Life And Other Errors: Complex Are Just The Others

Life And Other Errors: Complex Are Just The Others

We are looking for monocausal, linear relationships in a dynamic, multicausal, non-linear world. If we knock the ball with a certain force from the edge of the table, it will fall to the ground at a precisely calculable speed. From A follows B – quite naturally. Our brain loves such obvious relationships. They enable us to find our way through the world and understand what is happening around us.
If, on the other hand, we knock the same ball off the edge of the table and suddenly face the problem of picking up three bouncing balls from the floor, we will involuntarily wonder where the other two balls come from. Has anyone taken the liberty of joking with us and, unnoticed, thrown two more balls in between? Or was it a rare subspecies of the standard ball type that splits into several smaller balls on contact with the ground? From our limited perspective, the answer is very hard to come by – if at all.
That is, in a nutshell, the world we face every day. The two additional balls can symbolize any situation whose causes are not immediately apparent to us[1].
Note: In order not to be misunderstood at this point – of course in the vast majority of cases only a single ball will touch the ground when we knock down a single one. The analogy presented here is not to be understood as a rejection of classical physical interactions, but rather as a sharpening of awareness for the occurrence of unexpected events[2].
In our example, we naturally expect the combination of our push and the individual ball to cause exactly one ball to fall to the ground. The whole is therefore the sum of its parts.
The idea behind the terms multicausal and nonlinear deserves a closer look.
Multicausal means that a multitude of influences can lead to a specific result. So far, so simple. However, it is not unlikely that we cannot recognize some of these influences at all. This opacity, was described, for example, in 1850 by the French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat in his parable of the broken window as “That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen”[3]. Many of the things we do often have unintended side-effects, of which we are not always aware. Conversely, just as many variables influence our lives which we do not consciously perceive, but which are nevertheless present.
Non-linearity can also be described by the word emergence. Many will have heard of the statement “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” (and not only because I just described the antagonism). One ball suddenly turns into three and nobody really knows how that actually happened. Out of 100 billion neurons in the brain, fascinating structures such as consciousness, the recipe for pizza and depression, emerge. Nevertheless, we still don’t know exactly how consciousness is actually created – only that it exists as an emergent property of all combined neurons.
Our brain therefore does not understand itself and has to cope with a world that is just as poorly understood. Neolithic brains in a digital world. Well, if these are not ideal conditions for complete despair.
At this point, however, one should not lose heart and throw in the towel. As opaque, random and confusing as life may often seem, there are promising ideas that can help us manoeuvre through this maze. I will introduce some of them in detail on the following chapters. But it is possible that not everyone will find what they are looking for. That’s ok. This is the multivariability of life. I don’t claim to offer the solution to the most pressing questions of humanity, but I do offer some inspirational approaches to overcoming the challenges of everyday life.
Speaking of life: I would like to begin by sharpening your awareness of a trivial but at the same time enormously significant relationship. Life is complexity.
It is very easy to declare this statement obvious and without further thought, to put it aside. Of course, each of us knows that life is a string of innumerable facets and that we are never aware of all influences. But do we really know that?
To be able to grasp this fact rationally on the one hand and to act on it at the same time is not automatically identical. Imagine eating in a restaurant and being treated very unfriendly by the waitress. What thoughts go through your mind? Is this person just an unpleasant fellow? An asshole? She can certainly forget the tip. Such thoughts are intuitive, often we don’t think long about why a person behaves in a certain way, especially when we are negatively affected. The reasons for this can be exceptionally diverse. Let us remember Bastiat’s “That Which Is Not Seen”. Perhaps the work of the waitress was preceded by an argument with a colleague or a partner and she was not yet able to deal with it emotionally in an appropriate way. Maybe another guest behaved in an invasive way because he misunderstood her professional hospitality as affection and now she expects a similar treatment if she appears friendly again.
As a matter of fact: we don’t know. It is always only a small excerpt from the lives of others that we perceive and most of the causes of their behaviour are hidden.
But it is not only in relation to strangers that this happens to us, we ourselves also face the daily challenge of mastering our lives on the basis of imperfect information. This statement may also appear very trivial at first glance, but our brain is a true magician when it comes to convincing us that we have more knowledge and therefore more control than we actually possess.
This is also to a large extent the reason for the attractiveness of the utopian promises of various ideologies of salvation or political theories. They wrap a complex world in handy, beautifully labeled boxes and provide exactly the answers we so long for. Knowing what is good or bad creates security and structure.
If we were more aware of the manifold ways and abbreviations the human mind takes to have as little effort as possible and to continuously surrender ourselves to the illusion of understanding the world, things might have been different in the history of humanity. Had. Perhaps. Possibly. The thinking in conjunctives is extremely luring for those who are not completely satisfied with their current life situation. But who is?
The human mind is driven by the need to recognize meaning in one’s own and others’ actions. We can hardly bear to find ourselves in situations whose causes are not apparent to us. Our mind searches for linear relationships in a complex, non-linear world. No wonder that so many regularly despair over it.
How do we find the balance between aspiration and reality?


Footnotes

[1] Boeing, G. (2016). “Visual Analysis of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems: Chaos, Fractals, Self-Similarity and the Limits of Prediction”. Systems. 4 (4): 37.

[2] Technically speaking, this example is somewhat shortened anyway, because it assumes linear proportionality. A change in the impact force causes a proportional change in the speed at which it moves towards the ground. However, not every linear change is necessarily proportional, even if every proportionality also implies linearity. However, this should not be a hindrance for the fundamental understanding.

[3] Bastiat, Frédéric (1850). That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen

Infinity of Nothing

Infinity of Nothing

09.05.2019

Once again today was unproductive as fuck. Basically I spent the whole day just playing Dota and watching series. Well, at least there was enough motivation for exercise in between, but apart from that it looked rather mediocre. This whole clinic story is probably not a bad idea. Now it just has to happen somehow. That is: wait and drink tea. Literally. It’s so weird, people keep telling me how intelligent I am and what mental abilities I possess. But somehow I regularly fail to use these ominous skills for my own good. But as soon as it comes down to feeling like shit, hurting myself, driving my life up against the wall – oh, boy, I develop unprecedented powers. I often have the feeling that everything seems to pass by. My life, that of others and chaos everywhere. I am drifting completely disoriented across an ocean of nothing in the midst of infinity. What a beautiful, completely meaningless statement. Like, what the fuck? A statement that could hardly be more meaningless and trivial. Instagram phrase. Once again. I’ll bet, if I post this in a modified form on Facebook, that some people find it insanely intellectual and like it? Oh, that sounds super deep and profound. It’s really awesome and stuff. Gah. People are so horrible. And I curse myself for despising most of them so often. I know I shouldn’t do that. I know that it is not socially acceptable, but heavens. Narrow-minded people, who nevertheless somehow get their lives together. Or maybe just because of that. Is that the sheer envy speaking through me? Probably. It’s not as if I don’t recognize it and have a lack of self-reflection. All I lack is the ability to draw the right conclusions. Merely. Good joke. As if it were nothing. But it is everything. Disoriented across an ocean of nothing in the midst of infinity. Perhaps not so meaningless after all. Cosmically speaking, our life is completely meaningless and purposeless. Beyond our very manageable sphere of social interaction, no one cares what happens to us. Maybe it’s better that way, too. My life would be just a tragedy in three acts anyway. Why do I have the feeling that I am in the last one? You do matter. I read it in the description of the YouTube video which I’ m listening to. Hm. Probably. Somehow. Jonathan also told me that on the phone yesterday. And Maya, when I wrote her. Nora as well. And, oh, too many others. Isn’t it unfair that we can’t end our lives because too many people are attached to it and we have a certain responsibility towards them? When I think about how difficult it is for Alicia at the moment and I would then decide to put an end to all this misery, how could I ever justify this to myself? If she gets the news of my death, it might drag her even deeper into the abyss than all that other shit. I couldn’t possibly do that to her. She means far too much to me. Nora and Maya too. I live because other people want to see me live. But do I want to see myself alive? I don’t know. Sometimes I am afraid of dying. But most days I simply don’t care. I keep wishing that something would happen that I cannot control, so that I can just sit back and relax and say: That’s it. I’m done. There is something very appealing about this idea. But of course that won’t happen. Despite everything, I still live a comparatively healthy life. Damn ego. Oh, I don’t know where all this stuff eventually leads. I wish I had answers, but I’ve been searching for them my whole life without success. I would like to help other people, but how can I do that if I cannot even help myself and wander around completely confused? Completely disoriented across an ocean of nothing in the midst of infinity. Tush. Exit. The curtain falls.

Split

Split

08.05.2019

I must confess, I’m quite a bit proud of myself. After I had drunk too much yesterday without any reason and was again tempted today to prepare some delicious mixed drinks, I did not succumb to it and remained alcohol-free. That’s in consideration of the fact that I neither exercised nor was productive in any other way today and also suffer from a certain sleep deficit, which in turn leads to less self-control, not such a bad yield of the day. Furthermore, I saw Endgame in the cinema for the second time. Conclusion: Yup, still a damn good film. In addition, I took another step towards normalizing my social behavior by asking Natalia whether we finally wanted to meet in person. She seems to be a very reasonable, consistent person with clear ideas about life. Almost the exact opposite of my own broken personality. What could possibly go wrong? Probably everything. Which, considering my background of experience, wouldn’t be so far off, of course, but in the end there are hardly any other options left to me than to try again. Which, of course, immediately raises the question of how I should talk to her about my whole self-drama. In my recent messages I have tried to at least let a hint of it echo, but the actual dimensions of the rat’s tail of my psyche can only be guessed based on them. On the other hand, waiting too long would be counterproductive and unfair. From this point of view, this could even lead to somewhat absurd and amusing situations: And how did you get to know each other? Oh, as usual during online dating and on the first date, I explained that I’ve been fighting with borderline for years, regularly injuring myself, conducting a dysfunctional relationship life and in general I’m the most unsuitable person for something like a life together. So the usual stuff. But I could also show her these lines here. Then I could save myself the many words and would have settled the most difficult part. Natalia, if you ever read this and I was crazy enough to let you share these thoughts: If you still want to spend time with me somehow, I would feel incredibly honored. Not only because I’m incredibly picky and think one could have a pretty good time with you, but also because very few neurotypical people get along with people like me. Well, who can blame them? After all I’ve been through in the last few years, it’s hardly surprising. But it gets better. Let’s see what my condition looks like after my stay at the clinic. Maybe after that, completely new options will open up again. At least it’s a realistic start, I think. My thoughts are jumping again. Should she actually read this here or only this short section above? That could possibly lead to more questions and confusion. Oh, it’s a misery. Social interactions are often so terribly complicated. In addition there is this whole poly story. How do I explain this? Not only borderliner, but also poly? Oh, boy. Experience has shown that this is not a good combination. Whereby, the last time was the story between Annabelle and I. From the beginning it wasn’t headed in a good direction anyway. Combine two unstable borderliners and you have – bingo, a huge, emotional drama that will fuck up at least one side properly. Unfortunately it was, once again, not mine. I should never have gotten involved. She did what I’ve been trying in vain for years: building something like a normal life. When someone like me steps into her life, it naturally causes quite a bit of upheaval. All the signs from the beginning indicated that it’s not a damn good idea if we both get involved and yet we did. Does she still think about it? We haven’t exchanged a single word in months, but hardly a day goes by without me thinking about it. But why? I feel nothing for her. No matter how hard I try, there is nothing left. Then why can’t I stop thinking about it? Is it self-pity? Am I looking for justification? Salvation? Catharsis is nonsense, so certainly not after that. But then what is it? Do I want everything to be as it once was? I with a healthy, emotional distance and she also not too close to me? I don’t know. It’s all so complicated. I do not understand my thinking and feelings at all. Once again. I have no idea how to classify and evaluate everything. Sometimes I feel as if I possess the emotional processing capacities of a five-year-old who is simply overwhelmed with himself and the world. Great prospect. Yippieayeh.