A Beautiful Mind

One of my old friends – an Iranian woman who happens to be a few years older than I am – once told me during a conversation we had a few years ago at a hookah bar with a group of friends that there are subconscious drivers which take us to wherever we need to go in life, regardless of our conscious actions and thoughts. In essence, we have no choice but to accomplish certain things because there are exogenous and subconscious factors which are driving the actions and thoughts behind our accomplishments and activities.

That was perhaps one of the best lessons I ever had on Freudian psychoanalysis from anyone other than Freud’s direct texts, even though before that conversation, I had studied Freud to a certain extent in a 1960’s American literature class under an American professor with a PhD from Brown University when I was a college student. My Iranian lady friend showed me that certain people – despite their limited education and schooling – have a better grasp of certain ideas and thoughts than people with master’s degrees and PhDs. Moreover, Iranian food, Iranian women, Iranian art, and Iranian culture stand out among all the rest and are primus inter pares, aside from Moroccan food, women, art, and culture. I was once told that you haven’t really made love until you’ve made love with an Iranian woman.

            And in the 21st century, social scientists like Cass Sunstein as well as Daniel Kahneman have taken the two basic levels of analysis pertaining to the human mind that were first put forth by Freud to new and elevated heights. Kahneman argued in a famous book titled “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” that there are two levels or systems in the human mind. For one, there is “System One,” which is driven by impulses such as acquisitiveness, rivalry, greed, and lust. On the other hand, there is “System Two,” which is more deliberative and logical, and is driven by cooperation, empathy, and moral consciousness. Developing “System Two” means delayed gratification over instant gratification and thus better social outcomes such as knowledge, wisdom, love, and romance in the long run as opposed to mundane acquisitions resulting from the impulses behind “System One” in the short run.

            On a personal level, I can corroborate Kahneman’s dichotomy of the human mind because for more than eight years now, I have been developing “System Two” and thus have chosen delayed gratification over instant gratification since finishing grad school in August of 2013. And the results have been a book and a blog of high caliber which in turn can open doors, if necessary, in addition to rich life experiences and travels. There are few things – if any – that I would have done differently if given the chance to go back in time. What matters at this moment is the course of action going forward, which will be largely defined by academics and teaching. Perhaps lecturing and teaching on a platform beyond a blog is the next step moving forward. In any case, the journey itself might be worthy of more focus than the destination.

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