(Confucius) tried his best, but the issue he left to Ming. Ming is often translated as Fate, Destiny or Decree. To Confucius, it meant the Decree of Heaven or Will of Heaven ... Thus to know Ming means to acknowledge the inevitability of the world as it exists, and so to disregard one's external success or failure. If we can act in this way, we can, in a sense, never fail. For if we do our duty that duty through our very act is morally done, regardless of the external success or failure of our action.
Fung Yu-Lan -- A Short History of Chinese Philosophy
I suppose that I can think of worse things than quoting TED Talk Andrew Yang. But one has to be super careful here. Andrew is a near-classic example of the subtle corruption of the soul that comprises Western thought at the current moment. Andrew is a fucking billionaire. Worse yet, he became a billionaire working in the dot-com boom, healthcare, and educational whoring. In other words, corruption.
One of the hardest things to realize is that in our striving for the status of "high-intelligence" and the status signalling accoutrements of success, the actual achievement of these external signs really has no connection with anything useful. Mike and I have been banging about the idea of consciousness and perception in an long-standing email string and while not having achieved a consensus, have at least kept the neurons firing in our brains. Maybe that is the whole point rather that placing an arbitrary score on that seemingly random firing of neurons, calling it intelligence, and then pasting the results onto Monsieur Decartes' new system of annotation.
At the risk of sounding like a goddamn hippie, we as a culture have completely missed the boat in what constitutes status. As a culture, we have degenerated into warring camps of status and virtue signalling. People like Yang make their billions selling snake oil to the believers of these false myths. Joe six-pack and the guy that takes his lunch to work every day are where it is at. I can't imagine that most of them aren't content.
What I was trying to say is that mediocrity (in the true sense of the word, not the pejorative common usage) is a elitist sneering. What in the world is wrong with being ordinary? Posturing about your intelligence/money/virtue is a sure trap. A way to convince yourself that what you have/do/believe gives you a privilege denied others of lesser values on the curve.
One of the things about intelligence is that it is a transient thing. Anybody my age who claims that they are "just as sharp" as they were in their twenties or a current denizen of their twenties is either 1.) delusional or 2.) wasn't all that sharp in their twenties.
I suppose I probably reside smack-dab in the middle of the mediocre. Looks to me to be a pretty nice place. I hope to be here for a while.
mediocre (comparative more mediocre, superlative most mediocre)
- Having no peculiar or outstanding features; not extraordinary, special, exceptional, or great; of medium quality, almost always with a negative connotation. quotations ▼
I'm pretty good at tennis but only mediocre at racquetball.
- Synonyms: common, commonplace, ordinary
On 10/24/20 8:03 AM, Keith Huddleston wrote:
Portland John recently wrote
The center of the normal curve is anathema to most folks . . .It is like a slap in the face to be told one is mediocre. But that is where most of us lie. We are all told now that we are special. Few of H. Sapiens are.
I am getting the impression more and more that the big change coming at us is the unpleasant realization by most that their skills aren't that valuable and their opinions not that valid.
Andrew Yang talks about the war on normal people. And in that war, well, my money isn't on us.
I don't want to speak for the rest of you guys, but I feel that it's been a less than ideal fate to be a "high normal." In my adult life, intelligence has been almost no help at all. I've been in the bitter spot -- as opposed to a sweet spot -- where I don't fit in, but I'm not able to cash anything I know out. Speaking both from life experience and statistics, I'd have been much better off being 7 inches taller.
And while, yes, I keep a lot more of what I earn than people in my income bracket, it's hard for me to untangle how much of that is values and how much is me using understanding -- but I lean heavily towards it being values. 1) I've run into a lot of intelligent people who are terrible with money 2) nothing about "doing without" is rocket science.
Hmm. . . . I essay-ing myself into not being sure, though. On the one hand, in this culture learning how to spend less first requires an openness to new experience, which correlates heavily with intelligence. Also, keeping the eye on the prize, so to speak, means toggling between abstractions and concrete operations in a way that I have noticed most people wear out much more quickly on -- and really a lot of people cannot in point of fact do hardly at all.
So, in an evil culture like ours -- one that uses mass produced symbols as dark magic to trick people who cannot wade through the ways abstractions map to realities -- THEN some level of intelligence is a necessary condition. . . but not a sufficient one to frugality. I happen to have the necessary intelligence and have paired it with values, and those values give me the stubbornness to hold on (to holding out).
I am at a local optimum, and to break out would require far more effort and risk than it is worth. The risk is the more important part. Someone with a mental engine like mine would have to move to a prestige city and treat his life and career as a lottery ticket. Instead, the new world order is being built by people much, much smarter than me, and even if I was able to contribute it would only be to train my replacement -- and, again, whether or not I get to cash out part would be a matter of pure luck.
And so I do as well as I can at my local optimum. By being at the head of a class I have somewhere that I fit in five days a week in a normal week, and then frequent breaks. As an added bonus I am paid far more than I spend. I have my hobbies for deep engrossment and fulfillment-- this very writing, and what I call my "junk punk" work in the garage. All in all, I'd have to have a net worth of say two million to even consider changing my lifestyle. I am very comfortably mediocre. But, alas, I know that the centre probably cannot hold. Things fall apart, anarchy loosened, etc, etc.
But I don't see a reason to not enjoy this phase of life while it lasts.