black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             
“You are not to think you are anything special.
You are not to think you are as good as we are.You are not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.You are not to think you are more important than we are.You are not to think you are good at anything.You are not to think anyone cares about you.
These are six of the 10 commandments that make up the Law of Jante, a concept created by the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel, “A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks.” The Law described the mentality of a community in which everyone controls everyone else, the collective suffocates the individual and the price of individual freedom is ostracism — but its reach extended beyond the fictional small town of Jante. The attitude Sandemose identified was true for the entire Scandinavian culture, and was still intact when I was growing up in the 1970s. “You’re not to think you are better than anyone else” was the refrain I heard throughout my childhood, and it didn’t take much more than a slightly outlandish hat or a pair of unusual trousers before people told you off, laughed at you or, in the worst case, ignored you. “He thinks he’s special” was the worst thing anyone could say about you.”
Hailed as the 21st century’s answer to Proust for his controversial six-volume autobiographical work, “My Struggle,” Karl Ove Knausgaard responds to his sudden celebrity with this essay on his tortured relationship with fame — its intense lure, its perils and the Scandinavian culture that condemns its pursuit. 
I Am Someone, Look At Me

You are not to think you are anything special.

You are not to think you are as good as we are.
You are not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You are not to think you are more important than we are.
You are not to think you are good at anything.
You are not to think anyone cares about you.

These are six of the 10 commandments that make up the Law of Jante, a concept created by the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel, “A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks.” The Law described the mentality of a community in which everyone controls everyone else, the collective suffocates the individual and the price of individual freedom is ostracism — but its reach extended beyond the fictional small town of Jante. The attitude Sandemose identified was true for the entire Scandinavian culture, and was still intact when I was growing up in the 1970s. “You’re not to think you are better than anyone else” was the refrain I heard throughout my childhood, and it didn’t take much more than a slightly outlandish hat or a pair of unusual trousers before people told you off, laughed at you or, in the worst case, ignored you. “He thinks he’s special” was the worst thing anyone could say about you.”

Hailed as the 21st century’s answer to Proust for his controversial six-volume autobiographical work, “My Struggle,” Karl Ove Knausgaard responds to his sudden celebrity with this essay on his tortured relationship with fame — its intense lure, its perils and the Scandinavian culture that condemns its pursuit. 

I Am Someone, Look At Me

My So-Called Opinions

"Critics of the millennial generation, of which I am a member, consistently use terms like “apathetic,” “lazy” and “narcissistic” to explain our tendency to be less civically and politically engaged. But what these critics seem to be missing is that many millennials are plagued not so much by apathy as by indecision. And it’s not surprising: Pluralism has been a large influence on our upbringing. While we applaud pluralism’s benefits, widespread enthusiasm has overwhelmed desperately needed criticism of its side effects.

By “pluralism,” I mean a cultural recognition of difference: individuals of varying race, gender, religious affiliation, politics and sexual preference, all exalted as equal. In recent decades, pluralism has come to be an ethical injunction, one that calls for people to peacefully accept and embrace, not simply tolerate, differences among individuals. Distinct from the free-for-all of relativism, pluralism encourages us (in concept) to support our own convictions while also upholding an “energetic engagement with diversity, ” as Harvard’s Pluralism Project suggested in 1991. Today, paeans to pluralism continue to sound throughout the halls of American universities, private institutions, left-leaning households and influential political circles.

However, pluralism has had unforeseen consequences. The art critic Craig Owens once wrote that pluralism is not a “recognition, but a reduction of difference to absolute indifference, equivalence, interchangeability.” Some millennials who were greeted by pluralism in this battered state are still feelings its effects. Unlike those adults who encountered pluralism with their beliefs close at hand, we entered the world when truth-claims and qualitative judgments were already on trial and seemingly interchangeable. As a result, we continue to struggle when it comes to decisively avowing our most basic convictions.

Those of us born after the mid-1980s whose upbringing included a liberal arts education and the fruits of a fledgling World Wide Web have grown up (and are still growing up) with an endlessly accessible stream of texts, images and sounds from far-reaching times and places, much of which were unavailable to humans for all of history. Our most formative years include not just the birth of the Internet and the ensuing accelerated global exchange of information, but a new orthodoxy of multiculturalist ethics and “political correctness.” …

I am not trying to tackle the challenge as a whole or indict contemporary pedagogies, but I have to ask: How does the ethos of pluralism inside universities impinge on each student’s ability to make qualitative judgments outside of the classroom, in spaces of work, play, politics or even love?”

Read on: The Stone

Are you too busy? You should be, and you should let people know in a proud but exasperated tone.
"The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. These are not exactly humble brags. They are more like fretful brags, and they are increasingly becoming the idiom of our age."
"To be deep in the overwhelm requires not just doing too many things in one 24-hour period but doing so many different kinds of things that they all blend into each other and a day has no sense of distinct phases. Researchers call it ‘contaminated time,’ and apparently women are more susceptible to it than men, because they have a harder time shutting down the tape that runs in their heads about what needs to get done that day. The only relief from the time pressure comes from cordoning off genuine stretches of free or leisure time, creating a sense of what [author Brigid] Schulte calls ‘time serenity’ or ‘flow.’ But over the years, time use diaries show that women have become terrible at that, squeezing out any free time and instead, as Schulte puts it, resorting to ‘crappy bits of leisure time confetti.’”
Deep in the ‘Overwhelmed’

Are you too busy? You should be, and you should let people know in a proud but exasperated tone.

"The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. These are not exactly humble brags. They are more like fretful brags, and they are increasingly becoming the idiom of our age."

"To be deep in the overwhelm requires not just doing too many things in one 24-hour period but doing so many different kinds of things that they all blend into each other and a day has no sense of distinct phases. Researchers call it ‘contaminated time,’ and apparently women are more susceptible to it than men, because they have a harder time shutting down the tape that runs in their heads about what needs to get done that day. The only relief from the time pressure comes from cordoning off genuine stretches of free or leisure time, creating a sense of what [author Brigid] Schulte calls ‘time serenity’ or ‘flow.’ But over the years, time use diaries show that women have become terrible at that, squeezing out any free time and instead, as Schulte puts it, resorting to ‘crappy bits of leisure time confetti.’”

Deep in the ‘Overwhelmed’

“We conceive of time as a continuum, but we perceive it in discretized units—or, rather,as discretized units. It has long been held that, just as objective time is dictated by clocks, subjective time (barring external influences) aligns to physiological metronomes. Music creates discrete temporal units but ones that do not typically align with the discrete temporal units in which we measure time. Rather, music embodies (or, rather, is embodied within) a separate, quasi-independent concept of time, able to distort or negate “clock-time.” This other time creates a parallel temporal world in which we are prone to lose ourselves, or at least to lose all semblance of objective time.
In recent years, numerous studies have shown how music hijacks our relationship with everyday time. For instance, more drinks are sold in bars when with slow-tempo music, which seems to make the bar a more enjoyable environment, one in which patrons want to linger—and order another round.1 Similarly, consumers spend 38 percent more time in the grocery store when the background music is slow.2 Familiarity is also a factor. Shoppers perceive longer shopping times when they are familiar with the background music in the store, but actually spend more time shopping when the music is novel.3 Novel music is perceived as more pleasurable, making the time seem to pass quicker, and so shoppers stay in the stores longer than they may imagine.
Perhaps the clearest evidence of musical hijacking is this: In 2004, the Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring deemed Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie the most dangerous music to listen to while driving. It is not so much the distraction, but the substitution of the frenzied tempo of the music that challenges drivers’ normal sense of speed—and the objective cue of the speedometer—and causes them to speed.”
Read on: How Music Hijacks Our Perceptions of Time

We conceive of time as a continuum, but we perceive it in discretized units—or, rather,as discretized units. It has long been held that, just as objective time is dictated by clocks, subjective time (barring external influences) aligns to physiological metronomes. Music creates discrete temporal units but ones that do not typically align with the discrete temporal units in which we measure time. Rather, music embodies (or, rather, is embodied within) a separate, quasi-independent concept of time, able to distort or negate “clock-time.” This other time creates a parallel temporal world in which we are prone to lose ourselves, or at least to lose all semblance of objective time.

In recent years, numerous studies have shown how music hijacks our relationship with everyday time. For instance, more drinks are sold in bars when with slow-tempo music, which seems to make the bar a more enjoyable environment, one in which patrons want to linger—and order another round.1 Similarly, consumers spend 38 percent more time in the grocery store when the background music is slow.2 Familiarity is also a factor. Shoppers perceive longer shopping times when they are familiar with the background music in the store, but actually spend more time shopping when the music is novel.3 Novel music is perceived as more pleasurable, making the time seem to pass quicker, and so shoppers stay in the stores longer than they may imagine.

Perhaps the clearest evidence of musical hijacking is this: In 2004, the Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring deemed Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie the most dangerous music to listen to while driving. It is not so much the distraction, but the substitution of the frenzied tempo of the music that challenges drivers’ normal sense of speed—and the objective cue of the speedometer—and causes them to speed.”

Read on: How Music Hijacks Our Perceptions of Time

"According to the World Health Organization, global suicide rates have increased by 60 percent over the past 45 years. The increase in this country is nothing like that, but between 1999 and 2010, the suicide rate among Americans between 35 and 64 rose by 28 percent. More people die by suicide than by auto accidents.

When you get inside the numbers, all sorts of correlations pop out. Whites are more likely to commit suicide than African-Americans or Hispanics. Economically stressed and socially isolated people are more likely to commit suicide than those who are not. People in the Western American states are more likely to kill themselves than people in the Eastern ones. People in France are more likely to kill themselves than people in the United Kingdom.”

"In her eloquent and affecting book “Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It,” Jennifer Michael Hecht presents two big counterideas that she hopes people contemplating potential suicides will keep in their heads. Her first is that, “Suicide is delayed homicide.” Suicides happen in clusters, with one person’s suicide influencing the other’s. If a parent commits suicide, his or her children are three times as likely to do so at some point in their lives. In the month after Marilyn Monroe’s overdose, there was a 12 percent increase in suicides across America. People in the act of committing suicide may feel isolated, but, in fact, they are deeply connected to those around. As Hecht put it, if you want your niece to make it through her dark nights, you have to make it through yours.

Her second argument is that you owe it to your future self to live. A 1978 study tracked down 515 people who were stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Decades later, Hecht writes, “94 percent of those who had tried to commit suicide on the bridge were still alive or had died of natural causes.” Suicide is an act of chronological arrogance, the assumption that the impulse of the moment has a right to dictate the judgment of future decades.”

The Irony of Despair

It’s Insecurity, Not Narcissism, That Makes Us Like ‘What Would I Say’

"If you’ve logged into your Facebook or Twitter accounts in the past two weeks, you have probably seen at least one – or more likely, six or seven – posts from an app called What Would I Say?. Simply put, it’s a little mechanism that, when you give it permission, processes every status, photo caption, and comment you’ve ever posted to your own Facebook timeline and spits out a randomly generated status that resembles something “you would say.” … [I]n the two weeks since its inception, over 2.2 million of the bot’s faux-statuses have been posted on Facebook.

'Bots like this show you that you exist,' says social media theorist and sociologist Nathan Jurgenson, who studies the interactions between our digital and IRL selves. … 'You’ve posted all these status updates, they really did matter, they haven’t gone away, they were recorded, and they say something about you. It’s the same thing people said when Friendster came around: We want proof that we exist.'”

"PROOF" | Wired

©2011 Kateoplis