/ Journal /
1985 – 1997
|Id Intros||Scant Tech Style
law & order: the protecting of the successful thefts of the past from unauthorized predations in the present.
Richard Feynman climaxes his essay on atomic theory with a statement about the strides the life sciences made once they established a chemical basis: look for some of the things that atoms, molecules, and combinations of atoms and molecules can do. Hello fellow complex batch of atoms. A seemingly strong stand against the spiritual, synergistic, gestalt view I’ve always preferred. But in Feynman’s mouth I don’t see them as contradictory. The history of ideas is a history of false conflicts: gradualism vs. catastrophe; tastes great/ less filling; divine plan vs accident, free will vs predetermination. Better understood, accident comes strongly to resemble divine plan. There’s more mind in evolution than in creation, not less.
But it never seems so to the programmed warriors whose knees jerk at any hint of the enemy idea.
Bucky Fuller talked about watching, say, lemmings doing this and doing that until you’re feeling pretty familiar with lemming behavior. Then all of a sudden they form completely unpredicted group behavior: mating rituals, running into the sea … You can to keep watching even after you think you know what’s what. But then with a synergistic approach, knowing about the sea runs and the mating behavior, and knowing that you don’t know what else you may be missing, you nevertheless know more than you did, have a view from more dimensions, and can make more sophisticated predictions. The early atomists could make predictions, but not very sophisticated ones. Now though, after a century of double descriptions, chemists have a far more profound idea of the behaviors implicit in a hydrogen atom … They haven’t quite brought it up to things that we know atoms do do, like make unibomers and Republican conventions. But now the synergies are more implicit in the single atom.
The whole is equal to more than the sum of its parts is true only when you don’t really have right measure of the parts, their synergies, the whole of what’s implicit in them. We know only parts of parts.
Or maybe not. Maybe there are synergies that aren’t implicit in the atoms. But it’s a good cybernetic change of balance for a better walk. Maybe at a future step we’ll have to change back.
I’ve long understood truth to be a difficult and dangerous idea, but a reason struck me with fresh clarity. Facts and theories are of different logical types that don’t mix. But “truth” is ambiguous between them.
I rethink and revise a metaphor now seen to be inappropriate: 4 something AM. I awake with a self-defeating certainty that I won’t slip right back to sleep this time. Oh well, I’ll read some more, having been at Moravia’s The Lie till 1AM. Reach back turn on the light, put on my glasses, and … need to take a moment to focus my eyes. Thinking in words. Cliché slips in like a dream. But then I dream semantics, etymology, and epistemology. As close to instantly as thinking gets I think: no, wait: it’s not the eyes that need a moment to focus; it’s the visual cortex that needs a moment to synchronize. Hours later the reformulation recurs: no, more precisely, the eyes, the visual cortex, and the rest of the cortex have to boot up. Pretty fast boot, ’cause I was reading just fine within a few seconds: extensions, control panels, everything running pretty damn quick.
political hypocrisy. link in letter to Magnificent Randy. religious hypocrisy is too familiar to need comment; what’s ubiquitous but invisible to us is our political hypocrisy. But then of course the state has become and IS our religion: taken on faith, not evidence, etc
freedom of religion is sort of like saying that one superstition is as good or bad as another. If religion is thought to have anything to do with truth, and truth is thought to have anything to do with evidence, evidence sifted through known, reasonable procedures and examinations, then freedom of worship is sort of like putting Creationism on a level with Evolution, phrenology with anatomy, astrology with astronomy …
our systems suffer from systemic wrongness. When we go down, it won’t be by Marxism or armed revolution but by simple Darwinism.
Nine and a half, ten thousand years ago, a half dozen civilizations developed, independently: wheat based civilization, the only one we “Westerners” know, talk, or care much about, bean based civilization, rice based, corn based … I think amaranth came latter, or branched off from the corn. I too will use the wheat based for example. Slowly, the wheat growers learned to †separate the wheat from the chaff. The gains would have been neither universal nor consistent. I’ll bet there still a lot of waste today, maybe more than say in ancient Egypt. This village did beter than that village, this farmer better than that. Maybe the grandson did worse than the grandfather, maybe the great grandson better than either.
Simultaneously, as Frazer and Freud review, there would have been a winnowing of core superstition from the bedlam of taboos. Somewhere, well hidden, would have been a kernel or two of science: actual technique, near knowledge.
I don’t doubt for a second that a half-dozen gods are less pathalogical or at least, less humanly confusing, than a plenitude, and that one god is simpler still.
We live at what looks like the end of an era of belief in progress. Jewish mythology is about regress, paradise followed by fall, with a sort of a progress nested within it: covenants, the sense of being “chosen,” and a messiah. Christianity runs the latter into a pathetic triumph, militaristic as well as spiritual. Yeah, we’re bad, but our superstition is gonna trample on your superstition. Pretend to believe a lot of hog wash and you’ve got the big magician where you want him: by the short hairs.
Copernicus-Darwin-Freud sent our infantilism reeling and yet it seems immortal. Now the see UFOs and the virgin in a Tampa window. Darwinians in the majority still found us to be the culmination, the apex of a directional if not directed evolution. And so have I for much of my life. I too am a child of my times, at least in part.
In the meantime, some of us became better and better at getting closer to, if not seizing, the kernels. We call it science.
I am sure that Science as an institution is just another superstition, but within it, as within the taboos, actual science sometimes dwells. (And sometimes without it.)
Do I think that your average 20th-cen man is less deceived than your average late ice-age man? No. Do I think that some 20th-cen individuals are less deceived than some late ice-agers? Yes, I think that some 20th-cen individuals are less deceived than any late ice-agers. But that could easily be a vanity.
It’s hard to tell when we can easily measure the strength of contemporary social-reality; and can only guesstimate the strength of ice-age social-reality.
But progress there has been, if only because the tools of thought that expose self-deception are published, at least for the time being, through all the extant civilizations. Not only might some individual in culture X be as smart as Newton, but that individual might also stumble on known methods of sifting experience against theory (and theory against experience). What would Newton have done if he had known of Popper? Yes, he might have become a cobbler.
I see progress (defined and objectively reviewable) in the winnowing of astronomy from astrology, of chemistry from alchemy, in the separation of philosophy from theology, and the further fractioning of epistemolgy from philosophy … Wait, what about the simplicty of one god?
What I wish we would do today is rigorously, formally, pursue those †fractions throughout the soft-sciences and on into the ahem, Humantities.*
Take, for example, economics. I see it as more akin to medieval theology than to science.
*Relate all this to my distinction above (thank you, Dr K) of the god of order from the god of magic. Another winnowing. Perhaps THE key winnowing. Now: distinguish the government of organization: post office, walkway and road builder … and the government of making the sun rise, the crops grow, the economy flourish: the government of “we’re #1.”
and suddenly I’m running out of steam, just as I get to the point I wanted to make, my enthusiam consumed by the introduction. Comme toujours. oh well, just jot some of your metaphors:
a couple of wasps studying how to get more golden eggs before actually killing the goose. ok, so now there are a couple of HongKongers and Koreans with their grip in it too. That’s worse, not better.
it separates the saved from the damned, and, that’s nice: wants the damned to be a little less damned. really?
the concept of significant numbers should enter general epistemology. If you have a number 2,157,243 which has an apparent exactness of 7 figures and a number 5,000,000, an approximation, and you wish to calculate with them, you must first determine how many figures in the round number are significant. Then discard the excess significance of the specific number, then calculate. If your 5,000,000 is significant only to the nearest million,then you have a significant number of only 1. Now you may use the appropriate inexactnesses: 2,000,000 & 5,000,000. To keep the 157,243 would yield a misleading, an unwarranted precision.
This principle should be taught to … judges, to journalists …
Ferinstance: OJ’s linen is being laundered in public. That’s wrong. Unless all laundry will now be laundered in public. There’s no significance to his being a wife beater unless it can be proved that the judge and jury are not wife beaters. We know OJ to seven significant figures but reveal ourselves to only one. That’s like playing poker, me with my cards down and you with your cards up.
But we do do that all the time. We know thousands of things about ourselves and nothing about the Martians. We don’t scruple at finding them deficient in most of these regards.
To compare us fairly, we’d have to discard much of our knowledge about ourselves as misleading.
To put me on trail against Norman Mailer you’d either have to find a jury that had never heard of either of us, and never been influenced by either of us (impossible in this culture), or, you’d have to educate the jury to know me as well as Mailer. Meaning you’d have to wait forty years till my stuff had been digested, discussed, quoted, misquoted, reprinted, worshipped, vilified … Or, you’d have to build a time machine and have the trial before anyone had heard of him.
(I’m reminded of Paulos’ museum guard who said the dinosaur was 150,000,009 years old. That’s cause he’d been at the museum for 9 years and had been told the age was 150,000,000 when he arrived.)
PhoneSex spokeswhore says: “Let your inhibitions run wild.” The very next day, there’s a movie about killer bees and the Hollywood “scientist” says, It’s “a chemical called “pheromone.” The way he says it, I guess it should be capitalized.
description vs prescription. Are both unique to hss? It strikes me that prescription is characteristic of immature thought; description, of mature. Some mental primitive might want to cover up animals. The Victorians even covered piano legs. Ooo, tell that primate not to touch his whatsis.
We have little difficulty with the zoologist who says babboon males build harems, female chimps offers their swollen genitals around generally, Lobo wolves mate for life, timber wolves … We can’t we say “hss sometimes mates for life, sometimes passes it around, sometimes …”
No: we have to prescribe: Thou shalt this and shalt not that.
Skeptical Inquirer should look into correspondence or lack thereof between institutions’ behavior and their description of their behavior. What institution could survive a truth-in-advertising inquiry?
I just articulated something to C I’ve had in mind for a decade or so, acutely in the past half a decade, that really ought to be recorded. Now I’ll bet I’ve scribbled at least a word of it here at some point, maybe a full thought. But with no cross referencing through forty-odd 100K files … If only K & I had made the present deal consciously and at the beginning, that’s all I’d have done. I’d have bought a 286 and I’d still be wordprocessing. And we’d still have $60+K. As it is, now we’re both broke, & I have to keep pursuing PIm. Anyway: invaluable metaphor:
Computer software is sold these days with statements about the hardware & systemware minimally necessary to run the software: x chip, y RAM, z free disk space …
Similarly, in college you can’t register to take Subject A 201 without evidence of some competence with Subject A 101.
But in the regular world anyone has the right and feels the freedom to ask almost anyone almost anything without either party having any way of determining whether an answer can both be given and received.
I say almost, the reservation being: few people would ask the President or the Pope the time of day no matter how proximate they happened to be. Oh, he has so many important things to do, I wouldn’t dream of … Once Einstein became a media star, no one would dream, seeing him on the street, of saying, Hey, Albert, what do you mean c is constant? Where do you get these ideas?
Bateson is a teacher with some notion of prerequisite ideas (otherwise, what was Chap 1 of Mind about?) and some notion of the general non-qualification (otherwise, why did he write it? to waste time?)
The next time someone asks me something, even something as seemingly casual as “Well, what brought you to Sebring,” I wish I could first answer, “Give me a minute :” Think, and then come back and say, “With six months preparation time, I could answer you in 600 well-organized, closely-reasoned pages that would take me, oh, thirty months, full-time, to write. Improvising, starting now, would take 1,000 fairly well-reasoned pages, and five years to write them. Actually, I could probably improvise an outline verbally in the next four hours, a short one perhaps in twenty minutes. But to even dream of attempting the short outline, I’d need assurance that you could understand the answer: x IQ, y education (autoD or formal), z disciplined attention (free disk space). I’d accept as an alternative $100,000 refundable bond before venturing the short outline. If you prove not to have understood it, or walk away in the middle, or start whistling at girls, I’ll keep the money. If you succeed in listening and understanding, then I’ll have to figure out if I can afford to finish the answer at my own expense. Or make arrangements for you or the state or posterity or god … to sponsor the effort. Oh, and I’ll happily prove, once there is such an arrangement, that this is minimally necessary. If an objective third party can demonstrate to a qualified-as-objective jury, that I could and should have done it faster or more briefly, I guarantee to cooperate in doing whatever I can to make a full refund.
In the meantime, I insist on my right to recognize that not 1% of the questions I been asked in the last thirty years have been responsibly asked; Furthermore, I see a pattern, a conspiracy (of the assuredly unconscious variety): the ignorant instinctively and unerringly knowing how to protect their status from the incipiently wise: start them going and then walk away. You won’t stop them, but you will make them stumble. You’ll vitiate their vitality for sure. The trouble is: even someone 99.9999% of whose seed is wasted, in the bed sheets, in their hand, in someone’s ass, in someone’s mouth, in someone’s vaginal spermicide, in issuing at an unfertile period … even that someone can have a normal number of offspring, even a maximal number of offspring. Nature makes a lot of whatever it wants to have a chance of success. If there’s too few of me, the fault is in the ecology itself.
“We didn’t come to play, we came to win,” some football player says as he winks at the camera and gently hands the ball off the where the camera’s stomach would be if the camera were a somewhat normal hss. But when they interview Michael Jordan before the 96 finals, he says something to the effect of, “Play your ass off, and see what happens.” The latter statement is sane; the former insane. So much of our culture, nearly all of the most actively publicized part, is insane. But how consciously? We know we’re lying? The football player winks. He hands the ball off not like John Elway: give you a hernia if you’re not in shape and expecting it; but like an alpha male relaxing with his subordinates: the chuck under the chin could be a death blow if he so wished (and you’re on the team only if you don’t flinch or fight back: the alpha male is the alpha male by agreement throughout the four years; he’s not the king of the wood (Diana’s), unable to sleep for having to look over his shoulder.)
And I’m gonna cut through the development I’d intended and skip through to a point that occurs to me only as I think of that horror near Nemi. Civilization, survival of large numbers of hss, depend on our history, our myths, NOT being literally true. The survival of the fittest is really the survival of those mutually imaged as fit. If we really wanted to know who was #1, just start the bloodbath until there’s no one left to cut (or able to inflict another cut.) SuperSunday is an exercise is all cadidates agreeing that they’re not candidates, the strongest male is the one who at 70 couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. Madden’s all team: no active players, no Madden players, no one ever affiliated with CBS? Whis is this shit?
Just like Xity: we’ve chosen our savior; now no one else, no one living, may try to save us. Sit down; watch the pagent; you ain’t the star. The star can’t be the star until he’s dead. Otherwise, how could we control him. God forbid, he might try to control us. God forbid, he might succeed.
also apropos: we teach Shakespeare to children: put a ceiling on their ambitions. Oh, yes, it’s a high ceiling, a very high ceiling, but never the less a ceiling. ditto Homer with the Greeks, Moses with the Jews. I think humans would be the least pathologically human without writing, without history, and with a tradition against remembering any long poems.
early school arranges the environment to exagerate our (very real) helplessness-we’re taught about George Washington, Jesus & Ghadhi; later school arranges the environment to exaggerate our (I suppose) uniqueness-the high school football star gets his picture in the paper before getting hit by Mean Joe Green, the high school or college play star is touted locally like a genuine media star. (Of course, even “genuine” is still parochial (maybe less so now than before since American tv is popular elsewhere): Americans confuse the US with the world (rather they confuse the world (cultural) with the biosphere (planetary), (and the SolSys with the universe, the universe with the cosmos, etc.) The Beetles were famous, Frank Sinatra is famous, Pavorotti is famous … but as famous as Om Kalthoum? My favorite example can’t be communicated to anyone I know because we’ve never heard of her. Still, at least thirty years ago, she was the most famous musician in the (planetary) world. With Ravi I guess second.
Of course school in some way is a necessary invention in a world too big for the individual culture let alone the individual individual. We need to make small ponds within the Everglades, seas within the ocean.
responsibility: this AM in the shower I was remembering Caroline’s bland assurance as she told me that she didn’t feel responsible for slavery. She said it as though “feel responsible” was a satisfactory equivalent of “be responsible.” She wasn’t a racist. She had never been a racist. Growing up in Louisville, “Blacks” (we all now call them) were just the servants. She “never thought anything about it.” Again, unconsiousness offered as of equal value to truth.
As I had plans for the relationship (and she did indeed, invest a little money, not to mention, suck my dick), I didn’t say as much as I would have liked. Obviously, I’d already said more than a dangerous amount. But: it’s Abbot & Costello again. “share and share” alike. Abbot always cons Costello, always cheats him, always under the banner of some admirable slogan. In the next episode, he’s at it again, the counter always reset to zero, never showing: “Abbot is now $255,134.24 ahead, not counting variable interest rates over thirty years.” What I hate most about us isn’t that we say we didn’t personally slaughter the Cherokee: we didn’t (it was done for us); it’s that we keep their land while agreeing that it was wrong to slaugher them.
OK, we didn’t personally enslave, rape, or lynch, but we do drive on the roads built by the labor of the raped … without offering to pay recompense.
this AM just reviewing the history of civilization with C. context was little girl paying her father back for some slight, real or imagined, by howling rape. the cops & courts, of course believe her. the other day, C comes twice into the range of my pirouetting as I cook her a French omlette. For six years, I tell her a thousand times: the kitchen is yours except when I’m cooking for you. & when I’m cooking a French omlette, the whole of which has to be coordinated, into a 30 second climax, then the kitchen is absolutely mine, don’t even cross five feet away. I whirl to get the cheese and bump her arm: she’s standing behind me, her coffee sloshes over the rim into the sink. a thousand times she’s disregarded our agreement, but this is the first time contact has actually been made. I remind her of the pact in no uncertain terms, fortunately missing only a beat and a half in my performance. Ten seconds later, I spin away from the stove, a pound and a half of red iron swirling nearly smoked fat in my left hand … and she’s standing right behind me. I abort the omlette and try to elicit from her some recognition of the obligation of agreements. As always, accused, no matter of what, C is innocent. Somewhere in the next minute or so I grap her wrist so she can’t turn away from me: she must acknowledge responsibility. Feeling the restraint, she does what she always does. (I feel like a gaucho in a Borges knife story, utterly helpless in an ancient, fatal ritual) The neighbors hear her shriek and here come the sheriff’s men. I tell them what happened. They go tell her to get away from me. She tells them I didn’t hurt her, she tells them I never hurt her. The cops don’t believe either of us! Families aren’t allowed to discipline themselves: discipline is for the cops, the army, the courts … Restraint is violence and violence is always wrong. They why are you carrying a gun? Why did you handcuff the n-? [Bowdlerizing K., 2016 08 01, I censor an offensive word and substitute something more obscene: euphemism!] Why are his kidney’s purple where you sticked him?
So I’m telling C about how civ has fashions of who is believed. That n- is screaming: why? I’m castrating him cause he sassed me. Oooo, bad n-, and everybody kicks him in the face. I’m helpless to stop H from taking BK from me. The cops, the courts will stick up for the mother. Of course H will be equally helpless when the cops the courts want to take BK from her. She’s a child molester, a witch, has satanic rituals … Evidence? They never need any evidence; just the prevailing presumptions. father bad; mother good. mother bad; society good.
so I find myself reviewing the history (with necessarily mythic simplicity, quasi-Freud).
First, there’s nature. territory, but no Property. law, but no Law. The lion shits on this square meter of ground. The ants kill and drag off the wounded wasp. The hyena licks its clit. The woman pauses and adjusts her sling. Someone from another group sees it and kills her for it. There’s no crime because there’s no Law. the turf is there for whatever use or non-use anything makes or doesn’t make of it.
Agriculture changes that. The famers have invested time in the crop. Now the cattle and the other groups have to be kept from trampling it. Soon there’s excess food and popultation for the farmers and starvation for the cattle and those who follow them. The famers mutiply; the herders shrink. Or the herders kill the farmers and eat their stores. (they they too die because the herds are kaput. unless they learn to farm) Or the herders kill just enough of the farmers to rule them: Here, you grow the grain while we manage the enterprise: our commission is 90%.
Eventually, the 10%ers find they can gang up on some faction of the 90%ers, getting a deal where a faction of the management gets 60% of 88% while the 10%ers now get 12%.
And so forth into contemporary civilization where management and slaves are mixed, of say something closer to 60/40, and where the government’s primary job is still to make sure that Property remains subtracted from nature, whatever the cost. a subsidiary function is to redistribute the excess wealth. In one era the priests will get it, in another the military, now the males, then the females …
this of course all ties in with female dominance even of a male dominated civilization. again with mythic simplicity: conformity is the female priciple; breaking new trails, the male. The Laps castrate their ahem “wild” reindeer if they show any non-conformist leadership. So the herd is actually more domesticated than wild. Fine, so long as their luck holds out. But when there’s change, chances favor the new trail over the old. So, in the long run, civilization is suicide. Conservative is lunatic. The female, the trustworthy guardian of the status-quo is its executioner. We do good when neither principle wins, but when the war surges back and forth. Cybernetic.
cops and courts weight the war eccentrically. very dangerous.
so we don’t survive? so what? fuck us. did we “deserve” to survive? on what grounds? certainly not intelligent self-interest.
ah, but what about me? what about me. the individual in a social species’ only decent chance is with the group. but what if the group can’t be reformed? then you might as well have been an Al Capone and enjoyed your syphilis the best you could. because there is no salvation except as a group: darwinian; not Xian. (fragmenting into selfish spiders cannot be regarded as salvation for a social species; survival, yes, salvation, no..
it drives me crazy that hypertext publishing, which to me is ideal for tracing meta-levels, is trvialized for such bullshit. EG: my music system, apparently equally incomprehensible to both musicians and philistines: the musicians have learned the old system, it functions for them. who has time? the Philistines don’t know what’s going on. so how do they know if it’s well depicted?
but picture this: a contest is held inviting musicians or mathematicians or anyone to propose a composite graph that would allow a seven + zero number system to be mapped easily onto a 12 base system. Now show a stack of such graphs, the zeros making vertical identities as roots do in/as octaves. Color code them vertically and make the code intuitive and permanent. Say: use the order of light in a rainbow for familiarity. Now, anyone can see that with a little practice, anyone could tell nearly instanty which octave they were looking at even if they see only a fragment.
make the graph analogic to the extent that octave, fifth, third, etc divide evenly as physics but not in any way showable in a ten base number system. Now, there’s no way for the beginner to see the scale as evenly stepped. The difference between minor thirds and major thirds will be visually evident.
(now those differences are emotionally perceptable to most of us, but are not auditorily perceptible except to a trained and talented few) now accidentals show as what they are.
OK, the octaves are color coded. Now chose a different method of visual differenciation for triads from the root and triads not from the root. C major and G7 will have the same color but different saturation, different something. They’ll clearly be first cousins, not twins.
Weird chords could have a halo of color from the octave they come from in the cycle of fifths physical hierarchy. see the overtones, as well as hear/feel them!
Now, transcribe Bach’s 2 part invension #1 into this system. Or some perhaps more familiar piece: something from the Ana Magdalena Notebook, something from Mozart.
Now, hyperpublish it so that long views and closeups can appear in windows on the same page, separately manipulable by the viewer.
Now tell me that any ordinary moron wouldn’t understand music in an hour that Bernstein didn’t understand till an nth year of grad school.
assignment 2: do it all over again for a pentatonic against a 12. Hyperpublish a blues in all three systems. Show them simultaneously in three windows. Blues bands would soon be performing in front of light screens that just showed the hyper-published score. No performance of music would be regarded as difinitive unless accompanied by a profound transcription of the score. Criticism could become objective for the first time. Irrelevant bullshit unless you can show it as an improved hypertranscription.
competing interpretations could compete head to head with everyone in the audience seeing as well as hearing that the substance of the disagreement is.
assignment 3: do it all over again for ragas, etc. there’s no reason to assume that one notation system is adequate for all music systems. Mine, however is a system of systems. PK’s meta-system.
put a new idea on Sh into the Sh ƒ today
†fractional epistemology: see above (1352)
†separate order from transcendental mysticism
we throw disparate things into one basket as an aid to sloppy thinking, rendering clear thinking all the more difficult. Let’s take a familiar bag that gets bigger and bigger all the time: Jesus
a man, a name, the name of a man, the name of a dead man, the name of a famous dead man, a synonym for Jehovah, the first name of a man whose surname is Christ, the only name of a man whose title, according to some, is Christ, a name which can stand as a synecdoche for sayings such as “Blessed are the poor” …
Let’s separate some of these things, acknowledging in advance that more than one distillation could be true, ditto false, ditto fractional :
1. Outside the Xian Bible there is Judaic evidence of a Jesus who was a famous rabbi. Let’s ignore the ambiguity of the word rabbi for the moment. Let’s also go right ahead and give this view a very high probability of being true (in no way limiting what else might also be true).
2. There is similar Judaic evidence of a Jesus who was a great magician. same man? different man? same man at different stages of his career? same man seen differently by friends? same man seen differently by enemies? We can’t here ignore the ambiguity of the word magician, not wisely. Readers of Frazier will see huge areas in common between the concepts of rabbi and magician, god and magician, shaman and magician, con man and magician, conned man and magician … In fact we shouldn’t postpone discussing “rabbi” either: teacher, priest, liason between non-magician and the big magician (the Jews’ Mono-Magician) … Readers of the Bible will immediately recognize the importance of magicians in Canaan/Egypt/Palestine/… Moses and God’s magician versus the magicians of the Pharoah, etc. It must also be recognized that the demonstrations reported in the Bible, sticks turning into snakes, etc. are tricks that can still be seen on the streets of Calcutta. The fakery so routinely being exposed should make any real magician, supposing for a moment there could be such a thing, think twice before doing a miracle: who cares what the boobs think; but you’d be prejudicing the average intelligent person against you. If I could do miracles, I’d conceal them. Let’s tentatively give this view a moderate probabilty of being true, also admitting at once that it could be argued that it’s probabilty were nearly equal to 1’s, or even greater than 1’s. I was brought up with Jesus the Rabbi, called rabbi in the text, so I immediatly favor 1.
Claims made in the Bible:
3. Son of Man
4. Son of God
And claims associated with interpretations of the Bible (admitting at once that there’s no clear line between “made” and “interpreted.”)
5. aspect of triune God
I have no idea how to rate 3,4, … in terms of fractional, probabalistic truth without some clear statement of what they mean. If you can’t interpret it, you can’t rate it (though you can recommend it to the trash).
But I believe I’ve gone far enough for it to be clear: separated and quantified, “Jesus” can be talked about responsibly; with everything undifferentiated in a single basket, it’s a juggernaut without steering or brakes (or liability or insurance).
if you want to speak the truth, it may be necessary to learn (or to invent) a new language.
social ideals such as justice encourage us in the delusion that society has a power that it doesn’t, and perhaps can’t ,have.
trying to tell C:
to distinguish between battling for territory and predation. also, within territoriality, is the battle intra-species or inter-species? Where males battle other males of the same species to control the turf that a harem may be gathered to, strength, courage, honor, etc are in order; where you’re hunting for food, stealth, cunning, duplicity, etc rule. Shooting squirrels and gathering them into a bag has nothing to do with courage or honor. The sensible predator attacks the weak first. First and always the weak.
human warfare is a confusion of all of the above.*
she saw no humor in my example of Jurassic Park vis à vis evolution and learning (which I then compared to martial films since Yojimbo). The dinosauria we pay repeated attention to in that film are all predators: veloceraptors, T. rex … Jurassic Park is populated with men in the prime of life, working as teams with heavy equipment and weaponry plus a couple of unhealthy office types who mostly stay indoors. The island is then visited by a scientist, his grad asst/squeeze, a mathematician, an aged carney whose project JP is, and two children: a boy maybe 8 or 10 and a girl maybe 11 or 12. First a few crewmen get gobbled. then the fat nerd within a few minutes of his venturing outside on his own. The lawyer & the mathematician come next. Meantime, the two children are out all night in the jungle with the scientist. Etc. By the end, everybody’s been gobbled or at least mauled except for the scientist, the grad-squeeze, the old carney, and the two kids. Finally a few predators went after the kids, but didn’t get anywhere. The lion hunters are all dead meat, elephant guns and all; the women, children and old men are fine. So how come we haven’t revised our view of who’s strong and who’s weak. Why don’t we give the macho marines discharges and recruit old farts and prepubes for the military?
For the same reason I guess that the bad guys, when 30 or 40 of them, wielding chains, Uzis, numchuks … surround empty handed Chuck Norris, don’t scream and beg for mercy: in film land, the record is
army of bad guys 0 : unarmed good guy 10,000
but the bad guys seem to think they have the advantage. Wholly without statistical support.
*(a few hours later 48 Hours comes on the tube. Audience sympathy has so much to do with controlled application of those confusions. The bad guys grab whores and hotel clerks as shields against cop bullets.
2/9: Aliens is on. Newt is added as a survivor. originally, it was just the skinny flat girl: SW. So the Darwinian fittest is scrawny and female. I love substitute mom SG going up against the truly fecund mom with a flame thrower. My other favorite themes were much in evidence: 1) they all shoot heavy artilliary at each other while within fragile environments. How many submariners put out their shooters and blast in all directions while submerged? No, they shoot torpedos at other ships, not everybody shoot everybody while on board. How come they don’t explain why they’re all still safe shooting laser amidships in Star Wars? 2) the monster is introduced as striking like lightning with no warning. We spend 4/5 of the picture seeing the outsider as undetectable and irresistable. Then, in the climax, the monster stops attacking and starts posing. The Alien doesn’t hiss and slaver at Bishop, just impales him from long distance; but instead of doing the same to SG, now we have long closeups, a lot of anthropomorphic body language, all bark, no bite.
is hypocrisy necessary in a social species? in an evolving social species? If not necessary, is it unavoidable? If necessary, of, if unavoidable, what damage is done by preaching against it? If it is both unnecessary and avoidable, then what harm is done by failing to win the war against it?
2/13/97 Perry Mason: how could I never have thought of this before this week? I’ve long gotten a kick out of how Hamilton Berger remained the public prosecutor despite his never visibly winning a case, despite his always attacking the wrong person, despite his always being the last one to see that he’s done it again: harassed an honest citizen. And then, we never hear an apology from him. No, he and that cop look at Perry as though it’s his fault that they’re perennially wrong, as though the truth were a trick. I’ve long gotten a kick out of how everyone in the courtroom always turns out to be guilty of a host of crimes: everyone except the accused that is. Not counting Perry and the regular cast, everyone is guilty of something.
But now it strikes me: what about the jury? How come they’re never exposed? For being tampered with? for seeking publishing deals? for lying during the selection? and never ever, for being the actual murderer?
But of course. The jury is like the chorus in a Greek tragedy: always the innocent, helpless victims in a drama in which they participate only as victims of the actions of the protagonists*. And the protagonists are always kings and gods and prophets; never the public. No, the public is never guilty. Oedipus moves us because, like any HSap, he looks out; but, unlike the majority, he winds up seeing in. He has finally an honesty not shared by the group. Nixon was exposed, not the American public.
*There’s a school that maintains that the noun “protagonist” cannot be plural, that there’s only one principal character in a drama. I am obviously not following that school at this moment.
my goal is to find the axis where subjective and objective coincide
Garrison Keillor: everything is done from behind a deadpan mask, a mask witfully crafted to portray exactly the same things as what’s masked
govt is so that the people who opposed a reform can get credit for that reform once they finally yield to the still anonymous promoters, mostly long dead, of that reform
people will help as well as applaud your going for the brass ring; they will neither help nor applaud your merely trying to stay alive so you can work your ass off for their benefit.
Tenure; freedom of speech-why do we have to keep inventing the same thing over and over, and then, still not have it? Not even those with tenure, since the great majority of teachers got it only by straight-jacketing themselves as a part of getting in line for it.
The modern world has split into two new factions that can’t and generally don’t want to mutually communicate: the ordinary and the rational. Needless-to-say, the are no individuals in the latter group who are 100% rational 100% of the time and few individuals if any in the former group who are 0% rational 100% of the time. The difference is in who trusts the faulty reasoning they inherited and who makes an attempt to keep up with the evolution of reason. There is no guild of the latter group whose membership can be trusted merely on the basis of their claiming to be in it. No, each claim to reason has to be probed on its own merits, without regard to the status of the claimant. A Nobel laureate does not speak ex cathedra any more than does any pope or guru.
A fast way to recognize who’s who just occurred to me last night: it involves a paradigm shift that I don’t imagine too many others can yet be aware of. I’ll introduce it by way of an implicit analogy.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet refers to events of the future as behind him; contemporary culture thinks of itself as walking forward, it’s keen primate vision a reliable prophecy, whereas as recently as the Renaissance, a smart young man would think of himself as backing into the unknown future, his awareness on the past, things experienced, things heard, things that can be remembered.
Now. Pay attention. Members of the former group, the ordinary, those who trust familiar fallacies, speak of the truth in metaphors appropriate to an extensional object, a fairly sturdy object, one that can be safely handled and even tossed around a bit without distortion, let alone dissolution. In contrast, that nearly invisible, barely audible minority, who pursue reason the way a virtuoso rehearses scales, think of the truth as neither visible nor graspable, indeed, not a thing at all, but (rather like a sculptor who sees an essence implicit in the marble, keeps chipping away everything that isn’t that essence) speak of truth in metaphors appropriate to a spirit never fully visible, never graspable without utter destruction of its symmetries, and always not fully revealed.
If there is a guild that in any way deserves credit for keeping its reasoning tools in working order and up to date, it’s science. In his basic primer on reasoning, Mind and Nature (1979), Gregory Bateson wrote that science can disprove theories, that science can improve theories, but that science can never prove theories. Further, he discusses Korzybski’s map/territory distinction, simultaneously admitting psychology’s finding that the human brain doesn’t seem to be “wired” to allow individual minds consistent awareness of the distinction between the events in space/time and our symbol systems that we intend represent them. In other words, it is possible for human beans to know that something is not true; it is not possible for us to know what is true.
the above got edited a bit as I published it on the net: 40ess.htm
added before id0 this Tue, Mar 11, 1997:
In the most sceptical heart there lurks at such moments, when the chances of existence are involved, a desire to leave a correct impression of the feelings, like a light by which the action may be seen when personality is gone, gone where no light of investigation can ever reach the truth which every death takes out of the world.
Conrad, Nostromo p 196
Decoud writing to his sister, pausing neither to eat nor drink,
while the revolution is crashing the world about his ears.
WWII ciphering show last night referred to Etoin Shrdlu (if I’m spelling it right). I think they had it slightly different than Hoffstetter. And added: least used letters: JKXQZ. Now, I know how Kodak went about their name; did Jacuzzi do the same? First time I ever thought: ET! Did Spielberg do the same in reverse?
Kojiro & the Truth. My decision that Kurasawa is the greatest of all filmmakers hasn’t wavered since the very early ’70s. (Hell, and in the early ’60s I felt confident that my choice of Fellini was permanent.) It wasn’t long though before I knew that not all Japanese films were Kurasawa. Gates of Hell won an award in the late ’50s. So did Samurai, though I’d missed seeing that one till the ’60s. But both of them, despite Mifune starring in the latter, were Hollywood-does-Walter-Scott in comparison.
Anyway, I loved Samurai, Duel at Ichijo Temple, and Bushido, the Inagaki trilogy, almost as much as I loved Roshomon and The Seven Samurai, despite the pretty but static tablaux and the bullshit philosophy. In fact, at least a couple of scenes from Duel have proved over the decades to have become basic metaphors with me: Mifune’s chopsticks is in my In the Park, and Korjiro’s death is never too long from my thoughts.
Kojiro duels Musashi. Mifune as Musashi shows up with a wooden katana, one he’s just carved on the way over. His wakizashi is in his belt. Hell, don’t forget: Musashi’s pen name was Ni Ten: “Two Heavens”: two swords, Kojiro, two! They duel and duel. They both jump like ninja. Kojiro comes down missing half of his vital organs. Musashi’s drawn the wakizashi when Kijiro couldn’t see it. Loving closeup of his dying angel face. He’s smiling. His smile is beatific. One of revelation. He lived his life for Bushido and he dies enlightened: “Ah, now I know: he’s better than me!”
So how come all the people I’ve encountered, social-realists all, get angry when they hear the truth? (correction: when their fallacies are exposed, and non-fallacies offered as substitutes.)
Man can’t live without nature. Nature, in its instanciation as the biomass of Planet Earth, can’t live with Man. Not normally, not healthily, not with civilized, mechanized, industrialized, atomic man. In fact man has proved to be an enemy of a diverse biomass since the Late Pleistocene Overkill. The choice is simple: either One or Neither of us can survive.
For both to survive (I don’t mean for another century, or for another dozen centuries; I mean indefinitely, until a new catastrophe reshuffles the deck) and flourish, man would have to become a very different cultural pheonomenon, perhaps a different species.
I don’t believe that the latter is a choice we can make, not consciously, not politically, not deliberately. Not without some hard-learning at the hands of a not totally fatal catastrophe.
If we wait for nature to make the choice for us, it’ll be a very different, unrecognizable nature doing the choosing.
I am prepared to believe that this society could not exist in its present condition with its present population, beliefs, security, prosperity, etc. without the present government. I realize that that government protects us from worse societies and worse governments. The trick is: it also prevents us from becoming a better society, with a better organization.