So the question is, who is the bigger loser, me or them? (… whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows …). Or more precisely, is it better to live in the world, to live joyfully, or … to seek the truth? I mean, we’ve made a big deal out of such issues as honesty, nihilism, and play. Well, what is our, what is our high horse anyways? Maybe it is to get at what is really driviing the world, or what’s on the back of everyone’s minds, etc.. Well … I wrote this on Facebook the other day:
“Vaccination and the Age of Reason” –Vaccination is something that has saved countless lives and is one of the benefits of living in civilzation, it is one of the fruits of the age of reason. But beyond our modern conveniences and our limits there is very little that separates us from jungle tribesmen, cannibals, what have you. But is vaccination “caused” by the reason? And what really characterizes the age of reason? It is not, actually, any ideas of justice, human rights, etc., but rather, maybe, the capitalization of man’s mental *energies*, ie, in the same way that oil has reshaped the world mental energy has reshaped the world — suggesting by this term a kind of undirected, violent, inevitable force. Vaccination was discovered by someone (quite by accident, as certain anecdotes go) that had put forth immense mental energies, mental capital. There is no way to “repeat” the insight of vaccination, though we tell stories about it. This is why reason is not the driving force, because its insights cannot be “repeated” — experiments are verifiable, but there is no way “repeat” that same insight. What this means is that technical history is a history of *accidents*, it can be likened to the discovery of gold nuggets unearthed by the explosive energy of mental capital. (And I am arguing, we cannot repeatedly, methodically, discover gold nuggets — it also means that there may be some limit to how much we can unearth).
This actually raises the question of whether there are *other histories*, a history that would not be a history of accidents. And this is where the concept of mastery fits in: since mastery, as a regression to childhood, give us visions of the future not shaped by accidents but genuinely our own, unreachable yet so imminent that they are often mistaken for having happened.
I’m not sure if the whole thing needed to be included, but the basic argument here involves the thinking of a kind of mental energy — there is a critique here of reason here, the Age of Reason. The Age of Reason — bless its heart and its consequences — is nothing but “the discovery of (a finite number) of gold nuggets unearthed by the explosive energy of mental capital”. I try to argue for an energy-based account of history in order to discredit any essence of reason. So that is “them”, I mean, those who carry on — with whatever consequences, beneficial or not — with belief in the cohrenecy of their own life, of their own essence.
So yes, it’s hard to put a fine distinction, when asking the bigger loser question, on what the distinction, which we feel so strongly about, even is. But there is a distinction isn’t there? I am not here to tear this down or to argue that there isn’t. There is. Well, and I am not here to, of course, really answer the question of who the bigger loser is. Who cares? We each have our own failures. I am penniless but I have the time to do what I want. And I have a lot of trouble getting a girlfriend, even though I am, well, not unattractive, and this is a combination of my pennilessness, isolation, and my general misogyny. Fine. But they have their own issues to deal with. There are very few of us who aren’t selling our youth for money. I mean, if I can’t stand the life they lead, if hell is other people, then on some level they can’t either, I’m sure.
So at stake in this question is really (of course) an effort to refocus on the question of who we are, now that we can no longer claim an essence, we have to get off our high horse, and yet continue to have, to feel the pull of, such diverse concepts as guilt, futurity, imminence, and so on. Indeed, the feeling is that we will be working on a history yet to be written, or a reanalysis of history. If not some thinking of the essence of history, then at least, some alternative history, a history, vaguely defined, involving these concepts. (TBC)
“Don’t get any big ideas” — I was reading, recently, someone’s blog about trying to develop a … graphical terminal emulator, I think it was. He was one of those mac programmers. I’m pretty prejudiced, I admit. I kept on reading… he tried to start a project but failed — it was an interesting effort. In the post-mortem, he complained a lot about the community and all the various software design tools that he had to work with. It was a lot of complaining. I was glad to see it fail, most because terminal emulators don’t really need a rethinking. They do need some added functionality, which was what I was googling for, but they don’t need to be rethought from the ground up. It was apparently a project that got a lot of vocal support but very little actual finger-lifting from the community. I love ther terminal, by the way, or rather, I have a different idea of what a pure terminal would be. The whole Mac mentality got to me anyways. It was like every single thing they touched was somehow a fundamentally different, beautiful, rethinking of data or something. I was sort of headed in the opposite direction, I mean, I love the sparse of text terminals. I would rather us think about ways for us to change our lives so that text would be enough. There is a lot of issues here, certainly. I don’t believe our lives are natural, I believe that a computer is not so much a way to represent our lives, which just leads to added complexity, but rather, perhaps, to simplify our lives.
I’m not sure how interesting Apple would be for our history, for example, for our purposes. It doesn’t really confront guilt. I would rather think about open source or something. I’ve been working on a very simple and small scale … text editor enhancement recently, hopefully I’ll have a chance to throw it up in a few weeks on this blog. But my experience there was that, well, I congratulated myself on not having any more big ideas. In the end I had very little to say about the whole software design experience. I spent a lot of time looking up documentation, and as always the logic of the underlying system can never really be fully documented. It was very messy, a lot of trial and error. It was almost like a research project. A lot of the work involved grouping conditionals into forms that I could deal with and maintain, I mean, attempting to categorize all the exceptions — and the feature set changed along the way. The feature set had to be coherent, too, I mean, it had to seem consistent even as it was stressed by the requirement of maintainable code, a very minor sort of feedback loop here. I was proud of myself for not having learned anything through this whole process. I wondered if this amounted the regression of mastery — the regression to a kind of childlike state, where the task becomes, the wrestling with exceptions, where nothing is so structured. (TBC)