The Selfish Idealist

The Selfish Idealist

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If you do things for yourself, do you have to be destructive towards the world? Life can be made fairly good both for you and for the rest of us.
Maybe you'll not only help out, but even give everybody a good laugh from time to time.


I create my own world when I can...and I am usually leaning heavily on a local café owner. Here at John Colletts plass, Oslo.

Squeezing local business

OsloPosted by Erik Gøthesen 20 Mar, 2019 23:42



Olav Thon's money 1 - Grünerløkka's nice sides 0.

This shop has to move because businessman Olav Thon, who owns more or less half the town, raises the rent to a level local shops cannot pay.

They also help people in trouble by giving them work in the shop. It is run by an ideal organisation working with drug addicts.



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A visual world

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 06 Feb, 2019 14:11

How do we perceive and send visual messages?

The following is partly written with a book about visual means in graphic designs as a source.

- as a representation - understood as a picture of something familiar from our surroundings or experience or both - concrete pictures of something.

- more or less "abstract" - everything from a drawing of a man to the primary forms (circle, line etc ) and everything inbetween.

- symbolic, the world of symbols

Edvard og May-Britt Moser, who got the Nobel prize in medicine in 2014, found brain cells whose function it was to orientate us in our surroundings. What those cells do is to make a kind of map over the place we are, based on certain concrete points, kind of a simple trigonometry, if I got it right, which makes us recognise whatever is around, also as some kind of abstraction. A map is also a kind of abstraction. We get a perception of the place we are, we can move around and get there.

And what about the computer screen? If we intuitively perceive it as reality, not representation, we may get confused. Some think very simply on this point and do not easily or readily distinguish the two things.

I am used to getting carried away by a film very much, I am there, because the story is exciting, of course, but also because the pictures gives me the feeling of being all the places that the film shows us. We are so used to the film medium and the film language that we don't have to think to do this. We can normally leave the cinema or start looking somewhere else than the film screen and immediately discuss what we have seen without very much confusion.

The problem with the computer is that it is not just a film screen, it is not just a typewriter, it is not just a calculator or a newspaper or a book - it's all these things and more, functioning not only as a moveable film, which it also does, but interactivity even exists, meaning I can do things with some of it, change it.

And it can happen that what used to be fixed, stable, a text, suddenly changes, because the man or woman in the other end does something with the website.

And if this wasn't enough, automatic functions make any of this happen whenever the maker of the little thing we watch want it to happen, whether it is a question of a particular time of the day, a particular day, whenever the program is programmed to do it, or as a response to something you do.

Automatism.

And all this is, that is my claim, organised in an overall concept of visuality.

And it is also, as I have been saying, moving and moveable in several different ways.

All the old media are more stable, things on paper the most, of course, and the further you go back the simpler the layout, and TV...although it is definitely moving, mostly one-way, from them to us. Text-TV, does that still exist? And even in an action film, there is in a way less commotion than on a computer screen.

How do I see - and remember - the world around me? How do I orient myself? I think there is more than one answer to that question, but we can still generalize a little.

I have a notion of three physical dimensions, which means depth, the location of me in connection to the surroundings, the surroundings related to me.

The other senses are also there, of course.

Normally my picture of what's around me is fairly stable, especially if I'm in a room, and I am usually inside, in a familiar place, when I work. I know where things are, basically, and they don't move very much unless I move them. Things may occasionally fall down from a shelf, but that's about it. If something happens I notice. The impression can be messy or tidy, and confusion of course exists, where are the bloody keys, but still I know more or less what's around me. (If I work in a café there are more people and more noise, but that's a matter of habit...)

I also have a notion of time, but if I sit quietly in a chair reading, the concrete time will perhaps be less interesting. I may experience things in the text, also relating to time.

A printed text on a piece of paper is a stable thing from a visual point of view, and the things I deal with, what I actually read, are not always very interesting if you try to see it from a visual viewpoint, understand it with a visual understanding etc.

Books full of pictures are different, but very often the pictures and the text are chosen and put together to make a whole, to fit together aesthetically or according to subject or both. The picture, the place your eyes live while you read, doesn't change much as they move across a text, the content does.

It is then also a physically stable world. As I say, the variation goes on in the pictures, in the text. If they are good, there is always something new to find there, as the cliché goes, sometimes endlessly, food for thought of a lifetime.

It is a common thing to listen to music which you haven't heard for a long time, to find music from your childhood etc. One thing is the change in fashion and style, if you consider this isolated, but the mood and what you considered to be the content back then can be interesting to think about in another life, your life of today.

I rarely do it, but the same thing is of course possible with books and films.

Physically nothing happens with your book. It is originally a world of handicraft. Technically it is not an interesting world. The world of computers is an engineering world.

The picture of Internet can be expected to change anytime, at least this is a feeling that is hard to avoid.

There are also so many elements, probably billions of pictures, websites and parts of websites, so getting an overview even of what you do costs you energy, losing it is easy.

The picture changes, but not like a movie changes, unless you watch a movie on the screen, the whole thing moves more in sudden moves, or at least more in stages than a film traditionally does.

The layout in a physical newspaper is a little more messy than a book normally is, but we're used to that, and it doesn't move either. Ads and editorial content were made different on purpose. I should try to analyse the whole thing better, because there are certainly trends on the Internet as well, which directs the development in this or that direction. But there are anyway many more types of information present, and forms of layout and presentation, than in any printed or broadcasted medium.

The Internet also has the problem of infinite moveability, meaning you can go on clicking into new things endlessly. This is an addictive element for me, and annoying, but I am not sure that this is the case for everyone.

If you analyse the whole thing as art, which I have tried to do elsewhere, here on the blog, it is normal to find infinity in places in I think any piece of art, music etc.

If you're an engineering talent or have other, basically practical talents or ways of thinking, maybe this is unproblematic or even a source of creativity.

I don't really know, but I see discussions about addiction that to me seem one-sided, because if you are addicted to something, it can sometimes be utilised both creatively and even professionally, or destructively.

I believe it depends on many things, but with uncontrolled or unreflected attitudes or behaviour you take chances. If you don't know what you do, quite simply.

This property, the addiction bit is also utilised or exploited, however you see it, I guess to the full in computer games, but I think you can find this technique used many other places, at least things work like that in practice. Just looking into a newspaper can be a problem because there are so many articles. Getting an overview over the morning newspaper used to be easier.

This endlessness also has in it the possibility of domination over other means of expression, because it is massive, repetitive and almost physical in itself.

Memory, our memory, is filled from the screen with impressions which can easily be interpreted as impressions from the real world, if you are not conscious enough about where you actually are. Confusion easily comes next, because what you see on a screen is actually not real in the sense that one easily thinks.

Some actually say that what you can see is more real, more direct, than other ways of connecting to the world, the most basic way to see things. What you see is what you get.

This is definitely an illusion if you believe that this is the only way to see the world. You can probably build philosophy around it, but you must know that there are other ways.

Many subjects, maybe all, may function as your philosophy on a certain level. A biologist will easily see phenomenons and things happening in the world through biology- or at least natural science-goggles, a musician may see the world as music or at least art, a carpenter has more practical views on the world. To move from one such world to another can be demanding.

Humans as a study object, an object for research, forms maybe the biggest problem in understanding the world, because we have everything - we are chemistry, biology, art, body, spirit, matter, nature, culture, practice, theory. We are and we become almost everything. To say unambiguously what a human is must be more or less impossible. We exist in many professional worlds.

In principle, everything can be made into art, and a lot of things can be seen through the biologist's glasses, but what we see and talk about, the different issues and subjects, will never be exhausted, never finished, the thinking will always go on, also if we see all this as a common project. The neighbour may always have something new to say to you.

The world lets itself mould into all kinds of thinking, and if you see it isolated, in valid ways. You could even claim that everyone has a point of some kind, is right in something.

Everything is food, or taste, everything is philosophy (well, this is a special case, but still...) everything is architecture, chemistry. Everything in life is science. Everything is practical actions. Money.

Fine, it is possible to see the world through your professional or personal glasses, but don't put your views at work to a too great extent, especially not the last two points of view, which I feel is crushing established knowledge right now. They are also necessary, but not exhausting, not covering everything and ruling out everything else.

Be careful.

And no matter how good you are in understanding the world - especially if you are actually good at it and have a lot to say - remember that your neighbour may have a view which also have validity and relevance, which you may not know, you may not understand, or which doesn't fit into your view on the world. It depends, both what we are talking about - our very lives may be vastly different and with necessary priorities that you don't know about - and of course how we see things matter.

You carry always only one aspect or a choice of aspects with you into a personal philosophy, no matter how much you say or how broad your views are.

No one can think as everyone.

On the Internet, and in real life.

###

After having written a long series of articles with the intention of understanding and more or less isolating the subject of the Internet and the computer world in my mind, I can see that they may work as and feel like a rejection of the whole thing.

Even if I have been thoroughly annoyed by the computers, this is not the intention - I just want to use it for my purposes, so that it doesn't use me for its own purposes. Or even more relevant, it seems, so that others don't do it.



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Careful

CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 29 Jan, 2019 08:17

Sorry, Don, you don't get it.

You're not a business tycoon anymore.

You're a politician.

What did you say the other day? You were going to smash Turkey's economy if they didn't...do something.

I don't think that's a fair way to behave when you deal with money either.

But now you'r dealing with us.

I don't want our block smashed.

I don't want anyone's block smashed.

This - is not your playground.

You're not in the school yard anymore. I don't know if you were bullied, or if you bullied someone, or if your mom kept you down.

I don't know what's your problem.

We all have problems.

But in your position...I would go to the gym, to a concert, a ball game.

What I was taught when it came to work, was, basically, you do your job -independently, absolutely, when that's what it takes, but you do it, not too much on behalf of yourself or depending on your own hangups or whims.

You may have personal engagement, idealism too, but you consider - whether your personal things, thoughts, whatever - are usable, good enough reason to do this or that thing, at work.

Otherwise, and mostly, you leave your personal hangups at home. Go to a ball game. Do something else with it.

Don't take it out on us.

You have a position, you don't belong entirely to yourself.



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Infinity and other sides of the Internet

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 24 Jan, 2019 17:09

It is a normal fact that a form of art contains infinity in one or several ways. I don't know if musicologists or literature experts discuss whereand how this happens in a piece of music or book, but everyone must have experienced the greatness in art or music, or its ability to give new thoughts over time.

I'm as usual talking about any genre.

The fact that you can work on a piece of music for a year or more not only to rehearse it properly, technically, if it is possible to separate, but to know it good enough, all the way through, to give it to others in a sensible fashion - this tells me that what I have under my hands is a durable and many-sided object.

You can, if you are the right type of professional, keep going not just a year, but practically your whole life, on and off, with one project, a genre, or maybe one composer. This seems a little single-minded, maybe, to me, but every artist - and amateurs are often wonderful artists - everyone has things that never cease to fascinate.

Art usually doesn't stop, as I say, you can see it in new ways, make new versions of music, or of course write new music and make new art.

Nature experiences can work the same way, if you need another reference. Sports, all kinds of hobbies, also sex, those can be creative fields...

Any medium, I think, every man-made object, probably, can be said to contain a form of overview, a view on the world, a philosophy, in addition to the feeling of watching or listening. It may vary over time, develop, and of course what's in it depends on who made the thing.

You need to be somewhere, philosophically, to create something. Some know a lot about it for themselves, some don't, but its still there.

The thought in it will be an organising element in what you listen to, watch, participate in.

For the artist, it is maybe not common to tell to everyone everyside of what you do, (that would maybe be impossible too) you create something, you publish or play, and discussions will come afterwards, if they come.

You can say, today it is more and more necessary to say something about what you do, to present it properly, because every culture in the world can potentially reach your desk or your city, and as an art audience we may often need to be guided a little to understand what's actually in front of you. It can be problematic if the music or whatever doesn't strike you as understandable, easier sometimes with an introduction.

In Norway it has been pretty common to take in art directly, spontaneously, by regular exhibition goers, and it has probably even been claimed as a rightto have it this way.

Well.

Much can be said for and against this, I guess, but I find it sensible to have both ways of thinking in operation among us, the knowledgeable one and the almost inexperienced or just almost interested. But less passion gives you less right to say something in the discussion, I think.

The Internet can be said to contain representations or reproductions of all art forms, in the form of pictures, film, sound. The medium itself, the gadget that it is, has its own ways of functioning which partly forms what comes out of it and what can come out.

New genres has also emerged which are made for the computer, meaning that we have completely new art forms, both in form and content.

There are connections between a picture and the eye on one side, and the rest of the body, movement and maybe other functions on the other, reactions that does not necessarily go via the conscious thought neither in philosophical nor everyday language...but for instance through bodily imitation and spontaneous movements. Some football fans in front of the TV jump and yell, which is both visible and audible, and there is an obvious connection between the body and the picture on one side, and words and the intellect on the other (and of course numbers, but they interest me less).

Similar things will go on in your head, it is affected by whatever purpose you use it for.

Learning through reading traditionally goes via the head, you take in words as an expression of a thought. Are you an apt reader, this can also happen quickly and pretty much spontaneously, it depends on how familiar the style and content is for you, and how complicated the content is to understand, also for you.

Some who did not grow up in an intellectual environment see words mainly as practical tools, as a means to tell someone what to do in a workplace, for instance.

This is a very important difference from the academic world, especially if this fact is hidden, not told, because underneath may lie a completely different understanding of the world.

Of course, you can always address someone, and you don't necessarily have to consider which way other people conceive or understand what you say, but as I said, if these things are concealed because of shyness, for instance, you may end up with a lot of misunderstandings. It may actually be a good idea to try to understand enough of someone's way of thinking to get your points across, so you don't speak to the wrong end of the creature. We are all different, and today differences actually meet.

Many feel bad about their lack of knowledge, real or experienced, and won't show it to you unless they have to. There is nothing wrong with their inborn intelligence, but say you have been treated like a stupid one all your life, especially in your upbringing, and also lived in an environment that has no direct contact with science, you may end up actually not knowing basic things. Stupidity exists in all of us, and a story like this is actually outrageous from a teacher's point of view. Many have such experiences, and it is not enough to submit to their way of thinking, because it may be problematic or actually wrong, but someone has to meet them and address their problems in order to solve them.

I don't believe stupidity has to stay stupid, it can be cured, basically by trusting the other person's intelligence. Not doing so is devastating for the student, it is therecipe, I think, to destroy someone's learning abilities. But you may have to stretch, and it is an advantage to have little pride, as a teacher.

You have to listen honestly to what he or she says but correct whatever is wrong, as you see it, without killing the guy or the girl, she or he may have been killed many times by others. Be careful.

In my experience, which does not have to be the only way, the presence of an honest and not mocking or condescending person is what you need. It can be a magic moment for a teacher. After all, shouldn't we invite the "stupid" questions? It is old knowledge for anyone who is a learner that you get the really interesting answers when you have the courage to do so yourself. The only difference here is that you may get questions which doesn't quite belong inside your professional or just simply "normal" way of thinking.

You still have to relate, but the person you talk to also have to accept the fact that some things are irrelevant. Some things are less interesting or not important, but not necessarily wrong.

All knowledge belongs in a system, and what is often wrong is that you emphasize a fact or a question too much, or you place it in the wrong position in the system.

For instance, to take something that I doubt that teachers in any level spend much time in discussing, we cannot knowthat there are no living creatures elsewhere in the universe, but it has actually never been shown traces of them, so if you hang yourself up on this, you may well miss most of science in general or the way that it works, just because no one wants to answer this question properly. Sometimes questions hang around all the way from childhood, and you are in real need of having them answered even if you are 37 and "should have" found out by now.

Everyone needsto define borders around their world.

If you get your stupid question answered you may end up with sort of an overview, and the feeling that someone actually listensto you, which can often be theproblem

###

In film, for instance, it is possible to tell more of a story in less time, compared to a normal novel, for instance. This is simply put, and there are probably experiments with forms that contradict it, but it is true as a basic fact.

Pictures can contain much information, and they are often taken in more directly and unconscious than a text, unless you have developed a conscious relation with the visual world, professionally or in other ways, or you read...hm, really fast.

The interactivity in the machine also gives frames for "practical" actions, and not only writing, even if that is one of them, of course. The "machine side" of writing has developed a lot, you can "cut", "glue", push it around and a lot more, which all of them used to be practical actions involving more muscles....

All these bodily, but simple actions also goes directly into the world of reading and writing, and could easily create a practical universe of something that used to be a universe of thought.

To write an article on a computer is mentally something else than doing it on paper, even if it resembles a typing machine. But the whole thing affects your way of thinking, editing didn't use to be done in a practical fashion, for instance, not in my head, unless you sorted parts of interviews after subject discussed, in a research project, for instance. Actually this resembles that work a little. These days I often skip the overview and go straight into editing, as if you were digging a ditch or cleaning up a room.

To what extent this is the case probably depends on what type you are, on many levels, but the technology invites us to forget some of the intellectual overview and replace it with a sort of step-by-step way of thinking.

This probably has to do also with the way today's Internet and computer world is designed. I believe you can do practically anything with this technology in terms of organizing the information, cultural codes, habits and connotations, and not just relating to content. That's obvious, but also to ways of doing the whole thing. This is an unchecked claim, but I feel that the medium interested user easily makes him- or herself into a slave of technology, much helped by the isolated environments of developers and programmers.

We feel the technology to be more of a cage than it has to be because we don't know it properly, but the solutions also make it into a cage because the IT world are lousy communicators with non-IT-thinkers, they live in their own world and either expect us to understand fully what they are doing, or laugh at us.

At worst, of course. I am not saying all IT people are malevolent, but the thing itself explodes in our face.

All the practical or engineering abstractions which come to my eye easily take up space from the thoughts that were there from before, the thoughts that you actually depend on to do your work.

If you consider the screen as a picture, and the information you find is organised after visual logics, and you spend hour every day to absorb information through it, it may affect your way of thinking, both about or with words and pictures. I haven't tried to analyse all the different ways this may happen, but for an academic on any level it sure is a different world that books, which used to be the most common place to spend your days or nights.

Your conscience is also affected by the fact that you do things all the time in front of a screen, or believe you do, at least, or pretend. I find it difficult to think in front of he computer. A book gave me more possibilities.

Or, maybe it is right to say that the screen invites you to practicalthinking, which I guess must be considered a separate thing. I have no idea whether this is scientifically explored or not, but I would guess so. Anthropology?

The book used to invite me, at least, to build theory, and ok, I'm not a professional academic, but I always talked to them and relate to their world as much as I can because I enjoy it.

How things areand how to do itis an important partition probably anywhere, from everyday life to politics. Many discussions end in the dustbin or on a real battlefield because those two things are not kept apart, thought through or checked properly. Some people are almost only practical, which means that they havea view on the world, but may very rarely expose it to the public or even think about it themselves, maybe because they are shy about it, too little self conscience, and because they feel that certain things are just like that, inevitable, nothing you discuss, everybody knows this.

They are blind for other world views than their own and take things for granted vwhich I'm not sure I would agree on. The peculiar thing is that the people who talk to them or comment are equally blind and take for granted that everyone has the basic academic knowledge which they have.

This is absolutely no attempt to say that the unschooled is always right, I regularly agree more with the others, but you have to start the discussion and it does not work without respect, which can be difficult.

This last thing is a surprise to me, that well educated people don't know how the badly educated think, because you would expect science-minded people to be investigative enough to discover those differences, but there we are... I'm not saying that the ones at the bottom are necessarily right, on the contrary, but you have to listen because this is democracy and they claim their right to say things.

That in itself...I have to stop, but it has notbeen easy to take them seriously, and to listen you have had to filter out a lotof noise, misunderstandings and other things.

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You can of course say that the visual and practical differences between screen and paper are not absolute, they are tendencies, etc, in the sense that both media can be drawn in different directions. A scientific article published on the internet resembles more a booklet or a stack of paper, and an advertisement section in an "old-fashioned" newspaper may be closer to what goes on on the Internet.

That is the side of visual means when your webpage keeps still, of course the movement and interactivity comes on top. But the possibilities in the whole thing seem to be many - it's up to our choice what we use it for.

I saw a computer animated film, pretty early in this "history of digitalisation", which was very poetic, old-fashioned-looking, like it had been drawn.

The technique makes it necessary to do many repeated actions. I think I saw somewhere news about a research project looking into what goes on, motorically, perhaps, or sensorically, in the few centimeters between your brain and your machine, but I'm not sure. Sounds kind of fun.

In computer games this is obvious. The "technical", practical, engineering creativity may then contain the uendelighet. How?

And what is the problem for a practical mind and a theoretically inclined?

I have friends who ponder on practical problems for years and then come up with really nice solutions, and I used to be the type that was constantly on a sociological study trip, or any subject. for that matter, if it interested me.

With two maybe different approaches to life, you probably also have a different approach to the computer world, although the world I grew up with was - in a way - academic, at least both practical and theoretical minds had to submit to academic facts. During the years that I grew up there was a big discussion about this, one position being that the practical ones were discriminated. A lot came out of that, but today I don't quite know how things are in school.

You may say that on the screen technique and visuality easily becomes the boss, while on paper they are more subordinated other parts of our world. A writer, I think the Italian playwright and writer Giovanni Guareschi, in one of his books, commented on the difference between a smith's work and a car mechanic's, in the same way.

In the first case man is boss, in the second the iron.

It is, as probably most parts of Truth, not 100% true, but it gives us a clue of something. In both cases the important thing, as I see it, is not to give up all control over technology, but try to conquer it as much as you need, in order to use it for your own purposes.





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Music from our own country

MusicPosted by Erik Gøthesen 03 Jan, 2019 12:59
The «national» side of this music (I am thinking of Grieg, Svendsen, Halvorsen) was of course thoroughly exaggerated during the war, and it is peculiar that I think still both Nazis and patriots embrace it, which perhaps makes a point for the existence of absolute music, freed from the history it is made and played in.

The point is anyway that our view on it is far too narrow, and as I have been trying to say for some time. It's time also to dig out from the library shelves the scores of all the other brilliant composers and start considering what we have. Some things are happening both in the field og music and in art. Nationalism is ok, in a sense, as long as you don’t exaggerate it, it just gives you a feeling of coming from somewhere and funfacts to exchange and later mix with people from other cultures. I am not afraid of borders as long as there are doors to open and a willingness to communicate. A proper amount of self-esteem is needed in order to really meet others, and it is also a necessary means to find out what’s next, where are we all going now.



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Carl Nielsen, Grieg and folk music

MusicPosted by Erik Gøthesen 03 Jan, 2019 11:55
One important side of classical music which follows the whole tradition until the 20th century and longer, is the connection to folk music. The melodies and the rhythmical sides of folk music have gone into the «educated» tradition, and many composed melodies, simple or complicated, has been developed from here.

Carl Nielsen is one composer I feel is frequently performed too dry, except for a few pieces. He is harmonically interesting, of course, but not only that, he is also a guy from the countryside, one who sets the landscape to music, he is also a national romantic. One should of course not abandon the «academic» sides of Nielsen, on the contrary, but the roots of folk music and indeed the sound of Nielsen, his life in Denmark, the country itself, is so much present, not only in the simple melodies, they go on long into the more complicated passages. One should not lose the feeling of walking on the ground, actually Danish ground, a point that is hard to miss for a Norwegian who are, like most others, steeped in the clichés of how to play Grieg.

He, and the rest of our national romantics, could do with some new ideas to describe their music, other than inspiration and description of mountains on the west coast, like any tourist is totally fascinated by. Well, the mountains are fabulous, and so is Grieg, but when you live a lifetime in the closeness of mountains you do other things too than just admire them, even if that is also part of life.

I mean, Grieg’s nature idiom contains stories about other things (yey) and his music also goes other places than Hurrungane - also, yes, it also goes to those mountains, but what happens there? is also the question.

Sigurd Slåttebrekk put completely new colours into Grieg with his «authentic interpretation» project some years ago, and I’ve heard others do really interesting things. I am not quite updated, but I feel that the idea of going to folk roots maybe especially for melody and sound could be a good one for more composers than Nielsen - but that we up here, in Norway, quite simply, as is pretty common - has the opposite position and need the opposite thing. The nature kids need to think, differently, move out of the idea of nature for a little while, and the Danes need to go to their grass roots, maybe, to make contact with their own ground, or whatever Nielsen is into.

I also read once a quote from him saying something like «if a man pushed his back towards an iceberg...» - in discussing some of his own music, I think. Well, there are no concrete icebergs where we live, but the idea of North is and was of course always a thing in the South, and there are and were mental and artistic icebergs to be experienced. The history of Denmark and Norway is intertwined in many ways , and we should never stop listening to each other and give each other new ideas.



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A Borderline Case

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 27 Nov, 2018 00:47

How do we create borders for our understanding of the world around us?

How do we, simply, create the understanding, the concepts with which we grasp things? In what different ways do we do it? How big are these differences between us?

Big philosophical questions, which can't be thoroughly treated in a blogpost.

But I am looking for some differences which are especially visible and important today.

I think mainly about the computer revolution, but in the discussion about alternative realities these are also relevant issues.

How do people draw lines around phenomena that hit them, from private or other sources? How do I do it myself?

Many have a pretty unconscious relation to how they think, what system they inhabit, what ways of thinking shape their ways of thinking.

Everybody has a view on the world, on life, whether it is to a great extent self-made or to a great extent leans on other sources, on what someone else has thought out.

For people with academic education or upbringing, or interests, it is normal to talk about things you read and discuss what it means, and what it means to you. Some also have a personal philosophical position.

There are other ways of thinking, not least purely practical ways - also including "how do I achieve the one or the other goal."

It is not an unusual position to start the whole thing, a personal philosophy, with "to survive, a human needs to eat" then maybe money, and next maybe...how do you get them.

I don't really know very much more about normal roads from this, further into "practical" philosophies, practical, popular ways of thinking. They are probably also mixed with other systems, also from academic sources.

Everybody have some fixed notions, some looser ones. Some seem to have a very simple basic system which cannot be altered, they never change their opinion on certain issues, they only change what they do.

Or maybe I was just the wrong person to adjust or comment on the view of the people I met.

Reactions may, of course, come for many reasons.

But I believe everybody may have issues like that, and some are blocked on more basic points than others, maybe.

Perhaps I am wrong in making these categories too sharp, maybe the different ways of thinking only apply to different fields or have varying functions for different people.

This, I think, is most certainly the case, but it is sometimes a question how relevant your thoughts are for politics or societal matters if they are largely formed by some other work with a remote connection to it. It is a really difficult point for democracy, because you can't just rule someone out of the debate, that's against the whole idea of society, of democracy.

But the task of judging competence, relevance of an argument today...

Is there a good reason to be stubborn? You never know quite what you run into when you talk to someone, sometimes hang-ups, sometimes basic truths. One must consider.

If you have only little schooling on a field, but still opinions and some knowledge, you may be more sensitive towards derision and ridicule made about what you hold to be holy truths.

Sometimes those truths are actually holy, more or less, maybe you shouldn't give them away, but with a diploma in your pocket and the finished work that goes with it, it is easier to be sure of yourself and not be offended by nonsense, and you may also easier have the ability to consider any objection and simply any point made, even if it is coarsely formulated. It may be easier to discuss with people outside your field when you feel safe.

It is also easier to discuss, because you have access to concepts and the habit of discussing them.

If you really lack education, sometimes your confidence is so small that you don't have the courage to say anything, and what you might have to say won't be heard. The respect - especially for formal education - may be so huge that you eradicate your own mind, almost, when you meet these things.

People with this type of attitude may have real trouble in being heard in many environments, and are, I believe, also often misunderstood.

It is also many times difficult to make a connection between educated and uneducated thought, precisely because you have to be so careful not to offend or straight out crush people's arguments. It may be the case both ways, maybe depending on who is "in charge".

If you have got too much flattery for your knowledge for no reason or for not good enough reasons, your self-confidence may be totally unrealistic. I sometimes wonder, with some politicians, whether they are of this type or the former.

Too many also have too much respect for the political positions, or other titles, famous names.

Even a member of parliament had in my mind status and deserved in my head really too much respect, until I interviewed one of them once. I was not really impressed by the knowledge he had.

But his private attitudes, the person, did not shock me at all. Many see politicians, usually the ones they disagree with, as bad people, which I often find strange. Their politics, or part of it, may be stupid and stubborn, but more rarely the person, I think, privately.

Many believe pretty straightforward what they see on the TV screen or the Internet, this is life, this is reality.

This is a problem.

Maybe you can sometimes see something of a politician's personality on the screen, but remember that it is all directed, made into a piece of news, what you see is what the journalist or the desk feel is interesting. It is only a few seconds or minutes taken out of days and weeks and years of presence on the political stage, whether the more negative or more positive side is highlighted.

Seeing people from the gallery in parliament tells you a good bit more, even if you are not as close as the corridors.

Some politicians seem just as straightforward as their voters, and some are not. Still too many comments are on the simple side.

I think if you grew up or live in a professional environment, you act professionally and play your role, not out of dishonesty, which some think, but because you know what the job itself, and the position, demands, and relate to that.

If you don't know this kind of environment, you don't know this, that one is normally playing a role, you may believe that the minister thinks like yourself. As I said, it is not necessarily dishonest to be a professional if you use it in the right way, you just have one or a few extra links between yourself and what you do, what comes out when you are at work.

I am used to leaving my private life pretty much at home when I work, and instead bring principles of conduct, interest in the work itself, and of course friendliness and presence, but not all the time private presence and feelings.

And when it comes to "reading" the "simple" ones as they speak, I feel that the professionals often read into his or her words just as much of his or her professional attitude - which simply isn't there - he or she probably knows nothing about it, what you see is maybe in some other sense what you get, or they talk simply from another world.

But if you constantly ask them professional questions and expect them to be answered professionally, in the end they learn the language and behave like one, but is still a straightforward amateur with rough thoughts in their head. You just don't see it or hear it, unless you are the same type yourself, maybe.

The problem of communication across the lines of real professionals and real amateurs creates a lot of trouble.

I would also start with checking this as a possibly important thing, if my job was to find out why the bureaucracy is still growing. It does here, under a more or less populist government. The number of public employees grows a lot, even if the far-right and moderate politicians want the opposite.

When it comes to lightweight statements in public life, you still have to check what they say, whether there is something in it or not.

This is a problem, because their stubbornness and ignorance sometimes make them say and propose and now do things that can takes years to find out the real truth in.

Their unfamiliarity with the system also creates language problems. If you are used to thinking in abstract terms, and used to know how the system works, simply used to...using the system, you sometimes don't understand what they are getting at. It may be that they try to do something real, but you don't always know what, because discussions have been going on for too long, with too many questions and answers on a faulty fundament. You may have missed an initial point, which in its turn does not belong where it ends up.

Comments from the side is often not entirely wrong, but many are given too much weight, they should be more thoroughly sorted out and interpreted before they turn a whole discussion in a wrong direction.

Of course, some arguments are nonsense all along, but to consider what's what also includes the task of finding out what is important both in different walks of life, and for the system itself.

Comments come from sometimes very different and today totally unfamiliar positions.

I believe, even if I should take care not to generalize too much, that many problems could have been more easily solved, without turning a system or even the system more or less upside down. Sometimes maybe the biggest problem was that no one listened to "unqualified" critics simply because of their way of speaking, and a small problem, or a problem which could be solved, grew into something which couldn't be handled.

I believe it happens.

Or the one side cannot understand the importance of something for the other side.

That certainly goes both ways, "beneath" and "above" the line, as I say.

The Internet and the world of computers - as we use them today - I feel have a strong element of abstraction, in the sense that it creates a distance towards reality. It is after all a screen we are talking about, which we spend so much time on and in. Our minds may well conceive it in the end as real, unconsciously.

I try to give my kids an understanding of fiction and abstraction, also because it is part of my education and work (I am also a musician and a piano teacher), but in a sense I don't really think they need more practical experience with these things, they have so much hands-on experience from a wee age of these things, I am sure they know intuitively a lot more about it than me.

What they need is real life experience, more of it, I am talking hiking, washing up with your hands, not machine, making wooden things by hand, cooking - the kind of practical problem solving, using your body to do it.

I normally talk a lot, by Norwegian standards at least, with the kids also, which I consider a very "real" experience for them, also because it means a lot to me. I am not so remote with them, I think.

But they need more practical, physical experiences to counter the hours looking into the screen.

The computer is also in one sense pretty much a practical or technical world in my opinion, after all, it is a machine.

But you move very few muscles, and if you are lazy you solve few problems too. For a non-practically, non-technically interested it is also really a different world. One-sidedness can be a problem in any field, and the distance that technically thinking contains and technically doing contains, creates trouble for me.

I mean, we are more or less (some of us think too much) relying on normal machines for physical tasks. The new problem is that thinking is automatized and engineered.

I don't know if you can say it goes further than the first industrial revolution, but it certainly goes far.

I am kind of happy that my kids have to learn to write by hand.

I met a conductor on the local train who found it comic that you should have to open the window, by hand, to get the temperature down. Seriously, there is a ventilation system here, and it should work, shouldn't it??

Anything that connects you to yourself, the world, other people, is useful, especially when you grow up. Art, musical experiences, as I say, practical work, sports.

Actually it depends also on the attitude and contact of the one who teaches you and shows it to you, even with computers, I have to admit, in spite of my scepticism.

If they know the way to the ground through their activity, you can learn it, and what you get if you're lucky is the ability to trust yourself and your own judgment, and hopefully from there you can learn the ability to communicate with others and judge their statements and opinions and doings.

Practical people need to consider that there is remoteness and there is presence also in the intellectual worlds, and the intellectuals or intellectually inclined need to consider that also practical people think, in their own practical ways too.

To make these two worlds communicate is a major task, especially today. Of course, not everybody is only one or the other, luckily, maybe no one 100%, but there is certainly a polarisation going on these days.

There is a lot of good things in everyday popular culture, much presence, for instance. If you talk about everyday habits there is normally an honesty and clear notions which may make it clear who you are and what is said, but the link to educated knowledge is not always clear or there at all.

Especially in the media today this is of course a problem. But remember that on both sides of this border there are people who actually connect to the "other side", and of course, actually, everybody is a mix of thinking and doing.

In arts and music these things mix to the extent that it often gives no meaning to split them up. The problems of communicating across these lines, which often follow class lines, maybe reach a peak when there is a lot of social movement up or down, which I thoroughly believe is the case today. And up rather than down.

One of the abilities that art has, books, music, whatever, is to answer or help you answer yourself, the question "Who am I?" or even "What should I do?" - and not only once and for all, but frequently, if you seek these experiences. It can talk to you about new things you experience as life moves forward. Or when it comes to a halt, it can sometimes help you come past an obstacle.

I am not a big sports fan, but I believe it may have more or less the same properties - every activity that brings you close to yourself in a deeper sense, more or less any activity which really means something to you, could probably and will probably sometimes have such effects.

# # #

In modern art, the idea that everything is art has provoked many who only want to see beautiful things, from the past or present.

I frequently want to see and listen to beautiful things from the past and the present myself, but for one thing they are never only beautiful, they also contain problems and sometimes violent elements.

I also find it not such a bad idea that you can take ideas from art and put it into any part of your life, of anybody's life. The art of living, life as an art form, sounds like it could be liberating if you use it sensibly and the things fit you.

Of course, sometimes an exhibition is more sociology than aesthetics, but if it has interesting content and is meant to be like that, who cares?

Actually, it is also only a way of saying something that can be said of many fields, maybe all major ones, whichever they may be. Everything is art, sports, etc.

One should perhaps limit this way of thinking too at some point. All the talk of creativity in business life...most of it is about how to make money, or about administration, which I think has not and should not have too much to do with art. I don't know, at least I feel that the border between real creativity and the simplification of routines seems often not quite in order.

Privately, I find art experiences useful, sometimes challenging, even sometimes too challenging. There are things I avoid, but maybe just in certain periods.

There is also probably a limit to how thin you can brew a pot of tea, how far you can stretch a method or theme in art, but before you scream out slogans against artists, consider the art of sushi, yeah, finely cut fish, exactly, where the shape of the piece of fish is basically the art, there is no mixing of ingredients in this.

It is supposed to affect the taste, I think. At least the experience of the food.

The blending of tastes does of course exist in other parts of the Japanese kitchen, and in other things that you eat with the sushi pieces, but not in the art of cutting itself, which takes you years to learn.

Consider also the many types of green tea, which I would suspect to create pretty different sensations in the mouth of say a Norwegian and a Chinese.

When it comes to "giving the mind a ride", as some modernists state as one aim of modernism or of art, I also think you can maybe reach a limit - if you loosen up everything, in the end you will need to fasten some things.

I myself write a lot of music which solves problems and land on a calm and usually reasonably happy note, but without avoiding the problems, I hope. Without them the content of the music would be sparse.

Sometimes maybe the protesters against art are the ones who could need that ride once in a while.

# # #

I wanted to say something more about the Internet.

The property of limitlessness in the Internet exists also in the social side of it, meaning for instance that contact with other people does not have real or physical borders, only the ones you create in your mind or create in your mind and represent on the screen.

This demands new things of us, and we must be in the total beginning of a sensible use of this technology.

Normally when people leave the room they leave, but in Cyberspace this is only partly true.

You also don't always know what is the case, whether they are still "there" or not.

This whole universe seems sometimes dangerous or possibly creating chaos, you start comparing it to the collective subconscious or other concepts of unsure or varying content, a common Sargasso Sea where everybody's souls and thoughts are contained and in movement.

We're all in the same bath tub.

There is a lot of work and energy put into security in this universe, but in a world which seems so far pretty chaotic.

To define or draw the lines around such things as privacy or your own personal borders has both judicial and psychological sides which are far from properly defined.

The merry enthusiasm that sometimes flows from the professional computer people does not always calm my nerves. Too many voices seem unconscious of or uninterested in these problems. I like the freedom the new reality gives, in a way, but so far not quite the mess of it all.

Addiction is also a problem, partly because so much is streamlined according to the habits of the computer field or computer science itself. I am not sure whether the strategy of digitalising more or less the whole society was so smart, the way it has been done here in Norway.

It is demanding for society, and also costs us money, not least buying the machines and the "solutions", a process which does not stop.

There is also a problem here, in Norway, that there hardly exists a common public ground for debates and information anymore - news, actually - which means that irresponsible governments can rush things through parliament, things which need either to be stopped or changed through discussion, and they are passed almost unseen and unheard and are implemented almost or totally without people knowing it.

The people. Us.

The fact? that visuality, to sort things by their visual properties, is closer to a practical way of thinking than a thinking in theoretical concepts, is also a thought which could need consideration.



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Simple needs, different focus

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 15 Nov, 2018 14:28

Many webpages have too much information and too much PR-stuff in them, in the widest sense - text written to describe and promote the work of the owner of the site. I may be after an address or opening hours, but have to dig through loads of marketing to get there.

Like many others I wish to live and think basically on my own. I like to be among people, in the city or anywhere, but this doesn't disturb me as much as computers do.

I know that many think differently - some, I believe, look at them more like they do an interesting book, they learn things or get new ideas from the machine itself, the way it works. My perspective is probably one-sided, but my purpose is not to eradicate the impressions of the computer world in my head, but to limit the thing so I can see it, think about it, as one thing among others in the world. It tends to establish itself as the world in my head - in many different ways.

I don't like that, I prefer my own philosophy.

A really annoying side of computer talk, I mean if you ask even competent users or -workers, more often than not they don't answer the question "what is this, what is this part of the machine or program doing?"

Instead, the question "what do you do with this problem?" seems to be the only relevant one, and the only one they answer.

Maybe this is the case also in other professional fields, many of us are more practical than analytical, and also, it is easy to be "inside" your own field.

Maybe I asked the wrong questions or I did it on a bad day, for me or the ones I asked. But the concepts of the computer world seem woolly to many, sometimes even professional computer nerds. Among you and me, the "normal" users, the problem is really big.

Numbers and letters meet, and so far it seems to me that numbers dictate many of the rules. It is probably possible to move the whole project in the direction of letters. Some are already doing it, I believe, there is a field established called "humanist informatics" or something similar. I have not had the time to check it out, but it sounds interesting.



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