UTC New Year 2015 is here. My thanks be with Steven Rainwater and Raph and all gathered here.
I wish to bring to y'all attention of what I came across
during my Christmas visit 2014 at family gathering, to mark the happy occasion of celebration of Shakespear's life ( 26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616 ). His art of his time had a far greater impact on modern thoughts, than I have realized, till this day, thanks to Prof. Lars Engle and other countless innovative social programmers' most selfless and sacrificial endeavour paid by sunny hours of their teaching and dark hours of their writing, thinking what really matters to teach about
our human life and human society as we, not knew and experienced but imagined since our long forgotten childhood days with unspeakable words, thoughts and voices towards all possibilities in our unknown destiny and all its senseless yet comprehensible dream.
To Engle, the problems of worth, price, and value that appear so frequently in Shakespeare's works reveal a playwright dramatizing the negotiable nature of perception and belief—in short, the nature of his audience's purchase on reality. This innovative argument is the first to view Shakespeare in the context of contemporary pragmatism and to show that Shakespeare in many ways anticipated pragmatism as it has been developed in the thought of Richard Rorty, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, and others. With detailed reference to the sonnets and plays, Engle explores Shakespeare's tendency to treat knowledge, truth, and certainty as relatively stable goods within a theatrical economy of social interaction. He shows the playwright recasting kingship, aristocracy, and poetic immortality in pragmatic terms.
Reading As I Lay Dying
, 16 June 1939 - 30 March 2010
I have been reading 'As I Lay Dyying'
For the very first time. It's great. I realize
Telling you this is a lot like saying
To me, "His Lear's quite good; I may be trying
His Hamlet, too, one of these days."
Perhaps what I've been doing is re-reading?
You've never been one for the little lies
Professors tell to go on seeming knowing,
Our habit from the years of barely staying
Ahead of students, and with friends, evading
Attention to the holes left in our reading.
What we don't know is not what we like saying.
But these spring days as light keeps growing
Brighter on the bed where you lie reading
There's not much time for little or big lying
Between you and all of us you're leading
On toward the darkness at the end of trying
Beyond anything we can be truly knowing.
It's a different kind of truth you're wanting
As you lie reading.
True that we all will take the road you're t aking.
True that it's yours alone you must be walking,
Hobbling, now, with the clotting and the swelling.
These are not the truths that you are wanting.
We bring instead our stories of your teaching
And set you into stories of our teaching,
Ignoring cancer, focusing on honor,
As if we all were characters in Homer.
Not asking questions none of us can answer,
You'd rather speak of the endowed professor
Who in an institutional forever
In academic deeds all always name you.
The phone rang yesterday while we were talking,
And knowing that a friend had tried to reach you,
You picked up, listened, answered the cold-caller,
Your voice gentle, final, and forbearing,
"Sir, I cannot help you."
It was well said, but not for saying to you.
"He was my hero," you said the day you told me,
Remembering your surgeon father's dying.
He too gives his name to a professor.
You held his scalpel hand and told him,
"You are the best." Breathless with emphysema,
Self-knowing, irritable, not in terror,
"That's a god-damned lie," he gathered voice to say,
His final words.
From what I know of you and him
It may in some ways have been an error
But you were not lying.
Jim, we are not lying
10 March 2010
So let's say there are several theories about how to keep society in order. There is the expression of rules in law, but how to enforce? We can start with rule by fear. Fear of reprisal, whether it be incarceration or punishment, fines, torture in a dictatorship, or the threat of what might happen if people do not behave by law..."
"Happy thoughts. Okay, so we have done fear."
"Then there is the dogma of good habits. Prevention."
"If everyone is good, then everyone else sees them being good and wants to join in, and so the whole world is just hunky dory?'
"Well, now we have to decide if we have democratic law or edict from an authority, like a church."
"Which you are going to tell us is an oxymoron, because no one can agree on what is right and wrong."
"No, no one ever agrees. The point is not that everyone in a democracy has to agree. A sufficient majority has to agree, but what's more important then is that the remainder of society has to accept defeat. They have to sacrifice their ideals for the sake of the whole system. It is a trade off and the result does not necessarily have to be benign. It just has to be agreed."
"So that's the catch?"
"The catch is that people do not accept defeat anymore, because they can pretty much do as they please. We all have the tools and the means to do essentially as we like today. That makes it very difficult to maintain the traditional institutions of government. It makes it hard to police rules that are openly considered irrelevant by a population without a sense of civic duty."
"Money pulls the strings these days, It has nothing to do with democracy. You just need money. The only voting democracy we have is in kids' mobile polls and pop contests."
"Some people have said that the real threat is global capitalism. That is the West's form of terrorism. It's not terrorism, of course, but it is a kind of a virus against democracy, in the real sense."
"Apes used to groom one another and that is how a clan was bound. Now we exchange money. It's just virtual grooming. Little gluons that bind society together."
"Nature abhors democracy. It is inefficient - except in very special conditions."
"So I don't get it. Where is this going?"
"Politics used to assume individual maturity and deal with objective issues of society's development and the governance of popular intellect. Now it is full steam ahead in talking directly to people's emotional brains, manipulating their subjective beliefs and views of the world. It's telling us how to think and feel."
"And that mollycoddling is needed precisely because we are all getting more selfish."
"You address individual subjectivity because people are no longer a uniform gas. It has to be personal, or they don't care."
"So," Bishop concludes, as if turning a page, after his moment. "All of this brings us to the virtual reality games. They have become the new battleground for indoctrination. It's about the competition of doctrines in a group: who is most efficient at tapping into people's instincts and needs.
"The survival of the richest."
"For an idea or a doctrine to take hold, it just has to be robust and sustainable amongst the forces and processes that move society. It does not have to be right or wrong, it only needs to have support in the processes of the day. That is why we are able to pass laws about all kinds of things that seem immoral."
"Everyone has their own delusions and it is not just some conspiracy, as some people think. They really believe in these delusions. That is the point. We are all out there, trying to control the world, but the world is really controlling us to a far greater extent and we just fantasize our involvement in it. But then you must have seen all of this in your field? I mean, all of these emergent phenomena in biology are cases in point."
"Is it worth saving?" Jonas sighs.
Vibe cuts in with some searing logic that raises their eyebrows. "If you are a purist, and society cannot be protected by legitimate, authorized means, then you can make the argument that it does not deserve to exist. It is doomed to failure. Stability will surely be lost to competing opportunism."
Bishop laughs in appreciation. "Yes!"
"It rocks and capsizes! So you need a police force to balance the boat. Mobsters have become sophisticated now. They are providing all kinds of signals of their own. Business and religions are in there too, if you care to distinguish them."
"And for the good news?"
"The good news is that all of the money that we were forced into spending on anti-terrorism measure, to appease the United States, in the early years of this century, is now proving to be a good investment for helping us with the gangs."
"Exactly. They have masted quite different skills: they don't analyze the present, they create the present in incredible detail."
"And people think they can use it to control us?"
"We are more gullible than ever before," Bishop says seriously. "It's no joke."
Sara nods. "I can go along with that..."
"You might think it sounds like a bad conspiracy theory, but it is just the day to day mechanics of marketing, essentially. And it is getting easier. People are not as critical of what they hear as they used to be. Take the example of you two. The mob, or some vigilante group, whatever, you see, misunderstood something about your work. They found a title on the web."
"My old thesis?"
"Yes - it has all the right words for an uneducated mind to attract attention. We believe that they are looking for you because they are trying to master these techniques for themselves. Lucky for us, people don't understand much of what they read anymore. We have already apprehended two men who were sent to possibly kidnap you."
"And who is it you want to influence, Mr. Bishop?" Jonas asks, entirely dispassionately.
"Everyone. I want to make sure that there is a fair fight in the information, so that no one can usurp our lives. Some people think that means you have to leave things alone. But they forget that every living system needs maintenance to keep it looking good."
"so you think it's all breaking up?"
"Look around! who has respect for the law? If people don't basically agree with the justness of law, they will not enforce it themselves, and then the police can't do anything but erode their own authority by trying to enforce it."
"We take more liberties than before? We're more liberal. Is that the same thing?"
"We have to respect the idea of abstaining from certain behaviours for the good of others. We have to obey the laws we create. We must respect the people who make and enforce the law, and they also have to respect it themselves. Even that isn't easy. We have a huge problem in some areas with police thinking that they are above the rest of society and that the law basically does not apply to them ..."
She nods, " I could tell you a story about rural policing."
"All of this is failing. Sara. Our work is about fighting that reversal by reminding people of the values that society is based on. It is a new kind of meta-policing if you like."
Slogans (2005) by Mark Burgess