Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2017-08-14T14:20:44Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com August 14. http://ranprieur.com/#fe771c4444b715ca13889c048dc4a90d8bf70e9e 2017-08-14T14:20:44Z August 14. There was a cool link on the subreddit yesterday about flying humanoid sightings over Chicago. Long before I was into social philosophy, I was into the paranormal, and it's probably the subject on which I know the most compared to the average person.

By now you've all seen that photo of the car running into protesters on Saturday. Its licence plate: GVF 1111. The number eleven appears strangely often in the context of... I want to say "weird stuff", but I haven't seen any weirdness in the car attack. It's more like, whatever uncanny power has its fingers in UFO's and monster sightings, also takes an interest in political spectacle. The 9/11 event also has some elevens, with both towers having 110 floors plus a 110 meter antenna, and irreconcilable reports suggesting two different flight 11's from Boston.

So I consider "conspiracy theory" a branch of the paranormal, but I don't imagine evil gods pulling strings. It's probably just our own collective subconscious playing games with us. And I haven't found any practical use for this stuff. Scientists are right to exclude the paranormal from science, because it cannot be reliably duplicated. But it would be wrong to exclude it from reality.

Our culture divides the issue into two rigid camps: the skeptics, who think it's all hoaxes and careless observations, no more real than Harry Potter, and the believers, who think it's as real as the Empire State Building, and sooner or later we will find proof. But the phenomena, sighting after sighting, year after year, relentlessly refute both positions.

My position: there is no thing or non-thing that is completely objective or completely subjective, no edifice on which all observers can sustain perfect agreement, and no dream on which two perspectives can't collaborate. "The Paranormal" is just what we call that segment of reality that reminds us of this continuum by refusing to be classified on one side or the other.

August 10. http://ranprieur.com/#d8c62d9319b5d0689674a5b4a930bdf1772a9c6a 2017-08-10T22:40:12Z August 10. Posting early because I'll be busy tomorrow and all weekend with a yard sale. When I was traveling with my sister in Michigan, we talked about retirement, and she wondered: even though she has way more assets than me, plus a pension and Social Security which I won't be getting, why am I less worried about running out of money when I'm old?

I thought of a few answers, but the best single answer is that I have experience living a notch or two above the gutter. I've done it before, and I know I can do it again. Even if I don't have friends or family to help me out, I could rent a tiny apartment in some rust belt city, ride public transportation, get online at the library, eat bulk pinto beans and homemade bread, and still have enough money for small luxuries like pastured butter and Ardbeg Uigeadail.

Actually that sounds better than what I've been doing the last few months, digging out from under years of accumulating stuff. Looking through all of it, some of it was a massive waste, like the crossbow that I bought and sold and ended up paying about $20 for every time I shot it. Some of it was mixed, like the motorcycle that gave me the fun and confidence of riding a motorcycle, but also a concussion from the inevitable crash. The best investment, financially, has been my house, which has almost doubled in value in six years. But it's hard to think of a single thing I spent money on, that led me to a valuable and ongoing life path that I could not have taken without that thing.

Okay, there's weed -- but even that has been mixed. Tetrahydrocannabinol has given me priceless insights and creative powers, but it probably has something to do with my heavy motivational burden, where sometimes just getting up to fill my water bottle feels a little like doing my taxes. I'm now five weeks into a tolerance break, and given that I've always struggled with motivation, I'm probably back to normal.

I've had to push back the release date of my novel, after several smart people couldn't make sense of it. It still makes way more sense than James Joyce, and I don't want to write the next Harry Potter, but I decided to add some stuff to make it marginally accessible or it won't have any readers at all.

Some music for the weekend. Leigh Ann has been catching up on post-punky stuff from the last few years, and I love this 2016 track by a French duo, Heimat - Pompei.

August 9. http://ranprieur.com/#4f6d20a288b5650509b2cb9cd82eff8984db5738 2017-08-09T21:30:35Z August 9. Today, some stuff from email. Greg comments on Monday's post:

I have a book called The Un-TV and the 10 mph Car. It's full of weird experiments the reader is implored to actually perform. One of the first is standing in a public place without doing anything.

It sounds easy but you cannot LOOK like you're doing something. You have to just stand there, and you have to be seen by people, for 10 minutes. I did this standing in the middle of sidewalk. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

One of the supposed points was that society pervades us to the point of actually controlling our actions when we're not doing anything. To be socially-acceptably "not doing anything" we need to actually look like we're doing something.

And this is something I wrote to Christine, who was curious about my response to this YouTube channel of people arguing about politics:

I've just lost interest in political drama. I sense that Trump's underlying agenda, which he's serving intuitively rather than calculatingly, is to intensify us-vs-them thinking. Everything he does is feeding off of, and feeding into, a growing trend of ingroup-outgroup tribe war consciousness. I think even smart liberals like Stephen Colbert have been sucked into this dark movement.

My response is to refuse to get caught up in it, and instead to look at underlying psychological influences. What exactly drives people to get into these conflicts?

In general I think that external conflict is the projection of internal conflict. People choose their identities, and especially choose their enemies, based on things inside themselves that they haven't fully faced.

Also, in an authoritarian society, which we totally still have, everyone feels powerless, and arguing about politics gives people the illusion that they're actually influencing the world.

August 7. http://ranprieur.com/#591108b043615131e30ce164d8fc2ce39352d833 2017-08-07T19:10:03Z August 7. Back in Spokane, and I'll probably be back to posting MWF for a while. Today, a great interview with Michael Finkel, the author of a new book about the guy who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years.

On this planet, we don't know what to do with people who don't belong. I don't mean murderers, or people who are, clearly, mentally insane. I'm talking about someone like Chris Knight, who was a gentle person but who didn't fit in with the rest of us. It's heartbreaking. We don't have a spot for him.

Personally I think Knight is heroic. He only had to live in secrecy and break the law because we live in barbaric times. In a world with less authoritarian property laws, and an unconditional basic income, someone could live alone in the woods openly and legally.

Also this Hacker News comment thread has some good stuff, including discussion of the psychological differences between being with other people and being alone:

It's like coming from bright light into a dark room. Gradually your eyes adjust and you start to see more. Coming back into the civilization is similar to someone pointing flashlight into your eyes. So much external triggers for behaviour. Realizing that I'm not actually me with other people and I'm disappearing into network of others. Me with others is mainly just bunch of triggers that fire based on conditioning.

August 1. http://ranprieur.com/#6d0ebd3fcf93c10ef9ae0634380dd733e4399dfc 2017-08-01T13:10:23Z August 1. I have a little time to post some stray links from the road. This reddit comment lists a bunch of theological answers to the problem of evil. I accept both "God is not omnipotent" and "Purgatory on Earth."

A big reddit thread, How do you know you're in a healthy relationship?

And on one of my favorite subjects, motivation, Sometimes Not Working Is Work, Too. It's about people with the exact opposite of my problem: they are so highly motivated that they're in danger of overworking themselves and burning out, so they actually have to force themselves to be unproductive. The only way I can wrap my head around that is to imagine a world where playing video games, or getting high and listening to music, is considered useful by society.