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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Crime & Punishment

What, has edjog been reading Dostoevsky? Not for 20 years and while i'd recommend it as an important text: be prepared for a long wade; it's a bit impenetrable, possibly because of the translation. This is in response to the on going poll about what you'd like to see more of, i.e. philosophy. I've wandered into a few logical inconsistencies here, but i'll stand by the bulk of it.

I originally posted this in the forum "Infinite Directions" in a thread entitled "Is ultimate fantasy immoral?" [title link] @ BetterHumans.com. The subject is whether it would be right to allow acts which we deem morally unacceptible in real life to take place in a Virtual Reality game, as we currently do with killing in video games. I've mirrored the original post "Off The Main Page" also. The discussion goes on a fair wander and, as i recall, without going back and reading all of it, nobody really get's into the original question, which the author Cemiess, elaborates on:
I've long believed that if someone thinks something, no matter how horrible it is, then they aren't being immoral unless they act up that thought.
Which reminded me of a post "A few words before we go: Finders Weepers". But i got dragged into the wider debate thus:

"I was only thinking of the criminals. If they commit extremely serious and violent crimes, the penality they'll have to pay is to have their memories extensively edited, in addition to removal of addictions or other forms of organically caused mental illness. They would be forced to assume totally new identities, including altering of all biometrics. Lesser crimes wouldn't rate this obviously."
~ Mr. Farlops
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear... Yes, clearly deviants are easily recognised and their behaviour is the result of a simple defect. They are the ones wearing the black hats who don't behave as i do. [/class="also sarcasm;"]

I'm guessing you've never been in a situation where a serious breach of the law seemed like the lesser of the evils available as options?

Now before anybody wades in, i'm not for one moment attempting to justify murder/rape/child molestation, because clearly these are all heinous acts which we would all be the better for seeing the less of. However, nothing to do with human behaviour is ever simple. Nobody wakes up one morning, having been a perfectly well adjusted person the day before, and thinks, "Today, for no reason, i'll become a murderer/rapist/child molester. That sounds like a laugh!" There may well be a genetic predisposition to these behaviours, however, by and large, terrible behaviours spring out of terrible environments.

The reason for this is simple: empathy. If our environment is safe, we engage with its other inhabitants emotionally and whilst occaisional destructive thoughts/feelings may enter our heads (and who doesn't get frustrated to the point of fantasy violence occaisionally), the reason we don't act on them is not because it's against the law (otherwise murder would be as common as illegal drug taking), but rather because we have some intimation of how terrible it would feel for the victim/s or surviving loved ones.

If our environment is unsafe, the opposite is true: we do not empathise with anyone, we become all about self, therefore the same level of inhibition is not present. This is surely part of our survival instinct. The answer is not to attempt to stigmatise 'deviants' and change them, but rather change the environment. After all, as CP rightly points out, who knows when these traits might be very necessary. The planet has undergone radical change before and, no doubt, will again. This is quite apart from any hostile environments we may end up colonising off Earth.

This is without considering the fallability of criminal justice systems, malicious prosecution for personal gain or simple governmental oppression.
"I believe that two versions of these programs should be available to the public. One version should be available to the general population and the other to prisoners."
Personally, i'm hoping we'll have come up with something better than prisons. I don't know what, because i certainly wouldn't advocate any kind of memory edit, but some kind of supervised re-integration with society, maybe. Possibly even with temporary restrictions on access to some parts of society. After all, rights are a privilege with which come responsibilities. I see nothing wrong with their temporary suspension, until such times as a person has been taught the ability to respond to their environment, rather than react to their feelings about it.

The trouble with prison is that it does not do this, but rather abrogates rights almost totally, which actually further increases a convict's alienation from society, thus making it that much less likely that they will ever be integrated.
"the pain and such will remain in the victims if they aren't assured the criminal is punished. It's a natural thing." ~ CP
It may well be natural to seek revenge however, i'd suggest that it is equally as dysfunctional as committing crime. It is a pandering to a feeling of outrage. In a Judeo-Christian moral framework, we may well identify with that feeling more readily than we do with the feelings that led upto a crime, however this does not change the fact that it is simply a feeling, the strength of which may have outlived its original purpose, which was surely also survival related.

The victims of this unhelpfull feeling could also be helped to re-integrate, without the necessity of a further moral outrage being perpetrated (in the mistaken belief that this would somehow assuage it). That seems to be one of the functions of law, to temper outrage, because if people were to go around seeking revenge biblical stylee, it'd be an eye for an eye until we were all blind.
"Vile deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air, it is only what is good in man, that wastes and withers there."
~ Oscar Wilde
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 - 1900)
The discussion went on for a bit before:
"I was merely stating a possibility for future punishment of certain kinds of crime--complete personality and body alteration. Functionally this is the same thing as capital punishment; the old person is killed.

And yes, I am fully aware of the possibility for abuse of this potential.

Obviously governments can use these technologies, as they emerge, to silence dissidents, political prisoners, revolutionaries and so on. The situation could rapidly degenerate to a point were we have the perfect police state where people's brains have been rendered physically incapable of thinking subversive thoughts.

I assure you I'd hate to see such a society come into being. I quite agree there are unjust laws and unjust societies and we should all work to change them."
~ Mr. Farlops
Good man yourself! I'd ask you to consider this though:

Quite apart from the morality of capital punishment, given your experience of human nature and knowledge of history, which do you think we would likely be at more risk from, if such technology were available while government per se exists;

that in a safe environment with universal provision of high quality education, health care, food, sanitation and shelter, crime would be a significant problem or;

our rulers would seek to maintain a position somehow demonstrably better off than us 'ordinary people', possibly even going as far as reserving for themselves and cronies the right to remain unedited, and use said to stifle dissent?

There was more until:
"Punishment discourages a repeat of the same aggressive behavior by individuals."
~ CP
No, it does not. Behaviour in individuals which is aggressive enough to constitute a crime is a result of an inability to respond to feelings rationally or the result of a pathological problem which precludes them in the first place. A person who has this inability can no more control their reaction than a person who has the ability can control their empathic response. This is why it takes intensive training, including elements of controlled brutalisation, to make average young persons into soldiers and why, despite that training, many are still emotionally crippled by the experience of killing their fellow human beings.

This is also why many of us who are like that become drug addicts and/or alcoholics. We must self-medicate, because otherwise we would go mental, conflicted between intolerable feelings and our limited sense of empathy. However even after self medication, the unresolved feelings are still simmering away under the surface. The next time something occurs which threatens to release them, maybe we'll be ok by taking still stronger drugs or more, maybe we'll freak right out and mess somebody up really badly.

In a subject with a personality disorder of this kind, the fear of potential punishment may actually make us worse, by adding that much more stress to an already explosive potential. In somebody who is really far gone, totally divorced from empathy, it may lead to the murder of a witness/police officer.

At best, punishment deters those who are rational enough to appreciate the full consequences of their actions. It's telling that you use the word "discourage", CP, because, even in a controlled environment such as a boxing ring, doing violence to another whilst in full possession of one's faculties takes considerable courage: more than your average person comes equipped with, unless they are subject to tremendous emotional stress, or have been brutalised in some way prior, which tends to remove the inhibition. One gets used to it. But the truth is that if a person is concerned about punishment enough to deter them from aggression, they more than likely haven't the nuts to do anything anyway. How many times have you heard,
"Oh whatever... You're just not worth it!"
When you know full well that what the person actually meant was,
"I daren't face the potential consequences of continuing this argument because i'm afraid I'll get hurt or punished if you attack me and what's more, I daren't attack you for the same reasons."
I have to tell you, i was a hardcore lunatic but the first time i went to deliberately inflict serious injury on somebody, i puked my guts up afterwards, despite being off my head on drugs and i never got used to being shot at. The fear of the consequences of not doing it though outweighed the fear of getting hurt. Getting caught never entered into it at all.
"Or, if the next time I'm in your neck of the woods I might drop by, clobber you repeatedly with a baseball bat, take whatever of value you have and rape any females there. It would be wrong to do anything in return, right?"
~ CP
In fairness mate, i wouldn't if i were you: i'm a reformed character but i'm as liable to severe emotional triggers as the next person, but i'm also experienced. This succinctly makes the point though, because you almost certainly wouldn't. Not because of anything i might do to you, nor because it's illegal, because you know it's wrong.

Why is it wrong? Because you know you wouldn't like it if i did it to you and yours first and you have enough connection with reality and your feelings to take that twinge of fear at the thought that somebody could (which immediately grows, becoming a complex mix of emotions, as the realisation sinks in) and transfer it onto me. Having instantaneously realised that i would have a similar but worse experience should you proceed, you don't. You may even feel shame for thinking it.

But why, if it's wrong to do it, to deliberately cause suffering, is it not wrong to deliberately cause suffering to the perpetrator? You know it is. Put yourself in that person's shoes for a second, how would you feel if you flipped your lid and thus did terrible things, but had now calmed down, were once more as rational as you get, remorseful even, and then somebody comes along and fucks you over good stylee? If it happened at the time, it would be all part of the same experience, it would seem right. After the fact, with the callous brutality of the law, being made to suffer for something you did whilst you were out of control would do nothing but engender resentment in you.

This is why it's just not on to have mass gun ownership in a civilised society. Because with a gun, you don't have to be completely mental or brave or even under that much stress to kill somebody. All you have to be is unable, or temporarily unwilling, to empathise with your victim's loved ones and pull the trigger. You don't necessarily even have to watch.

However, that is not to say that that person is any less sick. Nor that should somebody do what you have suggested that my reaction to it would be any less sick. Because, lets have it right, fucked in the head is fucked in the head, whichever way you look at it. The trauma would have made me mentally ill. However, whose responsibility is it? Without trying to assign culpability, who is able to respond to the fact that we clearly have some sick people, on both sides of the altercation, when this kind of outrage goes on in our community? Who isn't? Only those who are so sick themselves that they cannot, or will not, empathise with those involved. The only question that remains is what to do about it.

Now, according to John Bradshaw a leading behavioural therapist and researcher, in the US %85 of people are emotionally dysfunctional to a degree which he considers impacts negatively on their lives. He says that in Europe and elsewhere it may be as high as %90, because of an increased social stigma attached to seeking therapy. If you've read him, you'll know he's got a powerful argument, if you haven't, his CV stands as proof that he's not an idiot who would wildly speculate without solid evidence.

Emotional dysfunctionality leads to a sense of isolation, because to some degree dysfunctional interactions with others are dishonest, to protect ourselves from a feared assault on our self esteem. Dishonesty takes effort and breeds shame. Lazyness and shame make us withdraw from the situation; actually, emotionally or both. Isolation is painful because we are naturally social beings. We don't like pain. If something hurts but we are unable to properly examine our own part in the situation for fear of damaging our self esteem (and if we feel ashamed, this is more likely), we look for other causes. The most ready to hand, as it were, is the person/s who we associated with the pain of isolation from in the first place. This becomes a resentment. Resentments inhibit our communication further and we're into a vicious circle which deepens and multiplies them. Our ability to empathise has been curtailed, because we are now all about protecting our very survival from despair by focussing on that which we hate and long for at the same time. Others. If we are focussed entirely outside ourselves, we do not acknowledge or internalise the feelings associated with potential harm to another so there is no transference to them. We never imagine what they feel like with any attendant emotional depth. We are now able to contemplate harm without empathy, we are in fact 'cold hearted'.

Now surely we are not surprised then when our societies are filled with hate, callous disregard, self congratulatory ostentation (the sign of hollow victory), arrogance (the poor man's defence), needless aggression, greed, unhappiness and despair. Yes, in fairness there's a lot of sickness about and actually, unless we start trying to heal some of it, will anyone be left who is able to respond to the tragedies of life?

There'll be those who read this who think yeah, yeah, that's right, yeah... er... hang on a minute! I'm not having that. If you do wrong, you should be punished! Fair do's, tell me where my argumant falls down and let's get into it.

And then:
So you're saying that responding with force to illegal violence doesn't deter the latter but if someone did that to you you'd respond with violence and that would deter someone from trying it again.

I see. ~ CP
No, CP. I'm saying that responding to illegal aggression with force is perfectly understandable, however that it is still the result of one's equilibrium being disrupted by the original act and is unhelpful in terms of resolving the situation, except where it immediately prevents further harm.

As i stated, it would only deter a person from similar acts who was able to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions and that person would be highly unlikely to have the courage to do violence anyway, except in circumstances where they were emotionally traumatised, like defending themselves/loved ones.

Nor am i saying that we should do nothing about it, before anybody embarks on the 'if it's not black, it must be white' train of thought. Rather, i'm saying that in a civilised society, the humane response to sickness is an attempt at healing. Once both parties' problems have been unravelled to the point where they have a grasp of what those problems are and how they can proceed without being unhinged by them, some form of restitution by the offender to the victim is very likely to be a useful part of a final resolution.

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Blogger shane said...

(Aha! the right click works!) Interesting stuff, edjog. Great topic. As I discussed in my last post, I don’t think violence can ever be unconditionally ruled out (as you said, it’s not a black/white issue—no issue ever is), but, as an anarchist, I oppose all forms of Government violence, and I think you’re right on about how a healthy society should concern itself with healing the disease and not just eliminating the symptoms. As someone who used to work in the prison system, I have no doubt that our crime problem is really a problem with mental illness. Of course, no one wants to acknowledge that; mental illness, after all, is complicated, and conventional morality isn’t. What our society also doesn't want to acknowledge is how well criminals represent mainstream values. You won't find a more religious or more materialistic population than you do in prisons. In many ways, criminals behave exactly the way our culture expects them to--insanely and abusively. In other words, they act just like governments do.

21/1/06 22:26  
Blogger edjog said...

Hey, shane, glad to see you back! What browser are you using? So i can put a warning up somewhere. I can only imagine that the comments link wouldn't work because it is a Popup. I've seen this before, with MS Internet Excrementer, even though the setting was to allow Popups, it didn't allow one i'd made to auto-popup. I don't want to change my Blogger settings because it's more convenient this way.

Yeah re: "conventional morality"
I'm trying to suggest, without beating anyone over the head with it, that there is little or no such thing; that the bulk of us are unwell and thus able to contemplate harming another with curtailed empathy; we are amoral.

You're right about crime reflecting the root values of society, i think. It's a more direct application of them: might is right; self-esteem is material possessions; power is dominance.

I'll tell you about something that surprised me into a wry smile last week: i was with a group of recovering addicts, who had all been criminals and many of whom are as intelligent as anybody else, when i told the old joke,

"Why do anarchists drink herbal tea?
Because proper tea (property) is theft!"

Stoney silence reigned. Even after i'd explained it, there was still little understanding. I had to launch into a virtual manifesto before i could get them to realise that there are other models for considering the right to use objects.

This is what we're up against though, in so many areas: ignorance and outdated custom based on perversion of religion. At the same time ironic and fist clenchingly frustrating, is when i hear people quoting, "Vengeance is mine", whether they add the "sayeth the Lord" or not, as if the meaning of the passage were that revenge seeking were right; when it is clearly meant to warn the opposite and what's more, to fundamentalists, by seeking to usurp the province of "the Lord", it is also blasphemous.

22/1/06 04:52  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

shane, get firefox already!

i may have much more to contribute to this point later...i have a very good friend who is helping me in my recovery, said friend runs a prison ministry for those god-forsaken men that have been locked away in a cage and tells me many horrible stories of institutionalization and brutalization beyond the tabloid prison rape stories...imagine being in that cage and not having a single visitor for 13 years and discovering upon having your first visit from the world outside that you (the prisoner) must sit in the red chair while your visitor must sit in the grey chair!!!

22/1/06 13:57  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

gawd, this is such a scary topic, all i can think of is this poor bloke and what was done to his head (in a fictional manner)

22/1/06 14:52  
Blogger edjog said...

I'll not go on, but in the UK at least, prison rape is very uncommon. I'd suspect it's not that dissimilar in the US. It's just too easy to really mess somebody up in a jail. If you're interested in more on this subject, i get into it on the original thread in the forum @BetterHumans where this post comes from. It's the casual but often horrendous violence and the threat of it from almost any direction that brutalises a man in jail. It does your fucking head in.

I get into this @ The Social Affairs Unit blog also. In fairness, they're a bit of a bunch of wingnuts themselves, but not as bad as many. It seems worth plonking an idea or 2 on there from time to time, but TBH, i just can't be arsed to take issue with everything they post, which i almost certainly would, given how self-congratulatory, middle-class (and i use this in terms of the value structure they are seeking to impose upon themselves, rather than any "class-consciousness" type sense, which i think is a little unhelpful these days, as a concept) and conservative it is.

Mate, the colour of chairs is the least of it, try being manacled to 2 screws (that'd be 'bulls'), 1 of whom has a leashed attack dog, just to be taken to the exercise yard on your own, surrounded by a massive fence with razor wire on top and a wall beyond that. Who did they think i was: fucking Spiderman?

Thanx for the compliment.

22/1/06 16:41  
Blogger shane said...

Hey edjog, (my browser is Netscape, btw; you'd think that wouldn't be a problem, but...).
You said:
It's a more direct application of them {mainstream values}: might is right; self-esteem is material possessions; power is dominance.

That's well put. Precisely.

The "stony silence" your joke was greeted with doesn't surprise me. I remember giving an essay assignment in my prison class. I asked the students to respond to the quote: "if voting could really make a difference, it wouldn't be legal." Only one of the 23 students understood what was being implied, and he was outraged. These students weren't dummies, either. Some of them scored through the roof on the practice SATs (US college entrance exams) we gave them--doing better than their teacher had, in fact.
I also remember the nearly unanimous approval they expressed for a proposed law to post the 10 commandments in every school classroom.
I mention this, of course, not to browbeat the underclass, but to show the effects our culture has on those most vulnerable to its influences.
On that issue, have you read RD Laing's stuff? Great analysis there of our culture's alienating, anti-empathy, schizophrenic-enducing customs.

22/1/06 17:47  
Blogger shane said...

PS: Firefox? If it's free, I'll get it.

22/1/06 17:49  
Blogger edjog said...

It's free and excellent. There's a link to it by the search fields and radio thingyo at the top of DLA. More about firefox in the comments here.

Laing wrote "The Divided Self" yeah? Read that a long time back and now thinking about it, i realise i was also reading a lot of Colin Wilson novels around then and some french stuff, Camus et al: i'm not that clear on what was fiction/psychology/psychiatry/existentialism! Can you recommend anything?

But yeah, his ideas get a mention in gestalt therapy groups. He was a pioneer of that type of setting, eh? Engaging with the patient's symbolism however deluded. I always thought it significant that the bulk of pschiatric efforts have no discernable effect on a statistical analysis of recovery or rates of recovery, which would tend to lend veracity to the idea that psychosis is a temporary condition of conflict which will heal itself, given space to do so. However, gestalt therapy concept houses have significantly higher success rates than conventional psychiatry/drug therapy. So maybe just the process of valuing the patient's ramblings is enough to give that person space to feel safe, resolve their inner conflicts etc.

I dunno, i've been diagnosed with all sorts of bollocks at one time or another: the truth is i was just very unhappy and mashed on drugs so had little or no inhibition in talking the weirdest kinds of arse, stream of consciousness stylee. Although, TBF, i did have a spell where i thought i could control the weather just by thinking about it! Hey, what can you do? I was taking enough speed in a day to make a lot of people very ill and rarely sleeping more often than once every 10 days. Good solid heroin habit on top soon sorted that caper out!

I'm not surprised some of your class did well in SAT's. It takes considerable intelligence to set oneself against society and get away with it for any length of time, courage too. Of course, what we're on about here is 'low-cunning' and 'bravado' to "conventional moralists". History has proved though that whilst you can keep a good man down: not if there's a whole bunch of 'em you can't!

re: voting
PAH! Using the exact same tools and with the exact same purpose as consumerism: the new opium of the masses. At least the opium of the poppy works! For a while anyway. more.
Then again though, it's the only way of keeping even a semblance of honesty in our rulers, so we've got to do it, i reckon.

22/1/06 18:51  
Anonymous maineiac said...

edjog, i have cut and printed this entire post to show to my prison ministry friend, including your "posted by edjog" to give credit where it is due...

22/1/06 22:31  
Blogger shane said...

His (Laing's) "Politics of Experience" is pretty good. To me, the psychiatric methods he pioneered are less interesting than the critique he offers of psychology in general. I know he's sometimes referred to as an anti-psychologist. I also liked "The self and the Other"--but that rehashes a lot of the same things as "The Divided Self".

Sleeping once every ten days? Damn!!!

22/1/06 23:40  
Blogger edjog said...

Hey maineiac, go right ahead. TBH, i'm still struggling with my emotional well being and one of the things that keeps me engaged with life is the thought that if anyone can get some use out of what was for me very painful experience, it'll not have been all in vain [oh hahaha!].

At the time shane, that was average. There were plenty of longer stretches, although with those i'd occasionally black out for 30mins or so. There was an awful lot of stuff going on which needed personal supervision 24/7 and difficulties with a few people which required me to be very vigilant regarding my personal safety. It didn't seem that mad at first, it was nearly a year before it started taking a toll on my abilities in doing what was necessary. Still, a lot of people around me had some very negative consequences visited upon them, especially those who tried to do the same.

I've led a charmed life. Of course, it did all go wrong in the end. Well, it was wrong to begin with, but what i mean is it stopped working for me. The stress, guilt and loneliness of emotional isolation became more than the drugs could take away. It was like the end of "Bad Lieutenant" with Harvey Keitel. I was on a self destruct course, but no: saved again!

I'll add "Politics of Experience" to the never ending quest for the fabulous and mythical 'Round Tuit'.

23/1/06 08:09  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

edjog, what's all this about emotional well-being, then?? are you well?? ask for what you need, mate, you shall have it....

23/1/06 13:26  
Blogger edjog said...

Yeah, mate. Only 7.5 months back off a 2 year relapse me. Well shakey ground. Got a sponsor though, do meetings regularly and service, working the steps (slowly). It's all good, but there's dark times, as i'm sure you know yourself. Xmas was hard, not as bad as some have been but still difficult. Plus, i've got a lot of shame about opportunities which i worked hard to achieve for 5 years in recovery prior and threw away. It's easy enough to platitude myself with "oh, they'll come again" but the truth is they won't. I've blown it in certain areas. But there'll be others, new ones. It seems easier to just give up sometimes, difficult to focus on my successes rather than failures. Not that i will give up mind. Even if i wasn't getting it all back together, stubbornness saved my life more than once...

23/1/06 14:22  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

hey, bud, i understand REMORSE, the fear of that horrible feeling is what is carrying me now...my last bout was a double hit over Xmas which really put the fear into me...you might call it the initial "hitting bottom" that souls like you and i need to get started...

Easy does it (to repeat a mantra)...don't need to be so hard on yourself, you are making those opportunities again and you are still young...

younger than me, at any rate...

stubbornness can be your ally, fear is currently mine....

23/1/06 15:55  
Blogger edjog said...

Yeah. After the initial buzz of living without the obsession to use had worn off, about 5 months out of treatment, it was fear that kept me clean: fear of the consequences should i go back to madness. Looking back, with what i know now, i'd have done more stepwork.

I'm procrastinating terribly with it now, but i am doing it. I was so enamoured of just getting a new lease of life that i couldn't see that i'd need more, an ongoing process of recovery, change, improvement. Now i believe the freedom we seek is in the steps. Everything else in the programme helps us and encourages us, but the steps are where it's at for getting more than we've dreamed of.

My sponsor's been a proper loon in his time as well and he also went back out there, but for 10 years! He's back and living well now. Recently had his contract at work not renewed, it's been difficult, but he's still strong and happy. He says it's in the steps. This time i haven't the arrogance not to listen.

Yeah, 'rock bottom'. There a lot talked about it. I think it depends on how much you can stand. I could cope with a lot more chaos than some, i had to be on the point of death before i'd give something else a go. I was such a fool. So much pointless suffering caused and experienced; i've nothing but respect for people who see the writing on the wall before they get so insane.

Still, there's something to be said for great suffering in terms of the compassion it engenders. Have you read shane's post "To Burn Or Not To Burn"? I've always had a soft spot for Buddhism, but then again, i've not read much actually. I suppose there's a bit of fear there that i'll realise it's rock on and have to give up sex as well!

23/1/06 18:32  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

initial buzz, yup, something i am aware will wear off with me, eventually...i hope i have enough of a social support structure to be there when i need them...no offense, i have many inspirations besides your fine example...

your sponsor may have something there "in the steps" which i will try to keep in mind...

rock botton and how much you can stand, exactly! "every man has his breaking point, you and i have them" to quote from that favorite film of ours...

oh, ho, ho, yes, i've seen shanes's post, have you seen my comment?

23/1/06 18:43  
Blogger edjog said...

Yeah, just went back. I'm suspicious of scientific convergance with Buddhism myself. I think science is an incomplete model, they're clutching at straws when it comes to the fundamental nature of matter or it's relationship with energy.

Science has nothing to say about spirit. I've direct personal experience of the existence of spirit. Not just while i was wasted either, stone cold sober too. I think there are more dimensions than we are generally aware of around us. I think that time isn't linear in objective reality either. In fact, i'm not convinced that there is any such thing as either.

23/1/06 19:55  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

hey, mate, sorry for the lack of communication tonight, i had work to do during the day and was getting ready to get into some intelligent discourse with my friends when i got home and then i had my own crisis with remorse about attracting and dealing with trolls, here and elsewhere...fortunately that support system i've been talking about kicked in and i was able to resolve my crisis while keeping my integrity...i know you can deal with the scum, but i'm kinda new at it...

24/1/06 05:58  
Blogger edjog said...

Trolls maineiac? Who's a troll? As for dealing with scum: well, i tend to think about the stuff i post, it's rarely hot air, so i have no problem debating an issue and years of insalubrious surroundings have left me with a nasty streak which seems effective when deployed against ad hominem attempts to derail any such debate.

Still, if you feel bad about something you did, it's better than being numb and thus leaving the possibility open that you might do it again, eh? At least, that's what i tell myself! I just had to eat some humble pie over @ ChickenYoghurt (i'll not link, it's in the blogroll if anyone wishes to witness my humiliation, under "Oaten").

"when we were wrong, promptly admitted it" ~ Step 10

Then again, i know i have a tendency to see serious faults where none exist or magnify the importance of those that are actually simple faux pas. I wouldn't want you to feel bad over anything you've said or done that has any impact on DLA, because even if you think you have, i haven't noticed it!

24/1/06 07:18  
Anonymous some_maineiac said...

no, edjog, it's not specifically trolls here, but elsewhere that got my goat...

yeah, you got it, #10 in the steps...after my social support kicked in last night via private e-mail (quite by chance), I started working out my feelings in a reply, but it didn't help, I just kept feeling worse amd worse and started to freak-out...bad waves of paranoia, fear and loathing...then I realized I had to go back, cop to my anonymous post and embellish the contents, which I still stand by unless shown to be wrong...#10 applies because I realized I could eat humble pie if I turned out to be wrong...and your last paragraph applies so well to me...

can we take discussion of these topics off the page at times? I don't know that I want to spill my guts all over your blog...and I need tips on security that I don't want the creeps in the world to know that I have...

24/1/06 14:02  
Blogger shane said...

Hey Edjog,
You wrote:
"I've always had a soft spot for Buddhism, but then again, i've not read much actually. I suppose there's a bit of fear there that i'll realise it's rock on and have to give up sex as well!"

Give up sex? Woooh! Now, I don't practice (Buddhism) that zealously, but I've never heard anything about giving up sex.
I know what you mean about science, though--as I pointed out in my comments.

Sorry to hear about your recent troubles some-maineiac. Hope you're doing better now.

24/1/06 18:15  
Blogger edjog said...

That's the thing with being clear headed and remorseful for one's faults, some_maineiac, eh? Just can't kid ourselves on that they're alright anymore. Still, i can promise that it gets easier. We just get into the habit of making less mistakes and realising that those we do make are no longer about to drive us back to our drug of choice, nor so terrible when compared to other things that we readily put up with from other people at times.

It gets easier to forgive yourself when you know that you've learned another little lesson, that you have the wherewithall to come good on the promise to try sincerely not to do it again that an apology implies.

You can email me through edjog_ATntlworldDOTcom (obviously replacing the TEXT with the customary symbols).

Free from desire shane, innit? Buddhist monks practice celebacy. Can't be free from the desire for sex if we keep reminding ourselves what it's like, eh? Still, i'm not sure i want that. For sure desire hurts: so? Everything changes. Only pain is constant. I think that's a Buddhist saying/lesson innit? I just try to accept it, try to learn from it. Learn more compassion.

Yeah, so i added more at yours about science et al. Anyone else interested: THE IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGY is an essay i wrote @uni.

25/1/06 00:46  
Blogger shane said...

I'm not really an authority on Buddhism, but I do know that in Zen, the form I sometimes practice, there isn't any such thing as celibacy. In fact, the Priest where I practice is married. "Freedom from desire" isn't really an accurate translation of the original phrase, either, though you hear that all the time. It's more like "freedom from clinging". I'm sure there are Buddhist sects that do emphasize the ascetic, though--and celibacy and all that goes with it.

27/1/06 00:56  
Blogger edjog said...

Yeah, that sounds more like my bag shane. "Clinging" sounds a lot like "overly dependent" which has been the source of many of my woes.

27/1/06 10:04  

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