All posts for the month February, 2006

Interesting post from Sam Norton. A thoughtful Christian positioning on recent “blasphemy furies”. Amongst other things I was taken by this quote from Rene Girard.

“The invention of science is not the reason that there are no longer witch-hunts, but the fact that there are no longer witch-hunts is the reason that science has been invented. The scientific spirit … is a by-product of the profound action of the Gospel text.”

Seems difficult to reconcile that with the image of subversion of scientific texts dramatised in “The Name of the Rose” and assorted bonfires of the vanities – but yet again we are really talking about the difference between enlightened understanding of a belief system vs misguided things done it its name – not to mention subsequent misguided reactions to such belief systems based on misunderstanding it on the basis of those very things done in its name.

On a very brief reading of the Girard reference Sam provides, I can also feel a parallel between his avoidance of “taking offense” and Follett’s integration of differences (as opposed to resolution of differences). Not to mention Argyris’ avoidance of giving and receiving embarassment, and his distinction between “espoused theories” and “theories in use” and of course Brunsson’s “necessary hypocrisy” …. I could go on.

Also of great interest is Girard’s use of the word mimetism (mimetic) for “contagion”. Precisely the same mimesis etymological root as “memetic” – artificially re-constructed by Dawkins to rhyme audibly and visually with “genetic”. Mimicry, contagion, replication, infection. Inescapable. So much social-anthropology / evolutionary-psychology (pragmatic-reality, yes even “science”) is to be found in etymology.

Perhaps I should explain, why I’ve hardly posted recently.

I’ve barely had time to read anything except news stories for about two weeks. I’ve been active off-line and face-to-face in Cambridge with a group of people keen to make some real-world progress taking a discussion forum onto a new level, corresponding, preparing for, participating and documenting ideas coming out of that. Several entirely sleepless nights, but too soon to go public.

And I had a long weekend away – celebrating our birthday (Sylvia and I are consecutive days) the big “Five 0” in my case.

Oh, and we’ve been making preparations for a possible major domestic move, which I can’t say much more about yet.

Clear as mud, no ?

The change at Enlightened Caveman, morphing into Enlightened Living, from Chris Wilson’s personal blog to a new group blog, is somewhat clearer after a recent hiatus.

Latest news on Google in China is about some bureaucratic hiccup, but the censorship story hits the headlines again …

Google, together with other major technology firms, has [] come under fire in the US for helping China censor the internet. Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus said four US firms were putting profits before American principles of free speech.

[But] Google’s policy of telling users which pages are censored has also drawn the wrath of some [local] newspapers. “Does a business operating in China need to constantly tell customers that it’s abiding by the laws of the land?” asked the China Business Times, comparing Google to an uninvited guest.

The overt censorship actually reminds the community it is being censored by the laws of the land. Take it from there.

Bio pic of Burt Munro, Kiwi who set the world speed record at Bonneville on his US “Indian” motorcycle. A film which, the lead Anthony Hopkins says, “is the best he’s ever made”.

Looks interesting to Pirsig / Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance fans, on the evidence of the trailers, and not just because of the motorbike connection. The individual driven by a passion from youth, the man and boy relationship, where the boy understands the real man better than others do, living life through immediate experience, a man “from another planet”, the functional quality of improvised (brandy bottle stopper) tank plug based on understanding the engineering more deeply than surface appearances. Anthony Hopkins own affinity with the machine avoiding flooding the sensitively tuned engine. Connotations of the very name “Indian”. All stories ZMM fans will recognise.

Two trailers, one here at the Beeb, another slightly different one here at a New Zealand Entertainment site. And don’t forget to read the interview on this “Senior Journal” site, with Wayne Alexander who built and prepared the bike(s) for the film, which includes the Hopkins anecdote towards the end.

Uncanny how Hopkins looks like contemporary Pirsig too.
(You still working on that film project DMB ?)

[Post Note : I did obtain the film on DVD, and it’s very good, both the story and the Hopkins portrayal. Must review sometime. Is there any other biographical source on Munro ?]

Also from Mark Federman, a piece on research he is doing on organisational effectiveness. The point that interested me, apart from the general parallel with my agenda, and my earlier dissertation is his focus on Chris Argyris “espoused theories” concept – ie the idea that they are different to actual “theories in use”.

Something I’ve since come to equate with Nils Brunsson’s institutionalised organisational hypocrisy. One of the defense mechanisms we have developed as parts of organisations, to overcome the conflict between simple rational reasoned decisions and holistically understood best courses of action. (Equally well mis-exploited the other way round, to post-rationalise why not taking the best course of action was “the right decision at the time”.) Spot on Mark.

A series organised by “General Creative” apparently (broken link ?) [via Mark Federman]. Two interesting editions mentioned …

“Mythdemeanour – relationship between myths, the social construction of our world, and love.”

“Argument – the ways we used to know things, and what the electronic future may hold for us …. tactile reasoning by choreography.”

Some great stuff happening in Toronto.