All posts by kaimuse

About kaimuse

Kai Matthews is a musician, composer, and philosopher-in-training (with degrees in both fields, to the extent that that means anything.) As a 12th-generation American and 8th-generation Canadian, but born as an ex-pat in Germany and feeling more European in outlook, he feels at once both a deep rootedness in and a critical reserve toward his culture. He feels most comfortable being a little out of his milieu - that is, being uncomfortable and challenged. He's a cisgendered hetero white boy who's lived in a gay neighbourhood in San Francisco, and is a middle-class WASPy anglophone living in a poor, multi-cultural immigrant 'hood where most people's first language is neither French nor English. He was a rock and roll hippie getting a classical composition degree at a jazz school, and is a perpetual beginner student of North Indian classical music, in which his Western training is less help than hindrance. In philosophy, he naïvely wonders why the perpetually feuding analytic and Continental traditions can't just get along...

The Simulacrum

The idea of the simulacrum which I discussed in the following review (slightly revised here) I did for a sociology class in my undergrad days strikes me in retrospect as a good example of a postmodernist tendency to take a good concept and overextend it – a tendency which, ironically enough, postmodernist thinkers have criticised modernist, Enlightenment-inspired thinkers of having in abundance, manifesting in particular as an impulse to create “totalising” ideologies. The dangers of sweeping generalisation are perennial.

IMG_7495Chapter 7 of Sturken and Cartwright’s “Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture“, titled “Postmodernism and Popular Culture”, begins by discussing the “simulacrum” in the context of postmodernism. The simulacrum is what replaces the idea of “the original” – whether that original is an image, a text, or a more abstract entity such as “an ideal small town” – as a result of what might be called the postmodern reordering of cultural space. It has been able to do so because of the rise to predominance of the image over other forms of cultural media and of technologies of (apparently) perfect reproduction.

The simulacrum cannot be, and does not need to be, tied to a particular referent. In the case of “an ideal small town”, Disneyland’s Main Street is a simulacrum par excellence: it refers to no particular town anywhere, as opposed to the referent of, let’s say, an actual town in Maine as referred to in the memory of someone who has been to it. Its very generic nature is its essence, and thus it is easily reproducible, and any and every re-production is as essentially “original” as the initial production. The fact that an image or other entity might be the first instance of production rather than the thousandth has no significance when that entity is a simulacrum. They are all originals and thus none are originals.

Postmodernism questions the modernist assumption of progressive linearity of development, of historical necessity, and thus the temporal causal chain with which one would trace back to the “original” potentially is brought into question. [pp. 251-252] “Presence”, the immediacy of direct perception, of experience, is itself challenged as not so direct, in fact as always mediated. [p. 252] (This is a centrally familiar concept in phenomenology.) How do you know that this is the “original” you are experiencing? All you have are your sense impressions, interpreted by your brain; thus you perceive not the “real world”, but your brain’s constructed simulacrum of it. Postmodernism also challenges the claims to universality of various philosophical concepts and the institutions which are founded upon them. How do you determine “authenticity” when its basis – the values underlying it – may be culturally contingent and thus limited in scope? [p. 252]

As a musician who works in digital media, as well as a philosopher, I find a certain irony in the notion of the predominance of the simulacrum in the age of the image and digital reproduction, in the notion that there are, or may be, no longer any originals. I would say that even if the first instance, the first digital file, of a composition I create on my laptop in Ableton Live is not “original”, in the sense that it’s indistinguishable from every subsequent copy I make and distribute electronically, there is yet an irreducible and inextinguishable originality in the act of its creation, which, after all, happens first in one and only one place: my brain. (The memetic question of how original any creative person actually can be, given unconscious influences by others, and the deterministic causal chains those imply, is a different one, not requiring resolution for this determination of the originality – in the sense of being different from and prior to all copies – of the products of my brain’s activity.) This sense of originality adheres to the composition forever thereafter, no matter how many copies I or anyone else may make of it. Its referent is durable. Thus, the irony lies in the sweeping nature of the claim of ubiquity for the simulacrum; perhaps just the sort of metanarrative which postmodernism aspires to abjure.

—Kaï Matthews

(Image from http://www.redbubble.com/people/thehazeeffect/works/10730573-there-are-many-copies?p=pouch )

Dressing for the Heat

1891600_10152484108932683_2793182695933157344_oIt’s during hot weather like today’s that one of the deeply insane aspects of our dominant Western culture stands out to me. It’s the insistence on adherence to standard workplace dress codes, especially suits and ties, which are, at best, only suited to mildly cool weather, during warmer weather. This means, of course, that during outdoor walking or public transit commutes many people are quite overdressed, and workplaces, shops, and theatres, for instance, are overly air-conditioned to meet this norm. Everyone who’s worked in an office building has probably witnessed the incongruity of the secretary who brings in a sweater to wear indoors when it’s sweltering outside.

All of this is of course extremely wasteful; so much energy could be saved if we all wore seasonally appropriate clothes. (I won’t propose nudism for really hot weather, although that’s actually the most logical option.) In some hot countries (e.g., Israel or The Philippines, where you usually see politicians on the news in short sleeve shirts and no jackets or ties), they do wear more appropriate attire. But not here in North America or Europe during hot weather. No, we insist on denying the reality of the season and modifying as much of our environment as possible to create an artificial spring or autumn. We resent nature and want it to conform to our needs, to accommodate our dress codes. (I don’t include myself, or many people I know, for that matter, in this “we”, of course. It’s merely a rhetorical device.) This truly is insane.

—Kaï Matthews

Walking, Thinking, and Attention

Saw a posting (via Brain Pickings) about Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000) a few weeks back, and just got around to buying the e-book. Walking, as a basic, mundane, yet profound way of being in the world, is its theme.

For me, walking has been essential to knowing and remembering, to processing and understanding both the world of things and the abstractions of thinking. Some of my earliest memories involve it: I remember the side street of our block on Ismaningerstraße in central Munich, Wehrlestraße, walking with my older brother holding my hand; I was less than 2, maybe even younger; we moved out to the inner suburb Solln very shortly thereafter. We left Germany when I was four and a half. But when we went back to visit when I was 19, I was surprised at how accurate my memories of the places I’d walked were; sharper than the vague ones of our apartment and then our house in Solln. The buildings, the church whose tower we could see from our building’s back courtyard, everything on Wehrlestraße. In Solln there was a patch of woods (which is still there, as are the farmers’ fields nearby) at the end of our street with a path that led to a commercial strip on the main road (Wolfratshauserstraße) where my grandmother would take me to the local Konditerei for pastries and gummi-baerlien. Again, my 19-year-old self, retracing my 3-year-old self’s steps, found it just as I’d remembered it.

I’ve written before of how whenever I’m in a new place and want to really know it, I walk. Driving through a place is like skimming the Cliff Notes of “War and Peace”; even a bicycle is still a machine which mediates one’s experience, which takes a piece of one’s attention away from one’s surroundings. Walking is so automatic that it barely registers on one’s awareness, leaving it free to contemplate one’s surroundings; when it does impinge upon it, when we stumble over some obstacle, for instance, that is still a direct engagement with those surroundings. There is no more intimate way of being in the wider world. We’re animals. Moving under our own power is what we do and how we have known the world for far longer than any other means.

It is also why we can feel a loss of mobility, whether our own or another’s, so keenly: Tom, a First Nations guy who’s been one of the two guys who do the garbage, yard work, and snow removal around our building, and who has cheerfully dug out my car every winter (I pay him) with his snowblower, got cancer a few months ago, lost the ability to walk, may have only six more months to live, is bald from chemo, and is getting around in a motorized wheelchair. I saw him yesterday as I was out shopping and told him I was glad to see he could still get out and about, all over the wider neighbourhood; he laughed and said, yeah, it’s nice. But it’s still heartbreaking to see him not walking and riding his bike around, to say nothing of not having long to live.

Like fellow Concordia grad and flâneur Chris Erb, I’m baffled by people who are perfectly able to walk (and whose local environment lacks any major impediments to it – an objection raised in earlier discussions of this piece) but who dislike it, who prefer to minimize it by using their cars or other means. (Chris once described a visit with some Fredericton friends: he wanted to show them some place that was a ways away, and thought nothing of walking there, but as they proceeded and realized that it was going to be more than a couple of blocks, they became anxious and balked.) It makes me wonder whether rigidity of thought goes with a lack of significantly frequent walking – and I don’t just mean the lack of exercise which can also impair blood-flow and thus cognitive function.

Walking as a meditative activity can be in familiar surroundings, where that familiarity facilitates the automaticity of it, so that one’s thoughts can wander abstract pathways; or it can be in novel surroundings which trigger new associative thinking – free wandering parallels free association. In either case, something about the act of moving on our feet seems to set our thoughts in motion in a way that doesn’t happen as much when we’re sedentary. (There’s an image of philosophers as armchair thinkers, but I think a look at the lives of various thinkers throughout the ages would reveal that many of them engaged in perambulatory meditations much of the time.)

Why should moving about on our two feet be so intimately involved in our cognitive engagement with the world? A folk/evolutionary psychology explanation would probably cite the fact that we’ve been walking for several million years, and in a world where paying acute attention while walking was essential to survival. Possibly, but that’s only the bare bones of an hypothesis.

I’m looking forward to reading what Solnit has to say about it and much else.

—Kaï Matthews

Postscript, after a fair amount of Facebook feedback; I reproduce here my most recent comments: 

It’s interesting that the comments on my piece should so quickly turn to the practical impediments to walking in our built environments. While one quite valid response to my piece could be to focus on the potential elitism of extolling the singular virtues (for the able-bodied, to be sure) of walking – “Well, aren’t you just so fortunate to have places to walk! Bit of a luxury, innit?! Ain’t no sidewalks where I live!” – I focused on its relationship to our grasp of the world for a quite practical reason.

If walking did not have such a unique beneficial quality to it, one that is lost when other modes of transport are substituted for it, then there would be far less reason to fight for its existence as an everyday and primary means of locomotion. Zipping around our cities in cars, on public transit, on bikes or scooters, or via Futurama-style pneumatic tubes, for that matter, would do just as well, and that would have obvious consequences for urban planning. Any policy worth implementing should have a sound philosophical and scientific basis; speculating about what makes walking special thus is not some indulgence for lazy elites but rather is relevant to everyone, no matter their circumstances.

I want to argue for the essential, unique, and irreplaceable value of walking, a value I think is rooted in our ancient bipedal nature, in the way that the evolution of our cognition may be intimately bound up in it.

There was a black guy in LA I remember seeing on the news back in the 90s (IIRC) interviewed about his pushback against cops harassing him for his penchant for taking long, long walks around the city. He spoke of how important it was to him, not merely for the sense of being able to exercise his legal but all too poorly respected right to walk wherever he felt like in public spaces, just like any white person, but also because it helped him think. I remember thinking, yeah! I know just what you mean! The news anchors interviewing him seemed not to register that aspect of his well-articulated explanation of his grievance against the LAPD; they could only view him through a lens of “black man complains about not being able to walk outside his ‘hood.” The idea that he could be pondering and philosophizing during his walks, that that might even be his primary reason for his extensive perambulations, seemed not to occur to them.

Post-postscript: There’s an old joke about the difference between New York and LA: in LA they say “Have a nice day!”, but they’re thinking “F@&# you!”; in NY they say “F@&# you!”, but they’re thinking “Have a nice day!” But for me an even more pertinent difference, and why I prefer NY, is that LA is a sprawling, spread-out city of cars (as the old pop tune goes, “Nobody Walks in LA”, which isn’t strictly true – lots of poor black and Chicano folks do – but true enough), whereas NY truly is a pedestrian city, dense and compact enough for it to be feasible, and a place where it’s not unusual for lifelong residents to never get a driver’s licence.

Post-post-postscript: a number of comments I’ve received have affirmed and expanded upon my themes, so I present them here:

There is something inherently healing as well about walking. I don’t run. I walk. And I notice. Walking pulls me away from my thoughts, and brings me closer to them, at the same time. There is an inward-outward movement, like a wave, from my inner world, to noticing and hearing what’s around me.I suppose that’s why I like to visit cities. I can leave the car where it is, and explore, meet people, engage in my surroundings. – Leeça St.-Aubin

My mother was the first to teach me the power of walking, but many have since encouraged me. Nietzsche admonishes us to trust only those thoughts which come to us while walking and Taleb tells us in an excellent essay precisely why he walks. I’ve witnessed the strange mix of panic and exasperation that many suburban North Americans express when you tell them they’re about to walk for more than 20 minutes, and it is indeed bizarre. Just happened two weeks ago actually. “Why don’t we drive?” she blurted out, trying to conceal her anger. I think you’re on to something concerning the relationship between categorical thinking devoid of nuance and excessive driving. Something to that. – John Faithful Hamer

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” From Twilight of the Idols. (Nietzsche) – Rich James

Many years ago I decided that the best way to explore Brooklyn was to walk from Brighton Beach to the Manhattan Bridge. I took the el train to Brighton Beach, had breakfast at some bar/breakfast place and decided to ask the locals for suggestions. A lively conversation about bus versus metro ensued, but when I clarified that I was planning on walking there was unanimity: that is impossible! I did it, but the route I chose was more or less the equivalent of walking Jean Talon from end to end. Not the most exciting walk…. But I did learn a thing or two about Brooklyn during my meandering. I think that I did something like this: From Brighton Beach to Manhattan Bridge via Coney Island Ave. – Zvi Leve

Taking the train to TO tomorrow and will be reading Dan Rubinstein’s Born to Walk: The transformative power of a pedestrian act, along the way! – Marilyn Berzan-Montblanch

Native American chief, Red Cloud, was born to a mother with the name “Walks As She Thinks”… – Jaffer Ali

Over the last 36 years I’ve run around 65,000 miles. Hiked, skied, climbed, and backpacked much more. For me the motivation is not the opportunity for meditation, but rather the opportunity to observe nature with all my senses that gets me out there. Forget pace. Remember beauty. – Tom Bohannon

Totally agree about the walks: it’s a biological necessity that’s treated like a luxury. – Diana Young

Hell yes!! I love walking!! Especially after a big meal, that’s just the best. When I’m traveling in a new city I walk for hours to soak up the atmosphere. I live in China so wherever I walk I turn heads and get the occasional dirty look and muttered assumptions but it’s small price to pay for a good constitutional. I also love running, and biking and just propelling myself in general without any mechanical assistance though so maybe I’m the strange one. – Mike Benner

Suspended 

  (And now for something completely different from my previous CS posts.)

Joni Mitchell in an interview in Maclean’s:

“Q: Laws you felt needed to be broken. For example, your use of suspended chords in songs—which you say men cannot wrap their heads around. Why?
A: Men need resolution and suspended chords keep things open-ended. You go to a man if you have a problem and he tries to solve it. You go to a girlfriend and she’ll pat you on the back and say, “Oh yeah, I get it.” She doesn’t try and come up with some stupid solution.”

(So true! And a tendency I still struggle with, as a typically socialized man. Yet:)

I love suspended chords; maybe it’s because, despite (and in lifelong dissension from) my earlier Western training, I don’t think of them as suspended, as needing to be resolved into triadic chords. I hear them as legitimate entities in their own right, not as transitional things only justified in their secondary role: supporting a version of tension and release in which release is defined as triadic.

In Indian music, tension-release dynamics do exist, but not in terms of vertical harmonies (there are none; instead only horizontal, melodic note relationships in which hierarchies and statistical proportion play a major role), and in a much more context-specific outlining (via the rules of each particular raga) of precisely in what coming to a resolution consists. I think this has helped strengthen the resistance I always had to accepting the Western triad-centric view. (Quite a few ragas omit the third, or the fifth, or both, yet are still firmly centered on the tonic, the “Sa”.)



“Believing” The IPCC: How Scientific Consensus Differs from Mere Mass Belief

(This is a revision of something I wrote three years ago.)

“With respect to science, the assumption behind consensus is that science is a source of authority and that authority increases with the number of scientists. Of course, science is not primarily a source of authority. Rather, it is a particularly effective approach to inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science; consensus is foreign.” 

“With respect to science, consensus is often simply a sop to scientific illiteracy. After all, if what you are told is alleged to be supported by all scientists, then why do you have to bother to understand it? You can simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief, and you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists except for a handful of corrupted heretics.”

– Richard S. Lindzen, “Climate Alarm: Where Does it Come From?”, lecture presented to the Marshall Institute on 1 December 2004

(from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Science )
 

The second of these two paragraphs is sort of true, in the sense that as a practical matter most of us defer to the consensus reached by scientists rather than going to all the trouble of retracing each and every one of their steps by which they reached that consensus – i.e., we’re too busy or too lazy or (sometimes) insufficiently trained to repeat their work, to confirm it by the same repeatable methods involved in their peer review, which led to the consensus, and thus we “must”, in a sense, “take it on faith”, despite the fact that we could in theory confirm it ourselves. 

But the trouble with Lindzen’s argument overall is that it conflates evidence with those who present it. It’s the preponderance of evidence, gathered collectively via the scientific method, that should be convincing, not the preponderance of scientists themselves, simply as an aggregate of individuals. Thus I have to disagree: it is indeed science that is the source of authority, just not the scientists themselves. This IS a meaningful distinction. 

It’s their method that matters, a method which has the skepticism to which Lindzen refers built into it already, not their numbers. Reality is independent of the percentage of people who see it, whether that percentage is large or small, and the scientific method has been shown time and time again to be our best means to approach that reality. It’s true enough that you shouldn’t necessarily believe something to be true just because a majority or even a totality of a group of people believe it (something that is the bulk of the persuasive force of religion, for instance), but in the case of science and scientists, it is NOT simply a matter of belief. Thus, consensus is NOT merely “a sop to scientific illiteracy”; that assertion is a slippery, and, I think, borderline dishonest bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand:

Lindzen posits a curious, and I think unwarranted, opposition between skepticism and consensus, one which ignores the temporal sequence in which they operate, one in which they operate complementarily. As I imply in my title, scientific consensus is NOT merely belief en masse. It’s not merely possible, but highly probable and necessary for a group of scientists to come up with a consensus – one which, like all scientific conclusions, is provisional, open to revision – which is itself the product of a long process involving skepticism at every step of the way. The better that a group of scientists practices the scientific method, the more skepticism will be involved in the formation of whatever consensus is reached. It’s very likely they will have engaged in very sharply critical debates along the way, but at some point, consensus IS reached. Science doesn’t just consist of endless arguments; agreements are reached as well. Otherwise, no advances would ever be made! The scenario that Lindzen seems to be implying here, of conclusions being reached en masse with little or no skepticism involved, whereupon the brave (and presumably vastly in the minority) skeptics step in to question it all, is just silly. It’s just not the way it works. Scientists are already plenty skeptical. It’s just that their skepticism has a goal: the reaching of a well-founded consensus. It’s absurd to say that “consensus is foreign” to science. Actually, good consensuses (consensi?) are the main POINT of science. They are always open to revision, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t valid at all.

(The deniers who call themselves skeptics also have a goal, but it is not the honest one of reaching a well-founded consensus. Their goal is usually the defence of their status quo. They use the terminology of the scientific method to make their armchair critiques seem thoughtful and constructive, but closer examination reveals a lack of the kind of critical efforts in which real scientists must and do engage. They don’t do their homework; a hallmark of their debating techniques is to throw the burden of proof onto whomever challenges them, asking for citations, etc., when they’ve already had plenty of opportunities to seek out the documentation themselves, to come to the debate already having done the relevant research of readily available sources, IF they were truly sincere.)

Lindzen asks, “if what you are told is alleged to be supported by all scientists, then why do you have to bother to understand it?” Well, the point he omits is that you CAN understand it, should you take the trouble and time to do so. The scientific method is just as available to you as it is to them. You can read their papers; you can follow their reasoning. Science works, and works best, by open review. If you bother to make the effort, you can read the IPCC reports. They’re freely available. If you don’t, that’s your problem. It’s not a valid critique of the reports to say that they are the result of some mass collusion to agree on some pre-arranged, politically motivated conclusion, as many deniers (who incorrectly call themselves skeptics) do. How would you know that unless you read them and checked them out yourself? You have no prior reason to believe that such a nefarious conspiracy exists – other than your own resistance to having to re-examine your own comfortable existence – and that’s insufficient. Skepticism in good faith (so to speak; I’m not invoking faith in the sense of unsupported belief), as opposed to emotional resistance to one’s pre-existing assumptions (“It’s just sunspots! I can go on driving my Hummer!”) being challenged, involves taking a serious look at the evidence whenever a scientist raises an alarm based on his analysis of it. Skepticism is NOT merely thinking, oh, well, they must be conspiring, therefore I don’t need to look at what they’re presenting. One has a responsibility to meet scientists on the common ground of the scientific method if one’s critique of their conclusions is to have any validity. 
 
A scientist may certainly believe in a conclusion once he or she is satisfied that the criteria required by the scientific method have been met, but belief, whether individual or en masse, is not the source of the conclusion’s truth; rather, it’s a consequence of it. It should be kept in mind that the methods that individual scientists use are independent of the contingent facts of who they are; another person equally well-versed in those methods should be able to and will reproduce the same results, the same conclusion from the same evidence, to the degree that their efforts aren’t clouded by prejudice and unwarranted assumptions and what Richard Feynman referred to as one’s tendency to fool oneself first of all.  
 
Thus, it is the scientific method itself which is the source of authority, not the scientists who wield it. The consensus we speak of – e.g., the IPCC reports – is a consensus of facts and their implications (what we call a “theory”, which is not the same as a mere guess), not merely a consensus of a group of people’s opinions. The authority resides only in the well-formulated and well-tested theory, and not at all in whoever comes up with it. (If someone other than Newton had come up with the laws we refer to as his Three Laws, they would be just as valid.) If a scientist who has produced a good theory before comes up with a clunker on her next attempt, the validity of the earlier theory does not magically accrue to the new, flawed one. The new one has to stand on its own, and in no case does any authority reside in the scientist per se. It resides in her results to the degree that they are the product of good methods.
 
If you ignore what it is that is unique to the practice of science, then yes, it’s possible to make the mistake of saying that accepting what a majority of scientists say is no different than accepting what a majority of priests say. It IS different, and it is the independent scientific method which makes it so.

Trolls Derailing Trains of Thought

kaisarod

(An expansion of some thoughts I had a few years ago.)

There is a troubling phenomenon, familiar to many of us, that recurs frequently in internet discussions (although it’s by no means unique to them: I’ve experienced a similar one in a classroom setting as well, as I will discuss below), where an individual will make a disruptive, discordant comment on a text (of whatever length, from paragraph to blog entry to journalism article to academic paper) wherein they studiously ignore the content of the text, in order to express what is quite apparently one of his or her pet peeves, which often and usually has, at best, tangential relevance to the subject matter.

Often it seems that it’s the presence of certain trigger words in the text (or better yet, in the abstract of, preface to, or reposter’s comment on the text, so that the disruptor need not have…

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“Life Itself Would Be Impossible Without Chemicals!” (Yes, but…)

kaisarod

You know, I decry scientific illiteracy as much as the next critical thinker, but I have to part company with certain skeptics when they engage in straw man fallacy tactics by dismissing concerns over “chemicals” with unhelpful generalities about how “life itself would be impossible without chemicals” and snipe condescendingly at such unfortunate ignorance as some people getting alarmed when told that there’s a chemical called “di-hydrogen oxide” that’s in everything (that’s just an awkward name for water: two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom), a kind of joke that was dreamed up to illustrate scientific illiteracy. Yes, it’s true that all sorts of perfectly fine naturally-occurring compounds that are part of our biology and exist throughout the biosphere have chemical names that could sound ominous to the unschooled. It’s even true that some manmade ones are perfectly fine, too, as well that some natural ones are dangerous.
But despite…

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Cold, Warmth, and Planning

kaisarod


Today, the 19th of May, 2015, was a beautiful, warm, summery day here in Montreal. I had planned to do various chores indoors after an essential errand after which I thought I’d also stop by Le Caravane Café to sit at one of their outside tables, for un petit repas. But my singer friend Ina, my music collaborator and fellow student of Indian music, called and asked if we could meet in a park sometime and try some jamming in Raga Megh, of which she’d recently become enamoured. I replied that it looked like we were in for some cooler days ahead, so she suggested we seize the day and meet this very afternoon. So after my errand I met her across town in parc Lafontaine, one of the city’s nicest parks, not far from her place.

Heading out, I’d checked the Weather Network’s radar and forecast to see if…

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Unconscious Grace

(I will continue to post some old pieces of mine  – this one from 2011 – until such time as events provoke some more timely musings.)


One of my philosophy classmates (issei) posted a Darwin quote on his FB page which prompted some further comments which reminded me of a similar theme in musical practice.

Issei Takehara – ” ‎”attention paid to the act of swallowing interferes with the proper movements,” which is probably why “some persons find it so difficult to swallow a pill.” – Works of Darwin: vol. 23″

Sharone Birapaka – “try breathing normally while trying to breathe normally”

Cameron Brown Rigo – “Not unrelated: ”to reveal intense application and skill robs everything of grace.” – Castiglione, Book of the Courtier”  Continue reading Unconscious Grace

What is Design?

A number of folks more erudite than I have approached this question from various angles, particularly as it applies to computers and software. From reading their books and articles as well as reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve come up with my own shorthand of what it is, and what it is not.

Let’s start with what it isn’t:

1. It isn’t something that deals just with surfaces, with making things “look pretty” for the customers; it isn’t slapping on a coat of paint, so to speak. Continue reading What is Design?