“Clean Kitchen” addresses the issues of elder abuse and the devastating effects dementia has on relationships.
“The Abscondment” explores the seductiveness of saving a community over tending to the needs of a child — is one more important than the other? Can selflessness, anti-materialism, and community work justify child neglect?
“Flight of Fancy” explores themes of adolescent attraction, personal freedom, disappointment, and misunderstanding. There is a strong focus on the ego as part of the human experience and the way it disrupts relationships. The protagonist is guided via his perception of supposed “signals” of attraction and acts according to what he believes is expected of him. There is rarely a display of his honest feelings; rather, he often interprets the behavior of his female companion in terms of what the other boys at the school yard have told him. There is a mode of behavior, a template, which he believes dictates female displays of attraction. That mode is of course incorrect, but the protagonist is too young and inexperienced to escape that mentality. This exploration of the protagonist’s expectations is relevant today because it speaks to the very human difficulty of establishing stable relationships early into one’s life. Due to simple inexperience, a potential relationship can be abandoned or ruined based on perception and a lack of open communication.
Appearing in Leviticus, the concept of a scapegoat is that of two goats — while one is sacrificed, the other is released into the wilderness to carry the sins of the community. Family dynamics and the process of development can lead to the scapegoating of a family member, as someone unfairly blamed for the errors of the group. How does a process such as this taint an individual’s worldview, faith, or trust in others?
How important are reflective, contemplative, and calming experiences for individual growth? Is the modern world priming us to need more of these moments or less? Is self-doubt required for personal development?
Depression seems like an obvious flaw in the human condition. The symptoms of depression (everything from apathy, social isolation, and anhedonia to emptiness, sleeplessness, and ruminations) can make engaging in daily life absolutely impossible. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not.” Despite what seems like an obvious evolutionary handicap, research has shown depression has a variety of hidden benefits, such as encouraging attention to detail, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. By acknowledging depression’s hidden benefits, we can alter the way it impacts us individually and societally.
Are we benefiting from mental health diagnoses, medications, and treatments? Or, is the current mental health industry causing more harm than healing? How do we accurately deal with psychological distress?
How are we drawn to our romantic partners? What factors influence our connection and bond with those we love?
Is depression something we have or something we are?
Regarding the nature vs. nurture debate, does modern research support Pinker’s emphasis on nature, or has the field taken it in a different trajectory?