Savvy advertising is always trying to tell you something about yourself.

Michelle Orange, who continues:

It traffics only in different, better, more fulfilled versions of you. That’s why it’s so miserably effective: an ad can adopt the stance of leading you toward your own best interests. But a brand-centric movie is stuck pretending its purpose is to entertain, even if its job was done the moment it got you through the door, $13.50 lighter.

Take the hard feelings away, and this is the right thing to do. Put the feelings back and it hurts like hell, but the right thing to do hasn’t changed.

Feeling-Making Machine: An Interview with Mary Karr – R A I N T A X I o n l i n e Spring 2010

This interview is such a gold mine.

I differ from the most diseased part of myself, and I think that an irony of spiritual practice is that when you get out of yourself you kind of more become yourself. When I was a little kid I was bouncy and I made a lot noise and I broke shit. I ran around, I was very enthusiastic. In all the pictures of me I’m smiling. Now, I’m pretty happy. I laugh a lot. I have joy on a given day. I’m not a blithering idiot, and I suffer when it’s hot out or it’s raining and I can’t get a cab. I worry about my kid or my friend getting chemo or whatever. I suffer. But I’m pretty happy. And it’s almost like, I remember my mother saying when I was getting sober, “you’re going to come back to that [childhood happiness].” And I said, “Mother, I don’t even fucking remember that.” I just don’t remember feeling that way. But I really think that voice—not the one that says, fuck you, you stupid bitch, you’re a whore, but the one that says, you can do better than this, honey—that voice is God. And that’s actually who you really are. The other stuff that’s telling you what an asshole you are all the time is fucking noise, your ego or your head or whatever. The Buddhists would call it your ego. Pentecostals would call it Satan. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s my fucking head talking.

Feeling-Making Machine: An Interview with Mary Karr – R A I N T A X I o n l i n e Spring 2010

Advice for Boys – The Bygone Bureau

My readers taught me as much about listening and taking people’s problems seriously as anything I have ever done. They taught me the value of what kindness and generosity can do, not only for the person receiving it but for you who give. Of what happens when you give people the space to talk about themselves, and of how much guys will start to talk about their feelings if we give them space to do so.

Advice for Boys – The Bygone Bureau

Whenever we invent something new, our neuroses rush over there and get writ large.

George Saunders. And further in his LARB interview:

A definition of parenting: “That state in which, because of the existence of great love, an individual feels that he or she has failed, or is failing, or will soon fail.”

Which old sayings are true and which are false? – Barking up the wrong tree

Let’s go ahead and insert the “studies say” caveat, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff here. Selections:

“All _____ people look alike”

For all of us, whenever people are a different race it’s harder to tell them apart.

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long”


“You can tell a lot about a man by his handshake”

Absolutely. “Results showed that HGS was correlated with SHRs, aggressive behavior, age at first sexual intercourse, and promiscuity in males but not in females. HGS appears to be an honest signal for genetic quality in males.”

“Happy wife, happy life”

When the husband is happier than the wife, couples are more likely to divorce.



“Attractive women make men stupid”

True. In fact, just thinking about attractive women makes men dumb.

“It’s the booze talking”

No, actually, that’s you talking.

“Spanking is bad for kids”

Kids who were spanked behave better as teenagers.

Which old sayings are true and which are false? – Barking up the wrong tree

Shame: A Durkheimian Take – The New Inquiry

The fact that addiction is a clinical condition that is straying into more and more areas of life is itself an interesting sociological phenomenon. It’s not that the field of psychology does not or should not exist, but efforts to cram more and more into this field represents a form of societal dishonesty that rivals the psychic dishonesty of addicts refusing to come clean.

Shame: A Durkheimian Take – The New Inquiry

Last year at a dinner party, I was seated near an overweight man who was eating heaping helpings of roast beef, bread, vegetables, and potatoes. During the meal, when he heard me mention that I specialized in addiction therapy, he said, “I’m a food addict. I’ve tried everything–Weight Watchers, The South Beach, raw food, Atkins, low-fat diets. Nothing works for me.” I looked at him and said, “Have you tried suffering?” He laughed out loud, as if I was joking. I wasn’t joking.

An excerpt from the opening of a later chapter of Unhooked, which I really liked. Great book on addictions of all sorts (cigarettes, weed, alcohol, porn, gambling, the internet, exercise, food…), how they develop and sustain, the value of therapy, relationships, change, case studies. The chapter continues…

A therapist should not strive to make you happy. Living well, even suffering well, are more attainable goals than being happy, regardless of what the advertising world, Hollywood, the Hallmark card company, and the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe.

Reminds me of Marcus Aurelius:

Remember too on every occasion which leads thee to vexation to apply this principle: not that this is a misfortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune.