In the flurry
(I reach to the right)

Onto the expressway

And I’m out, I slide
Into the desert, dust cloud
Sandstorm
I’m in a jungle
Was,

That a dream?
Teach me how to draw
The line between materials, sense
And a million false galaxies

Onto the expressway

And I’m out,

Onto the,

End
Start,
And, Start

Cost minimization is an intuitive concept that tries to explain human behavior. It simply means that, on the way to achieving a certain amount of satisfaction, we try to do so in the most cost-effective way possible. One form of satisfaction we could consider is when we eat. We both need and desire food, hence our constantly purchasing and/or making some. Now, as we make the decision on what to purchase, we take into account our budget. The lower the budget, the less options we have. We also take time into account, and as with our budget, the less time we may have to allot for eating, the less options we have.

Often times, we find ourselves in situations where we have both a low budget and little time to prepare different kinds of food. Some of us also value time differently when it comes to food; some are willing to take the time to cook given a certain budget, while others do not. In these situations, we then find a certain type of food to be as a viable and compelling option, which we do tend to take: fast food. Fast food tends to be affordable, and is prepared beforehand, hence the name. Some options don’t taste half bad, either. It’s difficult then not to take the fast food option. Evidence? Look no further than the number of fast food joints all around the world.

The problem with this behavior is that we accrue costs along the way that, later in life, will prove heavy. This is in terms of our health. It’s well documented that a lot of fast food is loaded with gunk that should never make it past our mouths. Yet, we still consume it, even with knowledge of its possible effects, for multiple reasons. Some of us simply do not have other options given our constraints. Some of us, in spite of having other options, discount the future effects quite a bit. In either case, the implications could not bode well for us.

That is not the only irony. Perhaps, the emergence of fast food, to begin with, is ironic in its own right. I’d think that this occurred partly because of attempts to solve the problem of time and budget for the consumer, and also because of attempts to create cheap-costing food and drinks, as a result of cost-minimization. We’ve come to the point that we’ve figured out just how to do it, what substances and chemicals are easy to mass produce to be used in food processing. The demand for it has been evident, and I believe that explains the fast food boom over the past few decades. The result may not burn a hole in the pocket, but cost is a concept that spans beyond money. 

We have ideas of having equal, absolute capacities as humans to do the things we set our minds to. We are all supposed to be able to “rise through the ranks” and, through sheer hard work, come out successful in later years. This is an idea at the core of the “American Dream” of the past century, also one that has surfaced much earlier in some forms as part of doctrines of liberalism (being able to pursue our interests in an unfettered manner). I would, however, like to call for an updated world view, as this current one is vastly different. I’d think that the “great writers” of past would write much differently had they been born today (if, at all, write anything). And the key to this, in my opinion, is the exponential growth of our population (there may be other big reasons, but it is this I would like to focus on).

Immediate questions: What would the big names of the age of enlightenment write about today? And, would they have had the same opportunities to be able to now? For starters, I think that a lot of the writings that matter now are those that serve a practical purpose over ones with a more philosophical or political bent. The world, with globalization, has homogenized to a greater extent (ironically, with a greater population), and while differences in beliefs most certainly still exist, save for a few cases, the divides may not be as problematic (on second thought, maybe not by much). With all the knowledge we have now, there is greater pressure to answer questions on diseases and improving the economy. The need is greater for ideas that improve the quality of life, over those that theorize the interactions of people (which are not necessarily unhelpful, mind you). Now, there are ways to solve problems, and then there are better ways. Ultimately, one or few ideas will triumph, and these would have come from one person, or a few people, in turn. Those who find these would then be put on an imagined pedestal, one that becomes reality with enough people in agreement of it. 

Here is where population comes in: that one person, in the 1800s, would have stood out among a billion people. Today, that same person would have stood out among seven billion

What are the implications? For one, with a greater number of people, there is, of course, greater competition. For what? For the limited number of institutions of “greatness”, that have not scaled in number accordingly. These include physical institutions, such as the best schools, or places of human organization, such as the highest seats of government. On a global level, you are competing with 7 more persons now than in a couple hundred years ago. And, all things constant, it is thus much harder to stand out.

As a result, factors out of control hold greater weight relative to sheer individual hard work than before. These include our backgrounds, the environment we are born in, and all other factors that can give one a leg up. It thus comes as no surprise to me that I saw recently in a screenshot of a news show that this generation is a more “pressured” one compared to previous ones. Success is harder to come by, in my opinion, when marginal differences matter more and more as we try to distinguish ourselves. How do you stand out in a sea of seven billion? This, to me, just makes the problem of inequality much harder to solve. Competition might breed some really great solutions for a broad population, as it has many times, but it is seemingly more crushing on an individual level.

Why compete when we can all just learn to be content, however? Learning to be is definitely a great value, one that we who live comfortably ought to learn. In this age of information, however, I think that’s a far harder task than ever before. We have in our screens pictures and all other information on the lives of other people, with great emphasis on those at the top of the food chain. We regularly see posts of great food, great cars, extravagant lifestyles of celebrities (whom we are all, to some extent, fascinated with) and much more. We are more aware in general than people of the past of what can be gotten out of life. The incentive to still make pursuits has been essentially the same, only that we are given reminders of it even more. With every advanced age, is more absolute opportunities for some truly euphoric, fulfilling experiences. But, surely, the number of people who have the access to these has not greatly increased as much as the total world population. Only a few, inevitably, in our current world, can get the very best, even fewer than before relatively.

It is these conditions that I believe thinkers would have to make revisions on their old theories. It may be the time (on top of all other problem solving, of course), for new thinkers to emerge and to write (given the ability of information to now spread), and answer big normative questions. We may continue to read and write about past philosophies and ideologies, but, in my opinion, to still hold any of these as pure prescriptions to problems would be a waste. And, to leave my own personal, probably underdeveloped take on things, I believe that reason against a pure, individualistic approach to life, and the pursuit of self-interests, is taking greater mass. And if, to channel in some possibly pretentious manner what I imagine to be the great intellectual debates of the past, I would like to hear your own take.

Man, as far as I can tell, will always be limited by its being an animal. In a biological sense, man truly is, given its anatomy and physiology, and what it needs in order to grow and survive. What is also clear is how man is differentiated from other members of the animal kingdom. And it all, of course, has to do with the mind. This is the mind that leads to man taking charge of his environment, subduing it, with the intent to. Other species are stuck in the process of only being able to adapt to the surroundings, and man has become large enough to take an active part in this. I end here, this is all known.

I’ll take it a notch further, by saying that the mind (partly) exists on a realm of its own. This is a world of assumptions, of prejudice, of the abstract ways in which elements come together aesthetically, which are all man-made constructs. Take man away, and, all things constant, these cease to exist. That, too, is not projected to change anytime soon. As such, I believe that as the realm of the mind expands, it begins to mess with reality, hence influencing our actions. We can find evidence in a lot of instances, as in the aforementioned prejudice. But now, I stated partly, as I’d say that majority of the mind’s function still lies on a need-based system: responding to what the animal wants, and, unlike others, finding innovative solutions to delivering said wants. Despite my tone, I do not doubt any one bit the goodness that has come out of our responses to wants and needs. 

But then, the limit, as I said, is in man’s not being exempt from things subjected to other animals. You take the mind away, or, more realistically, give it reason to throw rationality out the window, and you are an animal. Further responses may lack a humanistic “why?” and may be replaced with one truly primal characteristic: instinct. Evolution has not erased traces of it; we are thus not fully safe from making dangerous choices. I thus jump to my own experience: 

Sometimes, I just snap. Post-evaluation has led to me believe that I see, in these instances, the border between the thinker and the beast. Emotion takes the driver’s seat: while it is still human, it is less so, in the rational sense of the word. 

Here, I would’ve then equated unfiltered rage to being “animalistic”, but I am not so sure. Cheers. 

The past 3 weeks have been some of the saddest, for me. I don’t think anyone knows how depressed I’ve been. Actually, I’m pretty sure no one does. Whether that’s for better or for worse is beyond me. 

I would’ve believed myself to be very capable of warding these feelings away, as they rarely come, more so last any longer than a day or 2. The case feels much more different now, and I don’t see an end to the spell.

The universe is relentless. Is it on a mission to wreck me in some way? For quite some time, I’ve stopped subscribing to that belief, but whatever defenses I’ve crafted for myself seem to be cracking. I’m at least optimistic that I won’t 

I’d like to believe discrimination begins when we presuppose things about people, on the basis of accounts. Based on my experience, these accounts rarely are firsthand. At the same time, firsthand accounts can have biases, and can be subject to our own interpretations. In my head, the credibility of any of these is dampened by the idea that our experiences of people vary, and we all tend to act differently among different people to an extent. 

I’ve also observed that we tend to quickly believe in, and somewhat crave for, controversial stories (tabloids remain in business). This characteristic is what provides the fuel for rumors. And, like diseases, they seem to spread rapidly, to people you would not expect to catch on to them. Hence, rumors are a social disease. And, again like diseases, they can wreak havoc on people’s lives. 

Combining these two, I have a general description of many situations I’ve encountered, some of which I have unfortunately figured myself in. These are situations where we speculate on the beings of individuals, with accounts sometimes the sole basis, and form a collective opinion for these individuals, which generally turn out to be destructive.  This is, without true knowledge of the individual. In an extreme way (and it happens), without ever having exchanged words. 

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