Creuset of Ideas
A collection of various ideas

Archives of "Belief systems"


One day it’s gonna blow

2007-10-24 @ 10:37

I knew it! We’re living on a balloon!

via the observers hunch



2007-09-6 @ 11:00

It never struck me before, but there’s a big “full of yourself” side to some superstitions. Think about it: it basically amounts to saying that some small action of oneself will influence the universe. Not that I think that we’re not having an impact through all our actions, but there are limits. To take an absurd example, “step on a crack, break your mother’s back”: I am so powerful, I have such influence over matter, that doing this little thing will cause great misfortune to someone dear.

Of course, we all have idiosyncrasies; some people need to always go out the same door by which they entered a room, or need do always do specific things in a particular sequence. But that has more to do with rituals, and their various benefits, than some force over which we have a strange kind of control. Could superstition be some sort of over-compensation, like someone with low self-esteem feeling the need to project a successful persona? It would be an interesting compensation mechanism, seeing as the person both has power through their action, but is also prisoner of that power and its rules.


God complex

2007-07-6 @ 12:55

That was a strange place to have a revelation, but there you have it: it happened in a church. Although it would seem fitting that it was about God, it had more to do with logic than religion. My revelation, which I’m sure others had before me, was that God, if It exists, cannot be both perfect and interventionist. To be more accurate, we cannot have both an interventionist God and a perfect creation.

If creation is perfect, as some would have it, then there is no need for God o meddle with it, unless It’s bored and looking for something to do—but perfect beings don’t get bored. Then again, maybe his interventions are all part of the plan, which ipso facto makes Creation imperfect since it needs interventions.

I can only see three possibilities here (then again, not being perfect, my vision is limited – which is actually nice, since it gives me a good reason to wear kick-ass glasses):

  1. Creation is perfect and God doesn’t interfere
  2. Creation is imperfect and God has to tweak it from time to time
  3. God is part of creation and that’s why It intervenes.

The Evil of Pictionary

2007-06-1 @ 10:23

The other night, we were at a friend’s for a (nice) party and started playing Pictionary. We didn’t use the game, but came up, in two teams, with (sometimes wacky) words and expressions, then went at it. And how. I hadn’t played in a long while, but let me tell you, people get inflamed playing this game. And it’s not just competition.

Take, for example, the Simpsons episode where Milhouse’s parents (Kirk and Luann) split up:

Kirk: Ah, come on Luanne, you know what this is.
Luanne: Kirk, I don’t know what it is.
Kirk: [sighs] It could not be more simple, Luanne. You want me to show this to the cat, and have the cat tell you what it is? ‘Cause the cat’s going to get it.
Luanne: I’m sorry, I’m not as smart as you, Kirk. We didn’t all go to Gudger College.
[timer dings]
Kirk: It’s dignity! Gah! Don’t you even know dignity when you see it?
Luanne: Kirk, you’re spitting.
Kirk: Okay, genius, why don’t you draw dignity.
[she does so]
[everyone gasps in recognition — we can’t see it, however]
Dr. Hibbert: Worthy of Webster’s.

The thing is, Pictionary is one of those rare games where communication is the goal. And two of the thing that irks us most are: not being understood and not understanding. Especially when it comes to that special someone, who usually happens to be on the same team.

As in everyday life, we tend to express ourselves in a way that make sense, from our point of view. The same thing with Pictionary: we tend to draw things that we would understand. And to see the drawing, of course, from our perspective. It takes a conscious effort to work from the other’s point of view. And we tend to think that, if we have a special bond with someone, they’ll share our perspective, at least more than most, and understand us readily. The opposite of which, at least for trivial matters, comes to light through exercises like Pictionary.

And in couples, a lot of the problems have to do with communication, or lack thereof more precisely. Not that all problems are based on a lack of communication, but communication plays an important role in making things better or worst – usually the latter.

Add competition, maybe a bit of alcohol, and the lack of expressive restraint that trivial matters tend to give us, and you have an explosive cocktail.

Fortunately, no one was hurt at that party, although we did discover that one of us was psychic (how do you guess “crack whore” from “woman with penis”?).



2007-05-15 @ 19:55

A few years (actually, a few lustra) back, a fellow student, who happened to be researching native Quebec languages, was commenting how we Quebecois tend to define ourselves negatively. Not in a sense that we have a bad image of ourselves, but that our identity is made up of nots: we’re not Anglos, we’re not Americans, not Canadians, not Frenchmen, not Natives. Although I think we do have a “positive” identity, there seems to be a once of truth to his statement.

I’ve got this coworker who recently moved from Kitchener, Ontario (which we call, around here, moving up); she’s having a hard time seeing that Quebecois are not like Ontarians. In her mind, we’re all the same: we want to be happy, have a family, a good job, etc. She was quite surprised when I explained how Isabelle, when she went to live in Saskatchewan, had a bigger cultural shock than when she lived in Cameroon. She’s also surprised that a lot of people here can often tell a Frenchy from an Anglo a mile away. I work for a company owned by an Ontario one, and we often have to explain to them that what works there (especially in marketing), doesn’t necessarily work here, which any country-wide ad agency will tell you.

Then it hit me: it has to do with how we construct our identity. I may be wrong, but I get the distinct impression that Ontarians (and maybe other Canadians) tend to see the similarities first and foremost, at least within Canada. Whereas we here tend to focus on the differences; the similarities are not important: in our mind, it’s what makes us different that counts (again, at least between Anglos and Frenchies).



2007-03-29 @ 9:15

Via indexed



2007-01-17 @ 17:19

I know, it’s a pointless discussion topic, but I gotta vent. I’m talking about the banana. Well, not that actually, but the question of subsidizing art, and, more broadly, art’s place in society (which was the topic of a French post, a year and a half ago).

It all started with $64,000 given for a banana in the Texas sky, but went well beyond the value of that particular piece. I was talking with two colleagues and they didn’t approve.

Geosychronous banana

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In Doubt

2006-11-7 @ 8:31

David Byrne recently had some interesting thing to say about belief and denial.

I would maintain that a healthy (i.e. substantial) amount of denial is therefore genetically heritable, that it allows us to blithely go on (despite reading Beckett) and to ignore the basic sadness and desperation of life. We can live in an illusion — in fact we are genetically predisposed to do so. These illusions can be small — I am just as good at catching game as Bob, my rival, for example — or they can be very large — that death is not the end and that I will be rewarded for my faith and Bob, the apostate, will rot in Hell.

Either way, they allow me to go on, to persevere in the face of unlikely odds or limited chance of success. We have evolved to be less rational that one might think, and to be slightly more delusional and even stupid. (Happy Idiots)

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