Rahil

Category Archives for: Experience

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

In Search of a Past Time

23 May 2016

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

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

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

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

contents

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

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

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

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

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

  • in line with first to second stage Marxist social development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

highlights and notes from Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • empire-wide social systems!

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

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

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

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

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

  • animal ethics in 200b.c.

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

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

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

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

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

  • urban planning! Making life comfortable.

— (another sitting?)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Japan:

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

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

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

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

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian_period

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

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

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

  • transcendentalism/Daoism in Japan

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuihitsu:

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

  • personal essays of reality!

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

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

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_period:

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

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

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_literature

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

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Study_of_History

  • lolol, let’s not go that route!

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

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

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

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

“History of capitalism”

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

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

“Agrarian capitalism”

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

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

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

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

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

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On Stoicism

06 May 2016

On Stoicism

After what felt like several years of cold, summer finally arrived in Taiwan, with its beautiful shifts of before the storm weather, bursts of typhoons, and sweltering zero entropy humidity. With it, I began to wake up late, lulling to “Summertime” by Girls, and the rest of that half of the album. With the summer laze, I feel I can relax, be apolitical, do some useless professional work for a high rate of capital. So, I thought, it would be an excellent time to read some Stoicism, especially Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Here, it seems, I found my childhood’s ethics (Moderate Ethics, Early Ethics, I’m Fortunate). Be responsible, diligent, do your work, focus on work. But I was a child, Marcus was a Roman Emperor. It seems he never grew up out of these childish ethics. He did his work diligently until death. He lived a rather normal life.

Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Book one’s ethics merely sketches the model of a socially normal, straightforward father: the model of the role he played. To play that role was his goal, the plan, for him, and then by him.

That I wasn’t more talented in rhetoric or poetry, or other areas. If I’d felt that I was making better progress I might never have given them up.

He avoided the difficulties of academic philosophy, granted he was reared to become an Emperor. He avoided thinking deeply. He didn’t think of the problems of philosophy, mind (psychology), humans (anthropology), society (social philosophy, political philosophy). By avoiding it all, he lacked critical thinking in these areas.

He also avoided art, in the education from it, and the process of creating it. His communication was restricted to human languages: rhetoric.

That whenever I felt like helping someone who was short of money, or otherwise in need, I never had to be told that I had no resources to do it with. And that I was never put in that position myself—of having to take something from someone else.

He never experienced what it is to be someone else, poor, a slave, in a different place, excluded, etc. He probably didn’t think deeply of these problems either; It’s against his principles. Therefore, his view of societies and individuals was very limited.

If my childhood ethics match his, then perhaps he too didn’t experience or concieve what it would be like to be raised and live in other societies and their cultures. He kept the same role, job, class, but physically moved for work purposes. It almost sounds like the ethics of a good suburban child, which makes it seem as if he derived much of his philosophy within the walls of his isolated cozy dwelling, which contradicts the reality of an Emporer’s life.

His ethics are shallow. His cherished traits avoid the discovery of knowledge (of humans and natural science), art, design, and technology. Therefore, he is merely reduced to an interlocutor with good rhetoric and socially normal ethics. This may have worked for the role of an Emporer, but it doesn’t work for a society (easily apparent for Ancient Greece, with its many philosophers, artists, and formal and natural scientists).

Stoicism in Taiwan

It seems the culture of Taiwan have many characteristics of Stoicism embedded [into it]. Perhaps there is some overlap between Confucius ethics and Stoicism. The culture still reads Ancient Greek philosophy as part of their early and late education. The country lacks contemporary forms of art (entirely: in education, museums, and the hippest art districts); their medium is mostly the Chinese language and physical crafts (which is basically the only forms in the history of Chinese art). The culture restricts people from expressing themselves, prioritizing responsibility (or benevolence?). The culture doesn’t understand the process of creativity, throwing diverse people and ideas together in the same space, thinking, expressing, out of passion, out of intrinsic desire, altering society. There have never been any great artists (three exceptional filmmakers, also art here being a very limited definition), philosophers (according to the West), designers, or inventors from the country.

The same contradictions of Stoicism exist in Taiwan’s culture: they work diligently without questioning why. There isn’t deep thought into social philosophical problems. This allows capitalism to nearly freely determine the lives of the people. They work diligently for capital without questioning why. Work is work, and life is so. Perhaps it’s hard, but what can be done? That is the ideology. An ideology which contains stoicism.

There are no passions to do more, to create, to consume crazily for gestalts, to think independently, to go out and dance all night, to make games all day, to analyze deeply of social or cultural problems, to desire social or cultural change, to innovate to solve social or urban or environmental problems, to engage in dialectic with institutions internationally to cooperate academically, to obstruct society or individuals in any way, to engage in any kind of serious conversation with other individuals.

Thus, all there is to do in the culture is to live a Stoic’s life: to live “responsibly”, work, consume (increased by capitalism), have shallow experiences (because aesthetics have not developed), shallowly understand others (and make huge generalizations of entire races and countries), yet be kind toward all, living unexamined lives.

It [stoicism] creates a society that is unartful, dispassionate, uncritical, apolitical, uniform.

A Note

Though I am critical of Book 1 of Meditations and of Marcus, these are only a few selected highlights which I wanted to focus on and argue against. I actually think there are a ton of good or interesting things said in the book. I just had to get this bit out of my mind before I continued.

It seems, thus far, though Marcus wrote well of Stoic ethics, Epictetus (and probably Seneca too) reaches much deeper in philosophy.

This website provides good info for translations, and a good introduction book.

Selected Highlights and Notes on Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Book 1:

To do my own work, mind my own business, and have no time for slanderers.

To practice philosophy, and to study with Baccheius, and then with Tandasis and Marcianus. To write dialogues as a student. To choose the Greek lifestyle—the camp-bed and the cloak.

– No sports, focus on philosophy! Also, writing dialogues seems like a good method of learning. And, having a camp bed, to allow the body to live simply, is great. The cloak, I’m guessing refers to war, which in the context of time, is also a great decision, and really must have shaped their body, attunning them to reality. Of this last bit, I feel related to my desire for nomadism, to avoid sedentarism.

Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric.

– *** Avoid abstract philosophy, stick to reality, action, practical philosophy. Practice, not academic philosophy

Independence and unvarying reliability

– ***

pay attention to nothing, no matter how fleetingly, except the logos

– *****

And for introducing me to Epictetus’s lectures—and loaning me his own copy.

– Mmm, Epictetus book of lectures, maybe includes the enchiridion!

What it means to live as nature requires

– and later again, That I was shown clearly and often what it would be like to live as nature requires
– Second time mentioned this. I guess it’s just stoicism from earlier stoics.

…the principles we ought to live by.

– Should humans have principles?***** It seems to me Marcus took a set of principles, ethics, to live by, but is it possible that such a set could be successful? Doesn’t life require different sets for different goals? To experience different states of minds. I don’t think any stoic would make a good artist, or many other personalities. They are a narrow set of personalities made for the Senate.

His ability to get along with everyone.

– *** Reminds me of Ivar. Getting along with everyone is different from being everyone, or another. There is still a class difference. One can get along with a slave, but to do nothing about the fact slavery exists is wrong.

To recognize the malice, cunning, and hypocrisy that power produces…

– Sneaky power tricks of upper classes

…the peculiar ruthlessness often shown by people from “good families.”

– Mmm, corrupted upper class

Not to be constantly telling people (or writing them) that I’m too busy, unless I really am.

– ***** very important. I think Taiwan’s culture is good with it. But with such small deeds, could one ever specialize knowledge? And change society through discovery or technology?

Similarly, not to be always ducking my responsibilities to the people around me because of “pressing business.”

– ***** Responsibilities to the people around. Sounds like a spatial thing there. But yes, perhaps being responsible is another stoic standard. But, did he ever think of why he was responsible for them? Does he not think of what other groups of people or societies are responsible of? Is he simply a completely digiligeny socially normal person?

…conceived of a society of equal laws, governed by equality of status and of speech, and of rulers who respect the liberty of their subjects above all else.

– ***** this is beautifully simple

Doing your job without whining.

– Slave-like thought, if the job I’d actually harmful to society, or useless

…his advance planning (well in advance)

– ***** as opposed to desiring socio-political change now, slow change for the slaves

That I wasn’t more talented in rhetoric or poetry, or other areas. If I’d felt that I was making better progress I might never have given them up.

– *****Neither a politician or an artist

That whenever I felt like helping someone who was short of money, or otherwise in need, I never had to be told that I had no resources to do it with. And that I was never put in that position myself—of having to take something from someone else.

– Fortunate in capital too, no experience of being excluded or poor

That when I became interested in philosophy I didn’t fall into the hands of charlatans, and didn’t get bogged down in writing treatises, or become absorbed by logic-chopping, or preoccupied with physics.

– Not science, not philosophy treatise, not minute logic. Just the practical bits that can be applied to life: notably, ethics.
— (end of Book 1 selected notes and their highlights)

[todo: possible quotes:

The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature.
– Wikipedia, Stoicism

According to Stoic ethical theory, the stage in which a human being merely keeps himself alive leads to the stage in which he chooses the good and rejects the bad; this leads to the exercise of choice out of a sense of duty of which he is not fully conscious. The fourth stage is the state of continuously making the correct choice. The final stage of ethical development sees the individual abstracting from experience and forming general ideas about good and evil. This results in an understanding of the natural order of the cosmos to which choices are to be made to conform. In other words, he sees the harmony of the Whole, which is the good, because the harmony is nature. He then chooses to conform to the harmonious Whole, being fully conscious of its nature through abstraction.

]

Leave a comment | Categories: Area, Art, Essays, Ethics, Experience, Humanities, Literature, Personal, Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Taiwan, Travel

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

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

Time and Space in Anthropology

19 December 2015

[todo: kind of messy, but I think I got out the main ideas: comp lit / phil, the impossibility of mirror of reality, emphasis on time instead of space, should look at past pictures that I took to understand the world {mmmm, this is a good idea that I didn’t mention. Should look at pictures to remember one’s personal past as opposed to reading history one hasn’t experienced, or even experiencing more things. There’s much to understand from past experiences.}, should live in a city, or, take a scooter around.]

I’ve been moving around since I received a bicycle at age 4, and since at least then it seems, compared to others, I’ve always emphasized space over time. Contrary to me, people who write books don’t seem to travel much (probably reading and writing so much) and emphasize time, looking back in history. As a person who enjoys traveling and doesn’t enjoy reading, I’ve tended to disregard writers, many of whom maybe be classified as academics, and time.

As travel is more natural to me, so is comparing societies and the areas they exist in.

Academics seem to tend to look at societies historically, to gain ideas that worked in the past and reuse them for the future, or see compare the trajectories of societies in the past, but isn’t it easier to simply walk around one’s own country — from rural to urban, variously sized settlements, ethnic enclaves, and perhaps, to neighboring countries — to not just gain ideas, but a better understanding of the world?

One of the simplest and greatest learning experiences is simply going to the most developed city one can. One will immediately experience good urban planning, good neighborhoods, good creative and innovative environments, and good communities.

The next great experience is to travel from a good creative area to nature, experiencing all of the steps in the development of societies in-between — the entire spectrum of urban development. Though, I wouldn’t say the spectrum of human development. This experience is especially useful in a society under a capitalistic system, because capitalistic cities are so corrupt, and better values can be found outside of it, often, just outside of it.

What next? Travel more societies? Live in one of the past societies? [todo]

I always feel that one is able to have infinite experiences with the many societies that exist right now, at this time. Instead of looking at history, one could simply find some aboriginal tribes. Even just outside of the cities in Virginia, USA, where I’m from, one can probably find people living on a similar standard to aboriginals. The difference here is only the import of manufactured products, though, it’s quite difficult to evade global capitalism even in the most remote regions.

Hmm, I guess what I was getting at is that reading histories of societies cannot replace experience in contemporary societies, for the same reasons a book cannot replace an experience — it’s not holistic; It’s missing the ecology.

There is no way to mirror reality into the medium, though, film comes close. So reading histories will always be missing much information. The mind cannot form the precision that reality offers from media.

[todo: was trying to get to the point where the mind thinks with recent audio-visual experiences best, because the detail of it only constrained by the mind]

It seems higher order academic disciplines compare academic disciplines and hopefully by now more modern medias, titling it “comparative [subject]”, i.e. comparative literature, comparative history, etc. This discipline also seems to somehow overlap with my favorite direction: critical theory. The people who compare medias sometimes find light in their comparisons of societies at different times in history, i.e. Foucault’s findings of how institutions have developed over time.

That’s not how I think, and maybe, it’s not natural to think that way. I think about my personal experiences in societies, travel or living. How do the suburbs in Virginia compare to the city of San Francisco, San Francisco to New York, New York to other cities in the world, Singapore to Hong Kong, the culture of Korea to Japan, the culture of Taiwan to Nepal, the culture of Taiwan aborigines to the culture of Zomia, Taipei to Japan, the other cities in Taiwan to other huge cities, the slums in India to the Myanmar refugee camps in Thailand, the railway and railway towns of Asia, and so on. I just don’t think any amount of media can overcome the natural tendency to compare real experiences to real experiences. Certainly not in reading. Film has a chance, but it would have to be done in the form of lengthy documentaries.

So here again, I grind against academia and their use of a mirror of reality, as opposed to reality, to excavate knowledge and ideas. History is one way to compare societies, but it should be far less privileged than travel. I’d conjecture that academia’s tradition of privileging classics and privileging writing a medium has lead to academia privileging time over space. It’s true that global capitalism is eating away at all culture, but it hasn’t come to the point where one must look to the past through mediums for insight. The insight is in existing societies, in reality, and always will be, well, until the world loses to global capitalism.

Leave a comment | Categories: Anthropology, Experience, Humanities, Media, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Social Science, Social Philosophy, Thoughts, Travel

I Can Almost See the Sun

11 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

This post contains three parts:

The Sun

Recommended listenings: “Sun in Your Eyes” and “Sun it Rises”.

I thought of the the sun, dreamed of hopping farms in New Zealand and Australia, checked the weather in southwest Taiwan. It is considerably warmer. Then I realized it.

All of this time I’ve been communicating through written language because the weather in Yilan, Taiwan is rainy, and recently, cold. Over time, reading and writing in an isolated dwelling, I lost weight, became habituated to communicating through this medium, prioritizing it over finding and talking to people with similar values. I was unable to fight it, media was easier, my physical condition made it a grudge to commute to the city. It’s the same experience I had at home. It stops me from acting, instead writing it down through ideals and directions.

At first, in addition to my physical condition and habituation, I thought it was the lack of money and a lack of desire to follow what capitalism wants. Perhaps they may be factors too, but recently it dawned that an alternate reason, a simple anti-cure exists: a lack of sun. The sun is what powers me to wake up, go out, and socialize.

The experience is very close now. I can almost see the sun. And the city.

The Experience

Excerpts from John Dewey, Art as Experience, end of chapter 1:

For only when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living

The artist has his problems and thinks as he works. But his thought is more immediately embodied in the object. Because of the comparative remoteness of his end, the scientific worker operates with symbols, words and mathematical signs.

The artist does his thinking in the very qualitative media he works in, and the terms lie so close to the object that he is producing that they merge directly into it

This sounds like the distance between communication and rationality. Here it’s not just spatial distance, it’s temporal. The artist “thinks as he works“.

Dewey separates the two, artist and scientist. I feel the separation now too, I am definitely not a scientist.

Direct experience comes from nature and man interacting with each other. In this interaction, human energy gathers, is released, dammed up, frustrated and victorious. There are rhythmic beats of want and fulfillment, pulses of doing and being withheld from doing.

To overpass the limits that are set is destruction and death, out of which, however, new rhythms are built up.

The proportionate interception of changes establishes an order that is spatially, not merely temporally patterned.

Inner harmony is attained only when, by some means, terms are made with the environment.

The time of consummation is also one of beginning anew. Any attempt to perpetuate beyond its term the enjoyment attending the time of fulfillment and harmony constitutes withdrawal from the world.

Instead of trying to live upon whatever may have been achieved in the past, it uses past successes to inform the present.

Only when the past ceases to trouble and anticipations of the future are not perturbing is a being wholly united with his environment and therefore fully alive.

Sounds like Seneca here, with regard to past, present and future.

The live animal is fully present, all there, in all of its actions: in its wary glances, its sharp sniffings, its abrupt cocking of ears. All senses are equally on the qui vive. As you watch, you see motion merging into sense and sense into motion — constituting that animal grace so hard for man to rival.

His senses are sentinels of immediate thought and outposts of action, and not, as they so often are with us, mere pathways along which material is gathered to be stored away for a delayed and remote possibility.

Experience in the degree in which it is experience is heightened vitality. Instead of signifying being shut up within one’s own private feelings and sensations, it signifies active and alert commerce with the world; at its height it signifies complete interpenetration of self and the world of objects and events

Yes! The feeling of acting upon sense, the savage instincts, it is quite the experience. Does that make it irrational? It depends. Isn’t all one can do is to do one’s best within social time and space? Why is goal-oriented behavior better [beyond economic productivity]?

Because experience is the fulfillment of an organism in its struggles and achievements in a world of things, it is art in germ. Even in its rudimentary forms, it contains the promise of that delightful perception which is esthetic experience.

Boom.

Well, it’s worth including in the series of posts. There’s surely things about communication I’ve missed here; Furthermore, it seems Dewey understands the way “artists”, or the artistic side of humans, communicate with the world. It’s something I feel Habermas glances over. What that something is I haven’t been able to explicate.

The City

Excerpts by Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, last chapter:

City processes in real life are too complex to be routine, too particularized for application as abstractions. They are always made up of interactions among unique combinations of particulars, and there is no substitute for knowing the particulars.

At first reading it sounded like hopelessness here, but upon rereading it seems to emphasize bottom-up thinking and relationships.

In the life sciences, organized complexity is handled by identifying a specific factor or quantity—say an enzyme—and then painstakingly learning its intricate relationships and interconnections with other factors or quantities. All this is observed in terms of the behavior (not mere presence) of other specific (not generalized) factors or quantities. To be sure, the techniques of two-variable and disorganized-complexity analysis are used too, but only as subsidiary tactics.

In principle, these are much the same tactics as those that have
to be used to understand and to help cities. In the case of under-
standing cities, I think the most important habits of thought are
these:
1. To think about processes;
2. To work inductively, reasoning from particulars to the gen-
eral, rather than the reverse;
3. To seek for “unaverage” clues involving very small quan-
tities? which reveal the way larger and more “average” quantities are operating.

This sums up Jane’s method of inquiry: process otology, inductive reasoning, and street knowledge (gladly, no word for this). The process ontology is the method of observing behaviors (processes) and its relations to specific factors.

I’ve always been skeptical of anything beyond the third habit: street knowledge. Its not that I’m just skeptical of Jane’s method of inquiry, rather, in my mind, it all fell under street knowledge; I didn’t distinguish it.

Of districts, main streets, individual shops, public placss, public spaces, neighborhoods, people, gentrification, de-gentrification, ethnic enclaves — all of which have their own unique culture, the people individually, public transport, pedestrian and biking accessibility, and so on, is all magically inputed in the mind, and decisions come out. I don’t think of the method of inquiry. I only think of the particulars and creating a particular application. Never further.

Jane might be on to something, beyond spending half a book attacking quantitative thinkers, she’s able to talk to those thinkers, “scientists” in Dewey’s terms, she’s able to communicate. Every city dweller has the intuition of her book, but she seems to be the first to explicate it, and in doing so, she created an important urban planning book.

Instead of trying to create social movements, create technology to to enable people to make more political decisions, create anarchist spaces, create art which could convey the same messages in a much higher speed, she decided to talk to the scientists.

It’s strange that scientists can even talk. Perhaps the pertinent question is: why scientists are unable to learn from experience as opposed to the symbols of communication from others? Why did they fail to see this when they live in New York? Why did they fail to see it communicated through art? Does a strong artist-scientist dichotomy really exist?

I think the problem, perhaps missing from the book, is of culture and economy, in this case, American culture and American capitalism. Why the developers (private and public) have surplus wealth in the first place, spend it hastily on urbanization — likely pressured by capitalism, and the greater the city the greater the pressure, and what do they hope people will act like?; Why their culture brought them up to think scientifically, even on non-science topics. [todo: could continue this thought]

The surplus wealth, the productivity, the close-grained juxtaposition of talents that permit society to support advances such as these [the example was disease control] are themselves products of our organization into cities, and especially into big and dense cities.

I agree with the close position of talents communicating and acting, and the density factor of cites, though less so in a an exclusive capitalistic culture. I disagree on the fact they have to be big, and I don’t think it’s ideal either.

It may be romantic to search for the salves of society’s ills in slow-moving rustic surroundings, or among innocent, unspoiled provincials, if such exist, but it is a waste of time. Does anyone suppose that, in real life, answers to any of the great questions that worry us today are going to come out of homogeneous settlements?

Hah, this is quite persuasive. I agree that nothing comes out of homogenous settlements, but I disagree that things cannot be learned from other kinds of human settlements and societies. Human settlements and societies are the real experiments, and what works in one place could work in another. I disagree again: All cities depend on it’s rustic surroundings, and caring for them is a responsibility of the city, simply because they provide the sustenance. These areas do require more thinking, and one must be there to think about it. I disagree yet again: One can escape society’s ill’s by getting out of the society. When a city culture is so dominating and progress is too slow, outside of the city becomes a place with alternate possibilities (though, it’s sometimes possible to create alternative space within the city or make social progress for the entire city): where artists go to create villages, anarchists go to create their own districts, and generally where people go to form new communities, which themselves are vital, just on a smaller scale.

That leads to another point against big cities that Jacobs is missing: things don’t come out of big cities, they come out of particular people in it, as mentioned before, “the close-grained juxtaposition of talents”. A big city is just has more groups of organized talents, a university is supposed to have a higher ratio of these, a small town could have just as many equal to a vibrant neighborhood, down to a single group, which is probably around 2-15 people. It’s not the size, or even density in the case of China, it’s about throwing diverse people together and giving them space to allow them to self-organize.

Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.

New York is constantly devouring capital by constantly gentrifying itself. It regenerates at the cost of the world’s labor. In the act of caring for her city, a city I love too, Jane ensues blind optimism for it.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Area, Art, Communication, Community, Critical Theory, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Social Science, Social Philosophy, Urban Philosophy

A Curriculum of Experience

14 August 2015

In the recent past, I read pretty widely, it was an experience itself — learning English again, learning about a history of knowledge (philosophy), traveling through books, comparing reality, arguing — not so much passive reading. Now that I’m a bit more focused, my readings have become focused too, chosen based on past experiences and interests, before I began reading.

Though it does seem quite useless, impractical, lacking good use of working memory, and surely doing this out of current poor habit, over-organizing because I’m not in an active city, space, or social area, I’ve found that in the past, during downtime or simultaneously with work I end up consuming what media I do have most conveniently available — my smartphone — and so having some interesting media, is sometimes worth the trouble.

After writing down a few books of interest, it seems the theme of my interest is experience. If one is not experiencing, perhaps in a situation where creating experience is difficult, or one is simply in a lazy mode, perhaps books about experience will make one want to experience again, or remind oneself of one’s past experiences. Contrarily, if one is experiencing, then the books can be read simultaneously, and actually learn something from a book.

Hahahaha jk, books suck. If you must, let it be a practical handbooks and Wikipedia articles.

Update 17/9/15

It seems that this post, like the organized things I’ve written, is ever evolving. It started with creating a library related to experience, but as I used Wikipedia to attach words to ideas I’ve previously thought of, I’ve created an endless library of things I’ll never read. Though paradoxical, again, like the organized things I’ve written post, it turns out to be seemingly useful. Useful in the organization of ideas, but, as I often previously fought against during more active times in life, organization of ideas is not useful, it only seems so. 1) There is no need. The ideas exist, and always have since their inception. Instead of using time reading Wikipedia to map ideas to words as I just did here, I could be having experiences, creating new ideas, affecting the world, being a part of society. 2) It is uncreative. I could be creating my own words, which is an experience itself. 3) The use of vocabulary is limited to academics, making it inaccessible to the public. 4) The use of vocabulary influences others to conform to it, leading to the creation of a singular language… It’s circular logic, and it wastes real social time. It’s passive learning. One doesn’t need to know the political term or history of autonomism to understand it; If one can imagine an autonomous society, for example, most towns in Japanese role-playing video games, it is enough. Furthermore, along with the mapping of words to ideas, a useless history of philosophy often comes about. Only the mapping is what was seemingly important, nothing else. One should spend no further time on it. A google search of the description of an idea and appending “Wikipedia” to it usually suffices. If not, make a word up for it.

Update 27/11/15

It seems much of readings have shifted from experience toward critical theory, probably first as a result of wanting to describe the world, then later from being lazy and not experiencing and over-organizing.

Update 23/12/15

The People, Place, and Space Reader may be the closest description of the world and mind to my mind. Just a look at Simmel’s “Metropolis and the Mental Life” harks my early philosophy, which I wrote after much city experience. Previously, I thought David Harvey came closest, and before that, more classical critical theorists, but a glance at Harvey’s books one quickly learns that he relies on past human geographers and critical theorists and quotes them a lot to build a philosophy of human geography, and a glance at classical critical theorists one gets lost in the critiques of everything, failing to synthesize it with the contemporaneous world, especially the modern city. Forget classic philosophy canons (epistemology [maybe even pragmatism!] and political philosophy); Forget written language (save these essays). In the search of talking to someone about somethings, I’ve been distracted and misled by philosophy, distracted during the search for subjects that I wanted to talk about, misled by people who use past philosophers to help them write in a kind of infinite regression, and to larger forms of writings, which are more frequently mentioned in Wikipedia and sometimes even more easier to download (problem with digitization of essays and journals?), as opposed to contemporary concise essays and journal articles. God damn it. What a waste of time. Perhaps reading one essay from this book per week is enough. So glad the weather is warm now.

Still, this is only a small portion of my mind; It’s merely only the passive side. It’s missing the entire creative, active portion: creating public spaces, new media political city art, tools for society, urban material ideas, and so on, for that political end of increasing the freedom for others. I’m happy that such a book exists, but such an academic organization is quite useless compared to an active social organization that continuously deals with society, and the things that come out of the process — the realization of ideas with the aforementioned political ends.

writings on reading

Why Did I Read?
The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas

currently interested in

From my ebook playlist:

towards social change via geography:
Society in Time and Space: A Geographical Perspective on Change by Robert Dodgshon
– provides a good overview of the social change debate. The last chapter is the main social change reading, though, the history chapter looks fun too. Other chapters include how culture (and symbolization), built environment, and organization affect social change.

environmental social science:
1.***** The People, Place, and Space Reader
– see this recent thought which was a reaction to the discovery of this selection of essays, which notes the like-mindedness and importance of these essays to my mind
further recommended readings, though there are enough in the introductions to each section of the book
possibly affiliated programs, journals, and organizations
– possible further readings from a school department affiliated with the editors: student and faculty favorites of recommended readings by CUNY environmental psychology program, seems like a great selection, including things like Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernism, Life a User’s Manual, “The Child in the City”, “The Power of Maps”, Illuminations by Walter Benjamin, and “Nature’s Metropolis”!
– Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture by one of the editors of this book, is another collection

cultural theory readings:
2.*** culture and society: contemporary debates edited by Alexander and Seidman
– seems like a canonical set of essays on culture from sociology, anthropology, critical theorists, Frankfurt School, etc. Easy reads. Should be able to read completely as the essays are quite popular.

natural societies:

towards an ideal society using cases of real societies:
1. anarchism
– Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
– contains possible contemporary political directions in a straightforward way
— leads to other books by Graeber
— synthesizes autonomous societies and anthropology
?. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
– whoa

1. existing autonomous societies / anarchist anthropology
– Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play by James C. Scott
– The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
– Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
– Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
– not really autonomous, maybe even dependent, but super interesting

self-organization:
1. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
1. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

classic anthropology cannon:
1. anthropology
– especially The Protestant Ethic, The Gift, and Debt
———————-

1. anything by Dewey

1. fun in critical theory
– especially The Society of the Spectacle

1. aesthetics in critical theory
– especially Walter Benjamin, Marshal McLuhan

1. core critical theory

1. critical theory list mostly influenced by my desire to understand cities and the world from my experience, most of which happened to capitalistic
?. Figures of Dissent by Terry Eagleton
– cannot find :(
1. Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Bronner
1. “Traditional and Critical Theory” from Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
2. “The Right to the City” by David Harvey (2008, Henri Lefebvre’s in in 1968)
3. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961)
4. the political portion of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
– the rest of his work is limited to spoken and written language
4. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas (1962)
5. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey (1973)
– almost requires Marx
5. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
6. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
7. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
7. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
8. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
9. Place: A Short Introduction
10. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp

practical handbooks

WARNING: stop, think, do, repeat.

activism:
– in what public spaces do people participate for this in Taiwan?
*. Cypherpunks by Julian Assange
1. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp
– leads to The Politics of Nonviolent Action series by Gene Sharp
Swarmwise by Rick Falkvinge

design and technology:
– probably better to regular hackerspaces and workshops in the city
Make series by Charles Platt
Practical Electronics for Inventors by Paul Scherz
The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill
MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series
– Wikipedia is probably better than this

values and ideals

WARNING: perhaps you’re just unable to do things. No, that’s paradoxical. How about comparing your values and ideals with Wikipedia, in hopes of practically doing things to achieve them?

Wikipedia articles:
values and ideals:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science,_technology_and_society

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_living
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_building
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_society
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharing_economy

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociology_of_space
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_place
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_center
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Place
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_anarchist_communities

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_studies

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_social_science

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_design
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_geography
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_geography

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_psychology
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holism
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction#David_Harvey
—- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_and_consumer_science

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_order
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_progress

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomism

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Interventionism
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_action

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fl%C3%A2neur

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_academic_disciplines#Philosophy
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities

maybe:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society#Knowledge
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-democracy#Civil_society
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Government#United_States

experience

WARNING: remind yourself not to read before reading.

experience:
1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey, the philosopher-king of experience
– leads to pragmatism
2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
– can continue to aesthetics in critical theory
3. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by Hume
– can try other British empericists

urban experience (also urban semiotics):
0. these essays
– also The People, Place, and Space Reader, though probably impossible to find, table of contents is available online and seems amazing, covering many urban topics
1. Image and the City by Kevin Lynch
2. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
?. Baudelaire’s Media Aesthetics: The Gaze of the Flâneur and 19th-Century Media

urban experience and early marxist geography?:
1. Urban Experience (combines Consciousness and the Urban Experience, and The Urbanization of Capital) by David Harvey
– leads to marxist geography?

marxist geography (aka David Harvey):
-1. watch his lectures first!
0. “Right to the City” by David Harvey
1. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
– most recent overview, containing many old ideas
1. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
2. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey
Antipode journal
[The Condition of Post-Modernity is elsewhere]
[Limits to Capital and Companion to Marx’s Capital is elsewhere]

human geography:
1. Place: A Short Introduction
For Space by Doreen Massey

urban experience and urban planning:
1. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
– leads to The Economy of Cities
?. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte

fun

WARNING: okay, so you’re not feeling so practical. Perhaps you’re just unable to create an experience at the moment, out of creative energy, and just need media to push you to be more active. Well, for that, it’s better to just watch a film. Don’t you dare go further!

fun in critical theory

contemporary fun:
game philosophy and design:
0. Babycastles Zine Reading Lounge
1. Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
2. Rules of Play by Katie Sellen and Eric Zimmerman
Art of Game Design by Jessie Schell
MIT Press’s Playful Thinking series
– Play Matters by Miguel Sicart
MIT Press’s Game Histories series

magical realism fiction:
*. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
*. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
1. Collected Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borjes
1. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino?

travel books:
current travel books, especially for the country I am in
Book of the Marvels of the World by Marco Polo
?/Italian Journey by Goethe
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

essays:
*. The Essays by Francis Bacon
1. The Complete Essays by Montaigne and translated by Donald A. Frame
2. Essays and Letters by Seneca
– leads to Montaigne
3. Essays by Emerson
4. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell
?. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
?. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
– leads to Philosophy and Social Hope by Richard Rorty

formal system (to help express ideas within a formal system):
1. Euclid’s Elements (might as well learn some geometry too?)
2. Spinoza’s Ethics (just to glance at an application)

vocabulary / glossaries:
Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society by Raymond Williams
A Glossary of Cultural Theory by Peter Brooker
– saw at NTU’s library, seems like a great way to gain ideas through words which should help express ideas in a human language
– mentions influence of Keywords in the beginning

games and math:
On Numbers and Games by John Conway

design

WARNING: maybe you just traveled a bunch via scooter and have visions of utopia. Emblazon them onto a medium quickly! Etch out those crazy ideas. Don’t you dare compare your visions with other’s. You will lose the memory of it soon.

city history:
The City in History by Lewis Mumford

Design and Planning:
urban design (especially ideal designs):
1. A Pattern Language and Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander (read together)
– leads to SimCity 2000
2. Design with Nature – Ian McHarg
– “ecological design” that may go well with A Pattern Language
?/3. City as Landscape – Tom Turner
– “post-postmodern” design

urban design and public spaces:
1. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jan Gehl
– leads to many well-received books of his, culminating in Cities for People

“land ethic”:
A Sand Country Almanac by Aldo Leopold (referenced in A Pattern Language, listed under Columbia’s 2015 syllabus, and fits Taiwan’s ideology)
post-scarcity economy and other utopias

contemporary philosophy

WARNING: if the thought of reading one of these occurs, you must either be suffering from sensory deprivation, or, nearly completely lost all sensational experience and social connections from the real world.

Dialectic (the opposite of experience?):
1. The Great Conversation: The Substance Of A Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler
– leads to The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought
2. Dialectic by Mortimer J. Adler
3. Dialogues by Plato
– particularly those involving Socrates
4. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea by Arthur O. Lovejoy

power:
*. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
– alternative: The Essential Chomsky

philosophy of mind / cognition / cognitive science:
1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

media theory:
aesthetics in critical theory

contemporary anthropology:
*. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
1. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
– leads to Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire
– leads to Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination
– leads to Debt
– leads to important things to think about related to anarchism
4. Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber
5. The Western Illusion of Human Nature by Marshall Sahlins
6. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
?. Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

classic anthropology:
1. The Gift by Marcel Mauss
– leads to Debt
1. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber
– part of Columbia Curriculum
2. The Interpretation Of Cultures by Geertz
3. Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss
Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
– also listed under game philosophy
The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

“political economy”, “comparative politics”:
x. classic ecnomists (Smith, Malthus, Mill, etc.)
– eh
?. Montesquieu
1. Tocqueville
2. Marx

contemporary sociology:
Sociology: A Very Short Introduction by Steve Bruce
Central Problems in Social Theory by Anthony Giddens

critique of technology:
The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul
Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford

critical theory

:
introductions:
1. A Very Short Introduction to Critical Theory
Introducing Critical Theory
2. Culture and Materialism by Raymond Williams
– intro to Verso Books Radical Thinkers series
Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson
Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books
*. ideas of Marx, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, and more?

Marxism:
s/1. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
– skipped
s/1. Engels: A Very Short Introduction by Tarrell Carver
– skipped
s/2. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
– skipped
3. Marx-Engels Reader
– use this beginner list from the Marxists Internet Archive for ordered and selected readings, and furthermore a selection from the people who created that website
— started here with the beginner list
4. Capital, Volume 1 by Karl Marx
– can read with A Companion to Marx’s Capital by David Harvey
– leads to Marxist autonomism
– leads to The Limits to Capital by David Harvey
– leads to Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny by Alex Callinicos
– required for most of critical theory
5. Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny by Alex Callinicos
– includes David Harvey and other contemporaries
6. The Limits to Capital by David Harvey
?. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter
– “creative destruction”
?. Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci
?. History and Class Consciousness by Lukacs

core critical theory:
*. an interview with Rick Roderick
*. The Self Under Siege: Philosophy In The Twentieth Century by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)
1. Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
– especially “Traditional and Critical Theory”
2. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
3. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas
4?. Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer
– leads to Dialectic of Enlightenment, but maybe not needed
4. Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer
– leads to Habermas
5. Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lectures and Essays Since the End of World War II (Verso Books Radical Thinkers) by Max Horkheimer
– more simple material
5. One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse
6. The Culture Industry [essays] by Theodore Adorno
– maybe should read Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction first
?. Minima Moralia by Theodore Adorno
New Left Review journal
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. MIT Press’s Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought series
– seems to continue elaborating around Habermas’s subjects: some combination of critical theory, pragmatism, communication, and public life

Responses to Dialectic of Enlightenment, One-Dimensional Man, instrumental rationality and whatever that opposes it (nature? individual self-organization?):
Rick Roderick’s’ lectures on Marcuse and Habermas
Alan Watts: The Discipline of Zen
Alan Watts: Buddhism and Science

Freudo-Marxism in critical theory:
1. The Art of Being by Erich Fromm
– out of interest, and out of order
2. Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
3. Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud by Herbert Marcuse
4. The Sane Society by Erich Fromm

Post-Marxism and contemporary critical theorists:
it includes Althusser, David Harvey, Slavoj Zizek, Jameson, Derrida, Baudrillard, Badiou, Hardt and Negri, some of whom are elsewhere on this page, and if it is too large thrown under contemporary totalities, also the wiki for Post-Marxism for a longer list of Post-Marxists
Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses by Louis Althusser
– leads to Sublime Object of Ideology, though the idea of ideology is probably enough
1. The Sublime Object of Ideology Slavoj Zizek
– leads to Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
– which then leads to MIT Press’s Short Circuits series
1. “Culture” by Fredric Jameson

fun in critical theory:
1. The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
x/2. Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre
– 900 pages, no thanks
3. Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem

aesthetics in critical theory:
1. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin
– leads to Understanding Media by Herbert Marshall McLuhan
– which in turn leads to The System of Objects, The Ecstasy of Communication, Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
2. Aesthetics and Politics (Verso Books Radical Thinkers series) by people from the The Frankfurt School
3. Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs (Verso Books) by Walter Benjamin
4. Aesthetic Theory by Theodor Adorno

other critical things:
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
– part of the Columbia Curriculum
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Friere
Dialogues by Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet

philosophy of social science:
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. The New Science by Giambattista Vico
– the following three are from Googling the above two books:
?. Prospects for a Theory of Radical History chapter of Interpretation Radical but Not Unruly by Joseph Margolis
?. Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look by Paul Rabinow
?. Surviving the Twentieth Century: Social Philosophy from the Frankfurt School to the Columbia Faculty Seminars by Judith Marcus
?. [Rorty fits here too]

————- (end of critical theory)

selected contemporary political philosophy

:

post-politics:
an anti-state communism curriculum
Semiotext(e) / Interventions series

anarchism:
1. AK Press Working Classics series
2. Reddit’s anarchy101 canon
3. a goodreads list
– On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
– Anarchism by Emma Goldman
– Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber
?. Wikipedia list of books about anarchism
– What is Property? by Proudhon
– Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
– The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
– etc.

autonomism:
1. Autonomia: Post-Political Politics by Sylvère Lotringer
Empire by Negri and Hardt
– leads to two more books in the series
1. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy by Franco Bifo Berardi
– seems especially interesting

anarchist anthropology and cases of autonomous societies, especially in Asia-Pacific:
1. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
– also Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
– also Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts
– also Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play
1. Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
2. Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians by Pierre Clastres

self-organization (the philosophy of organization?):
1. The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
– leads to A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
– leads to The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
1. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

post-scarcity economy and other utopias

:
1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
2. The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
– leads to Sacred Economics, lived in Taiwan
3. The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought
4. The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty & War
Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

contemporary totalities

WARNING: for use in prison only
philosophy:
0. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
– looks great, but can probably skip to Harvey
1. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change by David Harvey
2. Architecture as Metaphor by Kojin Karatini
3. Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
4. Transcritique: On Kant and Marx by Kojin Karatini

special:
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

classic philosophy

WARNING: aside from Hume, Kant, Dewey, and maybe an intro to Roy Bhasker, these may be useless

classic (and some contemporary):
history of philosophy:
*The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Daniel N. Robinson a la The Great Courses
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
*A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
*A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny
A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by Feng YouLan
– use as a guide to his larger History of Chinese Philosophy

general:
Philosophy: The Classics published by Nigel Warburton (Routledge)
– good to skim over ideas from classics and choose the pertinent ones

epistemology:
The epistemological readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the epistemology section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
*. The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
– introduction up to analytic epistomology
– from Descartes to Hume, possibly stopping before Kant, and ignoring analytic logic, especially Scottish Enlightenment (Reid and Hume)
– leads to pragmatism
a possible source: MIT Press’s Readers in Contemporary Philosophy

materialism:
1. On the Nature of Things by Lucretius

rationalism, [British] empiricism, direct realism, and Kant:
*. Discourse on the Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy by Descartes [rationalism]
?. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Locke [empiricism]
?. Berkeley [empiricism]
1. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume empiricism]
– maybe need to read Locke’s essay first, but try this first anyway
?. Inquiry into the Human Mind by Thomas Reid [direct realism]
2. The Critique of Pure Reason by Kant
– the Wikipedia article seems to suffice: the historical bits, Transcendental Aesthetic, and Transcendental Analytic
?. Mill

pragmatism:
1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey
– leads to Experience and Nature, Art as Experience, Experience and Education, Democracy and Education (though, these are super obvious ideas)
– personal choice
2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
– personal choice
3. “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” by Charles Pierce
– foundation of canon, maybe from some essay collection
4. Pragmatism by William James
– concise lecture on the main concept
5. this excellent Wikipedia article on Instrumentalism contains Dewey and Popper debate
6. Pragmatism: An Introduction by Michael Bacon
– surveys pragmatism and the future of it (neo-pragmatism, etc.)
– can’t find
6. American Philosophy before Pragmatism by Russell B. Goodman
– possible alternative?
?. The Social Psychology of George Herbert Mead edited by Anselm Strauss
?. Mind, Self, and Society by George Herbert Mead
?. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness
– precursor to process philosophy
?. An Introduction to Metaphysics by Henri Bergson
?. Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson
– Bergson’s best, doubles as film theory

neo-pragmatism:
1. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
– leads to Philosophy and Social Hope (essays) by Richard Rorty

critical realism:
1. Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy by Andrew Collier
2. Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation by Margaret Scotford Archer
– could not find

knowledge:
1. Meaning by Michael Polanyi
2. Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi
3. Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi

political philosophy:
The political readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the political section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
– from Plato to Nozick, especially those related to idealism, anarchism, and autonomy for the development of an autonomous state. Or simply skip to contemporary political philosophy. Or just skip to Marx, [because] the rest of this is ideal bullshit. Or skip entirely and rely on personal experience.
*. Marx and Engels
1. Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel
– covers most of things things below, except Habermas
1. The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas by Lawrence Cahoone a la The Great Courses
– covers all and beyond Habermas
2. political theory sections of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
?. The Republic by Plato
?. Politics by Aristotle
?. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
– only read summary of ideas
?. the second treatise of Two Treatises of Government by John Locke
– for property and slavery related things
?. Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract by Rousseau
?. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
*. “Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” by Kant
*. “Perpetual Peace” by Kant
?. Theory of Justice by John Rawls
– use Wikipedia instead. “Justice as Fairness” is listed under recommended readings in the Columbia Curriculum
?. Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick

moral philosophy (aka [normative] ethics):
– from Aristotle to Scanlon, especially Kant’s idealism for public space ethics. May be better to ignore it all and rely on my own ideals.
*. Philosophy and Human Values lecture by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)
1. Quest for Meaning: Values, Ethics, and the Modern Experience by Robert H. Kane a la The Great Courses
– covers most, not including Habermas
1. “discourse ethics” section of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
2. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
3. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Kant

Philosophy of Life, Existentialism, etc.:
– “Inspired by the critique of rationalism in the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche, it emerged in 19th-century Germany as a reaction to the rise of positivism and the theoretical focus prominent in much of post-Kantian philosophy”
– Probably should avoid and stick to pragmatism.
x. Friedrich Nietzsche
– On the Genealogy of Morals, 200 pages, includes ascetism, but seems very simple
x. Arthur Schopenhauer
– The World as Will and Representation is huge, only read Wikipedia article or some kind of summary of ideas
x. Søren Kierkegaard
– The World as Will and Representation is huge, only read Wikipedia article or some kind of summary of ideas
?. Henri Bergson
?. The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics by Nitzan Lebovic
1. Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings by George Simmel
– “Simmel was a precursor of urban sociology, symbolic interactionism and social network analysis.”
?. Wilhelm Dilthey

resources for general contemporary Left politics:
a very good goodreads list

resources for urban planning:
www.goodreads.com/list/show/16343.Top_Urban_Planning_books_Of_All_time
www.goodreads.com/list/show/18438.Must_Read_Architecture_Books#30833

resources for critical theory:
1. a goodreads list
– great list, unorganized

reddit reading list for critical theory
– great list to go along Wikipedia article

The Verso Undergraduate Reading List
goodreads list

list of radical left publications
Verso Books Radical Thinkers series

Critical Theory for beginners reading list
– Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press
– Routledge Critical Thinkers series
Introducing… series
– Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books

The School of Life
– youtube videos
– book of life

5 critical theory lecture series blog post
– EGS youtube including Manuel De Landa, Wes Cecil, Paul Fry, Rick Roderick, David Harvey

MIT book series

goodreads list to frame thinking

1000 little hammers, contains some ebooks on critical theory, especially Situationist International

resources for art and aesthetics:
www.goodreads.com/list/show/98305.Contemporary_Art#184042

Leave a comment | Categories: Epistemology, Experience, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Urban Philosophy

The Ideology of Taiwan

09 May 2015

[TODO: mind dump part 1:]

In the past I’ve professed many characteristics of Taiwan that I enjoy, and even would want in an ideal society: Taiwan: First Impressions, Taiwan and Japan: Active and Passive lifestyles, Autonomy of Taiwan.

Poke some questions at a Taiwanese person and one will quickly come to the conclusion that Taiwan lacks ideology. Ask them their identity, what they’ve done, are doing, and want to do, what they like and don’t, the common response is “I don’t know”. But watch for a moment and their ideology comes to view, like cute ants they create incredibly cute mounds for everyone to live in, high quality tools for everyone to use, and still have a soft spot for their traditions: old and new.

Positive Facade

Everything is done with a seemingly positive attitude, so it’s quite difficult to see the struggle. During the protests, their struggle expressed itself in the least forceful ways: sunflowers, posters, decorative arts, and sit-ins. Again, ask them how they feel about the protest and the common answer is “The government is bad. I don’t know what to do. Taiwan is always struggling.” with a cute angry face.

Another example of this positive facade: it is common to see people happily working, yet once one reads their Facebook posts, their journals, their LINE messages, struggle appears in the form of sad emoticons from LINE, FB cat emoticons, and short writings.

Why the positive facade? Why not simply directly express negative feelings? Was negative expression punished and rid of during education? Frowned upon (should endure)? Is this simply a cultural difference in negative expression?

When a positive facade is created in society, perhaps it becomes more difficult to express negatively, simply because it is against the norm. The resulting conflict being a positive facade opposing another positive facade.

This seems to be the case in employee-employer relationships. Both work seemingly happy, but force exists, and in covert messages unhappiness exists.

The unhappiness doesn’t seem to stem from working, but rather, working for another person. Whenever one encounters an individual worker, say a street food cart worker, or a small school teacher, they seem to have to no qualms. It is a happier choice to have one’s own business in a less developed area than to work for another in a more developed one. (And I agree!)

[Even the slightest force is avoided. An aversion to force.]

Cute and Happy World

The cute and happy aesthetic even manifests itself in material: cute advertisements, products, applications, fashion, shoe-gazing music. Perhaps the same can be said for Japan. It creates an incredibly safe environment for all ages. One may feel quite difficult to find anything remotely socially bad in even Taiwan’s largest city.

The happiness of the people and material makes seeing the problems in society, consciously thinking about them, ever more difficult. This may be my largest criticism against Taiwanese society. So although there is plentiful cuteness in food stands, pet stores, foreigners, and any new product, worthy of several photos to the social norm, few seem to see the butcher of animals, the tiny cages pets live in, whatever awful things foreigners often do, and the factories in which the products are made.

The Cute Impulse

The response to cute aesthetic is a savage impulse. Like reacting happily to eating of tasty food or watching a cat video, it requires no rational. It is a an impulse, a feeling. And in this way, Taiwanese society seems to often react impulsively.

Technology has exasperated this problem. LINE is Facebook, Instagram, Vine, voice-messaging, maybe even Skype, all-in-one. Feelings are expressed in emoticons. Messages are shorter than twitter messages. The sublime is captured by phone cameras. Action is taken without waiting.

If it Works, Integrate it

[Action without thought. Buying things at 7-11, McDonalds, without thought of consequence. Whatever works, the society will integrate it. Hostels work? Build hostels. Tea, snack shops, cafes work? Build them! Too many in Taipei? Develop the rest of Taiwan!]

They have a knack for creating hospitable places, have high regards for health.

Good design.

Leave a comment | Categories: Social Philosophy, Taiwan, Thoughts, Travel

The Infinite Amount of Information of the City

11 January 2015

A digression from the end of The Limits of my Language.

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

Just walking through it is enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment | Categories: Mind and Matter, New York, Philosophy

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