Interesting Times

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains:
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology /

“May you live in interesting times.” I understand that that translates an ancient Chinese curse: you want to be happy? live in boring times.

I don’t know that any human times have ever been more interesting than these right now. And I’m far more happy than not.

Not that I trust or respect happiness (as a goal).

Beware the subjectivity of the qualifier interesting. Good science writer Nigel Calder made jokes about how boring the era of blue-green algae was; good science writer Denis Wood delves the importance, the complexity, of blue-green algae: a keystone in our biosphere. Interest is more in the thinker than in the subject. [Imagine the macroinformation in a mystic contemplating a single datum: and experiencing an ecstasy of interest (a plethora of information being in the thinker to start with). Compare it with the paucity of macroinformation in Dim falling asleep in the Kieslowski film (or the Kurosawa film … or the Warhol film) …]

I find my own changes of view, changes of valuation to be endlessly fascinating.

Still, in simple, I idealize times when certain present complexities weren’t present. I idealize sharing; hate modern (manipulated) markets. Was there ever really a time when people shared? Relative to now? for sure.

Would “I” have been happier living in a small tribe? Forty thousand years ago? Just because I don’t fit into anything today doesn’t mean I would have fit with a different time line. I might well have been a BigEnder wanting to lynch a LittleEnder: and so might anyone: raised in a different environment. (Realize though: time has brought BigEnders into closer proximity with LittleEnders: spawned them from each other. Once upon a time you had to walk more than a couple of feet to encounter an enemy (or a prospective mate).

But “I,” the I that’s me now, is more interested in being interested than in being happy. I’m happy when I’m interested. And there’s no good reason to assume that I would have been interested in being interested had I been born among the Onlywes.

We imagine different circumstances; but actually we’re WhereWhenWhat we are. And WhereWhenWhat changes from nanosecond to nanosecond.

Change has changed.
Neil Postman

Now: scrapbook style:

A couple of places I’ve cited the point that the “same” atom of oxygen in your lungs right now was once in the lungs of Jesus … and had been in the lungs of … a lung fish. Last night I read Denis Wood refer to that same point (phrased with different examples), attributing it to a Disney movie. I think I first read it in Isaac Asimov: one of those guys. (Who was “first”? Disney? or “Asimov”?) At that time Wood had me applauding his comparison of convection currents in the atmosphere with convection currents in the hydrosphere, with convection currents in the planet’s lithosphere. So ask this: the carbon atom in your tibia: where else has it been? How long ago? How many carbon atoms have I had in common with our mother Eve? with Jesus? Have any of my carbon atoms ever been in Mount Everest? in the Mariana Trench? in the Pleiades?

Pleiades
thanx Pleiade

We’re on our way to extinction? Fascinating. (We’re not quite so hell-bent on our way to extinction? Also fascinating.)

We’re on our way to hell? That’s some drama! The more so if hell is just some macroinformational construct of our imaginations.

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.
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