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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Wednesday, August 4 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

The four basic mind-food groups

Thinking here about the new CBS offshoot "gay network" launching on cable next February and the sexuality subtext that I'm betting will underpin all its programming, led me to reflect on the whole subject of subtexts or leitmotifs and the part they play in all our passages through life.

Sex and death, psychology researchers have said for some years, are virtually always in most of our minds or playing around on their periphery, though I'm much more aware of one of them than the other. Maybe "survival" or life, continuing to live, is more perceptible than "death." But however defined, both of these are constant nags on the active mind, and both are largely reflexive. Even if we prefer not to go there, we're constantly returning to them or more to the point, they're always returning to us. My interest is more focused on the subtexts we adopt for ourselves and how we attempt to direct our lives according to them rather than those that nag us bidden or not. I've found four of those "proactive" subtexts that seem to be universal and to cap everything.

My basic mind-food groups are God, family, self, and nihil (pronouced like "kneel" but as though both vowels are enunciated; nihil is Latin for "nothing," but its sense is "nothing matters").

I'm proposing here that these four are the basic motivations of just about any life you will come into contact with in this generation, any book you'll browse in B Dalton or Borders, any column or editorial you'll read online or in a newspaper, political speech, sermon, or any magazine feature. Like the more visceral sex and death, these are also, I believe, in all of us all of the time, but the self-conscious or even, if you prefer, the organized individual tries to increase one or more of them while decreasing some or all of the others to enhance his or her conception of his or her self or life.

I'll do summary definitions of each this time and take them up separately in future Jonals, with a call to send feedback: questions, comments, and/or ideas on the topic.

"God" as subtext is the quest for godliness, holiness, goodness, in synch with the purposes of your creation and existence. Of the four, it's not only the highest but the most difficult path to walk and the least chosen.

"Family" as subtext refers to building your life and all your behavior to be consistent with a healthy family life in which children and marriage can flourish with minimal traumas either psychological or physical.

Self may be self-evident. It's the path of the ego, self-centeredness, pleasure seeking.

Nihil is the path of smokers, heavy drinkers, and other dare-devils. Nothing matters, so get as much out of what pleases you as you can. It's "self" without fear of death and, in its extreme, almost preferring or romanticizing death.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Articles in this series, The Four Basic Mind-Food Groups:
     Introduction  |  Subtext God  |  Subtext Family  |  Subtext Self  |  Subtext Nihil

Only in America

...do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won't miss a call from someone we didn't want to talk to in the first place.

Sent by Mike Harris  

Thought for today

He who hesitates is probably right.

Sent by Trudy Myers 

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