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this house is a bass drum

response to “never in step,” below


We are always drawn to ponder circumstances that differ from our present situation.  It is somehow fundamental, in this historical moment, to imagine other existences, to wonder how the world–or one’s own life–might have been different, or might someday be.  Sometimes the thought even reveals its meta-imaginary character:  it comes as the blatant realization of a new a priori, that what is was never meant to be, it only just happens to be.  Only upon reflection does it appear that the universe has a “plan” for any of us; this idea is imposed on our perception of “the future” only after it has had its historical genesis in the minds of humans, not the other way around.  Freed of this basic constraint upon imagination–namely, the tendency to fail to imagine the world differently–we arrive at what philosophers call arbitrariness, which is at the heart of all fiction in that it allows the mind to identify, reduce and manipulate basic components of everyday-reality-as-perceived-by-human-beings.  Civilization itself, in all of its constituent dimensions–material, infrastructural, political, relational, mythological–is free to be designed from the ground up (or the top down, or both, or in some other possible manner of architecture).  Once mind has the building blocks of the world at its creative disposal, imagination comes to be defined by its pregnancy with other, possible, worlds.  This is why, for example, so much of (what I’d call) the truly exciting philosophical thinking of the twentieth century occurred in the primarily “literary” genre of science fiction.

But I digress…

Continue reading ‘this house is a bass drum’


Blogging “1984”

I went to my roommate’s bookshelf the other day looking for some good fiction.  I walked away with George Orwell’s “1984.”

I’ll admit, it didn’t hit me right away; but by the time I got to the door, I was laughing so hard I had to hold on to the wall for support.  Fiction…1984…oh, Cosmo, you kill me!

At this point, I must offer a confession, and ask that the high priests of political philosophy and liberalism forgive me my transgression:  truth be told, I’ve never read 1984 cover-to-cover.  Continue reading ‘Blogging “1984”’


bumper stickers i would sport

A friend and I, oozing over Obama’s acceptance speech, mused that we might actually rock a bumper sticker that said, “Barack Obama Is From The Future.”  So I hopped on over to a design-your-own bumper sticker website and lifted the images of some of the designs I came up with.  Enjoy.

(that one’s an inside joke among Boonies.  bet you can get it too, though…)

…and perhaps my favorite…


“dudes, okay i am totally calling you out on this”

Well, Cronheim’s been putting me to shame on the posting.  Time to fix that.

Robin Hanson has an interesting post over at Overcoming Bias about how UFO beliefs sometimes demonstrate the inconsistency with which social-scientific reasoning is alternately employed and valued by individuals.  Robin’s insight is that the same people who declare themselves suspicious of the ability of the social sciences (in general) to describe human behavior will nonetheless use an essentially social-scientific argument to defend the belief that UFOs are not aliens.  He says we “can’t have it both ways.”

Check it out, and pay attention to the comments thread.  As this just happens to be my area of expertise, I’ll post later on how close Robin comes to being right.

On a note related to the social sciences, here’s a NYTimes piece calling for more attention (and funding) to be given to the social sciences as part of climate change research.  The argument is that the social sciences are necessary to understand how best to implement the kinds of changes in society that the physical sciences are telling us are necessary to combat global warming.


Philosophy + Ponytail + Leather Jacket = …?

“Street philosopher” Manuel Delanda wants to caution you against being “human, all too human:”