The Pragmatic Web

From Piers Young at Monkey Magic, Reading The Mathematical Theory of Communication by Warren Weaver and Claude Shannon.

Actually several good spots from Piers. Like this set of “shit ideas” from gapingvoid, also via Monkey Magic.

And this “relationship” is the message is the medium take on McLuhan, from this Harvard Business School paper – a variation on the earlier “What’s lurve got to do with it ?“.

John Peel Sadly Missed

I was travelling outside the UK yesterday when I heard of John Peel’s death. Part of the furniture of British culture for my lifetime I was shocked to find a collegue who had never heard of him.

He will live on in those early Radio 1 Sounds of the 70’s broadcasts and recorded sessions, and the bands and tunes he introduced me to. Also in that even earlier image of him as a Liverpool Echo journalist who just happened to be in Dallas in 1963, captured on film in the footage of the Jack Ruby shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, right through to the regular habit of the past decade of lying in bed on a Saturday morning to catch Radio 4 Home Truths. Made it acceptable too, to have a passion for football, which included loyal support of one team, Liverpool, but equally transferrable to the team of his adopted Suffolk home, Ipswich. A true gent, one of very few.

Correction – actually JP was at one of the Lee Harvey Oswald press conferences in the same police station a day or so before the shooting by Jack Ruby, and appears in the background of some film / photos. He wasn’t actually there at the time time of the shooting. Memory playing tricks.

Value Judgement Is Dead

Caught an item on breakfast TV worth noting, “Lost Worlds: What have we lost and Where did it go?”, book by Michael Bywater. About tracing cultural change through listing the things we miss that are no more – a bit like John Major’s look back at things like old ladies cycling to mass on misty Sunday mornings, warm beer and cricket on the village green. In danger of being pure nostalgia, but the serious point being that the things we miss (however distorted by rose tinted spectacles and hindsight) must have had some significance, if we notice their passing. So far so good.

The bombshell was the author’s response to which single item did he see the passing of as most significant. “Judgement”, he said. “We’re no longer allowed to make value judgements about what is right or wrong, good or bad”, he clarified.

There we have it. Objectivity has all but destroyed quality, maybe even, dare I say, morality. It’s politically incorrect to be caught expressing value judgements, not corroborated by “scientific” evidence (or religious doctrine – same thing.)

I Wish

Favorite line from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, thus far [according to Long Story, Short Pier]:

?Well, I suppose one ought not to employ a magician and then complain that he does not behave like other people,? said Wellington.

Doesn?t hurt, I suppose, that it?s Stephen Fry?s Wellington I?m seeing in my head.

Don’t know about Sephen Fry, but “I am that man” – the (hopeful) magician that is.

Zen Lessons

Some thoughts reading Herrigel, still mid Dr Austin. Nothing new, just recognisable significance. (Kingston on-line to the rescue.)

Basic stuff – Koans – learning documented Koans, learning documented answers to documented Koans, learning aproaches / concepts applicable to documented Koans, are all irrelevant; this is a meta-meta-meta-meta- … -meta-problem. (I did say this year’s word might be meta ?)

Why breathing ? Breathing is special – sub-conscious, natural min and max limits (physiological need reflex, physical lung capacity, generally subconscious (even deep sleeping) act, but normally conscious of actual (when “conscious”), and consciously do-able / controllable. More a matter of self-attention than consciousness per se. (What else is like breathing ? – thinking itself for sure, definitely not heartbeat, definitey not basic digestive tract / internal organ function reflexes, without specific training, walking ? falling off a log ? Not much really – pretty special case. What else in non-higher intelligent beings / life-forms.) But what about gut feel ?

Teacher / Pupil – not just (passively) enabling / permitting self-discovery, but leading (with implicit trust / respect) to way of discovery, and discovery iself. Leading a horse to water is not enough. Pupil must “submit” even if self-awareness is eventual goal. Explaining “concept”, or concept grasped in words is not even close. Contrary to “liberal” fashion. Preparation is major part of any task (see 90% below), see Pirsig’s ZMM.

Knowing the moment – chaos ? – predicting snow falling from laden leaf ? Letting go the drawn string is more a matter of understanding the balance of forces and controlling / permitting the equilibrium to occur. Like squeezing a trigger, ever more gently as the “tipping” point is reached.

Learning Paradox – “He who has to walk 100 miles should reckon 90 (miles) as half the journey”. 90% of efort is learning to “loose the arrow”, but still leaves 50% learning how to hit a target – with assurance (in your sleep). Learning (how to consciously execute) the knack / trick, is fraud, not the point ? (In a journey of 100 miles, the distance – 100 miles – is only half the journey – or, if you like, a journey is more than a distance.)