April 20, 2008

Dancing with Mishima

Unintentional [?] humor in the Mishima biography:

I have seen Mishima "lose himself" to the Monkey or the Watusi in the mid-sixties and it was like watching a studied imitation of a dancer; he always looked horrifying sober, though clearly his movements and expressions were intended to create the effect not merely of spontaneity but enthrallment. In any case, he was a bad dancer, uncoordinated and apparently deaf to music. In 1946 and 1947, when he was still a wan, emaciated figure, his jitterbug must have been awesome sight.
The studied mask of normalcy. When I decided to move among people I tried to learn their actions and enthusiasms, but it became tiring to keep up, and in any case I was bad at it. The fact was I didn't care what they were doing, but needed society for $ and sex. The life I've made out here is one that's been cobbled together out of necessity from various sub-optimal outcomes, but the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Yechezkel Zilber has an interesting blog on happiness.
Many times we feel that the world is highly irrational and sub-optimal (i.e. things can be done is a much better way). This is sometimes the case, but maybe less than as it seems. Our eyes are very misleading about it.

The reason is because the hypothetical reality (that is before any decision has been made) contains a huge space of possibilities. The decision and actions people take are usually relatively good among the overall space of possibilities.

But the decisions people take may not be the absolute optimum. That is they are not the very best set of decisions. But they are still very good.

After the fact thinking will start off with what decisions already made, and try to look for alternatives based on this optimized decision. Insofar that the decision was not the absolute optimal it will look like there are better decisions and the decision maker was a fool.

Suppose there are a billion possible compositions one can lead to by various combinations of decisions. Suppose further that we sort them throught a single measure. If the actual decision ranked 100th, it should be a great decision, but starting from there one will see that it is the worst out of hundred possibilities.... [continues...]

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