Thursday, December 29, 2011

And With This Post...

I make it so that December and March are tied for the least blogged month of the year.


But when I wrote that post I set off a string of reflections. Reflections focused on my man Collingwood and the work on him that I recently initiated.

In order to complete Part IV of Art, Zen, And Insurrection, I undertook a chronological analysis of political themes in Collingwood's work. Beginning with The Principles Of Art I asked 'What is political in Collingwood's work on aesthetics?' From there I planned to move through, An Autobiography, An Essay On Metaphysics, The Idea Of History, and finally, The New Leviathan.

I managed to make it though the Autobiography and his Metaphysics, but I stalled out as soon as I hit The Idea Of History.

Part of this has to do with a gift that my (lovely and observant) parents got me. They bought me a copy of Collingwood's unfinished work, The Principles Of History. Which is awesome. I'm super happy to own it.

I was like oh snap.

But I was also like 'oh no, how am I going to write on Collingwood's work on history if I have an unread copy of The Principles Of History' in front of me?'

But oh well.

I'm just going to write on The Idea Of History, being careful to frame it as a preliminary statement of Collingwood's views on the politics of history.

This is the intro paragraph to that section:

"Approaching the political implications of Collingwood’s work on history is tricky for several reasons. On the one hand, we must do it, for Collingwood claimed that history was the highest form of knowledge, and no analysis of Collingwood’s oeuvre would be complete unless it took his claims about history seriously. The deeper difficulty, however, surrounds the status of his books that expressly deal with history. The Idea Of History, for example, was compiled from manuscripts by a student, and some have criticized his arrangement of the material. The Idea Of History, therefore, cannot be considered an authoritative statement of Collingwood’s conclusions about historical knowledge. Furthermore, the recovery of lost manuscripts and their publication as The Principles Of History complicates this task even further. In short, Collingwood didn’t live to complete his work on history. Drawing certain conclusions from his writing, therefore, is a difficult, if not impossible, task. In this section, however, I’d like to look at the material in The Idea Of History that is expressly political, just to provide a tentative statement about the politics of Collingwood’s history."

The Least Blogged Month Of The Year!

This month was pretty good. This year was also quite good.

This month is almost over. This year is just about over.

Hard to believe.

I didn't do a ton of blogging this month. I did some writing in some word documents. Still have like 20 pages of material sitting there unfinished. One is the next portion of AZI. Another is an essay that I've become frustrated with. I have other unfinished essays sitting around, too.

But man, I don't know why I didn't do that much writing this month.

I was busy. Getting ready for Christmas. Working a lot. Hanging out with folks. Trying to be all wtf is up here?

It is tough. Really tough to just keep pushing ahead with the business of thinking and writing.

All kinds of little hang ups.

All kinds of questions like 'What the hell am I writing?'

What am I thinking about?


The Principles Of Art, and other books by Collingwood, no doubt. But what are the issues?

My aunt got be a book by Wendell Berry, Standing By Words. Looks pretty exciting. He talks about the relationship between the collapse of communities and the collapse of language. Seems like a great topic. Seems at the intersection of Collingwood's views on magic and Searle's views on language.


I have very little patience for all this stuff right now. Thinking, writing, whatever. I'll be back to you soon enough. Right now I need to relax and read. Almost done with Manuel DeLanda's A Thousand Years Of Nonlinear History, which is annoying but potentially fruitful.

I also suspect it might be useless. But I know it isn't. I just find it very challenging.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Scattered Thoughts

For Christmas I got a book I'm excited about. There are several new books I'm excited about, actually. But the one I'm referring to is Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits. What is exciting about it?

One thing is the number of indexes to 'habit'. Quite a number.

Reading over those sections on habit I felt like I was beginning to understand Foucault's relationship to Nietzsche. There is so much to be said for Foucault's historical orientation, his attempt to illuminate unreflective modes of behavior. It is so easy for me to see Foucault's work arising out of Nietzsche's claim that "A lack of historical sense is the congenital defect of all philosophers" (14). Further, I believe that Foucault's work has quite a bit to do with habit, even if he isn't explicit on this point. So when Nietzsche has all this stuff to say about habit, I have to wonder about all this stuff.

My head swirls with ideas about history and the formation of habits, about historical study, mindfulness, and the role of habit in freedom, about civility, the cultivation of an attitude, and all kinds of shit.

I was reading Nietzsche today at my aunts house and I had some kind of idea. I thought, 'oh I should write this down', but I didn't. And I don't know what it was that I thought.

But it had something to do with habits and self-creation, about history and self-knowledge, about nihilism as an outlook, as a method, and a preparatory phase. I don't know what I think exactly. But I know I think a lot about habit and self-creation, about nihilism and hope and love.

I'll distill these thoughts some day. But Nietzsche demands my attention more than I've been able to admit. Thank goodness my aunt bought me a copy of Human, All Too Human. I hope to read it soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Bit More On Social Disinterest

I talked to my dad today about my post on social disinterest. He shared his experience of the working world with me. That he was so preoccupied with his work and his family that he just didn't have the time or energy to really be interested in other people. Which is entirely understandable. It is really difficult to make time for everyone. Working takes up so much time. Plus, I would say that my dad did engage people with interest. He was interested in his coworkers. He talked nicely to service folk.

But I am totally aware and sympathetic of the point he made. I just don't know how to deal with it.

And this is what I really want to say here and what I want to think about it right now: This criticism in social disinterest is in no way directed at real people that I know or encounter; it is directed towards the social and economic conditions that our community has created for itself, for you and I. The problem is not that people are too stupid, irrational, ignorant, or oblivious to pay attention and treat everyone with interest. The problem is that our system encourages people to be disinterested in one another, to get along with the business of money, to say hello and goodbye.

All of this reminds me of Collingwood's concept of the non-social community. He argues that it is possible for people to live in a functional community without every willfully consenting to that way of life, thus failing to meet the criteria of a society. For Collingwood, a society, as opposed to a mere community, is something that people choose to be a part of, it is a way of life that individuals freely consent to. Society, or civilization (its ideal form), therefore, is a process of converting the youth from a non-social community into a functional society. Because children are always born into the world ignorant of the goals of a given society or civilization. That is why children are raised in certain ways, to transform them from a non-social community into a society. Collingwood refers to this portion of society the nursery, because it is a collection of children that have not yet been brought into the traditions of a given civilization, and that are to be raised up so that they will freely consent into and perpetuate a given lifestyle. The nursery is at the core of Collingwood's notion of the non-social community.

Collingwood believes that the theory of the non-social community is one of the principal contributions of The New Leviathan. He claims that classical political philosophy (Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau), failed to account for the existence of the non-social community. Instead, they contented themselves with references to 'the state of nature'. Collingwood believes that the 'state of nature' can be done away with in favor of a philosophy of the non-social community. I'm inclined to agree with him and I'm very pleased to have placed this concept more firmly in my mind (with today's thinking and this writing). It seems like it would have to be an essential component of John Searle's 'philosophy of society'. Collingwood prompts us to ask, How does a society or civilization perpetuate itself? Why are society's constantly changing into different things? How can we be sure that the nursery is being successfully transformed into the next generation of consenting members of a civilization?

I fear that America is some type of non-social community. I don't feel like I'm consentingly involved in a mental process with the people around me, I don't feel like we are consciously working towards a mutual goal. I feel like we walk past one another on the streets without saying a word feeling like the things going on around us are beyond our control. I certainly feel a bit helpless. I'm doing my best, though. And everything's fine.

Nevertheless, social disinterest is a real thing. And I do believe it has a lot to do with the conditions our society has created for itself. It is just hard to know what to do when the world is so big and so small. When there are so many people everywhere, yet, for one reason or another, it can be so hard to talk so many of them. What is it about water water everywhere? Something about people people everywhere and not a one to... to what? Blink? Wink? Think? Hug? Speak to? Perhaps I should add, 'without the mitigation of the economic system and its offspring?'

This reflection on the relationship between social disinterest, the idea of the non-social community, and the socio-economic system will go somewhere into a short essay I'm working on, which is called 'Civility and Power in Collingwood and Foucault'. There I'll be addressing the similarity of Collingwood's notion of civility and Foucault's aesthetics of existence. At the core of both of them is the attempt to use dialectical and historical forms of thought to cultivate an attitude that seeks to minimize the inequalities in relationships. This, for Collingwood, is the essence of civilization, it means that although the presence of force "is inevitable in human life;... being civilized means cutting it down, and becoming more civilized means cutting it down still further” (TNL, 326). This, too, is what Foucault means when he says that power relations in themselves are not the problem, "but to give one’s self the rules of law, the techniques of management, and also the ethics, the ethos, the practice of self, which would allow these games of power to be played with a minimum of domination" (The Final Foucault, 18). Clearly, Collingwood and Foucault were on to a similar idea: that a discussion of civilization must be about an attitude, a way of thinking and living that seeks to reduce the amount of force in our relationships.

Their different approaches to this issue are the topic of my current, smaller writing project. That project, in turn, will contribute to the final portion of AZI, where these ideas undoubtedly come into play.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Social Disinterest

I wonder so much about people. Even people that I'm seemingly disinterested in (customers in a busy cafe, for example) I'm secretly very curious about. It is just unfortunate that I don't have the time to express that interest in them. I have an economic exchange to finish, I can't be interested in you right now.

A bit ago I was walking outside and I was struck by the need to write something about dogs. This is what I wrote:

"I was walking outside sometimes past people but often by myself. I was breathing something in and I was thinking about anything. I was moving and I kept on thinking. I didn’t mind the cold as much as I do some nights. It wasn’t as cold as those nights. I kept going. I went down some stairs and turned some corners. I walked up a hill and I saw a few people.

Then I saw some people with a black dog. I kept my distance. My night wasn’t for hurrying home. My night was for strolling. I strolled behind them. I watched the black dog sniff. I planned to go around them if the black dog should feel the need for a longer investigation.

But something new happened. Another dog. A white dog. I watched the white dog. It was much brighter than the black dog. I watched the dogs meet. Their tails wagged. Their owners stopped and let them say hi. The owners exchange words. The dogs bowed and looked at one another. They wanted to be friends. The starting point of their meeting was interest. They were curious and excited about one another. Their meeting just produced some kind of energy, some buzz. I liked seeing it.

Someone once told me that they liked dogs because you always knew where you stood with them. It was always clear to them how a dog was feeling and how they should respond to that dog. They also felt that humans weren’t always clear. Thats just the obvious implication of their statement. 

They are right. Humans aren’t as easy to read. But why not? Because of language and its capacity to create a symbolic order. Language creates a social organization that is both constituted by and constitutive of the human mind. In other words, the human mind expresses itself and creates a symbolic order that is acknowledged by many people. Once it is collectively acknowledged it takes on a life beyond the individual mind. Yet, that symbolic order never exists anywhere but in people’s minds.

So what is the symbolic order that prevents us from being excited to see one another on the street? Why aren’t we just so ultra-social that we wag our tails at the first sight of people. There are so many people. And our interactions are so often mitigated by the economy. By our exchanges of money. It is really tough. Tough to meet people.

Who knows.

But we are different than dogs. Our interactions are not always curious, new or excited. They are just different. Symbolically constituted different."

Why aren't we more like dogs? Why do we have this disinterest, which I take to be a genuine disinterest.  What is going on? Sometimes I encounter people and they just seem to want to have nothing to do with me. Their life is full enough. They know enough people. Their community is set in this way or that way and they don't want or know how to make the effort to incorporate somebody new. 

I don't want to live that way. I want to be obviously interested in people. I want people to know I'm curious about them. Because I am. I wonder about you. About your past, your emotions, your friends and family. I wonder! 

Don't you wonder about people?

Are you really so comfortable that you don't wonder about people?


This is a disorganized rant. But the point is simple: I wish we were more like dogs. I wish we were unabashedly curious and social with one another. But we aren't. We walk down the street, we don't say anything to each other. We look away. We speak in formulaic ways.

What to do? How to become more like a dog and less like a disinterested person? 

If you are reading this, know that I am in all likelihood curious about you! Don't think I'm not! Because I am! 

Sometimes I just don't have the time or means to pursue my curiosities. 

On The Historical Collision Of Thought, Or, On Thinking What You Think While Thinking What I Think

There is one problem I consistently encounter: The problem of other minds and how I understand them. When you meet another person how do you really know what they are thinking. When you first meet someone authenticity can be a problem. I don’t know if you are joking, lying, expressing, or are nervous and not sure how to talk to me. People can be difficult to read. What to do, then, about this type of uncertainty in relationships. 

Collingwood argues that the relationship to the not-self is a critical one for all people. In The New Leviathan he argues that our understanding of ourselves is inseparable from the existence of a not-self, and that many of our deepest emotions emerge from these relationships to others: “To be a self of such a kind as to be frightened or annoyed by the action of other things upon it is to have the vice of cowardice or irascibility; the opposite is to have the virtue of courage or temperance.... To be a self of such a kind that the not-self can frighten or annoy it is to be at the mercy of the not-self: to lack power in relation to the not-self” (85). Kanye, too, accepts this conclusion when he says “Everything I’m not made me everything I am.” If this is indeed the case, then we need to focus our mental effort on discovering the best way to manage our relationships with others.  

Collingwood implies that the study of history might be a valuable way to improving one’s ability to deal with a mind that thinks differently than yours. As Collingwood says, “whenever he finds certain historical matters unintelligible, he has discovered a limitation of his own mind; he has discovered that there are certain ways in which he is not, or no longer, or not yet, able to think" (The Idea Of History, 218). He affirms this idea again in An Essay On Metaphysics, saying that “It is only when a man’s historical consciousness has reached a certain point of maturity that he realizes how very different have been the ways in which different sets of people have thought” (56).  It is in history that we will truly encounter forms of thought different enough from our owns that can shock us into thinking differently. 

For that is what I really want to explain in this brief piece of writing. I want to tell you that the encounter with a radically different type of mind than your own will change your mind in the process. What would be going on in your mind during an encounter with another mind that would result in a change in your own mind? The answer to these questions is contained in Collingwood’s notion of reenactment. 

When thinking about an encounter with a not-self, whether your evidence of that self is written or spoken, we have to ask ourselves how we understand the thoughts that this other mind is expressing. Collingwood says that whenever we have evidence of thought, we understand it by re-creating it in our own minds, by thinking the same thoughts that were expressed by another: when “the evidence of what these men thought is in our hands,” and when we interpret that evidence what we are doing is “re-creating these thoughts in our own minds” (296). This is what Collingwood refers to as the ‘re-enactment of thought’. It is a process where by we use evidence to rethink someone’s thoughts in the context of our own mind. To successfully rethink someone’s thoughts is to ‘encapsulate’ them in the context of your own mind. 

This background context of the re-enactment, however, is no simple fact. It is the crucial element that allows re-enactment to become a challenge to your own thoughts. Because the context of one person’s thought “cannot ever be the context which it has in the critic’s experience ; and if an act of thought is what it is only in relation to its context, the doctrine he criticizes can never be the doctrine taught by his opponent. And this not owing to any defects in exposition or comprehension, but owing to the self-frustrating character of the attempt to understand another’s thought, or indeed to think at all” (299). The task of recreating another person’s thought for yourself is a constant problem when trying to understand another person. We all have different experiences that serve as the background of our thinking. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t understand someone. Collingwood insists that the re-enactment of thought applies to all knowledge of mind. “If it is by historical thinking that we re-think and so rediscover the thought of Hammurabi or Solon, it is in the same way that we discover the thought of a friend who writes us a letter, or a stranger who crosses the street” ( 219). All knowledge of mind, therefore, involves the re-enactment of another person’s thoughts. It means bringing someone’s thoughts to life in the context of your own mind, simultaneously understanding their thoughts and your own. Simulationist theorists seem in agreement with Collingwood. Thus all knowledge of mind is historical, and the the goal of reenactment is therefore “the critical study of one’s own thought, not the mere awareness of that thought as one’s own” (292). Because the only way to study your own thoughts is to expose them to thoughts different from your own.

All of this is what I mean by the phrase ‘the historical collision of thought’: to take historical thinking seriously is to take the other seriously. It is to bring your mind into intimate contact with another mind. And in that space your mind collides with another, revealing the details and assumptions of your mind more clearly than reflection could have. Because when I try to think what you think I can only do it while thinking what I always think. I can only re-enact your thoughts in the context of my own thoughts. This introduction of your thoughts into the context of my mind is what I’m calling the collision of thought. Because this should be a violent event. It should shake things up. To really think what you are thinking while thinking what I’m already thinking should fuck your head up. How radically can this be done? How does it possess political relevance? These are the questions I’m trying to chase down in the final sections of AZI. This is what I want out of Collingwood: a way to conceptualize the transformation of thought that can be brought about by historical thinking, by genuinely trying think the way that other people think or thought.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why Collingwood?

Sometimes I wonder about my fascination with Collingwood. Why this dude? Why am I spending so much time reading and thinking about the books written by a man who died in 1943? What is it about this guy? Why this philosopher who, while known by many, is rarely collaborated with. And if someone does cite his work, it is often 'The Idea Of History' or 'An Autobiography'. Which are both awesome books. Super interesting and important stuff that is essential in Collingwood's oeuvre. But I've found such curious things in his other books. His work on metaphysics is super exciting. The stuff on aesthetics is so far-reaching. All kinds of gems.

Sometimes I say 'He is a thinker at the intersection of so many different types of thinking. He has a unique philosophy of history, of mind, of science, of nature. He is a total thinker.' Which isn't exactly true. Alain Badiou seems like a pretty damn total thinker: novelist, mathematician, logician, philosopher. Danggggg, he speaks several languages whoaaaaa. Collingwood, too, spoke and read many languages. But he wasn't a mathematician or anything. But he was a historian, philosopher, artist, sailor, and so on. He did a lot of different things.

But what it is about him?

I'm not sure what it is. But I keep moving through his books. Really excited for his book on philosophical method to arrive in the mail.

I'm also beginning to engage with new thinkers. Right now I'm reading Manuel Delanda and finding him very curious. He is a professed Deleuzian and holds a position named after Deleuze at the European Graduate School. Naturally, then, I'm also curious about Deleuze. 'A Thousand Plateaus' is sitting next to me, in fact.

I'm also very curious about Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and phenomenology broadly.

After watching Hubert Dreyfus discuss Husserl and Heidegger last night, I'm more convinced that Heidegger's work would have a ton to add to the project I am on. My project somehow loosely involves the relationship between aesthetics, zen, politics, war, history, individual decision making, education, and society blah blah blah. All kinds of stuff. But those first things I listed are definitely at the top of my list.

Collingwood helps me with all of those things.

The relationship between Collingwood and Foucault is also a big thing for me. A big reason Collingwood intrigues me is his similarity to Foucault.

Oh well, gotta go.

But I haven't figured out why it is Collingwood that I'm most compelled to read and think about. But I'll know at some point, I bet. I'll read all his books and study him and hopefully come to terms with him in some meaningful way. I can't let a mind like his go unexplored.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Burning Candles In Winter Time

I feel winter setting on more and more these days.

For one thing, it is really cold out. The low today is 29! Pretty cold, son!

I walk outside to coffee shops (both for work and leisure) and I just feel cold. I bundle up. I walk and walk. The other night I was walking and I felt a stiffness in my legs. I said to myself 'Wow your legs would love to just not be moving through cold air. They would love to be warm and still right now'. And then I kept walking. Right into a bush. It was late. I had been out on the town.

And this leads me to the point of this post: I feel busy, frantic, and like I'm occupied all the time. I'm burning the candle at both ends. I am just burning the candle. This isn't some weird double wick candle where you have two ends that simultaneously towards the center. One wick is my professional life, the other end is my personal life. Because my life is more than dual. My candle would have too many wicks to count. So I've just got a blow torch and I'm just burning the candle from straight away. This has become a nice metaphor for me. Even if it is silly and you don't like the way it sounds. I just like how it makes me feel about my life right now. Yeah, I'm busy. So what? I'm doing all kinds of shit that I want to. Seeing all kinds of people.

Reading all kinds of things. In fact, I've just purchased three books on the internet that I'm quite excited about. One is Collingwood's An Essay On Philosophical Method. Another is by a philosopher named Evan Thompson. It is called Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind. Sounds very much up my alley. I'm more and more curious about phenomenology. It is a discipline I need to grapple with directly. I think that it will have large implicatons for my work on both Collingwood and Foucault, and for my work on the philosophy of history more generally. Thus, the third book I've ordered is a copy of Derrida's Edmund Husserl's "Origin of Geometry": An Introduction. An essay by Derrida on Husserl that includes the full text of 'The Origin of Geometry'. I think that Husserl's work will really help me parse Collingwood's notion of reenactment and its relationship to phenomenology.

So, one part of the candle is the intellectual part. And I've burning that one pretty well lately. A fair amount, but not a ton, of reading. Some writing, but also not a ton. Just doing what I can. Moving my way through my analysis of Collingwood's final books. Which is taking me longer than I thought it would. There is a lot to reckon with though.

I'm also trying to manage relationships. Trying to pay attention to friends I have while trying to find time for new ones. Because man there just isn't that much time in the days. You go to work and then you have five or six hours at night to see someone or go somewhere and then you gotta go back to work the next day. And despite what Real Estate says, the night is not just another day. It is darker, colder, and sleepier than any day I know. It isn't easy to just keep going going going. Party party party. Socialize socialize socialize. Keep going!

I'm settling in to winter. I'm trying to keep warm. I'm watching the sunset at 4:10 pm. I'm coping with darkness. What to keep doing? Ya know? Just keep on living. For me, keep on reading and writing, keep on going out with friends, keep on going to work, keep on trying to explore, even if I'm not always doing as much as I can. I'm tired, you know? I work a lot. It is cold.

But the goal is to burn the candle. To keep going hard. Keep living hard.

I saw the other day a quotation from Francis Bacon. Something about how a wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. How am I to make opportunities? I don't think I do it quite enough. Still interesting to reflect on.

Don't get me wrong. I'm pretty content these days. I'm working hard and succeeding at work. I'm working hard on my own reading and writing and slowly making progress on that.

I'm more curious than ever.

I will continue to try and live hard despite the cold.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Essay On Philosophical Method

Collingwood's book An Essay On Philosophical Method is in the mail for me. I'm quite excited. I'm starting to close in on Collingwood's oeuvre. Not really. But I've read six of his books now. He published 12 in his lifetime. I've read five of those and one of the posthumously published ones.

The Essay On Philosophical Method is exciting because it initiated his 'series of books' on history and philosophy. I have no idea about this issue of a series. But while looking at his Autobiography I realized that he had planned a series of books.

What is this series that Collingwood speaks of? He had accumulated knowledge he believed valuable to the public and somehow planned a series of books, which, presumably, would culminate in The Principles Of History (which was never finished).

I really want to get my hands on a copy of what was published as The Principles Of History but which is just a fragment of what it probably would have been. But that book is a bit pricy. It is rare.

I need to get it!

I'll read it eventually.

But I'm super excited to have An Essay On Philosophical Method in the mail. I'll swallow that up when I finish Delanda, perhaps. Or whenever I feel like it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflections. What Reflections?

This blog has become predominantly an intellectual affair. I've stopped reflecting on my day to day life. I've stopped commenting on my real experience. Instead, I've continued to comment on books, on ideas that I have.

I have been telling you all (you invisible readers) the story of my thought, not the story of my heart (although they are intimately connected).

I want to reintroduce my heart into this blog. Because it has become too dependent on the activity of my mind.

So, what to say of my heart?

It is still frantic. It is in no state of stability. I have been changing jobs and I'm finally looking for some stability. I am so very satisfied with one of my employers. Just beginning my process with another one of my employers. Who knows what will happen there. Good things, I hope.

But why can't I speak of my heart as easily as I speak of my mind? It is so easy for me to speak of things, to speak of authors and their ideas. I've become adept at that mode of thought and speech.

But my heart is not mere ideas. It is relationships. It is other people and my interactions with them.

If I'm to truly let you into the workings of my heart I'd have to let you into the hearts of others. I'd have to tell you about my relationships, my friends, my acquaintances. But I'm not willing to name names. No need.

Tonight I had dinner with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. A lovely time. We talked about the people we knew, about changes in people's lives, about how silly some people are. A good time.

But oh what a difference it is to speak of people and to speak of things.

Oh! To speak of people!?! To speak of things!?!

How different they are. Because people are the stuff of life and emotions. Things, however, are some kind of background, something different. Things, ideas, are not the same as people and relationships.

There were times where I wrote terrible drunken poetry on this blog. Time where I let my heart run amok on these pages. Let it banish my embarrassment so that I could run free and wild in my own way.

But these days I am too timid for that. I don't care for wild ramblings right now. I care for ideas, for writing.

That and I work all the time. I'm still working 6 days a week. Don't know what to do with myself. Just waiting things out. Things will stabilize. And that stability will beget instability.

I will have more thoughts. Those thoughts will beget more thoughts. Those thoughts will beget times of silence. Then I'll be quiet. I won't think and read as much. I'll relax more. Then I'll write more.

Is there any latent emotion in this post? Can you feel any part of my heart penetrating this dense electronic space? Because I feel my heart. I feel lost and pleased. I'm continuing to live the best way I know how.

I'm making progress on my writing because it is one of the only ways that I know how to stabilize myself.

Talking to a co-worker today, I was explaining how our worldview presuppose the correctness of nihilism. Both of us, more or less, feel that life's meaning is to be created rather than discovered. The meaning of life is to make life meaningful. This idea, however, presupposes that life has no objective meaning. Because if life had objective meaning the task would not be the creation of meaning but the discovery of meaning.

It occurred to me that my writing is my attempt to create my own meaning. It is my way of creating a complex moral system that I can adhere to. I don't always follow it. I fail.

But at this point in my life, I have chosen to ground my conception of ethics in aesthetics. I have tried to make my life meaningful by trying to making it aesthetic. By which I mean, above all, expressive. I want my life to be full of expressiveness, full of a pursuit of truth, and full of attempts to use consciousness towards these ends.

Ohhhh. I don't know what to tell you about my life on this blog. Because I don't want to get too explicit about people.

But I want you to know that I don't just think about things. That my life is full of people that I think about.

And this is so difficult, so interesting. When you know people you speak about people and things equally. But when you first get to know someone, what do you speak of? People? Things?

Who knows.

I'm out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Delanda and Decision Making

I'm about 50 pages into Manuel Delanda's A Thousand Years Of Nonlinear History and I'm pretty excited about it.

The thing that I see in it is a way to conceptualize individual decision making within materially and historically complex contexts.

Because with people like Foucault, who I love, we see the downplaying of the subject, the minimization of human decision making. Foucault's reasons for downplaying the role of the individual are understandable, as Johanna Oksala made clear to me in Foucault On Freedom. He was responding to phenomenological philosophy's tendency to ignore historical context in favor of introspection, to treat the subject as ahistorical. Foucault's histories may appear to ignore the subject, thus destroying any chance of conceptualizing freedom. But, on the contrary, his histories are meant to show us the limitations on our freedom so that we can choose with more efficacy. His explication of complex historical networks of languages and institutions is not meant to convince us that human freedom does not exist, but that it can only exist within this historically determined networks, that all of our thoughts and actions can only be historically constituted.

Foucault's choice to reduce the role of the subject in his histories, while understandable, leaves us with a challenge: How to arrive at a clear conception of human freedom while continuing to recognize the constitutive effects of languages and institutions?

I believe Delanda can help me with this. He argues that "to understand the role of decision making in the creation of social order, we need to concentrate not so much on the more or less rational character of individual decisions, but on the dynamics (centralized or decentralized) among many interacting decision makers" (43). He insists that we must take account of larger circumstances, the uncertainty of information, the difficulties that people have in knowing exactly what they are deciding, all of which can be summed up in the term 'friction'. He claims that to remove friction "from our models (by postulating an optimizing rationality, for instance) automatically eliminates the possibility of capturing any real dynamical effect (41). This comes remarkably close to Clausewitz's conception of friction as a force that can never be perfectly defined by theory, but which will always be a factor in decision making, all of those minor mishaps and events that lower the general level of achievement in a military campaign, or in any type of decision making, for that matter. Nonlinearity is also a major factor in Clausewitz, so Alan Beyerchan argues.

What I really need from Delanda, therefore, is a way to create a model of decision making that takes account of both the material and the ideal, of the physical structures of matter-energy around us and the languages, institutions, and ideas that give those material structures their unique cultural coloring.

Interestingly, this is precisely the task I am working on in AZI. I am working on developing a philosophical model of decision making that can then be applied to political, military, and civilian educational systems. The crux of the model, of course, will be the idea of experience, synthetic experience, and different forms of simulation that can provide such a synthetic experience.


How curious.

But this is also where I see my work on Collingwood going. I am still reflecting on The New Leviathan, and the current part of AZI is an examination of political/aesthetic themes in Collingwood's final monographs. I hope to show that Collingwood's work was heading in the same direction, that his work implies the need to come up with a model of decision making and a method of educating that type of decision making.

So, there is something very serious going on in Delanda's work. I can't wait to see where this book leads me. How it leads me closer to Deleuze. How it leads me towards a synthesis of materialism and idealism. How it helps me in this task of properly conceptualized choice and the education of judgement.

Because I see myself pursuing work in the space where Collingwood, Clausewitz, and Foucault collide. Perhaps Delanda will be a crucial part of this attempt to synthesize these authors.

Friday, December 2, 2011



Here I am. At home, hanging out. Wondering what to do with my night.

The biggest thing being that I have to be at work at six tomorrow morning. Yikes. I worked at 6:30 this morning. Bummer that I have to work again at 6 tomorrow. I'll be pretty tired. But I'll be fine for sureeee. No worriessss brooo.

I'm just not quite sure what to do.

The urge to really write hasn't struck me. I might be too tired to think clearly about Collingwood right now. Because the next step in my writing is all that stuff on Collingwood's final books that I talked about in my last post.

I think I'll just take a shower. Probably try and read some of A Thousand Years Of Nonlinear History. I'm curious about it. Been reading the introduction. Seem unusual and challenging so far. But I'm excited to get into it.

Sounds fine to me. But sounds like early work. I hope I don't always have to work early on the weekends in the future. Well, I won't forever, obviously. But I wonder how long I will.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm Trying Not To Buy Books But I Failed Tonight!

I just bought a copy of Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought. Should be incredibly relevant to my interests, duh.

Should put me in contact with yet another monster of twentieth-century philosophy, duh.

Not sure when I'll get to it, obvi.

But I imagine that it has a lot to offer me and I'm excited to have the option of looking at it whenever I want.

Not blogging much these days because I'm busy, son.

I have, however, written the first page or two of the final part of AZI.

I will begin by examining Collingwood's final books, trying to see if there is a consistent relationship between politics and aesthetics in his late work.

I will argue that Collingwood's thinking can only lead to an attempt to theorize individual decision making, and inevitably, a theory of the education of the individual capacity for decision making.

In other words, I believe that Collingwood's project must be brought to bear on the Clausewtizian project of revolutionizing the relationship between history and philosophy, history and theory.

Collingwood's work must culminate in a project of figuring out how to properly educate the political elites and the citizenry alike.

This means building a theory of decision making out of the fragments of aesthetic, political, historical, philosophical, and cultural analyses found in Collingwood's late work.

This man died before he was able to articulate such a thing. I want to take it on myself to carry his work to its logical end, to the theory of political education. For, as Collingwood insists, "The life of politics is the life of political education" (The New Leviathan, 260).

How does one carry out the political education of both the ruling elite and the citizenry, therefore, is the question that must be raised in response to Collingwood's final books. And it is the question I intend to answer with a little help from my friends, Clausewitz, Foucault, and Collingwood himself.

For I aim to be a Clausewitzian, a Foucaultian, and perhaps above all, a Collingwoodian.