(First published in January 2009)

Let’s cut the Freudian crap and jump straight to the present-day common usage of the word. For those incurable googlists, Wikipedia says that ego “…could mean one’s self-esteem; an inflated sense of self-worth…”

My father once told me about a chess grandmaster who, when asked in an interview if surely he considers chess less rough than boxing or rugby football, answered that chess is the more brutal sport because it bruises the ego instead of just breaking the bones, or something like that.

I am often asked by my female friends why guys tend to have road rage, risking accidents just to cut the car that cut you, why we often consider getting back at the rude driver more important than getting safely to our destination. To that I always answer, “To understand that, you must first be able to experience what it is like to have a strong rush of testosterone, when the logical part of your brain is overcome by your instincts. But since what you have is estrogen, you wouldn’t understand.”

(I remember a line from the ironically brainless movie Shoot ‘Em Up: Getting angry releases an enzyme, tryptophan hydroxylase, which can temporarily reduce the IQ.” Oh well, I guess that explains road rage.)

But while men are often accused of reckless drinking, what are the women accused of? Well I am not going to say it not only because I have lady friends who can drive better than most men, but also because I honestly respect women drivers.

I again remember this book Straight And Crooked Thinking by Robert Thouless (I lent that book to my philosophy teacher but until now she has not returned it to me). There was a chapter, The Meaning of Words, where it said that most people consider themselves above-average drivers because of the many definitions of “above-average”. What does it mean to be an above-average driver? Does it mean knowing how to weave in and out of traffic in order to beat rush hour? Or does it mean being able to handle a 4×4 through impossible terrain? Could it also mean being the safe and smooth driver, giving the passengers the most comfortable and relaxing ride? Or how about being able to drive straight for several hours without rest and knowing how to troubleshoot engine trouble and other mechanical problems? I believe a lot if not most of the drivers belong to at least one of these definitions, and so it is no wonder that they consider themselves to be above average.

And how we want to be above average. If not in everything, I believe most people want to be above average in at least a few things, things that we are good at, things that we are proud of. I think that ego comes from these things, these things that we hold valuable. If a person is attacked on these things, a clashing of egos begins. (Personally, you can attack me on how badly I play basketball, because I do not play basketball. But if you attack me on the integrity of my work, well that is something else.)

Ego. We define it, we get defined by it. We feed and inflate it, it feeds on and deflates us. We live for it, we die for it.

Ego. Ruthless, shameless, merciless, remorseless. Heeding no one but its own appetite. Accountable to no one but itself.

Ang Ego. Bow. innerminds inner minds

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Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues


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