Monday, May 30, 2011

The Choice Between Love And Fear

Everytime a person enters a relationship they have to make a choice between love and fear.

If you choose love, your highest priority will be to open up to your partner, get to know them very well, engage in honest meaningful discussions, and have experiences that will enrich your relationship. You will want to create an atmosphere of transparency and freedom. You will accept their choices and celebrate their desires. You will have to give them many freedoms, including among others, the freedom to hurt you emotionally. Love requires a huge investment of emotions, and the more emotions that you invest, the greater power your partner will have to hurt you emotionally. However, when you choose love, you set aside those concerns and make yourself completely available and in the moment without regard to the consequences that might entail.

On the other hand, if you choose fear, you highest priority will be to protect yourself. You will create an emotional barricade around yourself, distance yourself from the complexities of the relationship, and make sure that your partner stays inline. You will demand sexual and emotional fidelity, you feel insecure if your partner meets an interesting person, and you will do everything you can to make sure that your partner never leaves or do anything that might hurt you. You do not want your partner to see you for who you really are, because you are afraid they might not like the real you. You know that you have not invested much in making a solid relationship, that's why any person your partner might be interested in is an immediate threat because they might help them see what you have been holding back.

My opinion is that if someone enters a relationship with the expectation that they would never get emotionally hurt, they have no business being in a relationship in the first place!

It is important that each one of us asks themselves: Which one of those choices my past relationships exemplified? Do I choose love? Or do I choose fear? And, do I want to make those same choices or choose a different path? Some might not realize it, but love and fear just don't go together, sooner or later you have to make a choice!

PS: Inspired by this entry

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Problem of Mr./Mrs. Right

Many people have an idea that is usually referred to as Mr. or Mrs. Right. While it is not necessarily a bad idea to have in your mind, many people use the idea in a way that is problematic for intimate relationships.

Some people have the idea of Mr. or Mrs. Right going in the back of their minds like a broken record that keeps repeating itself. Everytime they meet a person, they keep asking themselves: Is this Mr./Mrs. Right?! Oh, he likes this, he hates that... Wow he must be Mr./Mrs. Right... But oh wait, he does this, and he doesn't like that... Nah, he cannot be Mr./Mrs. Right!!

Almost all cultures have this idea of prince or princess charming that will come and be one's perfect match in every way possible. Some people might say that this is a fairy tale idea that does not happen in real life, but it is nonetheless something romantic. I disagree on both accounts. First, it can happen in real life. And second, it is not romantic... If anything it is anti-romantic. Allow me to explain.

First, the reason that prince or princess charming seems for many people to simply not exist, is because they build their images and ideas about Mr./Mrs. Right in the fantasy world. If you construct your idea of Mr./Mrs. Right in the fantasy world, then it is only logical that you will find them only in the fantasy world that they were constructed in. However, if you construct the idea of Mr./Mrs. Right in the real world, then such a person may exist. So it is simply a matter of making realistic expectations.

In the fantasy world, you will not find your prince or princess charming defecating in the bathroom. But if you're looking for someone who does not go to the bathroom, you're out of luck! My point is, humans are humans, and they have their flaws and charms, they have their ups and downs... And sometimes, what might seem like a flaw would indeed be something magnificent.

As a matter of fact, sometimes you might find people who are even better than Mr./Mrs. Right! And I am talking from first hand experience point of view. How?! Simple, any imaginary person is limited by your imagination. While imaginary people might not be limited in certain aspects, they are limited by your own perceptions. You are unlikely to have an interesting conversation with your imaginary friends, because they can only tell you what you already know. And they cannot teach you something about yourself, because they are part of what you know about yourself. And you are not going to experience anything new, because what you imagine is based on what you already experienced. Sometimes, real people are far more interesting and far more worthy of love than your imaginary friends.

Second point -which is actually the main point of this post- is that the idea of Mr./Mrs. Right devalues interpersonal relationships. That is why I consider it to be anti-romantic. Interpersonal relationships are valuable. But when people operate in the mindset of Mr./Mrs. Right, they would be constantly be making comparisons and judgements on the person they are in a relationship with. Relationships are valuable because they are a form of human interaction. They are an expression of our humanity.

This problem is usually evident when intimate relationships end. Many people would react in the following way: Oh darn, he did not turn out to be Mr./Mrs. Right, I wasted my time with this person and for what?! For nothing!!

If you ever find yourself reacting in that manner, then I think that you have a problem. You simply miss the whole point of a relationship. Relationships are valuable whether or not they are with Mr./Mrs. Right. It is human to form relationships with people. And relationships have value whether they last for five minutes or a lifetime. That's not to say they necessarily have equal value... But they have value nonetheless, and to deny that is a problem in and of itself.

Relationships need not and should not be an exercise in finding Mr./Mrs. Right. Talking about a subject of interest, sharing thoughts and feeling, sitting next to the person watching TV, having sexual intercourse, or any activity that you did, do, or will do is significant, and need to be appreciated regardless of when or how the relationship ended or started. And to deny any of that is -in my opinion- problematic and anti-romantic because it strips the relationship of its humanity.

And third point is how such an idea affects the relationship. For example, I personally hold honesty to be an important feature in relationships. But what would happen if the person you are involved with does not measure up to some of the characteristics of Mr./Mrs. Right?! This might not be a problem. However, if one is determined to find Mr./Mrs. Right no matter what, they might be determined to terminate that relationship. So, imagine now that you are with your partner, and he knows that your Mr./Mrs. Right has some characteristic that he does not have... For one, it might cause that person to feel inadequate and consequently jeopardize the relationship.

Moreover, think of how this affects the honesty of your partner. How would a person have the desire to be honest about themselves if they know that their honesty will cause them to lose you, or at least think less of them?! You would be putting your partner in a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation. Where they have to make a choice between honesty and the continuity of the relationship.

In short, how could someone be encouraged to be honest and express themselves freely if they are constantly expected to measure up to some imaginary person that their partner made up?!

So, the person who is trying to find Mr./Mrs. Right is faced with the choice: Do I want a partner who is himself/herself all the time? Or do I want a partner who just seeks to imitate my imaginary friend called Mr./Mrs. Right? I hope that you agree with me that the former choice is the more sensible choice.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Cage of Zeroes

Slipknot in "Skin Ticket":
Zero and zero is nothing but zero
Cancer and people conspire together
Running and running and going forever
Collected and sampled, starving for zero

Come see my cage - built in my grain
Come see my cage - built in my grain
Come see my cage - built in my graveyard (Full lyrics)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Different Kind of Commitment

Open relationships involve a very different kind of commitment. One is essentially committing to conceive of the relationship in a non-comparative light; to value it for its intrinsic character rather than the way it compares to others; and to care about your partner, and how they treat you, in a non-possessive fashion. It involves the recognition that: What matters is your relationship, not any other one – even if the other involves your partner.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

About Love - Part 2: Love and Curiosity

Curiosity is the most important aspect of love.

To love someone is to think that they are interesting. And for them to be interesting to you, this means that they instill a feeling of curiosity. The desire that emerges when you get to know someone, that you want to know more about them. Understand their feelings, experiences, views, and thoughts. Or more generally, understand who they are. This desire in my opinion is the most definitive feature of the emotion of love. And this desire is why a relationship is created and how the relationship is maintained.

Curiosity is the reason you make the time to sit with a person, have a conversation about all the different subject matters. It is why one would listen to another talking about their day, their passions, their opinions, or what have you. And it is through this process that intimacy grows and creates the experience of love.

And the satisfaction of this desire of curiosity and learning creates a very pleasant experience, which would reinforce the desire and be the basis of love.

Within this view, let's address how closed relationships and open relationships manifest their effects on the emotion of curiosity. While some people might interpret a statement of exclusivity from their partner as a positive commitment, I see it negatively. Because when we meet other people, our lives get enriched. In other words, we become more interesting in the sense then we have more things to talk about, share, and teach our partner. We as humans acquire knowledge and insight through our experiences, and the most profound class of experiences are interactions with other human beings. By limiting the depth of our experiences with other people, we are shutting the door for numerous experiences that will enrich our life, develop our personalities, and give us insight about ourselves, others, and life in general.

Consequently, the way I see things, someone who proclaims exclusivity is basically saving: "I have no intention of making myself more lovable, by the means of enriching my life." And in this sense, when your partner has no interest in enriching your life with the knowledge they give you, they are defying the very constituent of love, namely being worthy of curiosity, and consequently worthy of your time and love.

When you meet someone and find that they are interesting, that they have a unique perspective on life, and their mind works in a beautiful way; The more natural impulse is that you want that person to experience life more fully, because in that manner they are going to gain the insight and the experience to be more insightful and interesting. I find it extremely odd that one would think that someone is interesting, but not give them the tools to put their talent at work to come up with something that might as well be ground breaking!

Same idea applies when your partner asks you to be exclusive to them. They are basically saying: "I love you for a reason other than that I find you interesting." Which would consequently put into question whether or not they love you to begin with. Curiosity knows no bounds, and no matter how much you already know, you still have the desire to know more. If you have no desire to know more, then you have no curiosity, and when you are not curious, the emotion of love loses it's momentum.

And the idea of this deep connection between the emotion of love and curiosity is very evident in the general conception of 'true love'. Most people would argue that sex is not the most important aspect of love, but rather admiring and respecting the personality of the loved one. And this raises the question: How would it be that you admire and respect someone's personality if you don't think they are interesting? Or in other words, feel curious about them? So it seems to me that the people who profess that the closed-relationships model for relationships is compatible with the conception of 'true love' as being highly self-contradicting and self-refuting!

In this series:
About Love - Part 1: Love and Jealousy
About Love - Part 2: Love and Curiosity
Next: About Love - Part 3: Love and Sexuality
Next: About Love - Part 4: True Love

Monday, May 23, 2011

Criticizing Anton Lavey and his Tradition

Reverend John Allee is a Satanist who openly and relentlessly criticizes the tradition of Laveyian Satanism. Check this video titled "Modern Satanism: The Failed Religion". Personally, I disagree with Laveyian Satanism. However, I think that the criticisms that are presented in that particular video are misguided. They do misrepresent the Laveyian tradition, and it's message and goals.

I also don't agree with the title saying: "Modern Satanism: The Failed Religion". The reason I disagree is that it makes a non-sense generalization that "Laveyian Satanism" is "Modern Satanism"... Which is something completely misinformed! As a matter of fact, philosophical satanism and modern satanism mean roughly the same thing. So, I think a better title would be: "Laveyian Satanism: The Failed Religion".

I have way too many criticisms to the video apart from it's misleading title which I will not address in this entry. However, I think the video addresses some legitimate concerns, and in the spirit of openness to criticism and critical thinking, I think that is a good video to watch for satanists and non-satanists alike.

For those who don't know who Anton Lavey is; Lavey is a Modern Satanist who wrote a book titled "The Satanic Bible" in 1969, among few other Satanism related books. He also created what is called "The first church of Satan". Satanists had very diverse reactions to Lavey's actions, some applauded him, while the majority disagreed and opposed him. Personally, I disagree with many of the views that Lavey presents in his book. However, I think that presenting Satanism as a religion on par with other religions as a commendable achievement, with the reservation that Laveyian Satanism only represents the views of Lavey and his followers, but not Satanism in general.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Music - Part 3: Downtempo Favorites

Downtempo is a category of electronic music characterized by a slower tempo (lower beats per minute rate). This type of music is made for listening and relaxation. Downtempo and in particular Ambient is all about the soundscapes. You can enjoy the soundscapes to the max when the music is flowing slowly and smoothly, without many complexities. I mostly prefer the psychedelic variants, because I am generally into psychedelic music!

Chill-out and Lounge: Relaxation music
Pleasure Lounge - Dreamworks
Sunlounger - Lost
Sunlounger - Sunny Tales
Sunlounger - Mediterranean Flower
Paul-Oakenfold - Southern Sun
The Junior D - Synth To Love
Buddha Bar - Ocean - Playa Blanca (mp3) (Full Video)
Buddha Bar - Ocean - Cetacea (mp3) (Full Video)

Ambient: The most relaxing genre of music!
Ambient Nights CD1 (Mixed by Hephaestion)

Psybient and Psychill: Psychedelic variants of Ambient and Chill-out
Shpongle - When Shall I Be Free?
Shpongle - The Stamen Of The Shaman
Shpongle - Exhalation
Shpongle - Around the World in a Tea Daze
Shpongle - A New Way to Say Hooray
Infected Mushroom - Elation Station
Infected Mushroom - Shakawkaw
Infected Mushroom - Elevation
Wylhelm - Trip Complete
Koala & Xentrix - Infinite Dream
Zi - Blue Home
Pink Floyd - Shine on You Crazy Diamond [Psychedelic Rock]

Dark Ambient: Horror Movies kind of music
Lustmord - Strange Attractor
Lustmord - Deep Calls to Deep
Desiderii Marginis - Forlorn Pt 2

In this series:
Music - Part 1: The Journey
Music - Part 2: Psychedelic Trance Favorites
Music - Part 3: Downtempo Favorites
Next: Music - Part 4: Favorites From All The Spectrum

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Misunderstanding Generosity

Generosity is a good quality in a person. However, many people misunderstand the concept of generosity, especially Arabs (or at least Jordanians, because that's where I observed the questionable behaviors). One such observation I notice it commonly when I take a cab in Jordan.

Everytime I get a cab to get home, the Taxi driver says: "5leeha 3laina" [translation: "It's on me"]. Now, this is a very ignorant response, because I would be put in a situation where I have to convince him to take my money!! How ridiculous is that?! Basically, I need to convince someone to take what's rightfully theirs!

This type of behavior is not only observed with Taxi drivers, but rather in many of the social aspects of life. Another very common example is when friends or acquaintances pay for something and then refuse when you offer to pay them back. Many many annoying habits that people have. And in my opinion, this is a social plague that needs to end. Giving up your rights has become a social norm!! That is indeed a scary observation, and it affects society in many aspects. Giving up your rights is not an act of "politeness" or "generosity".

And this form of misleading social norms influences the political arena. People are shy to make demands, ask for their rights, or require fairness. Someone who is not afraid to demand his rights, or requesting to be treated fairly and respectfully is seen as an obnoxious person, rather than a hero in the difficult times when rights are abused and taken away without reservation.

This madness has got to stop!

PS: Inspired by this entry

Rude Awakening: Wake The Fuck Up

Papa Roach in "Stop Looking Start Seeing":
Hit or miss, fuck or fight
Put yourself in my shoes
Would you stand up for your rights
Line em up and knock em down
I'm not running scared tonight

I have climbed these walls before
And I'm not scared anymore
There's a time to lead and a time to follow

Because I won't take this anymore (these walls)
I've climbed these walls before (these walls)
There's a time to lead and a time to follow (these walls)

I see the walls closing in
And I feel I'm in danger
My enemy is not alone
In the mirror, there's a stranger
As I tried to break out
My panic led to fear
Hopeless, I am alone
I'm afraid the end is near

Stop looking
Start seeing NOW
(Full lyrics)

Papa Roach in "Blanket of Fear":
I am awake under this blanket of fear
and I must say,
None of the people I see belong here
Now everyone's asleep
I am awake and I am dreaming
I believe it's time for the rude awakening

So hold on to your dreams
Because your nightmares might seem like your reality
Hold on to your dreams
Because your nightmares might seem like your reality

I believe the only thing we have to fear is
Fear itself, and the man behind the curtain
I heard him say: dreamers are becoming an endangered species
And I'm aware of the rude awakening (Full lyrics)

Papa Roach in "Tyranny of Normality":
Our culture has become complacent, and has no desire,
and the ethical slaughter of
truth needs to be retired, retired

It's the tyranny of normality
It's the tyranny of normality

Since the death of outrage, I want to turn a new page!!
I mourn the death of our age,
the obituary is on the front page (Full lyrics)

Rage MORE!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adam and Eve - The First Sinners

According to the mythology of the Judeo-Christian tradition, Adam and Eve were created by God. And they were created in a state where they lacked the capacity to know of good and evil. However, there was a tree, called "The tree of knowledge of good and evil". A tree which if they eat from they will get the capacity to know of good and evil. However, God forbids Adam and Eve to eat from that tree.

But Satan, manifested as a serpent, lures Eve to taste the forbidden fruit. Eve falls into the temptation and prompted Adam to do the same. And so they both ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but when God discovers that both Adam and Eve have eaten from the forbidden tree, he punishes them for defying his will. They have sinned, and needed to be punished!!

But Adam and Eve had no concept of good and evil... How could they have sinned if they didn't have the concept of good and evil?! How would Adam and Eve know that defying God's will is an act of evil?! The concept simply isn't present in their mind!

While their actions might be interpreted as evil and sinful, but they clearly had no malice intent... Again, because they had no concept of good and evil! So the question begs itself: Why would God punish Adam and Eve -and all of their descendants- when they clearly lacked the awareness of the significance of their actions?!

Biblical References:
Old Testament: (PDF)
Genesis 2:16-17 [God forbids Adam to eat from the tree]
Genesis 3:1-5 [Satan convinces Eve to eat from the tree]
Genesis 3:7-11 [What happened when Man has eaten from the tree]
Genesis 3:16-23 [The punishment of Adam and Eve]

What Would Jesus NOT Do?

Jesus, the son of God, who also happens to be God himself has come to earth! What a miraculous wonder. One has to wonder what went through God's mind while planning for this miraculous event, but wonder no more, this is a sneak peek into Jesus planing his visit to earth.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Question For Readers

Which scenario makes more sense to you? Which scenario you think you most likely engage in practice?

1- Loving someone, and building a relationship with them using that love as a solid foundation for the relationship.


2- Having a relationship with someone, and building the love on the solid foundation of the relationship.

Please share your thoughts. I am hoping that this question will trigger some sort of discussion.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Who Are You?

"To be yourself in a world that does its best to make you like everybody else, is the hardest battle to fight, and to keep fighting."

E. E. Cummings

Keep fighting... For your own sake!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Theory and Psychology of Honor

When talking about Honor there are various concepts that need to be identified: Valuables, Honor, Reputation, Honor Codes, and Honor Systems.

Lets make a rough definition of each of those concepts:
Valuables: It is a set of material possessions and conceptual values that are considered to be valuable for the individual, and an important asset to their survival value. The most common examples of valuables: Land ownership, houses and real-estate, family members, reputation, and livelihood.
Honor: Acts of aggression to anyone who takes or threatens those valuables. Common examples of honor acts include: A house owner who shoots a burglar who broke into his house, a person who revenges the murder of a family member, a husband who kills his wife for sexual infidelity, a person who kills another in self-defense.
Reputation: The knowledge of people that a person would act in a specific manner in response to a specific situation. Examples include: A person having a reputation of accepting bribes when offered one, a person having a reputation of engaging in violent fights when insulted, a person having a reputation for enacting revenge upon anyone who crosses his path.
Honor codes: The set of reputations of specific action tendencies in matters of Honor of a particular individual. Examples include: Action tendency to killing burglars if they break into your house, action tendency to kill a cheating wife, action tendency to protect your family in dangerous situations. To be more elaborate, honor code is not only the action tendency, but it also includes a declaration of those action tendencies. So in the example of killing the cheating wife, honor code is established when the husband lets his wife know beforehand that cheating will result in death, as this is the part where the reputation of action tendencies is created.
Honor system: The collection of honor codes of various individuals and the system that results from the various interactions of the individuals and their honor codes. Those individuals might have common interests, or conflicting interests depending on the specific situations.

Honor and reputation are very important concepts in terms of survival. It is the mechanism that creates penalty for attempting to take or threaten an individual's valuables. An individual's tendency to act aggressively makes him capable of protecting his own, and other people's knowledge of someone's capacity for hostile retaliation acts as proactive measure against being threatened in the first place.

Any serious discussion about Honor must address the issue of reputation. So, first, I will address the topic of reputation.

The theoretical basis of Reputation using Game Theory

Game Theory provides an understanding of the mechanisms through which reputation emerges. Economists, evolution theorists, and evolutionary psychology all use game theory for analytical models in those theories. I will provide few examples to illustrate this point.

Example 1:
First, let's take an example in Economics. This is a popular textbook example, and many people might be familiar with it. In this example, we hypothesize a situation where one company has a monopoly for a particular product or service. Assume that the monopolist has yearly income of 3 million dollars. One company is considering entering the market. At this point, the monopolist has two alternative strategies: Either to fight the entrant, by driving prices very low, at the risk of making no profit for that year. If the monopolist chooses this strategy, the entrant company will suffer losses of 1 million dollars, and will be forced to exit the market. The other strategy is to allow the competitor to enter the market, and sell products at a competitive price, such that the both companies would make 1 million dollars per year.

Monopolist Entrant
Not Enter 3mil$ profit 0$ profit
Enter with Fight 0$ profit 1mil$ loss
Enter without Fight 1mil$ profit 1mil$ profit

One thing the monopolist might do, is to announce to all companies that intend to enter the market that they will fight. Any competitor who actually believes that the monopolist will fight would not enter the market, because they know that the end result will be a net loss of 1 million dollars.

But some competing company might think: "Yes, they say they will fight, but that's just a scare tactic. However, if we actually enter the market, they will not fight us, because they want to create profit, so they will not fight because making one million dollars in profit is better than no profit at all!". So, lets say this company decides to enter the market.

What should the monopolist do? If they decide to fight, in the short-term, they will suffer because they are not making any profits. However, in the consequent years they will still make good profits, better than those they would have if they allowed competition to enter the market.

Another concern is: What if in the next year some other company decided to enter the market, should the monopolist fight them as well? Again, fighting in the short-term seems undesirable. But one thing is left out of the equation, which is reputation. Once the monopolist had enacted the threats they made, it is much less likely that another company will try to enter the market. The monopolist had made an example of that previous company, and anyone who suggests that the monopolist was bluffing will be forced to reconsider. The monopolist is said to have created a reputation of fighting competitors.

Example 2:
The prisoner's dilemma is another example of emergent behavior where reputation plays an important role. The prisoner's dilemma hypothesizes a situation where two suspects are held for interrogation. The police does not have enough evidence to convict them. Both suspects are offered the same deal: If you rat out the other suspect and they stay silent, you will walk out free, and the other suspect will get a five-years sentence. If you stay silent, and the other suspect rats, you will get a five years sentence, and the other suspect will walk out free. If you both rat each other, each of you will get a three-years sentence. If you both stay silent, you will be sentenced for one-year for a minor offense.

Prisoner A silent Prisoner A rat
Prisoner B silent 1 year for both 5 years for B
Prisoner B rat 5 years for A 3 years for both

The trick in this scenario is that both suspects have motive to rat the other person out. Regardless of what the other person does, you get the better part of the deal by being a rat. If the other person was a loyal and remained silent, you will go free by ratting him. If the other person was a rat, you will get a three-years sentence instead of five-years sentence.

However, the dilemma is that when both of them chooses to rat, they will both get three-years sentence, when it would have been better if they both could stick to staying silent, and just serve one-year sentence. The idea here is that by both being self-interested and uncooperative they get the worse part of the deal (3-years), although if they were cooperative and trusting they would have got a better deal (1-year).

So now, if we let reputation enter the picture. If both suspects had a reliable reputation of being cooperative and not rats, each one of them can trust the other person to stay silent. And none of them would rat the other person, because this will break their good reputation, and if a similar occasion arises their bad reputation will get them the bad part of the deal.

Evolution of Honor as a Psychological Mechanism

It is important to understand that evolution is a slow process, it takes ages to develop. And evolution is also a heuristic process, in the sense that it does not provide optimal solutions in minimal time, but rather depends on random occurrences, epiphenomena, indirect solutions to problems. In evolutionary psychology, psychological mechanisms are processes that arise to help solve certain problems that humans faced for prolonged periods of time. However, psychological mechanisms can be indirect solutions to problems. For example, sexual pleasure and sexual desire are epiphenomena that drive individuals to engage in acts that will likely cause them to procreate. So sexual desire is a psychological mechanism using which nature ensures that individuals procreate. Loving your child is a psychological mechanism using which nature ensures that parents look out for their children after they are born. And finally Honor is a psychological mechanism that ensures that individuals fend off for the things that improve their chances of survival.

However, as mentioned earlier, evolution is heuristic. For example, from procreation point of view, a sterile man or woman has no value for sexual desire. But the thing is, when people experience sexual desire, they are not directly thinking of procreation, and that's what it means to call it a psychological mechanism; Procreation is a by-product of sexual desire, but the psychological experience itself is not defined by procreation.

So when we apply what we discussed to the concept of Honor, we see that Honor is a psychological mechanism that solved problems for humans in the past. One problem is parental investment. From a parent's perspective, he or she is investing time and effort to support the immediate family. However, this behavior is usually motivated by a desire to invest in one's own offspring. Your children carry your genes so protecting them has survival value. However, if you were investing time and effort in some child, it is important to be sure that they carry your genes. When it comes to women, this is typically not a problem, because when she gets pregnant the child is without doubt her own. However, when it comes to men, things become less obvious. For this purpose, sexual fidelity becomes valuable. For the most part of human evolution, the technology of DNA tests was not available, and consequently the only way to be sure was to require sexual fidelity.

In this example of sexual infidelity, one question arises: What is the best strategy to handle infidelity? Several answers come to mind: Homicide is arguably one solution. Abandonment, abortion, DNA testing also seem like viable solutions. It is important to note that DNA testing is a recent technology, so human evolution has not yet adapted to the existence of this technology, and so our psychological mechanisms are unlikely to factor this option in. Homicide is a very aggressive solution, yet it is commonly used. This is for several reasons. For one, severe aggression imposes a high cost on sexual infidelity. Another reason is to create reputation and precedence which would deter future partners from sexual infidelity.

Just as the case of a sterile person having sexual desire seems misplaced. Honor can at times be misplaced, and sometimes even go plainly wrong. In the case of a husband killing his wife, some anomalies exist. What if the woman was sterile? What if she was using birth control? What if she was menstruating? These are situations where sexual infidelity might seem inconsequential, yet Honor is provoked because it is a psychological mechanism that is experienced independently of its purpose.

There are cases where Honor has obviously gone wrong. The most obvious example is suicide practiced by the Samurai as a form of Honor. This form of Honor is very counter-productive and provides no survival value, quite the contrary! There are other cases which are not as obvious. For example, Honor crimes committed against female family members. While in the case of a husband killing his wife, the reasons are pretty much obvious. It is much less obvious why a father would be concerned about sexual infidelity, premarital sex, or illegitimate children of his daughter. From an evolutionary perspective, immediate family members protect each other because they share some genes. Killing one's offspring seems like a waste of the time and resources invested in the upbringing of the offspring. However, this kind of behavior is not as clear as the case of Samurai suicide. At this point, the concept of Honor systems plays a major role.

Emergence of Honor Systems

Individuals in a society interact, and interactions lead to divergence of interests and creation of conflicts. Let's take the example of a father killing his daughter for premarital sex as a case study. In this scenario, it is clear that a parent has no immediate reason to make such a response. In fact, at first glance it might seem like a counter-productive behavior. However, once we realize that this parent lives in a society where individuals have their own agendas and honor codes the picture changes. The parent has invested time and effort in the upbringing of his offspring. But this interest does not end at his immediate offspring, but also in the offspring of his offspring. So given that men have developed psychological mechanisms that makes them avoid non-virgin women as partners, conflict of interests arises. Even though the parent may not have immediate concern of who the father of his grandchildren is, he is still concerned that his daughter procreate because a dead-end offspring has very little survival value. As a consequence, a need to protect the investment in his offspring arises. This example shows how Honor codes of the individuals is influenced by the Honor codes of other individuals who they interact with. The result of this process is an Honor system.

It becomes obvious that interactions between members of a society shapes and reshapes their conception of Valuables and the Honor codes that they have, and adapts to situational circumstances that the individual faces during their course of life.

Emergence of Law and Order

As societies progress, Honor systems become unwritten laws that societies abide in their day to day life to avoid aggressive conflict. However, as the social order among these societies keeps advancing, those unwritten laws usually transform into written laws that are used to keep order in those societies. While it might be a normal occurrence in some societies to shoot thieves that break into one's house to protect one's property, this type of transgression is now customarily handled by the police and courts to settle those sorts of conflicts.

In a civilization of law and order, it is usually discouraged that people take the law into their own hands and seek retribution. However, there are occasions when the law does not satisfy the needs of the individuals, and consequently, some individuals become determined to enact retribution outside the framework of the law.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raped And Abused

Mortal Love in "All the Beauty":
All the beauty I see
All the beauty I feel
All the beauty I hear
All the beauty in the world
Ain't nothing compared to you

I adore you everyday
I love you everyday
I got all the time in the world
To wait for you

I'm in love with you (Lyrics)

PS: This post is a spin-off of Sado Maso 1/2.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Music - Part 2: Psychedelic Trance Favorites

Trance music has gained lots of popularity in recent years, especially in Europe. There are many divisions of trance. Some above-ground circles that focus on Vocal Trance and Uplifting Trance. However, my taste goes more to the wondrous world of psychedelic trance, which is mostly considered to be underground music although it has so much influence on the above-ground scene.

Psychedelic Trance is mostly music-only without lyrics. It is more obscure in its nature, more emotional in the sense that it has strong capacity to cause mood swings, and more trippy in the sense that it stirs your imaginations and causes your mind to experience 'mental trips' (journey through imagination land).

The psychedelic trance has three main styles:
1- Goa trance
2- Full-on Psytrance
3- Dark Psytrance

I have compiled a list of some of my favorites.

First, let's explore Goa Trance. Music exported from India in a coastal city named Goa, a city where there is a party every night whole year long! This is the most accessible style of Psychedelic Trance. Very easy to get sucked into the mood. It makes it easy for someone who never listened to Psychedelic Music to get what this sort of music is all about.

1- Electric Universe: Best Goa Trance I know of! No contest! Just let your mind wander, and ass shake... That's all you need to enjoy their music.
1a- Radio S.P.A.C.E: That's the song that made me fall in love with this group. It literally gave me the feeling that I am dancing in deep space, with the darkness lit up by little stars in the skies all around. Never gonna forget that feeling! (mp3)
1b- Freakuencies: Music is made up of frequencies, but this one is not made of ordinary frequencies, it is made of freakuencies. (mp3)
1c- Silence In Action: (mp3)
1d- Visiting Venus: Must hear! (mp3)
1e- Orange Night: Must hear! (mp3)

2- Cosmosis:
2a- Afterglow: (mp3)
2b- Psychofunk: (mp3)
2c- In Yer Face: Something a little bit more upbeat, a little more energetic. (mp3)

3- Random Picks: Okay, no specific artists... Just whatever feels right! [Using Artist - Title convention.]
3a- Astral Projection - Mahadeva: Another energetic track, where things go a bit faster than usual. (mp3)
3b- Curly Whirly Spirits - Stoned Again: This one is really screwed up, prepare to become insanely psychotic! (mp3)
3c- Man With No Name - Lunar Cycle: Another psychosis inducing track! (mp3)
3d- Hallucinogen - L.S.D.: Mind bending! (mp3)

Let's go now to the Full-on psytrance category. This genre of music is intense and full of energy, hence the name "Full-on"!! Born on the dance-floors of Israeli nightclubs in late 90's, and ever since became a a widely recognized form of trance.

4- Infected Mushroom: One of the leaders of Full-on psytrance. Their music is controversial with lots of ups and downs, however their brave attitude in experimenting with new sounds has guaranteed them a place in the spotlight. Although technically, they are considered Full-on Psy, they do not hesitate to go to the dark side, which gives them a refreshing mixture between the light and darkness.
4a- Ballerium: This is one of their very eccentric productions. It is not exactly psytrance, it has dark psychill influences (which has a slow tempo). I have to admit that it is not an easy song, especially for those who are new to the scene. It is one of my all time favorites. (mp3)
4b- Deeply Disturbed: One of the most popular songs among fans. I like this song, but I wouldn't count it as one of the best. (mp3)
4c- Baby Killer: This song has influences from Dark Psytrance. In other words, it blows your brains out!! (mp3)
4d- Cities of The Future: One of my absolute favorites of the vocal song for Infected Mushroom. I love it mostly for the brilliant lyrics. (mp3)
4e- Becoming Insane: Another favorite of vocal songs. (mp3)

5- 1200 Micrograms: Another full-on psytrance group. Very unique style, with large diversity among their different songs and albums. Their music is full of energy, it won't give you a minute to take a breath!!
5a- Let's Get This Party Started: One the most straightforward songs that they produced. Straight to the point, no games, no bluffing, just pure energy to start your journey of partying! (mp3)
5b- God of Rock: Another straightforward production that will keep you dancing through the night. (mp3)
5c- Stoned Henge: A trippy production that lets your mind wander. (mp3)
5d- Numbers are Alive: 24 minutes of pure mind-blowing music. (mp3)
5e- DMT: Take the red pill and have a trip with Neo inside the Matrix. (mp3)

6- Astrix: One of the big names in the Full-on psytrance scene.
6a- Sex Style: Sexy and funky, these are the words I'd use to describe this song! Will definitely hype the dance-floor. (mp3)
6b- Underbeat: Must hear! (mp3)
6c- Beyond the Senses: This song has a very tribal feel to it, it always makes feel like I am living with a tribe in the Amazon or something! (mp3)

Finally, we are going to the dark side... Dark Psytrance just like the Full-on Psytrance is intense, but it is even pushier. Simply put, this music is a mindfuck! Beware, not for amateurs.

7- Parasense: A music act from Moscow. My favorite of this style.
7a- Vesna: (mp3)
7b- Linda rmx: This one has vocals in Russian (I think). (mp3)
7c- Ritual of Drugs: (mp3)
7d- Amazon Travel: Something to eradicate all thought from your mind! (mp3)

8- Random Picks:
8a- Bizzare Contact - Ice Age (psytekk): If you don't remember your own name after listening to this song, don't be alarmed... It happens! (mp3)
8b- Bizzare Contact VS Electro Sun - Eye Contact (psytekk): Another song that can make you forget your name! (mp3)
8c- Cujorious One - The Art Of Mindfucking: Who said mindfucking isn't an art?! (mp3)

Okay, this was a long post with many recommendations. Every song is unique in it's own right, and there is lots of diversities in those songs. Hope you enjoyed at least some of the recommendation I made. However, one good way to listen to psychedelic trance is to have a good collection and let your player shuffle through them, because it takes some time to get into the mood, and hence listening one song at a time might not give required effect.

In this series:
Music - Part 1: The Journey
Music - Part 2: Psychedelic Trance Favorites
Music - Part 3: Downtempo Favorites
Next: Music - Part 4: Favorites From All The Spectrum

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Music - Part 1: The Journey

My journey with music started out early, around the age of 7. I started out with English pop music, more specifically bands of five. Backstreet Boys, Aqua, Five, and Spice Girls are all the big names that quickly come to mind. So many good memories. However, around the age of 13 I was introduced to rap, with Eminem's album Marshal Mathers LP. It was the very first time I listened to something that changed my mind and convinced me to modify my taste in music. My journey with rap was relatively short, after around one year, I was introduced to alternative rock. However, my taste did not change dramatically. I listened to both rap and alternative rock for around two years, and my taste in music changed slowly, until I was about 16 when I started listening exclusively to rock, and my taste in rock started expanding beyond alternative rock, to include many of the other styles in the rock and metal category.

I have to say, rock is great, it stuck with me for a very long time... I still listen to rock/metal although not as exclusively as I used to.

After I entered university, my taste started expanding once more. I started experimenting with non-vocal songs, classical music was my first experiment, and I loved it. I Listened mostly to Beethoven, and a little bit to other classical artists. Later on, I started experimenting with instrumental music. Guitar, Oud, and Piano were my earliest choices... I loved them too. I experimented with all of those types of music, but rock/metal remained my number one choice. And I also started listening to a handpicked selection of Arabic music. Fairouz was pretty much my number one choice. I also liked: Lena Chamamyan, Dina Hayek, and Ziad Rahbani. And to a lesser extent: Ruby (esp. Enta Aref Laih), Haifa Wehbi, and Nancy Ajram.

Until one day it happened. Around the age of 20, I listened to psychedelic trance, and fell in love instantly. There is simply nothing like it, nothing as good, nothing as beautiful. That was my second dramatic change in taste of music. I started listening to psychedelic trance exclusively, but this did not stay for long. Psychedelic trance opened my mind to a whole new world of music. Psychedelic trance, simply put, changed my idea of what music is, the most dramatic shift in taste that I ever experienced. For this reason, I had to check out other genres given my radically changed understanding of music. Uplifting trance (the most common form of trance) hit a major chord. Jazz was also lovely. After I started listening to Jazz, I started re-experimenting with instrumental music, but this time my choices were Saxophone and Violin. I also love downtempo genres such as Chill-out, Ambient, and Lounge.

On this day, psychedelic trance remains my number one choice, with a more generalized taste for instrumental and electronic music. And I still love to listen to rock/metal because I love their lyrics and energy.

In this series:
Music - Part 1: The Journey
Music - Part 2: Psychedelic Trance Favorites
Music - Part 3: Downtempo Favorites
Next: Music - Part 4: Favorites From All The Spectrum

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Intimacy Process Model

In psychology, one of the important theories is what is referred to as the "intimacy process model". Intimacy is a sense of closeness, familiarity, and affect toward another person. Intimacy plays a major role in interpersonal relationships as it is the basis of friendship and love. In this post we will look at the intimacy process model to have a better understanding of how intimacy is cultivated in interpersonal relationships.

To help put things in perspective, let's look at a diagram that sums up what this model suggests:

In this diagram, 'A' is someone who is disclosing information about him/herself to 'B' (I'll use the male pronoun for 'A' from this point on). Any kind of information that a person counts as significant about themselves counts. 'A' could be talking about a book they read, a movie they watched, an experience they had. 'A' could be talking about their feelings towards 'B' or someone else. Or he might be discussing some of their hopes, dreams, fears, ...etc.

Once 'A' shared some personal information, he is going to observe 'B''s reaction. 'A' is looking for confirmation from 'B'. The idea is that the feelings of intimacy that 'A' experiences towards 'B' will grow, insofar that 'A' feels understood, validated, and cared for. 'A' will be asking himself questions like: Does this person get me? Can he/she relate to what I am talking about? Does this person like me more or less now that I shared this information? Does this person's reaction show them to have interest in me?

'B''s reaction depends on two things, his/her interpretation of the information being revealed, and his/her own set of motives, needs, goals, and fears. 'B''s interpretation will depend on many factors, including -among others-: Past experiences, prejudices and biases, goals and dreams, fears, cultural background, sometimes even state of mind (eg. angry, excited, aroused).

Once 'B' has responded to 'A', now the same process of interpretation is going to happen. 'A' will interpret 'B''s reaction, and depending on how much his interpretation of 'B''s reaction is perceived as a sign of understanding, validation, and caring intimacy will grow. And of course, the cycle continues as long as 'A' keeps revealing information about themselves during the course of the relationship.

Needless to say, intimacy needs some balance. In other words, sharing and revealing of information should be a two way road. Both persons need to disclose something about themselves during conversations that take place in the course of the relationship. Lack of disclosure about personal information is usually perceived as lack of interest.

This process is significant throughout all the interactions between people, right from the moment you first meet a person, and all through the later stages of the relationship. It is important to be aware of how intimacy works, and how it is affecting your relationships with others.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Smile Empty Soul

Smile Empty Soul in "Nowhere Kids":
In the land of dirt and plaster
Lies an army of a thousand nowhere kids
Losing ground and falling faster
Into a life that no one should have to live

We are the people that you hate
We are the bastards that you created
A generation with no place
A generation of all your sons and daughters

Behind the fake family image
Behind the smile of a thousand moms and dads
Inside the cage that we've been given
I see an image of the future that we don't have

We are the people that you hate
The fucking bastards that you created
A generation with no place
A generation of all your sons and daughters

And what did you expect ... a perfect child
Raised by TV sets ... abandoned every mile
We never get respect ... never a fair trial
No one gives a shit ... as long as we smile... (Full lyrics)

Remember kids, everything will be alright, as long as you smile! :)