In fact, when the lights go out, our brains start working–but in an altogether different way than when we’re awake. At night, a legion of neurons springs into action, and like any well-trained platoon, the cells work in perfect synchrony, pulsing with electrical signals that wash over the brain with a soothing, hypnotic flow. Meanwhile, data processors sort through the reams of information that flooded the brain all day at a pace too overwhelming to handle in real time. The brain also runs checks on itself to ensure that the exquisite balance of hormones, enzymes and proteins isn’t too far off-kilter. And all the while, cleaners follow in close pursuit to sweep out the toxic detritus that the brain doesn’t need and which can cause all kinds of problems if it builds up.
I think many of us get caught in a vicious cycle of thinking that would lead us to believe the only way we can be happy is to gain acceptance from others. We think to ourselves, “The only way I can ever love myself is if others do.”
This leads us down a path of self-deprecation and hopelessness. We end up making decisions purely for the sake of gaining approval and acceptance, when really we should make decisions that reflect our authentic self and life goals and aspirations.
A solitary mind is just one node in a network of other minds, bodies, objects and forces. The health of each individual node depends at least in part on the health of the network as a whole. And perhaps our social networks need to take up more responsibility for the mental and physical health of each of their nodes. A society that leaves huge numbers of its most weak and disadvantaged to fend for themselves is truly a sick society.
Johan J. John (Vía)
Time is a measure of energy, a measure of motion. And we have agreed internationally on the speed of the clock. And I want you to think about clocks and watches for a moment. We are of course slaves to them. And you will notice that your watch is a circle, and that it is calibrated, and that each minute, or second, is marked by a hairline which is made as narrow as possible, as yet to be consistent with being visible. And when we think of a moment of time, when we think what we mean by the word ‘now'; we think of the shortest possible instant that is here and gone, because that corresponds with the hairline on the watch. And as a result of this fabulous idea, we are a people who feel that we don’t have any present, because the present is instantly vanishing – it goes so quickly. It is always becoming past. And we have the sensation, therefore, of our lives as something that is constantly flowing away from us. We are constantly losing time. And so we have a sense of urgency. Time is not to be wasted. Time is money. And so, because of the tyranny of this thing, we feel that we have a past, and we know who we are in terms of our past. Nobody can ever tell you who you are, they can only tell you who they were. And we think we also have a future. And that is terribly important, because we have a naive hope that the future is somehow going to supply what we are looking for. You see, if you live in a present that is so short that it is not really here at all, you will always feel vaguely frustrated.
Laqueur’s point is not that men and women did not masturbate throughout antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance—the brief confessional manual attributed to Gerson assumes that the practice is ubiquitous, and the historian finds no reason to doubt it—but rather that it was not regarded as a deeply significant event. It is simply too infrequently mentioned to have counted for a great deal, and the few mentions that surface tend to confirm its relative unimportance.
What works in spying can also work in fiction. By the time he wrote “A Perfect Spy,” le Carré understood that espionage is an extreme version of the human comedy, even the human tragedy. It will very likely remain his greatest book.