24 November 2009

Holiday Surprise

Are we merely a generation or so away from a true kindness therapy: "oxytocin, the small, celebrated peptide hormone...helps lubricate our every prosocial exchange, the thousands of acts of kindness, kind-of kindness and not-as-nakedly-venal-as-I-could-have-been kindness that make human society possible." Maybe there is hope for humanity after all.

Don't know if oxytocin will help these guys, though. Do not doubt for an instant that if they start instituting 'purity tests' among themselves when they are out of power they will want to institute 'patriotism' or 'loyalty oaths' when they're back in office. It's in their DNA. It's encouraging that even oxytocin doesn't prevent you from recognizing assholes:"
Yet the hormone doesn’t turn you into a sucker. In the Nov. 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry, Simone Shamay-Tsoory of the University of Haifa and her colleagues reported that when participants in a game of chance were pitted against a player they considered arrogant, a nasal spritz of oxytocin augmented their feelings both of envy whenever the haughty one won and of schadenfreudian gloating when their opponent lost."
Ooh, she said schadenfreudian. I have goosebumps. Maybe you could spritz some of that stuff on mean old Uncle Ernie's turkey.

"Bleggalgazing" (to borrow a neologism from blogger extraordinaire BDR): What is blog that thou are mindful of it? Speaking of purity, here's Zadie Smith:
"There is a certain kind of writer – quite often male but by no means exclusively so – who has a fundamental hunger for purity, and for perfection, and this type will always hold the essay form in high esteem. Because essays hold out the possibility of something like perfection.

Novels, by contrast, are idiosyncratic, uneven, embarrassing, and quite frequently nausea-inducing – especially if you happen to have written one yourself. Within the confines of an essay or – even better! – an aphorism, you can be the writer you dream of being. No word out of place, no tell-tale weak spots (dialogue, the convincing representation of other people, plot), no absences, no lack. I think it's the limits of the essay, and of the real, that truly attract fiction writers. In the confined space of an essay you have the possibility of being wise, of making your case, of appearing to see deeply into things – although the thing you're generally looking into is the self." (emphasis supplied)
Maybe, Zadie, essay-writing (a/k/a blogging) is just easier than art. Essay. Easy. Get it? Art. Hard.

But... but... but... if all the arguments for god's existence are flawed [that, of course, doesn't necessarily mean god doesn't exist; it just means we can't argue very well] to whom are we giving thanks this Thanksgiving holiday?

The soundtrack of our (younger) lives: The thrill of 'discovering' an obscure band that all your buddies thought was cool. (Always wanted to be an A & R man.) Steve Almond gets it just about right—a little sentimental and nostalgic, perhaps, but pretty much on the mark. What a long, strange trip it's been.


Frances Madeson said...

I don't have your e-mail or I'd send you a private message. There's a prize being offered for political blog posts and I'd be honored to nominate you if you would enjoy being part of it. You can e-mail me and let me know.

Jim H. said...


I'm honored. I have no idea who is offering this prize. But I thank you for thinking of me.

Jim H.

Frances Madeson said...

You're all nominated. It was a difficult matter to choose between so many excellent posts this year, but in the end I went with "Blunderbuss." Here are the details of the prize: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2009/11/3-quarks-daily-prize-in-politics.html

Frances Madeson said...

Just had the pleasure of voting for Blunderbuss at the 3QD site. Listed alphabetically by blog, yours is the ultimate!