Meaning and E-Metering


Fara, Content, Dude

CSH: So now I see the anxiety built into the interest that is the humanities because it has too much of emotion and subjectivity. And also it seems uncertain. You can’t make convincing correlations between inventions when you feel responsible, when you feel the contingency of the meaning on your mood and perspective, and when you see how this fills-in almost all the meaning and the value of the object.

This is existential anxiety. Responsibility terror. Where you see your culpability in everything around you. You see that you have secreted the object as your intentionality. That’s an uncertain place for language.

Fara: That’s where the angst comes from? Total responsibility?

CSH: Angst when (1) you recognize the constructedness of the thing, and (2) you feel pleasure and pain. Your awareness of pleasure/pain adds this whole other dimension to your relationship with sensation. After that, things become valuable. And you evoke real desire with all this weighty and even religious importance.

You really love the things that you (really) love.

What is love?

And we feel pain.

Dude: I like harm reduction and pleasure production myself.

CSH: Amen.

(02:01) [Dude: BABBLING]

(03:01) Dude: So we have this project: Meditation Death Match. We put EEGs on two people and find out who can relax harder while we’re teasing you. [There’s a whole world of biofeedback-based gaming that can open up. Just remember: Scientology was the first to market biofeedback popularly! Even though Altair preceded Apple, Apple mass produced. Same here.] It’s a totally satirical, heavy metal joke. I mean, our theme song is “Thunder Kiss ‘65.”

CSH: It sounds like a William Gibson story. You’re using biofeedback to predictably produce desirable states.

Dude: The person who can maintain a meditative state for the deepest and the longest is the one who gets the highest score. But who the fuck cares what your score is?


(04:51) It tends to be a really useful skill to be able to relax under pressure. Meditation on top of a mountain is cool and all but if you can’t do it when your kids are screaming at you or you’re in the middle of rush hour traffic pressured for time then …

CSH: That’s right. That’s why truly traumatic experiences, if they’re survived, produce some kind of value. We’re happy about them. We’re happy afterwards because we’ve … . You know, there’s always that background dissatisfaction. Gratitude. That’s what it is! The gratitude element is something I often forget. So we have a tendency to leave gratitude out, so something is always missing. Because we don’t have gratitude!

Gratitude is actually a positive emotion. You thought gratitude was a payment that you made. But actually it’s a positive emotion.

Dude: Kids need 10:1. But adults can’t handle less than 3:1 praise-to-criticism ratio. Relationships fall apart when the ratio goes below 3:1. If you have at least 5:1, then you’re OK. But you can also devalue praise by raising it above 13:1 because you’re ignoring the problems and praising the trivial.

I do my best to find the punch line of the cosmic joke. Keep rolling with it. Make the best out of the situation we’re in.

CSH: Yes. I think that’s healthy. Yes—to the extent that necessity is there, then something like surrender is necessary.