It’s the unconscious assumptions we make and hold with out thought that make us bigots, sexist, racist, and other forms of bias. Thought is fairly ineffective at ending them though and seems a long winded route. Can we learn therapies ourselves to better deal with our problems? To correct our thought?
October 30, 2007 at 10:36 am dignifieddevil
The new Pynchon has the usual oblique commentary in the form of prose poem i.e. epigrams. Here are a few from the first 100 or so pages. I might add Against the Day has hooked me much more quickly than Mason & Dixon, but it addresses concerns much more practical and down to earth than Gravity’s Rainbow.
“As the ordeal went on, it became clear to certain of these balloonists, observing from above and poised ever upon a cusp of mortal danger, how much the modern State depended for its survival on maintaining a condition of permanent siege-through the systematic encirclement of populations, the starvation of bodies and spirits, the relentless degradation of civility until citizen was turned against citizen, even to the point of committing atrocities like those of the infamous petroleurs of Paris.” – Against The Day, T. Pynchon
“Many people believe that there is a mathematical correlation between sin, penance, and redemption. More sin, more penance, and so forth. Our own point has always been that there is no connection. All the variables are independent. You do penance not because you have sinned but because it is your destiny. You are redeemed not through doing penance but because it happens. Or doesn’t happen.” – Against The Day
There’s a website for discussing the book with line by line breakdowns here:
I’ve also been reading a lot of Hannah Arendt these days, mostly because I find her thinking pretty fascinating. It’s refreshing to read someone with a value set unlike mine, but with whom I occasionally intersect in different ways. Regardless, she has more stuff that surprised me than Pynchon, so a few more quotes from her.
“And though one may argue that all notions of man creating himself have in common a rebellion against the very factuality of the human condition-nothing is more obvious than that man, whether as member of the species or as an individual, does not owe his existence to himself- and that therefore what Sartre, Marx, and Hegel have in common is more relevant than the particular activities through which this non-fact should presumably have come about, ” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence
One of the things I like abut Arendt is that I don’t understand her perspective sometimes. This phrase which obviously goes against the existentialist idea of man creating himself, I don’t disagree with, but what does Arendt think make up people (genetics? cultural construction? environment?) is not specified.
“Fanon’s worst rhetorical excesses, such as, ‘hunger with dignity is preferable to bread eaten in slavery.’ No history and no theory is needed to refute this statement… Reading these irresponsible grandiose statements-and those I quoted are fairly representative…one is tempted to deny their significance.” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence
I’m an idealist and find Arendt’s ordering or values here interesting. That she feels it’s better to live as a slave than say die for your ideals is well when I think about it probably the more likely path most people will take, and for that matter what the slaver prefers.
“To think, finally, that there is such a thing as a ‘Unity of the Third Word,’ to which one could address the new slogan in era of decolonization ‘Natives of all underdeveloped countries unite!’(Sartre) is to repeat Marx’s worst illusions on a greatly enlarged scale and with considerably less justification. The Third World is not a reality but an ideology.” – Arendt, On Violence
“If we look on history in terms of a continuous chronological process, whose progress, moreover is inevitable, violence in the shape of war and revolution may appear to constitute the only possible interruption.” – Arendt, On Violence
“Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together… It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn against independence, the property of individual strength” – Arendt
“Sze’s work offers arrangements of unexplained significance which mimic confused reality and to a degree reconcile one to it.” – Peter Campbell on Sarah Sze http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n19/camp01_.html
October 29, 2007 at 4:37 am dignifieddevil
Was just checking my links and noticed I’ve been blogging here for 3 years now… and yet the links continue to pile in about 2 a year actually. Anyway, some qoutes I’ve been building up.
“Gazing across the river at this metallisation of a dream, one has to take one’s hat off to Gehry and the civic leaders of Bilbao. I’m impressed by Tate Modern and its vast Turbine Hall, with its echoes of Albert Speer and the Zeppelin field rallies, and its immense popularity proves that it satisfies a need that should have been met by the disastrous Millennium Dome, a wish for an uplifting social space more enduring than the local Tesco or Ikea.”
J.G Ballard from http://arts.guardian.co.uk/greatbuildings/story/0,,2183734,00.html
Ten to one Tesco will have a series of markets designed by Gehry or a similar architect by 2030. Carre Four has already embraced design by numbers organic organization in their new markets.
“When Phillis Wheatley’s book of poems had to be verified by upstanding white men in the community and they put their stamp of approval on the authenticity of these words as though it were an impossibility that a black woman could think of anything on her own. Now it’s debatable, you know, how artistically worthy what she thought of on her own was, but that’s really not the point. I like the idea of suddenly finding myself in the desirable echelons of the art world and presenting myself in this manner. <b> So I am incredibly grateful for the approval of white society who understands that I am an anomaly. It should raise questions I think, maybe more than it does.</b> “
Kara Walker from http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/walker/clip1.html
As white people we consistently fail to see the intelligence in the other, that we often can’t see it in African-Americans is even more a shame, because as it stands they’re difference from us is not as pronounced as say Asians and other cultures. That it is this view, this racism, that has led to an under-investment in Africans as a whole should make us rethink the nature of our perceptions and the way our eyes lie.
“All of us are familiar with these strategies – whether consciously or not – but can similar ideas ever be employed in a way which benefits the consumer, or society in general, without actual deception or underhandedness? For example, can artificially limiting supply to increase demand ever be helpful? Certainly artificially limiting supply to decrease demand can be helpful to consumers might sometimes be helpful – if you knew you could get a healthy snack in 5 minutes, but an unhealthy one took an hour to arrive, you might be more inclined to go for the healthy one; if the number of parking spaces wide enough to take a large 4 x 4 in a city centre were artificially restricted, it might discourage someone from choosing to drive into the city in such a vehicle.
But is it helpful – or ‘right’ – to use these types of strategy to further an aim which, perhaps, deceives the consumer, for the ‘greater good’ (and indeed the consumer’s own benefit, ultimately)? Should energy-saving devices be marketed aggressively to children, so that they pressure their parents to get one?”
via Persuasion & control round-up
To see the world from the perspective of a psychologist, is to witness amorality on a scale almost unbelievably high. But the question here of creating artificial scenarios that promote socially conscious products, ideas, or services is well worth investigating. After all, the means here might impeach on the ability of people to make rational choices for the ends of selling a product, but hijacking the means for a better ends, well that’s a different conundrum.
“I don’t see nobody reaching out to us, like we reached out to them. I told them guys when they went over to Europe and shit they think they going to Europe and they thought they was gonna come back superstars anybody with some sense know what’s gonna come back. Ain’t gonna be us.
You see? Because They aint nobody reaching back and doing shit for us for our kids. It’s up to us to do and make them high-tech. We got whole neighborhoods nobody got internet nobody got cable… They don’t even know why they’re supposed to have it. Ain’t nobody reaching out them.” -Mad Mike http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=8050739842417235420
October 24, 2007 at 4:23 pm dignifieddevil