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Author Topic: Are we living in a Brave New World?  (Read 20518 times)

Offline Matt Emery

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Are we living in a Brave New World?
« on: May 27, 2007, 06:29:43 AM »
If you get the reference from the title, you'll know i'm referring to the work of Aldous Huxley and his book "Brave New World".

In the book he describes a society that thinks it is happy; because it has accomplished great things with science and globalisation... sound familiar?  Do you ever look around and question why we work a rigid 9 hour day and have weekends to recover so we can go back to work and do it all again?  And have you noticed that we are living in "the Century of Self" - where it's all about oneself - not so much about the family or tribe?

I'm not happy with the way things are - i've never been - and even in my happiest times there are feelings of unease, like there is something not quite right....

I think we are living in a completely unnatural society, and the only way to happiness in this society is distraction from it.

I often wonder if the Australian Aboriginals or African Masai even had a word in there language for "holiday" or "employment" - to them, the very idea must seem foolish....  So what can I do?  A lot actually - and I can start by asking questions, lots of them.  This website is one big question, asking "is there a better way to live our lives?"

I'm open to discussion  ;)
"Be true to your biology"

Offline gibletsqueezer

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 12:14:49 AM »
Work all week to earn money, just to pay the bills and have something left over to spend on the weekend? That reality resonates with me now, especially because I feel I am underpaid and the job is fairly mundane. But, I once had a job I really enjoyed, doing something I was good at and that interested me - also I was well paid. During that period I enjoyed myself and rarely did my thoughts dwell on the annoyance of having to do something for payment - having to rent myself for payment, in order to survive.

To me, feelings of dissatisfaction with life in general are usually linked to the idea of being inextricably caught up in a situation where I feel forced to do something I would otherwise not do, given the choice.
With just this 'one' life to live (I am an atheist)) - why work 5 days a week doing stuff that is meaningless in the long run and only serves to inject a sense of 'importance' or 'imperative'  into our lives. Isn't all this a bill of goods we were all sold?

But then again - without some sense of purpose, no matter how vague or insipid to your sensibilities, isn't life just one boring day after another? I wonder, If you didn't have the trappings of society to escape from - would you really head off on those weekends to get back to nature and cavemanpower?

Offline Matt Emery

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2007, 08:14:04 AM »
To me, feelings of dissatisfaction with life in general are usually linked to the idea of being inextricably caught up in a situation where I feel forced to do something I would otherwise not do, given the choice.

But then again - without some sense of purpose, no matter how vague or insipid to your sensibilities, isn't life just one boring day after another?

Yes, my dissatisfaction is almost overwhelming, almost all of the time.  It is the "search for meaning" that has led me to make this website, because I am dissatisfied with society and because I suspect that i'm not the only one who feels that way.  I rarely ever get bored, just depressed or anxious.

I think modern society promotes sickness (largely motivated by greed and fear).  However, personally, I do strive to take total responsibility for the way I feel all of the time... without blaming, and paradoxically, this is the state of mind that has led me to ask "can we do this better (society)"?  Imagine a gigantic suggestion box - where everybody had a say, everybody was included, imagine combing the collective intelligence of 6 billion people?  It would likely never happen, but the thought is pretty nice.

Viktor Frankl explored the "search for meaning" intensely and came up with Logotherapy (meaning therapy), he says;

  • Life has meaning under all circumstances -- even the most miserable ones.
  • Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  • We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

A short introduction to this system is introduced in Frankl's most famous book, "Man's Search for Meaning", in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience. The goal with the book is to summarize Logotherapy in 7 core principles that can be applied to one's life. These core principles are:

  • Exercise the freedom to choose your attitude (a freedom that can never be taken away)
  • Realize your will to meaning
  • Detect the meaning of life's moments
  • Don't work against yourself
  • Look at yourself from a distance
  • Shift your focus of attention
  • Extend beyond yourself

And perhaps most interesting, he proposed that the USA install a "Statue of Responsibility" - it's seriously happening - check it out here http://www.sorfoundation.org/

A friend told me about Viktor last night, I had no idea about the man or his work - wow... i'm blown away.

PS thanks for dropping by, i've looking forward to seeing you here!  :P
"Be true to your biology"

Offline gibletsqueezer

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2007, 02:09:50 PM »
I went to http://www.sorfoundation.org/ - for the life of me, I can't see what he's getting at. I don't see how building a statue to the idea of 'responsibility' has any meaning or will achieve anything. You cannot get life affirming attributes from a statue. The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the US by the French as a gesture of friendship between the two nations - it commemorates the nation's birth. No one in their right mind takes their idea of "liberty" from the statue itself - appreciating its form delivers no understanding of the concepts of liberty and justice - it is just a work in recognition of an idea. Its the "idea" that needs to be got - and people have to "get it" before you think about commemorating it.

I haven't read right through the site, so maybe I'm missing the central proposition - but it seems to me, building cooperation and a cause around that project is sort of jumping the gun.

'Meaning' is what we are after - but it is 'life' that distracts us. There's no intrinsic life affirming meaning in a dirty nappy or going to work - that's just life.  What's disappointing to many people is that - in their life-long search for meaning, all they find is dirty nappies and no sugar left at the coffee machine.

Clearly a search for meaning has been a useful adjunct to our evolutionary survival - and it pushes us. The trick is to effectively disengage from that groove for the annoying aspects in your life that offer no useful meaning and get on with life.

It is 'Depression' that leads us to obsess on those useless grooves -


Offline Matt Emery

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2007, 02:33:27 AM »
Yeah, the website is fairly long winded.  Their premise however, is this; responsibility must go hand in hand with liberty

You are right, depression does lead us to obsess on 'the meaning of things' ad nauseam.  Additionally, depression demands focus upon itself - which in turn propagates it further.   I personally don't obsess on finding "meaning" - although I am certainly more inclined to ponder it during melancholia (as you've pointed out earlier).

I am more interested in clarity, and it's during times of depression that I often find clarity.  Perhaps because depression is conducive to quiet reflection, and as a result; insight.  I'm not saying that depression = enlightenment, but I do think it has a healthy and natural role in our psyche.

Anyway, i'm going slightly off topic but the upshot is, that i'm extremely fascinated in how primal man might have lived - from a psychological point of view - prior to the contemporary centricities we all harbour these days.  Because within that could be numerous insights into the rationale of the human mind.
"Be true to your biology"

Offline gibletsqueezer

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2007, 04:04:22 PM »
Yeah - I think the sort of historical comparison you make about work and leisure, health and fitness is interesting - and I was only referring to the statue idea outlined on that website.

I wonder whether the sort of dissatisfaction you feel about how things are, is a feature response seen in people of every age? Were Australian Aborigines envious of some of the trappings of the European invaders? Their technology and their ability to transport vast amounts of materials and people? Or did they see those attributes as curiosities? Did they appreciate what it all meant? Having seen other methods and ways of life - were some given to entertain the thought that perhaps some ways of the Colonists made life easier. Did they appreciate the future fact of their inevitable assimilation?

I personally wouldn't lump Aborigines into an association that refers to 'cavemen'. Certainly some resided for periods in caves and adorned many with their depictions of stories, life and their surroundings - but weren't they nomadic? I really don't know enough about their culture to appreciate the quality of their life and their health. It would be interesting to know the average life span pre the arrival of white man.

Offline Matt Emery

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2007, 12:32:45 AM »
The topic really is a big one, and some of the questions you've mentioned are huge! I wish I knew more about it myself.

Is there anybody out there who can join in with some answers here?!??!?!
« Last Edit: June 11, 2007, 07:36:14 AM by Matt Emery »
"Be true to your biology"

Offline Kels

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2007, 07:04:29 PM »
I hope I am not jumping in too late, but I couldn't resist commenting on this topic and perhaps starting another discussion.

First, I want to say Matt: ROCK ON! This is a great site! I have been dabbling with once a day eating for a while, not for losing weight (I'm a 5'4" female, about 112 lbs), but for health, discipline, and as you've noted on the website, it is more in tune with how we were meant to eat (it saves money, too!). I have much more to say on the diet and fitness aspects, but I don't want to get off topic here.

The thread that you, Matt, and gibletsqueezer (I think I got that right!) had going on the topic of existing in this world, which is what it seems like so much of the time, really hit home for me. So often I feel like I am going through the motions, as both of you noted, in working for a pay check, but never really feeling like I am accomplishing anything. Many times I feel disconnected from the people around me - coworkers, friends, family. They all seem to be okay with the status quo, so I feel like an outsider, always looking for something more, something deeper, something real for myself and in a connection to another person who sees life like I do.

I'm making a career change to be more connected to people in need (going to nursing school once I finish some prerequisite classes) in an attempt to fill the void that I can't even name. I've worked at several jobs - good ones for several years each - but nothing has been quite fulfilling yet.

And it isn't just work. It is society as a whole that isn't sitting well with me. I have removed myself from many accepted norms, such as I don't have cable and no longer watch television, I eat once a day rather than snack and nibble my way through the day, and I don't like accumulating material possessions. I find all those distractions from real living. Living a little outside the norm offers an interesting perspective. My opinion is that in looking "in" from the outside, what we have come to know as means to happiness (possessions, comfortable lifestyle, excess in every area, etc) build walls between us and LIFE. I don't want to go through life down the middle road, never knowing happiness because I don't know what it is to be sad, never really appreciating my food because I am never hungry, never knowing real love because I have never been alone and without. I could go on, but in a nutshell, these things that most people seek for happiness dull them from really living.

Personally, I want to experience it all - the extremes help you to know what life is about. I guess it is kind of yin-yang in a way. It isn't easy stepping outside conventional living, but it is helping me. Based on what I've seen of your website, I believe your philosophy, Matt, is along those same lines.

Sorry if I rambled and didn't make sense. It is late, and my brain is tired from my class work this afternoon.

Before I close, please let me compliment you, Matt, on your physique. The lean, toned, muscular physique is really attractive to women, not the distorted, almost deformed look of body builders.

Thanks for letting me vent. I know I have more to say on this topic, but not before a good night's sleep.

Kels

Offline Matt Emery

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2007, 05:33:16 AM »
Hi Kels, and welcome!

Thanks for the compliments Kels.  I'm thrilled that you are finding your own way to contentment, rather than drinking the same kool-aid as many mainstream people blindly do.

I too found that society didn't sit too well with me.  And this became very apparent after spending some time in the bush, where I basked in the freedom from all the stress of consumerism, false hopes, and the constant bombardment of mass marketing.  The bush is where I had many epiphanies, and it still is the place I go to feel real.

I am very, very excited for you.  I get a real buzz upon seeing people truly self actualise.

I'm behind you 100% and I hope that every moment with your new attitude is fresh and vivid  ;)

PS thanks for complimenting me on my physique, you'll have a friend for life with words like that.



"Be true to your biology"

Offline Kels

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2007, 05:48:03 PM »
Matt,

Thanks for your replies (this this and your blog)! Good to hear from you. How kind to share your insights on philosophy and nutrition.

I envy you going out into the bush like that to dig deep and find your true self. First and foremost, I you have the bush to go to! Living in the US, I guess I could substitute the woods or some other natural retreat. But there is something that seems primal and more wild about the bush that would help one fully disconnect from modern life - rather like Thoreau who said he "went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately," and "not, when it came time to die, discover that I had not lived." I've done mini-escapes on some wooded running trails where I'll find a quiet spot and just sit. Slowly but surely, "life" gets pushed to the back of your mind, and some clarity manages to sneak in. I love those moments.

It is exciting to take a chance, give up a sure thing (a secure, good-paying job, etc) to go for something that is more real at the very heart of it. I hope you have been able to find that, too. It seems this website is evidence of that. I'd love to read more of your thoughts and your philosophy should you care to share those with us "cubs."   :)

Re your blog response: you nailed it when you said "walk the walk." That's what it is about: living true to your beliefs, no matter how hard. I think people in the end really admire that. Hopefully I can spark enough interest to start a conversation and build from there.

I have a great quote from George Bernard Shaw I'll post soon (once I dig it up), but I'll close with one from Helen Keller: life is a daring adventure, or nothing!

Be well, my friend.

Kels

PS You are most welcome for the compliment. I really meant it! I was also going to mention you are really good looking, too, but I didn't want to overdo it on my first posting.  ;)

Offline Matt Emery

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2007, 05:12:00 PM »
Thanks Kels  ;)

Looking forward to hearing about your adventures!
"Be true to your biology"

Offline Ralah

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Re: Are we living in a Brave New World?
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2009, 06:54:43 AM »
Yes, we are.

Most people these days want to be led. They do not want to make their own decisions, take risks, or lose what they feel is 'stable' for them. In Buddhist philosophy, its stated that everything is temporary, or that everything changes, and nothing stays the same. The adaptability and reasoning that the human brain has evolved is being replaced by commercialism, instant gratification, and a state of non-thinking. The logical fallacy of 'argument from authority' tends to take precedence, and if challenged the fallacy of 'straw man' is used.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had their mind screaming at them saying 'this is not natural'. Up until recently, I paid no mind (pun) to it, but more and more I see the need for a more primal embracing of life. The need for survival is replaced by the need to keep 'the job', even if the job destroys one's spirit. The need to hunt is replaced by supermarkets. The 'us versus them' mentality is prevalent everywhere, even if it is unnecessary (ie, video games, race, job market). A healthy competition is good and natural, but if 'us versus' them is switched on almost all the time, what good is it going to do?

Kels:
A tangent off of what you said about 'going without': I knew I wanted to do artwork from a young age, but was never taught the value of hard work, just the ability to scrape by. The field I am studying to get into is highly competitive, and there are plenty of mediocre artists (hence, why I have to study and 'level up') trying to get in. Being in the military (for another 22 months), I have a steady paycheck, free health care, and a false sense of camaraderie. That being said, most people say 'stay in for 20 and get that pension' or 'why leave, its a nice steady paycheck'. I tried to explain to them that personal happiness goes so much further than a steady paycheck. I tend to just get head nods or blank stares. So, you aren't alone, especially on this board.