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Crazy Is as Crazy Does

Tyson Yunkaporta
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by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I heard someone talking to themselves the other day, walking in my direction down a quiet street. I'm old enough to remember a time when only crazy people did that. My guard went up until I made out the pods extending from his ears and realized he was on the phone. Old habits die hard.

I was listening to an Australian aborigine on Youtube's Rebel Wisdom, that same day. In his late 30s, Tyson Yunkaporta kept chuckling when replying to the host's perfectly serious questions. Inappropriate laughter, like talking to yourself, is a sign of mental imbalance.

The bible of psychiatric diagnosis, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is a catalogue of everything that could possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong... at least as far as insurance companies are concerned. It lists the symptoms of all recognized mental-emotional disorders, ending each rubric with the qualifier, "to the point that it interferes with a person's well-being and functioning."

When it doesn't get in the way, we call insanity, eccentricity. The difference between madness and genius is that genius pays the bills. You can think that you are Napoleon, but when you get up on that white horse, they are coming to take you away.

I used to tell certain of my psychiatric patients, "If you do not know how to talk to the police, then you are crazy. When you open the door, you have to say to the police, 'I'm so sorry, officers. Did my mother call you? She's been under so much stress lately.' After that, it doesn't much matter what she tells them."

On the Youtube video, Tyson Yunkaporta wasn't laughing because he is mentally imbalanced. He was laughing because we are. He was laughing at how divorced our culture is from nature. He didn't say it, but I will observe that the way we look at our problems is our problem. The way we imagine solutions prevents us from finding any. He was laughing at himself participating in an interview, whose questions precluded answers. Some statements are self-contradictory; if someone tells you, "Everything I say is a lie," should you believe them?

Somehow or other the geeks have gotten control. Science is idolized. Technology becomes a fetish. Don't get me wrong; I went through a post-graduate program studying science, and the person I've communicated most meaningfully with over the last seven years may very well be my programmer. I've always had nerdy friends, but I don't want them to be in control of society.

Another Youtube video reassured me that Artificial Intelligence will never become sentient and start doing what it wants. This is because all that computers do is calculate. They don't feel or want. The algorithm is binary, yes or no. And the experts agree that consciousness is not calculable. It is analogue. As with the hands on a clock, we make associations between things.

I'm not the only one doubting that Facebook's Meta-verse is our fate. Many Big Tech personalities doubt that the people generally want to spend their lives, be-goggled and suited-up, inside some virtual reality, without sunshine or wind.

We like bright things, especially when they move. And nothing is as busy or shiny as our screens. I figure this whole internet frenzy is a phase, a fad. Tyson Yunkaporta wasn't asked his opinion about this, but I think he would agree.

I know that he and I share a general optimism about the future-
Him: People will not submit to authoritarians or monopolies. It is against our nature to be slaves.
Me: Safe nuclear will solve the climate crisis, until fusion or some other invention (thorium?) delivers completely clean energy. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-yALPEpV4w starting at 8:11)
Him: The wisdom of the ancestors is still informing us.
Me: Fascism is not around the corner.

We all want to belong. Our survival once depended on it. It still does. A lot of people find an artificial belonging in online tribalism. Pitting my political faction against yours may stimulate those ancient, feel-good brain hormones, but we see where it gets us.

The most natural community is local. I suggest that for us expats, community is the most magical aspect of this magical town. Recognizing others adds a consummate richness to a walk through San Miguel.

There is "safety in numbers," but there is also something wonderful and imperative in belonging, enlarging your sense of self, being part of something larger than you, growing community. That's the idea behind my Lokkal: building community, strengthening the local economy.

Yes, people want to be online, but I figure that if you give them something more constructive, more edifying to do there, then they'll do it. Lokkal is an interface between the virtual and the actual community, the online world in service of the real world. Find out what there is to do and then go do it.

I don't think that Tyson Yunkaporta would laugh at that.

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Dr. David presents Lokkal, the social network, the prettiest, most-efficient way to see San Miguel online. Our Wall shows it all. Join and add your point of view.

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