The Portable POMO

Five paragraphs from Michel Foucault ought to be enough to dig POMO. Let’s take those that start his concluding remarks to the Seminar Discourse and Truth: the Problematization of Parrhesia. Parrhesia refers to the act of speaking candidly:

My intention was not to deal with the problem of truth, but with the problem of truth-teller or truth-telling as an activity. By this I mean that, for me, it was not a question of analyzing the internal or external criteria that would enable the Greeks and Romans, or anyone else, to recognize whether a statement or proposition is true or not. At issue for me was rather the attempt to consider truth-telling as a specific activity, or as a role.

As you can see, Michel doesn’t deny that truth exists. It’s just not what he’s auditing. Truths need to be told, i.e. by someone, in a context, etc. So let’s skip to the third paragraph:

But, in fact, my intention was not to conduct a sociological description of the different possible roles for truth-tellers in different societies. What I wanted to analyze was how the truth-teller’s role was variously problematized in Greek philosophy. And what I wanted to show you was that if Greek philosophy has raised the question of truth from the point of view of the criteria for true statements and sound reasoning, this same Greek philosophy has also raised the problem of truth from the point of view of truth-telling as an activity. It has raised questions like: Who is able to tell the truth? What are the moral, the ethical, and the spiritual conditions which entitle someone to present himself as, and to be considered as, a truth-teller? About what topics is it important to tell the truth? (About the world? About nature? About the city? About behavior? About man? ) What are the consequences of telling the truth? What are its anticipated positive effects for the city, for the city’s rulers, for the individual, etc.? And finally: what is the relation between the activity of truth-telling and the exercise of power, or should these activities be completely independent and kept separate? Are they separable, or do they require one another? These four questions about truth-telling as an activity — who is able to tell the truth, about what, with what consequences, and with what relation to power — seem to have emerged as philosophical problems towards the end of the Fifth Century around Socrates, especially through his confrontations with the Sophists about politics, rhetorics, and ethics.

Forgive the many questions. It’s more than a tic, it’s a trick French students use to write dissertations. These questions help enumerate conditions for truth-telling. In the following paragraph, notice how Michel distinguishes the logical aspect from the extra-logical aspect of truth, which he calls analytical and critical:

And I would say that the problematization of truth which characterizes both the end of Presocratic philosophy and the beginning of the kind of philosophy which is still ours today, this problematization of truth has two sides, two major aspects. One side is concerned with insuring that the process of reasoning is correct in determining whether a statement is true (or concern itself with our ability to gain access to the truth). And the other side is concerned with the question: what is the importance for the individual and for the society of telling the truth, of knowing the truth, of having people who tell the truth, as well as knowing how to recognize them. With that side which is concerned with determining how to insure that a statement is true we have the roots of the great tradition in Western philosophy which I would like to call the “analytics of truth”. And on the other side, concerned with the question of the importance of telling the truth, knowing who is able to tell the truth, and knowing why we should tell the truth, we have the roots of what we could call the “critical” tradition in the West. And here you will recognize one of my targets in this seminar, namely, to construct a genealogy of the critical attitude in the Western philosophy. That constituted the general objective target of this seminar.

(The emphasized bit is recurrent in ClimateBall ™.) Note that Michel speaks of genealogy in a philosophical sense. No need to delve into that nuance, let’s stick to problematization. What’s that beast, you may ask? Wait for it:

From the methodological point of view, I would like to underscore the following theme. As you may have noticed, I utilized the word “problematization” frequently in this seminar without providing you with an explanation of its meaning. I told you very briefly that what I intended to analyze in most of my work was neither past people’s behavior (which is something that belongs to the field of social history), nor ideas in their representative values. What I tried to do from the beginning was to analyze the process of “problematization” — which means: how and why certain things (behavior, phenomena, processes) became a problem. Why, for example, certain forms of behavior were characterized and classified as “madness” while other similar forms were completely neglected at a given historical moment; the same thing for crime and delinquency, the same question of problematization for sexuality.

So POMO is minimally a (derogatory) term to designate any way of asking ourselves about the conditions by which some “things” became topical. While Kant asked himself what are the a priori conditions for knowledge to be possible, POMOs ask themselves about the all the conditions for “things” to become problems. That includes the concept of “thing,” it goes without saying, and even kinds of things.

This way of looking at problems provides great latitude. One can explore about anything under any angle, to a point the studies can be read like novels. Sometimes, such freedom can lead to overweening verbosity or worse:

That shouldn’t always be the case.

Now you know POMO.

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108 Responses to The Portable POMO

  1. Willard says:

    Good POMO:

    Read the whole thread.

  2. Willard says:

    Thomas Friedman’s pundit career as bad POMO:

    For nearly two decades now, Friedman has been telling us that something big is happening, technology is growing at a rate beyond the ability of humans to adapt (this is where the part about noticing everyone has a cell phone comes in), and that we have to stop doing things the old way and take a brave step into the future.

    He wrote this column so many times that even four years ago – eight Friedman units – Hamilton Nolan wrote a piece in Gawker titled “Thomas Friedman writes his only column again” (Friedman’s “only column” has by now outlived hundreds of media outlets, Gawker and my own New York Press among them). Nolan cited a piece in the Times called “The Rise of Popularism,” in which Friedman argued, again, that technology was racing past humanity’s ability to govern itself wisely.

    A very conservative guess is that Friedman has written this column at least a hundred times. Maybe 200. Maybe more. If you’re rolling your eyes at this, check yourself. Think about what an awesome accomplishment that is. It takes an extraordinary discipline to turn one sentence of thought into hundreds of thousands of words.

    We all repeat ourselves in the punditry business. Most of us only have a few ideas. Friedman has fewer than most – it’s really just one, technology future derp! – but he’s attacked that one idea with such relentless evangelical energy that he is leaving behind as a monument to it the literary equivalent of the Giza pyramid complex.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-reviews-thomas-friedman-book-thank-you-for-being-late-w453529

    Taibbi POMOs it well.

  3. Willard says:

    One of greatest joy of POMO is that one can POMO POMO:

    Bourdieu‘s another famous POMOer.

  4. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    One of my most fave websites from the 90s… Though has been spruced up lately.

    http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

    Keep refreshing the page…

  5. Willard says:

    POMO gave “narrative” to the world. See it in action:

    https://twitter.com/search?q=narrative

    For instance:

  6. Willard says:

    POMO can suck. POMO can be great. POMO can both suck and be great at the same time:

  7. angech says:

    Lost.
    A little more definition or an explanation please.
    BTW, could you do a post on definitions of a scam and why either or one point of view has these features?
    e,g. over the top promises.Too good/bad to be true. Lack of falsifiability etc.
    And why people fall for them?
    Personally I feel people promoting them should know but I have had friend [ahem] who fe;; for a 2% a day return scam.
    He actively believed and promoted it as one of the scammees and was most upset with me when I somehow got him to see the light and saved his money.
    Personally I feel I am right just as all of you do. I”know” I am not a scammer so in your eyes I must be a scammee.
    And vice versa.
    How does one open others eyes.
    Can we see the too good to be true in our own beliefs.

    .

  8. JCH says:

    Can we see the too good to be true in our own beliefs.

    Apparently not.

  9. Willard says:

    > A little more definition or an explanation please.

    POMO’s a two-step method. First, document. Second, interpret. That’s it.

    Look at how I wrote the post. Or read back the blurb in Professor Fleming’s tweet – the authors draw on Bourdieu, Durkheim, and Dewey to present a new theorical framework for race scholarship. So they document a conceptual background, which they interpret for their new theory. Professor Fleming does a similar two-step: she shows a blurb, and interprets it as the usual white male sociological crap.

    Here’s my methodological guideline. More documentation, good POMO. More interpretation, bad POMO. I might be biased, as I find there’s too much commentary in general.

    Add testing to this two-step method and you got science.

    ***

    > could you do a post on definitions of a scam
    ­
    I don’t believe much in definitions, Doc, but beware your wishes:

    Sokal should have done a bit more background research.

  10. Ron Graf says:

    JCH, the too good to be true aspect reflects the awesome power of confirmation bias. We continually are looking for the golden nuggets of treasure of confirmation while tossing the dross of the mis-colored or misshapen stones. It is only through adversarial debate that we are forced to defend our beliefs. Through history it’s often seen one is more willing to vanquish one’s adversary rather than release a wrong belief.

    The answer is welcoming and fostering fair debate in which we can trust our adversary enough to have dialogue without risk or fear of getting gutted.

  11. JCH says:

    I’ll make this simple. I do not trust you. At all.

  12. jacksmith4tx says:

    And humans trust machines more than they do other humans.
    Did I ever tell you about the time my alarm clock woke me up an hour early? No? Well it never happened so one of us is lying. My clock says it 5:06 PM UTC

  13. izen says:

    Trust, but verify.

  14. JCH says:

    You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. True or false
    /
    Real history, intelligent white men were so reluctant to yell “fire” in crowded theaters/other buildings that 100s of people were dying. So fire marshals fired the men folk and hired robots: fire alarms.

    The fire alarms malfunction and go off, so people started ignoring them. They were staying in their apartments and condos in high-rises. So the fire marshals demanded new robots be installed that are so freaking offensive you cannot stay in there. False alarm or not, you have to flee the building in order to get away from the alarm.

  15. Willard says:

    Why, of course there’s a social construction of firefighting:

    This construction of the masculine self and demonstrates this tradition has been an integral part of dissertation explores changing ideas on constructing the self. In particular it focuses on the firefighters’ identity. The changing institution of the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) means that firefighters’ self-identity is under challenge and this paper argues that in general there are problems to be reconciled for the male self within the context of new institutional demands and change. The conclusions it draws demonstrate a recognition of how the systems and objectives of change affect the individual firefighters’ self-identity, which may be in a state of ‘identity crisis’. This claim is substantiated by exploring concepts which suggest that the firefighter is trying to reconcile traditional configurations of ‘self’ with institutional objectives geared towards the emergence of a ‘new individual’. [Etc.]

    Not much documentation there.

  16. Steven Mosher says:

    “http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

    Keep refreshing the page…”

    failed my turing test.

  17. Steven Mosher says:

    Most generators like this are pathetically bad. The main reason is they can only operate at the semantic level. They strive to get the ‘words” right. But, they never get the “logic” of Post Modern Thought correct. Ever.

  18. Ron Graf says:

    JCH: “I’ll make this simple. I do not trust you. At all.”

    Actually, you only distrust my comments that can be related to harming liberal politics. This the situation in most of the English speaking world because they still enjoy free speech.
    In parts where that freedom is absent one can’t trust who would not gut them. War and annihilation are attractive solutions then.

  19. Willard says:

    Chill, please.

    Meanwhile:

  20. Steven Mosher says:

    Too funny the finding “from’ a store

    cant be an english speaker

    http://www.snopes.com/katrina/photos/looters.asp

  21. Steven Mosher says:

    “POMO’s a two-step method. First, document. Second, interpret. That’s it.”

    Argg. There is nothing but this in any field.

    “Add testing to this two-step method and you got science.’

    Let see. Unless your talking about stamp collecting, most fields use the two step method. Document and interpret. Kinda talmudic. you cite the text or the evidence and then you interpret.
    Too much doucmentation and no interpretation and you have stamp collecting. Too much interpretation and well you probably have metaphysics. What makes POMO unique is the style
    of interpretation, or its underlying logic. The derridean approach to a text is radically different
    than say Foucault or DeMan. But nevermind as long as we stay at a general level: its two steps
    document and interpret (respond) then there is nothing unique or objectional about POMO.
    I liked it it had a good beat and you can dance to it.

    As for the ‘add testing’ and you have science, part of me agrees with Willard. Lets see
    Long ago there was a critical theory called ‘New Criticism” The central tenet was the work of art was an organic thing as opposed to a mechanical thing. Example. If you replace a tire on a car its still a car. And what organicist argued was that the meaning of a work of art would change if you changed one of its parts– like replace a single word. So the method was basically to document and interpret this perfection. And you guess it most interpretations ended up with the art being about the process of art. texts all end up being self reflective, self contained. You showed your chops as a new critic by being able to turn any text into a discourse about it self.

    Appeared to me as a graduate student that this was testable. Could we replace words and have the “same” meaning. Kinda got me started on working with computers and texts and generating stuff.
    ( there was another ghost in the machine argument but I wont go into that )

    So question: since I added testing does that make it “science”?

    The stronger question, to problematize, willards formulation is this. Can we have a science without testing. Is geology a science? Astronomy? Now of course we can make predictions about astronomy, geology, and we can even make predictions about history. A field may be testable, but what if no one actually ever does the tests? What do we call a science before people figure out how to do tests or actually perform them. Was evolution not a science until we started to do tests about it?

    There is still another way to look at this. When people interpret a document ( or any thing else)
    they are doing testing. They are testing that their theory of interpretation can make sense or ‘comprehend’ all texts. If your theory is that authorial “spirit” or identity generates the text, then you demonstrate that theory by using on on various authors. Or if you thought that class struggle was the data generating model, then you test that by using that interpretation scheme on writings or institutions. In the end That is what made POMO or any purely interpretive behavior boring for me. Not wrong, but boring, childs play. Once you understood the underlying logic of the method, you could apply it in all circumstances. you could deconstruct a medicine label. So what’s science?
    probably those fields that allow for the existence of the inexplicible . Science admits ignorance and error. There is shit ( facts, documents ) that the existing methods cant comprehend. Its not testing and progress that defines science, but the opposite. Its the acknowledgement of the existence of stuff we dont understand that makes science somewhat different

  22. Ron Graf says:

    “Science admits ignorance and error.”

    Yes, but not only that. Science looks for error and invites challenge. A hundred tests that prove a theory right do not outweigh the one test that proves it wrong (to paraphrase Einstein).

  23. Steven Mosher says:

    Ron.. one test doesnt prove anything wrong.
    the test itself can be wrong
    the data can be wrong.

    you have this myth about testing that you must have learned from philosophy.
    stop reading that shit and observe how scientists actually behave

  24. Willard says:

    ­> There is nothing but this in any field.

    Exactly my point. POMO’s like everything else. The best way to counter “but POMO makes no sense!” is to remind that POMO works the same way as everything else. Granted, it’s seldom easy to grok. But even that tends to change.

    POMOers don’t have a monopoly on abstruseness. Jim Hansen, for instance, is seldom very clear.

    ***

    ­> What makes POMO unique is the style
    of interpretation, or its underlying logic.

    Style is the most obvious trait by which we can recognize POMO, but I think POMO’s hallmark is what it does, not how it does it. Hence why I focus on problematization. There are other ways to problematize than Foucault’s own schtick. They all share its critical aspect.

    POMO can target just about any topic, e.g. firefighting above. POMO can’t be said to have a practical component, as I don’t think deconstruction and litcrit is very practical.

    An interesting alternative would be to talk about actuality – POMO questions stuff that matters in society at the moment it’s being done. Analytical philosophy isn’t constrained that way.

    ***

    > Is geology a science?

    Are you suggesting geologists don’t test?

    Testing doesn’t imply testability. Testability did not work out. Testing’s here to stay.

  25. izen says:

    @-SM
    “Long ago there was a critical theory called ‘New Criticism” The central tenet was the work of art was an organic thing as opposed to a mechanical thing.”

    I think that may be a later corruption (as is Foucault) of the original root.

    https://archive.org/details/practicalcritici030142mbp

  26. Willard says:

    Thanks, izen.

    This is brilliant:

    Enough, for the moment, about the documentation of this book. My second aim is more ambitious and requires more explanation. It forms part of a general attempt to modify our procedure in certain forms of discussion. There are subjects mathematics, physics and the descriptive sciences supply some of them which can be discussed in terms of verifiable facts and precise hypotheses. There are other subjects the concrete affairs of commerce, law, organisation and police work which can be handled by rules of thumb and generally accepted conven assumptions, adumbrations, fictions, prejudices, tenets ; the sphere of random beliefs and hopeful guesses ; the whole world, in brief, of abstract opinion and disputation about matters of feeling. To this world belongs everything about which civilised man cares most. I need only instance ethics, metaphysics, morals, religion, aesthetics, and the discussions surrounding liberty, nationality, justice, love, truth, faith and knowledge to make this plain. As a subject-matter for discussion, poetry is a central and typical denizen of this world. It is so both by its own nature and by the type of discussion with which it is tradi- tionally associated. It serves, therefore, as an emin- ently suitable bait for anyone who wishes to trap the current opinions and responses in this middle field for the purpose of examining and comparing them, and with a view to advancing our knowledge of what may be called the natural history of human opinions and feelings.

  27. Ron Graf says:

    Willard, I am admittedly have never studied POMO. It seems kin to the psychology of influence and persuasive proposition.

    From Practical Criticism (link provided by izen):
    “There are subjects mathematics, physics and the descriptive sciences supply some of them which can be discussed in terms of verifiable facts and precise hypotheses. There are other subjects the concrete affairs of commerce, law, organisation and police work which can be handled by rules of thumb and generally accepted conventions. But in between is the vast corpus of problems, assumptions, adumbrations, fictions, prejudices, tenets; the sphere of random beliefs and hopeful
    guesses; the whole world, in brief, of abstract opinion and disputation about matters of feeling. To this world belongs everything about which civilized man cares most. I need only instance ethics, metaphysics, morals, religion, aesthetics, and the discussions surrounding liberty, nationality, justice, love, truth, faith and knowledge to make this plain. As a subject-matter for discussion, poetry is a central and typical denizen of this world. It is so both by its own nature and by the type of discussion with which it is traditionally associated.”

    So, if I make a point about free speech being the key to world piece in a stark and cold manner it is not palatable. I suppose the art of influence is one part truth but an equally important part, making it palatable. This is why before offering a criticism it’s wise to offer praise — to whet the palate.

    Steven, I saw your story about Feynman being a hypocrite. He told the scientist to ignore the failed experiment and keep going. Of course, experiments are hard to set up and mistakes can be made, data can be contaminated. My point was that science invites failure in its core ethic, which separates it from all other sources of doctrine. This is why Feynman taught the scientific ethic of being conservative in claims, humble and free of jargon when speaking to laymen.

  28. Ron Graf says:

    Willard, we saw the same text as profound in a cross-post. I suppose anything is possible now!

  29. Willard says:

    > It seems kin to the psychology of influence and persuasive proposition.

    Yes, insofar as one of the goal of criticizing is to get things done:

    Critical theory (or “social critical theory”)is a school of thought that stresses the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities. As a term, critical theory has two meanings with different origins and histories: the first originated in sociology and the second originated in literary criticism, whereby it is used and applied as an umbrella term that can describe a theory founded upon critique; thus, the theorist Max Horkheimer described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them“.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory

    This emanticipation is assumed to work by showing how things are, and why they are the way they are. This is what I call interpretation earlier, and it contrasts with argumentation, at least the way analytic philosophers conceive it.

    So there’s more seduction going on in POMO. If you can’t convince, you need to persuade. Anything goes, then: metaphors, plays of words, neologisms, novel-like prose, allusions, etc. About anything, as Richards underline. In his masterpiece, Words and Things, Foucault interprets Las Meninas as our entry point into modernity. His problematization is introduced with Borgès’ Celestial Emporium.

    POMO’s an acquired taste.

  30. Steven Mosher says:

    “I think that may be a later corruption (as is Foucault) of the original root.”

    err No we ordinarily recognize Richards as one of the founders Of the New Criticism
    al,along with Ogden

    Kinda what I did in grad school, but whatever

  31. Steven Mosher says:

    “Testing doesn’t imply testability. Testability did not work out. Testing’s here to stay.”

    We dont disagree. Was evolution a science before they started testing?
    What does it mean to ‘test’?

    A geologist tells me that This valley was formed by such an such a process.
    Did he test that? is it even remotely testable… yaya get a second earth..

    There is something more needed than testing.

    I’ll return to the style question later. but essentially all fields problematize.

  32. Steven Mosher says:

    Just a few random observations.

    “POMO can target just about any topic, e.g. firefighting above. POMO can’t be said to have a practical component, as I don’t think deconstruction and litcrit is very practical.”

    This is a standard charge. It’s not practical. Returning to new criticism, one of the charges was that it was not practical. That is, if art was merely about itself, then it could not be used to change lives, to change culture, to change the way we view ourselves. It was criticized for being too apolitical.
    It left the status quo standing.
    So a Jungian critic might argue that Art had a healing aspect that we could only uncover if we attended to the archtypes. Marxists would complain that New criticism was impractical because you could not radicalize students with new criticism. POMO was just another reaction to the New criticism. Some POMO had a definite political slant and purpose. Other POMO, like deconstruction, was attacked as being apolitical, or even right wing fascist (DeMann). Imagine this: Some people in the arts wanted to “do” something “practical”. As if reading texts and making sense of them is impractical

    As you note all fields do the two step . you did a two step on POMO.
    was it practical? Did it have a point? a use? Or is it only practical if you do testing?
    what kind of testing? The point: practical is a pretty weak point to hang your criticism on.

    At some point some practicioners of POMO would of course attack the notion of practicality.
    This is why for example Derrida would talk about playing with a text. Basically to problematize practicality. One way to think about it is this. People use texts to try to justify their actions and do things and to influence others: “POMO is impractical, you should avoid it. Its an aquired taste like eating bugs.” In one sense some POMO ( like deconstruction) tries to stop people from doing stuff with texts, to take the power away from texts as sources of knowledge at the same time they create texts. Hint: the better word is we Ironize, not problematize.

    As for Litcrit practicality…in general…. you realize that I A Richards was an influence on AJ ayers and logical postivism. see:
    “The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism”

  33. Ron Graf says:

    Willard, I am trying to differentiate POMO from concept marketing or propaganda. I suppose the latter two are implying utilitarian ulterior motive. Whereas POMO implies sincere sharing of an enlightenment experience. Am I getting this?

  34. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steven, I saw your story about Feynman being a hypocrite. He told the scientist to ignore the failed experiment and keep going. Of course, experiments are hard to set up and mistakes can be made, data can be contaminated. My point was that science invites failure in its core ethic, which separates it from all other sources of doctrine. ”

    Hypocrit? No. I pointed out that he described science One way to freshman when he was trying to be free of jargon, when he was trying to play the expert on science and he acted a different way when he was actually doing science. What’s funnier is his exoert opinion that science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. Ponder that and you will have done a deconstruction: it’s very practical.

    Finally: how does one invite failure?
    I’m a derridean. I read a text. I give an interpretation. I invite you to read it differently and show me my error. Am I inviting failure? of course.

  35. Steven Mosher says:

    “Willard, I am trying to differentiate POMO from concept marketing or propaganda. I suppose the latter two are implying utilitarian ulterior motive. Whereas POMO implies sincere sharing of an enlightenment experience. Am I getting this?”

    No. The problem lies with willards over generalized theory of the POMO genre.
    Its a typical lit crit failure. You realize he is doing lit crit without knowing it.

  36. Willard says:

    > I am trying to differentiate POMO from concept marketing or propaganda.

    Don’t push it, RonG.

    ***

    > Its a typical lit crit failure.

    God, you’re [just jerking my chain] sometimes, Mosh.

  37. Willard says:

    > As if reading texts and making sense of them is impractical

    The relevant opposite to practical is theorical, not impractical.

  38. Willard says:

    > What does it mean to ‘test’?

    To experiment.

    Now, ask me what it means to experiment.

  39. Steven Mosher says:

    “To experiment.

    Now, ask me what it means to experiment.”

    No that would be too easy and not move the discussion forward.

    Its easy just to engage with Honor Willard.

    Some people might describe experimenting as a specialized control of the enviroment. We hold some things constant and change other things.

    When you develop a theory of the POMO genre by using the exemplar of Michel, is it testing or experimenting when you apply that theory to other examples? I say that’s testing.
    I say its pretty hard to not test your ideas and theories regardless of what they are.

    You can come at this demarcation problem anyway you like and you still know there is a philosophical problem at the bottom.

  40. Steven Mosher says:

    “The relevant opposite to practical is theorical, not impractical.”

    I can live with that. In this case the practical is seen as actually doing something ( typically empirical, or hands on) while the theoric is denegrated as doing nothing, being in an ivory tower,
    lost in a world of ideas as opposed to things. As we would say the appeal to the practical merely reinscribes western logocentric hierarchies under different names

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    People should be aware ( as willard is) what exactly I am doing.
    It’s an acquired taste and its fun, but it gets boring after a while,

    The opposite of practical is fun or playful, what derrida would call free play

  42. Steven Mosher says:

    “Willard, I am trying to differentiate POMO from concept marketing or propaganda. I suppose the latter two are implying utilitarian ulterior motive. ”

    Lets see. Propaganda,, like “Make america great again” has a serious ‘practical’ ( willard might say) purpose. It is trying to do something with words. It is trying to get you to do something practical and serious. Vote for trump. Same goes for marketing. We are using words to make you act in practical ways for our practical purposes.

    There are ways to “go pomo” on that MAGA text. In all of them we are going to make the text appear other than it is in its naive literal meaning. The point is to disempower propaganda, the point is to turn the text against itself, or expose its origins in such a way that its rhetorics is destroyed or suspended or made to tremble.

    so like.. what does it mean to MAGA, was it ever great? when? why? Is it not great now?
    or one can point out that it works by not being specific about a problem.. it lets the listener fill in the problem. So to me MAGA means, great I get low taxes again. And to Skin head it means, great we get a fascist state, so its the lack of a specific vision that makes MAGA work as marketing or propaganda.

    The point being once I drag you into a discussion of that text and the theorics of it, it has ceased to operate as intended. POMO is monkey wrenching.

  43. Steven Mosher says:

    perhaps we can push on willards concept of testing or experiment.

    natural philosophy was of two minds concerning the speed of light. Empedocles believed that the speed of light was finite, Aristotle, believed that the speed of light was infinite

    word fights

    then galileo messed with the world and did experiments. he manipulated things and did measurements.

    this led to more word fights

    are thought experiements a part of science.

  44. Ron Graf says:

    Every generation of new culture want’s to have an enlightenment, especially if the old enlightenment is not fun.

    Science is exiting and fun so far as it promises to bring cool new things into the human experience. Once those new things seem unattractive or bleak there is a reaction to escape the harshness by poking fun or with romantic defiance. “They blinded me with science.”

    Everything can be explained by careful experiment. The question is do we really want to do that. After all, once you explain everything the world becomes boring.

  45. Ron Graf says:

    I meant “science is exciting…” But on second thought I realize that is not true for most people and almost all of the Islamic world or any culture with firmly rooted orthodox religion.

  46. Joshua says:

    Possibly complete OT…but…I think kinda sorta related (can’t exactly say because I can’t understand the convo)….but regardless, I think interesting and related to past discussions.

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/09/11/reed-college-course-lectures-canceled-after-student-protesters-interrupt-class#.WbZ7OYaLR0w.facebook

  47. izen says:

    @-SM
    “you realize that I A Richards was an influence on AJ ayers and logical postivism.”

    I think influence came from the Vienna circle on Richards.

    I have allways suspected Searle’s Chinese room argument for a ghost in the machine is based in some part on I A Richards ‘Mencious and the Mind’ on the impossibility of translating meaning from one set of symbols to another.

    At least if it is early Taoist philosophy.

  48. Willard says:

    > In this case the practical is seen as actually doing something ( typically empirical, or hands on) while the theoric is denegrated as doing nothing, being in an ivory tower,

    Even number theory can be useful. It’d be hard to do cryptocurrencies without it. The distinction I wish to convey rests on two observations. First, what a number theorist (say) produces has a different status than (say) someone who interprets the representation of masculinity among firefighters. Second, applying a theorical framework to a social problem does not lead to the same kind of deliverable as repurposing a theorical framework into another one.

    Let’s see a description of the second kind of work, about something that may interest ClimateBall players, i.e. denial:

    [L]et us go to another “other place,” which can be found in “How to Avoid Speaking.” Here Derrida discusses negative theology by means of the idea of “dénégation,” “denegation” or “denial.” The French word “dénégation” translates Freud’s term “Verneinung.” Both words’ prefixes imply an emphasis of negation (although the French prefix also implies a negation of a negation). Yet, within psychoanalysis and in particular in Freud, the term ,“Verneinung” implies that when the patient denies a desire or wish, he or she has indicated to the analyst precisely what he or she unconsciously desires or wishes. The denial then functions as a sort of disguised confirmation of the analyst’s interpretation of the patient’s symptoms or problem. In short, and this is what Derrida is most interested in, psychoanalysis has isolated a negation which is in fact an affirmation. The fundamental question then for negative theology, but also for psychoanalysis, and for Derrida is how to deny and yet also not deny. This duality between not telling and telling is why Derrida takes up the idea of the secret. In “How to Avoid Speaking,” Derrida says, and this is an important comment for understanding the secret in Derrida: “There is a secret of denial [dénégation] and a denial [dénégation] of the secret. The secret as such, as secret, separates and already institutes a negativity; it is a negation that denies itself. It de-negates itself” (Languages of the Unsayable, p. 25, my emphasis). Here Derrida speaks of a secret as such. A secret as such is something that must not be spoken; we then have the first negation: “I promise not to give the secret away.” And yet, in order to possess a secret really, to have it really, I must tell it to myself. Here we can see the relation of hearing-oneself-speak that we just saw in Voice and Phenomenon. Keeping a secret includes necessarily auto-affection: I must speak to myself of the secret. We might however say more, we might even say that I am too weak for this speaking of the secret to myself not to happen. I must have a conceptual grasp of it; I have to frame a representation of the secret. With the idea of a re-presentation (I must present the secret to myself again in order to possess it really), we also see retention, repetition, and the trace or a name. A trace of the secret must be formed, in which case, the secret is in principle shareable. If the secret must be necessarily shareable, it is always already shared. In other words, in order to frame the representation of the secret, I must negate the first negation, in which I promised not to tell the secret: I must tell the secret to myself as if I were someone else. I thereby make a second negation, a so to speak “de-” or ”un-negation,” which means I must break the promise not to tell the secret. In order to keep the secret (or the promise), I must necessarily not keep the secret (I must violate the promise). So, I possess the secret and do not possess it. This structure has the consequence of there being no secret as such. A secret is necessarily shared. As Derrida says in “How to Avoid Speaking,”

    This denial [dénégation] does not happen [to the secret] by accident; it is essential and originary. … The enigma … is the sharing of the secret, and not only shared to my partner in the society but the secret shared within itself, its ‘own’ partition, which divides the essence of a secret that cannot even appear to one alone except in starting to be lost, to divulge itself, hence to dissimulate itself, as secret, in showing itself: dissimulating its dissimulation. There is no secret as such; I deny it. And this is what I confide in secret to whomever allies himself to me. This is the secret of the alliance. (Languages of the Unsayable, p. 25)

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/derrida/

    There might very well be a practical application to this repurposing of psychoanalysis and Husserlian phenomenology, denial being more than a river in the Red States of America. But readers can feel the difference between this kind of work and (say) what we can read in gender studies. The number of theorical concepts per line is too damn high. This, to me, may explain why Derrida’s later works are more accessible, or rather less inaccessible.

  49. Willard says:

    > I realize that is not true for most people and almost all of the Islamic world or any culture with firmly rooted orthodox religion.

    C’mon, RonG. You just can’t help yourself, can you?

    Drop the freedom fightin’ for a change and try to think, or else you’ll have to face Derrida’s deconstruction of denial.

  50. Willard says:

    > I have allways suspected Searle’s Chinese room argument for a ghost in the machine is based in some part on I A Richards ‘Mencious and the Mind’ on the impossibility of translating meaning from one set of symbols to another.

    I never thought of that. What I know is that Richards wrote with Ogden, and that the Meaning of Meaning belongs to the philosophy of language’s cursus. More generally, I’d say that Richards’ work is more about analysis than criticism, to return to Michel’s distinction.

    Of course there’s no dichotomy between analysis and criticism. That should go without saying, but somehow I feel the need to say it now that Mosh’s playing Socrates. My main objective was to provide a portable POMO, not a Dewey classification of all its corpus. There’s no need to be absolutely crisp and clear on every detail. As long as it’s clear enough, my work is done.

  51. Willard says:

    > The point being once I drag you into a discussion of that text and the theorics of it, it [any propaganda or marketing message] has ceased to operate as intended. POMO is monkey wrenching.

    Another way to say the same thing would be to recall that propaganda and marketing are usually shorter than POMO outputs. One obvious reason is that POMO tries to unpack what propaganda and marketing conceal.

    More generally, and to get to what I believe is RonG’s point, interpreting doesn’t imply we get all relative about truth. Hence why I chose Michel’s conclusions about Parrhesia.

  52. Ron Graf says:

    “C’mon, RonG. You just can’t help yourself, can you?”

    Every comment I have made hear is with open hands and sincere desire to understand different philosophies. I am also expressing my thoughts with no overt of covert criticism of yours. If they conflict please feel free to enlighten or at least rationalize.

    I would agree that actual truth is harder to define than perception of truth. I think modernism’s fascination with truth exceeds practical necessity for it. We want to know answers surrounding anything we can become invested in perceiving, even if it’s just the ending of a novel. Modern technology is practically a by-product of insatiable curiosity.

    We live in very complicated times even as modern conveniences are designed to un-complicate our lives (according to marketing guarantees.)

    Willard, what is your goal for humanity? And, how does portable POMO fit in? If you share I promise not to ever throw it back at you. I will also not criticize. I am also curious about who you found most influential and why.

  53. Steven Mosher says:

    Izen

    I got my ideas for doing experiments from some early IA richards work

    See here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I._A._Richards

    Influence on Ayers

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Meaning_of_Meaning

  54. Steven Mosher says:

    “The number of theorical concepts per line is too damn high. ”

    Yes, everyone else I can read fast. With him every sentence was a struggle.

  55. Steven Mosher says:

    ” I have allways suspected Searle’s Chinese room argument for a ghost in the machine is based in some part on I A Richards ‘Mencious and the Mind’ on the impossibility of translating meaning from one set of symbols to another.”

    yes for New critics a poem or work of art was basically untranslatable.

    Like its own word.

    For ghost in the machine I wanted to generate literature via algorithm.
    as an attack on the notion that authorial intention controlled and produced the text.

    Essentially the production of a text is a series of limited choices that takes place in a pre existing
    system of language and a system of how humans make meaning… think archtypes
    This brings us back to the discussion about the “truth” of biblical stories.

    Think of it as memes we are evolutionarily bound to repeat.

    any way never finished.

    Now of course folks are working on staory telling machines

  56. Steven Mosher says:

    “My main objective was to provide a portable POMO, not a Dewey classification of all its corpus. There’s no need to be absolutely crisp and clear on every detail. As long as it’s clear enough, my work is done.”

    duly noted. and it was a good example.

  57. Willard says:

    Fair enough, RonG. I wasn’t ready for your religious comment. That’s all.

    I agree with you about our ambivalent relationship to Truth. Perhaps the myth of Icarus was meant to remind us that our need to converge toward truth may cause our demise if we take this ideal too seriously. I’m not sure humanity as a whole has a goal or should have one. Life seems worth more living by not knowing. AGW represents well our predicament: we’re all in it together, and we need to learn to deal with one another. Things sure get better, even if not fast enough for my own taste.

    My portable POMO wasn’t meant to solve any big mystery, except POMO itself. As someone who studied philosophy in French, I had to read that kind of lichurchur early on. While I can grok it well enough, I never was very fond of it. My own thinking (if not my writing) style fits analytic philosophy better. But I know quite a few POMOers, ironically most from the anglosphere. Their hearts are in the right place and they deserve credit for what they do. Writing that kind of thing is less easy than the Sokal affair makes believe.

    My own influences are a bit similar to my avatar, but I consider what I do as an old-fashioned elbow-patch ordinary language philosophy. If you have one philosophy book to read, I think I’d suggest How to do Things with Words. The philosophy book that brought me the most joy to read was maybe C.I. Lewis Mind and the World Order. No idea why it’s not popular. In fact, I don’t even know why I liked it so much. Perhaps its typography: Dover books are works of art. I could mention so many names of philosophers worth reading: Strawson, Goodman, Pettit, Rawls, Anscombe, etc. I forget so many names it’s unfair for all the otters, and I’m not that well-read!

    In any case, there are worse entry points into POMO than Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What? For something more easy going, Gary Gutting‘s NYT’s op-eds are hard to beat.

    ***

    From a ClimateBall perspective, one of the main difficulty with POMO is that it oftentimes commits too much. It goes from one claim to another, with vague justifications between them. This may rebuke more scientific-minded people. But it is what it is, and having a portable POMO can help delve into it.

    Hope this helps,

    W

  58. Ron Graf says:

    Thanks Willard. I might crack one of those open some winter Sunday.
    Re: climateball, both I and Steve McIntyre would admit that if AGW does not turn out to be a big problem it is no thanks to any great planning or foresight. We all agree humanity needs to improve.

  59. Steven Mosher says:

    more reasons to like Willard.
    It’s rare to find folks who can play on both continents philosophically.
    I think Rorty was the last Philosopher I read. Then I put it down and escaped the ivory tower.
    Doing things and making things was an amazing change from simply writing things and asking
    questions.

  60. izen says:

    @-SM
    “Essentially the production of a text is a series of limited choices that takes place in a pre existing
    system of language and a system of how humans make meaning… think archtypes”

    It certainly looks that way. I do not buy the ‘ghost in the machine’, I am content with human cognition being constrained by algorithm computability.

    But there seems to be something missing in the experimental approach. Algorithms run on learning neural nets and/or derived rules can produce passable Mozart… but fail miserably at producing anything close to Bach.

  61. Steven Mosher says:

    “But there seems to be something missing in the experimental approach. Algorithms run on learning neural nets and/or derived rules can produce passable Mozart… but fail miserably at producing anything close to Bach.”

    funny story. Around 1999 I interviewed a guy for a programming job. He was a piano salesman /musician with no engineering degree. Only a DOS machine and no windows experience. Why his machine was too lame. So I pulled a Mosh move.

    I told him about algorithmic composing. I handed him a book ( I think Pierce on Signals and noise)
    I gave him a machine with windows and told him to come back for a second interview when he could write a windows program and write me an algorithmic composer. ( I was playing with my own poetry bot) Three days later he came back with a program he called snowflake ( no two songs alike) Hired him on the spot.

    A little while later I was given the question about how to promote 3D audio, seemed to me what was missing was an authoring tool. I threw this guy my books on 3D and a couple papers on 3D audio, showed him a level editor ( I think the quake editor ) and said “build a tool for audio designers that lets them put sound in a 3D enviroment” short spec, he went way beyond anything I imagined

    Guy was a genius

    https://www.gamedev.net/articles/programming/general-and-gameplay-programming/3d-sound-in-games-r1130/

    That said, his program was no Bach. Give it time.

  62. Willard says:

    > how did you run into that

    What’s “that”? If it’s the Parrhesia stuff, it’s more than a decade ago – the guy who runs foucault.info also runs

    https://chomsky.info/

    One of my POMO friends sent me this after I sent her my Portable POMO:

    You can read it here:

    https://chomsky.info/1971xxxx/

    Nothing much happens there.

    Looking back at my archives (more difficult these days because G’s new custom search sucks), I also found:

    There are lots of authors I’m not sure I will try to defend, but I am quite sure I will never try to defend Rorty (mentioned in #13), or, for that matter, Derrida.

    Way too sophisticated for my Realist mind.

    https://thepolicylass.org/2010/10/30/open-thread-2/#comment-3181

  63. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    SM:

    I think Rorty was the last Philosopher I read. Then I put it down and escaped the ivory tower.
    Doing things and making things was an amazing change from simply writing things and asking
    questions.

    There is no need for disjunction.

    In fact – If you are not writing things and asking questions while you are doing and making things, then you may as well hand the job over to an automaton.

    While there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path, there is nevertheless, a path.

    Philosophy, like the Devil, has many names.
    The books of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and the stand-up of George Carlin are, to my mind, some kind of philosophy.
    The performance of a scientific experiment is also ‘doing’ some kind of philosophy.


    That said, his program was no Bach. Give it time.

    An infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of church organs could invent tonal music with four-part harmony, counterpoint, and modulations – they should even re-invent The Well-Tempered Clavier.

    But, then, the monkeys wouldn’t be burdened by the need to recognize the value of the chromatic order, or of equal-temperament, first.

    I think it will be a while before an algorithm named Arnold can truthfully say “I’ll be Bach”.

    Meanwhile, please deposit your coda into the Johann Suggestion Box.

  64. Willard says:

    > The books of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and the stand-up of George Carlin are, to my mind, some kind of philosophy.

    To Martha Nussbaum’s mind too. Iris Murdoch, who began as a philosopher and became a novellist, was a little more circumspect. (It’s about time I pay lips service to women philosophers.) Here’s a critical review:

    This paper examines the relation between philosophy and literature through an analysis of claims made by Martha Nussbaum regarding the contribution novels can make to moral philosophy. Perhaps her most controversial assertion is that some novels are themselves works of moral philosophy. I contrast Nussbaum’s view with that of Iris Murdoch. I discuss three claims which are fundamental to Nussbaum’s position: the relation between writing style and content; philosophy’s inadequacy in preparing agents for moral life because of its reliance on rules; and the usefulness of the moral work engaged in by readers of novels. The evaluation of these claims requires a discussion of the nature of philosophy. I find that Murdoch and Nussbaum agree on the ability of literature to contribute to moral understanding, but disagree on the issue of what philosophy is. Therefore, they disagree on the question of whether certain works of fiction are also works of philosophy. I argue that the task Nussbaum assigns philosophy is too broad. Through the use of critical and reflective methods, philosophy should examine and sort moral claims. Literary, philosophical and religious texts contribute to moral eduction; keeping them separate helps us appreciate their distinct contributions, as well as respect their distinct aims and methods. Therefore, I conclude that Nussbaum’s inclusion of certain novels in philosophy cannot be sustained.

    https://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lite/LiteHoll.htm

    Some POMO should be read as lichurchur. Not only POMO. Bergson too. The last pages of **Les Deux Sources de la morale et de la religion** are one of the most arm-hair-raising ones I’ve ever read.

  65. Steven Mosher says:

    the infinite monkeys… i think it was swift in gulluvers travels was what got me thinking.

    you see letters in words have transition probabilities. markov chain. think shannon entropy. now expand.. words also are structured sequentially. having chosen an article just so many kinds of words follow can. so apply chomsky grammatical trees.
    recursive of course but there is a limit. a stack limit as it were.
    then come semantic limits on what can be chosen.beyond that limits of genre..

    same with music.. sorta..

    anyway this was before nn so all of the stuff i did was rule governed. with some randomness thrown in.

    the point being at too much randomness or novelty the entropy in a shannon sense goes really high and it looks like noise …gibberish.
    too little entropy and its boring..blah blah blah…

    goldy locks.

  66. Willard says:

    Stoopid modulz:

  67. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    It’s about time I pay lips service to women philosophers.

    I once had a very smart and spirited cat whom I called Hypatia.
    She was my muse.


    goldy locks.

    I dunna think music or lichurchur are S/N optimization problems, Mr Mosher.

    In “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, the three beds were a given.
    Highly constrained problem.
    Chosing the right bed is a waaaay simpler thing than inventing a popular story involving porridge, beds, and talking bears.

    The one thing we can say for sure about entropy: It ain’t what it used to be.

  68. izen says:

    @-SM
    “the point being at too much randomness or novelty the entropy in a shannon sense goes really high and it looks like noise …gibberish.
    too little entropy and its boring..blah blah blah…”

    You need a Demon of the second kind….
    https://everything2.com/title/Demon+of+the+Second+Kind

  69. Ron Graf says:

    “the point being at too much randomness or novelty the entropy in a shannon sense goes really high and it looks like noise …gibberish.
    too little entropy and its boring..blah blah blah…”

    All of life and every living aspiration is the result of a pirating of energy and redirecting its otherwise random dissipation. The mix of energy and entropy in our universe is deemed by some theoretical physicists to be at optimal mix, leading some to believe in a divine hand and others to believe we are Bach typed out by a zillion monkeys on a zillion typewriters. The later would be from being one of an almost infinite number of universes, either in parallel existence or of recursive evolution. But there I go again, spoiling the beauty and romance by describing the chemical reactions in the fireworks.

  70. angech says:

    Wow.
    Left the thread for a while, have a life to lead and I come back and get all this.
    I miss my daily dose of Mosher and I get a smorgasbord.
    Plus a little bit of sober Willis and Ron with no bun fights.

  71. angech says:

    I am slow. Not happy.
    Explain how a test proving something wrong is not adequate because somehow it is only one test that may have been wrong itself?
    When I use the term test, as Feynman did, it means a reproducible proof the concept is wrong every time that you test test.
    Not some off exception example that proves the concept.
    Otherwise it would not be a test would it.
    Sounds like some contradictions might be biting home.

  72. Willard says:

    > Explain how a test proving something wrong is not adequate because somehow it is only one test that may have been wrong itself?

    Instrument error. Ill-posed question. Statistical outlier. Etc.

    Take the last faster-than-the-speed-of-light fiasco:

    In February 2012, the OPERA collaboration announced two possible sources of error that could have significantly influenced the results.

    A link from a GPS receiver to the OPERA master clock was loose, which increased the delay through the fiber. The glitch’s effect was to decrease the reported flight time of the neutrinos by 73 ns, making them seem faster than light

    A clock on an electronic board ticked faster than its expected 10 MHz frequency, lengthening the reported flight-time of neutrinos, thereby somewhat reducing the seeming faster-than-light effect. OPERA stated the component had been operating outside its specifications.

    In March 2012 an LNGS seminar was held, confirming the fiber cable was not fully screwed in during data gathering. LVD researchers compared the timing data for cosmic high-energy muons hitting both the OPERA and the nearby LVD detector between 2007–2008, 2008–2011, and 2011–2012. The shift obtained for the 2008–2011 period agreed with the OPERA anomaly. The researchers also found photographs showing the cable had been loose by October 13, 2011.

    Correcting for the two newly found sources of error, results for neutrino speed appear to be consistent with the speed of light

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light_neutrino_anomaly#Measurement_errors

  73. izen says:

    @-angtech
    “When I use the term test, as Feynman did, it means a reproducible proof the concept is wrong every time that you test test.”

    Humpty-dumpty had a similar approach to words.

    Popperian epistemologists may erect a reified definition of a experimental test, and the implications for theory, but that does not always match with the actual use, context and reality of experimentation.

    When Einstein was faced with the ‘single experimental result’ that refuted his theory of general relativity in 1926, and again in 1933 by Dayton Miller he did not abandon his theory.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/11/6/306

    He looked at the experimental setup, and decided to wait for ‘better results’.

  74. Steven Mosher says:

    “I dunna think music or lichurchur are S/N optimization problems, Mr Mosher.”

    I probably should have explained better.

    Its not about optimizing S/N. But rather this.
    If you have a string of symbols that is highly predictable (low entropy) it is, well, boring.
    If you have a string of symbols that is highly unpredictable (high information or high entropy)
    Then it noise.

    if you have the right amount of unpredictablity ( novelty) then it is interesting.

    How much?

  75. Steven Mosher says:

    reverend.

    You realize the version of Goldilocks you know is actually not the orginal.
    The orginal had an old woman.
    You understand the trickster theme? trespass? what happens when you cross boundaries
    All fairy tales are strictly formuliac, algorithmic.

    oh ya, in the end the child promises to never disobey the parent. IMAGINE THAT!
    who would guess this is the kind fo story you tell a kid.

  76. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Mosher,

    I get that the there is ideally an optimum ratio of order versus disorder in an “interesting” string of characters – in a fairly tale, or any other “interesting” text.

    The point I’ve been attempting to make is that no would care about such a string of characters were it not for the presumption of readers who chose to interpret the character strings and find meaning and morals in them.

    In other words – “All fairy tales are strictly formuliac, algorithmic.” may be true – Once you’ve chosen the language of the text, the cadence of the writing, the “trickster theme”, the notion of “trespass”, and a kid with an ethical choice…

    But whence came that genre in the first place?

    You do not seem to appreciate how Very Highly Constrained a ‘fairly tale’ algorithm would have to be to produce anything worth reading, much less “interesting”.

    It’s the same with our earlier example of Bach.
    I’m sure someone has already written code that can produce passable Bach-like music.
    But – So what?
    Bach’s written music is only a small part of why Bach was a genius.
    Bach re-defined the whole ‘problem’ of music by moving it from modal to tonal structures.
    He did things with modulation that were “outside the boundary conditions” that were assumed.
    He used equal temperament and the chromatic order in ways that were, at the time, rather bizarre and not in the ‘play-book’.
    He actually played the music he wrote – for people – some if whom ‘cared’ enough to ‘get’ what J.S. was doing, and even be fascinated by it.

    Look – this sequence of numbers
    825 342 117 067
    doesn’t look very “interesting”.

    What if I told you that those digits are the 89th to 100th digits of ‘Pi’?
    Now you have something that would have astonished any mathematician prior to 1700.

    To paraphrase Willard from the OP:
    POMOs ask themselves about the all the conditions for “things” to become “interesting”.
    That includes the concept of “thing,” it goes without saying, and even kinds of things.

    Also, the concept of “interesting”. Or as teh POMOs might put it: “Problematization”.

  77. Willard says:

    > POMOs ask themselves about the all the conditions for “things” to become “interesting”

    And if we extend to “fascinating” we get Vulcan POMO:

  78. Steven Mosher says:

    “But whence came that genre in the first place?”

    why is there something rather than nothing?

    Of course there are stories about how stories are created

    Recall the discussion the other day WRT Pederson.

    The better question is why some structures persist. The question about genesis of genre’s doesnt preclude us
    from noting the structure or law and how it constrains tellable ( read interesting ) stories, anymore than the questions about the origins of life preclude us from observing the mechanisms of evolution, inheritance etc.

  79. Steven Mosher says:

    “The point I’ve been attempting to make is that no would care about such a string of characters were it not for the presumption of readers who chose to interpret the character strings and find meaning and morals in them.”

    we are rather built to impute meaning wherever we can. Look at those stars.. see the pattern. there must be some meaning. we dont choose to find meaning. Our system is built to look for it because you know everything happens for a reason, even if it doesnt.

    Recall Weinstein the other day ( on rogan) with his example of the myth that everything happens for a reason.

  80. Steven Mosher says:

    “You do not seem to appreciate how Very Highly Constrained a ‘fairly tale’ algorithm would have to be to produce anything worth reading, much less “interesting”.”

    The first algorithm I wrote in the 80’s was brutally simple. I would post output on my office door.
    The reactions were amazing as people conjoured up all manner of meanings.
    In other words, not very constrained at all, just the right constraints.
    was it worth reading? hmm, as memorable as Lenard Nimoy Poems.
    were they interesting? for some people yes. Rorshack.

    NLG was just a dream then

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/07/the-six-main-arcs-in-storytelling-identified-by-a-computer/490733/

    http://wikis.sub.uni-hamburg.de/lhn/index.php/Story_Generator_Algorithms

  81. Steven Mosher says:

    “It’s the same with our earlier example of Bach.
    I’m sure someone has already written code that can produce passable Bach-like music.
    But – So what?”

    Ah the so what. The so what had to do with theories of art and the role of art in culture and
    the priviledged status of the artist.

  82. Steven Mosher says:

    “To paraphrase Willard from the OP:
    POMOs ask themselves about the all the conditions for “things” to become “interesting”.

    Ah no, the concept of interesting is employed by everyone. I get this all the time from Muller
    when I suggest various studies around the temperature series. The science, ya know, has to be interesting, not just stamp collecting.

    I think some journals, oh ya, also only consider science that is “interesting”

    What get’s our interest? why? fascinating questions.

  83. Steven Mosher says:

    “He did things with modulation that were “outside the boundary conditions” that were assumed.
    He used equal temperament and the chromatic order in ways that were, at the time, rather bizarre and not in the ‘play-book’.”

    Precisely what I am saying.

  84. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    The priviledged status of the artist:

  85. Steven Mosher says:

    The reverance folks have for Bach has always been funny to me. Folks generally dont get that historically most artists were considered craftsman until the begining of the cult of the artist as genius.

    bach worshippers are the worst of the lot

  86. izen says:

    @-rev
    “I’m sure someone has already written code that can produce passable Bach-like music.”

    I have not found anything that even comes close.
    When I said there were systems that could generate passable Mozart I was been generous. Bordeline Salieri might be more accurate. (grin)

    There are moderately succesful programs that can ‘improvise’ in a jazz-like style to a given chord structure. They have the character of being okay locally, but uninteresting/banal globally.

    Perhaps another quote from Lem’s Cyberiad is apposite.
    In one story a poetic bard robot is made. It is challenged to write –

    “– a poem about a haircut! But lofty, noble, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter s!!”

    It suceeds.
    Or at least Lem and his translator do!

  87. izen says:

    @-SM
    “bach worshippers are the worst of the lot”

    As you point out, the priviledge status of the artist is a recent fashion. Bach was never that. He was not even a craftsman, just a provincial choir-master who had arguments with his church employer about how much wood they gave him in the winter. Any knowledge about the person is dwarfed by the amount of music he wrote.
    Kind of the opposite of many contempory ‘artists’.

    Perhaps it is hard to grasp his status, and how it has emerged, if you are not interested in music. Think of him as a combination of Gregor Mendal, figuring out the basis for hereditry outside the mainstream with Einstein overturning our conventional view of the universe and replacing it with a vastly larger, and more interesting one.

    Much of musical theory is about rules and structure. It might seem amenable to computational generation, but the results so far are most often like that of the Demon of the second kind.
    It produces a lot of music that is ‘true’, but not very interesting.

    Of course there are people worse than the Bach worshippers. People who regard Bach and the tempered scale as destroying a much deeper and more complex musical tradition of medieval poliphony.

  88. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Precisely what I am saying.

    No.
    Nice try, Steven.
    What you’ve been warbling on about is “strictly formuliac, algorithmic”.
    Which is not “interesting” – which is my point.
    If I were commenting on Climate Etc., I’d say “Read harder.”
    Here, I will just say “kindly refrain from appropriating”.


    The reverance folks have for Bach…
    bach worshippers are the worst of the lot

    It’s not ‘reverence’ or ‘worship’ of Bach to point out that Bach did more than any algorithm could possibly do.
    Precisely nothing within my comments hinges on the particular choice of J. S. Bach.
    Where you see “Bach”, substitute “Duke Ellington”, or “John Cage” or “Sid Vicious” if that turns your crank.
    I reserve the right to draw the line at “Insane Clown Posse”.

  89. angech says:

    The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:
    “I get that the there is ideally an optimum ratio of order versus disorder in an “interesting” string of characters – in a fairly tale, or any other “interesting” text.
    Look – this sequence of numbers 825 342 117 067 doesn’t look very “interesting”.
    What if I told you that those digits are the 89th to 100th digits of ‘Pi’?”

    Off the top of my head I would state that it shows an interesting side effect of this type of seemingly erratic number sequencing for Pi.
    I would propose that there could be no 00 in such a sequence and probably no 3 in a row repetition of any other number.
    Would that be right, Reverend?

  90. Ron Graf says:

    What is interesting? Why is a sentence written on piece of paper by Jennifer Lawrence or Kylie Jenner vastly more interesting that the same act by a bystander, which is more interesting than a randomly generated sentence from a machine? Meaning is a human creation. POMO is an attempt to ascribe meaning without the necessity of an objective rationalization.

  91. Willard says:

    > POMO is an attempt to ascribe meaning without the necessity of an objective rationalization.

    This sentence is unrelated to all the others from your comment, RonG, and I have no idea what you mean by “the necessity of an objective rationalization.”

    Furthermore, there’s no need for any POMO to see that you’ve coatracked earlier the Auditor with you and planning or foresight for no obvious reason. While the risks behind AGW aren’t directly related to our beliefs, they *are* indirectly related. The A in AGW provides a good hint.

  92. izen says:

    @-angtech
    “I would propose that there could be no 00 in such a sequence and probably no 3 in a row repetition of any other number.
    Would that be right,”

    No.
    And for reasons that do not require any calculation of the decimal expansion of Pi.
    Its an ‘irrational’ number, therefore it must have every possible combination of numerical sequences in its infinite expansion.
    Somewhere.

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-longest-repeated-number-sequence-in-Pis-decimal

    Math has a habit of short-circuiting POMO.

  93. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Math has a habit of short-circuiting POMO.

    And vice versa.

    Short circuits. Short circuits everywhere.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorems
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarski's_undefinability_theorem
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entscheidungsproblem
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem

    I don’t care whether you call it math or you call it POMO – it’s… interesting.

  94. Willard says:

    One of the last links in the post shows how to POMO maths.

  95. angech says:

    izen says:
    “I would propose that there could be no 00 in such a sequence and probably no 3 in a row repetition of any other number.
    No.And for reasons that do not require any calculation of the decimal expansion of Pi.
    Its an ‘irrational’ number, therefore it must have every possible combination of numerical sequences in its infinite expansion.Somewhere.”
    Thanks for those figures.
    I understand a completely irrational number having the scope for all sequences, just had never come a cross it in the shorter sequences.
    I was also aware that there is a mathematical expression of pi with factorial elements and I thought, wrongly that this would prevent the sort of divisibility needed to introduce a 00 anywhere. Thanks.

  96. Ron Graf says:

    ‘I have no idea what you mean by “the necessity of an objective rationalization”.’

    The purpose of most human aspirations can be traced to the betterment of the survival and conditions for individuals or humanity as a whole. Since happiness is related to conditions and many things are indirectly related to survival rationalizing a purpose or motive is usually not that much of a challenge in creating doctrine. But I believe that modernism, through technology and academic advancement, has been successful at the betterment of survival through mastery of nature but less so in the mastery improving innate human flaws. Thus the advancement of global survivability has not been necessarily advanced due to dictators with nukes, for example. BTW, this will be Thomas Friedman’s next column if he has not already written it.

    POMO, realizing this possible failure in modernism, gives more weight to the goals of subjectively enhancing humanity. Hear the rules for objective rationalization are wide open. The danger I fear is that one falls into the trap of valuing anything that is cool, like getting Kylie Jenner’s autograph. I think there is a place for fun and coolness must it must be given a deference to objective advances.

    The first triplet in Pi is 555 at digits 202-204. The first 00 is about twice that. A hex-tuple 9 appears very early, before a triple of quadruple 9. Quite irrational. http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/~huberty/math5337/groupe/digits.html
    Just like the sqr root of 2 http://www.nerdparadise.com/math/reference/2sqrt10000

    My personal hunch is that both entropy and the arrow of time can trace their origins to the irrationality, and thus reversibility, of the square root of 2 and Pi.

  97. Ron Graf says:

    I meant the irrationality, and thus irreversibility… creates arrow of time and entropy.

  98. Steven Mosher says:

  99. Willard says:

    The construction of Jordan Peterson:

    Don’t click on the link and look at the image shown, if like me you can’t suffer Jordan’s voice for more than ten seconds.

  100. Willard says:

    Hmmm. Seems teh Scott doesn’t appreciate when his fan base mentions Jordan.

    It takes two to tango, unless:

  101. Ron Graf says:

    Steven, thanks for the video. I had no idea that POMO was an “insidious cult” infecting the western world since the failure of Marxist doctrine. I’m not sure many people know this battle is going on save for some humanities professors. I personally think Jordan’s is off the mark, and his counter-argument is guilty of the same oversimplification that he accuses POMO of.

    Jordan says liberals are not selling responsibility, only rights. This is not exactly true. Liberals believe in AmeriCorps and other service. And, of course they would claim they support responsible sustainable industry (versus irresponsible industry).

    The only thing I see Jordan say that fundamentally separates POMO is it’s lack of appreciation (gratitude) toward modern western-ism in general and capitalism in particular. Jordan sees POMO as being just the spoiled reaction of a insolent child needing to justify its self-indulgence by amplifying and denouncing parents for their imperfections. But although Jordan is correct and there is some natural immaturity, there is also a benefit. Establishments have been challenged and forced to evolve. We have seen the civil rights, women’s and LGBTQ movements as well as foreign policy doctrine experimentation. Challenge is good.

    POMO also seems to be more aware that human advancement needs to be driven by people and people are driven by search for meaning and pure technical science per se can be cold and devoid of meaning. Who wants to listen to computer generated music? Why do people pay huge sums to go to live concerts to hear 70-year-old musicians named Paul and Ringo?

    If greater society casts off religion for its source of doctrinal direction for the “big why” questions it must be replaced by something. Why? Because survival and selection are no longer fuel for the engine of evolution. Now that mankind has conquered nature evolution needs to be driven by inspiration coupled with technology. If POMO becomes anti-future then it just serves as an escape, just slightly less destructive then self-intoxication. Judeo-Christianity worked because it ennobled the responsibility to press forward and provided faith to instill courage to do so.

  102. Willard says:

    RonG,

    POMO is not a thing that lacks gratitude, shows awareness or is anti-anything. It’s a framework that has given us works with peculiar styles of conceptual analysis. But the styles and the attitudes of POMOers do not POMO make. One does not simply do POMO by worshiping the Foucault, Deleuze or Derrida father figures.

    Jordan exploits billions upon billions of strawmen. There’s no “marxist doctrine.” There’s no such thing as “cultural marxism.” (The latter comes straight from Freedom Fighters Twitter feeds, BTW.) He’s basically adapting good ol’ reactionary claptraps for the Pepe generation.

    Besides, Jordan might need to revise his formal logic:

  103. Steven Mosher says:

    “Don’t click on the link and look at the image shown, if like me you can’t suffer Jordan’s voice for more than ten seconds.”

    I watched that piece a while ago.

    field tested truth.

  104. Steven Mosher says:

    RON
    you will get a better sense of POMO from willard.

    but dont see POMO as a set of beliefs. It’s not.

    For example, all my leftist friends loved to watch the deconstruction of a right wing position.
    then came the turn
    using deconstruction against leftist texts.
    that’s when they started yelling fascist and went dumpster diving in the past of heidegger and DeMan

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/03/24/the-de-man-case

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