Diary - mid May

This post was written 1 year ago.
Sun, 19 May 2019
A week since my last entry, and so much seems to have changed, again. Not outwardly so much. All in the mind.

A couple of hours ago, I received an email newsletter. It is written by Zeynep Tufekci. She says of it "It's an experiment: longer writing that is not public writing." It can be found here: https://tinyletter.com/zeynepnotes. This new editon, not added to the archive yet, quite threw me. It clarified something for me. Recently, I had been thinking this: We are determined by so much more than our genes and our environment. We are a continuation of all our ancestors' lives. They play out through us, and it can be surprising. This is not what Zeynep Tufekci wrote about, but the common thread is this: Genes and personality is not enough to explain why people act in the ways they do.

In her newsletter, Zeynep pointed to this article she wrote for Scientific American: The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones. I think it is brilliant. — I have not watched GOT, though it has always intrigued me. I have read up on the story and characters, watched a summary, and then watched this current season's first episode. But it seemed a bit boring to me, and some of the acting wooden. I then heard from my colleague Alex that in seasons 7 and 8 it had got a lot worse. Zeynep thinks that too, and her analysis of why it happened, is compelling and fascinating (despite my not having watched the series). Sociological storytelling has been replaced by psychological narrative. Previously, you could understand why under certain circumstances, characters acted the way they did, even the bad ones. There were outside pressures and incentives. Now things are explained from individual predispositions, which is what Hollywood commonly does. The hero/antihero narrative whith good and evil characters. And when you do that, you cannot kill off your main characters because you rely on them to carry the psychologically motivated story. Zeynep then compares this to our current times. Much is pinned on individual people: Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Bezos, Dorsey etc. But the resulting society is not so much shaped by individuals, but by what is punished and incentivised. The structures determine much more than individual people do.

Taking it into another direction, on a personal level, I find it more comforting. There is a reason for the ways I act, the things I do. Not that I want to use that as an excuse! Things that make absolutely no sense on one level, have an explanation. I can trace back and understand the steps that got me there. But it can still be a mess, and I guess the challenge is then to find ways to resolve it.

I'd have liked to write so much more. I wanted to make so many plans. But really they are all in my head and I just need to write them down. I hope!

Tags: diary /