the First World talk about "needs", we are really talking about preferences. 90% of us have our basic needs met as a foregone conclusion 90% of the time. As I once noted, America is so rich that we mistake mere discomfort for bona fide poverty (which has led to an aberration I've termed Liberal Materialism).

But all the above applies to genuine need, too. Ascetics don't need their needs until the tank's pretty close to empty. Why? They've reframed to a broader view (which gives them character). And as I said in my previous posting, "Once you've framed something...a clarity arises that makes everything feel easy. It helps immensely to have a framework for understanding who you are and what you do." Kids (and most adults) view ice cream, et al., in extreme closeup, and can't imagine any other framing.

Note: I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle from two previous efforts:
An Adult View on Preference
The Inside Story on Asceticism

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lose Weight by Reframing!

Ice cream is sweetened butter.

It's absolutely true, but we don't frame it that way. We think of ice cream as its own food group, a happy wholesome treat. That's how it imprinted when we were children, and while our adult minds recognize it as pure animal fat (aside from the gobs of sugar), it still viscerally strikes us as a visit to some bright candyland universe with vague consequences, rather than a nutritional bear trap.

I've never been drawn to large servings of ice cream. After mulling it over, I figured out why. Ice cream is sweetened butter, and I wouldn't want to scarf down like a pint of cold butter. I'm grossed out by the thought! And now that I've consciously staked out my position - my framing - on this, I find that I'm happy with smaller and smaller portions. A tablespoon of butte....I mean ice cream seems like plenty. I have reframed it!

Another reframing was what I called "The Best, Easiest, and Most Sustainable Diet Tip:
At some point in every meal you've ever eaten, the following mental question has arisen: "Do I want to eat some more?" It's always asked quietly - so quietly that it may not consciously register. And our reaction is, nearly always, to shrug and eat a few more bites. What the hell!

1. No one in the history of the human race has ever asked themselves this question while still hungry. Genuinely hungry people just eat! The fact that you're asking means that you have, in fact, eaten enough!

2. The gratuitous few bites you take after this point will probably add 10-20% more calories to your meal. And most of us are 10-20% overweight, so these are the marginal calories that make us marginally overweight. So drop your fork!
....and yet another was my "Pizza Protocol":
I was ordered on a permanent low fat diet....and I cooked up the following ground rules:
I'd eliminate all bad pizza.
I'd eliminate all so-so pizza.
Really good pizza is permissable, but only one slice.
If really necessary, I could occasionally enjoy two slices.
Since I already cooked healthy at home, I'd cook at home a bit more to offset the errant slices.
This policy eliminates 90% of my normal fat-ingestion-via-pizza, while removing only 10% of my enjoyment:
Dieting doesn't work if you just try to change your behavior. When the diet ends, you will, of course, simply spring back. What's required is reframing. But most people have no facility for reframing (they mistakenly think framing is imposed on them by external circumstances). That's why they can't lose weight. Or change in other ways. It's why adults famously can't learn.

Frozen perspective prevents change, stifles creativity, and causes depression. My framing spiel is not dry philosophy. It's nothing less than salvation, the remedy to humanity's blocks and unhappiness. Plus: it just melts off the pounds!

Many Slog postings - particularly the ones you may have found insightful or clever - are the product of perceptual reframing. That's always been my little trick: a simple flip of perspective.

Until recently, I was fuzzy about my own trick. I hadn't framed my framing! Once you've framed something (as you surely have in some aspect of your life - surely attributing it to "learning", "growing" or "maturing", though framing happens in the blink of an eye whereas those other things are processes), a clarity arises that makes everything feel easy. You don't want to trap yourself in a frozen meta-perspective, nor do you want to be like the centipede who thinks so much about his hundred legs that he's unable to walk. But it helps immensely to have a framework for understanding who you are and what you do.

I often note that I use the Slog not to explain stuff to you, but to myself. I can see now that what I've been doing all along is framing my framing. It's not intellectual philosophy, it's extremely practical. It's everything.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Another Example of Inducing Perceptual Reframing

Earlier this month I published an unconventional eulogy, which I offered as an example of successfully inducing perceptual reframing. The following is another example of induced reframing (also successful, at least for now). Both of these can be read at three levels: 1. uplifting reading, 2. inspiration to unfreeze/shift your own perspective, or 3. a quick-start guide for potential messiahs.

Ten years ago, a musician friend in another country suffered an aneurysm that nearly killed him. He was saved by an improbably coincidental spinal blockage which protected his heart while leaving him without the use of his legs. He'd been permanently paralyzed, poetically, by the process that saved his live.

Having stared down near-certain death, he experienced a profound shift of perception - what I call a "reframing" - leaving him exuberantly grateful to be alive. A shockingly short while later, a friend and I sat misty eyed in a jazz club, watching our friend play his guts out in a wheelchair. He was smiling so hard we thought his face might break.

The exuberance gradually eroded over the years. Then medical errors left him in hospital for the entire past year, fighting horrendous bone infections. Worst of all, sloppy doctoring led to the lost of his use of his hand. No more music.

"Depression" would be an inadequate word to describe his condition. Our mutual friend says "He is tired. Even his body language is different, his head often bent down." He no longer discusses solutions. He just stares at the TV.

Necessity once again mothered invention. I sent him the following. Like my eulogy, it reads like gentle persuasion and reminding, but that's only the surface. Really, it's designed to directly coax a shift of perceptive - a reframing - on its own. It appears to make a proposal, but the proposed outcome is actually executed (it's like launching a computer background process, aka daemon).

This may sound manipulative, but it wouldn't work if the person wasn't fundamentally in agreement (this, interestingly, is also how hypnotists defend their practice from fears of sinister controlling: you can't hypnotize someone to do something they don't already want to do. And, as I noted in the eulogy posting, hypnosis, along with creativity/art and spirituality, are the main repositories of humanity's sparse know-how re: perceptual framing).

I've been informed about your situation. Your friends and I are looking into alternative treatment. Please give us some time, and know that wheels are turning.

I'd like to remind you about something important. When you were first paralyzed, you were not depressed. You were euphoric. This was because you experienced a change of perspective. You saw the truth of the world, and it shifted you into a clarity where you understood that simply being here is a profound gift. Your heart (metaphorically) expanded, and everything was perfect, even though you had just gotten some extremely bad news.

When I saw you for the first time after you left the hospital, I asked you several times to try not to forget. Perspectives are habitual. It is very easy to fall back into an old perspective. And in the time since, I have watched you slowly forget, and return to your former perspective, where your life is a challenging drama and not a euphoric gift.

People don't get sad and negative because of what happens to them in their world. We are sad and negative because of our perspective on what happens in our world. We don't suffer because of what happens to us. We suffer because of our REACTION to what happens to us. The world is fine. It's all fine. The only problem is in our interpretation (and we have infinite options of interpretation).

This is demonstrably true. You know people with terrible narratives who are happy, and  MANY people with fantastic narratives who are miserable. What matters is viewpoint. You shifted to the optimal viewpoint for a year or two. You can recover it! 

The world - even your world - is delightful. You just forgot. There is no level of bad dramatic narrative that makes the world not delightful. It's 100% perspective. You yourself learned this once when you discovered you’d never walk again yet your spirit was completely dancing. You will dance again; I won't let you pretend you can't.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Explaining Celebrity Perversion

It's pretty widely accepted that Jeffrey Epstein is a dam, and when his case breaks, all sorts of famous, powerful people will be publicly embarrassed (at the very least). It seems reasonably clear, though not yet conclusively proven, that he's been running a massive extortion racket around a massive child prostitution operation, with his clients/blackmail-ees paying millions into his "wealth management" service in exchange for provision of pleasure + avoidance of pain (a perfect carrot/stick ploy).

The question, of course, is why so many rich/powerful people would be titillated by child rape. Are the rich and powerful extra perverted?

My take is that wealth and power is all about whim fulfillment, so a mere latent whim can easily become lifestyle. For example, a normal person might have reveries about unattainable girls he crushed on in junior high, while billionaires can go out and buy one of those.

I wouldn't be in that market even if I could afford it. However, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to deem my infrequent steamy recollections of lovely Dorothy G back in eighth grade tantamount to thought crime, given that I'm remembering as a 56 year old.

Thinking and acting are different things, but those who spend their lives machinating to be in a position of easy whim fulfillment (i.e. the rich and powerful) tend to have poor impulse control. That's what drives them in the first place. Me, I don't need a billion dollars because my whims are pretty tamped down...a situation that happens not to strike me as a screaming injustice.

Finally (courtesy of Dave Halpern), if you live The Big Life, quotidian pleasures no longer suffice. Bigger thrills are eternally sought.

When I sold Chowhound, and it was widely assumed that co-founder Bob™ and I were swimming in dough (we wound up decently recompensed for our years of unpaid work with no bonus for the risk or deferment), a Chowhound regular who'd made hundreds of millions from some crazy deal emailed me some advice. He suggested that I "enjoy the money; it stops meaning anything pretty quickly." Oddly, all these years later I still thrill whenever I take a paid tunnel into NYC or order multiple side dishes or use a parking garage (rather than endlessly circle for parking). I go Cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs every damned time. I honestly believe there's something structurally wrong with my brain (I've also never taken a single kiss for granted, even with long-term girlfriends).

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Tick Tips

Some follow-up to my big tick primer from last year:

I explained to my doctor that I am immense (at 6 feet and 200 lbs my skin could upholster an Italian sports car), hairy, and near-sighted, so being told “inspect yourself for ticks” is basically demonic cruelty. She had a smart suggestion: shower when you get inside going over yourself thoroughly with a loofa. I’m gonna buy one of these or else one of these.


1. Must inspect loofah after shower for any embedded ticks.

2. Ticks might go down drain and (yikes) climb back up.

BTW, best way to kill a tick (I love this!) is to trap it in an inch of tape stuck to itself. This also preserves the specimen if you need it checked by a lab for Lyme virus. Crap, I already wrote this .

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Slog Commenting Note

Sorry to Slog commenters, but I've reconfigured comments so you need a Google account to post (compensating some for the hurdle, I've also removed the Captcha...though Blogger may disregard that choice).

You may have noticed that we have a new troll here in Slogland. A very old acquaintance (to whom I've always been kindly supportive) had been posting anonymous snark and potshots, eventually growing so infuriated by my failure to courteously respect his anonymized snarky sock puppet that he flipped his gourd and went into embittered war mode. In his framing, he's bringing down The Man. In my framing, I cringe for him (no biggie, he knows I can expose him and his long-standing nom-de-flame to the Internet and to his employer if he escalates to actual threats).

I easily identified him, and would have preferred to preserve this as an outlet for him to blow off steam, but I don't want to repeat the pattern. So...if I know you, post as you, and I'll treat you like you. Simple! This new setting won't guarantee identity disclosure, but it will reduce the spray of Anons blasting away with typical anon brio. I'd rather avoid seeing other friends snapped into poor mental health via their unwise choices and bad behavior.
A hot microphone on the Internet is like leaving one's swimming pool un-gated; they shouldn't have been there, and can blame only themselves, yet it's nonetheless unpleasant to stroll into one's backyard and discover floaters.
If you don't have a Google account and would like to comment, please 1. let me know (so I can understand the problems I'm causing) and 2. send me your comment via email and I'll post it for you myself, just as a stopgap.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fake Review Mystery Solved

So, regarding yesterday's quizzler (and thanks to Ken, Barbara, Tucker, Max, Flithrandra, Vanessa, Vanessa2, Vanessa3, Little Timmy, Anon3023, Vanessa4, Dave's Daughter Dave, The ICEman Goth, "Mogen" David, Newzealandpithicus, Teen Spirit, Anonymous Frank Nesbitt, and all the other Vanessas for posting their guesses)...

Inevitably, Chowhound attracted dishonest guerrilla marketing. Business owners or their relatives, friends, or publicists would post a profusion of rave reviews under different aliases. We called this "shilling". When we caught them, we'd erase it all and suggest that they direct their energy toward making their restaurant so good that real people have no choice but to rave about it. You can't con people into liking your restaurant.

But here's the surprising thing: good places shilled, too. Including some famous beloved good places. When we caught on, the response from the restaurateur was inevitable: we have all the customers and reputation we need; we don't need to stuff your ballot box.

If only.

It boils down to this: shmucks gonna shmuck. Restaurateurs - even really good ones - are like any other group; some are fine upstanding people, while others are dishonest. And the deceptive/dishonest ones can't help it. That's their approach, and it doesn't shut off just because their short ribs are scrumptious and the seats are full. Success and honesty are unrelated parameters.

Counterintuitively, restaurants don't shill because they suck and feel the need to compensate. For one thing, sucky restaurateurs don't recognize that they suck; they all think they're nailing it. They shill because they see a publicity avenue, and publicity's like profit: you can never have too much.

So when Fakespot finds a shilled Amazon product, discounts the fake reviews, and offers an adjusted star rating identical to the original, it's because the product is both good and shilled. And that's so surprising to our assumptions of how we imagine things work that just about everyone will find it mystifying.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fake Review Mystery examines Amazon reviews for honesty, grading every product's star rating for honesty/reliability.
Chowhound's moderators and I did this same work day in and day out for the better part of a decade. It wasn't an automated process; we relied on deep experience hosting a forum that many characters found attractive for marketing purposes as a way to guerrilla market and foment word-of-mouth via fake testimonials. If the operation was going to have any value, we needed to weed that stuff. So we got good at it. Work hard/long enough on something - even something seemingly impossible - and you'll get good at it.
In addition to grading reliability, Fakespot readjusts the Amazon rating, disregarding the phony ratings and re-averaging the remainder. Here's an example, where Fakespot adjusted Amazon's 4.5 star rating down to 2.5 stars:
But there's a mystery: very often Fakespot's adjusted rating is exactly the same....even though the product was heavily fake-rated. Two examples:
How can a rating be fraudulent yet also accurate?

It's a deep question. I suspect that even Fakespot can't explain it. But I can, after spending a decade immersed in this extremely thin slice of human experience.

I'll give the answer tomorrow [here it is]. Feel free to guess in the comments.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

You Are Absolutely Right!

People don't want to hear the truth. This is what they want to hear:
You are absolutely right!
It's so engrained that just reading those words likely lifted your mood by like 1%.
You are absolutely right!
It's like a massage, no?
You are absolutely right!
Would anyone be foolish enough to bet against my prediction that this posting will be extremely well-read just because of its title?
You are absolutely right!
I've worked 56 years to eagerly suss out my wrongness. I feast on my wrongness. And in the process - almost as a side effect - I appear to be getting righter and righter, though I scarcely notice, because I feel perennially wrong. The wrongness is what I'm focused on. Having witnessed how spectacularly stupid I can be, I can't - and never will - accept myself as anything but. And this, in turn, leaves me disinclined to tell people that...
You are absolutely right!
....even though that is (literally) how one Wins Friends and Influences People.
You are absolutely right!
I used to figure people just feared bad news. That's why they hate to be surprised; to have their viewpoint challenged; to unfreeze their perspective and embrace other possibilities.

But that's not it. They're just as opposed to good news. If you tell them their lifelong negativity has been unnecessary, and that all their problems have been self-indulgently concocted, and it can all get much much better right in this moment, all they'll hear is "You're wrong!" And that's not what they want to hear. What they want to hear is:
You are absolutely right!
As I've often noted, people would much rather feel smart than be smart (the two are incompatible; this is the basis for the Dunning–Kruger effect). But that doesn't go far enough. People would rather feel smart and be miserable than be happy.

It traces, in part, back to the original sin of an offhanded decision we all make in childhood re: how happy we'll allow ourselves to be. We work tenaciously to maintain our chosen equilibrium; to avoid over-happiness.

Have you ever wondered why literally no one ever links to this Slog, even though it's read by a couple hundred successful and outspoken people? Sometimes a "like" but never a "share"? Well, here you have it. This undertaking is devoted to counterintuitive insight - to showing you you're wrong, while (desperately) hoping to inspire you with the good news. 

A writer can either flatter readers or else surprise - and possibly inspire - them, but not both. Writers who flatter do so for their own elevation. Writers who surprise do so to elevate their readers...and must never expect recognition, because they've declined to utter the magic words. #YAAR

Country Over Party

We all just spent three years insisting that secretly Trump-loathing Republican officials put country over party despite 90% Republican voter approval of Trump. We've indignantly demanded their political suicide to serve a patriotic goal we profess to consider supreme to all others: removing Trump.

I, along with other moderates, ask Progressives to likewise put country over party. They may do so without any headwind, much less obliteration! They would survive to push their agenda at a later date, once the menace is gone. We ask far less of them than they themselves have asked of Republican politicians!

Progressives: where is your self-effacing patriotic sacrifice?

When it's time to step up, you alienate moderates in places like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Texas with talk of reparations and publicly-funded late-term abortions, and by tarring your own leadership as racists? You zealously compete with each other to concoct the most extreme policies to throw in the face of moderate (and Trump-averse conservative) America with sanctimonious relish, spraying radical liberal pheromones all over anti-Trumpism until everyone out-of-tribe is viscerally repelled? You'd eschew restraint and talk full-throatedly about Socialism...while knee-capping fascist/racist moderate DINOs like Biden until they're so tarnished to primary voters that there's no choice but to nominate a firebrand with idealogical purity who'll lose 48 states so you can feel smugly right?


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Train Home to New York from Oregon

I flew to Eugene Oregon, what feels like months ago, on a last-minute flight, with a cold. My ears were incredibly unhappy with this, and never popped (even now, I can’t hear through my left ear). I visited an emergency room and was told I’d risk a perforated ear drum if I got on a plane, so I needed to make, as they say, "other plans" to get home.

I happened to already be driving a rental car with Idaho plates, so I asked Avis whether they wanted me to do them the favor of returning it to Idaho. "We don’t really care about plates; the cars all just sort of float around in a vast pool," I was told. So I asked about renting a car to be dropped off in NYC, and was told that a $400 extra charge would apply due to the one-directional rental. The agent made these paradoxical statements with no trace of irony or apology. In fact, it was conveyed with relish; "I’m-shamelessly-screwing-you-right-to-your-face" relish.

Car transport agencies contemptuously turned me down, as if I were a meth head looking for a car so I could yank out the wiring and sell the copper. Apparently only very carefully-selected, high-status individuals are allowed to perform this work.

So AMTRAK it was. I’d need to wait three days for an affordable berth, and it’d be a seat rather than a sleeper because while seats cost $240, sleepers run around $1000. But, hey, the seat reclines, so it’d be totally cool! 

Thus began my odyssey on The Empire Builder (Portland to Chicago; 45 hours) and The Lake Shore Limited (Chicago to NY Penn station; 20 hours), followed by a jaunt to JFK to pick up my car from an off-site lot whose courtesy van driver had great trouble accepting that I hadn't actually flown home from Oregon.

I won’t offer a diary, as there are plenty of them on the Internet (like this one). Just some random notes.
Note: photos below.

I’m a fan of the "long way round" dramatic trope, e.g. Ewan McGregor’s world-circling motorcycle trip and my favorite Doctor Who episode, Heaven Sent, where the flippantly time traveling Doctor gets trapped in a situation requiring him to traverse 4.5 billion years the hard way. This framed the trip and made it bearable.

The food is surprisingly good. Which is not to say it’s good. It’s not good, it’s bad. But it’s way better bad food than you’d expect. Honestly artless, rather than brutal.

There were tons and tons of Amish people on both trains. Did you know Amish people can actually take cars, they just can’t drive them? Since they’re not driving the train, this is apparently cool. They’re all speaking the otherwise extinct form of German they’ve time-capsuled, especially when they don’t want the “fancy” people (is that the term? I knew this sort of stuff as a kid) to understand. Sort of like my parents talking Yiddish around the kids, which was, come to think of it, another time-capsule version of earlier German.

Montana is a country. It’s like Texas but without stuff.

The top of the Mississippi River (we crossed it along the Minnesota/Wisconsin border) is nearly as delta-ish as the bottom.

The Lake Shore Limited went from Chicago to NYC via Buffalo/Rochester/Albany rather than through Pennsylvania, an eight hour detour. It did not phase me. On a 65 hour trip, 8 hours is rounding error.

We were also forced to wait for an hour at a dead stop tantalizingly close to Chicago. This was barely enough time for me to sneeze, find my water, and check the weather report. I live in half-days. Minutes shoot by so fast I hardly parse them.

You know things are really messed up when you approach Buffalo - not in a plane - and think "hey, I’m getting close!" I hope I haven't permanently stretched my perception of time.

A highly-experienced AMTRAK passenger from Wisconsin with stage-4 cancer and a hacking cough (he had to tell me about the cancer to relieve my anxiety about the hacking cough) told me that Amish women inevitably wreck the bathrooms. He explained this in slightly greater detail than I’m willing to go into here, but still not enough to make any sense whatsoever. Yet I suspect this bit of random bullshit will forever lodge in my mind: Amish women will take out your bathroom, dude. It’s something to watch out for and to worry about. Add it to the pile.

There was plenty of time to reconstruct some of my previous traveling amnesia, realizing quite clearly that sleep deprivation deeply colors any traveling experience. That’s why traveling always seems slightly blurry in retrospect. In this case, it’s a blessing. Shortened/degraded sleep induces a fugue state fueling the zombification which helps you withstand a 65 hour voyage. Do not attempt this while alert!

One day I found myself in three time zones. How is this “gentler” than jet lag crammed into three hours? It’s still just one day. I don’t understand how it would have lower impact.

Interesting people don’t chatter at strangers.

While nearly everyone talks to strangers in some way at some time, only a few make a habit of it, and those people have a Rap. They're performing this rap for you (which means they're performing it for themselves, with you watching), and it's a narrative they've ceaselessly repeated to themselves, and though it's of absolutely no interest to anyone else, they feel an exhibitionist compulsion to say it out loud to an audience in order to carve out a sense of self-significance, of "having their story heard."

This is not a healthy thing. I think many people sense this, and it's why most people shut down most idle conversation from strangers. It's not unfriendliness, per se. It's just that most idle conversation from strangers is not going to be friendly, it's going to be needy.

I did, however, have a real conversation with someone next to whom I was crammed into a dinner table. We spoke mostly as a survival tactic.

An Idaho native, he’d been an airline pilot, but was let go for lacking the necessary veneer of certainty. As a completely unaffected person, he’d been reported by a fellow officer for curiously asking questions about stuff rather than feigning omniscience.

Like a surprisingly large chunk of the country, he’s resorted, out of desperation, to menial labor in the North Dakota oil fields, where he repeated his mistake of asking questions and confessing ignorance. One of his coworkers scolded him, saying it's important that he pretend to know everything.

I tried to explain about people-who-seem versus people-who-are, but, bright though he is, it was too alien a concept for him. One of the last genuine people is being ground down into dust, and can't understand why. You could see that he was once handsome and hardy, but his shoulders were stooped and brow furrowed as he approached his latest two week unbroken shift of 15 hour days. He has bills to pay, so he, an intelligent man, must feign omniscience among know-nothings to hold on to his $20/hour job.

The photos are so, so much better if you click to expand:

A rural hunter with his wife in knickers (left) chat amiably with an Amish elder (second from right) and a Latino conductor (right) as we wait for more train ("more train"!) to be added on in Spokane. America's still America if you get off Twitter for a minute.

Unhealthy thoughts. The train paused in the middle of  western Montana for some reason and I swear to god the trees were inching toward us.

Whitefish Montana is by far the most tumultuous stop on the whole trip. I can't for the life of me figure out why so many people are trying to get into and out of Whitefish. Guess I missed the memo.

Snow-capped mountain (in July) in the distance. I'm at 3400 feet in Glacier National Park, and, thanks to the miracle of geo tagging, I've determined that this is 7,877 foot Mount Penrose.

The train needs to stop every couple hours to give smokers their moment. A significant percentage of riders seem to be smokers avoiding multi-hour trips without a fix. I walked the length of the train each time, averaging over 2 miles walking per day.

The juxtaposition of momentous travel with utterly banal detail is a big part of the delight. Welcome to our brief stop for leg-stretching and lung cancer in Havre, MT, home of Hammer'n Hank Tweeten's Auto Body. I hope Hank's doing okay.

Crossing the top of the Mississippi River.

Six hour layover in Chicago. No-brainer!

Monday, July 8, 2019

An Example of Inducing Perceptual Reframing

I wrote in my previous posting that:
[Perceptual] framing comes from within, but it’s contagious. If you’re empathetic enough, and a person is willing to have their lens refocused, it’s not hard to induce a reframing.
To induce reframing in others, you first need to develop the trick, yourself (as I’ve mentioned, I’m working on a book of exercises to help people do exactly that. It’s a tutorial for a lost human faculty; for a muscle we forget to flex).

Artists - at least, great ones - intuitively traffic in this sort of thing:
"Art is any human creation devised to induce a reframing of perspective.”
...though, ironically, they don’t frame it this way.

Non-great artists simply ply their craft, painting or singing or cooking skillfully, following their training and tradition without the magic - the je ne sais quoi - that kindles transcendence. This explains why great artists are a whole other thing, and not just marginally better versions of good artists

To be moved and inspired, we must be induced into reframing. Our perspective shifts, and the world shifts with it. No one can force us, but we’re highly suggestible.

While humanity remains mostly asleep to the full scope of framing latitude (by reframing we actually traverse the Multiverse), art has been the realm where we’ve concentrated most of our fledgling efforts (also: spirituality; also: hypnosis). Those efforts go back so far that we’ve forgotten much of what was developed eons ago (link skippers, please do read that one).

So how’s it done, exactly?

The ancient Greek maxim "Necessity is the mother of invention" offers a clue. It’s a deeper observation than it appears. Artists hit dead ends when they try to inspire. That’s just not how it works; it’s like trying to push a string. Best results come from responsiveness; a sensitive willingness to be usefully drawn from. That’s what mothers the invention. That’s how artists surprise even themselves.

Last week I delivered a eulogy knowing that the people I’d be addressing would feel wrecked. I saw a way to coax them to reframe, and it worked. Afterwards, the room was unrecognizable, moods markedly lifted. I found it a bit startling, honestly.

While the eulogy was generally appreciated as a performative piece and clever bit of writing, no one appeared to consciously register the transformation. That’s normal. We’re not used to such reflection. We go through life only foggily aware that what we see and feel is a product of framing. We’re nowhere near keyed in enough to recognize shifts as they unfold.

Accustomed to a world that appears to constantly shift, we feel helplessly along for a ride we ourselves have orchestrated via our framing, leaving us too fraught and distracted to witness the through line (this explains why no one has ever driven to Boston).
The mind does two things: think and frame. We pay infinitely more attention to our thought stream than to our framing, so while we unceasingly frame our thinking (unconsciously), we almost never think about our framing. We can, however, be trained to do so (though I don’t believe this has ever previously been proposed).
Below is my effort to induce a grieving crowd into reframing. It was an artistic endeavor, though of an unfamiliar sort, prompted by compassion. It also includes elements of spirituality and of hypnosis, though they, too, are unfamiliarly applied. I offer it not as a piece of writing to enjoy, but as an example of induced perceptual reframing. It’s not a matter of following directions, nor of presenting an argument. It’s coaxing. It’s indirect. It’s intuitive and subtextual. It’s a little bit magical.
I’m good at this. I’m not great at it (the potential scope is vast and I’ve barely dipped my toe), and I don’t want to get great at it. One day, someone will be great at it. As I explained last time, that person has the potential of being the Messiah.

Florence was not a big talker.

And, like most non-big-talkers, she attracted big talkers. Her whole life! Nature abhors a vacuum.

She didn’t mind being talked at. She enjoyed time with other people. But I can assure you that whoever you are, and however much she liked you, or even loved you, when you hung up the phone or closed the door, she did something I saw 10,000 times:

[Deep breath] “Peace and quiet!"

She’d taste the silence. And she’s find it...sooo delicious. She loved silence even more than chocolate ice cream. It’s where she lived. It’s what she was. Enjoying silence for her was like silk sheets. She felt like a cup of water being poured into the ocean.

Already, I’m getting toward the end of the usefulness of words. I could talk and talk without getting any closer, plus I’d self-consciously feel her waiting for the peace and quiet part. The part AFTER I shut up. The GOOD part. The part that felt to her like home.

I’m normally good at this. I’m a professional writer. But whatever I say, it will just be words filling silence; delaying the deliciousness.

And anyway, it’s not like I could pay her tribute by stringing together a bunch of “...and then she did THIS!” statements. Her life wasn’t a dramatic narrative of experiences and accomplishments. “And then she traveled to Canada!!”, etc. She wasn’t Marco Polo!

Nor was she a hovering maternal presence in an apron with cherry pie cheeks. That wasn’t her, either. There’s really nothing to be said in words here. She wasn’t this and she wasn’t that. She wasn’t even “dear old mom”. She wasn’t anything, yet she certainly wasn’t nothing.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past couple days is that whenever I seek out that delicious silence, myself, and bask in it, it’s like she’s standing right there. Right there!

So I have an idea. Rather than me going on and on, filling up her beloved peace and quiet, let’s go straight there. Let’s taste the deliciousness of silence. Not the pious “moment of silence” people do at funerals, feeling all tight and straining to think deep thoughts and making themselves sad and shaky. Let’s go the OTHER way. Taste the silence in the room...and find it delicious; find it luxurious. And in that delicious luxury, let’s see if I’m right.

If so, that means no funeral. No ending. Just the same endless repose in the silk sheets of silence. Join me. I’m about to FINALLY stop talking. The good part’s coming! Remember to TASTE it! Here I will start coiling the spring by increasing my rate of speech, more and more intensity! Look, I’m even starting to wave my arms around!! And........!!!

[Deep breath]

Peace and quiet......

Friday, July 5, 2019

You Can Be The Messiah

I figured out that we’re living in Utopia by trying to devise a more utopian Utopia than what we’ve currently got...and discovering that I couldn’t. And I figured out why God lets bad things happen to innocent children by contemplating a world where he doesn’t, and realizing that we’d detest it. I’d like to apply this sort of counterfactual thinking to the notion of messiahs.

The scenario of “Dude appears and makes everything all better" sounds lovely, of course, but it begs the question of what “all better“ would look like. So let’s consider some prospective messiahs, and see how effective their tricks might truly be.
I’ve warned of the perils of climbing ladders before considering whether you really want to wind up where they lead. We think we understood the maxim “Be careful what you wish for," yet it still takes great discipline to bear down and really game out hopes and desires. 56 years into this, I still often turn out not to really want what I thought I wanted. It’s really hard, and this is what I’m tackling the largest possible scale.
HAPLESS MESSIAH #1: Chocolate Cake

Everyone gets a delicious slice of chocolate cake. That’s it. Delicious chocolate cake right here, right now, courtesy of Chocolate Cake Messiah. It’s not long-lasting, and it’s not deep, but if your goal is to salve mankind (if not save it), it’s a reasonable approach to aim to slightly soothe, en masse.

Once the allergic have been released from hospital; and crime victims (following the worldwide blood sugar plunge) have healed their wounds and recovered their property; and the starving have reluctantly returned to their diet of bugs, grubs, and berries having briefly refreshed their deprivation, and the rich (whose main gripe is overabundance) fall into a post-sugar malaise about their love handles, that’s when the relatively few who fully appreciated the yummy cake begin to create sad stories about how it’s ALL GONE NOW. NO MORE CAKE. MAYBE NO MORE CAKE EVER.

All in all, Chocolate Cake Messiah has, alas, made things worse.


Your pain - psychic or physical - is gone. Just like that. Poof!

But then, of course, it snaps right back. Because bodies and psyches are built for it. So the Painless Time becomes a forlorn memory. People flail to recreate it. Cults pop up devoted to reestablishing it. People lose their minds, because pain, which no longer seems inevitable, becomes far more difficult to bear.

As with the Chocolate Cake Messiah, disruption creates unintended consequences. The seeds were instantly planted for pain’s resumption. As is true with all respites, an inner spring contracts, ready to fuel the Drama of the Bad Times that inevitably follow. “This is what we have to lose!" smoothly dissolves into “That was what we once had!", the cycle repeating endlessly. You may try to weigh down one side of the seesaw, but you can’t freeze the process because that’s how it works here in Cause/Effect World, where it’s always something, and where Jane can never stop this crazy thing.

HAPLESS MESSIAH #3: Problem Solver

The problem is that very few people have actual problems (here’s how to tell the difference). They create fake ones as a lifelong project, building woeful narratives like proud works of art. If you puncture it all by showing them that their problems aren’t really problems, you’ve shit all over their Big Project. You will not make friends, much less save humanity.

People fall in love with their pain and with their problems because those things are their big creations; their work; their legacy. The rare problem that’s not self-created is even more valuable. If you can declare yourself a "cancer survivor", it’s like it’s your birthday. It’s your specialness badge!

My mom died last week. I haven’t told many people, and have been amusing myself by observing the moments when I feel the urge to blurt it out. Inevitably it’s when I crave special treatment or consideration. The potential drama badge feels - to quote the inimitable Rob Blagojevich - "fucking golden!" No wonder people mire in this stuff. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! MY SPECIAL DAY!

There’s a new trope among young people: “Don’t try to fix my problems, just sympathize with my bitching" (they don’t use the word "bitching", of course; that’s just me being a prick). Seek out a cave and spend a month or two pondering that utterance and the Deepest Truths will be revealed to you.

So, anyway, Problem Solver Messiah: yeah, good luck with that.

HAPLESS MESSIAH #4: Love Spreader

Emotions are contagious. It’s super easy to make people angry (per above, the easiest route is to try to help), but it’s also possible to delight them. And just as you don’t need to be harmful to anger them, you can shortcut to unearned delight, too. You needn’t spend years developing viola skills or lofty oratory. Emotional nerves are ready to be struck. You needn’t be a paragon of melting loveliness to stoke love (this might be one route).

Say someone gets really good at this and lights up swathes of humanity like Christmas trees, raising human mojo en masse. This is something “spiritual" people often wish for - a pandemic raising of consciousness. So let’s imagine that it happens. What’s next?

Easy one. People channel their newfound ardor into whatever normally absorbs their attention. Ladies: do you find guys creepy and sexually persistent? Well, just wait till their sap rises.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve induced a highly elevated and refined sort of love that’s very non-sexual. Consider the guy I once met who’d driven through Jasper National Park and was generous enough to tell me the scenery was so gorgeous he needed to pull his car over and masturbate - an image I’ve never managed to unimagine (you’re welcome), but which helpfully taught me that, for many people, rote sexuality is like a black hole easily capable of accomplishing whatever the opposite of "transcendence" is.
So Love Spreader Messiah will spur a worldwide spate of masturbation...and much worse. If you’re hopped up on some cause, a great big jolt of ardor will grease those wheels. That’s how planes get crashed into skyscrapers. People who commit such acts are not cold-blooded villains; they’re hot-headed fanatics driven in terrible directions by wild, incendiary love.

Sorry, hippies, but Love is agnostic. As much evil can been perpetrated from love as goodness. That’s why you really don’t want to tinker with the amplitude. The vast majority of people absolutely should not have their heads heated. Most wouldn’t know what to do with the extra zeal, and the rest would stoke whatever dopey or harmful cause they’re into. And none would take a reflective moment to consider how their fervid actions might affect others. Thoughtfulness stems from coolness, not heat.

So if you want to hand out flowers in airports or whatever, god bless, but let’s never, as a world, hack in on the wellspring of it all. Anyone doing so would be not a Messiah but the angel of frickin’ death.

HAPLESS MESSIAH #5: Wish Granter

What do alcoholics wish for? Booze. Will it help them? No.
What do control freaks wish for? Obediance. Will it help them? No.
What do narcissists wish for? Attention. Will it help them? No.
What do depressives wish for? Isolated rumination. Will it help them? No.
What do victims wish for? Revenge. Will it help them? No.

I could keep going. But it should be clear that 90% of fervent wishes backfire, and the remaining 10% (a bigger house, a more expensive car, a pay raise, a more attractive or obliging spouse) represent futile attempts to satisfy the unsatisfiable; to fill an unfillable psychic hole. For someone somewhere, your apartment is unimaginably huge, your car is shmancy, and your spouse is AMAZING. So how delighted are you with your good fortune? 

Obviously, it’s nothing but discontent all the way down the line. So Wish Granter Messiah would, alas, leave us more deeply ensnared in our bottomless neediness.

Where does this leave us? The cake wouldn’t help them; their pain grows back; and making them happy makes them sad makes them happy makes them sad. Solving their problems pisses them off; filling them with love wrecks the world; and granting their wishes just shows how dumb their wishes were.

If you spend years thinking about it, as I have, you cannot escape the overarching truth: it’s not about your situation, it’s about your perspective. Playing the cards you’re dealt. Making lemonade from lemons. So the answer is always to Flip the scenario. To reframe. That’s the only relief, the only salvation, the only happiness. Tinker not with the circumstances but with the interpretation; the subjectivity.
I won’t offer an umpteenth explanation of reframing here. If you’re new to the Slog, you can start here or here, or read previous writings on the topic (in reverse chronological order) here. It’s slippery stuff; not because it’s intellectual/philosophical, but because it’s something almost no one thinks about, even though we all do it constantly. So it’s like trying to explain swimming to fish.
32nd Street is a different universe if you’ve just been kissed for the first time...or if you’ve just been dumped. The two are absolutely not the same streets. While we assume framing is forced upon us by circumstance, we actually have infinite freedom to frame any scenario in an infinitude of ways. We simply forget that we have that freedom, and fall into habits of framing in certain ways, mostly via tropes we’ve seen in movies (see this posting where I survey the empty cinematic clich├ęs we use to stoke our grief).

From a messianic standpoint, it’s true that reframings aren’t always permanent. In fact, the beauty of viewpoint is its endless pliancy. And our churning whirlwind of worldly foibles rules out permanency of any sort. But consider the immediate moment. While human transformation is notoriously rare, every instance seems to have been induced by a reframing of perspective. Whether it "sticks" or not, those who manage to reframe never forget the experience. Shifts shift. So if you’re gonna Messiah this joint, reframing is clearly the way to go.


Framing comes from within, but it’s contagious. If you’re empathetic, and people are willing to have their lenses refocused (i.e they’re not "don’t-fix-my problems-just-sympathize-with-my-bitching" people), it’s not hard to induce a reframing. Perhaps I’ve managed it on occasion via this Slog for some of you; a small magic trick possible because, for now, I’m unfortunately the only person drawn to this least in this way. I’ll explain:
Some people can spur others to reframe in certain ways. That’s what art is all about, for example. As I once wrote, "Art is any human creation devised to induce a reframing of perspective." Also, gifted salesmen close sales by changing perspective. A number of people have some visceral notion of reframing, and may have developed ways to induce it in others for fun or profit. But I think everyone misses the sheer magnitude - the infinitude - of framing options, and the effortlessness with which perspective can flip, landing anyone instantly anywhere - i.e. on any possible iteration of 32nd Street (this is what the multiverse is). Vast numbers of human beings have laboriously mastered the art of living as if they’ve just been dumped, but vanishingly few recognize they can just as easily choose to live as if they’ve just been kissed. It’s all a matter of framing; a simple flip of perspective.
No other Messiah holds water. "Reframing Messiah" is the only Messianic Messiah; the only one who can really make things better; the only stoker of transformation; the only bringer of genuine freedom and happiness. Reframing is the sole route to salvation. Poke people out of frozen perspectives and into recognition of their infinitely lithe freedom of viewpoint. Tney needn’t be coaxed them toward positivity; it’s better to inhabit a higher vantage point where gratuitous negativity seems needless and is dropped.

Now you know, and you can work on it, and perhaps help others to reframe. If even just a small percentage of people recognize that this is like a smartphone feature they hadn’t realized they possess, a bunch will soon get way better at this than me. If so, you can be The Messiah, and spark an era wherein people remember that perspective is a freedom to choose, not a prison to which they’re condemned.

Leave a person in a quiet room, and he might meditate and one day leave in a state of vast peace. Put some bars on the window and the same person might decay into a debilitated wreck.
I don’t want the gig, and my dawning recognition that I’m weirdly ahead on this gives me the willies. Everyone knows lots about food and beer now, so the world will surely catch up and surpass on framing, too. Please do surpass me. It’s not hard. As I once wrote, there’s nothing special about being first. The first popping kernel doesn't make the other kernels pop. An underlying current carries us all.

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