Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
...Examples of catastrophic and systemic changes have been gathering in a variety of fields, typically in specialized contexts with little cross-connection. Only recently have we begun to look for generic patterns in the web of linked causes and effects that puts disparate events into a common framework—a framework that operates on a sufficiently high level to include geologic climate shifts, epileptic seizures, market and fishery crashes, ....
The main themes of this framework are twofold: First, they are all complex systems of interconnected and interdependent parts. Second, they are nonlinear, non-equilibrium systems that can undergo rapid and drastic state changes.
... there is emerging agreement that ignoring the seemingly incomprehensible meshing of counterparty obligations and mutual interdependencies (an accountant’s nightmare, more recursive than Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?”) prevented real pricing of risk premiums, which helped to propagate the current crisis.
A parallel situation exists in fisheries, where stocks are traditionally managed one species at a time. Alarm over collapsing fish stocks, however, is helping to create the current push for ecosystem-based ocean management. ... Though the geological record tells us that global temperatures can change very quickly, the models consistently underestimate that possibility. This is related to the next property, the nonlinear, non-equilibrium nature of systems.
Most engineered devices, consisting of mechanical springs, transistors, and the like, are built to be stable. That is, if stressed from rest, or equilibrium, they spring back. Many simple ecological models, physiological models, and even climate and economic models are built by assuming the same principle: a globally stable equilibrium. A related simplification is to see the world as consisting of separate parts that can be studied in a linear way, one piece at a time. These pieces can then be summed independently to make the whole. Researchers have developed a very large tool kit of analytical methods and statistics based on this linear idea, and it has proven invaluable for studying simple engineered devices. But even when many of the complex systems that interest us are not linear, we persist with these tools and models. It is a case of looking under the lamppost because the light is better even though we know the lost keys are in the shadows. Linear systems produce nice stationary statistics—constant risk metrics, for example. Because they assume that a process does not vary through time, one can subsample it to get an idea of what the larger universe of possibilities looks like. This characteristic of linear systems appeals to our normal heuristic thinking.
Nonlinear systems, however, are not so well behaved. They can appear stationary for a long while, then without anything changing, they exhibit jumps in variability—so-called “heteroscedasticity.” For example, if one looks at the range of economic variables over the past decade (daily market movements, GDP changes, etc.), one might guess that variability and the universe of possibilities are very modest. This was the modus operandi of normal risk management. As a consequence, the likelihood of some of the large moves we saw in 2008, which happened over so many consecutive days, should have been less than once in the age of the universe.
Our problem is that the scientific desire to simplify has taken over, something that Einstein warned against when he paraphrased Occam: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Thinking of natural and economic systems as essentially stable and decomposable into parts is a good initial hypothesis, current observations and measurements do not support that hypothesis—hence our continual surprise. Just as we like the idea of constancy, we are stubborn to change. The 19th century American humorist Josh Billings, perhaps, put it best: “It ain’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that just ain’t so.”
So how do we proceed? There are a number of ways to approach this tactically, including new data-intensive techniques that model each system uniquely but look for common characteristics. However, a more strategic approach is to study these systems at their most generic level, to identify universal principles that are independent of the specific details that distinguish each system. This is the domain of complexity theory.
Among these principles is the idea that there might be universal early warning signs for critical transitions, diagnostic signals that appear near unstable tipping points of rapid change. The recent argument for early warning signs is based on the following: 1) that both simple and more realistic, complex nonlinear models show these behaviors, and 2) that there is a growing weight of empirical evidence for these common precursors in varied systems.
A key phenomenon known for decades is so-called “critical slowing” as a threshold approaches. That is, a system’s dynamic response to external perturbations becomes more sluggish near tipping points. ... Another related early signaling behavior is an increase in “spatial resonance”: Pulses occurring in neighboring parts of the web become synchronized. Nearby brain cells fire in unison minutes to hours prior to an epileptic seizure, for example, and global financial markets pulse together. ...
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Oh wait, this is earth, right. right....You never could distinguish the map and the terrain. Your earthling habit of assuming words, not what the words denote, are the relevant aspects, keep you confused and fighting so life's broader purposes can continue at the proper rhythm.
Just forget I said anything, I was the confused one, -- obviously--I forgot I was visiting earth.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely human" and "fully human" entity is called the uncanny valley.
The phenomenon is meant to explain the revulsion felt by people when contronted by a robot which is very human, but not fully human, looking. Well, you can read the article as well as I can. What interested me was that perhaps we should call this a "canny valley," or perhaps, "uncanny peak." Because this revulsion may derive from the reminder, a robot presents, a reminder that makes a person forcibly glance at, this: his own mechanical, robotic, MIND.
Friday, August 20, 2010
What we have is a narrative at the Skeptical Inquirer website of a person's journey from "new age' ideas to those of the skeptical inquirer. They say "skepticism" in the article. So you have a starting point and destination. New Age to skepticism. That is what they say, but in fact, what you have is the difference between a heroin addict and a methadone addict. Not much difference at all. Because it is based on binary thought, the reality, the vividness, of our world, the between the words, is lost. And lost, because of a total lapse of skeptical thinking. The website we link to is not skeptical at all. The real skeptics were skeptical about their OWN thoughts. None of that here. The 'skeptical inquirers' are not inquiring about anything. They have made up their minds, and stuck their labels according to their unscientific whims, all over their locker of the word world. So you can have new age blather, or dogmatic scientistic repetitive rote ordinary mentation.
Not interested in either, you might like to check out Jan's web site Jan Cox, who said, "if you tell me you're not falling for that, you're telling me you have already fallen for something else." The possibility of original thought is extant.
The last time the event was held, in 2006, it was somewhat overshadowed by winner Grigori Perelman's refusal to accept his prize for solving the Poincaré conjecture.
ICM 2010 kicked off today in Hyderabad, India, with the Indian president Prathibha Patil awarding the prizes...
Villani's work is also related to physics, in particular the mathematical interpretation of the concept of entropy. He has applied this to solve long-standing problems, such as how fast the motions of gas particles converge to equilibrium....
When asked why mathematics has been so successful at finding applications in the real world, Villani – sporting a burgundy silk cravat and a palm-sized spider brooch – said: "It is a very pleasant mystery. Let's continue to enjoy it and explore."
Saturday, August 7, 2010
I wonder is there not some modern substitute for monsters? The accent of reality is not on dragons in modern literature, even when they appear in stories.
Does the world make more sense now. Some would say yes. But does the world really make more sense than it did to forest dwellers two thousand years ago?
I merely raise a question which will make no sense to some, and they need read no further. Although I cannot resist pointing out that the blame we cast on corporate despoilers of pensions, of gulfs, may actually be just a way to avert our gaze from the reality of the limitations of the human intellect.
I wonder if there is not some way to deal with the rush of reality in our modern times, while still acknowledging somewhat a world which compared to the human brain conceptual apparatus, makes the latter puny. Possibly it is still true that the known world is so far surrounded by incomprehensibility that we still need some kind of monsters to let us operate in this sea of the unknown, without finding the truth fatal. The words about monsters serve as a kind of shield like Perseus used, to slay a monster which to see directly would be freezing. We still need monsters to move the action along is the theme of this essay. Our assumption is that the human intellect is part of a larger cosmos, but the human intellect is merely a part and not equipped at a mechanical level to deal realistically with questions that involve counting beyond two. And yet reality is far more complicated than the binary functioning human brain can grasp. This assumption I will not defend now, but merely point to the writings of Jan Cox, at the moment, for reasons of space, for readers who find this phraseology intriguing.
I suggest we live In a world where Zeno, where Hume, can poke holes in any scientific argument, (and wind up being ignored for their troubles, since no literate response is possible).
When you examine the external world, it ultimately is not coherent. Now I know most scientists out there are sputtering (if they read this far) well we just have not finished our TOE, (Theory of the Extraneous). You can list scientific mysteries til the ravens come back to Oakland. Modern scientists must deny the obvious or they would be unable to proceed in the piecemeal manner they do. The ocean of the unknown would swamp the brave intellects who do battle at the frontiers of the known, if they did not pretend their task was doable, if the scientists did not compartmentalize in effect, and ignore the surging sea of the unknown, a sea in which we bob and must, to struggle at all, bob unbrowbeaten.
Why the gap between the observed world and quantum physics, when don't the measurements of the universe's expansion make sense, and of course, the good physicist can say, well we are working on it, give us some time. Nice and irrefutable, and ---possibly---newsprint, wallpaper, over the gaping whole we avert our eyes from. What if, these stories about how the research has just not turned over the right stone, yet, what if these stories are just, the dragons of the twenty-first century, a means of moving the story along, because, you sense you cannot stop. What if modern science itself is the monster of the twentieth century.
You cannot stop, say, your mind, from clacking. Something within senses that such a halt could be destructive for something we love a lot, our sense of identity. (Or whatever, I'm just making this up, maybe.) The mind cannot live mechanically on the slippery coast of reality. There must be stories which help us ignore the terrifying aspects of our world. Aspects like, its immensity.
Is it not motion, change, time itself, that poses the biggest theoretical trilemma? Same reality as that faced, pondered, fingered, expounded upon, by those forest dwelling, forebears of most of us. They wrote Beowulf, and used the tools at their disposal to understand their world. The to and fro, cleaving and sundering, mincing and meditating, the everchanging and frozen expanse we find ourselves a part of, that moving, improbable, yet ceaseless, sea.
To take any kind of view, is to distort this world. Yet we must, go out, come in, search for a meaning beyond the hormonal verities; we must sometimes also, speak----and so those bards fixed on the hard part, the worthy quest, what makes it all move, and dragons is as good an answer, as the others I have heard---if you must have answers. For isn't the real, our daily experience of flow of change, that very flash of light, and dark, isn't that our reality, and if you have followed any of this, then see---- that real---- is what cannot be explained. If you go to war, or find a treasure, or win a Nobel, you are interacting in the world, but it is an utterly implausible world, and only the brave can even glimpse that ----fact.
Let me rephrase my proposal: the world, all the objects in it, if viewed and studied by the mind, do not really fit together. An example is David Hume's point that you cannot prove the validity of inductive logic, inductively. My example is the world as lived flows in a manner which the external sciences cannot explain.
The old stories tell of dragons and monsters: these creatures function as a kind of explanation of movement---people's lives are threatened by nighttime attacks by monsters, people's motives, the reason they go into the woods, is to revenge themselves on a monster, or find the treasure monster's might have. The flowing quality of the medieval world is explained (partially) by monsters.
In our century, a similarly clumsy attempt to explain the vivid life we actually experience is made by scientific explanations. Both attempt the same thing, and both fail. Both can teach us something.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Surely most people wonder this when exposed to the literature or music, of anonymous bards, and very nonomous musicians like Wagner? Don't we all find monsters enthralling, but---- why?
Here might be one reason: the dragons and monsters thrill us because their historic function was crucial for humanity and that function was----they represented the real.
Huh, you ask, dragons don't exist, and there is no way some Anglo Saxon story-teller ever saw a dinosaur. How could dragons function as the reality note in a story?
Monsters demonstrably mark the spot on maps where there is an unknown. The Indians (American) in the 17th century spoke of monsters on the river (Mississppi), monsters who had a huge roar and would not let travelers pass. This might be the way a plains people would describe a waterfall.
Dragons move the story, the people, the world, along, they provide motion, in a world which is now, and has always, been, at the heart, incomprehensible. Dragons are the plot points, that incite and demand human activity, they slay the heroes, they give a purpose to the quest, the dragons draw in big black lines the irreducible dimensions of the human world.
You ask why the young and good are killed. At the level of words it makes no sense. Yet the flow of reality is experienced even if we cannot capture, convey, our world in words. This gap between words and reality, is where monsters come in. They provide the differential over which the water of reality can flow, in a closer approximation to the world we experience, than can words alone.
Yet now, over a thousand years after Beowulf, slew and was slain, we still love dragons, and even sing about their disappearance. Does that mean the epistemological issues raised in this essay are resolved. I wonder is there not some modern substitute for monsters? I wonder and intend to continue this essay soon...
Friday, June 11, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
privacy fences. You walk or run by and you are aware of mainly of
these flat identical pieces of wood. How could that be like words?
Identical pieces of wood are like words? In a way words are like slat
of wood though, identical slats of wood. Because while there is a
small --what the philosphers call denotative value to words, (the
definitions, which you might say make words different) in fact words
have many other functions in the human economy, and these functions
--- maintaining a certain homeostatic stability in your psyche for
instance--- rely on aspects of words which are little observed or
analyzed. Words for instance function to insulate people, even
scientists, everybody in fact, beyond a certain age, from the actual
buzz and rush and constant motion of the world we share in. We could
not function if we paid attention to everything going on. What has
happened though (and Jan Cox discussed this a great length in his
books and papers) is that we have come to take words as if THEY were
the reality. Assuming words are reality is like eating a cereal box
for breakfast. You are missing the real fun of life. So when I say
words are like slats in a fence, it is to point out that between they
slats, if you can slow down, between the slats you get a glimpse of a
world you have forgotten, of color and light and wonder. Between the
words. Learning to look between the words is actually very difficult
and can take years, although some folks get a blessed glimpse
accidentally and this spurs them on investigate these events and
strive to make them reoccur. That at least is the way it seems in the
beginning. For everyone.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
but it can be any stamp. In your mind tear the stamp into as small of
pieces as possible. Still visible, and adhering to your finger tip.
Get out an exacto knife, put the smallest part of the stamp on a safe
surface, and slice a tinier piece of stamp. Barely visible to the
cutter. It is possible that all anyone knows, is about the size of
that partial postage piece.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
One assumes his poetic descriptions derive from what some would call mystical experiences. He had no one to point out how mystical experiences figure in a larger economy of mankind, and the whole weight of human history was against his figuring out for himself, --- that these so-called moments of religious, aritistic scientific discovery, cannot be labeled without hindering their return. For what they denote is nothing that can be verbally labeled. They in fact are like frosting, which could be a hint of other realities, but if discussed, these common human experiences, become categories and prevent one from discovering ---- the purity of cake. The frosting of these moments of insight can mean one is close to a doorway, they are not really the finish.
The bus mode of transportation is the common verbal assumptions that allow people to assess their world. These shared assumptions largely veil actuality. If they studied the human propensity for mystical apprehension they would realize, as Gurdjieff noted (though not in these words) that these experiences have started as many wars as religions.
Listen again to what Eliot said:
"We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/will be to arrive where we started/and know the place for the first time. Sounds fine, but knowing some place for the first time means not categorizing your perceptions verbally. That it sounds okay, is because of all the literature Eliot read, not from any ability of his to grasp what it could mean to: know the place for the first time.
How can I be sure of this? Eliot was aware, as were all artists between the wars, of the work of Georges Gurdjieff, who alone, with Jan Cox, sought to drag religion sticking and careening, so to speak, into the 20th century. And these are the words Eliot used to discuss one of Gurdjieff's students and translators, A. R, Orage. Orage he wrote in an obituary was a "reckless religious adventurer." So we can assume Orage learned enough to appreciate that whatever the real path is, the trodding of it is always, alone, on foot. No waiting at respectable bus stations for Orage. Part of the difficulty of finding the start of the path, much less how to proceed, is that, and again, Eliot is merely an example, but the words of the poets we take to be accurate descriptions, clues. So we recall them at certain times, and thereby risk cutting our own throats, if our goal is really to explore a new land, to "know the place for the first time." Because that knowing must be non-verbal.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The recent obit on a Mossad operative, David Kimche (http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=63678) reminded me of this metaphor, because in intelligence work you see---- a great picture of intelligence as in the human brain intelligence, and the endeavor to see what is really going on. (that's those of us who are interested in the work of Jan Cox.) There is a country/body and to survive, just like any person, a inquiry into one's circumstances has an evolutionary advantage. So how do you find out what is happening in your surroundings? The lack of such knowledge could shorten your life---perhaps the country around you has some lizards that could sting you. You need to know where you are.
The intelligence of intelligence is silent. That is how the work is done. You work without speaking/that is, drawing attention to yourself, without drawing attention to your goal. That is the only way to discover your situation. Like a spy, like a stranger is a country where the wrong word could mean death, your only real goal is to survive (see what is really going on) and there are no rules here. Survival authenticates itself. Did what you break a law? The only answer is , I am still here, If you speak you lie. Jan Cox, and a few intelligence operatives knew this. The difference between Jan and these agents, is he knew the more difficult side of that---the critical nature of internal quiet.
The intelligence of intelligence is silent. Only now can the dead body of a Mossad agent tell us something.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
that which is incomplete, incompleteness, the process of being
incomplete, and what is the verb for being partial,
(not as in prejudiced....), what is the verb for not whole (not as in
Everything in this category seems to be just a block-the whole, the
complete, with post it notes stuck on that say un, in....
and the less than complete, when specified, seems to have mainly
Why is this?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Humanity, though really I am not sure if there even is a better
descriptive term. Jan Cox, the radical philosopher spoke in these
terms, and they will serve our purposes now. If People were cells in
an organism called Humanity, how would we know, how would we know we
were cells in part of something larger.
Well, for one thing we would apparently take seriously apologies on
the part of public figures, Apologies for being human, even though,
what could there be to apologize for?? People who operated on the
basis of their intellect, (as everyone says they do, but if they
really DID.) would find it confusing that someone would say I'm sorry
for being what they are, and what everyone else is, and for doing what
everyone else does. No, this phenomenon makes most sense if it is an
aspect of processing happening on a larger level, a processing that is
only called morality at the blind level of an single cell.
And what if someone hits you, what if someone knocks over your stack
of blocks, and you get so mad you pay a huge amount of money, and
blood to extract revenge, to destroy these other people who hurt you.
You want to destroy these people who attacked. Okay, this makes sense
at the level of hormones and self preservation. But---why then do you
not do the sensible next step to destroying them, which is try to
understand why this other tribe would attack you. Would not
espionage,successful surveillance, all depend on your understanding
your enemy, yes, destroy them, but----to do this----you have to
understand them first. Yet that is the one thing we do not do---we do
not make a concerted effort to understand the motivations of those who
consider themselves our enemy. Surely that is the rational approach.
But if we were part of a larger organism, the idea that intellect
guides our actions may be a useful ploy, a means of transferring
energy. We might guess something like this is going on when we
exhaust ourselves, kill our young, spend our treasure, and still do
not do the obvious first thing to defeating our enemies, which first
thing is----understanding their viewpoint. The logical first step,
using our vaunted intellect, is exactly what does NOT happen, and
which is now, years later, still not even an option which can be
discussed publicly. What could be going on here??
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
'The explosion in the SL group is reflective of the generation online now. As Philippou says "Everyone of my generation is on Facebook. I'm 21 and have completely grown up in the online evironment. Time Out doesn't really connect with me on the Net. Things like crowdsourced content do."'
What struck me was that ---mainly---I finally got what the word crowdsourcing means and then MAINLY--
I noticed a thing that makes it so difficult to talk about what Jan Cox called "This Kind of Thing," which is
crowdsourcing. But not the kind in the article, the kind in your head, where every thought is a crowd, and what you have to do, like looking between the slats on a fence, is --- see between the words, between the voices.
So, interestingly enough, crowdsourcnig is not new---the reason words are the unfootable terrain thy are to the seeker, is because all words are crowdsourced. A word that was single sourced would communicate nothing to another. How could it, you just made it up. Hence the popularity of This Kind of Thing.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
This quote of Connie Jones, about Jack Teagarden's body, not fitting into a coffin, made me think of words, and how they--words--can become a coffin. Do, for most folks. Words are coffins is kind of the default settings for humanity. It is hard to find the default settings, and once you do, and adjust the settings to "original thought," (your only chance) the developers do a mass reversal, and you have to start all over, finding the settings.....
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Crime, clumbsiness, makes me think of the big bang idea, that without some unimaginable small tremor in the explosion, the universe would be uniform, an identical soup in all directions, rather than diverse with planets and space, and different colors of matter. Just a thought...
to civilization. He used a forest fire to cook his dinner. A river to
bath in, a cave to duck into for shelter. Is it any wonder the Greeks
spoke of four elements: earth air fire water. (I think those were
their elements.) And gradually he learned to manipulate these powers
which all had the power to destroy him physically. Prometheus was
considered a man who stole from the gods. What we forgot was that he
stole just a bit of the godlike powers. Crucial to man, fire for the
gods was just a crumb of the cake of their powers. Now man considers
he knows the full formula for energy. He would not admit this, science
he says, has not YET fully revealed the secrets of the universe, but
really, that is his defacto belief. Without this faith in his own
powers, man would not act upon them, and thus his formulas would not
have led mankind on the path history reveals. He had to believe his
insight was in fact, the whole picture.
All this is looking outward. Actually man is part of a flow of earth,
air, fire, water, and every breath he takes is proof of this
commingling. Man forgets his own partialness and partness of
everything and this forgetting disables him--disables his need to
understand himself. The inward life of man has a potential for being
understood and, to some extent, harnessed; there are internal energies
which can be used for a kind of ignition. Of these the scientist
knows nothing, and in fact, actively, often, discourages these
Many of these internal investigations are absurd. But as Jan Cox
reminded his students, the counterfeit would not exist were it not for
real gold. (This is one of the few times he quoted another.) One
hesitates to even call these internal quests spiritual, considering
the abuses of the word religion which dominate the intellectual
landscape of modern man.
The task --to grasp and harness if not totally control, internal
energy flows--though is not just legitimate, it is crucial, for a few.
It is obviously not necessary for most people and this fact may
perhaps reflect larger energy flows and needs which man cannot
comprehend. That does not answer the question of why so few people
are drawn to, the Real Work. An answer to this question was written
down long ago, and it is a good of an answer as this person knows: The
wind bloweth where it listeth.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
But---can we discover anything, can we add to the sum of Humanity's knowledge, can we ask basic questions, can we, in effect, know in the sense of originality, of real change, while playing with these bits, these units, that others have defined?
There are advantages to knowledge as composed of bits. It avoids the skepticism that comes from recognizing, glimpsing that one thing affects another, because then you have to say, is this another unit of knowledge, this connection? And don't you get, this way, such a huge pile of bits that they are uncountable, and unmanageable, daunting regardless of the realms of mathematics marshalled to ride herd on these bits. Or could a glimpse of this chaos be, exciting...fun...knowledge at a new level.
One advantage of knowledge as units, is this picture also fits our experience, we open a book, and find out that scientists used to rob graveyards to get bodies to study anatomy. They, another nit, (is that short for unit, no, it's a typo, and I am not going to continue calling units, nits) called this practise, of getting corpse, 'burking." Another unit to stack on top of the first.
But--is this--- knowledge? I never stole a corpse, a whole planet of detail is hidden in these words, and obscured by putting a period at the end of the sentence, and the persuasiveness of everybody else agreeing this is a fact.
Would real knowledge involve questioning all assumptions, and resolutely trying to follow what you see; would knowledge involve an element necessarily of character, in bravely facing consequences?
Would knowledge involve internal change?
I merely raise these questions now.
Let us close with an example. A king rules over several countries. He says, Abalonia is my country. If there are at that moment, insurgents in neighboring Clambakia, planning an invasion to assist their brothers in musselhood, to what extent is that king ignorant? Did he ever know anything? If he keeps or loses that country after some external actions, how does that future outcome, affect what he knows, now. It is just a question.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
culture, a professor at Wharton University and it gives us a marvelous
example of the mechanical mind. This is not about ideas, and that is
why I mention a living writer here, my point has nothing to do with
his ideas, I find them interesting in fact. No, my point here, is how
the author of The Empathic Civilization, (just out, do go buy a copy)
illustrates, not an idea, not a type of thinking, but thinking itself.
I am using Rifkin here merely as an example of how everyone's mind
operates. Rifkin's thesis in his new book is that mankind, is not by
nature, violent, no, rather, he argues, humanity is born a social
animal. You listen and it slips right by you----Why exactly must man
be one or the other? He is both, a violent creature and a social
creature. One does not rule out the other,
unless, of course, you are limited to the ordinary human thinking functions.
Rifkin is arguing on a binary basis, if man is not that, then man
must be this. This is the basis of the mechanical mind, it is not the
full measure of the human mind, but it is the mechanical processing of
the mechanical mind, that has given us scientific progress. The
Indo-European root of the word science is a verb meaning to pull
apart, and this is necessary if man is to rearrange his external
world. This ability of the mechanical mind to imagine how things might
be different than they are, as we look out at the world, has allowed
human civilization to develop. An example Jan Cox used to make this
point, is of routing water up hill. You take apart the present picture
and imagine how it might be otherwise, with water mills, for instance.
But the beauty of the mechanical mind, need not limit us to thinking
the mind must be this or that, mechanical or, mechanical and something
more. The mind of our species has potentials which are not commonly
recognised. One of these talents, is, in the words of Jan Cox, the
potential to think beyond the number two.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
These events will subside, and men will, after the fact, pretend they have a grasp of what happened. And the intellectuals will never notice that these fictions almost utterly obscure thrilling and astounding dynamisms, discoverable through mere objectivity.
Other cultures seem to have a better grasp on basic realities. I just found this quote from a 16th century Japanese writer, named Ikoma Chikamasa:
Fooled into believing Heaven and Hell are not fake
Some people rejoice and some people quake.
That's the 1500s. I have no clue about the life cycle of religions.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
disaster scenes? It is not a fresh idea to compare a person to a
country: you have the brain,---the governing class, running things,
you have the heart/ belly, middle class, the emotions,giving the
whole a reason to live, and you have the feet, the workers, who
actually get anything done. Nothing new in this picture really. What
got me started on a query was the universalness of a certain behavior
on the part of the king/ president, and that is---they tour the
disaster area. Their tours are always on the news. If they don't
make this visit, they are chided as 'out of touch.' Yet what is going
on here, the president does not have ministers he trusts to report
back with accurate details on what is happening? He can't look at news
photos? What--he doesn't have CNN? Why is it mandatory that the leader
go in person to the disaster area?
Because he likes to, that's why. It is fun to tour disaster areas as
long as you are up in a helicopter, and know that when you land on the
tarmac, there will be an audience to wave to, there will be reporters
eager to capture your words, there will be a clean warm dry distance
from what you have seen. Of course it's fun. Road Trip!!!! You get
to see what holds the potential for something new, something
unexpected, something different from your everyday routines--in the
toppled buildings beneath you--, without ever being in danger of
learning anything. The opportunities for the refreshments of the new--
where there is no chance to be drawn into any self examination -- are
not so common. The royal tour of the disaster area is popular because
the fun has such a low price. You are literally looking outward, and
there is a relief, though an unrecognized relief, in being able to do
what is necessary for your continuance in power AND get the reward of
As with the president, so with the mechanical mind---the, ahem,
governing body. The mind insists on only looking outward, at a
certain point in its growth. This is for reasons of self-preservation,
a governing motive with those in power, and with that cerebral
distinctiveness of our species, the sapiens part. Just like Stalin,
self preservation comes first, and if self preservation is the only
thing, well, so bit. The mature mind really cannot admit it doesn't
know stuff. The metaphor falls apart of course when you consider the
effectiveness of a dictator compared with the effectiveness of binary
mechanical thought. But that is not really the point in this little
The mind looks out, and refuses to look inward: there is no
questioning, no increase in knowledge which comes from being open to
novelty, to say nothing of the quest of a few for real answers in the
"blooming confusion" to quote William James, which defines the
intellectual life. You can see this writ large in 20th century
philosophy which threw out metaphysics, for positivism. Just tossed
it out. Now when Jan Cox, one of the few real thinkers of the last
century, said, "if you can't touch it, it's not real, " that is
metaphysics, but he could say that because he had plumbed the shallows
of ordinary intellectual endeavors. He laughed at the thought that
modern science disregarded the inner life. In your head, he would
point, is your laboratory for, in his words, "doing this thing."
But 20th century philosophy is just one example of the intellect
looking outward, and only, outward.I hope though that it gives some
sense to my thoughts about touring the tourist--appreciating the
nature of the mechanical mind as we strive to see in ourselves, a good
example of that tourist, and press our quest to determine what else
may be inside, besides, the binary mind.