Alexandra David-Neel says:

Alexandra David-Neel

” Landscapes have a language of their own,
expressing the soul of the things,
lofty or humble, which constitute them,
from the mighty peaks to
the smallest of the tiny flowers
hidden in the meadow’s grass. “


The Can-Do Spirit

candoI guess some people think
the ‘can-do’ spirit is
kinda clichéd and corny.

Not me.

I’ve seen it
in action
too many times .

one really can learn a lot
from the ancients, as well.

Pygmalion“,eliza for instance:
…….. an interesting and
illuminating character
out of Greek Literature.

( Eliza Doolittle,
played by the lovely Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” —
was a modern spin,
George Bernard Shaw’s to be exact, on this ancient tale. )

Ovid in his Metamorphoses, X,
describes Pygmalion as a Cypriot goldsmith,
whose hobby was sculpting.

A committed bachelor,
the principle character
Pygmalion acquired a
particularly beautiful piece of ivory,
…. and started to carve the figure of a woman.

Soon, he became quite
taken with the sculpture.

1aHe subsequently attended the rites at the Festival of Venus, and made a sacrifice at the altar,

…..while quietly meditating on his wish for a bride that would be the living likeness of his ivory girl.

Upon his return, he kissed the statue, to find warmth in her lips.

He touched her breast, and felt the ivory turn to flesh.

His wish had been fulfilled by Venus.

Now, I’m sure my regular readers
are trying to guess where
I’m gonna go with this…..

And, sure it’d be easy enough
for me to get distracted.

But, this story also has several
implications for those interested
in human potential.

One is the power of love
most of Ovid’s work was
about this , in one form or another.1914

I am a true believer in this power, but it’s not really
our topic today, either.

and the one we will talk about here, is the power of belief .

We know, of course,
that Ovid’s story is fiction, sure.

It is, however, useful in explaining the principle using symbolic language.

It also demonstrates why the phenomenon
of raised-expections-equals-improved-results
is referred to as the ” Pygmalion Effect ” .

And, the intervention of a Greek Goddess
is not always necessary to see this effect in action.

( Although, getting some coaching
from Venus sounds pretty fun to me )

There is a common adage among
those interested in the study of
human potential which is
called the “Thomas Theorem”
( after Sociologist D.S. Thomas ) :

If men define situations
as real, they are real
in their consequences

In terms of group dynamics,
this means that a expectations
group of people,
sharing a mass belief,
modify aspects of their
environment to bring the
environment more in line
with their belief.

An easy way of seeing this principle is:
Thomas Merton’s famous example
of a ‘run on the bank’.

At the beginning of the day,
the bank was solvent, with
enough assets to cover their usual needs.

But, something triggers a
large group of withdrawals,
and once this is observed,
others also withdraw their money,
causing rumors of insolvency,
which of course, causes more
and more withdrawals, until….

…………………… the prediction finally becomes the reality.

Brokesville, man.montypython

People taking dives off of high buildings, and all that.

There goes Parkinson, now.

Very messy.

what bearing does this
have on the individual ?

William James, in his
“The Will to Believe” expressed
the idea of self-validation of a positive belief.

One who believes something must happen,
— will be more effective in MAKING it happen.

Every human personality expectations
has many component facets..
……. one part having some
degree of independence,
but also some degree of interaction and dependence with others.

Not to get totally carried
away with the technical mumbo-jumbo of it,

These are roughly categorized
into “personality dimensions” –

1: “Openness” — this dimension would include imagination, creativity, and insight.

2: “Extraversion” — this dimension includes social amenity, expression, and assertiveness.

3: “Agreeability” — includes affection, kindness, altruism, and trust.

4: “Conscientiousness” — includes motivation, drive, organization and goal direction.

5: “Neuroticism” — includes emotional reactivity, sadness, anxiety, and polarity.

Every person has each of these dimensions in their personality,
albeit at different strengths and levels of dominance or influence.

And all of these dimensions
are at work as you perform
throughout the day,sailors

……… each feeding off each other, and all interacting to produce a state of mind and level of functionality.

Think of it as a chemical reaction..

…add a teaspoon of a 3% percent solution of this,
and a tablespoon of that,
and you get one result…

…add a cup of a 6%
percent solution of this,
and a dash of that,
and your result is much different.

Sorta like how I cook…

Sometimes the results are inedible.a

Which brings us back to the student model of the Pygmalion Effect .

How did the raised expectations of the teachers affect student performance?

Well, if you think of the above personality dimensions as having been permanently
defined from birth, it would
be an impossibility, right?

That theory would mandate that what capacities and personality facets you were born with were what you would have to work with.

And we all know that isn’t so.

These personality aspects are in constant flux.

Their levels change,
and so do their dominance
in the personality hierarchy, if you will.


One can see how
this amalgam of characteristics might function very much like the people in the bank….

…….. and bringing about an end that none of them by themselves could have.

That’s where the principles of the self-fulfilling prophecy and creative visualization come in.

Now, no one is saying that a person might modify, for instance, the course of a comet through the force of his will.

It’s not about that.

If that was the case,
all I would have to do to
get Valerie Bertinelli hot for me
would be to think about it hard enough.

And she isn’t even taking
my calls at this point.


What we are saying is that you can have more control over your interactions with your daily environment, by directing your personality dimensions toward a positive self fulfilling prophecy.

Simply put, by concentrating on a desired goal, and by visualizing yourself achieving that goal, you direct your mind- to start working toward it.

The more you concentrate upon it,
the more directed you become.success

Try it with a short term goal you’ve been meaning to achieve.

Spend a couple minutes -every morning- visualizing you achieving your goal.
A few minutes more before bed–
(with or without Valerie)
visualize it.

If you stay with it,
… you’ll find yourself in a situation
very shortly where you can’t help but achieve it.

Then, put the principle to work for longer term goals.

The most important aspect of it is to simply reinforce your goal commitment every morning and evening.

I can’t promise your ivory statue will turn into a real girl,
or Miss Bertinelli,
…. but I can promise you that your more realistic goals will become much easier to attain.

And that, truly, is a gift of the gods .

!!!! HOY !!!!!


Troubles and Worry

I like to think
that my philosophy
of life is pretty

I mean,
I try not
to worry
about stuff
that I can’t do a
damn thing about.

I usually try to ignore
ignorant, crazy
or obnoxious people,
(as much as I can)
and not let
myself get all worked
up when someone
doesn’t see things
exactly my way.

It’s not about
being a Pollyanna ,
either —

It’s much more
about pragmatic-ism.

Cause nobody
gains anything
by arguing with a fool.

And their opinions are
a lot like their rectums —
you really don’t need
anything that comes
out of there, either.

But, I do like to listen
to my friends about
how they approach life —

Whether I can emulate
their approaches, well….

That’s a whole different
kettle of fish, man.

My old Navy buddy
whom I call
The Ole Philosopher,
for instance —

I asked him for a couple
words of wisdom,
and after accumulating
quite a tab at Crabby’s Grill,
he scribbled a couple piecesetchings
of advice about life
on a stained bar napkin.

Let’s see if I can interpret
his scratchy handwriting:

“Life is a personal war,
one that eventually,
we all are going to lose.

If you’re lucky,
you’ll get to dance
on the graves of
your enemies
before you go.

Don’t forget
who you are,

and whose side
you’re on.

Keep marching,
keep your powder dry,
and sleep when you can.

A bottle of cold
French Champagne,
a hot meal,
and a couple of hookers
always helps.

But, don’t make the mistake
of leaving your wallet or keys out.”

” P.S. : I’ll write
more when I’m thirsty again. “



Thanks, buddy.


…… while I’m sure
that his very short
and rather laconic note
is more in line with the
philosophy of
Charles Bukowski
than with Auguste Comte,

I can always count on the
Ole Philosopher to give it
to me straight.

Sure, ok–

It’s not the kinda thing
I’d want to use as a
quote for the day…..
But, it does seem to
be a perfect
to a couple of these
vintage postcards
and World War II
era ephemera thrown in
for good measure.

win, win, right ?

!!!!!!! HOY !!!!!!!!

I Think, Therefore I No

Some people find
absolutely nothing
funny about philosophy.

I find it hilarious.

Maybe part of the reason is,
it’s the only subject that
really makes you realize
that the more you learn,
the less you really know.

The sheer futility of it
has to make you laugh.

And if it wasn’t for Nihilism,
a lot of people would have
nothing to believe in.

Ok- so,
you might have
to let that sink in a bit….

In the meantime,
some music
to philosophize by,
— and another joke.

The French existentialist
philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre
is sitting at a French cafe,
revising his draft of
“Being and Nothingness”.
He says to the waitress:
“I’d like a cup of
coffee, please,
with no cream.”

To which the waitress
replies: “I’m sorry,
monsieur, but we’re
out of cream.
What about with
no milk instead


Ok– so, I didn’t say
it was a hilarious joke….

But it does illustrate the
humor that is inherent in
philosophy —

A line of reasoning that
might at first seem like
a matter of semantics
can quickly spiral into
the carnfusing-est mass of
possibilities about how
you choose to look at things.

It’s about choice –
and even if you say
that you refuse to choose,
well, you’ve still made
a choice of some kind.

Complicated, ain’t it ?

But I’m really not trying
to burn out your synapses
freak you out, or to
bring on some kinda
existential crisis …..
(been there, done that)

Truthfully, I’m more
like that Soupy Sales guy —

(or Space Ghost, if you’re
so irritatingly young as
to not remember that
Soupy Sales guy….. )

I’m just here setting up
the next cartoon.



PS: Thanks to Jen at Blog It Or Lose It
for the Donut Philosophy cartoon.