Posted in Novellas

a story of a plain girl – one

It came again. The premonition that it won’t work and that she has to find out another job looms large in my daily life. She thought this time would be different. She believed this time was a tide in her affairs. But then the curse returned, and demons and ghosts appeared with Pan’s fanfare.

Daniel Kahneman, in Thinking Slow and Fast, voiced that the acquisition of skills took three elements: (1) a regular environment, (2) adequate time to practice, and (3) rapid constructive feedback. While the first element fits the requisite, the other ones do not relate to her situation now. The young associate whom she closely work with bypasses the other two elements only to show his disapproving acceptance of no more mistakes and rash disappointment in her performance of work. It has been over a month now since she started working, but my hopeful expectation to succeed in right her ship seems to be at stake because, once again, she is unlucky with partnerships with other people, especially at work. The associate is short of temper and not ashamed of displaying an ingratiating attitude toward the department manager. He knows that she is inexperienced in drafting legal letters and agreements, but the past mistakes conditioned him to regard me as a good-for nothing woman who fumbles and appears to be servile. Now she has lost her faith in the people she is working with. She should find and secure a better job before the probation period ends.

She deserves to work in a suitable environment where she is treated well, taught with patience and understanding, and appreciated for who she is.

Posted in book review

‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman – book review

We are not always right in what we believe. What we see with the eyes may not be the truth but in the likeness of truth as our instinctual response to sensory stimuli is swifter and mightier than the wise arbitrator of reason. Whether you like it or not, we procrastinate diligently assessing what the senses tell us, bypassing the voice of reason and judgment. Using automatic and biased instinct is a mental shortcut to make a judgment call in one fell swoop, sans inconvenience of time and cognitive analysis. Socrates knew it, Plato portrayed it, Aristotle acknowledged it, Shakespeare saw it, and now in our time Daniel Kahneman, an Israel-American psychologist and economist interpretes it in this book.

Kahneman illustrates our intuition, or sense, as System I and mind, reason, as System 2. System 1 activates the images stored in a mind’s cabinet when prompted to evaluate the stimuli. There are three factors contributing to this design of instant machinery of thinking without an assistant of reason: available information, time constraints, and limited cognitivity. The system is highly biased, touchy, and impatient like a quick-tempered, spoiled celebrity. It is tuned to subjective truth inured to sensory perceptions about our surroundings and ourselves with quick fixes without consulting System 2, the voice of reason, the superego, which strives for objective truth. But such a dichotomy of Sense and Reason has always been observed and acknowledged, as I introduced earlier in this writing. For example, Plato alluded to the Chariot of Two Horses, of which one is noble and logical, and the other impulsive and recalcitrant. But the difference between Plato and Kahneman is the applicability of the mind-system to the principle of economic activities and consequences.

The book is a steady bestseller, readable to all ranges of readers who want to search for the cause of their mental malaise and existential vertigo. What might have been a reiterating modern interpretation of how the mind works proves to be a piece of practical advice on how to overcome emotional trauma and live a purposeful and gainful life as thus: 1) When the signs of ill-judged biases arise from within, slow down and ask for reinforcement of the spirit of System 2. In doing so, we must acquire such skills to dominate the hubris of System 1 in a regular steady environment that provides an adequate opportunity to practice and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions. If you still prefer a mental and physical shortcut to put the aforesaid into more effortless locomotion, how about taking the simple advice from Socrates?: “When unpleasant, depressive thoughts begin to cast on you, breathe deeply once, then bring a smile to your face.” Too trivially mundane? “Of course, you have to make it a habit,” quibbled Aristotle to support his teacher.

Posted in Poetry

In the lotus flower

She walks toward the end
An inch closer, eyes closed;
Then one leap into the air
She vanishes into the water
Where no fate can stalk her
Care about the world no more
But the king and the lotus flower
To forget the memories forever.

*Author’s Note: This poem is based on the Korean folktale of Shimchung about a girl who throws herself into the sea for 300 sacks of rice to be offered to Buddha so that her blind father can regain his eyesight. The Sea Emperor sends her back to land in lotus flower, and her father can see. Contrary to the popular perception of the story as extolling the virtue of the daughter’s filial piety toward her blind old father, I see it more as the girl’s good-heartedness that touches upon the universal heart.