I decided to read this book because as a human being with a strong emotional environment, I wanted to find out about how this relates to my animal self. It is my belief that human beings contain an animal self and a human self, mostly interconnected, there are times when one has to choose between the two. Overcoming instincts and passions is how we manage to stay secure and part of the community in many instances.
The book takes us through a series of interesting sections of evolutionary psychology. From Darwin to Goodall, a variety of sources are drawn on to show that animal behaviour demonstrates some kind of social conditioning in which behaviour is governed. On certain levels in lower lifeforms such as fish, we see that genetics play a role in which behaviour traits individuals express. In higher life such as apes the behavioural traits are created by nurture and circumstance as much as what they inherit from their parents.
It's when the author goes into gender specific behaviour that I find myself at odds with the rhetoric. It is in my understanding that male and female individuals have personality bell curves that flow across all possible personalities. It's true that personality traits often come in groups, each complimenting and validating the other. The male and female personality bell-curves overlap and it's only at the extremities where strong differences can be quantified. The book doesn't see it like this. Robert Wright subscribes to the Mars and Venus model which places men and women on completely different worlds. This may be true on one level, particularly emotionally, however in society as a whole it's clearly not true. Forcing people to choose between distant planets based on their personality may not help those who struggle with identity issues.
There are times when I catch myself thinking “Is this guy a psychopath?” when describing the most evolutionary proper male type. The author goes into great detail about monogamous relationships are the bane of a male's desires and in less sociologically advanced groups, men are permitted many wives as along as they can prove their worth. It seems to me that Robert Wright undertakes a degree of posturing and male-centric chest-puffing through the means of poorly defined argument. Maybe I'm strange, but he doesn't talk about the kind of man I am. He's also dismissive of women's empowerment at times. I find it difficult to accept, even if it's written with clarity.
The author provides a cold and scientific analysis of why we have morals. It's what I should have expected, and for the same reasons I left the science field, in that the work is completely left brain. The two hemispheres are what give us a rich human experience. Connected on many levels but unable to translate each other's signals, it's the combination of the two perspectives that give us our consciousness. Linear and holistic thought combine. Science is linear, it discredits symbolism and metaphor in favour of fact and statistic. This is good for finding the truth out there but bad for understanding us as people. Turning this idea onto consciousness itself is a mistake.
The book is worth reading as in between the glaring issues, that some may not notice or may interpret differently, there is a lot of interesting information in there. When reading between the lines of opinion, we can gain a proficient understanding of how emotions and feelings has become essential for survival. However, as an antidote to the dry and uncaring style in which it is written, I've now turned my attention to The Master and His Emissary by Ian McGilchrist. It's about the two hemispheres and how putting them both to use is essential.
A lot of people grow up with some degree of trauma. Unless we are lucky and have completely safe and loving childhoods in which all our troubles are respected and tackled together, children grow up with a distorted sense of their place in life. At a time where people naturally need continual care and positive reinforcement in a place of safety, many of us are denied one or more of these fundamentals to development.
This can make us highly sensitive to threat perception and give us an unfair expectation of our own responsibility. It causes people to hide their vulnerabilities and take on the role of an adult at an age when it's not appropriate. The poetry series Our Nexus Of Sorrows by Scott Free published by Deltic Books explores several facets of this psychological phenomenon. Penned as a Frankenstein's monster, the problematic effects of this condition are explored and stitched together. Enabling individuals to feel the inherent wrongness in the thinking and perhaps identify versions of it in themselves, it's a great healing aid for some.
When we take into consideration the limitations of people with developmental trauma and those who have surpassed it, then enable them to work in their best environment, this experience can also leave people with qualities that more than make up for the social drawbacks. Rather than take advantage of people with developmental trauma, we can recognise their natural abilities by rewarding them fairly and appropriately.
According to Jennifer Lock Oman of Psychology Today, developmental trauma survivors often demonstrate these five outstanding qualities.
A Genuine Desire To Connect And Support
Growing up in an environment that was perhaps unsafe emotionally or physically has taught people how to be the bridge builder in a situation. Having been in their best interests to maintain fond connection and genuine reciprocal networks in a situation where these things are scarce, individuals learn how to maximise these things in every environment.
Refined Empathy Heuristics
Heuristic thinking allows us to spot cues and points that signify a bigger picture. Like a join the dots puzzle, we notice subtle cues in body language and voice tone in order to establish the stress levels and cruelty index of those around us. We all are able to do this on a subconscious and conscious level however when people have developed in a situation where this is important to survival then it becomes much more focussed. The level of resolution is much stronger and we individuals are often able to read a group situation with precision.
Less Intimidated By Risk
Certain jobs have inherent risks involved. From armed forces, emergency services, to running a business, risk can be a daily occurrence to varying degrees. Some people crumble when the odds are not in their favour, some people shy away from anything that might make them vulnerable. People who have developed in an environment that was not safe have usually established a higher threshold for risk. Because every day carried inherent risks as they learned about life and developed their personalities, a lot of trauma survivors can stay calm and collected in situations where it matters most.
Being brought up where mistakes were vilified or punished and where errors were looked for and successes were ignored can teach children to strive for excellence. By minimising the risk of vindication for errors, developmental trauma enables people to learn patience and hard work in order to produce what is asked for. It's worth remembering that these people may hold a lot of stress that others do not feel when undertaking tasks.
Making sense of chaos and seeing the good in every situation is learned when it's left up to us to find these things. Often when people grow up, the world is not in their control and it can be unpredictable. Children need to feel empowered to get what they need without doing it for themselves - until they learn. If this sense of security is not available they have to take their own responsibility. At first they attempt to be leaders and problem solvers without the necessary life experience these people need but with the right guidance it's possible to help them find their feet.
We think of ghosts and angels, aliens and ancient origins, and for all we know it's real. Maybe everything behind the cloak of dark matter is actually the spiritual and ethereal universe so many have claimed to witness? Perhaps the best way to reach beyond the veil and to communicate the sights and sounds of beyond is through the arts. Unless we can touch it, it's never fully accepted by all. Making it tangible by depicting the furthest reaches of our experience can help others to find their own unique lights in the dark.
The Speed Art Museum is displaying a wide ranging selection of supernatural and paranormal art throughout January. With so many individuals claiming to experienced the otherworldly and extraordinary, having a place to express and communicate the facts is essential. So many experiencers of the paranormal find art and expression a fruitful field to begin.
Ghosts and spiritual beings have been described since prehistory with some of our first known stories drawing on these concepts from the beginning. Understanding the faith people have in hidden happenings that explain the universe in personal terms is what the many stories attempt to do. By hatching the egg of mythical sequences so many have discovered a new kind of life ready to break free.
Included is a piece named The Thanaton III (pictured at the top). This vivid and richly decorated artwork by Paul Laffoley is said to be a portal to another dimension. Because of this, visitors are politely asked to not touch it. The various images along its lower half seem to give directions as to what dimension is being summoned where as the central design looks like it wants to use mesmerism and suggestion to tap into the mental process required to travel.
With videos and artworks adorning the walls of two floors in the museum, visitors can indulge and absorb themselves in the spectacular mixture of media and design. One of the most important sections is on the downstairs floor. A recreated 19th Century parlour has been painstakingly built from genuine period materials by Whitfield Lovell. This time of ghosts and superstition that still enchant and inspires the American mind, is hauntingly accurate and full of anemoia.
Images and names via WFPL.org. Visit the site for more on this exhbition.
Listening to audiobooks is one of life's greater pleasures. Reading is essential for modern life, we read all day long. Sometimes the audio version can give our mind a break or simply give us the opportunity to do two things at once. A lot of us associate reading with school, which for some in turn is associated with all kinds of unpleasant feelings. Others have a preference to listening over reading. Maybe it's a bit of everything combined that creates a genuine hard-core audiobook fan. There are a lot of options on the internet to choose from. The Classic Tales Podcast was where I began, the show even became a mentioned influence on my book 575365.
B.J. Harrison reads to us each week from a chosen story from antiquity. His style is humorous and serious in exactly the right places and he has an innate understanding of the author's intention with each telling. Fans can support the show and get vouchers in return. The man has recorded a phenomenal amount of work and it's all available for sale at realistically good prices.
There's more to choose from, and sometimes we don't want to listen to the classics as enjoyable as they might be. The two big services out there are Audible and Kobo. Joining both services gives you a free first book so if you want to try them both then it's absolutely free. Here's a tip, use your free trial to get the longest book you can find. It's what I did.
So how do these services compare? You can assume that both sites offer extremely high quality recordings from a plethora of professional readers. This is exactly right. Their first comparable difference is in the price. One month membership is charged and in return you get a credit to spend on any book. Kobo is a pound cheaper than Audible.
This changes when you start getting into multiple credits. With Audible you can by 3 credits for £6 each provided you are a member. Kobo offers the same for £20. This is a two pounds increase. This being said, both sites offer plenty of cheaper options for selected titles. Plus, the books you might want to listen to but can't because Audible doesn't list them are probably on Kobo. I've managed to find titles on Kobo when Audible didn't have them.
Audible works on the computer and the phone. Any OS can play Audible through their app. Kobo doesn't have a Windows app, you have to use your phone. This can be a hassle, especially if you use your phone for other things. It would be great if Kobo could produce a Windows player. It would also be amazing if they created a list of free to listen content for members. Audible has this, and it's actually very generous. We understand that readers and writers need to get paid but there must be some viable economics for it to work on the other platform.
Learn about new subjects to university level, delve into the history of the world, or just escape into a made-up reality where you are a silent observer, see if you can settle down with audiobooks. You can still do other things while they're on.
Get a free audiobook with Kobo
Get a free audiobook with Audible
One of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 20th Century, Bob Dylan, is now displaying the other side of his talent in the Frost Art Museum at Florida State University. The contemporary artist, who is great with a paintbrush, has created a large scope of images that depict various poignant scenes. Through his entire life, which began in 1941, Bob Dylan has encountered a host of scenarios and movements that ran their course over the years. The world is always changing, and his music gave a soundtrack to the shifting of consensus. An avid anti-war voice with a desire for more freedoms to live our own lives, Dylan picked up a Nobel Prize for his inspiration to literature in which he gave rise to a new and modern American voice.
Since his breakthrough into music during the 1960s when he dropped out of college and moved to New York, the multi-talented musician has enjoyed a continual run of success and growth. A huge following began to form during the 60s and 70s as he wrote songs about human rights and the stupidity of war. After a motorcycle accident in 1966 in which Dylan broke his neck and survived, his touring came abruptly to a close. Working in the studio with The Band, his continual flow of American folk and blues took a turn into the realm of the album. AOR sentimentality perhaps became popular thanks to this twist of fate, with many musicians and bands preferring the scope of an artistic album over ten or twelve radio songs.
Despite his busy career with a schedule no-one would envy, Bob Dylan remained true to his passion for painting. Now in his 80s, the artist has created a huge catalogue of work that shows many intriguing aspects to his experiences and personality.
Retrospectrum is an exhibit hosted by The Frost Art Centre at Florida State University in Miami. The vast collection spans the musician's painted output from the late 60s until the modern day. Perhaps the more secretive side of this long-standing stage performer, the pictures immediately strike with quality of talent. On the retrospective, Dylan is known to have said “Seeing many of my works years after I completed them is a fascinating experience”. Artnet
Much like photography, Bob Dylan's paintings depict images of people and places with an inclusion of subtle drama that creates an immediate imaginary experience. Deep Focus is Dylan's latest series of paintings. These stills are taken from films, known for having iconic cinematography, in which the atmosphere and intention of the scenes are captured in static pigment. Situational story-telling in Bob Dylan's art provides the viewer with countless introspections toward life's twists and turns in ways that resonate with the brilliance of the artist. Over 180 paintings, photographs, and sculptures make the exhibition which opened in November.
It was over a year into the COVID19 pandemic when I decided to pick up a copy of Randy Shilts' now classic tome And The Band Played On. The title made me immediately correlate the two anomalies as relatable events. As a child of 1981, the AIDS outbreak was something I learned about only in the playground, unfortunately in childish and morally dubious ways. Revisiting the phenomenon felt appropriate in order to get a better understand of the experience of global disease the world already had. As far as I know, AIDS was the only modern example of a pandemic we can draw wisdom from due to its high mortality rates.
When I began the book, I was immediately struck by the homosexual descriptions of sex practice that seemed to want to shock me into either submission or intrigue. Looking at the title, I felt reassured that this wasn't going to be a continual theme, as erotica wasn't what I was looking for. Thankfully, after the first few sections, the subject matter turned more towards what would later be known as AIDS.
I was brought up to not associate AIDS with homosexual lifestyles and that doing so was prejudiced. The book however, albeit liberal minded and progressive in nature, really didn't mind about putting the two ingredients in the same bread. Perhaps the more seedy practices of homosexual behaviour that arose possibly due to the fact it was forced underground and labelled dirty to begin with, did contribute to the widespread affliction among US citizens. It was not until much later in the long and information dense story that blood-banks were shown to be complicit in allowing infected blood to be sent to patients. It does also mention that intravenous drug users that shared needles also transmitted the agent and yet the main subject matter in this book centres on the homosexual culture.
What struck me as important to take home from this book was the nonchalant attitude towards the disease from the 'mainstream' community. Blaming the outbreak on homosexual behaviour incurring the wrath of God was an acceptable argument in civilised debate. The underlying feelings about homosexuality allowed the disease to be permitted to continue for much longer than it should have done. Not acknowledging it as something worth looking into and continuing as if nothing is happening was the primary response to what in today's world would be a serious threat to global health.
Unless you were homosexual or in a social group that had homosexuals in it, you would not have likely been affected by AIDS in the first years. Only drug users and the occasional transfusion recipient would otherwise be at risk. The illness was seen as a strictly gay disease and no-one was able to empathise with the seemingly alien community. A self-blame attitude seemed to propagate towards anyone who died from it. Only when the numbers of the dead reached several thousand did larger bodies of thought begin to take it seriously.
The work carries a continual undercurrent of righteous anger towards those with the power to affect change an their lack of interest in the situation. The corruption and blind-eyes that seemed to fall to every aspect of the problem from the top made the eventual outcome much worse than it needed to be. A mistrust of homosexuality and authority combined to create a massive void in understanding, care, and responsibility. This led to the tragic and avoidable deaths of millions over the ensuing years. Being woken up to the scale of dereliction of duty by the authorities during this time has made me see the response to Covid19 in a new way. The governments have been much more proactive this time around, with some unpopular mandates being passed and plenty of pushback from unsalted society.
When we compare the two situations, can we draw the conclusion that our governments of today responded adequately to the more recent pandemic? Should we celebrate the progress since only 40 years ago when the woefully inadequate response led to serious consequences for all? Time will tell if what we did in today's situation holds up to the standards laid down by those who come after.