24 April 2012
Words to the wise:
Do not use the Giant Axe of Infernal Eternal Fire of the Ancient Relentless Doomlords to prepare a salad.
23 April 2012
21 April 2012
Following on from:
Seriousness defends stupidity and lies. It's the glue that binds together cant and flummery.
The danger of humour, satire and mockery is that it shakes up that veil of pomp and dullness and reveals the truth.
Seriousness dresses itself up as a purposefulness, leadership and hard work. It inhabits hierarchies. It loves rules and structure. It infests forms and todo lists. It loves punctuality and appointments. It abhors wit and absurdity. It loves calendars, bureaucracy and being busy.
I think John Cleese describes the feeling well:
[...] the mode that we are in most of the time when we're at work. We have inside a feeling that's there's lots to be done. and we have to get on with it if we're going to get through it all. It's an active probably slightly anxious mode. Although the anxiety can be exciting an pleasurable. It's a mode in which we're probably a little impatient, if only with ourselves. It has a little tension in it. Not much humour. It's a mode in which we're very purposeful. And its a mode in which we can get very stressed and even a bit manic. But not creative.
He calls this the "closed mode", the uncreative mode.
He goes on:
By contrast the open mode is relaxed, expansive, less purposeful. In which we're probably more contemplative, more inclined to humour - which always accompanies a wider perspective - and consequently more playful. Its a mood in which curiosity for its own sake can operate. Because we're not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. We can play. A that is what lets our natural creativity to surface.
It explains why you come up with good ideas in the shower. Or on a walk. Or when you are not doing anything in particular. It explains why so many workplaces - which tend toward the serious - are so lacking in creativity. It explains why so many people, when they get stressed, stop being able to be creative and start to become more serious.
Both modes are probably necessary and even fun.
But I will say this:
Play is the opposite of seriousness. It mercilessly slices through cant and flummery like a giant axe made of laughter.
Here's Cleese on creativity. Ironically, he seems a little serious?
(Thanks to Brian for the link to the video!)
20 April 2012
I have been watching a few TV shows lately. Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, etc.
They all have common characteristics.
They have a superficial nod to the genre - fantasy, sci-fi, zombie movies, etc.
Then they layer soap opera on top:
- male/female relations;
So essentially they are all human interest stories in various forms of fancy dress.
None them are about ideas.
So, I thought, what about TV shows that aren't interested in humans?
19 April 2012
Following on from: Slaves of the Skeuomorphs
A skeuomorph [...] is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines.
Everytime I read about "ebooks" and hear all the attendant discussion I always think:
They're just web pages, right? What's the fuss?
And yet we have businesses built around them. Authors make money from them. E-readers are built around them.
But it seems silly to me. Web pages superseded all this stuff didn't they?
But then I thought: the whole legal system is based around words, too. And money is essentially imaginary.
Thought and social organisation is starting to bump into dematerialised digital reality.
ebooks, music albums, even movies, etc ... they are all remnants of the pre-digital era. They are Skeuomorphs designed to make humans feel better about everything being reduced to data.
We are arguing about ideas, words.
And they change at a slower pace than technology. If, as some people say, technology is speeding up, it follows that it will come into more and more conflict with the ideas and words we use to organise ourselves around it.
And that presents a problem: because if something can't be understood it becomes an unknown. A people usually fear the unknown. They try to ignore or control it, to put it one side, to gloss over it.
Religious people do it by labelling it "God". Is it inevitable that most humans will end up in an essentially semantic and emotional conflict with new technology?
No, I think the technology will simply bypass that part of our conscious brain as suboptimal.
Consciousness becomes a skeuomorph.
At that stage, because what we perceive is simply an superfluous anachronism, it is a form of protoconciousness just existing out of sheer momentum :-).
And this may already have happened. You'd have no way of knowing.
18 April 2012
Nearly everybody seems to have a hero or two. Somebody they consider the real deal. This is particularly prevalent in people trying to develop artistic skills or ... well, any skills that have heroic figures associated with it.
Rockers might have Lemmy, for instance. Keith Richards has Chuck Berry. Eric Clapton has Robert Johnson. Stephen Fry has Oscar Wilde. People who see themselves as economic liberals might be fans of Margaret Thatcher. The people who don't like those people might be fans of Noam Chomsky or Che Guevera. Tom Maxwell has Louis Armstrong. A punk rocker might love Joan Jett. Hardware hackers might laude Steve Wozniak. A mathematician might be a big fan of Benoit Mandelbrot. And artists might be a fan of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Or maybe you're a body builder and think Arnold Schwarzenegger is the man. Maybe a composer loves Bach or Stockhausen. A country singer might be a big fan of Lefty Frizzel. Basketballers might hail Dr. J, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.
Of course, heros can rise and fall. So people become fans of figures of history. Metallica in the mid-80s being a classic. "Before the Black album".
And people mix their ideals together, too. So they create composites.
And so the ideal is created.
Some ideals appeal because there is a twinge of recognition in the person who conceives it. Something clicks. It's as you have some understanding of the ideal that perhaps more casual observers don't feel or don't even notice. Empathy for the hero. A sense of "I could do that!"
When Paul McCartney says he heard Elvis and went:
"That's it! That's it!"
He just knew. And so a bond is created. A bond that is part recognition, part hope or ambition, part unknown ("how does she do that?").
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