coromandal


suburbia plus dinosaurs
March 12, 2016, 2:26 pm
Filed under: chronotopes, unseen world | Tags: , , ,

Idealist 1 (believes in perfect society) > Realist < Idealist 2 (supports the status quo)

The realist, wedged between two types of idealist, believes things will change no matter what, either for the better, or for the worse. The true idealist believes there will be no change or that there can be perfection. The big surprise though, status quo is an idealist position because of the inevitability of change.

There are two kinds of starry-eyed idealist: those who believe in a perfect society; and those who hold that the future will be pretty much like the present. Wedged between them are the realists, who recognize that the future will be a lot different, though by no means necessarily better. To claim that human affairs might feasibly be much improved is a realist position; those with their heads truly in the clouds are the hard-nosed pragmatists who behave as though chocolate-chip cookies or the International Monetary Fund will still be with us in two thousand years time. Such a view is simply an inversion of the television cartoon The Flintstones, for which the remote past is just American suburbia plus dinosaurs.

Utopias I, Figures of Dissent, Terry Eagleton



holding ideas tentatively
November 23, 2012, 3:15 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

When things are uncertain or even scary and everyone looks around for people to lead them and to believe in, they often look for assertions of finitude, grand visions that are certain, minds that have been made up, plans that are strong and complete.  They certainly are not interested in wishy-washiness, ambivalence, backtracking and changes of mind.

But, as Russell describes below, there is often a problem with absolute certainty:  shifting reality – what is perceived to be true now will need to be adjusted tomorrow, as circumstances change.  Ironically, the one thing we can be sure of is that circumstances will change; and that, in a mutable world, it’s better to hold your ideas lightly.

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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



to unprotect ourselves for the sake of bigness and of love

Summoning up a whirlwind of illogic, Margaret Thatcher once said, “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.”  That was the beginning of the end of the idea of society in contemporary western life.  This new idea has run its course for the better part of two generations.  It has had enormous impact on our lives and our politics.  There are evidences of it in everything from personal attitudes to public policies.

I can think of numerous examples of how the idea that society, or a commitment to the public good, is essential to having a good life has ebbed away.  On a personal level, the incidence of competition and lack of empathy among friends and colleagues is higher and harsher than it used to – and needs to – be.  Professional jealousy and character assassination at work particularly, as people angle to get ahead, are commonly accepted, where I don’t think they used to be as much.   Continue reading