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Showing posts from November, 2013

Might reading harm?

who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you
... - ee cummings


One might spend one's life reading about living, without actually living. (Man.) The easy response is don't tell me what living is and is not, I can decide that for myself thanks.
Maybe a lifestyle centred on reading encourages a false sense of superiority - or a false sense of the power of reason. (The original sin of philosophy: to mistake philosophy as essential to good action.)
More generally, you might think of reading as parasocial, involving false, dubious interaction with someone you wouldn't much identify if you met them without the filter of composition. Or worse, a replacement for live discourse which hides the ad hoc, underdetermined, unpersuadable nature of even highly intellectual encounters.
There's a Latin phrase I like a lot - Aut tace aut loquere meliora silencio, 'be silent or say something better than silence' - and maybe this goes …

mathematical desire

(c) Randall Munroe (2010)

Model of romance for you. Say there are two functions: A(y) – how attracted person x is to person y, and R(y) – x's respect for y.
Then, two composite functions with each other:
R(A) - how much respect x has given a degree of attraction, and A(R) - how much attraction x has for a given level of respect.
If we assume that they aren't symmetrical (that people can have non-monotonic functions), then romantically active people all fall into 2 or more of 8 exhaustive romantic functions:

[If A(y) goes up --> R(y) goes up]. R(A) is proportional: x is ruled by beauty's halo.
(X is shallow.)
More eye pop, swell chest[If A(y) goes up --> R(y) goes down]. R(A) is inverse: The mind's revenge.
(X is sadistic.)

More eye pop, shrink chest[If A(y) goes down --> R(y) up]. R(A) negatively inverse: Hm!
(X is maybe insecure?)

Less eye pop, swell chest [A(y) goes down --> R(y) down]. R(A) negative proportion: Reverse halo.
(X is nasty-sha…

on not finishing books

Sometimes I don't finish books because I've become someone else in the interim and don't share their goal of reading it. Any book that takes more than a week is liable to fall foul of young people’s mutability in this way.

A lot of what we read is just to say we’ve read it - they are plugs for gaps in cultural armour. We fail to see these through because they are interminable – cf. Gibbons’ Decline and fucking Fall – and because our motive’s so base in the first place. The act of plugging could be noble – the will to improve oneself – but it's more often the ignoble fear of looking ignorant (rather than the excellent fear of being ignorant). The educated world keeps up an arms race in which indifferent bystanders are gunned down by fully-auto sneering, where books are secondary to the concept of themselves. This side of ‘literary’ culture, call it the consumerism of the immaterial, is scarcely different from more obvious consumerism about designer labels and very lar…


The particular is much less good than the general: look how much smaller it is.
Independence is necessarily nationalist.
Independence is divisive. It can only put up arbitrary walls.
Scottishness is an insular and bigoted thing.
Very Scottish art - set here, with Scots phonemes and concerns - is insular and uninteresting. (Unlike British or Greek or Indian art, which can be universal.)
Abandonment of Scotland is virtuous: it’s transcendence.*
How we imagine our groups is irrelevant to improving the world. Nation is only a delusion.**
Of course self-determination is secondary to welfare!
The big one was my conflating an opposition to Scottish nationalism with a contempt for Scotland. It was also very stupid to overlook how self-deprecation – being an anti-Scotland Scot – tied in to a wider devaluation of Scottish things. This actually put me in line with the British elite, like so many other ‘individualist’ Scots in history. Overcompensating, á la Trainspotting.

* But “In all parts of histo…