In the News 06.01.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets


The Disappearance of Self in Japan

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall's pure waters.

You’re drifting in a rowboat on a quiet pond. Another boat bumps against your own and jolts you out of your self-forgetfulness.

You stand up in a rage, and start berating the negligent rower in the other boat. Then you notice that it’s empty. There’s no one to blame (save circumstance or the current or the boat itself), so there’s no one to be angry with. You sit down again and realize that, if there’s no target for your tirade (except yourself), there might as well be no tirade.

You wonder, perhaps, why exactly the same event can trigger such different responses in you if there’s a human in the boat or none at all. The bump on your vessel and the shock and the possible injuries — they’re all the same. But your response is as different as a stormy day is from a mild one.

Read the rest of this article at The Huffington Post

Trivers’ Pursuit


To call Robert Trivers an acclaimed biologist is an understatement akin to calling the late Richard Feynman a popular professor of physics. As a young man in the 1970s, Trivers gave biology a jolt, hatching idea after idea that illuminated how evolution shaped the behavior of all species, including fidelity, romantic bonds, and willingness to cooperate among humans. Today, at 72, he continues to spawn ideas. And if awards were given for such things, he certainly would be on the short list for America’s most colorful academic.

He was a member of the Black Panthers and collaborated with the group’s founder. He was arrested for assault after breaking up a domestic dispute. He faced machete-wielding burglers who broke into his home and stabbed one in the neck. He was imprisoned for 10 days over a contested hotel charge. And two men once held guns to his head in a Caribbean club that doubled as a brothel.

Read the rest of this article at Phychology Today

The Deep Space of Digital Reading


In A History of Reading, the Canadian novelist and essayist Alberto Manguel describes a remarkable transformation of human consciousness, which took place around the 10th century A.D.: the advent of silent reading. Human beings have been reading for thousands of years, but in antiquity, the normal thing was to read aloud. When Augustine (the future St. Augustine) went to see his teacher, Ambrose, in Milan, in 384 A.D., he was stunned to see him looking at a book and not saying anything. With the advent of silent reading, Manguel writes,

… the reader was at last able to establish an unrestricted relationship with the book and the words. The words no longer needed to occupy the time required to pronounce them. They could exist in interior space, rushing on or barely begun, fully deciphered or only half-said, while the reader’s thoughts inspected them at leisure, drawing new notions from them, allowing comparisons from memory or from other books left open for simultaneous perusal.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

Therapy wars: the revenge of Freud


Dr David Pollens is a psychoanalyst who sees his patients in a modest ground-floor office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a neighbourhood probably only rivalled by the Upper West Side for the highest concentration of therapists anywhere on the planet. Pollens, who is in his early 60s, with thinning silver hair, sits in a wooden armchair at the head of a couch; his patients lie on the couch, facing away from him, the better to explore their most embarrassing fears or fantasies. Many of them come several times a week, sometimes for years, in keeping with analytic tradition. He has an impressive track record treating anxiety, depression and other disorders in adults and children, through the medium of uncensored and largely unstructured talk.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

When Are You Really an Adult?


It would probably be fair to call Henry “aimless.” After he graduated from Harvard, he moved back in with his parents, a boomerang kid straight out of a trend piece about the travails of young adults.

Despite graduating into a recession, Henry managed to land a teaching job, but two weeks in, he decided it wasn’t for him and quit. It took him a while to find his calling—he worked in his father’s pencil factory, as a door-to-door magazine salesman, took on other teaching and tutoring gigs, and even spent a brief stint shoveling manure before finding some success with his true passion: writing.

Henry published his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, when he was 31 years old, after 12 years of changing jobs and bouncing back and forth between his parents’ home, living on his own, and crashing with a buddy, who believed in his potential. “[He] is a scholar & a poet & as full of buds of promise as a young apple tree,” his friend wrote, and eventually was proven right. He may have floundered during young adulthood, but Henry David Thoreau turned out pretty okay. (The buddy he crashed with, for the record, was Ralph Waldo Emerson.)

And his path was not atypical of the 19th century, at least for a white man in the United States. Young people often went through periods of independence interspersed with periods of dependence. If that seems surprising, it’s only because of the “myth that the transition to adulthood was more seamless and smoother in the past,” writes Steven Mintz, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, in his history of adulthood, The Prime of Life.

In fact, if you think of the transition to “adulthood” as a collection of markers—getting a job, moving away from your parents, getting married, and having kids—for most of history, with the exception of the 1950s and 60s, people did not become adults any kind of predictable way.

Read the rest of this article at The Atlantic

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.