Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Every so often I would find myself arguing with my mother about something or someone that annoyed me, only to realize that the only reason we were yelling at each other was that she couldn't imagine an educated person having the opinions I was ascribing to the people who were pissing me off. Talking to a cousin after my mother's death, a woman from my mother's side of the family who's both older than I am and more familiar with the history, I referred to her late aunt as 'a communist from a good family.' Cindy laughed a laugh of recognition I had not expected.

My mother would be disgusted by the current taste in intellectual life for engineering. The vulgarity mirrors the vulgarity of the rest of the country and adds to it the hypocrisy of pretense (vulgarity bothers me less and less as I get older.)

More than one person has made the comment that in order to allow even the slightest continuity in human experience, every sensation even or especially the new or anomalous must be 'recognized' or categorized in relation to what we already know and to patterns which we already accept. This defines and problematizes all perception and communication, and I doubt science will ever have an answer. Certainly the illusion of a 'science' of language or politics helps nothing. My experience with cognitive dissonance in the tastes and ideas of Brian Leiter and my headaches reading mainstream moderates like Josh Marshall and Laura Rozen...  What does it mean to say that "Iran is a threat to US interests"? I really have no fucking idea, unless you take for granted things I refuse to.

And as per the NYRB letters section this week, those involved in the philosophy of mind are bogged down by the same problems: the inability to see and accept a solution in ongoing dualism. A mind as opposed to a computer processes information in two ways, as continuation of a process of conditioned response and as sense data that can be responded to by means of logic. These two means of organizing data are in conflict, and whichever wins the fight in any given case, the struggle leaves a mark. Is the mind a computer? Give me an indecisive computer, a neurotic computer, and I'll say yes.

And Brian Leiter says he has no close friends in english departments.
Go back to high school kids. And try growing up this time.

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