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  • mono 9:57 am on March 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Happiness, , , , Thought   

    Contemplating the “Indirect Path” (Execupundit) 


    Michael Wade over at Execupundit recently posted two provocative questions under the title, “Indirect Path.” His two questions are as follows, “Is happiness something that is captured or achieved?” and “Or is it more likely that happiness will climb our steps when we are not in active pursuit?”

    What I would like to do here is to simply open up these questions and in doing so hopefully give readers of this blog and his, some food for thought in the contemplation of these matters.

    First, if happiness is something that is “captured,” from where do we capture it? How does one “find” it? Could it even be possible that happiness exists apart from our attitudes toward what we do and how we experience life? Or, does one, as Herzog might say, “wrestle it from the Devil’s hands?” If happiness is achieved, then what does that tell us about such things as perseverance, effort, accountability and responsibility? Could it be that the pursuit of these leads one to a “happier” life because they align one with one’s purpose? How caught up are happiness and purpose?

    And, to address Wade’s second question, does the direct contemplation of happiness somehow eliminate its manifestation? Any student of David K. Reynolds’ “Constructive Living” should be familiar with the adage that one cannot will oneself to be happy. Or, is it that happiness is a performable feeling that one can actually will into existence by the performance of that feeling? Also, does the direct desire to be “happy” have any meaning whatsoever? Is there a state of happiness apart from one’s own unique life circumstance in which that term “happiness” takes on whatever relevance it may have to that person in that circumstance? How has your understanding of happiness changed over the years? Is it the happiness that changed or your own changes in how you interpret things?

    Additionally, how is happiness discussed through mediums such as television, radio, film, books and the Internet? Which medium would be most useful a platform for learning more about what happiness could be and how it manifests itself in our lives? Which “stories” that you may live by most influence your understanding of happiness? Does it matter which story we use as long as it “works” for us?

    Somehow, for me, in the thinking of these questions, some kind of internal calm overcomes me and I daresay I feel…happiness? I’m not sure. Perhaps this tells us something. But what? Is it that the right questions somehow guide us closer to a more lucid understanding? But without a purpose in mind how do we know what to ask? Why is happiness so sought after?

  • mono 3:32 pm on August 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , C.S. Lewis, , , , , , , , , , Thought, ,   

    Mute Presence: A look at an aphorism by E.M. Cioran 

    Here is a fifteen minute video that I shot on Vimeo. Recently, I have been using Vimeo as an educational platform and a way to share my thoughts. This video opens up an aphorism by E.M. Cioran and brings in some other thinkers, as well. Is it perfect? No, but it was the best I could do at the time. I hope you can pull something useful out of it. Please ask questions.

  • mono 8:39 pm on October 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Action, , , , , , , Moment, , , Project, Thought   

    Three Stabs at Lifemaking 

    1. In certain moments, too much self-talk hinders doing what needs to be done. You need to discern those moments for yourself for no one else can do it for you. Also, organizing projects and then failing to start them gets you nowhere, unless that is where you want to be – Nowhere and with no “real” change.

    2. Some moments are ripe for thinking or for watching a film, but some moments call you to become more than you currently are through action. How much effort do you put into what or how you do things or in what or how you think about things? It is easy to get caught up in the mundane, but it might not lead you where you want to go.

    3. If you want fresh results, change what you do or change how you do it. How much effort is put into doing what is necessary? Sometimes wavering happens, but sometimes the wavering becomes an excuse for not doing what needs doing.

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  • mono 6:48 pm on May 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aleister Crowley, Book of Lies, , , , Earth, , Improvisation, , , Noise Music, The Trouble with Being Born, Thought, Total Immersion   

    Cioran + Morita + Crowley 

    I found this aphorism by E.M. Cioran and would like to share it with you. It is from his book “The Trouble with Being Born”:

    “To think is to undermine-to undermine oneself. Action involves fewer risks, for it fills the interval between things and ourselves, whereas reflection dangerously widens it.
    …So long as I give myself up to physical exercise, manual labor, I am happy, fulfilled; once I stop, I am seized by dizziness, and I can think of nothing but giving up for good (192).”

    A Moritist Connection

    Surprisingly, we can see a similar line of thought in Morita therapy, which is the call to action, the way of thinking that by blending oneself with one’s actions, the pain and the hurt that one is feeling may temporarily pass, dissolve. I find it odd how difficult it can be sometimes to simply hang up the laundry when it is finished washing. I have been known to re-wash clothes that I simply neglected by leaving them. It is an odd combination of feeling relaxed by the sound of the washing machine and failing to do what needs to be done. How often do we talk ourselves into convenient excuses for failing to live up to our potential. And yet…


    This aphorism leaves me with questions. Is Cioran suggesting that reflection is not a beneficial exercise to self-development? Perhaps he is leading us down the path of someone suffering from an extreme form of unhappiness. The last fragment “and I can think of nothing but giving up for good.” leaves us wondering about the stream of our thoughts and how overwhelming it can be if we let it run its meandering course without recourse to action.


    I have been known to play music and have worked a lot in the style that could be called “noise.” In noise performance and improvisation, I have given myself over to the moment of the action and eradicated the conscious thought process as to what I should do next. Usually, operating through this form of performance, I listen to the recording afterward and am quite pleased with the results. I think that many people who create, whether it be music, fiction, film, art, etc. can relate to this sensation of self-forgetting and total-immersion. In fact, even working a day job can be artfully acted out through total-immersion in the task at hand.

    Perhaps Cioran is calling us to approach that Blank state of minding the world, that Nothingness that rejoins us to the Earth and to the higher levels of existence simultaneously, that state that fills one’s very being when melded to action: the action of doing or non-doing.

    A Crowleyan Connection

    Although I focused on Cioran in this short piece, I would like to end with a quotation from Aleister Crowley‘s “The Book of Lies”, which proves relevant in this context. I have often returned to this passage and have passed it along to friends in need of consolation or encouragement. I hope you find it beneficial to your life situation as well:

    “Practice a thousand times, and it becomes difficult; a thousand thousand, and it becomes easy; a thousand thousand times a thousand thousand, and it is no longer Thou that doeth it, but It that doeth itself through thee. Not until then is that which is done well done. Thus spoke FRATER PERDURABO as he leapt from rock to rock of the moraine without ever casting his eyes upon the ground (74).”

    • Jeff Jefferson 12:46 pm on May 27, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you for the excellent post here, Jamie. Very inspiring to see that interpretation of that particular Cioran aphorism which is similar to my own, as well as these other ways you’ve driven that interpretation through others’ ideas. It inspired a lot of thought for me; my full reply is over at my blog:


      I certainly relate to the idea of “Total-Immersion” that you mention here. It’s something that I strive for in my writing; when I find that kind of immersion in my writing I become delirious with happiness as I pour myself into my work. I love thinking about how other people see me at the coffee shop when I’m that entranced.

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