coromandal


staring at the space within
September 7, 2014, 10:58 am
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge | Tags: , , , ,

What people read on flights, from Amis’ The Information:

In Coach: pluralistic, liberal, humane, war, fiction, Russian lit, classical lit, philosophy.

In Business World: outright junk, thrillers, chillers, tinglers, escape.

In First Class: nothing, perfume catalogue.

Does the body rot from the head down? What if it were reversed and first class read all that good stuff? If we took away the perfume catalogues, passed forward the lit. Would there be benevolence and flourishing?

I’d rather be in coach, not for the leg room –. Here is Amis:

The stewardess escorted him down the length of Economy, and then another stewardess escorted him through Business World; he ducked under a curtain, and then another stewardess led him into First. As hemade this journey, this journey within a journey, getting nearer to America, Richard looked to see what everyone was reading, and found that his progress through the plane described a diagonal of shocking decline. In Coach the laptop literature was pluralistic, liberal, and humane: Daniel Deronda, trigonometry, Lebanon, World War I, Homer, Diderot, Anna Karenina. As for Business World, it wasn’t that the businessmen and businesswomen were immersing themselves in incorrigibly minor or incautiously canonized figures like Thornton Wilder or Dostoevsky, or with lightweight literary middlemen like A. L. Rowse or Lord David Cecil, or yet with teacup-storm philosophers, exploded revisionist historians, stubbornly Steady State cosmologists or pallid poets over whom the finger of sentimentality continued to waver. They were reading trex: outright junk. Fat financial thrillers, chunky chillers and tublike tinglers: escape from the pressures facing the contemporary entrepreneur. And then he pitched up in the intellectual slum of First Class, among all its drugged tycoons, and the few books lying unregarded on softly swelling stomachs were jacketed with hunting scenes or ripe young couples in mid swirl or swoon. They all lay there flattened out in the digestive torpor of midafternoon, and nobody was reading anything-except for a lone seeker who gazed, with a frown of mature skepticism, at a perfume catalogue. Jesus, what happened on the Concorde? Scouring the troposphere at the limit of life, and given a glimpse of the other side-a glimpse of what the rest of the universe almost exclusively consisted of (unpunctuated vacuum)-the Mach 2 morons would be sitting there, and staring into space. The space within. Not the space without. In the very nib of the airplane sat Gwyn Barry, who was reading his schedule.

Martin Amis, The Information



not a leader
August 16, 2014, 6:41 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

To be a leader – in this view below – you must: see yourself, rule yourself, see others, act altruistically, and organize people. There’s a heavy emphasis on charisma, self and action, and a cursory mention of others.

Curiously no mention at all of knowledge or vision: in this view what you know of yourself is more important than what you know of the world. So much so that knowledge of the world isn’t even mentioned. Is this a case of “the worst  / Are full of passionate intensity”?  Charisma is all you need in the age of sheep.

I think a leader pulls us into new places. The rope attached to a dog’s collar is a lead. The whole purpose is wagging your tail on the way to the new place.

Calvino describes the “agile… poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times – noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring – belongs to the realm of death.” A leader pulls us up to a place of lightness and life.

The fatally incomplete list:

What Makes a Leader? Daniel Goleman



where notable individuals live (and die)

A fantastic mapping of centers of intellectual life in Europe. All Rome until the 18th C when England and Europe explodes into life. It would be fascinating to add schools of thought into this research / visualization. Also, a 20th century map would be instructive to see what ideas are controlling – or freeing – us today.

From CITYLAB, What We Can and Can’t Learn From 2,000 Years of Migration Data for ‘Western Intellectuals’, Researchers recently compiled birth and death data for famous North Americans and Europeans, Mark Byrnes:

Rome was the center of western culture from the Roman Empire to the 1700s, while Paris gained international prominence soon after. Once the industrial revolution took hold, the United Kingdom saw an explosive amount of migration into its cities, as seen in blinding white lights.

The more deaths than births of ‘notable individuals’ a city has, the more likely it serves as a hub for such people. A good example would be Hollywood, a place that, the researchers note, saw more than 10 times as many deaths as births among the names studied. The western world’s ‘notable individuals’ of the 14th century died an average distance of 133 miles from their birth city. But thanks to cars and planes, today’s now die an average of 237 miles from where they were born.

From YouTube:

This video depicts European birth to death network dynamics 0 to 2012 CE according to “deceased persons” in Freebase.com. The video was first published as Movie S1 in the article “A Network Framework of Cultural History” by Schich et al. in Science Magazine on August 1, 2014.

In the current video, the dynamically applied color scheme indicates birth sources (blue) and death attractors (red). Individuals in the videos appear as particles gravitating towards their death locations, indicating collective directions of flow. The video is rendered with one frame per year at 30 frames per second. Further characterization of the movie content is given in the Schich at al. paper.

Data / Video Copyright: Maximilian Schich and Mauro Martino, 2014



learn remorselessness

Is business to do good and do well, follow rules, keep obligations, listen to your conscience, be loyal, have a sense of commonweal, think long term, be thoughtful?

Or is it a terrifying place, with a devastating pace, where people are reckless, ruthless, predatory, and thieving, are remorseless, think only of short term gains, have no regrets, are disruptive? Schumpeter’s gale.

It’s a choice. Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.

From Jill Lepore, The New Yorker:

The upstarts who work at startups don’t often stay at any one place for very long. (Three out of four startups fail. More than nine out of ten never earn a return.) They work a year here, a few months there—zany hours everywhere. They wear jeans and sneakers and ride scooters and share offices and sprawl on couches like Great Danes. Their coffee machines look like dollhouse-size factories.
They are told that they should be reckless and ruthless. Their investors, if they’re like Josh Linkner, tell them that the world is a terrifying place, moving at a devastating pace. “Today I run a venture capital firm and back the next generation of innovators who are, as I was throughout my earlier career, dead-focused on eating your lunch,” Linkner writes. His job appears to be to convince a generation of people who want to do good and do well to learn, instead, remorselessness. Forget rules, obligations, your conscience, loyalty, a sense of the commonweal. If you start a business and it succeeds, Linkner advises, sell it and take the cash. Don’t look back. Never pause. Disrupt or be disrupted.

The Disruption Machine, Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

 

 



Incredulity, not docility

An inquiring mind, one that challenges authority, and has a mentoring relationship with teachers

vs

A soft compliant mind.

The Common Core debate is important not simply because of the standards’ immediate effects on pupils, but because it offers us an opportunity to ask the biggest questions about our education system: What should be the guiding ethos of public education in a democratic society? What are we preparing students for, other than participation in economic life? And how should schooling be structured to reflect democratic values?

The short answers: Incredulity, not docility, is the trait to inculcate, along with a citizenry disposed to questioning received wisdom and orthodoxy and a less hierarchical teacher-student relationship. In each instance, the Common Core is an impediment.

Participation is a necessary component of freedom

vs

Memorization of facts will make us dutiful.

From a democracy standpoint, there’s much to question here. First, the virtual omission of civic education, an area already treated as an afterthought in many public schools. The civic education we do have tends to be sanitized, fact-heavy regurgitation that casts democratic participation more as a duty than as a vehicle for emancipation.

Continue reading



happily intrinsic
July 26, 2014, 12:50 pm
Filed under: departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: ,

Alain-Laboile-Photography-1

Alain Laboile

Between friendship and fame pick friendship:

Consider fame. In 2009, researchers from the University of Rochester conducted a study tracking the success of 147 recent graduates in reaching their stated goals after graduation. Some had “intrinsic” goals, such as deep, enduring relationships. Others had “extrinsic” goals, such as achieving reputation or fame. The scholars found that intrinsic goals were associated with happier lives. But the people who pursued extrinsic goals experienced more negative emotions, such as shame and fear. They even suffered more physical maladies.

Love People, Not Pleasure, Arthur C. Brooks



Enjoyable autonomous work
July 19, 2014, 9:51 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

Here’s a case for finding enjoyable autonomous work. It’s probably impossible to find it for 100% of your day / week / year / life, but maybe 50% or 40% or maybe much less. Anyway whatever the number you are lucky enough to achieve, increasing the proportion should help to decrease boredom.

Boredom was invented in 1760. That is the year, according to academic Lars Svendsen in his excellent study A Philosophy of Boredom (2005), that the word was first used in English. The other great invention of the time was the Spinning Jenny, which heralded the start of the Industrial Revolution. In other words, boredom arrives with the division of labour and the transformation of enjoyable autonomous work into tedious slave-work.

Tom Hodgkinson, How to Be Free, p 18

 

 




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