Tag Archives: milgram

On corruption, ichigo and marbles

Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine — how good how fine. It went down all pulpy, slushy, oozy, all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large, beautified Strawberry.
– John Keats

Being in an environment where discussions of corruption are prevalent, it is not surprising that somehow unresolved questions continue to dwell in my subconsciousness. Last night, it finally culminated in a rather sinister dream which featured illusionist Derren Brown (after a sharing with S) and small glass marbles.

For those who may not be acutely familiar, Derren Brown is an illusionist who reads physical motions and attempts to manipulate mind states (expression as provided by S). Recently, he came into the limelight by claiming to be able to read lottery numbers, by utilizing a hocus pocus type theory about calculation the averages provided by laypersons (which I think is not rational and he probably attempted to send signals or manipulate the numbers these laypersons would choose before in a simple pre-game fashion). But altogether, I am rather skeptical of the claim that he utilizes some sort of witchcraft or laser lights and mirrors (it is probably just plain psychology and a question of controlled timing which can be practiced by an amateur).

So, in the dream, Derren Brown appears and plays with me a version of the marbles trick (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei-Pw5KgE7k) and slowly I attempted to devise different permutations and expressions to try to turn the tables. Strangely, the sequence even descended to poker play strategy (but yes dream sequences play strange tricks on our judgment). At one specific juncture, after deciding on a particular placing of the marble, I held out my hands, and when he had his back to mine I quickly switched the marble to the other hand (post play). To my surprise, he bent low and murmured “You broke the rules…the marble rests thus”, before opening my clenched right palm to reveal the marble. As I glanced at his expression, it was almost as if he had similarly incited that sequence of behaviour to that conclusion, and had expected me to impulsively go against my morals in a split impulsive decision. All together I woke up at this point feeling quite like Oedipus. I won’t be surprised if this will be the start of a recurring dream fashion with poker cards this time.

It was an interesting conclusion because I had been dwelling on Milgram theory for some time – it was even the subject of my final year dissertation- and how it influences industry participants (in this case it was the subject of credit derivatives). But the recent China Aviation Oil trading scandal I have been working on also brings up some intriguing issues to ponder over, a systems vs. enforcement question, and whether one can really manipulate or control the corruption culture in a country (or government). For it is a possible mix of extreme good and a sudden impulsive hidden thread of decisions which characterizes corruption cases which are brought out to light. The insistent habit. When does desensitization start – and are there common features which foster/discourage such desensitization? Are these people necessarily drawn to extremes- how strong are their guilt complex (or does Milgram theory necessarily kick into action that the individual starts to lose subjective ownership for both his good and bad action (the desensitization process)? It was a sudden realization too that in my desperation of wanting to beat the game, I had secretly concealed the marble in my other hand – how do I build up my resistance against such temptations, is the path towards corruption necessarily illogical or a stable sequence of patterns?

Ah well. Going back to little discoveries of life, I just realized that strawberries and watermelon actually make a secret tingy combination. And that I love balsamic vinegar in salads. For being a rather nondescript afterthought ingredient, it brings a little magic to my lunch salads (together with five shakes of black pepper!) I also realized recently from T that there are vinegar appreciators alike wine connoisseurs, with different concoctions of vinegar (apple vinegar, blueberry vinegar, even chocolate vinegar), and these vinegar lovers go on trips to various factories to do vinegar tastings and similarly find pleasure in finding their favourite flavour of vinegar in the world.