Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Meet General Malaise

The days away from the computer, the internet, Twitter, news, and even the New York Times, turned out to be a wonderful digital detox for Major Buzzkill.  However, rest and recreation does not mean that "thinking" is sidelined.

When "thinking" continues, well, Major Buzzkill always shows up for duty in full gear.

I am so much used to "thinking" that the reality that vast numbers do not engage in thinking amazes me.  I vaguely recall GBS (?) noting that thinking is so much absent in society that if one thinks for even five minutes every day then he is considered to be a philosopher.

Perhaps the fact that we humans have to learn to think is understandable.  After all, we are animals--whatever be the fantastic stories of creation that religions might offer, with stories contradicting each other; try reconciling the Vedic commentary on creation with the narrative from the Old Testament, for instance, and you, too, will begin to transition towards atheism! ;)

As animals, we are more used to reflex and doing what others in our species do, than to act after thinking for ourselves.   Imprinting is how we learn to survive:
Imprinting is a crucial stage of development in many young mammals and birds. Among avians, the process is particularly important for species that are precocial, a.k.a mobile and self-feeding soon after hatching, says Sunny Bettley, wildlife rehabilitation and outreach specialist at Sharon Audubon. Through observation, ducklings must learn to forage and swim in order to survive, Bettley explains. They need to know whom to follow, both in terms of imitating behavior and, more literally, to avoid getting lost. For this reason, wildlife rescuers must be careful about how they approach newborn ducks, she says. “Imprinted wildlife can’t be released into the wild as they won’t know how to properly or effectively find food, be aware of natural predators, or communicate with others of their species. They will not being able to reproduce.” 
Thinking requires us to go above and beyond the animal instincts.  In one of the essays that we were assigned in high school, Isaac Asimov reminded me that thinking and reasoning are new for us humans.  Maybe thirty years after reading that essay I am expecting way too much when I want my fellow humans to be thinking beings?

Over light-hearted discussions on some serious issues during the "time off," I did a full disclosure as a preface to my views: "My alter ego's name is Major Buzzkill, who brings to discussions a clear bottom-line of 'you are screwed.'"

Without even pausing, he chimed in a response.  "You have been promoted.  You are now General Malaise."

I imagine going to a meeting of Thinking Anonymous.  When it is my turn, I stand up.  "Hello, my name is General Malaise."  The others flee from the meeting ;)

BTW, given that thinking is my chosen profession, my work, if I think even when vacationing, does it mean that the past few days were a working vacation? ;)


Ramesh said...

Hello General Malaise. Nice to meet you.

I can understand the thinking piece of it, but, pray why does it always have to conclude you are screwed. That's almost on par with your presidential candidate who's spreading such a doom and gloom picture of America that I wonder if we are talking about the same country; or even the same planet.

Thinking can also reflect the glorious side of humanity my friend. No we are not screwed, thank you.

Sriram Khé said...

Nope, we were not talking about the topics where Drumpf thinks we are screwed. The topics we talked about are the ones that Drumpf avoids. Especially climate change. Given the intense opposition from Drumpf and his party to even discussing climate change leave alone mitigating it, you (we) are screwed :(

Anne in Salem said...

Malaise? Doesn't sound right for someone who is so sharp . . .

Sriram Khé said...

Wow ... high praise from Anne. I need to buy a lottery ticket today ;)
I suspect he was playing on the common phrase "general malaise" just like "major buzzkill" is also a colloquial phrase ...

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