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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on February 16th, 2004 (All posts by )

    “Life in an advanced technological society such as ours exposes the individual to a barrage of excessive stimulation, often of stressor intensity, and to assault after assault of stressor situations. Circumstances usually preclude simple animal flight.” — Hans Selye

     

    3 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. George Lee Says:

      Well, it is half-true that, “Life in an advanced technological society such as ours exposes the individual to a barrage of excessive stimulation, often of stressor intensity, and to assault after assault of stressor situations. Circumstances usually preclude simple animal flight.”

      The other half is that life in an advanced tech. society protects us from excessive stimulation and provides conditions where simple animal flight is unnecessary or a much less stressful flight than in earlier times.

      Air conditioning is one Hell of a stress reducer, as is central heating. Stay hot long enough, or cold, and you can’t think worth a damn. Gasp and sweat all night, or shiver, and you’ll find yourself unable to solve even simple problems or to keep from creating major ones.

      Last Sept. when Hurricane Isabel knocked out electricity for a week, even two for some, I wrote to a friend, “Electricity is one Hell of a stress reducer.”

      Bump into a menacing character or 10 in the woods and considerable stress crops up, including in the midst of “simple animal flight”. On a city street one can pop into a store or any public place, maybe even including a police station.

      A tiny piece of matter damaging the eye of the strongest warrior can reduce him mightily, both his objective value in battle and his status in his tribe. The Wheel of Fortune was terrifying to our ancestors and depicted as so in art.

      In earlier times we lived, we thought, at the mercy of capricious beings, and tech. has reduced the stress that comes from not getting a supplicatory ritual just right, not a foot out of place, not a phrase mangled or forgotten. Our prayers amounted to, “Please, don’t hurt me or mine.”

      Talk about “excessive stimulation”! Stress on our ancestors was ferocious. We can watch a thunderstorm behind a pane of glass and thrill to the lightning. They were in a tent made of hides sewed together with sinew which disintegrates if it stays wet long enough.

      I lived outside for a year. There was plenty of excessive stimulation. Try having diarrehia that never goes away.

      Joseph Pieper wrote a fine book entitled, “Leisure: The Basis of Culture.” Technology went far towards the creation of unstressful leisure.

      Are constant traffic noise and deadlines more stressful than constant skin rashes or toothaches? I dunno, wouldn’t surprise me if it was a wash…

    2. Lex Says:

      Whoa.

      I agree with all that, George.

      Nonetheless, “simple animal flight” has seemed like a pretty appealing alternative to me on several occasions. So much so that I thought the quote from noted endocrinologist Selye was pretty darn funny.

    3. George Lee Says:

      Hehehehe, Lex, I took the Herr Doktor Professor to be saying that “simple animal flight” worked as a stress reducer in earlier times but was precluded as a useful response to the stresses of the modern world.

      That view is, as they say, problematic!