Friday, May 22, 2009

Later than now

I'm reading a scholarly recreation of the mind of Thomas Jefferson. The author essentially uses historical documentation and a really flimsy, seemingly biased folk psychology to recreate the framework of what and how Jefferson might have thought about the events and actions of his life. He's clearly got the Jefferson scholarship done and done, but the lack of an academic or clinical background in psychology makes his use of them very thin. One of the problems is trying to get in Jefferson's head without taking up his perspective.

There is a psychological explanation for pscyho or sociopathic behavior, whatever you care to call it. Violent behavior has an explanation. It's not always seen as valid from the social perspective, but given enough information, especially if that information is selected to exclude the most contentious time of a person's life, you can get any amount of vicious or vituperative behavior to seem rational. Not that Jefferson was a sociopath, but he sure did, said, and wrote some tough stuff to swallow. Some things that echo through the hallways of time and also the Bush/Cheney presidency, most obviously but among other things as well.
Say that time during the early days of you're national government, when you were on the verge of treason, or that time when you turned on one of your closest friends, and tacitly authorized media tactics that would make Fox News Blush. Being one of the founding fathers, people might immitate you (and recreate those bad habits [if not properly seen and identified]).

So that's the problem with that. But it's still useful and full of interesting information and Herculian psychological hoops to jump through to validate the man's clear disregard for the practical outcomes of his radical ideals (I was gonna use the word fanatic, but I somehow feel radical is a better, more ambivalent word).

Good read. American Sphinx. That's the title. Also almost half-way into Weber's essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Dense, early sociology. Very much a kind of philosophic history about the connection between the Reformation and the rise of Capitalism. Amazingly presentient even now almost a hundred years later. And fascinating for its ideas and sociological proofs about how capitalism came to replace feudalism and the nascent mercantilism. It gained a religious undertone. One that Weber admits has mostly washed away (by 1909ish [when he wrote the book]). Kinda scary, huh?


Sunday, May 10, 2009

The cultural landscape

There have been all kinds of trends in culture over the years. From fashion, to slang, to all the new social media and now dinosaur-seeming traditional media, the desire to do good, or to not care so much about others.
And culture plays such a large part in what kind of political economic structures will be successful or accepted. But the culture is also respondent. It grows and changes in ways we cannot totally understand or control. It's the ultimate memetical social force and one that is used or has been tried to be used in many ways to flat out apply the ideas of behavioral psychology as a means towards expansion, immediate profit, and the normativization of consumerist culture.

Just to take a long view here for a minute. In roughly 5-13 billion years our sun is either going to die or go supernova. Either possibility means that if we want to survive as a species, then we'll have to be out of this solar system, if not this galaxy within that time.

Let's not put that one off till the last minute? eh? Somewhat as we have with, oh, like every other problem facing the human race. I ask myself sometimes if it's not already too late; if my long view is essentially just an intellectual exercise within the egoistic, kin based system of capitalism. If so, then social goods will be out of reach, as from an aggregate of egoists does not an altruism develop. Regardless of the purity of these economic models, the formulas do not add up.

I can't help feeling it's hollow. Almost certainly it is, and any good philosopher of political economy can spot the fallacious assumptions that grow into the cultural zietgiest through the proliferation of ideological 'think tanks' whose only interest is in altering perspectives on culture that favor their brand of...their brand of...frankly ideological economics, or neoclassical econ. as it's more widely called. An economic system with no moral foundation, and one that is quite obviously unsustainable and just plain shiitey. Whatever tactics that are consciously used to alter the state of the current society to orient it towards a greater degree of consumerism and a higher degree of blind acceptivism.

The philosophy of ethics would suggest on several different levels and in several different ways that any distributive system must be grounded in a coherent moral structure. And that moral structure, I believe, is philosophically sufficient in it's pluralist frame, if not entirely satisfying, to develop better social and collective personal outcomes. To take moral pluralism and use it as an analogic starting point towards an economic pluralism, I believe could begin to help reform this system, help to shift culture (although help from Hollywood, TV, magazines, and the internet must serve as stolid engines of this shift by moving away from a quite cracked economic model [which comes from a lack of true economic understanding in the world of the mainstream arts]). I mean honestly, who can't see that making movies like LOTR is a more lucrative enterprise than, say, Max Payne, or even X-Men: Wolverine, and probably Terminator: Salvation. At least during normal economic times. It's just getting from point A to point Q.

In truth nothing short of a world-wide spiritual revolution could bring us beyond simple pluralism and begin the hard road toward a cooperative, sustainable, social economics. I believe there does have to be a personal revolution as someone, anyone, everyone in our society find ways to, through the use of the archetypal symbols that they must individually find for themselves, bring spirituality's ritualistic practices into the transcendance of a elegant, personal grace and love. Only then, with a compassionate heart, a graceful mind, and a loving self can the true experience of the spirit be achieved, and from that the wild-beating heart of culture will emerge, moving along with us towards a just and equitable society. And then, just maybe, your practice will lead you to see beyond the half-stifled glimpses of culture that inundate us with a reduction of the brain activity of consciousness through a hueristic process that tends to gloss over the bittersweet, ambiguous, and even personally shameful aspects of our selves that truly need the experience of god or a blast of the intellect and all of the attendant light that that shines on our own inner truth.

This experience, this trascendant experience of internal, mental synchrony; It's an unmistakable experience of all pervasive happiness and connectivity, real connectivity that binds all humankind into the global milieu past the purience of rushing, hurrying modern living. Until the spell is broken, and the secularity of modernity washes away in its cultural stormclouds can the true human culture of ingenius beauty finally break through.

We must all find the spirit that exists within everyone for ourselves and together at the same time. Find a way to help this spirit, this universal soul that we all share somehow, soar and fly with the falcons, and bring back to us our desperately kidnapped culture. And help to add our little bit into the slipstream, and hope against hope that we're doing the right thing. And know that if we're ever totally sure, then surely we've lost our way. It always seems to circle back around on itself.

In the general categories of reclassification

Before I get started, I just have two words (actually three letters) about how Alex Rodriquez came back so quick from that surgery: HGH. It can't currently be detected, so the only way to get caught is if you're supplier gives you up. No piss test will pick it up.

Regardless, Manny, oh, Manny, I really hope you're telling the truth. And if you can't prove your innocence than just keep quiet. Don't say peep (while I'm doing business here).

And if this rumor about Ortiz being on the list of 104 is true. I will be truly heartbroken.

Again, regardless. I spent my Thursday this past Thursday meeting with the head of the Economics Dept. at U-Mass, and it was very productive. I'll be sitting in on 6-8 classes over the next two years, hopefully collecting research and data for my tentatively titled book:
Applied Superstructure Theory in Political Economics/ The case for a compherensive philosophy of economic pluralism as a transitionary economic structure hopefully helping to move farther in the direction of a cooperative political economy.

And got tix for the Bo-Sox tomorrow. Hope Beckett can get his groove back.
I'll say the same thing for myself, and all those who lost their grove somewhere along the way.