24 April 2011

Sureal and argumentative

People wear a worn look, perhaps it's more than skin deep. "Life is hard", it says. They walk slowly, and it's a tired walk. They fight, in slow motion, to be in this painfully small space. The space here is full, culture squirming to break through the concrete, and yet, mostly, it's just a show, crying for its own emptiness. In the East Village, I came across this...

"Time and space died yesterday."

Last night I met, for the first time in my life, a convicted advocate of pure-capitalism. I knew such people existed; but it was the first time I actually spoke to one. Like an exotic fish, I gaped at the Swedish investment banker. Sadly, we had only just started our discussion before he had to leave. I'm hoping to finally understand this view of the world, what drives such believe? I want to delve under the rhetoric and see what is the implicit rationale he holds. I feel I may need to bolster my collection factoids: we did briefly talk of immigration in Sweden, where I got the impression his view is a stereotype that sketched in fears that Muslims are aggressively evangelical, that they want all women to wear the Burka, and have no interest in anything Swedish, except taking advantage of the social security system - a position I expressed my disbelief for. Fundamentally, his belief seemed to be that economic laws corrupt society and lead it to despotism. And there was me thinking that such laws are a mechanism by which we escaped oligarchy... ahh, some exciting conversations await the next time we meet!

Work-wise, I've been feeling rather incompetent, slow, struggling in slow motion to absurd the sea of acronyms and swamps of endless software gunk. Luckily my manager and colleagues, like a break in the clouds and a fresh breeze, shed a humble light on my predicament, helping me realise that it's normal to be stuck in a swamp, but if I keep clambering through, I'll get to dryer land. Maybe I'll even have the chance to walk a dream of democratic, rationaale argument...

Oh yeah, I've been thinking that "Rationaale", with emphasis roughly "rationAAArle", might be a fun word for my twisted take on rational and scientific: it is being open minded, it is the antithesis of dogma, it is the unification of differing positions by acceptance heterogeneity. For instance, it accepts emotional arguments as emotional arguments. It accepts cultural arguments in light of their cultural momentum. It is the gentle heart of science. It accepts all things by accepting them in their context. It is accepting that all things have context, and that the context needs to be made explicit in order to form a constructive collective reality.

You might have noticed that I'm also using a twisted definition of argument: for me an argument is just a statement of an idea or position; typically towards or against some other statement.

Maybe it's worth being a little concrete: our capitalist is arguing from some beliefs. A rationaale for this position is that he has a model that everyone knows everything perfectly, and that if power congregates, then it will, by some virtue of his image of pure-capitalism, be broken back into something else, saved by economic demand. This is the context, and now we can argue about realisation of this context, or lack of, within the world we see around us.

I guess I think that, fundamentally, we nearly all agree, but on top of this agreement lie layers of confused imaginations. These disconnected intellectual backdrops draw us apart and scare us from each other.

Oh yeah, I spent some time this week writing about argument mapping - perhaps
it shows :)

14 April 2011

of homes and trycicles of the NYPD

The days pass and pass... I returned from Edinburgh and Oxford on monday to a different New York, to heat, to streets covered in flowers and plants, to people dressed lightly, to the flowers finally breaking out among the trees that were previously just grey skeletons haunting the pavement.

It was strange to be back in Edinburgh; the roots I used to feel are no longer there. Maybe it was just lacking my own flat, my own room, or maybe it was not staying in the heartland of my old haunts. I was awed by the emptiness, by Edinburgh's greenery, and by the leisurely nature of its cafe culture.

New York coffee places are largely pumping affairs: eat and begone!

On other matters, worky projects here are starting to properly catch my curiosity, and I made last night to what people here seem to call a "minimal wave" club: an electronic vision of the darkest 80s, stripped bare, and stuffed with groove; the club was preceded by live music aptly called Dark folk from Gent.

Oh yeah, here's a fun thing about modern new york: the NYPD drive tricycles... still makes smile as I get my morning coffee.