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New Existentialists

The Proper Use of Tradition and Scholarly Authority

07/01/2014
The Proper Use of Tradition and Scholarly Authority
Quick to kindle, quick to calm down, an even quick to grow decadent, mean of letters [i.e., a type of scholar] can always find reasons and precedents from the classics to justify their shifts of allegiance. (Lu Xun, 1931/2003) One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil. (Nietzsche, 1892/1966) The impulse in contemporary times, and really through all of history, is to either vilify or idealize history, tradition, and the scholars of old. We see this in our classroom, our political debates, our movies, and our books and journals. Yet, whether the impulse is to vilify...

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New Existentialists

Lying in Bed, Just Like Brian Wilson Did

06/30/2014
Lying in Bed, Just Like Brian Wilson Did
I heard it again, I don't remember where: isn't amazing how the Beach Boys could make all that beautiful, harmonious, uplifting music while their front man was so depressed? Wilson's mental illness is legendary. The Barenaked Ladies famously penned a song about his breakdown: three years in bed gaining weight and doing drugs, possibly being exploited by his therapist. The exact meaning of the song escapes me now although it is playing nearly constantly in my head, especially the refrain: lying in bed just like Brian Wilson did, lying in bed like Brian Wilson did. Is Steve Page...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

06/27/2014
Existential Roundup
Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community. Now that summer has finally arrived, the urge to pull what my British colleagues call “a sickee” often comes upon us—that desire to take an unscheduled break from work and responsibilities and enjoy the warmth and sunshine, possibly either by a beach, lake, or pool. It turns out that according to new research reported in The Atlantic, that animals can turn “sickness behaviors” on and...

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New Existentialists

Found Sunglasses: Existential Elation and the Summer Solstice

06/26/2014
Found Sunglasses: Existential Elation and the Summer Solstice
I write this just after the Summer Solstice, and I am on FIRE. The heat of my excitement seems to come directly from the Sun in its annual prime. Varied, multi-hued, beautiful images—recognizably concrete or mercurially abstract—are bubbling up from the deep spring of my psyche, ideas like reflected glints of light from liquid crystal, tumbling merrily over each other in my head. I am drunk with sunlight, elated about the lush fullness of trees and plants all around me casting dappled midday shadows, the humid air lending my hair that certain wave I love, the scent of freshly mown...

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New Existentialists

Of Polarization and Sailboats

06/25/2014
Of Polarization and Sailboats
My last two entries for the New Existentialists have focused on the nature and influence of fear, and how American culture has shifted from a more adventure-based society to a fear-based society. As a society—whether speaking about politics, religion, militarization, communities, neighborhoods, or individuals—we operate from an approach that is opposite of the Golden Rule—“let us do to them before they do to us.” The current debate over what role the United States should play in the current events in the Middle East is a perfect example of this change in our...

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New Existentialists

Sustainable Joy, Sustainable Living: Appreciating the Little Things

06/24/2014
Sustainable Joy, Sustainable Living: Appreciating the Little Things
I believe that the little things can make a big impact on how we feel in our lives, whether it be how we try to solve a problem or heal, or how we integrate joy into our daily living. In a consumer culture that markets extravagant catharsis as a means for having a positive quality of life, not to mention the superficiality of goods, people often don’t see that living well can be inexpensive, practical, and something that we can have on a daily basis. I have spent the past year thinking hard about the life I want to lead. I am tired of being on what feels like a hamster wheel. Indeed,...

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Rethinking Complexity

Listening Into Others to Gain Influence

06/23/2014
Listening Into Others to Gain Influence
No matter what line of work you are in, you are likely seeking ways to be more productive and successful. And, regardless of the profession, how effective you interact with and influence other people can greatly determine your fate. That’s because it is all about relationship, and relationships should always be about the long term. We now live in a world that no longer tolerates disconnected forms of influence. Spam filters help block emails that are unrelated to our wants and needs. The stereotypical used car salesman is seen as merely comical and not taken seriously by anyone. Shotgun...

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New Existentialists

Happy Birthday!

06/23/2014
Happy Birthday!
How do you celebrate your birthday? How do you celebrate “significant” birthdays? While any birthday can be special, many consider birthdays when one enters a new decade, at age 50, 60, 70, and beyond, particularly significant. When you are “public” about a birthday and your age, you are letting people know how many years you have lived. It is also an indication of how much time you may “have left.” Some people choose not to publically celebrate and acknowledge birthdays. In our youth-obsessed, anti-aging culture, it is understandable why we may try to hide...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

06/20/2014
Existential Roundup
Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community. As we approach the summer solstice, we leave you with one more spring potpourri before the heat intensifies. A visit to a museum or art gallery will often provide a nice respite from the heat so we start this roundup with visit to view a new collection of photographs. “In the Shadow of Freud’s Couch” is a series of portraits by Mark Gerald, a photograph and a psychoanalyst, who wanted to show the...

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New Existentialists

The Artifice of Artificial Intelligence

06/19/2014
The Artifice of Artificial Intelligence
June has been the cruelest month for Artificial Intelligence. This month, a computer program beat the Turning Test—and thereby invalidated the Turing Test. The Turing Test, for those who don’t know, is a test based on a premise by Alan Turing, the computational godfather. The idea: if a computer can be mistaken for a human being, by other human beings, in conversation, then it is functionally “intelligent”—the only way we have to measure intelligence. For decades, there have been contests in which judges try to determine whether the person on “the other...

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