Whit's End
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
In my post below, I mentioned that deluding yourself is not always a bad thing. Case in point, I watched the movie Seabiscuit, yesterday, and one of the memorable lines to me was when the owner Mr. Howard said, "Sometimes, when the little guy, he doesn't know he's a little guy, he can do great big things." Of course, he was talking about the smaller horse Seabiscuit who had won races against larger horses. Is this an example of self delusion?

Delusion is a negative word; it implies a false belief. Some people hold beliefs that can be self destructive; however, others proclaim seemingly irrational beliefs that they utilize to achieve amazing and original things. These people break the bonds of conventional wisdom. The individual (or horse) who doesn't know how things are supposed to be is the one that has the capacity to change the rules for everyone else. This happens all the time in America. Case in point is Bill Gates pronouncement that there would be a computer on every desktop. He was ridiculed for this belief but was vindicated in time by reality.

The question appears to be, is the belief false or is it just not shared by others. The benefit of hindsight is needed to determine if the belief was false; you can not know in advance. The lesson for me is to set big goals and not focus on the reasons not to do something but rather create the reality needed to achieve those big goals. Delusional? Maybe. But with hindsight, self-delusion can be a precursor to self-fulfillment.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
I am a student of human nature. History used to be my least favorite subject, but now, I am fascinated with historical figures and why they made the decisions they made. I am also strongly interested in current-day politics but not for partisan reasons. That is to say, I consider myself a dispassionate observer of the political scene, and I think that neither ultimate truth nor salvation is the province of any particular political party. That is not to say that I don't agree more with one party over another, rather that I like to think that I make independent judgements based on my own analyses.

One of the reasons to read literature is to gain an insight into human nature, given a highly skilled author. One such author is Tom Wolfe. I am currently reading Bonfire of the Vanities (of which the movie did no justice to Mr. Wolfe's writing). I am amazed at the way every character in the book deludes themself in one way or another. Every noble action is based on shallow motives. Characters rationalize their own actions and motivations to make themselves appear better people in their own eyes. How much of this self delusion exists in the real world and even in ourselves? Is there anyone who isn't self delusional in one way or another? I doubt it. But then, deluding yourself is not always a bad thing...

When it comes to human nature, the one subject of study I tend to return to, often relunctantly, is myself. I delude myself a lot of the time. I delude myself into thinking that I am smart and superior because I read a lot and think through things considerably; however, I do not take a lot of action and tend to procrastinate (the act of starting to write this blog took me over a year). On one level, I know that you can not always know everything in advance of a decision; you need the feedback from action, but it is very easy to make excuses for not acting or not making a decision by over-intelluctalizing rationalization and then thinking that you are superior in some way because of your inaction. Trust me, I know.

[The intellectual as self-delusional...that is one subject I will write about in the form of a series of posts on the movie, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou," one of my favorite movies.]
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Welcome to whit's end. Lance Kelley is my name, and I've got something to say...

Well, if that isn't the most pedestrian of introductions... Everyone has got something to say, even if it is only the requisite utterances required for the rote of their daily existence (although, the flat affects of the world probably don't have much of anything to say). No, other than the literal meaning, people expressing this could possibly mean one of three things: One, they have a therapeutic need to spout their feelings because no one ever listens to them, due of course to their therapeutic need to spout their feelings. Two, they have a salesmanesque grandeur of their own importance and think that having a catchy byline will help promote them. Or three, there is an incessant fire burning in their brain that says, "Thou shalt write or thou shalt go mad attempting to lid the ever-oxidizing thought stream of contradictions floating around in thine head!".

For my own part, the third is the most likely; although, I can't entirely discount the first and actually have mild hopes that the second becomes relevant.

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