Showing posts from June, 2018

Jealousy, not something to cure

You can find a lot of advice about jealousy along these lines. Nearly all of it is like advice on how to look after your car. Jealousy may in fact be the essence of all love, and the fact we try to ‘cure’ it suggests again that we don’t really understand love. The essence of love because jealousy recognises that your partner is fundamentally unknowable to you, and even when they love you, they do so for their own reasons, not yours. Ironically, every tiny thing we introduce into a relationship to make it more special for us will make a jealous person suffer even more, because those special things will be things they can also imagine being offered to somebody else. 

I don’t think the answer is to try to regulate jealousy, as in these sorts of articles. I think it’s to embrace it, reframe it, recognise that those feelings are pointing to why you loved this person in the first place, because they weren’t you and something about that difference attracted you. You won’t take them for grante…

The fantasy of falsification

This was always a fantasy. I’m yet to meet a person who actively tries to prove themselves wrong.

Binaries and absolutes.

Love Aeon. This topic is one I cycle back to regularly - binary, absolutist thinking. Often linked with high stress, anxiety and depression (which it tends to cause, rather than be caused by it). Splitting things into this or that, no mixtures. In emotions too, sentimentality, everything being either the most amazing thing ever, or a catastrophe. A standing ovation or demanding your money back. Subjects or objects. Body or mind. Nature or nurture. Spirit or matter. Religion or science. Left or Right. It’s the age we live in.
Aeon and binaries.


For a long time, the world was divided up into those things with consciousness, and those things without. The first list was very small, the second list huge. A lot of fields are shifting how they think about this now though.

I think a much better concept to understand all of this is the notion of agency, which has become a hot topic of research. It doesn’t carry the same human baggage as consciousness. Everything has agency in some way - the capacity to act, to force other things to react in some way.
Take this sign as an example. Who is the sign talking to, and who is talking, in the sign? I’ve always thought a workplace with a lot of signs like this is probably a dysfunctional place, because nobody is quite sure how to solve a problem, so they delegate it to a sign. The sign has agency. It may or may not actually work, so its agency may be limited.

Patterns. Christopher Alexander.

Christopher Alexander, the architect, was one of the first to put me onto patterns as a topic. Alexander noticed that beautiful buildings in history shared some common patterns, basic things like ‘light from two or more sides of the room’, that could be translated from one building to the next without determining the full design. He designed a full ‘pattern language’ that even people with no experience in architecture can use to design beautiful buildings, realising that these patterns aren’t so much geometrical as like a path in a landscape - patterns of activity and life.

Most modern buildings come from blueprints, drawn as shown. They don’t allow the design to evolve much during building, it’s a two-dimensional pattern pre-determined on the draughtperson’s table. So the buildings don’t really live. A building is not an object, it’s an interactive, ongoing creation. Patterns of movement and activity and materials determine how a building is built and how it gets shaped over time. S…

Transcendence and Immanence

The opposition between what’s beyond us in some way - transcendent - and what is inherent to us - immanent, is one of the big tensions in history. But I think all opposites are fake. Take a company as an example, is it transcendent or immanent? We often talk about corporations as if they’re transcendent things, actual Beings that rule over us. But if you’ve worked in a corporation you know it’s not simple, people like you and me work in corporations, so they’re us in some way. They’re immanent. But they also go beyond us in some ways, nobody within an organisation actually controls it. There’s transcendence there.

Language is the same. I’m using these words, but I didn’t invent them, they’re transcendent to me in some way. But I can also shape them myself, have some choice how to use them; they’re also immanent. All things are both transcendent and immanent, at the same time. We often miss that I think, looking for transcendences like ‘God’ or ‘the government’ or ‘capita…

Our Peaceful TImes

Data and visuals suggesting strongly that today is easily the most peaceful time in human history. Also shows that States or governments - the things many have a passion for destroying today in their hatred of government and politicans - have always historically been associated with massive reductions in violence.

Finally the slides ponder why we've become more peaceful over time, and assumes this must be because of something people are doing differently. I don't think it's that, it's because we've built things called 'technologies', that are actually social webs of people. People alone will generally fight to the last person standing, you need objects to bring peace.

Machines are us.

Our politics looks like society is at war, but actually we live in some of the most peaceful times in human history. It’s impossible to understand that paradox I think if you only look at humans. An example - trains. When trains first came to towns, they didn’t just bring transport and freight. The train linked the people in the town directly to people everywhere else. Goods brought into and taken out of town set up relationships between the people in the town and the producers of the goods. Suddenly a fisherman on the coast had a customer in the bush, and the two now had an ongoing tie between them. Etc. 

I think this is how society is actually held together. Technology isn’t a tool, it’s a complex web of social ties. Here is also the world’s first org chart, which a railway also produced. You can see directly on the chart how those social ties were beginning to be created. All of those people were now connected in an ongoing way, their lives and work were reliant upon …