The Trap: We Will Force You To Be Free

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMwhlvDFZDA

This documentary look at the restrictions imposed on ourselves by simplified economic and research models into human behaviour by the wonderful Adam Curtis. Our ideas of freedom have led us to some how restrict our true selves.

“how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.”

This documentary was originally released in 2007. I’ve only just come across this since watching the All Watched Over By Machines of Love and Grace.

Curtis discusses Game Theory in relation to the two models of liberty as highlighted by Isaiah Berlin. Game Theory originally used as part of the USA’s Cold War Strategy. This used mathematical models of human behaviour and this eventually became embedded into economic research into the Free Market. Curtis highlights the important role of John Nash (he of the movie, A Beautiful Mind) with regards to this particular theory, citing that Nash believed that all humans were inherently suspicious and selfish. More described in this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium.

As usual with Curtis, he has managed to delve in and really explore such a broad subject and dig into key historical events. There’s an interesting discussion raised regarding the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the part Neo-cons in the US (influenced by Game Theory) had in overthrowing these democratically elected Marxists, because it wasn’t quite the right democracy that the US wanted. He then discussed the real affect of economic freedom in Russia using the Shock Therapy tactics from US advisors.

Curtis concludes that the game theory/free market model is now overshadowed by economic research into how irrational models of behaviour is appropriate and useful. Cheekily, he comments that there have been formal experiments that prove that people who behaved exactly according to the mathematical models created by game theory are economists themselves, and psychopaths.

An interesting insight into the dangers of narrow thinking.

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“In a world upended by outsourcing, deluged with data, and choked with choices, the abilities that matter most are now closer in spirit to the specialties of the right hemisphere – artistry, empathy, seeing the big picture, and pursuing the transcendent.”

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.02/brain.html

Okay, so this article was written back in 2oo5. However, there’s a rather interesting discussion here as Pink Points out : We’ve created and lived through the ‘Information Age’ which utilised the logic of our left brain and that we are now living in a ‘Conceptual Age’, governed by artistry, empathy, and emotion.

This chap argues, that our economies have long been built on computer based logic and sequential abilities of the Information Age. So, could there now be wiggle room in our economies to really utilise our right sided inventive and empathic abilities. After all, since 2005, social media has engrained itself into our everyday culture. Facebook, needs those trite emotional outpourings and twitter needs our angry rants… as there’s money to made from those.

Also, Pink highlights that since the rise of overseas outsourcing – narrow left-brain work such as basic computer coding, accounting, legal research, and financial analysis is migrating across the oceans at low cost, it frees up employees and researchers in the UK to have a more holistic approach. We also have software that can free up laborious legal research – routine functions are routinely being handed over to machines.

‘…After a few generations in the Information Age, many of our high concept, high touch muscles have atrophied. The challenge is to work them back into shape…’

After all, we weren’t bogged down with menial number crunching way back when, we were busy creating stories and inventing.

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On Yer [Pink] Bike!!

Does a bike require gender? Is there a need for such gender division on something as utilitarian from such an early age? This is discussed further in the link below:

Oi! Sexist Marketing! On Yer Bike!!.

Interesting also, that pink was aimed at boys originally. E.g: June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department:

“…The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

This is discussed further in this article:

Pink and Blue, Chris Blattman

Also, as I ramble on further. This video is particularly interesting and relevant:

This comment from a little girl called Riley. She is right, there is a lack of choice for toys targeted at girls. Boy’s not only get a choice of colours in their range, but a choice of proactive role models – superheros in this example (sport stars and strong career roles in other examples). Girl’s on the other hand get passive, pretty princesses (and servile, domesticated toys elsewhere).

Segregating toys in such a simple way is just strange to me. This simplification surely can’t be good for childhood development and it must certainly have some affect on gender stereotyping. Childhood should be a fun learning experience, preparing kids for adulthood. Yet, all I can see is that by ‘pinkifying’ certain toys (not just through colour, but by a strict choice of either superhero or princess), it can also deny boys choice as well. Given the choice, would they want something that promotes passiveness and vanity, such as a princess or would they prefer something proactive and exciting like a superhero or astronaut?

Surely, we shouldn’t be engineering kids thoughts through things like this? It’s not just marketeers either, it’s parents that reinforce this. It worries me. Toys should encourage imagination and ingenuity, they shouldn’t encourage stereotypes. Granted, there’s no denying ones gender identity, but gender is one of the many facets of identity – there’s more to life than being a princess or a superhero.

Give the kids freedom to find out more about their individuality, don’t deny their imagination.

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Perfection in Imperfection

Slavoj Žižek rambles that we should become more artificial and thus abstract from nature. A mathematical universe – abstract materialism, nothing other than formuli and find spirituality in that dimension. Through this we will find true love which isn’t idealisation of each other, but acceptance of each others failures and vulgarities. Perfection in imperfection.

In this talkybox (Examined Life, Astra Taylor) Žižek highlights the following:

Is this existing world the best possible world?

Does nature exist or is it a series of large catastrophes that we thrive from and which feeds out hubris.

Will ecology become the new opium of the masses, like religion – a warning conservative voice dictating our everyday lives?

The article that it’s adjoined to discusses marxism

http://gu.com/p/2tv8q

Amonst other things, he discusses the contemporary context of Marxism:

“Marx was talking about land and property when he wrote about this, but today intellectual property is our commons, information is our commons…” – Žižek

He states that today, we are witnessing a strange regression whereby we ‘rent’ our intellectual property online.

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Thou Shall Embrace Procrastination

Procrastination is not the foe, but a manservant for the creative mind. Perfectionism is the enemy!

 

Defocus and conceptualise

Mindgubble

Welcome to the creative mindgubble of the cordyceps known as Agfom – sprouting from the cadaver of boredom numbed by a sleepless coma of mediocracy and acceptance.  The rethinkle, rehash and unbibble will be vented from here on.

David Shrigley

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“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion” -Democritus

Existence is Futile