Ponder

Ponder

What is the opposite of paranoia?

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everyone-is-out-to-get-you-eyechart-tshirt

My idea for this post came from reading a funny article from The Onion (2 min read, worth it):

Anxiety-Ridden Man Rightly Ashamed of Every Single Thing He Does

While reading it, I kept asking myself, how does someone act and think who is the exact opposite of a paranoid? What’s the opposite of paranoia?

Answer: Pronoia: a neologism (relatively new term) defined as a sense that the universe is conspiring on your behalf, that others are conspiring behind your back to help you…that the world is set up to secretly benefit people.

(Take note of how much more has been researched and written about paranoia than Pronoia).

The word Pronoia is also the name of a Greek goddess, an Okeanid nymph of Mount Parnassos, the wife of the Titan Prometheus. Also known as the goddess of foresight. Here are two Okeanid nymphs:

merm01

13286740-b545-0132-46b4-0e9062a7590a

I had a BIG schoolboy crush on Arielle growing up. One time in the shower I…I digress.

Anyway, here are some writers’ opinions on the idea:

“I am kind of paranoid in a reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” -J.D. Salinger as Seymour Glass

Phillip K. Dick, in is posthumous published book, The Exegesis, suggested his own Pronoia (as referred to by his perceived protection by an entity called V.A.L.I.S.: vast active living intelligence system) was based on an “intelligent analysis,” of his mystical experiences, and was not, “reflexive or mechanical in its nature.”

Pronoia is a theme in the 1988 novel, The Alchemist, (which has sold 65 million copies, coincidentally the same as Salinger’s, Catcher in the Rye). An older man tells the boy protagonist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I thought the novel was boring.

Some may think this state of mind is stupidly optimistic or dangerously unrealistic.

head in sand

You put your head in the sand and it feels so good, so calm, so gentle, and so peaceful…but you’re still stuck in the sand and deaf to the world which is writhing and screaming around you.

As Dr. Fred H. Goldner states in his 1982 published paper, Social Problems, “Pronoia…is the delusion that others think well of one…mere acquaintances are thought to be close friends, politeness and exchange of pleasantries are taken as expressions of deep attachment and the promise of future support…”

So, like everything, there’s a destructive extreme.

And similar to my post, “I deserve this!” there’s a gray area which we have to navigate through trial and error, learning and changing, to avoid the extreme. Believing the world is straining to please and help you can be detrimental because you don’t do anything about it. You bask and wallow in an illusion of smiles and praise.

In reference again to the “I deserve this,” post, when it comes to temptation and our vices, it’s better to err on the side of looking at YOURSELF in a paranoid light, suspicious of your animal cravings…(do I really deserve this pie? This beer? A two hour nap?)

But when looking at the outside world it’s better to err on the side of Pronoia. Yes, that car just cut me off…but probably because there’s a cop ahead and they want to prevent me from speeding and getting a ticket. Absurd and insane…yes…but is it as absurd and insane as uselessly fuming or engaging in road rage?

have-you-ever-noticed-that-anybody-driving-slower-than-you-is-an-idiot-and-anyone-going-faster-than-quote-1

95% of problems are self-created. And 95% of people blame the world for their mistakes and issues. I’ve noticed this especially with restaurant employees…some of them, when criticized, immediately look for something else to lay the blame on: it’s the customer’s fault for being so needy, the chef’s fault for cooking so slow, the owner’s fault for not paying me more, the manager’s fault for not teaching me well enough.
ANYTHING but themselves. In the short term they want to get off the hook, but they end up stagnating and not improving in the long term.
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There’s a certainty I daily repeat to myself which nothing can alter: I will support myself through writing books. This conviction burns inside of me. Each rejection I receive pushes me higher and the longer I churn in this void of day jobs and midnight scribbling sharpens the axe of my prose and whittles aways the superfluous.

I feel intense gratitude that my family and close friends don’t openly root for my literary success. They’re intelligent and aware enough to understand it’s a lonely battle that must be fought without a cheerleading squad. But my pronoia knows, deep down, that they’re looking forward to my publication…cause as the Philosopher Wiz Khalifa once said, “You know if I ball then we all gonna stunt.”

wiz-khalifa-onifc_1

Each morning, according to my Pronoia, when I finally fall into a fitful sleep, the lords of the literary world meet in a video chat:

“Is…is J.W. Kash ready yet?”
“No, not yet. Tomorrow we must send him 12 rejections from online journals, one saying he should his prose is pathetic and that he should give up, and later that night he will have an employee insult him and walk out, then he will shovel vomit out a sink.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little too harsh? Shouldn’t we give him one more acceptance…to reignite his belief in himself?”
“Too harsh? Belief in himself? Have you read his stupid, selfish blog? The poor boy thinks he has something to say! That he can write! Oh no, we must crush this little belief. He has many more obstacles to face, many more.”
“How many more?”
“Thousands. Years of them. Everything in his life will fall apart, his close ones will start questioning his life choices and showing disdainful concern, he will be consumed by regret…then, only then, will we let him build it all back.”
“Yes sir. Years it is.
“Years (demonic chuckling) YEARS! YEARS!”

Then I wake up from a nightmare in a daze of exhausted doubt. And with 26 buck-naked jumping jacks and a trick of the mind turn it all into grist for the mill.

 

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What is Euler’s Identity and Why is it Considered The Most Beautiful Mathematical Equation?

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“…like a Shakespearean sonnet that captures

the very essence of love, or a painting that brings

out the beauty of the human form that is far more

than just skin deep, Euler’s equation reaches down

into the very depths of existence.

-Keith Devlin, Stanford University mathematics professor

 

Here it is, reaching deep, so deep put that ass to sleep:

 

So…so…so beautiful. Books have been written about this equation (two pop-science books in the last two years: A Most Elegant Equation: Euler’s formula and the beauty of mathematics, David Strip (2017)–pretty good, and Euler’s Pioneering Equation: The most beautiful theorem in mathematics, Robin Wilson (2018)–bad). In 2004, a poll of readers by Physics World found Euler’s identity to be the “greatest equation ever.” EVER. Richard Feynman called Euler’s Identity “Our Jewl.”

One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One right to bring them all and in the darkness TURN A FUCKING LIGHT ON MY CALCULUS HOMEWORK IS DUE TOMORROW AT 9AM!

And in 2014, a ridiculous study (who pays for this stuff?!) was conducted on the brains of sixteen mathematicians which found that the medial orbitofrontal cortex (emotional part of the brain, lights up for music, poetry, and pictures of bulldogs bathing on Instagram) lit up the most consistently for Euler’s identity than for any other formula. (Using science/technology to prove that we feel emotional about a mathematical formula…hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm010110110100100010101100.)

Origin story: Named after Leonhard Euler who was born in Switzerland in 1707:

Am I winking and is there a napkin on my head?…YOU’LL NEVER KNOW

He is considered the most prolific mathematician of all time, with 886 papers and books published. Most of this output came during the last twenty years of his life, when he was completely blind (ah, so he wasn’t winking, his body was shutting down, he went blind in his right eye in the late 1730s from an infection). In fact, his output was so extensive that the St. Petersburg Academy continued publishing his papers for thirty years after his death. Sort of like how I keep hearing new 2pac songs, even though he’s been dead for 22 years. Like this remix that came out four days ago:

Basically, Euler was a beast, a mathematician powerhouse. The French physicist François Arago described Euler:

He calculated without any apparent effort, just as men breathe, as eagles sustain themselves in the air.”

Euler wrote about acoustics, musical harmonies, ship-building, prime numbers, yo mama, bridges, and more.

It is claimed that Euler’s identity appears first in his epoch-shattering work, Introductio in analysis infinitorum (1748):

What made this book “epoch-shattering” was that over the previous hundred years, since Descartes wrote about graphs, lines, and axes, there had been a gradual shift of mathematics from geometry towards algebra, and this book represented the scintillating climax when Euler defined the conic sections (ellipse, parabola, hyperbola) not as sections of a cone, but by using algebraic equations, beginning with this:

I’d probably go on 2 or 3 dates with this blurry equation

Despite revolutionizing the field of mathematics, changing the focus from geometry to algebra, Euler’s most popular and best-selling book was his pop-science book called Letters to a German Princess. This multiple volume work was an exposition that he created when he was asked to give simplifed science lessons to the Princess of Anhalt-Dessau.

SPIT EULER! SPIT!

The work was a collection of 200 letters that Euler wrote on topics ranging from gravity (gravity stops when I’m with you), light (you are the light of my life), astronomy (I’d rather have you than all of the stars), sound (I hear my heart beating when I’m with you), magnetism (I feel attracted to you like a…a magnet), the “electisation of men and animals, (uhhh)” and logic (what do you mean you’re busy all weekend?!)

Even though Euler’s identity is named after Euler, there is some debate on whether he was the first to produce the exact formula and to use it, since in Indroductio… he wrote down eix = cos x + i sin but never took the final step (which is easy and simple) to write the identity above. In addition, Euler’s identity can be easily deduced from the work of Johann Bernoulli and Rodger Coates (who died in 1716 when Euler was 9 years old), but none of them did so. Who cares? They were busy. We’re all busy.

On the day Euler died (7th of September 1783) he was working on calculating the laws of the ascending motion of air balloons. He was dining with Mr. Lexell and his family, talking of Herschel’s planet (Uranus) and of the calculations which determine its orbit. Soon after, he was playing with his grandchild and drinking tea when he collapsed and died.

This picture came up when I typed “Hot air balloons and Uranus” into google.

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So why is Euler’s identity beautiful?

It connects five of the most fundamental constants of mathematics (0, 1, pie (3.141…), e (2.718…), and i (the imaginary unit of complex numbers))…

…using three fundamental operational symbols (addition, multiplication, and exponentiation), exactly once.

Also, the equation equals zero, which is common practice in several areas of mathematics.

But why is that beautiful?

Mathematics is the universal language that allows us to describe, with clarity and precision, the way the universe is structured and the way our reality works. Math links ideas and knowledge. It is often the foundation of innovations and allows us to fly planes, build skyscrapers, listen to music in the wilderness, post silly blog posts, and get inside someone’s crazy head who’s sweating butt naked in a chair on the other side of the planet. The more simple, and the higher number of things that an equation connects (a difficult paradox to balance), the more beauty.

So what is the mathematical definition of beauty? I think it’s this:

Connection and simplicity.

 


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