Sunday, May 11, 2014

Salvacion - Reaction Papers: The Life of Mammals, A Beautiful Mind & Cinema of the Subconscious (3)

Salvacion, Miguel Karlo D.

Reaction about the Social Climbers and Food for Thought

                  It has been known for a fact that the closest intellectual beings to humans are the monkeys. I have watched many documentaries before about monkey behaviour. The social climbers added further knowledge about how lifestyles of monkeys can be so relative to human habits. After all, monkeys are the closest argument to the theory of evolution.

                  The title social climber is more like of a metaphor for humans and monkeys alike. Within our society, being labelled as a social climber has a negative connotation among peers. If we define what a social climber is, it is someone who wants to belong or to be accepted in a group and have a status or higher social standing. In my opinion this is kind of a natural thing among people because no one wants to be an outcast. This is also true for monkeys. I was amazed that even with monkeys, a hierarchy or a social system also exists. Not only that, it somewhat mirrors what humans would do just to be accepted in a group.

                  Another amazing thing is like humans, apes can utilize simple tools like rocks and other things in their surroundings to help in their daily living. This can be seen when Capuchins used tree branches to crack clam shells for food. This is like what our first ancestors tried to do, looking for things to help them in their quest for searching resources to feed their basic needs. When I was watching the documentary, I was thinking if I were a monkey and I observed other Capuchins cracking the clam shells, I can definitely say that is an easy task. But the narrator explained that older Capuchins are most likely experts in cracking clam shells. I realize that apes have no concept of experience, how can they be experts. But that’s the point of adaptation you can be better at things just like humans.

                  Different kinds of primates are like different tribes of humans. Some don’t get along too well, others are indifferent to each other, and the rest can be allies. We saw in the documentary that allied monkeys protect each other by having an alarm system when danger is near. Just like allied tribes, they watch each other’s back for possible danger. The monkeys that don’t get along too well are the ones who compete for dominance. This can be observed when monkeys like the Chimpanzees eat or kill other monkeys to show domination.

                  In the human context, just like our primate relatives, we show dominance by conquering other nations, building advanced infrastructure, and flourishing in our resources. In the documentary food for thought, I realized that humans constantly look for ways to evolve and adapt. From simple cultivation of land to advancing simple tools to machines, towns became cities and from then on a civilization was born. With these two documentaries, it explains a lot about if humans were to have a beginning this can be originated to the life of monkeys. The theory of evolution is still a big mystery but if we were to look at in a different perspective, we really are advanced and super smart monkeys.

Reaction about “A Beautiful Mind”

                  The film was very familiar to me because I am an economics major and in my economics classes, the professors always mention the surname Nash and of course the Game Theory. They also suggested watching “A Beautiful Mind” before but it was just my first time watching the film in the STS class.

I have always known John Nash as one of the greatest contributors to the field of economics. The Game Theory is so brilliant that it explains the mechanics on how to choose the winning strategy. The Nash equilibrium gives us not only the explanation to situations but also a lesson about life. Personally, that is the greatest thing that John Nash taught us, that pursuing personal interest is not the best way to go.

The title of the film for me meant two things. The mind is beautiful in a sense that it can achieve a very high intellectual level and also the mind is beautiful because it gives us something that we lack. In the case of Nash, his mind gave him an alternate reality to help himself feel good about himself. It his mind’s way to adapt to his weakness. We can never fully understand it but it is still beautiful because it gave us an explanation how our minds really work.

I always thought that John Nash was the usual genius. I never thought that he was mentally ill. It must have been very hard to make a great contribution with such hindrance and difficulty. This is another great achievement for him. I think it is really difficult graduating from college without any social circle. It is a great mystery that the mind was able to make up for this lack of relationship from other people. It is dangerous but Nash was able to use it to his advantage. Although at the latter part of the film, his sickness was dominating him that it nearly costs him his life, family, and self. But apparently, he was able to pick himself up and not let the sickness take over.

When I took up Psych 101, I was always confused about Schizophrenia, Multiple Personality Disorder, and the Bipolar Disorder. It was a very simple illustration in the film what happens to schizophrenic people. We can never fully understand the way they live but I think the best way to help these people is to provide them the cause of their sickness. I think these people developed these sicknesses beforehand because they lack something and theirs mind make up for these losses.

The story of John Nash is a classic case of too much of anything is bad. John Nash was so smart that it became a bad thing for the people around him. It wasn’t his fault but at some point in time I think he realized that somehow he should stop stressing himself in his obsession and take a look at things in another perspective.

Reaction about “Cinema of the Subconscious”

                  It is always a mystery to me why we always dream and what it means in our lives. During my Psych 101 class, they explained the process of the brain when we are sleeping. But there is no definite explanation about our dreams. Personally, I think dreams are the brain’s way to refresh us of our memories, thoughts, and aspirations. It is the way the brain explains to us what our thoughts can mean in a very interesting way.

                  Sometimes I have thought that my dreams are more interesting than what is happening in my real life. Maybe this can be explained by lucid dreaming. I want to control my dreams the way what I want to happen it to the real world. But it is a mystery that even in lucid dreaming there are unexpected things that still happen. It is unexpected because I never thought of those scenarios.

                  The documentary explained some of the mysteries of dreaming, but I was kind of waiting for the topic of precognition or Déjà vu. From personal experience, I had dreamt of scenarios that really happened in real life and the scenario was exactly how I dreamt it. I have always thought that the brain has the capacity of precognition or seeing a glimpse of the future. I was also kind of hoping that the documentary would explain the process of dreaming of the blind people. I have always wondered how blind people can dream if they don’t have an idea of what things look like.

                  The documentary also tried to explain sleep paralysis. I never experienced it before; they said it was so scary because you can’t move. In the Filipino context especially in the provinces, they said that if sleep paralysis occurs there is some kind of extra-terrestrial or paranormal activity that is happening to you. Being a man of science I don’t usually believe in that kind of stuff, the documentary helped in explaining why and how sleep paralysis occurs. I was hoping that the documentary explained a lot more of nightmares. I’ve always thought that nightmares were just bad dreams, but it is a mystery that somehow nightmares can make a person die in his sleep.

                  In the documentary, there was a lady that shared one of her dreams and she said that she was looking at herself in the dream. Old folks used to tell me that when you see yourself in a dream it means that it can be a near death experience or it was bad luck. Basically the documentary explained some basic questions about dreaming and they really did well explaining it. But it would be very interesting if they explained astral projection. The documentary also gave explanations about dreams, but I always questioned how they came up with explanations to dreams.

                  Summing it up, the process of dreaming is the boundary of where science can only explain. After the dreaming the process and you wake up in an alternate universe the realist point of view takes part. Every dream is subject to your own interpretation. Maybe sometimes having good dreams is a way the brain help us in recovering from stress in the real world.


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