March 11, 2009

What you repeatedly do

Doing a big clean ahead of house guests arriving, listening to two old Mark Pesce talks on the same topic, around the same time [Fall 2002, see links at the end]. He mentions Wolfram's A New Kind of Science [whole book online here] and gives the executive summary as there are no formulas for some processes, but rather only processes that need to be followed from start to end, giving the example of a rose.

The same thing is the basis of wisdom vs. knowledge. Knowledge, as facts, can be downloaded / learned at high speed. For many things it's possible to jump over the process directly to the outcome, which enables people with almost no technological know-how, like myself, to function in a society surrounded by engineering marvels that are essentially black magic boxes. As a user, the process is unimportant and more or less invisible.

So back to Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do, Excellence is therefore not an act but a habit."

The first talk, Memes to an End, is slightly more scholarly, while the second, Bios and Logos, is the same material through a psychedelic lens, and several references to Terence McKenna, with my angle reminding me of this idea from somewhere in his work: most people take 40 years or so to see through the shit, if they ever do, that is culture, and now more people are living longer than ever. I don't really believe the supposed implications of this, as I think the mediated reality is so pervasive and deep that the cognitive dissonance of a mass awakening in middle age would be a break down of society, one that may well be happening, but expressed as alienation and substance / behavioral abuse rather than real recognition and communion. At 40 yrs old there's too much skin in the game to throw it all up for something authentic and better. Absurd, until you look around at what people do day after day after day.

The Pesce talks:
Memes to an End, via Future Hi
Bios and Logos from 2002 [text form here]

Slightly related post, on health:
The process not the outcome

cone shell via wikidepia

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