Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pay As You Go - New Taxation System based upon the Philosophy of Non-Belief

Start Here

Is Sophy Laughing (Soph Laugh) a great thinker? In an absolute sense, probably not. At least, she would not be a natural inclusion into a list of the world's most important philosophers. Her chosen form of expression is not the book but the humble blog. Her mood is seldom one from which a categorical syllogism might arise. Her arguments are driven by personal interest, alternating with occasional bursts of ridiculousness for humorous effect. Whether these outbursts are intended to entertain her readers or herself is not always clear, though the latter may presumed. Here is someone, some Readers feel, who does her best thinking early in the morning to the sound of birds tweeting, animals snoring and coffee brewing.

If Laugh is essentially a "writeller" (doodler, in written form), the intensity of her commitment and the vigor of her writing are evident in the prolificness of her publishing. She has not reinvented humor, or the notion that humor is an elevated state that is all-inclusive - versus being exclusive, a trait belonging to comedy - but she did argue for this with such persistence, and in language of inspiring directness, that readers are visiting by the hundreds of thousands - or millions if you count Google views.

Even after going "off-topic," something Laugh does to entertain herself (and her readers), she continues to receive visitors from across the globe. You might think that Laugh's reputation as an online blogger or Philosophical Humorist might have been blackened by those jealous of oodles of zeros of dollars she earns for her efforts, but the reality is most are relieved that she is not publishing, for if she did, they might actually have to take her seriously. 

It can be fairly argued that Laugh has done more than most humor researchers to foster the spirit of humor in her own life by legally changing her last name to "Laughing". It is in her nature to explore rather than merely philosophize notions. "How can one truly understand personal identity if you've only had one?" 

Laugh's Life

Laugh was born on a Tuesday. She moved away from home on a Thursday, and her favorite day of the week is Saturday. For more specific details, Soph's mother has this to say on the subject: 

'There are those children that try parents' souls. The artistically philosophical child will, in this crisis, scribble on your walls and then offer a two-hour explanation as to why they feel wall-scribbling is an acceptable activity; all this at the age of four.'
-Soph's Mother

Laugh as a Writer

Laugh was trained in the tradition of classical oratory, but her blogging is shorter and lacks aristocratic style. Despite not belonging to the traditional camp of bloggers informing readers how to get more followers, instead of publishing books, Soph continues to mix mediums in the artistic sense of the word and blog that which would be best published in a traditional book format. Irrespective of this anomaly, the first three years of Laugh's blogging has yielded approximately 650k views and 16 million views on Google. 

HTTF (originally published under the title "Sophly Laughing") swiftly received a number of views. Most alarming for traditional researchers in the field, Laugh was clearly addressing her arguments, witticisms, and quirky brand of humor not to a small minority of the privileged and the highly educated - who could be trusted to ignore any call for a radical change to the definition of humor based on the consent of the majority - but to the population at large, a vastly growing geekish community ever appreciative of 'principled unicity'.   

"Humor isn't laughing at others, humor is laughing with others," is the motto repeatedly shared by Laugh. 

Laugh's Beliefs

The Declaration

"The closest thing I have to a belief is the opinion I have formulated that tells me that we cannot know the true nature of existence and thus any hypothesis is inherently absurd ~ that's what makes everything so darn funny! Jokes, stories, information, studies, hypothesises, postulations, theorems, theories, the whole shoot and shebang. Even serious discourse, at some level, is funny insomuch that we play along, allowing ourselves to adopt beliefs about that which we do not and, perhaps, cannot know given the present-day limits of our temporal presence.  

My sense of humor, if you can call it that, is consequently derived from the fact that human beings, despite being held in a temporal vessel with limited wave reception, continue to behave in a way that denies exploration in favor of acceptance. Even our thoughts and feelings are suspect and may be nothing more than a wave of sentiment or thought flowing through, rather than emanating from, the being, which in turn may only have temporal access to them (explaining the temporal nature of thoughts and feelings). Existence, to me, is hilarious. I have the distinct sensation of laughter emanating from within, whether I am serious-minded in my profession or relaxed and experimental in my writing. The name Laughing suits me."

No finer summary of Laugh's philosophy exists than this, the Declaration. Laugh's non-belief philosophy stems from sincere reflection in self-examination. Unjust beliefs can only be sustained by keeping a subject mind in a state of ignorance. Once the notions of freedom from belief and natural understandings of self were presented to her mind, emancipation triumphed. Even held in material form, the attachment to the form diminished. What followed was an acceptance of all form, organic or otherwise. 'Existence is not limited to one genus, nor is one genus entitled to dictate existence for other forms, including its own.' 

Human beings develop slowly under a myriad of influences of which we can never be wholly aware. Knowing ourself means knowing ourself from the perspective of new personal identifications. Changing one's personal identity essentially offers "two lifetimes for the price of one," as does changing countries, languages, cultures, professions, and even opinions, the latter being the most common form of multiple personal identity perspective. 

To destroy or reject the product of such a complex process of evolution is folly, since the remaining portion seems inadequate to design a satisfactory replacement. "We cannot fix something that is broken, we simply restore it with something that is not."

For Laugh, however, what has since come to be called humor was the essential means to eliminate belief. Interacting with individuals at opposing levels of the belief scale than herself, Laugh has developed a heightened appreciation of the belief systems of others. People do not 'get along' or 'work together harmoniously' until they recognize the absurdity of belief systems, until they recognize that their beliefs are no more or less valid than others. Laugh is of the opinion that such a contrast between belief systems is part of the natural order of things, an inevitable fact of human life, but that it doesn't have to be. For Laugh, it is a simple reexamination of belief, backed by necessary reason and resolution, that would free the mind from accepting that which we cannot know entirely, leaving open room for exploration of all that which we do not know - which is essentially how anything we know of is interconnected or related to systems of which we have no direct experience or comprehension. 

Right of Non-Belief

One of Laugh's arguments against the legitimacy of belief is that a society is pledged to uphold contracts (real or notional) drawn up by the legal and social systems of previous generations as well as by individuals of opposing belief systems. Laugh utterly dismisses such an idea. 'The Pagans and Christians of Ancient Rome might as well govern modern society under the strict and rigorous penalties of the Law of the Twelve Tables (Leges Duodecim Tabularum). It is as if we immortalize the thoughts and beliefs of our ancestors and then hold ourselves accountable to them until Revolution strikes.' 

She goes on to explain the grounds that an individual has for exercising its authority over another. Rather than tradition and continuity forcing belief systems upon individuals, Laugh insists that legitimacy can only derive from the rights of the individual, which must include the right of non-belief. We all hold some natural beliefs, 'those which appertain to individuals in right of one's sense of existence and authenticity.' However, no individual has the right to enforce those beliefs upon another. 'Individuals must therefore create a society that allows for non-belief systems. 

Whether there are beliefs that belong to all human beings by virtue of their very nature is a question that dates back to times of antiquity. The answer to this question still awaits a definitive answer, presuming that definitive answers, in the vastness of existence, are a possibility. The distinction between natural rights and civil rights was commonly drawn in the 18th century, but Laugh's view is that we forfeit our natural rights when we fail to acknowledge that belief systems are not necessary to formulate opinions that benefit both individual and society: society nor individual has the right to impose belief systems upon the individual. 

In the words of Thomas Paine, 'every civil right grows out of a natural right; or, in other words, is a natural right exchanged.' It is this exchange, insists Laugh, from which rights are derived, but rights do not derive from beliefs, rights are derived from the opinions we hold after deliberation and group consent. While the majority of the group may hold common belief systems, it is not the belief systems that dictate rights. Rights are directly dictated from the desire of self-preservation. Desires are not belief systems. Desires fuel the phenomenon of belief systems, but they are distinct in origin. Belief arises out of the natural tendency to rationally defend one's personal desires to others. 

Underlining Laugh's whole argument on the right of non-belief is the conviction that all beings are in some sense connected. Laugh herself would have not time for that 'in some sense.' For her, interconnectivity is a given. Such connectivity, though attractive, can lead to problems of circularity. Since we can see that this connectivity is not a visible fact - for beings in the world are conspicuously separate - how do we explain the nature of connectivity without invoking the right of non-belief for which connectivity itself is supposed to be acting as a basis of belief? But Laugh is advocating a release of agency, the right of an agent (a person or other entity, human being or any living being in general) to act in the world without being recruited into social or legal systems in which they do not participate or in which they do not share a common belief. Her chief concern is to promote self-reliance in practice rather than grapple with the semantics of theory. 

Practical matters are more prominent towards the end of Laugh's treatise. There Laugh lays out a range of social reforms which in essence amount to a kind of self-governance: pay as you go taxation, designating social welfare systems as charities, educational reform and so on. As always, her motivation is the unification of society. 

'By the operation of this plan, income tax, that instrument of oppression at the individual level, will be superseded, and the wasteful expense of taxation litigation and regulation prevented. The levy (tax) imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers), as it is known today, was first introduced in Britain by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger in his budged of December 1798, to pay for weapons and equipment for the French Revolutionary War. The US federal government imposed the first personal income tax on August 5, 1861, to help pay for its war effort in the American Civil War. In 1894 the first peacetime income tax was passed through the Wilson-Gorman tariff. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. Personal income tax limits individual potential. 'Pay As You Go' - paying for systems as you utilize them - keeps systems operating on budgets commensurable to their output while offering individuals a choice in the systems they utilize. Individuals should bear the financial burden of institutions into which they receive no direct benefit, unless by charitable donation; in which case, the financial support of a non-utilized institution or system should directly reflect an individual's state account. For every dollar donated to a non-utilized system, one dollar should be credited toward future services utilized.' 

One Century and One Year following the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Laugh calls upon society to support a 'Pay As You Go' system to minimize the intolerable injustices perpetrated against the individual. 

1 + 1 = Pay As You Go

Monday, June 23, 2014

Batman v Superman

Superman, the grandfather of all superheroes, is a cultural icon. He is recognized the world over. He fights a "never-ending battle" for truth, for justice - and although not beholding to any specific country - for "the American Way." 

Batman, that arrow-shooting activist, with his political orientation swinging from right to left, or was it left to right? Well, one thing is for certain, he's Batman (said with sultry overtones) ... the costumed crime-fighter who breaks a few of Gotham's rules in order to pursue those who are breaking the more important laws, all the while protecting the law-abiding innocents from these thugs. 


Putting aside for the moment that heroism goes hand in hand with measures of superism or Superheroism, bringing Superman and Batman together - to resolve complex issues and solve crime with greater ease and facility - somehow seems to bring up new questions. Is the world really only populated with Superheroes, Criminals, and Innocents? Do we want to train a society to become more Superhero-like or more innocent-like (in constant need of Superprotection)? On the surface it seems like an easy answer: Empower everyone to become a Superhero. But is this as easy as it seems?

Defining what it means to be Superheroish is a task that has frustrated both fans and psychologists for years. Measures of defining Superheroism are only as good as the tests we create. 
  1. Does the individual exhibit extraordinary strength? 
  2. Can the individual fly? 
  3. Does the individual have other Superheroic qualities (x-ray vision, telekinesis, power mimicry or absorption, biological manipulation, invisibility, and so on)? 
Measuring physical powers aside, Superheroic Trait tests, while good indicators of Superhero success, are far from perfect indicators of success in the "comic world" and/or in the "real world." 


Recently geneticists have discovered that even such abstract qualities as personality and intelligence are coded for in our genetic blueprint. Studies of the genetic basis of g  - Spearman's "general intelligence," which he termed g, that is used to process intelligence in many domains (verbal, perceptual, memory-based, and so forth) - are just beginning, and because g is most likely built from the influences of many genes, the hunt for s - a "Superheroism" gene - will be a long one. If chromosome 6 is linked to intelligence (1), then which chromosome is linked to Superheroism? 

Genetic brain mapping of Innocents has been developed to search for genes involved in intelligence, but which studies are being conducted to test for s, for Superheroic powers? 

Science fiction fans hope that geneticists will someday pinpoint which brain areas are most heritable, and which, most importantly, are responsible for those brain areas that heighten superism or superheroism. With this sort of mapping, geneticists should be able to learn more about superheroism and someday make this genetic enhancement available to Innocents everywhere, lessening their need for independent Superheroic intervention. 


Superman, for example, possesses vision-based powers, he also has Superhuman strength (a level of strength much higher than normally possible given his proportions). Cyborg Superman has Technopathy (the ability to manipulate technology, a special form of "morphing" which allows physical interaction with machines). 

Money & Power

But Batman did not wait for geneticists to map the brain. His intelligence coupled with his purchasing power was sufficient to convert him from an Innocent into a Superhero. While he may not possess the Superheroic effects of Superheroism (ability to fly, magical powers, or, even an object such as Sauron's 'One Ring'), he is in possession of a larger brain, which neuroscientists have determined has a statistically significant correlation with IQ, a superpower in and of itself. Add purchasing power to heightened intelligence and you can begin to tease out the correlations between money and power. 

It seems geneticists and science fiction fans are in agreement: the areas of the brain that are apparently most under the influence of superheroic traits are the same areas Innocents (e.g., "fans") wish to have explored. Indeed, the genes that affect superheroism may be coding for the structure and fuctions of specific brain areas that underlie s, or superheroism, that area used to process superpowers in many domains (flight, generation, mutation, negation, sensing, etc.). 

Whether s is associated with the amount of gray matter (consisting mainly of the cell bodies of neurons) in the frontal lobes is currently unknown, but the search for the Superhero print is a study that would be most intriguing - and welcomed.  

The future is here. Isolating the genes we wish to enhance will influence the enhancement of others. We already know which parts of the brain are influenced by particular genes and which parts correlate with high IQ, what we want to know is: 

Which genes are associated with s?

With such knowledge, Innocents - even without Batman's immense purchasing power - could transform themselves into Superheroes. Entire Superhero centers could open up (called Super Stores) across the globe to accommodate the population's desire for superheroic powers. 

My own opinion is that none of this would threaten society, none of this would threaten our sense of self. The opportunities to enhance one's superheroic abilities would even the playing field between Innocents and Criminals by augmenting the number of Superheros that join in the "never-ending battle" for truth and justice, evolving "the American Way" into a more global-minded "Way of the World" perspective. 

Increasing the pool size of Superheroic people won't change or challenge our values, it will send humanity soaring to new heights! 


(1) Chorney, M.J.K. Chorney, N. Seese, M.J. Owen, P. McGuffin, J. Daniels, L.A. Thompson, D.K. Determan, C.P. Benow, D. Lubinski, T.C. Eley, and R. Plomin (1998). "A Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) Associated with Cognitive Ability in Children," Psychological Science 9:159-166

(2) Gazzaniga, Michael S. (2005). "The Ethical Brain," Dana Press

(3) Morris, Tom, Morris, Matt (2005). "Superheroes and Philosophy," Open Court Publishing

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sophy's Adventures in Bloggerland: A Galactic Parody

A Parody of Galactic Proportions 

Sophy was beginning to get very tired of blogging in the early mornings, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the blogs of others, but they had few pictures or conversations in them, "and what is the use of a blog," thought Sophy, "without pictures or conversations?"

So she was considering, in her own mind (as well as she could, for her tea had grown cold and she felt entirely too lazy to get up and pour herself a fresh cup), whether the pleasure of drawing another Alice in Wonderland picture would be worth the trouble of getting up and pulling out all the art materials, when suddenly a White Butterfly with purple eyes flew close by her. 

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Sophy think it so very much out of the way to hear the Butterfly say to itself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be ate!" (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that Walowitz claimed to have eaten a butterfly in 'The Werewolf Transformation' episode of the Big Bang and that she watched this episode for the um'teenth time last night and that she probably still had this fresh in her mind, but at the time a talking butterfly seemed quite natural); but when the Butterfly actually took a key to a spaceship out from underneath its wing, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Sophy started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a butterfly with a key, or a key to a spaceship, and burning with curiosity, she got up, left her tea, and was just in time to see it hop into a large spaceship. 

In another moment inside went Sophy after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again, or whether or not she needed a spacesuit to go to space. 

The spaceship went straight up for some way, then dipped suddenly sideways, so suddenly that Sophy had not a moment to think about asking to return to Earth before she found herself hurling through deep space. 

Either space was very deep, or the spaceship traveled very slowly, for she had plenty of time to think as she went up and to look out the little window, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look up and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the spaceship, and noticed that they were filled with buttons and dials: here and there she saw monitors and beeping lights. She turned a dial as time flew by: it was labelled "SURPRISE" but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to turn the dial back, for fear of stopping the spaceship mid-flight, so managed to gingerly remove her hand without moving it another centimeter. 

"Well!" thought Sophy to herself, "after such a flight as this, I shall think nothing of flying back and forth to Paris! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I had to fly to India!" (Which was very likely true.)

Up, up, up. Would the flight never come to an end? "I wonder how many kilometers I've flown by this time?" she asked aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of our galaxy. Let me see: that would be the rotational center of the Milky Way, located a distance of -- (for, you see, Sophy had learnt several things of this sort in her research, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) "--yes, that's about the right distance - but then I wonder what constellations appear brightest?" (Sophy had no idea which constellations - Sagittarius, Ophiuchus, or Scorpius - would appear brightest, but thought they were nice grand words to say.)

Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the Galactic Center of the Milky Way! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that because of interstellar dust along the light of sight, wear goggles all the time, just to see visible, ultraviolet or soft X-ray wavelengths, I think -- (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "--but I shall have to ask them what the name of the planet is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this the gobular cluster? Or a Supermassive Black Hole? (and she tried to curtsey as she spoke - fancy curtseying as you're hurling through space at dizzing speeds! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little human she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere." 

Up, up, up (or down, or sideways, or anyways, because which way is up in Space?). There was nothing else to do, so Sophy soon began talking again. "Fia'll miss me very much to-night, I should think!" (Fia was the dog.) "I hope they'll remember her treats at treat-time. Fia, my dear! I wish you were up here with me! There are no cats in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a star, and that's very much like a cat, you know. But do dogs chase stars, I wonder?" And here Sophy began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, "Do dogs chase stars? Do dogs chase stars?" and sometimes, "Do stars chase dogs?" for, you see, as she couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was rollerblading down the bike trail with Fia, and was saying to her, very earnestly, "Now, Fia, tell me the truth: did you ever chase a star?" when suddenly, thump! thump! down the spaceship came upon a heap of rocks and dry land, and the ascent was over. 

[to be continued IFF by request]

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A User's Guide to Che

Back Story

Ernesto "Che" Guevara (June 14, 1928 - October 9, 1967), known as Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. Together with Fidel Castro, he was a major figure in the Cuban Revolution (1953 - 1959), an armed revolt against Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. Replacing the government with a revolutionary socialist state, the movement later reformed as the Communist Party in October 1965. The Communist Party, now headed by Fidel Castro's brother Raúl, governs today.

Che Melancólico Series
Rodrigo Moya 

Sometimes facial expressions are difficult to read, but other times they seem universal. In this photo, Che looks like he just took a deep breath and exhaled, letting go of some of the tension that marked these public conferences. At the same time, there is an untouched sense of wonder and trust that is palpable in his gesture. 

There are times when we wonder from where motivation arises. I can't help wondering if Che was quietly searching for that spark within himself the very moment this picture was captured. This image is not a moment of depression, this is the aftermath of excessive feelings of euphoria; excessive irritability; difficulties concentrating; disturbed sleep patterns; and insufficient nutrition. This is that moment when analysis outstripped Che's capacity for synthesis. 

Later he will probe and pull things back together, but for this one quiet moment, he was not focused on putting them back together. He was simply allowing himself "to be" ... synthesizing his impressions and thoughts in an unspoken gesture of quiet resignation that follows intensively significant states of hyper-vigilance and anxiety.

Che Melancólico Series
Rodrigo Moya 

Here Che's moment of resignation rebounds into a need to gain mastery over a self-system in chaos. The recognition of disarray and disunity can be extremely terrifying for anyone, much less to a person in his situation at the time of these highly charged socio-political events. Thus, the need to rebound intensifies, bringing with it a new level of clarity and focus. 

Whenever one disintegrates from one's surroundings, the following phase invites new ways of perceiving and increased self-awareness. In the state of true melancholy above, Che appears to have drawn himself into a state of self-analysis. In the subsequent phase of enhanced inspiration that follows melancholy, Che appears to have inspired himself with a vividness of associations. Rustling through the paperwork, the internal psychic milieu is strengthened, and higher-level association is supported.  

Che Melancólico Series
Rodrigo Moya 

The final image in the Melancholy stage is meaning, that yearning for reflection of a dynamic, and multifaceted inner world. Here, Che relights his cigar. The loneliness he suffered brought him from a stage of resignation to excitation, resting in a focused and strategic mindset. He appears pleased with himself; self-assured in his talent, knowing in his understanding of philosophy, politics, science, and human interactions. 

Che is an academic, a deeply passionate individual silenced by the wonders of nature. Devoted to the highest ideals of the causes for which he has fought, Che finds within himself inspiration. Together with the facility of synthesis, and a vividness of association to push beyond his personal struggles and emerge, Che presents to the world an individual in possession of the mental status required for grave concern over the events which have transpired, as well as the required focus it takes to devise and execute a plan. 

Che Gallardo Series
Rodrigo Moya

The "Gallant Che" series begins with an intellectual overexcitability. Faced with innumerable tasks and challenges, Che is sound enough of mind to recognize that his decisions and actions must be extraordinarily fluid. His ability to read and synthesize what must be done in order to co-participate in executing a well-ordered state is marked by the intense emotional expression on his face. This is a moment of extreme dissatisfaction with the unpleasantness of the tasks at hand. It is clear that he is hyper sensitive to the mood state of his environment. He must find that gentle encouragement from his cigar, which he relit prior to this image, in order to continue. 

The marked anxiety is evident - his face is taut and his upper body is tense. Here, Che must again intellectualize most of his feelings. He seems a bit unsure and disoriented when evaluating the tasks at hand. In Che's facial expressions we are capable of reading social cues and of integrating what he might have been thinking or feeling. When overwhelmed, Che does not seem overly difficult to read. His latent interpenetrating perceptions and feelings are written all over his face.

Che Gallardo Series
Rodrigo Moya

The variety of different ways Che seems to have for integrating stimuli adds complex to this collection of photographs. His sensitivity and ability to rebound hint at an "unknown field" relating to both his inner and outer worlds. His disquietude coupled with excitation, the back and forth of doctor versus revolutionary forever at play. 

In this photo the Revolutionary makes an appearance. There is a loosening of familiar processes, a new edge of creativity in one's own being, and the opportunity to forge true political change must have been heightened in his mind at this very moment. Che's counselor within attended to his grounding mechanisms by allowing for an earlier emotional discharge, but his warrior instincts put them to rest and got on with the job at hand. 

The inner equilibrium of strong feelings of unreality, disconnection from society while in the jungle, and lack of personal cohesion must have caused Che's mind to spin, for great chaos revolves around itself in the utter destruction of everything familiar. After a point, there is no more suffering, only a neutral calm of total resignation (Melancholy Che). 

Che was a thinker of exceptional quality, and all such thinkers know that they are thinkers without true knowledge. Reality lie somewhere along a stretch of interminable roads, and we are merely hitchhikers on that road; riding one piece of information until we arrive to the next.   

Che Gallardo Series
Rodrigo Moya

In the last photograph of the Gallant Che series, Che conveys to us the importance he gave to these struggles. We recognize instantly a mind at work. This is the most impressive mood change in the series. To me, it represents a softening of the emotional shell and willingness toward work and circumstances.

Within this overall complex framework, Che's ability to probe his inner world and see multiple dimensions within himself and in the environment around him were noteworthy. It is evident in these photos that Che was consistently aware of others, of physical aspects of his environment, and of the social agenda from which he was physically separated during his time in the jungle. In many ways you could call his rebounding a positive from malady - a conflict with and rejection of the prevailing political party and attitudes without losing sight of a higher moral imperative that operated within Che's mind.

Che's outlook was a driving force in much of his behavior and thoughts. His challenge of the political structure and status quo in society was excessive, but it was also the impetus behind his growing complexity of mind.

Che Jovial Series
Rodrigo Moya

In the first photograph of Cheerful Che we see him returning to a state of contemplation, initiated notably by the complexity of the decisions facing him rather than the prior emotions that had invaded his earlier thoughts. Here, Che is visually focused on resolving a challenge as he looks off in the distance. It appears as if he is simultaneously listening to the conversation of another while gathering his own thoughts. 

Che's profoundly introverted nature infused with rich imaginational, emotional, and intellectual characteristics was radically unlike those of Fidel Castro, the chief orchestrator of the overthrow of the then United States-backed military junta of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista. Castro's ultimate success in Cuba was using intelligence to maintain efficient systems. Castro became the 'father' of Cuba, providing a state for his 'family' (all Cubans, and honorary Cubans) rather than a state for just the citizens of Cuba. 

The legacy of the Cuban Revolution was in taking a long history of deep mistrust of intellectual pursuits and shifting that distrust into a firm adherence to a philosophy of pragmatism. Both Che and Fidel were extremely successful in achieving their revolutionary goals, but prone to unbalanced displays of emotion and unreasonable acts. Like Che, Fidel is complex. As Revolutionaries, both cared deeply for the rights of the unfortunate. The Revolution was a way to support their idealistic, passionate, tenacious, and complex style of operating in the world. 

Che Jovial Series
Rodrigo Moya

The vast mood improvement in this photo marks Che's inherent sense of well-being and a resurgence of hope and purpose. With profound challenges comes profound opportunities for therapeutic encounters of deep meaning and sufficient complexity that can help facilitate the transformation of cognitive functioning, emotional fatigue, and stymied processes of living in the world.

For Che, exceptional sensitivity and almost immeasurable intensity were fundamental features in the challenges he experienced. His rich inner world and his capacity for deep intellectual, emotional, and imaginational penetration into the world around him resulted in a surplus of feelings and impressions that were exacerbated by a revolutionary environment.

Understanding the thoughts that lie behind Che's facial expressions demands a great deal in terms of conceptual sophistication and sensitivity in analysis. Not being trained in psychology (other than a few courses in college), I can only rely on what my own inner thoughts tell me when I look at these images. Even for a trained psychoanalyst, anyone wishing to examine the feelings, motivations, or thoughts of another must first examine these sensitivities in him or herself. Without a meaningful exchange with the individual - which in this case is impossible - any theory we interpret is a co-creation with our own inner world.

More than anything, in this photo Che appears relieved - even if only for a moment. Maybe he sees the transformational potential in what had previously been seen as merely dysfunctional issues, which speaks to the individual growth process that follows profound surges in emotional, intellectual, and physical challenges.

Here, Che seems more authentic. His personality comes forth and we find reason to like him, considering the person behind the Revolutionary Figure.

Che Jovial Series
Rodrigo Moya

"You talkin' to me?" 

Several moral and ethical themes recur across these photographs - Che's awareness and concerns with justice, his concern for the well-being of the downtrodden; questions of right, wrong, and the relativism of these concepts; questioning death and his role in saving or ending a life; and interest in philosophy and social issues. 

As a child, Che must have been naturally very curious. We know that he read voraciously, and paid close attention to the world around him. It is almost as if he had been hyper-vigilant. Not only did he pay close attention to what other people were doing, but he was conscious of what other people's actions meant. Che must have begun processing moral and ethical issues at a very young age, which motivated his education and infamous road trip (The Motorcycle Diaries). 

Initially, upon meeting individuals like Che, others are usually touched by their sense of caring and concern, yet at the same time frequently feel concern for how and what extent to delve into these areas. Many young children act on this early awareness and sense of responsibility by volunteering at school or in their communities to make a positive contribution toward issues that concerned or inspired them. 

Che, on the other hand, adopted the humane issues of a country other than his own. Perhaps this 'outsider' attitude is what is at play in this photograph. It is that "I have a right to be here" look while simultaneously questioning that right in the person to whom he is responding. 

Irrespective of how much one comes to the aid for another, the sense of having a 'right to be there' comes up for all parties, those who offer aid as well as those who are being aided. 

Che Locuaz Series
Rodrigo Moya

While Moya titled this series Loquacious Che, I see in these last three images a stage that is characterized by integrity versus satisfaction. Rather than being satisfied with the successes of the Revolution, Che looks as if this marked the beginning of his projecting his deeply held personal views onto the world stage.

The high-powered brain that drives a person like Che does not switch into low gear simply because a milestone has been reached. For Che, who emerged as a "revolutionary statesman of world stature" (Kellner, 1989), the conflict continued. The struggle of the masses mistreated and scorned by imperialism needed help and deserved vindication.

The laws of capitalism, blind and invisible to the majority, act upon the individual without his thinking about it. He sees only the vastness of a seemingly infinite horizon before him. That is how it is painted by capitalist propagandists, who purport to draw a lesson from the example of Rockefeller - whether or not it is true - about the possibilities of success. The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible to make the people in general see this." 

("Socialism and Man in Cuba" A letter to Carlos Quijano, editor of Marcha, a weekly newspaper published in Montevideo, Uruguay; published as "From Algiers, for Marcha: The Cuban Revolution Today" by Che Guevara on March 12, 1965). 

Che Locuaz Series
Rodrigo Moya

While Fidel Castro settled in to run things at home, Che embarked on a series of public appearances on the international stage, delivering speeches on solidarity. He resigned from all his positions in the Cuban government and communist party, renounced his honorary Cuban citizenship, and went to fight for revolutionary causes abroad. 

It is not surprising that Che's life came to an end while fighting the good fight. Here in this photograph there is something in Che's eyes that tells the onlooker that he has not outgrown the initial revolutionary ideals he adopted. On the contrary, he is firm and steadfast in his beliefs; more so now, than perhaps in the beginning. There is an intensity in his gaze, a complexity that would elicit an equally intense reaction in anyone who looked directly into his eyes. 

It is not easy to orchestrate a Revolution, educate and train a fighting force, or establish radio broadcasts and schools from outposts in the jungle; vision, coordination, and reaction time needed in survival circumstances become heightened. 

How does a high-functioning mind respond to these heightened experiences? Not by retiring, that's for sure. It was not about substituting one ideal for another. For Che, humanism was the ideal. He must have felt that he had no other way of expressing this ideal than to continue fighting.

Che Locuaz Series
Rodrigo Moya

In this last photograph of Loquacious Che, he visibly quiet, but from the intensity of his focus, we can assume that he is talking incessantly to himself; walking himself through what will be his next course of action. The outward sign of internal intensity is sharp, but ironically his touch is light. The lighter he holds gingerly between his fingers precariously stands on end. It is not gripped, instead it is supported. It is almost a metaphor for the precarious position of his dissidents and his own role in supporting their causes.

Why did he fight for the rights of foreign citizens?

Che was anything but weak. He was handsome, highly intelligent, and beyond capable. Had he chosen to do so, he could have revolutionized Cuba into his vision of a model society. Instead, he left again to fight the good fight. Again, we ask why.

The answer to this question speaks to the intensity of individuals like Che. People who become the byproducts of a lifelong investment in mental challenges. Usually, these individuals have above-average educations, enjoy complex and stimulating lifestyles, and are married to smart ideals. This intensity is not something that is outgrown, if anything, it increases with age.

Individuals like Che continue to seek, find, and create new challenges for themselves. They work tirelessly, using their gifts and talents in meaningful ways toward their goals of making the world a better place. Many are lifelong learners and seekers of truth. Che's life was an extension of his inner experiences, his death a result of earlier phases and the repercussions associated with living a highly intense socio-political life. Associating oneself with dissenters invites dissent, which typically transcends the boundaries of dissenter and Revolutionary Hero. Che, in many ways, became a dissenter, or maybe he always was. His identification with the downtrodden spoke to an internal loneliness he must have felt in childhood. Without kindred spirits with whom to commune on the profound subjects that speak to a highly intense person, that same highly intense person begins to commune alone. Even in good company, solitary communion can leave an individual vulnerable to unhealthy mental constructs.

While Che had highly developed coping skills to combat these challenges, he pushed the limits to the point when his revolutionary actions became nothing more than a numbers game.  Eventually the game ended.

The game doesn't always have to end in tragedy. Sometimes the game can end peacefully and quietly, with few if any realizing that a game had ever been played. These individuals live in exile from their former selves and from their former lives. The intensity is still there, only it is redirected. Where it is redirected often times relates more to what the individual enjoyed before the intensities of their complex mindset evolved.

This return to self is familiar for many people; not necessarily on the same level of intensity as was the life of Che Guevara, but a level involving an extension of experiences rather than a final chapter or conclusion. It is natural to "miss" a prior mindset once circumstances no longer require its presence, but a highly intense individual in possession of a healthy mindset will inherently find a way to redirect that longing into a longing for the new activities he or she adopts.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Positive Thought Experiments II

In Positive Thought Experiments, I shared my belief in the positive effects of thinking positively.

I take responsibility for what I am thinking and for what thoughts I allow into my mind. I focus on positive literature and humor and believe that a few silly lines and cartoons have more transformational power than the analysis of split second flash negativity. 

When I encounter a negative thought, it's this focused awareness on the positive that allows me to repel it. I don't focus on what I am not or what I cannot do. Instead, I am a humor archaeologist uncovering positivity wherever I can find it. 

Positive thought experiments wipe the slate clean of negativity in your environment. And while negativity still can arise, this positive magic wand when waved over any thought can help you sort out what is important so you can focus on what really matters. 

Since we can have only one thought at a time, 
I strive to make it a good one. 


Interestingly enough, in the psychology of prediction, people's predictions tend to be optimistically biased (So, I'm not the only one out here inclining toward positive outcomes.). In general, people assign "higher probabilities to their attainment of desirable outcomes than either objective criteria or logical analysis warrants" (David A. Armor and Shelly E. Taylor, When Predictions Fail: The Dilemma of Unrealistic Optimism). "Yet the very prevalence of optimistic biases presents an intriguing dilemma: Given that many of the decisions people make, most of their choices, and virtually all plans are based on expectations about the future, it would seem imperative that people's predictions and expectations be free from bias." If the majority of predictions, expectations and performance-relevant perceptions are optimistically biased, how can people make appropriate decisions, or choose effective courses of action?" 

Well, let's see, shall we? 

Just because an individual is prone to optimistic biases, does not mean that they do not later sit down to evaluate those judgments. 

Take the proverbial To-Do List: 

One of the things I like about this list is that is organizes goals and activities in relation to maintaining a healthy balance. The list already sets one up for personal success (staying hydrated, rewarding the body with physical movement, responding to people who wish to hear from us, de-cluttering our environment to minimize tension). Why have a To-Do list that doesn't remind us of the things we'd like to accomplish and do for ourselves while keeping track of our responsibilities? 

In my mind, this is an example of a Positive To-Do List, a helpful reminder that keeps us on track toward achieving our happiest outcomes. A positive perspective combined with a Positive To-Do List (or Attainment Sheet) increases the probability that we will attain that which we desire. 

Liberating Imagination (2014)
Soph Laugh

Goals Begins With Dreams

In order to achieve our goals, we must first dream or imagine what it is we wish to accomplish. Once we have imagined what we would like to achieve, the second step is to write down or somehow articulate that goal. If, after we have written down our goal, we can imagine ourself receiving it, then this is when we begin strategizing. 

Strategy is that part of the attainment process whereby we think about all the things we might need to do or things we might need to possess in order to position ourself in front of our goal. Opportunities arise the more we do something. 

For example, I wanted to write a book, but I did not have time with my career and lifestyle to sit down and give my full-attention to the enterprise. So, instead, I began a blog. Doing so has helped me improve my writing skills, given me a perspective as to what others enjoy reading, and also built an audience. The result - improved writing skills, a clear direction, and an audience - translates into a higher probability that a publisher will someday consider a book proposal than had I waited until the timing was right for me to write a book. Once the timing is right for me, I have positioned myself to take advantage of opportunities that would not have existed otherwise. 

This scenario is the same for an athlete. An athlete practices every day, for years; reads about their sport, adjusts their lifestyle to accommodate their sport, and eventually tries out for a team or enters a competition. Whether or not they win or make it to the Olympics, for example, is a culmination of preparedness, desire, talent, and perhaps a little luck. 

For the athlete (blogger, writer, artist, mathematician, scientist, etc.) who positions themselves "on the front line of their dreams", no doubt there was first a foundation of dreaming that filtered into their imagination, that flooded their daily thoughts, that made their way onto their To-Do List, that got done, that positioned them closer to opportunities, that opened doors that they so deeply desired to enter.

Even if the results of our efforts do not look entirely like how we first imagined or dreamed them to be, the likelihood is that we are now somewhere in the mix, actively participating in the activities that make us happy, that fill our thoughts and dreams with new thoughts and dreams. This, from my perspective, is living the life, as they say. It is doing the things that make us happiest. It is turning positive biases into happy outcomes. 

Dreams Change

Sometimes we dream one dream only to discover a bigger one. Take for example my above-mentioned blogging-in-order-to-someday-write-a-book dream. Three years into blogging and I have discovered that I actually enjoy blogging for the sake of blogging. I simply enjoy writing. It is relaxing. It helps me organize my random or stray thoughts. Blogging gives me something fun or interesting to sit down and think about without the pressures associated with editing, formatting, and publisher hunting and negotiations, and it will someday make a wonderful gift to leave to my children. And the best part... I did not have to publish a book to become a writer. 

Dream achieved. 

New Dreams

I am a highly visual person. The amount of pictures that accompany my writing reflects this fact. For reasons I have shared previously, I began drawing about two years ago. Having drawn extensively as a child, art was a familiar and welcomed activity. Given that art preservation transitioned from an interest, to an aspect of my career, to a passion; creating my own art has resulted a very satisfying and highly personal link to that which captivates my thoughts.

Walking down the streets of Paris with my children I remarked how much I would love to have my own gallery. Given that we were surrounded by galleries, I said this so many times that I said to myself, "It's time to do something about this." 

I sat down and wrote out a strategic plan in order to achieve my goal. Then, some things in our lives changed and we returned to the Americas. Given that we will be in the Americas for a few years to accomplish long-term goals we had previously established for ourselves, I started wondering exactly when it would be that I would be able to open my own gallery. I was starting to think it might be years before it would happen. 

Then as I walked through my home I realized how many paintings already adorned the walls. The east corridor where we first began hanging paintings turned into two corridors of paintings, which migrated up the staircase, which made their way into the service rooms, which began seeping into the main rooms, which now adorn the hearth, a few of which are stacked in the butler's pantry, others are hung in the kitchen nook, still others cover nearly every available square inch of my library, more hang in hallways, some hang in bathrooms, others hang in the bedrooms, and so on. 

I realized that I already have a gallery. I turned my home into a gallery. With mural projects in the making, I realized that I have turned my entire home into a giant canvas. 

My dream of having my own gallery morphed into transforming my home into a personal gallery. My dream of becoming a published writer resulted in my publishing my writing in a blog. Okay, slightly different than I imagined, but a great "in the making" story. 

This story has three revelations: 

  1. Whether or not we get paid for our efforts is entirely a matter of industry.
  2. The outcomes of our dreams are not limited to the initial dreams we imagine achieving. 
  3. Dreams are the little things we do each day toward achieving our goals. 

Whatever it is you dream for yourself, I highly recommend experimenting with positive thinking processes. If acting, singing, publishing, becoming famous or outrageously wealthy is your main dream, then the likelihood is you will achieve a percentage (if not all) of that which you seek. Until we begin actively working towards our dreams will we meet them. 

A philosopher might say:

"Meeting our dreams is one of the ways in which we discover ourselves." 

For me, this creative enterprise began with a promise to discover myself. Three years later, I am discovering more than I imagined. 

Fortunately, for all of us, our dreams are not limited to what we imagine today ~ instead, they are a flourishing of who we become along the way. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Alice in Wonderland Artwork

Alice Playing Cards (2014)
Soph Laugh
Copic Marker on Smooth Bristol Paper
11 x 17 (27.9 x 43.2 cm)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), a novel written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantastical world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures such as The White Rabbit (with a pocket watch), The Cheshire Cat, The March Hare, The Hatter, The Dormouse, The Queen of Hearts, The Gryphon, and The Mock Turtle. 

Those who have read Carroll's delightful logic stories, have probably questioned their own rational thinking, their own ability to believe in the unbelievable. 

From the time of Descartes, when he, at twenty-eight-years-old uttered the word "Doubt!" a word that would reverberate for the next four centuries, the gauntlet for using reason rather than faith was set into motion, and Carroll picked it up.  In fact, Carroll mentions that Alice often gave herself good advice but seldom followed it. If you are a reader of the Latin poets, you might recall Ovid said, "I see what is best. I do what is worse."  

Throughout history people have had in common the tendency to believe too much and doubt too little. Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 - 1914), who spent the last twenty-six years of his life in seclusion thinking, thought that the warrants for belief were the inferential links that people use to hold on to or to justify their conviction and confidence in something. According to Pierce the usual warrants are: tenacious, authority, a priori, and verification. 

The Queen of Hearts - tenacious

The Queen of Hearts represents that tenacious mode, the idea or belief that one holds onto irregardless of how the situation changes or evolves. 

The Red Queen shook her head, "You may call it 'nonsense' if you like," she said, "but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!" 

"Off with her head!" [she said] about once in a minute.

"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first - verdict afterwards."

The King of Hearts - authority

The King of Hearts represents the authority mode, that mode in which people will obey authority no matter what, which can pose significant problems when the authority is wrong. In real life, blind obedience to authority leads to disaster. 

"You are all pardoned." 

"Herald, read the accusation!" said the King. 

"I'll fetch the executioner myself," said the King eagerly, and he hurried off.

['The judge, by the way, was the King; and, as he wore his crown over the wig, he did not look at all comfortable, and it was certainly not becoming.]

Alice - a priori

Throughout Carroll's stories, Alice relies on a number of a priori judgments. A priori is based on the application of a general and previously accepted principle to a particular situation. A priori judgments constitute a starting ground, but they do not always prove true in new situations. 

Alice sighed wearily. "I think you might do something better with the time," she said, "than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers." 

"If you knew Time as well as I do," said the Hatter, "you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him." 

"I don't know what you mean," said Alice.

"Of course you don't!" the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. "I dare say you never even spoke to Time!" 

"Perhaps not," Alice cautiously replied; "but I know I have to beat time when I learn music." 

Alice - Verification

Alice exhibits verification when she insists on evidence that she herself can verify. Verification is that mode in which all evidence is examined, ideas are tested against reality. One of the ways Alice demonstrates this mode is when she examines the jar of marmalade.

She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed: it was labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE" but to her great disappointment it was empty. 

Alice Selfie (2014)
Soph Laugh
Copic Marker on Vellum
14 x 17 (35.6 x 43.2 cm)

Reality can sometimes be difficult to confront and verification can often times disappoint, but in the long run, and as it turns out with Alice, we are better off knowing what is real (the truth) rather than what is not real (the illusion). Sometimes verifying rather than trusting can help us out of an uncomfortable situation.

"Hold your tongue!" said the Queen, turning purple.

"I won't!" said Alice.

"Off with her head!" the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

"Who cares for you?" said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time.). "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" 

Other times verifying can leave us empty. 

She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed: it was labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE" but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar, for fear of [hurting] somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.

Of course, emptiness can lead to a revelation.

"Well!" thought Alice to herself, "after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down-stairs! How brave they'll think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)

Alice's revelations throughout her adventure in Wonderland raises important questions like "Is the nothing in that jar something or is it nothing? Is nothing something or is nothing nothing?"*

In other words:

Where does the candle flame go when we blow it out?

 *Bernard M. Patten, Alice: Clear Thinking in Wonderland