Translating Fiction

ren-lin-sw-final-web5I see memes from my favorite science fiction from time to time. But the way it’s depicted seems less fictional. We tend to forget science fiction is more fiction than science.

I don’t think we need more science fiction in our lives, I think we need more science. I want to help with that. In this series, I want to look at excerpts from fiction and contrast it with facts.

While science fiction can be a good escape from reality, it’s not a good map for reality. We need to look at science for that. And when we start looking at science as much as science fiction, life will not be stranger than fiction…it’ll be better.

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

This is the “Litany Against Fear” from Frank Herbert’s DUNE. You’ll see it in used in memes now. But I think most people know as much about fear as they do the Bene Gesserit, a Gom Jabbar, the Kwisatch Hadderrach, and Spice.

I love DUNE but disagree. We must fear because fear is anything but a mind killer. Fear is both a mind and body “saver.” It protects us against the “big death.”

But, like most excerpts of science fiction (or any mythos), there are splinters of truth to be tweezed out. Fear can bring about the autonomic “freeze” response which can halt many other physiological processes. And there are definitely times to freeze…but that’s just one action.

When we’re scared, yes, we must face it, allow ourselves to experience it…in order to act upon it. Maybe we need to rethink the situation or act upon it…even fight.

“Allow yourself to feel fear and act appropriately towards what you fear.”

It’s not very poetic but it’s far more scientific.
“There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.”

This is the Jedi Code from the Space Opera, STAR WARS. I think the code is not meant to be taken as literally as an autistic such as myself would take it. My knee jerk critique would be: There is death, ignorance, passion, chaos, and death. Here’s a less literal interpretation and more scientific reframe I believe the code offers.

When I feel negatively emotional, I think of the action that leads me towards peace.
When I am ignorant, I seek knowledge.
When I am hyper-passionate, I look for serenity.
When there is too much chaos, I work towards order.
When there is death, I think of what precedes…and what proceeds.

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.”

If you recognize that, you’re as big a fan of Star Wars as I am. That is the Code of the Sith. It’s obviously fictional but is there any way we can make it more literal…so that it is more applicable?

Peace, like all things, is temporary…but so is passion.
Passion tells me where I will work to become stronger.
Strength gives me better leverage.
Leverage allows me to make a greater impact.
With a greater impact, I have more options.
With more options, I have more freedom.

Taking away the hyperbole and histrionics, I think this translation informs us as to the Sith’s desirability. And, in reality, who would we rather be: a cloistered ascetic with nothing but obligation or a conquering titan…with more freedom than anyone else? That is the power of the “dark side.”

TO BE CONTINUED….

NEGATING NEGATIVES

Facebook_logo_thumbs_up_like_transparentNo matter what we do in our lives, we’re doing it for one reason. We simply want to feel better. Think about that.

That is the the litmus test. It is the measuring stick of all behaviors and thoughts. Did that make me feel better?

Of course, not everything we do is effective at making us feel better…much less everyone else. That leaves us with a simple task. Exchange those thoughts and behaviors for others than make us feel better. Easier said, right?

Let’s say we do something that makes us feel negatively. At some point we become aware of how it’s making us feel. That may lead to a host of other feelings like regret, shame, embarrassment, anger…but we only need to feel enough of any emotion in order to do something different. But what do we do?

If all the world’s a stage, and we’re all actors…what can we do about our next performance? We rehearse. We rehearse how we want to behave.

We imagine the next time we feel the way we were feeling when we did what we didn’t want to do…doing something different. Instead of ruminating on what we did do, we rehearse over and over again until we know we’re going to nail our part. But the way we behave isn’t the only thing that makes us feel negatively.

Sometimes just the way we feel is a function of how and what we think. Pessimism, catastrophization, rumination…there are ways in which our thinking can get us and keep us feeling negatively. We thought our way into negativity and we’re going to have to think our way out of it.

But thinking our way out of it isn’t as simple as charge cancellation. Positive affirmations aren’t likely enough to dispel our negativity. We’re going to need a better tool.

In the face of negative thoughts, we have to replace them with something else that fits. We have to look for another thought, that is as true as what we were thinking. And this new thought won’t likely make us feel positively…but it can make us feel better. And feeling better is how we know our thoughts and actions are effective…and we’ve negated negativity.

OFFENSE & DEFENSE

offense-defense-camppI often to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk. He preaches a very simple message. And in the repetition of that message, he sometimes finds new metaphors.

One of his recent metaphors was a reframing of negativity and positivity. To him, negativity is defense and positivity is offense. And Gary is all about offense.

We could extend those metaphors and mix them with others. “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” “I don’t have defense, I have counter offense.” I, of course, want to look at the roles negativity and positivity play in the practice of BioFeedback.

I am a naturally “negative” person. I can see problems. I can see what’s wrong.

If that were completely negative, that would be an awful predicament. But can’t the same be said for positivity? Positivity is only seeing the good.

If we only see the good, can we ever fix the bad? That, of course, is where the synthesis comes in. Negativity plays one role, positivity another.

Just because something needs change doesn’t mean it can be changed. Negativity is not for finding out everything that should be changed. It’s simply for finding out what can be changed.

That, of course, is where BioFeedback and a scientific posture comes in handy. The application is simple. Can I change this now? If not, move on to the next potential thing to change.

Positivity’s purpose is three-fold. It’s for reframing or taking a new point of view on things that can’t be changed: this can’t be changed yet, but what can be changed? But that’s not the primary purpose of positivity.

Positivity’s primary purpose is enacting whatever level of change can occur. But that doesn’t mean change is easy. Sometimes change on a scale smaller than we would like.

Positivity is about all managing one’s emotional state while change, no matter how small, is occurring. “I’m not stuck, I’m changing…this is good.” But positivity plays an even more important role.

And when that change isn’t occurring yet gets us to the primary purpose of positivity. Just because we can’t change in the moment doesn’t mean we can’t rehearse for when we can change. When we rehearse sufficiently, the change happens bigger and faster than we had even hoped for.

Negativity is for seeing what’s wrong. Positivity is for finding, practicing, and maintaining an effective psychology while doing the most important thing: changing. The artful and scientific use for positivity and negativity make for a strong offense and defense.

IS SCIENCE ENOUGH?

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I’m reading another text that is positing once again that science isn’t enough. Science doesn’t provide meaning. We need something else for that.

We need philosophy. We need religion. We need spirituality.

But is that the case? Does science have a limit as to what it can give us? Is science a part time paradigm?

Whenever you think of science, what do you think of? Bunsen burners and beakers? Calculators and pocket protectors?

Science is actually more specific than that. While it is about experiments and calculations, that isn’t the whole of it. That whole specificity allows for mass utility.

Science is really about a way of asking questions…and arriving at answers. The only thing that science cannot answer are questions that cannot be answered. And questions that cannot be answered occupy a very small part of our lives.

We’re all practical scientists whether we think of ourselves that way, or not. We do something (an experiment) because we think it’s the right thing to do (hypothesis). If it works out (observation), we continue doing that thing (including philosophy, religion, etc.)…after all, we believe it works (theory).

We’re good at personal, or anecdotal science. It’s when we get into the more rigorous and general empirical science that science loses it appeal. But anything that is impersonal loses its appeal. It’s happened with religion and philosophy.

What if we simply needed a more “personal” relationship with science? What if we became conscious of being scientists? Would science then be enough?

As practical scientists, we’re treating everything as an experiment…including philosophies and religions. We can anecdotally determine what works and doesn’t work…at least for us. And for each experiment we run, we’re reminded of one thing over and over again.

A part of the science is to run experiments based on prediction. I think this will happen. I’ll test it and see what does happen.

Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re not. But our errors aren’t isolated to hypotheses. We make errors in observations, in calculating data, and building theories.

For all our science, we are an erroneous people. And those errors occur in all human advents including science, religion, and philosophy…because humans are involved in all of them. This (scientific) observation should bring about two qualities in us: humility….and more science. Beware of those in whom it doesn’t.

CONSERVE, PROGRESS, & LIBERATE

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America is somewhat divided down the middle in political ideologies. On one side is conservatism. On the other is progressivism. Straddling both is libertarianism.

At my best, my science informs my beliefs. My science is BioFeedback. My beliefs are many.

Included in my beliefs is my politics. I identify as a scientist. I also identify as a Libertarian.

Whenever we talk about government and the political spectrum, we have to view it through the lens of authority. Where does authority reside? Is it with the individual or the government?

Conservatives believe that economic authority should be with the individual and social authority should be with the government. Progressives believe that economic authority should be with the government and social authority should be with the individual.Libertarians believe that all authority (save the authority of the Courts, Police, and Military) should lay with the individual.

What about my science leads me to believe the best form of governance is the smallest form of government? Why would I champion the individual? What does BioFeedback have to teach us in this arena?

In 2009, THE MOVEMENT was formed to share the discovery of perpetual progress. Perpetual Progress is based upon the use of BioFeedback. BioFeedback refers to how sensation and action affect other.

Whenever we match our actions to our sensations, we progress. Whenever we do that in perpetuity, we progress perpetually. Let me explain…in the realm of movement.

Let’s say I get a positive sensation from flexing my shoulder. If I train that with THE MOVEMENT protocol, I’ll achieve some personal record. Whether it be flexibility, strength, speed, endurance, or recovery, in some way, I’ll do more than before.

So what BioFeedback, even working out have to do with Politics? Everything! It has to do with how individuals react to leadership.

When an individual tunes in to their own biological based leadership, amazing things can happen. Pain can be relieved. Abilities can be gained.

And when one ignores their internal leadership in lieu of external leadership, or governance, they invite disaster. While following one’s own guidance is tricky (especially in the beginning), following others’ guidance is a guarantee…of eventual failure. If you follow anything other than yourself, you will eventually break yourself.

When we have a strong state, or central governance, all people will be broken at one time or another…especially those with the least power. And group is only as strong as its individual members. This points to a simple principle and practice.

Maximize individual liberty. Make a group where the individual is the focus…when the individual can be the focus. And when is the individual not the focus?

The individual is not the focus when that particular individual is impinging on other individuals. The other case is when another group (of individuals) is aggressing upon another group of individuals. It’s in those cases where the (weak) state institutions come into play, those being the police, the courts, and if a threat is international, the military.

That allowance of freedom allows for conservatism and progressivism to coexist…if they’ll allow each other coexist. And I think their coexistence is crucial to their individual existence. Both conservatives and progressives can advance the cause of individual liberty, as well.

There is a time for progress. There is a time for conservation. Each respective group must sound the clarion call when it is time. Sebastian Junger’s argument is much the same in his book, TRIBE.

But here’s where BioFeedback comes back into the picture. Just because something needs progressed beyond or something needs to be conserved doesn’t mean progress or conservation can happen now…and that’s where individual and collective BioFeedback plays a role.

The feedback we get from ourself tells us how much we can and cannot change. The feedback we get from others tells us how much they can and cannot change. This informs the roles we all play.

Conservatives tells everyone, this is important…this part shouldn’t be changed. Progressives say, this part isn’t good enough…we need to makes progress here. And Libertarians remind both that as a group, we can stay the same or change…but not at too high a cost to any individual.

And when we all collectively decide to remain or change directions, our roles change a bit. But we have to understand the nature of change before we more clearly understand our roles. Change isn’t as effective as we’d prefer…but we can make it more effective.

I’ve heard change referred to in many ways. Change is incremental. Change is a pendulum. I believe it’s both of those things…but I believe it’s more than those things.

When I’m talking about individual physiology (including psychology), I describe it in terms of elasticity. Your body is made up of elastic tissues…with some being more elastic than others. But what we fail to comprehend is that our physiology is elastic, too.

Whenever we think of cultural change, we can look at it as incremental…everything looks incremental in the short term. When we look at it through the broader prism, we see the pendulum. And we see it go too far in a direction…and then swing back.

The pendulum swings back because change is an elastic process. And if the only way to change is to go too far, then by all means, the party of change (or changing back) has to push us too far. And what we’re all fighting is staying too long or going too far.

To fight change is to delay the inevitable. And to fight change is to build change up so much that too much change occurs. And when that change occurs, a commensurate correction is needed.

But then the change of correction is fought, so that an overcorrection occurs. And each side is emboldened to fight change until change is once again, inevitable. It’s a truly vicious cycle…but going too far isn’t the only way to change.

Cooperation between the three minds of the American Politic can help keep change going. But that cooperation must start with understanding our collective roles. And we need to play those roles better.

Optimally, conservatives would keep us from changing too much, too fast. Progressives would keep us from staying the same too long. And Libertarians would remind both sides that staying the same or changing cannot impinge upon the individual too much.

What has happened is that no group values the other groups. And when we collectively don’t see the necessity for each other, polarity occurs. Conservatives fight change at all costs. Progressives push change at all costs. Both want Libertarians to pick a side and Libertarians don’t want to be a part of either side.

What if Conservatives remembered their own bias against change and tried to find ways in which they could change? What if Progressives didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater? What if Libertarians remembered that the most power and safety an Individual can have from other individuals and groups…is a group?

The group that needs to change needs to communicate what change they can accept…and accept it. The group that is pushing the change (literally) needs to learn to not push too much. And the group that has pushed the change must be open to change…when it’s their turn.

Energy is lost putting on the brakes, in going too far, or pushing too hard. There are things that deserve, even demand to remain the same. There are things that require us progressing past. And both conservatism and progressivism should protect and progress the individual’s liberty. And when the Libertarian joins in, all individuals maximize the ability to conserve what works, progress past what doesn’t, and maximize individual power through cooperation of the three minds of the Body Politic.

 

THE ELASTIC LIFE

elasticityWhen I was coming up in fitness, staying in the fat burning zone was the thing. So joggers strapped on heart rate monitors and limited their activity by staying within these narrow parameters. They didn’t know how limited they were about to get.

Once runners started stabilizing their heart rates, the ultimate limitation emerged. Their mortality rate increased. WTH?

How did active people die…from activity? Here’s another one for you. The most active person I know, someone who was active probably using all energy systems…developed diabetes. Why? For the same reason the joggers died.

Even though he was active for 10 hours a day (and eating “clean”) the rest of the time, he still developed diabetes. Why? My hypothesis is his routine.

He was the most “disciplined” person I knew (and many consider me disciplined). But this discipline came in the form of routine. Routine, no matter how good it is, is the freeway to the graveyard. Why?

Why would consistently doing the “right” thing lead to the ultimate negative consequence? Let’s focus on two possible reasons. The first is adaptation.

Adaptation can be understood as the ability to change directions. If we’re routined, we’re moving through a limited number of directions. When we have to get out of our routine, we’re negatively impacted.

Of course we are. We’ve been practicing a routine. We haven’t been practicing adaptability.

The second reason the “right” thing could lead to the wrong outcome is how organisms respond to stress. Organisms with too much stress predictably die. But also consider those organisms with no distress at all, die, too. This points us in the direction we need to go.

Mechanical systems break down through use. Friction wears away the parts. Not as much in living systems.

Living systems build themselves up through use. Hypertrophy, right? And they break down through disuse…atrophy.

Whenever we don’t experience distress, we lose the ability to deal with distress. But too much distress and the system breaks. How do we navigate this conflict, even paradox?

If we don’t use, or use it enough, a bodily part or area breaks down. And if we use it too much, it breaks down, as well. But that isn’t the whole story.

Each part of the body affects the rest of the body. How it affects the rest of those parts is movement. But even the movement of one part affects the rest of the movements of that same part.

Let’s take the shoulder, for example. The shoulder flexes, extends, adducts, abducts, internally rotates, externally rotates, and circumducts. But here’s the kicker – when the shoulder flexes (with all other things being equal), it makes the rest of the motions harder to perform.

Why would moving your shoulder in one way make it harder to move your shoulder in all the other ways? It has to do with how our tissue adapts. Our tissue reshapes itself with use.

Like a living clay, the body reshapes itself in the shape of movement. That’s why we can often tell what a person does or doesn’t do by their posture and their gait. So when we have tissue that loses function if we don’t use that function, we’re left with one biological command: use everything.

We have to use every musculoskeletal motion of the body or we’ll eventually lose every motion of the body.  But we can’t just look musculoskeletally, we have look organically, as well. If we don’t utilize the upper and lower limits of all function, those functions become limited…until we cannot function, at all.

Our joggers lost physiological function because of how limited activity limited their hearts. No longer was there as much variability in the heart rate. It only went so far up and so far down. It purposefully stayed within a “zone.”

But to stay in this zone changed the organ tissue. Because it physiologically, or functionally, didn’t go up and down as much, it lost the analogous anatomical quality. What is that quality? Elasticity.

Our tissues are all elastic in nature. Our anatomy is elastic. While form follows function, in living systems, function follows form, as well.

If we want to maintain our elasticity, we have to live elastically. We have to breathe really fast…and really slow. We have to eat a lot and nothing. We have to drink a lot and nothing.

Periodically, life has to be be about the extremes. It’s not as though one day can be feast and one can be famine…at least from day to day. But a flat line is just that…life needs its ups and downs.

For many of us, life provides enough downs, so we spend our free time working on going up. But we forget that the climb is indefinite, it foreshadows a fall…at least on one front. But life is lived on many fronts.

When we’re down in one area, we can be up in another. But if we’re so focused on where we’re down, we’re missing the opportunity to find an area where we can go up…and then actually go up. And if we can’t find a place to go up, we have to remember that our anatomy is elastic, so our physiology is elastic, so then our life is elastic….and the only way to move forward is to go both up and down.