27 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2022
    1. For that matter, he admits, “It’s struck me that, actually, polemic very rarely changes people’s minds about anything.” He says so as a former columnist? “A recovering former columnist, yes.” He laughs. “It’s not just that polemic doesn’t change people’s minds. It says nothing about the texture of lived experience. People are complex and nuanced, they don’t live polemically.”

      Something to keep in mind about everyday life.

    1. Nigg said it might help me grasp what’s happening if we compare our rising attention problems to our rising obesity rates. Fifty years ago there was very little obesity, but today it is endemic in the western world. This is not because we suddenly became greedy or self-indulgent. He said: “Obesity is not a medical epidemic – it’s a social epidemic. We have bad food, for example, and so people are getting fat.” The way we live changed dramatically – our food supply changed, and we built cities that are hard to walk or cycle around, and those changes in our environment led to changes in our bodies. We gained mass, en masse. Something similar, he said, might be happening with the changes in our attention.

      Obesity is a social epidemic and not a medical one. It's been caused by dramatic shifts in our surroundings in the past century. Food is cheaper and more abundant. It's also been heavily processed and designed to be fattier, saltier, and higher in carbohydrates. There is less encouragement to physically move our own bodies whether by walking, bicycling, running, etc. Our cities have become more driver focused. Our lives have become much more sedentary.

    2. I went to Portland, Oregon, to interview Prof Joel Nigg, who is one of the leading experts in the world on children’s attention problems, and he told me we need to ask if we are now developing “an attentional pathogenic culture” – an environment in which sustained and deep focus is harder for all of us.

      : attentional pathogenic culture ; an environment in which sustained and deep focus is harder for all of us

  2. Dec 2021
    1. Historians are aware of all this. Yet the overwhelming majority stillconclude that even when European authors explicitly say they areborrowing ideas, concepts and arguments from indigenous thinkers,one should not take them seriously. It’s all just supposed to be somekind of misunderstanding, fabrication, or at best a naive projection ofpre-existing European ideas. American intellectuals, when theyappear in European accounts, are assumed to be mererepresentatives of some Western archetype of the ‘noble savage’ orsock-puppets, used as plausible alibis to an author who mightotherwise get into trouble for presenting subversive ideas (deism, forexample, or rational materialism, or unconventional views onmarriage).11

      Just as Western historians erase indigenous ideas as misunderstandings or fabrications or outright appropriation of those ideas as pre-existing ideas in European culture, is it possible that we do the same thing with orality and memory? Are medievalists seeing mnemotechniques of the time and not properly interpreting them by not seeing them in their original contexts and practices?

      The idea of talking rocks, as an example, is dismissed as lunacy, crazy, or some new-age hokum, but in reality it's at the far end of the spectrum. It's so unknowable for Western audiences that it's wholly dismissed rather than embraced, extended, and erased.

      What does the spectrum of potentially appropriated ideas look like? What causes their adoption or not, particularly in cases of otherwise cultural heterodoxy?

    1. In oral societies, personal memories fade and even-tually disappear, and yet knowledge somehow remains, as does language. Con-sequently, social memory arises outside, but not independently of, individual psychic systems; it may be regarded as the recursive outcome of communica-tions that are operatively reproduced inside social systems.14

      This idea of transmission of knowledge within oral societies is worth exploring. What is the media of transmission? How does it work in comparison with literate societies? What is the overlap in the two Venn Diagrams?

  3. Nov 2021
    1. from the river and lay down again in the rushes and kissed the grain-givingsoil.

      Odysseus staggered from the river and lay down again in the rushes and kissed the grain-giving soil.

      This reference to "grain-giving soil" reminds me of this quote:

      History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the ploughed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of king's bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly.<br/>—Les Merveilles de l'Instinct Chez les Insectes: Morceaux Choisis (The Wonders of Instinct in Insects: Selected Pieces) by Jean-Henri FabreJean-Henri Fabre (Librairie Ch. Delagrave (1913), page 242)

      ref: quote

      Culturally we often see people kneeling down and kissing the ground after long travels, but we miss the prior references and images and the underlying gratitude for why these things have become commonplace.

      "Grain-giving" = "life giving" here specifically. Compare this to modern audiences see the kissing of the ground more as a psychological "homecoming" action and the link to the grain is missing.

      It's possible that the phrase grain-giving was included for orality's sake to make the meter, but I would suggest that given the value of grain within the culture the poet would have figured out how to include this in any case.

      By my count "grain-giving" as a modifier variously to farmland, soil, earth, land, ground, and corn land appears eight times in the text. All these final words have similar meanings. I wonder if Lattimore used poetic license to change the translation of these final words or if they were all slightly different in the Greek, but kept the meter?

      This is an example of a phrase which may have been given an underlying common phrasing in daily life to highlight gratitude for the life giving qualities, but also served the bard's needs for maintaining meter. Perhaps comparing with other contemporaneous texts for this will reveal an answer?

  4. Oct 2021
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjZAdPX6ek0

      Osculatory targets or plaques were created on pages to give priests

      Most modern people don't touch or kiss their books this way and we're often taught not to touch or write in our texts. Digital screen culture is giving us a new tactile touching with our digital texts that we haven't had since the time of the manuscript.

  5. Sep 2021
    1. The state of slavery, among these wild barbarous people, as we esteem them, is much milder than in our colonies

      Given the word barbarous here, I wonder if, on the whole, cultures viewed from outside of one's own culture are more often seen for the worst of their traits rather than the best or even just the average traits?

      With limited experience and exposure, what qualifies one correspondent to stereotype an entire culture? Is the lack of alternate and likely better information reason enough for the viewing culture to completely condemn the external culture? (Assuredly not...)

    2. The Virginians needed labor, to grow corn for subsistence, to grow tobaccofor export. They had just figured out how to grow tobacco, and in 1617 theysent off the first cargo to England. Finding that, like all pleasurable drugstainted with moral disapproval, it brought a high price, the planters, despitetheir high religious talk, were not going to ask questions about something soprofitable.

      Told from this perspective and with the knowledge of the importance of the theory of First Effective Settlement, is it any wonder that America has grown up to be so heavily influenced by moral and mental depravity, over-influenced by capitalism and religion, ready to enslave others, and push vice and drugs? The founding Virginians are truly America in miniature.

      Cross reference: Theory of First Effective Settlement

      “Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the later social and cultural geography of the area, no matter how tiny the initial band of settlers may have been.” “Thus, in terms of lasting impact, the activities of a few hundred, or even a few score, initial colonizers can mean much more for the cultural geography of a place than the contributions of tens of thousands of new immigrants a few generations later.” — Wilbur Zelinsky, The Cultural Geography of the United States, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973, pp. 13–14.

    1. Summary:

      "What has time done to us?"

    2. . Three points may be proposed about task-orientation. First, there is a sense in which it is more humanly comprehensible than timed labour. The peasant or labourer appears to attend upon what is an observed necessity. Second, a community in which task-orientation is common appears to show least demarcation between "work" and "life". Social intercourse and labour are intermingled - the working-day lengthens or contracts according to the task - and there is no great sense of conflict between labour and "passing the time of day". Third, to men accustomed to labour timed by the clock, this attitude to labour appears to be wasteful and lacking in urgency.1
  6. Aug 2021
    1. Some manicules terminated abruptly at the wrist, while others emerged from sleeves of varying sophistication to reveal, in turn, something of the fashions of their time. Petrarch’s flowing sleeves, for instance, gave way to delicate, lace-trimmed cuffs in later centuries, and continuing the trend, modern-day manicules often show the sober cuff of a suit-wearing businessman. Cuffs and sleeves also provided convenient containers for notes on the pointed-to material, binding a note to its target text.

      Another reference to the clothing of the time attached to manicules. What might these tell us about fashion over time? What other older fashions existed within these?

  7. Jul 2021
    1. I would rather see the scientists and the healers and the artists depicted in a heroic light.

      Why are so many villains in comic books depicted as scientists? Has this harmed the American psyche? Encouraged an anti-science temperament?

      Observation sparked, in part, to episode of Young Sheldon, Season 1 about Sheldon's eating issues.

    1. What professionals actually do to earn the large incomes that pay for their nice things is a mystery. All those hours spent sitting at a computer screen—do they contribute something to society, to the family of an electrician or a home health aide (whose contributions are obvious)?

      A solid question.

      Perhaps less mysterious when gauged against the extreme financialization of our economy since the 1970's.

      Are these people primarily propping up our classist structures to the lack of all else?

      What could be done to re-regulate things back into some semblance of balance?

      How much of the financialization is strip mining the lower classes or even middle classes of their earnings and retirements in progressively more vicious economic downturns that get bailed out by the populace?

      Would allowing companies that are "too large to fail" help right the system and push more wealth back down to the lower classes?

    1. Thus we can roughly define what we mean by the art of reading as follows: the process whereby a mind, with nothing to operate on but the symbols of the readable matter, and with no help from outside, 0 elevates itself by the power of its own operations. The mind passes from understanding less to under­standing more. The skilled operations that cause this to hap­pen are the various acts that constitute the art of reading.

      I'm not sure I agree with this perspective of not necessarily asking for outside help.

      What if the author is at fault for not communicating properly or leaving things too obscure? Is this the exception of which he speaks?

      What if the author isn't properly contextualizing all the necessary information to the reader? This can be a particular problem when writing history across large spans of both time and culture or even language.

    1. The contemporary email newsletter is not a novel form; often it amounts to a new delivery system for the same sorts of content — essays, explainers, Q&As, news roundups, advice, and lists — that have long been staples of online media. (Subscribe to enough newsletters and sort them the right way, and it’s possible to re-create something like an RSS-feed reader.)

      Email delivery apparently isn't much different than RSS. What sorts of functionality do RSS readers provide over email in terms of search, filtering, and presentation? Surely RSS is more powerful at slicing and dicing one's reader data.

      How do all these different forms of content fit into the greater set of genres in Western culture?

    1. When we devalue the full range of everyday cognition, we offer limited educational opportunities and fail to make fresh and meaningful instructional connections among disparate kinds of skill and knowledge. If we think that whole categories of people—identified by class or occupation—are not that bright, then we reinforce social separations and cripple our ability to talk across cultural divides.
  8. Jun 2021
    1. If so many people who say they have committed their life to Christ live a life that is in many areas so antithetical to the ways of Christ, what are we to make of that?

      Does Christianity still have a space in modern life if it can't be effective in the simplest ways?

      Is it christianity+capitalism and conspicuous consumption that doesn't work?

      What is causing this institutional failure?

    2. One of the more incisive comments about the gap we often see between faith and works sticks with me today: that for too many people of the Christian faith, Jesus is a “hood ornament.”

      Jesus is a "hood ornament."

      searing...

    3. I have heard from pastors in different parts of America who describe a “generational catastrophe” that is unfolding because of how disillusioned young people, including many young Christians, are by what they have seen.

      Is it possible that this religion has been forcing itself on it's youth and thus chasing them away, thereby eroding support?

      When will this "apocalypse" happen? What will it look like? What will be the cultural and political fall out look like?

  9. Oct 2020
    1. Perspectives:An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology2nd Edition The first peer-reviewed open access textbook for cultural anthropology courses. Produced by the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges and available free of charge for use in any setting.
    1. In 1965, he published the highly influential work Theories of Primitive Religion, arguing against the existing theories of what at the time were called "primitive" religious practices. Arguing along the lines of his theoretical work of the 1950s, he claimed that anthropologists rarely succeeded in entering the minds of the people they studied, and so ascribed to them motivations which more closely matched themselves and their own culture, not the one they were studying. He also argued that believers and non-believers approached the study of religion in vastly different ways, with non-believers being quicker to come up with biological, sociological, or psychological theories to explain religion as an illusion, and believers being more likely to come up with theories explaining religion as a method of conceptualizing and relating to reality.
  10. Jun 2018
    1. This is due to a natural human reaction to “Google” someone before we meet them for the first time. Before we show up to teach a class, take a class, interview for a job, go on a date…we’ve been reviewed online. Other people use the trail of breadcrumbs that we’ve left behind to make judgements about us. The question/challenge is that this trail of breadcrumbs is usually incomplete, and locked up in various silos. You may have bits of your identity in Facebook or Twitter, while you have other parts locked up in Instagram, Snapchat, or LinkedIn. What do these incomplete pieces say about you? Furthermore, are they getting the entire picture of you when they uncover certain details? Can they look back to see what else you’re interested in? Can they see how you think all of these interests fit together…or they seeing the tail end of a feverish bout of sharing cat pics?

      I can't help but think that doing this is a form of cultural anthropology being practiced contemporaneously.

      Which is more likely: someone a 100 years from now delving into my life via my personal website that aggregated everything or scholars attempting to piece it all back together from hundreds of other sites? Even with advanced AI techniques, I think the former is far more likely.

      Of course I also think about what @Undine is posting about cats on Twitter or perhaps following #marginaliamonday and cats, and they're at least taking things to a whole new level of scholarship.


      [also on boffosocko.com]

  11. Sep 2015
    1. historical political boundaries of the native Americans

      We view the world in these simplified 2D representations of clearcut political entities. Fredrik Barth and Benedict Anderson have said quite a few important things about these issues of maps and boundaries.