Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 7.57.08 PMMan’s Changing Vision of the Universe

6000 years ago when the human mind was half asleep Chaldean priests began scanning stars, making maps and time tables of their motions.  Their star movements were confined to a narrow lane called the Zodiac, which is divided into 12 sections each names after a constellation of fixed stars in the area.

Greeks take over: Pythagoras of Samos – Founder of a new religious philosophy and the founder of Science, as the world is understood today.

Numbers were sacred, eternal – everything else was perishable; they are the nature not of matter but of mind.

Ionian philosophers were materialists searching for what the universe was made of. Pythagoras’ inquiry was of form/proportion and pattern. What was our relation to the universe NOT what is the universe.

Axis of Pythagoras’ system – music/numbers harmony/proportion.

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Epistemic Humility

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 7.48.07 PMTo hold your own knowledge to be suspect: Someone heavily introspective, tortured by the awareness of his own ignorance. She lacks the courage of the idiot, yet has the rare guts to say, “I don’t know.”

Montagine was one of these types. He accepted human weakness and the limitations of our rationality — as the flaws that make us human.

If you believe in free will – you can’t truly believe in social science.

Daniel Dennett: Philosopher: Most potent use of our brain is the ability to project conjectures into the future and play the counterfactual game — we think before we act – “anticipation machines”

Trevor’s Theory of self-deception – supposed to orient us favorably toward the future.

Deterministic chaos – masquerades as randomness but chaotic systems have entirely predictable properties; they are just hard to know.

Learn to read history but do not draw casual links – try not to reverse engineer too much.

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March 3, 2018 · 10:45 am

Jenny Holzer


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March 2, 2018 · 9:02 pm

Solnit on Silence

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 1.32.18 PMSilence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and what can be said and who listens.

Silence is imposed vs quiet which is sought.

“We are volcanoes, when we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change.” Ursula K. Le Guin

If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanized or excluded from one’s humanity. 

The history of silence is central to women’s history.

Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories. A free person tells her own story. A valued person lives in a society in which her story has a place. 

Who has been heard we know; they are the well-mapped islands, the rest are the unmappable sea of unheard, unrecorded humanity. 

If libraries hold all the stories that have been told, there are ghost libraries of all the stories that have not. The ghosts outnumber the books by some unimaginably vast sum.

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Notes on Narrative and Identity

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 12.29.10 PMNarrative construction of reality – the ways in which we construct narratives in order to bolster our world view (Didion/We tell ourselves stories to survive).

Narratives that support the arc of inspiration –

Insecure people have an ability to upset balance.

Dramatic Pentad: An agent – An act – A scene – a purpose – An agency.

When the ratio between elements becomes unbalanced trouble ensues. Trouble provides the engine of drama.

Everyone has their own version of the narrative

Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity

The Narrative Construction of Reality by Jerome Bruner

Paradox in the context of complex emotional clarity.

Integrity: Courage to tell the truth as you see it.

Promethean Power: To create something that never existed before.

The tension between being and becoming (is where the story usually sits).

“The gaze” to claim power over the many dimensions of sight and seeing.

Drucker: Theory of female pleasure that can emerge from production. Laying claim to the marvelous, entering the space of meaning, the right of vision, clairvoyance and agency. 

Women are the “Silent bearers” of ideology in Western literature. Women have made the “necessary sacrifice to male secularity” which finds its expression in materialist, public activity in a world that cannot – indeed will not – accommodate a woman of action.

Male action/personal fulfillment requires: Selfishness, hardness, ingratitude.

The duty of women is to live for others. Those who indulge their ambition often grapple with self-loathing.  Male action stereotypes the majority and silences the rest. Result for women is anxiety of authorship.

To paint, to write, to think — is to take authority.

The woman who moves, who acts, who copes with vicissitudes and seeks adventure is the minority.

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Evolution of God

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Even in the ultimate Abrahamic theological refinement – monotheism itself turns out to be a feature of the bible that comes and goes.

Edward Tylor – founder of Social Anthropology.

Early religion: Did what good theories are supposed to do; explain otherwise mysterious facts economically.

Radcliffe-Brown observed that Andaman Islanders were reluctant to awaken people, since illness might ensue if sleep was interrupted before the soul came home.

Human nature has two basic innate mechanisms that incline us to treat people nicely: Kin Selection – evolutionary dynamic that leads us to sacrifice for close relatives. Reciprocal Altruism – leads us to be considerate of friends.

Hunter- gatherer religions don’t consider their beliefs to be a religion. Rituals and beliefs we label as ‘religious’ are so tightly interwoven into their every day thought and action that they don’t even have a word for them.

The general absence of moral sanction in hunter gatherer religion isn’t puzzling. They lived in intimate transparent groups (30-50 people). Wrongdoing was hard to conceal – and this is how we are hard wired to live.

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