Interested in thinking through how thought itself is an event and what “eventive thought” would entail; thinking the (ethical?) relationality between humans and animals through the lens of Deleuze and Guattari’s “event” and how that figures in the broader scope of our quantum universe of assemblages.
Ask me Anything
January 3, 2012
Here’s a quote attributed to John Maynard Keynes:
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
One of the implications implicit in that quote is that Keynes was always right. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t as infallible as he was. So we have to learn by being wrong. This is a crucial innovation skill. We have a hypothesis about how we can make the world a better place – we have a great idea. The only way to turn it into an innovation is to experiment. Often, our initial assumptions are wrong. By experimenting, we figure out which ideas work, and which don’t –we learn. And by learning, we change our minds.
Dynamic Minds for Dynamic Times.
We live in a dynamic world. More importantly, we are learning machines. Both of these facts mean that we should be changing our minds all of the time. Rather than being a sign of weakness, a changed mind is a sign of someone that knows something more than they used to.
We should be learning all the time. Changing your mind is a sign of learning. We shouldn’t avoid it, we should seek it out. As Edward de Bono says:
"Let us now imagine that one day something in our greengrocer snaps and he stops putting up the slogans merely to ingratiate himself. He stops voting in elections he knows are a farce. He begins to say what he really thinks at political meetings. And he even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support. In this revolt the greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth… .The system, through its alienating presence in people, will punish him for his rebellion. It must do so because the logic of its automatism and self-defense dictate it. The greengrocer has not committed a simple, individual offense, isolated in its own uniqueness, but something incomparably more serious. By breaking the rules of the game, he has disrupted the game as such. He has exposed it as a mere game. He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system. He has upset the power structure by tearing apart what holds it together. He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted facade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power. He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety… .The original and most important sphere of activity, one that predetermines all the others, is simply an attempt to create and support the independent life of society as an articulated expression of living within the truth. In other words, serving truth consistently, purposefully, and articulately, and organizing this service. This is only natural, after all: if living within the truth is an elementary starting point for every attempt made by people to oppose the alienating pressure of the system, if it is the only meaningful basis of any independent act of political import, and if, ultimately, it is also the most intrinsic existential source of the “dissident” attitude, then it is difficult to imagine that even manifest “dissent” could have any other basis than the service of truth, the truthful life, and the attempt to make room for the genuine aims of life."
"Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service to the working class. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe."
"The opening up of this new continent has induced a revolution in philosophy. That is a law: philosophy is always linked to the sciences. Philosophy was born (with Plato) at the opening up of the continent of Mathematics. It was transformed (with Descartes) by the opening up of the continent of Physics. Today it is being revolutionized by the opening up of the continent of History by Marx. This revolution is called dialectical materialism. Transformations of philosophy are always rebounds from great scientific discoveries. Hence in essentials, they arise after the event. That is why philosophy has lagged behind science in Marxist theory. There are other reasons which we all know about. But at present this is the dominant one."
"In a way, new technologies have made us all like Baudelaire. We are intoxicated by the multitude but cannot ignore its troubling aspects. Like Baudelaire, we are trying to find our private life in the crowd while protecting our “real” selves in a public persona. Blogs and social networking sites are like diaries with broken locks. They are confessions written for an audience. They let us feel as if we can fabricate a personal world for ourselves, a world we can control. We listen to music no one else can hear and read emails while standing on a crowded bus because we are looking for privacy. Baudelaire used poetry and fashion; we use PDAs and e-readers and the Internet. With boundless access to information, we can easily observe the crowd. But we cannot escape being observed. And we wonder if we can find the private life we’re looking for, either in the public space of the real world or in the virtual one."
High voltage dielectric breakdown within a block of plexiglass creates a beautiful fractal pattern called a Lichtenberg figure. The branching discharges ultimately become hairlike, but are thought to extend down to the molecular level.
Over the course of his heroic, uncomplaining eighteen-month battle with the cancer, I found myself rehearsing what I might say to an obituary writer, should one ring after the news of Christopher’s death. I thought to say something along the lines—the air of Byron, the steel pen of Orwell, and the wit of Wilde.
A bit forced, perhaps, but you get the idea. Christopher may not, as Byron did, write poetry, but he could recite staves, cantos, yards of it. As for Byronic aura, there were the curly locks, the unbuttoned shirt revealing a wealth—verily, a woolly mastodon—of pectoral hair, as well as the roguish, raffish je ne sais quoi good looks. (Somewhere in “Hitch-22,” he notes that he had now reached the age when “only women wanted to go to bed with me.”)
In a parallel universe, in a luckier realm, Havel would have lived out his life as a Czech epigone of Ionesco and Beckett, a carefree son of privilege, free to write, to pursue his pleasures, to listen to the rock ‘n roll he loved. Instead, like a living figure from Kafka, he was born to a system where absurdity, not law, ruled; calmly, resolutely, he pursued a life of dissidence, led a revolution, and then assumed a home in the Castle, the seat of power in liberated Prague…
Where are the great men? Are we beyond the point of elevating the individual over the group, or are there simply no more individuals? Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer, has warned for more than a decade of the emergence of “leaderless jihad” as terrorist movements spawn violent individuals. But lately his idea has been turned on its head, as the movement for freedom attempts to override the putsch for security. It seems there are no more barriers between the secure, the secured, and the guardians of their security; it is all the same anarchy, brutality, violence, and havoc. There is the elite and then there is everyone else. Enter Vaclav Havel.
"There is only one way to salvation, and that is to make yourself responsible for all men’s sins. As soon as you make yourself responsible in all sincerity for everything and for everyone, you will see at once that this is really so, and that you are in fact to blame for everyone and for all things."