Week in Review

In this post – The Importance of Life Stories and Appendectomy

NYT: This is Your Life (and How You Tell It) describes a new focus on life stories as a source of information in the field of psychology. The connection between personal myths and identity is a strong one, and in fact the two may just as easily be seen as different angles on the same thing – to use “identity” over “life story” is to speak of state functions instead of a repeated path simulation. I think the state function approach requires more processing. After this article, I went to looked into a few books by the author mentioned, and got the library to order “The Stories We Live By“.

I have always been curious about identity, given that I am a Taiwanese who grew up in Singapore who later realized in America that I was rather much both. In my own inquiries, I have isolates certain important questions.

What makes something personal? I think this is quite perfectly answered via reference to personal myths – personal are the things that interfere with the important story, facts that (by the rules of storytelling) force a person to revise their personal myth.

I read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie a few years ago, and felt that the techniques described in the book were manipulative and hypocritical. Now I understand better what it is that they do – they are ways of hacking into the life stories of other people. If the life story is all there is, then changing the life story of another person IS changing their life, and the question of sincerity becomes irrelevant. A self-fulfilling prophecy is not a lie. I do not think this is sufficient grounds for exempting such hackery as manipulation, but it does lessen the charge somewhat.

The pain started Tuesday and proceeded to ramp up at a slow constant rate. Finally on Thursday morning 3am it became intense enough to wake me from sleep. I decided something had to be done. The next day.

Thursday I went into MIT Medical to get it checked out, expecting, at best, to get some new-fangled antivirals. Well, after some prodding they suspected appendicitis and scheduled a CAT scan at MGH. The CAT required imaging fluid be ingested, and boy does that stuff taste bad! It had been diluted 60mL in 500mL of sweet apple juice, and still tasted bitter enough to almost induce vomitting. After drinking all that, I was to MGH via ambulance. Found out that the MIT ambulance was operated by undergrads – they were the most awkward ones to interact with during the whole process, being some almost my age and fairly attractive.

Arrived at MGH, worried that my long stay on earth as an alien observer was finally at at end. After all, HQ could scarcely allow me to remain here after I had been exposed by the scanner right? Well, unfortunately that did not happen. Instead, turned out I had appendicitis. Had to go through some paperwork to put me through the ER, and had the operation done Thursday night. Am now (Saturday) sitting at home recovering from three small Laparoscopic punctures in my abdomen.

A big thanks to all the people who visited me during my brief hospital stay – Hui (who’s helped a LOT), Troy (bossman) , Qin, xg, Emma, Sandy, Amelia. And my roommate Marc, for getting me waterproof tape.

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