Monday, September 4, 2017

Internal and external government

It is easy to acquire books and audiobooks without getting around to reading and listening to them.  I got The Republic of Spin in April of '16 and I am just now getting up to the middle of the book.  I am listening to the audio version and I only listen when I am driving.  When I am not driving, I don't enjoy sitting and listening but in the car, I do just fine.

I enjoy my mind and I enjoy thinking about minds, conscious minds.  I had David Eagleman in the back of my mind for a year or so.  He seemed like he might be a good source for better understanding what minds are and how they work.  I am reading "Incognito" by Eagleman, a neuroscientist among other things and it is terrific.

You might not give even half a hoot about what I am reading or listening to.  I just mention the two works because I think getting into the two of them at the same time has special effects.

A good portion of my friends were quite unhappy with our recent presidential election and I am constantly hearing expressions of outrage and fear for the future of our country.  So, hearing the expressions of outrage and worry about the behavior of politicians and political parties in the years from 1897 to 1920 has both relevance and comforting power that stunts and dirty tricks and bad manners have been around for a long time.  They may even be the best that people can manage at times.

What has really struck me is Eagleman's comparisons between what our conscious minds do all day every day and what politicians and the government do.  He shows that our conscious minds are a small part of our brains and the only parts we have much access to, or awareness of.  He explores cases where people are blind but assure everyone, wrongly, that they aren't. Reminds me of situations where a hypnotist tells a person under hypnosis that when they hear a whistle, they should get up and open a window.  After the trance is broken, a whistle sounds and the person goes over to the window and opens it.  When asked why he did that, he explains that he was getting hot.

Wars, complex events and diplomatic maneuvers can unfold in confusing and misleading spurts and jerks.  Like the patient and his window, the government, the leadership may offer a narrative that tries to make sense of events and keep the nation focused on its goals.  Whether you are shaping a narrative for a country or an organization, or your conscious mind is giving you an impression of what's happening inside your complicated body and brain, you have to summarize and condense.  Your opposition and rivals will always have some footholds and alternative versions, along with some criticisms of what you have said, the way you have worded your message, and what you have omitted.

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