28-08-08

Joe's Garage

"JOE: (somewhat exhausted)
These executives have plooked the fuck out of me
And there's still a long time to go before I've
Paid my debt to society
And all I ever really wanted to do was
Play the guitar 'n bend the string like
Reent-toont-teent-toont-teenooneenoonee
I've got it
I'll be sullen and withdrawn
I'll dwindle off into the twilight realm
Of my own secret thoughts
I'll lay on my back here 'til dawn
In a semi-catatonic state
And dream of guitar notes
That would irritate
An executive kinda guy..."

Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage Acts I, II, III, Act II Scene Fourteen Outside Now.


'Nah, it was funny while it lasted - but it won't be something that endures', say those who go for classical music preferring classical to music. I say: let 'em have the opera created by the classical equivalent of "executive kinda guys". It clearly makes them feel better than the rest of us & if that's what it takes to be rid of them, so be it. Let us enjoy their serious connoiseuring faces whilst watching these pot-pourri's of over-the-topness, this attempt at creating art via the military strategy of shock & awe. Let them listen to music that was composed to achieve the popular effect of fireworks so we can be free to associate creativity with something a tad more original than nudity on stage & in front of a classicial orchestra playing bombastic.

Left to ourselves we opt for a bit of independence in taste and creativity. Sure! - this will last because it has had its knock-on effect. Once the knock-on effect realized, it can't be stopped anymore. We listen to more F. Zappa nowadays than he could ever have imagined &, better still, there are a great many dwindling off into the twilight to think their secret thoughts. There is no need for executives to build palaces of 'OK'-scrutinized music in an attempt to make this music the everlasting classic standard, at least to make it the only serious music such as to allow the easiest identification of serious people i.e. the people in the palaces of 'OK'-scrutinized music.

'But,' so say the ones that sincerely believe people can only be trusted if they buy in to their type of exclusivity, 'modern music is mostly popular music controlled by that type of marketing executive decried by Mr. Zappa.' It is not. Modern music is mostly what is being invented all over the place by semi-catatonic Joe's trying to pay a debt to society in ways allowing them to irritatingly fuck over those bastards that insist on them paying debts to society at the expense of the time they can put into the secret thoughts they love to have. Even the marketing executive music (as if "their" music, the "OK"-scrutinized music did not survive because of publicly funded, or millionaire funded which comes to the same, marketing executives) is not controlled because - in the very worst case - it sparks new Joe's to invent new Joe's that'll blow the stale-mate away. There is after all not the protection of central scrutiny in popular music, less & less at least and that, my dears, is our fight: to break more & more a central scrutiny & leave it go, dynamically as it should.

The combination of independence & mainstream is what makes the case for rational optimism. Independence to be allowed to be original - even if (specifically if) it does annoy the scrutinizing non-motherfuckers trying to control taste into their static, safe status quo. Mainstream to ensure many people get it because what isn't understood doestn't get noticed & therefore doesn't mean a thing. If sufficiently mainstream - it will knock-on & once knocked-on it'll always be there in what it knocked on.

Independent & mainstream, what could possibly be a worse combination for those happy cocksucking few executive kinda guys?


Whilst writing this I was listening to Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage Acts I, II, III  

& Yes, it was great fun to listen on the bus to 'On The Bus' instructing my son to leave his seat to an elderly woman ;-)

14:49 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: decadence, dynamics, pop culture, tones |  Facebook |

16-08-08

Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik

"Die(se) Differenzierung zwischen einem modernen und einem traditionalen Weltverständnis ist nur möglich, wenn konkurrierende Weltauslegungen nicht überhaupt inkomensurabel sind, wenn wir (..) die Übersetzungen von einem Kontext in in den anderen überhaupt zulassen. Genau das bestreitet der starke Kontextualismus. Ihm zufolge gibt es keine 'Rationalität' in der Einzahl. Nach dieser Auffassung wohnen verschiedene Kulturen, Weltbildern, Traditionen oder Lebensformen je besondere 'Rationalitäten' inne. Jede von ihnen soll mit dem Kontext eines besonderen Weltverständnisses intern verschränkt sein." J. Habermas, Erläuterungen zur Diskursethik, suhrkamp taschenbuch (1991), p. 208.

Amateuristic English translation below.


There are those who believe having a 'strong' moral view lies in strongly holding - a great many - moral views to be absolutely true. But nothing can be farther from the truth;  the more moral absolutes sneak into one's position the less one is open to a discussion with others - & the ultimate moral view is that one should be open to this discussion with others. Better & more concise: any moral view is about openness. To other's point of view but also to what might transpire in the future based on facts we do not know yet or on forms of living not discovered yet.

The problem people strongly collecting a great many moral absolutes see in this can be summed up in their exclamationary reply cry 'Moral Relativist!', or, a bit further in the debate 'You're so hopelessly naïve!". The former reply can serve as symptom to diagnose this type of immoral view, named by Rawls 'comprehensive doctrine', as it will be shouted regardless of the adversary merely by virtue of someone being seen as an adversary of one of the many moral absolutes held. When someone accuses you of moral relativism despite the fact you have given examples of situations that can only be seen one way, universally, she/he is on his/her way to radicalize her/his comprehensive doctrine into a stagnant pool of being right regardless of argument. Discussion will cease, pushed sufficiently the argument will become violent.

At that time, more or less, the insult of naïveté will be thrown in the arena. After all, if discussion has to go on, "what defense against totalitarianism or fundamentalism remains?" Here is a fundamental error: it is not because the potential for discussion is seen as the highest value that there are only cases in which discussion is the only possible response. This is obvious: if the other refuses to discuss (either literally or de facto, by reverting to rhetoric devices) there is no discussion & hence the answer cannot be to discuss. Whether the answer is violence is another matter alltogether - but one thing is clear: it can be violence if violence is the only way to restore value, i.e. open discussion.

In a nuclear metaphor: first strike is illegal but retaliation a no-brainer. It is a main characteristic of moral absolutists to buy into the right of first strike when facing the assumed moral adversary. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that fulfills itself as well for those who vehemently (& rightly so) oppose the notion of prophecy.

So yes, there is a moral absolute or better, a moral universal: rational discussion - we should not be tricked by the fact its discovery is relatively recent & hence it's not yet very widespread or well understood by many to believe it's naïve to restrict moral truth to discussion as the highest value. In fact, the opposite can only lead to moral relativism because it will presuppose that sometimes the value of debate is trumped by geographically and/or historically coincidental rationalities.

The convergence between linguistic philosophy (Davidson et al.) and moral/political philosophy (Rawls, Habermas, et al.) is where we can discover new creative ground - as is clear from the recent future, rational discussion may seem naïve but has rather a lot of force in overcoming coincidental roadblocks. The reason is simple: to live as a human is to talk with other humans - & to talk with other humans lis only possible in triangulating what they intend.

(to be improved, a lot)


"This distinction between a modern and a traditional world view is only then possible, when competing interpretations of the world are not simply incompatible, (..) when we admit at all translations from one context into another. That's precisely what strong contextualism denies. Following strong contextualism there is no 'rationality' in singular. According to this point of view different 'rationalitues' are inherent in different cultures, conceptions of the world, traditions or life forms. Each of these would be inherently locked up in the context of a specific world view."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Beethoven, Piano Sonatas (complete), Friedrich Gulda, Brilliant Classics - "Pastoral" & "Sturm".

21:06 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: language, habermas, convergence, universals |  Facebook |

03-08-08

On the Principle of Population

"(..) and I thought that I should not do justice to the subject, and bring it fairly under discussion, if I refused to consider any of the consequences which appeared necessary to flow from it, whatever these consequences might be. By pursuing this plan, however, I am aware that I have opened a door to many objections and, probably, to much severity of criticism: but I console myself with the reflection that even the errors into which I may have fallen, by affording a handle to argument, and an additional excitement to examination, may be subservient to the important end, of bringing a subject so nearly connected with the happiness of society into more general notice." Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Cambridge University Press (1992) Preface, p.9.


He's probably thé heretic of woolly thinking. Charity increases misery. Helping out is often a matter of patronizing. There is a necessary tendency to overpopulation, and overpopulation is always an issue of the poor. The poor stay poor - because the rich need an excess of poverty. Social security leads to social insecurity. Just a couple of things in the line of - I do not claim they're Malthus' point of view nor even that they can all be based on his findings - woolly thinking heresy.
It is unfortunate that, based on anecdotal evidence, a figure and work like that is all but cut out of the rational tradition. Malthus was hugely influential. He predates men like Darwin & Bergson in showing the huge raw power of the tendencies of nature. He predates much modern moral thinking in pinpointing the differences between what is to happen regardless & what can happen based on rational human intervention. It is obvious that much of his work is outdated - that is true across the board for all early Enlightenment science. But be that as it may, the quote shows that - unlike much of the contemporary wooly babble, specifically in politics - he did attempt science.
He was right, attempting to be so scientific was his Achilles' heel. If he had "confined (him)self merely to general views, (..) the work (..) would probably have had a much more masterly air" (ibid.) who knows? It might have been taken as a left wing bible, calling on people to free themselves from patronage ;-) It is an intellectual crime to use erroneous predictions against somebody predicting them in order to find out the value of his hypothesis. But this is exactly what has been done here. "Birth rates are lowering because of social security." - "There are excesses of means of subsistence in the West & they do not give rise to increasing birth rates." - ... All of this is true & surely this is because social security has come after education - because the West is characterized by highly individualized moral agents taking responsibility for their own reproduction rather than relying on revelation or custom - ...
The point is that now modern economist have rediscovered scarcity of natural supply - whether oil, oxygen or food - we have to rediscover the work of the main man, the man that first made this link between nature & nature´s trend to evolve towards the limits of nature's means. There is a lot in Malthus that deserves attention in modern day: mainly that simple woolly reflex response to dabble around with consequences of scarcity are not on, for the simple reason that tendencies in nature cannot be met by opposition. Avoiding nature to run into its own limits (better: into the limits where intelligent human life is no longer sustainable) requires smarter responses, requires really moral responses like avoiding the pursuit of always-later-death, avoiding that we feel obliged to be quantitatively successful, increasing scientific investigation that is focused on coming to terms with unavoidable, & sometimes whimsical changes in nature, ...
In any case we will not solve it by denying our own human nature in striving for our individual independence & access to independent thought. Nevertheless, this is the popular leftwing solution of 'back to the roots'. Make no mistake about this: 'back to the roots' will mean that the reality of Malthus' examples becomes accutely modern again ;-(


Whilst writing this I was listening (to my increasing disappointment) to Edvard Grieg, Peer Gynt Suites ETC., Chandos Digital.

13:05 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: malthus, dynamics, competition, universals |  Facebook |