Critical Thinking

This is something most Americans no longer want to do.

They can think about the small problems of everyday life – but not the big problems that are doing them in.

They will react indignantly to anyone’s suggestion that their problem-solving powers are not up to the job. That they are in big trouble, because they cannot see what is going on. When this is clearly the case.

Their critical reasoning powers have moved into their unconscious minds – where they can act without being observed.

This discovery of the Unconscious was one of the major discoveries of our time – but this knowledge has been strongly resisted. I can remember my Mother saying, as strongly as she could “I am not an animal!” When she was the mother of four children, formed in the usual manner – by her unconscious body.

If I had access to her unconscious mind, I would have seen some powerful, conflicting forces – that she did not want to know about. The struggle of her entire race was going on there. A struggle reduced to its simplest elements – the life-and-death struggle between Good and Evil. In which I played a minor role.

This universal struggle has been played out in the last several centuries, all over the world – with puzzling results. The most important of which – has been our determination to not see this struggle at all! But to participate in it unconsciously.

In our own lives, we enact the struggle between Success and Failure. And it is not clear which one is going to win.

The Emotional Effects of Continuous Improvement

Much of the world has been continually improving itself, beginning in the middle of the 19th Century. Note the key word much, however. Some parts of the world have not changed much at all.

Much of the Islamic world, for example, is determined to not change – and views this as a dangerous process that will take them away from the truth.

America, however, still continues to change at an ever-increasing pace – and this is extracting a heavy emotional toll from its people.

They have assumed, since they have been improved so much – they are now radically different people – in fact, demigods! And can take as much as they please, from lesser beings – everyone and everything else in the world.

This is faulty reasoning, but reasoning that seems perfectly sound to them.

Their critical reasoning has moved into their unconscious (including their collective unconscious). And this is typical unconscious reasoning – simple in its operation – and violent.

Americans are Nice

And this self-knowledge is bred into their bones. They can get away with anything, because they know they are right – no matter what they do – no matter how crazy they are.

And this is why they have failed so disastrously – without knowing it in the least. They are not allowed to know what they really are. They are nice, and that is all they need to know.

There was another adjective that my parents liked to use – they were respectable.

Why they had to be respectable was clear enough – underneath their clever facade, they were not respectable at all – but were quite the opposite. This is why they were so religious – and their church affiliation made them even more respectable.

This worked in the boom economy right after WWII – they could proudly show off their possessions – their new houses and new cars. These proved they were good people.

When the economy faded, in the Sixties – they shifted their attention elsewhere. They went from the Great Society to Vietnam.

And gradually they went from being respectable to being nice – a state harder to define. But one they could observe easily on their Televisions.

The second half of the last Century was influenced by TV, and then the Computer. These produced some very complicated changes, that are still going on. But one overall effect was clear – Americans (and Europeans, and nearly everyone else) became self-destructive.

They were living in another reality – much better than the real one! Nero fiddled while Rome burned – and we are obsessed by our Phones, while our world burns.

Perhaps some day historians will describe the complicated transitions in the 17th through 21st Centuries. A huge undertaking that we cannot begin now.

Success Was Disgusting

I use the past tense here, because this happened in the second half of the 19th Century. in the Industrial North – Northern Europe and North America. I will concentrate on America.

America had gone from being an Enlightenment project – to the most Industrialized nation in the world. A huge change, and one we were not entirely comfortable with. The Enlightenment ideals were noble, but the Industrial ideals were crass “Get more power, make more money, grab more land!”

One hundred years later – America still struggles with this problem. How to be wealthy, and how to be good – at the same time.  We were unable to solve this problem – and in disgust, turned against ourselves – and started destroying ourselves. A powerful process that is still going on.

We had gone from constructing a nation – to destructing it. While being completely unaware of this.

I was aware of this (vaguely) when I was in High School, in the Fifties. Our teachers did not like us – and our parents agreed with them “Punish the little rascals!” This was also the attitude at work (in the Office) where people had become superhuman (they thought) – and hated any humans in their midst.

One result of this, was the reaction against Science – a big part of the Enlightenment project. Science was about seeing things as they were – and they didn’t want to see that!

Is the situation impossible? No, because it is so complex, and unstable. The situation now is bad – no question about that. But the human race is not going to disappear – and may eventually solve their problems.

It may dawn on them that they have to change fundamentally – much as they hate to. They might like being good. Stranger things have happened.

Understanding the Objective World

This was the great gift of Industrialization. It gave us the concepts we needed to analyze the world, and then optimize our projects in it. This has made us affluent – no small advantage!

I can see these advantages clearly, now that I live in the South, in Latin America, that was not much influenced by Industrialization. These people do not have our concepts of objective time and space – for them, everything is personal and relative. They know how to relate to people, but not how to relate to the world outside them.

They live in their small world, but not the big world. A huge handicap – and one they probably cannot overcome.

The North, on the other had, has severe emotional disadvantages. They know how to relate to the outside world – and anything they can quantify – but not how relate to each other. They have poor soft skills.

A Laptop is a Laptop is a Laptop

This is true in English and Spanish – and probably other languages, as well.

This was brought home to me today, when I was notified that my new Windows 10 Computer, that had been shipped yesterday to Miami – had already arrived in Costa Rica – and was being rushed through customs!

Usually this takes longer – because people first have to figure out what it is. A new kitchen timer, for example, baffled them – because they didn’t what it was used for – or what to call it.

People everywhere know what a Laptop is. You could drop one in the Sands of the Sahara – and people would know what it was.

It carries with it, respectability – because it is so intelligent.

On Being a Tech Writer

In America, The Job has become all-important. If you don’t have a job, you are a nobody – and no one wants to be that.

I had many jobs (because the companies I worked for, kept going of business). I made this part of my identity “I’m in-between jobs right now.” Which was totally true, and made people feel better about me – I was alright, because I took my jobs seriously – or at least seemed to.

I cleaned up my resume, to make it look like I worked for fewer companies. This did not reflect the reality of the situation – but that is what people wanted. A reality that was better than the real one. One that overlooked the instability of the job market – that overlooked the instability of the companies themselves.

Tech writers make the world look better than it is. That’s what their job is.

At one point, I decided I wanted to do Technical Documentation – to make the company aware of the clever tools it had in reserve, to make more products. I was fired, instead.

And the company went out of business.