The Selfish Idealist

The Selfish Idealist


When 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.

Ullevål hageby, John Colletts plass.


CommentPosted by Erik Gøthesen 05 May, 2019 13:05

An old film about a butler and another servant who fall in love. He feels he can't go through with the relationship, because it would compromise the loyalty to his work and his employer.

I can't remember the details of his thinking, but something like "it wouldn't be proper" or "suitable" must have been one of the lines.

I left the cinema with a feeling of ashes inside. A love story that never happened, because of propriety.

I grew up with a sense of duty that could actually kill you. Today, in 2019, Oslo is full of people who act like they were queens and kings and who seem to believe that they have to do this to fit into the city life. It's difficult for any generation to understand the next one, but I feel there could be a need today for a grain of the ironic distance to official truths I also grew up with.

Too many small things are taken too seriously.

And today, even if you can't throw away all the clothes you were born in, casual or neat, you can at least try to avoid crashing your neighbour with whoever you are.

Be proud enough to be tolerant. usual.

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Irony and nature

Tourist at homePosted by Erik Gøthesen 01 May, 2019 02:32

For those unfamiliar with Norwegian humour, the name of the restaurant Ben Reddik in Grünerløkka refers to one of the characters in an extremely popular film from many years ago, Flåklypa Grand Prix. The film is an emblematic portrait of an important part of Norwegian mentality, with the (anti-) hero Reodor Felgen as its main character.

His title is actually bike repair man (sykkelreparatør), but he is more than that, an inventor type, seemingly modest both in apparition and behaviour, but capable of creating all kinds of fun technical gadgets, like for instance a wooden box for recycling used tobacco smoke, which you strap onto your back. This way you can both save money on tobacco and save your immediate environment from breathing your cigarette smoke.

Reodor looks like a typical Norwegian of my father's generation, and you can still see his type many places here. The nickname Reodor (Felgen) is still a common expression for the ability to fix or invent anything practical, anytime anywhere, which is actually a typical national inventiveness, also in other connections than practical and technical. It must have developed out of geography, fun, and the relative lack of traditional European education.

The northerners even have a saying for it - vi træng ikkje pæng, vi fikser med stræng, (we don't need doe, we fix it with wire).

In the real north (remember that Norway is about 2000 km long) - the improvisation has also gone thoroughly even into the language, and the ability to create words and expressions on the spot has been common there and in other parts too. Probably still is.

Reodor Felgen is the product of Kjell Aukrust's mind, who was an artist and writer and the creator of Flåklypa Times (Flåkypa tidende), the local newspaper of an imaginary place in a valley of Norway, which came in several volumes in the 60's and 70's. It actually contains a lot stranger things tham just local news, and the humour touches upon many different issues from public life.

A felg means the rim of a wheel - and this constructed last name illustrates another side of Norwegian humour - slapstick, practical humour, visuality - these tools or modes are never far away.

Flåklypa as a place name actually exists, but I don't think anyone lives there. I had some motor trouble there many years ago, and accidentally noticed the road sign, not far from Lom.

Aukrust himself came from Alvdal, quite a few hours drive from the actual Flåklypa. Alvdal is partly the inspiration for the fictional Flåklypa.

The author has also given a witty impression of the real Alvdal in Bror min (My Brother) and other autobiographical works. A great humourist and also illustrator of his own books, he has given us a picture of an important part of Norwegian culture. We have after all always been rural to a large extent, despite a normal output also of "European" art, music, etc.

The landscape I grew up in, in Asker, just outside Oslo, is very much recognisable even in those drawings from Alvdal, which is further up the land from my home place. The Eastern hills and slopes resemble each other across a large area.

In the film, one of the sponsors, I believe, of the car race, is sheikh Ali Ben Redik Fy Fazan, who meets our countryside heroes in the tent that he brought with him from his homeland. He also brought with him a beautiful bellydancer, who has just about time to turn the head of Solan, who sees her in a glimpse through the tent opening. Solan is an outgoing and optimistic chap, always willing to take a chance, the complete opposite of his friend Ludvig, whose gloomy slogan is "The Northern winds blow from everywhere".

The film is animated, played with dolls made by Ivo Caprino, who is also famous for animated versions of Norwegian fairy tales and other stories.

Racism was already rife in Norway when the film appeared (1975), but I don't think sheikh Ali or the film contributed substantially to it. "Fy Fazan" is a "foreignised" and euphemistic version of "fy faen", the most common Norwegian swearword, but knowing Aukrust and Caprino and their work you have to think very strangely to interpret the character as racist, rather the opposite. His accent is comic, but all characters are comic, and we see in him, for instance, a guy who is confident enough to give respect to his hosts.

All characters, in the film and the stories, are comic, maybe except Reodor himself, who is actually more of a wise grandfather, the person who "owns" the humour. His personality also resembles Aukrust's, in the film especially, and also in sequels, which have been made in recent years.

The humour of Norway often resonates to a coarse background, not necessarily in a bad way, but it is completely strewn with irony, hints and double meanings, it is often difficult to see through to the last end of it. Which is also often the point, to pull your leg.

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Moving, moving

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 16 Apr, 2019 08:54

I have written a stack of articles about the Internet, and they are all written with a minimum of specialised concepts and special language, because I wanted to see the whole thing from a viewpoint close to the ground. Computers looked straight in the eye, so to speak.

I meet IT people, even people who run their own IT business, who claim that having an overview of the field is not possible.

I am sure that this is wrong, but it is a common problem.

I also know people with a clearer view of what they are doing. They can actually give totally relevant answers to all my questions, and make clear what are the choices in this world and what is necessary, unavoidable.

This knowledge has not spread wide enough, for instance all the way to people working with support and sales. They speak to me pretty often as though I had no concepts, and I suspect them of having none, or too few.

You can at least say, we don't speak the same language.

This actually ought to be fixed right away, and not only in the talk about computer matters, but in the programs themselves.

They should be examined, for instance by language teachers, to establish real communication between the developers and the rest of us, actually between the computer world and the general public, and the settlement should include clearer borders between normal, everyday language or other professional language, and the computer world's lingo, which often climb in or cling to established languages.

The lack of overview is a problem in the general public, and it has been like that for a while. You could say that this is normal anyway...but the computers have created some new confusion.

Giggling from the boys and girls who make the things is a spice of life when strange things with strange names are let loose over the heads of all of us. They are not data viruses, but you could call them mental viruses. Journalism has maybe already made a word for it.

I believe this creates trouble in all kinds of administration and in politics. The situation in media is a thing in itself. Remoteness is an important concept, which does not always originate in the computer world, but can be aggravated by the use of computers. Reality is blurred in new ways.

The screen is by many conceived as a reference for truth, and I believe you must be fairly well grounded already to find out what's right and what's wrong in this way of seeing it.

Confusion hits "the rest of us", people who are not computer insiders, because it is a business in amazingly quick development, and because it has beginner's problems.

I sometimes meet computer people who are rather on the edge. You can feel the vibration of the computer being part of them, and it looks unpleasant. As a teacher I sometimes feel the need to create human presence there and then, to calm down their system or soften the thinking.

The problem with the computer world is also connected to language. Their language - not programming languages, but the words that are used - are actually invading all other languages, not least everyday language, with a small epidemic of professional expressions that are new, and pretty often is destroying or changing mainstream concepts and often also mainstream ways of thinking. Also sometimes there is internal humour which should not be spread...without explanation.

I have been talking about an unconscious "programming" of us all through our use of the machines. I am talking about unconscious NLP-ish things and simply habits, in which we are trained through the use of the machines - and I think I believe that these things easily make you think actionsinstead of thinking concepts. I wonder whether this can make a habit of instrumental thinking, that we see problems only as practical problems and maybe easier confuse situations where you have a choice with those where you have none.

Automatisation of all sorts of...actions... - it is worth considering what it does to us and our ways of thinking.

Simply put I think I believe that the computer world as it appears today favours practical ways of thinking to theorybased ones. This is a coarsely formulated idea, which certainly deserves closer scrutiny, but I think there is something to it. Maybe it is also a question of humanities vs natural science or math.

I have a certain level of knowledge in music and literature, and all my writing about computers is probably also a reaction to what may be of thinking in terms of "natural science", or mathematical ways of thinking, or engineering-ways of thinking. The whole project of making a computer is to create an artificial brain, right? - or an artificial human...and the principles of this world is to a great extent the principles of machines, or of making them. In many ways this isa machine, with no movable parts, but with a lot of the processes resembling movements.

Maybe this one-sided way of thinking is also only a stage in the development of the IT field, parallel to the first cars, and steam engines, where the mechanic parts in the beginning were more or less out in the air.

I am not updated on the field of "humanist IT", there may be interesting things there.

The computer world, the education too, at least produces a new type of engineering consciousness. It may produce other things too...

The engineers themselves have always been a little annoying, for instance in their tendency to think in numbers - important when you build something, not as important when you deal with people.

Human and administrative systems built on too many figures also sound unattractive, in my mind. I don't quite like the idea of society as a machine either. It is part of the picture, I agree, but other metaphors should supplement it. One-sided thinking is maybe not so wise if you are a leader somewhere.

Freedom is after all also an issue worth addressing or considering.

When I write music I am also not in the world of numbers, but many composers are these days, I believe.

What comes out of artistic creativity you don't know, either, until you have finished making something. I guess the way of thinking is not everything either - the experience of the piece of music or whatever you have made - is still the proof of the pudding.

I sometimes dance all night long to the sound of dj-genres, the harder the better, and find Bugge Wesseltoft's electronic playing even more interesting than his acoustic piano playing, which I am also a fan of.

I am not one-sided - no, no...I just want control over my work.

You can turn slightly psychotic from trying out the wrong type of program, unless you think that way already. It is surprising to what extent we can cut concepts into two or more pieces, turn them upside down, mirror them, reinterpret, use them for gymnastics or other movements, but I am not quite sure how useful everything is. I could probably enjoy a little more of the different possibilities than I do today, but hardly all of them. I enjoy entertainment, but not all the time.

It would maybe be nice to have a computer which stopped developing. I think I would like that. It feels like we are past the peak of creativity in many of the updates that continue to invade me, the feeling that there is actually not more to be done, but still the work goes on.

On the Internet there are also many charlatans, sorry to say, they are after your money, basically. For instance there is the habit of asking for monthly pay all the time, a subscription, sometimes for products which I think should be sold to us as a thing.

I prefer anyway a clear head, when I want to think, as far as is possible.

Things that move my world around, the whole time, is...usually annoying, at least when I am working.

Edited after publishing.

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The Internet seen from the point of addiction

Digital sanityPosted by Erik Gøthesen 05 Apr, 2019 10:31

Another look into the screen world which surrounds us all.

The typical computer game logic moves you inwards, inwards, or in the direction you choose to go, it doesn't stop, really. No really dead ends, I think that hardly exists unless you download a pdf or something.

A creative mode? Not for me, not like that, I think. Maybe later, I don't know.

The screen is a window towards something, you watch and you watch, you'll never finish to find out what's there.

But it is not nature, even if many treat it like it is, they try to research this world, in a way without actually realising it is a manmade universe.

Some say the sense of sight has a special position among the five senses. I don't know, but it is at least sensitive enough to be dragged towards an open computer with a visible screen.

I am not sure that it is wise to let sight have such a dominant position, at least not alone.

It also has a close connection to muscles and movement of the body. Again, some assume that it has to be like that, that it is a physical fact, but I am once again sceptical. I am not so physical myself, but I know others who are. A lot of things can not be drawn by myself, I can't fix it, but verbal explanations come easy to me.

I would say there are differences in the ways we function, also in things like these.

I am not sure that it is very wise for society to let go of the word as the lingua franca...the mode everyone must relate to and understand a little of.

The discussions here about learning styles in teaching, for instance, somehow have to relate to this question. It is ok, no, it is absolutely necessary, to let a child develop his or her own curiosity and to have his own ways of thinking too, but kids have to understand what a concept is, everyone should, and be able to use them, it is necessary to function constructively in society. You can subscribe to and live by whatever philosophy or mode you like, this is freedom after the law, but I think words should still be considered the thing we all can't manage without.

The language...of common knowledge.

There is a lot of movement which goes against this right now, and partly because of the computer revolution, or it happens through the using of computers.

I strongly believe in the right to be different, but also in connecting with each other so that you don't mess up others' worlds more than you have to, and make sure that dialogue comes before changes that affect your neighbour, so she can adjust and react to what you say, and tell you whether what you do is ok or not.

Tolerance and knowledge about each other, this is at least two things that are necessary for living together.

This applies to normal coexistence in a neighbourhood, and it also applies to politics.

I think it must be a general principle in social life.

The growing amount of symbols which surround us makes it more possible to move around without really knowing where you go or what you do. In the computer world this is a normal problem, but it exists also in real life.

In the end you can also maybe hardly take in reality except though the screen. One of the kids have already made a new kind of philosophy out of the computer logic. I don't know quite what it is, but I can feel that it's there.

I can't suddenly crash them on such things, they have to rule and make their own lives too, in addition to my meddling, but my task (or their own) will be to connect whatever they are with the real world, or whatever you want to call it, the fog and the blue sky and the face of your friends.

There are already many human worlds in play, this is not new - all kinds of art, science, crafts, engineering, personal or professional philosophy. I just don't want to end up in the tummy of this machine.

You could make a case for the point that everything that goes on on the screen is pictures, or are made into pictures, that visual rules, laws, principles, that are used for layout and design, rule the day and push away grammar and language to a certain extent.

This illustrates what I think is also right, that the Internet or computerised solutions maybe do not have to be made in any special way, or at least there is a lot of unused freedom there. Things do not have to be like they are today.

I am still not sure in what ways math or natural science thinking really affect us through the work of people who create things on the screen, or maybe there are also other ways of thinking that are more important, more frequently in use.

The ultra sharp picture is one thing, which has an aesthetic side, in addition to what is argued for, that it is close to reality, almost as in real life, which seems to be an ideal.

The tempo in the changes that are going on all the time is another thing that needs to be considered. It stems from largely practical creativity, I believe, a kind of engineering world which is imposed on all of us. A quick look in a textbook for constructing algorithms (or, as the book enthusiastic says, the discovery of them) tells me that a lot happens backstage.

But I don't know what calculations, if you like, create what visual things on the screen, and what things that are unimportant for the result, for us, except if you are interested in technical things.

How does the thinking of the developers etc come through to us, that's the question.

Nothing exists, everything is possible. this is also a way of seeing the flexibility of it all. Harry Potter live.

And why do they correct me on things they know too little about?

The rules of written Norwegian has in many ways always been kind of messy, and many decisions on grammar or spelling were left to everyone's discretion, even when it comes to orthography, the situation has been a little a mild anarchy partly based on the survival of the fittest. The most elegant or just the quickest way of introducing or removing a grammatical or orthographical form wins. Partly.

As things are now, autocorrection frequently gives you a little kick in the ass, and you must be strong if you want to keep your own variant of things, your own way of speaking, actually, writing. This applies probably to other languages too, because freedom of style exists in every language.

The English or vernacular language of computing has also invaded everyday language. All kinds of phenomenons are given new names which are spread through the bath tub which is the Internet, new names which belonged to old concepts too, and no one except the computer nerds really understand all of them in this new world. You could say that they are technical concepts in a world that most of us don't know too well, but the words are often picked out of the old world, and the new usage differ from the old.

People who don't know language rules often don't react.

Programs are often, it seems, messy and unsystematic, and in some ways give us chaos in thought also because of their structure, the way they are built. I think this is partly true.

The systems change all the time.

This is also destabilising our ways of thinking. I hope we will soon recover and get back the capacity of having an overview. The world will have changed in our absence, I guess...

I am sceptical towards much of the aesthetics I see on the screen. Maybe I am oldfashioned. Ok, I'm not up to date with the art world, I have seen only a little of what's going on in computer art. Obviously cool things are made too, I've seen a little.

Nice, absolutely.

But all the old art genres are also needed, I would still believe that they are closer to reality (my reality?) - at least they give other ideas about what the world is like which I would not like to see abandoned altogether. So there is a conservative point of vies. If you are really computerised you may argue that everything can be put into a screen, but a screen can also be put into a traditional painting, film or text.

I also welcome all sorts of things coming out of the computers - music, not the least. I am notin favour of prohibiting or squeezing anything, I just don't want my old world to be completely squeezed, either.

Of course, every art form needs to connect with reality. The good things always do.

Both ways, then.

Of course it is in a way ok that those who cannot liberate themselves from the real world in any other way than with the computer, use it, but I had lots, really loads, of ways of doing this in the old days, ways that are partly left unused today by myself because of this bloody machine which I even have to write this on. Books, music, arts, nature. The city. People. There is a long list of mental escape routes and places to change or reinforce views on anything, none of them being a computer.

If you love machines, and many do, the machines are ok anyway. I think I basically like thoughts and don't want to lose myself.

Ideas normally feed my imagination more, also in art, and I don't want to lose it. Definitions and discussions about ideas give me entertainment and connect difficult sides of life and reality. A new app sometimes works the opposite way.

A world of ideas does exist...and is lofty or airy enough for me, I feel no need to dissolve physical laws to any greater extent with other means. I also usually keep my feet on the ground even if my head is in a floor above it.

I grew up to a large extent in a humanist tradition, and the computer world puts into practice a lot of physical or mathematical principles concealed as writing and pictures.

As I have already said, the concept of information in this new world is probably ingenious from a technical point of view, but philosophically I need to step back for a moment and try to understand what is going on. The new phenomenons multiply all the time, a little like Gyro Gearloose's duplicating machines.

The lack of physical presence leads for me after long and intense use of the screen to nausea. It is a little like being laid on a stock shelf, packed in plastic, or eating, working and copulating on an office desk made of lackered beech and aluminium. I used to have nothing against offices, I enjoyed working in an office, but there was usually an escape from them.

Being flooded with information is also a thing. It is seen as progress, and it is, in a way, but it needs sorting, to put it very simple.

Mass outlaws content sometimes.

An obviously negative consequence for the world is the remoteness which can arise when so many things can be done on a distance, without the immediate physical responsibility for the consequences of your actions, whether we talk about words or bullets.

Automatising can work similar ways, you receive a "request" without anyone really having sent it, someone has only made a machine that sends it to you. I t doesn't have to come only negative experiences out of it, I came in touch with an old friend in this way, but it is at least highly surprising in the beginning.

The fact that the door towards the world is always open is sometimes trouble, for instance, old friends may be annoyed by the fact that you don't get in touch, and your habits are still connected to the old world, where the new possibilities of getting in touch didn't exist.

We have to decide what new social habits to develop.

Loneliness is there, quite a lot, sometimes I am really alarmed by things someone says on Facebook, and I don't even know him or her well enough to say something, or I act cowardly, I do nothing.

Sometimes it feels like real trouble.

Maybe things are also moving in another direction than towardsloneliness. After all the new technology has immense social possibilities.

Sorry, computer friends, I sound completely negative, but whenever I am sober I am not after mashing this new world, I just want to keep my brain and my soul in control.

As usual, actually, I believe in establishing borders, then you can cross them. This is extremely useful in social connections, safety first, ok, but when you feel reasonably safe, you have a beautiful starting pojnt for establishing connections in any direction you would like.

PS I have to get back to you when it comes to algorithms, but here is another glimpse of something: "Algorithms to solve short-distance-problems" is a quotation from the textbook I mentioned.

I can hear that they talk about something, but I don't quite understand what it is.

One could imagine that it was already four in the morning, when discussions have reached this point of clarity.

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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.


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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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' 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.


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, 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.


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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