Member Questionnaire 1 (Ari Dix)What is beauty? What is love?
Beauty is something that touches me on an emotional level. It triggers feelings of joy, pleasure, awe and inspiration, sometimes with dark, wistful or melancholy undertones. Anything can trigger this emotional reaction, even things that are commonly considered ugly. The trigger can be something that pleases the senses, the mind, or both. (Examples: fine art, a person’s appearance, a person’s mind, elegant mathematical proof, fractal art, abandoned houses…)What are your most important values?
Love is serious business. It means that someone else’s happiness and well-being are equally or more important than my own. This kind of feeling is rare for me and it takes years to develop. I may like someone, even care deeply for them, or be romantically infatuated by them, enjoy their company and wish them well, even have the urge to help them whenever I can, but if I’m forced to choose, my own happiness and well-being come first. There are only two people I have ever really loved in the sense I would sacrifice my own well-being for them, and one relationship that might lead there in a few years.
Freedom, justice, logic, compassion. “If it harms none, do as you will.” “Live and let live.” Every individual on this planet has the right to live as they please, as long as they’re not harming others or stripping anyone else of that right. However, everyone should also be held responsible for their actions, because freedom without responsibility will lead to cruelty and chaos.Do you have any sort of spiritual/religious beliefs, and why do you hold (or don't) those beliefs in the first place?
I’m exercising some double-think here. On one hand, I believe science is the most reliable way to understand the world, and many things can be explained without the concept of a “god” or “creator”. On the other hand, I believe we humans are able to perceive only a very small part of reality: the material, physical plane. I believe there is much more out there: more planes of existence, a “spiritual” reality. I believe that if our species will continue to evolve, our consciousness – and the human species – will evolve into something more spiritual and we’ll be able to perceive the “spiritual” reality better.Opinion on war and militaries? What is power to you?
Personally, I don’t adhere to any particular religion because I think they’re all equally right and wrong. We are like the blind men who are trying to describe an elephant:
One of the blind men grabs the elephant’s trunk and says, “An elephant is like a snake!” The other touches its leg and says, “No, elephant is like a tree!” The third man pulls its tail and says, “No! An elephant is like a rope!” The fourth man is facing the wrong direction and is grabbing air instead of the elephant, and declares: “You’re all wrong! There is no elephant!”
Who is right? None of them. They’re equally right and wrong. They are describing something that is too big for them to handle, so they all see a part of it and assume it is the whole. This is how we human beings perceive “god” and this is why I would never impose my own beliefs on anyone else or claim them to be the truth. As you can guess, I have very little patience for people who think they know the truth about god and are trying to impose their view and moral codes on everyone else.
War is the stupidest, most idiotic, moronic, loathsome, abhorrent, unnecessary waste of human lives and material resources. The military is a place where young people are taught blind obedience and individuals are brainwashed into believing it’s somehow desirable or honorable to die for one’s country.What have you had long conversations about? What are your interests? Why?
Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to end war. Like many other animals, we humans seem to have an instinct to fight over power and territory. As long as there is even one aggressive nation, all the other nations will need armies so they can defend themselves against the bully (but they are at a risk of becoming bullies themselves). Therefore, as much as I hate it, I believe it’s necessary for every country to have an army, because humans are shitty like that. Also, as much as I hate to admit it, I am grateful for the veterans who fought for my little country in WWII.
Power, in my opinion, is the ability to influence people and things around you. Different individuals have different ways of exercising their power: some use physical force; some rely on strategy (politicians and CEOs, for example); some use personal charisma; some use facts and logical reasoning. When I need or want to influence people, I use my charisma and subtle persuasion. I can project an image of a cute, innocent, naÔve person who can be trusted, and I play on that. I know how to get what I want without appearing dominant. I’d prefer logical reasoning, though, and have extensively used it when I was young, but I’ve learned that it only works with highly logical people or in issues where emotions aren’t involved. If emotions are involved, logical reasoning won’t work, so that’s why I’ve learned to play people’s emotions to influence them. Of course, I can combine these two methods.
I rarely want to manipulate or influence people, though. I don’t want to be a leader, either, and I’m not really interested in power. But I’d like to be the second-in-command or the leader’s personal assistant or a consultant. That way, I could influence the leader but wouldn’t have to worry about implementing the plan myself.
I’ve had my longest discussions about philosophy, psychology and metaphysics. I love endless speculation. I also like exchanging information about my interests if the other person has the same interests. My interests can be divided into two categories: curiosity and beauty.Interested in health/medicine as a conversation topic? Are you focused on your body?
Most of my interests have something to do with curiosity, learning how things work. I ask questions like “Why?” and “How?” and love gathering facts to answer them. I’m interested in science (how the world works), psychology (how people work), technology (how things work), metaphysics and the paranormal (how reality works). It’s like a drug for me: I’m thrilled and ecstatic when I learn how something works. Even if the subject is boring to me (like cars or football), I will be more interested in them when I learn how they work. (Like, when I learn how an engine works, or what are the rules of football, I will tolerate these things much better).
However, I also have an interest in many things beautiful and pleasing to the senses. These things provide comfort and a sense of well-being. I enjoy fine art, music (but I’m very picky about the music I like), cooking, the outdoors, and interior design. I’m also interested in industrial design and usability because I think the combination of practicality and beauty is simply irresistible. Web design and usability are interesting because they combine my many interests: technology, psychology, aesthetics.
Yeah, it’s an interesting topic, but mostly from a theoretical and scientific perspective, like how the human body works and what is the optimal diet for humans. Many female friends of mine enjoy discussing health and diets, and I enjoy hearing their experiences and sharing mine.What do you think of daily chores?
However, I’m not really focused on my body. I live inside my head and am not very well in tune with the physical world. I pay attention to my body only if I experience physical discomfort, become aware of its needs, or if there’s something wrong with it. In the latter case, I am prone to hypochondria. I can blow my physical symptoms out of proportion. For example, if I have a headache, I am convinced I have a brain tumor. If I’m psychologically healthy, I have no troubles talking myself out of it with logic, but if I’m stressed out, I can cook up intricate worst-case scenarios in my head and vividly imagine every detail of how it feels like to be in a hospital and die of cancer, and how my loved ones will feel about it.
If I’m depressed or stressed, I will get overly focused on my body, comfort and pleasure. I suddenly become aware of my body’s comfort and discomfort, its slightest aches, and will be excessively worried about my health. I try to escape my psychological discomfort by indulging in sensory pleasures and excessively focusing on the material world.
Chores? I don’t do chores. What are they?Books or films you liked? Recently read/watched or otherwise. Examples welcome.
I have always hated daily chores and I tend to put them off for as long as possible – and then some more. I hate the end result, a messy home, but I just don’t have enough self-discipline to take care of chores. Sometimes I feel trapped in this physical world, because so much time is needed for mundane, tiresome maintenance duties, like taking care of my hygiene and cleaning the home. Life feels like a never-ending fight against entropy.
I enjoy watching series more than movies and can watch my favorite episodes over and over again. My favorites are Star Trek (TOS and TNG), South Park, and Futurama. When I was a teen, I enjoyed Stargate.What has made you cry? What has made you smile? Why?
For some reason, I have a hard time remembering the movies I’ve seen, but some all-time favorites are: Forrest Gump, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Donnie Darko, The Matrix, Terminator, In Time, Back to the Future, The Naked Gun, Airplane!, Police Academy. When I was younger, I used to enjoy horror and vampire movies, but these days I don’t really like them.
I don’t read fiction anymore (Why, I don’t know), but when I was a teen, I enjoyed horror, sci-fi and fantasy. I haven’t read all the books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but quite a few anyway. I also used to be a big fan of The Wheel of Time fantasy series, but at some point the books became boring, so I haven’t read the whole series. My all-time favorite books are The Little Prince, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a children’s book called Vihreš tukka (Green Hair) by a Finnish author Aila Meriluoto, but I don’t think it has ever been translated to English. It’s a pity, because the book’s beauty and wisdom can be compared to The Little Prince.
Any strong emotion can make me cry. I keep my emotions under strict control, so I rarely experience them strongly, but when I allow myself to indulge, it’s intense. The emotion is so overwhelmingly intense I don’t know what to do with it, so I cry. I have cried of sadness, anger, happiness, love, empathy. People usually see me as calm, logical, mellow, sometimes even emotionally cold, but in reality I am very sensitive. I am so sensitive I would be the person crying in a movie theater if I didn’t keep my emotions under control.Where do you feel: at one with the environment/a sense of belonging?
Any small thing can make me smile. I smile a lot, especially around other people. I smile if I see something funny or cute; I smile if a funny thought crosses my mind; I smile if I have to interact with another person. I have this weird automatic reaction towards people, especially strangers: despite how I actually feel, I instinctively smile and cheer up. Countless times, people have commented on how happy and smiling I always am. I didn’t even realize how much I was smiling, until I had heard enough comments about it.
What have people seen as your weaknesses? What do you dislike about yourself?
When I’m under the influence of psychedelics.
In nature. It’s the only place where I have felt unity; where I have fully felt that I belong. In comparison, I have experienced my deepest feelings of loneliness in a crowd.
What people see: under-achievement, laziness, arrogance, disorganization, lack of follow-through, perfectionism. I personally dislike my lack of self-discipline the most. If I don’t want to do something, I simply can’t make myself do it, no matter how much I want to force myself. Or if I really want something, I want it right now and have a hard time abstaining. I have ruined many good opportunities because of my lack of self-discipline, and it’s the single biggest reason I haven’t succeeded in life the way I could have. I also hate my procrastination. I tend to put off small things for as long as I can, and when I’m finally forced to deal with them, they have become big things.What have people seen as your strengths? What do you like about yourself?
Combine this with perfectionism, and you have a person who either delivers a 110% quality or won’t deliver at all. Since 110% is hard to achieve, I usually end up delivering nothing.
What people see: intelligence, insight, strong analytical abilities, acceptance, understanding, perfectionism (hey, it can be a strength too!). For some reason, people see me as more hard-working, trustworthy and naÔve than I really am.In what areas of your life would you like help?
I personally value my ability to see things from many points of view, even conflicting ones. I also have very good perceptive skills: I am good at reading between the lines, “seeing people and things as they are”, seeing the main point of something, predicting how things will evolve. I am good at explaining complicated things and concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
These abilities make me a good mediator and peacemaker. Some examples: Person A says something and I immediately understand what they meant. Person B understands it differently and I immediately see what went wrong. Person A doesn’t understand where B’s trouble is and a conflict or misunderstanding is about to ensue. I step in and “translate” to person B what person A meant and they both thank me for it. A usually says “That’s exactly what I meant!” and person B is like, “Oh, now I get it. Thank you!” Typology wise, I’ve noticed these are often Fe-Te misunderstandings. For some reason, I’m well aware of them and am good at translating.
Another thing that often happens is, I meet or hear about a new person and can immediately size them up. It’s an instinct. I can accurately predict their personality traits and where things and relationships will be headed. I’d make a great fortune teller or a Human Resources manager, because I’ve accurately predicted a person’s personality traits and behavior, based on very little data. When a new employee has started at our company, I’ve been able to immediately see if they’re a good employee or not. My predictions have come true and sometimes I’m baffled at others’ inability to see the same things I do.
These strengths are especially weird because I don’t think I have good social skills! I just “see” through people.
Taking care of the physical world around me! If I had money, I’d hire a professional organizer to organize my stuff, a cleaning service to do my laundry and take care of my home, and a bookkeeper to pay my bills, file my taxes and to make me a budget . I’d also need someone to support and push me forward so I would actually get things done!Ever feel stuck in a rut? If yes, describe the causes and your reaction to it.
Yep, I have, many times, and the reason has always been the same: I have lacked vision and goals in life. Actually, I feel like it at the moment. Right now, I’m wasting 8 hours a day at a job I hate (it was supposed to be temporary but I stayed at the job for longer than I planned). During my free time, I have to waste even more time taking care of my physical needs, like cooking, chores, and so on. Daily routines, no changes, no plans for the future, having to go to work every day… these are killing me. There is too much work and too little play. If I had a goal to achieve, I would tolerate this routine better because it would have some meaning.What qualities do you most like and dislike in other people? What types do you get along with?
I’m 30 years old and I hate being an adult!
I like open-mindedness, curiosity, honesty, playfulness. I hate dogmatism, black-and-white thinking, closed-mindedness, image-consciousness, taking things too seriously. I don’t like stupidity or the lack of intelligence, but if the unintelligent person is nice and friendly, I don’t mind.How do you feel about romance/sex? What qualities do you want in a partner?
I get along really well with friendly, talkative people because I become one myself when I’m with them. If the person is also emotionally open, I will open up quickly, too, and a sense of friendship and mutual trust is built very quickly. These people can pull me out of my shell. I also enjoy the company of intellectual, analytical people who like to discuss and analyze theoretical things and provide me with new information and points of view. With them, I become one as well, but I may come across more introverted, emotionally reserved, and sometimes even as an intellectual snob. I’m a social chameleon and automatically adopt the qualities and attitudes of people I’m with, so I enjoy spending time with people who have the qualities I already have and/or qualities I’d like to see in myself.
I feel uncomfortable, even stressed out, around extremely loud, high-energy, dominant and bossy individuals, so I tend to avoid them. If I can’t avoid them, I become argumentative and bossy myself, something that isn’t natural for me.
Romance and sex don’t need to have anything to do with each other. I believe there are way too many social taboos surrounding sex – it’s not that big a deal, especially now that we have good contraception! I believe many sexual moral codes are outdated, illogical, unnatural, and based on religious superstition. Sex and romance are very personal things and people should be able to do as they please, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. People get so worked up about sex because they have been socially conditioned for their entire lives. As a result, we have a society where sex sells and people are obsessing over it, but all kinds of taboos are still rampant. I reject traditional sexual moral codes but I usually keep my thoughts to myself, so as not to offend people.If you were to raise a child, what would be your main concerns, what measures would you take, and why?
That being said, I personally don’t enjoy casual sex myself; I need to have some feelings towards the other person. I feel shy and vulnerable when I open myself sexually, so I need to like and trust the other person. I would like to have more than one romantic relationship at a time (polyamory), but I don’t, because it’s not socially acceptable. (I don’t want a debate here, but it seems human monogamy is more nurture than nature. Why else would so many people cheat on their spouses, or why else do we have serial monogamy? Also, human biology indicates humans are both monogamous and polygamous.)
The single most important quality in a partner is that he’s “on the same wavelength”. There must be an intellectual and emotional connection, because I usually feel “on a different wavelength” with most people. For example, 11 years ago I fell in love with a handsome guy (who is now my husband), not because he was attractive (it helped, though) but because he discussed metaphysics, astronomy and Star Trek with me and because he had all kinds of crazy ideas and plans.
I want my partner to be rational and emotionally independent. In a relationship, I am low-maintenance, but I need my partner to be as well, because I need my own space and time alone. Emotional clinginess, neediness, and jealousy are total deal-breakers for me. I once had a relationship with a remarkable EIE with whom our emotional and physical connection was pure magic, but his emotional insecurity, neediness and clinginess drove me away. He was also a bit too irrational for me.
An ideal partner would also be one who’d enjoy homemaking (the EIE was). It would be great if my partner was capable and willing to create a comfortable home and take care of the things I like but am not good with myself: decorating and organizing our home and finances, making sure our home was clean and comfortable. My husband is ideal in every other way but we’re too similar in this department. He’s actually even worse at it than I am, so the task of homemaking falls on my shoulders. As a result, our home looks like a bachelor’s pad. Then again, he doesn’t nag me about leaving dirty socks everywhere, so… yeah.
I don’t have kids so I’m not sure, but I’d try to avoid the biggest mistake my parents made: I’d try my best to make my kid(s) feel I will always love and accept them exactly the way they are. I’d want them to feel that if they screw up, I will support and help them, instead of scolding. Of course, I would not protect them from the consequences of their actions, but I’d help and teach them how to get out of the mess.A friend makes a claim that clashes with your current beliefs. What is your inward and outward reaction?
I would also teach them to be independent and assertive.
Inward reaction is an urge to debate it with the friend. Outward reaction, however, would be silence. It depends on the situation, though, and how much emotions are invested in the belief. Sometimes I will open my mouth. In those cases, I'll either tactfully offer my perspective or (If I'm really annoyed) get very angry and argumentative. The latter is very rare, though.Describe your relationship to society. How do you see people as a whole? What do you consider a prevalent social problem? Name one.
I used to be an idealist when I was younger, but these days I have a very cynical and pessimistic view of the society, so my answer reflects that and is a bit exaggerated.How do you choose your friends and how do you behave around them?
The Western society is just like a huge factory farm. Like pigs in a factory farm, humans aren’t treated as individuals; they are just parts of a huge machine. In order to keep the machine operating, people must behave accordingly, be good workers and obey their superiors, who in turn must obey their superiors. Everything is controlled by governments and multinational corporations. An individual can make a difference only if he knows the right people. Decisions are not based on what is good, rational, scientific, or what promotes individual well-being and happiness. Decisions are based on how the influential individuals will gain the maximum personal profit.
I hate being part of the machine but I don’t know how to get out of it because my life depends on it. A part of me would like to play by the rules, to advance within the society; another part of me would want to become an anarchist hippy.
I believe the biggest social problem is that our society is too focused on profit instead of individual happiness… which is odd, because happy people are more productive. When dealing with social problems, only the symptoms are treated and not the reasons behind it. For example, if there is a school shooting, everyone wants to ban guns and enforce stricter control. No one asks why a student felt so bad they felt like resorting to such extreme behavior. Usually, there is a social problem behind it, like bullying. But it’s easier to ban weapons than get rid of bullying. But because the underlying reason is still there, nothing changes. If guns are harder to get, they’ll find other weapons.
Another example would be drug addicts. This problem is dealt with by making drugs illegal and putting the addicts in prison. However, it doesn’t help because we’re treating the symptom, not the cause. Many addicts come from a poor background and hopeless living conditions, so they turn to drugs to “escape”. But it’s easier to enforce laws than try to prevent addiction by providing people with better opportunities and living conditions. It’s easier to put addicts in jail instead of providing treatment. But as long as we have troubled individuals, we’ll have drug addicts, and as long as we have addicts, we’ll have people producing and dealing illicit drugs – and making huge profits.
I believe people need more compassion and understanding and less control. But the word understanding has a bad rap because too many use it as an excuse for unhealthy behavior. Understanding should be used as a tool for preventing unhealthy behavior, not as an excuse.
I don’t really choose my friends; it just happens. If we have a connection, we become friends. I have a lot of acquaintances but very few friends because I’m picky about the people I want to spend time with. How do you behave around strangers?
I behave differently around different friends. Like I said earlier, I am a social chameleon, and I can’t help this behavior even with friends. Sometimes I feel I can’t fully be myself around people, not even my friends, but I usually become more relaxed when I get closer to them.
I am polite, friendly and smiling. If it seems appropriate, I’ll strike up some small talk. I am shy around acquaintances but not with total strangers. My behavior also depends on the setting: If it’s a business setting, I’ll be brief, serious, businesslike and emotionally distant; if it’s an informal setting, I’ll try to lighten up the mood, close the emotional distance and create rapport.