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Mechanical bodies and body image
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Jeni Nielsen



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 405

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:23 am    Post subject: Mechanical bodies and body image Reply with quote

So.... I guess I might as well start posting something of substance here.

Over break I watched, and mostly averted my eyes, from a show called Dr. 90210. This reality TV show is about the lives of plastic surgeons and their patients. Apparently this is a popular topic on TV nowadays as evidenced by more than one show like this including the fictional Nip-tuck.

This leads me to believe that, if given the opportunity to have customizable bodies as in Ghost in the Shell it would become like plastic surgery 10 fold. Don't like your left leg? Buy our latest upgrade model. I think this would, unfortunately, affect both men and women. Men can have body issues just like women can. (Maybe more men would buy strength upgrades)

I'm not saying that everyone would take up the charge. Also I think that, as with plastic surgery and body image nowadays, class issues are involved. What if you couldn't pay for the latest model?

I guess I'm just kind of thinking out loud, but I think that cyborg bodies would have an interesting effect on body image. Maybe you could even buy a model body that looked like your favorite movie star... Scary. Maybe we'd even end up all looking the same... urg.
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Black Mamba



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've also wondered this.

I assumed that each body bought is trademarked, like a patten. These are strongly enforced so that each person can mantain their identity.

Then again it may get to a point where your physical appearence doesn't matter at all in who you are.

This would make for an interesting episode of SaC.
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Bringin It Down



Joined: 02 Dec 2005
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Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always thought about this as well. But then again, self image and self esteem is tied in with how others perceive you. So if someone thinks you don't look good or your body is weird or something like that, you can just go get a replacement chasis and it, quite possibly, could have a positive effect on how you view yourself, not only physically but mentally.

I'm not saying this type of thing (or plastic surgery, for that matter) are cure alls for poor self image or self esteem, but in certain cases, if you don't like the way you look, you should change it and possibly feel better about yourself.
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Gillsing



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Pimp my ride" becomes "Pimp my bod". I think that that being unique is percieved as being important enough that most people won't strive to look completely the same as anyone else, but they may very well copy certain parts that they like. Even if everyone played the same game, they'd still play it differently, and then adjust their perspective to detect those differences.
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Jeni Nielsen



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bringin It Down wrote:
I've always thought about this as well. But then again, self image and self esteem is tied in with how others perceive you. So if someone thinks you don't look good or your body is weird or something like that, you can just go get a replacement chasis and it, quite possibly, could have a positive effect on how you view yourself, not only physically but mentally.

I'm not saying this type of thing (or plastic surgery, for that matter) are cure alls for poor self image or self esteem, but in certain cases, if you don't like the way you look, you should change it and possibly feel better about yourself.


But that doesn't seem right to me.

I've seen women who are basically addicted to plastic surgery and never feel like they have the body they want. I think self-image issues come from society, but ultimately are located within the person themselves. I think that the only way to gain self-confidence is to start from the inside out.

Also I realize that asking this topic on a predominately male forum is going to get different results than I expected Razz
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sonic
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think that the only way to gain self-confidence is to start from the inside out.


Definitely. You can be the most gorgeous person in the world, have an amazing figure (by most standards), have gorgeous hair and a perfect complextion; but it does not mean a thing if you don't feel good anyway. People looking at such a person would perhaps find that hard to understand or have much sympathy over, but no matter what you look like it's still possible to feel pretty awful about yourself.

In my experience, although I often feel great about myself there are times when I am incredibly insecure about going somewhere; and it's usually when something I ate the day before gave me a slight stomach ache or something really stupid like that... You just have that "out of synch with your own body" feeling, know what I mean? Anyway, although I see myself in the mirror and I know I look fine, in the past I'll have asked someone 20 times, "Are you sure I look okay?" (Stereotype, I know!). And the answer of that person doesn't actually make a difference to me one way or the other, so I guess it's nothing more than a reflexive impulse to the whole "feeling out of sorts with my body" thing, like a verbal nervous twitch (edit- or psychologically, the mirror itself tells you something different from how you are feeling momentarily, so you look to glance in the more 'human' mirror of another person's objective opinion, as it seems both your physical self and the non-human, literal mirror in front of you is lying. Sorry this thought is almost touching on the topic of which types of information source we personally gravitate to and why... interesting...). Why is this? Do I feel that there is something utterly offensive about my person, that the outside world cannot possibly see? No. It's just that at times like that I might suddenly be accutely aware of how I physically feel in a negative way, and that can't help but affect me mentally a bit. On the outside a person might look petit perhaps, but on the inside they feel like they're dragging around a sack of lead! And when you can actually feel that -even if you don't look that way at all- it generally makes you feel very uncomfortable, heavy, and ultimately a bit self-conscious. It's true for a 98lb person or a 300lb one... maybe more true for a 300lb one, but you get the picture. This is also true for people with beautiful faces and good-looking skin... It doesn't matter how perfect it looks if you live some place where the sun makes you feel to dry or you work a job that makes you feel run down and tired- you are going to feel just the same as if it's saggy and wrinkly!

So I guess what I'd want is for them to design the body that eliminates these annoying feelings, and keeps only the good parts regardless of what you look like (you always feel fresh-faced, lighter and wonderful)!

Seriously, I don't think plastic surgery is the ultimate answer though. I wouldn't criticise or condemn most people for having it done because it is a choice that is available to them, but I don't like the way companies can prey on people's insecurities. You should change yourself if you are that unhappy with yourself and it's getting in the way, but you should do it yourself if you ever want to genuinely feel better, and you should do it through hard work either physically (looking after yourself properly) or mentally (re-thinking the way you think about yourself and re-assessing what's important). I think you get more from it- a sense of achievement, pride on having conquered something, a sense evolution. Of course, some things are understandable that someone might need to take something extra to help with (i.e. bad and painful acne), and there are times when plastic surgery is a real blessing to somebody who has had something quite bad happen to them (i.e. if you were in a car crash or fire and were disfigured really badly, and desperately want to go back to looking how you did before).

Quote:
if someone thinks you don't look good or your body is weird or something like that, you can just go get a replacement chasis and it, quite possibly, could have a positive effect on how you view yourself


Shocked ! I'd feel terrible for anyone that was so controlled by what other people said about their body or looks that they felt compelled to live by it! It would mean they had such low esteem, the poor person... It might make them feel like they fit in on the outside, but once again I think it'd only be skin-deep in a lot of cases. And it's clear that if they changed themself for that reason, then other people will probably continue to have control over them. So they could really be singled out and made to feel bad for any reason that other people were cunning enough to "find" and turn into a "problem"- the way they talk, their family, their interests... even being too beautiful. You might feel better about changing your appearance to the perceived whims of the masses, but ultimately would you ever feel happy about what you are unless you then kept changing at everyone else's (perceived) beck and call, like some puppet of an unreasonable and unworthy controller?

Quote:
I guess I'm just kind of thinking out loud, but I think that cyborg bodies would have an interesting effect on body image. Maybe you could even buy a model body that looked like your favorite movie star... Scary.


Jeni, personally I would not be interested in a cyborg body in the traditional sense. I would much rather have something that was pratically as biological as a regular human body and was grown to look almost exactly the same as I do now, but which was just 'polished' a bit... I mean, a biological-based human body that had a reinforced immune system, that aged better and lasted longer. A body whose digestive system worked perfectly (within reasonable use) and never gave me any problems (no more feeling bloated after eating a mere sandwich, for the wheat allergy sufferers out there). A body that doesn't even have the chance of getting cancer or anything else bad, because the cells have been so thoroughly conditioned and treated before creation that nothing like that could happen (they'd have to work out what makes these diseases tick first of all, I suppose). A body where the skin was more resilient to moisture gain or loss and didn't get annoying or painful irritations like eczema (sp?) or simple rashes. A body I could choose to have the child-bearing function absent from (or present I guess, if you were an infertile person or a guy who wanted to be able to carry his own child), without needing to be taking pills or having surgery, if that's what I want (and no periods- I bet a lot of women would be glad about that! Although it's really okay unless you're one of those people that suffer with theirs, I guess). And of course, a body where a little excercise goes a long way, thanks to improvements in the muscle and lung growth department- I want to still work for it, but when I go for a really good workout I'd want it to make me even stronger. Basically, I want an interesting body of my own crafting, that above all feels good and is uber-healthy, but is still me; that still looks like me.

[edit - of course I'm not ungrateful for what I have; I'm merely fantacizing about what being human could be like in a more scientifically idealized world. Of course if you looked at it a certain way, I think expecting some kind of slightly more down-to-earth type of perfection on demand is a bit selfish and even lazy if your not the one willing to dedicate themselves to pursuing the science behind it. Maybe it's no different to the surgery of today- expecting things to happen for you just because you want them and have the money to change them without really doing much. I don't know; I'm not trying to be insensitive about people being emotionally driven from desperation to change themselves, either. You can't really know how someone feels in that situation, if you're not coming from their experiences I guess]

PS. If everybody looked like movie stars that would suck to me! Individually some of them might be nice-looking, but when you look at that crowd as a whole it gets lost in a sea of plastic... Actually, the thing is that when actors and actresses are being normal people doing normal things, most of them really look just like normal people, blemishes, wrinkles and all. They only look the way we see them once they've had tonnes of make-up applied, spent hours being dressed by professional dressers, had cameras and photographers take their pictures in just the right way... Some magazines are pretty low, the way they'll take pictures of someone famous shopping for food at their local supermarket or whatever in their normal lives, and it'll be a really unflattering picture where the magazine is remarking, "Look how she/he has changed!" or something cruel... No, that's just how people look in their normal lives, with no preparation and an unflattering camera. Evil or Very Mad


Last edited by sonic on Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:41 am; edited 5 times in total
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simon's ghost



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Sylphi covered a lot of ground but I thought I'd just add something about health issues. Now I don't know what I would choose if the means existed and if I had sufficient ressources, but I know I wouldn't discard the opportunity to get rid of the chronic pain I have in different spots. Being an ex football player (and a rather small one who used to play like a big one), I damaged my body a lot because I didn't use my quickness to my advantage and always confronted the hits. 8 years out of football, I am still in the healing process. I feel some progress in my right knee, though it varies a lot week in an week out, because my work is physically demanding, but my hips are a mess, my shoulder has limited strenght in extension, my ankles are always tender. So I know for sure that I would at least be tempted to fix my lower body. It would completely change my perspective on how long I will be able to maintain my active lifestyle. I love to work out, I have to be fit and able to perform in order to coach, but you can't do much work on top of injuries.

As far as esthetic concerns go, I don't even want to get into that. I've always had a sweet tooth and a tendency to stay inside and it shows a bit around my waist, but I would hate myself for taking the easy way out. My whole life (ok that may sound over the top a bit) is built around my will to improve what I am, but it's not improvement if it's someone else doing the job for you, it's only compensation and compensation brings about a domino effect, physically and mentally. Patching a hole is not fixing the source of the leak.
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Bringin It Down



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't mean to ruffle anyones feathers here, I was just stating what I learned in my (as childish as it seems) psychology class. I agree that good self image and self esteem should come from the inside out, but there are people who are incapable of feeling good about the way they feel, and sometimes it requires the planting of a seed of hope (in certain cases, plastic surgery or toning your body of exceess body fat) can help, and I emphasize help a person (male or female) feel better about themselves, and that little seed of hope can sometimes make all the difference. I agree that you shouldn't have to go to such drastic measures to make themselves look nicer or feel nicer, but one of my philosophies has always been "to each his own." I wouldn't personally suggest it to anyone, I'd rather them spend that money on perhaps a therapist or something that would have more of a long lasting effect, but who am I to tell a person what to do with their life while I'm not perfect myself? I agree with Sylphi in the fact that there are times when I don't exactly think I look the greatest, and I sometimes consider going to the gym (rarely, I think 140 is a good weight for a guy thats 6 foot) to perhaps feel better about my lack of "physical" attraction, but I usually can snap myself right out of it. I actually know people who have felt so bad about themselves that they have attempted suicide, and its a sad thing to know that they honestly are incapable of feeling good about anything they do. I agree with Jeni in the fact that part of the issue comes from society and its flaws and its views on what beauty is, but we can't lay all the blame on societies shoulders. It will most likely be a long time before we as a society get over a fake sense of beauty and dig deeper into peoples true beauty...(rant rant rant rant rant rant)

To be perfectly honest...I've been up for somewhere around 32 hours studying, so I'm a tad off topic here I believe. I'll just summarize. We can't blame society for certain people feeling bad about their image. Eventually we have to look at it from a scientific point of view (as well as a sociological view) and realise that there are things called chemical imbalances and psychiatric disorders that are real, and that I'd rather have someone replace a body part, suck out some fat or take medication (within dosage Wink ) than have a potentially extraordinary person lock themselves away or do themselves off.

Sorry about the rant, if you have any questions of verification of what I mean just post and I will hope to get back to you about what I meant.

SLEEP BECKONS!
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Spica



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Mechanical bodies and body image Reply with quote

Jeni Nielsen wrote:
(Maybe more men would buy strength upgrades)


I saw a show on tv a while ago that was talking about young men with anorexia, and, apparently,they tend toward obsessive body building rather than starving themselves.

I'm fairly self confident about my appearance, seeing as how I'm a bit of a prettyboy, but I used to get sick a lot when I was young, so I have a fairly miserable lung capacity as well as poor hearing. Were the technology available, I would probably opt for cybernetic ears and lungs to replace my weak natural ones. While I'm at it I would probably get my agility and dexterity artificially upgraded, I'm really clumsy so I trip a lot and fall up the stairs every once in a while. I guess what it is is that I'm more concerned with my body's preformance than I am with its appearance. I don't know if this is true of other guys.
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Elmo



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've spent most my life looking down on plastic surgery for some reasons that have already come up. I thought it was another way to get people to hate themselves and that by ironing out the creases in our physical bodies we make it seem as though those "imperfections"(sarcastic quote marks Wink ) are somehow wrong.

However I also take the view that it is the mind that is important we are just a bunch of beautiful minds floating around in irrelevent lumps of flesh wrapped up in a t-shirt(a view reinforced by the same childish psychology and philosophy studies), so what does it matter if we make these lumps of flesh and bone a little bit lighter, a little bit smoother.. if it benifits the mind within the shell? and changing our physical apperance certainly does that.

Recent studies used that ever useful medium the PC game to give one group of people an avatar that was lean, muscular, elegant and another group was playing a character that was short, squat and pudgy. The beautiful people group afterwards were confident, spoke louder, bargained aggressively and stood up for other people who seemed to be being picked on. If a new more asthetically pleasing body makes the insecure confident the weak strong etc. then how can that be a bad thing?

there are a million exceptions to every rule and there are many ways a body can be improved so i will confine myself to one...

I have scars. there is one on my elbow from when i fell climbing a rockface beyond my abilities, one below my bottom lip from where I got beaten within an inch of my life and I bit through my lip due to the pain, one on my knee shows my first attempt to surf, my knuckles show scarring from when my best friend died and i punched a hole in a brick wall and a two inch scar on my wrist remembers a suicide attempt shortly after. one in particular of these scars makes me feel very self concious but I will use that arm to wave to friends, at job interviews i will wear my sleeves rolled up and if I had the oppertunity to remove it i wouldn't.

Scars are important, they show me where I've been (and not just the physical ones). We should try to change the world to accept us and where we've been, not change ourselves to be accepted.

If we woke up tommorow and everyone had the oppertunity to get a new body and be one of the 'beautiful people' I for one think we would have lost something very important indeed.

besides who wants to have a human body anyway, I'd be a cat. I figure they know something we don't. Wink sorry for they long post, not like anyone read it anyway :p
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base of the pillar



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh trust me Elmo by the standards of this forum that wasn't long at all. I always disliked the idea of plastic surgery. It always to me seemed another way to streameline all of humanity to fit one mold, but I don't fit into any mold. (or at least I try not to) I am who I am and my body, imperfections and all, shows that.
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simon's ghost



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spica,

I know I've just said this but going for the replacements you'd like would not even be necessary, except perhaps for the lost hearing. About 15 min. of intense footwork, 3-4 times a week would get rid of your lung capacity and coordination problems within 3-6 months. If you need explanations on what I mean by footwork, just ask.

Again my problem with the notion of cybernetic "enhancement" is really that it's all based on the will to compensate quickly and without effort. Then you even take the satisfaction out of life by taking away the possibility of being proud of what you accomplish because you stop even trying to accomplish it. You see your new "enhanced" self and feel satisfied, but it's an empty feeling, one that doesn't come from knowing how you persevered to get results, one that doesn't come from knowing or discovering that you have character, one that even prevents you from becoming more mature about accepting that you cannot be perfect and that the standards of a society obsessed with appearance and easy solutions to complicated problems shouldn't necessarily be embraced.

Now, medical compensation is another thing. If any of you don't have arms or legs, don't go thinking that I am telling you to live with it! Laughing
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simon's ghost



Joined: 25 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know it's off topic since this is mostly about body image.

I just thought of something. Imagine the implications of being able to improve your capabilities with either data jacks (skill programs "jacked" right into a cyberbrain) or cybernetic bodies. You could just buy any talent that you don't already have to get any job you want. How would that impact the possibility of doing what you dream of? How would we learn to do what we have to? Would we even still go to school? Would school become this place where you just have to go to a couple of hours once in a while to download the mandatory knowledge of the era? Would thought control become even easier to authorities?
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james_sb



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting topic, I was just thinking the same thing myself jeni.

Rather than the psychological implications, i was thinking of the technological and entrepreneurial applications.

Gillsing wrote:
"Pimp my ride" becomes "Pimp my bod".

I saw a documentary on tv the other day about the first guy to get a mechanical arm attached. Apparently it works by connecting it's sensors to muscles around his shoulder and he had to learn to control these muscles to control the arm. The point is, it looked like a complete rough work. Something patched together in a lab with no aesthetic thought. It had the wiring visible, the support struts visible, in fact no covering at all and little range of motion in the hand (just open and shut). This may well serve functions such as quick repair as it is a test unit, or just freedom of movement.

So I thought, this was made by people who designed it functionally. But what if, with a few years experience of making arms manually they knew so much as to be able to adapt different designs to the same function (Nothing radical there). Like the Tuttle family in American Chopper. "CUSTOMIZERS". They can be commissioned by people to manually (as opposed to mass produce) a limb for them. It would help the commercial viability of these parts, and it might make for a reality show in the meantime. Definitely a Pimp my bod thing. Can you begin to imagine the variations?



So here's something to throw a spanner in the works:
Spica wrote:
I have a fairly miserable lung capacity as well as poor hearing. Were the technology available, I would probably opt for cybernetic ears and lungs to replace my weak natural ones.


I contend that there is the technology today that would solve your hearing problem. So why have you not taking up that option? Or is it really that much of a concern to you. I don't mean for you to take this personally Spica. Rather I mean it in a general sense. People aren't always rational, and don't always pursue betterment, be that economical or physical. [Also a foreseeable drawback to the business plan above!]



I'd also like to contend one other issue:
simon's ghost wrote:
my problem with the notion of cybernetic "enhancement" is really that it's all based on the will to compensate quickly and without effort. Then you even take the satisfaction out of life by taking away the possibility of being proud of what you accomplish because you stop even trying to accomplish it. You see your new "enhanced" self and feel satisfied, but it's an empty feeling, one that doesn't come from knowing how you persevered to get results, one that doesn't come from knowing or dicovering that you have character, one that even prevents you from becoming more mature about accepting that you cannot be perfect

Just on your point that Cybernetic enhancement cannot provide more than materialistic satisfaction as opposed to (I guess) psychological satisfaction.

The comparison that draws to my mind is my current living situation. I'm renting, a student living with 2 professionals. Here I've got wireless broadband for free. Digital TV for free. Lots more, real nice place. [Did well for myself this year!] And I'm still paying the same rent my friends are paying for other places they live in. My point is this. I haven't worked for any of this. I know that when I get into work and move out of here I'll have to work to earn to pay for luxuries like this. Yet I sit here and I feel satisfied. I have my friends here and we sit. I say 'Watch tv, if you don't want to, go on the internet, if you don't want to then turn on a DVD, or the worldwide radio.....' and though I've worked for none of it, I can feel content that, when compared to others I've everything to offer in comfort.

So eventually my point is this: Though I've accomplished nothing, Though I haven't persevered to get a result, Though I have gained no character in effort, I am filled with pride when I can show off what I have and I draw contentment and satisfaction from it. 'What I have' to show off could as easily be a cybernetic body. One could feel the same sense of pride in it of a full sort, not an empty one as you've suggested.

My point in a sentence; I've got Materialistic satisfaction which gives me psychological satisfaction.

Fulfils psychological issues like acceptance in peers, and does in truth help a person. Though it will cause a drift between people who can afford and those who can't, so has things before. It's not something our society will face for the first time.

[And as a note, I am mature enough (I think) that I will be able to do without these luxuries once they are gone. It's was just an example, I'm not a gluttonous person ..In my own opinion.]
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simon's ghost



Joined: 25 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

james_sb wrote:
So eventually my point is this: Though I've accomplished nothing, Though I haven't persevered to get a result, Though I have gained no character in effort, I am filled with pride when I can show off what I have and I draw contentment and satisfaction from it. 'What I have' to show off could as easily be a cybernetic body. One could feel the same sense of pride in it of a full sort, not an empty one as you've suggested.

My point in a sentence; I've got Materialistic satisfaction which gives me psychological satisfaction.


So...basically, we're saying the same thing but you see that as a good thing. You can fully take pride by showing off what you have while I see no point in it and can barely understand how that would possibly feel, (probably because I was always poor). I guess you have a better shot at staying content than I do then. Wink
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