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Showing posts from June, 2013

I have been reading, Q2 2013

New Zealandish propaganda about New Zealandish propaganda (1917)

"Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling - for as soon as the mind responds, connects with the thing, the feeling shows in the words; this is how poetry enters deeply into us. If the poet presents directly feelings which overwhelm ... they cannot strengthen morality and refine culture, set heaven and earth in motion and call up the spirits!"

– Wei Tai (C11th)

Was in a sciencey mood. (This makes my ravishing encounter with Rorty - the greatest of the irrealist literary crusaders - more notable still.) Science is most easily taken in via sweet funny geeks - so I returned to scifi for the first time in years. Poetry overtook me mid-May. Been active, but the increase in reading is really just redistribution, taken from my crash news diet and cutting down on my beloved web aggregators (3QuarksDaily, Wood S Lot, and Arts & Letters…

Union Terrace Gardens #2

Three teens unshaded sodden
in brief brilliance
crane at youtube's tinny cauldron
- brighter, greener, bustier
than the park reprieved.

Fair enough spillover
living public living room;
I crane at miserable book
– drabber, greyer than park concrète –
and, supposedly, at world to come.


"The Decline" (1999) by NOFX

I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject.
- HD Thoreau


The great thing about bein' a human: the ability to reason;
But reasoning don't work when no-one cares:
two parts apathy, one part despair
.
- NOFX

Going on and on about Decline has been the pastime of conservatives. But then 'The Decline' - a lurid eighteen minute portrait of Imperial America by punk's once-reigning left-statists - is remarkably similar to the Tory-prog dystopias of, say, Rush; they share gross length, scifi gloom, and self-aggrandising individuality.

Where 'The Decline' is a cartoon version of Chomskyan politics, Rush were cartoons of the novels of Ayn Rand (herself a cartoon Nietzsche). Rush are (or were) the pop embodiment of giving in to romantic individualism. Now, we know this as the basis of right-wing life - but even the most Left leftist has to have some: at minimum,they glory in their ability to see through the neoliberal individualist script of…

midsummer miscellany

(c) Jenny Morgan, 'Midsummer Hare'


It may be that curiosity comes at the expense of commonality.

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We need a term for high-IQ people who are, nonetheless, idiots. I suggest 'arch-idiot'. Usage: "Almost the entire field of financial economics was composed of archidiots." Taleb uses nerdas a technical term for this; Marx, ein Fachidiot. The culture at large uses savant, but this is not quite right and would stick the boot in to autists yet again. We also say book-smart, but that's anti-intellectual: our problem would not cease with the banning of all poncey books, since our problem is with those that abuse the poncey books.
Archstupidity (n.): The presence of strong abstract reasoning in the absence of emotional intelligence, empirical feedback, or actual rationality. Leads to the ubiquitous, dangerous assumption that since one understands one complex theory (C++, economics, cell biology, Heidegger), one underst…

limits to self-invention

...we give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone. According to your desires and judgment, you will have and possess whatever place to live, whatever form, and whatever functions you yourself choose.

- Pico della Mirandola


...a human being, for moral purposes, is largely how he or she describes himself or herself.
- Richard Rorty


I and my friends have a theory of identity, a  inspired by an implausibly positive reading of the oddball sociologist Erving Goffman. Call it bootstrapping:

what you like is a large part of who you are; you often grow to like what you choose to do (adaptive preferences); you can choose what you doso to some degree you can choose what you like (2&3); so you can sometimes sort of choose who you are (1&4).
Compared to the received view of identity, which holds that "Once grown, you are an essence of given things that will not change. Biology + Childhood + Peers = Self", this approach to l…