robertogreco + friendship   88

[Essay] | Faustian Economics, by Wendell Berry | Harper's Magazine
"The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving, as before, at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.

This belief was always indefensible — the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed — and by now it is manifestly foolish. But foolishness on this scale looks disturbingly like a sort of national insanity. We seem to have come to a collective delusion of grandeur, insisting that all of us are “free” to be as conspicuously greedy and wasteful as the most corrupt of kings and queens. (Perhaps by devoting more and more of our already abused cropland to fuel production we will at last cure ourselves of obesity and become fashionably skeletal, hungry but — thank God! — still driving.)"



"The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.

Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.

That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.

This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.

In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections."



"And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason.

Some of us would-be humans have thought too that we should not be free at anybody else’s expense. And yet in the phrase “free market,” the word “free” has come to mean unlimited economic power for some, with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others. Several years ago, after I had spoken at a meeting, two earnest and obviously troubled young veterinarians approached me with a question: How could they practice veterinary medicine without serious economic damage to the farmers who were their clients? Underlying their question was the fact that for a long time veterinary help for a sheep or a pig has been likely to cost more than the animal is worth. I had to answer that, in my opinion, so long as their practice relied heavily on selling patented drugs, they had no choice, since the market for medicinal drugs was entirely controlled by the drug companies, whereas most farmers had no control at all over the market for agricultural products. My questioners were asking in effect if a predatory economy can have a beneficent result. The answer too often is No. And that is because there is an absolute discontinuity between the economy of the seller of medicines and the economy of the buyer, as there is in the health industry as a whole. The drug industry is interested in the survival of patients, we have to suppose, because surviving patients will continue to consume drugs.

Now let us consider a contrary example. Recently, at another meeting, I talked for some time with an elderly, and some would say an old-fashioned, farmer from Nebraska. Unable to farm any longer himself, he had rented his land to a younger farmer on the basis of what he called “crop share” instead of a price paid or owed in advance. Thus, as the old farmer said of his renter, “If he has a good year, I have a good year. If he has a bad year, I have a bad one.” This is what I would call community economics. It is a sharing of fate. It assures an economic continuity and a common interest between the two partners to the trade. This is as far as possible from the economy in which the young veterinarians were caught, in which the powerful are limitlessly “free” to trade, to the disadvantage, and ultimately the ruin, of the powerless.

It is this economy of community destruction that, wittingly or unwittingly, most scientists and technicians have served for the past two hundred years. These scientists and technicians have justified themselves by the proposition that they are the vanguard of progress, enlarging human knowledge and power, and thus they have romanticized both themselves and the predatory enterprises that they have served."



"If the idea of appropriate limitation seems unacceptable to us, that may be because, like Marlowe’s Faustus and Milton’s Satan, we confuse limits with confinement. But that, as I think Marlowe and Milton and others were trying to tell us, is a great and potentially a fatal mistake. Satan’s fault, as Milton understood it and perhaps with some sympathy, was precisely that he could not tolerate his proper limitation; he could not subordinate himself to anything whatever. Faustus’s error was his unwillingness to remain “Faustus, and a man.” In our age of the world it is not rare to find writers, critics, and teachers of literature, as well as scientists and technicians, who regard Satan’s and Faustus’s defiance as salutary and heroic.

On the contrary, our human and earthly limits, properly understood, are not confinements but rather inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning. Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure — in addition to its difficulties — that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.

To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover “the secret of the universe.” We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one life. If we each had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or … [more]
wendellberry  2008  economics  science  technology  art  limits  limitlessness  arts  ecosystems  limitations  local  humanism  humanity  humility  community  communities  knowledge  power  expansion  growth  interdependence  greed  neighborliness  stewardship  thrift  temperance  christianity  generosity  care  kindness  friendship  loyalty  love  self-restraint  restraint  watershed  land  caring  caretaking  morality  accountability  responsibility  respect  reverence  corruption  capitalism  technosolutionism  fossilfuels  waste 
16 days ago by robertogreco
“Minding the Gap,” Reviewed: A Self-Questioning Documentary About What Happened to a Group of Young Skaters | The New Yorker
[Carol Black: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052995478583836672

2-step lesson for teachers:

1. Watch this documentary about the kids who will NEVER adapt well to authoritarian environments like school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Vm_Awe3bw

2. Read how this skater kid learned to make brilliant films through self-directed learning, mentorships, discovery.

Through a slow process of experimentation, improvisation, exploration, director Bing Liu evolved from a skater kid with a video camera into a deep, accomplished filmmaker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
As a teen-ager, a decade ago, in the small city of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu filmed himself and his friends skateboarding. He shot much of his footage while skating alongside them, and, as a result, the skating sequences of his documentary “Minding the Gap” (which opens today in theatres and streams on Hulu) have a surging, gliding, soaring, joyously speedy energy that offers a hypnotic whirl and rush. Those images of skating, however, are merely the background and context for the film, and the diverting thrill that they offer is crucial to the film’s substance. That substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth.

Allowing his film to unfold over years of shooting and editing and re-editing, Liu uncovered the hidden depth and dimension in his subject matter.
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
“Minding the Gap” builds Liu’s investigations, and the personal and ethical considerations that they entail, into the film. What he discovers—and films—of his friends’ present-day lives disturbs him, and Liu grapples with his own conflicts even while filming himself grappling with them. The details of the film make for an exemplary work of reporting. Liu’s clear revelation of specific yet complex events brings out psychological causality and logical connections but doesn’t impose a narrative; rather, the drama crystallizes as the events unfold. It’s a documentary in which the very nature of investigation is established—intellectually, aesthetically, and morally—by way of the personal implication of the filmmaker in the subject, of the filmmaker’s own need to make the images, to talk with the participants, to get beyond the surfaces of the settings. “Minding the Gap” is a personal documentary of the highest sort, in which the film’s necessity to the filmmaker—and its obstacles, its resistances, its emotional and moral demands on him—are part of its very existence.

Learning technical skills from online forums and by emulating filmmakers who inspired him, Liu was then able to allow the personal, emotional story to emerge. https://filmmakermagazine.com/105737-i-had-a-moral-crisis-bing-liu-on-minding-the-gap-personal-doc-voiceovers-and-cycles-of-abuse/#.W8i8by-ZMWo
Filmmaker: I had seen part of a cut that you had about a year ago. What I remember is, there was a lot more voiceover and the structure was different. There was a scene in the first ten minutes where you’re going to meet your mom to do the interview about you being abused by your stepfather, and you’re being interviewed in the car on the way: “So how do you feel about this?” At a certain point, obviously a lot of those things changed. Documentary editing processes are inherently long and complicated, but I’d love it if you could talk about thinking through some of those changes.

Liu: I didn’t begin the film wanting to be in the film. My background is, I got a camera to make videos when I was 14. I watched movies that inspired me, like Waking Life, Kids and Gummo. Some of my first shorts when I was a teen were this sort of Slacker plot where I follow people around Rockford as they interact with each other. The structure is based off of hand-offs, to give you a slice of community and the people in it. Anyway, I learned cinematography and editing through going to forums. There’s this website called Skate Perception that was kind of the Reddit for skate media makers all over the country. This was in the 2000s, when the internet was still finding its identity in many ways. It no longer exists; forums aren’t really a thing, for the most part.

“I didn’t go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school, don’t go to school for film.” https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/minding-gap-bing-liu-interview
NFS: How did you develop your unconventional aesthetics over time, starting from such a young age?

Liu: It was a mix of just emulating other creators and films that I was watching and also just going online and learning. By the time I was 16, I had a camera that I could set exposure and color temperature and with ND filters on it. By the time I was 17, I had a 24p camera and I was building my own dollies, so it was sort of just like exploring and emulation of what was happening at the time, which was a mix of the internet connecting more people, and also the DIY-style filmmaking that was growing with the advent of DSLR shooting video. I never really saw a career in film as a viable thing. I thought making films was just what I did.
"The Glidecam was freeing because you can run down stairs when you get good enough at it, and even jump over things with the cameras."

NFS: How did you transition to realizing that you could actually do this professionally?

Liu: It was when I got a job as a PA when I was 19 and I was like, “Oh, I can get paid $50 a day to like fetch coffee and carry heavy camera cases around for 14 hours.” It was less about the $50 and more about the “Oh, you can do this.”

NFS: That's what we're always telling people who want to break into the business: just get on set.

Liu: Yeah, I didn't go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school. don't go to school for film, and so I went to school for literature.
]
bingliu  mindingthegap  film  filmmaking  documentary  srg  unschooling  deschooling  authority  authoritarianism  school  schooling  schools  learning  skating  skateboarding  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  canon  video  domesticviolence  2018  carolblack  teaching  howweteach  schooliness  online  internet  web  domestictrauma  economics  rustbelt  society  childabuse  children  teens  youth  streetculture  illinois  rockford  friendship  parenting  dropouts  aesthetics  filmschool  emulation  cinematography 
october 2018 by robertogreco
'Minding the Gap': How Bing Liu Turned 12 Years of Skate Footage into the Year's Most Heartfelt Doc
[Carol Black: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052995478583836672

2-step lesson for teachers:

1. Watch this documentary about the kids who will NEVER adapt well to authoritarian environments like school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Vm_Awe3bw

2. Read how this skater kid learned to make brilliant films through self-directed learning, mentorships, discovery.

Through a slow process of experimentation, improvisation, exploration, director Bing Liu evolved from a skater kid with a video camera into a deep, accomplished filmmaker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
As a teen-ager, a decade ago, in the small city of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu filmed himself and his friends skateboarding. He shot much of his footage while skating alongside them, and, as a result, the skating sequences of his documentary “Minding the Gap” (which opens today in theatres and streams on Hulu) have a surging, gliding, soaring, joyously speedy energy that offers a hypnotic whirl and rush. Those images of skating, however, are merely the background and context for the film, and the diverting thrill that they offer is crucial to the film’s substance. That substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth.

Allowing his film to unfold over years of shooting and editing and re-editing, Liu uncovered the hidden depth and dimension in his subject matter.
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
“Minding the Gap” builds Liu’s investigations, and the personal and ethical considerations that they entail, into the film. What he discovers—and films—of his friends’ present-day lives disturbs him, and Liu grapples with his own conflicts even while filming himself grappling with them. The details of the film make for an exemplary work of reporting. Liu’s clear revelation of specific yet complex events brings out psychological causality and logical connections but doesn’t impose a narrative; rather, the drama crystallizes as the events unfold. It’s a documentary in which the very nature of investigation is established—intellectually, aesthetically, and morally—by way of the personal implication of the filmmaker in the subject, of the filmmaker’s own need to make the images, to talk with the participants, to get beyond the surfaces of the settings. “Minding the Gap” is a personal documentary of the highest sort, in which the film’s necessity to the filmmaker—and its obstacles, its resistances, its emotional and moral demands on him—are part of its very existence.

Learning technical skills from online forums and by emulating filmmakers who inspired him, Liu was then able to allow the personal, emotional story to emerge. https://filmmakermagazine.com/105737-i-had-a-moral-crisis-bing-liu-on-minding-the-gap-personal-doc-voiceovers-and-cycles-of-abuse/#.W8i8by-ZMWo
Filmmaker: I had seen part of a cut that you had about a year ago. What I remember is, there was a lot more voiceover and the structure was different. There was a scene in the first ten minutes where you’re going to meet your mom to do the interview about you being abused by your stepfather, and you’re being interviewed in the car on the way: “So how do you feel about this?” At a certain point, obviously a lot of those things changed. Documentary editing processes are inherently long and complicated, but I’d love it if you could talk about thinking through some of those changes.

Liu: I didn’t begin the film wanting to be in the film. My background is, I got a camera to make videos when I was 14. I watched movies that inspired me, like Waking Life, Kids and Gummo. Some of my first shorts when I was a teen were this sort of Slacker plot where I follow people around Rockford as they interact with each other. The structure is based off of hand-offs, to give you a slice of community and the people in it. Anyway, I learned cinematography and editing through going to forums. There’s this website called Skate Perception that was kind of the Reddit for skate media makers all over the country. This was in the 2000s, when the internet was still finding its identity in many ways. It no longer exists; forums aren’t really a thing, for the most part.

“I didn’t go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school, don’t go to school for film.” https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/minding-gap-bing-liu-interview
NFS: How did you develop your unconventional aesthetics over time, starting from such a young age?

Liu: It was a mix of just emulating other creators and films that I was watching and also just going online and learning. By the time I was 16, I had a camera that I could set exposure and color temperature and with ND filters on it. By the time I was 17, I had a 24p camera and I was building my own dollies, so it was sort of just like exploring and emulation of what was happening at the time, which was a mix of the internet connecting more people, and also the DIY-style filmmaking that was growing with the advent of DSLR shooting video. I never really saw a career in film as a viable thing. I thought making films was just what I did.
"The Glidecam was freeing because you can run down stairs when you get good enough at it, and even jump over things with the cameras."

NFS: How did you transition to realizing that you could actually do this professionally?

Liu: It was when I got a job as a PA when I was 19 and I was like, “Oh, I can get paid $50 a day to like fetch coffee and carry heavy camera cases around for 14 hours.” It was less about the $50 and more about the “Oh, you can do this.”

NFS: That's what we're always telling people who want to break into the business: just get on set.

Liu: Yeah, I didn't go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school. don't go to school for film, and so I went to school for literature.
]
bingliu  mindingthegap  film  filmmaking  documentary  srg  unschooling  deschooling  authority  authoritarianism  school  schooling  schools  learning  skating  skateboarding  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  canon  video  domesticviolence  2018  carolblack  teaching  howweteach  schooliness  online  internet  webapps  domestictrauma  economics  rustbelt  society  childabuse  children  teens  youth  streetculture  illinois  rockford  friendship  parenting  dropouts  aesthetics  filmschool  emulation  cinematography 
october 2018 by robertogreco
“I Had a Moral Crisis”: Bing Liu on Minding the Gap, Personal Doc Voiceovers and Cycles of Abuse | Filmmaker Magazine
[Carol Black: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052995478583836672

2-step lesson for teachers:

1. Watch this documentary about the kids who will NEVER adapt well to authoritarian environments like school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Vm_Awe3bw

2. Read how this skater kid learned to make brilliant films through self-directed learning, mentorships, discovery.

Through a slow process of experimentation, improvisation, exploration, director Bing Liu evolved from a skater kid with a video camera into a deep, accomplished filmmaker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
As a teen-ager, a decade ago, in the small city of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu filmed himself and his friends skateboarding. He shot much of his footage while skating alongside them, and, as a result, the skating sequences of his documentary “Minding the Gap” (which opens today in theatres and streams on Hulu) have a surging, gliding, soaring, joyously speedy energy that offers a hypnotic whirl and rush. Those images of skating, however, are merely the background and context for the film, and the diverting thrill that they offer is crucial to the film’s substance. That substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth.

Allowing his film to unfold over years of shooting and editing and re-editing, Liu uncovered the hidden depth and dimension in his subject matter.
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
“Minding the Gap” builds Liu’s investigations, and the personal and ethical considerations that they entail, into the film. What he discovers—and films—of his friends’ present-day lives disturbs him, and Liu grapples with his own conflicts even while filming himself grappling with them. The details of the film make for an exemplary work of reporting. Liu’s clear revelation of specific yet complex events brings out psychological causality and logical connections but doesn’t impose a narrative; rather, the drama crystallizes as the events unfold. It’s a documentary in which the very nature of investigation is established—intellectually, aesthetically, and morally—by way of the personal implication of the filmmaker in the subject, of the filmmaker’s own need to make the images, to talk with the participants, to get beyond the surfaces of the settings. “Minding the Gap” is a personal documentary of the highest sort, in which the film’s necessity to the filmmaker—and its obstacles, its resistances, its emotional and moral demands on him—are part of its very existence.

Learning technical skills from online forums and by emulating filmmakers who inspired him, Liu was then able to allow the personal, emotional story to emerge. https://filmmakermagazine.com/105737-i-had-a-moral-crisis-bing-liu-on-minding-the-gap-personal-doc-voiceovers-and-cycles-of-abuse/#.W8i8by-ZMWo
Filmmaker: I had seen part of a cut that you had about a year ago. What I remember is, there was a lot more voiceover and the structure was different. There was a scene in the first ten minutes where you’re going to meet your mom to do the interview about you being abused by your stepfather, and you’re being interviewed in the car on the way: “So how do you feel about this?” At a certain point, obviously a lot of those things changed. Documentary editing processes are inherently long and complicated, but I’d love it if you could talk about thinking through some of those changes.

Liu: I didn’t begin the film wanting to be in the film. My background is, I got a camera to make videos when I was 14. I watched movies that inspired me, like Waking Life, Kids and Gummo. Some of my first shorts when I was a teen were this sort of Slacker plot where I follow people around Rockford as they interact with each other. The structure is based off of hand-offs, to give you a slice of community and the people in it. Anyway, I learned cinematography and editing through going to forums. There’s this website called Skate Perception that was kind of the Reddit for skate media makers all over the country. This was in the 2000s, when the internet was still finding its identity in many ways. It no longer exists; forums aren’t really a thing, for the most part.

“I didn’t go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school, don’t go to school for film.” https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/minding-gap-bing-liu-interview
NFS: How did you develop your unconventional aesthetics over time, starting from such a young age?

Liu: It was a mix of just emulating other creators and films that I was watching and also just going online and learning. By the time I was 16, I had a camera that I could set exposure and color temperature and with ND filters on it. By the time I was 17, I had a 24p camera and I was building my own dollies, so it was sort of just like exploring and emulation of what was happening at the time, which was a mix of the internet connecting more people, and also the DIY-style filmmaking that was growing with the advent of DSLR shooting video. I never really saw a career in film as a viable thing. I thought making films was just what I did.
"The Glidecam was freeing because you can run down stairs when you get good enough at it, and even jump over things with the cameras."

NFS: How did you transition to realizing that you could actually do this professionally?

Liu: It was when I got a job as a PA when I was 19 and I was like, “Oh, I can get paid $50 a day to like fetch coffee and carry heavy camera cases around for 14 hours.” It was less about the $50 and more about the “Oh, you can do this.”

NFS: That's what we're always telling people who want to break into the business: just get on set.

Liu: Yeah, I didn't go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school. don't go to school for film, and so I went to school for literature.
]
bingliu  mindingthegap  film  filmmaking  documentary  srg  unschooling  deschooling  authority  authoritarianism  school  schooling  schools  learning  skating  skateboarding  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  canon  video  domesticviolence  2018  carolblack  teaching  howweteach  schooliness  online  internet  web  domestictrauma  economics  rustbelt  society  childabuse  children  teens  youth  streetculture  illinois  rockford  friendship  parenting  dropouts  aesthetics  filmschool  emulation  cinematography 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Why the return of Animal Crossing feels so good - Polygon
"THE POWER OF NICE

A seemingly-unrelated selection of shows and movies in the past few years have each gained their fair share of critical acclaim, popularity and financial success, all linked by one common trait: They’re unrelentingly nice.

The Paddington movies have both found massive critical and box office success, all while essentially being feature-length commercials about the virtues of being polite and kind. Paddington 2 is currently the highest-rated Rotten Tomatoes movie of all time, usurping Toy Story 2’s record of the most consecutive certified Fresh ratings from reviewers. The total number of tracked positive reviews for Paddington 2 is 205, compared to zero negative reviews, for those counting at home.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a heartfelt and straightforward documentary about the life and work of Mister Rogers, is now the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all time.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhwktRDG_aQ ]

But this trend (can I call it “nicecore?”) isn’t just limited to theatres.

On the small screen, NBC’s Making It, which may be the first craft-based reality competition show I’ve ever seen, pulled in millions of viewers over its six-week summer run and was just greenlit for a second season. And on Netflix, there is the runaway success story of the Queer Eye reboot, which, on top of effortlessly conveying a message of positivity, kindness and betterment through self-care, also won three Emmys this year. It was nominated for four.

The trend of Nice Media seems to be the sun-filled, hopeful answer to the negativity and division offered nearly everywhere else. No single video game series encapsulates that sense of safe, intentional and welcoming niceness like Animal Crossing, and it has been doing it for almost 20 years.

BELLS AND WHISTLES

There is no game quite like Animal Crossing, which makes it hard to properly explain and even harder to recommend. Most people won’t share your enthusiasm when you sit them down and tell them that the minute-to-minute gameplay mostly involves harvesting fruit, paying off personal debt to an enterprising raccoon, and delaying your Saturday night plans to make sure you can watch a dog play guitar.

But at its core, Animal Crossing is about living in a small town composed entirely of anthropomorphic animals. Sometimes you’re a villager, and sometimes you’re the mayor. What you do from there is up to you.

It shares the general God’s-eye-view life simulator vibe of The Sims, but it’s way less interested in letting you micromanage a neighborhood of people. Instead, it gives you direct (but decidedly less omnipotent) control over a single villager’s life.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ6eGtsgbfM ]

While it can be just as surprisingly addictive and compelling as farming games like Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley, the looming threat of bankruptcy is the driving force of those games, compelling every player in the same direction of a more profitable farm. Meanwhile, Animal Crossing is happy to let your debt remain unpaid forever, and your villager has no discernible job or occupation. At least until New Leaf shoved you into the world of municipal governance.

The only real goal in these games is to pass the time in the best way you see fit; the endgame is to be happy. Along the way, like most fans of the series, you’ll likely find yourself having your own moments of emotional connection with the game. Everyone ends up with their own personal Animal Crossing moments, and those personal stories are a huge reason why people love the games as much as they do.

Feel free to share your own stories in the comments. I’m going to start with some of my own.

SMALL TOWN STORIES

My time with Animal Crossing goes all the way back to the GameCube original, a game that announced its humble intention to take over my life right on the front cover. The game’s save files were so large that they required an entire 59-block memory card’s worth of space, so that initial release came bundled with its own memory card as a gesture of practical kindness.

That memory card would soon hold a world that I relied on in a very direct way.

I went through a months-long depressive episode near the tail end of my sophomore year of high school, thanks to a mixture of hormones and early-era cyberbullying. I did all my schoolwork remotely, and spent my days either visiting a child psychologist or playing the GameCube. I would send letters to my villagers (specifically Rasher, Pierce and Goldie) about how sad, lonely and suicidal I was feeling.

They would send me carpets and shirts in return; that’s just what Animal Crossing villagers do. And it helped, especially since they would remember if I didn’t visit them for a few days. The game would tell me, specifically, how many days it had been since I had last interacted with it. It kept me accountable, made me feel needed and got me through a difficult (but all-too-common) part of my teenage years.

While reminders to come back to games are now common in the age of mobile gaming, Animal Crossing never felt like a nag. It was a relationship that gave as much as it asked me to give, and it held me accountable when even playing a game felt like it would be too much.

This trend would continue throughout my life, with major emotional moments supported and enhanced by my time in a virtual village. Animal Crossing: Wild World was there when I was dealing with constant insomnia-inducing stress nightmares during my time in university, with soothing music and absolutely no judgment about my sleep patterns.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ITM1vFiV6U ]

My New Leaf town was a monument to the people I loved at the time: fruit trees from a visiting friend, rare Nintendo-specific items from my brother, and clothing and letters from my partner at the time. The town was also essentially abandoned during our breakup, left for Isabelle (the player’s Deputy Mayor and the newest addition to the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster) to run during my years-long absence.

I logged back in when the game updated two years ago. And although Isabelle remembered the exact number of days I had been gone, the damage wasn’t beyond repair. My house was filled with roaches, but they could be cleared out within a few minutes. The once-pristine fields of Fürville had become overgrown with weeds, but a helpful sloth would cheer you on as you removed them or, for a small fee, get rid of them all for you overnight. Friends would move away, but they’d always send a goodbye letter, and new villagers would be eager to greet you and start virtual relationships.

There is no way to win in Animal Crossing, but that also means there’s no way to lose. Life in your village goes on without you, but it always welcomes you back.

A PLACE TO CALL YOUR OWN

The most valuable currency in Animal Crossing is time. An hour in the game is the same as an hour outside of it, so the game marches to the beat of your own life. At the same time, there is no real way to grind out progress in these titles, because they’re about patience; in fact, they seem to actively punish players who try to rush.

You cannot make a tree grow faster, but you’re liable to destroy your flower gardens or wear grass down into dirt paths by running through your town instead of walking.

You can have all the bells in the world, but you’re limited by the rotating daily stock at each of of the shops. You can catch bugs, go fishing and dig for fossils for hours each day, but you’ll still have to live through four real-world seasons to see them all. The game has its own pace, and you have to give into it if you want to get everything it has to offer. Few games are as capable of slowing us down, a trait that is sorely needed when everything else seems to be speeding up.

All of this — the emphasis on patience, the freeform approach to player agency, the overwhelming sense of forgiveness and kindness that stretches from the game’s systems to its text — combines to make a game that is, above all else, nice. And this commitment to niceness makes it an oasis of positivity in an increasingly reactionary and fragmented media landscape.

[embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEJXS0MiKOA ]

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? transports you to a reality of kind actions and good deeds — for 93 minutes. The entire run of Queer Eye currently consists of 16 episodes and one special; you could charitably watch the whole thing in a weekend (if not an afternoon). Making It is only six episodes long, and won’t return for another year. This gathering wave of nicecore media is truly a gift, but it’s finite and fleeting — a few welcome drops of clear, cool water in an overwhelmingly murky bucket.

But the most powerful thing Animal Crossing offers us is an experience that doesn’t end after an hour or a season, but stays with us for as long as we need it. Because what we remember about these games are how they made us feel, and the stories they left us with long after we left our villages behind. They made us part of a community, and that community felt welcoming and generous.

Most games are power fantasies, and the easiest kind of power to convey is violence. They’re all about enforcing your will on the world through straightforward, goal-oriented action. And that’s enjoyable, without a doubt. But Animal Crossing offers a different sort of power fantasy: a world where you have unlimited kindness to spare, and you’re never punished for it. That doesn’t happen in real life; even Mr. Rogers’ funeral was picketed.

If nicecore is the natural artistic reaction to the state of the world, then it’s all too fitting that Animal Crossing should return and claim its throne (or, more likely, its comfortably weathered armchair) as the nicest franchise in gaming history.

It has been sorely missed."
2018  animalcrossing  nintendo  games  gaming  videogames  nicecore  niceness  fredrogers  mrrogers  mikescholars  paddington  paddingtonbear  small  slow  time  care  caring  power  violence  patience  agency  kindness  forgiveness  pace  play  presence  friendship 
september 2018 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | Abolish High School, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"I didn’t go to high school. This I think of as one of my proudest accomplishments and one of my greatest escapes, because everyone who grows up in the United States goes to high school. It’s such an inevitable experience that people often mishear me and think I dropped out.

I was a withdrawn, bookish kid all through elementary school, but the difficulty of being a misfit intensified when I started seventh grade. As I left campus at the end of my first day, people shouted insults that ensured I knew my clothes didn’t cut it. Then there was P.E., where I had to don a horrendous turquoise-striped polyester garment that looked like a baby’s onesie and follow orders to run or jump or play ball — which is hard to do when you’re deeply withdrawn — after which I had to get naked, in all my late-bloomer puniness, and take showers in front of strangers. In science class we were graded on crafting notebooks with many colors of pen; in home economics, which was only for girls — boys had shop — we learned to make a new kind of cake by combining pudding mix with cake mix; even in English class I can remember reading only one book: Dickens’s flattest novel, Hard Times. At least the old history teacher in the plaid mohair sweaters let me doze in the front row, so long as I knew the answers when asked.

In junior high, everything became a little more dangerous. Most of my peers seemed to be learning the elaborate dance between the sexes, sometimes literally, at school dances I never dreamed of attending, or in the form of the routines through which girls with pompoms ritually celebrated boys whose own role in that rite consisted of slamming into one another on the field.

I skipped my last year of traditional junior high school, detouring for ninth and tenth grade into a newly created alternative junior high. (The existing alternative high school only took eleventh and twelfth graders.) The district used this new school as a dumping ground for its most insubordinate kids, so I shared two adjoining classrooms with hard-partying teenage girls who dated adult drug dealers, boys who reeked of pot smoke, and other misfits like me. The wild kids impressed me because, unlike the timorous high achievers I’d often been grouped with at the mainstream school, they seemed fearless and free, skeptical about the systems around them.

There were only a few dozen students, and the adults treated us like colleagues. There was friendship and mild scorn but little cruelty, nothing that pitted us against one another or humiliated us, no violence, no clearly inculcated hierarchy. I didn’t gain much conventional knowledge, but I read voraciously and had good conversations. You can learn a lot that way. Besides, I hadn’t been gaining much in regular school either.

I was ravenous to learn. I’d waited for years for a proper chance at it, and the high school in my town didn’t seem like a place where I was going to get it. I passed the G.E.D. test at fifteen, started community college the following fall, and transferred after two semesters to a four-year college, where I began, at last, to get an education commensurate with my appetite.

What was it, I sometimes wonder, that I was supposed to have learned in the years of high school that I avoided? High school is often considered a definitive American experience, in two senses: an experience that nearly everyone shares, and one that can define who you are, for better or worse, for the rest of your life. I’m grateful I escaped the particular definition that high school would have imposed on me, and I wish everyone else who suffered could have escaped it, too.

For a long time I’ve thought that high school should be abolished. I don’t mean that people in their teens should not be educated at public expense. The question is what they are educated in. An abolitionist proposal should begin by acknowledging all the excellent schools and teachers and educations out there; the people who have a pleasant, useful time in high school; and the changes being wrought in the nature of secondary education today. It should also recognize the tremendous variety of schools, including charter and magnet schools in the public system and the private schools — religious, single-sex, military, and prep — that about 10 percent of American students attend, in which the values and pedagogical systems may be radically different. But despite the caveats and anomalies, the good schools and the students who thrive (or at least survive), high school is hell for too many Americans. If this is so, I wonder why people should be automatically consigned to it.

In 2010, Dan Savage began the It Gets Better Project, which has gathered and posted video testimonials from gay and lesbian adults and queer-positive supporters (tens of thousands of them, eventually, including professional sports stars and the president) to address the rash of suicides by young queer people. The testimonials reassure teenagers that there is life after high school, that before long they’ll be able to be who they are without persecution — able to find love, able to live with dignity, and able to get through each day without facing intense harassment. It’s a worthy project, but it implicitly accepts that non-straight kids must spend their formative years passing through a homophobic gauntlet before arriving at a less hostile adult world. Why should they have to wait?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, responsible for some 4,600 deaths per year. Federal studies report that for every suicide there are at least a hundred attempts — nearly half a million a year. Eight percent of high school students have attempted to kill themselves, and 16 percent have considered trying. That’s a lot of people crying out for something to change.

We tend to think that adolescence is inherently ridden with angst, but much of the misery comes from the cruelty of one’s peers. Twenty-eight percent of public school students and 21 percent of private school students report being bullied, and though inner-city kids are routinely portrayed in the press as menaces, the highest levels of bullying are reported among white kids and in nonurban areas. Victims of bullying are, according to a Yale study, somewhere between two and nine times more likely to attempt suicide. Why should children be confined to institutions in which these experiences are so common?

Antibullying programs have proliferated to such an extent that even the Southern Poverty Law Center has gotten involved, as though high school had joined its list of hate groups. An educational video produced by the S.P.L.C. focuses on the case of Jamie Nabozny, who successfully sued the administrators of his small-town Wisconsin school district for doing nothing to stop — and sometimes even blaming him for — the years of persecution he had suffered, including an attack that ruptured his spleen. As Catherine A. Lugg, an education scholar specializing in public school issues, later wrote, “The Nabozny case clearly illustrates the public school’s historic power as the enforcer of expected norms regarding gender, heteronormativity, and homophobia.”

I once heard Helena Norberg-Hodge, an economic analyst and linguist who studies the impact of globalization on nonindustrialized societies, say that generational segregation was one of the worst kinds of segregation in the United States. The remark made a lasting impression: that segregation was what I escaped all those years ago. My first friends were much older than I was, and then a little older; these days they are all ages. We think it’s natural to sort children into single-year age cohorts and then process them like Fords on an assembly line, but that may be a reflection of the industrialization that long ago sent parents to work away from their children for several hours every day.

Since the 1970s, Norberg-Hodge has been visiting the northern Indian region of Ladakh. When she first arrived such age segregation was unknown there. “Now children are split into different age groups at school,” Norberg-Hodge has written. “This sort of leveling has a very destructive effect. By artificially creating social units in which everyone is the same age, the ability of children to help and to learn from each other is greatly reduced.” Such units automatically create the conditions for competition, pressuring children to be as good as their peers. “In a group of ten children of quite different ages,” Norberg-Hodge argues, “there will naturally be much more cooperation than in a group of ten twelve-year-olds.”

When you are a teenager, your peers judge you by exacting and narrow criteria. But those going through the same life experiences at the same time often have little to teach one another about life. Most of us are safer in our youth in mixed-age groups, and the more time we spend outside our age cohort, the broader our sense of self. It’s not just that adults and children are good for adolescents. The reverse is also true. The freshness, inquisitiveness, and fierce idealism of a wide-awake teenager can be exhilarating, just as the stony apathy of a shut-down teenager can be dismal.

A teenager can act very differently outside his or her peer group than inside it. A large majority of hate crimes and gang rapes are committed by groups of boys and young men, and studies suggest that the perpetrators are more concerned with impressing one another and conforming to their group’s codes than with actual hatred toward outsiders. Attempts to address this issue usually focus on changing the social values to which such groups adhere, but dispersing or diluting these groups seems worth consideration, too.

High school in America is too often a place where one learns to conform or take punishment — and conformity is itself a kind of punishment, one that can flatten out your soul or estrange you from it.

High school, particularly the suburban and small-town varieties, can … [more]
rebeccasolnit  2015  highschool  education  schools  schooling  adolescence  unschooling  deschooling  oppression  teens  youth  hierarchy  agesegregation  internships  apprenticeships  mentoring  mentors  popularity  jockocracies  sports  rapeculture  us  society  peers  hatecrime  conformity  values  helenanorberg-hodge  lcproject  openstudioproject  cooperation  competition  segregation  bullying  bullies  splc  persecution  gender  sexuality  heteronormativity  homophobia  angst  cruelty  suicide  dances  prom  misfits  friendship  learning  howwelearn  srg  glvo  edg 
june 2018 by robertogreco
On learned and leisurely hospitality by Ivan Illich (Gurteen Knowledge)
"Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship."

[from: "The Cultivation of Conspiracy" (1998)
http://www.davidtinapple.com/illich/1998_Illich-Conspiracy.PDF ]
hospitality  friendship  via:dougaldhine  ivanillich  conviviality  howweteach  howwelearn  deschooling  unschooling  service  learning  being  presence  1998 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — Even though we are now free from the machines that...
"Even though we are now free from the machines that enslaved and exploited people during the industrial age, digital apparatuses are installing new constraints, new slavery. Because of their mobility, they make possible exploitation that proves even more efficient, by transforming every space into a workplace - and all time into working hours.

The freedom of movement is switching over into a fatal compulsion to work everywhere. During the machine age, working time could be held in check and separated from periods of not-working, if only because the machines could not move, or be moved. One had to go to work on one’s own: this space was distinct from where work did not occur.

Today, however, this distinction no longer holds in many professions. Digital devices have mobilized work itself. The workplace is turning into a portable labor camp, from which there is no escape.

The smartphone promises more freedom, but it radiates a fatal compulsion - the compulsion to communicate. Now an almost obsessive, compulsive relationship to digital devices prevails. Here, too, “freedom” is switching over into compulsion and constraint. Social networks magnify such compulsion to communicate, on a massive scale. More communication means more capital. In turn, the accelerated circulation of communication and information leads to the accelerated circulation of Capital.

The word “digital” points to the finger (digitus). Above all, the finger counts. Digital culture is based on the counting finger. In contrast, history means recounting. It is not a matter of counting, which represents a post-historical category. Neither information nor tweets yield a whole, an account. A timeline does not recount the story of a life, either; it provides no biography. Timelines are additive, not narrative.

Digital man “fingers” the world, in that he is always counting and calculating. The digital absolutizes numbers and counting. More than anything, friends on Facebook are counted, yet real friendship is an account, a narrative. The digital age is totalizing addition, counting, and the countable. Even affection and attachments get counted - as “likes.” The narrative dimension is losing meaning on a massive scale. Today, everything is rendered countable so that it can be transformed into the language of performance, and efficiency.

As such, whatever resists being counted ceases to “be.”"

—Byung-Chul Han, In The Swarm: Digital Prospects
digital  quantitative  quantification  byung-chulhan  machines  industrialization  narrative  relationships  scale  being  presence  numbers  counting  measurement  friendship  facebook  metrics  affection  attachments  likes  meaning  capitalism  information  exploitation  mobility  work  labor  freedom  movement  compulsion  communication  constraint  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  timelines 
january 2018 by robertogreco
When We Mourn Paul Walker, We’re Really Mourning The Death Of Male Friendships | Decider | Where To Stream Movies & Shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, HBO Go
"But Vin Diesel’s modeling of grief is perhaps the most interesting. For most of 2015, Diesel has been eulogizing Walker in every interview, at every promotional stop, and in every other Facebook and Instagram post, referring to Walker as his brother, using the term of endearment Pablo, talking candidly about how sad he was after Walker’s death, and posting pictures and videos of the two of them together. In March he announced that he had named his newborn daughter Pauline after his late friend.

All of this emotion can be explained by what I think we’re really mourning when we mourn Paul Walker: the end of a resonant example of a particular kind of male friendship absent from most of our own lives. That is, when we mourn Paul Walker, we are also mourning the end of Brian and Dom.

Male friendship in America, at present, is in a bad way. As sociologist Lisa Wade reports, “Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships.” However, these same men crave deeper, more intimate friendships. As Wade explains, “Men desire the same level and type of intimacy in their friendships as women, but they aren’t getting it.” How come? Misogyny, homophobia, and men’s long-standing anxieties about being “real men,” basically. Wade writes:
To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest. “Real men,” though, are not supposed to do these things. They are supposed to be self-interested, competitive, non-emotional, strong (with no insecurities at all), and able to deal with their emotional problems without help. Being a good friend, then, as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly.

“When men do have especially close relationships,” notes Alana Massey, “we teasingly call them ‘bromances,’ as if there must be something amorous between two men who choose to spend time together one-on-one.”

In effect, what both Wade and Massey are saying is that somehow straight men in America have internalized the idea that intimate male friendships are gay.

In a weird way, queer theory also encourages this. It would be easy to read, for instance, the onscreen relationship between Brian and Dom as queer in some way, i.e., that the Fast and Furious movies are secretly a romantic love story between Paul Walker’s Brian and Vin Diesel’s Dom. Let me be clear: this is a legitimate – even fun! – reading. The deepest and most-sustained love relationship in the series is between Brian and Dom. Though they each have female partners – Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), respectively – their primary emotional sustenance over the course of the franchise comes from each other. Slash fiction exploring this idea in greater depth isn’t hard to find online.

Significantly, the franchise doesn’t explicitly deny this sort of queer reading. There’s none of the anxious disavowal of homosexuality you find in movies such as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and I Love You, Man. Nor does Vin Diesel display any of the fear of emotion Wade talks about.

But I don’t think the reflexive queer reading – progressive though it may be – helps explain why Furious 7 can bring a theater full of young straight men to tears. No, I think there’s something else going on here. As Rachel Vorona Cote writes, “Friendship is not a pale imitation of sexual romance. It is a romance unto itself.”

In his book Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill argues that friendship today is “a form of love that’s in danger of being downgraded or dismissed in our imaginations.” One of the reasons for this, he contends, is our tendency to think “that the desire for sex is the secret truth of every relationship, so that any mutual liking or interest must be something more than chaste affection.” From this point of view, the intimate friendship between Brian and Dom in the Fast and Furious movies must really be a cover for a sexual relationship. But what might happen, Hill asks, if we take a friendship like Brian and Dom’s at face value? How might that challenge our views of what a friendship can be?

Hill argues “friendship can and should be understood along the lines of a vowed or committed relationship, much like a marriage or a kinship bond.” Hill asks us to imagine “friendship as more stable, permanent, and binding,” “friends more like the siblings we’re stuck with, like it or not, than like our acquaintances,” and “at least some of our friends as, in large measure, tantamount to family.”

You might think the writings of a gay celibate Christian writer like Hill and a multi-billion dollar street racing franchise would have different takes on friendships, but you’d be wrong. As a matter of fact, lines such as Dom’s “I don’t have friends, I’ve got family” and (to Brian/Paul at the end of the film) “You’ll always be my brother” wouldn’t look out of place in Hill’s book. Brian and Dom’s friendship in the movies and Paul and Vin’s friendship in real life are best understood, I would argue, as different versions of the same “spiritual friendship.” Theirs is a union that manages to be resolutely heterosexual but not homophobic, sincere but not self-serious, strong but sensitive.

In a world where straight men are often still worried about being perceived as feminine or gay and thus fail to form close bonds with other men, Brian and Dom’s bond is an important symbolic outlet for normalizing “spiritual friendship” between men. The Fast and Furious franchise offers a post-bromance model of male friendship and suggests a new call to seriousness about friendship’s role and importance. Thus, in mourning Paul Walker, we mourn not only the end of Brian and Dom’s relationship, but also the end of Paul and Vin’s, as well as the dearth of such relationships outside of the Fast and Furious franchise. We mourn our own inadequacy. That’s why it hurts so much. But that mourning is also a celebration, a celebration that something such as Paul Walker’s Teen Choice Award, while seemingly trivial, is one small part of."

[back in circulation because: "Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again is now the most-viewed YouTube video of all time"
https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/11/15952010/wiz-khalifa-most-watched-youtube-video-fast-furious

via: https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/884994991570944000 ]

[Related: "It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/upshot/members-of-the-opposite-sex-at-work-gender-study.html

"This came in my circles so I'd like to make a thread about it: One conversation we rarely have is about the lack of male female friendships."
https://twitter.com/Gaohmee/status/884555261867720704

thread continues:
"There were some news articles floating around at the beginning of the year about Pence and his rule that he doesn't meet women alone, ever.

Since then, studies have emerged about this problem being an epidemic, presumably not only in the US, especially in workplaces.

The gist of it is that people believe being alone with a woman other than your partner is inappropriate by default. Just think about this.

There is an absolutely insane believe that male female friendships are not real, are inappropriate, are dangerous and problematic.

Think about what impact that has on women's rights, our work, the respect for us. This means, men in power specifically don't know us.

It means that when we talk to men, their underlying concern is that it could be seen as inappropriate - or even feels inappropriate to them.

This obstructs equality more than we may realise. It means there is a barrier of understanding women's ideas and thoughts to begin with.

It ramps up all biases that people pile up and that obstruct change and progress. It means it influences the way people hire.

And no wonder if you think about it: The representation in media, on TV, anywhere of male female friendships is basically non-existent.

All stories we see about male female interaction are romances, jealousy dramas, even work relationships are depicted as romantic.

We. Fail. To. Tell. Stories. Of. Male. Female. Friendships.

We hugely fail telling them, because we believe they don't exist or are boring

There is a whole other layer to this where male female friendships are only possible when one of the parties is "ugly"/nerdy.

The gist of it is: We need to foster healthy, meaningful friendships and colleague relationships to fix gender inequality.

As creators, we can be part of this by telling those stories. Re-define how men and women relate to each other, represent real friendships."]
mattthomas  men  friendship  sexuality  gender  2015  jenniferscheurle    2017wesleyhill  brotherhood  society  bromances  alanamassey  heterosexuality  emotion  emotions  friendships  masculinity  misogyny  homophobia  intimacy  fastandfurious  georgecarlin  vindiesel  paulwalker  wizkhalifa 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."



"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me"
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/ ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
How Telling Someone to Go Educate Themselves Can Actually Be Oppressive
"(Note: This comic has been transcribed below.)

You should never have to push yourself beyond your boundaries to educate someone about your experiences with oppression. And some people, like trolls, just have no genuine interest in an education.

But if you’re wondering why everyone doesn’t just go educate themselves on the Internet, you might be missing something about some other forms of oppression.

The truth is that there are real, valid barriers to accessing social justice education. So check out this comic to help you find a balance between setting your boundaries and having patience with folks who are still learning."
self-education  oppression  feminism  race  racism  sexuality  socialjustice  education  compassion  empathy  patience  love  friendship  leelai  2017  comics 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food movement...now, there's a "slow professor" movement.

Two university professors say they feel time-crunched, exhausted and demoralised. They say they are being asked to be more efficient at the expense of more thoughtful teaching.
"Really, we're being encouraged to stay away from the really big questions because they're going to take too long to think through. You want to pump out as much stuff as quickly as you can. That's going to have a consequence for how thoughtful things are." — Barbara K. Seeber

Maggie Berg, a professor of English at Queen's University, and Barbara K. Seeber, a professor of English at Brock University, are co-authors of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy.

Berg and Seeger argue universities squeeze as much intellectual capital out of professors as possible, and closely monitor the output of their mental exertions.

They spoke to Michael about their book and their mission to "reclaim the intellectual life of the university.""

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education"
https://qz.com/947480/we-need-a-slow-food-movement-for-higher-education/ ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger 1926-2017: an appreciation | Books | The Guardian
"I first rang John Berger more than a year ago – I had been given his number by his publisher to arrange a date to meet him in Paris. I mentioned that November was a busy month, to which he responded in a warm, conspiratorial tone: that was good – because he would be away throughout the month and could not say when next he would be free. The sense was – charming, if not helpful in professional terms – that we would agree not to meet unless or until it suited us. The clear subtext was: let the bosses go hang. I put the phone down – amused but then anxious that I had missed my opportunity to meet the great man – storyteller, art critic, artist. Months passed and then Berger’s 90th birthday was on the horizon – a new excuse to meet. I still had his mobile number and, this time, we made our date without fuss.

The trouble was – and typical that this should happen en route to meeting a man I admired so much – his address. There is more than one Avenue du Onze Novembre and they exist in distinct, far-flung areas of Paris. I was on a suburban train when Berger rang to check my progress and we ascertained I was heading at speed in completely the wrong direction (my slapdash approach to Google maps to blame). When I eventually arrived, a flustered cab ride later, he and his companion, Nella Bielski, must have been staring at the lunch Nella had prepared for almost an hour. They could not have been nicer, Berger smilingly making light of all my apologies with what I would discover to be his defining quality: kindness.

In their company, the procedure of an interview seemed bad form. How much more agreeable to talk over lunch through the ebbing Parisian afternoon. And that, with huge enjoyment on my part, is what we mainly did. As to any sense that Berger himself was ebbing, only his painful back seemed to insist he was mortal. He planned to get back on his motorbike and swim again (as soon as his back obliged). Even allowing for the frailty of being 90, there was fire in him. We talked about art, politics and literature and, above all, his love of family and friends. He told me he was intending to give only one major pre-birthday interview – this was it. Neither of us knew it would be his last. “Come and see us again next time you are in Paris,” he said."
johnberger  kindness  2017  katekellaway  family  friendship  art  politics  literature  company 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Letter: John Berger’s European haunts | Books | The Guardian
"In 1974, at the start of his marriage to Beverly Bancroft, he moved to Quincy, the agricultural village in the Alps that was to remain their family home. I first met John in the same year, as one of the four founders of the Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative. John was one of several established writers who decided that small publishing, with decision-making in the hands of those who actually made what the industry sold, was a good thing.

He enjoyed collaboration. While he did not put money into the group, he made its financial existence easier by not taking advances when books were published, and was there to advise, finding pleasure in going to meetings when he was in London. I imagine it was a similar pleasure to that he took in being part of the community in Quincy, where everyone participated in haymaking, and John’s table was ever busy with neighbours deliberating on problems or engaging in that gossip which is also storytelling.

Writers and Readers started an art list, republishing Berger’s backlist, including A Painter of Our Time. There was also the brilliant A Fortunate Man – standard reading for all GPs – and his new books. In the way of 1970s collectives, the organisation fell apart in the early 80s. But John and I remained fast friends. We didn’t always agree on politics, but his sense of justice was ever an inspiration and his volcanic laugh a joy. We even went on to win the Scott Moncrieff prize for literary translation together, for Nella Bielski’s The Year Is ’42 (2004).

When I published Losing the Dead (2014), a memoir about my parents’ war and its aftermath, he gave me a drawing he had made inspired by Rembrandt’s The Polish Rider. He was extraordinarily generous, and paid singular attention to young writers and artists, let alone to people needing a hand or a lift. A true listener, he said it was what his storytelling was all about. He listened with an ear for everything, not only what was spoken. And he managed in his encounters and in his stories, as well as his essays, somehow to confront despair and turn it into hope."
johnberger  generosity  publishing  2017  mentorship  attention  listening  lisaappignanesi  collaboration  friendship  europe  politics  hope  despair 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why sons hold marriages together | 1843
"What is going on here? Do fathers simply prefer sons? Or are there other forces that bind fathers to homes with boys?

Playgrounds in hip neighbourhoods may be full of sprogs with unisex names like Sage and Riley, and big-box retailers may be ditching gendered toys and clothing, but changes in public behaviour haven’t necessarily changed private attitudes. This can perhaps be seen most clearly in parents’ communications with Google – those quiet, furtive moments, when the site’s autocomplete feature absolves even the most neurotic questions (misery may love company, but anxiety needs it). A recent analy­sis of anonymous search data found that Americans ask “Is my son gifted?” more than twice as often as “Is my daughter gifted?”, even though young girls are more likely than boys to be enrolled in gifted programmes in school. Parents also ask “Is my daughter overweight?” nearly twice as often as “Is my son overweight?”, even though boys are more likely to be fat.

People will also reveal to pollsters preferences they might keep from their families. In every Gallup poll since the 1940s, when asked which sex they would prefer if they could have only one child, Americans have consistently pulled for boys. Results from the most recent poll, in 2011, were startlingly similar to those from the first: Americans said they favour boys over girls by a margin of 12 percentage points. This preference is driven mainly by men; women are largely agnostic. “Most people will say in public that they are happy to have a boy or a girl, they just want a healthy child,” says Vienna Pharaon, a marriage and family therapist in Manhattan. “But in the therapy room, where people are more comfortable feeling vulnerable, there’s an overwhelming sense that men really do want to have a boy.”

Part of the appeal of having a child of the same sex as oneself is what Pharaon calls the “mini-me phenomenon”: parents hope to create someone who is both similar to and better than themselves. By granting their children opportunities that they themselves lacked, and by behaving as the parents they always wanted, many seek to remove the same obstacles they believe were set on their own paths as they were growing up. “A lot of parents will see themselves through their child. They think, ‘Here is where I can get it right’,” Pharaon says.

This desire is hardly exclusive to men. Faith, a woman in her mid-60s with long dark hair, concedes that it was “kind of a relief” to have daughters. “There’s something we have in common,” she says of her three girls, now women in their 30s. “At each stage of their lives I would relate to how I felt at that age, and what I wished my mom said to me.”

But among fathers, this preference is plainly more profound. Sean Grover, a family psychotherapist in New York and author of the book “When Kids Call the Shots”, suggests that this is because men often feel less intuitive as parents than women do. Mothers offer babies their first opportunity for attachment; their bodies are literally essential for nourishment. Many fathers find it takes longer to connect with their children, not only because they lack that physical bond, but also because they are often stuck at work during the day. “A lot of men complain that when the baby arrives they don’t know what to do with themselves,” says Grover. “Once you get past their bravado, they are really lost.” Some men, says Pharaon, “attach themselves to the idea that at least my boy will need me to throw a ball around.” They feel a sense of purpose in the job of modelling what it means to be a man.

Fathers also like to see themselves as “the fun dad who takes their kids places,” says Grover. Mothers often get stuck with the lion’s share of routine child care – all the cleaning and feeding and whatnot – whereas fathers tend to swoop in for more recreational experiences. So it makes sense that the activities they are most eager to share are the ones they enjoy themselves. Nick, a journalist in his early 50s with two sons, aged 22 and 14, adds that men in general tend to like “bonding over a third object”, such as technology or sports, which can seem easier to do with a boy. “Men are much more gendered in their behaviour, and in their expectations of the behaviour of their kids, than women are,” says Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge whose research investigates parent-child relationships. “Fathers tend to be more involved and engaged with sons than with daughters, and this distinction only gets more marked over time.”

Daniel, a divorced dad in his late 30s with salt-and-pepper hair, has a great relationship with his eight-year-old daughter, whom he looks after for half the week. Over a dinner of lentils and broccoli at his flat in Brooklyn, they are quick to make each other laugh. “Daddy, stop it,” his daughter squeals as he goofily widens his big round eyes, a feature they share. “It’s fascinating,” he says later of having a daughter. “I had no idea what it was like to be a little girl. We are both kind of edu­cating each other.” He admits, however, that it has been a little hard not to be able to share his love of baseball with his child. “When I was growing up, going to a ballgame with my father was a really important experience. It was the closest thing that I saw to a religious feeling in him,” he says. “I’ve taken my daughter to ballgames, but she doesn’t really know the difference between basketball and baseball. If she was a boy, I have this feeling that it would’ve been easier to interest her in those things. It would be something that we could have in common. But I’ve done my best to let it go.”

Some men are quick to say having a daughter is a relief. Evan, a thin, bespectacled film-maker in his 30s, admits he was nervous about the prospect of “constantly proving my masculinity around a boy. I throw terribly. I would worry that if we played catch in Central Park, he’d discover his father had no arm.” He beams when he talks about his toddler daughter: “She really is the girl I always hoped I would have.”

But in my conversations with fathers, I found the attitude of Adam, a jocular businessman in his mid-30s from Durham, North Carolina, commoner. “I generally think that most adult guys have very few real friendships. We’ll go grab a beer with someone, we’ll play golf or tennis with someone, but we just don’t open up a lot in particularly meaningful ways,” he says. The hope, he explains, is that his son will ultimately fill that gap. “The possibility of shaping his preferences to match mine is attractive. It’s why we play sports together, why we read together. I’m already envisioning trying to get him to read the newspaper over breakfast. I think that there’s a very significant desire for friendship that’s heightened for fathers with sons given how few other outlets we have to create friendships.”"



"But there was a telling detail in the data Giuliano examined: the marriages in which sons made a real difference were those in which mothers were initially half-hearted about their husbands. In these “marginal” marriages, in which a mother who had just given birth said she felt indifferent towards the baby’s father, Giuliano found that sons reduced divorce rates by over 20 percentage points. Boys glued these couples together partly because fathers appeared to be more co-operative and attentive at home, but also because many of these mothers agreed with the statement that “parents should stay together, even if they do not get along.” A major reason why many women with sons stayed with their husbands was, it seems, concern for the welfare of their children."



"If sons make fathers feel more useful, and leave mothers feeling more inept, it makes sense that they are more likely than daughters to glue couples together. But it bears noting that identifying more closely with a child can often come at a cost. A number of the fathers I spoke to found that their relationships with their sons were not only more intense than those with their daughters, but also more fraught. Grace Malonai, a clinical therapist in San Francisco, observes that men tend to be especially gentle with their young sons, but they grow more critical as the boys get older. “There just seems to be more expectation and disappointment if they are not behaving the way they ought to. With the girls, they may feel the disconnect, but they are not as harsh in their expectations.” Matt, the father in the bar in Brooklyn, says he finds it especially hard to see his son suffer, “because it’s a little like seeing myself suffer. It’s like I’ve been given another chance, and I haven’t succeeded in making it better for him than it was for me.”

Perhaps the problem is that it is never quite possible to “get it right” with a child. Parenting is a messy, humbling business, full of grand expectations, mundane fears and long days. Most of the people I talked to found that life and experience regularly challenged their assumptions. Sons may nudge some fathers to take on more responsibility, while daughters may make it easier for mothers to ditch disappointing husbands. But most parents see a child’s sex as simply one of the many characteristics that can make their job seem easier or harder at any given moment. Ultimately parenting is an endless game of trial and error, and no one gets to be perfect. The most any­one can hope for is that mothers and fathers do the best they can and then, when the time comes, try to get out of the way."
gender  mariage  children  parenting  relationships  daughters  sons  2016  emilybobrow  lauragiuliano  economics  behavior  friendship 
september 2016 by robertogreco
CM 048: Dacher Keltner on the Power Paradox
"Is there a secret to lasting power? Yes, and Dacher Keltner has been teaching leaders about it for decades. And the secret is not the ruthless, manipulative approach associated with 15th-century politician and writer Niccolo Machiavelli. It is actually the opposite.

As a University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Psychology, and Founder and Director of the Greater Good Science Center, Dacher Keltner shares research-based insights he has gained. And in his latest book, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, he discusses a new science of power and 20 guiding power principles.

In this interview, we talk about:

• How the legacy of Niccolo Machiavelli continues to inform power
• Why power is about so much more than dominance, manipulation, and ruthlessness
• Why we need to question a coercive model of power
• The short- versus long-term impact of different kinds of power
• Why power is about lifting others up
• Why lasting power is given, not grabbed
• The important role that reputation, gossip and esteem play in who gains power
• How, within days, group members already know who holds the power
• What makes for enduring power
• How our body language and words speak volumes about power
• Why Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating study of empathetic power
• The fact that great and powerful leaders are incredible storytellers
• How feeling powerful makes us less aware of risk
• How feeling powerful makes us less empathetic, attentive and responsive to others
• How feeling powerful actually overrides the part of our brain that signals empathy
• How drivers of more expensive cars (46 percent) tend to ignore pedestrians
• How powerful people often tell themselves stories to justify hierarchies
• The price we pay for powerlessness
• Concrete ways we can cultivate enduring, empathetic power
• Gender and power
• Why the key to parenting is to empower children to have a voice in the world

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned [all linked within]

Dacher Keltner
Greater Good Science Center
Frans de Waal
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Thomas Clarkson and the abolition movement
Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
House of Cards
The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
What Works by Iris Bohnet
Arturo Behar and Facebook
Greater Good in Action
Science of Happiness course on edX"
dacherkeltner  power  hierarchy  machiavelli  influence  paradox  coercion  2016  thomasclarkson  abolition  slavery  history  greatergoodsciencecenter  resistance  ericchenoweth  mariastephan  houseofcards  andrewscott  lyndagratton  irisbohnet  arturobejar  fransdewaal  chimpanzees  primates  privilege  superiority  psychology  empathy  class  poverty  wealth  inequality  poor  happiness  humility  altruism  respect  sfsh  leadership  administration  parenting  friendship  dignity  workplace  horizontality  sharing  generosity  powerlessness  recognition  racism  gender  prestige  socialintelligence  empowerment 
august 2016 by robertogreco
There’s no emotion we ought to think harder about than anger | Aeon Essays
"Anger is the emotion that has come to saturate our politics and culture. Philosophy can help us out of this dark vortex"



"So, to put my radical claim succinctly: when anger makes sense (because focused on status), its retaliatory tendency is normatively problematic, because a single-minded focus on status impedes the pursuit of intrinsic goods. When it is normatively reasonable (because focused on the important human goods that have been damaged), its retaliatory tendency doesn’t make sense, and it is problematic for that reason. Let’s call this change of focus the Transition. We need the Transition badly in our personal and our political lives, dominated as they all too frequently are by payback and status-focus.

Sometimes a person may have an emotion that embodies the Transition already. Its entire content is: ‘How outrageous! This should not happen again.’ We may call this emotion Transition-Anger, and that emotion does not have the problems of garden-variety anger. But most people begin with everyday anger: they really do want the offender to suffer. So the Transition requires moral, and often political, effort. It requires forward-looking rationality, and a spirit of generosity and cooperation."

he struggle against anger often requires lonely self-examination. Whether the anger in question is personal, or work-related, or political, it requires exacting effort against one’s own habits and prevalent cultural forces. Many great leaders have understood this struggle, but none more deeply than Nelson Mandela. He often said that he knew anger well, and that he had to struggle against the demand for payback in his own personality. He reported that during his 27 years of imprisonment he had to practise a disciplined type of meditation to keep his personality moving forward and avoiding the anger trap. It now seems clear that the prisoners on Robben Island had smuggled in a copy of Meditations by the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, to give them a model of patient effort against the corrosions of anger.

But Mandela was determined to win the struggle. He wanted a successful nation, even then, and he knew that there could be no successful nation when two groups were held apart by suspicion, resentment, and the desire to make the other side pay for the wrongs they had done. Even though those wrongs were terrible, cooperation was necessary for nationhood. So he did things, in that foul prison, that his fellow prisoners thought perverse. He learned Afrikaans. He studied the culture and thinking of the oppressors. He practised cooperation by forming friendships with his jailers. Generosity and friendliness were not justified by past deeds; but they were necessary for future progress.

Mandela used to tell people a little parable. Imagine that the sun and the wind are contending to see who can get a traveller to take off his blanket. The wind blows hard, aggressively. But the traveller only pulls the blanket tighter around him. Then the sun starts to shine, first gently, and then more intensely. The traveller relaxes his blanket, and eventually he takes it off. So that, he said, is how a leader has to operate: forget about the strike-back mentality, and forge a future of warmth and partnership.

Mandela was realistic. One would never have found him proposing, as did Gandhi, to convert Hitler by charm. And of course he had been willing to use violence strategically, when non-violence failed. Non-anger does not entail non-violence (although Gandhi thought it did). But he understood nationhood and the spirit that a new nation requires. Still, behind the strategic resort to violence was always a view of people that was Transitional, focused not on payback but on the creation of a shared future in the wake of outrageous and terrible deeds.

Again and again, as the African National Congress (ANC) began to win the struggle, its members wanted payback. Of course they did, since they had suffered egregious wrongs. Mandela would have none of it. When the ANC voted to replace the old Afrikaner national anthem with the anthem of the freedom movement, he persuaded them to adopt, instead, the anthem that is now official, which includes the freedom anthem (using three African languages), a verse of the Afrikaner hymn, and a concluding section in English. When the ANC wanted to decertify the rugby team as a national team, correctly understanding the sport’s long connection to racism, Mandela, famously, went in the other direction, backing the rugby team to a World Cup victory and, through friendship, getting the white players to teach the sport to young black children. To the charge that he was too willing to see the good in people, he responded: ‘Your duty is to work with human beings as human beings, not because you think they are angels.’

And Mandela rejected not only the false lure of payback, but also the poison of status-obsession. He never saw himself as above menial tasks, and he never used status to humiliate. Just before his release, in a halfway house where he was still officially a prisoner, but had one of the warders as his own private cook, he had a fascinating discussion with this warder about a very mundane matter: how the dishes would get done.
I took it upon myself to break the tension and a possible resentment on his part that he has to serve a prisoner by cooking and then washing dishes, and I offered to wash dishes and he refused … He says that this is his work. I said, ‘No, we must share it.’ Although he insisted, and he was genuine, but I forced him, literally forced him, to allow me to do the dishes, and we established a very good relationship … A really nice chap, Warder Swart, a very good friend of mine.

It would have been so easy to see the situation as one of status-inversion: the once-dominating Afrikaner is doing dishes for the once-despised ANC leader. It would also have been so easy to see it in terms of payback: the warder is getting a humiliation he deserves because of his complicity in oppression. Significantly, Mandela doesn’t go down either of these doomed paths, even briefly. He asks only, how shall I produce cooperation and friendship?

Mandela’s project was political; but it has implications for many parts of our lives: for friendship, marriage, child-rearing, being a good colleague, driving a car. And of course it also has implications for the way we think about what political success involves and what a successful nation is like. Whenever we are faced with pressing moral or political decisions, we should clear our heads, and spend some time conducting what Mandela (citing Marcus Aurelius) referred to as ‘Conversations with Myself’. When we do, I predict, the arguments proposed by anger will be clearly seen to be pathetic and weak, while the voice of generosity and forward-looking reason will be strong as well as beautiful."
marthanussbaum  anger  emotions  philosophy  nelsonmandela  2016  payback  revenge  social  hierarchy  cooperation  friendship  sharing  generosity  friendliness  retaliation  status  aristotle  marcusaurelius  gandhi  humanism  reconciliation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — the only mofos in my circle are people that I CAN...
"the only mofos in my circle are people that I CAN LEARN FROM. i believe THAT is the first and foremost rule to a successful life. you are going to be as educated and successful as the 10 most frequented people you call/text on your phone"

[See also: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/142031465032 ]
questlove  learning  howwelearn  2011  friendship  success  education  austinkleon 
july 2016 by robertogreco
My Struggle with American Small Talk - The New Yorker
"“How’s it going?” I ask the barista. “How’s your day been?”

“Ah, not too busy. What are you up to?”

“Not much. Just reading.”

This, I have learned, is one of the key rituals of American life. It has taken me only a decade to master.

I immigrated to the United States in 2001, for college. I brought only my Indian experience in dealing with shopkeepers and tea sellers. In Delhi, where I grew up, commerce is brusque. You don’t ask each other how your day has been. You might not even smile. I’m not saying this is ideal—it’s how it is. You’re tied together by a transaction. The customer doesn’t tremble before complaining about how cold his food is. Each side believes the other will cheat him, and each remains alert. Tips are not required.

“God, Mahajan, you’re so rude to waiters!” Tom, an American friend, said, laughing, after he watched me ordering food at a restaurant, in the West Village, years ago. Considering myself a mild and friendly person, I was surprised. “You’re ingratiating!” I countered. Tom always asked servers how they were doing or complimented their shirts or cracked jokes about the menu. At the time, this seemed intellectually dishonest to me. Did he really care what they were wearing? Wasn’t he just expressing his discomfort about being richer than the person serving him? If you did this little number with everyone, was it genuine?

American life is based on a reassurance that we like one another but won’t violate one another’s privacies. This makes it a land of small talk. Two people greet each other happily, with friendliness, but might know each other for years before venturing basic questions about each other’s backgrounds. The opposite is true of Indians. At least three people I’ve sat next to on planes to and from India have asked me, within minutes, how much I earn as a writer (only to turn away in disappointment when I tell them). In the East, I’ve heard it said, there’s intimacy without friendship; in the West, there’s friendship without intimacy.

So, for years in America, I would shudder when reporting to the front lines to order coffee. It felt like a performance. I had a thick accent and people didn’t understand me and I was ashamed and I fumbled. I radiated an uncertain energy; sometimes baristas sensed this and wouldn’t try to talk to me, and then an insecure voice in my head would cry, “He’s racist!”

During these years in the small-talk wilderness, I also wondered why Americans valued friendliness with commerce so much. Was handing over cash the sacred rite of American capitalism—and of American life? On a day that I don’t spend money in America, I feel oddly depressed. It’s my main form of social interaction—as it is for millions of Americans who live alone or away from their families.

Everything is subject to analysis until it becomes second nature to you. Living in Brooklyn and then in Austin, Texas, I made coffee shops the loci of my movements. Meeting the same baristas day after day bred context, and I got practice. People no longer heard my name as “Kevin” or “Carmen,” though they still misheard “to go” as “to stay” and vice versa. I was beginning to assimilate. It felt good and didn’t seem fake anymore.

Still, sometimes, when I make small talk at cash registers, I am reminded of a passage from a novel called “The Inscrutable Americans,” which was popular in India in the nineteen-nineties. In the opening of the book, the scion of a hair-oil empire, Gopal, comes to the U.S. for college. When an immigration agent at J.F.K. asks, “How is it going?” Gopal replies the only way he knows:
I am telling him fully and frankly about all problems and hopes, even though you may feel that as American he may be too selfish to bother about decline in price of hair oil in Jajau town. But, brother, he is listening very quietly with eyes on me for ten minutes and then we are having friendly talk about nuts and he is wanting me to go.
"
communication  culture  smalltalk  2016  karanmahajan  commerce  capitalism  india  performance  society  customs  friendliness  honesty  intimacy  friendship 
july 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
Women Touching Women, on Screen | Broadly
"Despite the obvious cultural markers of Indian society, you can place Parched, culturally, anywhere. Yadav has a unique ability to evoke the very deep sensibilities of womanhood and female sexuality: The trapped secrets of infidelity or desire, and abuse; the realities we rarely are allowed to share. Of all the people Yadav based characters on, she says the woman who inspired Rani was particularly compelling to her: "She cooked all day for us. We talked and laughed. She was needling and then, at one point, she turned to me and said, 'I haven't been touched in 17 years. Do you know what that means?'" Moved and inspired, Yadav felt that her specific story had to be shared with an international audience. "That's something I really wanted to explore: The necessity of touch. I wanted to capture that energy, that soul in the film."

Yadav says she struggled, at first, with telling these stories: How could she weave in a tale about the lightheartedness of these women but also their sadness? She felt it was important for her to balance both their strength and their day-to-day struggles with internalized misogyny, while also juxtaposing it with the genuine happiness they found in their friendships, or the small pleasures of their lives. Parched is not a story of anguish. It's a story of resilience in light of pain. "I did post-production in LA and I would be in the cutting room all day," Yadav says. "After a couple of days I felt like I was going mad. Not being near people, not touching people—it was suffocating. I stopped eating food because I couldn't eat it with my hands. So I wanted to really explore that a lot with Rani and Lajjo: The meaning of touch for the both of them." What would touch mean to two women who had never been loved by the men they were with?

At one point in the film, after Manoj beats up Lajjo—again—Rani comes to her aid. Lajjo has collapsed and is incapable of moving, so Rani nurses her wounds, slowly removing her top to get to the bruises, exposing Lajjo's breasts. It's subtle, a shot filmed with fragility and tenderness. As Rani begins to caress Lajjo's breasts, the experience looks more familiar than sexual, erotic only due to its earnestness. It's a loaded and nuanced moment. "It's a scene that makes a lot of people uncomfortable because they call it a lesbian scene, but in fact it's a mother-daughter scene, or a friends scene—it takes on every role between two women," Yadav explains.

Women touch each other—sometimes sexually, sometimes non-sexually. Female relationships encapsulate the diversity and the multitude of dimensions and roles that women exist in; we can be maternal to each other, romantic, or even sexual. Women explore themselves through their relationships with other women. In that sense, female friendships are far more varied than male relationships. Although the scene with Rani and Lajjo may seem simply sexual, the moment shows their desire for care as Rani's fingers linger on Lajjo's nipples. It reveals the desire to be validated through sensory feeling.

A stereotype exists about people never discussing sex in India. Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai has famously never kissed one of her onscreen co-stars—presumably because sex, and the depiction of it, is still a contentious issue in India. In 1998, after the release of Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta's Fire, many prominent Indian politicians called the film immoral, pornographic, and against Indian tradition and culture. They then claimed the film's depiction of lesbianism was "not a part of Indian history or culture." (Fire is a film about two sister-in-laws, Sita and Radha, who live in the same house and fall in love with each other.) Members of the far-right political party, Shiv Sena, ransacked theaters across India, smashing glass panes and attempting to shut down screenings of the film. A lot of this, I presume, was backlash towards the audacity that women choose their sexual outlet, removing men from the equation of pleasure.

As Yadav reminded the audience in a panel after the screening of Parched, "India is the land of [the] Kama Sutra." Conversations about sex, however, seem to be confined to the kitchen, or enclaves of women, and not as much on the pop-cultural forefront. This is why films like Parched matter, why Yadav's frankness about sex is simply revolutionary for all women. It's about demanding more for both women and men.

At the same screening of Parched, a white man stood up and said he hoped people would see this film particularly for the scene where Lajjo has sex with a shaman-esque man of great spirit. The scene, which is erotic and highly charged, illustrates Lajjo's growing self awareness through sex. It's portrayed as an odyssey of deep arousal, both sexual and spiritual; for the first time, Lajjo finally learns sex is supposed to be pleasurable. The man in the audience followed his observation with the wry question: "How many men in the West know anything about the act of making love?" The room, which was full of women of all demographics, laughed raucously at his response.

In many ways, Parched tells a universal story; it reflects the stories of all women because women around the world have a lot in common. "When I shared this script with friends around the world, they would send me their stories," Yadav says, her eyes big, warm, and watery. "Nobody interacted with it like a script, so that's why I made the characters symbolic of something more, symbolic of issues that I wanted to highlight."

What's so profound about Parched—beyond the superb storytelling and its universality—is its critique of the patriarchy, which, obviously, is also universal: Although the women in this film grapple with systemic misogyny, Yadav emphasizes how that happens outside India. "With this movie in particular I get, 'I didn't know things were so bad in India!' a lot, and I think to myself, Are you kidding me?" she says. "People forget it happens on every level. If an audience isn't perceptive, they sit on their high horse and judge—like, 'Oh poor things, is this what happens?' If they are really receptive they'll understand it's happening in their backyard.""



"The last question during the Q&A came from a man who stood up to thank Yadav. His voice, bellowing with passion, kept breaking. It almost seemed as though Yadav had saved his life. Her partner, and well-known producer, Aseem Bajaj, told the man that this movie completely floored him as well. "It's changed me," he said. "It's completely changed the way I interact with women." Mahesh Balraj, who plays Manoj, agreed: "I'm different now when I look at women. I think of them differently." Yadav just smiled in response, her head down, hands crossed over.

As I watched and followed her offstage, she was met with a flurry of thank yous. I walked behind her all the way through the cinema, more people coming towards her as we made our way through the aisles and out into the foyer, where I was met with her publicist. I wanted to say something that wouldn't sound cliché; unlike everyone else in the theater, I didn't know how to say thank you or express how much this film meant to me. Everything felt embarrassing. She turned to me, and I could only say, "Hey, I'll be interviewing you tomorrow." She said, "Hey," too, smiled, and turned away from me. Soon after her publicist walked her to a meeting. I stood for a few seconds longer, feeling truly blissed.

I couldn't say to her how, as a woman, as a South Asian woman, and as a woman invested in the lives of the many other women who are abused and harassed for their gender, this film is not just necessary. It is life-affirming. At our interview, Yadav reticently describes how her position as an artist is always undermined by her sex first, her race second. "In this industry people want to constantly remind me, and call me, a woman director, but I'm a director," she says. "Nobody would ever call a male director a male director.""
touch  film  gender  women  fariharóisín  2015  leenayadav  sexuality  misogyny  friendship  india 
february 2016 by robertogreco
being an artist and parent in a city of riches? w/Tim Devin by a-small-lab
"Part of a series of 'art' conversations for summer art, not-school 2016 in and around Mairangi Bay Arts Centre - small-workshop.info/sans2016/

Tim Devin (www.timdevin.com/) is a Boston-based artist, librarian, parent and more. His work supports the need for information and feeling connected that are essential for people having a say in their communities and the world at large. This discussion starts from three points coming out of his project "How to be an Artist and a Parent?" - how to be a "good parent" and also do the other stuff you need to do, the question of what happens to a community life pressures slowly hinder people from being creative, and the fact that both Boston and Auckland are going through huge transformations right now.

Provided in collaboration with Mairangi Arts Centre, with support of Creative Communities Scheme"

[Shared on Twitter: "Listening…"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/686288610660757504

"making some connections to friendships, community, and housing https://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-54-nominative-determinism … + http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship … + http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/how-friendships-change-over-time-in-adulthood/411466/ "
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/686288881134649344 ]
parenting  art  chrisberthelsen  2016  timdevin  community  cities  neighborhoods  somerville  japan  newzealand  realestate  slow  local  politics  housing  zoning  urban  urbanism  activism  friendship  age  aging  education  unschooling  deschooling  aukland  labor  work  gentrification  development  children  creativity  cognitivesurpluss  lcproject  openstudioproject  small  rents  inequality  economics 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 54: Nominative Determinism
"EPICYCLES:

[…]

Probably what I appreciate most about the holiday break is not commuting. When I started driving in suburban Boston, I almost immediately generated a working hypothesis about why dense urban areas tend to lean left politically and why suburban areas lean right (in my hometown of Toronto, there was a pronounced political divide between the city proper and the surrounding '905ers', named after the area code for the immediate suburbs). Living in a city teaches you that strangers can co-exist and even cooperate (like everyone standing aside to let subway passengers disembark, for example). But if you live in the suburbs, your primary interaction with strangers is almost certainly in your car, and cars are sociopathy machines: people do many things in cars (like cut into a line) that they would never do on foot. Driving in the suburbs sends the message that, given the opportunity, a significant fraction of people put their own interests first regardless of the effect on others, so it doesn't seem like a big step to deciding that you need political systems that do similarly to ensure that you don't lose out to the people around you. Whereas living in cities, especially ones with good public transit, make it clear that strangers can work together and that homophily is not a requirement for everyone to benefit from shared resources; hence, left-wing. Getting a few days' break from driving definitely helps me with that seasonal 'good will towards one and all' thing. [While we're into amateur theories of political sociology, I'm a fan of the zombie apocalypse vs utopian future [http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/ ] dichotomy.]

ON FRIENDSHIPS, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND HOUSING: Speaking of the suburbs, I was struck by this article [http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship ] on how American choices in land use affect their ability of adults to make and maintain friendships: the norms of single-family homes and driving mean that social interactions need to be deliberately scheduled (or, in many sad cases, not scheduled). The evidence is that there are two key requirements for friendships to form: repeated, spontaneous interactions, and an environment where people can confide in each other. There's been a lot of discussion in my circles recently about the modes and affordances of social media sites, and a quiet exodus from public Twitter to small private accounts, or to Slack, or to mailing lists, or to, yes, newsletters. For many of us, Twitter was--and remains--an excellent place for those repeated, spontaneous interactions. But it's shifted from the 'small world growth phase' [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/File:SNSPrivacy.png ] to one where our experience is dominated by context collapse [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/Context_collapse_in_social_media ]. It's therefore no longer a safe environment for that second component of a nascent friendship, sharing with others, as the norms of civil inattention [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_inattention ] fail to keep pace with the site's phenomenal growth (This was most memorably demonstrated to me when a well-known author and speaker jumped into a conversation that a friend of mine and I were having about relationships to inform us--and the rest of his many followers--that 'women like bad boys'. Welp.) So this type of trust-building personal sharing is moving to more private fora. In my case, because I travel a fair bit, that includes the offline world. This use of Twitter and travel probably goes a long way to explaining why I'm an outlier in that, while I have a few good friends that I made in and kept from my teens and early twenties, I also have a number of very close friends that I've made in the last five years or so (the second major reason is likely because I do live in a dense urban walkshed where I run into friends spontaneously, in a city that draws out-of-town friends to visit). But I'm interested in seeing how people use different types of social media differently in the near future."
debchachra  2016  friendship  socialmedia  twitter  cities  cars  suburbs  sociopathy  housing  thewaywelive  urban  urbanism  toronto  boston  commuting  sociology  politicalsociology  suburbia 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Friendshipping!
"Join Jenn & Trin of Cards Against Humanity in a discussion about friendship, particularly between women. We take audience questions and do our best to answer the tricky stuff, like how do I stop feeling jealous of my more successful friends? What if I have a crush on my BFF? Should I ask my friend why she unfollowed me on Twitter?"
podcasts  tolisten  friendship  relationships 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Ivan Illich, "Philosophy... Artifacts... Friendship"
"Architects drafted on paper or modeled in clay, not on a screen. True, in the time of Ford's Model A, when Thérèse of Lisieux was canonized, and I was born, the instrumental artifact moved toward its apogee; it was becoming increasingly dominant in the sensual environment. But technology was still conceived as a tool for the achievement of a telos, a final cause set by its user, not as milieu. Technology had not yet redefined homo from tool-user to co-evolved product of engineering. The nature of the object was not a quandary; it was something more or less what it had been for generations. This is no longer so. The old rules for the discernment of good from evil spirits must be complemented by new rules for the distinction of things from zombies, and objects from pictures. Temperance, what the Cappadocians call nepsis, must now guard the heart, not only from real things like sweet skin and weighty bullion, but also guide one to the sound recognition of the allurements of mere images and so-called needs....

In my own pilgrimage, I engage philosophy as ancilla: on the one hand, to resist - how should I call it? - algorithmic reductionism and, on the other, to dispel the illusion that power or organization can ever enhance the practice of charity. This double conceptual shield against loving misplaced concreta, and belief in benevolent management inevitably implies the rejection of those genetic axioms from which the topology of technological thinking arises. This topology is well protected, if not hidden, by a self-image meant to give comfort to life beyond virtue and the good. The aim to make life always better has crippled the search for the appropriate, proportionate, harmonious or simply good life - hopes easily written off as simplistic or irresponsible. Only sober, unsentimental, vernacular rhetoric can possibly demonstrate the incompatibility of mathematical modeling or systems management with the quest for faith and love. The typical artifacts of our decade are at once more intimately and deviously connected to the understanding of revealed truth than hearth or arms or mill, the res agricola, res bellica, and scientia mechanica of earlier times....

In my seminars, I have seen many a student look up from the exegesis of a passage by Aelred of Rivaulx, Héloïse, or Hugh of St. Victor, and search for a correspondence in his or her own twenty-two year-old heart, and recognize what the notions related to process, field, feedback, loop, and context sensitivity have done to their grasp. At such moments of disciplined alienation, it is then possible to foster the insight that it is almost impossible for an inhabitant of "the system" to desire an I-Thou relationship like that cultivated in Talmudic or monastic communities. Following such an awakening and finding themselves at a loss to recapture this past experience, a thirst is incited....

In the study of theology, ecclesiology was my preferred subject; and, within this discipline, liturgy. Liturgy, like ecclesiology, is concerned with sociogenesis. It inquires into the continued embodiment of the Word through rituals. Necessarily, these rituals often center on objects like tables, tombs and chalices. So, my interest in these so-called sacra led me to the theory of instrumentally used objects. I pursued the nature of the artifact in the belief that understanding would deepen my insight into virtue in our epoch, especially the virtue of charity. Therefore, the love of friendship, philia, as practicable under the social and symbolic conditions engendered by modern artifacts, has been the constant subject of my teaching. For me, finally, philosophy is the ancilla amicitiae."
sensorium  ivanillich  1996  via:ayjay  technology  objects  artificat  charity  friendship  organization  power  goodness  enough  well-being  theology  ecclesiology  liturgy  sociogenesis  systemsmanagement  management  faith  love  temperance 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Calvin And Hobbes embodied the voice of the lonely child · For Our Consideration · The A.V. Club
"There is a mythic Calvin And Hobbes strip that’s been bouncing around the internet for years. No one’s quite sure where it came from or who’s responsible for it. Part of its mystery is likely because it’s purported to be the lost final installment of the series, drawn by Bill Watterson himself. In it, a serious looking Calvin toils away at his schoolwork while Hobbes looks on. The tiger is curious that his friend is being so diligent about his studies, and the boy responds that “the pills” he’s taking have started working. Hobbes then asks Calvin to go play, but Calvin is too absorbed in his project to take notice. The final panel is the tiger as “just” a stuffed animal, with Calvin indifferent to the change. It is, in every sense of the word, an abomination.

This is not an actual installment of Calvin And Hobbes, and is instead a repurposed strip with a preachy message warning against the dangers of medicating children and ruining their creativity forever. There are any number of ways that this goes against the inherent spirit of the comic, but I will focus my disdain to a single point. Calvin And Hobbes was never about hyperactivity and Hobbes himself was never a manifestation of undiagnosed mania: He was a manifestation of pure, unadulterated loneliness.

Loneliness is a funny thing because generally it has less to do with being alone and more to do with not having other people around. That sounds paradoxical, but being alone and being isolated from your peers are two very different things. The former is a choice, the latter a decree. In truth, it’s even more complicated than that, as loneliness can strike at any time, even when surrounded by people. That niggling sense that maybe you don’t belong is all it needs to gain a foothold.

For as much as the brain of a child is growing and changing and maturing, for as many distractions as the world provides to developing minds, kids aren’t stupid, particularly children as highly sensitive and attuned to the world around them as Calvin. Disappearing into his own world is a coping mechanism for dealing with a world that seems to have little patience or place for him. His isolation breeds fantasy, which breeds isolation, which does him no favors at school or at home. To be a lonely child in the world means creating your own fun, your own friends, your own magic.



Calvin didn’t have trouble focusing on the world around him, he had trouble reconciling himself to the fact that the world around him was such a disappointment. The reason the strip appealed to people both young and old is because Calvin was feeling underwhelmed at a college graduate level. It’s not unheard of for children to experience this, particularly those who are more sensitive to their surroundings, and for many it was a relief to know that seeing the world without the luster and facade constantly created for us wasn’t so unusual. Calvin made it okay to be disheartened and disappointed by life and normalized the inherent loneliness that childhood can bring. He was there for us as we grew up and while we learned that things were capable of getting so much better and so much worse as we experienced puberty and beyond, he was still mired in the first grade, raging against the machine.

It’s quite the thing to sit down and read 10 years of a comic strip at once. It’s a comfort, like going home, the jokes warm and familiar. You grin when you come across the Sunday strips that served as the inspiration for the book collection titles, “Something Under The Bed is Drooling,” “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.” And though the strips are the same as they’ve ever been, you’ve come to them as a different person. Reading Calvin And Hobbes when you’re 33 is different from reading it when you’re 13. Now you’re struck by the struggle Calvin’s parents must have had keeping their child in line and loving him even as he drove them out of their minds, and you wonder if their single-income home would still be feasible in the current economic climate. But more than anything, you notice the sorrow buried in the strips, and you wonder how you missed how sad the children in the strips were the whole time.

Loneliness and sadness aren’t new fare for comic strips. If anything, Watterson’s characters are merely carrying on in the grand tradition of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, where preternaturally clever children are nevertheless stymied by the world they live in. Like Peanuts, Calvin And Hobbes is timeless for the exact same reason: It appealed to adults just as much as it appealed to children. It spoke of things not always acknowledged in polite company, how people are mean, how we wish we had more friends, how being grown up seems weird and being a child even weirder, how the world doesn’t make sense, and how it’s hard to believe in things even though we desperately want to believe in them.

Calvin was a lot of things, just like every child. He was a budding inventor, a gifted artist, an enterprising entrepreneur, and a self-taught pundit. He was a good friend, an annoying neighbor, clever and conniving, lonely and loyal and, yeah, maybe a little hyperactive. But whatever he was, he taught an entire generation of children that though sadness and disappointment and loneliness may come prepackaged in life, that all could be weathered, so long as you had hope and a really good friend to see you through. For Calvin, that was Hobbes. For us, it was Calvin And Hobbes. And when the strip ended its 10 year run in 1995, it left in its wake a generation of children who, though now grown, could move forward in life confident that their magical friend would be with them always."

[Update: Tim Carmody put this in a small collection about loneliness: https://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/609837487414988800 ]
calvinandhobbes  loneliness  childhood  friendship  billwatterson  2015  libbyhill  comics  isolation  aloneness  life  living  children 
june 2015 by robertogreco
What is it About Animals? |
"We know that animals play important roles in our social, cultural and political lives, as loved ones, friends and companions, workers, ‘livestock’, ‘products’ and ‘commodities’. For instance, in Australia, 63 percent of households include a companion animal, many people living with companion animals consider them to be “family members” (estimates vary between 75-90 percent), and the pet animal industry contributes approximately AUD$4.74 billion annually to the economy (Australian Companion Animal Council, nd).

The bond between many humans and their animal companions is often very strong, invoking emotions of attachment and pleasure. Human–companion animal relationships may allow people to experience themselves and their lives in significantly different ways; ways that are very positive. Humans who describe themselves as ‘animal lovers’ usually see their pets as valued family members, whether (or not) these animals are substitute children, friends, protectors, and/or sources of companionship and affection. Also, plenty of people feel affection or even love towards animals they do not keep as companions or pets, such as native birds that visit them or injured wildlife that they help to care for until they are ready to be released into their habitat.

In this study we want to know how you experience animals you consider important; how you describe and feel about these relationships. We are keen to dig beneath the stereotypes to examine the perceptions of, and meanings attributed to, the relationships ‘animal lovers’ have with their companion animals or any other animals they feel affection towards. That is why we inviting participants to use a range of mediums or formats (e.g. photos, stories, videos, poems, paintings, drawings) to represent their human-animal relationships. Feel free to be creative and have fun."
via:anne  animals  multispecies  pets  niktaylor  heatherfraser  affection  wildlife  companionship  relationship  livestock  friendship  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
On Mentoring, by Diana Kimball · The Manual
"Mentoring relationships are complex and tenuous, but they work best when the needs they fulfill are clearly identified. And like any relationship, they require nothing less than mutual vulnerability."



"Not every mentor arrives at a willingness to help out of a desire to mend. Just as often, the ease and joy of mattering carries the day. Sometimes, the urge to be inspired by someone else’s aspirational energy comes into play. There are countless needs that mentoring can meet. The important thing is to make sure at least one need is alive in you, and to at least try to give it a name.

Looking back, the biggest problem with /mentoring was my assumption that what was true for me when I started the project would remain true forever. Simply adding the page to my website met my need to feel like someone with something to give. Encouraging others to do the same met my need to make a difference in the world at large. For a moment in time, everything lined up.

Yet as time went on, inbound mentoring requests rarely arrived when I was prepared to receive them. People poured their hearts out in letters, as I had asked them to. But since their letters arrived on their own time, I wasn’t always ready to reciprocate. And without the click of mutuality, most of those would-be relationships fizzled out before they began. If I agreed to speak with someone through the frame of /mentoring but couldn’t bring myself to be vulnerable in exactly the moment we spoke, the conversation went nowhere. One-way vulnerability—from them to me—became about power, not closeness.

Power dynamics are an unavoidable part of the idea of mentoring. One person is experienced, the other aspiring; one person is giving, the other seeking. But the best mentoring relationships subvert that power dynamic. In fact, all good relationships play with power dynamics. Status games are an important way of showing affection. In the book Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre,5 Keith Johnstone explains how this could be:
Many people will maintain that we don’t play status transactions with our friends, and yet every movement, every inflection of the voice implies a status. My answer is that acquaintances become friends when they agree to play status games together. If I take an acquaintance an early morning cup of tea I might say “Did you have a good night?” or something equally “neutral,” the status being established by voice and posture and eye contact and so on. If I take a cup of tea to a friend then I may say “Get up, you old cow,” or “Your Highness’s tea,” pretending to raise or lower status.


When we’re comfortable enough to shift between high and low at will, laughter and epiphanies erupt. Freed from the expectations of knowing everything or knowing nothing, we can get closer to the truth together. It’s why I asked my professor to introduce me to a student who was “perhaps a bit shy, but mischievous.” I wanted to meet someone who could hold her own. I wanted to help, but I didn’t want to be held to a rigid standard; I wanted to be myself.
To be acknowledged as a mentor in hindsight is meaningful because it is a form of thanks. To be asked upfront to be someone’s mentor is unnerving because it’s a boundless request, an inchoate please. The word has power both ways. But if we set aside the word and go back to basic needs, mentoring starts to look like something much simpler: friendship. Of all the possible outcomes of mentoring, the best one is ending up on the same level."
dianakimball  mentoring  relationships  friendship  tinaseelig  kathykram  judithlasater  ikelasater  keithjohnstone  power  vulnerability 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Drink from the cup as if it's already broken - Everything2.com
"Advice from a zen koan. If you own a teacup that is very precious to you, you have two choices: you can be obsessively careful with it, and live in fear that you'll drop it, or someone will chip it, or an earthquake will come and it will fall out of the cabinet. This object, intended to bring you pleasure, can become a burden.

Or, you can imagine that it is already broken -- because in an important sense, it is. It's sure to break someday, just as you're sure to die and the universe is sure to come to an end. Then, every time you drink from the cup will be a pleasure, a gift from the gods, a special reunion between you and something you had lost. You will be sure to appreciate every chance you have to use it, but having already said goodbye you will not need to use it with fear.

This can be applied to personal relationships, to your job, to money... if you give up feeling that you need things, you can appreciate them more fully.

Some people worry that if they give up attachment to this extent, they will not have the will to get what they want; they'll end up living in a discarded refrigerator box and starving to death because they're so laid-back. In fact, there is substantial evidence that having a goal and enjoying a process is not the same thing as kicking your ass all the time, or being motivated by fear of failure or of becoming a bad person. You learn to act with what various groups call the original mind, flow, or True Will and do what you do because it's you, not because you're being bribed or threatened by an internal parent.

*****

In a now-deleted writeup, zgirll pointed out that you can effectively free yourself by giving the teacup away. This is an asymmetry between the possession issue and the relationship issue: giving away an object is an acceptable way to keep it. Giving away a person is stupid, unless your relationship (or the person) is dying on its own. The difference is that a possession is something you can fully know, and so your internal model of it can provide the same satisfaction as it can itself. Friends, on the other hand, are far deeper and we never really "figure them out." Ending a relationship that might otherwise have grown is a serious sacrifice which, I think, does not do any good in and of itself.
zen  koans  brokenness  fear  care  burden  pleasure  will  truewill  flow  orginalmind  process  peace  things  possessions  materialism  objects  time  satisfaction  presence  now  hereandnow  relationships  edg  srg  glvo  attention  friendship  listening  lightness  money  wealth  accumulation  needs  desire 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Your Internet Friends Are Real: A Defense of Online Intimacy | The New Republic
"Online friendships make it clear—and forgive the debt to Facebook—that the way we friend now has changed. Intimacy now develops in both digital and physical realms, often crossing freely between the two. If we accept the equal value of virtual friendships to their IRL analogues (perhaps even doing away with the pejorative acronym), we open ourselves up to a range of new possibilities for connection.

“The Internet represents a broadening of the spectrum of relationships we can have,” Jenna Wortham, a New York Times Magazine writer known for the prolificacy of her online social life, told me. “I have lots of online-, Gchat-only friendships and I love them. I’m very comfortable with the fact that I don’t know [these people] in real life and I don’t have any plans to.” The merit of these friendships lies in their mutability—in your pocket, on your screen, in your living room. Discarding the distinction between real and virtual friendship does not doom us to a society in which tweets, chat, and e-mail are our only points of contact. It just means that the stranger we meet every day on the other side of our screens will no longer be a stranger, but someone that we know and trust."
communication  friendship  irl  digital  internet  web  online  jennawortham  socialmedia  johnsuler  kylechayka  nathanjurgenson  paulford  metafilter  matthaughey  meetups  meetup 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How to Be a Friend in Deed - NYTimes.com
"Alain de Botton, the best-selling author of many books, including “Art as Therapy,” told me that he was once deeply worried about “a mess I was in with the media.” “A friend of mine did the best thing,” he said. “Rather than say everything would be O.K., he said quite simply: ‘I will like you if I’m the last person to do so. There’s nothing you can do to put me off you. You’re stuck with me for life. You may hate yourself, and the world may, too; but I won’t follow suit.’ ”

Mr. de Botton said he found the gesture comforting: “Friends should entertain the darkest scenarios and show you that these would, nevertheless, be survivable.” Instead of placating with false optimism, he said, “I need grim, grim realism, combined with stoic fortitude — colored by a touch of gallows humor.”

ENOUGH ABOUT YOU, LET’S TALK ABOUT ME Paradoxically, sometimes the best way to be a friend to someone in crisis is to change the subject. Ms. Jamison said that for a long time, she would try to meet a friend in whatever emotion the friend was inhabiting. “If she was sad, I came into the sadness with her,” she said. But over time, she realized that sometimes it’s better to distract the other person. “If a friend seems exhausted by the prospect of narrating something again,” she said, “then I do think it can be helpful to tell them something from my own life, to give them a chance to be useful in return. Reciprocity is an incredibly saving dynamic.”"



"If there is a common theme, it’s that while technology does offer support, many still crave the real thing. Crisis is a test of friendship, and success, in this case, is measured in intimacy. “We always imagine that those in trouble go into another zone,” Mr. de Botton said, ”that they are no longer human. But they remain who they always were. Stop being so darn strange just because Mom died or I have cancer. It’s the same old me.”"
via:mattthomas  2015  friendship  reciprocity  support  brucefeiler  relationships 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Learning From Animal Friendships - NYTimes.com
"Science has not entirely ignored unusual interactions between species. Biologists have described relationships formed to achieve a specific goal, like the cooperative hunting between groupers and moray eels. And in the mid-1900s, Konrad Lorenz and other ethologists demonstrated that during critical periods after birth, certain birds and other animals would follow the first moving object they saw, whether animal, human or machine, a phenomenon known as imprinting. Dr. Lorenz was famously photographed with a gaggle of “imprinted” geese trailing behind him.

Yet until recently, any suggestion that interspecies relationships might be based simply on companionship would probably have been met with derision, dismissed as Pixar-like anthropomorphism. That has changed as research has gradually eroded some boundaries between homo sapiens and other animals. Other species, it turns out, share abilities once considered exclusive to humans, including some emotions, tool use, counting, certain aspects of language and even a moral sense.

To be sure, some scientists remain skeptical that the examples of cross-species relations offer much more to science than a hefty dose of cuteness.

Clive Wynne, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, said that the videos he has seen all portray interactions that take place “in a human-controlled environment.”

“To me, that’s what kind of removes what would otherwise be interesting,” he said. “Because it ceases to be directly a story about animal behavior and becomes a story about human impact on the environment, like the difference between gardening and the beauty of natural landscape.” But others see fertile ground for investigation even in bonds formed in captivity or other domesticated settings. “There are so many questions,” said Barbara Smuts, a primate researcher at the University of Michigan who in 1985 shocked some of her colleagues by applying the word “friendship” to describe bonds between female baboons. “We know this is happening between all sorts of species. I think eventually the scientific community will catch up.”

In the meantime, there is no shortage of stories about animals that have reached out across species barriers, some supplied by researchers like Dr. Smuts, who described watching her dog, Safi, an 80-pound German Shepherd mix, forge a friendship with a donkey named Wister on a ranch in Wyoming in the 1990s."



"It is probably no coincidence that many of the better-known animal pairings involve dogs, which have honed the art of cross-species communication through millenniums of having lived with humans. The dogs at the safari park, each housed with a cheetah, are adept at reading body language and take a dominant role with their feline companions — Donna J. Haraway, a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of “When Species Meet,” suggested that the dogs function almost as “social psychologists.”

And sometimes that means figuring out how to speak the other species’ language.

When one dog, Clifford, had trouble persuading his feline companion, Majani, to play, he adopted a new tactic, Ms. Rose-Hinostroza said. Having learned from a trainer how to fake a limp, Clifford tried it out on the cheetah, looking much like a wounded gazelle. The disability, she said, proved irresistible to the cheetah, who came down off its perch to join the game.

But it is grooming, not playing, that cements a dog-cheetah friendship, Ms. Rose-Hinostroza said. Initially, the young cheetahs are terrified by the puppies’ attempts to play, but gradually the two animals begin to trust one another, and at some point, the cheetah begins to lick and groom the dog.

“When you see that happen, you go, ‘Yes, the cat actually likes the dog now,’ so that’s a good day,” she said.

Communing between species, researchers said, can inspire speculation not just about the animals but about the humans that are so fascinated by them.

Dr. Bekoff, for example, said that videos of interspecies interactions offer a way for people to connect with a natural world from which they feel increasingly detached.

“People are really craving to be ‘re-wilded,’ ” he said. “They’re craving to be reconnected to nature, and it’s these odd examples that are really seductive.”

Others see in the meeting of dog and doe, goat and rhino, tiger and bear, an ideal of peaceful connection that humans too often find elusive.

At Haller Park in Kenya — where Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise, tends to Owen, an orphaned baby hippo — a man visiting the park with his child gazed at the unlikely couple and remarked, during a documentary about the pair, “If two very different creatures get along like this, then why cannot Iraqis and the British, Americans, Palestinians, the Israelis not get on?”

Or as Dr. Haraway, put it: “In a situation in which terrorism is cultivated from every angle and we are taught to fear practically everything, why should anybody be surprised that there’s a profound desire for the pleasures of the peaceable kingdom?”"
animals  friendship  2015  interspecies  multispecies  ericagoode  relationships  donnaharaway  dogs  pets  via:tealtan  marcbekoff  konradlorenz  barbarasmuts  anthropology  barbaraking  craigpacker  janetrose-hinostroza 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The All and Nothing of Teaching | Diana Senechal
"This part strikes me as presumptuous. Yes, it is true that teachers who look inward are better equipped to solve daily problems than those who do not. But he assumes that it is the defective teachers who criticize the conditions and larger picture, whereas the effective teachers function well “under even under the most debilitating conditions of work” (as he says just a little later). He assumes, from the start, that the teacher who feels stress is deficient in some way. He states outright that teaching conditions simply are what they are and that good teachers work within them. He assumes that if you examine yourself and face your anger effectively, the stress of teaching will not take a toll. He disregards the possibility that introspection of this kind can make your work even more taxing, as you end up pondering problems, humbling yourself, admitting to your faults (even when they involved no “impulsive negative behavior” or anything close) and thinking about your work all around the clock.

But even those are not my main objection. Running through his argument is an assumption that teachers deserve nothing but must give fully of themselves. He does not consider that you can be a highly dedicated teacher, you can love your work, yet you might ask at some point, “when do I get to live as myself again?”

I have never had a job that I loved as deeply as teaching. Yet as a teacher I miss some basic things sorely. One of these is friendship. Over time, it has become more and more difficult to get together with friends; I almost always have something due the next day, have my mind on school, and can’t handle the complex process of finding a time to meet. (In New York City, it is not uncommon to make a phone appointment for the purpose of setting a time to get together: “Give me a call next Thursday, and then we can work out a plan.”) From my perspective, I have made many efforts to stay in touch, but the very problem lies in that phrase “staying in touch.” Friendship has a rhythm. Once the rhythm is broken down, it can be difficult to revive.

Friendships within the school are guarded and limited. Some colleagues may be potential friends, but you are usually in too much of a rush to say more than a quick hello. Students cannot be your friends; in fact, your responsibility is to build respectful and bounded rapport with them within the work you undertake together. As for parents, you may feel affinity toward them, but there’s a boundary, for understandable reasons.

I also miss the freedom of expression and reception that I had before becoming a teacher. I didn’t have to worry about what would happen if students came upon my writing and music (or, for that matter, favorite books and records). There’s no offensive material in there, but it hasn’t been pre-screened for teenagers, either. As a teacher, I have come to pre-screen everything I say and do, sometimes without realizing it. I rarely read a book that I am not planning to include in a lesson. I miss reading Philip Roth, for instance, or watching Godard films.

On the other hand, there are things I could not have done except as a teacher. CONTRARIWISE may be the most rewarding project of my life. I see the students taking off with it, defining it, making it more than I originally imagined, yet I help see this through and work on it day after day. The philosophy teaching itself has been an extraordinary experience: writing a curriculum, putting it into practice, dealing with many challenges, and seeing it take shape and grow in meaning. The Philosophy Roundtables have been delightful and moving. The last one (about the philosophy of humor) was one of my favorites, but each one carries a distinct memory.

So, there are no regrets, and I am in no rush, but I am starting to look beyond teaching. No situation is perfect, but certain combinations work better than others. This has nothing to do with bitterness, frustration, or inability to reach goals. It has more to do with wanting to do certain things that don’t fit in the teaching persona. What Haberman fails to acknowledge is that this persona cloaks a life; the thicker the introspection, the greater the weight of the cloth."
teachers  teaching  dianasenechal  friendship  2014  self  expression  self-expression  selflessness  burnout  introspection  self-care 
january 2015 by robertogreco
infed.org | Nel Noddings, the ethics of care and education
[See also: http://infed.org/mobi/caring-in-education/
http://infed.org/mobi/friendship-and-education/

"Nel Noddings, the ethics of care and education, Nel Noddings is well known for her work around the ethics of caring, however, she has also added significantly to theory and practice more broadly in education. Here we explore her contribution."



"Caring

Nel Noddings is closely identified with the promotion of the ethics of care, – the argument that caring should be a foundation for ethical decision-making. Her first major work Caring (1984) explored what she described as a ‘feminine approach to ethics and moral education’.Her argument starts from the position that care is basic in human life – that all people want to be cared for (Noddings 2002: 11). She also starts from the position that while men and women are guided by an ethic of care, ‘natural’ caring – ‘a form of caring that does not require an ethical effort to motivate it (although it may require considerable physical and mental effort in responding to needs)’ can have a significant basis in women’s experience (ibid.: 2). ‘Natural caring’, thus, is a moral attitude – ‘a longing for goodness that arises out of the experience or memory of being cared for’ (Flinders 2001: 211). On this basis Nel Noddings explores the notion of ethical caring – ‘a state of being in relation, characterized by receptivity, relatedness and engrossment’ (op. cit.).

Sympathy

What caring actually means and entails is not that easy to establish. Nel Noddings’ approach is to examine how caring is actually experienced (what we might describe as a phenomenological analysis). She asks “what are we like” when we engage in caring encounters? ‘Perhaps the first thing we discover about ourselves’, she continues, ‘is that we are receptive; we are attentive in a special way’ (Noddings 2002: 13). This attention shares some similarities with what Carl Rogers describes as ‘empathy’ (see Carl Rogers. core conditions and education). However, Noddings is cautious as ‘empathy’ is ‘peculiarly western and masculine’ in its Western usage (op. cit.). Instead she prefers to talk about ‘sympathy’ – feeling with – as more nearly capturing ‘the affective state of attention in caring’ (ibid.: 14).

Receptive attention is an essential characteristic of a caring encounter. The carer is open to what the cared-for is saying and might be experiencing and is able to reflect upon it. However, there is also something else here – motivational displacement. In other words, the carer’s ‘motive energy’ flows towards the ‘cared-for’. The carer thus responds to the cared-for in ways that are, hopefully, helpful. For this to be called ‘caring’ a further step is required – there must also be some recognition on the part of the cared-for that an act of caring has occurred. Caring involves connection between the carer and the cared-for and a degree of reciprocity; that is to say that both gain from the encounter in different ways and both give.

A caring encounter, thus, has three elements according to Nel Noddings:

1. A cares for B – that is A’s consciousness is characterized by attention and motivational displacement – and
2. A performs some act in accordance with (1), and
4. B recognizes that A cares for B. (Noddings 2002: 19)

We could say that a caring person ‘is one who fairly regularly establishes caring relations and, when appropriate maintains them over time’ (op, cit.).

Caring-about and caring-for

Nel Noddings helpfully, also, highlights the distinction between caring-for and caring-about. Thus far, we have been looking largely at caring-for – face-to-face encounters in which one person cares directly for another. Caring-about is something more general – and takes us more into the public realm. We may be concerned about the suffering of those in poor countries and wish to do something about it (such as giving to a development charity). As Noddings initially put it, caring-about involves ‘a certain benign neglect’. She continued, ‘One is attentive just so far. One assents with just so much enthusiasm. One acknowledges. One affirms. One contributes five dollars and goes on to other things’ (Noddings 1984: 112). However, in her later works Nel Noddings has argued that caring-about needs more attention. We learn first what it means to be cared-for. ‘Then, gradually, we learn both to care for and, by extension, to care about others’ (Noddings 2002: 22). This caring-about, Noddings argues, is almost certainly the foundation for our sense of justice.
The key, central to care theory, is this: caring-about (or, perhaps a sense of justice) must be seen as instrumental in establishing the conditions under which caring-for can flourish. Although the preferred form of caring is cared-for, caring-about can help in establishing, maintaining, and enhancing it. Those who care about others in the justice sense must keep in mind that the objective is to ensure that caring actually occurs. Caring-about is empty if it does not culminate in caring relations. (Noddings 2002: 23-4)
From this we can see that caring-about is a significant force in society. As well as being an important feature of our sense of justice, it also contributes to the cultivation of social capital. We learn to care-about, according to Nel Noddings, through our experience of being cared-for. Instead of starting with an ideal state or republic, care theory starts with an ideal home and moves outward – ‘learning first what it means to be cared for, then to care for intimate others, and finally to care about those we cannot care for directly’ (Noddings 2002: 31).

Caring, schooling and education

Nel Noddings sees education (in its widest sense) as being central to the cultivation of caring in society. She defines education as ‘a constellation of encounters, both planned and unplanned, that promote growth through the acquisition of knowledge, skills, understanding and appreciation’ (Noddings 2002: 283). Given the above, it is not surprising that she places a special emphasis on the home as a site for educational encounter. Indeed, she views the home as the primary educator and argues for the re-orientation of social policy to this end. This is not to sideline the role of schools but simply to recognize just what the home contributes to the development of children and young people.

As soon as we view the home as the primary educator two major things follow in terms of social policy. These are that first, every child should ‘live in a home that has at least adequate material resources and attentive love; and second, that schools should include education for home life in their curriculum’ (Noddings 2002: 289). Both of these recommendations have far reaching consequences. For example, in the case of the first, while some governments have attempted to ensure that there are something like adequate material resources in homes where there are children, there is little evidence of policymakers seriously grappling with how attentive love might be fostered. Similarly, the question of education for home life is not normally addressed in anything like an adequate form. Indeed, the whole orientation of schooling systems in most ‘advanced capitalist’ countries is toward skilling for the needs of business and the economy. Some attention is paid to personal, social and life education – but it generally remains woefully inadequate when set against the demands of care theory. A further significant element here is the direction of a great deal of educational philosophy and theory. For example, John Dewey talks about education in terms of preparation for ‘public life’. While it is possible to see what place education for home life might have in this (and the extent to which caring-for is linked to the cultivation of caring-about) the way in which education is often discussed in terms of public life can be seen as not taking full account of what might be needed for personal flourishing.

A third element can also be seen as following from viewing the home as the primary educator, that ‘schools should, as far as possible, use the sort of methods found in best homes to educate’ (Noddings 2002: 289). This has far reaching consequences and takes us into the arena of informal education – and the appreciation and facility to move beyond understandings of education that are centred around notions such as curriculum into more conversational and incidental forms."



"Caring and reciprocity. Some might view the emphasis on caring (especially in the context of formal education) as both presenting a range of potential conflicts with professional frames of reference and as possibly patronizing. In the case of the former, there has been a general movement away from more affective and expressive language to describe the tasks that teachers and other welfare professionals undertake. A parallel example here has been the retreat from the language of friendship in education. In significant part such issues come down to the context in which the frame of reference is formed. What is ‘professional’ in one context may not be viewed as such in another – and this is rather more a matter of political and philosophical orientation than of anything intrinsically problematic about the notion of care. As to the latter – the charge of ‘caring’ being potentially patronizing or one-sided in its experience – Nel Noddings answers this by placing a strong emphasis, as we have seen, on reciprocity. This means that caring is a relation involving dialogue and exchange. Both can learn and gain from the experience; both can appeal to principle. However, this focus on reciprocity is far from simple. As David J. Finders (2001: 211) has pointed out, in unequal relationships (such as student-teacher) things can become complex. ‘Issues of time, intensity and situational variations also have to be worked out, as do questions of … [more]
nelnoddings  education  schools  teaching  pedagogy  care  caring  ethics  howweteach  learning  schooling  attention  empathy  society  modeling  dialog  practice  praxis  reciprocity  professionalism  friendship 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Transcendent dandyism – The art of dolce far niente – Albert Cossery and escape artistry | Lebenskünstler
"Extreme Indolence: On the Fiction of Albert Cossery [http://www.thenation.com/article/168020/extreme-indolence-fiction-albert-cossery ]

"…A novelist who made a cult of laziness, he had no qualms about taking it easy when it came to literary invention—“The same idea is in all my books; I shape it differently,” he once said…



Cossery’s heroes are usually dandies and thieves, unfettered by possessions or obligations; impoverished but aristocratic idlers who can suck the marrow of joy from the meager bones life tosses their way. They are the descendants of Baudelaire’s flâneur, of the Surrealists with their rejection of the sacrosanct work ethic, of the Situationists and their street-theater shenanigans, not to mention the peripatetic Beats or the countercultural “dropouts” of the 1960s. Henry Miller, who raised dolce far niente to an art form, praised Cossery’s writing as “rare, exotic, haunting, unique.” Whether Cossery’s merry pranksters wish merely to have a good time or, as in The Jokers, to wage an all-out campaign of raillery against the powers that be, there is one belief they all share: the only true recourse against a world governed by “scoundrels” is an utter disregard for convention, including the convention of taking anything seriously.



…The proud beggars in this story are Gohar, who has abandoned a professorship to live on the fringe as a street philosopher and bookkeeper in a brothel; Gohar’s protégé, the poet and drug dealer Yeghen, who tries to live his life as if it were itself a poem; and El Kordi, a revolutionary sympathizer chafing against his dead-end job as a government clerk.

…"

Albert Cossery and the Political Subversion of the Transcendent Dandy [http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/114238/albert-cossery-and-the-political-subversion-of-the-transcendent-dandy/ ]

"The Egyptian-French novelist Albert Cossery was a philosophical and aesthetic dandy who loathed the idea of work, celebrated underground movements and ideas, and absolutely detested power. He was the dandy as a political subversive—an idea that must be resurrected.



Cossery, in a sense, is something of the offspring of the Surrealist Jacques Vache, a self-described “umourist” who revelled in doing nothing at all. An artist who decided not to create art, a poet who decided not to write poetry, all in an effort to prove that creation of works is counter-intuitive to the true artist, who must live the art and not leave evidence or relics as proof of genius.



Governments are, in fact, quite terrified of this sort of philosophical dandyism—of the aggregate of individuals who subvert by gleefully doing nothing.



And so it is the politically subversive dandy—the transcendent dandy—who is best-equipped to lead a new politically-subversive movement, where a panoply of ideas merge like a kaleidoscope. The dandy understands the absurdity of power and the various ways to subvert, ignore and transcend it, without resorting to violent means.

Dandyism, at its core, is political subversion, and Albert Cossery was nothing if not a dandy. And it was the dandies, the forgotten and ignored whom Cossery celebrated in his novels.



…Characters opt to withdraw from any idea of a career. To recognize the absurdity of joining power in its game (government) and staying as far away from it as possible. To know that love—for friends, fuck buddies, boyfriends, girlfriends—was all and that it was untouchable, transcendent.

We need a new era of dandyism, of subversives. We need a new counter-culture.

The dandy as imagined by Cossery has time to think and enjoy life. Idleness is not only a virtue for Cossery and his characters, it is elevated to the natural state of being—a rejection of the unnatural tethers which are fixed to our bodies as soon as we escape the womb: the classroom, the cubicle, the wage, the dollar, rent, and so forth."

[See also: http://randallszott.org/2014/09/29/loving-those-that-god-forgets-albert-cossery-idleness-is-more-than-a-way-of-life/
http://randallszott.org/2014/09/29/how-to-stop-time-toward-a-politics-of-the-unprolific-eternal-life-for-the-lazy/ ]
albertcossery  randallszott  2014  dandies  dandyism  idleness  counterculture  subversion  subversives  power  art  poetry  writing  wageslaevery  wages  oppression  classrooms  education  schools  unschooling  deschooling  cv  rent  careers  governement  love  friendship  transcendence  politics  nonviolence  philosophy  nothing  trickster  laziness  classroom 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Matt Hern: Vancouver: Spaces of Exclusion and Contestation - YouTube
"Matt Hern's presentation in Session 1, "Spaces of Exclusion and Contestation," in the symposium, "Planning the Vancouver Metropolitan Region: A Critical Perspective," presented by the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), April 15-16, 2014."
matthern  urban  urbanism  2014  portland  oregon  vancouver  britishcolumbia  gentrification  exclusion  contestation  cities  communitygardens  bikelanes  displacement  communities  communityorganizing  purplethistle  groundswell  housing  capitalism  latecapitalism  predatorycapitalism  inequality  politics  policy  colonialism  dispossession  colonization  commons  occupation  density  urbanplanning  planning  solidarity  development  arrogance  difference  hospitality  generosity  friendship  activism 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 69, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"When García Márquez speaks, his body often rocks back and forth. His hands too are often in motion making small but decisive gestures to emphasize a point, or to indicate a shift of direction in his thinking. He alternates between leaning forward towards his listener, and sitting far back with his legs crossed when speaking reflectively."



INTERVIEWER How do you feel about using the tape recorder?

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ The problem is that the moment you know the interview is being taped, your attitude changes. In my case I immediately take a defensive attitude. As a journalist, I feel that we still haven’t learned how to use a tape recorder to do an interview. The best way, I feel, is to have a long conversation without the journalist taking any notes. Then afterward he should reminisce about the conversation and write it down as an impression of what he felt, not necessarily using the exact words expressed. Another useful method is to take notes and then interpret them with a certain loyalty to the person interviewed. What ticks you off about the tape recording everything is that it is not loyal to the person who is being interviewed, because it even records and remembers when you make an ass of yourself. That’s why when there is a tape recorder, I am conscious that I’m being interviewed; when there isn’t a tape recorder, I talk in an unconscious and completely natural way.



GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ I’ve always been convinced that my true profession is that of a journalist. What I didn’t like about journalism before were the working conditions. Besides, I had to condition my thoughts and ideas to the interests of the newspaper. Now, after having worked as a novelist, and having achieved financial independence as a novelist, I can really choose the themes that interest me and correspond to my ideas. In any case, I always very much enjoy the chance of doing a great piece of journalism.



INTERVIEWER Do you think the novel can do certain things that journalism can’t?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same. The Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is a great novel and Hiroshima is a great work of journalism.

INTERVIEWER Do the journalist and the novelist have different responsibilities in balancing truth versus the imagination?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.



INTERVIEWER How did you start writing?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ By drawing. By drawing cartoons. Before I could read or write I used to draw comics at school and at home. The funny thing is that I now realize that when I was in high school I had the reputation of being a writer, though I never in fact wrote anything. If there was a pamphlet to be written or a letter of petition, I was the one to do it because I was supposedly the writer. When I entered college I happened to have a very good literary background in general, considerably above the average of my friends. At the university in Bogotá, I started making new friends and acquaintances, who introduced me to contemporary writers. One night a friend lent me a book of short stories by Franz Kafka. I went back to the pension where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off the bed. I was so surprised. The first line reads, “As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. . . .” When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago. So I immediately started writing short stories. They are totally intellectual short stories because I was writing them on the basis of my literary experience and had not yet found the link between literature and life. The stories were published in the literary supplement of the newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá and they did have a certain success at the time—probably because nobody in Colombia was writing intellectual short stories. What was being written then was mostly about life in the countryside and social life. When I wrote my first short stories I was told they had Joycean influences.



INTERVIEWER Can you name some of your early influences?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ The people who really helped me to get rid of my intellectual attitude towards the short story were the writers of the American Lost Generation. I realized that their literature had a relationship with life that my short stories didn’t. And then an event took place which was very important with respect to this attitude. It was the Bogotazo, on the ninth of April, 1948, when a political leader, Gaitan, was shot and the people of Bogotá went raving mad in the streets. I was in my pension ready to have lunch when I heard the news. I ran towards the place, but Gaitan had just been put into a taxi and was being taken to a hospital. On my way back to the pension, the people had already taken to the streets and they were demonstrating, looting stores and burning buildings. I joined them. That afternoon and evening, I became aware of the kind of country I was living in, and how little my short stories had to do with any of that. When I was later forced to go back to Barranquilla on the Caribbean, where I had spent my childhood, I realized that that was the type of life I had lived, knew, and wanted to write about.

Around 1950 or ’51 another event happened that influenced my literary tendencies. My mother asked me to accompany her to Aracataca, where I was born, and to sell the house where I spent my first years. When I got there it was at first quite shocking because I was now twenty-two and hadn’t been there since the age of eight. Nothing had really changed, but I felt that I wasn’t really looking at the village, but I was experiencing it as if I were reading it. It was as if everything I saw had already been written, and all I had to do was to sit down and copy what was already there and what I was just reading. For all practical purposes everything had evolved into literature: the houses, the people, and the memories. I’m not sure whether I had already read Faulkner or not, but I know now that only a technique like Faulkner’s could have enabled me to write down what I was seeing. The atmosphere, the decadence, the heat in the village were roughly the same as what I had felt in Faulkner. It was a banana-plantation region inhabited by a lot of Americans from the fruit companies which gave it the same sort of atmosphere I had found in the writers of the Deep South. Critics have spoken of the literary influence of Faulkner, but I see it as a coincidence: I had simply found material that had to be dealt with in the same way that Faulkner had treated similar material.

From that trip to the village I came back to write Leaf Storm, my first novel. What really happened to me in that trip to Aracataca was that I realized that everything that had occurred in my childhood had a literary value that I was only now appreciating. From the moment I wrote Leaf Storm I realized I wanted to be a writer and that nobody could stop me and that the only thing left for me to do was to try to be the best writer in the world. That was in 1953, but it wasn’t until 1967 that I got my first royalties after having written five of my eight books.



INTERVIEWER What about the banana fever in One Hundred Years of Solitude? How much of that is based on what the United Fruit Company did?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ The banana fever is modeled closely on reality. Of course, I’ve used literary tricks on things which have not been proved historically. For example, the massacre in the square is completely true, but while I wrote it on the basis of testimony and documents, it was never known exactly how many people were killed. I used the figure three thousand, which is obviously an exaggeration. But one of my childhood memories was watching a very, very long train leave the plantation supposedly full of bananas. There could have been three thousand dead on it, eventually to be dumped in the sea. What’s really surprising is that now they speak very naturally in the Congress and the newspapers about the “three thousand dead.” I suspect that half of all our history is made in this fashion. In The Autumn of the Patriarch, the dictator says it doesn’t matter if it’s not true now, because sometime in the future it will be true. Sooner or later people believe writers rather than the government.

INTERVIEWER That makes the writer pretty powerful, doesn’t it?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ Yes, and I can feel it too. It gives me a great sense of responsibility. What I would really like to do is a piece of journalism which is completely true and real, but which sounds as fantastic as One Hundred Years of Solitude. The more I live and remember things from the past, the more I think that literature and journalism are closely related.



INTERVIEWER Are dreams ever important as a source of inspiration?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ In the very beginning I paid a good deal of attention to them. But then I realized that life itself is the greatest source of inspiration and that dreams are only a very small part of that torrent that is life. What is very true about my writing is that I’m quite interested in different concepts of dreams and interpretations of them. I see dreams as part of life in general, but reality is much richer. But maybe I just have very poor dreams.

INTERVIEWER Can you distinguish between inspiration and intuition?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ Inspiration is when you find the right theme, one which you really like; that makes the work much easier. Intuition, which is … [more]
gabrielgarcíamárquez  1981  interviews  colombia  writing  journalism  truth  reality  fiction  literature  latinamerica  drawing  kafka  jamesjoyce  stories  storytelling  everyday  williamfaulkner  imagination  biography  autobiography  politics  childhood  fantasy  magicrealism  credibility  detail  details  belief  believability  responsibility  history  bricolage  collage  power  solitude  flow  dreams  dreaming  inspiration  intuition  intellectualism  translation  mexico  spanish  español  gregoryrabassa  borders  frontiers  miguelángelasturias  cuba  fame  friendship  film  filmmaking  relationships  consumption  language  languages  reading  howweread  howwewrite  routine  familiarity  habits 
april 2014 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Etel Adnan by Lisa Robertson
"EA: … Galleries wait for artists to be recognized and then they all solicit the same ones. That happened to me, but I had to say no, because I can’t produce. I can paint, but I can’t produce. I always have done that, even when I was younger. Visual art is big industry; lots of money moves around, which is okay, it’s vital. But it’s also a bit of a heartbreak—I wish this had happened, let’s say, twenty years ago. It’s a nice feeling to have your work appreciated, but it’s almost a fashion for women to be recognized late in life. Agnes Martin, for example. It’s a trend, but we hope it will change."



"LR I’ve been rereading your books in the past two weeks, three or four of them. I read this beautiful line in Seasons this morning: “Women are keepers of their own story therefore they are historians.” I put that in relation to images in your work. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about images—about how the image works in Baudelaire, for example. It’s not only a visual or optical event, it’s happening across all the senses. It’s a poly-sensual perceiving.

EA Yes!


LR So I have two questions. One is about the relationship between the image in poetry and the image in painting, and the other one, which might not be related to the first, is about women’s images. In an interview with Steve McQueen in The Guardian about his film Twelve Years a Slave, he said, “Some images have never been seen before. I needed to see them.” It resonated for me in relationship to your work. You are making images that have not been seen. Some of that might have to do with the fact that you are making women’s images. Do you feel that?

EA Until now at least, a woman’s life, her psyche . . . we don’t like the word essence anymore. As women, of course, we are different from each other as people, but we are also different from men. Or we have been up until now. So we have our own images. We’ve had little girls’ lives, so we carry that. When I grew up in Beirut, there weren’t many sports for boys or girls, but certainly girls were aware of being little girls, of being in. This idea of the outside and the inside works very strongly in women’s lives. In fact, women are rooted somewhere, they are stronger physically. Women are containers—the baby is in their belly; making love is receiving. This container contains hearts and stomachs. Images are, in one way, what we receive, but they are also the tools with which we think. To make images, you think with them, somehow. You mentioned Baudelaire. For Baudelaire, images work not like shapes, but like ideas made visible. He was particularly interested in the encounter between what we call the inner world and the outer world. And poetry deals magnificently with that. It is one of the major definitions of poetry. It addresses that relationship between what we call the subject and the object, which melt in what we call consciousness. Sometimes we transcribe this state of mind into words and call it a poem or a text. The same is true for the other arts. Writing is a very mysterious activity. When you write, you say things that would not have occurred to your mind otherwise. I don’t know if the fact that we don’t use paper and ink anymore affects writing. On a computer it’s a new situation.

LR Do you write on a computer?

EA My poetry is not long. I write in little paragraphs and they pile up, so I do it by hand. But I am more and more obligated to answer letters or emails, so then I use a computer. But to go back to what an image is—

LR That’s my real question. (laughter)


Afternoon Poem, 1968, ink and watercolor on paper, 8 1/2 × 96 inches.
EA For example, I look at this table in front of me. Somebody over there, however, may look at it and not see it. Seeing is an activity; it is not passive.

LR The last sentence I read before I got off the metro on my way here was, “Behind an image there’s the image.”

EA There are layers of images—that’s what I meant, very simply. There is thickness. Vision is multidimensional and simultaneous. You can think, see, see beyond: you can do all these things at the same time. Your psyche, your brain catches up. Some people today say that an image is not necessarily a clear figuration of something; it could be like a blurred abstract drawing, like a sliding door.

LR An event in perceiving.

EA Yes, an event. It is a speed that you catch. Images are not still. They are moving things. They come, they go, they disappear, they approach, they recede, and they are not even visual—ultimately they are pure feeling. They’re like something that calls you through a fog or a cloud.

LR So they are immaterial, in a way.

EA That’s it! They are immaterial in essence. But they could be strongly defined, or they could be fleeting, almost like a ghost of things or of feelings going by. So the word image is very elastic. It’s a very rich concept. Although we are bombarded with images, our culture is anti-image. We think we don’t like it; it’s not fashionable. That is why Surrealism exists: it intends to amplify the image, to force us to see it. Andy Warhol understood that we are surrounded by so many things, and people, that we do not see them. We are rather blinded by them. So he forced our attention on soup cans and Marilyn Monroe.

On an other level, there are also different clarities. Some things are not meant to be clear; obscurity is their clarity. We should not underestimate obscurity. Obscurity is as rich as luminosity."



"EA I went to Catholic schools all my life. There were no other schools in Lebanon. We had religion around all the time. I’m lucky—I never believed in catechism or any of that. I was always a dissident without effort, at a distance from all the things the nuns were saying. I never liked saints. What touched me was their speaking of revelation, even the word itself. That always made sense to me. We owe life to the existence of the sun; therefore light is a very profound part of our makeup. It’s spiritual, in the way that even DNA is spiritual. What we call “spirit” is energy. It’s the definition of life, in one sense. Light, as an object, as a phenomenon, is magnificent. I am talking to you and the light coming in through the window has already changed. You go on the street and you look at the sky and it tells you what time it is. We are dealing with it constantly, and obscurity is also maybe its own light, because it shows you things. Obscurity is not lack of light. It is a different manifestation of light. It has its own illumination."



"LR One of the things I really appreciate in your poems is this very quick and subtle shift of register in the language. So many different idiolects enter into the stanzas or paragraphs that you write, which I actually think of as images in the way we were discussing.

EA What do you mean by “idiolects”?

LR Well, extreme colloquialisms right up against much more subtle, highly literary language.

EA Oh, I don’t realize that I’m doing that. That’s not a decision. I write as things come to my mind, maybe because I love philosophy, but I don’t love theory. There is a big difference. Not that I don’t respect theory, but I am incapable of writing it or even reading it."



"LR That is a beautiful book.

EA Howe manages to show how you should read a writer. The writer is unique, but is also part of a context. You can only approximate what a writer might have said. Philosophy is freer now, and for that reason Heidegger could say that the great philosophers were the poets. That a real, trained philosopher like Heidegger would come to that is very important to poets. Poets were afraid to think and philosophers were afraid to let go, to let loose and speak of themselves as part of their thinking. This boundary has been broken down. I love contemporary poetry because it moves between what we call poetry and what we call philosophy. It joins these fields and makes writing more natural, as in how it is lived in the person. We don’t separate thinking from feeling in real life, so why should we separate it in writing? The life of the mind is one and the boundaries and the categories are useful tools. We made them realities, but they are not realities—they are only tools, categories.

This existed before. In Hölderlin, for example, there is a lot of Romantic German thinking. I’d say Ezra Pound is more of a philosopher than we realize. There is a great presence of thinking in his poetry. Of course there is thinking when you write, but I mean thinking as such—

LR Approaching a problem.

EA That’s it! I find it in Pound. And there is political thinking in Charles Olson, whom I like very much. There is what they call proprioception, which comes very close to thinking—in Robert Creeley, for instance."



"LR The love of the world?

EA Yes. I don’t call it “nature”; I call it “the world.”

LR Well, what is the difference between them?

EA It’s historical. By nature we always mean landscapes. Language! The world is really the word; it’s the fact that it is.

LR Its isness.

EA It is and I love that. It distracted me from other forms of love. At the end of my life, I realize that the love of a person is a key to the world. Nothing matters more. To love a person in particular is the most difficult form of love, because it involves somebody else’s freedom. That is where misunderstandings come in; two people don’t have necessarily the same timing. You may love books and you may love paintings. They have their own technical difficulties, you fight with them, but you are the master of that fight.

LR Are you talking about time and timing? I mean, if you love a book or a painting, it’s more or less stable.

EA At least you are on top; it depends more on you. But a person has priorities, his or her problems, his or her character—you can’t control that and you don’t want to anyway. I mean, your freedom … [more]
eteladnan  lisarobertson  interviews  2014  obscurity  writing  light  art  gender  women  shadows  night  nighttime  joannekyger  philosophy  canon  idiolects  colloquialisms  language  literature  poetry  poems  susanhowe  nietzsche  heidegger  nature  balzac  baudelaire  love  friendship  time  timing  relationships  invention  making  images  thinking  howwethink  howwework  howwewrite  posthumanism  beirut  lebanon  paris  berkeley  ucberkeley 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Share This With All the Schools, Please | Momastery
"Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who doesn’t even know who to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine."
groupdynamics  teaching  glennonmelton  howweteach  children  bullying  seatingcharts  2014  friendship  citizenship  socialemotional  loneliness  sociallife  socialemotionallearning 
february 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Don’t be a stranger
"Even today, I’ve met some of my best friends on Twitter, which is infinitely better at connecting strangers than Facebook. Unlike the almost gothic obsession of Catfish’s online lovers, these friendships aren’t exclusively online — we meet up sometimes to talk about the internet in real life. They are not carried out in a delusional swoon, or by trivial status updates.

These are not brilliant Wordsworth-and-Coleridge type soul-meldings, but they are not some shadow of a “real” friendship. Internet friendship yields a connection that is self-consciously pointless and pointed at the same time: Out of all of the millions of bullshitters on the World Wide Web, we somehow found each other, liked each other enough to bullshit together, and built our own Fortress of Bullshit. The majority of my interactions with online friends is perpetuating some in-joke so arcane that nobody remembers how it started or what it actually means. Perhaps that proves the op-ed writers’ point, but this has been the pattern of my friendships since long before I first logged onto AOL, and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

[Originally published here: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/dont-be-a-stranger/ ]
culture  friendship  relationships  cv  twitter  adrianchen  2014  facebook  inmyexperience  internet  online 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed | Music News | Rolling Stone
"Like many couples, we each constructed ways to be – strategies, and sometimes compromises, that would enable us to be part of a pair. Sometimes we lost a bit more than we were able to give, or gave up way too much, or felt abandoned. Sometimes we got really angry. But even when I was mad, I was never bored. We learned to forgive each other. And somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together."



"Last spring, at the last minute, he received a liver transplant, which seemed to work perfectly, and he almost instantly regained his health and energy. Then that, too, began to fail, and there was no way out. But when the doctor said, "That's it. We have no more options," the only part of that Lou heard was "options" – he didn't give up until the last half-hour of his life, when he suddenly accepted it – all at once and completely. We were at home – I'd gotten him out of the hospital a few days before – and even though he was extremely weak, he insisted on going out into the bright morning light.

As meditators, we had prepared for this – how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

At the moment, I have only the greatest happiness and I am so proud of the way he lived and died, of his incredible power and grace.

I'm sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives."
laurieanderson  loureed  partnership  companionship  marriage  life  wisdom  love  forgiveness  emotions  friendship  2013  sadness  living  happiness  grace  death  obituaries 
november 2013 by robertogreco
POSZU :: The Chastised Generation
"But Generation wasn't coddled as a child. Generation isn't weak and stupid. Generation doesn't exist.

There is no such thing as a generation, any more than there is such thing as a particular decade or a century. These are named spans of time, invented by language, named by society, and given laudable or ugly characteristics as any particular person sees fit. There is no Generation that is any particular way. There is only the Dads, and the Moms as well, who have birthed this epochal child for the sole purpose of beating it.

These self-appointed authorities and guardians of the social state are nothing more than the local cultural chamber of commerce. They have one goal—to produce statements of blanket condemnation against any social practice they deem anathema to their own existence. They are conservative by definition, because the systems they seek to maintain are always past-tense, defended against the present-tense. They sit on the throne of accomplishment and are willing to hand down advice, just so long as this advice could not in anyway compromise the legs of their own chair. They are a country club of Yes-Men surrounded by mirrors. And the youth are blocking their light.

Dad and Mom remind Generation of this in every one of their screaming fights. In their threats, whether spoken or implicit, about kicking Generation out of the house or taking it off the family health care plan. There is the constant reminder: you are not doing as well as we did, and so you have failed. This non-existent Generation hears this loud and clear, and solidifies a little more.

And so Generation starts going out at night, to get this existence out of the way, to avoid being in the way. Staying out of the house, hanging out in groups around the mall and the convenience store, Generation gets up to no good. Generation is chased by the cops down the street. Maybe Generation gets away, maybe it doesn't. Maybe Generation is part of a gang, or maybe it isn't."



"But parenting is the precisely the mistake, because there are no parents, and there are no children. Humans are born helpless, unable to move or feed. We require nurturing, or we would die. But the point at which humans can move and feed on their own comes quickly. Within a few years a human can care for its own body. And yet, we continue parenting for another ten, fifteen, twenty years, or longer.

Humans don't need parents. They don't need to be a Generation. They don't need the discipline of their so-called elders and betters, that is disguised as “care”. All of this “care” that we're given! It is unasked for, un-refuseable, unmistakable in its animosity.

Generation has been so coddled! It has had every advantage! So many times have the Dads and the Moms tried to drag up Generation into this more authentic state of humanity known as adulthood, with the reverse-mortgage known as “care”. They give it the best schools, the best food, the best medicine, and the most just punishment. What sort of brat would reject these privileges?

But what is the “care”? It is insult upon insult. It is punishment as a reversal of love. Generation is not so much the Coddled, as it is the Chastised Generation.

Look at what they say about Generation. From the time that it could read, the editorial pages are full of maligning text screaming Generation's name, telling it exactly what is wrong about it. This is a textbook of love, a required text that it must buy for hundreds of dollars each semester. And the teachers will make sure that Generation learns it by heart. Every child needs an education, and needs to know these canonical philosophies."



"Generation dozes off in class, exhausted after another night with no sleep. And what will it miss? Only more lessons about how real Generation is, and how real it's flaws are. A perspective on history that properly portrays the difference between adults and the youth, reinforces the rationale for care and this sort of education, and reminds Generation of what side it is on. As Generation grows up, it needs to be taught who the new Dads and Moms are, whether they are teachers, bosses, bureaucrats, or institutions.

But it doesn't need teachers, and it doesn't need authority. It doesn't need Dad and Mom for its emotional development. It don't need coddling, and it don't need care. What it actually need are allies. What it needs are equals. What it needs are friends. From its friends and equals, Generation can figure out how to be human, and how to collaboratively work with others. From its friends it can learn that it is not Generation at all—but merely billions of individuals. It can discover that all of these people don't owe anything to heritage, to progenitors, to the artificial categories that divide the Dads and Moms from the Generation. A friend is a human of the present-tense, a person of equals with no greater country club than every other human on the face of the earth. The real nurturing nature of this comradeship is what is beaten out of Generation with every fist, every class, every word, from the time it was taught to respond to its name.

We don't need to be a generation. We need to be allowed to become friends.

And this is what Generation realizes, out in the street one night, all night. And why is this night is different from all the other nights? Because on this night, the street is full of friends. And because there are so many friends, the streets are filling with police, the armed Dads and Moms of the State. They are here to dispense more care. There are too many friends here, too many equals, and so they must be made back into children and herded back to the classrooms and made to re-read the books. They beat and gas Generation with love, because Generation is acting out, and needs its punishment.

But suddenly, Generation can see this care for what it is. There is no Generation. There is only us."

[Also here: https://medium.com/p/385e3c13f2 ]
generations  youth  2013  canon  adamrothstein  policestate  patriarchy  cooperation  unschooling  deschooling  children  schooling  education  generationalwarfare  friendship  parenting  respect  generationy  millennials  history  tension  humans  human  conflict  conservatism 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Humans will befriend a stick — as long as it moves properly - Boing Boing
"Human emotions and social interaction have a lot to do with body language — how our faces express what we're thinking and feeling, how our gestures are read by other people, and how we invade (or retreat from) each other's personal space. In fact, those movements and behaviors are so important that, if you map them onto an otherwise completely non-human, non-animal form, we'll start interpreting it as engaging with us — even if that form is nothing more than a moving stick.

This video, clips from a study that was published in 2011 by computer scientists at the University of Calgary, shows what test subjects did and said when they were left alone in a room with a stick-like robot, and asked to just think out loud and interact with the robot in whatever ways felt natural. Some people made friends. Others tried to fight it. And a few tried to talk it out of wanting to fight them."

[Direct link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqPDenb6ByM ]
robots  psychology  behavior  johnharris  ehudsharlin  robotics  language  communication  friendship  social  socialinteraction  movement 
august 2013 by robertogreco
And You’re Still Dead | Razaniyyat – رزانيّــــات
"The last time I saw you it was in Damascus, Sarouja. I held you and told you: you know that you’re very dear to me, right?”. You held me back and smiled. You said nothing. When I first heard that you died, I thought about that scene so many times. I thought to myself “why didn’t he say anything back? wasn’t I dear to him too?” and I cried a lot Bassel, can you imagine? You died and that’s all what I thought about for first few minutes. Then she told me that you liked me a lot, you even defended me countless times and I had no idea. I had no idea.

Ever since you died and I am becoming this expressive person, “I love you,” is what I keep telling people. “I love you” in case something happened, so you would know how I felt towards you.

No one will read this long post, right? But it’s for you Bassel. Be patient with me, I still can’t believe you’re dead."
life  2012  relationships  memory  syria  expression  love  friendship  death  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Exit Interview with El Bulli's Ferran Adria: Restaurants + Bars: GQ
"My parents have always allowed me to explore and express myself. I never fought much with my parents. We had a great relationship. They gave me space to be myself. Being given space by my parents was really important for my creativity to develop, and it allowed us to have a great relationship."

"good friends, when they see something wrong, they let you know"

"It's hard for me to find the time to read a book. I'm more of a magazine person, mostly monthly magazines. I read magazines like they were books."

""I don't have a favorite cooking tool. In the kitchen, I always have my pencil and notebook in my hand. I cook more theoretically than I do practically. My job is creative, and in the kitchen, the biggest part of my creativity is theoretical.

The pencil has a symbolic meaning for me. The type of person who carries a pencil around is the type of person who's open to change. Someone who walks around with a pen isn't; he's the opposite. I always have a pencil with me, to the point where it forms a part of me. I write a lot during the day.""

"Airport waiting rooms are a place where I can be relaxed. I like spaces, spaces where I can be calm and think. I like airplanes, too, for the tranquility. If I'm on the beach, I'll read a book. I also love the movies. Sometimes I go see three movies in a row. It's one of those places where nobody bothers you."

"I'm not a materialist, I don't care for things… I live a simple life. The only luxuries I have in my life are travel and food."
elbulli  restaurants  practice  theory  airports  adaptability  change  via:litherland  chefs  cooking  howwework  magazines  reading  friendship  simplicity  cv  parenting  creativity  tools  pencils  materialism  interviews  2011  ferranadrià  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Heart Grows Smarter - NYTimes.com
"It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, “What goes right is more important than what goes wrong.” The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen.

In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives."

"Over the past half-century or so, American culture has become more attuned to the power of relationships. Masculinity has changed, at least a bit.

The so-called Flynn Effect describes the rise in measured I.Q. scores over the decades. Perhaps we could invent something called the Grant Effect, on the improvement of mass emotional intelligence over the decades. This gradual change might be one of the greatest contributors to progress and well-being that we’ve experienced in our lifetimes."
dependability  order  discipline  persistence  whatmatters  leadership  happiness  life  aging  georgevaillant  grantstudy  change  psychology  culture  2012  emotions  success  responsiveclassroom  response  socialemotionallearning  socialemotional  intimacy  friendship  mentorship  mentoring  mentors  emotionalintelligence  tcsnmy  relationships  davidbrooks 
november 2012 by robertogreco
One fine summer night in June 1933 I was sitting... - more than 95 theses
"One fine summer night in June 1933 I was sitting on a lawn after dinner with three colleagues, two women and one man. We liked each other well enough but we were certainly not intimate friends, nor had any one of us a sexual interest in another. Incidentally, we had not drunk any alcohol. We were talking casually about everyday matters when, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, something happened. I felt myself invaded by a power which, though I consented to it, was irresistible and certainly not mine. For the first time in my life I knew exactly — because, thanks to the power, I was doing it — what it means to love one’s neighbor as oneself. I was also certain, though the conversation continued to be perfectly ordinary, that my three colleagues were having the same experience. (In the case of one of them, I was later able to confirm this.) My personal feelings towards them were unchanged — they were still colleagues, not intimate friends — but I felt their existence as themselves to be of infinite value and rejoiced in it."
auden  via:lukeneff  love  friendship 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Aporia. Writing and lesser things by Mills Baker. Friendship.
"1. Before real friendship comes lucid self-awareness…

2. But we do not deserve the consolations of friendship if they are based on misrepresented or misunderstood expressions of selfhood…[or] secret needs…

3. Know yourself or know none, know nothing, disappear…high school as I remember it was mostly the exchange of blinded and unarticulated selves for approximations of friendship…

4. …it is necessary to be mercilessly ‘objective,’…with oneself: do not admit into evidence subjectively sympathetic excuses, do not contextualize one’s own actions with justificatory narratives…be endlessly ‘subjective,’ again so to speak, with others: imagine anything and everything one can to excuse them, explain them, understand and love them…

5. When I have been lonely, I have thought of myself subjectively and others objectively. This is the only real means to the self-pity which defines loneliness: to think of oneself as the world…

6. Friendship is something one exercises, like compassion; it is a solitary choice, requiring the approval or affection of no one at all. Every desire which seeks a psychological state as its result should be suspected of superficiality at least, but in the case of those who seek friendship as an antidote to loneliness, it is not merely a vice but a countermanding of what’s sought. One is not a friend, of course, when one’s friends are means to an end: means to escape solitude, tools rather than accomplices.

(To consider: “Friendship should be a gratuitous joy like those afforded by art or life.” What sort of joys are those? What does it mean that they’re gratuitous?)."
listening  understanding  grace  simoneweil  2012  wisdom  happiness  relationships  selflessness  love  highschool  loneliness  friendship  millsbaker  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
GDC 2012: Designing For Friendship - Chris Bell
And then there’s the relationship between us, the communication barrier that separates us, and the empathy that allows us to understand each other in spite of that.…

Both games I’ve helped design, "Journey" and "WAY", attempt to herd two strangers toward friendship. And both do it in similar and different ways.

But how do we do that? How do we design so friendship will emerge? And what is friendship really?…

What I’m interested in, is that spontaneous bond between strangers. I want to focus on online multiplayer that emphasizes shared goals, freedom of choice, anonymity, vulnerability, and communication.…

What were the seeds of my connections?…investment & responsibility…high stakes & real consequences…empathy…vulnerability…free choice…teaching…communication…

If the world isn’t valuing what we consider significant, we have the responsibility to create worlds that do.…

It’s what you choose to make that reveals who you are..."
worldbuilding  vulnerability  consequences  responsibility  investment  cv  tcsnmy  unschooling  freechoice  communication  empathy  japan  gamedesign  society  humanity  humanism  learning  teaching  2012  play  videogames  journey  gaming  games  design  via:kissane  chrisbell  friendship  way  waygame  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
naotumblring robertogreco {tumblr}: Me gustas cuando callas…
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

-Henri J.M. Nouwen
silence  pain  cures  powelessness  hanrinouwen  2012  caring  advice  listening  friendship  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Top five regrets of the dying | Life and style | guardian.co.uk
A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. …

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.


3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. …

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. …

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier."

[See also: http://bronnieware.com/regrets-of-the-dying/ and later http://www.paulgraham.com/todo.html

"Don't ignore your dreams; don't work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy."]
2012  philosophy  dying  relationships  expectations  happiness  yearoff2  yearoff  self  corage  friendship  balance  work  wisdom  living  life  death  bronnieware  regret  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Douglas Sloan – Insight-Imagination « Lebenskünstler
“An education in which skills, narrow intellect, and information have no connection with insight, imagination, feeling, beauty, conscience, and wonder and that systematically evades all engagement with the great, central issues and problems of human life, is a wasteland.”

[quoting David Bohm] “…insight is not restricted to great scientific discoveries or to artistic creations, but rather it is of critical importance in everything we do, especially in the affairs of ordinary life.”

“…chronological snobbery and temporal provincialism that so constrict the modern mind set.”

[and this especially on the academically 'gifted'] “Those who display the requisite intellectual skills are singled out as special for their proficiency in the use of an aspect of mind that has no intrinsic relationship to the art of living well as persons…Most have been ill equipped by their education to live well as persons, to find delight in friendship and love, in the joys of sound and touch and color…”
lcproject  insight  humanism  conscience  beauty  snobbery  academia  academics  gifted  deschooling  unschooling  friendship  love  wisdom  living  life  well-being  education  randallszott  douglassloan  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Able Parris - Moments: Ten Year Anniversary
"Below are some thoughts (in no particular order) on relationships and life in general:

Health is a luxury.
Enjoying life doesn’t require money.
You don’t have to own the house to dance naked in it.
Marry your best friend.
Treat every day special.
Be patient and listen.
Get rid of your television.
Make time for yourself, each of you.
Make time for your own friendships.
Take risks together.
Question everything.
It’s not easy to disagree with crowds, but you must think for yourself.
Photograph (or draw) everything.
Travel as much as possible.
Claim the mundane.
Listen more than you speak.
Music."
money  ownership  friendship  travel  companionship  risktaking  mundane  patience  listening  wisdom  life  time  health  relationships  2012  ableparris  marriage  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #97: You Have Arrived At The Fire - The Rumpus.net
"You have a right to know those people. You deserve to receive their kindness, camaraderie, and expertise. You don’t have to make the same choices your parents made for you. You get to have your real, giant, gorgeous life. As you so clearly articulated, your stutter is not what’s keeping you from that. Your ideas about what it means to have a stutter are. So you need to change them.

Nobody worth your attention gives a damn if you stutter. Write this down on pieces of paper and tape them all over your room. Put one in every pocket of all of your pants. Nobody worth my attention gives a damn if I stutter! They might blush when you stutter. They might awkwardly try to help you communicate. But not because they think you’ve got “one unforgivable thing.” They do that because they have a moment of surprise or discomfort, that in their desire to make you feel okay they don’t quite know what to do and some of them do the wrong thing."
relationships  attention  camaraderie  2012  whatmatters  friendship  kindness  acceptance  speech  identity  stuttering  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Cancer, 'Fixies' And Flickr Friendships : The Picture Show : NPR
"I still have never met Ezra in person, but I find it amazing. Amazing that in this age of compromised privacy and the collective angst we feel over sharing (or not sharing) and password protection, beautiful stories like Ezra's are out there, honest, raw and public — for all the world to see.

It makes me love the Internet even more. How it equalizes, democratizes, eulogizes and preserves some very wonderful things. Like eulogies that we can all write on our own.

That is a beautiful thing, my friends. I only wish my mother could have shared her own with the world, too."
online  web  internet  strangers  friendship  2011  flickr  relationships  cv  cancer  health  privacy  sharing  community  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
“There are some people who don’t wait.” Robert Krulwich on the future of journalism | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine
"So for this age, for your time, I want you to just think about this: Think about NOT waiting your turn.

Instead, think about getting together with friends that you admire, or envy. Think about entrepeneuring. Think about NOT waiting for a company to call you up. Think about not giving your heart to a bunch of adults you don’t know. Think about horizontal loyalty. Think about turning to people you already know, who are your friends, or friends of their friends and making something that makes sense to you together, that is as beautiful or as true as you can make it.

And when it comes to security, to protection, your friends may take better care of you than CBS took care of Charles Kuralt in the end. In every career, your job is to make and tell stories, of course. You will build a body of work, but you will also build a body of affection, with the people you’ve helped who’ve helped you back.

And maybe that’s your way into Troy."

[See also: http://snarkmarket.com/2011/6850 ]
education  technology  teaching  future  journalism  science  passion  doing  waiting  fear  risk  risktaking  entrepreneurship  robertkrulwich  making  notwaiting  unschooling  change  gamechanging  friendship  community  support  horizontal  horizontalloyalty  counterculture  hierarchy  2011  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
“There are some people who don’t wait.” Robert Krulwich on the future of journalism | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine
"So for this age, for your time, I want you to just think about this: Think about NOT waiting your turn.

Instead, think about getting together with friends that you admire, or envy. Think about entrepeneuring. Think about NOT waiting for a company to call you up. Think about not giving your heart to a bunch of adults you don’t know. Think about horizontal loyalty. Think about turning to people you already know, who are your friends, or friends of their friends and making something that makes sense to you together, that is as beautiful or as true as you can make it.

And when it comes to security, to protection, your friends may take better care of you than CBS took care of Charles Kuralt in the end. In every career, your job is to make and tell stories, of course. You will build a body of work, but you will also build a body of affection, with the people you’ve helped who’ve helped you back.

And maybe that’s your way into Troy."

[See also: http://snarkmarket.com/2011/6850 ]
education  technology  teaching  future  journalism  science  passion  doing  waiting  fear  risk  risktaking  entrepreneurship  robertkrulwich  making  notwaiting  unschooling  change  gamechanging  friendship  community  support  horizontal  horizontalloyalty  counterculture  hierarchy  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Humingyay — How To Be Friends With An Introvert
"1. If you must drag us to a party, please don’t abandon us…

2. If they actually call and wants to talk, listen!…

3. Realize that they do want to be alone sometimes. They may have gone to that party, and even enjoyed it, but they burn out faster than you and need time to recharge alone. The assumption that all introverts are shy really bugs me. This is not always the case. They can be charming, tell jokes, and generally be the life of the party…but for a limited time only.

4. Skip the small talk. Introverts are reflective beings and enjoy conversations about feelings and debating things like the ontological argument, and whatever interests they have. They can only tolerate chitchat with people they just met or haven’t seen for awhile…

5. Introverts don’t hate people. They just find them tiring.

6. Introverts are socially aware. Yes, we are well-versed in social nuances, customs, and mannerisms; we just don’t implement them as frequently as extroverts do."
introverts  social  cv  shyness  parties  people  conversation  socialawareness  fatigue  friendship  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Caterina.net» Blog Archive » FOMO and Social Media
"It’s an age-old problem, exacerbated by technology. To be always filled with craving and desire (also called defilement, affliction) is one of the Three Poisons of Buddhism, called kilesa, and it makes you a slave. There is true meaning in social media—real connections, real friendships, devotion, humor, sacrifice, joy, depth, love. And this is what we are looking for when we log on. Most of the world is profane, not sacred, in the Mircea Eliade sense. So it is. But within it is the Emmy award speech of Mister Rogers, a Japanese man being rescued at sea, Abraham Lincoln, moms who comfort sick children, the earnest love that dogs have for people…

FOMO can be fought. Stay alert! En garde!"
psychology  culture  technology  socialmedia  social  twitter  ditto  fomo  fearofmissingout  cv  internet  web  online  craving  desire  buddhism  kilesa  sxsw  behavior  human  tcsnmy  toshare  classideas  caterinafake  sacrifice  joy  relationships  friendship  devotion  love  depth  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
You’ve Got to Have (150) Friends - NYTimes.com
"Until relatively recently, almost everyone on earth lived in small, rural, densely interconnected communities, where our 150 friends all knew one another…

But social & economic mobility of past century has worn away at that interconnectedness. As we move aroundcountry across continents, we collect disparate pockets of friends, so that our list of 150 consists of a half-dozen subsets of people who barely know of one another’s existence, let alone interact.

…Emotional closeness declines by around 15% a year in the absence of face-to-face contact, so in 5 years someone can go from being an intimate acquaintance to the most distant outer layer of your 150 friends.

Facebook & other social networking sites allow us to keep up w/ friendships that would otherwise rapidly wither away. &…to reintegrate our networks so that, rather than having several disconnected subsets…we can rebuild, albeit virtually, the kind of old rural communities where everyone knew everyone else."
robindunbar  dunbar  dunbarnumber  friendship  relationships  facebook  economics  social  media  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  history  humans  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table - Magazine - The Atlantic
"A very simple intellectual mechanism answers the necessities of friendship, and even of the most intimate relations of life… The movements of exaltation which belong to genius are egotistic by their very nature. A calm, clear mind, not subject to the spasms and crises that are so often met with in creative or intensely perceptive natures, is the best basis for love or friendship—Observe, I am talking about minds. I won’t say, the more intellect, the less capacity for loving; for that would do wrong to the understanding and reason ; — but, on the other hand, that the brain often runs away with the heart’s best blood, which gives the world a few pages of wisdom or sentiment or poetry, instead of making one other heart happy, I have no question."
oliverwendellholmes  creativity  genius  friendship  intellect  intelligence  love  relationships  egotism  attention  understanding  empathy  1858  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Anthropology in Practice: Follow Friday and The No Free Lunch Theory
"So the more I think about this, the more I come back to one question: Are we losing sight of the word "friend" as per Hruschka's suggestion? What the Follow Friday transaction boils down to in some cases is a quid pro quo action—I've recommended you, now recommend me. But friendship, which is the basis for connections in some social networking settings, as Hruschka describes it does not work in this way. Friends do not keep a tab and feel that they have to reciprocate. So is the social capital grab that occurs on Fridays on Twitter an outgrowth of the medium as the reader below suggests? Would this type of behavior seem more acceptable on LinkedIn where the idea is that you are connecting for business and networking where quid pro quo is a facet of the relationship?"
twitter  followfriday  friendship  exchange  socialnetworking  behavior  reciprocity  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero - The Back Side of Your Gullet Is Decadent and Depraved, Part 4 [The beatiful ending to a great series, so well worth the wait. This is a must read.]
"Half of balance is just believing you have it…A man needs a playground, otherwise he’ll wither away…The good classes feel like they teach you the opposite of what they promised…You forget what it’s like to be light, nimble, & open, & those qualities are important for someone on a quest, even if they leave you vulnerable…Every kind of work must disfigure you in some way…Does criticism come from the opposite place that teaches you how to enjoy life?…both of them were stretching the truth a little bit, just so they could tell the truth about how they felt to one another. There was a beauty to that: lying to be wholly honest…Isn’t it good to be a little dissatisfied? Who would ever do anything if they believed everything was already good enough?…if you shine a light bright enough, maybe the world wouldn’t stop being a mess, but at least maybe you could be lucky enough see a small, glittering, beautiful little piece of it."
frankchimero  nourishment  meaning  balance  life  wisdom  design  criticism  desire  relationships  happines  memories  truth  tcsnmy  dissection  belief  play  well-being  friendship  hope  beauty  youth  age  work  topost  toshare  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Is true friendship dying away? - USATODAY.com
"Of course, we learn how to make friends — or not — in our most formative years, as children. Recent studies on childhood, & how the contemporary life of the child affects friendships, are illuminating. Again, the general mood is one of concern, & a central conclusion often reached relates to a lack of what is called "unstructured time."
friendship  media  technology  social  socialnetworking  relationships  unstructuredtime  children  parenting  time  slow  meaning  whatmatters  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  value  well-being 
july 2010 by robertogreco
[M]aybe it would be cool to have conversations... - Bobulate
“[M]aybe it would be cool to have conversations about this thing that I’m the most passionate about in my life with the person I’m most passionate about."
friendship  work  tcsnmy  howwework  well-being  happiness  partnerships  glvo  passion  productivity  lizdanzico  jessiarrington  creightnmershon  conversation  engagement  meaning 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The calculus of friendship: what a teacher and a student learned about life while corresponding about math ... - Google Books
"The Calculus of Friendship is the story of an extraordinary connection between a teacher and a student, as chronicled through more than thirty years of letters between them. What makes their relationship unique is that it is based almost entirely on a shared love of calculus. For them, calculus is more than a branch of mathematics; it is a game they love playing together, a constant when all else is in flux. The teacher goes from the prime of his career to retirement, competes in whitewater kayaking at the international level, and loses a son. The student matures from high school math whiz to Ivy League professor, suffers the sudden death of a parent, and blunders into a marriage destined to fail. Yet through it all they take refuge in the haven of calculus--until a day comes when calculus is no longer enough. Like calculus itself, The Calculus of Friendship is an exploration of change..." [via: not sure]
books  teaching  math  friendship  mathematics  calculus 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Friendship in an Age of Economics - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
"Friendships worthy of the name are different. Their rhythm lies not in what they bring to us, but rather in what we immerse ourselves in. To be a friend is to step into the stream of another’s life. It is, while not neglecting my own life, to take pleasure in another’s pleasure, and to share their pain as partly my own. The borders of my life, while not entirely erased, become less clear than they might be. Rather than the rhythm of pleasure followed by emptiness, or that of investment and then profit, friendships follow a rhythm that is at once subtler and more persistent. This rhythm is subtler because it often (although not always) lacks the mark of a consumed pleasure or a successful investment. But even so, it remains there, part of the ground of our lives that lies both within us and without."
friendship  relationships  tcsnmy  classideas  lifeskills  toshare  topost  empathy  philosophy  money  economics  gain  virtue  consumerism  consumption  society  culture 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Me, but you, but me [dive into mark]
"a 25-year friend is not just “a friend for 25 years.” It’s not the passage of time that matters as much as the “of course”-ness of it all. Of course I want to hear about your breakup. Of course you can come over anytime. Of course I’ll help you move. Of course you’ll be my best man, and I yours...25 years of “of course.”
friendship  markpilgrim  philosophy  life  friends  death  writing  humanity  beautifulhumans  love 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Down with Facebook! by Matt Labash [The Weekly Standard]
"What nobody bothers to mention about the social-networking site is that it's really dull--mind-numbingly dull." +
technology  facebook  relationships  society  cv  friendship  media  internet 
march 2009 by robertogreco
First Man of Letters
“It is certain that success naturally confirms us in a favorable opinion of our own abilities. Scarce any man is willing to allot to accident, friendship, and a thousand causes which concur in every event without human contrivance or interposition, the part which they may justly claim in his advancement. We rate ourselves by our fortune rather than our virtues, and exorbitant claims are quickly produced by imaginary merit.”
samueljohnson  humans  opinion  selfimage  ability  assessment  ego  success  fortune  virtue  merit  friendship  chance  luck 
february 2009 by robertogreco
disambiguity - » Ambient Exposure
"Education is probably the best way to help people manage exposure via content, but one of the key challenges for designers in social spaces is to design tools that support awareness and management of this exposure through unruly contact lists."
socialsoftware  socialnetworks  twitter  exposure  ambientintimacy  ambientexposure  privacy  relationships  online  web  internet  facebook  ambient  microblogging  socialnetworking  media  mobile  network  surveillance  friendship  sociality  intimacy  community 
april 2008 by robertogreco
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