Rahil

Category Archives for: Thoughts

Starting Over

21 December 2016

related posts: Being Political and Apolitical [todo: this post is still a draft], The Choices in Taiwan

The music makes me feel alive, but it’s a fake sensation. How long I lived with music during my suburban life. Without it, I am dead, in need of sensation[, experience], people, nature, love.

a thought during my readings today, and a huge extension of that thought:
Critical Theory and Taoism are opposites, yet, I am attracted to both. The search for problems in society and making it aware for social change, and, living in harmony with one’s self and with nature (including people). The first is political, the second is apolitical. Then, doesn’t that make Taoism ignorant, apathetic, and therefore unawaringly conservative — permitting the conservation of the existing cultures of people? Critical theory desires to change culture. I want to change culture, yet I want to be in one.

Should I begin again, alone? Make a few close friends? Work one’s way from individual to society?

Should I go into the wild and reside there? Create my own society?

Were all those [my past] civil community ideas useless? Because their [contemporary cultures’] values will never be as extreme as mine, no matter how much I politic with them?

I have no desire to help, work, live, with people whom I don’t value. I used to value Taiwanese people. What happened?

I shall find my own place in nature [vs city]. With kids. With a girl. And we will play all night. And it will be beautiful.

Fuck the world.

[I heard this (for the first time) either the same day or the next day:]

There are no cities, no cities to love.
There are no cities, no cities to love.
It’s not the city, it’s the weather we love!

It’s not the weather, it’s the nothing we love!

It took so long for me to see it
Hope’s a burden or it sets you free
Wandered through the void of you
Wandered through the void of me
I’ve grown afraid of everything that I love.

It’s not the weather [nothing], it’s the people we love!
Sleater Kinney,”No Cities to Love”

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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

Action, Attention, and Space

19 June 2016

[related posts: The Ideal Work]

[todo: written without editing]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[todo: can continue]

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

Childhood and Media and This Recent Lonely Phase

18 June 2016

[todo: written without editing]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[todo: end here / end of session 2]


[todo: lost a thought here?]


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

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

[todo: can continue]

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

Philosophy of Music

09 June 2016

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

page 0

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

page 1

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

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

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

page 2?

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

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

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

[todo: epistemology of music]

[todo: action and music]

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

page 3?

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

last page?

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

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

empty page with title

[todo: American culture and music -> media]

an older page

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

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

My Workflow for Written Expression

03 June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Public Sphere during the Second Sophistic

20 May 2016

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

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

writing transcribed from a paper, then continued writing here:

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

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

sophist competition

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

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

real philosophy

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

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

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

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

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

sophize, now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

side notes

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

thoughts on the introduction chapter of Eshleman’s book:

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

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

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

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

Romantic Periods

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

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

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

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

Inclusion/Exclusion and the Transition from Oral to Written

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

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

Eshleman’s Thesis and My Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Few Lessons in Research of a Past Time

sources

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

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

possible future sources:

primary:

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

secondary:

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

further reading:

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

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The Choices in Taiwan and Initiating a Cooperative from Nothing

14 May 2016

[self-note: this was published using markdown, and is a really good example post using it]

the choices in Taiwan

Nor can it be said truly that a pure­blooded Chinese could ever quite disagree with Chuangtse’s ideas. Taoism is not a school of thought in China, it is a deep, fundamental trait of Chinese thinking, and of the Chinese attitude toward life and toward society. It has depth, while Confucianism has only a practical sense of proportions; it enriches Chinese poetry and imagination in an immeasurable manner, and it gives a philosophic sanction to whatever is in the idle, freedom­loving, poetic, vagabond Chinese soul. It provides the only safe, romantic release from the severe Confucian classic restraint, and humanizes the very humanists themselves; therefore when a Chinese succeeds, he is always a Confucianist, and when he fails, he is always a Taoist.
Yutang Lin (林語堂), Zhuangzi (莊子), Introduction

I recently felt that in Taiwan, and this may apply to any single-cultured country, that the choice of cultures is ultimately limited to two: with the society or without.

Taiwan lacks communities with diversity and ideal values. Of my time here, I have only found two places with ideal values but without diversity (of mind), and several with a little more diversity but without ideal values. Furthermore, I felt unable to find or even create a place-based community within Taiwan’s society.

That feeling contrasts with the feeling in multiple-cultured societies, where I felt I’m able to manipulate a space to create a place-based community within the existing dense settlement, or simply join one of the existing diverse, ideal-valued communities.

Taiwan has one culture [not including aboriginal cultures], therefore there is only one choice within it. America has several cultures, therefore several choices exist through its cultures: other countries’ cultures, capitalism, art life, consumerism, religions, non-culture, media-oriented culture (suburbanism), technological optimism, hippies, small towns, The South, etc.

In Taiwan, the only partially-inclusive spaces I have found with such diverse cultures are places where international people meet: hostels, Chinese class, post-graduate school. I have not found other spaces [within the society] that escape the cultural values of Taiwanese society.

Hostels are where I lived and what I mostly called a home, so the experience was phenomenal: I had a well-valued home, surrounded by a ethically-good culture and infinite nature. Without such places, one finds one’s self in a scary singular society, and without willingness to participate in that scary society, one is left with only one choice: to leave it.

It is by far the society I’ve spent the longest time in, excluding the suburbs where I grew up. But, I can’t say I lived in it the entire time. I was in my own world [todo: link a post which exemplifies this], while my body was in Taiwan’s world. Perhaps the public spaces were the only Taiwanese places I’ve spent a lot of time in: the streets, day markets, neighborhoods, parks, nature: you know, the spaces where passion is satisfied capital-free. I’m unsure if that counts as living in it.

Alas, it is time to find that little place next to the mountain, not far from a city, with the best climate (and microclimate!) of the country. Somewhere east of Tainan I believe. And so, like the Trascendentalists who probably had to escape Puritanism, and the Taoists who probably had to escape Confucianism, I must escape Taiwanese culture, or whatever words one uses to describe the values of contemporary Taiwan.

At least, for the moment; Before I re-attempt to create an ideal community within the city[?] again; Or before I re-attempt to cooperate with Taiwanese society again [No! Create your own. Do not join others. Let them join you!].

progeniting an ideal cooperative from nothing, with special guest: Aristotle

[I] Also might need a place in the city too, but hopefully with good weather and easy access to nature to keep me sane [Noooo].

The next twelve years Aristotle devoted with extraordinary industry to the establishment of a school, the Lyceum, to the institution and pursuit of a program of investigation, speculation, and teaching in almost every branch of knowledge, and to the composition of all, or most, or at least the more scientific portions, of those of his writings which are now extant.
Richard McKeon, The Basic Works of Aristotle, Biographical Note

This, except for my directions: critical theory, social and urban interventions, civic technology, games, etc.

Aristotle began teaching regularly in the morning in the Lyceum and founded an official school called “The Lyceum”. After morning lessons, Aristotle would frequently lecture on the grounds for the public and manuscripts of his compiled lectures were eventually circulated. The group of scholars who followed the Aristotelian doctrine came to be known as the Peripatetics due to Aristotle’s tendency to walk as he taught.

So, I should begin by creating meet-ups in public places: ask a well-located temple; or can alternate places based on weather: hot springs, cold springs, day markets. Whoever comes frequently, may become a friend or associate, but the goal is not to create an organization:

Unlike Plato, Aristotle was not a citizen of Athens and so could not own property; he and his colleagues therefore used the grounds of the Lyceum as a gathering place, just as it had been used by earlier philosophers such as Socrates. Aristotle and his colleagues first began to use the Lyceum in this way in about 335 BCE., after which Aristotle left Plato’s Academy and Athens, and then returned to Athens from his travels about a dozen years later. Because of the school’s association with the gymnasium, the school also came to be referred to simply as the Lyceum. Some modern scholars argue that the school did not become formally institutionalized until Theophrastus took it over, at which time there was private property associated with the school.
Wikipedia, Peripatetic school

If Aristotle was a citizen and was able to own property, would he have tried to get space? Did he have the money (surely Alexander paid him well. Maybe I’m reading this wrong?)? When such a good space exists, why spend money on another space? Use the public space!

Aristotle’s main focus as a teacher was cooperative research, an idea which he founded through his natural history work and systematic collection of philosophical works to contribute to his library. His students were assigned historical or scientific research projects as part of their studies. The school was also student run. The students elected a new student administrator to work with the school leadership every ten days, allowing all the students to become involved in turn.
Richard McKoen

Yes, the program is entirely cooperative, and molded by the people within it. Though, projects shouldn’t be assigned by one person, rather, people should assign it to themselves, and be responsible for it, out of intrinsic desire, which is precisely what a good social meet-up conceives in the minds of its participants.

Administration is a pain: setting up meetings, inventory management, etc. The dirty work must be shared, just as cleaning a bathroom in a shared apartment is.

Media can be shared within a physical space. It must be convenient to access to by participants that use it the most. Because one doesn’t have a space, one will have to negotiate, in the case of a temple, with the temple’s staff. [problem: access limited by time; not 24 hours]

The aim of the school, at least in Aristotle’s time, was not to further a specific doctrine, but rather to explore philosophical and scientific theories; those who ran the school worked rather as equal partners.
Wikipedia

Everyone has an equal say in the whole of the organization.

The meet-ups (“school”) do not have a direction. The direction depends on its constituents, on what’s in the mind of the participants at that time. The participants and the directions may change frequently: Directions are temporal as the wandering mind’s thoughts. Participants are temporal too, as long as they are wandering too.

re-joining society

[todo: ???
I just had a daydream about restarting Humans of Taiwan, in Tainan, but with a critical theory emphasis. It’s still a similar format, but I select topics, questions, to be more critical. Pictures too can be critical, of urban and social problems. With it, people commented, and sometimes it would be civically helpful, and I would be able to solve small problems with the help of commenters. Doing this everyday would provide me organizing experience, networking with organizations, civic discussion through Facebook, and I would provide a model to solve civic problems. It is entirely bottom-up, because I begin with the individual’s problem; that is, what the individual thinks is a problem in their mind. By limiting subjects to I individuals’ problems, larger solutions, projects, implementations, may develop.
]

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Notes on Crowdsourcing Civil Action

14 May 2016

From a somewhat old (1-6 months) paper:

urban planning problem -> [Chris Marker-like] video -> use Facebook comments to talk about it (Facebook comments as forums) -> leads to something?

problems in reality [can be social?] -> media -> create and publish project on a crowdsourcing platform (i.e. Kickstarter) -> implement

examples:
people don’t have or wear motorcycle helmets -> Humans of Taiwan photo -> crowdsource petition (to influence companies, law organisations, etc.) -> keep updated
broken traffic light -> photo -> find correct organization to inform -> create application to automate process (i.e. FixMyStreet)

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Civics, Design, Humanities, New Media, Personal, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Thoughts

The Ideal Work

20 April 2016

[todo: search thoughts for exact thought.

Also can look at my previous history of how this is my categorical imperative, especially dependent on place: I move to a place and try to do good within the society. For example, I may stumble upon a city and try to improve the urban planning, or homeless people, or I may stumble upon a bunch of Burmese refugees and join a nearby social organization to try to improve the situation. But also how joining these organizations (especially anything large) are never satisfying because one must spend much time communicating, as opposed to doing, which leads (and isolates) me to take on more direct actions: personal art, media, urban and social interventions

This, with Capitalistic Behavior may become one of my largest posts, because it should contain my personal history (including experience), the ideal, the practical, and more.]

When I stumble upon a human settlement, I should have the ability to see problems or spaces for improvement and then implement the solution, which, especially of it involves society, may require others through social organizing, and through communication come to a consensus to take the necessary actions. That is the ideal work.

Politics [political philosophy] is the study of ideal social organization.
Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy

Politics then should be the practice of actualizing the ideal social organization. And I don’t mean a revolution. “Don’t get any big ideas“. Every tiny step counts.

It is during this kind of work, this state of mind, ideas, practical and theoretical, to improve society will form in the mind. This process is social progress.

As long as I begin the ideal work as an individual, I am not afflicted by the cultures (capitalism, social customs, the economic status of the others, the knowledge of the others). The danger begins once I interact with another to engage in political actions. I have to continually argue until the actions passes through.

group decision-making vs not (via capitalism):

Without capitalism, this would be far more smoother. With it, then I must either invest in myself, have other invest in the consensual action (a group of individuals pay), throw it on a crowd-sourcing platform (the public pays), ask government for a grant (public sector pays), or ask a capitalist for funding (private sector, venture capitalist pays).

When considering the time it takes to argue, to rationalize actions, make group decisions, nothing would ever get done, just science and government get nothing done; It is a bureaucratic dystopia. Artists and people who get shit done simply do not have the time to argue in this old-fashioned way. Instead, it’s done in lightning speed in the city, through the multiple methods of communication now available.

Hence, capitalism here, allows people to take actions without verification. In doing so, it creates a wildly uneven world. But as a person who wants to get shit done, because it must, then individually accumulating capital and then using it to fund my unverified actions appears to be the better path, because it is time-efficient.

Arguing against institutions is a waste of time. The amount of cultural problems within them, and the time to educate them on their problems are infinite. One [a single individual] cannot argue against every institution. Instead one must leave it to media which highlights their problems, or some other method of educating them At least, that’s the nice way.

How would people behave without capitalism? Would it be benevolent? Would that require some education in ethics? Without capital, then everyone must constantly make group decisions, or, it could turn into anarchy. Then, a common ethical foundation, which is then reproduced through culture, would be the only thing that keeps the society together.

Doot doot doot, this had digressed quite a bit.

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