Rahil Patel

| (• ◡•)|/ \(❍ᴥ❍ʋ).

Post-war in Post-political Societies

22 January 2015 by Rahil

[aka Post-everything]

I was thinking about Taiwan again, but this applies to any society that doesn’t have military strength to compete with the strongest powers.

It was mentioned that the US can’t even handle their own backyard, Latin (and South?) America. The revolutions of the early 2010s (Arab Spring and it’s tremors) cemented this idea. People are more knowledgeable and less obedient.

But militarily, what now?

Build nukes? If a country already has the ability to build a nuclear weapon, it would take a lot of dignity not to build one. Even Pakistan built some, for the sense of security. This is probably the best first step for military budget.

Build defense? I imagine it costs less than offense. The geographic advantage of being an island seems to still make a huge difference despite technological advances. The worst position simply being next to a superpower, connected by land, is really unfortunate. This is the second step.

Build offense? No way to compete. Besides, that’s what coercive, stupid states do.

Amiable societies don’t put money into war. If there is a rise in knowledge, disobedience against states, fundamental human values, dignity, a heart, then perhaps now may be a time where doing something humane would be seen as meaningful. Perhaps from this time onward, people will notice the good deeds and remember them, because now information pervades so easily.

Amiable societies often are closer to having more survival values. They’re nurturing. While still developing science (and technology), there should be more push toward nurturing other nations, and aiding them in times of natural emergencies.

The effects of nurture is opposite of that of imperialism. It is a positive force that increases solidarity, as opposed to a negative force that increases isolation. Maybe it results in more raw material or manufactured goods for the developed country, but never out of coercion.

Helping a less developed nation could add security for the lesser. If an East Asian country were to aid all of Southeast Asia, there is no military benefit for East Asia, but Southeast Asia may feel a bit secure against other larger powers. A solidarity among lesser nations is created from benevolence.

Plundering a less developed nation should decrease relations with everyone, but it often hasn’t, is ignored, resulting in no effect, because solidarity among higher nations is created from fear. There is no benevolence.

Helping a more or equally developed nation could make a change. If Taiwan were to help Japan or South Korea during a time of disaster, there’s an increase in relations, resulting in security for both or more for one.

If there is an increase in human values, perhaps people will look at a history closer to reality, and there will be a bit more acknowledgement of truth. In this way, the relationships of nations will take on a few more characteristics of more mature, modern relationships, as opposed to childish, ancient ones.

Then when it comes time when an an imperialist nation decides to conquer a neighbor, there will be more disobedience. In the victim, the victim’s friends, and imperialist nation itself.

If East Timor had good relations with other less developed nations in 2020, could the genocide have occurred so swiftly?


Hmm, this may be my first and last political post. It paradoxically feels inhuman, especially when one is not politically active. Non-pragmatic academia is a heartless pursuit.

Leave a comment | Categories: Politics, Social Science

all products should have a face

20 January 2015 by Rahil

[Product Ethics?]

In my parent’s large suburban home, there are a multitude of things. Those that I cherish most are either of most utility, likely in my backpack (some of which are from small companies whom I am able to contact), or an art object by someone I at least know by name or stage name.

But of the products in the house, this creates a very disproportionate amount of people I am aware of.

Who put this brick in this house here? Who put the pulled the wires through it? Who made this bed frame? Though, I sleep on the floor. Who stitched this underwear?

If every product had a face on it, I imagine I would have valued the products differently.

If this paper I write on had the face of a hispanic lumberjack or a picture of all of the people that work at the company. If this phone had the face of a Japanese factory worker lady. If this sleeping bag had the picture of the duck with all its feathers.

Surely these thoughts become unconscious or never conscious or eventually lost in order to live life in the developed world.

In the developed world, people often buy things from the person who created it via crafting, farming, or just putting tea in a cup. The gratitude is wholehearted and leaves a positive feeling to both.

The hope is that perhaps when one sits in their home and cut their favorite fruit, with their favorite knife, that they don’t love just the knife, but are able to be thankful to those Latin Americans factory workers that materialized it with a little picture. The house would be full of little pictures. Perhaps it would add a bit more connection in such an isolated environment, or more disgust. Both are positive outcomes.

Until the developed world adopts this standard, it is up to people to create tiny photos of the creators, and post it on every object that they own.

[Perhaps this is why I feel happy and compelled to always place myself in a public space, a restaurant, a cafe, but never a private space.]

[I really need to get out of the suburbs.]

Leave a comment | Categories: Ethics, Thoughts

Examined Life

19 January 2015 by Rahil

[todo: lots of old ideas came up here, that may be worth creating a post for, or maybe not, because they are old]

Notes taken during viewing and my current thoughts while going over them:

“The examined life is not worth living.”

great intro

Cornell West:
beam toward death

philosophy is critical of these things:
domination in institution
democracy is elites that are accountable for most people
of powers, which are not accountable to people
– ?, notes are quite unreadable

Current thoughts:
I like the guy because he speaks a common language and lives in New York, but everything he said was obvious.

Well, one interesting thing is “domination in the institution”. I don’t remember what he said, but the idea that all institutions are coercive, having a force. Chomsky and Assange say this too. Veblen finds the point where in the process of the development of society where force is first displayed: when the men of the amiable societies begin to war. That single force effects all of society. Forever! Well, until society learns to become amiable again. Naturally toward post-politics. Or some large-scale disaster.

But that’s hard when the rich are accustomed to be comfortably rich. And that the world has already been materially stratified, with slums to skyscrapers.

Maybe the problem is comfort. Travelers travel the world as if it were the apocalypse. The world is equally comfortable. The comfortably rich need to be shaken. If Katrina hit mid-town and Silicon Valley, maybe people would have woke up.

Avital Ronell:
This lady read way too much philosophy.

chaos
“the other” – can never understand others, so should not violate with my sense of understanding, let it live.
should always feel ethically, one does not do enough, never content

current thoughts:
The two points again is a kind of post-politics, autonomous society, where everyone is respected and appreciated.

The second point is nice to hear, and confirm, as I am never content, and try to never compromise. Is contentment synonymous to comfortable? Interestingly, she appeared quite content in her walk around the park.

Peter Singer:
developed city
– ethical issue of just living there. People should see moral problems.
– money, consumption, saving poverty (with money)
– “obligation to help people in starvation”
– can’t justify eating meat
– think of what to choose from another’s position
– neglecting not using money

current thoughts:
More obvious ideas.

I absolutely agree with the ethical issue of just living in a developed country. It’s probably why I watched so many foreign films when I was younger. Constant reminder is needed to keep life in check.

His resolution is naiive and possibly detrimental.

To think from another’s position, people have to live in a less developed society. After a certain time, people won’t choose to. Then they have to be forced to.

Kwame Appiwe:
think between evolve to globalization
– we are good at face-to-face stuff, family, few people, can we figure out how to be responsible to everyone?
– problem of globalizing cultures
– recognizing other’s moral values is having a moral nature
– not just responsible for zoo people (don’t quite remember what “zoo people” is)
– cosmopolitanism – can’t retreat to a few people and base moral on them, but also can’t abandon them, either learn to do both (or not?)

current thoughts:
Again, the question of politics vs post-politics, but phrased interestingly. [todo: think more]

The third point just boils down to appreciation, no forcing one’s values to another. This runs into the second point, that when the world globalizes, cultures face each other, and this is where complex interactions occur. Like when a person in a bamboo hut is introduced to modern technology, and media. Things in New York seem fine though. People sort themselves out with ethnic enclaves, or mold in hipper areas.

Cosmopolitanism is probably what every second generation child goes through with their parents, a la the film Tokyo Story, or just what every artist goes through when they move to a city. It fits my ethic of leaving traditional societies alone. But when the society to be left alone is wasteful, this poses another problem.

Martha Nussbam
foundation in Aristotle’s theory of justice
– job of good political arrangement
– to provide each person with what they need to become capable to live a flourishing human life; Supporting human capability.

social contract
– think about people with disabilities
– people get together out of love to create the world as good as it can be.

current thoughts:
Again, utopian post-politics. It’s a nice reoccurring confirmation. I really disliked this lady. Stereotype professor, no novel ideas at all. Her basic ideas are found in the most ancient of books. Not based on experience at all.

I agree, everyone should be provided the tools to do the best they are capable of. Someone said, perhaps Singer, that instead of thinking it as another person dying, think of it as lost talent, innovation.

The helping disabilities bit fits well with the first point: to make all people as capable as possible.

The third point is social construction based on utopia, which I agree with.

Cornell West pt. II:
Hah, I think I just like him because he’s conversational.

lover of wisdom
not school
courage
to philosophize is to die
truth as way of life

reality
listen to artists too
– aesthetic pleasure
*socially isolated yet more alive than the people on the streets

current thoughts:
I’m guessing the interviewer asked what a philosopher is.

“to philosophize is to die” is a phrase that comes to my mind too. It’s a social death. “socially isolated yet more alive than the people on the streets” was nice to hear while being filmed on the streets.

‘Listening to artists’ is something I didn’t realize ’til quite late in life. Probably because I didn’t socially die ’til a late time in life. I was the artist. I kept an eye on the forms and aesthetic of others, but didn’t see it as a way of something that people create as an action in life during a certain point in time and place.

Michael Hardt:
Democracy is rule of all by all
– age 20s in the 1980’s went to Latin America to see revolutions, politics, all he felt he could do was observe*
– better to revolt in the U.S.
– would U.S. lose or gain?
– Go to ??? and start an armed cell. Practically did not know how. Guns, etc.? Don’t know how to conduct a revolution.

current thoughts:
More post-politics.

The first point sounds like me in Taiwan.

The second point is really good. It’s better to revolt in the U.S. because it affects the rest of the world so much. [todo: lose or gain?]

After coming back from travel to the U.S., I had to make sense of the world. The idea of having such a guerilla-style revolution doesn’t seem right in a developed country because it contradicts it so much. Whereas if one were closer to nature, on a farm, it feels more possible. It’s a problem of adaptation. It’s like creating a very weird art that no one understands. The problem isn’t the idea, it’s that it deviates so far from current societal norms, and that makes it more difficult to make reality of.

Zizek:
My favorite. He’s also quite popular, not complex, but at least his ideas are based on cognitive biases (“wired to act”, which leads to poor decision-making, especially in developed societies. It also feels that he’s got some experience traveling. Thus far, it seems all of the others are Americans that haven’t been outside of it. Zizek has the philosopher-traveler feel. A bearded friend on an old couch constantly disgusted at the world, and directly interacts with the world. Perhaps the least academic found in this film.

Problem with world. We don’t see everything, i.e. trash, (or people dying).

temptation for meaning
– natural to interpret to make something simple; but really it just happens

the existing world is the best possible world

against science?

alienated from natural environment

Know, but not act upon it. Should visit sites of catastrophe.* It’s unimaginable we are not wired to act on it. Should learn to love the artificial, love trash, oil, animals, etc.

current thought:
The first thought is the core of all social problems. Related to the distance between humans, it is a basic cognitive bias. Humans will take bad actions, even if they have the knowledge of it [todo: link zizek review, known knowns etc.]. [todo: requires a lot more thought]

Finally a little cognitive science. Indeed the brain tries to abstract detail into digestible ideas. [todo: think more]

This is the first time I’ve heard the third idea. This is very interesting to think about at any point of time, in history, present, and future. That humans overall try to create the best societies and altogether, the best world, and this is what has come so far. [todo: think more]

He’s against science? Did Zizek fail to notice the history of science (and technology) and how it affects the world? Or does he blame the hierarchy required to upkeep it?

I agree with being alienated from the natural environment. The suburbs is the opposite of nature, and this idea is the only reason I can think of people are able to live between house, office, and Walmart.

I agree with the catastrophe bit. People need to directly experience things to orient their mind correctly.

People should love trash, oil, animals, and the natural resources which are naturally dirty. Perhaps it is the adaptation of comfort when people being to fear “getting dirty”

Judith Butler:
Don’t think about ???
– SF is accessible, public transportation, curve cuts, buildings -> social acceptability*
– social repression of people: aversion to others, limited housing, carer(?), socially isolated*
– did not feel she could get coffee
– help is something we all need, though we look down upon it*
– what can a body do?
– where is the backlog(?) of human?
– human as site of interdependency
– want to organize the world based on all those things

current thoughts:
I really like that they are walking and rolling (I’m scientific) around San Francisco. Always good to think about urban planning for all people. This lead to my own ideas of how the material world can socially isolate or bring people together.

Far better than whoever that last lady was. Social repression is a huge problem often neglected. Not in the simple feminism, black people stuff, but the more seemingly slighter forms of neglect: being averse to others. To think that all of the blind and deaf people are in deaf and blind schools and probably rarely go far from it because they are socially isolated. I wish they pervaded society. San Francisco probably is the place where I encountered the largest range of people: several forms of disabilities, disabled veterans, bums in the tenderloin, along with the hippies, yuppies, and in-betweens. It’s indeed quite a refreshing place to be. New York can sometimes be ruthless in comparison.

“help is something we all need, though we look down upon it”. This is so true, and a core characteristic of community.

Lastly, again, confirming the social construction based on one’s utopia.

Cornell West pt. III:
Hi again! :)

Romanticism
– is harmony possible? Beethoven learned to look at darkness and still have it.
– Blues starts with not caring for harmony, ride on dissonance.
– Time is lost on romanticism, keep fairing(?), play, the experience, never reach meaning, die without meaning

current thoughts:
Philosophers’ aesthetic taste is as old as they are. None of them have seemed to experience modern forms of art.

I like the third idea. To just keep playing, progressively learning, in constant search for meaning, dying without ever finding it. This constant love for wisdom but inability to be content.

Overall:
I think the film did well in it taking place in developed societies, to show the contrast of the philosopher’s ideal society and the world they live in.

I think all of the philosophers fail in bringing any complex (in art, science, or logic) or novel ideas up, including solutions, which is also where the film excels — I wish 10 minutes were give to every smart person so that one could easily gauge other’s creativity.

The film also works because all of their ideas point toward the same similar idea: post-politics (autonomy, etc.). The problem is that not a single one gave a solution. They didn’t say, displace the entire middle class of developed societies, trade office employees with people from developing countries, remove superfluous jobs in developed countries, assassinate business magnates and distribute the wealth, stop buying products, sit on the streets, disrupt society. And that’s probably what differentiates academic philosophers and artists or revolutionaries. They don’t even say, innovate, use science and technology to consume less and spread more knowledge. None used any kind of empirical science to deduce their ideas, though, I guess that’s what continental philosophy is. Philosophy is a temporary phase. They’ve all spent too much time in philosophy world. They’re out of touch. They don’t see the empirical data. Only Zizek seems to have empirically gathered enough data in his mind to create ideologies of human nature. Perhaps pop academic philosophers have a place, like Jon Stewart has his, but it shouldn’t be honored. Academic philosophers are oxymorons. They say that the ideal is a community, but they aren’t a part of it. They are neither scientists nor artists. These people are unimportant. Likable, but unimportant, in that, they have nothing novel to say, and more importantly, do.

Leave a comment | Categories: Film Reviews, Philosophy

Oral Culture and the Speed of Decision-making

16 January 2015 by Rahil

Talking is a creative action based on a decision. The brain pieces grammar together with words that contain ideas.

Oral culture is therefore more creative, because one is talking more and reading less. People speak books.

The life of a person in a society with oral culture is far more creative than the life of a person in a society affected by writing.

The oral person has less dogmatic knowledge, more empirical knowledge.

When a society has an oral culture, propaganda cannot exist.

How do judicial systems work? Are juries the law? That’s a problem, but it seems paper laws made more problems, or are ignored and not enforced altogether in the case of the US.

Should education be conducted completely orally? Meaning, the teachers do not refer to texts.

Every class would be unique.

Without a foundation, would there be a problem with solidarity and nationalism?

I don’t think so.

It should always be up to the person to create a unique path of experience, then be able to communicate one’s experience to relate to another.

From the Wikipedia article on Orality:

In oral cultures, concepts are used in a way that minimizes abstraction, focusing to the greatest extent possible on objects and situations directly known by the speaker.

[todo: requires way more thought. This is interesting though! Slowly getting to the laziness of written cultures.]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Philosophy

The Speed of Decision-making

16 January 2015 by Rahil

Rationality and irrationality are associated with slow decision-making and fast decision-making respectively.

Slow decision-making is strategic, like a military officer in an office with a map of the world, all of the battles pinned on it.

Fast decision-making is leads to the fastest action, and therefore is far more creative. Creative in the sense that more thoughts are created, and the ratio of them being acted is high. There is no “think before you speak”, just do it.

The balance of the two is the most important skill in life.

For one can be indebted to a single job for eternity before a causal agent shifts the human. Or one could travel manically until one dies from making an error in decision on something that affects survival, such as eating the wrong plant.

Too slow and it becomes possible to create apathetic suburbs in countries too large to have a sense of community.

Too fast and it becomes possible to create cities to dense, too much stimuli, that one become addicted to the stimulus, and is unable to spend the time to partake on a large project, read a book, or listen to anyone else.

Slow decision-making is needed for the rigors of science.

Fast decision-making is needed for the charitable works toward humanity.

Slow occurs in high-level academia.

Fast occurs in ground-level organizations.

Therefore,

Slow is theoretical.

Fast is practical.

Are big ideas necessary?

Knowledge has certainly progressed since savage times.

Who’s to blame, the brain or the hands?

Doing one without the other is the problem.

Revering one and not the other is another problem.

Every organization needs brains and hands of equal status.

[todo: ended here?]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Philosophy

Large and Small Communities

13 January 2015 by Rahil

A thought from a paper:
Shouldn’t one be in the place where the largest decisions that affect the world are? The cities? Where post-politics exist?

New York? You could build a protest against imperial wars on several countries, or just block wall st., and destroy the global market.

Post-politics exist in small communities too — artist colonies, shared dwellings, rural communities, small towns. Is that enough?

It’s enough for the community; It’s self-sufficient. What about the rest of the world?

Is a larger community better than a smaller one?

It’s more diverse, has more materials, has more population density.

Diversity combines disciplines, leading to more creativity.

Materials contribute to creativity, knowledge of material and through material. Need to learn to manage material consumption and personal creativity.

More population density means more people. More people affect more people, in a utilitarian way. Need to learn to manage social relationships. Need to excite new projects? Only social projects excite me. More active, social, language learning, pleasure, happiness. More management of people. Urban planning and community involvement. From small neighborhood to the entire city.

More people, more fun, more experience, more knowledge of people (human nature, history, culture, etc.), more creativity, more with similar knowledge to create specific communities, more knowledge of media, more knowledge of technology.

More things means a more chaotic development. More likely to distract, and lead to art. Conversely, likely to work quickly toward more immanent problems, without over-planning, resulting small positive steps. Social art make people aware, and react socially. Politics?

A large community can support people in more specific ways, allocating the work to others in a community, as opposed to relying on the limited few within.

Should large communities exist? [todo]

It seems a more ascetic lifestyle would lead to more rational, science, at the cost of detachment, leading to societal problems.

Leave a comment | Categories: Sociology

DIY Ethics in Developing Countries

12 January 2015 by Rahil

From New York and Taiwan:

Creativity in developing countries can also lead to practical applications, useful technology. In a developed country, technology seems to have passed the needs of humans. Each individual could live with 50 things or less. Living with less would increase the chance of creating something useful. If it is useful to someone with less, it is likely be useful to the rest.

Therefore, I believe creating in a developing country may be better for artists, humanists, innovators, hippies, and, perhaps, anyone of age. With the internet, it is easy to catch up current sciences and aesthetics. Being a part of a human rights community would surely lead to more practical technology. If one has time, one can continue creating high aesthetic art with a unique perspective, likely more political. Though, it may be difficult without a community, such as those that exist in cities.

I don’t think Taiwan suffers from much human rights problems to the level of developing countries. It seems they’re gotten rid of most of the bad things. But it’s quite possible for me to take a very cheap flight to Indonesia for empowerment, which could be conducive to practical innovation. Though, perhaps the same could be said for Central America.

From a paper:
Can create in nature, using current knowledge and technology.

Starting from nothing, bottom-up, help communities beginning at the lowest level, going toward higher rungs of society. One could ask for money from government for civil projects.

The only requirements are cheap food — rice and vegetables — electricity, internet, and DIY tools to build new architecture, gadgets (design and technology), etc.

Though in the beginning, in nature, this life may be perceived as ascetic, technology allows one to affect society, even generate wealth.

Leave a comment | Categories: Ethics

Urban Planning for Solidarity

12 January 2015 by Rahil

A somewhat continuation of The Power of Public Transportation.

Though transportation is most important, people still need to feel they can get around each town, even indigenous village, with some convenience.

Hiking stops:
For those less developed regions, I think it would be fun to build something between a hostel and a gazebo, so both native people and travelers can take rest. The exterior of the building should be similar to a gazebo, with an open view, but have an area that is blocked from weather to sleep in. The interior should contain minimal bedding (including mosquito net), clean water, a washing bin, a rice cooker, rice, and a first-aid kit. If the path is only accessible by hiking, than it should be at the distance of a half-day’s hike. If the path is accessible by road

Each building is a new architecture project, a new design, influenced by the environment, and the designer.

Roads and towns are probably often created because a commodity existed there in some time in the past. Or the location was good for trading. Or perhaps just a bunch of people pushed somewhere and left to settle. Or in modern times, the city is planned for science.

In the knowledge society, this matter less. But even knowledge societies depend on the commodities that become manufactured from other countries.

Not sure where this was going…

from a paper:
Encouraging communal life by creating n accessible transportation and sleeping system.

Is the current train and metro system enough? Are scooters enough? People can sleep at railway stations with little hassle. People can also sleep nearly anywhere outside, though mosquitos will come.

Tainan’s bus system is infrequent. Taipei’s is great.

Does it benefit to have access inland? That will develop naturally as more resource points are needed.

What about building places to sleep? Are the hostels enough? Should they reach further toward nature? What can be benefitted from access to nature? Is there more science to be conducted closer to nature? More chaos? What is there in mountains, trees, rivers, and the countryside? Leisure? Hippie life — natural foods, natural entertainment, simple lifestyle.

Leave a comment | Categories: Urban Planning

Lost Survival Values and a Proposal

11 January 2015 by Rahil

I’ve been having a recurring daydream in the suburbs of getting in a car crash. I should really get of this place…

If people generally tend to go from survival to self-expression values, matching the notion of tending to self-organize toward more specific interests, then there is a loss of survival values.

I the TV show Connections, our dependence on the history of science and technology is clearly shown.

What I feel at loss are some of those primitive survival values. When a car crashes another, the people watch without knowledge of what to do, save, call for someone with specific knowledge.

I propose everyone should be taught more than CPR in their health and physical education classes. They should be taught how to heal a wound, administer a shot, find clean water, cook grains, find a shelter, swim, make fire.

Even in the developed world, I think these matter. One does not need to wait for an apocalypse. Cars crash. Planes crash. Bikers get car doored. Travel plans could blunder. Machines sever limbs. People become emotional and cause damage. People think of it less in the developed world, and in doing so, forget to emphasize the importance of learning these skills.

When I am in a developing country, there is a feeling of safety that the mass amount of people around me will take care of me if something happens. When I am in a developed country, I fear they will stare or move on with their busy lives.

Perhaps this is another personal step to a more communal life. Self-recovery is a characteristic of autonomous societies.

Leave a comment | Categories: Sociology

The Limits of my Language

11 January 2015 by Rahil

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world…The subject does not belong to the world, but it is a limit of the world…About what one cannot speak, one must remain silent” – Wittgenstein

Related Wikipedia article: Linguistic Determinism.

After much travel, and when trying to write, I found it near impossible to write what I understood of the world because my linguistic ability was primitive. But I believe thought comes before language.

And when reading other’s writings, I feel the same way. There is too much lost in communication.

Historians go back in time discovering people who had first thought of a certain idea, in their language, in their words of the time, in their art. People understand a lot. It’s just never written down clearly. The idea of linguistic determinism surely started before Wittgenstein, but there just happens to be a lot of research on him, and therefore his name appears first on the Wikipedia article. Perhaps someone thought it before Aristotle. Some mute person.

Humans are time-limited machines. We are currently better than machines at organizing data.

When I think of New York City. I think of an infinite amount of information that I actually have, of ethnic enclaves, buildings, waterways, shops, streets, people, interactions, technology, places of art, places of education, districts, and so on.

Just walking through it is enough.

I think about how I could live in Sunset Park, a Chinatown. How Chinatowns are developed autonomously by Chinese immigrants. How hipsters use the low cost of living to start businesses and studios on a nearby street. How the Chinese parents came here to provide an education for their children. Their children enjoying the knowledge of New York, while satisfied with the simple pleasure of eating Korean fried chicken.

I think about the millions of useless jobs, especially related to government (and those that Veblen said: religion, sports, education). How that money is paid by imperialistic wars.

I think about the millions of immigrants working long hours at restaurants and lower paid jobs to merely pay for rent, the concept of which seems feudal.

I watch a homeless Asian lady live off of the plastic bottles she snatches from trash cans [for non-recycables], and think of the culture that built such a humble nature. Her belongings in her cart. Her routes determined by experience. Her home under the bridge with the rest.

Hipsters in Williamsburg create commercial works for companies for big money, and to feed their creativity. The Financial district, a ghost town except during lunch.

The Orthodox Jews and their families between Williamsburg and Bedford. Very familial, traditional. Their synagogue reminds me of my childhood temple.

The artists that know all of this, trying to better society, but can only react to all this external stimuli by making art outside of the institutions, and for the most part, the city.

This is only a bit of what I think of now, being away for five months. A page can’t describe a city. I think of a lot more once I’m in it. Yet even when I’m in it, it’s still impossible to describe it.

To describe New York, one would need to understand all of the people in it, their cultures and history, the history of the city itself, the government, American culture, all up to its current state.

Some people organize the knowledge into small subjects. Some people make art that reflects it, which allows other people to gain knowledge from it.

Jane Jacobs wrote some urban planning ideas about her experience in New York. But even to write ideas about urban planning, one must know of the people in it, and their cultures, and their traditional ways of living.

All we can do is observe, gain a bit more knowledge, and act upon it, or not.

Leave a comment | Categories: Epistemology

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