If you cast your mind backwards in time to that earlier post – you may even consider reading the post if you haven’t already – you will remember that Wygart made some hay of the point of how in music the use of vocables can be used as mechanism to instigate a translinguistic process of emotional and spiritual engagement with between artist and audience, creating a kind of semantic synesthesia, where meaning and emotion blur.
Jimmy Wales in 2008 by Manuel Archain via Wikimedia Foundation
Jimmy Wales is staring at me again – he’s hard to get away from sometimes, he can be quite relentless – it must be that time of year again – you know Wikipedia‘s annual fundraising drive. Eventually I will rummage around under sofa cushions, raid the change dish, generally do what ever it takes to round up my piddling $25 annual contribution and send it off hoping I can buy him off for another 11 months. It’s not that I mind making the contribution it’s that I’m easily disturbed by confrontational stares.
For over two thousand years the idea of a ‘Black Swan’ has been synonymous with something that does not exist or cannot exist, and comes down to us originally from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics where the concepts: white, black and swan are proposed as predicates in syllogisms using white + swan as a necessary relations and the black + swan as an improbable or impossible one – not an entirely unreasonable position when you consider that no one had ever seen anything but white swans and seven eights of the world was unknown to the Greeks.
The Black Swan form was further popularized from the 2nd century on by Roman satirist Juvenal’s couplet:
rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno
[a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan]
Dr. Roger Pielke Jr, [‘Pielke the Younger’ around here] my go-to-guy for science policy related topics posted a video on his excellent blog produced by NPR entitled, “Filling Up – 7 Billion, How Did We Get So Big So Fast” a several days ago which hasn’t attracted much comment, but was particularly interesting to me in light of having spent an electricityless weekend two weeks ago reading David P. Goldman’s [the online columnist ‘Spengler’ over at Asia Times Online] very new book, “How Civilizations Die, (and why islam is dying too)” – a must read for people interested in the geo and socio-political implications of demographic trends [well worth looking at as long as you remain aware that his thesis has some theoretical limitations] If you are frightened of the Islam angle for some reason, it is possible to subtract out that aspect and you still come up with a fascinating thesis – which I will let you read the book to discover – or maybe I will write more at a future date.
The take away I will leave you from that book is that the radical decline in fertility rates in the Western world in the last three centuries and the currently collapsing fertility rate in the muslim [you didn’t know either?] and much of the developing world requires a radical rethink of the neo-Malthusian paranoia, of overpopulation apocalypse we have been force fed since the Ehrlichs and their ilk made their onto the scene in the ’60’s and continues to be a core assumption of a great many people, as we grope out way forward into a global future that may be dominated by demographic decline rather than a population bomb. In other words, it reintroduces that concept of depopulation to the modern vocabulary, which used to be a subject of great concern in the premodern and classical worlds.
I was visiting The Pointman at his blog recently, when I picked up on an older post which I had previously passed over entitled, “William Johnson; echoes of an unimportant life”, not recognizing at the time the eponymous William Johnson as Blind Willie Johnson, the legendary Texas blues man, and one of the very rare human artists honored by having a recording of his music sent to the stars aboard the Voyager spacecraft in the 1970’s. Time to correct that.
The Pointman in his own inimitable way gives a pithy précis of William Johnson’s life, some of the significance of his musical legacy, with an added discourse on the history of the Voyager program, and how Gary Flandro invented the orbital mechanics that made ‘The Grand Tour’ of the solar system of the Voyager program possible. I highly recommend this post, you won’t get much of what follows if you don’t, and The Pointman in general.
What made this particular article stand out in my mind, and which opened a door to my particular [peculiar?] mind was this paragraph here.
But there’s a piece on it by another musician of interest though. It’s called “Dark was the night, cold was the ground” and it’s by William Johnson. It’s a curious piece of music. I first heard it when I was in a bad situation and was hurting. There was something eerie about it. It was as if I was listening in stillness to someone else who was there with me, but we were both somehow listening together. It isn’t quite blues or gospel but something else altogether; Ry Cooder called it the basis of all slide guitar and “the most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music”, which is a lot of responsibility for any one song to bear. The technical merits of the song I’ll leave to Ry, because he’s a knowledgeable and gifted guitarist, but I do know that it is important in terms of its impact on me and others I’ve spoken to.
It has been a long, long time since I have listened to ol’ Blind Willie, so I had to go have a relisten. You can have a listen here.
In an article in Ha-Aretz, where he [Paul Halsall] argues a stylish pomo-poco case that the prisoner exchange reveals Israel’s racism, Alon Idan makes a number of statements that reveal the counter-empirical assertions that necessarily underly his argument:
Yet behind this feeling of superiority [at how much Israelis value life more than Palestinians] lurked a murky, inverted truth. The fact is, the release of one Israeli soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners is not normal; certainly it does not represent an inferior love felt by a Palestinian mother for her son compared to an Israeli mother…. This equation derives from the way we, not Hamas, view reality: 1,027 Palestinians are worth one Jewish life not because the Palestinians minimize the importance of their own lives, but because we diminish the value of their lives.
Certainly. I remember hearing the same from Ted Koppel at the outbreak of the intifada. Hosting a program in which he had to have the Israelis separated from the Palestinians – on the insistence of the Palestinians – he responded to one Israeli claiming that the Palestinians wanted war: “I don’t believe that for a minute. A Palestinian mother cares about her children every bit as much as an Israeli mother.”
It was indeed these dogmatic kinds of politically correct statements that led me to formulate the expression “liberal cognitive egocentrism.” This kind of thinking, which Edward Saïd insisted we – not the Arabs – adopt, is a major element in the cognitive war that Islam wages against us, and creates an extensive epistemological confusion in which we cannot identify the problems or analyze how to resolve them. The editors of the NYT, and their major columnists like Friedman, Kristof, and Cohen, all participate in this liberal, PC dogma, and accordingly, find themselves constantly ignoring reality and coming up with ludicrous solutions. (As Pierre Taguieff pointed out long ago, when all the fishes swim in the same direction it’s because they’re dead.”)
This is a pretty difficult thread in that Richard is taking a position that there may be some real differences between Palestinian culture and modern society, at least presently, that are tangible even in such sacrosanct institutions as motherhood that need to be faithfully and accurately analyzed, especially in terms of what he refers to as Cognitive Egocentrism and how that reflects in the Western media and society.
Luboš Motl [aka Lumo around here] over at the The Reference Frame, my go-to-guy on String Theory, Particle Physics, and Physics in general, has a post up entitled MSNBC VS FOX NEWS ON COLD FUSION. In this post our super-stringy, super-symetric, non-quantum loopy correspondent strays form the physics implications of the possible invention by Italian physicist and inventor Andrea Rossi of the University of Bologna of a device claimed to produce cold fusion by some unknown physical mechanism, to the quality of reporting or biases in reporting on the subject by MSNBC and Fox News – with predictable results – a lot of bad humor and name calling on all sides.
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. The phrase was coined by Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent beliefs. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. A closely related term, cognitive disequilibrium, was coined by Jean Piaget to refer to the experience of a discrepancy between something new and something already known or believed.