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June 02, 2008


Michael Netzley

John, this is a very sharp and thoughtful post. Thanks for bringing the article to our attention and unpacking some of the assumptions. I shall go back and read the original.

I am just thinking about the frames used. I notice the continued use of hierarchy. Why does standing outside to smoke have to be "counter" culture? Perhaps this is just another network. As we have heard elsewhere, in the digital world things need not be placed in hierarchies on a shelf...links alone are enough. I suspect this is what you are pointing out to us?

Thanks again and I hope all is well. The wiki is updated, so I will write soon.

Matt Searles

You know.. Carl Jung did some stuff on this nearly 100 years ago.. His association tests would demonstrate the presence of "association complexes" that would operate in a way that was independent of self.. He also showed how certain kinds of complexes could move through groups.. particularly with family.. say with alcoholism and certain kinds of abuses / behavior patterns of various sorts.

There's a way where if your mom was married to an alcoholic, and your a women.. you're more like to turn your spouse into an alcoholic, even if he wasn't one to begin with...

The underlying dynamics are complex.. in essence.. well you can look at Maslow hierarchy.. you could say that beneath consciousness is a kind of hierarchical ordering of needs.. which consciousness it's self is driven by.. this hierarchy drives, you could say, your personal values.. much like the relationship of supply and demand. When people get together in groups this becomes collectivized.. driving the consciousness of the group..

So, if we are talking about.. well lets say addiction, what's it's value? If you talk to an addiction specialist you'll learn that the addiction is a way of managing pain. Addiction is a short term solution.. so what you then need is a solution that has more value then the addiction for what the addiction serves..

I think it's also worth noting that you have what Nietzsche calls the dyonesian and appolonian instincts.. the dyonesian tends to be more about self destruction / disintegration.. where as the appolonian tends to be more civilizing, to put it a certain way. The thing is they both have a value in collective evolution.. We inherit a set of values which the appolonian tends to conserve.. the trouble is the question of the value of the value.. another words, what's the relationship of the value to our underlying needs.. the dyonesian instinct is one that leads to a more organic evolution that creates a situation where the underlying needs have more impact on the evolution..

If you look at the shifts in American values in the 60s and 70s, with the hippies and what not, you can see this in action.

So, is smoking as self destructive ties into how you're relating to all this..

So what I'm saying is that there are deeper forces at play in how social networks relate to behavior.. even if I'm only speaking to a small part of these forces..

Joseph Campbell used to say that if you want to save the world, the best thing you can do is save your self.. I think this ties in rather nicely

And one last comment is that HIndu metaphysics deals nicely with these issues to.. take a like at Indra's Net.. the notion of us all being the dream characters in one anothers dreams.

Finally.. complexes have a relationship to archtypes.. so that the angels and demons and what not.. found in mythology, are representations of these complexes..


Great post, John, and thanks so much for the SMU plug! I hope we'll have a chance to meet up next time I'm in town.


Great post, John, and thanks so much for the SMU plug! I hope we'll have a chance to meet up next time I'm in town.

John Bell

@Michael - I agree that the impulse to demostrate hiererchies is probably some left-over compulsion. The smoker as counter-culture is probably an accurate statement here in the US - they have become a minority, they are "shunned" in public places and forced to find their own "places." The idea of counter culture mans to me a minority that rebels against the norm. Semms to fit to me.

Lorelei F

There is also a social network called Nicotine Anonymous that has been very useful to smokers who are quitting. In addiction, it is hard to say which is more important to address- the body, mind, or spirit- as all are important. Certainly a network of friends and like-minded individuals makes a big difference.

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