Monday, March 31, 2014


There's this bit early on (relatively speaking) in Tron Legacy where Jeff Bridges (Flynn) devises the perfect plan. Realising that CLU has lured his son into the grid in order to create an escape for himself. Flynn suggests they simply refuse to play, they don't make their escape thus allowing the portal to close and CLU to be thwarted.

Now imagine if you will that some problem of yours were personified. And let's assume you aren't a psychopath. You take that personified person and drop them into a pit they can't climb out of. Then you shut a grate they can't open over their heads, and flood the pit with water.

Soon your problem will be solved, you don't have to do anything, just wait. Wait for the water to rise until their head hits the grate and then shortly afterwards they drown. Except remember we've assumed you're not a psychopath. So what you do have to do, is ignore their pleas for help and mercy and the begging to stop the water and set them free.

It would, I'm assuming, be very difficult.

But many of life's problems have this nature. They simply need to be deprived of oxygen, suffocated and they simply go away. A problem that is solved simply by not engaging it, not thinking about it, not caring. It can be neglected away. But it's just so fucking hard to restrain ourselves and let the problem die.

It seems our very nature is to do something, to act, to try and control, to engage. With a concerted effort, a problem can simply go away, we can become deaf to its pleas for our attention until it suffocates.

Inaction, I have thus come to appreciate, is a very sophisticated technique. It requires I feel, a lot of maturity and self control as well. (Not an actual bounded psychopathy). In some part it relates to depravation, when we are in a position to do something, and if power = the ability to act or do. It means foregoing our power over that situation in order to let the situation resolve itself.

Just as I am now learning to reconcile with my white knight tendencies, that if people can save themselves, that is best of all. I don't need the credit, or often to even assist. I'm getting the outcome I desire, at no personal cost.

It is strange though, to think you can approach your best self, by doing less. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


3 months ago, I couldn't have anticipated the colossal yield of learning that would come from quitting KFC and then subsequently, just about everything else.

I don't think I (and hopefully won't ever) understand what it's like to quit something with serious highs, and serious withdrawal symptoms. But I do believe, in a broad stroke, even with trivial addiction the principles must be the same.

After Christopher Hitchen's death, Sam Harris changed a speech he was going to deliver, to one called 'Death & the Present Moment' which you can watch on Youtube if you got the bandwidth-download limit left, where he proposes that lacking the consolation of the afterlife, all we really have to console us is the present moment, that if we can stop worrying about a future we may not experience and simply be present this can bring you peace if but for a moment.

The catch is, that when you stop believing in an eternal afterlife, and immortal soul, there is nothing to replace that comforting thought. A material view of the universe, if adopted deprives you of that, with no real compensation.

Same to, he has made the point that all of us (in western tradition) live with such deprivation anyway, when we cease to believe in Santa Claus, we simply cease to believe and there is nothing to replace the idea of Santa that is as fun or as good.

So having now gone, I dunno, almost a month without refined sugar, which basically eliminates all dessert, I sat down with a custard apple at my friends place and discovered that a custard apple does not taste anything like custard.

I also saw some comedian on a Conan clip called Arty talk about quitting heroin and getting in shape with a personal trainer who asked him what was wrong and Arty said 'I can still remember the high of heroin and I miss it.' and the trainer said 'a running high is just as good as a heroin high' of which Arty builds a hilarious bit, but not being a fan of trying to reproduce entertainment in written blog form, lets say boils down to - there is no replacement for a heroin high.

And as good as that high sounds, we simply have to face the fact that our lives appear to work much better without it. There I am deprived of a potential experience.

I'm deprived of a lot of actual joy that I have experienced in the past, and in the point of the whole exercise, have to believe I will never experience again.

This form of self deprivation though, I've discovered is a highly useful and transferable skill. Perhaps (though I can't know) a step down the path to that amazing energy bona fide addiction beaters give off.

It's the skill to say to oneself 'that would feel good, really good, really really good then and there, but cause problems down the track. Much as I want to do it, I won't because the price I'd pay is higher.'

Easy to follow, when you are talking about heroin or something. But I believe you can apply this, to not saying 'I told you so.' to a body. You could be right, completely right, you could have been hurt by people doubting and not listening to you, and then fortune has it that you are validated. You have this opportunity to stand up and bask in that validation and you instead deprive yourself, because keeping on your current track is long term better than diverting to a brief moment of self-righteousness.

Can you see? The diet I've adopted in the absence of KFC, McDonalds, Caffeine and refined sugar is pretty unexciting, unstimulating. I'm now pretty much eating to live, not living to eat. On any given day, I could go and get me some biochemical stimulation from Zinger Box meal upgraded to bacon and cheese and upsized with Pepsi or Mountain Dew, and it would probably taste even more amazing for the months I've been deprived, and yet the disruption to my current diet, and chemistry could throw me all out of wack, reset me, I could wind up pretty much alternating between KFC and McDonalds again.

I have to abstain. I won't stoop to the indignity of pretending a Custard Apple is anything like a Custard Tart. And I won't pretend that I don't want to yell 'In your fucking face' when I succeed despite my haters, but I can go with out. There's dignity to be maintained, and the price of validating my own emotions is in many cases to the detriment of someone else's, potentially harming them.

I had no idea, nor could have foreseen such insight. I guess the moral is, try new things, new ways of living regularly, mix it up because you have no idea what will pay off where.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"You think not telling is the same as not lying don't you."

I'm struggling, ethically, morally and I guess just regular brand struggle with this question at the very moment. With any luck I'll have figured out my own answer by the end of this post, if not the end of the sentence. I think I have. But that's okay! I can still remember the quandary.

Let's rephrase it from Jack White's beautiful lyrics into something more cold and clinical:

When does omitting information become an act of deception?

Consider if you will, that I actually did put my second degree to use, and you have come to see me in my financial planner capacity. And ima gonna give you all kinds of financial advice.

I would have to morally, ethically, legally, disclose any conflict of interest. If I advised all my clients to buy my artwork, issued under a more obscure psuedonym than 'tohm' it would be as clear cut an act of deception as can be.

Because it's self serving. I serve myself upside, foist downside onto my clients.

So naturally, if I am providing a service as a professional I have to declare any vested interests. As I would as a public servant, or any policy maker.

But if I am exposed to downside, which is to say, personal risk through disclosure, it gets murkier.

I am tempted to read Sam Harris' latest book, called 'Lying' largely because I have always endeavored to be honest, transparent open. Long before Sam wrote the book, I'd already read Abraham Lincoln's advice on the matter “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” 

 Given it's appeals to efficiency, ie. that being honest could save me effort - vis a vis, honesty is the lazy man's choice. I've been attempting to emulate Abe for quite some time.

But I heard in an interview that I shall omit to disclose by who, Sam Harris synthesized his findings into - so far as any problems we have are avoidable, we can avoid them by not lying.

Examples of egregious lies are not really of concern to me. I haven't ever, nor anticipate ever putting myself in such a desperate situation. Nor even the more garden variety 'white lies' much concern to me, I don't tell people I'm busy when I'm not, I don't tell people I like their dress when I don't, etc.

The question remains, when is not saying something - a lie. Therefore a problem. An avoidable problem.

I think I have some safe examples.

1. The pre-emptive rejection. I suspect Trevor has a crush on me. For whatever reason though, Trevor doesn't ask me out, make a move, confess his feelings whatever. Could be lack of confidence. Could be that he is reading the situation right, and knows that I would not return his sentiments.

But Trevor, ever optimistically behaves in a way around me that I actually don't appreciate, and kind of wish would stop. I only suspect Trevor is crushing though. He may only suspect that I have no interest romantically in him. His suspicion of course giving him crucial wiggle room into an act of self deception.

In the social taboo of pre-emptive rejection, I have an opportunity to not be complicit at the very least in Trevor's self deception. Telling the truth, may solve the problems of all the would-be-lunch-cutters called Tonya, Tamika, Sharon and Karen that I am interested in, but it would also put an end to the special treatment, time and attention Trevor lavishes on me. It could also 'ruin the friendship'.

I feel this scenario is clear cut, because I don't actually appreciate the fawning behaviour, that means there's more upside for me to tell the truth 'Trevor we can never be more than just good friends.' Than there is downside 'Are you fucking crazy! I'm not attracted to you!'

2. Trying to be succinct, I have a problem with a 'friend' albeit, a friendship that ends never was one, I believe that shit. I have three options - voice, loyalty or exit. We all essentially have three options. I'm not going to rehash what they mean, but I in my nature summarily reject 'loyalty' (mayhaps only a recent development) which leaves 'voice' and 'exit'.

Here I personally have a clear cut decision rule - if I value and love the person I go 'voice' I actually confront them with my problem and try to resolve it. This can be taxing and energy draining. Otherwise, I just choose 'exit' when I don't particularly value the friendship.

Exit, involves basically just ditching the person. No confrontation, you're just done with them. Is this a case whereby not 'voicing' my problems, and simply cutting them off - I'm committing an act of deception. I guess the crucial piece of information that I omit is 'by not communicating why I left your life, I actually don't care enough about our relationship to try and fix it.'

But the thing is, that my problems with a person are often not isolated. I only ever speak for myself, but simply walking away from a problem can leave that person liable to repeat the same mistakes in their other relationships. Do I have a moral obligation to say 'I'm done with you and here's why...'

In the longterm, such an exchange is pure downside for everybody. But it's hard for me to apply a golden rule, how I'd like to be treated. If my life was potentially seriously held back by the condition of my fingernails, something rectifiable, but nobody was telling me to spare the emotion of such a confrontation, long run I'd really resent being left in the dark.


They are two scenarios where I think omission can become, if not an outright act of deception, at least potentially do harm.

I think, I need to disclose. There remain questions of when and how for me, but I am honestly hard pressed to reason a way into feeling better by keeping people in the dark.

Please don't get paranoid reading this that I'm keeping something from you. It's incredibly rare for me ever to have a piece of information I hesitate to share. Like once every 5 years. Hence hencely, I don't really have an answer for myself yet.

Friday, March 07, 2014


Today, I ran round Princes Park in 11'44"96 which I should feel great about, but instead I exhaled an exasperated 'fuck...' because on Wednesday I ran it 11'34"57 and it's the first time I've slowed down in a number of weeks. 10 seconds is no arbitrary thing over 3.2km, wednesday me would have beat me today by 45 meters... I think... my mathematics may or may not be complete bullshit.

Anyway, I was thinking as I often do, about Kobe Bryant. I was thinking about a lot of shit though, and I don't want to get too convoluted. But basically, I'm running a lot of late, and surprisingly pretty much injury free despite only taking one rest day a week. And in the space of a month, I've gotten to be almost as fast as I was back in high school days. Kobe? In a minute. Anyway, to get that fast, at some point you need to get your mind comfortable with being physically uncomfortable for relatively long periods of time. Like 12-13 minutes is a long time to be uncomfortable when you can just decide to be comfortable. This grasshopper is the true secret of running, that I am giving away to you. It's actually, like all sports - a mind game. I understand this. But it's kind of unnatural, your bodies all like 'I am not comfortable with sustaining this level of exertion' and your mind is all 'I need to push myself harder!' or in my literal mind's case 'give it away give it away give it away now [ad infinutum]' It's a mental task that needs deep focus, and it's hard to describe as enjoyable or unenjoyable. It's literally uncomfortable, perhaps like eating corn chips, the pointy kind that you haven't chewed enough, it can be uncomfortable but still enjoyable. Kobe? Yes, back to Kobe. He's got an incredible work ethic. Day after day after day of practice and training, that's his job. For most we'd think this work ethic unusual, we'd have to take our annual leave, and then spend our annual leave training daily. And we'd feel really uncomfortable, and probably wrecked, and our bodies may even react adversely to the regime. But for Kobe, that's normal.

Then I came home and read something on my feedly feeder where an artist wrote about beating procrastination. A fine example of domain dependent thinking in me. Over two months I've gotten to a place where I just run, whether I want to or not, because on another abstracted layer of wants and desires, I want to have run. On any given day I want to be able to run 3km in a sub 12 minute time. But in order to do that, I need to keep running.

Yet I'd come to almost the reverse conclusion with my drawing. I was coming to think that procrastination was part of the creative process. Necessary. Yet, I want to have drawn, in virtually the exact same way that I want to have run, so that today I can draw, or run at the same level.

Drawing's slightly different. When I do studies, it's about accumulating knowledge, and muscle memory. Drawing is cumulative, where as physical fitness needs to be sustained.

I think broadly speaking, I procrastinate on drawing for two different motivations -

1. Problem Solving - when I want to draw something specific, there is in my experience a tremendous gap between what you think you can visualise conceptually, and what you can shake out of your wrist onto a page. I mean, when I do portraits of people I know, you learn quickly that even though you can recognise them anywhere on the street, distinguish them from every other person on the planet, you really don't know what you look like. The brain obviously uses some fucken short cut to recognise people. Perhaps a set of facial measurements or something. We think we can close our eyes and envision our closest friends whole faces, but really it's just a few features floating in some mysterious ether. And that works not just with faces but every other composition. This form of procrastination doesn't bother me.

2. Not Feeling It - more so than saying I'm scared, but being scared is a factor. I don't draw because most of the time I don't want to draw. I'm very not addicted to drawing, I possibly wouldn't even call it my passion. (I've come to believe I can live without a passion, and that Ken Robinson may even be doing more harm than he at least thinks he might be, and possibly more harm than good) but the article I read to day, directly challenged me by actually relating to my personal experience. Whenever I get in the zone drawing, it is never because I started in the zone, I got in the zone by drawing. Every single fucking time, once I actually start drawing, I start to enjoy drawing, I can get sucked in. My productivity with each exhibition ramps up.

And now I'm drawing again. And studies too, which generally lead to improvement. Improvements I'm not even conscious of.

The hard thing though, is that I've also come to realise that our societies praise of 'hard work' is a relatively new phenomena, and I think this 'protestant work ethic' where worshipped most leads to failure on a large scale.

My early phase of reconciliation is thus. Throughout my adolescence I always wanted to get a sit up and push up regime going. Just a daily routine. Every time I tried to get it started, I'd reflect on the three months that had passed betwixt then and the prior attempt (or perhaps just conscious desire) and reflect that if I'd just done 10 minutes of them each night, I'd be a lot fitter than I was then. I'd have already been where I wanted to be. Not procrastinating doesn't mean hard work. Or even 10,000 hours. It means doing some work.

I have the same simple observation, that if you manage to get one productive thing done a day, you are going to scream ahead of your peers.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Do You Ever Get Bored of the Internet?

I do. Which I find amazing. Because the internet has literally everything on it I could ever seek out.

I find though, that it's not hard for me to go without internet connectivity, and am in part grateful to get the fuck out of the house and go somewhere and do something.

Seriously, I aggregate like a million blogs, it takes me 20 minutes to check my feed aggregator. Add facebook and email, and the internet takes only 30 minutes for me to pretty much be done with the internet for the day.

Sure notifications from facebook and emails can crop up and I'll check back in, but really, why do I only really visit 6 sites? What is the boredom a product/function of?

Is it, for example, my search skills. Relatively speaking the entertainment on offer from the internet is infinite. Just I can't find that entertainment, because I don't know what to look for. A 'can't see the forest for the trees' scenario.

Or is it, ... actually I got distracted and now have no clue what my other culprit was. I had one though. Believe it.

Sunday, March 02, 2014


So I've been trying to do less thinking (conscious-cognitive) and trust my trusty intuition more (unconscious-magical) so here as a jumping off point is something I thought:

I can't ethically defend not being a vegan. There's no reason for me not to be a vegan.

And so I concluded, that I simply didn't care. I was able to retain a skepticism that Vegan cake-and-eat-it-too claims, like that a Vegan diet was more delicious anyway, was indeed, the claim of a moron. Don't do it! Maybe that's the first thing I will actually say, because my friend Michael warned me not to become self righteous over all the (trivial) addictions I've kicked.

Because a crisp pear is not as delicious as a snickers bar. One is a marriage of fructose and fiber, the other as many sweet delicious calories into as small a space as possible. I could imagine how I could argue that pears were actually more delicious than a snickers. Why don't I? Here's how...

If you deprive yourself of refined sugar until you are past the withdrawal symptoms and cravings, then fruit will be the sweetest thing you CAN eat, without the reintroduction of refined sugar in your diet and your brain will treat it as max deliciousness! Hence it will over power any sensory memory, assuming you have some good reason to not stock up on the cheapest calories available, and you will be genuinely convinced that pears are super delicious.

BUT I have this suspicion in my heart that if I ate a snickers tomorrow, it would taste like crack cocain to me, and I would be having a really good time.

But of course, Veganism is different (unless you do it for health reasons) because your ethical considerations, may ruin animal fats, and honey for you. It may taste delicious but hurt you on the inside. I don't actually know.

Because I'm not a vegan.

But here's my question? Why not? I can close my eyes and picture a head of cattle getting a bolt gun between the eyes, being bled out, skinned, gutted and then cut up. Largely because Jon Safran showed exactly that process in his un-aired pilots for an ABC show. I can picture the industrial scale slaughter of innocent animals, farmed animals and not be moved to become vegetarian. Not even vegetarian.

I can try and empathise with a dairy cow, being hooked up and sucked dry by a machine as part of my daily life. (don't ask me to explain) and that being my life, and how much I'd dislike a life of being milked dry day after day after day.

And yet, I don't care. These techniques don't work for me.

Anyhoo, I went camping, and here's the thing. When you go sit in some wood, you think of it as 'being alone' but when you are sitting still, you look down and then you notice that maybe not biomass way, maybe not kilo for kilo, pound for pound, there's more life clustered around you than in a CBD.

Birds be calling, ants skitter about in a big line, flys buzzing, possums scurry, marsupial mice fossick, moths flutter, kookaburras laugh, fish swim, snakes slither and they all fucking eat eachother.

I mean the food chain exists, kookaburra's eat moths, I'm fairly certain no moth has ever eaten a fucken kookaburra.

Anyway, I went camping and you get to observe the food chain, live among an ecosystem and see the relationships and all that shit.

I got some intuitive spike, that was just 'eating other animals makes sense' not really as far as saying 'eating other animals is natural and therefore good' because obviously the industrial scale farming and slaughtering and exploitation of animals is artificial, a product of civilization. But I'm cool with civilization, and you are reading this I assume on a computer, thus thusly, you must be pretty cool with unnatural things too.

But I'm just picturing a leopard dragging a springbok or something up a tree, and just feel somehow my brain has done something to just think, stripping the meat from a defunct nervous system, is okay. I'm okay with it. I'm okay with someway somehow a horrible death is just part of life, and nobody should lose much sleep for the prey.

Because it's just life. Animals are just whatevering around, trying to live, and sometimes there's a conflict of living interest, and one's life is lost for the convenience of another. And there's something unintelligible there that is not unintelligent. I don't understand it, but it's what I'd honestly have to say when confronted with the most negative vegan campaign sticker on my walk home from the supermarket.

That sticker that asks me: 'Is your body a grave yard?' I'd say 'I don't know, but I'm okay with that idea.'

Actually, I observed that my body is an infinite graveyard that I can just keep putting dead things into and having space for more as a function of time. Which isn't the case with actual graveyards and their sentimental tomb stones that stick around for centuries.