Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Aug 8, 2008

Fighting Spirit

Via Geekpress I found this fascinating article about what I suppose you could call "fighting spirit". It's fascinating to me because I have the same kinds of psychological responses that the author talks about.

The evolutionary psychology stuff is bunk, of course (I can disprove it readily simply because I'm a girl and my mind works much the same way), and I can't say anything about the "exceptionally strong" or "gets in condition quickly" parts. I do have what *seems* to be an unusual level of physical strength (esp. in my legs) considering that I don't make ANY effort to improve and maintain it, and when I do some exercising I can ramp up the difficulty very quickly without suffering any apparent ill-effects. I'm not sure that counts. Also, I can't really verify the author's claims in that department, so we'll leave it aside. Anyway.

There may be a physiological component, but personally I would think that the main, underlying factor for the *mentality* aspects is probably philosophical, in particular, it's sense-of-life related. Besides, it is my understanding that you can actually change the way your body functions by actively pursuing certain emotional states. (You can even, to an extent, change the shape of your bones depending on how/when/what you do with them.) Hormones can be like drugs. When you have adrenalin coursing through your body regularly, you build up a tolerance. The things that you do often invisibly become the things that your body and mind are set up to do.

From introspection (which, I know, makes this anecdotal speculation, but bear with me) I suspect that the key mindset here is something I'd roughly term "against". I'm not happy with more pedestrian types of activities. Oh, I see the value in them. I'm not stupid. But the moments when I feel really, truly happy are when I've just sunk my teeth into something that ain't interested in being bit. To me, everything is a war--it has to be, in order to get me to pay attention to it! If I don't have an "enemy" to fight, I'll fight myself, or make up people to argue with.

Like the author of the article, I'm not a sadist. I'm not looking to hurt anyone (in fact, I don't much like people who are hurt by my cheerful bitey-ness--I want them to bite back so I can have a good rousing battle). I'm not a masochist, either, although like the author I at least appear to have a high pain tolerance. Granted, pain tolerance is somewhat subjective, but when I broke my arm it didn't really bug me much. The pains that bother me aren't sudden shocks or injuries, but constant, nagging, will-sapping, it-won't-go-away-no-matter-what-I-do chronic pains. My pain tolerance is certainly high enough that I'm not sure I actually believe that pain medication really *does* anything (at least, not the stuff that you can get over the counter).

It's simply that my mind is set up to relish good old-fashioned romantic sword-and-sorcery drama. I grew up on the stuff. It's indelibly set into my psycho-epistemology, if you will. The only trouble is finding some way to make use of it.

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