Category Archives: sociology

#MeToo #notMe, Yes, of course me

metoo-png-Milano

Definition of Sexual Harassment via NotSurprised.org

‘We Are Not Surprised’: Read the Blistering Open Letter That Art-World Women Wrote About Artforum
The list of signatories is growing by the hour. artnet News, October 30, 2017

It seems to me consistent with the old fashioned archetypal view of hidden complexes and incumbent courses of social action and social response that the election of President Priapic would promote an intense and heartfelt compensation. This has begun to transform relations in the patriarchical social structures.

(Also, archetypically related to this are the sweep of the athletes protest against state violence against minorities and #blacklivesmatter.)

Personally, the questions for me are what might I experience, act, and, communicate differently? As soon as this had bubbled up, I spent an afternoon with my artistic collaborator Kathy to discuss our first creative collaboration. She took me to school not on sexual behavior or harassment but on entering and being present and self-aware in the sacred space of her studio. This is precisely where my attitude needs the most adjustment. For many men this is where the transformation could begin.

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Alt-normal

http://squareone-learning.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Alpha-Male-v-Beta-Male.png

This graphic itemization is a precise folk catalog. It is normative and counter-reactionary given our current climate. Thank you for taking back the concept of alpha male; as far as this goes. Following from Luce Iragaray, I would hope there is a sorting through and beyond the androcentric claims. However, the boys of the alt-right, gamergate, red pill culture, are irredeemable. The Alpha female and her practical divinity remain in the shadow of the rude boy culture of our present and presentist problem.

(My fascination with the masculinist ideologies followed from my learning of the alt-right and the culture of so-called neo-reaction. This all was a consequence of my hoping to track cultural trends during the several years of the recent presidential campaign. Even though the religiously self-indulgent Trump is not in anyway a credible icon of the goal-oriented masculine idealization on offer from the arch masculinists of the alt-right, all of the rightward aggression found at the level of the aggrieved white male, follows from Trump’s racist and misogynist call to ‘reaction.’)

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Don’t Follow the Directions

Stephen Calhoun, artist

Jack’s New Scheme (2015)


Pagan Kennedy’s New York Times feature, How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity, is apparently drawn from her new book, due January 26, Inventology. Her article is a very good read.

inventology

In the article Kennedy mentions a researcher, Sanda Erdelez. A little digging brought her paper Information Encountering, A Conceptual Framework for Accidental Information Discovery to light. At the end of the paper her summary inspired me to reflect on the status of “pre-direction” in search routines.

From this it seems worthwhile to muse on a adirectional learning, and directionless directing.

Meanwhile, Kennedy wrote:

That’s why we need to develop a new, interdisciplinary field — call it serendipity studies — that can help us create a taxonomy of discoveries in the chemistry lab, the newsroom, the forest, the classroom, the particle accelerator and the hospital. By observing and documenting the many different “species” of super-encounterers, we might begin to understand their minds.

A number of pioneering scholars have already begun this work, but they seem to be doing so in their own silos and without much cross-talk.

What could these researchers discover if they came together for one big conversation?

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Peirce, Luhmann, Bateson – Sign and Socios

Søren Brier, Professor of Culture and Communication Studies, Copenhagen Business School, gives a presentation as part of the University of Oregon Conference on Biosemiotics and Culture.

Bonus:
Professor Peter Ochs, UVa., has posted his terrific chapter from Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy: Peirce, James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Hartshorne (Authors: David Ray Griffin – John B. Cobb Jr. -Marcus P. Ford – A. Y. Gunter – Peter Ochs – SUNY series in Constructive Postmodern Thought articles about American Philosophy,  1992)

Charles Peirce As Post-Modern Philosopher

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Teaching Cartoon, Cave Man

teaching cartoon

Caveman
A caveman seeks revenge on a much larger competitor for the hand of a beautiful cavewoman.
Directed by Carl Gottlieb. Starring Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long.

Dr. Puck’s Prejudicial Proposition Number One:

If you step backward in time step by step, eventually every bright idea and every idea falls away.

Azerbaycan Rock Art

Azerbaycan Rock Art

(Genealogy Of Religion) Aside from the usual concerns about over interpretation, some wondered whether there was any justification for assuming that Paleolithic people had an essentially modern aesthetic category which might be called “art.” If they didn’t, it would follow that artistic interpretations of the cave paintings were just that and shed little light on Paleolithic minds.

Frustrated by the sense that we weren’t getting any closer to understanding Paleolithic symbols, some began searching for alternatives. One of the more compelling came from cognitive archaeologist David Lewis-Williams. Having studied rock art around the world, Lewis-Williams noticed that certain kinds of symbols regularly appeared across time and space. This was an enigma, given that the peoples producing these recurring symbols had not been in contact with one another. These symbols were not, in other words, the result of cultural diffusion. Lewis-Williams calls these symbols “entoptic forms”:

entoptic

 

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Sam Harris Solves the Problem of Islamic Faith

Shortly after viewing the intensely puerile tag team tussle betwixt Affleck/Kristof/Steele and Maher/Harris (on Real Time With Bill Maher, October 3rd,) I knew it would take a little while, but that I would soon get an email sent from the ramparts of the Integral Empire pointing out that the Real Time combatants just don’t get religion like the Wilberians in actuality do get it.

Sure enough, on the 18th, Dustin DiPerna weighed in on The Daily Evolver (email newsletter) with Bridging the Chasm: Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, and a Needed Dose of Integral Theory. In turn, although the link back is not available in the newsletter, Mr. DiPerna contributed a longer article to Integral World, the safehouse for heterodox views of the integral. Finally, at The Daily Evolver itself is Jeff Salzman’s article/podcast Dog and God.

Predictably, came the appeal to the integral framework’s notion of levels in the flux of person and religious system.

DiPerna: Islam, like all of our world’s great religious traditions, is enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved. To be sure, Islam has a particular shape and flavor that has consistency throughout all interpretations. Folks like Harris tend to emphasize the consistent dimensions of faith, often intentionally highlighting the aspects that many consider the most challenging to stomach, as a methodology to provoke or even dismiss entire traditions as “bad ideas”. But just as each tradition has a flavor and shape itself, it is equally true that every human being has a lens and worldview that brings forth particular elements of the tradition according to the world that he or she can see. There is not one version of Islam that is either “Good” or “Bad” but there are at least five versions of Islam, all dependent upon specific levels of interpretation. Each of these levels is not arbitrary. The levels are consistent across traditions and can be correlated with very specific stages of psychological development.

Whether we use the work of Harvard researcher James Fowler’s Stages of Faith or the early models of developmental progression found in the works of Jean Gebser, we see a very similar metric that can be used to explore five basic levels of development. These levels can be referred to using the shorthand terms: magic (Stage 1), mythic (Stage 2), rational (Stage 3), pluralistic (Stage 4), and integral (Stage 5). Each level has particular characteristics and hallmarks of how it shows up in the world. Furthermore, each level has both moderate and extremist orientations.

If an interpretation is dependent, and decisively dependent upon the lens and worldview discoverable at the scale of the individual–and this is implied by religion enacted according to the specific levels of development of the actors involved–then there are as many versions of a religion at such a scale as there are actors.

This follows from DiPerna’s organic analysis that uses the blunt conceptions, via Jean Gebser, of integral analysis. A reader such as myself then can anticipate the arrival of the prescriptions.

DiPerna. Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development. In doing so, this stage of religious orientation seeks to build bridges connecting various levels of interpretation. Understanding that everyone starts the developmental process at stage 1, this level sees the importance of building conveyor belts of potential growth and development in each tradition. Rather than merely sitting in a circle in dialogue (as the Pluralistic level might do) the integral stage combines discernment and compassion acknowledging that some views are broader, more compassionate and more inclusive than others.

In his podcast, Dog and God, Integral insider Jeff Salzman will get to this same Stage 5. (His discussion of religion in the context of stage of development begins at 11m into the podcast. download )

A reader such as myself, (having followed along with the Integral framework since 1979,) can anticipate the arrival of the prescription.

DiPerna. Rather, what is needed is the critical comprehension that individuals, with different levels of development, are enacting Islam (and all other religious traditions) according to their own worldviews and levels of development. And even more importantly, we must come to the understanding that there are paths that can be highlighted that can help individuals move along that developmental spectrum from magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral versions of each tradition. As development unfolds, interpretations of faith move from being more restrictive, ego-centric and ethno-centric in view to orientations that more compassionate, open, and world-centric.

Sam Harris, transcript of the clip: 

There are hundreds of millions of Muslim, who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people, prop them up, and let them reform Islam.

Harris’s view is obviously crude and unreal, and, for someone who spins dimes into bullion on the anti-mythic religion trail, his prescription is shockingly and shamelessly a product of his being deeply ignorant about what religions generally are about, and how religions come to change–let alone, be reformed.

Salzman’s cop from DiPerna is less crude but is no better:

Integral teacher and scholar Dustin DiPerna, also inspired by the Maher/Harris/Affleck flap, wrote a terrific essay for Integral Life on how development trumps religion.

Were Salzman, DiPerna, and Harris deep critics of their own biases, I’d have some hope for the development of better prescriptions with regard to the problem of religiosity and its variable contexts. Although, I don’t know of anybody in the post-conventional community who is so devoted to such radical solutions that he or she is willing to evangelize for free, directly to the target audience. As far as I can tell, Harris mostly preaches his degenerate prescriptions for religion to people who already have ejected themselves from religion’s clutches, or, have little experience with religion.

It would be quite remarkable for it to someday be demonstrated to be the true case that religions actually are driven to evolve in the direction promoted by the Integral idealization, an idealization itself rooted in the nowadays diffuse and defused transpersonal and noetic counter-culture of the late sixtes and early seventies. Wilber’s own philosophy soon enough came to be reactionary, constitute a logo-therapeutics, realize a messianic brand and industry, and engage a magnificently one-sided, touchy but no feely, developmental track today termed the Super Human Operating System. Could this be the inkling of the first world post-religion?

This is to suggest that those higher Integral stages are themselves geared to enlighten, but, at the same time, in the shadow of those later, higher stages, are currents strong enough to evoke the clearly promethean demiurge that supposes the point of a human life is superior development, and, this is given so as to, among many effects, trump religion, blind the religious as it were by the light of higher consciousness, bend the lower stage aspirational wills by contact with consciousness liberated from its worldly objects.

This leads to the chicken/egg problem that can bias investigation of religion. This problem is in extremis in the Integral milieu. The problem clearly comes to the surface when, for example, Harris offers a potential for reform of Islam to be caused in the crucible of ambivalence. I take this lightly to be a person speaking about changing something he is innocent of. Do we understand what the amiable endpoint of Islam will be, from being able to conjure a Fifth Stage?

I consider the Integral view on religion to be largely incapable as a hermeneutical tool. Still, it would be a remarkable coincidence if it turns out Ken Wilber has in fact discovered the optimal stages of human development, and these, as DiPerna states, have come to trump religion!

Harris? Salzman? DiPerna? Wilber? Does such a person carry close to them a criticism of their own prescription? After all, at least with all the starry-eyed advocates for centauric development, it can be presumed he or she has developed powerful tools with which to deconstruct and parse via the AQAL, and further analyze, and, process via the ironic turn, the beneficial and costly ramifications of their own prescription, and such prescriptions would be born from their own experience, biases, expertise, and ignorance.

The complexity of human and social phenomena was long ago subsumed by the abject claim, given here by DiPerna, “Integral orientations (as with all later stages) sees the entire spectrum of growth and development.”  Certainly, as a social cyberneticist and Batesonian, the analytic operating methodologies for systematically evaluating spectrums of growth and development as expressed in Wilber’s own body of work is amusingly and ironically reductive, naively one-sided, rarely counter-factually argued in a very spotty literature, and, is shamelessly innocent of the apparently dull details of, to name two gigantic fields of study, psychology and religion.  So, you say “entire” and I hear: gigantic.

There was a time around the turn of the century when Ken Wilber’s vision for the Integral Theory was that it needed adherents to go into the academy and become better schooled and eventually some exchange and synergy and informed evolution on both ‘sides’ might result. But, then stuff happened, and Wilber didn’t ever lead this charge. Instead, he built with help, the Integral Technologies, technologies just recently termed the Super Human OS.

Install this OS and trump really old stuff?

schuon_esoteric_exoteric

Meanwhile, neo-traditionalist, ‘not-of-the-world,’ radical Takfiri Salafism, can’t be understood to center Islam, but, those particular jihadi offshooters are on an intensely devotional mission to convert the unbeliever everywhere, or be martyred making the attempt.

I doubt a unitarian-like revolt from the fringes could make a difference, Mr. Harris.

My own prescription only has to do with what anybody might decide to do in taking initial steps for the purpose of understanding any complex human matter, such as religion, or a religion.

First, how do you identify what your tool set will be?

What are the given problems and opportunities given by where you start your investigation from?

What are the nature of your biases ?

What frameworks and tools for knowledge/sense-making are congenial or seem to carry a prospect for intrinsic motivation?

What do you need to know firstly?

Where will you start, and why start there?

How will you gather up resources and mentors?

What will be the qualitative measure of your inevitable partial understanding?

What will you not understand if you are unwilling to “do” or experience the religion?

Second, speaking very broadly, there are fields for investigation of religion, and religions. For the anthropologist, religions are largely in the local context of historical and present-day development and concrete practice at the small scale where individual, family, community practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions are able to be studied. How is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

For sociologist, religions are largely in the larger scale context given by how institutions and relationships between social groups come to bear upon both local practice and the organization of local practices, beliefs, representations, imperatives and prohibitions into the larger social scales, and, organizational practices and routines, of a society or well-defined group. How is this all to be understood as a driver and sustainer of institutions and their practices?

For modern historians, the development of a religion asserts how a religion came to center or otherwise instantiate crucial social impacts and changes at the scale of community or tribe or group or nation or region or continent or planet, and, at all of those scales altogether.

Psychologically or social-psychologically, the nature of religion refers to its aiding cognitive cum psychological organization of individual and intrapsychic and intersubjective and group: identity, meaningfulness, symbolic systems, inheritable interpretation of history, ethics, birth/life/death, family, theories of mind (or consciousness,) development, aspiration, and relations to the profound objects and possibilities larger than one’s own single mortal self. In a psycho-anthropology, how is this all to be understood to be a driver and sustainer of, or otherwise support, individual and group actions, practices, beliefs, knowledge?

There are also many other fields and disciplines, like philosophy of religion, plus, all the various fields possess lots of disciplinary subsets.

My gloss here is intended to sketch lots of choices, showcase complexity. Also, this gloss supposes all sorts of tacit relations and subject matters between the disciplinary fields. Obviously, I recognize my own investigations are at the level of what is called the ‘folk,’ and so I also recognize whatever I do happen to know is more lightly disciplined and more subject to error than that of most masterful experts.

As far as I know, most of the thrust of Integral investigators is inexpert too. There is to my knowledge not a single deeply informed integral treatment on the subject of religion, (or on any other subject for that matter!)

I sense the deep irony unintentionally embedded in the various Integral prescriptions.

It is clear to me that even if the post-religion implicit in the higher stages of Integral development drives the good will of those who urge upon Islam reform for the sake of Islam evolving to become trumped by the Integral (!), the various Integral self-proclaimed scholars do not yet seem to me to be at all conversant with religion as a social scientific object of study, let alone conversant with Islam proper.

As for Bill Maher, I enjoy his New Rules, but he is, in the main, an asshat and charlatan.

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Inevitable Nexus When Fear Runs the Numbers

Civil Rights

The variable progress we’ve made toward a color-blind society requires the astute observer and citizen to grapple with the causes of the breakdowns that focus attention on a grievous collection of problems, and, at the same time, may tend to crowd-out and push the sundry daily problems out of view.

The shocking events in Ferguson Missouri crowd out the following daily problems:

1. everyday racism
2. racial profiling
3. law enforcement presuming guilt
4. traffic stops for being black
5. killing innocent people, killing innocent people-of-color
6. police regarding themselves as enforcers of laws but not subject to laws
7. officer safety divorced from objective risk management
8. heavy-weaponization of police departments
9. the dangerous synergy, and daily transactions, between the military-industrial complex and the law enforcement complex
10. not applying social and psychological-scientific understanding to the consequences of militarizing police departments

Consider whether or not the police in a given year kill more innocent people than the number of police killed in the line of duty.

Psychologically, in a critical, larger, sense, our police are us.

Ferguson

This ghastly power is mostly explained as fear of the neighbouring nation, which is supposed to be possessed by a malevolent fiend. Since nobody is capable of recognizing just where and how much he himself is possessed and unconscious, he simply projects his own condition upon his neighbour, and thus it becomes a sacred duty to have the biggest guns and the most poisonous gas. The worst of it is that he is quite right. All one’s neighbours are in the grip of some uncontrollable fear, just like oneself. In lunatic asylums it is a well-known fact that patients are far more dangerous when suffering from fear than when moved by rage or hatred. (C.G. Jung pg 231 Civilization In Transition)

Some criminologists argue that there is a deep antagonism between cops and black and brown men that leads both to perceive the other as a constant threat, feeding a complicated intergroup conflict. For police, it may be fueled by a sense that they represent the last line of defense for the rest of us.

But the death accounts of unarmed black men often demonstrate something more basic at work in brutality cases: The victim was somehow perceived as less than fully human. (Less than human: Do some police take a step beyond simple prejudice? By David Dante Troutt, Reuters)

Police are not soldiers. Are democracy at its most local level is threatened if we allow our police departments to morph into combat teams.

Officer safety is a magical fear in a specific sense: advocates of risk management that approve re-arming police departments with technology that is designed to kill militarized enemies, and protect from the same, can only bridge the desire for safety with the need for the technology by entering irrational suppositions and fantasies about threat into the equation. It is a fact over the last decade that heavily armed SWAT teams have entered the wrong houses, have burst through the doors of innocent citizens, and for the sake of officer safety, killed innocent people.

Detroit SWAT officer murdered seven-year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010.

Our religions and political ideologies are methods of salvation and propitiation which can be compared with primitive ideas of magic, and where such “collective representations” are lacking their place is immediately taken by all sorts of private idiocies and idiosyncrasies, manias, phobias, and daemonisms whose primitivity leaves nothing to be desired, not to speak of the psychic epidemics of our time before which the witch-hunts of the sixteenth century pale by comparison. (C.G. Jung pg 155 Symbols In Transformation)

Comment: The nexus of racism and fear is obviously very deadly. Equipping law enforcement with inappropriate surplus military equipment is insanity. As Dr. Jung stated, “If you put enough bombs all in one place, they will go off by themselves.”

How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program By Taylor Wofford, Newsweek

|1033 procurements are not matters of public record. And the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which coordinates distribution of military surplus, refuses to reveal the names of agencies requesting “tactical” items, like assault rifles and MRAPs — for security reasons, a spokesperson for DLA told Newsweek via email.

Police in Watertown, Connecticut, (population 22,514) recently acquired a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle (sticker price: $733,000), designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, for $2,800. There has never been a landmine reported in Watertown, Connecticut.|

Comment: the police work for the citizenry except in police states.

Not Just Ferguson: 11 Eye-Opening Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces by Alex Kane

| In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page report titled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing (pdf). Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that this police militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.” |

Comment: plus,  follow the money.

| “Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it,” one police officer was caught on video telling protesters. In Ferguson and beyond, it seems that some police officers have shed the blue uniform and have put on the uniform and gear of the military, bringing the attitude along with it. Read more-businessinsider |

In Ferguson, the blurred line between law enforcement and combat By Adam Serwer, MSNBC

| These heavily armed men are part of a more recent tradition: the militarization of American police. They are, like domestic surveillance, weapons built to fight a faraway war turned homeward. Hands-up is how black people survive nonviolent protest in the era of what author Radley Balko calls the “warrior cop.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program, first enacted in 1996 at the height of the so-called War on Drugs. The Department of Justice, according to the ACLU, “plays an important role in the militarization of the police” through its grant programs. It’s not that individual police officers are bad people – it’s that shifts in the American culture of policing encourages officers to ”think of the people they serve as enemies.”

Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security has encouraged further militarization of police through federal funds for “terrorism prevention.” The armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor borne by the police in Ferguson are the fruit of turning police into soldiers. |

don't shoot

 

Police are not soldiers.

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Bambino Communicates

Free Play June 29

Our foray into animating mostly aging bodies for the purpose of continuing the autopoietic experiment set course on a perfect June day.

Last week featured a walk-off comeback, but Sunday’s game echoed the game two weeks before, the bottom of the order of the visitors–the visiting team being the team I place Mark Jr. on–came through again with lots of seeing-eye hits. To make the self-organization of the mismatch possible, Jedi Matt arrived late, after Pete, “shirtless, above average first baseman,” and automatically was placed at the bottom of the home team’s line-up.

Bambino!

Bambino!

Driving away after the game, I slowed down to complement Jedi Matt on his five hits in five at-bats day–including a homerun, and he in his modest way, reminded me he is over two weeks, ten-for-ten. I have to emphasize modest too: for the twelve years I have been playing Free Play Softball Matt has not once become entangled in any drama, any vaunting of any outcome, and, even his reminder about his performance carried with it no inflection of self-aggrandizement. Yes, Jedis are like this!

Katz, the greatest junk ball hitter of all time.

Katz, the greatest junk ball hitter of all time.

Where is this ball headed?

I tease Katz, asking him when he arrives,

Which Katz is showing up today?

The effortless fielder and crafty hitter has been showing up recently.

3-autopoietic-systems

Niklas Luhmann suggests new framework for understanding society that society is an autopoietic system, in other word, society is the nexus of communication. He insists that the element of the society is communication, not actor nor action.

Purloined from Naruse, Iba; Ecosystem as an Autopoietic System Considering Relationship between Ecology and Society based on Luhmann’s Theory [pdf].

(Being a cybernetics kind-of-dude, any event that constitutes a difference making the difference is communicative; this includes all such events in the closed system of a softball game. Example: a hit or a catch encapsulates the embodied psychic intention; so a hit or a catch enacts the communication in the physically permeable agentic structure of the game’s social system. A game structures the possibilities for emergent instances of communication and so a game instantiates events that reflect, and briefly ‘incarnate,’ the foamy, non-substantial, psychic intentions.)

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Paolo Freire – Last Interview

Only dialogue, which requires critical thinking, is also capable of generating critical thinking. Without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education – Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire

Freire Project

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Jerome Bruner on YouTube

Jerome Bruner will be 99 this year. This is his current statement of focus at NYU:

I’m interested in the various institutional forms by which culture is passed on — most particularly in school practices and in legal codes and legal praxis. In both examples, my concern is with how canonical forms create a dialectic with the “possible worlds” of imaginative art forms. My preferred method of work in both instances is the anthropological-interpretive.

(Me too!)

Jerome Bruner’s The Narrative Construction of Reality [pdf] is easily available. It is in the group of essays precocious tenth graders would be directed to read if I were the Headmaster.

Narrative accrual. How do we cobble stories together to make them into a whole of some sort? Sciences achieve their accrual by deriva- tion from general principles, by relating particular findings to central par- adigms, by couching empirical findings in a form that makes them subsumable under altering paradigms, and by countless other procedures for making science, as the saying goes, “cumulative.” This is vastly aided, of course, by procedures for assuring verification, though, as we know, verificationist criteria have limited applicability where human intentional states are concerned, which leaves psychology rather on the fringe.

Narrative accrual is not foundational in the scientist’s sense. Yet narratives do accrue, and, as anthropologists insist, the accruals eventually create something variously called a “culture” or a “history” or, more loosely, a “tradition.” Even our own homely accounts of happenings in our own lives are eventually converted into more or less coherent autobiogra- phies centered around a Self acting more or less purposefully in a social world.*5 Families similarly create a corpus of connected and shared tales and Elinor Ochs’s studies in progress on family dinner-table talk begin to shed light on how this is accomplished.46 Institutions, too, as we know from the innovative work of Eric Hobsbawm, “invent” traditions out of previously ordinary happenings and then endow them with privileged sta- tus,47 And there are principles of jurisprudence, like stare decisis, that guarantee a tradition by assuring that once a “case” has been interpreted in one way, future cases that are “similar” shall be interpreted and decided equivalently. Insofar as the law insists on such accrual of cases as “prece- dents,” and insofar as “cases” are narratives, the legal system imposes an orderly process of narrative accrual.

Bruner at inFed
Bruner summary at SimplyPsychology

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American Oyster

education

 

2012 Presidential election. Thank you foxbusiness.com.

Of course: lies and damn statistics — ignorance may exist anywhere and obviously a college degree isn’t an arbiter. For example, we have persons educated as medical doctors serving in the US Congress who believe in young earth creationism. Sure, they represent red states, still. . .

Alan Keyes, graduate of Cornell and Harvard: When they came to lead, the children of the generation that fought World War II allowed the focus of American education to shift decisively away from a serious regard for the seminal documents that convey the logic of America’s liberty. This is the key to the elitist apostasy from America’s creed. On account of this apostasy, a more and more organized, self-consciously elitist faction has matured. It rejects the moral egalitarianism that undergirds America’s creed of liberty. Therefore, it works to overthrow the form of constitutional self-government that respects the sovereignty of the people. Informed by socialist totalitarian ideologies, this elitist clique is endowed by the materialist, authoritarian corporatism of the money powers now largely in control of America’s financial institutions, its so-called mainstream media and both the Democrat and Republican parties.

In political terms, these elitist faction forces come against the U.S. Constitution from left and right. Whatever the rhetoric of their verbal professions, in their actions they unanimously reject the premise that there is one benevolent and superintendent Deity whose spirit, will and judgment created human nature and ultimately rule over human affairs. This rejection of God’s authority is the daily proven fact that belies the specious opposition that is supposed to divide one of the elitist faction’s wings from the other. Whatever they say, the resultant of their supposedly adversarial interaction has for more than a lifetime consistently undermined this central pillar of American self-government, without which its other supports are like branches of a tree, forced to bear a weight they cannot stand. [excerpt] Defending the American Way, WorldNetDaily, June 2013

Slavery and sexism in the founder’s era kills your point concerning ‘moral egalitarianism that undergirds America’s creed of liberty,’ Dr. Keyes. Kill as I use it here is unqualified, so obviously and plain as day there was no moral egalitarianism back in the olden, golden, and beloved day.

The ignorance Keyes is apparently proud of did not come from his lack of education. But, from the perspective of my own being badly educated–in the normative-institutional sense–does his scree exemplify ignorance? What is ignorance and is it valid to assert that ignorance is supported by a particular individual nature–in the sense of finding what causes it?

The escape claus goes like this: what one knows is not such a big deal, what is a big deal is whether or not one ever got the message cum transmission.

If Remi Brague is correct in saying that it is the Judeo-Christian faith in a transcendent God, not only separate from the life of a particular tribe or political community but outside human history, that ultimately grounds the classical culture of emulation; and if Benedict XVI is correct in discerning that, at least in comparison with Europe, America remains a profoundly Christian nation with a strong tradition of independent, church-supported liberal education; what are we to make of the mainlines of the history of American higher education? That story as it has been told for two hundred years, whether in celebration or in lamentation, has been the story of unremitting secularization.

Even Henry Adams’s Education, his great memoir-style protest against the secularization of the American university in his life-time and thus the loss of the very character of university–despite being a protest–seemed only to further establish the main storyline ofthe field. “If Harvard or Yale had been less foolish in their origins and had held onto the Church, we should have probably kept a base on which to build some real scholarship; but when our ancestors cutoff the limb that made us a part ofthe tree, we naturally tumbled off. I do not suppose we ever produced a graduate who would have known how to sacrifice a bull to Jupiter.”‘(10) He argues that powerful as the literary and political tradition was in America, in the Boston of his youth, at Harvard, it was devoid of any religious underpinnings:

“Of all the conditions of his youth which afterwards puzzled the grown-up man, this disappearance of religion puzzled him most. The boy went to church twice every Sunday; he was taught to read his Bible, and he learned religious poetry by heart; he believed in a mild deism; he prayed; he went through all the forms; but neither to him nor to his brothers or sisters was religion real. Even the mild discipline of the Unitarian Church was so irksome that they all threw it off at the first possible moment, and never afterwards entered a church. The religious instinct had vanished, and could not be revived, although one made in later life many efforts to recover it. That the most powerful emotion of man, next to the sexual, should disappear, might be a personal defect of his own; but that the most intelligent society, led by the most intelligent clergy, in the most moral conditions he ever knew, should have solved all the problems of the universe so thoroughly as to have quite ceased making itself anxious about past or future, and should have persuaded itself that all the problems which had convulsed human thought from earliest recorded time, were not worth discussing, seemed to him the most curious social phenomenon he had to account for in a long life.”

His memoir of his later years, after his wife’s suicide, and the insanity and death of his close friend Clarence King who he had once thought represented the perfection of the frontier American, becomes an agonized, strained search for faith–he spends his final years touring the French countryside in his new motor car, trying to catch some whiff of faith from the power of the Virgin, which he acknowledges still retains its force at Lourdes. But his own failure and the triumph of secularization was never Henry Adams’ point–rather, as he argues repeatedly, “eccentricity is strength,” and American history, like human history, gives up its prophetic ghost to those who are willing to read it in silence, to those who will listen rather than forever reciting their own variety of pseudo-religious experiences. Adams is a believer. He believes that Americans who flew into the wilderness in 1620, in 1776, in 1845, in 1892–who knew that the only way to save their nation was to leave it behind–carrying their household gods on their backs, have not been defeated. Henry Adams realized that the restraints of a fixed religious, cultural, familial, or political tradition were only superficially a “handicap.” He repeatedly compared himself, “American of Americans, with Heaven knew how many Puritans and Patriots behind him and an education that had cost a civil war,” with a sort of pride and arrogant relish, to a “Polish Jew fresh from Warsaw or Cracow . . . a furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the ghetto, snarling in weird Yiddish.” In tl1e “races of the twentieth-century,” the race to abandon all restraints of past or nature, to strip oneself of all prejudicial identity and submit oneself, the naked servant and worshipper of the dynamo, he asserted (strangely enough!) that the American cultural tradition would prove as resistant to the worship of the twentieth-century Alexanders, Pharaohs, and Caesars, as the Jewish cultural tradition had ever proven. It is a breath-taking claim-the claim that American eccentricity can survive 600-pages worth of experiential learning and never lose its old illusions about liberty, virtue, or wisdom!

What then are we to make of this narrative of the liberationist effects of the American frontier on the old-world traditions imported from Europe; what are we to make of the story of the tabula rasa, the erasure, the secularization, the oblivion of the past and its lessons, prejudices and constraints? Henry Adams’s assertion invites us to look again at the meaning of the history of American higher education:

“Harvard was founded to help the Puritans escape Anglican Oxford and Cambridge, and Yale appeared in 1701 when a group of New Haven ministers, influenced in part by distrust of the liberal heresies that were to dominate Harvard, established a competing college to preserve the old social and religious order in Connecticut. Again, the Congregationalists who founded Amherst were in part moved by the objections to the Unitarianism that shook Harvard in the early l9th century, and the Yankee Methodists who set up Boston University at the time of the Civil War felt that Harvard’s classical curriculum and aristocratic values were destroying the ethos of pious dissent. The same era also saw the Jesuits establish Boston College, to help the new Boston-Irish community maintain its religious and social integrity. (Riesman in Sanford, 89)

From this history can we say that it is secularization or the perennial escape to eccentric orthodoxy that is the core “American” dynamic of the history higher education in this country? Is the declension of Harvard from Puritan seminary to Unitarian classical college to secular multiversity the inner dynamic of American higher education, or has the original eccentric dynamic of Harvard’s Christian orthodoxy simply metastasized in hundreds of small Bible colleges and Christian liberal arts colleges across the country? Are not these small Christian liberal arts colleges the truly American-the most distinctively American-contribution to the idea of the university in the modern world?(11) Whatever one thinks of such quaint neo-medieval, neo-classical flora and fauna sprouting in the American frontier–whether one considers them the hope for the future of Westem Civilization or embarrassing windows into the reactionary mind of middle America, it can hardly be denied that they, and not the anonymous, mega-state-universities of the great cities, are the peculiarly American features of the modern educational landscape.

Alasdair Maclntyre, in the now famous final paragraph of his work After Virtue, prescribed another round of that excellent habit of running away:

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that Imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead–often not realizing what fully what they were doing–was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another–doubtless quite different–St. Benedict.”

‘Tis sure to be an immortal paragraph. But (dare I say that) Alasdair Maclntyre, like Christopher Dawson, indeed like Edward Gibbon, imagines that this “construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral lite can be sustained” is a “turning aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium.” Yet these Britishers never fully grasp that this English, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Italian habit of running away with their traditions on their backs is actual pietas to the founders of the imperium. Eccentricity is a very American virtue.

Indeed George Washington himself knew the value of a strategic retreat that might keep one’s ragtag army intact–to fight another day . . _ or at any rate to hold out until one can find an ally with a navy.” (12) [excerpted from Chapter 5, Eccentric Education – The American Way, Susan E. Hanssen, The Idea of the American University (Bradley C.S. Watson, editor)]

[full chapter-pdf] See also Ms. Hanssen’s “‘English in spirit’: G. K. Chesterton and the debate over church and state in the 1906 Education Act,” The Catholic Social Science Review (2007).

Whatever are the virtues of institutionalizing orthodox centralities in the periphery, I tend to view the eccentricity–that (unbeknownst to Keyes) could still smartly inform his own argument–to itself cast off further eccentricities so that, eventually, the operating quality is, as Ms. Hanssen puts it, institutional peculiarity-more than any other quality. 

To weigh the gross generalization, secularizing and neo-liberal and post-modern Blue does correlate with degree of education and everyman traditionalism does correlate with deficits of learning and Red. For both Blue and Red, there is a lot of sub-set or sub-cultural eccentricity, and, let’s call, ‘eccentrification.’

American religiosity is extremely variable with respect to the straightened ordinates of classic Christian commitment, and, it would seem the employees of the governed are nowadays so energetically variable that the straightest Constitutionalism is spun away off to some radical precinct.

There’s no reason to refuse the challenge of orbiting cloisters. The neo-liberal order wants able workers to be ejected from schools. This represents another turn on the secularizing gyre, following from Taylorite pieces and Fordist machinists, and, now (and newly minted,) inchoate collections of human post-capital detritus. Denouement!

This is where both Mr. Keyes’ ideological ‘eccentrics’ and Ms. Hanssen’s historically minded supposition roll back to the natural law tree and beg for me a question about personality and the nature of personality and cognition. Surely it matters how the societal and spiritual conditionals work to instantiate particular human ends. Intentionality is not subsumed in the mystic chord even if it comes to be modified. There haven’t been, nor are there any utopian Natural Law states or political entities that have escaped doing lots of harm.

Certain rearguard’s aspirations–and eccentricity is presumably also defined to be a rearguard–are cast outward in comprehensive, oft times in totalizing terms, with there being no room to quibble over either ‘their being no God, but God alone,’ or the actualities of a Thomist heaven and hell,  or the cosmos set in place necessary to the Pauline ‘only possible true church.’ This latter eccentricity is such that its closing circle (and argument) encompasses the entire universe. This is the same presumption naming eventuations happening “outside human history.”

Keyes is arch and forthright in framing his eliminativist perspective. As much as he could have padded its bluntness with a portion of Henry Adamsian ‘depressive,’ his position isn’t for him able to be cast off, and, it takes no prisoners, and, its educational precepts are staked to analytic compliance. What’s true for him is to be true for you.

St. Benedictine?

Of the Virtuous Zeal Which the Monks Ought to Have

As there is a harsh and evil zeal which separateth from God and leadeth to hell, so there is a virtuous zeal which separateth from vice and leadeth to God and life everlasting.

Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; namely, that in honor they forerun one another (cf Rom 12:10). Let them bear their infirmities, whether of body or mind, with the utmost patience; let them vie with one another in obedience. Let no one follow what he thinketh useful to himself, but rather to another. Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love.

Let them fear God and love their Abbot with sincere and humble affection; let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and my He lead us all together to life everlasting.

In America, that the above is voluntary with no other respect otherwise given, might be the simple phenomenal element forceful enough to cast the sturdy outward and into eccentricity. What isn’t voluntary is attainment within the eccentric order. I doubt theocratic designs will bring forth any pearls.

 

 

 

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One Man Band

One Man Band

Susan took this photo with her iPhone inside Nashville’s Antique Archaeology. I’m a casual garage sale “picker,” and just yesterday I came across the first picker’s delight garage sale of the season. By this I mean a jumbo sale so overstuffed with disorganized stuff that one would need days to go through it all. Lamentably, the violin the proprietor showed me was badly broken down.

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Gods of the Abstract Social

Hydra

Several years ago I heard an introductory presentation by a retired sociologist. He spent a half hour presenting basics so he could frame a further argument about politics in a small city. The problem of introducing sociology is impressive to me–there was no mention of problems in this introductory presentation. Sociology sets off to abstract social functionalities in various ways and the ‘meta’ in relation to each such way is abstracted too; conundrums of self-reference and subjectivity and multiple subjectivities,  are abstracted, so forth, on and on, etcetera.

The sociological project often ventures away from the sensible matter of considering and studying the practical sociological experience and learned informal social means of the (so-called) folk. What of a field of inquiry termed Folk Sociology? I will need to google it!

Excerpt via N+1.

Too Much Sociology N+1 Magazine – The Editors – This spread of sociological thinking has led to sociological living?—?ways of thinking and seeing that are constructed in order to carry out, yet somehow escape, the relentless demystification sociology requires. Seeing art as a product, mere stuff, rather than a work, has become a sign of a good liberal (as opposed to bad elitist) state of mind. This is why you must support upper-middlebrow Terrence Malick one day, and the next spuriously shock everyone with a loud defense of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Too often, being on the left tasks you with a vigilant daily quest to avoid being tagged with snobbery. In sociological living, we place value on those works or groups that seem most likely to force a reevaluation of an exclusive or oppressive order, or an order felt to be oppressive simply because exclusive. And yet despite this perpetual reevaluation of all values, the underlying social order seems unchanged; the sense of it all being a game not only persists, but hardens.

The initial demystifying shock of the sociology of culture in the academy partly accounts for its popularity. Thanks to the dead ends of certain kinds of European hermeneutics the realization that repeated analyses of Balzac novellas might not shake the foundations of the subject, let alone those of capitalism?—?it became more promising to ask why certain classes of people might be interested (and other classes not interested) in Balzac at all. No more appeals to the inexplicable nature of genius. Seen from the longue durée of social change, individual authors or works were less important than collectives or status groups, cities or systems. Like latter-day Northrop Fryes, armed with data, the critic-sociologists converted writers back into “literature” as a system, and from there into refractions of codes, institutions, and classes.

The effect on a sector of the professoriat, at least, has been liberating. It has led to a new wave of semi-sociological studies of institutions instead of works. Many of these, such as The Economy of Prestige or The World Republic of Letters, are, if we permit ourselves a value judgment, among the best works of criticism in our time. The overpowering influence of sociology outside its own disciplinary borders was recently verified in a list of “most-cited” intellectuals in the humanities.

“Most-cited intellectuals” is etched here without irony!

Personally, I’m curious about folk sociology*, and glad, Hans-Georg Moeller wrote Luhmann Explained From Souls to Systems. The opening leaf in Moeller’s book offers up Niklas Luhmann this way:

It has always been clear to me that a thoroughly constructed conceptual theory of society would be much more radical and much more discomforting in its effects than focused criticisms–criticisms of capitalism for instance–could ever imagine.

…a fine Batesonian insight methinks.

* (Speculation;) First order question of folk sociology: What do you know about your being an agent and actor? embeds a second order problem of reflexivity.

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Gerrymander and the GOP’s Worldliness Conundrum

gerrymander

 

I didn’t expect the schadenfruede to be so long-lasting.

GOP study calls for changes to halt presidential losing streak

By Paul West
March 18, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON — A smug, uncaring, ideologically rigid national Republican Party is turning off the majority of American voters, with stale policies that have changed little in 30 years and an image that alienates minorities and the young, according to an internal GOP study.

That blunt assessment on the state of Republicanism at the national level comes from a major new report, out Monday, that will likely shake up an already battered party. It was commissioned by the head of the Republican National Committee in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat last year.

Without offering detailed policy prescriptions, the 98-page report calls on the party to “smartly change course,” modernize itself and develop “a more welcoming brand of conservatism that invites and inspires new people to visit us.”

There are extensive lists of proposals, many of them technological and procedural, designed to help the GOP better engage voters, especially women, minorities and the young, and reverse a losing pattern in five of the last six popular votes for president.

“Unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future,” the report concludes.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in remarks in Washington on the release of the study by the party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” is unsparing in his analysis of the 2012 election setback.

“Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. Our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he says, according to an advance text of his remarks.

“We know we have problems. We’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” he says.

Most of the criticisms are familiar to those, both inside and outside the GOP, who have watched the party fail to come to grips with changing demographics and, instead, try to rely on older, white voters who represent a shrinking part of the electorate.

“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us,” the report says. Young voters, it says, see the party as “old and detached from pop culture.”

In calling for the GOP to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” the report rebukes those who remain in denial about the seriousness of the problem and those who are unwilling to broaden the party’s appeal.

A just-concluded gathering of conservatives in Washington cheered speaker after speaker who urged the GOP to stick to its guns and, instead, largely blamed the 2012 defeat on Romney or the way he ran his campaign.

“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the study says. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

The report calls on Republicans to counter the party’s image as an arm of business. It says Republicans should “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

Beyond that, however, there are no policy details. Indeed, the authors point out that they are not a policy committee, in a section calling on the GOP to “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform without further specifics.

In addition, an extensive set of “inclusion” proposals for minority groups, including Latinos, Asians and African Americans, appears to mimic similar, failed outreach efforts by various RNC chairs over the last 30 years.

The report notes the party’s problems with women voters, especially unmarried women. But its 10-point plan for appealing to women makes no mention of the GOP stance on any social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, that have turned off many of the voters in question.

In a section on campaign mechanics, Republicans are advised to make “a critical cultural shift” on early, absentee, and online voting, trends that the report notes are “here to stay.” The report fails to note, however, that Republican elected officials fought to block and even reverse that trend at the state level in 2012.

Although the RNC study spares Romney any direct criticism, it includes tacit criticism of GOP polling that seems directed at his campaign. Research conducted for the study report found that 70% of Republican pollsters surveyed said that Democratic polling in 2012 “was better than our own. Fully 22% felt the Democrats did ‘much better’ than the Republicans when it came to accuracy and reliability.”

In a section on party primaries, there are thinly veiled attacks on efforts by outside groups, such as those tied to former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and organizations like the Club for Growth, that seek to apply litmus tests or weed out candidates considered unelectable.

“It would be a mistake for any one organization to think it can circumvent GOP voters and hand-pick our nominees,” the report says. “Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects.”

There are also calls for fewer candidate debates during the presidential primaries, a shorter nomination calendar and an earlier national convention.

The report is the product of a committee headed by Priebus’ allies and supporters, including Henry Barbour of Mississippi, the nephew of former governor and RNC chairman Haley Barbour; former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer; and Sally Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

If this problem of the GOP–losing national popular votes–interests you, you’ll be moved to follow the various scenes of crashing perceptions and the subsequent wreckage.

If somebody asked me what the chief deficit of the GOP is, I would answer that the Red States provide generous amount of evidence about what the Grand Old Party hopes to accomplish. So, from this, my short answer would be,

The GOP wants to race to the bottom. This desire strikes many people as being the equivalent of asking voters to punch themselves in the face–and be better off for it!

The bottom is many ‘bottoms’ and each such bottom can be well defined by the data. If you aspire to obtain the median education or household income or physical health of the average citizen of Mississippi or Tennessee or Alabama, then I have a political party that aims to support your goals.

What is the predicated goal enabled to head downward? Cheap Labor.

There you have it. The strategic handwringing is marvelous yet the actual situation isn’t very dire. The GOP is in fine shape when you look at what the nature of their actual success is all about.

Its libertarian “Chamber of Commerce” wing is fabulously fat and happy. The libertarian wing requires frightened, racist, aging, married, white people to lock in political advantages in Red States and so it has gone famously for four-plus decades. Fueling non-economic resentments of such people and then also gaming as much as possible the available, gritty mechanics of elections has proven to be a marvelous trick.

This strategy has worked out well. The political directors have leveraged resentment and cheap labor to a commanding political lead in the Red states. Has the bottom come into view? Not yet; ‘call the Texas textbook folks.’

(Cheap labor figures into the ability of state level oligarchs to put their money to work on political projects without many monied opponents standing in their way.) The GOP’s success is etched by the various state-level measures. Hurray for Kansas!

Losing national and statewide elections in blue states is the price exacted by the Red State strategy. The GOP protests too much. There is no chance of the GOP winning substantially more votes of young, or single, or minority, or, highly educated voters, as long as the GOP wants to play this hard ball strategic and tactical game on any Purple-to-Blue state’s territory.

For example, it should be completely obvious that the GOP, if it is hoping to make it harder for minorities to vote, is not going to make the party attractive to those same minorities. Having leaders in some states assert the state’s interest in penetrating and raping a woman’s vagina prior to the woman undergoing a medical procedure is not going to make your party attractive to most women.  Supporting the teaching of intelligent design and/or young earth creationism; denying climate change; and, (recently we learn,) spinning slaveowners as benefactors of slaves, is not going to make your party more attractive to college kids and the educated classes.

Over the long term of the GOP, the paradox inherent betwixt its ruthless plutocratic libertarian ideology and its core voters’ theocratic fantasy is resolved by the GOP’s inability to accomplish the task of replacing its aging white core voter. Who knew paranoia and fearfulness and resentment has a shelf life?

Until then, I fully expect GOP directors to continue to follow the overt marching orders of Rush and Rand, and be obedient to the tactical orders of ALEC and the Koch Brothers, et al.. In doing so, at least, its power players will continue to enjoy big paydays. I get it: the principle grifters, the Makers, are laughing all the way to the bank. The GOP’s success is not fragile as long as there are, in the Red states, resentful and fearful old white social conservatives for the rightward Makers to shake down and manipulate.

Conservative Order

Sociological meta-order-a reduction showing the gulf between economic and social GOP conservatives–roughly this depicts the difference at the extremes between voters who are sure ‘Satan eventually loses to Jesus,’ with, political directors who are willing to play very pointed electoral hard ball to lock-in their political-economic advantages–the former remain unappreciative of the worldliness of the latter!

The key requirement of continued GOP success supposes the “Libertarian directors” understand the grievances of the social conservative hoi polloi are never to be resolved.

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Repertoires & ‘truth willing out’

Repertoires

INTERPRETIVE REPERTOIRES A concept developed to aid the discourse analysis of talk and texts and most commonly used by social psychologists and other discourse researchers to summarize relatively global patterns in people’s sense making particularly around controversial issues and matters of public opinion. Interpretive repertoires operate at a broad semantically based level. They are recognizable routines of connected arguments, explanations, evaluations and descriptions which often depend on familiar anecdotes, illustrations, tropes or clichés. Interpretive repertoires are the building blocks through which people develop accounts and versions of significant events in social interaction and through which they perform identities and social life. The term ‘interpretive repertoires’ was first developed in 1985 by two sociologists of science, Nigel Gilbert and Michael Mulkay, to describe patterns in the discourse of the scientists they were studying. (Margaret Wetherell)

also: Interpretative Repertoires, Pamela J. MacKenzie (pdf)


Back in high school, on a weekend night, a friend and I were cruising for burgers. I was seated in the passenger seat of his mom’s Buick. Much to my shock but not surprise, he blew through a four-way Stop sign. I looked at sharply.

He reports, “Hoon, I saw the Stop Sign.”

TWOD=Truth Willing Out Device

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Icelandic Exceptionalism

Who Gets It

Self-explanatory. via Let’s Talk About Evolution Guardian.UK; in turn via the essential research blogging’s GirlScientist. Video

Fill in blank: “so much for _________________”

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Viewing Time

A History of the World in 100 Seconds from Gareth Lloyd on Vimeo.

MY AFRICAN MIND from BOFADACARA on Vimeo.

Two completely different approaches to making a concise videographic presentation of the sweep of “a” history. Gareth Lloyd explains his methodology, and, there is a bit of background for the second video by Nastio Mosquito at Africa Is a Country.

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Seeing Red

 

x
WND FREEDOM INDEX POLL

1 in 4 Americans censoring thoughts under Obama

Confidence in constitutional liberties plunges further still
Posted: March 27, 2010
11:50 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily 
Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies. 
Nearly one American in four routinely censors his or her own thoughts “much” or “always” under President Obama’s administration, and those who believe their personal liberties have plunged since inauguration day have grown significantly from 49 percent to more than 55 percent in just one month. 

This month, of course, was when Democrats rammed through a bill that essentially nationalizes health care, creating new requirements for consumers to purchase a government-chosen plan or face penalties. 
 
The WND Freedom Index poll from Wenzel Strategies shows even one in 10 Democrats – whose party controls both the White House and Congress – believes there’s been a big decrease in freedoms. 

“Largely on the negative reaction by men to the actions of Obama and Democrats in Washington, the Freedom Index has dipped again to its near all-time low, sitting at 46.7 on a 100-point scale,” said Fritz Wenzel in his analysis of the results. 
 
“Simply put, Americans are growing by the month more pessimistic about their freedoms and their fear that government is trying to take them away.” 
 
He continued, “In the 10 months since the inauguration of the WorldNetDaily.com Freedom Index, it has dropped nearly 11 points on the 100-point scale, and has dropped from a decidedly positive position last spring to a decidedly negative position today.” 

The WND/Wenzel Poll was conducted by telephone from March 22-24 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 30 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 792 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.

Man, talk about priming a poll result!

This raises lots of questions aside from those about polling methodology.

Do you suppose some people would report feeling really free and thoroughly liberated irrespective of anything the U.S. government has done, say in the last 37 years since such a person first voted at 18?

How would one account for this, account for a person impervious to the tug of that which denies one their freedoms?

How would the internalized sense of one’s being free to some degree be indexed? I’m reminded there was no cogent psychology Locke could utilize. (Romantic!) notions about property and happiness, be they of Hayek or Nozick, cross over into what reasonable domain of psychology? You couldn’t go there with those fellows if you wanted to!

For example, Libertarian thought leader David Boaz:

Libertarians believe that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive people in a just society. One person’s individual plans — which may involve getting a job, starting a business, buying a house, and so on — may conflict with the plans of others, so the market makes many of us change our plans. But we all prosper from the operation of the free market, and there are no necessary conflicts between farmers and merchants, manufacturers and importers. Only when government begins to hand out rewards on the basis of political pressure do we find ourselves involved in group conflict, pushed to organize and contend with other groups for a piece of political power. (Libertarianism: A Primer)

The leap from ‘no necessary’ to ‘only when’ hammers home the naivete. The absence of socio-psychological understanding is, obviously, implicit.

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Burning Man


*

In the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico, the archaeologists Joyce Marcus and Kent Flannery have gained a remarkable insight into the origin of religion.

Universal Religion has been found in societies at every stage of development. Catholic Bishops as they filed into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 2008, and at a temple in South Korea, Buddhist monks paid homage to the Buddha.

During 15 years of excavation they have uncovered not some monumental temple but evidence of a critical transition in religious behavior. The record begins with a simple dancing floor, the arena for the communal religious dances held by hunter-gatherers in about 7,000 B.C. – The Evolution of the God Gene, Nicholas Wade, New York Times, Nov.18,2009

Of the several biases I’m happily locked into, this one is second to no other: as the one steps back through time and its human events and facts, eventually, each and every event and fact falls away. In effect, it “all” disappears.

The brightest ideas go poof! Religion? Poof!

I came to this bias when I—one day— realized that the sophist’s stock response to the foundationalist of any kind, was true. To whit:

What came before your first principle?

The downside to comprehending the slow stripping away of the accretion of all things human is having to expend effort to suppress my urge to remind any and every holder of a-historic and universalist and foundationalist and natural law fundamentalism that if you walk back far enough not even a single prototype for any of it exists.

(How far back? Probably 75,000 years is more than enough.)

“The replacement model of Christopher Stringer and Peter Andrews proposes that modern humans evolved from archaic humans 200,000-150,000 years ago only in Africa and then some of them migrated into the rest of the Old World replacing all of the Neandertals and other late archaic humans beginning around 60,000-40,000 years ago. If this interpretation of the fossil record is correct, all people today share a relatively modern African ancestry. All other lines of humans that had descended from Homo erectus presumably became extinct. From this view, the regional anatomical differences that we see among humans today are recent developments–evolving mostly in the last 40,000 years.” Evolution of Modern Humans – See also C.D.Kreger, Homo Sapiens

Questions about what early humans believed, are encumbered at such point when the mental functions having to do with the human organization of human experience can’t certainly be spoken of as including—what we understand to be—belief itself.

The general problem is knotty. Although it could be a concern of regular philosophy to consider what is the historical prototype for a specific attribution of mental function that is itself the prerequisite for an actual philosophical concept, in fact this lies almost entirely in the portfolio of philosophical anthropology, or, meta-anthropology. In other words, what was ‘belief’ before it was ‘belief’ is a practical question, is a question about human practice.

For very roughly 245,000 years, NO philosophers. However, it’s rather difficult to extract, using cultural forensics, cogent knowledge about both what was the epistemic repertoire of early humans, and, what were the milestones in the available (so-to-speak,) terms via which those same humans came to conceptualize this repertoire.

Still, it cannot be the case that one day, somebody said, in effect, “Oh, what we’re doing is religion!”

John Hart’s B.C. (and Wizard of Id,) are essential.

This is an ontological problem too. What exists as a description of human function, and when did it come into existence? When did religion-as-a-function fade to black?

Nicholas Wade, who authored the short news piece excerpted above, also wrote The Faith Instinct.

The Faith Instinct presents a novel approach to religion. It explores the evolutionary origins of religious behavior in early humans, and traces the cultural development of religion from its origins up until to the present day.

The book does not challenge the central belief of either atheists or people of faith, since it offers no opinion as to whether or not God exists. It’s about religious behavior and its value to the first human societies and their successors.

Based on evidence from anthropologists’ studies of religion, and new findings from genetics and archaeology, The Faith Instinct concludes that religious behavior was favored by natural selection because of the survival advantage it conferred on early human groups.

The religion of early peoples, who lived as hunters and gatherers, underwent a profound cultural transformation as the hunter gatherers formed the first settled societies. The form of religious observance shifted from all-night communal dances, to the spring and harvest festivals of early agricultural societies, to the forms of religion more familiar today. The Faith Instinct retraces the historical context in which Judaism, Christianity and Islam arose, and analyzes how religion has retained many of its ancient roles even in modern secular societies.

I haven’t read Wade’s book. I will; it’s on the short list. But, this description showcases the basic problem of employing modern conceptions retrospectively. We will not ever know what conceptions would have been contemporaneous with proto-religious behavior. It was case that the most primitive social organization elicited as a consequence of human ‘being’ came about prior to language, thus came about prior to the ability to name and articulate what was ‘coming about.’ In light of this, it is, I feel, an error to speak of gestural, danced, rhythmic expression as “religious observance.” Better: ecstatic communion?

It may turn out to be the case that evolutionary advantage accrues only to communal music, movement, and other communal behaviors, and, that religion may be an inessential overlay–kind of the evolutionary ‘psychological’ equivalent to epiphenomena.

But, all this is something more than proto-structures, something more, and enough upon which, to hang later behavioral (and adaptive,) artifactual acquisitions.


* Originally God Moved, collage S.Calhoun 11-2009

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Affectual Politics


Glenn Beck: “I really like our Constitution, I’d like to see it enacted. Let’s fix it and get back to where our founding fathers are.”

Loony, yet, “crazy ass sh*t, but. But, more than a few people do agree with Beck. This is so even if such people couldn’t tell you anything intelligent about what the founding fathers actually thought; what they contested among themselves; and what were their various radically liberal principles.

Here’s a conjecture (of mine) about ideology and history. There is no extant or past example of a form of governance for which it could be demonstrated that it’s procedures of governance wholly and absolutely are realized solely as a matter of adherence to ideological principles. This is falsifiable if it can be shown that there exists or has existed a form of governance for which, in its application of its principles, every instance was/is entirely consistent with principle.

Let’s imagine there are people who are committed to some set of principles in the following, narrow way:

Our endeavor is to instantiate a set of principles. We believe this for two reasons. First, because this set of principles is the best of all possible set of principles. Second, that the principles are best, is verified by the fact that their truth is the most reasonable truth upon which any possible set of principles could be based.

News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & country. We seek to uphold the rights of citizens under the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, Republican principles / ideals, transparent & limited government, free markets, liberty & individual freedom. The ARRA News Service is an outreach of the Arkansas Republican Assembly. However, all content approval rests with the ARRA Editor. While numerous positions are reported, our beliefs & principles remain fixed. mission

Our political climate in the U.S. is very interesting in this year, unfolding now, after the election of Mr. Obama. Several developments have taken me by surprise. Obama surprised me by not partnering his financial system bailout policies with policies aimed to help right the economy of main street from the bottom up. It was also surprising that he didn’t articulate in concrete, instrumental, terms what kind of reform he would endorse, and insist upon, to end the depredations of the speculation-driven shadow economy.

Then, he moved to reform health care and laid it in the laps of his congressional majorities.

In light of these developments, I’m not in any way surprised that people have been stirred to reactionary and (called by me,) restorative activism. Nor was it surprising that they oriented their dissent positively around their patriotism, and, negatively, around their primal fear that the government is posed to strip from him or her so-called freedoms.

I’ll let Missy, writing on her blog at TCUNation, the Social Network for Conservatives, explain:

But the worst part? It allows the federal gov’t to be in charge of every aspect of your life. Every decision you make on a daily basis can be linked to “healthcare.” You drive an SUV? You’re contributing to pollution & that increases asthma…..you need to pay more! Since we have direct access to all of your accounts we know you own a 4-wheeler. That’s dangerous………you need to pay more! We see that you eat at McD’s twice a week. That’s bad for you……you need to pay more! YOU OWN A GUN??? THAT’S DANGEROUS! YOU NEED TO PAY ALOT MORE!!

These liberal fanatics will most DEFINITELY use the federal gov’ts financial stake in your everyday lifestyle choices to CONTROL THEM. Your decisions will no longer be your own, they will be decisions that will be for the “collective good.” And they will be MANDATED & CONTROLLED by the gov’t. And in order to “nudge” you into compliance with their ideology of how you should live your life, they will simply put a financial burden on you if you choose differently.

The paranoia surprised me. How does one square paranoia with a normative conservative ethos that holds its funding principles to be both first, and, last, and to be foundational, and also holds these principles are the only possible enlightened goal granted by reasoning through the problem of governance? Where does paranoia fit in? Is it possible that such foundational principles are, in fact, extremely fragile?

I don’t think so. President Obama has offered a mild liberalism. The bank bailout was extraordinary, yet a Republican would have had to have done the same thing. (Creative destruction is a notion one can practically hold only when the bombs aren’t falling on your own head.) All such bailouts tend to occupy uncertain spots in any ideology. A bailout is above all expedient and unhooked from conventional, ideological morality. They’re grotesque too.

So far Obama’s maneuvering hasn’t been much like anything we associate, historically, with truly radical presidents; especially those with very novel views of the Constitution—such as Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan, and Bush II. Nevertheless, the ideological principles survive, and this suggests underlying principles, aren’t at all fragile. This includes freedom given to be a result of, contingent upon, application of, ideological principles.

So why is paranoia evoked?

My tentative view is: affect is consequential in the current ‘social psychological framed’ ecology. Forged in the magical bake shop of projective identification, specific affect-laden estimations are on offer. So: a messianic leader is scapegoated so as to be the cause of knowing (i.e. unconsciously feeling,) that what is possessed, “freedom,” is to be stolen by the conspiratorial Other, (i.e. an alter.) This inflated threat is to be met and defeated by, ironically enough, the collective personal power of freedom-loving individualists. It’s worth noting that in some quarters, this evil goat is assumed to have super powers, or, alternately, is assumed to be the servant of hidden masters.

Putting the participation mystique aside–may Levi-Strauss rest in peace–what are the embedded chain-of-being regimes supposed in a clash between the red-in-blood red-tending-to-blue meme, and, the blue-tending-to-orange meme. These, given by Grave’s Spiral Dynamics, and, given by me in my deployment of a shadow dynamics* supposing the red shadow of blue conservatism’s ‘traditionalistic’ paternal chain of being comes to clash with the neoliberal paternal chain-of-being of Orange. Pre-modern, the red shadow of blue, collides here with the post-modern orientation toward technocratic problem-solving.

(Or, the atavistic self and identity, is felt to be threatened by the spectral, post-modern selves and identities. Perhaps, were one to dig into the narratives, one would find at their core a clash between the production of certainty and productions of uncertainty.)

Among many curious aspects of this clash, is the gravity given to an emotionalized, largely unconscious, sense of freedom. (I’ve written about this before.) What is it about a notional freedom that one can be dispossessed of, versus, other less vulnerable notions about freedom? Isn’t it interesting that the conservative concept of freedom-under-constraint, a necessary consequence of the pessimistic view of human nature, is subsumed in the shuffle through the emotionally-charged libertarian bake shop!

Then there is the conspiratorial tenor of magical narratives. Of course, it’s long-standing that the government is anthropomorphized to be a kind of beast, capable of devouring freedom. In this respect the conspiracy mongering of Ron Paul, or Michelle Bachman, comes to be of a piece with the extreme supernaturalized conspiracy advocates, David Ickes, Alex Jones, and Michael Tsarion. In turn, the current extremes are merely the contemporary waves of olden conspiracy theories. And, heck, why not share some air time with the truly deluded?

“they’ve been positioning…” they, theY, thEY, THEY!


*I have yet to go into this in detail. However, roughly, my proposal is that the vertical scale of Spiral Dynamic is configurable as a dynamic, oppositional scale. This is able to depict how higher and lower memes serve as descriptive categories, and schema, for shadow dynamics. For example, by such a dynamic scale, the shadow dynamics for the Blue Meme are discoverable as aspects of Red (below) and Orange (above). In my novel (or idiosyncratic,) view, the shadow dynamics then tend to fall (or regress,) toward the lower, more archaic order, while this unconscious propensity is galvanized by fear of the upward pull toward the newer, more complex order.

My notion here supposes that a concept of Blue freedom, will come to be defended at the lower, unconscious level of Red. Similarly, this defense is waged against a super-charged (by way of ‘social cognitized’ projection,) ‘controlling’ Orange. Grant this phenomenology, and the result is that fear of bureaucracy regresses to fear of collective control, control formulated to the scale conspiracy; “conspiracy” being the shadow concretization of Orange—in its worst form.

This is consistent—well, at least it is to me—with the mental procedures via which contested, soft conceptions–such as freedom–are reduced, reified and objectified. Then the reified conception’s opposite, in this case anti-freedom, is realized and nailed to the alter. Thus, a collective complex is constellated.

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