Friday, January 15, 2021

Why Trump’s Influence Will Remain After He’s Gone


            Many of us are counting the days until the President of the United States makes his official exit from the American government.  The hope is that a new era is dawning of more civilized humane inclusive equitable governance.  And the United States will get on track again to be a more constructive leader of the free world.

            To some extent, the basis of this hope is justified.  But unlike other American presidents, Trump is not going to simply retire to the sidelines of the game of politics.  We must remember that 71,000,000 people voted for him.  And they aren’t going to simply disappear into the  woodwork.  The results of the November election demonstrate this.  Even though the Democrats won the two runoff elections in Georgia, they will control the Senate by the slimmest of margins.  And contrary to their own pre-election assessments, the Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives.  So Trump may be out of office soon, but Trumpian ideas are alive and well, thank you.

Actually, to even name what Trump has to offer as ideas is an undeserved compliment.  While there may be some consistent themes in his presidential actions like nationalism and racism, the most consistent theme is unpredictability.  And constantly and arbitrarily challenging the status quo.  The latter has been particularly present in his last days in office, as he tries to hold onto the presidency through every maneuver he can exercise.

In truth, though, the problem is not just him.  Thousands of his followers carried out a violent insurrection on the day that Biden’s election was supposed to be certified.  These extremists broke into the Capitol building with guns and rifles and bombs and who knows what else.  They did it, because they believe that Trump was cheated out of the presidency.  Wonder where they got that idea.  Anyway, we are not just talking about the possibility of peaceful demonstrations here.  We’re talking about insurrections with armed violence.  And Trump, of course, was winking at this the day of Biden’s certification.

Plus, Trump is already talking about running for president again.  As are many of his Trumpian followers.  So the Trump posture is firmly positioned in the Republican Party for the foreseeable future.  But why?

As I have discussed before, the problem with his followers is not simply one of ideology .  How much coherent ideology does Trump have anyway?  The problem is one of psychology.  And one of the main causal factors has nothing to do directly with typical political issues.  This factor is the excessive immersion in modern technological living environments and, in particular, modern consumer technology.  Even people who live in rural communities in the United States have become totally captivated by the screen reality created by modern consumer technology.  Their connection to the organic stimuli of natural environments becomes attenuated as their connection to the screen reality created by modern consumer technology grows.   At any rate, people in modern technological society are sinking deeper and deeper into an experiential vacuum that has resulted in people becoming increasingly numb.  And because this numbness is experienced as a kind of scary living death where people cease to feel that they have agency over their lives, they try different kinds of compensatory experiences to pull themselves out of the numbness.  Experiences with sharp edges to them.  Experiences with kicks.  Like riding motorcycles and driving race cars.  Like going to concerts where the music is so loud, it eventually causes hearing loss.  Like opioids.  Like experiences with violence as in mass murders.  And like Trump.  Trump is followed not so much because of the substance of his beliefs.  Trump is followed because everything about him is constantly shifting.  He takes his followers on a wild ride, as if he were a bucking bronco.  He brings people out of their numbness and back to life.

            Now as I have shown, Trump is not the only experience available that can pull people out of numbness.  But over 70,000,000 people voted for Trump.  That’s an awful lot of people who were seduced by his persona.  And even if his antics do cause some of his supporters to feel buyers’ remorse, as in the case of the recent insurrection, an awful lot of them will be left.  And even if Trump should disappear from the political scene, he has set certain things in motion such that his way of doing things will continue now and well into the future.  Already, other Trumpian politicians are planning for a campaign for the presidency in 2024.  Some of them, senators, were involved in slowing down the certification process for Biden.  With the encouragement and pressure from Trump, some of them were involved as conduits for undermining the credibility of the presidential election.  And thus for setting in motion the violent protests that occurred in Washington D.C.

            Unfortunately, the Trumpian craziness will persist, because of the influence of something that is part of the modern landscape.  Until we can find a way to reconfigure the fields of experience today, adding much more organic stimulation to the mix, and cutting down drastically on the immersion in screen reality, the Trumpian problem will persist.  And it’s not just about Trump anyway.

© 2021 Laurence Mesirow




Juvenile Difficulties With Learning During The Age Of Covid

            Two articles ago, I wrote on the effects of the interaction between Covid and modern consumer technology on the socialization of young people today.  In this article, I want to focus on the effects of this interaction on the education of young people today.  In particular, I want to focus on the effects of learning through all the two-dimensional imagery from computers.  One might say that books only give off the two-dimensional imagery of letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and whole pages.  But letters and words are symbols that stimulate a lot of conceptual thought, which knows no boundaries in terms of physical dimensions.  On the other hand, watching screens definitely though subtly molds thinking in a particular bound way.  Watching a lot of images on a two-dimensional screen definitely interferes with the development of deep thinking. On the other hand, book reading does lend itself to deeper thinking.  Book reading is a combination of defined discrete entities in thoughts moving across the page in flowing blendable continual imagery.  All radiating out in many different directions.

            Screen learning, which is what many students are doing during the age of Covid, configures the mind to be receptive to entities and images that in many cases started out physically three-dimensional (the professor or teacher and his class presentation) and get converted by the computer into visually two-dimensional entities and images.  There is something unreal, almost ghostly about these entities and images.  They lack mass, matter, substance and texture.  There is nothing physical to touch or hold onto.  These entities and images are abstracted vacuumized phenomena with which it is much more difficult to bond than if they were three-dimensional phenomena or even conceptual phenomena from books.

            When all is said and done, our ability to mentally group concepts together corresponds to our potential to physically group things together.  Stereoscopic (three-dimensional vision) is like a kind of prehensile vision – vision that touches and grasps.  When we eliminate three-dimensional (stereoscopic) vision from learning, we eliminate one of the most important senses for knowing the world.  And we put our students into an experiential vacuum.  A vacuum where it is difficult to bond with the knowledge that students are supposed to learn.  Covid and consumer technology make it very difficult to bond with knowledge and with the teachers that present it.  And less bonding means less absorption.

            Stereoscopic vision, which is prehensile vision is the way we use sight not only to bond with other people and fully grasp objects and other phenomena, but it is also the way we have to ground ourselves in our living environments.  But if students continue to spend so much of their time in front of computers, not only will they lose the opportunity to spend a lot of time with sources for prehensile vision in the external world, but they will also lose the opportunity to fully develop the capacity to utilize their prehensile vision.  And they will remain stuck in the experiential vacuum that is two-dimensional vision.  And being stuck in this two-dimensional vacuum means being stuck in numbness. A numbness that will make it more difficult for them to group in a three-dimensional way the concepts and the information that they have to learn in school.  Screen reality learning can’t hurt short-term learning where all knowledge has to do is temporarily stick to the mind as it were.  But screen reality learning will affect long-term learning, where knowledge has to be grasped and held.  A situation when imprints made on the mind can be fully preserved.

             Screen learning is not a form of vibrant learning.  It just does not involve the kind of intense interaction with the subject which leads to a lasting impression from the encounter. And yet this is becoming the foundation for learning in the age of Covid.  And young people, at an important time in their lives are not developing their eyes and their brains in such a way that they can properly absorb, and utilize stereoscopic visual experience.  Without strong prehensile vision, young people don’t develop the capacity to hold onto and to apply and commit thoughts to situations in the external world.  Hence, the high turnover in employment in companies, the growing amount of divorce, the growing amount of physical mobility, as people lose the capacity to commit to a geographic place.  Finally, there is the growing loss of capacity to commit to oneself.  The numbness generated by screen learning is overpowering and makes it subtly more difficult to hold onto oneself as a coherent whole. Floating in a vacuum and not being able to bond or ground can lead to focused self-destructive actions to fight off the entropic disintegration generated by the vacuum.  One form of self-destruction to fight off a more subtle but larger destruction of the self.

            So stereoscopic or prehensile vision is often overlooked, but does have an important role in human development.  And too much immersion in online learning as a result of Covid will therefore lead to pathological consequences for young people in the distant future.

© 2021 Laurence Mesirow 

Finding A Deeper Honesty In Today’s World


                        When we hear the word honesty, we think of a concept that is fairly simple and straightforward.  But actually honesty serves two distinct purposes in life.  First, when someone is honest with someone else, it allows the two of them to share in an intersubjective, if not objective reality about a situation. This, in turn, allows the two of them to work and function more effectively in the situation.  Second, honesty allows the second person, if he knows he is receiving the truth, to open himself up emotionally to the first person, thus creating a deeper emotional bond.  The first situation leads to anchoring.   One is weighted down to the floor without attaching to it.  And people are juxtaposed without being emotionally merged.  The second situation leads to grounding.  One develops roots to attach to the ground.  Here people deep-bond with one another as well as ground in one another.

            Modern technological society, with all of its interchangeable machine parts, is very conducive to anchoring.  To come together, people share factual truths with one another in order to help themselves keep their complex machines and their increasingly mechanized social groupings operating effectively.  Factual truths are meant to help both individuals and groups trust one another which is the foundation of any successful group activity.

            Emotional honesty is something different.  It is an honesty that allows people to come together and deep bond and partially merge.  This involves a greater vulnerability of oneself.  A deeper opening up not only to the possibility of connection, but also to the possibility of hurt and even abandonment.

            Now these two kinds of honesty don’t always complement each other.  Should a husband tell his wife if she doesn’t look good in a new dress that she loves.  Some people might say that being honest in this case is being brutally frank.  That it disrupts the flow of emotional commitment by temporarily hurting the wife.  But you say, being emotionally honest means being able to trust what a person says.  The wife should appreciate that her husband loved her enough that he wanted to let her know when she was making what in his opinion was the wrong decision in buying the dress.  Unfortunately, some spouses would rather be lied to than to confront that kind of truth.

            And how does one deal with the situation where a parent manipulates a child’s school records in order to get him into a good college or university.  On one level, the child can maintain his sense of trust that his parent loves him and is there for him.  But this is done at the cost of the presentation of the factual truth to the external world.  Certainly, this would have repercussions in the child’s ability to believe his parent in other factual situations, even when the child is to some extent complicit in the parent’s fabrications.

            I would say that emotional truths and emotional honesty have been of greater importance in most more traditional societies while factual truths and factual honesty are of greater importance in modern technological society.  In a vacuum and tension-pocket society, where there are few natural physical spaces to ground and deep-bond, people are much more likely to focus on the factually accurate rather than the emotionally sustainable in dealing with problems of honesty.  Factual honesty may be very good for keeping a society running like a machine.  But when a person is as numb as most people are today, it is hard for such a person to not only be emotionally honest with himself, to love himself, and to be committed to himself, but also to be able to emotionally bond with others.

            In an ideal world, a person could have a balance between feeling grounded and feeling anchored.  There would be a perfect balance between traditional components and modern technological components in one’s living environment.  But time and life march on and such states of balance are like fleeting moments, if they ever really exist at all.  Right now, for the most part, there are imbalances towards factual honesty and away from emotional honesty.  Some people, as in the case of the parents who bend the facts of their child’s records so the child can get into a good school, overcompensate in their attempt to promote their emotional honesty over factual honesty leading to disastrous results.  This is not the way to show emotional commitment, but if one is numb, perhaps it is an attempt to blast through the numbness with emotional expression to prove to oneself that he is being emotionally honest.

            For most people today, the major cause for concern is an imbalance towards factual honesty.  And this corresponds to the way that modern technological society is set up with its focus on anchoring rather than grounding. Anchoring does not promote the deep connections to the external world that grounding does.  One can easily disconnect and break away from an anchor and float off in a vacuum.  So the key is to try to get connected to more natural environments or patches of natural environments.  These environments can act as templates for deeper bonding with other people and a healthier more balanced life where a large dose of emotional honesty can play a role.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow


Juvenile Social Isolation In The Age Of Covid

             Nowadays, there is a lot of concern expressed regarding the education of our children during Covid.  There is, of course, concern expressed regarding the potential dangers for these children having in-person classes.  So far, for kindergarten through 12th grade, there have been no major outbreaks of the illness among children physically attending school.  A different kind of concern has been repeatedly discussed regarding those children getting all or the bulk of their education online.  Such children experience social isolation as a result of not being able to physically mingle to some degree with their classmates in the external world.  Such children supposedly do not have the opportunity to develop the social skills necessary to becoming a fully functional human being.  My own feeling is that there is a legitimate reason to be worried, although, given the nature of Covid and how it can attack the teachers as well as students, it is certainly understandable that many school districts have implemented online learning.

            A larger question is why are so many people focused on the issue of social isolation only since Covid.  Covid has made things worse, but Covid definitely did not start the trend toward social isolation among young people.  If parents and educators are concerned about the loss of social skills among children, they can look to the growing non-educational use of computers and video games.  Over and over again, one hears stories about children who don’t want to go out to play after school with their friends, because they are so transfixed with their video games and with their social media.  As was pointed out in a previous article there are cases of kids who wear diapers so they wouldn’t have to interrupt a video game contest or tournament by going to the bathroom.  These are children for whom screen reality replaced external world reality as the dominant form of experience long before Covid came on the scene.  Perhap, Covid, by forcing adults to pay attention to an area of children’s experience for which they are directly responsible, has also forced adults to come to grips with what the increasing dominance of screen reality is doing to these children’s lives.

            The classic scene that gets conjured up in my mind is that of a group of pre-teen children sitting together in pre-Covid days, each one of which is texting a child who is somewhere else and not a part of the group.  It was so hard for these kids to connect through primary experience in external world reality with another kid who was sitting next to them.  Because of all the time that kids spend on their devices, they lose the capacity to connect with others in the external world, and to absorb such more intimate encounters.  As time goes on, more and more of these now grownup kids have trouble holding their marriages and their relationships with their significant others together.  The more time that people spend in screen reality, the more difficulty they will have bonding in close relationships.

            Now from what I will call the transition generations (people who first embraced modern technology well into late adolescence or young adulthood), the effects of this technology are definitely present, but more subtle.  We don’t know for sure what will happen to the kids who were first exposed to modern consumer technology as young children, but we can safely predict that it will lead to more and more lonely people who are incapable of properly absorbing what they so desperately need and want.

            Covid is temporarily at least making things worse if only because people aren’t so much being gently seduced into social distancing as they are being compelled to socially distance by, among other things, stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.  And when people do gather together at large parties, weddings, or religious services they are shamed and rebuked by the larger society.  So Covid is reinforcing the intentions of technology companies that want to make their devices and their software the main conduits of human communication.

            On the other hand, the fact that Covid is highlighting the situation of excessive immersion by young people in screen reality, and the resulting social isolation may have some long-term beneficial effects.  It will force teachers, educators, social workers and, most important of all, parents to come to grips with what is happening to the young people in their charge.  Hopefully, the adults in the lives of these young people will start focusing on ways to diminish the influence and control of this increasingly persuasive addiction.  In particular, maybe parents will start to realize that spending quality time with their children does not mean sitting next to them while they watch one television program after the next.  With Covid still around, parents can read to younger kids and play games and do crafts with children of all ages.  This will go a long way to alleviate social isolation at a time when it may be a little problematic for children from different households to play together.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow

Ageing In An Age Of Planned Obsolescence

             The other day, I was in a discussion with about 10 other people – all seniors – about aging.  The moderator asked all of us what was the first thing that we thought of when we thought about ageing.  Most people said deterioration, falling apart, or words to that effect.  Getting ready for the end.  It was all about going downhill.  This is very different from the way ageing is perceived in traditional societies.  There, older people are venerated for their wisdom and treated with great respect.  In traditional societies, older people are seen as being refined over a long period of time like an aged cheese or an aged wine.

            But in modern technological society, ageing is something that is not to be looked forward to.  A growing loss of respect leads to a sense of isolation.  Not only does ageing lead to a loss of physical grounding in one’s body, but it can lead to a loss of social grounding in one’s community.  An older person is seen as a repository of infirmities rather than a repository of memories and insights.  Older children frequently don’t live close to their parents, and so the parents lack a vital support system.  They end up in an experiential vacuum, living lives of boredom and numbness.

            The biggest problem we have in modern technological society, leading to incomplete distorted attitudes towards older people, is that we continually implicitly compare people to computers and other forms of machines.  We talk about people being “wired” for this and “wired” for that.  The last I looked there were no wires in the human body.  But we also look at the human body as a machine in another way.  We think that humans, like machines, have a planned obsolescence built into them.  That they simply deteriorate as they get older and that nothing, at least nothing that matters, improves.  This is why there is so much ageism in the modern workplace.  An older worker may not have the energy or volume of productivity of a younger worker.  But frequently, what we call wisdom can lead to an improvement of the quality of the work output.  Age does have its advantages.

            A machine is an entity made up of detachable interchangeable parts.  Parts can be continually replaced until it is concluded that it is no longer worth the money to keep the machine going.  A human is an entity made up of parts that are not easily detachable.  Yes, sometimes artificial parts are used to replace defective body parts as with hip and knee replacements.  And sometimes, organic parts are used to replace defective organs as with hearts and kidneys.  But the replacement of parts in humans is much more complicated than the replacement of parts in a machine in that there is a much greater likelihood of damaging the human’s total health in the process of the replacement.  Parts in humans are just not easily replaceable.  Which is why surgeons make so much more money than mechanics.  You can’t just screw off or screw on parts with humans.  A human forms an organic whole in a way that a computer or a machine does not form a mechanical whole.  A human is valued as a whole entity or should be much more than a computer or a machine.

            And this is why the comparison - both direct and implicit – between humans, on the one hand, and computers or machines is so dangerous.  It diminishes the value of humans.  And to see humans as they age completely in terms of planned obsolescence gives a person, as he gets older, really nothing to look forward to.  Because the things that are holding him together –  including even a coherent sense of self – just aren’t as significant as the things that are pulling him apart.

            And if a person, as he gets older, is unable to find people around him who value him for his qualities as an older person, that person has to find ways of maintaining his self-esteem by valuing himself.  And to find ways of valuing himself, he must first diminish his interfacing with consumer technology, and in particular, the technology of screen reality.  This unconscious interfacing will cause him to allow these modern machines to mirror him and to model for him and to plant a more robotic identity inside of him.  As a person gets older, he must find a way to increase the primary experience from the external world in his life so that he can continue to make, receive and preserve organic imprints so that he can feel more vibrantly alive and prepare for death when it does come with a meaningful surrogate immortality.  There should be no reason why a person can’t continue to develop some kind of a strong life narrative well into old age and thus, have something of value to live for.  So that he doesn’t have to see himself simply as a series of rusting body parts.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow

Are Private Militias Going To Take Over The World

             Since Trump became president, there has been an enormous growth of private militias in the United States.  There are a few reasons for this.  One of them is based on pure racism.  There is a white nationalist underpinning to the formation of many of these groups.  A lot of the members of these groups are afraid of what is going to happen to white people when white people become the minority race in the U.S.  So these militias feel an obligation to physically defend white people against what is seen as any possible threat - physical, psychological or social – from non-white people, among which Jews naturally are included.

            Another reason is to defend themselves against all sorts of perceived threats to their personal liberties.  The right to bear arms, the right to graze cattle on government land, the right not to wear masks or not to follow the rules for a lock down or for stay-at-home orders.  The right to keep businesses open during the pandemic.

            But militias are definitely not exclusive to the U.S.  Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, the Philippines, even Europe, all have ongoing problems with militias.  And these places all seem to have one thing in common: a breakdown in the grounding provided by the state.  When the state can no longer help to provide people with social stability, economic security, or personal safety, people are forced to fall back on their own resources for self-protection.  And in a militia, the whole collective protects each individual.

            However, not all militias are populist phenomena.  Many militias are private armies created by a wealthy person to protect himself, his family and his cronies.  The soldiers in this militia are mercenaries, soldiers of fortune who enjoy fighting.  These kinds of militias are usually found in Third World countries, where there is a great deal of political turmoil.  The state is weak and income inequality is pronounced.  And wealthy people feel extremely vulnerable.

            So what do all these different kinds of militias have in common?  They are all attempts to bind people together in a defined discrete entity as a form of protection when social grounding is disintegrating and when the numbing entropic effects of a social experiential vacuum are making themselves felt.  Social grounding is definitely falling apart in a lot of Third World countries where, because of ongoing income inequality and religious zealotry, the state has always been and still is fragile.  And in Central Europe, militias have been created to deal with the growing migration from African and Middle Eastern countries.  These immigrants are perceived to be disruptive culturally as well as economically.

            But perhaps another level of causation is at work here.  All over the world, people are experiencing the numbing entropic effects of modern technology.  These effects are subtle and almost imperceptible, on the one hand, but overpowering and enveloping on the other.  Which is why they are not normally taken into consideration as causal factors in human life.  To pull out of the numbness and feel alive today, people feel a need to create new conflicts or to exacerbate preexisting conflicts.  So underneath the surface situations of racial and ethnic competition, religious intolerance and economic inequality, there is this basic structural problem of a lack of organic stimulation.

            And becoming a part of a militia is a wonderful way to become focused and alert and to feel vibrantly alive.  In the Middle Ages, lords defended the vassals and peasants that were under them and that had sworn allegiance to them, doing it with their own armies.  This was at a time when there weren’t strong formal nation states.  Security could only be provided by the equivalent of modern militias.  Except that the backdrop during the Middle Ages was not the experiential vacuum created by modern technology.  Instead it was the passionate emotions generated by living closer to nature.  The militias of the Middle Ages were built as an attempt to control and focus the passionate emotions generated by all the organic stimuli from the more traditional and natural environments in which people lived.

            The question today is as modern technology takes over more and more areas of life, will the use of militias continue to grow as people feel more and more insecure not simply as a result of projected enemies, but as a result of a growing enveloping experiential vacuum.  The supposed enemy is the surface cause, the surface excuse.  In fact, the real enemy is intangible, but nevertheless very present.  Unless we find a way to balance out this modern technology with more organic stimuli, more grounding from more traditional and natural environments, the use of militias to fight in vain against the bad effects of numbness and the experiential vacuum will continue to grow.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow 

When Life Doesn’t Smell Right


It is encouraging to see that there are still some people around who are interested in propping up one of the five senses that is normally pushed aside in the technological transformation of society.  In terms of smell, not only is it not important in the interaction between humans and machines, but its use is being further diminished as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.  It is hard to smell when one is wearing a mask much of the time.  And loss of smell is a distinguishing symptom among many people who contract Covid 19.

So the Odeuropa project could hardly come at a better time. It is a project being developed by some scientists and historians to recreate the aromas, the scents, the odors and the stenches that inhabited Europe between the 16th century and the early 20th century.  Everything from the scent of perfume to the stench of waste products.  Smells have not been discussed much in the narratives of historians and the ethnographies of cultural anthropologists that I have read.  It’s always the events and the thoughts as conveyed by sights and sounds.  What these modern investigators of Odeuropa are trying to put out there is that smells have played a more important role in human experience than has been previously admitted by social scientists.

Smell is a more grounding sense.  Not as grounding as touch, but much more grounding than sight or hearing.  And yet as life has become increasingly mediated as a result of modern technology, because modern technology has not found a way to easily replicate or utilize smell, it becomes less and less available and more difficult for people to absorb.  People shower constantly because they can’t stand the smell of their own bodies or, for that matter, the smells of bodies of other people.  And yet, because it has been discovered that many people are allergic to perfume and cologne, these people are not using scented chemicals to replace the washed-away body scents and odors.  Such people end up with no body smell at all.  They create an olfactory experiential vacuum.

But I would submit a positive olfactory sensory connection is a sensory connection that helps people to bond with one another.  Just like a strong olfactory sensory connection can help a person ground in his living environment.  Smell is a form of sensory merger.  A person sends off chemical molecules that another person absorbs and becomes one with.  The smell is a part that represents a whole coming together.

People tend to take showers or baths every day now, not only because of concerns about cleanliness, but because they don’t like the way they smell and they are worried that others don’t like the way they smell either.  Life is becoming more mediated not only in terms of visual and auditory life experience, but in terms of olfactory life experience as well.  And the more mediated their life experience becomes, the less people are capable of absorbing those aspects of olfactory primary experience that remain.  People are certainly less tolerant of stench today than they would have been in the 16th century when there was no indoor plumbing like we have today.  But more and more people also seem to be intolerant of the scents of perfumes and colognes.  There are more and more scent-free work and residential environments, because of people who have allergies to what should be considered pleasant scents.  So what would have happened to all the traditional cultures that have used perfume and colognes as a means to compensate for infrequent bathing.

By bathing as often as we do, we turn our bodies into olfactory sensory vacuums.  We avoid one very important way by which people can bond with one another.  Furthermore, very few of us regularly use scented candles or incense as a way to add an olfactory dimension to our living environments.  And when we go outside in urban areas, most of the olfactory stimuli that we encounter are abrasive stimuli: fumes from cars and industrial fumes.  These are truly stimuli that we have difficulty absorbing.

So the olfactory stimuli that we most commonly encounter today are machine-created abrasive stimuli, which, as mammalian humans, we are unable to properly absorb.  Nevertheless, as we try to live with these abrasive olfactory stimuli as well as the vacuum olfactory stimuli from the excessive sanitation we utilize in our daily lives, we develop difficulties absorbing the organic olfactory stimuli we should be absorbing.  So we repress the olfactory stimuli of our own bodies by constantly showering and bathing.  And most of us don’t use scented candles or incense.  And many people today don’t want to use perfume or cologne.

So our access to and our ability to absorb organic olfactory stimuli has been very effectively curtailed as a result of our encounters with modern technology.  We can only hope that the Odeuropa project will give us a new appreciation for the undervalued sense of smell.

© 2020 Laurence Mesirow