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Month: October 2013

October 02013

So ends the month of October.   Fogbanking: An Overview August-October 2013 August (started writing mid-month): 4 posts, ~5,600 words, post to revisit: Kludge. September: 8 more »

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Mencius Moldbug II

In which things become a little hairy. 

This post is now my official longest, but it’s mostly Moldbug quotes and the guy wrote up a storm, so I don’t think it properly counts.

After his discussion of the American Revolution, Moldbug quickly turns his attention to what many might consider his most caustic positions: to Moldbug, Anthropogenic Climate Change is an iron triangle ideology touted for power-seeking reasons more than truth value; mainstream economic thought is obviously broken; “human neurological uniformity” (i.e. that there is no difference in intelligence by, for example, race) is a falsehood pursued for ideological reasons. He then begins prescribing an ideal economic and government solution: “Plan Moldbug” which I found very interesting (especially in his concerns on forms of government). 

I found his climate change bit to be the least original of his work (despite his personal connections to the people involved- or maybe because of it), and also in general it’s a subject I’m not interested in noting or commenting on. I’m not advocating any of his views anyway, but to be clear, it’s not so much distaste as simple disinterest that compels me to move on from this one.

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Mencius Moldbug I

The Ninety Degree Revolution

This article on Aeon Magazine proposed a new political dichotomy based on (as ever) views of human nature and what kind of future we are prepared for.

The new dichotomy: Green (or DownWings) vs Black (or UpWings). [As opposed to Red/Blue (or Blue/Red if you’re American) Left-Wing/Right-Wing]

Of course, the strength of any dichotomy is also its weakness: obviously it filters information in a way that supposes a certain kind of dialectic, and it ignores ideas that don’t fit easily on its single dimension, etc. But categorizing makes thinking of matters much more manageable. If we all admitted that all dichotomies are false and left it there, we’d still have to grapple with the practically infinite different concepts and artifacts out there that compete or cooperate or resemble or negate each other. Better to struggle with the simple tools- they’re flawed but they’re useful enough. If you need to capture new data, build a new dichotomy. Or, if you need more dimensions, go for it- but more dimensions doesn’t mean more Truth (if you’re still into that capital-T stuff), and it is not a sure thing whether it means more Usefulness either (although it certainly can be).

I’ve decided to continue, for a little while at least, to survey more literature of interesting DownWing thought. UpWings have enough cheerleaders already, they couldn’t keep my interest easily right now since I’ve been surrounded by them for years.

Continue reading Mencius Moldbug I

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Mulling Over

More only-vaguely-connected notes on things I’ve done and things I’ve considered.

I’m kind of wandering in the desert right now, I expect to find a direction again soon. This one may be especially incoherent or especially uninteresting, I could certainly see that complaint.

 

I. (Notes and Lists)

I scribble notes. In college my desk was stuffed with post-it notes of half-thoughts, most of which are lost shortly after birth. I have ancient, barely-cogent notes on the backs of yellowed receipt paper because it was what was there when I had the idea. Virtually none of them are worth a god damn but I still do it. Sometimes they fuel good conversation.
The Pleasures of Merely Circulating

My New Year’s Resolution last January was to make more lists. I didn’t bother getting more specific because the act of list-making was really what I was looking for. I just wanted to create data about myself to look at and build from. Maybe a list has one more dimension than a note and in some stupid abstract way I wanted more out of my compulsion to scribble.I wrote lists about what I ate, on-and-off for months. I began seriously recording my dreams. I began more consciously compiling links to stories I found interesting.
I think for the next year I’m going to intensify that effort. Again, it’s not a big new habitual thing, but it’s a small activity I think I can keep up with and build towards something.
What You Do Today is Not Essential

So far, writing has been easy for me. I hope to make it harder for myself and maybe write something more worth reading someday. Part of the reason it’s easy is because I haven’t constrained myself to a strict topic (although I do return to the same kind of themes here). (Other reasons why it’s easy: I hardly edit, I have no pressure to write, I don’t have much to say). I have a Pearltree where I’d organized many of the related links I’ve referenced here, constructed months before I started blogging here. I have a workflowy that I develop loose strands of stuff that link together things I’ve read across the internet. I’m also really happy with my social network streams and the material that gets shared with me. So a lot of post topics get triggered by a new link or book but I already had a jumble of related stuff in mind that I can draw a line through and call a plot.
I particularly like this one: “What Is Your Water Talent?

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In-Flight Notes

It’s becoming a ritual: writing on my work laptop as I fly home to New York every week, armed with Feedly (via over-expensive in-flight wifi) and free liquor. This particular post is probably derivative of some earlier thoughts I’ve expressed (this time more concisely!), and also borrows vocabulary liberally from recent reads/experiences.

 

I.

Even without getting into Whorfian linguistic relativity, there is something to be said about rhetorical frameworks that we use as cognitive tools.

I recently took a course on impromptu speaking, and they introduced frameworks for smoother speaking on-the-fly. For example:

On the one hand [  ], but on the other hand [ ]

You know there are two hands. If you’re improvising a speech, you can run with one hand as long as you’d like. The other hand is waiting for you when you hit a snag, and you’ll be thinking about that other hand as you speak on this hand as well. Setting up an answer this way telegraphs your moves to the audience and creates two jars for you to fill with stuff before you come to a likely concluding though (agreeing with one hand or offering some compromise position, having ‘demonstrated’ a knowledge of the field in question).

Metaphor/metonymy

The Method of Loci is one of the oldest tricks in the book, connecting spatial intelligence to matters of fact. More broadly, using a phrase or metaphor as a central idea provides an anchor (x is like y. X does this thing, and so does Y. X does this other thing, similarly to how Y does). Having a clear theme to return to gives the audience an expectation, and provides a framework for the speaker to relax and work his way through while thinking ahead to the next aspect of why x is like y.

Specifically, [  ] but more broadly, [  ] (or the reverse)

This version is good for bad news you need to acknowledge or brush off (or a topic you only know about in broad strokes)- excellent for politicians. The reverse is useful if you are an expert and want to make a point more concrete.

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On Choking Your Enemies to Death

Some free writing that came out strangely focused. No idea what set me off.

I wish I could credit the standup comedian who suggested this idea I’m elaborating on. I honestly can’t find the video again (I think it’s an old special), but I remembered this idea. I will edit this with the source if/when I find it.

If you intend to punish an institution, you aren’t performing maximum damage [within the confines of the law] by setting up a boycott. In fact, (obviously) by announcing a boycott you’re providing publicity and giving partisans an opportunity to draw a line that could even benefit the institution (ex. protesting Chik-Fil-A for backing of anti-gay groups; boycott was followed by smug conservative-staged consumption drives. It was brilliant- better than the usual “make-people-feel-good-for-doing-nothing” causeway, they found a way for Southerners to eat fried chicken sandwiches in support of a cause they believe in. Holy shit.) Even in situations where no one cares to oppose you, boycotts are often ignored, and protests are usually not all that disruptive to anyone (and if it is, especially to third parties, you will be villainized).

No, if you want to perform massive damage (again, within the confines of the law), you want to find ways for the institution to burn massive amounts of capital (monetary or otherwise) just to get through the day.

Don’t try to starve your enemies. Choke them instead- they’ll feel it sooner.

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A Survey of Futures

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve burned out my backlog. Scribbled this out on the plane and cleaned it up afterwards, hopefully it makes sense.

Futures (By Rate-of-Change)

Before moving onto a new sequence of ideas, I wanted to play with some other notes I have, about views of futurism.

Quick pick-me-ups before I get started:

  • Here’s a warm keynote on seeing the future by Warren Ellis.
  • Here’s a great passage from Peter Watt’s “Blindsight” shared by Kartik Agaram. “Technology Implies Belligerence”

In this post, I wanted to scribble out a few other kinds of futures (very broadly speaking!) just to kind of help myself (and you, my poor reader!) to zoom back out from Spengler’s cramped, grey, uniquely German space.

The central metric that I tried to order these futures by is the “rate of technological change”, and whether that change is increasing or decreasing human productivity.

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Spengler on Pseudomorphosis

Pseudomorphosis is one of my favorite surprises in reading notes on Spengler. Quotations are from Decline, and I’ll let the quotations carry the points here. I had some guidance by selected quotes cited by this site. This is my last post on Decline for a little while. I scribbled some notes on my flight, and I’m cleaning that up for my next post.

 

Pseudomorphosis

In mineralogy, a pseudomorph is a mineral or mineral compound that appears in an atypical form (crystal system), resulting from a substitution process in which the appearance and dimensions remain constant, but the original mineral is replaced by another. The name literally means “false form”.

Terminology for pseudomorphs is “replacer after original“, as in brookite after rutile.

Wikipedia: Pseudomorph

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