Friday, November 05, 2010

Rambling On

A picture of me :-) Some people say that when we're in costume, like for Halloween, we're more our real selves. It's something along the lines that a mask can show something that's true about ourselves but is not otherwise able to be seen.

I'm not sure what my problem is, but I never seem to be able to think up a costume for Halloween. I had a poncho and a cowboy hat too and a friend helpfully suggested that I was Juan Valdez, a fictional character to advertise Columbian coffee. I was happy that how I was dressed could even mildy be construed as a costume, as I was wearing clothing I ordinarily wear. But the costume did not reveal the truth that I'm actually a fictional character; or did it?

Anyhow it's nice to have a picture. I haven't yet tried to put any pictures from my camera onto my computer. I have an old digital camera that has a resolution of less than 2 pixels, nowadays it seems cameras, even cheap ones have 12. And besides, I'm not good at taking pictures. But I really like pictures and always want to post them here.

Lately I've not posted anything to my Hats for Health blog. The premise of that blog is that people need clean water and we need more parties. To the first point: well obviously! I thought that people making party hats might be a way to raise money for water and sanitation initiatives. So far not so good. Paper party hats could only raise a little money and that's why the second part is so important. We need more parties because it's at parties we can talk about the really important things. Killing two birds with one stone, the idea of paper party hats for health.

I'm so lazy that often I will Google for a URL so I can copy and paste rather than just typing. When I just did that I discovered a site of a hat maker who gives some of the proceeds for cancer patient care.

I'm not sure who took the photograph as I got it from another friend. But I think the photo was taken by Teresa Foley, who I met for the first time at the party. Teresa was in costume, some sort of magical autumnal sprite, although I should have inquired about her costume. I didn't think to inquire because I heard her talking about one of her very cool projects Locally Toned and wanted to hear more about that. When I visited the blog I saw a link to a video she made telling about the project at the Waffle Shop.

The Waffle Shop is so cool, yet another great effort to co-produce culture. It's a real restaurant with a talk show which can also be engaged on line. So both Teresa Foley's Locally Toned, The Waffle Shop and it's sister restaurant Conflict Kitchen--now serving Iranian take out--are ways to get people to make something good together and be together in something good. That's what my hats are about too.

A friend has parties where he deftly V-jays recorded music performances. For many years now he's organized, with help from his friends, a big party to raise money for the Pittsburgh Food Bank. I was delighted to be asked to make some hats for the party.

I really want to get to a post about Zisek's lecture Materialism and Theology. There's a general thread about the quality without a name I'm trying to say something about. I think this quality without a name is very important when it comes to culture. There is also a thread of the metaphor of culture as software going on. I want ot contrast Gregory Bateson, Slavoj Zizek and Jack Balkin on one hand with Douglass Rushkoff, Terrance McKenna and John Lilly on the other. But I'm stuck.

Something that both Lilly and McKenna had in common was meeting entities while under the influence of psychoactive drugs. I thought of this and thought that I could elide the topic. It's not easy to talk about how we know, that is to talk about epistemology, even when there's general agreement about the nature of things or the basic ground of reality, that is ontology. But Zizek's talk deals to a great extent with ontology. Yikes, I find myself in over my head the more I think about it. I'm sure that won't prevent me from taking a stab, but not tonight.

This week there were elections in the USA and that's had me depressing about it. A friend's mother passed away this week and I caught a nasty cold. The Halloween party I attended last Saturday was the bright spot. At root there's so much wrong. Early on doing this blog I read that when G. I. Gurdjieff was asked what we can do in the face of evil, he replied:
Create something good.
That's been something of a slogan here. I am depressed about politics, but it cheered me to go to a party and especially to meet Teresa Foley for the first time. People coming together to make something good is truly a positive way to respond when so much is wrong.


Steve said...

Mr. Protoslacker,

That middle mask (dude with the heavy beard) is awesome!.

As always, overwhelmed by the number of things that you touch that I want to respond to... but again, as always, I will try to restrain myself.

But know that we read this and that we enjoy it.

Two initial thoughts.

On parties.

You said:
"We need more parties because it's at parties we can talk about the really important things. Killing two birds with one stone, the idea of paper party hats for health."

I absolutely agree we need to talk about important things. There are many to talk about. And I am not just saying that. As a counterpoint though, I point you to this little piece of wisdom that I saw yesterday. The responses in the comments are also, of themselves, worth almost any amount in cost of admission for the insight they yield.

On culture.

You also said:
"There is also a thread of the metaphor of culture as software going on."

Share a link.

Finally, (I always seem to start ending my posts, comments and thoughts with this word and never actually stop rambling), on the idea "create something good": this covers a lot of ground and it is a concept that appeals to the better part of me in many ways. For starters, creating is not the same as doing. Creating demands giving something of oneself: it is not enough to write a check or spend a day at the food bank. Creating demands demands the trifecta of insight, thought and action. Tough for us, spoilt by easy access, wealth and entitlement. Truly a idea worth expending some time and effort on.

- Steve

John Powers said...

Hi Steve :-) No need to call me mister.

Links for the metaphor of cultural software.

Professor Jack Balkin lays out a formal explication here I really love it because it's so clear and scholarly. But I pause over a couple of things.

First it's more common for people to think about "culture" a level up from Balkin's description. I do think it's important to experiment with his view and take up a logical level. The second thing is if we're talking "software" Kevin Kelly's We Are the Web and the notion of writing the operating system of the Web is one way of thinking up a logical level.

Lilly's "Simulations of God" implicitly contains the notion of cultural software, but by age 1.0. McKenna is updated video. But they both make me think down one logical level from Balkin too.

David Pohl said...

i still have 2 bazungu bucks, worth 2 hours of your time. i figure that's about the length of a Black Dub
concert ; )

The 27th Comrade said...

You look like a Rolling Stones drummer the morning after a show in Scandinavia. In that pic, I mean.

Now, I landed on this stuff, and I thought Quick, call Johannine Fuels! He will like this Gothard G√ľnther-like thing! Here is the stuff I mean:

Problem 1 Anne and Bill each privately receive a natural number. Their numbers are consecutive. The following truthful conversation takes place:

Anne: I don't know your number
Bill: I don't know your number either
Anne: I know your number.
Bill: I know your number too.

If Anne has received the number 2, what was the number received by Bill? This puzzle is also known as `Conway paradox': it appears that Anne and Bill have truthfully made contradictory statements.

Of course, the problem is that that logic—being the Aristotelian, two-valued strain—does not have time as a variable. And so, if it should end up being consistent in the face of this here paradox, it is because of a hidden variable: time. :o)

David Pohl said...

Kaunda: I have not seen Black Dub
Pingting: I have not seen Black Dub either.
Kaunda: I have seen Black Dub perform live.
Pingting: I have seen Black Dub perform live too.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Love the photo!!! :D

word verification: calions. Sounds like it could be real.