05-10-08

Everything counts in large amounts

"It's a competitive world
Everything counts in large amounts

The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
Everything counts in large amounts"

Depeche Mode, The Best Of Depeche Mode, Disc 1.


Faced with complex issues we try to find complex solutions. Administrations of most dinosauric dimensions are engaged to tackle, tune & tweak the complexities. Heads of those administrations, whether private or public, achieve heroic status, and adopt appropriately heroic characteristics. Like Alexander the Greath they strive to build an empire that can last forever, like Hercules - & with self-acclaimed Herculean efforts -they stand the most extreme tests of character. Complexity breeds grand nobility.

The error is made before the heroism comes in (heroic behaviour is symptomatic in all cases of an earlier error). Presently, the error lies in allowing complexity to arise, allowing the problem to become a 'big' problem. 'Thinking big' is nothing else than  enlightenment gone wild. Individual liberty as universal goal gets transferred to the quantities associated to that individual, in our present case: to money, to capital, & that liberty of capital cannot but take over from individual liberty. In capital terms - everything counts, but only in large amounts. Money to exchange becomes capital, capital grows and requires more & more complex structures in which it can keep on growing. Individual liberty is progressively lost in these structures & people reduced to supporting those structures that keep capital flowing & growing.

The solution is not, as some would have it, to think small. Capital structures aren't important enough to determine how we should think, that's exactly where the error is: thinking in terms of production, labour and growth, or absence of growth. We're productive and we cannot help creating - that's how we are - we just need to create instead of becoming bigger & winding up as helpless as a wounded dinosaur. It's a good thing that we're globalized because it means new ideas find more brains that can work from them to create even better ideas. Growth is good as long as it leads to an improved connection between the artist and his/her audience. Beyond that, & we're mostly beyond that, growth is like gravitation: some is needed - too much is, simply, destructive. Size is an enabler, not an objective, not even an implicit goal.

We need to realize that we need competition to stimulate creation. Competition ís an intrinsic good because it is a necessary aspect of dynamic progress. Growth can be competition's worst enemy because once things are too big - they tend to stifle any meaningful competition. Competing to become the biggest is no competition, meaningful competition is about becoming better & becoming better inevitably is a matter of becoming different. Not just inventing but re-inventing oneself. We must endure a certain size - as we must endure gravitation - to be able to be in optimal contact with as many others but anything bigger than the minimum needs to be, in short, cut in manageable pieces if we want to avoid that the pieces manage us - as they do at the moment I write this.


Whilst writing this I was listening to (surprise!) The Best of Depeche Mode, Volumes 1 & 2.

21:10 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: friendship, learning, pop culture, competition |  Facebook |

09-09-08

De la gloire

"Toute la gloire que je prétends de ma vie, c'est de l'avoir vécue tranquille: tranquille non selon Métrodore, ou Arcésilas, ou Aristippe, mais selon moi. Puisque la philosophie n'a su trouver aucune voie pour la tranquillité qui fût bonne en commun, que chacun la cherche en son particulier!" Montaigne, Essais II, Gallimard 1965, chapitre XVI, p. 375.

(amateuristic English translation below)


Strange self-referring quote. Do I mean that I live my life according to Montaigne in trying to live it in my own way? Maybe so. Maybe the lack of Caesar's or Alexander's fame - or even Britney Spears' fame - bothers me to the extent that I need to seek refuge in a coincidental sentence by Montaigne. It is in any case certain that reading about how luck brings some to fame whilst others have the bad luck to be frustrated in their projects brings an immediate sigh of 'That's me! & Wasn't Kant nearly death by the time he got noticed?'

I admit in this self-indulgence, but I do not admit that it's a bad thing. I do not buy the 'if you work hard enough, you'll be successful'-sham. With some qualifications I can go in for the reverse conditional. I thought about qualifying success but that's a qualification I need to drop. When you have success you have created reverberation in others, whether that impact is of the high-falutin' sort or not is a small-town high-culture irrelevance. Who cares about who judges success? Success is not a quality, it is most definitely a quantity that can be measured. Sure, it can be measured in lots of different ways but it always is a matter of measurement - not of judgment by jury consisting of 'qualified assesors'. (I would venture to make a bold statement - that success is like weight, you can measure it in different ways but the heaviest - most successful - items will always get the biggest measure - but that's not for here, it'll need something like a referral rating on publications)

So the only qualification that remains is that 'to work hard enough' doesn't mean at all that you have worked hard. The stress you put yourself in, or that you have been put in by the occasion, is as irrelevant as the appraisal of the happy few. If you are successful you have worked hard enough in the sense that you ought'nt have worked any harder than you actually did. Much good would come from thorough, widespread understanding of this qualification. For one, it would finally break the spine of those doctrines of overstressing anything in sight for more quantitative output per person, the cases in point being religions. Yes, you have to work. No, you needn't work hard. You just need to work hard enough. (On this I will only have worked an hour but - if it turns out to be of influence - maybe it's the only hour I actually worked hard enough - if you are getting my drift.)

So success can be quantified, the amount of hard enough work can't; such is the big triumph of creative talent over uninspired reproduction!

Finally (this wasn't going to be long but Michel is really, really great you know), when you have no success this does not imply you haven't worked hard enough - you may well have had tough luck & no breaks, only brakes. So Michel is right, whether or not it indulges our sense of achievement in the absence of success, take pride in a road you have taken, if it so happens that you took it to your own personal contentment & fulfillment.


"All the glory that I pretend to have from my life, is to have lived it tranquilly: tranquil not following Metrodorus, or Arcesilas, or Aristippus, but following myself. Since philosophy has not been able to find any road to tranquility in common, let everybody find it for his specific situation."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Orquesta Del Desierto, Orquesta Del Desierto, 2002, Meteor City.

23:04 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, decadence, imagination, tones |  Facebook |

17-02-08

De l'utile et de l'honnête

"La voie de la vérité est une et simple, celle du profit particulier et de la commodité des affaires qu'on a en charge, double, inégale et fortuite."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais Livre III (Flammarion 1969), Chapitre I, p. 34.

(amateuristic English translation below)


As complex as the notion of truth may be, walking the way of truth is felt by all as something immediate. It is, basically, what it is to be 'authentic'. Other than all other basic feelings, instincts or emotions this feeling however has a basis in reason, it is the instinct proper to reason.
There is no contradiction between utility and intellectual honesty. What we're being led to believe - it is a specifically postmodern fallacy - is that the goal & purpose needs to be fixed and kept stable. "Put yourself a target and stick to it", is the contemporary political concensus. Honesty is considered relative to such targets being set. Necessarily, the useful is dissociated from the targets & is relative to what is achievable in an imperfect world where other people's targets have, not yet, disappeared. Honesty is emotion whilst usefulness is a bit of reason that is still needed - that we need to bear with in the meantime. Reason is not very popular these days on the public forum, nor is truth, so let alone you will find many supporters of the way of truth.
But there is no contradiction between intellectual utility & honesty. Both are a product of social interaction as based on reason. It is not reasonable to "fix a target and stick to it", at least not unconditionally, circumstances change with it changing the reasonable targets. Honesty is not relative to anything else - it is not relative to personal gain nor is it relative to anything else, even if it's couched in more abstract terms (it is not even apparent that putting targets on less personal level are better by way of the way of truth). Utility is naught else than creating the circumstances that are useful to allowing everyone to be honest. Fixed targets set up-front & competing do-or-die conflict head-on with individual honesty. It is the fixity of targets that creates a circumstantial reality in which one has to calculate utility in view of anything else than what induces the most room for individual honesty.
Nature nor natural law, if anything of the sort would exist, lead of themselves to such a state. It is through reason and walking the sumple way of truth we have been able to create a context in which honesty is not reserved only for a happy few such as Michel de Montaigne. The current stubbornness in fixing targets & then executing on the useful to improve the relative weight of one's own target with respect to that of others is an outright crime against reason, and crimes against reason are always starting points of genocide. There is no harm in considering targets & using reason to plot out potential paths toward it, as long as the target can be reviewed on the basis of the processes of our reason.
In short, we should not be mesmerized by the content of our claims. That's at least to some extent always purely accidental. Our worry as rational creature is to be whether our way withstands the formal tests of reason. The latter, & never mind relativist & perspectivist conservatives, is universal & stable even if it does not indulge our immediate emotional appetite for security (in content being spelled out by ancient or contemporary revelations). Many people think it is too much to ask everyday humans to postpone indulging their appetites, but they forget that the way of truth also indulges an immediate appetite i.e. that of reason. Many people will feel that living without fixed sense of stable purpose society or citizens will turn decadent and here they are right: people wíll turn decadent, no longer fighting against other people's targets but only focused on their own well-being through honesty.


On Utility and Honesty

"The way of truth is one and simple, that of personal gain and the good of the business one is in charge of, double, uneven and accidental."

 

13:46 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, decadence, intention, form-content |  Facebook |