Deep Thoughts

I had one of those moments where it feels like you’ve thought of something really profound, but it’s also something completely obvious. Here is the thing I thought of:

Everything in life is preparing for doing, doing, and cleaning up after doing. Doing is all we do.

This miraculous epiphany came to me as I was tidying up after baking cookies. I’d been thinking about how people spend a lot of time and effort preparing to do things like go kayaking and then doing those things and then putting everything away after, and how I used to spend a lot of time and effort this way for hiking and photography, and how after roughly a year and a half of rarely doing anything outside the home, going to all that effort just to do something outside can seem so pointless. Over the long weekend I put together a TV stand (with a fireplace in it!). I also made blueberry muffins from fresh blueberries I picked at a friend’s house, but I didn’t hear the timer for some reason and they got a little burnt. This is why the next day I made cookies. All of these things involved a lot of preparation, time for the actual doing, and cleanup. And I thought, this is all there is. This is life.

We do some things because we must in order to survive. We do some things to help others. And we do some things, like the kayaking and hiking and photography, because we enjoy them. We expend effort on them because they are worth it to us.

Depression is not wanting to do things because you don’t see the point. Or at least, it is for me. Depression is not finding that enjoyment in anything.

I have paid attention to my depression for long enough that I can tell when I am in danger of slipping into it, and that has been very useful for managing it. My depression is not caused by not doing things, but not doing things can exacerbate it.

Thinking that “all there is to life is doing” felt like a depressive thought yesterday, but pragmatically, it’s just a general description of activity. There are so many variations possible within those loose guardrails.

I had my bike tuned up the other day. It’s a pain in the ass to get it up to street level from our apartment, and it’s a pain to get it out of the apartment complex too—I either have to half-carry it down a cliff, push it up a hill that is a struggle just to walk up, or shove it into the back of my car and take it somewhere else. But cycling is something I used to do all the time, regardless of the effort involved, because I loved it. Hopefully, I can recapture that feeling. Hopefully, I can start wanting to expend effort on doing things outside the home again.

Filters, censorship, and overload

Maybe we have to accept that there are way too many people in the world who, as adults, do need to be treated like children because they didn’t learn the lessons of childhood.

Jonathan Dresner of Frog in a Well touches on a problem that I’ve been pondering for years. When is omission censorship? How much do people need to know? Is there a way to make information available without connotation? Without harm? How much should you tell someone, child or adult?

If you tell too little, you risk inserting your own bias into what you do tell. But if you tell too much, it can be overwhelming…and you still might not be telling enough.

How can we place filters on the world around us so we can receive the information we need?

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An interesting snippet from the first maru-ma light novel

Yuuri is having dinner with the previous Maou and her family, as shown in the anime. They get to talking about what Yuuri’s world is like, and he mentions science and technology. At first everyone’s response is that the humans have things like that to try and kill people from a long distance away, but Yuuri quickly says that he’s not talking about war technology, but technology for improving people’s lives.

“Wait wait wait, I didn’t mean that kind of science! In short, well, umm, machines that will do troublesome chores like cleaning and laundry, and machines that will plow fields all at once. In short, stuff to make daily living more comfortable.”

Cheri seems sweetly surprised.

“I don’t think cleaning and laundry are troublesome. That’s the job of the cleaning men and laundry women.”

I didn’t even think about how the queen lives up to now.

“So, so, instead of people in charge of cleaning or laundry, you’d have a machine.”

“If that’s so, the servants lose their jobs?”

“If that happens, those people work at factories to build vacuum cleaners and washing machines…”

I don’t really know if people can live easily.

Translation from Onadoru Euphoria.

I read a utopian story once–can’t remember the name, thought it was by Doctorow but am having trouble locating it–in which robots did all the menial tasks, freeing up people to pursue whatever activities they desired. People’s pursuits were profitable because there was typically a market for them. The pursuits were also typically creative. Unfortunately, to reach this point of bliss, the world had to go through a period of war, during which the US created the robots now being used to better people’s lives. In the story, the US was pretty totalitarian, and the utopia was in Australia.

I love the idea of people being free to do whatever pleases them, but I wonder if that’s even possible. Not everyone is as self-motivated as the author of that story (though we certainly wish we were sometimes!). So if people really were free to do whatever they wanted, would things really be different from now? Wouldn’t quite a few people sit around wallowing in boredom, watching TV, supported by the infrastructure and entertained by the people who did have motivation? And what about people who just want to have fun, and don’t care about producing anything or offering a service? I, for example, want to travel and eat. How would those things better society?

(And who maintains the robots?)

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting to see that sort of philosophical question appear in maru-ma.

(By the way, “maru-ma” is the term used to encompass all facets of the story which was made into an anime called Kyou Kara Maou. The light novels have names with variations on “Ma no Tsuku“, for example. The common thread among all these is the “Ma”, roughly meaning “demon”, which is always enclosed in a circle, called “Maru”, hence “maru-ma“.)