As Art Production Fund Artist-in-Residence, Candy Chang lived in the The Cosmopolitan and turned its P3 Studio gallery into a contemplative experiment around anonymity, vulnerability, and understanding in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. Inspired by Shinto shrine prayer walls, Post Secret, and the process of catharsis and consolation, she invited passersby to write confessions on wooden plaques in the privacy of confession booths. She arranged the anonymous plaques on the gallery walls, painted select responses on 5’x5’ canvases, and orchestrated the space with an original score by Oliver Blank.
“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans… If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”—Philip K. Dick
"One day they [Polytekhnos and Aedon of Kolophon in Lydia] blurted out the needless remark that they loved each other more than did Hera and Zeus. Hera found what was said to be insupportable and sent Eris (Discord) between them to create strife in their activities. Polytekhnos (Polytechnus) was on the point of finishing off a standing board for a chariot and Aedon of completing the web she was weaving. They agreed that whoever of the two would finish the task more quickly would hand over a female servant to the other.
Aedon was the quicker in finishing off her web—Hera had helped her in the task. Polytekhnos was infuriated by the victory of Aedon [and fetched Aedon’s sister Khelidon, raped her and brought her back disguised as a slave for his wife. The pair on discovering each other’s identities murdered Polytekhnos’ son and fed him to his father: the gods then transformed them all into birds].”
Q: Why do you not believe that other people’s minds exist? A: It’s quite simple, really. I can be quite certain of my own existence – it’s the whole “I think, therefore I am” thing. But as for the existence of other minds, well, that’s a much trickier thing to prove. I can see that there are these funny-looking things that walk around and talk to me and generally do things that would indicate that they have minds like me, but I can’t really be sure. There’s nothing to distinguish my econ professor, for instance, from a robot that could pass the Turing test. Just because people act like they have minds doesn’t mean that they aren’t basically just machines responding to stimuli.
Q: But can’t you look in someone’s eyes when they’re hurting and see that they really feel that pain? A: Furbies could make some pretty convincing displays of pain. People are just really complex Furbies.
“Being half of more complete, single entities, humans suffer inherent and deep complications. On one hand, we strive for progress, perfection, knowledge, enlightenment, salvation, isolation and self-perpetuation, even immortality. We seek to be whole beings, safe from the vagaries of the constant search for another to complete ourselves. On the other hand, we seek to join with our opposite, procreate, exclude, claim, destroy and amass. At times, we may seek only one or the other of these states, but for the most part, we feel and act upon both at all times, dividing our energies between inherently inconsistent goals.”—
David S. Rosenthal, Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati
6th century BC: Legend says Greek wrestlerMilo of Croton came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. Testing his strength, he tried to rend it with his bare hands. The wedges fell, trapping his hands in the tree and making him unable to defend himself from attacking wolves, which devoured him.
Hypatia of Alexandria, Greek mathematician, philosopher, and last librarian of the Library of Alexandria, was murdered by a Christian mob that ripped her skin off with sharp sea-shells. Various types of shells have been named: clams, oysters, abalones, etc. Other sources claim tiles or pottery-shards were used.
1514: György Dózsa, Székely man-at-arms and peasants’ revolt leader in Hungary, was condemned to sit on a red-hot iron throne with a red-hot iron crown on his head and a red-hot sceptre in his hand (mocking at his ambition to be king), by Hungarian landed nobility in Transylvania. While Dózsa was still alive, he was set upon and his partially roasted body was eaten by six of his fellow rebels, who had been starved for a week beforehand.
A man standing at the bus stop reading the newspaper is on fire Flames are peeking out from beneath his collar and cuffs His shoes have begun to melt
The woman next to him wants to mention it to him that he is burning but she is drowning Water is everywhere in her mouth and ears in her eyes A stream of water runs steadily from her blouse
Another woman stands at the bus stop freezing to death She tries to stand near the man who is on fire to try to melt the icicles that have formed on her eyelashes and on her nostrils to stop her teeth long enough from chattering to say something to the woman who is drowning but the woman who is freezing to death has trouble moving with blocks of ice on her feet
It takes the three some time to board the bus what with the flames and water and ice But when they finally climb the stairs and take their seats the driver doesn’t even notice that none of them has paid because he is tortured by visions and is wondering if the man who got off at the last stop was really being mauled to death by wild dogs.
All people operate from the same two motivations: to fulfill their desires and to escape their suffering.
Learning this allowed me to finally make sense of how people can hurt each other so badly. The best explanation I had before this was that some people are just bad. What a cop-out. No matter what kind of behavior other people exhibit, they are acting in the most effective way they are capable of (at that moment) to fulfill a desire or to relieve their suffering. These are motives we can all understand; we only vary in method, and the methods each of us has at our disposal depend on our upbringing and our experiences in life, as well as our state of consciousness. Some methods are skillful and helpful to others, others are unskillful and destructive, and almost all destructive behavior is unconscious. So there is no good and evil, only smart and dumb (or wise and foolish.)
“Human beings are funny. They long to be with the person they love but refuse to admit openly. Some are afraid to show even the slightest sign of affection because of fear. Fear that their feelings may not be recognized, or even worst, returned. But one thing about human beings puzzles me the most is their conscious effort to be connected with the object of their affection even if it kills them slowly within.”—Sigmund Freud (via duvalsfinest)
The Restraint Bias is the tendency to overestimate one’s ability to show restraint in the face of temptation, or the “perceived ability to have control over an impulse,” generally relating to hunger, drug and sexual impulses. The truth is people do not have control over visceral impulses; you can ignore hunger, but you cannot wish it away. You might find the saying: “the only way to get rid of temptation is to give into it” amusing, however, it is true. If you want to get rid of you hunger, you have to eat. Restraining from impulses is incredibly hard; it takes great self-control. However, most people think they have more control than they actually do. For example, most addicts’ say that they can “quit anytime they want to,” but this is rarely the case in real life.
Interesting Fact: unfortunately, this bias has serious consequences. When an individual has an inflated (perceived) sense of control over their impulses, they tend to overexpose themselves to temptation, which in turn promotes the impulsive behavior.
“Realize you can be happy. In this moment for no reason. Otherwise, you eternally depend on conditions for happiness. Unconscious of this moment, you remain a victim of circumstances.”—Arthur D. Saftlas
“You see, we can feed the stomach with concentrates, we can supply microfilm for reading, recreation, even movies of a sort. We can pump oxygen in and waste material out, but there’s one thing we can’t simulate that’s a very basic need. Man’s hunger for companionship. The barrier of loneliness. That’s one thing we haven’t licked yet.”—The Twilight Zone - Episode 1 - Where is Everybody?, 1959
“I’m not just talking about my wife, I’m talking about my LIFE, I can’t seem to get that through to you. I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody. I’m talking about form. I’m talking about content. I’m talking about interrelationships. I’m talking about God, the devil, Hell, Heaven. Do you understand… FINALLY?”—One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975
“Letʼs just talk about fear. Fear, after all, is our real enemy. Fear is taking over our world. Fear is being used as a tool of manipulation in our society. Itʼs how politicians peddle policy and how Madison Avenue sells us things that we donʼt need. Think about it. Fear that weʼre going to be attacked, fear that there are communists lurking around every corner, fear that some little Caribbean country that doesnʼt believe in our way of life poses a threat to us. Fear that black culture may take over the world. Fear of Elvis Presleyʼs hips. Well, maybe that one is a real fear. Fear that our bad breath might ruin our friendships… Fear of growing old and being alone. Fear that weʼre useless and that no one cares what we have to say.”—A Single Man, 2009
“Looking in the mirror staring back at me isnʼt so much a face as the expression of a predicament. Just get through the goddamn day. A bit melodramatic I guess. But then again my heart has been broken. I feel as If I am sinking, drowning, can’t breathe.”—A Single Man, 2009
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. A single detail may be picked out, and the whole event becomes colored by this detail. When you pull negative things out of context, isolated from all the good experiences around you, you make them larger and more awful than they really are. 2. Polarized Thinking: The hallmark of this distortion is an insistence on dichotomous choices. Things are black or white, good or bad. You tend to perceive everything at the extremes, with very little room for a middle ground. The greatest danger in polarized thinking is its impact on how you judge yourself. For example-You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. 3. Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are cues that this style of thinking is being utilized. This distortion can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event. 4. Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you. Mind reading depends on a process called projection. You imagine that people feel the same way you do and react to things the same way you do. Therefore, you don’t watch or listen carefully enough to notice that they are actually different. Mind readers jump to conclusions that are true for them, without checking whether they are true for the other person. 5. Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s.” What if that happens to me? What if tragedy strikes? There are no limits to a really fertile catastrophic imagination. An underlying catalyst for this style of thinking is that you do not trust in yourself and your capacity to adapt to change. 6. Personalization: This is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself. For example, thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc. The underlying assumption is that your worth is in question. You are therefore continually forced to test your value as a person by measuring yourself against others. If you come out better, you get a moment’s relief. If you come up short, you feel diminished. The basic thinking error is that you interpret each experience, each conversation, each look as a clue to your worth and value. 7. Control Fallacies: There are two ways you can distort your sense of power and control. If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you. Feeling externally controlled keeps you stuck. You don’t believe you can really affect the basic shape of your life, let alone make any difference in the world. The truth of the matter is that we are constantly making decisions, and that every decision affects our lives. On the other hand, the fallacy of internal control leaves you exhausted as you attempt to fill the needs of everyone around you, and feel responsible in doing so (and guilty when you cannot). 8. Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair, but other people won’t agree with you. Fairness is so conveniently defined, so temptingly self-serving, that each person gets locked into his or her own point of view. It is tempting to make assumptions about how things would change if people were only fair or really valued you. But the other person hardly ever sees it that way, and you end up causing yourself a lot of pain and an ever-growing resentment. 9. Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem. Blaming often involves making someone else responsible for choices and decisions that are actually our own responsibility. In blame systems, you deny your right (and responsibility) to assert your needs, say no, or go elsewhere for what you want. 10. Shoulds: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty if you violate the rules. The rules are right and indisputable and, as a result, you are often in the position of judging and finding fault (in yourself and in others). Cue words indicating the presence of this distortion are should, ought, and must. 11. Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true-automatically. If you feel stupid or boring, then you must be stupid and boring. If you feel guilty, then you must have done something wrong. The problem with emotional reasoning is that our emotions interact and correlate with our thinking process. Therefore, if you have distorted thoughts and beliefs, your emotions will reflect these distortions. 12. Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them. The truth is the only person you can really control or have much hope of changing is yourself. The underlying assumption of this thinking style is that your happiness depends on the actions of others. Your happiness actually depends on the thousands of large and small choices you make in your life. 13. Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities (in yourself or others) into a negative global judgment. Global labeling ignores all contrary evidence, creating a view of the world that can be stereotyped and one-dimensional. Labeling yourself can have a negative and insidious impact upon your self-esteem; while labeling others can lead to snap-judgments, relationship problems, and prejudice. 14. Being Right: You feel continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness. Having to be ‘right’ often makes you hard of hearing. You aren’t interested in the possible veracity of a differing opinion, only in defending your own. Being right becomes more important than an honest and caring relationship. 15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You fell bitter when the reward doesn’t come as expected. The problem is that while you are always doing the ‘right thing,’ if your heart really isn’t in it, you are physically and emotionally depleting yourself.
Kris Lucas: Why can’t I do the things I want to do? There’s so much I know I’m capable of that I never actually do. Why is that?
Arlen Faber: The trick is to realize that you’re always doing what you want to do… always. Nobody’s making you do anything. Once you get that, you see that you’re free and that life is really just a series of choices. Nothing happens to you. You choose.
“For although an artist may, in his private life, lie to others, even to himself, when he creates he tells the truth; and in a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility.”—McKee, Robert. Story. 1997.
"Characterization is the sum of all observable qualities of a human being, everything knowable through careful scrutiny: age and IQ; sex and sexuality; style of speech and gesture; choices of home, car, and dress; education and occupation; personality and nervosity; values and attitudes-all aspects of humanity we could now by taking notes on someone day in and day out. The totality of these traits makes each person unique because each of us is a one-of-a-kind combination of genetic givens and accumulated experience. This singular assemblage of traits is characterization… but it is not character.
TRUE CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure-the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.
“All my life I had been looking for something and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself.”—Ellison, Ralph Waldo Invisible Man 1952