Understanding Scrapbook

2014 11 20 Does god owe us understanding?
I don’t see why.

2011 07 31 Some messages go no where. Some messages propagate.
Some propagations link into chains many links long; some propagations link without lengthening, like keys on a janitor’s ring. My own seem to be doomed to that latter variety: more than one person seems to have understood me, but a third link doesn’t come to connect to the second link: and gradually, the original link weakens. Today, after two years of careful explanation, I believe that my girlfriend is sliding backwards in her understanding of what I’ve explained. And people she tried to tell about me absolutely blocked whatever she tried to say. She’s a social person: that’s why I presume her own linkage is fuzzing over.

2008 08 25

It will be difficult to impossible for messages embarrassing to the dominant culture to penetrate the culture. The mother knows the priests abuse children, she herself was abused when she was a girl (and she still gets hit on now and then). But when her daughter tries to tell her what the priest did to her, the mother herself will silence the child. Repress it. Repress it.

Everyone knows that the politicians have their hand in the cookie jar. But the media won’t hear your report unless they’re ready to turn on that particular politician anyway, for some political reason.

I’ve spent my life blurting messages where the target is not already tumbling. I’ve been made a pariah. I’m shunned. The police, my family, the courts … don’t defend me, they join the attack. Now I’ve been jailed and censored and no one talks aloud about it.

2004 04 10

I’ll soon develop an image of hierarchically infrastructured societies as a carnivorous pitcher plant: easy to fall downward, difficult to impossible to climb out of. Information flows downward; few ideas may ascend.

2008 08 10

Communication, understanding, is possible among humans. It does not follow that communication, or understanding, are guaranteed. We are surrounded by messages that we get; are there more, or fewer, messages that we don’t get? My own bet is that there are more. The universe is filled with signals, most of which we don’t get.

We build churches to demonstrate that we are favored by God, that God has spoken to us. The congregation is distinguished by getting the message. That’s the signal. But is it true? Does the existence of the church prove the existence of God? Does the existence of the Bible prove that it’s true? Does the existence of the Bible prove that we get it?

Or does all this prove that we are liars? deluding, and often self-deluding?

2008 08 01

Understanding will not occur where competing epistemologies both make the same claim. The Jews built the Temple of Jerusalem as a symbol for their special status with the magical entity which supposedly created the “world”: their special God. At the same time the Jews’ priests told endless stories about how the Jews were not good at being God’s children, how the Jews were forever backsliding and listening to the priests of false gods, gods who did not create the world or hold the Jews in special favor. In other words: the temple was supposed to be the main conduit for communications between the magical entity and the chosen people. You went to the Temple to hear what the priests said God had said to them, the Special Jews. You also went to the Temple to tell God what you would do for him and to ask him to do things for you. God, hear my prayer: give my enemy bleeding sores and I will spill a lamb’s blood for your special throat.

… a wonderful map / territory confusion

The Christians tell the same story, but with an opposite meaning: God sent a special Son to the Jews because the Jews and their Temple of Jerusalem were not listening to a word God said to them. The Jews stood by with their thumb in their ass while the priests protected their monopoly as God’s conduit by sandbagging the special Son, the special messenger, the true authority from God: God himself, in a wonderful map / territory confusion. (Semiotic necessity doesn’t apply to magical entities that created the world.)

Semiotic necessity doesn’t apply to magical entities that created the world.

In other words, both the Temple and Jesus were making the same incompatible claim: to represent God.

Both the Temple and Jesus were claiming to represent God.

Jesus was additionally claiming, according to the Christian sect of Jews, to BE God: the magical entity that created the world.

In other words, the Jews’ “religion” in effect says, We’re the good guys. But the Christian Jews were claiming Jesus is The Good Guy. And soon the Christians stopped being Jews and started claiming that the Jews were the bad guys.

It may all be hokum, people making themselves their own heroes, but there’s one part that’s dead on the money: we all claim to be the good guys: while any objective analysis would show: Never mind messages from magical entities: you people aren’t getting any basic messages from nature, from truth, from science, from reason, from reality … (and neither is your God).

Nevertheless, see my one point: The people who think they’re the good guys will never communicated with the people who say, No, you’re the bad guys; WE’re the good guys. To whit: Nazis, Americans … Republicans, Communists …

Notice further, the self-proclaimed good guys are routinely willing to suspend their normal procedures in order to silence the guy publicly doubting their special status and favorite folk of the magical entity. The Jews seduced the Romans into breaking their own Roman laws in order to murder Jesus for the Temple according to the Jesus story.

And the United States suspended its First Amendment and other Constitutional guarantees when it arrested and jailed pk and censored an on-line folder, knocking all pk web sites and modules off the internet, stealing his computers and getting the host to destroy his data.

Notice: I claim to be a good guy. I claim to serve the good guys Jesus and Ivan Illich. But in large part how I do it satirizes the Nazi claims of the Christians, of the Americans … of civilization!

How can we be the good guys if we’re indistinguishable from the Romans? from the British? from the Nazis? How can we be active kleptocrats, not just taking our fathers thefts of the past, but stealing daily anew? We took Indians lands, then we took Sutter’s land, and Sutter’s gold. Now we daily, a trillion times a second, steal Jesus’ internet from Jesus, Illich, and pk!!!

2001 08 12 I add a couple more examples.

One thing that’s long struck me as utterly realistic about the overall “story” of the gospels is narrated by Luke [2:41-52]. At age twelve — the number of the tribes of Israel, the great mystical divisor of the Babylonian calendar — Jesus’ parents take him to Jerusalem. He disappears. They find him testing and being tested by the doctors at the Temple. Those divines are wowed by the prodigy. The chapter closes: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” He wowed them: then he got better yet. So how come he got such a different reception in “his thirties” (note) when he was actually conducting his ministry? had supposedly brought dead people back to life and so forth? The doctors were impressed when he sounded like them. The doctors were alarmed once he’d gone … um, beyond (?) them. What did ordinarily brilliant mathematicians make of Mandelbrot before IBM helped him graph the Mandelbrot Set?

Kepler was a teacher, had students, got paid. Was there one student of his, one colleague, one friend, who had a clue what he was talking about? Even after he’d talked about it for years? No. But in society, it’s the group, not the genius, whose judgment is honored. Was their lack of understanding due to confusion or inarticulateness on Kepler’s part? Maybe. Maybe a little. Maybe in part. But shouldn’t they have nevertheless gotten enough to try to help him communicate? No. Digestibility is assigned to the cook. No effort should be required from the eater. That will work only so long as your life is sustained by things easily digestible by you. What happens when only strong medicine can save you? Then you can’t be saved. No one should bother. Creatures too helpless to be helped are disgusting. Jesus, or Kepler, or Galileo, finally riding in triumph should stomp them like jellyfish washed up by the tide. Trouble is: Jesus and Kepler never ride in triumph. That’s for Tamberlaine, and Pompey, and Julius … the moron geniuses, not the genius geniuses. Actual Jesuses only get killed. Only their effigy, marionetted by some lifer, gets held aloft in a triumphal march. Does the dead Van Gogh get one franc, one calorie, one nano-pleasure when his long despised painting sells for $71,000,000? Does some living Van Gogh profit from the dead Van Gogh’s increase? No. Some living Rockwell does. Some Raphael. Someone never in need.

Rob from the rich to give to the poor, but rob from the poor when the rich need more.

Robin Hood, Mad

At least among chimpanzees when a group murders an orphan, a weak chimp, a weird, lone chimp … the victim doesn’t have to listen to the group chanting incantations about justice or damnation. (I remain confident in that statement despite our knowing so little of primate communications.)

No human being can really understand another.
Graham Greene

(Question introduced elsewhere but not in this context):

How is democracy possible where the understanding only of the powerless is tested while understanding is unimpeachably assigned to the powerful?

Shouldn’t my congressman have to prove to me that he understands what I say to him? When I can prove that he doesn’t, why am I not heard? (That is, I could prove it if anyone knew both how to listen and how to evaluate evidence.)

Could it be because we’re not a democracy at all? or are only by a meaning assigned by the powerful, a meaning bearing no resemblance to the traditional apparent meaning?

2001 08 09 Back to add a bit more but with no time to reweave the whole.

Paul Goodman, in Growing Up Absurd and other books, wrote that testing was a sacred communication between teacher and student. The student has the opportunity to communicate to the teacher his understanding of the teacher. The student also has the opportunity to judge the teacher’s hearing of the student’s understanding. As with Bucky Fuller’s multiple squares point, the opportunities are minimally dual. (See pk’s Tautological Ambiguity.) (A Fuller presentation of Fuller’s point is online at Grunch.net.)
The teacher has the same opportunities. Communication is mutual or there is no communication. Communication can only be democratic, free. That’s what the com part means: together. There can be no authoritarian communication. A kleptocracy can issue messages, but those messages should not be called com-munication. (The king’s failure to hear the slave falsifies the king’s claim to communication. The public’s failure to believe Washington (DC) falsifies US democracy.)

Arthur C. Clarke repeats a news item, also already repeated here which is right up my alley. A girl taking the college boards missed an 800 on the math by one point. Her parents failed to get her to accept it. She finally convinced her father, something of a mathematician himself, that she was right and ETS of Princeton NJ was flat out wrong. (Most mathematicians would have gotten this one wrong; but the girl you see was not ordinarily brilliant but a genius at picturing geometric forms.) The father convinced a lawyer. The parents sued. ETS changed her grade. But did ETS learn how to communicate? Did the society? The exception proves the rule, but hardly proves the rule to be right.

Are your future actions affected by your new understanding?
2002 01 06 I have little occasion these days to know whether the New Yorker cartoons have maintained the quality that made them famous, but I can tell you that I still remember their cartoons from decades ago. Not only is my memory unusual, their cartoons were often good. The one I’m recalling in the context of my theme of understanding showed two things and had two captions. In the cartoon within the cartoon, a guy was flailing in open water. His caption read, “Au secours.” The framing cartoon showed two guys watching him from the shore. Their words went something like, “Do you think he’s really drowning, or is he just a snob?”

That’s great: the guy is imagined to be practicing objectionable snootiness while flailing in the ocean! Snobs don’t require assistance.

I can just see the school teacher asking the guys on shore if they understand the guy in the water: “Yes, ma’am. Au secours is French for ‘Help!”‘
I guess you could also say ‘to the rescue’.” “Very Good, Bobby, that’s correct. You pass.”

No, Bobby, that is not correct. “Au secours” from a man flailing in the ocean does not mean “Help” as in How many angels can sit on the head of a pin? It means Give assistance. Get your ass in the water if you have to. If the theatergoer smells smoke, sees flame, calls Fire!
… that theatergoer knows if he’s understood not by people commencing to discuss combustion, or yelling “Shh!”, but by whether they begin to exit the theater: or at least look around for smoke or flame themselves.

At Macroinformation I’ve now spent years complaining that “no one” understands what I say. That’s after decades of making the same complaint about the rest of my writing. I do get some responses that show that a reader gets the verbal part: “au secours” “means” “help.” But that’s all there is: just words. Where’s the help?

What if the government said, “We need taxes,” and the citizenry said, “I get it: you need taxes.” The government would then have to say, “No, no: make the payments. You can keep the words.”

Everything I say, everything I have ever said, requires international cooperation. I spent the first years of the 1970s saying that we needed networking, a free public data base, cheap publishing, no censorship, no coercion … People stood there with their hands in their pockets. Many of them no doubt could say what the majority of my words meant; what they couldn’t do, didn’t do, was translate them into a working synergy. Maybe ten people understood me. Ten isn’t enough. If one thousand people had understood, had pitched in, had made the snow ball grow just enough to keep growing … we’d have had a public internet, minus the micro-computers, the damn PCs, in the 1970s! At cost! fer chrisake! Run for the public, but not, God help us, by the negligent, backward, retarded-Narcissus of a government: with its legions of, God help us, school teachers.

Now: Back to our cartoon: what if the guy in the water was a snob? what if the two guys from shore swam up to him and said, “OK, buddy. Ya need help?” What if the Frenchmen looked down his nose at them and asked to see their membership card to his club in Paris or London? What if he wanted a secret handshake from the Masons, before he’d allow his life to be saved? Fuck him, hit him in the head. Push him under. The nerve: letting you get all cold and wet … swimming there for nothing but his insults.

You think this is absurd? I agree, but it’s very common. The citizen asks, “How dangerous is the radiation?” and the government says, “Show us your credentials to ask that question” (and then we’ll still answer you with gibberish). Ralph Nader says all the cars are dangerous, and the public says, “Nya nya: you didn’t phrase it in the form of a question: you lose.” Jesus said (the equivalent of) “You priests suck.” and the priests said, “Yeah, but we‘re with the Temple, so you don’t represent God.”

Understanding has to be mutual. If he calls for help, he’d damn well better accept help: from any comer. Unless he had called, “Qualified help, please.”

Even there, I’m simplifying. We’re predators. Deceivers. One never knows what a message from a costumed liar like Homo sapiens really means. A shark could say “Help,” and then devour anyone who arrives. I remember the story my high school friend told, coming home after a semester at Notre Dame. Some South Bend girls would scream for help from the bushes. Some good Catholic boy would rush in to save them. And the kid would get mugged by the actress’s boyfriends.

Even so, even knowing that, this dolt made some dangerous errors: errors I’d been trained since Sunday School for, and who knows, might have committed had Sunday School never been invented. One dawn I was watching the sun rise from the benches on Morningside Drive at 116th Street. I heard a woman’s scream. From down below. “Do not, for any reason, go into Morningside Park,” we had been told as Freshmen. Yeah, but they didn’t say anything about a woman screaming. I dashed down through the park. Still heard the screams. Located the source to be a parked car. The car was shaking. I ran up and knocked on the steamy window. I was not mugged by a gang. Neither was this hero warmly received. Both the man on top and the woman under him told me to get lost in good Anglo-Saxon. I made it back up the cliff face as safely as I’d descended: only my time, energy, and faith wasted.

2003 09 27 Above I referred to Jesus at twelve being examined by the rabbis. If Jesus was what Christians claim, by what right, by what magic could mere human priests judge the knowledge of a god? The Jews claim that there’s a symmetry between God and man, that God made man in his image. Therefore, communication is possible.

Let’s pretend that that’s true for the moment: there’s some common ground between God and man, therefore, messages can go both ways. Man can understand (at least part) of what God says to him, and God can understand (at least part) of what man says to him. How about this though: is there enough common ground between man and man for man to understand what man says? Take a random sample of professors from a random sample of universities: do they understand what Prigogine is saying? Do they understand what Godel said? half a century ago? Have they caught up with Russell? or Whitehead? In my experience the English professors of the 1960s didn’t understand Shakespeare: certainly not what I said about his work. Didn’t then, don’t now.

Hey, maybe what I said was foolish, ignorant, wrong. Or perhaps not. Is what Godel said ignorant, wrong, foolish? Prigogine?

Society exists only by certain frightening ideas remaining unexamined. And any member of the (doomed) society will cooperate in making sure that certain (obvious) propositions can never be presented.

The public’s delicate sensibilities are protected from TV content by a seven-second delay.
The network has seven seconds in which to censor anything picked up by camera or mike. Those delays are watched over by executives. But what if the executives miss something. Hey, the union can pull the plug on the whole network, executives and all. The union can censor the owner: and the public can censor the union.

One of my favorite media memories: Lindsay, as candidate for NYC mayor, had bought the entire surface of the top sheet of the Daily News. You print the sheets, the pile them, you fold them. The front page is the left verso bottom sheet, the back page is the right verso. What Lindsay had bought was the full spread that would be full in your face if you opened the paper at the middle: Lindsay’s big face: two “pages” wide. But the ad that the owners were paid for was never seen: the union had made sure that that page “misregistered.” Lindsay’s face was split in two. One half his face was smeared at the left margin, the other half smeared at the right. In the center? Just printer’s ink smear. Who says there’s no censorship? Since when does the Law really control the society?

Can the person with an IQ of 40 understand the person with an IQ of 60? (Just pretend for the moment that those numbers, that IQ, represents something true and real: accurately measurable.) Can the person with an IQ of 80 understand the person with an IQ of 100?

Can the person with an IQ of 120 understand the person with an IQ of 140? of 160? (Can the person with an IQ of 180 understand the person with an IQ of 20?) Where do we get this belief that understanding can be institutionalized? Kleptocracies appoint official understanders. They understand not by demonstrating understanding: against all challengers; but by fiat. Like Fiat Dollars: based on nothing: but bullshit: anemia of the imagination: intellectual cowardice.

Cowardice slowly becomes a rule of life.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

These modules start with someo core statement: finished or unfinished, well- or ill-stated. A month later, a year, a half dozen years later, I add something else. I sure wish I could both get the others done and come back and edit the others. But screw literary excellent. Forty years ago I cared about that. Thirty years ago I was just turning myself inside out trying to save the biosphere. Now I’m just razzing the walking dead who thirty years ago chose exctinction for the near future. Nyah-nyah, I told you so. Should my taunts achieve literary excellence? I wish they would anyway.

This file relates to Communication

And very much to my life-long theme of Exerience vs. Authority. The latter I’ll do more on (in this specific context) in a moment. (Actually, what I really ought to do, I move much of the above into my Society folder and better tailor what I add here to my Thinking Tools.)

Had I been able to learn math despite the schools, I bet I could prove that communication is impossible to prove except by authority! I’ll also bet that eighty-five thousand mathematicians before Godel were on the path on Godel’s theorem but we don’t know it because not one of them before Godel was lucky enough to be understood. I bet nature had to make a million Jesuses before we noticed a single one of them. (How many drops fall before you notice that it’s raining?)

“Negotiations? We’ve lost all communications!”
Phantom Menace

2005 06 08 People understand what they’ve been trained to understand: and very little else.

Cannibals and missionaries are becoming my symbols for groups with incompatible understandings.

understanding / misunderstanding, with the social elements emphasized.

As usual, some prose wove itself first, me attending; then I think of a more meaningful way to organize and display it, the prose already not fitting very well: a microcosm of life, can’t be helped.

As usual, I’ll just blab, scrapbook file, hoping to make the time to reweave it all as though I’d thought everything out first, before writing a line. Oh, how polish lies.

A Christian may say that God, the centralized power of Western human kleptocracy, became man — Jesus — in order to understand us, to walk a mile in our shoes. OK. Now, from our standpoint, shouldn’t we become God, walk a mile in his shoes, before we deign to talk about God?

Human beings talk. That’s what we do. That more than anything makes us what we are. pk for example: talk, talk, talk. But do we know what we’re talking about? Do we know what we’re saying?

Mathematics may be defined as the subject
where we do not know what we are talking about,
neither do we know if what we are saying is true.

Bertrand Russell

I claim myself to be rare in the extent to which I know what I’m talking about;
I also have some awareness of how much I don’t know what I’m talking about!

Related: Incompleteness: More Than One


Make the sergeant understand you:

Unless you carry your own nuclear deterrent: another area where the state monopolies remain unbroken. We now have the concept however thanks to novelist Ken MacLeod.


Two grades earlier:
My first science fiction stories that is, not my first stories. They’d been composed earlier yet.


Jesus’s “Thirties”:

Everyone has heard that Jesus was around thirty when he began his mission and around thirty-three when he got crucified, no? Everyone also understands, do they not, that those are guesses and also that they are symbolic figures, no? Like “a million dollars,” like “forty days and forty nights”? It means he was an adult. It means he was in the prime of life; neither a kid nor an old man.

Everyone also understands, do they not, that “forty” in the bible meant “a big number.”

“Twelve” of course was a key mystic number: the base of the counting system for Babylonian astrology. (Did the Jews have “twelve” tribes before they were pissed off and malcontent in kleptocratic Babylon?


2013 08 04 My penetrations, my babble on understanding got put in more than one K. location. Over the years redundancies accumulate, difficult to edit, especially for the guy the fed keeps drowning in the toilet. Dups are inefficient, silence is fatal. I aim for streamlining but build a creaky caboose.
This work is never done.

the saved cannot possibly communicate with the damned, for one thing because the damned are in charge, both of church and state, and, partly therefore, the damned always believe they ARE saved: they own the Church, they run the US … the ARE the 3rd Reich …
but for another the damned routinely sabotage messages from the underclasses (which routinely include the saved).

Here’s the “original”: then I’ll throw source files away, then dedup.

Society & Understanding keywords understanding”/> Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Social Understanding /

Society & Understanding

Meaningful communication is simply not possible across epistemologies differing in too many basics, I just wrote in my Experts Scrapbook, talking again about cannibals and missionaries, my recently adapted symbols for groups with incompatible understandings.

Yesterday I started reworking my Understanding module in my Thinking Tools section, dedicating a new sub-folder to the subject. Correspondingly, I open a new sub-folder here in the Social Epistemology section of my Society grouping: understanding / misunderstanding, with the social elements emphasized.

As usual, some prose wove itself first, me attending; then I think of a more meaningful way to organize and display it, the prose already not fitting very well: a microcosm of life, can’t be helped.

As usual, I’ll just blab, scrapbook file, hoping to make the time to reweave it all as though I’d thought everything out first, before writing a line. Oh, how polish lies.

A Christian may say that God, the centralized power of Western human kleptocracy, became man — Jesus — in order to understand us, to walk a mile in our shoes. OK. Now, from our standpoint, shouldn’t we become God, walk a mile in his shoes, before we deign to talk about God?

Human beings talk. That’s what we do. That more than anything makes us what we are. pk for example: talk, talk, talk. But do we know what we’re talking about? Do we know what we’re saying?

Mathematics may be defined as the subject where we do not know what we are talking about, neither do we know if what we are saying is true. Bertrand Russell

I claim myself to be rare in the extent to which I know what I’m talking about; I also have some awareness of how much I don’t know what I’m talking about!

Social Epistemology

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
This entry was posted in pk Teaching, social epistemology, society. Bookmark the permalink.

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