limbic revision
July 21, 2012, 4:09 pm
Filed under: the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: , , ,

If you love me, don’t try to change me, is the instruction we get – and give – when beginning a new relationship.  And then we get together and slowly, inexorably change each other.

Why does this make me think of couples that wear matching Christmas sweaters, and owners that look like their dogs?

Here is the science – and poetry – of it from the Book A General Theory of Love:

In a relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. This astounding legacy of our combined status as mammals and neural beings is limbic revision: the power to remodel the emotional parts of the people we love, as our Attractors [coteries of ingrained information patterns] activate certain limbic pathways, and the brain’s inexorable memory mechanism reinforces them.

Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.

A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis; Fari Amini; Richard Lannon

“A primordial area of the brain creates both the capacity and the need for emotional intimacy that all humans share. A General Theory of Love describes the workings of this ancient, pivotal urge and reveals that our nervous systems are not self-contained. Instead, our brains link with those of the people close to us, in a silent rhythm that makes up the very life force of the body. These wordless and powerful ties determine our moods, stabilize and maintain our health and well-being, and change the structure of our brains.”

A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis; Fari Amini; Richard Lannon



amo: paradoxes
July 4, 2012, 2:17 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.

In the world of architecture and the built environment, wishful thinking is in the ascendent in direct proportion to the decline of relevancy and action.  We’re dreaming and the real world becomes more and more inaccessible.

This information graphic is by AMO, a part of their proposal for a new architecture and planning school in Moscow.  It describes a crisis in planning education which they cheekily propose to put at the heart of their new school and curriculum.

I’ve written some – maybe mostly redundant – notes in reaction:

ENERGY – We are hyper aware of sustainability … and doing virtually nothing about it.  Our new discourse and methods for sustainability are sneakily designed to propagate the same disastrous planning ideals that were used to make the giant unsustainable mess we now live in.

DESIGN – We lavish praise and awards on designs and designers; their work and names become household names … even as the designs fail in fundamental ways to meet the aspirations of basic briefs.

PUBLIC SPACE – Tech is a decades long, 24 hour, djayd hit parade – ‘what’s apple up to now?  how ’bout now?’ ‘and goo –?’ ‘and face –‘ – … and the real world we inhabit and share and touch and feel means less and less.

PRESERVATION – For this generation, nostalgia is everything, but nostalgia is an empty shell.  Memory, on the other hand, remembers the things nostalgia yearns for, but unlike nostalgia, rigorously inducts them into a real present.

THINNING – We are building ever further and and ever thinner … to the direct detriment of our ability to make ‘intense’ use of the places we inhabit.

Source:  AMO, Strelka

the power of negative thinking

It turns out there’s a long tradition in philosophy and spirituality that’s about embracing negativity, about easing up on all this positive thinking, and learning instead to bathe in insecurity and uncertainty and failure, to confront your mortality and to find the enormous potential for happiness that’s lurking inside all that.

Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote:  Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

shot through with intentions and accents
July 2, 2012, 10:49 pm
Filed under: brave new world, unseen world | Tags: , ,

We used to think Canada and Switzerland were neutral.  Small countries without much influence, ineffective armies, reliant on diplomacy and being nice.  Now Canada is known as a rather slutty broker for minerals, ores and natural resources and Switzerland is where our fat cats go to hide their ill gotten lucre.  Neutrality in the globalized market fundamentalized 21st century?  How naive.

When I did my liberal arts undergrad, the curriculum was Western historical canon dominated.  But there were whispers and agitations from speculative and peripheral schools.  They were called ‘readings:’  feminist reading, Marxist reading, gender reading etc.

Believing a country can be neutral is like believing there is one grand historical or political etc truth.  Countries and institutions and schools are logically as willful as the people who run them.

Words, the base element in every political act, aren’t neutral either.  Each jot and tittle brims with intention and nuance.  Every inflection meant to sway or to push right to and even over the breach.

Here’s Mikhail Bakhtin on how words are fully corrupted by influence:

“As a result of the stratifying forces in language, there are no ‘neutral’ words and forms––words and forms that can belong to ‘no one’; language has been completely taken over, shot through with intentions and accents. For any individual consciousness living in it, language is not an abstract system…but rather a concrete heteroglot conception of the world. All the words have the ‘taste’ of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a generation, an age group, the day and hour…all words are populated by intentions…

Mikhail Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel,” The Dialogic Imagination

Dialogic Tectonic, Scott Francisco