The Next Level. [Weekly Head Voices #22]

Due to the sleep- and concentration disrupting side-effects of a recent fantastic and life-changing event, I have skipped two editions of the Weekly Head Voices.  You’re going to have to bear with me, as it might happen again more than once in the coming months, whilst the ramification of aforementioned event matures some more and finally decides that those funny hairy creatures often occupying the same spaces that she does do deserve some rest.  Sometimes.

This edition of the Weekly Head Voices is almost 100% backyard philosophy, and more specifically is concerned with the meta-physical state some (language NSFW), in a brilliant exercise in post-modernistic satire, call The Next Level.  Let’s take a gentle start.

First have a look at this mobile phone:

The phone is not only glaring at a Rubik’s Cube, but IT’S PHYSICALLY SOLVING THE THING without even breaking a sweat, or begging for a battery recharge.  This phone has clearly reached the Next Level (of phones).

Then check out this robot:

Yes people, the robot is able to move by HAPPILY BALANCING ON A BALL, even recovering from a shove by its future human slave. That’s pure robot hardcore, and definitely a robot that’s reached the Next Level.

Humans have a next level too. Because we currently seem to be by far the dominant life-form on our sensory horizons, striving for this is a slightly more complex endeavour than being able to balance on a ball like that robot.  So how can we strive for the next level?

For a start, take a look at this list of cognitive biases on wikipedia. In essence, most humans are basically walking meat bags filled with misunderstandings, and convinced that they’re not. Related to this, and funny in a tragic kind of way, is the Dunning-Kruger effect, which boils down to the fact that people who are incompetent, are by nature even less capable of recognising their own incompetence (vaccine / main-stream health denialists and climate change denialists are textbook cases of this). In any case, one would be taking a really big step up the ladder to the next level if one were to memorise the list of cognitive biases above, and were to work really hard every day at trying to compensate for some of these effects in oneself.

Generalising this idea, I think a really great life philosophy is simply to strive every day to be better at something than you were the day before: Cycle a bit faster, remember better, think and see more clearly, be kinder. If one were to keep this up throughout one’s life, one will probably end up in a Very Good Place (philosophically that is).

Something else that one can try to practise in one’s journey to the mythical next level is meditation.  A friend recently posted the following Google TechTalk by Philippe Goldin on the neuroscience behind mindfulness meditation.  It’s 50 minutes long, so feel free to watch it after you finish reading this post:

I wasn’t aware that what I was doing in essence comes down to mindfulness meditation.  In contrast to concentration meditation, where the goal is focusing on the same thing (a mantra, an object) the whole time, mindfulness is about opening the mind and letting the now flow in, appreciating and mentally tasting it without judging.  Although alternative health sites already claim the world (as with all things alternative health, you should ignore these without hesitation), science is cautiously optimistic about the effects of mindfulness, in spite of the sub-standard quality of many of the studies.  There do seem to be definite personal benefits, and personally I am of the opinion that any form of regular meditation or focused self-reflection is an important catalyst in striving for the next level.

The same phenomenon currently disrupting my sleep and concentration, is very much related to this whole discussion, and probably caused it. Whilst it has justifiably been remarked that the act of procreation certainly doesn’t require a rocket scientist (on the contrary, sometimes), helping to sculpt the initial result into a potentially next level human being is an exquisite form of art that requires decennia for the completion of a single piece.

Thank you for stopping by to hear me ramble on, and please turn this into a real discussion by leaving a comment!

18 thoughts on “The Next Level. [Weekly Head Voices #22]”

  1. FINALLY, a new Weekly Head Voices. Just when I started following your regular updates, you stopped them. With a lame excuse, too, if you ask me ;).

    I like the balancing robot. It’s very full flex. I bet this is going to be the future way of transportation! up to the point where people are just going to chop off their legs and end up looking like gizmoduck. Gizmoduck..? remember? ah never mind… This is probably not the intriguing discussion you were hoping for anyway ;).

      1. Haha a Next Level Duck :). Nice. Google it… I guess you didn’t watch Ducktales very often. I’ve always known we would eventually have age related problems in our friendship :P.

  2. Mindfulness sounds like Zen to me. I’m with you on the end benefits, but I think the keen disciple risks much misery and alienation in their search for the Way. Try Albert Camus for illustrations of such processes via disillusionment and existentialism.

    1. Hey Mr Greendemon, welcome to my blog!

      I’m not much of a driver, but I’m told that if one focuses too much on the things that one should avoid on the road, one increases the chances of driving right into into those obstacles.

      Further, if I understand mindfulness correctly, it’s very much about increasing one’s awareness and appreciation of one’s current situation, more so than striving for or avoiding some other situation.

      Being at peace with one’s surroundings is perhaps not the quickest road to alienation. :)

  3. You can reach the Next Level by studying electronic engineering. :)

    I’ve often thought about how utterly clueless 99.9(rep)% of parents are at raising “Next Level” human beings like you describe. I wonder how I might have turned out if I had been exposed to somebody that could teach me some of the valuable life lessons early on like critical thinking, List of Cognitive Biases, and so many others that most people are never even exposed to.

    It’s reached the stage where I’ve decided to begin a website in the near future dedicated to experimenting with common-sense ways to raise “Next Level” people, whether it’s your own kids or if you have the oppertunity to be a mentor to somebody. Maybe via a reddit thread to involve a large social community that’s already biased towards self-improvement.

    1. I would like to agree with you about studying electronic engineering, but I know too many EE alumni who are very much Previous Level. ;)

      As with all seriously complex and human-oriented phenomena, input by the parents is an important factor, but does not guarantee anything either way. I think the best one can hope for, as a parent, is influencing the probabilities in a slightly more favourable way.

      1. The parent doesn’t have to worry about guaranteeing anything. It only has to worry about teaching the child certain thinking and reasoning skills that’s on the same level as reading or counting, but that’s (unfortunately) not being taught to the majority of other kids. You can get an idea of what I’m talking about in Feynman’s book “Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman” where he talks about how his dad brought him up.

        1. I might have an ever-so-faint idea of what you’re talking about, being a sceptical scientist as well as parent of an inquisitive 4-year old. ;)

  4. Hey, geluk met die nuwe bondeltjie!

    Bly om te sien dat my ou Faceboek-plasingtjie ‘n plek op jou werf gevind het. Vir my is die grootste waarde van “mindfulness”-meditasie dat dit mens help om op te hou “spin” op sekere onderwerpe (en dus om jou konsentrasie te fokus op dit wat vir jou saakmaak).

    Ek’t ‘n nuwe androïdetjie (die maatskappy met die vrug vir ‘n merk is te totaliristies vir my) en wil myne ook as ‘n robot inspan… (cool robot-videos terloops).

    Kobus het gelyk met fotosintese – kwantumeffekte is definitief op die volgende vlak.

    1. Yo Wynand, cool dat jy hier kom kuier!

      Ek het gehoor dat jy ‘n Vrugte-geur telefoon oorweeg het, en toe het ek nogal geworry oor jou, maar nou’s ek baie bly jy’t op die pad gebly en ‘n androïed gescore. Watse ene?

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