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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

To stop running away at the bit

Over there on Hell's blog, I kind of got carried away, mea culpa...
(It's all OKIE'S fault, for sticking in that really interesting link, and OKIE should be over here playing instead of sticking in great links like that to get me all worked up ; I told him this because he is posting on a really good blog of his own, but what good is it to post on your own blog if nobody reads you ? I think that OKIE has realized this and is sticking his most interesting links on Sudden Debt. IS THERE A SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM without turning into one of those creatures in the old Star Trek series who no longer had any bodies, but were just brains, because they were THINKING so much ????)
So, we can discuss Okie's link over here without having to muck my MY really beautiful post underneath, right ?
I am reading Regine Pernoud's little book about popular misconceptions and prejudice about the "Middle Ages". Many of our prejudices are the direct result of the bias of the extremely "classical" age which is drawing to a close now, and was hastened into its demise with the Romantic episode at the end of the 19th century.
"Classical" culture is taking a long time to die, though...
When I say classical, I'm talking about... Aristotelian world view, seen through the lenses of Descartes, for example. (Of course, I'm grossly oversimplifying...even more than Régine herself. )
Let's dig in on the home-schooling, Thai, I still don't understand. I can be SO thick, you know, and totally lacking in a sense of humor, of course...


Debra said...

I'm going to comment on my post, since I'm too lazy to edit it...
The question of being on topic or not is actually not an easy one.
The problem with thinking in America (but not just in America) is that we have an ingrained habit of sticking topics in little watertight boxes, SO WE CAN'T SEE THE RAMIFICATIONS of our thoughts, or the way that different phenomena tie together.
This leads to... narrow thinking, of course, and the incapacity to connect ideas.
The video which I keep raving about shows a woman who operates like a bloodhound, or like Theseus in the labyrinth, you pick your metaphor.
She follows a thread and when it disappears, she has her eye firmly on it so that she can spot when it emerges from the hole it has disappeared into, if you see what I'm talking about.
This is a very good example of analytic thinking which is complemented by the ability to generalize at certain points in time.
If you stick to sheer analytical thinking (I think...) you never manage to lift your nose above the scent, and when the scent disappears, you can't raise your eyes to figure out where the quarry might have disappeared to. And you get stuck in your little box.

Dink said...

The in-laws, including 7 yo niece, have been dropped off at the airport. My hat is off to you who have raised/are raising kids.

So in reading over your posts here and SD, I wrote some notes down on a receipt to respond. Cohesion/Veil/Mothers in workforce/Jurassic Park. Hmmm... not triggering my memory as well as I had hoped.

I once heard the phrase that went (approx.) "that civilization is based on the domestication of women". Grim. But what if the most viable ESS is unfair to a certain group? I'm sure some would love this alpha-beta class structure (complete with subliminal recordings while asleep "I'm so glad to be a beta!"). But I don't think this is where humanity's best possible future lies.

Take the whole veil thing. I just can't believe the majority of these women are psychologically healthy. Angry, terrified, and bitter women will not raise well-adjusted children. A woman who has been educated and has the option to be independent, but CHOOSES to be a stay-at-home mom can raise well-adjusted children. For that matter, so could a male.

The concept of choice automatically being fair and resulting in freedom is probably just another heuristic. Take Okie's video from Elizabeth Warren for example. If a question is framed to someone in the right way, it might appear to be "choice" (i.e. you can buy a Porsche or you can qualify for a bigger house payment). So the chooser starts calculating each option. The chooser should have really stepped back and said "FU! I'm put it in the bank so someday I won't have to work".

The cohesion note had something to do with Thai's link to temporal experience between people of different height, but I forgot what I meant to write.

Jurassic Park II-
In JP II the author made the point that although the dinosaurs had been brought back, the babies didn't have parents to raise them. So they're behavior wasn't a good reflection of what dino culture was eons ago. This seemed important to write down at the time. Perhaps it will make sense again later. Mind like a Swiss-watch, no?

Dink said...


Debra said...

Snark snark...
What IS psychologically healthy and... WHO is going to decide what is psychologically healthy ?
Some things to meditate : quite some time ago flagellation and mortification were in many cases considered to be quite exemplary behavior. The Church had a hard time trying to separate out the wheat from the chaff when people claimed to have had visions. Who was credible, and who... NOT ? On what criteria ?
As it turns out, my "loony" friends in France are among the ONLY people here who can qualify as having mystical experiences.
So... just what does that mean ?
Could it possibly mean that current society which has peremptorily trumpeted that God doesn't exist and anyone who could possibly believe in "him" is either a loony or a fake has rendered mystical spiritual experience a flying saucer phenomenon ? That when you say you believe in God you have to prove his existence with a compendium or a Wikipedia article ?
But... WHAT IF mystical experience corresponds to a fundamental human need that is fulfilled with great difficulty out in a mainstream society whose basic preoccupation is in buying and selling ? What if mystical experience corresponds to the eremitic, thus solitary, monastic type life of contemplation (not exclusively, of course...) ?
Not all of the women taking up the veil are uneducated, angry, bitter ones. Some of them are imitating others. But... that's what the parents do when they buy that house in a district where the test scores are high, isn't it ? The ones that I talk to are radiant believers in God, and happy to be doing what they're doing.
And you can take this from someone whose Mom had a mystical religious experience when she was 51...
We have been under the mistaken impression for quite some time that "thinking" is synonymous with, and equivalent to, "logical" thinking, or Cartesian type thinking. This is a very reductionist way of looking at the world.

Debra said...

For Marcus, on the topic of aristocracy and the criminal justice system.
I am still woefully ignorant about lots of things, Marcus, and was always bad at retaining dates in history.
My recent reading of Regine Pernoud, a specialist in medieval history, has led me to realize that there is a major differnce in the conception of aristocracy during the medieval period, and during the classical period which corresponds to the 17th century. Aristocracy has been associated with the idea that transmission of land (not property, but land) should NOT be an affair of buying and selling, but should have another mode of transmission attached to it.
From that idea, I extrapolate with my basic idea that human society depends on creating differences in order to enable to think : aristocracy to me means the function, the place in our Western society where consensus dictactes that buying and selling do not apply, buying and selling are EXCLUDED, and transmission must be handled in another manner.
Example : look at the question of working on Sunday. If the social body determines that it is unacceptable to work on Sunday, then that same social body has created a "place" where buying and selling are excluded. (Not all "work", but work that involves buying and selling.) But if/when the social body decides that buying and selling are OK seven days a week, 24h/day, then... that "place" is no longer there. I maintain that the absence of that place ultimately destroys the meaning of the activity of buying and selling itself, and that this is what is happening in our society these days.
Prison system : Marcus, it sounds like you BELIEVE in our criminal justice system. I was a militant for Amnesty International for a fair amount of time, and got a lot of doc about the criminal justice system. Logically : if corruption is plaguing our country as much as we see here, WHY should the criminal justice system be exempt from that corruption ? It is not. The criminal justice system in the U.S. is being run like just another big business, and the prison system too. Buying and selling again...
Loïc Wacquant at Cal Davis has been mentioning for a while now that the U.S is using its prison system to "solve" the problem of housing for the lower castes. Is this what the prison system was intended for ? To be run like big business ? Idem for the health care system. Running the whole shebang like big business while cutting out the "aristocratic" mission of our institutions is... bad business practice...

Thai said...

Dink, great link

Deb, will comment tomorrow. Remember, Hell has been promoting an end to permagrowth and the increase in an energy efficient economy with local returning over distant (as it is more energy efficient).

Home schooling is far more efficient in some ways (worse in others) and for the person who is unemployed (therefore has time on their hands) and is disgusted with the educational system (which is robbing the middle class to go to the poor), home schooling is a viable energy efficient, fun, superior alternative.

There is already tons of data showing that kids that graduate from home schooling do better than equivalently matched kids in traditional public schools (on standardized academic tests- I know, I know, all kind of problems with this notion).

And the longer a child is in home school, the better they do (if their parents don't kid them first)

Thai said...

And Deb, I would be amazed that Marcus ever comes over here. His world revolves around being a victim and neither you nor I are completely willing to surrender our own guilt (nor anyone else) in this tragedy of the commons.

Plus, again from my experience, nothing ever changes anyway. The underlying structure of society is always the same across the planet and the belief we can do anything to change it is an illusion.

Society is a scale free network and there is nothing we can do about it except come to a universal view that it is not it the advantage of a muscle cell to go to war with a nerve cell as they both have a role.

Debra said...

But Thai.... if nothing every changes in your book, then you are a pessimist just like Marcus...
I invited him over to read my comments on aristocracy and the criminal justice system, so will see if he shows up. He seems to have had a change of heart.
As I tell my loony friends, Thai, I HATE CLUBS OF ALL KINDS, (the expatriation club being one of the most alienating, by the way).
I am an inclusive person... And at this point in time I do not define my identity in opposition with others' identity.
Surprise, surprise, Thai : individuals have the capacity to have GREAT POWER in society. Admittedly when they do, certain factors are at work that favor the eclosion of their "new" ideas, but individuals still can have great impact.
I'm all excited about your comments.
I have not been spouting all of this off for no comments...

SS said...

The veil, or rather modesty in dress, for I still don't understand any particular advantagess to the veil as opposed to modesty - that's why, perhaps, I used the example of wearing the veil on a topless beach to explain 'obfuscation"- in any case modesty, need not, in my opinion, be a debilitating factor for woman, nor men for that matter. Especially for woman though whose social power has largely been obtained for her attractiveness as the source of reproduction, modesty as a social standard frees her from enslavement to her appearance and to her body as reproductive organ. It reserves her for her family and children and removes her from the world in the constant role of object of desire. It allows for the exercise of her mind and if allowed other roles may, eventually, lead to her development of a more significant social role.

Remember that prior to our modern day, woman were really tied for the most part to the cycle of reproduction, had numerous children, often died in child birth and unless willing to abstain from sex - a route only chosen by a few,- had fewer reproductive choices than today. This reality shaped practically the whole of human existence so that social changes resulting from technological changes affecting it will take some time.


SS said...

@ Debra

Your comments on the limits of analytical thought or reason and rationality echo those of Nietzsche. He explains the repercussion of emotion on the process of understanding and that absent its insights reason alone is but a puzzle masters attempt to describe a very fluid reality.

He makes some very interesting comments on the hyper development of reason by the Jews, an affect of their powerlessness if I recall and an attempt to protect themselves by saying, ah but you see reason and logic our on our side.

Anyway his insight is much more profound than my recollection which does not do it justice.

Nietsche, by the way, was not at all anti-semitic despite the fact that the Nazis and his sister, afterhis death tried to paint him as such. He admires the Jews in many ways, calls anti-semitism a German stupidity, says the Jews and Prussians should inter-amrry to blend the very different qualities of both, generally did not like the Germans and liked the italians best of all which suits me just fine being of Italian origin. I must say that the praise of Italian culture is general in educated continental Europe and hardly fits in with the low-brow German and Anglo-Saxon view. Remember Keats, Shelly and sundry felt the Italian tour an obligatory part of their education.



Thai said...

Re: "absent (emotions) insights, reason alone is but a puzzle masters attempt to describe a very fluid reality."

Isn't this what Dink and I have been saying?

There is always a template or filter through which information must pass to be processed.

Or is Nietsche saying something different?

So our thoughts are always tainted by a kind of original sin... ;-)

Dink said...

So much to play content to play with:)

(BTW, Okie has been added as an author. Oddly, the system will still not let him comment. I changed the system permissions to "Users with Google Account" from "Registered Users"; if you experience difficulties please send me an e-mail to attempt a fix.)

"What IS psychologically healthy and... WHO is going to decide what is psychologically healthy ?"

What: evolution over time?
Who: Me? Because that would be AWESOME!

"aristocracy to me means the function, the place in our Western society where consensus dictactes that buying and selling do not apply, buying and selling are EXCLUDED, and transmission must be handled in another manner."

Aristocracy = tribe of philosopher kings? Just as ripe for unfairness, perhaps more so.

"home schooling is a viable energy efficient, fun, superior alternative"

Whoa!!!! A new post will be up soon to express my sheer terror over this statement.

"This reality shaped practically the whole of human existence so that social changes resulting from technological changes affecting it will take some time"

The resulting new "strategies" (i.e. way to live one's life) are popping up everywhere. Out of the flux, the most stable should start to dominate the others. But evolution takes too long for one human lifetime to observe. Which is tragic because I'm really curious.

"I must say that the praise of Italian culture is general in educated continental Europe and hardly fits in with the low-brow German and Anglo-Saxon view."

That land has seen many cultures over the centuries. A lab where many, many experiments have been run. Some exceptional results, no doubt. Some embarrassing results, too. Very human.

"So our thoughts are always tainted by a kind of original sin... ;-)"

Perfect :) I thought of a metaphor. I speak enough Spanish to very loosely follow a conversation. I was watching a movie where the characters were speaking Spanish and the subtitles showed the English translation. I started to notice small glitches in the translation. Subtle, but still differences. I began to have concerns over the translation. Our minds are translators and the differences from the original are becoming apparent. Even subtle mistranslations can hamper our functioning. Disturbing, no?

Debra said...

Dinky, aristocracy is not a class of PEOPLE, aristocracy is a place, a function, so not a TRIBE.
Home schooling : one of the most incredibly frustrating things in France was the terrible fact that my kids spent so much time in that grueling school day (you know, like preparation for all that time spent in the grueling work day, right ? School systems tend to subtley reflect our attitudes about WORK, because the kiddies are not supposed to be playing all day, they're supposed to be... WORKING their fat little butts off, aren't they ?), that they no longer had the time, inclination, or energy to listen to any of the education that I might have provided them with.
And they also learned to stick their feet under the table after that grueling school day. (And don't tell me that I should have stuck them with chores, that would have been too too sadistic...)
The Italians...
Ah, the Italians. Italy is paradise. And, by the way, Colin Firth is STILL my actually FAVORITE actor in the whole wide world (although he is starting to look a liitle jowly, but who am I to complain, I'm starting to look a little jowly too.) He is a Brit expatriate living in Italy. YES YES YES. (He was Mr Darcy in the BBC's production of Pride and Prejudice (pant pant).
That's all for the pornography tonight folks and it was rather soft, right ?

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits