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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some (insane ?) ramblings on the city

No, I am NOT talking about that hyper chic ghetto in London where the bankrats are glued in front of their screens getting instant gratification in the form of $$$$$££££€€€€€ SIGNS (he he) while mindlessly pressing buttons in Pavlovian fashion, I am talking about the... city.
The place where lots of people live (together), more or less peacefully.
Goody, now I get to don my rabbi's hat. (I am no less contradictory than anyone else here... Judaïsm taught me how to think. The rabbis have always been the world's greatest thinkers. And Jewish rabbis' thought is on a parr with Greek philosophy, although in an entirely different direction. (And by the way.... Herbert was steeped in monotheistic religious tradition. His books are like... textbooks in monotheism. I hope that he knew this, as he was a really smart cookie, smarter than us street rats, I think.)
So, on to the cities.
And back to Genesis (where it all started for us, by the way).
The first mention of cities in the Bible is right after... the first murder. Cain kills Abel, God says to Cain : because you have spilled your brother's blood into the earth, the earth will no longer.... COOPERATE with your efforts to cultivate it, so... In other words, we could say, Cain was just no longer cut out for farming, and he was going to have to find ANOTHER form of subsistance. (By the way, simplistic thinking likes to intimate that God... PUNISHED Cain for the first murder, but this is not true. God didn't NEED to punish Cain for the first murder because.... he knew that Cain would do the job just fine for him. We could say that Cain's restless wandering/nomadism on the earth is an attempt to flee what we moderns call his.. conscience. Abel is gone. Nothing will bring him back again. I think that Thai will appreciate that the temptation to turn what IS into what SHOULD BE is sometimes overwhelming. Because we are just itching for God to punish Cain, we attribute our own desire to God. Not good. )
So. It is in THIS context that the descendants of Cain start to huddle together in places called... cities. The first cities were inhabited by descendants of Cain.
So. I will interpret that the Genesis author thought that men who inhabited cities were estranged from agriculture, and the earth to a certain extent. (Careful, I too am not saying that this is good or bad, I am observing.) And it seems obvious to me that at least the way that our cities are currently organized, this estrangement is quite evident. (We could diminish it by creating... tracts of land FOR farms right in the center of our cities, by the way... This would be a good idea, I think.) The Genesis author also posited that people living in cities felt a certain... rootlessness, too.
Lots of people now living in liberalland would just LOVE to pretend that since they don't believe in God... the Bible has no importance whatsoever to them in their daily lives.
This attitude, in my book, is extremely.... STUPID. It is a little bit like being in a car, driving along in it, and when being questioned, saying "Car, what car ? I'm moving, aren't I ?"
We are STILL products of our ancestor's beliefs, so, in my book we are better off learning about these beliefs in order to be able to more or less "choose" in an informed manner.
Fast forward.
When he was fourteen years old, Adolf Hitler's poor father left home (a small town or village) with a bundle on his back and headed for Vienna in hopes of finding work. Vienna then was an extremely cosmopolitan BIG CITY, and the young man after several hardships managed to get a job with the government bureaucracy as a customs official, and headed back to his home (border) town, proud of having made something of himself. When he got "home", nobody remembered him. Trauma. Major trauma.
When Adolf set off for Vienna about 40 years later, the city had changed a lot, and the worst of industrialized evils had created the massive unemployment which is looming before us even now. On the streets in Vienna, the young Adolf saw what the young Debra saw on the Champs Elysées thirty years ago : throngs of anonymous faces of every color, people of every shape and size, speaking every language imaginable. Where Debra was fascinated and impressed with cosmopolitanism at 25, Adolf was overwhelmed with estrangement at 14 (admit it, he was a little young to be all on his own...). (And it was not a piece of cake, this rootlessness for Debra at 25 either...) And Adolf could NOT manage to make something of himself like his Daddy had. Because of what/who HE was. But also because of what Vienna had become. And... this rootlessness is a major factor in what happened after...


Debra said...

I think that it's important to observe that Judaic thought is extremely ambivalent about our two simultaneous and contradictory desires : wanderlust, the desire to pick up, take off and keep walking, and the desire for roots, to stay in one place and amass... property, possessions, etc.
Two conflicting, simultaneous desires. Conflicting desires IN us create... CONFLICT outside of us.

Thai said...

The yin and yang of flux vs. permanence.

We all know where I sit on this.

Dink said...

Some say the next great symmetry break is fire,
Some say the next great symmetry break is ice.
From what I've seen of our pattern's recursion
I hold with those who favor fire.

Nice! You'd think Frost would have gone with ice...

Heterogenous agreement

Its done, just not at a large enough scale yet. Take going to a Mexican restaurant: Patrons order things off the menu instead of asking for pancakes. Patrons wait to be seated instead of wandering over to other people's tables and hitting them. We add a nice tip if the server has been even remotely civil. The rules are understood and obeyed by all.

I think that it's important to observe that Judaic thought...

Note to SD: Deb occasionally meets with fellow "spychoanalysts" to interpret the old testament (I kit you not). Its like catnip to Kitty and she really gets slash-y with those claws. Just lay low and post some more Pink Panther clips...

Oh, that sand art was cool too!

Street Dog said...

Some (insane ?) ramblings on the city

Spychoanalyst heal thyself!

Herbert was steeped in monotheistic religious tradition. His books are like... textbooks in monotheism

He also incorporated some Vedic concepts, Sufism, Zen, and other Eastern religions. I think he had fun blending all of the above in his own way.

Just lay low

Strategic silence can be useful.

And... this rootlessness is a major factor in what happened after..

Mein Kampf depicts a troubled, complex psyche. His experiences in Vienna were certainly formative. I think I will agree with the Lady Debra that Hitler's adolescence was a major influence and that the city construct can bring social dynamics into sharp relief.

Speaking of Hitler, I remember seeing this clip from 1945.

Der Führer Raising Cain

PS - I think Thai will win the Nobel Prize in Literature AND Physics for his extraordinary prose. Sadly, the Nobel Prize has lost its luster these days.

Debra said...

Hugs and kisses to you, Street Dog for that lovely video.
I think you should invade the next-door jungle with it and raise Hell. Right ?

Thai said...

SD, I had my first eye exam the other day- presbyopia is finally requiring reading glasses. Anyway, apparently I have significant drusen for 43. Do you know a link which discusses the probabilities of progression to MD when one has significant drusen at any given age and how effect various preventative measures are?

I am not very fond of Kale but if I have to eat it, I will. I would like to know how much it really helps however.

re: my high quality response to the scaling properties of original sin

1. Be nice, this zombie troll is on another stretch of overnights.

2. I have never really been able to get my head into the Hitlers of the world. My wife and I occasionally have a variant of this same conversations as I periodically tease her for a phase she went through many years ago where she devoured tons of books on serial killers, Hitler, etc... She never has explained her period of fascination in them.

Is this a better response?

Where was Hitler in the Bat Colony?

Dink said...


Perhaps definable as not being incorporated in a social matrix of consequences so unacceptable behavior isn't nipped in the bud? But then if the social matrix itself is corrupt, rootlessness would allow healthy behavior to flourish. So neither roots or rootlessness is absolutely good or evil.

" I had my first eye exam the other day"

You've had perfect vision until now? I'm like Mr. Magoo w/o my contacts or glasses.

"She never has explained her period of fascination in them"

There is a huge fascination with this show "Dexter" about a serial killer whose "code" only allows him to kill criminals. Hannibal Lechter seemed to really prefer hunting other predators (though his "code" allowed cops and such if they were inconvenient). These are both fictional characters, but I believe both play to an innate pleasure in (perceived) street justice.

Thai said...

No laughing at my latest post! ;-)

Debra said...

My condolences Thai, for your newly found near sightedness, you are in for at least 15 more years of cursing at glasses. (Personally I have STILL not accepted glasses, and mine are perpetually filthy, or lost, or whatever...)
What is drusen ? (Goody, a new word to pet.)
For the bat story... Grenoble's bus system has insitituted new rules requiring all passengers to enter the bus from the front, thus ensuring that they have to walk past the driver, at which time, normal human behavior suggests some kind of verbal/eye contact with another individual human being.
Geez, wonder why they did that ? Could it have something to do with the vampire bat phenomenon ?
Don't forget Thai.... all those years that the chiantists have been busy telling us just what an egotistical species we are, and that... all the other species on the earth are purely selfish too. (not true, by the way...)
After 150+ years of constant brainwashing/propaganda, should we really be surprised that brokers are worse than vampire bats ?

Street Dog said...

SD, I had my first eye exam the other day- presbyopia is finally requiring reading glasses.

Yea, in your 40's. Uncorrected myopia will compensate for this in my case, hehe.

Anyway, apparently I have significant drusen for 43. Do you know a link which discusses the probabilities of progression to MD when one has significant drusen at any given age and how effect various preventative measures are?

I will see if I can find some. Prevention in a nutshell: quit smoking, reduce ocular UV light exposure(probably doesn't reduce AMD risk, some evidence it reduces cataract risk), diet high in antioxidants, good general health (HTN, DM are aggravating factors, duh). Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat dark green leafy vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, zucchini, garden peas, brussel sprouts. Eat fish (omega-3FA's probably reduce risk). The AREDS (AREDS 2 is underway) study at the NIH looked at oral supplementation (NOT natural foods). The study was conclusive but there are several caveats. Regular eye exams recommended with more advanced AMD. I think of diet/supplementation as having mild to moderate preventative effect.

What is drusen ? (Goody, a new word to pet.

Drusen are yellow/white collections of material underneath the retina that are associated with aging changes. If this progresses enough it can lead to varying degrees of vision loss. Most people develop some drusen in mid-life. Here is a picture of the retina showing some "bad" drusen.

Thai said...

Thanks, I am pretty good about everything else, my only modifiable seem to be kale-yuck!

I was just curious to know if there are prognosis tables like the oncologists have developed, etc... every time I read you optho boy's lit (which isn't often admittedly), I am amazed at all the things you track so I figured someone might have tabulated the "actuarial" data.

Be well

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