Are you a Dexter or a Heisenberg?

Philosophy

Dextenberg
Since I’ve become a father I haven’t had much time to sit in front of the silver screen like I used to. I loved sitting in the theatre, alone, getting drowned in a celluloid universe.

But now a lot of my pop culture needs are met through television and Netflix. I have lucked out and happened to pull fatherhood at a time when TV shows have never been better. There’s a trend that I’ve noticed in these past two years as a parent with regards to those shows that has piqued by philosophical nature.

I find myself torn between Dexter and Heisenberg.

First though, I’ll start with Nietzsche. I’ve always been a slight fan of his philosophy on a person pursuing their best self. Whether someone is extremely religious or not (and Nietzsche wasn’t) there’s still something important to gain from his ideology. We should all be more introspective to find out what our true purpose is and then go all in to fulfill that purpose.

You can find the basic Nietzsche philosophy in a lot of popular culture these days, especially TV. Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan, Walter White, Greg House, hell even Barney Stinson are characters driven by a deep, personal desire to become something great, regardless of what others or society thinks.

Interestingly enough, Dexter and Walter White, or his alter ego Heisenberg, represent two distinct personality types, goal oriented vs. process oriented. Having been a big fan of both shows, I wonder at times which one I’m more like in so far as how I seek to be the best me.

Dexter is very much someone who is goal oriented. His every waking moment is spent working towards the next kill. He does his best to balance a lot of background distractions such as family, work, etc. but his motivation is about getting someone on his table. Once he finishes one victim he begins to move on to the next. He revels in each one by keeping a drop of blood in a slide to represent each time he’s achieved a kill. Dexter is always after another kill.

Walter White, however, is more about a process. Throughout his career in the meth world, he worked to perfect his product. He was obsessed with the process, the right amount of chemicals for each batch and striving for the highest purity. He does have a goal of leading a meth empire but he knows fully that it has to be built on a superior drug. For Walt, there is no dollar amount or purity level that serves as a finish line. He wants to make the best meth.

Yes, they’re fictional characters. I understand that. What I like about the comparison though is that they demonstrate two different paths for living your life. I don’t mean choosing to kill people or make meth but the focus on what is more important: who you are or what you do.

I’ve decided I’m a Heisenberg. In my writing I care more about becoming a better craftsman as opposed to creating a masterpiece. I like finishing stories and books but at the end of the day I want to believe I’ve improved my skill.

While goal-oriented people are highly valued in the job market, there are two major pitfalls for someone who is obsessed with results. 1) When you are too focused on the finish line, the means by which you get there blurs and you may use unethical behavior and possibly take short cuts. 2) If you are going after a major goal, what do you do when you get there? If someone has a goal of running a marathon, the motivation to keep running might dwindle once they finish one.

For me it’s more important to master a process. Results are important. Otherwise how would you know if you’re becoming better at your process? I guess a person who’s truly successful at self realization is adept at focusing both on their skill as well as their accomplishments.

I’d rather be known as a good writer than a person who wrote a good book. I may never achieve either, but my pursuit will be the process.

 

Congressional Blame

Politics

capitol

I’m going to start with a few numbers.

Here goes.

Congressional approval rating before November 2012 election: 18%

Percentage of Congressional incumbents reelected in 2012: 90%

Congressional approval now: 16%

[Stats according to Gallup and Bloomberg]

When you ask people about our good ‘ole Bicameral insane asylum, the reaction is strong, swift and furious. People really don’t like our Reps and Senators.

Why? Well, the general accusation is that they don’t get anything done. Apparently when you take 600 people from all over the country, stick them in a room and then they don’t bang out legislation like clockwork, their constituents get angry.

Another reason I keep hearing is something along the lines of “they need to stop bickering and just do what’s best for the country.” Yeah, right. Congress doesn’t really work for America. They work for their voters.

John Boehner doesn’t worry about what affects New Yorkers, he works for the 8th District of Ohio. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t cater to Texas, she works for the voters in the 12th District of California. Everything they do, every vote they make is motivated by what the voters in that district will do to them every other November.

So then what do you do? You have roughly 1 in 10 who don’t like their representative and/or senator. And yet 9 in 10 of those incumbents keep getting sent back to Capitol Hill. Talk about a mixed message. People like their own guy, just not the other people their guy has to deal with.

If it’s one thing you got to give to those Tea Party groups, they know how to bring the fear out of representatives in D.C. If a Republican doesn’t toe the Tea Party line, they start looking for a new Capitol tenant.

Conservatives are scared out of their minds that the Tea Party will conjure an opponent in their upcoming primary.

The Tea Party backers have proven a point. A little bit of angst, organization and involvement can generate change. Digging up a primary opponent will make a Congressman think twice about what they vote for and who they side with.

Every Congressman and Congresswoman should have that fear, regardless of their party or their district. But with a 90 percent reelection rating, the disapproval rating will never matter.

So to all of you who complain about Congress, and there are a lot of you, do something about it. If you keep sending the same people back to D.C. over and over again, you’re going to get the same result… over and over.

You get the government you elect.

 

(a version of this post appeared on medium.com)