Rahil

All posts by Rahil

Creativity vs What Society Needs and Wants

29 September 2016

28/9/2016

  • Desire out of local creativity / consumption — moving hostel idea, herbal drinks idea, bamboo fishing rods idea, crowdsourced urban / social interventional development VS what society needs — survival, higher [? standard of living?], what society wants, and therefore is willing to pay — learning English, consumerism (commodity [food, drink, entertainment]), etc.

Work can be categorized into those categories: creativity, what society wants, and what society needs.

Let’s take my recent experience in Lanyu (蘭嶼) as an example.

Whilst living there, I had a billion of things I wanted to do. I wanted to forage local plants to make herbal drinks and vend them on the street. I wanted to research into nature-identifying mobile applications. I wanted to use local bamboo to make fishing rods for the kids to use, and tourists to rent. I wanted to fly fish with a minimal amount of gear. I wanted to have a semi-permanent camping spot for noamad-like tourists to come and experience Lanyu for free, only paying for experiences that require much information (local experiences such as catching and eating crabs and oysters, fishing, and snorkeling in the best spots), cooking catch-of-the-day. I wanted to use Taiwan crowdsourcing website to fund safety helmets for every scooter-owner. I wanted to conduct natural science endeavors — exploring the area and organizing it into information. I wanted to create a DIY repair street stand, for home and gear repairs (fishing gear, swimming gear, farming gear). That’s what I wanted. I created those ideas.

What Lanyu needs is probably a good healthcare system, home water filtration systems, and a good political entity, to defend against the authority of Taiwan, a public health system, to help those being domestically abused, and a social welfare system, to take care of the stray homeless, ultra-poor, and elderly.

What Lanyu wants is probably more beer. More kinds of beer. More kinds of food. More stuff. English teachers. Better teachers. Better gear. And just to preserve its culture.

To live entirely by creating is the lifestyle of a pure artist, usually titled hippies / gypsies. It’s possible, but it’s rough, depending on people around at that moment in time, as opposed to money, to get by. Though, you get absolute freedom, and do as you wish, it’s usually hindered in time by the need of constantly seeking food and shelter. It takes some time to get better at this lifestyle. To learn to camp, use a water filter, avoid bad weather. Hippies usually acquire some skill to make money: crafting a commodity, or a service like teaching an art (play an instrument, sing, dance), teaching languages. My arts are game-making and philosophy. Neither of which are popular arts for any market.

The desire for crowdsourcing helmets overlaps with what society needs. If the hostel idea extends to accommodate space for children or homeless people, then it also overlaps with what society needs.

The desire for making herbal drinks and cooking freshly caught seafood, bamboo fishing rods, and creating an experiential hostel overlaps with what society wants. People want new food and drinks. Kids want fishing rods. People want to experience another lifestyle / culture.

None of these are jobs under some employer. There are no jobs on the island. But many of these ideas can obtain wealth through the exchange of services and/or goods for currency, perhaps entitling it to an independent business.

A common insult to a hippie’s lifestyle is that it’s selfish, because it doesn’t fit a need or want for society. Wants are not needed, so all want-jobs do not count toward benefitting society. What do societies actually need? A healthcare system. A few technological goods (computers, electrical fans — taking care as they destroy culture). Good families. Good public spaces. A good culture. Goods and good, I guess.

And hippies are good people who emanate good vibes to all those around them, but receive no monetary return. They usually get stuck working in an experiential, social place, like a hostel, children’s museum, progressive children’s schools, homely restaurants, DIY spaces, experimental venues, rural areas, domestic work (babysitting), where they are free to communicate and do as they wish (creating / arting). It’s the experience that matters, and through sharing the experience, educates those around them.

Capitalism doesn’t favor hippies. Nor do many societies. They wander and find their little places in the world, until society forces them out, forcing them to repeat the process. Thus is the nomad’s life.

This may have been on my mind after reading much of Patrick’s blog, a magnificent hippie, and then reading comments on a comic tribute to Patrick on imgur, perhaps the most cancerous, insular online community I’ve ever encountered. Perhaps this is kind of my defense for Patrick’s lifestyle, and in turn, my own.

His lifestyle seems alien to most of the world, including his closest relatives, the indigenous Amazonian people, the Yanomami. In a comment by his father, he says “There are enough doctors and lawyers in the world, and a few adventurers keep us all interested. We can live vicariously through their lives if we don’t have the heart or maybe a pair of lower organs to do what they are doing.” And especially in the case of developed countries, that’s the truth. There are so many professionals, that demand decreases and competition increases. They need to move from developed to less developed. Or, people need to find another way to live, to create — oh those pitiful, boring souls!

During my time in Lanyu (and even in Taiwan), one does get that feeling though: what I am doing is useless, in the context of all societies, or in the progression of social development. Why fish (with a rod or spear-gun), when one can obtain industrially-created dry foods from the market, or even industrially-created fish (through aquaculture or large fishing vessels)? Should I be working in a job under one of those industries instead?

Similarly, why farm, when that is industrialized too (unless taro plants cannot be automated for some reason)? Why make a rather inefficient canoe out of a single tree trunk when better-designed canoes are industrially constructed? Why gather and make herbal concoctions when huge pharmaceutical companies exist? Why sell commodities locally, when it could be sold online through an online marketplace? Why sell commodities when information or patents is what sells? Why do what other have already done? Why not venture anew, creating new media, new art.

Why?

Culture?

And the answer comes: experience. It’s all a new experience to me. Perhaps people have experienced, but I haven’t. The experiences can effect me. It alters me. I let it. It’s life.

And as it turns out, I loved doing all of those things.

30/9/2016
This also may have continued to linger on my mind, as while I’m stuck in place without money, I was thinking about what I would do if I were to go back home to VA, and one of those things were to get some more training, of course!; That’s what developed countries are for. My interest was doing disaster relief better (and just being an awesome local rescuer, wherever I may be; breaking the exclusivity of professionalism), as opposed to just drifting through various useless non-profits. This led me toward emergency medical technician (EMT -> paramedic), a wilderness variant of it (WEMT), critical care nursing, and, surprisingly, firefighter, whom apparently are all-around badass emergency rescuers.

Doing good without money has its barriers, yet training usually requires money. EMT requires training for certifications, firefighter requires training at a fire academy, though, one can volunteer in one’s own country’s fire station or volunteer ambulance squads. Accelerated bachelor nurse programs require a year or more of (expensive and boring) school. Paramedics require one to two years of training, in addition to EMT.

This daydream of an idea, which extended to research, kind of makes me cringe, as my mind organizes toward something, something that would tie me down to a certain location for a certain period of time, as opposed to thinking freely and broadly, whilst riding a scooter around Taiwan.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Determinism and Free Will, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Physicalism and Materialism

A Japanese Ideal

09 September 2016

Perhaps thought of after watching Hotarubi no Mori e (~Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light) [todo: write a film review].

There is an ideal of an idyllic, rustic lifestyle shared in many of my favorite animated films from Japan (Wolf Children [Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki], Only Yesterday [Omoide Poro Poro, memories trickle down”], and My Neighbor Totoro [Tonari no Totoro]. Perhaps resembling an actual arable area in Japan.

Only Yesterday

from thoughts

9/9/2016
To todo: pay bills!

Continued thought for blog posts about the ideal lifestyle:

Into the Forest of Firefly Lights harks memories, of childhood and the ideal of romance. It’s simple, short, and sweet, much like the experience of watching many great short films (La Maison un Petites), but at 45 minutes, a bit more impact than those instant Pixar character development sequences through memory (Up).

One thought provoked was whether this is based on an actual relationship. Of having problems in relationships due to time, loss, or even age difference. It seems in Japan (and much of Asia), there isn’t much free-time, except during those childhood summers, when there’s no school and the family takes a trip into the countryside. It’s here freedom, love, imagination, sparks. And perhaps, there was a relationship during those summers. People do tend to work and forget about those important things: love and family. It’s only when we have a break that we focus on it. All of my relationships have been during the summer too, because I focus on work (personal or wage labour) during the other seasons. I am normally focused on work. So, for me, it brings about some good romantic memories, time spent after summer school, time spent in the park. Innocent, romance.

The second thought it provoked is of the ideal Japanese lifestyle as glorified by many of my favorite animated films.

Though the film didn’t depict it as the other films have (moving to the countryside [from an urban area], building a home, farming), somewhere in that childhood freedom in nature, there it still exists.

During my time in Lanyu (蘭嶼), I wanted to experience and live in that culture: free-diving, fishing, spear-gun fishing, cooking, farming, vending, making things (commodities) from materials. It’s primitive, especially when compared to my philosophic or new-media making past. It’s natural science, as opposed to the infinitely more complex social philosophy. It’s a material-oriented life, as opposed to an idea, information-oriented one (link to material vs information).

It’s what we experience as children: learning what materials do, making things out of them. Less care for social development. **Just taking everything in and acting upon it.

Isn’t that culture? To simply act within a time and space?**

There, whilst experiencing 蘭嶼, memories of JRPGs such as Harvest Moon, MMORPGs such as Ragnarok Online, one mysterious one I can’t remember the name of (link to forums of most recent RO game), World of Warcraft, and the infinite other RPGs I played when I was young came. I acted the same way as I did in those games: I went out alone, learned the environment, researched the best methods, and did things: practice swimming by snorkeling, catch crabs and cook and eat them (a rather haunting experience as they are so cute), catch fish via fishing and cook and eat them, research local flora and animals and make commodities out of them, sell things through vending on the street market.

It’s all quite the dream. It’s all a game. **Each culture can be seen as a game.** People act according to their institutionalized cultured and habits: capitalism, passed-down behaviors, love, desire for social development, desire for wisdom. In the game of Lanyu, during the summer people capitalize through tourism (tour guides, snorkel and diving guides, accommodation, food vending), stocking money for the winter, or continue working by finding a job on Formosa (the main island of Taiwan). Catching and eating sea creatures is in their culture, from their past. The knowledge of the environment only known to those living there, and slowly disappearing due to social development of the children, and the lack of passing down of traditional ways of living from the elderly.

It’s all seemingly primitive compared to the Information Age, which involves tech-related occupations, computer programming; even the Industrial Age is very modern compared Lanyu. Sure there’s manufactured rice now that is imported, and some tools from supermarkets from the town closest to the port, but not much is to be seen from the developed world.

[continue later, getting off track]

Quote from post-film thoughts of Into the Firefly Forest:
> The film is slow, dreamy, like Totoro. It has its magic. It’s predictable, yet I was happy to watch it, and it made me happy, optimistic.

> For the simple things. Memories. Good times. Summers. Natural joy. Picnics. Talking. Sharing. Time.

> I think of all those memories I created in Taiwan, and elsewhere. A happier place. Instead of my cultural theory, I take in the youthful joy. Of the Chinese class, of her, of my trip in Asia, of New York, of the fatkids, of College Park, of my youth. So many memories. It’s beautiful to think about.

> I’ve been so focused lately that I’ve recently stopped thinking. This free-thinking is what makes me happy. Ignore reality, and be happy.

The literal name of the film of Only Yesterday is Omiede Poro Poro, (todo: check name) roughly memories trickling down, with poro poro being a sound-action of something dripping. Poro Poro! With the cute partially rolled r phonetic. And that’s a core argument for living in Taiwan as opposed to New York (todo: link to post): that living in Taiwan creates more experiences, more memories. I’ve only lived in Taiwan for a small fraction of my life, yet as I think of my life, much of the memories were formed there. So many adventures, friendly people, thoughts. When I watch the memories of these films, my own memories of Taiwan, an island not dissimilar to Japan, are invoked. All those people, places, things I’ve done. When I stop, perhaps on a transportation, just as in the film (and many other films from Ghibli), the those memories rush back, or rather, they kind of trickle down, and I desire them.

I want to go back, live them again. I contact the people. I tell them I am really cherished those times. It’s s childish thing to do, yet, so human. During my recent heartbreak I took a ride a scooter from 宜蘭 through 台東 to 台南 and back toward 蘭嶼. Those memories came. I wrote to everyone I thought I may have loved during past time. I wrote it during the phase of break-up whee one seeks comfort. It was pathetic, yet affirming.

I love Taiwan. I love the experiences I’ve had here. I love the people here.

And so I desire to be here. I desire to join another hostel, be a part of the experiences that go in to living in one. I desire to live in Lanyu, farm and fish and vend. I desire to move to a farming area and build a home as was done in Wolf Children. But none can be done alone.

And all of this contradicts my Western mind. My Western part desires to organize people on Lanyu to increase safety, health, and engineering. It desires a better education. Yet, it desires freedom, and enjoys the freedom the kids on Lanyu have. One feels a connection there. Those children are free, unlike Taiwan. They run around town, swim, hang out with strangers.

Can both be had? Can one be rational and free? West and East?

This contradiction is an everlasting conflict.

Why catch a single fish with rudimentary methods when there are huge high-tech boats with nets that catch hundreds? Why farm when there are huge farm fields looked over with industrial tractors and large machines? Why not just eat cheap cereals and skip to the information and ideas? One doesn’t have to fight for survival in the Information Age. Cereals are cheap, air conditioning or even simple fans exist. Why go backward in social development? We should be designing and philosophizing.

Why? Experience and memories. Nothing more.

The West focuses on the material reality. Design. The East focuses on experiences. In the West, the portfolio matters most. In the East, you must provide a biography. It’s not about what you make, it’s what you have experienced. The experience of making is just a small part.

So what stops me from experiencing? My Western past. I often think in terms of social development. Increases the development of wisdom. Figuring out cities. Figuring out cultures. Social philosophy, urban planning, all of it.

What’s the point of creating yet another hostel? I should be pushing art with games for education, films with documentary and philosophical content, putting new knowledge into ever more accessible mediums. I should be in India de-slumming. I should be in an emergency care platoon. I should be doing a lot.

Yet, I feel so stable, so normal, when I am on my own, doing my own things: fishing, making games, making things on my own. Not caring for the world’s problems. It’s taken me many years to get this feeling again. To forget about politics is so difficult, when it affects everything.

Leave a comment | Categories: Anthropology, Area, Art, Essays, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, Social Philosophy

歸途列車 (Last Train Home)

07 September 2016

Just a few minutes into Last Train Home and my my wakes up from the sloth-paced recent days of healing and waiting for my money to come in.

It’s starkly different from watching a film by Koreeda, which is so familial, revolving about love. This film already incorporates space, governance, politics, culture, and so on. It has the bigger picture in mind. Koreeda focuses on house, this film focuses on the rest of the day, including work.

Perhaps it’s the hectic pace, of cities, of work. Once the scene of the countryside comes, I feel at ease again.

Watching them get on the train is normal to me now. All of it is. I don’t feel terrible about it? Become complacent? Lost my ideals?

They travel 2100 kilometers, but don’t experience any of it in between.

You should avoid anything that should harm your study.

The huge panaromas and distant views of the countryside and city really do contrast. Why go to such an ugly city? Why not live in that beautiful rural area? As long as one has access to a library, a computer, it’s okay! Fuck the city. Especially a Chinese one.

Part 2:
Work is work. The factory looks like my first job’s office. Not so bad. At least it has more people, and kids!

Oh, but this times its a child worker. Damn.

自由是快樂。

Oh shit. That is her!

Hmm, school or work, it’s a prison, enclosed by culture. Cultures don’t understand idleness.

That’s the Asian mentality: I’d rather work harder than for my child to work.

Buying freedom, independence through work (in capitalism). Using time to buy time.

Let’s just roam around the world.

Money vs being there. Being there, absolutely.

Just watching the film now. Not much philosophizing, thinking. The daughter goes home for New Years with a spunky teenage attitude. Loves her grandparents more then her parents. Her little brother places a seemingly mere #5 in whatever school that is. The educators are probably very outdated, but it’s not shown. Freedom through work, the American dream, is looked down upon.

Watching the film, I don’t feel much. I don’t feel my need to change the world as I normally desire, when I am active. Acceptance? Lazy.

Though, I don’t feel so bad for the people either. Culture is the problem, largely. It’s culture that forces people to smoosh into trains for New Years. It’s culture that the parents want their kids to be educated through the traditional educational system. The daughter is the light. Yet, working that many hours doesn’t get anyone anywhere, does it? Maybe the daughter will try a different job. It’s just trial, part-time. Then move on just as she said the farm was a sad place, so too will the factor be. That’s education. She’s moving from the farm, to factory, to some place better. A hostel, hopefully!

[continued on the next day 7/9/2016]
Back to 7-11 where there’s air conditioner! Wow, what a difference! I can think. In not constantly in need of hydration. No mosquitos! The developed world in one room!

Skipping straight in to the climax. Classic. Parent cares for money to raise child and support for education, child cares for none of it, and in a way, is right: she cares for the people near to her: her grandparents. What’s money got to do with anything, including and especially education? That single decision is already smarter than her parents toiling away at non-sense. Perhaps it’s up to her to save her parents from habituated misery. The father’s seemingly rational view fails completely amidst the daughter’s feelings

The daughter working at a bar is not a bad first job. It’s money. She’s doing it right, experiencing slowly, reality. School doesn’t teach it.

The father desires; he must let it go.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities

蛍火の杜へ (Hotarubi no Mori e, Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light)

07 September 2016

during-film thoughts

Suburban house, missing the in-between in life
Noisy insects!

…ended up just watching the entire thing as I did as when I was young.

post-film thoughts

A similar story to Spirited Away. Perhaps they root from some ancient Japanese source story.

The film is slow, dreamy, like Totoro. It has its magic. It’s predictable, yet I was happy to watch it, and it made me happy, optimistic.

For the simple things. Memories. Good times. Summers. Natural joy. Picnics. Talking. Sharing. Time.

I think of all those memories I created in Taiwan, and elsewhere. A happier place. Instead of my cultural theory, I take in the youthful joy. Of the Chinese class, of her, of my trip in Asia, of New York, of the fatkids, of College Park, of my youth. So many memories. It’s beautiful to think about.

I’ve been so focused lately that I’ve recently stopped thinking. This free-thinking is what makes me happy. Ignore reality, and be happy.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Life, Personal

幻の光 (Maboroshi no Hikari)

08 August 2016

Japanese title: 幻の光
romanization: Maboroshi no Hikari
literal translation: phantasmic light
meaningful translation: a trick of light
English title: Maborosi

Well, that’s quite confusing, ain’t it?

From Yahoo Answers:

幻 is more often used as a metaphor for things that are troubling you, ie. spectres from the past, things that are hard to grasp, etc. (ex. 幻の名物 – phantom souvenir – people say it is available, but you cannot find it) This is also often used when describing thinking about those who have died, especially those close to us, but less as a ghostbusters ghost and more as a ghost of the mind.

notes from second viewing:

Written the day after watching it, skimming through the video, like my old film-watching days:

some thoughts while skimming, and re-occurred ones:

There’s so few items in the household. Because the setting is in a past time, and because of Japanese culture.

Her mind is stuck on the past. It’s too difficult to think about raising a child, …[stopped thought?]

She’s beautiful. A bit alien, but stunning. Mongolian? Some Japanese aboriginal? Eyebrows and eyes are almost exaggerated.

After the news of her husbands suicide, she bikes, ruminating. I do the same.

At a later time, she dwells on past photos. I do the same.

Strange match-making service. Quite similar to Indians. Is having a partner that important? Or is it merely cultural? I can imagine an American getting on fine without a partner, but I’d guess an Asian would rather *want* to share the experience.

Japan’s geography is much like Taiwan. The coast is similar to the coast I’m currently near, on the southern tip of Taiwan, with a coral coast; quiet, small towns.

Every detail and action matters in the film. It’s dense in content without action.

The new husband’s house also frightens me of Japanese culture. An isolated room with a television. There’s just not enough noise, fun, action, social life. Everything is organized, thought and then decided upon. Very little consumption. Creating a very insular culture.

She’s still able to smile and laugh. Amazing.

The nature is stunning, like Taiwan.

Super traditional formal wedding. Looks as if it could have happened in Taiwan too. The house, especially kitchen, feels warm, when there are people in it.

The kids run around in nature. Lovely. Kids need it. Strange, but beautiful green tunnel door frame with the kids.

Kids are picked up by a neighbor. Small town love.

Traditional cutting and crafting. So slow, the life there is. People fish. Mothers cut their kid’s hair. All of this exists in Taiwan too. It’s strange, compared to modern societies. Does she have to adapt from Osaka? Was her job busy?

Ah right, the tradition of leaving the house and coming in, as the daughter leaves for school. So much emphasis on the household.

Hahaha the son is great, sleeping with the grandfather on the boat. The childhood love for nature is awesome.

Such a slow life.

She’s stunning without clothes too, even with an old-fashioned huge panty.

The kids get along well. Like the Asian emphasis of having a partner to share an experience, it’s probably equally important to let the kids have a partner, a brother or sister, too.

Hah Osaka looks terrible compared to the more natural coast, but as long as one spends much of the time in a house, it doesn’t matter where one lives.

A bit of thrill: he comes all the way to the cafe near home, cheerfully, then intends to go home.

Another strange slow, close-up frame, this time on her. Perhaps a cinematic cue, as it was with the boyfriend: a change in direction for the person.

Man, learning radishes at the outdoor sink is a beautiful thing. So it putting up a bamboo fence. Only get this kind of life in the rural areas of Taiwan, like preparing for a typhoon and cleaning potato leaves.

Is it possible to move on, after losing a long-loved one, such that of a childhood sweetheart? The new husband was able, but she isn’t. How can one replace 20 years of knowing someone? That’s non-sense. She’s right. It’s impossible.

An alien cultural funeral procession? How the heck did Koreeda capture the beginning of snow with that frame?

She continues to ruminate.

His answer is great, about chasing an alluring light in the distance. There’s no real answer.

The new husband is great, spending time with the kid, helping the son ride his bike.

It’s during the winter humans ruminate, and during the spring and summer that humans take action. She decided to leave.

obvious screenplay bits:
new husband as a shadow
she says “you nut” to her new husband, which was something her husband said to her
her grandmother disappear into the cold and dies, the new grandmother figure disappears but comes back
like her, the new husband senses something wrong, but perhaps feels it’s small
son wants to buy a green bicycle with a bell like his father had
Ozu ending
– season change
– position of her a little behind
[probably missed a bunch, such as cleaning the floors, empty rooms, and more]

When I saw this during my film-consuming younger years, I thought it was great. Maybe it was the lack of words, emphasis on visuals, human gesture, and ideas.

During this second view, after recovering from a personal recent heart-break, I just watch it without much feeling, in wonder, thinking of my own problems, or nothing, passing time. Perhaps it’s my favored contemplative pacing that made me love it.

It is strange when the camera sits on her husband, in the factory, then again, when he leaves without looking back. His reaction is strange: he doesn’t react. She says she’s been acting a bit weird and he gives a strange story of an older retired sumo-wrestler co-worker making him depressed. Did he not react out of depression? She tries to cheer him up, with such pure-hearted cheerfulness, but to no avail.

In a realistic analysis now: I know East Asian cultures tend to put blame on themselves, thus resulting in suicide, as opposed to Americans, who may find optimism in other motives (art, work, media), move on more easily (more shallow relationships), blame it on others, or some other method of coping.

Indeed, Japan’s culture seems to be on the extreme end of the family-community spectrum. There is so much emphasis on family. So much so that memories, mementos, time, seem to create a whole different mindset [todo: perhaps add Our Little Sister thoughts here too]. Every object in a house has a reason or meaning. Any change in the family relationship is considered a paradigm shift. Every family decision is thought about deeply, decided formally. This is what frightens me about Japanese culture, because I’m on other extreme end — community and playing / exploration.
— (end of first writing session)

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities

Action, Attention, and Space

19 June 2016

[related posts: The Ideal Work]

[todo: written without editing]

During active times I think about what I can do within the time and space. But what varies in a large amount, depending on the state of mind, is what can be done (in my mind) and can’t, or more precisely, what is not thought of.

What can or cannot be done is a matter of mind. Anything can be done. But the mind creates rules, through state (laws), culture (customs), peers (pressure), and self (ethics). Depending on the state of mind, the rules of mind may change, and therefore, possible actions change.

For example, if I want to talk about neighborhood problems, during a more active time, I may just begin asking neighbors, any one in the neighborhood, anyone near me. During a less active time, I’m more likely to find some kind of social organization to talk to.

If I want to talk about anything, I am able to talk to anyone nearby about it, similar to how Boar is able to talk to anyone about her personal problems, including the apartment receptionist / security.

Another example, if I want to go to another town and its late, during a more active time, I would try going (catch transport, hitchhike), if something stops me, I’ll physically stop there. During a less active time, I’d probably plan where to eat and sleep. My problem is that I rarely am able to follow plans: schedules, times, etc, so the former works better for me, feels more progressive, and is a more active life.

Physical needs (food, toilet, air conditioner, floor to sleep on) should not be prioritized, yet, they cannot be ignored.

As thought and action separate, level of activity decreases, until a vegetable thinking state is reached.

Another example, if I want to run an event or some kind of activity, I may just run in on the street, or a nearby venue [this is a good epistemological pro of the city]. If I were less active, then I’d over-plan it and never do it.

Another example, if I want to create something with material, I’d ask people nearby for the material. If less active, I would use the Internet (, and that’s how use of Internet for research begins). Though, getting the material or service within the city is prioritized.

Another example, if I want to do something, I’d ask people nearby if they want to do it, join, or, if it exists, join an event or group or space. In a less active mode, I wouldn’t do it. It would remain a thought. Or, I’d have to do it alone. This is why a city works, for me. I just have to ask people nearby. The barrier of communicating an invitation is lowered, because they [people] are nearby. There is no need to create an event, make a big deal, plan a time, etc. One simply goes out, talks, and does things. It’s natural.

The distance between thought and action decreases as the [distance between humans](todo: link to post) decreases.

Communication is an action. It increases as distance decreases. Dense-living peoples communicate orally. Sparse-living peoples communicate through mediums.

Another example, if I want to call but don’t have any charge for my phone’s battery, during a more active time, I would simply ask people nearby if I can use their phone. During a less active time, I may search a place to charge my phone.

Being active seems to include being more social, perhaps because social actions often can increase the speed of actions.

I could feel the difference in state of minds when I slowed down. Before the city, I’d think about everything that made up a single shop, material, history, people in it, their minds, how the systems allowed the creation of it. A single shop was enough of an interest. A mind is interesting enough. It was worth talking to the people in it. But now in a city, I pass by so many. I can’t talk to them all, make sense of them all; how they came to be, and so on. It’s too much. Yet, it seems wrong to just pass by. Every shop has a life in it; How can one easily pass by so many shops? There is so much life to live by communicating with every shop. But why must I skip it? Why can’t I spend my time here, in this geolocation, and communicate? Why move on? I just want to sit and talk.

It just didn’t make sense to move through a city. I don’t even like moving, unless some vehicle is moving me, because it requires a piece of my brain, and that means less communicating.

To walk through a campus like NTU or CHKU seemed impossible. Biking through, also a huge waste of time. The denser city was so much more efficient. There were people I could communicate to within such a short distance. Old schools are built like large government building areas, absolutely beuracratic and departmentalized. The city was infinitely more conducive to communication than the school. The school required others to transport with, or, use of digital communication.

Only walkable human environments are ideal. In such places, the mind is freely able to communicate without being restricted by transportation and urban planning.

If within a space a person receives a call and says “hold on, I’ll call back once I’m in a quieter area”, than that space fails to be communicable, and is dentrimental to the social well-being. To be well, one must maximize time within communicable spaces. Time spent outside those spaces is isolating.

Digital communication alleviates spatial problems, tremendously. One can feel socially well in the worst environments as long as one has their digital communication application.

[todo: can continue]

Leave a comment | Categories: Epistemology, Humanities, Personal, Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Thoughts

Childhood and Media and This Recent Lonely Phase

18 June 2016

[todo: written without editing]

Recently, at least for the past two months, but perhaps up to the past two years, I’ve been living, communicating heavily through media. It can be seen through my recent writings. But more recently, perhaps only within the past month, or since my last post related to history, I stopped communicating. I bought a pair of headphones, and broke my link to the social world. It reverted my life mode to what feels identical to my childhood: no social life, relying on media and nature to keep me alive — music, biking, playing games. A life mode seemingly more primitive. It doesn’t ask questions about actions nor does it question decisions. It simply lives.

What’s been coming to mind often is the disbelief that I lived in such a way for so long. Is it normal? Or did I live a strangely unsocial childhood? Is it normal for American suburbia / caused by the environment?…

Not long ago I experienced the opposite: I didn’t want to take an action without others. I didn’t even want to wake up, or shower. Where’s the fun without doing things without others? So the contrast creates that disbelief.

“Is it normal?” Maybe in the culture of more rural areas, suburbia: less dense areas. It’s just so much more easier and resultingly happier to take actions with people in dense areas: to help the people spatially near. Perhaps even natural. If that’s true, then my childhood was indeed unnatural — that word more precise than abnormal.

“Did I live a strangely unsocial childhood?” Don’t all children wander around playfully with their toys? I do feel I spent a lot more time obsessively organizing things: my music library (during the time of just-post-Napster), my film library (during Netflix DVD-by-mail), and so on. Heck, I’ve just recently done this with my own writings.

I think what I felt strange about it was that I just feel I spent so much time with not-so-communicative-media (music) as opposed to communicating with people or more-communicative-media (documentary, writings). Of most priority, in general, the difference in time I spend with people during my time in Asia compared to my childhood feels infinite.

Every hour I could be thinking about the various people around me, what to do with them, whereas in America, I wouldn’t. It’s that spatial difference for me

In America I was okay doing things alone; I had my own narrow thought and directions. In Asia, I took into consideration the infinite factors of a society.
x…
Perhaps my childhood wasn’t too unsocial, as I always wanted to play games with people all night.

But playing games and riding bikes was something I wanted to do, and not everyone else in society wanted. I rarely did things I didn’t care for: cooking, pro-sports, whatever other kids (and adults?) do (???). So those activities were still directional.

It wasn’t until I moved to the city that I actually tried other things, that I may not have cared for much, but because I could do it socially, without exclusivity, I did. I’d join any free event, art event, workshops, etc.. Somehow, denoting that an activity was an event lured me in. [todo: it wasn’t denoting an activity, rather, having the knowledge that one could join an event and it actually existing in a nearby time-space, as opposed to creating an activity in my hometown] I could have done the same things at home, with my friends and family, but now that there was information denoting what was going on, I joined. Actions to be taken were written in the form of a human language. The event-makers of cities shaped my actions for the limited times they had. They were the game-makers, social game-makers.
x…
Back to the huge contrast between childhood and Asia:
To have people as the focus of my mind, what gets attention as opposed to not. To go to Humans of Taipei and critical theory from wanting to play a video game. It is a huge difference. In the past media kept me awake: music and games. Now, people keep me awake: any nearby relations. Perhaps the problem is that unlike the continuity, immortality of media, social relations can be lost, and losing them during the more Asian way of life leads to social death. | I socially died once I lost my social connections. I lost them because I became (habitually) stuck in a place (spatially) due to economic problems. | Thus, I must live in a social place (hostel, public space, a place close to a public space [in a city]), or make the place I live in social. Furthermore, I must not let the negative culture of the space resides in (capitalism, consumerism, etc.) drive me out. Then what?: the inevitable: fight it or create my own.

It is indeed natural to desire to do things socially, and other than the times in which I desired to ride bikes or play games with my friends, in retrospect it does seem my childhood was unnatural.

Perhaps it’s a matter of focus. Before, I focused on media, later on people, minds. During my time of travel I observed what people did, questioned why, like an anthropologist. Those people often focused on material things, most of all: media. It was clear while traveling that one can see the city-dwellers using their smartphones whilst riding public transportation as opposed to talking to the people nearby to gain wisdom. And it was only in those spaces (hostels especially, public spaces, etc.) — no institution, including the most recent one (NTU) — that life could be found. Here were people that [todo: self-note, writing session 2, after food break] focused on other people. Their goal was to go out with another person just to join or create an activity to do with even more people, often an event in which the focus are people. It’s about going out with an American traveler to showing her the neighborhoods I like in Taipei, allowing her to see its beauty, and together, with the night market vendors, engage in an activity. It’s about joining a local surfer for a lesson, surfing, and eating, and taking, and sleeping at the surf shop worker apartment. It’s about joining a volunteer for a volunteer building project, eating and meeting more volunteers, building together, and sleeping at a temple together. It’s the time of sharing experiences that mattered most. [hmmm, well that drifted off-topic… Well maybe not:]

Often times, more than one’s individual directions and desires. The social, shared experience would beat the individual directions, and the choice between going out with hostel-mates as opposed to making video games slanted greatly toward the social choice. Surely I would try to match my directions by making them social, but it wasn’t always possible. And when it didn’t exist in society, I changed motives. Instead of thinking about and making media, I changed to thinking about local people and making things with them. Should I have stuck to my directions / teach others to explore the directions with me?; just as I explored on my bike, trying to get friends to join me on my biking adventures? Is it a matter of becoming more narrow and specific that leads to less socialness? It seems explorers must learn to go about alone, or learn to teach. An explorer’s life or ethics should not be compared to others, because there is nothing it can be compared to: it is unique.

But my change from making media to desiring to change culture, to affect human behavior in more direct ways was a good one. It was good to have those social experiences, or else, well, I’d be stuck in the suburbs making trite games. So having an individual direction isn’t enough; it needs a social component. Or else, one is simply stuck in some isolated culture, an isolated state of mind. Rather, life is comprised of both, taking individual strides in unexplored directions and being open to the social lives around. Balancing them is something I still haven’t figured out. I’ve been to both extremes. Those extremes, are what I usually ascribe to the stereotype or culture of America and culture of Taiwan. American culture is to be narrow-minded, single-directioned. Taiwan culture is to be open-minded (cultures, minds, lives), without direction.

To work toward something is to have direction. To observe others is to not. One must work and observe. Attention must be able to sway from observing the world and working. One shouldn’t become dependent on them, especially the point of socially dying when not progressing in either direction. One must not be dependent on either work or people: both are temporal. Either one can fly in and out of life. One shouldn’t wake up to desire to work toward a project or to spend time with another person. There must be another reason. (How do imprisoned people live on? Is their livelihood even considered living?) No, no reason. Don’t attach reason to living. Life is not to be reduced to a set of ethics. Life is whatever the next day brings it. To have goals, desires for those goals, leads to same trap as anticipation does: it builds false optimistic ends. Never anticipate, never desire. By desiring better human behavior, better decision-making, better cultures, I’ve nearly destroyed myself.
.
Work, but expect nothing from it. Observe, but accept no truth from it.
.
But then, without desire, how can one wake up? That sounds like the life of a passion-less zombie. In the past I woke up because I either desired to do something (personal art, observing through media, observing reality, interacting with reality) or was simply content with being open to the world around me. To do something closer to the world around me was most satisfying. To do something narrow, further from the world around me, likely unsocial, was perhaps, less so. Though, I think I had a pretty good time with films in high school and books more recently. The answer to the question, how does one work and be open, is a difficult one.

Perhaps they are opposing modes of life. They simply cannot be done simultaneously, as one ever so desires. One must simultaneously desire both and balance them. Desire to work. Desire to listen. | Listening is education. Work is practice. Just as practice alters with education, work alters with listening. Avoid the extremes I ascribe to the stereotypical American and Taiwanese cultures. Avoid extremes in general. Work and listen. Listen and work. Desire both. Do both. When focused too much on one side, spend time on the other, and vice versa.

I think that’s it. In this recent past, being alone in my mind, I’ve finally went to that lonely childhood being, and it’s frighteningly different from my post-VA being: I went from one extreme to another. The problem is that I shouldn’t have ever been at either extreme. I focused too much in my own work recently, and too much on the world before that. I can never find the balance. Hopefully living with a few good people I will get closer.

[todo: end here / end of session 2]


[todo: lost a thought here?]


[todo: these were written during the first session, but I ended up focusing on the above point]
What’s also clear is how different my life is from post-VA to pre-SF. It seems I gradually became more social since I left my parent’s home in VA until I became dependent on being social to take actions in Taiwan, only to revert to independence now. I began with shared roommates in SF, then volunteer organizations and art organizations in NY, then work exchange and hostels in Asia. Spatially, things got closer too, to the point I slept with the people I am socially closest with…

It seems post-VA that I had the energy to keep trying to socially communicate my actions with people. I was searching for people, simultaneously changing myself in the course of searching. That constant searching itself kind of became my life mode. I’d search, find, settle for a few months, then move on. The point was that I kept being social; being a part of society, and that was markedly different from my VA life. Perhaps my social dependence began post-VA, or at least began developing.

[todo: can continue]

Leave a comment | Categories: Personal, Self-assessment, Thoughts

Philosophy of Music

09 June 2016

[this is a drafty mess transcribed from paper. Really need some kind of bluetooth flexible keyboard to use with a smartphone…]

page 0

[todo: Taiwan culture and streets, clingy relationships, social world of locality]

page 1

I finally got some cheap, yet amazingly good, headphones. Listening to them reminds me of a past time of my life — programming for capital in VA [Virginia, USA], commuting to college, doing chore-like work at home (repetitive organizing on the computer); Now I’m able to see that the way I survived the suburbs is because I abused music.

Using technology is not normal. It is much slower to communicate through technology than it is to simply talk — within one’s head, out loud, or through writing. Technology distracts thinking and communicating.
.
Music interrupts, blocks thinking and communicating. To blog, for instance, I may need to connect to the internet, charge my digital device. Looking at my blog may distract further, directing thought toward design — trying to make it more readable, increasing interaction. It [technology] distracts from the content, from the act of writing, the act of thought expression.
.
Music blocks thinking. It’s the only way to act, it seems. To take an action that is not communication nor survival, one must drug onelsef with more ot push one’s body to act.

With more, people organize, over-organize, over-work, over-accumulate capital. They forget to talk. Asia talks; America works. In Taiwan, reading is common (though likely passively), a common way to communicate. In America, new arts are created to communicate which all require more work (game-making!) to communicate the message compared to human language. Why not just communicate via human language? (Maybe music blocks people from expressing through human language.)
.
It also may block thought of the environment. It helps people focus on something — media, art, material, “work”, but rarely does it lead to talking to people nearby, to thinking about how the environemnt came to be, history, others, social problems, etc. It is a mind-altering drug, one that inhibits verbal expression.

page 2?

I believe I was at a point of only acting to communicate. I didn’t do anything else. I’d talk to the people around me, then, to books, then run out of energy and collapse, partly because my body had become fail, partly because capitalism doesn’t allow that kind of life of mind. It prefers a life of bodily action, of movement of commodity. The movement of commodity is the opposite of the movement of meanings (communication). It is detestable, a chore, it provokes humans to abuse music; whereas communication is enjoyable, not requiring music.

If joy comes from the creation of communication, then the creation of commoidity requires a kind of drug to make-up for the lack of enjoyment. It is ideal to creat ecommodity whilst creating communicationl but that isn’t always possible (though, technology helps immensely here, with eBook listening, audio-recording, telephones, etc.). Eventually, either from habit of work, habit of listening to music, one nearly forgets to communicate. That’s frightening, because that’s the difference between a person who expresses and one that doesn’t, the difference between a free mind and a restricted mind. [A free person and restricted person {slave}?] America is full of restricted minds. Asia is full of free minds.

The West prioritizes media, the communication through mediums. The East prioritizes [direct] communication, even in it’s simply a conversation with a friend. There is much widsom in the people as opposed to media. It doesn’t distribute well, but it’s a healthy lifestyle. The West begins with (Plato and) Aristotle. The East relies on the oral world which retains the culture. Culture is not distributed through media; It is through human interaction, direct communication. That is opposite of the culture industry of America. [todo: should continue*****].

[todo: epistemology of music]

[todo: action and music]

Without music I only act toward survival and communication — the socio-political expressions. Music allows me to live unsocially. It gives energy without people. I needed people during my time in Asia. I was dependent on people. I strived to do everything with people [todo: need anchor to Taiwan section]. I tried to socio-politically cooperate to strive toward ideals (civic, social, design). I didn’t work, I just communicated.

page 3?

America has been running on music at least since slaves worked to their own creative folk tunes; Now, white brokers on Wall street work while listening to hip-hop. Maybe the creation of music is skewed toward the working class because they need it to get by, influenced and inspired by it, mimic the creation of it, listening to raps about wage-labor whilst laboring for wage. I sure did — through game, film, and fine arts / new media. That expression, anti-capitalism in America is perhaps the strongest emotion in American culture, perhaps even more-so than love (all forms of it). And it [the creation capitalism-influenced art] probably has not been broken since capitalism has existed.

last page?

That is why the East lacks art through mediums — most is expression through oral communication, then to written communication, then lastly to other mediums. The history of the complex part of Eastern art is perhaps solely literature. It is because America listens to music that they [tend to] communicate through mediums.

digression: How is communication prioritized? I guess that’s left to attention. Communication is just information.

empty page with title

[todo: American culture and music -> media]

an older page

Music is awful. It blocks thinking. Gives energy, for physical exercise, but actions are not thought of, just taken. It blocks thinking before taking an action. The decision-making phase is skipped. Is this action? Is this life? How can such mindlessness be? How wild the affects of music are.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Applied Philosophy, Communication, Drafts, Experience, Filmmaking, Health, Humanities, Media, Metaphysics, Music, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Music, Philosophy of Technology, Semiotics, Social Philosophy, temp, Thoughts

My Workflow for Written Expression

03 June 2016

Continuing the thought from the self-note from the last post:

[self-note: this was published using markdown, and is a good for testing it. The original text is in a text file in Dropbox. Can either copy the HTML from the text file using an application (Writebox) or use the WordPress markdown plugin. It seems I may have been playing with the formatting of highlights and notes, using unordered lists (via markdown), which led to some cosmetic updates to the CSS. I don’t know how to write a non-html-list in markdown using “\n- text”. I really sure hope all this messing with digital bullshit will make expressing thoughts easier during more active times in life…

It might be helpful to write down the workflow, perhaps minimizing it.

Here is my current workflow:
1. experience
2. think
– non-verbal / skip to action, oral (in the mind or out loud)
3. decide to write
– written is a choice among infinite choices of actions
4. express via writing to nearest material
– paper, public computer, smartphone
– audio recording an alternative worth considering
if written on physical material:
– 4.5 transcribe to digital text file
5. publish to WordPress

Here is my current workflow with current technology:
if using phone:
write via a writing (likely markdown-supported) smartphone application (Writebox, Plaintext [2], Byword)
copy text or HTML to clipboard
paste into WordPress [web browser (because the WordPress application sucks)]
– possibility: can purchase an update for Byword to publish to WordPress
— this [Byword publishing feature] might be worth purchasing*
— is it worth looking at alternative writing smartphone applications for publishing feature?: iaWriter*, Elements: Design, nvALT and WriteRoom*, MarsEdit, Ulysses (and Daedelus Touch), Desk [PM], Nebulous Notes. No. Stick to the simply wonderful Byword*.

if not:
write directly via WordPress (if near / convenient; it never is convenient)
write to a text file using Writebox
– Writebox is multi-platform, including web browsers, making it simple to use from any personal computer. This is the closing thing to physical paper.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Humanities, Literature, Organization, Personal, Philosophy of Literature, Thoughts

In Search of a Past Time

23 May 2016

[self-note: this was published using markdown, and is a good for testing it. The original text is in a text file in Dropbox. Can either copy the HTML from the text file using an application (Writebox) or use the WordPress markdown plugin. It seems I may have been playing with the formatting of highlights and notes, using unordered lists (via markdown), which led to some cosmetic updates to the CSS. I don’t know how to write a non-html-list in markdown using “\n- text”. I really sure hope all this messing with digital bullshit will make expressing thoughts easier during more active times in life… This thought has been proceeded to My Workflow for Written Expression.]

[todo: this is a super drafty mess of wanderings exported straight from my phone. It shouldn’t have been published. I’m probably not going to touch this again though. But at least it was fun, and therefore maybe fun for others to wander along too. History is so, uh, unreal. Man, I’m done with history!]

Romantic Periods continued:
Let’s call them ideal [time] periods. Ideal being, an ideal in my mind at least.

Continuing the search for a certain period of time where people created the greatest ethical and political philosophies. A time where people focused on these things. A time where people cared for one another.

contents

As societies urbanized, they needed to figure out as social/political solution, so it came out of necessity of the sudden growing dense areas. That’s the most common sense reason. For politics, and ethics?

Then, it seems, one ethical system bested the others, unifying the cities with benevolence and harmony, resulting in a “peaceful” (no war, but still highly unequal society) golden age, until it became an empire (the most unequal).

But this doesn’t say anything about what’s most important: capital and capitalism in the cities: the motivation of work. The slaves that powered the classical ages and empires.

He argues that credit systems originally developed as means of account long before the advent of coinage, which appeared around 600 BC. Credit can still be seen operating in non-monetary economies. Barter, on the other hand, seems primarily to have been used for limited exchanges between different societies that had infrequent contact and often were in a context of ritualized warfare.

Graeber suggests that economic life originally related to social currencies. These were closely related to routine non-market interactions within a community. This created an “everyday communism” based on mutual expectations and responsibilities among individuals. This type of economy is contrasted with exchange based on formal equality and reciprocity (but not necessarily leading to market relations) and hierarchy. The hierarchies in turn tended to institutionalize inequalities in customs and castes.

  • in line with first to second stage Marxist social development

…The great Axial Age civilizations (800–200 BC) began to use coins to quantify the economic values of portions of what Graeber calls “human economies”. Graeber says these civilizations held a radically different conception of debt and social relations. These were based on the radical incalculability of human life and the constant creation and recreation of social bonds through gifts, marriages, and general sociability. The author postulates the growth of a “military–coinage–slave complex” around this time. These were enforced by mercenary armies that looted cities and cut human beings from their social context to work as slaves in Greece, Rome, and elsewhere. The extreme violence of the period marked by the rise of great empires in China, India, and the Mediterranean was, in this way, connected with the advent of large-scale slavery and the use of coins to pay soldiers. This was combined with obligations to pay taxes in currency: The obligation to pay taxes with money required people to engage in monetary transactions, often with very disadvantageous terms of trade. This typically increased debt and slavery.
Wikipedia, Debt: The First 5000 Years

  • and so capitalism was introduced in the classical age, institutionalized, and at its apex during the empire age. Sounds like Dubai.

Surely after that one must desire some purer ethical treatises to get out of that extreme form of capitalism and violence.

Argh, even in 600BC, one can’t escape capitalism! I’ve spent so much time getting away from it, and even traveling through time, I must go back at least 2600 years. How can one ever escape capitalism? It’s spatially and temporally impossible!

So, anyway, it’s pretty difficult to tell how much capital affected people’s action as opposed to ethics of their philosophies. I’m guessing Confucius China was far less motivated by capital (“profit”) than the Europeans. Bhuddist India too. The influence of philosophies still show in both countries’ contemporary cultures. So, after all, it was the Europeans that were most ruthless, most extreme, the Roman Empire being the apex of ruthlessness, killing for coins, just to make a living.

Anyway, what was I looking for? A certain flourishing period of time? Im not sure. Maybe China’s Han Dynasty is best? They don’t seem to have had a caste system, and likely were more peaceful than Romans, and I read that they were prolific inventors.

Or was I looking for a prolific time where people thought about ways a society can live? I guess there aren’t any other times: around 600BC most of the civilizations created coins. Thus, one must look to other civilizations, precisely at the time when a society begins to urbanize, and better before the invention of coinage

Hmm, I wonder about the geographic view. If urbanization caused people to think of ways to socially organize, was coinage the real solution? (As opposed to ethical precepts.) Then, did other civilizations simply copy that idea (maybe for trade?)? Then, the newly founded social system, capitalism, caused some kind of psychological madness to the point of slave-driving an empire and conquering others (Hi America!)? Then, as a reaction to that madness, people reverted to a morally better religion/ethical precepts?

This shit is crazy. I’m done with history!

Actually, I think was just looking for a period of time where people thought about others, focused on politics and ethics as opposed to [instituinalized, capitalistic] work, not only in the sense of creatively thinking about ways a society can live and govern itself, rather, more simply, just more focused on each other, being aware of one another. [Perhaps I was seeking] The most socially aware period of time [in the development of a society]. An empire, by the definition, is a stage of society that is least socially aware. Perhaps it was indeed before coins were introduced, that people focused on other people, and not coins, or useless wage labour.

Well, I first began to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius because I wanted to become less aware of social problems. I was hyper-aware, and it was damaging my life. By reading Stoic philosophy, I thought I could be less aware, and it worked a bit. It’s not too bad. What’s bad is knowing that a Roman Emporer did not care for social problems. He wasn’t just unaware, he was decidedly unaware. Like Epictetus, he didn’t let external things bother him, and suggests others shouldn’t. To use one’s mind, free will, to do what they want, but not to grind against society, instead, flow with it naturally. What makes it difficult to digest is that it’s the Roman Empire. He spent much time on the field, battling. Was war simply determinism, fate for him? Stoicism makes sense for the time, to be calm and not be afraid of dying, just as Zen Buddhism made sense, but in contemporary society, it’s a terrible set of ethics.

Then I thought the Second Sophistic was great. Sophists, the artist-educator-senator-public-orating-philosophers, were free, independent [of institutions], debating in the public, talking to Emporers without beauracracy, creating their own schools; a huge part of society. Yet, again, thinking of the history of the Roman Empire, it’s difficult to admire them too. Did they try to socially organize against problems? I guess I’ll know when I read some of Cicero’s speeches.

notes

general time periods:
[Prehistory, ]Archaic periods (Bronze Age), Classical periods (Iron Age), Age of Empires (Iron Age)[, Middle Ages]

Greco-Roman:
Archaic Greece, Classical Greece, Hellenistic Greece, Roman Empire, Holy Roman Empire
|
Seven Sages and Pre-Socratics, atheism/ethical treatises/complex epistemology, early Stoicism and Epicureanism, Stoicism wins, then Christianity wins

India:
Vedic Period, Mahajanapadas, Maurya Empire
|
Brahmin sages, many religions?, [Indian] Buddhism/Jainism wins?

China:
Zhou Dynasty, Warring States (end of Zhou), Imperial China (Qin, Han, etc. Dynasties?)
|
Mandate of Heaven?, every Chinese religion/philosophy, Confucius wins

Japan:
Yayoi, {Kofun, Asuka (most societal changes), Nara}, Heian (golden age and empire)
|
Shinto {Shinto, Bhuddism introduced, both?}, all religions from China, a mix wins?

in general:
archaic, classical, empire
non-sense cosmology, creation of ethical treatises, choice of one ethical treatise (the most humane one, exception: Roman, until it becomes Holy Roman)

geographical (reality) progression:
feudalism/agriculture, urbanization (state/city governor/tyrant), empire (Emporer and their many generals/governors, building of huge trade routes)

highlights and notes from Wikipedia

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_world:

Beginning in the 8th century BCE, the so-called “Axial Age” saw a set of transformative religious and philosophical ideas develop, mostly independently, in many different locations. During the 6th century BCE, Chinese Confucianism,[53][54] Indian Buddhism and Jainism, and Jewish Monotheism all developed. (Karl Jaspers’ Axial Age theory also includes Persian Zoroastrianism on this list, but other scholars dispute Jaspers’ timeline for Zoroastrianism.) In the 5th century BCE Socrates and Plato made significant advances in the development of Ancient Greek philosophy.

In the east, three schools of thought were to dominate Chinese thinking until the modern day. These were Taoism,[55] Legalism[56] and Confucianism.[57] The Confucian tradition, which would attain dominance, looked for political morality not to the force of law but to the power and example of tradition. Confucianism would later spread into the Korean peninsula and toward Japan.

From around 550 BCE, many independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were established across the subcontinent.

Regional Empires (Age of Empires):
The millennium from 500 BCE to 500 CE saw a series of empires of unprecedented size develop. Well-trained professional armies, unifying ideologies, and advanced bureaucracies created the possibility for emperors to rule over large domains, whose populations could attain numbers upwards of tens of millions of subjects. The great empires depended on military annexation of territory and on the formation of defended settlements to become agricultural centres.[65] The relative peace that the empires brought encouraged international trade, most notably the massive trade routes in the Mediterranean, the maritime trade web in the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road. In southern Europe, the Greeks (and later the Romans), in an era known as “Classical Antiquity,” established cultures whose practices, laws, and customs are considered the foundation of contemporary western civilization.

  • perhaps ones must look at these empires for some real philosophy (link to second sophists, real philosophy). In the axial age people scrambled and created social structures, such as ethical treatises, to maintain stability (or in the negative: hagemony). In the empires age, people maintained society by the forcing capitalism culture upon others. Hmmm.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurya_Empire:

Under Chandragupta and his successors, internal and external trade, agriculture and economic activities, all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security.

  • empire-wide social systems!

After the Kalinga War, the Empire experienced nearly half a century of peace and security under Ashoka. Mauryan India also enjoyed an era of social harmony, religious transformation, and expansion of the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya’s embrace of Jainism increased social and religious renewal and reform across his society, while Ashoka’s embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India. Ashoka sponsored the spreading of Buddhist ideals into Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia[9] and Mediterranean Europe.[3]

  • Jainism is to India as Confucius is to China, a good ethical system promoting harmony

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka:

These inscriptions proclaim Ashoka’s adherence to the Buddhist philosophy which, as in Hinduism is called dharma, “Law”. The inscriptions show his efforts to develop the Buddhist dharma throughout his kingdom. Although Buddhism and the Gautama Buddha are mentioned, the edicts focus on social and moral precepts rather than specific religious practices or the philosophical dimension of Buddhism.

“Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King Piodasses (one of the titles of Ashoka: Piyadassi or Priyadarsi, “He who is the beloved of the Gods and who regards everyone amiably”) made known (the doctrine of)
Piety (Greek:εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made men more pious, and everything thrives throughout the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing) living beings, and other men and those who (are) huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted
from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they
have ceased from their intemperance as was in their power; and obedient to their father and mother and to the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future, by so acting on every occasion, they will live betterand more happily.” (Trans. by G. P. Carratelli[4])

  • animal ethics in 200b.c.

Ashoka showed great concern for fairness in the exercise of justice, caution and tolerance in the application of sentences, and regularly pardoned prisoners.

When Ashoka embraced Buddhism in the latter part of his reign, he brought about significant changes in his style of governance, which included providing protection to fauna, and even relinquished the royal hunt. He was perhaps the first ruler in history to advocate conservation measures for wildlife.

However, the edicts of Ashoka reflect more the desire of rulers than actual events; the mention of a 100 ‘panas’ (coins) fine for poaching deer in royal hunting preserves shows that rule-breakers did exist. The legal restrictions conflicted with the practices then freely exercised by the common people in hunting, felling, fishing and setting fires in forests.

  • yeah, but it’s the creation of culture that mattered, not the enforcement of law

Roadside facilities
Along roads I have had banyan trees planted so that they can give shade to animals and men, and I have had mango groves planted. At intervals of eight krosas, I have had wells dug, rest-houses built, and in various places, I have had watering-places made for the use of animals and men. But these are but minor achievements. Such things to make the people happy have been done by former kings. I have done these things for this purpose, that the people might practice the Dhamma. Pilar Edict Nb7 (S. Dhammika)}}

  • urban planning! Making life comfortable.

— (another sitting?)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Japan:

Between the third century and the eighth century, Japan’s many kingdoms and tribes gradually came to be unified under a centralized government, nominally controlled by the Emperor. The imperial dynasty established at this time continues to reign over Japan to this day.

  • there’s the period, but holy shit, imperial up to this day!?

In 794, a new imperial capital was established at Heian-kyō (modern Kyoto), marking the beginning of the Heian period, which lasted until 1185. The Heian period is considered a golden age of classical Japanese culture. Japanese religious life from this time and onwards was a mix of Buddhism, and native religious practices known as Shinto.

  • and there’s the romantic period of urbanization, religion, ethics of normative society, ethics of recluses, etc.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian_period

The Heian period (平安時代 Heian jidai?) is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185.[1] The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height. The Heian period is also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art, especially poetry and literature.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian_literature,
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recluse_literature:

The origins of the literary style known as Recluse Literature has roots in the Taoist movement in China, said to date back to the 3rd or 4th century BCE. Like the recluses of Japan, Taoist philosophers such as Zhuangzi and Laozi advocated a casting off of the bonds of society and government, and instead living a life free of obligations and the pressures of urban life. The first Japanese recluse is considered to be Saigyō Hōshi, who worked as a guard to retired Emperor Toba until the age of 22, at which time for reasons unknown he took the vows of a monk and proceeded to live alone for long periods of time. Following the relocation of the capital from Heian (present day Kyoto) to Kamakura, located 50 km south-south-west of Tokyo, many court aristocrats, due mainly to the influence of Jōdo shū or Pure Land Buddhism, became disillusioned with the standards and practices of government and every day life, and instead chose to live on the outskirts of civilization in isolation. The practice of taking the tonsure (becoming a monk) after life in the Imperial court was not entirely new to Japan, but the concept of doing so and completely retreating from secular life into nature, as opposed to the many Buddhist monasteries around the capital, was considered a novel alternative to these newly disillusioned intellectuals. From this isolation, it was common practice for the recluse to focus his efforts on self-reflection, expressed through the arts such as poetry or the writing of zuihitsu-styled essays.

  • transcendentalism/Daoism in Japan

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuihitsu:

Zuihitsu (随筆?) is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings.

  • personal essays of reality!

The genre next gained momentum as a respectable form of writing several centuries later in the Kamakura Period. With the depotentiation of the Heian Court and the relocation of the capital to Kamakura, near modern-day Tokyo, many intellectuals, amidst social chaos, grew disillusioned and chose to live in asceticism – a trend that also reflected the growing importance of Pure Land Buddhism. Writing from isolation, these authors reflected on the degeneracy of their contemporaries, whom they considered philistines, in comparison to themselves, as well as general consideration of the impermanence of the material world. Major works from this period include Kamo no Chōmei’s Hōjōki and Yoshida Kenkō’s Tsurezuregusa.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamakura_period:
– warring, samurai, feudalism, middle ages, zen as reaction, kind of like roman times / stoicism?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_period:

The Edo period (江戸時代 Edo jidai?) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代 Tokugawa jidai?) is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country’s 300 regional daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, popular enjoyment of arts and culture, recycling of materials, and sustainable forest management. It was a sustainable and self-sufficient society which was based on the principles of complete utilization of finite resources.

  • holy moly, why wasn’t this in my travel guide

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_literature

  • ah, I forget how great Wikipedia is
  • boom, 5th and 4th centuries BC, all of the religions
  • also lol at Aesop’s Fables beating most religions
  • also holy shit at the Classical Greeks writing things way beyond contemporary intelligence while the rest of the world was writing cosmological tales and ethics, except the Chinese, they kept it real, real boring

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Study_of_History

  • lolol, let’s not go that route!

www.goodreads.com/book/show/16057286-the-ellen-meiksins-wood-reader

  • this lady seems to be investigating the period capitalism rises in society for the West, in English farms, apparently, probably after simply noticing when several political theorists came about. There’s a section on precapitalist societies. Maybe should read Debt by Graeber first?

The problem is that all of the books go over how capitalism rises solely for the west. What about every other society? I want to see how capitalism rises in every society. Did it just come by imitation? Also, if coinage came in 600BC, how is that different from capitalism in 1700? To me capitalism is simply the use of currency, not the industrial revolution, or whenever a few control the mean of production.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

Capital has existed incipiently on a small scale for centuries,[35] in the form of merchant, renting and lending activities, and occasionally as small-scale industry with some wage labour. Simple commodity exchange, and consequently simple commodity production, which are the initial basis for the growth of capital from trade, have a very long history. The “capitalistic era” according to Karl Marx dates from 16th century merchants and small urban workshops.[36] Marx knew that wage labour existed on a modest scale for centuries before capitalist industry. Early Islam promulgated capitalist economic policies, which migrated to Europe through trade partners from cities such as Venice.[37] Capitalism in its modern form can be traced to the emergence of agrarian capitalism and mercantilism in the Renaissance.[38]

Thus for much of history, capital and commercial trade existed, but it did not lead to industrialisation or dominate the production process of society. That required a set of conditions, including specific technologies of mass production, the ability to independently and privately own and trade in means of production, a class of workers willing to sell their labour power for a living, a legal framework promoting commerce, a physical infrastructure allowing the circulation of goods on a large scale, and security for private accumulation. Many of these conditions do not currently exist in many Third World countries, although there is plenty of capital and labour. Thus, the obstacles for the development of capitalist markets are less technical and more social, cultural and political.

  • makes sense for why Asians can live off of a food stands / booths: the culture allows it — dense settlement and not much law/beauracracy makes it viable. Try setting one up in the suburbs only to lose to a fast food joint.

Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.[1][2][3] Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.[4][5] In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment is determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.[6][7]

Economists, political economists, and historians have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free market capitalism, welfare capitalism, and state capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership,[8] obstacles to free competition, and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets, the role of intervention and regulation, and the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism;[9] the extent to which different markets are free, as well as the rules defining private property, are matters of politics and of policy. Most existing capitalist economies are mixed economies, which combine elements of free markets with state intervention, and in some cases, with economic planning.[10]

Capitalism has existed under many forms of government, in many different times, places, and cultures. Following the decline of mercantilism, mixed capitalist systems became dominant in the Western world and continue to spread.

“History of capitalism”

Capital has existed incipiently on a small scale for centuries,[35] in the form of merchant, renting and lending activities, and occasionally as small-scale industry with some wage labour. Simple commodity exchange, and consequently simple commodity production, which are the initial basis for the growth of capital from trade, have a very long history. The “capitalistic era” according to Karl Marx dates from 16th century merchants and small urban workshops.[36] Marx knew that wage labour existed on a modest scale for centuries before capitalist industry. Early Islam promulgated capitalist economic policies, which migrated to Europe through trade partners from cities such as Venice.[37] Capitalism in its modern form can be traced to the emergence of agrarian capitalism and mercantilism in the Renaissance.[38]

Thus for much of history, capital and commercial trade existed, but it did not lead to industrialisation or dominate the production process of society. That required a set of conditions, including specific technologies of mass production, the ability to independently and privately own and trade in means of production, a class of workers willing to sell their labour power for a living, a legal framework promoting commerce, a physical infrastructure allowing the circulation of goods on a large scale, and security for private accumulation. Many of these conditions do not currently exist in many Third World countries, although there is plenty of capital and labour. Thus, the obstacles for the development of capitalist markets are less technical and more social, cultural and political.

“Agrarian capitalism”

The economic foundations of the feudal agricultural system began to shift substantially in 16th-century England; the manorial system had broken down, and land began to become concentrated in the hands of fewer landlords with increasingly large estates. Instead of a serf-based system of labor, workers were increasingly employed as part of a broader and expanding money-based economy. The system put pressure on both landlords and tenants to increase the productivity of agriculture to make profit; the weakened coercive power of the aristocracy to extract peasant surpluses encouraged them to try better methods, and the tenants also had incentive to improve their methods, in order to flourish in an competitive labor market. Terms of rent for land were becoming subject to economic market forces rather than to the previous stagnant system of custom and feudal obligation.[39][40]

  • hmmm that’s one way a society can lead to capitalism. Ouch property rent already?

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahajanapada, “Vamsa/Vatsa”:

Kausambi was a very prosperous city where a large number of millionaire merchants resided. It was the most important entreport of goods and passengers from the north-west and south. Udayana was the ruler of Vatsa in the 6th century BCE, the time of Buddha. He was very powerful, warlike and fond of hunting. Initially king Udayana was opposed to Buddhism but later became a follower of Buddha and made Buddhism the state religion.

  • millionaire merchants? In assets in today’s standard? Surely they didn’t have caves of gold coins, did they? Who’s playing with Wikipedia? But doesn’t that count as capitalism, if they received the money by owning a bunch of slaves as their private means of production?

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