Today (Sunday) was movie day. I’ve not been to the movies in quite a while and there were two that I wanted to see. The Two Towers and Star Trek; Nemesis. I took a book, a journal, and a coffee mug to the Valley River Center and ate while I waited for the movies to start. I had debated which book to take, picked up the library books and decided that the evolutionary one was waaaaaaay to big to carry around. I was in the mood for mind, so I took along The Meme Machine. Good read. The portion that I am in is discussing evolutionary psychology’s reasons for choices in mates in humans according to sex. As a good science based book should be, there are ample reference to studies given on key issues. I could not help but chuckle on the bus (and gaining stares) when I read that accordingly, females should prefer signs of wealth and power in men, and men prefer childless, young and fertile women. Jealousy then should be a healthy response (biological speaking) for different occaisions for the two sexes. What got me to laughing was the study citing researchers placing electrodes on people to study their responses when they imagined different scenarios. From page 128 of The Meme Machine by Blackmore

Martin Daly and Margo Wilson argued that if what men fear most is being cuckolded (having to take care of another man’s genetic offspring) they should be especially jealous of their partner’s sexual infidelity, whereas if what women fear most is desertion of their partners spending time and money on a rival. Many studies show that this is exactly so (Wright 1994). David Buss even wired people up with electrodes and asked them to imagine their partners having sex with someone else or forming a deep emotional attachment to someone else. For men it was the sex that caused all the physiological signs of distress; for women it was the emotional infidelity (Buss 1994)

Too damn funny! This is a great example of why philosophy needs psychology. We can sit and talk forever about how things should be, or how we might think they work. Some men are turned on with the thought of their wife with someone else, and some women aren’t bothered by the emotional bonds of a guy with another woman. Yet it is very easy for us to get our ideals mixed up with how we truly act. But this isn’t the entire story, for this is the evolutionary psychology argument and Blackmore points out that while it is illuminating, it leaves out some effects, mainly the importance of memes in selecting a mate. This lead to the central engine of memetics, the influencing of reproduction on a biological level (which was the reason for the evolution of the brain according to the theory) and the portion of the book that I am in now deals with linear, oblique, and horizontal transmission of memes. More on this later.

Time was up and I went to the movies. I splurged! I invited four different people to go to the movies with me. No takers. No problem. I bought a large bucket of popcorn (huge) with free refills and a large coke. Then I watched The Two Towers. Now if I was overly anal I could get a bit pissy about some deviations in the plot of the movie from the book, but I wont because I LOVED the movie! Who didn’t get teary eyed when Gimli told Theodine’s daughter that Aragorn had fallen? I did. The movie was great, wonderful, superb, and being Eugene there were cheers from in the crowd when the Ents destroyed Isengaard.

When the movie was up I had enough time to buy another ticket to see the Star Trek movie, refill my popcorn bucket, and get back to a seat. I had read poor reviews about this latest installment of the Star Trek movies. One reviewer said that it was really only a bigger t.v. episode. But I loved the movie, and though one reviewer that I read did give mention to the duality of the villain and Piccard and Data and B-4, he completely missed a larger question. What is the self? This question is all over this movie. It is answered several times in contradicting tones and one is left at the end of the movie with another answer, but unconclusive. Will B-4 be another Data? Will he be a Data-like B-4? Only the most obtuse of personalities could have missed such an obvious question as this at the end of the movie, and this question asks the ponderer, just what is Data, which immediately refers one to the more basic question, what is the self? Oh what a delicious question! Blackburn gives a good intro to this question in his book Think and the question is posed in several other books that I have as well. What is the self, what does it consist of?

These two movies have put me into a thinking mood. The first one, with its scenes of touching love (how I wish for a love like Aragorn’s and Elrond’s daughter, though her name escapes me at the moment), gallantry, nobility, sacrifice, courage. All of these things in this movie are very real human expressions and it is the very reality of these that gives me hope in the universe. I have no deity in my mind, no god among the heavens, because I see so much within the sphere of “human” that is worthy of praise and awe… no god is needed. I am reminded of Ratikin in the novel The Brothers Karamazov when he tells Alyosha that humanity doesn’t need a god to be virtuous, that we can be so for our own sake. This is one of the central questions to the book, and one to which I have been stuck on somewhat (I confess). However we may have evolved to this point, we are capable of imagining the most wonderful (and horrible) of ideals, and out of doing so we create them. What is courage? What is love? They may have roots in our long past, perhaps as basic fight or flight responses of common defense from a predator. But our evolved mind has expanded and we have become aware, consciousness has added new dimensions of reality. If there is a moral dimension, it lives in the thoughts (and hence the hearts) of man (for I believe that without the mind there can be no heart as we know it in our poetry).

It was well past dark and 9:30 at night when I started walking home. It was an average 30 or 40 minute walk ahead of me along the river. I welcomed it. The cold wind was sharp at first but I soon got used to it and I enjoyed the darkness of the bike path and the sound of the river lapping its rocky banks. I crossed the footbridge and turned toward home. I had gotten not far at all (the edge of Maurie Jacobs park) when I noticed a very tall Christmas tree outside a few blocks away. It towered over everything else and was visible for a good distance. It even had a star on top. I could not miss this, and so I turned from the river down the street. North Polk street it was. The tree is a tall evergreen in the back yard of a small, cozy little house with peach colored exterior. Wonderful. I stood in the street for a while and enjoyed the sight (there is no sidewalk there) before continuing my way south. I recalled this street. I had come down this street before when I first moved here. A lady a block away had an attic apartment for rent and I wanted it, but she was either totaly incompetent and lazy about getting around to leasing it to me (I had talked with her on the phone and in person several times) or she didn’t like me. I suspect the latter as her yard, porch, and inside of her house has a lot of hippie dressing about it and I do not appear the type at all. She probably took a look at me and thought that sitting under a tree in summer, drinking cider, and talking about organic gardening would not be of an interest to me. Actually that sounds quite interesting to me. But then again, what isn’t interesting to me? I walked into a porn shop a couple days ago and looked around and talked to a guy at the counter for a bit. Always looking for experiences, that’s me.

I stopped in the 7-11 close to home for some coffee. Inside I chatted with the manager before moving to the checkout. The older guy there, grey hair, Oregon Rose Bowl shirt, saw my book The Meme Machine and inquired about it. When I told him he asked a very good question, “so you’re saying that its all about symantics”. I told him no, broader. He asked if I had read Gallileo’s Daughter. I said that I had the book at home on a bookshelf, but that I had not started it. He said that it was very good. I may have to crack this book open as well. I just started Dune. Walking home I smiled to myself and loved the fact that one found unexpected things all the time.

Now I am home, I’ve been thinking about the book that I am writing, the twists that I’d like to add to it, and more importantly than plot twists or a quest are human qualities. I browsed the fantasy section in the bookstore. Picking up random books I read their back covers. Generally the same, some wizard has some article, which is the key to some event happening, sealing the fate for some kingdom, unless some hero does some thing to stop said villain. I don’t want to write a story in this vein. I’d like to write a story where the characters have personality and make the story about those personalities, with the events sort of like the physical manifestations of said personalities. All the heroes are the same, all the villains are the same. What if I could mix things up a bit? I think about my book daily. It grows in leaps and bounds in my mind, though I’ve yet to add to the printed format. I feel that I’ve got to let it incubate a bit, but it hasn’t died. It still lives, it grows.

I have a desire to go the library tomorrow and find some books on math and begin boning up on my math skills. I also want to go buy a large whiteboard so that I can hang it up in the dancers dressing room at the club. I am asked by my old girls (where I used to work) if I am putting up philosophical ideas on the whiteboard, because they want to stop by just to read them. I tell them not yet, but I will soon. I do inquire about some of the girls’ goals and dreams. I’d like to devise some system which supports their goals and dreams, perhaps keep on the lookout for other jobs and skills training. It is hard for a lot of them to give up their jobs as strippers because either they don’t have skills or they can’t give up the quick cash (and lots of it) that they make. I heard about another dancer who used to work with me has moved to Portland and is out of the industry and doing well for herself. I run into a former dancer every now and then who is almost finished with college. I am so happy for them. But lest anyone feel righteous about a dancer staying a dancer for so long, share your sympathies with the poor saps who work at jobs like McDonalds or production lines in factories for low pay, no benefits, and hazardous conditions.

My little boy has been gone a week now. I let him outside. He had found his way back twice before and I felt confident that he knew his way around now. He didn’t hiss or anything, he was really good all week but kept pestering me over and over and over to go outside and so I finally let him out. I’ve not seen him since and I will jump up and go looking outside every now and then. I miss my little boy and my girl cat misses him also.

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