Rahil

Category Archives for: Metaphysics

Japan

30 November 2016

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Fuck Japan

Fuck Japan.

That’s all I got.

Fuck Japan.

Perhaps the reason I never thought to talk to others when I lived in suburban America, anyone nearby, as I did during much of my 20s [and perhaps childhood], is because I simply wasn’t interested in the others. Japan [Japanese culture] has altered my behavior to not be interested in other people. As I [just earlier] peered through the express train’s window as it was rushing me toward the airport, perhaps the first time I’ve taken an express transport whilst having time, I didn’t care what is inside those buildings, those giant apartment complexes, the curtained shops, or traditionally-achitected homes.

Fuck ’em.

And here’s why

And here’s why:

Japanese culture has these characteristics: exclusive, unwelcoming, stingy (mentality, monetarily, and urban design), unhospitable (no hospitality), extremely organized (/obessissively), cold (temperature and feeling), robotic (rule-based automoton behavior), unwilling and no desire to learn (beyond what was learned to survive in an individuals tiny social unit), ie (家, socially seperated into tiny social units, nepotism), instrumentally reasoned toward survival and comfort, and overall, inhospitable (uninhabitable)… [todo: add more charactersitics]

Much of it overlaps with (rich?) suburbia. The simple, I’m surviving (living), why do / learn anything else? Why care about what other people / cultures / minds think? It’s a classic social problem: closing of the mind, habituation.

[todo: give examples to all characteristics?]

more thoughts from right now (maybe overlaps with notes)

When a society develops, it develops materially too. It industrializes, organizes, constricting creativity and freedom. It organizes what you eat (taste), see, feel, and do. Japan has narrow taste in all aspects: food, design, fashion, textures, images, and so on. When one doesn’t fit what the local culture has organized the material to, then one has to go back, to raw materials, and create it, from scratch. Cook, design anew, make. I almosted needed to, to survive it. Perhaps that’s how cultural neighborhoods form in cities: a desire to make the material world according to one’s own taste shaped by past cultures.

/

One may wander, how such a narrow-minded society became rich? Robots are good at making (barely creative) products, and that’s a much wanted commidity for most of the world. Well-made cars, house appliances, farming equipment. Automate work needed for survival, automate the process to make the machines, then sell it. That’s the limit of Japan’s intelligence. It never quite gets to actually creating information, ideas, new ways to live, new ways to help others. The ultimate Japanese society is the present one: it already reached it’s end.

The small social unit idea works (is successful) for the same reason a specialized machine works: it is a machine, it was made to work.

/

A thought from earlier today:
Japanese people are not good at playing games; Games play them. They are good at abiding rules (being obedient), but not playing (in any sort of creative sense). They work within rulesets, similar to their small social units / knowledge / life. They can “play” a calculative arcade music rhythym or card or fighting “game”, but they will fail in any one that rewards creativity.

An older recurring thought:
Japanese society is exactly the one depicted in Wall-E. It really is that dystopian. People aren’t fat, but people do go from one place to another while watching a screen in their box cars, eat CalorieMate (a “nutritious” block of food), and consume addictive substances without the bad stuff (Coke zero, Strong zero, cigarettes with devices that remove the smell?, etc.).

notes from papers and text files written during the trip

ordered from past to present:

1

the Fablab charter is similar to my own: of allowing the public access to tools to enable people to make [almost] anything,– but making is such a small part [subset] of doing (performing, teaching, work, etc.).
.
at the lab I realize the reasons I made or did anything [in the past] was for poltiical [/personal] reasons: I wanted to alter the behavior of people {not true, there were many motives: bring awareness to society, or simply just to spend time with people whilst being productive – whatever productive may be in my mind during a time and place} . Making a sign {for the no vehicles in market areas idea} was just a small part of a solution to do so. That’s all it ever is {That’s all fablabs are able to do}. It’s not an end. It’s just an enabler for making stuff {, materially}.
.
Outside the lab {Fablab Dazaifu}, there is one large panchinko parlor and duplicate apartment complexes. Such a boring place! Only the lab is homey. Perhaps all indoor spaces are homey. But the problem is that most are exclusive.
.
I should try to make something at each space, but, as I said, I need a political / personal motivation.
– {I felt that being at a space would be no use without a reason / motive. A desire to do something for society is needed, then one goes to a space to work something out, but I had zero care for Japan’s society.}
.
[todo: to blog]
$Fab labs, like hotels contain great people, like [censored name]. People at service for others, for the community.
.
But the problem of fab labs, or most spaces, like departments at a school, is that they are narrow
– {mmm, thus, every space is too narrow, not enough diversity (of minds). That seems to be a recurring problem of mine. Whatever space I go to, it is a gathering of similar interests, as opposed to a set of random people. What kind of space has that?: A household? Shared living? Co-living spaces.
in ideology / culture / mind – they tend to make the same things (was thinking of things same things all fab labs make). The goal is to invite others to participate. It’s a good start. It’s still an open, public space, like a public garage.
– {hmm, that really is all it is. Make a garage public. Host events at home. Isn’t that how the internet was created?}
.
Still, I can’t live here – I am not motivated / living in Japan’s society.** I need a society that I love in order to make stuff for it** (Jiufen’s Spirited Away idea, urban interventions, etc.).
– {love reciprocation idea [todo: etch this out later]}
.
[todo: to blog]
In Japan, people do the work, they do what’s needed to survive the longest [and to maximize comfort]; In Taiwan, people care for the ideas, talk about it, but not worry much about the age they will die {, or doing things – implementing ideas.}
.
[todo: to blog]
$In Japan, people [only] care for their culture, only focus on their own narrow culture’s desires; In Taiwan, they’re open to other cultures and ideas – for aboriginals and foreign cultures – , thus they develop more unevenly, but accordingly for / to each culture – thus it is free, open.

Japan is singular. There is only Japanese culture; Everything else is “other”, rejected.

Laws exist. Social pressures are strong. It is difficult, unlawful, unfaithful, un-family-like to go against the grain.

Taiwan doesn’t care much for culture, other than langauge and ideas (including knowing their own social history). Thus, Taiwan is more ideal, but in reality may not seem so; Japan seems ideal, especially statistically, but in reality is dystopian.
– {It’s as if Japan designed their society and actually abide the design. There is no human element, no natural feelings to disrupt it.}
.
but comfort and long survival come at a cost of material commodities. Japan accumulates capital to build the most comfortable, convenient place. Taiwan does not care much for comfort – they care for just living on by doing whatever they’ve become habituated to do – craft, cook, all is okay to live such a lifestyle, even if it does not improve survival or comfort.
– {The cost of material commodities being human labor and the destruction of nature; It’s the difference between living in a shed in Taiwan and a fully-equiped apartment in a high rise in Japan.}
– {Though Taiwan doesn’t care much for comfort of the body, they’ve somehow created the most comforting, hospitable culture.}

2, 11/3/16

Japan is super-developed. Almost no nature {to be found}. Farms, well-planned, land intensely used. The world has been dominated. They win. Really get that Takahata theme felt. It seems (appears) that the mountains may sitill have natural areas {Maybe. Or maybe those trees were planted too.}. The farming villages next to mountains are beautiful {in a rustic aesthetic sense}, but completely planned out like Sim City. Capital is planned for. Efficient capital and work. No life. No experience.

Japan, well, Kyushu’s largest festival (Karatse Kunchi [Nagasaki Kunchi too?]) provides the only lively feeling in Japan. Steets closed, kids wander large areas and play. A ton of vendors sell food at stalls. Expensive now, but a glimpse of the past, less developed times – a diferent lifestyle, similar to present Taiwan, or other Southeast Asian markets. {Teenagers and men alike get drunk, equally unable to hold their liquor; A glimpse of the repressed hedonism.}

[todo: worded / recalled differently – X]
Japan’s society is ordered like ants; Taiwan’s allows freedom? Taiwanese people appear to be hippies compared to Japanese people!

Japan planned their economy and followed it obediently. | It worked for commodities (products) for the moment (period of time) in the past, but now, they lack the creativity to excel, which only exists with good, diverse, dense places and a culture that interacts and plays.

Japanese peoples’ bodies move robotically, following straight-forward structure and routine, but what about their minds? They act according to material – capital-rational, but their minds escape through childish images of characters, manga, anime, and digital worlds. It’s a utopia for the body – isn’t that the ideal? Keep the bodies comfortable, through convenience!; But minds keep working, don’t they? They act culturally-economically {group consensus or for capital), not making decisions creatively, or finding different ways to live, rather, following old ideas, and making them a concrete reality.

Taiwan communicates well, but Japan works well – obediently, robotically.

Japan’s work ethic is that of a lone tinkerer, working on ever smaller parts. Their society full of cogs / boxes, a larger one working on smaller ones.

split with Atsushi at Kagoshima harbor

Sleep / nap. feels for [censored name] still linger. Human contact? Atsushi [todo: check name] split, allows me to think beyond destined-travel. This country is too cold to do anything, or feel like doing it. Long daydream of being president, conversation with Jon Stewart, life as president, morals, social development, etc., stars freely go in and out, as do friends.

I need her [ambiguous her]… I just want to live.

Ideas over the past few days:

Sensory deprivation caused by cold and loss of sight via sleeping bag over head inside a tent beneath dreary weather.
– Also leads to depression, oversleep, etc. Just to maintain homeostasis.
– Less sun power to enhance sight.

$ Daydreams as conversation imagined – example: president / Jon Stewart day dream, wedding speeches, etc…. media-oriented, written-oriented can be generalized to sign-oriented – using signs as basis of rational decision-making. Look at nutrition facts, not the food (CaloriMate, coffee, cola zero, cigarettes, alcohol zero, etc.). Look at hitchhiker’s sign, not (not understanding) the thumb. Look at maps, not reality. Look at the phone, not reality. Design on canvases, not {on} reality.
|
Japan designed an efficient society devoid of life.
$ – The material of Japan is designed / developed. So it feels ideal / others ways of life are impossible; though it is just of the mind.
|{?}
[next idea / argument]
Japanese culture is rational through signs, therefore:
$ * It rationalizes toward capitalism, survival, and comfort (when under capitalism).
$ * Money-actions are not creative: it is not creative to buy something, there is an infinite amount of things to do {/ one can do}, and it all starts with communication ({ideas, talking, }games, play too!).

Japan makes me feel capitalistic-rational, ad opposed to communicative-creative, free-rational (of Taiwan).
|
Creativity (communication, education, ideas, information, etc.) pays. Commodities (form, manufacture) really is old money.

Japan is stuck in the 80s / 90s in development, material, social, fashion, ethic, culture, politics, etc.
– They wear business suits without reason, uniforms, work without reason, all old ideas, no thought, only manufacture.

Japan is completely developed. Farms mechanized. People fit to property.

$ Property fixed, deemed (/ pedestaled) by culture [cool argument]; Leads to a fixed society in time and space.
– {Because the culture is so private and exclusive, those with property seem keep and / or gain wealth even more easily: coin laundries, restaurants, hotels, etc. There are probably too many laws and policies for people to start their own businesses to compete, and, furthermore, is probably not even thought of due to cultural reasoning. Since all material on the property is designed by some collective consensus, there is little change to the material world. No gentrification, but no creativity for capitalism either. Just creating capital for survival, not experiences.}

$ Although Taiwan is less developed materially, social organizations [maybe not needed?], healthcare, etc., it is more developed in the mind. It skipped commodity-capital-rational that post-war Japan and Korea had, instead, it relies on service (time spent together: tourism), information, education – because social development is more important than material organization.

Japan’s (culture) repression crosses to sex (porn), drugs (cigarettes and coffee), and probably hard drugs and prostitution. These are used out of addiction / need, not fun / social as in America. They are used to replace social activity – to ease the mind, perhaps to artificially move some brain cells (inhibitors, etc.).

Fukuokan women spent time and money on beauty. Beautiful {in appearance} through daily work. {Ugly in ethical make-up.}

Only [censored name], [censored name], and maybe [censored name] seem normal {to me}.

Mostly mothers with children hitched? me a ride. They care. Have time. Not super work-oriented. Move at the speed of life. In time with life. They care for those that feel cold as they do their children. They are human [something here?], unlike their cold male counter-parts. The male drivers know nothing apart from their specific jobs, barely able to drive, and completely unaware of their surroundings, no care for proximal society {, or even other people}.

Perhaps all of socio-cultural Japan occurs though the internet via written language – jobs, sex, talk, etc. Nothing is physical-oral. And I am only looking at and listening to the physical-oral reality, not caring for written language, therefore it may be impossible for me to understand their mind, decision-making, thought, ideology, education, etc.
– {I was unwilling to read. That’s too boring. Too unsocial.}

Manga / drawing as a way of communicating, because they live so much less, that they must use {simplified} images to convey {a} reality instead of words. They are out of tune with reality [reverses an old thought].

[$ todo: give up rural?]
Creativity / Osaka maybe the way out of this decades old society [/ culture].

Japan is only good as industrial machines – to manufacture / design a working product for comfort, longevity – traits [end goals] of Japanese society.

[The end for now. Look for farms. Then go to Osaka.]

at gas station waiting for hitch to Kumamoto

People who have time, and/or are more human pick me up: elderly (retired?), women (old and young. I feel the young ones often appear to look at my face to see if I am a female), young people (though maybe less have cars, using public transport instead). People who have cars are the suburban capitalists.
|
$ Suburban capitalists destroy the world without awareness (knowing). They were born into via place, time (, nearby culture), in capitalistic country, accumulate capital, waste the world in the process. The countries with wealth organized themselves to be better at gaining capital, but missed on human values (including value for nature).

To wait is to waste life. Suburban capitalists wait, city-goers create {keep creating}.

Japanese cars are shaped like Japanese houses, and the Japanese social structure: boxes, of various sizes, compounded together.

[idea:]
\[$\] Tools for anti-alienation (/ altering human-values / altering human behavior)
$$$ – tool / app for mothers to list / sell cooked food (servings left, cost, ingredients cost, etc.), unused ingredients, minimize food waste, increase human interaction, remove organized food (chain restaurants, {industrialized food products at super markets}, etc.).

By developing, Japan has organized their country to a few food items: ramen, sushi, fried food, etc. It over-uses those ingredients, because capitalism and property has created chain restaurants, super-market industrialized products, vending machines. Developing countries have a better food industry because the ingredients (raw food) has not been industrialized / organized. That explains my love for vegetable markets in Chinatowns {in American cities, Southeast Asia}, and Taiwan: you eat the raw food – no work in-between necessary. Food should not be organized. Eat what your country you live in grows.

another session, perhaps at the coin laundry store near the park

Sleepy, after afternoon nap, woke up at 5pm, feeling it a waste to hitchhike at night, missing the scenic beauty of Japan, but, perhaps worth it for the random experience. Cities and highways are boring anyway: repetitive suburbs, yet, I must see for myself – never know. Perhaps need to travel via Google Maps more. Maybe needed a day’s rest after that long bike ride. Fuck it. Let’s go. Nothing to do here, or at least it feels… Hmmm… can at least hitch out of Kyushu, perhaps Yamaguchi.

travel tips:
Kid’s playgrounds are attached to neighborhood parks and usually have bathrooms. 24-hour coin laundry shops can be found nearby, providing warmth, and maybe even an electrical socket or television.

Only with a bicycle (that I stole for a day) was I able to reach farms, land, non-concrete, with shrines and traditional, old houses that emanated an Yilan feel, cheap / fresh vegetables and ingredients too! {Finally a livable place.}

Hitching local roads at night (11pm–3am, until 8am) was near impossible, {perhaps especially} as a male, dark, non-Japanese. SAs / PAs vary from large sleepy truck stops to a tiny strip mall where few vehicles stop at, trapping hitchhikers on a highway island.

There is no interaction that occurs outside, aside form parks / playgrounds – that is all the “nature” people get in this super-developed world.

The mountains of Japan seem untouched, beautiful nature. Perhaps it is the best place to live?

The rural areas too are developed, unlike Taiwan’s tiny farms, there are large apartment complexes nearby, large greenhouses and farmland bunched together so that people cannot walk through, blocking human interaction / access to nature [for efficiency,] via urban planning. Farms need walkways (dirt!) through them.

Japan is the death of society / Societal death. Society has lots it’s life and exchanging it for longevity, comfort, convenience, health, safety.

It requires non-decision-making {non-thinking} robots to live in Japan (and the suburbs).

All real Japanese films take place at the house because nothing occurs outside of it. Miyazaki and Takohata are the saviors of this drab society, mindlessly destroying itself {yet, their own lives contradict the ones they depict in their films – they are not living on farms, they are sitting in studios in Tokyo etching out more animated films. At least, Miyazaki is.} Keichi shows the drab suburban reality best, with actual modernity as its setting – pachinko parlors, supermarkets, road, and only media {ex. history of trams} as a savior [escape] from it.

[probably written after glancing at a few manga books:]
Manga is still terrible. Narrow. More narrow than Hollywood films… I decided that in 6th grade {thinking of anime on Toonami on Cartoon Network}.

[todo: perhaps written twice]
A nurse said there is no need to learn English. It shows how insular Japanese culture is, and how uncaring for other societies and minds they are. | They are the American suburbs. | They were born into it, organized their lives {and their surroundings} according to it, and know nothing outside of it. A nurse! Does the nurse not care for how nurses act in other societies? Read their biographies?

80s / 90’s fashion in Japan in 2016 is funny. Levis jeans. High heels. Striped shirts. lol. Back to school sale?

– [break]

Maybe Japanese culture is OCD (about organization, cleanliness, health, etc.); It can’t handle disorder, nature, it must conquer it. Taiwan can handle messiness, more broader information via reality – they process information in the present; Japan relies on past, planned information – schedules, {designs}, etc.

Many lonely pangs. Dreams of any girl I’ve met recently – gold digging, gigalo, lots of sex. Japan is socially repressed, so I feel (socially and sexually) repressed too. Manga are probably the daydream and wet dreams of the society.

Lots of thoughts on food industry – and how it affects everything – farms, distribution, transport to supermarket, $ limited organization of food to fit culture, etc. It is vastly better to not organize food into meals – that’s a cultural problem.

I mentioned concrete. “Concrete jungle” should be applied to Japan and South Korea, perhaps moreso than tiny Hong Kong, because these jungles are much larger…

… the ’burbs have taken over all land. Earthquakes and vlocanic eruptions fight through concrete, but the car and road system is constantly repaired ot maintain order {human order, homeostasis of human order}. Here, it is easy to see the nature vs artificial themes of Miyazaki and Takahata films.

Perhaps the society communicated digitally, a digital social world. Nothing much occurs in reality; – How boring! Perhaps they create JRPGs to escape the boring reality of suburbia. They generate in-game capital as opposed to real capital. They don’t understand that they could live in a different way, as they live it through JRPGs / MMORPGs.

Drab.

I want to fuck and get money, like an animal, several times. Gold-dig. Just be a house-husband. That’s all. Take care of her, {her} body and mind, to allow her to efficiently do her work. Surely I can just use some kind of dating site for this? Or try living in a city. Osaka? Taipei? New York?

– [mini-break]
Japan’s social structure (ie) creates a very voyeuristic culture. They peer from within their cars, houses, {to the outside}, and into other’s cars, houses. | They don’t interact verbally, instead, they just look, judge, from appearance, and continue their programmed routine; making them shallow, as they don’t judge by mind.

– [mini-break]
I thought by coming to Japan, I would get to experience a culture that acts more upon reality, physicality. I got it. I just didn’t know that that kind of non-verbal-language-orientation would be so cold. I thought that much could be communicated through reality, actions. But they don’t {even} act! Perhaps, it is because I am not acitng. I need to be aggressive, or at least, just less passive then them. I need to {my normal} outgoing talkative {self}. But I don’t speak their language, nor care much for it. Hmm… I just have to be with them, next to them. No need for intense philosophical conversation, or travel questions. But they’re so {fucking} boring! At least, outside they are. Maybe inside, they are like [censored name] {act differently with people outside and within social relations}…Yeah, I just need to get active again, somehow, despite how being broke excludes me from most places. I need active people. I haven’t met a person similar to an active Taiwanese, or foreign traveler yet. Japan is so dead.

– [TV break]

Japanese people spend their life indoors, and by habit, have made the world feeel merely concrete to indoor places

internet readings

some random reading via Google, all read after the trip. Nothing deep or lengthy.

highlights from internet readings

some thing by Columbia

ROLES IN THE FAMILY

The fact that Japanese fathers in contemporary urban households spend so much time at work, and the company demands on them are so great, means that they often really have very little time or energy to spend with their children, and so not only does the responsibility for raising children, overseeing the education, fall onto the mothers, but fathers themselves are absent, removed, from the children’s lives.
– true. Only the mothers seemed human, and therefore picked me up as I hitchhiked.

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
One of the really interesting paradoxes about Japanese education is that you have a very rigorous, very intense educational system up to getting into college, and these very difficult entrance exams. And once students get into college, oftentimes people joke that college is the four-year vacation in a long and hard educational life. Once you’ve made it into college, you’ve made it to wherever you’re going to get educationally.
– true for Taiwan too, and probably much of Asia. It seems to be the problem of entering an exclusive social group. It’s ugly; They’re ugly.

GROUPS: INSIDE/OUTSIDE
Another important aspect of the way in which social relationships are structured in sort of the day-to-day interactions of people in Japan, is a strong consciousness of in-group versus outside-the-group boundaries. And this gets expressed in all kinds of settings.

Students are very conscious of the school they go to and the class within the school that they’re part of, and that forms sort of a shell, a social shell, that people who are within the shell are expected to interact with one another rather informally and rather intensely, and interact with people outside that shell, or outside that boundary, in a more formal, more distant, perhaps more hierarchical way.

So at schools, in families, there’s a clear distinction between who’s a member of a family and who’s not; in communities, there are clear distinctions between people who belong to the community and people who are outsiders; in companies, a very clear sense of division; in political parties; even in ethnic relations, relationships for example between Japanese and Koreans who live in Japan, the sense of insider versus outsider status.

THE IE AND GROUPS
It’s very difficult to say exactly why Japanese social relations take the form they do. Why are social relations hierarchical, or why is there a strong emphasis on in-group versus outside-the-group interactions? You couldn’t necessarily come up with an historical reason for this, but certainly there are parallels to other sets of social institutions. If you look at the traditional family structure, for example, the so-called ie, as it’s known in Japanese, it is a kind of a family, a kind of a kinship organization which puts a great premium on understanding hierarchy and rank, that every member of a traditional family stands in a very complicated set of relationships with every other member, but they can all be ranked in some kind of a hierarchical form.

So, for example, the eldest son occupies a social role that is quite distinct from a second or a third or a fourth son. The eldest daughter occupies a rank and position that is quite distinct from younger daughters. Certainly fathers and mothers occupy different ranks from their children and so forth. So, it’s a very hierarchically structured social unit, and some people would argue that that’s sort of a template for understanding why hierarchy is such an important part of Japanese social relationships.

In another sense, the fact that the traditional Japanese family system puts this great emphasis on defining sharply the boundaries between people who are members of the extended family and people who are going to have to leave — that is to say people who are going to become non-members in the future — is a social template for this emphasis on in-group, inside-the-boundary membership versus relationships outside or across a boundary to people who are not part of that social group.

CONSENSUS
Consensus is a well known part of Japanese social relationships. It seems, to an outsider at least, as if everything in Japan is decided by this sense of harmony and this sense that everybody has to agree. And there are all kinds of trivial examples that you can come up with, like if you watch a group of Japanese businessmen sitting down for lunch, it’s likely that everybody around the table will order more or less the same dish, and people point to that and say: “A-ha! this is a harmonious society; everything has to be equal.”

And indeed, Japanese talk a lot about how to preserve this sense of equality. One of the ways in which they do this is by making sure that any decision that affects a group as a whole is at least going to be circulated around and discussed amongst all its members. So indeed, Japanese organizations do often appear to have a much higher degree of consensus about policies, about aims, about aspirations, than would be true in an equivalent American group.

On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that Japanese inherently agree with one another, or that there isn’t conflict in society, but rather that conflict is managed within the group, and conflict is negotiated against other demands of personal interaction, personal social relationships. And eventually the goal is to, through conflict and through very carefully managed conflict, to come up with some kind of unified position that everybody can agree with.

from Wikipedia article for Nihonjinron:

Japanese social structures consistently remould human associations in terms of an archaic family or household model (家 ie?) characterized by vertical relations (縦社会 tate-shakai?), clan (氏 uji?), and (foster-)parent-child patterns (親分・子分 oyabun, kobun?). As a result, the individual (個人 kojin?) cannot properly exist, since groupism (集団主義 shūdan-shugi?) will always prevail.

further reading:

Social Concepts in Japan powerpoint by Keio, maybe for new foriegn students

book review of Japanese Society by Chie Nakane

It is advantageous for a man to remain in the group in which he starts his career and move up step by step in the course of time. It is very difficult for him to move from one group to another, because he can rarely succeed in breaking any of the vertical links already established between individuals in the other group.

Japanese organizations regularly suffer from what they call “sectionalism”

There are no successful functional groups built on a coalition or federation of subgroups.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Anthropology, Area, Art, Determinism and Free Will, Epistemology, Ethics, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Japan, Metaphysics, Personal, Philosophy, Political Economy, Political Philosophy, Rationalism, Rationality, Social Philosophy, Thoughts, Travel

Creativity, What Society Needs, and What Society 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 use local taro leaves to make Totoro umbrellas for free local use, and for tourists to buy or 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, taro leaf umbrellas, 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, of all the possible things one can do and lifestyles one can live, 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

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

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?

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Civics, Critical Theory, Ethics, Experience, History, Humanities, Literature, Metaphysics, Personal, Philosophical Movements, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Public Sphere, Social Philosophy, Travel, Urban Philosophy

The Public Sphere during the Second Sophistic

20 May 2016

[todo: Headers are mixed up. Complete todos / reorganize.]

Note: This post currently has a lot of thoughts digressing in many directions. My bad.

writing transcribed from a paper, then continued writing here:

Sophism, during/under Emperial [Imperial] Rome, does not seem bad. It focused on human affairs: everyday life, the management of it, during the largest expansion of the empire.

There was less theory, natural science. Sophists may have prioritized superficial rhetoric [style over content], but it also prioritized politics, economics, and social life — isn’t that what matters most?

sophist competition

What’s interesting [to me] is how sophists competed, individually. The educational institutions of Ancient Greece had already declined to their demise. Without institutions, sophists taught privately (in their own home, in their student’s home, or in another private place perhaps [reminds me of Taiwan]) and publicly (via lectures in public venues — bookshops, outside, temples, larger public venues [reminds me of New York]). It seems that sophists were basically artist-teachers, public-philosophers.

Unbound by institutions, they had to compete in the public of competitive cities, and to do so rhetoric (especially oration) skills were crucial. Spoken language was the medium of politics. Written, perhaps less so, except in the form of conversational letters or short treatises. It was a time of actuality, action; It opposed the sedentary writing of knowledge of the recent past (Classical Greek philosophy). What mattered most were contemporary events, not science, — How to maintain the empire.

real philosophy

It seems not much of the Second Sophists’ works have been read (not sure if lost or deemed unimportant; only one modern English translation of the primary source exists), but I imagine their writings are about action, process philosophy, being, Stoic ethics, whatever needed to get shit done. And because of this, I think this period of time is worth idealizing, looking into, of the intellectual life, everyday life, the mass and the mess of decisions and actions taken to handle the doubling of territory size, tripling the population, and all the cultural conflicts within.

This is real philosophy: The recording of communicative action. It opposes the categorizing, analytic kind synonymous to the Western canon, likely created by people under ideal societal conditions and/or in isolation, which in turn, was likely extended by engaging in dialectic with people in the past who wrote under similar conditions. The communicative actions, decided by the discourse between Emperors, orators (including sophists), and senators, decided the course, the political course, of the empire. “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. Sophers, however, changed it.”

[todo: compare this kind of narrow political communicative action philosophy to modern cumulative social philosophy which takes into consideration the cultural, economic, environmental spheres, in addition to the political.

Well, surely the Roman intellectuals tried to take as much into consideration, as much as they were aware of at the time, within the time constraint. Because they weren’t aware of too much socio-cultural problems, I mean they were killing “barbarians”, they simply continued taking action determined by political communication, which seemed to be to continue expanding the empire. That’s not good.

Anyway, I’m more interested in how the individual intellectuals near-directly influenced the politics of the empire, internationally and locally., not so much of the specific decisions they made; they were terrible.]

sophize, now!

So. How does one begin, uh, sophizing? Hold discussions in public venues for free. Topics can be chose by me, then later decided with whoever participates. The topics should be socio-political, and they should be related to the area the discussion takes place in. Duh. The dialectics should lead to action. If they do not, then I have failed sophizing.

[todo: how does this differ from normal community consensus decision-making?]

media vs oration, and toward the ideal stage in the normative development of societies

Forget artistic mediums of communication. Communicate [directly] to the public. This is a better method of beginning socio-political change. No institution is required. Neither is technology. Just simple language. The complexities of experience, epistemology, social philosophy (critical theory, cultural geography, environmental psychology, etc.), must be reduced to a simple communicable language.

[todo: But, the institutions are in power, nearly everywhere, in all forms: educational, research (science, technology), governmental, medical, urban, enforcement (police), punishment, etc. Can one simply ignore them?

Yeah, and that’s what’s appealing about the [period of] time: it’s simple, straightforward, non-beauratic. “Atticus, at one point in time, received up to three letters a day from Emperor Marcus Aurelius. (Wikipedia).” That’s an ideal to strive for: the frankness and transparency of the Romans. And that can only happen in a society with Stoic-like ethics (todo: link to Stoicism in Taiwan).

In the social structure contemporary society, to change any institution, either the institution internally decides to change, or the public sphere pressures it to change (assuming the public sphere has a voice and power). That change is far too slow, even if seemingly progressive. All contemporary institutions would collapse if it experienced a single year that Emperial Rome did.

In contrast, the minimal social structure of Emperial Rome was dynamic, flexible; its intitutions could handle huge changes. There were no educational institutions to collapse, just a bunch sophists (individuals and groups); and the political institution, probably just a bunch of sophists posing as senators, whom also dealt with outsider sophists. Because there weren’t many institutions, people had to make decisions for themselves, take their own directions.

This seems like an ideal point in the normative development of societies. Any more order, and the institutions will become too fragile. Any less order, and ? [todo; not sure: the society collapses?].

side notes

In contrast, Plutarch was more of a hermit, not competitive, at least not by the end of his life, where he only orated to close friends and family in his small hometown, and spent most time writing.

thoughts on the introduction chapter of Eshleman’s book:

There’s so much appeal in the Second Sophistic to me: it reminds me of my experience in New York; Most intellectuals were not part of an institution, because there there weren’t many; Therefore, there were no professional qualifications to control expertise (qualifications didn’t matter much). The intellectuals had to maintain their rhetoric abilities in order to prove they were currently legit (no guaranteed professor or government positions). To be recognized as legit, skilled peers must judge their skills positively: “game recognize game”. Likewise, ability to judge was a required skill, as it determined recognized skill levels. (Eshleman, introduction)

Eshleman tells of how reputation depends on [1] skill, [2] reputation of peers, [3] academic record, [todo: finish thought]

They simply gathered in public places to discuss. [todo: finish thought]

Does this not sound like any other competitive structure? Freestyle (rapping), fighting video games, breakdancing: a healthy competition amongst artists in the city.

Romantic Periods

Hmmm, you know, I think I have a kind of romantic view of these kinds of periods elsewhere: the Warring States period of China, the Edo period of Japan (maybe? It seems factions warred until they united somehow), Archaic Ancient Greece [todo: find modern social history books focused on these time periods]. These are periods where there were no institutions, no [social] structure, and people panicked and scrambled around a huge amount of territory, eventually thinking of the most original ways society could live: they created philosophical treatises — ethical treatises: writings to calm the mind during the wars (Zen Buddhism, Spartan ethics (?), Stoic philosophy), writings to allow society to try to live a good life (Confucianism, Virtue ethics [too early?]), the most original epistomology (Pre-Socratic Philosophy, Daoism). There was a ton of energy during these times, and it was the wise individuals’ (philosopher, [Japanese] monk (?), [second] sophist) views that was of importance; and the rulers needed and turned to those individuals for answers. [It was] Only after they created more structural things to control society, like legal doctrines (Chinese Legalists, Athenien Democracy) or social structures (Spartan Constitution), and then institutionalizing them, did people stop thinking so deeply. The [political and later, educational] institutions lulled the minds to a peaceful rest, narrowing all future thought (ideologies of institutions), of politics and of ethics.

In short, when societies develop a social structure and institutionalize them, thought is narrowed by the structure, including thoughts about how one lives.

[todo: possible quote: “Like a good many other Greek philosophers he took a prominent part in the affairs of his native state, and was appointed to draw up a code of laws for it. It is perhaps worth remarking that the professional and professorial philosopher, detached from the normal life of the state and society and entirely absorbed in the work of teaching or research within his philosophical college or community, does not appear in Greece before Alexander the Great…” — A. H. Armstrong, An Introduction To Ancient Philosophy, Pre-Socratics chapter (I think)

another possible quote: “The sedentary life–as I have said once before–is the real sin against the holy spirit” – Nietzsche, Ecce Homo]

Inclusion/Exclusion and the Transition from Oral to Written

“…the need to demarcate the boundaries of a group in which membership was highly desirable (at least in some quarters), but poorly defined and institutionally fluid. (Eshleman, introduction)” The need to demarcate [group boundaries] is a problem of the human need to organize, in this case, socially organize. Having no boundary is an ideal of social organization: all participation should be open to the public and voluntary.

“…the other end, Christopher Jones has shown that a decisive shift in taste was underway already when Philostratus wrote, away from the improvised declamations that he cherished as the hallmark of the Second Sophistic, and toward the more literary style exemplified by Aelius Aristides (Eshleman, introduction).” Perhaps that shift is most apparent between Cicero and Seneca. Cicero were very oral, known for his speeches, letters, dialogues, and short treatises, written by his shorthand-innovating stenographer Tiro. Seneca more literary, with long letters, essays, and dialogues. After societies develop their primary institutions, perhaps the primary medium [of communication] shifts from oral to written, from an active, often nomadic, way of communicating to a sedentary one. With less action (war) or more sedentarism, time becomes of less importance, and so communicative action in the form of oration decreases, as does the amount of decisions and actions taken, perhaps because the medium of writing is less persuasive than oration (todo: link to media and action).

Eshleman’s Thesis and My Conclusion

“For Christianity, meanwhile, this period was an age of ferment and experiment, in which the core institutions of later Christianity took shape, at least in rough outline. By the middle of the third century an extensive machinery of “orthodoxy” was being forged: a powerful clerical hierarchy, largely fixed scriptural canon, credal norms of interpretation, and increasingly well-theorized mechanisms of certification, for both lay believers and clergy (Eshleman, introduction).” In parallel, the thesis of Eshleman’s book now, the formation of the Christian identity and institutions went through a process strikingly comparable to the formation of the sophist identity and institutions: experiment, compete, define, structure, authorize, institutionalize. Social organization, whether philosopher, sophist, or Christian, all go through the same social processes.

[todo: But, must it? Must societies organize into a single culture and then institutionalize it? Economically, perhaps, to survive together. But culturally, no: culture is a separate sphere. And that’s the point: having multiple cultures, diversity in cultures, diverse individuals, and nurturing them results in more explorative energy. This is common sense in a small scale, like a progressive school, an art organization, but not-so-common sense on a large scale. That is, how does one stop the social process or societal development before self-definition; or, how does one reform to go back to that thriving experimental, competing stage of society?

This experimental stage [of society] seems to usually occur in the history of civilizations during much civil dispute (competition, which in ancient times often meant war) until one culture (including philosophy) wins and unifies the societies. [todo: incomplete thought]

Does society even want that? Harking Kahneman’s answer of robust vs anti-fragile: no. Society wants to be secure.

Then, within a culture, or better, a multi-cultural place, there is only one choice: to individually, or with group of people, compete, experiment, define, structure, live life, but never authorize or institutionalize it upon others. [todo: kind of repeated, what’s different? First is general, next is contemporary?]

Thus, for those of us that do live in an institutionalized culture (everyone), all we can do is create our own little spaces of our own cultures, then experiment, compete (not war), define, structure, and rinse and repeat. Live a different way. You have the will. Try a different set of ethics. Try it even for just an hour, or a day. Try to live like an ancient Roman “with a tent and sword.” Create a new sets of ethics, and live by them. Be a saint. Be an asshole. Ignore the environment. Will your life.

A Few Lessons in Research of a Past Time

sources

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sophistic
www.livius.org/articles/concept/second-sophistic/
– tells of sophists as showsman, professional public debaters, even on funny topics such as “In Praise of Baldness”

1. Eshleman, Kendra – The Social World of Intellectuals in the Roman Empire_ Sophists, Philosophers, and Christians (Cambridge, Greek Culture in the Roman World, 2012)
– this book was the cause of this thought. It’s an amazing topic.

possible future sources:

primary:

3. Philostratus, The Lives of the Sophists. Trans. Wright, W.C. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.
– main extant source. Perhaps the only source! If that’s the case, scrap the secondary sources.

secondary:

It seems most of these are already referenced by Eshleman. There’s probably not much point in probing these texts, except Whitmarsh’s or Bowersock’s short books or Anderson’s lengthier book.
2. Whitmarsh, Timothy – The Second Sophistic (Oxford, 2005)
– intro
?. Whitmarsh, Timothy – Beyond the Second Sophistic: Adventures in Greek Postclassicism (University of California)
4. Anderson, Graham – The Second Sophistic_ A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire (1993)
2. Bowersock, G. W. – Greek Sophists in the Roman Empire (Oxford, 1969)
5. Gleasonm, Maud W. – Making Men_ Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome (Princeton, 1995)
5. Simon Swain – Hellenism and Empire. Language, Classicism and Power in the Greek World, AD 50-250 (1996 Oxford)
6. Goldhill, Simon – Being Greek under Rome_ Cultural Identity, the Second Sophistic and the Development of Empire (Cambridge, 2001)
6. Borg, Barbara E. – Paideia_ The World Of The Second Sophistic (Millennium Studies, 2004)

further reading:

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_Age
– just stumbled upon this. It seems Jaspers beat me to it. But it also seems he tries to set a specific time period, whereas I’m just interested in the period of time societies shift from competing schools of thought, or even competing societies, to an institution.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orality
– not to be confused with a bunch of other seemingly similar terms in the English language

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Civics, Communication, Determinism and Free Will, Ethics, History, History of Philosophy, Humanities, Personal, Philosophical Movements, Philosophy, Philosophy of History, Political Philosophy, Public Sphere, Social Anarchism, Social Change, Social Philosophy, Thoughts

Capitalistic Behavior

19 April 2016

[todo: this might become my largest post, which may involve my experience in each society (from childhood to now), my desire to reverse it, and perhaps use Marx’s Capital to continue thinking about it.]

“What is the point of mentioning the word profit1?”
Mencius, Mencius, first sentence

When one physically sees the masses that move across streets in large cities — New York, Seoul, Taipei, and especially Tokyo — one wonders, why are they walking to their destination? Are they thinking? Are they human, or zombies? Is their mind separated from their body? Must one use music to stop thinking in order to move the body?

“Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get home before the morning comes
What if I’m late, gotta big date, gotta get home before the sun comes up
Up and away, got a big day, sorry can’t stay, I gotta run, run, yeah
Gotta get home, pick up the phone, I gotta let the people know I’m gonna be late”
Harry Nilsson, “Gotta Get Up”

The body needs to be somewhere at a certain time. But with current technology, is it necessary for many jobs? Why not simply communicate through digital means?

[Singapore and Hong Kong: Asia’s businesses cities. Let’s not talk about them please. I could only stand half a day in Singapore, and I was happy to purchase a flight out of Hong Kong as soon as possible.]

In Seoul, one really gets a strong sense of capitalistic behavior. That, the economic system is almost in entire control of the society. That nobody is thinking about their actions. The entire society blindly follows what capital wants. If capital wants technology, that is what they will give it (hence the economic boom). Capitalism determines the actions of all its citizens from professional business to art to everyday life. The way shopping malls (thinking of Rick Roderick’s Philosophy and Human Values) determine where people go and what they buy, the entire city is planned to control Seoulites position and advertise their feeble minds to purchase commodities. A good dungeon master or game developer could easily create the material structure and rules for them to follow. (Unfortunately, the masters are boring, rich capitalists.) Capitalism determines their place in society. If capital values exchange-value, that is what society values. A higher salary actually is valued in this society. Go figure.

In Tokyo, the capitalistic behavior pervades, but perhaps is weaker in some parts. Of work, it is the same as Seoul: the old bergousie wealth culture, mannerism still exist. But it doesn’t extend to entertainment, or their everyday life after work. They have unique arts, though, itself extremely insular. When they have free time, they don’t go to malls (well, many do), but they might actually go home and play some video games, or actually go to a park.

In Taiwan, the capitalist behavior is the weakest [of East Asia], hence the lack of economic boom. Somewhere in the culture (Confucius?, benevolence is prioritized over ‘profit’?) having an experience (a la Dewey) at a good price is prioritized. Every experience is calculated, from snacks to flights. Thus, perhaps, going to Thailand is better than going to a developed country, because there is more experience in Thailand. Maximizing experience is the categorical imperative. Strive to make every action a social experience. Try anything. Nothing is looked down upon, instead people cheer you on (加油). It doesn’t matter what the direction is, therefore, capital does not affect their actions; It doesn’t matter if an action generates capital or not; Just do it for the experience. Go on, try (试试看) riding a skateboard, or hunting wild boars with aboriginals. Who cares. If one fails (which is pathetically often the case), oh well. It was worth trying; It was worth the experience of trying. If one runs out of capital, well, one must work (工作) for it, it’s one’s duty (负责). Playtime (玩) is over. But surely after work, maybe even during work, and after saving a little, one can play again. Thus, capital here is merely something needed in order to try things, to take actions in desired, natural directions. Those directions could be to have an experience (try something new: food, travel, art), urbanize a comfortable place, or volunteer to try to do good (热情) for one’s society. Capitalism limits behavior, but only for the time necessary to earn capital.

[todo: America.

three parts? VA, SF, and NY?

[applies to all] Work and play. Work hard, play hard. Life is separated from work. Work is completely alienated. One goes into some work zone, physical and mental, then comes out 8 hours later, then proceeds to a social space, a bar, a cafe, an event, home, etc, to not think about work again. Because the wages are so high, benevolent thoughts, politics, society, are not thought of. One doesn’t need to think about how to create a better society, because one is already surviving quite well off.

In Virginia, the suburbs of which I’ve come from, corporations have nearly defeated all small businesses and replaced them with superstores which contain a million commodities, which makes it impossible to imagine the labor that went behind it all. Industrialization is in full force in the suburbs. Cashiers are automated now. So is security. Go on, get your manufactured milk and cereal and check ’em out yourself!

The work in Virginia is either corporate or government, the latter, having a large military presence. Do the engineering for some part of some battleship or spacecraft or secret intelligence program. They’re huge enterprises, and the work is a tiny cog (todo: link to Helplessness Blues). My school spit out cogs for SPAWAR, NAVSEA, NASA, and DARPA. But somehow, no student saw the simple ends: war, wasting capital toward positive science, and building an Orwellian society. That’s the American education. Hurray science! Use a STEM-pack. Ah yeah, that’s the stuff!

SF, see Silicon Valley and Capitalism.

NY?]

[todo: every other society I’ve experienced]

[very much related to my posts on criticism of capitalism.]

1. profit – the Confucius definition seems to be to gain, but usually in the context of gaining as an end, which goes against the categorical imperative of benevolence

possible things to read:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_capitalism

Leave a comment | Categories: Determinism and Free Will, Ethics, Experience, Humanities, Japan, Metaphysics, Personal, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Philosophy, South Korea, Taiwan, Travel

Positive and Negative methodologies

17 April 2016

Just some highlights and thoughts from the last chapter of A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by Fung Yu-Lan, edited by Derk Bodde. After reading a few books, it led to this thought.

28. Chinese Philosophy in the Modern World (last chapter)
end (the methodology of metaphysics):

“I maintain that there are two methods, the positive and the negative. The essence of the positive method is to talk about the object of metaphysics which is the subject of its inquiry; the essence of the negative method is not to talk about it. By so doing, the negative method reveals certain aspects of the nature of that something, namely those aspects that are not susceptible to positive description and analysis.”

“…the West started with what he [Northrop] calls the concept of postulation, whereas the Chinese philosophy started with what he calls concept by intuition. As a result, Western philosophy has naturally been dominated by the positive method, and Chinese philosophy by the negative one. This is espeically true of Taoism, which started and ended with the undifferentiable whole. In the Laozi and Zhuangzi, one does not learn what the Tao actually is, but only what it is not. But if one knows what it is not, one gets some idea of what it is.”

– sounds like a research programme by Lakatos, which is from 1976!

“…Ch’anism, which I would like to call a philosophy of silence. If one understands and realizes the meaning and significance of silence, one gains something of the object of metaphysics.”

– perhaps there’s something he’s getting at here, that Chinese Philosophy tries to focus on actuality, not language. Where western philosophy focused on creating ideas in the form of words, and even later, a terrible linguistic turn, Chinese philosophy maintains a better perception of reality, but simply cannot communicate much about it, at least, not through written language.

“In the West, Kant may be have said to use the negative method of metaphysics…he found the unknowable, the noumenon. To Kant and other Western philosophers, because the unknowable is unknowable, one can therefore say nothing about it, and so it is better to abandon metaphysics entirely and stop at epistemology. But to those who are accustomed to the negative method, it is taken for granted that, since the unknowable is unknowable , we should say nothing about it. t和business of metaphysics is not to say something about the unknowable, but only to say something about the fact that the unknowable is unknowable. When one knows that the unknowable is unknowable, one does know, after all, something about it. On this point, Kant did a great deal.”

”…A perfect metaphysical system should start with the positive method and end with the negative one. If it does not end with a negative method, it fails to reach the final climax of philosophy (~earlier he mentioned how Western philosophers usually use words like Good, God, Love denoting the end of their philosophy and the beginning of their metaphysics). But if it does not start with the positive method, it lacks clear thinking that is essential for philosophy.“

– isn’t this Hegel’s triad idea?

[Ch’an [Zen?] story of thumb being cut off and enlightened is referenced.] ”Whether this story is true or not, it suggest that the truth that before the negative method is used, the philosopher or student of philosophy must pass through the positive method, and before the simplicity of philosophy is reached, he must pass through its complexity.“

– perhaps what is meant is teaching should not involve any positive direction, people should arrive at it on their own. Do not en-culture or indoctrinate students.

“One must speak very much before one keeps silent.”

– similar to “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” by Wittgenstein

Leave a comment | Categories: Eastern Philosophy, Epistemology, Humanities, Metaphysics, Philosophy

Media and Action

15 April 2016

From a thought today:

“…The second essay is about whether ‘personal essays’ ever cause action: has anyone acted upon an Essai by Montaigne[?], as people acted when Blow made Braid, or when Vertov made Man with a Movie Camera? Did the games and films made in response [to them] merely create more communication, as opposed to action? No [and Yes?]. It’s the accessibility of the medium that increases the chance of acting in response. ‘I read the news today’ is a different experience from watching Night and Fog, and that itself different from what I imagine and hope the experience of playing This War of Mine. The closer the experience of a medium is to real experience, the greater the chance of acting in response.”

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Art, Communication, Critical Theory, Films, Games, Humanities, Linguistics, Media, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Philosophy of Film, Philosophy of Game, Social Philosophy

Having an Experience and Not

04 January 2016

[todo: original title and topics I desired to write about: Being Poor, Anarchy, and Creativity]

Recently I had some good conversations with a friend who grew up in rural areas in Taiwan, relied on media during her childhood, and describes her favorite time in life on a smaller island of Taiwan, Lanyu (蘭嶼).

She showed me pictures of her time there. Her face, radiant.

She taught kids at a school, usually art, sometimes reading, perhaps other things. It seemed as if the school gave her a great amount of freedom. She was able to create activities for the kids everyday, without much strain for normative education examinations. There were pictures of normative fine arts: painting, drawing, dancing. Furthermore, there were pictures of kids partaking in local cultural activities such as farming yams, fishing, cooking, swimming on the beach. Some related to the school, some not; She was fond of the fact that the kids would ask her for more activities after school. The social benefits were shared.

She was also more creative. Though she doesn’t have many outlets to show it through media, beyond the actions of the time, she did show me some pictures: a bookcase she created with found wood and string, natives performing festivals (dancing, cooking wild boar), local scenery, food she cooked, her roommates, her students.

Most of her creativity hasn’t been captured through media, lost in time and unrecorded, but it surely existed, through her actions. She taught, she had good roommates to share experiences with and talk to, she talked to local people, she had good students to help, she wandered and thought. She was having an experience. It’s the highest form of creativity: action.

Now, she describes herself as two people. The normal her, and the abnormal her. The normal her is the one from the island — the constantly acting, creative, often social, one. The abnormal her is the one seen right now as she works, restrained socially and economically, unable to act in the way she desires. She appears less creative, and unable to have an experience.

Now, at times, her normal self appears. She sleeps less, does her work while listening to music, is more social, is consuming more (through media and reality), and is more willing to go out. She maximizes time for new experiences and minimizes time for old ones. She climbs mountains with alacrity, fishes for shrimp with great concentration, cooks with whatever ingredients she has available with haste, and manically opens a wine bottle with a knife. She is having an experience.

[todo: continue]

[todo: the initial reason for the blog was to show the difference between poor creativity and instrumental creativity, how anarchy increases paths for creativity, and figuring out what makes an environment creative.]

Her experience reminds me of the first time going to a city. Every moment was an experience.

[todo: maybe can compare]

[questions to ask her: Beyond the pictures she took during her time on the island, and the bookshelf, is there any form of media to access her time there? Did she during or even after her time there?]

[cut: She also had roommates]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Aesthetics, Art, Conversation, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Personal, Philosophy

The Metropolis and Mental Life by Georg Simmel

25 December 2015

[todo: incomplete draft. Might as well complete the reading on my phone and copy the notes here later, although it doubles the work.]

This essay, particularly the second paragraph, pieces together so much of my early philosophy that I’m going to use it as a tool to link my philosophy together. For the moment, the entirety of the essay is posted here [without copyright, though Googling quickly resulted in three copies].

Georg Simmel
1
‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’

The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. This antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence. The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition; the nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man’s freedom, his individuality (which is connected with the division of labour) and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much the more dependent on the complementary activity of others; Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while Socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition — but in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work, namely the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism. When one inquires about the products of the specifically modern aspects of contemporary life with reference to their inner meaning — when, so to speak, one examines the body of culture with reference to the soul, as I am to do concerning the metropolis today — the answer will require the investigation of the relationship which such a social structure promotes between the individual aspects of life and those which transcend the existence of single individuals. It will require the investigation of the adaptations made by the personality in its adjustment to the forces that lie outside of it.

The psychological foundation, upon which the metropolitan individuality is erected, is the intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli [Creativity, External Stimuli, Cities, and Suburbs, Time, Social Life, and External Stimuli]. Man is a creature whose existence is dependent on differences, i.e., his mind is stimulated by the difference between present impressions and those which have preceded [Working Memory and Creativity]. Lasting impressions, the slightness in their differences, the habituated regularity of their course and contrasts between them, [Habit and Addiction] consume, so to speak, less mental energy than the rapid telescoping of changing images [Prose is Superfluous: Active Communication through Play and ArtThe Speed of IdeasInformation Organization, Mediums, Creativity, and ExperienceCity Experience and MediaForms of Consumption: Reality and Media], pronounced differences within what is grasped at a single glance, and the unexpectedness of violent stimuli [Lone Work and Depression, Hypomania, The Apex of Mania and Creativity in Taipei, Korea and the Apex of SPD, Hypomania and Creativity]. To the extent that the metropolis creates these psychological conditions — with every crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic, occupational and social life [Time, Social Life, and External Stimuli] — it creates in the sensory foundations of mental life, and in the degree of awareness [Awareness and Consciousness] necessitated by our organization as creatures dependent on differences, a deep contrast with the slower, more habitual, more smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory-mental phase of small town and rural existence [Flexibility]. Thereby the essentially intellectualistic character of the mental life of the metropolis becomes intelligible as over against that of the small town which rests more on feelings and emotional relationships. These latter are rooted in the unconscious levels of the mind and develop most readily in the steady equilibrium of unbroken customs. The locus of reason, on the other hand, is in the lucid, conscious upper strata of the mind and it is the most adaptable of our inner forces [Flexibility and Learning]. In order to adjust itself to the shifts and contradictions in events, it does not require the disturbances and inner upheavals which are the only means whereby more conservative personalities are able to adapt themselves to the same rhythm of events. Thus the metropolitan type — which naturally takes on a thousand individual modifications — creates a protective organ for itself against the profound disruption with which the fluctuations and discontinuities of the external milieu threaten it [todo: I think I had a draft about creating rules in the mind, Chaos and Organization]. Instead of reacting emotionally, the metropolitan type reacts primarily in a rational manner, thus creating a mental predominance through the intensification of consciousness, which in turn is caused by it. Thus the reaction of the metropolitan person to those events is moved to a sphere of mental activity which is least sensitive and which is furthest removed from the depths of the personality.

This intellectualistic quality which is thus recognized as a protection of the inner life against the domination of the metropolis, becomes ramified into numerous specific phenomena. The metropolis has always been the seat of money economy because the many-sidedness and concentration of commercial activity have given the medium of exchange an importance which it could not have acquired in the commercial aspects of rural life [Free from Capitalism?]. But money economy and the domination of the intellect stand in the closest relationship to one another. They have in common a purely matter-of-fact attitude in the treatment of persons and things in which a formal justice is often combined with an unrelenting hardness. The purely intellectualistic person is indifferent to all things personal because, out of them, relationships and reactions develop which are not to be completely understood by purely rational methods — just as the unique element in events never enters into the principle of money. Money is concerned only with what is common to all, i.e., with the exchange value which reduces all quality and individuality to a purely quantitative level [Debt by David Graeber]. All emotional relationships between persons rest on their individuality, whereas intellectual relationships deal with persons as with numbers, that is, as with elements which, in themselves, are indifferent, but which are of interest only insofar as they offer something objectively perceivable. It is in this very manner that the inhabitant of the metropolis reckons with his merchant, his customer, and with his servant, and frequently with the persons with whom he is thrown into obligatory association. These relationships stand in distinct contrast with the nature of the smaller circle in which the inevitable knowledge of individual characteristics produces, with an equal inevitability, an emotional tone in conduct, a sphere which is beyond the mere objective weighting of tasks performed and payments made [tourism]. What is essential here as regards the economic-psychological aspect of the problem is that in less advanced cultures production was for the customer who ordered the product so that the producer and the purchaser knew one another [barter? gift economy?]. The modern city, however, is supplied almost exclusively by production for the market, that is, for entirely unknown purchasers who never appear in the actual field of vision of the producers themselves. Thereby, the interests of each party acquire a relentless matter-of- factness, and its rationally calculated economic egoism need not fear any divergence from its set path because of the imponderability of personal relationships. This is all the more the case in the money economy which dominates the metropolis in which the last remnants of domestic production and direct barter of goods have been eradicated and in which the amount of production on direct personal order is reduced daily [independent merchants vs manufactured products]. Furthermore, this psychological intellectualistic attitude and the money economy are in such close integration that no one is able to say whether it was the former that effected the latter or vice versa. What is certain is only that the form of life in the metropolis is the soil which nourishes this interaction most fruitfully, a point which I shall attempt to demonstrate only with the statement of the most outstanding English constitutional historian to the effect that through the entire course of English history London has never acted as the heart of England but often as its intellect and always as its money bag [ouch! London as past Silicon Valley and Capitalism].

In certain apparently insignificant characters or traits of the most external aspects of life are to be found a number of characteristic mental tendencies. The modern mind has become more and more a calculating one [todo: personal experience in the city, Marx-like economic eye]. The calculating exactness of practical life which has resulted from a money economy corresponds to the ideal of natural science, namely that of transforming the world into an arithmetical problem and of fixing every one of its parts in a mathematical formula [critique of old economic quantitative institutions]. It has been money economy which has thus filled the daily life of so many people with weighing, calculating, enumerating and the reduction of qualitative values to quantitative terms. Because of the character of calculability which money has there has come into the relationships of the elements of life a precision and a degree of certainty in the definition of the equalities and inequalities and an unambiguousness in agreements and arrangements, just as externally this precision has been brought about through the general diffusion of pocket watches [social time, in addition to money, is also quantitative: time is money]. It is, however, the conditions of the metropolis which are cause as well as effect for this essential characteristic. The relationships and concerns of the typical metropolitan resident are so manifold and complex that, especially as a result of the agglomeration of so many persons with such differentiated interests [diversity], their relationships and activities intertwine with one another into a many-membered organism [part of many communities]. In view of this fact, the lack of the most exact punctuality in promises and performances would cause the whole to break down into an inextricable chaos [hmmm]. If all the watches in Berlin suddenly went wrong in different ways even only as much as an hour, its entire economic and commercial life would be derailed for some time [true]. Even though this may seem more superficial in its significance, it transpires that the magnitude of distances results in making all waiting and the breaking of appointments an ill-afforded waste of time. For this reason the technique of metropolitan life in general is not conceivable without all of its activities and reciprocal relationships being organized and coordinated in the most punctual way into a firmly fixed framework of time which transcends all subjective elements. But here too there emerge those conclusions which are in general the whole task of this discussion, namely, that every event, however restricted to this superficial level it may appear, comes immediately into contact with the depths of the soul, and that the most banal externalities are, in the last analysis, bound up with the final decisions concerning the meaning and the style of life [quantitative city life affects the soul]. Punctuality, calculability, and exactness, which are required by the complications and extensiveness of metropolitan life are not only most intimately connected with its capitalistic and intellectualistic character but also colour the content of life and are conducive to the exclusion of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign human traits and impulses which originally seek to determine the form of life from within instead of receiving it from the outside in a general, schematically precise form [the city only allows overly quantitative, rational beings, no other ways in life — ascetic, aboriginal culture, anarchic societies, non-capitalist thoughts, philosophers, etc.]. Even though those lives which are autonomous and characterised by these vital impulses are not entirely impossible in the city, they are, none the less, opposed to it in abstracto [dominated by city social norm]. It is in the light of this that we can explain the passionate hatred of personalities like Ruskin and Nietzsche for the metropolis — personalities who found the value of life only in unschematized individual expressions which cannot be reduced to exact equivalents and in whom, on that account, there flowed from the same source as did that hatred, the hatred of the money economy and of the intellectualism of existence [New York and Taiwan].

The same factors which, in the exactness and the minute precision of the form of life, have coalesced into a structure of the highest impersonality [Okinawa is Inhospitable], have, on the other hand, an influence in a highly personal direction. There is perhaps no psychic phenomenon which is so unconditionally reserved to the city as the blasé outlook. It is at first the consequence of those rapidly shifting stimulations of the nerves which are thrown together in all their contrasts and from which it seems to us the intensification of metropolitan intellectuality seems to be derived. On that account it is not likely that stupid persons who have been hitherto intellectually dead will be blasé. Just as an immoderately sensuous life makes one blasé because it stimulates the nerves to their utmost reactivity until they finally can no longer produce any reaction at all, so, less harmful stimuli, through the rapidity and the contradictoriness of their shifts, force the nerves to make such violent responses, tear them about so brutally that they exhaust their last reserves of strength and, remaining in the same milieu, do not have time for new reserves to form. This incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy [need time for thinking] constitutes in fact that blasé attitude which every child of a large city evinces when compared with the products of the more peaceful and more stable milieu.

Combined with this physiological source of the blasé metropolitan attitude there is another which derives from a money economy. The essence of the blasé attitude is an indifference toward the distinctions between things. Not in the sense that they are not perceived, as is the case of mental dullness, but rather that the meaning and the value of the distinctions between things, and therewith of the things themselves, are experienced as meaningless. They appear to the blasé person in a homogeneous, flat and gray colour with no one of them worthy of being preferred to another [hmm, I don’t think I’ve experienced this]. This psychic mood is the correct subjective reflection of a complete money economy to the extent that money takes the place of all the manifoldness of things and expresses all qualitative distinctions between them in the distinction of how much. To the extent that money, with its colourlessness and its indifferent quality, can become a common denominator of all values it becomes the frightful leveller — it hollows out the core of things, their peculiarities, their specific values and their uniqueness and incomparability in a way which is beyond repair. They all float with the same specific gravity in the constantly moving stream of money. They all rest on the same level and are distinguished only by their amounts. In individual cases this colouring, or rather this de-colouring of things, through their equation with money, may be imperceptibly small. In the relationship, however, which the wealthy person has to objects which can be bought for money, perhaps indeed in the total character which, for this reason, public opinion now recognizes in these objects, it takes on very considerable proportions [awareness directed toward extrinsic values?]. This is why the metropolis is the seat of commerce and it is in it that the purchasability of things appears in quite a different aspect than in simpler economies. It is also the peculiar seat of the blasé attitude. In it is brought to a peak, in a certain way, that achievement in the concentration of purchasable things which stimulates the individual to the highest degree of nervous energy. Through the mere quantitative intensification of the same conditions this achievement is transformed into its opposite, into this peculiar adaptive phenomenon — the blasé attitude — in which the nerves reveal their final possibility of adjusting themselves to the content and the form of metropolitan life by renouncing the response to them [definitely never felt this]. We see that the self-preservation of certain types of personalities is obtained at the cost of devaluing the entire objective world, ending inevitably in dragging the personality downward into a feeling of its own valuelessness.

Whereas the subject of this form of existence must come to terms with it for himself, his self-preservation in the face of the great city requires of him a no less negative type of social conduct. The mental attitude of the people of the metropolis to one another may be designated formally as one of reserve. If the unceasing external contact of numbers of persons in the city should be met by the same number of inner reactions as in the small town, in which one knows almost every person he meets and to each of whom he has a positive relationship, one would be completely atomized internally and would fall into an unthinkable mental condition [hence the need of small neighborhoods]. Partly this psychological circumstance and partly the privilege of suspicion which we have in the face of the elements of metropolitan life (which are constantly touching one another in fleeting contact) necessitates in us that reserve, in consequence of which we do not know by sight neighbours of years standing and which permits us to appear to small-town folk so often as cold and uncongenial. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, the inner side of this external reserve is not only indifference but more frequently than we believe, it is a slight aversion, a mutual strangeness and repulsion which, in a close contact which has arisen any way whatever, can break out into hatred and conflict [? maybe Georg is sympathizing with small towns, and hasn’t had a good experience in the city]. The entire inner organization of such a type of extended commercial life rests on an extremely varied structure of sympathies, indifferences and aversions of the briefest as well as of the most enduring sort. This sphere of indifference is, for this reason, not as great as it seems superficially. Our minds respond, with some definite feeling, to almost every impression emanating from another person. The unconsciousness, the transitoriness and the shift of these feelings seem to raise them only into indifference. Actually this latter would be as unnatural to us as immersion into a chaos of unwished-for suggestions would be unbearable. From these two typical dangers of metropolitan life we are saved by antipathy which is the latent adumbration of actual antagonism since it brings about the sort of distantiation and deflection without which this type of life could not be carried on at all. Its extent and its mixture, the rhythm of its emergence and disappearance, the forms in which it is adequate — these constitute, with the simplified motives (in the narrower sense) an inseparable totality of the form of metropolitan life. What appears here directly as dissociation is in reality only one of the elementary forms of socialization [The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Only Yesterday].

This reserve with its overtone of concealed aversion appears once more, however, as the form or the wrappings of a much more general psychic trait of the metropolis. It assures the individual of a type and degree of personal freedom to which there is no analogy in other circumstances. It has its roots in one of the great developmental tendencies of social life as a whole; in one of the few for which an approximately exhaustive formula can be discovered. The most elementary stage of social organization which is to be found historically, as well as in the present, is this: a relatively small circle almost entirely closed against neighbouring foreign or otherwise antagonistic groups but which has however within itself such a narrow cohesion that the individual member has only a very slight area for the development of his own qualities and for free activity for which he himself is responsible. Political and familial groups began in this way as do political and religious communities; the self-preservation of very young associations requires a rigourous setting of boundaries and a centripetal unity and for that reason it cannot give room to freedom and the peculiarities of inner and external development of the individual [physical and social space defines boundaries of development]. From this stage social evolution proceeds simultaneously in two divergent but none the less corresponding directions. In the measure that the group grows numerically, spatially, and in the meaningful content of life, its immediate inner unity and the definiteness of its original demarcation against others are weakened and rendered mild by reciprocal interactions and interconnections [more density more tolerance for diversity]. And at the same time the individual gains a freedom of movement far beyond the first jealous delimitation, and gains also a peculiarity and individuality to which the division of labour in groups, which have become larger, gives both occasion and necessity. However much the particular conditions and forces of the individual situation might modify the general scheme, the state and Christianity, guilds and political parties and innumerable other groups have developed in accord with this formula. This tendency seems to me, however, to be quite clearly recognizable also in the development of individuality within the framework of city life. Small town life in antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages imposed such limits upon the movements of the individual in his relationships with the outside world and on his inner independence and differentiation that the modern person could not even breathe under such conditions. Even today the city dweller who is placed in a small town feels a type of narrowness which is very similar [city vs suburb culture]. The smaller the circle which forms our environment [environment contains limiting culture] and the more limited the relationships which have the possibility of transcending the boundaries [relationships as transcendence of culture], the more anxiously the narrow community watches over the deeds, the conduct of life and the attitudes of the individual and the more will a quantitative and qualitative individuality tend to pass beyond the boundaries of such a community.

The ancient polis seems in this regard to have had a character of a small town. The incessant threat against its existence by enemies from near and far brought about that stern cohesion in political and military matters, that supervision of the citizen by other citizens, and that jealousy of the whole toward the individual whose own private life was repressed to such an extent that he could compensate himself only by acting as a despot in his own household [nationalism]. The tremendous agitation and excitement, and the unique colourfulness of Athenian life is perhaps explained by the fact that a people of incomparably individualized personalities were in constant struggle against the incessant inner and external oppression of a de-individualizing small town [Constant Action Ethics] . This created an atmosphere of tension in which the weaker were held down and the stronger were impelled to the most passionate type of self-protection. And with this there blossomed in Athens, what, without being able to define it exactly, must be designated as ‘the general human character’ in the intellectual development of our species [first recorded time humans developed fully, independent? Heck no.]. For the correlation, the factual as well as the historical validity of which we are here maintaining, is that the broadest and the most general contents and forms of life are intimately bound up with the most individual ones. Both have a common prehistory and also common enemies in the narrow formations and groupings, whose striving for self-preservation set them in conflict with the broad and general on the outside, as well as the freely mobile and individual on the inside [priority for individualism, individuals will always exist within and out, resisting any kind of normative culture]. Just as in feudal times the ‘free’ man was he who stood under the law of the land, that is, under the law of the largest social unit, but he was unfree who derived his legal rights only from the narrow circle of a feudal community — so today in an intellectualized and refined sense the citizen of the metropolis is ‘free’ in contrast with the trivialities and prejudices which bind the small town person. The mutual reserve and indifference, and the intellectual conditions of life in large social units are never more sharply appreciated in their significance for the independence of the individual than in the dense crowds of the metropolis because the bodily closeness and lack of space make intellectual distance really perceivable for the first time. It is obviously only the obverse of this freedom that, under certain circumstances, one never feels as lonely and as deserted as in this metropolitan crush of persons [city community, Large and Small Communities]. For here, as elsewhere, it is by no means necessary that the freedom of man reflect itself in his emotional life only as a pleasant experience.

[todo: STOPPED HERE]
It is not only the immediate size of the area and population which, on the basis of world-historical correlation between the increase in the size of the social unit and the degree of personal inner and outer freedom, makes the metropolis the locus of this condition. It is rather in transcending this purely tangible extensiveness that the metropolis also becomes the seat of cosmopolitanism. Comparable with the form of the development of wealth — (beyond a certain point property increases in ever more rapid progression as out of its own inner being) — the individual’s horizon is enlarged. In the same way, economic, personal and intellectual relations in the city (which are its ideal reflection), grow in a geometrical progression as soon as, for the first time, a certain limit has been passed. Every dynamic extension becomes a preparation not only for a similar extension but rather for a larger one and from every thread which is spun out of it there continue, growing as out of themselves, an endless number of others. This may be illustrated by the fact that within the city the ‘unearned increment’ of ground rent, through a mere increase in traffic, brings to the owner profits which are self-generating. At this point the quantitative aspects of life are transformed qualitatively. The sphere of life of the small town is, in the main, enclosed within itself. For the metropolis it is decisive that its inner life is extended in a wave-like motion over a broader national or international area. Weimar was no exception because its significance was dependent upon individual personalities and died with them, whereas the metropolis is characterised by its essential independence even of the most significant individual personalities; this is rather its antithesis and it is the price of independence which the individual living in it enjoys. The most significant aspect of the metropolis lies in this functional magnitude beyond its actual physical boundaries and this effectiveness reacts upon the latter and gives to it life, weight, importance and responsibility. A person does not end with limits of his physical body or with the area to which his physical activity is immediately confined but embraces, rather, the totality of meaningful effects which emanates from him temporally and spatially. In the same way the city exists only in the totality of the effects which transcend their immediate sphere. These really are the actual extent in which their existence is expressed. This is already expressed in the fact that individual freedom, which is the logical historical complement of such extension, is not only to be understood in the negative sense as mere freedom of movement and emancipation from prejudices and philistinism. Its essential characteristic is rather to be found in the fact that the particularity and incomparability which ultimately every person possesses in some way is actually expressed, giving form to life. That we follow the laws of our inner nature — and this is what freedom is — becomes perceptible and convincing to us and to others only when the expressions of this nature distinguish themselves from others; it is our irreplaceability by others which shows that our mode of existence is not imposed upon us from the outside.
Cities are above all the seat of the most advanced economic division of labour. They produce such extreme phenomena as the lucrative vocation of the quatorzieme in Paris. These are persons who may be recognized by shields on their houses and who hold themselves ready at the dinner hour in appropriate costumes so they can he called upon on short notice in case thirteen persons find themselves at the table. Exactly in the measure of its extension the city offers to an increasing degree the determining conditions for the division of labour. It is a unit which, because of its large size, is receptive to a highly diversified plurality of achievements while at the same time the agglomeration of individuals and their struggle for the customer forces the individual to a type of specialized accomplishment in which he cannot be so easily exterminated by the other. The decisive fact here is that in the life of a city, struggle with nature for the means of life is transformed into a conflict with human beings and the gain which is fought for is granted, not by nature, but by man. For here we find not only the previously mentioned source of specialization but rather the deeper one in which the seller must seek to produce in the person to whom he wishes to sell ever new and unique needs. The necessity to specialize one’s product in order to find a source of income which is not yet exhausted and also to specialize a function which cannot be easily supplanted is conducive to differentiation, refinement and enrichment of the needs of the public which obviously must lead to increasing personal variation within this public.

All this leads to the narrower type of intellectual individuation of mental qualities to which the city gives rise in proportion to its size. There is a whole series of causes for this. First of all there is the difficulty of giving one’s own personality a certain status within the framework of metropolitan life. Where quantitative increase of value and energy has reached its limits, one seizes on qualitative distinctions, so that, through taking advantage of the existing sensitivity to differences, the attention of the social world can, in some way, he won for oneself. This leads ultimately to the strangest eccentricities, to specifically metropolitan extravagances of self-distantiation, of caprice, of fastidiousness, the meaning of which is no longer to be found in the content of such activity itself but rather in its being a form of ‘being different’ — of making oneself noticeable. For many types of persons these are still the only means of saving for oneself, through the attention gained from others, some sort of self-esteem and the sense of filling a position. In the same sense there operates an apparently insignificant factor which in its effects however is perceptibly cumulative, namely, the brevity and rarity of meetings which are allotted to each individual as compared with social intercourse in a small city. For here we find the attempt to appear to-the-point, clear-cut and individual with extraordinarily greater frequency than where frequent and long association assures to each person an unambiguous conception of the other’s personality [whoa].

This appears to me to be the most profound cause of the fact that the metropolis places emphasis on striving for the most individual forms of personal existence — regardless of whether it is always correct or always successful. The development of modern culture is characterised by the predominance of what one can call the objective spirit over the subjective; that is, in language as well as in law, in the technique of production as well as in art, in science as well as in the objects of domestic environment, there is embodied a sort of spirit [Geist], the daily growth of which is followed only imperfectly and with an even greater lag by the intellectual development of the individual. If we survey for instance the vast culture which during the last century has been embodied in things and in knowledge, in institutions and comforts, and if we compare them with the cultural progress of the individual during the same period — at least in the upper classes — we would see a frightful difference in rate of growth between the two which represents, in many points, rather a regression of the culture of the individual with reference to spirituality, delicacy and idealism. This discrepancy is in essence the result of the success of the growing division of labour. For it is this which requires from the individual an ever more one-sided type of achievement which, at its highest point, often permits his personality as a whole to fall into neglect. In any case this overgrowlh of objective culture has been less and less satisfactory for the individual. Perhaps less conscious than in practical activity and in the obscure complex of feelings which flow from him, he is reduced to a negligible quantity. He becomes a single cog as over against the vast overwhelming organization of things and forces which gradually take out of his hands everything connected with progress, spirituality and value. The operation of these forces results in the transformation of the latter from a subjective form into one of purely objective existence. It need only be pointed out that the metropolis is the proper arena for this type of culture which has outgrown every personal element. Here in buildings and in educational institutions, in the wonders and comforts of space-conquering technique, in the formations of social life and in the concrete institutions of the State is to be found such a tremendous richness of crystallizing, depersonalized cultural accomplishments that the personality can, so to speak, scarcely maintain itself in the face of it. From one angle life is made infinitely more easy in the sense that stimulations, interests, and the taking up of time and attention, present themselves from all sides and carry it in a stream which scarcely requires any individual efforts for its ongoing. But from another angle, life is composed more and more of these impersonal cultural elements and existing goods and values which seek to suppress peculiar personal interests and incomparabilities. As a result, in order that this most personal element be saved, extremities and peculiarities and individualizations must be produced and they must be over- exaggerated merely to be brought into the awareness even of the individual himself. The atrophy of individual culture through the hypertrophy of objective culture lies at the root of the bitter hatred which the preachers of the most extreme individualism, in the footsteps of Nietzsche, directed against the metropolis. But it is also the explanation of why indeed they are so passionately loved in the metropolis and indeed appear to its residents as the saviours of their unsatisfied yearnings.

When both of these forms of individualism which are nourished by the quantitative relationships of the metropolis, i.e., individual independence and the elaboration of personal peculiarities, are examined with reference to their historical position, the metropolis attains an entirely new value and meaning in the world history of the spirit. The eighteenth century found the individual in the grip of powerful bonds which had become meaningless — bonds of a political, agrarian, guild and religious nature — delimitations which imposed upon the human being at the same time an unnatural form and for a long time an unjust inequality. In this situation arose the cry for freedom and equality — the belief in the full freedom of movement of the individual in all his social and intellectual relationships which would then permit the same noble essence to emerge equally from all individuals as Nature had placed it in them and as it had been distorted by social life and historical development [anarchism or liberalism?]. Alongside of this liberalistic ideal there grew up in the nineteenth century from Goethe and the Romantics, on the one hand, and from the economic division of labour on the other, the further tendency, namely, that individuals who had been liberated from their historical bonds sought now to distinguish themselves from one another [romanticism]. No longer was it the ‘general human quality’ in every individual hut rather his qualitative uniqueness and irreplaceability that now became the criteria of his value [creative economy]. In the conflict and shifting interpretations of these two ways of defining the position of the individual within the totality is to be found the external as well as the internal history of our time. It is the function of the metropolis to make a place for the conflict and for the attempts at unification of both of these in the sense that its own peculiar conditions have been revealed to us as the occasion and the stimulus for the development of both [todo: need to reread this more]. Thereby they attain a quite unique place, fruitful with an inexhaustible richness of meaning in the development of the mental life. They reveal themselves as one of those great historical structures in which conflicting life- embracing currents find themselves with equal legitimacy. Because of this, however, regardless of whether we are sympathetic or antipathetic with their individual expressions, they transcend the sphere in which a judge-like attitude on our part is appropriate. To the extent that such forces have been integrated, with the fleeting existence of a single cell, into the root as well as the crown of the totality of historical life to which we belong — it is our task not to complain or to condone but only to understand [ :) ].

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