PolyDad (polydad) wrote,

Response to Blackmonkeymage

blackmonkeymage posted the bits I've excerpted below in his own journal, and my response got too big, so I'm posting it here:

It's important to have emotional energy at all times, because otherwise you "fall off the map"--you don't have the activation energy needed to interact with the rest of the human world.

There are a few points that got folded into this. Emotional energy and activation energy are both good concepts, and do both apply to each other. I'd originally used the example that it takes a fair amount of money and organization to deal with a lawsuit in the current culture, and one of the primary tactics legal beagles use against each other is to try to push each other below the activation threshhold of having enough resources to pursue the suit. (This only applies at the lower levels of society; at the upper levels, there are enough resources lying around to support multiple levels of lawyers.)

Although expressions of emotions are not emotions in and of themselves...

You're verging perilously close to solipsism, here. True, your brain exists entirely inside your head. But the universe you perceive is *outside* your head. Maintaining your connection to the Outside is almost the definition of keeping your sanity.

....they do tend to provoke emotion in people who observe them. Thus, as a simple and easy way of generating emotional energy, one may create a feedback loop by exchanging expressions of an emotion with another person.

Well done. A good emotional relationship with another person is one which acts as a positive-feedback loop, generating more emotional energy for both parties.

Getting this to actually work may be very complicated and involve careful crafting of those expressions, which to my mind increases its status as an art.

I'm glad you value it. It is, indeed, art. In this sense, Life is Art.

I seem to recall us grounding ourselves in three basic concepts before going over all this: One, the "threshold," that arbitrary point which you must pass to be considered part of a system (often, a popular worldview); two, "materiality," the difference between something that matters and something that doesn't (yes, this can be considered a subset of the previous); and I'm not sure dad actually went into what the third one was, but I distinctly recall the number three being tossed out.

I was trying to *limit* myself to three, because of my own tendency to try to bring the whole universe into any random biscuit recipe. I *think* the third was the concept of multiple points of view, that being an individual doesn't make you any less a member of any society to which you happen to belong, and being a member of society doesn't make you any less an individual. Group theory applies to humans; the same human can be in any number of groups, that overlap at least to the extent they contain the same humans.

My way of dealing with emotional expression is about as fsck'd up as my way of dealing with spoken language, ie: "Express what is relevant to what you are trying to do; avoid expression otherwise; don't express anything you don't mean."

Well expressed. I disagree, however. Your way of dealing is
a good expression of one particular method; I just think you'd be better served developing several different methods and then applying whichever conceptual tool is most useful to you.

The approach you describe above is very efficient in a low-noise environment. Most of the time, however, we are constrained to exist in high-noise environments, and the method you describe above doesn't work well there. I believe I'd contrasted the Hare Krishnas with Zen monks as an example of this. We're short on deserted mountaintops to meditate upon.

And I also don't really grok the idea of expressing one emotion in order to receive another, like getting sympathy in response to pain.

I suggest you learn. It's a very useful concept, and one on which a lot of human emotional interaction is based.

I normally dismiss sympathy as fake empathy

This is another thing I suggest you put work into learning to grow past. It's more general; your most common reaction to most things is to dismiss it unless it's in the area you're currently concentrating on.

We'd discussed this in relation to school, earlier; the idea of School as Hardware Store, where you can stock up on tools that might conceivably be useful to you at some point in your later life. If you only accept the tools you have immediate need for *now*, you miss out on a lot of bargains that'd've been very useful to you later on.

Overall, a good and useful writeup, that provides a number of incitements for continued future discussion, which is exactly what I wanted it for. Analog pays a nickel a word; I can't see giving you less for output of this quality.


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