Parsing Strangers

For some odd reason today I was reminded of a young nephew by marriage in Solomon Islands. For a long time I knew him as Lotion, which admittedly is an odd name. That’s what everyone called him and that’s what he answered to.

I imagined it must be a nickname and he probably earned it when he was young after an unseemly spill of insect repellent lotion or some similar story. That story pleased me because he was a pleasant young man and I could imagine him as a really cute funny toddler. All the toddlers I met in the villages were totally adorable. Pampered and loved, but somehow never spoilt, they were eager little puppies, keen to please and help in any way they could. They never complained if given a grown up task to do and would labour away while everyone laughed lovingly at their struggle.

But I digress.

One day I had to help Lotion fill out a form for school. He had to write his name and for the first time I saw it written in English. Lawson.

“So thats how you spell your name”I said.

“Yes, L A W S O N. Lotion”.

“In English we say that ‘Lawson'”

“Yes, that’s right, “Lotion”.

It didn’t matter how I pronounced it, Lotion heard his name. That was an insight to me, but I am still trying to figure out to what.

Eyes Down

Maybe I need validation after all.  I’m achieving things.  I’m feeling pleased with myself.  I’ve lost 12 kg.  On Saturday I met some friends for a walk and a picnic at Mary Cairncross nature reserve and actually managed to walk considerably further than I have been able to do in well over a year.  It is a good place to walk. The gravel path is relatively even and there are seats situated conveniently along the tracks for old codgers like me to rest a bit.  Best of all, the wildlife is fascinating.  Lots of birds, some of which I haven’t met before.  The most  interesting was the green catbird, a species of bowerbird that has a cry like a wailing cat, or a baby.   I encountered a couple of pademelons, which are cute miniature wallabies that live in the rainforest.

I missed a python, as about half way up a loop track I realised I’d had enough, and should conserve my last energies for the return walk.  Of course, I later learned shortly after i sat down to rest and await the others’ return, they encountered a beautiful carpet python.  Just my luck.

Sitting still is a great way to see birds.  I saw my first yellow throated scrubwren.  By twittering with pursed lips against the back of my hand, as we do in New Zealand to attract the piwakawaka, I managed to get a pair of them to come quite close. But they flitted about so much and were so tiny, I could not get a picture. I had forgotten to take my cameras, and an iPhone is useless for this kind of photography.

Spot the bird.
Where the yellow breasted scrubwrens were:
pademelon
Believe it or not, there is a pademelon in this photo. It’s a ninja in the bush.

Today was another great day.  I disintered my mask and snorkel and, once in the water, soon learned that I can swim much better with them than without.  The ache in my neck and shoulders was not from swimming, but from holding up my head.  Once I started swimming head down and breathing through the snorkel everything became more efficient.  I swam faster, though still not as fast as my neighbours in the next lanes. It was easy to average 9 lengths per 15 minutes with a steady rhythm.  I did a length of the pool in less strokes.  I did 50 lengths easily in 90 minutes and set out to do another 50.  I managed 76 in 140 minutes and realised that I should have had more than coffee and a mandarin for breakfast.  Hunger gnawed at my vitals, and I thought of the lean beef curry waiting in the slow cooker.  So I called it a day.  More tomorrow.

I have been a face down swimmer for decades.  Today reminded me how I like to swim.  I have not used my mask and snorkel since Fiji, now ten years ago.  As soon as the ocean warms up a bit, I shall get out my Scubapro Jetfins and work on strengthening my legs. They are fins that take a lot of power to use.   I’ve had those fins since January 1979 in which year I won the Hawkes Bay underwater orienteering competition with them.  The last time I used them was in Fiji too.

 

Sortilège

BF85623B-4847-4915-9F57-1642FA32B3A2Voici un sortilège

  • trois yeux de serpent
  • trois oiseau volants
  • trois fruits suspendus
  • trois chaussures perdues
  • trois sourires de crocodile
  • trois doigts d’anguille
  • trois oreilles de souris
  • trois foies de lézard
  • trois orteils de canard
  • Trois yeux de limace
  • trois morceaux de glace
  • trois oeufs de coq vert
  • trois jambes de vers
  • trois bras de poisson
  • trois ailes de cochon
  • Trois langues de chat,
  • trois queues de rat,
  • trois gros crapauds,
  • Trois escargot
  • trois litres d’eau,  stagnante.
  1. Remuez  bien,
  2. mélangez bien,
  3. Trelin trelin, trelaron.

il n’y a pas de nuages ​​au Ciel’ 

Je m’inquiète pour ma santé mentale.

 

Purpose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This blog no longer serves any purpose.

I started it in part to stay in touch with my family,  partly to serve as a journal or memoir for when I became old and senile, and partly to see if I could develop a writing skill worthy of using on something more substantial.

I have my answers, and medical tests assure me I need not fear dementia.

I no longer need validation.  If I continue at all it will be just to post the best of my photographs.

 

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make
Lennon / McCartney

 

Changes.

At the end of the 1960s, and the mystical hippie dawning of the Aquarius age, we were all still searching for meaning.

The big four philosophers when I was 18 were Hesse, Vonnegut, Brautigan and Tolkien.

Of course I read other influential writers, but at the time I really believed everything I needed to know about being a decent human being was in the works of those four, though it took me another 50 years to really begin to understand why.

There was another influential book I encountered.

In the course of exploring the world I came upon the I Ching. inevitably. It had a great deal of credibility amongst the hippies of my generation. Of course I looked into it. I still have, in my lock-up in New Zealand, a beautiful translation from Chinese through German to English, of the I Ching by Richard Wilhelm.

Yarrow sticks were hard to come by where I grew up, but I was a numismatist, and had in my collection several of those fascinating old Chinese coins with square holes. It seemed appropriate to use them. Having designated which side was heads and which was tails, I had a culturally acceptable method of obtaining a randomly generated hexagram, in accordance with the instructions accompanying the book.

My youthful, hopeful self was quite surprised to find how seemingly accurate and appropriate was the advice I gleaned from the wise words of the Tao. The last remnants of my Roman Catholic superstition we’re slowly fading at the time (now only the guilt remains) and I could possibly have easily fallen into the woo mentality of believing some spiritual power, something beyond myself, was guiding me, through the words of the book.

But I read something – I don’t recall exactly where – some scientific article, perhaps, that said our brains were hard-wired to look for patterns. We look for visual patterns, such as potentially threatening animal or human shapes hiding in the trees, and we look for patterns of events and try to make some sense, often wrong, of the coincidences and causality.

The evolutionary advantage of this pattern recognition behaviour is in the significance of the value of the false positive over the false negative.

If I see what looks like a lion lurking in the bushes, and run, the likelihood of staying alive is increased, whether it is a real or imagined lion. If I decide it’s a trick of the light, and ignore it, my chances of survival are decreased if I am wrong.

The same principle applies if we recognise a pattern of events that seem to coincide. Should it rain enough times after we ask nature politely for a shower to water the crop, we may come to believe that asking causes rain.

The downside of this, is that as there is, or was, an evolutionary advantage to being superstitious. We suffered from pareidolia. It became an affliction. We came to see those shapes and faces in the bark of trees, as beings, and ascribed to them powers and motives. We recognised patterns of events, some like the celestial movements, or the seasons, quite real. Then some smart arse recognised the patterns of our own behaviour, saw an opportunity for power and put himself forward as an intermediary between the common people and the spiritual world. And we got religion.

But I digress. I was speaking of the I Ching. I recognised that my brain was looking for patterns in the events of my own life. I was taking the words from an ancient book written in Chinese, translate first to German then to English, and gleaning valuable meaning from them. But this was not superstition. The advice the book was giving me was good. Why? Because it was written in such a way that it was inevitable that the reader would apply the general advice in such a way that it would most benefit him. Because the Tau was the way of the upright, it had to be good advice. For a few formative years the I Ching helped me make decisions that brought me to where I am now. I have few regrets.

These musings were inspired by coming upon this following little piece in one of the philosophical emails that turn up in my in-box from time to time.

After a few more hours swimming up and down the Bribie Island pool, I may have more to write on the subject.

The following is borrowed from Psychology Today.

Impact of the I Ching on Carl G. Jung & its implications

Jung, Taoist psychology, and cross-cultural communications

Posted Mar 01, 2017 

Although research has examined how world cultures (e.g., independent vs. interdependent ones) each uniquely shaped psychological experiences, few investigations focus on how cultures influence one another in the psychological domains. This issue is important, because cross-cultural information and knowledge exchange, contacts, and influences, though moderate in the past, have transformed all cultures, including the field of psychology. For example, Taoist psychology is one of the main cultural inspirations for Jungian psychology.

In May 1930, Jung gave the Eulogy at a memorial service in Munich for Richard Wilhelm. Jung integrated the Eastern philosophy into his principles of psychotherapy and human psyche through his study of Richard Wilhelm’s translations of I Ching (The Book of Changes), The Secret of the Golden Flower, and their frequent interactions that lasted from the early 1920’s until Wilhelm’s death in 1930 (Goulding, 2015; Karcher, 1999; Stein, 2005).

Jung said that Wilhelm “inoculated us with the living germ of the Chinese spirit and we found ourselves partaking of the spirit of the East as we experience the living power of the I Ching. It is capable of working a profound transformation of our thought.” Jung said that Wilhelm’s work was of such immense importance to him because it confirmed what he had been seeking in his efforts to alleviate the psychic suffering of Europeans. The book was both a carrier of human experience and a door to the energy of the archetypes. “I heard from him in clear language the things I had dimly divined in the confusion of the European subconscious. I received more from him than from any other man” (cited in Karcher, 1999; also see Goulding, 2015; Stein, 2005).

Jung expressed his deep gratitude for what he received from Wilhelm, because through his translations and teaching, Taoist psychology influenced Jung’s theoretical frameworks by facilitating the formation of his chief conceptions: synchronicity and individuation, in addition to confirming his views about the unconscious and nonlinear or circular psychological development for adult (Goulding, 2015; Karcher, 1999; Stein, 2005).

Jung’s comprehension of Tao is much deeper than the conventional translation “the way.” As he commented, Tao is the interaction between the mind and reality. The essential Taoist idea in I Ching suggests that all of the ingredients make up the observed moment. Understanding human experiences involves recognizing a special interdependence of objective events among themselves, as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers (Jung, 1967). In other words, according to I Ching, psychological experiences are determined by the interaction of the mind, time, space, situations, and action or non-action. The mind and reality interaction, rather than being an isolated or independent event, symbolically represents the person’s dialogue with a broad reality transcending a specific moment and space. It is the interactions that serve as the parameter for deciphering psychological experiences.

In short, Jung’s achievements in integrating the East and West demonstrate that psychological phenomena and principles are both cultural and universal.

References:

Goulding, J. (2015). The forgotten Frankfurt school: Richard Wilhelm’s China Institute. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 41:1-2 (March–June 2014) 170–186

Jung, C. G. (1967). Foreword. In The I Ching or Book of changes (C. F. Baynes, Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Karcher, S. (1999). Jung, the Tao and the Classic of Change. Journal of Religion and Health, 38, 287-304.

Stein, M. (2005). Some reflections on the influence of Chinese thought on Jung and his  psychological theory. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(2), 209-222. doi:10.1111/j.0021-8774.2005.00524

So, What Did You do While the World was Ending?

Just another day, really. I had the main pool to myself for almost an hour, which is good because I got lane one, with the steps. Starting early pays.

I swam for an hour and a quarter. In the first quarter hour I managed eight lengths of breast stroke in just over sixteen minutes. After that I settled down to a more easily maintained six lengths in around fourteen minutes. Every sixth length I switched to back stroke. I have learned that backstroke is much easier, much more efficient, but also burns much less energy. I want to burn energy.

I also learned it uses completely different muscles, or so it seems. I don’t get the lactic burn and could probably cruise all day doing it. So making every sixth length back stroke gave me a wee break from the building ache, and enough time to fill out the rest of each quarter-hour with some water-assisted step-ups on the pool steps, and some water-assisted chin-ups on the rail of the starting block.

Efficient.

There’s time to muse when swimming, I muse a lot.

It seemed the oddest form of synchronicity to find later the Guardian’s First Dog on the Moon cartoon today covered exactly what I was musing about. Hence my previous post. It should be depressing, but I am way past that. I really have reached a stage in which my philosophy is “Shit Happens, It Doesn’t Matter”.

Also, whilst swimming on my back and looking unfocused up at an overcast sky, I saw just how many floaters I have in my eyeballs. I named the biggest one Eric.

One of my earliest memories is of seeing floaters in my eyes at bedtime and trying to tell my mother what I saw. I must have been four or so. I thought there was snow in my bedroom. She thought I was silly and told me to go to sleep.

I then moved to the indoor therapy pool. I had that completely to myself. The water, at 33C seemed very hot at first, after the cooling swim and a wet walk through a chilly breeze. Half an hour of side stepping, squats and leg stretches and assorted joint mobility exercises a hot shower and shampoo, then off to Aldi to hunt for a kitchen seive. They didn’t have one. When it comes to stuff like that Aldi can be hit and miss.

What they do have is a really good range of good quality foods Fresh meat and really fresh produce at astonishingly good prices. Today for the first time I spent a while just looking around at what they stock. There seems very little need to shop elsewhere for staples or luxury foods.

Almost seems a shame to discover this just as the world is ending.

The Power of Words.

I well understand the power of words. I understand their power to hurt and to soothe.

I know the not-so-subtle difference In meaning and context, for example between Women Being Raped, and Men Raping Women.

Ive been trained in forensic interview techniques. I’ve been lied to, insulted and cursed by the best, in several languages. When this happens, I do almost the same thing I do if I have somehow got myself into a life-threatening or dangerous situation. (I do that now and then. It is part of my nature to see how far I can go).

When I’m insulted, I become calm and analytical. I try to figure out if I am in the wrong, if I deserve the criticism, or whether it is a defence/offence mechanism.

So I was taken aback recently when, after posting an old photo of myself on my bike at Katanning airfield, one of my friends made the comment “Yobbo”.

It seems reasonable enough, one would think. I could be mistaken for a yob.

The comment was surely intended in the humorous vein of friendly joshing we all indulge in. I am sure of it.

So.

I don’t know why I’m so insulted by that comment. Maybe the word is psychologically loaded in my subconscious. Call me a larrikin or a yahoo and I’d probably smile and agree. But yobbo hits a raw nerve somehow. Is there something in my youth or childhood to explain this feeling?

I can’t recall. I have thought about it for a day and still my first instinct is to say “go fuck yourself” or delete the comment. Why? I’m 67 years old, I’ve been successful in at least some of my fields of endeavour, I’ve worked in 7 countries, speak three languages, can say basic phrases or at least “thank you”, “may I have”, and “where is … ?” in another 10. I understand the power of words. Where does this one gain its power over my subconscious?

This is most interesting. It’s like listening to a song that makes you cry, even though it is not the sort you might think would do that. There’s a trigger I don’t recall. Fascinating.

So be aware. “Yobbo”, for some reason I cannot explain is a grave insult to me. As bad as, or even worse than, “climate change denier” , “antivaxxer”, or “creationist”.

Yes. There are songs that make me cry.