Saturday, September 11, 2010

Everything Fascinates Me

So tonight was a nice night. I had a very enjoyable dinner with my cousin and his wife. Delightful people. Shouts out to them.

But more importantly I found it to be a reassuring thing to do, reassuring people to see, after this strange week. I started my job as a barista this week. Worked 9-6 tuesday-friday. Lots of standing and learning of new things. The hours are fine and I know they are normal working hours. But it is an adjustment to make. And the work is an adjustment to make. Life is just blowing my head up right now.

I suppose that is why I am making this reflective post have that title. Everything is totally novel right now. Life is totally novel. I like to think and talk about how we need to pay attention to life. How we need to try and act and think as if though everything is novel and how we are always transforming. This idea of perpetual novelty. I think I wrote about this on my a priori imagination post of 6/13. No, it was my post called "In Defense of Thinking A Lot" from 7/11/10. I wrote about 'The Quest For Endless Novelty'. Which is hard and perhaps not a very realistic idea. Or maybe it is. Maybe it would be possible for us to be constantly rethinking ourselves and our lives and to make everything novel. To make each day and moment new and engaging. Seems like an unlikely goal, but perhaps something to strive for.

But regardless of how this idea will pan out in the rest of my life, there is no choice right now: everything is totally new. Everything is blowing my mind and demanding that I pay lots of attention.

Everything is fascinating me right now. I get off the bus and I'm walking down a street and I say whoa where am I. I know exactly where I am. I know exactly where I am. But I don't at all. Physical space looks and feels different all the time because I am different. Because I'm changing all the time. The Matthew Dear song 'Gem' he says "Who can I talk with today? Why am I still the same?" I find that lyric totally fascinating. Because I never feel the same. I always feel different. These days everything is fascinating me because everything is so new. I hope I don't ever lose this feeling of novelty. I do hope that I'll come to a place where life is less confusing, more familiar, and makes more sense. But I don't want to lose this fascination with all of life. I want to be taken with it all the time. I want it to make sense and then I want that sense to stop making sense so I can make it make sense again. I want to go through cycles of thinking and not thinking, suspecting and doubting.

I want to live.

So here I am. Living.

Apart from my working I have had some other interesting things going on in terms of my reading and writing.

I just published a 13 page essay called "The Science and Art of Minds: Theory and Practice in the Social World." I find it exciting because I'm starting to hone in on the issue with theory of mind. The way that it conflicts with what it is really like to have a mind and to interact with other minds. I, unfortunately, got really tired and sloppily finished the last section of it. I can't find it in my heart to go back and revise it. I feel the desire to move onward, always onward to new projects. It is really interesting to me how I never go back and revise any of these essays. I push and push until they are finished, and then I just hit publish post and I don't look back. I often correct typos and stuff, but I rarely add new sections or do major reworking or rewriting. No need to really heavily edit these things I suppose.

I feel like at this point I'm somewhat incapable of articulating the whole of what I'm after. What are all these different threads I have been pursuing? And how do they all come together? Can theory of mind really be the locus of it all? Can theory of mind be where it all comes together for me? Because I know that everything I have written on this blog, mostly all of it, probably all of it, amounts to something coherent. It all comes back to something. And I'm starting to think that it all comes back to theory of mind, the humanities, and education for the political, social, and military world. It all comes back to theory of mind and education in the humanities. Hmm, I think so. I also think it is coming back to the idea of living life as an art. And how we need to embrace this idea of the 'aesthetics of existence', and what would be the best ways to do it.

But in other notes. I finished that book Sex After Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth Century Germany. Really fascinating book. Dagmar Herzog really has reminded me of how powerful history can be, how philosophically potent history can be, how thought provoking history can be.

Generally the argument of the book revolves around how social 'memory' functioned as a means of regulating morality, and specifically sexual morality, in postwar Germany. She is arguing that the New Left movement of the 60's constructed a 'memory' of the Nazi period that framed it as purely repressive. And that this sexual repression is what caused the Nazi periods brutal crimes. This picture, however, is historically unsound, Herzog argues. She argues that Nazism actually did quite a lot of loosening of sexual morality. They encouraged premarital and extramarital relationships, so long as you were not Jewish or part of another persecuted group. The conservative sexuality that the New Left rebelled against, she believes, was actually formed in response to Nazism loosening of sexual morality. She argues that postwar conservative politicians attempted to return to more traditional notions of family, chastity, etc.. The New Left, therefore, was not really rebelling against Nazism's sexual repression, but against a form of morality that was established to combat Nazism's loosening of sexual morality. She then goes on to explain how the reunification of Germany prompted another shift in the use of memory for the regulation of sexual morality. But this time it was the memory of '1968' and all the connotations of this year and the New Left.

One thing I find particularly interesting is here frequent use of the terms strategy and tactics. She discusses Foucault's work only very cursorily, but clearly has adopted some of his ideas about thinking of the social world in terms of war and struggle. This lends some credence to the things that I wrote in my "Society's Implicit War" essays. Generally, the idea that all social order can be analyzed in terms of war and violent conflict. I just found it interesting how effortlessly, or unselfconsciously, Herzog referred to all of these political and social struggles in terms of strategy and tactics. I suppose it is very common for us to use those notions to analyze much of life. But who knows. Fascinating book. I'll have to spend a little time looking at the table of contents and stuff. History is hard.

But now I'm reading something that will be contributing more directly to my interests and my research. I just today started R.G. Collingwood's The Principles of Art. I feel excited because my preliminary skimming and reading suggests that Collingwood believes that art has quite a lot to do with all of life. So I am hopeful that it will help me clarify my thoughts on 'the art of living' or 'the art of minds'. These phrases that I'm using to talk about this stuff. The creativity and intuitive nature of life. Or how I want life to be.

But anyways, I haven't been writing much since I started working. But this rapid fire reflection felt really good, and I think that The Principles of Art will be a very fruitful book for me. Holla.

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