Monday 20 December 1999


Pic of the day: Yet another screenshot from Daggerfall, the roleplaying game. But this one at least has some vague connection with today's topic. (Yes! Today actually has a topic!)

The Inner Dummy

If you had the 10 hours psychology course, you're bound to have heard of Sigmund Freud and his breakthroughs into modern psychology. No, he did not invent (or even discover) the subconscious. But he did suspect that it played an important role in our lives. His rather crude division of our psyche into 3 parts was simple enough to be remembered to this day. These three parts are: Superego, Ego and Id. The superego (something that is above the ego) is pretty close to what we call a conscience, though it also includes the rules and norms that are so ingrained in us that we would not even think about breaking them. (For some of us, these are pretty few, so let us think of it as a conscience.) The ego is, like, the part of us that we honestly call "I", and which we hold responsible for everything we do. Then there are the murky basements of the soul, the Id.

The Inner Dummy. No, I'm sad to say that I cannot take credit for this luminiscent explanation ... I read it in Psychology Today, and there is even a book for sale, "Battling the Inner Dummy", fittingly from Prometheus Books. (Friends may remember that I have used the Promethevs name for various purposes for a decade or so, but this company has nothing whatsoever to do with me. Obviously I'm not the only one who liked this piece of Greek mythology.)


I've inherited a highly intelligent brain (and I say inherited in a broader sense, as I suspect my childhood is important as well as the genes). But the Inner Dummy is largely independent of the jellyware it runs on. I mean, you gotta be pretty smart to become president of the USA, and look what happened. So it's hardly a surprise that I have a small reptile living in my brain's basement too.

It's no strange thing. Our bodies are animals, and I don't complain. It is a genial solution. Spirituality is all good and well, but it won't help the world a bit if you're dead or not born at all. So it makes sense that our bodies and the core operating system is that of an animal. A very flexible animal, and a smart one. But still with the basic goals of any animal: To survive, to breed, to defend territory and offspring, and generally have a good time.

I've heard said: "I do not have a body, I am a body!" That made me so sad. There are so many pleasures available to the human that a pure body-creature cannot appreciate. Take music. It may be that music was originally just an aid to the mating dances, and mating dances are something we share with many birds and such. The idea of the mating dance is to make sure that the breeders end up with someone of the appropriate species. I'll not go into detail on how this applies to our species. My point is that music has taken on its own life, and developed into a world of beauty. It is hard to claim that this is what our body was developed for, but still it is there, a beauty for the soul. And so there are lots of things in our lives. We need the body to enjoy them, but they are not "bodily" in a more literal sense, the way food and water are.

So when the inner dummy mutters "Enough with the music, bring on the shagging", it is really just trying to take care of your things for you. If all people were flittering around being spiritual all of the time, we would soon die out. Not to mention that we would have been eaten by lions long ago.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there is a pure spiritual soul unhappily riding on the back of the beastly body. Body and soul are so intertwined that it is hard to say where one stops and the other takes over. I am certainly not the only one to notice that my thoughts are shaped by the condition of my body. And the other way around, thoughts and emotions make the body react whether I want to or not.

But even so, you should be able to spot the Inner Dummy when it makes a grab for satisfaction now, even at the price of royally messing up the future. Saying the words that should not be spoken (ideally not even thought). Doing shameful things. Or, most likely for one such as me, just slinking away from all things unpleasant, delaying and postponing until it is too late. Oops, it's too late so I don't need to do it anyway! Few things can please my Inner Dummy more than seeing a deadline buzz by and disappear.


In only vaguely related news, I had a day off (un-used vacation days) and was woken by Staffman calling from work, worrying about a computer game. But I'm so grateful to wake up at all these days that I did not much mind it ... it was not in the middle of the night or anything.

Around noon, I stopped by ... and the Next Year's Girls pounced on me. They had finally got everything they needed for the year 2000 stuff. Despite Y2K, it was actually the same procedure as last year, and the year before that. You'd think they would remember that clearly enough. I mean, you know how humans complain about time is flying and it was just Christmas and now it's Christmas again, and even the children were just small. But no.

All in all, I ended up hanging around for nigh on 4 hours, fixing printer problems and running rare programs and repairing a computer game. As a mature coworker repeatedly has told me: "Praise the fool and he will work himself to death." Luckily Staffman has somehow assumed the power to compensate me by adjusting my time saldo. You are normally not allowed to have vacation and work on the same day. But Staffman is still too young and too underpaid to take these things literally. He may one day become a self-important testosterone-poisoned old Male Boss, but he's not there right now.

A pleasant, sunny winter day.

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