June 2nd, 2005


Life Update, Further Thoughts on Emotion and Rationality, and a Big "Bah Humbug" for Love

So, sleep seems to have returned, to some extent. Today (well, technically yesterday) I found out that I have a LOT more money than I thought I did. It's not quite an order of magnitude more, but it's close. So now I'm seriously considering going back to school and getting a science/technical writing certificate. Maybe if I don't get the job at Blockbuster.

I was considering going to Writer's Weekend, which is a small convention in Seattle for genre fiction writers. They pay about 50 agents, editors, and well-known writers (I know they've had Larry Niven 3 or 4 times) to come, and then about another 100 young writers buy tickets. I just made up my mind to go today, even booked a hotel -- then I found out they were sold out as of May 27. Good thing I didn't buy a plane ticket. I'm somewhat disappointed, but I'll try again next year.

I refined my thoughts on emotion, reason, and rules to live by a little. The problem is that I was using one word, "emotion", to refer to two different things. Both are emotional in nature, but I think my discussion would be clarified by taking care to distinguish between personality and feelings.

Personality is a set of preferences that remains fairly stable over a person's lifetime. It can be changed, but only slowly or traumatically, and some aspects of it will resist any change (short of brain damage). In modern pop psych, the aspects of personality, as I'm using the term, are often called being [blank]-oriented. By and large, personality is internal, part of one's self.

Feelings, by contrast, are ephemeral and unstable. They can be held fixed, but only with difficulty, and are virtually guaranteed to change given sufficient time. All of the best-known emotions, like anger, happiness, sadness, and love, fall into this category. Feelings are reactive, and arise in response to external events.

The idea is, based on one's own personality, to imagine an ideal life. Then, reason is used to construct a path to that life from one's current position. The goal at this stage is to find ways to channel any passing feeling into the necessary energy to accomplish tasks that appear to lead to that ideal life, while preventing one's feelings from leading one away from that ideal life.

I'd also like to comment on the inclusion of love in the list of ephemeral emotions. There is an enormous amount of nonsense suffusing our culture about "unconditional love," but the whole idea is bunk. It doesn't matter how much you think you love someone, what you really love is your mental image of them, which is guaranteed to be incomplete and inaccurate. If something happens which requires you to refine your model, it is entirely possible that the new model will be less to your liking.
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