robertogreco + cynicism   49

Sam Byers on Twitter: "Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating."
[referenced thread:
https://twitter.com/jack/status/1071575088695140353 ]

"Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating.

It’s significant, I think, that he sees it as a practice that is of value primarily when he returns to work. He likes it because it enables him to refresh and then return to doing more of what he did before.

There is no suggestion, in his thread, that he regards his personal practice as being part of any wider, more selfless contribution to life and the world. It’s simply a method of personal betterment, a hack.

He’s also, it seems, unable to let go of metrics. He wore his Apple Watch and thingummyjig ring throughout and regards the data he gleans from those devices as objectively significant - more significant, in fact, than any inner insight he might have achieved.

Throughout, there’s a distinctly macho emphasis on discomfort. He emphasises the pain of sitting, the mosquito bites, the tough guy willpower and endurance he had to summon.

He’s at pains to labour the point that this is not easy, or gentle, or something anyone can do. It’s tough, it’s gritty, it’s for the hard core.

And then he returns unchanged, determined to do even more work and, one presumes, keep getting richer.

I find this intriguing because I think it’s indicative of a very specific cultural and economic moment in which very old and very traditional belief systems are effectively ransacked for anything they can contribute to the modern cult of productivity.

No emphasis here on empathy or compassion, for example.

This doesn’t tell us a great deal about Vipassana meditation, but it tells us a huge amount about the belief system that is Silicon Valley tech-bro capitalism.

It is closed, highly individual, inward-looking, metric-driven, proud of itself.

It’s easy to see how the practice of meditation, which seems so solitary, even solipsistic, when poorly framed and understood, might be appealing as an adjunct to this world view, but the way these ideologies and practices intersect merits a lot of unpicking, in my view.

I would also say that the replies are pretty fascinating too. People are extraordinarily proud of their cynicism, and their ability to communicate that cynicism with wild hostility, as if this in itself is part of some kind of holistic world view.

When in fact those replies are just the *same* solipsistic, cynical, and very western mindset redoubled and reflected back.

So the whole exchange becomes a kind of pissing contest to see who can be most sure of themselves.

We’re right at the toxic intersection, here, of co-opted “eastern spirituality” and vapidly unquestioning capitalistic self-certainty and the result is frankly wild - just a total shitshow of confusion and anger.

Nothing new of course. Post sixties hippie capitalism is by now so entrenched as to be the norm, but the whole thing is hugely illustrative on all sides and merits a great deal more thought than, ironically, Jack’s medium will allow.

It’s also important to remember that Vipassana meditation doesn’t “belong” to Jack - it’s an ancient and significant tradition. Using that as a means to ridicule him actually just winds up ridiculing a whole big chunk of culture as an unintended consequence.

Short version: it *might not* be possible to interrogate spiritual materialism using... non-spiritual materialism."

[full text of referenced thread:

"For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar 🇲🇲. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know 👇🏼

Vipassana is a technique and practice to “know thyself.” Understanding the inner nature as a way to understand…everything. It was rediscovered by Gautama the Buddha 2,500 years ago through rigorous scientific self-experimentation to answer the question: how do I stop suffering?

Vipassana’s singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it: instead of unconsciously reacting to feelings of pain or pleasure, consciously observe that all pain and pleasure aren’t permanent, and will ultimately pass and dissolve away.

Most meditation methods end with a goal of strengthening concentration: focus on the breath. This was not Gautama’s goal. He wanted to end his attachment to craving (of pleasure) and aversion (of pain) by experiencing it directly. His theory was ending attachment ends his misery.

Imagine sitting on a concrete floor cross-legged for an hour without moving. Pain arises in the legs in about 30-45 minutes. One’s natural reaction is to change posture to avoid the pain. What if, instead of moving, one observed the pain and decided to remain still through it?

Vipassana would likely be good for those suffering chronic pain to help manage it. That’s not the goal of course, but definitely a simple practice to help. Being able to sit without moving at all for over an hour through pain definitely teaches you a lot about your potential.

Meditation is often thought of as calming, relaxing, and a detox of all the noise in the world. That’s not vipassana. It’s extremely painful and demanding physical and mental work. I wasn’t expecting any of that my first time last year. Even tougher this year as I went deeper.

I did my meditation at Dhamma Mahimã in Pyin Oo Lwin. This is my room. Basic. During the 10 days: no devices, reading, writing, physical excercise, music, intoxicants, meat, talking, or even eye contact with others. It’s free: everything is given to meditators by charity.

I woke up at 4 am every day, and we meditated until 9 pm. There were breaks for breakfast, lunch, and walking. No dinner. Here’s the sidewalk I walked for 45 minutes every day.

The 2nd day was my best. I was able to focus entirely on my breath, without thoughts, for over an hour. The most I could do before that was 5 minutes. Day 6 was my worst as I caught a nasty cold going around the center. Couldn’t sleep from then on but pushed through til the end.

On day 11, all I wanted to do was listen to music, and I again turned to my favorite poet, @kendricklamar and his album DAMN. The greatest effect coming out of silence is the clarity one has in listening. Every note stands alone.

Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country.

The highlight of my trip was serving monks and nuns food, and donating sandals and umbrellas. This group of young nuns in Mandalay and their chanting was breathtaking and chilling.

We also meditated in a cave in Mandalay one evening. In the first 10 minutes I got bit 117 times by mosquitoes 🦟 They left me alone when the light blew a fuse, which you can see in my heart rate lowering.

I also wore my Apple Watch and Oura ring, both in airplane mode. My best meditations always had the least variation in heart rate. When I wasn’t focused, it would jump around a lot. Here’s a night of sleep on the 10th night (my resting heart rate was consistently below 40).

Vipassana is not for everyone, but if any of this resonates with you even in the slightest, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If in the US, this center in Texas is a great start: https://siri.dhamma.org/

And if you’re willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar: https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schmahimar

Thanks for reading! Always happy to answer any questions about my experience. Will track responses to this thread. I’ll continue to do this every year, and hopefully do longer and longer each time. The time I take away to do this gives so much back to me and my work. 🇲🇲🙏🏼🧘🏻‍♂️

I’ve been meditating for 20 years, with the last 2 years focused on vipassana. After experiencing it in Texas last year, I wanted to go to the region that maintained the practice in its original form. That led me to Myanmar.

I took this time with a singular objective of working on myself. I shared my experience with the world with the singular objective of encouraging others to consider a similar practice. Simply because it’s the best thing I’ve found to help me every day.

I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.

This was a purely personal trip for me focused on only one dimension: meditation practice. That said, I know people are asking about what Twitter is doing around the situation, so I’ll share our current state.

Twitter is a way for people to share news and information about events in Myanmar as well as to bear witness to the plight of the Rohingya and other peoples and communities. We’re actively working to address emerging issues. This includes violent extremism and hateful conduct.

We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region. I had no conversations with the government or NGOs during my trip. We’re always open to feedback on how to best improve.

Will keep following the conversation and sharing what I learn here. 🙏🏼"]
jackdorsey  buddhism  religion  meditation  compassion  empathy  metrics  gamification  spirituality  quantification  vipassana  sambyers  individualism  materialism  capitalism  us  self-certainty  solipsism  cynicism  siliconvalley  californianideology  ideology 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Gravis McElroy on Twitter: "hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted"
"hey how about that the austin bomber was a deeply mediocre white man with the most basic-ass bone-stock conservative psuedopolitics with the reek of having been culled entirely from online comments who could have predicted

weird. can't figure out where he got the idea to kill random people of color from. i mean he did parrot the drivel of people who i remember even in 2000 couldn't go ten minutes without saying we should kill someone for not being white. no idea where he got this idea

https://medium.com/mammon-machine-zeal/ultraviolent-flash-games-after-9-11-b416b836f28e … i was just reading this yesterday and reflecting on how teens talked online in this era

I can tell you that a tremendous number of people, a really ghastly number, spent the entirety of their teen years not going more than a few minutes without saying or hearing "kill" directed broadly at a group of people. I was in that group.

that is to say, i was in the set of people who constantly talked about killing people

that's how we talked about everything. it was the go-to. virtually any described offense was met with the response that we should kill an entire group of people. the homeless, POC, gay people, trans people, nothing garnered more than a second or two of thought

anyone, absolutely anyone the least bit different than us - mediocre white teens - needed to be killed. It's still how people talk on 4 c h a n, a time capsule permanently frozen in 2006 with all its members permanently frozen at age 20.

nothing ever changes there. nothing changes on forums in general. the world is fixed permanently in the year that people joined the forum, because everyone on the forum has spent every day since they joined the forum on the forum.

By the way, people keep saying they remember the games in that ZEAL article. I don't, but the article still hit home because there were thousands of them. Thousands upon thousands. All indistinguishable. This is what we /did/ in that time.

there was a period in the early 2000s when the response to virtually any figure entering the media cycle was the immediate release of a complete multimedia spread including images, music and games, all depicting their death or suffering.

most of this was not in response to any kind of actual thought or emotion. there was a group-hate, where the existence of nearly anything was reason to hate it. the amount of hate in teenage boys was an immeasurable constant; we had an infinite supply of it.

why were my "peers" telling me to hate boy bands in 1999? i have no idea. nobody ever explained it, it was just assumed. this was the zeitgeist, a zeitgeist that was unexamined even by teenager standards.

but this shit was very much the root of a lot of what's going on right now. at age 12 i entered the greater growing web and was immediately inducted into a community of seething, pointless hatred directed at everything

I think I would have been a nicer person if I had been stopped from going to newgrounds. I think it made me a piece of shit and an asshole and I would have stayed that way and become a real mother fucker if not for friends specifically targeting my shittiness.

Gravis McElroy Retweeted the government man [https://twitter.com/me_irl/status/976490292948951041 ]
@me_irl
hey yeah what *was* this. i can see its roots start to emerge by like the 1970s in the form of compulsory derisive juvenile "parody" versions of absolutely everything

… I have no idea. I didn't go to school for this so I'm pretty sure someone at a university has a pretty good lock on why this happened, but yeah, it's kind of an incredibly scary part of our society that I've never seen addressed in any way.

Who told 11 year olds to start casually quipping about killing Barney? I know we weren't enjoying it. It wasn't funny or fun. We felt /compelled/, it was /expected/, and i suspect the motivations were circular with no patient zero to be found.

I can't harp on this enough: Nobody was having fun. Nothing going on on Newgrounds or anywhere else that was in this vein was fun. It wasn't entertaining. Even as dipshit kids, this whole thing was strained.

There was a formula. Nobody knew where it came from, but it seemed to have been there forever. The response to /all/ cultural phenomena was to create something deeply cynical and usually violent and we were doing it like we were punching a clock. The laughs were forced.

I can't prove this. The time has passed, and at the time I had few personal friends. But what my gut told me at the time was that nobody was having a good time, I just didn't know how to read it. Now I definitely know what those feelings meant.

Gravis McElroy Retweeted [ande dooting] [https://twitter.com/quicksilvre/status/976492376645603329 ]
@quicksilvre
Right? It felt like we grew up in an age where we weren't allowed to truly, unironically like things or people

This is exactly on point. We didn't like anything. Nobody liked anything. Nobody admitted to liking anything. Liking things wasn't cool.

And that's how we now have people in their mid thirties who are only just beginning to whisper, on social media where they're ostensibly surrounded by friends, that they /might/ like anime or fantasy novels or or or. Or anything that isn't cynical

Oh btw if you want an example of something that's very very cynical, have you considered: call of shooty

First person shooters were fuckin' *there* for us, ready to swoop in and offer the cynicism we'd been raised with. Kill everything. Blow everything up. Yawn. The nihilism we'd been taught primed the *pump* for that shit.

I always come back to this when I talk about this stuff: knowing what caused this is important because we have millions of people, no, read that again, millions of people who were injured by this and don't know it and are not getting any help culturally.

Every one of them is a problem we have to solve eventually and none of us have any idea how to do that and we have to figure it out. Because we can't just write off a whole generation, "anyone who was young and online in 2000," they are our problem to deal with now.

They are here, and they are permanently angry and hate sincerity, and we actually can't coexist with them. They are turning into nazis because they don't know how not to.

It's nice to think "oh we'll just kill the nazis" but there are more ticking-time-bomb fascists that came out of this than anyone realizes. They feel alone in the world, they don't connect with anyone or anything, they have no anchors at all. They never learned how to be happy.

The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong

And you know what? The internet is the problem. The internet is a huge fucking problem and we all know it, we all know it's putting shit in front of young people that they aren't ready for. And we knew it then, our parents were right about it, just not right enough.

I don't know what can possibly be done about it. No program of censorship would be right or effective or anything but counterproductive but, fuck, we can't write this off.

In my view we have a tremendous number of dangerous broken men in this nation now specifically because of the unregulated nightmare that the web was in the early 2000s and I don't know what to do with that information but I'm not going to forget it.

that was me just a few years ago. i remember it vividly. the difference between me and Them is solely that someone managed to break through the shell and teach me that it was worth it to be a person, to not sleepwalk through life.

https://medium.com/mammon-machine-zeal/ultraviolent-flash-games-after-9-11-b416b836f28e … I'm linking this again because ZEAL deserves the credit for this thread; that article prompted a lot of thought about old memories. They post a lot of insightful stuff that benefits IMO from not being produced by a massive corporate publication."



[also: https://twitter.com/gravislizard/status/976499065461469184

Newgrounds and all those other edgy early 2000s hellholes are all Superfund sites. Sad, shitty things we look back on and say "okay, okay, we fucked up," but even as the words spill out of our mouths we are pouring soil for a new development over another toxic waste dump.

They are not places of honor, no esteemed deed is commemorated there, this thread is a message and part of a system of messages, et cetera. We need to not just skip over this. What is being created /right now/ that is equivalent to those?

https://twitter.com/gravislizard/status/976497457151451136 … also i'd like to clarify this, because I meant to, or felt like i should, or something
The fuckface who was bombing black people in Texas probably came out of this shit. He was a little young for newgrounds specifically, but I can see the path to being "radicalized by the void," if you will. becoming a monster because you were taught that becoming a person is wrong

by "radicalized by the void" I mean that there is a sort of person who does not want to be a person, who hates the idea of becoming a person and the responsibility associated with it. they want nothing more than to be left alone to be mediocre.

a lot of mediocre white men, from the person vomiting slurs on 4c han to the nazis in the street, feel that society is trying to force them to reflect on themselves and /that is what they want to stop/.

It's important to acknowledge that this is true, that their perceived struggle is real, and that our intent is to not let them live the lives they want to live because they are implicitly harmful. We do not have the luxury of apathy, it invariably results in harming the innocent.

The war being fought right now is over apathy. we all know the article by now: "I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About … [more]
crime  masculinity  terrorism  internet  2018  2009s  9/11  children  youth  cynicism  violence  death  emotion  hate  suffering  newgrounds  socialmedia  callofduty  nihilism  mentalillness  censorship  apathy  void  self-worth  life  care  caring  society  reflection  responsibility  personhood  evil  sexism  racism  homophobia  teens 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Diogenes - Wikipedia
"Diogenes (/daɪˈɒdʒəˌniːz/; Greek: Διογένης, Diogenēs [di.oɡénɛ͜ɛs]), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (Ancient Greek: Διογένης ὁ Κυνικός, Diogenēs ho Kunikos), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea,[1] in 412 or 404 B.C. and died at Corinth in 323 B.C.[2]

Diogenes was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and Diogenes was banished from Sinope when he took to debasement of currency.[1] After being exiled, he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city. He modelled himself on the example of Heracles, and believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple life-style and behaviour to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt, confused society. He had a reputation for sleeping and eating wherever he chose in a highly non-traditional fashion, and took to toughening himself against nature. He declared himself a cosmopolitan and a citizen of the world rather than claiming allegiance to just one place. There are many tales about his dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his "faithful hound".[3]

Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace.[4] He became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He criticized Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates, and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting attenders by bringing food and eating during the discussions. Diogenes was also noted for having publicly mocked Alexander the Great.[5][6][7]

Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery, eventually settling in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. None of Diogenes' writings have survived, but there are some details of his life from anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius' book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers and some other sources.[8]"



"Death

There are conflicting accounts of Diogenes' death. He is alleged variously to have held his breath; to have become ill from eating raw octopus;[36] or to have suffered an infected dog bite.[37] When asked how he wished to be buried, he left instructions to be thrown outside the city wall so wild animals could feast on his body. When asked if he minded this, he said, "Not at all, as long as you provide me with a stick to chase the creatures away!" When asked how he could use the stick since he would lack awareness, he replied "If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?"[38] At the end, Diogenes made fun of people's excessive concern with the "proper" treatment of the dead. The Corinthians erected to his memory a pillar on which rested a dog of Parian marble.[39]"



"Cynicism

Along with Antisthenes and Crates of Thebes, Diogenes is considered one of the founders of Cynicism. The ideas of Diogenes, like those of most other Cynics, must be arrived at indirectly. No writings of Diogenes survive even though he is reported to have authored over ten books, a volume of letters and seven tragedies.[40] Cynic ideas are inseparable from Cynic practice; therefore what we know about Diogenes is contained in anecdotes concerning his life and sayings attributed to him in a number of scattered classical sources.

Diogenes maintained that all the artificial growths of society were incompatible with happiness and that morality implies a return to the simplicity of nature. So great was his austerity and simplicity that the Stoics would later claim him to be a wise man or "sophos". In his words, "Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods."[41] Although Socrates had previously identified himself as belonging to the world, rather than a city,[42] Diogenes is credited with the first known use of the word "cosmopolitan". When he was asked from where he came, he replied, "I am a citizen of the world (cosmopolites)".[43] This was a radical claim in a world where a man's identity was intimately tied to his citizenship of a particular city-state. An exile and an outcast, a man with no social identity, Diogenes made a mark on his contemporaries.

Diogenes had nothing but disdain for Plato and his abstract philosophy.[44] Diogenes viewed Antisthenes as the true heir to Socrates, and shared his love of virtue and indifference to wealth,[45] together with a disdain for general opinion.[46] Diogenes shared Socrates's belief that he could function as doctor to men's souls and improve them morally, while at the same time holding contempt for their obtuseness. Plato once described Diogenes as "a Socrates gone mad."[47]

Obscenity

Diogenes taught by living example. He tried to demonstrate that wisdom and happiness belong to the man who is independent of society and that civilization is regressive. He scorned not only family and political social organization, but also property rights and reputation. He even rejected normal ideas about human decency. Diogenes is said to have eaten in the marketplace,[48] urinated on some people who insulted him,[49] defecated in the theatre,[50] and masturbated in public. When asked about his eating in public he said, "If taking breakfast is nothing out of place, then it is nothing out of place in the marketplace. But taking breakfast is nothing out of place, therefore it is nothing out of place to take breakfast in the marketplace." [51] On the indecency of his masturbating in public he would say, "If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly."[52][53]

Diogenes as dogged or dog-like

Many anecdotes of Diogenes refer to his dog-like behavior, and his praise of a dog's virtues. It is not known whether Diogenes was insulted with the epithet "doggish" and made a virtue of it, or whether he first took up the dog theme himself. When asked why he was called a dog he replied, "I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals."[20] Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural body functions in public with ease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy. In addition to these virtues, dogs are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe.[54] Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth. Diogenes stated that "other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them."[55]

The term "cynic" itself derives from the Greek word κυνικός, kynikos, "dog-like" and that from κύων, kyôn, "dog" (genitive: kynos).[56] One explanation offered in ancient times for why the Cynics were called dogs was because Antisthenes taught in the Cynosarges gymnasium at Athens.[57] The word Cynosarges means the place of the white dog. Later Cynics also sought to turn the word to their advantage, as a later commentator explained:
There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies. So do they recognize as friends those who are suited to philosophy, and receive them kindly, while those unfitted they drive away, like dogs, by barking at them.[58]

As noted (see Death), Diogenes' association with dogs was memorialized by the Corinthians, who erected to his memory a pillar on which rested a dog of Parian marble.[39]"
philosophy  stoicism  cynicism  diogenes  simplicity  simpleliving  voluntarypoverty  criticism  society  voluntarysimplicity  dogs  presence  present  everyday  plato  ancientgreece  socrates  practice  praxis  obscenity  cv 
march 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon, Time.com, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Ana Mardoll on Twitter: "The thing about every "I did [ableist thing] and everyone was happy with me" article is that it relies heavily on human confirmation bias.… https://t.co/2wRZLAj4yF"
"The thing about every "I did [ableist thing] and everyone was happy with me" article is that it relies heavily on human confirmation bias. https://twitter.com/nrsmithccny/status/934032393572356096

Most humans are poised to believe that our decisions will have good outcomes. That's why we MAKE the decisions, after all. We pick what seems like the best decision and we hope it turns out well.

Recognizing that the decision was a BAD one in retrospect is REALLY HARD, and becomes even harder when we have to grapple with the fact that we hurt people in the process.

So when teachers ban laptops or fidget spinners or whatever, or when employers force everyone to wear fitbits and take the stairs, they're STARTING with the belief that this will have a good outcome.

Then we look at the words Nicholas has used there: "Low cost" to ban electronics. Well, for him it surely was!

For the students who had to scramble to buy paper and pens and bags to carry them in when they'd been EXPECTING to use the laptop they already owned... a bit more cost.

"Minimal Resistance". That isn't really surprising when we understand that disabled students aren't the majority--which is why they're so easy to stomp all over.

Also not surprising when we understand the high COST of "resisting". Easier to drop the class.

"Learning improved dramatically" but based on what? Knowing that this is a situation heavily prone to bias, how do we measure that?

This isn't pedantry. We're talking about a school. Research methods are important.

We also need to understand how fucked up it is when the goal is to maximize the experience for the geniuses in the class and if the bottom 10% drop out because it's too hard, that's considered a GOOD thing.

If banning electronics causes a "sharpening" of the grade curve--fewer "middle" students, but the higher ones get higher and the lower ones go lower--that means embracing the destruction of the weak in order to elevate your preferred students.

The American school system is competitive in really messed up ways, and electronics bans play into that. If you can't "cut it" with paper notes, you're left behind. Teaching as social Darwinism.

I am going to add, and folks aren't going to like this, that professors are some of the most ableist people on the planet. In my experience.

They've risen to the top of a heavily ableist system that is DEEPLY invested in pretending that it's merit-based.

In the midst of that merit-based pretense, they're also urged to believe that they're biologically better, smarter, cleverer, deeper thinkers.

So you have people who believe they are biologically better than disabled people but also think they know how to accommodate us. Red flags right there.

They're also steeped in a competitive atmosphere where learning takes a backseat to rankings and numbers games and competition.

So very quickly any accommodation seems like "cheating".

You need an extra hour to take the test? How is that FAIR to the OTHER students?

We wouldn't ask these questions if we weren't obsessively ranking and grading and comparing students to each other in an attempt to sift out the "best".

Why do we do that? Well, part of it is a dance for capitalism; the employers want a shiny GPA number so they know who will be the better employee.

But a lot of professors don't really think about that. They just live for the competition itself, and they view us as disruptive.

They also view us, fundamentally, as lesser. No matter how much we learn, we'll never be peak students because we're disabled.

That means we're disposable if we threaten the actual "peak" students and their progress.

That's why laptop ban conversations ALWAYS devolve into "but if you allow laptops for disabled kids, the able-bodied students will use them and be distracted!"

The worry is that the abled-kids who COULD be "peak" students won't be.

If the options are:

(1) Disabled kid, 3.5 GPA. Abled kid, 3.5 GPA.

(2) Disabled kid, 2.0 GPA, Abled kid, 4.0 GPA.

They'll pick #2 every time. They don't want everyone to do moderately well; they want a Star.

Professors want STARS, because a STAR means they're doing well. They're the best coach in the competitive sports they call "school".

Throwing a disabled student under the bus to make sure the able-bodied Star isn't distracted? No brainer. 9 out of 10 professors will do it.

I had very few professors--over 7 years and 2 schools--who recognized the ranking system was garbage.

One of them told us on the first day of class that we would all get As, no matter what we did. Told us that we didn't even need to show up, but that he HOPED we would because he believed we could learn from him.

I learned more from that class than maybe any other I took that year. The erasure of all my fear, anxiety, competition, and need to "win" left me able to focus SO much better.

It's INTERESTING that we don't talk about banning GRADES and instead we ban laptops.

We could improve learning dramatically if we banned grades. But we don't. Why not?

- Capitalism. We want employers to pick our students.

- Ableism. We LIKE ranking humans from better to worse.

- Cynicism. We don't believe students WANT to learn, we think we need to force them.

So in an effort to forced Abled Allen to be the best in a competition for capitalism, we ban laptops.

If Disabled Debbie does poorly after the laptop ban, it's no great tragedy; she was never going to be a 4.0 student anyway. Not like Abled Allen, the winner.

Anyway. Laptop bans are ableist. So is a moratorium on any notes whatsoever. Let students learn the way they feel comfortable learning.

And asking students to "trust" teachers will put disabled students first is naive in the extreme.

I don't "trust" a team coach to prioritize the needs of a third-string quarterback. Maybe some will, but most won't.

(Final note that there ARE good teachers out there and even good DISABLED teachers. I'm talking about systemic problems, not saying that all professors are evil. The problem is the system, not necessarily the people.)

(Although some of the people ARE trash. But only some.)

The original tweet is gone and please don't harass the teacher in question. Here's a screenshot for context, otherwise my thread makes little sense.

I want to add something that I touched on in another thread: Teachers are PROFOUNDLY out of touch when it comes to note-taking.

I guaran-fucking-tee these college teachers who "insist" their students note-take by hand aren't hand-writing to this extent.

For example, the quoted tweet has a professor saying "you just type whatever I say without thinking". That is so ridiculous.Ana My mobile still could load it.

Hardly anyone I know types fast enough to transcribe human speech.

When I take typed notes, I'm choosing what to include and what to leave out. Those choices are interacting with the material.

I'm not recording like a robot.

These professors have been out of the "student seat" for so long that they don't know what studenting is like.

They think we're transcriptionists when we're not. They think pen-and-paper students are paying perfect attention when they're not.

They think writing notes for 4-5 classes a day for 4-7 years is easy on the hands, when it's not.

They just don't KNOW, but (scarily!) they think they do."
notetaking  ableism  laptops  highered  highereducation  learning  education  meritocracy  capitalism  cynicism  grades  grading  sorting  ranking  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  disabilities  disability  transcription  typing  lectures  resistance  socialdarwinism  elitism  competition  anamardoll 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Don’t Buy This Jacket | New Republic
"As ad campaigns go, the anti-shopping, pro-wholesomeness approach on the surface more appealing than, say, that other thing companies seem to be doing these days, where they go think-piece viral through a now-predictable pattern of offending and apologizing. Oh look, Bloomingdales thinks date-rape is OK! Oh wait, no it doesn’t! And then the next thing you know—whether this was the store’s explicit plan or not—you’re on their website drool-scrolling this season’s denim. But this is in its way even more nefarious, because it’s about telling certain consumers that their consumption somehow doesn’t count. It’s about encouraging virtue-signaling of the most pointless, and expensive, kind.

The genius is in convincing high-end shoppers that they’re better people than the rest of us. My all-time favorite example in this area remains the time when a bunch of fashion types wore their clothes inside out because garment workers, or something. I mean, the point was to reveal the labels of their clothes, to show that they cared where their clothes came from, in the traceability sense. A noble goal, in theory, but also an opportunity to show off… designer labels. The kicker was designer Stella McCartney earnestly posing in an inside-out Stella McCartney top.

The outdoorsy version takes things one step further, though, bringing into play not just garment-industry ethics but the eternal Stuff versus Experiences non-debate, wherein people who prefer a dangerous mountain hike to a dangerous-in-its-own-way trip to Sephora get to feel smug. Never mind that experiences (certainly the Instagram-worthy ones) have a way of costing at least as much as stuff, thanks to travel costs, not to mention the cost of all that REI gear. Preferring a dangerous mountain hike to a dangerous-in-its-own-way trip to Sephora doesn’t make you superior. Spending time in nature doesn’t necessarily coincide with preservation. But it’s coded-male, coded-upper-class to choose hiking over, say, scouring lower Manhattan for cheap handbags, so clearly the former activity is just better.

By planting itself firmly on Team Experiences, REI has managed to symbolically reclassify the stuff it sells as not-stuff. Patagonia’s fleeces are part-recycled? REI’s are made out of antimatter. You are not-shopping by shopping there.

REI’s protest of Black Friday has gotten a tremendous amount of sympathetic coverage, from The Today Show to The Onion. And it’s somewhat understandable: They’re giving their workers a paid day off at a time of year when that’s likely to be particularly appreciated. As sancti-marketing goes, a day off certainly beats vegan Canadian handbag company Matt & Nat’s recent, now-removed job ad for an unpaid copywriter, an unfortunate choice for a company that puts “ethics” front and center.

The move is also about highlighting the fact that REI is a cooperative, which is less straightforwardly positive. It involves asking customers to pay $20 to become members, which, like the hashtag campaign, fits neatly into the message that paying retail is a noble act. The REI shopper has $20 to spare, $20 to invest in a future filled with adventure vacations, thus giving the brand a certain exclusivity.

In a column otherwise praising the new minimalism, contemplative-phase David Brooks briefly returned to the stronger, more cynical themes of his earlier work: “One of the troublesome things about today’s simplicity movements is that they are often just alternate forms of consumption,” adding, “There’s a whiff of the haute bourgeoisie ethos here—that simplification is not really spiritual or antimaterialism; just a more refined, organic, locally grown and morally status-building form of materialism.” Precisely. I’d add that there’s something worse about the materialism that poses as the opposite. I’d take sponsored content over the sponsored content posing as a good deed.

To be clear, the problem with sancti-marketing isn’t that specific companies’ ecological or labor claims are untrue. It’s great if companies behave ethically, and fair that they’d want to use this to their advantage. I’d just like it if we could admit that shopping is shopping, stuff is stuff. New hiking boots purchased to look out over a vista aren’t somehow less yay-new-shoes than new patent leather ballet flats worn to explore a city, which is also, let it be known, a form of Outside. "
rei  patagonia  phoebemaltzbovy  2015  consumerism  elitism  anitmaterialism  davidbrooks  #optoutside  minimalism  cynicism  simplicity  consumption 
june 2016 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | The Habits of Highly Cynical People, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"In April 24, 1916 — Easter Monday — Irish republicans in Dublin and a handful of other places staged an armed rebellion against British occupation. At the time, the British Empire was the strongest power on earth; Ireland was its first and nearest colony. That the puny colony might oust the giant seemed far-fetched, and by most measures the endeavor was a failure. The leaders were executed; the British occupation continued. But not for long: the Easter Uprising is now generally understood as a crucial step in a process that led, in 1937, to full independence for most of the island. A hundred years on, some view 1916 as the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring. It seems to be taken for granted that these uprisings, too, were a failure, since many of the affected countries are now just different kinds of dire than they were before. But the public display of a passionate desire for participatory government, the demonstration of the strength of popular power and the weakness of despotic regimes, and the sheer (if short-lived) exhilaration that took place five years ago may have sown seeds that have not yet germinated.

I am not arguing for overlooking the violence and instability that are now plaguing North Africa and the Middle East. Nor am I optimistic about the near future of the region. I do not know what the long-term consequences of the Arab Spring will be — but neither does anyone else. We live in a time when the news media and other purveyors of conventional wisdom like to report on the future more than the past. They draw on polls and false analogies to announce what is going to happen next, and their frequent errors — about the unelectability of Barack Obama, say, or the inevitability of the Keystone XL pipeline — don’t seem to impede their habit of prophecy or our willingness to abide them. “We don’t actually know” is their least favorite thing to report.

Non-pundits, too, use bad data and worse analysis to pronounce with great certainty on future inevitabilities, present impossibilities, and past failures. The mind-set behind these statements is what I call naïve cynicism. It bleeds the sense of possibility and maybe the sense of responsibility out of people.

Cynicism is first of all a style of presenting oneself, and it takes pride more than anything in not being fooled and not being foolish. But in the forms in which I encounter it, cynicism is frequently both these things. That the attitude that prides itself on world-weary experience is often so naïve says much about the triumph of style over substance, attitude over analysis.

Maybe it also says something about the tendency to oversimplify. If simplification means reducing things to their essentials, oversimplification tosses aside the essential as well. It is a relentless pursuit of certainty and clarity in a world that generally offers neither, a desire to shove nuances and complexities into clear-cut binaries. Naïve cynicism concerns me because it flattens out the past and the future, and because it reduces the motivation to participate in public life, public discourse, and even intelligent conversation that distinguishes shades of gray, ambiguities and ambivalences, uncertainties, unknowns, and opportunities. Instead, we conduct our conversations like wars, and the heavy artillery of grim confidence is the weapon many reach for.

Naïve cynics shoot down possibilities, including the possibility of exploring the full complexity of any situation. They take aim at the less cynical, so that cynicism becomes a defensive posture and an avoidance of dissent. They recruit through brutality. If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.

Different factions have different versions of naïve cynicism. There is, for example, the way the mainstream discounts political action that proceeds outside the usual corridors of power. When Occupy Wall Street began five years ago, the movement was mocked, dismissed, and willfully misunderstood before it was hastily pronounced dead. Its obituary has been written dozens of times over the years by people who’d prefer that the rabble who blur the lines between the homeless and the merely furious not have a political role to play.

But the fruits of OWS are too many to count. People who were involved with local encampments tell me that their thriving offshoots are still making a difference. California alone was said to have more than 100 Occupy groups; what each of them did is impossible to measure. There were results as direct as homeless advocacy, as indirect as a shift in the national debate about housing, medical and student debt, economic injustice, and inequality. There has also been effective concrete action — from debt strikes to state legislation — on these issues. Occupy helped to bring politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, and Elizabeth Warren into the mainstream.

The inability to assess what OWS accomplished comes in part from the assumption that historical events either produce straightforward, quantifiable, immediate results, or they fail to matter. It’s as though we’re talking about bowling: either that ball knocked over those pins in that lane or it didn’t. But historical forces are not bowling balls. If bowling had to be the metaphor, it would be some kind of metaphysical game shrouded in mists and unfolding over decades. The ball might knock over a pin and then another one in fifteen years and possibly have a strike in some other lane that most of us had forgotten even existed. That’s sort of what the Easter Rising did, and what Occupy and Black Lives Matter are doing now.

Then there is the naïve cynicism of those outside the mainstream who similarly doubt their own capacity to help bring about change, a view that conveniently spares them the hard work such change requires.

I recently posted on Facebook a passage from the February issue of Nature Climate Change in which a group of scientists outlined the impact of climate change over the next 10,000 years. Their portrait is terrifying, but it is not despairing: “This long-term view shows that the next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.” That’s a sentence about catastrophe but also about opportunity. Yet when I posted the article, the first comment I got was, “There’s nothing that’s going to stop the consequences of what we have already done/not done.” This was another way of saying, I’m pitting my own casual assessment over peer-reviewed science; I’m not reading carefully; I’m making a thwacking sound with my false omniscience.

Such comments represent a reflex response that can be used to meet wildly different stimuli. Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events, some of which are positive, some negative, some mixed, and quite a lot of them unfinished.

The climate movement has grown powerful and diverse. On this continent it is shutting down coal plants and preventing new ones from being built. It has blocked fracking, oil and gas leases on public land, drilling in the Arctic, pipelines, and oil trains that carry the stuff that would otherwise run through the thwarted pipelines. Cities, states, and regions are making stunning commitments — San Diego has committed to going 100 percent renewable by 2035.

Remarkable legislation has been introduced even on the national level, such as bills in both the House and the Senate to bar new fossil-fuel extraction on public lands. Those bills will almost certainly not pass in the present Congress, but they introduce to the mainstream a position that was inconceivable a few years ago. This is how epochal change often begins, with efforts that fail in their direct aims but succeed in shifting the conversation and opening space for further action.

These campaigns and achievements are far from enough; they need to scale up, and scaling up means drawing in people who recognize that there are indeed opportunities worth seizing.

Late last year, some key federal decisions to curtail drilling for oil in the Arctic and to prevent the construction of a tar-sands pipeline were announced. The naïvely cynical dismissed them as purely a consequence of the plummeting price of oil. Activism had nothing to do with it, I was repeatedly told. But had there been no activism, the Arctic would have been drilled, and the pipelines to get the dirty crude cheaply out of Alberta built, before the price drop. It wasn’t either-or; it was both.

David Roberts, a climate journalist for Vox, notes that the disparagement of the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline assumed that the activists’ only goal was to prevent this one pipeline from being built, and that since this one pipeline’s cancellation wouldn’t save the world, the effort was futile. Roberts named these armchair quarterbacks of climate action the Doing It Wrong Brigade. He compared their critique to “criticizing the Montgomery bus boycott because it only affected a relative handful of blacks. The point of civil… [more]
rebeccasolnit  2016  cynicism  change  time  occupywallstreet  ows  hope  optimism  idealism  perfectionism  obstructionism  simplification  oversimplification  possibility  economics  justice  climatechange  keystonepipeline  patience  longview  blacklivesmatter  civilrightsmovement  politics  policy  conversation  easterrising  power  community  systemsthinking  standards  metrics  measurement  success  failure  dissent  discourse  uncertainty  opportunity 
may 2016 by robertogreco
manifestos/1985-GNU-manifesto.md at master · greyscalepress/manifestos
"Why I Must Write GNU

I consider that the Golden Rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement. For years I worked within the Artificial Intelligence Lab to resist such tendencies and other inhospitalities, but eventually they had gone too far: I could not remain in an institution where such things are done for me against my will.

So that I can continue to use computers without dishonor, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free. I have resigned from the AI Lab to deny MIT any legal excuse to prevent me from giving GNU away.(2)"



"Why Many Other Programmers Want to Help

I have found many other programmers who are excited about GNU and want to help.

Many programmers are unhappy about the commercialization of system software. It may enable them to make more money, but it requires them to feel in conflict with other programmers in general rather than feel as comrades. The fundamental act of friendship among programmers is the sharing of programs; marketing arrangements now typically used essentially forbid programmers to treat others as friends. The purchaser of software must choose between friendship and obeying the law. Naturally, many decide that friendship is more important. But those who believe in law often do not feel at ease with either choice. They become cynical and think that programming is just a way of making money.

By working on and using GNU rather than proprietary programs, we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the law. In addition, GNU serves as an example to inspire and a banner to rally others to join us in sharing. This can give us a feeling of harmony which is impossible if we use software that is not free. For about half the programmers I talk to, this is an important happiness that money cannot replace."
gnu  richardstallman  friendship  solidarity  opensource  law  legal  cynicism  via:caseygollan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
An American Utopia: Fredric Jameson in Conversation with Stanley Aronowitz - YouTube
"Eminent literary and political theorist Fredric Jameson, of Duke University, gives a new address, followed by a conversation with noted cultural critic Stanely Aronowitz, of the Graduate Center. Jameson, author of Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism and The Political Unconscious, will consider the practicality of the Utopian tradition and its broader implications for cultural production and political institutions. Co-sponsored by the Writers' Institute and the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Literature."

[via: "@timmaughan saw a semi-serious proposal talk from Frederic Jameson a few years ago about just that; the army as social utopia."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/687321982157860864

"@timmaughan this looks to be a version of it here, in fact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNVKoX40ZAo …"
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/687323080088285184 ]
fredricjameson  utopia  change  constitution  2014  us  military  education  capitalism  history  culture  society  politics  policy  ecology  williamjames  war  collectivism  crisis  dictators  dictatorship  publicworks  manufacturing  labor  work  unions  postmodernism  revolution  occupywallstreet  ows  systemschange  modernity  cynicism  will  antoniogramsci  revolutionaries  radicals  socialism  imagination  desire  stanelyaronowitz  army  armycorpsofengineers  deleuze&guattari  theory  politicaltheory  gillesdeleuze  anti-intellectualism  radicalism  utopianism  félixguattari  collectivereality  individuals  latecapitalism  collectivity  rousseau  otherness  thestate  population  plurality  multiplicity  anarchism  anarchy  tribes  clans  culturewars  class  inequality  solidarity  economics  karlmarx  marxism  deleuze 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Banal Uselessness of the Utopian Binary Critique | Hapgood
"I was watching Jesse Stommel at NWeLearn this past week give an excellent presentation on grading. In it he suggested a number of alternatives to traditional grading, and outlined some of the ways that traditional grading is baked into the system.

And the end of the talk, the inevitable hand: “Your presentation seems so BINARY,” says the questioner, “Why is it so either/or? Why can’t it be both/and?”

Sigh.

I outlined my vision of a different approach to networked learning last week to a number of people at dLRN, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. But the negatives were very negative.

“I think it’s utopian,” they said, “You’re not going to eliminate all online nastiness with a different software format.”

I looked over my presentation to try to find the spot where we reached the Age of Aquarius via some Node server installs. I saw a lot of places where I said we could be doing much better, but couldn’t find the places where we cured all ills.

I was watching someone give a presentation on the struggles of the non-traditional student. After the presentation people were talking. I’m worried about the binaries here, they said. Why do we talk about non-traditional vs. traditional? Why can’t we just talk about STUDENTS?

I got some great feedback at dLRN. And I love cynical feedback more than anything. My favorite comment was from Justin Reich who said “So you show how this different, older, way could preserve complexity. But maybe we abandoned it because we hate complexity, right?”

That’s a great comment. I actually can’t get it out of my head it’s so good.

You know what’s not a great comment?

• “How does this solve world hunger, sexism, and inequality once and for all?”
• “Why is this so either/or?”
• “Why is this so utopian?”
• “We need to get past these binaries.”

These aren’t really useful questions, and I’ve come to realize they aren’t meant to be. The issue with Jesse’s call to action and mine is the same — we’re both arguing for things which are so far out of the mainstream of practice you have to squint to see them.

Saying “Why is this so binary?” when presented with an alternate, minority vision is simply a way of supporting the status quo, by not engaging with the reality that the dominant paradigm is NOT “both/and” but rather “almost entirely this”. The world of the person making the “utopian binary” critique is one where they get to ignore the existing disparities the binary calls to light — a trick most recently seen in the ridiculous #alllivesmatter hash tag: “But why single out *black* lives?”

The “utopian” critique is very similar —
Them: “If this cannot solve all problems, then how can we be excited about it?”

Me: “But I didn’t say it solved all problems!”

Them: “Aha! So you admit it doesn’t solve anything!”

Me: “Um, which one of us is utopian again?”

This approach suffers the same affliction, assuming that we must compare a proposed solution against the standard of an imagined perfect world rather than a screwed up current state.

I’ve come to realize that, no matter how many caveats you add to your writing, people for whom the status quo works will always reply that your ideas are interesting, but why are they so binary, so utopian? I used to take these critiques seriously, but I don’t anymore. It’s simply a rhetorical move to avoid comparing your solution with a status quo that is difficult for them to defend.

It’s like replying to a presentation on solar-powered cars with “But why can’t we have both solar powered cars AND gasoline cars?” Or with “But there will still be pollution from BUILDING the cars so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on scaling down the American military in favor of increasing foreign relief aid with “But why can’t we have both the American military AND foreign relief aid?” Or with “But foreign relief aid STILL doesn’t always reach the most vulnerable, so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on Global Warming with “But why can’t find a balance between controlling global warming and protecting business interest?” Or “But global warming is going to happen anyway, so you haven’t solved anything!”

There’s as little chance that the world is going to go overboard on Jesse’s Peter Elbow inspired grading models as there is that we’re going to veer too much toward addressing global warming or decreasing U. S. Military funding (appx. $2,000 per capita) relative to our foreign aid (about $70 per capita). There’s as little chance that our “Pull to Refresh” obsessed culture is going to go overboard with wiki as there is that solar-powered vehicles will result in a war against gas-powered cars.

People who make such objections are not serious people, or in any not case serious thinkers in that moment. The reason we make binaries in our comparisons is to show how unbalanced the status quo is. The “binary” of pitting military spending against foreign aid is to show how out of balance out priorities are, just as the “binary” of Jesse’s holistic grading against more rigid models is to show how little time we spend on the whole student. And the reason we posit the binary of the “nontraditional student” against the “traditional student” is that 90% of policy and conversation right now is directed at the latter, and separating these details can show this.

The Garden approach I outlined at dLRN might not work, and holistic grading might fail at the scale people need to use it at. That solar car may run up against physical and environmental realities that make it unfeasible. Our policies to help the nontraditional student may solve the wrong issues, or assume a political climate we don’t have right now. Foreign aid may be better directed at world hunger or medical research, or perhaps there are good reasons for spending $800 billion on a military. Perhaps, far from making things better, a set of proposals would make things worse in ways the historically literate can predict. All these are interesting points, and great follow-ups to presentations outlining potential courses of action.

Additionally, some binaries are ill-formed, and give a distorted picture of reality. That’s an interesting point as well. Is androgogy/pedagogy a more helpful lens on a particular issue than first-generation/nth-generation? Does the research support a division like “Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants”? (hint: it doesn’t).

These are great questions too.

“Why so utopian?” and “Why so binary?” Not so much.

Here’s my pitch to you, and it is always the same. I think we can do substantially better than we do now, in a way that benefits most people. I think it requires rethinking some assumptions about how we teach and how we tech. I think the positive impact is likely relative to how deep we’re willing to go in questioning current assumptions.

So, if you like the status quo, or think it’s better than what is proposed, then defend it! If you think my ideas will not be adopted or will make things worse, then show me why!

But to the Utopian Binary comment crowd: Stop pretending people like Jesse and I are making utopian, either/or arguments. It’s a lazy rhetorical move, I’m tired of it, and you’re taking time from people with real questions."

[via https://twitter.com/holden/status/658310638662356992
via https://twitter.com/rmoejo/status/658314942123085824
via http://rolinmoe.org/2015/12/09/hourofteach-or-will-the-last-philanthrocapitalist-turn-out-the-lights/
via https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-140 ]
mikecaufield  2015  utopia  criticism  critique  binaries  education  change  cynicism  jessestommel  tcsnmy  cv  unschooling  deschooling  utopianism  rhetoric  minorityview  statusquo  justinreich  complexity  falsebinaries  criticalthinking  grading  grades 
december 2015 by robertogreco
An Activism of Affirmation — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"Art can raise important questions about society, art can challenge our philosophical beliefs, art can divide, art can heal. When it comes to social movements, I often think of the latter. Emotions and aesthetics are so often overlooked in today’s conversation around networked movements, but many artistic actions can help us feel better and help us feel less alone in the face of injustice. Artist-activists have a key role to play in affirming the fear, frustration, and hope that inevitably accompany difficult and sustained movements. These micro forms of liberation online can be passing and fleeting, but they are not meaningless, especially if felt in aggregate.

We must be careful of narratives claiming that building voice will automatically lead to the change we advocate for. No amount of creative selfies can by themselves put a stop to homophobia, systemic racism, or the erosion of democratic rights, and in many contexts, reinforcing feelings can lead to an inflated sense of self worth or a hardened set of views against already marginalized communities. As well, in a surveillance context, the act of creative expression can be dangerous in and of itself. These tools and practices are neither neutral nor deterministic; how we as individuals and we as a broader society leverage the web’s unique affordances can help foster justice or increase suffering in the world.

But we must be equally as careful not to fall into the trap of cynically arguing that free expression around issues of human rights and dignity has no meaning without long term change. Binary thinking about what constitutes positive change misses the fact that social movements require multiple factors to succeed, and change more often happens in increments rather than in wholesale, monumental shifts. We see so much art in movements today because art, creative expression, and emotional microaffirmations are necessary components of justice. They help us create, imagine, and live a better world in tiny bits, made powerful in their accumulation and broadcast to broader and more extensive networks than was previously possible.

The Internet helps us organize and inform, but art and creative expression in particular can help transform the Internet into a space for affirmation, self-worth, and emotional healing as well. And that, too, is a powerful form of activism."
xiaomina  2015  activism  hongkong  protest  occupywallstreet  ows  affirmation  cynicism  change  socialchange  art  creativity  microaffirmations  microaggressions  socialjustice  echochambers 
july 2015 by robertogreco
I no longer have patience | Ioadicaeu's Blog
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” —Meryl Streep
via:litherland  marylstreep  patience  cynicism  criticism  demands  hypocrisy  dishonesty  praise  comparisons  comparison  conflict  loyalty  betrayal  exaggeration  arrogance  pretense  lies  manipulation 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Young Minds in Critical Condition - NYTimes.com
"It happens every semester. A student triumphantly points out that Jean-Jacques Rousseau is undermining himself when he claims “the man who reflects is a depraved animal,” or that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call for self-reliance is in effect a call for reliance on Emerson himself. Trying not to sound too weary, I ask the student to imagine that the authors had already considered these issues.

Instead of trying to find mistakes in the texts, I suggest we take the point of view that our authors created these apparent “contradictions” in order to get readers like us to ponder more interesting questions. How do we think about inequality and learning, for example, or how can we stand on our own feet while being open to inspiration from the world around us? Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction in being critical of our authors, but isn’t it more interesting to put ourselves in a frame of mind to find inspiration in them?

Our best college students are very good at being critical. In fact being smart, for many, means being critical. Having strong critical skills shows that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication, especially when coupled with an acknowledgment of one’s own “privilege.”

The combination of resistance to influence and deflection of responsibility by confessing to one’s advantages is a sure sign of one’s ability to negotiate the politics of learning on campus. But this ability will not take you very far beyond the university. Taking things apart, or taking people down, can provide the satisfactions of cynicism. But this is thin gruel.

The skill at unmasking error, or simple intellectual one-upmanship, is not totally without value, but we should be wary of creating a class of self-satisfied debunkers — or, to use a currently fashionable word on campus, people who like to “trouble” ideas. In overdeveloping the capacity to show how texts, institutions or people fail to accomplish what they set out to do, we may be depriving students of the chance to learn as much as possible from what they study.

In campus cultures where being smart means being a critical unmasker, students may become too good at showing how things can’t possibly make sense. They may close themselves off from their potential to find or create meaning and direction from the books, music and experiments they encounter in the classroom.

Once outside the university, these students may try to score points by displaying the critical prowess for which they were rewarded in school, but those points often come at their own expense. As debunkers, they contribute to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning — a culture whose intellectuals and cultural commentators get “liked” by showing that somebody else just can’t be believed. But this cynicism is no achievement.

Liberal education in America has long been characterized by the intertwining of two traditions: of critical inquiry in pursuit of truth and exuberant performance in pursuit of excellence. In the last half-century, though, emphasis on inquiry has become dominant, and it has often been reduced to the ability to expose error and undermine belief. The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated (often ironic) spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.

Of course critical reflection is fundamental to teaching and scholarship, but fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources. Creative work, in whatever field, depends upon commitment, the energy of participation and the ability to become absorbed in works of literature, art and science. That type of absorption is becoming an endangered species of cultural life, as our nonstop, increasingly fractured technological existence wears down our receptive capacities.

In my film and philosophy class, for example, I have to insist that students put their devices away while watching movies that don’t immediately engage their senses with explosions, sex or gag lines. At first they see this as some old guy’s failure to grasp their skill at multitasking, but eventually most relearn how to give themselves to an emotional and intellectual experience, one that is deeply engaging partly because it does not pander to their most superficial habits of attention. I usually watch the movies with them (though I’ve seen them more than a dozen times), and together we share an experience that becomes the subject of reflection, interpretation and analysis. We even forget our phones and tablets when we encounter these unexpected sources of inspiration.

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities.

Yes, hard-nosed critical thinking is a useful tool, but it also may become a defense against the risky insight that absorption can offer. As students and as teachers we sometimes crave that protection; without it we risk changing who we are. We risk seeing a different way of living not as something alien, but as a possibility we might be able to explore, and even embrace.

Liberal education must not limit itself to critical thinking and problem solving; it must also foster openness, participation and opportunity. It should be designed to take us beyond the campus to a life of ongoing, pragmatic learning that finds inspiration in unexpected sources, and increases our capacity to understand and contribute to the world — and reshape it, and ourselves, in the "
criticalthinking  criticism  cynicism  2014  intellect  debate  skepticism  creativity  immersion  attention  inquiry  education  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  engagement  investment  michaleroth  philosophy  participatory  irony  spectators  sophistication 
may 2014 by robertogreco
18. Webstock 2014 Talk Notes and References - postarchitectural
[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/91957759 ]
[See also: http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/the-future-happens-so-much/ ]

"I was honored to be invited to Webstock 2014 to speak, and decided to use it as an opportunity to talk about startups and growth in general.

I prepared for this talk by collecting links, notes, and references in a flat text file, like I did for Eyeo and Visualized. These references are vaguely sorted into the structure of the talk. Roughly, I tried to talk about the future happening all around us, the startup ecosystem and the pressures for growth that got us there, and the dangerous sides of it both at an individual and a corporate level. I ended by talking about ways for us as a community to intervene in these systems of growth.

The framework of finding places to intervene comes from Leverage Points by Donella Meadows, and I was trying to apply the idea of 'monstrous thoughts' from Just Asking by David Foster Wallace. And though what I was trying to get across is much better said and felt through books like Seeing like a State, Debt, or Arctic Dreams, here's what was in my head."
shahwang  2014  webstock  donellameadows  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  davidgraeber  debt  economics  barrylopez  trevorpaglen  google  technology  prism  robotics  robots  surveillance  systemsthinking  growth  finance  venturecapital  maciejceglowski  millsbaker  mandybrown  danhon  advertising  meritocracy  democracy  snapchat  capitalism  infrastructure  internet  web  future  irrationalexuberance  github  geopffmanaugh  corproratism  shareholders  oligopoly  oligarchy  fredscharmen  kenmcleod  ianbanks  eleanorsaitta  quinnorton  adamgreenfield  marshallbrain  politics  edwardsnowden  davidsimon  georgepacker  nicolefenton  power  responsibility  davidfosterwallace  christinaxu  money  adamcurtis  dmytrikleiner  charlieloyd  wealth  risk  sarahkendxior  markjacobson  anildash  rebeccasolnit  russellbrand  louisck  caseygollan  alexpayne  judsontrue  jamesdarling  jenlowe  wilsonminer  kierkegaard  readinglist  startups  kiev  systems  control  data  resistance  obligation  care  cynicism  snark  change  changetheory  neoliberalism  intervention  leveragepoints  engagement  nonprofit  changemaki 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Marc Andreessen’s Crude and Nuanced Tech Cynicism — Weird Future — Medium
"On Saturday night, serial-tweet-lover Marc Andreessen started a list.

1/Degrees of tech cynicism from crude to nuanced?
https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/447604341591908352

Andreessen ought to know tech cynicism — he’s been around for awhile. Indeed as co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser, his career more or less spans the life of the web as we know it.

2/That can’t possibly work.
https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/447604381764960256

Today, Andreessen is a venture capitalist. He’s half of the name of Andreessen Horowitz, a firm whose holdings represent a range of successful tech start-ups. They put money into Skype, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, and Instagram. They also put money into Groupon and Zynga, but you can win ‘em all (actually, since both companies IPO’d, their stocks falling to 1/3 of peak valuation doesn’t really matter to Andreessen Horowitz — the exit is the win).

In short, Andreessen has seen some shit.

Embedded tweets take up too much space, so I’m gonna go ahead and paste in the rest of his list by hand.

3/Normal people will use it, but it’s trivial. 4/It will never replace [legacy]. 5/It will replace [legacy], which is why the world is going to hell. 6/Yes, fine, but just wait until [big company] does it. 7/Yes, fine, but just wait until [hypothetical better version that doesn’t actually exist] does it. 8/I can’t believe how much money those kids made from that. 9/It’s a clear and obvious bubble. 10/Whatever, innovation is dead.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Marc Andreessen thinks “Whatever, innovation is dead” is the most nuanced form of tech cynicism available.

You know, it happens. Andreessen is a busy man, what with all the innovation and disruption he’s got to fund and then exit from. When your days are that packed, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. If you have to spend all your time immersed in the promise of tech, your cynic muscles can atrophy and even the crudest cynicism might seem nuanced.

But we can do better. Here are a some additions.

11/ Normal people will use it, and then they’ll stop because it is a fad.

12/ It is as vulnerable to the logic of disruption as [legacy].

13/ It will prioritize speed of implementation over security, offering users’ personal data to hackers, advertisers, and spies on a silver platter.

14/ It will succeed long enough for a successful exit, then crash and burn, enriching VCs but doing little to improve the world as a whole.

15/ Although it preaches revolution, it will end up reproducing and empowering the structures of injustice that dominate today.

16/ It will intensify the growing concentration of wealth and power that appears to be endemic to economies which take advantage of network effects.

17/ Because it is being implemented in a country where food and healthcare are treated as luxuries rather than basic human rights, its success will multiply the misery in the world as it lays waste to [legacy].

18/ It is being created and sold to a tiny cadre of wealthy inter-connected players who are so convinced of their own intelligence that it doesn’t occur to them to ask around and find out the needs of other people.

19/ It will be powered by ads.

20/ It will do nothing to slow the headlong rush of global civilization into any number of catastrophes which would in turn render it irrelevant.

21/ It preys on and amplifies human weakness.

22/ It will have unintended consequences.

23/ It will do nothing to mitigate the chaos it leaves in its wake."

[Also

24/ It will re-enable scams that regulation had previously tamped down in [legacy].
https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/447812538638794752

25/ Its successful ubiquity will force users to contort their selves so they can slot into an ill-considered early design decision.
https://twitter.com/doingitwrong/status/447813472580300800 ]
timmaly  technology  marcandreessen  cynicism  technosolutionism  criticism  2014  internet  web  civilization  inequality  power  advertising  money  vc  venturecapital  legacy  unintendedconsequences  fads  wealth  economics  innovation  disruption 
march 2014 by robertogreco
BRATTON.INFO - talks - "we need to talk about ted"
"So what is TED exactly?

Perhaps it's the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough then the world will change. But this is not true, and that's the second problem.

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realization, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I'm sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are very complicated are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time –and the audience’s time— dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

Recently there was a bit of a dust up when TED Global sent out a note to TEDx organizers to not book speakers whose work spans the paranormal, the conspiratorial, New Age, quantum neuroenergy, etc: what is called Woo. Instead of these placebos, TEDx should instead curate talks that are imaginative but grounded in reality. In fairness, they took some heat, so their gesture should be acknowledged. A lot of people take TED very seriously, and might lend credence to specious ideas if stamped with TED credentials. "No" to placebo science and medicine.

But the corollaries of placebo science and placebo medicine are placebo politics and placebo innovation. On this point, TED has a long ways to go.

Perhaps the pinnacle of placebo politics and innovation was featured at TEDx San Diego in 2011. You’re familiar I assume with Kony2012, the social media campaign to stop war crimes in central Africa? What happened here? Evangelical Christian surfer Bro goes to help kids in Africa. He makes a campy video explaining genocide to the cast of Glee. The world finds his public epiphany to be shallow to the point of self-delusion. The complex geopolitics of Central Africa are left undisturbed. Kony’s still there. The end.

You see, when inspiration becomes manipulation, inspiration becomes obfuscation. If you are not cynical you should be skeptical. You should be as skeptical of placebo politics as you are placebo medicine."



"E and Economics

A better 'E' in TED would stand for Economics, and the need for, yes imagining and designing, different systems of valuation, exchange, accounting of transaction externalites, financing of coordinated planning, etc. Because States plus Markets, States versus Markets, these are insufficient models, and our conversation is still stuck in Cold War gear.

Worse is when economics is debated like metaphysics, as if the reality of a system is merely a bad example of the ideal.

Communism in theory is an egalitarian utopia

Actually existing Communism meant ecological devastation, government spying, crappy cars and gulags

Capitalism in theory is rocket ships, nanomedicine, and Bono saving Africa.

Actually existing Capitalism means Walmart jobs, people living in sewers under Las Vegas, McMansions, Ryan Seacrest…plus —ecological devastation, government spying, crappy public transportation and for-profit prisons.

Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek, to what we have plus a little more Keynes. Why?

The most recent centuries have seen extraordinary accomplishments in improving quality of life. But the paradox is that the system we have now --whatever you want to call it-- is in the short term what makes the amazing new technologies possible, but in the long run it is also what suppresses their full flowering. Another economic architecture is prerequisite."



"As for one simple take away... I don't have one simple take away, one magic idea. That’s kind of the point. I will say that when and if the key problems facing our species were to be solved, then perhaps many of us in this room would be out of work (and perhaps in jail).

But it’s not as though there is a shortage of topics for serious discussion. We need a deeper conversation about the difference between digital cosmopolitanism and Cloud Feudalism (toward that, a queer history of computer science and Alan Turing’s birthday as holiday!)

I would like new maps of the world, ones not based on settler colonialism, legacy genomics and bronze age myths, but instead on something more… scalable.

TED today is not that.

Problems are not “puzzles” to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be re-arranged and re-programmed. It’s not true.

“Innovation” that moves the pieces around and adds more processing power is not some Big Idea that will disrupt a broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.

One TED speaker said recently, “If you remove this boundary, ...the only boundary left is our imagination.” Wrong.

If we really want transformation we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

Instead of dumbing down the future we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration," it's about the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and re-conceptualization: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins

At a societal level, the bottom line is if we invest things that make us feel good but which don’t work, and don’t invest things that don’t make us feel good but which may solve problems, then our fate is that it will just get harder and harder to feel good about not solving any problems.

In this case the placebo is worse than ineffective, it's harmful. It's diverts your interest, enthusiasm and outrage until it's absorbed into this black hole of affectation

Keep calm and carry on "innovating"... is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical.

In the U.S. the right-wing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality... other constituencies have TED."

[Now posted at the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted ]
benjaminbratton  ted  tedxsandiego  2013  politics  technology  sandiego  lajolla  communism  capitalism  kony2012  geopolitics  drones  nsa  surveillance  innovation  ambiguity  contradiction  demystification  cynicism  skepticism  cloudfeudalism  digitalcosmopolitanism  via:javierarbona 
december 2013 by robertogreco
On Smarm
"It is also no accident that David Eggers is full of shit."

"Smarm should be understood as a type of bullshit, then. It is a kind of moral and ethical misdirection."

"The old systems of prestige are rickety and insecure. Everyone has a publishing platform and no one has a career."

"What carries contemporary American political campaigns along is a thick flow of opaque smarm."

"Romney clambered up to a new higher ground, deploring the divisiveness of dwelling on his divisiveness."

"Through smarm, the "centrists" have cut themselves off from the language of actual dispute. In smarm is power."

"A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all."

"Joe Lieberman! If you would know smarm, look to Joe Lieberman."

"The plutocrats are haunted, as all smarmers are haunted, by a lack of respect. On Twitter, the only answer to "Do you know who I am?" is "One more person with 140 characters to use.""

"To actually say a plain and direct word like "corrupt" is more outlandish, in smarm's outlook, than even swearing."

"Anger is upsetting to smarm. But so is humor and confidence."

"Immense fortunes have bloomed in Silicon Valley on the most ephemeral and stupid windborne seeds of concepts. What's wrong with you, that you didn't get a piece of it?"
criticism  culture  smarm  snark  daveeggers  malcolmgladwell  2013  tomscocca  buzzfeed  heidijulavits  isaacfitzgerald  daviddenby  bambi  arifleischer  lannydavis  leesiegel  cynicism  negativity  tone  politics  writing  critique  mittromney  barackobama  michaelbloomberg  ianfrazier  centrists  power  redistribution  rebeccablank  civilization  dialog  conversation  purpose  jedediahpurdy  irony  joelieberman  marshallsella  billclinton  mainstream  georgewbush  maureendowd  rudeness  meanness  plutocrats  wealth  publishing  media  respect  niallferguson  alexpareene  mariabartiromo  gawker  choiresicha  anger  confidence  humor  spikelee  upworthy  adammordecai  juliachild  success  successfulness  niceness  tompeters  bullshit  morality  ethics  misdirection  insecurity  prestige  audience  dialogue 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Svetlana Boym | Off-Modern Manifesto
"1. A Margin of Error

“It's not my fault. Communication error has occurred,” my computer pleads with me in a voice of lady Victoria. First it excuses itself, then urges me to pay attention, to check my connections, to follow the instructions carefully. I don't. I pull the paper out of the printer prematurely, shattering the image, leaving its out takes, stripes of transience, inkblots and traces of my hands on the professional glossy surface. Once the disoriented computer spat out a warning across the image “Do Not Copy,” an involuntary water mark that emerged from the depth of its disturbed memory. The communication error makes each print unrepeatable and unpredictable. I collect the computer errors. An error has an aura.

To err is human, says a Roman proverb. In the advanced technological lingo the space of humanity itself is relegated to the margin of error. Technology, we are told, is wholly trustworthy, were it not for the human factor. We seem to have gone full circle: to be human means to err. Yet, this margin of error is our margin of freedom. It's a choice beyond the multiple choices programmed for us, an interaction excluded from computerized interactivity. The error is a chance encounter between us and the machines in which we surprise each other. The art of computer erring is neither high tech nor low tech. Rather it’s broken-tech. It cheats both on technological progress and on technological obsolescence. And any amateur artist can afford it. Art's new technology is a broken technology.

Or shall we call it dysfunctional, erratic, nostalgic? Nostalgia is a longing for home that no longer exists or most likely, has never existed. That non-existent home is akin to an ideal communal apartment where art and technology co-habited like friendly neighbours or cousins. Techne, after all, once referred to arts, crafts and techniques. Both art and technology were imagined as the forms of human prosthesis, the missing limbs, imaginary or physical extensions of the human space."



2. Short Shadows, Endless Surfaces



Broken-tech art is an art of short shadows. It turns our attention to the surfaces, rims and thresholds. From my ten years of travels I have accumulated hundreds of photographs of windows, doors, facades, back yards, fences, arches and sunsets in different cities all stored in plastic bags under my desk. I re-photograph the old snapshots with my digital camera and the sun of the other time and the other place cast new shadows upon their once glossy surfaces with stains of the lemon tea and fingerprints of indifferent friends. I try not to use the preprogrammed special effects of Photoshop; not because I believe in authenticity of craftsmanship, but because I equally distrust the conspiratorial belief in the universal simulation. I wish to learn from my own mistakes, let myself err. I carry the pictures into new physical environments, inhabit them again, occasionally deviating from the rules of light exposure and focus.

At the same time I look for the ready-mades in the outside world, “natural” collages and ambiguous double exposures. My most misleading images are often “straight photographs.” Nobody takes them for what they are, for we are burdened with an afterimage of suspicion.

Until recently we preserved a naive faith in photographic witnessing. We trusted the pictures to capture what Roland Barthes called “the being there” of things. For better or for worse, we no longer do. Now images appear to us as always already altered, a few pixels missing here and there, erased by some conspiratorial invisible hand. Moreover, we no longer analyse these mystifying images but resign to their pampering hypnosis. Broken- tech art reveals the degrees of our self-pixelization, lays bare hypnotic effects of our cynical reason.




3. Errands, Transits.



4. A Critic, an Amateur

If in the 1980s artists dreamed of becoming their own curators and borrowed from the theorists, now the theorists dream of becoming artists. Disappointed with their own disciplinary specialization, they immigrate into each other's territory. The lateral move again. Neither backwards nor forwards, but sideways. Amateur's out takes are no longer excluded but placed side-by-side with the non-out takes. I don't know what to call them anymore, for there is little agreement these days on what these non-out takes are.

But the amateur's errands continue. An amateur, as Barthes understood it, is the one who constantly unlearns and loves, not possessively, but tenderly, inconstantly, desperately. Grateful for every transient epiphany, an amateur is not greedy."
philosophy  technology  svetlanaboym  via:ablerism  off-modern  canon  nostalgia  human  humanism  amateurs  unlearning  love  loving  greed  selflessness  homesickness  broken  broken-tech  art  beausage  belatedness  newness  leisurearts  walterbenjamin  errors  fallibility  erring  henribergson  billgates  prosthetics  artists  imagination  domestication  play  jaques-henrilartigue  photography  film  fiction  shadows  shortshadows  nearness  distance  balance  thresholds  rims  seams  readymade  rolandbarthes  cynicism  modernity  internationalstyle  evreyday  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Stand together or fall apart » No measure of health
"But I still have a lot of time for the gradualists, too. For one thing, a lot of fiery radicals miss opportunities to make real improvements in our lives within existing systems. Legalising same-sex marriage neither ended homophobia nor helped anyone who doesn’t fit a fairly traditional domestic template, but how many deportations has it forestalled? Obamacare is gravely compromised—a shadow of the reform it should have been—but how many bankruptcies will it prevent? Just because these are partial, provisional victories doesn’t mean they weren’t worth fighting for, and won’t stop me from cheering for them.

Just as importantly, I still share the gradualists’ fear. A while back, I tweeted something to the effect of “How can we have the Revolution without La Terreur?” and no-one answered. That’s not exactly a scientific measure, but I still don’t have an answer, still haven’t heard a good one from anyone else, and fear that the trauma that is Egypt today proves the point. Without such an answer, the thought of a true rupture still gives me sickening vertigo.

So what can we do? I like to look for middle ways, but I don’t see an adequate one here. I still write to electeds, and I will vote when I’m finally allowed, but I’m consciously minimising the time I spend on this kind of politics, because the potential wins are so dispiritingly far short of the change we need. The best I have is doing what I can to build and support human scale alternatives to the intermediated, dehumanising political economy we have as a default. In my more idealistic moments, I think we can just slowly render the old, ossified systems irrelevant and watch them fade away. Usually I see it as prototyping."
timmaly  quinnorton  ta-nehisicoates  2013  eldangoldenberg  tejucole  politics  policy  gradualists  democracy  middlegrounds  canon  action  activism  beginners  welcome  makerspaces  community  libraries  tools  toollibraries  communitiesofpractice  cynicism  compassion  conviviality  cooperation  coops  despair  work  decentralization  ecosystems  interdependence  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2013 by robertogreco
"Envisioning a Sustainable World" by Donella H. Meadows [.pdf]
"Vision is the most vital step in the policy process. If we don’t know where we want to go, it makes little difference that we make great progress. Yet vision is not only missing almost entirely from policy discussions; it is missing from our whole culture. We talk about our fears, frustrations, and doubts endlessly, but we talk only rarely and with embarrassment about our dreams. Environmentalists have been especially ineffective in creating any shared vision of the world they are working toward -- a sustainable world in which people live within nature in a way that meets human needs while not degrading natural systems. Hardly anyone can imagine that world, especially not as a world they’d actively like to live in. The process of building a responsible vision of a sustainable world is not a rational one. It comes from values, not logic. Envisioning is a skill that can be developed, like any other human skill. This paper indicates how."



"Beyond that we could occasionally take the social risk of displaying not our skepticism but our deepest desires. We could declare ourselves in favor of a sustainable, just, secure, efficient, sufficient world (and you can add any other "value word" you like to that list), even at the expense of being called idealistic. We could describe that world, as far as we can see it, and ask others to develop the description further. We could give as much credit to the times when we exceed our expectations as to the times when we fall short. We could let disappointments be learning experiences, rather than fuel for pessimism."



"Why is it that we can share our cynicism, complaints, and frustrations without hesitation with perfect strangers, but we can't share our dreams? How did we arrive at a culture that constantly, almost automatically, ridicules visionaries? Whose idea of reality forces us to "be realistic?" When were we taught, and by whom, to suppress our visions?"



"Vision is the most vital step in the policy process. If we don’t know where we want to go, it makes little difference that we make great progress. Yet vision is not only missing almost entirely from policy discussions; it is missing from our whole culture."

[via Nicole: https://readmill.com/nicoleslaw/reads/envisioning-a-sustainable-world ]

[video: https://vimeo.com/30752926 ]
vision  donellameadows  sustainability  1994  change  pessimism  skepticism  cynicism  culture  society  optimism  tcsnmy  visionaries  policy  process  idealism  pragmatism  naïvité 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Departures - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"I have not had any problems. At 8:45 I will board a ship. It will punch through the sky. At some point, God willing, that ship will emerge over airspace far from the beloved West Baltimore of my youth. Something is happening in this world. I think of my grandfather, lecturing from the daily newspaper, drowning in alcohol, addicted to violence. I think of my father, working all summer as a child, saving his funds for a collection of recordings that promised to teach him French. He didn't learn French, but he learned to compel his son to want to learn French. I think of my grandmother pushing up from the Eastern Shore of Maryland raising three daughters in the projects, somehow sending them all to college. 

I think of what these folks might have been had they not lived in world intolerant of black ambition. The world has changed. It has not changed totally, but it has changed significantly. When I fell out on the train, everyone on the car was white. So were all the paramedics and all the doctors and nurses. The challenge for someone trying to assess America, at this moment, is properly calibrating how far we've gone with how far we have to go. Too much optimism renders you naive; too much pessimism makes you cynical."
ta-nehisicoates  2013  progress  health  us  optimism  pessimism  naïvité  cynicism  race 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Nigel Warburton –Cosmopolitanism
"Life is bearable in part because we can so easily resist imagining the extent of suffering across the globe. And if we do think about it, for most of us that thinking is dispassionate and removed. That is how we as a species live. Perhaps it’s why the collective noun for a group of apes is a ‘shrewdness’."

"But Diogenes wasn’t simply trying to scorn orthodoxy and shock those around him. His declaration was a signal that he took nature — the cosmos — as his guide to life, rather than the parochial and often arbitrary laws of a particular city-state. The cosmos had its own laws. Rather than being in thrall to local custom and kowtowing to those of high status, Diogenes was responsible to humanity as a whole. His loyalty was to human reason, unpolluted by petty concerns with wealth and power. And reason, as Socrates well knew, unsettled the status quo."

"One source of evil in the world is people’s inability to ‘decentre’ — to imagine what it would be like to be different, under attack from killer drones, or tortured, or beaten by state-controlled thugs at a protest rally. The internet has provided a window on our common humanity; indeed, it allows us to see more than many of us are comfortable to take in. Nevertheless, in principle, it gives us a greater connection with a wider range of people around the world than ever before. We can’t claim ignorance if we have wi-fi. It remains to be seen whether this connection will lead to greater polarisation of viewpoints, or a new sense of what we have in common."

[Goes well with: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2013/03/01/facebook-college.html and http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/02/27/dont_trust_anyone_over_70 ]
petersinger  kwameanthonyappiah  philosophy  empathy  cosmopolitanism  culture  nigelwarburton  casssunstein  facebook  twitter  internet  blogs  blogging  ideas  connectivism  poverty  2013  diogenes  athens  ancientgreece  identity  nationalism  globalism  cynicism  cv  local  localism  glocal  jamesjoyce  circlesofresidence  stephendedalus 
march 2013 by robertogreco
world-weary, adj. : Oxford English Dictionary
Nothing new here, but the timing (that it pops up in my Pinboard network) is interesting:

"Weary of the world; feeling or indicating feelings of weariness, boredom, or cynicism as a result of long experience of life."
language  cv  words  via:preoccupations  weariness  boredom  cynicism  world-weariness 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on Hope on Vimeo
"Despair is a black leather jacket in which everyone looks good, while hope is a frilly pink dress few dare to wear. Rebecca Solnit thinks this virtue needs to be redefined.

Here she takes to our pulpit to deliver a sermon that looks at the remarkable social changes of the past half century, the stories the mainstream media neglects and the big surprises that keep on landing.

She explores why disaster makes us behave better and why it's braver to hope than to hide behind despair's confidence and cynicism's safety.

History is not an army. It's more like a crab scuttling sideways. And we need to be brave enough to hope change is possible in order to have a chance of making it happen."
mainstreammedia  davidgraeber  venezuela  indigeneity  indigenousrights  indigenous  us  mexico  ecuador  anti-globalization  latinamerica  bolivia  evamorales  lula  cynicism  uncertainty  struggle  paulofreire  barackobama  georgewbush  humanrights  insurgency  hosnimubarak  egypt  yemen  china  saudiarabia  bahrain  change  protest  tunisia  optimism  future  environment  contrarians  peterkro  peterkropotkin  worldbank  imf  globaljustice  history  freemarkets  freetrade  media  globalization  publicdiscourse  neoliberalism  easttimor  syria  control  power  children  brasil  argentina  postcapitalism  passion  learning  education  giftgiving  gifteconomy  gifts  politics  policy  generosity  kindness  sustainability  life  labor  work  schooloflife  social  society  capitalism  economics  hope  2011  anti-authoritarians  antiauthority  anarchy  anarchism  rebeccasolnit  brazil  shrequest1  luladasilva  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
inessential.com: ‘Gamification’ sucks
"“Gamification” is a word and concept invented by idiocrats who confuse humane with manipulative.

Theory about how the mistake gets made

Everybody sees the trend toward simpler, more-focused, better-designed software. Enterprise developers see the consumerization of IT.

You could look at this trend and say, “As software improves, it respects its users more. It works better and looks better, is easier to learn, and leaves out the things that waste a user’s time.”

Or you could look at this trend and say, “As software gets simpler, it gets dumbed-down — even toddlers can use iPads. Users are now on the mental level of children, and we should design accordingly. What do children like? Games.”

Respect

It should be obvious that one conclusion respects people and one doesn’t. It should also be obvious that the first conclusion is correct and the second is incorrect, cynical, and low."
design  gaming  games  software  truth  2011  cynicism  humanism  society  gamification  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs - NYTimes.com
"…worked at what he loved…really hard…opposite of absent-minded…never embarrassed about working hard, even if results were failures…wasn’t ashamed to admit trying…

Novelty was not…highest value. Beauty was…didn’t favor trends or gimmicks…philosophy of aesthetics…“Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”…willing to be misunderstood…Love was his supreme virtue, god of gods…believed love happened all the time, everywhere…never ironic, cynical, pessimistic…choices he made…designed to dissolve walls around him…humble…liked to keep learning…cultivated whimsy…had surprises tucked in all his pockets…had a lot of fun…treasured happiness…set destinations…

We all—in the end—die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories…

character is essential: What he was, was how he died…

…final words were: OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW."
life  death  work  happiness  stevejobs  monajobs  2011  eulogy  living  wisdom  storytelling  beauty  parenting  love  attention  failure  character  stories  fun  pessimism  cynicism  irony  virtues  art  time  timelessnessm  durability  workethic  ethics  philosophy  aesthetics  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Draft of a manifesto written in defense of a group of people that did not ask for my defense, using words they would not use and engaging people they ignore. « Lebenskünstler
"While you wring hands over what it all means, we are trying to change the world, build relationships and communities. Are we naive? Possibly. We prefer a world of naive dreamers to cynical observers. Keep your beloved “criticality.” Hold it close to your heart and tell us what you feel. We are friends, not “colleagues” and we choose to embrace humane values and each other. We offer a different vision. Against the professional hegemony of academic intellectualism we offer – trust, love, sentiment, passion, egalitarianism and sincerity…

We are gamblers, believing in the value of risking everything for the sake of our “foolish” dreams and schemes."
randallszott  doing  livign  acting  cynicism  2010  manifestos  art  theory  practice  glvo  lcproject  tcsnmy  intellectualism  humanity  passion  egalitarianism  sincerity  trust  love  sentiment  worldchanging  dreamers  academia  risk  risktaking  amateurism  unschooling  deschooling  understanding  cv  leisure  tinkering  wittgenstein  johndewey  philosophy  isolation  shopclassassoulcraft  authenticity  rigor  Rancière  agamben  brucewilshire  richardshusterman  robertsolomon  booklist  nicolasbourriaud  radicalphilosophy  antonionegri  naïvité  everyday  amateurs  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Bill Williams' Blog: The Mailmen
"In the past few years I’ve seen the high end & low end of education in NYC. I’ve taught in private school…& public school…

What the schools share in common is their steadfast adherence to the status quo. Kids at both schools are like the mail…already pre-sorted & classed…teacher’s job…is to ensure the mail gets to its proper destination. The First Class/Special Delivery to be sped to destinations in Cambridge, MA, New Haven, CT, or Palo Alto, CA. Kids from public school are bulk mail, delivered to every doorstep in their neighborhood…

Great teaching gets done in places where people make or are given the room to be remarkable. Schools or classrooms that seek not to define who students are & what they should know, but ask who they can be and what they might create. A few teachers risk being poets who write beautiful letters. The rest, alas, keep heads safely attached and deliver the mail. Going home promptly at end of the school day to lock in a deep embrace w/ mediocrity."
teaching  education  statusquo  cv  organizations  bureaucracy  class  society  socialmobility  socialimmobility  nyc  billwilliams  self  self-awareness  privateschools  publicschools  tcsnmy  mediocrity  compliance  hierarchy  stoprockingtheboat  rockingtheboat  passivecompliance  passivity  success  cynicism  grades  grading  sorting  people  us  2011  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Guernica / The Straight Dope — Bill Moyers interviews David Simon, April 2011
"David Simon would be happy to find out that The Wire was hyperbolic and ridiculous, and that the “American Century” is still to come. But he's not betting on it. An excerpt from Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, forthcoming from The New Press."

"I am very cynical about institutions and their willingness to address themselves to reform. I am not cynical when it comes to individuals and people. And I think the reason The Wire is watchable, even tolerable, to viewers is that it has great affection for individuals. It’s not misanthropic in any way. It has great affection for those people, particularly when they stand up on their hind legs and say, “I will not lie anymore. I am actually going to fight for what I perceive to be some shard of truth.”"
davidsimon  billmoyers  toread  interviews  thewire  tv  television  politics  drugs  cities  baltimore  2011  government  policy  society  economics  journalism  statistics  progress  crime  lawenforcement  criminology  urban  urbanism  laissezfaire  markets  marketfundamentalism  decriminalization  underclass  class  race  incarceration  institutions  cynicism  reform  change  individualism  people  human  humancondition  humans  democracy  control  corruption  mexico  us  ideology  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
PhotonQ-Connecting with Nicholas Negroponte | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
"child becomes agent of change, as opposed to object of change"

"If you have to measure (result), it's not big enough." (Answering question, how do you measure success of the OLPC ?)"

“Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living.”

“Paper books will not exist in 5 years. The argument against books as paper objects turns out to be the developing world.”

"Every time the project is carried out, children all over the developing world ‘swim like fish’ in the digital environment …Ironically while often seen as a damaging distraction to western kids, ownership & use of a personal laptop in deprived areas is a huge advantage. Perhaps it’s because we have so much that we’re so bored & cynical.

…to own a networked laptop w/ access to internet means you’ve got access to the global conversation. You’re part of what’s happening all over world & can have digital presence as influential & dynamic as any kid in SF. OLPC machines are inspiring some interesting behaviour too…"

[See also: http://tedxbrussels.eu/blog/2010/12/01/430/ ]
nicholasnegroponte  olpc  education  outdoctrination  learning  global  deschooling  autodidacts  autodidactism  leapfrogging  cynicism  xo  behavior  society  internet  web  computing  lcproject  unschooling  autodidacticism  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
So Long For Now :: IDEA
"de-motivation derived from constant feeling I have that continuing to receive formal education is neither relevant to nor financially viable for me. Not given chance to get over burnout from my last stretch of k-12 schooling, I am beginning to feel that this isn't worth it if I am always confused, stressed & tired. Yet at the same time I LOVE learning & a college (or library) has ready-made learning opportunities that aren't taken by force…I feel caught in a daze…student body is not academically oriented…there is mostly an attitude of apathy. Many people will be transferring & a few have already dropped out…There is this air of cynicism & self destruction that worsens my burnout to point of sorrow.

One saving grace…Green Mountain's “Progressive Program”…less required classes…program is a work intensive self designed program. I would be a traditional art major in the program, but I will be linking many cross disciplinary classes into it. I can shape my own curriculum"
greenmountaincollege  apathy  education  colleges  universities  heath  despair  sorrow  libraries  progressive  learning  alternative  crossdisciplinary  self-directedlearning  cynicism  self-destruction  burnout  informaleducation  schooling  schooliness  motivation  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Shortcuts - In a Land of Cynics and Saps, the Skeptic Is King - NYTimes.com
"The choice, though, is not simply between cynicism and gullibility. The middle ground is skepticism — someone who doesn’t accept things on faith but seeks out more information, said Paul Mihailidis, an assistant professor of media studies and public relations at Hofstra University.

“A cynic doesn’t trust and walks away,” he said. “A skeptic doesn’t trust and keeps asking questions.”

The danger is trying to teach skepticism and ending up with cynics, which can happen, Professor Mihailidis said, when educating students in how the media operates. A study of University of Maryland undergraduates who took media literacy found they were more able to understand, evaluate and analyze media messages, but they were also more cynical and negative about the media’s role in civil society — which was not the goal.

“It’s not enough to teach students how the message is slanted,” Professor Mihailidis said. “We need to teach how to become engaged and active citizens.”

The aim is, as much as possible, to question and learn. Nonetheless, all of us, at some point, will be duped or mistakenly distrust an honest man. But that doesn’t make us cynics or fools. It just makes us human."
cynicism  medialiteracy  skepticism  criticalthinking  education  learning  curiosity  questioning  paulmihailidis  gullibility  trust  human  daviddunning  psychology  society 
may 2010 by robertogreco
BBC News - Today - A world without planes
"Whatever the advantages of plentiful and convenient air travel, we may curse it for being too easy, too unnoticeable - and thereby for subverting our sincere attempts at changing ourselves through our journeys.

How we would admire planes if they were no longer there to frighten and bore us. We would stroke their steel dolphin-like bodies in museums and honour them as symbols of a daunting technical intelligence and a prodigious wealth.

We would admire them like small boys do, and adults no longer dare, for fear of seeming uncynical and unvigilant towards their crimes against our world."
alaindebotton  flight  airplanes  airlines  travel  2010  wonder  future  cynicism  convenience  planes  sustainability  transport  flying  aviation  iceland  futurism  air 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Motivation « Re-educate
"Instead of discussing raising standards, we should be arguing the relative merits of imposing standards...Dan Pink...argues persuasively that there are 3 elements to true motivation: autonomy, mastery, & purpose. By imposing standards on kids, we’re undermining their feelings of autonomy; they’re being forced to play our game by our rules...less likely that they’ll achieve true mastery, because the standards we’ve imposed represent a minimum. Once they reach the minimum standard of competence, their work is done. & it’s hard to imagine how kids could find authentic purpose in filling in answers to a standardized test. Instead, they become cynical, viewing school as a series of banal tasks that must be endured...in 15 years of working with teenagers, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t agree that learning how to read is a good thing. Imposing standards—trying to force kids to learn to read—could be doing more harm than good. Instead, we might re-examine how we motivate students."
standardizedtesting  standards  progressive  education  deschooling  compulsory  motivation  danielpink  cynicism  lcproject  tcsnmy  mastery  purpose  reading  autonomy  self-directedlearning 
january 2010 by robertogreco
6-Year-Old Stares Down Bottomless Abyss Of Formal Schooling | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Basic math—which the child has blissfully yet to learn—clearly demonstrates that the number of years before he will be released from the horrifying prison of formal schooling, is more than twice the length of time he has yet existed. According to a conservative estimate of six hours of school five days a week for nine months of the year, Bolduc faces an estimated 14,400 hours trapped in an endless succession of nearly identical, suffocating classrooms.
education  schools  schooling  humor  compulsory  satire  irony  cynicism  children  society  parenting  kids  theonion  existentialism 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Snarkmarket: One of Those Old Words We Don't Use Anymore
"Charles Stross...argues that the U.S. is suffering from a mercy deficit...just dwell on the word. Mercy. Is that word like totally not a part of our modern lexicon or what?...feels almost like one of those hard-to-translate words from another language. Saudade. Schadenfreude. Mercy. Where does mercy live in our society today? What policies do we promote that have mercy at their core? What would that even mean? Not rhetorical questions; I find myself suddenly and sincerely puzzled" +comment: "Perhaps it's that the ideas of incentives, rational actors, & game theory are so much in favor that we've forgotten (or foregone) a more emotionally rooted approach to public life...What would mercy look like? Well, it might be as simple as giving up our means-testing, data-gathering, quantizing instincts for public assistance, and providing that assistance without requiring "proof of need". It might be as hard as letting go our fear of being scammed and giving to each other openly."
mercy  healthcare  society  cynicism  fear  selfishness  us  empathy  trust  tcsnmy  words  language  saudade  english  schadenfreude 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Ralph Dumain: "The Autodidact Project": Quote: Peter Sloterdijk: What Is Cynical Reason?
"...Cynicism is enlightened false consciousness. It is that modernized, unhappy consciousness, on which enlightenment has labored both successfully and in vain. It has learned its lessons in enlightenment, but it has not, and probably was not able to, put them into practice. Well-off and miserable at the same time, this consciousness no longer feels affected by any critique of ideology; its falseness is already reflexively buffered."

[via: http://varnelis.net/notices/infrastructural_city_in_dwell ]
cynicism  philosophy  culture  learning  enlightenment 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Click opera - Notes towards a definition of "moronic cynicism"
"The moronic cynic uses cynicism as a way to prepare for the worst. The worst consequently arrives.
cynicism  criticism  philosophy  momus  via:russelldavies 
november 2008 by robertogreco
tiny gigantic » Blog Archive » Smart-people traps
"1. Professions...tempted by rewards...pressured by family, culture...cannot leave security of pre-defined track...unwilling to explore themselves enough to see individual course...for many there is no passion or purpose, no vision or meaning, no intuitive individual truth...soul-sucking 2. Smart people are good at school...tempted to stay...whole lives...get into spiral of irrelevance & isolation from rest of world 3. Politics...trap...in order to change world through politics, you must gain power...4. Critical thinking...spend all formative years getting rewarded for finding problems...focusing on negative...leave school thinking way to be useful & show smarts is to point out why things won’t work, rather than using smarts to find a way forward"
society  careers  culture  intelligence  education  criticalthinking  cv  work  vocation  gtd  behavior  thinking  life  yearoff  gamechanging  making  learning  deschooling  unschooling  problemsolving  creativity  professionals  professions  change  freedom  value  lcproject  usefulness  academia  intellectualism  cynicism  entrepreneurship  activism  politics  rewards  fulfillment  via:preoccupations 
august 2008 by robertogreco
If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be 2008 by Kevin Guilfoile & John Warner - The Morning News
"Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama are like HD-DVD & Blu-Ray, respectively, Mitt Romney is DVD, John McCain is VHS, & Ron Paul is a View-Master dug out of a box in basement with “Great Wonders of Engineering Vol. 12: The Hoover Dam” permanently jammed in
elections  barackobama  2008  hillaryclinton  us  humor  irony  cynicism  politics 
february 2008 by robertogreco
PULPHOPE: ECHOES OF THE JAZZ AGE
"It was characteristic of the Jazz Age that it had no interest in politics at all."
fscottfitzgerald  history  cynicism  liberty  freedom  politics  billofrights 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Really Magazine - Interview: An exclusive interview with Laurie Taylor
"a cynic as a person who, when he smells flowers, looks...for a coffin...cynicism...seems...contagious. Put a really good hardened cynic into a department and within six months you'll have everyone else wandering around moaning about their lot."
cynicism  work  people  psychology  science  humor 
july 2007 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Health | Cynicism link with heart disease
"Being cynical can increase the risk of heart disease, US researchers claim."
health  research  stress  emotions  psychology  cynicism  i'mscrewed 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Essay: On the Uses of a Liberal Education (As Lite Entertainment For Bored College Students)
by Mark Edmundson at the University of Virginia (Harper's September 1997)

"For someone growing up in America now, there are few available alternatives to the cool consumer worldview. My students didn't ask for that view, much less create it, but they bring a consumer weltanschauung to school, where it exerts a powerful, and largely unacknowledged, influence."

[…]

"It's not that some aren't nearly as bright -- in terms of intellectual ability, my students are all that I could ask for. Instead, it's that Joon Lee has decided to follow his interests and let them make him into a singular and rather eccentric man; in his charming way, he doesn't mind being at odds with most anyone.

It's his capacity for enthusiasm that sets Joon apart from what I've come to think of as the reigning generational style. Whether the students are sorority/fraternity types, grunge aficionados, piercer/tattooers, black or white, rich or middle class (alas, I teach almost no students from truly poor backgrounds), they are, nearly across the board, very, very self-contained. On good days they display a light, appealing glow; on bad days, shuffling disgruntlement. But there's little fire, little passion to be found.

[…]

"Most of my students seem desperate to blend in, to look right, not to make a spectacle of themselves. (Do I have to tell you that those two students having the argument under the portico turned out to be acting in a role-playing game?) The specter of the uncool creates a subtle tyranny. It's apparently an easy standard to subscribe to, this Letterman-like, Tarantinolike cool, but once committed to it, you discover that matters are rather different. You're inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing emotion, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. You're made to feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code will get you genially ostracized. This is a culture tensely committed to a laid-back norm."

[…]

"What they will not generally do, though, is indict the current system. They won't talk about how the exigencies of capitalism lead to a reserve army of the unemployed and nearly inevitable misery. That would be getting too loud, too brash. For the pervading view is the cool consumer perspective, where passion and strong admiration are forbidden. "To stand in awe of nothing, Numicus, is perhaps the one and only thing that can make a man happy and keep him so," says Horace in the Epistles, and I fear that his lines ought to hang as a motto over the university in this era of high consumer capitalism.

It's easy to mount one's high horse and blame the students for this state of affairs. But they didn't create the present culture of consumption. (It was largely my own generation, that of the Sixties, that let the counterculture search for pleasure devolve into a quest for commodities.) And they weren't the ones responsible, when they were six and seven and eight years old, for unplugging the TV set from time to time or for hauling off and kicking a hole through it. It's my generation of parents who sheltered these students, kept them away from the hard knocks of everyday life, making them cautious and overfragile, who demanded that their teachers, from grade school on, flatter them endlessly so that the kids are shocked if their college profs don't reflexively suck up to them.

Of course, the current generational style isn't simply derived from culture and environment. It's also about dollars. Students worry that taking too many chances with their educations will sabotage their future prospects. They're aware of the fact that a drop that looks more and more like one wall of the Grand Canyon separates the top economic tenth from the rest of the population. There's a sentiment currently abroad that if you step aside for a moment, to write, to travel, to fall too hard in love, you might lose position permanently. We may be on a conveyor belt, but it's worse down there on the filth-strewn floor. So don't sound off, don't blow your chance."

[…]

"Teachers who really do confront students, who provide significant challenges to what they believe, can be very successful, granted. But sometimes such professors generate more than a little trouble for themselves. A controversial teacher can send students hurrying to the deans and the counselors, claiming to have been offended. ("Offensive" is the preferred term of repugnance today, just as "enjoyable" is the summit of praise.) Colleges have brought in hordes of counselors and deans to make sure that everything is smooth, serene, unflustered, that everyone has a good time. To the counselor, to the dean, and to the university legal squad, that which is normal, healthy, and prudent is best.

An air of caution and deference is everywhere. When my students come to talk with me in my office, they often exhibit a Franciscan humility. "Do you have a moment?" "I know you're busy. I won't take up much of your time." Their presences tend to be very light; they almost never change the temperature of the room. The dress is nondescript: clothes are in earth tones; shoes are practical -- cross-trainers, hiking boots, work shoes, Dr. Martens, with now and then a stylish pair of raised-sole boots on one of the young women. Many, male and female both, peep from beneath the bills of monogrammed baseball caps. Quite a few wear sports, or even corporate, logos, sometimes on one piece of clothing but occasionally (and disconcertingly) on more. The walk is slow; speech is careful, sweet, a bit weary, and without strong inflection. (After the first lively week of the term, most seem far in debt to sleep.) They are almost unfailingly polite. They don't want to offend me; I could hurt them, savage their grades.

Naturally, there are exceptions, kids I chat animatedly with, who offer a joke, or go on about this or that new CD (almost never a book, no). But most of the traffic is genially sleepwalking. I have to admit that I'm a touch wary, too. I tend to hold back. An unguarded remark, a joke that's taken to be off-color, or simply an uncomprehended comment can lead to difficulties. I keep it literal. They scare me a little, these kind and melancholy students, who themselves seem rather frightened of their own lives.

Before they arrive, we ply the students with luscious ads, guaranteeing them a cross between summer camp and lotusland. When they get here, flattery and nonstop entertainment are available, if that's what they want. And when they leave? How do we send our students out into the world? More and more, our administrators call the booking agents and line up one or another celebrity to usher the graduates into the millennium. This past spring, Kermit the Frog won himself an honorary degree at Southampton College on Long Island; Bruce Willis and Yogi Berra took credentials away at Montclair State; Arnold Schwarzenegger scored at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. At Wellesley, Oprah Winfrey gave the commencement address. (Wellesley -- one of the most rigorous academic colleges in the nation.) At the University of Vermont, Whoopi Goldberg laid down the word. But why should a worthy administrator contract the likes of Susan Sontag, Christopher Hitchens, or Robert Hughes -- someone who might actually say something, something disturbing, something offensive" -- when he can get what the parents and kids apparently want and what the newspapers will softly commend -- more lire entertainment, more TV?"

[…]

"My students' answers didn't exhibit any philosophical resistance to the idea of greatness. It's not that they had been primed by their professors with complex arguments to combat genius. For the truth is that these students don't need debunking theories. Long before college, skepticism became their habitual mode. They are the progeny of Bart Simpson and David Letterman, and the hyper-cool ethos of the box. It's inane to say that theorizing professors have created them, as many conservative critics like to do. Rather, they have substantially created a university environment in which facile skepticism can thrive without being substantially contested."

[…]

"Perhaps it would be a good idea to try firing the counselors and sending half the deans back into their classrooms, dismantling the football team and making the stadium into a playground for local kids, emptying the fraternities, and boarding up the student-activities office. Such measures would convey the message that American colleges are not northern outposts of Club Med. A willingness on the part of the faculty to defy student conviction and affront them occasionally -- to be usefully offensive -- also might not be a bad thing. We professors talk a lot about subversion, which generally means subverting the views of people who never hear us talk or read our work. But to subvert the views of our students, our customers, that would be something else again.

Ultimately, though, it is up to individuals -- and individual students in particular -- to make their own way against the current sludgy tide. There's still the library, still the museum, there's still the occasional teacher who lives to find things greater than herself to admire. There are still fellow students who have not been cowed. Universities are inefficient, cluttered, archaic places, with many unguarded comers where one can open a book or gaze out onto the larger world and construe it freely. Those who do as much, trusting themselves against the weight of current opinion, will have contributed something to bringing this sad dispensation to an end. As for myself, I'm canning my low-key one-liners; when the kids' TV-based tastes come to the fore, I'll aim and shoot. And when it's time to praise genius, I'll try to do it in the right style, full-out, with faith that finer artistic spirits (maybe not Homer and Isaiah quite, but close, close), still alive somewhere in the ether, will help me out when my invention flags, the students doze, or the dean mutters into the phone. I'm getting back to a more exuberant style; I'll be expostulating and … [more]
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january 2005 by robertogreco

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