19-02-10

De la ressemblance des enfants aux pères

"Et ne fut jamais au monde deux opinions pareilles, non plus que deux poils ou deux grains. Leur plus universelle qualoté, c'est la diversité." Michel de Montaigne, Essais II, chapitre XXXVII, p. 569, Gallimard, 1965.

(amateuristic English translation below)


Back to basics ;-)

One of the remaining problems with modern culture is that we're thinking in terms of success. The problem is not so much with the sensation of success. Not at all even - it is an enjoyable sensation and nobody should be cut off from it. No, the problem is that we want to make a snapshot of it. We want to frame it. And point to it lateron in company and demonstrate 'how much success we had'. Because we're afraid nobody will believe it. We're afraid nobody will believe we had any success. At bottom we are damned scared of not believing ourselves we had any success. We despair of times, we know to be always lurking behind the corner, in which we'll only see how pitiful we are. We will try to remember that we had some success; that we're not competely, & utterly, hopeless; but we know there is a chance that we won't believe it ourselves.

And that's why we think in terms of success. Why we quantify our success. Why all of our success is so similar to jealousy. What we know we need (or better what we think we know we need) is a measure of success that can outlast the success itself. That's the problem: we want to compare, we need to quantify and therefore is it incumbent upon us to simplify things in a couple of dimensions (money, recognition, popularity and all of the things that are so characteristic for the phonies).

Simplify and kill the wonderful diversity of ideas. Simplify into a couple of sides until anything has two sides and anybody is on one side or the other.

It is a little bit tragic. It's also quite comical. As we advance we think more thoughts, ideas pop up that were literally unspeakable and unthinkable before; but instead of enjoying the plentiful - we all jump on a couple of shiny objects that give only a little pleasure but that are the elements of the big competition. Not a kind of competition where you enjoy yourself trying to win and where, if you loose, you congratulate him, or her, that defeated you and you have a drink and you discuss what happened and you agree to try again next week; no, the kind of competition where you have to be participating, as a rat in a race, and where you hope that, if you loose, that at least the people you know best also loose because you couldn't face the world in all of the humiliation of having been worse than your peer.

A friend of mind asked me recently what the moral of a story of mine was. I think it was something like what is here above. I think it is Montaignistic. There are enough things out there for everybody to find something that fits. But we lack the confidence for going off & doing it in such a specific way, lastingly (because we start to do it in a specific way but we loose heart quickly). We want to have a kind of 'objective' way to establish that we're doing good. Feeling that we're doing well is not enough; there is to be some externally observable fact that testifies, certifies, qualifies, and accredits the fact that we're doing well. Such that we're driven to a few kinds of things in which everybody can be successful; not realizing that for 99% of the people these few kind of things simply are things for which they have no talent at all.

Maybe it is because I've been reminded recently of the Kierkegaardian absurdity - & maybe I'm rediscovering something that I would have to call 'spirituality' even if I'm going to eternally loathe that term. But the truth is that to feel somewhat successful you cannot be successful in the eyes of others. Only loosers can feel success, as the winners can only feel that they're winners. Or something paradoxical of that style - I know: not convincing but still: if to be regarded as a winner is what is required to be a winner then we're all condemned to make everybody else a looser. I won't have it like that so you can all go fuck yourself in the behind but I'm doing very well, thank you!, even if I know full well that my achievements are mediocre at best.

Peace!


"And there never were in the world two opinions that were similar, not more than two hairs or two grains. Their most universal quality, is there diversity."

(the two hairs and two grains stuff you'll have to google together with "Cicero")


Whilst writing this I was listening to Keith Jarrett, Paris/London Testament, EMI.

19:04 Gepost door Guido Nius in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, decadence, tones, competition, universals |  Facebook |

11-02-10

The Auguries of Science

"The very notion of truth is a culturally given direction, a part of the pervasive nostalgia for an earlier certainty. The very idea of a universal stability, an eternal firmness of principle out there that can be sought for through the world as might an Arthurian knight for the Grail, is, in the morphology of history, a direct outgrowth of the search for lost gods in the first two millennia after the decline of the bicameral mind." Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind., Mariner Books, 1990, p. 446.


There you have it in one quote: all of the beauty and most of the folly of one of the most original thinkers of the XXth century - a scientist that mistook his philosopizing for hypothesis. A thinker lost in the Quine-Duhem-Davidson triangle of changing too much concepts at the same time to be taken seriously by anybody because - in the end - everybody has one concept that is so near & dear to her or his heart that it's a little bit too holy to be touched.

One example being: the naïve concept of truth. The type of truth that settles things, once and for all. The kind of truth that discovers essentialia, in what for some is just a depressingly absurd sequence of events otherwise.

His bold conjecture was this. Consciousness evolved slowly and after man genetically was already a long time more or less the homo sapiens it still is today. Before those conscious times humans that were genetically quasi-identical to us roamed around - in blissful ignorance of the fact they existed. First these people evolved language, & in that language they heard what they denoted as 'the voice of God' giving, literally, commands. Not merely more or less as a schizophrenic would hear voices giving her commands. No, exactly like a schizophrenic would hear voices giving him commands.

Jaynes held that for the majority of the history of the species our predecessors were roaming the world whilst all of them in a never-ending psychotic episode in which God personally told them what to do. What they were hearing in fact were verbally coded and transmitted traditions making up their culture and connecting the lessons learnt by the forefathers with the survival strategies of the group to which they belonged.

This conjecture is of an originality and a beauty that receives better than the scorn it got (up to a point that the original friends, like Dennett, dare no longer speak "that" name again). Nevermind that scientifically he overreached, stumbling upon hilarious self-defeating 'truths'. Nevermind that he failed to appreciate what philosophers had only appreciated in the 2nd half of the XXth century: the relativity of relativity, and a final destruction of the absolutes of even falsifiability.

Nevermind all that and think about it.

Think about how giving up certainties opens up possibilities - the possibility of all of us having developed consciousness up to the level of almost being all of the time in a state of collective neurosis. And the possibility of also overcoming this by evolving into a better state of collective consciousness. A state where we give up on mutual & mutually incompatible Holy Grails. A state where we just live life knowing the past is: as good as it could have been. Knowing that the future will be: better.

Even ridicule will not be able to destroy originality of thought.


Whislt writing this I was listening to Bill Frisell, Disfarmer, Nonesuch.

21:44 Gepost door Guido Nius in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (15) | Tags: jaynes, scientism, language, mind-mind dualism, optimism |  Facebook |

24-01-10

It was full of phonies

"It was full of phonies. And mean guys. You never saw so many mean guys in your life. For instande, if you were having a bull session in somebody's room, and somebody wanted to come in, nobody'd let them in if they were some dopey, pimply guy. Everybody was always locking their door whens somebody wanted to come in." J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, p. 174, Penguin Books, 1958.

"(..) And besides (..)"

"How would you know you weren't being a phoney? The trouble is, you wouldn't." ibid. p. 179.


Digression!

I'm too old for it now. I guess I grew out of it. Or thought I grew out of it. But did I? Apparently not or I wouldn't be quoting it. No, ít grew out of me maybe. Forgot it, or suppressed it. Maybe I was a phoney all along and these quotes the kind of thing a phoney sympathizes with. In order to shield himself in his own thoughts: from being a phoney. Yeah, maybe I forgot it - moved on without the need to look back on the times where people were constantly locking their doors. Cliques. Moved on to locking my doors. People are awful. My clique is small. Is there a small too small for it to be a clique? My clique doesn't include awful people - Is my opinion. I don't lock my door so much as I disincentivize awful people to come in.

No, I'm not a phoney. I may be dopey. Or pimply. Or unintelligible. Or inaudible but not phoney. My clique isn't a clique. Everybody can come in. Nobody wants to though it being so unexclusive and all.

The thing is: you do kinda know. You know because you're not saving lives. At least you are not thinking you're saving lives. Just running around trying to mind your own business. Better: trying not to make to much business out of your own business. Not out of humility or anything either. Just so strange people are not attracted to makin' it into some kind of club. No you're not a phoney if you don't like clubs and if you're able to ask yourself the question: "How do I know I really don't like clubs?"

The other thing is: it's easy to become a phoney. Dopey people become phoneys all the time. Pimply people too. & People that are told they can't be understood. It's so easy to become a phoney. 'Cause you always wanted to get in that bloody door. And that's why they kept on locking it on ya. Coz you always wanted to come in uninvited & all. You see: that kinda seals it as so very depressing. I always wanted to come in and I still want to get in. Even if I know I'm uninvited. Not welcome and that nobody, really nobody, wants to listen to me.

It's easy to become a phoney. More than half of the internet is dedicated to creating a second chance for dopey people to become phonies. It's called social networking & it's dedicated to creating the opportunity to lock virtual doors. People are really good as it too - especially those that were phonies to start with. They really rock at all this social networking stuff. They really do. They can let you know their doors are locked; even if you didn't much care to come in ;-) 

But I still like people. I do. I'm a cultural optimist. Always was. Even with all of these phonies and all, people are likeable if given a chance. Even the phonies. It's just we don't give a lot of chances. We can't really - not enough time to socially network with all of them. So we have to pick our phonies and our dopeys and stuff. We're getting better at it. Lots better. The internet helps. Makes it easier to find our own room, to have a bull session in or something. Easier also to go from one room to the next, & not carrying the label of the rooms you've been in. That certainly helps a lot. Maybe as an optimist one could say: maybe it helps enough to get rid of labels alltogether (at least in the non-amusing sense of cliques and clubs).


Whilst writing this I was listening to Richard Galliano, Luz Negra.

 

15:11 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: identity, salinger, optimism, friendship, competition |  Facebook |